GW2 Elementalist Guide

The elementalist is skilled at mid and long ranged combat, using the elements to their advantage to decimate their foes and help their allies. While having no “true” role, the majority of elementalist skills focus on raw damage (fire), burst/spike (air), control and conditions (earth), defense / support (water), and utility (arcana). Those are generalizations, of course, but ultimately the elementalist can carry on many different roles and switch between them fluidly, thanks to the unique elemental attunement ability.

GW2 Elementalist Icon

Elementalist Quick Facts

  • One of GW2’s three Scholar professions.
  • Able to wear Light armor.
  • Can switch between four attunements, changing the weapon skill bar, at the cost of not being able to change weapons in combat.
  • Can equip staves, daggers, foci, and scepters and switch between four sets of skills on each using the attunement mechanic.

Elementalist Themes and Combat Roles

The elementalist remains true to its roots from the original Guild Wars a pure caster profession that utilizes different elements to deal damage to their enemies and support their allies. Thinking on the Guild Wars analogy, the Guild Wars 2 elementalist is like an e/mo or elementalist/monk, thanks to the heavy focus on healing with the water element. The conversion was also a very literal one, with many of the same skills and the overall playstyle following along in the transition. However, don’t fret, there is a lot more to the elementalist than casting Fire Storm, thanks to the attunement system.

We’ll talk more in-depth on the attunement system later, but for now let’s do a quick overview of how the elementalist profession differs from everyone else. First, they wear light armor like the other two scholar professions, but they differ greatly because they do not focus heavily on survival and conditions like the necromancer nor do they focus on control and illusions like the mesmer. Elementalists focus on variety, switching between different roles on the fly by attuning to different elements.

WvW Elementalist Assault

Elementalists can rain death from the ramparts.

There are only four weapons in the elementalist arsenal, one two-handed weapon (staff), dual-wield (dagger/dagger), main-hand (dagger, scepter), and off-hand (focus). There is no in-combat weapon set switching either, like every other profession. Instead, each weapon has four sets of skills that are attuned to a specific element. The elementalist can switch between the different elements at will, giving them a total of four weapon sets they can switch between. The tradeoff is that each set of skills, while having a different purpose, still follows the general weapon theme (AoE/ranged/close combat).

Like other professions, the elementalist comes with its own set of unique skills. Glyphs mostly give passive bonuses for the element that an elementalist is attuned to. Conjure skills can summon weapons for both the elementalist and its allies, these weapons have their own unique skill bars. Cantrips give the elementalist additional survival. Auras provide a positive passive benefit to your character. Arcane skills are non-element magic based skills.

The elementalist is a direct damage support profession, half of the skills focus on dealing direct damage; while a fourth focus on healing, and another fourth focus on control. This makes them a jack of all trades and a master of most, but it’s important to know that while capable of a lot, knowing what to be capable of when is the primary finesse of the profession.

Another big theme with the elementalist is combo fields. Many of the abilities an elementalist have create combo fields, which synergize with other professions’ abilities. For instance, a Ranger who shoots an arrow through a Fire Wall will gain burning on their attacks. This gives their attacks additional utility when combined with others.

Elementalist Weapons

GW2 Elementalist Staff Skills

As mentioned previously, the elementalist only has access to four different weapons, although daggers double as a main-hand and off-hand. The strongest weapon is the staff, which while focused primarily on AoE abilities, has the most complete set of tools available. Scepters serve as a primary single target build, while daggers focus more on close range combat. You can read more about forming builds in our Intro Guide to Builds.

The weapons that elementalist can equip along with their associated skills can be seen in-game by opening the Hero window [H] and selecting the Skills and Traits tab on the left. You can see a list of available weapons for the elementalist below.


Main Hand Off-Hand Two-Handed Aquatic
Scepter Dagger Staff Trident
Dagger Focus    

Elementalist Trait Lines

Upon reaching level 11, you will begin earning Trait Points (1 per level for a total of 70 at level 80) that can be spent in any of the five available Trait Lines. Each point spent will increase 2 primary or secondary attributes, with every 5 points spent unlocking either a Minor or Major trait.

The trait lines for the elementalist are listed below, along with their associated attributes and weapon or utility skill type associations.

Fire Magic

  • +10 Power per point spent
  • +1% Expertise per point spent
  • Improves – fire element, grants might, burning

Earth Magic

  • +10 Toughness per point spent
  • +10 Malice per point spent
  • Improves – earth element, toughness, signets, protection

Air Magic

  • +10 Precision per point spent
  • +1% Prowess
  • Improves – air element, critical hit, swiftness

Water Magic

  • +10 Vitality per point spent
  • +10 Compassion per point spent
  • Improves – water element, regeneration, condition removal


  • +1 Concentration per point spent
  • +2 Intelligence per point spent
  • Improves – all elements, AoE attacks, attunements


attunement gw2 elementalist

The unique mechanic for the elementalist is attunement, which allows you to have four different weapon skill sets per weapon, at the cost of not being able to switch weapons in combat. You can change attunements freely, although the attunement you’re changing from will have a 15 second cooldown and a two second cooldown for the remaining available attunements.

The biggest thing about attunements is knowing what element serves what role and when that role is needed. For instance, if it’s about constant damage, odds are you’ll want to be in fire, while burst / spike damage will want you to be in air, support will be water, and control is earth. For instance, if you need to heal yourself or others, then you can switch to water will provides various support abilities. If you need to apply conditions, earth is the go to element.

It works pretty much like traditional weapon switching, you switch to the skill set that you need, except you have two additional skill sets to pick from. Since you can’t switch weapons, you will be at a disadvantage if you need to switch from say a super defensive build to a super offensive build, like a warrior going from a two-handed weapon to a sword and shield.

Understanding that, it’s important to pick the right weapon type before battle and the accompanying skills to form your build. Thankfully, skills like glyphs will apply themselves depending on the active element, making it easier to build out an elementalist.

Additional Elementalist Tips

The first thing you’ll want to do is rebind the keys for each attunement. You’re going to be switching a lot, so having them closer to your fingers than F1, F2, F3, and F4 is probably wise. Unless, of course, using function keys is part of your normal routine.

If you’re looking at making a Swiftness build, then choose a staff forWindbourne Speed and Glyph of Elemental Harmony. You’ll be able to maintain Swiftness for 20 seconds every 30 seconds. Updraft can be used as well, but it has a 40 second cooldown. Signet of Air is another good choice, as it gives you a passive 10% movement speed increase. Since Swiftness is so valuable, you may want to have Glyph of Elemental Harmony if you are not going to have Windbourne Speed or Updraft in your build.

Mist Form is great both while alive and while downed. While alive it can get you into keeps or through a rough spot where you’re about to die. When you’re downed, you can use it to get out of harms way, back into a keep, or just in a better spot to be resurrected later.

Remember how fragile elementalists are compared to say, necromancers or guardians. Keep distance between yourself and your target is usually a better option than trying to soak up the damage. Be sure to use the different forms of crowd control to kite enemies around while you focus on killing them or rely on your allies to guard you in combat.

Source: http://www.guildwars2hub.com/guides/professions/elementalist