Power Slaying: Szyncletica at Endgame

I thought I’d make some final screen captures of Szyncletica the star-thrower as she approaches level capstone in her first life. She’s L26 at the time I write this, and may likely reach L28 before Christmas if I still haven’t looted or crafted the essentials I think she needs for Life 2.0.

As noted before, this is a very powerful build that can take down single enemies well and do surprisingly well against mobs with the right shuriken. In fact, I have one of those “right shurikens,” getting lucky to get an Improved Paralyzing Level 20 spelltouched star. With Improved Precise Shot (IPS), she’s a very effective one-man crowd controller in some Epic adventures.

This is one character I’m looking forward to reincarnating with glee. It’s fun to play at all levels, and she will only get stronger, although I’m pondering my options for her weakest point.

Dragons

One of my first tastes of how good Szyn would be involved a foray into “Mired in Kobolds.” At the end, you encounter Valrath, a young black dragon. If you want all the treasure in that area, you can stick around to take out his much tougher mother, Sinvala.

Animated illustration of circlestrafing. The b...

Animated illustration of circlestrafing. The blue player circlestrafes counterclockwise around his red adversary, firing continually as he does so. Red, unable to keep track of the moving blue, misses with most all shots. Blue is at an advantage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One thing I learned about many dragons is that they aren’t immune to poison. Szyn’s fighting style on dragons, given their relative size and difficulty in turning,  is basically circle strafing: (1) run around the enemy, (2) pelt them with debilitating stars and accumulate poison damage, (3) repeat until dead.

I was level 16 going into a Normal run on this, so I didn’t do anything especially “epic” except to survive a dragon. They spin and try to chase you, often spewing a nasty dragon breath of acid.

Because of their bulk, however, they aren’t as fast in chasing if you’re fast enough. By spinning about, the larger dragon cannot turn quite fast enough to hit you with their breath. Depending on the size of the area, you should be able to run without evading obstacles. In this quest, Valrath has a small group of paragon kobold fighters and shamans as well as the unstable power crystals that throw damage, and there are briar patches.

Being a ranged fighter with lots of Dodge and Improved Evasion, I stood my ground and immediately removed the crystals before beginning my run. I didn’t have to quite target the kobolds. They eventually got into my throwing pattern at the dragon and IPS removed them.

Szyn-vs-SinvalaValrath was my match at 16. Then I stayed about for Sinvala, who comes in at CR21 on Normal. She got the same treatment but much larger poison damage, often reaching 75 per tick.

As for touch healing, circle strafing works because the hireling is busy trying to chase you around and thus tends to stay out of immediate danger since the dragon is focused on the damage dealer–you. Occasionally I’d cut across the dragon’s flank to get a quick heal from my hireling (in this case, Isadora the Cleric) and then continue my circling.

I’ll likely go back in to see how I do against the CR30 mama dragon on Elite, while being 4 or so levels below her at around L26. Only Lynncletica has beaten Sinvala on Elite–and she’s a tanking Shintao with far greater defenses than Szyn.

A more recent adventure was in Epic Normal “Don’t Drink the Water,” where Szyn entered at L24 against CR27 Tharmalos, a green dragon that loves his poison breath. Strange that he’s not immune from poison, either.

Szyn-vs-TharmalosI attacked him the same way as with Sinvala: circle strafing. After a point, the area’s floor breaks up into pools of acid, so I’ve developed a third-eye, as it were, jumping while strafing to avoid the holes.

Against Tharmalos and his tendency to try to pounce on you like a 12,000 pound rabid kitten with a serious case of mange, standing still at any time against him was unwise.

So, in summary, Szyn’s speed, evasiveness and miss-chance, combined with firepower, makes her a fierce dragon slayer. Thankfully, the game offers a wide area to fight when dragons appear, be it in “Mired,” the epic Gianthold wilderness or the raid “Fall of Truth.” Else, she’d be a chew toy.

Bosses

If dragons can be felled, smaller bosses shouldn’t a huge issue in general. The problem here is typically maneuvering room. The smaller the corridor or room, the tighter circles I have to spin, and the more likely that a boss will chase me. Often here, their lair is too small and I collide with everything, forcing me to move the fight out of an area or use another tactic.

In solo play, my hirelings never out-do my damage rate and so keeping Threat is always a problem.

Since most bosses aren’t large or stay still, the attack pattern goes from circle strafing to kiting the enemy in solo play. I let them chase me but always stay ahead of them while continuing my barrage. This works very well against spell casters that sometimes cannot deal their most damaging spells due to my poison-dotting as well as any other Shiradi effects that interrupt their concentration. Distance is key against fighters as Drow hit with poison of their own as well as dangerous critical hits.

Unlike my melee Monks, Szyn has got away with just using her non-epic White Dragonscale Robe and adding a modest 110% fortifying set of gloves into the mix for Epic play. She just got a Blurry item to help with attacks so she’s more untouchable but can withstand a hit or two without serious complications. I’ve been farming for a Shimmering Arrowhead in “The Weapons Shipment” with no joy and imminent chest ransacking. I’m not reincarnating before I have this and one or two Green Steel weapons in her arsenal.

Shroud fighting is good for Szyn as she can hold still with Archer’s Focus to concentrate damage on the static Harry in part 4, sidestepping as required to avoid the occasional meteor. In part 5, she lets the melees engage for a moment and then attacks from a long way away, always keeping one of the melee fighters between her and Harry as a way to keep him from immediately breaking in a run towards her position.

When not strafing, the challenge is to stay out of melee range, keep enough miss-chance effects up to minimize ranged damage and not to kite enemies too far from their lair to avoid rubber-banding them back to their start, fully healed and more dangerous than when you had better health and buffs.

Poison, poison, poison. I can’t say enough on the positives of this dot effect. Slashing damage from the stars now confirm for me what Szyn is best at: Killing non-demonic, non-undead, non-construct hordes.

Weaknesses

Starting off at low level, mobs aren’t too good to encounter. With IPS, it’s less of a bother. But there are some things I just can’t take down very well.

Undead giant skeletons. They need the best bludgeoning DR and my slashing attacks with shuriken just don’t do it. Even with the vaunted Morning Star and using Shiradi stance “Stay Good,” I give limited damage. So much for any Subterrane trips until I get that Greater Disrupting Green Steel star completed.

Golems and living constructs. Without a smiting shuriken, it’s tough going on constructs. I began work on Elite runs in the Cannith Manufactury for the three quests there. In “Power Play,” it wasn’t too bad in using the spelltouched stars for damage. But in the end fight, the continuous respawns and awkward kiting I had to do became too complex and I died from Steelthorn’s team. I don’t have an answer for these guys through any named or high-crafting option at present. I could only craft up a Holy Adamantine Greater Construct Bane star to use on them and planar portals in the Shroud. I hate artificers. They really use Lightning Motes nowadays to stun very effectively since Update 19. It’s not impossible for a smiting shuriken to be generated, I think. It’s just that the damn weapons overall don’t show up as often in loot generation, much less higher-end stars with great properties.

Demons and devils. If there are only a few individuals, it’s not a problem. When mobs show up, Szyn’s inability to poison them and their DR requirements (Good) limit the use of Epic Destiny options in Shiradi. I appreciate the “Stay Good” stance to add no-damage Good alignment to weapons. But this won’t work against pit fiends and horned devils. Perhaps paradoxically, while its harder to remove demonic mobs, my Shocking Burst Silver of Pure Good star easily robs these bosses of their life. Go figure.  A better Green Steel Mineral II star is in the works. Szyn held her own quite well in an Epic Normal “Devil Assault” run with a couple of hirelings to light-tank. Even got a Shard of Great Power for my troubles. I’ll have two or three more runs there before Szyn is ready for her second life, in so far as needed Tokens of the Twelve, at least.

The Near Future

I’ve been organizing more guild Shroud runs that seem to be appreciated. Just had one last night (at the time of this post) and I think I finally have all the materials required to fully craft my Greater Disruption star. With maybe another run or two, the Mineral or Ice II will be next.

I see myself skipping the Demonweb quests this time around since getting XP isn’t the issue, but the right gear. Self-piking a Heroic series of Wheloon Prison quests to pick up more useful mid-level gear as well as Heroic Gianthold for similar items attracts me more. I’m even considering doing several Eveningstar challenges to build at least one more low-end spelltouched star to add to the next life’s arsenal, or encouraging a few guildmates to help me run the Cannith Challenges for a Frozen Tunic

In addition to the necessary Shroud runs, I’m looking more at epic Gianthold for thinking ahead to building an Epic White Dragonscale Robe and getting the matching helm. That means joining PuGs of “Fall of Truth.” My guild’s rather conservative on Epic and raid play compared to some,  and I’m less likely to join a PuG, so I haven’t gotten out there much.

There’s also the matter of survival. Three emergency recharges of Healing Spring isn’t cutting it for sustained battle play where rests or places to hide to use Wholeness of Body are possible, such as a raid. While Szyn has some of the best DPS, she has the worst healing amplification of my characters–practically zero. Often this isn’t a problem since her fighting style allows her to stay far away from melee attacks and dodge or evade many magic and missile attacks. But in the Shroud, the Whirling Blades eat her alive, especially on Elite. I got smacked with 50-100 point ticks, and only the character’s speed avoided a nastier fate.

I’ll spend some PDK commendations for some Purple Dragon Knight Gauntlets before reincarnating but I need a better battle healing option. My usual alternative for my Monks, vampirism, can’t work on ranged attacks, which is all that Szyn is able to do in effective fighting.

After re-reading the Shradi Shuricannon thread once more on things I’ve might have missed, I’ll realize now I will have to bear disabling Shiradi for a time and start training a bit in Primal Avatar for Rejuvenation Cocoon and a little more health. Unlike the build specification, I don’t think I trained anything in Shintao Monk to gain 10% amplification, and it’s a bit late to worry about it now, given that I’m not planning on entering Szyn in anything in this life that requires it.

At the risk of sounding redundant, this is one reincarnation I’m looking very forward to doing, but I have to slow my excitement down and gear up for the next life while I can.

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. John B.
    Dec 07, 2013 @ 01:38:52

    Ranged combat has certainly improved since u19, and this definitely helps show that. I’ve even managed to start enjoying the Mechanic, and looking forward to unlocking Artificer. In any case, how are you holding up with the lack of ki strikes?

    I hate gearing up. I’m still trying to gear out my Shintao, and it’s mostly involving a lot of runs of Prison of the Planes right now. Damned Kardin’s Eye and Spiked Boots! Then there’s grinding for the Good Augment for the Adamantine Knuckles, among other things. (The other slot has a +66 healing spell power on it.) I really am enjoying the update they made to Gianthold. The whole thing makes for really nice TR gear.

    • teachersyn
      Dec 07, 2013 @ 12:29:26

      Surprisingly, I don’t miss ki strikes at all. I need ki for only three tasks: Ten Thousand Stars and Wholeness of Body, and Abundant Step on occasion. All attacks and damage come from the star, which is more than enough. As I noted in an earlier post, gearing up Szyn is totally different than other Monks; it’s more like gearing an archer.

  2. Mernom
    Dec 07, 2013 @ 03:02:46

    How about epic tr abilities?

    • teachersyn
      Dec 07, 2013 @ 12:30:50

      The build really strategies Drow’s innate skills, so TRing is a matter of gaining more DEX for damage, really. Maybe I don’t understand your question, however.

  3. grimorde
    Dec 07, 2013 @ 05:44:36

    I have to admit, the more I read about this build the more I’m tempted to try it….

    I wonder if the dragons & poison thing is to do with the (now) differences in standard & magical poisons?

  4. erdrique
    Dec 13, 2013 @ 10:38:52

    I’ve enjoyed reading your progress with this character and it encourages me to try to do some other unique builds. Glad you are enjoying it, and look forward to seeing how it progresses!!

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