Focus: WvW, AoE
Weapon: Staff, Sigil of Bloodlust
Gear: Power/Toughness/Vitality (“Soldier” or “Invader” gear), Runes of Divinity
Role: Your role is to backline in groups, casting ranged AoEs on enemies.
Your weapon will be a staff because you are a WvW elementalist and staff offers the best AoE skills. Your weapon sigil should be a Sigil of Bloodlust, which gives a 2hr stack of Bloodlust (gives you a Power stat bonus), up to 25 stacks, every time you kill a mob or player. The Bloodlust buff only disappears if you die or weapon switch, but since you can’t weapon-switch as an ele, you’re safe.
Your gear should be Power/Tough/Vitality. You want to hit hard, but you DON’T want to be a glass cannon in WvW. An ele that attacks twice for lesser damage is better than an ele that attacks once and dies. Even if you backline in WvW, you’ll be constantly taking damage (from seige equipment or from other ranged classes). Your Runes of Divinity should give you stats all around.
This is a breakdown of each staff elementalist skill and when to use them. Skills in ORANGE are the most important ones.
- Fireball: Target-locked. This is your auto-attack. It is also, conveniently, AoE.
- Lava Font: Click-cast. This creates a Fire combo field that damages opponents standing on top of it. This is also AoE, but requires you to keep your opponent standing still for maximum damage. Cast in the middle of large groups and anticipate which direction they’ll be moving. It lasts 4s but only has a 6s cooldown, so you can pretty much have it up most of the time. Skill ticks once per second, i.e. 4 ticks
- Flame Burst: Target-locked This is a fast-casting AoE burn – it will inflict Burning on your target and anyone nearby. Since its almost insta-cast, always be spamming this between Fireball and Lava Font. 10s cooldown (8s with Pyromancer’s Alacrity trait), so not bad.
- Burning Retreat: Self-target. This is your roll-back-escape move. It is not a stun-breaker, but it rolls you backwards and creates a narrow Fire combo field for a few seconds. Reserve this for escaping melee enemies.
- Meteor Shower: Click-cast. This is your key skill in WvW. It is a large-radius’d AoE fire storm. It hits pretty hard, on both players and on walls. This is the skill that you always want to be using against large groups of targets (place wisely though). 30s cooldown (24s with Pyromancer’s Alacrity trait) so place them well.
- Water Blast: Target-locked. Auto-attack that also heals allies near your target. This can be used as a healing skill to help keep the flame ram operator alive (just target the gate and the flame ram operators will get some nice healing). This should ONLY be used in PvE or against undefended doors – you are far more useful attacking other players.
- Ice Spike: Click-cast. Your AoE vulnerability skill. It casts a delayed attack on the area, so predicting your opponent’s movement (or immobilizing them prior to casting) is a must. The attack does a small amount of damage but, more importantly, it inflicts 5 stacks of Vulnerability for 10s. You want to cast this early and make sure it hits, so you and your team mates’ attacks do much more damage. 4s cooldown so you can cast this quite often (but keep in mind that your Fire skills do more damage).
- Frozen Ground: Click-cast. This casts a huge Ice field that lasts 5s and inflicts the Chilled condition. Chilled reduces movement speed by 66% as well as slows skill recharge by 66%. It is VERY powerful as a CC skill. See the Combo Fields section below. 40s cooldown so don’t waste it.
- Geyser: Click-cast. This is your support heal skill. It heals for quite a bit; however, it has an extremely small radius, a slight cast delay, and only lasts for 2s, so place it carefully. 20s cooldown, nice for PvE.
- Healing Rain: Click-cast. This is your ultimate support skill. Casts regen and removes conditions from your allies, and has a HUGE radius. Also creates a water combo field, meaning even more healing/regen. 45s cooldown so place it carefully.
- Chain Lightning: Target-locked. Auto-attack that bounces and hits three targets. Decent due to the bounce, but not as good as Fireball. I don’t see any reason to use this unless you’re waiting for Fire attunement to cooldown.
- Lightning Surge: Target-locked. Blinds your target and surrounding enemies for 5 seconds. Decent, but takes 3s to charge up. Unless you’re in a 1v1 situation against a melee target, I wouldn’t use this.
- Gust: Target-locked. Pushback skill. Use in self-defence when being focused by melees (or, for fun, pushing enemies off tower walls/ramps).
- Windborne Speed: Self-target. Cast an AoE 10s Swiftness boon. You’ll find yourself casting this frequently while running back-forth in WvW. Make sure to cast it while running near your group so your squad members also gain Swiftness.
- Static Field: Click-target. Casts a Lightning combo field which stuns enemies for 3s if they pass it. The field is a circle, so you want to effectively trap your opponents in its radius. Note that the stun effect only triggers if they CROSS the radius border. That said, if they stand inside it, they’re effectively immobilized anyway. Make sure to coordinate this with your squad and cast this on grouped-up targets (in combination with Frozen Ground and Unsteady Ground for massive AoE CC), then immediately start AoEing the sitting ducks. 40s cooldown so save it.
- Stoning: Target-locked. Auto-attack that does a small amount of damage and inflicts Weakness. The least useful of all the staff ele auto-attacks.
- Eruption: Click-cast. Casts a delayed eruption at the point of cast, which inflicts bleeding damage on anyone in the blast radius. The amount of bleed damage is pretty good, but the delay is extremely long (even longer than Ice Spike). If you are confident you can keep your opponent CC’d for the duration of the delay, however, it does pretty decent damage (even without condition damage stat increases).
- Magnetic Aura: Self-target. Casts a 5s aura that reflects projectiles. Anti-bow/axe if you find yourself being targeted. Since you should be backline, however, I don’t see this happening often.
- Unsteady Ground: Click-cast. Casts a line that inflicts Cripple on any enemies that run across it. Good to place at choke points or in the middle of crowds, to slow down running targets, or to slow down pursuing enemies. Requires you to predict the direction your target is running. Pretty fast-casting, so use in combination with Shockwave (so they leave with a few stacks of Cripple)
- Shockwave: Target-locked. Casts a line-of-sight attack that immobilizes any enemies in its path. The immobilization lasts for 2s and also inflicts some minor bleed damage. A good opening attack for chasing down runners or to cast into a group of enemies in combination with Eruption and Unsteady Ground. 30s cooldown so make good use of it.
The following are RECOMMENDED utility skills. Obviously you can change these as the situation demands or to fit your playstyle (with the exception of Mist Form – ALL eles should have this utility skill equipped).
- Signet of Restoration: Self-heal. In WvW, you will find yourself constantly peppered by AoEs. The best defence is a strong offence, and Signet of Restoration plus Mango Pies will keep you healed and alive without ever needing to stop attacking. Meaning if you’re low on HP, you should just fall back a bit but continue attacking or switch quickly to water attunement, cast a Geyser, then keep spamming your water auto-attack until the Signet of Restoration’s passive has you healed back up. Note that the skill’s passive heal depends on your Healing stat.
- Cleansing Fire: Self-target. This is your cleanse, your condition remover. It’s also a stunbreaker too. Note that because conditions like Immobilize, Cripple, and Chill are not stuns, your normal stunbreakers won’t remove them, but Cleansing Fire will. I also find it a nice anti-bleed on demand.
- Mist Form: Self-target. This is the essential escape skill. Grants you invulnerability for 3s and is a stun-breaker. All eles should have this equipped.
- Glyph of Storms: Click-cast. In Fire attunement, this will cast a Meteor Storm-like skill; instead of random raining, its constant waves of damage to all targets in circle, but much weaker. Its cast time is much less than Meteor Storm and doesn’t require to stand still, so its good to open with it on a group of targets, then follow up with a Meteor Storm.
- Conjure Fiery Greatsword: Click-target. This elite gives you an environmental weapon, which is a greatsword. See here for more details. Keep in mind, however, that when you swap to the Fiery Greatsword, you lose ALL your Bloodlust stacks. Small price to pay though at lvl 80, but maybe a significant loss at lower levels.
Flame Wave is pretty nice (stronger than Fireball and damages enemies standing around you).
Fiery Eruption inflicts a target-locked AoE Burning.
Fiery Whirl will move you into your crowd of targets, which you do NOT want to do as a ranged class.
Fiery Rush will do the same.
Firestorm will cast a fire-attunement Glyph of Storms. It also only has a 15s cooldown. When casting this Conjure, it’d actually be a better idea to cast it where you’re standing (the blast damage from summoning it is negligible), so you can swap to the second greatsword after you’ve used up the charges of the first.
- Glyph of Elementalists: Summon. Summons an elementalist based on your attunement. Since you can’t micromanage the AI, it can be pretty useless unless you’re in PvE (like needing a tank while trying to solo cap a camp). An alternative if you don’t like Fiery Greatsword. Don’t ever pick Tornado, as that would put you in melee range and its really not much good in WvW.
- Hounds of Balthazar: Human-only summon. Summons two Hounds that deal pretty massive single-target attacks as well as AoE fire attacks. More powerful than a Fire attunement summon, but longer cooldown. The preferred alternative to Fiery Greatsword if you’re a human ele.
- Artillery Barrage: Char-only click-target. Roughly the same as a Fiery Greatsword’s Firestorm. I do not know how the damage compares, but it should be pretty good. Single-use unlike Fiery Greatsword though and long cooldown though.
- Take Root: Sylvari-only self-target. Summons vines around where you are standing, immobilizing your enemies. This is an AoE immobilize, but requires you to jump into the middle of your enemies. Not so sure if that’s all that good an idea, but if you can pull it off with your team, it could insta-wipe entire enemy squads when combined with timed AoEs.
One main advantage of being a staff ele is that you’re a constant source of combo fields. Please read through this page and all the links on the page to understand it – its too much to explain here. Staff elementalists generate the following combo fields:
- Fire: This is generated from Lava Font and Burning Retreat. Lava Font is often always up, so this is a good thing (don’t, by the way, waste your Burning Retreat just for the combo field – it lasts way too short and is too narrow). When a Fire field is combined with Blast Finisher, it grants AoE 3 stacks of Might.
- Ice: This is generated from Frozen Ground. Any projectiles or whirls in the field will inflict even more stacks of Chilled. Combine this with axe/bow rangers/warriors in your squad to long CC your opponents.
- Water: This is generated from Healing Rain and Geyser (though only briefly). Any kind of combo in this will either heal or buff with Regeneration. Since Healing Rain covers such a large area and lasts very long, this should be cast in the area of combat. Keeping Healing Rain up is extremely helpful to your team (it doesn’t stack and has a long cooldown, so try to coordinate with other eles)
- Lightning: This only comes from Static Field, which only casts it for a short period. The main use of this is combining it with Blast Finisher to give a AoE 8s of Swiftness.
The recommended breakdown is 30 Fire, 10 Air, 10 Water, and 20 Arcane. I will describe the major traits below:
- Internal Fire: This trait increases your fire skill damage by 10%. Since you’ll be in fire attunement most of the time when attacking, the extra 10% is pretty nice. None of the other Tier 1 fire traits seem any better in my opinion (except Burning Precision if you decide to go Power/Precision/Crit Dmg instead of Power/Toughness/Vitality).
- Pyromancer’s Alacrity: This trait reduces the cooldown of all your fire skills by 20%. This reduces Meteor Storm’s cooldown, which is your main WvW skill.
- Pyromancer’s Puissance: This trait gives you a single stack of Might for 5s every time you cast a fire skill. If you have Runes of Strength on your gear, combined with points into the Arcane Power trait tree, you can get up to 7s of might from each skill cast. This can add up pretty quickly, allowing you to easily maintain a 4-6 stacks of might in combat.
- Bolt to the Heart: This trait increases damage by 20% to enemies under 25% health. Pretty deadly, allowing you to kill dying targets faster.
- Cleansing Wave: When you switch to water attunement, its usually because you’re low on health and being attacked. If you’re being attacked, you probably have a number of conditions on you. The extra condition removal from that attunement switch has often saved my life (i.e. removed multiple stacks of bleed). Getting this trait also puts more points into vit/healing as well as the water passive regen.
- Elemental Attunement: This trait grants you and nearby teammates a 6s buff on attunement swap depending on your attunement. When facing a small group of enemies, you’ll probably be attunement swapping a lot, so it really helps (especially Protection and Regeneration). The Swiftness buff also helps when kiting from enemies.
- Blasting Staff: This trait almost doubles the radius of all your click-cast AoE skills. Absolutely necessary for a staff ele.
… and that’s roughly it. I might add more later if necessary, but that should give you guys a good starting point if you want to be a useful ele in WvW.
~KeripoBlackgateWvW Forum: http://blackgatewvw.com/forum/index.php?/topic/129-elementalist-cookie-cutter-wvw-build-and-class-info/