Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Converting a storm call totem build to crit

I got an interesting message in two parts today. This particular friend of mine comes up with weirder builds than I do, but I have more that reach endgame. I suspect this has to do with what we consider finished - he just drops characters when he's bored of the concept, and I push it through to either success at lower maps or failure somewhere along the line. Please note that I am not saying either style is better or worse: I'm pretty sure he's also played more different builds than I have, and I have this whole backlog of things I want to do but can never find the time to...

This is the second part of the message. Commentary on the first part in another post, but there's more data for this one.

Current Storm Call Tree
Storm Call Crit Tree I've come up so far

Level 80 scion, EB dual totems using storm call, considering respeccing into crit.

Relevant stats from first tree: 168% HP, 80 dex 220 str 140 int, 140% mana regen, 48% mana, 52% aoe radius, total about 130% spell damage. 
Relevant stats from second tree: 184% HP, 40 dex 170 str 210 int, 100% mana regen, 40% aoe radius, total about 90% spell damage, total 405% spell crit and 50% spell crit multiplier.

Some points, in no particular order of importance.
- good luck with your dex requirements mate
- totem range node wasn't worth much anyway
- yeah 140% mana regen is probably overkill
- consider getting a Divinarius
- also consider using ice spear pcoc during downtime between casting totems
- is unwavering stance really necessary? that's a lot of points.
- also what's up with taking out that HP cluster near CI/EB?
- small 15% crit nodes are really, really small and I'd think twice about getting those immediately, how badly do you need them?

94 points build with US removed. Also added the Coordination node near shadow for +20 dex and 3%cspd, and removed the small cluster of spellcrit stuff near templar (55 crit, 30 multiplier) because it took a whole 4 travel points to get there. For 2 travel points below RT you can get 40% multiplier in 2 points, and for 3 points you can get 45% crit just on small nodes, and I believe I've already made my stance on small nodes clear. In short, the reason I removed it is that that was the most inefficient cluster and I needed to cut points.

Relevant stats: 160% HP (suggest keeping that HP/str cluster below CI, by the way), 60 dex 100 str 180 int (did you know that HP/str cluster is a whopping 50 str?), total 350% spell crit and 20% multiplier. You can probably tell what the 101 point build I would go for is like.

Spell crit has some really spectacular numbers available from wands/daggers and shields, and this is a pretty decent position to run ice spear pcoc from. Multiplier is perhaps a shade harder to get from gear than passives, relative to spell crit (the position, incidentally, is reversed for weapon crit and multiplier) so I might consider taking out the small nodes in favour of multiplier ones too.

I hope this helps.

Thanks a bunch for the aura changes, GGG

So I was respeccing my ranger to an Aegis Rain build. Pretty standard, I know. But the point was to make a reliable build that could get her to level 90, and there's nothing more reliable than Aegis Rain.

I plugged in (level 19) RM - Grace - Determination and turned them all on. Oops, I have 85 mana left. Big whoop, now I can't run Hatred or Tempest. No reduced reservation nodes on this tree, after all.

Current status: 33 points unassigned, level 86. Cleared a3x in merc, though because said points were unassigned I was using an Astra. It's a really good cheat during testing. And as a result, no Lazhwar = zerg Dominus. He died eventually, but I had to stay the @#$% away from the lightning and when I didn't I died. Using BM Cyclone in Rain, yes, I know, how standard. The DPS was actually pretty significant, though my 320dps claw skewed that a little for sure. Comparable to the doublestrike build at least.

Resolution, what resolution? The solution is simple, spend a couple of passives on shield block and give up the idea of running Hatred. That one's a fairly common aura to find in parties anyway, I understand, and it's not like I lack DPS, see above. Hatred would be nice but not actually necessary.

I still don't know what my main skill will end up being. BM cyclone with a claw was just plain convenient to do the testing with. Considering the mana thing, I'll probably end up staying with BM. Hm.

Next up, an aura bot build. Because I think it would be funny to run Ephemeral Edge.

Monday, 30 December 2013

How to make money in this game

What would you do with an ex drop? If you're like most people, you'll just spend it on something you want, and that'd be the end of that. Or maybe you'll lament how the only people who earn currency are the no life market flippers, and then spend it on something you want. But you know, there's more to it than that. 

I'm going to sort this by methods, and of course you can do each at different levels of intensity. Pretty well everyone I know who's got significant ingame currency uses at least one of these. With a side of larceny on one memorable occasion*, but that was in addition to this, not instead of it.

1. Playing the game

At its most basic level, this involves selling magic/rare items for chaos and alterations, or even transmutes. Slow but steady. Alternatively, getting a couple of Perandus rings and selling id scrolls to people. One level up, and it involves selling drops for currency. The majority of saleable drops are from maps in the 72+ range, and most of the better drops in that set are from i75+ items. Which is just as well, because at that level, it takes a lot of currency to feed a mapping habit. One other method, though, involves running all maps from 72-75 and selling anything that drops both above and below that range. Between that and good drops, it's possible to break even on solo mapping and then some. If running 76+ maps consistently, the sale of ilvl whites for crafting is a good side income.

But wait, what about MFers, you might ask. And sure there are some people who farm Piety/Dominus with MF and play with the chaos recipe. But a dedicated MF support character isn't in the business of alterations - a typical map run with one of those involves a stack or two of id scrolls per person, rares dropped on the ground as you run once it's established that they aren't good rares, and multiple uniques per map. The good ones get sold, the bad ones get dropped, and yes, people leave uniques behind.

2. Playing the market

Buy low, sell high. The best way to do this is on currency and uniques, because the demand for those is guaranteed. You can do this the regular way, which is to know the market well enough to establish a range of prices - and do note that prices change by time zone: ex are 26-27 chaos at US prime time on Nemesis, but 28-29 at EU prime time. Then buy low and sell high. You could start small, with chaos/alt/fusing flipping, and move on to bigger game with Andvarius flipping, and at the end of this line are mirror and shav flipping.

Or you could find and exploit a hole in the market. In early 2013, 20q FP gems sold for 2 ex during the FP craze, but below that (in the 13-18 range) for several gcps. People made exalts per day upgrading and reselling gems. During the entire time Onslaught was active, death rush rings were in the range of 2-4 chaos on OS...and 1-2 ex on SC. I made exalts per day on that and the cross-trading forums (1 OS = 4 SC). I will not post any current exploits.

This is where I'm going to classify "running Dominus for people" - there's a market, you fill it.

3. Playing the slots

No kidding, crafting is a really big earner, once several conditions are fulfilled. One, you have sufficient currency to start and to ride out streaks of bad luck. Two, it's done on large enough scale that item sales take place relatively often. Three, effort has to be made to actually sell items. Once these conditions are met, however, one realises that others will pay them to bet against the RNG. The chance of spending 2-3 times someone's asking price on crafting a usable item for yourself is too high if you're going to just craft the one item, so it makes sense for you to just buy said item. The guy crafting said item, on the other hand, is rolling enough items that his luck averages out. For every bad luck streak, he's getting a good one - and his asking price is rather more than the average amount he spends. And ta-da, instant profit, both sides satisfied. (Yes, good luck streaks exist. I once spent 6 chaos rolling two pairs of ES gloves for about 3ex value each. I've also spent 4ex of chaos on a helm and gotten absolutely nothing worth selling. Go figure.)

This has gotten long enough, so I'll analyse the effects of this...and why I don't much favour SFL...in another post another day. But you can probably already tell from here.

*Don't ever trust Hauntworld with anything you can't afford to lose. He's a pretty cool guy to talk to, and really good at PvP, but don't trust him with your stuff. I've also heard some things about his guild, and from observation it seems to be more than plausible, but have no personal experience there.

Earning currency in solo self-found

Cross-post from this thread. Will post actual opinion when I wake up tomorrow, this one's for the calculations.

My total net-worth in Dominion was 4 chaos and 2 stacks of alts plus a couple of miscellaneous orbs, at the time I lent them to a friend. In addition, I had bought about 4 stacks of transmutes (1alc per stack), leveling weapons (3chaos + 2chaos), Sunblast (8chaos), Karui Ward (1chaos) and Deerstalker (1chaos). Total of about 23 chaos. Two characters, level 47 and level 30. Can't use /played because there's a lot of dead-time where I AFK for lunch or just chat, but you can draw your own conclusions from the character levels. Ratios are assumed to be 20 alts to a chaos, 20 chromatics to a chaos, and everything following from it. I sold no items but I did freely convert currency in trade chat.

This is including picking up every blue item so I can id and vendor it - the average return, buying 160 ids to 1 chaos, is that I end up with about double the amount of currency I bought the id scrolls with when I run out of scrolls. I make close to zero if I don't pick blues, simply because rares and orbs drop so rarely. With a Perandus ring and no significant MF, I don't need to buy id scrolls even when picking up blues.

I can only do back-of-envelope calculations, but bear with me here. Clearing normal difficulty is about 3 hours on a fresh start (check the most recent 3 hour race). We'll say my level 30 cleared normal difficulty, since he pretty much did, so 3 hours there.

I'll now take some numbers from someone else's thread: level 65 in 10 hours at the highest clearspeed with a leveling build and all best gear available. I have used said leveling build, as well as others, and I can reasonably say the normal difficulty clear time is 2 hours, give or take 0.5. On the level 47 character, for all intents and purposes I started using a leveling build at level 28 (Geofri's Baptism) and have cleared the entirety of cruel with it. More or less. That's 3 hours, plus we'll just say half the time between a1c and a2m, so 4 hours. Would have been longer if I'd leveled with my final build.

So that comes out to about 3 chaos per hour, rounded up, playing solo self-found without MF gear and identifying every item. I'm not including the time taken going over vendors for chromatics, or going back to town to sell items, which are both fairly significant time sinks. It's likely to work out more around 2 chaos per playing hour.

I can make the figures per hour mentioned by someone else (80 alts, plus a few chaos from recipe, plus drops, adds up to about 8 chaos per hour) if I run a high-clearspeed MF build in endgame Piety/Dominus or maps. Goes through id scrolls at a fantastic rate too.

Thus, 2-8 chaos per hour without trading. There is an alternative - buy a pair of Perandus Signets and sell id scrolls for 200 to the chaos - I'll probably test it some other time, but this method is severely curtailed if you also want to find usable blue items. Blue items are really significant when you don't have much else. And, y'know, it kind of assumes trading.

Added a new page to the site

I keep on promising to do things. Like build concepts. Also I have the skilltrees for some of them in my phone already, give or take a couple of points. But the list is growing, so I've added a page where I keep track of them. It's called accountability.

Someday I'll also clean up the rest of the pages. Someday.

A collection of semi-random points

I'm tired today, and it occurs to me that I haven't written one of those opinion pieces for a while, so here's a compromise and expect to see some of these written in more detail somewhere down the line. 

- Playing HC when distracted is as great a way to die as playing while half asleep
- Someone I bought something from is of the opinion that races should give 3x more points but occur 1/3 as frequently; it'd be as hard to reach 1k as ever, but the time investment is less. Also, I metagame races for points.
- NotRegret's quest to beat the game on Nemesis without using rares is commendable. He also has a bunch of essays written on assorted different points, some of which I disagree with, but definitely worth reading even so.
- I'm not particularly in favour of SFL. This from the perspective of end game mapping. This thread is also a good read on the subject.
- Not every build is equal in clearing all content. Case in point, I absolutely hate first form Dominus, but second is a cakewalk; my dual totem buddy reports exactly the opposite.
- I really need my previous forum posts in list format.

Oh, and Munchkin is a great card game. 

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Back to Searing Bond

Cyclone + CMK + SB + culling?

Or CMK anything really, using culling to get around the dual totems no-self-damage thing, but it'll only really work with casting a totem because otherwise the spell still deals no damage.

To no one's surprise, self casted RF deals no damage on a dual totem build. Burn animation still plays though. 

Aegis, Lightbane Raiment, and Viper Strike

got an idea from this thread

The question is whether desecrated ground is affected by DoT/chaos nodes? My guess is no. Pity. I mean, I've got a Rain and everything, but Rain + Aegis builds are so overdone, and X-on-block is a cool mechanic.

I'm thinking Abyssus, to offset using a 1h weapon for damage. Aegis should be good for the damage taken thing, not to mention it has a reasonable amount of armour. In addition, crit multiplier, which means I should go crit for even more damage.

I'll post a complete concept once I've shaved it down to 100 or so points and figured out Lightbane's ground effect.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Traps and totems, really?

So there's this friend of mine, he wanted to see if he could get around the "less" modifier on totems. And of course, he hit on the idea of trapping them.

I'd always figured that the summon time would be a bit too much, that throwing a trap which then threw up a totem only if it was hit and then totem cast speed...yeah, not going there. But then he mentioned Sunblast.

Oh snap.

Imagine the possibilities.

I asked, and he wasn't double dipping Reduced Duration (it was storm call totems) but I imagine that's definitely something one could do.

It does make me want to throw lightning warp totem traps now, too. 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel

moving away from you at speed c.

It gets a lot better after lightning trap! (play tested as witch trapper in 2h solo race)

I fail at descent champions

Previous post

So I put together a build plan for a shadow (I thought it'd be easiest to rank) and decided to go for it. First try, got killed at Kuduku. Go figure. Second try, ditto. Third try, I actually got past there, went into obelisks of faith, and got killed by the goatmen. By this point, I'm thinking something's a bit wrong, so maybe let's rerun the old build and see what I'm missing?

The old build was Scion, 2h ST with fire trap support, except the way I played it was actually a great deal more like fire trap with 2h ST support, at least in the early part. Every skill point went toward ST, so it made sense that it moved away eventually, but I thought why not go for firetrap? But anyway, I rolled a scion, it was easy, and I learnt something!

- I learnt that the limit of 3 traps at once is pretty annoying. I probably also spam them a little too much. And I'm pretty sure now that trap positioning is important in order not to waste traps.
- Traps of all kinds work on Kuduku, but it's a lot easier to have his minions trigger the fire trap and burn him with it.
- Freezing halls is annoying as @#$% and it's also not worth going out of my way to find the thing if I find Kuduku first. 20 movespeed avian slippers are fun though.
- Trap builds tend to leave items behind because, well, trap build, throw it down and move on. This is very annoying too.
- I really, really hate galvanic ribbons. 
- And I probably shouldn't be testing in races when I'm still a fair few points from the reward marker I want. I have slightly messed up priorities when it comes to gaming, apparently.

Most importantly, I learnt that it's good to have a cleanup aoe besides the traps, at least in early game. This should also solve the problem of leaving stuff behind. However, shadows...don't exactly have a safe and fast cleanup aoe like ST. Closest I can think of is reave, maybe that'll work? Here's hoping I can get enough points in the regular races to use D:C as testing grounds, rather than having to push hard with an old build.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Going to make searing bond work, just watch me

The idea post

The basic idea is to run totems on CDT so I get a free source of casting totems. HP return will be done by life-on-hit, since I can't exactly leech on ancestral bond. Since the bond connects to me, I should be right up in the middle of everything, therefore cyclone.

Using a searing touch and soul mantle, with the requisite flasks of warding. 

Cyclone - life on hit - curse on hit - ele weakness
Searing bond - CDT - increased burning - empower - (does fire pen affect this?)
(soul mantle spelltotem) - q20 shock nova - conc.e - proliferation - CDT - enhance - ??? (probably running a level 19 CDT in order not to proc it at the identical time with searing bond, maybe)
Fire trap - proliferation - conc.e - increased burning (as long as we're doing burning damage, why not)
Lightning trap - proliferation - ??? (ditto the above)

Build link

Yeah, that's got like no dex on it. More's the pity. Anyway, notables: RT (no way I want to miss anything that returns life on hit), static blows (well, duh), ancestral bond (OP), US (running this on CDT, right? not sure this is essential though), etc. I'm not entirely happy about how the entire templar section links up, but luckily that's all non-essential, so meh I'll think about it later.

Turns out not a lot of supports affect searing bond, maybe I'll keep it 4-linked in that case, which would allow me to use a 1h and shield rather than searing touch. Which in turn would mean skip the staffblock cluster, reroute templar (I did say I wasn't happy with that) and get shieldblock.

RF - empower - aoe/conc.e, in a +2/+1 (does RF get negated by dual totems?) and using ruby flask(s) of warding.

Might need to pick up some armour clusters. Take the hybrid ES ones and go Aegis maybe. That all depends on how much I can afford to not be hit and still keep the totems up for a reasonable amount of time. Lose the fire and burning damage from ST though, not to mention the additional +2 to searing bond, and that's actually really significant.

Update: dumped the templar nodes, and in my previous experience with cyclone as HP I don't need US either. That way I can work on managing damage taken through ev as well as ar. build link the last nodes to be taken are Arsonist and the DoT/totem clusters below IR. Non-essentials, the whole bunch of them.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Descent: Champions

I got my first Mirror yesterday. Missed 9 points by a couple minutes, started a couple minutes late, have a really bad habit of pausing to do inventory rather than doing it on the go. The last few Descent: Champions races I've been following the same strategy, getting a feel for the zones. Like I prefer Croaking to Chattering Halls because chimerals are easier to deal with than avians...both suck, mind you, but one sort's easier. Similarly, I'd much rather face Hatestorm than Avatar. Anyway, this makes it about time to plot strategy. 

Current: Scion, 2h ST with fire trap support. Everything after Berserking depends on the best weapon found/crafted, so some days it won't go to the axe node. Depending on weapon ias relative to dps, and how much of it is physical, either Iron Grip or the ias nodes at start are taken.

I pulled the CSV of that race (big surprise) and checked it across classes (bigger surprise). Rank #20 of each class, overall rank and level. Pattern holds across multiple races.

Scion: #40, level 22
Duelist: #200, level 20
Marauder: #100, level 21
Ranger: #180, level 20
Shadow: #500, level 17
Templar: #350, level 18
Witch: #300, level 19

Looking at the skill tree, it's no wonder shadow does terribly, they have a crappy starting build and items. Relatively speaking. Not to mention that shadows always run into mana issues. Templar doesn't do too hot either after the early good nodes are taken, and witch has no survivability at all. Yeah.

I'm in a hurry and I have a few more days out of town, so concepting a different build will come another day. I have some ideas in mind already.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

What would you do with 6 green links?

There's a mirrored chest floating around SC, it's got HP tri-res and something like 2k evasion...and 6 green sockets. And it's mirrored. Regretfully, at the time I had the opportunity to buy it, I turned it down. More's the pity. Still, it's been in my mind for a while that I should really try to make a build which works with 6 green links.

List of green active skills that can realistically run as main AoE without red/blue supports. In other words, no melee splash, but xMP is allowed. No comment on how well they run, mind you, only that they can.

Animate weapon? Huh. That's...a thought. (spell)
Burning arrow, explosive arrow, ice shot, lightning arrow, poison arrow, rain of arrows, split arrow
Elemental hit, frenzy
Detonate dead (spell)
Ethereal knives (spell)
Fire trap
Reave, whirling blades
Spectral throw

That's a pretty cool list, actually. Green supports? I mean - relevant green supports?

Added cold (q20 gives chance to freeze, which is pretty cool)
Additional accuracy
Cast on crit
Chance to flee
Cold pen
Faster attacks
Faster/slower projectiles
Trap, multitrap
Point blank

That means...we're likely looking at a cast on crit build, or maybe an EK-trap build. Pity about not being able to run added fire with the EK. Firetrap's out because it doesn't have enough potential green supports.

Split - fork - CoC - EK - DD - q20 add accuracy for more crit, or anything else. I don't like planning 6Ls. Maybe instead of split, use Reave and a dagger, or WB and the same if you're feeling adventurous. Why not ST, because ST means xMP, and xMP doesn't play too nice with EK. I'd prefer to go with the bow, because fork supports split and does not support reave/WB.

EK - trap - multitrap - standard EK green supports, so faster projectiles and fork...and one more whatever.

Ele hit - xMP - chain - I don't know, does this look like a wand build to you? Maybe use Frenzy with it, because ele hit is just asking for WED and we can't add a WED. (Actually, a lot of things would go well with WED. Too bad.) Accuracy, because @#$% wander accuracy, and as a bonus it gives crit. Oh, I think Enhance would actually go crazy well with Frenzy. Must try that sometime. Should be able to get away with no LL/ML because it's mostly physical, or at least you can flipping well make it mostly physical.

I'll concept these separately. Another day. Yeah, more's the pity I didn't pick up that 6L when I had the chance. If someone knows the unlucky bugger who currently has it, mind pointing them my way?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Nailed Fist OP

No, really. I'm posting this directly after a BLAMT race. It became easymode once I got the combination of ST and two Nailed Fists. As easymode as BLAMT ever gets, anyway.

Getting that first ST out really, really hurts though. The idea is to take it slow and pick up a ranged weapon ASAP. Zombies can be melee kited for 0 damage taken, just run away before its animation finishes playing. Sand spitters can't, more's the pity. Once you get a wand/bow, it's free xp and items. Otherwise, BM race though it is, ST is alright to use even on the beach, just don't go overboard.

It's pretty well impossible to beat Hillock as melee, I tried like 3 times and another 2 using ST. Wand and bow kiting both work - rangers and witches have a natural advantage in that they start that way, if you want to just rush Hillock. Hillock involves a bit more running in circles than I like, but it's better than dying.

After the race, I pulled the CSV and played with it a little, so we have stats!

#1 in class: scion/duelist/ranger level 12, witch 11, shadow/marauder/templar 9
#20: ranger 9, scion 7, witch 4 (this one was ranked #585 overall including dead characters)
9 duelists, 10 shadows, 16 marauders and 9 templars made it to level 3 and above (clearly that #1 duelist was an anomaly)
1132 characters made it to level 3 and above before dying; some of those didn't die.

I was going to post a witty comment here, but I think the numbers speak for themselves.

What's the point of Essentia Sanguis?

It's a 130-170 pdps claw (total ~200dps after lightning and quality) which gives Ghost Reaver. But wait, GR is right over near CI and the claw leech nodes. Makes this claw seem almost redundant, yeah?

Well, what if that zone wasn't strictly necessary? Templar's got good ES, and there's a circle above scion, and sure that's pretty close to CI (if 6 or 7 points minimum can be "close") but GR's another 4+ points over. Meh.

So...low life or hybrid build? PA's all the way over there, but unless using crown of eyes that hardly matters. A case could be made for either. 10% additional block chance while dual wielding claws, though the other claw would have to be downright spectacular and you'd be using doublestrike. And half the dw block is over by shadow/ranger. Hybrid incinerate with Cybil's Paw, maybe. Or something. Not sure how well that'd work.

For low life, it'd be all the templar ES nodes, possibly the scion ES wheel too, VP and US on the bottom - we're not going to the GR side, anyway. For hybrid, we can simply ignore that section, and...ohsnap, what if we did neither? Essentia's got a pretty respectable 6.68% crit, for a claw, and...aw man, half the crit is over in shadow, including all the claw crit. Oh well. Next time. Cast on crit's probably out then. Cast on damage taken, however, is not particularly dependent on the weapon. That'd require an Aegis. (I've got one, luckily.)

Tricky tricky. Claw, why?

This makes me want to make a hybrid build. Not necessarily with Essentia, but using a combination of ES and HP. I'll list that in another post another day, I think. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

When NOT to play HC

When your mental function is impaired. Now this is a tricky one, it doesn't correlate well with how you feel at the moment. You may feel perfectly fine, but that doesn't mean your decision making is on the ball.

Yeah, I ripped another character doing something stupid again.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Not enough people on the internet appreciate math

Even on Path, and this is one of the most math-heavy games in the mainstream style.

Concepts in this post should all be covered in a basic topology class. Some you might even find in set theory, wouldn't know, never took that.

The question was raised, what is the definition of a "build"? The relevant part of my answer is below.

- Path build n-space is discrete. It's also closed and contains a (very large, but) finite number of elements.
- Passive tree major or minor changes have some effect sometimes. Big nodes are game-changing, small nodes have cumulative effects, but the only logical way to resolve this is for no nodes to be valueless.
- Skills are different. Support combinations are different, to some extent. As above, there can be only one logical resolution to this. Both these spaces don't necessarily behave all that well if you pick the wrong definitions, so don't pick the wrong definitions.
- For the most part, rare item stats have less impact, and similarly with statball uniques like Kaom's Primacy. On the other hand, there are build definers like Facebreaker. Such items, then, each correspond to a single dimension in Path build n-space, or we can say that Path build n-space is the product space of several spaces, some of which are Boolean in nature and correspond to items. But even statballs have their impacts: physical, spell, both? How much total MF? And so observe: it makes sense to have each individual stat mapping to some interval in R, and the sum total of rares/statballs occupying some point in R^m.

That's...clearly not all different builds the way the term "build" is generally used, though a strict definition should define them that way, so let me introduce the term "setup". Each element of Path build n-space is a different setup.

Luckily for us, setups tend to cluster in different regions of each of the parent spaces that contribute to the product space. Just as an example, on the skills space, taking a subset of all setups which contain the active skill element LA, a lot of xMP, chain, WED, etc are found, while setups containing MPD and splash are conspicuously absent. (If you're wondering, I defined a compact R^6 where "support gem does not work with skill" means that element just maps back to 0 on that dimension. There's a lot of (LA,0,0,0,0,0) in it. Not necessarily the most efficient method, but I'll take that trade-off for the well-behaved-ness of R^6 any day!)

>> I believe it is possible to define a metric on Path build n-space. Just saying. This is important.

But going back to the idea of clusters, that's basically a finer - or coarser, sorry I'm on a timer here not going to figure that one out - version of each of the mentioned spaces. Each element in Path build cluster n-space is a different build. Alternatively, for each cluster choose a point near its centre* to be the element in the corresponding space, and thus define builds.

*this is why the metric was important

Problem solved, right? The only fuzzy bit is the clusters one, and I'm not happy with that either, but how else are you going to draw an arbitrary line? The second method might be better, as in "I'm playing a setup that's close to theWombo's build on Path build n-space".

Monday, 2 December 2013

It really does have crap damage.

I was slightly preoccupied yesterday getting an endgame gear set on Nemesis, among other things, but found some time to squeeze in a little bit of testing with my pretty Darkscorn. I chose to use Eye of Chayula for anti-stun instead of taking US, and used Alpha's Howl for anti-chill along with anti-freeze (credit to Perz for pointing that one out to me!) Testing was done in docks, with the rationale that if I can't neatly clear it with a gear set thrown together in 5 minutes, then I can't clear higher maps with gear I spent 6 hours optimising.

Started by respeccing a 70 witch into the dex (evasion) variant of the tree. LA GMP chain WED LL - couldn't sustain mana. Well okay, only 25% of the damage gets 2% leech from Mind Drinker (I later specced out of that, so it's not in the tree linked above, but did take it at some point in time), and I'm not trying for crazy high damage so it's not enough, I get it. Substituted a mana leech for chain - turns out chain's important in getting LA to hit the max number of mobs. Huh. Regardless, even with evasion, I'm taking too much damage and not dealing enough. This sucks.

Well. The easiest option was to go via the str half of the tree and take IG. So that's what I did with my 80 witch. (Recoloured Darkscorn to 5G1R somewhere along the line so I could run both chain and mana leech, couldn't be bothered to recolour further, didn't have a WED gem slotted in but 1.4*terrible is still terrible. I figure as long as I'm doing the testing with the same gem setups on both, I can get a decent comparison in.)

First thing I noticed. Knockback is rolled per attack, like crit, and not per hit. That makes the little 15% knockback wheel next to useless. Next thing: went IR, and it boosted my survivability a ton. I kinda sorta knew that, but still. I'm still not doing enough damage to return as much HP as I'd like, though it's definitely better with IG.

To do:
- try out Blind
- try IR with the dex tree, and ditto the above.
- try socketing Knockback gem along with the skilltree wheel
- try a physical skill (split arrow + chain/fork?) which should allow for better mana return from leech; not sure how I'd pull off static-blows except by gear lightning damage though, and that's always iffy to depend on. Since I don't actually appear to have a leveled split-arrow right now, though, that might be a while in coming.

Where do I go from here, if it doesn't work? Well, I figure a Chin Sol will be a pretty decent damage boost, maybe enough to kick the 80 into viability for maps on this build. Probably better tanking too, with a guaranteed knockback meaning less damage taken. Would like to make it work. On the 70, I still have enough of my free respecs that I can rework the tree into Perz's crit claws tree, or I can do pretty well anything else that involves CI and the dex side of the tree. I don't know yet.

Or I can leave the characters hanging around until I get another idea, while I play Nemesis. Yeah, that sounds better to me. As a bonus, here's what one of my friends asked when I explained my build to him, and my response to it.
Q: This looks like it would be better done from Scion, why didn't you start there?
A: I didn't have a sufficiently high leveled scion with a full respec to play with.
My priorities are most definitely slightly skewed.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Anonymous comments

...are now allowed. Go nuts with it, but keep your comments civil and nondestructive or I will remove them.

Playing keep-away with knockback

Some days ago, I did a critique on someone's build concept...somewhere in there, I mentioned something about concepting a crit variant of his staff spectral throw build.

I'm not sure how well "variant" applies, as I've basically taken out everything except the spectral throw skill, which links are pretty well universal anyway.

ST - xMP - AFD - LL/LoH - ICD, etc

But the build, now this one gave me hours of trouble. First I started with the Marauder, because that's where I left off last post.

build link

Totaling up the crit, on an 8% crit staff I'd reach a little over 50% crit rate. Shucks. Now, the rest of the crit nodes are over on Shadow side...so I figured I'd go all the way, make it CI VP and build a Scion.

build link (where points go over the limit, note that the last place to put them is the crit nodes, ok? only makes sense to do it that way.)

...and yes, that's a lot of points over the usual recommendation, so what I did was pick Duelist and take a slightly shorter traveling path.

build link

And then, you know, it came back to me: why am I even making CI?

build link

So of course then I had to make it over on Scion.

build link

I'm still not entirely satisfied with it. Might end up making CI anyway, because VP's safer against reflect, and reflect is the bane of crit builds. Not to mention, that way I'd save on a LL gem. (Though with over 5% HP regen, I might have been able to run BR on HP anyway.) Or I could go full circle, back to Marauder start, and use it as a character to reach 65 for the challenge. If I decide to go for that challenge. In any case, tabling it for now, to be refined and built at a later unspecified date if ever. I have too many projects already.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Searing Bond

Shock Nova totem (for shock value, obviously)

Lightning Warp totem (because why not)

whatsitsname that triple totem chest, with the appropriate hexproof flasks of course

Curse on Hit (ele weakness maybe, but this one's always fuzzy) (maybe)

But in terms of totem placement? Time spent placing totems is time spent not dealing damage. I mean, obviously you're going to get right up in their faces because of the way searing bond works, so melee (searing touch is still a staff) but the majority of damage is still going to come from assorted spells. (The rest is from traps. Ancestral Bond is a given.)

CDT + one or another of the totems, not sure which. Maybe arc totem. Depends how much crit I can get, or something.

3 totems + self = quadrilateral with a cross? I'd still like to see the exact numbers on 1.0.2 Searing Bond damage, but it's actually an option now...right? I'll be pretty annoyed if it only casts from the SB totems and not between my lightning totems, that'll change the strategy just a little. Or a lot. Bah.

Maybe I should have ele equilibrium. Throw down some coldsnap traps or something. Was thinking of CDT icenova, but that doesn't work with dual totems, does it?

Probably EB and double curse. Probably not crit. I doubt I'll reach IR anyway. HP return will be a problem, so...life on hit would probably be the best (only) way to handle that.

They need more unique staves.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Speed leveling builds

thread 1 Xequi challenging people to beat his 1-69 time of 10:34:11

thread 2 started by vombat911, the winner of the challenge with 10:16:34

One player did it with 2h spec-throw, and considering the original challenge was completed with a 2h axe equipped, I'm going to guess it was either spec-throw or cyclone and more likely the former. A lot of "leveling" uniques were used, along with Foxshade which has added movespeed (and anyone who's raced before knows how important MS is.)

Now here's the question. Is it possible to solo speed-level at this rate, or something approaching it, using a different skill combination? If so what, if not why not?

Firetrap/poison-arrow until LMP then switch to LA, maybe. Storm Cloud -> Death's Harp -> ??? It's a pity about the lack of leveling unique bows past that. Quillrain/EA/Tabula setup, never change gear ever? EA has the well-deserved reputation of being pretty much the most independent skill in the game. Not sure how it does on speed though.

A spellbuild of some sort? Given DoT changes, I imagine a firetrap build with Searing Touch would scale really well, especially if one had a leveled Empower. Now there's a thought, Searing Bond as a burn damage trapper. It's still a support skill, but...oh, I digress. I don't think there are any leveling uniques for other elemental builds. EK's got this stupid long cast time, it's out for sure. Ditto, well, pretty well everything else with spells. Oh dear.

Given DoT changes again, maybe Viper Strike could do something? Flicker, splash, cast vulnerability, move on? Possibly with PA on weapon swap? Someone who's run the Chaos Acolyte build would know more about this than I do. But I don't think that's the solution either. Depends how well it all scales, and multiple leveled Empowers would be necessary.

Yeah, keeps on coming back to easily available uniques and all that. So. Sweep, groundslam, cleave? The usual, basically. Good 2h uniques are freely available. Same applies to this challenge as to races, it's either dw or 2h because 1h/shield is just too slow. Therefore probably not cleave, not any more. I'm pretty sure ST is strictly superior to the other two, too. Bah.

Cyclone rather than ST, or just use an LA build? ST's damage scaling is...not the best, let us say. Cyclone is level 24 requirement though, so there's still something to be done for the earlier leveling. Ditto LA, which only gets good after LMP.

Reave? Of all the stupid things...but I did spend an afternoon (including trading, chatting and miscellaneous time-wasting) clearing 1-50~ using a couple of good rare claws on ST/LMP because I was bored of Reave. Reave is almost always faster, in my experience, but ST is safer by quite a long shot. Did swap to cyclone at level 43 and it's actually really fast given my weapons and I MIGHT BE BIASED HERE BUT CLAWS ARE AWESOME OKAY. If I was going to try this challenge, I'd get a pair of Last Resorts, buy a couple of Cat's Paws from the indexer, and go claw crazy with those + the ones I already have. Bonus points because Whirling Blades is a scary-good movement skill.

Now there's another thought, running using good rares instead of uniques. Ungil's Gauche, Mightflay, Al Dhih. Mortem Morsu is strictly inferior to Mightflay, too bad for it. No unique leveling claws/daggers above that, and 1h swords (Reave, remember?) only have Prismatic Eclipse and Rebuke of the Vaal. Yeah, definitely needs to be rares once you're past Mightflay. Shucks.

In my experience, flat added damage is one of the most powerful things one can get hold of, early game. That makes it a really good idea to run Ignomon, Sadima's, Meginord, and yes Foxshade. Berek's X (pick two) would be ideal after level 20 and until merciless, provided resist caps are met. It's not much by way of added HP, but you know what? I really don't care. Claws are broken and it's not like HP matters until cruel a3 or later. Bonus points, flat damage scales really well with LA, which is a safe (ranged) build too. Only it'd run into boss trouble, or I could just call in a guildie to save like an hour total on act bosses.

Might be that stacking bonus damage is more important to early speed-leveling than a specific skill is. Hm. And that would make weaponry more important to later speed-leveling than skill choice. No, that's wrong, skill choice is important for general area coverage, just that it has to be well supported by good damage availability, from flat +dmg earlygame to good weapons later.

I'm going to pick up a bunch of these things now. Not Meginord, too expensive for me, but I'm willing to spend a few chaos to make leveling any new characters easier.

Bringer of Rain + Anvil

...+ bow

= 25% block chance with a bow, the last time I checked. Hmm...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

About that Darkscorn build

or Why I Love This Passive Tree

link to previous Darkscorn theory crafting and reasons I'm doing this

LA - GMP - chain - LL - ML - WED (or knockback, that'd be cool) GGGGRR, exactly right colours!
CDT - EC - MS - enfeeble/TC
RM - Discipline - Grace - Determination (hopefully!) maybe Hatred if I turn out not to need those. Clarity?
the usual, it's a pretty standard LA tankbuild...for some definition of standard.

build link
alternative build link

Not sure how well the knockback cluster would work in practice, but I'm effectively shotgunning a whole lot with the LA chain-effects so I imagine it'd be quite a bit more than the displayed 15%. Hopefully I do enough damage to make the LL work out. Maybe include a shav's revelation, because why not.

If that doesn't work out, I'll spec the alternative link, get some shock/chill avoidance too. Shock avoidance is pretty big, but I expect to use a Fragments anyway so just the chill avoid will do.

I actually want to head into templar and pick up Catalyse, another end charge, and that ES grouping. It's quite a lot of points, though.

In all probability, this would work better with a Chin Sol. Of the damage avoidance trio - acro, block, evasion - I'm running none, so I might still be taking too much damage. Depending on the armour values I can get. Still, a flat 25% reduction before armour is probably going to be awesome.

With a HP build, Chin Sol is pretty much strictly superior and...yeah. Glare is almost definitely superior anyway on damage, but for survivability on enemy hits (and on reflected damage), I wouldn't know. Glares tend to get their owners killed almost as much as Shavs.

Probably needs some mana, and no I'm not going to take EB, that'd be suicidal and then some.

I'll probably run into gear issues, my best ES body armour is some 480ES? Give or take? Meh, no big deal, I'll just roll something bigger sometime if I find I need it. And oh snap, this is a really bad time, I don't own a Dream Fragments right now and who knows how much they cost these days. Never mind, I'll run the analysis using an Alpha's Howl first.

Split Arrow - Fork/Chain/Pierce - LL - ML - who knows? Maybe RoA. Got a split arrow gem too, I think. I'd rather not go iceshot, since the majority of damage is done on the aoe conversion and there's no reason to run Darkscorn with it. Burning Arrow doesn't have enough inherent AoE to work with, neither does Frenzy and anyway I'm CI. Still, I think LA is the best option where I am.

I have no idea how this build is supposed to level. Likely an independent skill, so EA/summoner/trapper, either that or statball accessories to provide the necessary dex. Question is academic anyway, as the witch to be specced is level 80. Might do that this weekend, since I have most of the necessary gems at reasonable levels already.
Flicker + 20q Splash + Multi + CoC + (some AoE spell)

Playstyle would be flicker in, use all the stacks and get some nice AoE going, whirling blades out and watch them die (regaining stacks along the way) and repeat. Spell dagger with local crit. Etc. Might work better than that wander I was going to make, in coldsnap terms, but we'll see. And I want a wander anyway so I'm still going to make one of those first.

Spectral Throw staff build critique

Update: apparently my understanding of the MKB interaction was wrong. Specifically, it was most likely carried over from when added phys on accessories didn't scale properly...but still wrong, at the present time. Learn something new every day.

I got a particularly detailed PM about a spectral throw staff build. You know who you are. Well, effort will be repaid with effort, why not, since I have the time today.

I'm going to start with a bit of a rant.

Next time, flippin' well follow the format given, thank you very much. Also, it makes absolutely no sense to ask me for build advice and then write as though I have no idea what MKB (that's Pillar of the Caged God) does, or about the math and mechanics behind the game, or what is and isn't viable to build. Especially if your math is wrong. (I haven't tested the specific MKB interaction mentioned, but I understand that others have. More importantly, I stopped believing you knew what you were talking about when you emphasised freeze locking on an RT build.) And though I definitely appreciate knowing the rationale behind your choices, I do not need or want to be told that "this is the only viable way", because it is not. (Unless it is, but that would imply that you've tested every other alternative...yeah, no.) Going further, let me suggest that I know what I'm doing when it comes to the skill tree, I do not need or want a summary table, I can read the tree perfectly well and if I really want exact stats I'll paste it into the application myself.

General comment: doing really detailed math is generally not required for this game. Or in general. I'm an engineer, and the first draft (what first build plans generally correspond to) is sometimes done order-of-magnitude while the final draft (corresponding to running the build at level 80-odd) has like 50% margin of error anyway even before we do exact math on that one. The formula and keywords are important, the working to 3 decimal places is not.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, here's a quick summary of the build.

Idea: spectral throw, knockback, shocking/freezing (well, with RT it'll probably just be shocking) and staying safe. He really wanted to use MKB, but see above comment re: math, so for now I'll assume a standard staff build. In the end, it doesn't make a lot of difference.

ST, LMP, AFD, WED (expected fifth link: BM, for mana management reasons; also I would run LL/LoH over WED for safety reasons.)
RM - Hatred - Wrath - Grace/Determination (and Haste if possible)
Projectile Weakness for knockback and more damage
CDT - EC - MS - frostwall or coldsnap or whatever (maybe PW, saves on cursing)

Items: no special enablers (see above re: MKB), priority on flat added physical (which honestly I feel is misplaced, but there you have it) - so Meginord's - and added elemental. At least, that's what I was told.

build link

As you can see, it's a scion start going for a lot of WED, ias, RT on a HP build. Now I'll post a slightly revised version (just a small change) and you can see the difference in priorities.

build link

Specifically, I cleaned up the inefficient roundabout in templar, moving it to an end charge, HP regen, a little bit more int and dex (there wasn't quite enough in the original, unless Astra or some other statball) and staff block. I like block. Though obviously you would spec out of that cluster if you weren't using a staff. Also removed the whole Lava Lash bit just because.

This is not the be-all-end-all, it is not the most efficient tree for this build, it is likely to run into trouble...but it is still better than the original I received. I would prefer to start from marauder, it would let me clear aside the whole loop above duelist, then I could go below instead and get fun stuff like HP/regen, end charge, master of the arena, etc. Similarly, I doubt the WED nodes are all that efficient (exception of Catalyse) unless you're already passing by, and even then I often skip them, but meh.

For that matter, if I was doing a spec-throw knockback build with staves, I would run crit. Staves are really, really good for crit, there are a ton of crit nodes and a power charge right here, and accuracy nodes are right next door. Expect a concept post of that to come out sometime soon, since I have a 5L crit staff currently available to me. Why not. (It was pretty much between ST, LS and flickermulti anyway, staff knockback on crit is a pain with real melee builds.)

I hope that was informative.

A note to anyone else who wants me to critique their build.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Time-limited unique items. THIS IS WHY NOT.

So I was talking to this one guy, and he was telling me about the discharger he was making. And, well, he said the price of a voll's devotion amulet on SC was 17 ex the cheapest he could find.

Wait, what?

A quick search on xyz turns up 31 results, of which 4 have buyouts set, one of which is 10 ex. Clearly, he was wrong. But 10 ex, really? I got mine for 2 gcp when Anarchy was running, and they were in the 2 ex range a couple weeks after it ended.

Generally speaking, legacy uniques are just alternate versions of their current forms, with the same effects if not on the same scale. I'm cool with that. Kaom's still fulfills its purpose as a big ball of HP, even if it's less HP than before. But completely removing all inflow of a particular unique item with an effect unique to it? (pun intended) That's not cool, in my book.

While I recognise that new short-term leagues are free of the effects of no-longer-available uniques, and greater focus is (rightly or wrongly) on these as opposed to the permanent ones, surely that isn't an excuse to completely neglect them. Dumpster economy or otherwise.

Gifts as a race reward is great. But GGG better have a consistent plan to make these uniques more readily available again, one way or another, because gating interesting/useful content by date of signup is one of the worst things a developer can do to its players. There is empirical evidence of what, exactly, happens to content gated this way. Look it up if you want. Magic: the Gathering designers whine about it. Riot Games, of League of Legends fame, faced this issue and recently made a really difficult decision (in the opposite direction of Magic's decision, I should point out, though equally much taking context into account.) And how much do Runescape party hats sell for on Ebay again?

It doesn't affect gameplay if it's cosmetic items or if the functionality can be duplicated another way, but unique items with unique effects really? You're going to gate gameplay by signup date?

Seriously, there is no good move from here except to reintroduce the items, some time some way. (Suggestion: chance orbs. I can come up with half a dozen more, but this isn't my job.) At least GGG has specifically made a point of refusing to say whether they will be reintroduced. They flippin' well better do it.

Kiri owns 4x death rush, 2x victario's acuity, 1x voll's devotion, 1x shav's revelation, 2x gifts from above (will be 3 after racing this season), and 1x daresso's salute. That's enough to craft any build that uses any of these items. I don't stand to benefit from this recommendation, okay?


It's high time I did something with my 6L Darkscorn. The bow has been repeatedly suggested to be good for tanks, let's see how that works out.

1. conversion of 25% incoming physical to chaos: CI build
2. conversion of  25% outgoing physical to chaos: damage conversion the rest of the way
3. therefore CI GR VP, acro is not an option, etc etc

or the other way

1. It is known that a LA/chain standard setup with GMP and LoH is ridiculously tanky on BM keystone (source: anecdotal from months ago)
2. conversion of incoming damage reduces the amount on physical anyway, so armour is more effective
3. blind and acro work remarkably well together, the more so because bows don't really do block; maybe IR with acro for bonus points, then!

I figure I'll have damage issues no matter which way I slice it, but maybe that's fixable?

4. going to take point blank
5. possibility of going crit

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Path and MtG aren't so different

(reposted from this thread)

I feel that the player types of Magic: the Gathering actually apply really well to Path of Exile, with its classic ARPG play style coupled with the skill gems and passive tree system in place.

This makes it straw poll time!
Timmy, Johnny and Spike
Timmy, Johnny and Spike Revisited

Timmy is the one who plays for the experience. "Sure I'll map with you, as long as I get to kill things."
Johnny is the one who does funky stuff just because he can. "Hey, I was thinking, what if I used avatar of fire with cold-to-fire on ice spear for a burning proliferation build?"
Spike is the one who goes for level of achievement in one or another sphere of the game. Winning is the most important. (Congrats on first 100 in HC, SirBaker!) "Day 2 of Nemesis and I have 2 ex"
(all quotes are from real people)

Kiri is a Johnny Melvin.

VP HP melee? A conversation log.

Here's a log of a conversation I had with someone else, regarding VP HP melee building. This is way before 1.0.0, my PM logs say it was in mid-August. My questions in italics, his answers in plaintext. I feel it's still valid.

I noticed a comment in one of your posts from a few days back, and I am wondering, how do you do it?

How to play a vp hp melee? It's good when the damage you receive exceeds 20% of your health per second, or rather 30% per second counting regen nodes+pot and quality life leach gem. It's viable, but you have to avoid small objects on the ground - they make you desync. You always keep a granite flask up in fights, so desync does not kill you that fast. When you desync you jump into the monsters with leap slam - use little hp bars on them, so you know when you hit. Vaal pact is necessary for maps 74+ if you facetank without a shield like lionseye or aegis aurora - I go 2h. It works, but you need a strong physical weapon. It's easier to go facebreaker and shield. Also vp goes better with evasion - it's easy to get 40-50% evasion - much easier than armor - just use dex and grace + evasion chest. Reach like 8-10k armor with rest of your gear - that protects well against normal monsters, when you get close to 30k armor with granite up its really good. Also use blind and enfeeble + 3,5-4k hp - i use bringer of rain for that and all physical hits don't harm me at all. If you fight some serious hitting monsters use 6 endurance charges and immortal call with increased duration. You can get like 7 seconds immunity to physical damage.

I kinda figured about the evasion thing, yeah, didn't know if it would work well enough to take VP as evasion character. I assume you don't use Blood Rage?

Always been just telling people, don't do VP HP it's not worth it. Mostly speaking from experience, as I play a pseudo-VP HP with Bloodseeker. Usually as primary facetank.

What would you say is the absolute minimum required to get away with using VP HP? What is your main attack skill, does that affect your answer and how?

You need a solid aoe for VP, since it minimizes the downside of desync. You need to leach. I use cyclone 2h. Facebreaker is obviously better. I have 4k hp, but I guess a bit over 3 k would be fine with vaal pact too. You need to go with physical damage. Elemental does not leach enough, perhaps if you have crazy with life leach gem it might work.

Let's talk about KZA, cutthroat, and PvP in general

If you've been on the official forums at all, then you'll know there was recently a huge uproar about this one player who PKs people at bandits in HC, which subsequently branched out into a general uproar about bandit PKing in general.

Let me state for the record that I have no substantive problem with the bandit PK mechanics as they stand. If you don't want to read "if your party mate chooses differently, you will have to fight them" then you deserve what you get for it. The lack of delay between the last player to choose and the beginning of the fight may deserve some looking at, but adding a delay or checkbox would pretty much completely wipe out any and all bandit PKers. And in that case, what is the party fight mechanic even for? Other than that one duel with the Russian guys, and I think that's more demonstrative of broken PvP mechanics than anything else.

Mostly, though, I figure I can always either manage to pick last, or open a portal right next to me while standing as far away as possible from whoever hasn't picked yet. That should be standard practice anyway, the portal thing. There will always be sufficient time to make one click and especially if he's halfway across the screen. (If he refuses to stay halfway across the screen, you may want to port out, as he clearly does not have your best interests at heart.) This is not even counting friends, guildies, etc. whom one finds trustworthy.

There is no reason to die to a bandit PKer except carelessness.

Cutthroat, now that's a different story. I like cutthroat. I think it's absolutely hilarious to enter someone else's instance and kill them, and I even think it's hilarious when it happens to me and my party. I mean, we're playing CT, that's what we signed up for. With a larger player base, though, I would definitely recommend controls to be implemented, since camping is always an issue. (Potential control measure: damage scaling on level difference?)

A long-term CT league, whether HC or SC, is likely to be guild-dominated and run a lot of maps. Maps are THE safe haven, given the portal system. The Eternal Lab is a public instance, though, so one has to be careful coming back through the gateway...because logging out/in is for cheaters, so of course everyone's going to do it. That might be an issue.

On the third hand, equipment standards in this game are ridiculously varied. That has to be fixed if any longer-term CT leagues are to ever find their footing. Since items drop on death, there will essentially be zero pollution issue with SC leagues (see also Descent: Champions) so it may be possible to make CT the basis for self-found league, or crafting league, or any other idea that has already been stated. Crafting league in particular. Balance is either everyone mediocre or everyone OP, and while I do see certain builds being superior, item distribution is a much greater threat to build equality in a PvP setting. And as long as we're talking about fooling around with item mechanics, may as well remove Aegis, etc.

There's a lot more to balancing a long-term CT league, or even a longer-term one than 5 hours, but just some thoughts from a balance perspective. I would love to see it happen.

someone else's thoughts on the matter

I've been asked to go back on SC and play PvP. Apparently <ICU> is the #1 SC PvP guild, and let's be honest here, there's no real reason to do serious PvP in any other league, because SC is where all the best items are, and because PvP is - by design - isolated from the rest of the game. PvP tournaments are coming out soon, too.

And then there was that one guy who posted a speedhack build for capture-the-flag play.

I feel that PvP is not well enough explored, but I recognise the trouble of balancing PvP - for all situations or otherwise - in a primarily PvE game. It's not even easy to do in a primarily PvP game. PvE's just simpler all around.

We'll see.

Why is HC so dead?

Well no, it's not dead per se. Just that the player distribution numbers were released recently and it works out to, approximately:
50% Domination
26% Nemesis
22% SC
2% HC

SC is easily understandable, a fair few of my friends chose to stay on SC for various reasons. Not the least of which was "no way I'm going to start over, look how much net worth I've built up." Domination I also understand - it's the ones who don't mind starting over, regardless of gear, and the ones who don't have gear anyway. Doesn't hurt that they came out with release, and it's the default league for new characters.

The SC/HC divide has always favoured SC, and SC is a good playground to learn the game in. But think about it for a minute. The Nemesis/HC divide does not at all look similar to the Domination/SC one.

I submit that the primary reason for such an inequality is simply this: HC players already accept the necessity of starting over every so often. There is significantly less attachment to a given character, knowing that when it dies, that's it, game over. Thus, "starting over" is less of a barrier to players who favour the HC style of play, and a greater proportion will head over to the new league(s). 

Good or bad? I don't know. I'm not sure anything could be done to raise the population on HC, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure I would want to. A general population increase would work. However, it's too early to tell if that would even be necessary, since I predict a number of new players who start in Nemesis will eventually stick with HC, where their characters end up after the league ends, and where items such as Voll's Devotion and Shavronne's Revelation are available for greater build-crafting variety.

Making a bow templar

The idea: stacking multipliers, generally speaking, but really I just like Chin Sol. Build is based on the one I always recommend to new players because it's really, really cheap and safe. thread link

This is going to be a templar because...I want to make a bow templar. Dex on gear will carry me until I reach duelist.

RoA, totem, added fire, conc.e, WED

Supported by point blank, blackgleam, chin sol. Do the math on the damage formula. Bonus points for traps, because trapping still works with dual-totems. Ditto the above links except with trap in place of totem. Maybe lose one of them for multi-trap.

More bonus points for split-arrow with life-on-hit. Pretty sure Frenzy still gives charges when dealing no damage too, must test that out, but it's a thought. 

build link

Now here's the concept part. Way back when, I read a guide for a party MF build running quill rain split arrow. Culling strike on self-attacks works with dual totems, so I figure I can pull that off with minimal investment, though I'll probably need a BM gem on split arrow. (It's likely that or Thief's Torment, and my ring slots are better off with Andvarius.) Since I'm running MF, and since I have links to play around with, it's possible to just put the standard sporker MF links on totems. Because why not.

I may or may not suicide him into SC to do exactly that, once Nemesis is over. It's a serious consideration, since I won't be playing vanilla HC like ever.

Crown of Eyes: sustained RF in combat

Someone else got to it first, which is just as well because I can't afford any of this. But I theorycraft a lot of LL builds so why not. thread link

The idea: to run sustained RF PA in combat (which is where it matters) for attack damage. Though I suppose the craft works for spells too.

We either need to stack regen or heal all the damage and then some. Note that taking 10% damage per second is seriously no joke. Therefore, claws. I freely admit to being biased, but the amount of insane crap my dual-claws can take while still dishing out more-than-respectable dps is what gave me the idea that RF might be sustainable to begin with.

Skill links: anything that goes well with claws. More damage the better, but I don't particularly care right now. BM - TS - Purity of Fire - RM is a good setup to reach low life with. On regular mana, I imagine I'll be running Hatred.

Items: Crown of Eyes, Shavronne's Wrappings, Phoenix (in all likelihood), Rainbows, Shavronne's Revelation, and resist/ES stat sticks on the rest. Might still have to run regular old Purity in addition to Fire anyway.

build link

Thought process:
> Well let's run RF PA...that means claws, and an ES build. That means VP, because instant leech is just too good and Bloodseeker is crap damage. Also likely means Phoenix.
> CI VP? Better be Scion as a start. Not to mention she's got a lot of resists in that particular route, and looking at the item list, resists are going to be a pain. I suppose I could go through the dex route from any other start, but then I wouldn't get nearly as much str.
> Ohsnap, but am I really going to run VP on an RF build? Shav's Revelation does bypass VP, being direct ES regen, so I'm definitely going to put that in. I know mana leech can sustain claw skills just fine, works for me.

Potential issues:
- not as much block chance as I'd like
- unwavering stance, it's a pain, but necessary on CI/LL since I really don't think I can afford to give up a potential resists slot for Eye of Chayula. At least it's pretty well right next to VP.
- ias and accuracy issues, probably be using blood rage and get ias that way, but acc is going to suck. Big time. Might be worth going ranger start, or going through dex route instead of being a scion, to get extra acc nodes.
- this is going to make a REALLY FUN leveling build, I swear it is.
- SC only, until shav's revelation finds its way back in. I have only one of these, since I figure it's a really bad idea to use two of them at once (that's why Shavronne lost her war.)

evasion tank

Tiurakh build

I switched to double-strike from dagger flickermulti when the xp lost to reflects approximately equaled the xp gained from grinding, on my flicker build. Yeah. That teaches me to make non-CI flickermulti, for sure.

Love evasion tanking. Doesn't do nearly as well as my dual-claws in both survivability and damage terms, but then he's using a 320pdps claw while this one's using a 200dps dagger, and nothing beats claws for survival. Might consider switching in the claw and just continuing as normal.

Also, doublestrike is the only skill I actually don't mind splash/multi on. Something about the animation just makes it super smooth. Not to mention, my dagger is 1.9aps.

Bonus points because this is the character I used to try out Dominus, new quests, Orchard, etc. She wasn't hit by a forced reset. Amazing, isn't it? Both the others in this level range got bitten by Berserking getting moved up, but I hadn't taken that node here because it's an ias node and I was having trouble sustaining 10aps flicker.

glacial hammer build

Winter is Coming

mostly I just wanted a phys staff build and a glacial hammer build and I decided to put them together

leveled to 38 or something as spark, please never try that it sucks

used the reset gratefully (think this was the IR reset)

leveled as facebreaker to 58 because that was the level of the staff I bought and I have facebreaker gear

spent like an hour and lots of chromatics testing assorted gem combinations

and then soloed the a3m questline and killed piety

farmed docks for a bit, got bored, so that's that

got bitten by the damage formula

thought I'd share a story

so I wanted to make a freeze and burning proliferation build, also because I still think CtF is underused

so I took the standard dual totems ice spear build and stuck a CtF into it

leveled up the character to 53, went dual totems

and it was doing like 20 damage burns

spell totem: 40% less damage (multiplier: 0.6) this was before release
GMP: 50% less damage (multiplier: 0.5)


(I made it double flametotem/incinerate, it worked fine - sort of - but my computer hated the particles so I didn't play it a whole lot after that)

making cold snap work

never made a wander, need to rectify that
also, cold snap

ele hit - GMP - cast on crit - cold snap - LL - (WED, proliferation?)
what do wanders do for single target anyway? probably a variant of whatever it is I have up there

yes that's a cold snap, CI with voll's obviously, so blood rage, etc etc

it'd use a lightning and local crit wand, spell stats preferred but those do tend to kick the price up something awful


have I mentioned how much I hate the trek down to VP yet

also mana starvation is probably going to be an issue, soul siphon is a possibility
might go down to conduit
unwavering stance probably a better idea than arrow dodging
needs more shield nodes

going to level as fp until I get a 5L voll's and level idk 50+ most probably

- cold snap probably not the best choice but I want a cold snap build
- quillrain/split-arrow probably work too but I want a wand build and wands can roll stats good for coldsnap too. Also, ele hit proliferation, weapon lightning, shock damage, plus wands have actually existent local crit

animate guardian?

so today I learnt that the guardian is apparently persistent through logout regardless of how long you logged out for

this means I can actually put like actual gear on it

thread link

also animate weapon is super funny, I got one last race as a drop and it was hilarious, though ineffectual (animating level 10~ weapons does kind of do that to one)

dual claws guide

Dual Claws Are Cool

Concept: lifesteal tank

Wanted to make one of these since pretty much the first time a claw dropped. So I spent like way long planning it out. This was when whirling blades and lightning strike were the only two claw-usable AoE skills, not even kidding. Started off as a CI GR build (because there were exactly two unique claws at the time, and so if you wanted to use a unique it was Essentia or nothing, and we were all noobs at the time so uniques were supposedly awesome.)

And then cyclone. Best thing since sliced bread, figured out the tricks to it pretty quickly so I didn't desync. Right about here is where I picked up IR and loved it. Blind too - this was back when people thought it was useless. Heh.

And then melee splash and multistrike, so like, whoa. Somewhere around this time, evasion changes happened too, specced out of IR and never looked back. (Got a full reset with the ranger skilltree rework.) Bloodseeker happened too, somewhere along this line. I beat Piety at level 60~ with 1.8k HP, though I think that was before the Lunaris upgrade.

From here on, it's all optimising.

Bringer of Rain came out. I upgraded my claw to 320pdps. Etc. And IIQ/IIR. Did a few runs at level 80 to see exactly what I could or couldn't get away with in MF terms, but eventually settled on regular capped resists and about 2.5k HP. For maps, I basically switched out the MF amulet and ring for HP/damage ones (I was resist capped without them anyway), and the MF gems for BM/AoE.

ice ranger guide

Ice Pierce Crit Ranger

Concept: shotgunning with IS AoE

Saw a post somewhere in gameplay help that mentioned ice shot overlap, it caught my fancy, and I asked a bunch of mechanics questions to make sure my understanding of how the skill and its keywords worked was right. (I was a noob at the time, okay.)

Started crafting the build based on "more" multipliers. The original intent was Chin Sol Point Blank, and I did use a Chin Sol for a good few levels. Switched to GMP starting from here, because IMO CS works better with GMP (local spread is important when you're close up.) Also at this point, switched to a BM gem because mana leech wasn't cutting it. GMP made the difference there.

Somewhere along the line, I realised I was offscreening even when I wasn't trying to, and so I didn't see the point in point blank any more, pun intended. And I got a lovely crit Imperial so I swapped out of CS.

Decided to get into power charges for more crit chance, picked up a Voll's. That got me through to 77 maps. When my friend found (bought?) a Thief's Torment, I borrowed it for a couple minutes and absolutely loved it, so obviously I just had to get one. Freed up the BM gem slot, and therefore I get to run WED on a 4-link.

Then I picked up a Tabula for cheap. One link to PCoC since I was giving up Voll's, but I got one more I could use for Pierce. The difference was huge, since I wasn't cursing PW in parties anyway. And that was that. Played to 86 on this setup.

first post

Just wanted a post to stick the tag on to, guilty as charged. Currently weekending so there will be a distinct lack of actual gameplay related posts. 

Comments are always welcome. Keep it civil and nondestructive. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.