Investing Skillpoints in Mastery Pets (outside Raise Skeletons) is Useless

I have a large set of ideas / criticisms regarding pet builds as they stand, and instead of dumping entire-page posts of ideas directed toward the devs, I’m going to break them up into separate threads. As I expand upon each major point, I’ll link all the threads together so that everything has some consistency; here are the threads I have in mind to spark some ideas:

  • Investing Skillpoints in Mastery Pets is useless (this thread)
  • The combination of constant death pools and hordes of charging enemies (and their never-ending swarms of adds) constantly dumpsters pet builds’ DPS as the player has no way to navigate toward fighting the one enemy in the pack they have to beat (healers, add-spawners, pool-droppers, those types) and each pet is too swarmed by enemy mobs that they can’t coordinate to beat down a path.
  • The complete lack of itemization that grants both pet bonuses and skill bonuses for masteries that pet builds would love to use (skills like Temper, Steel Resolve, Storm Spirit, Blood Pact, Aura of Conviction)
  • The focus of having to combine pet offense, pet defenses (Health and Resistances) and having to invest heavily in pet buff skills make pet builds utterly unviable compared to tanks that just need to invest 26/16 in their main attack skill, which allows the player to use the rest of the gearing to invest in primary/secondary resistances, Damage mitigation / healing / absorption, and 5,000 DA.
  • The fact that multiple builds using the same Soldier set (Warborn & Justicar are the big offenders) can easily troll 170 with no buffs and no banner, and yet when a pet skill exists that allows them to clear 150, they get nerfed (primarily talking about the Primal Instinct nerf and ruining Raise the Dead by making it player-scaled). Not even that, but most well-designed melee/ranged builds have the same clear times if not better than pet builds with none of the downsides - compare Dual Pistol Purifier with Pet Conjurer that uses hilariously OP potion and still only gets 3s better kill time.

Anyway, onto the thread itself:
Why is investing skillpoints in Mastery Pets Useless?
Short answer is: There’s no point in investing in one pet when you can invest in pet buffs (and by that I mean both skills that specifically benefit pets like Manipulation as well as party-wide buffs like Blood of Dreeg) that benefit 10 pets and provide 10X the reward. Raise Skeletons gets around this by having a separate skill that adds multiple pets, so a Necro investing into 3 skeletons easily turns into 9 skeletons as the player levels up. Summon Briarthorn and Summon Hellhound have none of this, meaning they are only useful for their buffs (and that’s only if they don’t die too quickly, something that’s easily a problem when you fight bosses that pile death pool onto death pool).

There are numerous item modifiers that grant additional bonuses to single pet skills such as the Conduit of ___ Whisper’s Conversion, Bloodsworn Codex’ “Increase total damage by X%,” and the Overseer Medal’s “Increase Crit Damage by X%.” Not only do many pet builds stack enough Crit damage that these types of modifiers don’t have the same effect, but pet skills are the only skills where adding these modifiers are actively worthless, at least compared to skills such as Forcewave that vastly benefit from conversions and additional damage.

Now let’s view the Summon Hellhound skill, as it’s the biggest offender:
Summon Hellhound at 1/16: 15858 Health, 5 Physical Damage, 4 Fire Damage
Summon Hellhound at 26/16: 35861 Health, 145 Physical Damage, 127 Fire Damage

Ignoring the fact that a single Primal Instinct Swarmling does more damage than a 26/16 Hellhound (and that’s a pretty egregious point to ignore), the Health bonus is essentially meaningless as there’s no way to obtain the resistance overcaps necessary to deal with the endless stream of resistance-reducing death pools without neutering your pet build’s offense.

If we were to focus on the fire damage, the Hellhound gains 123 Fire damage and 165% bonus damage going from 1 point to 26 points. Why would anyone want to take the gear necessary to get the skill bonuses necessary when one can invest in Storm Spirit and Hellfire and obtain bonuses not just for that one pet, but every pet alongside it?

The other reason one could feasibly place skill points into one pet is to attach a devotion ability to it that provides serviceable AoE to complement pet builds’ single-target nature. It’s no surprise that Flame Torrent is one of the best devotion abilities in the game, and it all stems from its short cooldown and 35% Weapon Damage component. What other devotions can pet builds use to have a similar effect: Bull (32% Weapon Damage, Physical AoE that’s easier to convert), Dire Bear (56% Weapon Damage, also Physical Damage), and Blind Fury (70% Weapon Damage, small Pierce, mainly Bleeding). None of those devotions really stick out for a single pet to make it worth investing in skillpoints where it stands out compared to stacking more damage bonuses (and by damage I mean the gauntlet of Pet OA, Crit and flat damage).

What can we do to fix this problem?
The simple way to approach it would be to treat mastery pets like Reap Spirit, where investing skill points leads to multiple pets being summoned, something like 1 pet up till level 16, 2 pets from 16-25, and 3 pets at level 26. That way, the item modifiers become much more useful because you’re affecting more than one pet; additionally, devotions bound to pets become that much stronger, especially ones like Rend that can affect many enemies at once.

If you’re hesitant about that, there are other ways to go about it. One way is to increase its natural resistances (before gearing that affects pet resistances is included) as you invest in skill points: maybe something like 0 at level 1, 30% at level 16, and 60% at level 26. That way, you can feel secure in your pet tanking for you and not have to worry about your 26 point investment failing you every time an enemy lays down a death pool.

Another way would be for pets to have natural taunts that become more effective as you invest: having pets at level 1 means that you can easily peel agro away from them, but putting them at level 16 makes their taunts much stronger that prevents enemies from reaching you. Bosses already have a natural taunt resistance, and most areas have so many monsters that they can easily surround you and isolate every one of your pets.

You can also provide additional attacks in their cycle as you invest skill points, similar to how investing in Raise Skeletons provides you with Archers, Mages, and Revenants. Perhaps at level 16, the Briarthorn gains a temporary defensive buff that stacks with Emboldening Presence, while the Hellhound gains a temporary frenzy skill that adds fire damage and shorten cooldown timers for Ember Claw / Infernal Breath.

These are all ideas meant to have you think about how to make investing in pets worthwhile. In fact, there’s a pet that already does provide nice bonuses for investing points into it:

Summon Familiar

As dumb as this pet can be -I very much enjoyed the quip when the Mythical Will of Bysmiel was introduced that if you summon 2 Ravens, they’d attack each other. :stuck_out_tongue: - it does demonstrate that it is possible to invest skill points in it and have the pet becomes exponentially powerful to the point where you can have it as a primary pet instead of doing the standard “stack as many pets as you can and stack flat damage to all of them” playstyle.

At Level 7, Raven goes from 1 projectile to 2 projectiles
At Level 13, Raven goes from 2 projectile to 3 projectiles
At Level 20, Raven goes from 3 projectile to 4 projectiles
Only at level 26 does the Raven get a 5th projectile

As each projectile also gets stronger as you level up the Raven’s skills, you can feasibly say that Raven at level 26 does the job of 5 pets (not having weapon damage and thus not being able to use flat damage bonuses aside). However, Raven is dumb and doesn’t realize the power of its shotgunning potential, so typically, the Raven will do the following:

  1. Stand way back from the player and shoot from behind the summoner, guaranteeing that at least 3 of its 5 projectiles will crash into walls or other objects and become completely useless
  2. Continue to stand there after firing its useless load, not realizing the optimal way to attack is to lunge inside the enemy and fire its lightning spheres as a shotgun
  3. When it goes from one target to another, it will stand in place, shooting uselessly and repeat the cycle. Bysmiel forbid the enemy is actually mobile, then it gets worse.

This stems off a long-standing complaint toward Crate in that pets will first activate their major skills at long range when they would be completely ineffective, and only afterward will they go and actually attack the enemy. There should be a way to change the pet script so that a pet doesn’t use these long range abilities until after it’s been attacking an enemy with its standard attacks for X seconds.

Do you know of any other skill where investing 26/16 into a main attack skill means that at least 60% of its potential DPS is wasted in just about every battle? It’s like an even worse case of the time Forcewave got stuck every time you tried to use it against a slope, except the Raven is even worse than that because the Raven attacks outside your control.

My guess is that the 120 degree or so arc that the Raven uses is far too large for it to shotgun smaller targets. If you can’t change the script so that you can guarantee the Raven to go inside the enemy when you set it to attack mode, then make the projectiles homing or something of that sort.

Well said. After having played a pet warlock, deceiver, elementalist and pyromancer (all capable of sub 10 MQ kills), I can tell you that these builds are worthless inside the crucible, or any other place with lots of AoE, when compared to a pet cabalist or spellbinder. I’m 100% sure that a blademaster pet build (1 point into blade spirit) will outperform any non-soldier pet build out there, as intended.

Thx for the advice. I’m totally confused after watching your videos and then looking at your builds. I can’t believe that this make any sense :confused:

I thought (till now) that there should be some hidden mechanics or synergies about the HP of the Pets or that the damage will scale with every point i invested in the main Pet skill.

Again: I’m totally confused :rolleyes::confused::frowning:

While this is a good idea, as I understand things this is already how the taunt skills work (ember claw, ground slam). With each point invested the taunt value grows, even though you can’t see this in game. These skills are competing for most useless skill ever however and I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a build with more than one point in them (if any at all). As such they’re a good target for a redesign, but I think we all realise that won’t happen any time soon (if ever).

Here’s how Ember Claw and Ground Slam scale:

Ember Claw at 1/12: 39 Fire Damage, 22 Chaos Damage, 5% Crit Damage, 3 targets max
Ember Claw at 12/12: 175 Fire Damage, 162 Chaos Damage, 33% Crit Damage, 3 targets max
Ember Claw at 22/12: 320 Fire Damage, 363 Chaos Damage, 55% Crit Damage, 3 targets max

Ground Slam at 1/12: 90 Physical Damage, 26/s Internal Trauma Damage, 4% Crit Damage, 8 Projectiles
Ground Slam at 12/12: 340 Physical Damage, 140/s Internal Trauma Damage, 25% Crit Damage, 8 Projectiles
Ground Slam at 22/12: 683 Physical Damage, 284/s Internal Trauma Damage, 35% Crit Damage, 8 Projectiles

I don’t know the internal cooldowns associated with these moves, but when you have 10+ Enemies charging at you at once, it’s very unlikely that using these moves properly will affect any more than 3 enemies, and that’s assuming the targets they hit don’t have any natural resistance to taunting. That also doesn’t ignore the fact that even if you use nothing but Wendigo Totem and Blood of Dreeg, boss enemies will still break from your pets and attack you, even with 2 Briarthorns from the Mythical Beastcaller’s Set.

It would be nice to be able to breakdown these moves by watching your pets hit the training dummy, but for some reason, pets don’t actually use their secondary moves while attacking a training dummy. The only pet move that I know that works is the Raven’s Lightning strike, but I tried to have the Hellhound use Infernal Breath and the Blight Fiend use its vomit attack on the training dummy and they never use it - they only use it when attacking actual enemies. I’m not sure whether this specific issue is intended or is a bug.

Regardless, these moves aren’t going to save you from the summoner and every one of its pets being swarmed by packs of enemies, and due to the summoner’s complete lack of CQC abilities, summoners are the only playstyle that simply swarming the player with enemies (which is especially true in the Crucible) reduces the build’s DPS by 95% with no way to mitigate it. Even ranged builds have shotgun abilities that work better when being swarmed, in fact, the Aegis set prefers the player to stand right in the enemy’s face and use the close proximity to have all the projectiles hit for maximum damage.

Piggybacking off of this- I tested moves like Ground Slam by running through a bunch of heavily populated areas and letting a swarm of easy mobs hit us. Seems that they have a cooldown of about 5-8 seconds or so (I wasn’t testing that precise), and the projectiles are capable of shotgunning if it’s a large enemy that surrounds the pets, but it has a downside of having a fairly long start-up and endlag sequence. If the start-up and end-lag was reduced, I definitely see it being worth putting points into, especially if multiple Briarthorns are involved. Unfortunately, the Bloodsworn Codex and the Overseer medal are the only good items that even give skill point bonuses to this skill (Mogdrogen’s Peace set is simply awful for reasons I’ll pore into in the equipment thread), it’s more of a lack of opportunity reason to put any more than 1 point in this skill.

I don’t have a build that actually uses Ember Claw, so I’m going off of what I’ve seen on YouTube. It looks like the move is two swipes, each of them doing the damage listed on the skill description. Like the other taunt skill, any good pet build is going to have fast enough attack speed that in the time it takes to do the Ember Claw skill, it could easily do 2-3 regular attacks that have 100% benefit from flat aura bonuses, making the skill a DPS loss no matter what you do with it. Gearing is no better, as you’re obviously not giving up Witching Hour for the Warpbreath Arablast or the Sovereign Ruby for the Shard of Command.

I can’t just assume anyone working on this game would simply leave these skills to be unsalvageable, but I’m at a loss as to how anyone can justify putting points in these skills.

Regarding investing into the base Summon Hellhound skill, have you tried a suicide build with Shard of Lost Souls and Fleshwarped Archive to bring the cooldown under 2 seconds? At 26/16, Blazing Death reaches 660 Physical, 648 Fire and 192 Chaos. You could even work Swarmlings in if you build to reduce Physical, Fire and Chaos resistances I’d think.

I do have such a build listed here: Hellhound explosions

Investing points into the Summon Hellhound skill does not increase the damage done by its Blazing Death explosion. You can see for yourself in the Grimtools: Blazing Death is scaled off player level, so it will do the same damage at 1/16 as it will at 26/16.

You are indeed right, didn’t spot that :rolleyes: Strange how that doesn’t scale with levels either. I’ll have to have a look at your build.

I don’t know the internal cooldowns associated with these moves…

For reference:

  • Hellhound Firebreath: 6 second cooldown
  • Hellhound Fireclaw: 3 second cooldown
  • Raven Storm Strike: 4 second cooldown
  • Briarthorn “Slash”: 4 second cooldown (this is a hidden cleave skill)
  • Briarthorn Ground Slam: 6 second cooldown

It’s possible my database is bugged or out of date, but I try to keep it up to date.