ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

Brawler Guide
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Author:  Wahaha [ Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:11 am ]
Post subject:  Brawler Guide

This guide is focused on a specific Brawler build. I think people are intimidated by the combo points and grappling. Fortunately, or maybe not so fortunately for the class, it can be played without these things and it's probably the strongest build too. It doesn't use combo points, it doesn't use grapples and it mostly involves punching things very fast for massive damage (I was hitting regularly for over 1k with a few hits over 3k, with 70% attack speed). Comments are welcome, please point out if a skill works better than I think it does.


Brawlers have a lot of free generic points and don't need category points so we have a lot of freedom in race choice and can pick one with a good racial tree.

Cornac – 1/5
The main appeal of Cornacs, the extra category point, is close to useless for Brawlers. Plus you'll end up with way too many generic points.

Higher – 2/5
The regen is based on willpower which Brawlers don't have. Arcane resistance, not very useful. Not using stamina for a few turns is useless.

Shalore – 5/5
Very good racials that are worth having 9 hp per level, in my opinion. All of them should get 5 points.

Thalore – 5/5
12% more damage and 12% damage reduction is good even if you have no willpower. 25 phys and mental save – sure. 10% resist all is very nice and there's 20% blight resist and disease immunity as a bonus. The treants are a good distraction. Only two of these skills need to be 5/5.

Halfling – 3.5/5
Luck of the little folk will boost your crit chance to 100%. Duck and dodge is bad, Brawlers have good defense and don't need extra evasion. Militant mind is ok. Indomitable is good. Good hp bonus.

Dwarf – 3/5
As a brawler you need good gloves. The best way to get good gloves is to buy unique gloves for 4000 gold from the merchant. You have to do this as soon as you get 4000 gold and come back from the Far East. This makes Power is Money not very useful for most of the game. And then you wouldn't be able to buy a 2nd unique item. So this leaves Dwarves with Resilience of the Dwarves which is very good. Stoneskin is bad. Stone Walking is good and worth 1 point. That adds up to about 3/5, only because of the 12 hp per level too.

Yeek – 1/5
15% global speed is amazing. Yeek summons are good as distractions. Everything else about this race works against us. Low hp is the obvious problem. Str, dex and con racial penalties add up to -10 and make our Brawler perform very badly in the beginning.

Skeleton – 4.5/5
Excellent racials that all deserve 5 points and the tree boosted with a category point that you can easily afford to spend. The lack of infusions will require a different playstyle involving a lot of teleporting/controlled phase door.

Ghoul – 3/5
Retch doesn't have the same defensive power as the skeleton tree. Leap is very nice. Gnaw is useless. Good hp but it only serves to make up for the 20% speed penalty. Still decent.


Dex > Cun > Con >= Str

Gauntlet damage is 40% dex, 40% cunning and 40% str.

Dexterity is our most important stat because Pugilism talents, our main source of damage, scale with dexterity. The striking stance damage multiplier also scales with dexterity. Dex is much more effective than str at increasing our damage.

Cunning gives crit, we want a lot of crit. 70%+ crit leads to a lot of damage.

Strength gives physical power, not as good as the other two. Put as little as possible in str until dex and cun are maxed. However, we need 50 str to learn the Flexible Combat prodigy so keep all items with +str to learn flexible combat at lvl 30. You may have to put a few points in str, this is fine because you'll max dex and cun eventually anyway.

Constitution gives hp and that is good but keep it lower than dex and cun.

Max out dex first, then cun. Put points in con once in a while while raising dex and cun. When dex and cun are maxed get str for more damage or more con, it's up to you.

Willpower and Magic are useless.

Skill analysis
Skip to "Skill Order" if you just want the skill order. This part isn't too important.

Class skills

Technique / Pugilism

Pugilism skills and the striking stance are our main source of damage. All of the skills in Pugilism should be 5/5 as soon as possible. These skills and the striking stance bonus benefit A LOT from dex. Boost this tree with a category point – this is important.

Double Strike – activates automatically, makes you punch fast and hard. Don't use it manually.
Spinning Backhand – Excellent damage and a gap closer and even aoe. Use it the same way you use Rush to kill spellcasters. The further you use it from the more damage it does.
The other skills are self-explanatory.

Technique / Finishing Moves

Uppercut – Good damage, 10 second cooldown.
Concussive Punch – Bad damage, bad aoe damage, useless.
Body Shot – Worse than uppercut.
Haymaker – Best damage, 16 second cooldown, requires points in the previous 3 skills to unlock.

Conclusion: 1 point in uppercut at the start, max it later.

Technique / Unarmed Training

Unarmed Mastery – 5/5, no explanation needed.
Steady Mind – Definitely worth 1 point, maybe 2. Brawlers get enough defense from this skill and other sources, you don't need more than 2 points.
Heightened Reflexes – Makes your turn come faster whenever you get shot at. Pretty good. Thanks lukep
Combo String – We don't need combo points.

Cunning / Tactical

Tactical Expert – 1 point. You will get the defense bonus for up to 2 enemies, you don't need more. If you're surrounded by 4+ enemies and taking damage you don't need more defense, you need to get out.
Counter Attack – We don't want to have a chance to hit something when we maybe dodge an attack from a melee enemy. 1 point as a prerequisite for exploit weakness. Watch out, if you're using a movement infusion and something hits you and this triggers, it'll break movement.
Set Up – 1 point as a prerequisite for exploit weakness, 2 points if you need more defense. I never used it.
Exploit Weakness – Very good. Brawlers land a lot of punches and even more so with the flexible combat prodigy. Weak enemies die fast even if you do 10% less damage. Strong enemies will have their physical resistance quickly reduced to nothing. 5/5 and always keep this sustained.

Technique / Grappling

Why weaken an enemy and do damage (very very weak damage) over time when you can kill him in a few hits? We don't get this with this build. Grappling needs a serious buff especially since it's a locked tree. I would make it disable the target harder than it does already, but that is for another thread.

Technique / Unarmed Discipline

Push Kick – Bad damage and knocks away enemies when we need to be in melee range to do damage.
Defensive Throw – It's like Counter Attack but worse.
Breath Control – Brawlers don't have stamina issues.
Roundhouse Kick – Refer to Push Kick.

Technique / Combat Techniques

Rush – Rush is good. Use this to kill spellcasters and archers.
Precise Strikes – Good but not worth it if you can get 80+ crit chance without it. Get it towards the end of the game if your crit chance is less than 70.
Perfect Strike – Nice for killing invisible enemies. Worth 5 points for the final boss.
Blinding Speed – Excellent skill, get it to 5/5 after Pugilism skills are maxed. The long cooldown doesn't matter when everything is dead. Instant activation.

Technique / Combat Veteran

Stamina – Brawlers don't need stamina. If you don't have stamina regen from items put 1 or 2 points in this before the final boss in case it takes longer than expected (it shouldn't).
HP Regen – If your fight is not over fast you have to get out, regen isn't useful.
Spell Shield – I don't value saves much at all and wouldn't get this, you could get it if you do.
Unending Frenzy – Useless for every class?

Cunning / Dirty Fighting

Switch Place might save you once or twice, not worth a category point.

Generic skills

Technique / Field Control

Disengage – Put 1 point in this. Or maybe not.
Track – No point in this.
Heave – We don't want to push enemies away from us, useless.
Slow Motion – If you get Heightened Reflexes this is worth getting too. A big point investment but these two skills should let you dodge most projectiles in the game.

Technique / Combat Training

Thick Skin – 5 points.
Armour Training – 1 point or maybe more if you feel it's necessary. I didn't feel it was necessary or useful but if you want to spend generics here go ahead. Note that this skill does nothing at all if you're wearing a robe or light armor. As long as you have 20 armor mid-game and 30 late that should be enough. I had 30 with light armor.
Combat Accuracy - 0 points. Or maybe 1 point and then take it out. Our high dex and striking stance give enough accuracy.

Technique / Conditioning

Vitality – 5 points. Good for the healing modifier which becomes 30% at around 70 con.
Daunting Presence – Not bad, -19 phys, mind, spell power in a 4 radius whenever you get hit. Far from important, get it when you want to. Set it to auto use with no enemies in view. It'll break movement infusions though.
Unflinching Resolve – 5 points.
Adrenaline Surge – Get it for the free power boost. Set it to auto-use when next to an enemy. I had 16 power for 9 turns. Not a priority of course but compare it to the power boost from say, berserker. It's not bad at all.

Wild-gift / Harmony

We don't really need category points so you can unlock this and put some points in elemental harmony.

Cunning / Survival

Locked and bad, don't get this.

Spells / Stone Alchemy

Good if you can get it.

Celestial / Light

Good for Providence. Don't count on heal and barrier being useful with 0 spellpower.

Skill Order

Early game skills

Uppercut – 1
Double Strike – 5
Relentless Strikes – 5
Spinning Backhand – 5
Flurry of Fists – 5
Unarmed Mastery – 5
Tactical Expert – 1
Steady Mind – 1

You should be level 20 at this point.

The next goal is Blinding Speed. Get the prereqs and get Blinding Speed to 5.
Put 1 more point into Rush to get more range for the spellcasters.
Now we want Exploit Weakness. Get the prereqs and get Exploit weakness to 5.

Use a category point to boost Pugilism.

You should be level 35 or so.

That's it! You're done. Get whatever you want, it won't matter much anyway.


Flexible Combat – This is the best prodigy to get, without doubt. It is a huge damage increase. You need to get 50 str by level 30 but you also should avoid raising str as I mentionned earlier. Collect the +str items. If you can't get 50 str by level 30 delay getting the prodigy for a while or put more points in str.

For the 2nd prodigy at level 42 you have a lot of choice. You can get whatever you want basically. Have fun. I will say this: I got Eye of the Tiger and it was largely useless. I would've gotten Giant Leap or Never Stop Running instead.


Start with regen, wild, healing/shielding. At level 10 get movement. At level 20 get another movement. Get a torque of psychoportation, this is your tele. Get a physical + magical wild infusion if possible.

If you're undead get 2 shielding, 2 tele, 1 phase door. Replace the phase door and maybe tele with controlled phase door when you can.

Fight tactics

Combat is quite simple. You only have 4 active damage skills including rush. You can kill most things in the game in 1 to 3 turns. Use rush and spinning backhand to take out dangerous spellcasters first and use movement infusions to get out when needed. Against bosses activate blinding speed.

If you can't kill something dangerous fast enough, use a movement infusion to get out. Wait for skill cooldowns and go back in.

Ignore combo points, you're only using Uppercut for damage.

Extra notes

When you get 4000 gold and come back from the Far East, visit the artifact merchant and buy some nice gloves. This is very important. You may want to buy another set of gloves with the next 4000 gold too.

Try to get 20 armor by mid-game and 30 armor later. Don't focus too much on how much armor you have, it doesn't matter when you kill anything in a few turns. You also have good defense from dexterity and skills. Don't focus too much on resists either, 50% in the appropriate resists for the area is fine. With +crit chance, crit multiplier and damage increase gear you can kill things so fast they don't have time to damage you. +Life and healmod items are good, get one of these. Get some stun resist. Confusion and blind aren't a big deal with unflinching resolve, and neither is stun for that matter. Especially with a wild infusion.

For the Alchemist Brotherhood, do not get the +2 class points and generic points potions. You don't need them. The potions that increase str and con, dex and cun and +4% crit are the best.

One thing I'm not sure about is how Heightened Reflexes and Slow Motion interact together. Does it let you dodge really fast projectiles, like those with 2000% speed? If they work that way they might be worth getting.

Author:  lukep [ Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

Wahaha wrote:
One thing I'm not sure about is how Heightened Reflexes and Slow Motion interact together. Does it let you dodge really fast projectiles, like those with 2000% speed? If they work that way they might be worth getting.

I found 5/5 Slow motion to be enough to avoid Corruptor projectiles with my archer. 75% slower projectiles means that they go 5 tiles instead of 20, and the fact that turns are not always synchronized means that it usually goes less distance in the first turn.

Heightened Reflexes works differently. It allows you to get your next turn sooner, with +300% heightened reflexes, you will get your next turn in 1/4 the time. This can be very effective against archers (especially groups), as it will allow you to attack, and when you get shot at again, your next turn will come very quickly again.

Combining both could be very effective, possibly allowing you to dodge 2000% speed projectiles at range 1 or 2.

Wahaha wrote:
When you get 4000 gold and come back from the Far East, visit the artifact merchant and buy some nice voratun gauntlets. This is very important. You may want to buy another set of gauntlets with the next 4000 gold too.

I'm curious, why gauntlets over gloves? I would have thought the 20% attack speed bonus would be better, is the increased damage per hit worth it?

EDIT: I code dove, and it's 0.30 damage range, 5% crit, 10 APR, and ~3 base power vs. 25% increased attack speed (0.6 vs. 0.8 turns to attack). The DPS very close, slightly in favor of gloves.

Author:  Frumple [ Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

I'd posit double strike + relentless strikes + striking stance takes some of the benefit away from gloves and towards gauntlets, but... even with that, the 20% attack speed boost on a double proc or better set of gloves is going to do ridiculous things.

Given the number of triggerable stuff on gloves, and especially those ridiculous randart ones that's got like a triple set of the buggers on them, I'd definitely be doing anything I could to maximize attack speed and to blazes with base damage. While it's definitely notably higher damage on gauntlets, it's only 20% higher on absolute minimum damage voratun/drakeskin ones, so... gloves win out in just raw damage with anything but a base damage 23 one. And even with those the greater number of proc chances is going to tilt things in the gloves favor.

Number crunching aside, a end-game brawler is pretty much always going to want gloves. Early to mid game... maybe in the gauntlet's favor. They do have notably better APR and crit chance, and the higher base makes more of a difference before you get to the point you're doing so much damage it doesn't really matter.

Author:  jenx [ Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

I found this very interesting. I have twice lost in the final battle with brawlers, and this post has some good suggestions.

Some thoughts...

The new dirty fighting tree second talent adds stun chance to critical hits making it more attractive now. The first talent adds a second stun and is very valuable.

The points for brawlers help stun etc, so don't have to be ignored as the guide suggested.

Spell save protects against spell shock, which lowers resistances by up to 20%, so is worth investing in.

Defeating spell casters is entirely different than melee. You need enough in melee talents to get to final fight, but no more as they don't matter there. The guide above explains well how to deal with casters ... As fast as possible. So I mostly agree with guide on this.

Grapples with silence take two turns to do, which is another factor against grappling. Halflings and yeeks are smaller and so will never grapple huge creatures unless they get TWO means of size increase.

Anti magic is not worth it as wil is never pumped. Too much is lost to am.

Author:  Wahaha [ Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

Frumple wrote:
Gloves vs Gauntlets

I wasn't sure if gloves would be better, the ones I saw in my game all had significantly less damage and seemed too weak so I ignored gloves and got gauntlets. I'll change the post. Gauntlets are also less affected by enemy armor, and your main damage comes from the physical hits, not the procs. I'm not really familiar with player damage/enemy armor interaction so I'm not sure how important this is.

jenx wrote:
The new dirty fighting tree second talent adds stun chance to critical hits making it more attractive now. The first talent adds a second stun and is very valuable.

I don't bother with stuns because they can be resisted. This might be a mistake but I'm under the impression that anything dangerous resists stuns anyway. I know Urkis doesn't.

lukep wrote:
Slow Motion and Heightened Reflexes

Thanks, added changes.

Author:  jenx [ Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

check out gloves on this character (I doubt I'll improve on them, so they should remain in vault char): ... a59f986cc2

Author:  SageAcrin [ Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

My own thoughts:

Shalore here is...interesting. I don't agree that it's a 5/5 candidate, but on reflection, Timeless should extend some odd things here. I think you'd actually be able to use it to spike Heightened Reflexes movement speed bonus from one turn to six, turning any Heightened Reflexes proc into a movement infusion. Since Heightened Reflexes tends to be on a majority of the time in the lategame, this means that Timeless is essentially a Movement infusion.

Ghoul's probably better than you give credit, not that I've tried it. On paper, though, having glove swing rate means that you stay constantly in control in combat, and Heightened Senses means that you often can disengage enemies effectively. It should probably work okay.

I would say that Dex>Str>Cun>Con. Strength is a great bonus early, and only one tree(Conditioning) runs off Con. +2 HP classes can get by on equipment based bonuses to get Unflinching Resolve going, since they already have a lot of HP. (Vitality's a take it or leave it skill. If you like it, put a bit more priority on Con. Personally I tend to ditch it because I'd rather have the points somewhere else.)

Track is a good skill many players swear by, but results may vary.

Celestial/Light's not really necessary on a class with Unflinching Resolve, in my opinion-a category point and four Generic for a single status cure that isn't instant isn't worth it alone, in my opinion (Though it's worth considering for the undead.). If you're still having status problems, try to pick up Psionic/Dreaming for the extra saves and the useful controlled Phase Door instead, I'd say.

Running a full on Defense tank Brawler is also possible. This was my own build for that-mid-60s Defense on a +2 HP class is very solid in a physical brawl, especially with Brawler's raw damage potential.

In this case, though, you definitely want to cap Steady Mind and build Tactical Expert more than usual, and you really want the Mobility tree to get it running. But it works well-you can hit the useful 40-by-Dreadfell and 60-in-the-East that I generally find the useful baselines for Defense.

Author:  Wahaha [ Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

SageAcrin wrote:

Pugilism skills require dex and you need 44 dex to get flurry of fists to 5. Unarmed Mastery requires cunning and you need 42? cunning to get it to 5. And unarmed mastery gives you way more phys power than str would. That leaves little room for str or con early. If you want to get some strength instead of con and use +con equipment that could work. But since con unlocks conditioning and str doesn't unlock anything I'd rather put some points in con.

My problem with Ghouls is the lack of movement infusions. But they do have leap to almost make up for it. But then -20% speed is still bad. I haven't played a ghoul character yet.

Providence is something I would get because in my game I had 3 deaths to impending doom (different enemies). It was really frustrating and I couldn't do anything about it because I didn't find a physical+magical infusion.

Author:  Judecca [ Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

I'd have to disagree on Tactical Expert being only 1 point--there are plenty of situations that it can let you take down multiple melee enemies with much greater safety than without it, particularly when stacked with Set Up. You don't need to max it of course, but 3 points isn't really a steep investment for a solid bonus, particularly in places like Grushnak Pride's barracks floors.

I'd also have to disagree with the above about AM not being worth it. There are classes that don't pump willpower that can go AM just fine because Fungus is amazing and there's some really great AM gear, like Breath of Eyal or Spellhunt Remnants. It's a perfectly viable option, it just depends on what you prefer.

Coincidentally, I was looking at the vault out of curiosity and there is a depressingly low number of brawler winners. That needs to be fixed!

Author:  jenx [ Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

Judecca wrote:
Coincidentally, I was looking at the vault out of curiosity and there is a depressingly low number of brawler winners. That needs to be fixed!

I'm trying! Onto my third attempt now.

Author:  andymkay [ Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

Nice guide! I like starting with Skeleton Brawler. With the Skeleton racial you can pump CUN for a quickly maxed out unarmed mastery while still having enough STR and DEX. No infusions is a handicap but it also simplifies gameplay a lot, allowing you to autoexplore, shield upon seeing enemy and pummeling everything to gory bits.

Skeleton Brawler start is very difficult though, with no infusions and facing hard hitting melee mobs with stun on every level of the starting dungeon. Not to mention a difficult boss that requires you to hit and run (bad luck on phase door will cost your life). I have had to restart my characters many times from dying to level 3 skeleton warriors with stun.

After getting the skeleton racials up and running, things become much easier of course. I like to run double shield (3 including bone shield) and teleport. Controlled phase door would also be good.

For my first prodigy I like Giant Leap. 10 distance escape/initiator that AoE dazes on hit.

All in all it is a very item dependant class, especially for undead. Early game is tough if you don't find a good glove/gauntlet. When you start to gear up though, it is a rewarding experience. Your only threat will be resistance/save holes for casters, rares and bosses.

Author:  tylor [ Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

Two points.

1. Heave can save you life if you are surrounded and have no path to escape.
2. With brawler's gloves and Relentless Strikes double strike will have cooldown of 1, so it is extra attack per turn (not scaled, sadly, with global/combat speed)

Author:  Amphouse [ Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

So how has the addition of the mobility tree affected this guide? Is it worth putting points into?

Author:  tylor [ Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

Mobile defense definitely worth 6 points. May be even strider too, if you find some -rush cooldown and aim Steamroller

Author:  Judecca [ Fri Mar 29, 2013 9:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brawler Guide

Mobility is basically a trap or gimmick option.

Endgame heavy is better than endgame light currently unless you're AM and find breath of eyal (or an absolutely outstanding randart), and you can get sufficient defense already during times that you'd need it.

And brawlers aren't really hard up on ways to approach enemies, currently.

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