GW2 Necromancer PvE Guide by Spoj
GW2 Necromancer PvE class guide written by Spoj of [rT]. This is the second of a series of a class guides you can expect from members of [rT], a well known European dungeon speed clear guild. Updated November 29, 2015
- 1 Overview
- 2 Death Shroud
- 3 Weapons
- 4 Utilities
- 5 Core Specializations
- 6 Elite Specialization: Reaper
- 7 Reaper Builds
- 8 Builds
- 9 Gear & Consumables
- 10 About the Author
Necromancer is a dark magic class. This particular scholar profession is more of a bruiser type caster which prefers to get up close and personal with its enemies. Necromancers use the dark arts to weaken enemies, summon undead minions and drain the life force from nearby foes to sustain themselves. Its unique class mechanics are Death Shroud and Life force.
The Necromancer is a class that has very good access to a wide range of conditions making it suitable to take the role of debuffer or control through the use of crowd control skills and debuff conditions such as chill, weakness, blind, cripple and immobilise. It is often considered a condition damage class despite its lack of high potential condition damage. This is due to its range of conditions and the base condition pressure it provides along with its natural resilience against enemy conditions. The necromancer lacks any form of active damage avoidance other than the base dodges, which makes it more challenging to play against high damage bosses and mobs where blind and weakness are less effective.
The Necromancer was previously the least popular class in organised PvE. It serves as a very selfish DPS class that uses a mixture of conditions and direct damage to deal with its foes. It is the class with the highest base durability in the game despite its light armour and lack of damage avoidance abilities. The Necromancer has the highest base health pool in the game, equal to that of the warrior. Its class mechanic, Shroud, allows even further durability through a pseudo second health bar and an extra five skills available to all builds. Necromancer has very respectable damage compared to the other classes. It however lacks the ability to share buffs with team mates and has quite limited utility compared to the other classes.
With the addition of new functional utility, better and more challenging content and the greatly improved Reaper elite specialisation. The Necromancer has shifted into a very comfortable position in high end PvE.
Death Shroud is the base necromancer’s unique class mechanic. It is very similar to a transformation as it replaces the necromancer’s normal weapon skills and utilities with a fixed set of five Death Shroud skills. It uses a unique resource called life force which acts a little bit like a second health bar. Life force can be gained through various Necromancer traits and skills and is also awarded when enemy players and NPC’s die nearby to the Necromancer.
While in Death Shroud all damage taken will be inflicted to the life force pool instead of the Necromancer’s base health pool. Life force also naturally degenerates at a rate of 4% per second. The Necromancer requires at least 10% life force to enter Death Shroud. Death Shroud can be activated even while under the effects of control abilities such as stun or fear. Death Shroud has a base recharge of 10 seconds.
Life Blast is the auto-attack for Death Shroud. It provides a very slow long ranged attack that deals high direct damage. It deals more damage when the Necromancer is within a range of 600 units from the target. Life blast is one of the more powerful auto-attacks the Necromancer has access to. Its slow attack speed greatly reduces its sustained damage potential and its dependence on life force makes it unreliable in long or challenging fights.
Dark Path is the gap closer for the Necromancer. It is often used for its bleed application in condition builds. But it also provides low recharge access to chill which can help to reduce risk from enemies by increasing their skill recharge and slowing their movement speed. This is a very powerful skill for chilling and positioning yourself on top of your enemies. However it is limited by its slow projectile speed.
Doom is an instant cast fear which has increased duration if you are within a range of 600 units. This is especially useful for damaging the breakbar, positioning single mobs against walls or interrupting key attacks. It can also be used defensively as it can be cast even while under the effects of crowd control abilities.
Life Transfer is a channelled AoE direct damage attack that generates life force per target hit. Its single target DPS is very low so it should not be used in certain situations. But when fighting multiple enemies at once it is very useful for providing some extra burst AoE damage.
Tainted Shackles binds multiple enemies and applies torment to them over its duration. Once it reaches its full duration it applies immobilise and deals high direct damage. If a target moves out of range the binding will end and the end effect won’t be applied. Entering Death Shroud just to cast Tainted shackles is very useful for maximising single target DPS due to its low cast time. But it is also very useful in an AoE burst situation. It can also be used to chain immobilise if timed correctly.
The dagger is the Necromancers strongest one-handed weapon. And the primary main-hand for PvE due to its high DPS auto-attack. Its other skills are relatively weak but useful for niche situations.
The auto-attack is the main reason to use the dagger. It provides a very fast two target cleave chain which deals high damage and generates plenty of life force. Necrotic Slash consists of two fast attacks followed by Necrotic Stab which deals more damage and restores 2% life force. The final hit of the chain is the slow high damage dealing Necrotic Bite which restores a further 6% life force.
This skill provides a channeled attack which damages the target and heals the caster from 600 range. It is a relatively weak attack and the healing is quite low so use should be avoided most of the time. If in danger and on low health it can be used while backed away from the enemy to regain some health and maintain some DPS from a safe distance.
Dark Pact provides a 3 second duration immobilise on a relatively short recharge. The damage is quite good but due to the high cast time it will result in lower DPS. This should only be cast if you need to root an enemy for a specific reason or to help with damaging a bosses breakbar.
The dagger off-hand is not very commonly used in PvE. It is primarily a condition focused off-hand weapon. However it can be used as a defensive utility weapon for other builds.
This attack fires a bouncing projectile which blinds targets it hits and transfers any conditions on the Necromancer to those targets. This makes it very useful for condition heavy fights. The blind can also be quite useful for small groups of enemies. Due to its low cast time it is actually very good for direct damage. But it is outclassed in this area by focus in most situations.
This skill provides an AoE attack on the target area which deals damage and applies bleed and weakness to any foes it hits. The AoE weakness is especially useful for debuffing groups of enemies and temporarily reducing their damage output.
The focus is the primary off-hand for direct damage builds in PvE. It provides good burst along with plenty of vulnerability. Focus is essential for high DPS and should almost always be used for direct damage builds.
This attack fires a projectile which applies 4 stacks of vulnerability to enemies and 5 seconds of regeneration to allies. It also bounces between enemies and allies. This is especially useful on single targets as it can bounce up to 4 times which means it will bounce between yourself or an ally and the enemy resulting in 12 stacks of vulnerability and some decent burst damage in a short window. This makes it one of the Necromancers strongest burst skills when it successfully hits a single enemy three times. Reaper’s Touch should be used whenever it is off recharge as it is a DPS increase unless it fails to bounce.
This skill is almost completely useless in PvE. It provides a high damage boon strip and chill but on a very long cast time. Which makes it very poor for maintaining high DPS. Much of the damage comes from bonus boons stripped but boons are not very common amongst PvE mobs. Most bosses and enemies that do have boons to strip, often re-apply those boons frequently making this skill rather pointless. It can however be used to maintain long durations of chill on an enemy making it easier to kite. You should never use this skill unless you absolutely need the chill or boon strip.
The warhorn is another very common choice for off-hand for PvE. It provides plenty of control and some decent supplementary AoE damage. It also provides some extra swiftness.
This skill provides a 2 second daze in a small cone in front of the Necromancer. This is very useful for disabling a group of mobs so they can be burst down by your group with AOE. It also has a low cast time making it quite useful for interrupting important attacks and making big dents in breakbars. When interrupting trash mobs you should prioritise using daze and other CC instead of fear to avoid placing the targets out of position.
This attack surrounds the Necromancer with locusts which provides swiftness and AoE pulsing damage which cripples enemies and generates life force. This makes Locust Swarm very strong for kiting mobs and contributing to damaging breakbars while also providing extra AoE damage for a short duration. Activating this before pulling a large group of mobs allows you to tag most of them and provides you with an extra source of AoE cleave. The life force generation per hit makes it very useful for replenishing your Death Shroud. The locust effect also remains active even when entering Death Shroud which allows you to maintain Death Shroud for much longer.
The axe is a rather weak main-hand weapon. But it is the Necromancers medium to high ranged power weapon. For the most part you should not need this weapon. But it can be useful in select situations. If you can’t maintain DPS in melee for whatever reason then the axe may be an option to consider.
This is the auto-attack for the axe. It provides very low damage but hits twice and applies vulnerability. The vulnerability doesn’t make up for the poor damage. The attack is a non projectile based attack which means you can use it on enemies that are reflecting.
Much like the auto-attack this is a non-projectile based skill. It provides a channelled attack that deals better damage than the auto-attack and generates a large amount of life force. The life force generation makes it quite useful for Death Shroud focused builds. The damage is relatively weak considering the channel time. But if you are using axe main-hand then you should use this skill on recharge to maximise your axe damage.
This attack provide a blast of AoE damage which applies cripple and retaliation for each enemy hit. It also converts a boon into a condition on hit. With enough nearby enemies it can be used to maintain permanent retaliation thanks to its low recharge. Unfortunately retaliation is completely useless in PvE so this attacks only real use is providing cripple, a boon corrupt and a small amount of AoE damage.
The scepter is the Necromancers second mid to high range one-handed weapon. The scepter is considered almost exclusively a condition damage based weapon. This is mainly because it has very poor direct damage.
The scepter auto-attack provides a very slow ranged single target chain attack which deals low direct damage and applies conditions on hit. The first two hits of the chain apply 1 stack of bleed each. The final hit, Putrid Curse, deals slightly higher direct damage and also applies 1 stack of poison to the enemy hit. Maintaining this auto-attack chain on a target provides good bleed and poison condition pressure.
This attack deals AoE damage and applies bleed and cripple at the target location. It has a radius of 240 units and can hit up to 5 foes. It applies 3 stacks of bleeding to any foes struck. This makes it quite effective at condition pressure and should be used whenever it is off recharge while playing a condition build. The AoE cripple is also very useful for snaring groups of enemies.
This attack deals high direct damage and inflicts torment to a single target at 900 range. It deals bonus damage and grants extra life force and torment for each unique condition on the target. So for a target with a large range of conditions this skill can deal good damage and apply a lot of torment. It is also potentially very good at restoring life force. This is the main life force generating skill for a condition build but it is also a valuable condition damage skill. So it should be used as frequently as possible when playing Scepter condition builds.
The staff is the Necromancers only 1200 range weapon outside of Life Blast. It is primarily a support weapon but it is often used as a ranged AoE damage weapon in World vs World. However its damage is quite low which makes it unfavourable in PvE. Staff marks can also be used as opening burst by placing them underneath a boss before it becomes hostile. This means you can drop all your marks and then swap out your staff to a better weapon before getting put in combat. The staff also has the highest base weapon damage which means it can be used to maximise Death Shroud skill damage. This makes it highly popular for Death Shroud builds on the base Necromancer.
The auto-attack provides a piercing projectile which does moderate damage and generates life force per target hit. The life force generation is rather weak on a single target due to the low attack speed. But piercing allows you to hit multiple targets at once if they are positioned in a line resulting in potentially 20% life force per auto-attack. But overall it is a rather useless skill to use.
This attack places a mark on the target area which when triggered deals low damage and applies 2 stacks of bleed to enemies and regeneration to allies. Its low recharge makes it very easy to maintain bleeds and tag groups of enemies frequently. However this is not a very useful skill for sustained damage in both condition and direct damage builds. It is useful as a pre-combat opening skill.
This skill places a mark which damages foes and applies chill and 3 stacks of poison to enemies when triggered. It also provides a poison field which can be blasted with blast finishers to create AoE weakness. This mark is also useful as a pre-combat opening skill.
This skill places a mark which deals high damage and transfers conditions from the Necromancer to any enemies hit. It is also a blast finisher so it can be used straight after Chilblains to create some AOE weakness. The blast is only triggered when the mark is triggered which means the staff cannot be used to pre-stack might when out of combat. It is also useful as a pre-combat opening skill.
This attack places a mark which deals low damage and fears foes for 1 second. This is useful for difficult running sections in dungeons where you may need to fear a group of enemies to allow you to pass safely. It will however put you in combat so it should only be used in this manner when absolutely necessary. You can also use this to damage the breakbar. But care should be taken and this skill should not be used on groups of trash mobs because it will most likely put them out of position and make it more difficult for your group to burst them down. Generally speaking you won’t see much use for this skill or the rest of staff in PvE.
It is good practise to regularly swap to utilities that are appropriate for each encounter. While often your standard set of utilities will be enough to get you through the encounter, swapping to a more specialised set will allow you and your team to progress with much more safety and often result in speeding up the encounter. Even in cases where you sacrifice some personal damage for defensive utilities you can experience a more efficient result. Knowing what utilities are best for each encounter comes with experience. For detailed information about individual encounters and to properly prepare yourself you should check gw2dungeons.net.
This is the primary heal for Necromancer. It heals for a decent amount on a low recharge. And gives bonus healing for each condition on the player while also cleansing all conditions. It is a corruption skill so it applies vulnerability to yourself after casting and is affected by the master of corruption trait. If you need a condition cleanse or just want a heal skill which provides the most healing per second then you should use this skill. Unfortunately due to the self applied vulnerability it will prevent you from getting out of combat immediately after cleansing. So you generally only want to use this skill for condition heavy fights.
This well provides a similar base heal to Consume Conditions but also provides an AoE well which pulses and heals the Necromancer and any allies standing within it. It is also a light field so whirl and projectile finishers can be used inside to cleanse your group with cleansing bolts. This makes the Well of Blood a more group friendly heal. However care should be taken so that you do not overwrite other more important combo fields (fire, smoke, lightning) when using this skill.
This skill summons a Blood Fiend which follows the Necromancer and attacks enemies from range. Its attacks deal damage and grant a steady source of healing to the Necromancer. When the minion is active Taste of Death can be cast to sacrifice the Blood Fiend and grant the Necromancer a larger heal. If it dies from damage you will not gain the larger heal and will have to wait to re-summon the minion. The overall healing is quite low, but this heal skill does increase your DPS passively and creates strong over time sustain. This is the best heal Necromancers have due to minions having partial immunity to AoE in PvE.
This signet provides a small passive heal whenever the Necromancer is struck. This results in a pseudo damage reduction passive. The active creates a Vampiric Mark on the enemy target and provides a decent self heal to the Necromancer. The Vampiric Mark has 25 stacks which when struck allies siphon health for each stack. There is an internal cool down on the active so each player can only use 5 stacks for themselves. But a full group can potentially use all 25 stacks and gain quite a lot of extra healing and armour ignoring damage through these siphons. The siphon damage scales with power. The damage gained from this skill makes it worth taking simply for the opening burst. It is also the heal skill which provides the lowest DPS loss when cast. Making it a strong choice for PvE when Blood Fiend is not an option.
This skill is the main damage dealing well for the Necromancer. It provides a pulsing AoE which applies vulnerability and deals high damage per hit. You almost always want to have this utility skill on your bar due to its damage and vulnerability application. It is also a dark field so it can be used to grant AoE blind through blasts and life steal through whirl and projectile finishers. As with other fields, care should be take to avoid overwriting more important combo fields.
This utility is the second damage dealing well for the Necromancer. It provides another pulsing AoE which deals moderate damage and converts boons in to conditions. Boon corruption is rather useless in PvE so this well is primarily used for extra AoE burst along side Well of Suffering. It also generates life force per hit. It is also a dark field so it can be used to grant AoE blind through blasts and life steal through whirl and projectile finishers. Again as with other fields, care should be take to avoid overwriting more important combo fields.
This utility provides a pulsing AoE which deals no damage but applies blind to enemies inside it on each pulse. This is especially useful against high threat groups of enemies. Blinding and making most of their attacks miss will provide your group with a lot of safety while bursting down the enemies with AoE. It is another dark field.
This skill creates a pulsing AoE which deals no damage and converts conditions on allies into boons. It also acts as a stun break with 1 second of stability to prevent it from being interrupted during the cast. The condition conversion is very useful in condition heavy fights. Burn is converted into aegis which allows the Necromancer to receive its only source of blocks with this skill. This makes it highly useful in fights with regular burns. It is also a dark field.
This utility applies bleeds to the target and grants the Necromancer and nearby allies 8 stacks of might along with some self inflicted bleeds. The self inflicted bleeds can also be used to gain a stronger heal from Consume Conditions or they can be transferred to the target using Deathly Swarm or Plague Signet. In organised groups where might is always at 25 stacks then there is no need to take this skill. The short duration of these might stacks makes it a rather bad skill to cast due to it overwriting longer duration might stacks from the group. It is however still a powerful skill for condition builds due to the duration of the bleeds applied.
When cast this skill spreads up to 25 stacks of all conditions on the target to 5 nearby enemies within 600 range of the target enemy. It also applies 3 stacks of vulnerability to self. This is a highly useful skill on condition builds in AoE situations. Spreading multiple damaging conditions on a low recharge unblockable attack is potentially very powerful. It is also useful on other builds for spreading useful conditions. For example spreading 25 vulnerability stacks to all nearby enemies. Or spreading immobilise to multiple nearby enemies for a group snare. If coupled with a second Necromancer it can be used to double condition stacks on a boss by casting on the boss and then casting on a nearby additional enemy. Resulting in potentially massive condition burst in select situations.
This skill places a large AoE poison field at the target location which applies poison and weakness to any foes within it. It is also a projectile block. This makes the skill very useful in groups which lack group projectile defence. But it also applies a small duration weakness to the caster which can and should be cleansed immediately or used to grant a stronger heal from Consume Conditions. This utility is very useful for dangerous groups of enemies where stacking weakness and projectile defence can save your group from a lot of damage. The poison field can be further blasted for extra AoE weakness. As with other fields, care should be take to avoid overwriting more important combo fields.
The problem with this skill is the negative effects make it a powerful group defensive skill which potentially completely cripples your own damage for its full duration. Which means you either have to prepare for the negatives, suffer through them or avoid the skill and rely on your teammates to provide the same support without the negative effects.
This utility poisons yourself and corrupts 5 boons on the target enemy, converting them into conditions. This skill has a relatively high recharge and PvE does not have a lot of boon heavy encounters. Which makes this skill rather useless for PvE. It is outclassed by skills like Well of Corruption or Dark Path when traited with Path of Corruption. It is potentially a good skill for corruption focused condition builds when coupled with transfers and Blood is Power.
This utility summons two small Bone Minions to fight alongside you. They are rather weak and die very quickly when targeted. However once summoned they give you access to the skill Putrid Explosion. This can be cast twice to sacrifice each minion which provides a high damage blast finisher at the minions location. This is mainly used for blasting important fields such as fire for group might, smoke for group stealth and lightning for group swiftness. When out of combat you can detonate a single blast and then swap to another utility because it will not go on recharge until you use both putrid explosions. This is a useful trick to use to get a free blast finisher when pre-stacking might, swiftness or stealth. The blast finisher is relatively unreliable and hard to correctly place on small combo fields. Which means you may require your teammates to place fields with your minions in mind (placing them on top of the minions are you summon them).
This skill summons an immobile Flesh Wurm at the target location. It deals decent damage and is quite durable. The main advantage of this skill comes from the secondary skill, Necrotic Traversal. Necrotic Traversal sacrifices the Flesh Wurm and teleports the Necromancer to its location. It also poisons nearby enemies, provides a stun break and is a blast finisher. This makes it a very useful skill for utility. The cast time prevents it from being a true mobility skill, however it can be used to blink up stairs or cliffs that you would normally have to walk the long way around to.
This skill summons a Bone Fiend which deals damage from range and applies cripple with its attacks. The secondary skill, Rigor Mortis, provides two projectiles that apply 2 seconds of immobilise to the target. This can be very useful in situations where you need to chain immobilise an enemy to keep it in position.
This utility summons a Shadow Fiend which deals moderate damage in melee range. The secondary ability, Haunt, teleports the Shadow Fiend to the target’s location and deals damage and blinds that foe. It also generates 10% life force on use. The utility of Haunt is pretty inconsequential. However the Shadow Fiend is one of the harder hitting minions at the Necromancers disposal. Making it a good choice for a Minion focused build that is trying to deal damage.
This utility grants 30 seconds of swiftness, acts as a stun break and allows the Necromancer to generate life force when taking damage for a short period. It also provides a secondary ability, Spectral Recall, for 8 seconds which when cast teleports the Necromancer back to its original position when first casting Spectral Walk. This utility is very useful for providing long duration swiftness, making it ideal for large running sections in dungeons when your party lacks group swiftness. The teleport portion of this skill is very useful for activating two nearby switches at the same time. Or travelling back and forth between two points quickly.
This skill grants 6 seconds of protection, acts as a sunbreak and allows the Necromancer to generate a very large amount of life force when taking damage for a short period. This makes this skill ideal for defensive situations where you expect to take lots of damage but want to replenish your life force quickly. Unfortunately due to the nature of PvE the life force generation isn’t needed and the damage you would take in most cases outweighs the benefits. This leaves this skills primary use in PvE as a low recharge stun break.
This utility fires a projectile at the target which pulls them to the Necromancer. It also grants 15% life force and applies chill to them. This is quite a useful skill to have for pulling individual targets into position. It can also be used to help maintain permanent chill, interrupt attacks or damage breakbars.
When cast this skill places a spectral wall on the target location. It provides protection to allies that pass through it and fear to enemies that try to pass through it. It is also an ethereal field which means it can be used with projectile finishers to create confusing bolts. Generally speaking this skill has no use in PvE because the fear will displace enemies away from your allies which is an undesirable effect. To prevent this you would have to immobilise them first. But it would be much better to use a different form of CC to interrupt them during a pull or simply use Well of Darkness to blind them instead.
This signet grants a passive power boost when left unused. This is very beneficial to increasing the Necromancers personal DPS. However when inside Shroud signet passives do not work. This skill is not worth taking when playing Shroud focused build. The active is commonly used in PvP and World vs World for condition burst. It deals moderate damage to the target and applies several conditions. This can be used defensively for the blind, weakness or cripple. Or offensively to provide poison to a build which does not normally have access to it. Which is useful to reduce healing on bosses and enemies that constantly regenerate health. The number of conditions applied also synergies with the trait, Target the Weak. Which will provide you with a nice temporary bonus to critical chance. Though generally speaking the active is not worth using in PvE.
This signet is used purely for its passive. The passive grants a 25% movement speed bonus. Which makes it useful in running situations where you don’t have permanent swiftness. And because it is just for the passive you can swap between this and Signet of Spite at any time while out of combat. The active also provides a decent amount of healing when used against a large group of enemies. However you should not need the active portion of this skill in PvE.
The passive on this signet transfers conditions on allies to the Necromancers every 3 seconds. This means your party can take less condition cleanses and just rely on the Necromancer to passively cleanse. However in some fights this can get you killed very fast. The active is also an instant stun break which transfers 5 conditions on the Necromancer to your target. This skill is the Necromancers lowest recharge stun break. Which makes it quite useful just for that. However the passive may be undesirable in some fights. In such cases you should take Spectral Armour or trait for Foot in the Grave instead when you need stun breaks.
This signet provides passive life force generation while in combat. It gives 2% life force every 3 seconds. The active portion resurrects up to 3 ally’s at the target location. The long cast time of the active makes this very risky to use. But it can save an allies life when used correctly. If traited for Transfusion in Blood Magic you can teleport downed allies out of harm’s way and onto a single location, then cast this signet to fully resurrect them in safety.
This elite skill summons a Flesh Golem to fight by your side. The Flesh Golem deals relatively high damage and applies cripple on its attacks. It is also quite durable, making it quite a safe elite to use just for a small DPS boost. The secondary skill, Charge, makes the Flesh Golem charge rapidly in its current direction knocking down and launching foes. Charge is very useful for damaging breakbars. This should be your standard elite for most builds in PvE.
This elite transform skill turns the Necromancer into a virulent plague which pulses poison and deals low damage in a large radius. It also applies pulsing self bleeding because it is a Corruption skill. While in plague form you can choose to add either bleed, blind or cripple to your plague pulses. Activating the skill once will make it continually pulse that extra condition (there is no need to spam it). While in Plague form the Necromancer has increased health and toughness along with pulsing 3 stacks of stability. This coupled with pulsing blind and cripple makes it a very useful for dangerous running sections where staying out of combat is impossible. Plague form is the only reliable form of long duration stability Necromancer has. Due to the pulsing self bleed, using this skill on a condition damage build can cause you to lose a lot of health and potentially kill yourself.
This elite transform skill turns the Necromancer into a huge Lich. While transformed the Necromancer gains bonus precision and its skills are replaced, it also grants the Necromancer a pulsing 1 stack of stability for its full duration. The first skill in Lich form is a high damage piercing ranged auto-attack called Deathly Claws. This means Lich form can be used as a long range burst elite. The bonus precision means you can cast both damaging wells and then immediately enter Lich form to guarantee that they critical hit on every pulse. The other skills in Lich form are rather unimportant. Marked for Death is good for applying some vulnerability. Chilling Wind is a decent chill and push back. Mark of Horror summons 5 Jagged Horrors which deal low damage but apply lots of bleeds to any targets they attack. Finally Grim Specter can be used as a condition cleanse for allies or a boon strip for enemies.
Lich Form is our strongest elite skill for short fights on direct damage builds and extremely long fights on condition builds. Using this transform and then spamming Deathly Claws deals the highest DPS the base necromancer can possibly pull off. For this reason Lich should almost always be considered in PvE. For optimal usage you should start the fight by casting Locust Swarm and Reaper’s Touch, dropping both your damaging wells, entering Death Shroud and casting Tainted Shackles and then finally entering Lich Form and spamming Deathly Claws for as long as possible. Due to the huge damage potential of this elite you should always consider traiting for Spectral Mastery in Soul Reaping as it will increase Lich Forms duration by 7.5 seconds. Keep in mind that Spectral Mastery is unneeded if your group can kill a boss in less than 20 seconds though.
The core specialisations are the building blocks of your build. A build is created using 3 specialisations. This can be any mix of 3 core specialisations or 2 core specialisations and 1 elite specialisation. Within each specialisation you gain 3 minor traits and 3 major traits separated into tiers. The minor traits do not change and you have no choice over them. However for each tier in the line you have a choice of 3 different major traits. There are a total of 9 major traits to choose from in each specialisation. These are separated into adept, master and grandmaster categories. This section will go over the core specialisations general uses and certain traits that are commonly used in PvE.
Spite is our main damage and debuffing specialisation. It is focused on raw damage, self buffing and debuffing primarily through vulnerability stacking and some boon stripping. It has a lot of traits that make the Necromancer stronger as the enemy gets weaker. This is probably the most important line you will pick for a direct damage focused build.
This trait grants might on Shroud auto-attack use. This does not see a lot of use on dagger and scepter condition builds. However it is very useful for DS builds.
This trait provides a flat damage boost to any foes who have no boons. Which is fairly common in most PvE content. However this trait also reduces the cooldown of focus skills. Which makes it doubly good for builds that use a focus. It’s just too good not to take.
This trait inflicts vulnerability when you strike foes below the 33% health threshold. It also makes the Necromancer deal more damage while downed. The vulnerability portion of this trait has no internal cooldown which makes this trait very strong towards the end of fights. It produces a lot of vulnerability.
This trait applies 3 stacks of vulnerability to nearby enemies every 3 seconds while in Shroud. It also procs on immediate Shroud entry. Which means you can flash Shroud to apply 3 stacks of vulnerability. Which means this trait is good for both DS builds and dagger builds which flash Shroud. It also synergizes really well with Corrupter’s Fervor on the DS build.
This trait grants might when striking foes below the 50% health threshold. This is a really good trait for might generation toward the end of fights. It really helps DS builds cap might in the later stages. But it also provides dagger builds with a lot of free might.
This trait increases damage to foes below the 50% health threshold. This is a really powerful trait. The raw damage potential makes this an obvious choice for PvE.
This trait reduces the recharge of signets and grants might on usage. It also converts boons on affected foes. This is a really strong trait for might generation. And is particularly useful on condition builds. It has synergy with a lot of other traits and skills.
Curses is our condition damage and critical chance focused line. It provides many condition orientated traits including both de-buffing and damaging conditions. Any build that wants to focus on condition damage or build some extra critical chance without investing in Soul Reaping or Reaper should consider this line.
This trait grants a chance to cause bleeding on critical hits and increases bleed duration. This is a useful trait for condition builds. But it also has synergy with Target the Weak in Curses and Blood Bond in Blood Magic.
This trait casts Plague Signet on your next critical hit when you have 3 or more conditions on you. It requires 3 unique conditions so this won’t get a lot of use in PvE unless you use multiple corruption skills.
This trait applies chill when you blind a foe. This isn’t a very strong trait in general for core Necromancers. However on condition Reapers it has great potential as an extra source of chill damage.
This trait grants fury on Shroud entry. This is a really good trait for dagger builds. Particularly shroud flash builds. The extra fury can really help with the Necromancers natural lack of critical chance.
This trait increases critical chance for each unique condition on your foe. It also grants bonus condition damage based on your precision. Which makes this trait very strong for both condition and direct damage builds that need extra critical chance.
This trait inflicts weakness on critical hits and also casts Enfeeble on Shroud entry. Enfeeble deals AoE damage and applies AoE weakness and bleed. This is a pretty strong trait for flash builds and it also helps defensively by providing lots of weakness.
Death magic is our defensive and minion specialisation. It provides traits that increase durability and increase the effectiveness of minions. Any build that wants to maximise the passive defence of Shroud or use minions should consider this specialisation.
This trait grants bonus toughness while in Shroud. This is very strong on DS builds and it has direct synergy with Deadly Strength which will further boost your damage while in Shroud.
This trait grants minions with increased health. It also grants bonus toughness for each minion under your control. This can be used alongside minions to further boost your Shroud damage.
You gain bonus power based on your toughness with this trait. The power gained is doubled while in Shroud. Which means this trait provides a lot of extra power to DS builds when you take this along with other toughness granting traits in Death Magic.
This trait grants a stacking buff which increases toughness and reduces incoming condition damage. The toughness portion of this skill can help boost power quite considerably when taken with Deadly Strength. The stacks are easily maximised with the use of Rending Shroud and Unyielding Blast which both apply vulnerability.
Blood magic is our supportive sustain line. It provides support through group healing and resurrecting fallen allies. Life steal is a core focus of this specialisation. Any build that wants to focus on sustain or support should be using this specialisation. Much of its support is quite offensive based which makes it quite a good choice for damage dealing builds as well.
This trait leaves a Mark of Blood on your location when you dodge. Mark of Blood applies bleeding to foes hit and regeneration to the Necromancer. The bleeds can be used to help proc Blood Bond.
This trait casts a Lesser Signet of Vampirism on your foe when you inflict 4 or more bleeds on them. This provides a small amount of sustain and a small damage boost. You can proc this trait very easily by dodging to apply bleeds from Mark of Evasion and then casting Dark Path to reach the 4 bleed threshold. If you are using Curses it becomes even easier to proc this trait due to Barbed Precision.
The Necromancer and any minions siphon health when they hit foes. This provides a small DPS increase and some pretty decent sustain. You can use lots of fast hitting AoE attacks to create a lot of extra healing for yourself over a short duration.
This trait simply gives another version of Vampiric but to allies while the Necromancer is in combat. This is useful for providing group sustain and a small damage increase. Life steal is particularly nice because it is armour ignoring damage.
This trait reduces Well cool downs, makes Wells siphon health and provides protection on initial cast. This is useful just to get access to Well skills more frequently. Which means you can use the powerful damaging Wells more often.
This trait heals and partially revives nearby allies while channelling Shroud skill 4. It also teleports downed allies to your location. This is an incredibly useful supportive trait for moving downed allies out of danger zones and resurrecting them in complete safety.
Soul reaping is the specialisation built around maintaining and using Shroud. It has a heavy focus on life force management and granting bonus effects to Shroud skills. This specialisation is effective in a wide range of different builds and is integral to Shroud camping builds.
This trait increases movement speed while in Shroud. It also reduces the recharge on Shroud. Which makes it a very nice trait for Shroud flash builds. This also helps defensively if you need to use Shroud to absorb damage frequently.
This trait causes Life Blast to pierce and cause vulnerability. This is a must have trait for DS builds. It does not have much use on other builds however.
This trait reduces the recharge on spectral skills. It also makes spectral skills last longer and grant life force on use. This is an incredibly useful trait since Lich Form is a spectral skill. With this we can increase the duration of Lich and reduces its cooldown. Making it much more effective as a burst elite.
This trait makes life force drain much slower while in Shroud. It also makes Shroud skills recharge faster. This is useful for DS builds to allow you to stay in Shroud for much longer. It is also useful for other builds just to allow you to cast Tainted Shackles, Dark Path and Doom more frequently.
This trait makes you deal more damage while you have over 50% life force. This is small damage boost. But it is important to remember to maintain your life force effectively. Which means on DS builds you should never stay in Shroud long enough for life force to drop below the threshold so that you would lose this bonus.
This trait grants 50% critical chance while in Shroud. This is an incredibly powerful trait for the core Necromancer. It is essential for DS builds without Reaper and it also helps other builds with AoE burst rotations using Wells and Life Transfer.
This trait grants stability and stun breaks when you enter Shroud. It is not particularly useful in most PvE content. But there are situations where it could help considerably with survivability. Builds that do not camp DS might get more use out of this trait than Death Perception.
This trait adds burn on hit to Shroud skill 1. This is not very useful on classic Necromancer builds. However it has great potential on Reaper for both condition and direct damage builds in solo situations when using Spite.
Elite Specialization: Reaper
The Reaper is the first elite specialisation for the Necromancer and it is only available to those who have bought Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns. The Reaper grants the Necromancer access to the greatsword, a new set of shroud skills and shout skills. Along with various traits to boost the effectiveness of these new tools. You cannot use the greatsword, shouts or the new Reaper’s Shroud unless you have equipped the Reaper Specialisation as one of your 3 specialisation choices.
The greatsword provides the Reaper with a very high direct damage melee weapon. It hits hard but is very slow to compensate for this. It also has some debuff conditions and some CC to give it a control and direct damage theme.
The greatsword auto-attack provides a very slow but high damage chain. It has direct damage DPS almost equal to that of the dagger. But due to its slow nature it is significantly less reliable when dodging. The final hit of the chain applies 2 seconds of chill. This makes a good auto-attack to use for keeping mobs permanently chilled. Taking the Deathly Chill trait makes this auto-attack potentially do more damage than dagger when you can attack without interruption. It also generates a small amount of life force.
This is a very hard hitting skill. It is one of the biggest single hit damaging strikes in the game. And it is only on an 8 second recharge. Its slow cast time and large aftercast make it quite clunky to use. But it is still always a huge damage increase. It also has no recharge when it successfully hits an enemy that is downed or has less than 50% health. This makes it incredibly powerful for finishing off mobs and providing the highest damaging auto-attack in the game when fighting low health bosses.
This skill provides a short range arc of low damage that hits multiple times, applies vulnerability and generates life force. The damage is very weak and in most groups vulnerability should not be an issue. So this skill is rather useless. It is however good for generating emergency life force. Or providing vulnerability in the open world. It should not be used for anything else as it is a DPS loss to cast.
This skill creates a dark field at the Reaper’s feet that pulses blind and cripple every 2 seconds for a total of 4 pulses. It also deals quite high overall damage. And the field expands with each pulse. Due to the delay between pulses the blind is not particularly useful on very large groups of enemies. However it is still very helpful as a defensive skill. The dark field can also be used to create leeching bolts that provide bonus damage and healing. This skill is always a damage increase. So cast whenever possible if you do not need the utility of the blinds. As with other fields, care should be take to avoid overwriting more important combo fields.
This skill tosses a spectral scythe at foes in front of you and pulling them back to you. It deals moderate damage, applies chill and generates some life force per foe hit. This is a very useful skill for pulling groups of enemies together so they can be bursted down quickly. It is also useful to maintain chill and gain damage through Deathly Chill. It is however unreliable to pull mobs at times and quite hard to aim unless you have a target selected. The pull and chill also makes it a decent skill for damaging breakbars.
Reaper’s Shroud works very much the same as the core Necromancer’s Death Shroud. However it has a different set of skills and is more melee and AoE focused. Compared to Death Shroud’s more ranged and single target focus.
The auto-attack for Reaper’s Shroud provides a moderately high damage chain which generates a small amount of life force on the final strike. Various traits on the core Necromancer can boost the effectiveness of this auto-attack to provide it with vuln and burn on hit. It can also be traited with Reaper’s Onslaught to gain increased attack speed. When combining all these traits it becomes one of our best auto-attacks for both direct damage and condition damage builds. Unfortunately it relies too heavily on good life force management. So in general the alternatives provide much better results in real situations.
This skill makes the Reaper charge forward while dealing damage and blocking projectiles. At the end of the charge it blinds in an area. It is also a leap finisher. The damage is spread out through 10 hits which should all hit if used in melee range of a target. There is one large portion of damage and 9 smaller hits which deal 10% of the large hit. Due to its relatively short cast time this skill is actually a small DPS increase. It can and should be used whenever possible on both direct and condition damage builds as it deals good direct damage and can also proc a lot of lifesteal and bleeds. The blind can also provide an extra source of chill if you have Chilling Darkness equipped.
This skill can be activated to provide pulsing stability while in Shroud for 8 seconds. However if you leave Shroud it will deactivate automatically. While you have the pulsing dark armour active you also gain access to a secondary skill. This allows you to shatter your dark armour to provide a low range AoE fear. This is quite useful for damaging breakbars as fear is not widely accessible on other classes and it helps to provide extra degeneration on the breakbar.
This ability provides a damaging dealing AoE attack which hits 12 times and inflicts poison on every hit. This is quite a good skill on condition builds. And is also a very small DPS increase on moderate to high armour enemies when using direct damage builds while the enemy is above 50% health. It is also a whirl finisher which can be used inside various field to provide a number of useful combo bolts. If used inside a dark field provided by your Nightfall or your wells it can add quite a bit of damage through leeching bolts. Casting it in a poison or fire field also adds quite a bit of extra damage.
This skill provides a slow cast time high damage attack which stuns a single target and provides an AoE ice field that pulses low duration chill. Its damage scales depending on the health of the target. Due to its cast time it is generally never worth casting just for the damage on direct damage builds. Its damage is only good when used on foes below 25% health. But Gravedigger deals more damage in that situation. Its slow cast also makes it quite poor for breakbars. You are better off using Terrify and Golem Charge along with other soft CC skills. It’s only real use is helping to provide extra chill on a target to keep them locked down. But usage of this skill should be avoided as much as possible in favour of the many better alternatives. The ice field can be used to provide frost armour or chilling bolts. But neither of these are particularly useful.
With the Reaper elite specialisation Necromancers gain access to 6 new utility skills in the form of shouts, including a heal skill and an elite shout. These shouts have a common theme. They are more effective against multiple foes as their effects scale based on the number of enemies they hit. They are also more aggressive and as such they deal damage when cast.
This is the heal shout. It provides a very low recharge and relatively short cast time heal that generates 4% life force and deals damage. You gain an extra 4% life force for each extra enemy hit. The base heal is quite low but due to the low recharge and cast time it’s not a bad heal. I would still regard Blood Fiend as superior. But “Your soul is mine!” can be used out of combat to grant some life force while waiting around for allies to get ready.
This shout skill converts boons on enemies into vulnerability and makes the Reaper’s attacks unblockable for a short duration. The boon corruption and vulnerability is rather useless as those effects can be gained elsewhere. The unblockable effect is potentially useful in niche situations. But it lasts for such a short duration and is only available to the caster. This combined with its half second cast time makes it quite a lackluster skill.
This shout is the best new utility skill Necromancer was provided with. This shout is instant cast and provides damage. In addition to this it summon a shambling horror plus additional horrors for each nearby enemy struck. These shambling horrors absorb damage for their master as long as they are attacking. This makes the skill incredibly useful for an extra form of defence. Due to this skill potentially summoning a lot of minions it also has a great synergy with traits like Death Nova, Necromantic Corruption and Flesh of the Master. It is by no means a necessary skill. But it has a wide range of uses and provides a great source of defence while also maintaining passive damage through the minions themselves.
This is another instant cast shout skill. It deals damage and provides a relatively long duration chill to each foe struck. It also transfers conditions for each foe struck. It transfer 1 per foe which makes it a rather poor alternative to transfer conditions. You are better off using Deathly Swarm if you need to transfer. But the very low recharge, long chill and instant cast time makes this skill quite good for an extra form of chill and damage. If you lack chill and need an extra source then this is a pretty good choice to fill in that gap.
This shout is also instant cast. Ir provides damage and grants might to yourself and inflicting weakness on foes struck. You gain additional might per foe struck. It is also a stun break on a 30 second recharge. If traited with Augury of Death it provides a very low cooldown stun break. But otherwise it doesn’t have much use in PvE. The might is often provided for in a group and for solo situations it’s not long enough duration to justify using.
This is the elite shout for the Reaper. This shout has a very high cast time but provides a long duration chill and 2 second stun to all foes struck in a 600 unit radius. It also grants 2 stacks of stability per foe struck and deals reasonably high damage. This skill is quite useful for the long duration stun and chill. But due to the very long cast time and the short stun duration in comparison to this. I would never recommend taking this elite over Lich Form or Flesh Golem unless you absolutely need the AoE stun and chill. Flesh Golem provides a better breakbar destroyer on a single target and their are better alternatives to getting chill.
Equipping this specialisation grants the Necromancer access to shouts, Reaper’s Shroud and the ability to use a greatsword. This specialisation is highly useful at boosting the effectiveness of many types of Necromancer builds particularly in PvE.
This trait makes shouts recharge 10% faster and steal life on hit. Shouts also recharge 5% faster for each foe struck. This is quite a useful trait for getting “Rise!” on a much lower cooldown in fights with lots of additional mobs. It also helps with chill uptime when using “Suffer!”.
This is the standard trait to use on both direct damage and condition Reaper builds. It causes critical hits on chilled foes to cause a small explosion that deals damage and applies chill to that foe and adjacent foes. This is really useful for sustaining chill on a target. It also adds small free damage and is even more potent when using Deathly Chill. It only has a 10 second cooldown so when used with some condition duration, this plus a few other minor sources of chill can make permanent chill uptime very easy to maintain
This is single handedly the best trait available to Reaper. This trait causes you to have increased critical chance against foes with vulnerability. With 25 stacks of vulnerability it is a bonus of 50% critical chance on that foe. Since vulnerability is very easy to cap at 25 in groups this trait becomes very strong and makes Reaper the only class that can completely disregard fury and bonus precision. This is what makes Valkyrie armour a genuinely strong possibility for the Reaper.
This grandmaster trait is a strong pick for a sustain option. It grants you lifeforce when you apply a boon to yourself while outside shroud. But while inside shroud it grants health to you instead. This means you can recover life force quickly outside shroud and then enter shroud to heal your base health pool. Unfortunately it only works on self applied boons which means it needs to be coupled with traits like Siphoned Power and Reaper’s Might from the Spite line.
This is a free damage trait. It makes all chill you apply deal condition damage. This quite a nice boost to condition Reaper builds. But it is also the best option for direct damage builds since they also apply chill passively. In a situation where there are multiple Reaper’s in a group you may want to consider avoiding this trait and avoiding apply extra chills to allow the Reaper with higher condition damage to maintain higher Deathly Chill damage.
This trait increases the attack speed of Reaper’s Shroud auto-attack by 15%. It also makes killing foes reduce the recharge of other shroud skills by 5 seconds per kill. This is a decent trait for Reaper’s Shroud focused builds. But the best condition and direct damage builds do not camp Reaper’s Shroud auto-attack, so this trait is useless for those builds. Because it increases attack speed it makes the auto-attack potentially very strong. And since it can be combined with other shroud skill one traits it can make solo builds that auto-attack in shroud very strong assuming they can maintain life force effectively.
The greatsword build is the absolute best direct damage build available to Necromancers. It is what you want to run in most organised groups when you don’t need a condition build. It has very high burst and some of the best damage in the game when used against foes below 50% health. it is however quite reliant on your group for buffing. It can also be adapted to take on the tanking role in raids due to it having very good passive sustain and base durability. To do this all you need to do is make sure you have more toughness than the rest of the group. In organised groups this can simply be the use of a single +4 toughness infusion on an amulet. Using this build for tanking or just for pure damage is a strong choice for raids.
The build focuses on maximising damage outside of shroud. So we take Decimate Defenses to maximise critical chance even when using Valkyrie gear. Chilling Nova and Deathly Chill add free passive damage to the build. Blood Magic adds more overall damage than Soul Reaping simply because it puts your damaging wells on a lower cooldown and adds enough life steal to you and your group to make up for the loss of Strength of Undeath. In organised groups vuln is capped so Rending Shroud is pointless. Which means Chill of Death is the better option as it adds more free damage.
The build has a rather simple but long rotation. Your big cooldown skills such as Wells and Nightfall should be cast whenever possible. The rest of the rotation consists of priority skills. Which are as follows in priority order; Well of Suffering, Nightfall, Gravedigger, Death’s Charge, Well of Corruption, Reaper’s Touch and Soul Spiral. Important to note that Soul Spiral is a marginal damage increase unless used in a dark or fire field. So if there is no field then it can be left out of the rotation.
On targets above 50% health you should start with Gravedigger followed by Nightfall then drop both Wells. Enter shroud and cast Soul Spiral then Death’s Charge. Exit shroud and cast auto-attack until Gravedigger is available. Cast Gravedigger then immediately swap to dagger focus. Then cast Reaper’s Touch and auto-attack until you can enter shroud. Then cast Death’s Charge again and continue to auto-attack on dagger. Once you can swap weapons do so and cast Gravedigger immediately. Auto-attack on greatsword until you can cast Death’s Charge then go back to greatsword and auto-attack until a second Gravedigger. Then go back to dagger and use Reaper’s Touch etc. Continue to repeat until the enemy is below 50% health.
On targets below 50% health the rotation becomes very simple and some of the skills should no longer be cast unless needed for utility reasons. The rotation involves just spamming Gravedigger and only interrupting to cast both Wells and Nightfall.
This build is designed to maximise condition damage on the Reaper. It is designed around the idea of having strong ranged condition pressure without much danger of damage down time. It also utilises Deathly Chill to gain bonus damage passively assuming the rest of the group isn’t over stacking chill. Which would prevent you from applying your own damaging chills.
Curses is taken to boost condition damage and duration while using a scepter. Master of Corruption is taken to make Blood is Power and Corrosive Poison Cloud more potent for condition damage. Chilling Darkness is used to make Deathly Swarm and Death’s Charge provide damaging chills. Blood Magic provides the group with Vampiric Presence and gives you plenty of selfish sustain. It also allows you to take Quickening Thirst which will lower the cooldown of dagger offhand skills.
Lich Form is taken to cast Mark of Horror which will contribute a decent amount of extra bleeds passively due to jagged horrors being almost immortal in PvE. “Suffer!” is also taken to help maintain permanent chill. It can also be used to clear a single negative condition such as weakness from casting Corrosive Poison Cloud.
Raid Condition Build
This build is designed to maximise condition damage in a raid environment. It is built around the idea of fights lasting over several minutes so conditions can reach their maximum potential and continue to maintain that level for the majority of the fight. Also due to the design of the build it can even take the role of tank due to passive toughness from Flesh of the Master.
The idea behind the build is to maximise condition damage through the use of scepter and minions. Lich Form is take to summon jagged horrors which provide extra sources of bleeding. They are also partially immune to all damage so they stay alive for a long time especially with a bit of healing from the raid group. If they do die then they will proc Death Nova for some additional poison damage.
Curses is taken to boost condition damage and duration while using a scepter. Master of Corruption is taken to make Blood is Power and Corrosive Poison Cloud more potent for condition damage. Necromantic Corruption from Death Magic allows the self conditions from these abilities to be transferred via jagged horrors even if Deathly Swarm is not available. And regarding Blood Magic, Quickening Thirst is used to get lower cooldowns on dagger offhand. Vampiric Presence is just a nice damage and sustain increase for the group. Vampiric adds a lot of damage and sustain when you have over 10 minions alive.
To use the build you simply enter Lich Form and cast Mark of Horror immediately. Then leave Lich Form and use Blood is Power then Deathly Swarm. Then cast Grasping Dead followed by Corrosive Poison Cloud, Feast of Corruption, Tainted Shackles and finally Enfeebling Blood. Then continue to cast your condition damage skills on cooldown with the same priority order and scepter auto-attack in between. Always make sure you cast Deathly Swarm after Blood is Power and make sure you do not waste the transfer on negative conditions from Corrosive Poison cloud. You can also add Dark Path to the rotation if it is safe to do so. But positioning is important in raids so consider the timing of this skill carefully.
The dagger build is your standard maximum damage build for organised groups if you do not have access to Reaper. It is however quite reliant on your group’s ability to buff and support the Necromancer. Particularly concerning critical chance. The idea behind this build is to do as much damage as possible in a short time frame. Basically it is used for burst. Which in an organised group should be sufficient for the majority of boss fights currently in game.
The build focuses on maximising personal damage while using Lich Form for burst. And also providing the group with a small but beneficial DPS increase. This comes in the form of Vampiric Presence in Blood Magic. Which also helps the group sustain effectively. Making it much easier for the entire group to maintain their Scholar runes bonuses throughout a fight.
This build uses a standard dagger rotation for extended fights. However for optimal use in organised groups you will want to burst effectively. The standard method is to start the fight with Locust Swarm then swap to focus and cast Reaper’s Touch. Enter Death Shroud and cast Tainted Shackles then drop Well of Suffering followed by Well of Corruption and immediately enter Lich Form. Once in Lich Form you should spam Deathly Claws for as long as possible. If the fight lasts any longer then proceed to use dagger, wells and tainted shackles to finish.
For further optimisation you can pre-cast certain skills before getting into combat. In particular staff marks. If a boss starts off as allied before turning hostile then you can place your damaging marks underneath and then swap back to your regular weapons before being put into combat. Also if you know a fight is only going to last for a short duration you can pre-cast Locust swarm out of combat and swap to an offhand dagger before getting into combat. This provides you with Deathly Swarm as an extra damaging skill. If Reaper’s Touch fails to bounce then Deathly Swarm actually provides a greater damage increase than focus.
Death Shroud Build
The DS build is a build focused on the necromancers self reliance. It provides the Necromancer with high personal damage along with sufficient selfish self buffing to achieve maximum damage outside of an organised group. As the name suggests it revolves around camping Death Shroud. This build is ideal for casual pugging due to its ease of play and easily obtained maximum potential. The three specialisations used in this build are Spite, Death Magic and Soul Reaping.
For general use we want to start the fight with dagger plus warhorn, summon all minions and engage with Locust Swarm. This provides further life force generation after we enter Shroud because it continues to tick while in Shroud. After casting Locust Swarm we immediately swap to staff, drop both damaging wells and enter Shroud. In Shroud we cast Tainted Shackles and then spam Life Blast until we reach 50% life force. At this point we leave Shroud and swap to dagger to restore life force to repeat the rotation. Staff is used because it has a higher base weapon damage compared to one handed weapons. This makes Shroud skills do slightly more damage while wielding the staff.
In Spite the traits are fairly obvious. The minors all help with self buffing. Spiteful Talisman gives a small damage boost. Rending Shroud will provide plenty of vulnerability while camping Shroud. And Close to Death provides a huge damage boost.
Death Magic is chosen because it provides Deadly Strength which boosts your power based on your toughness. The line also provides us with plenty of ways to gain additional toughness which has synergy with this trait. We use Flesh of the Master and take several minions to boost our toughness. The minions also act as meat shields and make it easier to survive and stay in Shroud for longer. We also take Corrupter’s Fervor because simply staying in Shroud with this trait and Rending Shroud will provide us with a permanent 10 stacks. Which gives us 300 toughness to further boost our power. We can use Superior Sharpening Stones to further capitalise on this bonus toughness and convert it into power. However in situations where slaying potions are available they should be used instead.
Soul Reaping provides us with Unyielding Blast which further increases our vulnerability stacking capabilities. We also take Vital Persistence to extend the time we can camp Shroud. And then we take Death Perception to maximise our critical chance inside Shroud. We always want to leave Shroud and restore life force at 50% because of the Strength of Undeath minor. In some situations you may want to use Lich Form instead of a Flesh Golem due to Lich providing very high burst potential. In such cases you should swap Vital Persistence for Spectral Mastery to gain extended Lich Form duration.
Solo Condition Build
This build is focused around condition damage. Necromancers aren’t very good at condition damage compared to many other classes. And this is due to their poor access to high damaging conditions such as burn, confusion and poison. Condition Necromancers main source of condition damage is from bleeding. This particular build is designed for disorganised groups or solo content for this reason. In an organised group you are much better off going for a direct damage build when using the core Necromancer for most content.
The build is designed to be self reliant with condition damage. So spite is picked to take Signets of Suffering. Which provides the Necromancer with the ability to might stack very effectively. This is why most of the utility skills are also signets. In situations against multiple enemies Epidemic might be worth taking instead of Plague Signet. Spite also gives us access to Rending Shroud which provides us with Vulnerability. Flashing Death Shroud will proc this on nearby foes. But as a condition Necromancer you will also want to use Shroud to cast Tainted Shackles and Dark Path on foes. So Rending Shroud should get plenty of use and provide plenty of vulnerability. We can also take Spiteful Talisman for a small damage boost. But the alternative of Bitter Chill is also a very good choice because Dark Path will then apply vulnerability and further boost our condition damage.
To use this build you want to use a Scepter and dagger on both weapon sets. These can be split onto each set so you only need one of each weapon. But you may want extras for different sigil choices. The rotation involves using Grasping Dead, Feast of Corruption and Enfeebling Blood whenever they are available. The same should be done with Tainted Shackles and Dark Path to maximise bleed and torment stacks. If you are using an on swap sigil such as Sigil of Battle then you should swap between sets as much as possible. If you are not then you can simply use an alternative weapon of your choice in the second weapon set. For utility use you should cast signets, including the heal, whenever possible. Cast Blood is Power frequently but always make sure you have a transfer available after use. This can be either Plague Signet or Deathly Swarm.
Gear & Consumables
To gear the Necromancer in PvE you want to use a full set of offensive glass gear. This is because PvE is about knowing the encounters and using active defence and team support to avoid and mitigate damage. This means vitality, toughness and healing power are largely redundant stats for PvE. The main gear sets used in PvE are Berserker, Sinister and Vipers. And Valkyrie for fully optimised Reaper’s in organised groups that provide permanent fury, capped vulnerability and bonus precision from Banner of Discipline or Spotter.
Berserker is a direct damage set which has a main stat of power. This is the standard PvE gear most should use. Which makes it very good for classes and builds which lack a bit of critical chance. Valkyrie provides all the power and ferocity that Berserker does but trades precision for vitality. Precision is not needed on Reaper’s that take Decimate Defences or DS Necromancers that take Death Perception. For this reason Valkyrie gear is better in organised groups because you can then use Furious Maintenance Oil to boost your ferocity further and you should still be at 100% critical chance. This results in slightly higher DPS than Berserker with Toxic Sharpening Stones. If Slaying Potions are a possibility then they are still the best choice.
Sinister is a condition main stat set which also has some decent direct damage and Vipers is a new stat combo which has more power but less precision and condition damage than Sinister. However the extra condition duration and the higher power makes it a far superior choice to Sinister on condition builds up until the point where you have 100% bonus condition duration. After that point you should use Sinister.
For rune choice we primarily want Scholar runes for direct damage builds. They are flat out the best PvE runes in the game. But they do require you to maintain above 90% health to achieve that maximum damage. Even if you cannot maintain this bonus throughout the whole fight they are still a very strong choice for pure direct damage builds. Alternatively for the DS build you can also use Strength runes if you expect to lack might from your group. For solo and suboptimal groups when using condition builds Aristocracy runes are just perfect for the Necromancer. They help with might and also boost condition damage. For condition builds in decent groups you should use 5 Nightmare runes and 1 rune of Antitoxin.
As far as sigil choice goes you will want to prioritise flat damage boost sigils for direct damage builds. So for specific dungeons that would be slaying sigils along with night or force sigils. In night time dungeons you would use night and slaying or night and force. In daytime dungeons and fractals you may find yourself using Force and Air or Force and Frailty which gives bonus vulnerability. Generally speaking it’s safe to use Force and Air for your standard sigils for all content if you do not have extra weapons to spare. And a standard sigil every Necromancer will probably use at some point is the energy sigil. Due to the Necromancers lack of active defence this sigil is practically required in a lot of solo situations or more challenging encounters. Sigil of Strength is also a possible alternative in some situations to help with personal might generation. For condition builds your main choices are Sigil of Malice and Sigil of Earth. However Sigil of Bursting could also be a decent choice if you already have enough condition duration.
- Slice of Candied Dragon Roll – Provides precision and life steal on critical hit. Useful cheap food for builds that lack critical chance.
- Plate of Steak and Asparagus – Provides power and precision. Good all-round cheap food for any direct damage build.
- Experimental Remnants – Provides bonus damage while moving and swiftness on kill. This is the best cheap damaging food you can get for the Necromancer. But it is obtained through events in the Cursed Shore.
- Koi Cake – Provides condition duration and condition damage. This is what you want to use for condition builds.
- Bowl of Sweet and Spicy Beans – Provides condition duration and power. This is good for direct damage builds that want to help their party by stacking vulnerability more effectively.
- Fried Golden Dumplings – Provides boon duration and might on critical hit. This is very effective at self buffing with might. A good choice for soloing due to the might generation.
- Bowl of Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash Soup – Provides power and ferocity. This is a very good food choice for direct damage builds when moving around a lot is not an option.
- Curry Butternut Squash Soup – Provides precision and ferocity. This is a very good food choice for builds that really lack critical chance.
- Bowl of Seaweed Salad – Provides bonus damage while moving and swiftness on kill. This is the absolute best food you can use on a direct damage Necromancer build.
- Slaying Potions – These provide bonus damage to certain enemy types. They will also reduce incoming damage from those types of enemies. Slaying potions are not available for every type of enemy. But where possible these should always be used as they are the best utility nourishment you can get. They are also very cheap. For more information about what Slaying Potions are relevant for each dungeon and encounter see gw2dungeons.net.
- Toxic Sharpening Stone – Provides bonus power and bonus condition duration. This is the best utility nourishment choice for direct damage builds when no Slaying Potions are available and you are not using Valkyrie gear. This would be a pretty standard choice for Raids and Fractals for most people.
- Furious Maintenance Oil – Provides bonus vitality and converts 10% vitality into ferocity. This is the best utility nourishment choice for direct damage builds when no Slaying Potions are available and if you are using a full set of Valkyrie gear. If you are not using Valkyrie gear then do not use this nourishment.
- Superior Sharpening Stone – Provides bonus power based on your toughness and vitality. This is a good relatively cheap utility nourishment choice for direct damage builds when there is no relevant slaying potion to choose from.
- Master Maintenance Oil – Provides bonus precision based on your toughness and vitality. This is another good utility nourishment choice for direct damage builds when there is no relevant slaying potion to choose from. It is more suitable for builds that lack critical chance.
- Toxic Focusing Crystal – Provides condition damage and condition duration. This nourishment is ideal for condition builds. But in some cases slaying potions may still be better even on condition builds, assuming the use of Sinister gear.
- Scale Venom – Provides a small chance to inflict weakness and vulnerability when you strike a foe. This is a good cheap nourishment choice for when you don’t have relevant slaying potions and you don’t want to use a more expensive alternative. A common choice for casual Fractal runs.
These consumables are not required. But they are helpful extras that might be worth taking along with you. They are all obtained from vendors found throughout the open world. For a full list of these consumables and where to obtain them see this guide. The following consumables are probably the most common and useful ones you might see players use.
- Harpy Feathers – Provides 3 second stealth on a 6 second recharge. This can be chained with other stealth consumables to allow for safe skipping past dangerous groups of mobs. Also blinds nearby foes which can place you in combat so be careful when using this for skipping.
- Order of Whispers Spy Kit – Provides 3 second stealth on a 60 second recharge. Very similar to Harpy Feathers except for the longer recharge. You can chain this with Harpy Feathers to obtain 9 seconds of stealth (Feathers > Spy Kit > Feathers).
- Ash Legion Spy Kit – Provides camouflage for 10 seconds on a 60 second recharge. Camouflage is a stealth, however moving will reveal you. This is useful for dropping aggro or standing on pressure plates in complete safety.
- Pot of Hylek Poison – Creates a bundle with 2 abilities which can be dropped and picked up again. The first ability gives you 10 seconds of swiftness on a 15 second recharge. The second ability destroys the bundle and places a poisonous cloud in the area. The first ability is very useful for classes with low access to swiftness.
- Fire Elemental Powder – Summons an Ember to fight for you for 5 minutes or until it dies. Once used it places a debuff on you which prevents you from using it again on that character for 30 minutes. The Ember provides a DPS boost and regular fire fields through its lava font attack. It can also be used as a temporary decoy much like any other pet.
- Ogre Pet Whistle – Summons on Ogre Pet to fight for you for 5 minutes or until it dies. Once used it places a debuff on you which prevents you from using it again on that character for 30 minutes. Much like the Ember it provides a small DPS increase and can be used as a decoy to take aggro. You can also use this item while knocked down and it will act as a stun break.
About the Author
Spoj is a member of Retaliate, a high end PvE guild for Guild Wars 2. Retaliate is a long time guild that has been involved in the speed clear scene from the very beginning. It is home to some of the best PvE players in the game. Considered one of the top speed clear guilds in Guild Wars 2 and host to a number of highly skilled solo players.
Spoj is one of the core long time members of Retaliate and has much experience on all classes in an organised PvE environment. But he also has a particular interest and passion for the Necromancer. He has been involved in a few records set by the guild in the past. And is currently involved in managing and approving records set submitted by the community on gw2dungeons.net. His main is the Necromancer and as such he is regarded as one of the go to people to answer any questions about the Necromancer in PvE.
Want to offer advice for the guide? Write to Spoj in game. Constructive criticism and fresh ideas are always welcome! Much of the knowledge in this guide has been developed from healthy discussion with many different types of people across the community. Special shout out to Sublimatio for his help with testing and build ideas.