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Posted (edited)

THE THUNDERCAT 2.0

 

Class: Lifegiver / Blood Mage

Concept: Fast, sturdy and fun Caster/Melee hybrid that relies upon strong synergies between classes to keep spiritshift, buffs and healing up forever, unleashing devastating combos of CC/Damage spells before optionally finishing up foes with claws. Optimized for a No-Rest run.

Game Version: RTwP. Works with latest updates and DLCs as of v5.0.00040. I recommend the Full Community Patch and the No Forced Rests mod (otherwise just metagame around them, it’s fully viable but just a bit annoying).

Upscaled PotD Solo Viable: Yes.

Companion: Nope (meant to play solo by definition, no companion can use this template).

As always, this is going to be a somewhat long post so please bear with me. I’ll explain briefly why I think this toon is interesting and illustrate how it comes together with a short video, then go over the key stats, equipment and abilities.

 

-----INTRO------

 

The Thundercat is a beloved PoE1 Druid build by @L4wlight (I definitely won’t take credit for the original idea!). The idea: a very fast-paced and explosive Druid that loves lightning, using the Cat form for extra speed, being able to dish out lots of damage via spells and melee, inflict a lot of debuffs/CC and even healing and moderate buffing. My goal was to adapt the core idea to Deadfire minus the Britney vibe :) and to make it viable for Solo PotD.

Multiclassing with a Blood Mage became quite obvious because of certain synergies:

  • Lifegiver in Cat form has amazing action speed, stellar healing over time and some really cool offensive spells, but it can’t keep those up forever, its defenses aren’t great and it runs out of resources fast.
  • Blood Mage uses healing as a resource to replenish spells at will, it can prolong beneficial effects forever with Wall of Draining (including Cat form, Flurry, Healing over Time…) and it has some of the strongest buffing, defensive and offensive spells in the game.
  • Yay, the sweet smell of synergy! So far I totally realize that I’m not saying anything fundamentally new, so I’ll go in a bit more detail on each of the cornerstones of the build to explain why this toon has a special place in my little ❤️.

 

Speed:

This is a key enabler of this build’s playstyle. Action Speed has linear returns (thanks @thelee and others for the patient demonstrations) but with enough investment and the right build, I find that it can also somewhat alter your action economy and enable new combos, which is what Thundercat 2.0 is all about. It will all become clearer in a few paragraphs but at this point I’ll just mention that at the top of his game, this build reduces total action cycle time (Action + Recovery) by -55%. So a spell that would take 7.5s with a neutral-speed toon (4.5s + 3s) takes 3.4s (2s + 1.4s). Claws attacks have a total cycle time of 1.3s (0.2 + 1.1s)... How do we reach this speed? Cat Form has zero armor recovery, Cat Flurry is a huge speed buff, Captain Banquet stacks if you save/reload, we have lots of DEX, Fleet Feet, plus rapid casting and 2 weapons-style.

 

Healing:

Another key enabler for survivability and fuel for Blood Sacrifice. In Cat Form, we have lots of PL boost to Rejuvenation and we can stack outstanding HoT: Moonwell, Nature’s Balm, The Moon’s Light, the occasional Garden of Life… Not all of those HoTs get prolonged by Wall of Draining but Nature’s Balm and The Moon’s Light do (for Moonwell, only the +All Def bonus is prolonged). You also get some bonus from Dawnstar’s Blessing, Practiced Healer, Footprints of Ahu Taka, a bit of MIG). Net net, you can stack a consistent healing of ~60 health/3 sec, and easily spike over 100 health/3sec.

 

Defense:

The Thundercat 2.0 is no Arcane Knight, but he can still hold his ground. We stack bonuses with passives, accessories and buffs, in particular there is something nice with Captain Furrante’s breastplate “First to the Fight” effect not being removed by Spiritshift and extendable via WoD. (Doesn’t work with weapon effects like Sheltering Light and Drawing Parry). We can get REF and WIL over 200, FOR and DEF over 170 (non-veil piercing attacks). We have immunities or resistance to most problematic hard CC effects. Our AR is routinely at 17. We’re immune to Interrupt. Nothing stellar overall and we will get hit by high level foes, but we can take it, especially because we have other layers of active protection…

 

Crowd Control/Debuff

I think that the Thundercat 2.0 may be one of the best debuffers in the game. We can drastically reduce every single enemy offensive and defensive stat. Every stat. And easily inflict soft and hard CC. We have Afflictions across all stats, several Tier 3+ as well as Tier 1 & 2 with decent duration that are mostly attached to damaging spells in large pulsing AoE. And we can chain-cast those nasty effects very fast, potentially reducing literally everything on one sorry group of enemies. This enables to play very strategically on enemies weaknesses, or just to go bonkers throwing spells around that are randomly going to synergize with one another.

 

Damage

This is where I got really impressed. We have literally tons of casts of pulsing/ticking and DoT spells and we have 2 awesome force multipliers: Combusting Wounds and Infestation of Maggots. We also have a decent accuracy with most spells being around ~120 ACC and all those debuffs attached to help them land better. We also have a lot of INT so hazard areas and DoTs will last longer. If you combine all this with super-fast spell casting, you can very quickly get a snowballing, layering effect that overwhelms the enemy, creating an exponential stream of DMG that will leave all but the sturdiest of opponents standing. And when you’ve thinned the herd and supercharged your spiritshift duration, you can just go nuts in melee with one-second Greater Wildstrike Shock auto-attacks. Because you can’t swap grimoires when spiritshifted, unfortunately it is hard to use Zandethu’s Draconic Fury but hey, we can’t have everything all the time!

 

Bringing everything together:

Here is a small video that I recorded of the Sea-Lashed Crypt entrance fight where I am using all the mechanics described above. I know it is not a very hard fight by any means, the goal is just to show the different mechanics of the build easily, with a decent variety of enemies, some tanky enough to be able to show the snowballing damage effect.

 

 

-----SPECS------

 

 

Race: Wood Elf (DEX Affliction resistance and +PER)

Background: The White that Wends – Explorer

 

FINAL STATS WITH ALL PERMABUFFS AND NO-REST BUFFS AS OF 5.0 (without combat buffs):

MIG 13 (8 Base +2 Berath +1 Gift from Machine +2 Alchemic Brawn)

CON 17 (8 Base +2 Berath +2 Alchemic Brawn +2 Konstanten Boon +3 Girdle of Eoten CON)

DEX 24 (15 Base +1 Elf +2 Berath +2 Alchemic Guile +2 Amira’s Blessing +2 Footprints Ahu Taka)

PER 28 (18 Base +1 Elf +1 White that Wends +2 Berath +1 Konstanten Boon +1 Effigy: Sagani +2 Alchemic Guile +1 Savage Cunning +1 Cauldron Brew)

INT 25 (18 Base +2 Berath +1 Konstanten Boon +2 Alchemic Wits +2 Charm of Bones)

RES 18 (8 Base +2 Berath +2 Alchemic Wits +2 Nature’s Resolve +2 Rikuhu’s Blessing +2 Eviee Pet)

 

ADDITIONAL PERMABUFFS:

Food: Captain’s Banquet

Adratic Glow

All Trainings

Dawnstar Blessing

Luminous Adra Potion

Nature’s Resolve (Accuracy)

Savage Cunning (Survival)

Galawain’s Gift

Magran’s Blessing

Infamous Captain, Bonus Skills, Champion Stats, Port Maje vendor, Fully discovered Map, Bonus Money… invested all 105 Berath’s Blessing Points

 

SKILLS: History at 20, Mechanics at 13, rest in Athletics and Survival. Diplomacy early on for quests.

 

 

----- ABILITIES ------

 

 

LIFEGIVER SPELLS

Nature’s Vigor, Nature’s Mark, The Moon’s Light, Insect Swarm, Nature’s Balm, Infestation of Maggots, Moonwell, Wicked Briars, Cleansing Wind, Relentless Storm, Garden of Life, Venombloom, Nature’s Bounty.

 

BLOOD MAGE SPELLS (optimized for Using Grimoire of Vaporous Wizardy)

Learned: Chill Fog, Fleet Feet, Eldritch Aim, Combusting Wounds, Infuse With VE, Llengrath’s Safeguard, Freezing Pillar.

From Grimoire: Thrust of Tattered Veils, Minor Missiles, Necrotic Lance, Binding Web, Expose Vulnerabilities, Fireball, Concussive Missiles, Confusion, Malignant Cloud, Call to Slumber, Gaze of the Adragan, Chain Lightning, Delayed Fireball, Wall of Draining.

 

PASSIVE ABILITIES

Wildstrike Shock, Greater Wildstrike Shock, Two Weapon Style, Bull’s Will, Bear Fortitude, Far Casting, Rapid Casting, Tough, Practiced Healer, Secrets of Rime, Heart of the Storm, Uncanny Luck, Improved Critical.

 

 

-----GEAR------

 

 

Weapon Set: Duskfall (Drawing Parry), Lethandria’s Devotion (Sheltering Light). Doesn’t really matter, just in case you get targeted before Spiritshifting. Keep handy Lover's Embrace to cut some cheese.

Grimoire: Of Vaporous Wizardy. Keep handy Illuminating Discoveries.

Head: Rekvu’s Fractured Casque. (the Wrenched Knee injury is best here, you can get tons easily in the Poko Kohara dungeon if you don't disarm the traps).

Neck: Charm of Bones.

Chest: Captain Furrante’s Breastplate (First to the Fight, Vigorous Protector) .

Cape: Giftbearer’s Cloth.

Gloves: Bracers of Greater Deflection. Keep Burglar’s Gloves, Firethrower’s gloves and Woedica’s Grasp handy.

Rings: 2 X Rings of Minor Protection.

Boots: Footprints of Ahu Taka. Keep handy Boots of the Stone, Sandals of the Water Lily.

Belt: Girdle of Eoten Constitution

Pet: Eviee.

 

 

-----THE END------

 

 

That’s it. It’s not a ground breaking build but it is quite powerful, versatile and very fun. Another strong Blood Mage + X to solo the game, and one of few Druid options that can solo as far as I know. Always happy to read your thoughts and potential for improvement or tweaking. I'm sure it can be steered in other directions, in particular for party play.

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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Posted (edited)

I actually never thought about prolonging Lifegiver's Spiritshift with WoD so that you wouldn't have the PL drop. Neat! :)

The casting speed is indeed great. 

Edited by Boeroer
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This looks like a great build. Thank you for sharing it. It seems like a very versatile speedy spell slinger. Do you often use the Wildstrike auto attacks too?

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @dgray62 !

The melee part of this build is 90% flavor honestly but it still has its uses, mostly to avoid using Blood Sacrifice at the end of certain fights. For example when you have a few remaining tough enemies like Steelclads, you can use Expose Vulnerabilities or Nature's Mark and go Melee for a fun and economical way to dispose of them. Key fight that comes to mind is Katrenn for instance, because it's also difficult to use overwhelming AoE in this fight without killing half of Neketaka.

It's also just nice to know that you can go melee if you want, even though most fights can be wrapped up with 3 Freezing Pillars and a couple other spells. Now is it worth spending 3 ability points (Two Weapon Style + 2 x Wildstrike) on melee in this case is another matter. But flavor is important to me :).

I was really planning to use Zandethu's Draconic Fury more based on a suggestion from @Boeroer but it's annoying to set up since you can't switch grimoires while shifted. You have to do your setup in Kith form, cast Zandethu, switch back to Vaporous, cast WoD, spiritshift, when you're good to go you will be doing tremendous single target damage with the 3 lashes. But by this time usually everything is already dead anyway!

 

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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2 hours ago, Not So Clever Hound said:

I was really planning to use Zandethu's Draconic Fury more based on a suggestion from @Boeroer but it's annoying to set up since you can't switch grimoires while shifted. You have to do your setup in Kith form, cast Zandethu, switch back to Vaporous, cast WoD, spiritshift, when you're good to go you will be doing tremendous single target damage with the 3 lashes. But by this time usually everything is already dead anyway!

Yes, it's also annoying that you'll only have 1 cast of that 7th spell tier without using Grimoire oVW - which then requires you to use Blood Sacrifice more often (because Zandethu's Draconic Fury is on the same tier as Wall of Draining for example).
It may be cool with a dedicated melee Druid/Wizard Spiritshift build for a party (where you might not need WoD that often) but I guess not great for solo.  

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Yes, the lashes and quick speed mean you can easily deal with foes with melee, but I can see that normally chain casting spells is probably the most efficient way to go. I'm trying it out and am dealing with the dig site foes now, and disposing of them easily. The build takes off once you hit lvl 4 and get the Moon's Well; they just can't harm you as quickly as you regenerate. Prior to that it's a bit soft, but you hit lvl 4 so quickly this isn't a problem. I imagine it just flies from there!

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Posted (edited)

Nice! I don't think I even bothered with the digsite on this playthrough to be honest :) but indeed the Moon's Well is amazing throughout. The build has a consistent but steep power curve because every level/PL adds more healing/offense/defense that you can then add to your high speed casting routines. As you can imagine, Relentless Storm is a huge spike in power, followed by Freezing Pillar and of course WoD which brings you on a whole different level.

The relative weakness of this build is enemy casters (Arcane Dampener and sometimes Form of Helpless Beast :) ). But you have so many tools to shut down casters and you can spam them super fast plus you have high defenses so it's not that bad actually. I occasionally love Venom Bloom for the Frighten effect for example, even if this particularly targets Will which Casters typically have a lot of. The good duration and pulsing helps. And of course Relentless Storm is the uber caster disabler. Chill Fog is helpful to reduce enemy range and group them in your Relentless Storm AoE.

Just as an example, I did the upper and main levels of Drowned Barrows relatively recklessly and without having to reload once. I know it's not a crazy feat by any means :) but usually with a caster Character that is not an Arcane Knight, at least one fight will go south for me there because of one caster managing to breach my defenses on a good roll. Here it didn't matter, I completely destroyed every encounter. Same for the Fampyr Crypt, Concelhaut, etc.

I wish you good fun and good fortune with the build :).

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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Thanks! I am playing this solo, as I am not fond of playing wizards who make frequent use of chillfog in parties, since your companions will invariably charge into the chillfog. But I imagine Boeroer's suggestions to try the build with a party might be great with some modifications. One thing I wonder is, if you cast essential phantom while in Spiritshift, would the phantom likewise be in spiritshift form too? If so, that would be hilarious, a super speedy ghost cat! I wouldn't try this solo, but it might be great in a party.

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How does this play when leveling?  Can you generally play the game in a relatively "normal" way?  I'm interested in playing solo some but I'm trying to figure out how to do it without having to do things like non-combat leveling.  It sounds like you were able to do early content, though?

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As much as I like the general idea and realisation of this build here (because the synergies are neat und fun and it looks awesome in action) I don't think it's that easy in the early game. At least without Berath's Blessings (start at lvl. 4).  

Imo if you want to play solo like you would play with a party (and are not superexperienced and also don't have a lot of metaknowledge): pick an Arcane Knight (with Bloodmage).
The Paladin subclass doesn't matter that much I'd say. I like Steel Garrote because you can drain a lot of health with Concelhaut's Parasitic Staff (stacks with the Steel Garrote's passive) which is nice for Blood Sacrifice and spares you Zeal (no need to use Lay on Hands). You can later even use the Concelhaut's Draining Touch trick* to have an awesome draining weapon with build-in affliction + shield (but that's a bit exploit-ish so maybe not your cup of tea). Shieldbearer and Bleak Walker don't add much though for a solo run imo so maybe don't pick those. 
The Arcane Knight can have high defenses right from the start (Faith and Conviction + Mirrored Images and also Quarterstaff modal, later Mirrored Images, Arcan Veil and so on), high AR (Spirit Shield + passives), good healing (Lay on Hands) and tons of tools for any situation really, so very versatile. On top of that you'll have a cool summon at some point, too (Essential Phantom). And as soon as you get Wall of Draining you'll be a demigod because stuff like Lay on Hands and all buffs won't run out.
The only Achilles' heel is hostile Arcane Dampeners. Some enemies like to cast this as soon as they see you. You can prevent getting hit with it with a very high Will defense (usually the case bc. you want high INT and RES anyway) but also by using Arkemy's Brilliant Departure at the right time and so on.

Herald is also a very solid pick and can be played in several ways. More on the summoning side which is always powerful and at the same time sturdy as heck as well. Very versatile, too.

 

 

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5 hours ago, crdvis16 said:

How does this play when leveling?  Can you generally play the game in a relatively "normal" way?  I'm interested in playing solo some but I'm trying to figure out how to do it without having to do things like non-combat leveling.  It sounds like you were able to do early content, though?

I've been playing this build solo, and have made it to lvl 10 so far. Once you reach lvl 4 and get the Moon's Well you can cruise, since you can out heal almost all damage, while dishing out serious damage with spells. Fortunately, you can reach lvl 4 with almost no fighting just by doing the quests in Port Maje. That said, I agree with Boeroer that an Arcane Knight or Herald would be easier for a first time soloing.

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On 5/15/2021 at 5:47 PM, Boeroer said:

The only Achilles' heel is hostile Arcane Dampeners. Some enemies like to cast this as soon as they see you. You can prevent getting hit with it with a very high Will defense (usually the case bc. you want high INT and RES anyway) but also by using Arkemy's Brilliant Departure at the right time and so on.

I totally agree that Arcane Knight is one of the safest/easiest pick for a first time around soloing. It is more frontloaded and you can consistently outpace enemy ACC with your different defenses if you build appropriately. The Thundercat is more explosive and fun IMO and still pretty good defensively because it has "active" defenses (i.e. offense :)but it is definitely more exposed.

I haven't played Arcane Knight in a while but I was thinking about giving it another go in some time with the simple goal of achieving the highest possible mix of defenses. If I end up doing it and if I get any interesting new news vs. older builds I'll write it up.

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Steel garrote/blood mage is the way to go with an arcane knight IMO. On the wizard side, you have plenty of spells that can cause afflictions, which enable you to get the passive healing through autoattacks or Flames of Devotion. The great healing can totally offset the cost of blood sacrifice.

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