Thirus’ Archery Buff/Debuff build – Mod 10.5

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by Thirus on February 3, 2017
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Thirus’ Archery Buff/Debuff build – Mod 10.5

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EDIT (21/02/17): Added Gear, Various situational setup loadouts, Mount Powers. Updated Companion information.

Hello all, thank you for taking the time to read my guide. I would like to preface it with a few points before I start.

  • This guide is primarily aimed at providing buff and debuffs in a team setting, whilst it does deal some damage, it will never be the top damage dealer, mainly because the archery paragon has some major dps flaws.
  • The points mentioned here are actually usable on a Trapper as well, simply switch to melee stance and throw some melee at-wills into the air to reset CD timers, and add a root encounter into your rotation for extra damage.
  • As with all MMOs, the usefulness of this build depends on the understanding of your team. I find it best if you make them aware that you’re buff/debuff first and foremost, before you begin running content, to avoid any accusations.

Okay, so now that’s out of the way, let’s go through some things that make this build unique and more importantly, useful.

  1. 80% Longstriders uptime means 16% (20%*80%) more damage for your entire team at all times. Not to mention the speed bonus, this is the bread and butter of the build. Note: It doesn’t matter where you are, or where your team is when Longstriders procs, they will receive the buff within a ridiculously large radius.
  2. Critical chance is a low priority, because our feats in the archery tree give us 30% critical chance as standard (when no foe is within 25 ft).
  3. You have the option of versatility. If your team are having trouble with getting one shot, you can equip fox’s cunning. If they’re squishy and getting wiped out by mobs, you can use oak skin or stag heart for some extra survivability. If they’re lambasting you for your lack of dps, you can stop using longstriders to see if they notice. Versatility.

Race

Not hugely important, but here’s a list of some that are perhaps preferable races:

Human – +2 to Ability scores is always useful, and the extra Heroic feat points.

Drow/Menzoberranzan Renegade – The debuff can come in handy, and the +2 Dex and +2 Cha/Wis are useful.

Moon elf/Sun elf – Maybe overlooked picks, but they both have +2 Intelligence, which gives us increase Recharge speed.

Wood elf – A good pick, Dex and Int, and a low amount of added Crit chance.

Dragonborn – A best pick for anyone who has it.

Ability Scores

Dexterity – Our Primary stat, contributes to damage bonus which is important.

Intelligence – Whilst you might be tempted to go for Wisdom, for Critical chance, Intelligence is more important for us because of the recharge speed. That being said, you can cope well with Wisdom instead if you’re having trouble stacking Crit.

Stat Priority

  1. Power – The most important to stack, due to our easy Critical Strike acquisition. As a note towards sudden and rising rings, I always prefer rising rings. Rising rings = 1350 Power, Sudden = 4,000 * 10/30 = 1,333. This might seem negligible, which it is, but if a fight lasts longer than 10 seconds then the likelihood is that it’s a dangerous foe, and the better prolonged power you have, the more useful you’ll be.
  2. Recovery – It’s easy to underestimate the power of Recovery, but 1,000 Recovery = 5% Increase recharge speed. This is really useful as we aim to get closer to 100% Longstrider’s uptime.
  3. Armor Pen – As standard, 60% for PVE, as high as possible for PVP.
  4. Critical Strike – Even though we have that 30% boost, we still need to get as close to/at 100%, so make sure you’re there before stacking everything else. However, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
  5. Deflection – Our aim is to simply not get hit, but everyone is at risk of getting one shot in certain scenarios, so build some deflection on the off chance.
  6. Life steal – This is not as useful as you’d expect, mainly because we are doing less hits than trapper or combat, so there are less chances to heal, but it does come in handy none the less.

Feats

Heroic:

Toughness: 3/3 – 9% max HP,
Weapon Mastery: 3/3 – 3% extra crit chance,
Battlewise: 3/3 – the less threat you build, the better,
Predatory Action: 1/5 – just there because it’s necessary,
Endless Assault: 3/3 – 6% more encounter damage,
Lucky Skirmisher: 2/3 – 2% deflect is better than none
Scoundrel Training: 3/3 – 9% more damage via at-wills to foes not targeting you, which is the aim anyway.
Disciple of Dexterity: 2/3 – 4% more damage from Dex.

Archery Paragon:

Keen Eye: 5/5 – Not terribly useful, but hopefully stamina gain will be obsolete.
Broadhead Arrows: 5/5 – 5% extra crit chance.
Quarry: 5/5 – If you’ve chosen Pathfinder, then it will give you 5% more damage.
Longshot: 5/5 – Critical hits deal 100%/300%/500% of weapon damage as Piercing on At-will/Encounter/Daily.
Unflinching Aim: 5/5 – 20% more damage from Encounters, Aimed shot decreases CD by 1 second.
Bottomless Quiver: 5/5 – 30% shorter CD, very useful.
Rising Focus: 5/5 – 5% more Crit Severity, 5% more Power, stacks 3 times for 15% more Crit severity and Power.
Stillness of the Forest: 5/5 – 10% extra damage at max range, and 25% crit chance is there are no foes around.
Predator: 1/1 – 50% additional damage, fairly straight forward.

If you chose Stormwarden, then put 5 points into Hasty Retreat instead of Quarry.

Powers

Priority Powers:

Aspect of the Falcon (Class Feat): This fits in well with our Archery feats, an extra 12′ of range, and 1% extra damage at every 5′. At extreme ranges, there is potential for an 18% damage increase.

Aspect of the Serpent / Twin Blade Storm (Class Feats): If you chose Stormwarden, then take Twin Blade Storm and use it with Electric shot for maximum effect, 16% damage increase when you hit 3 or more targets.
If you chose Pathfinder, then Aspect of the Serpent is the one for you. By using Careful attack, you’ll be building a stack of ‘serpent’, which will increase your damage by 4% per stack, when in the alternative stance.

Aimed Shot (At-will): Our main at-will, which shouldn’t leave the tray. Good damage, reduces CD on encounters because of our feats, and doesn’t take too long to cast (any more).

Electric Shot/Hunter’s Teamwork (At-will): Electric shot as mentioned above works well as an AOE in conjunction with Twin Blade Storm.
Hunter’s Teamwork is actually fairly ineffective, the target will deal less damage, but debuffing the foe’s power is usually fairly useless. Careful Attack is what we really want, it provides a de-buff to the target, and a DOT. Despite it being classed as a melee at-will, it actually acts as a range at-will.

Longstrider’s Shot (Encounter): A must have for this build, you’re providing a 20% damage buff for yourself and allies, and a 60% run speed boost (diminishing to 0) for 4 seconds.

Commanding Shot (Encounter): A very useful and overlooked encounter. In mod 10 it was changed so that instead of providing a debuff to foe damage resistance, it instead acts as a buff to your team allowing them to deal 10% more damage. Previously it worked by decreasing foe’s DR, meaning those with high enough Armor Pen wouldn’t see a difference at all.

Thorn ward (Encounter): It has a 25′ diameter, and will hit the closest enemy to the center of it every tick for 18 seconds. Each hit lowers enemy defenses, to a maximum of 20% at 10 hits (on the same target). What is fairly unique about this encounter is that it is a non-fixed DOT, so over the 18 seconds it will take into account buffs and debuffs active at each tick.

Secondary Powers:

Aspect of the Lone Wolf (Class Feat): This is the alternative to Cruel Recovery when using Pathfinder. It will give you added deflect chance, which increases depending on the number of close-by foes. Mainly used for protection when things go wrong.

Cruel Recovery (Class Feat): Much like Lone wolf, this is an alternative class feat for those who are struggling to stay alive when things go wrong.

Disruptive Shot (Daily): This didn’t go in the priority section mainly because our dailies are terrible, and so aren’t a priority. However, disruptive shot is a fairly easy one to use. Long range, quick to cast and has a daze effect (sometimes). Beware though that unless you cast it in mid-air it will move you back a couple of feet.

Forest Ghost (Daily): This is pretty much just used for getting away from foes unseen, and the extra run speed. Again, our dailies are pretty terrible.

Fox’s Cunning (Encounter): Very useful in certain situations, allows yourself and allies to dodge one attack, like a very very weak Anointed Army.

Split the Sky (Encounter): This is an often overlooked encounter, but it has a fantastic damage potential, and furthermore will apply a 40% slow on targets it hits.

Rain of Arrows (Encounter): A fairly standard AOE damage dealer in a 6′ area. I personally prefer to use Cordon of Arrows, but you may prefer the large area provided by RoA.

Cordon of Arrows (Encounter): An AOE attack like RoA, which pulls foes into the center of the zone and damages them. Another fairly standard damage dealer.

Gear: Armour, Weapon and Artifacts

Weapon Set:

Best: Trailblazer’s Longbow and Axes: 
This set is undoubtedly the best you can get, however being BIS, it can be fairly difficult to obtain and upgrade. It is probably best to be treated as an ongoing project if you’re finding it difficult to restore and upgrade, as the developers have said they want it to be BS for a few more modules.

2nd Place: Twisted Toxo and Xiphoi 
A much easier set to obtain, and is decent in it’s own right. There is potential to gain 3,840 Power over a sustained period which won’t beat the Trailblazer set, but is a solid 2nd place.

3rd Place: Howling Longbow and Axes
The Base stats of this set are identical to the Twisted set, however it lacks an offensive set bonus. The reason it gets a nod over the other 3 elemental weapons is because of it’s run speed bonus, which can be useful in tricky situations.

Artifact Set:

Demon Lord’s Immortality (Orcus): 
This set is the BIS when facing a single strong foe, averaging out at a 10% damage increase. However, there is no recovery stat in the items, and the ability scores from the belt are not useful to us. I wouldn’t recommend this set for a buff/debuff build, but if you’re looking for some extra damage then this is your best bet.

Imperial set: 
A slightly odd one, but actually fits us very well. Completely forgetting the active power, all 3 items provide recovery, adding to a total of 2,060. It has the added benefit of 25% of weapon damage as Fire damage with powers. If you really want an artifact set that fits with the buff/debuff style and a bit of damage, then this is your best choice.

Artifacts:

Sigil of the Hunter:
Luckily, our perfect artifact is our own sigil.

Symbol of Air:
Another really useful artifact, stat-wise. An extra bit of movement helps too.

Symbol of Fire: 
A fairly rare stat distribution for an artifact, giving power, defense and recovery.

Champion’s Banner: 
A very useful artifact in the right situations. For 30 seconds it will give allies a bonus to incoming healing and recovery, and make foes deal less damage. This lasts for 30 seconds, and at mythic has a cooldown of 60s. Whilst the stats don’t match what we want exactly, roughly 2,000 recovery at mythic is nothing to be laughed at, and its often rare that fights (outside of raids and T3 dungeons) last longer than 30 seconds.

Optional useful artifacts:

Heart of the Blue Dragon: 
Another useful one, providing recovery and critical strike.

Wheel of Elements: 
Another one with stats that don’t match our ideals, but there is the 30% bonus damage as fire damage which is nothing to be laughed at.

Vanguard’s Banner: 
Similar to the Champion’s banner except allies gain power and lifesteal, and foes lose damage resistance. Your allies may thank you for this one more, and can be more useful than the champion’s banner in certain situations.

Loadouts:
  1. This one is for those who don’t yet have access to higher level gear. The dusk bonus is still a decent one despite the new armors coming into the game. The Recovery shown here gives a 27.7% recharge speed decrease.

 

2. This is a slightly more endgame-centric gear loadout, with a slightly larger focus on Power. However, you could quite easily swap out the ring of Brutality for Rising Focus, or Hellig.

3. Finally, the end-game setup. Note however, both this setup and the one above include the bloodlord’s visage power bonus. This is obviously not always active, for content where it is harder to gain and maintain 25 stacks, you can swap it out for Jarl’s gaze, which is a flat 1,857 power before any added power bonus.

 

Insignia Bonuses

Click on the names of the insignia bonuses to be taken to a list of mounts that offer them.

Protector’s Camaraderie: Whenever your summoned companion attacks, gain 3% of your power and defense for 10 seconds, stacking up to 4 times for a total of 12%.

Artificer’s Persuasion: Whenever you use an artifact power, your recovery, movement, APG, and Stamina gain are increased by 10% of your power for 15 seconds.

Assassin’s covenant: Lose 10% of Defense, Deflection and Life Steal and gain a combination of the lost stats as Power.

Shepherd’s devotion: Whenever you use a daily power, your teammates Defense, Deflection and movement are increased by 5% of your power for 10 seconds.

Gladiator’s Guile: When your stamina is above 75%, you move 15% faster, when below 25% you gain 15% of your power as stamina gain.

 

Boons

Storm King’s Thunder:

Cold Hearted: 2% Life Steal Sev, +1,000 Max HP
Survival Instincts: 400 Incoming Healing Bonus, 2% Everfrost DR
Chill Determination: Upto +2,000 Recovery based on Stamina lost.
Glacial Strength: +3,200 Max HP, +2% Everfrost DR
Chill of Winter: (useless really) 10k-14k damage at 10 stacks.

Sharandar:

Dark Fey Hunter: +400 Power
Fey Precision: +1% Crit Strike
Feywild’s Fortitude: +1,600 Max HP
Elven Ferocity: Chance to deal up to 20,000 damage.
Elvish Fury: 135 power for 45 seconds, stacked up to 30 times when killing a foe.

Dread Ring:

Reliquary Keeper’s Strength: +250 Power, +250 Movement
Evoker’s Thirst: +1% life steal
Forbidden Piercing: +3% Resistance Ignored
Shadowtouched: Chance to deal up to 20,000 Necrotic damage.
Rampaging Madness/Endless Consumption: Rampaging Madness if you’re not Critical capped, otherwise Endless consumption.

Icewind Dale:

Encroaching Tactics: +400 Combat Advantage
Appreciation of Warmth: +400 Incoming Healing Bonus
Rapid Thaw: +400 Recovery
Cool Resolve: Upto +2,000 Power based on Stamina lost
Rousing Warmth: Chance when Healer (Life steal counts) to gain 3,000 bonus damage.

Underdark:

Primordial Might: +400 Power, +1,600 Max HP
Primordial Focus: +1% Crit Strike, +1,600 Max HP
Drow Ambush Tactics: +10% Combat Advantage
Dwarven Footing: Control effects -5% Duration
Abyssal Strikes: +10% damage to demons

Tyranny of Dragons:

Dragon’s Claws: +400 Power
Dragon’s Gaze: +1% Crit Strike
Draconic Armorbreaker: +400 Armor Pen
Dragon’s Greed: +1% Life steal
Dragon’s Fury: +5/6.5/8% Crit Severity

Maze Engine:

Abyssal Siphoning: +5% Life steal Sev
Demonic Influence: +400 Combat Advantage
Demonic Swiftness: +3% APG
Baphomet’s might: Chance to gain 2,000 Crit Strike for 6 seconds. Or go for Displace Fate if you’re crit capped.

Elemental Evil:

Wave of Force: +300 Power, +2,000 Max HP
Heart of Stone: +4% Life steal Sev, +2,000 Max HP
Blazing Resilience: +400 Recovery, +2,000 Max HP
Wall of Wind: Chance to heal up to 24,000 HP when damaged and 1,000 Recovery for 10 seconds

Companions

Con Artist/Sellsword: Fantastic summoned companions. Con artist grants +300 Crit strike, and Sellsword +300 Power. Pick based on your current Crit Strike.

Owl: It’s VERY Important to keep your threat generation as low as possible to ensure you are at least 25′ from an enemy.

Hunting Hawk: Essentially a slightly weaker version of Aspect of the Falcon, really useful to have.

Earth Archon: +6% damage bonus when you’re at full health, and it’s a defender companion which is very useful for solo content.

Air Archon: +5% damage bonus against targets not at full health.

Notable mentions:

Dancing Blade: +5% Critical Severity

Erinyes of Belial: +10% Critical Severity

War Dog: -9.1% Threat, and a defender companion.

Rust Monster: Foe damage debuffer and 5% foe defense debuffer

Laughing Skull: +500 Power and +500 Recovery for 25 seconds at the start of combat is a very decent stat bonus.

Harper Bard: The Active bonus isn’t fantastic, but if you can get your hands on a Harper bard it will serve you a lot better personally than a con artist or sellsword.

Rotation and Play style

The Rotation is relatively simple:

  • Open with Longstriders shot,
  • Hit Hawk eye on melee tab,
  • Hit Careful attack whilst still on melee tab.
  • Fire Commanding Shot,
  • Fire Hawk Shot,
  • Aimed Shot until your Longstriders is back up,
  • From then on, re-apply Commanding shot after about 10 seconds,
  • re-apply Careful attack every time you apply Hawk eye,
  • Continue to use your at-wills until Longstriders is available, and use that at every opportunity.

The play style takes some getting used to.

  • Aim to stay as far away from the action as possible. This is both the biggest downside of Archery and biggest upside. You gain damage from Aspect of the Falcon but you lose any buffs from your team.
  • Keep aware of your surroundings and make sure you’re 25′ away from the nearest foe. It will keep your Critical strike high.
  • Make sure you’re familiar with different class’ play style, so that you can better buff them at the right time.
  • Longstrider’s is a useful tool not just for damage, but also increasing run speed when you or your team need to move. Pay attention to AOE attacks around them, and anticipate when they might need to move.
  • Keep on the move yourself. Staying in one position for too long sounds, in theory, fine, but your allies and foes move around, and so constantly re-evaluate your position on the field, and attempt to re-position to get the best view of the fight, and distance from it.

Final Notes

Playing Archery is an often thankless role, people aren’t often aware of the buffs/de-buffs you provide aside from Longstriders. This is why it’s important to run in a team or guild that knows where your strengths lie. This build is definitely not a DPS lacking one, it has potential but you will not out-dps a similarly geared GWF, Trapper/CmB HR, SW or CW at high tiered game play.

However, it really comes into it’s own at lower tier play. None of the buffs on show require any amount of Power or Crit to be effective, so theoretically your team will benefit from it all just the same at 1.6k GS or 4.2k GS.

All in all, play around with the build and figure out which encounters work best for you. Some of you may wish to take a more dps heavy role, in which case there are some good damage dealing encounters in the Secondary powers section.

I hope this guide has helped, if you have any questions, please put them in the comments and I will try to answer them.

Regards,

-Thirus

 

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  • Profile photo of Thirus
    February 5, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Quick point: The point about Hawk eye damage bonus and DOT attacks is wrong, actually it won’t last for the duration of the DOT attack.

  • AndyPants
    March 3, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Could you post a screenshot of your skill tree?

    • Profile photo of Thirus
      March 7, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Hi, sorry for the late reply.

      I will post as soon as I get my wifi back up and running.

      • AndyPants
        March 15, 2017 at 2:18 am

        One other thing… I couldn’t find your suggestions for weapon enchantments? Any tips?

        • Thirus
          April 1, 2017 at 1:13 pm

          Weapon enchantments are a difficult one at the moment with Mod 11 coming out soon, so I’m going off what I’ve read rather than personal experience.

          Lightning: The best for increased recharge speed, from what I’ve seen the extra damage is fairly useful too. Although, I’d be cautious about the extra threat on target foes that haven’t been aggro-ed by your teammates yet. It requires a fairly high threat reduction to balance it’s usefulness.

          Plague Fire: Not a great damage dealer due to our limited weapon damage, but it has a debuff that surpasses terror.

          Frost: The best debuff enchantment, and the slow effect will help with threat generation, as it gives your teammates extra time to re-aggro the foes.

          Feytouched: The best dps enchantment out of this list, and best foe damage reduction. Probably offset by it’s large cost, and essentially requires transcendent to be completely reliable.

          Holy Avenger: Interesting mix of dps and ally survivability. Useful if you run with squishy dps, or support that aren’t quite up to par.

          Terror: Cheap, effective debuff, low-mid range dps. A good starter weapon enchantment, if the others are out of your price range.

          Personally, I’d go for Frost or Lightning, depending on what your recovery is like. If you’re not having any trouble with recharge speed, then frost is a good bet.

  • Khristopher
    March 4, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    My question is about the earth archon and air archon companions. Right now I have another earth defender companion and a water archon which seems to be a rather useful combination. Is it essential for me to have exactly the earth and air archons? Also, is there an easier way to get them than playing the market? It seems the earth archon is waaaay too expensive on the market (green tier over 400k diamonds) and the air archon is no better. Any suggestions?

    • Profile photo of Thirus
      March 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Hi, sorry for the late reply.

      The water archon unfortunately has a very limited use active bonus, you effectively get 1 hit at 6% bonus, and then it serves no further purpose. Whereas the Air archon will give the same bonus on everything after 1 hit. The Earth archon is particularly useful for this build because for the majority of it, you should be away from the fighting and therefore at full health fairly often.

      However, as you say they are fairly expensive. Personally if you were to forego the Earth and Air archon combo, then I’d choose a war dog and one of the crit severity companions like erinyes of belial or the dancing blade. Siege master is another option too.

      As for getting them, they do drop from various T2 and T3 dungeons, but aside from that it’s lockboxes or the AH unfortunately.

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