The holidays were a very productive time for my DDO Experience, filled with lots of giddies and squee. Amongst them, my crazy build idea for a melee-focused paladin/artificer build capped out his Heroic life, so I figured I’d share some of the thoughts from it with you.
Paladins are renowned for their passive defenses. Saving throws that are through the roof, passive immunities to a number of things, and added defenses against evil are just part of the joys. However, paladins are also renowned for having poo in the ranged damage category; the idea was to blend in artificer for the heavy repeater use and rune arm free damage with Knight of the Chalice for melee offense.
The Build (Summary)
Melee was the prime target; enhancement-wise, I stacked in the entire Hand-And-A-Half Training line from Battle Engineer (as well as Haste Boost) alongside Dwarven Weapon Training: Axes and Throw Your Weight Around. At all times in melee he swung a dwarven war axe and kept the rune arm charged up with Combat Mobility from Tier 5 in Battle Engineer. The constant availability of Tier 3 rune arm blasts (which quickly moved up to Tier 5 in extended fights) added nice bursts to damage output. Additionally, the core abilities from Knight of the Chalice added light damage to all targets and bane damage to evil targets, which also applied to the heavy repeater. Yes, that is correct. While primarily melee-focused, I splashed in Point Blank Shot and Improved Critical: Ranged Weapons to give the repeater added punch. Spell-wise, the only truly important ones were Elemental Weapons (because, extra damage), Lightning Sphere (even though the spell claims there’s a saving throw, there isn’t one) for tactical control of the battlefield, and of course Holy Sword and Zeal for additional weapon power and a 10% sacred bonus to doublestrike.
The stacks to melee damage are absolutely insane. Also, I’m not 100% positive if it’s a passive artificer feat I overlooked, but switching from axe/rune arm to repeater/rune arm occurs significantly faster than does weapon/weapon, weapon/shield, or two-handed weapon and bow. One would think it would be the other way around, but there it is. I found myself constantly hopping between gunning and hacking, often firing off the rune arm (as a free action!) during the animation to keep the onslaught going. It happened so much, I started naming the build “DDO May Cry” after the seminal game series Devil May Cry. The light and bane damage from Knight of the Chalice applying to the repeater just made things that much sweeter, and damage stacks grew ridiculously long. Stir in a Haste Boost for bursts with Exalted Smite Evil’s comically huge crits, and ridiculous just got retardankulous. (Yes, that’s a scientific measurement. –Ed.) Offense is one thing this build is definitely not lacking in, and unlike your average paladin, running ain’t gonna save you…. just turn you into hamburger instead of steaks.
Cons & Take-Aways
Before I get down to it, let me begin by saying many of these cons are things I learned along the way, or from reflection, and a lot of these can be easily solved. Think of these more as “potential” pitfalls to steer away from, more than actual faults of the build. Things I would do differently if I were to replay it again (which I very well might).
The first thing I noticed was that Orsyn’s healing was definitely not up to par compared to any of my other paladins. My pure paladins almost never need any external healing to hang around (see: two level 12’s in Elite Friends in Low Places with no hirelings in this post). Orsyn was fine with self-heals in most groups, but when it came to soloing, keeping up became problematic. Some quests required the use of (gasp!) a hireling to keep him up. In retrospect, I would have kept a Devotion item slotted – likely a Shamanic Fetish in the trinket slot and swap it out for the Treasure Hunter’s Spyglass when needed for trapping.
Speaking of trapping – even with skill points kept capped on Disable Device and Search, that isn’t enough on Elite. For Normal and Hard trapping, Orsyn rocked it all the way to 20. Elite trapping began to suffer around levels 16/17 in the Vale, when he needed Greater Heroism to keep blowing up force trap boxes to a minimum. This was almost certainly attributable to the best Disable Device item he had being only a +10 and the fact his attribute points were spread so thin (see below). The auction house on the Orien server has been noticably blank when it comes to disabling items – even a +5 commands prices in the 75K range, if you’re lucky to spot one before it’s snatched up. With a little better gear, perhaps a past life or two under the belt and maybe a tome, this aspect would likely be glossed over. Also of note is that the Search was never an issue (see: all Spyglasses on-hand from 8 through 20), just the disabling.
The biggest problem with the build was that it was, in all honesty, just plain too ambitious for a first-lifer. There were precisely zero (0) dump stats. Everything is needed everywhere almost constantly. Strength for to-hit and damage (before TYWA is unlocked), Dex for ranged to-hit, reflex saves, and a small AC boost, Con because duh, Intelligence for skill points, spell points, and trappability (yes, that’s a word. –Ed.), Wisdom for spell points, being able to cast as a paladin period and will saves, and Charisma for boosts to all saves and Lay on Hands burst heals. On a first-life toon with no tomes, these were all scraping by on the skin of their teeth. Even without major ability boosts, however, the offensive damage onslaught was more than enough to blitzkrieg the crap out of the Vale and bring pain to Shavarath (although the latter was on hard, I’m not that much of a masochist to try and solo Shav on Elite). That being said, a few past lives for passive boosts, more ability points, and some tomes would most likely make the world of difference in making this build a force to be seriously reckoned with.
A Brief Sidebar on Rune Arms
Also of note – this is barely noticeable to anyone who has played an artificer before, but for those that haven’t – acquire a few rune arms before playing the palificier artadin, or any artificer, for that matter. Having the rune arm ready and waiting makes life significantly easier. It’s always sad watching a level fourteen arti wandering about still wearing Thought Spike because they haven’t gotten anything better. Note that every rune arm on this list is Bound to Account, so it’s easy to grab them on a high-level toon and pass them over to be ready and waiting. My personal checklist for “must-have” Heroic rune arms is as follows (as well as where to get them):
- Thought Spike (level 2), Redemption turn-in on Korthos
- Khyber’s Fury (level 5), Assault on Splinterskull (a.k.a. Tangleroot) arc end reward
- The Pea Shooter (level 7), Red Fens arc end reward
- Recoyle (level 9), The Ruins of Threnal arc end reward (note every 3rd completion populates the entire list of named loot, and that defending Coyle in the library is practically an auto-complete now)
- Corruption of Nature (level 15), Song of Druid’s Deep arc-end reward and/or Outbreak end chest
- Lucid Dreams (level 19), The Mindsunder disc-locked chest and/or 3rd completion reward
Super-ultra important note: the minimum levels are minimum character levels, not artificer levels. With two levels of artificer, a multiclassed toon can equip every rune arm in the game provided they’re high enough total level.
As with anything, rune arms are a largely personal choice. Experienced arti players will note the strong preference towards acid and force damage (more vulnerable targets) and single-target damage as opposed to AOE effects (only Khyber’s Fury in the above list is an AOE). Again, preference – if you like AOE effects, then farming Strinati’s Hand Cannon (level 5) or finding one on the auction house is a beautiful one for low-level toons.
First and foremost, I’d like to see how Orsyn does in the “entry-level” Epics, which will start with him in Unyielding Sentinel. I have no illusions about his current status attempting Epic Elite and will probably break his “epic virginity” on The Snitch, Epic Normal to test the waters, and see how things go from there.
I’d also like to keep him around in the Epics long enough to score enough materials to make a Green Steel Dwarven War Axe for his next life – and yes, I fully intend to try the same build again, with some minor tweaks as mentioned above. The Paladin past life will give a little boost to healing amplification that might make things a little easier. I’ll be sad to see the uber-ultra-psychotically-impossibly rare unbound (!!!!) Archaic Device that was donated by a friend get put back in the bank for later, but it is what it is.
I’ll also farm some Eveningstar challenges to see about landing a good Cormyrean heavy repeater with paralyzing, because, paralyzing. Those don’t take long at all, however, but the end result is a bit of the luck of the draw, so we’ll see how long my patience holds out. Also, as Orsyn is a bit of a “solo” project for the most part, his time may be reduced to feed into Uncle Tubbs’ new mission that’s burning a hole in his slippers.
All in all, if you have a free slot and are willing to throw caution to the wind, I’d advise you to give the Palificer Artadin a whirl on a favor blitz. You never know – you might get just as enamored with it as I did.
Happy Slaying, 2015!