Friday, September 02, 2016

Path of Exile: Fire and Ice

Many leagues ago Sceadeau and I created characters to level up together. He wanted to test out a unique jewel which increased fireball's radius by what sounded like a ludicrous amount. I wanted to test out using freezing pulse and projectile speed to permanently freeze bosses. Both ended up working out pretty well, and it was a lot of fun to play them.

Apparently there's a new Path of Exile league starting today, and Sceadeau sent me the following snipit from the patch notes.

Fireball: 50% more damage. Ice Spear: 70% more damage.

Ice spear is a different spell than glacial spike but it would probably work about the same in practice and 70% is a really big number. PoE has a history of overbuffing things when they buff them, so I wouldn't be surprised if both of these spells end up being really good. Also the game has a much higher power level now than it did back when we last did this, because of the whole ascendancy system.

So I think we're going to go back to Path of Exile for a while... I really like the game because it simply has so many different ways to play it. It often gets compared to Diablo III and I like PoE a lot more, especially when playing with other people, because the game feels so different when running with different builds.

Now there are two things to figure out... How exactly does ice spear work, and what ascendancy class do I want to use with it?

Ice spear is a spell with 2 stages. The first stage has 100% pierce chance, so it's useful for clearing out packs of dudes who are nearby. After it travels a set distance it switches to the second stage where it no longer pierces but has a 600% increased chance to crit. Considering the spell has a base crit chance of 7% this means the end portion will crit almost half the time without any other investment. Ice spear also has an increased modifier to chill duration, but not to freeze. So it probably isn't as good for perma-freezing things... Except crits also freeze, and this crits a lot, so maybe it still works. Chilling things is still good, especially if you have other abilities that get better on monsters that have an elemental debuff on them.

The first thing this brings to mind is the Inquisitor ascendancy for the Templar. One of the points in that tree is 100% increased crit chance against enemies with no elemental status ailment, and 45% to crit multiplier against enemies with an elemental status ailment. If Sceadeau hits the enemy first it'll have a fire debuff on it most likely, and enemies that I hit a second time will certainly have a debuff from the first hit. So that's already pretty strong. The big point behind that node says your crits ignore elemental resistances and your non-crits penetrate 10% elemental resistances...

Penetrating elemental resistance is a _huge_ deal. The best nodes in the tree for casters in my experience have always been the ones that penetrate resists. I've always supported my spells with resist penetration. So completely ignoring resistances sounds incredibly good. It would have the downside of not being able to use a good support gem or take some good nodes in the tree, but I can adapt to other things.

One other thing that immediately leaped to mind is the node elemental equilibrium. It makes it so enemies you hit get 25% resistance to your element and lose 50% resistance to the other elements. If I'm playing with Sceadeau, and he's casting fireballs, then this node would drastically amplify his damage while only hurting my damage some of the time. This feels really good, but would require putting a huge focus on extra crit chance. And I hate relying on feelings... Let's look at some math!

These numbers assume I crit 75% of the time for triple damage and that both Sceadeau and I would be running 34% penetration unless I'm an inquisitor in which case I have none and he still has 34%.

Mob Resist Sceadeau EE gain Inq gain EE gain EE gain w/ Inq
0 37% -25% -19% -2%
25 46% -10% -23% -3%
50 60% 14% -30% -3%
75 85% 58% 0% 0%
100 42% 58% 0% 0%

What we see here is that my picking up EE boosts Sceadeau's damage by anywhere between 37% and 85%. This is a more multiplier and is an incredibly big deal. Even with nothing special going on, EE would only cost me 19% to 30% of my damage, so overall as a team we'd be doing better if I took EE even with no mitigating circumstances. Inquisitor by itself actually hurts at low levels of mob resist because I won't have the penetration to drive the enemies into negative resists. I will have an extra support gem and other tree nodes, so that's going to be fine, and I'm pretty sure mobs with no resistances aren't going to be a concern one way or the other. Inquisitor is a 58% more damage buff at high levels of monster resist which is insane. Marauders have to take 10% extra damage to unlock their 40% more damage point! I just get it for free! Of course, it's only this high because my spell of choice has 42% extra crit chance on it, and this all assumes I'm cracking hard enemies with the sweet spot...

The best thing, though, is when I compare Inquisitor to Inquisitor with elemental equilibrium. I lose somewhere between 2 and 3% of my damage at low monster resist levels to give Sceadeau a huge boost. I think I'm pretty ok with that.

So assuming Sceadeau isn't also going Inquisitor I am definitely going to try it out, and will take EE to boost his damage by a ton.

Time to play around with the tree tool to see how much extra crit chance and multiplier I can actually pick up...