I love healing, I've always gravitated towards it in MMOs. I decided to main an Elementalist because it was quite clear that they would excel in a healing and support role.
After 3 months of testing and dungeon running with my guild, I think I've settled on the best build and gear itemization. In the passages below, I'll be outlining my build, itemization, and a guide to its use.
Now that I've outlined the numbers, it's time to interpret them.
My goal was to make a very Tough healer with decent Power that never goes into a downed-state. I think it's incredibly important to stay on your feet at all times. Pulling Allies from a fight so they can resurrect you is a distraction and lowers the groups damage. Often, one person goes down and things spin out of control, resulting in a wipe. This build is intended to keep you and your allies alive and condition free while providing decent sustained damage. I selected skills, traits, and gear with this in mind.
My gear itemization focuses on Power, Toughness, and Healing power; with a slight sprinkling of Vitality.
I completely avoid Precision, Condition Damage, and Critical Damage. For Utility Skills, I bring Conjure Frost Bow, Arcane Shield, and Mist Form.
Frost Bow provides additional Healing Power. It also has an AOE through Ice Storm. Healing through Water Arrow and most importantly an awesome CC with Deep Freeze. Frost Bow is nice because if I've blown through all my attunements and don't have much to spam. I can Conjure a Frost Bow and remain active in the fight.
Arcane Shield and Mist Form are, very simply, 'Oh Shit' buttons. They are to keep me alive during fights or when trying to run past or skip mobs.
Elite skill is obviously Glyph of Elementals.
(Alternative skills can also be Glyph of Lesser Elemental, Signet of Earth, or Signet of Air.)
Also, I think the Sylvari makes the best Water Elementalist because they have a Racial Skill that aids in Group Healing. Healing Seed is a self heal for 7,843 and also provides regeneration to allies near it (1,182 HP over 4 seconds)
My trait selections were pretty obvious. I chose my Fire traits to increase damage. My water traits reduce cooldowns and remove conditions and my Arcana grant boons and increase the radius of my AOE attacks and heals. Also, I avoided traiting into Air or Earth because I didn't want to waste Trait points in acquiring Critical Chance, Critical Damage, or Condition Damage.
Now that I've got the basics out of the way; I'd like to talk about gear itemization in greater detail. It took a lot of time and wasted gold/dungeon tokens before I felt like I got it right.
Guild Wars 2 has limited combinations of Attributes offered on gear. When you combine this with the Trait Trees offering Attributes as well, it can feel like you are being pulled in multiple directions. This is especially true if you are trying to stack Healing Power. Most of the healing dungeon sets offered (Healing, Precision, Vitality) or (Healing, Vitality, Condition Damage).
To me, these seemed less than ideal. Precision is only valuable if you have a decent amount of Power and Critical Damage. It's true that with high Precision it's possible to proc conditions (whether it be from a Sigil or Traits) but I'd only get use out of that if I had a decent Condition Damage. If I tried to mix Condition Damage, Precision, AND Healing, I'd be too spread out and too fragile.
Also, I didn't want to invest into Condition Damage because I was set on using the Staff. The staff is by far the best Support Weapon but, it has a very limited ability to spread conditions. (Earth 2 'Eruption' being the only exception). I should also point out that "A little" Condition Damage is pointless, if you want it to be effective, the coefficients on it require you to stack a punch of it.
Also, In dungeons and Fractals, being able to stay on your feet is critical. I knew I needed a good amount of Toughness or Vitality (Or a combination of both). As a healer who has several regeneration skills, I knew toughness would be better of the two.
The Cleric Set seemed like the obvious choice. It's worked out great but, I felt like a full Cleric Set with Cleric Gems left me with too little HP. I knew I needed more Vitality, I could either do this by ditching my Runes of the Monk for Runes that offer more Vitality or find another solution.
I came to the strange conclusion that Crests of the Solider were actually my best option over other Gems. Even though they have less stats, they are the only Upgrade Component that offers both Power, Toughness, and Vitality. I'm still playing around with different Gem/Rune combinations and would appreciate any suggestions!
That being said this build has been working out great in Fractals and Dungeons and I encourage you to check it out!