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Introduction to the Necromancer

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The Necromancer is a profession that focuses on draining the life force from nearby deaths, using that life force to become a bringer of death, bring fear into your enemies, and corrupt enemy boons into harmful conditions.

Weapons of the Necromancer include Staff, an Axe, main and offhand Daggers, a Scepter, a Focus, and a Warhorn.

If you don’t know anything about Guild Wars 2 profession, and you maybe are looking for a short comparison, check out our introductory guides:

Profession Mechanics

Life Force & Death Shroud

The main mechanic of the Necromancer profession is the generation of Life Force. Weapon skills and traits will generate a set amount of life force depending on the skill used, and killing any enemy will net you 10% of your maximum life force.

To spend your life force, you may press F1 to transform into your Death Shroud. While using your shroud, you will drain your life force every second and you lose access to your utility skills 6-0; however, you gain access to new 1-5 weapon skills and your life force will become your new health bar. The skills gained in your shroud form are as follows:

For the duration of Death Shroud, damage you take will be subtracted from your life force instead of your actual health pool, essentially giving you a second health bar.



Corruptions are abilities that will apply a condition to yourself as an additional cost but will harm your enemy or benefit yourself and your allies more than harming yourself.

Corruptions are good skills to have in all game modes. In PvE, Blood Is Power and Plaguelands are some of the best DPS utility skills for a condition damage build. In PvP and WvW, Consume Conditions is your main source of self-condition-cleanse while Corrosive Poison Cloud counters other players using lots of projectiles to deal damage.


A necromancer is never without their loyal undead minions. When the skill is used, you will summon a specific type of minion that will deal damage to nearby enemies. In addition, you may reactivate the ability to command your minion to perform a specific action at the possible cost of harming or killing itself.


Minions are also very useful in all game modes. In PvE, Summon Blood Fiend is a good source of passive life gain while Summon Flesh Golem is an excellent source of CC. In PvP and WvW, Summon Flesh Wurm can be used to provide a Stun Break and a quick method of escaping your assailant.


Signets are skills that have a passive and an active effect. After using the skill for the active effect, you will not gain the benefit of the passive effect until the skill is ready to be used again.

Signets are mainly used in PvE game areas like the open world, strikes, dungeons, and raids. Signet of Vampirism is a good source of self-sustain when you know you are taking on a singular, large boss. Signet of Undeath is not only useful for the reviving of your allies but also to generate more life force while in combat for your Death Shroud.


Spectral skills are sources of quick self-utility. They can be used to protect your own life or mitigate a full-on assault from your opponents.

In PvE, Spectral Grasp is really the only skill from this category used as it provides decent CC. In PvP and WvW, however, all of these skills are seen to some degree whether that would be Spectral Armor for defense, Spectral Walk for reactionary mobility, Spectral Ring for unblockable CC, or Lich Form for a massive power damage burst.

Lich Form transforms you into a form that, while brief in duration, provides some of the most powerful burst damage in PvP and WvW. The skills for Lich Form are as follows:


Wells are large Area-of-Effect (AoE) skills that can be placed anywhere within 900 Range. These can harm multiple enemies or benefit multiple allies and yourself.


In the Open World, Well of Blood can be a great way to heal your allies while taking on a huge threat, and Well of Suffering along with Well of Darkness are great sources of AoE power DPS. In large-scale group battles of WvW, the Scourge elite specialization uses wells to prevent the enemy army from gaining too many boons.



The Spite specialization focuses on increasing your power DPS, generation of , access to Boon Strips/Corrupts, and usage of the Axe and Focus weapons.

Because the Reaper elite specialization is the main dealer of power damage on the Necromancer profession, we do not recommend using Spite unless you have Reaper unlocked and are pairing the two specs together. If you still wish to use this specialization, the ideal power damage setup would be 122 with Spiteful Talisman, Awaken the Pain, and Close to Death.


The Curses specialization focuses on increasing your condition damage, gaining a higher chance to Critically Hit, and transferring conditions from yourself to your enemies.

This specialization is mandatory for a condition damage Necromancer build in PvE, and the ideal trait setup to take for this would be 213 with Plague Sending, Master of Corruption, and Lingering Curse. In PvP and WvW, the setup would change slightly to 231 with Parasitic Contagion and Weakening Shroud.

Death Magic

The Death Magic specialization focuses on keeping yourself alive by gaining stacks of the unique buff Death’s Carapace which increases your Toughness statistic by 20 per stack. This specialization also has high synergy with Minions by giving them buffs and giving you Death’s Carapace stacks.

If the majority of your utility skills are Minions, you should use the trait setup of 111 with Flesh of the Master, Necromantic Corruption, and Death Nova. Otherwise, the most popular setup with this specialization (especially in PvP) is 322 with Shrouded Removal, Dark Defiance, and Corrupter's Fervor as it will give you lots of defensive utility.

Blood Magic

The Blood Magic specialization focuses on keeping you and your allies alive through life drain, condition transfers, and direct healing.

Since the Necromancer is regarded as a Teamfighter in PvP, we recommend taking the setup of 132 with Ritual of Life, Vampiric Presence, and Unholy Martyr. This will provide good sustain to your entire team when facing a decisive battle. If you are using this specialization in PvE with a group of friends, taking the same setup isn’t a bad idea.

Soul Reaping

The Soul Reaping specialization focuses on generating more and more life force and improving your Death Shroud abilities.

This is, by far, the most popular specialization to take in PvE and PvP. In PvP, having a staff as one of your weapons along with taking the setup of 233 with Soul Marks, Fear of Death, and Dhuumfire is the best possible setup for a core condition Necromancer build. In PvE, change your setup to 113 with Unyielding Blast and Soul Barbs for the biggest DPS increase.

Hidden Mechanics

The maximum amount of Life Force you can have is equal to 69% (nice) of your maximum health pool. What this means is that, by increasing your Vitality statistic, you can increase your maximum amount of Life Force to use for your Death Shroud later.

In PvP, If you cast Spectral Ring and someone teleports out of the ring, they will still have the fear applied to them. Use this to your advantage when chasing down a low health target.

If you use Lich Form but receive lots of counterpressure from your enemies, you can immediately go into your Death Shroud to prevent some of the damage to your main health pool. This does cause the skill to go on cooldown, however, so use it wisely.

Gameplay Tips

Death Shroud is a very powerful utility, life force powering it is gained through deaths around you (also ally deaths) and with some skills that have Life force: X% in their tooltip. You can sustain your Death Shroud with Shroud #4 ability Life Transfer if you are fighting a group of enemies.

During leveling core Necromancers, Death Shroud will be extremely valuable due to great AoE attack Life Transfer, access to from Doom, and even shadowstep in form of Dark Path.

Shroud functions as your second health bar, so while you can use it offensively, you might want to keep it for emergency situations, this is very often the case in competitive game modes to escape near-death situations, but during your leveling, it can be used to gain upper hand in a hard fight against Elite or Champion enemies.

Your minions will often be the focus of mobs in the Open World, if you want to abuse that and send them to attack before even damaging the enemy yourself, simply use any skill or auto-attack while targeting the that is out of range of the skill.

If you are ready to start playing this profession we recommend a starter build that was created to help with the traditional leveling experience of the core profession.

If you are looking for more builds for all game modes, make sure to check your build guides.

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