What does Battlemage do better than other classes?

Foreword: I’m making this thread purely for optimization purposes. I am very much a firm believer of “just play whatever you enjoy”, and I’m not trying to dictate what someone should or shouldn’t play, nor am I trying to discredit anyone posting builds on this forum (If anything, Strannik deserves a special mention for proving how versatile the class can be). Battlemage was my first hardcore character I’ve brought to 60, then 85, and subsequently 100 with AoM. Between massive constant absorption from Menhir’s Bulwark and Maiven’s, with a huge safety net between Mirror, Menhir’s Will and Nullification, it was, at the time, the safest character I could come up with for taking it slow and exploring everything without the risk of dying. What started off as a failed Callidor’s Tempest character eventually evolved into a somewhat cookie cutter Krieg’s Cadence build, which was later retired due to poor campaign choices (enemies with Kymon’s, Outcast & Barrowholm) and ultimately replaced by a much stronger Death Knight using the same concept.

I’ve had my fun exploring Battlemage. Now I’m trying to figure out if there’s anything it actually does better than other classes on the high end.
“If not just for fun or arbitrary reasons, why play Battlemage rather than [X]?”

Most physical builds fall flat.
Battlemage can’t compete with Witchblade, which has a much better array of bonuses than Arcanist can provide JUST between Curse & Blood. Additionally, a single point in Bloody Pox is absolutely amazing for triggering devotions (especially Assassin’s Mark).
Physical Death Knights are harder to gear due to a scarcity of acid res (which is normally alleviated by picking Occult), but still retain immense physical damage potential between additional weapon pool skills, and potentially additional resist reduction with Stonewall Defender (although I’ve not spent enough time trying to optimize the lack of resistances with a Warborn/Stonewall build). And you get yet another awesome devotion skill in Ravenous Earth.
Both of these aren’t just limited to Cadence either. Physical Forcewave is still best with mass resist reduction, from what I can tell.
Tacticians get an honorable mention, too, because you can never go wrong with Octavius set + Rune of Hagarrad. As if a basic Soldier standing inside an Inquisitor Seal wasn’t already strong enough.

The obvious outlier is The Spellscourge set (that Superfluff has proven to be effective), which marries Overguard shield builds with the nuking power of Devastation. The Aeon’s Hourglass variant of this build is strong, especially effective in Crucible, and surprisingly safe if you throw in a Mark of the Voracious One and Ghoul. It’s also clunky as hell outside of Crucible, and even IN crucible I’ve found myself wishing that I were playing a Witchblade or Spellbinder instead of some sort of questionable amalgamation between the two.

Optimizing for Cadence is difficult due to several factors, the most prevalent ones being a lack of phys res reduction making Deathstalker very attractive and thus excluding usage of Doom, as well as general gearing difficulties regarding attack speed. If I optimize for Cadence without unreasonably sacrificing Devastation, I’m only hitting an average (grimtools) weapon damage of 11k after buffs, while a Witchblade easily exceeds 17k on average (and that’s before Overguard etc.). On top of the lower damage output, the Battlemage can’t use the weapon damage nearly as well due to a lower amount of resist reduction and difficulties trying to utilize Targo’s Hammer. If I start sacrificing Devastation, the build just ends up being a weaker Cadence Witchblade with an Arcanist flavor.
And it’ll still be clunky to play because Assassin’s Mark and Flame Torrent are both competing for Cadence, while the only other option for triggering either of them is Devastation. Component skills are questionable here, too, if Cadence is supposed to be a main damage source. The conversion away from physical just hurts the damage potential.

Then there’s the option of using weapon components (with Seal of the Night being the best one, as illustrated by Superfluff) for damage, but that becomes even clunkier. While the damage on Chillspikes skill is pretty impressive for what it is, the energy cost on it is immense (if somewhat manageable), while the clearing it provides still leaves me wishing for more. Particularly prevalent in campaign, running into a bunch of trash and trying to clear it with just Chillspikes is frustratingly mediocre, while the cooldown on Devastation is STILL just long enough that using it just for trash is overkill.

Elemental damage builds are highly questionable.
While thejabrixone has proven that Discord Cadence isn’t as poorly off as I initially thought it was, Battlemages won’t be anywhere near as strong for several different reasons, so I’ll just throw that option out of the window. The gear support and resistance reduction necessary to make it competitive just aren’t there, and any dual wield memes are wanting for more WPS.

A weird melee caster hybrid that utilizes transmuted Callidor’s Tempest and elemental Blitz, while using a component skill for spam should be doable in theory, but I’m extremely skeptical as to how well it would perform alongside most other builds.

Forcewave is still great, and Arcanist has a bit of a leg-up using this skill compared to others, just by virtue of supplying 24% cast speed between Reckless Power and Mental Alacrity if need be. It still can’t compare to Tactician because Aura of Censure exists, and that’s not even factoring in how powerful Arcanor is, or how ridiculous a 22/12 Inquisitor Seal is (which is easily attained on Arcanor builds).

With Soldier as a secondary mastery, since casters generally don’t utilize heavy armor, the appeal of Field Command and Scars of Battle doesn’t matter nearly as much as it would otherwise. The class doesn’t offer any elemental resist reduction (the resistance reduction from Dreadweaver doesn’t stack when dual wielded and conflicts with Rhowan’s Crown’s Elemental Storm anyhow), and the combination of War Cry and Fighting Spirit is overshadowed by Aura of Censure and Deadly Aim, respectively.

So what about aether damage?
Krieg’s set is the most obvious and probably most effective option here. You’re trading Menhir’s Bulwark and a bunch of HP for Reckless Power, but Maiven’s makes up for it and you gain more conversion. Compared to the Death Knight build I’ve posted further up, Battlemage is essentially just trading resist reduction for Nullification, a good bit more weapon damage, and potentially more crit damage. However, I’d at best consider that a sidegrade. Who knows what Forgotten Gods brings, maybe it’ll end up outperforming DK deeper into the Shattered Realm.

Other builds run into the same issues as physical, and most prominently, elemental builds. Lack of armor limits Soldier’s potential, while lack of resistance reduction (and in the case of dual wielders, lack of WPS) makes you wish you were playing Spellbinder instead.

In closing
I’m still hopeful that Krieg’s Battlemage has the potential to outperform Death Knight if centered around Haunt, and it’s on my list for “new” character projects to play. The concept is already proven to be strong, all that remains is trying to squeeze out as much performance as possible. I also don’t want this thread to center around “Who wears Krieg’s set better?”.

Other than Krieg’s builds, my personal opinion is that Battlemage doesn’t seem to offer anything that other classes don’t simply do better. I’m including Spellscourge because any other Arcanist build that just happens to use Devastation is a lot smoother (and if you really love the spell, mass-devastation builds exist). I want to be wrong about this, and I wish I were missing something obvious, but right now I’m just not seeing it.


What does Battlemage do better than other classes?

Stay alive.

Imo, Spellscourge and Krieg will be the limits for Battlemage. Looking at the RR, physical should be the only naturally viable option, meaning before any item comes in. but 2 of 3 contribution to damage that arcanist offers is a dps loss (IEE and Reckless Power) due to conversion. This is unlike other phys soldiers that don’t have the second RR, the second class still provides significant amount of damage support. Commando with Vindictive flame, Temper and Flane touched (with conversion), Tactician with Steel Resolve, Deadly Aim, Arcane empowerment with conversion, Warder with Brute Force and Savagery+WPS for 2h. Even blademaster does better tho limited to DW. Without spellscourge and Krieg, Battlemage is Defiler tier. And unless Crate decides to add another OP item/set, by OP I mean something that can make another Battlemage build strong by itself, then the current builds will pretty much be what we’ll see until FG. And Crate will probably take care of Sabo and Defiler first, two classes that need their own OP set.

This applies both to the battlemage and his enemies that don’t just die because he doesn’t have damage.

khm, khm, spellbinders. Khm, khm, mage hunters?

I’d disagree. Maiven’s & Bulwark with Mirror to fall back on might sound nice on paper, but when looking deeper into build optimization, Battlemage has a couple of unfilled holes when it comes to true tanking potential. Oleron’s Rage generally outperforms than Menhir’s Bulwark. You’re not a 3k armor Tactician with 700+ flat absorption. Hell, once you reach a certain point of ‘overtanking’ (not factoring in that you’re gonna have awful damage), Wendigo Totem is gonna start offering more survivability than anything in Arcanist’s kit.

I’m not sure Blademaster deserves an “even”. Physical Blademasters are alive and well. I’m playing something akin to this, and it’s still excellent.
Although yes, being limited to dual wield is a little unfortunate.

I’m a big fan of Spellbinder myself, but they can be very punishing if you don’t pay attention. One fuck-up at the wrong time, and you just bite the dust. I won’t argue that a well played Spellbinder is probably the strongest build right now, and definitely unkillable, but that comes with the territory of being difficult to play (in relation to soldiers or demolitionists that just passively refuse to die without much effort).

I’m also a little bit skeptical as to the class’ performance in the upcoming expansion. Infinite scaling is a tough beast to tame. Even ‘weaker’ enemies will eventually start murdering you, even through MoT or Ishtak proc due to a complete absence of armor. It becomes a DPS race, and not having played the expansion, I don’t know what enemy HP/resist/absorb? scaling looks like. I get the feeling that other classes could potentially outperform Spellbinders in the deeper levels of the Shattered Realm, and I’ll definitely make my first attempt with either some Soldier build, or a Stronghold Purifier.

Of course I can’t yet account for any new items that might shift the balance in Spellbinder’s favor yet.

It’s the absolute best class combo at 1h/focus Cadence Devastation build. And honestly there’s not even a close 2nd best at this.

Combining Soldier + Arcanist is like combining Demo + Nightblade; you’re just gimping yourself by not having something crucial to a build. In Saboteur’s case it’s an exclusive skill. In Battlemage’s case, it’s -% resistance.

Anything that Battlemage might be good at compared to another class is overshadowed by the lack of -% resistance. I think that if Battlemage will be better at anything than another class, it has to come from gearing that provides -% resistance.

That being said, Arcanist does have access to Haunt, which is one of the only sources of Life Leech RR outside of a vitality build. That plus Cadence, the highest % weapon damage default attack replacer in the game, makes a compelling build idea, which you’ve already noticed and are working on it sounds like.
That’s the only thing I could come up with that Battlemage does best, although I’m sure there’s something I’ve missed in gearing.

I disagree. I played Spellbinder my steam friend sent me - just an Agrivix build with Anasteria helmet and Star Pact. Was my first time playing a Spellbinder, but it was just unkillable. I messed up rotations so many times but I just couldn’t die no matter how much I was botching it up. I also played (and tweaked a bit) Markovian Witchblade with Shieldmaiden and Menhir’s Obelisk - super tanky, but I would take Spellbinder over it any day for tanking (or for anything else). You should try, can even send you a savefile. Maybe bit dificult to play, but very forgiving.

Spellbinder is the strongest for sure, but sometimes u mess up with timing u got slapped to death, honestly I died 1 every 14 or 15 attemps. I have a WB forcewave too, with 75% physic res hes unkillable and 9-10 mins/4 buffs crucible, feel less headache and less fingers numbness.:p. I tried to build around my BMage too, but hes likely good for nothing, yes this combination of soldier and arcanist is a mehhh, they poorly support each other, I wished BMage would have one more extra skill from sets.

If I touch GD these days I only play cruci. And when I use my binder (Agrivix+Anasteria, no devastation) I only ever use Mirror on Nemesis waves, and Mark every 10th wave, except on superb lag spike where I preemptively use one of them to soak damage while I have no control. Soldier is tankier than that, but the defense is kinda unnecessary and everything feels like a slugfest when I play s&b soldier even though it’s not.

Back to topic: how good would it be for battlemage if the conversion on IEE is moved to transmuter instead of the main skill (might cause some multiplayer issues tho)?

Thanks for your kind words. :smiley:

Well, I was inspired by Fluff’s battle mage build based on Spellscourge set and tried to play around with this concept. After useful discussions and experiments I made it. Could you look at 2 builds of physical caster battle mage and provide your feedback/thoughts on it in context of this topic? :wink:

Mine is a 49% cdr variant with Clairvoyant and Eternity and without Ishtak. The biggest difference to other builds is that I use Arcane Harmony leggings to avoid getting disrupted out of winning a DPS race, the rest is pretty much par for the course.
Grimtools should be up to date, I haven’t changed much in a while. Crafting bonuses don’t show, I believe my stun resist is somewhere around 70%.

I don’t consider the build to be particularly forgiving. Yes, it can confidently tank double Reaper and kill them fast enough that they’ll only reach max charges once before they’re about to die, but that doesn’t mean it has no other weaknesses. While MoT provides very impressive survivability with the sheer amount of damage the build possesses translating into heaps of lifesteal, I’ve still run into some very sketchy situations in Crucible, usually revolving around unlucky resistance stacking (even though most elites die in just over a second) and/or unlucky mutators. Additionally, mistiming a Mirror and not having Time Dilation off cooldown during those crucial moments you absolutely have to hold your ground (because running away would likely kill you due to relying on lifesteal) can and will spell your doom if you’ve got an Iron Maiden on your ass.

I don’t consider Spellbinder a class you can just pick up and play and zone out when the stakes are as high as Crucible 150+ex, and having to rotate a bunch of skills isn’t part of it. The simple fact that your most crucial (and arguably only) defenses are easy to mess up (putting MoT on the wrong target, popping Mirror before Time Dilation) followed by a couple of seconds downtime is a deal breaker in that regard (and honestly part of the reason I wouldn’t go out of my way to call the class as overpowered as many seem to think it is).
It can be done, it scales very well with player skill, but it’s also a little stressful and requires a decent bit of getting used to (timing wise). High as the reward of playing such a powerful build may be, I’d also consider the possibility of dying in under a second just because I zoned out for a moment to be a very high risk, in a hardcore context. If that means I’m not a very good player, then so be it; relying on passive defenses has always been my favored playstyle, partially because skills like Mirror become nigh unusable if you play multiplayer on a 200-300ms latency with mobs rubber-banding and/or nuking you out of nowhere.
If you want forgiving, try 3.4k DA on a shield Demo with Stone Form bound to Blast Shield. You don’t even need block stats, Blast Shield confers a 100% activation rate.

Unless you can propose a fundamentally different gear/devotion setup with much better passive safeguards and without sacrificing significant amounts of damage, I doubt I’ll be able to call Spellbinder ‘forgiving’.
Also you don’t have to go through the effort of uploading the save file, a grimtools should suffice.

I’ll have to fiddle around with it when I’m at the desktop, but just looking at the grimtools I already love it, just for the simple fact that you’re using Doom + Earthshatter treads, which should solve most of the trash clearing on its own.

I have some issues with the skill setup though:
Markovian’s Defense is absolute garbage and belongs in the trash. You’d only neglect Maiven’s if you’re hurting for damage and can’t overcap it far enough to get rid of the penalty. This is the same, but much worse – and you’re neglecting Maiven’s? Even with the gear bonuses to Overguard, I’m pretty sure you’re losing damage.
You’re not relying on cast speed enough to where Mental Alacrity becomes relevant. I’d keep it at 3/10 and solve the energy problems elsewhere.
Scars of Battle is nice, but Maiven’s gets priority once your armor absorb hits 100%.
Overcapped Field Command and Military Conditioning are whatever. You want to max War Cry.

You could also free up a couple of points here and there and maybe invest in Blindside for DA shred. 4/10 Nullification should be enough. Conversion scales poorly past 6/10, and basically just not at all past 9/10. Fighting Spirit is nice for the activation chance, but not important to invest in if you have no devotions bound to it (for example, I like Bard’s Harp with Fighting Spirit). You could also can the one point in Veterancy.

6/16 Menhir’s Will might also be worth considering for the extra 10% heal for cheap.

I’d probably end up with the skills looking similar to this. Also I hate the medal but I’m not sure what to do about gear atm. Oh yeah and swap your augment in weapon/shield. Flat damage does nothing on the shield.

EDIT: In hindsight, max War Cry probably won’t be necessary with the Light of Empyrion devotion setup. Point still stands for the offensive one though.

Thanks for feedback. I will take a closer look at the build later.

It would help to a small, barely relevant degree.
Full conversion builds would love it, regardless of damage type. The problem is that such a small change doesn’t suddenly make physical Battlemages powerful, while aether Arcanists in general (not just Krieg BM) just get a slight damage boost.
The biggest problem is that elemental Battlemages probably struggle the most, and they potentially get shafted by having access to even less conversion than before, at a higher skill point cost.

I was talking about Agrivix spellbinder. I think it’s more tanky than Clairvoyant because of constant CT spam that translates into more adtch. Looking at your build I think you should be doing just as great, but I also think that you are missing out on easy survivability buff by not taking Ravager’s Eye as weapon/off-hand augment. Another advice (but take it with a grain of salt, since I only played spellbinder as gdstashed char) is to find points for Necromancer mastery and bind Time Dilation to Reap Spirit so you don’t miss out on DPS and don’t get confused whether it’s time to cast CT or not.

Something like this. But again, I am not sure how much of a damage boost is Soul Harvest in your build, so I might be wrong with my suggestion here.

I know you haven’t asked for build advice, but I just can’t help myself when I see grimtools link :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t necessarily call it more tanky, but it’s undoubtedly more consistent, rather than bursty. Though I personally find that the Clairvoyant build’s “passive” damage output with Fiend & Spear devotions is more than enough to lifesteal from when sufficiently surrounded.

Ravager’s eye is indeed nice, and absolutely my default choice on any other character. I chose against using it for this build, because resistances are so damn tight. Everything Malmouth’s Soul gives basically fits the build perfectly. Additionally, it’s very difficult to properly DA stack. I don’t consider increasing my DA worthwhile if I can’t get crit anyway, and going higher only grants me a 20% chance to evade or whatever. Consistent damage doesn’t kill this build anyway, the lifesteal is too big for that. Sudden bursts are the biggest problem, and 20% dodge is too situational to help alleviate that. If I could hit 3300 DA (before buffs/banners) I would consider it, but I’ve tried that and ended up losing too much damage. Most of the gear is simply too set in stone, at least with Clairvoyant.

As far as Soul Harvest is concerned, you can just look at the weapon damage numbers in the GT. The one I linked is 13.5-14.5k, while the one you linked drops down to 10.5-11.5k. That’s pretty substantial, given that weapon damage is a pretty important portion of my damage.
The highest I’d level Necro is 40 for Blood Boil’s OA shred. Reap Spirit might be the best skill for triggering Time Dilation, but I’m not losing out on much damage by holding my CT every now and again. Devastation, Bone Harvest, and devotions already deal immense amounts of damage. Chances are, if I meet something that doesn’t die to just those, I’d want to use Time Dilation anyhow. If I really were hurting for damage, I’d just use Agrivix’s Malice instead of Eternity.
Plus, if I really wanted another option for Time Dilation, I’d just take a point in Trozan’s.

I still appreciate the sentiment though, even if I’ve already tried most of the suggestions before :smiley: I’m definitely tempted to try and make Ishtak work again with a more defensive setup, but I still fear that winning the DPS race before enemies can stack up nasty debuffs is more important. I’d rather leave the tank’n’spank playstyle to 3.4k DA 500+ absorption tanks.

Well, it seems like you got most of your stuff battle tested, so I got nothing to add. Except just from personal experience playing builds that have below ~2900-3000 DA before Ulzuin’s Pact is out of my comfort zone so maybe I would try and get that pierce resist elsewhere (I am sure you can squeeze it in).

BTW, what about Eternal Haunt + Albrecht’s Duality versus Magelords?

Well-rolled Magelord rings can reach a total of 60% elemental to aether. I first started using them when I tried to make Phantom-Thread belt work and had to come by more conversion, but I couldn’t pass up the resists on Violent Decay belt. Fire conversion is obviously overkill in this case, but elemental isn’t. Swapping the rings loses about 1k weapon damage, with a less obvious damage loss on Spear of the Heavens’ remaining lightning damage.

Eternal Haunt’s resist reduction [b]might/b make a difference against particularly resistant targets, but ends up simply being clunky in campaign play where kill speed is only limited by how long it takes enemies to run into your meat grinder. The debuff just doesn’t make a difference there.

Albrecht’s Duality also allows full conversion for really, really painful Agrivix’s Malice procs, which probably adds more offensive potential than Eternity offers.
I personally never considered it because I find that Eternity offers that last little bit of extra safety for ticking down mirror cooldowns, but your suggestion seems effective. Malice + Duality is gonna be harder to play, but I’d also imagine it’s bound to have faster clear times. I’d still much rather use it on spam CT though. Maybe I’m just bad at piloting :rolleyes: