Realizing that I spend most of my time taking brutes and tankers to 50, I've been making a deliberate attempt at diversifying my roster the past month. Here are some of the most recent alts of my less-played archetypes i've brought up to the 30s. No fully IOd characters at 50 or incarnates. Mostly getting experience through hero-side taskforces. Defender, Trick Arrow / Sonic
I have a hard time enduring the poor base damage of defenders, but this combo did a lot to take care of that. Trick arrow has always been very hectic and time intensive, which put me off previously. The current incarnation is strong enough that, while on teams, I'm enjoying focusing mostly on just Flash Arrow and Disruption Arrow for every group and then leaning into my attacks... Which includes a proc loaded Ice arrow. And a proc loaded domination from EPPs. If you've never hit an opponent with a bunch of procs after applying 80% -res, you're missing out.
Groups can sometimes throw the effectiveness of debuffs into the wind with people and enemies not going where I expect them to go. When everything is spread out and the debuffs aren't applied well, I go from feeling like an invulnerable rock star to a headless chicken.
Skipped acid arrow for now. I'm liking flash arrow with a moderate defense (sets, weave, maneuvers) and acid arrow is the only trick arrow power I want to skip. I'm skipping a lot of sonic blast (shockwave, siren, screech, shout) because there's just no time to use them all.
9/10 Will definitely keep and play, just not every day.
Defender, Force Field / Radiation
I really want force field to work. I had a force field defender at launch in '04. Two single target buffs on 7 people every 2 minutes without stamina all the way through synapse to see it bug out and kick everyone from the TF when Babbage should have spawned. But this is not that character. This is a proc heavy defender that tosses group buffs about once every four minutes. The procs just aren't enough though.
Neutrino bolt is just the shittiest thing. X-ray beam is a slightly drier variety of crap, and procs can't make it any better due to the fast recharge. Irradiate is one of those dots. Electron haze, with the uncomfortable combination of knockback but only 25% of the time, is worse than other knockback powers that at least are predictable. Neutron bomb is ok but it's still at defender level damage, and force fields is doing nothing to help out. Actually that's not entirely correct.
Repulsion bomb is slow enough recharging that slotting it with both damage and procs turns out very well. I'd like to say I lean on this instead of the crappier powers like x-ray and irradiate, but if that were true I'd only have three attacks: cosmic burst, proton volley, and this. Well, the nuke too. Atomic blast is just fine for a t9.
If this is a character that really picks up with EPPs or incarnate, I expect I'll never know. Too many of the powers are stinkers. I don't think it's funny to knock everything back constantly so I'm left applying mediocre damage during the 4 minutes between buffs. Just not worth it for me.
3/10 If procs ever get 'fixed' this will be the first character I'll delete. The damage is just too low. I'd rather group with someone playing the character and let that person deal with the abysmal damage.
Blaster, Psychic / Tactical Arrow
I had in mind a character that would have impressive single target damage with fun debuffs. I took this character to 32 before deciding that I absolutely hate it. The psionic blasts have this travel time mechanism that adds a delay to the application of damage. For a character that focuses so much on damage, to have this ever-present hesitation, wondering if the attack missed, did it do enough damage, should I switch targets? Oh it would have hit but someone else defeated it first... It makes for a very unpleasant and clunky experience. I haven't had the opportunity to try out the changes to tactical arrow and I'll have to make a new blaster to do so.
0/10 deleting the character
Blaster, Ice / Ice
I've had a lot of experience with ice blast on other ATs, and I was curious what my opinion would be of the set's's AoE at blaster's scale. I'm not the biggest fan of ice storm on defenders and corruptors, and as it turns out I'm even more disappointed with it on a blaster. It's the fear effect of it. I can excuse the poor damage, considering the recharge. The slow application of damage is a bummer, but the fear effect makes me regret using it on a team. Unless things are so tightly packed that they're all floppiing on an ice slick it's hurting damage more than helping by spreading this out farther. And the blaster doesn't have as many tools to keep things in the storm.
Frost breath isn't the worst AE but if it's the only one I'm willing to use before 32 that's a harsh 32 levels for a blaster. Frigid protection and ice slick make for fun herding, given liberal application of inspirations, but I think I'll want a different primary to go with ice manipulation.
This character hasn't hit level 38 yet, so I don't know if Frozen Aura will change my opinion on the set. I might or might not continue leveling to find out.
5/10 I'm left wanting a different application of area effect damage
Blaster, Energy / Ice
I've avoided energy blast since 2004 because I hate the knockback so much. While there are options for solving the knockback problem, I'm not going to put a -kb enhancement into every power and act like the attacks only get 5 slots. But, if I pair it with a secondary that has decent single-target damage, then I can worry about knockback in only 3 powers. So how good is the single-target damage in ice? Less than I wanted.
The devil is in the details. I had in mind something like freezing touch from tankers and brutes. You know, a dot but it is really really fast. Oh no. I hadn't noticed THIS freezing touch has a 10 second dot. For a power that recharges in 10 seconds, that's a bit extreme. I'm already ignoring chillblain because of its slow dot. Ice sword is a-ok, no complaint. Frozen fist is very meh, but wouldn't be a problem if I liked freezing touch more. I really hate slow dots and this is a killer for me. One good melee power from the secondary isn't enough to make a blaster whole, and I don't want to delve too deep into the knockback problem from the primary to shore up the single target damage.
For the fun side, I've put a sudden acceleration -kb and a force feedback +rch enhancement in both energy torrent and explosive blast. The knockdown and fast cycle time of the two attacks under the extreme recharge bonus make the character a lot of fun. Ice slick almost feels uneeded unless I'm herding, and oh yes am I herding with this character. Sometimes just to escape the local kheldian and THEIR terrible knockback that they can't be bothered to control!
7/10 I'll have to mess with the build before deciding if it's more than a fun toy to play with then throw away.
Blaster, Dark / Elec
Oh this is what I wanted the energy/ice to be. Umbral torrent with -kb and a force feedback +rch is exactly what I got out of energy torrent, only so much more. You see, Energy Torrent has a 40ft range. Umbral Torrent has an 80ft range. For a cone, that's massive. I have accidentally pulled the next group because Umbral Torrent happened to be aimed down the hallway. Only having the 1 AE power makes the chance at benefiting from +rch procs so much lower that I'm thinking about pulling it. While the combo lacks any other significant AE damage prior to 32, the application of Umbral Torrent makes it less of a drag.
I am perfectly happy with the single-target attacks in elec manipulation. While Shocking Grasp is still a slow-ish dot, charged brawl and havoc punch are so fantastic I don't feel like I have to lean on it too much. The snipe plus those two melee attacks make the character feel very fast paced. Plus, with the 15s recharge in Shocking Grasp I'm planning on loading it up with procs that will lessen the dependence on the dot damage even more. I'm really happy about the combo and feel it has enough strong, reliable powers that the toys (force of thunder, power sink) feel like a rewarding bonus rather than fool's gold.
9/10 I've never played a blaster that felt like to worked so well before
Corruptor, Ice / Dark
This combo should have a good mix of survivability and damage. I've known rains take advantage of scourge moreso than most powers, and this should be a great set for letting ice blast shine. The first 20 or so levels actually feel very slow. Not in terms of xp, but playing the character. Twilight Grasp is slow. Darkest Night is very slow. Ice storm applies its damage very slowly.
If I'm doing what I think is optimal, I'd have to open with darkest night, then tar patch, then ice storm. That's about 9 seconds of activation time to start the 15 seconds of raining damage from ice storm. In group play, if the fight lasts long enough for all of that plus a frost breath or two, then something is going very wrong. Fearsome stare comes out not as something to stack onto darkest night, but a slightly quicker tohit debuff that sticks to the target if it gets knocked back or tries to run away. When ice storm and tar patch aren't available for the next fight, which is very often at low levels, it becomes frustratingly weak.
I love the single target damage on ice blast but I think it just isn't for me. I might try it with a different secondary that demands less activation time but at this point I think I'm done trying to make ice blast work for me. Alternating fearsome stare and darkest night goes a long way to cutting down on the animation times, and things started to feel smoother in the late 20s, so I haven't deleted the character just yet.
5/10 very powerful but has huge swings going from one group to the next. Will definitely improve with slotting and recharge bonuses, but a fire/dark or ice/cold will probably suit me more.
Corruptor, Fire / Thermal
Fire blast is good. Everyone knows this. Thermal is boring. I don't usually mind buff sets. At least I don't think I do. Fire shield and Plasma shield are exactly what I expect, weak +res and nothing else. Forge is ok, but if I care about who gets it then I end up not using it as much, looking for the right person who may or may not be in range at the time. I honestly put it on auto and whoever it hits when it's up gets it. I'm too busy. Busy throwing fire balls yeah! Fire blast is so good it's just silly. I regret more sets don't feel like this.
Heat exhaustion and melt armor are too late in the game. If melt armor arrived earlier at the expense of one of the heals, or the rez, or the status protection... or anything really, I'd probably have this character to 50 by now. As is, the character plays like a weak blaster but that's ok, because a weak fire blaster is still fairly awesome.
8/10 minimal attention being paid to the secondary makes blasting more fun!
Dominator, Fire / Earth
I expected fire control, a relatively high-damage control set, to work well on dominators. What I'm finding out is it feels a little too much like earth, which I have plenty of experience with. Which is fine. Just not exciting. I prefer earthquake to a bonfire with -kb in it... it just doesn't seem to knock things down as much and I haven't noticed enough damage from it to care. The imps aren't normally important enough to monitor. I ignore them when they don't need to be resummoned. I imagine on a controller that's thirsty for damage they'd be heaven on earth.
I very much like the stone melee attacks on tankers and brutes, and this has a little bit of that. Seismic smash is just as fantastic as I want it to be. But stone spears... I don't know if it's the animation or the low damage, but it just feels so out of place. I'll definitely leave it 1-slotted when I respec the character at higher level and make this character into melee-range only.
Others might hate tremor but I like having a 15 feet radius on my AEs. 10 or lower just doesn't work well in practice.
It seems as though mud pots and hot feet used together is a thing. A good thing? I'm not impressed. As supplemental damage it's ok, but the endurance cost is hard to justify without a more IOd character. I do love large radius AEs so I might come around to liking the two more when I'm not devoting every slot trying to get permadom. Speaking of which, permadom isn't feeling quite as useful on this character as it did on other dominators I tried in the past. Aside from the endurance boost and status protection, that is.
6/10 perfectly functional but I think it will need a lot more slots to really show what it can do for damage. Probably a very very fun build when it has fully matured at 50
Dominator, Earth / Icy
Oh this is what I wanted. Aside form the wait to get earthquake at 16 this is a very fun build that gets going very quickly. The numbers on frost breath should scare me away but combined with the nicely sized ice sword circle and its 15 ft. radius, this character's AE damage is a huge boost at low levels. I cannot tell you how nice it is to go through a synapse TF with two AEs, neither of them causing fear or knockback. I'm already looking forward to getting a bunch of set bonuses and doing some pulling/herding with chilling embrace. I have no idea if another combo fits better but this is a character I can already see I'll like at 50 and will play every day.
I've shied away from earth on a dominator because it didn't seem to benefit much from domination, thinking what I've wanted was an earth/* something controller with good damage somehow. Well this looks like it's the bee's knees. No need to go back to controllers now.
He's actually only 28 and I just made him today, but I know what animate stone does (meh) and the numbers on ice slash and bitter ice blast are looking very promising at bringing up the single target damage.
10/10 Will probably try out other dominator primaries with icy assault that I thought weren't "good fits on dominators."