I have been playing Dragonhunter pretty much since its release in HoT, and I can't say I never enjoyed it. In fact, it was a nice way to provide Guardian with a rock solid specialization for DPS. However...
It really did not age well. And based on the threads I have been reading as of late in this very forum, more than a few people feel the same way.
Aside of the power dps option it provides in PvE (the near immediate melt-burst on small groups of foes, and then relatively good sustained damage), it doesn't have much to it. The only viable build it actually has, relies on about 4 traits from the specialization, and most of the traps skills have zero use in any game modes overall. Moreover, the concept of the E-spec is confused to the point where elements of it don't make sense with itself. In the next part of my post, I'd like to go over the elements of this specialization, and what I think should be done to them in order to make Dragonhunter a much more fun class to play. Because yes, despite the DPS it can deal in PvE, it lacks the flow a lot of other core builds (including core guard!) and e-spec builds possess.
- Spear of Justice and Shield of Courage are rather good, and seem to work as intended. They provide something, but in turn, also take away the instantaneous nature of the core virtues. No changes needed here.
- Wings of Resolve, on the other hand, is nothing but a pain. Its effect of only providing the heal upon landing, coupled with the fact that the caster remains entirely vulnerable to anything while it's being used, makes it a class mechanic that is effectively more harm than help. When it was first introduced, I got all excited that Guardian is finally getting a nice disengage skill, but as it turned out, it only made our virtue of resolve more difficult to use. There are 2 things I'd recommend here:
1) While it is being cast, Wings of Resolve should evade all incoming attacks.
2) The Soaring Devastation trait, which currently makes it so that Wings of Resolve damages foes upon landing should also provide 3 or 4 seconds of Resistance, so that in addition to the evade, conditions also cannot kill the caster mid-flight. (More on SD in the traits section)
Longbow is a long range weapon, and it was a great addition to Guardian, imo. It is basically meant to be Guardian's long-range CC weapon, yet currently, it doesn't really excel at anything in particular, and for a specialization that is meant to be all about melee mobility (looking at those "physically manifested" virtues, yo), it offers very little. Based on player feedback and my own thoughts, I'd recommend the following changes to its skills:
- True Shot - for a charged, position-locked attack, it does relatively sub-par damage. Though I can see why changes have been made to its damage in the past, so I'd recommend removing the position locking and allowing the caster to be mobile while casting.
- Deflecting Shot - This skill should knock back every foe it hits by default.
- Hunter's Ward - Either increase damage dealt, or bring its casting time on par with Ranger LB's Barrage (from 2 and 3/4 seconds to 2 1/4 seconds). Preferably the latter, and perhaps both. Reduce recharge time to 30 seconds.
And here comes the meaty bit. To fully realize what Dragonhunter is meant to be, a.k.a the mobile, battlefield damage dealer, Traps should be overhauled into an entirely different skill-type that would solve quite a few issues this E-spec struggles with. The new skill type should be similar to physical abilities, and quite frankly, should be called exactly that. I am sure even conceptually you can get away with it by saying that the DH uses their light-magic to enhance their abilities - or rather create beneficial (to allies) and harmful (to enemies) effects centered around their body (aka, position, just like the virtues!).
- Purification - The caster immediately heals (for a 25% lower amount than the present sum of the initial and on trigger heals) and breaks stun.
- Procession of Blades - Similarly to the Holosmith's Laser Disk skill, PoB should do exactly what it sounds like - Create 180 radius field of damaging blades made of light, which moves together with the caster and damages up to 5 foes caught in its range. As before, provides the Guardian with Fury, and damage stays about the same.
- Fragments of Faith - Breaks stun and provides the caster with 3 stacks of stability, while unleashing 5 Shards of Faith, which provide allies with Aegis.
- Test of Faith - The Dragonhunter's faith is tested - this skill applies 5 stacks of vulnerability to the caster, but for 6 seconds, damage dealt is increased by 15%, and each strike inflicted upon a foe causes cripple.
- Light's Judgment - This should be a channeled skill, which will give the Guardian 5 seconds of Retaliation and 10 seconds of Protection, and while channeled (2 seconds), every enemy hitting the caster will gain 3 stacks of vulnerability for each inflicted hit, and will receive Revealed (8-10 seconds) in addition.
- Elite Skill - Similarly to PoB above, this will create a ring that moves with the caster (for the duration of two seconds), and everyone caught in its radius will be pulled towards the caster and will receive slow for 4 seconds. The caster gains 10 Might as before. Probably should be renamed from Dragon's Maw to something else.
- Major - Piercing Light - Reduces the recharge time of Physical skills by 20%, and when activated, they remove a movement impairing condition from the caster.
- Major - Dulled Senses - Should stay the same.
- Major - Soaring Devastation - As mentioned above; in addition to dealing damage, the caster also gains 4 seconds of Resistance the moment the skill is activated.
Including the minor, this category has about alright abilities. I would, however, change around things a bit.
- Major - Bulwark - This trait is useless and should be replaced with an overhauled version of Pure of Sight. Yes, move the latter from Grandmaster Minor to Master Major. This way, there is some tradeoff of damage for extra mobility. This would also decrease the power creep slightly, really, in exchange for a more fun to play e-spec.
- Major - Pure of Sight - +120 Power and +120 Precision when wielding a Longbow. Also, Longbow skills' recharge time reduced by 20%.
...But Adam, what will be the Minor Grandmaster trait, then?
Well, glad you asked!
- Minor - Hunter's Speed - The Guardian's movement speed is increased by 25%, permanently.
- Major - Heavy Light - Gain stability and retaliation when knocking back, launching, or pulling an enemy.
And that's about it! Comments and feedback are absolutely welcome!
Dear Arenanet devs,
I also hope you are going to read these suggestions and take them into consideration! I really want to see this E-spec thrive, and I hope you'll find what I've written useful.