Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Illusionary Magic: Tips on Mesmer Skill Selection

While the newly tiered skills provide additional guidance and direction for the novice mesmer, you may still have questions about which utility skills are best for you as you level up. Ultimately skill selection comes down to personal preference. These tips are geared to those players who are drawn to this mysterious profession but intimidated by its complexity.

You unlock your first utility skill at level five. You also have one point to spend, possible more if you've completed some skill challenges. Now some players admit to under-utilizing their utility skills early on because they are still trying to get a handle on other nuances of their chosen profession. Signets are perfect for these players because they always provide some benefit even if you do not activate them. The first utility skills I recommend picking up are Signet of Domination and Signet of Inspiration. Signet of Domination is great because it provides a passive boost to condition damage, but it's even better when you do activate it because it stuns the enemy. Signet of Inspiration provides a random boon every ten seconds; when activated, you copy all your boons to nearby allies.

I also recommend the mantras, channeled skills you charge then use at the opportune moment in battle. Mantra of Pain becomes Power Spike, which damages the enemy for 487 damage, and Mantra of Distraction becomes Power Lock, which dazes the enemy.  These skills recall the old school mesmer of the original. They really shine if you pursue certain traits later on, but it doesn't hurt to pick them up now. For example, one of the grandmaster traits in the Domination line, Harmonious Mantras, allows you to use mantras twice without recharging them. Mantra of Distraction will receive also receive a boost from the minor traits you acquire along the way. Illusion of Vulnerability applies five seconds of vulnerability to the enemy when you interrupt an enemy (enhancing Signet of Domination's stun as well) and Dazzling applies 3 additional seconds of vulnerability to dazed enemies specifically.

Spend the fifth point needed to unlock the second tier on the teleportation skill Blink to break stuns. If you don't like Blink for whatever reason, you can pick a different tier one skill and pick up Mantra of Concentration from the second tier because it activates Power Break, which breaks stuns and grants stability. 

By now you may have noticed that a lot of the most generally useful or solo play-oriented skills were assigned to the first tier while a lot of the more situational or group-oriented skills were assigned to the third. The second tier is kind of a mixed bag. If you use a staff, Signet of Midnight improves boon duration and blinds enemies when activated. Mirrored feedback is deadly against ranged attackers like many of those pesky centaurs you'll be facing in Kessex Hills and Gendarran Fields. Decoy is fun, but better suited for PvP than PvE. I sometimes throw it on my bar for WvW. Phantasmal Defender summons an illusion that redirects half your incoming damage onto itself, and may come in handy when solo'ing some of the more difficult bosses or skill challenges.

You'll be around level 20 when you can purchase your first tier 3 utility. You're probably feeling a lot more comfortable with the mesmer and even settling into a particular play style. Mantra of Resolve charges Power Cleanse, which removes all conditions. Signet of Illusions grants additional health to your illusions if you want them to stick around; the shatter-happy mesmer will want to activate it instead to recharge the shatter skills. Team players may gravitate toward Portal or Veil of Invisibility. Before you go too crazy in the third tier, keep in mind that you unlock the elite slot at level 30. Moa is best for solo play and Time Warp is great for groups. Then you can buy the tier 2 elite, Mass Invisibility, and wreck all sorts of havoc in WvW with your friends. 

The mesmer is a challenging profession, but don't let that intimidate you. The trick is to stack the deck in your favor. Play to your strengths, then overcome your weaknesses.


  1. Aly, I was wondering did you notice a noticeable improvement in your pet AI between the first and second BWE?

    1. I thought I did. They seemed to pull aggro a lot more often, but apparently the clones weren't dealing any damage which I hadn't noticed. There also seemed to be less of a delay in phantasms showing up. Still a bit slow on the shattering, though.

    2. Hmm, kk. I really want to try out the Mesmer more, but I really don't want to have to deal with pet AI issues. I'm promising myself that I will try out a different profession. (I think is the third time I've said that, and yet each time I have failed.) I just can't narrow my choice down between Guardian, Ele, and Mesmer. Mesmer has pet AI to worry about, Ele has to constantly change attunements, so maybe a guardian.

  2. Yes, yes. I know all about the necessity of the items. So far, so good with the help of my brothers that is.