Nothing stops this build. Nothing! Except reincarnation …
The lives are coming thicker and faster now, I can see the light at the end of the completionist tunnel and it isn’t an oncoming train: it is the last life! Soon! Four years I’ve been on this now, four, and finally the progress bar is making actual visible progress.
Nine lives down, four to go.
I will miss this life. Not the life itself, that is a misstatement, more the build that I played this life. My Gamer Girl came up with the build, I named it the Freezer Burn, and I’ve been posting about it a lot. Truthfully I’ve been gushing more than posting, I’m completely twitter-pated, love-struck, impressed beyond impression. It is simply the most effective build I have ever played through heroic levels.
But all that is in the rear view mirror now, the completionist drum beat waits for no build. Goodbye Freezer Burn, hello Wizard life and specifically, hello Eldritch Knight.
But one must respect the traditions, and traditionally, when I finish a life I post a cap report. Build details can be found here. But this is not just about numbers. So lets talk about Mawry Haversack, Halfling Commando, in life nine:
CC++ (Crowd Control Plus Plus)
Druids have the best crowd control spell in the game (Earthquake) and all of the best persistent Area of Effect spells (Ice Storm, Wall of Fire, Storm of Vengeance). Even better, Storm of Vengeance eventually becomes a practically free spell-like ability (SLA). Best of all, two of them stack with each other and with Earthquake. Entire mobs of monsters, the full encounter, defeated for the cost of two spells. Wow.
Druid DOTs Are Better Than Cheesecake
Better even than pumpkin pie, and that is very good indeed. Unlike the Damage Over Time (DOT) spells belonging to the other classes, Druid DOTs do not stack up over multiple castings. Instead, they increase damage each time they tick, and by the end of their duration are ticking some big numbers. This is exceptionally spell-point efficient, often needing only the one spell to take out an opponent. Later in life they get one of their DOTs as a SLA meaning it costs almost no spell points at all. One-shot death, for free.
You will love your dog even as it drives you crazy
The Druid companion hireling is a wolf. Like the Artificer’s Homonculous, it starts out a tiny wolfling and grows larger as you level. You can give it equipment and train it to tank or DPS or to be a tactician. It can pull levers and open doors. I loved my wolf WonderDog, even if he had the most maddening habit of getting killed when I could least afford a sudden drop in hit points and mana.
I finally found a use for Augment Summons
Normally, hirelings and companions are super-fragile, still useful but not very long-lived. The feat Augment Summoning helps with this by boosting the stats of all of your charms, hirelings and summons, but for most builds, not enough to justify the feat slot. Druids have it better though, partly because they have the wolf, a built-in hireling that doesn’t apply against the party count limit, but even more because they get the Pack Aptitude spell which boosts all of the hirelings, charms and summonses again, by as much as +6 to one stat, which I always selected to be CON. Totally worth the feat.
Melee can be outsourced
Although I made scimitars for Mawry this life, they were really just caster boosts, one being Lightning Lore with a Magnetism augment, the other being Ice Lore with a Glaciation augment. Yes, I hit things with them, but it was more of a way to pass the time than anything I really needed to do. Druid DOTs and nuking spells are so mana-efficient that I generally ran the entire quest just casting spells. Plus, I was always accompanied by a cloud of Augmented/Aptitude boosted minions to take care of any hand-to-hand work that popped up.
Mawry having difficulty with first-person view, but absolutely no difficulty with the monsters
Dead ____ (fill in the blank) walking
The only drawback to this build (and really, it is the only drawback) is that it is tough to coordinate with other players. The DOTs give off a visual cue when you put one on a monster but there is a bit of a delay between applying the DOT and emission of the cue. Even then, it is subtle, and can be overlooked easily. The DOT’d monster is already dead, it is just going to take few seconds for the DOT to catch up and kill it. In the meantime, any melee or spellcasting done against the same monster is wasted.
This concept applied to whole groups of monsters as well as to singletons. Sometimes my Gamer Girl and I would mesh perfectly, she’d drop an AoE and I’d drop crowd control, or she’d DOT one guy and I’d DOT the other, or we would sort of hopscotch and she would totally nuke one crowd of bad guys and I would jump ahead to the next. On those occasions, wow, we were something to see, completely overpowering whatever we encountered. More often though we were AoEing the same guys or DOTing the same guys or overwriting each other’s crowd control with more of the same, wasting spell points for no real reason other than the difficulty of coordination.
And we sit next to each other in the same room.
- Solo-ability: Wow. Best solo build ever. No matter what everyone else voted. 10 of 10
- DPS: Very very good. Very good. Someone will yell at me for saying this but I think this is the best elemental nuker in the game, better even than sorcerer savant. 10 of 10.
- Party Support: Crowd control, AoE, back up healing. Not much in way of buffs, but some, and did I mention the awesome crowd control? Nice build for support. 7 of 10
- Survivability: Great saves, self-heals, resistance to specific elements. Doesn’t have the HP of a melee class, but rarely needs it. Very survivable. 8 of 10.
- End Game: Incomplete. My Gamer Girl has played her original Freezer Burn druid up to level 26 and it seems every bit as effective as it is in heroics. But we don’t do a lot of EE so I can’t say for certain. No numeric grade.
I don’t know what else to say about this character, I feel like I’ve used up all the good superlatives already. And I might add, justifiably.
This is the best part of working on completionism; the ability to dedicate an entire life to a new build and see it come to fruition, right as you end it and start afresh with something else new and different.
I’ve had some winning builds too. The dark monk was great, the iron commando tank paladin was great, the earth savant and sneak attack rogue were good, even the evasion battlecleric was fun (and surprisingly effective). Lots of experiments that turned out very, very well.
But none so amazing as the DOT caster druid. Simply amazing.
Now I get to have fun figuring out a sword-and-board DEX-build Eldritch Knight. Can I make a DEX-based hate tank? I don’t know, but I am definitely looking forward to the attempt.