Now that you have a good idea of the history of Mesmers, and how Mesmers fit into GW2. It's time to get more analytic around here and go into the gritty details of traits, and builds, and stats. This will most definitely be the longest post of the ones to date, but I promise if you read through it the information will be well worth your trouble.
(Note: I realize it's probably worth mentioning that until Guild Wars 2 actually releases the trait lines will most likely change, so take this information with a grain of salt. Depending on when you're reading this it may or may not be completely accurate to the current state of the game. Because of this I'm going to try and be as general as I can with the builds and trait suggestions. That way if the trait lines change during the course of later Beta Weekend Events, and the eventual Release sometime in 2012, at least some of this information will still be pertinent.)
Starting out, and leveling
I'm a firm believer that when leveling up in PvE you should always put your first five points into the Chaos trait line. Metaphysical Regeneration is simply spectacular for starting out leveling. The regeneration this gives you means that you can run through larger mobs, and even higher level mobs, without having to worry about your health as much. Furthermore, you have the freedom to be a little more careless with the encounters you engage in. If you take an extra hit that puts your health below 75% the regen can almost completely negate the damage you just took.
After those first five points the rest of your point allocation has a lot to do with how you plan to flush out your character. Keep in mind though that until you get to level 40 you'll be limited to 10 points in any one trait line, so at the earlier levels it can be fun to diversify a little (you're somewhat forced to, actually) and find out what some of the trait lines you hadn't been considering have to offer. Once you unlock the major traits at 10 points you are free to change them whenever you're not in combat. Go ahead, experiment around, use all the major traits and find out which ones work best for you. It doesn't cost you anything. One person may really enjoy the traits that give them bonuses for interrupting foes, but if you find that interrupts are a little challenging for you then maybe it would be a better idea to go for some of the passive abilities. A 30% bonus to your Mind Wrack damage can definitely finish off mobs quickly with a well timed spike.
With all that being said though, here's some basic builds I've put together that should serve as a good starting point for pretty much anyone who wants to give Mesmers a try. I feel that there's enough utility and variety here to cover pretty much everything, but if you've got a great build idea that isn't covered here feel free to let me know. I'm always open for ideas and suggestions.
So without further ado, let's get right to it.
The Melee Mesmer
Primary Stats: Power, Precision
Weapons: Sword + Torch // Greatsword
Many of you have read my previous post about the Melee Mesmer so this may be more of a refresher, but for the sake of completeness I figure it merits including so everything can be together in one place.
Initially I had thought up this as a PvP build. The rational was that the Mesmer has enough survivability and escape options that if you used good tactics it would potentially be possible to stand toe to toe with any class. Furthermore, the ability to use dodge as a method for Illusion generation meant that you could free up some utility slots for escape skills. I still have to do some testing with some of the more specific aspects, especially whether or not the stealth at 25% trait will allow you to survive one of the many "one shot warriors" running around right now or not. The questions is that if a warrior slaps you for a 17k crit, or a serious hundred blades hit, would the stealth override it and negate the damage that goes past 25% of your health? Or would you straight up die? I feel it's worth some looking into, because if you can survive their initial hit then I feel the Mesmer has a distinct chance of taking a warrior on straight up. Though it definitely wouldn't be all that easy and you'd have to be a boss at utilizing Distortion at the right times. It's possible, that in the current meta game a warrior would probably be the hardest 1v1 match up right now (probably for anyone actually).
At any rate, when I thought up this idea I was mainly doing PvE content with my guild I figured I'd branch out a little and see if maybe I could get a Melee idea to work in PvE. And it did. Since most mobs don't have the capacity to one shot you, apart from some bosses, you don't need to slot in as much survivability and can instead focus on increasing your damage output, though having a high vitality and toughness is definitely a good idea. Other things that change in PvE is that you no longer need to focus heavily on traits that drop conditions, or increase mobility since mobs generally don't kite you much. The one issue with this build is that given the prominence of ranged classes right now in GW2 it can be tough getting a hit in before everything dies, which can potentially limit your 'contribution value' for dynamic events. Once ArenaNet fixes Illusionary Leap, and the subsequent swap skill, I don't think that will be as much of an issue though. If it was up to me the range could be increased as well, I feel it's a little short to act as a true gap closer and as it stands right now if I keep running at my target then by the time the Illusion has leapt I'll already be on top of the mob anyway.
Either way I've still been having fun with this build. It definitely gives the Mesmer some good straight up damage potential. It also feels like something you shouldn't be doing, which I really like.
The Condition Mesmer
Primary Stats: Toughness, Vitality
Weapons: Staff // Scepter + Pistol
Without question I was using a build like this for much of my leveling. Back in my WoW days I had fantasies of playing a warlock, but for whatever reason I never stuck with leveling one up much past the 50s. This build definitely feels like it fills that void. It's got some serious survivability (so much so that I could even argue that with some minor tweaking it could be great in PvP) you just have so much toughness. It can, however be rough starting out because it won't be until you get to lvl 60 where your toughness will start to contribute towards your condition damage. But after that point you get some serious damage output. It's pretty stupid actually. Though, even at low levels (~25) I've soloed champion mobs with some effective use of kiting.
Something worth pointing out is that you absolutely have to get Illusionary Elasticity. Remember the primary staff attack is actually a bounce attack, so that extra bounce means more conditions on your foes or an extra might on an ally. Also because of this if you're soloing mobs it's actually a good idea to try and stay just outside of melee range that way the bounce of your staff will bounce off of you as well and really mess some stuff up. You don't really have to worry about getting hit because with all that toughness you've been stacking you're going to have a lot of damage reduction.
As a final note I've got a plan to play around with Decent Into Madness in PvP. On paper it sounds like it could make for a lot of fun. There's enough height in the Battle of Kyhlo that you could easily take fall damage when you initiate on someone. Land on someone's face with a surprise chaos storm and then start wrecking. It might work?
The Healing Mesmer
Primary Stats: Healing, Vitality/Toughness
Weapons: Staff // Scepter + Focus
ArenaNet lied. There are totally healers in GW2 and I feel like there's a lot of merit to the healing Mesmer. If you're running a lot of dungeons, or dynamic events you can help out a ton of people given that there's no upper limit to how many people can currently benefit from the Phantasmal Healing, they just have to be in range.
With the right Phantasm generation skills you could essentially keep regeneration up 100% which is super awesome in fights that have constant DoT pressure such as the Lovers in Ascalon Catacombs. You just have to make sure to take Persisting Images, that way your Phantasms will actually stay alive long enough to help. I also recommend going with ranged Phantasms, they tend to do a much better job of not getting dead.
Then if you want to further go crazy with the healing you can take advantage of mantras, which are super fun by the way, as a way to actually heal your party. It takes a little bit of planning, but since the Mesmers have mantras up the wazoo you can really start going crazy with the healing. And with a mantra for a healing skill combined with being able to trait most mantras to activate twice it can get totally nuts. Heal yourself, heal your party. Interrupt the boss, heal your party. Remove your conditions, heal your party. Kill a mob, heal your party.
Talk about Synergy! I Love It! It's like being a freaking priest. A confusion generating, damage dealing, phantasmal arcane death priest. Totally Boss.
And there you have it. Hopefully by now you'll have some ideas on how to go about playing a Mesmer, or maybe I just confused you even more. Heck there's so many options that honestly I don't even know which way I'll end up going in the end, but that's half the fun. The ability to have so much diversity in one class is simply amazing. And that's what makes GW2 worth playing. Regardless who you are there's guaranteed to be a class that fits your play style.
Have fun out in Tyria my Mesmers! From here on out Madame Valerian will be on Sorrow's Furnace. Don't be a stranger!