Here’s the neat part – most professions generally build themselves out to focus on one thing or another. For instance, a guardian may build itself out to be a point defender, focusing on wards, defense, and support. While they can switch weapons, their utility skills and the weapons they’ll switch between will focus primarily on that function. An elementalist can switch between four roles fluidly, even building themselves out with different utility skills. Many of the utility skills switch with the attunement, for instance, Glyph of Elemental Harmony grants a different boon depending on the current active attunement and Glyph of Storms which creates a storm based on your current attunement. As a matter of a fact, all glyphs change based on which attunement you are in.
Switching between the elements is critical for the elementalist.
There are also the “arcane” skills in the utility bar that are element-less and go along with any build. Then there are element specific utility skills that can be used in any attunement, but can end up working best to fit into a specific role. For instance, Signet of Earth improves toughness and is best to carry with you when you want to be a bit more tanky.
Armor of Earth is an important utility skill to remember, because it grants stability and protection, two vital boons in PvP. See our boon guide to find out more about the different boons, but needless to say, it works well with any build, even if it’s labeled “earth.”
Variety is the spice of life and Guild Wars 2 completely understands the necessity of including a lot of variety in the game. Each profession in the game is given its own unique profession mechanic that helps separate the different playstyles. For the elementalistthat mechanic is attunement. In short, each weapon contains four sets of skills, each set aligned to one of the four specific elements, and the elementalist can switch between the four depending on what role they need to fill. It’s a bit more complicated than that, so let’s try to simplify it.
All of the other professions can have two weapon sets equipped that they can switch between; each weapon set provides five skills, for a total of ten available skills at any given time. The elementalist cannot switch weapons in combat; instead they can switch between different attunements. There are four attunements available: fire, air, water, and earth, each with their own unique playstyle. So instead of being able to switch between two weapon skill bars, the elementalist can switch between four.
The tradeoff is that the weapon’s theme (long range, mid-range, and AoE) persists through attunement switches. A good example is that a warrior can switch between a bow for long range assaults and then switch to a shield and sword for close combat defense. The elementalist can only switch between different attunements, the general weapon theme will persist. They also only have five possible weapon sets; however, counting attunements they have up to 20 different weapon sets which more than a warrior has!
Like weapon switching, there is a 15 second cooldown on the previous attunement and a 1 second cooldown placed on the remaining attunements. You can switch attunements mid-cast and while moving. The attunements are switched with the function keys, although remapping them may be in order if you don’t want to reach your hand up that far on your keyboard. Each element has its own unique playstyle, which we’ll get into below.