Launch is just a few days away! If you’re still in a quandary over which profession to pick, BOTH of our Necromancer columnists, Vims and Sryii (with his comments in italics), will do their darndest to swing you over to their side.
Necromancers are a misunderstood lot.
Sryii: Apparently people are taken off guard by the whole “collecting dead parts to make hideous monsters” thing going on with necros.
Yeah, we’re dark and scary that way. But we are really your best friends. Need to stall your foes? Control a point? Soften up foes? Just add a Necromancer – or two – to your group. We are no shock troopers, but we’re masters of attrition warfare. We don’t do loud and flashy (see Elementalists for circus tricks) – we juggle debilitating conditions and blur the line between life and death with understated menace.
The key “gimmick” that sets us apart from other professions is Death Shroud. It’s our own F1 modal ability powered by Life Force. In shroud form, we get four nifty abilities and the Life Force bar becomes a shield for our actual health orb. Besides giving Necros incredible durability, Death Shroud can also be customised through traits to trigger effects like vulnerability on foes standing too close to our awesomeness, or evento heal your teammates!
Sryii: I know what you are all thinking, why would we want to save others when we can just bring them back as Flesh Golems? I’m still figuring this out myself, but I’m told it’s the social convention to keep your team alive.
Sryii: But we’re far cooler. I mean, seriously, those guys are like the hall monitors and AV club of Tyria.
We may seem lacking in Control skills that throw people around, but I’d argue that our profession is Control personified, at least from a group perspective. Necromancers can effectively control enemy movement by doggedly holding a capture point or impeding advancing forces. With our Marks and Wells, we literally “sweeten” the ground we walk on for essential tasks like point defense.
Sryii: Don’t have any control skill that throws people about?! I believe you have forgotten about the giant specter of FREAKING DEATH we can turn into that can put a massive vulnerability on multiple enemies while sicking a horde of tiny terrors on them, not to mention launching foes backwards with a frosty blast of air!
Necros are really great at dps, reasonably good at support, but in general need a little love in terms of control. We can certainly take quite a beating with Spectral Armor and Death Shroud, but we need more ability to control mobs – like our Spectral Grasp. Now this is an amazing ability, in my opinion far better than a knockback. Suck on that, Guardians.
Tools of the trade
Necromancers have four main-hand and three off-hand weapons, which works out to 10 different weapon load-outs. It’s nowhere near the 19 sets available to the Warrior, for example, but don’t forget that we’ve got Death Shroud to play with.
The standout sets from our 10 are axe/warhorn, scepter/dagger and the two-handed staff. The axe/warhorn combo is our short to mid-range solution, and works well with builds that focus on dishing out direct damage.
The mid-range scepter/dagger set is obviously tailored for condition builds. Besides piling conditions on foes, we can transfer, spread and eat them for breakfast. For many players, this is the profession-defining set.
The staff is our death-from-above weapon. It gives us long-range Marks, great for layering on high-traffic areas from elevated positions, like a keep in WvW, while we laugh diabolically at the stumbling invaders and munch on a win-burger.
Sryii: Vims has the best description of our weapons in his articles, but they are long. For those of us with ADD, here is my rundown on weapons.
Staff: It’s like the best of all of our spells with a really long cast time and the requirement that the enemy stands on the targeted area.. WHY?! So mean, ArenaNet!
Scepter: It’s like the plague and the cure, all in one. No really, it is.
Axe: This is the Rambo of our weapon set. The only thing that could make it better is . ..wait for it . . . TWO axes!
Dagger: This weapon says you’re the kind of guy who brings a knife to a gunfight. As in, you like making things especially difficult for yourself for no apparent reason.
Warhorn: Imagine that it is like a magical air horn that incapacitates people when you blow it in their faces and has the added benefit of calling down a plague of insects to do your bidding
Focus: Uhm. . . it’s a little like a gun but without any bullets. Boy that is a horrible comparison. It’s like a PAINTBALL gun. It doesn’t kill the enemy but degrades them by making them pink and limp along when you shoot them in the inner thigh like a huge jerk… you people know who you are.
Build your own Necro
Our trait lines may seem overwhelming to the uninitiated, but it all becomes clearer when we think of them in terms of how you want to wage war.
Sryii: Just pick any of them that increase damage. MORE DEATH, PLEASE!
Right. Going for in-your-face damage and big crits, while maintaining some tankiness with Death Shroud? You’ll want to look at Spite (for base damage and the lovely Axe Training), Soul Reaping (for critical damage and funky Death Shroud abilities) and Curses (for critical chance).
Focusing on conditions? Your answers lie in Curses (for condition damage) and Spite (to make conditions last longer).
Want to put some distance between yourself and the unwashed masses, and let your minions do your dirty deeds? The Death Magic line offers buffs for both long-range staff abilities and critters.
The Blood Magic line is the dagger-wielders’ bag of tricks for added durability and life-stealing shenanigans.
Sryii: By shenanigans, you really mean the necro lying in a pool of his or her own blood in almost every situation.
Haha, yeah. Let’s just say that life-stealing isn’t very reliable at the moment.
Shine like a death star
Sryii: In sPvP, we are the bringers of death and stalling. Okay, that last part was way less impressive sounding, “Fear me for I shall STALL you! WOooOOoo. . . why aren’t you running?”
We can seriously prevent a point from being captured for a very long time. In sPvP, we have a lot of options, but a major component is our Death Shroud. It serves like a secondary health shield, gives us a quick fear to interrupt, a powerful health stealing ability and a pretty powerful main attack in the form of Life Blast.
In WvW, Necromancers are amazing at laying down marks to prevent enemies from standing in certain areas as well as generating powerful combos at long range. We can also travel very long distances by ourselves with our very long swiftness boon from Spectral Walk and a wide array of chilling conditions, making us excellent scouts or resource mules (that sounds wrong…)
While we can take good care of ourselves if operating alone, I don’t see Necromancers as solo hunter-killers in PvP, as we lack the tools to take down opponents quickly.
We’re better off working with others in marauding bands and strike teams. Having said that, necromancers do work well as an occupying force. Need to make sure a hard-fought point doesn’t fall back to enemy hands? Drop a necro on it.
Sryii: “No, not a dead one, you fool!”
Yes, preferably a live necro. And our abilities translate similarly to PvE! We solo well because we’re so hardy, and we’re an offensive support asset to any group we join.
Keeping our day job
I don’t know about crafting. We’re all like heroes out to save the world and smash face, and here we are collecting cloth scraps to make our own PJs. I mean, did Batman sew his own cape? I bet Tony Stark only designed his suit, and conveniently left production to his industrial/military complex.
Ok, Spiderman did make his own suit, but look what he came up with:
Obviously, Andrew Garfield was the more accomplished tailor. But I digress. I’d imagine Necromancers would do well getting into Tailoring and Artificing. Jeweler and Chef may also be viable options, depending on the needs of your guild.
Sryii: Yes! Tailoring, the profession for gentlemen and scholars! Not only will you make a load of equipment that you can readily use, but you will also be making bags, which helps in furthering room for your crafting materials as well as for making money on the Trading Post.
The other crafting discipline you can have active at the same time is a bit difficult to nail down. Artificer will give you access to crafting warhorns, foci, staffs, and scepters, all of which you use, but also neat little potions like this little guy for when you absolutely, positively, unquestionably HAVE to kill that centaur.
Other great options include cooking, but it is a bit of a money sink in the beginning. However, it does give you buff food and, seriously, who wants to be the bringer of death on an empty stomach?
Annnd … that wraps up our guide. We hope you do the right thing: roll a Necromancer!