This week, we take a closer look at the three healing skills that keep that red health orb of ours topped up. You can only pick one of them to sit in your sixth skill slot, and all of them keeps us chugging along on the path of kicking butt, but that’s where their similarities end.
Besides the vanilla heals, Necromancers also have access to more exotic life-stealing and vampiric abilities that return health as well. We’ll have a look at them as well.
Blood Fiend: Your best fiend for PvE, maybe
This floating bag of blood is probably the signature necro minion that distinguishes us from other bathrobe-wearing scholarly professions, besides our green lasers and generally gloomy demeanor.
Most newly-minted necros will have this minion out in low level zones, for good reason: it’s the first healing skill we’ve got. It has the shortest cooldown of our healing abilities; you can pop out a fresh Blood Fiend every 20 seconds or so.
As Sryii noted in his article on pets, the Blood Fiend actually does respectable DPS, more than the Bone Fiend in fact, while leeching life and transferring it to you. In a pinch, necros can sacrifice the minion for a larger dose of healing.
Now the problem with this, particularly in the chaos of PvP, is that the Blood Fiend may not actually be there when you need the heal most! Murphy’s Law dictates that the minion will be killed, intentionally or by stray fire, at the most inopportune of moments. The summoning time of the Blood Fiend also poses a problem, especially if you’re under pressure and need a heal like, five seconds ago. This limits the Blood Fiend to more controlled conditions, like PvE. Even then, you’d want to keep an eye out for the well-being of your blood bag.
Before you shelf this skill though, the Blood Fiend can be really handy for a wee bit of tanking and clearing paths. If you need to quickly traverse a zone somewhat densely populated with aggressive mobs, just pop your fiend out and run! Mobs in the vicinity will basically zerg the poor minion and forget about you momentarily, allowing you clear passage. This seems like a totally bad karma thing to do, you say. Well yes, that’s why they’re minions, and not pets. Make sure to practice your diabolical laughter while running past the mobs.
Consume Conditions: Feast on the tears of your foes
The second healing skill you’re mostly likely to get in your necro career is this sweet baby. Costing only one skill point, it’s an early must-buy for anyone getting into WvW action, because it will do what it does best every 25 seconds: save your life. Besides straight-up healing, Consume Conditions also wipes out all those pesky red condition icons on the right of your health orb. In fact the two components work off a nice synergy: the more conditions you clear, the more health you regain. This makes Consume Conditions an important member of our condition manipulation toolkit.
Savor its combo-licious potential with the Plague Signet. The signet turns us into pain sponges, passively soaking conditions up from our friends (we’re noble like that). We can either dump all the bad mojo on some unfortunate target by activating the signet, or just wipe the slate clean for additional healing goodness with Consume Conditions. The healing skill also works somewhat hand-in-hand with our Corruption skills, where we take on a condition in return for some nasty effect on foes. With Consume Conditions, we turn the downsides of these skills into a little bit healing advantage.
Well of Blood: Group hug time!
Our third healing skill has almost a carebear vibe to it. Drop it at your feet and the well dispenses healing love to yourself and friendlies in range. Well of Blood is also a “light” field, meaning that finisher moves by allies within its area of effect will create beneficial skill combos. Upgrade it with the Focused Rituals trait, and you can decide where to set it up (“ground targeted”) like any other area of effect spell. Other upgrade options include Ritual of Protection and Vampiric Rituals, that are in the Death and Blood Magic lines respectively.
Well of Blood is obviously most useful in a group scenario. Its initial payload and subsequent regeneration over 10 seconds also makes it the biggest self-heal among our three skills. This works well if the necromancer isn’t in a hurry to go anywhere else, like when he or she is defending a capture point, for example.
An interesting side-effect: enemies will try to dodge out of field even if it’s harmless to them. For players who are still unfamiliar with necromancers, our wells all look pretty nasty – all black-green gunk with glowy glyphs in the middle. Milk this effect for what it’s worth now, before they wise up!
Some necros argue that Well of Blood is a better choice for the healing slot than Consume Conditions, since we have a host of other options to remove conditions. Some of the more significant ones include the Plague Signet mentioned above, Deathly Swarm (with off-hand dagger) and Well of Power.
It all really depends on your playstyle, and whether you can capitalize on the larger, but more situational benefits of Well of Blood. I’d say that Consume Conditions is probably the more forgiving option with its 25-second cooldown, compared to Well of Blood’s 40 seconds.
Life-steal sucks like a vampire
The two key abilities that steal life are Life Siphon with the dagger main-hand, and the Locust Signet. Technically, the Blood Fiend also steals life to get a minor regeneration effect going on. But as I’ve pointed out earlier, most PvE necros run it because it’s probably the only healing skill they have at the moment, or for clearing the way.
Life-steal is supported by a bunch of vampiric traits in our Blood Magic line, triggering life-steal off hits, crits, minions and even wells.
Unfortunately, various anecdotes suggest that life-steal simply isn’t hearty enough to keep necromancers alive, even when fully fortified up with traits. We’re still falling back on Death Shroud and normal heals to keep going, tools that are far better exploited in other builds.
Maybe ArenaNet has made Death Shroud too good. There are far more avenues to regain Life Force than health at the moment, which is odd, considering that life-steal and vampirism are also core flavor mechanics of the Necromancer.
Have you found better luck with vampiremancer builds? Which healing skill do you keep on your bar all the time?