Good day, and welcome to a short writeup on an unorthodox d/d build that I have used for a little while in PvE and WvW. With the recent changes from the 25th June 2013 patch to Persisting Flames, Stone Splinters, Arcane Lightning and Arcane Shield in particular, the build has become even more aggressive while retaining the same trait setup.
This build originated in early May 2013 and was discussed in this thread where alternate d/d builds were considered. In part, the build was created out of frustration with the game's current meta and its mindless fascination with hitting, and surpassing the DPS ceiling.
While I don't disagree that damage alone is most effective in the game at this time, I honestly do wish that encounters were not so one-sided. I spent the vast majority of time on my elementalist using a staff and in a support role. Nevertheless, thinking along the lines of achieving greater DPS, I wanted a d/d build that didn't use the Lightning Hammer, and something that could be used in both PvE and small group fights or roaming in WvW (glass-cannons don't do particularly well in large group fights).
This build features good burst damage but is low on survivability. Call it the Arcane Berserker if you like.
Full Berserker's with Superior Sigil of Force on one weapon and Superior Sigil of Accuracy on the other. The Sigil of Accuracy is substituted for Superior Sigil of Fire if you are more cashed up. My personal choice for armor upgrades is 6X Ruby Orbs as they are effective and inexpensive. A full set of Rune of the Scholar offers nice bonuses to damage if you find yourself at > 90% health often enough, but I find this difficult to achieve in practice. Runes of the Eagle or Divinity are another two sound choices. Runes of Strength would also be recommended if they ever fixed the bugs associated with it.
If you wish to have some survivability (which is helpful in WvW) with minimal compromise to your damage output, consider using Knight's stats in your Helm, Coat and Leggings (these three pieces having the worst trade-off of stat points per % of critical damage at their highest tier, currently exotic). Alternatively, use a mixture of Cavalier's and Valkyrie's ascended trinklets instead of Berserker's trinklets. This will come at the cost of precision, partially circumvented through the use of Arcane Power (granting limited number of critical hits on activation), or fury gained through blast finishers in your fire fields (through Persisting Flames).
If you are thinking about gear for survivability and at a loss when choosing between adding toughness or vitality, consider that the current rule of thumb is to have your armor statistic at roughly a tenth of your total health pool.
Arcane Wave (for more PBAoE damage and a blast finisher in your fire fields for might and fury), Lightning Flash (a get-out-of-jail card that may also be used to start channeling Churning Earth well away from danger, then teleport into the mob near the end of that channel for Churning Earth's final hit) and Arcane Shield (as a stun-break, blocks up to three attacks over a 5 second duration, dealing PBAoE damage if it does). Alternative utilities instead of Lightning Flash include Arcane Power, Mist Form and Armor of Earth.
The choice is entirely up to you as Ether Renewal, Glyph of Elemental Harmony and Signet of Restoration are all good skills. I like ER especially for the superior heal on a low cooldown with great condition removal, but a build like this is very susceptible to burst damage, particularly while channeling ER, so it might be better to use GoEH for a large heal with a low cast time. SoR is decent for its passive effect with small top-up heals but probably more suited to the traditional 0/10/0/30/30 tanky d/d builds.
Glyph of Elementals and Conjure Firey Greatsword are both good choices. If you are often waiting for weapon skills to come off cooldown, or waiting for an attunement to become available, use the Greatsword to keep your damage up. The auto-attack on the Greatsword is actually decent on trash mobs.
Choice of Traits
Fire Magic (30 points invested): III- Ember's Might, VI- Internal Fire, XI- Persisting Flames
The traits give you the potential to do more damage, particularly in Fire attunement which is where some of the biggest burst damage can be found in Burning Speed, Ring of Fire and Fire Grab. Persisting Flames was acceptable in the past, but it saw a great change in the recent 25th June patch that now adds fury for 10 seconds for every blast finisher you put in your fire fields.
Air Magic (20 points invested): VI- Bolt to the Heart, VII- Arcane Lightning
Arcane Lightning has good synergy with Arcane Wave, which is a near-mandatory utility in this build. Or go with the traditional choice of I- Zephyr's Boon, but this is less effective without stacking boon duration or aura sharing.
Earth Magic (10 points invested): VI- Stone Splinters
A free 10% boost to damage considering that with a d/d setup, you will be within 600 units of your target while attacking. This trait was not as useful prior to the 25th June patch given the lower damage bonus and the much shorter distance requirement. Defensive alternatives are III- Earth's Embrace and V- Elemental Shielding.
Arcana (10 points invested): VI- Renewing Stamina
Triggering this trait enables more frequent dodging which will likely be required to negate as much incoming damage as possible with this glass-cannon build. Good alternatives in this trait line include I- Arcane Mastery, IV- Final Shielding (considering that Arcane Shield is now a stun-break) and V- Elemental Attunement (once again, less effective without boon duration stacking but offers some party support).
An alternative is to take 10 points out of Arcana and invest it into Water Magic for VI- Vital Striking which would give you the potential to do even greater burst damage. This might be a reasonable choice in an organized group if you are taking damage infrequently. It is probably not a great idea in small group fights or roaming in WvW due to the amount of damage you would take from stray hits. In Water Magic, another good support trait is V- Cleansing Wave. I personally wouldn't do this, but if you decide to put 10 more points into Earth Magic, pick up VII- Strength of Stone. Without the 10 points in this trait line, the attunement recharge rate is very lethargic and it leaves me feeling ineffective for a period of time after completing a full rotation through the elements.
One possible rotation is this:
Engage with Ride the Lightning (engage when nearer if you are concerned about missing) --> Updraft --> Shocking Aura --> switch to Fire attunement for Burning Speed + Arcane Wave (use Arcane Wave to blast your fire field and add more spike damage while going in for the hit with Burning Speed) --> Ring of Fire --> Fire Grab. Testing this in Heart of the Mists with a Knight's Amulet and Berserker's Jewel, a heavy golem would be down after the Fire Grab.
Switch to Earth attunement for Earthquake (blasts your fire field for the second time) --> Churning Earth (blasts your fire field a third time to leave you sitting at 9 stacks of might and easily still have 20+ seconds of fury at this point) --> Magnetic Grasp + Magnetic Leap (optional, grants Fire Aura as a combo with your fire field) --> switch to Water attunement for Frost Aura --> Frozen Burst or Cleansing Wave if you need the heal/ condition removal. The rest is up to you, including the use of your Firey Greatsword elite skill. Pay special attention to fire fields and their combos.
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