OK fellow kittens, as a Mesmer main for over 6 year's iv seen the high and lows, and felt the pains for both times for the mesmer and for the other classes that at times have faced rather unfair outcomes just as much as the mesmer player's suffer those outcomes.
i think by now the community on the most part understand the mechanical difficulties involved with correctly tuning mesmer, and as such can sympathize with the balance team for having difficulty nailing down this issue. for those that currently seem unsure ill iterate the base flaws that lead to the difficulty in this post for you, along with the reasoning and solution.
the short list is as follows: Clone's, Phantasm's, Shatter's
as we can see the balancing issues are not a case of number's, if it was we would face far less drastic issues. so i will being with the clone mechanic.
the first issue arises due to a destroy able resource, the second being the ability for clones to apply conditions, and the third being AI reliance.
* Destroyable Resource - this is akin to warriors loosing adrenaline when hit, necro's loosing shroud for moving, thief's loosing initiative for evading. in essence this one is felt in all situations from pve/pvp/wvw. it brings vast unreliability and balancing issues. there are many situations it is impossible to use shatters due to clones spawning dead or shattering only to run into death before the proc.
* Damage from clones - this one brings a seperate set of balancing issues on the part of weapon balance, admittedly this is mainly a condi issue. do you balance weapons on the assumption clones do 0 condi application? doing just this leads to vastly overpowered situations such as 1v1 where clones can be maintained, on the flip side this will balance a weapon for the other situations such as wvw or generally places with lots of aoe. Alternatively you balance weapons on the assumption of clones always being active in this case weapons perform as expected only in situations with 3 clones alive, and performing properly and vastly under performing in all other scenarios.
* Clone AI - this one is simple as everyone understands the stupidity of basic AI scripting as we have all fought pve mobs to understand this so ill leave this as is.
now phantasms, also destroyable, provide two opportunities to dodge a single skill press, AI .
* Destroyable - yep they are destroyable, making them once again made redundant in many situations due to death before damage they are also susceptible to CC
* 2 opportunities to dodge - this one may be less known to people and less considered but none the less leads to balancing issues, there are indeed two chances to dodge these phantasm skill presses, 1st you are able to dodge the cast time summoning of the phantasm thus negating the skill, if that opportunity is missed you can dodge the attack animation of the phantasm.
* AI - same AI issues
* To sum this up, phantasms a skill with 2 opportunities to dodge, can be killed by damage before hitting anything, and be CC'd to stop it. the balancing on phantos isn't as rough as that with clones but is none the less still a problematic concept making the skills unusable in a verity of situations
the core mechanic, the bread and butter of mesmer, or at least it should be. shatters being completely powered by the clones fall victim to the same array of issues mentioned above. you need clones to shatter, many situation's that is just not possible. your main class mechanic can be destroyed before damaging, can be CC'd, it can often just be run away from.
Now taking note of this set of problems its not hard to visualize the how and why balancing mesmer along with its elite specs can be rather problematic. especially in the case of mirage, a spec that i personally believe was rushed in with little thought to the consequences of how it would interact. do you buff damage numbers to dead with the down side's? leading to average play in some situations and vastly OP is others, do you nerf numbers balancing 1v1 and making them useless in other situations.
there have been many of debates on this, and surprisingly is far simpler than many may expect and i believe would require much less effort to implement than you may think as the game already has the the exact mechanics we need for this implemented into it minimizing the need for mass amounts of new code.
Step 1 - Clone mechanic, this needs to be partially removed. by this i mean that we mesmers would no longer spawn clones as we do now and replace them with a system similar to that of a warrior's adrenaline. all skills that currently summon clones instead increase the clone counter by 1 upto the current max of 3. (weapons can be properly balanced for power and condi with no repercussions from extra damage scaling due to physical clones affecting the overall potential, this is good for all game modes and situations in terms of both balance and QoL)
Step 2 - Phantasm's, lets first address the issues of having a destroyable/CC able damage, phantasms should behave and act like any normal skill. to do this first we remove them as being a physical entity, instead the phantasm u see is as all other skill's simply visual. secondly this requires slight reworks to the skill's that also address the double chance to dodge phenomenon that is inherently unavoidable with the current phantasm model.
Reworks - Berserker - either direction target as tides of time(shield 5) or in the direction of current target, each hit of the berserker will proc at set distances
- Warlock + Duelist + Whaler + Disenchanter - upon finishing cast the phantasm floats besides you,(warlock one either side, duelist just behind you visual only) channeling its attack the your current target.
- Warden + Mage - these will now be ground target similar to well's or lava font for for example
- Swordsman + Mariner - function as a non reflectable projectile causing the aoe of the skill at target they impact, alternatively simply have the aoe appear at the current position of the target but not follow if the target moves as the original skills do not do this
- echo of memory/de ja vu - have a aoe around u at the end of cast basically functioning as it is now
- Defender - the most awkward one to change, but probably just rework it to something actually useful since its a kitten skill
- Rogue - doesn't need much changing just make it a direct attack playing the animation of the rogue hitting
this pretty much covers phantasm's and enables them to be balanced with far less error as they all now perform like normal skill and as such enable the normal balancing and QoL most skills have. and are no longer some clunky mess
Step 3 - Shatter's , this is nice and easy as very little will need to be changed. we still have clone charges as in the above similar to warrior adrenaline, these will power shatters and will spawn directly from the mesmer upon the shatter press. naturally these will be not be destroyable/able to be cc. but like all skills can be dodged blocked ivuln or otherwise mitigated in the usual manners. and as such balanced around this
making the above changed i believe will enable the dev team to balance the class with much more ease than currently, allowing them to tweak each individual traitline without having to gut others, yes im speak about mirage here, with the above changes we can have a much more interesting play opportunities, with the quality of life mesmers have been asking for year after year, , meanwhile satisfying the other classes due to the now easier to balance mechanics and as an added bonus much more opportunity for build diversity. yes there are certain traits i have not mentioned in the post that would also need switching to work with the new mechanics but in the grand scheme of things is changing create a clone when u dodge to gain a clone charge when u dodge all that hard?.
hopefully A Net see this and take some inspiration and its gets some kitten support!