Picture with all permanent buffs
So I’ve got a request to do an Arcanist caster with both good single target damage and AoE. Initially I wanted to do Warlock, but realized that it would inevitably be considered pretty glassy, and therefore not very beginner friendly, so I shelved that draft.
And here’s an obvious Spellbinder build instead. Nothing new – I had a similar concept for Sorcerer back in AoM that I haven’t done a guide for, then malawiglenn posted CT Spellbinder later on (which he removed for whatever reason) and I’ve levelled a very similar concept a bit later. This is a fourth time I level a CT build.
The build’s single target damage is mediocre – it’s enough but nothing to brag about. If you’re looking for a build that deletes bosses then sorry, you should check out my Pierce Cadence Blademaster or Cold Shadowstrike Infiltrator instead.
On the other hand, the AoE of the build is way above pretty much any DW melee build. Yes, even those with fancy procs. Some other casters may be proud of making the whole screen shine, but what this build lacks in the area coverage it makes up in potency.
As for being easy to pilot – well, sorry. While this is far from the most pianey thing I ever played I can’t in all honesty claim that the build utilizing Time Dilation reset of Devastation, Mirror of Ereoctes and Nullification would be easy for literally everyone. I’ve made some simplifications like throwing away Mark of Torment, which is one button less, but that’s as far as I’m ready to simplify it.
Speaking about defense – it’s pretty beefy for a caster. It is a combined effect of both my skill, devotion, component and augment choices. I’m especially proud of 2.2k armor. Sustain is also not a problem because Callidor’s Tempest got high weapon damage.
I’d say the only real disadvantage of this build is it has a very high affinity with farming Port Valbury, while most players I know bloody hate this roguelike. Just so you know - this beginner setup can clear Valbury just fine.
Callidor’s Tempest and Devastation are build-defining skills and have to be maxed.
Inferno is something only worth maxing if you have ways to convert lightning to aether. Before you get some it’s a one-pointer. The meta high end CT build has zero lightning to aether conversion, so you won’t find them spending many points there. I max it because I use Magelord set rings in my build.
Reckless Power, Fabric of Reality and Spectral Binding are your offensive buffs that provide flat aether damage (unlike many other “spells” Callidor’s Tempest does a whooping 50% weapon damage, so it isn’t a total waste) as well as %aether and other useful things. You’d want to max these skills, but in practice you might have to make some cuts here, especially with Fabric of Reality. Without Chaos to Aether conversion 12/12 Fabric of Reality is enough.
Spectral Wrath is a resistance reduction skill. I decided to max it out, but these extra points could have been used well elsewhere. There’s no clear meta practice on this – some builders soft cap RR skills and some max them.
Same with Inner Focus. There’s currently a practice among high end builders to invest a lot of points into Spirit, which they call “spirit dump”. This is essentially a glassification, but it works for them. Needless to say, they invest a lot into Inner Focus. I on the other hand prefer more durable builds, so went only moderately with it, but still decided to get Inner Focus maxed.
On a side note – keep in mind that if you go above 12 in Inner Focus you should made it’s level an even number, since odd numbers are bad.
Nullification is a stupidly versatile skill. Not only you can turn off various auras that hero enemies have (there are more of them than you realize), but you can also dispell various negative effects from yourself – attack damage reduction, slow, resistance reduction and even damage over time effects. And that’s not even all to it! The skill inflicts a whooping 33% reduced elemental damage debuff upon enemies, and surprise – a great deal of dangerous enemies deal elemental damage. It’s reasonable to keep this skill at 10/10.
Mirror of Ereoctes I have softcapped at 12/12. It is a standard practice because the skill just doesn’t scale reasonably beyond that point to justify investment.
Mark of Torment is ignored for the sake of having more points in Maiven’s Sphere of Protection instead. The reason is to have some durability that won’t rely on player being a good enough pilot to pull off CDR defense.
Maxing Maiven’s Sphere of Protection is currently the trending practice.
Conversion’s sweet spots are 6/10 and 9/10, I went with 6/10 due to point shortage.
Siphon Souls is used mostly to activate Time Dilation – it is neither a strong source of damage nor an important debuff otherwise. I think I could’ve had saved some points here and stopped at 10/12 or even 7/12, but whatever.
Ill Omen is for damage reduction. There’s a bit of redundancy due to Nullification, but Ill Omen affects all damage types and spreads over large crowds, while Nullification is just good at it’s niche.
Overload and Elemental Balance is good, but I chose to sacrifice it for more important stuff. Basically I decided to have an ok Offensive Ability so that my hits didn’t miss, but not venture into crit build territory.
Mental Alacrity is good but scaling gets worse above 10, so you should just keep it at 10/10. Arcane Will I personally consider a pretty broken skill with high investment, but it is mostly ignored by high end builders and there are rarely spare skill points for it.
This is a bit off the meta setup I came up with. My innovation here is using a Behemoth + Solemn Watcher + Hound combo to bump the armor rating of the build from that of a typical caster to something that would be respectable even for light armor builds. Behemoth’s proc – Giant’s Blood – synergizes pretty well with Time Dilation. The price for it is not picking up Dying God nodes.
Since the build is levelled with Greater Fireblast early on I pick different devotions. This is what you follow before respec:
- Crossroads (green)
- Scholar's Light
- Remove Crossroads (green)
- Crossroads (purple)
- Rhowan's Crown
- Crossroads (blue)
- Remove Crossroads (blue)
- Remove Crossroads (purple)
- Crossroads (red)
- Elemental Storm (Rhowan's Crown) to Greater Fireblast
- Giant's Blood (Behemoth) to Arcane Will
The list below is what you follow once you respec to Callidor’s Tempest. If you by chance haven’t finished the list above yet then the foolproof way is to just finish it first and then proceed to the list below. A better way is once you respec to Callidor’s Tempest you do the list below up to Widow first, then finish the leftovers from the list above, then proceed further.
- Crossroads (purple)
- Remove Rhowan's Crown
- Remove Quill
- Remove Crossroads (red)
- Crossroads (blue)
- Solemt Watcher
- Spear of the Heavens
- Remove Jackal
- Remove Crossroads (purple)
- Remove Scholar's Light
- Aeon's Hourglass
- Before you have Revenant bind Arcane Bomb (Widow) to Callidor's Tempest
- Once you have Revenant bind Raise Dead (Revenant) to Callidor's Tempest
- If you have Haunt relic then re-bind Arcane Bomb (Widow) to it's granted skill with the same name, otherwise get Ill Omen and bind Arcane Bomb to it
- Giant's Blood (Behemoth) to Arcane Will
- Spear of the Heavens (duh) to any permanent aura
- Time Dilation (Aeon's Hourglass) to Siphon Souls
Test character was levelled on hardcore though veteran and elite without the usage of Tokens, Mandates and Potion of Clarities. Moreover, I had adopted some self limitations – no pre-farmed gear, not using legendaries I randomly got during levelling and not using components and some other things that a new player isn’t supposed to have at the given stage of playthrough. This is my standard practice.
The build should work alright with the Veteran start, but if you feel it’s too difficult to your taste then just switch to Normal.
Early levelling is done with Greater Fireblast and Flash Freeze, with a switch to Callidor’s Tempest somewhere around 40-50 levels.
First – get a rifle. It’s easier than trying to go through early levels with Panetti’s.
Invest points into Arcanist until you have access to Olexra’s Flash Freeze (OFF for short). Once you’ve got access to it start investing 2 points into it each level, and the last remaining point should go into mastery bar. Dumping all points into OFF would work too, but you’ll be low on stats during this period.
Once you’re level 7 you should start looking for Searing Ember, which grants a freebie skill Fireblast once equipped. There are two reasons why you need exactly this component. First one is OFF reduces enemy fire resistance while they are frozen, which is a rather devilish combo against everything that isn’t immune to freeze. And the second reason is Fireblast is just the best out of all early component skills.
As for Arcanist’s native skills you should push Arcanist mastery bar to 20, where you get access to Absolute Zero and Nullification. Max Absolute Zero and put just one point into Nullification. The reason for this one Nullification point is there’s a specific kind of heroes with an ~Unstoppable tag, who have an aura that make them and surrounding enemies resistant to crowd control, rendering your OFF useless. The solution is to just turn the aura off with Nullification.
Also, put 1-2 points into Arcane Will along the route. It will help you with energy management a bit.
For the rest you just need to push your Arcanist mastery bar as far as possible till level 20.
When it comes to devotions you should be getting Scholar’s Light first since it’ll help you with energy management, then Quill.
Once you’ve rescued a Blacksmith you can craft yourself Flintcore Ammo, which give you Greater Fireblast. The crafting recipe requires 4 Searing Embers, but quite likely you would have them by that point. If not the Blacksmith also has a baseline recipe to craft Searing Embers out of Chilled Steel and Chilled Steel from Cracked Lodestone, which should help you to get them in timely manner. The level requirement for Flintcore Ammo is 15, so if you’ve already reached it you need to get it as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, I forgot to do a level 20 character snapshot this time.
Simply push Arcanist mastery bar to 50 and start investing into Reckless Power. That’ll boost your Greater Fireblast DPS a great deal. You should finish by level 30, here’s what my character looked like:
After that just put your points into Devastation.
Ridiculously straightforward to build, right?
Focus on getting following components slotted into your gear:
- Main Hand – Enchanted Flint. This will further boost your Greater Fireblast DPS.
- Leg armor – Scaled Hide. Boosts survivability a great deal.
- Shoulders – Silk Swatch or Resilient Plating. The latter is cheaper and serves the same purpose of improving your pierce resistance.
- Chest – Resilient Plating or Scaled Hide.
- Belt – Antivenom Salve. A very easy way to boost both your poison resistance and armor.
- Amulet and Medal – Wardstone. Loads of useful resistances and some minor movespeed bonus, which also helps.
All of these are components available for crafting by default, no need to rely on getting blueprints.
For your relic slot just craft yourself Calamity for a time being.
Devotion-wise you should be reaching Rhowan’s Crown in this level range. Bind it to your Greater Fireblast to make it even more potent.
Max out Mental Alacrity first, then open a Necromancer mastery and bump the mastery bar to 5 point tier, here you get Spectral Binding. Max Spectral Binding, then put 3 points into Maiven’s Sphere of Protection, then aim for 15 point tier in Necromancer and get Spectral Wrath here.
At levels 45-50 you’d probably feel your DPS is lacking. This is understandable, because you’re still using Greater Fireblast. Level 50 is when I recommend to switch to Callidor’s Tempest (CT for short). For that you remove points from OFF and get CT maxed, and the leftover points go into Spectral Wrath and some other stuff. This is what my character looked like after reset:
Why I specifically recommend level 50? That’s because:
- That's the level when one typically reaches Malmouth, so you can get your hands on a nice Fleshwarped Codex that boosts your CT. They drop from Reanimator enemies in Malmouth, but it's much easier to buy one from Hyram once you rescue him.
- In Malmouth you can also get Haunted Vestment - specifically the level 50 version of it. You see, Haunted Vestment is not one item – there's a level 25, 50, 70, 84 and 94 versions. Level 25 version is impractical, so level 50 is the first tier when it's reasonable to get one. Haunted Vestments drop from Possessed Elementalists in vanilla campaign and from Ascended Spellbreakers in Malmouth. Affixes don't matter, you're getting it just for it's baseline stats.
- If you're in Malmouth you'll probably reach Respected with The Black Legion already, so you can buy Legion Aetherspark from their faction shop in Fort Ikon. A very nice freebie with level requirement of 50.
- With a bit of grinding you can reach Honored with The Outcast and get Outcast's Wrath Pauldrons - another good freebie with level requirement of 50.
- With a bit of grinding you can reach Honored with Order of the Death's Vigil and buy two things - Pendant of Ubiquitous Wrath and blueprint for Death's Waistguard
- You should also buy Haunt relic blueprint from Hyram if you don't have one yet. Hyram sells a number of random T1 and T2 relic blueprints, so by visiting him multiple times you can collect all of them.
When it comes to your devotions you need to get rid of your Rhowan’s Crown and Quill – that’s the stuff we get just for the comfortable Fireblast levelling. Use these points to get Widow, then aim for the Revenant. For details check out with the Devotion section.
By level 50 your Greater Fireblast should have around 5k sheet DPS. If you do all of the stuff above, your Callidor’s Tempest DPS would be a whooping 15-20k – abnormally high for level 50. Have fun crushing everything.
Pick up all the goodies in Arcanist mastery - get Fabric of Reality, Conversion, Inner Focus, Overload. They provide much needed stats.
At level 65 you should buy Malmouth Aetherblaze Vestments and Malmouth Aetherblaze Mantle from Malmouth Resistance faction shop. If you’re already on Elite then just go down a difficulty for this. Why do I throw away Haunted Vestment if I consider it so damn important? Well, that’s because a level 50 Haunted Vestment only has 447 armor while Aetherblaze Vestments have 700. That’s a big deal.
Get Nullification to soft cap and start pushing Necromancer mastery further.
You’ll probably be mid-Elite, so once you’re level 70 you can just spend some time farming an updated version of Haunted Vestment, which can be done in Conflagration, Valbury Outskirts, Fort Ikon, Plains of Strike or Gates of Necropolis. It’s also super convenient that your enemies will be Aetherials, so you’ll be able to push reputation with Outcast and Order of Death’s Vigil to Revered, which will allow you to buy Elite Outcast’s Wrath Pauldrons (would easily serve you till 90, so it’s a good investment) and Death’s Girdle blueprint (if you get a decent affix they would serve you even longer). You can also do some bounties with The Black Legion to get reputation with them to Revered and buy Elite Legion’s Aetherspark, which I’m using even in the “final” setup.
With the above you’ll also be getting access to decent augments. Use Mankind’s Vigil or Kingsguard Powder in armor, both come from The Black Legion. For weapon slots use Outcast’s Wrath from the Outcast, for jewelry use Uroboruuk’s Path from Order of the Death’s Vigil.
Here you’ll be getting Siphon Souls and Sear Souls from Necromancer. You should first get Necromancer mastery bar to 32, then put 1 point into Siphon Souls and 1 point into Sear Souls, then max Siphon Souls. This is not a terribly important skill, it’s mostly used as a way to proc Time Dilation, which you should have by now. With Time Dilation you’ll be able to use Devastation more often, and Mirror of Ereoctes too, hence soft capping Mirror of Ereoctes is your next step.
You can also make a run for (elite) Fettan Mask, which you can find here. Elite difficulty has level 75 version.
That’s the level range where you mostly grind reputation with leftover factions so that you can get dressed in faction gear by level 90. You need Malmouth Resistance, Barrowholm and all three witch god Cults maxed out to Revered.
Things you should do once you reach level 90:
- Buy Malmouth Aetherblaze Seal from Malmouth Resistance, try to roll the 5% cast speed ones
- Buy Malmouth Warped Pendant from Malmouth Resistance, try to roll the ones with resistances, cast speed, aether damage and energy cost reduction above average. This is best done by logging in-logging out in their Sewers base, since their Quartermaster is just near the spawn point.
- Buy Elite Malmouth Aetherblaze Mantle from Malmouth Resistance, prioritize above average resistances and DA.
- Buy Elite Bysmiel Dread Hood from Cult of Bysmiel. Don't worry too much about stats since you'll be throwing it away four levels later
- Buy Mark of the Shadow Queen blueprint from Cult of Bysmiel and craft yourself one. An expensive craft, but it is worth it. Use [Egellon](https://www.grimtools.com/map/markers/smiths/11275) blacksmith for it for a chance to get extra movespeed (a stat this build is challenged with)
- Buy Irrah's Soulfire from Cult of Solael and put it on your jewelry.
- Farm yourself a level 84 version of Haunted Vestment
Things to do this level range is to try to get Magelord Band and Magelord Signet. Normally farming for them would have taken a while, but there’s a cheesy way. Get any blue set piece with level requirement high enough and use Transmuter. Transmuter has two modes – getting random piece of another set and getting random piece of the same set. You’d be using the former, and it’s pretty cheap for blue sets, basically the most expensive part is 30k iron per transmute. I’ve managed to get 2 copies of each with about 1-1.5 million iron. Another trick you can use is to Transmute these rings into each other to reroll their stats, specifically you’re aiming for high conversions. That would cost you Eldritch Essences though.
With Magelord rings it is profitable to get an Inferno upgrade for your CT, so that’s where you put your last skill points. Do some rearragements if needed.
Also you should make a run for (ultimate) Fettan Mask, which you can find here. Ultimate difficulty has level 94 version. Alternatively if you happen to get Mythical Cowl of Paragon blueprint it would be even better. Craft with Egellon
Here’s the list of suggested endgame gear. A word of warning first – conversion of fire to aether is cornerstone for the build, so you should always be aiming to max it. If an item is listed as an upgrade but you would lose conversion as a result it’s reasonable to wait till you get conversion somehow else.
There are basically two cookie cutter recipes of achieving high conversion of Callidor’s Tempest to aether damage:
- Mythical Arcane Shard of Agrivix (avg 30% fire to aether) + Mythical Cord of Violent Decay (avg 50% fire to aether). This is the time-proven "meta" setup.
- Magelord Band + Magelord Signet + Decree of Aldritch. This is a non-meta setup.
The build also makes use of Haunted Vestment during levelling and farming, which has avg 30% fire to aether. You would inevitably have a question whether you should sacrifice conversion and get an upgrade. The answer is until you have your conversion solved completely by one of the cookie cutter recipes above you do NOT replace Haunted Vestment with some fancy legendaries.
- Elite Legion Aetherspark - bought from The Black Legion Quartermaster
- Decree of Aldritch - non-meta upgrade, target farmable
- Wrath of the Ascendant - meta upgrade
- Fleshwarped Codex - MI, can be bought from Hyram
- Mythical Codex of Agrivix - meta upgrade
- Haunted Vestment - MI, conversion gear
- Mythical Vestments of Agrivix - meta upgrade
- Elite Bysmiel Dread Hood - bought from Cult of Bysmiel Quartermaster
- (ultimate) Fettan Mask - guaranteed drop, [map](https://www.grimtools.com/map/markers/chests/11734)
- Mythical Cowl of the Paragon - craftable from blueprint or can be rolled with transmuter. I value it above Fettan Mask because stats are better while +1 to Necromancer skills isn't a big deal since 80% skills come from Arcanist
- Mythical Maw of Despair - meta upgrade
- (Mythical) Outcast's Secret - non-meta upgrade, target farmable
- Elite Malmouth Aetherblaze Mantle - bought from Malmouth Resistance Quartermaster
- Mythical Mantle of Agrivix - meta upgrade
- Stat filler slot, whatever provides you with resistances, OA and DA is good. Endgame builders use very varying legendaries here.
- Any lategame heavy hands (preferably Redeemer series) with resistances, cast speed or OA
- Krieg's Grip - meta upgrade, target-farmable
- Any lategame heavy boots (preferably Redeemer series), with movement speed (important here!) and resistances
- Krieg's Boots - meta upgrade, target-farmable
- Death's Girdle - craftable Arcanist belt, offensive variant, recipe bought from Order of the Death's Vigil
- Coven Vile Girdle - craftable Arcanist belt, defensive variant, recipe bought from Coven of Ugdenbog
- Chains of Ygraad - MI Arcanist belt, if you can get your hands on a decent one – good, but that's not something I would personally target-farm since it's not a meta belt for high end CT binder.
- Mythical Cord of Violent Decay - meta upgrade, cornerstone item for CT and Devastation binder
- Malmouth Aetherblaze Seal - bought from Malmouth Resistance quartermaster
- Magelord set rings - can be rolled with Transmuter
- Mythical Albrecht's Duality and Mythical Band of Eternal Haunt - meta upgrade
- Malmouth Warped Pendant - bought from Malmouth Resistance quartermaster
- Mythical Arcane Shard of Agrivix - meta upgrade
- Mark of the Shadow Queen - craftable item, recipe is sold by Cult of Bysmiel vendor
- Mythical Mark of Anathema - meta upgrade
- Haunt - T2 Arcanist relic, borderline T3 honestly. It gives an extra skill to cast, which can be viewed as a disadvantage. Recipe can be bought from Hyram, although he doesn't sale it every time. Nothing some liberal shop grinding can't fix.
- Agrivix's Malice - meta T3 Arcanist relic