This is a great spec for beginning elementalist players. It definitely has the potential to perform (especially the Signet build) and can fill an amazing tank role in a group (properly played you can be incredibly difficult to take down as you have amazing condition removal and can dodge twice as much as a normal player). The reason I say it is great for beginning Ele players is that the main damage is mostly automated (do auto-attacks in Earth attunement). This frees the player to think about positioning, mobility, and attunement shifting. It’s also less discouraging if you have so many outs (in the Cantrip build) and die less. Once the player is comfortable with shifting attunements they can branch out into the harder Signet-based Condition Scepter/Dagger spec to focus even more on control or other direct damage specs/different weapons that require a bit more coordination in the comboing of offensive abilities to deal damage. Read on for full details…
Edit: Due to changes in the trait trees and GW2Tools going down the links to the builds before are now broken. I’ve tried to update them with a BWE #3 compatible trait tree but it won’t play exactly the same as this post details due to some of the changes in where traits are.
BWE #3 Compatible Builds:
This spec focuses on the Condition damage effects (bleeds and burns) applied by the Elementalist’s Scepter mainhand. I use the dagger in my offhand for increased mobility and control. For gearing in the video I used Condition Damage/Precision/Toughness runes/jewels with the Runes of the Lich set for armor.
- Fire attunement (damage the first):
- Flamestrike – Your basic attack, applies a short burn. Not great since the burn lasts such a short duration but it’s something. Useful mostly for setting up burn for Fire Grab.
- Dragon’s Tooth – AoE damage with a short burn. Unfortunately it takes a long time to hit and cannot be ground targeted easily (it normally is centered on your target’s current position upon casting. You CAN cast it without a target with auto-target off and it’ll be at max range directly in front of you but it’s hard to ever do much with that.
- Phoenix – Main source of burst damage. Doesn’t hit terribly hard if you don’t gear for some power but can still hit up to 3 times if you aim it properly (as the bird passes through the target twice and the explosion) for decent damage. More importantly, provides you with Vigor for 10 seconds (+100% endurance regen aka twice the dodging capability) and clears your conditions.
- Ring of Fire – 5 seconds of burning to anyone standing in it. Also counts as a fire field (potentially you could drop it and switch to Earth to shoot fire at your enemy for more burning).
- Fire Grab – Your biggest burst – short melee range cone attack that does +50% damage to burning targets. Can be somewhat difficult to land if you’re not right on top of the enemy and facing just the right direction.
- Water attunement (your recovery):
- Ice Shards – Pretty trashy single target attack. Only saving graces are that it hits 3 times (3 chances to crit/proc a bleed) and that you can fire it while not facing your target.
- Shatterstone – Another hard to land AoE but at least this one you can ground target. Very short cooldown; damage is minimal but it applies 4 stacks of vulnerability for a long time (especially with all that condition duration). Use this for area denial when in water attunement or to debuff targets for your direct damaging allies to take advantage of.
- Water Trident – On demand moderate healing (with some damage if you want to use it for that). Heals for around 1500 with just the +200 compassion from the traits. Can be buggy when used at long range (triggers cooldown but no heal).
- Frost Aura – 7 second buff on self that makes any enemy (at any range) chilled when they attack you. Awesome when you’re being focused. Chill will stack in duration so especially useful against targets like Rangers using Rapid Fire or other Scepter Ele’s. Also an OK counter to Quickness (since they’ll attack faster and get chilled more but really you should try not to get hit if your enemy has quickness up…it hurts)
- Cleansing Wave – Another moderate heal (this one is PBAoE) that also removes conditions. Longish cooldown.
- Air Attunement (mobility):
- Arc Lightning – Mediocre without power backing it up. Does hit quickly though at least. Can be buggy when trying to use it on targets like windows/siege equipment (no damage).
- Lightning Strike – Quick cooldown instant damage. Won’t hit that hard in this spec but it doesn’t interrupt the Arc Lightning channel so use it anyway.
- Blinding Flash – Just a blind. Apparently can be used while stunned? (Haven’t tested myself).
- Ride the Lightning – AKA the coolest ability ever. Grants you tons of mobility. It’s designed as a gap closer (it’s a charge) but if you use it with no target you will go straight forward quite a distance (~1200 range). Note that any obstructions/terrain will get you stuck leaving you in the animation the full duration which isn’t that fun so use it carefully. Be careful to have Auto-target off… you don’t want to charge a random box or enemy when you’re trying to get away.
- Updraft – AoE knockback right in front of you. I mean RIGHT in front of you, get close. Will also knock you backwards but you at least get a swiftness buff. Great for knocking enemies away from downed folks you want to finish/revive or just to get some space away from a melee. I like to combo this with Ride the Lightning to get in there and knock people about when they’re doing their thing.
- Earth Attunement ( your mainstay):
- Stone Shards – Autoattack will by default apply 3 stacks of a 6 second bleed. Also is a projectile combo finisher (can fire it through stuff for a 20% chance of triggering a cross-profession combos). With the duration equipment outlined above you can get up to a 3-stack of 9 second bleeds. Causes a small fountain of numbers to cascade out of your enemy’s head with liberal application.
- Rock Barrier – Gives you 250 toughness and then can be triggered again to launch up to 5 rocks at the enemy for moderate damage on a very quick cooldown. If you have some power in your gear you could potentially use this as mini-burst in Earth. Note that you’ll lose 50 of that toughness per rock you throw.
- Dust Devil – Linear AoE blind. Good especially if you aim it at a group of enemies. Also apparently a “Whirl” combo finisher? Hard to do it as a clutch blind since it has travel time (but you could maybe send it down a narrow path).
- Earthquake – AoE knockdown all around you with moderate damage. Your second method of stopping revievs/finishers or just all around messing people up.
- Churning Earth – Don’t bother casting it. Roots you in place and does no damage for 5 seconds (though it cripples enemies? Yay?) followed by 5 stacks of an 8 second bleed. You could do more with Stone Shards (unless I guess if there’s a ton of necromancer minions you want to hit… keep in mind it’ll only hit 5 targets anyway though).
By default I recommend the cantrips Cleaning Fire, Lightning Flash and Mist Form. However this is the most freeform part of the build. Choose the utilities that best suit your playstyle and fill the gaps in your play you want to fill the most.
I chose the Cantrips because they provide some incredible defensive potential. In fact, with this setup I likely could go Condition Damage/Power/Precision instead of Condition Damage/Toughness/Precision.
Keep in mind that if you DO change the utility skills you might consider tweaking the traits a bit. The only things you absolutely should not take out is Serrated Stones. The rest could potentially be changed but I feel that Renewing Stamina (if I’m attacking I can have near 100% uptime on Vigor giving me twice as much dodging potential as other people), Elemental Attunement, Healing ripple and Stop Drop and Roll are all REALLY useful to this build.
I like the Glyph of Elemental Harmony due to its quick cooldown and useful boons. The Signet of Restoration is VERY good however since it will proc its passive effect for every “cast” you see (e.g. 3 heals everytime you cast Stone Shards) rather than just once per button push. Sometimes the numbers overlap on your screen, but they are proccing multiple times. Signet of Restoration definitely needs Written in Stone though to be any good and puts a lot of pressure to also take Signet Mastery. At that point you probably want to tweak your cantrips to signets too since you have two traits buffing signets.
You end up with a build like this: http://www.gw2tools.com/skills#el;aapkk;aaaaaacdUgXaZea;Ybaa;YVgSZ which is definitely a great build but probably harder to play than the Cantrip one. That one is more offensive in nature. Loses a bit of condition damage from the lack of duration but that’s OK. You get on demand burn which is awesome and an immobilize which is also amazing. However it’ll be much harder to get out of the way.
The Glyph of Elementals is amazing. Depending on your attunement you can get:
- Fire – Huge damage (albeit squishy so be careful around smarter enemies)
- Water – Significant damage, Knockdowns, Chills, and big heals (Best one definitely)
- Earth – Damage and toughness. Can be used to tank the Forest of Niflhel bosses.
- Air – Damage and random stuns. Not sure how useful this is. The most fragile of all of them (at least mine seemed to die a lot). The stuns can be handy when you have someone really going nuts that you just want to lockdown, but not that reliable.
On the other hand if you chose Tornado while you’d look awesome and have some potential to do a lot of damage you A) make yourself a huge target instead of making another target for the enemy and B) you’re a huge target so people will probably get out of your way and you’ll just waste time spinning round and around.
There’s two ways you can go about it.
- The Turtle build:
- Condition Damage/Precision/Toughness amulet
- Maybe sub some condition damage for vitality if you feel like you want more room.
- Hits like a wet noodle with DD attacks but still strong bleeds and control
- The Bringeth it Build
- Precision/Power/Condition Damage amulet
- 233 less condition damage (bleeds will tick for ~12 less per tick)
- You have significantly (+580) higher POWER though so your phoenix/dragon tooth/fire grab all will hit decently hard. Even stone shards won’t be terrible damage. Also makes Air attunement way better
- 580 less toughness… don’t get hit!
Either way I recommend using the Runes of the Lich for the condition duration and vitality. (The Jagged Horror minions are amusing too)
Sigils – I used a 60% chance to apply bleed on crit on my scepter and a 10% increased bleed duration on my offhand. (Total +50% bleed duration and +20% general condition duration).
This is important: You want to try to get just enough Condition Duration to get an extra bleed tick on your main attack. With +50% you’ll get 9 ticks per Stone Shards bleed. That’s a lot of bleeding! If you don’t want to get 10 full points in Fire then note that you’ll only need 34% (well 33.3333% but 34% is as close as you can get) to get the 8th tick at least. Feel free to rearrange stuff as you wish but be aware of what you’re doing! Try for one threshold or the other.
Strengths/Weaknesses of the build (a bit of a recap):
- Great Mobility through Dagger abilities
- Very durable
- High dodge capacity through Vigor
- Innate toughness
- Recovery potential in Water attunement
- Either control with Signets or slipperiness with cantrips
- Steady damage (powerful against those who don’t have good condition removal or the glass cannon specs)
- Strong against other condition damage builds due to liberal condition removal (especially in Cantrips due to Cleansing Fire)
- Hard countered by good condition removal
- Caveat: bleeds come so fast that it has to be very regular to have much effect. Condition Removal cooldowns not so great; something like Stop Drop and Roll IS devastating though.
- Beware Engineers with Automated Response
- Minimal direct damage unless you go with the “Bringeth it” gear build.
- If you get caught with your cantrips down (or without cantrips in the Signet build) you can be in for a hurting.
- No good response to sustained ranged damage
- No reflections/immunities like with other Elementalist weapon sets.
- You have to use dodge and your terrain to survive against these (or get the drop on them).
- Big threats: glass cannon Rangers/Thieves with bows.
Thanks to guildmate Taugrim for trying the build out with me and giving me the tip about Signet of Restoration. Also thanks to Synyster Spirit for forcing me to figure out how to deal with glass cannon shortbow thieves (respect or get behind cover hahaha).