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(WARNING: Not updated since Live, and some things have changed a lot.) It was the best of sets, it was the worst of sets. The /devices set has long been regarded as the weakest of the blaster secondaries, and that's because it is. However, "weakest" doesn't necessarily mean "weak"; the set is viable, playable, and even (for some people) fun. This guide gives an overview of the set, some notes about how to use it, some historical review of why the set is the way it is, and some notes for people coming from a traps set, or considering giving up on devices in favor of traps. You'll note that /devices is a secondary set, but I've called it a primary. Here's the thing. If you enjoy the way /devices plays, it makes an excellent primary. You can play a /devices blaster who has taken a blast set as a secondary, and you can have a ball doing it. Thus, this is a guide to the /devices primary. I'm starting, not with the review of the powers, but with the FAQ. The real point of the guide is to tell you what the set is like. The powers are only interesting if you like the feel of the set; if you don't like how the set feels, it doesn't matter what the statistics are. Who should play /devices? If you are looking for the best set for steamrolling content, look elsewhere. The /devices set's strengths are all about setup and preparation. If you're steamrolling content, the set is marginal, and you generally won't use it. You don't get a "Build Up" power. You don't get hard-hitting melee attacks. Your immobilize doesn't do damage. If you're soloing, /devices can be an amazing set. It's not always fast, but there is something wonderful about watching a x8 spawn melt away without getting to make a single attack against you. No, I'm not exaggerating. Now, it'll take a few minutes to set up, and it won't work every time, but you can do that. If you want to play a Natural origin blaster with a secondary that makes sense, /devices is your only choice. All of the others would require some kind of amazing technology, magic, mutation, or whatnot; only /devices is built around things that are at least conceivably within the realm of non-superhero technology. If you want to play a superspy, half blaster and half stalker, you might like /devices. Here is what I do for a tough-looking spawn, when soloing. I find the spawn. I find a nearby corner. I spend a couple of minutes laying down a field of trip mines between the spawn and the corner. I smoke grenade the spawn. I set up a time bomb in the spawn. I walk around the corner. If any of them actually survive (usually they don't), I might have to actually use one of my blast powers. Otherwise, I have just killed them all without them even being able to target me once. I move on. If that sounds fun, you might want to play a /devices blaster. If that sounds tedious and unfun, you probably ought to look at other sets. Why is /devices weak? The /devices set has never really been updated to fit the modern CoH game. Before ED and IOs, Targeting Drone meant that you could put one more damage enhancement, and one less accuracy, in most powers. That translated into a substantial damage increase -- figure about 10-15% compared to a blaster who had to slot for more accuracy. Now, most people will have damage at the ED cap, and with set bonuses, they may well have plenty of accuracy without even explicitly slotting for it. Targeting Drone went from a pretty decent power to a sort of mediocre power. It's still better than nothing, but it's not at all obvious that it's better than a pool power, or better than not using it and saving your endurance. Similarly, Cloaking Device was a really nice stealth, back when there were no Stealth IOs. Now, it's not great. It's not awful, and it helps that it stacks with Stealth IOs, but it's a mediocre to pitiful amount of defense (especially since only part of that defense is available when you're in combat), and stealth is not in and of itself all that useful most of the time. The big central flaw, though, becomes clear when you look at time bomb and trip mines. The powers that ought to be among the set's star players are utterly useless once combat starts; they are essentially impractical to use except by setting up before combat. On a fast team, the average spawn will be dead in the time it takes you to set up a time bomb, rendering the power completely pointless. Quite simply, /devices was not built for CoH the way it is actually played. But wait! There's been changes since Live, and now it's actually a pretty solid set. How does /devices compare to traps/ or /traps? The traps/ defender set is widely regarded as an amazing set. The reason is clear if you look at a few of the powers that traps/ has and /devices doesn't. Look at Triage Beacon, Acid Mortar, Force Field Generator, Poison Gas Trap, and Seeker Drones. Do you know what they have in common? They aren't interruptible. You can use them in combat. And that means that you can actually get substantial utility from them. Furthermore, with the better defense of FFG, a traps/ defender can toe bomb with a reasonable hope of success even after a fight has started; a /devices blaster has to build very, very, carefully to get enough defense to be able to use any powers in combat. Defenders get less mileage from Trip Mines and Time Bomb than blasters; for blasters, at least the bombs do enough damage to be potentially worth the hassle. For defenders, Time Bomb does less damage. (Corruptors, however, might consider it as a situational power.) Masterminds replace Time Bomb with Detonator, but Trip Mines is pretty useful everywhere. If you really want to use the /devices powers actively in combat, on teams, consider going with a traps/ defender, or /traps corruptor, instead. Why would anyone play /devices, then? Why play a set which is inefficient compared to other sets? Because this game is not fundamentally about efficiency of builds. It's about building a character that looks cool to you. It's about awesome super heroes doing amazing things and being stunning. If you have never seen a /devices blaster wiping out a spawn with mines, it's hard to appreciate just how awesome it looks; the ragdoll physics in CoH really shines on handling large numbers of enemies hitting mines with decent knockback. (Ask around if you want to see this; I bet most people who would play /devices would be happy to show it off.) I play /devices because I love the way it plays, and don't care that it's inefficient. I sit around watching TV while I set up nests of trip mines. I wander through missions arranging to one-shot the one and only enemy on the map I need to kill, without bothering to kill everyone else. Sure, I get less loot and XP and inf. But my superspy stealth infiltrator is playing like a superspy stealth infiltrator, not like a muscle-bound idiot. So I'm happy. Is /devices really slow? Yes, and no. If you fully deck out a set of 10+ trip mines, and a time bomb, you are going to spend a couple of minutes doing it. On a team, that's probably useless. Solo... If you can beat a spawn just coming in and leading with a regular AoE from your blast set then burning down the one thing left standing, don't use trip mines. If you're looking at a spawn that you simply couldn't beat at all conventionally, though, /devices is infinitely faster, and requires fewer hospital trips. The real question, I think, is whether you get more XP per hour of play by playing cautiously against larger or higher level spawns with trip mines and such, or by playing aggressively against weaker or smaller spawns. I'm not sure yet. I'd be interested in feedback. In general, the time it takes to do a bit of setup (one trip mine, caltrops) is trivial; if you do a trip mine, a time bomb, a trip mine, and a gun drone, you've just spent about 30 seconds, and the remainder of the spawn will be pretty fast; the question is whether you could clear the spawn in 30-40 seconds some other way. Maybe you could. In CoH, enemies regenerate while you fight them. What this means is that the more you can get all your damage out at once, the less damage you have to do. Trip Mines let you spend a number of activations and recharge cycles in advance, then get all the damage from them at once. That's potentially a very good thing, and can speed life up. On a team, however, while you're setting up mines, the other 7 players aren't doing anything, and that makes it a lot slower (like any strategy that has people sit on their thumbs waiting for someone). Solo, though, it's not as much of a slowdown as it looks like, because your activations are all going into damage soon. (It's still sort of slow, because of all the recharge time, during which you're not cycling through other powers.) One thing to keep in mind: For soloing missions that don't require a defeat-all, stealth will be faster at completing missions. It may not be faster at gaining XP, though, as the XP for mission completion isn't huge. On the other hand, if you just want to quickly run through some story arcs to get an accolade or a particular badge, well. So about those powers. I'm not gonna lean too hard on what powers you should or shouldn't take. With I19, blasters are no longer paying the three-pick "fitness" tax, and it's now quite possible that it's reasonable for you to take everything in your primary and secondary without feeling like you're missing out too much. Toxic Web Grenade You have to take it. This is not as bad as it sounds. Immobilize, shimmobilize. What matters is that this power gives a solid -recharge penalty. Oh, and a -fly. But the -recharge is what really makes this sorta useful. Feel free to spam this on really tough targets, even targets you can't actually immobilize with it. If you're using assault rifle, this gives you a way to keep things in Ignite. Note that even AVs and the like often don't have enough immobilize protection to keep this from nailing them if you stack it. Note also that, if you get mezzed, you can keep using web grenade, along with your T1 and T2 blasts. With the new update giving it non-trivial damage, it's even better; this is now a decent power to use fairly regularly. Slotting: Accuracy, immobilize, endredux. Recharge is already decent. Procs are of questionable value, but not unthinkable if you have spare slots and money. And, of course, damage. Caltrops If you're like me, you read the description, thought about how little "minor" damage sounded like, and looked for something else. I'm gonna ask you to do something crazy. Read the "Detailed Info" of this power before you make that decision. Did you notice the words "magnitude 50.00" in there? I bet you did. Yes, this power has a magnitude 50 fear effect. Enemies will run away from caltrops. You know what enemies do while they're running? They don't attack. Not only will enemies run to the edge of caltrops; if they prefer melee, and they've tried a couple of times to get to you, they will sometimes run away to the far end of the map trying to find a path to you that does not go through caltrops. Oh, and while they're running away? As long as they're on the caltrops, they're doing it with an 80% or so slow. Anything that isn't slow-resistant will be running away from you in slow motion. This means they spend even more time running away. And if you aren't attacking them, they will very rarely take a break from running to attack you. Watch out for things with slow resist, though; warwolves will run out of blast range, run back, hit you, run back out of blast range... How to use caltrops: Put caltrops on a corner, stand around the side, and take pot shots at the people who occasionally slow up. Drop caltrops under your feet and just stand there shooting. It's all good. Effective use of caltrops makes /devices a much, much, better set than it would be otherwise. Caltrops is effectively permanent out of the box, but a little bit of recharge helps you move your caltrops and make sure you always have some under you. Caltrops is, in practice, a pretty good replacement for melee defense. Caltrops can also help drive people towards trip mines, or keep them in place when thrown under them. Caltrops have an avoid affect, but it only affects enemies once they've hit the caltrops. Enemies will not stop before reaching caltrops that they've never hit before, although they may run around avoiding that particular patch later. Learn the radius of caltrops. It's a bit larger than the activation circle, and precision in deciding where things come to a sudden halt is a big advantage. Slotting: A little recharge is all you really need. Damage is pretty trivial (though it can add up on a large group), but consider a damage proc, such as the Impeded Swiftness chance for smashing damage. It'll only fire every 10 seconds, but it fires right away when you drop the caltrops. Accuracy is completely irrelevant (and they won't accept plain accuracy enhancements.) Taser It's a stun. Magnitude 3, meaning lieutenants but not bosses (but keep reading). Whether you want this or not is largely a function of whether your blast set has a stun to stack this with. My main /devices character is a dual pistols blaster, and while the blast set has a stun, the stun is converted to a hold when using special ammo, meaning no stacking without a lot of toggle management. Not especially rewarding. Still, it's a stun that you can use to keep a lieutenant locked down if you slot it for stun duration and recharge. Not awful, but probably skippable. On the other hand, if your blast set has a stun, you can lock down a boss. Suddenly, this power becomes a lot more attractive. This has been buffed in the recent past to increase range and reduce recharge. Since live, this has also acquired a fair bit of damage. It's now a usable damage-dealing power. Definitely attractive. Slotting: acc/stun/rech, mostly. And now maybe damage. Targeting Drone The to-hit bonus isn't awful. If you're not clear on the difference between to-hit and accuracy, the answer is that to-hit is multiplied by accuracy. If you have a 10% to-hit bonus, and a power with 1.6 total accuracy, your chance-to-hit is 16% higher with that power, not 10% higher. This also gives resistance to to-hit debuffs and a perception bonus. Overall, I like it; worth taking. Some people prefer Tactics, which gives a smaller buff but shares it with the rest of your group. UPDATE: Now has +damage, too, and pretty awesome. UPDATED: Now has damage buff, now sort of amazing. There's a base 20% damage buff, which is nice, and I'm told that when you're out of combat, that increases to 80%. So for the first few seconds of combat, you get an amazing damage buff, then it degrades to merely quite good. Slotting: Consider a Gaussian's set for it; note that the set bonuses may be more important than the actual effect on your to-hit. The chance-for-build-up proc is debated in here. It's a 5% chance to fire, for 5 seconds, every 10 seconds. What that means is that you get about 2.5% extra damage from it, which is pretty minor. On the other hand, you don't have a real "Build Up" power in your secondary, so it's perhaps better than nothing. The down side is the lack of control; some people would rather put the proc in Aim in their blast set, so even though they'll get fewer fires of the proc, they're more likely to be at useful times. (Not all primaries have Aim, mind you; if you're a dual pistols blaster, your only option would be here or something like Tactics.) Smoke Grenade A very nice power. The -tohit penalty isn't huge, but it's significant; comparable to a minor to-hit debuff power in some of the debuff sets. The -perception penalty is very nice. If two spawns are close together, this lets you kill one without the other noticing. If you have cloaking device, but no stealth IO (or vice versa), this gives enough -perception to make you effectively invisible to the victims. Even without them, you may be able to sneak by some groups. Note the unusually large area affected, but the target cap is only 10; for multiple spawns, you'll need more than one smoke grenade. Duration is one minute, recharge is 15 seconds or less. The perception debuff is auto-hit in PvE, but not in PvP. The to-hit debuff is not auto-hit, so you may want some accuracy, though set bonuses are likely enough. Slotting: I slot for a bit of recharge and a bit of to-hit debuff. Might be an okay set mule, if you find a to-hit debuff set you dearly love. Do not slot this with procs like "chance for recharge debuff"; procs will aggro, and the non-aggro nature of this power is a big part of its charm. Field Operative As cloaking device, this was sort of mediocre. The newly upgraded Field Operative, however, is pretty solid; it adds regen and recovery buffs. Field Operative is unambiguously superior to the Concealment pool Stealth power, because it has no movement penalty, but the movement penalty isn't that significant. The defense bonus is fairly trivial. Strengths are that this power takes defense sets, and that it stacks with stealth IOs. With this on, and a stealth IO active, you are effectively invisible except to things like Rikti drones, snipers, etcetera. (And remember that Smoke Grenade can help some with those.) Note also that, while it is a toggle, it's a free toggle. Zero endurance cost, but you get a recovery boost. A large recovery boost; this is more +recovery than Stamina, and more +regen than Health. A lot more. With the regen/recovery buffs, this power has significantly improved. It also now takes heal and endurance recovery sets. And it stopped consuming endurance, which is nice. Slotting: Defense sets! If you didn't take combat jumping or hover, put your kismet +accuracy here. (Or don't bother; you may not need it since you have targeting drone.) Trip Mines One of the real shining points of the set. Trip mines are slow to set up, but the damage is impressive. Mines last until something triggers them (by coming near them) or about four minutes, and you can set them up in 25 seconds unenhanced. (About five seconds of activation for the power, 20 seconds recharge.) Enhance for recharge, accuracy, and damage. Endurance really doesn't matter; even with incredible recharge, you're still looking at around 12-15 seconds per mine, so if you have at least 1 endurance per second recovery, you cannot run out of blue placing these. One of the reasons this power is liked despite the slow setup is the option of toe-bombing: Run into a spawn and plant a mine; it goes off essentially immediately, doing decent damage to everything nearby, plus knockback. Once a fight has started, though, you have to be careful; the power is interruptible, and as a blaster, you probably don't have awesome defenses. You can also drop a trip mine at your feet before you start blasting. If you pick up aggro from something, and it runs up to you... boom. UPDATE: Apparently no longer interruptible, this being a change since Live. Trip mines will not go off if you are too far away from them when something runs over them; I don't know the exact distance, but it seems to be around 60-80 feet, which is to say, blast range. The blast is delayed a bit from triggering. The down side is that if you have a string of these, a single minion can trigger three or four before taking damage from them. Some creatures will actually get out of range before the mine triggers, taking no damage. For best results, stack them at corners and wait around the corner. If you can teleport an enemy in, Caltrops can keep them from moving fast enough to get away from a trip mine before it goes off. For that matter, caltrops which overlap a trip mine's area can cause things to run into the area, then stop before they run out. To get good results from trip mines, you need to have a bit of setup time, and you need to know where creatures will be going. A tank who wants to work with you on this can do a great job of moving things over mines, and so can a gravity controller with Wormhole. (Teleport Foe might be worth thinking about, too.) Usually, this isn't worth the effort on a team, but if you end up in a bit over your heads, the option of doing a ton of extra damage is really worth it. If you're playing around, be sure to try to set things up so that something gets knocked back from one mine to another. So much mitigation! So much funny! Slotting: Obliteration is a great set for trip mines; lots of recharge, not much worry about -endurance. Global recharge is also your friend. And yes, accuracy and damage. These can miss, and then you cry. Time Bomb The great thing about Time Bomb is that, when you make level 35 on your /devices blaster, you can pick literally any pool power. Okay, it's not quite that bad. But it's pretty bad. The issue is that Time Bomb goes off at a fixed time. Your other powers let you set up a kill zone which will screw up your enemies when they come to you. If you try to use Time Bomb that way, you will spend a lot of time being disappointed. Maybe you prefer to use Trip Mines to toe-bomb in combat; if you try to use Time Bomb that way, it goes off near the end of a fight, because it's a 9 second activation plus a 15 second delay. Most spawns are pretty far gone 24 seconds in. If you do not get a stealth IO and a stealth power (or a good AoE sleep, like the one in Sonic Blast), don't bother with Time Bomb. It's useless to you. If, however, you have such things, give it a second look. With invisibility, you can walk into a spawn, use Time Bomb, and walk away. You now have 15 seconds to get... wherever. Say, on the other end of a field of trip mines. The time from a time bomb being dropped to it going off is just about exactly long enough to run away a little bit, plant a single trip mine, run around a corner, and activate a gun drone. What Time Bomb offers you, with invisibility or comparable stealth, is the ability to open a fight with an attack against which the enemy cannot retaliate. If you shoot an enemy, everything in the spawn that has line of sight to you can shoot you. Every attack power you have is vulnerable to this... except Time Bomb. Which goes off at a time when you've walked around a corner. The damage isn't much higher than trip mines, but Time Bomb has more knockback, and a significantly larger radius (20' instead of 12'). Most of the time, this will hit an entire spawn if you place it in the center of the spawn. With a little slotting, that means no minions left. Slotting: Again, Obliteration. The base recharge of 6 minutes sounds huge, but since this power is fairly situational, getting it down to a couple of minutes is usually fine. When soloing, you will also be spending some of that time planting new trip mines. Gun Drone This power is... sorta mediocre. Not awful, not great. The good news is: It does damage, it can take aggro off you. The bad news is a fairly long recharge, and a high endurance cost. (The ludicrously long interruptible activation time was changed; it's now a 1s activiation.) A couple of slots of some recharge-intensive pets set, plus some global recharge, and you can keep this out pretty much all the time. Apparently, with enough recharge, it is possible to overlap gun drones, though it takes a fair bit of effort. Some reports suggest that gun drones, when summoned, can inherit some of your buffs, such as inspirations. Details are not known to me. This used to be a stationary turret, and that was worse; making it mobile means it can stay with you for its entire minute and thirty seconds, making it useful for two or three spawns. Again, not so useful on teams, but it can be a life saver solo, where it's extra damage and some potential aggro mitigation. Furthermore, if you're invisible or stealthed, your gun drone can soak an alpha. It may even survive; they're surprisingly tough. You can even summon it in the middle of a spawn. Gun Drone is single-target. On single targets, such as elite bosses and AVs or GMs, it may provide enough additional damage to be pretty noticeable. The reason it seems weak normally is that blasters tend to have enough AoE that, on a large spawn, Gun Drone isn't adding much. If you've summoned a gun drone, and you want to go toe-bombing without being noticed, consider /releasepets to get rid of it. Don't bother with Grant Invisibility, the drone attacks without waiting for things to attack you or it. (People who are used to using invisibility on FFG in Traps might not anticipate this.) Slotting: Pick up some recharge intensive pet stuff, probably. Don't bother with the defense/resistance procs, you aren't really pet specialized, and the gun drone doesn't pick up that much aggro. So, about blast sets (or "primaries") If you pick /devices, it is your primary; it is the set which defines how you play, and your blast set (which would otherwise have been your "primary") has to be used in ways consistent with /devices, or you're going to hate your character. The other secondaries tend to be used to support your blast set and maybe give you a bit of flavor. They have comparable basic functionality; some sort of immobilize, some melee attacks. None of them will encourage you to spend five minutes setting up for a fight. None of them allow you to wipe out an entire spawn without using a single attack from your blast set. The /devices set can be useful with any blast set. Thematically, it goes especially well with archery, assault rifle, and dual pistols. Here, you will find the one benefit of the pre-combat setup aspect of /devices: Less redraw in combat. Most of your /devices use was done before the first shot was fired. If your blast set has a stun, that will give synergy with Taser, allowing you to keep a typical boss locked down, but mind the redraw for the weapon sets. With the I24 snipe changes, targeting drone is a very good way to get permanent insta-snipe; this only works with sets that have snipes. The dual pistols set has no Aim. This is, well, annoying. A dp/dev blaster has no good options for temporary boosts to blast output. On the other hand, you are constantly doing pretty well. Assault rifle, unique among blast sets, gets a damage bonus to its snipe from targeting drone. This is perhaps intended to make up for the lack of an Aim, but nothing similar has been done for dual pistols. The weapon sets have inherent accuracy, which gives good synergy with targeting drone. Archery's Stun Arrow stacks with Taser. Hello, Mr. Boss! After considering your appplication to be an active participant in this engagement, we've been forced to select another applicant, as your skills are not required at this time. Please walk around slowly in a circle until someone kills you. Energy's knockback can be much more useful coupled with your ability to set up trip mines and defenses; you can knock people into mines, or back over caltrops. Lots of potential there. Sonic's sleep power lasts long enough to set up a Time Bomb. Fixing /devices One of the most recurring themes in the Blaster forums is requests that the developers fix /devices. I won't lie, the set could use some love. At this point, the things that stand out the most as flaws, to me, are: Targeting Drone suffers a lot from IO sets and ED. Giving it a slight general damage boost would go a long way towards making up for the lack of a Build Up. Wouldn't take much to make it a pretty nice power, but it's just a bit weak right now. This has been mitigated somewhat by the snipe changes. (Update: The snipe changes referred to were the ones that made snipes instant at high to-hit, which are no longer true, but it got the general damage boost.) Trip Mines are too interruptible and slow. Increasing recharge time and reducing activation time might do a lot of good for them. (Update: Also fixed.) Time Bomb is too situational, and in particular, too suited to an uncommon situation. Gun Drone is pretty expensive. There have been many other suggestions for improving /devices. I quite like idea of a remote-placeable Time Bomb, which would make it more useful to people without perfect stealth, and/or make it easier to use on teams. Also, ideas like a way to force it to trigger prematurely have been floated. But underneath it all... There are bigger problems in CoH than /devices. While the set has weaknesses, it's still viable for team play, quite nice solo, and offers a unique play experience. So if they never get around to doing anything about it, people will still play /devices and have fun. Long-ago last edited: December 5, 2014 (or later if I forgot to update this) More recently edited: Dec 12, 2019
Could someone explain Blaster secondaries to me please? It seems they are just for two things; Blapping and, One Build Up skill. Other than these they seem rather pointless. ... can someone put some nuance on this or explain secondaries in a more eloquent manner please?