I tried writing a post to mirror Zubon’s great post on elementalists, but I seem incapable of writing “guides”. I write more how I feel since I usually ignore things like builds, micromanaging stats, etc. in the actual game anyway. Here’s how I feel about a class I have spent 95% of my Guild Wars 2 time playing.
In the open world, I am a cockroach tank spreading diseases at my whim. I laugh as the crippled enemy finally gets up to my face weakened from the burden of my conditions to get a single hit off me before bleeding out their life. I snatch that orb of life away never having moved from my spot. With my health and extra Death Shroud lifebar, I feel impervious in all but the most perilous situations. I see allies drop against the Claw of Jormag, and I still stand.
Then a greatsword warrior runs up to a nearby enemy and appears to drop it in a quarter of the time it takes me. Snicker-snack. I can’t help but feel jealous.
I have tried traiting to power and precision, a glass cannon build, but a condition-based necromancer has no cannon. I have heard from power-statted necromancers using axes and daggers that we will never have cannon. We are entropy, which is a slow, steady progress. We are sustained damage. A necromancer will never feel that moment of glee of a greatsword warrior slamming in to a group. A necromancer only gets the feeling of certainty.
I feel like I become a catalyst in dungeons. I do not heal as well as a ranger or elementalist. I do not deal as much damage as most other classes, but I can make everybody else’s job easier. Crippling, weakening, poisoning, fearing, and chilling enemies are all easily within my power. I love that in doing my job I am also continually damaging the enemies without really thinking about it. They continue to bleed.
My cockroach tank also comes in to play really well here too. If I gain the attention of the denizens I don’t feel fear. I know that they will have to push through significant pain to get near me. Then I don’t mind if they take a small chunk of my 25,000+ life bar. I have another in reserve.
Sometimes I fill the room with minions to add more meat to our party. Sometimes I add wells to add more area-of-effect abilities to the group. Usually I am focusing on creating a massive burden on the enemy. It is offensive support. In small group events, this is where I feel most useful.
I don’t know what I am doing here. Minions are worthless. There are so many ways to remove conditions through group effects. I just try and add some small hurdles for the enemy to overcome. I don’t feel as synergetic as I do in dungeons where we go toe-to-toe with creatures accepting of death.
My two face cards (not even sure if they are aces) are Epidemic and Spectral Grasp. Epidemic spreads conditions around like crazy, which can be amazing against a zerg. Any nearby enemy elementalist or guardian seems to reduce that hurt pretty quickly, but it is still a great way to spread the necromancer’s love. Spectral Grasp can be hard to utilize, but when it slowly reaches out and pulls an enemy in to my line… well that enemy is going to get swarmed down in an instant. I consider it my one “kill spell” in WvW. It is also great for pulling enemies off walls.
In small wolf-packs, I try to spread chaos. Dropping marks here, wide-area cripples there, then transforming in to a lich to see them scatter like mice. Like dungeons, I feel like I am support, but with the wide battlefield I don’t feel as useful. The tide seems to turn too quickly, and I am left standing knowing that it is unlikely that I can produce a killing blow.
I’ve not yet experienced much of the other PvP mode in Guild Wars 2 with a necromancer. I hear that our Lich Form elite is really scary, and we have a great bunker build where we hold down a control point. That’s about it though. In tournaments, necromancers seem to be a pretty handy support slot to have. Of course with only 5 slots to fill, and 8 professions, the necromancer still has to fight for the slot. Mesmers share some of the same role, but they shine much brighter.
Here’s my wishlist.
First, I want the team to be forced to play with minions for a week and make necessary fixes. Minions are so worthless most of the time it’s not even worth a laughable sigh. ArenaNet took so much time in beta to make sure ranger pets responded well; I don’t understand why my minions stand around half the time looking at me fighting a creature. This seems especially true for my flesh golem (elite) and “free” jagged horror that I must endure dying in front of me every 30 seconds.
Second, increase tagging and event participation for necromancers. As an “attrition-based” class, my damage has to ramp up. I don’t get 1-3k greatsword hits. I get a 300 damage hit with a 400 damage bleed. It feels that during group events with lots of mobs that even when I am AoE skeeting left and right, I am not tagging mobs very well. I’ve noticed that I have to induce at least two scepter hits to tag a mob. This is coupled with the bleed cap where necromancers are fighting necromancers for gold event awards.
Third, include at least a portion of our condition damage against destructible objects. This is just a tiring fallacy. I can’t crit destructible objects and most of my “attrition-based” damage is simply ignored.
After that I feel it is more small bug fixing and massaging. We need more viable offensive builds, but I think we are close to some. It appears that the attrition-based conditiomancer is well regarded, but it feels like that is all we have.
I love my necromancer. I love the feeling of certainty, but I am also very envious of all the power welded by other classes. I do feel like that emo-class in the corner lashing out with some snark occasionally. I don’t feel like I am part of the varsity team. Perhaps as an “attrition-based” class I never will. Perhaps I am the punching bag that tries to tire out the boxer. My two alts are a warrior and a thief who will be traited for power and precision respectively so I hope I get a completely different perspective on my necromancer from playing those two.
What I do know is that standing in one spot watching a zombie crawl towards me while bleeding profusely and dropping at my feet right as it tries to strike me never gets old. It makes me feel invincible, even if it takes a while.