ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:36 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:55 am
Posts: 885
The "hail storm" Archmage is a dual elemental build using cold and lightning. It's actually a fairly straightforward build and can transition into a primarily cold or lightning single-elemental up until about the Prides, in case you get gear better suited to one or the other. This build can reliably win on Nightmare. Insane is not yet perfected.

Mana is a real problem since the changes to Disruption Shield. As such, the best element in the game is now probably Lightning because of Lightning Storm. It no longer costs mana per hit so it's basically just free damage. As such, this build is oriented around three things:

1. Lightning Storm and Hurricane

2. Movement speed

3. Freezing and ice block penetration

Key equipment bonuses in order of priority:

1. Movement speed

2. Spell power

3. Mana

Lightning and cold resistance penetration are nice but are now capped at 70% so don't waste by getting more than that. Prioritize lightning over cold in general.

Critical skills:

1. Lightning Storm - Your bread and butter. Get up to 3 points as soon as you can, after getting at least 1 into Disruption Shield.

2. Shivgoroth Form - lets you avoid stuns and freezes while also afflicting freezes on enemies. With sufficient cool-down reduction, you can keep this up non-stop though that is unlikely on this build (though not hard on a pure cold build as you can take Quicken Spells).

3. Freeze - An absolutely beast of a skill. It can stay at one point for longer than one might thing but ultimately you'll want to max it. Universal opener against any enemy that looks even a little dangerous. With a little luck, you can keep enemies frozen almost permanently.

4. Hurricane - the source of much of your damage by mid-to-late game.

5. Feather Wind - get to two right away and four as soon as is comfortable, but eventually max it. You want that movement bonus and pin resistance.

6. Chain Lightning - your opener against all normal enemies. It gives you a lead on the location of other enemies while also whittling them down a bit while they're still out of range.

The old concept of using heal mod, crit rate and the Celestial/Light category is gone now. As such, Arcane Shielding is no longer as important and I rarely kept the sustain up until the end of the game. This build is more offensively-oriented, relying on movement and freezing. In a sense, it plays a little like a Doomed with better range. There's a lot of hitting and running. Throw out a Glacial Vapor and Chain Light and Tidal Wave and then retreat... retreat, retreat, retreat, while Lightning Storm whittles them down, then hit 'em again, restore mana, and repeat. You can absorb a decent amount of damage, though you'll want big-burst mitigation for later in the game (Stormshield rune).

Best Race:

1. Skeleton... extra shield plus a reduction in status effects and a heal. Reasonably durable on top of that and now with reduced experience penalty. First choice every time.

2. Cornac... the extra category point and talent points go a long way as you can afford to pick up the Temporal Shield and max out your inscriptions. Trying not to die before taking advantage is trickier.

3. Ghoul... surprisingly enough, this holds up pretty darn well. It's got a lot of HP, and the vomit skill nicely compliments your other short-range skills and it mitigates your global speed issues. The leap skill is an excellent starter, which also mitigates the speed issue.


Ethereal Form, Adept, Temporal Form, and Cauterize are your #1 choices. Draconic Will, Unbreakable Will or Spine of the World are quite nice as a second choice, particularly if you're having issues with status effects.

Eye of the Tiger is a great second pick IF you can get 100% crit rate.


You will need the Rune of Dissipation as you won't be picking up Meta. Make sure you can kill Urkis...

You will need a Manasurge rune. Power is more important than cool down, though anything over 20 is punitive. Try and find something under 15 cool down if possible, so long as its regen rate is over 1k by Dreadfell and 1500 by the end.

You will also need a solid shielding rune. Cool down is more important here than raw power but you'll want something that is over 650 by the time you take on the Prides. A cool down under 18 is strongly preferred but duration is more important than cool down, especially if you chose the Skeleton.

Finally, you will need either a wild infusion or a shatter affliction to manage status effects. In the case of both, I strong encourage favoring a shorter cool down.

Hail Storm Build:

Arcane: 1/1/1/5 - Invest in Disruption Shield incrementally, though it should be at five by the time you head east.

Water: 1/5/1/5 - leave Shivgoroth at 1 or 2 for a while... you don't care about the damage, just the freeze for now.

Air: 1/4/5/5 - get all three key skills to 4 as soon as possible but don't max them until later in the east.

Ice: 5/1/1/5 - this is your first unlock. It's all about freeze and uttercold.

Storm: 1/1/4/5 - this should come into form right around the time you're preparing to return to the West.

Meta: you only need this category if your build doesn't come together and you have to revert to a cold or lightning primary build. This would include being unable to get the rune of dissipation.


Don't bother much with Cunning/Survival or Divination. Lightning Storm will identify invisible enemies for you and so there's no need to invest there, though there are some other worthwhile skills. It all depends on what race you pick.

This should leave you 9-11 talent points leftover. Invest them either in Frozen Ground, Tidal Wave, or Glacial Vapor IF you have better cold damage than lightning. If lightning damage is better then go with Lightning. You can drop one or two into Arcane Power if you want. Otherwise, just cap a few key skills like Chain Lightning.

The function of this build is simple:

Cast Chain Lighting and Shivgoroth/Ice Storm plus Tidal Wave, Frozen Shards, and even Glacial Vapors. The goal is to freeze wet enemies over and over while moving around and retreating to keep them in mid range. While frozen, your lightning can do the bulk of the damage via daze and Hurricane. As such, prioritize lightning damage over cold but ice block penetration if you can get it, and thus save yourself a couple of early talent points.

Movement speed is important and you'll want it to be at least a bonus of 50%. That's not very hard to find and Feather Wind will get you half way there. 100% is even better and worth sacrificing some damage for. If you can find equipment that slows projectiles, all the better. This is all about moving around and constantly whittling enemies down. The burst damage can get reasonably high but not quite as good as a single-element build. The virtue here is that you can disable your enemies consistently enough that it's quite difficult for them even get a chance to attack you.

Freeze/stun immune enemies are a pain but not a killer as you can keep retreating and whittling them down. This even works against anti-magic, so long as your sustains remain up. The enemies that'll give you trouble are the ones that can shut down your sustains.

Maintaining mana... if your mana drops below 50% then your best shield will collapse and you'll get vulnerable in a hurry. It is critically important to keep your mana up. You want as big a mana pool as possible but mana regen is nice, though it rarely comes in big enough numbers. However you go about it, keep an eye on your mana pool.

Evasion is extremely nice if you can get it... anything that avoids taking damage, but not a priority.

This isn't quite the tank that the Archmage used to be. This is more akin to a Doomed. There's a lot of moving around and repositioning but it's fairly easy to play as you hit large numbers of enemies at the same and there's no need to be precise. If you pick up some cool down reduction or max out crit rate then this all gets quite a bit easier.

All in all, it's a pretty mellow win on Nightmare, though the Weirdling Best always gives me problems. I usually don't kill him until returning from the East the first time. By the level 34, you should be very hard to kill and by 42, you should be extremely murderous just by walking around.

That's my rough build. Nothing fancy but it works.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:09 pm
Posts: 271
Delmuir wrote:

What breakpoints does Adept let you hit? ...or is it appealing simply for the incremental improvements?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 8:31 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:55 am
Posts: 885
Chain lightning and Lightning storm both gain an additional target. Feather wind hits 100% pin immunity at 4 points so you can save 1 there. Shivgoroth form gets to 100% resistance from 99% and gain an extra turn or two, though I can't recall which.

If you're luck enough to get some additional mastery (I've had as high as 2.2 total mastery in water) and cooldown reduction then Shivgoroth form can stay up permanently, which is awfully convenient.

Then it just does broad damage, which is excellent as you layer a lot of spells with this build so the bonus stacks nicely.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:58 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:55 pm
Posts: 86
Hey, hi!

I really like the idea of a lightning & cold archmage.
Also, I have some questions, because some points were not totally clear for me.

1. Why has movement speed top priority and why the build is focusing on it very hard?
If you dazing and freezing enemies all the time, why are retreating and retreating by normal movements that important?
Archmage has Conveyance tree if retreating is necessary.

2. On the skill description, you wrote you only unlock storm and ice from unlockables.
That is 2 category points.

On the inscriptions section you wrote, you are using totally 4 inscriptions:
Rune of Dissipation, Manasurge, Shielding and either wild inf/shatter afflictions.
That is 1 more category point, so totally 3 cat points spent.

So, why do you wrote, unlocking Meta will make you unable to use Rune of Dissipation?
You still have 1 more cat point. 2 if you Cornac.
I found Meta is a must have unlock when I tried Archmage.
3 skills from the 4 there is very strong.

3. Did you consider learning and using Earth or not?

A 2, 1, 1-3, 4 can be very useful in Earth too.

With Auger, you can dig...
Musdslide is another AoE knockback spell (like Tidal Wave)
Stone Wall is a life saver.
So, Earth is a good utility tree, not for damage.

4. Why did you max Glacial Vapour?
It gains only a bit of damage and it is not a good damage skill.

Also, you just put 1 & 1 points into Frozen Ground and Shatter.
You did not find useful those spells and did not use it?
With Frozen Ground you can pin enemies and make melee enemies totally disabled.

5. Did you consider using a Biting Gale rune?
Maybe it can be useful for an ice & storm build.
It is instant, it damages, it applies auto-wet AoE and it freezes, that can not be saved.

Overall, a very good concept and build!

PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:13 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:55 am
Posts: 885
Good questions:

1. Why movement? Because you're going to be in close quarters and you want to reserve your teleport skills for danger. What you want to do is move and reposition yourself in order to maximize the coverage of your skills but you really, really don't want to be taking extra hits and so once you get movement up to about 100% (even 50% is totally fine on Nightmare) then you can resposition comfortably to make sure that you're freezing and getting into range as many enemies as possible. Some will come off freeze and others will move so what you do is move around to use the frozen enemies to block out the unfrozen ones, thus minimizing your exposure.

2. For Nightmare, that's all you need. Tweaking for Insane will require using another category point properly and I don't know precisely how yet.

I don't use Meta on this build, even though I love it, because you don't really have the talent points for it and it eats up mana you can't afford. In order to run cold and lightning, it requires a lot of talent points. You can save up to about 10 with the key skills maxed but it's unclear where to best put them. Probably in skills like Tidal Wave is helpful and Frozen Ground. You might use meta and if your do then Quicken Spells is probably the right place along with Disperse Magic but that only works if you found a LOT of extra mana. This build uses a lot of sustain and so you don't want to risk dropping your Disruption Shield. Thus, you need more mana and Meta sustains use a lot of mana.

3. I have considered using Earth and if you do save 10 points then Earth might be the place for it but I think this is likely only necessary on Insane as it wasn't on Nightmare.

4. Glacial Vapor can hit beyond range ten. It's relatively cheap, has a short cooldown, and so in situations in which you can see an enemy from far off then making them walk through it can be surprisingly effective. More so, when lots of enemies are clustered and being frozen then Glacial Vapors is remarkably potent as it can hit for 100 a turn (or more) for 8 turns (I think) covering ten or even more enemies. That's a lot of damage. It used to be a terrible skill but it's surprisingly effective now. You will have a lot of dazed and frozen enemies just standing around... GV whittles them down and has a chance to freeze if they're wet.

5. I did not consider it but it's a potentially good idea on insane difficulty. I haven't worked that out but I'm strong leaning towards using it as the last inscription on insane, once I can make this build work.

Thanks for the questions. I hope you toy with it and make it better.

Last edited by Delmuir on Mon Sep 14, 2020 7:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:40 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:55 pm
Posts: 86
Hey, thanks for your answers!
Very nice!

The tactical movements to continously reposition yourself sounds really an interesting way of playing.

If your goal is to go up to insane with this build, i am sure with a little practice you can easily beat the game with this.

Some tips, that might can help you, just take them if you wish:

A, Taking Meta for a 3,1,5,4

Spell-cooldown reduction is really great. You can easily find 10-20% more in pickaxe & boots and you can reach
a total 50% by mid-game. Your overall power will be significantly higher. It also affects your runes.
Also, Metaflow makes wonders...

B, Picking Shalore as a race

Timeless is a real real life saver. You can use it even when you are silenced.
It also useful on Hidden Resources. (+ 5 turn effect duration and -5 turn cooldown)

C, Optimizing a bit more the skill point placement in order to learn Earth, Meta & Temporal Shield.
(no 5's in "non-essential 5" skills)

D, Using "on-hit : spell" items.
Due to the fact, lightning storm lightnings are counted as you casting a spell,
every on-hit-spell item is wonderful on this mage.
Look for "imbued" staffs in shops, there can be Ice Shards, Chain lightning and many more
useful spells on them too.

E, Use + mana on-spell-crit gear for resource management

F, Taking Hidden Resources prodigy for resource management
Also taking Cauterize prodigy against one-shots

With Timeless + Hidden Resources and some + mana-on-spell-crit gear, you do not even need a manasurge rune.

G, Also, there is Temporal Shield. That is worth to learn, even just for a 1,4,0,0 in Temporal tree.
However, Time Shield in Chronomancy now is a bit better, but it is still very good for Archmage.

Nice job, wish you a good play!

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