(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.
At the time when I was coming up with this build, I had my bases pretty covered when it comes to trying out different playstyles in GD. I’ve done all sorts of melee from 2h to dw to sword’n’board; I’ve made casters of all varieties, from spam casters to channelers to CD kiters; I’ve done summoners. I’ve made a DoT build. I got 2h ranged and gunslingers, or, gunslinging hybrids, at least. One uniquely GD thing that I haven’t done though, was gun and shield. And no wonder. Because if you’re running around with a ranged weapon, why use a shield? You can have a bigass rifle or crossbow and just kill everyting before it gets close to you, or you can pack two pistols and do much the same. What does a shield bring to ranged combat?
I was aware that there were shields that specifically incentivised use with a gun but I just wasn’t really sold. I needed a reason to have a shield in there beside some passive autoattack bonuses. And FG’s Oathkeeper brought that reason I was looking for: Aegis of Menhir (for clarity, AoM in this overview will always mean the skill, not Ashes of Malmouth). From the perspective of ranged combat, the offhand slot would no longer be wasted by carrying a shield, since it would be a major part of the character’s skill setup, and from the perspective of the shield-using side, complementing the shield with a gun made sense since AoM is ranged. Why then close in to melee for autoattacks, when I can autoattack from range alongside the AoM throws? It was a perfect conclusion to my exploration of the Oathkeeper mastery after the release of FG.
As a side note, this was not only the last build I came up with immediately after the release of FG to celebrate the new mastery, it was also the very last build I ever created “naturally” by just looking at synergies between masteries, putting those together and then figuring out the gear as I play. From this point on, my Overviews will revolve a lot more around specific, often underused pieces of gear, crazy conversions and memes. Expect a lot more experimental, sometimes downright stupid stuff from this point on. The baby days are over.
1.2 UPDATE: No real changes, Aegis just bounces a little farther. Does 80-81 comfortably, haven’t tried higher.
As luck would have it my intended playstyle was extremely well supported. My intention was to stick to the original damage types of the skill, as was usual at this point in my GD career. And when it comes to Fire, there just is no substitute for the Virtue’s Light set. As it is a 5pc set, that solves a major portion of the build’s gear. The weapon slot is left open, however, and that’s where everything just clicked into place almost perfectly. There’s only really two weapons worth considering for fire AoM: Blazeheart and Ugdenbog Repeater. Given how much the build intends to spam AoM, flat damage gained through the repeater is much more valuable than some DoT from Blazeheart, and as it so happens, the Repeater also provides better CDR for AoM to make that choice even easier. The reason I say everything clicked into place almost perfectly is that the Repeater leans really heavily towards Physical damage. Despite my best efforts, I simply wasn’t able to get a good fire roll out of it while also getting an attack speed affix so I had to settle for some lower damage (though I did at least get % all damage on my prefix). It’s worth noting that though I do have the Tyrant’s affix, that is by no means mandatory. Not only does mine have the minimum roll so that Aura of Censure applies the same amount of DR, this build also probably doesn’t even need the DR. But more on that in the Performance section. Without the fire affix, not only is the % damage lower, but I’m also not getting the associated % phys to fire conversion, which means the autoattacks are not nearly as potent as they could have been. There’s some phys to fire convo on the shield and amulet, and some extra from Enchanted Flint, but it’s nowhere near enough. No matter, AoM is meant to be the main star of the show anyway.
And is it ever. With the full set and pistol, it doesn’t take much at all to hardcap the important nodes of the skill. The boots aren’t even necessary to do so, you could easily take something with relevant % damage like Wyrmscales and AoM can still be hardcapped. I actually took Stonetreaders for the resists more than anything else. To finish capping AoM, all it takes is an Oathkeeper belt and the Basilisk Fang medal which we would have wanted anyway for the mods. With AoM complete, all that was left was to do something extra for the autoattacks. That brought in the gloves and Gargabol ring to get RF to the 9 stack threshold, plus pants for some Bursting Round points. And voila, inventory full. AoM juiced as much as it possibly can be, now it’s just a matter of sustaining in between, cause the autoattacks aren’t all that special.
This build is kinda ridiculous, not gonna lie. Actually, no, that is incorrect. This build was kinda ridiculous. Then 9.8 happened and
Why? Just why? Was this necessary?! But, thanks I guess. The build is now very ridiculous. The rich just got richer.
To start with, good luck killing this thing. Across the 10 runs I’ve done (no mulligans this time cause this build plays itself) I can pinpoint exactly two moments that woke me up from the haze of blazing through everything without effort. One was the first pack I encountered at SR80 in the video below. That’s the closest anybody ever got to killing me across these 10 runs barring one exception. Honestly, at times I was wondering why I even have Turtle and Ghoul on this build cause the procs barely get to do anything. Taking this build below half health takes a truly gargantuan amount of effort and enemies at SR75-80 simply don’t seem to be up to the task, the wimps. The second moment, and the one exception to the above, is that at one point I got into a fight with a pretty dense pack of heroes. Was owning them pretty easily. Then I ate a Flashbang from Delnar Black Eye who was hiding in the middle of them and got disrupted for 6 seconds while surrounded. Not even Grava has the balls to be that much of an asshole. Literally the only time I died with this character across the 7 hours of runs was when the enemies completely turned off my skill bar for 6 seconds straight. Otherwise they never had a chance.
In terms of damage, while it’s not the fastest, it’s more than good enough to do the job. This build was doing great already back in 9.6-.9.7. And now it got all the aforementioned buffs on top for some reason. It’s kinda unfair the things it can do. First off, unless you’re fighting a boss or a highly CC resistant enemy like Unstoppable, there isn’t much the opposition can do to you because they don’t even get to do anything. They’re either dead or they’re permastunned and then dead. 4 seconds of stun on a skill that has some 1.2 s of cooldown (not counting Reprisal resets) will kinda do that. And bosses, well, they may not be getting stunned but who gives a damn. Over the 10 runs the build has faced literally everything you can think of that could be trouble. Shar’Zul, Korvaak, Grava, IM, Fabius, Gargabol at SR80, Rashalga, Morgoneth, Theodin. It barely noticed. Whatever enemy among these you might feel you can’t face tank, first off, you can, and second off, you don’t have to. Everything this build does can be done at range. If you just don’t want the hassle of tanking Gargabol or Theodin slaps, you just don’t have to. So the build’s both super tanky and also fully capable of kiting. And amidst all that, it also kills enemies faster than you’d think at first. At times I was honestly shocked at all the damage it was putting out. I’d start a fight with a pack, throw an AoM and watch it hit a Cthonian Harbinger and its health would barely even move. And I’d think to myself “oh, this will take a while, this is really bad”. And then, as the fight continues and I pull additional enemies, I’ll suddenly see a Celestial Shattered Soul drop. Apparently I killed a Benn’Jahr in there. Could have sworn he was beyond the edge of the fight just 10 seconds ago… Because of the bouncy nature of Aegis the build ends up doing a lot more area damage than it seems, while also spreading all that beautiful stun around to keep enemies under control, and then it just works through those health pools with ease, though perhaps not quite with blistering speed.
I could keep singing the praises of this build for a few more paragraphs but I think you get the point. There is no opposition. Nothing SR can throw at this build outside of preventing it from playing will faze it. It might be sporting a halfassed AA aspect to fill in the fullassed AoM and it just doesn’t matter. AoM is that strong, the build is that tanky. It kills bosses without effort and now faster than it did before and it gobbles up timer bonuses in SR Chunks like they’re candy. After 2 time waster chunks at SR80 this build can easily enter the boss room with over 8 minutes on the clock. And it barely needs quarter of that.