Welcome to this guide to the basic profession mechanic of attunements for the Guild Wars 2 Elementalist. The swapping of attunements substitutes the ability of the Elementalist to switch weapons during combat. With a weapon swap, e.g. a Necromancer has the possibility to use 10 different weapon skills in combat (5 from the first and 5 from the second weapon). The Elementalist has just one weapon, but four attunement, which allow him to chose from a pool of 20 weapon skills.
The drawback to this advantage is the fact that an Elementalist is limited to the same "range category" within the attunements. While Warrior has a Longbow for ranged attacks and a hammer for melee, the Elementalist is always keeping his range, e.g. long range with the staff.
How are the attunements and the swapping of them affecting your game play?
Once you swap out of an attunement, the ability to switch back is delayed by a cool down with a recharge timer. The cool down is 15 seconds, which can be reduced by putting trait points into Arcana (see the [Basics] Trait thread or the sticky Introduction thread for further details). Each trait point in Arcana reduces the cool down by 1% (with a maximum of 30% for 30 trait points in Arcana)
As a rule of thumb, every 5 points in Arcana reduces the cool down of the attunement by one second. A five to six second improvement does not look like a big deal (but you have to keep in mind trait points in Arcana come with other benefits as well, like applying boons to yourself and allies) but to somebody who swaps strategically, it can make a difference.
But even with high Arcana, you can not use an Element, fire off one skill, swap to the next attunement, cast a spell and switch back to the original attunement! How will this affect the game play of the Elementalist? Lets take a look at some theory-crafted examples of point allocation and play style.
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14-04-2012, 14:31 #1
GW2 Elementalists - How and when to attune?
14-04-2012, 15:30 #2
The grandmaster of two elements
Lets assume a player wants to specialize in two Elements only (beta weekends' sPvP showed that this will not be the best way to win a PvP match - but some might stillwant to play that way in PvE), e.g. Fire & Earth for long lasting and powerful conditions with a good base damage value and defence.
He will have two main attunements and two "fall back" attunements (with less trait points invested in). Lets take the staff weapon to illustrate a possible skill combination:
"Time line" 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Skill Stoning Stoning Eruption Shock-
The Elementalist will start in the Earth attunement and will attack a melee opponent at range with two "Stoning" attacks, which weaken the foe in its immediate reaction. Once the melee foe got close(er), he will bleed & immobilize it with "Eruption" and " Shockwave" followed by switching to the Fire attunement. After "Flame Burst" adds a big splash of damage, he casts "Burning Retreat" which will add the burning condition to the melee foe foolishly following him on th etrail of fire. Setting up a " Lava Font" in front of himself, the Elementalist finishes his foe with some blasts of the "Fireball" skill.
After that, the Ele can switch back to the Earth attunement soon (but probably not right away, if he is invested in only very few points or Arcana) to start another attack chain with the same skills, when the cool down went away.
As you can see, the dealing with enemies centres around just two elements. Our example Elementalist would not switch to Water Magic, as long as his regular healing slot & other slot skills would not keep him safe. If he or his allies are in trouble, he might use Water Magic as a fall back attunement and break his regular attack chain to drop a "Geyser" and a "Healing Rain" (which are also staff skills).
Of course this type of Elementalist can use "Arcane Blast" or "Arcane Wave" from his utility slots (if he choses to equip them) to further increase his damage output. A good time in the skill chain would be after Flame Burst, when the foe isn't following the flaming path of Burning Retreat.
A player can easily make up other combinations of skills with other weapons and attunements. Of course there is no guarantee in PvP that those attack patterns can be cast back to back, as foes will evade and counter attack. Monsters in PvE are more likely to fall for the chain.
14-04-2012, 15:30 #3
The Jack of all traits
A player with his trait points evenly distributed has no main attunements. He will will have developed certain attack chains that might involve not only two, but perhaps even three or four attunements, but he has to be much more aware of the battlefield situation to play effectively. The "Jack" has to react "where needed". This means he should be the equalizer in changing situations, e.g. keeping in Water magic, to slow down a new wave of attackers, to heal allies and give them a chance to rezz, instead of trying to defeat the incoming opponents. This is where the versatility of the profession can shine. The extras of swapping, mostly boons that come and increase with Arcane Power are just a side effect to him, as his main strength comes from his wise skill use and not (yet) from swapping buffs and Arcana traits.
01-07-2012, 12:20 #4
The arcane master of swapping
A player who sets up a lot of trait points in Arcane Power has very few extra Major Traits in the elemental lines, but will be able to play around with boons a lot, that are granted when swapping attunements. He grants those boon effects not only to himself, but to his allies. He can not move too far away from them for that, so moving in the right proximity to allies is important as well. As Arcane Power not only shortens the cool down of attunements, but also prolongs the duration of boons, an Elementalist that swaps a lot can build up multiple boons on himself, augmenting his weapon and slot skills, e.g. by making them stronger with Fury and Might, so he can equalize the fact that he has only few points in Fire Magic. This set up of points requires the most active game play and will most likely be the most difficult to master when playing the Elementalist.
At this point we can not say what kind of game play will be most effective in a certain situation and how well the three types will be balanced out within the profession, but I hope the game mechanic of switching attunements is less mysterious after these few paragraphs.
04-07-2012, 16:39 #5
Watching a few sPvP videos I have to say that swapping often seems to be mandatory to be a good Elementalist. I am sure focusing on two elements in PvE will work, but PvP is favouring the diverse "Jack of Traits" and the "Arcane Swapper" a lot more. Currently I lack up to date first hand experience at intense in-game time doing PvP, so comments from you, who played non-element focused builds is welcome.
PS: I want to expand and revise this guide as well as possible, so add your input.