You may know of Warrior banners in a few different lights. The big, glowy circle that raises a keep lord just in the nick of time to: a) Save your keep ("Yay, I love banners!") or b) Stop you from capturing an enemies keep (&*$#@! OP banners!"). Another way you might know of them is the "Hey, I just hit my button to pick up some loot, and now my weapon abilities have disappeared and I have a stupid flag stuck to my hand!"
Ah Yes, but it is a magic flag! Your weapon abilities may have moved temporarily, but they have been replaced by some that can come in very handy in different situations. You're thinking, "I don't have time to learn a bunch of some other classes abilities that I may use once in a blue moon." You're in luck! Four of the five abilities are the same across all the different banners. Only the number 2 skill changes from banner to banner.
Let's take a look at the various abilities that our magic flag possesses.
Number 1 skill - Stab: A melee attack that I rarely use. It does however try to answer the age old Monty Python question, "What about pointed sticks?" For reference - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piWCBOsJr-w
Number 2 skill - This is the one that differs from banner to banner, you don't HAVE to remember what each one does. When in doubt just hit 2 before you drop the banner and you have the chance to cast a helpful AOE buff or heal for the group.
A quick breakdown of the different banners: The Purple flag with the Book - casts a small AOE heal with a short health regen. The Green flag with the Circles - casts AOE Fury, giving a 20% bonus to critical chance. The Fancy Glowy Reddish Brown flag - casts AOE Stability. The Reddish Brown flag with the Sword - Hit an enemy and inflict Vulnerability, increasing their damage taken. The Orange flag with the Shield - AOE Knockback. If there's a banner just sitting there, and you're waiting on a cooldown or something. Grab it, smack 2 and drop it. Boom, you just became a healer or a buffer while leaving all that room in your build for more... destructive (Fun!) abilities.
Number 3 skill - Inspire: "Tired of lagging behind the group and being at the mercy of guardians and mesmers with their fancy glowy fields just to keep up?" If you don't have a handy Swiftness ablity in your build, ask a friendly warrior to drop a banner for you before traveling. This ability casts an AOE Swiftness on a fairly short 15 second cooldown. Not only do you free yourself, you free all of your slow-footed brethren from the tyranny of glowy fields. Viva la Resistance!
Number 4 skill - Sprint: A charge forward or towards an enemy target. Useful for traveling quickly or getting into the thick of the fight. A couple of quick pointers: If you are using the banner to escape from a hostile situation, be sure you don't have an enemy behind you targeted or you will sprint heroically to your death back into the teeth of the angry mob. When used for traveling, make sure you are pointed in the direction you wish to go and not off a cliff or the side of a bridge. Although, you will look quite gallant as the banner streams behind you when you plummet to your death.
Number 5 skill - Plant Standard: Sticks the banner back in the ground. Useful for re-enacting the claiming of the New World. It is also a blast finisher! It does have a short animation. So, if you just wish to be rid of the stupid magic flag, use your weapon swap button to drop it immediately. ("Yay, a way for Elementalists to use their weapon swap key that actually swaps weapons!")
Another couple things to remember is that the ability cooldowns are per person, not per banner. So the banners can be passed around the group ("But officer, it's just a magic stick."; "Sure, sure. That's what they all say. Come along quietly, please.") You can then stack buffs and Swiftness on friends or Vulnerability on a foe, or have a stream of AOE heals and regen going off. Most abilities have about a 1 second cast time.
TLDR version: Weapon Swap button - Bye bye stupid flag; Button 2 - AOE buff or heal, or something; Button 3 - AOE go fast
TLDR further reading: Button 1 - Wave flag; Button 4 - CHARGE!; Button 5 - Blast finisher
I just wanted to share the joy of my hobby of furiously waving banners about, while being my version of humorous. Because, if I don't laugh. I might start crying.;)
If you found the above to be in any way informative... it's not my fault.