I was perusing the various traits of the Necromancer recently – shut up, that is an extremely masculine way to word looking at stuff. At any rate, I noticed this little trait call Spectral Mastery, which reduces spectral recharge rates, and I immediately thought to myself, “what the heck is a spectral skill? What is this mysterious set of abilities that are apparently linked to this trait?”
Join me on the journey the journey to explore this colorful set of skills… what do you mean that doesn’t make any sense? That is the definition of the word… Wait it means Ghosts?! I suppose that would make more sense being a Necromancer and all. Forget it, banish that last bit from your memory and catch the rest of the breakdown after the break.
Oh yes my Necromantically inclined, death-loving Brothers and Sisters, we do have a penchant for all things dead. Its not enough that we tap directly into the presence of Death itself using the very Life Force of the people we’ve been killing to summon the power to finish them off. It certainly isn’t enough to re-assemble the parts of the dearly departed into a grim amalgamation that does our bidding. Nope, not even close. We get to talk to ghosts! Ok, talking is probably some secondary perk I haven’t gotten to figure out yet but we do get to tap into the Ghastly realm and pluck some of the coolest skills in the game, but are they the most useful? Well lets start out with any PvPer’s favorite Spectral Armor.
Spectral Armor is a one two punch to enemies. It grants you Protection, a 33% reduction to ALL incoming damage, and any damage you do take is converted into Life Force! Don’t freak out… No, seriously, calm down. It doesn’t give you 3% Life Force as a maximum. That is just the wonkiness of the tooltip. I can attest it gives you much more than 3%. In fact, through exhaustive testing, I was able to get the Life Force generation to 20%. How did I do this you ask? Lets say I had a little run in with Svanir in the Heart of the Mists. Yeah, it didn’t work out so well for me, which brings me to another key point. Don’t think that Spectral Armor makes you invincible, because it doesn’t. When I said 20%, that was me standing in front of Svanir, smacking him in the face with an Axe and seeing what happens. What happened was my rather rapid demise before the Spectral Armor wore off. Reader be warned!
What is it good for, you ask in a condescending tone that grates on my very soul. Well I’ll tell you, you unappreciative ingrate. It provides you with an amazing setup to quickly fill up your Life Force bar. It effectively triples your health for 8 seconds, making it a great “Oh no I’m gonna die, smash my keyboard in hopes of surviving” button-mashing extravaganza. A better use of it is mid-engagement, when you are around 70% health. You want to be in a good position to get into Death Shroud and almost any engagement with an enemy player or NPC will almost insure the likelihood of you taking damage and in turn getting Life Force.
Spectral Grasp is a skill I wholeheartedly support for sPvP. It is so useful in many different situations. The skill not only grabs people and yanks them back to you, but it also applies a rather nasty Chill that lasts 4 seconds, one of the longest in the game. I’m sure you’ve noticed how all your “new friends” eventually run away from you in horror. This will conveniently bring them back to play until they get all worn out and have to take a little nap. It is also a great way to pull people OFF of a control point so they will cease all that nasty capturing! It also is rather disorientating to enemies.
The next skill lets you take a little walk into the dark side. Spectral Walk lets you run around for a short time (exciting I know) with a spectral trail following you and, after it ends, you return to where you started by zooming back through what I can only assume is the realm of ghosts. Its like a slightly more entertaining treadmill. Why in the world would you use this useless trait you ask? First off, you ignorant little welp, it is far from useless and, secondly, I’m going to duck tape your mouth shut for the rest of the article so I don’t have to listen to your condescending tone.
Spectral Walk is very useful mostly due to its ability to grant you 30 sec of swiftness. Yes, you read that correctly. It makes you ridiculously fast for a VERY long time. This is great for running away from enemies, particularly when it is a 1-v-2 or -3 scenario on a capture point. Pop this and make a run for it, preferably around a bunch of corners. 10 seconds later, you will mysteriously disappear, making the ravenous horde continue on in their bloodlust for you or give you valuable seconds to recapture the point or make a run for it in another direction.
BUT WAIT! It gets even better. You can sever this bond to the start location and continue on in case it is less than optimal to return to where you left from. This comes at a slight cost of Vulnerability, so be warned if you plan on using Spectral Walk as a speed boost to get to a control point at the start of a match.
Finally, we arrive at a skill that literally makes a wall that breaches the line between life and death: Spectral Wall. You create a line on the ground, much like the Line of Warding Guradian’s use all the time, except its green and you know… enemies can totally walk across it. Fine, its nothing like Low except that it looks like a wall. Jeez, you are picky.
Spectral Wall buffs allies crossing it with Protection and inflicts 3 stacks of Vulnerability for 10 seconds on enemies. The downside to this is you actually have to get people to run through it. It is great at choke points like the stairway for the Keep in Niflhel, but enemies can always wait it out if they are smart. This also creates a slight disadvantage for you, because casting it away from yourself prevents you from crossing the wall and getting the boon. What to do? Place it directly in the center of a control point and run around in circles! In all reality, this doesn’t make this spell very attractive. It makes up for this by being the only spectral skill that can be one of the cross-class combos. I can’t personally say from experience what any combos do but I will point you over to GW2DB.com, which has a rather nice list of them. If all of them are useable, it makes this skill quite a bit more useful. Particularly if you are looking at the Confusion you can get from projectiles.
There are two traits that modify the Spectral skills. The first is the most straight-forward and by far the most useful: Spectral Mastery. It reduces the recharge rate by a whopping 20%. Delicious skill that I can use more often? Sounds like a deal to me. For me, a faster Spectral Armor is always useful. Well, the only downside is that this major trait is located in the Soul Reaping trait line, which means you have to cut into your Death Shroud-specific traits. The reductions are:
- Spectral Armor recharges at 72 sec (down from 90)
- Spectral Grasp recharges at 32 sec (down from 40)
- Spectral Walk recharges at 48 sec (down from 60)
- Spectral Wall recharges at 36 sec (down from 45)
The other Major Trait is Spectral Attunement, which causes all spectral abilities to last longer. How much longer you ask? Great question, no clue. Seriously, their tooltips could be slightly more explanatory. Does this lasting longer apply to things like boon or condition duration? Who knows, but if it does, it has some very useful possibilities for things like Spectral Grasp and definitely for the swiftness boon for Spectral Walk. Why ArenaNet, WHY? I guess I will have to do a little more testing during the next Beta Weekend.
Our love affair with all things dead extends even into the ghostly realm with our spectral abilities. They provide us with speed, protection, and all around death dealing awesomeness. If only we could get a little ghost to follow us around and slaughter our foes… that would make our world perfect. For now, I’ll have to settle for my little Shadow Fiend. I call him Casper.