State of the Game—February 27, 2008
Part One: Mesmers
By Mark Yu
Special note: Each State of the Game presents the opinions and insights of one game observer. These observations are personal in nature and do not reflect the opinions of ArenaNet. While ArenaNet does review each State of the Game article to assure that it offers content that is respectful of all players, we intend to allow our reporters the freedom to inject some personal opinion into descriptions of the current atmosphere of competitive play in Guild Wars, and to express views based on their experience and observation.
Midline shutdown, in general terms, means the removal or disruption of opposing defenses or offense. In a previous discussion, we discussed the importance of frontline coordination. However, without proper midline shutdown, even the best Warriors will fail to kill their targets. In the next few articles, we will focus on the midline and its shutdown role against a typical balanced team.
Rather than Illusion templates, we'll look at examples based on popular Domination builds because, for almost every team running a balanced build, a Domination Mesmer is central to midline shutdown.
Mesmers use several methods of shutdown:
Energy Denial Shutdown: preventing characters from using skills by depriving them of the Energy necessary to do so. Energy Surge, Energy Burn, Panic, and Power Leak are several examples.
Disruption Shutdown: Interrupting skills to break down opposing defense, and interrupting offensive skills to reduce pressure and spike damage. Power Leak, Power Drain, Leech Signet, and Power Block are common examples.
Skill Shutdown: preventing skill usage without using interrupts. Diversion is the primary example of this skill, because it completely shuts down a skill for a fairly lengthy period of time. Shame also fits in this category.
Spike Assistance: For almost every team, Mesmers assist significantly with spikes, whether by diverting an opposing Monk, applying an Energy Surge/Burn, or shattering an enchantment.
Enchantment Removal: Enchantment removal is often tied to spike assistance, but not limited to it. In the current metagame, Mesmers typically provide the primary enchantment removal on the team, although there may be other sources (such as Rending Touch from a Warrior/Dervish). Such removal is important because a great deal of defensive power lies in enchantments. Aegis, Protective Spirit, and Spirit Bond are just a few examples. In addition, enchantment removal can also be used to strip buffs such as Conjures and Attunements.
Because of the flexibility of the elite skill slots on Mesmers, many elites are currently used in GvG—even from outside the Mesmer profession. Some of the most popular are: Glyph of Energy, Enchanter's Conundrum, Glyph of Renewal, Energy Surge, and Hex Eater Vortex. Beyond elites, there is also build variety with regular skills. Non-elite skills used in Mesmer bars can include: Energy Burn, Mirror of Disenchantment, Power Drain, Inspired Enchantment, Gale, Blackout, Shame, and Ward Against Melee. However, even with the diversity of the builds, these three skills are almost always found on a Mesmer: Diversion, Power Leak, and Shatter Enchantment.
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Hex Spell
Hex Spell. For 6 seconds, the next time target foe uses a skill, that skill takes an additional 10..56 seconds to recharge.
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Spell
Spell. If target foe is casting a Spell or Chant, that Skill is interrupted and target foe loses 5..20 Energy.
Mesmer - Domination Magic - Spell
Spell. Remove an Enchantment from target foe. If an Enchantment is removed, that foe takes 14..100 damage.
Diversion is one of the strongest Mesmer skills in the game, and has two major uses: shutting down a Monk on a spike, or preventing a spammable skill from being used. The best example of using Diversion to shut down defense is against Blinding Surge. Its high spammability and effects make it a prime target for Diversion, and shutting it down often generates significant rewards for your team. Monks often use their elite skills frequently, so a Diversion on at least one will severely hinder a backline. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to use Diversion during a spike. If applied correctly, you will either successfully shut down a skill, or the spiked target will die because the Monk refuses to cast through Diversion.
However, it is important to keep in mind that because Diversion is such a powerful skill, it is often the target of interrupts by the opposing team. Canceling Diversion several times (only feasible if you are also running Glyph of Lesser Energy) may be necessary. Canceling the cast is done to fake out an opposing interrupter who is camping on you. Once you've faked out the interrupter, you can successfully cast. A fast-casting Domination weapon set may aid you in this regard, since you can then cancel and cast until you get a weapon assisted fast-cast Diversion.
Power Leak is another one of the strongest Mesmer skills in the game, and an important tool for disruption shutdown that should be used as often as possible. To achieve maximum effect, your Mesmer will need good ping, as well as excellent reflexes and judgment. As an interrupt, it has a relatively quick recharge. However, its real strength lies in the massive amount of Energy loss it causes. Power Leak applies significant pressure to Monks by forcing them into a higher Energy weapon set, and can even force a team wipe if the Monk is already low on Energy.
Power Leak is also an alternative to Diversion for shutting down Blinding Surge. In many situations in the current metagame, a Mesmer will have a difficult time casting a Diversion. In these cases, consistent applications of Power Leak on an Elementalist will shut down the Blinding Surge with Energy denial. Spells like Aegis, Ward Against Melee, and Blinding Surge are high priorities for Power Leaks when shutting down defense, and Power Leaks on Monk spells are very useful for forcing pressure.
Shatter Enchantment is another strong Mesmer skill, and timing plays a significant role in its effectiveness, as it is often used in conjunction with spikes. As such, the skill must be timed to either generate a kill by unprotecting a target at the right moment, or by pulling off a prot enchant that would come later in the spike. Outside of spiking, Shatter Enchantment is useful for removing Attunements, Divine Spirit, Conjures, and other enchantments that provide boons to the caster or the team. However, it is typically better to use other enchantment removals such as Rending Touch and Inspired Enchantment for removing these enchantments.
Like most characters, the Domination Mesmer can be played either offensively or defensively. When played offensively, its goal is to remove and disrupt defense, while placing direct pressure on the enemy backline. However, if your team is taking pressure, you must prioritize team survival. Shutting down enemy Diversions and snares become your primary concern, and "caster linebacking" may buy your team enough time to recover and minimize the damage you take from falling back.
More to Come
While this article is not an exhaustive explanation of how Mesmers are used for shutdown, hopefully it has provided you with an introduction to the role. In addition, we anticipate it will lead you to discover and learn more advanced techniques for accomplishing these tasks. Though communication is important in all aspects of play, it is not the focus of this piece. A more in depth view at communication and coordination will be featured in a later article involving all components of the midline in shutdown.
Special thanks go to Lego (Rebel Rising [rawr]), Katina and David Holtzman (Time is Running [OUT]), Josh Axiom (Team Quitter [QQ]), Less (Delta Formation [DF]) for their insights and other assistance towards this article.
Mark Yu is a core member of Delta Formation [DF] and has been playing Guild Wars competitively since early 2006. He is currently a senior in college studying biology and enjoys bubble tea. He can be reached in game as Y U E, or by private message through the [QQ] website.