Shepard's call devotion

In another thread I got some flak for claiming Shepard’s call is a bad leveling skill for pets. What really surprised me was even Maya seeming to disagree. So here we go, I’ll present my thoughts on it. And you guys and gals feel free to counter-argument, because I just can’t wrap my head around it.

Shepard’s call has 66% uptime. At lvl1 it’s 60% pet damage, so it actually starts off at 40% average. This is even being optimistic, because 0.5-1 second lost and even lower is more realistic due to it having to be procced. Offensively it doesn’t really do much more. Good defensive bonuses, but pets don’t struggle to survive on normal. The crit damage is good too, but crit damage is better the more your damage scaling and OA% for pets increase. For normal difficulty and for leveling, the crit damage is good - but hardly a big deal. Especially considering how overkill damage is wasted through opportunity cost (those skills could be placed elsewhere, if a pet one shots every trash mob you don’t put more points into the pet unless you want or need it for bosses).

That out of the way let’s look at fiend. Short CD AOE over time. This one also gives 65% fire damage passively to the pet, synergizing with itself. If you are leveling relying on hellhound or briarthorn, I’d argue this is better than shepard’s call even. It may have been OP w/o cooldown for skeletons, but /w cd - I’d argue tsunami is better.

So when you’re leveling. You want AOE coverage to clear the screen fast. Tsunami does this well. For skeletons - it is S tier. Because many of your skeletons will be ranged. Fiend will often proc for ranged skellies doing absolutely nothing (no mob in range of that skelly). Tsunami actually have a very decent range, also low CD. With skeletons, tsunami procs all the time and unlike fiend, it almost always hits something. However for a conjurer summoner, I’d say Tsunami isn’t that good. Mainly because the bird if focused hard early - has plenty of AOE coverage /w increased projectiles.

Now my argument for Nighttalon. Compared to Shepard’s call 40% inc. damage at lvl1 and increasing (under optimal conditions)… Nighttalon by the devotion itself gains 40% pet damage passively straight off the bat, passively, always up. Shepard’s call will slowly but surely become better than this… but we haven’t looked at the other stuff yet. +5% attack speed for pets (is a multiplier no?), and 36 flat bleed damage per second dot.

Dots become more powerful the more pets you have since every minion is its own entity applying it. So 7 skeletons is 36x7=252 flat DPS. Not counting its innate damage bonus. Also NT grants bleed% damage bonus too at 60%. Now trash mobs isn’t speed bumps while leveling, heroes and bosses are. So no matter what pet build you are playing - single target DPS will be more valuable.

Conclusion. And feel free to disagree, I’d be happy to be proven wrong if I am! So I very much want and hope for counterarguments…

My opinion is - If playing any build with skeletons, tsunami is the superior choice early on for leveling faster. Nighttalon too. Both of these outclass shepard’s call and fiend both. If playing a build w/o skeletons, tsunami loses its value somewhat because the bruiser mobs like briar and hound are way better off with fiend as these mobs are melee and the fiend proc lasts longer. For any non skeleton pet build I’d go fiend first and then talon. I wouldn’t go shepard’s call before lvl30-40 personally.

It would take a hell of a niche build for me to EVER consider NOT using Shepard’s call in a mid-lategame build. It is very strong with huge scaling potential. However - in the context of leveling - Shepard’s call is - imo - very overrated.

For people with those cheat mods to make characters. I’m confident that it can be proven objectively and not opinionated - that Nighttalon and Tsunami/fiend - are all (depending on summoner combo) superior in efficiency in the early game for someone leveling.

I only play SSF+HC so maybe that context changes things dunno. But I consider Shepard’s call completely unnecessary in normal difficulty for lvl1-50. On the flip side, almost completely mandatory on elite+ in terms of efficiency.

%CDR reduces the CD on devotions as well (even if they are bound to pets). The CD is more like 4.5 sec.

For eg: on my Briarthorn walking sim pet build that is currently in testing and doesn’t even use shep call because I don’t have an active skill to bind it to…

Now, if we are going purely by how strong the procs are at level 1, then I can understand and even agree with your argument.

But, Shep call is 210% dmg and 28% Crit once fully leveled.

Yes, it takes time to get there, but devotions only level up as you use them. So the earlier you get it, the faster it reaches its max potential. And by that time, your pets should have decent amount of OA to make use of the Crit as well. Even if not, the 210% free dmg is still pretty neat. Especially if someone is going for the Ishtak + Tree route (looks at self in the mirror) which leaves you with like +1000% pet dmg in total…

Also, with Bleed, you need RR for it as well. Necromancer on its own doesn’t provide that. And even then, unless you are going for a bleed build specifically (mogdrogen route works as a level up option instead of Ishtak and was my preferred once upon a time), you most likely won’t be going for nighttalon.

I can however understand the argument for it as it could be considered as something that starts out strong, but falls off later on unless you build for it. So kind of like the opposite of buff procs like shep call.

Now, as for procs, they are pretty powerful regardless of the stage of the game. But there isn’t really anything stopping anyone from taking those in tandem with stuff like shep call. There is no need to choose one or the other when you can have both.

But one still need to consider whether they want the most straightforward path to the final build or if they want to experiment and level up procs they may or may not be using in the final build.

So, if you level up Tsunami only to spec out of it later on, that is not an issue per se, but you are left with a skill fully leveled up but remains unused.

Shep call’s versatility comes from being universally useful for any pet build. So, you are never left with the above situation.

I suppose I am praising the constellation for its versatility then, rather than its actual power. Atleast, this is my thought and reasoning for recommending the devo in general and as a leveling constellation.


This was what I was going to suggest.

You’re also underestimating the worth of 60% pet damage minimum during the early levels.

For starters, +% pet damage that you can find on gear is low at this time, lower than you’d expect e.g. Karvor’s Conjuring Bone or pre-16 Subjugator’s. You’re also at a point where you’re looking for it wherever you can from affixes which can often also be muddled by pet health affixes and don’t have the skill points to pick up auras yet. The +60% pet damage that will increase as you level it is huge during this time and it continues to grow and stay a steady source of it, and during the mid-levels when you can start picking up +% pet OA, the crit bonus starts to come into it’s own as well.

Not really. As that +65% Fire damage is more specific on what it effects and is static. A default Briarthorn with no additional/outside Fire damage won’t gain any benefit from it, the Hellhound will only benefit from about half due to it’s damage being split Physical-Fire. Until you pick up a Korvaak’s Burning-Blade which may not be for a long time, Shepherd’s Call just offers more damage than Fiend’s nodes.

Flame Torrent’s (or Tsunami for that matter) worth is harder to measure as it is only applied by one pet whereas Shepherd’s Call increases the damage of all of them. It’s generally beneficial to a pet player early on to prioritise getting multiple pets up and running alongside getting your easy-to-apply resist reduction sources and flat damage sources as you logically and ideally want a good number of pets for a basic foundation and your damage buffs that you provide to apply to as many of them as possible in decent amounts to see the best returns on damage output.

Now with that said, I won’t say that these only-one-pet devotion binds are strictly bad either - Blizzard, Fissure, Meteor Shower, Whirlpool and many others have historically been powerful in bolstering pets in the right scenarios, and some of the most offensive pet builds I’ve seen like sigatrev’s often take multiple. But for the reasons I mentioned above, I would prioritise Shepherd’s Crook early on above them. The only exception was old Flame Torrent due to the fact that multiple Skeletons could proc it way more times than intended (like up to 10 times or something crazy), but this has long since been fixed so it’s not as potent anymore.


I’m in the middle of something so I don’t have time to make a proper reply. But yeah, my opinion was only in the context of early game leveling. I didn’t claim (in the post that got locked or this one) that Shepard’s call is a bad devotion. Only that I thought it isn’t optimal early on. Maybe that was the confusion in the other thread - people thinking I meant the devotion was bad.

1 Like

Even for leveling I find it op. Playing a pet build now and damn… Shepherd is the best T1 devo!
Some nerf would be nice. :scorv:


Damn it Maska! :rofl:

Seriously though… single target damage and AOE is what you need in the early leveling.
Even if Shepard’s call gave a constant 1000% damage increase, with skeletons Tsunami proc would be faster for clear.

Any damage dealt more than necessary to kill a mob in 1 hit, is useless. The exception being heroes and bosses that is.

That’s implying you kill enemies in early game. :wink:
Super top pro player gamer :tm: strats are just doing quests and killing bosses for the most efficient leveling! :smiley:


What?! Are you telling me that people usually do not level ignoring exp pots and exp gear, killing everything, and exploring the entire map - each time on each character on each difficulty?

Not even kappa lol. I do this…

1 Like

I did full map clears on every character for the full couple hundred hours, but not any more, it grows tiring after awhile :sweat_smile:


Shepherd’s call is pretty strong pets proc. Usually provides substantial boost to %all damage to pets. And it’s fairly important, since even with some conversions, you’re still dealing rainbow damage types. So %boost is always helpful.

For leveling can be useful, since any early level gear have abysmal damage bonuses. Even for non-pets skill ranks and devotions are more potent. Now for certain pet builds, I would still go T1 like Tsunami or Fiend but after that Shepherd. Also XP potion expedites devotion procs leveling as well, so you can reach higher levels faster.


Don’t forget the proc also gives oa to the player! Those sick early game crits man! :smirk:

1 Like


I… do not…

I actually just rushed to the bosses in a beeline for my guide (only time I actually leveled up chars legit…)


Sheperds call is great t1 devotion I dont quite see why it is in the same category as tsunami or fiend as SC is player exclusive to bind so I tend to use it on DEE Pox or CoF while still having Guardian gaze on blightfiend and twin fangs or aetherfire on skelies. pets have huge advantage over player as they mostly receive all damage bonuses so You can mix damage types widely and still be very effective. I would see much more relevant comparison in Bysmiels Command vs SC both player bound only. In conclusion I would recommend SC in all early pet based builds, later to be replaced by Howl of Mogdrogen.

Hm… question, why replace?

SC is 5 purple for 5 points and a great pet devo. Moggy needs 15 purple points. So why spec out of SC?

Do you use a devo setup where SC can’t be included due to lack of points? Or is it due to not wanting to use another active skill to proc the devo?

1 Like

Yes in case You need to (dont have many player based skills) otherwise I would keep both too.

1 Like

Hi Kaelthas. This was the problem in the other post, and in this one seemingly (does anyone actually read my posts?).

I was talking about Shepard’s call in the sole context as an early game leveling devotion - to newer players especially. If a new player plays the game, no exp pots, and “baseline” leveling (not veteran GD player zooming through it all). Then tsunami for skeletons, and/or nighttalon, and fiend if conjurer - are vastly superior to Shepard’s call. Again - in the context for newer players or players leveling up “slow and normally”.

I never stated that Shepard’s call is a bad devotion. Shepard’s call is undisputedly an S tier devotion for pet builds. But for newer player and/or for early game leveling, tsunami, fiend and even nighttalon - are all superior when leveling up from lvl1-30/40ish.

If you play skeletons with a fresh account and you do everything and explore everything for example, tsunami is the best first devotion you can get. Due to the massive proc frequency and AOE coverage, and Nighttalon for single target.

In the very early game 1-30ish - Shepard’s call simply is not effective. It starts off with a 40% avg increased damage. FLAT DAMAGE is SUPERIOR to % damage increase early on. And with skeletons, for single target damage, DOT damage is superior. Flat dot damage with % dot damage for fiend and nighttalon, is providing vastly more dps in this case even for % damage.

So to conclude. I never stated Shepard’s call was bad. It’s pretty much a must have for pet builds imo. It’s just that for new players, or players that enjoy leveling a new character vanilla or SSF style w/o exp pots, those devotions are all superior to SC early on.

Edit: If we had 4 completely new players playing GD. And all 4 of them were suggested tsunami, fiend, shepard’s call and nighttalon - to choose 2 of these. I would bet my left kidney, that the players being recommended shepard’s call - would be the last players to get to fort ikon in normal.

I wouldn’t bet my kidney on that, first % dmg is actually better early
going from 0 to 100% is +100% damage, going from 1000% to 1100% is just +10% more damage.

also it depends on the pet, if the focus is on hellhound, fiend will be best, skeletons are best with aetherfire since it has no cooldown, but briarthorn gets double benefits from shepherd’s call because of retaliation.
The oa from SC can also be useful for using assassin’s mark if the build is physical.
If tsunami is not in final build crystals are wasted and the small possible gain can be returned later by having the proper devotions already leveled up.

1 Like

In my experience, investing in early AoE for Pets doesn’t really speed up things much at all. Even if you can kill trash a little faster this won’t fix the main issue of clearing the whole map while leveling as a new player: your movement speed. You don’t have good move speed early in the game and getting trash out of the way is already easy enough. As a new player, you also have no idea where things are on the map so exploring takes an insane amount of time, regardless. The difference in time spent leveling will be minuscle.

Later on, if you respec out of your AoE devotion because it no longer fits your build then you will have wasted a ton of experience and time leveling a devotion that won’t serve any purpose. And you will need to spend a lot longer trying to get Shepherd’s Call to a reasonable level while everything around is a lot stronger. This means that you will clear things slightly faster early on but when you respec in the mid game things will become super slow because now you are stuck with a very weak skill that takes some time to get to a decent power. This pretty much invalidates any time saved early on.

Investing in AoE is fine and it is a thing that i do often in devotions. However, i’d rather take the devotion procs that will matter for the late game in the beggining so i don’t have to waste time leveling them up later. I always invest into one AoE and get Shepherd’s Call as well.


Thing about damage in normal and early game, is that for speed it really only helps against heroes and bosses no? I mean… if your skeleton archer deals 300 damage against a target with 200 life, the 100 overkill is kinda meaningless.

I mean… I could be utterly wrong in all this. I admit that. But from my own leveling experiences, skeletons with tsunami feels way faster than fiend. Skeletons with nighttalon way more effective against heroes and bosses. Shepard’s call… every time I’ve leveled with it, it feels slower early on.

I always respec into SC some time before elite though. But for the first 6-8 hours when playing through normal I feel like SC doesn’t pull its weight.

I’m not sure if this has minor relevance or huge relevance. But I don’t use exp pots to level, I kill and explore everything. On every character (Hardcore OCD completionist). So maybe the perception of efficiency here is mostly based on different playstyles - I don’t know.

I don’t think skeleton archers are so powerful they one-shot most mobs, also
I would never start with nighttallon, because then I’m not leveling any proc. I might be interested in
tsunami when doing a lightning/cold build but those are not very common pet damages.
for elemental builds SC will get you to rhowan’s crown quicker, which is more important
for physical builds you get to maul of the bear faster without wasting stats and you likely use briarthorn then anyway.
for fire/chaos builds, fiend gets you to solaels witchfire quicker, so all in all, tsunami would rarely be my first choice and nighttalon never.

1 Like