These are my general thoughts of the Necromancer elite specialization: the Reaper. I was able to try out this elite specialization for the first time ever in the first beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns! This elite specialization was my favorite to test out on the weekend.
The greatsword is an interesting weapon that rewards positioning while channeling skills. Each greatsword skill is pretty good and rewards you well for successful hits. Let’s go over each of the skills:
Dusk Strike (Skill 1): The basic attack which chains into Fading Twilight then Chilling Scythe. These attacks feel good and are pretty smooth.
Gravedigger (Skill 2): A heavy hit that you have to channel for a second which is a decent trade off for the damage this skill does
Death Spiral (Skill 3): This is one skill that you don’t want to miss, it takes a second to channel but getting all the hits of this skill on an enemy will apply around 12 stacks of vulnerability which is amazing.
Nightfall (Skill 4): This is an AoE you place around yourself that damages foes and applies blind and cripple. I really like this skill on the greatsword because it helps with using skills 1, 2 and 3
Grasping Darkness (Skill 5): This damages and pulls in any enemies that are in range. You also apply poison and gain life force for each enemy it hits. This is a nice medium ranged crowd control skill that has the added benefit of a condition, damage and life force. Nothing to complain about here.
I can see players having a bit of a hard time if they solely use Gravedigger or Death Spiral alone because they can be easily dodged or interrupted. However, if you work in Grasping Darkness into Nightfall as prep for Gravedigger and Death Spiral then you can do a lot of damage.
The Reaper shouts are pretty great. They act a bit like instant Necromancer wells and are more effective the more targets you hit.
The biggest annoyance with Reaper shouts is the cast time. The utility Reaper shouts should not have or have a really low cast time. The elite shout’s cast time is fine due to it being an AoE stun. Maybe the heal’s cast time can stay as well. But players shouldn’t have to consistently worry about their utility shouts being interrupted. It doesn’t feel good, in fact, it feels strange considering most shouts are instant or channeled due to having a channeling effect. In the case of a channeling effect, the shout Rise can be the exception and have a small channel.
Reaper Shroud was really fun to use and I have done tons of damage getting reaper combos off. An important thing to note is that any basic traits used for Death Shroud also work with Reaper Shroud. For example, the Necromancer Soul Reaping trait Dhuumfire works with Death Shroud Skill 1 and Reaper Shroud Skill 1. Speaking of shroud skills, let’s break them down:
Life Rend (Skill 1): The basic attack which chains into Life Slash then Life Reap. These attacks, like greatsword, feel good.
Death’s Charge (Skill 2): Very nice sliding skill for getting out of AoE or re-positioning. Provides an AoE blind at the end which is a nice bonus
Infusing Terror (Skill 3): This skill is essential for Reaper Shroud as it grants you pulsing stability which allows you to use the Reaper skills with long cast times successfully. You can cast the followup skill Terrify for a fear
Soul Spiral (Skill 4): Your “spin to win” skill; it does really good damage
Executioner’s Scythe (Skill 5): This skill stuns a target and leaves behind a field of ice which is great because other surrounding enemies are chilled
Executioner’s Scythe into Soul Spiral is a great combo to land. Popping Infused Terror, for the pulsing stability, gives you a greater chance of completing both skills since you can be interrupted. After Soul Spiral there’s enough time to use Terrify for the fear.
The Reaper specialization line mostly compliments Reaper Shroud. You can use your other two specialization lines for a primary purpose and have Reaper Shroud as your secondary purpose or you can focus most of your traits on your Shroud for your primary source of damage.
To conclude, Reaper is an amazingly fun specialization and Necromancers finally have some good consistent damage with Reaper Shroud and greatsword. All I think is needed is the removal of cast time on the utility shouts (or reduce the times to a shorter cast time) and the elite specialization would be in great shape.
Summed Up In Video Format