Every class gets a special mechanic associated with its profession. Warriors purposefully abuse their endocrine system, Elementalists gain a crippling inability to decide which Planeteer they like the best, and Mesmer abilities sound like a warning against sniffing glue. Necromancers gain the mighty veil of darkness, a fear inducing specter of death, otherwise known as Death Shroud. However, this moment of awesomeness is brief and your access to these skills is limited, which means new Necromancers tend forget it’s there – especially its most lethal ability Life Blast.
Life Blast is perhaps one of the most interesting spells in our toolkit. It does more damage based on how much Life Force you currently have. It also has a cast time, so just using it burns Life Force. This state is supposed to be a major mechanic for the Necromancer but it’s often forgotten. I think part of this issue is people don’t know how awesome Life Blast is and what it can do for you. You have only a few precious moments in Death Shroud and people tend to smash all the buttons down without thinking about what’s going on.
So I will break down all the delicious death dealing aspects of Life Blast as well as the powerful bonuses it can grant you.
What Does Life Blast Do?
It kills stuff. No really, don’t look at me like that. That was a perfectly valid description!
Life Blast hits like a truck. Even at the lowest levels of Life Force, you can hit in the 300-500 damage range. At maximum Life Force, I have seen it hit well over 1,000. It also has a fairly decent range too – 900 units – which is roughly the same as the scepter skills.
In early leveling you may have noticed that stuff tends to die really fast when you give it a tap with a Life Blast. It does a very significant portion of your damage while you are still leveling. You may be saying to yourself right now, “Ugh, that’s cool but it doesn’t really do anything else or even look really cool.” While this comment is whiny and annoying, you aren’t completely off the mark. Life Blast doesn’t have the flair or usefulness of Earth Shaker for the Warrior. Death Shroud as a whole looks intimidating and cool and your other skills in this state are more useful. All that aside, I think Life Blast could do more. A burn, a bleed, a poison something! Sadly, ArenaNet doesn’t see it that way, and most likely the skill will not be changed anytime soon, but a Necromancer can dream right?
Modifying Life Blast
While Life Blast is a bit lack luster, aside from the whole massive damage bit, you can gain some very potent bonuses from it and make it more available to you. The best thing you can do for Life Blast is have maximum full Life Force up-time. This gives you more damage, but it also will give you more time to use it since you need Life Force to enter Death Shroud so you can USE the skill Life Blast. In general, all weapons will generate Life Force under certain conditions but at different rates. I could, and probably will, talk about Life Force generation all day – but I won’t do it here. Instead, I will keep it brief with some highlights.
Go with the Axe, or the Scepter, which will generally give you a rapid Life Force generation. As for traits, Gluttony, the adept minor trait in Spite, will fill up Life Force faster. You also want to slow down how much Life Force is consumed while in Death Shroud, and Vital Persistence will allow you to stay in that state longer and let you blast away longer too! The Spite Trait Line will grant you Hunger, which in turn increases your Life Force pool by a whopping 30%. More damage, more time, more awesome.
What can Life Blast do for you? Great question. You can get Life Blast to Pierce by investing in Unyielding Blast. A Piercing Blast will allow you to hit multiple enemies for the entire distance your Life Blast travels. This does have some limited PvP applications, but in a PvE setting you can rack up massive damage. Reaper’s Might will grant might for 15 seconds, which is the equivalent of 35 power. I am not sure if this stacks, but I intend to find out next chance I get.
The Wrap Up
Death Shroud isn’t just limited to the powerful Life Blast, it just happens to be the first thing you tap when you are enveloped by darkness. It is a major component of a powerful tool in the Necromancer skill set, and you should play around with its full potential. Head out into the mists and slaughter a few target Golems to charge up your Life Force and kill a few more to get a good feel for Life Blast. When you’ve mastered its usage, it will make you a powerful foe in every aspect of the game.
As a little bonus I found some rather lovely footage of some great Life Blast usage from NickNackNick.