Guild Wars 2 Specializations Guide - Learn About All the Possibilities!
Guild Wars 2 Specializations Guide
Specializations (also called trait lines) are one of the major means of creating a GW2 build. They consist of traits that can empower various aspects of your character and types of abilities. You can unlock them with Hero Points. Every specialization has three minor traits that can't be changed. Moreover, players get to choose three out of nine major traits from each tree.
On the Guild Wars 2 release, each profession had five core specializations to choose from. Currently, the number has been increased to seven, with the addition of two elite specs available in the Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire expansions (you have to buy them to gain access to these specs though). There's a possibility of third Elites if ArenaNet releases another DLC, but as far as we know, there are no such plans at the moment. A level 80 character can have three full specialization trees, but only one of them can be Elite. It presents a lot of possibilities to the players in terms of optimizing their builds for specific goals (power damage, condition damage, healing, boons et cetera).
You can freely switch your Specialization setup when you're out of combat. You should have different builds prepared for different types of content. For example, DPS players in raids will focus almost exclusively on reaching as high damage numbers as possible. On the other hand, if you're adventuring alone in the open world, you will need a little more survivability, since you won't have designated healers or tanks.
In this guide, we're going to look at all nine Guild Wars 2 classes and the specialization trees that they have at their disposal. The point of a trait line often is to empower a specific weapon and/or skill type.
The full list of Guardian's specializations is Zeal, Radiance, Valor, Honor, Virtues, Dragonhunter and Firebrand (the last two are Elites).
Zeal – a core specialization that empowers Spirit Weapon skills and Symbols. It synergizes with greatswords and scepters as weapon choices. It's used in many offensive builds, with major traits such as Fiery Wrath and Kindled Zeal working incredibly with condition DPS setups. All the minor traits in this tree empower Symbols, so you might want to incorporate as many of them as you can onto your skill bar, if you're going with this spec.
Radiance – another specialization that works well with burning and other conditions. Furthermore, it buffs torches, swords, and Signet skills. The minor traits improve your Virtue of Justice and provide extra critical chance against burning foes. Moreover, major traits like Retribution and Healer's Retribution empower your Retaliation – the ability to return some of the damage that you take. This spec is great for builds that need utility, condition DPS or a mixture of both.
Valor – a defensive tree that enhances shields and meditation skills. It focuses on blocking, damage mitigation through multiple defensive boons, and cleansing conditions. The minor traits generate Aegis and provide extra boons for blocking attacks. Major traits like Communal Defenses and Altruistic Healing provide a ton of utility for the whole group.
Honor – another specialization that mostly focuses on supporting teammates and providing utility. It empowers weapons like mace and staff while increasing the efficiency of shouts and symbols. The minor traits focus on dodging, regenerating Endurance, and healing allies as you dodge roll. Almost all the major traits provide some forms of defensive boon, healing, or cleansing conditions.
Virtues – as the name suggests, this spec enhances Virtue skills. It also empowers the AoE Consecration abilities that you can place on the ground. The minor traits provide boons to you and your allies, as well as increase the damage you deal for each boon on you. It can also provide some useful tools against disabled effects.
Dragonhunter – damage focused Elite Specialization that provides access to longbows and trap skills. It allows Guardian to play as ranged DPS, but it also works well with greatswords. It transforms Virtues into their upgraded versions, including Spear of Justice and Wings of Resolve. The traits further enhance those skills, provide extra damage, and synergize with blocking. It's a very popular specialization both for open world and power DPS setups.
Firebrand – the second Guardian Elite Specialization unlocks axes and replaces Virtues with Tomes that you can activate to get a new set of offensive or defensive skills temporarily. This specialization synergizes with builds that require boons and other types of utility, as well as some condition damage.
In terms of combining different specializations, there are some clear synergies. If you're going for a power DPS build, you will almost always go with Dragonhunter and Zeal, as they give you the most damage that's not based on conditions. With support builds, you should probably utilize Firebrand and Radiance, since they synergize well and provide a ton of both offensive and defensive utility combined with significant condi DPS.
The Warrior's specializations are Strength, Arms, Defense, Tactics, Discipline, Berserker, and Spellbreaker.
Strength – this tree is focused around dodging enemy attacks and increasing direct damage. A lot of the minor and major traits improve dodging, endurance regeneration as well as provide Might and Power. Some other traits improve fighting with a hammer and Physical skills. Very useful spec for melee power DPS builds.
Arms – a specialization focused on critical hits and condition damage. Minor traits generate critical chance, condition damage, and allow you to inflict bleeding with critical strikes. Thanks to the major traits like Wounding Precision and Blademaster, you can further increase your condition damage, especially with a sword. It's a must-have for every condi DPS setup.
Defense – a specialization that helps with enduring damage and staying alive as long as possible. The minor traits provide extra Toughness, self-healing, and Retaliation. You can get even more defensive stats from major traits like Defy Pain and Dogged March, but you can also gain some damage if you choose Armored Attack or Cull the Weak. In general, Defense is rarely used, since you rarely ever need true tanks in GW2.
Tactics – a strong supportive specialization that focuses on warhorns, Shout skills, healing, and applying boons. The minor traits allow you to apply Might to your allies, as well as get self-healing and increased damage output. With major traits like Soldier's Comfort, Empower Allies, and Phalanx Strength, you can offer a lot more healing and boons to all your teammates. This spec is used in multiple builds, mostly ones focused on supporting the group.
Discipline – an essential tree that empowers the generation of the Warrior's unique resource – Adrenaline. Besides, it empowers weapon-swapping and Banner skills. It's really valuable because a lot of meta Warrior builds heavily rely on Banners. All the minor traits empower weapon swapping, while the major ones can have different effects. Burst Mastery and Warrior's Spring generate a lot of movement speed, while Brawler's Recovery lets you cleanse conditions, and Axe Mastery provides additional damage with axes.
Berserker – this Elite Specialization provides access to off-hand torches and a new profession mechanic called Berserk Mode that lets you use devastating Primal Burst skills. It also enables a new resource – Rage. Berserker is a DPS tree that can work with both power and condition damage. The major traits like Blood Reaction and Bloody Roar can enhance your direct damage, while options like Heat the Soul and King of Fires work extremely well with condi DPS that's based on burning.
Spellbreaker – the second Warrior Elite Specializations provides access do daggers (both in main and off-hand) as well as Meditation skills, and an entirely new mechanic called Full Counter. It allows you to absorb the next enemy strike and counterattack all the nearby enemies, interrupting them. It's a great mechanic that lets skilled players block powerful attacks and create a lot of disruption. Minor traits allow you to remove boons and recharge Burst skills faster. You can use the major traits like Pure Strike, Loss Aversion, and Enchantment Collapse to strip even more boons from your enemies and gain extra advantages from that. Spellbreaker provides a lot of utility, but it can also work with power DPS builds.
In terms of combinations, Berserker and Arms should both be included in every condi DPS setup. Discipline is a key spec whenever you want to focus on supporting your group with Banners. You can combine it with Strength and one of the Elites if you're interested in power damage, or with Arms for condi DPS. Spellbreaker can be utilized whenever you need boon stripping.
The list of Revenant's specializations is Corruption, Retribution, Salvation, Devastation, Invocation, Herald, and Renegade. Almost every one of them is associated with a different Legendary Stance.
Corruption – a specialization that empowers the Legendary Demon Stance. It works extremely well with condition DPS and weapons like axes and maces. All the minor traits provide additional value to inflicting torment onto your opponents. You use major traits like Venom Enhancement and Diabolic Inferno to inflict additional conditions, or ones like Replenishing Despair and Pulsating Pestilence to actually profit from conditions that affect you.
Retribution – a defensive tree that's associated with the Legendary Dwarf Stance. It empowers hammers as well as dodging, blocking, and Stability. The minor traits help with dodging and the resistance to disables. The major traits can provide additional sustain or Retaliation. This spec is not used that often, but the Stability can be extremely valuable for kiting enemies in certain scenarios.
Salvation – a supportive spec that provides a significant amount of healing. It synergizes with staff and the Legendary Centaur Stance. The minor traits let you create Healing Orbs when you dodge roll and provide additional healing power. You can use major traits like Selfless Amplification and Tranquil Balance to make your heals even more effective, or provide other utilities with ones like Binding Truths or Words of Censure. Salvation is used in Revenant's support builds.
Devastation – damage focused specialization that empowers swords and the Legendary Assassin's Stance. It's used in many DPS builds, especially the ones based on direct damage. The minor traits let you apply Vulnerability to your targets and deal even more damage to targets affected by this condition. They also empower dual wield weapons. The major traits provide multiple options for further increasing your DPS – many of them utilize critical chance and critical damage. One of these traits – Notoriety – is really interesting. It provides more direct damage at the expense of condition damage. Devastation is a very popular spec that finds its place in almost all DPS setups.
Invocation – an unusual specialization that provides additional positive effects when you channel a legend. It also helps with increased critical chance and damage. The minor traits in this tree allow you to generate Fury and increase your DPS from both direct and condition damage. You can buff these stats even more with major traits like Rising Tide, Incensed Response, and Roiling Mists. At the same time, other major trait choices can provide cleansing conditions, self-healing, and other utility. Invocation is very versatile, as it gives some value to every Revenant build.
Herald – this defensive Elite Specialization provides access to shields in your off-hand and focuses on the Legendary Dragon Stance. It also enables a new mechanic that allows you to buff allies, called Facet of Nature. Herald is an excellent option if you need extra tankiness or utility. The minor traits provide some maximum Health and increased boon duration. In terms of major traits, you can choose a lot of different utility skills with healing, more boons, movement speed, and even some extra damage. Herald is used in most of the support setups, and some power DPS builds.
Renegade – this Elite Specialization enables a new, ranged weapon – short bow. It's connected to the Legendary Renegade Stance and provides access to valuable Citadel Order abilities on F1-F3 keys. This tree is incredibly powerful whenever you want to deal damage, even more so if it's condition DPS. The minor traits provide additional critical chance and condition damage. You can take major traits like Blood Fury, Heartpiercer, and Lasting Legacy to get even more value from crits and bleeding.
As usual, there are some inherent synergies between the specializations and their traits. Salvation and Herald go together really well if you want to keep your allies alive and provide them with boons. Corruption and Renegade can combine powers to create one of the most reliable condition DPS builds in the entire game. Invocation can work in every damage focused setup, but in conjunction with Devastation, you can get a lot of direct damage with critical hits.
Most of the Engineer's specializations refer to a specific type of technology that they use as skills, kits, or weapons. The list goes like this: Explosives, Firearms, Inventions, Alchemy, Tools, Scrapper, and Holosmith.
Explosives – a specialization that empowers bombs and grenades. The minor traits allow you to inflict Vulnerability to your targets and deal extra damage. Meanwhile, the major traits can provide a lot of critical chance and critical damage. It's an excellent specialization for damage builds, mainly focused on direct DPS.
Firearms – another damage focused specialization. It greatly synergizes with pistols, rifles, flamethrowers, critical strikes, and condition damage. The minor traits allow your crits to inflict bleeding and increase your chance to land crits on bleeding targets. You can elect to support your team's condition damage with Pinpoint Distribution, or be more selfish with traits like Thermal Vision and Modified Ammunition.
Inventions – a utility-focused specialization that enhances turrets and provides a lot of Defense. The minor traits empower your healing spells, making them cleanse conditions and grant Protection. Major traits can provide more boons and remove yours and your allies' conditions. Inventions are very useful in supportive builds, especially if you need a reliable way of removing conditions.
Alchemy – another supportive tree that can help with boons, healing, and condition removal. This one empowers Elixirs. The minor traits make you automatically drink certain Elixirs when you reach a specific threshold. In terms of major traits, you can use Purity of Purpose to convert your allies' conditions into boons and provide other types of utility.
Tools – an interesting tree that empowers the Engineer-unique Tool Belt skills. It also emphasizes dodging and provides Endurance regeneration. The minor traits provide Vigor, the shorter cooldown on the Tool Belt abilities, and a bit of extra damage. You can use the major traits to get even more Endurance regeneration, an additional value of dodging with options like Adrenal Implant and Power Wrench.
Scrapper – a great supportive Elite Specialization. It unlocks hammers as weapons, Gyro skills, the AoE wells, and a new mechanic called Function Gyro. Minor traits in this tree provide bursts of speed and temporary barriers. You can provide a lot of utility to your teammates with traits like Gyroscopic Acceleration and Expert Examination. Most importantly, though, Scrapper brings a ton of value with Function Gyro. It's a great tool for reviving fallen allies.
Holosmith – the main Engineer's DPS Elite Specialization. It can work really well with both power and condition setups. It provides access to a new resource called Heat that's associated with a unique profession mechanic – Photon Forge. When players activate it, they get access to new, high damage skills. On the flipside, they start heating up, and when they overheat, they receive damage. The minor traits provide healing and extra damage based on your Heat. The major ones can help you inflict burning or generate Might. All the strongest DPS builds utilize Holosmith.
Rangers work very well with bows. They also have a unique mechanic – animal companions. Their specializations are Marksmanship, Skirmishing, Wilderness Survival, Nature Magic, Beastmastery, Druid, and Soulbeast.
Marksmanship – this specialization synergizes with longbows, fighting from a long distance, power DPS, and Signet skills. The minor traits focus on the Opening Strike mechanic – adding additional effects to your first attack as you enter the combat. You can get even more direct damage with major traits like Hunter's Gaze and Farsighted. Meanwhile, Lead the Wind makes your longbow skills pierce through enemies. Marksmanship is used in many power DPS builds.
Skirmishing – an offensive specialization that also provides a significant amount of utility skills. It synergizes with short bows and swords, empowering traps, bleeding, and critical hits. Its minor traits provide extra bonuses when weapon-swapping and reward the player for smart positioning. There are a lot of different options in the major traits. You can go with extra condition damage, enhanced crits, or dodges.
Wilderness Survival – a defensive tree that emphasizes dodging, regeneration, and conditions. Your minor traits let you recover Endurance more quickly and get Protection as well as health recovery whenever you dodge. You can get some greater defensive buffs from your major traits. You can also elect to focus on condition damage with ones like Poison Master, Ambidexterity, or Refined Toxins. In PvE, Wilderness Survival is used almost exclusively in condi DPS builds, but this spec is really popular in WvW setups.
Nature Magic – this specialization is entirely focused on supporting your group with boons and spirits. The minor traits provide some boons to you and your pet and make your pet receive all the boons that you do. You can also use major traits that provide extra healing and boons to your nearby allies, or some more selfish ones that increase your survivability.
Beastmastery – a specialization that empowers Rangers who fight together with their animal companions. It also empowers melee weapons like greatsword and axe. The minor traits increase your pets' stats and decrease the cooldown of swapping pets. As far as major traits go, you can deal a lot of additional damage thanks to Potent Ally, Honed Axes of Two-Handed Training. You also have an option to play your pet as a tank with traits like Beastly Warden, Go for the Eyes, and Wilting Strike. Beastmastery is only used in specific DPS builds, but it's a lot of fun to complete various open-world activities alongside your animal companion.
Druid – a great Elite Specialization that allows Ranger to become incredibly potent support and healer. It enables staff as a weapon and introduces a new profession mechanic called Celestial Avatar. It also empowers Glyphs. The Celestial Avatar unlocks a new set of skills that help with keeping your group alive. The minor traits further increase healing power. You can also use major traits like Celestial Shadow and Grace of the Land to buff your allies and increase their damage additionally. Druid is the most important specialization in every supportive Ranger meta build.
Soulbeast – this Elite Specialization unlocks main hand daggers, stances, and a unique mechanic called Beastmode. It allows you to merge with your pets and access a new set of skills. Its minor traits provide extra damage. The major ones can provide some sustain, offensive boons, and empower your stances. Soulbeast is often used in many DPS builds, both power and condition-based.
The best Ranger builds combine the specializations that can synergize with each other. Soulbeast and Beastmastery have innate synergy. You can add Marksmanship to them if you're interested in power DPS. Skirmishing and Wilderness Survival are very useful for applying conditions, so they're often used together. Finally, if you want to heal and support your group, you can go with Druid and Nature Magic.
Basically, all the Thief's PvE builds are focused on dealing damage or enhancing the team's damage output. The profession has some defensive specializations, but they're not as efficient as the offensive ones. The full list consists of Deadly Arts, Critical Strikes, Shadow Arts, Acrobatics, Trickery, Daredevil, and Deadeye.
Deadly Arts – damage focused specialization that empowers daggers, poison, and a Thief-unique mechanic of stealing items. The minor traits let you inflict poison and weakness as well as deal additional damage for each condition on your target. The major traits can provide additional power or conditions (depending on the type of build that you're going for). It's an incredibly useful spec that's used in basically every DPS build.
Critical Strikes – another offensive base specialization. Unsurprisingly, it's focused on increasing critical chance and critical damage. It also empowers Signet skills. The minor traits provide extra critical strikes and damage. You can pick major traits like Assassin's Fury, Practiced Tolerance, and No Quarter to buff these stats even further. The other options empower Stealth Attacks and provide some utility. Critical Strikes are another extremely popular specialization used in a majority of meta builds.
Shadow Arts – a defensive specialization that empowers self-healing, Stealth, and staying alive. These aspects are enhanced traits in this tree – you can enter Stealth whenever you use a healing skill, you can remain in that state longer, and your Stealth Attacks become stronger. The minor traits can provide more sustain and condition removal. Shadow Arts are not used that much in PvE, but it's a useful spec for WvW.
Acrobatics – another defensive specialization that's focused on dodging and mobility. The minor traits allow you to regenerate Endurance quicker and provide Swiftness as you dodge roll. The major traits choices can grant you even more dodging, as well as stun breaks and condition removal. Similarly to Shadow Arts, Acrobatics is not often used in PvE, but it can work for some very specific builds that require a lot of mobility and dodging.
Trickery – an interesting tree that's focused on the stealing mechanic and generating the Thief-unique resource called Initiative. Both of these aspects are buffed by the minor traits. The major ones provide various boons as well as inflicting and removing conditions. Trickery is not optimal in terms of DPS, but it can be useful in specific situations.
Daredevil – an Elite Specialization that unlocks staff as a melee weapon. It also provides access to physical skills, extra blocks, and sustain. The minor traits increase Endurance and let you inflict weakness onto your targets. You can get extra value from dodging and Endurance thanks to the major traits. Daredevil is used in many strong DPS builds. Usually, they're relatively easy to play, as they deal a lot of damage with auto-attacks. The attacks can hit multiple enemies at the same time.
Deadeye – the second Elite Specialization also provides a lot of damage. It unlocks rifle as a viable weapon and replaces Stealing with a new mechanic called Deadeye's Mark. It can greatly amplify single target damage. The minor traits further empower the Deadeye's Mark. You can amplify it even more with your choice of major traits. Deadeye is another great option for DPS builds, especially if you're more interested in killing off compelling single targets.
In PvE, the best combinations of spec trees are quite simple. You just want the Deadly Arts, Critical Strikes, and one of the Elite Specializations. This setup will result in the highest possible damage output. The open-world and WvW builds are a bit more flexible. They often utilize Shadow Arts, Trickery, or Acrobatics.
Four of the five Elementalist's base specializations are associated with specific elements and their attunements. The remaining three specs can support these spells by providing various buffs and introducing interesting mechanics. The trees are Fire, Air, Earth, Water, Arcane, Tempest, and Weaver.
Fire – the fire spells provide a lot of condition damage from burning. This spec also buffs the conjured weapons. The minor traits empower your fire spells and increase the damage you deal to burning enemies. You can also use major traits like Burning Precision and Burning Rage to increase your condi DPS even further. Some other options can provide more Might, cleanse conditions, or bring some other valuable effects. The majority of DPS builds utilize this element.
Air – attuning to air enables you to get a lot of boons that can provide movement speed, critical chance, and critical damage. It's instrumental in power DPS builds. The minor traits provide movement speed, damage, and stronger crits. You can further empower these stats with major traits like Ferocious Winds and Raging Storm. There's also a fascinating trait called Fresh Air – it allows you to have much more uptime of attunement to air.
Earth – a semi-defensive specialization that focuses on auras, damage mitigation, signets, and applying some conditions. Its minor traits let you inflict cripple to your enemies and reduce the amount of received damage. In terms of major traits, you can increase your condition DPS with Serrated Stones and Strength of Stone. Also, there are multiple defensive options that can allow you to remove conditions, tank more hits, or support your group. Earth is often used in offensive and hybrid builds that focus on auras.
Water – another utility-focused tree. It provides a lot of healing, regeneration, and other types of usefulness. The minor traits allow you to passively heal nearby allies when you're attuned to the water. The major traits choice can provide further healing, condition removal, or apply vulnerability to your targets and increase your allies' DPS. Water is critical in every Elementalist support build.
Arcane – the last base specialization focuses on improving your own damage output, boons, and swapping between elements. You can provide boons to yourself and your teammates thanks to the minor traits. The major ones can provide various types of utility and damage – Bountiful Power is a very interesting choice, as it increases your DPS based on the number of boons that you have. Depending on your setup, you can use Arcane in both power DPS and supportive builds.
Tempest – the first Elite Specialization unlocks an off-hand warhorn and Shout skills. It also introduces a new unique mechanic – overloading attunements. The overload skills are really powerful, but they increase the recharge timer of their attunements. The minor traits provide the extra boon duration and some defenses. The major traits like Unstable Conduit, Tempestuous Aria, Invigorating Aria, and Elemental Bastion empower your auras and shouts even further. This specialization is mostly used in support builds, but the overload spells can also provide a lot of damage.
Weaver – the second Elite Specialization gives Elementalist more options as a melee DPS. It unlocks swords as main hand weapons and provides access to stances. Moreover, it introduces a new mechanic called the Dual Attack. It enables you to combine two elements at the same time. The minor traits can provide increased attributes and some extra defense. The major ones can grant you multiple different boons like Barrier, Superspeed, and Vigor. Weaver is a great specialization for multiple damage-focused builds, both the power and condition DPS.
The Elementalist's combinations are relatively straightforward. Air and Fire are the strongest DPS elements, and Weaver is great for dealing as much damage as possible. You can also go with Fire and Earth if you're interested specifically in condition DPS. If you want to heal and support your group, you should look at Water and Tempest.
The full list of Mesmer's specializations is Domination, Dueling, Chaos, Inspiration, Illusions, Chronomancer, and Mirage.
Domination – damage focused specialization that focuses on greatswords, interrupting your enemies, and making them vulnerable. The minor traits allow you to apply vulnerability to your opponents and further increase the damage you deal to the targets affected by that condition. You can get even more damage, boons, or been removal from the major traits. Domination is pretty useful for power DPS builds; it can also provide a ton of value by applying vulnerability to multiple opponents.
Dueling - this tree is based around Mantra skills as well as damage mitigation through dodging and blocking. It can also provide some critical damage. Its minor traits empower your critical hits and provide Fury. You can use the major ones to empower your illusions, inflict conditions and disables or deal even more critical damage. Dueling is used in most DPS builds.
Chaos – a defensive tree that provides tons of utility with boons and conditions. The minor traits provide Regeneration, Protection, and extended duration of boons and conditions that you apply. You can get extra damage reduction from Illusionary Defense or increased condition DPS from Chaotic Transference. The remaining traits can grant you all kinds of utility. Chaos can be used in builds that focus on supporting teammates and applying conditions.
Inspiration – another supportive specialization tree. This one provides healing and defensive boons. The minor traits allow you to cleanse conditions, grant Aegis, and increase your healing power. The major trait can empower your phantasms or further enhance the healing and defenses. Inspiration is an important part of basically all the supportive Mesmer builds.
Illusions – creating Illusions is a key mechanic. This specialization empowers them and the associated shatter skills. Its minor traits empower your shatter skills and provide extra damage after summoning an Illusion. As far as the major traits go, you can get extra condition damage from Maim the Disillusioned or other offensive stats from traits like Phantasmal Force or Master of Fragmentation. This specialization is used in numerous DPS builds, since it enhances a fundamental damage mechanic.
Chronomancer – the first Elite Specialization unlocks a ton of supportive potential with Wells, off-hand shields, and multiple boons. You can also apply a powerful buff – Alacrity - to yourself. It decreases the recharge timer of your skills. The minor traits provide Alacrity as you use shatter skills and increase your mobility. The major traits can further empower your Wells and shatter abilities. Chronomancer allowed Mesmers to become extremely valuable, offensive supports.
Mirage – this Elite Specialization is a part of the Path of Fire expansion. It unlocks axes as the main hand weapon. It also unlocks Ambush and Deception skills as well as the new dodge that gives you access to those abilities – Mirage Cloak. The minor traits provide extra condition damage and movement speed. In terms of the major ones – you can further empower your axe combat with Mirrored Axes and produce extra Clones with Self-Deception. There are also multiple great defensive options – Elusive Mind allows you to cleanse conditions as you dodge. Mirage is a fun specialization that works really well in condition DPS.
The best combinations for supporting include Chronomancer, Inspiration, and sometimes Chaos. If you're interested in dealing damage, you will most likely go with Illusions, Dueling, and one of the Elite Specializations.
Necromancer is a peculiar profession that has a lot of playstyles. You still can be a minion master with an army of undead servants. You can also fight in the frontline with a melee weapon. Finally, you have a lot of options to support your group. The specializations are Spite, Curses, Death Magic, Blood Magic, Soul Reaping, Reaper, and Scourge.
Spite – damage focused specialization that empowers axes and Signet skills. The minor traits grant you Might and allow you to inflict vulnerability to your targets. You can use major ones, like Awaken the Pain and Close to Death, to double down on these effects. You can also choose some of the other ones for applying and cleansing conditions. Spite can be a great specialization for every power DPS build.
Curses – another offensive tree. This one improves conditions, critical hits, and Corruption skills. Its minor traits let your critical hits apply to bleed and increase your overall crit chance. With the major traits, you can transfer your conditions onto the enemy, increase the efficiency of corrupting enemy boons or get some other types of utility. Curses are an important part of every condi DPS Necromancer build.
Death Magic – this specialization focuses on the Necromancer's unique ability to reanimate undead minions. It also provides some useful defensive stats. The minor traits provide increased Life Force generation and a damage reduction through Death's Carapace. Various major traits can empower your minions, generate even more Carapace stacks, and empower condition damage. Death Magic is not used in the meta builds for fractals and raids, but the army of minions can work wonders in the open world and WvW.
Blood Magic – a supportive tree that emphasizes life-steal, healing, and Wells. Its minor traits provide you with a lot of self-healing and give your allies resistance to bleeding. The major ones can empower using your Wells, provide even more healing and help with reviving allies. Blood Magic is used in most supportive builds and some Minion Master setups.
Soul Reaping – the last base specialization focuses on the unique mechanic called Death Shroud. It allows Necromancers to use Life Force to transform into this particular form and get access to new skills. The minor traits increase your maximum Life Force as well as generation of this resource and decrease the cooldown of your Shroud skills. The major traits are pretty versatile – you can get defensive value like Vitality and condition removal, or extra critical chance and damage. Soul Reaping is used in almost all the meta Necromancer builds, since it works so well with the Dead Shroud mechanic.
Reaper – this is one of the Elite Specializations that provide the profession with entirely new playstyle. It unlocks greatswords as well as Shouts and enables Necromancers to play as melee DPS characters. It replaces Death Shroud with a melee-oriented Reaper's Shroud. The minor traits in this tree allow you to inflict chill and deal increased damage to chilled opponents. A lot of the major traits focus on getting extra value from inflicting the chill status, resulting in extra damage, critical chance, and other bonuses. Reaper is a great spec for DPS builds and open-world setups.
Scourge – the second Elite Specialization focuses on utility and supporting your group. It grants access to torches and raising Shades – AoE skills that can help your allies or strike the enemies. This mechanic consumes Life Force and replaces the Death Shroud with Desert Shroud. The minor traits provide extra boon and condition duration as well as additional survivability. The major traits synergize with corrupting boons and empower the Shades. Scourge is used in the strongest Necromancer support builds.
In terms of strong combinations, you can use Soul Reaping and Reaper to deal as much damage as possible, adding Spite for power DPS or Curses for conditions. The other synergy utilizes Blood Magic and Scourge in order to offer a lot of support and utility skills.
GW2 Specializations Guide
These were all the specializations that you can equip in Guild Wars 2. We briefly touched on each one of them as well as the setups that they can work in. Hopefully, this guide may help players who are new to this community and don't really know where to start with the specialization and trait system. If you already have a stronger grasp of it, we encourage you to thoroughly check all the traits, create your own builds, test them out, see what works and make necessary changes to make it even better! Just remember to do it in some of the more forgiving locations! While fractals and raids may require a top meta build, ArenaNet made sure there's much more room for personal preference in dungeons and in the open world.
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What are GW2 Specializations?
Specializations are development trees that allow players to optimize their character for a specific playstyle. They consist of minor and major traits that provide different bonuses.
Can I change my GW2 Specializations?
You can freely change your specializations whenever you're out of combat with no costs whatsoever.
How many GW2 Specializations can I have?
A fully developed GW2 character can have three specializations, but at least two of them have to be base class specs, only one can be an Elite Specialization. It applies to all the GW2 professions.