Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Starting a Mesmer in Guild Wars 2 (Part 1 of 2)

The mesmer held a sword in the artwork of the first Guild Wars, hinting at a magical duelist profession. During development, plans changed and the mesmer was implemented as a pure caster who shut down enemies and supported allies with mind-bending magic. The Guild Wars 2 mesmer can still be played as a pure caster, but its full potential as a magical duelist has finally been realized. In fact, the starting weapon is a sword. The mesmer is already known as one of the most challenging professions, and your first experience as the light armor wearing scholar involves melee. I hope this guide will help make the experience a little less overwhelming.

After you create your mesmer, you will enter the tutorial. As of the last open beta, the tutorial focuses on two things: introducing dynamic events and the downed state. It’s fun and exciting but shallow in terms of introducing combat. This wouldn’t be a big deal if the combat was static, but it’s a lot more active than what many of us expect from an MMORPG. You will find yourself punished early and often for bad habits like standing in one spot mindlessly button mashing. Even the early levels require more finesse. Rather than dodge being a stat, it’s something you actually do by pressing the dodge icon, the V key, or any movement key twice. Dodging will be especially important to you as a scholar in melee range.

Your weapon set determines your first five skills. You begin with your sword’s first skill, a chained skill that causes damage and vulnerability the first two hits, and stabs your foe and removes a buff on the third hit.  You also have one healing skill, Ether Feast; the more illusions you have up (to a maximum of 3), the more you heal yourself. After so many kills, you will unlock the next weapon skill. You don’t have to go to a skill trainer to learn new skills. After a few more kills, you get the third skill, Illusionary Leap. This is your first introduction to illusions. You summon a clone that cripples your foe, and you have the option to swap places with your clone.

Now you can access the mesmer’s unique mechanic: shattering. One of the first two shatters you have at your disposal is Mind Wrack (F1), which destroys your illusions and damages the foe; the more illusions you have up, the greater the damage. The other available shatter is Cry of Frustration (F2), which confuses foes, or causes them to take damage when they attack. Soon you will unlock the remaining two shatters, Diversion (F3), which dazes foes, and Distortion (F4), which allows you to evade attacks.

By the time you unlock your first three weapon skills, you have probably acquired at least one offhand usable by mesmers: a focus, a torch, a pistol or another sword. If you find yourself struggling with melee, you may equip a scepter in place of your main hand sword. Perhaps you even have a staff or great sword. When you equip a new weapon type, you need to unlock the associated weapon skills but it’s a relatively painless process that helps you learn the different play styles these weapons support. I suggest unlocking as many weapon skills as possible in the early levels. You unlock weapon swapping at level seven, which allows you to switch between two weapon sets during combat by pressing the weapon swap icon or an assigned hot key. 

Next week, I will discuss the remaining skill slots, underwater combat and traits.


  1. An excellent first effort.

    I'm looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on the profession's weapons (which situations/circumstances are more favorable for one weapon set over another for example) and further discussion of the profession's shatter mechanic.

    It's my personal belief that the clones in particular should be looked at as simply a means of using one of the 4 shatter effects. The damage of the phantasms could potentially be more useful than an immediate shatter, but the clones simply don't hold up to abuse well enough to leave them out on the field for long at all.

    Mastering this profession's mechanic will require finesse with the timing of when clones are brought out to be shattered in such a way that you're not also wasting the potential damage of a good phantasm in doing so.

    If you're comfortable with it, I would eagerly look forward to a skill-by-skill analysis of the weapons, including your personal opinion on each, and perhaps a look at any particular overall builds you're experimenting with or considering (standard caveat that everything is still subject to change while we're in the beta testing.)

    1. I would really like to see either a "how to play" column or maybe an advanced skill-by-skill analysis as well. Mesmers are a really amazing, unique class but they seem a little complex for me. I had a hard time in-game keeping track of my 3 clones and knowing when to shatter them. The Mesmer just felt so chaotic, and was a little above me at the time. (I did jump into sPvP immediately after the PvE tutorial, so that may have just been my lack of experience with the profession. I deeply regret ever doing that.)

    2. They will definitely provide lots of fodder for discussion in the future. As time goes on, I will go more and more into the specifics but for now I thought I'd start with a general overview of what starting the game as a mesmer is like, and address some of the initial challenges faced by myself and others in hopes of easing players into the profession, especially those who were initially scared off by its complexity.

      Sometimes I think the only thing more overwhelming than playing a mesmer is talking about the mesmer. It's such a rich profession.

  2. I look forward to reading what Aly has to say about the Mesmer. I have read her blog and it is very well done. I know she will do a good job.

  3. being a Mesmer lover myself i'll definitely be following your posts. i'm always interested to see what other people have to say about the classes i enjoy. after all the best way to improve is to build off of what everyone else has to say.