When people think of high-end Skeletons play, the first thing they think of is “lol, go Lost Souls set.” And for the most part, they’re right. Lost Souls set, when completed, gives a whopping 20% Physical Resistance to Skeletons (that’s more than a 22/12 Emboldening Presence) and great speed bonuses to go along with it. Then, with 1.2, Crate decided to nerf every source of pet Physical resistance EXCEPT Lost Souls, making the bonus even more valuable. Whether Crate decides to keep Skeletons as tanks or as the disposable DPS machines designed to be resummoned, Aether Skeletons will remain the odd ones out, as the most important items that enable Aether pets block the Lost Souls set. But Aether Skeletons have a neat trick. With the helmet, you get to summon 7 Skeletons at one time. If you have to have Skeletons that die frequently, at least you can summon a whole load of them to keep enemies in check.
But how would it fare in practice? I ended up doing what any sane person would when it comes to questionable pet performance: I tested them against Callagdra, the meanest pet-slayer in the game. And I died. Multiple times. It’s certainly not HC friendly, and the Skeletons are ruthlessly murdered under Callagdra’s sands. But getting to summon 7 of them at once is pretty cool, and Reap Spirits are always there to whittle Callagdra down. And when things get tough in Grim Dawn, I don’t get discouraged, I get motivated.
So why even post this build? Partly it’s because it’s the highest ceiling I can reach with Aether pets. I’ve done Aether/Lightning Skeletons with Apostate in the past, but Vitality is a much better supporting damage type for it. Rattosh, the devotion that reduces Vitality resistance, has a smattering of Aether damage in it, and you get to make full use of its damage. Performance wise, it’s actually pretty close to my last pet build I’ve posted featuring Lightning Blight Fiends. Finally, it makes good use of some tech I’ve been experimenting with for a variety of different pet builds, and out of the builds I’ve tested with, this one turned out the best, even it’s not a meta-breaker.
The key to making this build work is the off-hand: Tome of the Arcane Wastes. It gives +1 to all Skills, which is amazing in of itself, but most importantly is the Obliteration skill. The damage is unimportant, but what is important is the 35 flat reduced target’s Resistances baked into the beam. Pet builds have a hard time with AoE flat RR (assuming you’re not Elemental, as Elemental Storm is great), as you either have the Bysmiel hound that applies RR with its poor AoE coverage, or you have Manticore to apply a medicore cone of AoE. You’re often not using Scales, and Revenant is out of the question. Having a beam apply more RR than all of those skills is an indispensable tool to have.
Then comes the rest of the build. With 1.2, Cryptstalker converts 100% Physical to Aether damage, and the 8m-wide RR is perfect for reducing both our damage types. Death-Watcher Pendant is probably the best Ritualist pet gear out there, with huge buffs to Call of the Grave, 5% Physical resistance, and 120% damage to both Vitality and Aether damage.
Both the helm and gloves provide flat Aether and the remaining conversion: this time 100% Elemental to Aether. The rest of the gear is to help out with pet damage (which is a weak spot of pet Ritualists who don’t have the Manipulation skill) and cap out their resistances.
One of the trickiest parts of getting this build together was getting the right devotions. You can get Mogdrogen the Wolf, Widow, and Rattosh, but just barely and outside of more pet OA, there actually wasn’t too much benefit over the Dying God route I chose. Staff of Rattosh was non-negotiable, as it provides a ton of pet stats and an additional 80% Aether damage for pets, and you can’t get that taking the Mogdrogen route. Plus Dying God’s Vitality bonus doesn’t show in Grimtools, so you get an extra 370% Vitality damage to make great use of your secondary damage type.
As you can see, there isn’t room in the devotion set-up for a flat RR applicator, making Tome of the Arcane Wastes that much more important for this build.
There is the perfect leveling thread for this build, and it’s found here:
My best time in the Crucible was just under 5:45, which is roughly only 5 seconds apart from the Lightning Bomber I previously posted. Most importantly, you can keep your Skeletons alive thanks to the Crucible blessings.
SR 75-76 Run
About a minute slower than the Lightning Bomber, as it doesn’t have the benefit of having all its sustain come through on-hit procs.
Yes, it took a few tries, but the frustration led to a better time than the Lightning Bomber in the end, so I’m happy with it.