Hello Everyone. I wanted to make this guide ever since I noticed that even a semi-comprehensive guide for Mesmer use did not exist here and, as Lord Arrow stated, the last remnants of comprehensive guides were lost when the Presearing.com forums were lost to the ether. I remember reading that guide and thinking to myself that there was no other profession I wanted to walk hand in hand to glory. It was fun and exciting and new and I was all about. While the Mesmer gains a bad reputation and is disgustingly under-represented in pre-searing (based off no tangible proof) I will do my best to take all of you fellow, aspiring Mesmers by the gloves so we may step boldly into the future.
Let's begin by defining the Mesmer class:
The Mesmer is not content with living in reality—Mesmers prefer to create their own realities. Mesmers are the mental masters of illusion, control, and domination, subverting an enemy's Energy for their own purposes and supporting the entire party in battle with powerful, mind-bending magic. Domination skills put Mesmers in command of a foe's Health and Energy, while Illusion can inflict damage, slow an enemy, and drain away the powers of those that oppose them. The Mesmer can call on Inspiration to steal Energy directly from the opposition, and the primary Memser attribute Fast Casting works just like it sounds—you can sling your spells at a much higher rate than any other profession. The Mesmer is powerful as a damage-dealing spellcaster, a support player, or both. They should usually avoid the front lines, but can turn the tide of most any fight in seconds.
From this quote alone we can take out that Mesmers are cool AF.
Now we should look at the skills of a Mesmer to better familiarize ourselves with what y'all will be working with when you decide to create your Mesmer. To do this, we need to break down our 4 attributes: Fast Casting, Domination, Inspiration, and Illusion
Attributes & Skills:
Straight forward enough. The more points we put into this, the faster we can cast spells. It's important to notice that after Me/E fire magic spammers were deemed "too BS for existence" years back, fast casting only affects Non-Mesmer spells that have activation less than 2 Seconds. The exact wiki quote is as follows: (Fast Casting decreases the activation time of your Spells and Signets. (No effect for non-Mesmer skills with an activation time less than 2 seconds.) In PvE, each rank of Fast Casting decreases the recharge time for your Mesmer Spells by 3%). Increasing Fast Casting decreases recharge time as well which is pretty cool. Quickly cast all your spells and have them all recharge faster to do it again. Very nice.
Skills: There are no fast casting skills in Pre-searing
This is your main source of damage in Pre-Searing when killing charr. Empathy+Frenzy annihilates Bladestorm/Axe Fiend charr as well as hunters and chaots. You'll find that chaots cast few spells since you'll rarely be enchanted, energy burn is on a long cooldown, and they don't have ether feast, illusion of haste like Ghast Ashpyre. Backfire is essential to killing Ashen claws and Shamans as these charr love casting spells and heals. Shatter delusions is vital spike damage to spike a shaman, Blaze, or any other charr before they can heal/kill you. Domination magic is your key killing attribute and should be what you look to put the most points in.
Skills: Shatter Delusions, Backfire, Empathy
Super good for healing and as a Mesmer it's all you get. Pros: 5 energy, not an enchantment heal, quick cast time.
Cons: Requires investment to be worth much health, requires aggro to heal, longer cooldown comparatively to other healing abilities. I generally have about 50/50 split between fast casting and inspiration for attribute points. This is only because I have a second profession and points are more spread.
Skills: Ether Feast
These are all the abilities that involve "conjuring" or "imagining" in the name. The idea is that they are all in the enemy's head and are being driven insane by all the smoke and mirrors. Illusion magic is cool...in post-searing. Here it's little more than an energy pit that should only be used in incredibly specific circumstances or not at all. Imagined burden has long been deemed as laughable and the most useless skill in Pre-searing. And I would agree. It serves little to no purpose with the only idea I can possibly fathom being to slow Vaatlaw Doomtooth from running away so you can kill him in that one quest or take...a picture of him? Your next move is conjure phantasm which requires a large attribute investment to be useful in most ways. It's important to remember that increasing illusion magic does not increase the degeneration of Conjure Phantasm, only the duration. The damage over time vs the energy cost vs the value other spells give comparatively (backfire, empathy) usually makes this pointless and not worth the attribute points. Still I take it on my skill bar and I'll tell you why later (it's totally optional)
Skills: Imagined Burden, Conjure Phantasm
And those are the skills in a nutshell. These are strictly Mesmer skills without looking at Second Professions. Many players prefer to not take a second profession and instead play around with some options. That's totally fine. Others, like myself, were fed up with death leveling and were desperate to get any and all experience before driving a nail through their head and chances are they took a second profession. To be quite honest, I am pretty sure I chose the one I did because the numbers told me I'd get more experience. That's the only reason. Is my second profession/build optimal to farming? Maybe, maybe not. This also was a time before it was possible to obtain all the skills of the second profession in pre-searing and while that didn't influence my choice to be who I am today, I can now discuss taking a secondary with the confidence that you won't be missing out on a pivotal spell. Sadly flare no longer works with fast casting.
Since I am a Mesmer/Necromancer a lot of the farming guide will focus around the use of those skills. That being said, it should be simple enough to replace "and here is when I use deathly swarm" with "and here is when I use firestorm/banish/symbol of wrath/hammer bash?? in case you decide to go that route. Before I start the Northlands guide however, I would like to discuss the possibilities of your second profession. If you have no intention of ever taking a secondary profession feel free to skip by all this and head straight to the part where I discuss farming.
I'll start here since it is what I have been playing as for the last 8 years in pre-searing
The Necromancer Secondary grants you access a slew of skills that either fall into the category of "it's a trap" or "hey this is going well" With this secondary profession I have my skill bar set up as follows:
Backfire/Empathy/Deathly Swarm/Conjure Phantasm/Shatter Delusions/Ether Feast/Blood Renewal/Animate Bone Horror
Let's break it down. Backfire is critical for shaman and ashen claw. Empathy for Melee, hunter, chaot. Deathly swarm can be used for spike damage. Charr aren't the dumbest creatures, believe it or not, and wont actively kill themselves with backfire like they would empathy. At high enough domination, backfire will do too much damage to ashen claws for them to cast more than 1 spell in order to stay alive. This is where deathly swarm comes it. Think of it like a poor mans targeted firestorm that does spike damage rather than damage over time. Luckily they can't run out of it.
Remember what I said before about Conjure Phantasm. How it's incredibly niche and potentially useless? Well here is one use I love and potentially the only one I know. This is to be used specifically against 2 melee charr (axe/blade). Cast Empathy on one, target the other one (w/o empathy) and cast deathly swarm on it. Chances are it would have cast frenzy by now and will take double damage from deathly swarm. Now cast conjure phantasm and shatter it instantly to get the spike damage during frenzy and kill it. This way you can take down both melee charr without having to stand and wait for empathy to recharge and before they can be healed (usually). Since you are a caster profession standing and tanking melee hits is not your forte. Conjure Phantasm is also a good "cover hex" or a hex that you can cast and shatter for damage without removing your more important hexes such as backfire or empathy. Empathy can also be used as a cover hex to backfire for Ashen Claws and Shamans. Since they won't cast spells if backfire will kill them, they'll start to auto attack. This means they'll take damage from empathy and allows you to safely shatter a hex while keeping the main one on.
Normally shatter delusions should only be used to finish off charr and the idea of "cover hexes" should really only be in place in the event you aren't sure shatter delusions will kill them. It sounds odd, but remember that Mesmers are all about timing. Mis-time backfire and you may not apply it before an ashen claw casts all it's spells or have it wear off before a shaman decides to heal another. The same applies for empathy. You do not have unlimited energy. It's very easy to run OOM as a mesmer and blindly wasting 15 energy can really hinder you. Miscasting shatter delusions in which the charr doesn't die means they have time to be healed and now you're low on energy, and there's a good chance the spells you need are on CD while you're being attacked. Yikes.
Use Ether Feast to Heal, Blood Renewal after you kill the chaots or in between fights to heal faster and animate bone minions whenever you feel like it. They really aren't necessary unless you are farming past the altar where there is little to no protection. But dang, they are fun.
On paper, soul barbs sounds fun since you are always casting hexes. However, the energy cost to cast this hex spell that causes, at most, 15-20 extra damage per hex you cast on the target when there's a good chance the most will be 2 just isn't worth it. The energy could easily be spent better somewhere else and you would still clear faster. I love the idea of soul barbs, and I would love for it to work, but for solo hunting I see no point. Maybe if you were dual hunting with another mesmer or necromancer and made sure to coordinate your spells. Otherwise skip it.
Life Siphon and Faintheartedness = energy depletion. You simply cannot put enough attribute points into all of these to have them be useful. They are both hexes and thus would be cool with Soul Barbs but combined they do less damage over time than conjure phantasm, cost more energy, and kill slower. Replace one with phantasm to shatter if you like but don't think they'll do much for you.
Vampiric Gaze and Bite never seem to be worth the energy cost in my opinion. The heal isn't bad but the damage isn't consistent enough for me and I'm really not trying to get into melee range to use vampiric bite. Plus 15 energy cost totally stinks.
Prioritize Domination Magic>Death Magic>Fast Casting=Inspiration about the same>lastly illusion if you wish. An example would be 12 Dom, 9 Death, 6 Inspiration and Fast Casting, and 2 Illusion. Feel free to play around with more fast casting but the damage from Dom and Death is hard to pass up. 6 FC means that casting time is about 1/4 faster than if it were 0 (GWW was my source)
In my humble opinion, Me/N is most likely not the best combination, but I certainly have had fun. Or at least I'm so used to how to make it work I think it's fun. If nothing else, both mesmer and necromancer spells can't be obstructed so attacking from behind walls has never been easier. Take full advantage!
This is often regarded as the best setup for a mesmer (if you're a commy). It works similar to Me/N except now you get to fast cast fire storm, which does work, and have access to Glyph of Lesser Energy. While you can't add points to energy storage you can still cut the energy cost by 10 from 2 spells (GWW) which is super neat when your core skills cost 10 and 15 energy. Now, they'll all cost 10 rather than 25 when you cast Glyph (5e), Backfire (15e), and Empathy (10e). Neat.
You also have access to blinding flash? and lightning javelin which are cool anti-melee spells. Now that you also have access to flare it could also be cool to use but could also be an energy pit since it's so spammable with or without Fastcasting. Aura of Restoration is shatterable and sadly Me/E doesn't offer the potential for a cover enchantment like a Monk could offer but big energy costs means bigger heals. Me/N doesn't offer this either but at least blood renewal doesn't require spell casts to heal. Ether feast will probably still be your main source of healing.
Probable set up will be: Glyph of Lesser Energy/Backfire/Empathy/Firestorm/Shatter Delusions/Ether Feast/Optional/Optional Arguments could be made for a number of skills (flare, javelin, blinding, res signet, aura). Let yourself be the judge of what you prefer. Chances are you won't even remember you have something in the 8th skill slot.
Again I'd say prioritize Domination, Fire Magic, Fast Casting and Inspiration. 12, 9, 7,6 or 12, 9, 6, 7. I'm not sure if higher fire magic would be better in this situation but I am a mesmer fanboy so I'll also say go for more Domination magic.
Let's look at the potential of this one. Pros and Cons and such. You know? Ranger offers a pet which is always super awesome and fun and cute and I wanna squeeze it all day. It also offers troll unguent which is a neat-o healing SKILL that can't be shattered and access to wilderness survival attribute even allows you to make the heals better (if you so choose). Besides this the ranger secondary offers you very little in terms of skills unless you really want to ditch the staff for a bow. Remember you wont have expertise to reduce the energy cost of ranger skills and fast casting wont have much influence on bow attacks or preparations. That being said, it could be worth it for the pet and troll unguent because pets are cute and healing is cool.
Probable Set Up: Backfire/Empathy/Shatter Delusions/Ether Feast/Troll Unguent/Comfort Animal (No longer need charm animal (best update ever, btw)). Two empty slots for literally anything you want. Would probably be conjure phantasm and res signet for lack of anything else and a desire to not have empty spaces on your skill bar.
Prioritize Domination, Fast Casting, Inspiration, Wilderness Survival, whatever else is left BM or Ill.
You don't really need fancy secondary spells to kill things and a pet offers vital shielding potential. I've never done this but it'll work fine.
Monk as a secondary seems a little excessive but is always a safe option and offers interesting potential in smiting/healing/protection prayers. Honestly, it's tough to choose which to prioritize with this but it comes down to a simple question..Do you want to prioritize safety in healing or damage in smiting? Either way you're taking domination magic since you're a mesmer. If you want to use brute force you may have come to the wrong place and if you want to use brute force as a Me/Mo then you definitely came to the wrong place. It's tough to think of splitting your attribute points in so many directions to actually make your skills worth using. While it doesn't make sense to take so many healing skills due to energy costs or lack of necessity, taking domination, fast casting, healing, protection, smiting, and maybe inspiration and seeing to it that they all serve a purpose makes my head hurt.
Potential Builds: Backfire/Empathy/Shatter Delusions/Healing or Prot Enchantment X/Healing or Prot Enchantment 2/Ether Feast
Healing enchantments require cover enchantments since Chaots will shatter them. This will not only hurt you but also prevent the heal from one. That's why we bring two. Personally, I feel that you most likely wont need them with ether feast and proper usage of walls. To each their own.
Potential Build 2: Backfire/Empathy/Shatter Delusions/Bane Signet/Banish/Symbol of Wraith/Ether Feast/Healing Breeze
Here would be for more damage with your core staying the same and smiting prayers acting as spike damage. Symbol of wrath will probably be situational and would function more for dealing with multiple melee charr. I'd save healing breeze for healing between initiations or until the chaots are dead since we don't have a cover enchantment here.
I'd still prioritize Domination, Smiting, Fast Casting and Inspiration, and healing if you like. Either 12, 9, 6, 6, 2 or even 12, 9, 7, 6, 0 with the FC and Inspiration being interchangeable. 0 points in healing still gives +3 regeneration which is not awful but not worth being shattered. Be careful.
I was very friendly with a player in my guild who went by Paff. He was super cool and loved collecting weapons in pre-searing. His favorite activity was to collect/farm super rare purples and compare them to the ones I got my hands on. It usually went with him showing me dual modded charr armor offhands, 18/18 domination cane, max damage tribal axe, and the list goes on. I've seen a lot of crazy drops in pre through him and I always had nothing to show him and he'd laugh at me. It was fun. One day he got on his account and had a shield drop for him that was +1 domination magic and health while hexed so naturally he told me he was going to create an offensive Me/W and see how it would work. Since then, I never saw him again. Take that for what it's worth. Me/W is not something i'll ever recommend. But, in theory, there's no reason why it wouldn't work. It won't hurt you, it just won't offer you anything or help at all. Healing Signet? Wowee.
If you must go Me/W for whatever bet you lose focus everything into obtaining alcohol and drinking the pain away. But really, just focus Domination, FC, Insp, and Ill. Don't expect to be anything more than a Me/X if you take warrior as a secondary.
So, now that we have Secondary options, let's look at how we operate North of the Wall.
Piken Square will never be this beautiful again, so make sure to explore all around and take in the sights. They truly are stunning.
When the gate opens you'll be presented with a straight path potentially leading to a few oakhearts, the occasional iris flower, and eventually your first two charr group spawns. There is a third if you go all the way back towards piken square, bang a larry, and follow the path to the titan idol which is where Ben Wolfson can be found (provided you took the quest). Unless you are really desperate for a potential purple drop we'll let this group alone. We can expect the first two groups to be oriented in a fashion similar to the picture that I totally didn't take from Lord's ranger guide. For good measure, let's consult the picture before we zoom in on the real star of the show. The green dot will represent me stopped in front of a giant wall jutting from the earth. This wall is used to deal with the group in red. The group in blue is a patrolling unit and can either be taken care of behind the wall as well or against the side of the hill and curved wall.
Wait for the melee charr to come to you before casting. Melee charr are top priority on your kill list. Assuming you are properly hidden behind walls/hills kill order should always be Axe/Blade>Shaman>Ashen Claw>Chaot>Hunter. Why? Melee charr will get in your face and beat you up. You need to remove them first. Empathy works wonders. I also use deathly swarm and shatter phantasm on the second if there is one. Use whatever you like or wait for empathy to come back up. Just make sure to heal and survive. Dying isn't the end of the world here but it makes it all longer. Shaman are next because they spam heals and smiting spells. They hinder quick takedowns and hurt you. Ashenclaws next because they are always spamming spells. Chaots should only have 1 spell to use against you on a long cooldown unless you are enchanted. I don't have enchantments so I don't worry about them and kill them towards the end. If they are an issue, you can adjust your order and kill them sooner. Hunters are last because despite their huge damage output they shouldn't ever be able to hit you if you're hidden. Kill these charr groups if you like and head to the alter.
Here are how you should intend to position yourself. Behind the wall so you cannot be auto attacked leaving all your focus on the melee's before the caster. BTW, double melee, double shaman is a real pain in the captain's quarters and luckily is not to be expected at the altar.
Here is where it is easiest to position for the second of two groups, the roaming patrol. Here's a little action shot
Now we head over to the altar. Follow meeeee.
When heading to the Altar I find it easiest to stay to right and head up the hill near the oakhearts. Head to mound to pull the right altar patrol. This one takes their sweet time getting back to this spot if given the chance to leave which could create a really tight pickle if you decide to clear the bosses in their absence and they decide to walk back from stage left. The sooner you take care of them the better. Remember murphy's law. Here's a quick pic. Hit them with a bow and kill them in order of importance.
Next up is the middle group. They walk up and down the front door. If you are daring you can try and pull them with the side group. If not, never hurt anyone. Pull them from the same mound and wait until they come to you. Stand accordingly and deal with charr in order of importance. Here I had two melees and handled them like I mentioned above. Empathy on one and DSwarm, Phantasm, Shatter on the other before the shaman in the group could heal them. I cast three spells and my energy was already riding kind of dirty.
It's up to you now what you want from this. Are you strictly farming charr bosses or are you pre level 14 and want to kill everything for experience/drops. I'll discuss tactics for killing everything at the altar but depending on what you want, feel free to skip around.
The Last Front Patrol:
There are three front line patrols to the altar. Two we took out from the right side mound facing the altar. To take out the third we must go to the left side. Run off the mound, collect your stuff, and head over to the left side hill. Wait for the charr to walk out to their furthest point in front of the altar. You'll most likely need to aggro them with a bow before making the b-line for the hill. Once on the hill, the charr may position themselves to try and hit you, especially the hunters. Make sure to kill the charr in order of importance while also rearranging your position to make sure you're always obstructed.
Pull the corner melee charr to your position and kill them accordingly. These guys should never be a problem unless your armorless and auto attacking with a starter wand. I usually cast empathy before they get to me so I can then focus on killing the second one (if there's two)
Now that all of our vegetables have been taken care of, we can head over for desert. We have free reign of the charr bosses. First on the docket, Jaw Smokeskin. Hit him with an arrow and cast backfire as soon as you can. He spams flare which hurts. With backfire on him I've seen 2 different outcomes. He either stops casting flare and starts auto attacking, in which case case empathy and wait, or he'll keep spamming flare and die for backfire+shatter. Either way, he's a pushover. A mesmer with backfire is an elementalist's worst hair day.
From here the bosses can rotate. So whoever is next, cast accordingly and go for it. I have Red Eye as the next boss which means cast backfire and wait before shattering. If Blaze heals him, feels free to cast dswarm, empathy, recast backfire. It doesn't matter on energy too much since it is just one charr.
Killing the next two bosses can be done one of two ways. Run down the middle and aggro one with a bow. This will aggro them both, and hopefully not the back melee corners, and bring them to the front stairs. Cast on blaze first always. If Blaze isn't there then cast on Red Eye first always. Ghast is never your biggest threat/Red Eye is just way easier to kill and the quicker you can eliminate the from the picture the easier your life gets. This can be risky at low levels and can be costly for energy.
The other option is the hug the left side wall, or run all the way around, to the back left road. Here you can pull the back corner melee's to kill and then pull the left corner charr boss without aggroing the other. Repeat this step with the other side to ensure you take down both bosses sans death. Picture of location can be seen below
The Back Right Patrol:
This is the patrol that is walking behind the altar that comes in contact with the back right charr boss. I generally wait to take care of these guys until the end. You can easily get the slip on the by hiding behind the altar or by standing above them on the ledge. Be careful not to hug the ledge or else you can still get hit.
Side Patrol on the hill:
This is the patrol that is walking on the right side ledge above the altar. They can be taken care of 1 of 2 ways.
Either stand at the bottom of the ledge along the same path the right back patrol walks or you can stand in the super secret hiding spot by the rock. Where you decide to stand depends on when you want to take out this group. Remember that if you are standing in the super secret spot don't forget to take care of the oakshearts that may be lurking behind you. Here is a view of the super secret spot with charr and one with oakhearts. Don't get caught between a charr and a hard place let me tell you.
Always chop down the trees before dancing with charr
There are 2 key items you need to farming with a mesmer and 1 optional that I love but don't require.
A bow for pulling, longbow or flatbow
bow generally works best. These can be quest rewards, drops, literally anywhere.
Your choice of weapon. I use this but anything you have will likely do
Optional: a high energy set. This is for last resorts, omfg I am literally so close to death and killing these charr if only I had mana. The mana regen will be so hindered that you better kill the charr with this last resort cash advance set or die trying. here is what I use but again, anything that provides a spike in energy will work
Canes and Offhands can provide more attribute specific stats but are rare to come by and useful ones are super expensive. That is why I stick to staves. Lucky for Mesmers, we have fast casting so it doesn't matter if we have an 18/18 dom cane and offhand because we get some sweet benefits for casting and recharge from an attribute. That is the definition of broken. You literally don't need another reason to play a mesmer.
I use an insightful staff head but you could use a hale health mod if you think you need it. I'm always running OOM so I'll take any extra energy. Dom wrap is always desirable. I don't know why or if it makes a difference but it looks nice. Fortitude can always be substituted. Remember though, the dom wrap doesn't have to be maxed. Save yourself some cash. Especially since every nice mod is upwards of 10bds these days.
Runes and Insignias:
Headpiece Radiant of Minor Dom. Get the plus 2 with the Nick Headpiece and 1 extra energy. Because I'm a diva
Survivor and Attunement on the chest for 15 health and 2 energy. Maximum the survivor insignia and bonus energy baby.
Gloves and Boots are both Radiant and Attunement I literally can't get more energy.
My Pants are Radiant with a vigor for more energy and health.
I'd definitely consider the use of a Fast Casting Rune but I've yet to see on for sale or drop. I don't really need it but it could be cool to have a free +1 in the most broken attribute ever. Duh. Not necessary though.
Thank you so much for Reading
This is my first time making a guide for anything. I hope that whoever reads this will be inspired to try out the mesmer profession or at least see that the life of a mesmer is not as miserable as once thought. I really wanted to create something similar to what made me fall in love with the role and I hope you all do as well. I would love to add to this in the future, but for now please enjoy.