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Oh Focus, how I want to like you...

focus weapon elementalist

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#1 TimeBomb

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 07:51 AM

Ah yes, the focus. In case you're unfamiliar with its abilities, click here and scroll down to examine them.

I have played a scepter/dagger elementalist throughout all of the BWE's and stress tests. Occasionally I will try a different weapon, but I always come back to S/D. The only time this differs is in WvW, where I, for tactical reasons, will often choose to use a staff instead of S/D.

I've tried dagger/dagger. Neato play style, but I don't like it as much as I do D/D.

I've tried scepter/focus. I... I just don't get this. Focus has a longer range than dagger, so it seems like it would synergize as well or better. But.. from what I've seen, it just doesn't. The main issue is the complete lack of offensive abilities.

With scepter/dagger, we're able to roll out a really nice combo or two and rack up some nice damage. In fact, thanks to arcane wave and arcane blast, we're even able to throw out a nice amount of burst (although it's arguably more predictable and more easily dodgable than many other professions' burst combos).

The only way I can see scepter/focus working is as support. From what I can see, there just isn't enough damage output for it to be anywhere near as efficient as any other weapon combination when it comes to dealing out damage.

I am okay with playing support... but I can do that to an extent with scepter/dagger or staff quite efficiently. Sure, focus has some nice support-oriented abilities, but I'd rather be doing some damage as S/D and simultaneously supporting than purely focusing on support with S/F. Maybe I'm missing something, or maybe it just plain doesn't fit my playstyle...

I've also tried a bit of dagger/focus. I still need to do more testing, but, from the little bit I've played, I like the potential synergy here. The extra defensive abilities can definitely come in handy when I'm face to face with a tough melee opponent (or chasing a ranged enemy). I'm not sure how much DPS I sacrifice versus D/D, though. I wonder if it has similar offensive issues as S/F; though, from what I've seen, it's offensive capabilities aren't as poor as S/F.

I'm going to be screwing around more with this weapon set when I get ingame again. I see some potential in it.


So... what do you think about focus? Are there any S/F or D/F combos you'd like to share? What are your reasons for liking or disliking the weapon? Do you think S/F or D/F is or is not viable? Please do elaborate.

I'm quite curious in learning more about focus and how it can be used competantly.

#2 Red Moon Rising

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 08:34 AM

Focus is a support/defensive weapon.

As you've mentioned, it does go very well with the dagger to offset having to breath the same oxygen as your opponent.

I've previously been playing D/D almost exclusively. I don't like scepter or staff for whatever reasons, didn't quite fit my playing style. And from my change into D/F I feel like I've gained more control and sustainability in my build. It's one thing to have my personal arsenal of combos to unload on my opponent. But it's another thing to totally nullify their attempts with properly timed skill activations.

It's a very reactive weapon. If you feel like you're getting focused, hop onto earth and pop Obsidian Flesh. If you've got a few conditions on you, take them out with Magnetic Wave. Massive clash starting? Swirling Winds to nullify all hostile projectiles. Need to CC a target? Gale. More CC? Freezing Winds and Comet.

The only element I don't especially like is Fire in Focus. It is good to drop Flamewall before hopping into Earth for that leap combo (MH-Dagger) and Blast Finisher (Magnetic Wave). I always pop Fire Shield like it's nobody's business, me included.

Even better is that a lot of the skills cap off around 20-30 seconds of cooldown so it's a very fluid weapon.

Something you definitely need to get practice with. It's a very different style of playing.

#3 Fiery Lily

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 08:59 AM

Focus is all about cc and defense. Imho the idea is playing on condition damage and control the enemy while you stack dots with scepter earth 1 and fire 1/2. Enemy dots are not a big deal with at least 2 condition removals with skills and maybe some from utilities. I like to play S/f with a signet/aura build to have protection for long time. It's a defensive playstyle and you may not like it but it's quite effective.

#4 FrancisCrawford

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 09:26 AM

I haven't tried S/F since BWE2, when I definitely didn't make it work well.

As Fiery Lily said, it appears to be a conditions weapon set. If you spec for condition damage, you can get your damage ticking quite nicely.

Theorycrafting, a Glyph build SHOULD be good. GoEP helps with defense and gives a covering condition. Glyph of Pets and Glyph of Lesser Pets do damage that does NOT scale with (lack of) power. Stun break for your third utility, GoEH for the theme, and that's your skill bar.

It's a little tough, however, to pull together a great set of traits, which may be part of the problem.

#5 EatThisShoe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 09:57 AM

I think fire is the big problem with focus. It's not even very strong for condition builds, and even weaker for direct damage. Fire wall used ot be 15s, but it got nerfed to 8, and now it's just inferior to ring of fire. Flame Shield is just kinda lame, it should block the first 3 hits or maybe explode like Arcane Shield or the reverse like guardian's shield of wrath. I wouldn't confer that benefit to Fire's Embrace though.

Water is a bit underwhelming too. It's not as bad as fire but it's not much to get excited about. I would have expected a heal on our more defensive/support weapon. I just think offhand dagger outshines it.

Air is fine, Earth is fantastic.

A focus trait in our arcane line couldn't hurt either.

Edited by EatThisShoe, 22 August 2012 - 10:02 AM.


#6 TimeBomb

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:22 AM

Thanks for the feedback guys.

Someone posted a video of them playing dagger/focus, and it got me even more interested in trying out the build.

View PostRed Moon Rising, on 22 August 2012 - 05:32 AM, said:

Sure thing! Here's the link. Looking back though, next time I try it out I might go for Rune of Ice instead of Dolyak. Either that or Dwayna or Water. Dolyak's regeneration is a joke. 30 hps? =|

Here's a video of me playing it during the last stress test. I didn't get any footage yesterday, figured with the game around the corner, I couldn't be bothered.




#7 Red Moon Rising

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:47 AM

View PostEatThisShoe, on 22 August 2012 - 09:57 AM, said:

I think fire is the big problem with focus. It's not even very strong for condition builds, and even weaker for direct damage. Fire wall used ot be 15s, but it got nerfed to 8, and now it's just inferior to ring of fire. Flame Shield is just kinda lame, it should block the first 3 hits or maybe explode like Arcane Shield or the reverse like guardian's shield of wrath. I wouldn't confer that benefit to Fire's Embrace though.

Water is a bit underwhelming too. It's not as bad as fire but it's not much to get excited about. I would have expected a heal on our more defensive/support weapon. I just think offhand dagger outshines it.

Air is fine, Earth is fantastic.

A focus trait in our arcane line couldn't hurt either.

I think Water is pretty good, the skills are very synergistic, the frost usually assures the comet hitting which dazes. I've saved a lot of teammates with that daze :D Most the time though I save them with the Air Knockdown.

View PostTimeBomb, on 23 August 2012 - 12:22 AM, said:

Thanks for the feedback guys.

Someone posted a video of them playing dagger/focus, and it got me even more interested in trying out the build.

Hey cool :D You found my video haha!

#8 airphforce

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 02:28 AM

I can't play scepter focus because it has absolutley 0 movement skills of any kind. I feel like a slug. At least with D/F I have flamekick if I have to move.

I think D/F could do well if you stack condition damage and duration and just hang out in earth most of the time. But we'll have to see. Focus, as it is, is underwhelming.

#9 FrancisCrawford

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:23 AM

To be specific:
  • The fire "4" skill is bad.
  • The fire "5" skill is laughably, horribly bad.
  • The water "4" skill is a weaker version of Signet of Water. That's bad.
  • The water "5" skill is worth using if it's come around. Great, situationally, but not in a way you can plan; if it has big impact, that's just good luck.
  • The air "4" skill is outstanding in certain situations, useless otherwise.
  • The air "5" skill would be great with longer duration, but is meh as it stands
  • Both earth skills are amazing.


#10 blindude

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 02:28 PM

View PostFrancisCrawford, on 23 August 2012 - 03:23 AM, said:

To be specific:
  • The fire "4" skill is bad.
  • The fire "5" skill is laughably, horribly bad.
  • The water "4" skill is a weaker version of Signet of Water. That's bad.
  • The water "5" skill is worth using if it's come around. Great, situationally, but not in a way you can plan; if it has big impact, that's just good luck.
  • The air "4" skill is outstanding in certain situations, useless otherwise.
  • The air "5" skill would be great with longer duration, but is meh as it stands
  • Both earth skills are amazing.
The 4 fire skill is really more usefull than ring of fire for combos and i wouldnt change it..The only bad thing about focus is fire 5.All the others are great and you cant expect a weapon skill out of 20 to be as effective as a utility thats signet of water..In my opinion only focus basically lets you get berserkers amulet and jewel without gimping yourself.The air 4 skill is bordeline op and the 5 skill is a great setup maybe better than updraft in some situations.

#11 TimeBomb

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 09:24 PM

Just tested a dagger/focus build I put together in 5 mins with high armor and condition damage, nice crit, and okay healing. It did better than I expected. It was also lots of fun! Great defensive abilities and the condition damage was niiiice. I'll be improving the build a bit and using it in release. Thanks all!

Update: This is the build I've got thus far.

Edited by TimeBomb, 23 August 2012 - 09:53 PM.


#12 Diogo Silva

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 10:09 PM

Didn't OH dagger's Ring of Fire got a nice boost lately? Flamewall feels underwhelming in comparison (no one is going to stay that long in a tiny line, and its burning only lasts... 1 second). And Fire Shield is really, really bad.

Outside of water, Comet is interesting but I'd prefer if it had a shorter cast time, so we could time our interrupts better. Not sure if it would make it too strong, though. And air's 4th skill is very conditional, I would wish for an extra effect (party swiftness?).

Earth is, without a doubt, amazing.

#13 TimeBomb

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 10:50 PM

I usually use combo fields for actual comboing rather than purely as a damage boost; usually the damage isn't all that amazing anyway. Therefore I don't have much of an issue w/ flamewall.
The Fire Shield is yucky but it's at least usable because dagger is melee.

Water's #5 skill is nice if it lands, but the #4 skill.. meh. Just a chill.

Then we have air. I like air. A projectile shield and a KD. Great.

Earth is excellent. Anti-projectile + CC removal in one ability, and of course the almighty Obsidian Flesh with its 4s of invuln where you are still able to move and use abilities.


The build I linked above is an improved version of a build I made in 5 mins during the latest stress test. The build I made during the stress test seemed to do real well when sparring against the AI. It had around 14k HP, 400-ish healing, 1.1k condition damage, ~34% crit, and 2.8k armor.
When I remade the build out of game, the first thing I wanted to do was not worry about crit. It was unnecessary to the build. I wanted to focus more on getting my healing up, amongst other things. The build I linked you has 15k HP, over 900 healing, 1.05k condition damage, and just under 3k armor.

So by sacrificing 50-100 condition damage and ~28% crit rate(which, as I already said, I found as unnecessary), I am able to gain around 1k HP, over 500 healing(which will be verrry nice with this build), and around 150 armor. I can't wait to try it out come release.

I'm always open to any suggestions/comments/constructive criticism on the build, of course.

Edited by TimeBomb, 23 August 2012 - 10:52 PM.


#14 WarmageTimeraider

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 10:18 AM

I love my scepter/focus combo... atm i am an slightly defensive elementalist with 30 in air and arcane (enduranceregen and glyphs -20% cooldown mostly) and using both elemental glyphs.
So i yust try to make sure they attack me.. i go defensive mode and protect myself while doing some dmg.. and my elementals will finish him off :D

#15 FrancisCrawford

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 10:29 AM

I don't find fire fields very exciting, and can hardly think of what to do with one as long lasting as Flamewall. That's one reason I don't like it. Ring of Fire is a little more frequent, a little easier to use, and more likely to actually burn the enemy.

Flamewall is probably better in a group than solo. But I think of Focus as mainly a solo or 1v1 weapon, due to its awesome Earth defenses, Swirling Winds notwithstanding.

That said -- the first time I run AC, if somebody tells me when we're getting close to Ranger Nente, I'll plan to whip out S/F for that fight. :) Maybe also for the guy who pulls and one-shots you, actually ...

#16 rizipt

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 02:37 PM

I don't know if it does it for you excitementwise, but you can throw projectile finishers through the flamewall.

#17 Jambas

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 04:05 PM

You can also place a flame wall inside a  Guardian Bubble.

#18 blindude

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 07:36 PM

Fire fields are at the very least a good boost on your dps through might stacking.They are very usefull fields actually.

#19 FrancisCrawford

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 01:20 AM

View Postrizipt, on 24 August 2012 - 02:37 PM, said:

I don't know if it does it for you excitementwise, but you can throw projectile finishers through the flamewall.

And generate yet longer duration Burning? If I'm in Scepter in Fire, I'm probably over-burning already.

As for the Might stacks -- OK. But do I wait to put a Flamewall up BEFORE using my blasts, or do I want to try to squeeze them out while I still have Fury from the attunement switch?

I guess that's a non-issue at low levels in PvE, but otherwise we're going to have the 5 pt Arcana trait, and some some boon extension as well.

-- FC

#20 rizipt

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 03:16 AM

Well yeah it allows you to extend burn duration while stacking bleeds.  It's not a one button kill maneuver but I think it has value.





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