The Littlest Giantslayer

1500 GoliathsBefore Heat Mizer did a song-and-dance on my computer cores a few weeks ago, Szyncletica the star-thrower was back on the warpath. Continuing to show my tankers like Lynncletica that they aren’t the only ones that can hold their own going solo in Epic adventures, she’s ventured alone into the especially dangerous wastes of epic Gianthold, improving her fight experience and completing flagging quests on EH once more for an eventual run into Gianthold Tor.

Anyone that’s visited the epic version of this popular quest wilderness knows how it’s far more hostile than its Heroic mode. The giants have massive HP, can literally seem to see you from a mile away with their proportionate Spot bonuses, and often dogpile on you with three or more at a time.

Oh, and dragons like to drop out of the frickin’ sky and eat you.

Szyn, however, has taken a page or two from David’s book on getting giant shit done.

I’ve been playing her pure solo (like Kiricletica) since she went Epic, occasionally adding my Onyx Panther or another hireling for a little support occasionally (Restorations or aggro management). Doing this keeps me in control of what I fight and where, giving me the advantage.

The key to Szyn’s giant-slaying success at first was her level 20 Icy Burst, Crushing Wave, Improved Paralyzing spelltouched shuriken. Combined with Improved Precise Shot and Shiradi effects such as Nerve Poison, the high DPS just carves through hordes of giants with complete dominance. Still wearing the Golden Guile, its Improved Deception often bluffs the hordes, slowing their rate of advance.

And with level 23 reached once again, out came the Celestia. This adds firebombing and light-damage for spectacular mass-damage effects to already weakened mobs.

And then I got a new ML24 star crafted that causes faster damage to giants with some hidden nasty “spellplague” effects.

I didn’t bother going stealth too much. I wanted to attract attention.

To Szyn, a Drow with emmity to giantkind, Zoarinnia here looked like a winged giant... and just as easily eliminated.

To Szyn, a Drow with emmity to giantkind, Zoarinnia here looked like a winged giant… and just as easily eliminated.

The giants weren’t the only victims to Szyn’s davidic imitations. One dragon decided to show up and met death with a bit of circle-strafing attacks with a Green Steel Mineral II star (the go-to when you meet up with most red-named enemies).

A rare encounter with the sleeping dragon guarding a chest was far too easy for a Ninja Spy to sneak up and claim the goodies before purposely waking the dragon afterwards to remove it from existence. Five more dragons met their end before she slew her 1,500th giant.

The orcs in Epic Hard “Feast or Famine” shared the hurt, despite being a level 24 quest that should’ve given them a little edge against a technically weaker single enemy at level 23. Virtually immune to the many traps that line the doors, Szyn blasted through the orcs in the narrow hallways, dispatching the lieutenants and friends to get their passage keys. The hobgoblin party was slain before it could leave its hidden tunnel ambush point.

At the end fight, I decided just to open fire on everything that moved, concentrating first on any mages and then removing everybody, including the hunting party, before taking the boss down to complete the quest.

Earlier, Szyn slaughtered the orcs in Epic Hard “Return to Cabal for One” for her first flag.

One of the more annoying and difficult quests in-game, even with an Epic character, is “Prey on the Hunter” in the Reaver’s Refuge. You have to run a gauntlet of frost giants to rescue a dragon that’s too arrogant to think they need to be rescued. Just for a break from Gianthold, I buzzed through that one on Hard difficulty–risky because the giants were nigh-impossible for me to drop fast enough using any other Monks I had on Normal difficulty, including barely successful completions by the frost-giant-hating Lynncletica and the fiery staff wielding Quintessica the Mystic.

But Szyn does not tolerate failure. She quickly pummeled any giant with the Celestia’s raw fire and light power and IPS of the stars. She made it to the dragon and, to redirect aggro once the unrelenting red-named boss arrived, used a Diversion dummy. That little super-hate magnet pulled everything toward it, including the dragon, allowing me to target the boss giant faster for a quick takedown. Yay, me.

Gianthold’s loot is still well-enjoyed by many players, especially with the Epic mode and the changes in Gianthold Tor. Szyn wants to farm another Ring of Shadows for herself (she lacks Blurry at present). Epic Hard “Madstone Crater” is next. Here, she might need a Fighter to hold some attention at key points. I’m wondering if she could survive an Epic Elite run. Maybe once she’s back to level 28 prowess. Maybe.

There’s also the matter of getting her Flawless White Dragonscale Robe created. I’m about at the limits of the Frozen Tunic’s advantages and need better overall defenses with more HP since Szyn now draws a lot of aggro in solo mode with killing as a strategy rather than avoiding fights. The Flawless Scale, combined with its matching helm, can help here. More on getting Szyn ready for real EE play in a later post.

As others know, “Madstone” is difficult for some parties, much less trying it solo because of the many attacks you must thwart against the giant sages that are attempting to destroy the tainted crystals throughout the quest. Szyn’s paralyzing attacks work well here but she can’t be omnipotent and be in two places at once to guard the wizards.

I’ll post her attempt at tackling Epic Hard “Madstone Crater” sometime.

Epic Shuricannon: Nothing Comes Close

SzynTR1-L22I posted a demo run of the Shiradi Shuricannon at high Heroic levels to demonstrate the build’s basics.

As an Epic character, the ‘Cannon’s training in Shiradi, along with some ninja happiness, can be summed up in one phrase: Nothing comes close.

You can take that in both senses of the meaning.

The Shiradi effects, for those unfamiliar, add interesting elemental effects around 7% of the time that add area-of-effect and direct damage to targets using ranged attacks. It doesn’t matter what kind of ranged attack you use; even magic works (thus the popularity of the Shiradi Sorcerers).

Now, a 7% chance for an effect to go off (“proc”) doesn’t sound like much.

Well, then, you have to look at the Shuricannon’s basic design. Here’s a screenshot of Szyncletica’s character sheet (above).

Here you see that DEX is very, very heavy. That’s because DEX determines both damage and to-hit for a Ninja Spy. Also, the DEX is also the percentage of a second shuriken through from both Shuriken Expertise (granted as a Drow) and Advanced Ninja Training. As an Epic character, Szyn and her kind normally throw 2-3 stars per attack at the minimum with this ability.

The typical ranged feats (Rapid Shot, Quick Draw) also help thrown stars per second.

Ultimate Wind Stance adds 15% to that throwing speed.

And then, we add Shiradi’s Whirling Wrists: up to 60% increase to that throwing speed.

But wait, there’s more.

Use Spelltouched Shuriken for greater raw damage and additional crazy-random damage effects to go with Shiradi’s, and Green Steel for these special cases such as high-level demons and undead.

The result? Attack speed and damage so incredible that few things get close enough to hurt the Shuricannon before it mows them down.

Bonus training in Primal Avatar adds in Rejuvenation Cocoon for good self-healing and Shiradi’s Healing Spring for backup.

For burst damage, Ten Thousand Stars adds extra stars based on the WIS modifier.

I’ve soloed the Devil Battlefield quests except for Genesis Point (where I needed a hireling) to gain enough favor for Yugoloth (“Yugo”) potions. They give a +2 stacking stat bonus but with a tradeoff. Also available are DDO stat elixirs that do the same but without a tradeoff. That’s another +4 to essential stats if required for damage and defense (DEX/WIS).

The summation: The Epic Shuricannon, while perhaps having fewer types of versatility that a “Monkcher” might have, is perhaps the best thrown-weapon build anywhere. As Firewall, creator of the build, has argued time and again in his thread, while multiclassed builds using Halflings might get some benefits, they are offset by one thing or other that’s part of the Shuricannon’s success. You have to train in Shuriken proficiency and Expertise for non-Monk halflings. You lose the DEX to Damage effects, as well as the Drow’s shuriken competency training bonuses. The Drow/Monk spell resistance and Dodge is superior. Ninja Spy’s Shadow Veil adds high incorporeality and invisibility.

Multiclassing also means you lose a level 20 capstone. The Shuricannon’s capstone, as a pure Ninja Spy, is gaining Vorpal to any shuriken and other piercing and slashing ki weapons, as well as +2 DEX and (although still a nagging bug) increased critical threat range that should bring the crit range to as wide as 15-20.

To demonstrate, I’ve recorded two videos.

This first one is of Szyncletica managing the undead giant skeletons on the way to Garamol’s lair in the raid wilderness of the Subterrane. Fans of the blog know that Lynncletica, a Shintao tanker, is strong enough to farm this area, where no hirelings are allowed. But could a Ninja Spy, a class tree not designed with self-healing or undead attack proficiency do the same–and with only a throwing star? The answer comes from Szyn’s high DPS and one triple-positive Greater Disrupting shuriken that ends the CR 25 Garamol far faster than Lynncletica and with fewer resources expended.

The second video shows how Szyn handles a mob. A perfect place for this is the Underdark Arena challenge, “Fight to the Finish.” One ninja: one mob for 10 minutes or more–seems like a fair fight.

She owns a Level 20 Icy Bursting Improved Paralyzing star that halts most everything. Occasional hits of the Nerve Poison from Shiradi training and freezing from her Level 14 Frozen Tunic (still equipped on Epic) make for quite a dominating show. Improved Precise Shot ensures very heavy mob damage and crowd control. She uses a Onyx Panther to aid with aggro management a bit, healing it with Rejuvenation Cocoon as needed, but doesn’t rely on it.

I’ve directly uploaded these videos (trying once more to get the overall brightness correct with better success) for far better clarity, and am using Amara to add captioning, rather than using Windows Movie Mangler. Just click the CC button if you don’t see the captions on the Garamol run. The second video has no commentary: 1 movie = 1,000,000 words.

 

A Shuricannon Video

Szyn-Lailat

There are many fans of Firewall’s Shiradi Shuricannon, and I’m one of them.

Some skeptics posting in the thread asked if there were any video of the Shuricannon in action to see how the build worked.

Now there is. I’ve created a video of my then-L19 Szyncletica tearing through the Shavarath side of the Vale of Twilight and completing “Running with the Devils” on Hard difficulty.

“Devils” is actually nastier than other Shroud flagging quests and on par in difficulty with “Wrath of the Flame” from the Devil Battlefield. Why? Both quests have enemies that are Good-aligned with significant buffs and protections that thwart player weapons.

In the case of the Eladrin in this quest, they are superior enemies with Cold Iron damage reduction and are prolific spellcasters. If you don’t take their healers down fast, you’re going to get Divinely Punished for it.

Given the weapon limits of a Shuricannon, this seemed a short-enough quest to demo what it can do.

I note the ‘Cannon’s strengths, requirements, common equipment, weaknesses and rationale throughout the video. My primary weapon is a Green Steel Mineral II star to bypass the Eladrin and devil DR without issue. Even with the bug that caused Sting of the Ninja to stop working on shuriken with Update 21, Szyncletica still controls the dungeon.

Very shortly after this run, Szyn reached level 20. She reactivated her Shiradi Champion and Primal Avatar destinies, entered “Blown to Bits” on Hard difficulty and tore everything apart on a pure solo run. I took down the Fire Iron Golem optional boss faster than with any character I have as I could continually attack him without having to concern myself about his det-packs.

If you have any questions on the video, just comment. I’ll be linking this post to the Shuricannon thread as well, where you should post for specific questions on the build itself with his creator.

(I apologize for the video’s darkness. I did find a tweaking setting on YouTube that should make the video much clearer to see.)

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