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View Full Version : Pick & Strum - experimenting with a DC Swashbuckler



giftie
06-15-2014, 03:55 PM
Pick & Strum

So last night I dinged 28 on Bard. The basic idea was to see how high I could get DCs on a pure Swashbuckler, and thought I'd share my experiences. I think it differs enough from the other U22 builds to warrant its own thread. Equipment is far from optimal, and I had to make some compromises until I get decent loot.

32-point True Neutral Drow
Past lives: Wizard x 3

Starting attributes:

STR: 8
DEX: 16
CON: 14
INT: 10
WIS: 8
CHA: 20

Past lives are not strictly required for this build (start with DEX 14 or 15), but any caster build benefits from Wiz and FvS PLs for spell penetration.

Drow is pretty non-negotiable. First, it's +3 CHA over any race and +1 Enchant DC over any non-elf. Second, you get the Shuriken feats for free, and it's not a terrible ranged option despite the poor STR.

Feats:

Single Weapon Fighting x 3
Precision
Improved Critical: Piercing
Quicken Spell
Extend Spell
Heighten Spell
Spell Focus: Enchantment
Inspire Excellence
Lasting Inspiration
Perfect Single Weapon Fighting

Notes on feats:

PSWF is pretty much only useful with Mortal Fear and Endless Night. Until I grind out Tier 3, I'd be better off with PTWF but haven't made it that far in Primal

Sphere.
Extend Spell is very much a personal choice, I expect most others would take Empower Healing instead.

Enhancements:

Drow (9 AP)

- Core IV/CHA II
- Enchantment Lore

Warchanter (13 AP)

- Core III
- CHA I
- Rough and Ready III
- Poetic Edda III
- Enchant Weapon

Spellsinger (15 AP)

- Core III
- Magical Training
- Yellow Marigold Crown
- Spell Song Trance
- CHA I

Swashbuckler (43 AP)

- Core VI
- On Your Toes III
- Tavern Shanties III
- Deflect Arrows
- Fast Movement
- Arcane Marauder
- Smooth Flourishes
- Resonant Arms III
- CHA II
- On the Mark II
- Loud & Clear
- Thread the Needle
- Second Skin III
- Exploit Weaknesses
- Coup de Grace

Notes on enhancements:

Coup de Grace seems to work just like Assassinate, that is only on living trash (no constructs, undead or orange names), diminishing its value. On the plus side, just like Assassinate it can hit several mobs at once with proper placement.
I'm considering moving some points in WC to SS for +4 spell pen (incl. Arcane Might), but Victory Song is hard to give up.
Uncanny Dodge (Core III) does not add 5% Dodge as expected - unsure if this is WAI.

Epic Destiny:

Divine Crusader:

- CHA +6
- Purge the Wicked
- Interrogation
- Consecration II
- Sacred Ground
- Crusade
- Castigation
- Celestial Champion

Twists:

- Enchantment Specialist
- Sound Burst SLA
- CHA

Notes on ED:

I'm currently not sure how effective Castigation is. I mostly use Consecration as a cheap mass cure, but I'm currently debating dropping Castigation for Consecration III - cheaper and with a better uptime.
CHA twist is obviously a filler since I'm uneven, and a poor filler at that - Divine Echoes would be better, but I'm still a few fate points short.
I have the option to switch to EA for another +4 DCs and +3 spell penetration, when the quest demands it.

Equipment:

Head: Lootgen CHA +10, Wizardry X
Goggles: Drow Manslayer (filler item, want Intricate Field Optics)
Hands: PDK gloves (30% Hamp, Insightful CON +2) (filler item, want Iron Mitts)
Wrists: Skirmisher's Bracers (+9 DEX, 8% Doublestrike)
Ring 1: Guardian's Ring (+24 PRR) slotted with Striding 30%
Ring 2: EN Consuming Darkness (Seeker X) slotted with Vitality +20
Trinket: Prowess of Erutidation (Insightful CHA +3) (filler item - obviously wouldn't mind a Litany)
Armor: Flawless Shadow Dragonhide Armor of Shadow Disciple slotted with 40 False Life and Good Luck +2
Neck: Lootgen Deadly IX, Resistance 10
Cloak: Stormsinger's Cloak (Anthem, Perform +11) (filler item)
Belt: EH Belt of the Seven Ideals (Spell Pen III, Potency 76 - good for Consecration) slotted with Feather Fall and Imperial Globe
Boots: Lootgen CON +10, Dodge 10%
Weapon: Tier 2 Thunder-Forged Light Pick (1st Degree Burns, Dragon's Edge) slotted with Sonic 138
Off-hand: Tier 2 Thunder-Forged Orb (Devotion, Draconic Enchantment) slotted with Greater Enchantment

Notes on equipment:

Apart from a large supply of ingots and scales from alts, this is pretty much starter gear.

Swashbuckler cores break Celestia's DR, making it a second rate weapon. Heroic Skullsmasher is very easy to acquire and surprisingly good while levelling up.

Epic version beats out Balizarde damage-wise, but obviously don't have those nifty defensive bonuses.

I eventually settled for a light pick because of its superior crit profile among light TF weapons. Also... it's a pick.

Since Orbs don't give implement bonuses even when slotted with a spell power augment, that has to go into the weapon, preventing the use of Endless Night augment or similar. Implement bonus with SB cores and Enchant Weapon is 40-50 USP, so that's nothing to scoff at.

CHA breakdown:

20 base
07 level-ups
06 tome
10 item
03 Insightful
01 Exceptional
06 Divine Crusader
01 CHA twist
08 enhancements
02 Inspire Excellence
02 guild bonus

= 66 CHA

DC breakdown:

10 base
06 Heightened Spell
02 enchancements
01 guild bonus (Archwizard stacks now)
01 Spell Song Trance
01 Spell Focus
03 Enchantment Specialist
06 item (TF Orb)
02 augment
01 profane (TF armor)
28 CHA bonus
01 Yugo pot

= 62 DC

I would normally not include Yugo pots, but as a DC caster, I expect to use them.

Doublestrike breakdown:

10% sacred from Divine Crusader - this stacks up very fast, so it seems reasonable to include.
08% item
06% Swashbuckler cores
05% Swashbuckling stance (undocumented, but according to character sheet)

= 29%

Actual numbers with this gear setup:

Dodge: 20% (as mentioned above, Uncanny Dodge does not give Dodge bonus)
Reflex: 60
PRR: 49
Positive spell power: 272
Sonic spell power: 276

When compared to a build like The Count of Monte Christo (Maelodic is a great build as well, but not aimed at DC casting), the most obvious difference is DC vs doublestrike. With Yugo and Archwizard included, Count reaches 55 DC, versus 62 on this build. However, this comes at the cost of 21% doublestrike (LSM and Inspire Recklessness). The rest of the differences are more or less gearing and trade-offs, where Count's optimal gear is considerably better than what I currently have.

One variant is dropping Precision and Extend and picking up Shield Mastery which would recuperate most of the dodge and doublestrike, and only lose 1 DC by dropping Orb for Sage's Mantle - but my goal was to see how high I could get on a pure Swashbuckler.

I ran a sample of dungeons in EE to check DCs needed:

VoN chain: extremely reliable
Eveningstar chain: unable to penetrate Drow SR
Wheloon: workable
Storm Horms: reliable
3BC: unable to penetrate Yuan-ti SR, pretty much everything else is undead.
GH: workable
LoD chain: extremely reliable

Casters and certain mobs like Blackguards are virtually impossible.

In summation, it works okay. I would not advice going in with less DC, but spell penetration is a bigger problem. It's still pretty darn fun to play, though.

Maelodic
06-16-2014, 01:04 AM
Thank you very much for your breakdown and build- looks really awesome and should be very, very strong with what they end up doing to Spellsinger.

Something I'd consider in regards to bucklers-
They provide two very important boosts even when not using Shield Mastery-
10% Stacking Dodge Bonus
Low Blow- Perform DC trip

The dodge bonus is ridiculously high and low blow allows you to have a quick way to get a mob ready to CDG- the same enhancements with an orb end up giving you 20 Sonic Spellpower.
That and the power of the great and powerful wheel (http://ddowiki.com/page/Item:Kobold_Admiral's_Tiller) isn't to be taken lightly- after you have everything crowd controlled, if you're set on killing a mob outside of GDG, Guardbreaker combined with Exploit Weakness basically means they won't be fighting back- the extra 10% Dodge is great too and saves an equipment slot.

Going with a buckler and using Sages Mantle only drops your DC by one point- but adds 10% Dodge, Low Blow, and if you get that item, Guardbreaker.

Just something to consider. You aren't going to get hit if everything is controlled- but giving up one DC is probably worth it for those bonuses.

Also, thanks for the shout out. I wasn't expecting the build to get as much attention as it has.

giftie
06-16-2014, 11:37 AM
When they redesign Spellsinger and Warchanter, I expect I'll follow suit and go back to Spellsinger. While I love Evasion, the Swashbuckler T5s are kind of weak - at least compared to the really great enhancements in T3.

Off-hand item caused me quite a bit of trouble. While Loud & Clear is admittedly very weak compared to Low Blow, I only took it because I needed the point to unlock T5. Low Blow is of limited use on this build, since Soundburst SLA is much stronger (although it has a much lower DC at 67 for this build and setup, it's usually enough - it's cheaper, lower cooldown and AoE). The dodge bonus is great, but the effective miss chance increase - after displacement and ghostly - is less than 5%. I'd much, much rather have the 15% doublestrike, and I would not permanently drop 1 DC on account of just Dodge and Low Blow.

However, your argument still has me convinced. Because there's absolutely nothing preventing me from switching to Skirmisher and using Tiller (which I already have), and only use Orb as a swap-in for Disco Ball/Mind Fog. Those are slow spells, requiring some planning and I rarely cast at the spur of the moment so using a "casting stick" should actually be quite doable. OIR and Soundburst doesn't work off of the Enchantment DC, and the debuffs don't need it either. Cant think of a single other spell in my list that does. And since Swashbuckling doesn't require re-activation (as opposed to, say, monk stances after dropping out of centered), it's pretty hassle-free.

CThruTheEgo
06-18-2014, 09:04 PM
Nice build. I like to see the slight variations among these builds that result in greater emphasis on various aspects of their potential.

I made a few changes to Monte Cristo and now end up with a 56 DC and 34% doublestrike, but I didn't include the 10% from divine crusader. You're right though that it should be included since it's easy to maintain.

Thanks for the testing btw. I have a question about it. Did you use any debuffs? I know mind fog and crushing despair have a save as well. Cutting jibes (swashbuckler tier 1) and the weaken will effect from many enchantment spells (hypnotism, crushing despair, hypnotic pattern) apply without any save. Were you just using your base DC or applying any of the debuffs first? I'm just trying to get a better picture of how effective the CC with debuffs will be on my build. Thanks again giftie.

giftie
06-18-2014, 09:57 PM
Thanks for the testing btw. I have a question about it. Did you use any debuffs?

For the purposes of my testing, I did not. Since Disco and Fog have the same DC, I just took note of how many got caught in my Disco, and estimated the effectiveness of Fog + Disco. If 50% the mobs got caught in Disco, then reasonably 50% should be a no-fail vs Fog + Disco and another 25% will save against Fog but still fail Disco. So 50%+ effectiveness of Disco was considered "reliable".


I know mind fog and crushing despair have a save as well.

Crushing Despair applies a -5 will save for 15 seconds whether the mobs save or not. It's a very potent debuff, the main drawback being that it's targeted.


Cutting jibes (swashbuckler tier 1) and the weaken will effect from many enchantment spells (hypnotism, crushing despair, hypnotic pattern) apply without any save.

I didn't test Cutting Jibes. Going by the wording it's a PBAoE, which makes it all but useless. It requires a 3 AP investment to make it slightly cheaper than Hypnotism, but still with much higher cooldown. Those are points better spent elsewhere if you ask me.


Were you just using your base DC or applying any of the debuffs first? I'm just trying to get a better picture of how effective the CC with debuffs will be on my build. Thanks again giftie.

Targeted debuffs (Hypnotism, Crushing Despair) are very hard to use effectively in my opinion. Not only is targetting tricky, because the situations where you use Disco are often ambush-style encounters and you want the Disco up and running before they spawn. Secondly, it's not just a matter of getting them caught in the Disco, it's more a matter of getting them to stay there. Once the debuffs run out and they make their next will save against the Disco you need to start the process over again (or kite them through, but while they're beating at you).

At some point you also need to look at SP consumption. Disco + Fog + Despair + Hypnotism + Jibes is... 120 SP? How many times can you do that between shrines, while keeping up buffs and healing?

Having said that, my next project is a heavily splashed Kensai/StD Swashbuckler. While comparing numbers, I'm becoming increasingly amazed about the versatility and damage of the Count. If you can pull off reliable EE CC, I'm dying to know.

CThruTheEgo
06-19-2014, 05:35 AM
...snip...

Thanks for the info giftie. I recognize the drawbacks you identified. I'm curious if I can reliably pull off EE CC as well. On paper it seems like a good possibility. Practically, you've pointed out some of the problems with it. It may come down to player skill and require a lot of practice for it to be effective. If it's not reliable or more tedious than I can put up with, I'll definitely be making a few changes to my build.

N-0cturn
06-19-2014, 07:08 AM
Nice!

I really think I will go back to a Cha based build once we have more information about what they are going to do with SS and WC. Just 2 things:



PSWF is pretty much only useful with Mortal Fear and Endless Night. Until I grind out Tier 3, I'd be better off with PTWF but haven't made it that far in Primal

I disagree here. There are several effects where PSWF is a great improvement. Reign and Thunderstruck for example. My favourite currently is improved Disruption when fighting undead.


Wrists: Skirmisher's Bracers (+9 DEX, 8% Doublestrike)

Sadly the bonus from Skirmisher's Bracers is enhancement and does not stack with Celestial Champion. I am not sure why wiki is saying that CC would have sacred bonus. I have to check that on live. However I got the message that the bonuses doe not stack, Celestial Champion will only appear in the buff bar when stack is 9 or 10 and in the UI it does not stack as well.

I have to add that I was kinda happy about it since there are other very nice choices for bracers.

EDIT: I just checked it and the wiki is wrong. On live it says enchancement bonus, which is why it does not stack with the Skirmisher's Bracers

CThruTheEgo
06-19-2014, 07:54 AM
Sadly the bonus from Skirmisher's Bracers is enhancement and does not stack with Celestial Champion. I am not sure why wiki is saying that CC would have sacred bonus. I have to check that on live. However I got the message that the bonuses doe not stack, Celestial Champion will only appear in the buff bar when stack is 9 or 10 and in the UI it does not stack as well.

I have to add that I was kinda happy about it since there are other very nice choices for bracers.

EDIT: I just checked it and the wiki is wrong. On live it says enchancement bonus, which is why it does not stack with the Skirmisher's Bracers

Thanks for confirming this.

giftie
06-19-2014, 08:53 AM
I disagree here. There are several effects where PSWF is a great improvement. Reign and Thunderstruck for example. My favourite currently is improved Disruption when fighting undead.

I should've been more clear: on _this_ build it's only useful for Mortal Fear since I can't slot either.


Sadly the bonus from Skirmisher's Bracers is enhancement and does not stack with Celestial Champion. I am not sure why wiki is saying that CC would have sacred bonus. I have to check that on live. However I got the message that the bonuses doe not stack, Celestial Champion will only appear in the buff bar when stack is 9 or 10 and in the UI it does not stack as well. I have to add that I was kinda happy about it since there are other very nice choices for bracers.

This is a good change. Giving DC a sacred bonus to doublestrike was a huge blow to Paladins, and it should imho either be enhancement type or something else entirely. And yes, I'll take that bracer slot back.

I noticed the stacking issue as well, but I figured it was a issue with the undocumented doublestrike bonus of Swashbuckler stance.

giftie
06-19-2014, 11:34 AM
After some more testing, I decided this build is probably sub-optimal.

By going full SS and EA, I can reach DC 68 and gain 9 spell pen. I'm ready to drop Precision and possibly Extend which could possibly net 70 DC, but I'm more tempted to pick up Legendary Shield Mastery instead. While I would lose Evasion and Coup-de-Grace, DPS is still pretty intact with the same gear and I gain the SS stuff (including Heal).

Jhaeran
06-19-2014, 02:14 PM
After some more testing, I decided this build is probably sub-optimal.

By going full SS and EA, I can reach DC 68 and gain 9 spell pen. I'm ready to drop Precision and possibly Extend which could possibly net 70 DC, but I'm more tempted to pick up Legendary Shield Mastery instead. While I would lose Evasion and Coup-de-Grace, DPS is still pretty intact with the same gear and I gain the SS stuff (including Heal).

Interesting. Curious how it turns out. I just made the FotM bard swashbuckler build but since its my first caster of any type I'm just flailing around on the caster side. Melee DPS seems pretty nice so far (LR'd a languishing 20, only had a half orc.. talk about sub-optimal :)) so poorly geared and can hireling epic hard pretty smoothly.

giftie
06-19-2014, 07:07 PM
Results from switching to Spellsinger - Exalted Angel:

- Doublestrike up from 20% to 23%.
- Dodge down from 24% to 20% (Inspire Heroics does work, I'm just an idiot), but this is while wielding an Orb. Dodge cap at 24% makes shield less interesting.
- Sonic and positive spell power up by ~30 each - loss of Empower Heal less noticable.
- Spell points up by 600, HP down by 50.
- PRR up to 75. 15 from LSM - I have no freaking idea how I gained the other 11 points..
- Loss of Evasion and Coup-de-Grace, Reflex down by 10.
- Gained Heal and Wail.
- Lost Extend Spell and Precision.
- Lost all the damage goodies in DC, gained... Mass Cure Mod SLA. :(
- Noticeable loss in DPS, but unable quantify it. Had more trouble soloing, and started noticed grazing hits.

- DCs up to 68.
- Able to penetrate Drow SR.

I'm very happy with how it turned out.

Maelodic
06-20-2014, 11:30 PM
- DCs up to 68.
- Able to penetrate Drow SR.

This alone seems pretty awesome. I'm glad you found a happy medium.

painkiller3
06-23-2014, 02:03 PM
Pick & Strum

...

Swashbuckler cores break Celestia's DR, making it a second rate weapon. Heroic Skullsmasher is very easy to acquire and surprisingly good while levelling up.

...

is with WAI? any core in particular (thinking about trying a 12 bard split)?

thegreatneil
06-23-2014, 02:29 PM
is with WAI? any core in particular (thinking about trying a 12 bard split)?

Cores 3, 12, and the capstone.