Guild Wars: Mesmer Profession

I want to start off with the disclaimer that you should not expect me to write this kind of article for every profession.  For me to feel comfortable with these and for them to read as more than just a wiki entry, I need to be very familiar with the profession being discussed.  As of right now, I have not played each of them that extensively.  I also don’t do PVP in any game if I can help it, so this will all be from a PVE perspective.  That said, mesmer is one that I have played quite a bit and I can tell you that, in my unprofessional opinion, they are trolls.

Tantalizing conclusion, I know, but before I tell you how I reached it, I should probably lay out some background information.  Mesmer max armor rating is 60 and they have four attributes: Fast Casting, Domination Magic, Inspiration Magic, and Illusion Magic.  The three magics do not have special properties and only boost facets of their related skills.  Fast Casting is the primary attribute and fairly powerful.  It reduces the cast time of all mesmer spells and signets, reduces the cooldown of all mesmer spells in PVE, and reduces the cast time of all non-mesmer skills with a cast time of 2 seconds or more.  How much of a reduction?  In the high ranks you will reach 50-60% of normal and even lower.  The effect also stacks with the weapon mods that grant a chance to halve cast and recharge times.  Crazy, right?

Mesmers get the fancy shmancy clothes

Mesmers get the fancy shmancy clothes

Now that that little aside is out of the way, let’s get back to why mesmers are trolls.  Simply put, they disrupt whatever you are doing.  Casting a spell?  Sorry, now you’re on your backside.  Trying to attack?  Well, you can, but you’re doing more damage to yourself than to the mesmer.  Trying to… do anything, really?  Too bad, they ate your energy.  Yum.  Let me translate my ramblings into actual information for you.

A lot of mesmer skills can be categorized as punishment, interrupts, and/or energy denial.  Punishment skills apply negative effects when you take certain actions.  In other words, these are the “Why are you hitting yourself?” skills.  Punishment skills can activate upon attacking, using a skill (or particular category of skills), or even just moving.  “Confusion” and “Torment” in Guild Wars 2 stem from this idea.  Interrupts stop the action of the target, whether it be physical attacks or spells with cast times.  Energy denial is pretty self-explanatory.  If your opponent has no energy, then the vast majority of their skills, if not all of them, will be unusable.

Each mesmer attribute is linked to skills that do these things in one way or another, but has its own flavor.  I’ll be going over each attribute and describing what those flavors are.  Most mesmer builds incorporate a little bit of everything, but have particular slants, like anti-caster or anti-physical.

Side Note: Mesmers arguably make the best interrupters in Guild Wars, with rangers being the other contender.  While every profession has the means to interrupt, either directly or through knock downs and such, mesmers have comparatively many more.  Combine that with Fast Casting and they can quickly fire off these skills against spells that have even just one-second cast times.

Fair bit of warning: mesmer skills are very technical.  You have to pay attention to the exact wording in skill descriptions and know the technicalities of other professions so you can properly use said skills.  For example, if a skill only takes effect when your target casts a spell, then using that skill on a warrior is not that bright.  The difficulty and beauty of the profession comes in using these skills on the correct foes at the correct times.  It is supremely satisfying when you correctly time things and see nothing but enemies flopping around and killing themselves.

Domination Magic

Domination Magic is where you’ll find a lot of direct damaging, interrupting, and disabling skills.  Domination does not have sole dominion over damage, but that is definitely the focus.  Nearly every skill causes damage directly to HP and/or energy.  Here are some examples.  Variables indicate values that change based on attribute rank.

Backfire: For 10 seconds, target foe takes X damage whenever they use a spell.

Energy Burn: Target foe loses X energy and takes 9 damage for each point lost.

Power Spike: Interrupts spell or chant and (if target was successfully interrupted) deals X damage.

Illusion Magic

Where Domination Magic deals largely with direct damage, Illusion Magic focuses more on other effects.  Illusion holds a lot of conditions, cast time increases, movement speed decreases, and HP degeneration.  Whether these toys are more fun to play with than Domination’s is up to personal taste.  Both have very effective builds.  If you have multiple mesmers in a party, then usually you have at least one of each, to cover multiple bases.

Arcane Conundrum: For X seconds, target and nearby foes take twice as long to cast spells. When this hex ends, you gain N energy.

Conjure Nightmare: For X seconds, target foe has -8 HP regeneration.

Wandering Eye: If target foe attacks within 4 seconds, that attack is interrupted and nearby foes take X damage.

Inspiration Magic

Inspiration Magic governs skills that often have beneficial effects, such as healing or energy restoration.  In fact, the only self-heals for mesmers are here.  There is also hex and enchantment removal along with some defensive enchantments.  Normally, one makes minimal to moderate investment here and uses it solely as support for other builds.  A strictly Inspiration build would allow you to maintain your own energy, deny foes energy, and cover hex and enchantment removal, but there are few interrupts and no HP damaging skills.

Ether Feast: Target loses 3 energy and you gain X HP per point lost.

Mantra of Flame: For X seconds, you take N% less fire damage and gain 2 energy each time you are hit by fire damage.

Spirit of Failure: Target foe has a 25% chance to miss for 30 seconds and you gain X energy each time they miss.

The mesmer's /dance is the riverdance!

The mesmer’s /dance is the riverdance!

Profession Weaknesses

I’ve told you what mesmers are good at, but there is always a flip side.  You could make this argument for every profession, but an inexperienced player being a weakness is doubly so for the mesmer.  One must be familiar with all of the other professions as well as the technicalities of mesmer skills or else the mesmer is going to be laughably ineffective.

A lot of mesmer damage is indirect, either through punishment or HP degeneration.  There are nuker builds out there based on Energy Surge (Energy Burn but with AoE damage) and other similar skills, so it’s not impossible, but the skills are limited.

Any opponents with a lot of hex removal can shut down the mesmer.  After all, a foe won’t trigger your hex if they don’t remain hexed.  It’s not a complete waste though, as a handful of hexes (like Arcane Conundrum above) have effects that occur when the hex ends, prematurely or otherwise, but most do not.

As Heroes

Mesmer heroes are probably best set up as interrupters with some sort of shut down ability in general play.  However, they should be tailored to what content you are doing, if possible, to increase their effectiveness.  You won’t find builds where they branch out into other professions much since they have their own little niche and are powerful as is.  Mesmer is very popular as a secondary profession for heroes (and players), due to Inspiration Magic’s energy management options.

As Opponents

The best way to deal with mesmers is to kill them immediately.  They should always be a priority target.  Whether they are your very first target depends on the composition of the group you are fighting and what kind of mesmer they are.  Definitely spread out as much as you can manage.  Although most mesmer hexes are single target, the effects they trigger often are AoE.  The last thing you need is everyone getting interrupted when you were just about to kill their healer or knocked down right before their elementalist managed to cast a powerful AoE.

Mesmers can put up decent defenses against hexes and any one particular damage type, so it’s best to just hit them with as much direct damage as possible while doing as much interrupting of your own as you can.  If they have high Fast Casting, interrupting their skills can be difficult, so you should rely on punishment-interrupts, knock downs, and dazes rather than direct interrupts.  Lastly, always watch your own hexes.  Don’t kill yourself by ignoring what they cast on you.

Here’s a link to a gallery of the available mesmer armor sets.

To sum up, mesmers are pretty unique in Guild Wars and can be stupidly powerful (dare I say overpowered) in the right hands.  Taking one mesmer hero/henchman or even just one skill can turn some tasks from ragequit-inducing to cakewalk.  That is no exaggeration, I assure you.  I could give examples, but that would involve spoilers, so I shan’t.  Maybe I’ll share in the comments, if people ask nicely.

As always, feel free to leave comments, questions, compliments, and soothing images below.

One comment

  1. Char-Char O'Dell /

    Mesmers?!?! I hate mesmers! They are the only class I could never understand well enough to PvP as. God help you if you don’t have every utility slot devoted to cleansing in one way or another. I run my PvP ranger the way I do (#phatstacksofcleansing) BECAUSE mesmers are such powerful duelists, easily on par with thieves.

    I am very happy to know that most people do not understand the subtleties of “mesmerizing” well enough to be a threat.

    Let’s not forget how the Mesmer’s teleport skill can drop a small zerg within your walls or pull a Siege Golem across the battlefields fast enough to move with a zerg.

    Their only real weakness, I see, is that they’re the only class that cannot increase their speed.

    In WvW, I find the best counter to be an assassin or berserker ranger with Eagle Eye (ranger bias) because a Mesmer can’t close the distance to confuse me with clones or do damage in general.

    In PvP, AOE is king as well as coordinated fire on them.

    This post was great. I think I’ll work on one for rangers because they’re my favorite, favorite class.

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