While the necromancer profession may be masters of condition manipulation and survivability, an often overlooked aspect of the necro is its massive potential for retaining high mobility. There are a lot of reasons why you might want to consider building for mobility vs. raw DPS or even putting too much emphasis on using Death Shroud like a killer Energizer bunny.
Like most build concepts, the first thing you need to ask yourself is “what is the purpose of this build, and what areas of the game will it provide the most benefit?” That’s absolutely the case here, so let’s take a look at some aspects of the game where it would be most beneficial to dial in a build focused on mobility.
The benefits here should be obvious: being able to successfully break away from fights or quickly traverse a given map to take advantage of under- or undefended capture points can make a huge difference. On the flip side, since most skirmishes tend to take place on capture points, locking down an enemy player while remaining mobile enough to make effective use of dagger builds can be equally beneficial.
World vs. World
Unless your home world is really putting the hurt on the other two worlds in a given match period, chances are you’ll have exceedingly limited options for where to respawn if you’ve been defeated in an area where allies aren’t able to revive you. Being able to cover ground quickly will not only get you back into the fight that much quicker, but can also help keep you mobile enough to respond to attacks against caravans or structures. Not to mention that it can be incredibly fun to watch enemy forces attempt to chase you halfway across a map only to give up in frustration when they finally realize they can’t touch you.
While most Renown Hearts and Skill Challenges will have a distinct focus on combat, you can save a lot of time tracking down POIs, waypoints, and vistas if you slot skills that can keep swiftness active most of the time.
With the right combination of chills, cripples, swiftness, and other movement enhancers, even some of the more difficult PvE content can be soloed. I ran into a perfect example of this last night. A champion Jotun had decided to take up residence at a local outpost, and with my inventory full I was dead set on reclaiming the outpost and reviving the merchants.
Making some quick adjustments to my build, I managed to defeat the champion mob, though it was admittedly a very long fight that would have gone much quicker had there been more players in the area to help out. The idea was pretty simple: keep the mob slowed as much as possible, dodge larger or ranged attacks, and cycle through marks and wells while leading the massive Jotun through them to eat away at his health. I made liberal use of death shroud to enhance my DPS while waiting for skills to recharge, dropping it at the midway point on my life force meter to make sure I had a backup plan in case I accidentally took too much damage.
There are no doubt plenty of other reasons why remaining highly mobile can be a massive advantage in different aspects of the game, but those are some of the most notable based on my own experiences so far. Now let’s take a look at some of the key skills or traits you’ll want to consider using if you want to make the centaur jealous on a regular basis.
A key to mobility builds is to not lose sight of your foe’s movement capabilities. While I’ll mostly be going over skills that enhance your own mobility here, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have skills that can apply chills, cripples, or even fear handy. This can also benefit you in different ways based on your weapon set preferences, or general playstyle.
For example, if your goal is to remain mobile for the sake of fighting at range using weapons like the staff or scepter, you’ll want to make sure you’re cycling through skills on both weapon sets that can reduce your target’s movement speed. On the staff that would be Chilblains, or even Reaper’s Mark for a short duration fear, while the scepter can provide Grasping Dead to apply 5s of crippled.
If you’re going in the opposite direction and intend to stick to a more melee focused build, some of the same concepts apply. The main-hand dagger skill Dark Pact can help you pin a target down to get into melee range, while hitting the warhorn skill Locust Swarm can help keep them crippled while stabbing way with your dagger. Focus offhand is also a good option here since you can chill your target via Spinal Shivers, while applying vulnerability and gaining regen via Reaper’s Touch.
Mobility Skills and Traits
Mobility skills for the necro come in a few distinct flavors: those that grant swiftness, those that allow us to teleport or shadowstep to or away from foes, and those that provide passive movement benefits.
Hands down, the top skill for gaining swiftness is currently Spectral Walk. It grants 30s of swiftness on a 60s cooldown, and can be an excellent choice depending on your goals for a mobility build. Once activated, you can sever the skill early at the cost of 3s of vulnerability, or you can simply keep the skill active and it will snap you back to the location of where Spectral Walk was activated. Both have their situational benefits, so it really comes down to your primary goal at the time.
Cycling in Locust Swarm on the warhorn will grant you another 10s of swiftness, so with just those two skills alone you can keep swiftness active 66% of the time.
Signet of the Locust will grant you a passive 10% increase to movement speed, and while not as good as swiftness, it can still be worth slotting if your primary goal is mobility.
The Flesh Wurm can also be used in interesting ways since its active skill, Necrotic Traversal, will allow you to teleport to the location where it was summoned. There is a set range that you can teleport this way, but I’ve found all sorts of creative uses for it as an escape mechanism, means of keeping foes in melee range, or even avoiding knockdowns or other incoming attacks when my energy is depleted.
In the traits department, there are a few majors that you might want to consider slotting depending on your preferred weapon sets and playstyle.
In the Curses line, Banshee’s Wail can reduce the cooldown on Locust Swarm and extend its duration if you’re using a warhorn offhand, and can be a solid choice in melee / dagger builds. Spectral Attunement can also be worth considering since it will extend the duration of Spectral Walk, and also enhance life force gain as an added benefit.
In the Blood Magic line, Quickening Thirst will allow you to move 10% faster when using a main-hand dagger, and 5% while wielding an offhand dagger. While this one obviously caters to more specific build types, it’s still a worthy trait to slot for mobility builds.
In the Soul Reaping line, Spectral Mastery can also enhance your Spectral Walk by causing your spectral skills to recharge 20% faster. This is an excellent trait to pair with Spectral Attunement from the Curses line. Speed of Shadows is also a great choice since it will allow you to move 15% faster while in death shroud.
There are plenty of other interesting synergies between mobility skills and traits, but that covers some of the key things to consider. To continue with the theme and provide some more detailed breakdowns of how these skills and traits can be used in a more specific build type, next week I’ll be taking a closer look at a few variants on playing a dagger necro.