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This does not really warrant a full Build Guide but I still wanted to share some of my findings with the community, in case you had experience or thoughts about this class. I tried a Solo Crusader playthrough out of curiosity to answer for myself the following question: does Fighter/Paladin really suck as much as I like to think? Indeed, this is a combination that can look appealing to new players because it seems safe and straight-forward, but that doesn't seem to get any love from Deadfire experts and power-gamers mostly for the same reason: it's arguably great at surviving, but not so much at doing anything else.

 

While there seems to be some relative degree of consensus on this, I'm not sure many players have actually tried it (I must say I just assumed it sucked before I tried it). Some time ago, a comment from @Boeroer in relative "defense" of this class made me consider that maybe indeed, it could have more potential than I'd think. So after some planning, I went on with a Bleakwalker/Devoted with WotEp. Very classic. After having played from lvl 4 to lvl 20 and dabbled into high level content, my short answer is: it doesn't suck as much as you'd think and it can hold its ground in many situations where classes that tend to get more love would struggle. It can also be actually quite fun to play (not always).

 

But as soon as you reach serious foes on Upscaled PotD, you have to supplement your toon with Arcana to survive AND deal damage. There is just too much incoming damage and enemies have too much health for its core abilities to carry you through the day. If Sacred Immolation wasn't so self-punishing and/or maybe a bit more powerful than it is, this class could actually have a lot of potential. With that said I don't think anymore that it's a bottom-tier class.

 

Defensively: of course it's quite good, and I went further ahead with Hylea's Bounty, Casità Samelia's Legacy + max intimidate, a general focus on defensive accessories and the strongest active/passive defensive abilities plus WotEP as a weapon (Offensive Parry transforms melee defense into offense). I will also rip the bandage here: I went with Conquerer Stance instead of Mob Stance, for the extra DEF and ACC and it actually works pretty well. Net, you can consistently get your defenses in the ~160-180 range and have an extra passive +20 against afflictions. Decent, for a defensive build (not stellar).

 

Healing: is great too obviously, thanks to the Fighter's Rapid Recovery, occasional Unbending, and the Paladin's Exalted Endurance and Lay on Hands. With max MIG, the Dawnstar's Blessing, Practiced Healer and Footprints of Ahu Taka, you're very hard to kill. On the other hand... Sacred Immolation does so much self damage that it's hard to sustain in fights where enemies can actually hurt you. Sure you can use Voidward, but then you're not using another good ring. The fact that Sacred Immolation does MORE damage to self THAN to enemies will remain a mystery to me. If only things were reversed... it would be so much nicer to do 48+ Raw DMG per 3 sec to enemies and have to manage 30-45 Burn damage per 3 sec to self! :) 

 

Offensively: I went with Bleakwalker/Devoted + WotEp because I thought there was a nice synergy between Eternal Devotion applying Sicken, and Clear Out targeting FORT while being multiplied by WotEP AoE. It actually works well indeed as a DMG + CC tool... but enemies on Upscaled PotD have too much health for it to be a bread winner on its own. Offensive Parry with high DEF actually complements the damage very well and keeps your melee offense relevant until you get Sacred Immolation, or with Burn immunes. At high level, Sacred Immolation can melt a surprising amount of foes if you remember to apply Lay on Hands to not die. With 10 Zeal, you can apply 2 Lay on Hands and 2 Sacred Immolations per fight, which will destroy a lot of foes. You can then finish the stragglers with a couple of Clear Outs and the occasional Run Through, which I had forgotten was so strong as a single target-obliterating weapon ability. With a Mythic-grade WotEP, the base damage + raw DoT is close to a death sentence.

 

Conclusion: As I mentioned earlier, all that stuff works well at crushing high level bounties, mopping the floor with all the witches, oozes, bats, etc. of Outcast's Respite in a single fight, the Fampyr Crypt too - and it's actually quite fun until you have to finish stragglers with autoattacks that take forever. However, as soon as you start hitting the real mean customers, those tools fall apart. In the Sea Lash Crypt, DLCs etc. you need Arcana to prevail. It's not a shame by any mean and the fact that you can get this far means to me that the class isn't bottom-tier, but of course it's also not top-tier. It's (drumroll) middle-tier. So all in all, my personal takeaway is that the next time someone asks about Crusader, I won't be so prompt to dismiss it - in a party or in a lower difficulty Solo playthrough, I think it's actually a pretty nice class. Anyway, let me know if you have any comments/questions (damn, I feel like at work now that I wrote this sentence :) thanks for reading my memo ;)).

 

PS: My fun finding of this playthrough was that Run Through + Slippers of the Assassin can turn you into a mini Assassin! Begin fight, buff, go to a squishy, apply Run Through, it's dead, trigger Shadow Form, flee, reset, do it again.

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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Iirc I posted that I did 170+ dmg crits with a great sword as Crusader (using Inspired Beacon etc.) - while being sturdy as an ox (for a two-handed guy anyway). 

But I think a Steel Garrote, Darcozzi or Goldpact would have suited you better maybe?

For a solo run I think I would have tried Unbroken/Goldpact with Monastic uT and Tuotilo's Palm. Sworn Rival with Gilded Enmity is very cheap and it would stack with the Unbroken's +1 AR. +6 AR + Paladin's AR passives is awesome imo. 

With high RES, Ring of the Solitary Wanderer and Strand of Favor Sacred Immolation's self damage part becomes really short. I could get it down to two ticks often enough - which was no big deal. That makes Sacred Immolation much more useful imo but of course you have to pay for the high RES in other places.    

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All great points as always, thanks @Boeroer.

I think my love of Clear Out and desire to synergize with Sicken from Bleak Walker Eternal Flames obscured the AR synergy you mentioned. I was thinking that the key weakness of a Crusader is to not have enough offense vs. defense, which is where Bleak Walker Eternal Flames + Clear Out + High Defense + Offensive Parry could help. To be fair, I was also trying to solve for the PEN issue on PotD Upscaled by choosing Devoted as Fighter subclass.

Anyway on the high RES vs. Sacred Immolation, I feel silly not to have thought about it (although my RES is already actually quite high). But is the enemy damage duration separate from the self damage duration? I.e. can I do more damage to the enemy and less damage to myself with higher RES? It wasn't obvious from the testing I've done. In which case the core issue of Sacred Immolation remains: the damage per tick on self vs. enemy doesn't make sense.

EDIT; BTW I did use Monastic Unarmed Training and Tuotilo's in early levels indeed ;) which of course also benefit from your Devotion.

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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29 minutes ago, Not So Clever Hound said:

But is the enemy damage duration separate from the self damage duration?

Yes. Unlike Berserker Frenzy (or Del. Alacrity) Sacred Immolation produces a separate "hostile effect" entry which manages the self damage. This gets shortened by RES (and similar stuff) while the benefical burn damage part is left untouched.

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Thanks, I could potentially have gone for a Forbidden Fist /Steel Garrote type of template in terms of stats. But again, my RES is not ridiculuous either (RES = 20). But at the same time then it would also warrant potentially selecting Hands of Light as an upgrade to Lay On Hands, for the extra RES buff, then fire up Sacred Immolation...

17 Facepalm ideas | bones funny, hilarious, humor

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On 5/27/2021 at 8:38 PM, Boeroer said:

For a solo run I think I would have tried Unbroken/Goldpact with Monastic uT and Tuotilo's Palm. Sworn Rival with Gilded Enmity is very cheap and it would stack with the Unbroken's +1 AR. +6 AR + Paladin's AR passives is awesome imo.

@Boeroer one thing that I thought about just now in favor of your AR-focused build proposal is @Elric Galad's finding about Stoic Steel below. So not only could you begin the fight with +6AR, but actually much more... and potentially use your leap/cancel trick with bounding boots to go around the battlefield never losing your insane armor... To be tested (maybe by me at some point but not now :)). The core issue remains that it takes forever with a Solo Crusader to kill stuff, but you can do it in the relative safety of having 20+ AR. Like some kind of Death Turtle.

2) Stoic Steel can charge up before battle

So if you start battle after 18s of immobility, you start with +3AR. I've never been aware of it before today.

This makes Stealth interesting for Paladins ^^

Additional tip : some of the "teleporting" abilities such as escape don't cancel Stoic Steel. I haven't test all of them.

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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I did some testing with the console and such a MuT-Tuotilo's Palm Unbroken/Goldpact (max RES, Ring of Solitary Wanderer, Patinated Plate, Blunting Belt, Dragon Pendant and so on) and it's rel. easy to stay at 20+ AR for most of the fight (in this case Sworn Enemy and not Brand Enemy). The dmg output isn't too bad actually. I opted for Guarding Stance bc. of the damage reduction (stacks with the one from underpenetration) and added the Death's Maw as helmet to stack even more dmg reduction eventually.

I did not use Pale Elf but I guess that could be nice to complement the AR coverage without having to juggle items around too much.

Everything I threw at him was no problem. DMG output wasn't that bad actually. Two Weapon Style + Armored Grace + Abraham made Patinated Plate bearable. Against foes with mostly crush dmg I would switch to Nomad's Brigandine or Magnera's Chain + Ngati's Girdle or something I guess. 

Leap does not end Stoic Steel. I think none of those mobility abilities does. Everthing that lets you move with The Wall will also not end Stoic Steel (I didn't use the Wall in this case of course).

Speaking of The Wall: I would like to try a verision with Bronlar's Phalanx and the Gladiator's Sword. I will be a lot slower offensively and better defensively - but maybe I can then get away with an optically more fitting, lighter armor. I like the vibe of those items a lot. :) 

Edited by Boeroer
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1 hour ago, Boeroer said:

Ouf... it becomes really tedious with this one once you face enemies who can heal each other without limit (e.g. Rathun Fanatics). Battle Unending indeed.

Looking good, Boeroer :) thanks for testing and sharing!

I can imagine that those fights get tedious... maybe then switch to an axe with the modal on and focus on one enemy at a time, eventually the stacking DoTs will do the trick? Not Magran's Favor obviously in this case :). Or maybe something like Grave Calling with the Paralyze? Or try to trigger Scordeo's Edge Blade Cascade to finish each enemy? In any case, tedium involved.

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1 hour ago, Not So Clever Hound said:

Looking good, Boeroer :) thanks for testing and sharing!

I can imagine that those fights get tedious... maybe then switch to an axe with the modal on and focus on one enemy at a time, eventually the stacking DoTs will do the trick? Not Magran's Favor obviously in this case :). Or maybe something like Grave Calling with the Paralyze? Or try to trigger Scordeo's Edge Blade Cascade to finish each enemy? In any case, tedium involved.

 

3 hours ago, Boeroer said:

Ouf... it becomes really tedious with this one once you face enemies who can heal each other without limit (e.g. Rathun Fanatics). Battle Unending indeed. 😄

Bleeding Cut just melts rathuns, it doesn't even matter what kind of char you play or if you have Scordeos, heals just get negated and it's not even close.

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Yes, with a different weapon setup it will be no problem I think. A simple non-unique battle axe would have been enough. But I wanted to do the Bronlar's Phalanx + Gladiator's Sword setup because of the looks and throw different enemies at it. It's not bad at all (one use of Gilded Enmity lasted for over 15 minutes because I got barely hit - and when I was hit it was 2 dmg or something, haha) - it's just not good enough offensively when soloing healing enemies. 

  

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On 5/30/2021 at 10:20 AM, Not So Clever Hound said:

@Boeroer one thing that I thought about just now in favor of your AR-focused build proposal is @Elric Galad's finding about Stoic Steel below.

This is very interesting, Not So Clever Hound. Where does Elric Galad discuss this? Is the idea that you sneak near the enemies, stand still, waiting for them to see you so that the battle begins without further movement on your part?

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2 hours ago, dgray62 said:

Where does Elric Galad discuss this? Is the idea that you sneak near the enemies, stand still, waiting for them to see you so that the battle begins without further movement on your part?

Hi @dgray62, you can find it in this thread below. Yep it is the idea indeed. Once you've built enough AR in stealth, you just unstealth to start the fight.

 

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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It's funny that this works out of combat while you are in stealth mode - but not when you're standing still without stealth (out of combat). Anyway: it works and is a great way to start the fight with a lot of AR for the initial onslaught your character will face once combat starts. Also great for party tanks who reveal themselves first. 

Edited by Boeroer
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