Major edits/changes from most recent update marked in blue!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. The General Build
- Weapons, Skills, and Stats
- Underwater Combat
- Death Magic
- Blood Magic
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 the real "tank" in the game (as in survivability, not taking hits). 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. As long as all your minions attack, you also do insane single target damage, perhaps the most out of all builds. Your staff is also the best AoE necros have, so in an ideal situation, you could be doing the most single and AoE damage out of all necro builds.
Minions are dumb. They are just inexcusably dumb. On average, around 50% of the time, a minions won't attack at all. And when you don't want them to attack, you find them wandering off to hunt a jotun or something. Unless you want your minion to die or you want to enter your next battle with hurt minions, you have to go help your pets, slowing you down a lot as you simply walk around. Hopefully AI will be fixed in the future. The addition of out of combat regen would also be good as right now.
The General Build
(Recommended mostly for solo, dungeon options listed in variations for death magic)
In this guide, I have listed many variants and many alternatives to the main build and equips. However, it is strongly, strongly, STRONGLY, suggested that you keep to the main build in most cases. That is:
- stick with the same traits
- stick with the staff
- stick with healing power
This guide's explanations, unless otherwise stated, assume you follow the main build.
All will be explained in time...
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.
USEFUL TIP: If you stack boon duration and regeneration duration with 2 runes of the water, 2 runes of dwayna, and 2 runes of the monk, you can safely swap to a secondary weapon set and make use of it while maintaining regeneration on your minions after throwing down a few Marks of Blood.(thanks Reverse Ghost!)
The general idea with this build is that it is a crossroads between going a fully defensive minion master tank (10 curses, 30 death magic, 30 blood magic) and going a fully offensive minion master glass cannon (20 spite, 30 curses, 20 death magic). You will rely mostly on your mark 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". Generally, I don't find the minion skills to be worth using except for the flesh golem's charge or if you are fighting a veteran/champion. Then the single target minion skills will be actually useful.
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 times 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 balance for this build. Healing Power for the minions and support, Condition Damage for offense, and Toughness for defense. 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.
It may seem unorthodox and different from many other "minion master" builds to focus mainly on the staff and healing and support, instead of say, go glass cannon rampager equips (again, equips and affixes are elaborated on in the Equips section) and have a scepter or axe as the main set. The thing is, the other necromancer weapons simply have no synergy with minions. If you are using a condition build, or a power build, it is best to simply just focus on those aspects and bring traits and utility skills that augment the things you want to focus on (dealing damage with the scepter, or power weapon) instead of half-heartedly mixing in minions that do nothing for your main weapon set, and in return the main weapon set does nothing for the minions. Those kinds of builds can function perfectly without minions, and try to combine two separate spheres to no additional effect. You want the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts, not a whole that is content with being equal to its parts.
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.
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.
Variations: Not putting anything in spite, and instead putting 10 in curses and maxing out death and blood magic. In this case, you will be the main damage dealer instead of the minions and your minions will be more durable because of the extra healing power you get from blood magic. Reaper's Might can also help add damage and Death's Embrace can make it easier to get back up when downed if you don't want another condition removal (there is two already in the build).
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 you realistically cannot expect your minions to do all the damage. You as the master not only provide a significant portion of damage, but also ALL the AoE in your build. "Minion master" is necessary, however, if you plan to go minion master in dungeons or PvP/WvW, where your minions will inevitably die. 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.
Variations: Using "Minion Master" instead of "Greater Marks". Putting 20 in death magic and 30 in blood magic for greater healing power to keep minions alive. If you want to be a minion bomber, combine "Minion Master" with "Death Nova" and drop the two staff traits. Doing this also means that you can skip out on investing in healing power equips and just use a rabid set. Traiting as a minion bomber is also okay for dungeons, since it's inevitable that your minions will die. Sticking with the original build and having extremely high healing power, however, is good in its own way for healing and supporting your melee teammates and is still preferable even in dungeons in my opinion.
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 700 in healing every 10 seconds if you spam death shroud on and off as soon as its off cooldown. "Bloodthirst" would only provide about 1000 extra healing every 40 seconds.
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 needs no target to siphon from in order to activate its healing, although it will also not scale up in healing amount from healing power or number of targets, should you use it in battle.
Variations: Taking 10 out of death magic/spite in order to max blood magic and max your healing power. If you do this, I recommend using either "Bloodthirst" (Increases healing of Life Transfer, but not damage). "Fetid Consumption" can work, I suppose, but generally your minions are under much higher thread of dying then you are, with your massive necromancer health pool that is hardly affected by conditions.
Another double trait combination that works well is "Bloodthirst" and "Vampiric Master", as "Bloodthirst" increases the amount that minions siphon to you, giving a vampiric aspect to your build.
If you are a skilled dodger and good with positioning, Mark of Evasion can be substituted for Deathly Invigoration as it can both heal and provide extra damage. The Mark of Blood that comes from this trait can be stacked with the one from your staff, however the difficulty in hitting these and the 10 second internal cooldown of Mark of Bloods really hurt this trait. In addition, Deathly Invigoration provides instant healing, instead of simply longer regeneration (if you are spamming #2 on your staff, you'll have continuous regeneration anyway so any additional regeneration won't do much).
*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. Minions tend to attack when they are attacked, but do not as attack as often as when you start the engagement (as in strategy 1).
3. Using the corresponding minion skills has so far had a 100% success rate in making minions attack. Obviously, this will only apply for some.
4. 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.
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.
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 often does just as much DPS as you spamming your staff marks, in fact most of the time he does more. As an extra, this is the only minion with out of combat regeneration, so it's less vital to be watching his HP bar. His attacks also auto-cripple. The only downside is flesh golem tends to wander off to attack other mobs more than the other minions do, with inanimate objects taking precedence.
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 it was earlier stated that 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. However, I'll outline the offensive alternatives in here as well.
With the release of Lost Shores, the Apothecary affix now exists in the game (++healing power, +toughness, +condition damage). It is by far the best option for minion masters, providing maximum healing for minions, toughness to compliment high necro base HP, and condition damage to boost a necro's main method of damage dealing.
Slightly cheaper alternatives include the cleric's (++healing power, +power, +toughness) and rampager's sets (++precision, +power, +condition damage). The rabid set is the go-to set if you want to be more offensive oriented (++condition damage, +toughness, +precision).
Jewelry should ideally be apothecary as well (look up passiflora on the trading post). Offensive types go rabid. The Temple of Dwayna in Malchor's Leap also offers exotic rabid jewelry for 42k karma per piece.
Something important to note here is that apothecary jewelry is outrageously priced, I'm talking almost 200 gold(!!!!) for 2 rings, 2 earrings, and an amulet. Given that not everyone has the funds to afford this psedo-legendary set (in cost), cleric jewelry is the clear alternative.
The ascended version (accessory, amulet, ring) of all these affixes can be at the Laurel Merchants in every major city. Only rabid has an ascended backpiece.
Your weapons (basically staff) should be apothecary, with the continuing theme that offense focused minion masters go rabid.
Table showing the affix recommendations for armor and weapons at each level, based on a defensive (Def) or offensive (Off) focus. Bolded is the recommended one, non-bolded the alternative. Don't waste your money on non-optimal exotic/ascended armor.
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:
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, because of the weapons listed with Berserker, none of them benefit from condition damage. 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. Also 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 either orbs or crests for all your slots, 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 either Sapphire Orbs or Crests of the Rabid. Both these options are also much cheaper than runes, especially such sets as runes of the afflicted.
The only good sets of runes that offer a viable alternative are the runes of the undead, which provide a lot of toughness and condition power (although you lose out on a lot of healing power) and superior runes of dwayna with +healing power and regeneration duration (although you lose out on total number of overall stats).
2 Runes of Dwayna, 2 Runes of the Water, and 2 Runes of the Monk also offer +30% boon duration and +20% regeneration duration to make your regeneration last longer. This is not needed in most cases, however, as with the reduced staff cooldowns and with the +30% boon duration from 30 death magic, the regeneration that Mark of Blood applies will already last longer than the cooldown duration of Mark of Blood. Stacking this much boon/regen duration is useful if you plan on weapon swapping between cycles, as your minions will continue to heal after you swap weapons. It can be useful to more effectively utilize a second set of weapons, such as switching to axe to stack vulnerability, though this playstyle hasn't been fully tested yet by me or some of the contributors on this thread and is recommended for more advanced players.
Make sure to place a "stack on kill" sigil on your weapons as well, preferably a superior sigil of life for healing minions (recommended) or a superior sigil of corruption if you are going more offensive (fits a rabid set more). There aren't many other necessary sigils, so put in one of the aforementioned upgrades (sapphire orb or crest of the rabid).
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 "staff mastery" or "minion master" for the reduced cooldowns right away (minions die a lot in the early levels b/c of 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.
This isn't meant to be part of the guide; I just want to share my opinion on the state of the minion master.
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!
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, 02 March 2013 - 01:37 AM.