Putting the Spotlight on the Elementalist’s Conjures
Most Elementalist players will agree that the non-elite conjure skills are not exactly the Elementalist’s strongest tools. In this article I will take a closer look at these skills and analyse why that is, and perhaps suggest a way to make them better.
The Elementalist is the only Guild Wars 2 profession that has access to the skill types Conjures and Glyphs. And while the Glyphs include a range of skills both great (e.g. Glyph of Storms) and bad (e.g. Glyph of Renewal), the Conjure skills are generally seen as inferior and not worth equipping on your skill bar. The elite conjure Fiery Greatsword is, today, the only exception to this rule.
How Do the Conjure Skills Work?
The conjure skills Conjure Flame Axe, Conjure Frost Bow, Conjure Lightning Hammer & Conjure Earth Shield are all utility skills, which are slotted to the utility section of your skill bar. Unlike Signets conjure skills have no passive effects.
Once an Elemenalist casts a conjure skill a conjured weapon manifests in her hands, replacing her weapon skills with the five skills of the conjure. A second conjured weapon is spawned at the same time, to be placed on the battlefield for any ally to pick up. Once someone picks up a conjured weapon, it will remain in their hands until they drop it, or its 15 charges are used. The trait “Conjurer” adds 10 additional charges to the weapon.
Each weapon also adds a bonus to two attributes, depending on the level of the user:
Conjure Flame Attributes: 180 Power, 180 Condition Damage
Conjure Frost Attributes: +20% Condition Duration, 180 Healing Power
Conjure Lightning Attributes: 5% Critical Damage, 180 Precision
Conjure Earth Attributes: 180 Vitality, 180 Toughness
You can drop the weapon any time before the duration runs out or before the charges are used. The conjure will vanish and can not be picked up again. Recharge counters will not reset, so dropping the first conjure and picking up the second one will not allow you to use a skill instantly, if it was on recharge already.
Link to the complete list of conjures on the Elementalist Forum. Please go there for details.
What’s the Upside to Using Conjures for the Elementalist?
When equipping a conjured weapon, the Elementalist gains a fair boost to his pool of attribute points, greater than a stack of Bloodlust, Corruption or Accuracy from an exotic sigil. She also gains the ability to break out of her range category with her current weapon, e.g. a D/D wielding Elementalist can gain the range of a staff by equipping the Frost Bow, while a Staff Elementalist can gain melee range skills & mobility with the Lightning Hammer.
This can be of value when facing a foe that is hard to fight at the non-altered range, like dungeon bosses with strong PbAoE damage and effects.
What’s the Downside to Using Conjures for the Elementalist?
When equipping a conjured weapon the Elementalist reduces her effective skill pool by a lot. She can no longer swap between 20 skills on her weapon skill bar, but is locked to the five skills of her conjured weapon. If you take into account that the conjure skill “is set to recharge” on the utility bar, you reduce your possible skills from 25 (not counting Glyphs on different attunements or active/passive Signets) to 9. This means you give up diversity and much of your ability to react to a changing situation in-game.
The question then becomes; Are those conjure skills so much better as to make it worth it to give up your attunements? Lets take a look at a Dagger/Dagger Ele using Conjure Flame Axe:
The #1 skill auto attack skill lets the Elementalist throw the axe at the range of 900, which gets her some range benefit and the damage done by the burning condition. On the other hand the damage output is not a lot bigger than the fire attunement auto attack and it uses up a charge of the weapon.
The #2 skill is the small AoE version of the #1 skill, but without any combo field or finisher buff. A dagger’s Drake’s Breath skill, the Cone of Cold and Ring of Earth skills (all on slot #2) offer a similar damage potential with a variety of uses (burn, bleed, heal) and roughly the same recharge time with only the range as a pure negative aspect.
The skills #3 & #4 mimic skills that are already at the disposal of the D/D Elementalist: Burning Retreat can be achieved by using Burning Speed after a quick turn and Ring of Fire is on the off hand dagger anyway.
Skill #5, Flame Leap offers a Leap finisher, but that can be achieved by the Earth’s dagger #3 skill too, which also allows you to delay the leap a few seconds for better timing. The high burning damage is on par with the immobilize of the Earth skill.
Comparison with other conjures comes to similar, but not as drastic, results (Lightning Hammer offering a very fast recharging blast finisher and Blind and the Frost Bow a decent Chill effect and good structural damage you otherwise can not get too easily).
The objective verdict for those skills still remains: you lose much more by using them compared to keeping your normal weapon set, especially when you keep in mind you will wait a lot for recharging skills on your conjure, compared to your regular weapons where you just swap to a different attunement!
Pros and Cons for Other Professions
Other professions have the same pros as described for the Elementalist: the attribute gain and access to a new skill set with different skill options. They are also less reluctant to pick up, use one or two skills and then drop the weapon again, e.g. to cast a Lightning Storm on an area or deal structural damage with the Frost Bow on some graveling borrows in Ascalon Catacombs.
On the con side the conjure weapon does break up their usual skill combos, which makes execution of skills a lot more clumsy than what they are used to.
So What Can Be Done?
One option for improvement of the conjure skills could be to take away the cost of a charge from the auto-attack skill, which would also make Fiery Greatsword not too overpowered (as it is a conjure too).
A second option would be to give conjures back the stun breaker ability they once had. Right now those are exclusively tied to the Cantrips, which is what make bunker builds so good compared to other skill types like Glyphs & Arcane skills.
Buffing the conjurer trait (which is a master trait in the Fire Magic line) could also be an option. Either by giving it the stun break ability described above or the ability to gain something else upon picking up the weapon, like an Aura or a short stability boon. Another way to strengthen the trait would be to use it for a “Cantrip nerf” which is still lingering at the moment. Swap the position on the list with Spell Slinger, making it an Adept trait, while “upgrading” Spell Slinger to master status.
Discussed on the official forums is also the variant of making conjures act like Engineer kits, with an instant swap ability in and out of the conjured weapon – which is an option I do not like and consider way too strong, because it adds even more skills to the variety of weapon skills (which is something the Engineer does not have in the first place).
What do you think? Are conjures hoplessly underpowered, or maybe fine as is?