- Mind Slash-Mind Gash-Mind Stab
- Blurred Frenzy
- Illusionary Leap
- Illusionary Riposte-Counter Blade
- Phantasmal Swordsman
1) Mind Slash-Mind Gash-Mind Stab
Your main auto attack with the sword is a triple pronged ability. Mind slash and Mind gash are identical in effects although with different animations. Both of the these hits inflict vulnerability for six and a half seconds, The third prong however hits harder but doesn’t inflict vulnerability. The entire attack takes 2.5 seconds to complete meaning you can easily stack vulnerability for a long time, and if the foe has enough health you can just about stack it all the way to 25 with quickness and enough clones. It’s a pretty solid attack which is good since it’s our only melee auto attack and the main source of melee damage that a Mesmer has. The first two hits attack all enemies in front of you, the third however only hits your primary target although for higher damage.
Once you start the chain it will continue unless you cancel with a dodge, escape or by moving away from the mob. The chain will reset after 3 seconds of inaction, through any means.The only trait support this ability has is Blade Training(Pre:IV) which lowers the cooldown by 20% and increases the precision by 50. Precision is a pretty good for the sword since it synergises well with the common power builds that accompany the sword.
2) Blurred Frenzy
Blurred Frenzy is the swords main damage cooldown where you leap up and swing your sword around like you just don’t care. The truth is you really don’t care because upon activation you gain the boon distortion which makes you immune to the rest of the world for two seconds. Knockbacks? Enemy zones? Damage? All ignored for the duration whilst you swing that sword about. It does a lot of damage too and it can either be used on cooldown to maximise your damage output or more strategically to help you avoid damage.
Like the first ability, this attack hits all enemies in front of you which means it’s damage output can scale ridiculously high and is useful for crowd control as well as single target.
The distortion component is especially powerful when combined with dodge, stealth and distortion shatters as that gives you a very high up time on our invulnerabilities. It is important to note though that you cannot move whilst casting and as such can get caught out if you don’t have any dodge spare for once it’s finished.
As Greyrest from Reddit points out if you dodge or move during the Blurred Frenzy you will cancel the effect and furthermore, if used under the effects of Quickness you will only gain one second of distortion rather than two.Once again this ability is affected by Blade Training(Pre:IV) which really helps since it’s both a damage and a survivability cooldown and having it more often is a great boost. The precision helps the damage output significant as well especially if you get a high line of crits.
3) Illusionary Leap
Illusionary Leap is the clone generator of the Sword Main hand although it is on a long cooldown compared to other weapon clone generations. The first cast spawns a clone hopefully in melee range on the target which will cripple the target. The clone will do virtually zero damage as it hits but it is in melee range already for the purposes of shatters.
It is the second part of the ability known as Swap that really allows this ability to shine. By hitting the ability a second time you swap positions with your clone allowing you to get right into the face of an enemy. Upon swapping you immobilise the enemy allowing you to perhaps activate Blurred Frenzy and ensure 100% of it hits. This ability can be absolutely battle-defining in certain PvP environments as this allows you to chase down enemies who might otherwise get away. It is probably the Mesmers greatest gap closer.
You have 4 seconds to utilise swap before the ability goes onto cooldown, however this time is represented in the length of the cooldown itself so that it will always be 12 seconds before Illusionary Leap is available again.
Both parts of this ability are a Combo Finisher : Leap and as such if the clone or yourself is within a field upon activation you will benefit. Granting your clone chaos armour is very easy to do and a great way to punish enemies for killing it off.
There are a couple issues with the ability that otherwise interfere with it’s functionality. Occasionally it will glitch and the clone will never spawn. I believe that the bug is currently related to enemy players dodging at the same time as activation. Not being within range will also cause the ability to go onto cooldown without a clone being produced and the range is deceptively low.
Secondly this ability is NOT currently properly affected by Blade Training(Pre:IV). The tooltip updates however the actual cooldown does not change. Hopefully this will change in the near future.Finally it is important to note that you can swap to your clones position even upon its death within the 4 second window.
4) Illusionary Riposte
Illusionary Riposte is a strange ability for Mesmers but it does provide some nice situational defence. Upon activation you raise your arm and block the next attack. After a successful block you phase out of reality, summon a clone in your place and attack, which I think we can all admit makes us more badass than just using a shield like everyone else.
Illusionary Riposte can be activated a second time to fire off the counter. Doing this will not summon a clone however it will ensure you get off the other component of this ability, the daze. Either by block-countering or by activating a second time you will daze your opponent.
The damage is fairly nice and the clone synergises well with a shatter for a lot of burst damage and it even blocks ranged attacks, unfortunately it has a few issues that prevent it from being a really powerful ability.
Firstly the phasing through reality and summoning a clone and reappearing in a different spot is just…well It’s taxing on the brain. Bending space and time is hard and that means you’re actually left open for a good second or so before the counter happens. If you dodge out of an attack in that time it even cancels the counter.
Secondly you only block one attack and this coupled with the first issue means that potentially you can take a lot more damage by attempting to block than you would have simply kiting a group of enemies away.Finally this ability is NOT affected by Blade Training(Pre:IV) meaning that the cooldown is not lowered.
5) Phantasmal Swordsman
The phantasmal Swordsman is the swords phantasm and our last skill to look at. It is a unique phantasm in that it is a melee Illusion that tries to stay at range before it’s attack. It leaps in and attacks the foe and then leaps back out. Both components of this attack is a Combo Finisher : Leap which triggers off combo fields.
The unique positional factor of this phantasm can help a Melee Mesmer significantly as it will keep them out of immediate danger from cleave, aoe and enemy aggravation. It has a fantastic long range making it a good tool to use as you retreat and weapon switch to the staff or to engage with. Really the range just gives you a lot of versatility and flexibility in usage. Due to the phantasm tending to survive longer than any other melee phantasm, traits that improve the phantasms damage such as Phantasmal Fury(Pre:II) can be more efficient and the trait Persisting Images(Ins:V) is perhaps less useful than on other Phantasms. Of course it all depends on playstyle and the way you engage.
Most of the versatility of this ability comes through it’s interaction with combo fields and clever uses of shatters and chaos armour to load an enemy down with a huge number of conditions.
At least this ability is affected by Blade Training(Pre:IV) which lowers the cooldown.Like all illusion generators this ability interacts and is affected by a lot of trait slot, however I won’t list all the shatter traits here. Rather here are the traits that directly impact the Phantasmal Mage.
- Empowered Illusions(Dom:III) increases the damage of the Swordsman by 15%
- Phantasmal Fury(Due:II) grants Fury to the Swordsman, increases it’s critical chance by 20%
- Persisting Images(Ins:V) gives our phantasms an additional 20% health
- Phantasmal Strength(Ins:25) increases the damage of the Swordsman by 15%
- Illusionists Celerity(Ill:5) lowers the cooldown of phantasms by 20%
- Phantasmal Haste(Ill:X) lowers the cooldown on our Phantasms attack, increasing their attack rate NOT the cooldown on the phantasm itself.
It is important to note that you only gain the benefit of Blade Training(Pre:IV) once, even if dual-wielding swords.
Finally it’s useful to know that all sword clones regardless of generation, be it ability or utility skill or trait apply vulnerability.
For me I use the Staff as my primary weapon and a sword as a main hand on my secondary weapons simply because it allows me to do a lot of direct damage quickly to supplement my already high condition damage. It has a lot of mobility and probably the greatest direct survivability of any of the weapons and is a strong weapon for almost any setup.
Next up we will be focusing on the last uncovered land weapon that is the Scepter before delving deep into the oceans of Tyria to unmask the myths and illusions around water combat and help those less graceful find their waterwings.