Along with mastering the various weapon sets you’ll have access to, it can be equally important to understand the various skill lines each profession brings to the table. In this guide we’ll be taking a closer look at the skill lines for the necromancer profession, including notes on themes, supporting traits, and any shared functionality in combat.
If you’re looking to learn more about the necromancer profession in general, don’t forget to check out our main Necromancer Guide, and our advanced guide to the necro’s unique profession mechanic, Death Shroud.
Skill Lines and Supporting Traits
The necromancer has access to 6 different skill lines, each with a shared overarching functionality, activation method, or theme, and a varying amount of supporting traits. You could think of skill lines as a means of categorizing our various utility skills into groupings that make them easier to understand, balance, and factor into your overall build.
The following breakdown includes lists of skills for each skill line available to the necromancer, and any traits that enhance or alter their functionality in some way. However, it doesn’t include actions that cause a specific skill or skill type to trigger. For example, Last Gasp isn’t counted towards the number of Spectral traits since it doesn’t enhance that skill line, but rather replicates one of its skills based on a combat trigger (hitting 50% health).
The traits listed are followed by an indication of which trait line they belong to, and the minimum number of points you’d need to spend to unlock it. The abbreviations used are as follows:
- Spite – S
- Curses – C
- Death Magic – DM
- Blood Magic – BM
- Soul Reaping – SR
|Skill Line||Skills||Supporting Traits|
|Corruptions||Blood is Power
Corrosive Poison Cloud
|Master of Corruption (C / 20)|
|Marks||Mark of Blood
Marked for Death (Lich Form)
Mark of Horror (Lich Form)
|Spiteful Marks (S / 20)
Greater Marks (DM / 10)
Soul Marks (BM / 20)
|Minions||Summon Blood Fiend
Summon Bone Fiend
Summon Bone Minions
Summon Flesh Wurm
Summon Shadow Fiend
Summon Flesh Golem
|Training of the Master (S / 20)
Minion Master (DM / 10)
Protection of the Horde (DM / 15)
Flesh of the Master (DM / 20)
Death Nova (DM / 30)
Necromantic Corruption (DM / 30)
Vampiric Master (BM / 20)
Fetid Consumption (BM / 30)
Signet of Spite
Signet of the Locust
Signet of Undeath
|Signet Mastery (S / 10)
Signet Power (S / 20)
|Spectral Attunement (C / 20)
Spectral Mastery (SR / 10)
|Wells||Well of Blood
Well of Corruption
Well of Darkness
Well of Power
Well of Suffering
|Focused Rituals (C / 20)
Ritual of Protection (DM / 10)
Ritual Mastery (BM / 20)
Vampiric Rituals (BM / 30)
As you can see, certain skill lines have far more associated traits than others with Minions having the most direct trait support, and Corruptions receiving the least. In some cases these numbers can be slightly misleading, since you have to consider the interactions of the skills beyond their associated skill line.
Using Corruptions as our example, it only has one trait that supports that skill line directly. However, you have to keep in mind that Corruptions skills are all focused on Conditions, so traits that improve condition damage or duration will also benefit any Corruptions skills.
Necromancer Skill Lines
Now let’s take a closer look at each individual skill line, its overarching theme and functionality, and how you might want to consider working skills from that line into your overall build.
This is an interesting grouping of utility skills in that it serves two core functions: inflicting conditions directly, and condition manipulation. It’s important to note that Corruptions skills will also cause a negative condition on the caster, but this is primarily to allow you greater opportunities to transfer those conditions to foes, or benefit more from the Consume Conditions healing skill.
With that in mind, if you plan on using Corruptions in your build, you’ll want to consider using the following weapons:
- Staff – When triggered, Putrid Mark will transfer conditions from allies to nearby foes
- Scepter – Feast of Corruption will do more damage and generate more life force for each condition on your target
- Dagger (off-hand) – Deathly Swarm will transfer 3 conditions to your target on a successful attack
With the exception of two skills gained temporarily while the Lich Form elite is active, this skill line is wholly focused on making effective use of the staff. In that regard, Marks are a somewhat unique skill line for necros since the focus remains entirely on weapon skills rather than dependencies on utility and weapon skill interactions.
That’s not to say that Marks don’t pair particularly well with certain utility skill lines. Staff / Minion builds can be particularly effective, while pairing Staff / Wells with the Focused Rituals trait slotted can make necros very powerful AoE masters.
Minion skills are similar to Signets in the sense that both provide a passive and active benefit, though the passive benefits from minions will only apply after they’ve been summoned. Unlike Signets, their passive benefits also come in the form of causing damage, and functioning somewhat like mobile DoT skills.
As you will see above, Minions are the most heavily trait supported of all necro skill lines. As such, they can be a utility skill line that tends to factor more heavily into your overall build and gameplay style than most others as well. You can go a couple of different directions with minions: build them for better survivability (thus augmenting sustained DPS) or keep them in their weaker, natural state so that they can blow up and provide some additional burst damage.
In terms of weapon pairings, you may want to consider the following:
- Staff – The Marks from the staff can help chill enemies, and keep your minions alive longer
- Scepter – Grasping Dead will cripple foes, which can help make minion bombing via the Death Nova trait a bit more effective
- Focus – If you’re building your minion army for survivability, Reaper’s Touch can provide another form of regen to keep a small HoT (heal-over-time) on your minions.
Signets are a skill line that all professions have with the exception of the engineer. The way they work is that, once slotted, they will provide you with a passive benefit of some sort while also having an ‘active’ skill interaction. The active skills tend to have much longer cooldowns than other skill lines (between 60 and 180 seconds depending on the skill) so will see a bit more situational use in combat.
You could think of signets as a means of enhancing other aspects of your overall build, depending on the purpose and playstyle you’re aiming for:
- Plague Signet – great for builds focused on condition manipulation
- Signet of Spite – Improves direct damage slightly, and can help you quickly apply conditions though on a longer cooldown (90 seconds)
- Signet of the Locust – Improves mobility while passive, and a minor heal via life steals on a 60 second cooldown
- Signet of Undeath – Great for builds that factor in Death Shroud, with a great active support skill that revives nearby allies, though on a very long cooldown (180 seconds)
The spectral line is a bit of an odd duck in that there is no real overarching theme between the skills, and each one will see very situational usage. You could possibly make a case for Spectral skills being about enhanced survivability, but then Spectral Grasp doesn’t really fit that particular mold.
Instead, you want to ask yourself, “What other aspects of my build do I want to enhance?”
- Spectral Armor – Good for survivability and generating life force
- Spectral Grasp – Great for dagger builds, and one of my favorite skills in WvW since you can use it to pull enemies into a swarm of your allies to prevent them from escaping or running into keeps to defend.
- Spectral Walk – Works sort of like a reverse shadow step ability, and can be used for either mobility or a survivability mechanic
- Spectral Wall – A good group support skill, but as a ‘wall’ it can be sidestepped by enemies far more easily than AoE skills
Wells tend to be some of the necros most powerful utility (and healing) skill options, but with one major catch: they can’t be used underwater. That aside, on land Wells can be great for condition manipulation, and Well of Blood tends to be one of the best heal skills available to necros. With the Focused Rituals trait slotted, they can also become ground targeted, and otherwise are particularly effective in sPvP while fighting on capture points.
There are only a few traits that support Wells, but they tend to be some of the strongest supporting traits for a single skill line. Ritual of Protection, Focused Rituals and Vampiric Rituals in particular are all solid trait options if you intend to work multiple Wells into your build.
Another thing to keep in mind with Wells is that they create combo fields. As such, Well of Blood can assist with condition removal, while your other wells will create a Dark field that adds life stealing or blindness depending on the attack (Finisher) type used.