It’s been a year or so since I’ve last written a skill re-write, and that was the rewrite of Primalist companion skills. I understand that things were very busy getting the Rogue out the door, but it’s disappointing that a year has passed and there’s no news about whether any of the Primalist minions are getting a good look-over.
That being said, I received a new gaming spec that’s able to play this game much better than the previous spec, and I’ve been able to touch this for the first time since Patch 0.7. Having exclusively touched on Primalist, I decided to test out the Necromancer minions. Last Epoch Necro is definitely a unique playstyle compared to other RPGs, and I love the wanton cravenness that the team has given the Necro with regards to how she treats the Skeletons. That being said, I’m here to suggest removing a whole lot of useless nodes and provide more synergy in its place.
Re-writing this skill
Firstly, I’d like to propose removing the following nodes, as they are too cumbersome and take away from the feel of the skill:
- Bone Armor line (6 total skill points): the Skeletons are either going to be DPS driven or literal sacrifices, so giving them a tank feel isn’t going to add anything to this skill. If anything, the Golem has something like this already and should be the proper source of these nodes.
- Unyielding Phalanx - I get the concept of summoning beefier skeletons when the regular skeletons die too much, but this is the wrong way to approach it. More damage and size isn’t going to help with the larger concern: massive AoE attacks that wipe out a herd almost immediately.
- Immortal (4 points): RNG chances of having a new Skeleton replace an old one is a waste of valuable skill points, especially when you can reduce the Summon Skeletons cost drastically to simply summon a new one in its place.
- Memory Catcher (4 points): The amount of spell damage you get from this is not nearly enough to be worth spending so many valuable skill points.
- Sweeping Strikes (5 points): I’m personally not a fan of using 4-5 skill points just to add more AoE to basic attacks. I feel like that’s something that takes up a chunk of your personal level usage without any “wow” factor that makes the skill worth it.
- Fire Arrow + Multishot (5 points): A large issue with minion skills having a large cooldown is that it’s random when they use it, so they often overkill a harmless trash enemy; and when a Rare enemy with a huge AoE threat comes, the skill’s on cooldown.
I haven’t personally tested the Rogue Skeletons yet, but I find the concept of mixing 3 different types of Skeletons together to be largely without any sort of synergy. The Warriors (front-line meat shields) and the Archers (backline and makes use of minion bow skills) are established, and you can easily create synergy depending on your other 4 skills, especially as removing the above points gives you an additional 22 node points you can either branch out or consolidate into 5-6 main node ideas.
Possible syngergy combinations for thought:
*Skeleton Warriors and Mage Death Knights - Using the Skeleton Mage as a front-line warrior is off the beaten path, and maybe it could use the Bone Armor buff that the Warriors have. Something in the Mage tree like: "Death Knights provide a Bone Armor buff applying to themselves and all Skeleton Warriors, reducing damage by 40% for 4 seconds (10 second cooldown). It would definitely help with survivability as Skeletons are not known for their sturdiness.
*Archers and Wraiths - Since wraiths are intangible, it would be cool to have the concept of an arrow going through a flame wraith and having a flame arrow come out the other side. Since having the Wraiths line up would be impossible, I would instead make the skill something like: "If a wraith has been summoned in the last 2 seconds, the Archer attacks gain 2 flat damage per point depending on whether the wraith was normal Wraith (Necrotic Arrows), Flame Wraith (Fire Arrows) or Putrid Wraith (Poison Arrows).
Archers: In Sacred 2, there was a Skeleton fortress skill where a stationary pile of bones would shoot arrows at enemies. It would be neat if the Archer line took inspiration and depending on how many Archers could be summoned, instead create a stationary arrow tower that would shoot arrows for X seconds. It’s sort of like the Lone Champion node for Warriors, except it encourages you to get as many Skeleton summon bonuses as possible; perhaps have X/4 arrow towers up at once, depending on the maximum number of Archers you can summon (as opposed to Warriors & Rogue).
To replace Unyielding Phalanx, I’d like to propose the following: “If 3+ Skeletons of the same type (Warrior, Archer, Rogue) die in the span of 2 seconds, raise 1 larger Skeleton with +50% resistances, 100% Health and +80% damage. It’s health decreases rapidly after 30 seconds.” This accomplishes the same purpose as the original Unyielding Phalanx, but grants a buff by providing a Skeleton that’s actually capable of surviving the enemy onslaught instead of intentionally hanicapping yourself for a Skeleton that gets killed by the AoE anyway. The health drain is to help balance things after the large Skeleton kills the rare / Boss enemy that’s responsible for for the AoE in the first place.
Making Golems stand out
Points to remove:
- Bone Growth (5 points): A quarter of the skill’s alloted points for an additional 35 health regen per second? I suppose it would help with something like handling Infernal Shade, but would anyone really feel this in the face of ever-increasing damage + hits from enemies?
- Faint Form (5 points): The increased resistances should be already baked into the new form; the Fire form would have more Fire + one other resistance, the Spectral form would have Cold + Necrotic, and the Blood form would have Physical + one other resistance. Question becomes: how do you increase its other resistances?
- Amalgram of Sentinels / Mages (5 points each): Considering how slow their attacks are, I would do away with this entirely. Maybe you can put Stun as part of the Bone Nova retaliation, as that is at least part of what Golems are meant to do: draw aggro and hit back.
- Marrow Eater (5 points): Considering we already have Fragments of the Fallen which last for 15 seconds and happens where you need it the most (when an existing Golem is killed fighting a nasty enemy), both the bonuses and the duration (4 seconds doesn’t even cover the time between the first enemy wave and subseqent waves) are a pittance.
- Bone Hail (5 points): A contination of the theme of way too many skill points used for practically an RNG outcome. Unless the higher chance + damage leads to significant less time in killing dangerous enemies, I’m not interested.
- Charged Bones + World Pyre (12 points total): I’m fine with what the skill points do, but this is over HALF the alloted skill points just for the Fire Golem alone. I’d cut down the maximum points in half.
The Golem appears to be in a state of limbo - you can only have 1-2 of them, but they don’t put out nearly as much DPS as the Skeletons or Wraiths. They’re supposed to draw aggro and help keep Skeletons alive, but there’s only so much you can do with raw numbers, and even then Skeletons have Bone Armor which is supposed to help with that. It’s a big target which helps applying Infernal / Dread Shade easier, but it’s not certain whether the benefits of something like Infernal Shade + unlimited duration (kept alive by large regen) gives it enough of an AoE + DPS boost to make it worth using, especially since it’s supposed to also tank hits for Skeletons.
The main synergies I see with this are:
- Infernal Shade + Fire Golem with Regen to give it 72% speed boost + large Pyro AoE that helps with burning enemies.
- Twin Golems + Fragments of the Fallen + Sacrifice to give it a constant huge Armor bonus (but at the cost of a large amount of Mana)
- I know the Amalgation gets a Stomp attack when it consumes a Golem, but I would instead give it a huge stability boost and much lower health drain so that the Amalgation becomes effectively a short-lasting uber-tank. Having it absorb the 8000 Armor from Fragments of the Fallen would help it in this regard.
- Pyre / Spectre / Blood Golem: Would potentially help if you need more pets to inflict a specific type of damage. If something like Rip Blood doesn’t use your Rip Blood tree and has a large cooldown, I’d prefer it to be a large AoE spash attack that heals everything within the AoE (meaning your front-line Skeletons + Wrai ths). Having the particular type also affect Bone Nova on retaliation (the Spectral Golem giving Bone Nova Necrotic damage and a Chill debuff, for example) while also increasing the RNG chance would be a good replacement for Bone Hail, as the RNG helps the Bone Nova do something useful for the build outside of “just give it more damage”.
- It would also be awesome if you could combine two different Golems, so that you can have more options such as:
- Combining Pyre + Spectre would make the Fire Nova Cold damage and Chills instead of Ignites.
- Combining Spectre + Blood would make the Rip Blood AoE Poison instead and gives minions around its AoE Poison immunity where Acid attacks heal them instead of hurting them.
- Combining Pyre + Blood would cause enemies to explode if killed by fire damage, providing a small AoE, but heavy damage.
Fewer suggestions because I think this skill is the best thought-out
Points to Remove:
- Ossein Frenzy (3 points): Considering how much minion attack speed you can already get, an extra 20% will likely not give much benefit. Maybe a placeholder until you get more permanent sources of minion speed?
- Frozen Tomb (4 points): Skeleton Mages actually have a pretty decent arsenal of options to choose from (base crit, Crit Avoidance, multiple projectiles shot at once), so there’s no way that you’ll be able to afford a chance of freeze, which is not particularly a good ailment.
- Leech Life (5 points): This is more suited to the Necromancer passive tree - like Frozen Tomb, this the worst option of the potential 4-5 point skill nodes out there.
- Undead Mortars + Battle Hardened (4 points total) - Assuming you can’t convert the Necrotic damage to a type you’re more specialized in, an AoE ability with a 6 second cooldown is not worth the points.
- Archmage (1 point) - the only time I’d consider giving up more Mages to have one mage is not only are the basic attacks giving more damage (which the 2 additional projectiles do), but if the AoE attacks are more souped up. Instead of Necrotic Mortars, it provides a large meteor strike. Instead of Hungering Souls for the Death Knight, perhaps a high single-target damage channeling spell with a large debuff attached to it.
As to what to replace the points with: they already have a pretty unique set of bonuses, and I love that they can use Sacrifice on Skeletons or Wraiths. I’d probably use the extra points to make Undead Mortars a more interesting ability in the event you don’t want to take the Sacrifice route. Sacrifice itself is a pretty old tree, and almost half the nodes appear that they only give bonuses when YOU sacrifice your minions, so the mages wouldn’t get any benefit from those nodes themselves.
This skill is the most disappointing
Points to Remove:
Voracity (5 points): Now that you no longer have particular affixes that give you defensive benefits when channeling, you’re a bit of a sitting duck when you use this ability. So I would instead use these points to provide more resistances + armor + anything while channeling so that you can feel your survival improve when you need to remain planted.
Domination, Quick & the Dead, Stiched Flesh Imprisoned Horror, & Cadaverous Carapace (15 points total): This is way too many points for what is effectively the same purpose (some amount of damage for some amount of health decay). I would just focus on getting an acceptable damage numbers and acceptable health decay, and focus these nodes on things that are really important.
Fractured End (3 points): Unless the Skeletal Vanguards have more damage and overall usefulness than regular Skeletons, I don’t know 3 points is necessary for 3 additional Skeletons.
Increased Melee AoE (5 points): A common theme with these Necro minions - if you feel like the minions don’t have acceptable AoE off the bat, don’t force us to spend up to a fourth of our points just to have the skill feel useable.
With little conversions and little incentive to prioritize consuming some minions over others, this skill looks so disappointing. This is supposed to be the cream of the crop of the Necromancer minions, and I’m here sitting wondering “what’s the point of having this?” This minion needs to be a real hulking mass.
Consume enough Mages and be able to throw a giant flamethrower parallel to the dragons. If it consumes a Rogue, it should be able to use Transplant from your tree, and it should be able to transplant toward one of your other minions, blow it up, and use the bones to whack the enemies with. Consuming Warriors should give it blades for arms and with them a chance to deliver a flurry of strikes. If you’re consuming a minion who’s under the Infernal Shade, the Abomination should have a large flat Fire damage bonus.
Maybe give it nodes where if you can get it to survive over a certain period of time, it becomes increasingly unstable and parts of its body explodes in a small but damaging AoE while stunning the Abomination. There should be nodes where if you spec into Sacrifice, the minion first explodes giving heavy damage and then the spirit of the minion gets absorbed into the hulking mass of bones and flesh.
This is supposed to be your coup de grace - you’re sacrificing all your minions for one big assault, and what do you get? This sort of thing whose health is going down rapidly while also taking really hard enemy strikes? It has some unique abilities based off what you consume; this minion should be what you’re basing your whole build around, and you want people to synergize all of their skills just for a weak Hungering Souls? If anything, us testers should give this skill a lot more pizazz, as it’s one of the most unique minion skills I’ve seen in a RPG in quite some time.
I know there’s a lot for each of these abilities, but I’d really like to see the skills get a lot more flavor than simply “does more damage, but takes more mana to summon them.” I try not to force a huge number of animations (but it’s unavoidable for the abomination, as it needs the most work), but to apply even 1-2 of these suggestions would really spice up the class. It already does a great job differentiating itself so it’s not “Primalist, but with Undead creatures,” and this game has the most potential to give a flavor to Necromancers that I haven’t really seen in other games.