This guide is in the process of being rewritten for M2017.
With the exception of the hardest Ubers and an ultimate end-game gear setup, most of this guide is now up-to-date. Uber strategies are being updated as I complete them and an interim end-game gear setup is listed until that section is finalized. Since this guide is a work-in-progress, skillplans, gear, and strategies can still change at any time.
Thanks for your patience.
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Early Game - Mid-Game - End-Game - Uberquests - Challenges - Minigames - Crafting - Gameplay Tips
The Melee Sorceress relies on her speed and versatility in both close-quarters and medium-ranged combat to take down her enemies while still being tough enough to stand against the strongest foes. But while she can achieve high defensive stats with the right build, a Melee Sorc is not a tank. Instead, she lets her minions do the tanking while she uses the good old "hit-and-run" strategy. Outmanoeuvre, outflank, hit, retreat and repeat. These are the keys to a Melee Sorc's success.
Though this guide is written for beginners, a Melee Sorc isn't the easiest build to play. She's heavily reliant on gear and lacks the necessary Life bonuses to be able to simply rush into a mob blindly and come out of it alive. Many people get frustrated once they hit Destruction and start doing early Ubers because they can't just faceroll the content anymore. A Melee Sorc isn't about facerolling the game and 1-shotting Ubers, it's about finding innovative ways to overcome challenges with an underpowered build nobody expects much from.
For this guide, you'll be using two specs: a Lightning/Ice spec for early and mid-game, then a Fire/Lightning spec for end-game. Lightning/Ice will give you superior defense and an army of summons, which will help with survivability in both the regular game and during early Uberquests. By the beginning of end-game, you'll have good enough gear and Charms to achieve max block, which makes high defense and an army of summons less important. So you'll switch to a Fire/Lightning spec for the innate life regen and higher damage potential.
It's important to note: this guide demonstrates only one way to build a Melee Sorc. There are a number of gear combinations and skill plans that can achieve similar--or better--results, but since this is a beginner's guide (and because I hate farming), it will focus on doing things as cheaply as possible. Once you're familiar with a Melee Sorc's playstyle, strengths, and weaknesses, I encourage you to deviate from this guide and experiment with your own gear and skill combinations.
1. I make no claims as to the originality of this build, nor to the ideas and strategies contained in this guide.
2. Because this is a Melee Sorc, caster respecs will not be used, even if using a caster spec would be easier for completing certain tasks.
3. This guide was written around the base M2017-003.1 patch (i.e. Single Player). As such, MP-specific cheese such as abusing rejoin and TP holding will never be listed as viable strategies anywhere in this guide. Also note: since circumstances on the Realm can change from Season to Season, gameplay adjustments may be necessary if playing TSW. In other words: adapt, or die.
4. Please consult Median XL's Official Documentation for more in-depth information and to get a better understanding of the game's mechanics.
PROS AND CONS
- Can complete every Uber.
- Doesn't need expensive gear.
- Minimal farming required.
- Doesn't need to grind to clvl 121.
- Many gear/skill combo possibilities.
- She's a fking Melee Sorceress.
- Low damage compared to other melee-centric Classes.
- Not as tanky as other melee-centric Classes.
- Not a farmer.
STR - Enough for gear
DEX - Everything else
VIT - None
NRG - None
Warp Armor, Baneblade – SMax
Moonstrike - 30 Points
Fusillade – 26 points
Familiar, Wraithsword, Bladestorm, Blade Spirits, Symbol of Esu, Nova Charge, Firedance – 1 point
Living Flame – All remaining points
Increases max life and damage dealt for a short time. Keep this active at all times whenever in combat.
Short to mid-range attack. Deals pure Physical damage. Suited for close-quarters combat with dense mobs, Magic Immunes, and times when tanking to sustain Life resources is necessary. Best paired with the Life Leech mod.
Trap-like skill that fires linear streams of blades at nearby targets. More base points reduces it's seek range (meaning you'll need to use it closer to the target), but it also reduces it's cooldown period. In crowded areas, it will attack a single target until it's dead before seeking another. For this reason, it's best used against single targets, as a source of supplemental damage in crowds, and for enemies you don't want to engage in melee.
Summon Blade Spirits
About as simple a summon as can be had. These ghostly floating swords won't provide any buffs, but they're remarkably tough. They will be your tanks.
Mid to long-range attack that converts nearly all Physical damage dealt to Magic damage. Suited for general gameplay. Best paired with the Life on Attack mod.
Passive that grants percentage-based max life (will not exceed 25%) and flat defense bonuses. Only affected by base points, not soft points from +skills gear.
Summon Ice Elementals
Adorable little snowballs meant as a support summon. They emit a Frost Armor aura that gives a 150% defense boost and 15% DR. They're squishier than Blade Spirits, so they'll need to be resummoned fairly often.
Used as a synergy for Ice Elementals, granting them a larger overall life boost than putting points into the Ice Elementals skill itself, and without the extra mana cost per summoning.
Defensive skill that grants %TCD and Avoid. Both base and soft points increase its %TCD bonus, but with every 2 base points invested, an extra 1% chance to avoid damage is gained.
Periodically emits a lightning nova. The main reason for putting a point here is for the 25% base DEX added to NRG, which will all but eliminate any mana problems.
Passive that provides a flat life boost as well as an innate source of life regen. This skill works on the principle of increasing returns (i.e. becoming more effective with more base points).
Buff that increases both physical weapon damage and elemental damage (i.e. proc damage) to all allies while inside the fire circle.
Familiars are untargetable, can only be killed by reflected damage, and their attacks stun their targets. They also have the Zann Esu's Rite aura, which grants 15% FCR, a 25% bonus to NRG, and a +1 skill level boost for every four base points, as well as an extra cat for every 5 base points.
]Buff that provides velocity, damage, and defense boosts, as well as a skill-based source of Life on Attack and Increased Chance to Block. It does come at a cost, locking out nearly every other skill that's not a dedicated melee or summon skill.
Symbol of Esu
Ennead Challenge reward skill. It allows for the creation of an infinite number of Moon Symbols (aka moon cookies), which are used just like potions to restore a flat amount of life instantly. But unlike Healing Potions, they don't remove Poison effects.
WRAITHSWORD vs. BLADESTORM
The following is a more in-depth look at how Wraithsword and Bladestorm function for the purposes of this guide specifically:
Early on, Wraithsword is a superior close-quarters attack. It does more damage and gets bigger buffs from Moonstrike and %EWD. It also doesn't suffer from Next Delay like Bladestorm does. However, later on when Crushing Blow is added to the mix, Bladestorm eventually surpasses Wraithsword in killspeed simply for it's potential to deliver more CBs more often--even against single targets and despite ND. That said, it doesn't mean Wraithsword is useless later on. Aside from being better at dealing with Magic Immunes, CB's effectiveness quickly diminishes as a monster loses life. This means, when engaging a single target with a large life pool (such as a Boss), a Moonstrike-empowered Wraithsword will eventually start killing the target faster than Bladestorm once that target's health falls below a certain point. Also, Wraithsword can take full advantage of both LoA/MoA and LL/ML, whereas Bladestorm suffers stiff penalties to LL/ML due to its high Magic damage conversion.
10/37/92 (5 fpa) - Crystal Sword (-20 WSM)
6/23/56/129 (5 fpa) - Warp Blade (-10 WSM)
3/7/13/20/32/48/75/129/280 (4 fpa)
5/11/20/35/60/109/280 (3 fpa)
6/19/42/83/194 (5 fpa) - Staff
8/22/42/78/157 (6 fpa) - Crystal Sword/Warp Blade
Source: Speed Calculator v. 1.2 by Terryys.
CHANCE TO BLOCK
Sorcs have an innate +3% CtB. With Baneblade active, their innate CtB increases to +4%. The following values will give the total DEX needed per additional CtB from shields to achieve Max Block (75%). They will assume a clvl 120 Sorc with Baneblade active.
+2% CtB = 3015 DEX
+1% CtB = 3615 DEX
+0% CtB = 4515 DEX
Mercs aren't necessary for this build, but it's still recommended you have one, especially early on. They can be extremely helpful in many situations, such as farming TA and clearing T-Cows/D-Cows. I find Act 1 Rogue Sisters and Act 3 Iron Wolves the most useful for a Melee Sorc due to their ranged attacks and tendency to stay out of the way.
Ranger (Offense) - Physical-based ranged attacker. Has higher damage potential thanks to War Spirit (%CB).
Priestess (Support) - Physical/Magic-based ranged attacker. Uses Tremor to reduce enemy life. Curses enemies with Vindicate, which heals you when you kill a cursed enemy.
Abjurer (Offense) - Lightning and Physical/Magic-based caster. Uses Banish to reduce enemy life.
Bloodmage (Support) - Fire and Poison-based caster. Uses Gift of Inner Fire to instaheal the entire party.
Mercs inherit both your %GF and %MF, on top of any they get from gear, as long as they get the kill. They also benefit from the +Skills mod found on gear.
A more comprehensive Merc section will be added later.
SUMMONED MINION RESISTANCES
Summons have innate resistances, gaining 15% per Skill Point (Base Points aren't necessary) up to their natural cap of 75%. They also suffer from the same resistance penalties you do in later difficulties. While the +Summoned Minion Resistances mod can bring them back up to their cap, summons can't utilize more than +75% additional resistances from gear/Charms/MOs, nor can their resistances be increased beyond the 75% cap.
The following values list the Summoned Minion Resistance penalty per Difficulty, as well as how much +minion res is needed to reach the cap. They will assume at least 5 Skill Points into a summon skill.
Hatred (+/-0% Res Penalty)
75% innate resistances. No additional Summoned Minion Resistances are necessary.
Terror (-50% Res Penalty)
25% innate resistances. +50% Summoned Minion Resistances is needed to cap.
Destruction (-100% Res Penalty)
-25% innate resistances. +75 Summoned Minion Resistances is needed to cap, giving them 50% resistances.
h/t Suchbalance for clarifying this.
ACRONYMS AND TERMINOLOGY
Core Gear: TU Warp Blade and TU Ceremonial Armor
Objectives: Level Challenge 1, Ennead Challenge, Level Challenge 2
Core Gear: Crafted Warp Blade, Crafted Sorc armor, Crafted Shield
Objectives: Black Road Challenge, "easy" Uberquests, Destruction Baal
Spec: Lightning/Ice, switching to Fire/Lightning
Core Gear (WIP): Sway of the Stars, Hellfire Plate, Crafted Spiked Shield, Nero
Objectives: All remaining Uberquests