Part Four - Updated Build
It’s been a long time....how have you been?
Well, I’ve let this sit a bit longer than I was planning - but it’s about time I got around to weighing up the condi mesmer build that we concluded in the last post. If you have not read Parts One through Three I suggest that at the very least you read the build guides in Part Three, otherwise this post will lack a lot of context. My own preference has always been to use the Chaos build, because of the added condition duration it gives you.
Since testing things back in February, a DPS testing arena, specifically with raiding in mind was added to the game. I also put together a bunch more ascended gear with different stats, runes and sigils - so I have some revisions to make to the preferred build.
My current setup is Viper’s armor with Berserker runes and Rampager's weapons, backpack, and trinkets. The ideal stat scenario for the build would be 85% condition duration (the final 15% coming from Chaotic Persistence trait) and to somehow hit 100% crit rate without fury. As I’ve mentioned before, this would also give your phantasms a 100% crit chance. Obviously, this doesn't seem to be possible, so this setup is the best compromise I’ve come up with.
Out of curiosity I tested the effect of Chaotic Persistence, as it doesn’t change the condition duration stat in your hero panel, or the condition duration on skill descriptions. Despite this, it does work as written, and sadly won’t exceed the 100% condition duration cap. I also confirmed that it works for conditions applied by your phantasms, to be sure, to be sure, to be sure.
Another thing that I’ve been keeping an eye out over the past few months, is how phantasms behave in raids. I began noticing that they seem to hang around, and even switch targets when bosses leave the arena or become invulnerable. Normally you would expect them to simply die. Based on my observations this is how I believe they function:
Any phantasms that are summoned on a boss will not die when that boss phases by becoming invulnerable (Gorseval) or by leaving the arena (Vale Guardian, Sabetha, Keep Construct). Instead they either switch targets to the next foe you attack, or the closest target to them. I’m not sure what the order of precedence is here, but I’ve seen both happen. They continue to repeat this process through multiple mob deaths until the main boss returns to the arena, at which point they retarget it. However, if you summon any new phantasms during the split phase, these will function as normal, dying when their target dies. Therefore, you should avoid summoning any phantasms, or shattering your existing ones during split phases so that when the boss returns you have a full cohort of phantasms immediately attacking it. This saves you the significant ramp-up time you otherwise face when being forced to switch targets.
Role Replacement & Competition
The main competitors in the condition damage DPS role are engineer, necromancer and warrior. In my experience, the necromancer is most common in the current raid meta, mainly for its self sustainability and AoE potential with Epidemic. Based on the current qT benchmarks, Engineer is still by far the highest DPS for condition damage builds - but they are a rarer beast due to the relative complexity of their skill rotation. The current warrior build (Condi PS) is an alternative to the traditional power-based Phalanx Strength might stacker, it lags behind the necromancer but is still able to provide ample might generation in the right conditions. It sees fairly common use in low-man and speed kill groups, or other niche team compositions.
For comparison's sake here are the current rankings for condi builds using realistic buffs. They do not include a DPS mesmer build (let alone a condi one) so I've made one using the current condi build.
Engineer - 26,834 DPS
Mesmer - 22,778 DPS
Necro - 21,075 DPS
Warrior - 18,212 DPS
Correction: The above figures are from their initial reddit thread, but they have since been updated on their website. Putting condi ranger at the top.
Raid Tier List
In the ideal conditions of the DPS testing arena a condi mesmer ranks pretty highly compared with the other classes, but due to the unreliability of phantasmal duelists hitting their intended target most of the current raid encounters hinder the mesmer from reaching that mark. All the encounters have adds (invulnerable or otherwise) and involve a reasonable amount of movement around the arena. This tends to lead to situations where a duelist’s attacks will be intercepted before hitting the boss and there is very little the mesmer can do to avoid this. I’ve yet to try condi mesmer beyond Vale Guardian, so this tier list is mostly theory-crafted therefore it's on a totally bullshit scale (high to low) from memes to dreams.
Memes - Matthias
Matthias remains in the arena and vulnerable the entire fight, there are few to no adds to block attacks and you can still perform reflect duties if required. One flaw is that you will lose your phantasms if you get sacrificed, there are ways to avoid this, but they should probably be reserved for more important roles. If you run torch in your off hand you can help clear Ice Patches every now and then with The Prestige.
Champion - Gorseval
If you are going for a no updraft kill you have the advantage of being a condi class, meaning you don't have to directly hit him to keep doing damage, therefore you can minimise the impact of his retaliation during breakbars. If you are doing updrafts you can use Moa Form to wreck his break bar (sadly the cooldown is really high so this will only work once or twice), and your phantasms will continue to do DPS while you are in the air, unlike most other classes. Regardless it’ll be important to make sure you maintain your phantasms through the split phases to minimise ramp up time.
Champion - Xera
Has two extended phases where she remains in the arena and active, if the adds she spawns aren’t being pulled in and cleaved they could cause issues by intercepting your duelists’ attacks, but this affects the whole raid group, not just you. I'm in two minds about this, because at the end of the day having your duelists hit and contribute damage to clearing the adds isn’t a negative if you want them gone. Plus why wouldn’t you want to fight fire with...confusion with confusion!
Veteran - Sabetha
If you are able to maintain your phantasms through the Kernan, Knuckles, and Karde split phases then the only downside is that like the other condi classes you have to ramp your damage up every time a new phase begins. As with Xera, keeping the adds pulled into the middle will be beneficial to your duelists hitting their intended target.
Veteran - Keep Construct
Similarly to Sabetha, you will need to ramp your DPS up for at least 3 burn phases and then maintain your phantasms through the orb phases.
Novice - Vale Guardian
VG has some positives in the encounter design, namely the constant mobility for phase 2 and 3, increasing your torment damage. However, once again you will need to maintain your phantasms across the split phases, and you are going to suffer significant DPS losses to your phantasms if their projectiles are intercepted by the invulnerable orbs or if VG moves out of range while they are channeling their attack.
Novice - Slothasor
If you have a group that is able to keep the slubling count down, then the constant mobility and the fact that Slothasor never leaves the arena should put this encounter higher on the list. However, as you provide only single target damage you cannot contribute to clearing the slublings, and are therefore dependent on the rest of the raid to do it for you. Most times this is achieved with Necros bouncing epidemic, in which case they’re also getting much higher DPS than you. If the group cannot cleave the slublings down they are going to be constantly in the way of your duelists. Torch might be an effective alternative here due to the Illusionary Mage’s bouncing attack, but it has significantly less DPS than Pistol.
Dreams - Bandit Trio, Spirit Woods, Siege the Keep
You barely have enough time to summon your phantasms before you will have to re-summon them on a new target. This relegates you to auto-attacking and using Scepter 3 and Pistol 5 for added DPS. A condi mesmer would be at its weakest in these encounters, but for at least the first two, perfect raid comps aren’t as vital to success, so go have fun if you have a group that is willing to let your dreams be memes.