One of the things I loved about Guild Wars (and still do!) was the dizzying complexity of the basic Skill Bar Build game. Although everyone had a single hotbar with only eight slots, there were hundreds of skills which could be put in those slots, opening up endless vistas of elaborate theorycraft, clever interplay and intricate sequence building. Check out this dedicated wiki for a mind-boggling sample of this fascinating secondary gameplay!
I used to dabble myself, and if I can ever work out where all our historic posts vanished to, I’ll re-add all my old Comedy Mesmer Build posts back to the site! With a bit of work and without switching to an alt, I could be DPS, Tank, Healer, Crowd Control, Buffer, Debuffer and all sorts of crazy concept gimmick roles of my own devising. Some builds worked very well and others were more in the nature of abject lessons in the perils of Things Looking Good On Paper; exercises in Overdesign. I suspect this reflects many people’s experience with the system during GW’s heyday. Was it too complicated? Did most players shun the theorycraft and just run around with the same eight skills from their primary profession, forever?
Arenanet seem to think so and the system in place in Guild Wars 2 is a far less complex beast.
There are now ten skills in the bar, but the first five of those are a fixed set, based on your profession, and the type of weapons you are holding. Slot six is now a mandatory self-heal skill, chosen from a very small list. Slots seven through nine are now the ‘Utility’ skills, and perhaps most resemble the older game; free picks from a list of about twenty options. Slot ten is the ‘Elite’ skill, chosen from an eventually unlocked list of about five skills. It all seems… much smaller to me.
Most of the available skills are defined by your choice of profession, of which players can only now be one, chosen at character creation and fixed forever. Gone is the quirky but interesting dual-classing of the original, which is a shame. The remaining skills available in the lists are defined by your choice of race, although these seem to be more of a bonus type of thing, an accent, rather than an entire viable alternative. The difference between a Human/Mesmer and Norn/Mesmer is almost negligible compared to the difference between a Mesmer/Necromancer and a Mesmer/Warrior.
The Attributes are gone, replaced by a more standard kind of Talent-Tree-and-Respec sort of thing which affects innate character stats and twiddley class features, instead of directly powering the numerical performance of normal skills.
In this brave new world, can the concept of the Comedy Mesmer Build even exist? I hope to find out in a series of informative education blog posts!
But before trying to come up with anything quirky or unusual, a look at the basics I usually run around with. It’s developed on the base of this build here but without the staff and more emphasis on combo work.
Primary Weapon: Greatsword
Secondary Weapon: Sword/Focus
- 20 Domination: Crippling Dissipation, Greatsword Training
- 20 Duelling: Phantasmal Fury, Deceptive Evasion
- 10 Chaos: Debilitating Dissipation
- 20 Illusions: Compounding Power, Illusionary Elasticity
Gear, gems, etc: Berserker’s, building for +Power, +Precision and +Critical Damage %
The basic thinking behind the build is not terribly cunning – MOAR DPS! Its very glass cannon and I do sometimes struggle with the lack of any gear boosts to native Toughness or Vitality, instead relying on the double-tap dodging, along with knockbacks and cripples, to stay alive. This works most of the time, but doesn’t do well against group-scale alpha strikes. The frailty is more than made up for with the sheer DPS output though – you do need to stay on the move a lot while you are fighting, but those fights don’t last especially long!
Combos are an important part of the build, both group and solo. Including secondary weapon set and follow-on effects, there are four Combo Field: Ethereal and three Combo Finshers of various types in the build, making liberal application of the Confusion condition an important part of overall solo DPS, and helping boost DPS performance of groups and large ungrouped event and WvWvW zergs too.
The build also attempts to make the Illusions more useful while active than shattered, and to keep a full set of three in play at all times during combat. There are probably better builds for specifics, but as a general purpose, have-a-go-at-anything type of set-up, it works well enough for me so far.
So to think in terms of Comedy Builds, perhaps the various weapons are best thought of as single skills, a kind of multi-button meta-skill comprised of several individual skills which must always be placed in the bar together? Syllables instead of letters? Is a weapon just a preset half-build? Comedy Builds can exist if the choice of weapons can augment or interact with the choice of utility heal and elite skills. If not, then any ‘build’ can only really be expressed in the Utility slots, which would be very limited and a shame. So the first step would have to be an understanding of what the weapons each do in themselves.
More thoughts to come…