A guard is a type of NPC that protects towns, cities, and certain roads within their territory. Most guards in major cities will answer questions about the city they protect if interacted with, guiding players to various useful locations. While guards will sometimes attack nearby mobs, their true function is to guard against players of the opposing faction, or in some cases to attack any player tagged for PvP.
Guards in levelling areas are often several levels higher than other NPCs in the area, and are usually far stronger than player characters questing at that level, allowing them to defeat most attackers easily. Guards in critical levelling points such as the starting areas are usually at or above max level, giving them an insurmountable advantage over levelling players. Despite this, guards are usually vulnerable to attacks from max level players, whose high level and superior gear can allow them to defeat even groups of guards with ease.
Guards may be stationary or patrolling, and will respawn faster than most NPCs if killed. Guards can also be spawned through NPCs sighting enemy players. Guards on PvP servers are weaker than those on PvE servers and take longer to respawn, since players on these servers are typically more open to cross-faction combat.
Each faction with a capital city has a race-specific guard. Major cities each have three elite named guards, except the cities introduced in World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade: Exodar and Silvermoon City. In addition, each race has a different kind of guard.
- 1 Combat
- 2 Notes
- 3 Alliance
- 4 Horde
- 5 Other
- 6 Guard organizations in the lore
- 7 Patch changes
- 8 References
From a lore perspective, guards defend their posts against a range of threats, from gnolls and murlocs to Horde and Alliance warriors, and generally serve to keep the peace in the towns and cities. As far as gameplay is concerned, most guards serve a much simpler purpose: to attack players of the enemy faction on sight.
Guards are permanently tagged for PvP combat and will automatically attack players of the enemy faction as soon as they come in range, regardless of whether PvP is enabled on the player, or the type of realm. Attacking a guard (as with any enemy NPC) automatically tags a player for PvP combat. The Territory is under attack! message will appear in the enemy faction's Local Defense chat box.
Because of their level advantage, guards usually do a decent job of preventing griefers from killing questgivers and other critical NPCs. However, max level players can still dispatch most guards with ease. Killing guards does not count as an Honorable Kill or award any , making attacking guards pointless for most purposes. Guards do serve as valid combat targets for players assaulting enemy cities and faction leaders, although such groups usually use flying mounts to circumnavigate most guards.
Guards also at times attack hostile creatures that come nearby. This can sometimes be used to the player's advantage, such as running towards guards when a mob is about to kill the player. However, mobs killed by guards will not award experience or loot to the player, even if the guard's contribution was unnecessary or unwanted; players should therefore fight away from friendly guards if possible, unless in need of assistance. Note also that the behaviour of guards towards mobs is unpredictable, and relying on their help can sometimes result in the player dying to a mob well within town walls, while the nearby guards stare happily on.
If a player gets close to an NPC in an opposing faction's town the NPC will often call out for help, which will spawn 1-3 guards immediately. The spawned guards' levels are often higher than that of the other normal guards that are there by default. The extra spawned guards disappear after some time.
Guards in neutral towns like Gadgetzan serve neither Alliance nor Horde, but are interested only in settling fights and keeping the peace - which they aim to achieve through killing any PvP-flagged player that comes within range. These guards will happily assault both attacker and victim alike, regardless of which player started the fight; the only protection against this is to take great care not to use any hostile ability or deal any damage to the attacker. Note that certain defensive abilities have built-in damage-dealing components, making this easier said than done.
- Guards in all major cities and starting areas also serve as guides and offer directions to points of interest. The only exception to this is Dalaran, which has no normal guards; local wizards instead offer directions.
- Towns protected by human guards (similar to Stormwind Guard):
Northshire, Goldshire, Lakeshire, Nijel's Point, Southshore (wears town tabard)
- Towns protected by other types of militia:
Darkshire (Night Watch), Hillsbrad (Hillsbrad Footman), Sentinel Hill (Westfall Brigade), Refuge Pointe (Refuge Pointe Defender), Stromgarde (Stromgarde Defender, Stromgarde Cavalryman), Tiragarde Keep (Northwatch Expeditionary Unit), Theramore (Theramore Guard - not affiliated with Stormwind)
Their uniqueness comes from their shields, and that they can improve their chance to block.
- Towns protected by Mountaineers:
Anvilmar, Kharanos, Thelsamar
Their uniqueness comes from their ability to use storm clap.
Some mountaineers can also shoot in addition to their melee attacks.
Gnomeregan Exiles (Gnome)
None as of patch 2.4.1
Darnassus (Night elf)
- Towns protected by Sentinels:
Aldrassil, Dolanaar, Auberdine, Astranaar, Feathermoon Stronghold
- Menethil Harbor — Sentry/Elite
Towns protected by Grunts: Valley of Trials, Razor Hill, Splintertree Post, Zoram'gar Outpost, Hammerfall, Kargath
Their uniqueness is that they use a two handed weapon and enrage.
Darkspear Trolls (Troll)
Towns protected by Watchers: Sen'jin Village, Shadowprey Village
Thunder Bluff (Tauren)
Towns protected by Braves: Bloodhoof Village, Camp Narache, Shadowprey Village, Ghost Walker Post, Sun Rock Retreat, Freewind Post, Camp Mojache
Towns protected by Deathguards: Deathknell, Brill, Sepulcher, Tarren Mill
Their uniqueness is their abominations, which have plague cloud, a buff which regularly damages foes around them.
Silvermoon (Blood elf)
Towns Protected By Guardians: the Falconwing Square of western Silvermoon City, Fairbreeze Village, Tranquillien, Sunstrider Isle
Their uniqueness is that the model of their guards is unique compared to other blood elves.
- Cenarion Circle — Warden (Moonglade), Cenarion Hold Infantry — They protect Cenarion Hold, Nighthaven, Cenarion Refuge and Evergrove.
- Steamwheedle Cartel — Bruiser — They protect Ratchet, Booty Bay, Everlook, Gadgetzan and Steamwheedle Port. Notably, they have a net, and a gun (which cannot be put away) that knocks back.
- Argent Dawn — Argent Defender, Argent Sentry — They protect Light's Hope Chapel and more can be found at Chillwind Camp and the Bulwark.
- Wildhammer Clan — Wildhammer Sentry
- B.O.O.M — Agent, Area 52 Big Bruiser — They protect the town of Area 52.
- The Sha'tar — Shattrath City Peacekeeper, Vindicator
- The Aldor — Vindicator, Aldor Neophyte
- The Scryers — Arcane Guardian
- The Consortium — Stormspire Nexus-Guard
- The Protectorate — Protectorate Defender, Protectorate Vanguard
Guard organizations in the lore
- Patch 1.7.0 (2005-09-22): Casting spells on your pets and summons will no longer cause guards in neutral towns to attack you.
- Patch 1.6.0 (2005-07-12): You no longer stay in combat while guards are assisting you.