Each class has a core mechanic that they need to manage, and that helps give them that little bit extra in terms of gameplay. Warriors have their burst skill, Elementalists have their attunements, Necromancers get Death Shroud and Mesmers get shatters.
The shatter mechanic is used to provide a variety of effects either on the Mesmer directly or on the target assigned to the Illusion being shattered (more on that in a minute). From my experience so far, you’ll want to use shatters early and often, so it’s important to understand what each one does.
Before we talk about the shatters directly, lets discuss how the mechanic works. As you’re out fighting various mobs in the world, you’ll find that certain skills produce Clones and Phantasms. The Phantasms are designed to be the big hitters, the ones that are there to cause damage and force the opponent to take care of it quick or suffer the consequences. Clones, on the other hand, are cannon fodder – they can be generated relatively quickly, do no damage, and really are there only to power the Shatters. Point is, try not to use shatters with Phantasms unless they are about to die.
The first shatter skill that all Mesmers will start with is Mind Wrack. This skill is very simple, in that it does straight damage to the target and that damage is based off the weapon that you currently have equipped. In theory, the better the weapon you have, the more damage that this shatter will do (per the wiki), so as you level, try and stay with the best weapon you can find to make the most of this one. It also does more damage for each illusion that you have out; originally, this was a multiplying effect, in that the damage was far greater if you had all three illusions out. In the last BWE and stress test though, the damage was the same for each active illusion. So if one illusion did 1,000 damage, shattering all three does 3,000 damage. Nice and simple.
Straight damage is nice, but as we know there are a lot of ways to deal damage, and Mind Wrack does have a cooldown so it’s not always available. Cry of Frustration is the next shatter in line, and this one makes use of the (almost) Mesmer-specific condition: Confusion. I’m personally a big fan of Confusion, because it punishes the enemy, whether it be in PvE or PvP, for trying to do you harm. In PvE, the monsters have no choice, they are just going to attack because that’s how they’re wired, and in PvP, the urge to continue attacking is just too great for many people. When you shatter with Cry of Frustration, it’s also an AoE, so it will apply Confusion to any enemy within its range.
Third on the ole shatter bar is Diversion, which is situational, but very nice when used properly. When used, this will cause your target to become dazed, which interrupts whatever they were doing and locks them out for a period of time. Sadly though, at the time of this writing, the daze doesn’t stack in duration, so it only lasts one second. Even so being able to interrupt the enemy and take away their ability to function for even that one second could make or break the situation. Unless this changes, use Diversion with just one clone out so you don’t waste any more clones than you need to.
The last of the shatter skills is the most defensive tool available, Distortion. When you use this skill, you get a “Get out of Jail Free” card; for each illusion active, you’ll gain one second of the Distortion effect, which causes you to be immune to all damage. It’s similar in effect to the sword skill Blurred Frenzy, in that you will avoid all incoming damage regardless of the source. So when you see that warrior charging in to hit you with Hundred Blades, hit Distortion and all that damage will show as “Invulnerable”. Good times.
If you want to augment your shatters, there are a few traits that will do so. Some of the effects make your shatters do other things in addition to their original effects. For example, Rending Shatters causes eight seconds of vulnerability when you use a shatter, doesn’t matter which one. If you are going up against an enemy that likes to use boons, like those pesky skales and their regeneration, maybe put on Shattered Concentration to have a means of removing that boon. Other traits allow you to heal a little bit, remove conditions or grant Vigor to allies. Some traits let all of your shatters cause confusion, which, if you plan on making the most of confusion, you’ll want to consider.
There is a lot to consider when playing a Mesmer, and being about to control the battle is key to your survival. Whether you choose to do that by giving out more damage or taking less damage, the choice is up to you. As we finally get into the game and have an extended period of time to learn, adapt and develop, you’ll want to make steady use of your shatters to help you along the way. Skillful play is the name of the game. Just two more weeks, friends!