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Scourge Analysis


Lily.1935

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"Necromancers , calling on the spirits of the dead, and even death itself, to overpower enemies and assist allies. In sacrificing Health and taking curses and diseases upon themselves, they can deal large amounts of damage to those foolish enough to oppose them. Dead and dying enemies become unwilling allies in their hands. Necromancers have the singular ability to absorb Energy from an enemy’s death, and can raise a fighting force from the corpses of their foes. Curses, which often cost the Necromancer dearly, exact an even greater toll from enemies, who find that their Enchantments and healing skills are rendered useless. Due to the sacrificial nature of their methods, Necromancers must practice patience and self-discipline to survive."— The Guild Wars Manuscripts

With the release of Path of fire we gained access to the 9 new elite specs. And Among them, The Scourge is one of the more interesting ones. The Mechanics of the scourge compared to the core necromancer are turned on its head. No longer is life force used to soak up large chunks of damage, but rather it fuels skills in order to hinder your foes and aid your allies. Shades are extremely costly, and require practice to use and really master. The Mechanics are rewarding when executed correctly and punishing when done wrong. The Scourge's play style puts the player in more danger than reaper or core necromancer is used to. Gone is the damage soak that we've relied on since the release of the game.

The Scourge is a welcome sight for GW1 veteran players. Which is why I quoted the Guild Wars Manuscripts. GW1 necro mains never quite found the correct home in GW2 because the play style of that necromancer was never translated correctly. The Core necro and reaper was a far cry from what we knew and loved and even other classes who were more similar to the GW1 necromancer then our own necromancer didn't quite have that same Feel we missed. Engineer is one I often compared to the necromancer because of its controlling and damaging elements seemed closer in line with how I'd have imagined the necromancer to be translated. But it was always lacking a mechanical element I loved in GW1 as well as the overall flavor of the class which left me yearning for what I had lost in the transition between the two games.

The Scourge has much of what I was missing from GW1. Mechanically it has similarities to the engineer tool belt skills and requires far more awareness of the player to properly control and activated their skills. They're fueled from death in a far more meaningful way than core necromancer has done and the skills being used feel weighty with a tangible cost to them. While this play style isn't for everyone, as many of the players have been complaining about it, it is the sort of style that was sorely missing from GW2. With that said lets start to get into the pro's and cons of the elite spec.

Life force Costs: To start lets talk about the cost of Life force. As many players have pointed out the cost of these skills are expensive. They require quite a bit of set up to achieve their max potential and often leave the player drained if not executed properly. Although many players feel that the skills are much too expensive I found that their cost was the sweet spot in terms of accessibility. You need to be aware of your life force, even more so than before. It acts as your primary means of Damage as wells as the means of some defenses. The unique nature of life force being slow to build up and quick to use promotes caution and patience on the player's part. Also to add to that, the way life force functions gives rise to new potential in vitality heavy armor sets. Giving them unexpected value on the necromancer were as before the benefits of vitality vs toughness were negligible. Due to the skills having a fixed cost this means a necromancer player will actually be incentivized to look into different sets of armor that they otherwise might not have considered in the past.

Barrier: Barrier is a very interesting means of defense. Some years ago I and a few others suggested a way for us to share our shroud out with allies, willing to sacrifice it for the defense of our allies. Barrier isn't quite that level of strength, however its scaling and strength are quite impressive as it stands. It can shrug off large chunks of damage and is a major skill tester for the player. When used poorly barrier is both useless for you and your allies. when used properly though the damage mitigation can far out pace other defensive methods other profession provide. Unlike Aegis Barrier stops rolling condition damage as well as attacks. While it doesn't stop an actual strike on your allies its defensive potential shouldn't be overlooked. With that said Barrier isn't without one major issue. Agony. With how its designed I really enjoy how its a skill tester for the player using it. Its decay rate is actually very reasonable considering how much it actually does. The over all design of it is fantastic. The one blight on its usage is Agony in fractals. A decision that doesn't make sense to me but barrier is reduced by 70% by it much like normal healing. I feel that this is far too steep considering that Barrier is not health. Although I wouldn't mind a reduction in the barrier's effectiveness from agony, but 70% is much too steep. Somewhere around 30% would be more reasonable which could give rise to necro healers in fractals on the most difficult of missions. As it stands now though, although its effective it isn't going to do anything to save allies inflicted with agony who are also worrying about taking massive damage.

Shades: The Shades allow for a great amount of Field control. Letting the player sit on a node and keep foes off of it. It also lets players in PvE position them in places that let them cause massive damage to multiple locations without actually being there themselves so they can focus on the task at hand. The Versatility of the shades gives them some very powerful and interesting uses. However, its not all good for the shades. Roaming in WvW, your opponents often have far more options to get around the shades in an open field to were placement becomes difficult to keep enemies off your back. Because of this an enemy could kite you and force you away from your safety zone while taking you out from range. This in my opinion is not a bad thing though. The scourge doesn't have to be fantastic at roaming solo. It works so much better in a group because of its other advantages that this shouldn't matter to necro players as they still have the option to just use reaper. The shades also have little restriction to where they can be placed which gives them fantastic utility while sieging or defending. The amount of utility that the shades provide should absolutely not be overlooked.

Punishments: I love the concept of the punishments each corrupting a boon into crippling and torment. Boon corruption didn't used to matter much in PvE and was often just ignored because of how the enemies fought you, it was never a real strategy. Although enemies had boons, often times the corruption of those boons offered no damage boost or a very minor one. With Punishments all corrupted boons become the same 2 conditions giving it consistency and making players pay closer attention to what the enemies are carrying. With that said, the punishments are a bit of a mixed bag in terms of utility and I'll explain why in more detail for each of them.

  • Sand Flare: The heal is a unique means of defense giving the necro that much needed barrier support. Although players who are by themselves shouldn't take this skill as the healing and barrier are very minimal and don't provide the massive condition cleans that Consume condition does, in a group is where this skill really shines. The fact that it corrupts a boon, has a short cast time lets this skill be a proactive heal rather than a reactive heal, meaning that you can push harder in combat than you normally would with other heals.
  • Serpent Siphon: This skill seems to be fairly inconsistent along with its barrier packs sometimes being fairly difficult to see among the chaos of battle. Its DPS isn't that great which wouldn't be a problem if its support was a bit more reliable but as it stands its competing with corrosive poison cloud which provides projectile block and significantly more damage. The barrier coefficient to this skill is fantastic and I just wish it was more reliable so I could take it on a support spec. It seems that the number of barrier packs dropped are linked to the number of enemies hit by it rather than allies it passes through. Which means you have to target the enemy if you want this to grant anything and the number of packs is restricted to how many enemies it passes through. This makes it inconsistent as a defensive options especially against bosses.
  • Dessicate: In terms of the life force gain I don't mind that aspect of this skill. however my primarly complaint with it is the might. Both low stacks and low radius makes this a pretty awkward support skill. It doesn't compare to Blood is power in this regard which provides more might at a longer duration. Although the recharge is quite a bit shorter, the issue I see here is its not different enough to warrant a spot over Blood is power. You could run both, however if you're going with a might gen support spec the torch and barrier application will still be more valuable. I'm not a fan of this skill currently and don't see use for it over other skills that can just do what it does better.
  • Sand Swell: One of the most interesting skills the scourge has access to, this utility has excellent in combat application. The barrier it provides is respectable and the combat portal is great. With that said, the skill still has its issues. While playing I found its pathing to be a major issue. Sometimes when I could see where I wanted to go I couldn't make it to that location, claiming that I had no line of sight. This limits its movement as I would have hoped it'd function more like blink with a portal between the two points. But because of this pathing issue the player will struggle with getting onto platforms that flesh wurm or other blink skills have the benefit of using. This issue doesn't completely strip the skill of use though, and I still find this to be a valuable skill on my bar for something like fractals or open world where distance is between two points becomes less of an issue in combat. For that, I absolutely love this skill. I just wish it didn't require that line of sight and functioned more like a normal shadowstep.
  • Trail of Anguish: I've been a bit down on a few of the punishments so far, but that doesn't mean they all of problems. Of the new skills Trail of Anguish is by far the best of them all. Giving stability and swiftness to yourself while also being a stunbreak gives this fantastic utility. its short cool down means it is likely to be one of the most effective stunbreaks the necromancer has for years to come. ToA's utility goes beyond just that though, as allies walking through it gain swiftness and stability. While you get one stack allies will gain multiple. A great touch to a great skill. It even burns foes. Its really hard to argue with this skill. It has no flaws in its design. Easily a home run, and one I've been loving the use of.
  • Ghastly Breach: The elite is our last punishment skill and I feel this one is exceptional. Although it directly competes with Plaguelands for a spot and its function has some similarities, I feel that its different enough to offer a real choice. While Plaguelands offers far more damage in the long term, Ghastly breach has the boon corruption utility, slow and a larger radius to really punish foes who walk into it. For roaming in PvE or for PvP I'd seriously consider taking this over Plaguelands due to its damage being far more burty and messing up your foe's boons. While in Raids and some fractals the DPS of the later part of Plaguelands is much too strong to pass up. This skill will also grant allies might while sitting in it. Although its not as powerful in terms of its DPS, its utility gives it a great argument.

Traits: I'm not going to go through all of the traits individually like I did with the skills. However each line has a clear identity which means easy understanding of what would work well together and how they could combo. Each one with a theme. Support, Damage and Corruption. This perfectly encapsulates what the elite spec is trying to do and each line does very well at pushing those strategies. Support gives more barrier access and might while also some condition cleans. The middle grants some superb condition damage even granting external synergies in the class that is a little bit surprising, really making you think about how you're going to build yourself. Corruption seems to be more in line with what a player would want from pvp, although i will not deny that in the future this line could be potent in pve given the right environment for it. The only trait I feel doesn't work that well in terms of the theme of the scourge would be Blood as sand. For such an offensive and supportive spec having a rather selfish and defensive trait like this is a bit off putting. I feel it doesn't quite mesh with the design the elite spec was going for and seems more along the lines of arena net not being able to think of something to put there. Its rather minor in the grand scheme of the elite spec as overall, the traits are fantastic.

Torch: The weapon is one of our best for PvE. And one I've been more than happy to play with. Its Damage is very good and the might is far more reliable than it was in the demo. This weapon's design and use are both excellent. Its minor life force it gives you is great as well. Allowing for a total of 15% if hitting 5 targets which is something the necromancer desperately needed in some situations. And the torch has us covered in that regard. My only gripe would be the radius of the might. Although I'd often get the might boost, allies wouldn't. And for low might gen groups I was hoping that the necromancer could fill that niche, but it seems that it just doesn't have the radius to do that. For personal DPS its still great.

With all of this said, lets look at perhaps the biggest issue that could hold the scourge back. And that's not the scourge elite spec itself, but the core necromancer. As much as I've praised the scourge for its design, and rightfully so, there are still some glaring issues that will and are limiting its functionality and diversity. The Cost of losing shroud is far larger than just the loss of massive passive defense. Its also cripples the power of many of the traits that were built around the player being in shroud. Because of this it limits the player's options for what to take. While not all of the traits that are supposed to function while in shroud are a complete loss, others absolutely are. Death Perception is a trait that only functions while in shroud, however I feel that it is an exception, being perhaps the only trait in this catagory that is still really potent with the scourge, giving rise to the power scourge. While if we look at the opposite spectrum of death magic, an already underwhelming spec, the issues really compile on this since part of death's theme is trying to get you to turtle in shroud for as long as possible. And this just doesn't mesh with the Scourge at all. While Blood and Spite fair far better than Death magic they are not without their problems on the elite spec. Life from death feels like it should be a perfect fit for a support scourge, but you have little control over the exit time of desert shroud while Unholy martyr will transfer a total of 2 conditions from allies and not make up for the loss of energy when using desert shroud. Spite only really struggles with this with rending shroud, as the 6 stacks of vulnerability isn't worth an adept slot on the scourge let along a master.

With that said, the specializations that fair very well in combination with the scourge would be Curses and Soul reaping. More so Soul reaping as there is a valid argument to be made in favor of blood. Curses has minimal synergy with shroud which makes it ideal for the scourge. While Soul reaping gains the benefit of boosting life force gain, reducing the cast time of shroud abilities, granting even more vitality to cast more ability as well as a 15% bonus to life force there is absolutely no reason you shouldn't take soul reaping. Dhuumfire triggers whenever a shade attacks which triggers with all of the abilities, Death Perception overcharges the power of Desert shroud on power builds and foot in the grave is still a better option on scourge than anything the death specialization could offer you. Soul reaping isn't without its problems though. It suffers from the lack of a real choice in the Master tier. Although I don't feel Vital persistence is too good of a trait, its great yes, its competition is so underwhelming that you really only have 1 option. If the other two also modified shroud abilities, or shroud in some way than there could be an argument there, but as it stands there just isn't.

With all this said, the only thing truly holding the scourge back in any capacity is the core necromancer. Overall, the design of the scourge is fantastic. it is by far the best elite spec of the expansion in my opinion. I have so much utility now and It feels absolutely fantastic to play. Its primary issues are mostly core necromancer issues and isn't the fault of the elite spec. I love the feel of it and its very rewarding to play. I honestly hope that this is a sign of the future for elite specs for the necromancer. I'm happy to drop shroud and I don't miss it one bit. If you haven't given the elite spec a try, absolutely give it a go! Its design isn't for everyone but for those who will enjoy it, you'll really enjoy it!

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i've been having some real fun as a death + blood + scourge, siphoning minion master of sorts. Scepter + torch / dagger + warhorn. half Viper's (armour + weapons) half Cavaliers (backpack + trinketts).

i agree with you whole-heartedly that it feels more like a GW1 Necro minion master than core necro did, allowing me to summon shades even when my minions can't keep up. sure, i lost the main shroud, but i mostly forgot about it and used it mainly for transfusion and fear. now i have access to more stuff without having to transform. i find i'm liking Scourge more than Firebrand, which is another elite spec taking me back to GW1, but that's a tale for another day.

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Very well written post and I liked that you touched a little on WvW solo roaming too.

Would like to share my thoughts further on that.

I agree that Scourge doesn't have to excel at solo roaming. As you said, it's group utility far outweighs Reaper and would be my go to choice for group plays as well.

And yes, we still have Reaper. But what made me sad though was the lost of the 7 second Reaper Shroud that shafted some of our roaming Reaper builds and playstyle.

Personally I held off trying out new builds and play styles for the roaming Reaper after the change to SoS. Having given Scourge a spin, and having felt it's terrible shortcomings against mobile range opponents, I'm heading back to experimenting with Reaper pronto.

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@Forgotten Legend.9281 said:i've been having some real fun as a death + blood + scourge, siphoning minion master of sorts. Scepter + torch / dagger + warhorn. half Viper's (armour + weapons) half Cavaliers (backpack + trinketts).

i agree with you whole-heartedly that it feels more like a GW1 Necro minion master than core necro did, allowing me to summon shades even when my minions can't keep up. sure, i lost the main shroud, but i mostly forgot about it and used it mainly for transfusion and fear. now i have access to more stuff without having to transform. i find i'm liking Scourge more than Firebrand, which is another elite spec taking me back to GW1, but that's a tale for another day.

Minions still need quite a bit of work to them. however, you must note that I look at specializations as a whole not one specific niche they have. For death we see that about a 3rd of the traits have something to do with death magic, and all of them have some poor synergy with scourge that's pretty bad. Considering that the whole of death aside from the minion traits are underwhelming already this just compounds the issue.

To add to this, I personally feel that the minion traits should be streamlined. Putting much of their utility into the base of minions and rolling most of it into one grandmaster trait, freeing more room up in this specialization for something else. I still feel that the two lower traits should do with summoning in some way, so maybe they could combo with shades or future summons like spirits.

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Very good write-up. Thumbs up.I agree Scourge is very well created elite spec - it alters game play a lot (actually completely changing it) and it plays amazingly well for me. I was really looking forward to Mirage but after 2 days of suffering I have changed to Scourge and I am having a blast. Not saying it is without issues - but again compared to Mirage it is cakewalk.Playing Viper/Sinister equip, Scepter/Torch, Curses 123, Soul reaping 123, Scourge 222 (Torch is amazing)

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I can agree that out of all the elite specs Scourge competes with only Deadeye for changing the classes playstyle completely. The rest are slightly different branches of the same class while Scourge is basically a whole new class that simply utilizes aspects of a necro. My sole complaint is the fact that the punishments are lacking. ToA is of course amazing but Sandswell lacks the freedom it deserves. only 900m range only 8 seconds CD between portal uses, pathing restrictions, and more make this ability hard to appreciate as much as i want to. the other two utility skills are arguably worthless entirely.

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@Rangerdeity.5847 said:I can agree that out of all the elite specs Scourge competes with only Deadeye for changing the classes playstyle completely. The rest are slightly different branches of the same class while Scourge is basically a whole new class that simply utilizes aspects of a necro. My sole complaint is the fact that the punishments are lacking. ToA is of course amazing but Sandswell lacks the freedom it deserves. only 900m range only 8 seconds CD between portal uses, pathing restrictions, and more make this ability hard to appreciate as much as i want to. the other two utility skills are arguably worthless entirely.

I think Sand Swell will be a matter of tweaking. They had to do a quick fix before release because of the crash issue. So hopefully they're looking into that. I'd love to use it in fractals and PvP like I would a normal blink. Its something necromancer's desperately needed before hand and now with the scourge even more so, so it being so restrictive is a bit problematic.

As for another problem I'm having... that 70% barrier reduction in fractals. Come on, Anet. You don't make it so Aegis is 70% less effective or invulnerability prevents only 70% of in coming damage in fractals. Why such a heavy hit on something that isn't actually healing? you're hitting this twice! cutting its duration and the amount applied. 30% I think is reasonable, but 70% for something that isn't actually healing is too much.

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@Lily.1935 said:

@Rangerdeity.5847 said:I can agree that out of all the elite specs Scourge competes with only Deadeye for changing the classes playstyle completely. The rest are slightly different branches of the same class while Scourge is basically a whole new class that simply utilizes aspects of a necro. My sole complaint is the fact that the punishments are lacking. ToA is of course amazing but Sandswell lacks the freedom it deserves. only 900m range only 8 seconds CD between portal uses, pathing restrictions, and more make this ability hard to appreciate as much as i want to. the other two utility skills are arguably worthless entirely.

I think Sand Swell will be a matter of tweaking. They had to do a quick fix before release because of the crash issue. So hopefully they're looking into that. I'd love to use it in fractals and PvP like I would a normal blink. Its something necromancer's desperately needed before hand and now with the scourge even more so, so it being so restrictive is a bit problematic.

As for another problem I'm having... that 70% barrier reduction in fractals. Come on, Anet. You don't make it so Aegis is 70% less effective or invulnerability prevents only 70% of in coming damage in fractals. Why such a heavy hit on something that isn't actually healing? you're hitting this twice! cutting its duration and the amount applied. 30% I think is reasonable, but 70% for something that isn't actually healing is too much.

yah fractals are the one place where skill will allow you to actually judged and barrier against the big strikes. but nah bruh fuck your skill in a place it can viably be used.

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@Rangerdeity.5847 said:

@Lily.1935 said:

@Rangerdeity.5847 said:I can agree that out of all the elite specs Scourge competes with only Deadeye for changing the classes playstyle completely. The rest are slightly different branches of the same class while Scourge is basically a whole new class that simply utilizes aspects of a necro. My sole complaint is the fact that the punishments are lacking. ToA is of course amazing but Sandswell lacks the freedom it deserves. only 900m range only 8 seconds CD between portal uses, pathing restrictions, and more make this ability hard to appreciate as much as i want to. the other two utility skills are arguably worthless entirely.

I think Sand Swell will be a matter of tweaking. They had to do a quick fix before release because of the crash issue. So hopefully they're looking into that. I'd love to use it in fractals and PvP like I would a normal blink. Its something necromancer's desperately needed before hand and now with the scourge even more so, so it being so restrictive is a bit problematic.

As for another problem I'm having... that 70% barrier reduction in fractals. Come on, Anet. You don't make it so Aegis is 70% less effective or invulnerability prevents only 70% of in coming damage in fractals. Why such a heavy hit on something that isn't actually healing? you're hitting this twice! cutting its duration and the amount applied. 30% I think is reasonable, but 70% for something that isn't actually healing is too much.

yah fractals are the one place where skill will allow you to actually judged and barrier against the big strikes. but nah bruh kitten your skill in a place it can viably be used.

The funny thing is barrier would actually help diversity in fractals. If scourge can block some of the agony on low HP professions this allows you to take fewer heavy bulk professions. Instead of just seeing the 4 reapers and a druid never die team but slow as molasses.

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@Lily.1935 said:

@Rangerdeity.5847 said:

@Lily.1935 said:

@Rangerdeity.5847 said:I can agree that out of all the elite specs Scourge competes with only Deadeye for changing the classes playstyle completely. The rest are slightly different branches of the same class while Scourge is basically a whole new class that simply utilizes aspects of a necro. My sole complaint is the fact that the punishments are lacking. ToA is of course amazing but Sandswell lacks the freedom it deserves. only 900m range only 8 seconds CD between portal uses, pathing restrictions, and more make this ability hard to appreciate as much as i want to. the other two utility skills are arguably worthless entirely.

I think Sand Swell will be a matter of tweaking. They had to do a quick fix before release because of the crash issue. So hopefully they're looking into that. I'd love to use it in fractals and PvP like I would a normal blink. Its something necromancer's desperately needed before hand and now with the scourge even more so, so it being so restrictive is a bit problematic.

As for another problem I'm having... that 70% barrier reduction in fractals. Come on, Anet. You don't make it so Aegis is 70% less effective or invulnerability prevents only 70% of in coming damage in fractals. Why such a heavy hit on something that isn't actually healing? you're hitting this twice! cutting its duration and the amount applied. 30% I think is reasonable, but 70% for something that isn't actually healing is too much.

yah fractals are the one place where skill will allow you to actually judged and barrier against the big strikes. but nah bruh kitten your skill in a place it can viably be used.

The funny thing is barrier would actually help diversity in fractals. If scourge can block some of the agony on low HP professions this allows you to take fewer heavy bulk professions. Instead of just seeing the 4 reapers and a druid never die team but slow as molasses.

exactly the point. the one place barriers would be most valuable is the place where its shit on the most

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