Sac’s Guide to Not Regretting Your Life Choices
AKA How to Build a Useful Character
AKA Getting the Most from Your CP
1. You want to get the most out of your character. If you don’t and you’re happy to just bumble along and make your own mistakes, good for you. Don’t waste your time reading this.
2. You’ve read the New Player Guide.
4. You will go and read-up on anything I mention in this guide you don’t understand.
Disclaimer The content in this guide is my opinion only and I really don’t care if you agree or not. If you don’t, go and make your own guide. I have however taken some opinions from other people and included them. I will talk GENERALLY most of the time. There are always exceptions to rules but I don’t want to make the guide twice as long by discussing every specific case or every specific T2 and T3 skill. If you’re specifically choosing skills for character RP reasons, this guide is not relevant to you at all.
Background I am a self-admitted, anal-retentive perfectionist min-maxxer so it frustrates me when I see characters who have spent their valuable CP on skills which don’t work together, or are useless for the character they’re creating. The fact is, there are only a couple of T3 classes in which you can build a solid character, get everything you want without compromise and still have some CP left over for the shiny ‘nice-to-have’ skills (yay if you want to be a Revenant). Unfortunately for you, the majority of classes require a compromise between what you want and what you can afford, sometimes a big one.
In the end you will want a character which is interesting and you WANT to play. Not one which is nerfed because they’re missing a key T3 skill due to spending all of your CP on crappy T1 skills, or T2 skills you use once a year.
Tier Skills in General
Tier 1, 2 and 3 skills seem to (I don’t know what the devs actually intended) serve different purposes. My take on it is:
Tier 1: Foundation skills which are built upon later, particularly in T3. Also included are a lot of ‘quality-of-life’ skills which aren’t essential but can make it easier for you if you have spare CP. Several of these can be worked around by using things such as potions though.
Tier 2 combat: Generally skills which increase damage done, to-hit chance or reduce damage taken. Typically this bonus is applied generically to any combat tree.
Tier 2 spellcaster: Firstly this Tier contains the ability to learn spells and use them to a basic standard. The skills themselves won’t help your mortal combat skills at all, but some of the spells you can learn will improve your to-hit for your T1 combat skill. Whether you will actually use this once you get your T3 skills or not is up to you to decide. It also contains a number of skills which will either support your own casting or help out your faction. Buying spells (including some utility spells) is a good way to use up the 250 CP you need to spend prior to T3, however again, make sure you’re not buying them at the cost of something more important and make sure they’re actually useful.
Tier 3: This is where you pick up your travel skill. Also here will be one or two trees which will buff, or otherwise utilise, specific Mortal combat trees (more on the importance of this later). This is also largely the place you’ll be making a decision on what role you see the character playing (e.g.- tanking, damage-dealing, faction support, raid support, etc). Many of the skills here continue to improve on the base skills you already have, add new ways of supporting yourself and/or your faction or open up the key skills for your T3 class (e.g.- petmasters).
Planning Principles These are the principles I keep in mind when planning a character:
1. Plan, plan, plan. Look at the character planner, familiarise yourself with the skills, generate different options to assess the benefits/stat bonuses. You can also generate a plan when you’ve settled on a build and copy and paste it to your in-game notepad for reference. If you try to freestyle a build without a plan or just build it as you level, you’ll waste CP.
2. Don’t take a skill just because it’ll help you level up. There are a number of skills that will help you get through the crappy T2 XP grind (e.g.- Alchemy). If you can’t see yourself using the skill once you’re maxxed, you’re wasting CP. E.g.- alchemy experimentation will level you through the first 3-4 levels of T2 by itself.... YAY!!!... but if you’re going to be a petmaster, in T3 all of your MP is going to go into keeping your pets up and brewing potions will be the last thing you want to spend it on. Skills which increase damage a bit for the cost of extra AP also don’t scale well. Spending an extra 1 AP to do extra damage looks great in T2, but when you’re doing 2-3 times that per attack in T3, suddenly you’ve got a skill you’re never using again.
3. Don’t dabble. There is usually very little scope to be a Jack-of all-Trades in this game. Most of the T3 classes have a number of expensive trees which often have quite different purposes. You won’t be able to take them all and trying to take the cheap branches of all of them will lead to a character which won’t reach its full potential. If you want to make a tanky Infernal Behemoth then your skills choices should lead towards maximising this. You are NOT going to be able to make a character who is insanely tanky AND deals heaps of damage. The classes are built like that for a reason and you’ll just end up with a guy who can’t do either well. I’m not saying you MUST finish a complete T3 tree if you start it, but just make sure you’re happy you’ll get what you want out of what you do take. However if you try to dabble in the mortal combat trees by taking the first one or two skills in each of them, CONGRATULATIONS! you’ve just created a guy that can’t hit anyone, four different ways.
4. Choose skills across different Tiers which compliment/reinforce each other. There is no point planning on using that awesome T3 debuff skill which uses bows, if you took the melee tree in T1.
5. Talk to people. Just because a skill looks great in the planner doesn’t mean it works the way you think it will. Discussing options for a build on the forums will get you excellent answers and a much better understanding from people who have used the skill or played the class before. Also, have a look at other people’s builds. Ask them why they went that way and what works and what they don’t like.
Building the Build
As I see it there are two good ways to plan your build. Start at T3 (my preferred method) or start at T1.
Start at T3: This method is useful when you have a good idea of the final role for your character (e.g.- tanky Nexus Champion, maximum damage Void Walker, raid support Advocate, etc). This way you can identify the T3 skills which are going to be essential for your build. Much of the time the skills you particularly want from T3 will be linked to or compliment a specific weapon type/combat tree. If this is the case, choosing your T1 combat tree is a no-brainer. After that, fill in the gaps and choose the T2 skills which will (once again) compliment your T3 skill choice, or ones you specifically want and throw it into the character planner. If you haven’t been too ambitious you should have some CP left over for some extra skills that will pad out your build.
Start at T1: Typically this will be the method used when you’ve settled on an awesome name for your guy which mandates a specific combat tree, but don’t know where to go after this. E.g.- you’ve just made Mike Tyson, so the Ear-chewing tree in T1 will be essential, but you don’t know whether you want to put a skirt on him and make him a raid buffing Advocate or have him punch pets around the ring as a dodgy Nexus Champion. Then you need to look at the T3 classes you’re interested in to see if they have skills which compliment your ear-chewing. If only one really maximises your ear-chewing potential, then you’re narrowing down your final decision. If you are quite happy to chew ears at a 55% to-hit rate and not much damage, because you think Mike really will look ‘absolutely fanTAStic’ in a skirt, while buffing the bejesus out of his factionmates during raids, then go for your life. As long as you’ve consciously made that decision and are happy with it, head over to the character planner and start biting ears.
When inputting your build into the planner, don’t feel you need to have every single CP allocated by the time you hit Level 30. I quite often have 90-120 CP left over when I max because, being a perfectionist, there are skills I haven’t 100% settled on. Also, by this time, your character’s situation may have changed. You may now be in a faction when you originally planned them as a feral. You may now be in a faction with 2 other solid debuffers so now you can take more of an enchanting role than you originally planned. I copy and paste the build generated by the planner into my character’s notepad and make a note of leftover CP at the end. Then I make a note of what I’m likely to be able to grind in the short term and the CP gained from it, followed by a list of skills I’ll consider spending it all on. This way you can see what you can afford and also give yourself a goal to achieve post Level 30.
Non-Combat Mortal Skill Discussion
This is heavily my own opinion on these mortal skills, but it’s still important because being 10 CP short on a T3 skill later on means you’ve got to take a month or so to grind the CP in badges. Spending 30-60 CP on useless Mortal skills is shooting yourself in the foot. The value of some will also depend on whether other faction members have them, or not (but do not rely on faction members always being there).
- Engineering: quite useful for Balance Nexus Champions to adjust MO. If you’re taking it as an XP source, reread Planning Principle 2. Take it later on to grind ‘Power Removed/Restored’ and ‘Doors Destroyed/Repaired’ badges if you want to. Structural Engineering is useful situationally, particularly if you get further fortification building boosts from your T3 skills. Yes being able to rebuild forts for 20 per AP (or more for a couple of classes) if you’re active while being raided is great, but whether this happens often enough to be worth 20 CP is questionable. If you’re in a very small or solo faction it becomes more worthwhile.
- First Aid: useful for demons (who can’t receive external healing) to be able to heal themselves for a decent amount, or also for dedicated healer types. If you’re taking it because you get great XP healing the Lich who’s cutting himself for pet MP, reread Planning Principle 2. Besides, he might be inactive in 2 months and you’ll be stuck begging the Revenant to go for a walk in the sun.
- Hide: useful mainly for feral characters but otherwise maybe take it later after you’ve bought everything else you need. Somewhat useful for factioned characters who get caught away from the SH, but make it a low priority.
- Lockpicking: previously I would have said “just don’t”. If you want to get through a locked door just bash the thing in with your sword or punch it until your knuckles bleed. If you’re taking it as a source of XP, go and poke a fork in your eye, it’s more fun.... and then reread Planning Principle 2 with your good eye. More recently though Lockpicking has become better for badges. If you want to, take it after you’ve grinded all the easy badges (food, alcohol, books) for crafting, door repair/destroy and lockpicking badges.
- Planar Protection: handy for a feral who can’t get PP potions and feels the need to hide-out with or hunt Angels or Demons. For a factioned character, just grab a couple of PP potions from the safe when it’s time for you to do your location badges or when a raid takes you there.
- Repair/crafting trees: OK, firstly if you’re not using the HtH tree for combat, having a repair tree in your build is très handy. Even with a crafter in the faction, you can’t always rely on them to fix your gear, and even if you do you may not have the item for a day or two at a time. Getting a repair/crafting tree is very much a personal decision and will likely be a trade-off between self-reliance and some shiny 60 CP T3 skill. If it’s useful to you as a skill, it’ll also be a source of more CP (in a busy faction, over a little while you’ll get 25 CP back in repair badges anyway). If you’re taking it as a source of XP... it’s not as bad as lockpicking and you can at least still help out others in your faction even if you’ve maxxed out. If you’re thinking of taking only basic repair or just a 20 CP crafting skill, reread Planning Principle 3.
- Search: just get it. If you rely on ammo, use FAKs, search for alchemy components, etc it pays off over and over. If you don’t specifically need it, just put it in your build anyway and by the time you’ve used books to level through T1-2 you’ve ticked up 500 books read and gotten the 10 CP back with the badge anyway.
- Sense Magic: yes you CAN live without it, but do you really want to be ‘that guy’ in the faction who has to have potions passed to them individually as someone tells you what they are in IRC/discord? Or the guy who has to ask which portal to go through to get to Stygia for the raid? Just get it.
- Tap Ley Line/Psychic Bloodhound: very build specific skills. TLL has its uses to compliment some classes more than others. It’s a personal decision to take it or not, and if you’re in a faction with a number of other people tapping the nearest leyline, it may be dry a lot of the time. I can’t see any use for Bloodhound at all, but that’s me.
- Sense Morality: as a demon it’s pointless. Who cares what someone’s MO is, you’re killing them anyway. As a Neutral or Good class it’s optional. Typically by the time you’re in a faction you’ll only be attacking factions or people who are likely to be the opposite anyway. If in doubt a quick look at their character page (i.e.- class and faction) will give you an indication of what MO they’re likely to be. Take it if you have spare CP left over after everything else... maybe.
Strength/Stamina: Strength is worth it for the extra storage space and fort rebuilding boost. If you happen to be a bow user the damage bonus is also nice. As an ammunition and/or multiple weapon using class it’s essential (for the storage space). Stamina is handy for a tank, but I wouldn’t take it at the expense of soak or dodge. It’s also handy for sorcerer exits as more HP can be converted to more MP with Sorcerer’s Might.
Swim: no.... just.... no.
1. You don’t need the build to be 100% planned out before creating the character. For example if you know for sure you’re going to make a gun-shooting Void Walker, just start the ranged tree and then take Sense Magic on the way through T1 to make up the 70 CP you need to have spent before ascending to T2. This way you have at least 10 levels before you have to make any further hard decisions about your build. This also leads to...
2. Save CP for Tiering up. Generally T2 and T3 skills enhance existing skills or give you something new in your bag of tricks for gaining XP <insert reminder about Planning Principle 2 here>. So during T1 and T2 an option is to take the minimal skills needed prior to going to the next Tier (70 CP for T2 and 250 CP for T3) and therefore have a good amount of CP available to buy the higher Tier skills straight away. This is easy to do in T1 with a combat tree and Sense Magic and/or Search. Spending 250 CP by T3 is a little harder and you may end up having to take some ‘convenience’ skills just to spend the CP. Just try to get the most out of them, even if they are useful for not much more than grinding badges and getting some CP back.
3. Save location badges until after you have your travel skill. Certainly pick up convenient badges, particularly on Valhalla (Laurentia in B3.5) as you respawn around the place during T1&2, but wait until T3 for your big badge run. Generally by then you’re in a faction which can provide you the PP potions to not die while doing it and you’ll be able to whiz around in about 2-3 AP cycles and have less chance of being killed and having to head all the way back to Angelville for the last two badges you missed.
4. Take a combat tree. Just.... take one.... Look, unless you’re a weird ferret who parks themselves under everyone’s feet with the aim of doing more repairs than every other soul in the Nexus combined, 60 CP for a basic combat tree isn’t that much of an imposition. At least then you can turn up to a raid and have about an 80+% chance of whacking a ward and quite possibly being the extra AP which turns defeat into victory inside. Also there is only one, maybe two, T3 classes which are viable at all for more than one combat tree. And I said “viable”, which means it still probably isn’t a great idea. Stick with one tree and get the most out of it. If you need different damage types, there is always enchanting available if you’re in a faction, or one of the random ‘feral helper’ factions which pop up, if you’re feral.