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Lobster's Guide to picking a Dominator Secondary

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Posted (edited)

 

Background:

 

  • The original draft of this is up on reddit, but I figured not everyone is on reddit, and I DO need to start posting here more.
  • This is NOT be a detailed power-per-power analysis.  This is more HOW TO PICK a secondary based on how it will feel to play than HOW TO PLAY it.
  • This is math light - I've purposely abstracted most of it out, and am not addressing DPA.  Players that are interested in DPA usually know their way around a build and won't find much in a guide like this. 🙂

 

Dominator Secondary general info:

  • Most sets have the following: a weak ranged attack, a weak melee attack, a mid-damage ranged attack, a mid-damage melee attack, aim/buildup/power boost/etc., a cone attack*, a pbaoe, a snipe or utility and a heavy melee OR heavy range attack.
    • The caveat for cones is that there are a couple things I treat as cones that aren't actually cones but that function the same way in play and have similar damage #s : earth's short range aoe Fissure and Martial's Trick Shot.
    • Psi, fire and thorns have a faster animating and recharging T1 that does less damage than the other sets.
  • Insta-snipe:
    • Domination: All sets with snipe can have access to insta for the first 15 seconds of domination (+25% tohit, you only need +22%). 
    • Outside of Domination:
      • None : Fire and Psi will need to rely on Domination and some combination of team buffs/tactics/yellow inspirations to get insta-snipes.
      • Aim (Savage, Thorns) : Neither of the sets with aim have a snipe.
      • Power-Boost/Gather Shadows (Dark, Earth, Energy, Ice): Earth and Ice lack a snipe.  Dark & Energy can get insta-snipe during powerboost by slotting tactics with 1 SO (20% tohit) and using the Kismet +6% proc.
      • Build-Up (Elec, Rad) : Will require +tohit slotting (>30% worth) or Kismet +6% tohit proc to get build-up (and Rad's Fusion) up to 22%. 
      • Envenomed Blades: MA has what looks to be an OP version of fiery embrace that provides a base of 12% tohit that can be made very close to perma.  With ~35% tohit slotted and the kismet proc, MA can have insta-snipe almost permanently.

            
The Secondaries:

  • Dark Assault
    • power-boost with a damage bonus, two medium blasts (exact same damage), one of which has a small heal on it, and a heavy melee, and a snipe with access to insta. It does not have a medium melee attack.   The secondary effect of -tohit can be useful if you are close to the defense cap, or keep it stacked heavily with the aoes.
    • It seems to favor being in melee and using your ranged attacks there, or going in and out if you use the cone (which is very thin).   
  • Earth Assault
    • power boost, TWO heavy melee attacks, a short range aoe that works great in melee, and an aura that slows and does damage.
    • This set heavily favors melee.
  • Electricity Assault
    • build-up, a faster/weaker weak melee, no heavy ranged attack, the weakest heavy melee attack (with a small pbaoe damage component), a snipe with access to insta, and the voltaic sentinel pet.   Aside from pairing with elec/, I haven't found much use for the end draining secondary effect.
    • It seems to slightly favor melee.
  • Energy Assault
    • power boost, the strongest heavy melee attack, two big range attacks, snipe with access to insta with tactics+proc during power boost, and no cone.  Must love KB.
    • With insta-snipe, it has 3 very powerful ranged attacks, and lends itself best of all the dominator sets to being ranged.
  • Fire Assault
    • fiery embrace and consume, the strongest heavy range attack, a snipe with NO access to insta, and trades the secondary utility effects on powers for slightly more damage on all attacks.
    • It favors melee, or moving in and out if you take the cone.
  • Icy Assault
    • power boost, its mid strength range attack is faster and weaker than normal, a heavy ranged attack with a hold on it, NO snipe, and a slow aura that does no damage.
    • There doesn't seem to be anything special about it beyond the aura (and good DPA), so I would only play ice if I were going to take Chilling Embrace.   The secondary slowing effect does exist, but takes several hits to be noticeable (and, in my experience, generally isn't except for the occasional boss).
    • It favors melee (imho) due to chilling embrace.
  • Martial Assault
    • a weird fiery embrace clone that seems to need balancing/nerfing, its weak melee attack is a cone "for free", trick shot instead of a cone, a snipe with the best access to insta, a heavy ranged attack and caltrops.   Maybe the lack of secondary effects is why Envenomed Blades is so strong?
    • It lends itself very well to ranged play, or melee play using ranged attacks. 
  • Psionic Assault
    • drain psyche instead of buildup/etc., TWO medium ranged attacks (one of which immobilizes), the largest cone, the best pbaoe (same size but 16 targets instead of 10), NO heavy melee OR ranged attack, and a snipe with NO access to insta.   Like Icy, the secondary effect of -recharge can be difficult to observe in action, but it's there!
    • This set favors moving in and out of melee to maximize - you want to take advantage of the cone, pbaoe and drain psyche since your single target attacks are lacking.
  • Radioactive Assault
    • a version of build up with much less ToHit (not super relevant), faster/weaker weak melee, TWO heavy melee attacks, the heaviest damage pbaoe (if the #s are correct), and a snipe with access to insta.  The secondary contamination effect is "free" damage, and the -def on all the attacks is always appreciated.
    • It favors melee.
  • Savage Assault
    • aim, improved weak and medium melee attacks (if the damage #s are correct in game), a self heal, a heavy ranged attack, and a second medium melee attack that teleports you to the target with bonus damage based on distance (??). 
    • It favors melee and gives you a great tool for jumping back into the fight if you have jumped out to use the cone.
  • Thorny Assault
    • aim, a short, wide arc cone, a heavy melee that is a cone, a heavy ranged, caltrops and extra damage (like fire, from dots).
    • Somewhere between Earth and a set like psi or fire that favors actively moving in and out of combat. 


Melee attack chain options, vaguely ranked:


The sets with heavy ranged attacks can and should use those, as they do about the same damage as T2 melee attacks. T1 & T2 ranged attacks should be avoided unless needed to fill out a chain, as they are lower damage than T1 melees.   Counting heavy ranged attacks as T2 melees (roughly the same damage), and not counting snipes in sets that cannot insta them without insps we have:

 

  1. Martial: T1, T1+cone, T2, S
  2. Ice: T1, T2, T2
  3. Psi: T1+KB, T2
  4. Fire : T2, T2,
  5. Dark : T1, T3, S
  6. Thorns: T2, T2, T3(Cone)
  7. Elec : weak T1, T2, T3(with small pbaoe), S
  8. Earth : T1, T3, T3
  9. Energy: T2, T2, T3, S
  10. Savage: weak T2, T2, T2+port, T3
  11. Rad: weird T1, T2, T3, T3, S

 

Ranged attack chain options:


If you really want to play permanently at range (it's discouraged by many vet dom players, myself included, but it IS viable, and I'm attempting two different pure ranged builds currently), here are the ranged attack chain options:

 

Worst:

  • Earth: T1,T2  
  • Rad: T1, T3, Cone  

 

Average:

  • Psi: fast T1, T2, T2+immob, Cone
  • Thorns: Fast T1, T2, T4
  • Elec: T1,T2,S, Cone
  • Ice: T1, Weak T2, T4, Cone

 

Decent:

  • Dark: T1, T2, T2+Heal,S, Cone
  • Fire: fast T1, T4, S, Cone
  • Savage: T1, T4, S, Cone

 

Best?:

  • Martial: T1, trick shot, T4, S (best uptime)
  • Energy: T1, T2, T3, T4,S

 

It's also worth noting that the Grav primary has extra T2 & T4 ranged attacks (Lift & Propel), not even counting the bonus damage from impact.  And Propel has the recharge of a T2… Mind's Levitation weaker than Lift.
 

 

Notes :

 

I have not addressed the epic sets but, especially given you can start them at 35, they can really fill out a hole in a secondary - something like taking Energy Transfer at 35 in lieu of a snipe can make a set that was lacking a solid melee chain work much better, or Bile Spray or Fire Ball instead of snipe on a /psi or /fire to give you a second aoe to fire off before you jump in…lots of options here.

 

The way I build is to choose a power-set combo that seems to have interesting mechanical synergy or an engaging or fun playstyle - also likely rooted in synergy.   Plenty of others go theme or story first, or just pick a combo for the cool visuals - I think all these are great ways to build a character, and hopefully this mini-guide is helpful to some of you.  

 

Background:

 

On live I played plant/fire, elec/ice and ice/psi deep into incarnate content. All were 100% viable - I used the fire snipe in melee range without insta too! I also had grav/energy, ice/thorn, earth/elec, and dark/psi up to at least 50+1 and some incarnate content.

 

Currently I am playing dark/savage, grav/martial, elec/rad, ice/earth & earth/energy, all in the 33-40 range.

EDIT: I'll add some thoughts on the beta changes eventually, especially if they go live.  I may add some DPA and attack chain stuff then as well, but that's not something I stress about.

Edited by lobster
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Very well written and provides lots of food for thought. I've always been a player who loves finding synergies between power sets as well. I'd be interested to see some of the DOM power sets you think synergize best.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to write this!

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Sinfinite said:

Very well written and provides lots of food for thought. I've always been a player who loves finding synergies between power sets as well. I'd be interested to see some of the DOM power sets you think synergize best.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to write this!

Hey thanks 🙂

 

I can tell you which ones I think synergize well for me - but the kinds of things I consider playstyle synergy might not appeal to everyone SO...here are some random ones, they are going to generally revolve around  utilizing the aspect of the secondary that makes it most unique:

  • Dark & Icy Assault : I would (and will, I haven't yet on HC but I'm working on concepts for it) pair it with a primary with a pbaoe aura (elec, fire or ice) and skip the cone power and just stay in melee to capitalize on the pbaoe.  These builds can be annoying solo before perma-dom with all the enemy mezzes....  For dark, I'll consider if there's a way I can get close to some capped defenses with the inherent -tohit on the secondary as well.   Alternately, the pbaoe could be skipped and the set paired with a primary that lines cones like mind, plant or dark (dark/dark makes for a good ping-pong (in and out of melee) too if you like being that active, but icy really wants to be in melee.  I loved my elec/icey on live.
  • Earth : Basically the same as fire, with the exception that earth has no cone to skip so I would be in melee 100% and capitalizing on the knockdowns & aura.  Earth is also pretty end heavy, so will have to build taking that into account.   One thing I'm not sure of is the interaction between tick timers in mud pots & static field : do they go in and out of sleep, or does mud pots just keep those within it permanently awake?
  • Elec : Honestly elec never jumped out at me.  It's obviously going to pair well with the elec/ primary for the extra end draining...but you know, it's just kinda meh as far as the rest goes.  To me, it pairs about the same with all the other primaries.  I would most likely take the Mu power pool with it to get ball lightning & power sink (and the pet :P).  I think it works a bit better for me including those...  The caveat here is that if the Sentinel does more damage than I remember, it may be pretty solid because that damage is fire and forget, which gives you more time to do other things.
  • Energy : You have to have a plan for the KB.  Either lots of movement to keep things positioned, or maybe hovering and being above them when using the heavy KB blasts.  Depending on which one of those you like (or a mix...) that will affect primary choices.  You may also just take a primary with -kb in its aoe immob (dark, earth, fire, ice, plant according to MidsReborn) and ignore the KB.    Looking at it now, I like dark and using the fear lockdown followed by the immob, then just picking things off one by one (since energy heavily favors single target damage). I might even skip the cone and consider taking energy transfer instead of the snipe at 35 (this is something *I* probably wouldn't do, since I always take the patron pet on doms).
  • Fire : same basic idea as dark & icy.
  • Martial : I'm playing grav/ma right now for a heavy single target ranged damage focus (envenomed blades boosts lift & propel too) and that seems to be working out.  The melee options are bad, but the ranged attacks can be used in melee so you're pretty much free to be wherever you need to be.   In this case I'm focusing more on the power of near-perma Envenomed Blades (and thus near perma insta-snipe) than I am on capitalizing on the damage portion of caltrops - I'm using it for the control aspect, to keep things away from me or running around randomly.   Without the Grav/ attacks it's harder to build as good of an attack chain, but you can use one or both of the melee attacks with other primaries.    It also pairs well with plant because confusion+caltrops is always fun.  Also pairs well with mind/ do to the strong single target focus - you can sleep or fear and pick off the stragglers. 
  • Psionic : ping-pong.  This can either be pairing with a pbaoe toggle bearing primary like I mention with dark/icy/earth, but it heavily favors actively jumping in and out to cycle between the aoe and the cone as the single target damage isn't amazing.  This means you can put it with pretty much any primary and excel.   Honestly I don't see a stand out primary set for it - I played ice/psi and dark/psi on live and they were solid.  To me maybe grav and mind would be the worst pairings (but still quite good!) grav because it has no reason to be in melee, and mind because with all the aoes you can't capitalize on aoe sleep in the same way.
  • Rad : I'm still working my way through this one (playing elec/rad right now), but I feel like it's similar to earth, except it doesn't really have a signature "Thing".  The one attack that is sort of weird is Radiation Siphon with the unreliable heal...but that's not something you build around at all.  So, barring that, what it has is a very good melee attack chain, so that's what I'd focus on.  It does have a cone, but the melee options are heavy enough that you want to spend most of your time there.
  • Savage : its a good set for jumping in and out of melee since you can just teleport right back in, but in practice the jumping in and out is a bunch of work and I'm old and lazy, so I'll favor melee. 
  • Thorny : I like the synergy between caltrops and slows, so fire/ and ice/ are my primary choices here.  Fling Thorns is probably the best of the cones for using in melee - which, in practice, means it (along with Psionic) is one of the cones I'd actually take (I often skip the cones on doms for the reason I mentioned above - too tired for the ping-pong playstyle these days). I just rolled up a fire/thorn last night that I'll get around to leveling eventually.
     

 

Edited by lobster

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Lots of great info there! I've rolled up a Plants/Savage and a Dark/Energy and am having fun so far! Interested to see how they perform with the DOM changes.

 

Thanks again!

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Some thoughts post patch:
 

  • Stone feels really good.  My main dominator is ice/stone/(mu or soul, currently soul) and he's a blast to play.  Hurl Boulder is now better than Stone Mallet across the board, so if you have a choice, take Hurl.  I couldn't make it work on my build (which is annoying) because I didn't want Chillblain or Frostbite, but most builds should have the option.
  • Elec is a little better.  Thunderstrike is certainly better.  The snipe availability is a buff in general, so it's just a better set now. 
  • Energy wants to take Whirling Hands even more now as the damage boost to Whirling Hands after using TF is considerable.  You can still play it entirely at range if you want, but you won't be fully taking advantage of the capabilities.  I like choices like this!
  • Icy is just better across the board, flat buffed.  It even got a special exclusion to stop the damage aura change from breaking sleeps (This will let the mind/ and elec/ combos with /icy work as they did before - other sets have sleeps, but those two have better reasons to use them).  There's nothing here that changes the way it plays - everything is just better, except maybe early game where your attack recharge increases might feel more like a nerf than a buff (it's a buff, because later with high recharge it's just more damage).
  • Martial is still really strong at range (and the best pure range dom I would argue, especially paired with grav/ or something), but the melee attacks were slightly nerfed from a raw damage standpoint.  However, they still have very good DPA, so for late game play it should still be quite good, and for all levels of play it keeps the smooth/fast flow.
  • Psi is basically the same.
  • Rad got solid damage buffs across the board, but still needs an identity imho.
  • Savage got minor damage buffs, but a minor nerf to aoe target cap on the T9 attack, which is a bit of a bummer.  I'm still working on my dark/savage (l39 currently) and it still feels solid BUT the flow of the set isn't working quite as well for me as say, it's Savage melee counterpart.  I think it's the alternating attacks and calling birds... I think I'd be fine if they just got rid of all the birds and bees and made it a 100% melee set, but that's not generally how dominator sets are so this is what we've got.  All in all, it's a solid set that just feels a little off to play (to me).
  • I haven't had much time to test Thorny yet, but overall the numbers look to be a buff overall.  A little less on the cone - but it's up more often - and less arc on the melee cone, but other than that damage boosts abound.
  •  
Edited by lobster

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Been playing Stone, and I love it. I have Seismic Smash with 91% enhanced damage and four procs, and it just clobbers people. Question, I skipped Fissure altogether while leveling, what are your thoughts on that power compared to Tremor?

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On 9/4/2019 at 1:53 PM, MunkiLord said:

Been playing Stone, and I love it. I have Seismic Smash with 91% enhanced damage and four procs, and it just clobbers people. Question, I skipped Fissure altogether while leveling, what are your thoughts on that power compared to Tremor?

I personally love fissure and always have.  The visual is great, the damage is OK, the debuff is solid.    I always take both...although if I had to skip one, Tremor is probably the one I would skip.  I use Fissure in single target rotations for the +rech proc and the chance for knockdown/up too.

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The role of Ice is at low levels you have a hold in your control and in your assault.  So you could hit with both and hold a boss.  Not so important at higher levels when your hold recovers quickly or you have dom up.

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On 9/3/2019 at 7:23 PM, lobster said:

 

  • Icy is just better across the board, flat buffed.  It even got a special exclusion to stop the damage aura change from breaking sleeps (This will let the mind/ and elec/ combos with /icy work as they did before - other sets have sleeps, but those two have better reasons to use them).  There's nothing here that changes the way it plays - everything is just better, except maybe early game where your attack recharge increases might feel more like a nerf than a buff (it's a buff, because later with high recharge it's just more damage).

I'm new to Doms and i like the theme of ice/

Would ice/ice be a decent pairing? or are there better options?
 

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On 10/13/2019 at 6:48 PM, Duck-Smokes-Quack said:

I'm new to Doms and i like the theme of ice/

Would ice/ice be a decent pairing? or are there better options?
 

It's hard to find your preferred power set with Doms on your first go, as the others have mentioned your play style changes drastically once you get slotted at 50. Personally speaking, I love being an ice cubed (Ice/Ice/Ice) Dom. I tend to rush in and try to hold my own in melee range. This tends to have a lot of different outcomes but ultimately a fun time. I believe there are much better sets for solo builds, but for team play this is great.

 

Notes:

Full Sets

45% S/L/F/I, ~30% M/R/AoE Def

Perma Dom

Havent tested Homecomings damage buffs to Icy Assault

 

My build is meant to maximize set bonuses, which means I have skipped a few ice powers in favour of some I dont use in combat. Anywho, if you have any specific questions let me know. @Ficety

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On 10/13/2019 at 5:48 PM, Duck-Smokes-Quack said:

I'm new to Doms and i like the theme of ice/

Would ice/ice be a decent pairing? or are there better options?
 

 

 

For a new player I would recommend Earth/Ice with the Earth powers set to crystaline and colored blue. Mostly the same set of effects, minus Arctic Air, but a lot easier to play.

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I feel like Ice for a secondary is being downplayed. It's not going to have the burst damage to fire, but it should be right behind fire. And the secondary slow effects doesn't take long to notice seeing how every attack has -spd. Ice would pair better with gravity or ice as primary because the have -spd as secondaries as well.  I've made an Ice/Ice/Ice dom and against EBs/AVs and its pure monster. Keeping them at bay greatly increases my survival odds.

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