It feels like the passive defense gained from taking Earth is not markedly better than the active defense from the standard fresh air build and in my experience I missed the versatility of the Arcana line too much - especially the healing and condi cleanse.
Fine, here's some elaboration for you.
By giving up Arcane you drastically cut your Vigor/Fury uptime, lose any access to very decent Protection uptime (for what, 150 toughness while in Earth? Not even taking Stone Heart, which could actually be useful if you are expecting stealth burst?). Extra condi cleansing/healing every 10 sec is also going away. The attunement recharge bonus is also going away - this isn't much, but Freash Air sometimes makes you burn through your other attunements, and the less you are locked out of them, the better. Swiftness will also be gone.
Taking Signet of Earth will leave you without a stunbreaker. On a Marauder build. Lightning Flash helps a lot with this, but still not a stunbreaker. With the traits it'll give you 180 toughness, raising you to a grand total of less than 2.1k while not in Earth. And no Protection.
Arcana also has a trait which makes you break stun at 25% HP while giving some charges of blocking, which can save your life. In contrast this has AoE at 50% HP, good but that's better on tanky builds imo.
Current Earth GM allows you to use your heal for the active ~3k heal every 20 sec, but the loss of Protection/Vigor/Heal&Cleanse on dodge will cost way more than 3k.
Earth gives some nice things like the Chill/Earth CD reduction, it's just not enough to replace Arcana imo. Playing ele without Arcana is like playing without Soul reaping for nec or Discipline for warrior.
I played this, and I had tons of fun. It is really helpful to have earth instead of arcana, because while missing 1 blast finisher, it is still better IMHO because it has more toughness, which burst builds usually lack.
Geomancer's Training might be my favorite trait to have come out of the update. 33% CDR on Earth's utilities is too good. Additional room for Signet of Earth makes for easy focus fire during team fights. Fresh Air in general still has too much trouble against heavy sustain builds and bunker builds.
@Hanz - It doesn't need Arcana. The whole point of the variant is that Arcana's bonuses got nerfed in the specialization update and Earth got buffed (see discussion).
Great alternative to the other fresh air build, much more effective in 1v1s and has much higher sustain.
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