Albrecht's Aether Ray Needs a Buff

Hey everyone!
This post has been a moderately-long time coming (about two weeks) and it’s about how Albrecht’s Aether Ray needs a buff.

I don’t post in the forum much because I’m not big on private forums, but I feel the need to share these thoughts here. For those who don’t know me, I do Grim Dawn youtube videos and I’ve been running an AAR Sorcerer as one of my main builds since early access. I have an extensive playlist of videos showing the beam through its highs and lows across the history of the Arcanist.

You can find that here.

The reason I’m linking that is to relay that I’ve been using this ability for a long time and I can tell you that right now, it may be AAR’s lowest point in its entire history, save for the very beginnings of the Arcanist. In truth, it’s never been the strongest ability and it’s always required many other abilities and gear pieces to support it. Now, I’m not asking for an AAR meta, this post is about getting the beam to a level of usability. And actually, I hope this post doesn’t come across as rampant fanboying or whining.

AAR Drawbacks
I’ll point out before sharing the my ideas about buffing and changing the beam, I have to list a few negative points about the ability. Not because they need changing, I think the negatives are fine, but they need to have a reason to exist and right now, the negatives outweigh pretty much anything about the ability.

1st: AAR requires you stand still and channel, which is, in general, detrimental to your health in a game like Grim Dawn unless you have a form of sustain.
2nd: The crazy energy cost the beam has in order to channel it. Which I actually like as it puts weight into Energy Regeneration as a stat, something that few other abilities do with other stats in the game. This doesn’t need changing.
3rd: There are a lot of high Aether resistance enemies in the game, which is to be expected given there are high resistance enemies for all resistances, but the Aether enemies tend to also have high hit point pools and can stun you, canceling the beam and making it difficult to deal with. Plus, they make up two factions in the game.
4th: Lastly, the beam is forward focus, single target damage, which makes it tricky to handle the waves and waves of mobs in the game. This last one is less a problem, because other abilities exist across the class combos, but bears mentioning as a negative aspect.

What’s the positive? What makes up for the negative aspects of the ability compared to other abilities that don’t carry negatives? What’s the fantasy of the ability? Looking at the ability, you’d think it was ultra high damage output, but it’s not doing that.

Therefore, in my opinion, Albrecht’s Aether Ray needs a buff.

Proposed Changes
I’ve listed two changes for Albrecht’s below with the reasons for them.

Change the First - Weapon Damage and/or Attack Damage Converted to Health
AAR should either get an item that adds weapon damage to the beam or it should get weapon damage by default. This comes after seeing Arcanum Sigilis and Mythical Spellgaze, both of which grant Panetti’s the ability to have weapon damage. This will enable the beam to lifesteal, which is crucial now for survivability across most, if not all, builds. Secondarily within this change, granting the beam some lifesteal through an item ala Mythical Spellgaze would help as well. Now, given the beam’s ability to tick damage like crazy, neither of these need to be a lot. Like 10% weapon damage, 2-3% lifesteal would be golden. A caster off-hand, weapon, or Aethereach would probably be the safest slots to put this in (like a Legendary version of the Codex of Malligosta but with these as direct lines instead of a proc, since it’s so similar to the idea, or a weapon so you don’t have to worry about balancing against Warpfire, Wrath of the Ascendant, etc., or Aethereach because, well, it’s Aethereach). (Oh, and as an aside, make it an AETHER based item. I think I’ve been pretty nice throughout this post, but the Chaos beam has support already, it has a whole set; the Aether version, the default version, needs support. There’re a million one-hand Forcewave items, but Aether AAR items?) And I’d say make the item as class combo agnostic as possible so that Sorcerers, Mage Hunters, Spellbinders, etc. can utilize it.

Reason: AAR cannot sustain right now. Even with proper resistances, relevant DA and armor, and a shitton of health regen, it just can’t hold position to channel. I’m not saying you need to be immortal while channeling, but it’s difficult to hold the ability. Compare this to your average melee build, which can dive into hordes of monsters and hold their own, all thanks to 6% or whatever life steal on top of proper defenses (and sometimes improper if we’re being honest). I have a Spellbreaker who can do just this, and although he does have a constant heal and lots of avoidance, the point I’m trying to make is this character with some sub-standard, sub-level gear can move wherever he wants, fight whatever he wants, and can do all this without worry. I’ll also note that although Albrecht’s can fight at range, keeping the range is difficult, especially with the Sorcerer because of how weak crowd control is at level 100. Some other combos can deal with this, but the issue exists regardless of build.

Change the Second - More Damblage!
The second change I’m putting forth is a buff to the damage in some way. I have three suggestions for that.

1st - Make AAR the Ability it was Always Meant to be: Give it a damage boost. A big one. LIke 25%-30%. Just make it deal damage the way you think it would. Sound crazy? Vitality Conjurers and Pierce Tacticians exist (though I know THAT build is getting nerfed). Crazy is out of the barn!

2nd - Disintegration Should Disintegrate: I don’t know if this concept is possible in the engine, but what if Disintegration had “%Max Health damage” That is, the bigger the health pool of the monster, the more damage is takes. I see this stat in other games and got to thinking how the beam would work with it. Alternatively, giving Disintegration Health Reduction damage would be interesting as well. Just make Disintegrate doing something more than “more normal damage.” I don’t think it’s weird to ask when you have modifiers like Lacerate and Blindside or Hungering Reach that make abilities work a little differently. Hell, you could even add “side beams” like the Chaos Nexus ability from Diablo 3 that shoot out and ding secondary targets. I mean, if it’s just an ability that deals damage, I’ve mentioned already, it needs more of it regardless.

3rd - Intensify forward firepower!: Again, I don’t know if the engine allows this, but what if AAR dealt more damage the longer you channel it? On Disintegration, put a line that says something like: The percentage bonuses on this ability increase by their current amount each second Albrecht’s Aether Ray is channeled, up to five seconds. Ultimately with this idea, how the implementation is done doesn’t matter, if can be implemented at all, but the idea is to give a bonus for having to sit and channel. Hell it could even be Resource Reduction that stacks with itself as the beam hits a target.

Reason: The damage scaling for AAR seems to be really off at high level. Even with Mythical gear and rerolled gear filling slots, 2600 or more OA (about 400 up from 85), the damage just doesn’t feel there. I can’t quite pin down what’s going on here, it may be that weapons have increased base damage coupled with increased percentages, but AAR just feels really weak. This shows through especially against enemies with high hit point pools; Ugdenbog Golems, the new Cthonics, Aetherial Behemoth/Titan/Colossuses, and some bosses.

I think I’ve said my peace, AAR needs a buff, I put forth some ideas. I hope I didn’t sound too dickish or whiny or fanboy-y.
Let me know what you guys and girls and whatevers think!

I also had the idea of letting the beam pierce through a 4-set bonus, but let’s just try to get it working now then all the AAR fanboys like myself and work on getting that going. In case anyone is wondering, I was thinking it’d be for Sorcerers and Spellbinders, having Arcanist be the focus, fire for the Sorcs, and aether for the SBs. Just a thought to keep in mind, I think there are some fundamentals that need addressing before requesting full-on sets should be a thing.

New ideas since posting this.

Give AAR the weapon damage by default on the ability, then for the transmuter, have it completely convert to Chaos as usual but remove the weapon damage. This way, with the Black Flame set, its tankiness would be under control and you’d have more balanced life steal.

Someone also recommended that for the transmuter, you could half the length of the beam and make it pierce, in addition to converting the aether to chaos.

There was also the idea of giving the beam a damage boost by default, then having the transmuter drop the damage increase but the beam would pierce int he chaos version.

Something from me, maybe if the weapon would come from an item, a weapon may be better, given how stacking the idea with Wrath of the Ascendant or Mindwarp or Warpfire might be too strong.

Just more ideas bubbling up from the fanbase.

This was brought up in my chat last night.
Why not give the weapon to Aethereach instead of the AAR bonuses it has? The item is ready made for the ability, why not have it be even more so ready made.
Or, you could give Aethereach its proc back at mythical level and have the proc deal weapon damage. Actually, why was that proc removed in the first place?

Another idea, remove the caster off-hand requirement so things like Elementium and Will of the Living can be used with AAR.

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Wasn’t this topic already pretty much beaten to death for a couple of years now? If they wanted AAR to be stronger, they would make it. But they don’t seem to given its current state.

The problem is the expansion has added new levels, and because AAR has not received any damage boost, it’s falling further behind. It needs to be based on a fair bit of weapon damage to have a chance to scale, and having the ability to heal off it would also help a lot.

And, as I mentioned, there have been crazy items added for things like Panetti’s to help the ability keep pace.
What did AAR get?
Cost reduction. The thing that, if you’re running the beam already, you’ve figured out how to counteract.

How is this an argument one can make? :confused: Way to just disregard the purpose of feedback.

Wasn’t really making an argument. My point is that people have been complaining about AAR feeling underpowered for a long while now but the skill has pretty much stayed the same. Even after a bunch of feedback threads.

Sure, it got a buff here and there, but the core stayed the same mostly.

I am completely clueless about AAR build in expansion, I haven’t play AAR sorc since a long time, so my point of view is not from an experienced person

I assume this is a feedback based on non Black Flame AAR builds, because Black Flame is essentially a set for AAR though it’s not for regular one, and mystical one is much better for tanking with -18% target’s damage to AAR with Ritual Circle and life steal from SoF is just what AAR need. The regular AAR need something like this to facetank.

Because regular AAR have non of that access to those, I think they should give AAR more defensive oriented skill modifier, most I see is just a gimmick damage conversion, that doesn’t address any drawback of channeling skill at all, maybe they should give AAR weapon damage back on Disintegrate.

I’m currently leveling Drain Essence spellbinder and it feel underwhelming compare to AAR, if you say AAR need a buff then Drain Essence even need more buff. How do you see Drain Essence compare to AAR and Ignaffar?
I feel like it’s the weakest channeling skill of all the only nice thing of it is life steal.

My point is simple. Most attack damage scales with weapon damage. AAR does not. As a result, the expansion is giving boosts to the damage of most every other primary damage skill. However, since AAR does not gain anything from weapon damage, including new buffs that stack onto weapon damage, AAR has effectively fallen behind further.

If the skill was questionable before, it’s not most definitely underpowered now.

Edit: as far as healing on attack goes, I’ve always looked for armor and weapons which had On attack/crit procs. There are a number of items which can be used for healing purposes. It’s not as good as having ADCTH, but it can get you by.

I’m not so sure there has been a significant degradation compared with weapon attacks. There are boosts to the skill now available with various items adding flat damage to the actual skill while there are also more conversion options available. And there are two new class skills that reduce aether resistance. I think Necromancer in particular has quite a lot to offer an aether ray character (spectral binding/wrath, siphon souls, maybe reap spirit).

Skill modifier are available to most skills including auto-attack replacers like cadence. In addition for weapon builds there are many more and larger sources of flat damage that AAR cannot befit from.
The extra resist reduction is again not unique to AAR as most builds have gained more options for resist shreds.
Considering the cost of using AAR and its position in the Arcanist mastery I would agree that AAR deserves a DPS buff.

I also like this idea :slight_smile:

Codex of Malligosta, an EPIC (bleh!), is on my Spellbinder currently and is probably part of his success. Spellbinder is definitely better at running Aether AAR right now than Sorcerer. Haven’t tried out the Mage Hunter, but I think it’d run a little close to how the Warlock with its set is run.

That’s actually a good point too.

I don’t really like the way the Warlock with its set plays (or the Warlock in general, but that’s for another time) so I haven’t tried it yet.

Drain Essence, I haven’t tried it yet either, but from what I’ve heard in my chat, it’s definitely needing a damage boost. My Spellbinder is using AAR right now and with what the class provides and gear supporting it he’s running really well.

His damage just isn’t where it should be given the point investment in AAR.

Here’s a linkto the Spellbinder, btw. I’ll make a guide video for him soon, I just need to get some mythical version of things and do some minor swapping/tweaking.

How about adding some knockback to AAR? Just a little to keep slow mobs off of you. That could help mitigate the standing still while casting. Of course it doesn’t help if bosses are immune.

What about slapping Aether RR for 0.5 seconds to AAR/Disintegration? The short duration would prevent abuse by other skills like CT using it for another RR source, but would also give a damage boost.

Actually now that we have more channel skills it almost seems like it should get another skill modifier entirely…

So far my AAR Sorcerer has been holding his own, but I have barely dipped into the expansion. I could already tell that once I reach the outskirts of Malmouth that I would be having a lot of trouble, but I’ve also been relying heavily on Haunt while kiting and only using the beam against heroes and bosses.

So far it’s been working great since Haunt has a decent radius and also RR (albeit a small amount). I have Arcane Bomb tied to Haunt, so when it goes off, they get a flat -30% Aether Resist which helps immensely with damage, especially after a flashbang drops their DA, I tend to crit a lot with just the curse. Devastation and AAR (along with my other procs) tend to deal with the rest.

However, all that doesn’t really help considering I’ve seen how fast the bigger enemies move the further you reach into Malmouth and the Voids littered around the area. I don’t have high hopes for my build to last very long against those enemies in AAR’s current state. A possible second transmuter to add knockback or stun would be a great boon to the spell or maybe even something that allows the beam to split to other enemies - refracting off the first and targeting the ones behind it. Either way, something needs to be buffed, otherwise the only Aether builds we will see in the future will be followed by a horde of skeletons.

I watch alot of Grim Dawn streams in october and while most are hardcore none of those players have an active AAR build.
Yeah standing still in GD hardcore is a bad idea.

I was hoping the item modifiers will be a little boost in damage, functionality and creativity for most builds but it seems the devs did not took enough risks. They dont want the game to become way faster.

We have the unique prefix ”20% Slower target Movement for 1 Second to Albrecht’s Aether Ray” to Conduit of Arcane Whispers. :undecided:

I know, it’s kind of wrong place to ask, but i was looking for a Aether caster build without AAR. Obviously since there is no AAR, it probably should have another damage type aside Aether. Is it possible to do and level (so not just switch to it at max level) such a build with one of the expansion classes? Like Arcansist\Necro or Arcanist\Inqusitor?

seeing the AAR spell was what got me into the open beta back in the day.
It was fun for the first 30 levels and I really wanted it to last but the drawbacks in mana consumption, being stationary and not piercing through (Obliteration already does a far better job in this regard, saving you tons of skillpoints as well) are the biggest drawbacks in my opinion.

AAR is just unappealing to use over any other possible build. Even after I collected all the Black Flame pieces opting for a Chaos Ray variant wasn’t enough to leave an impact. Having to kite while you cannot retaliate at all is not the way I enjoy to play, so I think something fundamental about AAR has to change.

Made a forum account just to post on this thread, I completely agree both AAR and Drain Essence just feel lackluster, the argument of going ACR instead of AAR is a bad one, to go ACR you are required to put that one point into the transmute, that transmute is supposed to be optional and not a necessity. If you feel that it is necessary to use the optional transmute in order for it to be good, then that’s one of the first signs that there’s something innately wrong with the skill itself.

Your first suggestion would do nothing as the biggest issues are the damage itself + actual defenses (small mobs hardly affect you compared to the 3 colossus that will inevitably charge you simultaneously), the skill doesn’t deal enough damage compared to the amount of energy that it costs. It’s supposed to be an intense beam of aetherfire taking much energy and concentration (hence the standing still/channelling) but right now it’s like a pen laser taking the same amount of energy, so something needs fixing.

RR itself would be nice, but as stated, damage is more a priority, damage that scales. RR won’t scale the damage of the beam, also to put RR on it, you’d want it to apply throughout the duration of the beam, not .5 seconds, it’s a channelled skill after all.

Im farming ultimate with AAR/devastation spellbinder right now and id say the only problem this skill has is absurd energy cost.
BTW the tooltip is bugged and dosent represent the real dps of this skill. And the ray itself doing half of dmg against moving targets, so its kinda wierd.

I Really Really hope they buff AAR. I love the spell, but gave up around L40. Stationary mage = Dead Mage. Give us a channeling defensive buff and give AAR piercing or point AOE on the target. Take a look at D3 for possible Disintegration variations.