As you may have noticed, I've been doing some work lately with the idea of doubling bleed duration. Through this work, as well as the often inadvertent contributions of several other members of the community, I came up with this build. I hope you find this information helpful, even if you don't end up using this exact setup.
This build offers little in the way of defense. You will get a little bit of extra Vitality and a pretty decent boost to your Life Force Pool by way of 25 points in Soul Reaping. Other than that, you must rely on kiting and absorbing big hits with Death Shroud. Don't forget that Doom (2 seconds with this build) can be used nearly any time. During a roll, when you're knocked down, while channeling another skill, etc.
- More gear choices - now with more flexibility and defense!
- Added Ascended gear
- Various formatting changes + changed graph in Gear section
- Added a Weapons section
- The Gear section - now with 10% more crit chance!
- The Sigil section - now with double the Sigil of Earth!
- The Traits section - now with more alternatives!
(Gear not properly represented)
- Condition Damage and Duration for great bleed stacking
- Power for destructable objects and viability when bleed stack limit is hit
- Condition Damage and Duration for great bleed stacking
- Death Shroud
- Utilize DS for more than just the taking a big hit or the occasional fear or Life Transfer
A full condition Necromancer has great difficulty when it comes to destroying objects and suffers from the bleed stack cap, which hurts group play.
A full power Necromancer must constantly be attacking to maintain maximum damage, they cannot benefit from currently ticking conditions to keep damage going while busy or incapacitated. Additionally, direct damage is reduced by the opponent's armor, unlike condition damage.
Finally, a hybrid setup can take advantage of Death Shroud's bipolar disorder. More about this in the Death Shroud section.
This is the weapon set for conditions. Scepter #1 stacks constant bleeding and a 3-second poison*, #2 is a great opener because of the cripple, and #3 does solid direct damage because this is a hybrid build.
Dagger #4 blinds and transfers up to 3 conditions to up to 3 foes (1 condition per foe). Pairs well with Corruption utilities. #5 has a big long bleed and offers some protection in the form of weakness.
* With my proposed duration setup, which you can read more about in the Bleed Duration section, all non-bleed duration is increased by +50%, meaning the 2-second Poison from Putrid Curse will now last 3 seconds.
You now have two choices for your secondary weapon set:
(Death Shroud can act as your "Power" weapon set in a pinch, especially when equipped with a Staff)
Secondary - Power: Dagger/Axe & Focus
Dagger hits hard and fast. The auto-attack scales really well with Power and generates Life Force. #2 is a good multi-hit skill, stealing some life and generating crits, which means bleeds. Finally, #3 can be used to create some distance.
However, this build has little defense, as I mentioned at the start of the guide. Being in melee range is not always advisable. Caveat emptor.
Axe as a weapon choice is now seriously worth considering. The recent buffs make it quite viable in my opinion.
The auto-attack will stack a decent amount of Vulnerability: because we have +50% non-bleed duration, each attack puts a stack on for 10½ seconds (default duration recently buffed to 7 seconds, up from 5). The skill attacks twice, so we get 2 stacks per use. This skill does not do amazing damage, but it really isn't supposed to. It's there for stacking large amounts of Vulnerability to unleash Ghastly Claws:
#2 attacks 8 times, which means lots of crits and extra bleeding from those crits, generating 1% Life Force per hit. The damage of this skill was recently buffed pretty nicely (+10%). #3 is an interesting skill. You gotta be careful you don't pull extra mobs but the cripple and retaliation can help you get away.
Focus #4 puts on vulnerability and gives some regen. #5 drops a 7½ second chill and can strip boons in the event you run across a mob that has any. The chill can be popped right before switching back to Scepter / Dagger to help kiting. The skill now does more damage based on how many boons it rips off, up to +150%!
Secondary - Utility: Staff
The Staff is a great utility weapon. It's got good AoE conditions, a combo field and finisher, and a fear. The auto-attack and Putrid Mark scale with Power we well.
However, the cooldowns are pretty damn long unless traited, and in this build we do not go into Death Magic at all. Get ready for spamming auto-attack (which does scale pretty well with Power) and Mark of Blood while waiting for your weapon swap cooldown. Or just pop into Death Shroud when your marks are all on cooldown -- Life Blast does more damage when equipped with a Staff than a Scepter.
This build unlocks the full potential of Death Shroud!
We have Power to make Life Blast hit nice and hard. With this build, each attack slaps down 15 seconds of 2x Vulnerability and 1x Might, so it basically hits harder every time you use it (until you reach <50% Life Force, at which point you should stop using Life Blast and should probably pop out of Death Shroud immediately).
We have Condition Damage and Duration to make Dark Path's bleeds and chill do solid damage and last a long time. 3 stacks of bleeding that last for 10 seconds!
With my proposed traits, Doom does a 2-second fear and thus does damage twice. That's about 2.5k bonus damage every use.
Life Transfer will hit for a lot of direct damage and its crits will of course have a chance to proc Barbed Precision and the Earth Sigil(s). At 60% crit rate, an average of 5.4 of the 9 hits should result in a critical.
Just remember that the game updates Life Transfer's total damage with each tick. What it's showing is not damage per tick. For example, if it said 900 damage on tick 8 and 1,000 damage on tick 9, the total damage the skill has done is 1,000; you don't add up the individual ticks.
My healing skill for this build is Consume Conditions, a fantastic choice for most situations, and the standard for most Necromancers. Can also be used to eat up self-inflicted conditions from Corruption utility skills if you are out of transfers. This skill is unaffected by Poison's debuff, and in fact heals for more when you are afflicted.
Most of the time, I use Signet of the Locust, Blood is Power, and Epidemic for my utility slots.
The Signet is a great speed boost, but the activated ability is lackluster. This skill can be replaced if you are not like me (I can't stand default movement speed).
Blood is Power and Epidemic are standard here. Blood is Power gives might, which benefits both direct and condition damage; great for our purposes. Epidemic is an incredible AoE skill for any Necromancer that uses Conditions or plays in groups. Epidemic hits all targets in its radius, it is not limited to 5 targets like other AoE skills.
The Wells work well even when un-traited, especially when using MH Dagger, and the Spectral skills can utilize Spectral Attunement to generate decent Life Force on command.
It's a good idea to not get locked down by your Utility choices. They can (and often should) be changed between fights. The same goes for major traits. Adapt!
For my Elite I use Lich Form most of the time. Because we have Power in our build, and because it looks amazing, Lich Form is my choice here. It does real solid damage, can lay down good Vulnerability, and Grim Specter has nice utility in groups. The Jagged Horrors aren't the smartest, but you get enough of them and they do good damage.
If you know you're going to be fighting large groups, Plague has good utility, mostly in the form of its AoE blind. One thing to note, when you have +100% bleed duration, like you do in this build, you can maintain 8 stacks of bleeding from Withering Plague.
Flesh Golem. Well, you know. Minions. This Elite is not that bad, though. It gives you an interrupt in the form of the Golem's activated Charge ability, and the Golem basically functions as a long-term DoT as long as it is alive.
As you can see, this setup gives just over +100% bleed duration (+100% is the cap, however) and just over +50% to all other condition duration. +50% Other Condition Damage duration will show itself to be quite important when it comes to Poison and especially Fear (as you will see in the Traits section).
For more information on +100% bleed duration, please see my other topic, particularly the Bleeding Sources section.
15 in Spite gets us +15% condition duration and some bonus Power. The condition duration bonus is vital to the build for achieving +100% bleed duration and +50% to all other condition duration. If you can afford to be constantly consuming Rare Veggie Pizza, you can get away with only 10 points here. I'd put those extra 5 points into Soul Reaping, personally.
Parasitic Bond and Death into Life pair decently with each other, giving an automatic heal when we kill something and making our healing a little better. Death into Life boosts the healing of Parasitic Bond.
Major trait choice is Reaper's Might which makes Life Blast hit harder and increases the damage of all conditions currently on the target. For a more defensive approach, Spiteful Removal is a fantastic choice. It basically means that ending a fight always takes you out of combat, instead of sometimes being stuck with a lingering cripple or a bleed that takes ages to end, and it can really save you in big group fights.
30 into Curses gives us Precision and Condition Damage, 2 major aspects of this build. Score.
If you've read my other guide you know that Barbed Precision will tick twice with this setup, which a very solid damage boost. Furious Demise temporarily increases crit chance by 20%(!), which causes more bleed procs. Target the Weak increases direct damage only, so it synergizes well with a hybrid build. Chances are, if the bleed cap is reached, the mob you're fighting is a boss or a champ, so it should have a lot of other conditions on it, which means more damage! Up to 22% more damage if the target somehow has all 11 conditions on it.
Hemophilia and Lingering Curse are incredible. Hemophilia is required to hit +100% bleed duration, and Lingering Curse is just icing on the cake, even if it only affects 2 skills.
I prefer Terror in the master slot: at 1,600 Condition Damage, Terror deals 842 damage per tick. But it deals 1,263 per tick if the enemy has a condition on them, which they always should. And with another trait from the Soul Reaping line, we can get our Fear to tick twice, which means double that damage.
25 points in Soul Reaping gives us +25% Critical Damage and some extra Life Force Pool. Critical Damage is a big boost to our direct damage attacks, especially considering we're at 60% crit chance in this build (80% on occasion).
Gluttony is a decent passive, since we will be using our Death Shroud regularly. Last Gasp can really come in handy when a fight goes poorly. It soaks up some damage and gives extra Life Force. Going almost all the way to the end of the line, we get Strength of Undeath, a flatout +5% direct damage boost that should always be up because you should try to stay above 50% Life Force pool at all times.
Unyielding Blast further improves Life Blast, making it hit harder every time it's cast. Master of Terror is great with this build. The combination of +50% non-bleed condition duration and this trait means your Fears will last 2 seconds, which causes Terror to essentially do double damage (around 2.5k total with this build).
The main stats are Precision, Condition Damage, Power, and Crit Damage. We get big boosts to Precision, Condition Damage, and Crit Damage from traitlines, and a decent boost to Power.
So when it comes to armor, we want to push further the advantages we've gotten just from the traitlines, and potentially add some defense to round out the build and make it less of a glass canon.
The following charts and information are based on maximizing damage at the cost of defense.
In picking out my gear, the first thing I looked for was reaching my crit chance goal. In this case that goal was 60%, which means adding 1176 Precision on top of the base 916 at level 80. We get 300 Precision from going 30 points into Curses, so we only need 876 from gear.
What 60% crit chance gets us is:
Fully one half (50.4%) of all attacks will result in a Earth Sigil proc (when using 2 Sigils of Earth. Has a 2-second cooldown). Further, Barbed Precision will trigger on 39.6% of all attacks. That adds up to exactly 90% of attacks resulting in a bleed proc of some sort. Madness. More details on this can be found in the Sigil section.
50% crit chance is perfectly acceptable, especially if you're dropping that extra 10% because you want to add more defense.
To start, we're looking for gear that gives Power, Condition Damage, and Precision. Rampager's (red) gear does just that. But a full set of Rampager's gives too much Precision, it puts us above 60% crit chance. By replacing some items of Rampager's with Carrion (blue) we lose Precision and gain Condition Damage.
This setup uses a back slot item gotten from a quest everyone will do in their Personal Story. Depending on your choice of Order, the quest will be different but you always get three choices of reward. In our case we pick the Rampagers Spineguard of the Rampager. It's only of Masterwork quality, but comes with an Exotic jewel.
Ascended gear is a bit tricky here. I've crunched some numbers and basically you have to take a loss to either Condition Damage or Power. The available prefixes are just not very conducive to this build (yet). At this point in time, your best choices are Rampager's and Berserker's. By using a mix of the two you can split the difference, but it's still not perfect. Now I fully expect more prefixes and affixes to come (I'd love me some Carrion), so until then you can either hold off on Ascended pieces or just get whichever you like.
Right now I'm liking this setup the best (subject to change over time). It loses a bit of bleed damage but gains quite a bit of Crit Damage and some Power. I'm even considering switching a ring over to Berserker as well. Because Ascended trinkets incorporate jewels into their stats, they have really high Crit Damage boosts.
You should decide for yourself if you want to boost the Condition side or the Direct side of your Necromancer. These days I'm leaning toward boosting the Direct side, since having +100% bleed duration can really make up for the loss in individual tick damage in most circumstances.
Of course, to add Toughness you will need to incorporate gear like Soldier's or Knight's / Cavalier's. Rabid is a good choice as well if you wish to maintain a high Condition Damage stat.
3 Runes of the Afflicted and 3 Runes of the Krait to get +30% bleed duration and 166 Condition Damage. You can use only 2 of each of those to still gain the +30% bleed duration and use any 2 other Runes you like, but you will take a loss to your Condition Damage stat.
A word of advice
I strongly recommend placing a Rune of the Krait in your head slot item instead of Afflicted. To maintain the benefits of the runes in water you must also place one in your underwater breather and Krait is much cheaper than Afflicted!
This build uses 2 Sigils of Earth simultaneously on the Scepter and the Dagger. Yes, they share a 2-second cooldown, but what you receive from using 2 at once is a higher chance to proc on each attack. One sigil has a 60% chance to proc on a crit. In the event that the sigil does not proc ( which is 40% of the time), the second sigil takes over. The total is an 84% chance on crits to proc a Sigil of Earth (60% of 40 is 24).
With 60% crit chance, this translates to a Sigil of Earth proc every other attack. 50.4% chance to proc on every single attack. The 2-second cooldown will likely mean that you won't actually get a proc every other attack (depending on attack speed), but this isn't a problem specific to using 2 Sigils of Earth, the cooldown is there even if you use only one. Using 2 simply gives you a higher overall proc chance.
To compensate for "using up" 2 sigil slots on identical sigils, we must now find a place to put a Sigil of Corruption in order to get that extra +250 Condition Damage stacked up (it's a "free" bonus of 12.5 damage per bleed tick).
Switchback has tested and found that putting a Sigil of Superior Earth on the Staff weapon can lead to a bug that causes the sigil to not proc properly. Lopez has done some testing and hasn't run into the bug, however, so you may wish to try it out for yourself.
So to get a Sigil of Corruption into our rotation we should either put it on our other weapon set or carry a second Dagger with the Corruption Sigil on it, then switch to the Earth Sigil dagger once the 25 stacks are hit.
With the Staff, you only have 1 slot, so using the Dagger-switch technique allows you to use something like a Sigil of Battle on your Staff, giving some bonus Might.
If you use Axe/Dagger & Focus for your other set, you have 2 slots to work with, so it's easier to squeeze in a Sigil of Corruption. Because the Axe and Dagger attack pretty fast, it is hindered more by the Earth's 2-second cooldown so having 2 Earths isn't as useful. I prefer to use 1 Earth and 1 Corruption here.
Edited by Reverse Ghost, 04 March 2013 - 12:27 AM.