A Mesmerizing View
A Layman's Guide to Mesmers
There's been a lot of discussion as of late with regards to the mesmer profession as far its role and mechanics. My hope is to provide just a simple summary of what to expect out of gameplay both in pvp and pve. Here's just some random thoughts I've learned along the way.
(By way of disclaimer my mesmer at the time of this writing is just hitting 30 but my main in GW1 was a mesmer that I played as a shutdown setup/monk destroyer in pvp.)
Phantasms, Clones and Combat, Oh My!
The very first misconception many have when it comes to the mesmer clone/phantasms is that they are similar to ranger pets. They are not. Consider them as expendable gimmicks that have a very short timetable of effectiveness. So don't get attached to them and give them names. They die as soon as your target does. No worries though summon another. In fact you can summon clones on up to 3 different mobs at once. And if that one dies find another and strap a red shirt on them.
Here's a little tip that I have seen so far that might help as well. If I target a mob and send in a clone at that clones demise the mob will come after me. However if a clone is out and face pulls a mob, aggro does not transfer over to me unless I engage through a heal, dot, etc.. The mob will actually reset. (Only exception I've seen to this is Phantom Defender or Enchanter which are tied to me through shared damage or condition cleansing as per their roles.)
The second misconception that people have is that you should hold off shattering until the right moment. Such as one would with a trinket or other rare skill that has a cooldown. My friend, learn to shatter and shatter often. It's true that some timing is required. Such as waiting between cooldowns to summon or waiting til they are on the target. But for the most part shattering is a key mechanic in our class and needs to be exercised frequently. Shattering does straight damage, less damage with confusion condition, dazes and grants you distortion (basically evade). So there is a lot of benefits to lose if you don't shatter your clones.
Learn the Dance
Prior in other MMOs it was possible to simply stay in one play, dodge puddles and stick with one weapon setup. There are many that are trying to do the same with the professions in GW2. To do so greatly limits you as a mesmer. So a couple of tips:
Don't be afraid to switch weapons multiple times in a fight. So abilities like Chaos Field(Staff) can give decent boons to your clones.
Know your cooldowns on your weapons. I'm still learning this. There is a cooldown on weapon swaps but done correctly you can cycle through clones/phantasms consistently in the middle of fight.
MOVE. That's right. Pretend there are puddles everywhere. If you stand still as a mesmer you're going to be dead. Can be said for most classes as well but with lighter armor and shorter health pools it's essential for us.
You're Not Fooling Anyone
Let's face the facts. Anyone with a walnut for a brain in PvP will recognize the difference between you and your clone in a small skirmish. You move spontaneously compared to your clone's automated steps for example. However that's not really the point. The great part of this mechinic especially with such abilities as Decoy (Trained) or Feigned Escape (Staff) is that it forces a target drop. Meaning that for the next second or two they have to find you through tab targeting or clicking. That may not seem like much but I confess there have been times some of my big burst has gone onto a clone just because they timed their switch well. Plus a second or two can mean getting a Ether Feast off in time or not. So don't think camouflage, think misdirection. It's all smoke and mirrors after all.
You Said What?
Lastly just a word on condition and confusion. As a mesmer a lot of our damage is condition based. Everything from burning, bleeding, vulnerability and the most maligned confusion.
What is confusion? To quote the wiki:
25 + 0.5 * Level + 0.075 *
Condition Damageper stack per skill use
Characters suffering from confusion can be identified by twirling, purple tinted spiral over their heads. Additionally, the same effect will appear alongside damage dealt by confusion when using a skill.
So every time your target uses a skill they take damage. Easy enough right? And contrary to popular thought confusion works both in PvE and PvP.
So it's possible, when properly traited, a mesmer with 3 clones/phantasms shattered can apply 4-5 stacks of confusion. So in essence for the next 4-5 attacks they are taking damage back unto themselves on top of the up front damage your dishing out. It's wonderful to watch your opponent take themselves out wondering what just happened to them. What I haven't clarified yet (and if anyone wants to add) is whether or not it interrupts their attack as well such as in GW1. Regardless it's something that shouldn't be taken for granted.
So don't be confused about using confusion. Spread it around.
Is There More?
I hope that helps for now. I purposefully did not address what weapons to use or not to use. Quite simply I think they are all strong and it really depends on situation and your gameplay. I may in the future do an addendum on weapons and builds once I hit the level cap. In the meantime feel free to check out Taugrim's link on some successful mesmer builds: