Need Some Help...

WARNING: Wall of text and it is long

I am a HC player, and have unfortunately fallen in love with Cold Spellbreakers. The fact you are riding the edge of massive damage, but if someone looks at you wrong, death is fun. I have roughly 550 hours in game, probably more like 375, because the game will be up in the background while I work from home (will do the occasional quest while on the phone or brainstorming for work).

My highest level character made it to level 71, before he was hosed by a hero aetherial in the same chamber as Lucius. Unfortunately, said hero had reflection, and while I killed him, I was at half health due to reflection (I missed that he had it up when I went in for the coup d’grace). I awoke Lucius by trying to leave the Aetherial fire left by the hero, he stunned me, and charged, and I was dead before I could do anything.

My next guy made it to level 69, I was breezing through everything, decided to do the Steps of Torment. I had one close call (2500 health left) due to getting cornered, but other than that had no issues. I got to Alkamos, and holy cow, he kept Shadow Striking to me. I tried to kite, but he had a stun (which was only momentary) but he would immediately Shadow Strike and I really couldn’t do anything. It was the first fight I really thought was unfair. I was probably at 3000 health, got Shadow Struck (got me to about 1500), stunned, and then dead.

The level 67 one before that died due to getting stuck in Aetherflame on the way to do the Novera Starfire quest for the Order. A bunch of guys were in the cabin and I couldn’t get out of the Aetherfire (this was primarily on me not paying enough attention to my health).

My play style with a Spellbreaker is to get in with Shadow Strike, use ABB to proc Lethal Assault, use Ring of Steel for the AoE, get out and do it again. I max Night’s Chill and Nightfall. The dual blades line gets enough points to get the proc chances for Belgothian’s Shears, Quick Cut, Whirling Death, and Execution to 20%.

From the Arcanist line, I max Star Pact, I take a point of IEE, a point of Mirror, a point of Nullification, a point of Arcane Will, and that is it. These are used to amplify damage, or to negate it in the case of hard fights/reflected damage.

Some things I have tried, a point of Blade Trap for CC. This has worked well, except for the bosses, which is fine. I have tried OFF, but I feel as though the investment does not lead to an adequate benefit. However, it has been a while since I have tried it. I have tried TSS, but it seems a bit too random for trying to hit a boss. PRM and PB are neat in theory, but they do not mesh with the Cold/X damage model a Spellbreaker works best with.

With regards to devotions, I normally go with:
Chariot of the Dead
Sailor’s Guide
Rhowan’s Crown
(Green is an issue because nothing really meshes, I have tried Raven, Fox, Scholar’s Light, and Quill)

Also, since I am playing hardcore, I max my resists as much as possible. Also, I tend to let chaos and aether resist lag, as it is easier to gear specifically for one or the other. Plus, Herald and Praetorian sets are great to cover these if I can get them. My OA and DA are typically in the 1650-1725 range at this point end of Act 3.

So all this being said, is there anything I am missing here? Also, I do not want to post a character because this is more than fixing one character. Most of the ideas I can come up with are problematic, getting tankier with a Spellbreaker is easier said than done. I am willing to dump some constellations (I’m thinking Amatok) to take others that will make me tankier, but none standout to me (maybe Rhowan’s Throne), but this does not solve the issue of how I have died lately, stun, and then apparently getting critted to death.

Also, one of the issues I have had, most of my legendaries have not been conducive to Nightblades. I think I have gotten two, maybe three legendaries for Nightblades, and two of those were really gears for Witch Hunters.

So my questions are:

  1. What are some alternatives to the constellations I have used for the Spellbreaker?

  2. What can be done to mitigate or reduce the impacts of getting stunned?

  3. Should I focus on getting more lifesteal? I normally have 10-15% on my character, but it depends upon drops. Are there constellations that help with this?

  4. Is there another class that has a similar play style, but is tankier?

  5. What is the best relic for a late game Elite Spellbreaker? I tried Nemesis this last game, and it did not seem to be as good as the Deathchill I had been using through early elite/late normal.

Well, I read that wall of text but can’t give you more than just some general; and probably not too helpful; advice.
I’ve got a cold Spellbreaker like that too and it just is one of the less tanky characters in the game, which is why I’ve basically had the same thoughts on the topic as you have. Playing such a character is basically a gamble - do I get in and out fast enough to not be stunned, frozen and nuked?

Sadly there’s not that much that you can do about getting stunned and killed subsequently - get lots of defensive ability, get lots of stun resistance, get lots of health, get some emergency skill that activates when your health drops below a threshold. And life steal, although generally powerful, won’t help you when you’ve just been stunned, right?

So basically you could try and solve this with the right equipment, getting your DA and (stun-/freeze-/etc.) resistances and health up, and getting some emergency skill from an item (like Death Ward), but I’m no expert on itemization and items wouldn’t help you anyway if you don’t have them.

Devotions-wise you could have Chariot of the Dead, Behemoth, Aeon’s Hourglass for survivability. Consider that Aeon’s Hourglass will not just reduce the cooldown of your offensive abilities, such as Shadow Strike and Ring of Steel, but also those of your Blade Barrier and Mirror of Ereoctes which could well safe your ass a thousand times.
In this case you might have Amatok and Murmur for damage and resistance reduction, plus Harpy, Viper, Lizard, Sailor’s Guide and Eel for fulfilling the requirements (and some damage and tankyness) and would still have five points left to spend.
You could also go completely defensive and try to grab Tree of Life, but you’d obviously have to sacrifice some other constellations for it, like perhaps Amatok. Given your hit-and-run style of play this might not have such a huge negative impact though, but I guess you’d have to try.

Appart from that you might also consider leaving behind dual-wielding and getting a shield, with shields often offering supreme defensive stats.
You would not have to pick shield-based constellations for that, but of course you could; and there’s e.g. 55% of stun resistance just in the Shieldmaiden and Obelisk of Menhir constellations alone.
I’m not sure how Shadow Strike handles shields and generally your DPS would drop, but then again your survivability might sky-rocket, and, given the insane amount of damage that a spellbreaker is capable of dealing, you might still have enough damage to clear the content fast enough.

Thanks for the reply. I think we are thinking along the same lines. I find it funny, I am running a Blademaster through right now, and keep on getting knocked down quite a bit on my health in every fight. However, I am getting knocked down in manageable chunks. For devotions, I have Assassin Blade, Harpy, and am working on Turtle.

Get tree of life and giants blood, max resists, and get a bunch of stun resist. Though, even then, you’re still going to run into a bunch of problems with that class combo. Perhaps try out another one?