[ –] Build Overview - Acid GoE Sentinel (SR75-80+)


(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:

  1. no consumables other than healing and energy elixirs can be used;
  2. 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;
  3. 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:

  1. 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 :smiley: 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.

  2. 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.

Build Concept

After the creation of my last build, the Mortar Trap Elementalist, which was completely unscheduled, I had a problem. Or, well, my “gamer OCD” had a problem. I had an odd number of characters. Unacceptable. I have to have an even number, so that the male to female ratio is exactly equal. So I had literally no other choice but to come up with another build. Woe is me!

Drawing inspiration from the aforementioned Elementalist, I wanted to try making another pseudo pet build. Across the many Oathkeeper characters I’ve made (one for each mastery) Guardians of Empyrion (GoE) have been a staple, I think I only skipped them on one build. But not once have I actually used them for the skill itself, it was always just for the RR aura. Given how many characters I’ve made, that just seemed like a gross oversight, one that I had to correct. This was thus the sole purpose of this build. To give Guardians their moment in the spotlight and build entirely around them.


Since I was no longer limiting myself on what classes I have to build for, I could have explored a number of avenues. Physical, Fire, Vitality, Acid were all native to the skill and conversions were also possible. I decided to go with Acid, as the Fire/Physical side of the skill seemed exceedingly difficult to consolidate into a single damage type, and Vitality lacks good high damage devotions to bind onto the Guardians (or I guess Scions, due to the transmuter). And by going with Acid, it only seemed natural to take Occultist as the second mastery, for the % Acid damage, the RR, and the various defensive benefits such as Wasting, Possession or Aspect of the Guardian. As I’ll touch on later, this proved to be a godsend.

In terms of how to support the core skill, there was a nice selection of items to choose from. The key pieces that were guaranteed to be involved were Magi Visage for essentially a 33 % TDM through the extra summon, and Ascendant Authority for what is more or less another 30 % TDM (not quite that because of the DoT aspect of GoE). Then I had some choices to make. I could slot in Flames of Wrath on the amulet for the convertable flat damage, but I’d miss out on % damage so I’d have to make sure it’s worth it damage-wise. There was a similar issue with Word of Solael. An extra summon on top of the 4 I’d have would be a 25 % TDM, but I’d again miss out on % damage. In reality the better option would actually be taking another Ascendant Authority for another 30 % total speed, as with 4 Guardians already up, a 30 % total speed increase essentially nets me a DPS boost of 1.2 whole GoEs. Again, this is not quite accurate because total speed doesn’t improve the DoT while another summon does; also, once I have one 30 % total speed increase, the second one has diminishing returns. But on the Authority I could also roll the correct % damage type, while Word of Solael was guaranteed to miss out in that. I could then consolidate all the damage into Acid through various items, such as Pack of Deadly Means or pieces of the Deception of Dreeg set. Though that might look like a case of double conversion, apparently the Scion of Dreeg transmuter doesn’t actually convert the skill’s damage, it just turns the skill into an Acid/Vitality skill which can then be converted as normal. So the damage can be consolidated like this. With the aforementioned Pack of Deadly Means, I’d also have an extremely natural way to dual-wield those Ascendant Authorities I was after.

After much tinkering and trial and error, I settled on the following setup:

1.2 UPDATE: The build is tankier as Possession has had its absorb increased (yields the build 4 % absorb). The offhand in the link above has an empty prefix as the Shaman’s I rolled on it no longer drops. Obviously that’s not a prefix I was looking for, just what I got, so pretty much anything will do there. The build has, however, been nerfed indirectly by the global leech nerf. The sustain was just borderline in 1v1 before, now it can be somewhat shaky. The build can do SR80-81 but I’m not it would be able to handle 85+. The damage is good, but the survivability is likely to let the build down despite the extra absorb from Possession.

The explanation as to why I made the choices that I made spills a bit over into Performance, but I think I’d best explain it here, else the crucial aspects that factored into the setup will be spread all over the place.

To my surprise, it doesn’t take all that much to get GoE to do some real nice damage, so that part of the build seemed good to go. The issue is, the bois might be all nice and deadly, but there’s this little idiot they’re dragging along with them, and unfortunately, that idiot has to be kept alive or the bois will die of sadness or something. Given that the build was spending a good amount of space building up a skill that doesn’t contribute anything to sustain, I needed some good solution for survivability. Now, on paper, the build’s survivability should be solid. It has great DA (it used to be even greater, about +100) with some extra help on top of that from Rumour/Wasting, decent enough health, lots of Phys res, nice resist overcaps, % DR and % absorb, with some extra circuit breakers on top (Resilience, Turtle, and I even used to run Prismatic Diamond and Ghoul in various versions I’ve tried). And it has a smidge of Fumble from the boots proc as a cherry on top. From the look of it this should be a survivable build. But it wasn’t. It seemed to take extraordinary amounts of damage despite all these solid defenses, and I couldn’t figure out why. The best I’ve been able to identify with help from folks like @tqFan and @Gnomish_Inquisition in this thread was that the incoming damage may not have been the real problem, it was that the health wasn’t coming back fast enough. After some tinkering based on that thread I added in Bat linked to Acid Purge and the build seemed to perform better. The surprisingly high incoming damage remained but the build coped with it more reliably, so much so it went from a sweaty 3/5 build to a reliable 5/5 (you can also see some of the versions of the build I’ve tried in the above thread, but I’ll be referring to some those past setups below anyway).

When I returned to the build, set up as it was at the end of the above thread, to do the testing for this Overview, I just couldn’t get it to perform that way again. I even reshuffled the devos and added Turtle in and still every run was a coinflip; it was going to be a 6/10 build and a hard-won one at that. The build itself didn’t get nerfed in any way, not to my knowledge, so the only explanation I can come up with as to why I performed better with it before is that, when I tested it last, it was right after I levelled it, and then used it to climb up the SR levels from 65. So I was very familiar with it, while now I was testing it after about a year of not touching it at all. Unless I wanted to spend days getting acclimated to the build again to maaaybe get it to work again, I needed to make some improvements.

Since the defensive side hadn’t changed for the worse, on paper the defenses were still solid and didn’t seem to be in need of improving. The way I needed to address the reliability problems was improving the sustain. Issue was, how? I tried Ghoul + Prismatic Diamond + Turtle + high level Resilience before and the mitigation still wasn’t enough to make the sustain sufficient. I already had Bat, I ran around 20 % global leech plus had 6 % on Acid Purge, so how much more sustain could I possibly get? I already dropped the second Ascendant Authority a year ago just so I can get a weapon that actually deals the right damage type so my Acid Purge leeches better. That brought in Pandemic. Even though I was fairly sure Pandemic is worse for GoE damage than Authority (though it does have high % Acid damage, extra RR and some DoT for GoEs, so maybe not) I just really needed a weapon that can deal Acid weapon damage. The decision was still rather painful as Pandemic has no cast speed, while I rolled CS on my Authority. That was particularly relevant because the build was casting a lot of spells. In between Acid Purge channels it needed to cast Curse of Frailty, Bloody Pox, Plague of Rot from Pestilence of Dreeg that I was using at the time, and with Pandemic I’d also be slotting in transmuted DEE to take advantage of the DoT mod from the weapon (a suggestion I took from @tqFan). So losing out on cast speed was painful, given that Acid Purge channeling was the thing keeping me alive. I also found out over the course of the tinkering that if I tried to slot in Ghoul and keep all the major devos intact, I’d have to drop Scythe, which made the build unsustainable in terms of Energy, even with Viper and Arcane Spark. In order to fix that I’d have to cut back on some of the sustain and circuit breakage from Ghoul that I’ve been trying (and failing with) to keep the build operational. I kept tinkering, shuffling devos, redoing components and nothing was working. I mean, the build was working, it just wasn’t doing SR75-80s within timer reliably, it was still a coin flip. I couldn’t find a way to do any better for sustain on the devo tree, and the gear seemed mostly locked in place. I looked around the skill tree one last time to see if there is nothing more I can do, or if I just have to accept this will be an unreliable 6/10 or 7/10 build. That’s where the decision to combine Oathkeeper with Occultist paid dividends. I saw one way out.

Because the build already wants to convert Vitality to Acid to consolidate the GoE damage, it could actually slot in Sigil of Consumption and already have a lot of the damage converted. A lot, but far from all. When I initially tested this build about a year back, I concluded that trying to get the full Vitality to Acid conversion through the Dreeg set just wasn’t a good idea, as Dreeg has some outright awful resistances and lacked the skill point bonuses I needed to cap both GoE nodes. So instead I used Chosen Raiment and a Shuroth ring to complete the conversion I was getting from the belt. That opened up the shoulder slot for Korvan Pauldrons for the valuable skill bonus, which also had some Elemental to Acid conversion. So the Vitality on SoC was Acid, a bit of the Fire on SoC was Acid thanks to the shoulders, and I was using the Acid RR version of the Pestilence of Dreeg amulet which converts some Chaos to Acid as well. Still, I had exactly zero modifiers for SoC, so at most I’d be getting two Sigils up, with no extra damage, no extra duration, no extra leech and only partial damage conversion. That wouldn’t bring in enough healing to make up the sustain gap I was looking to fill. And so I checked if I could get something more for SoC with the slots I had available. Well, the slot that I had available, singular, as I couldn’t drop the medal if I wanted to keep GoE hardcapped. And as luck would have it, I could. The Radaggan amulet gets me full Chaos to Acid conversion, where Pestilence was getting me partial, and though I’d lose out on the RR from Pestilence, I’d get extra flat damage and points for Sigil. I was still going to be capped at two Sigils, the support was still barebones, but the goal of Sigil was not to be a major damage source. I had my damage source covered. I just needed the slightest smidge of extra sustain. I was already almost there with Bat and Acid Purge, and with SoC, maybe I could stay alive well enough that the bois can finally do their work in peace.



And it worked! In hordes, where the character was most prone to being overwhelmed, the Sigils get to do the most damage and bring in the most sustain, and they, combined with Bat and Acid Purge, keep the build alive. The reliability of sustain from Sigils is nowhere near comparable to a proper SoC build of course, with massive SoC duration, extra leech and heaps of flat damage, but it’s enough when put together to keep the build afloat. Even though it does still occasionally die, and lost a run to a really nutty hero group (which I then tried to fight a few times after I was out of timer and died 3 more times), it’s fast enough to recover and safe enough that it’s unlikely to die twice within the same shard. In fact it generally doesn’t die more than once per two SR75-80 runs now.

With the survivability aspect solved, and with the matter of Energy sustain settled due to the ability to include Scythe once again, the bois get to come out and play, and do they ever. Between the SoCs, GoEs and Acid Purge there’s a lot happening on the screen and it might be difficult to identify exactly what’s responsible for what but let me assure you, it’s not Acid Purge really, and definitely not SoCs that’s getting the kills. It’s the GoEs, the bois, cleaving their way through hordes with their pseudo-Blade Arc, making whole armies keel over and throw up as those Tainted Eruptions stack up. That said, while the bois’ damage is nice, it actually used to be even better before I had to address the sustain problem. When I still ran Pestilence of Dreeg, had the extra RR from the amulet for a nice slice of extra damage, and I could cap both GoE nodes without the need for Lifegiver Signet. That meant I could run two Shuroth rings, giving me nice % damage, some more flat for Acid Purge and also casting speed to keep the cast rotation nice and snappy and increase that Purge DPS even further. Dropping Pestilence and thus losing the RR and the +1 to Oathkeeper meant I had to put the Signet from some of the older setups back in in order to cap GoE, which cost me a good bit of damage on GoEs as a result. On the various devo setups I’ve tried I could also afford to get that last precious node on the Yugol devotion, and I even had setups that ran Rat or Wretch for even more Acid damage. Unfortunately, those setups couldn’t slot in Scythe and were therefore pretty much unplayable in extended engagements, as the build ran out of energy for Acid Purge channeling even when gulping Energy pots on cooldown. So as good as the GoE damage is now, it used to be a lot better still, both due to higher % Acid and due to more RR from amulet. Then again, it doesn’t fucking matter how good the damage is if you’re not alive to deal it.

Because this is primarily a pseudo-pet build, there’s a good bit of freedom in how you handle engagements. It might be tempting to just sit and channel that Purge to keep the health coming in and to keep enemies in Sigils, but it’s just as valid to just run around dodging attacks while the bois swing away. Unfortunately, their leash range is rather short, so it’s not quite like you’re playing a real pet build where the damage is happening half a screen away from you. You do kinda have to get close to the action in most situations, and in chunks a lot of enemies like Aetherial Colossi, Wendigos and Yetis will be on your tail constantly anyway cause they move at Mach 3. Not much dodging you get to do there. Especially since this build is already heavily below movement speed cap before any slows get involved. Let me tell you, if you roll a negative total speed and a negative movement speed mutator on this build, you’ll feel like you’re back at lvl1 crawling at snail’s pace. Where the freedom of engagement does come into play though, is boss fights. If you’re gripped by a distinct lack of confidence in the build’s survivability at the sight of some bosses, as long as they don’t have gap closers you can just as easily dance just out of their reach and let the bois handle business. Works on guys like Gargabol, Theodin, even Rashalga as you’ll see below. The one boss that’s unfortunately a bit worrying for this build is Reaper, as he’s fast as hell, slows you, and can output sudden, unexpected bursts of damage you might struggle to comfortably recover from. This is definitely far from the worst build to fight Reaper on, but it’s not super comfy either because of Reaper’s unpredictability. Even though I think he only ever killed me once in one of the earlier, unsustainable versions of the build, it does get a bit tense every time I fight him even now. Beyond him though, there’s really not much to worry about. The usual suspects like IM, Grava or Fabius are all fine, I’ve dealt with Korvaak, Gargabol, Theodin, Kymon, Rashalga, Morgoneth, I even had to fight Moosilauke and Theodin at the same time at one point. All the typical anti-Acid enemies like Benn, Aleks or Slathsarr are nothing but speed bumps. Not one of them is a real threat and even if they were, most of them are kitable.

At this point pretty much the only really negative thing I can say about the build, other than that it took quite a lot of testing and reshuffling to get it to work properly, is that putting it together gear-wise ain’t easy. The build has solid damage, even though it used to be even better, and now it has its survivability together as well. It’s also very fun to finally see the bois be more than just an RR stick and actually be a menace. But the build’s not an absolute monster of a performer. And yet it requires no less than 5 MIs, one of which is a Nemesis MI that can roll absolutely anything, and another one of which you’ll be trying to roll completely off-type (that being the Ascendant Authority). That is a particularly pronounced pain in the ass as the Authority cannot be vendor farmed in Steelcap District. You have to get it the hard way from Terrnox or Valaxteria, and they have a lower drop rate than their other MIs. For how much it “costs” to put the build together, the payoff is a build that is solid (now, finally) and that deals good damage with an unusual skill, but the cost/benefit ratio definitely isn’t the best. If you don’t care about how much farming you have to do and just want a fun build, there’s nothing to protest here. But having to farm your ass off just to get a decent build isn’t an enticing proposition for most.

Here’s the usual SR75-76 and SR80 parts of one of my runs. The Sentinel and the bois, engaging in tomfoolery! I had a much better run recorded, one which was faster by over a minute on both ends. Unfortunately, OBS seemed to have bugged out and recorded only audio over a black screen for whatever reason. I only realised that many hours after I recorded and uploaded it to YouTube, after I’ve done a bunch of other runs I didn’t record. So I had to delete that footage and hope I get a good run in with the last two runs I had left. Of the two, this was the better one, but it was still a lot slower than what I recorded originally, mainly because I had some longer bosses to fight. Because I needed the runs to be “good enough to post” (I prefer not uploading runs where I died on camera, it makes the builds look worse than they are) I played like a bit of a coward towards the end. That Reaper fight at SR80 didn’t need to be anywhere as tense and panicky as I made it, but oh well, that’s the best footage I have now. Thanks OBS.