Phantasms and clones. Scepters and staffs. We surely are no longer in Kansas! This week I was kind enough to myself to let me fill in for myself as I write about the Mesmer profession. The conversation was a little like this:
“Hey, me, do you want to write the Mesmer column this week? All the other professions are swapping.”
“Sure, my friend, why not.”
“You realize it’s not a Warrior right?”
“Pfft, it’ll be fine, how different could it be!”
Well my friends, the Warrior and the Mesmer are as different as fish and birds but I have a lot to share as a result of my endeavors over the last beta weekend event (it feels so good to say that it was the last event!). Let’s dive in and see what it’s like switching sides and seeing how the other half play!
A Whole New World
First let me say that I didn’t touch any other professions this past weekend other than the Mesmer. I slept as a Mesmer; I ate as a Mesmer; my wife even gave me funny looks while I was on my Mesmer. I wanted to really dive in and experience what the world of Tyria was like from a non-Warrior point of view, and I feel like I had a great experience.
When I first zoned into the tutorial area for the sylvari, my first impression was, “This place is beautiful!” But we’re not here to talk about the sylvari. I played a little bit of the Mesmer back in the very first beta weekend and at that time, the character started off with a sword. In this current build of the game, you start off now with a scepter, and I’m thankful for the change.
When you play with a sword, you’re up close and in the action, and if you’ve played a melee class before, the tendency is to run in and start wailing away. We tend to not consider our life and limbs when we play as a Warrior, but as a Mesmer, playing in close could be a very short experience in melee range. Switching over to a scepter though teaches us as players to sit back and play a little safer. The scepter also introduces us to the concept of clones because of Ether Clone. This skill causes a clone to be created at the end of the first skill attack chain. It’s a great way of introducing the player to a core function of the class.
Getting through the starter area leveling was fast, but I quickly made a very odd observation. Clones do absolutely no damage. I mean zero. Zip. Nada. In fact it was a little frustrating to see that beautiful crit splatter effect only to have it overlaid with a big, fat, zero. Ouch. That’s not fun. At least not until you understand the purpose of clones.
My New Best Friend
Like all the classes, the the Mesmer has a set of function abilities that do a variety of things. On a Warrior I would use this skill to unleash my burst ability and unleash death upon my enemies! With a Mesmer though, there are options, and oh boy are there some options! These Shatter skills have a variety of effects depending on which one you choose to use. At first the options are Mind Wrack and Cry of Frustration, with the other two abilities being unlocked as you gain in level. When you look at those two skills, especially as a Warrior, it seems like the only one I’d ever want to use is Mind Wrack; after all, more damage means the enemy dies faster right? But if you are going to play a Mesmer, you have to learn that there are a lot of different ways in which to cause damage (more on that in the next section).
As I unlocked more skills and abilities I learned about Phantasms and the care you have to take with those little guys. Where the Clones are made to be a distraction and die quickly, the Phantasm is designed to be a powerhouse. The big guns. The skill you want to go to early and often. I’ve talked before about all the different ways that you can create these Illusions and each one has its place and role. Depending on what effect you are going for, you may end up with a very interesting set of weapons. In my case, I decided to go with a torch in my off-hand because it gave me Phantasmal Mage, which applies confusion.
I’m So Confused
Confusion is a very interesting condition, and one that is almost exclusive to the Mesmer (there are a couple other skills out there that will cause confusion, but we won’t worry about them). There have been some complaints that Confusion isn’t as good as some of the other conditions, like Bleeding, that just do their damage without the enemy having to do something. Personally, though, I really enjoyed Confusion.
How this condition works is this: whenever the enemy that has the condition on them uses a skill, they take damage as well. The concept is very simple, and at 5 stacks of Confusion I found that the damage output could be really good. There is something very satisfying about dodging out of the way of an enemy only to watch them commit suicide due to Confusion damage. With the scepter in hand, Confusing Images is the skill that will apply confusion, and when you pop Phantasmal Mage, you are looking at 8 stacks of Confusion on the target. That results in a lot of additional damage plus the damage that has already been done with the initial skill usage.
Not everything with the Mesmer was sunshine and unicorns though, as there are a few things that confused me. First, Mantras. As a Warrior, I look at my utility skills and think, for the most part, how is this skill going to help me dominate my enemy on the battlefield. Mantras, though, require some additional forethought and are not something that are very usable in the heat of battle. For example, I spent many levels using Mantra of Pain, which is a Mantra that you charge up and then can use in the middle of a fight to do instant damage. The problem I had though is that if I didn’t have the Mantra pre-cast so that it was ready to go, it was worthless. In order to prepare the skill, there is a three second cast time and then I have to press the button again in order to get the desired results. Three seconds in the middle of battle is a lot and most times, the enemy could be dead before you even get the skill ready.
What worked for me with these guys was pre-casting it while out of combat and then charging into the fight, then use the Mantra and finish the fight. Once the enemy is defeated, pre-cast the Mantra and start all over. It seems like a bit of a clunky mechanic, at least when it comes to doing straight damage. There are several different Mantras, though, that have varying effects, so picking the right one and having it ready could become a very key aspect of the Mesmer game play.
In the end, the only real measure, as ArenaNet has said, was it fun? Did I enjoy playing as a Mesmer? The answer is a resounding yes! While the class doesn’t have the straight damage output like the Warrior does, it has a very nice way of playing with the enemy: get them to kill themselves with Confusion, run in fear because of Chaos Storm or keep them guessing who is who with your army of Clones and Phantasms. I’ll most certainly be recreating my sylvari Mesmer on the 25th, and I look forward to many more adventures to come!