SalutationsI feel like this is the sort of thing that I've been doing far too often for my own sanity over the past few months. Introductions. Can I just skip this and start meandering inconsequentially about how aesthetically pleasing it is to watch a warrior being eaten by a shark in sPvP?
(I'll hold that for the conclusion. Best for last and whatnot.)
Greetings, my name is Kaenes and I'll be chiming in here on Guru to keep everyone up to date on the times and fortunes of necromancy in Guild Wars 2. Other than my work here on Guru, I'm also the project lead of Foundation, a collaborative writing/art/music project. It's rather neat, you should check it out.
On the other side of the veil, I spend my time writing things, applying economics to places where economics should never tread (when I go grocery shopping, I actually calculate utility curves for each good I purchase to make sure that my overall utility is maximized), and realizing gradually that the American south-west is, functionally, a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Keeping with the general theme of hating introductions, let's get down the science at hand.
A Big Ball of Magic-y, Doom-y Stuff
"So, Kaenes, how did you come to play a necromancer, which is obviously the most wonderful profession?"
Thanks for the question, anonymous cough-syrup hallucination!
When Guild Wars 2 went up for pre-order, I stopped what I was doing immediately and bought my copy. After 4-ish years of drooling over the potential of Guild Wars 2, I was ready to actually see what the fuss was about. The-dreaded-game-that-must-not-be-named had long lost its shine in my eyes and all of its assumed successors had proved equally uninspiring. That exasperation is, what I imagine to be, a widely shared emotion, and Guild Wars 2 promised to provide the first honest rethinking of the genre in nearly a decade. Needless to say, I was excited.
When the next BWE rolled around, I logged in; my young and impressionable heart set on rocking PvP with my much-anticipated mesmer. What followed was less than inspiring.
I shuffled through professions for the rest of the night, trying to find something that felt "right." After exhausting the engineer, the elementalist, and the other myriad of professions that weren't the necromancer, I eventually rolled a charr necromancer out of a potent mixture of boredom and desperation; it was love at first soul-reaping. (I was actually so shocked of the score at the end of the round that I immediately screenshotted the occurrence.)
The reply then to this is, "Substantiate yourself! Why are necromancers so great?" Patience, for the substantiation follows.
10 Reasons Why Necromancers Are the Best Profession or My Apologies to David Letterman
- Death Shroud. Oh, I'm sorry random elementalist. I wasn't aware that you lack a continually regenerating second health bar that you could activate at any time. That troll club the size of a sedan must've really hurt. Once I finish sucking our troll-friend's life out, I'll meander my glorious self over there and resurrect your corpse. (Don't forget AoE debuffing, fear, cc-immunity, and stacking self-buffs. The fun just continues on.)
- Vampirism. Your health bar is my health bar. Basically, I'm a health socialist. From you according to your vitality, to me according to my dagger.
- Conditions. Every time I see conditions, anywhere, I get giddy. Conditions on you, I'll spread to all of your teammates. Conditions on my team, I'll turn into boons. Conditions on me, I'll use as fuel to power the best heal in the game or to reflect back onto you. It doesn't end there; see those precious boons right above your health bar? Surprise! Those are now conditions eating away at said health bar.
- Spectral Walk. This skill deserves a spot of its own. Massive duration of swiftness, coupled with one of the most useful secondary effects in the game. Don't believe me? Here's a completely hypothetical situation that may or may not have actually happened. I was defending the clock tower in a certain sPvP map. Lo and behold, a warrior and a guardian, both with shiny great-swords flailing erratically, come charging up the stairs.
I could have stayed to fight (and then promptly died) or I could have done what I, theoretically, did. I activated spectral walk, and jumped out the window. The duo, power-stacking bloodlust in their eyes, jumped out after me with the expectation of an easy kill on wide open ground. I wish I could have seen the theoretical shock on their faces when I vanished, but I was back inside the theoretical clock tower again, so I couldn't.
- Elite Skills. Unlike engineers (who definitely got the short end of the stick), necromancers have three immensely useful elite skills. The Flesh Golem is a minion without par, despite his occasional indecision on whether that centaur hitting him with a club is a threat or not. Plague is a fight changing support skill; 20-seconds of permanent AoE blinding and poison on your enemies is nothing to laugh at. This skill can single-handedly change the outcome of a losing battle - I couldn't count the times that I've saved a group from wiping on the Magg event in CoF by activating plague form and tanking the entire enemy team. Lich Form turns the necromancer into a one-man army capable of feats that defy common sense. Solo a group event, and you'll see what I mean.
- Minions. Why do all the work yourself when you have disposable flesh slaves that you can exploit for your benefit? Capitalism at its best, folks. (Alternatively : DO YOU LIKE FREEDOM? PLAY A NECROMANCER! *queue rock music solo*)
- Wells. Sorry Lassie, but if Jimmy fell into one of these, he's not making it back. At least, not in the same condition he was before. For more on this, see #6.
- Vitality. Necromancers are part of the highest vitality tier, shared with those abominable warriors. Consider that an elementalist, stacking vitality, will almost equal our standard health pool, uninvested. That, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
- Flexibility. A lot of derision has been heaped upon the "unfocused" structure of our trait trees; these people have been missing the forest for the trees (it's funny because it's a pun). Because of the diversity of traits within each of our lines, it's possible to run multiple builds without having to re-spend your points. For example, I'm currently running 30 Spite, 20 Death, and 20 Blood. This combination gives me access to, but is not limited to: Staff AoE, daggers and vampirism, debuff/power axe builds, minion mastery, and well specialization. Simply put, I can quickly and effectively adapt my tactics to any possible situation.
- Group Support. The necromancer is possibly one of the most viscerally effective professions for group play. Wells are some of the most powerful AoE support skills in the game, our signets allow us to cleanse our allies of conditions and revive fallen comrades at distance, and our weapon skills are remarkably effective at debuffing and crippling an enemy. (Consider that the presence of a necromancer can trivialize the Legendary Flame Effigy in Citadel of Flame - otherwise, the boss was [pre-nerf] mathematically impossible.) Necromancers might not be churning out immense bursts of damage, but the sheer presence that they create on a battlefield makes them an invaluable member of any group.
Thanks for All the Fish
And there you have it; Necromancers are superior. In the unlikely case that there are remaining questions about our viability and lethality, I would be happy to answer those concerns in the nearest dark alleyway. And no, of course not! My minions are definitely not laying in wait for you. That would be silly.
Tune in later this week; we'll be taking a look at necromancers in structured and unstructured content (read as "PvP" and "dynamic events"). There have been a lot of misconceptions and concerns about the necromancer's role in these scenarios and I'll be tackling those things head on.
"Necromancers don't really do meaningful damage."
"Their support is weak."
"I don't know why anyone would play a necromancer, compared to the other professions."
"They're only good for conditions, and nothing else."
To which I say, underestimate us at your own peril - because it will be perilous.
I suppose you'll have to wait, and see.