Meet the Necromancer:

Rounding out the final revealed profession, it’s time to discuss the master of undeath, the Necromancer. The Necromancer has a variety of skills that range from spells that sacrifice health to have great effect, spells that steal health from their enemies, ways to inflict and spread various conditions, and the ability to summon undead minions to their command. Possessing both the ability to work in melee range and in long range, the Necro can utilize the following weapons:

  • Main Hand: Axe, Dagger, Scepter
  • Off Hand: Dagger, Focus, Warhorn
  • Two-Handed: Staff

Daggers operate as the short (melee) range weapon for the Necromancer. Necrotic Bite provides a life stealing spam skill. While in play the skill seemed to do too little damage than was made up for by be close range, it is possible that it scales much better as you level up. Life Siphon also steals health in the same manner, though it is a more powerful skill and has a 12 second cooldown. Dark Pact forces the Necro to sacrifice some health in exchange for damage and inflicting the bleeding condition. The off hand skills for the dagger seem to be geared towards debuffing the enemy and self-buffing to mitigate the melee range of the dagger. Enfeebling Blood weakens enemies and Mark of Blood places an AoE on the ground that both damages enemies and heals allies. Overall it might be a viable melee build that focuses on durability more than damage.

Axes work for the Necro like they do for the Ranger- as medium range skills. Both Rending Claws and Ghastly claws inflict the bleeding condition and strike multiple times for damage. Unholy Feast is a PBAoE that deals damage, cripples nearby enemies and does extra damage based on how many conditions they are suffering from. I played as a Necro in the demo at PAX Prime, and at my low level it seemed to be the most damage efficient weapon against smaller enemies.

Scepters are the longest range one handed weapon and tend to focus on debuffs and DoTs. Curse does some small damage and inflicts a stack of poison. Given that it is a fairly fast activating spam skill, you can stack up lots of poison stacks very fast. At lower levels it didn’t seem that worth it because the enemies died faster with the Axe, but I only had time to apply maybe 3 stacks of poison. Against bigger enemies, getting to 10 stacks might make a huge difference. Feast of Corruption removes boons from the enemy as well as dealing bonus damage for each boon and condition on the enemy. I can see this skill getting a lot of use in PvP. Grasping Dead is an AoE damage and cripple.

The focus tends to be all about mid to long range damage. Life Blast deals damage and gets bonus damage based on how much Life Force the Necro has accumulated. Spinal Shivers appears to inflict chilled and vulnerable. Over all, this seems to complement either the scepter or the axe the most; I feel that the dagger needs more melee focused skills or debuffing skills to accompany it.

Warhorns seem to be a good alternative to the dagger off hand. Locust Swarm gives the Necromancer an aura of locusts that damages nearby enemies and steals health from them. Wail of Doom is a dazing attack. Given the close range of the daggers, these skills seem to complement that proximity whereas the long ranged weapons won’t get much mileage out of point blank spells.

Like the Elementalist, the Necromancer only has one two handed weapon (the staff). Staffs provide the Necro with multiple condition inflicting spells that focus on long range and AoE. Reaper’s Mark inflicts bleeding and vulnerability in an area and Chiblains chills and poisons an area. Putrid Mark places an area on the ground in which allies’ conditions get transferred to the enemies in the area. Reaper’s Touch deals damage in an area and grants allies in that area the swiftness boon. As a side note, it has an awesome graphic of making the staff look like a shadowy scythe temporarily upon casting. The staff appears to be a strong weapon for control and support by providing area damage and conditions and stripping them from allies. I suspect a lot of Necromancers will be taking a staff for one of their weapon sets.

Unique Mechanic

As enemies die around Necromancers they build up a special gauge called Life Force, indicated by a green bar above the weapon skills. Life Force has some interactions with skills, but the main application is to fuel Death Shroud. When a Necromancer presses F1 they enter a special state in which they can’t be directly damaged and they gain a new set of skills. Denoted by becoming pure black shadows and leaving a trail of smokey shadow behind them, the Death Shroud is a way for Necromancers to inflict damage without risking their lives.

Dark Path teleports the Necro to a target and damages them, blinding them as well. Deathly Swarm is essentially a spam skill in this state that hits multiple enemies and strips conditions off of the Necro. Doom is one of the only skills in the entire game that inflicts fear upon the enemy, making them run directly away from the Necro. In fact, Necromancers are the only profession that has the ability to inflict fear. Life Transfer rounds out the Death Shroud skills, damaging enemies in an area and stealing health from them which in turn fuels the Death Shroud.

While in Death Shroud, the Life Force meter slowly depletes and when it is gone the Death Shroud ends. Any damage taken while in this state is not inflicted to the Necro and is instead taken out of the Life Force bar. Traits can also be used to make the Necro even more durable while using Death Shroud.

Interestingly, Death Shroud has changed a decent bit since its first release in the Gamescom/PAX Prime demos. Originally when the Necromancer ended DS it teleported back to the point at which it activated DS to start with. Additionally it had a really cool visual effect of rewinding back along the path the DS left behind. Also, the Necro did not use to have a a downed state; DS filled that role.

Now I know that some people don’t like the changes that were made. I myself actually really like them. The teleport-back effect was somewhat awkward depending on how you used it. If you were grouping and the group started moving on, ending DS could make you end up a ways away depending on how much the battle moved while you had it active. Further, in PvP I could see some real issues with getting some coordinated ganks set up right on the spot where the Necro would return to. Even further, the DS being linked to the downed state was a mixed blessing. On the one hand it gave the Necro a powerful tool when downed instead of lying there almost helpless. On the other hand it made you not want to use it most of the time because in case you got downed you would instantly be defeated. Personally I would rather have the onus be on me to activate it right before death to get virtually the same effect, and if that didn’t work I would still have a downed state.

Concerns

We haven’t seen a lot of play with players not using minions at all. While minions are cool, I fear that they will be necessary to be an effective damage dealer. The worry is that minions are both stupid (like pets) and frail, not to mention they have long cooldowns. I’ve noticed that they have strong potential because in combination with some skills they can apply conditions with their attacks, leading to a lot of potential damage. I just hope that they aren’t essential to playing a Necro since I was always more of a fan of blood and curse magic in GW1.

Why this profession is for you

If you are a fan of a darker arcane aesthetic, or of an enemy that specializes in taking a slow but powerful grip on the enemy, then the Necromancer is for you. If you like being one of the most durable professions in the game (right up there with Warrior) but prefer to achieve it through massive health totals and life stealing, there should be a spot here for you. If you like minions, this is definitely for you.

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