Hello, my name is Neko, and I wrote this guide. It is my attempt to take both my personal experience as well as the research done by others in the GW2 community, and combine them all together in one Comprehensive Guide to the Dungeon Elementalist.
My username in game is: Neko.9021
Guild Wars 2 Forum Thread: http://tinyurl.com/neko-gw2-ele-guide
Guild Wars 2 Guru Thread: http://tinyurl.com/neko-guru-ele-guide
Google Doc: http://tinyurl.com/n...oogle-ele-guide
Here is my guide to the Elementalist in Dungeons and Fractals. I hope you enjoy!
For those who don't want to read ALL of this, this is what I run (Arcane Shield can be Arcane Wave as well). I usually PUG.
So you want to take your Elementalist into dungeons, huh?
The Elementalist is an interesting class. They are one of the most versatile professions in the game, with access to 20 weapon skills at any given time. As a balancing mechanic against this versatility, however, the Elementalist has some of the lowest DPS in the game. Additionally, the Elementalist has a low HP pool along with light armor, making it one of the “squishiest” classes in the game, by default, anyway.
However, if I could make one case for the Elementalist, it would be this: potential. The Elementalist has some of the greatest potential in this game. This can be seen in the PvP side of things, where the Elementalist plays a key role in all formats of the game. The Elementalist has miserly stats and low power ratios... by default. But if the Elementalist wants to become a great bunker, they can be one of the best bunkers out there in PvP. Similarly, if an Ele wants to go full glass cannon DPS in PvE, Lightning Hammer provides incredible amounts of damage. If someone wants a class that coordinates well in an organized group, then Elementalists are the best class at providing tons of Might and Fury, all on their own. If someone wants a class that coordinates well in a PUG, then the classic Water Arcanist Elementalist has insane survivability while providing a whole host of boons.
When one looks at the Elementalist and sees their low base stats and base damage, they may be tempted to judge it as a terrible class. Yet one must think of why Elementalists were cursed with such handicaps. Arenanet gave the Elementalist the lowest possible stats in all areas because they knew that the potential and power of the Elementalist was insanely high. Access to so many skills and the best traits in the game opens doors that other classes only wish they had.
So here is my guide to the Dungeon Elementalist. Please note that I will first go through general strategy, gearing, utilities, and weapons before I finally get to the builds. So if you want to just get to the builds, skip to the bottom.
An Elementalist Mindset - Combos, Rotations, Attunement Swapping
The Elementalist gains its power via the use of combo fields. Combos are often treated as gimmicky and ineffectual... for good reason. Most combo fields and combos are pretty tame or weak. In fact, the best combo fields are probably simple ones like Fire and Water because their effects provide direct damage and direct healing.
And how lucky for you that you have access to both! Now no, this guide will not really touch on Water fields, because their main power comes in PvP formats (mainly in WvW, more than sPvP), and only the Staff gets them (a weapon we won’t really use). But Fire Fields combined with Blast Finishers provide 3 stacks of might for 20 seconds (!), and when traited, also give fury for 10 seconds (!!!).
The main trick to the Dungeon Elementalist is laying down Fire Fields and comboing in them to maintain might for your party. In this section, I will go over several ways to stack might on the various weapon sets:
Double Dagger: Burning Speed (Fire 3) -> Ring of Fire (Fire 4) -> Dodge Roll and swap to Earth Attunement as you do so do perform a blast finisher in your Fire Field -> Arcane Wave to perform a blast finisher in your Fire Field -> Earthquake (Earth 4) to do a blast finisher in your Fire Field -> Churning Earth (Earth 5) to do a blast finisher in your Fire Field.
That’s 12 stacks of Might right there. For 20 seconds. This is the bread and butter combination for stacking theoretical maximum might, and I definitely feel that you should practice this combo to really understand the sort of dynamic flow that the Elementalist can have.
Scepter/Dagger: Dragon’s Tooth (Fire 2) -> Ring of Fire (Fire 4) under your Dragon’s Tooth -> Phoenix (Fire 3) -> Dodge Roll and swap to Earth Attunement as you do so to perform a blast finisher in your Fire Field -> Arcane Wave to perform a blast finisher in your Fire Field -> Earthquake (Earth 4) to do a blast finisher in your Fire Field -> Churning Earth (Earth 5) to do a blast finisher in your Fire Field.
That’s 18 stacks of Might! Combine with Fire XI (Persisting Flames) and that’s also 1 minute of Fury!
Dagger/Focus: Burning Speed (Fire 3) -> Dodge Roll and swap to Earth Attunement as you do - so do perform a blast finisher in your Fire Field -> Arcane Wave to perform a blast finisher in your Fire Field -> Magnetic Wave (Earth 4) to do a blast finisher in your Fire Field
That’s 9 stacks of Might for 20 seconds. Still very solid.
So now we get to rotations and swapping.
The first thing I can say is, look at Zoose’s guides to the Elementalist:
Scepter/Dagger (Pre June 2013 Patch)
Scepter/Dagger (Post June 2013 Patch)
The Elementalist’s greatest asset is his power to set his own rotations on the fly, and decide for himself what to do as the situation calls for it.
Our greatest flaw, however, is that our autoattacks do absolutely miserable damage, on basically all our weapon sets (Lightning Whip on mainhand Dagger is our strongest one).
Thus, the trick to an Elementalist is to “press all the buttons so you can press more buttons”. Zoose talks about this in his Dagger/Dagger guide, and the key thing to remember about an Elementalist is that while other professions cannot swap weapons while channeling a skill, Elementalists can swap attunements while channeling a spell.
When one traits 15 points into Water, the Elementalist’s attunement swap to Water heals for a massive 1600 health. The various skills in Water also heal for a ton (Scepter Water 3, Dagger Water 2, Dagger Water 5). Evasive Arcana gives the Elementalist a massive 1600 HP AoE heal and cleanse when they dodge in Water (among other things).
Thus, the trick to an Elementalist is playing the entire class for its abilities. The very act of swapping, thanks to Elemental Attunement, provides incredible bonuses (Protection in Earth, Swiftness in Air, Regeneration in Water) and Eles with at least 5 in Arcana gain Fury for 2 seconds. Dodging with Evasive Arcana casts powerful spells as well (Blast Finishers in Earth and Heals in Water). In the end, the Elementalist is about utilizing everything in combat to its fullest potential, not just a few small set of skills, like many other classes.
Of course, sometimes you need to autoattack after all your cooldowns are wasted. If you are a Dagger Elementalist, Lightning Whip is your highest autoattack damage. If you are a Scepter Elementalist, depending on your traits, you will usually either spam the Air 1 2 and 3 skills (if you have Fresh Air [XII] or 20+ in Arcana) or Fire 1 until Fire 2 is back up.
Now let’s talk about a certain Utility Skill known as Conjure Lightning Hammer. This skill creates a Lightning Hammer on the field that anyone can pick up, as well as a Lightning Hammer in your hands for your own use. It will have 15 charges (or 25 if you have Conjurer, Fire VIII), and when you use its autoattack, you will do an insane amount of damage compared to your actual weapon sets. The downsides to Lightning Hammer, however, are that it’s clunky to cast and set up in the middle of battle, the extra hammer can be picked up by other party members, and that it overall can sometimes feel like it takes away from the ‘spirit’ of what it means to play an Elementalist by limiting your weapon skills to five.
However, it does an insane amount of damage nonetheless.
An Elementalist, if he so chooses, can always use Conjure Lightning Hammer and its trait Conjurer to do lots of damage, if they so choose. You can even use Conjure Lightning Hammer without the trait, and it works decently well. However, Elementalists should always take note of it and keep it in mind when deciding what traits and utilities to pick.
So here’s something I think that gets a lot of newer players when they try and pick up the Elementalist. It’s a class which simply demands greater use of its Class Abilities (the F1, F2, F3, and F4 skills) than any other profession. Enough so that if you actually leave your default bindings to F1-F4, you’ll find the class clunky and difficult to play unless you’re either very agile or have large hands.
For this reason, while I won’t demand that you totally rearrange your keybindings just to play an Elementalist, I do think that you should try to find a better place to put your profession skills. One that I personally use is Ctrl-A for F1, Ctrl-E for F2, Ctrl-D for F3, and Ctrl-F for F4. This doesn’t have to be the way you bind your keys, but leaving them at default at F1-F4 can often be one of the greatest physical barriers to using the Elementalist to its fullest potential, in general.
Also, turn off auto-targeting when using Dagger Elementalist, because you want great control over the direction of your PBAoE attacks. In fact I suggest turning it off altogether at all times since it will help you retain better control over your character’s attacks on all weapon sets.
Also, I’d be surprised if you didn’t already have this, but make sure to Show Skill Recharge for all of your skills.
Turn off Melee Attack Assist. It’s a terrible setting.
You should carry all of the Elementalist’s weapons. Switch as needed.
This is your only melee mainhand weapon, and it’s a pretty darn good one at that. The dagger’s auto attacks are pretty sub par compared to other classes, but the #2 and #3 abilities have a ton of utility.
- Your strongest auto attack is Lightning Whip, your Air Auto. Your Earth Auto stacks bleeds (meh), your Water Auto has 600 range (though sitting in Water is a bad idea as an Elementalist so avoid using it unless you need to) and your Fire Auto is mainly single target.
- Drake’s Breath (Fire 2) does decent damage and you should use it when you can.
- Cone of Cold (Water 2) does amazing damage and heals yourself and allies for a substantial amount.
- Ring of Earth (Earth 2) is insanely strong and you should remember to spam this whenever it’s off cooldown, and you’re done with your other Earth rotations.
- Lightning Touch (Air 2) actually has more utility now that Weakness was buffed.
- Burning Speed (Fire 3) is a high damage skill-shot attack that you will also probably miss a lot when you first use it. However, once you learn to land it, you’ll find your personal DPS goes up substantially. Burning Speed is probably the most important source of your burst and engagement damage as a Dagger Elementalist.
- Frozen Burst (Water 3) is a great spell, chilling in an AoE, and you should spam it when it’s off cooldown.
- Shocking Aura (Air 3) is borderline broken in PvP and it’s pretty darn good in PvE, so use it when you need to do more damage, since thanks to Zephyr’s Boon, it also grants you fury.
- Magnetic Grasp (Earth 3) is a 900 range immobilize and pretty good, and its chain attack, Magnetic Leap, is a Leap Finisher. If you have a Fire Field down, leap through your own fire field to gain a Fire Aura, giving yourself fury once more.
Dagger Offhand has some great immediate burst damage good for killing trash.
- Ring of Fire (Fire 4) does a significant amount of damage, inflicts burning, and lays down a 6-second fire field.
- Fire Grab (Fire 5) does a lot of damage to burning foes but, like a lot of Elementalist abilities, you’ll miss it a lot due to the odd hit detection. Once you learn to hit with it, you’ll do a great deal of damage.
- Frost Aura (Water 4) is great and you should use it when you need fury (assuming you’ve traited for for it with Zephyr’s Boon), probably spamming it off cooldown like most Ele abilities.
- Cleansing Wave (Water 5) does a great deal of healing (1302 + Healing Power), and you should use it when you need a quick burst heal.
- Ride the Lightning (Air 4) is the reason Elementalists are such a pain in WvW and PvP, giving an amazing amount of distance. It’s a great way to get back to a foe, and does a good deal of damage. It’s not something you should spam off cooldown, however, but you should use it as needed, or when you need to run through trash. Make sure to turn off auto-targeting when running off-hand Dagger elementalist so that you can use this ability to run past enemies without targeting them automatically.
- Updraft (Air 5) is basically another dodge, as well as an AoE knockdown, as well as gives you a great deal of Swiftness. Use as needed.
- Earthquake (Earth 4) does a great deal of damage, knocks down in an AoE, and more importantly, is a Blast Finisher.
- Churning Earth (Earth 5) is your strongest damaging spell, inflicting 8 stacks of bleed, 4 stacks of cripple, a gigantic amount of damage, and is also a Blast Finisher.
This is the first weapon Elementalists start out with, and strangely, almost all Elementalists I meet quickly abandon it as soon as they can. I never understood why, since it’s a very strong ranged damage weapon if you need one.
- Dragon’s Tooth (Fire 2) is actually pretty easy to land on most mobs since they often just stand around. It is also a blast finisher.
- Phoenix (Fire 3) can be awkward to land, but has some great abilities (removes all conditions and grants vigor when it returns). It is also a blast finisher.
- Shatterstone (Water 2) is really bad and you're better off just using Water autoattack.
- Water Trident (Water 3) heals for a ton, and you should use it if you or an ally needs a burst heal.
- Lightning Strike (Air 2) and Blinding Flash (Air 3) are low-cooldown high damage and high utility abilities respectively and should spam them off cooldown whenever you get the chance.
- Rock Barrier (Earth 2) is a good spell to start combat with, granting you a good bit deal of toughness.
- Dust Devil (Earth 3) does a good bit of damage and blinds in an AoE. Solid and spammable off cooldown.
Highly underrated but very powerful in the right situations. I prefer Focus over Offhand Dagger in Dungeons. Focus has a defensive skillset that you’ll use when the team needs protection from bad guys that sit back and shoot dangerous projectiles at you (read: quite often).
- Flamewall (Fire 4) is pretty bad, and now it’s also bugged thanks to the patch (you can cancel it if you attack while it’s still casting) but it at least provides a Fire field.
- Fire Shield (Fire 5) is pretty weak as well and more or less only there to proc with Zephyr’s Boon for more fury.
- Freezing Gust (Water 4) is a ranged Chill and is thus quite powerful in certain situations.
- Comet (Water 5) is a ranged daze and actually dazes opponents for quite a bit. It's also a Blast Finisher.
- Gale (Air 5) is a ranged knockdown.
- Magnetic Wave (Earth 4) is a Blast Finisher, Cripples opponents around you and does damage, cures 3 conditions, and reflects projectiles shot at you for 3 seconds. (It does everything on a 25s cooldown)
- Obsidian Flesh (Earth 5) grants invulnerability for 4 seconds. While allowing you to do other things still.
- Swirling Winds (Air 4) offers 6 seconds of projectile destruction. It’s very strong, especially in cases where you need projectile deflection, such as the Harpy Fractal, the Shaman Fractal final boss, and Mossman in the Swamp Fractal. Basically, you should use this ability as much as you can, and you’ll find that once you start using it in battles, it definitely helps mitigate damage for your whole team. This is the main reason to take Focus over Offhand Dagger when paired with Mainhand Dagger.
High skill cap to use, and pretty awkward at that. The main thing is that it can be really hard to land most of this weapon’s attacks, and the auto-attacks themselves do incredibly low damage. In most dungeons, you’re probably better off using Daggers or Scepter. There are some cases where the Staff is really nice to have (such as clearing lots of trash or lots of enemies, such as the Ascalon Fractal), but overall, especially for newer players, I’d point you in the direction of the other weapon sets first.
So which weapon set should you use? It depends on the build.
- Mainhand Dagger provides your most consistent DPS and is thus my goto weapon for most situations. While it lacks Scepter's burst, it can still use Lightning Whip (your Air Autoattack) when the fight gets a little long, and you need to deal consistent damage.
- Scepter has really great burst damage and better might stacking abilities since with Offhand Dagger, it has 4 blast finishers (Fire 2 and 3 combined with Earth 4 and 5). Its main issue is it lacks good damage after exhausting its high CD abilities.
- Offhand Dagger provides good burst PBAoE damage on a fairly high CD like the Scepter. Your best attack on this thing is actually probably Ring of Fire due to its lower, 15-second CD. This is the usual goto for most Elementalist’s Offhand. I suggest always pairing Offhand Dagger with Scepter because Ring of Fire is a great Fire Combo field.
- Focus provides great utility abilities. Swirling Winds (Air 4) is just so strong and laying it down in a fight can really help protect your team. The Earth Abilities are as strong as other class’ Utility slot skills. I suggest pairing Focus with Mainhand Dagger because of its utility, even though the tradition in the Elementalist community has been to use Double Daggers. I do not suggest pairing Focus with Scepter if you plan to be a Might-and-Fury stacking Elementalist because Wall of Fire (Fire 4) has a horrid casting time, and is also bugged thanks to the latest patch.
Your utilities depend a bit on what you’re trying to do. You want a good stunbreak like Arcane Shield or Mist Form, and Arcane Wave is an incredible spell since it’s a blast finisher. Conjure Lightning Hammer is great, should you choose to use it (you really should).
For your Heal skill (#6), I would suggest Signet of Restoration or Ether Renewal. Try both and see which one you like more. I find Signet to be better with Dagger and Ether to be better with Scepter.
For your Elite, I like Conjure Fiery Greatsword. It’s a great “ranged” swap and does a great deal of damage just for pressing 1. The Whirl and Gap Closer also do an insane amount of damage when done against a wall (if you don’t target anything when using these abilities, then they do a lot of extra damage). Conjure Fiery Greatsword, if used against a wall, actually does more damage than Conjure Lightning Hammer, so I definitely suggest using it for that purpose when you can.
Now this is where things get interesting. You are almost definitely going to go into Melee somehow, and you have low HP and low armor. What should you equip for dungeons?
Probably full Berserker gear with Ruby Trinkets. For your runes in your armor, I’d suggest Ruby Orbs or Scholar Runes. The latter provides better DPS if you can stay above 90% health for 25% of the time, and are still very strong even when you’re not above 90% health.
Why full Berserker on trinkets and armor though, you might ask? Because in dungeons, the most important thing, generally, is dealing damage and killing enemies as quickly as possible.
The thing is, most dungeon mechanics are about one-shot mechanics that will down most characters in one hit or so anyway. Stacking survivability through stats is a waste, especially on a character like the Elementalist which has so little in the way of HP and Armor that you might as well not try to increase those in PvE, at all.
If you are somewhat paranoid about your own survivability, just note that unlike other classes, you have a surprising amount of self-sustain available to you if you spec for it. Your primary means of healing will be:
- Auto-attacking (which triggers Signet of Restoration)
- Attuning to Water attunement with Water 15 trait (which heals about 1600 HP for you)
- Dodge rolling in Water Attunement with Evasive Arcana (which heals another 1600 HP and cleanses)
- Using Cone of Cold (which heals about 800 for you) or Water Trident (which heals about 1600 HP)
- Using Cleansing Wave (which heals another 1600 HP and cleanses).
For your sigils, you should take Sigil of Battle in your offhand weapon, and Sigil of Bloodlust in your mainhand weapon (gain +10 to Power per kill). If you really want to minmax, swap out your mainhand weapon for a weapon of the same type with Sigil of Force (+5% damage) after you max out your Bloodlust stacks.
For consumables, Superior Sharpening Stones are great (or if you’re cheap, Hardened Sharpening Stones will do). Your food should be Omnomberry Pie (or Mixed Berry Pie if you’re cheap) for survivability with lifesteal on crit, as well as the extra damage from lifesteal. This part is really important. Dungeon Elementalists benefit hugely from Lifesteal food. Always eat some if you can afford to do so. It will make a significant difference in your survivability and DPS.
Well, that took a while, but here we finally are. I went through a lot of information before finally getting to the builds.
The reason I did this is because the Elementalist actually has quite a few variations, depending on what exactly it is you want to do.
In this section, I will introduce the build, link the build, rank it on several criteria (with “Low” “Moderate” “Good” and “Great” as the grades), and then give a short summary on how to play it.
The criteria I use to judge builds are as follows:
- Damage - How much personal DPS this build outputs
- Survivability - How easy it is to keep this build alive in a dungeon
- Support - How much it helps your team with boons, buffs, heals, and cleanses
- Swirling Winds Access - It’s that important. Being able to block projectiles is just so useful in dungeons.
- Arcana Build - To me, having lots of points in Arcana and swapping between attunements is what defines an Elementalist. Almost every build here will be an Arcana build. Eles that aren’t Arcana builds lose access to all the various benefits each of the attunements offer.
- Lightning Hammer Synergy - The sad truth is, Elementalists more or less need Lightning Hammer to do great damage. Some versions of the Elementalist work better with Lightning Hammer than others.
First, let’s go over the very classic 0/10/0/30/30 “bunker” spec that was popularized in WvW by Daphoenix and in PvP by Zoose.
Here is the build
- Damage: Low
- Survivability: Great
- Support: Great
- Swirling Winds Access: Yes
- Arcana Build: Yes
- Lightning Hammer Synergy: Low
I highly recommend this build for people who are new to the Elementalist. Using this build will teach you how to play the basics of an Elementalist. This build’s damage may be lacking, but its general versatility and survivability when played moderately well are what make it great for beginners.
General strategies include:
- Don’t sit in Water attunement or Earth attunement for too long, since switching to either provides a Heal and Protection respectively. Attune to Water for a massive Heal, and attune to Earth when spike damage is about to come.
- Learn how to stack Might with your two fire fields, Arcane Wave, Evasive Arcana dodge rolls in Earth Attunement, and the Blast Finisher in Earth 4.
- Learn how to “attunement dance”. Swap to Fire for burst damage, swap to Water for the heal skills and the general heal (as well as dodging in water for a heal), swap to Air when you need Fury and a good Autoattack, and Swap to Earth for the on-demand Protection, spike damage with Earth 2, the blast finisher in Earth 4, and the blast finisher in dodging in Earth (good for dodging in your own fire fields).
- Your auras provide Fury and Swiftness to the entire team. You’re a great team-support sort of character, so you pop your auras as needed to help boost up your team’s damage.
- Your best autoattack after exhausting all of your attunement’s high CD abilities is Lightning Whip (Air 1).
Finally, I find that Lightning Hammer unfortunately just doesn’t work as well with this build as it does with others. Still, I think that once you get used to this build, swapping either Arcane Wave or Arcane Shield for Lightning Hammer is a good choice.
Fresh Air DPS (0/30/0/20/20 or 0/30/0/10/30)
This is a new build which has become viable thanks to the addition of a new GM trait in the Air Tree called “Fresh Air”. The build revolves around attacking in air, and rotating between attunements for their utilities/heals/damage, and then getting back into air for more sustained damage. I find this build works best with Dagger mainhand in PvE because the sustained damage of Lightning Whip synergized better with the nature of prolonged PvE combat.
Here are the builds (please note that the “Grounded” trait should be “Fresh Air”, but buildcraft has not yet updated the trait list) :
- This version has Healing Ripple from attuning to Water (0/30/0/20/20)
- This version has 30 points in Arcana and Evasive Arcana (0/30/0/10/30) (Cleansing Wave [Water V] can be Vital Striking [Water VI] if you so choose)
- Damage: Good
- Survivability: Moderate
- Support: Moderate
- Swirling Winds Access: Yes
- Arcana Build: Yes
- Lightning Hammer Synergy: Low
This build’s main selling point is that it has a great deal of damage even without Lightning Hammer. Your Lightning Whips will hit quite hard, and swapping into Air Attunement from another Attunement will give a nice bit of burst damage. Air Attunement conveniently has Swirling Winds and Shocking Aura as well, so if you need to protect yourself from a Melee mob or your team from Ranged mobs, you’ve got both covered.
This build prioritizes Lightning Hammer far more over Arcane Wave, since this build is less about stacking Might and more about rapidly switching in and out of Air for various Elemental Attunement and Electric Discharge (Air 15) procs. This build is a great way to progress from the Auramancer build if you want to gain a bit more DPS without giving up rapid attunement swapping and the various advantages this gives.
I have included two builds - one with 30 in Arcana and 10 in Water, and one with 20 in Arcana and 20 in Water. The advantage of 30 in Arcana is that you have better access to your attunements, and to Evasive Arcana. The advantage with 20 in Arcana and 20 in Water is that you retain the benefits of Healing Ripple (Water 15) so you can heal on attuning to Water without having to waste a dodge. Overall, this is up to personal playstyle preference.
Scepter-Hammer Might Stacker (30/20/0/20/0)
There are actually quite a few people that I looked to when making this build.
First, Kitsune is generally regarded as the first person to try and go for a maximum DPS Lightning Hammer build. His build can be found here, and I suggest you give it a read. It’s a great example of coming up with something unexpected and different, and was the beginning of taking Lightning Hammer seriously for Elementalst builds.
Next, the Death and Taxes guild [DnT] has experimented with the Hammer, and I looked to their guide, and it does seem that it works quite well as a DPS character in an organized group. In particular, I suggest you watch Inev1tab1e’s guide.
Kitsune’s version used Staff because that seemed to be his preferred weapon set, and most players before the June patch used Daggers because that was regarded as the ‘normal’ dungeon weapon set for Eles.
I then came upon Hamartia’s Guide to the Scepter-Dagger Elementalist, which you should also give a read. When looking at his original builds, I found them to be lacking in sustained damage if the fight went on too long. I pointed out, however, that if you combine Lightning Hammer, its DPS easily skyrockets. Best of all, since the build naturally has a short burst time, it synergizes really well with Lightning Hammer. You can put down a bunch of Might with Scepter-Dagger Combos, and with Persisting Flames (Fire XI) you can easily stack about 1 minute of Fury for your team. Definitely read Hamartia’s guide on how to do this, since he talks about it rather extensively.
I spoke with him and we both found that the combo of using Scepter Dagger’s short burst and Might (and Fury, thanks to the June patch) worked well with Hammer. After you gave your team a good minute or so of Fury and about 18 stacks of Might, you could then use Lightning Hammer to put those stacks to good use, and start doing incredible amounts of DPS.
Here is the build
- Damage: Great
- Survivability: Low
- Support: Great
- Swirling Winds Access: No
- Arcana Build: No
- Lightning Hammer Synergy: Yes
This is the absolute glassiest version of the build, and will almost definitely lead to problems the first few times you try to use it. Even then, you probably want an organized group that sticks together if you want to try and take a build as glassy as this.
The general idea is to perform a bunch of Might stacking combos with Fire and Earth, then lay down the Hammer and smash things while sitting in Water attunement. Hopefully someone in your group apples Vulnerability (many classes do) so that you can gain an extra 20% damage from Piercing Shards (Water IV).
The nice thing about this build, however, is that it almost certainly does “enough” damage for any group composition out there. With the right circumstances, you can out-DPS Warriors and provide tons of Might and Fury as well. It’s a high-reward sort of build, pretty challenging, but excellent when executed correctly.
Please note that unlike every other build, since this one sits in Water for the most part, you’re better off with Sigil of Force over Sigil of Battle.
Also, note that if you have party members who like to spam other types of combo fields, they may end up getting in the way of your Fire fields and ruining your Might and Fury stacking, so take note of that when forming a group and a group strategy.
Hybrid Scepter-Hammer (30/0/0/20/20 or 30/0/0/10/30)
Trying to actually take the absolute glassiest version of the build can be a little daunting to some players, however, and so I want to make available a version I feel that is a little more “noob friendly.” I have thus taken a page from the Fresh Air DPS build and allocated points to Water and Arcana for our own safety.
Here are the builds:
- This version has Healing Ripple from attuning to Water (30/0/0/20/20)
- This version has 30 points in Arcana and Evasive Arcana (30/0/0/10/30) (Cleansing Wave [Water V] can be Vital Striking [Water VI] if you so choose)
- Damage: Good
- Survivability: Moderate
- Support: Great
- Swirling Winds Access: No
- Arcana Build: Yes
- Lightning Hammer Synergy: Yes
This is basically a “compromise” version of the Scepter-Hammer build above. It makes several DPS concessions in exchange for a bit more versatility and survivability.
The general idea is to take a bit from other Water Arcana builds and incorporate that into the strategy of Scepter Might and Fury Stacking. You can either take the Healing Ripple version for a heal on attuning to Water, or the Evasive Arcana version which gives you a heal on a dodge roll in Water. The Evasive Arcana one is nice because it also gives you a blast finish in Earth Attunement, allowing you to lay down a Ring of Fire and roll into it in Earth, stacking more Fury and Might.
The point of this build is more to show that it is indeed possible to play a Scepter-Hammer Elementalist and still be somewhat survivable. The Elementalist gains most of its survivability from traits and utilities, and so if that playstyle interests you but you find you go down a lot, consider taking this compromise Hybrid version instead.
See everything in the previous Scepter-Hammer build for more advice.
Hybrid Dagger-Hammer (20/0/0/20/30)
This is my personal favorite build. This is what I run, after playing around with other builds of the Elementalist.
Here is the build
- Damage: Good
- Survivability: Great
- Support: Good
- Swirling Winds Access: Yes
- Arcana Build: Yes
- Lightning Hammer Synergy: Yes
I prefer Focus offhand to Dagger for Swirling Winds (Air 4) and the two Earth skills.
The two utilities other than Lightning Hammer are up to you. I stuck Arcane Shield and Mist Form in there for pure survivability, but you're free to put Arcane Wave into one of those slots if that’s your thing.
The basic idea is this - play a Classic Elementalist (I consider the playstyle of the Auramancer to be a Classic Elementalist), dancing between attunements as needed, proccing Protection in Earth attunement when burst damage is about to come and heals from Water attunement when you need heals or cleanse.
Then, when you've exhausted your weapon's burst or feel safe to move away from your normal weapon set's abilities, feel free to drop down the Lightning Hammer and start smashing stuff.
That's really all there is to it. I think that when Hammer builds were first introduced to the meta, they were introduced in their absolute most optimal, organized-group (and somewhat gimmicky, honestly) form. A lot of Elementalists have "seen" the Lightning Hammer build but don't play it for various reasons such as:
-It's a gimmick build
-It's too glassy
This build tries to solve those problems, while retaining the playstyle of 30 Arcana Dagger Elementalists.
This is the build that I personally use, and do so because of my experiences with the other 4 builds listed on this page. So please look at those 4 builds’ advice and incorporate that into how to play this version of the Elementalist.
General Dungeon Strategy:
One of the things you’ll find in the balance of GW2 is that ranged damage, with some exceptions, does significantly less damage than melee damage. It’s for this reason that Hammer, the only Elementalist’s actually ‘melee’ weapon, deals so much damage compared to the Elementalist’s actual weapon sets. Luckily, it is possible to fit in a great deal of utility from the Elementalist as well, whether you play an Arcana build with the power to provide boons and support from the four elements - Might from Fire, Heals and Regen from Water, Swiftness and Fury from Air, and Protection and CC from Earth - or a purely Might and Fury stacking 0 Arcana build that still adds quite a bit of DPS to your group.
What this means is that you’ll often find yourself up in the front lines, sort of forced to really, due to the close range of Dagger and Hammer.
The first thing to note is that as daunting as it can be to be in a PUG wearing light armor with Berserker stats while you’re up in melee while everyone else insists on ranging, it’s actually not nearly as bad as it sounds. The reason for this has to deal with the way enemy aggro works in this game. You will have such a low armor class and with nothing in your earth tree, the only classes that will have as low toughness as you will be other Berserker Light Armor classes. So if you’re in a party with all Eles, Necros, and Mesmers wearing all Berserker gear, you might be in a bit of a tough spot, but that’s fairly rare.
In truth, whoever has higher armor than you will generally draw aggro thanks to the way aggro works in this game. The trick then, as an Elementalist, to retaining your survivability, is to stay with your party, and allow them to engage first. Once they do, you can freely move up into melee distance.
However, the squishiness of the Elementalist does mean that they are vulnerable to instagibs and dying to random accumulated attacks by trash mobs. It is for this reason that I personally try to have at least one good long protective utility like Arcane Shield or Mist Form. For harder content, I may even use both along with Lightning Hammer/Arcane Wave.
I hope this guide helped you, and I’m still in the process of editing it, but I wanted to get it out there to get some feedback right away. Please leave comments in the respective thread I posted this in, and I’ll make sure to read them. I will be editing this guide over time.
The Elementalist is in an interesting position in the Dungeon Metagame at the moment. They have a lot of potential to do all sorts of things, especially thanks to the recent June patch. When I last posted a guide, I basically saw only one or two really good builds, but now the Elementalist has so much more diversity in the things it can bring, thanks to several tweaks and buffs. They can even work with the infamous “Organized Group” metagame due to their ability to stack Might and Fury while doing some of the highest damage in the game. They have basically unrivaled power to boost their ally’s damage, and have some incredible access to certain things all at once if they choose to spec for it (such as AoE group condition cleansing or Protection granting). They have some great escape utilities and incredible sustain with Water and Arcana, yet they also can instead choose to stack damage multiplier traits and smash things down faster than anyone else. An Elementalist with a Focus and Lightning Hammer doesn’t make a bad utility-DPS character in your average dungeon group.
In the end, I definitely feel the Elementalist is viable in this current PvE metagame, both for Organized Groups and PUGs. It has build diversity, and it can have incredible damage, incredible support, incredible self-sustain, or even a bit of both.
If you feel there is a build that I should add to this guide, feel free to post here or message me in-game. Please leave any feedback in the thread, or message me at my GW2 username, Neko.9021.
I hope you enjoyed this guide!
Edited by JNeko, 18 July 2013 - 12:22 AM.