Part Three - Condi Chaos
Alright, so here we go. Hopefully you’ve made it through Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series and are eagerly awaiting the conclusion where we put everything together in what I think is a viable condition damage mesmer build in current high-end PvE.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
As I concluded at the end of the last blog post, I don’t think shatter builds are viable in their current state. So, unsurprisingly, this is going to be a phantasm-based build using Scepter/Pistol and taking advantage of “Duelist’s Discipline”, “Sharper Images”, and the recently buffed “Malicious Sorcery”.
The foundation of the build will be the Dueling and Illusion specialisations. Sadly, we are only interested in “Duelist’s Discipline” from the Dueling line, whereas “Compounding Power”, “Phantasmal Haste” and “Malicious Sorcery” are all must-haves in the Illusion line. This then leaves us with one free specialisation line, opening up a couple of options which I’ll also be discussing.
Signet of Midnight and Signet of Domination are unsurprising staples in our utility skill slots, leaving us with one free slot for a situational utility skill. In Salvation Pass condition removal and stun breaks are more desirable than the previous raid wing, not to mention the reliance on projectile reflection for the first boss, Slothasor.
It is now that I realise that I forgot to bring up Arcane Thievery, which sends 3 conditions on you to your foe. The 45s base cooldown makes me doubt how powerful it is in practice, but I guess if you are being hit by 20 stacks of burning (or anything) it’ll be amazing. In general I recommend either Feedback or Mantra of Resolve, and I would lean towards Feedback overall if there are any projectiles to deal with at all. It has the added benefit of being a chaos field, through which your Illusionary Duelists can combo to apply confusion. Failing all else, Signet of Inspiration might help overflow your buffs onto your phantasms, or pick up any slack in your group.
Finally, if you are certain your group’s Chronomancer has no problem with quickness generation you could consider swapping out Time Warp for...*gasp*...Signet of Humility to melt break bars; literally half of Vale Guardian’s. What did I say? New signet meta incoming. -__-
Taking Chronomancer will open up group buffing capabilities, but doesn’t give us any more personal DPS. The big reason for taking this specialisation is for continuum split. It is going to make it possible to start a fight with three phantasms instead of having to wait for our Phantasmal Duelist to come off cooldown. If we cast Phantasmal Duelist as we start the fight, and activate continuum split before the channel ends we can cast it again when continuum split ends and then use Signet of Ether to cast it a third time. If we summon a couple of clones at the start of the fight we will even have enough time to do the phantasm/signet combo during continuum split, keeping our heal off cooldown. This combo will save us 16 seconds of setup time, so in the grand scheme of a raid encounter it is not that big of a deal in the end. What we will be able to do though is use continuum split to cast Time Warp/Signet of Humility more often, and if we want to supplement the group’s quickness Chronomancer we can fill our spare utility skill with Well of Action or Signet of Inspiration depending on what we think our group would benefit most from. Speaking of, why is nobody calling it a Quicknessmancer yet?!
We also get access to “Chronophantasma” which means that once we have summoned our phantasms we don’t have to worry about losing them straight away if we need to use Diversion to help with break bars, or Distortion to save ourselves and our party from a sticky situation.
If we are looking to amp up the base build and really push the DPS to the limit, then the Chaos specialisation is the way to go. “Chaotic Persistence” is the real reason we are here, because in an optimal group it will easily give us an extra 15% condition and boon duration (useful if we are taking Signet of Inspiration), and the extra condition damage from “Chaotic Transference” is nice too. The damage reduction from “Illusionary Defense” will reduce the pressure a little, and aside from that there is not much more to say except that I believe this variation is the most effective.
Given the trend of all the other condition damage builds, by this stage you might be worried that you are going to have to craft a set of Viper’s gear for your mesmer too. Well, luckily for us - you won’t. With the goal of this build being to max out base precision, we are going to go with Rampager’s gear instead.
On a mesmer, a full ascended set of Rampager’s gear will get us to a 70% base crit chance. Once “Spotter” and “Banner of Discipline” are added we will hit 85%. Remember, our phantasms are not affected by any fury that is applied to us, so even though we are going to reach the cap of 100%, our phantasms will still be at 85%.
In some group situations, with a high level of buff overflow, phantasms do end up with fury, in which case we would be wasting precision. I have no way of telling how reliable this is, so I’m going to suggest that we presume our phantasms won’t get fury and build for that eventuality using Rampager's gear. Funnily enough, I happen to have a set of ascended Rampager's trinkets, which I got specifically for my mesmer when they first released ascended gear. This was before I converted to the newly discovered “zerker” meta, and was running an extremely early version of this build, #first #mesmerhipster2012. Back then my thought process was:
“Hey I can bleed on crit…”
“...bleed scales off condition damage…”
“...look rampager’s gear!"
This is one reason I’m so eager for this build to succeed, because in some sense I will have come full circle.
Runes & Sigils
Deciding to use Rampager’s gear means we end up almost entirely reliant on runes and sigils to buff our condition duration, prioritising bleeding in particular whilst making sure to still keep a high base condition duration for the scepter’s torment and confusion.
For the first two variants I recommend using four Runes of the Nightmare and two Runes of the Trapper, a Sigil of Bursting and a Sigil of Agony. Upon adding the 30% condition duration we can get from food this brings us to 75% base condition duration and 95% bleed duration.
Using Sigil of Earth and Sigil of Geomancy seems to give higher DPS than a Sigil of Bursting, and I have seen it recommended in other condition damage builds. Geomancy is only going to be useful if we can weapon swap on cooldown and stay in melee - which sort of defeats the purpose of our scepter’s ranged capabilities. Sigil of Earth only provides three stacks of bleeding, which by itself is not enough to replace Sigil of Bursting. I’m not very experienced with the finer details of condition damage builds in general and it is tricky for me to test these permutations, so if you know for sure what works better feel free to let me know.
For this build we will use four runes of the nightmare and two runes of the trapper again, but thanks to “Chaotic Persistence” we can expect to have an additional 15%-20% condition duration. This lets us drop the Sigil of Agony for Sigil of Malice. With the extra 30% from food this will get us to 85% base condition damage and “Chaotic Persistence” will then hopefully cap us out at 100% across the board.
Still using “Condi Chaos” build, in this variation we will sacrifice some condition duration (and therefore personal DPS) in order to increase our group buffing capabilities. Sigils are the same as the base build, and we swap out the four Nightmare Runes for four Runes of the Traveller. These give us an extra 15% boon duration, but we lose 5% condition duration. With a Herald’s Facet of Nature we can hit 65% boon duration. Add to that the boost from “Chaotic Persistence”, and we are looking at 80% boon duration - without food - in an optimal group situation. However, we are now going to need 10 boons (there are 11 in the game, so don’t count on it) in order to cap our condition duration. If we swapped to a Sigil of Agony we will only need 7 boons to cap our bleeds, so it is theoretically possible. If we are really desperate for that extra boon duration from the Runes of the Traveller we are probably better off just asking a Warrior to bring Banner of Tactics, which will give the rest of the party the added benefit too. I just thought this could be an interesting avenue to explore in the future.
Food / Nourishment
Rare Veggie Pizza is going to be the obvious choice of food here for all the builds. For nourishment it looks like a tie between Toxic Focusing Crystals and Toxic Maintenance Oils. The +100 precision on the oils boosts our base crit chance up to 89% (including team buffs), but quick field tests did not immediately reveal a major difference in DPS, and I have not tried to calculate whether the extra precision is better than the 100 condition damage.
Bountiful Maintenance Oils or Bountiful Tuning Crystals are really good for improving boon duration if, for whatever reason, we are going for the the Condi Chaos Buffman build. We will lose another 10% condition duration, so unless we can make that up elsewhere this is going to represent a DPS loss.
Another interesting option could be a Bowl of Truffle Risotto or Bowl of Fancy Potato and Leek Soup. The former gives 100 condition damage and 70 precision while the latter provides the reverse. But we should probably avoid these unless we are able to hit 100% condition duration without Rare Veggie Pizza.
Part 3 - Summary
I would like to be able to conclude with some spreadsheet numbers and solid, in-game tested, DPS for various situations. However, I am the dedicated Quicknessmancer in both my fixed raid groups so I have not managed to try this out in raids...yet...I have also not taken the plunge into DEKeyz’s awesome spreadsheet. When I've had some opportunities to more thoroughly test the build in practice, I will do a critique of it in a follow up blog to point out some of the inherent advantages and drawbacks over other condition damage builds. But I want to get some more playtime under my belt before I do that. I have managed to hit over 10k bleeds pugging in fractals, so I would expect that number to go up with better buff distribution, and I have hammered away at the PvP test golems in the Heart of the Mists with a DPS meter while theorycrafting.
Based on this, and the evidence from the other brave souls that are messing with condi mesmer I would say that it works. It isn’t the highest condi DPS build in the game but at this stage in the life of raids it is starting to become more apparent that you won’t always need to be completely min maxed. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a high bar for success, but I am confident that the condi mesmer build can meet it in the right circumstances.