Choosing between the mesmer and the warrior: Which one wins?

Update: The following post is from before the game’s launch. I wrote about this topic again after having played both professions for a bit longer. You can find the post here.

In case you’re new to my blog: I’ve been to the EUFanDay in Brighton where we got to play Guild Wars 2. After our return, we were allowed to write about our game experiences. So I’m not breaking an NDA here by writing about my time in the game and my thoughts about the warrior and the mesmer class. You won’t find any deliberate beta leaks (it’s sometimes hard to know where somebody got their information, especially on the game wikis or the various websites listing the classes’ skills) in our blog! But enough of that. On to the great big horrible dilemma: Should I play a mesmer or warrior (as my main character)?

You may wonder why it’s even a question because those two classes are really different. But now that we don’t have roles like tanks, damage dealers or healers anymore, it’s really a question of which playstyle you prefer. And no, it’s not even as easy as melee or ranged as both the warrior and the mesmer are capable of both. Though it’s physical DPS with a rifle or longbow for the warrior while the mesmer has a scepter, a staff or a greatsword for ranged magical damage. Yes, a greatsword. And since there are no auto-attacks, this means that the mesmer doesn’t actually hit enemies with the greatsword.

What I like about the warrior-class in general is that they’re usually… well, not exactly “easy to play”, but straight forward. They jump right into the battle and are generally not as fast to die than, say, a cloth-wearing mage class. And I do tend to get my character into trouble regularly by running forward without looking around the corner first. ;) So a warrior-class is usually the better choice for me as it leads to less frustration. While I was in Brighton, I tried out the warrior, of course, and the mesmer. So what was it like playing them? I played the mesmer for the first few levels in the Norn starter area. And I played a warrior in structured PvP (level 80, of course) and in a dungeon (level 30). I know this doesn’t make both classes 100% comparable. But I did get a general feeling of how it could be like to play those classes.

The warrior was more or less the standard that you would expect if you have played such classes before. I was told by two others that the warrior can dish out quite a lot of damage when played with a two-handed weapon (I was dumb and didn’t realise I could have two weapon sets once she was set to level 30. This was no upscaling, by the way! We had an NPC that allowed “members of the press” to level their character to 30 immediately, which obviously was too much input at once for me ^^). I went for my usual routine: Sword and shield! Together with traits/skills that gave me health regeneration, less incoming damage etc. I must say, I didn’t die that often during our dungeon run. I also don’t think I was in downed state too often (I didn’t count, of course). All in all, I was happy with her. She jumped into the fight and dished out damage. Occasionally, she could stun the enemy for a second or so (if I remember correctly, that even worked on bosses! What didn’t work was a knockback on some bosses. But my memory could trick me here ^^). What I loved, however, was the active blocking. I could activate this skill and block incoming damage for a few seconds while waiting for my healing skill’s cooldown to run out! Lifesaver in more than one situation, let me tell you. That was just a short overview of what I experienced. It was… as I had expected. A brute playstyle, always in the middle of the fight, never hiding or backing down. Well, dodging away but only to jump right back into the action! Guild Wars 2-style, of course! So yes, I had a lot of fun playing her. You do notice that the combat is different than in a lot of other MMOs. So even the warrior class, as straight-forward as it was, wasn’t boring to play at all. And that was just one weapon set (and just imagine what I could have done if I had realised I could use two weapon sets… silly me). There are so many other weapons to play with – and, of course, other traits and skills to choose.

The mesmer, one would think, is the kind of class I wouldn’t enjoy: She’s a cloth-wearing class that has a melee sword in her hand. That can’t go well, can it? But, amazingly, it did! At least for the few levels that I played her! Now she’s not as brutish as the warrior. She’s a mesmer, after all, elegant and skimpily dressed. You never play alone as a mesmer as you can have up to three illusions with you! ;) There are two kinds of illusions: The first one is called a “clone”. Those look exactly like you do. The second one is a “phantasm”. They are see-through and thus, easy to differentiate from you. They also have different weapons than your character (you can find more information on the official website). But you can’t control them in a way a pet class can. Which is good for me because while I like the control, I’m also usually annoyed with the whole micromanagement. You can, however, switch positions with an illusion for a few seconds after calling one (depending on the skill). Now, if your enemy (mostly thinking about PvP here) has you as their target, you won’t just disappear from their target when you call an illusion. However, if you’re in the middle of a fight and somebody else from the other side appears, it will certainly be fun hiding in between the illusions. Okay, I admit, I have no idea how difficult – or easy! – it will be later on once we’ve all got tons of experience under our belt. But I assume it’s great to have this moment of confusion for yourself.

As I said, I played my mesmer with a sword and a pistol. The pistol gave me two skills. One is a shot that gives a debuff to three different targets. Well, it gives three different debuffs, to be more precise. And the other is a phantasm with a pistol. I have to admit, I never paid attention to how much damage each of my illusions did. I only know that I was intrigued by this playstyle. It’s certainly not comparable to how a warrior jumps into the middle of a fight and still survives due to brute force. The mesmer relies on tricks (switching positions, going invisible for a bit, teleporting, etc.). The end result, however, is the same: Both attacked in melee, which I love doing, and survived, which is a nice side-effect, isn’t it? ;)

So, which one does win? It’s hard to say right now. I know that when I first heard about the mesmer, I was intrigued because it reminded me of my frost mage back in Burning Crusade’s WoW. But after playing the class, I know it’s even better. It’s a mix of that frost mage (playstyle-wise) and a melee class (if played with a sword) and it almost sounds like it was made just for me! I’ll definitely also create an asura warrior. But I guess the asura mesmer will be my main character. I like melee but I’ve been looking for a class like that frost mage (back in BC, the playstyle in PvP did change since then, unfortunately) and I’m just excited about trying out the mesmer and I do hope this class will give me what I’m looking for… which is a melee-capable class with lots of annoying tricks up its sleeve (and no, thief is out of the question because I’m too impatient for stealth).


  1. It surprised me, but I found the necro felt even less squishy than the warrior when I demoed the game (likely due to the second life bar and my life-stealing setup, though of course your damage output vs. warrior doesn’t quite compare), so the choice is between those two faster classes for me. Hopefully we can spend enough time with all those uncertain professions in the BWEs to make final decisions!


    1. Yes, that’s what I noticed as well when I fought against a necromancer in PvP. They’re really annoying! ;) I don’t really like the look of the necromancer’s pets (some of them, at least), so that’s the main reason I’m not too interested in the class. But other than that, it really sounds like something fun to play.

      I’d probably need another BWE to try out the mesmer in structured PvP (and, of course, read the skill descriptions before I do so because I’ve only played her at low levels so far). I chose the warrior over the mesmer for PvP in Brighton because we didn’t have that much time to get settled and I figured it’s easier to play a warrior and memorize what those skills do. ;)


  2. First, thank-you for sharing your perspective on the two professions. The closer I get to laying my own hands on the beta, the more I need any and all vicarious experiences to help stave off my impatience.

    As to which to make your main, I’m certain you’ll get plenty of opportunity to try them out before the game actually launches, and that of course will be the true test, but I wanted to share an observation;
    Based on what you wrote you seem to have selected warrior based on expectations of what that type of classes usually represents, but there’s definitely a note of greater excitement in your writing when you discuss the mesmer.
    I’ve been looking through the skills and traits info we have so far, and it seems to me that it will be possible to build several very different types of each profession – ones which will suit a number of different styles of play.
    If you look into it, I’m sure you can find a build for mesmer which will dove-tail with your own preferred style of play, so it really just comes down to your personal preference on aesthetics of the two professions and their mechanics.

    Like the DEVs keep saying, “It’s not the profession or build you bring… it’s how you play it.” If mesmer is the one that intrigues you the most, then find a “dive into the fray” style of build for mesmers so you feel comfortable with the character, and enjoy.


    1. If you have any questions, maybe I can answer them. Although I’ve only played those two classes so my knowledge is extremely limited. ;)

      Your observation is absolutely right. I do feel quite enthusiastic when it comes to playing the mesmer because I feel that this class gives me the playstyle and the challenge that I love. I’ve also looked at possible builds and found a few that I really liked. It may also be that a melee mesmer in PvP doesn’t work well. But for those fights, I could still use a ranged weapon instead. I don’t mind ranged weapons in PvP. ;)

      It really does give us lots of options for each class about how we want to play them. :)


      1. You know, I do have a question or two (or three) about the mesmer you played. Although it was only early levels, I assume you had access to at least the first shatter effect (mind wrack) and perhaps the second one also? (cry of frustration) and I wanted to know the “relative” level of damage those delivered compared to the weapon skills on the sword.
        Basically, if the sword would kill mob “X” in 2 or 3 skill uses, then how many mind wrack shatters would do an equal amount of damage… or some other more suitable comparison. I’m not looking for exact numbers (beta is beta after all) I’d just like some idea of the effectiveness of the profession’s mechanic.

        Many folks have questioned the usefulness of the various clones and phantasms of the mesmer for “deception” but I honestly feel like anything more than a moment’s hesitation is an unrealistic goal. To me, they are more about their direct effect on combat via damage/dot/stun/defense, eg; the shatters. At least, that’s how I intend to employ them.

        I’m hoping that phantasms do effective enough damage to let them hang around for awhile, but clones are something I want to summon specifically for the purpose of shattering them. Did you feel that there were enough ways to generate clones and phantasms? Was the process of shattering those effective and relatively easy? How did their impact on combat compare to the other weapon skills? Did you have a chance to experiment with different traits, and specifically did you use (or see used) the trait: Deceptive Evasion?

        Hopefully the next BWE will be coming along soon, and I’ll be able to get some first hand tinkering with traits and skills done, but until then, any insights would be much appreaciated.


        1. Good questions there. :)

          First things first, something I hadn’t known is that your illusions disappear when the mob you were fighting when the illusion first appeared dies. I noticed that when I already had illusions out during a fight against a mob and some other mob added to the fight, the illusions disappeared once the first mob was dead and I was left with none. So, I assume the shatter skills come in very handy here. It’s better to shatter them when they’d disappear in the next moment anyway.

          However, I didn’t use those shatter skills often because I was too busy getting everything else right that I usually forgot about them. ;) I don’t think they’re doing that much damage but that’s just a very subjective feeling because I didn’t look at the damage numbers. I just thought that the confusion, daze and distortion are probably more useful in specific situations.

          That said, I always had enough illusions out! Leap ( has a 10 second cooldown. Then I had the pistol in my off-hand which let me call a phantasm every 15 seconds ( Too bad you’re limited to only 3 illusions at once! ;) So yes, the way I played, I always had enough illusions and ways to get them. Well, two skills at least and only in PvE. But it seemed enough and there are more skills that let you get clones.

          In PvP, I think the clones are very nice for confusing your enemies. There is one skill that I saw yesterday… I forgot its name. It lets you disappear and a clone appears at the point where you disappeared. When you disappear (I assume it means going invisible for x seconds), you’re not your enemy’s target anymore and that can lead to confusion. Bookahnerk just said something interesting: In GW2, your skill still gets cast/used even if you have no target which then means that the enemy player might waste a skill (and its cooldown) on nothing. Of course, this goes for thieves as well who go invisible. But in this mesmer skill’s case, the clone appears and might confuse the enemy player long enough to not stop the skill in time. ;)

          Having said that, I am certain that it’s not a mechanic to permanently hide between your clones. ^^ It’s for confusing your enemy and gaining those 2 seconds of extra time. Or for confusing those enemies who appear a few seconds later and didn’t see which one is the player (that’s me speaking from my PvP experience with the warrior where I was hitting a mesmer and then wondered if it’s even the player or the clone. I had no idea and without enough experience, it was difficult to tell. Of course, we may be able to identify the real player within a few seconds later on. But again, you need to spot them first! Spotting one character out of 1 is a lot easier than spotting one character out of 3 that look identical at first glance).

          There is a similar skill in WoW for their mage class which makes clones appear. There, you get 4 or so. And the mage also has invisibility. So, similar mechanic. But those clones look a lot more… mechanic. Also, as they appear at the same time, skilled players can also tell which one’s the real player and which ones are the clones. But it might still be interesting to have a look at how effective (or not ^^) this skill is in their PvP.

          I couldn’t play with traits because I was too low level… and not a fan of norn at all. I like them in theory but not when playing them because they’re so… tall. So the first chance I had, I created a charr and she was a warrior because I wanted to test both classes. I do regret the decision a tiny bit because the warrior played just as expected (which is good because I liked it ^^) and it might have been more interesting to test the mesmer a bit more.

          Shattering was easy enough, I guess, because it’s just the F1 to F4 skills. You just need to remember you actually have them. ;) Same happened with my warrior and her adrenaline skill. I kept forgetting she has it.

          Deceptive Evasion sounds like a good skill. You certainly do dodge regularly. But in this case, I’d say the calling of this clone is definitely more to have them for shattering than confusing your enemy because they’re usually not that dumb. You’re in their target and they know which one is the real one. Again, if somebody else comes along, it may confuse them for a short time, though. There’s also a skill called Illusionary Defense (in the chaos traitline) which give you 3% less incoming damage for any active illusion. Sounds nice enough. :)

          I can’t wait for the BWE now! Definitely need to try out the mesmer more. They said it’ll be at the end of April, so that’s 2 weeks at the worst. ;)


          1. The skill you were wondering about where you disappear and a clone is left in your place is called Decoy.
            It also has the nice effect of breaking stuns, so it definitely has a spot amongst my three utility slots.

            Your third paragraph was both reassuring and exciting to read. It definitely seems like it’s relatively easy to get at least one (and often two) illusions on the weapon slots – combine that with a good one like Decoy in the utilities, and possible another one or two through traits, and it seems like you’ll be able to crank those out at a fairly respectable rate.

            Oh, and “yes” I definitely was thinking that the clone created by the Deceptive Evasion trait (which is left behind you when you dodge) was very much for use as an immediate shatter – probably the daze effect shatter (diversion) or the defensive shatter (distortion) since you are most likely attempting to get away from a mob/player that is pressuring you. The combination of putting a clone directly in their path to use for a shatter, and also getting some distance between you and them is outstanding I think. I kind of wish the Distortion shatter also put the Swiftness boon on you, but hopefully there will be some traits we can take to augment our speed.

            Thank-you for taking the time to give such a full answer, and here’s to looking forward to the end of April… cheers :-)


  3. This is probably completely insane but, here’s the first trait build I will attempt on a mesmer once I get into a BWE… (easy to experiment with these by simply going to PvP and getting leveled to 80 with all skills/gear/etc available to select from.)
    20 pts Illusions
    +200 malice, +20 guile
    minor traits: illusionists celerity, illusionary retribution
    major traits: imbued diversion, phantasmal haste
    20 pts Inspiration
    +200 vitality, +200 compassion
    minor traits: vengeful images, phantasmal healing
    major traits: restorative mantras, restorative illusions
    20 pts Dueling
    +200 precision, +20 prowess
    minor traits: critical infusion, deceptive evasion
    major traits: empowering mantras, protective mantras
    10 pts Domination
    +100 power, +10 expertise
    minor trait: illusion of vulnerability
    major trait: harmonious mantras

    sword / pistol
    sword / focus
    (so, really just swapping out the off hand weapon here… not sure how well this will work in practice, but at least at first glance, I definitely like the sword main hand skills and would stick with those normally.)
    mantra of recovery
    mantra of pain
    mantra of distraction
    mass invisibility

    This build ultimately may fail from attempting to be too diverse and not focusing enough on one trait line to the exclusion of others, but it’s the first one I would want to experiment with since it incorporates excellent offense in the form of critical strikes chance and crit damage plus good condition damage, and some healing/defensive capabilities so it’s not a complete glass cannon and can get in there and mix it up a bit.
    Having “some” healing coming in all the time from the Inspiration traits, and some defense from the various stealth and daze/interrupt skills and traits combined with using the shatters offensively and aggresively should make for an interesting experience… for me… and whoever is unfortunate enough to be the opposition.

    Obviously, this also focuses on the use of mantra style skills (one in the healing slot and two in utility slots) and is dependent on those skills being viable options. If they are, then this augments their usefullness considerably, and increases the character’s base damage by simply having them on the hotbar. If they prove to not be viable options, then considerable re-working of the selection of traits will be needed of course.

    *guiltily looks down at feet*
    I’ve done this same sort of thing with necro, warrior, and elementalist classes so far… the necro looks nearly unkillable and is a healing+death shroud using machine.(no minions) The warrior build looks like a damage dealing nightmare with high mobility and incredible spike damage output. And it’s entirely possible the elementalist build is the most versatile of them all (scepter/dagger) with something similar to what you see here with the mesmer mantras except using the ele cantrips… the ele could also use a style of utilities with the conjure utility skills that would cause them to function almost exactly like an engineer – except with EVEN MORE skills at their disposal.

    I… um… have too much time on my hands…


    1. Sorry, was busy and tired in the last few days. ;)

      I’m thinking of something like this: with an undecided second weapon set. ;)

      I like the idea of having the illusions for extra effects like more damage and less incoming damage. Then a teleport, a group-teleport, decoy, desperate decoy and mass invisibility.

      Okay, I’ll probably end up being the very annoying person who doesn’t do too much damage because close to none of my skills are about damage. ;)

      I am curious about the way to spend skill points. Will 30/30/10 be the norm and the superior builds? Or will 20/20/20/10 be superior? Or will different kinds be viable? :)


      1. That’s a nice combination of skills, giving excellent mobility and stealth options. A lot depends on how you spend your trait pts, and which major traits you select.

        There are several different “flavors” of mesmer possible with the traits as they are currently constituted, and until it’s proven otherwise I’m going to believe the DEVs who are saying it’s less about playing an approved “min/max” build of the month, and more about how YOU play a build that suits your particular play style.

        Regarding the damage dealing potential; there are several different types of damage to select from. Straight up just increasing base damage done with various skills can be addressed by putting points into Domination and increasing the Power attribute, or you can choose to augment how often you crit and how much extra damage you do when you crit, in which case points in Dueling to increase your precision and prowess attributes will get the job done. And there is the third option of heavy reliance on condition damage (the death of a thousand cuts) in which case you’d want to put points into Illusions for the malice attribute and Domination for the expertise attribute.

        The build I’ve chosen to try first on my necro is a 30/30/10, but that has everything to do with the style of necro I want to play (no minions) and how I want to support that. The supper high damage warrior build I’m looking at is a 25/25/20, while the extremely interesting ele build I’m looking forward to trying out is a 30/20/20, and the mesmer build I suggested here with the heavy use of mantras was a 20/20/20/10.

        Four different classes, four very different “vibes,” with four different play styles, and four different variations on the breakdown/distribution of trait points. Right now, I believe each of them is not only “viable” but potentially good enough to cause the DEVs to consider “nerfing” certain traits, but only time will tell.

        *drumbs fingers on desk and looks at calendar… again*


        1. That all sounds very well thought out. :)

          When you say “no minions”, do you mean there are no minions out at all or that you just don’t rely on them but they’re still there? As you can see, I haven’t really paid attention to necromancers, mainly because I’m not a fan of those minions (look-wise). I mean, in theory, they’re great. But I don’t want to play with them myself. ;)


          1. Nope… no minions at all. The necro build I’m looking at trying first is a combination of 30 Blood Magic / 30 Soul Reaping / 10 Spite with heavy emphasis placed on life stealing, building life force very, very quickly, increasing nearly all aspects of the Death Shroud class mechanic (size of LF pool, speed of it’s depletion, damage done with life blast skill, mobility and stability while in DS form, etc, etc…) and essentially being the “ultimate sandbagger” in PvP and nearly unkillable in PvE.

            Healing skill is Well of Blood, and none of the utilities are minions either. (Technically, I could still summon a minion or two via the Lich Form elite skill form which is also part of this build.)

            The build takes one of the two professions with the largest health pools to begin with (warrior and necro) and then augments that as much as is possible via traits resulting in the maximum size of health pool. Comined with nearly constant healing via life stealing, and very rapid building of life force, (the resource used for the Death Shroud form) along with the ability to slip in and out of DS more often, and augmented mobility, stability, duration, and damage while in DS and… well… I think this guy is going to be quite a force.

            I’m actually counting on the idea that many folks will just assume they have “caught” me at a moment of weakness because they don’t see any minions, and perhaps launch any attacks prematurely as a result, only to realize far too late that I do not rely on them at all.

            Nearly everything this necro does is both damaging the enemy AND healing himself… the same attribute package that augments his health pool size also increases the effectiveness of his heals. Allies will find him a very welcome presence on the battlefield as many of his heals are AoEs. Everytime he dodges he leaves a Mark of Blood behind which will bleed foes and heal allies. His well of blood healing skill is selected to go along with the nearly constant life stealing to keep that massive health pool topped off regularly, and also benefits allies in the vicinity.

            If the build works as intended, then I will routinely engage superior numbers of opponents in PvP with the express purpose of keeping them occupied trying to kill me, and thus providing my team mates with superior number advantages elsewhere on the battlefield. If I can keep 2 or 3 opponents fruitlessly trying to stomp out this little necro cockroach, then my team will have 2v1 advantages at other locations on the map.

            Although the focus is on high mobility (certainly much higher than normally expected from a necro) I’m also looking at being able to “take control” of cap points if needed and I’m really interested in experimenting with the use of several styles of AoE life steals and HOTs (heal over time) in combination with Lich Form (which will double an already greatly augmented health pool.)

            Obviously, it remains to be seen whether this build concept will hold up in actual game play, but it’s definitely the first necro I want to try out. I will also experiment with minion builds at some point too I’m sure, but they are not as attractive to me at first glance. I want a “mosh pit diver” of a necro… not someone who stands back conducting traffic. I want opponents to say, “F*** Dracula! THAT necro is the REAL vampire lord!”


          2. I think I’ll just have to copy that and try it out myself. It sounds intriguing and I really am not a big fan of their minions. But I want a sylvari necromancer and if they can be played without minions, then this class just came up from the last ranks on my to-play-ladder. ;)

            I love having several enemy players trying to kill me while we’re on a totally unimportant spot on a map. I always sit here and giggle because they probably don’t realise that I’m doing this on purpose to keep them away from more important parts of the map. I did that with my healer in WAR and my tank as well… the tank worked even better. Hehehe. One lousy tank who doesn’t even deal much damage but three others trying to get him down. SO useless. ;)

            Or the classic: Slowly luring the enemy players away from the flag… I’m amazed this strategy works so often. ;)

            So yes, having a class that can do that sounds very nice. :)


          3. The “mysterious” archeravatar… o_O
            Have to admit, that really tickled.

            I take it as the highest compliment that writers of such interesting and intelligent blogs enjoyed some of my comments. Thank-you for sharing that with me. It was very life-affirming for me.


          4. Hehe. Well, you are certainly mysterious. You appear in people’s blogs but nowhere else. ;) Although I’m not sure he meant it that way but that’d be my interpretation. While we, obviously, talk about our commenters behind their backs (well, okay, on Twitter which is public ^^).

            And I take that as a compliment as well. Thank you. :)


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