(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.
From very early on, actually from my second ever character, I’ve had my eye on Upheaval. It was a very interesting skill that I knew I wanted to do something with. Though I’ve done a lot of things in the game by the time I was coming up with this concept I never really specifically went out of my way to make a crit-based character. Though I’d wind up with skills that just pack a good bunch of crit damage, I would, at most, take that into account by making sure my OA is ok. I had never just tried to stack OA and crit damage as the essential core of a build.
Now, aside from being crit-reliant Upheaval specifically brings with it another mild problem in that it’s all or nothing. If you’re going for Upheaval then you’re all in on it, cause the skill directly clashes with WPS or skills like Primal Strike that would cover your AoE. So you’re plinking away with your normal attacks, hoping you crit to get some splash going, else you’re hitting enemies one at a time. That gave me an idea: Upheaval is far from the only thing in the game that’s all or nothing on crits. Hell, it’s not even the only thing that’s all in on crits in Lightning damage. The Tempest and Ultos devotions provide a good bit of AoE, and are entirely dependent on critting. Would it be possible to make a functional build that has absolutely no AoE unless it crits? A build that just stacks OA and crit to assassinate priority targets and crush bosses, but relies entirely on procs for clear? Only one way to find out. All aboard the meme train!
Since Upheaval and both of the aforementioned devotions work with Lightning damage, it was clear I was going to need a secondary mastery that goes well together with crit and Lightning. Now, the choice wasn’t all that difficult, given that I was trying to complete my collection of mastery combinations and by this point the only Shaman classes I had yet to explore were Elementalist, Archon, Vindicator and Trickster. Trickster doesn’t gel with Lightning and Oathkeeper’s Celestial Presence only reduced Fire res at the time, so those were out. Vindicator would have been an option, thanks to Deadly Aim, but the only way to get Lightning RR there was to take Aura of Censure in place of Stormcaller’s Pact. And that wasn’t happening, given that Stormcaller not only supports Lightning but has a huge amount of crit damage on it. So Elementalist it was, both for the RR and the fact that it helps so much on OA with so little investment (Flashbang, Flame Touched). And the access to DR on BWC certainly didn’t hurt.
1.2 UPDATE: Upheaval and Feral Hunger have gained 15 % more weapon damage. Wendigo Totem heals 1 % more and the build gained some 700 health regen. Every little bit helps, but these are not particularly impactful changes overall. What was impactful was the addition of the Evade button. Between the mobility rune (now probably better to use a “disengage” one) and the Evade button, the build can now be an absolute pain in the ass for enemies to catch. Dances just out of reach and keeps sniping for unethical crit numbers. It feels a bit safer overall because of that. Did an SR80-81 with one death, completed within timer. Even fought two Fabiuses (not at the same time, of course) in the SR81 boss room. Could be the enemy phys damage nerfs, could be just luck, but they felt fine. Probably wouldn’t push the build any higher though. The defenses aren’t good enough for that, I think, even if the damage is.
There’s a lot to explain and discuss here, so much so that I have dificulties figuring out where to begin. I guess let’s start with the main question mark: why am I going ranged instead of melee. Well, like I said the goal was to make a build that relies entirely on crits to cover its AoE. Going into melee with no reliable AoE seemed like a great way to instantly die. If I went ranged, I would be better able to choose my engagements and capitalise on the crit to snipe priority targets before they close in to cause problems. I also wouldn’t be forced to facetank everything, which seemed important given the shortage of defenses on Elementalist. The immediate second question you might be asking is: why in the everloving fuck am I using Raka’Jax on a build without Primal Strike? Out of necessity, is why. When I started planning the character my choice of weapon was clear from the get go. I wanted Evoker of Elgoloth as it had extra flat lightning damage, attack speed, % OA and a relevant item mod for my main (and only) attack. So why am I not using it? Cause Raka’Jax ended up being better. To begin with it can roll higher % OA, it has extra flat OA on top of that, making the crit chance better, it has extra % crit damage, making the crits that do happen stronger, and it has +2 to Shaman making just everything better. Health, OA, DA, flat damage, stun res, crit damage, RR, all sorts of stuff. Yes Raka’Jax lacks flat lightning damage and has electrocute instead, which is unleechable and doesn’t scale with AS. Yes, Raka’Jax has no attack speed on it. But if you take Raka’Jax away and swap in Evoker, the sheet DPS increases by about 3.5 %. The extra OA and crit damage I get with Raka’Jax increases the overall damage by over 5 %. That’s not counting all the benefits that critting more often gets me, as in, Upheaval damage and any actual AoE. So as stupid as it looks, a Primal Strike crossbow with no attack speed is better than a dedicated Savagery weapon with flat damage and attack speed on a Savagery build. Dunno what that says about Evoker. I guess it says “don’t use it if you’re not a Vindicator”.
As for the rest of the gear, somehow things get even uglier. I wish, so much, that I could have avoided using Ultos, but I couldn’t. The % crit for Savagery on the helmet is difficult to rival, as is the flat Lightning on the chest and amulet. There also didn’t seem to be any other decent Lightning shoulders, and if I was going to use the Ultos shoulders, then adding another piece just to get the 2pc bonus seemed like a no-brainer. And once you’re going down that road, it’s hard to say no to the 3pc bonus, after which it’s even harder to say no to the 4pc bonus. Why is that bad? Cause Ultos sucks. It’s the second worst Legendary 5pc set in terms of resistances. Arguably it’s the worst because a large portion of the resists it does provide is all jammed into Lightning, so the build ends up massively overcapped on Lightning res while having gaping holes everywhere else. I fucking hate it. To make matters worse, none of the resists the set provides are cc, so that all has to be solved on the other gear, components and devos, cause Elementalist has nothing going on in that department on the tree. So now the build is stuck with miserable resistances, lack of attack speed (cause of the weapon), and, lest we forget, bad DA (thanks Ultos). On a build that, ideally, wants be have a lot of room to stack OA. And now it has to deal with all of this shit. The problems brought in by the use of Ultos dictated a massive portion of the other decisions.
For the gloves, I would have loved to use Cindertouch for the flat damage, cc res and OA. But couldn’t cause I needed Light’s Defender Gauntlets, with 0 OA, to fix resistances. On the belt I would have loved to use Storm Shepherd for the flat damage, attack speed, smidge of OA. Couldn’t, had to farm Brandis (the worst Watcher to farm) just to get some DA and make the Bleed and Chaos res not entirely miserable. On the rings I would have loved to use stuff like Kelphat’Zoth or Storm Witch for the flat and the procs, but couldn’t cause the DA was absolutely catastrophic (and before you say that I’m overvaluing it, before I made the ring and belt swap, the DA was down by about 200 and the build was dying all over the place beyond SR77). On the pants I would have liked to maybe slot in Solael pants to improve the leech and fix some of the CC, but again, the requirements on what rolls I’d have to get (OA + DA) were so specific I had to settle for Stormcage Legguards despite their completely worthless resistances.
On the devo tree things didn’t look much better. To begin with, I still needed to fix the DA, so I was forced to take either Turtle or Solemn Watcher. This meant that, one way or another, I was going to be points inefficient by going off into the yellow territory, where I didn’t want to be at all. Also, despite the fact I initially planned the whole concept of the build around it, I was forced to skip Tempest cause I just didn’t have the room. I would also absolutely love, love, love to take Ghoul to fix the sustain and get another circuit breaker going, but again, couldn’t find the points cause I had to be fixing DA, stacking OA as high as the sky cause my gear wasn’t providing enough to be comfortable, and I had to, of course, get the RR sources (Widow, Crown), the primary Lightning crit proc I was after (Ultos) and in the end, also get my beloved cheat engine in the form of Korvaak, which not only brought in more % OA and % crit damage, helped fix resistances, but in the end also contributed massively to helping the build overcome hordes through the petrify.
With all of that put together though, there weren’t too many reasons to be happy. The OA, though solid, could still be better. The attack speed was miserable, cause I couldn’t, for instance, take a Dread Skull on the medal cause I needed res and I couldn’t take much AS on the devo tree cause of all the other things I needed to reach. Very few of the resistances could be called good. Though I managed to fix the cc res, mostly, I had a bigass gaping hole in petrify res (eh, not too prevalent) and in trap res (literally everywhere). There was no room for disrupt res, the phys res was meh, I couldn’t even get full armor absorb. But worst of all, the sustain. The sustain was B.A.D. Though I had Korvaak’s Brand to supplement that through a modifier that doesn’t show on the sheet, without Wendigo Totem up the leech was absolutely miserable. So much so, I had to take Fox just to get some of that going, where I would have much preferred to take Raven instead. And even with that, the leech was still bad. Though the % leech seemed reasonable now, at least while standing near Wendigo Totem, and the sheet DPS looked good, the core issue was that, due to the design of the build, all of it was mostly happening on just that one target I was hitting. If Upheaval procced, I’d get a bit more healing thanks to the solid %WD, but since that was Upheaval, not Savagery, I wasn’t getting the benefit of Korvaak’s Brand, so the leech was just 18 %. If I was next to Wendigo, else it was 11 %. And that was kinda it. The % WD on the Ultos and Korvaak procs isn’t very high so there’s not much leech going on there. And so, the build was still very prone to taking a big hit and then not being to leech back fast enough before the next big hit lands cause all it was doing is plinking away at enemies one at a time. I couldn’t figure out a way to get more leech into the build. There was no room on the devo tree, not unless I was willing to sacrifice a bunch of OA/DA to get Ghoul. While I could get a bit more going on the gloves through Restless Remains, that 3 % probably wouldn’t revolutionise things and it would cost me what little AS I had plus tank my already poor Chaos res. And so I made the desperate decision to put a point in Feral Hunger, since all the +skills I had for Shaman would get that to a decent enough proc rate and solid leech %. I want to make this clear. I am NOT happy with that choice. I built the whole build around Upheaval and crit procs, based the entire concept around getting no AoE other than off of crit, and here I am sabotaging both just to get Feral Hunger. But the recovery situation was just so bad, I couldn’t think of another way to fix it, so I had to try something. It’s possible I could have avoided that by just taking the Restless Remains. Or maybe I should have taken the hit on OA/DA and squeezed in Ghoul, wrecking my general survivability by exposing myself to more crits and ruining the concept of the build by tanking my crit chance. These are all possible options to solve the sustain problem without fucking the whole thing up through Feral Hunger. But this is all purely theoretical. Cause as I’ll explain below, I don’t think anybody is going to bother trying to find a way fix that problem.
Nobody is going to bother, cause nobody is going to replicate this. Nobody should replicate this. But it’s not for the reasons you might think. Yes the build has issues: the resistances are a pain to fix, the cc, particularly trap, is nauseatingly bad, the sustain kinda sucks, the OA isn’t nearly as high as on @afanasenkov26’s Blazerush Elementalist, the attack speed is miserable and the AoE is entirely reliant on crits, so a lot of the time the build is just poking away at enemies with Savagery one at a time. But funnily enough, despite all of the above the build still works, and actually works quite well in terms of the core concept of it. It does actually obliterate single targets with amazing speed. How amazing? Well, let’s just say Kaisan at SR80 is left with 25 % health by the time he summons his crystals for the first time. Seeker of the Damned is at about 30 % health by the time it puts up its shield for the first time and even with the Time-Warped mutator the build can kill Seeker after like 3 shield rotations. Depending on Zantarin’s skill rotation, the build can kill the bonyboi before he summons a single skeleton. Fabius can be dead before the first Blade Barrier. And in hordes, the build doesn’t fall apart either, provided you kite a bit. Though there are occasionally terrifying spikes of damage, for the most part Eye of Korvaak, Demon Fire and Feral Hunger do their respective jobs. Enemies are locked down by Korvaak, their damage output is reduced by Demon Fire, and when push comes to shove Feral Hunger procs often enough to refill the health pool, even if it’s not entirely reliable. So no, the issues aren’t in that the build gets overwhelmed due to its lack of AoE, as the ranged playstyle kinda makes that manageable, and the crit reliance of the build isn’t really detrimental or non-functional because of low-ish crit chance.
The thing that absolutely wrecks the build is its tankiness, or lack thereof.
The build may have 19.5k health, but that’s about all it has going for it. The DR from Demon Fire is there to help, but 15 % DR ain’t much. The phys res isn’t actively awful but nobody would call it good. The DA is still meh, despite everything the build had to sacrifice just to get that much. The armor is low and lacks full absorb. There’s no % absorb. And the build has to spend so many points investing in resist and health and OA and damage that there’s hardly any points left for survivability options such as Blast Shield or Searing Light. So all in all the build’s just running around with a slab of health and 15 % DR and that’s all the defenses it has. In most cases, that’s enough. Again, against hordes Korvaak does a good job holding them back and against single targets the damage output is solid enough that the build doesn’t need to take damage for that long. But there is one exception, one enemy that’s just dangerous enough, taxes the defenses just enough, hangs around long enough that it becomes a problem. And while against most such enemies the build could just solve the problem by taking advantage of its mobility and ranged playstyle, it’s this one enemy specifically that neutralises all of that. Fabius.
Like I said, the build can kill Fabius before he puts up his first Blade Barrier. Can. If only it could afford to just stand there and attack. But Fabius, the cunt that he is, won’t let you do that. Between his aura and the Blade Spirits he absolutely tanks the build’s already middling DA, and he outputs so much damn damage, a lot of it physical, where the build has a hole both through middling phys res and bad armor with incomplete aborb, that he can wreck your health pool even without proccing his RR WPS. And there’s no trick you can use on him that makes things better. Trying to DPS for a bit and then create distance when the damage becomes too much doesn’t work, because firstly, when the damage becomes too much, it happens so quickly you might just die. And secondly, when you do start kiting, you can’t even create space for constitution to kick in because of his aura, so you’re just running away at low health while you’re slowly ticking down to the aura damage. You can’t turn around and plink away at him to lifesteal, cause he’s Shadow Strike’d and can’t be hit. And then, if by some miracle you do mange to create distance for long enough to pop your heal pot, wait for it to recharge and you can position yourself to start the fight again with full health, Totem up and BWC on the ground, he can just land a big hit with his Shadow Strike and you’re back where you started, with no health and running for your life. I’ve tried circle kiting at long distances, I’ve tried stutter stepping in between his attacks, I’ve tried tank and spank. None of it is reliable. So when you enter the boss room and hear that dreaded “wwweaaaum” of the Veil of Shadow cast and you know, there’s about a 50 % chance you’re not making it out of that boss room, that’s a problem, especially given how prevalent Fabius is. He alone was responsible for two of the failed runs. Not Grava, not Reaper, not IM. Just Fabius. Hell, to illustrate just how bad it is, at one point the first enemy I was forced to fight in an SR79 boss room was Grava. I had pretty much no kiting space (it was the Sunward Spire boss room). While trying to figure out a way to dodge his dispel projectiles, I accidentally pulled the boss above him. It was Rashalga. So now I had to kite both Rashalga and Grava around the tower while trying to not pull the other two bosses still left in the room. You can imagine the shitshow that was. And I’d rather repeat that than fight Fabius on this build. Cause at least that fight I won.
And that, sadly, just tanks the viability of this build so massively, I cannot recommend anybody replicate it. Maybe, if you managed to roll some truly godly affixes on the Solael-Sect pants to boost health while keeping the OA/DA somewhat ok, you might be able to salvage that fight. Because outside of that fight, the build doesn’t do half bad. Grava is a very unpleasant fight, one which is better solved by just kiting through it rather than trying to tank in the fumble pools, but that’s about the worst it gets and if you kite properly it’s not even dangerous, just time- and space-consuming. I haven’t fought Korvaak but Theodin is perfectly fine, as is Rashalga. IM is an absolute joke, as despite her high DA the build still just merrily crits through her HP and her resistance seems to be a non-factor. The fight is so fast I occasionally miss the fact she even popped her heal, cause she heals and 3 crits later she’s not there anymore. Reaper can be a bit tense because of his unpredictable damage but often he’s dead before or shortly after his first Wraith summon, so that’s not an issue either. The only boss that takes noticably longer to kill is Valdaran but he’s in no way threatening, despite this being a ranged build. So all in all, it all just comes down to the fact that Fabius is pretty much just a coin flip for this build. Were you to find a solution for him, this build ends up being pretty playable for a meme. With his existence though…just don’t bother. Or build better than I did, I guess XD If Fabius were to get heavily nerfed or Ultos heavily buffed on defenses though, I’d say this would be a solid build, that, with good piloting, might make it to 10/10. If not for Fabius it would have been a 9/10 already.
Here’s the usual SR75-76 and SR80 parts of one of my runs. One final thing I should mention is that this build is fairly affected by mutators. The defensive ones, obviously, like Cruel, Brutal, Afflicted or Marked,since the tankiness isn’t great, but also one offensive one in particular: Weakened. While that extra 70 OA seems enticing taking a 30 % hit on your crit damage is pretty noticable. With the OA multipliers and all the crit damage the build has stacked up, Savagery normally crits for 300 % damage. Losing 30 % on that is a 10 % damage nerf while the extra OA most definitely doesn’t provide 10 % more crits. It may seem like a minor thing but the mutator really does take the bite out of your crits.