Saturday, July 12, 2008

CoH: Archery / Fire Blaster build

I wasn't sure how to name this post. My initial title had been Blappers Still Don't Exist, since I recently had the displeasure to run into a couple of idiots still trying to play their blasters in melee combat. Even after explaining that the new Defiance was built to eliminate blapper-style play, some people still think it's a good idea. Instead of simply going over the facts and figures again, I decided this time I could simply show why their is no blapper class, by simply showing off my recently respecced and nearly IO complete Archery / Fire blaster. As far as I know, I'm the only archery / fire blaster in play in the City of Heroes game, so it's probably pretty obvious to other CoH players who I'm showing off.

This picture shot is also a little bit more complex and longer than the last build guide I did, the one for my ice / mace tank, which was more complex than the kin / elec defender build. While I'm not entirely in favor of the new detailed information available for each power set, simply because I feel the detailed information removes the aspect of playing a class for fun rather than specifications, the detailed information is going to be useful in proving how the change to defiance in the follow-up patch to the Issue 11 release.

As a quick refresher, prior to the Issue 11 patch blasters recieved a damage bonus that was attached to their health bar. The less health a blaster had, the more damage a blaster would cause. With the Issue 11 patch, blasters received a stacking damage bonus, where each attack would cause the amount of damage dealt to increase. The new Defiance also enables blasters to use their first 3 powers under any status effect that would block power activation, such as being held, slept, or stunned.

So, lets get started.

The theme behind my archery / fire blaster is actually one of control, and as a running joke on the blapper name, this build is often referred to as a bloller, which is an intentionally bad combination of blaster and controller. The point of most blasters is that they are damage dealers, so as always, almost all of the primary powers are taken. I only skipped one, the Stunning Shot power simply because there wasn't any room left in the build.


The first slight change to the shots, making sure that all of the pool powers and epic powers are visible.


Snap Shot: My love of frankenslotting continues. Snapshot is actually one power that I only picked up a couple respecs ago. For the better part of 27months playing time, snap shot was just too weak to use. It is, however, very quick, and costs little endurance to use. Take a look on the right hand side of the screen for a second though. We have most of the same information again, but we can also see the effect on Defiance. Snap Shot delivers a boost of 6.60 strength for a little over 8 seconds.


So lets look at the enhancements behind the buffs. For the first 4 IO's I used the Thunderstrike set, which offers a bonus recovery of 2%, along with a base accuracy boost of 7%.


Then there is the Devastation set. It only takes two IO enhancements for a hefty 12% boost to regen. It also doesn't hurt that Devastation offers a Chance to Hold IO. With a 15% chance to hold on a really quick power, Snap Shot turns into a its only a matter of time. There is nothing quite like a Blaster laying down a complete hold on Ghost Widow.



Aimed Shot: For a long time the Aimed Shot was the default power of choice. Even with a better recharge boost, 59.3% versus Snap Shot's 39.7% boost, Aimed Shot's recharge time is still just about double that of Snap Shot's recharge time, (1.43s * 2) = 2.86s versus Aimed Shot's 3.77s. This gives the completely weird situation where the weaker power, Snap Shot, is more powerful over time, as Snap Shot will do 206.6 points of damage in under 3 seconds, where as Aimed Shot will do 161.73 point of damage in just over 3 seconds. That being said, Aimed Shot has it's advantages too, and chains well into an attack combo. For starters, the Defiance buff is an 11.00 buff to strength.



The majority of the power behind Aimed Shot is once again delivered by the Thunderstrike IO set. So like Snap Shot, Aimed Shot offers a 2% recovery boost and an overall 7% accuracy boost.



If that weren't enough, Aimed Shot is also equipped with two Devastation IOs, with that nice 12% regen bonus. Then there is another Chance for Hold.



Fistfull of Arrows: Surprisingly, a Power I wind up using very rarely. The relative idea is that Fistfull of Arrows offers a shotgun type attack for mobs. However, even with a hefty damage boost, Fistfull of Arrows is surprisingly weak, barely better than Snap Shot, and much slower to boot. The Defiance buff isn't high either, with a 3.20 point rating. However, Fistfull of Arrows is a Targeted AOE power...


That translates into Positron's Blast IO's, and the various boosts that go along with the set, such as the 2.5% recovery boost, 9% boost to accuracy, and a boost to recharge speed. The special IO, chance for energy damage, also adds in a bit of punch that Fistfull of Arrows normally lacks.



Blazing Arrow
: Another power listed as ranged damage, so it's probably already obvious what the IO buffs are going to be. Blazing Arrow forms part of my normal attack chain, which runs like this: Snap Shot - Aimed Shot - Snap Shot - Blazing Arrow - Snap Shot - Aimed Shot - Snap Shot - Blazing Arrow - Snap Shot.... and so on. Blazing Arrow also features the strongest Defiance Buff so far, with a 12.10 point buff.


As you were probably expecting, Thunderstrike again features as a 4 slot IO Set.


No Surprise on the appearance of Devestation IO set and the Chance to Hold. With all three ranged attack powers having the Chance to Hold IO, fights become a question of will it live long enough to get held?



Explosive Arrow: Another power that isn't actually used that often by me. It's not that explosive Arrow is weak, although it is a weak power with a base damage value barely higher than Snap Shot. It's not the realitively weak Defiance Buff either, at it's 3.70 point boost.

It's more of the distaste I have for knockback. Due to my lack of defense I try to play with tanks or scrappers who can take aggro, and most aggro holders hate having to play chase the flying freakshow. Having been on the receiving end of knockback happy energy blasters, I decided to de-emphasize the Explosive Arrow pattern in my attack chains. That doesn't mean I didn't get a good boost to regeneration rate out of the IO slotting though...


Or that I didn't pass on the chance to pick up a Chance for Recharge bonus either off the Force Feedback IO set.



Aim: Not much to say on Aim. Although this will actually be a point when I get to the secondary powers. Note the current To-hit buff versus the damage buff.


The IO's in use come from the Adjusted Targeting set, which is currently boosting both recovery and accuracy.



Ranged Shot: The long range sniper shot. Another one I don't use very often, mostly because Ranged Shot is barely more powerful than Blazing Arrow (~322 versus ~316). Granted, Ranged Shot isn't exactly pushing into ED with it's 86.6% damage boost, so some higher level IO's will probably make up some ground.


Talking about the IO set, it's Sting of the Manticore. One of the factors to be noted here is that the power could have taken the Ranged Damage combination I used on Snap Shot, Blazing Arrow, and Aimed Shot. However, with slots running out, I went after a set that would benefit the sniper attributes, such as Interupt Time, as well as giving a Regeneration, Damage, and Recharge boost.



Rain of Arrows / Thunderous Blast
(Defender vs. Blaster vs. Rain of Arrows):

Rain of Arrows is often referred to as a half-nuke. Unlike most other blaster sets (ice I believe being the only other exception), Archery gets a nuke that isn't a nuke. Basically most blasters, and defenders for that matter, have a single power that does a metric ton of damage. As I commented in the Kin / Elec build, the Thunderous Blast was about the only time such a defender would be seen killing enemies. Actually, as a refresher, here's my Kin / Elec's Defender Nuke with the new detailed information.


As can be seen, the Defender nuke does massive damage, with an average damage around 373.69 points of damage. The Defender nuke also has an extremely high recharge time with 4m44s between nukes, not to mention the -1000 on recovery rate, and the automatic -40 endurance on top of the default activation 12.87. So, that's a defender nuke. Before we get back to Rain Of Arrows, lets look at the base values on an electric blaster.


Ouch. At level 50 a defenders base nuke damage is 193.62 points of Damage. At the same level, a blaster has a starting value of 305.89 points of damage. That's about 63% of the power a blaster offers, and the highest ratio a defender will ever see. So, how do these compare to Rain of Arrows?

In comparison Rain of Arrows doesn't actually do a lot of massive damage. It's actually weaker than either Ranged Shot or Blazing Arrow, with under 300points of damage on a boost that's creeping into ED, and a base value even weaker than a Defenders true nuke. However, it has an incredible low recharge time, a higher base accuracy value, and none of the punishments associated with a full nuke.



As can probably be expected, Positron's Blast provides the power behind Rain of Arrows. So once again base accuracy, recovery, and recharge times are boosted.



Alright, that wraps up the primary offensive side. Now to take a look at the manipulation powers that back up the ranged punch my blaster offers.

Ring of Fire: Like all secondary sets, the first power can't be skipped. Which isn't a bad thing. Like Snap Shot and Aimed Shot, the Ring of Fire power can be used even when Blasters are heavily status effected. Ring of Fire is also where the change on the Defiance buff is most noticeable. Remember that part that the new Defiance was built to eliminate Blapper-style play? Remember that the lowest buff on the primary power side was 3.20 points? Ring of Fire's Defiance buff is 0.77 points.


For the IO set I focused shortening the recharge time and boosting the accuracy, which Trap of the Hunter allows me to do. The Chance For Lethal damage was a nice bonus.



Fire Sword: Alright, a real attack power. Finally a melee power that will build up the Defiance Buff! Um, no. Yes, there is a Defiance Buff, of 1.21 points. At 244.36 points of damage with an ED hitting 97.1% damage boost, Fire Sword is the 4th most powerful attack in the set, coming in behind and Rain of Arrows, Blazing Arrow and Ranged shot. That's not really surprising.


Like my tanks and scrappers, Crushing Impact was the choice of IO set, with boosts to both Accuracy and recharge rates.



Fire Sword Circle
: Yes, another melee power that will no doubt reclaim Blapper-style as a good idea! No, not this time either. Setting a new low for the Defiance buff at 0.40 points, Fire Sword Circle also weighs in heavily on the recharge, endurance use, and has a lower base accuracy compared to primary powers.



That being said, Scirocco's Dervish gives pretty respectable boosts to all aspects of the power, while also giving a hefty regeneration and accuracy boost.



Consume: One of the advantages to the Fire Manipulation set is that it offers an Endurance Recovery power. Granted a new record low for the Defiance buff is reached, with a paltry 0.34 point boost. With a boosted endurance recovery rate though, and a high accuracy boost to go along with it, this power really need only 3 enemies around for a full recovery on the endurance.



The bite to Consume is provided by the Efficacy Adaper IO Set, since it offers both recharge and accuracy buffs in the IO's, as well as bonus's to recovery and regeneration.



Build Up: The flip side to the Aim boost shown earlier. In the view of the developers the To-Hit status is more important than the actual damage output. After all, if you can't hit something, you can't damage it. Build Up has a much lower base to-hit buff, but a much higher damage buff.



Once again Adjusted Targeting provides the backing with it's native damage and accuracy buffs.



Hot Feet: The controller theme starts up again with the Hot Feet power. As talked about before Hot Feet has a Mob-Run attached. A damage dealing power, Hot Feet is not.



So it's no surprise that the Pacing of the Turtle set shows up again. If it weren't for the nice 9% accuracy buff, it'd be tempting to frankenslot this power for lower end usage and more damage... However, the 2 slot buffs on most of the Slow IO sets are utter junk.



Combustion: This was actually the second to last power I took, taking it at 47. It eventually will have 4 Scirocco Dervish's which will help boost the power up. To once again focus on the Defiance Buff, as the last two powers didn't affect Defiance, the rating is only 0.61 points.



Okay, that's all the Fire Manipulation powers that I took. As can be easily seen, players expecting to build Defiance using their melee attacks are going to be in for a rough time. Simply put, Blasters are Blasters. They blast, from a distance, using ranged attacks.


Anyways, now lets go over the pool powers that I wound up taking. Now, having actually tested this before, I found that in order to get all of their native powers by level 38, players will need to take 2 pool powers. With the raise of the level cap, players got an additional 4 powers to play around with outside of their primary and secondary sets. The basic idea is that players would be able to get their travel powers, then drop or discard powers that weren't very good, or didn't fit their playing style.

Combat Jumping: Many blasters take super-speed in order to get the Hasten power. I decided to take Combat Jumping for it's massive defense boost and awesome immobilization protection. Yeah. Right. As can be seen, the base defense value is only 1.75%, and no matter how you slot that, it doesn't add up to much. As I confirmed with the real numbers though, pool power effects change with each archtype, and that the immobilization for a blaster wasn't anything to write home about.



Giving Combat Jumping some of it's boost is the Gift of the Ancients IO Set and it's 2% boost to recovery.


Super Jump: No IO buffs here. Just two level 50 crafted IO's which push the jumping straight into the maximum height and speed.



Acrocatics: Recently the Acrobatics power was brought in line with the rest of the pool powers. Previously, Acrobatics offered a knockback protection of 100 points. Native powers, such as my ice tanks Wet Ice and my willpower scrappers Indomitable Will power offer knockback protection of 10points. All other pool powers are intentionally weaker than native powers because they are ancillary powers. Acrobatics was changed to have a native knockback protection of only 9 points. However, unlike Native powers, Acrobatics can be buffed for a little more protection...

Which is what I did. Two end reductions to keep the power draw down, and a crafted knockback IO to place the buff accepting portion of Acrobatics on the positive side of 3 magnitude.



Health: Only one crafted IO in health. Since Blasters aren't exactly designed to hang around in the middle of mobs, dropping slots here meant being able to slot up on some more damage.



Stamina: Since two high level crafted IO's are pushing into ED to begin with, slots could be saved on Stamina that are made up with the numerous IO buffs.



That finishes up the pool powers, so lets look at the Epic Power Set that finished off the build.

Snow Storm: The controller aspect shows up again. Nobody expects the Blaster to debuff, but that wasn't the reason I took the Cold Powers. I took the Cold powers because of a little game called Chrono Trigger. There's just something about being able to shout Fire! Ice! together I am Antipode!



As can be expected, the Pacing of the Turtle IO set gives an accuracy boost.



Frozen Armor: Aside from the pool power Weave, Frozen Armor is one of the few other chances Blasters get at damage resistance or defense...



Of course, being able to slot the Aegis: PSI+ Def / +20% resistance to status effects was a bonus.

I also discovered a bug with the Aegis Unique IO. It is not a passive IO. In order for the effect to occur the power the Aegis Unique IO is on must be active. This makes no sense as the Aegis Unique IO only lessens the amount of time status effects affect the player. However, since most of the status effects the Aegis Unique IO protects against TURN POWERS OFF, the IO itself is useless unless it's placed on an Archtype that already offers protection against those status effects. Of course, if a Tanker or Scrapper is knocked out of their powers, again, the Aegis Unique IO is turned off. To date no response has been given on when the Aegis Unique IO will be made passive, and will work regardless of the state of the power it is attached too.



Hibernate: One of the last reasons I'm not really concerned about the Stamina power being maxed is that if I need to take a moment and Rest in the middle of combat... I can with Hibernate.



Hibernate is backed up by the
3 available recharge IO's in the Efficacy Adapter IO set to bring the 4m recharge time down to 2m20s.



And just one more shot showing the rest of the detailed information for Hibernate.



Okay, there we go. That's my Archery / Fire build. So hows it actually look, once all the buffs are brought together? Well, see for yourself.

Base: Part 1


Base: Part 2 - Movement



Damage Resistance



Defense



Debuff Resistance



Status Effect Protection



Status Effect Resistance



Done then? Not yet.

Blasters and Pool Powers : No, Blappers still don't exist even then


While writing this I can just see some jackass who still thinks blappers are a good idea saying something to the effect that they can make up the melee damage with pool powers! I'm actually getting a little tired of debunking blappers at everything, but I need to go ahead and shut that train of thought down too. So, here's the list of pool power attacks as used by a level 50 blaster. I'll go ahead and spoil the little surprise that's obvious in all the screenshots.

POOL POWERS DO NOT AFFECT DEFIANCE!

Air Superiority



Boxing



Flurry


Jump Kick



Kick



One of things to note is the strength of the powers. The highest powered attack is Flurry, which offers an average unboosted damage of 63. Yes, this is higher than either Fistfull of Arrows or Snap Shot. However, that's countered by the fact that none of the pool attack powers boost the Defiance Buff, and that with only a limited number of slots to have, blasters would have to give up the buffs that are actually useful, such as Haste, Combat Jumping, Hasten, or Hover on their way to the third level or 4th level power. Why waste slots?

So what about other archtypes? Surely the pool attack powers are good on archtypes other than blaster?

Flurry - Controller - 34.99



Flurry - Tank - 50.89



I think my statement stands then. Unless you need to to take a pool attack power to get a higher level buff, such as the case in the fitness pool, just don't bother.

And no, taking pool powers will not automagically make your non-melee archtype into a melee archtype.
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