GW2 Elementalist Guide: Staff Weapon for PvE (Part 2 of 2)
In the first part I tackled the Elementalist Staff weapon's explosive Fire and tanky Water attunements. Now let's get to the mobile Air and condition-stacking Earth attunements.
True to its nature, Air attunement is the master of movement and speed. Air is also the only attunement with an out-of-combat benefit through the temporary speed boost from the Windborne Speed fourth skill. I often switch to Air to quickly travel between heart hubs, or to hasten my farming rounds, or just to cut down the time on visiting points of interest in a capital city for Exploration achievements.
In combat though, Air attunement is great for Elementalists versed in the art of kiting, or the strategy of running around in circles so that a melee opponent spends the rest of the battle chasing you while you snipe away with instant cast Chain Lightning and Lightning Surge. Should an enemy happen to close in on you, the Blind inflicted by Lightning Surge can give you a reprieve on the first incoming attack then cast Gust to sends them backward and resume kiting. Windborne Speed can remove most conditions that impair your movement. You can also cast Static Field as an opener to keep foes Stunned in place and unleash a couple more spells before proceeding to circle strafe.
Even though Air attunement only has two damage skills similar to Water, it still ranks higher in damage potential because of Chain Lightning’s peculiar behavior. Air’s auto-attack 1-skill bounces off between targets, so that what is simply a one-shot damage against a single opponent, becomes a double ricochet damage on two opponents and so on. Of course, this is capped to around four jumps (needs confirmation), so that dealing with two to three targets actually speeds up your kill instead of fighting against one foe. This what I meant when I said that Air could be a great farming attunement in heart hubs but beware of areas with passive creatures; Chain Lightning will consider them a valid target and aggro them.
Of all the attunements, I found Earth to be the wonkiest. In terms of damage, it sits higher than Air but lower than Fire. In defensive utility and survivability, Earth comes behind Water which provides bonus Vitality and health regeneration that comes with investing in the Water trait line. (This is from pure observation alone though; it would be nice to prove this assumption if Guild Wars 2 showed the percentage of damage reduced with extra Toughness and Defense stat points, which the Earth attunement provides in droves.)
There just hasn’t been enough situations when I thought that of using Earth above the three others. Maybe this is because of the nature of PvE where the goal is to kill one target as fast as possible, which Fire does, or a handful of targets as fast as possible, which Air does, or survive an endurance fight, which Water does.
The one thing in which Earth excels is inflicting a wide variety of conditions. It can stack Weaken, Cripple, Bleed and Immobilize through a rotation of three spells. This is a subtle advantage in PvE and, I hazard, a more pronounced plus in PvP where such afflictions bear more weight. Several dynamic events bosses are immune to or even grow stronger when dealth with some of these conditions.
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.