Among the profession specific mechanic of "swapping attunements", the Conjure & Glyph skills are exclusive to the Elementalist profession. While the Glyphs (who react differently depending on you current attunement) have a range of great skills (Glyph of Storms) to bad ones (Glyph of Renewal) the Conjure skills (with the exception of the Elite: "Fiery Greatsword") are widely seen as inferior and not worth equipping on your skill bar.
I want to introduce you to the Conjure skills and take a closer look at the skills and analyse, why they are not competitive to other skills of the Elementalist right now and perhaps suggest a way to make them better and discuss those ideas with you.
1. 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 can be slotted to you utility section of the skill bar. They have no passive effect, like Signets. Once you cast them, one conjured weapon manifests in the Elementalist's hands, replacing his weapon skills with the five skills of the Conjure. The second conjured weapon can be placed on the battlefield, up to 1200 range units away, for allies to be picked up. Once you have picked up a weapon, it will remain in your hands until you drop it, or its 15 charges (un-traited use of skill +10 for trait "Conjurer") are used.
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, that was on recharge before.
2. The Conjure skills
I have put the table of the Conjure skills behind a spoiler tag, so they don't take up so much space
Conjure Flame Axe
60 Manifest a Lava Axe in your hands and at the target location.
1200 - Conjure Flame Attributes: 180 Power, 180 Condition Damage
#1 Lava Axe Throw a lava axe at your foe.
#2 Throw Exploding Lava Axe 5 Throws an explosive lava axe at the target location.
900 - 240
#3 Burning Retreat
15 Quickly roll backwards, leaving behind a line of fire that burns.
4 sec - Combo: Fire Field
#4 Ring of Fire
15 Damage nearby foes with a ring of fire, burning enemies that pass through it.
6 sec - 240 - Combo: Fire Field
#5 Flame Leap 20 Leap at your foe with a flaming attack that causes Burning.
3st/5sec Combo: Leap
Conjure Frost Bow 60 Manifest a Frost Bow in your hands and at the target location.
Range: 1200 - Conjure Frost Attributes: 20% Condition Duration, 180 Healing Power
#1 Water Arrow Shoot an arrow of water that heals allies.
#2 Frost Volley 8 Rapidly fire at your foe, with each hit causing Vulnerability.
900 - 1st/10sec - Combo: Projectile Finisher
#3 Frost Fan 15 Damage foes with a spread of icy arrows that cause Chill.
900 - - 3sec
#4 Ice Storm 20 Call down an ice storm on the target area.
900 - - 2sec
#5 Deep Freeze 30 Encase your target in a block of solid ice. (Immobilize?)
Conjure Lightning Hammer 60 Manifest a Lightning Hammer in your hands and at the target location.
Range: 1200 - Conjure Lightning Attributes: 5% Critical Damage, 180 Precision
Bash your foe. 150
Strike your foe again.
Smash the ground and damage nearby foes.
180 - 3sec - Combo: Blast Finisher
#2 Lightning Leap 6 Leap at your foe and hit them with electrical damage.
600 - Combo: Leap
#3 Wind Blast 18 Launch your foe with a banishing smash.
130 - 450
#4 Lightning Storm 20 Strike up to five nearby enemies with lightning.
300 - 360 -
#5 Static Field (Env.Weapon) 25 Manifest an electrical field that Stuns foes crossing it.
240 - 4sec - Combo: Lightning Field
Conjure Earth Shield 60 Manifest a Magnetic Shield in your hands and at the target location.
Range: 1200 - Conjure Earth Attributes: 180 Vitality, 180 Toughness
#1 Shield Smack Smack your foe with the magnetic shield.
#2 Crippling Shield 8 Throw your shield in a line, Crippling struck enemies.
900 - - 2sec
#3 Magnetic Surge 12 Unleash a magnetic force, surging at your opponent and Dazing them.
600 - 2sec
#4 Magnetic Shield 25 Pull nearby enemies to you with a magnetic force.
600 - 600 - 2sec
#5 Fortify 45 Use magnetism to envelop yourself in a shield, gaining Invulnerability.
6 sec -
3. What's to gain for the Elementalist?
When equipping a Conjured weapon, the Elementalist gains a fair boost to his pool of attribute points, which combined, is greater than a stack of Bloodlust, Corruption or Accuracy from an exotic sigil. He also gains the ability to break out of his range category with his 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 a the "locked" range category, like dungeon bosses with strong PbAoE.
4. What's to lose for the Elementalist?
When equipping a Conjured weapon, the Elementalist reduces his effective skill pool a lot, since he can not swap between 20 skills on his weapon skill bar, but only the five skills of his 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 versatility to react to a changing situation in-game.
Are those Conjure skills so much better 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 Ele throw the axe at the range of 900, which gets him 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 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 my 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 come to similar, but not as drastic result (Lightning Hammer offering a very fast recharging Blast finisher and Blind and the Forst Bow a decent Chill effect and good structural damage you otherwise can not get to 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.
5. 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.
The Conjure weapon breaks up their usual skill combos, which makes execution of skills a lot more clumsy than what they are used to.
6. Some ideas for improvement
One option for improvement could be to take the way 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 again, they once had. Right now those are exclusively tied to the Cantrips, which 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).
I am looking forward to hearing your point of view on the Conjures and perhaps other more or less "balancing" ideas how to breath some life into those skills.
Re-publish of the front page article, for later merger with the discussion on the news forum that will be automatically created.
The news forum article (link here) is scheduled to be merged in two weeks on the 1st of June). The thread will be moved here and a redirect established in the news forum.