[Guide] The Bladeflinger Magician
Auspicious greetings, traveler!
After being a silent reader in this forum for quite some time, I thought I might as well start big and post a guide to a class that seems to be a little underappreciated: the Magician.
The reason for me to choose this combination was simply wanting to try a character who uses Rogue's Throwing Knives as a main attack. My first TQ-toon ever was an Assassin and I instantly fell in love with the skill. But to have any viability at all, the build would have to offer some different and of course "scalable" damage type apart from those provided by the Rogue mastery, and the choice boiled down to Sorceror or Magician, of which I chose the latter for reasons mostly concerned with finding the right gear to synergize with the main damage type and because I always nurture a soft spot for the underdog
First, let me lay down some "warnings" about this build:
- It surely isn't the highest damage build out there.
- The term "glass cannon" might have been coined by this build.
- It is heavily gear dependent but that shouldn't be too much of a problem, considering you have the Vault at your disposal. So, luckily, it is not like those infamous Diablo II builds which require you farming on the BattleNet for five years straight to acquire the necessary items.
- The build does not develop it's full potential before level 45 and you may encounter some problems at boss fights prior to that.
Those are the major drawbacks and with them being out of the way, let's have a look at the advantages:
- Great crowd control, I actually made this toon especially for playing with the Xmax-Mod
- You'll be a mad knive-spraying machine!
- Straightforward gameplay, using roughly just two active skills.
- Energy problems? What's that?
- An Earth mastery caster build that doesn't need the Core Dweller (I'm not big on pets...)
So, done with the prelude, let's get to the guide:
I'll start with the items you should use and believe me, it's mostly quite mandatory, not much wriggle room in this department.
Your gear has to provide three things, primarily:
- as much -%recharge, as possible
- adding fire damage to your knives
- get +4 at least to the Rogue skills to maximize the number of knives per flurry up to 9
So, according to those needs, your final setup should be:
Head: Hesione's Golden Veil
This "helmet" gives us everything we want: increased fire damage, -15% recharge, energy, health, resistances...
(side note: just for this I recommend playing as female, you'll look ridiculous, otherwise)
Again, the selling point here is the -15% recharge, but the pierce resistance, procentual increase in INT and health and the double regeneration are nothing to be sneezed at, also. Additionally, it looks awesome, at least in my opinion.
If you feel like it, you may switch to Plouton's Cornucopia at level 47 and basically trade off -10% recharge for +1 skills, which would open more Artifact choices (as seen below), just do as you prefer.
Weapon: Well, this is a caster build, so you'll be using a staff, namely the Heka Staff
This one is perfect, it deals decent base fire damage, has about -20% recharge, lowers energy cost and gives +50% increase in projectile speed, which applies to your knives.
Arms: Archmage's Clasp
Now, that really is a no-brainer: massive -% recharge, increased casting and attack speed and a chance to lower resistances (and as is already well known, %chances virtually skyrocket on knives) - what's not to like?
Legs: Demonskin Walkers
Great defense, +skills and increased elemental damage. 'Nuff said.
Neck: Aphrodite's Favor
You'll need the resistances and the +2 skills are crucial. Furthermore, 899 additional health go a long way. The only downside here is the 18% chance of mind control. It may look like a nice perk, but all it really does at the end of the day is to slow you down since you can't hit controlled enemies and have to wait for the effect to wear off. And with knives, it proccs ALL. THE. TIME.
Fingers: When it comes to rings, there are simply two choices: Archimede's Cogwheel and Seal of Hephaestus.
The Cogwheel adds flat tri-elemental damage to your knives that in the case of the fire part gets heavily augmented by your other gear and Earth Enchantment. On the other hand (no pun intended), the Seal basically doubles the burn damage provided by Brimstone and has a guaranteed +60% fire damage instead of Cogwheel's 33% chance of +33% fire damage. So the question which should be used is a bit iffy and to answer it precisely would involve some serious maths which I'm neither capable of, nor willing to do. Since the Seal becomes available 5 levels earlier, you can gather your own experience with "double-Seal" and compare the performance of different setups when you hit level 45. I prefer to mix them.
Artifact: There are basically two-and-a-half choices of which artifact to use.
The first two assume that you wear Cestus, so in order to obtain the maximum number of knives you have to get something with at least +1 to Rogue skills. So it boils down to either Crimson Viper which does exactly that, adds some physical damage, increases your poison and pierce damage, gives some poison resistance, has a nice procc-skill and can provide you with +80% health regeneration as a completion bonus. If you want +1 to all skills, you have to go for Glorybringer, but that doesn't give you anything much interesting apart from that, though the reduced damage from undead/demons is OK and it helps you level a bit faster. Also, pierce resistance as a completion bonus is worth a look.
If you went for Plouton's Cornucopia instead of Cestus, you already have all skills +4, so you can go for the Eye of Ra to further boost your fire damage. Only, it requires level 55, so Heart of the Earth is a possible pick to traverse the 8-level-gap in between.
Alright, but what about the gear I'll be wearing before I hit the late 40s, you might ask?
Head: I went with Oracle's Wreath (lvl 9) for quite some time and then switched to a neanderthal shaman's antlers with -% recharge and +skills until level 42.
Chest: My personal choices were Ephor's Garb(lvl 6), Yuya's Garb(lvl 20), Occultist's Raiment(lvl 29), Robes of Calchas(lvl 33), Ymochel's Riddlerobe(lvl 37).
Weapon: I used a Staff of the Magi for the fire damage and -% recharge with Prometheus' Flame on it. I was lucky enough to have stumbled upon one that also dealt some poison damage. When i reached level 35 I switched to Qa'a until Heka Staff became available.
Arms: Glowing Bangle (lvl 6) was a long term friend, later Bracelets of Illumination(lvl 31) proved useful, as did Dragon's Breath on levels 37 to 40.
Legs: Not much to tell here, up until level 31 just take what's your fancy, then I suggest Loratian Greaves for the +skills, though I replaced them with Leggings of the Defiled at level 42 for some additional protection.
Neck: Early on, Paean (lvl 9) is a good start, after that, Shard of the Elements (lvl 25) and later Eye of Flame (lvl 36) are obvious choices, though you might rather have a Divine charm/necklace/beads/medaillon... to boost your skills, that's up to you.
Fingers: Now, that's so easy, it might even be boring - double-Brimstone or nothing. Yep, you'll be using the same old rings from level 10 to 40.
Artifact: Almost as exciting, as the rings, you want to grab Molten Orb at level 5 and basically keep it until Dragontongue is available on level 35, though since mid-normal can be quite tough on this build and you'll be using your staff more often, Soul Shiver is worth a try on level 20 for the AdctH.
OK, enough with the gear talk and on to skills and levelling:
Pick Rogue as your first mastery, get Envenom Weapon and Throwing Knife and then max the mastery as fast as possible to get to Flurry, cause that's what it's all about, eventually. On your way there, also drop the odd point into Nightshade and of course Mandrake, since your crowd control heavily depends on the knives' high chance to procc confusion.
Though climbing up the Rogue tree is our priority, nevertheless don't skip picking Earth on level 8 and put some points in it. Not only because you want some more energy and INT, but because you want earth Enchantment/Brimstone (Stone Skin is not worth the hassle), which are useful even with a single point each that early in the game, and Heat Shield. For survivability reasons I even delayed getting Flurry a bit further to reach Earth level 10 and grab Stone Form - saved my buttocks on many occasions.
Since a single knife is not that useful, you will be attacking with your staff mostly, which is the phase during which most people might get bored with this build, but don't - it will be worth your while when you get there, believe me. Some may be tempted to dabble a bit in Volcanic Orb, but you won't have the energy pool required for that, since Rogue regrettably offers no points there. If you really feel like using another skill on your way to Flurry, you might invest some points into traps instead of the mastery itself, keep count of the spent points and then buy them back to push the mastery to 32 all at once. But i wouldn't really recommend that - partly because I even like traps less than pets.
Once the Rogue mastery is maxed, all points go into Flurry, which fortunately only takes 6 of them. At this point, Throwing Knife at last is more than a gimmick you use every now and then just to do something else. Instead, you will fling a cone of hurt towards your enemies with best wishes and pierce, bleeding, slowing and confusing poison, fire and burn damage all in a neat, fast traveling bunch of packages, hitting everything in it's way. Don't you get a warm, fuzzy feeling in your stomach just by reading it?
OK, so now that Flurry is on the go, you should build up the other skills, right? Wrong. Next on the agenda is climbing Earth mastery, sorry. The reasons are simple: you want Eruption and Volativity. The first, because it will be your best friend against bosses, who are sadly immune to the irritating charms of your Mandrake, and the second because a 33% chance of increased fire damage is a friggin' certainty with all those knives, each possibly hitting multiple enemies. And since the flat fire damage your knives carry is nothing to write home about even with high-end gear (I'll admit that much) you need all the increase you can get.
Nevertheless, or rather even because of that, one or two points in Volativity will suffice for now, rather pump Mandrake and Nightshade. Eruption, being vamped by gear and passives also does not require too many points to still kick ass at this time. Sure, it is tempting to crank it up, but you are playing a bladeflinger, remember?
Besides that, increasing your DoTs is a good idea, especially when still being knee-deep in normal difficulty. You won't be able to throw knives too frequently before level 40 when you get your Archmage's on, and this is the way to make every single one of them count the most between casts.
Obviously, that means Brimstone first, since it goes along well with your gear, burn damage profits from INT and it works on the undead and constructs who can't bleed or be poisoned.
Don't get me wrong, I won't claim bleeding and poison to be pointless, far from it. I say, get a few points in Anatomy as long as it makes a difference and a fully developed Venom tree is a force to be reckoned with, even later on.
Don't forget that after you hit the enemies with your knives, they will be slowed significantly and a lot of them will be stumbling away from you anyway, due to the confusion, so any conceivable DoT can go a long way here.
I also advise you to sink at least one point into each damage-enhancing "passive" before pumping a specific one, to get the most out of your +skills as soon as possible.
After that, just slowly put more points into all the skills you use, there is really no rush to max any of them. Eventually, max out the Venom tree, Volativity, Eruption and even Anatomy - it may not be much and it's just bleeding, but it's damage.
Once you are there, you can do whatever you like with any further points - maybe get some Ring of Flames as a cherry on top or increase Heat Shield so it lasts longer, or, if you just cannot resist, get yourself a pet, why would I care? It won't help you that much, anyway.
And that's already it, skillwise - plain and simple.
Attribute point investment is as basic, as it comes: just INT. Your masteries alone will provide you with a total base dexterity of 178, which is already 4 more than you need for your equipment (174 on Demonskin Walkers being the highest requirement). So every point can be used to bolster your burn and fire damage. Maybe you might consider putting some points into health, but that shouldn't be necessary. One Seal of Hephaestus and Aphrodite's Favor alone add 1149 points of health and Cestus increases the lot by another 10%.
Gameplay is equally straightforward. As I mentioned earlier, you will be using a mere two skills in combat, not counting the odd Stone Form, which you won't be using very often after level 45 anyway.
The main thing that you do is SPAMMING knives all over the place.
With all the -% recharge on your gear, which will get you up to around -95% (my Archmage's Clasps provide 46% alone), the casting and recharge time are basically the same which amounts to practically instantaneous refresh and you can just hold down your right mouse button, dishing out knives like a crazed Charged Boltress in Diablo II. And since Throwing Knives are darn cheap, you could keep this up for minutes without ever worrying about your energy pool. So you don't have to be picky, don't wait for more enemies to appear or kiting them in a tighter pack to take more advantage of your Flurry. As soon, as you see or even suspect a monster to be there, just point in the general direction and hold down the right button, your knives, sped up further by Heka Staff, will travel off screen for a decent range and oftentimes on your way you will encounter the corpses of monsters of whose existence you have never even been aware. Unfortunately, "untargetted" knives tend to develop a nasty habit of flying straight into the ground if there is a slope in front of you. So it is safer to click on an enemy, since then the angle is adjusted to enable you throwing them "uphill". But as long as you are on fairly level grounds, feel free to hold that button down (also using shift if you like), wave the cursor around and just go nuts.
Of course, before you get to level 42 which completes your recharge gear with Hesione's Golden Veil, you will do quite some kiting and using your staff or Eruption, when push comes to shove. Eruption at your feet plus Stone Form is likely to be a quite popular tactic in mid-to-end normal.
That brings us right to Eruption's main role in this build: boss battles. Bosses tend to laugh at Throwing Knives, so here Eruption comes in. I won't say it's a substitute, because it quite frankly is pretty awesome, it just is not the main focus of the build and as such it is "merely" a backup skill for boss fights. And a darn good one, since with full recharge gear you can SPAM Eruption and thanks to the increased casting speed you don't have to stop too long to place it at the feet of the boss monster, before legging it to evade it's attacks. Also, it can be a nice touch to cast a couple of Eruptions halfway between you and a big host of monsters, fling some blades at them to lure the lot through the field of fiery doom and clean up the remains once the dust has settled.
Sure, in your pre-fourties, some bosses have the potential to send you up to your room crying, no pudding and no TV, especially when they are multiplied by the Xmax-Mod. So on normal difficulty, you seriously should refrain from wrestling the following bosses with the mod active:
Geez, are you crazy? You just have a slow-firing staff and a single knife every few seconds and now there are multiple healers among them, I mean, seriously - what were you thinking?
The Giant Scarab
Believe me, you don't want to be slowed and poisoned at all, least of all by more than one of this bugger at once.
He is also pretty tough when being alone and you won't have Eruption at this point, which could make it more manageable. I did succeed to kill a triplet of him, eventually - but I died about 12 times in the process - not worth it.
You might have considerable offensive power by now, but your poison resistance STINKS. So prepare to hate the whole freaking Tower of frigging Judgement for being packed with those nasty flying, poison bomb hurling squid anyway.
I have yet to encounter the Manticore, who might be another jawbreaker and I shudder to think what might happen when I dare face the Hydra, but up until then, this is the most fun I've had with any toon this far - and there have been a lot over all those years.
Alright, so that's it - I appreciate the probably single person who bothered to read all those lengthy ramblings, even if it was just to make fun of me and tell me how wrong I am, afterwards.
But hey, there aren't that many Magician-Guides out there, so it was worth a shot
Last edited by Fozzie; 02-21-2011 at 05:55 AM.
Magician... isn't a great class Its not your fault, IMHO Earth is a pretty weak Mastery and woiuld be rubbish if it weren't for VO+Frag and Eruption abuse and in the case of Conjurers spamming Ternion to get around Earth's big issue (its only flat damagetype is multiplier-biased and gives weak base damage to work with outside staves). Earth isn't very well synergised outside Spirit and gives little benefit to other Masteries, especially Rogue Is it me or does it feel like Earth was the first Mastery IL designed? It synergises badly, has many weird values and mechanics, and a distinct lack of shiny toys
Magician is a sub-par Knifethrower at best, and even then you need two Searing/Molten/Volcanic rings to get at least some base Fire damage on the Knives as Earth doesn't contribute much Fire to them at all (5-8 base Fire damage from EE, compared to ~70 for a pair of Volcanic Rings). Using unique jewellery prevents you from socketing MKTs which give a wide range of benefits, not least -resistance on the Knives to help maximize damage output and crowd control.
The two main knifethrowers are the Knife Sorceror and Knife Brigand. Both can find lots of off-hand damage to add to the knives (Cold/Lightning for the former, Pierce/Bleed for the latter) unlike the Magician, whose main source of Fire is either a mage staff or spells. They lack good off-hand Fire equips, and without that base Fire damage you have nothing to use all that +%Fire and Int to actually leverage! Its what discourages people from trying to build Int-Melee Juggernauts - not enough off-hand flat Fire to boost shield damage. And while Storm gets two flat damage types to play with, Earth gets one flat (Fire) and one DoT (Burn). DoTs cannot stack, so multiple knife hits can't boost all that potential Burn damage flying around from Brimstone and the Volcanic rings.
Storm can add Bitter/Glacial/Arctic rings, several decent Artifacts with base Cold/Lightning damage, Hunter's/Tracker's Hood and has a buff that actually gives all weapon attacks (including Knives) bonus Cold/Lightning damage. It also has a powerful and damaging nuke that seriously debuffs mobs. Hunting has Monster Lure to draw the fire instead and Blood Gem and Set's Betrayals with the Pierce Damage completion bonii to stack the base Pierce damage silly-high on equips, Study Prey as a strong damage multiplier, and several silly +%Pierce bonuses (perma-CotH, AotH, Flurry's built-in buff, and two Apollo's Wills for tons of +%Pierce and +%Projectile Speed) to achieve mega-damage.
Believe me, I'm well aware of all that. I just wanted to give the Magician some love, that's why I chose her over a sorceress, as I stated just at the beginning of my post. I don't claim her to be the ultimate knifer, just wanted to show that it is playable and can be loads of fun, as well. Besides, you'd need 394 DEX for a Tracker's and I wanted at least to try capitalizing on the INT/burn damage increase rate as much as possible. I don't know, I might try a knife-sorc next. Damn, why is that game so addictive...?
Assassins can also be pretty powerful knife throwers.
As an alternative for those obsessed with Xmax you can start with Earth then and go for 1 point EE-line and 1 point Eruption ASAP. A fire staff in the hands of an Earth caster with EE will hit like a nuke. Nice guide, but you might wanna include easily obtainable gear as much as possible. As of this writing, for example, I have found only a single pair of Demonic Walkers. I have around 12 level 60+ characters. Then again, maybe I'm just unlucky.
Earth is unique because it specializes in dealing both Fire and Physical damage - it sacrifices debuffs for a damage type that very few monsters have any resistance against. This is both a blessing and a curse.
Last edited by Tyr; 02-20-2011 at 05:22 AM.
You're not. I got my Brig to level 75 largely through Legendary Secret Passage runs, and my Harb to level 71 largely through Legendary Hades runs. I also only have one pair of Demonskin Walkers.
Originally Posted by Tyr
I've found Earth to be a powerful mastery. Five of my eight Earth toons (one of every type of Earth build) are still going hardcore, with four of them in Legendary and the fifth (Battlemage) in Act IV Epic.
Earth might not get as many flat damage bonuses or offensive options as Storm. But it gets Core Dweller. As good as the Wisp is offensively, Cory is unbeatable defensively. All of my Storm & X builds have progressed slower, taken more damage and/or died more often than my equivalent Earth & X builds. I have to play quite carefully with my Druids, Oracle and Prophet, I can play recklessly with my Summoner, Conjurer and Evoker. My Battlemage stomped Epic Typhon in about five seconds without taking any damage. Thane - not so quick and easy.
Take the Yaoguai fight for example. Who would you rather have tanking for you - Wisp who dies instantly the first time the bull casts his Fire Stomp, or Cory who is completely immune to it? Much the same applies to Manti, Talos, Dragon Liche, Hydra, etc. The CD is a massive defensive luxury for any type of toon.
The only exception, curiously, is in archers. My Sage has died less than my Avenger. I thought bow Avenger, with both a moving and a static Monster Lure (CD is the moving variant), would be one of the safest toons in the game. Yet its death total is my third highest behind Brig (who, in her defense, is at level 75 and has quite a few testing and "monster using unique weapon" screenie lag deaths) and Oracle (who, equally in her defense, was my first caster through Act IV Normal). Go figure. Another one of those cases where the theory doesn't quite work out in practice.
regardless of whether magician is a strong build, it is still a magician guide something that this forum, as far as I know, lacks. besides it's a challenge rather than the Conqueror or the oracle which after a while get boring.
I included the Core Dweller only as a "what to do with those skillpoints?"-option after the build is completed skillwise, because I simply don't like pets that much, especially when the build is not focussed on them, like Summoner or Conjurer, and even then I'm not a big fan. In all those years, I started only one petmancer and got bored with him somewhere during Act III normal.
But more importantly, the build really doesn't need him. I respecced some points into him the other day and tried it, but he didn't contribute that much to the team, other than running about, trying to catch up with those confused monsters in time before the DoT finished them off anyway.
Because a DoT that hurts non-living enemies (i.e. burn damage) is one edge, Earth has over Storm. Whether you like DoT or not, is really a matter of opinion, though - I do, for my part. With maxed-out Brimstone and double Seal of Hephaestus (if you choose to play it that way) you get near 400 base burn damage, and with this build you have loads of INT to augment it. Since most enemies will be confused or mind-controlled most of the time, DoT is really helpful.
And thanks, by the way. I'm glad, some people like the guide.
But I just noticed, I forgot one entry on the "Bad Guys-List", I'll edit it in...
Yeah but IIRC the cooldown on Iron Fist is something like 4 minutes