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Help using Forge Strike

I am trying to find a way to play a minion build using forge guard and am having very little luck using forge strike in any meaningful way during the early campaign. This skill seems like it requires 10+ points of investment before it becomes even usable. I regularly spawn far more minions using rive than I do with this skill because: it costs a ton of mana to use, it takes time to hit after activating, it does terrible damage, it only spawns minions at a 20% chance on hit, and the minions only last 10 seconds. I get that after significant skill point investment that this skill can be useful, but I’ve never encountered another skill in this game that is this bad without specialization. Am I missing something? Am I supposed to just play through the campaign with rive and wait to use forge strike until after I level it up a bunch? That seems like a lousy way for a mastery’s signature skill to behave.

One last question, does a skill gain tags based on how you specialize it? I thought that taking nodes in a skill that give it fire damage or ignite chance would make it a fire skill (for the purpose of things like the unique helmet calamity) but it doesn’t show the fire tag when you mouse over it. Is this intended behavior?

Some nodes do change the tags, for example, taking the Temper node adds base fire damage & that gives it the fire tag. As I understand it, anything that changes (or adds to) the base damage (but not added damage from weapons) of a skill should change the tags.

Forge Strike is a bit of an odd skill though since it’s a melee attack as well as a minion skill. For example, I’d expect the “Forged by Fire” node to add the fire tag to the minions (since it adds base damage), but it doesn’t.