pic under all permanent buffs and auras
Making an Elementalist guide was quite a spontaneous decision since for a long time it was considered to be quite an underdog class at high end play, to the point where he was nicknames Mementalist. Recently though I changed my opinion of it after analyzing several well-performing builds and turns out the class isn’t that bad as long as you understand some finer specifics about it.
These specifics can be summarized into one very simple idea – a reasonable Elementalist is a lightning caster with high Maelstrom investment. Elementalist may have some makings of a melee or ranged class, but such builds want to interrupt their attacks as little as possible, and Wind Devil & Thermite Mine are some of the most disruptive ways to apply resistance reduction.
Furthermore, simply picking the lightning caster archetype doesn’t guarantee picking Elementalist over another class would make sense. The cornerstone idea is that Wind Devil can double as both damage and resistance reduction skill. You can pick whatever lightning skills on Demolitionist side to justify it, but the only way to justify Shaman would be high Maelstrom investment. Storm Totem is usually included as well.
This build is essentially a budget version of Cyclone Elementalist.
Mechanics of Wind Devil
Wind Devil is what we in the community call “pseudopet”, or more properly a player-scaled pet. Pseudo-pet is how the game handles a lot of skills due to it’s engine limitations, some of them really look like pets, some not so. There isn’t anything bad about it, just that these skills inherit some of the less obvious pet related mechanics that can be used to your advantage.
Pseudo-pets are easier to understand if you think about them as what they really are – simply pets that scale with player bonuses. What a normal pet can do? It can attack, and each pet will perform it’s own attack, so the damage a skill inflicts is multiplied by the number of pets that skill can summon.
It doesn’t work like that for basic Wind Devils. They don’t really have an “attack”, instead they have a debuffing aura (called Howling Wind) that does some damage around Wind Devil each second, as well as reduces enemy elemental resistance if you’ve invested into Raging Tempest (which is actually just a modifier that improves that aura). Think about it this way – Wind Devils are pets without attack, but each has an active Aura of Censure. Yeah. What would happen if there are more than one and auras overlap? Nothing, because auras itself don’t do damage, they inflict a debuff. Having multiple auras overlapping won’t increase the damage because the debuff won’t stack with itself.
But Wind Devil skill also has another node – Maelstrom. Unlike Raging Tempest, Maelstrom has nothing to do with Wind Devil’s aura and instead grants them a second skill that periodically strikes enemy with lightning (like Reckless Tempest devotion proc). Since Maelstrom is not a debuff skill the damage Maelstrom inflicts is individual and therefore stacks from each Wind Devil. This does mean that an electrocute damage would stack as well and you can pretty much multiply the electrocute value of Maelstrom by the number of Wind Devils you have on the field. If you’re building Wind Devils as an offensive skill then more than 90% of their damage will be actually inflicted by Maelstrom rather than the main skill.
That’s not all. Pets have a similar interaction with Devotion procs bound to them – while the cooldown of devotion proc will be shared the damage instance will not…and that does mean that if a devotion proc bound to pet skill has a damage over time part then it will stack, provided it gets procced by different individual pets. That means if you e.g. bind Hand of Ultos to Wind Devils, then if individual pets manage to proc it the electrocute from Hand of Ultos will get multiplied by the number of pets.
The catch is, pets have to be able to actually activate that devotion proc individually. For example there’s a skill called Thermite Mines. It summons a whooping six pseudopets, which in theory would make an amazing skill for stacking damage over time from devotions. In practice they are a tight cluster of pets without attack that similarly to Wind Devils have an aura around them. So if the auras are overlapping, the question is, to whom it belongs?..Whatever the answer is, it simply doesn’t work. It does work with Wind Devil and Storm Totem, because for the former Maelstrom traces back to each individual pet, while Storm Totem simply zaps targets with chain lightning without any aura shenanigans.
Test character was levelled on Hardcore from scratch, starting from Veteran, on which I did the vanilla campaign. After killing the final boss of vanilla campaign I switched right to Elite, which I did full playthrough of. I succeeded only on third attempt, first character have died around level 45 and second character have died around level 63. I used the drafts of my own guide to level each next character, so early levelling is quite fleshed out if I say so myself.
Attribute points - I finished with 75 into Physique and 32 into Spirit. This is mostly dictated by gear, you want 724 Spirit so that you could use any endgame caster off-hand and the rest goes into Physique to make oneself more beefy. During levelling I followed a similar idea that I need to have enough for any sort of gear I’m getting, with bigger focus on physique early on and more on spirit later levels. Technically if the final setup used a dagger or a pistol like some Elementalists do, I would have had to invest into Cunning too, but since I didn’t and a few of attribute point reset potions are guaranteed as quest rewards I decided not to invest anything in Cunning.
Factions - the only unusual thing here is I chose to be hostile with Anasteria to be able to farm her pants. The choice between Death’s Vigil and Kymon’s Chosen doesn’t really matter, and whether you’re friends or foes with Barrowholm doesn’t matter that much as well, albeit I recommend to be friends with Barrowholm if it’s Elementalist. Elementalist is a fairly glassy character, so Ravager’s Eye augment does wonders beefing him up. My setup opted for different augment, but if you decide to copy someone else’s high end build being hostile with Barrowholm can backfire upon you.
We’ll be starting with Shaman, levelling in this level range would be done mostly with Wind Devils. Yes, you’ve read it right. It’s not very well known but they are a viable levelling method. Doesn’t have to be Primal Strike.
|2-4||3 points into Shaman mastery bar|
|5||1 point into Shaman mastery bar, 2 points into Wind Devil|
|6, 7||3 points into Wind Devil|
|Kasparov’s quest||1 point into Shaman mastery bar|
|8-10||3 points into Shaman mastery bar|
|11-14||3 points into Raging Tempest|
|15-20||3 points into Shaman mastery bar|
Leaving Wind Devil at 8/16 because I want to keep it’s energy cost under control. Raging Tempest on the other hand offers damage without increasing energy costs. Aiming for Maelstrom.
Once you rescue the Blacksmith you should craft yourself a couple of Wardstones for the amulet and medal. This component offers a good chunk of resistances as well as much desired movement speed. Also craft at least one Scaled Hide and put it into shoulder.
Devotion-wise you should be going for Tsunami. It’s quite amazing for this playstyle. Bind proc to Wind Devil.
During this level range it’s very important to fill your component slots. Since the build don’t really have anything to do in-between Wind Devil casts as of now I’m crafting Amber component since it grants Empowered Lightning Nova. Technically I could had been using a Cracked Lodestone before that, but in practice it eats an unreasonable amount of energy so it’s simply not feasible before you get Ectoplasm in your rings. Anyway, this is what you should aim to get:
|Slot||Component||Where to get|
|Weapon||Amber||Craft, no blueprint|
|Off-hand||Hell’s Bane Ammo||Craft, no blueprint|
|Amulet||Attuned Lodestone||Random drop|
|Medal||Wardstone||Craft, no blueprint|
|Shoulders||Scaled Hide||Craft, no blueprint|
|Chest||Chains of Oleron||Random drop|
|Pants||Ancient Armor Plate||Random drop|
|Hands||Restless Remains||Craft, blueprint sold by Rovers|
|Boots||Mark of Traveler||Random drop|
|Belt||Antivenom Salve||Craft, no blueprint|
At level 25 you should aim to craft a Squall relic. The blueprint for Squall doesn’t drop in any specific place, if you don’t have it by that time yet then grind totems a bit. Totems are good for blueprints. Crafting Squall requires an Ancient Heart, if you don’t have one you can try killing beast heroes (2.5% chance) in Broken Hills or troll boss in Smuggler’s Pass (15% chance). Squall gives a skill called Lightning Storm, which is another button to play with.
Skill-wise follow this path.
|21||2 points into Shaman mastery bar, 1 point into Maelstrom|
|22-24||3 point into Maelstrom|
|25||2 points into Maelstrom, 1 point into Shaman mastery bar|
|26-28||3 point into Shaman mastery bar|
|29-32||3 point into Stormcaller’s Pact|
|33||1 point into Mogdrogen’s Pact, 1 point into Heart of the Wild, 1 point into Oak Skin|
|34, 35||3 point into Oak Skin|
At this point Shaman part is mostly fine, after maxing Oak Skin we’re moving to Demolitionist.
Devotion-wise you should be hitting Tempest. I’ve bound Tempest to Lightning Nova from Amber component.
Okay, so if you did everything right then at this point enemies will simply melt. You would probably find survivability and sustain to be lacking, and that’s the improvement goal for this level range.
|36||3 points into Oak Skin|
|37-42||3 points into Demolitionist mastery bar|
|43||2 point into Demolitionist mastery bar, 1 point into Vindictive Flame|
|44-47||3 points into Ulzuin’s Wrath|
|48||1 point into Blackwater Cocktail, 1 point into High Potency, 1 point into Flame Touched|
|49, 50||3 points into Flame Touched|
Extra health and stats you get from Demolitionist mastery bar would improve your survivability while Ulzuin’s Wrath would grant at least some sustain. Blackwater Cocktail is to proc Bat devotions’ Twin Fang, which I assume you’d be reaching around that point. This is something you should be taking based on situation, if Twin Fang is still far away then you should postpone Blackwater Cocktail and invest points into Flame Touched instead.
In this level range we’ll be pushing Demolitionist mastery bar to 32 and picking up Blast Shield and Thermite Mines. Raw damage is still fine at this point but survivability on the other hand is lacking and there can be problems against more resistant enemies because we’re not going for early resistance reduction in devotions either.
Once you’re level 65 you can buy some useful goods from Cult of Bysmiel, provided you’re Respected with them already (should be!). Specifically, the Bysmiel Stormshroud Mantle is a great piece of gear for this build because it offers +2 to Maelstrom, which is our main damage source. You can also pick up Bysmiel Flameshroud Cuirass and Bysmiel Stormshroud Headguard, but these are picked up simply because they are items with %lightning damage and some good resistances.
Further pushing Demolitionist bar to 40 and finally picking up a source of flat resistance reduction – Agonizing Flames.
At level 75 I recommend to make a run on Elite for Fettan Mask, which can be found near the entrance to Maw of Enaht
Another useful thing you can pick up on Elite once you’re level 75 is the Totally Normal Dawnshard, which is found inside Ancient Grove, in an aetherial part of Tainted Woods. Seek the statue!
Starting to invest into Storm Totem. I’ve been delaying Storm Totems because they aren’t very convenient for levelling since they are immobile unlike Wind Devils and you want to be on the move. But they are great for boss fights.
Mostly finishing up things I under-invested before – Flame Touched (max), Vindictive Flame (sweet spot is 6/16 for this build), Blast Shield (12/12 enough for Main Campaign), Thermite Mines (13/16 is a nice breakpoint here).
Overall this is the level range where I grind reputation with factions of interest to maximum (which for this build is the three Cults, Coven of Ugdenbog and Malmouth Resistance, maybe The Black Legion for their armor augments as well). Another thing I grind here is Ugdenblooms, because past 90 they will stop dropping on Elite because enemy’s level is too low and you’ll have to farm them on Ultimate and be content with less powerful components until then.
|Weapon||Amber||Seal of Skies||8||Medium|
|Off-Hand||Hell’s Bane Ammo||Seal of Blades||8||Low|
|Head||Prismatic Diamond¹||N/A||N/A||No Update|
|Chest||Sanctified Bone||N/A||N/A||No Update|
|Shoulders||Scaled Hide||Living Armor or Sacred Plating||16||High|
|Rings||Mark of Illusion||Bloodied Crystal||8 per ring||High|
|Amulet||Arcane Lens||N/A||N/A||No Update|
|Medal||Arcane Spark²||N/A||N/A||No Update|
|Belt||Antivenom Salve||Ugdenbog Leather||8||High|
|Pants||Ancient Armor Plate||Scaled Hide³||N/A||N/A|
|Gloves||Restless Remains||N/A||N/A||No Update|
|Boots||Mark of Traveler||N/A||N/A||No Update|
¹,² – requires 12 Chthonic Seals of Binding instead
³ – basically moves from Shoulder to Pants once Shoulder slot gets Sacred Plating or Living Armor.
All in all, the estimation of how much Ugdenbloom you’ll need for component upgrades is 48.
Since you’re level 90 already you should get some updated faction gear, specifically:
- Elite Bysmiel Stormshroud Mantle from Cult of Bysmiel Quartermaster.
- Elite Bysmiel Flameshroud Cuirass from Cult of Bysmiel Quartermaster.
- Dreeg Arcane Pendant from Cult of Dreeg Quartermaster.
- Solael's Glare, Solael's Vision from Cult of Solael Quartermaster, depending on which damage resistance you need more – pierce or vitality.
- Solael's Glare or Solael's Vision, depending on which damage resistance you need more – pierce or vitality. Alternatively you can use the more defensive option of Ravager's Eye from Barrowholm.
- Typhoon Powder or Skyshard Powder from either Malmouth Resistance or Coven of Ugdenbog respectively, depending on whether you need OA or DA.
- Mark of the Shadow Queen blueprint from Cult of Bysmiel Quartermaster, crafting is better done with Malmouth Resistance blacksmith for a chance of %freeze resistance.
Once you’re level 94 you can make a run for level 94 versions of Fettan Mask and Totally Normal Dawnshard, which are found at same spots as level 75 versions but on Ultimate instead.
This is a special devotion setup I designed for this Elementalist. It doesn’t make much sense for anything else, because no other build cares about collecting all possible electrocute (it is de facto an electrocute build) across devotions and has access to flat resistance reduction in mastery skills at the same time, meaning you may not take a flat RR constellation.
Order of Acquisition:
- Crossroads (blue)
- Crossroads (purple)
- Remove Tsunami
- Remove Crossroads (purple)
- Sailor's Guide
- Remove Crossroads (blue)
- Spear of the Heaven
- Tsunami (Tsunami) – Wind Devils
- Reckless Tempest (Tempest)– granted skill by the component, like Empowered Lightning Nova or Chain Lightning.
- Hand of Ultos (Ultos, Shepherd of Storms) – Thermite Mine temorarily, Storm Totem in final setup.
- Twin Fang (Bat) – rebind from Wind Devils
- Arcane Bomb (Widow) – Squall (granted from Squall relic) early on, later Blackwater Cocktail. Cannot be bound to Storm Totem, Wind Devil and Thermite Mine.
- Spear of the Heavens (Spear of the Heavens) – any permanent buff or aura.
Endgame Skill Min-Maxing
- Max - means that you should put the maximum possible number of skillpoints into it and try to push it high up with gear.
- Keep at X - means that it's best if skill level stays at certain number. Since skill level can fluctuate based on gear you should adjust your skillpoint investment to keep the given number.
- Onepoint - means that it deserves one skillpoint investment either to enable something or because you'll be letting +skills from gear push it high up.
Wind Devil - main skill, but doesn’t necessarily needs to be maxed, if you feel like something else will do more damage feel free to take points out of it.
Raging Tempest - resistance reduction effect, max.
Maelstrom - main damage source of the build, max.
Stormcaller’s Pact - max, because it has an accelerating %crit damage scaling past 12/12
Mogdrogen’s Pact - onepoint, the energy regeneration is useful but it’s not worth it investing into the skill just because of that.
Heart of the Wild - keep at 10/10, worthless above that.
Oak Skin - personally I prefer maxing it because it’s just a very loaded with stats passive.
Thermite Mine - either max or keep at 13/16 if you want to save some skillpoints.
Flame Touched - max, albeit not super important but the build could really use more offensive ability.
Temper - onepoint, only defensive ability there is useful but that alone doesn’t make it worth it.
Vindictive Flame - keep at 6/16 since that’s a scaling breakpoint for activation frequency.
Ulzuin’s Wrath - I chose to max it, some extra sustain and some extra electrocute, even if the way it functions makes it difficult to utilize sometimes.
Blackwater Cocktail - all skill points I can manage to spare go into this skill. It indirectly contributes to your damage by increasing the AoE in which Agonizing Flames would apply.
High Potency - some extra radius at the cost of added cooldown, which is fine.
Agonizing Flames - max, resistance reduction skill. The reason it gets maxed while Thermite Mines isn’t is it’s applied in larger area, so it has a bigger impact.
Blast Shield - defensive passive, personally my approach is to keep it at 12/12. This much will efficiently dampen about anything you can meet in Campaign, provided your other defenses are adequate.
Endgame Items & Farming
Weapon - Totally Normal Dawnshard (GT Link)
- Drops from an urn near a statue in Tainted Woods, which is inside Ancient Grove.
- Has level 50, 75 and 94 versions, which drop on Normal, Elite and Ultimate respectively
Offhand - Yeti Horn (GT Link)
- Drops from Yeti enemy type, which populate Asterkarn territories.
- Has level 20, 35, 55, 70, 84 and 94 versions.
- It's reasonably easy to find the “of Thunder” one, and with some dedication you can find a reasonably good prefix too.
- Fantasy version is Thunderstruck Yeti Horn of Torrents, but I don't think it's reasonable to invest into getting a good Yeti Horn because normally Elementalists use Cyclone Effigy instead.
Chest - Elite Bysmiel Flameshroud Cuirass (GT Link)
- Faction item, can be bought from Cult of Bysmiel Quartermaster once you hit Revered reputation.
- Restarting the game until you get one with above average rolls is recommended.
- In theory Valaxteria's Skytorn Robes will perhaps be better with good enough affixes, in practice experienced builders are using Mythical Fateweaver's Raiment instead due to it's defensive benefits. So it's a question whether it's worth it getting invested into farming a temporary item.
Shoulders - Elite Bysmiel Stormshroud Mantle (GT Link)
- Faction item, can be bought from Cult of Bysmiel Quartermaster once you hit Revered reputation.
- Restarting the game until you get one with above average rolls is recommended.
Head - Fettan Mask (GT Link)
- A once per difficulty pickup at Maw of Enaht
- Has normal, elite and ultimate difficulty version, which are level 50, 75 and 94 respectively. Elite version is good for levelling while final setup should use version from Ultimate.
Gloves - Mythical Runesinged Handguards (GT Link)
- A relatively common random drop, chosen over random craftable green gloves for %defensive ability bonus as well as +3 to Ulzuin's Wrath.
Pants - Anasteria’s Leggings (GT Link)
- Drops from Anasteria if you choose to be hostile with her (which opens a door at the back of her quarters where you can farm her repetitively).
- Unlike all other “nemesis” pants you don't need to be Nemesis with Anasteria since they drop from non-Nemesis version too.
- Has been chosen over common craftable green pants because of +3 to Ulzuin's Wrath.
- Has level 40, 55, 70, 84 and 94 versions.
- Any affixes that improve offensive&defensive ability as well as resistances will do.
Belt - Chains of Brandis (GT Link)
- Drops from Watcher Brandis in Port Valbury.
- Absolutely mandatory if you want to get value from Bat's Twin Fang on a lightning build.
- Has level 50, 65, 75, 84 and 94 versions.
- Affixes that increase %lightning damage, resistances and OA/DA are preferred.
- Random drop, there's no specific place to farm them.
- Since they are part of the set you can use a Transmute function to change any blue set item in random another blue set item, and hope you'll get it.
- Alternatively you can use Coven Sky Seal bought from Coven of Ugdenbog Quartermaster.
Amulet - Dreeg Arcane Pendant (GT Link)
- Faction item, bought from Cult of Dreeg Quartermaster once you hit Revered reputation.
- Restarting the game until you find one with 4% DA is recommended.
- Alternatively you can make a run to Tomb of the Heretic and buy a blueprint for Conduit of Destructive Whispers, and hopefully craft a variant with lightning Cocktail.
Medal - Mark of the Shadow Queen (GT Link)
- Faction item, craftable, blueprint is bought from Cult of Bysmiel Quartermaster.
- Craft with Malmouth Resistance blacksmith for the chance to roll an extra freeze resistance.
Relic - Eye of the Storm (GT Link)
- Blueprint is a random drop, good ways to farm are Totems, Treasure Troves and Shattered Realm.
- Desired completion bonus is Maelstrom+Oak Skin, the rest are irrelevant.
Hands down one of the most fun casters I’ve levelled. It may not have that much of a single target damage as my dual-wield builds, and perhaps it isn’t as durable as some of my 2H builds, but it just evaporates crowds and it’s absolutely glorious. Piano, sure, but a nice one, because you don’t have to aim most of the stuff.
Can clear any monster totem on Ultimate with ease, can do roguelikes (tested Port Valbury and Ancient Grove), can kill some nemeses (tested Benn’Jahr and Moosilauke), can do SR on ultimate up to 35 at the very least (tested once to get final skill points).
Special credit goes to @Nery. Not only he perfected Cyclone like noone else and I shamelessly used his builds as a reference, but I was really struggling to come up with a good name for this guide. Then I remembered his Sparkiest Cyclone, and it clicked. Dude, what would had I done without you! The guide would be called something like Beginner’s Stormbringer Elementalist, Galewind Elemenetalist or Hurricane Elementalist, or something even more edgy. Also incredibly happy that Mr. Sparky isn’t a thing.
Recommended follow-up endgame builds:
Barrelsmith Elementalist by @Monceaux – personally I think this build is just better as Purifier or maybe Sorcerer (because it isn’t a Cyclone build), but it’s performance is good enough to be worth mentioning.