Mage Builds

Discussion in 'Skills and Combat' started by Lazlo, Sep 20, 2020.

  1. Lazlo

    Lazlo Avatar

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    I remember seeing some guides on the forums for the different melee schools and ranged, but I don't recall seeing a whole lot about various mage builds. There are so many different mage builds that I thought I'd make a thread for it and people can add their own. You don't have to use the same format that I do, but feel free to if you want.

    I currently play a chaos/death mage, so that will be my contribution. It's worth noting that I'm not in a guild and mostly do my own thing in SotA, and I also don't do a very good job of keeping up with new developments. So while I've hopefully provided some useful information, don't assume that there aren't other important things that I'm not aware of, because it's quite likely that there are.

    Chaos/Death Mage

    General Modis Operandi:

    The chaos/death mage build is centered around chaotic feedback, which can be used to draw and use skills very quickly, and death magic, which can be used to regain life lost to chaotic feedback and anything else. It is a relatively powerful build, but also very limited. It can produce a reasonable amount of damage, both single target and AE, and is also extremely durable. On the other hand, it's completely useless against undead mobs, which means that it needs at least 1 back up build in order to be viable in many places. This is a good build for farming artifacts, but can be a little challenged sometimes when it comes to grinding out pure adventure xp.


    In general, gearing a chaos/death mage is just like anything else. You just wear whatever gives you the highest damage without getting you killed. One thing that makes it a little different from other mages is that death has the option of going very heavy because death specialization gives a ton of -fizzle to death magic. You can wear full plate if necessary and still easily cast all death magic at high level. My most common gear configuration is white iron plate chest with dolus hood, cloth armor, and dual wands. Cloth chest can provide a lot of extra damage when you can get away with it, and plate armor can provide a lot of extra health and damage resist when necessary.

    Lich/attunement rings and warlock chain are no brainers, but there are different belts and wands that are better for different situations. Zombie skin belt is better than sage's sash when using only death magic for damage, and sage's sash is better when also using other magic schools for damage. Thunder branches and Vexlyn's ember are both better than normal wands when integrating air or fire magic. Even though those wands aren't made for death magic, you can still socket them with necromancy jewels and enchant them with +death attunement and +death ray damage. You lose the base damage bonus of a crafted wand, but in return you get 10 intelligence and a ton of attunement under soft cap in a second school. Both fire and air complement chaos/death pretty well, but thunder branches are a whole lot cheaper than vex wands, so that's what I use when not using straight death.

    It's worth noting that using a shield is somewhat less viable for death mages than some other mage builds, because it cuts down damage a lot due to loss of death ray masterwork in addition to all the other +damage on a wand. Less damage also means less healing, so you also give back some of the defensive gains that you get from a shield. Shields are still pretty useful for stun resist and blocking some attacks like dragon fire, but it's pretty rare that they're useful enough to actually be the best thing to use for a chaos/death mage.

    Edit: I forgot to mention that chest enchantment is pretty important. The near death bonus enchantment is pretty useful. The name is a little deceptive, because death magic damage scales based on health whether you're near death or not. Even when you're at 90% life, your death magic will do more damage than when at 100%. Also, the corpse explosion chest enchantment looks great, but it doesn't work, and never has afaik, so it should be avoided.

    Edit 2: When I wrote this, I was unaware that ancient staff of death was apparently recently changed and can now be masterworked and socketed. That makes it a lot better than normal death wands given that you can get more attunement and also get a big pet damage boost.

    Deck Construction:

    Most of the decks that I use when playing chaos/death are very simple, but they are a little different than most builds in that you use a lot more glyphs. The reason for that is that if you don't, you'll simply run out of glyphs and be left just standing there doing nothing because you already cast your whole deck. The basic idea is to have 1 or 2 unlocked slots with damage glyphs, short term buffs, and any debuff that's useful for the situation. The locked slots are for longer buffs and situational skills that require more control of timing. You may also have a slot or slots set up for dynamic stacking and locking of skills like corpse explosion, ring of fire, or chaotic feedback.

    Tap soul is also a very important part of any chaos/death deck. At high level with spec, it's basically free focus that draws and casts almost instantly and refreshes very quickly. I usually just put tap soul into the unlocked pool and adjust as needed, but you can also lock it and spam your focus up super quickly. For most things, just having a couple of tap soul glyphs in my deck is enough to have sustainable focus, but when using death field or air magic a lot, adding them all in is sometimes necessary, especially when running around a lot.

    The deck that I currently use vs. dragons is as follows:

    Death Shield
    Chaotic Feedback
    Engage Opponent
    Death Field
    Body Slam

    Death Touch x 6
    Death Ray x 6
    Glancing Blow x 4
    Fortify Defenses x 4
    Tap Soul x 2
    Dash x 1
    Defensive Stance x 1
    Douse x 1

    That could probably be a little better, but the basic idea is to fill in the deck with a lot of useful short duration buffs since we're not using many damage glyphs. Buffs that have short duration boosts like glancing blow and fortify defenses can be used more since they give you additional benefit even when you already have the buff. Also worth noting that it's good to keep death field locked when fighting dragons because it doesn't hit them when they're flying, so having some additional control of when we cast it is very useful.

    If fighting against something that's vulnerable to more types of magic, I would modify my deck to include chain lightning and either discharge or lightning, depending on whether I'm running around fighting 1 or 2 mobs at a time or if it's more of an AE friendly scenario. In very AE friendly situations, I also add all corpse explosion glyphs to the drawn pool to stack, lock, and use when fully stacked. Similarly, if in a long-term continuous fighting situation, chaotic feedback needs to be drawn, stacked, and locked, as it's not very practical to charge in the middle of a fight.

    Lich pet is strong enough to use in most situations and can be cast extremely quickly with feedback. That being said, it's not worth going out of your way for. I usually just cast it and go on exactly as I would if it wasn't there. Sometimes I will spin stuff around like dragons or trolls so that they don't get knocked down, but that's about it.

    Strengths and Weaknesses:

    Obviously the big disadvantage of any death mage build is not being able to use it vs. undead. You don't really realize just how much undead stuff there is in the game until you play death. It's not just the undead themselves, but wave battles and some other things that require killing something undead to get to something else, like daemon bros, phoenix, etc.

    The biggest strength of the chaos/death build is that it's very effective vs. some dragons. This includes yellow dragons and blue dragons (including Banamathr), and I assume white dragons, although I haven't been to the fall in forever, so I can't say that with 100% certainty. It's also not great but good enough for some other dragons like orange pit dragon.

    Here's a video I made earlier today face tanking and killing a yellow dragon and ancient yellow dragon simultaneously and killing both in 4 minutes. For reference, I'm currently level 121 with decent but not amazing gear and some questionably distrubuted points. I'm not sure how that compares to equivalent archers, melee, and other mage builds, but I'm sure it's better than a lot of things, and could be way stronger than me at higher level:

    Chaos/Death is also good vs. any kind of non-undead wave battle type stuff. Cabalist room in hidden vale and warp spider in despair are a couple that I've done quite a lot. I think it's probably possible to hold the kobold control point solo at very high level with good gear and play.

    This is a warp spider round that I recorded recently. It's not really a steady grind spot since it takes 2.5 minutes to respawn, but it's decent to swoop in and kill for xp while teleporting around farming other stuff:

    Ulfheim, including Banamathr, is also pretty easy to solo with chaos/death. I'm not sure if it's worth it, but if they ever go back to the mega quest xp it will be.

    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
  2. Violet Ronso

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    Hey Lazlo, great writeup! Might want to try my hand at a Water one, I'll consider it, but for now, I would like to point out a few things for the Death build, tips I got from a very good death mage before.

    1. Health Pool : Death magic's power is increased the lower your health is, but the lower your health is, the easier you are to kill. A good way to counteract this is to increase your Health Pool. A 1400+ HP pool is very beneficial for death mages as it makes your survivability go up, but your 'near death' bonus has a bigger hp spread.

    2. Sun spec vs Chaos Spec : Chaos spec sounds really nice, reducing the damage you take from your own spells, seems quite appealing, but the thing is, you take the damage from your spells an instant before you actually deal damage and heal off of them, so taking less damage from your own spell is 1. Not much help considering you will heal back in an instant and 2. Makes your spells deal less damage because you are taking less damage from them, thus end up being further from the near death bonus. Sun Spec will grant you 2 things, a higher int bonus from Enlightenment and increased spell crit chance, this means your deals are guaranteed to deal more damage. Sun spells are also amongst the strongest spells, which means it is not a bad thing to add these to your arsenal!

    3. More Dynamic slots : Spam casting seems very fun when you think about Chaotic Feedback, but the thing is, Chaotic Feedback doesn't only increase casting time, but also draw speed. Draw Speed is the stat that determine how fast glyphs pop up in your deck. by using 3 or 4 dynamic slots, you can allow yourself to stack your spells to 4-6 stacks before unleashing them, which will do 4 things : make your spells that much more powerful, help you not run out of glyphs, help your Health pool, and finally help your focus pool (even though Tap soul does so).

    These are 3 things that you and others could try out for a death build, it does not change the core of your build AT ALL, as you are still using Chaotic Feedback with Death Magic, but you actually push your limits that much further by using as many things as possible to your advantage as you can!
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  3. Lazlo

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    I've tried out death/sun before, because I've seen some people say that they like it a lot. In my experience (which wasn't a whole lot), it's a somewhat even trade off. All other things being equal, with sun spec you deal more damage and take more damage than you do with chaos. The enlightenment crit bonus and extra int from sun attunement definitely increases damage, but the extra healing from that damage is a significantly lower amount than the additional damage you take from feedback. So the dps advantage goes to sun, but chaos has a higher durability ceiling. I would imagine that sun is probably also better for PvP, but I don't really know that.

    I agree that stacking is great for a lot of skills, but I also think people greatly underestimate the power of spam, especially wrt chaotic feedback. At high level, feedback draw speed is way faster than anyone can possibly react to without delays for things like stacking. On the other hand, it's pretty easy to spam at full speed no matter how fast your draw speed gets. Single cast is also just more total damage for most skills that don't have additional effects to consider like dots or stuns.

    Agree completely about health also, btw. Health is my second stat choice behind int and I have some gear sets with quite a lot of it. Plate masterworks can add a ton of health, and you can still get 16/8 int from enchantments on plate, which isn't bad. Normally I wear a heavier set with more health for stuff like ancient dragons, but in this case I was just planning to run in there and snipe a couple yellows for a quick video. I was just too lazy to check first or change gear when I saw what was up. Made it a little more exciting though .
  4. Violet Ronso

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    Well, I said I would potentially do it for water magic, and now that I have finally found a very good build I am proud of, here is my try for a Water Mage!

    Water & Moon Mage

    General Modis Operandi :

    A Water mage is all about slowing down your opponent to a crawl all while unleashing a barrage of spells, and outliving your adversaries with Healing over time and a big defense. A water mage is not as strong as a fire mage or a death mage in PvE, but will still hold it's ground, and can become very powerful in PvP (which allows you to flag if it is something you want to do).

    Gear :

    A water mage will benefit the most from Heavy Armor, right now, I am using full chain except for the helmet, which I use a cloth hood, but with the devotional buff, and if the wine that gives fizzle chance gets fixed to actually reduce it, then there is a potential to add in plate, or go 5 pieces of chain easily. The reason why you want to use heavy armor for a water mage is because of your Ice Shield, which will give you Fire resistance (great to stop mages), Attunement to make you even more powerful, and avoidance, which will make your heavy armor even better. You also can afford to use chain which will slow your movement speed down because Ice field and Ice Arrow both slow down mobs, allowing you to kite as much as you want.

    For attunement purposes, I prefer to go with moon attunement, which is the 2nd specialization I am using. The rings are enchanted before adding the jewel to them, aiming for intelligence enchants, same thing for the chest armor. As for the staff or wand, you want to gem for Lunaism and aim for the attunement enchant. You can use a wand and a shield very successfully with this build, as the block modifier from shields will actually help you block arrows, which is the main source of damage you will take, as mage mobs usually use a lot of fire magic, and with you Shield of Ice, Douse, and Soothing Rain, fire is extremely weak against you, but arrows still deal a lot of damage and are hard to kite, so the shield takes care of this bit, changing a staff for a wand and a shield will only make you lose about 15-17 points of attunement, which is a fair trade for that much more defense.

    For PvP purposes, would prefer to swap out your moon attunements for Tempestry jewels and gems, and grab the + Ice Arrow Damage enchant. This will cause your attunement to shoot up, which means you will make them even slower, and your Ice Arrow will deal a nice chunk of damage. Shooting star is also an instant spell, so you can burst your enemies with a 6 stack Ice Arrow (which is very slow to hit) followed by a single stack shooting star which will almost catch up to your ice arrow, with the potential of critting for over 600 damage without stacks, which means you can deal a very heavy blow, which if it does not kill your opponent, will render him very weak, which will give you the upper hand.

    Deck Construction :

    Deck building for a water mage will be highly dependent on what you are fighting, My current build for fighting Satyrs in Tartarus or Spiders in Spindelskog is a build which relies entirely on stacking my spells as high as I can, focusing on laying down a Meteor shower, followed by an Ice Arrow if I am fighting a single mob, or Ice Field if I am fighting more than one mob, especially if fighting melee mobs.

    1. Glancing Blow : I like to keep this one stackable giving an extra 5 points of avoidance for quite some time, I can also time it if I expect a big hit, by stacking it 5 times, it will give 98 points of attunement instead of 81, which will almost guarantee a glancing blow.
    2. Ice Arrow : One of the 3 main damaging spells I use, very good for kiting, very strong against most mobs, very few mobs actually resist this spell.
    3. Gust : This one I like to keep to actually push mobs back into my AoEs, as well as add a bit of stun potential to my build.
    4. Shooting Star : The main single target dps, a 6 stack Shooting star already did 1477 damage on a crit vs an Aether Warlock Satyr, so it is safe to say that it is extremmely strong and always worth having in my deck.
    5. Ice Field : -79% movement speed for 1:51, safe to say this is very strong to kite, but the power from ice field does not stop there, as it is also the only source of a resistance debuff for water mages. You will want to lay this down any time you are fighting something that wont die in just a few hits, as this will make enemies take even more damage from Ice Arrow.
    6. Meteor Shower : This is the main damage dealing spell, in almost any scenario. A strong meteor shower can deal HEAPS of AoE damage, and will deal "passive damage" meaning while I stack/charge my other spells, this will just keep on doing damage. With the Specialization at at least 80 and the spell at at least 120, the duration outlasts the cooldown enough to be able to restack 6x before it runs out.
    7-8 : Healing Touch/Healing Ray/Cocoon of Night : These 3 spells can act as emergency heals if you suddenly get overwhelmed. Usually this build allows for great sustainability, but with 4 or more archers you will start taking a beating, and these spells are never too much. Healing Ray can also be great if you are in a group, as it will always help your group.
    9. : Soothing Rain : This spell heals for SOOO much. with enough water attunement, this spell will last for about 5 minutes before you need to refresh it, and during these 5 minutes, it has a chance to remove fire DoTs. This is always a must have when fighting, as it will keep you topped up most of the time.
    10 : Defensive Stance : This one helps your heavy armor become even more of a wall. This buffs your glancing stance, your passive resistances and avoidances from your armor, and will also buff up your shield if you use one.

    * If you are using a shield, you will want to change either Soothing rain to send it to your buff bar so you can use Deflect instead, which is always a great option.
    * Water elemental is very strong with water specialization, my water elemental deals average hits of 100 every 5 seconds, all while healing me, healing itself, and tanking mobs (he is great at tanking mages, since their fire magic does not hurt him), you want your water elemental out!
    * Vanish is a great spell to quickly recover between waves or mid fight. If you can manage to get out of combat and away from vision, casting vanish will make you recover 900-1100 hp and focus every 3-4 seconds, which means you are back to full in an instant, but this only works out of combat, if you can get invisible, so no light, not elysium illumination, no Immolation, and not mid fight with Ice Field/Meteor Shower out.

    This deck is very strong for most of the general mob content, but when it comes to liches, trolls, and potentially dragons, you will probably want to use a physical weapon. I am still working on some skills, trying out some things, but I have not managed to kill these things effectively with this build YET. I will update this post if I do figure out a way to kill those in a more effective and rapid manner, but for now, it is not content I am hunting for, so it does not bother me. One way I used to do those mobs before was by using bludgeon and full plate armor, I would buff up pre-fight, use all the buffs mentionned above, but then fight with a maul and heavy armor, making sure I CC'd them the most I could, all while staying topped up from the soothing rain and water elemental, so it is a way to do it if you do not mind not being a full mage to kill those, you will still have water magic as a main element this way.

    If any other water mages have ideas to help me push this even further please do so, This is the newest version of my build which has worked the best up until now, but I am sure there are ways to make this even better.
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  5. Joe Zhudarak

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    On chaos/death Build:

    With at least 80 chaos spec and level 152 chaotic feedback your cast time will be -0,9 charging 6 times.... its insane how fast you can spamm skills... at this stage locked glyphs are better in my experience because the draw speed still in +0,6 and the cards donĀ“t flow in the same speed you can potentially cast if locked.
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  6. Violet Ronso

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    Wow... this in itselfs makes that build really interesting to try again... When I start having excess exp for what I am doing, I will start pushing towards those skills so I have the possibility to swap whenever I want, nice tip!!!