State of the Game: Mesmer
Note: This was written prior to the 7/28 patch.
Mesmer is arguably the most powerful class in PvP, there is no denying that. Today I am taking a look at what makes them such a powerhouse and a difficult matchup whether it be in team fights or skirmishes in PvP.
Mesmers have clearly come from the bottom of the pit to total domination in the scene. While there are many reasons for this change that lie around other class changes, the Mesmer class has had a significant buff to several key skills, utilities, and traits.
It is quite laughable to see any class absolutely dropped to nothing by a Mesmer (with perhaps some help), and taking a look at why that might be doesn’t solely revolve around the damage output. Mesmers used to be a high risk-low reward class but have taken on the role of what seems to be low risk-high reward.
First, the health pool of a Mesmer is comparable to that of a medium armored class, or even heavy for that matter. This allows Mesmers to use the berserker amulet for maximum damage output and still have a relatively high heath pool. Toning this down to a number comparable to that of the other light armored classes (Thief and Elementalist) would put the Mesmer back to the high risk category, but still keep it as a high reward class. While the invulnerability of a Mesmer seems to counteract much of our damage, I believe they would be back to a lower-level-God-mode from where they currently stand.
Taking a look at the biggest issues of a Mesmer, I think the most important one is far often overlooked. Cooldowns are, in my opinion, the biggest reason Mesmers stand where they are in our own tier lists. The most commonly used mantras: mantra of recovery and manta of distraction, are the biggest issue with cooldowns. Sitting on 10 second and 30 second cooldowns, respectively, they are available at any Mesmer’s disposal at any given time. The timer of these abilities begins as soon as the cast is finished. This being said, to make the most of out one’s heal all three charges of the mantra of recovery should be used within a 10 second window due to the fact that you will have another three instant heals available to you immediately after. As for the mantra of distraction while there may be a small cooldown of usage within the ability being already casted itself, the 30 second cooldown is generally eliminated by the time all three charges are used.
There are two solutions to this issue. First, these cooldowns can obviously be increased. If this were to happen technically no other cooldowns in Guild Wars 2 would need to follow in accordance. The reason I say that is due to the second option for fixing this issue: changing cooldowns so that they begin when the skill has fully been used or expires. With this second option many other abilities from other classes would need to be changed as well (ie. Rampage) out of fairness and, in my opinion, general common sense to make this universal and less confusing.
Taking a look at the bright side of the Mesmer changes, we see that the three dominant trait lines being used with standard builds are Domination, Inspiration, and Dueling. We have seen Chaos take form periodically but ultimately being overshadowed by these other three.
The elites of the Mesmer time warp and signet of humility are the most popular in competitive play, with mass invisibility creeping its way in every now and then. Time warp’s buff, in that it now slows enemies, has proven that this elite is viable at any tier of play and can be useful in just about any situation. The signet of humility also received a slight buff given that is classified in the ‘signet’ category now and you receive a passive that reduces crowd-control. This is a slightly less used elite for the Mesmer in that it can be difficult to land the ability. It is more commonly used when facing warriors that are using rampage to mitigate their most powerful skills that can single-handedly win team fights.
Mind wrack has also seen a buff with its reduced recharge which will allow for some incredible burst play along with mirror blade into a blink. This burst combo is quite popular and landing your mantra of distraction daze into this will show you just how deadly you really are when left untouched by your enemies.
On the defensive side of things, the staff weapon has surged in its popularity. With the incredible amount of burst a Mesmer has with the greatsword itself, those who previously had taken the sword/torch or sword/focus weapon set find themselves sitting pretty. Originally the sword/X weapon set gave a bit more damage output whereas the staff plays a more defensive role. Even those notorious for playing without a staff have found themselves swapping over to play with these more commonly used weapons. Given this reality, classes are having difficulties keeping up with them as a whole. The vast amount of disengage with blink and phantasmal retreat on top of the dazes and invulnerabilities make it a tricky class to catch.
Looking individually at how classes match up against the Mesmer, we look at one that has a high chance of catching them with the right cooldowns in play. Nobody wants to be around a rampaged Warrior. While a Mesmer can deal with this in multiple ways, you cannot mitigate 100% of their damage with your invulnerability skills. Blink will need to be used in most situations unless your team gives you some great support. As a whole, this fight can go either way depending upon who plays to their strengths. In a perfect matchup, I believe this is the Mesmer’s fight to win. Outlasting rampage by kiting and, quite frankly, running away will give you the time you need to win this matchup. I also believe terrain has a vast amount to do with this fight given that the Z-axis play of the warrior is greatly hindered and Mesmers can take advantage of this in the right locations.
Thieves used to be the direct counter to a Mesmer but now seem to have great troubles with this matchup. The spike damage of Thieves can be landed, there is no doubting that, but one push of a button (power lock) will force a Thief to use a stunbreak or face the consequences of being dazed. Both classes need to be careful of each other’s burst potential, but if played correctly, in my opinion, this matchup favors the Mesmer. This matchup was tough to choose but I really think the Mesmer has much more in their arsenal. Even a Thief dodging a daze, there are still two more available for the Mesmer on top of invulnerability and other skills to keep them at bay such as phantasmal retreat and chaos storm.
Elementalists have a couple of popular weapon sets being used, mainly dagger/dagger and staff. We have seen some of the top players in the scene have at 1v1s with this matchup with the Elementalist falling short in a good amount of the encounters. With the mantra of recovery, Mesmers no longer lack that condition clear they so desperately needed in the past. Given that, the constant condition harassment Elementalists can give is mitigated if the Mesmer plays it smart. In the staff matchup I think this is something the Elementalist can hold off. While burst play normally can annihilate a staff Elementalist, with stone heart and careful play it can be dealt with. Will you kill the Mesmer, though? Perhaps not.
Engineers are by and far one of the least played classes in competitive PvP. What they bring to the table for this fight isn’t a lot and where it counts relies on luck: Elixir X. The pressure is nil from them in the matchup and their only hope is landing a moa and popping a rampage. On more serious terms, this fight isn’t a great one for the Engineer, hence why you won’t see any 1v1s with this matchup.
Rangers are the least played class in PvP for a reason, yet undoubtedly have a higher survivability rate in this matchup than Engineers depending upon the build being played. With an evasive condition Ranger build and constant condition output Mesmers may find themselves having a hard time landing some damage and clearing conditions. This goes without saying that Mesmers should win this matchup, but need to be weary of what they step in and what weapon sets they’re up against.
Necromancers are a middle-tier classes and can do well in this matchup with the right amount of shroud and cooldowns in play. It is my belief that if fears are landed when the Mesmer is left vulnerable, a Necromancer can take the fight. With the celestial amulet being in the meta build, a Mesmer can no longer 100-0 a Necromancer with one spike of damage. However, on the flip side a Mesmer who plays it carefully with cooldowns can take this fight, but I believe this to be an uphill battle for the Mesmer.
The last matchup is a bit of a tosser. Competitively we only see Guardians play support builds and on the rare occasion an old meditation build. Outside of competitive play meditations and burn Guardian are seen a little more. Focusing on the competitive side of things, it is not ideal for a support Guardian to ever be in a 1v1. The build is not made for it and if encountering a Mesmer is on their agenda, they will lose the fight. As for burn and meditation builds, I think meditations has a solid chance of defeating a Mesmer if wielding a greatsword rather than a hammer. The instant burst play from a whirling wrath can be devastating and we have seen it from one player in recent weeks who has taken out some of the best Mesmers in the game.
Mesmer as a whole has surged in a variety of ways and has helped shape the meta. While we all may not be too fond of its current state, we can only hope that some of these issues are resolved to bring them back down to reality and bring other builds into perspective. I think ArenaNet has done a good job with bringing them back but may have surged them a little too far ahead of the rest of the pack. We’ll have to see how it will be played out in the upcoming weeks before the WTS Cologne and if anything will happen in that time.
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