Sacred 2:Talk to the Hand! - A ranged Shadow Warrior build,
Talk to the Hand! - A ranged Shadow Warrior build,
Currently level 77, finished Gold at 58, 19% campaign cleared on Platinum.
Disclaimer: At this time I have not taken this build to niob so waste your time at your own risk! I will update this guide whenever I deem it necessary as I progress. If the build ultimately fails I will take down this guide or revise it to reflect the new build. With all that said however, I've deleted and remade this build 3 times now to get to this point so I'm very confident that it is a good build. My last two builds might have worked out as well, I just didn't feel that they could go from 1-200 without dying is all, fundamentally they were sound but lacking just a little bit more than I would have liked to have seen. I took both of those builds to the end of gold(one was 58, the other 56) with 0 deaths. I just didn't want to spend any more time on them once I decided to revise the core builds.
Now, this has allowed me to amass quite a chest full of gear to pass down, I also have a Bargaining toon(currently only 42 but able to flip +2 and occasionally +3 to all skills jewelry) so most of my experience with this build is slightly skewered because of this. However it's nothing really big, the gear is a couple of set pieces and the lowest stuff I had was like two pieces at level 20, most of it was 35+ so in those early stages I only had the benefit of +12 to all skills going on with some gold Enhance runes. So while it was a bit overpowered due to my "grandfathering" I don't think that anyone new would have too many issues running this build from the start. I would highly advise that you consider a Bargaining character to level up alongside it though because that skill can make your character, and any characters you make after it, so beastly that it is more than worth the time invested in leveling up a toon solely for the purpose of enhancing your enjoyment of other characters. Just try to funnel as much cash to that toon as you can, even if it means buying junk from a merchant and then using that bargaining character to sell it back at a fraction of the cost.
Ok on to the meat of this thread:
As I said in my disclaimer at the top, this is the 3rd iteration of this build. It is a ranged Shadow Warrior build, vastly different from the summoner builds you will have likely seen by now.
Here are the things I wanted to accomplish with this build:
1. No summons at all. I hate their AI and did not like the thought of 70% of my character was tied to the limits of that AI 2. Lots of offensive as well as defensive potential. I didn't want a glass cannon but I also didn't want to sit their wailing on bosses for days looking like some EQ boss raid. 3. A build that featured Spectral Hand as its cornerstone Combat Art.
What you can expect from this build:
1. No summons. 2. Great boss damage as well as the ability to wipe large packs out quickly. 3. Strong surivability. 4. A ranged playstyle.
So I started with running a perma-stealthed ranged weapon-based Spectral Hand with Demonic Blow, Scything Sweep and Frenzied Rampage for crowds which just wasn't very fun to me and was kind of awkward in my opinion. Deleted in Gold at 56.
I then went to a Spectral Hand/melee build using a 2h hafted weapon and Demonic Blow and Frenzied Rampage for crowds...and running Grim Resilience and Reflective Emanation to allow me to survive unstealthed. This just turned out to be entirely too many skills spread out trying to cover it all and ultimately faltering in Gold to the point I knew it wouldn't make it to Niob. Octagolamus was ripping me up a bit harder than I was comfortable with seeing and the orc champs were starting to take a bit longer to kill and hitting harder than I would have liked. I didn't die on this guy but it was too close too many times. Deleted in Gold at 58.
This time around I can already feel that this build has the single target and crowd damage I want along with the survivability while being a fun and challenging build...while still being strong enough to make it through to the end. I've been pushing this one as much as possible to ensure it's a good build. I went straight for Gar'Colossus on him, killed the Wild Boar at 12 on the way without having to use a potion, he was dead within 20 seconds. Got to Gar at 13 and again, did not need to pot. It did take me 30-40 seconds to down him which I will accept at that level considering he took a bit to finally throw a rock so my first bone tower was just hacking away at his shield for its full duration. He died shortly after dropping the second tower. Right after that I took it to Holos. I wiped the undead on the road heading east out of Thylysium quite easily and I got to Holos at 15. Used one potion on him and he was down at the same time the bone tower was finished.
This build is a boss-killer from the start make no mistakes about that. Quaff a potion any time your health drops and you'll still find yourself with more and more potions every time you look while allowing zero chance for anything to strip your survival bonus. By 75 you'll probably find that only necessary on rare occasions and usually due to pushing the limits of this build just to know where that limit lies.
Level 2: Astral Lord Focus (75)
Cuts down on your regen time for Spectral Hand and will allow you to eat more runes.
Level 3: Astral Lord Lore (75)
Increases the damage, crit chance and casting speed of Spectral Hand.
Level 5: Combat Discipline (75)
Increases your Combat Art damage with every point and for our two combos it will knock off some of the regen time.
Level 8: Ancient Magic (75)
Increases the damage of Skeletal Fortification. Not sure if the reduction in spell resistance of your opponents matters much to this build, either way it comes with mastery regardless, the increased damage is more than enough to warrant this skill in the build.
Level 12: Armor Lore (75)
Put points here as you feel you need them. I like to keep it high enough that I can wear armor 5-10 levels above me at a minimum and that's how I decide how many points to go into each level. Using lots of +all skills jewelry in your gear should make this very easy to accomplish so it can probably stay at 1 point until you're ready to master it if you have that option.
Level 18: Combat Reflexes (75)
This basically replaces Reflective Emanation in our build(which by the way will be running with 0 buffs from 1-200). It might not be as good as a fully modded RE with lots of runes read but it also doesn't slap a regen penalty on us so it's a very nice compromise. It also reduces the chance to receive a crit from melee hits, helping smooth out your damage taken. Anybody that's ever been in the orc champ cave knows that at times those guys spike your health so bad that some characters don't have time to respond and we all know what happens then.
Level 25: Shield Lore (75)
Now this skill can be changed out if you like. I took it to add some survivability to the build. I had quite a few nice shields gathered up from my other characters who did not use shields in their builds and I wanted to make a build that would finally use a 1h/shield combo. If you don't have a Blacksmith character yet and play on PC then you might consider using this slot for it. If you want to get even more damage out of this build consider Hafted Weapons and rocking a beefy 2h hafted weapon. Research has been done that shows the increase in chance to hit by this skill(Hafted Weapons) does benefit Spectral Hand so you could get by with less -opponent chance to evade in your gear and of course it unlocks the hafted weapons modifiers you'll find on most hafted weapons. So decide if you would like defense, utility or offense now or just skip down and put this off for level 60 if you're still not sure.
Level 35: Constitution (75)
This is the level where I start to farm the orc champion cave for 5-10 levels of quick xp before slogging through the rest of the campaign and, as anyone who's ever been in that cave can tell you, these guys hit HARD. Now is a great time to boost your HP. You should also consider adding 2 points to this skill every level so you can master it at 75.
Level 50: Toughness (75)
Some nice damage mitigation here. Every points add a set amount of armor to all your armor types, meaning physical and all 4 forms of elemental damage. 15-20 armor for all 5 of those types every point really adds up in the long run. Furthermore, it grants a flat percentage reduction in damage taken. At 200 points you'll get nearly a 20% reduction in damage taken off of every single form of damage you might take...after the fact that this skill beefs up your first line of defense(your actual defense value for the form of damage incoming) and is a good place to consider putting some extra points later on if +skills isn't getting it to 200.
This is where we make up for not having Grim Resilience. Increases spell resistance(as the name implies, duh), reduces the chance to take a crit from spells(supposedly all Combat Arts are considered spells in this regard, if so then this skill is simply amazing) and at mastery it provides a reduction to detrimental effects.
In my opinion though it's going to be based more on your gear than anything and you're better off saving those points until you're pretty much at a stopping point with your character and then tweaking your skills as a final touch to the build before you put it into semi-retirement.
I did a 50/50 split between Vitality and Intelligence. Every level put one point into Vitality, once you start getting more points each level put those extra points into Intelligence. This will give you a nice boost to your HP from 1-50 and then from 50-200 you'll continue boosting your HP while increasing your damage and spell intensity.
Edit: At times, dependent on gear and playstyle, you might opt to put those extra points into Stamina. This will allow you to eat more runes for Spectral Hand. Skeletal Fortification should hardly matter, with Focus mod you're going to be hard pressed to get its cooldown past its duration. You might opt to go with Stamina from 50 on with your extra points and only put points into Intelligence later in the game. Some things you simply need to decide for yourself based on your specific character.
1. Skeletal Fortification. Usually shaves about a second off the cooldown, not much but worth it.
2. Augmenting Guidon, Rousing Command. I use this as my boss-killer combo, opening up the fight by laying them down after the bone tower pops up and usually getting the kill before they run their full duration. I don't know if the boost to attack value helps or not but the defense value boost from Augmenting Guidon will at the very least. Keep these two Combat Arts at max level, they won't be very high with this build so you won't need many runes.
Spectral Hand: Clout, Intent, Double Attack. More damage, more crits, and a chance to double that more damage and more crits on occasion and one-shot some champions, enough said. Actually enough said about the mods, I would like to talk about Spectral Hand though since it is the Combat Art that this build is built around. Now this is the best info I could get on it, just going by my own research as well as other people's research...if you find something wrong or debateable plus speak up, there is so much wrong info being spread about this game because one person says something does work while another swears it doesn't and a lot of the time you just make a decision in which one you're going to believe based simply upon who delivered the stronger argument and what you can go into the game and test yourself:
1. Spectral Hand is a weapon-based attack. The damage is increased by your weapon's base damage. It is also increased by Intelligence, Astral Lord Lore, Combat Discipline and finally items that increase physical damage(this can be confirmed by equipping a % physical damage increase ring and looking at the tooltip for Spectral Hand). 2. Tactics Lore does nothing for Spectral Hand. 3. Your chance to hit is determined by your Attack Rating. This one is questionable but it seems to be somewhat true according to this thread by Tarnsman:
I'm a bit pessimistic about the data since he only used a 10 swing window in which to determine his results but since I play on Xbox 360 and have no access to premade level 200 characters this is all I have to go by.
(With that said though, -% chance for opponent to evade on your gear is a much easier way to reduce the number of misses you might see instead of taking two skills(referring to Speed Lore and Hafted Weapons as per Tarnsman's thread) that are of very little benefit to this build and/or dumping points into Strength or any other way you could think of for raising your attack rating. -40% chance for opponent to evade is more than enough for this build and can be accomplished with about 4 pieces of jewelry at level 25 and it costs even less at higher levels. If I didn't have a +skill amulet laying around I would slap this stat into those gold sockets and only sacrifice three sockets in my gear to wipe away misses.)
4. Spectral Hand deals its damage in the form of whatever element you have runed to your weapon. Once again this is confirmed by looking at the tooltip for the spell. If you have no element runed to your weapon it will be full yellow(meaning 100% physical), adding a 50% fire will make it half yellow/half red. You get the point now I'm sure. This is a huge boon for this build because it allows you to change your elemental damage at any time assuming you either have extra weapons slotted with different elements or you have access to a walking blacksmith(which may very well be, you). I prefer to walk around with two weapons slotted, one with fire and the other with magic with fire being on my strongest and most used weapon. This seems to work really well for most of the game.
5. Regeneration per Hit works with Spectral Hand. Thanks to Chattius for bringing this to my attention. I've had a chance to play with it a bit and from my early testings it works kind of like this:
As we already know, your casting speed is "sped up" by Astral Lord Lore. My casting speed atm(level 71) with 34 soft points and around +43 to all skills is around .1 to .2 seconds I would say. It's pretty fast but there's still a noticeable animation(at high levels this thing should be almost a blur). I socketed a .6 regen per hit ring into a piece of my gear giving me a .7 sec regen per hit. My SH regen time is 1.3 seconds. So I hit my SH button at "T minus 1.3 seconds" if you will. At 1.1 seconds or so the casting animation is finished and the hit registers. Regen per hit of .7 secs then subtracts from that 1.1 seconds giving me a .4 second regen. Now I take that .4 second regen and add my casting speed of .1 to .2 seconds giving me a regen of .5 to .6 seconds for my Spectral Hand. Now this is simply my personal observations on it but this seems to be the way it works. For me this .5 to .6 second regen is perfect and in the future I'll probably try to balance my runes read in such a way as to keep this regen as I come across higher amounts of regen per hit. I recommend only one ring, amulet or socket being devoted to this stat.
Now, back to the rest of my Combat Art choices:
Skeletal Fortification: Focus, Arcane Power, Scatter Shot. Ice Shards or Arcane Power are purely up to the player, some bosses will have resistances to one or even both elements so sometimes you picked the wrong one and sometimes you picked the right one, either way it won't make or break the build. Focus is huge for this build. This mod will allow you to keep this Combat Art at max level allowed without penalty and still be under the 20 second cooldown line you're going to draw for yourself. Remember that in a combo with Combat Discipline you're going to shave another second or so off the cooldown so always check your cooldown based upon what the tooltip says for the combo, not the tooltip for the actual Combat Art. This Combat Art is pure pain when you drop it. This is what you drop when you want to kill champions, crowds and bosses. SF combined with SH will wipe out crowds very quickly and bosses are a joke. To give some perspective at 24 I have this at level 23 and it does 1.2-1.4k damage at a .8 second firing rating and two projectiles(which seems to only work when there are more than one(1) enemies so sometimes it's not 100% on bosses but it wrecks crowds extremely well. My Spectral Hand is only at 1.1 sec regen and does about half as much damage. At 12 it practically was my damage whenever I dropped it. Spectral Hand will win in the end due to scaling, cooldown and maneuverability but at low levels the bone tower really rips through stuff in comparison and really never does become lackluster.
Shadow Veil: Creep, Nimble, Sinister Pact. My "AFK" button lol. Seriously though, I have kids and a life and sometimes I just need to go afk right at that second and throwing a fully modded, max level Shadow Veil up ensures that so long as stuff doesn't walk right up on top of me I'm about as safe as you can be while being afk. Just don't afk for too long and don't blame me if you die, exit out of the game next time you lazy sod! Now I took Nimble for the silver mod simply so at those lower levels before I was able to max my movement rate I could put this on as a buff and just run through the swamp without having to fight. I hate the swamp that much that I intentionally blow through it only stopping to do what needs to be done to further the campaign quest. Obviously it is a completely worthless mod later on but then so is Fade since I don't play stealthed with this build. You could grab Fade here and turn this into a perma-stealthed build if you wanted to and it will work just like it does for those summoner builds that utilize it. I just found that playstyle really boring but to each his own.
Quite simple really, spam Spectral Hand at everything! Drop Skeletal Fortification whenever you find yourself in the middle of a large pack whether by design or happenchance and keep the bone tower up for bosses.
This is basically it in a nutshell. Keep It Simple, Stupid if you're familiar with the acronym. Something I should have considered myself apparently.
Originally published at DarkMattersfor review and discussion.