There are a few professions in the game that take advantage of using others as a means to an end. For the Rangers, they have their pets, and Necromancers have their minions. For the Mesmer, we have Illusions to play with.
These useful clones are all about adding to our damage output, giving a lot of utility via shatters and unique skills, or just messing with the enemies head as we keep them guessing which one is really us. There are several ways of getting this army of sparkling butterflies going and today we are going to see what skills give us the tools we need to keep the enemy wondering.
These illusions are broken down into two different types: Clones and Phantasms. The clones are the most basic of the Mesmer’s illusions – they look exactly like the caster, have the same name, and use some of the same skills as the weapon you are wielding (usually the first skill on the weapon). Phantasms, on the other hand, are a pale reflection of the caster; because of the additional power they have they are made easier to see so that other players can quickly identify them and know to run in fear! These creations have unique skills and abilities that they will employ and we’ll discuss those more in detail below. For now, let’s take a look a the skills that grant us clones because just producing the illusion is not always what happens.
Wielding a greatsword is a special treat for us because it’s a weapon traditionally designed for the martial professions, but that’s not the case in this new world and the Mesmer makes special use of the weapon to channel laser-beams, and cause the ground to erupt in a spray of purple death. When it comes to making clones though Mirror Blade is the skill that will do so. This is an interesting skill because what it does is cause the greatsword to bounce around between the enemies in the area to deal them damage, but it also gives Might to any allies that are in range as well. Once the greatsword has done it’s work, it will create a clone at the location of the final target that it hits. This can be very nice useful if you want to shatter it right away since it’s nice and close to the target.
Generally speaking, the staff has a wide range of Area-of-Effect type skills and when you have a lot of stuff to hit, you want a clone that is going to help you out in that regard. Phase Retreat creates a clone and then randomly switches places with it. As a defensive skill, it’s nice to keep the enemy guessing, and as for offense, well, the clone is going to cast Winds of Chaos so there will be plenty of purple death orbs flying around. This one is an all-around package and there is really no disadvantage to using it.
If greatsword or staff isn’t really your style, then let me suggest giving the scepter a whirl, because there are two skills here that can grant you clones: Ether Clone and Illusionary Counter. Ether clone is the third attack of the chain attack for the scepter. As you are naturally going about your day, slaughtering rabbits and moa aplenty, every time the chain gets to Ether Clone you will gain a nice pretty reflection of yourself that will start to cast Ether Bolt. This one is a no muss, no fuss, ability that just happens – no additional thought or planning really required here. Now Illusionary Counter, this one you’ll want to really pay attention to – pull this out when you see that big bad guy winding up for a massive strike and you will be guaranteed to block that attack. When you make the block, you will cause a clone to pop into existence that will also cast Ether Bolt. With the scepter, there is a lot of potential for massive amounts of clones, so be sure to make the most of the shatters. Clones are made to be short term distractions that give a little extra oomph, but they are basically fodder.
In the original Guild Wars, there was a particular PvP build that focused on using a sword to get in close and deal massive amounts of damage and really shut down your opponent. The sword in GW2 is a bit different and offers some unique utility and gives us a means of jumping into combat quickly. Illusionary Leap creates a clone that jumps immediately to your target and starts attacking. If you don’t want the clone to have all the fun, you can use Swap, which will switch places with you and your clone so you can get in close and take charge. An additional benefit to this skill is that the clone causes the Cripple condition, so the enemy is going to have a hard time getting away. In the offhand the sword gets Illusionary Riposte, which works exactly like Illusionary Counter.
There are two utility skills that also create clones and they are very much designed to instill confusion in anyone you are fighting so that it makes it difficult to tell who is who. Decoy causes you to gain stealth for a short time and creates a clone which will attack your foe; this is a perfect escape move when you need a little more time for your heal to come off cool down, or to just run away while the enemy is distracted. While Decoy is more defensive, Mirror Image plays a key offensive role. This skill summons two clones right away, which is a great way of setting up for a shatter.
Phantasms are in many ways the big brother/sister to clones in that they hit a lot harder and have quite a bit more life as well. These creations also have unique skills and abilities that they use so it makes for some very dynamic gameplay. With a greatsword in hand, you have access to Phantasmal Berserker which acts a lot like a Warrior with a greatsword. This phantasm will use a skill similar to Whirlwind Attack which does AoE damage to any enemies in its way.
With the staff, you gain Illusionary Warlock. This skill creates a phantasm that will cause more damage the more conditions are on the target, and since the staff is all about the condition damage, this has a lot of potential. Just about everything with the staff is going to be placing random conditions, and once you see a good enough stack going, bring out the phantasm to help finish the fight.
For the offhand sword, we get an interesting phantasm that may, or may not, actually be worth it. When you use Illusionary Swordsman you create a phantasm that will leap at your target and start attacking. That’s all fine and well, and is a lot like the clone ability Illusionary Leap; however, the phantasm doesn’t cause Cripple. Not only that but you will not have the ability to swap places with the illusion so if you need more utility you may want to look elsewhere, but the DPS gain can be very nice.
There are a lot of skills that create phantasms when used in the offhand, which means that there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of these fine fellows. With the focus we have Illusionary Warden, which creates a protective bubble that defends against projectiles. Use this against any ranged class (PvE or PvP) to help reduce the incoming damage – remember, Mesmer’s are a light armor class!
The noisy one of the bunch is the Illusionary Duelist, which creates something like a Thief phantasm that uses Unload. Unlike the Thief though, you don’t get that lovely gun sound; rather, you get the sound of PEW PEW PEW lasers. All that aside, this is a very nice phantasm to have that will put out a good amount of damage in a short time. Use it and profit!
Illusionary Mage is what you get when you use a torch, and this one does a bit of double duty (stay with me now). On enemies, this phantasm is going to cause the Confusion condition. Confusion is an interesting condition… but one we’ll discuss another day. The other benefit of this phantasm is that it gives the Retaliation boon to allies. So if that pesky Ranger is trying to ruin your fun, this phantasm will make them take damage on each of their attacks, and then additional damage from Retaliation. It’s really a win-win.
For utility, there are two skills which can grant phantasms. Phantasmal Disenchanter works a little like a mage, but in reverse – it removes conditions from allies and it removes boons from enemies. This can be very useful when a boss starts giving itself boons like Regeneration, which are just a royal pain. The other utility skill is Phantasmal Defender, which causes the phantasm to redirect 50% of the damage you take to itself. Consider it the pocket tank that is going to make sure you stay alive just that little bit longer.
One thing that should be noted is that when something dies in the area, all of your illusions will disappear as well. This can be a bit frustrating because if you mistime summoning an illusion, it could be wasted by something going down. Thankfully, they are designed to be constantly used up – just try to make sure that it’s the clones that are wasted, and not the phantasms.
Overall, the gameplay for the Mesmer is a lot of fun, and the illusions provide a very unique mechanic for the profession. There are several traits that also affect illusions, but we’ll save that for another discussion. Until next time, be sure to hit up our forums and share your thoughts on the illusions and how you’ve incorporated them into your gameplay experience!