Armoured Mage - Tanky Beginner-friendly Lightning AAR Mage Hunter (Beginner's Guide included)

Hi there, GD community. I’m BOG, and i want to present you a tanky Lightning AAR Mage Hunter build & guide.
The idea behind my build was to make an AAR caster as tanky as possible, strong and beginner-friendly at the same time. This build lets you slice through game content like a hot knife through butter, even in your first playthrough. It doesnt rely on any hard-to-obtain gear, so you’ll never be screwed up by RNG. Everyone can play it straight away. You wont have to kite enemies - you’ll facetank them all instead.
I’ve started this build from scrach myself, deleting save folder. I’ve got all items self-found, without any cheats, et cetera. Even though i still lack some decent items, i can clear 151-170 Gladiator Crucible and SR75-76. This build is meant to use a lot of “greens” but dont be afraid of them. Green is good.

Grimtools link (current setup):
*lacking Glyph of the Storm Witch.

Crucible run 161-170 video:

SR 76 run video:

Pros of the build:

  1. Tankiness. Having 3k+ armour & DA with decent (not BiS even) gear, all res overcapped, damage absorb and decent ADCTH + damage reduction from aura, this build is meant to stand still and disintegrate enemies.
  2. DPS. Despite being tanky, damage is there too. My current setup has 150k DPS before procs, and up to ~185k after, high OA, crit damage, etc…
  3. Range. AAR is a long-range skill, so you can eliminate enemies without the need to come close.
  4. AoE. AAR hits several enemies at the time, so killing packs is relatively easy.

Cons of the build:

  1. Prone to skill disruption. Yes, sadly, that’s the weak spot for most caster builds. And even more - for facetanking ones. Sure, you can obtain skill disruption resistance, but it always comes at the cost, and doesnt solve matters entirely (due to "disruption pools). Your nemesises will be not Iron Maiden or Kaisan, but Vileclaw, Pulv’Daroth, etc.
  2. Due to shape of AAR skill (long narrow “ray”), it takes some time to kill multiple surrounding enemies at once.
  3. Hard to point BiS gear setup.
  4. Being too tanky is liable to cause over-confidence :grinning:.

Questions and answers:

  1. Q: Why lightning? A: Lightning version of AAR is the easiest to gear up and the tankiest at the same time. Fire version relies on several great legendaries, which arent guaranteed to obtain. Aether and chaos versions - even more so, and on top of that, they dont benefit from Aura of Censure.
  2. Q: Why Inquisitor as second mastery? A: Because of Inquisitor’s Seal and Aura of Censure. Inquisitor’s Seal is a spectacular defensive skill, that negates lion’s share of incoming damage and allows you to facetank. Aura of Censure is an automatic resistance reduction (RR) skill, that also reduces enemy damage. On top of that, Inquisitor provides decent resistance boost.
  3. Q: What is Storm Box for? A: It’s for Alladrah’s Phoenix proc (extra damage absorb). It also grants some RR with Aetherbolt Pendant.
  4. Q: Are resitance overcaps really neccessary? A: Yes, definetely. You should aim at 40+ overcap on every damage resistance. It’s not hard to achieve. Elemental, vitality, bleed and chaos res would come to you naturally, so care about pierce, poison & aether.
  5. Q: Are CC resistance cap necessary? A: Stun, Freeze & Slow resist caps are mandatory. Skill disruption resist is great too (though obtaining it comes with a cost). Trap and Petrify resists are not neccessary.
  6. Q: Does armour and physical resist matters? A: Armour DOES matters. The tankiness difference between 1.7k and 3.3k armour is as vast as between heaven and earth. Physical resist, on other hand, doesnt matter much.
  7. Q: Is Nullification really good? A: Yes, it’s definetely worth its points. It allows you to dispel nasty debuffs from yourself (reduced damage, in particular), and remove buffs from enemies. It also reduces enemy elemental damage. Sure, it requires skill and knowledge to get maximum benefit.

Beginner’s Guide:

  1. Introduction.
    This build is based on Albrecht’s Aether Ray skill (AAR) from Arcanist tree (as main damage dealer).
    This small guide assumes you have a bit of knowledge about GD and its mechanics - you can find that in various generic beginner’s guides. This guide allows you to start with AAR build, and will point you all required details.

  2. Starting (~1-17 levels).
    2.1 Skills
    You start with Arcanist. First get Callidor’s Tempest skill and level it up to ~3-6. It’s a decent AoE skill to kill enemy packs quickly. Put 1-3 points into Iskandra’s Elemental Exchange for better energy sustain. Max out Inferno. Put 1 point into Arcane Will. This is enough till ~15-20 level, until you transition to AAR.
    2.2 Items.
    Use caster weapon with +% to fire damage and caster offhand with +% energy regen bonus. Put Enchanted Flint into both. Use 2x Scaled Hide for your armour, along with Antivenom Salve and other components to boost resistances. Dont save up those - you’ll find/buy more later. Use items with decent armour, resistances and energy regen. Keep an eye for items with “of Insight” suffix - this one skyrockets both your DPS and energy sustain, and it’s particulary easy to obtain at early levels (1-20). Always check vendors for it. With 3+ of said items you can transition to AAR. Dont forget to get Slith Primal Ring from quest.

  3. Early game (~17-32 levels).
    At this point (having few “of Insight” items), you can transition to AAR. First, downgrade Callidor’s Tempest to lvl1 and put skillpoint into “Wrath of Agrivix”. This way, Calidor’s Tempest turns into strong secondary skill for boss-killing (due to strong burn damage) while spamming AAR. Then, put few skillpoints into AAR, depending on your current energy sustain. Dont put too many points - AAR is a very energy-hungry skill, so dont chew more than you can swallow. Do note, that putting points into Disintegration is more benefitial, than into AAR itself. At this point, your AAR with deal mixed fire/lightning/aether damage. Use Mark of Illusions/Ectoplasm/Soul Shard for jewelry. Be careful - at this stage you’re pretty vulnerable, cause you still dont possess ADCTH. Dont forget to keep a relic from Rover’s elder - it’s a nice early item.

  4. Midgame (32-90)
    4.1 Playthrough
    First, slay Amalgamation to get Pulsing Shard. You can take your time to get one with decent rolls - maybe, it would even stay with you for the rest of the game despite being low-level item (like mine). Pusing Shard is essentially a build-enabler item, that allows to heal from damage dealt. With it, game gets very easy quickly. You may want to switch to Veteran even.
    Then, proceed to Conclave of the Three, get friendly with Dreeg’s Cult (of the key factions for this build) and proceed to Infernal Wastes. Go to Tomb of Sethan and get Crimson’s Arcane Sceptre from Sister Crimson. Again, you can spend some time to get one with decent mods. Then, you can finish expansion or proceed with main campain - whatever you like.
    After main campain i advice to get to AoM content. You can get acquitance with Coven of Ugdenbog and Malmouth Resistance factions (another 2 key factions), while also raising rep with Black Legion (the last key faction). You can also get there Ugdenbog Waisguard, Valaxteria’s Skytorn Robes and buy relic recipes (Haunt/Vendetta, in particular).
    This is how my char looked like after completing Normal:
    After normal, i suggest to quickly complete Elite (without AoM and FG content, and without most side quests). Dont forget to visit shrines, though. Cult of Dreeg sells good shoulders for AAR builds, while Coven of Ugdenbog sells some decent helms.
    4.2 Skills/gear.
    At this point, you get rid of Callidor’s Tempest completely, and start investing points into various secondary skills. I’d suggest to max Inquisitor’s Seal first, then max Overload and Steel Resolve. Put more points into Word of Renewal, if you lack move speed. Then get to Aura of Censure, and start gradually maxing other skills.

  5. Endgame (90+)
    First, get max rep with Cult of Dreeg & Coven of Ugdenbog. Craft Aetherbolt Pendant and buy shoulders and helm (if needed). Then, get max rep with Black Legion & Malmouth Resistance and update your gear bit by bit. Farm Sister Crimson for sceptre, etc. At this point, you should gradually improve your overall armour with heavy armour chest, helm and shoulders. For helm and chest, Light’s Defender set pieces are the best, and for shoulders - Iron Maiden’s Shoulderguard.

  6. Devotion leveling.
    (+) Eldrich Crossroads
    (+) Quill
    (+) Ascendant Crossroads
    (+) Hawk
    (+) Rhowan’s Crown
    (-) Eldrich Crossroads
    (-) Ascendant Crossroads
    (+) Primordial Crossroads
    (+) Wraith
    (+) Widow
    (-) Primordial Crossroads
    (+) Order Crossroads
    (+) Lion
    (+) Bard’s Harp
    (-) Lion
    (+) Alladrah’s Phoenix
    (-) Quill
    (+) Sailor’s Guide
    (+) Crane
    (+) Solemn Watcher
    (+) Ishtak, the Spring Maiden
    (+) Obelisk of Menhir (5/7)

  7. Approximate skill leveling:
    Sure, this is not set in stone and greatly depends upon your gear.

Farming spots:

  1. Royal Hive/Amalgamation run. Yields: Serrated Spike, Battered Shell, Pulsing Shard.
    Start with Rotting Croplands rift, run to Royal Hive, full-clear Royal Hive, run to Amalgamation, slay Amalgamation.
  2. Sister Crimson run. Yields: Crimson’s Arcane Sceptre.
    Start with Infernal Wastes rift, run to Tomb of Sethan, run to Sister Crimson with right path. You may just skip her, if she doesnt hold the sceptre (it’s clearly visible, whether she holds in her hand that large teal mace or not). This way you save some time, but wont get as much loot and reputation.
  3. Ugdenbog run. Yields: Ugdenbloom, Ugdenbog Waistguard, Living Ring.
    Start with Coven’s Refuge, run towards Ugdenbog rift according to path below, killing all hostile flora & ghostly crabs on your wake and checking all stumps:
  4. Tomb of Korvaak run. Yields: Chtonic Seal of Binding.
    Start with Asterkarn Valley rift, run to Tomb of Korvaak, clear first half of an area with cultists in it.
  5. Immolation run. Yields: Aether Crystal, Aether Shard, Aether Cluster, Dynamite.
    Start with Deadman’s Gulch rift, run to Immolation (use teleport skill, mirror and HP potion to make it alive), clear all crystals in area. You may skip Herald of Destruction - it has high lightning resistance and isnt worth your time.
  6. “Shopping” run. Yields: Kymon’s Badge, Searing Ember, Scavenged Plating, Roiling Blood and several other valuable components.
    Use Blood Grove rift and run to Benevald. Open a rift near him.
    “Loot” his wares. TP to Homestead rift, run to Isaiah, “loot” his wares, run back to Homestead rift, TP to Benevald, “loot” his wares, …
    Dont perform shopping too quickly - their wares might not update, if you’re too fast.

I will improve this guide over time, this is just the beginning. Feel free to leave a feedback.


hmmmmm seems nice but obelisk of menhir is a bad choice here i guess even if i understand that u did it for those tanky bonus

Hmm, and what should i spend those 5 points on instead? Obelisk provides great DA/armour boost, stun/freeze resist and max pierce res. It’s a great devotion even if i’m unable to use its proc.

1 Like

dont change it just leave it be

Hi there, beginner here, I had read a Lightning AAR Mage hunter guide for beginners from /u/malawiglenn, apart from the difference in beginning levelling process and him advising to go for AAR only after getting a pulsing shard, do you agree with the rest of items that he had proposed, or would you recommend doing something else differently ? Also if possible can you link a grimtool link at some levelling breakpoints (like at 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90 etc)? Those have been incredibly useful for beginners like me, who regularly get confused in what order to get and what ?

About when transition to AAR - when i’ve played it, i transitioned to AAR at level ~17. It’s because i already had 3x “of insight” items at the time. Well, in recent patch they were nerfed a bit for early game (but buffed for lategame), so maybe you should transition a bit later, let’s say, at level 20. Anyway, it all depends on energy sustain. AAR is very energy-hungry skill, after all. And regardless of skill you’d use, until 32 level you wont feel really powerful anyways. Just endure it a bit.
About items - well, i advice to use items with “of insight” suffix early, when energy sustain is the main issue. Now, i mostly agree with him, but here are some differences about gear.
Weapon - just use Crimson’s Arcane Sceptre. No need to look for any other weapons.
Shoulder - just use Dreeg Vile Mantle, forget about Loghorean’s (his shoulders were nerfed recently, BTW), etc. Later, when you get enough points in Disintegration, aim for Iron Maiden’s Shoulderguard.
Belt - just use Ugdenbog Waistguard (you can get it while farming Ugdenblooms - double benefit).
Legs - Alexander’s Legguards. Those arent that hard to obtain, so why dont kick Alex’s ass and get them?
About leveling breakpoints - nice idea, will make it soon.

Another question if you don’t mind, why do you rate armour more than physical resist ? Is it cause it is too difficult to get physical resist on mage gear or is it that let’s say getting 500 more armour is more advantageous than say getting 10% physical resist etc ?

The reason lies in game mechanics, and i confirmed it personally.

First, Armour works before physical resist. Second, armour is a flat absorbtion. Third, physical resist can be easily screwed by enemy debuffs (-40 all resist, hello, now your physical res is not 20%, but -20% - and on top of that you can get specific physical resist debuff from guys like Bloodlord Thalonis, etc).

Let’s do some math. Let’s say, we have an enemy, who hits for 5k physical damage. I have 3.3k armour, 21% damage absorb from Maiven’s Sphere and 270 flat absorb from Inquisitor Seal. Let’s say, i have -30% physical res (due to -40% all res debuff). That translates into (5000-3300) * 1.3 * 0.79 - 270 = 1475 damage. Now, imagine i’d get 20% physical res (that’s quite a solid amount) (5000-3300) * 1.1 * 0.79 - 270 = 1207 damage. And with +400 extra armour (which is easier to get, btw) (5000-3700) * 1.3 * 0.79 - 270 = 1065 damage. As you see, armour clearly wins there.
In the game, most enemies hit for less than 5k physical damage. Therefore, armour proves to be very efficient VS them.
And the last reason - physical res is tightly tied to specific gear (usually - for physical builds). You cant really “choose” to get it - rather, your build/gear chooses it for you. As you may guess, most non-physical gear doesnt have any physical res on it. And since physical res (just like any other res) gets good only at high values, there is no point to deliberately invest into it.

BTW, about gear - if you dont have Light’s Defender Helm yet, and have good enough energy regen, you can use Ascended Casque MI helm - it has +12% armour bonus.

Thanks for explaining, it really made sense. Also am a complete newbie, so currently have just one character (a vitality cabbalist) who has completed veteran vanilla and is going to AoM, am trying to get her to get to elite and get revered in a few factions to get reputation writs for my next char in mind a mage hunter AAR, so really don’t have any gear saved up…:slight_smile:, plus as a veteran from other APRG, I love the feeling of characters getting self found gear, makes building really a nice feel

Hi, I’m pretty new to the game, and I’m having trouble with the devotion path. Green crossroad+quill+purple crossroad= 4 purple affinity and 4 green. Rowan’s Crown requires 4 purple and 6 green. Is there maybe a typo in the devotion leveling?

Edit: The change that I made was adding Scholar’s Light after Quill

Hi there, ran into a few issues while prepping to follow your build:

  1. I tried to simulate your build with grim tools build calculator and am not able to get Rhowan’s crwn, do we need to get some other constellation in between Quill and Rhowan’s crown ?

  2. Yesterday I levelled a oathkeeper to level 32 or something (wanted to always see the various skills it has so that I could choose a build in future related to it), please don’t take any offense when I say that I didn’t find even one “of insight item” the entire time, I was also checking any vendor I find when trying to sell my stuff. Does some vendor has a high chance of selling them around arkovia or devil’s crossing , and does one has to repeat the vendor reset trick a tin of times to get them ? Should one delay to transition to AAR if one doens’t find them ? Sorry I understand these are all definitely subjective, but am a sort of OCD pre planner person, would really like your opinion/

  3. Similar to 1, when trying to simulate skill point allocation while levelling, I always get lost at 3 places, whether to go for AAR or Disintegration when and how much, second when to respec out Caliddor’s tempest fully and third when to transition to Inquisitor and get the seal etc, it would help a lot for pre planners like me, when you post some more level breakpoint(like 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90 and 100) grimtool links.

Also the section for the farming runs is excellent, appreciate it a ton. Also if am sounding too pushy or annoying, I apologise, am just trying to give opinions from a complete beginner’s perspective.

Indeed, a typo, i forgot to add Hawk. Fixed it now.

That feels kinda wierd to me, when i was leveling my Mage Hunter, i got ~5 “of insight” items till level 32. I dont really think i was so lucky… After all, you get lots of green items dropped nowadays. IF you dont get any, try checking vendor a bit. Or farming Sister Crimson - cultists there drop a lot of gear, especially heroes and Sister Crimson herself.

First, level up AAR as your energy regen allows. Then, put remaining points into Arcanist mastery and Mental Alacrity. When you maxed them, put points into Disintegration (you can even remove some points from mental alacrity and AAR for that, especially - from AAR, if lacking energy regen). How many points put into AAR - depends on your current energy regen (= you gear).
I dont have time to post breakpoints now, but i think iwill do it today. Keep in mind, though, it wont be set in stone anyways, as it depends on your gear.
Respect out of CT at 32 level.

Added leveling breakpoints.

Seriously thanks a lot…:slight_smile:, sorry seems the links for lvl 32, 50 and 61 are same…if you were in middle of editing then apologies…

Nice write-up!

But for casters physical resistance it’s very important. Armor basically negates and soaks all small hits, but the big physical hits are the one that can penetrate through your seal and kill you. So physical resistance is irreplaceable and is more important than armor. Of course it’s good to have them both :slightly_smiling_face:

Fixed it.

So you want to claim, that for melee it isnt? Isnt that a bit silly?

Physical resistance is not so good VS big hit as you think. If i wanted to withstand big hits, i’d eather just increased my total HP pool. It’s far easier to obtain and works VS any damage, not just physical.
A multitude of small hits is what kills in most cases (from my perspective, at least).
Anyway, getting decent physical resistance along with res overcaps is impossible for non-physical builds. You might want to stack physical res, but you cant do it anyways. Even if you get an extra +20% physical res somehow, it wont make a major difference.
And as shown in my Crucible and SR videos, my build doesnt really need more physical res…

Just want to advice caution against total health reduction.

Avris marrowill can hit you with like 45% hp reduction.

Which is reduced by vitality resistance. 45% * 0.2 = 9%. Not really scary, huh?

No. It’s not reduced by vitality resistance. Vitality damage is reduced by vitality resistance.

From malawiglenn’s guide: