The Scrying Pool continues its look at revealed Elite Specializations with the Reaper.
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.
As we continue this series, the Scrying Pool has remained 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 what the Elite Specialization is bringing to the profession. As such, this week we will talk about the Reaper, the Elite Specialization for the Necromancer that was revealed last week.
The Reaper is not far off from what I imagined for the Necromancer’s Elite Specialization when I speculated about it in the Scrying Pool: Necromancer’s Dreadknight. When I was thinking up and writing about the Dreadknight, it was before we knew any of the specifics of what Elite Specializations would be doing. We didn’t know they would all be getting a full set of a utility type new to the profession and that the Elite Spec wouldn’t actually be replacing skills and traits available with the core profession. The other thing we didn’t know was if, and to what extent, the profession’s unique mechanic skills (the F1-F4 by default) would be changing.
It is because of this lack of knowledge that I think it is cool how close the Dreadknight ended up being to the Reaper. The Dreadknight was one of the professions I had imagined getting a full set of a new utility type, though it was an entirely new utility type and replaced skills available to the base profession. This Elite Spec was also the first spec that I envisioned the profession unique mechanics slightly changing, which is interesting as during the livestream it was mentioned that the Reaper was the first time they looked at changing the profession uniques and used it as the foundation for changing them with other professions. We both kept the Shroud and changed the skills to be more melee focused, though I like the Reaper with a Scythe idea they created a lot more than the Necrotic Brawler I was imagining for the Dreadknight.
What I like most about the Reaper is the feel of the skills. ArenaNet mentioned that they wanted the Reaper to be slower, but harder hitting with the Greatsword and Shout skills that the spec is bringing to the profession. The best example of this is the greatsword #2 skill, Gravedigger, that is shown off during the teaser trailer. The Reaper floats slightly into the air and draws back his greatsword getting ready to attack, but doesn’t attack immediately. Instead the Reaper holds, hovering in air for a few moments, building up the tension of this impending doom that is about to come slicing through his enemy. The quick spinning slice of the animation then drives home the finality of this execution style skill. I would have been sold on the Reaper even if it was only this one skill that was shown me.
On the opposite side of this is the Reaper’s Shroud, the new melee focused version of the Death Shroud profession mechanic. While the normal Reaper skills are slow and deadly, the Reaper seems more agile with quick spinning attacks and ways to close the distance to enemies. I like the look and feel of Reaper’s Shroud and the quick series of attacks on the #1 skill seem like it would pair well with Dhuumfire to spread the burn.
Something that I briefly mentioned in the Dreadknight article and the community has reflected was the idea that Necromancer is missing party support. Many, including myself, theorized that shouts could add this support as shouts do for Guardian and at times Warrior. The shouts that the Reaper is getting are not set up to support allies, but they instead attack the enemy. I actually like this as it fits more with the Reaper while also supporting the party, just not in a support role.
When people think support, they immediately go to things such as healing and giving boons to allies. With the Dreadknight I was looking at the spec supporting a little more offensively by Domains attacking the enemy while also giving a way to remove many conditions off of allies. The Reaper is a full on offensive support, dealing damage and applying many of the important impairing conditions. It has many ways to inflict vulnerability to up all damage on the target, chill foes to slow both their movement and attacking abilities and another skill to convert boons on foes into more vulnerability.
I like this offensive oriented support not only because it fits the Reaper more, but also because it creates an interesting role for parties. Currently the only place for support in parties is to either apply a lot of Might, grant Stability, reflect ranged attacks or grant Quickness. All of these other professions currently do a really good job, with a single Guardian potentially fulfilling most of these support roles with the new profession uniques on Dragonhunter as well as their elite skills if the current ideas to change the Tome skills work out. Even with the right Elite Spec, I don’t think that Necromancer could have toppled any of these roles unless it did so in an overpowered way.
As I mentioned in the Dreadknight article, the main thing I saw Necromancer missing was a frontline ability to get in and do good damage to a group of enemies. Both the greatsword and shouts are fulfilling this, but with the added benefit of applying detrimental conditions to the enemy that further support the damage and survivability of the rest of the party. It is this combination of offense and enemy weakening that fits a role that currently doesn’t really have any other profession to fill. Time will tell, but I imagine we might see Reaper become a key part of the party meta.
The only concern I have with the spec is the balance of speed versus damage. During the livestream they mentioned they wanted to slow the skills down to balance versus the huge damage they do, which is why the Reaper shouts are the first shouts with a cast time. My concern lies with overbalancing. I am worried that the Reaper might be slowed down too much—making it easy for their skills to be interrupted—without providing enough benefit in terms of the level of damage and effects that are applied at the end of these longer cast times.
It is hard to tell if this is a big concern without getting my hands on the Reaper. ArenaNet has commented that they are still tweaking numbers across the board for everything and the skills do not have too much longer of a cast time than other skills. Time will tell for my concerns. Even so, out of the three Elite Specializations revealed thus far, the Reaper is what I am most looking forward to playing.
Matt "Mattsta" Adams is ready to reap the souls of his enemies with the Reaper!
Another week where not much was finished on my current GW2 goals. Still working on dungeons through both running dungeons and completing reward tracks in PvP. I have also decided to finally go after the Emperor title which you gain by buying cultural armors. What are you working on while we wait for Heart of Thorns?
If you have a question for me or a topic you would like to see talked about here, leave a comment below. You can also tweet your question and topics to me on twitter @MattstaNinja. Also, check out my site Mattsta.Ninja that focuses on guides and more for Guild Wars 2.