Friday, January 25, 2013

Keepin' it Fresh - GW2 Dual Sword Mesmer Build

So it's been a few weeks since my last post.  Three, to be exact, but that's not for lack of something to write.   There have been a ton of exciting news announcements and things going on - especially with respect to Guild Wars 2 - I've just been too tired to lazy to get off my duff and write about them.  And too, I was feeling a bit of gamer malaise.  I took some time off from Guild Wars 2, just because I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do next with Syrene - my level 80 mesmer.  But after dabbling in a few other games, I came back, and came to the realization I'd been playing this scepter & sword phantasm build for like - forever.  Maybe it was time to change things up a bit.

Changing up your build from time to time is a good idea for a couple of reasons.  First, it does indeed freshen things up a bit.  The selection of weapons and traits that you choose for your character in Guild Wars 2 don't just define the abilities you have at your disposal - they define an entire playstyle.  You can go from being a back line aoe casting support character to an up front in your face damage dealing whirlwind.  In fact one of the reasons I chose the mesmer to continue to play is that I felt like of the three level 80's I'd developed, for me she felt like the one most able to take on a variety of roles.  Well it was time to put that to the test.

Another reason it's a good idea is that it can give you a new appreciation for the build your currently playing. After doing the same 'ol thing for the past three months you are probably starting to wonder - is this it?  Maybe there's something better?  Try on some new weapons and a different playstyle for a bit and you quite likely might come back to your original playstyle going Hey this really is the best playstyle for me - I really do like this weapon selection!

The Numbers
So I thought I'd talk about the numbers first for just a bit, and then talk about how she feels.  Here's my current build:

Syrene's Phantasm Build

This build is strictly for general PvE, and is intended to hold up well enough in a dungeon as well.  The idea is to have strong phanstasms and plenty of survivability.  In the Domination line, we go just far enough to get Empowered Illusions, for the +15%  damage for my phantasms.  We go all the way down the Dueling line.  This gives us Phantasmal Fury, for the increased crit from my phantasms.  With both scepter and sword being wielded, I have two blocking abilities on my bar.  This gives me plenty of opportunities to avoid damage, and Retaliatory Shield becomes extremely useful.  And of course, Blade Training, for even more critical chance.  And then we went all the way down Inspiration.  For one, this gives us a great health pool with all that vitality.  And second, everything in the Inspiration line is about improving phantasms.  We pick  up Persisting Images so Phantasms live even longer, Compounding Celerity for additional mobility, and Malicious Sorcery, just to improve our bleeds from Sharper Images.

I've used this build reliably through 40 levels, and quite honestly my mesmer was even more survivable than my guardian.  And for dungeons, having 30 points in inspiration gives you plenty of options for support, including some things like Medic's Feedback, and Mender's Purity.

So for the new build, I wanted to do something a little more damage oriented, and a little more up front. I thought about doing greatsword, but staff is so good I honestly just can't imagine not using it for my secondary, and going greatsword primary then meant I'd be, well, ranged and ranged.  No, the thought of a dual sword wielding caster has always appealed to me (it's why I tried dual dagger elementalist right off), and I've been missing some of the active gameplay I had with my thief, so  I decided to try Sword/Sword.

So I spent a bit of time perusing some builds, and here's the first one I started working with:

Syrene's First Dual Sword Build

If you spend a few minutes looking at it, you can see that it's a pretty much straight up shatter build.  It's all about power and precision.  Of course we have Mental Torment for the shatter damage, Rending Shatter for vulnerability, and Signet Mastery.  The Signet Mastery may seem odd, but we keep it for Signet of Illusions, which we use the active ability to recharge our shatter skills.

For Dueling of course we still take Phantasmal Fury and Blade Training, and Deceptive Evasion, which gives us one more way to quickly get another clone up.  We put just enough points in Illusions to squeeze even more damage out of our Mind Wrack.

This build is all about throwing down clones as fast as possible and popping them at just the right time. I picked up a rare sword from the trade post, and headed out to give the build a try.

How it Feels
I played for about an hour, rummaging about in Gendarran Fields, which gives a nice variety of mobs and events.  I participated in some group events, some skill challenges, took on some elite mobs, and ran around with a few large groups, as well as just some solo grinding.  And I found the build to be, if you'll pardon the allusion, a double edged sword.  The damage output was truly astonishing.  with a full set of clones and one phantasm, blowing them up dropped mobs within a 10 meter radius with alacrity!  But damn - I was so fragile!  I went down three different times in that hour, and more than a few times found myself having to switch over to staff and kites.  When you've played for so long with a huge health pool and multiple blocks on your bar, it can be tough to make the switch to glass cannon.  In fact I decided there was too much glass for the amount of cannon I was getting.  Granted, you can make up for a lot of that with gear, but I hate being completely reliant upon gear.

I went back to the trainer, and respecced again.  Here's the build I have now:

Syrene's Final Dual Sword Build

So as you can see, things are distributed around a bit.  This is still very much a shatter build.  But it's a little less specialized, and a good deal more survivable.  We keep the best parts of Domination and Dueling.  Especially Deceptive Evasion and Blade Training.  Ten points in inspiration gives us a nice health boost, and grants vigor (100% endurance regeneration increase) to allies on shattering.  And ten more points in Illusions allows our shattered illusions to create confusion, and Compounding Power gives a good bit of umph to Blurred Frenzy (#2 on the primary sword).  I took this build back out in the field and liked it a great deal more.  I was still doing fantastic damage with shatters, I like actually swinging a sword and using it to damage things (something you don't get to do with greatsword), and yet I didn't feel like I would collapse like wet noodle at the first drop of damage.  It's still taking me a while to get into the swing of playing the build, but I think I have a good general rotation now, and am really starting to gel with the playstyle.

The Slot Skills
I didn't talk too much about them, because I largely consider them to be interchangeable, based on the circumstances.  What you see on the build screen is my general purpose selection.  Blink because I've read that some mesmers find it indispensable   While I won't go that far, as I've started to get used to using it more, I will say it does a great job of getting you out of roots and getting you around the field.  Mirror Images because duh, more clones.  Signet of Illusions to get shatters back even more quickly, and Moa Morph because its awesome.

Sometimes you need to change things up.  I'd become very secure in my build, and as such, a bit bored with it as well.  This dual sword build is even more active, and requires you to pay even closer attention if you want to both stay alive and be effective.  This build feels a bit more PvP oriented, so I think I'll take it out to the Eternal Battleground and see how it fares out there.  And I'll continue to use it in PvE and see if it's as fun and as effective as it seems like it will be.

If you have comments, and thoughts, as always, I welcome discourse!  Please feel free to comment here or in the discussion in G+! And until next time, may  your sword be wet and your bottom dry!

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