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Best Necromancer Builds in Guild Wars 2 (2024)

In Guild Wars 2, the Necromancer is one of the three Scholar professions and another one of my favorite classes to play. Hence, why we’re going over how to build the Necromancer in GW2!

Introducing The Necromancer

In this next section, let’s take a look at The Necromancer and what makes it such a fun (and powerful) class to play. Knowing what makes The Necromancer tick is also important when designing and tweaking your build to match your gameplay.

The Necromancer Overview

The Necromancer is primarily a ranged class focused on applying conditions and stealing boons. As the name suggests they can also summon undead pets that can tank and deal damage.

However, the Necromancer is a little bit different than your average magic user. First off, they have a higher health pool compared their counterparts, the Mesmer and Elementalist. Mainly because their signature class skill, Shroud scales off their maximum health.

For the Necromancer, Shroud is a transformation into a shadowy form of themselves and one of the strongest signature skills in Guild Wars 2. In Shroud, Necromancers gain new empowered skills fueled by the Life Force they steal from enemies. Necromancers also use Life Force as a second health bar while in Shroud.

With Shroud, Necromancers are able to deal tons of damage while being incredibly tough to kill. If that sounds like the perfect class for you then continue reading for the best Necromancer builds in GW2, starting with the Core Necromancer.

Power Core Necromancer Build

Power Core Necromancer Build for GW2
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

For the free-to-play enjoyers out there, the default Core Necromancer is perfectly viable in most of the content in vanilla GW2. You’ll fall behind your elite specializations, but you can still get the job done.

The best build for Core Necromancer utilizes undead minions to keep enemies busy and deal plenty of damage. Additionally, with the Death Magic spec, our minions will reduce the damage we take by a lot.

While we have a choice between Power and Condi for our damage, lets stick with Power. A Power build is easier to make and will be easier to play while you are leveling or exploring the open world. So instead of applying tons of conditions to enemies, we will be applying Vulnerability to deal high damage during Shroud.

Let’s get into what makes this build work.

Stats

For the Power version, we will of course need a bunch of Power. The best stat prefixes are:

  • Berserker – Power, Precision, Ferocity
  • Marauder – Power, Precision, Vitality, Ferocity
  • Soldier – Power, Toughness, Vitality

Berserker’s will give the highest amount of Power, Precision, and Ferocity out of the other choices for maximum damage output. Berserker gear is also easier to find compared to others. For more Vitality and Life Force, Marauder is a great alternative but will have a slight damage decrease compared to Berserker’s.

Soldier is also an alternative gear choice. It will give you plenty of survivability but at the loss of crit chance and damage. If you do go for Soldier, I recommend a couple of pieces of Soldier then have the rest of your gear be Berserker or Marauder.

Specialization/Traits

Guild Wars 2 Core Necromancer Specs, Death Magic, Soul Reaping, and Spite
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

The specializations we want are Death Magic, Soul Reaping, and Spite. Death Magic will keep us alive through Death’s Carapace. Carapace is a passive that increases our Toughness per stack, reducing the damage we take.

With the trait, Flesh of the Master, each minion will give us 2 stacks of Carapace, so we will always be at 10 stacks or above. This trait will automatically trigger the trait Beyond the Veil which gives us an addition 10% condition damage reduction.

As for Soul Reaping and Spite, these two specializations will increase our overall strike damage and empower our Shroud. The traits Soul Barbs and Awaken the Pain will give us over a 10% damage increase for just entering Shroud. At the same time, Reaper’s Might will grant a stack might with every auto-attack in Shroud.

These specializations combined will promote a playstyle of cycling between Shroud and regular skills to get the most damage.

Weapons and Skills

Guild Wars 2 Core Necromancer weapons, Axe/Focus
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

For our weapon of choice, we will use the Axe along with the Focus. With the Axe, Ghastly Claws (2) will be your highest damage skill and a great source of Life Force. Be sure to use it when the enemy has Vulnerability, as it deals bonus damage.

Your auto-attacks inflict Vulnerability, but your main source will be from Soul Grasp (4). You’ll have 3 charges of Soul Grasp and each apply 5 stacks of Vulnerability. This will be your opening skill.

Our utility skills will summon all the undead minions we need. So, grab Blood Fiend (6), Shadow Fiend (7), Bone Fiend (8), Bone Minions (9), and Flesh Golem (0). Each of these minions stay until they die, so you don’t have to worry about constantly summoning them again.

Shroud

Guild Wars 2 Core Necromancer Shroud Skills
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

Since Shroud replaces all of our skills, I thought it would be good for you to see and know what Shroud skills are important. The best skills to use are Life Blast (1), Life Transfer (4), and Tainted Shackles (5). These will be your highest damage Shroud skills.

Some things to note. Life Blast travels in a straight line and pierces targets so be sure to position yourself to hit each enemy. While Life Transfer does tons of damage, it also steals Life Force for more time in Shroud. If you can hit multiple targets, you’ll recover tons of Life Force.

Now let’s get into the rotation.

Rotation

The rotation is fairly simple and keeps you at a safe distance from the enemy.

Axe RotationShroud Rotation
1. Soul Grasp (4) for Vulnerability stacks1. Tainted Shackles (5)
2. Spinal Shivers (5)2. Life Transfer (4)
3. Ghastly Claws (2)3. Life Blast (1) for a couple of seconds
4. Shroud (F1)4. Back to Axe

Basically, your goal is to stay in Shroud for at least 10 seconds before switching back to use your high damage weapon skills, regain Life Force, and then go back into Shroud. Switching back and forth will constantly trigger Soul Barbs, practically giving you a permanent damage increase.

Spinal Shivers also removes boons, so if you know your enemy will buff themselves, skip step 2 and delay Spinal Shivers until they buff. Additionally, if you need some CC, you can activate Flesh Golem’s and Bone Fiend’s abilities to knock up and immobilize enemies.

Following this Core Necromancer build will get you through most of the content vanilla Guild Wars 2 has to offer. Check out this link to customize this build further. However, if you wanted to check out the elite specs, lets look at the first elite spec – the Reaper.

Power Reaper Build

Power Reaper Necromancer Build for GW2
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

Reaper is the Heart of Thorns expansion elite specialization for the Necromancer. On release, this spec was a bit of a problem especially for PVP. While it’s since been nerfed, the Reaper is still a very strong Necromancer spec and perfectly viable for every bit of content in GW2.

The Reaper is able to use a new weapon, the Greatsword. This turns the Necromancer into a melee class with a bunch of cleave to hit multiple targets. Likewise, the Reaper’s Shroud is changed from a ranged shadow into an actual Reaper, complete with a scythe for melee combat.

In practice, you’ll find that the Reaper can easily deal with groups of enemies and single targets alike. Along with Shroud and innate life steal, the Reaper will be incredibly tough to kill. You’ll be able to solo just about anything and have no problem learning any of the endgame group content or with falling behind in damage.

To get this build started let’s look at what stats we want on our gear.

Stats

Much like Core Necromancer, Reaper is going to go full Power for those big damage numbers. So, our options are:

  • Berserker – Power, Precision, Ferocity
  • Marauder – Power, Precision, Vitality, Ferocity

Again, Berserker is our best choice for the most damage. Luckily, it’s easy to find gear with Berserker’s or you can easily buy a full Exotic set for less than 4 gold on the trade post.

If you need more health, then give Marauder’s a try. You will have a slight damage decrease so I recommend only a few pieces of Marauder gear.

Specialization/Traits

Guild Wars 2 Necromancer Reaper specs, Spite, Soul Reaping, Reaper
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

Much like our Core Necromancer build we will grab Spite, Soul Reaping, and of course Reaper as our specializations. Awaken the Pain and Soul Barbs from Spite and Soul Reaping are too good to pass up. considering we will be in and out of Shroud.

Additionally, Spite will give us just about a 30% damage increase with the traits, Spiteful Talisman and Close to Death. At the same time, Soul Reaping will make sure we have enough Life Force at all times with the traits, Gluttony and Soul Battery.

As for the Reaper spec, Soul Eater will give us a huge damage boost and our innate life steal just for being within 300 meters of the enemy. Lastly, this spec has Cold Shoulder which increase our damage towards Chilled enemies by 15%. Luckily, we will be able to inflict Chill consistently with our weapon and skill choices.

Weapons and Skills

Guild Wars 2 Reaper weapons, Greatsword
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

The Greatsword is pretty simple. We will use every one of its skills during our rotation. The only skill you need to be aware of is Gravedigger (2). Normally it has an 8 second cooldown, but when the target is at 50% or lower, it has no cooldown. So, you can replace the auto-attack chain with Gravedigger for more damage.

As for our utility skills, our two must-haves are Well of Suffering (8) and Well of Darkness (9). These are extremely useful for Vulnerability and Chill stacks for more damage. While it isn’t mandatory, grab the elite skill Chilled to the Bone (5) for more Chill stacks and Might/Fury. In the end, everything is all up to personal choice.

Shroud

Guild Wars 2 Reaper Shroud skills
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

Shroud will be a big portion of our damage. Death’s Charge (2) and Soul Spiral (4) will be our highest damage attacks while the enemy is above 50% health. Infusing Terror (3) is useful for Stability and damage reduction. You can even use it during your rotation as it has no cast time.

Lastly, Executioners Scythe (5) should be used when the enemy is below 50% health for maximum damage. Until then only use it if you need some crowd control.

Rotation

The rotation for Power Reaper is a little bit more complex than Core Necromancer but still very easy. The goal is to switch between Shroud and Greatsword while keeping Chill stacks on the target for maximum damage.

OpenerShroud RotationGreatsword Rotation
1. Nightfall (4)1. Reaper’s Shroud (F1)1. Death Spiral (3)
2. Grasping Darkness (5)2. Death’s Charge (2)2. Gravedigger (2)
3. Well of Suffering (8)3. Soul Spiral (4)3. Auto-attack chain x2
4. Well of Darkness (9)4. Auto-attack chain4. Repeat
5. Death’s Charge (2)
6. Auto-attack chain
7. Death’s Charge (2)
8. Auto-attack chain
9. Exit Shroud

The opening rotation applies Chill and Vulnerability to your target, so your Shroud rotation deals tons of damage. To avoid running out of Life Force, we exit Shroud to gain more Life Force, so we can do it again.

When your target is at 50% health, add Executioner’s Scythe (5) to the second step of the Shroud rotation. Likewise, Gravedigger (2) can replace your auto-attacks in the Greatsword rotation, since it has no cooldown.

Follow this build and you’ll rarely have trouble. To see a more interactive build that you can customize, click on this link here. If you want to play a support/DPS hybrid, then check out the Scourge.

Condi Scourge Build

Condi Scourge Necromancer Build for GW2
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

Scourge is the Path of Fire expansion elite specialization for the Necromancer. With the Scourge spec, Necromancers become a support/DPS hybrid, capable of high Condi damage and great healing. Scourges also gain access to the off-hand Torch to burn their enemies and support allies.

Like the Reaper, Shroud also changes with the Scourge specialization. This time around, the Necromancer loses Shroud all together and instead uses Life Force to summon Sand Shades. These Sand Shades come with their own abilities to damage enemies or heal and revive allies.

When built for support, Sand Shades can constantly heal and apply Barrier to their allies. Additionally, they can revive multiple allies with just a push of a button. Check out our Best Support Classes in Guild Wars 2 for the best support Necromancer build.

This time, we will cover a DPS Scourge build. When built for damage, Scourge focuses on applying as many Conditions as possible. When played right, you can slowly melt through any boss. You also retain some of your support capabilities just in case your team needs it. Let’s get into it.

Stats

This Scourge build is going full Condi, so we need as much Condition Damage as we can get.

  • Viper’s – Power, Precision, Condition Damage, Expertise
  • Sinister – Power, Precision, Condition Damage
  • Carrion – Power, Condition Damage, Vitality

Like every Condi build, Viper’s is the best stat spread for our gear. It gives us plenty of Condition and Strike damage while increasing the duration of conditions with Expertise. However, Viper’s is a bit hard to get at first so Sinister is a decent alternative.

You could also go for Carrion if you need more health. Just be aware, unlike other Necromancer specs, Scourge’s Shroud does not scale off of Vitality.

Specialization/Traits

Guild Wars 2 Necromancer Scourge specs, Curses, Soul Reaping, Scourge
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

For Condi Scourge, our specialization choices are Curses, Soul Reaping, and Scourge. In Curses, Target the Weak and Lingering Curse will increase all of our Condition Damage by a decent amount. Additionally, Plague Sending lets us transfer conditions from ourselves to the enemy.

Next, we will take Soul Reaping so we can take advantage of more Life Force from Gluttony and Soul Battery. Unyielding Blast and Dhuumfire also make it so our Sand Shades inflict Vulnerability and Burning when summoned.

Lastly, Scourge will give us bonus Expertise with Fell Beacon and Sand Sage. More importantly, Demonic Lore gives a 25% damage increase for any Torment we inflict, and Torment will inflict Burning as well.

Weapons and Skills

Guild Wars 2 Scourge Scepter/Torch skills
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

To deal as much damage as we can, our weapons of choice are Scepter/Torch. With the Scepter/Torch combo, the Scourge can apply tons of Bleed, Torment and Burning. We will be aiming to use all skills off cooldown to keep a consistent string of conditions.

As for utility skills, the two-must have skills are Blood is Power (7) and Plaguelands (0). Using these two skills will self-inflict conditions that we will then transfer to enemies with the Plague Sending trait from Curses.

Other utility skills are up to you. Signet of Vampirism (6) can increase your damage output, but if you need more healing, Well of Blood can heal you and allies. If you find yourself running low on Life Force, keep Signet of Undeath (9) for passive Life Force regen and a revive.

Shroud

This time around Shroud doesn’t replace weapon skills but instead uses the profession skill slots. F1, Manifest Sand Shade, will summon Sand Shades. Make sure you always have 3 shades out at a time during the fight and be sure to put them near the boss.

Desert Shroud (F5) will always be used after Blood is Power and Plaguelands. Desert Shroud will be the only way we can trigger Plague Sending to transfer conditions.

If the team needs support, Sand Cascade (F3) gives Barrier to allies as long as they are near Shades. And if you need crowd control, Garish Pillar will fear all enemies near Shades.

Rotation

Like the rest of the Necromancer builds in GW2, the Scourge rotation is pretty simple. First start out with the opener then continue with the main loop:

OpenerRotation Loop
1. Manifest Sand Shade (F1) x31. Devouring Darkness (3)
2. Plaguelands (0)2. Harrowing Wave (4)
3. Blood is Power (7)3. Grasping Dead (2)
4. Desert Shroud (F5)4. Oppressive Collapse (5)
5. Auto-attack chain
6. Manifest Sand Shade (F1)
7. Desert Shroud (F5)
8. Blood is Power (7)

The goal is to basically use skills off cooldown, making sure to keep your Might stacks up with Blood is Power. Your Sand Shades last 20 seconds which, coincidentally, line up with Desert Shroud and Blood is Power coming off cooldown at the same time. Use that as your sign to summon more Shades, then activate Desert Shroud and Blood is Power.

You might not see huge damage numbers compared to a Reaper Power build, but you’ll have an easy consistent DPS build that can moonlight as a support with Condi Scourge in GW2. If you want to see more numbers, click here for the build that you can customize.

For a pure glass cannon class, look no further than the Harbringer.

Condi Harbringer Build

Condi Harbringer Necromancer Build for GW2
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

Harbringer is the End of Dragons expansion elite specialization for the Necromancer. As a Harbringer, you turn from the usual mage into a gunslinging alchemist, complete with a main hand pistol and throwable elixirs. But that’s not all.

This Necromancer build is one of the biggest glass cannons in GW2. Harbringer loses Shroud’s defensive health pool and actively reduces its own maximum health through inflicting themselves with Blight. In return, they deal increasing damage through each stack of Blight.

While some try to make Power builds for Harbringer, the best builds focus on Condition Damage. The Condi Harbringer loves long fights on stationary targets to get the full benefit from Torment. Additionally, they can keep full stacks of Vulnerability on a target, so everyone can deal as much damage as possible.

Let’s look at the stats needed to turn the Harbringer into a DPS monster.

Stats

Like any Condi build, we mainly want Condition Damage and Expertise for max damage and duration for our conditions. So we want:

  • Viper’s – Power, Precision, Condition Damage, Expertise
  • Sinister – Power, Precision, Condition Damage

The Viper’s stat spread is the best for any Condi build. No other stat spread gives us Expertise plus Condition Damage with the added bonus of Power and Precision. However, only crafting or specific items can obtain Viper’s.

Until you can grab Viper gear, Sinister is a great alternative. Your conditions won’t last as long but the bonus Condition Damage will more than make up for it.

Specialization/Traits

Guild Wars 2 Necromancer Harbringer specs, Curses, Soul Reaping, and Harbringer
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

Our specialization choices will look very similar to Scourges. We will take Curses, Soul Reaping and Harbringer. First, Curses will be a big boost to our damage. With Target the Weak, Furious Demise, and Barbed Precision, we will get tons of crit chance and crits will apply Bleeding.

Instead of Plague Sending, we will take Insidious Disruption for more Torment and use something else for condition transfer. Lastly, Lingering Curse will give a big Condition Damage boost.

Soul Reaping will be just like our other builds. The extra Life Force from Soul Battery and Gluttony are too good. Additionally, Soul Barbs will reward going in and out of Shroud with a 10% damage boost. Likewise, Unyielding Blast makes Shroud skill 1 inflict Vulnerability, leading to constant full stack.

And finally, Harbringer has Septic Corruption which increases Condition Damage for each stack of Blight (about a 13% increase at max). It also has Doom Approaches which gives another big Condition Damage boost.

Weapons and Skills

Guild Wars 2 Harbringer weapons, Pistol/Dagger
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

The Pistol will be our main source of Torment when we aren’t in Shroud. Weeping Shot’s (2) will be our highest damage skill plus it pierces multiple enemies and inflicts Vulnerability. Just as useful, Vile Blast, has a small AOE stun which triggers Insidious Disruption for more Torment.

We take the Dagger as our offhand weapon, since we won’t be using Plague Sending. Instead, we can use Deathly Swarm (4) for transferring conditions on ourselves to the enemy.

Our utility skills are pretty set in stone. Each Elixir (6-8) grant buffs but more importantly are easy ways to stack Blight and maintain it. Likewise, Blood is Power (9) and Plaguelands (0) are vital to the damage rotation for buffs and self-inflicting conditions to transfer.

Shroud

Guild Wars 2 Harbringer Shroud skills
Image: ArenaNet via HGG / Tyler Locke

While it doesn’t protect us anymore, Shroud still gives new skills. Harbringer Shroud skills are unique due to the way they interact with Blight stacks. Tainted Bolts (1) and Dark Barrage (2) don’t generate Blight stacks but are still affected by the damage boost.

The other two skills Devouring Cut (3) and Voracious Arc (4) are affected by the amount of Blight you have. At 5 and 10 stacks of Blight respectively, these skills will deal double damage and inflict Torment. Using them will also consume those Blight stacks.

As for Vital Draw (5), this skill has a great 3 second AOE stun and siphons Life Force from each enemy hit. This skill isn’t mentioned in the rotation, but you can insert it anywhere without any damage loss.

Rotation

Some of this rotation will be pretty similar to Scourge’s. The goal is to self-inflict conditions, transfer them then use our hardest hitting abilities off cooldown.

OpenerShroud RotationPistol/Dagger Rotation
1. Use all Elixirs (6-8)1. Dark Barrage (2)1. Weeping Shots (2)
2. Plaguelands (0)2. Voracious Arc (4)2. Elixirs if up
3. Blood is Power (9)3. Devouring Cut (3)3. Blood is Power (9)
4. Vile Blast (3)4. Tainted Bolts (1) until Barrage is up4. Deathly Swarm (4)
5. Blood is Power (9)5. Dark Barrage (2) 5. Vile Blast (3)
6. Deathly Swarm (4)6. Tainted Bolts (1) until Arc is up6. Enfeebling Blood (5)
7. Weeping Shots (2)7. Voracious Arc (4)7. Weeping Shots (2)
8. Enter Shroud (F1)8. Devouring Cut (3)8. Repeat Shroud Rotation
9. Dark Barrage (2)
10. Exit Shroud (F1)

Always make sure to use Voracious Arc and Devouring Cut when they are empowered. Make sure you have at least 15 Blight stacks before using. Remember Blight is naturally increased during Shroud and with every Elixir used.

Use Elixirs off cooldown to keep up your Blight stacks and the multiple buffs they bring. Try to throw them on yourself and the enemy for more damage but remember you only get the benefits if the Elixirs hit you.

Follow this Harbringer guide and you’ll have one of the highest damage Necromancer builds in Guild Wars 2. Just try not to get one shot. If you want to look at the build, click this link.

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That wraps up the best Necromancer builds in Guild Wars 2. Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions leave a comment. Follow our newsletter, so you’ll never miss out on any of your favorite gaming content.

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