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.
Thanks for your patience.
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Early Game - Mid-Game - End-Game - Uberquests - Challenges - Minigames
The Melee Sorceress relies on speed and versatility to take down her enemies while still being tough enough to stand against the strongest foes. But while she can achieve high defensive stats, a Melee Sorc is not a tank. She lacks the necessary Life bonuses to be able to simply rush into a mob blindly and come out of it alive. 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.
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.
A MELEE SORC:
WHAT SHE IS, AND WHAT SHE ISN'T
Some may think a Melee Sorc is basically a Barbarian or Paladin, just with bigger...dreams. Well, that's partially correct. But though her dreams may be big, her melee skillset simply can't compare to that of a Barb or Pally. After all, those classes are supposed to be melee; a Sorc isn't. With melee-centric classes, almost their entire skillsets are geared toward survivability in melee combat. They can do crazy damage while facetanking mobs, even with junk gear, because it's their nature to do so. But just ask anyone who's tried a Caster Barb how well they did. Chances are, they didn't do well.
So it is with a Melee Sorc. Just like with a Caster Barb, you're playing her against her nature, trying to do the best you can with what you have. For this reason, a Melee Sorc isn't the easiest build to play. She's heavily reliant on gear to make up for her shortcomings, and 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 a build nobody expects much from.
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. Since circumstances on the Realm can change from Season to Season, this guide is written around the base M2017-003.1 patch (i.e. Single Player). Be aware, if playing TSW, gameplay adjustments may be necessary. 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.
STR - Enough for gear
DEX - Enough for Max Block
VIT - None
NRG - Everything else
FINAL SKILLS - WIP
Moonstrike, Living Flame, Warp Armor, Baneblade – SMax
Fusillade – 9 points
Familiar, Wraithsword, Bladestorm, Firedance, Nova Charge, Symbol of Esu – 1 point
Blade Spirits – 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.
Total DEX per +%CtB Needed for Max Block (75%):
+3% CtB = 3015 DEX
+2% CtB =
+1% CtB =
Mercs aren't necessary for this build, but in certain situations (such as farming and clearing T-Cows/D-Cows), they can be extremely helpful. 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 up to their natural cap of 75%. Base Points aren't necessary to increase their innate resistances. The +Skills/+Sorc Skills mods found on gear/Charms will work fine. 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.
Summoned Minion Resistance Breakdown per Difficulty (assuming at least 5 Skill Points into a Summon skill):
75% innate resistances. No additional Summoned Minion Resistances are necessary.
25% innate resistances. +50% Summoned Minion Resistances is needed to cap.
-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 (WIP)
Core Gear: TBA
Objectives: All remaining Uberquests
BUILD (WIP - Currently Testing)
GEAR (WIP - Currently Testing)
GAMEPLAY (WIP - Currently Testing)