Patriarch Bruce – Shapeshifting Druid Indeed

ffs

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Mar 13, 2020
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Hi SPF! Been somewhat inactive since RFL, but I've been playing a bit the last couple of days, in particular this guy.

He is the sixth completed character in this sept – a consortium of weird builds with some funky gear found exclusively by my three untwinked 99ers (Sorc, Necro and Paladin). It was a fun restriction when starting this over 2 years ago, but after three 99ers it admittedly means a similar amount of gear to choose from as for any other twinked character. :)

Anyhow, the goal with this Druid was to make use of a high roll Earth Shifter, and to go for a Fire/Summon hybrid build – which was part of what he did, but as the title suggests he underwent several transformations. I figured it's a shapeshifting class after all. :D

Let's start with the obligatory Pat screenshot:

Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 18.00.17.png

LCS shortly before:

Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 17.40.50.png

Gear when making Patriarch:
Code:
Earth Shifter 'Shael' (291 ED) (7 FPA Fury)
Jalal's (200 ED)
Highlord's
CoH Scarab Husk
Dracul's
String of Ears
Gore Rider
Ravenfroat
Dual leech/str/res rare ring

Switch: +6 BO CtA + Lidless
Merc (Might): Infinity, eth bugged Fortitude, Andy's
Inventory: 6 Shapeshifting skillers, various resist/life/str SCs

Build: 20 Firestorm, 20 Fissure, 20 Volcano, 20 Fury, 1 Lycynthropy, 1 each pre-reqs, rest Oak Sage

Now for his experimental journey:

A1 NORMAL TO A4 NIGHTMARE
STANDARD FISSURE DRUID
He started out with Envy jeweled gear until his Fire skills dealt meaningful damage. From then on it was a the typical facerolling which Fire based casters enjoy all the way through to the end of NM – Fissure just ripped through everything on P8. He equipped the typical caster twinking options, starting out with things like Stealth, Eye of Etlich and Wall of the Eyeless, and as soon as he was able to: Spirit, dual SoJ, Lore, Lidless, Hoto. At level 42 he added a full backpack of Elemental skillers. Overall it felt really too easy, but I guess that's often the case.

A5 NIGHTMARE
This is where things got interesting. First, he leveled to 65 doing Eldritch and Pindle runs and later to 74 to equip Ravenlore. Knowing Hell would not be much fun with a pure Fire build, this is where I started to try out various Druid builds that I've been meaning to check out for a while.

HUNTER BUILD WITH FAITH
While using Earth Shifter was a definite goal, this would have required a respec, so I figured I'd go for that as his main build in Hell. Just utilizing his unspent stat/skill points, the next thing on his to do list was using Faith to go for a "Hunter" build, using summons, Faith and Fire skills.

Gear used for this build:
2/14 Faith Diamond Bow
Ravenlore (-18 EFR, [email protected]), unsocketed
+2 Elemental/5 FCR/[email protected] craft amulet
CoH
Magefist
Razortail (nice choice for this IMO)
Raven
SoJ
Waterwalk

Merc: Infinity, Tal's, Treachery
8 Elemental skillers in inventory

This was surprisingly fun, at least in NM where FIs occur sporadically, so focusing them down with arrows between Fissure casts actually improved his clear speed. The slightly lower Fissure damage was not noticeable at all to be honest. He quickly finished NM with this setup and ventured into Hell at lvl 74.

A1 HELL
I was a little bold and started A1 Hell on P8 as well. Naturally, it didn't take until the rather low physical damage from Faith (~1.5k per arrow or so IIRC), and the damage output of his entourage/summons was starting to be less and less significant as well. He nonetheless finished A1 with the above build, turning it down to P5 or P3 in areas with FIs.

A2-A5 HELL
Upon entering A2 I figured that it was time to switch to the Earth Shifter build. Don't get me wrong, the Faith + Fire build is completely Hell viable IMO, at least on lower player settings, but it was time for him to switch it up.

EARTH SHIFTER HYBRID BUILD
So I used his first quest respec, went for the build mentioned at the beginning, and started swinging with his big toy:

Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 18.38.26.png

This was the first time I used Earth Shifter, and it was really fun trying to find my way making the most of its "contradictory" stats.

First, in case you're not aware, there is this great guide on a Fury Druid with Earth Shifter. However, there were a few things I wanted to do differently:
  • To my liking at least, just using Fury wouldn't have made enough use of the massive boost of +7 to the Elemental skill tree.
  • Armageddon is rather underwhelming, I didn't want to max it "just because I can", i.e. being able to cast it in Wolf form.
  • There are certainly many situations where Fury is the go-to choice with this weapon, in particular FIs, as well as other stationary or single targets. However, against large groups of non-FIs – which is not uncommon at all even in Hell – just casting a high level Fissure is of course much stronger.
  • So I figured I'd rather max Fissure as well, and morph back and forth between wolf and human form depending on the situation.
With that playstyle in mind, the next question was gear. As for how I arrived at the gear listed in the beginning, it was basically all about trying to use gear that benefit both his casting and his melee prowess (while not necessarily being ideal for either individually). Jalal's was a perfect fit. Doesn't boost physical damage as much as e.g. GFace, but still adds helpful melee stats like bonus AR, + skills (which Fury actually benefits from) , FHR, and resists. Caster side also makes use of the +2 skills, resists as well as MPK. Since I was using Infinity Merc, the MPK pretty much solved his casting mana management. Similar thing for Drac's. The LPK helped both sides (melee and casting), and without Reaper's the Life Tap was very welcome when in melee, making things comfortable not just for the Druid but also Merc and summons.

He was pretty much played with that playstyle through to A5 Hell, and managed to Pat without any deaths! (This is unusal for me. :)) The approach worked out nicely really, shifting back and forth depending on whether I felt going melee with Fury or casting Fissure was better suited to handle the respective situation. There weren't many situations where he struggled at all, and those instances were usually due to me playing at P5 or P8 here and there. On P3 it was all fine and dandy.

DROPS
His finds during questing:
HF NM: Pul
HF Hell: Lum

Other finds included 3 skillers:

Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 10.39.20.png

Something useful even (he was using a perfect 200 ED one though):

Screenshot 2020-08-01 at 12.38.54.pngScreenshot 2020-08-01 at 16.00.18.png

Best drop:

Screenshot 2020-07-31 at 22.26.08.png

BONUS ROUND:
STORMLASH TORNADO CtC BUILD

After Pat'ing, there was one more build I wanted to try: Stormlash with synergized Tornado CtC. Setup here was this:
Code:
Stormlash 'Shael' (5 FPA Fury)
Jalal's (unsocketed)
CoH
Stormshield (unsocketed)
Dracul's
SoE
HLW
Raven
Rare dual leech
WT

Merc (Might): Reaper, Fortitude, Andy
Inventory: Steel + Sharp GCs
Build: 20 Hurricane, Cyclone Armor, Twister, Fury, pre-reqs, rest Oak

This is still his current build and gear, and interesting gameplay as well. I'd say the Earth Shifter variant was a little stronger, just because raw physical damage was higher and Tornadoes don't really do THAT much to be honest. They're not completely uselss either though, and Static + CB from Lash makes this approach worthwhile on its own. Stormshield is superb for safety, however I do wonder how he would fare with Phoenix – he was not allowed to use it though, as none of my untwinked 99ers ever made one. Apart from making use of the +350-400% off-weapon ED, he could also dump points into Firestorm synergies for even more CtC extravaganza. Hope I'll get around to checking that out one day.

Anyway, thanks for reading! Beginning to feel a little D2 itch again, so might very well be around for MFO – if so, I got a few ideas up my sleeve, so beware... :D
 
Mar 16, 2020
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Awesome stuff, @ffs! I'm not sure if I've seen another Earth Shifter druid focus on utilizing Fissure and switching in and out of wereform. It looks like it worked out extrememly well for you. I also like each of the three builds you tried out for him in hell difficulty.

Ravenfroat

I see this is still a thing. :ROFLMAO:
 
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PhineasB

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Mar 14, 2020
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Nice Pat! I had actually thought on giving something like the Earthshifter build above a shot if I ever build another Druid. I finally found one and figured that I ought to use it. Very interesting to see the experience and gear thoughts. Thanks for writing it up!
 
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Swamigoon

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Apr 18, 2020
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Thanks for the great Patriarch report, ffs! I have never found an Earth Shifter, but if I had I think it would have been a fun puzzle to play with.
 
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saracen85

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May 1, 2020
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Congrats! Actually completed the same 2 builds quite some time ago as well! (1st few builds on my restart)
Agree that Earthshifter version is way more powerful, though I had Armageddon (works so well with wolf's mobility imo).
No FI/PIs (I see that you're not using Reapers..)? Lucky!!! I took 20++ minutes killing Lister :ROFLMAO:
 
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ffs

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Mar 13, 2020
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I see this is still a thing. :ROFLMAO:
I hope so. ;)

No FI/PIs (I see that you're not using Reapers..)? Lucky!!! I took 20++ minutes killing Lister :ROFLMAO:
There were a few FI/PIs in Hell, a Moonlord here and there... I just skipped them tbh. Lister didn't roll PI/FI, but I should have mentioned that was probably his toughest fight, without Reaper's and his elemental skills being pretty much useless.