It has been several days since I finished the main storyline in The Secret World, and I have neither had the strong desire to play an alt, nor any sense of boredom and lacking things to do. So far so good, if anything I feel even more fanboy-ish than I have been to this point. Today I listened to the second of the Secret World live developer streams, and I am really pumped about the 31st update.
So while I am geeking out as a fanboy, I am trying really hard not to do so in an offensive way. Honestly one of my biggest turnoffs with Guild Wars 2 in general, has been the army of militant fans that appear to bludgeon down anyone who might question that title. I really want the TSW community to be different than that, so I feel hyper conscious about how my current love of the title might translate to the “un-initiated”.
So while I might joke that not liking the game, means you have no soul… I completely understand that the game is not going to be for everyone. The Secret World is this awesome niche title, that a year a go I would not have thought could exist in the modern MMO market. It is this odd intersection of Harry Dresden, Harry Potter, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Clive Barker and James Bond. The world is almost tailor fit to the type of stories I love reading, but it will not be right for everyone.
Of Shotguns and Blades
There has been a lot of talk about builds lately amongst my group of friends. For the most part everyone is branching out and trying to figure out what works best for them. Overall the faction template decks seem nice, but in practice each of us ends up fiddling with things to suit our own needs. Each of us seems to be building towards the deck we want the costume for, while creating our own custom made mix of abilities.
Personally I chose both Shotguns and Blades for pure geeky reasons. I love using shotguns in any game that allows it, in Doom I made a beeline for the double barrel shotgun each time and never looked back. In fantasy games, I must have a sword in my hand, and I am never quite happy until I am wielding one. So giving me a game where I could do both, pretty much meant I knew exactly the build I would be going towards. Even if it sucked, I would likely be playing this combination… but oddly enough it works really well together.
How the Deck Works
One of the cool synergies between both Blades and Shotguns is that both have a good number of abilities that either increase your chance of landing a penetrating hit, or doing something really cool when you do. In addition to this, I have built pick up some claws abilities that make it really easy to drop a target into an afflicted state, which mixes nicely with a swords finisher that exploits this condition. So essentially this deck is all about landing a penetrating blow, that starts a cascade effect.
The build works around three abilities for the most part. First is Twist the Knife, that you will see below. Essentially when you penetrate your target gains an ability that stacks to three, that increases all damage dealt by 3% for 10 seconds. Each time you penetrate, it resets the stack timer. To make sure we keep penetrating, I throw in the next ability: Fatal Flourish. Each time you apply afflicted you gain +30 Penetration for 8 seconds, which stacks to 10. Finally I have thrown in the Bloodsport ability from the Claws tree, that sets and afflicted state anything you hit the mob.
Four Seasons is the epic ability I have chosen for this deck. Essentially it serves two purposes. Firstly since this deck is all about starting a cascade effect when you penetrate, this allows me to land four guaranteed penetrates. The second purpose, is this doubles as an interrupt, since the fourth hit stuns the target.
Since most of this build is AOE based, I went with Bamboo Cutter as my melee builder. This is essentially a low threat version of the Blade Torrent ability from the inner blades wheel. This is pretty much my spam button when I can be near a target.
Clearing the Path
There are multiple good AOE and single target resource dumps in the blades trees. I have friends that swear by Chop Shop, but for the purpose of this build, since I will be setting the afflicted state I chose this ability. If you notice, this attack will automatically penetrate any afflicted target. Which only services to keep the cascade effect going.
Flight of Daggers
Going along with the AOE theme, this epic passive causes 3 enemies near you to take a direct damage hit, and gain an affliction that deals damage over time. This ability procs on every fifth hit, so you will be throwing out a ton of “daggers” as you go.
Twist the Knife
This is really the ability that started the theme of the deck. When you penetrate, you gain a stacking buff that when fully stacked increases all of your damage by 9%. We want this stacked to three as quickly as possible, and to always maintain a full stack.
This is the ability that is going to make sure that you are penetrating by stacking a buff each time we apply afflicted. It stacks up to 10, and each stack grants 30 penetration. Since Bloodsport is making us apply afflicted each time we hit the target, by the 10th time we have struck the mob we will have +300 penetration.
This is one of those no-brainer fillers. Each time I penetrate I deal a small bit of extra damage. Build is set up so that I penetrate constantly, so this is just free damage. When I need to swap things around for certain fights, this is one of the abilities I can easily drop without losing any real effectiveness.
Martial Discipline and Regeneration
You might be asking yourself… “Bel, I thought you were DPS in this game, why do you have a tanking ability?”. One mantra I have always lived by regardless of the MMO, is “Dead DPS do no damage”. While this combination takes up both an active and passive slot, it is completely worth it. Essentially every 45 seconds you can hit an ability that will greatly reduce the amount of damage you are taking, and heal yourself. This ability has saved my ass more times than I can count, and often times is the reason why I can solo nightmare content.
This is my shotgun ranged builder of choice. There are many builder options in Shotgun, but so far this feels like one of the better picks as it has a really good range. Raging Bullet seems like a great pick, but in order to get the maximum effect you have to stay close range. If I can be in range, I tend to be using swords attacks.
This is my all purpose ranged dump. It does slightly less damage than Out for a Kill, the basic single target ranged dump. However when I am grouping it comes in handy, since it has the added benefit of purging 1 detrimental effect from you, and 1 beneficial effect from the mob if the mob is in a hindered state. I have other abilities that I can swap in and place the mob into a hindered state, namely swapping Flight of Daggers for Close Quarters that causes me to apply hindered each time I hit within close range. When grouping, someone is usually applying hindered.
This is my favorite AOE builder so far. Essentially it will hit your target, and 5 enemies within 5 meters of the target. This is really useful for packs of mobs, and often times I can have the pack dead before they reach me if I am kiting them. At the very least within a sword AOE or two they die. Found this super useful in instance fights where packs of mobs spawn that the DPS needs to handle.
This ability is one of the three that really make this build work. Anytime you hit a target, it becomes afflicted with a DOT that stacks up to 3 times. Several abilities in the build rely on either applying afflicted or hitting an afflicted target. This is the easiest way to make sure this happens.
Salt in the Wound
This is another no-brainer filler ability. Bloodsport causes me to constantly be applying afflicted, and this ability deals extra damage when this happens. Once again this is basically free damage to the target. Just like Sudden Return however, this is one of those slots that I can freely swap in other abilities as needed without losing build effectiveness.
Why I Love This Build
Aside from simply liking both Shotguns and Blades, and the visceral feel of using both, this build gives me a good deal of both survivability and versatility. The Secret World is a game about constant movement, and during most fights I find myself shifting back and forth between needing to be close to the target, and needing to be at a safe distance from any point blank AOE. This build gives me the ability to shift back and forth between ranged and melee without every having to stop attacking.
I like the feel of the cascading effect of Twist the Knife and Fatal Flourish working together. As the fight goes on, I keep dealing more and more damage until the mob dies. This has allowed me to burn through many encounters I just should not be able to take on. I’ve managed to solo a good deal of the lair and nightmare content, so long as I take it carefully and stick to single and sometimes double pulls.
No amount of damage dealing however could really account for that. The fact that I put Martial Discipline in the build gives me enough survival to be able to stay up long enough to finish off the mobs. Last night in Elite Darkness War, I kited the boss for the last 50 seconds of the fight after everyone had died, and managed to pull out the victory. I had to hit Martial Discipline twice, and take a healing potion, but I was able to stay up long enough to whittle down the bosses health. Basically the build lets me tackle pretty much whatever I want to do, and with some careful planning survive.