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[Theorycraft] PvE support elementalist

pve elementalist support build trait skill water vulnerability party theory

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#1 Dey

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 07:11 AM

Introduction
Hey, I’m Dey, I’m relatively new to Guild Wars 2 Guru’s forums and this is my first post. I will try to make this post detailed and in depth, providing points for discussion and am hopefully able to get across my enthusiasm for the capabilities of the PvE Elementalist.

The Elementalist is the prime example of versatility in Guild Wars 2 – and indeed, versatility is one of the big concepts that Arenanet is attempting to accommodate in the game design. Elementalist’s can swap between four different attunements, receiving a different 1-5 skill set for each, giving them a vast array of skills to choose from. Even swapping to the attunements themselves is a form of skill usage. This huge selection allows the Elementalist to easily play each of the tree roles that the combat system of the game was designed around – damage, control and support. Or even all of them at once.

That being said, this post will focus on the scepter/dagger Elementalist, who will be the most powerful when played with a group of other players.

Disclaimer
This build is almost all theory-based and was crafted before the launch of the game. Unfortunately, during the most recent Beta Weekend Event, I could not test this out. And as we all know, beta is beta so all of the figures are subject to change between now and launch. This could possibly render the build ineffective at launch.

Pros and cons
Every build of every profession in Guild Wars 2 has its strengths and weaknesses. This one is intended to specialise in dealing indirect damage by applying enormous amounts of vulnerability to targets so that the raw damage dealers of your party can focus on them and maximise damage output. It can also dish out considerable damage on its own.

Pros:
+Reliable and massive damage multiplying ability
+High damage output even when not playing with other people
+Moderate amount of heals for your party
+Reliably buffs allies with might

Cons:
-Very squishy; there’s no denying it
-Few CC skills
-During non-solo play, skills that are not in the water attunement become more situational

Build link
http://www.gw2db.com...838|1631|0|0|0|

Traits
30 in Air Magic:
This line synergises well with the goal of vulnerability-stacking; the 25 point minor trait – Weak Spot is well worth it. It also provides the build with good damage in the form of increased critical hit chance and damage. You can’t really go wrong with extra movement speed and Electric Discharge is a nice bonus which gives incentive to swap into air attunement (swapping attunements works well with a trait shown later).
Zephyr’s Boon - Grants benefit to using Frost Aura (weapon skill 4 in water attunement). Pretty self-explanatory; more crit chance – more chance of activating Weak Spot. Also, movement speed increase is nice.
Soothing Winds - Increases your supporting ability; you have two heals on your skill bar in water attunement, one on a 20 second cooldown, and the other every 40 seconds. Great for your party members to sustain a little more damage. Also increases survival; you are already squishy; you should have some decent healing power to keep you alive.
Arcane Lightning – Allows you to deal quite a lot of damage and works extremely well with the skill selection (discussed later).

20 in Water Magic:
The regeneration from Soothing Mist and health granted by vitality helps you survive – as a squishy profession in general, every HP counts! Healing Ripple give you a small PBAoE heal and like Electrical Discharge, incentivises switching between attunements. This line also grants you more support ability via healing power.
Shard of Ice - The main reason that Arcane Wave and Arcane Blast were chosen – more vulnerability!
Piercing Shards - Tremendously increases your damage output. A great way to dish out damage while giving purpose to inflicting vulnerability as often as you can.

20 in Arcane Power:
The increased attunement recharge rate means that you get more of the bonuses from swapping between air and water and has wonderful synergy with Arcane Fury. Remember; the more crits, the more vulnerability, thanks to Weak Spot. Lingering Elements keeps the bonuses you receive for being in an attunement for 5 seconds after you switch from it. This allows you to keep Zephyr’s Speed, Soothing Mist and Piercing Shards a short while after swapping out of their respective attunements. Boon duration is not the area of focus of this build but it doesn’t hurt to have it.
Arcane Mastery - Allows you to use your utilities more often which means more crits and vulnerability.
Arcane Retribution - Even more crits and vulnerability.

Utility skills
Signet of Restoration - Constant trickle heals and a strong heal on activation – this is an extremely good way to keep you alive.
Arcane Wave - Huge amount of PBAoE damage on instant cast with a 20 second cooldown! It crits as well! And it’s a combo finisher! This is one of the best Elementalist utility skills in my opinion. Using it while inside a fire field also grants nearby allies with might. Incidentally, weapon skill 4 in fire attunement casts Ring of Fire on a 15 second cooldown. Perfect for consistent damage buffs to your party.
Arcane Blast - Lower damage than Arcane Wave on a 15 second cooldown, this skill is pretty much the same thing with a lower DPS but is a ranged nuke, activating combo fields along the way to its target.
Arcane Power (skill) - Great increase to damage output and the possibility of more vulnerability makes this a fine pick for this build.
Tornado - Causes havoc to the enemy by constantly knocking them about, preventing them from using skills. A good way to make up for your lack off CC.

Playstyle and skill usage
The primary purpose of using this build is to support your party by maximising their damage output and helping them stay alive through heals. Inflicting vulnerability is the offensive means by which to do this. Granting might via Ring of Fire + the considerable amount of blast combo finishers you have at your disposal is another way to accomplish this too. Making use of the attunement swapping bonuses granted by the traits is an important part of playing this build well.

Shatterstone
Weapon skill 2 in water attunement; Shatterstone is the most important weapon skill that will be utilised. It has an insanely short 2 second cooldown for 4 stacks of vulnerability that last for 15 seconds. Unless it gets nerfed or a new skill manages to surpass it, this skill is the most efficient and reliable way to apply vulnerability to a target in the game. Wait, no, not just a target. A group of targets. If you land all of your hits, it is possible to achieve 28 stacks of vulnerability at a time with this skill. That is minus 840 defense at level 80. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any values to compare that to but hopefully, when launch comes and more data is gathered on the wiki, I will be able to show it to you guys.

Might
Using Ring of Fire to combo with a blast finisher grants nearby party members 3 stacks of might for a few seconds. Currently, it has a 15 second cooldown, so 3 stacks of might every 15 seconds if you time your skills accordingly. You have no shortage of blast finishers with this build so the cooldown of RoF becomes the inhibiting factor of how often you can buff your allies. However, you must switch out of water attunement to use RoF – meaning you won’t be able to switch back for some time to continue using Shatterstone. This is where all of the attunement-swapping-based traits come into play.

Attunement swapping
Although you won’t be able to use Shatterstone when swapping out of water, there are still quite a number of ways to inflict vulnerability. Arcane Fury of Arcane Power (trait line) grants you fury for a short time, which allows you to activate Weak Spot with more reliability. And don’t forget your utility skills! Part of why the Arcane skills are so strong is that they always crit.

But why should you attunement swap in the first place? Well, scepter/dagger has a nice and rounded out skill set (especially helpful if playing solo with this build). Fire gives you huge burst damage capability when you want it, Air keeps you mobile as well as giving you a blind every 10 seconds and a knockdown every 40 and Earth has a 30 second armor buff that will help keep you alive while channelling Churning Earth; the highest damaging skill in this weapon set.

Your role
When playing this build, you should stay at the back of your party and out of the fire to cast Shatterstone and heals. If your group needs some extra CC, air and earth attunements are useful in keeping the enemy down for a short time. Fire shouldn’t be ignored; remember the purpose of this build – to maximise your party’s damage output. In fire attunement, buff your teammates with might using Ring of Fire.

Summary
As you can see, the PvE Elementalist has the capability to bring incredibly strong support to any group by increasing damage output and survival of the group as a whole through vulnerability, might and heals. Know though, that there is more depth to this build than spamming Shatterstone; careful timing of skill usage can increase your party’s and your own damage through correct application of might and exploitation of trait line effects.


Change log

#2 Dirichlet

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 07:48 AM

View PostDey, on 26 July 2012 - 07:11 AM, said:

Unless it gets nerfed...

Might have spoken a little soon there. The cooldown was reworked for BWE3; it's still 2 seconds, but the cooldown doesn't start until it shatters. In practice it's more like a 4 second cooldown now. You used to be able to keep 24 stacks up on a single target, sometimes bobbing up to 25, while now I think it's 12 and 16.

Still, going for Weak Spot should go a way towards making up for that. I agree with the overall incentive of supporting the group via Vulnerability stacking. It's a role that's got to be done if you want an efficient dungeon completion, and if you can handle it all on one character (and one that can heal a bit and cleanse at the same time) then it should be a worthy build. I wonder though if a Staff would be a better choice given the change to Shatterstone. On the other hand, the Scepter does have significantly faster attacks, e.g. Ice Shards, Arc Lightning, to fish for crits, which should rack up more Vulnerability stacks from Weak Spot. You'd have to try both out to see which works best in practice. One thing to note is that you don't have to stick to one weapon set per build. I can see the appeal of Scepter/Dagger for soloing (where it absolutely excels), but you can always switch to a Staff, without needing to change the build, when you're about to head down a dungeon (also remember your traits don't have to be fixed; you can always switch between more solo orientated and group orientated options depending on what you need).

Minor tweaks. I'd go for the Glyph heal rather than the Signet; my usual rule is that the Signet is only worth it if you're taking Written in Stone. Consider Aquamancer's Alacrity rather than Piercing Shards (this is the kind of thing you can switch out going from solo to group play). That'll put Water Trident at 16 seconds and Cleansing Wave at 32 seconds. If you think of 16 seconds as a full attunement cycle (the Might from the Fire portion will last long enough due to the Boon Duration buff in the Arcane line; besides, Arcane Wave will be on a 16 second cooldown after Arcane Mastery) then that puts you at precisely 1 Trident per cycle and 1 CW every other cycle. Speaking of that Fire buff, you can get the same effect from Dragon's Tooth, so it's effectively 6 stacks of Might per cycle.

#3 FrancisCrawford

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 07:58 AM

If one doesn't happen to be taking Written in Stone, then Glyph of Elemental Healing is surely a better heal than Signet of Restoration. Edit: Dirichlet won the race to post that.

Also, you have a fundamental playstyle problem -- you want to stand back, yet you also want to buff your party members with small-radius AoEs. One of the two isn't going to happen.

Edited by FrancisCrawford, 26 July 2012 - 07:59 AM.


#4 Elfen Lied

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 10:03 AM

I was thinking of trying THIS: as a support build, crazy amount of healing, some condition removal. Downside is the low HP, but lots of armor.

Edited by Elfen Lied, 26 July 2012 - 10:06 AM.


#5 FrancisCrawford

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 11:49 AM

View PostElfen Lied, on 26 July 2012 - 10:03 AM, said:

I was thinking of trying THIS: as a support build, crazy amount of healing, some condition removal. Downside is the low HP, but lots of armor.

You have exactly one skill that procs the water trait for vulnerability. You would do well to replace it.

You have the wrong healing skill, for reasons stated above, even more so because you have Quick Glyphs, which is an excellent choice.

Elemental Attunement over Stop/Drop/Roll, all the more because you already have Cleansing Water, which means Elemental Attunement adds to condition removal.

If for some odd reason you don't want Elemental Attunement, then you mixed up Cleansing Water and Cleansing Wave. Having both Cleansing Water and Cleansing Wave is even stronger for conditon removal (notably upon switching attunement to water).

Geomancer's Freedom seems like a weak trait to me right now. Just remove the conditions altogether.

If you're going for crit damage, you might enjoy having at least 15 points in Arcana. And the further you push Arcana, the faster you can get into various attunements for various support or DPS capabilities. If you make it all the way to 30 points, Evasive Arcana can be used for yet more support, such as extra Cleansing Waves. At that point your conditon removal in water approaches the ridiculous.

If you're going crit, you might want to keep going in air, in which case Inscription could be of interest.

Aquamancer's Alacrity could produce yet more support.

Focus is more support-y and defensive than dagger, but at the cost of some damage.

Edited by FrancisCrawford, 26 July 2012 - 11:57 AM.


#6 Elfen Lied

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 12:49 PM

View PostFrancisCrawford, on 26 July 2012 - 11:49 AM, said:

You have exactly one skill that procs the water trait for vulnerability. You would do well to replace it.

You have the wrong healing skill, for reasons stated above, even more so because you have Quick Glyphs, which is an excellent choice.

Elemental Attunement over Stop/Drop/Roll, all the more because you already have Cleansing Water, which means Elemental Attunement adds to condition removal.

If for some odd reason you don't want Elemental Attunement, then you mixed up Cleansing Water and Cleansing Wave. Having both Cleansing Water and Cleansing Wave is even stronger for conditon removal (notably upon switching attunement to water).

Geomancer's Freedom seems like a weak trait to me right now. Just remove the conditions altogether.

If you're going for crit damage, you might enjoy having at least 15 points in Arcana. And the further you push Arcana, the faster you can get into various attunements for various support or DPS capabilities. If you make it all the way to 30 points, Evasive Arcana can be used for yet more support, such as extra Cleansing Waves. At that point your conditon removal in water approaches the ridiculous.

If you're going crit, you might want to keep going in air, in which case Inscription could be of interest.

Aquamancer's Alacrity could produce yet more support.

Focus is more support-y and defensive than dagger, but at the cost of some damage.

I'll probably go staff with this one. I am focusing on lots of healing power. Also I'm not going crit, just taking 10 points in light for cd reduction on glyphs. Also I don't think going 30 into arcana just for one trait is worth it, cause I lose a lot on the other side. With this build I wanna be as close to the regular MMO healer/support as possible.

Here're some corrections I've done: BUILD
The only problem with it is really low HP

Edited by Elfen Lied, 26 July 2012 - 12:51 PM.


#7 abr4

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 12:59 PM

View PostDey, on 26 July 2012 - 07:11 AM, said:

That being said, this post will focus on the scepter/dagger Elementalist, who will be the most powerful when played with a group of other players.

Staff ele is way way way way better than scepter / dagger for group play. It's a whole different league.

#8 Vanillea

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 01:06 PM

View Postabr4, on 26 July 2012 - 12:59 PM, said:

Staff ele is way way way way better than scepter / dagger for group play. It's a whole different league.

Not entirely. They play different roles on a group set up. While Staff is a rear damage/control/support, S/D is a front line Damage/control/pulling. Staff ele will not shine if there is no one in the front line to control the mobs. An AoE knock down, an AoE cripple, an AoE blind, an AoE knock back, a long-lasting Fire Field,double AoE heal and short CD, spamable Blast/Projectile finishers are what make S/D very desirable in group set up. In fact, S/D ele + staff ele is a golden combo in both PvE and PvP

@Day: If you want to stay in the back and support, I would say Staff or S/Focus is a better choice. As S/d, I think you are better at the middle of the battle instead because most of S/D's control skills require you to be in close range. Not to mention S/D has very high self-defense that will keep you alive for a long time for your team to do their job. Dmg potential is not bad either.

About trait, 30 in arcane is really important for support because you want to rotate your attunement a lot. Gears wise, power + toughness + vitality is the way to go. The way S/D "tank" the monster is not to physically absorb the damage but to control the mobs to minimize damage taken. Thus, you don't need a lot of toughness and vitality and have room for extra power. Note that in pve, clearing the mobs fast is also a way of supporting xD

Edited by Vanillea, 26 July 2012 - 01:20 PM.


#9 abr4

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 01:42 PM

View PostVanillea, on 26 July 2012 - 01:06 PM, said:

Not entirely. They play different roles on a group set up. While Staff is a rear damage/control/support, S/D is a front line Damage/control/pulling. Staff ele will not shine if there is no one in the front line to control the mobs. An AoE knock down, an AoE cripple, an AoE blind, an AoE knock back, a long-lasting Fire Field,double AoE heal and short CD, spamable Blast/Projectile finishers are what make S/D very desirable in group set up. In fact, S/D ele + staff ele is a golden combo in both PvE and PvP

With the exception of might buffing all of that is control (stun, cripple, blind that is. Staff also gets a blast finisher with a low cooldown and there's always arcane blast and earth 1 is a spammable projectile finisher with 100% chance for a combo (unlike most other autoattack projectile finisher).

The vast amount of combo fields make elementalist the superior choice for group support by far. The two water fields themselves would almost be enough to pull ahead support wise, but then you also get an even lower cooldown firefield in fire which can have almost 100% uptime and a lightning field in air. Nevermind the fact that you can keep up weakness permanently with the earth autoattack which goes a long way towards reducing the insane damage some of the mobs deal in pve.

You need to consider the whole group when looking at your role and the number of combofields make staff clearly pull out ahead when it comes to supporting seeing how you can easily provide might buffs for your group (in WvW we got up to 24 stacks on a single firefield) as well as being able to permanently grant swiftness to your whole party.

A permanent 33% runspeed increase, just think about that for a second.

And then there's the new aoe dodging mechanic for mobs which means aoe fields now also make for good CC since a mob which is running out of fields won't be attacking you.

#10 Vanillea

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 03:36 PM

View Postabr4, on 26 July 2012 - 01:42 PM, said:



With the exception of might buffing all of that is control (stun, cripple, blind that is. Staff also gets a blast finisher with a low cooldown and there's always arcane blast and earth 1 is a spammable projectile finisher with 100% chance for a combo (unlike most other autoattack projectile finisher).

The vast amount of combo fields make elementalist the superior choice for group support by far. The two water fields themselves would almost be enough to pull ahead support wise, but then you also get an even lower cooldown firefield in fire which can have almost 100% uptime and a lightning field in air. Nevermind the fact that you can keep up weakness permanently with the earth autoattack which goes a long way towards reducing the insane damage some of the mobs deal in pve.

You need to consider the whole group when looking at your role and the number of combofields make staff clearly pull out ahead when it comes to supporting seeing how you can easily provide might buffs for your group (in WvW we got up to 24 stacks on a single firefield) as well as being able to permanently grant swiftness to your whole party.

A permanent 33% runspeed increase, just think about that for a second.

And then there's the new aoe dodging mechanic for mobs which means aoe fields now also make for good CC since a mob which is running out of fields won't be attacking you.

Controlling is also a form of supporting. And we are talking about pve environment not WvW. Staff ele can put up field but lack the ability to finish it properly. Eruption has an delay on activation and it is not as spam able as shatter stone, or dragon tooth. While the two healing fields are nice, s/d ele can tipple heal allies at meele range, much like a burst heal. Staff can put up one field and might be one finisher. However, s/d can use 3 blast stimulously and arcane wave as the forth one. So about stacking might, I would say s/d is better, and might is very important in pve. And if I'm not wrong s/d has one whirl finishers as well.

The two weapon set actually compliment each other perfectly. I wouldn't compare them and claim that one is superior or clearly better than the other

#11 abr4

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 05:21 PM

View PostVanillea, on 26 July 2012 - 03:36 PM, said:

Controlling is also a form of supporting. And we are talking about pve environment not WvW. Staff ele can put up field but lack the ability to finish it properly.

I wouldn't say they lack the ability to finish it properly, they just have less finisher than S/D, but most of S/D blast finisher are on 20+ seconds of cooldown anyway.

Dragon's Tooth is a bitch to aim ooc btw if you don't have an enemy because it always spawns quite far away making it difficult to buff up before a fight and I'm not sure wasting a 45 seconds knockdown for that is a good idea either. And in combat it's more consistent and easier, or at east safer, to provide firefields with lava font instead of the longer cd ring of fire which is a pbae instead of a gtae like lava font.

Also I can't find anything on shatterstone being a blast finisher, do you have a bwe3 screen to back that up?

And what does it matter if my example was in WvW? Maybe I wasn't very clear on how that combo was pulled off. My guild and I pretty much exclusively roam around in a small group, quickly capping supply camps and taking on smaller zerg groups of up to 20 players at a time. The most people we had playing WvW together during bwe3 was 6 at the same time I think.

This is to give you some perspective. That is only 1 player more than a regular dungeon group and we weren't even trying particularly hard to stack blast finisher (there are plenty of shenanigans we could have pulled to increase the number of blast finisher like swapping weapon sets ooc for example).

So you see the limiting factor in a group isn't blast finisher, it's combo fields of which the staff elementalist has plenty more than scepter / dagger and even some of the most unique and potent ones in the game (lightning and water).

Water fields are *that* f-ing strong that I'd even recommend a second staff ele in your group even if your party already features one.

On top of that you get pretty excellent crowd control via aoe circles, cripple, chill and immobilize. Because of that and all of the above to me the staff is clearly the superior support weapon to bring.

If you wanna deal damage, especially single target, then fine, go scepter / dagger, by all means, but promoting S/D as the best support weapon for the elementalist seems like folly to me.

Edited by abr4, 26 July 2012 - 05:28 PM.


#12 Vanillea

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 06:38 PM

First of all, I am positive that I didn't say something  about which weapon set is better than the other because I believe each has is own potential. On the other hand, I do think that calling out one weapon set is the best or superior than the others might not be entirely correct. It seems like you have a great experience with staff. I do too. But you have to keep an open mind about other weapons as well.

It seems that you haven't experiment a lot with S/D: Dragon Tooth blast is where you cast it, not where you land the skill. I do remember that shatter stone is a blast finisher because I was able to combo in water attunment. I also do believe S/D ele is very suitable for stacking blast finishers fast in a short period of time to take advantage of the short duration combo fields. For example: If you team has a Ranger with healing spring, which one is a better support: A staff ele who can use 1 finisher and increase the duration of the water filed or a S/D who can run into the middle of the field with RtL use 3 blast finishers and attunement to water and use another 2 heals (3 if you traited in water).
By no mean I am saying S/D is better at supporting. It entirely depends on the situation an team composition. However, I have to disagree that staff is the superior choice for supporting as you stated. I believe all set up can support and support well. I can traited and support well with Focus and even D/D build.

#13 Spif

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 08:29 PM

Scepter/dagger/focus only makes 1 fire field

Staff makes fire, water, ice and lightning. All of these can be combo'd with by several people. It also has the best aura if your going to go with an aura sharing build.

Stacking vuln is useful, but not much more than stacking might

#14 abr4

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 09:50 PM

View PostVanillea, on 26 July 2012 - 06:38 PM, said:

For example: If you team has a Ranger with healing spring, which one is a better support: A staff ele who can use 1 finisher and increase the duration of the water filed or a S/D who can run into the middle of the field with RtL use 3 blast finishers and attunement to water and use another 2 heals (3 if you traited in water).

Definitely the staff ele unless you mean they're just duoing. Besides you'll always have at least two blast finishers if you plan on utilizing combo fields since I can't see any build running without arcane wave - at the moment, balance might change in the future.

I'll have to retest dragon's tooth come release and look into shatterstone, but I am 90% sure I am correct.

Remember that the delayed blast from dragon's tooth might have been what triggered the combos while you were in water attunement.

I guess we can agree to disagree, but I still don't get your pov.

View PostSpif, on 26 July 2012 - 08:29 PM, said:

Scepter/dagger/focus only makes 1 fire field

Staff makes fire, water, ice and lightning. All of these can be combo'd with by several people. It also has the best aura if your going to go with an aura sharing build.


And don't forget that water staff has one of the best group condition removal in the game. Healing rain is just pure awesomeness.

Edited by abr4, 26 July 2012 - 09:55 PM.


#15 Vanillea

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 09:58 PM

View PostDirichlet, on 26 July 2012 - 11:31 AM, said:

Here, I've found a few relevant bits of footage. Might be easier to understand visually.

First using Dragon's Tooth and then Arcane Wave while standing in a Ring of Fire to gain 6 stacks of Might. Notice that the Dragon's Tooth itself doesn't need to land in the Ring of Fire (it's nowhere near it in fact):




http://wiki.guildwar.../Blast_Finisher

#16 abr4

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 10:04 PM

Da f... okay well if you get the blast finisher where you cast the tooth instead of where it lands then that's a whole different story as far as finisher viability on s/d goes.

#17 FrancisCrawford

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 01:47 AM

View PostElfen Lied, on 26 July 2012 - 12:49 PM, said:


Here're some corrections I've done: BUILD

Vastly better on the skills/traits. I might still go with Geomancer's Alacrity for the second Earth trait, but that's really only for the #3 and #5 skill, so I can't argue for it strongly.

However, there are a lot of runes you might want to look at, especially in the Compassion category. Dwayna*6 would mean that whenever you use your heal skill in any attunement you grant regeneration and do a condition clear. Or you could mix 2 each from different boon-extension sets to strengthen the boons you grant -- regeneration, swiftness, might, but regrettably not stability. I also wonder whether it's possible to beat Sigil of Superior Strength given your low crit chance (which I'm proposing to take even lower).





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