ShaunNox’s Mesmer analysis on Conjure Phantasm got me thinking about the mechanics of the Mesmer class in Guild Wars 2 (GW2). In Guild Wars the Original Series (GWTOS) the Mesmer achieved their goals several different ways. The core function of the Mesmer was their hexes which could interrupt, steal energy, reflect damage or prevent the usage of skills and abilities. In accessory to the hexes were direct effect spells that served to spread conditions, cause direct damage, cause damage conditionally, interrupt, and steal opponent’s skills or energy. Signets were generally similar to the direct skills except required no energy while not being affected by fast casting (though I believe that changed with the Mesmer update). Mantras settled into a nice place for Mesmers adding additional utility and defensive abilities such as faster signet recharge, elemental damage resistance among others.
So what is going and staying in the new Mesmer? The knowledge that hexes are gone and interrupting is being deemphasized means that the Mesmer as we know it will be radically changed. To determine how the Mesmer is going to function we have to look at the methodology behind Mesmer skills and their implementation. Mesmers are, at their core, controllers. They control the flow of battle by locking down opponent’s skills and making enemies operate in a suboptimal manner. Their energy drains keep casters from casting. Their adrenaline blocking spells and melee damage reflection hex prevent warriors from using some of their best abilities. They mercilessly punish the dervish’s core mechanic of enchantment stacking. They are the anti-class. Think of them as using Aikido or jiu-jitsu to the Necromancer’s Krav Maga or the Elementalist’s Muay-Thai.
To carry on being the anti class the Mesmer will have to prevent their foes from playing optimally. Conditions will be a significant part of the GW2 Mesmer’s tool box. Stuns, knock-downs and blackout will allow a Mesmer to keep enemies locked out of using their skills. Mantras will likely make a return probably as the unique mechanic. I suspect mantras will function similar to a cross between an Elementalist’s attunements and the Guardian’s virtues. Energy stealing skills will likely be deemphasized since the pool of energy available to all of the classes will be measured in the thousands as opposed to tens like it is in GWTOS. Energy exploiting skills will likely make a return dealing damage that scales with energy or a lack thereof. From the Ascalonean catacombs dungeon preview we have seen phantasms generated by the ghost Mesmers, though I am not certain if they can be attacked or not. I suspect that the majority of the Mesmer abilities will be accompanied by an illusory manifestation. Fast casting is unlikely to return as it existed to facilitate skill interrupts. Finally I come to hexes.
Hexes annoyed non-mesmer/necro characters because you had to memorize over a hundred different icons that you never used in your day to day play. To alleviate that annoyance ArenaNet removed curses and hexes from the game seemingly leaving Mesmers out in the cold. To replace hexes along with the fire and forget game play they are associated with, I believe Mesmers will be given a series of auras (another possible use of mantras). These auras can be self targeted or cast on the ground and an ally can run through it to gain the effect. These auras could grant damage reflection or immunity to the next spell cast. Auras could also function like dervish enchants blinding attackers or causing some other controlling condition such as stun or blackout. By using self targeted spells to replace hexes combined with obvious aura and shield effects it will change how attackers deal with Mesmers. Currently most players continue to attack ignorant and apathetic to the hexes heftily stacked on them. If a purple glowing Mesmer means spell reflection then Elementalistis will learn not to cast meteor at a purple glowing Mesmer.
By combining illusions, self targeted spell shields, as well as aggressive use of controlling conditions the core mentality and play style of a Mesmer can be maintained while updating it for the more mobile combat of GW2.
What do you think? Do you think fast casting will return? Will Mesmers have mind control?
We will probably find out later this month or the next, so keep hitting F5 on the Guild Wars 2 Web site it’s bound to show up eventually.