My reason for posting here – as opposed to the Feedback section, as I usually do – is to fill a gap in the lineup of builds available in these fora: although more than valid in their own right, the current takes on TSS tend to rely on creative or variegated setups that don’t fully reflect the potential of TSS, which can be better realized by a more focused (and thematically fitting) approach.
So, for the purpose of this post, I am a TSS monomaniac. I have two builds to offer: a Druid and a Warlock, both of which realize the same “whole Trozan” concept.
Both are designed to be unapologetically TSS-centric, pushing it as a primary skill and main source of damage. They’re meant to administer a healthy dose of whole-grain, unwhittled sky shards to your foes, and no sides.
The Druid – here dubbed the Cloudburst – was originally an AoM build, dusted off for FG in 1.1.2 with the explicit goal of setting a “Skybreach standard” by which to measure TSS damage in other setups. The Warlock – here dubbed the grounded Trozan – is a straightforward adaptation of the same concept.
I’ve tried a wealth of TSS builds: lightning, cold and dual-type Skybreach Druid as well as Cataclysm; cold Skybreach and Harra Spellbreaker with PB; aether/lightning Allagast in many ineffective variations; and finally Iskandra Mage Hunter, Sorcerer, and Templar. If you’d like to play TSS but haven’t chosen a setup, here’s my reasonably informed opinion:
Play Skybreach Warlock.
You won’t be disappointed. It offers the best TSS experience available, both in terms of gameplay and overall effectiveness. And it doesn’t have to be this one, because there’s a range of alternative takes and variations that work just as well.
Special thanks to @mad_lee who suggested introducing Sigil of Consumption support to Trozan’s Skybreach and to those who voiced their support for the concept, and to Zantai, of course, for following through. Skybreach Warlock is a triumph.
Also, a small plea: Zantai, if you’re reaching for the velvet bag of graded nerf hammers, please select a light one.
:P There seem to be precious few good Druids and Warlocks, and TSS-centric builds aren’t that common either. (And I like to think that these are among the most polished to be found for the skill.)
The Whole Trozan
The “whole Trozan” approach brings TSS base damage to ~200k per cast on a 1.2s cooldown, plus 10k of frostburn per second up for up to 4.5 seconds, with a critical damage bonus around 130%.
The resulting builds embody the glass cannon archetype: they’re not meant to be forgiving or very safe, just safe enough to avoid frustration. Even the Warlock, however resilient, can and will be bursted in either Crucible or SR.
(It should be noted that, despite the excellent clearing times, neither of these builds is a Crucible farmer: they die too easily, and once you’re out of tributes, they’ll struggle to cope without the defensive blessings. They can become reliable enough with practice and care, but you will still die when things go wrong.)
So, both these builds realize the same concept. But how do Warlock and Druid compare, in terms of gameplay?
- Warlock offers positional gameplay with a more tactical feel to it, courtesy of the ground-targeted Sigil.
- Druid offers a more kiting-friendly approach with cast-and-forget wind devils.
- Warlock is more resilient due to high lifesteal and physical resistance.
- Druid has higher health and deals slightly more damage.
- Hard fact: sigils are prettier than wind devils.
I favor Warlock, but you can use the points above to inform your own preference.
Trozan, Grounded – Lightning Skybreach Warlock
[Caster] [126.96.36.199] (g4) (c+) (sr) (vid) Trozan, Grounded – Skybreach Warlock (Pareto)
- Damage: Lightning, Cold
- Active Skills: Trozan’s Sky Shard, Sigil of Consumption, Curse of Frailty, Blood of Dreeg, Mirror of Ereoctes, Nullification, Aether Corruption
- Passive Skills: Star Pact, Iskandra’s Elemental Exchange, Maiven’s Sphere of Protection
- Devotion Procs: Hand of Ultos, Spear of the Heavens, Arcane Bomb, Elemental Storm, Giant’s Blood
Base setup: Trozan, Grounded
Example of a hyperaggressive setup (not recommended): did I hear someone say “Arcanist will have the highest OA”?
You might want to play this if you’re looking for:
- a TSS-focused build
- a kiting caster with good positional gameplay
- a (tempered) glass cannon with high lifesteal and physical resistance
- Crucible 150-170 with 3b + vb: ~6:20 average, medium to good reliability.
5:50 run with Iskandra’s Balance and a Thunderstruck Rolderathis’ Tome of Celerity (see Itemization).
- SR 65 (yet to unlock higher shards), good reliability.
The Cloudburst – Lightning Skybreach Druid
[Caster] [188.8.131.52] (g4) (c+) (sr) The Cloudburst – Skybreach Druid (Pareto)
- Damage: Lightning, Cold
- Active Skills: Trozan’s Sky Shard, Wind Devil, Storm Totem, Mirror of Ereoctes, Nullification, Aether Corruption
- Passive Skills: Star Pact, Mogdrogen’s Pact, Iskandra’s Elemental Exchange, Maiven’s Sphere of Protection
- Devotion Procs: Hand of Ultos, Spear of the Heavens, Arcane Bomb, Elemental Storm, Giant’s Blood, Twin Fangs
Base setup: the Cloudburst
Example of a rare greens setup: we’re still faster than nasty warlockses, my preciouss.
You might want to play this if you’re looking for:
- a TSS-focused build
- a kiting caster
- a traditional glass cannon
- Crucible 150-170 with 3b + vb: ~6:15 average, medium to good reliability.
- SR 65 (yet to unlock higher shards), medium to good reliability.
Let TSS set the pace. Stand your ground where you can and use MoE aggressively to maximize TSS damage against multiple enemies. Sigils or not, don’t try to brawl: kite against heavy melee hitters and use the environment to interfere with their pathing.
As Druid, refresh Aether Corruption as needed, but try to keep the full number of wind devils and totems online to maximize RR and devotion procs.
As Warlock, force enemies to fight on your sigils. Use multiple overlapping sigils against individual foes or small groups to maximize damage and lifesteal. Watch out for nukes, they can blot out your health pool.
Nullify heavy elemental hitters, especially if they deal fire damage. (Kymon and Korvaak, but also Valdaraan and Moosilauke.) Also nullify shielded Ascended-type heroes: Valaxteria, Torraxteria, the merry gang that spawns in the top right at wave 161, and so on.
On wave 162, Rashalga will kill you if you don’t chain MoE and nullification, even at medium range. Seek cover if both skills are in cooldown.
On wave 164, Kymon will kill you with his fire burst if you are debuffed.
In nemeses waves, Reaper can 2-shot you if you remain at melee range while debuffed. Reaper, Iron Maiden and Fabius will be dangerous in any combination. Don’t let Grava’Thul disrupt you when surrounded; if it happens, run away immediately without kiting. Benn’Jahr’s mines can deal a lot of damage, so mind your step when he’s at low health.
Concept and breakdown
The Whole Trozan prioritizes three things:
- Flat damage per cast.
- CDR, both additive and multiplicative.
- Lightning damage.
To understand why this approach is effective, we need only look at the damage profile of TSS.
Nominally, TSS is a CD spell that deals cold and lightning damage in equal parts. However, their respective methods of delivery differ: lightning is only found in the flat damage and therein it prevails, while cold has a hefty DoT. Since DoTs from the same source (a shard) do not stack, this asymmetry is magnified by CDR, which priviliges flat and thus lightning damage.
At the native cooldown of 3s, the damage of TSS maintains an even distribution: both the flat and over-time damage components are applied once, with no overlap. However, as CDR increases, the flat damage – stronger in lightning – will be applied increasingly often, while DoTs will only be renewed. By the time we reach cooldowns of 1.1–1.2s, we will be delivering flat damage nearly thrice as often as DoTs.
So, for a high-CDR, TSS-centric approach, it is natural to go the way of lightning – a damage type which also happens to offer excellent devotion routes.
Mechanical considerations aside, the the ultimate effectivenes of TSS in the two builds presented here is the result of many factors:
- ~43% CDR on top of a flat reduction of 0.9s.
- 5 shards at ~40k base damage with a 3:2 lightning/cold split.
- Hefty 2500% Lightning damage, not accounting for spirit and Shattered Star.
- ~130–140% crit damage, including Shattered Star.
- Up to 4k OA depending on second mastery and setup.
- Effective and consistent RR:
- -45% from Wind Devils or -33% from CoF.
- -45% lightning from Arcane Bomb, spread through Aether Corruption or CoF.
- 30 reduced from Elemental Storm, spawned on every cast of TSS.
- 20% reduced from Ultos, triggered frequently due to high OA.
Needless to say, many of these factors contribute to the global damage output of sigils, wind devils, and devotions as well; by extension, they also contribute to our survivability. But TSS is what I care about, if it wasn’t clear already.
Setup details and variations
Skill point allocation is straightforward for both Warlock and Druid, with the mainstays we’d expect:
- TSS, SoC, and wind devils – our primaries – should be pushed as high as item bonuses allow.
- Elemental Balance is doubly worth soft-capping now that it prolongs DoTs.
- Everything Occultist is cost-effective, and not a point in Vulnerability or the SoC and BoD lines is wasted.
Room for adjustment is mostly found among support skills with a good working range:
- Star Pact: 15–19
Can be stretched to 21, but the returns are diminishing.
- Mirror of Ereoctes: 7–12
Heed that removing points from MoE is an offensive loss as well as defensive, since you will need to kite more. Higher uptime is all the more desirable for Warlocks, who want to stand their ground within sigils.
- Maiven’s Sphere: 12+
Ultimate ranks are more important for Warlocks due to their diminutive health pool.
- Nullification: 4+
Higher ranks can be worth their cost, especially in SR.
- Inner Focus / Overload: 12+ / 3+
Invest freely to reach the desired OA.
- Curse of Frailty: 4–8 (Warlock)
Adjust the first node for radius. Higher ranks are nice to have, though sigils and TSS only have moderate radius themselves.
- Heart of the Wild: 6–10 (Druid)
We can lose a few points depending on equipment choices, although it should be noted that soft-capping HotW is a better per-point investment than pushing Maiven’s Sphere into ultimate ranks. I recommend holding on to Oak Skin for the armor and resistance bonuses.
Notably absent from the Druid lineup are Storm and Wendigo totems:
- Wendigo totems are plainly unsustainable with the defenses of a Skybreach Druid: however powerful, their healing cannot offset the amount of damage we receive by staying within their limited range.
- Storm totems require hefty investment to become something more than a devotion trigger, and will co-opt most of our free points. In the balance, I’m not persuaded they’re worth the loss of utility.
Both builds follow the well-trodden lightning route that leads to Ultos and Spear by way of Rhowan’s Crown and Widow. I’ve tried to incorporate Murmur, but Druid lacks a good activator and losing Spear or Solemn Watcher/Hawk over it didn’t seem worth it.
Druid needs both Bat and Behemoth to find sufficient sustained healing. I recommend binding Twin Fangs to wind devils or totems and Giant’s Blood to a toggled skill, as it will only have 3 seconds of downtime with Eternity. Arcane Will can work, but it has downtime of its own and only offers 29% chance of activation once you go below 75% health, which can make gameplay a bit haphazard.
Warlocks should definitely skip Bat and take Jackal and Hawk.
If you like double-cast gameplay, Aeon’s Hourgless works well, but I am yet to explore such a setup.
- Trozan’s Skybreach, full set
Rolderathis’ Tome, off-hand
Starfury Emerald, amulet
The full Skybreach set is, of course, integral to the build. While not strictly required, I consider Rolderathis’ Tome and Starfury Emerald to be core items since they more or less define the build in terms of focus and gameplay: their TSS modifiers are hard to match.
The flat CDR provided by Rolderathis’ sets a fast pace and improves damage, while the reduced target area trades some AoE for more consistent targeting. Thunderstruck and Sandstorm are prize prefixes for their physical resistance and attributes (OA and slow resistance respectively); anything will do for suffix. (I like Celerity for the ergonomy of higher casting speed, and it’s common enough.) If you don’t care for Rolderathis’ modifiers, Iskandra’s Texts are bonny and still yield TSS cooldowns around 1.5s.
Offensively, Starfury Emerald is the gold standard for TSS amulets: it increases cast damage by some 20%, at the cost of modest attributes. For better resistances, consider Iskandra’s Focusing Prism or Invoker’s Shard.
High CDR rolls on every slot will yield TSS cooldowns of 1.1s with Rolderathis’ Tome and 1.3s without, thus making Iskandra’s Texts and 2-piece Iskandra very effective.
- Two-piece Eastern Oath, legs and gloves
Arcanoweave Cord (Druid, Warlock) / Storm Shepherd (Druid), belt
Mark of Calamitous Desires, medal
- Star of Frozen Skies (Warlock)
- Eternity / Iskandra’s Balance, relic
Partial Eastern set is more or less irreplaceable due to skill bonuses, physical resistance, OA, and even that tiny bit of movement speed – which Druid is especially lacking in, despite being strictly a kiter.
Arcanoweave works well for both builds, although Druids may favor Storm Shepherd for its excellent attributes. Warlocks who don’t mind the health loss can take Phantom-Thread, provided they recover the missing chaos resistance.
Among medals, Calamitous Desires finds little competition. Star of Frozen Skies would allow us to hard-cap Frozen Core, but is otherwise middling; poison resistance notwithstanding, Warlocks will still want Calamitous Desires’ attributes and skill bonuses to Vulnerability.
In the relic slot, Eternity is quite good: besides shaving a couple of seconds from the cooldown of MoE and Giant’s Blood, it gives us the odd double cast for TSS. Iskandra is a more aggressive option which trades some defense for a reliable damage boost, and can be especially nice on Warlock.
Final March, boots
- Glyph of the Storm Witch, first ring
- Second ring:
The Final March remain the easy choice of boots, though there is a smattering of decent alternatives. I recommend retaining slow and physical resistance unless your Tome has them, especially on Druid; Warlocks have more leeway and can consider things like Stormtitan to increase their health pool or Voidwalker to push Sigil. Grey Magi can work for both, although Druids should mind the downtime.
In the ring slots, I recommend retaining one Glyph of the Storm Witch: besides the excellent stats which include hard-to-get pierce resistance, Warlocks also benefit from the aether conversion and improved lifesteal. There are a fair few options beyond a second glyph, notably the Sky Seal as a solid all-rounder, Allagast’s for OA and resistances, and Starfire for a fitting proc and good skill bonuses.
Craft at Angrim for pierce resistance, physique, or armor.