There’s a point in every mesmer’s life where they have to face one important question:
As in, “What’s in store for me if I choose mesmer?” or “Why would anyone in their right mind play mesmer?” Either way, you should know what you’re signing up for when you don your mask.
The best time to ask yourself this is probably during character creation. I didn’t ponder the question until well into the game. For me, playing mesmer was a given, even before it officially existed during development. It was so integral to what made Guild Wars feel like Guild Wars, and was a blast to play as well. So, if you’re anything like me, here’s the first reason to play mesmer:
You loved them in Guild Wars.
Whatever inspired you to play mesmer in Guild Wars, chances are you’ll find something in their Guild Wars 2 incarnation to bring back those good feelings. You know, those warm fuzzies you get from watching people writhe in pain and futility under your illusions; punishing someone for doing something—and then punishing them for doing nothing; having a skill bar full of buttons that say “No.”; specializing in countering a single type of foe (such as Smiting Monks in Jade Quarry); or experimenting wildly with off-beat builds like Illusionary Weaponry or Keystone Signet.
Aside from all that, the biggest reason I enjoyed playing mesmer in Guild Wars is the biggest reason I continue playing one in Guild Wars 2:
You love to think.
There’s a lot to wrap your head around as a mesmer, which we’ll talk about in future columns: illusions, shatters (especially if you target multiple enemies with illusions), weapon skills, mantras, placement and movement, and enemies’ actions. It takes a lot of brain power—which won’t be a problem because we steal so much from our enemies.
In Guild Wars, the biggest advantage to playing mesmer was that it taught me to know my enemy. Learn their skill rotations. Find their tells. Know what to say no to. Guild Wars 2’s design seems intended, thankfully, to require each profession to do this. Still, some professions can get away with not having to think during combat. As a mesmer, you won’t last long if you’re not anticipating everyone’s next moves. And when you’re successful, you’ll be seeing a lot of the next reason to play mesmer:
Purple &%$#ing butterflies.
BUTTERFLY FACT: Butterflies belong to the order Lepidoptera, which means “scale wing.” Also, I heard that everything in the universe is causally linked to a single butterfly flapping its wings in Africa. In order to have that kind of effect on everything in existence, that butterfly must be pretty dang big. I haven’t actually been to Africa so I haven’t seen it though.
And yet, like the beauty and frailty of a butterfly:
High risk, high reward.
If you’re a mesmer, you’re going to die. That is to say, our survival methods are unconventional and take some getting used to. We hide in plain sight. We misdirect. We don’t faff about with what are commonly known as the limitations of time and space. But still, you’re going to die. Often, if you’re getting hit, it’s already too late.
So what’s the payoff? One: it’s super fun. Two: massive damage. Two-point-five: people underestimate our damage because it’s not single-source or front-loaded or whatever. Three: we’re versatile, adaptive, and unpredictable. And what’s more:
We get our own little playground.
It’s called Obsidian Sanctum. Which brings us to the next reason:
You like to cheat.
Some of the game’s nastier exploits belong to the mesmer. They no doubt join the thief in twirling their mustaches, rubbing their hands together, snickering in smoky rooms…
I almost ranted there. Not yet. That’s not what I mean by “cheat.” Mesmers bend the rules. We challenge the assumptions the game has us make. Rules and assumptions like: “Hit thing enough before it hits you enough”—mesmers can turn that into a wasted effort. In a game where placement is key, we can overload the battlefield with focus points and render others obsolete. We like to be unpredictable, underestimated, and unaccounted for in our enemy’s plan.
So now that we’ve kicked off this lovely little column, check back every other Thursday for more mesmer analysis, tips, and experiences! We’ll talk about skills, gear, traits, the mesmer’s roles in all parts of the game, and so much more. Rather than just explain the obvious and copy/paste the wiki, I hope to encourage experimentation and reward curiosity, because that’s where I’ve found the most joy in Guild Wars 2. In the meantime, how about some homework? You kids like homework, right? Here’s your task: Make a mesmer if you haven’t already. See you in (a little less than) two weeks!