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Power sets for a first MM

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I have played all the ATs except MMs and VEATs. I want to make my first MM, but I’m struggling to pick the right primary and secondary. 

I don’t PL my characters, so I’d like something that is a relatively smooth ride to 50. At the very least, I want something that does require Incarnates and purple sets to perform well. I spend about half my time soloing, so I need a solo-friendly primary and secondary. I don’t care about team support or tanking; I want to build this as a survivable damage dealer. I’d love to eventually solo difficult content like Dark Astoria and be able to do general content at +4/x8 once my build is set.



I’m thinking of either Thugs or Demons paired with Dark or Time. I lean towards Time over Dark because it seems simpler to play, and I could focus on my pets. I’m open to other suggestions though.

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Thugs/time is a powerhouse. The buffs/debuffs from Time stacks well with the Enforcers' Leadership.

 Plus, with Gang War, you can slot the 4 Pet IOs that give your pets +Resistance and +Defense. 

  It's an enjoyable and fun set. I say go for it. You won't be disappointed. 


 Also, one of the top threads/posts under Masterminds talks about binds. Read it, as it may help you control/direcr your pets.

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Thugs and Demons are the two best primaries.

/Time is an excellent secondary, stronger on the defensive side.

Both primaries have a recharge-based summons that works well with the +Recharge from /Time.

Thugs/Time will easily soft-cap Defenses with Farsight.

Demons/Time can get good Defense backed up by good Resists and Heals so they're less vulnerable to CDF.

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I have played numerous thugs/* and */time but never that exact pairing. That being said from what I do know of both sets they should pair together very well.


I have played demons/time and it is a fun combo, but either pairing should work well and be fairly comfortable introductions to MMs. Pick whichever fits thematicaly for you I'd say.

Bopper: "resistance resists resistible resistance debuffs"

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I would vote "No" on a Thugs build for a first Mastermind... only because the different attack options (and the way they will behave) from the Thugs may be a little more chaotic than a new MM expects. I'd suggest a primary where all the henchmen/henchpets have all-range or all-close, and get used to ordering them around.



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I'm of the firm opinion that Necromancy/Dark Miasma is still the smoothest 1-50 ride for MMs, especially those that want to solo and team, with or without IOs.  It works great on SOs and only gets better as you add the various IO defense/resist auras (which it has a mule power for, Soul Extraction).


So long as you make sure to take Fearsome Stare the instant it's available (L20), the low-20s Hell Levels are much easier to deal with.


It's a great set combo that has a lot to offer (stacked Fearsome Stares from you and the Lich, for one example) and because of the way its defenses require very active participation on your part it's also very educational on how to run as a Mastermind.  This isn't a "buff up, rofflestomp" kind of deal, it's a "debuff this to protect the pets, now defeat that before it get loose, heal this bunch, etc" juggling of your powers and tactics.  Very hands-on.  Play it well and you can lead-tank for high-end teams.




Other combo sets for all primaries, either cheap to build, easy to use, or both:


Beasts/Nature:  Beasts are melee chompers with great built-in defenses and plenty of damage, plus those lovely crit-hits.  Nature's a comprehensive buff-and-some-debuff set that'll keep them on their feet and let you easily support a team in the process.  All those layers mesh well together, and you can easily get by with a single all-pets-attack macro, no fancy aiming of your pets required.  Plenty good on SOs, thrives with a lot of global +recharge if you want to throw in IOs.


Thugs/Force Field/Mace:  This one's fantastic on SOs and get stupidly good the more IOs you add.  Thugs are more than a little chaotic due to the way the Arsonist scatters things (turns out, critters run and flail about when on fire.  Weird.) but quite frankly, this combo has more than enough +defense to outlast the chaos.  This one is very much a "buff and stomp" kind of deal.   Thugs' high damage offsets the lack of damage buffs and lack of debuffs from Force Field.


Ninjas/Time:  Ninjas can be a hard row to hoe since they're so bloody fragile, but Time's heals, debuffs, and buffs make this a MUCH smoother ride.  Frankly, /Time is great with everything, but it seems to suit Ninjas particularly well.  Another combo that doesn't require complex controls, as Ninjas are perfectly fine with a general attack order, which gives you plenty of free attention to lay out Time's other powers.  Pick up Clarion Radial or Mace Mastery's Power Boost to really crank up the +defense on Farsight, makes this combo way tougher.


Demons:  A great set, though sometimes it can be hard to see what's going on due to their size, and there's pathing issues for the same reason.  That said, I really liked how well they meshed with Nature--you could stand back and buff/heal/attack while they waded in.  If you want status protection for yourself, go with Sonic to amplify their defenses and debuffs, then maybe pick up Aid Other to top 'em off.  If you want a themed combo that plays to their strengths, Thermal's a good one, though watch out for mezzes.


Robotics:  I'd stay away from the classic Robots/Force Field, if only because it's boring as all get out with the Bots.  Bots don't get exciting until they pick up their AoE, starting at L26 with the Assault Bot.  Robots/Traps gets you plenty of +defense to stack with the Protector Bots and plenty of tools that keep things from being stale, plus it's powerful.  Robot/Traps does have a bit of a hard time on speed-run teams due to the placed nature of its tools, but it's a great soloer and a powerful force-multiplier for regular teaming.  Time, as noted before, goes great with everything, Bots included.


Mercs:  Ah, mercs.  The mechanical outcast.  Widely regarded as the worst MM primary, and with good reason--they have a lot of holdovers from the game's very early design, plus a few mechanical issues that cut into their damage output.  If you're dead-set on Mercs, though, you can pick a secondary that mitigates their problems.  Nature's late-game powers crank up their damage and tankiness by quite a lot, so you end up playing support for them.  Works surprisingly well.  (See my "CDF Assassins" guide for the details)  Storm Summoning neatly solves three problems for Mercs: their damage output, by way of Storm's -res debuffing and extra pets, the trouble they get into once things hit melee range and break up their cones (blow things away from them with Gale and Hurricane), and their lack of a place to put the pet aura IOs (put 'em in Tornado).  Time is, of course, the do-everything secondary and really helps 'em out, too.







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Still a big fan of /dark, my second mm was necro/dark, dark never gets boring unlike /time. For a first time mm i'd go bots/dark, fearsome stare/tar patch/darkest night/ 1 tap heal from range/fluffy pretty smooth til mid 20's where all mm's kinda slow down til you get your tier 2 upgrade then its an easy ride til 50 and good for all content and soloing the tough stuff. Necro pets are kinda squishy and your forced into melee to keep them topped up. Bots bubbles really help you out. Necro/dark was my first av soloist but it was such a rough ride and i was carrying full trays of blue insps to get through just from having to constantly resummon pets. If your looking to run +4/8 content then /time maybe it but the debuffs aren't that great compared to a dark or trapper.

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Two suggested paths for demons/dark


1) Take fire epic for bonfire and rise of the phoenix. Stack recharge and endurance reduction in set bonuses like there is no tomorrow. This is because demons/dark depends on its debuffs and it's heals to survive. The heal has to target an enemy and has a 5% miss chance that cannot be erased, so once in a while a clutch heal simply will not go off and you will die. Same way, sometimes your debuff anchor just goes running, suddenly all the undebuffed mobs eat you for lunch. Being able to rez yourself once every 2 minutes means even in the hardest content, who cares. Death is a speed bump. 


2) Build your sets around your personal defenses, particularly around ranged and melee defense, consider taking provoke, do whatever else you want. Demons/dark is actually one of what I consider the few "good" tankerminds. The debuffs you throw out help add to your defenses, letting you potentially softcap yourself without actually softcapping yourself. Provoke is for bosses on up, you stand there with pets in bodyguard mode, taunt hard targets, take sorcery pool for the mez protection button, and use your heals and dark powers to stay alive and significantly lower the incoming damage on your pets and yourself. 


If you wanted to try any others, thugs/time, thugs/traps, thugs/cold, demons/elec, demons/nature, zombies elec, dark, or nature. All of them are powerhouses in their own way. If you want an MM that's a smooth ride to 50, those are the sets I would start looking at if you decide you're not a fan of how active demons dark is (toggle management is and always has been something of a pain)

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I’m going to through my vote in for a thugs/time to be your first mastermind. The combination makes it easy to keep your pets alive and they do good damage. Use the defense mode (can’t remember what it’s called, but it has a shield) that spreads the damage and you are golden. 

In my opinion the combination is very noob friendly and has lots of wiggle room. 

I never did masterminds on live and so made a few attempts on homecoming. I tried demons/thermal, demons/cold, thugs/storm and gave up on all of them eventually. Even got the thugs/storm to 50, but it was painful trying to keep everything alive. 

I then gave up on masterminds for about 8 months. Then I decided to try again. This time I did thugs/time and boy what a difference Time made. Regardless of the pet set I would suggest you use Time, though thugs pairs nicely with it. 

I had all but given up on the archetype until I did thugs/time. 

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Beast/Cold makes for a very forgiving first MM.  The /Cold side gives your pets (and team) massive survivability.  You really only need to learn to debuff priority targets with Ifrigidate/Benumb.


Lategame with IOs you can turn it into a buzzsaw with procs:  Ifrigidate can take Debuff and Slow damage procs and turns into a serious blast power with reliable damage (3 damage procs for 210 possible damage per shot).

Maxing pet DPS is all about using the procs that affect the highest number of their attacks.  Accuracy Debuff proc on Lions only affects one attack they use infrequently, for example, and so isn’t worth slotting.


Wolves with two Defense Debuff damage procs and an Achilles Heel double or triple their base damage and spread -res as they attack.  Versus one target, they can often keep the -res on it permanently.  Lions I put the Overwhelming Force KB proc in; it gives every one of their attacks a knockdown.  They can’t slot any useful damage procs, sadly.  Dire Wolf I found best with the Slow damage proc and the Soulbound Allegiance Build Up proc.  Slow will trigger on most of Dire’s attacks, and BU may proc on every attack it has.


For non-pet stuff, you want to focus toward one of two things:  personal Defense bonuses or ignore that and just go for max Recharge bonuses.  Personally, Recharge is most beneficial.  It lets you get things like Benumb and Heat Loss off more often.

So yeah!  Beast/Cold is easy to play and can be turned into massive DPS.  Your pets are softcapped to Defense with Cold shields on them, and Sleet, Infrigidate, Benumb, and Heat Loss hose Elite Bosses/Archvillains hard.


P.S.  For the love of god turn off the blocky ice shields at the tailor.  Also, using a really dark color (like dark grey) makes your ice shields far less hideous to look at.

Edited by SableShrike
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