[GW2] Mesmer Metagame

One profession in Guild Wars 2 is the direct descendant of its ancestor in the original Guild Wars. The warrior now has significant ranged weapon mastery. The elementalist became one of the most versatile on-the-fly professions. The ranger got blended with Pokemon, and the necromancer decided to turn into a plague-bearing cockroach with friends that don’t decay as fast. Nope, it’s the freshly officialized mesmer.

Oh, you say, the mesmer lost hexes and interrupts. They make copies of themselves, for Kormir’s sake. It is the most different, you say! Yet, I would say the mesmer didn’t change. It was the battleground that changed.

The mesmer is the master of the fourth wall. It attacks mechanics and people as much as it attacks computer controlled NPCs. In the original Guild Wars the mesmer’s strongest tools were hexes and interrupts. The hexes didn’t just do something like the necromancer’s degen, they forced the player to act or not. Wastrel’s Worry was a fun one that forced a player to choose within three seconds whether to become an ally-killing AoE or to fire off a skill at a bad time. Empathy simply harms warriors that cannot quit attacking. Very fun if you see one Frenzy.

Then there were the interrupts, which in PvP became a game unto themselves. A mesmer’s interrupted target would lose the energy for casting the spell, eat a cooldown for a now uncasted spell, and sometimes take another swift kick to the nethers as an added bonus. Players would start fake casting their own spells as a way to try and outplay the mesmer. If the target could cancel the spell before an interrupt hit, the mesmer would waste the interrupt. Huzzah, metagame! Jon “More Celebrity than Johanson” Peters says this is the mesmer controlling resources in the best mesmer interview. I call it a mindf….well, anybody ever interrupted by a mesmer will know.

Oh, Guild Wars 2, how the game has changed. No more skill monitors, no more energy, no more hexes, and no little red dots on the mini-radar everybody liked to watch. The resource is now: your eyeballs and the mesmer is going to yank those jellies out and make you wish all you had was red dots to monitor. ArenaNet rephrases and reiterates so many times that they want players to watch the action. Not a row of healthbars. Not some carefully monitored mana bar. And, no, not those little red dots.

So, that’s what the mesmer now attacks. It can hide parties. It can throw out a new condition that combines Empathy and Backfire into one neat package (remember no more auto-attack). Oh, and it can copy itself. See that lonely mesmer in WvW? Now there’s three. Four? Wait, one just disappeared. And, just when you think you found the real mesmer after pushing through all the pain, it shatters in your face causing even more, well pain. (And, in case you are sick of them breaking enough rules, they can cast over their own spells with Mantras too.)

Jonathan “Also a Celebrity” Sharp pre-emptively attacks the biggest issue with the resource-conquering mesmer. Will it be the profession that once again is one of the best in PvP, and fail so hard in PvE? From the aforesaid best mesmer interview:

In our game, you can still do the support. You can call up a chaos storm with your staff that puts up random conditions on foes and random boons on allies. You can still support in that way. In Guild Wars 1, we found that while the class was great in PvP, a lot of times in PvE it had a really hard time. We designed the mechanics with the illusions so that the mesmer on their own in the world of PvE is still very effective.

They’re able to take care of themselves, deal out damage, and also support allies. And you’ve still got the control that you had from the first game. You’ve still got the stuns and the dazes. Those act as interrupts in our game. You can still interrupt key skills from opponents. You’ve still got all of those things that you had from the first game in addition to being able to do damage on your own if you need to.

Sharp also makes sure to add that the mesmer, like many of the professions, has a low entry-point for casual players, but it has an incredibly high skill ceiling. For example, Peters also suggests that good mesmers learn to move like copies in Question 22. So the best mesmers will confuse you personally, make you wish you could stop pressing skill “1”, and move like robots.

we’re done here

14 thoughts on “[GW2] Mesmer Metagame”

  1. That sounds… pretty doggone cool, actually. I never did really dig into Mesmers in GW1. My loss, I guess.

    1. Empathy is also very effective on a barraging ranger.
      And I love putting backfire on a monk and watching him heal himself to death. A mesmer that fails in PVP is poorly played mesmer. I hate PVP.

  2. I think you missed an important quote about the entry level vs high skill level mesmer.

    “… the nice thing about a daze is that a bad player using it still gets the blackout portion of it, but a great player can get the interrupt out of it as well.”

    GW2 is designed with many multiple effect skills. Beginning players will get use out of every skill, but advanced players will take advantage of stacking, chaining and combo-ing multiple effects and effects from different skills.

    Also of interest from the GW2 guru IRC:

    Can you give a few examples of Mesmer Elite Skills?
    -One elite allows you to transform a foe into a moa bird for a short time. They have moa bird skills while in this form, just to add insult to injury. : )
    Can you elaborate on the moa skills?
    Peck, kick, screech. You get the picture!

  3. I don’t believe the ‘no hexes’ line, they’ve just reworked them to have a more obvious and have a visible component, as well as being easier to dispel. Though, I do think they have improved the ‘hex’ mechanic on the original game.

    ‘Confusion’ is a hex by another name, except it can be removed the same as all other conditions, and it’s no longer all or nothing, one application might be tolerable but 3 or 4 may begin to really hurt.

    Phantasms are visible manifestions of some of the old hex spells, one called ‘backfire’ does damage whenever the target uses a skill. The phantasms can be attacked and destroyed so anyone can get rid of the offending illusions rather than dedicating a slot to hex removal.

    On the whole I’m pleased with how the mesmer turned out, love the new illusion/shatter mechanic, and the tricksy things like the confusion that can be created by Leap/Illusionary Leap, the duality of that cripple/speed barrier. The aesthetics are great too, though the ‘chaotic energies’ are a little OTT.

  4. You convey the beautiful frustration and manipulation of the mesmer wonderfully ^_^ I also thought something similar upon reading through the profession reveal – different abilities, different opponents, different setting, but you still get to be a sadistic bastard putting your enemies in impossible predicaments. That is, after all, the fun of it.

  5. A Mesmer character was the last of the 10 professions I played in the original Guild Wars. I wont make that mistake again in Guild Wars 2! :)

  6. Interesting…

    As a long-time Mesmer player though, I will disagree with the opinion that in PvE Mesmers underperformed.

    The main issue with mesmers was that they looked like they were doing f#$% all, when in reality they had the group of mobs with 5 stacked debuffs, while interrupting key casts (especially in Boss fights).

    That was the main complaint, especially when grouping up with other people. My guildmates just knew that the reason we had a pack that hit like wet noodles was the lone mesmer in the back. The pugs saw no flashy casting animations and pretty much dismissed you as useless.

    1. Well, it is not players not noticing, it is being pointless.

      Why interupt AOE if you can spread out? Why debuff enemy healer if you can focus on him and down him in seconds? Why let let foe live long enough to fry him on backfire?

      Problem with mesmers is that they are most powerfull if their own party is incompetent (which means letting most dangerous foes live long enough to be debuffed).

      Reason why “packs hits like wet noodles” in ideal party setup is because foe with most DPS was priority target with his next-best buddy following soon after.

      That is my complaint with mesmers: If party is doing great, mesmer should not have opportunity to contribute to party because raw damage takes care of priority targets and while is it cool that he is there to handle rest of the pack, that rest of the pack is composed of low-priority targets – which are not really attractive targets for mezing or compelling reason to fire powerfull mesmer skills.

      You can soften those unimportant targets instead with traditional punishment hexes or degen, but once important stuff is dead, they would be easy picking for rest of party anyway – especially considering splash damage from other players softening them up anyway.

      This is why GW2 Mesmer is attractive for me – it seems like it would not suffer from this problem.

      1. Have you been doing the elite areas?

        At least when I was going at them a couple years ago, having a pull being blind, bleeding, burning, with a Crack Armor and a Deep Wound made things so so so much easier and safer.

        And I don’t remember Boss healers being focused down in seconds and being killed either.

        Mesmers made bad parties bearable and good parties pretty damn amazing.

        1. Well, conditions you listed are nost something you take mesmer for (in fact, i would think you are talking about elementalist build not knowing you enjoy playing Fewered Dreams build) – that is what most of classes can do in AOE and it is something that other classes cause as collateral. Nice battle plan, but something like that should kinda be present in balanced party naturally, not costing character slot.

          I did not remember boss healers being focused down in seconds earlier, instead remembering how Willa the Unpleasant stalemated party for few minutes and how having mesmer cut that time down very noticeably. Well, recently taking new character through HM Ring of Fire with decent builds proved that she can indeed die in seconds. What was required for that was merely having party that is good at killing foes and which can focus fire. And I have similar experiences with most other “hard” bosses: If you come back as experienced player with nice setup, they come down smoothly.

          And talking about elite areas is not something we should do – they usually showcase meta builds that have little in common with how game is ordinarily played. But yes, completed all of them (of course). Main challenge is about overwhelming party with melee which can usually be dealt with nice AOE blind ir weakness or overwheling with casters which is matter of spreading out and running our of AOE.

      1. Haha, this is so true. Mesmers were marketed as subtle manipulators. They probably made them TOO subtle though.

        Which is why I like the new direction of the profession in GW2. I really hope we keep out Wardrobe Superiority though. Playing dress-up with the Mesmer was a Metagame in itself!

  7. Guild Wars 2 is completely different from Guild Wars from what I’ve seen. I liked the first one alot, but now that I bought it and am playing it again for the first time in years it seems really stale. Can’t wait for GW2 :)

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