It seems to be a common opinion here and on Reddit that the battlemage is the weakest class combination in the game at present. I’ve played a battlemage through the end of ultimate with iskandra’s set and iskandra’s balance relic, focusing on cadence and devastation, and while the character cleared ultimate easily, it started to slow down around the end of act 3 through act 4.
One commonly repeated reason is a lack of clear itemization. There’s mindwarp for the aether build, but little armor to support it, then iskandra’s set supports a melee elemental build, but there doesn’t seem to be a good sword with attack speed and + to relevant skills for elemental damage. I’m not a top player, but I don’t think the gear issue is totally insurmountable and that the real problem lies in skill synergies. Both classes focus on completely different damage types with little support for the damage types of the other class. More importantly is that, they don’t offer strong capability to reduce resistances, which is one of the most powerful ways to improve damage. Soldier offers all the defense a character needs by itself and every other class offers ways to improve its offense, either through resist reduction or supplementary damage types that far exceed anything in arcanist. Similarly, Soldier offers nothing to a Callidor’s or PRM arcanist except for defense, which is largely superfluous when other classes offer strong defensive tricks as well as significant boosts to DPS.
What is to be done? Tweaks to legendaries to better support this class combination would certainly help, but I think tweaking skills would be better. One possibility is a buff to IEE, but that would be a buff to Callidor’s builds that don’t necessarily need the help. A better option would be to put the synergy on the soldier class, in a place in which the vestige of a synergy already exists: discord.
Discord is pretty bad. An aether battlemage in the builds forum takes it so he can get around being screwed by heavy aether resistance. Elemental cadence builds might take it while leveling if they want to remain pure to their build concept throughout the whole process of playing it. But except for a few niche cases, it’s hard to imagine when this skill is good for anyone. The conversion only applies to the third hit of cadence and only applies as to remaining physical damage existing after other sources of conversion. Since battlemages, the only build to which the skill is clearly applicable, eventually can get 100% conversion anyway, discord is pretty useless. So make discord useful and improve battlemages at the same time by fixing discord.
I imagine the fix would apply a very high -n flat resist reduction every cadence hit that lasts for a very short time. My image of it would be something like 25% chance -60 lightning resist, 25% chance -60 fire, 25% -60 ice and 25% -60 aether, each only lasting for 2 seconds. That way if you’re focusing on a single target and have fast attack speed, you can heavily reduce most of its relevant resistances, substantially increasing the damage of both your melee and spells as long as you’re focusing on multiple elements. Adding a nice chunk of flat aether damage to discord would help under supported aether builds as well. If this is considered too powerful, especially for a skill available so early, the transmuter could be moved further down the tree, or less ideally, restricted to a 1h+caster implement combo.