Head to Head: Ranger vs Necromancer
Now, one might also want to include mesmers and engineers as summoning classes, and I’ll address why I won’t include them in this head to head first. The engineer’s summons are static. You can carry one, but really, they are not mobile. The mesmer’s summons, on the other hand, are not durable. Clones are easy to kill, phantasms don’t last very long either, and both disappear if their target dies.
The ranger and necro are the only ones that have a viable option for having a pet (or many) follow them around to do their bidding. If having a summon (or many) is important for you, these are probable the two classes that will rank highest in your lineup.
Pets vs Minions
The minion and pet systems are very very different. The ranger’s pet is focused on functionality and diversity of your one pet. The necro instead focuses on quantity. And so the choice is between quality and quantity.
The ranger is weaker without its pet, so it is unlikely that you’ll see a pet-less ranger.
The ranger can collect pets in the wild, therefore having a huge number of pets to choose from. These work as unlocks, so he can change his pet selection outside of combat to any pet previously tamed. He can at any time have with him 2 land pets, and 2 aquatic pets. The ranger can swap pets during combat using F4, even if the current active pet is downed. This makes it easier to recover from a downed pet, as the swap also revives the downed pet. The swap ability is associated with a cooldown though so it can’t be abused.
Ranger pets also come with unique abilities. These pets have 4 skills that depend on their race and family, including 3 skills that the pet uses automatically and one that you can activate manually using F2. You can also tell a pet to attack using F1, or put it in a passive or active stance using F3.
The necromancer can choose not to bring minions, taking other utility skills instead, or he can bring up to 5 minions, one for each utility, heal, and elite slot.
There is less to say about the necromancer’s minions, but that does not make them less exciting. A necro can bring several minion skills, each has two modes. Those skills are first used to summon the minion. Doing that changes the skill that now acts as a skill to control them, providing an additional effect like a heal to yourself or an explosion that damages nearby foes. The necromancer will likely have a collection of such minions (and their secondary functions) to choose from.
Minions include: (1) a static flesh wurm, to which you teleport when you destroy it, (2) a bone fiend attacking at a range, with secondary function making it immobilize foes, (3) bone minions which explode on command, (4) a shadow fiend that teleports to foes, (5) a blood fiend (heal slot) that heals you on each attack, or can be consumed for a health boost, and (6) a flesh golem (elite slot) that can charge to knockdown foes. The current minions allow for a customization of a personal army, and I am sure that more minion types will be included.
Both professions offer many options for melee and ranged damage. The melee necro has health-stealing skills making him very durable in combination with his already large health pool. The ranger has his pet to “tank” for him, but can also use evasive or defensive moves to avoid getting hit, making him also quite durable. The ranger offers a choice of 9 weapons with a total of 11 weapons builds or 5+ unique builds (he has 4 offhands but only 2 main hand weapons) while the necro has a choice of 7 weapons for a total of 10 weapon builds or 4 unique weapon builds. So the ranger offers slightly more choices for weapon builds.
Both of those professions offer a variety of ways to control foes, many of which using snares, blinds, etc. However, the main “control” tactic likely used by either is their pet / minions. Both can provide their own personal frontline.
Both professions offer ways to support allies, like providing healing. Necros rely on marks and wells, whereas rangers rely on spirits. While quite different-sounding, these two likely are similar in that they provide a buff around a location.
What about the necromancer’s profession mechanic?
Well, the necro’s profession mechanic isn’t minions, surprisingly. In fact, you could play one without minions, and it’s likely a viable strategy.
The necro’s special ability is the death shroud, which changes his skill bar to a set of unique skills and gives him immunity to knockdowns. The death shroud is likely accessed with F1. It is unclear at this moment whether the necromancer gets access to more unique abilities via F2-F4.
These two professions offer very different takes on the theme of summons. The main difference is between quantity (necro) or quality (ranger). I look forward to playing both, as my lineup includes both a charr necro and an asura ranger.
What about you?