First of all, I know that profession has issues, I've seen the big discussion on this board. So, I expected Ele's elite specs be not on par with a lot of other elites, but still, I expected some serious boost, comparing to core ele.
A bit of history. I've been playing as d/d from around lv 15, had tons of fun with this weapon setup, and never used other weapons at all, except for a brief time, to be aware how they work. I didn't like staff right away (too slow, too static, with those huge delays on many skills.. meh, not my cup of tea); scepeter / dagger was a bit more fun, but still seemed subpar to d/d I like s much. D/d gives you so much dynamics and tactical options, allowing engage and disengage into/from fights easily, and those extremely satisfying moments when you jump right into a crowd, drop everybody on the ground and shred them to pieces with Churning Earth - I just can't have enough of this mayhem
I arrived to Crystal Desert as just-turned-80lv core Ele, anticipating how soon I'll gather enough hero points and will try out those elites specs. It was quite hard landing, at first, I died a lot, still had tons of fun, I had to review my gear and completely re-huffle my upgrades. I quickly adapted. My first encounter with Sand Shark was and epic 10 minutes battle in which I even had to brandish my FGS. Now I eat those sharks on breakfast with just my regular weapon skills (still d/d). Hydras seemed like absolutely non-solo content - now they are still hard, but I've already killed 3 of them solo too. Genies are still hard piece of kitten, can only reliably kill the earth one, for some reason; a couple of times I almost dropped Water and Air genies, but those are really something. And I'm still playing as core Ele, with mostly exotic gear (some rare pieces) - that's where the issue starts.
My first biggest disappointment was the Weaver - bc it was the elite I thought I'll be playing as, and had high expectations of this one. It immediately got obvious to me that the way weaving is implement as of now is totally incompatible with d/d stile I love so much. In a nutshell, as a low-armored, low-hp close-range caster, you absolutely need access to your mobility and crowd control skills within a second. And access to all those skills (mobility: Air-4, Earth-3, Fire-3; crowd-control: Air-5, Air-3, Earth-4) is hindered by extremely long delays, as when you switch to the element you need, all of them are now overlapped either with dual-attack on 3, or with skills of "off-hand attunement", and you need to switch it twice to just get there - and Weaver has increased attunement switch cooldown, to boot. That results in situation when you need to wait a few seconds before you'll be able to use your core survival skills, what is in most cases just fatal.
I also didn't like Sword too much, it's too.. straightforward (well, I guess you could expect it from sword ), too boring. Just do damage, cast some simple defense skills, it's not even close to fun I get from d/d setup. Mobility is mediocre, it's less dynamic than d/d, less crowd-control potential, more pure dps-dealing weapon. It's okay, but it now appears to me Anet just built the whole spec around the Sword, the other weapons are just so sub-par to it you can't even seriously consider them an option (that's not even accounting for issues with d/d setup in particular I mentioned above)
So, my last hope was the Tempest. It seemed quite promising first, no strange changes to attunements switching, nothing forces you to really use the Horn. Seemed like it would be the same core d/d ele I like so much, but with additional potential, when you need it. Sounded like a lot of fun. Boy I was wrong...
Issues got apparent from the first moment I tried it out in combat against mobs in Crystal Desert, the same mobs I had been beating quite easy with my core d/d Ele until then. For reference, as a core Ele, I spec Fire and Earth, and add Water into elite spec slot for sustain; I also have Sigil granting me endurance refill on kill, and armor runes granting me 50% endurance refill on using Heal skill; in Heal skill slot I have skill which heals me on each cast. So, shortly, to survive I dodge a lot, and allow Soothing mist and the Heal skill do its passive part, while occasionally use Heal and water weapon skills to heal actively. This gives me enough sustain to either kill PoF things solo, or survive in massive brawls of group events. When it gets too hot, I just brandish my FGS and start spinning non-stop like a madman (it gives you evade via attack-3) Works fine almost all the time.
So, I put Tempest instead of Water into elite spec slot, set a few traits (I didn't have full set of traits unlocked yet, only half of them) - and got murdered viciously, then again and again. First I thought that may be I'm just tired and can't play that well anymore - because the elite spec clearly felt like much more glassy then my core ele with Water in elite slot. I tried again and again, and I started to realize how much sustain actually Water had been providing me all this time. Tempest elite spec just wasn't good enough to substitute it on itself.
There were issues with those overloads too. Effectively, each time I started an overload, I was turned into a sitting duck. The horde of mobs attacking me started to punch insane dps into me, and I couldn't dodge as it would have interrupted overload. My initial idea that water overload will make up for now missing Water spec in terms of sustain was shattered immediately - whatever it healed for me, was immediately taken away again by mobs attacking me at the same time. That's because as a core ele I would never really be just running around healing yourself for 4 seconds straight, I would constantly dodging, allowing Soothing mist do the trick and occasionally casting a healing skill or two, then dodge again, or use mobility skill to gain some distance from enemies, then heal again, then re-engage. And you can't do this with overloads, obviously, you just need to slowly run around, taking all the beating.
Now, I understand that Tempest will have more traits increasing sustain later, I saw the one which gives you stability (must-have, imo), and the one which gives you protection (with increased efficiency) - but I now really doubt whether this will be enough to resolve all those issues above. I also saw the Elemental Bastion final trait, but it seemed like really sub-par to what Water spec can offer, very situational, so not something you can rely upon.
So, does it mean that to get my core ele sustain back as a Tempest, I must still spec Water anyway? Because in such case it completely breaks my build, and leaves me with a crippled combat mage which only spec one dps-dealing element and gets greatly decreased efficiency overall, comparing to a freaking core profession! If I ditch Earth, I lose some sustain, tons of dps, my main crowd control and mobility skills will be less efficient, my Healing signet is totally broken (won't heal me passively when on cooldown), same for Signet of Fire I use to make up for the lack of range, and as an additional source of dps (as Earth gives increased recharge of signets, and it delivers tons of burning damage per cast up to 1200 range). If I ditch Fire, I just lose tons of offensive capability as well, and my main tool of dealing with serious threats - FGS - lose effectiveness as well.
So I'm literally facing a situation where I have better sustain and combat value as a basic profession, then one of the elites.
What am I missing? Is it possible to create a d/d Tempest build which won't be sub-par to the core Ele d/d build in any way?