So over the past couple of months I’ve seen a lot of threads with various complaints about the Mesmer general performance in solo queue, or how it seems incredibly difficult to win anything in solo queue. After playing a good deal of solo queue myself, I’ve decided to write up a bit of a guide on how I succeed.
There’s a couple things that you need to remember when running solo queue, otherwise you’ll end up rage-quitting pretty quick.
Everyone is Equal
I know that sometimes it seems like you’re getting horrible teams every single time, and that makes it impossible to ever win, but that’s not the case. Overall, every person that plays in solo queue will get the same number of horrible teams. You’re no better or worse off than anyone else, and so that brings us to the next point.
Every Match is Winnable
Now, this might not actually hold true, but it’s the assumption that you should operate under. I’ve won 4v5s, I’ve won matches with abysmal teammates, and I’ve come back from massive deficits. Never give up, never go into a match thinking anything except ‘How will I win this match’. This also translates well into the last point.
Every Loss is Your Personal Fault
Again, this probably doesn’t hold true, but it’s the most productive mindset to have. If you try and blame your losses on your teammates every time, you’ll never have the impetus to improve. Every time you lose, you should be thinking ‘what could I have done to win that match’, and every time you win, you should be thinking ‘what could I have done to win that match harder ’.
General Strategy for Matches
Solo queue is markedly different than team queue in quite a few ways, and this ends up resulting in some different strategies that come to the surface in order to play effectively.
In team queue, you are part of a whole, playing your piece in your team’s strategy and composition that allows you to win. In solo queue, you are 1 person. Your team is a loose coalition of people that are kinda working together. Instead of playing a specific role in your team, you need a different objective.
That might sound a bit like how you play in team queue, but it’s actually quite different. You’re not necessarily trying to work with your team, but instead you’re trying to workaround your team, avoiding and ameliorating any shortcomings they have, and skewing the fight so that even the worst teams can’t help but win.
There are multiple ways of doing this, so I’ll explain a few, then explain the mindset behind them. First though, a brief note about adaptability.
Very rarely does any one tactic work beautifully the entire game. Being able to think and change your strategy on the fly is extremely important to playing effectively. You want to always be viewing your minimap, noting where your team is, where the enemy team is, and the status of any other objectives. This allows you to effectively determine where and how your push can be applied most effectively to swing the match. If something isn’t working right away, then change it up and keep moving.
Skyhammer is awesome. It’s the perfect solo queue map, because nothing carries a team of uncarryable horrific players better than a giant death laser from the sky. Having absolute control over the hammer for the entire match almost guarantees a victory, so play to make that happen. If you can force the enemy team to send 2-3 people up to the hammer to stop you, you’ve done your job and skewed the game for your team, and if the enemy team decides that isn’t the trouble, you get to rain death on everyone.
Similar to Skyhammer, Khylo has the trebuchet. While not quite as death-lasery as the hammer, the trebuchet is undoubtedly a weapon of mass destruction in tPvP. Absolute control over the trebuchet (coupled with effective use of it) will almost always guarantee a win. Portal is a must here, as you need to be able to repair the treb as soon as it is killed. Being able to effectively prevent most players from killing the treb easily is also important, although it will die eventually, and some builds can sorta instagib it (looking at you, firey gs elementalists…).
Temple of the Silent Storm
There’s a lot of goodies to control here in temple, and a lot of good ways to play. There are 2 notably powerful buffs: Tranquility and Silence. Effectively controlling those buffs not only provides a massive boost to your team, but also is a huge denial of points from the other team. On top of that, the map is pretty small, and so you can really scoot around using blink to get into and out of fights easily.
Those 3 maps are the only ones that really have strong mechanics that you can control to swing fights easily, but there are more ways to play that skew fights.
Pushing far is a strategy that does come with a lot of caveats. It can be enormously detrimental to your team if done wrong, but it is a powerful tool. If your team controls 2 points, never push far (with the exception of absolutely needing to push far in order to win, but that’s sorta a fringe case). Controlling 2 points is a dominant lead, and pushing far only spreads your team’s strength thinner than necessary. Always keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish with pushing far.
Pushing far is a strategy designed to cause an unbalanced fight at mid, or unbalanced point distribution in the match. If far is undefended, then you can simply capture it rapidly to immediately give your team a point lead, whether or not they lose the fight at mid, and then you can rapidly rotate mid to provide additional support. However, if they have a player on far, you need to make a judgment call of whether pushing is a wise thing to do.
If you can rapidly kill the player (most builds except very tanky guards/warriors and minionmancer necros), do so, then decap the point. This generally creates the response of sending multiple people to that point in order to drive you off, and this is precisely the response you want. Once you are fighting a 2v1, control of the point becomes irrelevant. You aren’t trying to hold the point, you’re simply trying to waste 2 people’s time, and this allows you to use any and all defensive/evasive tricks that you have up your sleeve in order to survive. When you are able to control a 2v1 fight, that means your team is fighting a 4v3 on the other 2 points, and they will win. Sometimes with bad players you’ll even get a 3v1, which can be fun.
Overall, just remember that pushing far is a strategy with the goal of creating an imbalance. If they push a tank to the point that you can’t kill or force off the point, you need to change your strategy, because you’re no longer effectively creating an imbalance.
The idea here is to always appear at a fight where you can be the deciding factor in whether it succeeds or fails, and this often requires a lot of mobility, and always requires a lot of map awareness. Keep an eye on your teammate’s health bars, and keep an eye on the minimap to determine where high concentrations of enemies are.
Showing up fashionably late to a fight allows you to pick and choose your targets to an extent. If there’s some engineer raining grenades on the fight, you can disrupt that. If there are a couple of boon spamming classes, a disenchanter can fix that, and thereby swing the fight to your advantage.
However, never forget that the dynamic of the game is constantly changing. While you’re winning the fight at mid, they might be pushing home, or they might have left their far point unguarded. Always know the status of all the points and players on your team, and once your presence isn’t strictly required to win a team fight, move rapidly to the next objective.
This isn’t a strategy so much as an overall guideline. I mentioned earlier that you need to be keeping an eye on all of your team’s health bars, their locations, and available enemy locations. Additionally, you often take charge of large objectives such as the hammer and treb. All of these combine to give you the best idea of what’s happening in the fight. You use this to your personal advantage, but always notify your teammates of what’s happening. Tell them when you see the enemy rotating, when you see them approaching points or leaving points unguarded. Keeping a constant stream of information to your team allows them to make the best and most informed decisions for their own personal playing, and that wins fights.
While I had this at the beginning, it’s important enough to state again here. Flexibility is the key to victory. In order to effectively win all matches, you need to be able to mix and match strategies that fit the encounter. If your home point is getting pushed relentlessly, maybe it’s your job to stop that. If they’re leaving far unguarded, maybe you can take the time to decap, then rapidly go back and support a fight without full capping it. If they’ve stuck a minionmancer on far, and they haven’t left the circle the entire game, perhaps it’s wiser to just ignore that point exists and focus on your side and mid. Rapid adaptation is the key to success.
Builds are honestly pretty flexible. Most Mesmer builds can perform most of the functions I’ve laid out here in some way, but I have personal preferences.
I really like this build. It has excellent teamfight support with aoe weakness/bleed/cripple, and fantastic teamfight support simply by taking a pDisenchanter to soften those boon heavy targets, and ameliorate the condition spam. It also has the capability of effectively negotiating a 2v1 or even 3v1 sometimes, and this really comes in handy when trying to control an objective like the hammer, or skirmish outnumbered at far. Most of my games have been played using this build.
High Phantasm Offense
This build is a bit more specialized, and has some weaknesses. Remember that your team fight utility and survivability is much lower compared to PU Conditions, but your instant damage is much higher. I usually use this on Khylo, as sometimes it can be tough to kill a player that ignores you for the treb with PU Conditions, but a player that ignores your phantasms is a dead player. This is also an excellent far pusher if you want to strip a bunker or other player off of far for a fast decap, but not good for sticking around and forcing an unbalanced fight, so keep that in mind.
Shatter is pretty versatile, but again has some notable weaknesses. It’s really strong at instantly swinging a fight, as you can drop some tremendous burst to instantly take out high priority targets in a team fight. Use that to your advantage, and never outstay your welcome in a fight. Come in, burst, and keep moving. Shatter is similar in strength to phantasms in debunking/capping far point, but again is really difficult to skirmish outnumbered with.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got for now, though I’m sure I’ll think of some more to say later. Following those general principals have gotten me a quite high win rate in solo queue tournaments, exclusively playing Mesmer, so I wanted to try and share what works for me.
PU Condition Specific Fighting Guide
Most of your burst damage comes from the torment block. On a moving target, the 5 stacks of torment should be doing around 1000 damage per second. That will really destroy lower hp targets like eles, thieves, and guardians.
In general, a fight has 3 phases: opening, continuation, and finisher.
In the opening phase, you want to load up as many conditions as you can, as rapidly as you can. Confusing images for confusion, the prestige for burn, chaos storm/staff clones for chill/burn/poison/bleeding, the torment block, and then rapid clone explosions that I usually combo with the clone from the torment block. That opening burst puts your opponent on the defensive immediately.
After the opener, you need continued pressure. This usually comes in the form of staff clones and staff autoattacks, more confusion from the iMage or confusing images again, and clone explosions as you produce clones by dodging their attacks. This pressure keeps them at a lowish health, baiting their heal and then keeping pressure on them.
Lastly you hit the finishing phase. You need to make sure you burst someone down before they can react to run away. When this phase actually occurs depends on the class, as well as how you actually do it, but in almost all cases it relies on the torment. For example:
Since thieves have generally very low health, they can be finished as early as around half health with a good burst. At this point thieves are generally going to still be pretty aggressive, and this can allow you to catch them with a burst similar to the opener that just loads them up rapidly with conditions for the kill.
Many engineers have a trait that scatters mines when they drop below a certain health threshold. These mines allow you to get guaranteed torment procs over and over on a low health engineer to rapidly finish them.
Elementalists tend to leave damaging aoes all over the place, especially when running away. You can use these just like mines for the engineer to get guaranteed torment procs for a fast kill.
Guardians, like eles and thieves, have low health. They also have an enourmous amount of cleave/aoe damage when attacking, and you can use this to your advantage in an attack. After the opener, they should have burned most of their high output condition removals, and so if you can get them to attack you near several of your clones, you’ll be able to apply the torment and multiple clone explosions in just a couple cleaving hits, which gives a massive condition burst.
Rangers can be rather tough to finish, because the torment has a good chance of being stolen by a pet instead of the ranger themselves. Look for good persistent attacks to get torment procs on the ranger, like barrage, or a well telegraphed attack, like serpent’s strike. Rangers tend to use attacks rapidly, since they have a high amount of access to quickness, and the ones that use shortbow attack even faster. This makes them highly susceptible to a confusion attack like confusing images in conjunction with the iMage. The torment in this case serves as a starting damage, the confusion works as the midway finisher, and the persistent torment kills them when they run.
Necromancers can be really tough to kill, because they’re very good at getting rid of conditions. However, they do have vulnerabilities. The first thing to notice is if they are using traited marks. The trait will make them larger and unblockable, but if they aren’t traited, every single mark is a free torment application, and this will kill them rapidly. Necros especially like to spam marks behind them while they run away at low health, and catching them with torment here can be deadly. Other then that, try to watch for their heal (consume conditions). Once that is on cooldown, try to load them up. Ultimately a necro is hard to finish, and it really turns into an endurance fight.
Mesmers are probably the hardest class to actually land torment on, but there are some tricks you can use to help. Chaos storm is a good aoe to proc torment with, but be careful of the dazes/stuns. Confusing images and the greatsword autoattack are fantastic channeled attacks to catch with the block as well. Lastly, if they are using an offhand sword or scepter, you can actually trigger their block on purpose, then block their counter with your block, applying the torment. A lot of mesmers also have poor condition removal, so load the torment up when they hit lower health, and they’ll die. One other tip for condition burst is that clone explosions go through evade, so blurred frenzy can be a very good way to catch them with a condition burst.
Warriors can either be really easy or a massive pain. They really don’t leave many aoe fields like guardians, and they have very high hp. However, they are incredibly agressive and have a lot of cleave. If you play in a tight area, you can often load them up rapidly with conditions before they realize it. At this point it sorta comes down to how they play. If they choose to cleanse the conditions and disengage, there’s not really much you can do to stop them, but most will try a partial cleanse followed by another attack, and at that point they’ll be low enough on health for a second burst to kill them.