As a man who reguarlly plays vanguard, I tend to see a lot of my brethern swinging blindly.
The first and foremost task of a vanguard(or any class for that matter) is to know their weapon and to be able to use it to the fullest. Know the arch of your blade, know the reach of your spear, know the timing of your bardiche.
As a vanguard you can preform several roles which basicly boil down into 2 catagories. Offensive roles and Defensive roles.
Spearhead is what the vanguard was build to do. To charge into the enemy lines and start hacking, creating a gap or breach within their defence for the team to follow up on. With a vanguard up front under the cover of arrows, they can get that gap you need to fulfill the objective.
Flanking can be done by any class in theory(Some might argue MaA’s are the best for such tasks) but the vanguard charge landing down upon an unsuspecting group of enemies from the side or rear can be devestating.
Patchup duty is the most supportive role you can get, sticking with your teammates, shoulder to shoulder. Once the enemy turns tail to retreat or turns suspiciously red, go for the kill. Even if you won’t kill him you will at least sufficiently wound him for a quick follow up strike by your teammate.
Now for the defensive roles.
Lineman is exactly what it says on the tin. Hold the line at all costs. Best achieved with several vanguards or a vanguard + knightshield combo. Using your reach to keep the enemy away from the objective.
Counter Charge is best done by sword-vanguards. When the enemy leads a charge for the objective, counter that charge. If you’re alone, sure you’ll die horribly, but if you are not completely incompetent, you at least killed one and wounded another.
Area Negation comes into play when you need a narrow breach locked down, or a larger area manned. Not always the most exciting of jobs, since it might take a while for an enemy to come prodding for the soft underbelly of the turtle which is your team, but to find a shiv striking back usually deters them. Areas a vanguard could cover would be the side enterance of Hillside. The low path to the balistas on Hillside. The gates to the throneroom on Stoneshill.
Now back to the questions asked.
1. I want my vanguards to be breachers and patch up crew.
2. I enjoy being a lineman or part of the patch up crew. I’m generally supportive of teammates(covering them, guarding them from attacks, striking after an enemy has parrier their attack)
3. Counter charge and Lineman.
4. See above.