Demon Keypo's tips to balanced building. Sept 29, 2011 20:47:52 GMT -5
Post by KenpoJuJitsu3 on Sept 29, 2011 20:47:52 GMT -5
I've answered 3,000 emails in my 2 years here and they're all the same. Blah this and how do you build that! Just read on! And save yourself the pain of an excruciating faceplant.
OK, if you're reading this hopefully you've read a build or two I've posted and are interesting in picking up a few tips on how to build your own hero(es). Contained in this guide are my personal notes and thoughts on balanced concept character building. All of my characters are concept characters within a predefined theme. This means I don't just pick whatever is the most powerful thing I can when making a character. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Champions Online is a game first and as such there are certain mechanics in place. I mention this to say that if your theme is so limited as to make your character weak and no fun to play...loosen up a bit. Fun is paramount and fun to me is feeling powerful, heroic and capable...within theme.
While I have an eternity, I'd rather not waste it on mortals designing costumed heroes in fancy tights!
Step One - be the hero you want to be
Decide what kind of hero you want to make and figure out the stats you need to power them before you think of anything else buildwise. My basic considerations are as follows when designing a hero and figuring out stats.
1) With the Champions: On Alert update our heroes are now granted one primary superstat, two secondary superstats and a specialization tree. In the past it didn't matter in what order we picked our superstats. Now, since we get one specialization tree that is determined solely by our primary superstat, order matters. Familiarize yourself with the perks of the various specialization trees and pick the primary superstat with the perks you want.
2) What is their energy maintenance and will I be using an energy return mechanic? This is a two part question, but the latter part is most important. If I'm using an energy return mechanic then the character will have a superstat in the stat that powers the energy return or will have a high amount of this stat (usually within super stat range). If I'm using more than one energy return mechanic (this usually means a martial arts form and/or defiance with a true energy unlock power) then two of my superstats are pretty well figured out. Champions Online is a fast paced game and almost all of our moves require energy so having the energy required to do moves is a primary concern.
3) Defensive, Offensive, Support? This question is used to determine the likely passive of choice and also affects stats to a lesser degree than the energy maintenance issue. I generally don't use multiple passives as they are rarely needed with proper stat choice and power selection.
4) Team oriented or solo? I know this is a weird consideration for someone playing an MMO, particularly for someone who runs a guild, but I consider this. I tend to play solo a lot so my builds are focused on being solo capable. I love to team and love answering the call to team but rarely do I actively seek out a team. I'm more of a "be there whenever you need me player" than a "can't play this game unless it's with someone else" player. With that said if you are going for a team oriented build you have more flexibility as you can build with the mindset of having help around thus freeing some of the pressure off of yourself. If you are building with running solo in mind your build needs to be tighter and some of those theme powers you may want might need to be benched for utility powers you actually need.
Do not mock me! It is your fumble fingered building that put me in this sorry state!
Step Two - Be the hero the game world needs you to be
When a lot of people build they are quick to blame the powers as the problem and not their building. In my experience and opinion Champions Online has precious few truly weak and unredeemable powers. With that said, remember that this is a game...the mechanics matter and don't care what your theme is. Pick powers that compliment each other even if indirectly. Obvious combinations would be things like using a fire debuff to assist fire damage powers. Not so obvious combinations would be using a knock power to send enemies flying and buy time for your healing to take effect while they are airborne. Keep this in mind when building. Powers support other powers. All of the powers suck when used alone. Together, they make us Champions.
Also, pick specializations and gear that work for you. Specializations and gear are there to assist your powers and more importantly your playstyle. Also some of the gear and specializations work in tandem. Do you have a lot of defensive gear and need a boost to your offense? There's a specialization for letting your defensive attribute increase your offensive attribute. Do you have a fast-ticking crit based character that's squishy and dies if a stiff breeze hits them? Might want to look at a spec that heals you when you crit. Take a lot of hits and want an offensive boost? There's a specialization that will make you able to hit harder as you take hits. Want to have some critical hit abilities without using Dex? There's an app...err...I mean spec for that.
My powers grow!
Step Three - Be the hero experience has taught you to be
Test, test, test...then test again. Nothing beats experience. You can learn a lot from reading guides and asking questions on the forums, but again, nothing beats experience. Experience will tell you not only little nuances about how powers work and interact with each other but it will also tell you more important things about how the powers work for you.
The powerhouse is an invaluable asset and the battlestation is more useful than it is given credit for. While it is true that the battlestation does not directly represent a few situations in the game an often overlooked point is that the battlestation can be used to create situations you'll never deal with in the game (yes, this is a positive). If you've read my builds you'll see I generally include a video of the build soloing the battlestation when it is set for 5 people on hard difficulty. That setting is a baseline for a few reasons. The amount of incoming damage exceeds almost anything a player will encounter in the game world and will present more targets that must be dealt with as well. A toon that can handle this can, in my experience, handle anything in the game that is meant to be handled solo (and some things that aren't meant to be soloed) There are some exceptions to keep in mind. Some noteworthy ones are as follows.
1) If you're testing energy maintenance do not use force sheath in the battlestation when fighting large mobs. You'll get hit far more often than in the game world and think your energy maintenance is better than it really is. Test energy maintenance on smaller mobs.
2) Be wary of the effects of absorb effects (Invulnerability and Inertial Dampening Field) on mob damage. This can give you an unrealistic expectation on how your build deals with spike damage.
3) Be wary of dependency on crowd control (knocks, stuns, roots, etc.). While the powerhouse mobs are very susceptible to these a number of harder hitting foes in the game world are not.
The pain is exquisite!
Step Four - be the hero that understands the real trinity
Fans of MMOs know the standard holy trinity of Tank, DPS and Healer. Well Champions Online doesn't subscribe to that trinity by necessity though it is a viable option. Champions Online has a trinity that covers most of the content in the game and the trinity is within every character ever created. Please observe the diagram below created by yours truly...
The trinity in Champions Online is Damage, Mitigation and Healing (similar to DPS, Tank and Healing right? True, except it's all in one character here). Those are the three pillars of a balanced character and simultaneously the source of a Champion's greatest strength and the game's greatest weakness. Here are the points about the diagram.
1) The first thing to notice is that the triangle is inverted. This is intentional and symbolic. Champions Online's enemy encounters are almost all numerical wars of attrition because so few of the enemies have the capacity to heal. With that said, the amount of damage you can kick out is the least important part of the triangle. You only need to be able to damage the enemy over time and outlast them.
2) You'll notice that there are lines between the three pillars with the phrase "I win" roughly in the center. What this means is that if you are at any of the extremes your build is going to have a harder time making it through the game's content solo. The closer your build is to the middle of one of the connecting lines the closer you are to an "I win" build. So you'll generally need a combination of Damage and Healing, or Damage and Mitigation, or Mitigation and Healing. This is where people get tripped up on in a lot of builds and concerning a lot of passives. People pick a passive or a build that focuses on one corner of the triangle, don't build towards one of the other corners and then proclaim that the build or the passive sucks. The passive doesn't suck, build around it. The build might suck, build a bridge to one of the other two focuses instead of having a bridge to nowhere.
3) In American Kenpo Karate the Left Side is referred to as the weak side and the Right Side as the Strong Side. This is just nomenclature used in teaching and telling people what they are focusing on in an encounter. I borrowed this from my Kenpo background for this diagram. In this diagram the left side of the triangle from our perspective is Damage and Mitigation. This is the weakest combination in the game as it is the only one that can not deal with every encounter in the game. Most? Certainly. All? Nope. Damage and Mitigation alone makes you a slightly more effective and possibly smarter version of an NPC. Remember what I said about wars of attrition.
4) In the dead center of the triangle you'll see one of my favorite NPCs, the Demon Key, with the phrase "ROFLSTOMP" written beneath him. What this means is that if you have a build with a balance of Mitigation, Damage and Healing you will be able to stomp pretty much anything in the game. In Champions Online this is more than possible. All the posts on this forum of people complaining about how the game is too easy on Elite and such? This is why. Using builds like this and then proclaiming that there is nothing that can stand before them. Of course there isn't, you left no weaknesses and if there were something that could stand before that any build that stuck to one side of the triangle would have no chance.
I am whole again! You will bow before me!
Step Five - Be the hero that brings the whole tool belt
No matter whether you plan on being Tank, DPS, Support or some amalgamation of the 3 I always advocate trying to build in some key things to any build.
1) GEM - Good Energy Management. Even on builds that are fairly energy starved like Dex/Ego builds I try to put energy management in the build through using energy management stats as a side focus, energy efficient powers and/or energy return mechanics. The game plays fast, so make sure you're ready to run hard and run often.
2) DERP - Damaging Effective Reliable Power. Even on support builds or pet builds I always have an attack on the build that can handle some henchman if the team or pets are "busy". This power is generally strong, an AOE and something I can fire from equilibrium tying into the GEM concept.
3) BASH - Bring A Self Heal. Remember what I said about the weakest side of the triangle? I don't have a single build that's on that side of the triangle. Though I run with several people that have builds like that I can't do it. I hate dying in a superhero game. There's nothing heroic about that. Even if you have a support toon with you there's nothing wrong with making their job easier.
4) CON - Control Of Numbers. I try to include the capacity to handle mass mobs in any build I make (remember the powerhouse setting). This means crowd control and/or thinning the herd through combinations of conventional crowd controls, knocks and/or AOEs. Never make a build that has nothing but single target attacks. Wars of attrition generally don't go as planned if you let the enemy maintain an unchecked numerical advantage.
5) AGGRO - Acquire Good Gear Relatively Often. When leveling your character, or trying to improve them post level cap, gear makes a big difference. Don't neglect having good gear for your level either through drops, the auction house, trading or crafting. A bunch of my builds use dodge as a defense and several people using them message me saying they can't survive like they see in the videos. I immediately ask them what level and do they have dodge gear equipped. Most reply they are past level 21 and aren't using dodge gear... Gear appropriately people.
6) BS - Balanced Stating. While some builds can get away with having all of their points in a stat or two, many can not. Don't be focused on pushing your superstats deep beyond the soft cap if you have no legitimate reason for it. Spread your stats out a bit to cover any issues your power selections can't cover on their own (usually energy maintenance issues or healing/health issues).
7) SHARP - Specialized Heroes Are Really Powerful. Use your specializations and use them well. Be sure to pick specs that compliment your character and your playstyle. Don't get caught up on which spec is supposedly for ranged characters or which one is labeled as meant for support. Look at what the specialization trees have to offer, decide what you need/want to specialize in and choose accordingly.
Sadly, common sense informs me that there is a slim chance this guide won't be helpful to you.
Step Six - Be the hero that's fun for you to play
Champions Online gives us unparalleled freedom to design the heroes we want in nearly any fashion we wish. In this regard, play the hero that makes the game fun for you. If you like being Gawd then build a Gawd hero that can handle anything. If you like being challenged then build a toon that actually has weaknesses...like good comic book writers do. Ultimately if any tips in this guide are the opposite of fun, ignore them entirely. Remember what I said at the beginning. Fun is paramount.
At last you have finished reading. Insignificant players! I will crush your builds! I will suck the energy from your endurance bars. I will...you know what? You're not worth it. May we never meet again.
Thanks for reading this small novel. May it assist you in things to consider when designing your own heroes.
The guide is finished! Regretfully, I will meet you in the community to answer more questions.