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The 'Balanced' Support Necro Build

balance support necro build

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#1 Bloggi



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Posted 21 October 2012 - 06:37 PM

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"A 'Support Build' in this game can be likened to the use of undergarments. Little realize how important it is until it is sorely missing."


The Necromancer in Guild Wars 2 has been considered an enigma by some. Numerous queries have been posted to these forums in search for suggestions on viable builds for this profession. Fortunately, there's also been a steady proliferation of guides proposing a myriad of excellent builds. It is hoped that this guide will provide yet another build for consideration, with references to the Guild Wars 2 Wiki and explanations for the benefit of the newer players in our midst.

This guide proposes a 'Balanced/ Support' build which readily allows switching of utility skills between Corruptions and Wells, while providing great benefits to allies in small group play. This build excels in mitigating or reducing damage from foes through debuffing (with frequent weakness along with chill, blind, cripple and vulnerability), is adept at condition control, has the ability to provide useful combo fields, with poison and bleed conditions for damage over time, utilises Death Shroud to increase survivability, and to augment its weapon and utility skills.

The traitline setup also grants access to what could be some of the best minor traits available to the Necromancer, including Furious Demise, Target the Weak and Last Gasp.

The variant that involves the use of Wells is very capable on land, even in large 'zerg fights' where the Corruption skills appear to struggle. While underwater, Wells are not usable, but this is coincidentally the type of combat that a lot of players would rather avoid, so it is here that the Corruption skills have a chance to shine. This is helped further by the high density of foes in some underwater locations.

A Little About Myself

In 'real life' I work as a full-time veterinarian and have done so for over 5 years as of this time. Hobbies include photography, fishing and also writing. In the past I used to write product reviews for a website which demanded detail, which might explain why some of my posts on this forum have been [unnecessarily] verbose and formal. Hopefully this guide will hold your interest despite the detail. I've always enjoyed helping people and animals of all kinds and try to apply this to everything I do...whether it may be at an online forum or in a multiplayer game. As such I hope this guide will be helpful and worth the time you spend reading it. As always, feedback is greatly appreciated, especially if any errors need to be corrected.

The Build and its two of its Variants

Wells variant
Conditions variant

The links above demonstrate only two broad variants based on the same trait line setup, which in reality gives a lot of flexibility in your choice of traits, which you can modify out of combat to fit your playstyle or requirements, without needing to spend any in-game coin on a re-trait. It is recommended to open the links to both the build variants above and review them side by side while reading the guide. This is because the key traits of choice are within those templates while other potential choices are discussed later in the guide. Notice that in the case of either build, I did not include the use of any amulets or jewelry, however the choice of gear attributes is covered towards the end of the guide.

Trait Line Setup

Curses (30 points invested)

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Other than the options covered in the two build templates above, some of the other useful traits available are:

Weakening Shroud- This will cast the near equivalent of Enfeebling Blood (a dagger OH skill) over your current position as you enter Death Shroud. A strong ability with limited range due to its 240 unit radius.

Spectral Attunement- A potential choice if you decide to use Spectral skills such as Spectral Walk (incredible for its base 30 seconds of swiftness plus Life Force generation if struck during the 'spectral' phase), Spectral Armor (substandard at this point with only 6 seconds of protection on a 90 second cooldown) or Spectral Wall (tricky to use, but undeniably useful, is both offensive and defensive and provides an additional combo field) instead of Plague Signet. Spectral Grasp is another offensive and useful skill that can be used in some situations.

Blood Magic (20 points invested)

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Other useful traits worth discussing are:

Dagger Mastery and/ or Bloodthirst- Offensive-defensive (respectively) options for a dual dagger Necromancer.

Mark of Evasion- Another very good trait. The Mark of Blood from this trait differs from the staff counterpart mainly because it is also a blast finisher.

Vampiric Precision- Currently substandard, but has the potential to be very useful with a high precision build such as this one, if health siphoning is improved.

Transfusion- Awesome area of effect (AoE) healing (albeit in pretty small amounts in this build) for your allies, and less situational than Ritual of Life, but the latter makes this build a superb reviver because the resulting Well of Blood heals you, then leaves a lingering light field and minor healing for the next 10 seconds.

Soul Reaping (20 points invested)

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Vital Persistence- A good trait to consider instead of Soul Marks if you find yourself frequently running out of Life Force through natural drain. Personally I find that this build generates plenty of Life Force in actual use.

Spectral Mastery- Like Spectral Attunement, a reasonable choice if you prefer to use Spectral skills instead of Plague Signet.

Unyielding Blast- An underrated trait with good potential, but it may be tempting to be stuck in auto-attack mode instead of cycling through your other weapon skills and utilities in a more efficient manner.

Mark of Revival- Excellent in combination with Ritual of Life in cases where you find yourself getting a lot of other players on their feet, which does happen on a fair few occasions.

Decaying Swarm- Situational, but if you are in a real pickle and need to kite away then this could save your life!

Choice of Utilities

Some of the other useful utilities (besides those already mentioned) that will fit into either one of the two broad variants suggested above are:

Corrupt Boon- Useful on some of the big champs/ bosses that self-boon. A lot of these same foes are unshakable which makes blind markedly less effective. Occasionally you will also encounter trash mobs that are immune to blind. If you are using the Wells variant of the build, use Well of Corruption instead.

Signet of Undeath- Very slow to cast, easily interrupted skill. Occasionally wasted since the downed player will either die, be revived by another player or rally through getting a kill. Pull it off successfully in a sour situation however, and it will turn the tide dramatically. This skill allows you to revive another player while standing a safe distance away from the action. Logically this skill would be well complemented by Ritual of Life and Mark of Revival, but both of these traits trigger at your location rather than at the location of the revived ally.

Summon Flesh Wurm- The primary purpose of this skill in an otherwise non-minion build is for mobility. At this time my experience with it is purely experimental. Occasionally I've encountered instances where I had to traverse areas with dangerous/ annoying foes that I'd rather not fight. Spectral Walk would not necessarily get me out of these situations by itself. In the future, I will be testing these two skills in combination to see how well they work.

Choice of Elite

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This will be brief, because truly, both Plague and Lich form are very good Elite skills. Plague is naturally more fitting in a 'support' build with its strong crowd control (CC) abilities, while Lich form is incredibly damaging and game-changing because of its offensive nature, providing a giant boost to power and critical chance. It has minor CC ability with Chilling Wind and arguably Mark of Horror, and Grim Specter as condition control. Plague form is my personal choice in dungeons where I prefer to play a supportive role, while in open world PvE events, zergs, farming and solo situations, I prefer Lich for its ability to destroy foes.

Choice of Weapons

To be concise, I favor the staff as my main weapon, especially combined with Wells which provide fields for additional combos. On a weapon swap my personal choice for an offhand (OH) has always been the dagger. The choice of mainhand (MH) is a little more murky. The scepter, axe and dagger MH each have their own uses.

Under the most controlled conditions I could achieve, the scepter autoattack trumps that of the axe, dropping a heavy armored golem more quickly and by a good margin. In a separate test rotating through the three skills of each weapon, the scepter still comes up on top. On a light armored golem the difference is smaller, but the impression I get is that in this particular build, the scepter is more damaging than the axe under most circumstances. With the number of conditions you can stack on a target, Feast of Corruption deals very attractive damage on a single target. Caps to bleed and poison stacks during many big boss fights does limit the usefulness of the scepter in these cases. Choose between the axe and the dagger instead to deal more 'vanilla' (direct) damage.

The axe has the edge when it comes to Life Force generation and the ability to stack vulnerability which other players can then take advantage of. It also appears to trigger weakness from Withering Precision more often than attacks from a scepter. Ghastly Claws is hard hitting and has a low cooldown, while Unholy Feast deals area of effect (AoE) damage, is an AoE cripple, grants retaliation to self, and can be useful for getting 'tags' on a mob while farming with a team.

Both the axe and dagger MH are stronger than the scepter when used on inanimate objects (which do not take damage from conditions) such as turrets and gates. The dagger MH autoattacks are strong and generate Life Force quickly, with the drawback of requiring the player to be in melee range. Life Siphon on the dagger MH however, is awesome with its offensive and minor defensive capability.

In the interest of constantly generating Life Force (which will keep you in Death Shroud more often and protect your health pool), I will usually pick either the scepter or axe over the dagger. Sometimes I have all three available to choose from as the need dictates. With this traitline setup, it is easy to re-trait for the use of the dagger if you wish, with a focus on siphoning health.

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The staff is a natural choice for many builds, particularly a defensive one like the one proposed here. It is a long-range weapon with tremendous levels of utility that can be used and abused with the dark combo fields from Wells. By itself, the staff provides one combo field (poison) from Chillblains, plus two combo finishers from Putrid Mark (reliably generates area weakness when used with a poison field) and Necrotic Grasp.

General Tactics

Wait patiently for the mob to get into position, drop a Well of Suffering, then quickly lay on Chillblains, followed by Putrid Mark and then Mark of Blood. This will only take seconds to perform, causing weakness, blindness, chill, bleeding and poison on up to 5 foes within a radius, plus ongoing damage and stacking vulnerability from the Well of Suffering for a short period of time and regeneration on allies within the radius of Mark of Blood.

For additional CC, there are many options at your disposal. Well of Darkness is an AoE blind pulsing every second for 5 seconds, while the use of Plague of Darkness while in Plague form can blind foes in the same manner for the entire 20 second duration. Deathly Swarm from dagger OH also blinds up to 3 targets. Traiting for Chilling Darkness further strengthens the utility of these skills. Reaper's Mark and the Death Shroud fear skills, Doom and Wave of Fear are also indispensible CC skills.

Use Plague Signet (currently bugged to some degree, sometimes copying conditions from allies to yourself rather than actually removing them, but once fixed will become a superb stun break and condition control) and Putrid Mark to remove conditions from allies and transfer them to a foe. If you are conditioned and struggling with both those skills on cooldown, use Deathly Swarm (still bugged to some degree, see the Wiki for more info) or turn them to your benefit by using Consume Conditions.

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Death Shroud is one of the Necromancer's coolest abilities and should be used frequently, not just as an 'Oh $%*^' button to soak damage when disabled or when you forsee a big hit and have run out of energy to dodge, but to apply pressure and for its CC abilities such as fear (with Doom) and chill (with Dark Path which also adds bleeding). Life Transfer is useful AoE damage and I tend to use it straight after getting into Death Shroud to take advantage of the bonus from Furious Demise, but like any channeled skill it is easily interrupted, so take some care before using it. This build encourages the use of Death Shroud by traiting for reduced cooldown on all its associated skills through Path of Midnight.

Avoid getting stuck in auto-attack mode. Instead, cycle through your weapon skills (on both weapon slots), utilities, Death Shroud and Elite form (where appropriate) to apply consistent pressure. I'm personally adverse to face-tanking and prefer to practice active dodging, kiting and circle-strafting where necessary, always watching my allies, foes and my position on the field.

Choice of Gear Attributes, Runes & Sigils

Obtaining a high level of precision is one of the aims of this build, with secondary attention to toughness and condition damage, then critical damage and power being of tertiary importance. High precision works defensively with Withering Precision to keep weakness on a foe more often, while a critical hit is always a welcome bonus to damage. With that in mind, consider using armor and/ or weapons with the following inscriptions:

More aggressive options: Rampager and Berserker
More defensive options: Knight and Rabid

Rabid gear is a good match for this build, but the inscription cannot be crafted and gear with these attributes is difficult to obtain or expensive, so consider this a long-term goal if you wish to go this route. See here for more detail on item attributes. Mix and match items with different attributes to achieve the balance that suits your playstyle.

For Runes, choose amongst the following, using a set of up to 6 of the same runes:

More expensive- Superior Rune of the Eagle, Thief or Ranger (take a set of 5)
Middle ground- Superior Rune of Lyssa
Cheapest for PvE- Superior Rune of Rata Sum

In theory, the 6th bonus from a full set of Superior Runes of Lyssa is tremendous for Lich form, however as of the last test there are some bugs. Going into Lich form does not grant you any boons. If you stay in Lich until the entire duration, you also do not receive any boons when returning to normal form. However, if you get out of Lich form before the entire 30 second duration is over, then the boons are applied. With Plague form however, the boons are applied as promised. This has been queried with Support for clarification.

Superior Rune of Rata Sum is a diamond in a rough, an inexpensive set that meshes well with the one of the philosophies of this build in PvE only: applying weakness as often as possible and for as long as possible. For WvW however, its effectiveness is reduced. My assumption is that Radiation Field would never trigger since it is a racial (and hence PvE only) skill.

When it comes to Sigils, choose amongst the following:

Staff- Superior Sigil of Earth, Debility (does take effect when you apply area weakness with Putrid Mark in Chillblain's combo field), Fire (offensive, and for farming), or Accuracy.

Scepter- Superior Sigil of Earth or Agony.

Axe- Superior Sigil of Earth, Accuracy or Fire.

Dagger OH- Superior Sigil of Agony, Accuracy, Debility or Fire.

Sigils do take effect even in Death Shroud. Those that have a chance to apply their effect on a critical hit will work very well with Life Transfer and the short-term bonus effect of the minor Curses trait, Furious Demise. When dual wielding, be aware that two such identical sigils have a combined 36% chance to take effect, not 40% (as per info on the Wiki page on Sigils).


If you read through all of that and reached the end, then I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your time and attention and hope the information was helpful. If you didn't read it all, no matter either! The bottomline however is that none of this information is gospel truth. It is merely an opinion. It is expected that many builds and variants will emerge as the game continues to mature and the Necromancer finds its place amongst other professions. In the meantime, it is hoped that this guide was useful to you in some way, and that you will in time, find the build that is perfect for YOU.

Till then nevertheless, happy playing!

Edited by Xekk, 27 October 2012 - 11:12 AM.

#2 Donkulous


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Posted 24 October 2012 - 12:33 PM

Okay - since no one else commented. First, it's a great general purpose guide to what seems to work best for Necromancers and it's well written, and you went the extra mile and spelled out all the traits, runes, etc linking to them when you could so people knew exactly what you're talking about and included images - making this more fun to read and easily understandable than most guides.

For those that don't know there are two popular ways to spec a necromancer, that is speccing for condition damage or for direct damage. Condition damage is mostly based on scepter/staff bleed/poison combos. Direct damage is based on axe/dagger and well utilities.

This guide tries to strike a balance between those and offer more suggestion on how to play a support necro. The question this guide leaves me asking is - why play a balanced build at all? Why not just commit to either condition damage / support or direct damage / wells.

But let's ignore that question for now and assume you want to play a balanced build for some reason (and by balanced the OP means being able to switch from condition to direct damage without retraiting) - then the question becomes: why did you pick the traits lines and traits you did. Basically this guide gives us 30 curses, 20 Blood Magic / Soul Reaping - and lists a bunch of traits that can work and be changed out (like most of them) - but what the guide doesn't do is explain why you picked these trait lines (as opposed to others) for this balanced build. How exactly does 20 in Soul Reaping help a balanced build as opposed to 20 in any other unused line.

Now, for me, I have some specific criteria when it comes to what makes a good spec/build and here it is:

1. There has to be synergy - the sum of the choices have to combine together to be exceptional in at least one area. That is when you activate X utility, with Y trait, using Z weapon you get more than X + Y + Z. The synergy of the choices product a force multiplier that makes it more powerful. AND this has to be explained so that people understand why it works - otherwise there's no point in posting a build for others.

2. It has to be fun. This is a personal thing, I mean - it's a game right. Fun is high up on the list. And people writing guides should tell you why it's fun for them.

That's it. Now based on this (admittedly subjective) criteria I think this build is not very good. The synergy attempted and explained concerns being flexible (being able to swap weapons and traits without retraiting) - and ostensibly it's fun to be flexible.... except it's not.

It's not fun to sit there and switch your weapons around and pick different traits because you think one might be better in a specific case than another. We all do it anyway, because everyone can use different weapons and pick traits no matter what spec you're running.

Obviously the OP thought about this and did a good job writing it - but it falls flat for me because he / she lost her way. The OP started writing a guide about how to be a support necro but quickly diverted into being an adaptable necro with lots of flexibility - the two are not the same.

I'd like to see a support necro where the trait choices are explained, and the author gives us some synergy and explains the benefit of playing a support necro, but this guide isn't it.

#3 Bloggi



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Posted 25 October 2012 - 05:50 AM

Thanks for the comment Donkulous. Great to get a discussion going. I was a little cautious about how much info exactly to put into the guide. A little too much and few will read it, and if erring on the side of not spelling out enough detail then it may actually not be informative enough. There are a number of little synergies in this build, a lot of it given by Anet themselves through arrangement of the traitlines.

This is first and foremost, a build which I made for the purposes of support, but needed it to be traited in a manner that it will stand effectively on its own, because quite simply, a lot of the time we are not actually in an organized team with other folks and need to be able to solo content effectively.

To add, 'support' brings to my mind other requirements such as being defensive and having great survivability, because support is useless if it doesn't last long. The points you mentioned are all valid, and I shall expand on the original post. It's lengthy so I hope you bear with me.

There are indeed a few popular ways to build a necro: condition builds and power builds as you mentioned, and perhaps minion builds. The reason why I've found this build very fun to play is because of its versatility, survivability and the ability to offer support to a group of allies. Firstly, playing support builds is an area of personal interest...I believe a group likes a player who can look after the rest of the team while looking after him/ herself. Secondly, being able to last and outlast is part of the fun. Thirdly, the ability to switch between conditions and wells as appropriate is a key attraction.

Allow me to explain the point on versatility, let's consider an average dungeon run. Well of Suffering and Well of Darkness are superb against trash mobs with their AoE effect, damaging and debuffing at the same time with vulnerability from WoS, blind from WoD plus chill (synergy with the Chilling Darkness trait, as with the other blind ability on the OH dagger). BiP and Epidemic could achieve the same damaging effect on trash mobs but it truly becomes lethal only over time, and the lack of the defense of a pulsing blind & chill effect is also a minus for me. Frontliners who are usually already capable of putting out significant DPS will benefit more from the blind and chill on foes (and also the vulnerability) than a constant bleed.

Things change when we're up against a fairly mobile boss. Such a boss is unshakable which makes blindness 10% as effective, nullifying the use of Well of Darkness (if we don't blind, we don't chill either), and constant movement means the boss will take one or two hits from a Well of Suffering (the vulnerability also lasts only half as long on the boss), so it's very little damage on a relatively long cooldown (even when traiting for Ritual Mastery). The same bosses can be extremely dangerous and force a player to kite when he/ she is the focus of aggro. At these times, the range of BiP allows us to drop a bleed on the boss from a safe distance (and even use Putrid Mark to transfer our self bleed to that boss from the same distance), and continue to apply constant pressure even when kiting. In essence, the playstyle with such a boss is not about burst, it is about survivability and sustained damage over time. And BiP is a great DoT skill.

In open world PvE when soloing, BiP and Epidemic is again very effective until we encounter big boss events with their associated massive zergs, which means reaching the caps on conditions. Going for Corruption skills only in these fights is simply not as effective as going with a WoS and even a Well of Corruption if you so choose (usually in these cases the boss either has limited mobility or is too busy trying to get a hit instead of actually moving). The cap means our conditions have very little chance of actually making a difference, and Epidemic is of no purpose on a single target. Corrupt Boon...debatable, especially if there are actually no boons to corrupt. WoC on the other hand at least still does *minor* damage even if there are no corruptible boons. Furthermore, the wells provide dark fields which give synergy with any other ally that uses a finisher of some sort. A necro can take advantage of these wells also but the effect is negligible in such a boss fight.

I consider it seriously unfun to spec entirely into a condition or a power build and then need to visit a skill trainer to retrait (nevermind about the coin because the cost is small) whenever I encounter a situation requiring a switch in order to remain equally effective. In some cases this is also not easily done...again using a dungeon run as an example.

At the risk of offending people, but trying to be as diplomatic as possible, I've also believed that the line between a 'condition build' and a 'power build' is really not all that clear cut. For example, putting points into Spite will increase condition duration AND power. Placing points into Curses increases the critical chance AND critical damage. In essence you can then get a build that, at its extreme, will have high power, high critical chance, long condition duration and high condition damage, a hybrid build. We can choose to run a highly damaging build with conditions and/ or wells with say, a 30/30/0/10/0 traitline. But as with any other 'glass cannon' build, that leaves me concerned about survivability. Skill of play (ie. use of dodging and kiting) aside, a build like this has less survivability than the build I suggest.

In open-world PvE mobs, it may be possible to dominate everything with sheer aggression before going down, but again, IMO, the ability to beat a foe in an explorable dungeon (even trash mobs can hit incredibly hard, and we're a cloth class) is not with overwhelming DPS, but with stamina, and that requires a big health pool. Some players appreciate the challenge of using a high damage, glass cannon build. But for me, it is more fun to sustain hits and shrug them off.

Indirectly also, if I die, I compromise the fun for the rest of the members in the team because they're always waiting for me to return, carrying on without me (in which case I have made no contribution to the team), or spending time rezzing me when they could be doing something else. So that is completely counterproductive to the idea of making a support build. I understand that dungeons may not be everyone's cup of tea, but do suspect that the vast majority of the community will at least try them once, if only not to do them ever again. The important thing is quite simply, to be ready with a build when that time comes.

The support build I suggest here actually has a key focus on putting out as much debuffing on foes as possible, especially weakness. But a pure 'debuffing build' does not make a lot of sense IMO, so thinking further, how can we achieve a build that is good with debuffing but has the ability to output vanilla damage to actually kill foes? Somebody at the forums once made a statement along these lines (which I modified somewhat, but it is an excellent and true statement):

'Trait for perks and gear for the required boosts to primary attributes.'

So to tie in all the above let's see where that leaves us in terms of trait point choices:

A least 20 points in Curses is needed to make my wells ground targetted. With dangerous dungeon bosses especially, and in most circumstances, it is scores safer to be ranged than within striking distance. This easily allows me to switch to Master of Corruption for 20% faster recharge on Corruption skills which effectively improves my damage with BiP (being able to use it more often means more damage) and to a lesser extent allowing the use of Epidemic more often (although at 15 seconds CD even untraited, it's no big deal).

On the topic of synergy, this simultaneously improves the effectiveness of Well of Suffering (and many other weapon skills that do vanilla damage), increasing the critical chance by just shy of 10% at level 80. It also automatically grants us the minor trait of Furious Demise for an even greater critical chance of Life Transfer during those key seconds when first getting into Death Shroud. Critical hits are a fantastic thing...50% more damage than a standard hit (assuming not traiting into a boost to critical damage). Also, consider that if you are weakned by a foe, the weakness affects the damage of a non critical hit only, so your critical hits are still just as effective even if you are weakened.

Since we were talking about having a high health pool to outlive and outlast, let's look at Blood Magic next. Again, 20 points necessary to gain access to Ritual Mastery for the 20% reduced CD on wells to improve effectiveness and overall damage. Being able to use WoD more frequently means blinding and chilling more often, WoS means more damage to foes and being able to stack vulnerability more often. Any points put into Blood Magic creates a little synergy of its own: each point adds to vitality AND healing power.

There is occasionally a debate about when a player should consider more toughness instead of vitality. There are complex calculations to this. But the bottomline is that it can be detrimental to spec a lot into vitality at the expense of toughness especially if your healing power is not up to snuff. This is because eventually, you'll have a massive health pool that is easily depleted and very difficult to refill with a heal skill or even regeneration because of poor healing power. On the topic of healing, any conditions you receive from Plague Signet or even self inflicted conditions from Corruption skills synergize well with Consume Conditions. More conditions = more heal. Alternatively, put them straight back on a foe with the Signet, Putrid Mark or Deathly Swarm. By themselves, both Putrid Mark and Deathly Swarm already have specific and useful effects, but the synergy with conditions inflicted from any source just makes them much better.

We have 30 points left over. Where shall we put these? To recap: we want a large health pool to aid survivability, and we also want the ability to put out a painful sting on our foes.

That brings us to Soul Reaping. The size of the Life Force pool has synergy with points into Blood Magic: it is related to our max health. Putting points into Soul Reaping further increases the Life Force pool to add to survivability. The minor adept trait, Gluttony, builds your Life Force quicker with any skill that normally adds Life Force on its own (yes, I know the Wiki says its bugged and currently doesn't work at all, but consider what it'd do when it works).

Simultaneously, points into this traitline also boost our critical damage. There are quite a few good major adept traits in this line, Path of Midnight (15% faster recharge on DS skills) being one of my favorites. Going into DS to absorb damage is one thing, but I want to dish out damage as often as I can while in DS, not just through the autoattack, but through the use of Life Transfer. Of course, Doom is great as well, always useful to have it off CD and available for the right time. I choose to put 20 points into Soul Reaping to gain access to Last Gasp, another for survivability, while adding even more critical damage and increasing the Life Force pool in this build. Soul Marks has obvious synergy here. A staff user will place a lot of marks, which will now build Life Force for free. Alternatively, use that trait slot for any other major adept trait you prefer. Consider critical damage also in the light of the use of Lich form which dramatically increases your critical chance and hence gains you a critical hit very often on autoattack (deadly because it also pierces).

Now we have 10 points leftover. We can put that into Death Magic for improved toughness (a good thing), but the boost to boon duration is not entirely attractive with a build that otherwise has little to no boons under many circumstances. Staff Mastery and Greater Marks are both attractive traits, but I've found it easy to mitigate the rather long CDs of most staff skills by active rotation between a weapon swap and DS skills. The normal size of a mark may seem underwhelming at first glance but use the edge of the mark as a guide and it will hit a surprising amount of foes. If we put 10 points in Death Magic, it would also give us the substandard minor trait of Reanimator. Our points are better off elsewhere.

There are some good minor traits that can be had with 10 points in Spite...for example, Signet Mastery and Reaper's Might being especially good. But IMO, we'll have better gains if we could actually afford to spec 30 points in this line to get Close to Death. Unfortunately we don't. So we need to compare the utility of the minor traits in Spite with the grandmaster traits in Curses. Going back to the philosophy of this build again, we want to put on weakness as often as we can to support our team.

Putting an additional 10 points in Curses helps to get you there by giving access to Withering Precision and further increasing your critical chance. The bonus is the Target the Weak minor trait which increases damage further based on the number of conditions on a foe. This build should have no problems putting on a variety of conditions in a short time. In essence its another bit of synergy. Free damage. Alternatively, Lingering Scepter keeps scepter conditions active for longer, synergy with the 30 points in Curses for a total of a 300 point boost to condition damage.

The choice of runes and attributes for gear was also suggested with the rest of the build in mind, those being fairly self explanatory. In essence, we are gearing for precision to further improve our chance of getting a critical hit and the chance of causing weakness. Toughness augments a high health and Life Force pool and condition damage helps with our staff, scepter and dagger as well as Corruption skills. There's also a +10% condition duration bonus on our set of Superior Rune of Lyssa.

Hope this helps. :D Let me know if there's anything more I should clarify.

#4 nzac


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Posted 25 October 2012 - 07:46 AM

First, wheres the support? There the opening face-roll disable blowing Putrid (a very good group condition removal) early and some minor buffs. Just as an aside necro are one of 3 main classes for taking some mele damage and like rifle warriors should not plan to be at range, you are relying on someone else to be the mele to hold them in wells.
For the well build wheres the well of blood and protection stacking, you have two condition removers on your weapons. The necro has some decent support traits and utilities that you aren't using.

There are a lot of  sub optimal choices here and some definitely underpowered traits. Unless you are running the scepter as a main weapon its really hard to justify curses over spite. Condition duration is better than CD in a non committed build, you are using a lot of non damaging conditions and BiP gets you 6 extra bleed ticks if you transfer it. The whole curses line does not seem to justify its self in the build, those traits are weak. You seem are over doing the damage mitigation you have almost continuous weakness and you are blinding as well. As Donk says you are all over the place, i don't think finishing you build and then picking the rest for different reasons is a good idea.

Sorry to be negative but it just don't get the build.

#5 Bloggi



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Posted 26 October 2012 - 01:16 AM

Nzac, thanks for the honest opinion. Critical evaluation is great, it allows me to study the build further and determine what improvements should be made. When you state "the necro has some decent support traits and utilities that you aren't using", would you be able to note these down for the benefit of readers? They would definitely be reading all the comments on this thread as well.

Just to discuss a few things and hopefully explain some of the suggestions made in this guide and the reasons behind those choices:

By 'support' in the context of this guide, I'm referring to the frequent application of weakness, blind, chill, cripple, vulnerability, survivability to take damage for the team, being a capable reviver, controlling conditions on allies with Putrid Mark and Plague Signet, and if using Spectral Wall as a spectral skill in place of Plague Signet, offering protection. Damage is definitely not the key priority, and neither should it be with this build, but the build still squeezes out condition and vanilla damage with its degree of precision and boosts to critical damage.

On the topic of absorbing damage for the team, I definitely see that the necro has a role in drawing aggro from time to time, as necessary. And this is where I found the combination of of weakness and blind, along with chill, cripple etc to be very helpful, plus the 20 points in Blood Magic and in Soul Reaping and gearing for toughness (at least as a minor attribute on a few pieces of armor) for added survivability. It allows this build to be the focus of aggro for a longer period of time and yet not go down. Going into Plague form also adds to this because Plague grants a massive bonus to max HP and also to toughness. The use of a full set of Superior Runes of Lyssa also means that I lose ALL conditions and gain ALL boons for 5 seconds when going into either one of our two elite forms. With Lich form, the 6th bonus from this set still seems to be bugged so I've dropped that report into Support to see if they'll have a response on that.

I would frequently take this build into mid/ frontline in open-world PvE, but for the higher end content like a dungeon, we see situations where even plate classes would go ranged (safety + sustained damage over time >> risk + high melee damage), so I'm not sure about going melee range at these times, especially with a cloth class, even with all the tricks up our sleeve. At these times wells are less effective because there's nothing to hold monsters in a well. So we use things like BiP instead.

Bottom line is, I can see getting into a mid/ frontline position on the odd occasion out of necessity to protect a group in a situation gone bad, but otherwise I see very little reason why a necro should go into melee, out of other more capable DPS or heavily armored classes in a game. Getting into melee just doesn't improve the effectiveness of a necro for me. Of course, I can recall at least one boss with the ability to put up a shield that reflects projectiles, so for that one I switched to dagger/ dagger and went melee...that's one odd occasion.

On the topic of protection stacking from wells, I see what you're getting at in terms of the use of wells with Ritual of Protection. I did look at that trait as well, but I just didn't want to buy it for 10 trait points (I also needed to consider that the accompanying minor trait is plainly near useless), considering it offers just 3.3 seconds of protection from one well, or a combined of near 10 seconds *if* we placed all three wells, which pretty much puts our heal skill on cooldown as well. This trait has good synergy with Ritual of Life, so we get 3.3 seconds of protection on our self plus our revived ally. But some things to consider on the usefulness of this: in open world PvE, especially in zerg fights, we can revive whenever we want, even in the thick of battle. People go down pretty much only during an accident. Once revived, both the ally and I usually dodge straight out. Ally may then heal up. In higher end content, the philosophy is different...revive *only* if safe to do so. I've noticed this even when playing with a group that was very well coordinated and successful, having run a dungeon multiple times. So that 3.3 seconds of protection with this trait, although very good synergy, is of debatable use when we are already safe.

For stacking protection, we can use of Spectral Wall which was mentioned in this guide. It lasts for 9 seconds, untraited. It offers 5 seconds of protection which can be refreshed at least once during the duration of of that skill, which then grants up to 10 seconds of protection on a single skill that has a 40 second cooldown (which we can reduce to 32 seconds if traiting for Spectral Mastery, also discussed, and I generally have this trait active when using Spectral Walk instead of Plague Signet). Spectral Wall also puts 10 stacks of vulnerability on foes in the area, plus ethereal combo field with the potential for chaos armor, but that's just minor icing on the cake.

The choice between Well of Blood and Consume Conditions as a heal is more difficult. With the Wells variant we can get the WoB cooldown to 32 seconds, which is still a precious 7 seconds longer than Consume Conditions. I think there will be a lot of debate about this, but I believe that purely from a defensive point of view, Consume Conditions is perhaps a necro's best slot 6 heal skill in this game. IMHO, a heal skill could never come off cooldown quick enough (especially with a necro that is expected to take some damage for the team), and in late game, condition removal is crucial in any form, and I'd debate if there's such a thing as 'too much condition removal'. For example, if I'm caught out with all condition transfer and removal skills on cooldown and not enough Life Force to go into DS, I'm immobilized, at low health and about to take a killing blow from a mob, Consume Conditions allows me to heal straight up, remove the immobilize at the same time and then dodge to safety. Obviously that's a bad situation and an example of living dangerously, but it does happen from time to time.

To consider the relative benefits of condition duration versus condition damage in this build, I did a very simplistic thing of removing all gear bonuses, choosing to put 30 points in Spite or 30 points in Curses, then comparing the damage I get from my bleed and poison conditions in the two cases. Again this might be overly simplistic, but at least from the tool tip it appears that despite the increased condition duration from 30 points in Spite, we get more overall damage from poison and bleeds through 30 points into Curses for increased condition damage. Even if the overall damage were the same in both cases, I would rather deal more damage over a shorter period of time. The points in Curses to increase precision also work better with the increase in critical damage through points in Soul Reaping.

In this guide I was discussing the choice of scepter, axe and dagger as a choice for a MH weapon and found the scepter appeared to do more damage in this build, yet the axe appears to give a greater chance to proc weakness which is one of the key defensive philosophies with this build. But ultimately we would benefit by having at least a scepter OR axe, plus a MH dagger available to us at all times. The same would apply for the warhorn if we want to get swiftness as often as possible but I did fail to mention that in the build.

Once again I thank you for the criticism. Very constructive and the forum could use more opinions like that which both yourself and Donkulous have provided.

#6 nzac


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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:54 AM

First you might want to update your Blood Magic image to use Ritual of Life (IV) and I don't think many people know the traits by their numbers so could you list your chosen traits below the image.

Some skills that have a supportive roll that you missed:
Well of Power -  Apart from that it does no damage its far better support than corruption and provides a dark field which plague does not.
Well of Blood - I guess without any healing power WoB is pretty average (with enough stacked it provides a base for some of the best non-guardian healing support in the game) but it does provide condition removal and a small heal to those in it.
Theres not much you can do with conditions but a commited wells provide far greater support when commited to.
I think you have added the reviving traits, i may have miss read your build.

You are making a compromise between a condition build and wells, it really just looks like a condition build with respec options. You appear to have most of a condition build but the stats for a well build are completely different. Compared to the D/D Staff well build i like to use it just looks weak.

The main thing the necro gains at mele range is mele DPS (dagger not axe), but you are a support build so it what you provide for the team. Yes the necro has poor amour but it shares the highest base heath and has DS which makes it able to soak damage like the Warrior or Guardian, yes you can double up on these classes but that’s boring and can make things redundant. If the whole group is able to kite in a given situation then ok but your group still looses effectiveness.

Condition duration of Damage is not about the damage its about the other effects of conditions that are supporting. Your chills weakness and cripples(well your cripple get the scepter trait) are longer and your overall dps is not really effected. I am fairly sure that until you have a lot of it Power is better for increasing damage than precision. Your crit procs do not provide support.

Death Magic is a strong line for support Protection from wells, toughness for resing, greater marks to chill,poison the entire group staff cool-down.

I might post my build eventually but it i consider it to have way stronger support than your small changes from a condition build. Using (Cleric stats with high healing power makes Well of Blood an extremely strong heal, each tick heals for base(pretty small) plus 40 percent of healing power to everyone inside.) Provided no ones knocking you down you can walk into the middle of the mob or DPath in if you remember lay down some wells and aoe debufs while the rest get in there, if you muck it up your DS generally last until the knockdowns wear off. I don't think my too different to your build until you consider the stats and traits.

#7 razor39999


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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:57 PM

If you want a really supportive necro for PvE, there's hardly anything better than 2 monk, 2 water, 2 earth runes, combined with 30 in death magic and the "wells apply protection" trait. You need all utilities to be wells in that case, ofc. If you're going for support go for it all the way, GW2 has the tools for a highly specialized build, there's no reason to shy away from it, which is the feeling I'm getting from this build. Granted, many necro traits are bugged, but as long as you avoid the major bugs (having points in curses makes the 15 minor trait in blood heal enemies would be the main bug plaguing a well build), there's some good options out there.

#8 Bloggi



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Posted 27 October 2012 - 11:27 AM

Nzac, I'm sorry that the picture for the Blood Magic traitline was misleading. Indeed I don't remember the numbers of the traits either! :D In this case I must have done a screenshot while using the Mark of Evasion trait while going solo or 'farming'. Originally I intended those pictures to be illustrative of the trait point allocation only (rather than providing more pictures to reflect the multiple variants available within this trait line setup), but nevertheless I've redone it as you've recommended to more accurately reflect the setup in the Wells variant. I have also put in a note in the introduction that readers are recommended to pull up the links to both build suggestions and read them alongside the rest of the guide, because the build suggestions hold the key traits of choice while the rest of the guide covers alternative choices within those trait lines.

Well of Power is a good utility that I did consider, but I took Plague Signet as a conscious decision. They actually each have their uses so it may be a matter of personal choice as to which to use. I'm guessing that your build would spec heavily into toughness which would make the boon duration work very well with the effect of WoP. My understanding of Well of Power is that with each pulse, it converts one condition to a boon. So with three pulses it clears up to three types of conditions and we gain three boons depending on what conditions they were. By any chance, have you had the chance to determine if the resulting boons are just a single stack, regardless of the number of stacks of the original condition? The effect of WoP is naturally very attractive, albeit within a 240 unit radius. Plague Signet is buggy at the moment (as mentioned in the guide) so a player can choose to avoid it until its actually fixed.

Once working as intended however, it removes all conditions from allies within a massive 1200 unit radius as its passive effect. What we then choose to do with the conditions is up to us. We can choose to transfer the lot straight to a foe and instantly lose all conditions, or otherwise Consume Conditions to gain more benefit from the conditions, plus remove all of them from ourself at the same time. The ability of Plague Signet as a stun breaker is also what makes it useful. Perhaps I am overly cautious in this build, but I believe that all builds should run with at least one stun breaker. Having a stun break along with the fear skill in DS makes very good defense when CC'ed (particularly knockdown).

As you say, this build is definitely a compromise between conditions and wells, hence the idea of 'balanced/ support' which I tried to suggest in the guide. Personally I don't think this build resembles anything like a condition build with respec options. It is vastly different to just about every condition build I've seen. Condition builds are not likely to be putting any points into Soul Reaping, which I did as a form of defense and survivability plus add more omph to critical hits.

I suggested this build as a balance between the two plus the perks of DS, with a focus on defense. Based on the responses so far I can see that the reception has been poor, but I'm really, really hoping that we could promote some thinking 'outside the box'. Thinking about different forms of support, thinking about hybrids and not just about Power OR Condition builds. The might stacks from BiP in its most recent iteration seems to suggest we can build to accommodate the two. There have been one or two unusual DS builds proposed as well by others, and the feedback has been lukewarm. As DS is a main profession mechanic, I would have expected (or hoped) that the SR traitline would see more use. But until refined or balanced, I can see why it is a traitline that tends to be ignored a lot. There are multiple DS related traits in other lines as well, but many are of debatable usefulness.

Regarding condition duration for non-damaging conditions, you definitely have a point there. That in part explains the choice of a set of Runes of Lyssa which has a bonus 10% to condition duration, and in a separate section covering the use of sigils such as Sigil of Debility. One of the key focuses of the build is actually to put out weakness as often as possible. Critical hits have a chance to proc weakness, which are a means of support. Healing is of course the most obvious forms of support. This build attempts to support through means of 'active defense' which is a concept discussed in the Wiki.

When you get around to posting your build I would definitely like to see it. I always watch the necro forum for new threads and read anything with great interest. In that sense my curiosity is insatiable. Again I think the necro PvE forums are quiet compared to those of the other professions and could really benefit from useful threads and posts.

Edited by Xekk, 27 October 2012 - 11:28 AM.

#9 Bloggi



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Posted 27 October 2012 - 11:43 AM

Razor, spot-on assessment. I didn't go the full hog into a support build but was proposing a 'balanced' build that is adept with support (not support in the sense of outright healing but through weakness, blind etc) but capable of standing on its own two feet with little wasted when going solo for example. WvW is another thing I'm looking into and here the playstyle seems to differ again.

I never considered those runes you suggested and they are brilliant actually, for a build that is geared towards healing, that plus the 30% boon duration from 30 points in Death Magic. Also I wasn't aware of such a serious bug with the necro. There are numerous bugs with this profession for sure, but something like the one you mentioned is just downright ridiculous for us.

It would be purely speculative at this point to believe the necro will see future refinements in its skills and perhaps even with its traits, but I'm definitely keen to see what's in store for us in the future. Thanks for your feedback.

#10 Jayvenpup


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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:48 AM

Just throwing a very quick reply to say thank you for the nicely detailed and worded guide (and the replies too!). It is good to see someone who puts effort into their guides as well as the patience. Recently I remade my Necromancer and going to be going the way of this build since it is the playstyle I lean towards with most games (Support > DPS).

Keep it up! If I have any questions, I'll make sure I fire em here :D

#11 Bloggi



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Posted 22 November 2012 - 10:28 AM

Jayvenpup, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Glad it was useful to you. I'd almost stopped checking back here since putting a lot more time into building an elementalist (which is quite literally overtaking the necro as my main). I think a lot of us will be keeping our eyes peeled for more developments with the necro as a class. In recent times there have been more tooltip and bug fixes than true adjustments, but some of the latter in the future will definitely keep things very interesting for us.

#12 LightFighter29


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Posted 13 February 2013 - 04:55 AM

Great guide, I am looking to be a healer/support build for my Necro for dunegon runs and possible wvw, is it a viable build still?

#13 Bloggi



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Posted 13 February 2013 - 10:36 AM

View PostLightFighter29, on 13 February 2013 - 04:55 AM, said:

Great guide, I am looking to be a healer/support build for my Necro for dunegon runs and possible wvw, is it a viable build still?

Thanks for writing and for taking the time to read the guide. I haven't updated this guide in ages and have actually neglected my necro a lot. These days I've been putting a lot more time into alts in other professions. I'm always looking back to see how I can further refine things, but have refrained from making any further build guides or posts to that effect until I can come up with something solid.

This build is viable, as are many other builds in general PvE and some dungeons. However since you asked about being a healer, I would consider that this build is not suited for that purpose. However I can suggest two very rough builds that may be useful to you, but I just haven't refined them completely yet:

For general PvE and support in dungeons:


For WvW:


I currently use armor with Soldier's stats (power/toughness/vitality) which is most easily available from exchanging tokens obtained from the Ascalonian Catacombs explorable dungeon. Each exotic piece comes with a Superior Rune of the Monk. I don't believe this is necessarily the best set of runes for this build (although the bonuses to healing power helps for Well of Blood, boon duration increases protection from wells when traited, and you gain aegis everytime you use the Flesh Golem's charge skill), but will need to research further before changing them out, and I'll need to find some time away from my alts to make that happen! ;)

Once again, take all the above info with a pinch of salt, try it out and find the best build that works for you.

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