V1.1.8.0 Mastery Combo Discussion

With previous successes in community discussion on upcoming balance changes, I’d like to bring up the topic of our next focus, one I must emphasize will be challenging.

Given the nature of how masteries are designed and their inherent compatibilities and incompatibilities, creating a perfect balance between all combinations is not a realistic goal. Nonetheless, it is still desirable that competitive options exist for all of them.

This is not a trivial problem to solve as any changes to skill or item balance can have cascading repercussions that can oftentimes end up buffing a playstyle that’s already strong, or not actually addressing the inherent imbalances between mastery combinations but instead just shifting their relative numbers up/down.

As such, we do not expect everyone to have strong insight into this topic nor be able to provide a solution. It’s still good to have a discussion though, and if you find yourself stumbling for a means to contribute, you can always start your own balancing topic in this forum. :smiley:

Now, for the topic of discussion…

For v1.1.8.0, we would like to review various mastery combinations and, where possible, improve their relative balance. Mastery combo tier lists have been a thing since the beginning of time, and everybody has their own opinion on where various combinations fall, but there is little debate that certain combinations are often on top, and others on the bottom. This is to be expected as some masteries have natural synergy while others are almost polar opposites that require investing in specific gear to make compatible.

Addressing this will be no simple matter as we are not in a position to introduce dozens of new items or completely change mastery skills. We are working within the confines of existing itemization and as such must tread carefully so as not to create new imbalances down the line.

Realistically, some of the outliers that always perform really well may need to be brought back to the middle, and the underperformers then bumped up to fill that power gap. Nobody likes nerfs, but they are a valuable tool when handled properly and should not be disregarded, especially when dealing with such a sensitive balancing act as an ARPG’s itemization. You can do your part by contributing constructively and objectively so that the most appropriate changes can be made and more build variety achieved!

Note that we may not agree with every suggestion, particularly suggestions for How combinations should see a bump.

Please be considerate of others posters and, as usual, set reasonable expectations. Posts that stray off-topic may be moved to their own threads or deleted so this discussion stays on track.

Following the guidelines from the Posting Feedback thread applies:


Keeping this in mind, I’d like to look at the following modifiers and how they apply to Battlemage:

Increasing the Freeze Reduction to more than 30% would allow Battlemages to make use of the resistance reduction on Olexra’s Flash Freeze and Absolute Zero for massively increased damage in short bursts on Bosses and Nemeses. I think it’d be a step in the right direction.

To keep it from being a little over-the-top or breaking out into other areas, I’d say the -15% Physical resistance should be removed entirely and that the -20% Reduced Freeze Reduction applied by the Luminari Regalia set should be reduced/removed as well to prevent large-scale stacking of Freeze reduction in an albeit niche set up that uses both the set and Conduit together.

Thoughts on this from other players?


There’s nothing to prevent non-battlemage classes from using that. So it would be the same old story: even if it supports battlemage, a half dozen other classes would use it better


Ok, that’s sounds epic and there’re a lot of stuff to begin with…
But i’d rather better start with not-so-obvious holes SABOTEUR SUCKS in balance.
It’s the fact, that all acid itemisation revolt around oathkeeper mastery.
So the problems (imo) are following:

  1. No acid belt with +1 to NB or Occ. Yet NB is very point-hungry mastery.
  2. Acid gear and devotions severly lacks any CC, which leaves ascension as the only solution.
  3. Acid gear and devotions severly lacks %crit damage, to the point, when it’s better in terms of DPS to have exactly 0% crit damage and as less OA as possible. Which would be completely fine (diversity and stuff), but there’re numerous acid items that have %change on crit proc, give %crit damage or tonns of OA, and yet, there is no way to truly develop the build in this route, so which again leaves us with OK.
  4. Occultist have tonns of procs, yet very feeble support for melee, and such thing as poison caster simply doesn’t exist, because a) only one devotion with %poison damage. b) It’s extremly hard to acquire enough %poison duration.
  5. Both acid sets (let’s forget that deathguard exists) - supports OK + NB or OK + Occ far better, than Occ + NB. Venomblade witch hunter is just Venomblade dervish, but worse.
  • DEE is still below mediocre. You are forcing it to be a spam skill yet it has pretty awful inherent mechanics to become a decent spam skill (low aoe, lack of pierce thru, abundance of dot damage instead of straight damage). Even PRM builds end up being very good, but not god-tier and that is when very carefully min-maxed and with huge investments into the skill itself. And DEE is couple of levels below PRM. There is also a problem that Witch Hunters and Sentinels are naturally not very good as stand still and spam casters (compare it Mage Hunters or Binders for example).
    Suggestion: rework DEE to become a big nuke with big dots and good aoe, something like BWC (except less aoe and more nuke)
  • Occultist mastery bar provides poor stats and hp. Even with full investment HP and DA values are less than ideal. Oh, and there is always an energy problem.
    Suggestion: Buff Occultist mastery bar a bit. Add Energy regeneration somewhere (Second Rite for example)
  • Constant nerfs to a melee meta have left it in a weird place. Like remember that time you have removed flat damage from devotions? And also nerfed Ghoul? And nerfed Belgo? And Deathmarked? And Reaver Claws? And removed flat from Dreeg’alanore? Endgame becomes harder every patch (aggro fix had a lot to do with it), playing melee is always a fight for survival while a lot of well put together casters just cruise thru content. Some melee archetypes just can’t find any means of flat damage and adequate leech.
    Suggestion: ugh, where to start. A lot of stuff can be done to help melee cause. Some of the more radical ideas: somehow letting melee builds have higher max cc-res. Less radical ones: just give them back their flat damage and weapon damage toys that you have been taking away from them every patch
  • Don’t be afraid to give the weakest classes the most overpowered toys. I am talking about Sabouters, Elementalists, Defilers. Good example: what you did with Garga pistol. Is item overpowered after latest patches? Hell yeah, it’s crazy. Is dual Garga Defiler an op content destroyer? No, it’s a strong build but definitely not among top builds or gamebreaking.
    Suggestion: some creative and super strong sets meant only for those classes could be introduced. Like Nex and Ortus could be united with Elemental Harmony ring set or something. There are definitely things that could help the cause of the weak, anti-synergetic class combos

Will think of more stuff later.


I actually enjoy the masteries the way they are. Yes, there are some combos that are a challenge to get to work together, but that is just it - A CHALLENGE.

I would hate GD to become another dumbed down ARPG that is better suited to mobiles or consoles. There is tons of crap out there that caters for this.

In my opinion it would becomes super boring if you move top tiers down and bottom tiers up. You would basically end up with something like D3 whereby no matter what classes you choose you will have an “Uber Cookie Cutter” build and everyone will almost most certainly equip the same items for said combo.

The thrill is finding those weird synergies on the deliberate classes you have chosen and a mix of weak and strong class builds is a good thing in the game that provides a very diverse play thru with each character created.

As in life “ALL THINGS ARE NEVER EQUAL” - imagine how mundane and staid life would be if it this was the case.


True but there’s nothing that can really be done about that conundrum if changing skills is off the table at this stage. The main problem with Battlemage that people often bring up is having it deal enough damage and lack of resist reduction is one of the core issues of that.

Battlemage still needs to be able to deal enough damage in and of itself to be satisfactory, even if other combinations will beat it out in that field. On the flip side, the combination has a lot of defense going for it as one of it’s major plus points.

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well, let me say my expressions and thoughts about some underperforming classes or those who just need a bit of love through itemization etc.

the first one is Battlemage. I made this build long ago and I’m still working on it but the performance of phys Battlemage (as aether one is ± nice) still needs a lot of improvements.
this is the best run so far https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF6nzw1FDRI, and more average are about 6:15-6:30 etc. Which is super-slow still compared to the majority of builds.
what can be done to this particular set? actually, it desperately needs some more %phys and IT damage, and the main problem is that 1h BA is good only for clearing trash mobs. Set is also lacks +to masteries severely, so adding one more +1 to Soldier/Arcanist won’t hurt it any way. As for RR, any -%RR proc would be welcomed to it. And resists can be shuffled a bit - replace vit res on shield with ele/aether, add phys res etc.

Next one is Pyromancer. Class with a lot of possible combinations but a bit underperforming nevertheless.
I made these two builds (both Chaos-based) https://www.grimtools.com/calc/aZq9q39Z and https://www.grimtools.com/calc/mN4EG3m2. The problem with the 1st one is that its main skill is Doom Bolt that lacks AoE completely. Adding in-built radius to the skill will hepl greatly. Second one is based on Chaos Mortars and they’re weaker than Pyran still, lol. So probably adding some more flat and lightning->chaos conversion can help.

Elementalist. I actually can hardly remember any elementalist rather than Cyclone one (here GT of mine: https://www.grimtools.com/calc/Q2zx3DjZ). Cyclone has suffered multiple nerfs, and the problem of this build is actually that it’s a caster w/o Arcanist mastery and w/o any circuit breakers except of Blast Shield, so it gets demolished in SR75-76, I wasn’t able to complete is even with many deaths as it’s super-frustrating. I actually dunno what can be done. Maybe give it some damage back (the conversion on gloves, e.g.)
As for other setups, I had a Blazerush ele, and the weapon itself needs tweaking like adding global 100% lightning->fire conversion or as a mod for Savagery, not the Upheaval.\

Defiler. Melee ones, I mean. Ranged defiler is one of the best builds in the game.
But melee … we have Blazehearts with their redundant RR on SS and I ask again: please, mobe it to Ill Omen so the build could get a 2x1 boost: better RR spread and damage reduction that is vital for such setups.
Aether melee defiler also has small options. Maybe tweak M. Dreadfires a bit and change the convesrion to ele-> aether.

Reaper, especially Deathguard, could also get some love. Like damage mod to BH of RR proc same as on Vileblade.

Skills …

Stun Jacks. Please, add some WD mods to it or ADctH. Playing such a skill with only Bat as way of sustaining is pure pain.

Vindictive Flame/Ulzuin’s Wrath. Make it work on casts too, increase base damage. Auromancers CAN get some love as now they’re the weakest possible archetype in the game.

Grenade. The worst Demo skill. Needs a freaking ocean of skillpoints and is outperformed by everything. Suggest increasing its speed, damage, radius, everyting.

Fighting Spirit. Lower the CD to 8 sec, now it’s almost a;ways a 1-pointer even with CDR.

Bone Harvest. Maybe replace Terrify on Dread node with %crit damage, just thoughts.

Devouring Swarm. Worst RR in the game. Change its template to Omen’s or Pox’ one, reduce RR value a bit.

Phantasmal Blades. Overnerfed. I suggest returning the 50% damage penalty to it and moving pierce->vit conversion to Demonslayer set so all possible build can take the transmuter w/o penalty and conversion. Harra set is also still weak, tbh.


Whenever this kinda thread pops up everyone always talks about battlemage or saboteur or defiler or apostate but no one really pays attention to the actual weakest class in the game - COMMANDO. Wtf does commando do? Fire? Every demo main spell is better suited for sorc or shieldbreakers or purifiers. Soldier is nit a fire oriented mastery and thus its skills will almost always be better utilized on a physical oriented class. Commando has decent phys support through soldier and temper but then the main point of a demo as a secondary class is agonizing flames and it’s redundant with break morale. There is fire forcewave and even though Tactician is obviously better on a QoL standpoint, commando has all the support through Sharzul mace and justicar that if forcewave becomes actually as good as other skills, commando might just be viable in that one niche.

Edit: turrion exists but since the nerf I don’t think it’s as good as other retal builds.


it’s true that Commando is truly viable in olny 1 build but fire FW commando is far better that Tactician and Warlord.
I can’t say it’s the weakest class (as it’s not) but probably the one with the most limited variations to build around.


Like afanasenkov pointed out, Commando’s main point ironically is anything Soldier-oriented and Fire, main ones being Fire Forcewave and to a lesser extent Fire Blade Arc. But yeah, you’re right that Commando could be looked at as well.


I think this ranking by @Stupid_Dragon is great way to start the discussion:

Class combo ranking

  • Tactician class needs more dedicated gear , it’s fallen behind on options.

  • Commando class it’s actually pretty bad mow. Forcewave on CD focused on burn it’s really bad in my experience. So I would like to see focus on the physical aspect of this class. Physical RR to mines mod for example. Also retal have one decent option - Turrion BWC but retal Commando can have more options available.

  • Battlemage/DK. Again they used to be good with introduction of Krieg set but nowadays are below average .

  • Apostate. Usually substituting one of the classes for Arcanist will net better results. I would like to see support towards aether FoI or Pain Apostate. Bonemonger is nice set but it’s purely end game and the class lacks diversity.

  • Elementalist class is strong offensively and lacks every possible resistance, defense and stat in general.

  • So Soldier class despite being Swiss army knife of stats is actually part of some underwhelming class combos. I would say these days Soldier isn’t worth it as support class most of the time.

  • Arcanist class was weak for long time but these days you can make the case of it’s too powerful.

  • Demo class is also very strong currently. I would say Mines needs different scaling to their RR.

  • Also when nerfing, please consider how many options class combo can have. Binders are masters of aether but they’re limited to aether and one vitality build basically.


That build with OFF and Luminari set is nowhere near being OP at all. It would actually need a buff if anything. Leave it be. But I would like to see increase in -% freeze reduction on that conduit amulet for Arcanist. I already suggested it many times.

this. I’d really appreciate some more support for Elemental Cadence and FW and now they’re limited just by 1 weapon (Malakor/Arcanor). Maybe even new set or just some more love to 3-elemental gear and devotions.


A buff in what regard though? Damage? Survivability? Skill points? etc… I doubt giving it more Freeze reduction is going to make things better more than they’ll make things worse :stuck_out_tongue: I don’t see a build walking around with -75% Freeze RR as a good thing whether the rest of it is weak or strong.

You can obviously build around canisters or bwc with a commando and do well. But then that’s the same disease as battlemage. Build an AAR battlemage and you’ll do good, but binder is waaaay better. Fixing commando is easier in theory. Just buff forcewave and we’re set. But really I would like a more unique style for commando. Dunno if crate will still release more sets but a phys or fire retal set with commando support would be nice.

I would like to see some fire retal support, tho.


Probably too vague and unfocused for the topic, but the majority of ranged AA builds that don’t include Demo for fire strike feel very underwhelming on the damage front. Will add examples as I dig them up as I’ve basically pigeonholed on making ranged shooters.

RF obviously has the retal angle + jaxxon, not sure where that stands after it was brought in line. Taking an otherwise fire focused purifier/shieldbreaker build over to paladin results in a huge damage loss. I don’t think RF is hard required to leverage retal as I’ve seen a handful of acid RF builds perform fine.

There is one rah’bringer combo posted that can get by thanks to double set synergy and the set AA that isn’t hard tied to melee/ranged. This leads into another limiter around how you can manipulate damage types on AA, aether specifically. There are a handful of conduits that can adjust damage to aether, but the primary aether supported AA set is bonemonger, which also uses the necklace slot.

Savagery is just in a weird spot for guns. Vindicator is basically the go to, but everything else falls off and my last doodles for Vindi savagery didn’t look great either as damage was low. The aether conduit options as mentioned are very hard to gear for, cold has pretty awful gun support if you try to use 2 piece korba set for something different.

Any time I’ve run savagery or RF I’ve also felt the need to grab a passthrough gun (i.e. dagallon) to at least get some AoE clear potential. It’s still a shadow of what even non-passthrough firestrike can do with explosive strike+brimstone, but can at least help QoL if you can live with slow kill times.

Primal Strike is showing potential with passthrough (<3 shaman on VoS), will try afterwards with non-passthrough but I don’t think results will be great.

So to summarize this rambling mess: passthrough damage types are limited and feel required on non-Demo firestrike ranged. Damage type conversion feels more hamstrung due to missing conversion or AA attacks that are only found on melee weapons or melee focused sets (e.g. chaos to lightning on anything not firestrike is impossible, making occultist a stretch outside one rah’bringer set combo; aether strikes on theodin melee weapon). Conduit conversion options block most AA sets. Cold AA ranged weapon choices have awful skill itemization.


Yep and that is why I never play with acid damage.

I agree.


Give War Cry flat RR to everything instead of just physical. And rework that awful skill modifier.

Hardly. Freeze RR is not as powerful as you think.

I absolutely hate that skill and refuse to play with it. Make it spread like Bloody Pox.

And as always NERF retal damage and vitality leeches. I hate how strong they are. One of the reasons I never play them.

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@x1x1x1x2 @afanasenkov26 Would giving Retaliation added to Attack to Vindictive Flame be too outlandish? Maybe on a specific item like Colossal Fortress.

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