Tri-Gunner: because more bullets is better

Builds, theorycraft, ... for all adventurer builds

Moderator: Moderator

Post Reply
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:22 am

Tri-Gunner: because more bullets is better

#1 Post by Moopamoop »

I've been running various adventurer builds that center around dual wielding guns while psionically wielding a third gun. Because it's funny. I run a Yeek when I do this, because I think it's even funnier. I'm not very good at the game, but I've mentioned the build a handful of times in Discord and in-game chat over the years and people seem interested in it, so here is a guide to how to make a pretty good tri-gun adventurer.

Step 1: talents
I'm dividing this into a few sections: must-have talents, bonus damage talents, and just-plain good talents.

Must-have talents: These are the talents you have to take in order to make the build work. Without these talents, the build is not going to function.
Steamtech/Gunner Training (5/1+/2+/1+): This is where you get the gun mastery from. You need this. Cannot effectively tri-gun without it. Double shot is a very powerful damage talent at even just one level, you'll eventually want to max it but I'm listing it at 1+ because honestly, you can get by with this at level 1 for quite some time. Uncanny Reload is necessary to make sure you don't eat through your ammo too fast. You're going to be spending 3 ammo a turn, 6 when double-shotting. You will run out of ammo in protracted fights if you're not careful. Static Shot is one of your best AOE damage tools and you'll want as many levels in this as it takes to reliably one-shot mooks.
Psionic/Finer Energy Manipulation (1+/1/1/3+): You need either this talent or the next one to be able to tri-wield guns. I take both because the survival tools in absorption are incredibly useful and because Finer Energy Manipulation as a talent tree is absurdly good. This doesn't just let you tri-wield, it also turns your weapon damage stat from a split between dex and cunning (heavy on dex) to just cunning. It also makes cunning your accuracy stat. This means cunning is the stat that determines your damage, accuracy, and crit rate for your attacks. It's the omni-stat. 1+ point in realign because it can make a good point sink later in the game if you have spare generics, but honestly one point is perfectly fine. You'll probably want to spend most of your generics in racials/tinkers. Form and Function can be another point sink, I don't list it as 1+ because I don't think it scales all that well with additional skill points but like, if you have the spare points to put there may as well. Matter is Energy is mostly a skill point tax to get to Resonant Focus, but you still *can* get some value out of it, especially by eating agates or other stat+ gems to help you get bonus stats for equipping gear or learning skills. I find myself doing this, like, once or twice a run usually. Resonant Focus is the big draw of the tree, and you will eventually want to cap it so that you get as much bonus damage from your cunning as possible, as well as to help get bonus stats from gems for equips/levelling. I list it as 3+ because while you definitely want to cap it eventually, you can sit with this thing at 3 for like 30 levels and be fine.
Psionic/Absorption(3/3/3/1+): Like I said, you can take this in place of FEM to tri-weild, or you can take both, which I usually do. The shields are great for survival. 3 is a good benchmark since that's when you get the bonus effect for de-activating them, but you could honestly bring them to 5 and it wouldn't be wasted. Points in Forcefield to give yourself a survival tool for when situations go bad are worth it but not necessary. I usually don't level it beyond one until late in the game.
Technique/Combat Training(3+/1 or 5/0 or 5/0-1/0 but maybe float one early/0): You can't not have this tree as an adventurer so it's, by definition, must-have but honestly? Not all that important. You want to at least hit 3 in Thick Skin, max it if/when you can. 1 point in heavy armor training for equip flexibility is a must. If your gear drops push you to heavy armor then more points in it are solid. This build can go for whatever armor your drops lead you to, though, and as a result light armor training can be a lot more useful, although you're not going to level dex much and as a result your defense won't actually be that high -- a good reason to stick with heavy armor if the drops favor it. 1 point in combat accuracy can be a life-saver in early levels, but once you get going you won't need it because your cunning is going to give you so much accuracy you shouldn't be missing. It's mostly a question of if you think you can justify "wasting" a generic point on something that's going to be useless by like... level 10. The other two talents in this tree are literally worthless to you except that for reasons that will be explained later, if you're a yeek or other race with low starting dex you may find yourself wanting to spend your first couple of levels floating a point in weapon mastery.
Racials(varies, but on Yeek, which I play most, I tend to do 1/5/5/1+): I play Yeek most on this because I think it's funny. If you're a Yeek you basically have to max quickness, and it's a good idea to max Unity as well. Extra Points in Wayist are nice too and you could float extra in dominant will to make your early game easier. I'll talk more about other racial talents when I talk about what the best races for this build are later.
Steamtech/Physics(3+/2+/1+/0+) AND Steamtech/Chemistry(3+/1+/1+/0): Listed together because they're the tinker talents. You want these. If you're playing main campaign, either use a mod that lets you pick your escorts, or soft restart runs if you don't see a tinker as one of your escorts by level 20, or consign yourself to spending 2 category points to get what you could otherwise get with just one. Tinkers give you everything. They're too good to not have. The point benchmarks I'm listing here are for what I consider to be the bare minimum tinkers to get: 4 core salves, steamgun crafting, spikes/armor reinforcement into eventual crystal plating, rocket boots/kintetic stabilizer, Iron Grip, thunderclap coating, saw/explosive shell... Depending on what tinkers you find you may want to put even more points into various things.

Bonus Damage Talents: Next we have the talents that provide bonus damage on hit. You're going to want one or two of these, because with your multiple shots going off per turn, bonus damage procs scale really well. Unfortunately, most talent sources of bonus damage, especially the really powerful ones like magical combat, specify melee attacks. Projection, Magical Combat, Enhancement, none of those are going to work here. That said, you do still have a few good options, and I'll talk about why. Listed basically in order of how good I think they are:

Chronomancy/Temporal Combat(3+/1+/3+/1+): Honestly this is so good that I basically wanted to put it in the must-have talents category. There are so few bonus damage procs that will work on ranged attacks but at least one of the ones that does is, you know, one of the best in the game. Extra turns, status effects, bonus damage, this tree gives you all kinds of things that you want. I find 3 is a good benchmark point for reliably triggering the bonus effects of the bonus damage talents, although you can get away with fewer points if you really want. The bonus damage is amazing, the regen on invigorate is mid but accelerating cooldowns is remarkably useful in bringing Uncanny Reload, Doubleshot, and other useful talents back quickly, and as a result extra levels in it are nice. Weapon Manifold's bonus effects are all solid and the extra damage is helpful. With 3 shots a turn you're reliably going to trigger them often. Breach gives you something rare -- an attack talent that actually works with your twin steam guns! The reduced armor hardiness and immunities are nice for softening up bosses for big hits from a tinker shell and for making sure your manifolds can apply statuses. You really only need 1 point in breech but if you've got spares in the super late game it can point sink a bit. While this tree is amazing, if for some reason you want to skip it you can, but you'll *need* to take at least one, probably two of the other trees in this category. Unless for some reason you're married to the idea of going antimagic, don't skip this tree imo.

Steamtech/Bullets Mastery (2+/2+/1/2+): The bullet mastery talents don't have the always-on passive benefits of Temporal Combat, but make up for it with much, much more power. The biggest flaw all of these have is their steam costs, with you firing 3 shots a turn you'll find yourself running out of steam in the early game if you're spending it on more than just shooting, unless you get a really solid steam generator as a lucky drop. As a result, bullets mastery can be a bit rough as a bonus damage talent source early. Later, though, when you have 2 steam generators giving a bunch of steam this is an amazing set of talents. Level 2 is a good benchmark to leave the bullets you'll actually want to use at since it's a jump from 2 turn duration to 4 turn duration. Every other level only gives +1 turn. Level 3 isn't a bad benchmark since 3 bullet talents at level 3 means you can effectively always have one of them on. I think the knockback and stun on percussive bullets is... fine, but mostly it's not worth levelling and using because you're going to eventually get the knockback from thunderclap coating. Not worth more points in than the one you'll need to get explosive bullets. This is the first of any of the trees I'm mentioning that I'd consider skippable. It's good. It's really good. But you don't *have* to take it. I pretty much always do eventually, but if you need cat points for, say, spending 2 cat points to get tinkers, well, not unlocking this is where one of those points could come from.

Cunning/Poisons (2+/1/2+/1+): I really want poisons to be good on this build. On paper it seems good. Scales with cunning, provides bonus damage, has a bunch of utility options in the third talent, but honestly... things just die too fast for the most part? The utility options don't really matter much, poison doesn't have time to stack up or pay off, you're really not going to notice this at all except in long, drawn-out boss fights. In those situations, I've found this tree to be pretty good, but you can get by without it. I'm talking bad about it but it's here for a reason. It's one of your only bonus damage options and like... while stuff dies fast, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't? The poison's good. I used to take this every time, but recently I stopped taking it and I don't really miss it. If you're going anti-magic for some reason, I'd say you pretty much have to take this tree plus bullet mastery to make up for not having Chronomancy.

Cunning/Scoundrel (1/1+/1/1+): Mostly listed for sake of completion. It's one of the only ways to get bonus damage on ranged attacks, but suffers from the same issues as poisons. Also has the same benefits of having some random debuff utility that, in boss fights, can be pretty brutal, but it's all, well, RNG as hell. This just isn't a reliable tree and you probably have better, more important things to spend generics on.

Spell/Undead Drake (1+/1/1+/0): Listed here entirely for the sake of completion. It's pretty much your only other source for bonus on-hit damage on ranged attacks. Yeah. The bonus damage is small, but I think it procs on bonus bleed or poison damage from poision/scoundrel? If you take them maybe this is better. I've never tried it. Bottom of the barrel stuff here. I've taken this talent category in two runs and both times I regretted it, but maybe there's something more to it that I'm missing? Maybe a specific interaction between raze and certain unique guns or certain tinkers I tend to overlook? Maybe. I kinda doubt it. Still, this is an option for bonus on-hit damage, something that a multi-hitting build like this does really want. It's a bad option. But it's an option.

Just-Plain-Good Talents:
This is where I put the talents that are not must-haves for the build and don't provide bonus on-hit damage. You could make a functional build for this set-up using only talents from the above pools but honestly? I'd say you want at least one, if not two or 3 trees from this list to really fill the build out. I'm going to list class trees first and generic trees second, unlike in the other zones where I kinda mixed them together haphazardly.

Steamtech/Gunslinging (3+/1+/1 or more/3+): This tree is so good it's practically a must-have, but it's not... literally a must-have. You can do without it. I wouldn't, though. All my best runs have had this tree, and the biggest reason for why is the first talent: strafe. This talent is so good. Lets you reposition while dealing damage, helps manage ammo... it just does so much that you want to do, especially early game. Eventually as your build comes into its own and damage numbers start being bigger, you'll find yourself strafing less, but in the early game it's essential. Startling shot can help with big burst damage combos. Breach > Startling Shot > Explosive Shell/Saw Shell is a likely going to be your biggest damage burst against bosses. More points for more multiplier. It's mostly a point-sink for late-game. Evasive Shots isn't bad, but honestly you will not have high def or evasion most of the time because of your low dex. If you take some of the other evasion-focused trees I'll talk about later, this may get better. I haven't tried doing that much. But if you're not going to take Light Armor Training and Mobility (and maybe a couple other evasion talents, too) then I'd say just leave it at one point. Trick Shot is good for clearing out groups of enemies that aren't clustered together for a good static shot, or for clearing out static shock survivors. I can't remember where the good breakpoint value is for bounces here, I think 3 but it may actually be 2. Either way, I'd say leave it there or even just leave it at 1 until you're sure you've got the points to spare to max it later in the game.

Cunning/Stealth: I have no solid recommendations for this, since I don't really like how stealth works in this game. Feels like a lot of investment and there's not always great feedback on whether or not enemies have noticed you. That said, I would be remiss to point out that, for stealth likers, you're investing heavily in cunning. Stealth can work here.

Technique/Combat Techniques(1/1/1+/5): I've gone with this before. On any weapon build, even a ranged build, this is never bad. It's just not always good enough to justify taking. Here, I'd say don't bother but I'm listing it as an option for anti-magic and just... the sake of completion? I dunno. I've used it. It wasn't bad, but wasn't as good as Gunslinging or bullet mastery, the main competition for this cat point and the class points.

Spell/Temporal (1+/5/1/5): Speed is good on this build, but I don't think the gains from this tree are worth the extra damage that comes from arcane resource burn due to gaining a mana pool. I've used this, and I'd say it was better than Combat Techniques but like... I'm putting it below that because both runs I've used it I've died to getting critical'd by an anti-mage and the resource burn damage destroying me. Overall if you're deciding between this or gunslinging and/or bullet mastery, I'd say take those, but you could use this instead for a different take on the build.

Golemancy and Friend of the Worm are both talent trees I've never taken on this build, but like... if you want a friend then you can have one I guess. could be neat if you don't want to go gunslinging or bullet mastery and have the extra cat point and class points to put into other things. I also haven't messed around with using demented trees or hate trees over gunslinging/bullet mastery, if you want to try some stuff from those trees there may be something.

Chronomancy/Spacetime Weaving(1+/0+/0+/0+): Dimensional Step is a one-point wonder and on its own worth a cat point and a generic point. You can invest in it further for bigger teleport distance. I would generally not invest in much of the rest of the tree but if you're running a race with racials that aren't as good as Yeek's, or you didn't go Tinkers for some reason and you have more points to spare as a result, well, you can definitely put more points in here.

Celestial/Light(1+/1+/1+/5): It's Light. It's amazing. It was so good as a generic it had to be removed from escort/yeti tissue pool. If you've got spare generics from not going Yeek or not getting tinkers then buddy this is the tree for you.

Psionic/Dreaming(1+/1+/1+/1+): Falling asleep can ruin runs. This not only makes you immune to that, but can put that power in your hands and gives you a mobility tool to boot. CAn be a good option instead of spacetime weaving. I've only taken it once but I liked it.

Psionic/Augmented Mobility(1/1+/1/1+): This is kinda the anti-magic answer to spacetime weaving and it is... not a good answer. You need to invest way more points to reach the teleport, and put more points in the teleport for it to be near as good as dimensional step, but on the plus side, there's a solid self-buff you can nab along the way. Overall if you aren't anti-magic don't take this, and if you are consider Dreaming instead, but like... I took this in all my anti-magic runs before I did a magic run where I took dreaming > Spacetime Weaving and realized dreaming is probably better for anti-magic mobility.

Technique/Mobility(1+/5/1+/5): I have not done a ton of builds focused on light armor/evasion as a survival strat because, like I said, you don't level dex on this build so as a result your def winds up being pretty low. Still, if you wanna do that, you want mobility. It's a viable option.

Cunning/Survival(1+/1+/1+/1+): It's survival. It's good. Probably wouldn't spend a cat point on it but, like, if you're doing weird anti-magic or evasion stuff this is an option for where to put points.

Spell/Conveyance(5/1+/5/0+): If you're going to invest more than just a handful of points in spacetime weaving, maybe instead just nab conveyance? While Weaving is better at low point investment, I think Conveyance gets really strong at high point investment.

Wild Gift/Antimagic(3+/1+/5/1+): Anti-magic limits your options a ton and is generally not worth it. That said, if you really want to, you definitely can antimagic with this set up. I've done it before and I don't think it's as good as going magic but like... it works. It's not terrible. It's funny that I put anti-magic so low but put trees that you'll want to take with anti-magic above it. It kinda goes to show that even in an anti-magic set up it's not providing you with everything you want from a generic tree. Especially not with mobility.

Conditioning and Divination are both also "always good" talent categories but honestly I'd say don't cat point them and just be happy nabbing the free talent levels you're likely to get in the talents you want from those trees via escorts/yeti tissue.

Step 2: Race

Play a Yeek. Make them fear the might of the tiny fuzzy guy with three guns. If you aren't going to do that, for some reason, here are the other options I think are good.

Shalore(1+/3-5/1/5): Shalore is always good. You can pull some magic shenanigans, get a shitton of global speed, shoot bullets everywhere, crit for days. You're still frail but not as frail as a Yeek. Overall a solid choice.
Thalore(1/1+/1+/1+): Thalore are a nice defensive option and if you want to do anti-magic for this and don't want to be a Yeek for some reason this is the race I'd say to pick. Or Cornac.
Cornac: Extra cat point means if you're not modding or soft-resetting you don't feel the sting of 2 cat points for tinkers nearly as badly. Extra points overall are nice. You don't have racials to spend on, but you can nab light and that's almost like having a really good racial actually. Anti-magic cornacs can more easily get points in the extra generics they'll want to cover for what they'd be losing to anti-magic, and have more class points to help cover for not having Temporal Combat.
Halfling(1+/1+/1/5): Halfling is never bad and their racial talents scale with cunning, your core stat. If you're a Yeek-hater then you'll feel right at home as a halfling.
Skeleteletelemoton: (1+/1+/3-5/5): Skeleton is underrated as a race in general I think and works nicely here. Your main problem is that your racials scale with dex and you won't really be levelling that, but even with minimal stat bonus scaling skeleton racials are still strong.
Drem(1+/1/5/1+): Never tried a Drem with this, but the 0 cooldown class talents could be pretty neat and the mouth pulling enemies away from you seems nice.
Yeti(1+/1+/1/1+): When a yeti points 3 guns at you and tells you to freeze it turns out you actually freeze into a solid block of ice. True story. If you're doing tri-gunning in embers, do it as a yeti (or mod in the ability to play as other races and play a Yeek).
Basically anything else you can pick is just not going to be that great. Don't play Ogre or DoomElf or Ghoul or Higher or Dwarf, I just don't think they're any good here.

Step 3: Stats

If you're a Yeek, the dex penalty presents a problem. You will not have enough dex at level 1 to take a level in steamgun mastery. Your first 2 levels you'll want to level dex so that, with a gem equipped, you can get the first level of steamgun mastery. Because you won't have the ability to wield steam guns, you'll wind up spending your first 2-3 levels going melee instead. I like to tk a greatsword and use a longsword and a mindstar offhand. This is where floating one point in weapon mastery for a couple levels can be helpful, but you will want to get rid of it eventually. This applies to any other racial picks that can't hold a gun without gaining dex points. Afterwards, you'll want to level in the following order:

Cun > Mag > Str > Wil/Dex/Con

Cunning is your core stat. It's your damage. It's your accuracy. It's your crit chance. You need it to level absorption and/or finer energy manipulation. Magic is your next most important stat, and you may even want to spend a few levels levelling magic instead of cunning if you need to in order to unlock talents or to be sure you'll reach 50 mag by level 25. Str gives you phys power, which you'll want more of, and also helps you equip better armors. If you feel like you have "enough" phys power and are going light armor you can skip it for dex instead. For final stat, wil/dex/con is a matter of what gear you've found and what you need. Dex gives crit reduction and def which can both be useful for survival, but if your def is too low to matter the last few points in dex won't really save you. Wil gives resources and shores up 2 saves. If you've got high saves from gear bringing them higher with wil can help, but beware diminishing returns. Some unique shots have wil scaling, which is the main situation where you'll want wil to be your 3rd stat. Con gives more HP and more recov mod, and while the crit reduction from dex is often a better choice for survivability, sometimes an extra 15 HP in your pool really is the difference between life and death. Usually I put my remaining points in dex, but if I have wil scaling shot I go wil.

For anti-magic, your stats look like this

Cun > Str > Wil/Dex/Con

or like this

Cun > Wil > Str > Dex/Con

depending on which offensive prodigy you pick.

Step 4: Prodigies

Generally, when I pick prodigies, I pick one offensive and one defensive/utility, usually taking the offensive prodigy first. I'll talk about your offense and defense options seperately.

Arcane Might: if you aren't anti-magic this is your strongest pick. Tons of damage, improved crit chance, just all around a beast of a prodigy. Alongside Temporal Combat this is the reason why we even care about magic as a stat.
Pain enhancement System (PES): A decent option for damage if you're anti-magic, the 50% uptime is a bit of a problem, though, and you likely won't have access to any tools to extend it. If you can extend its uptime it becomes much, much better.
Superpower: The other damage prodigy for anti-magic, superpower wishes it were arcane might for mental but it just isn't. You don't really care much about the extra mindpower you'll get from the strength and will really find yourself wishing you had more phys power instead.

Draconic Will: I think this is your best bet for status immunity. The other options have some problems that I'll mention later, but Draconic Will just says no to any detrimental effects. The one downside is it requires some foresight to use properly.
Spine of the World: Spine is really good except for one problem, you need to get hit by a physical detrimental effect before you become immune to further ones. You get stunned once and say no to further stuns for a few turns. That's not bad, but you still get stunned once. Draconic Will, if used with proper foresight, means you don't get stunned in the first place. Still, if you don't want to think ahead too much for your status immunity, Spine is probably your best option.
Unbreakable Will: You don't have to think ahead with this one and it will stop you from getting blown up by mental skills. The biggest problem with this imo is that you aren't that scared of mental effects. If you're a Yeek (which you should be) your mental save will be high and you'll be immune to confusion, the most common and brutal mental effect. You will still occasionally have to worry about sleep, which sucks, but there are other sleep answers you can use like lucid dreamer gear. If you have lucid dreamer gear and are a yeek you just should not need unbreakable will ever. If you aren't a Yeek this becomes a much more attractive option.
Cauterize: Can be hard to get access to but if you have it then it can be a literal life saver. Spamming chronomancy and/or runes to get your spell numbers up if you've dealt enough fire damage is not a bad idea.
Draconic Body: Weaker than Cauterize but easier to unlock and available for anti-magic.
Windtouched Speed: It's so good but there just aren't that many equilibrium-using talents that you'll want to level. Still, it's an option for anti-magic characters who have enough levels in equilibrium talents I guess.
Adept: You take a lot of points in a lot of different talents, and as a result adept can wind up giving you a lot of little bonuses. It's nice but I think I'd take pretty much any of the previously-mentioned prodigies instead. I do like this a lot for a third prodigy in Embers of Rage campaign post-game.

Step 5: Inscriptions/Cat Points

So I've talked a lot about talents and spending cat points, but I haven't really talked about when or how to spend them. The reason for that is... it really, really depends a ton. Adventurers are weird, and this is more of a general *type* of build rather than a specific build. One thing I will point out about cat points, however, is that you really, really want to have 5 inscriptions. You want to hit 4 pretty early, too, at level 10 or even at the start by sacrificing a talent category. Early on you definitely want:
Steam Generator, Wild/Shatter Afflictions, Regen/Heal/Shield, Movement
end-game you'll wind up with something like:
Steam Generator, 2x Injector, Movement, and then either a second Steam Generator, a second movement, Heroism, Shield, or a unique inscription of some sort.

Step 6: Gear/Tinkers

I'll edit in more info about this later maybe, but I do want to point out that your telekenetically-wielded gun fires whenever you shoot with your held guns, regardless of the attack speed of the gun you're tele-wielding. As a result, The Long Arm can shoot much, much more often than it would normally be able to, which makes it the best third gun you can get. Likewise, because tele-guns don't care about attack rate, annihilator is a terrible tele-gun.

Post Reply