Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Illusionary Magic: The Passive Aggressive Mesmer

Previously I mentioned the value of signets with their passive buffs. Obviously the most successful mesmers will be those who utilize them effectively. I decided to devise a PvP build around the use of signets. Originally I did it for amusement, but ultimately found it to be quite potent from my experience trying it out in the recent open beta stress test.

Normally I start making a build by choosing my weapons but this time I considered traits first. There are only three traits that directly relate to signets. Due to their placement in the lines, you can only have any two of the three rather than all three. Since this is a PvP build and I decided to build heavily around interrupts, I chose Signet Mastery and Blurred Inscriptions. Signet of Mastery is a master trait in the Domination line that decreases signet cool downs by 20% and Blurred Inscriptions is a grandmaster trait in the Dueling line that grants 1 second of Distortion when you activate a signet

Having pinpointed a play style, I chose sword/pistol and dual swords. The sword's auto-attack inflicts vulnerability and Blurred Frenzy grants a second of distortion. The offhand sword features a daze, and the offhand pistol skill Trick Shot stuns one enemy, dazes another and blinds a third. As for signets, you have four to choose from; for this build, I chose Signet of Domination which offers a passive buff to condition damage and stuns the enemy when activated, and Signet of Midnight, which increases boon duration or blinds the enemy when activated. Instead of a third signet, I chose Blink to teleport and/or break stuns on myself. I also chose Time Warp for the elite.

Now I was ready to select the rest of my traits, starting with the Domination line. In addition to Signet Mastery, I chose Halting Strike, which damages enemies when you interrupt them and Confounding Suggestions, which has a 50% chance of causing a 1 second stun every time the enemy is dazed. The minor Domination traits inflict vulnerability when you interrupt or daze enemies, and increase damage against inactive targets.

One of the minor traits of note in the Dueling line is Deceptive Evasion, which generates a clone when you dodge. Frequent dodging coupled with distortion and teleportation will make it difficult for enemies to get a handle on you. In addition to Blurred Inscriptions, I chose Sharper Images, a very popular and powerful trait for offhand pistol users in particular that allows illusions to inflict a bleed on critical hits. I also chose Blade Training which grants +50 precision when your main hand is a sword, increasing your chance to score critical hits.

I put the remaining ten trait points into Inspiration. The minor trait Vengeful Images grants Retaliation to phantasms, returning some of the damage to enemies. The major trait Persisting Images grants phantasms 20% more health.

The TL;DR version:
  • weapons: sword/pistol and dual swords
  • healing skill: Ether Feast
  • utility skills: Blink, Signet of Midnight, Signet of Domination
  • elite skill: Time Warp
  • 30 points in Domination: Halting Strike, Signet Mastery, Confounding Suggestions
  • 30 points in Dueling: Sharper Images, Blade Training, Blurred Inscriptions
  • 10 points in Inspiration: Persisting Images
From my limited experience in the recent open beta stress test, the build has good survivability and does a fair amount of damage despite being geared more towards control. It may even replace my current PvP build of choice.


  1. I like this background. I'm working on my thief at the moment too. At first I used to pick my weapons first and then try and move traits around those. But now I'm trying to build and move traits based on a specific skill or playstyle, i.e. movement-shadowsteps, movement increase traits, increas during stealth etc.

    I found it more rewarding and a lot more fun making my builds this way. At the moment I'm focussing on using stealth to its fullest for heals and boon AOE.

  2. It is very interesting that you bring up two different methods to create builds.
    1. Start with weapons and adjust traits to support them.
    2. Start with traits and choose weapons to support them.
    I don't know if Arena net did this on purpose but that really allows a player to adjust their character's abilities to their play-style, as you have discussed in the post. I've never really thought about it like this before.
    Thanks for the post.

    1. I think as we were first introduced to the game and traits, we were all tempted to create builds the same way we were introduced to them. Weapons, skills, traits.

      As we have become more adept with the trait system, we have created more and more specific builds to fit our interests. For the thief at the least, the traits become the center piece to the build, because they are really what defines what we want. Essentially, because traits have become more valuable and more specific to our build, many of us have started to work from there.

      I actually was thinking about this for quite a while a couple of days ago, and it's definitely an interesting consequence of the trait system. What it means in the larger picture, is a little harder to understand, and I haven't quite figured that out.