GW2 Elementalist Guide: Staff Weapon for PvE (Part 1 of 2)
Elementalists are unique in Guild Wars 2 in that they are the only ones that cannot switch weapons. This might sound like a disadvantage, but Elementalists are designed to equip one weapon set and switch among four elemental attunements each with five skills. That’s a total of 20 skills as opposed to the average 10 that other professions can access at a given battle.
Elementalists can equip a total or five weapon sets: a two-handed Staff; a main-hand Scepter or Dagger, and an off-hand Dagger or Focus.
This guide focuses on the two-handed Staff, probably the most iconic of the weapon sets because wizard types since Gandalf to Merlin have been known to use these long enchanted sticks to channel their magic and cast spells.
There are limitations to this guide though. I do not compare the Staff attunements to those of other Elementalist weapon sets. If anything, the guide serves as an introduction to the Staff weapon, and a tip sheet for those who want to wield the Staff primarily for PvE questing
The Fire attunement doles out the highest damage per second to single targets and small groups. If you like to kill targets swiftly with little fuss, then Fire is the way to go. All five Fire skills deal damage, but it is the attunement with the least amount of defensive skills. Only the Burning Retreat fourth-skill provides damage mitigation through a well-time evasion.
I found that this Attunement suits best for solo farming in heart hubs, where usually one of the goals is to kill a specific type of creature. There is an argument to be made for using Air attunement, but I find that Fire still presents the safer choice between the two. (Air’s auto-attack Chain Lightning works best against multiple mobs because of the bounce effect and it unwittingly aggroes nearby targets, even that passive doe grazing in the field.)
Fire can also easily handle multiple mobs if needed without having to swap attunements. Usual rotation against melee targets is to open with Fireball, Flame Burst, Cast Lava Font in front of me, then Burning Retreat and re-cast Flame Burst when it is up. Meteor Shower is best reserved for dynamic events when there are plenty of targets and less probability of all hit targets aggroing you.)
The Fire Attunement also triggers Burning condition synergies with other classes on top of stacking his own, which further increases his total damage potential.
The Water attumenent is the definitive support and solo tank spec for Staff users. It has access to two area heals, Geyser (direct heal) and Healing Rain (grants Regeneration healing and removes conditions removal); an area slow skill Frozen Ground which inflicts the Chill condition; and two offensive spells, Water Blast and Ice Spike.
Through the skill line-up above, it’s easy to tell that Water attunement is built to support and keep yourself and the party alive while chipping in on damage. Among the four Staff attunements, it has the lowest damage output with a simple rotation of Water Blast on auto-attack with Ice Spike as it comes off cooldown.
There comes an amusing point though when you realize that Water attunement can help you tank some high HP, low damage enemies, including Veteran mobs. This happens when your Water Blast heals plus Water attunement passive regeneration plus Signet of Restoration spell cast heals is greater than the damage that your enemy inflicts. The mass Chill skill has also helped me escape from danger more than a few times.
Water definitely has great synergy with parties, especially with allies in dynamic events that fight in melee range. You can auto-attack the target with Water Blast and passively heal those bashing it in close proximity. If you partner with a ranged attacker, it is not unusual for you to take fight in melee to squeeze out the bonus heals while your ally unloads from a distance.
For the AIr and Earth attunements, read Part 2.
Michael lives for MMOs. You can catch him spamming alts in every online game imaginable from the standard-bearers like World of Warcraft to Kickstarter-funded upstarts and everything in between. He is a contributing writer at MMO Play.