ToME: the Tales of Maj'Eyal

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:33 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:00 pm
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NOTE: Cunning/Stealth was reworked several versions ago, so this build won't function quite the same anymore. It probably still works, but the recommended investment in Stealth may be different now. If you want to still play the build, you'll have to experiment and see what works best. Feel free to share your findings in this thread.


Like its namesake, this build is designed to drop a massive payload of explosives without being detected. I was inspired by the Shadowblade caster build, but I wanted to play a more purpose-built stealth caster. I got my first Insane (Roguelike) win with this build, and did it while wearing a bikini too! I had one death from an invisible bone giant boss that snuck up on me, but I used Blood of Life. No item vault.

UPDATE: I did a second Insane/RL run with this build (mankini this time!) and won again. This time, I took Corruption/Blight instead of a fifth inscription and it was definitely the better choice. I would have done that originally, but I didn't think of it at the time. I had 414% crit multi at endgame and I didn't even have Dakhtun's Gauntlets! Nearly saved Aeryn this time, but I screwed up and she died 3 turns before Argoniel. Having fewer levels in Absorption shields was noticeable, but the tradeoff was worth it. No item vault. I almost cleared the Sludgenest, but died after about 450 walls and Ring of the Dead didn't work due to a bug. C'est la vie.

At endgame, Throw Bomb was hitting for over 4k damage and Barrier was providing 3.4k damage shield. Barrier + Bathe in Light + Aegis gives me 16.6k damage shield. Barrier + Bathe + Timeless + Bathe + Aegis + Metaflow + Aegis gives 3 turns of 37.9k damage shield. Before High Peak, I was frequently killing entire rooms of enemies with one use of Throw Bomb. I was able to keep stealth up most of the time in the late game, although it occasionally dropped if bosses were within a couple tiles when I cast spells.

There are three basic concepts to the build/playstyle:
1. Stealth Crits Are Best Crits: While in stealth, all of your abilities (including spells) will always crit thanks to Shadowstrike. They also do significantly more damage than non-stealth crits, although this bonus fades over range. Most characters can reach 100% crit chance at endgame, but this build achieves it almost immediately. Since the first half of the game is generally the hardest part, this is a big advantage. It also frees us from needing to stack crit chance on items.
2. Throwing Curveballs: Due to the huge radius of Throw Bomb after it's fully upgraded, we can launch attacks around corners in a way that most classes can only dream of. This effectively expands our attack range beyond sight radius and line of sight.
3. The Squirrel Defense: The logical extension of the previous concept is that our best strategy is to attack from behind cover and keep repositioning when enemies try to move closer. This works similarly to how squirrels will keep crawling to the side of a tree farthest from a perceived threat. Unlike squirrels, we can still attack our enemies from behind the "tree." Keep an obstacle between you and your enemies and you will rarely be in serious danger. After level ~20, I killed the vast majority of enemies without ever being in their line of sight.

WARNING: To play this build properly, you must spam clairvoyance/track and move meticulously around the map. If you want to auto-explore, you should probably play a different build. Attacking without being seen is your biggest advantage, after all. Blundering into every enemy on the map throws that advantage out the window.


Shalore is the best overall and highly recommended. Timeless is the standout ability and should be maxed as soon as possible; the synergy isn't quite as strong after v1.3, but it's still extremely powerful. We don't really need the crit chance from their second talent, but it provides a nice bonus to crit multi (which we need to stack). The global speed bonus is helpful as well, although it's less useful to us than some classes since we rely heavily on our cooldowns.

Cornac might be good if you find another generic category that strongly complements the build. Doomelf seems like a decent option, for more mobility and passive defenses. I think basically any race could work due to the way this build controls the flow of combat.


The main stats are Magic > Cunning > Willpower. You could raise Dexterity instead of Willpower if you prefer, for more defense and crit shrug-off. Our mana usage is pretty low by caster standards, but sustains eat up quite a bit once you invest in Spell/Meta. I also got Premonition from an escort, which is 120 mana by itself. Don't put points in any attributes other than those previously mentioned. You can use Telekinetic Grasp + Beyond the Flesh with a gem in order to meet the stat requirements for talents/items.

Talent Categories Overview

This is the order I recommend unlocking categories, and their endgame talent levels. Note that this talent spread is based on what I used on my second winner; possible exceptions for individual talents will be covered later in the guide.

Before level 10:
X. Race/Shalore, 1/5/1/5
X. Technique/Combat Training, 3/1/0/0/0
1. Spell/Stone Alchemy, 5/0/0/0
2. Psionic/Absorption, 3/0/0/0
3. Spell/Explosive Admixtures, 5/5/5/0
4. Celestial/Light, 1/5/5/3
5. Spell/Conveyance, 5/1/0/0
6. Cunning/Stealth, 5/5/2/5
7. Spell/Aegis, 3/5/1/1
Level 10:
8. Spell/Stone, 5/1/1/5
Level 20:
9. Inscription slot
Level 36:
10. Spell/Meta, 3/1/5/4
Wyrm Bile:
11. Corruption/Blight, 5/5/0/0

This is including both the Elixir of Foundations and Elixir of Focus. I got +1 Bathe in Light from an escort, so I put the extra generic point in Healing Light. Putting the extra point in Aegis would have been a better choice.

Class Talent Details

NOTE: As soon as you put any points in these talents, you gain the Telekinetic Grasp and Beyond the Flesh talents for free. You can only sustain 2 of the "Shield" talents at a time.

Kinetic Shield: 1+/5
This skill is extremely useful for reducing damage from physical attacks and poisons, and there's no downside since we don't need Psi for anything else. Always keep it sustained. You could leave this at 1/5 if you're unlucky and don't get the Elixir of Focus, but I recommend 3+/5 if possible. It's very helpful to float points for 5/5 during the first half of the game.

Thermal Shield: 0+/5
I wouldn't put points here until you already have at least 3/5 Kinetic Shield, but this is also very helpful. Unless you're skipping Corrupted Negation, you'll want to float any points you put here so they can be respecced.

Charged Shield: 0+/5
This is very useful and I ended up using 5/5 on my first version of the build. However, we don't really have the points for this after including Corruption/Blight. You could invest if this if you wanted to skip Corrupted Negation.

Forcefield: 0+/5
We don't have a reliable method for recovering Psi in combat, so you wouldn't be able to maintain this very long. It's probably not be a bad place to throw extra points at endgame if you have them.

Telekinetic Grasp
Use this to equip an item in the psionic focus slot. Most of the time you'll want to TK wield a staff to double up on the tasty staff mods like %physical damage, crit multi, spellpower, heal mod, and/or +spellpower/mana on spell crit. Temporarily equip a gem (especially one with +all stats) to meet talent and item stat requirements. You can continue using the talent or equipped item even if you no longer meet the requirements. Also note that you don't need to meet an item's stat requirements to TK wield it, so you can even wield a tier-5 staff during the early game if you find one.

Beyond the Flesh
This is marginally useful to us while TK wielding a staff, since it adds a free melee attack each turn and we're usually not in melee range. On the plus side, it uses Wil/Cun instead of Str/Dex for weapon stats, so the free TK attacks can do semi-decent damage. You need to use this to get the stat bonus for TK wielding gems. Since there's really no downside to using this talent, I just keep it sustained at all times.

Spell/Explosive Admixtures
Throw Bomb: 5/5
This is our main attack. The radius is pretty small and damage is unimpressive at first, but once you max out the other talents it becomes a massive nuke. Since we're not using the Alchemist's "Infusion" skills, this deals physical damage. Unlike most ranged attacks, the "thrown bomb" hits instantly regardless of range.

Alchemist Protection: 5/5
You don't need this early on because it's easy to target your radius-1 bomb in such a way that it won't hit friendly targets. You should max this out before investing in the next talent, however, because it gets exponentially harder to avoid hitting yourself or friendly NPCs as the bomb radius increases. The extra elemental resists are a nice bonus as well.

Explosion Expert: 5/5
This adds massive AoE and damage to Throw Bomb. You can't realistically invest here until you max the previous talent, to avoid killing yourself when fighting in enclosed spaces. The fun truly starts once you max this skill; it's what lets you blast enemies around corners or from well outside sight radius. Due to the way this skill works, your damage is maximized when the explosion radius borders one or more walls.

Shockwave Bomb: 0/5
Not really worth the investment, and we don't have the points anyway. The dangerous enemies are often resistant to knockback and most things die quickly to normal bombs. If something is too close, use Phase Door, Teleport, or Movement infusion to get away.

Stealth: 1/5 early, 5/5 eventually
This isn't very helpful on its own, so don't bother with it until you can take Shadowstrike. For most of the game you get better stealth power returns by investing in Unseen Actions and Hide in Plain Sight, but eventually you'll want to max this out.

Shadowstrike: 1/5 early, 5/5 eventually
This is the quintessential skill of the build. Get 1/5 as soon as possible so you can start critting reliably; you probably won't put any additional points here until the mid-20s, but eventually you'll want to max this to get the full crit damage bonus. I believe the "damage bonus" is actually a crit multiplier bonus that also affects things like heals and damage shields. Until you get Unseen Actions, you'll be instantly revealed when you do basically anything other than move, so only the first attack of each fight will be auto-crit during the early game.

Hide in Plain Sight: 1+/5
This is helpful during the first half of the game, before you have enough points in Unseen Actions to stay reliably stealthed during combat. Eventually, you probably won't have to use it very often since the chance to be detected and revealed is reduced based on your distance from enemies and we often attack from extreme range. You could leave this at 1/5 and probably never regret it, but I recommend 2/5 because it gives a significant bonus for the occasions that you do need to use it. 2/5 will also help a lot during the midgame, where you will probably get revealed with some regularity.

Unseen Actions: 1/5 early, 5/5 eventually
Things start going a lot more smoothly once you get this skill. Instead of getting a free crit at the start of combat, you will now be critting all the time. Try to get 3/5 fairly quickly, but you don't need to max it until late game. Since this is a multiplier of your base stealth power, it's more efficient to put points here until ~3/5 before raising Stealth past 1/5.

Earthen Missiles: 5/5
Although Throw Bomb is our main attack, we need something else to use when it's on cooldown and enemies are within line of sight. This skill serves that purpose. Since it hits up to 3 times and causes bleeding, it's also extremely useful for removing an enemy's Bone Shield. Each of the missiles counts as a spell crit, so this is a handy skill during the early game since you'll get 3 auto-crits even if you get revealed right after. If you have items with +mana/spellpower on spell crit or procs on spell hit, they will also trigger up to 3 times when you use this skill. Rush this to 5/5 once you unlock it to get the third projectile per cast.

Body of Stone: 1+/5
You need 1/5 for the prerequisite, but it's probably not worth additional points. We just have too many other things that are worth investing in. This is still useful at 1/5 since it's instant cast and gives some useful buffs.

Earthquake: 1/5
We need 1/5 for the prerequisite, but this is useful to cast sometimes for the stun or even just some extra damage.

Crystalline Focus: 3/5 midgame, 5/5 eventually
This will significantly increase our damage against high-resist mobs and is one of the main reasons we unlocked Spell/Stone. It also gives saves as an added bonus.

Disperse Magic: 3+/5
Very useful for removing magic debuffs from yourself and stripping magic buffs from enemies. You need 3/5 to make it targetable.

Spellcraft: 1/5
We don't need the primary effect of this talent since we have Alchemist Protection, so you just need 1/5 here for the prerequisite. I ended up sustaining this anyway at endgame just for the spellshock bonus, and I did see it activating occasionally even on High Peak mobs.

Quicken Spells: 5/5
Having 30% reduced cooldown on all our spells is a big help. We have a lot of spells, and in longer fights you'll often find yourself waiting for your attacks to cool down. This also lets us use our defense and utility spells more. At 5/5 Quicken and 5/5 Shielding, you can refresh Barrier indefinitely even without using Timeless or Metaflow. Look for %reduced spell cooldown on items to further the advantage.

Metaflow: 4+/5
You need 4/5 to make it work on all tiers of spells and you have the option of going 5/5 at endgame to make it reset an additional spell.

Dark Ritual: 5/5
At endgame, this was giving me +59% crit multi, which is hugely useful since it boosts both our damage and shields/heals.

Corrupted Negation: 0+/5
This isn't strictly needed, but it's quite useful and I took 5/5 on my second winner. This would be amazing if not for the fact that it affects friendly targets, so you can't use it in enclosed areas without removing your own buffs. The standout feature is being able to remove physical effects, which we can't do with any other talent. It's also good for a second chance at removing magic sustains alongside Disperse Magic.

Corrosive Worm: 0/5
This isn't really useful to us.

Generic Talent Details

Spell/Stone Alchemy
Extract Gems: 1/5 early, 5/5 eventually
This skill is needed to supply ammo for Throw Bomb, but it will also get you a lot more gold by extracting all unneeded metal items and transmuting the gems instead of just transmuting the drops directly. By endgame, you'll be able to afford at least twice as many merchant randarts compared to other classes. Get 1/5 immediately so you can extract gems from your starting items. You'll need to keep upgrading this as you start finding higher tiers of items, although don't put extra points here too quickly because your generics will be spread thin throughout the game. If you randomly find some higher-tier drops but don't have enough to justify increasing this talent yet, you can store them in an empty vault so they don't decay. Once you unlock the Sher'Tul Fortress, you can store higher-tier loot there until you're ready to increase your Extract talent.

Imbue Item: 0+/5
This is a pretty decent skill, although it's debatable whether it's worth the point investment to gain the passive bonuses of one gem. If you were playing as a different race and had extra generic points, it would be worth considering 5/5 Imbue and maybe even the Crafty Hands prodigy. Otherwise, just take 1/5 if you want the next talent. I left it at 0/5 because I was doing the "bikini challenge" and didn't have enough points to take the next talent anyway.

Gem Portal: 0/5 or 1/5
This is a nice non-random escape skill. I would have liked to take it, but I just couldn't fit it in without making disproportionate sacrifices elsewhere. Shalore spend a lot of generics on racial talents, so if you were playing a different race you could probably afford this. That being said, I felt I had enough mobility with Conveyance skills and Movement infusion. I could have even taken a second Movement infusion if I wanted, so I don't think it's much of a loss to skip this talent.

Stone Touch: 0/5
This sound cool, but we'll rarely be in melee range and the really scary enemies are likely to be immune anyway.

Healing Light: 1+/5
This is a handy heal with low cooldown and no cost. It's the first heal I invest in and I use it throughout the game. However, it doesn't scale as well as Arcane Reconstruction and by endgame we shouldn't (ideally) be healing very often since we'll pre-buff damage shield before combat and we try to stay out of line of sight to avoid damage. There are times that you need to use this skill: you're trapped in a room with tough enemies, or your teleports are on cooldown, or you just got hit by Mana Clash, or AR is on cooldown, so on and so forth. For those situations, it helps to have additional points in Healing Light. It actually scales pretty well with level, only about 20% less than AR gets per level.

Bathe in Light: 2/5 early, 5/5 eventually
This skill may not sound that great just by reading the description, but it's extremely strong. You can activate this during combat to avoid an otherwise-certain death, and you can also use it to pre-buff your damage shield to absurd levels before even engaging an enemy. Get 2/5 early for the extra duration, then max it out when you can spare the points.

Barrier: 1/5 early, 5/5 eventually
The bad thing about this skill is that it takes a turn to cast. However, unlike Shielding rune this spell can crit, allowing it to reach much higher numbers in the late game. The scaling per level is not amazing, but when you factor in crit multi and Shielding sustain, we do actually get a lot of benefit from each additional talent level. This is marginally useful during the early and midgame, but in the late game this will be our main defensive skill.

Providence: 3+/5
This is a lifesaver for managing negative conditions during the early and midgame, although at endgame you won't need it as much unless you choose not to take Draconic Will or if you play a non-Shalore race. Shalore can get by with 3/5 since it can be extended with Timeless, but other races will probably want 5/5. Even Shalore will probably want to juggle points here to get 5/5 in the short term.

Phase Door: 5/5
This is the first generic talent I max and it's extremely useful. You can teleport away from bad situations, reposition behind an obstacle, teleport a specific enemy away, teleport a friendly NPC to a safer spot, and the list goes on. You need 5/5 to allow targeting the destination.

Teleport: 1/5
Extremely useful for getting out of bad situations. The randomness can sometimes work against you, but most of the time it's worth rolling the dice to get out of a potentially-lethal fight. It would be nice to get 5/5 to make it targetable, but we just don't have the points. Put one point here as soon as possible.

Displacement Shield: 0/5
This won't activate if you have another damage shield active, which we basically always will. We don't have the points to spare for this even if it was useful.

Arcane Reconstruction: 1/5 early, 3+/5 eventually
This is an extremely potent heal. It's inferior to Healing Light during the early game due to the mana cost and cooldown, but in the late game this will be your main heal. The scaling is quite good up to 3/5; you could go higher if you manage to free up points.

Shielding: 1/5 early, 5/5 eventually
This gives a nice bonus to our damage shields, both those we cast directly and the ones created through healing by Arcane Shield. 1/5 is fine for most of the game, but you'll want 5/5 eventually to make shields last an extra turn.

Arcane Shield: 1/5
This is a very useful skill, but it scales poorly with levels so we'll leave it at 1/5. This increases the efficiency of all heals by up to 50% and increases our effective life at the same time.

Aegis: 1+/5
This boosts our damage shield to potentially massive numbers. You don't need this skill until late game, but it has the potential to double your effective life once you have enough investment in shield-boosting effects and gear. 1/5 is fine, but 2/5 is worth it if you have the points; efficiency drops off after that.

Technique/Combat Training
NOTE: Don't spend a category point on this. Buy it in Last Hope for 50 gold. Combat Accuracy, Weapons Mastery, and Dagger Mastery are not useful to to build, so don't spend any points on them.

Thick Skin: 1+/5
Ideally you want 5/5 here because it's a very efficient defensive boost. However, I only had enough points for 3/5 on my character without making significant sacrifices. You could get by with 1/5 here, but take as many levels as you feel you can afford.

Armour Training: 1/5
You want one point here to enable the use of metal helmets, gloves, and boots. Dakhtun's Gauntlets alone give more benefit than you could hope to get by spending a generic point on anything else. It's actually feasible to wear metal body armor on this build since Throw Bomb and Earthen Missiles are both cheap to cast.

Grace of the Eternals: 1/5
This is a strong skill, although we'll leave it at 1/5 since additional points just reduce the cooldown. You can wait until level 21 to take this if you want.

Magic of the Eternals: 1/5 midgame, 5/5 eventually
The crit chance is basically useless to us since we'll be getting auto-crits from stealth, but the bonus to crit multi is very valuable. Get 1/5 by level 22 as prerequisite for Timeless and then just fill in extra points when it's convenient.

Secrets of the Eternals: 1/5
I never found this skill very useful, and in fact I don't even sustain it because the on-screen effect annoys me. Just get 1/5 at level 23 as prerequisite for Timeless.

Timeless: 5/5
This is what makes Shalore so great. You reduce (almost) all your cooldowns, shorten all negative effects, and extend (almost) all positive effects with one handy-dandy instant cast spell. Max this as soon as possible after unlocking it at level 24.


There are numerous prodigies that could be useful in this build, but I'll just touch on the ones I think make the most sense. For the record, my winning runs both used Cauterize and Draconic Will.

Cauterize: I absolutely recommend getting this at level 30, especially if playing on Roguelike mode. If you're playing the build properly you shouldn't need this very often, but it's good to plan for those one-off scenarios where an enemy does a crit Shadowstep or whatever. This triggered at least twice that I noticed while I was clearing High Peak, although I don't remember seeing it go off during the final battle. The downside to taking this prodigy is that you may not have received 7.5k fire damage by level 30, and we don't have any fire damage skills. You need to use a wand of firewall or Heat Beam rune to deal fire damage to yourself in that case. (Make sure you don't have a damage shield up or the damage won't count.)

Draconic Will: This is probably the ideal choice for your second prodigy. Although Providence gives us a good amount of condition removal, it won't be enough in some situations. The downside of this prodigy is that you need to be vigilant about using it proactively or it won't pull its weight. It's no longer extended by Timeless in v1.3, so a case could be made for choosing other prodigies.

Swift Hands: This is a very "handy" prodigy for swapping torques of different damage types, Wrap of Stone, gloves of dispersion, teleport/psychportation charms, Wintertide Phial, and so on. This is probably my second choice if I didn't take Draconic Will because it really lets you adapt your strategy to the specific situation instead of being limited to using what you're wearing when the fight starts. Alas, we don't have Charm Mastery.

Spine of the World: I consider this the lazy player's Draconic Will. It's not as strong as DW, but it's still quite good and it works without any micromanagement. Paired with Providence and a Wild (physical/mental) infusion, this should give you adequate protection from status ailments.

Meteoric Crash: I was considering this before I settled on the "boring" option of Draconic Will. I don't know exactly how this works, whether it's chance-based or if it always activates when it's not on cooldown. Since we're already boosting physical damage, this seems like it has the potential to make our alpha strike truly devastating, especially if it can crit (which, again, I don't know). It also stuns, which is an unreliable but welcome bonus.

Eye of the Tiger: This is an intriguing option for managing cooldowns, since we virtually always crit. The downside is that you can't predict which talent will have its cooldown reduced. We already have a good amount of cooldown reduction baked into the build, but more is always welcome.

Crafty Hands: If you choose to invest in Imbue Item, this may be worth considering. I'm not entirely convinced that it's worth taking over other prodigies, but some people like it.

Leveling Guide

Early Game
After creating your character, don't spend any talent points. Remove any metal starting items from your transmutation chest, since you'll want to extract gems from them. Immediately exit the starting dungeon and go to Zigur. I recommend rerolling until you find a decent torque of mindblast for sale there, as it will make the first 10 levels easier until you get Earthen Missiles. If you don't want to start scum, you can just check the charm and infusion shops before leaving. You will be able to return to Zigur even after learning magic talents.

If you're playing higher difficulties, go ahead and drown rare+ NPCs for loot/xp and buy whatever starting provisions you can afford. Try to get a Wild (physical) or Wild (mental/physical) infusion as soon as possible. Extract gems from any unneeded starting items and make some alchemist stones from them. Keep extracting any applicable items you don't need for the rest of the game. This can be a bit tedious, but it's well worth it to have a constant supply of ammo and gold.

Once you're ready to start dungeon delving, go to Trollmire. This stage of the game is mostly going to involve alternating Throw Bomb and mindblast torque to kill things, using Healing Light to stay topped off, and possibly throwing in some bump attacks against easy mobs. Put a staff or other weapon in the TK slot straight away to get its "when wielded" stats and a free melee attack each turn. Kite enemies around and hit them with ranged attacks. Be careful to target Throw Bomb so it doesn't hit you or friendly NPCs. Get 1/5 in Stealth and Shadowstrike as soon as possible so your first Throw Bomb of each fight will be auto-crit. Don't put your Shielding rune on auto-use yet since it will break stealth. If you gained levels from drowning NPCs, you can probably fight Bill the Stone Troll right away; otherwise, save him for later.

On Insane, I do the Derth arena quest after clearing Trollmire. For lower difficulties, you'll want to be around level 6 before doing the quest; if you need more levels, you could clear the first 2 floors of Ruins of Kor'Pul. After doing the arena quest and getting to level ~8, I recommend doing the lumberjack quest to get a pickaxe, then killing Bill, then finishing Kor'Pul. After that, I do Scintillating Caves > Rhaloren Camp > Norgos' Lair > Heart of the Gloom.

Unlock Spell/Stone at level 10 and start pumping Earthen Missiles. At this point you can probably ditch the mindblast torque and use a wand of clairvoyance instead. Be sure to check the staff shop in Angolwen once you get access. Clairvoyance is especially useful to this build since Stealth completely negates our light radius, and navigating dungeons by infravision alone is really annoying and dangerous. Stealth is of limited use before level 12, but once you get Unseen Actions it really takes off and the build starts becoming more fun to play.

During this first leg out your journey, you will want a Shielding rune, a Manasurge rune, and a Wild (physical) infusion, or Wild (mental/physical) if you can find it. If you can't find any decent Wild infusions, Movement infusion is another viable option. Keep an eye out for items with +life or +infravision. Start wielding 2 staves as soon as possible and use Command Staff to attune them to physical damage. Wintertide Phial is a great item if you can find it, since it gives lots of infravision and works as a substitute for Wild (mental) infusion.

Now we're getting into the tier-2 dungeons. I generally do Old Forest > Maze > Unknown Tunnels > Sandworm Lair > Daikara, and if any of them other than Sandworm Lair has an alternate layout I leave and come back after clearing the others. After T2 is clear, I do Lake of Nur as soon as I find a waterbreathing item; sometimes I even do it before clearing all the T2 zones. Next I clear Hidden Compound > Ruined Halfling Complex > Ruined Dungeon > Golem Graveyard.

After you have 5/5 Throw Bomb, 1/5 in all Stealth skills, 5/5 Earthen Missiles, and a comfortable amount of levels in Absorption skills, you should start maxing Alchemist Protection and then Explosion Expert. The build starts feeling really powerful once you have those maxed. If you juggle points in Kinetic Shield and Thermal shield during the early game, you can respec them to upgrade your bombs faster when the time comes.

At level 20, you can unlock another inscription slot. I recommend adding a Wild (mental) infusion if you don't have any items like Wintertide Phial for cleansing mental effects. Otherwise, get a Movement infusion.

Once you have a few points in Explosion Expert, you can really start abusing wand of clairvoyance to learn enemy locations and kill them from around corners with your huge AoE. Start practicing, because the rest of the game is going play a lot like this.

You absolutely need the Elixir of Foundations from the Alchemist Quest. Take that reward first, no exceptions. Elixir of Focus is also highly recommended, but you can get by without it. The other rewards don't matter that much and you may want to pick whatever will get you the desired bonus reward.

Keep an eye out for a wand of firewall, Heat Beam rune, or other targeted source of fire damage in case you need to burn yourself to unlock Cauterize at level 30.

Late Game
The next hurdle is clearing Dreadfell, although it shouldn't be too difficult if you've found decent items and are scouting like I've suggested. Vaults in particular are a joke, since you can typically kill everything in the room with one Throw Bomb thanks to Explosions Expert's damage bonus in enclosed spaces. The Master's summons should be no match for your AoE damage either. If necessary, you can kite him around nuke him with Throw Bomb's blast radius outside range 10 so he can't use any skills on you. Topaz alchemist stones can be used to extend your throwing range even farther.

If you get to level 30 and take Cauterize, you're well on your way to winning as long as you stay true to the scouting and corner-sniping playstyle. Zone progression and gameplay after that point are pretty standard. If you've gotten this far, you probably know what to do.

Your endgame inscription loadout should probably include Wild (mental/physical), Manasurge, Movement, and Heroism. You could replace Heroism with a second Movement if you prefer. Shielding rune is not that good at endgame because it can't crit.

As for item mods, you want to stack crit multi first and foremost because it boosts nearly everything you do. My second character had 414% crit multi at endgame, and if I upgraded a couple of my low-end items I could probably have close to 500% crit multi (not even counting Shadowstrike's bonus). Other important mods to look for: spellpower, spellpower on crit, physical damage, damage shield power, heal mod, infravision, increased sight radius, reduced spell cooldown, resistances, and status immunities.

You'll need to use a wand of clairvoyance throughout the game, both to locate enemies and to illuminate the map since you have negative light radius; a good Track item paired with the Burning Star could replace clairvoyance, albeit with a longer downtime between uses. If you can find a wand that grants a damage talent like Strike, Void Blast, or Volcano, it will give you another button to press while waiting for your main attacks to cool down. Strike and Void Blast can definitely crit, but I'm not sure about Volcano.

Barrier vs. Arcane Reconstruction

Thanks to Arcane Shield, it's possible to use Arcane Reconstruction as your main skill to generate damage shields. 5/5 Reconstruction can actually make a bigger shield than 5/5 Barrier, but this requires stacking heal mod. There are two primary reasons I didn't go this route: 1) if you use AR to create your pre-buff shield, it may be on cooldown when you need an actual heal, and 2) if you use Barrier, you can focus on stacking crit multi instead of heal mod and therefore have higher damage. Considering it's possible to get nearly 38k shield by pre-buffing with Barrier, the advantages of getting a bigger shield with AR are marginal. On the other hand, I believe heal mod boosts the shield stacking effect of Bathe in Light, so going for stacked heal mod and using AR is potentially very strong.

Last edited by Effigy on Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:53 am, edited 23 times in total.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:37 pm
Posts: 267
Interesting. I tried making stealth work in Insane for a bit, and I succeeded to some extent (level 26 or so) using Gravity + Staff. I kind of moved off to other things and let that guy sit and I didn't have much experience with alchemist at the time.

I realized later that throw bomb can get some crazy range and since range makes stealth way better it seems like a good combo. SeeJust uses it alot in Madness too.

PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 5:38 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:00 pm
Posts: 872
Updated the OP after I beat Insane/RL/bikini again with a slightly optimized version of the build.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:44 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:00 pm
Posts: 872
Minor update based on v1.3 changes.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:13 pm
Posts: 193
A suggestion you could try: get Acid Alchemy 1/1/5/(3 or 5) instead of the Corruption and/or Psionic trees. You lose some shield power and damage but get a 40% slow AoE and a handy physical/mental debuff (as well as the option to throw an occasional blinding bomb, if you choose to.) So you'd be trading raw power for tactical flexibility and versatility.

And if you want to have fun on lower difficulties (normal/nightmare) with a similar build, try Acrobatics (I used 5/1/5/5) instead of Celestial/Light (boring!). Stealth bombers are supposed to fly, aren't they?

PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:54 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:00 pm
Posts: 872
Interesting ideas. The Dissolving Acid skill in particular would be really nice for removing mental and physical effects. Acrobatics (or the Chronomancy teleport tree) would be fun to use, although you would lose a lot of raw power by giving up Celestial/Light.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:13 pm
Posts: 193
True, I managed to beat nightmare with a no-Light acrobatic bomber (had 3 levels of BiL from escorts, though) but I probably wouldn't try that on insane+. :lol:

PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2015 10:34 am 

Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 2:10 pm
Posts: 106
I'm considering if not Ogre might be a strong pick as well (say, Race/Ogre 1/1/5/5), as Orgic Wrath, while prehaps more restrictive (need opponents with shields to truely shine), gives much more Crit-mod for less investment, they effectively gain another late cat point from 5/5 writ large and much more effective inscriptions/runes due to Scar-scripted Flesh (and a lesser degree Grisly Constitution)

PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:58 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:00 pm
Posts: 872
Ogre seems like it has potential, but I haven't really played around with it yet so I'm not sure. I've been taking a break to play Path of Exile.

PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:11 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 4:05 pm
Posts: 88
Very nice, powerful build.

I finished insane adventure with a slight variation (using autoexplore most of the time; that cost me some lives).
I went with a cornac and added
  • spell/temporal (Time Shield in the first half and Essence of Speed later)
  • staff combat with Channel Staff and Staff Mastery. Not quite the damage of earthen missiles but in the end I did over a thousand damage per attack. With no cooldown and Essence of speed that adds up.

Had a bit of luck with the equipment; in the end I had 305% critical multiplier, 95% physical multiplier and over 70% physical damage penetration. Burning star is great for this build (well, generally) and a vision or heighten senses range > 10 helps.

And on high peak I again had one of those encounters that makes me play adventure. I have see stealth >100 but some invisible rare managed to do so much damage through a full shield and life that cauterize did >1000 damage per round afterwards. I couldn't counter that.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:23 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:37 pm
Posts: 267
jdisk wrote:
Very nice, powerful build.

I finished insane adventure with a slight variation (using autoexplore most of the time; that cost me some lives).
I went with a cornac and added
  • spell/temporal (Time Shield in the first half and Essence of Speed later)
  • staff combat with Channel Staff and Staff Mastery. Not quite the damage of earthen missiles but in the end I did over a thousand damage per attack. With no cooldown and Essence of speed that adds up.

Had a bit of luck with the equipment; in the end I had 305% critical multiplier, 95% physical multiplier and over 70% physical damage penetration. Burning star is great for this build (well, generally) and a vision or heighten senses range > 10 helps.

And on high peak I again had one of those encounters that makes me play adventure. I have see stealth >100 but some invisible rare managed to do so much damage through a full shield and life that cauterize did >1000 damage per round afterwards. I couldn't counter that.

Yeah I had something similar happen to the Staff/Stealth/SB build that this adventurer is somewhat similar too on NM. I made mistake in that I saw GM assassin was in the room but then focused on two rares in the room, then BAM I was dead.

I have been playing around with a build that can tank Madness and from what I have seen so far (cleared Rakshor pride and backup guardian with it) is that there is a lot of variation in damage and also how things do damage.

At the higher levels you can see something with very high crit Madness will see talent get inflated to mid 30s or higher and Insane can see a talent that is in the 20s so on high peak you can definitely run into something that has like 70% crit rate or even higher due to Lethality. Plus things that have Lethality are often stealth types and may have a further mult bonus. Additionally having a mastery talent inflate to 25 will inflate base DAM to something like 150 or as high as 300 (depending on 2h or dagger etc). Then add onto that an inflated flurry will have damage bonus, this however does have much lower growth. Then add on that you can definitely get very significant proc damage on mobs.

What you wind up with when you have little armor is something like a base damage of lets say 150 which is increased by say 50% due to a flurry bonus to 200. This could easily crit on all hits and do say 2.5 damage for something like 500 per hit and do about 50 proc damage per hit for a flurry that does something like 5k damage. Now add in some bonus to damage types etc and that could be like 8k or 10k damage.

That doesn't haave to be dagger or flurry though. It could be 2H doing 300 DAMand frenzy inflated so that it hits 4 times at 100% damage or whatever.

On Insane+ you can run into Warhounds that do over 1000 damage. Madness I have seen warhound with 1350 DAM before even getting to high peak. So on Insane+ there is no way for Armor to deal with all melee attack simply because you can never get enough armor (in some reasonable manner) to stop a summoned warhound. On the other hand 150 armor or even 300 is doable for adventurers and will in fact vastly mitigate some of these "super" melee attacks.

Shielding will for the most part cover anything but it is definitely possible to get hit by many thousands of damage in melee, so you need to be shielded for something on the order of 10k or so to be truly somewhat "safe".

The build I have used for tanking Madness is vulnerable to magic dispel but other wise handles most damage types and and patterns in a "safe" way. But I have to use multiple layers and types of defenses. I have high armor to make an assassin go from 10k damage to nothing, because if armor is greater than dam the crits will do nothing even if they had 1000% mult. On the other hand I need a completely different defense to deal with a large spell crit or a warhound. And of course I need various condition removal to deal with things like poison or wounds that would impair healing as that is another layer of defense. But even with the ability to successfully put armor against stealthed dagger guys I have still occasionally seen a 2h wielder on level 100 things on madness have a base DAM of 400 vs my 315 armor. For me this is fine as I mainly care about two weapon/many hit attacks for armor and that is usually daggers and a good bit lower on base DAM.

Other than that build I don' t think there is any way to really be truly safe and even so that build has a critical weakness its just not based on damage per se. At the Insane level most any single type of defense can meet something that will not only kill you through it but do it pretty fast. Usually there was some way to have prevented it but it might involve a fairly ridiculous and tedious amount of paranoia.

On Insane+, in the end, there is simply a bit of random chance involved certain talent combos can just suck. Damage for somethings just scales whacky compared to other things, etc. In the end for defense there is no real be all end all thing for Insane+ if you get the wrong thing in the wrong way you can die pretty fast even for a really tanky build or a build that deals with most things fine. The trick of course to winning consistently is to play in such a way those things rarely happen. But even then sometimes you are essentially just screwed by RNG.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:17 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:00 pm
Posts: 872
Yeah, even on Insane I've seen a High Peak stair guardian with >100% crit chance and >200% crit multiplier. Fortunately I was playing on Adventure mode, because it insta-gibbed me when I was foolish enough to fight it (as a melee character). A lot of those situations can be avoided with good scouting and decision-making, but you sometimes do get screwed by invisible bosses and forth.

Also, let me say that Sludgenest on Insane is absolutely insane! This build almost completed all 500 walls, but it took about 4 hours of harrowing crisis-management and narrow escapes before I ultimately died. This was after beating the final bosses with minimal effort. The worst part was that I had the Ring of the Dead equipped, but it didn't work due to some bug from playing a 1.2.5 character converted to version 1.3! So be warned, Sludgenest is probably the hardest zone in the game.

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