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PapaCharlie9

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#1
Take a look and let me know what you think.

2H TANK CASSANDRA BUILD AND 2H DAMAGE DEALER INQUISITOR BUILD

This is my Cassandra build when I run her as the only warrior in the party. She plays the role of tank in that scenario. I also include a variation of the build for an Inquisitor who is a damage dealer rather than a tank. The IQ build assumes you have Blackwall or the Iron Bull tanking for you -- in other words, an AI warrior that can spam Horn of Valor/Fortifying Blast (HoV).

When Cass is the AI controlled tank, I want her to have HoV duty as early as possible and then drive the build towards the tankier skills. Once she has the left side of the Templar tree, she can start really contributing to damage dealing as well.

An IQ damage dealer Templar is freed up from HoV duty and as a result has 5 skill points "extra" to spend on 2H skills and for earlier spends on Vanguard.

This build requires that Trespasser be installed.

PRE-SPECIALIZATION SPEND

Points required: 6 - 12

Cassandra 2H tank, in spend order, after using a Tactician's Amulet when it first becomes available in Haven

1. Grappling Chain (consider disabling until Chain for Days available, see rationale in post #2)
2. Crippling Blows
3. Coup de Grace
4. Horn of Valor (set to Preferred in AI)
5. Fortifying Blast
6. War Cry (set to Preferred in AI)
7. Call to Arms
8. Block & Slash
9. Flow of Battle
10. Pommel Strike (set to Preferred in AI)
11. Staggering Strike or Lightning Jab
12. Chain for Days (upgrade to Grappling Chain)

Active abilities:

1/ Grappling Chain (but see note in rationale)
2/ Horn of Valor
3/ War Cry
4/ Block & Slash
5/ Pommel Strike

See rationale in the post after this one.

Inquisitor 2H damage dealer, in spend order, after using a Tactician's Amulet when it first becomes available in Haven

1. Mighty Blow
2. Grappling Chain
3. Easy Target (upgrade to Mighty Blow)
4. Give Them The Boot (upgrade to Grappling Chain)
5. Shield-Breaker
6. Whirlwind
7. Rising Winds
8. Clear a Path
9. Challenge
10. Charging Bull
11. Gore and Trample

Active abilities:

1/ Mighty Blow
2/ Grappling Chain
3/ Whirlwind
4/ Charging Bull

See rationale in the third post.

TEMPLAR FULL BUILD SPEND

Points required: 21

Cassandra 2H tank, in spend order, after using a Tactician's Amulet upon acquiring the Templar skill tree

1. Grappling Chain
2. Crippling Blows
3. Coup de Grace
4. Horn of Valor (set to Preferred in AI)
5. Fortifying Blast
6. War Cry (set to Preferred in AI)
7. Call to Arms
8. Spell Purge
9. Spell Shatter
10. Champions of the Just
11. Rally (focus ability)
12. Last Sacrifice
13. Wrath of Heaven (set to Preferred in AI)
14. Embrace the Light
15. Block & Slash
16. Flow of Battle
17. Mighty Blow
18. Shield-Breaker
19. Whirlwind
20. Vortex of Steel
21. Clear a Path

Active abilities:

1/ Horn of Valor
2/ War Cry
3/ Spell Purge
4/ Rally
5/ Wrath of Heaven
6/ Block & Slash
7/ Mighty Blow
8/ Whirlwind

See rationale in the post after this one.

Cassandra 2H tank alternative loadouts and spends after the full build is achieved

There are several ways you could go after you achieve the full build.

If your party is no longer in need of HoV, because you've crafted for guard on hit or they are doing so much damage they don't need defense buffs anymore, you can recover the 5 points in Battlemaster and the active slot for more 2H active abilities or more tanky stuff from Vanguard. See suggestions below.

If your party still needs HoV and you want to make Cass even more tanky, I would recommend the following spend:

22. Charging Bull (swap with Block & Slash)
23. Gore and Trample
24. It'll Cost You
25. Livid (swap with Rally)

If your party still needs HoV, but you want to give Cass more damage dealing abilities, I would recommend this spend instead:

22. Pommel Strike (swap with Block & Slash)
23. Lightning Jab
24. Earthshaking Strike (swap with Rally)
25. Shattered Ground

Inquisitor 2H damage dealer, in spend order, after using a Tactician's Amulet upon acquiring the Templar skill tree

1. Spell Purge
2. Spell Shatter
3. Champions of the Just
4. Last Sacrifice
5. Wrath of Heaven
6. Embrace the Light
7. Block & Slash
8. Flow of Battle
9. Pommel Strike
10. Mighty Blow
11. Shield-Breaker
12. Whirlwind
13. Vortex of Steel
14. Clear a Path
15. Challenge
16. Charging Bull
17. Gore and Trample
18. Staggering Strike or Lightning Jab (upgrade to Pommel Strike)
19. Easy Target (upgrade to Mighty Blow)
20. Earthshaking Strike
21. Shattered Ground

Active abilities:

1/ Spell Purge
2/ Wrath of Heaven
3/ Pommel Strike
4/ Mighty Blow
5/ Whirlwind
6/ Charging Bull
7/ Earthshaking Strike
8/ (focus ability / Aegis of the Rift)

See rationale in the third post.

Inquisitor 2H damage dealer alternative loadouts and spends after the full build is achieved

One option is to add back the Give Them The Boot + Easy Target pair of skills from the pre-specialization build.

22. Grappling Chain (swap with Block & Slash)
23. Give Them The Boot

Another option, if you are having difficulty with stealthy Spy enemies stabbing you in the back, is to spend 2 points in W&S. All the W&S passives work for 2H, apparently.

22. Shield Wall (throwaway skill)
23. Bear Mauls The Wolves

Two more points will get you Turn the Bolt from W&S, if you are having trouble with one-shots from enemy archers, but only works from attacks in the front cone.

GEAR

2H Weapon

The most important gear decision is the 2H weapon. You want the highest base damage as soon as possible. That usually means some kind of maul. The more buffs on the maul, the better. If you have a greatsword or greataxe with higher base damage than your best maul, use that instead.

I also recommend the Prismatic Greataxe and the Chromatic Greatsword. Both add an additional elemental damage attack on top of your normal auto-attack and have relatively high base damage as well. Some people hate the way those weapons look, but I think they're cool looking.

If you are doing a no-crafting run, I like this sequence of acquisitions. Start with whatever 2H comes to hand, trading up as soon as something with a higher base damage value comes along. Once you are level 8, go to the Forbidden Oasis and get the Verdict greatsword. That will serve until you find a better common or rare 2H between levels 10 and 11, but when you get to level 12, pick up the Prismatic Greataxe from The Storm Coast. That will tide you over until you reach level 14, when you should switch to the Rebuke of the Sunderland greataxe in Emprise du Lion. That should hold for a few levels, until at level 20 you qualify for the Sulevin Blade greatsword. From there, the best 2H are in DLCs. JoH has a couple of nice ones, so check that out.

Armor

Your choice of schematic. I tend to craft for Attack, Sunder, Stamina and Strength or Constitution buffs in the early game, in that order. As soon as I get Flow of Battle, I start crafting for Critical Chance as well. Mid to late game, I'm putting as much into Critical Chance and Critical Damage as I can, followed by Attack.

Belts

The best Guard belt available is what I usually go with, particularly for the Cass tank build. If you have one of the Belt of Urgency items to spare, you can use it on your damage dealing Templar, but I tend to prioritize giving it to the Reaver in the party, and if there is none, to the DW rogue or mage that seems to be low on health all the time. A tank shouldn't be low on health at any time, so it's wasted on a tank.

Elemental or magical defense belts can also be good on a situational basis, such as while dragon hunting.

Amulets

In the early game, I start out with Stamina, Strength or Constitution buff amulets. If there is a Cooldown amulet to spare (after prioritizing rogues and mages), that's good too. Mid-game, I like to use the Enhanced Amulet of Barrier or the Amulet of Death Syphon on a tank if I have it. The Amulet of Second Wind is good for any warrior or rogue. Otherwise, an aggression amulet is good, as well as the better versions of Stamina and Cooldown.

And I have to mention the Amulet of Physical Immunity. It's only available in Trespasser without modding, but it is awesome for a tank or any warrior. Too bad we can't have this for other DLC, it would be incredible to have a promoted Avvar Defender charge you with a shield and laugh when he doesn't knock you down. Not to mention soloing the Titan boss at the end of Descent.

Rings

Any of the Enhanced (ability) rings for damage dealing are good, like for Pommel Strike, Mighty Blow, or Whirlwind. Lacking those, I prioritize Attack, Critical Chance, and Sundering rings, in that order. Armor Penetration can also be good on a situational basis, like if dragon hunting.
Last edited by PapaCharlie9 on Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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PapaCharlie9

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#2
RATIONALE FOR THE 2H TANK CASSANDRA BUILD

Q: Can you explain the pre-specialization spend?

A: Normally, a tank's primary role is to attract aggro to take the heat off of the rest of the party. However, due to the arguably OP buff from Horn of Valor/Fortifying Blast, that has to be an AI warrior's first priority. Spamming that ability gives everyone in the party On Hit: Gain Guard, just like the Fade-Touched Masterwork, but without having to find the rare mats or waste a Masterwork slot on defense. So that's the first 5 points of the Cassandra build.

Q: B-b-but then she has no attack skills until skill point 10 (Pommel Strike)!

A: That's right. All she does is auto-attack for the first level or three after getting to Haven. HoV is worth the sacrifice. And technically, Block & Slash is acquired at skill point 8, but you're right, it kind of doesn't count as an attack skill.

Q: In the gear section you said to get the highest base damage value weapon, but wouldn't highest DPS make more sense given the lack of attack abilities?

A: Yes, that is a good point. All else being equal, if you have a greatsword and a maul of equal or close to equal base damage, take the one with the higher DPS, since most of Cass's damage will be from auto-attacks, until she picks up Block & Slash.

Q: How do you set up the AI for Cass?

A: All the usual stuff, like make sure here stamina reserve is 0, her potion use threshold is between 20% and 30%, and her healing potions reserve is 2 or 3. On top of the usual stuff, I always set my AI tank to Follow (self), so in this case, Follow Cassandra. That way, she'll pick her own targets. At the beginning of a battle, I quickly pop into Tactical to give Cass her initial target, and then never use Tactical or Pause again, the rest of the battle can go in real time.

Q: What's the note about Grappling Chain?

A: When Cass is acting as a tank and you are playing a ranged attacking character like an archer, it can be very annoying to have your target yanked away at the last second by the AI using Grappling Chain. So if you don't like that, disable Grappling Chain and remove it from the active ability slots, at least until you upgrade it to Chain for Days. That upgrade acts as a vacuum cleaner and physically sucks all nearby enemies up close and personal to your tank. So not only does Cass attract aggro from enemies, she attracts them physically as well as a kind of crowd-control (CC), making it easier to apply area-of-effect (AoE) attacks to them (assuming Friendly Fire is off). If you go for that option, make sure you re-enable Grappling Chain and put it back in the active loadout. Note that Whirlwind/Vortex of Steel takes over this function for Cass later (see below).

Q: Why Pommel Strike instead of Mighty Blow?

A: Because Pommel Strike is the more cost-effective 2H attack ability from a damage/stamina and damage/cooldown ratio standpoint, as well as having the fastest animation of any 2H attack, increasing overall damage throughput. For example, basic Pommel Strike is 300% for 35 stamina, while Mighty Blow is 200% (ignoring the specialty bonus) for 50 stamina. But even better, it stuns stunnable enemies, which not only debuffs damage throughput of the stunned enemy, helping the tank survive, it sets up the rest of the party to do combo damage. That's why the Lightning Jab upgrade is a priority, since it reduces Pommel Strikes cooldown cost. If you run up against enemies that can't be stunned, toggle over to Staggering Strike and make sure your target has some other status effect active, like Weakened or Chilled, and Staggering Strike will stun them and for longer than regular Pommel Strike.

Q: But some enemies are immune to stun and physical effects!

A: Yeah, so what? I answer in more depth in your Wrath/Purge question.

Q: Why Charging Bull?

A: The AI does a brilliant job of using Charging Bull to close to melee range, knocking enemies down like pins and gaining guard. Plus, the AI is better than humans at controlling Charging Bull (now, it used to suck, but it got patched), to the point where I've seen the AI trigger a Charging Bull for just a couple of steps, to get the knockdown/guard effects, and to get the stamina free hit after, usually Mighty Blow if it is active and enabled. Some dev wrote a nice optimization for the warrior AI to get all that right, might as well take advantage of it!

Q: Anything else about the pre-specialization build?

A: War Cry is a must for a tank, since it attracts the aggro of multiple enemies, plus the upgrade triples your armor rating for 10 seconds. Block & Slash helps your tank survive while doing a bit of damage in return. Flow of Battle is one of the best passives for any warrior, 2H or W&S, since it reduces cooldowns. Once you have it, start buffing Critical Chance. In the case of this first-stage tank build, the sooner HoV is off cooldown, the sooner the whole party gets more guard on hit.

Q: What's the overall design goal of the full build?

A: Continue to prioritize tanking and HoV spamming, but add damage dealing with the Wrath/Purge wombo-combo from the Templar skill tree.

Q: What's so good about Wrath/Purge?

A: Wrath of Heaven does direct damage, particularly to demons, but more importantly, stuns nearby enemies of all types, as long as they are stunnable. This sets up a self-combo with Spell Purge. When both skills are upgraded, the damage done by the combo can get into OP levels, as much as 5 digits of damage in an AoE. OP level damage requires some additional buffs and situational advantages, like demons both stunnable and vulnerable to spirit damage, but even without those buffs, the nominal damage done to a single demon is 300% from Wrath, plus 300% for Embrace the Light upgrade, plus 600% for Spell Shatter, plus 1200% from Rupture combo damage. So roughly 21x base weapon damage per demon in the AoE. If there happen to be 3 demons in the AoE, which is not unusual when closing a rift, you get a total of 63x base weapon damage total. For just two abilities in sequence. For enemies that are stunnable but are not demons, the 900% combined damage from Wrath does not apply, just the 1200% from the combo. The combo damage is spirit damage, so non-demon enemies vulnerable to spirit damage get an even bigger walloping.

Q: Pfft, but it only works on demons and like I said before, some enemies aren't stunnable?

A: Again, I say, so what? If you think OP only applies to abilities that are OP in all situations, fine, it's not OP then. But I think that's silly. Since most enemies are stunnable, and since you fight a lot of demons, and in some cases, the only enemies you fight are demons (like in the Fade portion of the Here Lies The Abyss quest), Wrath/Purge is a great combo to have. Besides, the combo still does 1200% to non-demon stunnable enemies as an AoE. That alone makes it worth it. Add on top the independent usefulness of Spell Purge for dispelling barriers or rift ruptures, the spend is more than justified.

Q: But all those points in Wrath/Purge means it takes forever to get Mighty Blow and Whirlwind, the signature abilities of 2H.

A: No argument, that's right. Since this is a tank design, damage dealing is secondary. I've already explained why I prioritize Wrath/Purge over other damage dealing abilities, so unfortunately, that means Mighty Blow and Whirlwind come later.

Q: Why is only Wrath of Heaven set to Preferred? Why not Spell Purge?

A: Because you don't want the AI wasting stamina Purging every random spell and status effect that wanders by. The AI fires off Wrath/Purge just fine if only Wrath is set to Preferred, as long as there is enough Stamina.

Q: What about Pommel Strike? You convinced me it's great in the pre-spec build, but you leave it out of the full build!

A: Two reasons for that. One, active slot limitations. Two, Whirlwind with Vortex of Steel has a CC benefit which replaces the Grappling Chain/Chain for Days effect. Plus, Vortex of Steel is a great way to bring enemies closer to get more total damage out of Wrath/Purge, as long as you start with a full stamina bar and have some stamina buffs. If you are fighting a single enemy where CC is not useful, you can toggle over to Rising Winds for a damage buff instead. Anyway, since Mighty Blow is a prerequisite to getting Whirlwind, it makes sense to spend the active slot on Mighty Blow instead of Pommel Strike. But if you've got skill points to spare, feel free to swap out Mighty Blow and swap in Pommel Strike.

Q: When can I stop spamming HoV?

A: It's always useful, all the way through the end of Trespasser, but if you get to an armor and defense buff level where you are no longer concerned about giving guard to the whole party, go ahead and retire it then. I usually find around XP level 16 that I can start thinking about retiring HoV spamming and recovering those skill points for more Vanguard or 2H abilities. Or, just use a different warrior, like Blackwall, as your tank, and keep Cass in reserve for demon fights and spamming HoV when you need it.

Q: Anything else about the full build?

A: Rally is one of the best non-Inquisitor focus abilities. I like bringing Cass along while dragon hunting or other boss battles. Rally is the all-in-one party-wide buff ability. It's just too bad the duration is only 15 seconds. Of course, if you have your heart set on some other active ability, like Livid, you can swap out Rally until you need it. Just make sure you aren't losing out on focus point earning, wait until all the bars are full until you swap it.
Last edited by PapaCharlie9 on Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PapaCharlie9

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#3
RATIONALE FOR THE 2H TEMPLAR DAMAGE DEALER INQUISITOR BUILD

Q: Can you explain the pre-specialization spend?

A: This is a fun build. The first 4 skill points give you a two-skill routine that never gets old. First, you Grappling Chain an enemy. The Give Them The Boot upgrade has a hilarious animation and puts enemies on the ground, a perfect setup for Mighty Blow with the upgrade bonus damage for knocked-down enemies. Just make sure you pick enemies that are not immune to physical effects. The rest of the build adds a couple of additional fun-to-play abilities, Whirlwind and Charging Bull. You can use Charging Bull to close to melee range, knock down your enemies, gain guard, and set up bonus damage for Mighty Blow. And by the way, the Mighty Blow is stamina free, thanks to Gore and Trample! Whirlwind is just fun, no explanation needed.

Q: Why use Challenge instead of War Cry as the prerequisite spend for Charging Bull?

A: It doesn't really matter, since you don't really want to use either one on a non-tank. That said, when I'm spending on a prerequisite and I have a choice, pick the one that has some rationale for being useful, even if you never have the active slot available to use it. Not having War Cry in the loadout reminds me that this character is not a tank.

Q: What's the overall design goal of the full build?

A: Wrath/Purge for demons and combo damage, every 2H ability for everything else, and Charging Bull for knockdown and a stamina-free hit.

Q: Why Wrath of Heaven and Spell Purge?

A: See "Q: What's so good about Wrath/Purge?" in post above, I don't want to repeat myself.

Q: Why Pommel Strike before Mighty Blow?

A: See "Q: Why Pommel Strike instead of Mighty Blow?" in post above, ditto.

Q: Why the Vortex of Steel upgrade?

A: See "Q: What about Pommel Strike? You convinced me it's great in the pre-spec build, but you leave it out of the full build!" in post . Trust me, I explain Vortex of Steel in that answer.

Q: Why Earthshaking Strike, particularly when it takes the last active slot away from something like Livid?

A: Because it's awesome looking? The damage is not great for the stamina cost, but who doesn't like death by lava? Plus the AoE is huge, almost like Wall of Fire, but from a warrior ability. And it makes a lot of noise, one of the noisiest abilities of any spec. If you'd really rather have Livid or whatever, that's fine, consider Earthshaking Strike optional.
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Tarshana

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#4
Okay so I decided to try this out with Cass. She is one of my favourites :D

I like her damage/controlling battlefield presence but I felt she was taking more damage than necessary? I play on Nightmare mode, so I think I need to invest in something that can sustain her longer or boost her resistances. She is great for boss fights, I have not had any issues from her there, but any time I am faced with more than three mobs she gets confused.

Thanks for the idea :)
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rayX

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#5
Lighting Jab upgrade increases the damage to 500%, not stun duration. Staggering strike is the one which lengthen the stun duration. Also, Pommel Strike with Staggering strike can stun UNstunable enemies. it is my must-to-have skill to the very end.
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PapaCharlie9

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#6
rayX wrote:Lighting Jab upgrade increases the damage to 500%, not stun duration. Staggering strike is the one which lengthen the stun duration. Also, Pommel Strike with Staggering strike can stun UNstunable enemies. it is my must-to-have skill to the very end.

Actually, both upgrades increase the stun duration, but you are right, Staggering is the better one for increasing stun. I'll fix the OP.