I’ll fess up.
The first thing that ran through my mind when I heard the news wasn’t “OMG, gotta grind Silverwastes for a HoT beta invite!”
It was more like, “YES! Moar champion chests! Good excuse to revisit the Silverwastes since everyone will be piling back in!”
Like Bhagpuss, I don’t feel really fired up over whether I get into this beta or not – a somewhat strange state of affairs, considering that Path of Exile over yonder is also in closed beta for their Awakening expansion and GW2’s over here prepping for HoT, but I suspect there’s an air of inevitability to it.
I -know- without question that I am -obviously- going to be shelling out for the Heart of Thorns expansion, so -eventually- it is going to get played either way.
Ditto Path of Exile’s expansion, it’s going to be a free update and I’m not a super pro PoE player that can offer valuable feedback or bug reporting, so it’s not going to hurt me to experience it when it’s ready… when it’s done.
However, the announcement was a good excuse for me to break out of my habitual GW2 rut and give a little thought and effort towards one of the many “should do someday” ideas on my GW2 endgame list.
Namely, test out sinister gear.
I -could- just bring my tried and trusty zerk guardian with the sword and scepter pewpew into the Silverwastes, but the minor issue with that, besides being boring since I farmed Silverwastes for months with that playstyle, is that his inventory bags runneth over. It’s a struggle to free up 5-10 slots because of all the fun tonics, extra gear, Ascended materials that don’t fit in the bank anymore, leftover seasonal rewards, and a bunch of soulbound consumables that I bought with the pure intentions of practising Arah dungeon solos (and of course, never got around to it.)
The solution thus becomes: bring an alt.
Sifting through the characters that I’d been intending to test sinister gear on, the ranger is still underleveled, the thief’s playstyle I still can’t really wrap my head around (plus it’s kinda dangerous to melee Mordrem on a squishy you’re not used to playing) and my gaze naturally falls on the necromancer.
Here’s a number of birds slain with one stone. He’s a sylvari necro, and we want to play at least one sylvari through HoT because their story is apparently going to diverge some from the other races. Getting him Mordrem-ready and me used to the playstyle would help that goal.
Mordrem are best fought at range. Necros have comparatively decent range attacks beyond their one stabby stabby melee dagger.
The idea of being able to switch between condi, which would melt Mordrem husks, and power/precision, which should enable the more fun zerk necro options like death shroud life blasts, lichform autoattacking, and wells, is extremely appealing.
In theory, anyway.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take that long to put together a set of experimental sinister gear.
I’d already been hoarding the Ascended trinkets from the Living Story in my bank, so it was just a matter of filtering “Ascended” and pulling out the stuff with the right stats. (The back I leave as zerker, since I had a zerker backpiece anyway.)
I’d been charging up charged quartz for over a month and racked up some 40 of them before I stopped. Exotic sinister gear was just a matter of getting my Tailor logged on, buying a ton of Gossamer thread and clicking a couple buttons to craft the armor pieces.
Runes were a bit more of an issue.
The one sinister necro build available for reference is DnT’s Brazil’s. He uses Runes of the Aristocracy, which gives condition damage and additional might duration. It makes sense for that build because it’s meant for soloing dungeons, with a major trait synergy of signets giving might. It can actually produce 25 stacks of might on its own, which is pretty sick.
In this case, I’m envisioning more of an open world flexible build – I want swiftness, I want to be able to throw wells and play with lichform and deathshroud because FUN, and I want to be able to kill things from range using either power or condi as I please.
After scanning a Trading Post’s worth of Superior Runes and eliminating super-expensive runes for reasons of poverty, I end up settling for the super-cheap Superior Rune of the Adventurer – condition damage + some power (that sorta fits the whole sinister theme there) + a bit of extra endurance on using a heal skill, which can’t hurt, given a necromancer’s lack of vigor for dodges.
Weapon-wise, I knew I definitely wanted and needed scepter/dagger to be one of them. That is the quintessential necro weapon set for inflicting bleeds.
Dagger/ I eliminated, since I didn’t feel brave enough to go up and stab Mordrem in melee range.
I brooded over staff for a while, then decided to drop it in favor of an axe. Necro staff has always struck me as more of an AoE control-ish sort of weapon, if I was going to autoattack with staff, I may as well drop into death shroud and spam 1, eh? Envisioning Silverwastes, there didn’t seem to be too many opportunities for AoE spam over systematically taking down one Mordrem at a time.
Necro axe on the other hand is a very nice mid range weapon, that can key in on whatever you target, regardless of whatever else in between you and it. It’s a power-based weapon, with a nice damage life-force sucking channeled attack on button 2.
This was the initial experimental build.
6 in Spite went without saying, who wouldn’t want +300 Power and +30% condition duration? I wasn’t going to run signets, so the next best seemed to be VI Reaper’s Might for some might while pewpewing in death shroud. I’m using an axe, so VIII Axe Training for the damage increase and reduced recharge. XII Close to Death because 20% extra damage once a mob drops past 50% health? Yum.
6 in Curses for +300 condition damage (whee) and +300 precision (yay.) II Hemophilia for increased bleed duration (yep, this is our main damage once we go into condi mode), VI Focused Rituals because I want to play with ground-targeted wells, dangit, and the new trait specialization stuff ain’t here yet. XI Lingering Curse to boost conditions dealt with scepter, which oh so happens to be our condi inflictor weapon.
2 points left and I found myself not quite sure of the best place to put these. I gave them a try in Soul Reaping at first, for additional Ferocity, and I figured if I was going to be pewpewing with death shroud, I may as well let Life Blast pierce with VI Unyielding Blast.
Taking the build for a spin in the Silverwastes, it wasn’t half bad.
(In fact, given how the copper husk beelined for me after it had dropped to 1/3 health, and kept thumping me into kingdom come despite sitting on the ridge, I have to surmise that the build might have been dealing a substantial amount of damage. Or maybe it was the extra toughness on my weapons helping to attract aggro.)
I left my weapons as rabid scepter/dagger since I was using Tequatl Ascended weapons and used an exotic zerker axe/warhorn that I also already had.
I had a pretty large number of options for dealing damage – condi scepter/dagger, power axe, power deathshroud, power wells for AoE, and power lichform.
The only thing that got a bit annoying was terragriffs knocking me over (I suspect I’m too used to letting guardian aegis block the initial charge attack) despite rolling what seemed a pretty decent distance away, and needing to stunbreak with spectral walk…
…and I didn’t feel quite as sturdy as my old rabid build. Somehow, I kept finishing up my fights with about half to one third health remaining, and maybe half of deathshroud life force left. Also, I had a tendency to keep falling over during the Vinewrath corridor fights if I missed seeing something that might run me over.
So… enter the revised build to be stress tested further tomorrow.
I’ve not really used Signet of Vamprism very much, but it seems interesting with this build. Left on passive, it heals me a bit when I get hit by anything, so small attacks should sting less. If I take a large hit that dents my health bar, I can activate it for a heal, and mark a mob for life siphoning (which apparently scales with power – and sinister gear has power!)
I found that I wasn’t really utilizing the pierce feature of life blast much, so I swapped 2 points over to Blood Magic instead, with a little extra vitality and healing power. V Vampiric Precision is another experiment, since sinister gear has decent enough crit ability and I’m using either scepter or axe, both autoattacks that are fairly fast, hopefully producing a decent enough trickle of small heals that keep me more topped up than the previous build.
Just running around the regular Silverwastes events, it feels a little more resilient than the first build, which is promising.
P.S. I am not claiming that this is the end-all and be-all of builds out there.
I’m just sharing my design thoughts on how I personally go about making and testing experimental builds that fulfill a certain goal I have in mind (in this case: kill Mordrem, switch flexibly between power and condi, don’t die.)
I generally let other people do the min-max number calculations and settle for a more fuzzy in-game measure of ‘feels good to play, kills comparably fast or faster than other people around me, doesn’t squish and keep dying.’