Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 3)

Wreathed in walking bones.

I’ve always been fond of the idea of Raise Skeleton for this build. However, due to the limited quantity of skill points, it’s not possible to invest in Raise Skeleton without diluting everything else. Unless I substitute one skill for another. Which is why I decided to substitute Curse of Frailty for Raise Skeleton, as I would prefer to have more pets to distract enemies. So that I don’t get surrounded and consequently murdered. It offers some reasonably decent synergy with Blood of Dreeg, too. Not only does it provide a significant chunk of retaliation damage, but it helps to keep the skeletons alive.

Given that skeletons (as you would expect) are fragile.

Immediately investing in the Undead Legion modifier meant that I have six skeletons available. So, in total, that makes seven pets with the Blight Fiend. With that number Bonds of Bysmiel becomes more attractive. However, I’d need to substitute another skill to invest in Bonds of Bysmiel and it just isn’t worth it.

My pets have never really been designed to deal damage. They’re designed to draw attention away from me. Which they would do better with more health and higher damage, but the damage potential that I would lose with that investment is not worth them surviving a few seconds longer. Given that later difficulty levels will significantly reduce their survivability. Having the extra distractions does help, though. Especially when you consider that the higher levels of Raise Skeleton offer more powerful skeletons, which means I’ve got skeletons firing crossbows and spells at enemies. I suppose that I could consider whether Bonds of Bysmiel is worthwhile at a later date. I might be inclined to substitute something if I find that my pets are dying too frequently. Or I may just substitute Raise Skeleton for something else.

A corrosive cacophony of flesh and bones.

The warm sands of the Korvan Basin have been about as forgiving as I expected they’d be. It’s not necessarily difficult content, but it is very tightly scaling to my character level with some enemies being five levels higher than me. I’ve narrowly avoided death on a few occasions, too. I’m not sure if this is indicative of what I should expect in Act 2, or if Act 2 will be slightly easier as it may not scale to my level. I’m not really sure what does and doesn’t scale to your level these days. That said, I’ve had a lot of fun with the content and I suppose that this confirms it can be done with a freshly built character.

Not that I’m likely to proceed out of sequence again.

I didn’t really consider that the rewards for the factions in the Forgotten Gods would be useless to me. For the time being at least. As they all require you to be Lvl 65-90, which wasn’t a concern for my (higher level) Warder but isn’t really benefiting my (lower level) Cabalist. I’ll be back to purchase them later on, though.

That said, proceeding out of sequence did highlight the surprisingly complex nature of dialogue in Grim Dawn. There are several interactions which are altered (or entirely absent), as this character has not yet met those factions and has no relationship with them in any way. In particular there was a group of refugees which my Warder could threaten or kill due to his faction alignment. But my Cabalist doesn’t have anything to say to them because she doesn’t know them. Nor is she aligned with an opposing faction. It’s a small yet satisfying alteration, and makes sense as it could potentially sway your allegiance if this content presented factions in a certain way. Whereas the lack of an interaction means you’ll make the natural choice when the time comes. Which is how things should be.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 2)

The stench of rot and decay.

One of the few identifiable problems with this build is the heavy investment required in both Necromancer and Occultist Mastery. It’s a problem that quickly disappears, but does affect the first few levels as whether you specialise in Necromancer or Occultist you won’t have many offensive options. This is one of the reasons that Raise Skeleton was appealing. That said, I could have invested in Occultist first but I don’t believe that having Dreeg’s Evil Eye and Curse of Frailty earlier rather than later would’ve helped. Having the Blight Fiend to soak some of the incoming damage made more sense.

The investment also allowed access to Ravenous Earth.

Which, to be fair, doesn’t function as I would’ve expected it to, but it’s still a powerful addition to the offensive capabilities of the build. I’ve seen it melt bosses within seconds if they’re hit by multiple fragments. It’s also a great skill to use when surrounded, which is one of the first issues I’ve noticed with this build.

Obviously in Act 1 this isn’t really a concern. Enemies are less aggressive, use less potent skills, and are generally less threatening overall. But once I’ve progressed to either Act 2 or Act 7 (if I choose to proceed out of sequence) that will very quickly change. Blood of Dreeg and the restorative properties it offers does balance out the damage, but that’s not something I’m going to be able to rely on. Especially at lower skill levels when it only recovers 14-16% of my health. It does, however, keep the Blight Fiend alive quite competently. So that’s something. The health regeneration is probably the more attractive component of that skill, as the duration outlasts the cooldown and so it can be kept active almost indefinitely. Which basically means I’m always recovering a trickle of health.

Life ebbs akin to fading embers.

The damage output of the build is, as expected, excellent. The synergy between Curse of Frailty and either Dreeg’s Evil Eye or Ravenous Earth is potent. Not only are enemies slowed and generally weakened, but they suffer more damage from my various skills and even the Blight Fiend becomes more effective as a result. It does, however, rely on damage over time. Which means you’re waiting for enemies to expire. So it’s kind of burst-y. Enemies will fall in numbers once the overwhelming number of ailments finally claim them, but they have more potential to retaliate as they don’t immediately fall.

That said, Dreeg’s Evil Eye does provide some direct damage.

Damage which will undoubtedly become more potent as more modifiers are unlocked. It will eventually become an AoE of its own. Which, when combined with Ravenous Earth, and the weakening component of Curse of Frailty, should mean that this build will specialise in AoE damage either directly or over time.

I feel as though I’m making good progress through Act 1 at a somewhat accelerated pace. I’m not sure if this is due to balancing changes in one of the recent updates or just the proficiency of the build, but, as of writing this, it’s going quite well. I’m surprised at how effective the build is even if it does take some time to really start to function properly. I’ve been considering moving onto Act 7 next and seeing just how viable the Forgotten Gods content is for a new character. I’m not sure it’s advisable for a character that doesn’t really have any equipment or items to supplement them, but that’s the reason I’m doing it. Science. Or the insatiable desire to do things I know I probably shouldn’t be doing in video games. It’s a twenty year habit that I’m not about to break. Not now and likely not ever.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 1)

You’ve got to serve somebody.

The recent excursion to the Korvan Basin in the Forgotten Gods expansion pack reminded me of how much I dearly love Grim Dawn. Despite playing my Warder (Shaman/Soldier) who is not only the first character I’d ever finished the campaign with, and has since been subject to countless changes as a result of numerous updates, it was still an exhilarating and satisfying chunk of content. That particular character is in dire need of being tweaked, though. Which is why it’s unlikely he will ever finish Elite (or even start Ultimate) difficulty. Too many things have changed and it’s simply easier to start again.

Which is (and isn’t) the purpose of this post.

I’ve wanted to experience Grim Dawn again for some time, but the idea of documenting this process was inspired by my recent series of posts regarding the original Diablo. The character mentioned herein is not a replacement for my Warder, either. But instead a fresh perspective that draws on previous experience.

For this character I wanted to do something that didn’t rely on close quarters combat. I’ve not really built many Occultists, Arcanists, Necromancers, or Demolitionists and the only Shaman I’ve built was focused on two-handed weapons. I’ve been fond of the Necromancer since the Ashes of Malmouth expansion pack, but I’ve only ever started a Death Knight (Necromancer/Soldier) build which didn’t finish Act 1. After fiddling with several Masteries I finally settled on the Cabalist (Occultist/Necromancer) with a build focusing on poison and acid damage. I’m unsure as to whether I should invest heavily in pets or not, though. I’ve already got Summon Blight Fiend but have been thinking about Raise Skeleton. However, I did prioritise Blood of Dreeg over Raise Skeleton for it’s regenerative properties.

Huddled amongst the remnants of humanity.

On the other hand, due to the acid retaliation damage of Blood of Dreeg, it’s actually suited to having more allies to buff rather than less. So having Raise Skeleton would provide more acid retaliation damage overall. I’ve also been looking at Curse of Frailty, which, with it’s Vulnerability modifier, reduces enemy resistance to acid and poison damage. This is more or less occupying the same idea as Blood of Dreeg. As the Aspect of the Guardian modifier increases poison and acid damage. Together they do an exceptional amount of damage, individually they function more or less the same immunities permitting.

As Vulnerability could break immunities if such a thing is possible.

If we were to ignore that possibility then both Blood of Dreeg and Curse of Frailty will boost acid and poison damage. Which means I could easily substitute either for Raise Skeleton. But I’m more likely to substitute Curse of Frailty as Blood of Dreeg allows me to heal my pets and myself, while accelerating their health regeneration.

Having too many pets would make Bonds of Bysmiel an alluring prospect, though. Not that I’ve ever wanted to have dozens of pets. At least not in Grim Dawn. I’d never decline a box full of kittens. But having to make these decisions (and these decisions having consequences) is why I dearly love Grim Dawn, as, unlike many modern RPGs, building a character is not a hollow and unsatisfying experience. Every character is unique. For the best or worst reasons. I’m interested in seeing how this character develops, too. When looking at raw statistics many things seem to be viable, but in the harsh light of day there are tweaks that need to be made. Even learning about the character can be a satisfying experience as you quickly learn what you can do, what you can’t, and what you’re better off leaving alone.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

From the Ashes

Greenish tints are common in post-apocalyptic wastelands.

Devil’s Crossing has seen better days. Mostly the ones where they’re not under siege from a fallen city overflowing with horrific monstrosities. But, seeing as they are under siege, and their militia is more or less useless, you’re going to be busy for a few days. Or weeks. Assuming you aren’t immediately swallowed up by the void. Ashes of Malmouth is the utterly fantastic continuation of Grim Dawn, which features both new Masteries and new story content (alongside a heapin’ helpin’ of new items legendary and otherwise).

It’s a good ol’ fashioned expansion.

The two new Masteries alone are worth the price of admission, as they can either be used on their own or with any of the other Masteries which opens up myriad possibilities. I’ve been trying the Death Knight (Necromancer/Soldier) and the combination of summoning with close combat is pretty fantastic. Having a menagerie of unholy beasts and skeletons is pretty neat.

That said, the new story content is excellently introduced through a series of breadcrumb quests which take you back to Burrwitch and then to heart of the void. From there you journey to Malmouth and (quite literally) fight your way to the heart of the city. Gaining ground and losing it in equal measure as you push forwards. It’s a surprisingly extensive journey which will introduce you to new factions nestled deep in marshes and crumbling cities, and will require you to make choices, as your actions will dictate who will welcome you and who won’t, and those interactions will help you understand the true nature of these factions. As expected from Grim Dawn there is a wealth of choice and consequence that’ll keep you busy for hours to come.

Crown Hill definitely has an infestation problem.

I’ve had a few pangs of nostalgia while playing through this expansion, too. It gives me similar feelings to those I had when I first experienced Diablo II Lord of Destruction, wherein the snowy plains of Act V kept me company while I adjusted to the innumerable challenges that lay ahead. I’m also quite excited to see how the Death Knight develops. I’ve mostly experienced Ashes of Malmouth with my Warder (Shaman/Soldier), which, besides being my first character, doesn’t have a particularly strong or effective build.

It has great burst potential but terrible survivability.

However, despite the build drawbacks, I’ve greatly enjoyed all that I’ve experienced so far. I’ve still got to find those new dungeons, too. I would say that I’ve seen the majority of what this expansion has to offer, but I know that isn’t true as it is so incredibly content dense. I’ve definitely missed quests and NPCs along the way. Not to mention the results of different choices.

It’s an incredibly easy recommendation to make if you love ARPGs. Grim Dawn is an expertly crafted and beautifully complex yet intuitive and easy to learn ARPG, which only becomes better (in every way) with this expansion. That and you can raise skeletons. All the cool kids are doing that. I’m not really sure what the Inquisitor does- but I’m sure that’s neat as well. I’m quite excited to see what’s coming next for Grim Dawn, but, until then, I’ve got to roam the fields of Wightmire with my Death Knight. She’s due to loot something really cool any day now. Or maybe I’ll try to make sense of the Devotion screen and pick something out for her. I don’t really open that screen much. It’s big and confusing.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Priests of Rathma

Call forth the spirits of the fallen.

Diablo III has seen two rather significant and quite exciting changes recently. The first of those is patch 2.6.0 which introduces six new areas (along with new bounties), hordes of new enemies, various quality of life tweaks, and Challenge Rifts. I’m most intrigued by the concept of Challenge Rifts. They’re presented as something different to both the Campaign and Adventure Mode, in which you use a specific build (based on another player) to complete a weekly static dungeon. The aim is to complete the dungeon faster than the original player.

It does make me wonder if they’ll include gimmicky builds, too.

Those could be interesting (and challenging) in their own way. Rather than just trying to figure out how to do the best with what you’ve got, you’d have to figure out what the gimmick is and how you actually use it. On the other hand, these gimmicky builds could also be ridiculously frustrating if their particular gimmick isn’t enjoyable or particularly viable.

The second of these changes is the introduction of the Necromancer. The class that everyone was secretly hoping would be carried over from Diablo II (like the Barbarian), but never made it into the original or expansion release. Though many felt that the Witch Doctor was basically a different kind of Necromancer. To access the new class you’ll need to purchase the Rise of the Necromancer pack which includes the class, two character slots, two stash tabs, and various cosmetic rewards. The Necromancer is fully voiced throughout the Campaign with new class specific items, new Legendary and Set items, an extensive set of skills, and the ability to raise legions of the dead. It’s also awesome. Definitely one of the best classes Diablo III has.

As an almost exclusive summoner they have the capability to summon a literal army, while making use of Revive as and when corpses are available to further bolster their ranks, or turning those corpses against their foes in an explosive cacophony of blood. As a warrior they’re able to bolster their defences with Bone Armor and regenerate health through Curses. Or, if you prefer, they can make use of an arsenal of spells such as Bone Spear and Bone Spirit to face foes from afar. They can even sacrifice portions of their health to deal more damage.

Flexibility is built into everything they do.

I’ve always been fond of Poison Dagger Necromancers in Diablo II and I had hoped there would be a similarly viable build here. Not only is it viable, but it’s incredibly enjoyable and requires an amount of concentration to make best use of. Mostly due to the unique mechanics of Bone Armor. But I was pleasantly surprised that the option was available and is actually useful.

I find myself arguing between Corpse Explosion and Revive on my first Necromancer. I could have a constant stream of newly resurrected minions with Revive, or I could have explosive corpses with Corpse Explosion. Explosive. Corpses. That don’t even cost anything to explode due to their finite nature. In fact, I love Corpse Explosion so much that both of my Necromancers use it. I’ll admit that I might have a problem. Maybe. I’m particularly thrilled with this class content pack, too. Entirely worth the price of admission. Which hasn’t always been something I’ve been able to say about Diablo III, but I’m hopeful for the future with the many content patches we’ve seen and the excellent quality present in this class a whole.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Guild Wars 2: Tyrian Travels (Pt. 7)

I wonder how much ectoplasm (in weight) it takes to make up one Glob of Ectoplasm.

I’m thinking that it’d take quite a bit. Then again, they do seem somewhat plentiful and they seem to be in all manner of things- so maybe not so much. Maybe they don’t conform to the same definitions of weight we would use in the physical realms. Maybe they do. Maybe I’m thinking too hard about this and should just indulge in their purple-y goodness.

Crafting is something that continues ever onwards for the patrons and contributors of the Bovine Appreciation Association. For those unaware, as I haven’t exactly referred to it by name before, that’s the name of my guild. One of my guilds (another personal guild) in Guild Wars was named after my love of cats, so, it felt only right that this one should be related to cows, as another cat related guild would have been too simple to do. These are the kinds of decisions that I never want to make, though. Just in case I don’t like the end result.

However, the only thing I wish different for this guild is an actual cow emblem. But that’s a minor detail.

Chef is still the most successful discipline and just shy of 400, now. While the Weaponsmith and Jeweler both edged over 300. With the Tailor, Armorsmith, Leatherworker, and Huntsman all trailing just shy of 200. Three of the latter four are trailing due to Cotton Scraps, which, like Jute Scraps before them, are proving to be quite elusive. Huntsman is trailing due to a lack of Seasoned Wood Logs which is mostly due to me not being in those zones recently. That said, I’ve got a good number of characters who can go out to collect those materials while levelling soon. So I don’t really worry too much about Huntsman as it requires two things that are abundantly available.

Once the majority edge past 400 (apart from Chef and Jeweler who stop there) I’ll be happy with the crafting. The last points seem to be mostly related to either exotic or ascended gear, while new materials are not usually used, and those that are are parts of the crafting discipline itself, so we’ll have covered the bulk of the work by then.

The Mesmer, Kairn, recently passed Lvl 70 and is now working towards varied objectives in some of the highest level zones available.

He also went through five chapters of his personal story (in a chunk) which net him nearly six levels. This was an unexpected experience gain on his part and it changes the way I’ll approach the personal story with the others. I’ll probably start their personal story around Lvl 40-45. Get them some experience, items, and a bit of help along the levelling process. However, it was a happy unexpected occurrence. Unlike falling down that chasm in Mount Maelstrom, which, while it didn’t kill me, brought several elementals out to play. (Which also didn’t kill me.)

We’ve also welcomed the last of the characters (the Necromancer) into the fold recently. While I originally hoped for him to be a minion master I wasn’t too impressed with the minions, or their abilities, and so he’s testing out a close range AoE build. Inflicting several conditions but also hitting like a freight train at the same time.

Finally, regarding the above recording, I figured it would be more effective (and a little more explanatory) than another screenshot. Recorded it Saturday afternoon so it’s not fully up to date (like Kairn being pre-Lvl 70) but still relevant.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie