This guide discusses my “Legion” build for GW2 Mesmer. The build revolves around direct damage, boons, and buffs provided by phantasms and clones.
For the Mesmer class, there are two ends of the spectrum in terms of how you leverage your illusions, i.e. your phantasms and clones. On one end of the spectrum, we have shatter-based builds, which consume illusions for damage, conditions, and distortion (evasion). On the other end, we have builds such as “Legion” which treat illusions and in particular phantasms as valued allies on the battlefield.
If you question the latter approach, please see the FAQ regarding the shatter mechanic.
Build Calculator, Gear, and Mechanics
Once you get used to the build in sPvP you can replace Knight’s Amulet with Berserker’s.
Tournament (Forest or Forefire): http://www.intothemists.com/calc/?build=-Ng-FR;0VPV5127cVV71;9;49JEE92;019-3;05;02;0L-V44;1sV2DsV2D5BY
Tournament (Khylo) assuming you’re the primary trebuchet gunner: http://www.intothemists.com/calc/?build=-Ng-FF;0VPVz047cVF71;9;49JEE92;019-3;05;02;0L-V44;1sV2DsV2D5Bi
Amulet + Jewel: Berserker’s/Knight’s + Berserker’s
Runes: 6 x Runes of Divinity
This build emphasizes direct damage, therefore the weapon sets are Sword/Pistol and Greatsword.
For the dual-weapon set, take your pick between offhand Pistol and offhand Sword. The Sword phantasm crits for 3k+ and attacks every ~4-5 sec, as opposed to the slower attack rate of the Pistol phantasm. The main downside of the Sword phantasm is that after being summoned, it has to run to and stay in melee range of your target to land blows. For tournaments, I’ve been using the offhand Sword for the burst.
In tournaments and sPvP, Time Warp (TW) is a potent ability due to its wide diameter and the AOE quickness effect, which is awesome for supporting burst DPS and managing downed situations. For sPvP hot join, take your pick between Moa Morph (great for small fights and 1v2) or Time Warp. In the current metagame, Mesmer is the best class to man the trebuchet, because when the trebuchet is destroyed, once the Mesmer reaches the repair kit, they can port back using Portal Entre to the friendly trebuchet. Note that Blink is also helpful for traversing the distance to the repair kit.
In general for PVP I do not recommend stacking vitality (HP) without toughness, because you end up with a squishy HP pool that melts under direct fire. However, this build is slippery (thanks to Blink and illusions) and enjoys good uptime for the protection boon (33% direct damage mitigation) from the Illusionary Membrane trait and up to 9% direct damage mitigation from the Illusionary Defense trait, so in practice I’ve found that Knight’s Amulet (Power / Precision / Vitality) works well for this build.
The primary source of sustained condition removal is the Phantasmal Disenchanter (PDi), which can be summoned every 16 sec. Null Field (NF) provides AOE condition removal and strips boons from foes. Both PDi and NF remove condition from allies. Note that I’m one of the few players who likes PD; other players often opt to take the stealth ability Decoy instead.
This spec handles itself well in 1v1s and can manage 1v2 situations.
This build works in sPvP and PVE. I haven’t played this build yet in WvW (level 8 rawr) but for WvW I would replace the Pistol with Focus, so that I can pull opponents off a wall with Focus 5.
Build Pros and Cons
- Excellent kiting mechanics and ability to fight from 1200 range
- High crit rate (52% with Sword/Pistol, 47% with GW) triggers crit-based effects (extra burst from Sigil of Superior Air, bleeds from illusions)
- Good sustained damage
- Provides distinct support capabilities: AOE quickness (TW), AOE condition removal (PDi and NF)
- AOE boon strippage (NF) and sustained boon strippage from Sword 1
- Solid CC capability: conal knockback from Greatsword 5, AOE from Pistol 5
- Lacks high burst damage
- Lacks sustained CC
- Somewhat squishy
Build Ability Rotations
You generally want to initiate fights from range with Greatsword equipped. Activate Greatsword 2 for the vulnerability condition and might buff, then follow with Greatsword 4 to summon the Illusionary Berserker, which deals AOE damage. Note that for summoning abilities, you don’t need to have LoS or even be on the same Z-axis as your target. You just need to be in range of the target.
I often activate Phantasmal Disenchanter (PD) before I need condition removal, as PD will take care of conditions when they’re applied on you and strip boons off foes, and the cooldown is relatively short (16 sec). PD also strips boons from foes.
If you are not trying to kite or maintain distance, swap to Sword/Pistol and activate Pistol 4 as soon as possible to summon the Illusionary Duelist. You can root your opponent and port to them via Sword 3, then follow-up with Sword 2, which provides AOE damage and evasion during the channel. Sword 1 chain applies vulnerability and strips a boon, so it’s one of the best sources of sustained boon removal in the game.
Leverage the 5 ability for either weapon set whenever you need the CC.
If you’re in a scrum with multiple opponents, you can leave a phantasm on a target to prevent them from self-reviving while you deal with other opponents. Obviously, you want to finish a downed opponent as soon as possible.
Use Blink liberally. It is a superb ability for breaking disabling CC and for creating or closing gaps. If you are finishing a downed player, and they teleport, you can Blink during the finish cast to their new location and complete the finish cast (thanks Tamgros).
The great thing about this build is that when you’re in trouble, you can kite and let your phantasms continue to apply pressure to the opponent(s) chasing you.
Narrated PVP Videos
Videos listed in reverse chronological order.
“Legion” Build With Greatsword
“Legion” Build Overview
Introduction to Mesmer
Q: What is the difference between illusions, clones, and phantasms?
There are 2 types of illusions: clones and phantasms. All illusions can be shattered for various effects. Some traits affect clones, others affect phantasms, and the traits that affect illusions affect both clones and phantasms.
Clones look like the caster, have the same name, and wield the same weapon at the time they were summoned. Their direct damage is pitiful, literally ~10 damage per hit. The “Legion” build takes the 15-pt Dueling passive trait Sharper Images, so clones can inflict bleeds and therefore their DPS is not completely useless. For the most part, the role of clones is to provide “cover” for the real Mesmer and to inflict conditions on targets.
Phantasms have their own name, always prefixed by “Illusionary”, and they deal meaningful direct damage or provide other value, e.g. the conditional removal for Phantasmal Disenchanter.
You can only have 3 illusions at a time, and they work in a FIFO order: First In, First Out. So if you have 3 illusions alive and you summon a 4th, the 1st one is replaced by the 4th one, and so on.
Q: Do clones overwrite phantasms?
Short answer: it depends.
As long as you have 1 existing clone, a new clone will not replace a phantasm, the new clone will replace the existing clone. The only scenario where a clone will overwrite a phantasm is when you have 3 phantasms, and in this case, the clone overwrites the oldest phantasm. (thanks RunGalaad).
Q: Why don’t you emphasize shatter with this build?
When you shatter your illusions, they run over to their target, then shatter. Therefore there can be a delay before your shatters occur. This isn’t an issue for “phonebooth” fights at trebuchet or the smaller nodes.
Shattering doesn’t synergize with the design of the “Legion” build. When shattering with this build, you lose:
- The capabilities of those illusions: direct damage, bleeds, and for PDi condition removal
- Up to 9% direct damage buff, 9% direct damage mitigation, and the movement buff
- The “natural cover” provided by illusions. Not only do they create mental confusion for other players, they can take attacks that were intended to hit you
- The “bloodhound” nature of illusions. If a target stealths, once the stealth ends, your illusions will resume attacking the target. If your target runs, the damage numbers from your illusions tells you where they went
That said, there are situations when you can consider shattering, in particular Shatter 3 for the daze effect and Shatter 4 for the invulnerability – these are powerful options for managing downed state situations if both of your weapon 5 CCs are on cooldown.
You can shatter when your target’s HP is low, especially in AOE situations to inflict splash damage. That said, keep in mind that your illusions continue to DPS on a downed target, which is particularly useful when facing Thiefs, Mesmers, and situations where you are not able to attempt a finish, e.g. a 100 Blades Warrior is chasing you.
Illusions don’t disappear unless they are killed, their target is killed, they are overwritten, or they are shattered.
Q: Why don’t you use Decoy?
When I first tried an early version of “Legion” back in BWE3, I slotted Decoy but not Blink. Why the stealth was sometimes helpful, it doesn’t remove roots and snares and sometimes even though you are stealthed, you end up eating whatever AOE damage was cast at your location when you stealthed.
Blink IMO is a far more valuable, and reliable, utility skill.
That said, for ultra glass cannon builds, slotting Blink and Decoy is a good choice.
Q: How does this spec compare to confusion / condition shatter builds or power shatter builds?
I haven’t tried other builds, since this one is particularly fun and suits my desired playstyle.
Please share your experience if you have tried this and other specs!
- 2012/10/15: switched from Sigil of Superior Blood to Superior
AirFire for more burst damage
- 2012/10/12: updated spec links and added notes about using Sword/Sword instead of Sword/Pistol
- 2012/10/04: added Tamgros tip re: Blink while downing a target
- 2010/10/01: updated build links to use intothemists.com’s calculator
- 2012/09/27: added Greatsword video
- 2012/09/26: added more FAQ content
- 2012/09/24: added content for WvW and that Sword 3 won’t summon clone with 3 phantasms out
- 2012/09/23: initial version