Major edits/changes from recent updates marked in blue!
TABLE OF CONTENTS-----------------------------------------------------------------------
II. The General Build
- Weapons, Skills, and Stats
- Death Magic
- Blood Magic
- Underwater Combat
III. The Minions
- Weapon and Armor Affixes
- Upgrades and Sigils
V. Low Levels
Hi guys, ever since guild wars 1, I've enjoyed the notion of being a one man army. In gw1, a minion master was a support role who not only dished out massive AoE damage, but more importantly provided a massive meatshield that increased a party's survivability drastically. Although the style has obviously changed in gw2, a minion master retains that feeling of toughness and power that comes with leading your own army. So I thought I'd share with you guys my thoughts and build on the minion master since I see so many threads with questions on this.
You are one of the most unkillable forces in PvE. With 7 bodies of HP (and death shroud) coupled with high toughness, vitality (highest base vitality in the game), and healing power, you are a real tank in the game. Being at range means you get hit less often and less hard as well, so really most deaths should have been caused by you running off a cliff. You also do an admirable amount of single target damage with all your minions along with you focusing on one enemy. Your staff is also one of the best AoE option necromancers have.
Your DPS is generally below that of many other necromancer builds, particularly condition builds. With a reliance on minions, you are also reliant on their subpar AI. When your minions are down, you are also extremely vulnerable. Minions just get destroyed by AoE damage and are generally unviable in most dungeons. Marching around needing to maintain 6 other bodies is sort of clunky and might slow you down a bit when roaming the world.
The General Build---------------------------------------------------------------------------
This build is mainly meant for general PvE open-world map roaming and personal story completion, for which it actually excels quite well at. It is highly unsuited for the completion of the more challenging dungeons and fractals.
Weapons, Skills, and Stats
First off, it's absolutely essential that you bring all minion utility skills is you want to be a true minion master. The stats that our gear will be focusing on will be from the Apothecary line with healing power as the major trait, and condition damage and toughness as the minor traits. The staff is going to be the weapon here that you use 95% of the time. The secondary set is purely up to you and won't have much of an impact at all.
Dagger/dagger as a secondary set is good because what the minion master usually lacks is direct damage from himself, and what better way to remedy that than to use the necromancer's highest DPS weapon set? Plus, with the trait set-up that I'll explain, you end up having a lot of toughness in addition to healing power, making you pretty sturdy on the front lines.
Scepter/dagger is also very good. You'll be stacking lots of +condition damage, so the bleed from the scepter will be very strong. Not as strong as in conditionmancer builds, but still fairly strong. The advantage of this over dagger/dagger is that you'll be ranged.
Either way, dagger off hand provides a condition removal.
Finally, axe/focus provides good single target offensive minion support with its stacking of vulnerability, as well as a tiny amount of healing. It's dps may lose to dagger/dagger in the long run, and it may not have the AoE of scepter/dagger, but in the short run, axe/focus provides the most burst damage.
Whew, it seems that in conclusion almost any set can be your secondary weapon set, it just depends on what kinds of extra perks you want in a set. If it's sustained 1v1 dps, go dagger/dagger. If its high burst damage/minion support, go axe/focus. If it's condition damage, survivability, and AoE, go scepter/dagger. It honestly doesn't matter much since staff is used 95% of the time pretty much.
The spite line contains the "training of the master" trait that increases minion damage by 30%. Since minions theoretically should be doing most of your damage when they are all attacking, a 30% damage boost is simply too huge to give up in most cases. The "death into life" minor trait is also helpful in increasing your healing power, which will help in healing your minions. The first major trait is pretty arbitrary. The template uses "Spiteful Removal", for the added condition removal.
This is the obvious choice for minion masters (and the toughness bonus is very nice). First off, "flesh of the master" is a necessity no matter what variation of a minion master you use. Minions are just way too squishy without them. But here is where my build deviates from many others. Most minion builds use the "minion master" trait which lowers the cooldown for minion skills. I prefer using the two staff boosting skills however. "Minion master" just has that implication that makes minions will die anyway despite what you do. You cannot play the build thinking this way. You simply lose way too much in letting a minion die; you lose 20 toughness, you lose damage, but most importantly you lose the entire thing that your build is based off of. With the right amount of healing from mark of blood, your minions will be extremely durable in general PvE. Reducing staff cooldown obviously facilitates healing, since all your marks will be off cooldown more often. Greater marks may facilitate in healing your minions that attack from range, but mostly I put it in because it helps you hit enemies easier, and usually more enemies at a time. The "Death Nova" trait is bad for the same reason that "Minion Master" as a crutch is bad: your minions shouldn't be dying in the first place, or you should at least be avoiding it. "Necromatic Corruption" is just too situational: most mobs don't even have boons and the strip rate is just too small.
Blood magic is important for keeping both your minions and you alive. It keeps the minions alive because of the added healing power which helps mark of blood, as well as life transfer (4th skill from Death Shroud on land) healing them through "Transfusion". Chances are, you won't be under large threats of dying, making "Vampiric Master" somewhat unnecessary. So you might as well make yourself a better supporter and heal up your allies and your minions and take "Deathly Invigoration" instead. "Deathly Invigoration" will provide about 1000 or more in healing every 10 seconds if you spam death shroud on and off as soon as its off cooldown.
One very useful thing to remember is that both Life Transfer with the "Transfusion" trait and toggling death shroud on and off with "Deathly Invigoration" are actually ways to heal your minions out of combat (!). Transfusion actually needs no target to siphon from in order to activate its healing.
Note: both the abilities of "Transfusion" and "Deathly Invigoration" scale in effectiveness with healing power.
You will rely mostly on your marks and your minions to deal damage, however, spamming mark of blood as soon as it's off cooldown is your priority. The more often it goes down, the longer your minions last, and with such a long cooldown on minion skills, it is imperative that they don't go down. So a typical situation would probably start with you aggroing the mobs with Necrotic Grasp, followed by laying marks 2-5 down right away, then spamming each mark as it comes off of cooldown, with mark of blood always taking priority. Also enter death shroud when you have the trait "Transfusion" to mass heal your minions, as well as making sure to spam death shroud on and off every 10 seconds as soon as its off cooldown to make use of "Deathly Invigoration". Use the minion skills as soon as they're off cooldown for a bit more utility, although you may want to save the flesh golem's charge for a large pack of enemies as an AoE knockdown or to interrupt certain moves.
In essence, the build is very support and control oriented. Not because there's a lot of crowd control skills (although there are many, AoE chill, AoE fear, cripple, AoE knockdown), but because of the swarming, aggro, and body-blocking potential of minions in managing just one enemy, or an entire crowd of enemies. The highly-traited staff offers both offense in the form of more AoE, but at the same time lets you lay down larger and more frequent Marks of Blood, providing massive healing for minions, and support for melee party members (or even casters, the range of a Greater Marks Mark of Blood is pretty big). The apothecary set (specified later in the Equips section) provides you with a perfect stats for this build. Healing Power for the minions and support, Condition Damage for offense, and Toughness for defense, complementing the necromancers already large health pool. In this way, you can effectively fill three different roles, lending lots of healing support while being near unkillable yourself, as well as decent AoE damage and pretty good 1v1 potential.
I guess the cornerstone of everything can be said to be the staff, which through the use of only two traits (Greater Marks and Staff Mastery), provides both offense and defense. The minions simply augment the crowd control portion while providing targets for your staff support skills when no one else is around, and then adding damage on top of that.
Underwater combat essentially uses the same bar, just with Plague instead of Flesh Golem since no other Necro elites work underwater. Honestly though, the only reason that minions even work on land is because you can keep them maintained by healing them, something you can't do at all underwater (only way is to toggle Death Shroud on and off with Deathly Invigoration). If minions underwater aren't working well for you and are constantly dying (remember, we didn't invest in the Minion Master trait so the cooldowns are not reduced), just run a conditionmancer build with Blood is Power, Epidemic, and Signet of the Locust since the Apothecary adds condition damage as its offensive stat. Either way, spamming attack 1 with trident will be your main attack. Spear might do more damage in some cases, but you aren't specialized for it, and it is riskier being in close range.
*Credit for minion DPS goes to Fiesbert on the official GW2 Forums! https://forum-en.gui...irst#post258301. Testing done without traits as far as I can tell.
Many experience issues with their minions not attacking when they get into a fight. Here are some tips on triggering minion aggression:
1. Auto-attack the mob you want to attack using the 1 skill. This is important, especially for the staff. I was able to reliably replicate having my minions focus on a target by first attacking it once with 1. Marks will not work; your minions will continue to stand still if you use a mark on the enemy. Bone minions seem to be just a tiny bit less responsive to this, but that may just be anecdotal.
2. Using the corresponding minion skills has so far had a 100% success rate in making minions attack. Obviously, this will only apply for some.
3. Running away far enough will disengage your minions. For flesh golem, however, you tend to have to run away farther. You'll know when he's back when he teleports back.
It should also be noted that minion attributes (power, vitality, toughness) do not scale with your stats or your traits, the exception being the traits that explicitly say they affect minions (Flesh of the Master, Training of the Master).
Blood Fiend - Use him because you have no alternative. Each minion means 20 toughness, so it's best to bring as many as you can. Well of Blood's recharge is too long to justify using it as a means to heal your minions. Can regenerate health out of combat.
Bone Fiend - Use because you have no other choice. I don't like this guy much; he does the least damage besides for each individual bone minion and is ALWAYS the one who is targetted by mobs first, if they get the chance too (this has to be a glitch, idk). Super squishy with a high cooldown and is often outside your mark of blood range but w/e, there's no alternative.
Shadow Fiend - Awesome minion. Inherently tougher than many of the other minions and haunt is useful in blinding bosses. Is always on the front line so he will be a meatshield for you and is constantly healed by mark of blood. Can regenerate health out of combat.
Bone Minions - Probably more resilient than what you thought they would be because of all the healing the get from mark of blood. They do okay damage if both are alive, but generally try not to explode them because they are worth more to you alive than dead (extra meatshields, each will be 20 extra toughness because of the "Protection of the Horde" minor trait)
DPS: 90.85 (Counts both)
Flesh Golem - Awesome elite skill even if you aren't a minion master. This guy can AoE knockdown and does a ton of damage. This guy seems to be getting better and better with each patch having gone through numerous AI and health/toughness buffs. His attacks also auto-cripple.
Flesh Worm - Yes, he's good if you're one place for a long time, but the fact that you can't move him is VERY bad, basically the same as always having one less (or two) minion. The biggest pro about him is that he does a lot of damage. Maybe you can use him in a long dungeon fight...? Idk
Jagged Horror - These little guys won't last long in fights due to their constant internal degen, but when they are up, they will provide you the +20 toughness from Protection of the Horde and will bleed the enemy on an attack. If you are constantly spamming Mark of Blood and endless mobs are coming at you, it is entirely possible to keep 3-4 of them up, with having 5 momentarily. Flesh of the Master does affect these guys as well.
Weapon and Armor Affixes
Although this build is not meant to be a fully defensive build, I still prefer playing to a minion master's strengths, which is defense. Therefore I would recommend stacking healing power over mediocre damage boosting stats (for minion masters anyway) like power or precision.
Apothecary affix (++healing power, +toughness, +condition damage) is by far the best option for minion masters, providing maximum healing for minions, toughness to compliment high necromancer base HP, and condition damage to boost a necromancer's main method of damage dealing. Jewelry should ideally be apothecary as well (look up passiflora on the trading post).
The ascended version (accessory, amulet, ring) of all these affixes can be at the Laurel Merchants in every major city. The ascended version of the apothecary backpiece is only obtainable through the upgrade of the Sclerite Karka Shell, which in turn was only obtainable during the Secret of Southsun event.
Your weapons (basically staff) should be apothecary.
So what about your other weapons that isn't the staff? They really don't matter much at all, but just for reference, my personal preference is like this:
Scepter: Rabid (++condition damage, +precision, +toughness)
Main-Hand Dagger: Berserker (++power, +precision, +critical damage)
Off-Dagger: Rabid with Scepter, Berserker with Main-Hand Dagger
Why the sudden shift to Berserker on some of those weapons? First off, none of the weapons listed with Berserker benefit from condition damage, thus it would be pointless to have additional condition damage on them. Also, the rest of your equips/trait set-up is so defense oriented that it's not a risk at all to go glass cannon stats on the one or two weapons that you will hardly ever use. Lastly, none of the weapons can heal, except for the focus, but even then the healing is very, very small, so there's little benefit from investing in anymore healing power. The difference in Deathly Invigoration healing will be hardly noticeable.
Upgrades and Sigils
There are very few effects of runes that minion masters can benefit from. Therefore, it is preferable to use orbs, since the total number of stats you gain from those is greater than the number of stats you gain from runes (except for runes of divinity, which is insanely expensive and offers little specialization). Therefore, I recommend filling everything with Sapphire Orbs. These are also much cheaper than runes.
A Superior Sigil of Life should go on your staff, as it offers a huge bonus in healing power to help heal your minions with.
Sigils on your other weapons don't matter a whole lot. Sigil of Force is a good choice for any weapon, as is Sigil of Agony (increase bleed duration) for your trident, scepter, or off-hand dagger. Really though, any effects are negligible and you can do whatever you want. Perhaps having a Sigil of Agony on your trident is really the only sigil that will have a real importance in some cases, since you will mainly be using trident underwater.
Note: Apothecary affix upgrades only go up to level 65.
In conclusion: All Apothecary armor, staff, and trinkets with Sapphire Orbs on the armor and a Superior Sigil of Life on the staff.
I found that playing a minion master was very frustrating with my minions constantly dying up until I was able to unlock flesh of the master. So for low levels, I recommend unlocking "Minion Master" for the reduced cooldowns right away (minions die a lot in the early levels because of the lack of healing power and "Flesh of the Master"), then going for 20 Death Magic for "Flesh of the Master" as soon as you can. It's pretty safe to go the glass cannon power -> condition damage/precision armor stats as well since things will be easier. Staff and dagger/dagger would likely be your weapon sets for the very early levels, as the conditions from scepter/dagger need a lot of traits to function well and that you probably won't have because you're too low leveled or won't get because you're running a minion build.
As always, please don't be afraid to comment or make a suggestion below. Especially in the case that I need to update some information, as the game is constantly changing.
Thank you for reading my guide and I hope this helps you a lot.
SPECIAL THANKS TO THOSE WHO HAVE OFFERED CONSTRUCTIVE ADVICE OR SUGGESTED THINGS THAT I HAVE INTEGRATED INTO THE GUIDE (or was at one point in the guide)!
Mathog - Corrected some errors and false information that I had previously included
Miss Nightly - Suggested the use of scepter as a secondary weapon
Stellar - Suggested use the of axe/focus
Setharos - Started writing in my changes and updates per his suggestion
Reverse Ghost - Added an insightful post about stacking boon durations in order to utilize secondary weapon sets (axe/focus)
Edited by OChunx, Yesterday, 01:22 AM.