A Scholar Eye on Minionmancy

Bone Minions

Bone Minions

If you like a small army of minions, look no further. This primer will give you all that you need to know to get started.

I will focus on necromancer summoning skills as well as traits that directly modify minions.


Unfortunately, or fortunately, no weapon specializes in minionmancy. You can therefore freely opt to buff allies (and minions), debuff foes (so minions do more damage to them), or opt for a more straight damage weapon. One advantage of having many minions is that they can create minion walls where foes are relatively more static. This makes it easier to hit targets with AoE’s, DoT’s, and ground-targeted attacks.


Summon Blood Fiend: the only healing skill that produces a minion, it transfers health to you on each attack. You can also sacrifice your blood fiend to heal yourself.

There are 4 optional summon skills to pick from:
Bone Fiend: attacks foes at range, and can be immobilized to make its attacks immobilize enemies.
Bone Minions: summons two bone minions, which can be made to explode for AoE damage.
Shadow Fiend: a summon that can be made to teleport to a foe to cause blindness.
Summon Flesh Wurm: an immobile (?) flesh wurm that attack foes, which you can sacrifice to teleport to its location and poison nearby foes.

There are 2 elite summon skills to pick from:
Lich Form: in lich form, you can inscribe a mark on the ground that summons five jagged horrors when triggered by a foe.
Summon Flesh Golem: it is what it sounds like it is. And you can command it to charge a foe.

Recommendations for skills:

My preference is to keep my army mobile. The flesh wurm being immobile (in theory) means you’ll be wasting time destroying it and re-casting it. However, it was mobile during the stress test apparently. Thus I cannot at this time recommend for or against given optional summons. The elite flesh golem seems better for a durable long-term companion, whereas the lich form’s 5 jagged horrors seems potentially more powerful but usable much less often.


Spite, curses, and soul reaping have boons that at best influence minions indirectly. The minionmancer will be most interested in death magic, with some blood magic as well.

Death Magic: Minor traits
Reanimator (adept): Chance to summon a Jagged Horror whenever you kill an enemy.
Protection of the Horde (master): You gain 20 toughness for each minion summoned.

Death Magic: Major traits
Death Nova: when minions die, they explode in a cloud of poison.
Flesh of the Master: Minions have +20% more health.
Minion Master: Recharge on your minion skill is reduced by 20%.
Necromatic Corruption: Minions have a 10% chance to remove boon when they attack.
Training of the Master: Minions deal 30% more damage.

Blood Magic
Fetid Consumption: Minions draw conditions.
Vampiric Master: Minions steal life and transfer it to you.

Recommendations for traits:

I would max death magic of course for a choice of 3 major traits. Death nova seems to conflict with flesh of the master because tough minions will die less often. I would pick either or neither, but not both. Otherwise, all other major traits seem like potentially good choices, with fast recharge synergizing better with death nova, and higher health synergizing better with increased damage and boon removal. The blood magic traits are useful for self-survival and team support, and can be safely ignored if you want to invest more heavily in other lines instead.

This leaves you 20+ points to assign to any other trait line. Other traits can be useful to minionmancers, but only indirectly, and highly-dependent on what weapon and non-summon skills you bring. Those other traits are thus not discussed here.

Two builds:

To conclude, here’s my template for the two builds I will most likely run (subject to update). Keep in mind that these builds are not meant to be complete, but rather starting points for creating your own. Both will use Bone Fiend, Bone Minions, Shadow Fiend as 3 optionals. They differ in healing skill, elite, and traits:

1) Lich Form & Summon Blood Fiend build: I would pick 3 death magic traits (Death Nova, Minion Master, Training of the Master) and other build this for dps likely using axe as my main weapon. The idea is of using many minions that blow up often for damage.

2) Summon Flesh Golem & Well of Blood build: With 3 death magic and 2 blood magic traits (Flesh of the Master, Necromatic Corruption, Training of the Master, Fetid Consumption, Vampiric Master), this build would be more for tanking / support likely using scepter to inflict vulnerable condition. The well of blood may be used to heal your minions or allies instead of yourself.

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  • Very well done! It’s concise and to the point and gives one a starting point on which to build without being dictatorial.

  • Bilbo Baggins

    Alaris (or anybody else), do you know what the maximum number of minions you can have up is?

    Very informative article, thanks.

  • Guided Daggers

    Is it true that currently, the AI and damage output sucks?

  • Thanks everyone…

    @Bilbo: no idea what the max number of minions is, but I suspect there is no limit. The skills are designed so that you can’t just keep making new ones, so there is a natural limit based on the skills you use. Well, aside for the trait that lets you get a minion from a % of kills, but I assume it would be hard to get a big army that way.

    @Guided: I don’t know about AI, nor did it really matter for me… if a minion went away and died, I resummoned and kept going. As for damage, I think it was designed so that you do the bulk of damage using your own weapons, I assume that minions add a good dps but that you can’t rely exclusively on them to do the kills. If summons did good damage, then it would be hard to balance against other types of skills.

  • From what I played with them, their damage was great… thought that might be because I was using my axe to stack vulnerable. I have a feeling that minions will be suboptimal unless you use weapons that have debuffs for enemies and/or buffs for allies (which I’m going to assume work on minions).

    For instance, my minions died quickly against the enemies I fought (which were normally 2-4 levels above me) but managed to last a good while longer when I was able to cause blindness/weakness with my dagger offhand. The regen boon that the staff can apply would probably also be beneficial for them. You could also use buffs/debuffs from utility skills but then you’d have less minions.

    As for their ai, I never had any real issues but I wasn’t doing a lot of “kill one enemy before aggroing another” kind of gameplay. If they do have issues attacking things that you aren’t, try and take solace in the fact that pretty much all pets have this same failing. At least we don’t clutter up the map with rez symbols like rangers do.

    They’ll probably be a lot like spirit spammers in gw1, they’re great against small groups of enemies, but get a larger group where you have to focus down one enemy or avoid attacking certain enemies in the group, and you’ll probably be better off with a different build. For instance, in gw1, it’s always annoying doing Unwanted Guests with spirit heavy groups, cause the spirits don’t know not to bother attacking the Vengeful Aatxe.

  • I didn’t really check for weapon synergies with minions, but it makes sense that buffing allies and causing vulnerability would be good with minions.

    In terms of debuffing foes, keep an eye on the skill minions use. One causes blindness, another can cripple or cause immobility. The flesh golem charges, which probably causes KD. Remember to use those skills…