The Guardian

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The Guardian
Added in Afterbirth
Challenge number
Isaac App.png
HUD Red Heart.pngHUD Red Heart.pngHUD Red Heart.png
Blindfolded App.png Blindfolded
Starting Items
Holy Grail Holy Grail
Isaac's Heart Isaac's Heart
Punching Bag Punching Bag
Afterbirth-exclusive content Spear of Destiny Spear of Destiny
Available rooms
Item Pool Treasure Room.png: no          Item Pool Shop.png: yes
Boss Mom's Heart.png / Boss It Lives.png
Blank Rune Afterbirth-exclusive content Blank Rune
Unlocked by
The Guardian Afterbirth-exclusive content Defeat Mom for the 1st time

The Guardian is a new challenge added in The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth. Isaac starts Blindfolded, with Punching Bag, Isaac's Heart, Holy Grail, and Spear of Destiny. Your goal is to defeat Mom's Heart or It Lives. Isaac's Heart will follow the Punching Bag instead of Isaac.

Difficulty[edit | edit source]

The main difficulty of this challenge stems from the fact that Isaac's health is damaged when the Punching Bag is hit for any reason (a la Isaac's Heart), and that the Punching Bag will move of its own unpredictable accord, severely hindering the player's agency in avoiding damage. This makes The Guardian one of the tougher challenges in the game.

Note since it's the Punching Bag who takes damage, and it doesn't have flight, the Punching Bag is not immune to spikes and creep as Isaac's Heart would be. The lack of Treasure Rooms and tears only further compounds to the difficulty, to the point where certain rooms and bosses, which can be normally completed without taking damage, may now guarantee substantial amount of unavoidable damage. For example, Red Champion Mom is almost impossible to clear as she will always target Punching Bag.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

You should follow a general priority in which enemies to kill: enemies that run towards you, followed by exploding enemies, followed by enemies with piercing shots (i.e. Enemies that fire Brimstone shots), followed by enemies that fire regular shots. Remember that Isaac himself is invincible, allowing you to "body-block" shots flying towards the heart.

Rooms containing Mom's Hand are almost impossible to clear (because the Punching Bag is incapable of dodging them), and should be skipped whenever possible. Bombs can be used to skip these rooms by bombing doors open.

Finding or buying The Bible makes the challenge a lot easier, allowing Isaac to instantly kill both Mom and Mom's Heart.

As the red champion version of Mom is nearly impossible to get past normally, a lot of Health, The Wafer, or Chaos Card are necessary.

Spend as little time as possible in rooms with spikes, because there's a high chance the Punching Bag will walk into them stupidly.

Orbitals are extremely useful for this challenge, since most of them deal a good amount of damage on direct contact. Items such as Sacrificial Dagger are your best source of damage. Health is also important to make up for unnecessary damage, as is Speed to protect your Heart more effectively. Also, pick up the Humbling Bundle for its double Red Hearts.

You can use the spear's fear effect to your advantage and force bosses and mini-bosses away from Punching Bag. This is especially effective against bosses that chase Punching Bag, such as Gemini or Lust.

If you are not too concerned with time or score and just want the unlock, Placenta is a good item to get as well since it can regenerate your health. A much, much slower way can be done by obtaining Mysterious Candy, which randomly spawns Poops. By destroying the Poops, you can eventually spawn a lot of Half Red Hearts and Soul Hearts.

The Breath of Life can be extremely helpful in completing this challenge. As you technically have Isaac's Heart, you will not take damage for holding spacebar indefinitely, while doing so will make you completely immune to damage. You still can be hurt while the charge bar is still depleting after you enter the room, but it does make things easier, especially with bosses, and allows you to explore rooms with hazards such as spikes without having to worry that the Punching Bag will wander into them.

It should be noted that you can transform into Guppy during this challenge, however you do not get the visual change that accompanies the transformation. All of the effects, including the generation of flies, are active. The Spear of Destiny does not seem to generate flies, however familiars and items that generate tears, such as Tammy's Head and Incubus, will generate flies.

Obtaining Blood Rights basically wins the challenge as you can run into a room and repeatedly use the item without you taking any damage while annihilating everything inside.

Having a second player join in makes the game significantly easier. A co-op baby has it's own Spear of Destiny and is not blindfolded so is able to shoot tears as normal. The co-op baby doesn't take damage because of Isaac's Heart.

Obtaining Athame allows you to activate the black brimstone ring without taking damage, which would make cleaning a room a lot easier, and spawn more Black heart.

Obtaining The Virus allows you to inflict poison upon enemies without taking damage and get Black Hearts sometimes after killing enemies.

Familiars such as Lil Brimstone, The Relic, Dark Bum, Little C.H.A.D., Added in Afterbirth Incubus, and Succubus (especially when combined with BFFS!) will make the challenge easier.

One Makes You Small pills can make the challenge much more difficult, as the decreased hitbox makes it harder to block the Punching Bag from attacks.

Book of Shadows also makes the challenge significantly easier as it can be activated in order to prevent Isaac's Heart from taking any damage for 10 seconds.

Because of Isaac's Heart, you can enter Curse Rooms without taking damage.

Duct Tape also makes the challenge harder, as Isaac's Heart will follow you instead, resulting in two hitboxes.

Reward[edit | edit source]

SmallIsaac.png The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth SmallIsaac.png

MainPageAchievements.png Achievements MainPageAttributes.png Attributes MainPageBosses.png Bosses TarotCard.png Cards and Runes MainPageChallenges.png Challenges MainPageChapters.png Chapters
Isaac App.png Characters MainPageBabies.png Co-op Magic Mushroom Icon.png Items Isaac's Tears Icon.png Item Pools MainPageMonsters.png Monsters MainPageObjects.png Objects
Red heart.png Pickups BlueBlue.png Pills MainPageRooms.png Rooms MainPageSeeds2.png Seeds Guppy App.png Transformations The Left Hand Icon.png Trinkets
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