Welcome to my guide on deck building! This guide aims to show you a few possible options that you can use for your decks, and is by no means a guide to show you the ultimate way, in fact, there is no best way to build a deck, as it depends on you and your playstyle, so try them out, find what is comfortable for you, and in the end, go for what suits YOU best, that you are the most comfortable, and feel free to tweak it the way that you want. Free Attack VS Auto Attack The choice between Free-Attack and Auto-Attack will usually have 2 deciding factors.: 1. Personal Preference (Some people can’t stand one type or the other, so they can choose whichever they like). 2. Situational.: The Situational factor will depend either on the type of deck you are using, if you are using a stacking Deck, you might want to use Free attack for the extra *OOMPH* you can get while stacking your glyphs, meanwhile a hybrid deck might require you to focus more on your abilities, so using auto-attack will give you 1 less thing to think about (and will be more efficient anyways). It could also depend on the current combat situation, i.e. if you are fast with your key binds, then you run out of focus, you go into free attack mode, or if it is your “Sneak Attack”, you will want a fully charged up Free attack/Sneak attack glyph. Free attacks also benefit some weapons more than others. You will notice that while you are "Charging" your free attack, some weapons have more stacks than others, and will then result in a better damage boost from the charging. ex.: Daggers can only stack 2 times, so they will only hit for about 103% of an auto attack. ex.2: The Crossbow of Accuracy can stack 11 times, so a fully charged free attack will attack for about 433% of an auto attack. This means the Crossbow of Accuracy benefits far more from charging a free attack than daggers, but it also takes a bit more time. Cards VS Heat The choice between the cards system or the heat system will often depend on personal preference, but in my opinion, it should mostly depend on the kind of spell you are casting. Hybrid Decks will be my deck of choice for most situations, but I will elaborate more on that later. The heat system looks a bit more like your traditional MMO combat bar, skills on your bar, you cast it, it goes on cooldown. Pros : - The skill is always available (unless on cooldown, like mentionned) -Cooldown is for 1 glyph at a time, if you have 5 available glyphs for the skill, you can cast it 5 times before it is 100% on cooldown. -Charging your skill is very easy, hold the key, wait for it to stack, and release Cons : -Each additional cast while a glyph is already on cooldown will cost more focus, and this becomes exponentially pricier in focus for each "glyph" on cooldown -You can't have more than 1 skill in that slot, that slot is locked to that skill and that skill only. The card system will result in spells being given to you as if you were drawing cards from a deck to your hand : Randomly, and one after another. Pros : -The skill will never increase in focus cost due to it being on cooldown from a previous cast -You can have multiple skills in the same slot, so you can have much more than 10 skills on your bar -You can use Free attacks without impacting your stacking of skills. Cons : -You don't always have the skill available, so this can be bad in a life or death situation. -Stacking to increase power is a bit more complex. -In certain deck setups, you can end up looking at your combat bar more than the actual combat. Types of glyphs v Defensive Buffs – These skills serve as a main purpose to allow you to survive longer, with a smaller Priority counter. These spells can be cast before each engage or refreshed from time to time during prolonged fights. o Defensive Stance, Elemental Shields v Offensive Buffs – These buffs will be mostly situational, Berserker’s stance is one I use when I know I am fighting small packs which I can dispatch quickly, or when fighting 1 enemy which I am not afraid of it’s damage potential (like trolls, which you can pretty much dodge 95% of their attacks) o Berserker’s Stance, Inner Strength, Flurry v Instant Buffs – You want these on a fast access rotation! I try to have as many as possible available and cast them as soon as they pop-up in my bar. o Dodge, Glancing Blow, Parry, Deflect v Long Duration buffs – Cast only from time to time, their long duration allows you to cast and forget, I usually recast them while I recover after a few fights, or when their effect wears off. These don’t need to go in your main deck, your Out-of-Combat bar is more than fine for these. o Strength of the Earth, Night Vision, Light, Celestial Blessing, etc... v Healing – These will highly depend on your play style. I use Healing over time skills, so I only need 1 slot with the spells I use on rotation, meanwhile if you use more healing spells like healing touch and healing ray, you might want to have some locked and some unlocked. o Life tree, Soothing Rain, Elysian Illumination v Movement Skills – I try to have one of these on my combat bar at all times, might it be for quick re-engage, a quick disengage, or Blink to not break spellbinders stance but simply jump out of an Area of Effect spell. o Body Slam, Engage Opponent, Blink v Offensive Skills / Spells – Pretty much what you need to fight. I will usually have 2-3 slots if not more, depending on the kind of enemy I fight and the necessity of each spell. I will go over these in more depth later. o Main Damage Skills o Spam-able Abilities o Disruption/Debuff v Situational Skills / Spells – These will mostly depend on your current “Build” or the current area you are fighting. You don’t need death spells if you are fighting in a zone with 90% undead, meanwhile you don’t need banish undead in a 90% living enemies zone. This is more of a “Plan ahead” category. o Opportunity Strike, Aetheric Feedback, Banish Undead/Death spells v Potions / Poisons – These should ALWAYS be in your passive bar. You can use them while in combat, and since you can do that, you do not want them taking space away in your combat bar for everything else! o Health/Focus Potions o Poison o Haste Potion v Summons – Same as Potions & Poisons, and Long duration buffs. You should usually not have to recast these too often, and if you do, you can do it from the passive bar, so why block a combat bar slot? o Magical / Pet v Music Sheets – Same as potions & Poisons! v Recovery Skills – These will be used in between encounters, so you can leave them on your passive bar, if you want to use them that is! o Cocoon of night, Torpor, Passive Stance Types of Decks i. Stacking Deck Attack style: Free Attack This deck has 1 main purpose, stack your glyphs to 5(or 6) and then release! To that end, you will not necessarily be casting all that often, which means you have the time to Click & Hold your attack key (or LMB) to release as powerful blows as possible. A deck like this will usually have 2 to 6 slots entirely dedicated to stacking, usually by pairs (so Key 1-2 are for Skill A, 3&4 are for skill B and 5&6 are for skill C) and the rest for buffs or healing spells. One of the best classes for this Deck option is Archer, as they can get very powerful Free-Attacks, and their skills will benefit very well from stacking, meanwhile they have no reason to be attacking in rapid succession. ii. Heat Deck Attack Style: Hybrid This deck will mostly be the main transitioning point for people used to games like WoW or the sort, as this is what people are used to: 1 slot, 1 skill, press and cast. Only 2 adaptation points are that you can recast the skill/spell right away if you have the skill at level 10 or higher, but can be caught up will cooldown afterwards, and 2nd point is that you can press & Hold for more power. The Auto attack style will fit more for this deck style as you can pretty much spam abilities until you run out of focus, so you would prefer having your attention on using your abilities than on charging up an attack, but you can mix it up and use free attack if you enjoy it or if you run out of focus. I would recommend having at least 2 defensive/Offensive buffs, 1 instant buff, 1 healing, and then the rest is up to personal preference! iii. Hybrid Deck Attack Style: Auto Attack The End goal in my opinion! This Deck style will allow you to have as many skills/spells as you need for most situations and allows a lot of adaptability! This deck style will allow you to chose what you need available at all times, what you can have on a rotation, what you need to stack, and what you can simply spam! This deck system can be adapted very easily to your own playstyle, but I will give out a few tips and tricks that will give you a good head start! Here is a picture of my 2 main decks I use currently (I am having fun in Chillblain’s, but these 2 decks can be easily adapted to any zone) Now before I go through my bars, I want to point out that I put the key binds on the screen from 1-10 to make things simple, but I have 2 key bind suggestions for those who don’t want to run around their keyboard pressing “0” (unless you have crazy long fingers you monster!) or those who would default down to using their mouse to press the skill (A little bit more finger movement might do you some good! Useful exercise!) my two options are: a. My brain is already programmed, so I will stretch my index a lot: o This will group up your skills and spells a lot closer to WASD, so you don’t have to run a marathon to cast some spells! v 1 > Q v 2 > E v 3 > R v 4 > F v 5 > T v 6 > 1 v 7 > 2 v 8 > 3 v 9 > 4 v 0 > 5 b. I might mess up a few times but bring it on: o With this set-up, you will need to change WASD > ESDF, but this will allow your pinky and ring finger (or whatever that big guys name is) to become far more useful! v 1 > A v 2 > Q v 3 > W v 4 > R v 5 > T v 6 > G v 7 > 1 v 8 > 2 v 9 > 3 v 0 > 4 I am a 1Handed Spear + Shard of Night/Wand Combatant with a mixed set of armor to fit my needs, currently using a chain chest piece. Here is a breakdown of my slots: 1. Body Slam (Movement): I keep this skill locked, not because I want to charge it, but because I want to be able to use it whenever the need comes up. Fighting multiple ranged enemies which can slow me down and then run away, this is what allows me to keep up and make sure that I am always within fighting range. 2. Meteor Shower (Situational): Now for Chillblain’s, I use a Heat system Meteor Shower for 2 reasons, 1. I want to be able to charge it to 5 Stacks at every wave and 2. Since its waves of enemies coming at me, this spell helps me out a bunch by dealing lots of damage over time in an area, which helps me spend less time on each enemy as I clear the wave. 3. Glancing Blow/Parry/Absorb Impact (Instant Buffs): These are my cast on cooldown skills. I use the Cards system for these, all in the same slot, for X reasons. 1, These will help my survivability immensely, so casting them as they come up is great for their initial cast buff. 2, They all serve the same purpose, give me a very short defensive buff, meaning if I press the that key bind, I know what the outcome will be. 3, Having 2-3 of these means I can throw out multiple types of them without paying attention to the hot bar, because they will eventually just refresh each other, and I doubt after 6 casts I’ll only have cast 1 of them. 4. Puncture (Main Damage skill): I use this skill on the card system and alone as this is my bread and butter. I know that by pressing this key bind I get precisely this skill, and since I put 6 copies of it, I will be casting it as often as possible (which is my goal). 5. Banish Undead (Situational): The first floor of Chillblain’s is infested with Undead and banish undead is an AMAZING skill for these. I keep my usage of the life tree to a minimum, but this is one of the 2 skills that I won’t pass up on using from this tree. Now in another zone, this skill wouldn’t necessarily be used, thus the Situational tag. I often use this slot for Opportunity Strike when using a light armor Chest piece paired with Dodge as an instant-buff, or Aetheric Feedback when I group hunt and become a pure caster. Depending on the skill(s), I change this slot from a card system to a heat system, depending on what glyph will be there (opportunity strike and Aetheric feedback being a lot more on the spot skills, I use heat system for these, meanwhile Banish undead will be mostly used unlocked to spam it when I can). 6. Leg Sweep, Pull, Offhand Attack (Spam-ables/Disruption Skills): This is my other slot which is focused on damage, with abilities that I can spam (offhand attack) and might disrupt the enemy (trip effect, pull effect), I want to be able to use these as often as possible, but I don’t care which one of the 3 will come up, so I pair them together and let the heart of the cards do it’s magic! 7. Berserker’s Stance (Offensive Buff): I use this in the first 3 rooms of Chillblain’s since the enemies encountered in those 3 rooms are very weak and don’t pile up too good, so I am not afraid of their damage potential, thus I simply focusing on quickly dispatching them. 8. Defensive Stance (Defensive Buff): This is a skill I will want to use every 50-60 seconds to always have up once I start needing it. I leave it locked so I don’t end up regretting not using it a bit earlier and end up not having the instant refresh for it when need be. Its buff is very useful and became some sort of necessity for me. 9. Soothing Rain / Healing Grace (Healing Spells): Since I use Healing over Time, I put these two on a rotation together. I try to always keep one up and running at all times, but they rotate quickly so I don’t mind if I end up casting soothing rain twice before casting healing Grace. This is far more a personal playstyle option than a recommended option, for people who rely on healing more, I would suggest swapping out the offensive buff for a 2nd slot of healing spells. 10. Shield of Ice (Defensive Buff): This skill has a high enough duration to not require constant refreshing, but is extremely necessary nonetheless, which means it earns its own locked slot. I want to be able to cast this whenever I decide to, so a Card system isn’t an option, and it can happen that I need to refresh it mid-fight, so it needs to be on my combat bar. And then you have the Alternate Deck, for the 2nd floor of Chillblain’s: I will go over the abilities that changed, because those that have stayed the same have the same reasoning behind them: 1. View Deck 1 2. Corpse Explosion (Situational): Now I swapped Meteor Shower out for this as in floor 2 I will not encounter undead, there’s a lot more enemies per wave, and they pile up in the same spot often, so Corpse Explosions massive damage becomes a blessing during these waves. 3. View Deck 1 4. View Deck 1 5. Discharge (Situational): So, I took out banish undead because there is not much undead to banish on the 2nd floor, and I have been testing out Discharge for 2 reasons, 1, The stun can be fun! 2, The AoE around me is very good considering a lot of the enemies will be sitting on me to hurt me as much as possible. 6. View Deck 1 7. View Deck 1 (Now note that I haven’t really gotten to changing this one out, but obviously I don’t end up using it unless I’m cleaning up the last enemy in a wave. I would swap this one out for a healing spell usually! 8. View Deck 1 9. View Deck 1 10. View Deck 1 Now as you can see, Deck 1 & 2 have pretty much the same core, and just see a few situational spells switched around. The reason for that is simply that I pretty the easiness of just changing decks as I change floors, and since I don’t need a buff deck or ANYTHING else, just having them as alternates means I can keep on running the dungeon all while staying out of the menus! Now for the final picture, my Passive Bar which is very important! So, my current set up (and I play around a lot with this one) will allow me to be efficient in combat, but also out of combat, and these skills can be swapped out with others at moments notice if I end up doing something entirely different for the night. 1. Cocoon of Night (Recovery Skill): This is mostly to speed up my healing while I am out of combat if needed. I’ll be honest, I’ve used this one maybe twice, and simply to try it out. Most zones I adventure I will simply stand still, weapons sheathed, while I sort me inventory or check something else, so It is not a necessity 2. Music Sheet: I use both Fleet flute and Invigorating harp, and since I can use a sheet of music from the passive bar during combat, I leave it there as I can use it any time! 3. Corpion Poison: I use poisons a lot with my playstyle, so I want an easy access to it, and the Passive bar is perfect as it can still be used while in combat, so I don’t use up a combat deck slot. Talk about effectiveness! 4. Dash: Mostly a movement buff while out of combat, I hate moving slowly so I needed this here as a personal preference! 5. Strength of the Earth (Long Duration Buff): 20 something minutes? I can cast and forget this! But since I am a lazy bastard, I don’t want to go back in my spell book every time to cast it, so I leave it here, on the passive bar! I can use it to refresh it between encounters, and it will not use up a combat slot, where it would be completely pointless considering I don’t need to think about it for 20 minutes after using it! 6. Night Vision (Long Duration Buff): Same explanation as Strength of the Earth, Cast and forget, but I am lazy and want an easy access to it! 7. Summon Water Elemental: Now this guy… It is hugely dependent on enemy AI, but sometimes this guy can stay alive for a few hours, other times for a few seconds… Since it can be cast DURING COMBAT from the passive bar, no use in using a combat slot for this guy, but since he can die in a matter of seconds, I want to be able to re-summon him asap. 8. Potion of health, imbued: Quick cast healing, which can be done during combat from the passive bar? You’ve got an answer there! 9. Potion of health, Greater: Since it doesn’t share its cooldown with the imbued version, this is a great secondary emergency healing skill, once again, during combat, from passive bar, blahblahblah! 10. Potion of Focus imbued: I think you’ve heard the reason enough… As you can see, I use the passive bar mostly for extra skills during combat, or for things I will cast often, but which don’t need a combat deck slot due to their accessibility to be cast *Points the mic to the crowd* “DURING COMBAT, FROM THE ACTION BAR” (let’s imitate Dora here, as my son keeps watching it, so it is pretty in the moment: “YOU DID IT!”) or simply because their duration is way too long to use a combat slot dedicated to that 20 minutes long spell! This pretty much wraps up my guide on how to use deck systems effectively! Now I only went in depth with the Hybrid deck style as this is the more complex of the 3, and in my opinion the end goal for any SotA hunter out there, as the other two deck types have more of a niche utility. When you get used to this deck system, you can pretty much run without a “Buff Bar” as there is no need for any extra buffs anywhere and using the Passive bar to it’s full potential allows you always know what you will be doing with every key press and have as many skills available to you at one time without forcing you to look at your bar.