Long ago Elementalists were extremely versatile and incredibly efficient at anything and everything they just to do. Cleric/Zerker setups running a dagger/dagger weapon set were a dime a dozen, and for good reason. Condition builds were relatively unheard of, and the Elementalists’ permanent uptime on swiftness, vigor, protection, and multiple powerful healing skills made the would-be squishy profession into a venerable opponent for anyone. Teams would always field at least one Ele, and frequently two. They were mobile, tanky, provided excellent team support, and could dish out some incredibly nasty damage. But after a series of nerfs and the eventual shift of the meta towards HGH condition Engineers and eventually Dhuumfire Necromancers, Elementalists got pushed out of the meta.
These days, everything an Ele was originally brought for is now handled by a warrior (sans team support). Elementalists still have major issues dealing with condition-heavy builds and team compositions, and don’t really have the bulk or damage output to keep up with Warriors these days. As such, the mentality towards Elementalists has shifted from one of begrudging worship to virulent hate. Few if any competitive teams run Elementalists as they just don’t stack up any more. Or do they?
I’ll admit… with Warriors running rampant (not Rampage mind you) and tanky condition builds (*cough* Spirit Rangers *wheeze*) being so prevalent, Ele’s have a hard time staying relevant. But they can still bring an awful lot to the table. Recently I’ve been experimenting with ways of bringing Elementalists back into the PvP meta game, and here’s what I’ve settled on…
The Build The build focuses on bringing solid burst damage, team support, and overall utility… all in one not-too-squishy package. In order to accomplish this, we’ll be running a Scepter/Focus build with a Soldier’s Amulet and offensive traits. The end result is the ability to do reasonable spike damage to targets while being tanky enough to see a battle through to the end (or at least past the 10 second mark). While typically not the most popular weapon set, I believe Scepter/Focus provides an excellent spread of damage, survivability, and utility to make sure that you’re assisting your team on multiple fronts simultaneously. Let’s take a look at the skills:
Main Hand Weapon – Scepter (Sigil of Leeching) The Scepter provides the ele with multiple potent abilities in fire and Air attunements, and some medicore skills in Earth and Water. Fire gives us a slow-casting auto attack that applies a brief burn, a low-cooldown AoE blast finisher that is great on points and terrible out in the open, and an unblockable ranged burst ability that hits like a truck and provides vigor. Air gives us a hum-drum multi-hitting auto-attack, and a low cooldown instant cast shot of damage and blind. Water gives us… a crappy auto attack, a crappy AoE skill that applies vulnerability and a long-cooldown heal. Earth provides an auto attack that stacks a surprisingly large number of bleeds, a temporary armor buff, and a very slow-moving AoE blind. Overall, you’ll spend the vast majority of your time in Fire and Air attunements as far as the main hand is concerned, but the abilities are worth it. The Scepter has the added bonus of making all of your attacks occur from up to 900 range, letting us sit in the midlines, safely out of way from pesky melee classes. Score! The Sigil of Leeching is personal preference, but given the tanky amulet, lack of healing power, and relatively low crit chance, this sigil seems to give the best combination of extra burst damage and additional sustain allowing you to kill faster and live longer.
Off Hand Weapon – Focus (Sigil of Bloodlust) The Focus vs. Dagger offhand argument is as old as… Guild Wars 2. While the dagger offhand provides many solid abilities in every attunement, the focus gives a more volatile mix of abilities. For this build, we’ll be using the focus for its fantastic Air and Earth attunement abilities. Fire gives us a fire shield for stacking might and dishing out burning as well as a small, linear fire combo field. Air gives us a *gigantic* AoE projectile denial on a relatively short cooldown and a solid ranged knockdown on an unbearably long cooldown. Water gives us a short chill and a short daze. Earth provides a potent condi-cleanse, projectile reflect, blast finisher, AoE damage, and a 4 second invulnerability on a 50 second cooldown. Bad. Frackin’. Ass. While the Fire and Water abilities are vastly inferior to their dagger counterparts, the Air 4 and both Earth abilities are easily some of the strongest weapon-based abilities in the game. The focus is your lifeline in this build as it provides you a plethora of ways of controlling a fight and assisting your allies.
Healing Skill – Ether Renewal Ether Renewal is a tricky beast. A 3 second channel that removes up to 8 conditions is pretty awesome, and the very short cooldown is highly appealing, too. Normally, getting a 3 second cast off is quite challenging in PvP, but between our traits and Focus offhand abilities, Ether Renewal becomes a lot more potent. Other heal skills can be subbed in, but without any Healing Power, the significantly longer cooldowns, and the general lack of condition removal in this build, Ether Renewal gets my vote.
Mist Form - Our stunbreak and another invulnerability, Mist Form is always an excellent pickup as it can be used to stomp an enemy, rez a teammate, or just keep yourself alive. Pop this to prevent a boatload of incoming damage, or use it for its utility and get your Guardian back on his feet before in the heat of battle. Arcane Wave - A low cooldown guaranteed crit that can be used to setup a Fresh Air proc, or just spike some extra damage. Rotate this with arcane Blast for sustained damage, or pop them both at the same time for an extra spike. Keep in mind that this ability has no casting animation, so it can be used while CC'd and it's also a guaranteed projectile finisher if you have a fire field or somesuch to shoot it through. Arcane Blast - A ranged AoE damage spell with a blast finisher attached. Once again it's a guaranteed critical hit, so you can use it to burst someone or refresh your Air Attunement to bring on the pain even more. Slightly longer cooldown than Arcane Wave, so use this a bit more judiciously, but it too has no cast animation so feel free to use it while being bashed around. Hitting someone with it while CC'd will let you swap to Air Attunement and blind the next incoming attack as well as dish out some reasonable damage.
This build draws heavily on the Air line, and requires 20 points into Earth for Rock Solid. That only gives us a few points to play around with, but these tend to be best invested into the Arcane traitline. Here's a breakdown of each line and the layout itself: Air Magic: Damage, damage, damage! The Air Magic traitline is kind enough to group critical hit chance and severity into a single line, allowing us to make great use of the high base power attached to the Soldier's Amulet. The traits are relatively straightforward, enhancing your burst damage to low-health targets and whenever you're in Air Attunement in general. To that end, pick up Bolt to The Heart (VI) and Air Training (X) on the way to the grandmaster Fresh Air. Fresh Air is what gives the build some oomf, and is the basis for this Ele's playstyle. Using your reasonable crit rating and the guaranteed critical hits of your arcane skills, you're able to frequently refresh the cooldown on Air Attunement and pop into it for a quick burst of several thousand instant damage and a blind to boot. Earth Magic: Toughness is always good, but the condition damage is a wasted stat in this build. Either way, use these 20 points to pick up an extra defensive cooldown in Armor of Earth (III) and the incredibly awesome Rock Solid (VIII). Coupled together, these will give you and your teammates excellent access to the Stability boon, effectively ruining the days of Warriors and Necromancers alike. These traits will give you a nice defensive buffer if you drop below 50% health, and give you the ability to spread several seconds of stability to yourself and team members whenever you pop into Earth Attunement. Use this to counter incoming stuns or to secure stomps. Use these as a miniature version of the Guardian Shout "Stand Your Ground" to protect your allies and defeat your foes. Arcane Power: The last 20 points reduces the cooldown on all of your attunements and the length of time between swapping attunements. That alone is a very important metric, but on top of that you'll gain extra dodge rolls, additional boon access, and longer boon duration to boot. Renewing Vigor (II) will give you the ability to proc vigor frequently with Arcane Skills, greatly increasing your access to dodge rolls, while Elemental Attunement (VIII) will give you and your nearby allies a nice boost whenever you swap attunements. On top of that you'll gain a brief application of Fury every time you swap attunements allowing your frequent forays into and out of Air Attunement that much more potent!
You're something of a brawler, but play it like a glass cannon. You can take much more abuse than you're average Elementalist, but lack many of the healing and sustain abilities that let them stay in fights once they've taken some damage. Instead you're a team support guru with some potent damage. Keep to the midlines in teamfights, wearing down targets with Air Attunement skills and work with your team mates to line up large spikes of damage with Dragon's Tooth and Phoenix. Given the opportunity, you can use a full combo of Phoenix + Arcane Blast + Arcane Wave + Air Attunement + Lightning Strike to completely annihilate an enemy's health pool, and can even fully burst a squishier target from 100% health to dead with a few lucky crits. Almost all of your meaningful damage is ranged and instant cast, so dish it out and focus primarily on staying alive and assisting your teammates. Keep close to the action so you can provide stability to your allies offensively or defensively in order to apply greater pressure or mitigate the incoming CC, and be prepared to pop Mist Form, Obsidian Flesh, or just spam blinds and stability to secure stomps. Constantly weave in and out of the battle dropping Swirling Winds and applying boons to team mates to keep up a lot of momentum against the other team. Basically your goal is to help control the battle and only worry about dishing out large chunks of damage when your team lines up a stun or immobilize chain to execute a player. Downed bodies are magnets for Dragon's Tooth and Phoenix, and you should be able to cleave the ever-loving Hell out of anyone unforunate enough to drop in a teamfight. Try and avoid solo encounters as you don't have the tools to stand toe-to-toe with condition classes or heavy sustain builds (e.g. any warrior) for extended periods of time. Most of all, have fun. Don't let people bash on you for playing an Elementalist in these trying times. Simply prove to them that the class is perfectly viable, and remember that it's a team game.