When making hard-mode hero builds, I follow these principles:
- Bring multiple part-offensive part-defensive characters instead of having separate offensive and defensive characters. This way when there is minimal defense needed, both characters can use their offensive skills simultaneously, rather than one character sitting idle. When extra defense is suddenly needed (especially if one character is knocked down or disabled in some way), both can use defensive skills simultaneously. Heroes do tend to prioritize using heals over offensive skills if they have both available.
- Not only do attribute levels need to be considered, but throughput and hero AI as well; a minion bomber does not cast Splinter Weapon on recharge, so it isn't an ideal place for that skill.
- A staff with 40% HCT (Half Cast Time) for one attribute, 20% HSR (Half Skill Recharge) all skills, +20% enchanting is probably the strongest weapon available. +20% enchanting is often equivalent to many more attribute points for skills such as Aegis and Shield of Absorption, and saves time on skills such as Jagged Bones, Death Nova, and Dwayna's Sorrow. HSR is much less useful than HCT, as HCT improves your spell throughput (assuming you don't have only long recharge skills on your bar) while HSR just makes a spell available to use again a little earlier.
Favorite hero setup for hard-mode:
|Divert Hexes||Enfeebling Blood||Barbs||Weaken Armor||Protective Spirit||Shield of Absorption||Aegis||Signet of Lost Souls|
This guy used to use spiteful spirit, but I felt that skill was not really pulling its weight. Divert Hexes ensures this guy has something useful to do whether there are melee or casters. While most hexes aren't that threatening and can just be healed through, some, such as Soothing Images, are extremely irritating. Heroes and henchmen can eventually run into trouble when when the entire party is completely hexed (for example, if you over-agro). Conditions such as bleeding are usually being removed as a side-effect as well, which is convenient, since the less time the other party members spend on spells which specifically remove conditions the better.
|Jagged Bones||Animate Bone Minions||Death Nova||Rip Enchantment||Foul Feast||Infuse Condition||Dwayna's Sorrow||Signet of Lost Souls|
Pretty standard build. The constant triggering of healing from Dwayna's Sorrow is quite substantial. I would consider using Spirit's Gift and Splinter Weapon instead (and move Dwayna's Sorrow to another character) if the AI were willing to keep Spirit's Gift up, but unfortunately it doesn't.
Rip Enchantment is here because the curses necro does not have room for it. An enchantment removal skill is important, otherwise you will grind your teeth when fighting earth ele mobs.
Buffs physicals, sets things on fire, partywide heals, casts splinter weapon. This guy does not have any spear skills; I was never that impressed by the spear skills, which eat up valuable attribute points, whereas the Leadership and Motivation skills are quite good. Give this guy a staff and set him to passive. He will cast Splinter Weapon pretty much on recharge. This guy casts Splinter Weapon more often than any other character I have ever put that skill on.
I prefer this to the standard N/Rt in the triple necro vanquish, as this is much more offensive.
Hero Build Thoughts
When vanquishing in hard mode I usually get away with running only one Word of Healing henchman monk (Mhenlo), with the rest of the henchmen being physicals. The monk does the spot healing, while the party-wide healing and defense from the above setup are generally good enough.
I think Jagged Bones could probably be replaced with a better elite. It's good, but Animate Bone Minions can already produce 2 minions every 5 seconds. If I change secondaries, Dwayna's Sorrow will need to move to a different character, as the partywide healing from it is just too good.
Guild Wars 2 suggestions
When in a PvE environment (and maybe the non-competitive PvP formats also), allow players to bring more than 8 skills. While in PvP it's fine to feel like a highly specialized toolbox of skills (and it would be too troublesome to try to remember more than 64 skills on an enemy team), I'd rather my character feel like a more fleshed out entity, as characters do in other MMOs.