(this section will repeat between my build overviews; you can skip to Build Concept if you’ve read one of my overviews before and are familiar with my rating system and test criteria)
Patch 9.8 brought, among other things, major changes to the Shattered Realm. Given that SR is where I do my endgame build testing, with the release of the patch I decided to redo all the testing for all my builds. And since I’d be putting in the time and noting down all my results anyway, I thought I might as well post the builds and their scores publicly for others. Who knows, maybe you’ve been thinking of trying something similar and are curious if it even works. Or maybe you’re just morbidly curious and like that tickly feeling in your brainhole when you see someone play something utterly stupid.
Now, what exactly does this testing entail? Each character has to do 10 SR75-80 runs (I used to do 5 runs but I’m expanding it to 10 for this second wave). Every run completed within timer counts as a success. It takes 6 successes (over 50 % success rate) for me to consider a build complete. If a build keeps failing to meet that quota, I keep improving it till it works. Ergo, no build I post here will have a lower score than 6/10, because if it doesn’t have over 50 % success rate, I’m not done improving it and it doesn’t get posted.
Three rules were followed to make the results more representative:
- no consumables other than healing and energy elixirs can be used;
- no shrines can be taken; if a build has bad resists, it’ll have to make do with bad resists, Rattosh isn’t gonna be saving its ass;
- no mutator hunting; if I get shitty mutators, I’ll have to succeed with shitty mutators.
Other than that, it doesn’t matter in what manner the runs are completed. If a build takes twice as long to finish a run than others do, that’s perfectly fine as long as it successfully finishes. Doesn’t matter whether the build has to dodge Nemeses in shards like the plague or whether it hunts them for sport, doesn’t matter if it has to kite like crazy or stands its ground with ease, doesn’t matter if it completes the runs deathless or not. Only thing that affects the score is completion within timer. Generally, a weaker build that is slow, fragile, hard to play etc. will end up with a lower score regardless because its shortcomings will affect its reliability across the 10 runs.
Now, two final things before we get to the build itself:
As mentioned in the title, this is a build overview, not a build guide. What’s the difference? Well, a build guide says “this is the way you should build this type of character”. What I’m saying is rather “this is what I did, here’s why I did it this way, here’s how it turned out”. It’s more of a documentary, a post-mortem, rather than an example to be followed. “Wait, that’s just a fancy way of saying you make shit builds,” you might say. No, not exactly. I try to make a strong character without deviating from the concept of the build. But the concept of the build might not necessarily be something one should even be doing in the first place While my build concept and the in-game support will often align to create a reasonably predictable, almost cookie cutter build, just as often I’ll just be doing something abundantly demented for my own reasons. I’ll always endeavour to explain in the Build Concept section why I chose to do a thing a certain way, but I don’t want you to get the impression that what I’m presenting is a thing you should necessarily be doing.
I’m also by no means hyperfocused on optimising the crap out of a build once it’s in a workable state. There will almost always be things to optimise on my characters, but frankly, I prefer spending an hour theorycrafting a new character rather than shuffling an existing character’s devo tree, gear, component and augment setup just to squeeze 5 % more damage out of it. I don’t care that much.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the build itself.
Note: In this overview, I’ll be doing things a little differently. I’ll once again be presenting two builds, rather than one, and so, instead of presenting the concept of the build along with a GT link right at the start as usual, I’ll first first introduce what I was trying to do with the build, how I arrived at the first workable version, how I arrived at the second version, and then I’ll present the performance of both builds in comparison to each other.
Having had my fun with the new Inquisitor mastery after the release of AoM (as detailed in my Runecaster/Gunslinger Infiltrator Overview), it was time to stop delaying the inevitable and delve into the much anticipated Necromancer. However, before I would get to doing my obligatory Skelemancer, I wanted to draw out the anticipation a bit longer by exploring another option I dismissed before. When I was looking to create the archetypical Wizard back in vanilla GD (as explored here) I originally skipped over Dreeg’s Evil Eye (DEE) as I felt the support in base GD was lacking (there was pretty much just a handful of things in Nighblade for Acid). Another reason was that the idea of just spamming DEE as the only thing I’d be doing for the whole playthrough seemed rather dull. But with the release of Necromancer, a new toy was introduced that would spice things up: Ravenous Earth. And while that would be pretty much the only thing that Necromancer would be bringing to the table, to me, it seemed enough of an reason at the time to give the build a whirl and create my very first Acid build, a true Venomancer.
My decision was very quickly vindicated. Cause from the very beginning of the levelling process, DEE felt like absolute shit. When I set out on the journey I expected that I’d be working with just an acid-flavoured version of the traditional Fire Ball. Well, yes. But actually, no. What it felt more like was Fire Bolt. With some auxiliary, minor splash as a consolation prize. It was taking out enemies one at a time, when sufficiently spammed, and the explosion from Blood Burst was kinda just tickling the neighbours. It wouldn’t be until Vile Eruption all the way at level 40 Occultist mastery that some semblance of reasonable AoE could enter the equation. Meanwhile, slotting in Ravenous Earth (RE) immediately improved the clearing capabilities of the build dramatically. Happy with my decision, I levelled the character up through the campaigns.
But when I reached high levels, there was a decision to be made. What endgame gear am I actually going to be working with? While levelling I was using the Miasma sets but those end at the Empowered version, sadly. And there is no set of gear that would directly support Acid RE, let alone both RE and DEE. There was, however, the Dreeg set to support Acid DEE alone. And as it so happened, by the time I was reaching lvl 94 with the character, I already had the blueprint for it from other characters. So I thought I’d give it a go. Enter…
Version 1: Deception of Dreeg Cabalist
And it. Was. Marvellous. With the addition of passthrough to DEE, the build suddenly turned its weakpoint into its main strength. Hordes were just melting in its presence. DEEs flew everywhere and everything was dying. But that brought with it a question: why am I even bothering with Ravenous Earth anymore? I don’t need its AoE when DEE pierces through enemies. So I unspecced it. Which brought another question: why am I playing a Cabalist now? Cause outside of RE, Cabalist does jack shit for Acid. It has no native RR for it (and the Dreeg set blocks some of the items through which it could get it, like the Radaggan amulet) nor does it bring in any sources of % damage. All I was left with was Ill Omen for DR, some extra health and OA on Spectral Binding and an Oh Shit Button in Mark of Torment. So only defenses. That hardly seemed good enough of a reason to use the Necromancer mastery. I was essentially relying wholly on Occultist and Necromancer was just hanging on like an appendix waiting for surgical removal.
As a result, I expected the build to perform rather poorly. Breezing through the campaign is one thing, but endgame is another story. And yet, surprisingly, when I tested it for endgame under two different patches recently (probably somewhere in 9.4 and 9.6, would be my guess) it scored 5/5 and 4/5 respectively. Cause while Necromancer might have just been providing defensive tools to the build, that was actually something the Occultist side was lacking in. Having a reliable source of DR was quite handy, boosting the low health of Occultist helped and Mark of Torment was doing a decent enough Mirror of Ereoctes impression to keep the build alive in 1v1. As flawed as it seemed in concept, in practice, it just worked.
So when I returned to it for this new wave of testing for 9.8, I expected no less than 7/10 from it. And for the second time in this wave of testing I came back to a build that has received no nerfs and was, in fact, in some ways buffed, and was met with catastrophic disappointment. I was 6 runs in and I had yet to even see the SR78 boss room. I’m honestly starting to get rather suspicious whether the changes to SR that Zantai outlined in the patch notes are all that has changed. Cause it wasn’t the overhauled SR bosses that were killing the build, it was things the build has faced in the past without much issue.
Conspiracy theories aside, some tinkering was obviously required. And tinker I did. I shuffled devos, augments, components, toyed around with several pieces of gear. And in the end, the employment of tinkerage bore fruit and landed me, once again, on a successful build:
NOTE: I will not be updating this version of the build post-9.8. For an up-to-date Acid Cabalist, see version 2 below.
I’m not gonna go over every little thing that I had to change from the original setup to make the build perform again, but I will highlight one thing that actually surprised me. Maybe it is common knowledge among experienced builders, maybe not. But Manticore is bad, yo. It just eats up way too much of the devotion setup. A 6 point investment is pretty much mandatory cause not investing just that one extra point for 4% phys res is blasphemy, and while the RR on the proc is higher than what you can get on Scales (which are mandatory just to sustain energy regardless), the devotion overall doesn’t really help cover any holes outside of that. There’s barely any OA/DA on it, and while it does at least provide some health to improve survivability, it doesn’t help with any kind of resistance on any front. Not CC, not damage. And the devo points it rewards are fucking useless. Getting Eldritch affinity is super easy because there are so many generally good and efficient green devotions, with stuff like % OA, cast speed, etc, and the 1 point of Ascendant affinity is utterly wasted. That turns Manticore into an investment the Dreeg setup really can’t afford, IMO, because as I listed here the Dreeg set is one of the worst 5pc sets when it comes to resistances. It does at least do something for the CC, but it leaves a lot of resistance room to cover for your gear and devotions, and Manticore really taxes the latter dramatically. So the ideal acid RR devotion is missing from the setup and the build is all the better for it, cause it can then cover a range of CC and damage resistances by venturing out to the newly buffed Ulo and solve a lot of its resist problems with just those few extra points it saves on Manticore.
The gear setup is fairly self-explanatory. Pieces outside of the Dreeg set are chosen to provide points to fully hardcap all parts of the DEE skill line, and while the offhand does provide full Vit to Acid conversion for DEE (and Pox, which I’ll get to), the ring slots are used specifically to ensure full global Vit to Acid conversion as well for health sustain off of Scales and Bat. Plus Vile Eruption would still need to be converted separately, as does our weapon damage (for %WD on Bat, Scales and Blood Burst).
With how little there is to take on Necromancer, the build ends up with a good number of flex points to spend. And with the global conversion of Vit to Acid, there are then two or three options where to spend them. The option I went for, really more for thematic reasons than anything else, is Bloody Pox (it’s similar enough to Plague in my book), even before I started using the Wretched Tome offhand (originally I was using Groble Toxic Effigy along with some more %adcth devos to improve direct sustain through DEE). Because though the Dreeg set is all about Dreeg’s Evil Eye, it actually does surprisingly little for it. It provides the passthrough, the weapon provides %crit damage. That’s it. There’s no %WD, there’s no flat, there’s no additional dramatic skill modifiers. Just passthrough (which, obviously, is damn dramatic in its own way) and crit. Crit, on top of the %crit on the leech medal and the %crit on Terrifying Gaze which the build really struggles to capitalise on. While the Dreeg set generally does a pretty solid job in terms of providing flat or % OA and DA, the build still ends up starved on both. There are some mitigating factors at play, however. Vulnerability docks about -100 DA from the enemy, the addition of Akeron’s Scorpion docks another 150 on top of that, bringing the OA to around 2900 with even just slightly above average rolls. That’s not enough, though, to turn the build into the crit monster it’s meant to be. The situation on the DA side isn’t much better. Frankly I wouldn’t normally dare show my face in SR80 with DA this low. Including Bloody Pox in the build (Wasting, in particular) makes the situation considerably better with the -255 OA shred. It’s still not nearly as comfortable as just having a solid +200 DA natively, cause not only is it difficult to tell whether Pox is currently applied to any enemy or not (can’t wait for patch 1.2 just for that), it also takes some time to spread in a horde, so when you’re getting rushed, chances are a good number of the enemies that are hitting you are working with their on-sheet OA. Plus, if you get hit by any % damage reduction debuffs, the effectiveness of your OA shred drops and suddenly you’re not as safe as you expected.
But there is another option to spend the extra points, one that I have not explored and one that I think would honestly be much better, in terms of power gained per point spent, though not necessarily in terms of theme/flavour. Bloody Pox does need to stay on the tree for Wasting alone to cover the abhorrent DA. But Bloody Pox and Black Death don’t need to be maxed at all. 1 point in each is enough, cause the damage benefits are negligible without proper scaling of Bleeding damage. The rest of the points could then be invested in Sigil of Consumption. While the build isn’t doing anything about the skill’s Fire damage, and it has no modifiers to the skill’s duration, damage or leech, what it does have is full Vitality to Acid conversion, and full Chaos to Acid conversion from the 5pc bonus. the offhand and the amulet (so even a bottom rolled offhand provides full conversion). That would provide the build with a tremendous amount of passive sustain, which could then, possibly, free up the medal slot for something more aggressive, like Mark of Lethal Intents.
The final option, in terms of skill point allocation, is Doom Bolt. Yup. Acid Doom Bolt. Without Conduit. Almost certainly a worse idea than fully investing in Pox, which, in itself, is a bad idea already. But it’s an option, given the conversions to Acid the build already has. It would definitely improve the build’s single target damage some, which isn’t stellar because of how little extra oomph DEE is receiving from the set for single target. Hard to say whether it would be a noticable enough improvement though since there are no modifiers for Doom Bolt on the build to shave off its lengthy cooldown.
All of this skill point investment discussion is purely academical, though. Because, to circle back around to the initial questions I asked at the start of this setup, why do this on Cabalist? I did it because that’s the class I started with and then I just kinda fell face-first into the Dreeg setup and it happened to work. But if you’re starting out with the goal of building around the Deception of Dreeg set, Cabalist would probably not even enter your mind. You’d go for Witch Hunter, or Sentinel, cause while they may not have the defensive options that Necromancer provides, they make much more sense in terms of access to % damage or RR. And with those masteries, you wouldn’t end up with nearly as many free skill points as the Cabalist. With that, you wouldn’t be taking Bloody Pox, possibly not even for Wasting, and you’d hardly have the room for SoC or Doom Bolt when you have RRs to take and passives and auras to level. As a result, since there’s no way anybody would even think of replicating this silly setup, I afforded myself the luxury of staying on theme and putting a fully levelled Plague skill on my Venomancer build. And, just in case you’re curious, the reason I didn’t end up “optimising out of it” when I ran into trouble when testing this build for 9.8, is that I was already using Pox on the setups I used in 9.4 and 9.6 when I scored a 5/5 and 4/5 with the build in SR75-80. So clearly, even if very much suboptimal, that choice wasn’t the source of the problem, cause it wasn’t holding the build back any before.
Now, as you may know from the other Overview where I presented two builds, I do not deal well with having to give up on an idea. Admittedly, in this case I didn’t exactly give up on the original DEE+RE setup. It’s not like I played it at endgame, found out that it doesn’t work and moved on to something else. I never even put it together for endgame cause the very first thing I tried with the Dreeg set immediately worked. And so for 9.8, I committed to going back to the original reason I even made this character a Cabalist and see what that would look like and how it would perform.
Version 2: Acid DEE + RE Cabalist
1.2 UPDATE: Build has gained +3 to Terrifying Gaze, plus some points on DEE itsef as overcap, freeing up 3 extra skill points for the Blood of Dreeg line. The freed-up points are not particularly useful but the Terrifying Gaze points mean more % and flat Acid damage on DEE. In addition, Ravenous Earth now lasts 1 second longer as baseline, yielding more damage per cast to the build’s main skill. There have also been some very minor gains in OA/DA (+30 to each). The offensive side has gotten better, but the defenses are still not great (low DA, only redeemed a little by Rumour) despite some % absorb increase on Possession, so trying to push SR85+ would probably be too risky. Can do 80-81 though.
The process of putting this together was actually much more interesting than I originally thought it would be. Even though all I was really doing is adding an extra skill to an existing setup, it ended up upsetting the entire thing and breaking it apart. As I mentioned, the Dreeg set actually does very little for DEE outside of the passthrough. And so, breaking the set apart to make room for RE support takes away the reason to even use any part of the Dreeg set in the first place. In addition, with RE performing the AoE duties instead of DEE, the role that DEE fulfils changes dramatically. It goes from the primary damage dealer for AoE and single target to more of a sustain source and single target filler, cause its AoE role fades into nonexistence. When DEE is no longer providing AoE and is hitting much fewer targets, it stops doing a good job in providing sustain against hordes. Issue is, RE, our new AoE tool of choice, doesn’t provide sustain at all unless it’s linked to Bat. And so to make up for all the ground DEE has lost on the sustain front, I decided to just supercharge the fuck out of it on leech. That brought in the Rotgheist amulet. While Venomfire would be a sizeable improvement to RE’s damage output by essentially upping the damage per cast by 25 %, my first priority was to find ways to keep the build alive. Cause, again, if I’m going to focus a lot on RE and RE provides no sustain, DEE is going to have to pick up the slack. With the Rotgheist amulet then eventually came the shoulders and the chest to reap the benefits of the set bonuses, and since the set already covers our chosen damage type and one of our core skills, it wasn’t like I was sacrificing much of anything to get those set bonuses online (though the shoulders could be better as a standalone).
Now, for the pieces that actually caused this upheaval in the setup. There are pretty much just three items that directly incentivise combining DEE and RE. Without the existence of two of these, I would have probably not even gone back to this dual skill concept. Firstly, there is Voice of Dreeg, custom made for this combo. And while the item itself supports purely Acid and Chaos damage, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s screaming “play Acid DEE and RE, I promise it’s a thing!”. Cause like I mentioned several times already, Necromancer doesn’t really do much for Acid outside of giving access to RE. Its RRs of choice are physical, vitality and aether. And of these, Occultist covers two with its own RR. So even though % Vitality damage is missing from the headpiece, using Voice of Dreeg and turning the flat it provides to RE into Vitality seems a perfectly reasonable choice. Rotgheist leans DEE towards Vitality, after all, unless you go around converting it. So does the second of the three DEE + RE items: Pandemic. The dagger will let you lean one way or the other, but Necromancer makes it pretty clear which way you should be leaning. Vitality is the way to go. There is only one item that says “no”. The final, and most crucial piece of the puzzle, without which I would have possibly given up on this concept as “unsupported”: Leafmane Horn specifically goes out of its way to say “ignore what Spectral Wrath is trying to tell you, you can do DEE and RE both in Acid”. So I did.
The only pieces that stayed in place from the original setup were the belt (cause that was the best +Occultist belt I had in terms of resistances for these two setups), the gloves, one Shuroth ring and the Relic. Well, actually also the boots cause those were present on the original Dreeg set setup until I had to overhaul it for 9.8. Since so much of the gear has changed and the resistance setup wound up being a lot different between the two versions, I didn’t end up having to venture out to Ulo for this variant. Instead I went for Scythe to help cover the lacking DA (which, in this case, Bloody Pox isn’t fixing for lack of skill points) and improve the health pool somewhat. Outside of the aforementioned three build-definers and the 3-pcs of Rotgheist, the setup keeps the Shuroth ring for the Vit to Acid conversion for Bat, Scales and the weapon, takes the go-to item modifier medal for RE, and uses the remaining slots for skill points. Particularly for Ravenous Earth’s main node, since that’s where all the damage for RE is coming from through extra projectiles and flat damage. To cap that, it’s crucial that the offhand has the Bileridden prefix. Thankfully, the affix affinity for the item makes that fairly likely, I have found a number of Bileridden Horns just testing the build and they can be vendor farmed in Ancient Grove if need be.
The DEE line doesn’t end up getting hardcapped in all its points, though the two important ones get there. However, what the combined setup may end up losing on flat damage for DEE on the nodes, it then makes back up through flat damage through item modifiers on the weapon, head, amulet and offhand. In the end, what ends up pushing things over the edge for the Dreeg setup in terms of DEE DPS is not so much the skill’s damage itself, but the increased %crit (when it happens to crit) and better access to cast speed. Because between the lack of cast speed on gloves and weapon, both setups end up kinda short on cast speed. The Dreeg 5pc bonus lets the former build pull ahead in the end in terms of DEE DPS. As it should, I mean, it’s a full DEE build. Would be embarrassing otherwise.
DEE + RE version
DPS is for DEE with all permanent buffs and BoD on.
And since I’m already talking about performance, might as well get into that proper.
“Wait that’s just one number. You’ve got two builds. Aren’t you forgetting something? Which one is it?” Both of them. Yep, two very different setups, same performance. Now, they’re obviously not identical, but similar enough. Let’s start with Dreeg.
While the notion of Dreeg may be simple, the gameplay ends up being a bit of a piano anyway. Cause while the build may just spam DEE all day long, it needs to keep Ill Omen up for DR and procs, Bloody Pox up for OA shred and procs, CoF for RR and procs, cast the relic skill on cooldown for some extra AoE damage, keep BoD up, and use Mark of Torment. While Mark of Torment may look like an Oh Shit Button like Mirror or Blade Barrier its uptime actually makes that usage a little wasteful. Cause where Mirror will, baseline, be 3 seconds up and 20 seconds down, Mark is 5 seconds up and 15 seconds down. Using it just when you’re afraid you’re about to eat it is kind of a waste of that uptime. You can use it much more liberally. Which means you have another thing to keep in mind constantly. And unlike Mirror, you also need to find a suitable target to latch it onto. So, in a way, you can be grateful that your damage comes primarily from just holding right click cause there’s plenty to press in between. The playstyle would be even more busy if Seal of Consumption were included, which would be the optimal setup (well, optimal if we disregard the fact that Cabalist itself ain’t the optimal class for that setup).
In terms of how it performs with that gameplay pattern…well, we’re playing Acid, in a single RR setup. Go figure. Acid may not have the worst Nemeses in the game. Not by a long shot. It’s not Fire, with Grava, Fabius and Iron Maiden breathing down its neck. Or Cold with Kuba and Moose making you wish you dealt literally any other damage type. But it has one issue. There are no freebies. On almost every build I’ve ever played, and I’ve played a lot, there are two constants, two Nemeses that I’m just overjoyed to see in SR cause they’re a free pass, a slab of extra timer, a heap of chunk progress, mine for the taking. Benn’Jahr and Zantarin. And they’re both Acid resistant. For Benn’Jahr, it’s not so bad. The fight that would be over quickly just takes up some extra time, denies you some extra manoeuvering space, no biggie. If you end up eating a big smack from him, as long as it doesn’t OHKO you, you leech fast enough to recover before the next hit comes, you’ve got Mark of Torment to tide you over, you’ve got Dreeg set’s pseudo-Blast Shield proc to improve your survivability for the next few seconds through 25 % extra absorb, and you’ve got Turtle’s shield up. But you’ll be there for a while, and you can’t even really fix that by slapping on a Sanctified Bone, cause both the chest and head components are absolutely vital for the build’s resists (not to mention the DA on the chest). Then there’s Zantarin. The guy you’d usually just farm for timer on almost any build, cause he doesn’t take long to kill, isn’t dangerous as long as you have some AoE, and summons a bunch of fodder to give you Carnage timer bonuses. But fuck fighting Zantarin on an Acid build. He goes from a pathetic, harmless timer pinata to an absolute nightmare. Periodically, he will put up a shield. The shield absorbs damage from a variety of damage types, and fires back damaging projectiles if hit by a projectile attack. DEE is a projectile attack. So is Twin Fangs. And Dreeg’s Afflicted Spines. So every 0.4 seconds, you’ll be taking damage from Zantarin unless you constantly stutter step until you break the shield. Oh I’m sorry, did I say break the shield? I mean, until the shield times out. Cause Acid isn’t one of the damage types the shield absorbs. So if you deal nothing but Acid damage, you can’t break the shield by damaging it enough, and it will stay up for its full duration, and keep firing projectiles back at you. While you often can’t leech until Zantarin summons a new batch of skellies for you to kill (and take damage from). Joy!
Because of this, at least in my personal opinion, the build, both builds in fact, feel a lot worse to play than they actually are. Because the enemies that you’re used to just blowing through are now either a massive issue or take a while to kill. Pretty much every boss fight in SR feels like you really had to earn it. Even enemies that aren’t particularly Acid resistant, like, say Grava or Fabius, just take a little more time to kill than you’d like, cause the RR for the Dreeg setup caps at a mere 81 and, as mentioned, the Dreeg set doesn’t do much for DEE’s damage outside of helping cap the skill nodes. You have to get the damage up on other slots and there just isn’t that much, not if you’re also trying to sustain off of DEE (i.e. you’re using the Basilisk medal instead of Mark of Lethal Intents).
Where the build shines is chunks. No, not like, Acid DEE chunks, or the chunks that are left of your corpse after you get gibbed, I mean SR Chunks. Cause that’s the thing the Dreeg set brings to the table. AoE for DEE. And it does that well. As long as the hordes keep coming, they’ll keep dying, and fast too. In that, the build is very similar to the initial Wizard archetype build I mentioned at the start, except, maybe its AoE isn’t quite as good as PRM’s, but, in return, its single target isn’t nearly as bad.
Moving on to the DEE + RE setup and it’s…more of the same. Less piano, admittedly, because there’s one less skill to use but the pattern is the same. Ravenous Earth excels at clearing out dense hordes, cause not only do its projectiles get to hit through more enemies, yielding more damage per cast, but Foul Eruption makes it so any fodder killed serves as its own source of damage and amplifies the build’s RR to make killing whatever tougher enemies are left much easier. So where the Dreeg setup would reap more damage through the ability to send DEEs through more enemies, hitting the same enemy multiple times through Blood Burst’s splash and Vile Eruption fragments, Ravenous Earth ends up doing much the same through Foul Eruption’s splash and damage amplification. Now, the part where you’d think the DEE + RE setup would pull ahead is single target. And, in a way, it does. While the DEE damage is lower, because of dramatically lower cast speed, RE should bring in the damage that DEE lacks. After all, if the gear incentivises the player to use a single RR setup like this, by going Acid instead of Vitality, the extra flat damage the build will gain through this approach should make up for the missing RR to break even with a dual RR setup. And yet, it’s not quite what you’d expect. Through the build’s range of skill modifiers, RE’s flat damage is more than doubled. You’d expect enemies standing on top of an RE vent to melt. And yet, they don’t. Maybe it’s that RE’s base damage just isn’t that great, so more than doubling it is just making up for inherent shortcomings. Not sure, this is the only RE build I’ve made so far. But what I can tell you is that standing on top of an RE vent does not automatically equal taking 7-9 times the listed damage due to all the fragments hitting. On a dummy test, generally the number of projectiles hitting the main target was between 4 to 5. I imagine against larger targets like Kuba it may be 6-7, maybe even all 7-9. But it really doesn’t feel that the boss’ HP is getting noticably chunked with every RE volley when fighting someone like Kuba or Grava in SR. I’m not gonna say that RE is doing nothing on single target. Absolutely not. It is pulling its weight, it is making up for lacking DPS on DEE, and it is providing what the build needs on AoE and single target. It’s just not as fast on single target as I was hoping when I set out on this venture. One way that the DEE + RE setup is catching up on damage, though, is through the inclusion of a Sanctified Bone on the chest, cause its resistances allow it to do so. This improves damage against both Benn’Jahr and Zantarin, even if it is only by 8 %. It’s honestly not much. When playing the Dreeg setup I specifically made mental note whenever I brought these enemies to sub 10 % health, just to imagine that with a racial bonus, they’d be dead at that point. It’s not that big of a difference, the kill time improves by under 10 seconds. But it’s something the Dreeg setup doesn’t have. The one nemesis that this sadly doesn’t affect is Aleks. So learn to enjoy that fight cause you’ll be in it for a while with either setup.
Overall when it comes to damage it’s difficult to compare the two builds, cause they each have their own way of capitalising on dense hordes of enemies, and they each achieve their max single target DPS a little differently. Doing SR timer comparison is moot cause mutators mess with the numbers dramatically, and dummy DPS testing is a no-go cause neither of the builds can sustain its Energy without Scales, especially not Dreeg, who has both higher cast speed and less Energy regen. I would say they feel very similar on damage, with Dreeg maybe being a bit faster in hordes and DEE + RE being better on single target. But it’s complete guesswork, cause I really couldn’t feel a distinct difference between the two, and Dreeg’s various procs (% damage proc on crit from the set and the summons from the amulet which bring in something extra especially against single target) make it even harder to decide on that front. Technically Dreeg should be pulling ahead through its crit damage on DEE but its OA makes that hard to rely on.
Comparing the defenses between the two builds, we’re once again in a fairly similar territory. The Dreeg setup has a lot more phys res but a lot less health. The DA on both builds is effin miserable. Dreeg salvages it through Wasting, as long as Bloody Pox is applied, which is hard to track, while DEE + RE has to settle for the less powerful -OA from Rumour. But again, it has more health to work with, as well as better resistances in Vitality and Aether, which tend to be heavily targeted. On the other hand, Dreeg has an extra defensive fallback in the headpiece proc and an unreliable dispell from Ulo that sometimes saves it from some damage (more by dispelling enemy buffs than removing debuffs on itself).
One aspect where there is most definitely a difference is sustain. Dreeg sustains well in hordes as even though the % leech it gets on DEE isn’t much, it gets so much of its damage out of DEE in hordes and it has enough extra DEE DPS that it sustains plenty, at least until the enemy has a concave on you. While DEE + RE may not have as much damage on DEE as the Dreeg set does, what it does have is the leech side really on lock. 20 % direct leech, with % weapon damage to boot. Its Bat may not be fully converted (due to dropping one Shuroth ring for RE points) but on single target DEE is doing its sustain job quite well. In hordes Dreeg’s sustain pulls ahead, but then again, just by feel, Dreeg also ends up spending less time in hordes and more time in single target fights, so its 1v1 leech being worse is more harmful to it. That is not to say, however, that Dreeg is a glass cannon. I mean, it can successfully complete SR75-80 deathless with mutators like these.
Yes that is Cruel and Brutal, and -10% TDM and nerfed cast speed and total speed. Didn’t seem to mind. I will reiterate that if you see the sustain on Dreeg as a problem (cause there most definitely just is less leech on the Dreeg setup), there’s always the option to just drop most of the points in Bloody Pox and plop them in Sigil of Consumption and voila, sustain issue solved. Mostly on AoE but on single target too. This fix wouldn’t affect the score any, though. The runs the build failed had honestly nothing to do with sustain and more to do with “oh, that hit just removed my full healthbar! Ok”.
I’m not quite sure how to conclude this one. One of the builds I’ve presented really shouldn’t be a thing, cause why would you go to Cabalist to make a Dreeg build. And yet it’s performed very similarly to a fully supported and incentivised Acid Cabalist build. Not sure what to think of that. Is the Dreeg set so OP that it’s making even a weird class combo strong? Probably not. If the build were made on a Witch Hunter or a Sentinel, it would have much better damage, but it also wouldn’t have access to any of the myriad defensive tools that Necro provides, such as damage reduction, so that seems fair. Or is it, perhaps, that the DEE + RE Acid setup the gear advertises is bad so that even a single class Dreeg setup can rival it? Nah, it doesn’t feel weak at all. I mean it scored 8/10 in SR75-80 runs, that’s not what weak builds do. Sure, it’s no speed demon, but maybe I just feel worse about it than it really is, cause I’m used to deleting Zantarin and Benn with so many builds that when I get to an Acid build and the killtime slows down it almost feels wrong. And yeah, RE may not explode single enemies as quickly as I anticipated, but then again, it’s my first RE build, maybe that’s standard fare for RE.
Rather than leave you with a definitive verdict on the builds, cause I really don’t have one, why don’t I just leave you with my traditional SR75-76 and SR80 sections of one of the runs and you be the judge.