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Big Swords & Butterflies: Dungeon Play


Another week, another chance for us to examine that master of deception, the maestro of illusions, the Mesmer. For the last two weeks we’ve covered some strategies for leveling your Mesmer and I’ve recommended a simple starter build, but one subject that we have yet to cover is how the Mesmer plays when it comes to dungeons.

When you reach level (buy cheap 30 , not only do you unlock your elite skill slot, but you also get a notification, via in-game mail, that Rtylock would like some backup in the Ascalonian Catacombs. This, my friends, is your very first invitation to the dungeons of Guild Wars 2, and because ArenaNet likes to be different, the dungeons are different from anything else you may have encountered.

Know Your Role

GW2 doesn’t follow the traditional pattern of tank, healer, and dps; instead, it’s has gone with a looser trinity of support, control, damage. What role does the Mesmer play, then? That’s an excellent question: all three. Depending on how you’ve built your character, what weapons you’re bringing to the party, and what utility skills are on your bar, you could be playing any of the above roles, and that’s a good thing.
When you first head into a dungeon, look around at the other players in your group and take an inventory of what you see. Are you running with a Warrior? They will most likely be focusing on pure damage  and maybe a little bit of control. Have an Elementalist in your group? They have the ability, in water attunement, to provide some group healing, damage in other forms, and some control to boot. How about them Necromancers – expect lots of conditions. Lots. Take a look at your group, and then from there you can decide what role you would best fill. If you have a lot of damage classes, consider going more support or control, for example.

Pain Sticks

So which weapons are good in dungeons? Because we only wear the lightest of armors, standing in melee range with mobs that hit even harder than out in the rest of the world is generally not the best of ideas. All it takes is for that champion-level ghost to look at you funny and you’ll find yourself in the down state. As a result, you might want to leave that shiny sword in your bag until you’re back in the rest of the world, unless you want to put it in your offhand.

Staff. The staff provides decent AoE damage, the ability to apply conditions to a group of mobs, and some illusions to help buffer and distract. Good for groups of enemies and getting conditions up.

Scepter. Some have given the scepter a bad name, and it’s true that it takes some getting used to, but with the right mindset it’s a fantastic weapon. With the scepter you will be using your shatter skills frequently – as in, every time they are off cooldown. Clones are generated at an incredible rate with this weapon and shatters hit everything in their range. Confusion is also a nice condition to apply, and the block from Illusionary Counter helps in a pinch.

Greatsword. I seem to have a love/hate relationship with the greatsword, because some of the skills are really enjoyable, and when I pick it up after some time it feels nice. Then it doesn’t, and I find myself going back to the staff for my ranged set. If you have a lot of room to move around and can guarantee the distance, then use the greatsword. Pushback, boon removal, cripple and a decent phantasm – but it’s murder (not the good kind) in tight spaces with limited range.

Torch. This is an amazing weapon that, again, I think people tend to underestimate. We only have a few ways of getting combo fields going, and the torch provides us with a nice blast finisher on The Prestige. Throw down a Chaos Storm, have your team stand inside it, then use The Prestige to give everyone Chaos Armor. Good times.

Focus. The focus brings some very good utility to yourself and your group. Being able to cripple and push mobs around is always fun, and the defensive phantasm can be very helpful in a pinch.

Pistol. Good DPS and a daze, win-win if you want pure damage.

Sword (offhand). While the phantasm on this weapon usually gets turned to paste, the addition of a block skill is very useful. If you want to be a troll, use the sword offhand with a scepter mainhand and watch your enemy be unable to hit you through all the blocking.

Bring the Right Tool

Having the right weapon for the job is good, but we also have our utility skills to consider. Aside from the usual skills you’d bring from out in the rest of the world, consider a few of these, which really play well with groups:

Null Field: This little beauty will remove all conditions from anyone that runs into it and prevents new conditions from being applied. There are some fights–I’m looking at you, Sorrow’s Embrace golems–where conditions are very deadly and you’ll want to remove them as quickly as possible. May as well help the group out, too.

Feedback: There is nothing quite as satisfying as watching an enemy kill themselves with Feedback. Not only does it hurt the enemy, it also prevents your team from taking that damage, giving everyone a much-needed breather.

Illusion of Life: Sometimes the end is nigh and everyone is on their backs. Life gets all the downed players back on their feet and if they can kill something, anything, during that brief time, they rally.

Don’t Be Timid

One observation that I’ve made is that there are a lot of timid players when it comes to the dungeons. Everyone seems very eager to form a group, but once inside no one wants to take the lead. Since GW2 did away with the trinity formula, there is no need to wait for the tank to make the pull!

If you find yourself in a group in which no one wants to take the lead, step up and do it! Not only will this move the run along, it will help reinforce the idea that there is no reason to be waiting. As long as the group is ready to go, feel free to step up and be the leader. You may not know every pull, or what every boss does, but that’s okay. Just get the group moving and the rest can be figured out.

Think of it this way – we’re Mesmers and that means we deal with illusions; give the illusion of leadership and the rest will follow!

Until next time, keep guessing.

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