The Scrying Pool continues its look at revealed Specializations with the Chronomancer.
The Scrying Pool is a Guild Wars 2 column where I simply ask what if? Nothing is off the table as I dive into possible features and future content, looking at what currently exists in Guild Wars 2 before I answer my own what if question with how I think the feature and content could be implemented.
Normally that intro holds true, but while we are in the midst of the speculation reveals I will be flipping the tables. Instead of looking forward, the Scrying Pool will be looking back as we continue the Specialization series from a different viewpoint. Instead of speculation, I will focus on my impressions of each of the Elite Specializations after they get revealed while throwing in some of my previous articles and speculation for flavor.
Yesterday, ArenaNet revealed the Dragonhunter, the Elite Specialization for the Guardian. As I mentioned in last week’s article however, the Scrying Pool will remain a week behind to give time for the dust to settle and the spec to soak in. It is also a week behind because the Scrying Pool is written before the weekly livestream that shows off more of the what that Elite Specialization is bringing to the profession. As such, this week we will talk about the Chronomancer, the Elite Specialization for Mesmer which was revealed last week.
The Chronomancer is actually the name that I had picked for the Mesmer Elite Spec during my specialization speculation article a little while back. I really like the name and what they had shown off really fit into this idea of a character that controls time.
When I had been thinking up what the Chronomancer would do for my own speculation, it quickly became apparent that this idea of how a character can control time in an MMO is not an easy thing to grasp. Unlike movies and single-player games, you can’t just rewind the entire scene back. It was a really cool idea for them to step away from this time-shifting aspect a little bit and make the time more literal in its representation through the new well skills.
These new wells have a lording over time feel, where the Chronomancer is setting the clock on their enemies and allies. The wells show a clock face that will actually tick until midnight, ticking three times before ending with an additional special effect. The elite skill, Gravity Well, probably shows this off the best as each tick will displace all affected enemies back into the center of the well. Without any stability, players will find themselves stuck within the well’s effect for the entire duration before the final blast does a unique form of stun that will leave them stuck in place for even longer.
The wells are not only offensive either. The Chronomancer’s heal skill is another well that will heal half of a normal heal to itself when first casting the well and the other half to itself and allies in the well as the final end effect. Another well will also be a source to grant allies the Chronomancer-only buff Alacrity.
It is interesting that Alacrity is going to be Chronomancer-only. While methods such as the well will allow it to be shared to allies, the only way of obtaining this buff is through Chronomancer skills. The buff does fit very nicely with the theme of the spec, increasing the rate at which skills will cooldown. However, the buff does not really seem all that powerful.
The way Alacrity works is the direct opposite of Chill, making cooldowns expire 66% faster while Alacrity is in effect. So while Chill makes cooldowns expire at 33% the normal speed, Alacrity will make them expire at 166% the normal rate. The developers even mentioned that the two will counteract each other, so the +66% from Alacrity and -66% from Chill will result in the normal 100% rate when both effects are on a character.
To break this down, skills recharge at a rate of 1 second removed every 1 second under no effects. With Alacrity active, skills would recharge at 1.66 seconds removed every 1 second. An example of this is if you just put your elite skill on cooldown that has 180 seconds total cooldown and at the same time you have nine seconds of Alacrity active. Normally, after 9 seconds the remaining cooldown would be 171 seconds (as 180 - 9 = 171). With those 9 seconds under the effect of Alacrity however, the remaining cooldown is 165 seconds (as 180 - (9 * 1.66) = 165). So after all of that you are only removing an additional six seconds. Granted, those six seconds will be more noticeable on skills with shorter cooldowns (a 15 second cooldown would be off cooldown after those 9 seconds for example), but at first look having a solid 9 seconds of Alacrity seems like it will be hard to gain. The well that gives Alacrity to allies for example, only gives 1 second of Alacrity for each of its three pulses.
The buff is good, but not so good that I think it needs to be limited to this one Elite Specialization. If it was limited to one profession however, Mesmer is definitely the profession for it, especially after the trait changes go into effect. While Alacrity by itself might not be too impressive, the idea of combining that with traits such as Staff cooldowns being reduced every tick while under the effects of chaos armor could lead to some impressive cooldown management.
This synergy shows itself with the new Shield weapon granted with the Chronomancer. The #4 skill on shield is a block, as shields do. Successfully blocking will create a phantasm, as Mesmer off-hand’s do, that will throw and bounce its shield between enemies and allies, granting Alacrity to allies and Chill to foes. This is another method that Chronomancers will be able to share Alacrity to allies. The #5 skill on shield throws out a wall that moves outward, granting quickness to allies and stunning enemies, before returning back to the Chronomancer with the same effects to allies and enemies. What is special is that Chronomancers that travel through the wall on its return trip will reduce the cooldown on the skill by 10 seconds. Combining this with Alacrity could be another winning combo.