[UPDATE: Character Planner added on LastEpochTools: https://www.lastepochtools.com/planner/eoy9yYol]
**Note: If anyone shows interest in this post, I will happily update it with any addition info I may have left out. This is just a quick guide for now to introduce the concept of the build atm but I would love to see it develop into a fleshed out guide with your feedback. <3 **
So, where was I? Oh yes…
Do you like zooming through monos/dungeons watching the entire screen melt as you move at breakneck speeds?
Do you want something more engaging than an autobomber without giving up the clearspeed?
Do you want to be able to face-tank the Temporal Sanctum at T4?
Do you have unfulfilled Winnie the Pooh RP fantasies???
If so, stick your head into that honey jar, cuz BEARSWARM may be for you!
What is BEARSWARM!!!???
Wave goodbye to your human form, you won’t be seeing it until you die! Bearswarm is a bleed-centric hybrid Druid that constantly bounces between the Werebear and Swarmblade Forms to get the best of both worlds (tankiness and deeps). As most of Bearswarm’s damage comes from your Locusts (with some DoT scaling and a bit of bleed duration), there is a lot… A LOT… of opportunity to build defensively.
Playstyle: The playstyle in a nutshell is you gather up as many mobs as you want as a Werebear, get a burst of bleeds on them with Maul and Roar, switch to Swarmblade, quickly get your 40-50 locusts out before consuming the swarm into a MASSIVE Locust Swarm and switching back to Bear Form in order to Rampage across the zone with your screen-wide insta-death cloud for 16 seconds before rinsing and repeating.
My Specific Rotation: Maul-Roar-Swarmblade Form-Summon Hive(x4)-Dive-Armblade Slash(x8)-Dive-Swarm Strike-Werebear Form-Rammmmmmpaaaaaage.
Depending on your attack speed and how you choose the spec the Swarmblade tree, you may need a couple more or fewer slashes to get all of your locusts out of their hives.
Damage Ramping: Beyond Locust Swarm’s scaling tags, which are self-explanatory (you can see these tags if you mouse over Bloodlust Swarm and hold alt), you need to keep in mind a few things for the damage ramp.
First off, the build is all about bleeds to make Bloodlust Swarm shine. A bleed lasts only 4 seconds, which is less time than it takes the execute the full rotation. A ALOT of your bleeds come from the first 2 moves in the rotation, Maul and Roar, and having them drop off is a major dps loss. The solution to this is bleed duration which Primalists can get on helms, chest, and idols. There are no other great idols for this build (though DoT ones are nice to have), so I recommend getting your bleed duration from idols. They are of the 2x2 variety so you can squeeze in as many as 4 of these to get almost 100% increased bleed duration and 8 seconds is plenty of time to get in the full rotation.
A second factor to consider is how many mobs survive your rotation. You don’t want to kill them before Locust Swarm consumes the locusts. This is unavoidable at lower corruption levels as many mobs are squishy and will die, but you can mitigate it a bit by repositioning yourself by Diving as you slash to keep hitting the hives without taking out as many of the low life mobs. As a side note, this why you don’t want to start a new rotation until the previous Locust Swarm has ended in most circumstances (bosses excluded), as you’ll be gimping your next Locust Swarm. The awesome solution to mobs dying too fast during your windup is play in higher corruption zones (or higher tier, in the case of dungeons).
Keeping Locusts Alive: % Increased MINION Health is the key here. About 500-600% is more than sufficient for running the Temporal Sanctum dungeon at T4. If you are still having trouble keeping minions alive, try smaller pulls (boo!) or taking the Challenging Might node in the Warcry skill tree so that mobs focus attacks on you instead of on your locusts (yay!).
Class Passive Trees:
Primalist Tree (28 points):
6/6 Hunter’s Gift - life! minion life!
1/8 Primal Strength - prerequisite
5/5 Hunter’s Restoration - life!
6/6 Survival of the Pack - leech! minion leech!
5/5 Hunter’s Emanation - minion heals! (low priority)
5/5 Berserker - damage reduction!
Beastmaster (22 points):
8/8 Ursine Strength - damage reduction!
1/8 Savagery - prerequisite
5/5 Boar Heart - AotB OP!
1/8 Ambush - one point wonder!
5/5 Porcine Constitution - AotB even more OP!
4/5 Primal Strength - more AotB uptime
Druid (61 points):
7/7 Chitinous Plating - endurance! armor! minion armor!
7/7 Spirit Warden - life!
5/7 Druidic Prowess
5/5 Focused Wrath - low priority to go to 5/5, prerequisite for Rancour
5/5 Wind in the Leaves - much needed attack speed for slashes
1/1 Rancour - no more human form!
8/8 Fetid Resilience - moar dots!
8/8 Primal Shifter - massive armor buff, pretty much permanent with this playstyle
10/10 Hideskin - life! insane endurance threshold!
5/5 Impervious - damage reduction!
All the Berserking nodes except Bloodthirst (total of 9 points including Juggernaut prerequisite)
2/2 Challenging Might (total of 5 points including Apprehend and Staggering Roar prerequisites)
5/5 Shredding Howl (total of 6 points including Kinetic Scream prerequisite)
Any extra points you get from items can go wherever you like, but I like Deep Roar for the AOE)
4/4 Aspect of the Panther, 1/1 Feline Hunter, 2/2 Maul for attack speed and damage boosts
5/5 Blood Beast and 4/4 Rending for more bleeds and physical shred
5/8 Way of the Hunt for the leech. This is provides a lot the health sustain you’ll have in Bear Form.
The points into Rending are primarily there for bossing as it won’t figure into the normal rotation since you’ll be Rampaging like a beast during clear.
4/4 Crater and 5/5 Savage Impact
3/3 Panther Strike
5/5 Warrior’s Entrance and 3/3 Rage for more attack speed
4/5 Rip and Tear
1/5 Enrage (prerequisite)
1/1 Barrage or the Swarm (always have at LEAST 6 mobs in your pull to get your 6 extra locusts)
1/1 Fury of the Maul
5/5 Bloodthirst (moar bleeds!)
1/1 Skull Crusher
1/4 Ursine Heart
1/3 Frenzied Strikes (ensures you don’t drop out of Bear unexpectedly)
1/5 Wasp Flight
3/5 Death by a Thousand Wings (wtb Swarmblade +skills affixes)
1/1 Bloodlust Swarm
1/5 Feverous Stings
4/4 Grand Colony
2/2 Hive Mind
1/3 Bountiful Hibernacula
1/3 Release the Horde (more points in this skill might be nice but mostly unnecessary because of cooldown on form swapping)
2/4 Slashing Spiral
4/4 Neverending Drove
1/1 Swarm’s Fury
Those of you that are good at math might notice I have 21 points here instead of 20. That’s because I wear a Thorn Slinger Belt and I cannot figure out what point I would give up to make this a 20 point skill. Everything is mandatory. I guess if push came to shove it would have to be to drop a point from Neverending drove but losing Rampaging time feels really bad.
Block effectiveness from The Age of Winter is very nice for this build.
Chance to bleed from Reign of Dragons is nice, but you could also take Critical Strike Avoidance from there if you’re having trouble getting enough from gear. I took the Frailty blessing from Spirits of Fire for another defensive layer. Other than that, I’ve just been getting the resistance blessings from the other Monoliths.
Gear and Affixes:
I only use 2 uniques in this build. One is the aforementioned Thorn Slinger for the extra bleed but mainly for the +1 to physical skills which is nice for the 4 other skills but mandatory for Swarmblade Form. Note that Swarmblade is tagged as minion so you could get more skill points from +minion skill items but I haven’t looked into this much yet.
The other unique is Bastion of Honour because… well… it’s Bastion of Honour.
Other than those 2 uniques, get all the tanky trimmings on your gear: As much life as you can on gear, 100% crit avoidance, 60% endurance, block effectiveness. Wouldn’t be too worried about endurance threshold on items as you already have a ton from passives and high health pool. Of course, more threshold is better always for a life build, but I feel okay with 1400ish on my bear’s 4.6k health pool which took next to no investment on gear.
[EDIT: 4600 health was with health idols equipped. If I had bleed idols shown in the planner (haven’t dropped for me yet), it would be closer to 3500+ health]
Idols: As mentioned the adorned idols with bleed duration are pretty much mandatory, unless you can get enough from your helm/chest slots.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you are trying to roleplay Winnie the Pooh and locusts aren’t good enough for you, then you can get some bees per 10 seconds idols going for you. You will lose a lot of DPS but then again… BEEEEEEEEEES!
In closing, I’d point out that this is my first attempt at a guide and if anyone likes it I can put some more time into it with pictures / videos / whatever based on your feedback. Also I’m fairly new to LE, only been playing for the last month so if I’m missing something or if you have tips for improvements I would love to hear from you. This is my 4th character to level into the high 90’s and it’s by far the most fun I’ve had with the game (even though I loved the other 3 builds too). It’s a sweet combination of damage ramping and autobombing that keeps me engaged and I cannot wait to see how far I can push it as it seems like it’s only going to get stronger dps as I climb in corruption. I mostly wrote this guide because I see a lot of people poo-pooing Swarmblade as a concept and I wanted others to see how much fun it could be. And finally, if you read global chat in game and see some weirdo randomly shouting BEARSWARM!!! whenever people ask about overpowered builds, now you know why.