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2 minutes ago, BrandX said:

Should mention, Sentinel's version of RTTC in /WP lacks the Tank/Scrap/Brute's -To-Hit component.

Hm, would a "Changes" section specifically to note any significant differences from the scrapper or brute version of the set be a good idea?

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16 minutes ago, GetRidOfWires said:

Bio Armor is a great fit with Beam Rifle, in my opinion. The bonus damage from the Disintegrate mechanic added to the Offense stance in Bio Armor, plus Offensive Opportunity, plus Assault are a large bonus to base damage. 

I actually completely agree, which is why I named the section something more cautious than "BAD COMBINATIONS" but perhaps a better name could be chosen? Looking for suggestions. I just think it's good for people to realize walking into a set combination if they won't have a lot of freedom to still hit something close to what we might be thinking of as a benchmark.

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8 hours ago, Sunsette said:

I actually completely agree, which is why I named the section something more cautious than "BAD COMBINATIONS" but perhaps a better name could be chosen? Looking for suggestions. I just think it's good for people to realize walking into a set combination if they won't have a lot of freedom to still hit something close to what we might be thinking of as a benchmark.

I'm not sure a section like that needs to exist.  Fun is subjective.  If someone wants to use the Ninja Tools for more -defense on Dual Pistols, then there really is a place for that.  Especially if you want to use an ammo power that removes the -defense component.  Plus the debuff stacks so there really isn't such a thing as too much.  I know your comment in that example was purely an off the cuff one, but what you or I value for our builds is going to be completely different to someone else.  

 

The best community offering, to me, is one that explains the strengths and weaknesses of a set.  Perhaps provide some guidance on the merits of shoring up a weakness, or how playing to a strength is better.  Another point about being good friends to other players is helping to avoid what Hjarki mentions on page one.  Slotting for a secondary is going to influence the primary and the reverse of that is true too.  For example, Bio Armor looks amazing on paper for all of its damage bonuses.  However, we see a lot of players trying to shoe horn in extra defenses to try and softcap everything.  This leads to slotting decisions with end results where the final attack chain probably isn't making much use of the damage bonus in the first place.  So why bother taking Bio Armor at that point when perhaps another secondary would allow better performance?  Here is where discussing the slotting and the strengths of a set like Bio (primarily it's absorbs/regen/healing) should help lessen the worry that many players have... surviving to do damage.  

There aren't many trap options in CoX, but there are some.  Those mostly come from the way certain IO's look in something like Pine's that lack mechanics/context.  One notable offender is Gaussian's: Chance to Build-Up in Tactics and Decimation: Chance to Build-Up in certain powers.  These look great on paper, but in reality they don't work that well without a lot of thought given to them.  Chasing 6pc Gaussian's in Tactics for Dual Pistols, for example, compromises build options for very little return on investment.  Those are the kinds of trap options player really do need to be warned about.  The rest is going to be up to the player.  

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11 hours ago, Sunsette said:

I actually completely agree, which is why I named the section something more cautious than "BAD COMBINATIONS" but perhaps a better name could be chosen? Looking for suggestions. I just think it's good for people to realize walking into a set combination if they won't have a lot of freedom to still hit something close to what we might be thinking of as a benchmark.

You could just make a section that focuses on the objective synergy of various sets, with different categories (good offense, good control, good survivability, jack of all trades, etc), and put combinations that have no real synergy under a "no synergy" or "bad synergy" category. If the goal is to create easy access to accurate information for Sentinel newcomers, I think categorization is a good goal, and "BAD COMBINATIONS" is just one single state among many that a given powerset combination can occupy.

 

I. E. from the discussion that's gone on already, it seems like BR/Bio is sub par defensively, but has above average damage potential.

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I've recently made a post regarding sonic/bio and how it was a dark horse. I believe the underlying why of it working so well is indeed all the CC that is incorporated in the regular attacks. When the mobs are constantly knocked down or disoriented we have a lot of breathing room, in particular with Bio's brand of regen. Now with Fire Cages this has gone up a lot though Fire Cages would do the same for any other ranged set. But having done a recent Manticore TF it was noticeable. Go in invisible with superspeed with the stealth IO, cast Dreadful Wail. Cast Screech whose Disorient stacks with Dreadful Wail's. That's one of the annoying bosses who pops a T9 now CCed until death. Fight another of those annoying bosses. At around 20% use Shockwave so it flops down instead of activating its T9.

 

Once I have leveled the character more and put it through its paces I'll make a write up for Sunsette.

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@XaoGarrent and @oldskool, thanks for the feedback. After some more thought I think it may be best to eliminate a per-set section discussing dissynergies and instead have a primer section discussing common benchmarks optimizers try to reach and considerations that should be taken into account. This will reduce per set clutter. Such a primer would also be a good place to discuss hidden mechanics like how defense and resistance work to begin with,  PPM slotting, Enhancement Diversification, debuffs, etc.

 

The powerset review would retain a per-set review of strong synergies, just not a warning section.

 

Does that seem like a better alternative?

Edited by Sunsette
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2 hours ago, Sunsette said:

@XaoGarrent and @oldskool, thanks for the feedback. After some more thought I think it may be best to eliminate a per-set section discussing dissynergies and instead have a primer section discussing common benchmarks optimizers try to reach and considerations that should be taken into account. This will reduce per set clutter. Such a primer would also be a good place to discuss hidden mechanics like how defense and resistance work to begin with,  PPM slotting, Enhancement Diversification, debuffs, etc.

 

The powerset review would retain a per-set review of strong synergies, just not a warning section.

 

Does that seem like a better alternative?

Yeah, it does... Having a rundown of synergies on a powerset by powerset basis sounds like it'll be easier to compactify and organize anyway.

 

Though the mechanics stuff does sound a bit broad for a Sentinel thread specifically, I can't bring myself to complain given I don't know of an up to date, detailed and accurate source of that anywhere... And I'm still really foggy on many of the details myself. >_>

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My goal is to make it a one-stop shop of what you need to know to play this AT as effectively as you would like to; I took a similar approach with my Energy Blast Guide and people seemed to appreciate it. I'll update our template accordingly and wait for any last feedback.

 

I won't ask @drbuzzard to resubmit, I'll try to fit your information to what we have, and I'll create a sign-up sheet in the first post so we can see who's contributed to what.

Edited by Sunsette
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I've had a pretty rough weekend with no CoH actual gaming time, so I'm going to actually game today (Monday). Either Tuesday or Wednesday I'll put up sample submissions for Energy Blast and Beam Rifle, Energy Blast obv. being heavily adapted from my own guide.

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I write a lot about Dual Pistols, and I should probably compile my ideas on it as reviewer.  Assault Rifle is also one that I play, and I don't mind doing that too.  I'll offer some insight on Ninjutsu, Dark Armor, and Willpower.  I think I have a firm understanding on those. 

I will provide a secondary analysis of Dark Blast because I am an unashamed Dark power fan.  I also recently made a Psionics character for a hypothesis.  I'll share my thoughts there.  I don't mind tossing my two cents on Archery too.  Of the characters I have made, both the Psi/Nin and Archery/Nin have had some of the highest hypothetical damage out of my Sentinels builds.  I don't bother with Fire because I already know it is good. 

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Primary Powerset: Beam Rifle

  • High Single-Target Damage, High AoE Damage (1 Cone/2-3 Spheres), Medium Control
  • Low chance of single-target knockdown, Occasional single-target and AoE stuns, Medium regeneration debuffs, Medium defense debuffs,  Medium-Low Resistance debuffs (depending on slotting).

Beam Rifle is one of the strongest Sentinel sets, as might be apparent by the above summary. Combining a good damage type with a plethora of side-effects, you can sweep over the entire battlefield dealing excellent damage in most scenarios, improving your allies' ability to deal damage, and reducing the damage output of enemies. While there are no situations where Beam Rifle uniquely excels compared to other top Sentinel primary sets, there are no situations where Beam Rifle is not a top contender, either. Its greatest strength and drawback is that it's a complete nine-power set, and you cannot skip any powers you won't miss -- though it's possible to keep the loss focused on exemplar levels.

 

If you're coming to Beam Rifle from another Archetype, be warned that the Opportunity mechanic makes getting rid of your T2 more difficult than on other ATs, and that the snipe has been replaced with one of the best AoEs in the game. Overall, this is generally considered to be an improvement to the set at endgame, but in my opinion it takes a little longer for the set to reach good 'flow' when compared to the Blaster, Defender, and Corruptor versions of this set.

 

Beginner's Overview

As a Sentinel, Beam Rifle rewards very aggressive run-and-gun play from the lowest levels. You can count on your first two attacks to knock opponents down about once every 4 or 5 attacks. Your first AoE is the hardest to work with: Cutting Beam is a cone. Don't be afraid at low levels to run to reposition just to get more enemies in the sweep. CoH calculates cone targets based on who was in it when you first began activating the attack, so it's okay if enemies immediately ruin the cone after you reposition yourself. At low levels, you will not have an attack available at all times, so it is more important to make sure that your attacks aren't wasted than to make sure you are using every button the second it lights up.

 

It's important to remember that Sentinel Aim, unlike Blaster Aim, increases Sentinel attack ranges by 33%, which is an extra 12 feet on Cutting Beam, Refractor Beam, and Overcharge. Don't be afraid to use it in conjunction with Cutting Beam when you're low level, though you'll eventually have better uses for it.

 

Make sure to use Brawl at times to finish off foes, especially in conjunction with offensive or defensive opportunity; at low levels you hit relatively light without disintegrate up on the target.

 

Every attack in the set gets an additional effect when used on a target that is currently suffering from Disintegrate, which lasts about 10 seconds. The only exception is Disintegrate itself. These effects are listed below for a level 50 sentinel with no enhancements, accolades, incarnate, or temporary powers active. (Level 50 just for the ease of comparison with character design tools). With the exception of Single Shot, these effects are improved as normal by your enhancements and other sources of bonuses,

 

Power Disintegrate Rider Effect
  Single Shot   -75% Regeneration, chance to spread Disintegrate "nearby"1
  Charged Shot   13 energy damage, chance to spread Disintegrate "nearby"1
  Cutting Beam   16 energy damage
  Disintegrate   N/A
  Lancer Shot   22.4 energy damage, chance to spread Disintegrate "nearby"1 2
  Refractor Beam   15.7 energy damage
  Piercing Beam   37.83 energy damage
  Overcharge   100% chance of Mag 3 stun, 6.4s (normally 60% chance of Mag 3 stun, 3.2s)

Approximately 15 feet, I think.

2 Whenever next patch finally hits, Lancer Shot will have a 100% chance to spread Disintegrate.

 

Disintegrate has a long-ish recharge for a DoT, so likewise, pick your primary disintegration targets well. After you've gotten both Disintegrate and Cutting Beam, my usual policy on a group is to open with Cutting Beam, follow with Disintegrate on the toughest enemy there, nail them with Single Shot and Charged Shot and hope Disintegrate spreads, then cycle Cutting Beam and Single Shot and Charged Shot to empty the group.

 

Piercing Beam is where the set begins to really feel like you've got a beam rifle and not a beam pistol, in my opinion, due to how hard it and Lancer Shot hit on targets that have disintegration active. Generally your opening salvos at mid-high levels will be Aim+Overcharge if it's up; Disintegrate followed by Piercing Beam and Lancer Shot (in that order) if it's not. The latter set will change at very high levels, but these are great alpha salvos as you're leveling. By the 30s, you generally have enough attacks that repositioning to try and get more than one target in either Cutting Beam's cone or Piercing Beam's line is usually not worth it, but always keep your eyes open on enemy formations. I don't move much during fights, but I do swap targets to make the most of my AoEs. 

 

Slotting

Due to the high amounts of -defense built into the set, and a slightly higher than average accuracy, I would generally not slot more than one accuracy enhancement into any Beam Rifle power at any time. Your standard attack slotting for BR should look something like: 1 Acc, 2 Dam, 1 End Redux, 1 Rech, 1 Dam in roughly that order. Prestige Enhancements are useful here, being worth about the same as a single SO split between damage and recharge, which is the same as two DOs or four TOs. It's a good idea to slot Kismet: +Accuracy at the first available moment, around level 7, but it requires a power that takes defense enhancements and it's worth about 4.5 million influence to buy.

 

From level 18 to the late 40s, Force Feedback: Chance for Recharge may be of value to you in Single Shot and Charged Shot, but don't hold your breath too much -- not a high chance to activate in those attacks, and they cost about 1 to 2 million influence each. Charged Shot is a better choice than Single Shot.

 

As with all Sentinel powersets, you benefit heavily from getting the two-set and three-set range bonuses on Archetype Origin Enhancements at the first opportunity, but these cost roughly 8 million apiece, and will be out of reach for many new characters. Likewise, you should put Gaussian's Synchronized Fire Control: Chance for Build-Up in Aim, and no more than about 70% enhancement recharge in Aim to maximize Build-Up chances.

 

Skippable Powers

Beam Rifle has no powers that are advisable to skip while leveling, which can make it uncomfortable to wait for your travel powers. (Praise Cole for Ninja Run, right?) However, as you approach endgame with your build, with enough global recharge in your build, it is reasonable to respecialize out of one or two attacks.

  • Single Shot or Charged Shot. Many sentinels make the choice to only keep one of their two Active Opportunity triggering powers, and BR users are not unusual in this regard. Due to Offensive Opportunity offering only a modest boost (about 8 to 10% extra damage) to its primary target when the attack is fully enhanced, while Defensive Opportunity offers endurance and healing with a chance to occur on every target in an AoE damage power, much of the choice comes down to whether you think it is more important to be good at fighting single tough targets or to be good at fighting groups. This is amplified by the fact that Single Shot carries a significant -75% regeneration penalty that matters most on archvillains and giant monsters, while Charged Shot hits harder and more efficiently on regular enemies. I personally find that both attacks are situationally very useful, and you will regret not having both if you exemplar down to a very low level or get hit by a substantial amount of recharge slow. Therefore, I take both, but use them both primarily as set mules.
  • Cutting Beam. Though by no means bad, cones can be very frustrating to work with if you are not teaming with a brute, tanker, controller, or dominator who is good at keeping foes in a tight formation. Again, this is an attack that you will miss when exemplaring, so think carefully about skipping it. With Cutting Beam, Beam Rifle is the strongest AoE damage Sentinel; without it, it's still a pretty strong AoE choice. Cutting Beam is the most commonly skipped power in level 50 Beam Rifle Sentinel builds, in my experience, and I skip it myself (though it makes Positron Task Force very painful).

 

Advanced Slotting

My general advice with Sentinel powers and advanced IO slotting is to put a 6-slotted Very Rare damage set into your best single target damage attack (here: Apocalypse into Lancer Shot) and a 5-slotted Very Rare damage set into your T9 attack (here: Ragnarok into Overcharge, skipping the Damage enhancement -- it's way overkill for a L50 five-slot). For the sixth slot into Overcharge, put Achilles' Heel: Chance for -Res. This is highly recommended: Overcharge has a very good chance to activate it, and it means all attacks following Overcharge will do an additional 20% of their base damage. Disintegrate and either Single Shot or Charged Shot should get the two Superior Archetype Enhancement sets, and I haven't seen a very big performance difference in which you put where.

 

If you have both Single Shot and Charged Shot, I'd recommend six-slotting Sudden Acceleration in the other attack, as it's a good general purpose mule, or Superior Winter's Bite if needed for more defense.

 

Cutting Beam, Refractor Beam, and Piercing Beam should all be five-slotted with Positron's Blast, skipping Damage/Recharge; enhancement recharge cuts the chance for IO procs to occur on an attack, and IO procs are very important to maximizing Beam Rifle. (However, if your global recharge is very low, it may be better to skip Damage/Range instead). Piercing Beam should always put Annihilation: Chance for -Res in the sixth slot, as it grants about a 40% chance for another -12.5% Resistance. The sixth slots for the other two AoEs are more variable. I recommend Touch of Lady Grey: Chance for Negative Energy Damage in Refractor Beam and Cutting Beam, as they are primarily tools for mopping up weak enemies that survived your Overcharge attack, but you can also put Achilles' Heel: Chance for -Res (3.5 PPM, -20% Res) or Annihilation: Chance for -Res (3 PPM, -12.5% Res) as you feel is best. Conventional wisdom is that proc debuffs do not stack from different attacks by the same person if they use the same IO, so there's good reasons to use Annihilation alongside Achilles' Heel. 

 

Basic Rotation

Lancer Shot and Piercing Beam on targets that have been affected by Disintegrate are vastly higher DPA than any other attacks in the entire set, but all three have fairly long recharges for single-target attacks. Furthermore, Piercing Beam introduces a hefty (and stacking!) -res penalty. Disintegrate's damage-over-time (but not its -regen) stacks and it is roughly on par with the third-best attack's DPA (Charged Shot on a disintegrating target). At most you only ever want to use Single Shot about once every 10 seconds. For simplicity's sake, that means the entire rotation is really about using Piercing Beam, Disintegrate, and Lancer Shot as much as possible in that order (timed to take advantage of recharges and animation times); Charged Shot as a filler; and Single Shot every five abilities, if it's an Elite Boss, Archvillain, or Giant Monster. It is possible at perma-hasten levels to remove Charged Shot from rotation entirely.

 

Make sure to use Aim+Overcharge at every opportunity, and that your Aim is slotted correctly -- Chance for Build-Up, at least 53% enhancement recharge and no more than 70% enhancement recharge.

 

Complementary Choices

  • Due to the amount of tools Beam Rifle contains within itself, there are no secondary sets that stand out to me as especially synergistic with Beam Rifle. All should function well with this primary. It is worth noting that secondaries which are defense-oriented or contain recharge (or both) will make it easier to reach a high DPS single-target rotation and get the most out of your T9, as with all Sentinels.
  • The best Epic Pool choice for Beam Rifle is likely Electric; it contains an immobilize if that's important to you, Havoc Punch can offer a modest (~12%) single-target DPS increase on its own, and Lightning Field is a 10 DPS (~4%) damage increase, Jolt is decent damage and stacks with Beam's own stuns, and Rehabilitating Circuit is the best epic heal (not that that's saying much). That said, I find it hard to fit any epic powers into many Beam Rifle builds.
  • Hasten is very important to Beam Rifle as it results in a significant DPS increase if the rotation can be minimized. Leadership and Fighting are strong choices for every Sentinel.
  • Any travel power works fine, since Beam doesn't care very much about positioning on Sentinels.

 

Incarnate Abilities

  • Alpha: I don't recommend any Alpha slot ability that reduces recharge, as the alpha is considered to be enhancement recharge and significantly reduces the chance that all of your very important procs activate. This makes your best choices Musculature Core (DamageImmobilize DurationDefense Debuff) or Intuition Radial (Range, Damage, Hold Duration, Slow Duration, Defense Debuff, To-Hit Debuff). Intuition Radial is a better choice if you want to use Cutting Beam regularly as range makes cones far more bearable, but you should otherwise prefer Musculature Core. If you're having significant endurance issues, please consider other options than using your alpha slot; Cardiac Core (Endurance Reduction, Range, Damage Resistance) can't help you while you're exemped down, and it's a significant loss of potential damage as compared to the other two options.
  • Judgement: Pyronic Core is the highest damage option and fastest casting option; Ionic Core is the best at damaging over a very wide area. Both are excellent choices for Beam Rifle, but there are only good choices here.
  • Interface: Your best choices should be Reactive Radial or Degenerative (either) for damage. Reactive Radial is better than Reactive Core, as fire DoTs will cancel if any of them miss, so a high reapply chance is good, Diamagnetic Core is a great choice for survival, but the Regeneration penalty is mediocre.
  • Lore: There are no bad choices in Core Lore slots, while Radial slots are mostly bad. Longbow Core is notable for an extremely high amount of -regen, which is great for soloing; Robotic Drone Core has half as much -regen, but are a good alternative for visual variety. Banished Pantheon Radial is notable for having an untouchable support pet that can deal damage, and is a great choice for soloing.
  • Destiny: If you have no other way to manage your endurance problems, go for Ageless. The choice between Ageless Core and Ageless Radial is between a ridiculous amount of endurance and a bit of haste, versus a good amount of endurance and defense debuff resistance. Otherwise, Barrier Core is a strong defensive choice for every Sentinel build, and Clarion Radial will increase your range, secondary set, and some of your side effects for a time. 
  • Hybrid: Assault is by far the strongest choice. For a Sentinel, I would recommend Assault Core over Assault Radial, unless you know you will frequently be in situations where you will be at the cap for +damage, such as in Incarnate Trials or the Hamidon Raid. Assault Core runs slightly behind Radial in single-target damage for a Sentinel, but proc chances for Radial drop heavily with the size of an AoE, causing it to exacerbate the Sentinel's biggest weakness. While Radial bypasses the cap, Core gives the Sentinel more damage in situations where the Sentinel's individual damage contributions are most important. You could experiment with Control Radial and not hate it.
Edited by Sunsette
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Good lord, Sunsette! This is top shelf work! Thank you.

I don't think I'm in a position to critique. I do have one question regarding:

27 minutes ago, Sunsette said:

Alpha: I don't recommend any Alpha slot ability that reduces recharge, as it significantly reduces the chance that all of your very important procs activate.

I'm not at that level yet, but does this statement apply to recharge reduction in general? I'm asking with Luck of the Gambler: Defense/Increased Global Recharge Speed in mind. Does LotG hurt procs(ination) more than it helps?

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6 minutes ago, Six Six said:

Good lord, Sunsette! This is top shelf work! Thank you.

I don't think I'm in a position to critique. I do have one question regarding:

I'm not at that level yet, but does this statement apply to recharge reduction in general? I'm asking with Luck of the Gambler: Defense/Increased Global Recharge Speed in mind. Does LotG hurt procs(ination) more than it helps?

Global recharge, such as from set bonuses, hasten, LotG, etc, do not impact proc performance. Only enhanced recharge does. Alphas with a recharge boost are effectively a global enhancement (follows rules of enhancement diversification), so yes, Alphas will impact proc performance. 

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PPM Information Guide                Survivability Tool                  Interface DoT Procs Guide

Time Manipulation Guide             Bopper Builds                      +HP/+Regen Proc Cheat Sheet

Movement Speed: Guide              Recharge Guide                   Base Empowerment: Temp Powers


Bopper's Tools & Formulas           RubyRed's API Tool              Mids' Reborn                       

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8 minutes ago, Six Six said:

Good lord, Sunsette! This is top shelf work! Thank you.

I don't think I'm in a position to critique. I do have one question regarding:

I'm not at that level yet, but does this statement apply to recharge reduction in general? I'm asking with Luck of the Gambler: Defense/Increased Global Recharge Speed in mind. Does LotG hurt procs(ination) more than it helps?

No, as that's global recharge. Global recharge has no negative effect on PPM IOs, unlike enhancement recharge. The Alpha is unfortunately a form of enhancement recharge. I think this was a very bad developer decision as it ultimately benefits defense based sets even more than they are already favored for every non-tanking purpose and makes Musculature very hard to argue with as an alpha choice for damage dealers. 

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Very good work Sunsette. Everyone will have a hard time following on that 😄

 

 

On a different topic I'm just going to think out loud here. I'm starting to believe that Bio's 30% extra damage is actually a bit of a noob trap.

 

We either work the defenses up to a good level (32% or 40%. Actually 45% to all is near impossible) and then we cannot make use of procs and recharge is not as good as it could, or we play almost like old school blasters with defenses hovering at around 25% ish, which, in my experience, is like playing naked.

 

There is a lot of talk in the Defender forums and the Scrapper Pylon Thread regarding procs and how they boost the damage by a *lot*, but that demands we can reach our personal defensive goals via minimal involvement from our primary.

 

After these weeks of messing with Bio on a sentinel when I went back to Ninjutsu (DDR, heal, endurance clicky, stealth, movement speed, all in a neat low FX package) I was *shocked* (hyperbole, hehe) at how I had softcapped defenses and still had 12-15 slots to use! *Without* having touched the primary (in this case Dark though Ice is a good proc contender too albeit not for the rains who don't take well to procs, apparently).

 

Though Pines is not the best to calculate procs due to the PPM formula not being 100% accurate in it, numbers show, for example.

 

T2 attack:

 

- Gloom 344 damage, 78% accuracy, 95% damage, 47 endurance. Cloud Senses and Javelin proc. 

 

- Scream 224 damage, 96% accuracy, 96% damage, 49% discount, 72% recharge. With bio's 30% that adds 67 damage making it 291 damage. Not including sonic's -res since we can make a sonic/ninja.

 

T3:

 

- Antenumbral Beam: 548 damage. 59% accuracy, 89% damage, 33% discount. 89% recharge (this is probably not well slotted since the PPM will go down if recharge is slotted in an attack. But I wanted to slot in a purple for the 10%. This might still require fine tuning). Cloud Senses and Javelin proc.

 

- Screech: 388 damage,  96% accuracy, 101% damage,  49% discount, 100% recharge. With Bio's 30% that makes 116 = 504 damage.

 

Dark is probably not the best choice for a proc optimized build though.

 

 

Where Bio pushes ahead is how it increases the damage of AoEs where the procs will not hit *everyone* but rather just one mob in the middle of the other ten (someone correct me if wrong) though T9's vary. Dark 's Blackstar, for example, without procs is 562 damage while Sonic's Dreadful Wail is 534 with Bio turning it into 694.

 

My Sonic sentinel has Hasten at 131 recharge with two +5 recharges whereas the Dark has the same slotting but Hasten at 123. No incarnates used.

 

 

This is all dependent on how fixated we are on defenses. Ignore melee, ignore AoE, focus solely on ranged, and we can slot all those procs in and still bask in Bio's 30% (though I am almost sure the 30% does not actually increase the proc's damage since those also ignore Fulcrum Shift. Again, someone correct me if wrong) but if we are aiming at Blaster's level of defenses then why not just roll one.

 

Edit: had to revise the numbers since Dark had a Gaussian BU in Aim and Sonic did not. I placed a Gaussian BU in Aim for Sonic as well and the numbers assume Aim is up and BU procced.

Edited by Sovera
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Primary Powerset: Energy Blast

  • Medium Single-Target Damage, Medium AoE Damage (1 Cone/1 Sphere/1 PBAoE), High Control
  • Medium-High chance of knockback.

 

Energy Blast is a visually beautiful, aurally satisfying, mechanically unglued set that is surprisingly complex to master despite its simple appearance. As one of the oldest sets in City of Heroes development, Energy Blast is the prototype for all of the blast sets that came later, which means that in most of its implementations, it has neither glaring weaknesses, nor significant strengths.

 

It is not well-served by its conversion to the Sentinel, as the Sentinel's shorter range and high damage melee abilities -- like its PBAOE T9 -- are at odds with knockback, and the Sentinel's lower damage requires you to do more knockback and exposes the subpar damage of most of Energy Blast's attacks. What is worst is that only two attacks in the whole set actually guarantee knockback. The rest are random chance, so it is extremely difficult to rely on the results being consistent. Adding to the chaos is that Power Push -- traditionally a fast recharge, low damage attack in Energy Blast -- was made the most efficient damaging ability in the set for Sentinels, meaning the standard Sentinel rotation involves a magnitude 13.3 knockback on a base 60 ft. range every 3 to 8 seconds.

 

This chaos can be harnessed and smoothed out as one reaches the higher levels of play, ultimately culminating in an effective combatant.

 

Beginner's Overview

Unusually among Sentinel sets, four of Sentinel Energy Blast's five single target attacks are almost the same attack, just with different animation, recharge, and raw damage. Their DPA is all within a 10% variance of the median, and they all have basically the same side effect -- a chance of mild knockback.  As long as you take Power Push at level 12 -- an unusually damaging attack that animates quickly and recharges fast, the one exception to the 'sameyness rule' -- you can take basically any other combination of single-target attacks from Energy Blast and do about the same as most anyone else leveling up. When you get to 50, there are some advanced tricks you can pull to better differentiate your attacks, but I don't advise worrying about them before then.

 

You will need to reposition heavily to make the most out of Energy Torrent and Explosive Blast -- not only because Energy Torrent is a cone and cones demand positioning to hit their targets efficiently, but also because your position determines the direction that enemies go flying. If you can deliver your knockbacks from as straight above as you can manage, it is likely that your AoE attacks will send enemies only down to the floor in a manageable knockdown. Flight and stealth will both help you a lot with pulling this off. 

 

Slotting

Due to the common resistance to smashing damage, I would generally not slot more than one accuracy enhancement into any Energy Blast power at any time; due to all attacks being virtually the same attack, recharge isn't very important for you while leveling either, and you can just take more attacks instead. Your standard attack slotting for Energy Blast should look something like: 1 Acc, 2 Dam, 1 End Redux, 1 Dam, and 1 enhancement of your choice for the last slot. Prestige Enhancements are useful here, being worth about the same as a single SO split between damage and recharge, which is the same as two DOs or four TOs. It's a good idea to slot Kismet: +Accuracy at the first available moment to keep you from regretting only have one accuracy enhancement. It can first be slotted around level 7, but it requires a power that takes defense enhancements and it's worth about 4.5 million influence to buy.

 

Some IOs to consider slotting as you level include Force Feedback: Chance for Recharge, Explosive Strike: Chance for Smashing Damage, and Sudden Acceleration: Knockback to Knockdown. The first two are proc IOs and benefit from going in your slowest recharging attacks, while I would save Sudden Acceleration for Power Push and Nova, your guaranteed knockback powers that can ruin your own day by sending enemies everywhere you don't want them to. The Chance for Recharge and Absorb in Sentinel's Ward also deserves special mention for going into Explosive Blast with a high chance to trigger when used on a group, reduce its own cooldown, and give you an HP buffer.

 

As with all Sentinel powersets, you benefit heavily from getting the two-set and three-set range bonuses on Archetype Origin Enhancements at the first opportunity, but these cost roughly 8 million apiece, and will be out of reach for many new characters. Likewise, you should put Gaussian's Synchronized Fire Control: Chance for Build-Up in Aim, and no more than about 70% enhancement recharge in Aim to maximize Build-Up chances.

 

Skippable Powers

While leveling up, there's really only four powers in Energy Blast that are folly to skip: Aim, Power Push, Nova, and Explosive Blast. Everything else is to taste.

 

This alters at the high levels of play, when every power except your choice of the T1 (Power Bolt) or the T2 (Power Blast) becomes mandatory. The two are virtually identical at high gear levels, so consider their Opportunity effects: Offensive Opportunity gives no benefit whatsoever to PBAoEs like Nova (aside from the generic -res common to it and Defensive Opportunity), so there are strong arguments to keep either or both of the T1 and T2. By my calculations, Offensive Opportunity is about a 3 to 5% damage contribution to single-target damage on a highly-geared level 50, so while that can make a difference in an AV solo, you will probably want Defensive Opportunity otherwise.

 

Advanced Slotting

When slotting, you have to make a decision: do you want to use Nova regularly, or primarily as an AV-killer? Regardless of your choice, five of your slots for Nova will go into the Armageddon Set if you can afford it, Obliteration or Scirocco if you can't; in either case, skip the IO that only boosts damage. The sixth is where you make your choice.

 

Nova: AV-Killer

If you want a power to kill AVs, put in Fury of the Gladiator: Chance for -Res. It has an 88 to 90% chance to activate per target (depending on what set and how boosted it is, assuming you do not have a recharge incarnate alpha), and makes the affected targets extremely vulnerable for the next 10 seconds. However, it will also spread enemies everywhere, meaning you have to be more thoughtful about when to use it against non-archvillains. I still use Nova regularly regardless, just not with the reckless abandon another setup allows.

 

Doing this means you need Energy Torrent as an actual attack to handle the average pack of enemies, or an AoE immobilize to use Nova safely. If the former, five-slot Energy Torrent with Positron's Blast, skipping Damage/Recharge; the additional range makes it less of a chore to use Energy Torrent effectively. The sixth slot should go into Sudden Acceleration: Knockback to Knockdown. If you chose the latter, five-slot with Gravitational Anchor, skipping the proc, or three slot with Endoplasm Exposures, Graviton Particles, or Calcite Shards from the Special Origin enhancements.

 

This also means that it's imperative you maximize the damage from Explosive Blast. A combination of Posi's Blast (Acc/Dam, Dam/Range, Chance of Damage), the damage procs from Explosive Strike and Javelin Volley, and Sudden Acceleration: Knockback to Knockdown will give much more damage than straight-slotting Posi's Blast into Explosive Blast, though it demands that you have a lot of accuracy and to-hit from other sources in your build if you want to actually hit.

 

Disregard AVs, Spam Nova

If you want to use Nova whenever it lights up, regardless of situation, put in Sudden Acceleration: Knockback to Knockdown in the sixth slot in Nova. This means you don't really need Energy Torrent to actually attack with unless you're exemplared down, in which case use it as a set mule; six-slot it with Sudden Acceleration and forget it exists.

 

Because you have Nova in your regular rotation, you can disregard a little bit of damage in Explosive Blast. A combination of Posi's Blast (Acc/Dam, Dam/Range, Chance of Damage), one of the two damage procs from Explosive Strike and Javelin Volley, and Sudden Acceleration: Knockback to Knockdown will give much more damage than straight-slotting Posi's Blast into Explosive Blast, though it demands that you have a lot of accuracy and to-hit from other sources in your build if you want to actually hit. If you've been counting, you used one less IO in Explosive Blast than for the AV-killing build. With this last slot, insert Force Feedback: Chance for Recharge. If you make sure to hit a lot of targets, this will shave several seconds off of your Nova.

 

Single Target Attacks

Regardless of your choices with the AoE attacks, you'll want to put Apocalypse in Power Push to at least five slots, not including the +Damage IO. You have the choice of finishing the set to gain about 9 Damage and 5% Psi Defense, inserting Explosive Strike: Chance for Smashing Damage to get a 30% chance of 71.75 damage, or putting in Sudden Acceleration: Knockback to Knockdown if the extreme push on Power Push is annoying. Power Push will be your bread and butter attack, to be used every cooldown.

 

Power Burst will be your second-most used attack, and should six-slot Superior Opportunity Strikes to slightly improve your speed of getting Opportunity.

 

Focused Power Bolt is your third attack, only used if Power Push and Power Burst are on cooldown, annoyingly slow, but with okay-enough damage. Five-slot Decimation here, making certain to not boost any IO here that improves Recharge; in the sixth slot, insert Explosive Strike: Chance for Smashing Damage.

 

Finally, put Superior Sentinel's Ward in your Opportunity attack. If you grabbed both, put six slots of Sudden Acceleration in the other.


Basic Rotation

Use Power Push, Power Burst, and Focused Power Bolt as often as possible if you have them, in that priority. With enough recharge, you should be able to use Power Push every other attack. Use Nova whenever it's up, as appropriate -- vs. groups if you gave it knockback-to-knockdown or somehow are mitigating the KB, vs. single-target if you gave it Fury of the Gladiator. 

 

Complementary Choices

  • Energy Blast really, really likes recharge speed from its secondary (Energy Aura, Electric Armor, Radiation Armor, and Super Reflexes). A secondary that has a damaging PBAoE of its own also shifts the burden of slotting Fury of the Gladiator off of Nova into something else. (Dark Armor, Fiery Aura, Radiation Armor). If you opt to use an epic pool that grants a KB-blocking AoE immob, you also want a secondary that is very survivable because you will be getting hit a lot. (Dark Armor, Energy Aura, Invulnerability, Super Reflexes).
  • The best Epic Pool choice for Energy Blast is likely Psionic or Fire. Psionic contains a high damage melee attack and a good frankenslot candidate as well as a powerful final ability in Link Minds, while Fire has a very convenient AoE to block knockback to free up Knockback-to-Knockdown IO choices and offers a good DPA melee attack. AoE immobilizes that block KB are nice because on Sentinel, they are only Mag 3; this means bosses are not immobilized, and can still be knocked around to offer a degree of soft control.
  • Hasten is very important to Energy Blast as it results in a significant DPS increase if the rotation can be minimized. Leadership and Fighting are strong choices for every Sentinel.
  • Methods of stealth like, uh, Stealth and Superspeed are good for getting into position without fuss, while Flight and Sorcery allow you to get into better positions to begin with -- very important with knockback and cones.
     

Incarnate Abilities

  • Alpha: I don't recommend any Alpha slot ability that reduces recharge, as the alpha is considered to be enhancement recharge and significantly reduces the chance that all of your very important procs activate. This makes your best choices Musculature Core (DamageImmobilize DurationDefense Debuff) or Intuition Radial (Range, Damage, Hold DurationSlow Duration, Defense Debuff, To-Hit Debuff). Intuition Radial is a better choice if you want to use Energy Torrent regularly as range makes cones far more bearable, but you should otherwise prefer Musculature Core. If you're having significant endurance issues, please consider other options than using your alpha slot; Cardiac Core (Endurance Reduction, Range, Damage Resistance) can't help you while you're exemped down, and it's a significant loss of potential damage as compared to the other two options.
  • Judgement: Pyronic Core is the highest damage option and fastest casting option; Ionic Core is the best at damaging over a very wide area. Both are excellent choices for Energy Blast, but there are only good choices hereMighty Radial Judgement is also a strong choice, as you have to PBAoE anyway with Nova, and it helps you juggle foes.
  • Interface: Your best choices should be Reactive Radial or Degenerative (either) for damage. Reactive Radial is better than Reactive Core, as fire DoTs will cancel if any of them miss, so a high reapply chance is good, Diamagnetic Core is a great choice for survival, but the Regeneration penalty is mediocre.
  • Lore: There are no bad choices in Core Lore slots, while Radial slots are mostly bad. Longbow Core is notable for an extremely high amount of -regen, which is great for soloing; Robotic Drone Core has half as much -regen, but are a good alternative for visual variety. Banished Pantheon Radial is notable for having an untouchable support pet that can deal damage, and is a great choice for soloing.
  • Destiny: If you have no other way to manage your endurance problems, go for Ageless. The choice between Ageless Core and Ageless Radial is between a ridiculous amount of endurance and a bit of haste, versus a good amount of endurance and defense debuff resistance. Otherwise, Barrier Core is a strong defensive choice for every Sentinel build, and Clarion Radial will increase your range, secondary set, and some of your side effects for a time. 
  • Hybrid: Assault is by far the strongest choice. For a Sentinel, I would recommend Assault Core over Assault Radial, unless you know you will frequently be in situations where you will be at the cap for +damage, such as in Incarnate Trials or the Hamidon Raid. Assault Core runs slightly behind Radial in single-target damage for a Sentinel, but proc chances for Radial drop heavily with the size of an AoE, causing it to exacerbate the Sentinel's biggest weakness. While Radial bypasses the cap, Core gives the Sentinel more damage in situations where the Sentinel's individual damage contributions are most important. Melee Core or Melee Radial can help shore up an offensive secondary that is relatively bad at survival.
Edited by Sunsette
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@Sovera

 

Acknowledging your post re: Bio as a "noob trap' -- I'm not an expert on Bio, I've had zero ideas that work with it and I don't play sets I don't have a conceptual link to. However, I think the real trap is pushing for 45% defenses on anything but fire/bio (which can afford to lose a lot of its damage). You don't need softcap to everything when you also have solid resistance and healing and high damage. People can get too fixated on the soft cap specifically when it's not always what they need.

Edited by Sunsette
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25 minutes ago, Sunsette said:

@Sovera

 

Acknowledging your post re: Bio as a "noob trap' -- I'm not an expert on Bio, I've had zero ideas that work with it and I don't play sets I don't have a conceptual link to. However, I think the real trap is pushing for 45% defenses on anything but fire/bio (which can afford to lose a lot of its damage). You don't need softcap to everything when you also have solid resistance and healing and high damage. People can get too fixated on the soft cap specifically when it's not always what they need.

 

I revised the numbers posted since the initial impromptu post-something-while-having-breakfast wasn't well fleshed out. The numbers in ST are closer but depending on how procs work in AoEs Bio boosts those by a good margin.

 

As for what you said, hmmm, I personally don't agree. Healing and resistances crumple like paper under a beating. Healing and resistances work to mitigate the hits that do come in. I speak under the throw-myself-at-a-high-level-pack approach and not a follow-the-tank.

 

That said a 32% approach is much less demanding and if taking too much damage a single purple candy will greatly mitigate damage while said healing and resists keep us up.

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Yeah, I mean, don't get me wrong -- you still have to build for defenses. But on my /EA, which has a lot less resistance and healing than Bio, I was able to throw myself into packs before I was softcapped just by being in the 40% range. 32 to 42 seems like a great range for Bio to aspire to and the best Sent bios I know don't beeline for softcap. Staying at range rather than closing into melee constantly also helps a lot, even if you're charging ahead; almost every enemy group is much less scary if they're forced to chuck things at you rather than smack you around. 

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@Sunsette bravo!  It is nice to see the format with some life in it, and that really gives me some inspiration on how to approach those sets I want to review. 

@Sovera, et al, you are touching on a point that I have tried, maybe even clumsily at times, to bring up.  I don't mean this in a "I told you so" manner, but you are touching on something I have observed.  Chasing 45% defense has opportunity costs as well as damage costs.  I have seen many Blaster builds that do less damage than what an optimized Sentinel is capable of.  This is despite the difference in base damage modifier.  Part of the reason on how a Sentinel can so dramatically close the gap is tied to a few things.  Some sets, but not all, made out incredibly well on single-target (Archery/Psionic/Dual Pistols/Dark Blast) because their rotation is different.  Archery on Sentinels has no need for either Snap Shot or Aimed Shot.  Instead you can run Stunning Shot - Blazing Arrow - Perfect Shot.  Compound this by running Musculature vs Agility (common on Blasters) and already being able to hit 45% defense due to a secondary and Sentinels start looking good.  Blasters will always do more AoE damage and always have more burst potential (Aim + Build-Up) and always make more out of Fulcrum Shift.  However, for those times where the Blaster isn't running extreme buffs, the Sentinel's consistency makes them highly competitive.  Hell, I have seen Defender builds that can be within spitting distance of some Blaster builds.

Stacking defenses in a vacuum can be just as foolish as it is to make judgments on Primary power sets without considering damage procs.

 

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