Hello again, Elementalists and Elementalist candidates! I am Tentral of the clan Omicron-Persei 8, and over the last couple months I’ve been writing the Elementalist column here at GWI. The Elementalist is a profession that does a little bit of everything well, almost to the point of performing as well as everyone else. What makes us better than almost everyone else is the idea that we can take any one of those things that we do well and become exceptional at it with very little sacrifice.
With launch just under a week away, I wanted to give an overview of the Elementalist profession, an Elementalist 101 of sorts. I’ll look at aspects of the class, including what roles Elementalists excel at in a group, what each of our weapons aim to accomplish and what certain trait lines do to augment our skills. This will be an old hat for you veteran Elementalists, but for someone who has yet to consider the Elementalist as a profession they’d like to play, the information could be game-changing!
An Elementalist’s Role is a Winner’s Role
Because Elementalists perform so well in any given role, it’s only fair that they should be bad at something, right? Well, besides the lack of a weapon slot (which is made up for with the addition of attunements as weapons) the Elementalist’s only flaw is that we are about as resilient as a paper machete doll modeled after my grandmother. While our Earth attunement gives us some survivability, we are definitely glass <insert role here>. That said, we do perform our other roles amazingly well. Honestly, I think the motto of the Elementalist should be “Jack of all trades, master of elements.”
We can take on 3 main roles as an Elementalist. These include a Support role, Area of Effect Damage, and Single-Target Damage dealer. As a Support Elementalist, we’ll spend most of our time in the Earth and Water attunements in an effort to distract foes, heal allies and apply various conditions to our enemies. This type of build is where the idea of a “Mage Tank” comes from for our purposes, and to a certain extent it’s true. We’re still much squishier than other professions, but we have short bursts of ludicrous survivability and toughness which is often enough to turn the tide in a battle. A support Elementalist cares about keeping his allies alive over killing his enemies, and anyone who plays one is a necessary commodity to a group entering a dungeon or sPvP zone.
When rolling a damage-dealer style of play, you’ll have to choose between Single-Target and Area of Effect builds. If you try to do both, you’re going to fail at both. The choice is forced on you too, because you do more damage to a single target than you do to groups and you’ll need to define those roles once you enter the harder content like dungeons. Both single-target and AoE Elementalists will spend most of their time in Fire and Air attunement for various damaging abilities, as well as a few escape mechanics for when situations get hairy.
Weapons for Every Occasion
Like Engineers, Elementalists do not have the ability to swap weapons. Also like Engineers, Elementalists possess a unique class-specific mechanic that makes up for it. Our mechanic is the attunement system. While most professions get 5 skills for any particular weapon set they equip, we get a whopping 20. There are 5 skills each for Fire, Water, Earth, and Air attunements respectively, and there are 3 main weapon sets, though you can mix up the off-hands a bit:
The Staff is an all-purpose weapon that has a knack for delivering fiery justice down upon groups of enemies. There’s a little bit of everything in here: some support, some defense, some condition-affliction and some damage. It’s mostly a tool for area of effect damage, though. The staff is an excellent weapon to start with while you learn the ropes, and an exceptional weapon to stick to after that.
Scepter/Focus is a combination of abilities that let’s you operate at a medium range while dealing either single-target or AoE damage. There are also a lot of defensive abilities, and notably there is at least one on every attunement. This is a fantastic set of weapons that takes the versatility of the Elementalist and pushes it even further than the staff does. If you need to do a little bit of everything, Scepter/Focus is the way to go.
While the Staff is long-range and the Scepter/Focus is medium range, Dual Daggers are a short-range, “In-your-face” weapon set which doubles as my absolute favorite set on the Elementalist. This works best as when built as a single-target Elementalist, but the effects are usually conal and hit enemies behind your target. Dual Daggers are all about the combos. The Fire attunement has you applying a burning effect on enemies, then detonating it for ludicrous damage. The Water attunement applies many stacks of Vulnerability, making all of your other abilities do more damage. It’s a great set!
The Traits of the Trade
With Elementalists, the traits are a little predictable in the naming-department, but their effects are awe-inspiring at times. Our trait lines include:
Fire Magic – Raw power and sustained damage are the bills of the day as far as passive stat gains go. The theme continues in the actual picked traits because most of them revolve around setting the target aflame as often as possible and maximizing the effects of burning.
Air Magic – With these traits, you’ll gain passive bonuses to burst damage through critical hits. Air Magic reinforces this bursty efficiency by making all of your Glyph skills better and faster. With Air Magic, our motto is: “Surprise! You’re dead!”
Earth Magic – Take our fragile form and toughen it up a bit. The chosen traits down this line focus on applying conditions to enemies while making the Elementalist a lot more survivable.
Water Magic – In addition to some survivability in keeping yourself alive, the Water Magic trait line encourages stretching this love out to your team as well. In addition to playing a more supporting role defensively, Water Magic also enhances your ability to apply harmful conditions to enemies
Arcana – This line of traits offers additional benefits to your overall play as an Elementalist. In addition to the general improvements offered here, spending a full 30 points in this tree reduces your Attunement’s recharge rate from 15 seconds down to about 6 seconds. Overall, the Arcana tree is about taking the fact that we’re good at everything and reinforcing that once more!
I hate to bore all you veterans with this basic information, but with launch so close I feel it necessary to introduce as many people as possible to the wonderful world of being an Elementalist. I hope that I inspired at least one person to roll an Elementalist, even as a secondary or tertiary character. All that I ask is that you play one up to level 10. Try out the staff and try out dual daggers. Being an Elementalist is much more than being “versatile.” You also need to be smart and quick to switch stances. Give it a shot! Until next time, I bid you all farewell!