Hellgate Global Blademaster Farmer Guide by xerlyn
The Blademaster is the one class that is more robust than all others except Guardian. A good end-game BM can survive ? the damage that a good Guard can take; at the same time, it seems the well-equipped BM also deals about ? the damage an end-game Evoker or MM does. This provides some game balance. Perhaps because of the overall popularity of the Evoker and MM as pure DPS classes, there are several on the T3FUN server that appear to deal ~ 10x max BM damage.
Exactly what is an end-game BM good for? It does several things well. It can solo farm Hell Oculis faster than any other class, easily in under 5 minutes per run starting at Catacombs 11. It is extremely fast and can run from point A to point B, through large masses of mobs in Hell, literally without concern (although speed-spec?d Guards can do this as well). Finally, because of whirlwind (WW), BM?s can ?zerg? ? recklessly attack an unlimited number of mobs without concern for dying, and effectively kill large packs. This means, aside from Occy, they are possibly the ultimate Hell Catacombs farmers ? while they do kill slower than the area-of-effect (AoE) classes, their survival is assured. The only time they should die is from frames-per-second (fps) issues, which I?m sorry to report are more frequent than they ought to be.
There are many, many variations of builds and equipments. This guide represents my experience only, from a small subset of combinations. This is the Blademaster Farmer guide. This BM will dual-wield swords and, optionally, wear the full BM set.
Total Feed Number
BM?s will require use of all 4 stat types almost equally: Accuracy, Strength, Stamina, and Willpower. To simplify evaluation of equipment and weapons, we add all the feeds together and subtract out the equipment stat bonuses. For example, legendary shoulders that require 19 strength and 12 stamina but give all attributes (AA) +5 on them will cost 11 stat points. I have such shoulders with 15%hp and 4% BM use rate on them, for example, making them excellent because of the combination of benefits with low feed cost. Essentially, you pay for benefits with feed, so you want to maximize benefits/feed. More examples of what equipment to look for will be given.
When is BM End-Game?
End-game for the BM starts at 55R25, and this is not arbitrary. By my definition, the end-game BM must be able to equip the full BM set ? although clearly he may chose not to do so if his legendary equipment is sufficiently good. Generally speaking, the entire un-augmented BM set is far easier to acquire than close-to-perfect legendary gear.
The full un-augmented BM set requires approximately 330 stats, assuming near maximum rolls on the variable stats. A clean 3-slot +6 Plague-Grinder (the minimum acceptable weapon) typically requires 125 stats. For good intrinsically-modded Plague-Grinders, a minimum of 50 stats in Accu and Will mods is necessary to hit 95% effective crit. rate to a mob type (this will be required, usually demon or beast) and simultaneously achieve > 300dps on the sword. Equipping two such Plagues will thus require a minimum of 350 total stats. (I will simply note that it is possible, but challenging, to find two 300+dps Plagues with 95% crit to a mob type for this feed level). Thus, we require at least 330+350=680 stat points.
At 55R25, we have 75 stating stats, 270 level stats, 46 non-Tokyo quest stats, 4 Tokyo quest stats, and 125 rank stats. Adding in 96 stats from 8/8 Matched Blades (required) and 64 from jewelry (required: Black Knight dye kit, unique bracelet and necklace) gives us 680 stat points to use. There are 23 bonus stats available from achievements (+5 accu/stam/strength, and two +1 all?s) if necessary to bump this up some.
Weapons and DPS (Damage per Second)
Swords are the real reason you?re playing a BM, so we?ll talk about them before skills or anything else.
End-game swords for the BM are Plague-Grinders (slow, but 3 mod slots) and Beamcarvers (fast, but 2 mod slots). At the current time, the latter are 5-10x the cost of the former, making them the more difficult and expensive option. Equipping one Plague and one Beamcarver seems to have no speed benefit ? they swing at the rate of the slowest sword.
The two principal damage skills will be WW and Sword of Justice (SoJ). For the latter, it is easily verified that two Beamcarvers swing 33% faster than two Plagues. Curiously, in the presence of maximum Haste Bot field from an Engineer, this advantage increases to 50% ? making two Beamcarvers the ultimate end-game weapons. The animation for WW shows 10 cycles in 6 seconds independent of sword speed. The actual speed benefit using WW is currently unverified.
The base damage per second from Plagues is approximately 5% higher than Beamcarvers, which is less significant than the difference in mod slots. The DPS number quoted atop the sword is equal to 1.25 times the direct damage number plus a tabulated value for the splash damage that depends on radius and damage type. This can be verified by looking in the auction house (AH). Considering only non-cinder direct weapons, every single one will have top weapon DPS equal to 1.25 times the average (min+max)/2 damage shown on the sword. Modifying any of these swords with relics/fuels/batteries gives ? approximately:
??????????? DPS ~ (base) * (1+elemental) * (1+damage) + (splash damage table)
For +6 Plagues, base~229 dps, including an approximation for splash. For +6 Beams, base~219 dps. The damage modifier can be either Heavenly attribute (24~27%) on sword or Divine mod. Because of the tabulated nature of splash damage, however, this equation is necessarily approximate. The splash damage tables have been backed out, but are not particularly illuminating, and the above equation is accurate to within a few percent. Generally, we?ll define enhance damage (ED) as (1+elemental)*(1+damage)-1. For a +6 Plague, we need approximately 31ED to hit 300dps.
As examples, I have the following +6 Plagues: 23ed (282dps), 34ed (308dps), 35ed (310dps), 37ed (319dps), 52ed (347dps), 56ed (354dps), 64ed (372dps). I also have the +6 Beamcarvers: 21ed (267dps), 40ed (302dps), 42ed (307dps). I always use swords having two ccm (critical chance multiplier) mob types.
To include the effect of critical damage, there is discord in the community on the exact form of the equation. I believe it to be approximately prefixed by:
??????????? (1 + strength/100 + skill + dmg_modifiers) * (1-ce + ce*Dc)
where ce is the effective crit rate (including ccm as discussed in the following section), Dc is the critical damage, and dmg_modifiers include gear bonuses (e.g., the 14% from Juggulator?s legs). Typically 200 < strength < 500 for a BM, although the latter value is usually only obtainable by 55R50?s. For WW at 10/10 the skill=1.6, and for SoJ at 3/10 the skill=-0.63.
Much is unverified. It is unknown if a +30% damage to demons mod on-weapon goes into the weapon DPS equation or the strength prefix. This is one of the outstanding dps information issues in the game. There are many published variants to the above DPS equations; however, my testing has pointed to these.
Obviously, when selecting or even augmenting gear, the BM has a choice whether to run up his strength or his stamina. The BM Farmer build uses the following motto: the dead BM deals no damage.
Critical chance and CCM (critical chance multiplier)
It is believed by many (including myself) that critical chance caps at 95%. This was, in fact, verified for Hellgate: London. We work on this assumption and engineer our swords to hit this maximum for either demons, beasts, or both ? we will probably need separate pairs to accomplish this without really, really good swords.
Consider the example of a BM wearing the full set with maximum Surge of Wrath, ?Devine? Fury and Aura of Zeal. A starting BM gets 1% intrinsic crit. I get 5% expertise, 5% from Beamcarver, 2% set gloves, 3% set belt, 7% ?devine? fury, and 12% Aura of Zeal. This totals 35%. Using the set armor (8% ccm) means ?37%? will be shown on your info panel. With surges up (15% crit), and in a one-versus-one (1v1) fight (getting 2% crit from AoZ with a single mob in your holy radius), you?ll show (35+15+2)*(1.08)=56% on the info panel. Note that this could be even higher if you were to wear the 3% crit ring or use a Nemesis-mod sword. To hit the 95% cap, you need 95/52-1-.08 = 75% ccm.
I generally look for a sword with the ?Demon Exterminator? prefix that has around 40-60% ccm to both demons and beasts on it. These are the two mob types with the larges hit-point (hp) pools in the game. Consequently, I can use two mods with around 35% ccm ? one to demon and one to beast. These are very cheap feed-wise, since 30~38% ccm only costs 6 Accu. For Beamcarvers, assuming the one relic and one battery are both dual mods, this frees up the other two mods for either ED or critical damage. One possible combination is a divine mod (11% damage for 20 will) and a mid-elemental (6% damage for 10 will), creating about 18ed and capped demon/beast 95% critical chance for a total of between 40-50 stats. Starting with a 21ed clean Beamcarver, you?d have around 300dps with max crit to demon/beasts.
Offense versus Defense
Anecdotally, I have observed that 80% BM?s are offensively built and only 20% are defensive. I?ve almost always been in the latter category, however. My goal has always been about the same:
??????????? 1180 AC (armor class, defense on armor)
??????????? 3000 hp (hit points, life)
The absorb formula at level 55 against like-level mobs is: Absorb=AC/(AC+295). This means 1180AC is the 80% absorb break. I?m going to define EKHP (effective kilo-hp) as
??????????? EKHP = hp / (1-Absorb) = 15k
This is my baseline for maximum BM survivability, and it is simply my opinion. More offensive oriented players will have less. A good Guardian has 6khp and 92% absorb, or EKHP = 75k. My BM has 19k (about ? of a good Guard) and I find my survivability anywhere in game to be nothing short of excellent.
At 55R25 with the full un-augmented BM set equipped, and weapon feeds as allocated yield approximately 2175hp and 1100AC (using a 90AC ring). This gives a raw EKHP=10.3k, but including the 10% damage reduction bonus of the set (multiply by 1.1) is effectively 11.3k. This is far short of ?excellent? as defined above.
It is, therefore, unsurprising that no BM wears an un-augmented set. It just isn?t good enough. Furthermore, augments can go one of two ways: TAV% (usually 5-10%) costs significant strength feed, while 15%hp usually costs 12 stamina feed. To decide which is better on an item, I check to see which of the two is (a) within my feed budget, given that TAV% is more feed-costly than hp%, and (b) which of the two maximizes EKHP. Specific equipment examples will be given in a following section.
Farming Hell Occy
My BM farms Hell Occy for set gloves (about 2% drop). They are almost always in demand. You can sell all classes other than BM, and augment ones for you class. Furthermore, Occy drops mods like candy (about 4 on average). This is where you?ll find all the mods needed to hit the weapon requirements specified above. Furthermore, I?ve sold many, many mods for > 1 million palladium ? and some for 5x that amount ? that have all been dropped by Hell Occy.
Why Hell Occy? With the above EKHP and weapons, I can solo farm 11-15 in Hell in less than 5 minutes. It takes about 30 seconds per level (I don?t usually kill the bosses, although I certainly can) until the level 15 red portal, and I usually take 2 minutes to clear and kill Occy and pick up my loot. Statistically, this translates into one set glove drop per 4 hours farming. Currently, set gloves average 1~3m on AH, so this translates to about 0.5m/hour. Adding in mod sales, I estimate that Hell Occy solo farming produces income at 1 million/hour. Outside of group boss farming, this is a main income source.
Prices of gear change, but ratios tend to remain similar. The cost of BM set pieces, in terms of glove cost, is approximately as follows:
??????????? BM set Belt: 12x; Torso, 10x; Shoulders, 8x; Boots, 3x; Helm, 1x; Legs, 0.5x.
All told, the cost of the BM set is about 35x the cost of the set gloves. This translates into 140 hours of Hell Occy farming. At 55R25, I would estimate that one solid hour of solo Hell Occy runs would give a bar of experience. Obviously with a group it?s faster. The point is simply this: at the minimum, the entire BM set can be obtained in this manner. Clearly, running bosses (Moloch, Berial, Natan) the BM set could be obtained in a fraction of this time. This might reflect poorly on end-game gear design, except for this: the un-augmented BM set isn?t very good.
To make the BM set more usable, I believe you need two well-augmented pieces. Far and away, the easiest to get are the gloves/legs that you can easily farm. I estimate it takes 50 (yes, fifty) to double-aug nicely each of these two pieces. Note that this effectively triples the cost of the entire set.
What are nice augs? I specifically look for AA7 (rare mod), AA10 (legendary), hp15% (legendary), TAV% (total armor value), or smaller sundry mods (+hp or Blademaster use rate, for example).
With only two pieces well-augged (I have helm with AA10, and legs with AA10 and hp15%) I am able to surpass 3khp. Using the Shulgoth pet I have > 1300AC, so my EKHP>19k.
Blademaster Use Rate
The BM gear and set bonuses add 10% use rate to Swordmanship skills. Unfortunately, this does not apply WW ? your main point-A-to-point-B skill. To get the latter, you need to use ?Omnipotent? Legendary Gear (with 3~5% Blademaster use rate). It may also be possible to augment this mod onto set gear, although this is currently unverified (i.e, I?ve never done or seen it). Additionally, certain useful unique pieces have a rare spawn of this mod.
I will note that a 10/10 WW has a 13.8 sec cooldown with no Blademaster use rate (BUR) equipped. In the presence of a 24% max-level Haste Bot, this drops to 11.7 sec. I will assume (unconfirmed) that ~20% BUR is needed to get the WW cooldown to the 12 sec level. The WW animation is 6 sec; hence, this represents 50% duty cycle of active WW spinning. Some BM builds design around this, although mine doesn?t.
Ring Choices, and Strength vs. Stamina vs. Accuracy
The BM usually wears one of 3 rings: 90AC (5 strength), 3%crit/65%crit damage (18 accu), or 15%hp (18 stam). Obviously, one is offensive and two are defensive. In some cases, a 10%TAV ring may create more total AC than the 90AC ring.
At 55R25, the BM will have either 250 strength (defensive) or 350 strength (offensive). Obviously this is also weapon dependent. The un-augmented set tends to have the lower bound. Comparing the damage equation with WW, we find that 350 strength generates about 20% more damage output than 250 strength.
I will note that the 100 point stat differential is usually made up in stamina, and that can make a significant difference in EKHP. My non-set gear has 60%hp total, so that each stamina point is worth 5*(1.6)=8hp. For a typical 2.5khp BM, this means that (as opposed to 20% more damage output) these stamina points translate into nearly 30% EKHP difference.
Unique and Legendary Non-set Gear Examples
Because of the proliferation of set pieces, and your ability to solo farm Hell Occy, all of the following unique pieces are extremely ?cheap? at AH. This means you can easily afford to buy 50 of them and augment well.
At the top of the list are the following, roughly in order of utility, with total feed in brackets:
??????????? Mahomet?s torso : high AC, +AA and 1% crit, with rare BM use rate;
??????????? Backadder?s belt : adds 45% crit damage, which is huge, and ~8% TAV;
??????????? Face of the Crusader helm : adds 25% crit damage and 2% crit rate;
??????????? Armwraps of Benevolence : adds 1% crit rate, 5%TAV, 2 Matched Blades
Some would say that the 2 points in Matched Blades is not useful, since you don?t want to make your skill point distribution dependent on one specific piece. This is absurd. By the time you get to 55R25 you?ll have undoubtedly found multiple skill and attribute retrainers from Hell Moloch. Don?t sell these ? just use ?em. Saving the 2 skill points from MB gives these gloves the ?equivalent? of 3% crit (redistributing those points into DF and AoZ that I can?t usually max), which makes these gloves better perhaps than the set gloves. This is especially true if Blademaster use rate is desired, which can in fact spawn on the Armwraps.
In principle, it should be possible to (legendary) aug +1 Blademaster skill on FotC helm, but I?m 0/30 in trying. I?ve seen one on the server, and there are probably more, so it can certainly be done. I would estimate the probability to be something like 1:500 or maybe 1:1000. Obviously a +1 set helm would be nice as well(!).
Keep in mind that the total equipment budget is about 330 stats at 55R25, and there are 7 pieces ignoring ring feed. This averages to about 50/piece, consistent with the values above. You?ll want to get your AC as high as possible, and nano-forging? the higher armor pieces to +6 (helm, torso, legs) can add up to 25 total feed cost but can total > 60AC, which is significant. (I?ve found an average of 2.5AC/stat in my testing).
The all attributes (AA) mod on any piece of gear is obviously very nice. Aside from reducing the total feed, it almost always comes with a higher stamina feed requirement ? essentially driving up your hp for free.
The hp% mod on any piece of gear is also nice. A legendary 15%hp bonus usually costs 12 stamina feed.
The total armor value (TAV) mod is nice. It comes with varying strength feed cost, hence drives up strength ? hence damage ? which is good.
For my builds, I really like a +1 Blademaster helm. There are 8 basic skills that benefit from it: DF, AoZ, all 4 surges, WW and MB. Because I solo farm (e.g., ?zerg?) I really benefit from the 3 of the 4 surges at maximum (all except power regen). There are some who don?t use a +1 helm. They?re too common and this just doesn?t make sense to me.
Spiked Guard helms contain a hidden TAV% bonus between 5-10. Additionally, a good +6 nano?d spiked guard helm will have about 110AC ? without a +armor aug. The downside is that the feed cost is very high. I support my ?expensive? +1 Blademaster spiked helm with a few low-feed pieces. Mine sports 111AC, 11%hp, +47hp but costs 85 strength and 30 stamina. That?s 1/3 of my total equipment budget.
To balance out use of my expensive helm, I use low-AC legendary shoulders. Mine have 11 total feed and sport 15%hp, along with 2% melee speed and 4% Blademaster use rate (BUR), but only have 33AC. However, the combination of expensive helm + cheap shoulders means they both use 126 total stats, but return 144AC+7%TAV, 26%hp, +47hp, 4%BUR. This leaves over 200 stat points for the remaining 5 items, so they can average about 40 stats/item.
I have a +10AA ILVL48 Mahomet?s augmented with +strength and +hp, which costs about 50 stats. I also have a clean +8AA ILVL44 Mahomet?s with 4% Blademaster use rate that costs 47 stats.
I have a Backadder?s belt with +armor augmented on it, giving 79AC+8%TAV. The real value of this belt is the 45% critical damage. Assuming you already have 650% crit damage, and you?re at the 95% crit cap, the benefit you get from this is approximately 45/650~7% increase in total damage output.
Some BMs use the Juggulator?s leggings with +14% damage mod. In my testing, however, I don?t see output damage increase this much. In fact, this seems far inferior to the Backadder?s belt, which is known to work. Because legendary legs with 15%hp are so common, I use a pair with ~40 feed that sport 15%hp, +58hp, all resists 233, and have 3 other resist mods over 1k each. The AC on those is just short of 100, and they do not have TAV% (which I?d like).
Legendary boots with AA, 15%hp and TAV% that cost < 40 feed are quite common. The level 40-ish unique boots (Dustcrushers and Sodhoppers) can both come with ?Blademaster use rate? as a rare spawn as well. Well augmented, both these boots cost ~ 40 feed.
At this point, it is important to note the obvious. Try not to use ?poorly? augmented gear. This would be gear that gives your bonuses to your liking, yet requires > 60 stats to use. The BM just doesn?t have enough stats to waste.
Really, really good legendaries ? those with AA10, hp15% and TAV10% modded on top of 4% Blademaster use rate intrinsic ? do apparently exist (although I haven?t found one yet). It is reasonably easy to equip your BM with legendaries and hit 4khp using combinations of two of the three mods. I have managed to do so and hit the 1180AC benchmark (but had to use Shulgoth pet to do so), which gives EKHP 20k.
I simply note that the 10% damage reduction benefit from wearing 5 pieces of the set is good and, perhaps, better than it ought to be. It is unverified as to whether this is working as intended.
The BM Farmer build is based upon maxing all surges except the power regen, which gets one point. Assuming either +1 helm or +1 set bonus, this means 6?3+1=19 skill points. I put one point into templar restoration, which is a 1-point wonder.
The sword of justice, sweeping strike and WW tree get 2+3+9=14 points.
If you use the BM set, you get PARRY from the torso and don?t need a point into it. You need 7/8 into matched blades (MB) for the feed unless you use the Armwraps.
Finally, putting 6/7 into DF and 9/10 into AoZ requires 15 points. I like 1 point into charge, which is not only useful but also fun.
This totals 20+14+7+16=57 points for set-users. This is two more than you normally allocate. I drop one each from DF and AoZ, noting that you can get set legs with one of these two skills.
For non-set users, I?d go one point into Parry (a non-boss nicety for zerging) but drop 2 points from MB and use the Armwraps of Belevolence, particularly one that spawns with Blademaster use rate.
I put 10 points into armor (180 AC, DOES benefit from TAV% curiously), 10 points into crit (gives +5% crit), and 7 points into health (140 health, does not benefit from hp%). I also put 2 points into elemental resists (8xx all) and 1 into Luck (for good measure). This gets you to 55R30, and I interleaved the order of the expertise points. Beyond that, I?d max out elemental resists at 55R38, although some BMs max this out earlier. I?ve found that 6-7k resists don?t keep me from getting poisoned or shocked that much better than 2-3k resists, unfortunately. There is a clear benefit to getting them to the 3k level, which can be done with the set alone (and just a few augs) and only 2 expertise points.