Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How to Make a Good Build 101: Part 1.5

I was posting yesterday's article on a mainstream MMO site, and received generally favorable reviews.  The thread was also extremely useful for me, and I got some great feedback.  One of the posters wanted to see an example build designed by me, to lead by example so to speak.  At first, I was a little worried to get scrutinized by the community, but I had done it several times for my friends, so why the hell not?

I hadn't ever really looked into mesmers in great detail, but they kind of caught my eye with their mystical illusions of purple butterfly powers.  I started out thinking I wanted a build that would utilize shatters, specifically a bursty build that revolved entirely around the damaging shatter Mind Wrack.  My aesthetic vision was to have a reasonably balanced character that could burst for reasonably large numbers, while also avoiding the general "glass cannon" archetype. Specifically, I wanted to have some defense-based moves that I could activate to get the hell out when I need them to.  Defense can come in several forms, and I chose a very active form of ability-based defenses that rely on stealth for quick escapes.

So I glanced at the different weapon sets and decided on a Greatsword and a Sword/Torch combination.  Both were balanced, having great offensive and defensive abilities included, while also carrying multiple illusion-creating abilities.  Creating illusions is absolutely critical for any shatter build, so I wanted weapon sets that had several moves that could create a clone or phantasm at any given moment.  In my weapon sets alone, I have 4 of these moves. I also liked how they didn't revolve entirely around conditions like the staff and sceptor.

I then moved in the order suggested by my previous article, my utilities.  I liked the idea of mantras, but I wasn't sure how well they would sync up in a fight. Mirror Images was an extremely easy choice, creating two additional clones at will. I also liked the idea of Decoy, as an additonal stealth/adding an additional illusion that could be used both defensively and offensively for another opportunity to shatter.  I also liked the Moa bird, because in my mind at least, this is what clone-spam Mesmers do best.  They make their enemy run around like a chicken with their head chopped off.

  My mesmer would have the innate defense of mass confusion, and I don't mean the condition.  Having to tell who is who in the middle of a battlefield of constantly created-and-destroyed illusions is always frightening for the opponent.  (Trust me, I've been on the other side of it.) However, I had a problem in finding the 3rd utility, and until I looked at traits I could not decide.  I was lost as to what exactly I wanted, and I really wanted to look at traits to see if there was someway to make something work.  Having to go back and forth will happen in many of your experimental builds, and it's alright.  Once you have decided on your traits, its very easy to fill in one spot.  However, if you try to make your traits first, you can get easily overwhelmed by the options.  Try to start out with a main vision, but be open-minded and be willing to change if you see something better.

So, I moved to my traits.  I immediately went to the Illusions tree and quickly filled the entire line. The major attribute were perfect for reducing the cooldowns on my shatters. The minor traits were exceptionally useful providing faster cooldowns on illusion-creating abilities, providing conditions on my enemies, and buffs to me on each shatter.  It was a perfect fit to my build.  For majors, I chose Compounding Power that synergized amazingly with my illusion making build.  I also loved Illusionary Persona, which creates the shatter effect on me as well.  At this point, I could potentially hit someone with a single shatter 4 times (3 from each of my illusions and 1 from me), and that alone would create the nice bursty build I was looking for. Phantasmal Haste looked promising, but I still wanted to increase my damage output so I jumped instead into Precise Wrack, increasing my chance of critically damaging with shatters by 25%.  Please note, that while the minor attribute to increase conditions is not really what I was going for, I still chose the tree based on the all-around bonuses to my build.  If everything is perfect except for one little detail, then don't be afraid to try it out.  If it doesn't work out, just reset and go to a different tree.

Since I had chosen a critically damaging trait last, I naturally wanted to follow up with Dueling.  The tree would provide increased critical chance and critical damage, which is perfect for a bursty build and.  I also benefit with the immense synergy of Precise Wrack and this trait line, so it was a great follow up to the previous tree. I chose Desperate Decoy to add to my defenses another stealth.  (You can tell by this point,  I like my stealth moves. I have 3 at this point, and they are perfect for confusing and escaping.) I loved the 5 and 15 point minors, they would synergize well together allowing me to dodge more often after critical strikes and create a clone each time I dodge.  Since this tree would increase my chances of critically hitting (along with Precise Wrack), I would be able to dodge even more often, creating even more clones to shatter. The more clones the better position I will be in for confusing my opponent and for more frequent shattering opportunities. The more shattering opportunities, the better my burst potential will be.  Everything flowed so nicely together at this point, that I was just excited to see where it led.

Finding the next tree was chosen by first addressing what I wanted out of my build.  What would make my build even better? Should I increase my damage further or provide more defense?  Since, I felt that my weapon sets and utilities were already providing a decent amount of defense I jumped into the Domination line.  The additional damage would continue to fit in perfectly with my build, and the condtion damage would synergize well with the minor attribute from the Illusions tree, condition duration. I loved the major that would provide 30% more damage to Mind Wrack, the damaging shatter that was going to be utilized as my primary burst.

 At this point, I realized that my shatter would still be on a 8-15 second cooldown before I could utilize it again.  I needed to make a second shatter my primary when Mind Wrack was on cooldown, and the minors for the Domination line fit well.  I could use Diversion to provide a defensive/offensive shatter that would daze my foes, effectively interrupting heals or other more dangerous casts.  The minors for the domination line just added to this shatter by granting vulnerability on to the enemy when I daze or interrupt, which as you guessed it, would make me do even more damage.  At this point I had 10 more trait points and a utility to find.

I tried the other trees and just couldn't find something I absolutely had to have.  So, I kept looking around the trees and kept noticing some mantra enhancing traits, specifically in trees that I already had points in.  So I went to my utilities, and examined my options.  I ultimately chose Mantra of Pain, because you guessed it, it would increase my already large amount of burst.  I had no complaints.  I then moved into the trees and looked for the mantra traits I noticed earlier.  And that's when it hit me, I had two mantras, a healing mantra and now a damaging mantra. There was a trait in Dueling that would enhance my overall damage for each readied mantra.  I had two mantras, so I thought it could be useful.  I then went to the Domination tree, and saw the holy grail, a trait called Harmonious Mantras that would allow me to activate my mantras twice.  If you are doing math, that now doubles my base number of  readied mantras to 4, and increases my damage even more.  It also provides the additional benefit of allowing me to proc my heal or burst skill twice in a fight before having to recharge.  Once again adding to the duality of burst/defense I was hoping for.

My build was done. Everything in my build has synergy with another trait, skill, or utility (except for my Moa Bird elite.  However, I love my Moa Morph, so you cannot make me change my mind.) It took some time, a little bit of frustration, and some reading.  You can definitely do this.  I didn't know that much about Mesmer's before I started and had to learn the cooldown lengths of the shatters, how many illusions they could have up at one time, etc.  However, it can be done, even on a profession you don't know much about.  It just requires about 30 minutes of your time and of course, tender, loving care.

For those interested:  my build can be found here:  My Build

or use this, for you mobile users:  http://www.gw2tools.com/skills#m;kkaap;WVaYbaaaaaaadYg;ZaYa;YXgTZ


  1. It's interesting, and I think a credit to ANet, but I also have a GS or sword/focus and a lot of the same utilities (mirror images, decoy, moa) for my PvP build yet mine is built less around spamming illusions for shatters and burst damage and more on spamming illusions to maintain speed, defense, and damage boosts. I think either route is viable, and it shows just how much diversity the trait system allows even for people who choose the same weapons and similar utilities.

    I agree, it does take some time and thought. In previous builds, I took the minor traits for granted and they didn't always have the best synergy with my major traits. And sometimes what looks good on paper doesn't always work the way you expect in game.

    Sadly harmonious mantras does not work with the healing mantra at this time. I'm not sure if it's a bug or working as intended but my supportive PvE build plays more heavily with mantras, and it was somewhat of a let-down. I think it works fine with the other mantra traits though.

    1. First off, thanks for the well-written comment.

      Agreed, I love the amount of diverse, viable builds can be made from similar mechanics (in this case shatters). It will be extremely interesting to see what builds people come up with in-game. I had the exact same experience in my first thief build for the first BWE. I thought I had a great build on paper, and it didn't live up to my expectations I tried to make a Cloak and Dagger Build only to have it fall apart in practice.

      Harmonious mantras doesn't work with the healing mantra. But...But...Hmm....that's just disappointing. I hope that's a glitch, but it may be needed for balance purposes. Well, I guess you can't have everything. Thanks for the tip, and I'm hoping to actually play with the Mesmer a bit during the stress test on Monday.