Minions, oh my!

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Guild Wars (as opposed to all of my posts about Guild Wars 2). Whoops!

I am a bit of a fan of having alts, and while I definitely spend the most time playing my Dervish, I do have one of each profession (and FOUR Mesmers…I may be a bit of a fan of them) and have played most of them a fair amount. The one I find the hardest to play, though, is my Necromancer.

Shizuka is not amused.

It’s not so much that I don’t like the profession (though it’s by far not a favorite of mine, I made one simply to prove a point, more or less)…it’s mostly that while they’re very powerful, they don’t have a huge amount of options. You basically have minions, Discord, or Spiteful Spirit, or going /Rt for spirits or healing. Maybe using Blood Magic for support. Well, I’m not a support player and I don’t like relying too heavily on secondary profession skills, so that knocked out most of my options. I mostly use a Spiteful Spirit/Curses build, but I find it to be less viable now for players, with the seven hero update. Things are dead before I finish casting half of the time. And minions I’ve never cared much for because it’s a playstyle I’ve always found to be too boring and passive.

So, basically, I was stuck – the one build I liked was too slow to really be worth playing, and as a result my poor lovely Necro was collecting dust.

I decided to change that recently, though, and started the search for something new that looked like it could be fun. Pain of Disenchantment looked like it could be a neat skill to make a build around, and it stayed in my preferred Curses line. Problem is, not everything you come across is going to be enchanted, and so it’s something that would only work part of the time. Order of the Vampire had potential…however, melee heroes really aren’t the best and so it’d have limited use. Ironically, the elite skill that interested me the most was a minion skill – Order of Undeath. It looked like it would require you to be a bit more active than simply “Stand back, cast Aura of the Lich, and watch a dozen minions appear”.

So I decided to give it a go! Over to PvX I went, and of course there was a build using it on there. Took that build and made some adjustments – both from necessity (I don’t have EBSoH on that character) and my own tastes (I prefer bone minions to bone fiends – quicker and easier to replace when necessary), and off I went. The base is pretty simple. Keep Masochism up at all times to boost Death Magic and Soul Reaping (DM should be at 18), raise minions as things die, keep them healed up with Blood of the Master, and as they attack, use Order of Undeath to increase the damage they do. I’m currently using the Healing Prayers variant (so much for me not liking support!) because it makes it easier for me to keep my minions up and going, as well as helps make up for the fact that I’m sacrificing/losing so much health so frequently.

Shizuka...less unamused.

Of course, like any minion build, it won’t work everywhere. If you don’t have bodies to raise minions from, you’re kind of screwed. You also have to be very careful to stay in the backline, because you’re going to have low HP most of the time (my base health running this is 496, thanks to the Superior Death Magic rune; at any given point in time I have about 2/3rds of that), though the Vampiric Horrors help with that. A hero with Protection Prayers is incredibly useful, but then again, when are they ever not? A good 40/40 Death Magic set is helpful though not 100% necessary – I’m currently using a 20/10 staff with an enchanting mod on it which works fine. You have to be careful on using Blood of the Master while Order of Undeath is up, for obvious reasons; too much sacrifice will kill you. And it requires you to pay more attention to the battle than most minion builds do. If your minions are attacking, you should have OoU active, and you should prioritize spamming that. If your minions are just standing there doing nothing (as they do on occasion), wait for them to start attacking before you cast.

I’m still adjusting things on my build a bit. I might try out some of the other variations that exist for it. But so far? I’m quite enjoying this. It’s a minion build I find fun. It’s proving to be pretty awesomely effective in battle. And I’m playing my Necromancer more, which is always nice. Sometimes, trying something new works out quite well! Which profession or build have you tried that surprised you in how much you enjoyed it?

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12 thoughts on “Minions, oh my!

  1. Actually, a couple professions have surprised me. I didn’t think I’d like playing a Mesmer at all, but once I got to level 20 and picked up a few elites I really started having fun. It’s my go-to character whenever I feel like taunting my enemies. “Oh, what’s that? You want to have energy to cast spells? Well, too bad for you! Have an Energy Surge instead, sucker.”

    The one that probably surprised me the most, though, was Warrior. I liked my Dervish, my main, because it had fun melee characteristics as well as magic capabilities. I’ve been playing him since the Nightfall preview event. So I thought I might be okay at being a Warrior because of the melee aspect, but I didn’t think it’d be *that* great. So I made one, got him to level 20. And holy crap, it was so much fun. No matter the weapon, there was always fun skills to beat up enemies with. And he was hard to kill; my heroes always rallied behind him. He quickly became my second-favorite character.

    Tl;dr – Mesmer and Warrior both surprised me with the amount of fun potential they had.

    • Mesmer was one that surprised me, too. I initially made one because my friend needed me to carry something to Post-Searing for him, and I was like “okay, why not”. I never really messed around with Mesmer before, but I decided I may as well stick with it and see how it goes. At first I just used Fast Casting to spam fire magic skills, but once I started getting some Mesmer elites and trying out proper builds I decided it was really, really awesome.

      Warrior I disliked and thought was boring until I tried running an axe build. That I find a ton of fun :D

      • Okay, you said you spent the most time on your Dervish, so as a Dervish main I’m curious: what kind of builds do you normally use on it? Call it professional interest. :)

        • Before the update, I mostly ran Zealous Vow. Post update I messed around with a few different builds before quickly settling into Vow of Strength/Sand Shards, with Staggering Force/Pious Assault/Reap Impurities for additional chaos :D Slap Splinter Weapon on a hero and man do the numbers fly.

      • Nice. :) Post update I usually use Ebon Dust Aura/Armor of Sanctity, to render martial opponents nigh-useless. Veil of Thorns to counter casters, and voila! I also like Onslaught/Grenth’s Aura/Grenth’s Fingers. I get to zoom around steal health! So much fun. And Mystic Twister gets used a lot thanks to Onslaught’s boost to adrenaline gain and attack speed. But mostly I stick with Earth Prayers. It’s handy having an Ebon scythe, haha.

  2. Personally I have a terrible time as MM, I just don’t protect my minions or heal them enough, even with multiple skills to do so. I just raise up more and more minions when they die and when I run out of bodies I’m screwed. Bad MM.

    I usually play SS.

    • Oh I’m terrible at protecting them. I was even worse before, I’d just get bored raising them and zone out and then be like “oh crap they’re all dead”. My first couple of attempts at running this kinda sucked because I kept forgetting to heal the damn things but I’m getting better at it.

      • My method is to mix undead with spirits and a PvE summon skill that way I always have something to add to the battle by way of summons. I also tend to ignore healing my minions with a flesh golem leading vampiric and normal horrors they can soak a great deal of damage. For areas without corpses I switch to a life transfer echo/curses/conditions build.

      • Ehh, I’m pretty against relying on secondary profession skills too much. They’re nice for flavor but they shouldn’t make up too much of your build, in my opinion. I leave the spirits to my Rit.

        I really don’t use conditions/degen much except for with my Mesmer, who runs Fevered Dreams; I find that degen caps out on damage far too quickly to be worth relying on.

  3. Pingback: necromancy limited | Tyrian Stories

  4. I tend to experiment a lot, so there have been a few, but one that really sticks in mind dates back to the Factions preview weekend.

    To set the context: I already had a Mesmer (who moonlighted as an Elementalist when I felt that way), a Warrior, and a Monk. I had little interest in the assassin at the time, and my guildies were trying out the necromancer and ritualist in the weekend already, so to bring some variety and avoid being redundant I decided to roll a ranger for the weekend.

    Now, in that preview weekend, there was a fairly limited set of elites available. You could cap more (if you found who to cap from) but IIRC the starting ranger elites you had were Broad Head Arrow, Archer’s Signet, and one other. Of these… possibly influenced by being a Mesmer primary – I took Broad Head thinking of it as the best of a bad lot.

    Now, that proved to be surprisingly satisfying on its own, watching that arrow launch into the air and, if it landed on target, making a spellcaster virtually helpless for the duration, but after a while one of my guildies recommended Needling Shot. I’d earlier disregarded it as being too low in damage (it did less damage than a regular bowshot then), but two things came (or were brought) to my attention – I was already using Read the Wind in the (later proved to be erroneous) belief that it helped speed up my broadheads, and Needling allowed for rapid application of /that/ damage. The two made for a nasty little combination – Broad Head to disable the most dangerous spellcaster, other attacks could wear them down, then a volley of Needling Shots could quickly finish them off.That more hits made it that much harder to cast through Daze only helped.

    Apart from some stints of setting traps at enemy’s feet and experiments in R/A dagger work, that was basically my ranger build throughout Factions and going back and completing Prophecies, and except in cases where it is obviously of little use, Broad Head Arrow has basically been stapled to the bar of my Ranger (who never upset my mesmer’s place as my primary, but was at times a serious contender) ever since, not to mention at least one ranger hero for all of my other characters. Sadly, Needling Shot has fallen off my bar due to refinements of my synergies with BHA – if BHA alone is scary it becomes much more dangerous when combined with Epidemic, which in turn gets more dangerous when other conditions are added to the mix… but in a final death knell for any preparation-based gameplay, when it gets really scary is when you combine BHA and Epidemic with Volley. And once you’ve got Volley, why not bring a ritualist hero along to make you a budget splinter barrager as well?

    Now, for all that, it’s still not one of those godly builds that will allow you to cakewalk elite areas, but it’s a fun, effective build nonetheless. And while most of my experiments have had clear objectives in mind (sometimes working out a specific combination, sometimes seeing if I can find a good use for an underused skill), this is one case of an enjoyable build that grew out of making the best use of what had appeared at first to be an unpromising selection of options. And of all the builds I’ve put together, while I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite out of all those in the game, despite the modifications I’ve made over the years it’s one where the basic concept behind it has survived much longer than most.

    • Haha, my Ranger is one I experimented with a lot, too. I’m currently running around with a small pet army (she and all of my Ranger heroes are running Beastmaster builds), but one of my favorite bow builds is Apply Poison + Burning Arrow + Epidemic. Or replace AP with Poison Tip Signet, add Volley in there, and give a hero Splinter Weapon.

      So much fun.

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