Skill census/analysis of the SPF Mat/Pat/Guardian build compilation

Serdash

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Jul 22, 2020
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Inner Sight was maxed on my BotD Tankazon. It was seriously way better than having to stack on excessive attack rating boost into my gear. It also opened up not needing a blessed aim mercenary in favor of a might one to boost damage. One of the Amazon's most underrated skills imo
 

Swamigoon

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Dodge, Avoid, and Evade

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Most Amazon players use these merely as prerequisites for Valkyrie. Diminishing returns also diminish incentives to keep investing more in them. Nevertheless, I did find three M/Gs that tried to max one or more of these defensive passive skills.

@TopHatCat64 tried to max both Dodge and Avoid while building Matriarch Marzipan, a "fuzzy dodger." The write-up uses the phrase "doing the Wile E." to describe how this combination lamentably rendered the character unable to attack and simultaneously unable to run away when surrounded. After a respec and placing only a few points in Dodge and Avoid, Marzipan performed much better.

Yisselda, one of @maxicek 's many "two-handed-sword" users, succeeded with 20 points invested in Dodge.

@Drystan put the maximum twenty points into all three of these skills for Guardian Parthenia. Battles with this heroine required quite a bit of Drystan's patience. A summoned Valkyrie gets the same benefits from D/A/E as the character, and these made Parthenia's Valkyrie very difficult to eliminate. Summary: " Not the most fun or active character, but I did want to try a Passivezon."

One more notable write-up: @Insane Wayne 's legendary adventures with Alkithoe. You need to dig five pages deep into that thread to get to a Photobucket screenshot link of all of her skills investments. I want to highlight two of I. W.'s anticlimactic comments about Alkithoe's skills:
  • "Heavily diminishing returns on the D/A/E, but every point helps."
  • "A beefed-up valk is the most powerful tank in the game. Very few mobs can kill her."
 
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intersilva

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Jun 5, 2020
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I also maxed IS on a Baranar's-wielding Meleezon, sadly she's been lost to the entropy of hard drive failure. I found it made a big difference for the whole squad, but her especially. I ought to make another, she was lots of fun and way more powerful than I ever would've expected.
 
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skiffcz

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Reading through this thread feels like when the T-800 found the weapons stash assembled by Sarah Connor. Slowly picking them up, one by one, satisfied smile gradually building and finally uttering a single word.

"Excellent"

Keep em comming! <3
 
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Swamigoon

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@Serdash and @intersilva , I vageuly remember experimenting with a heavy Inner Sight investment on a realm character a long time ago, probably about 15 years ago now. Ever since I forsake b.net for the much more enjoyable single player experience, I haven't paid much attention to that skill. I should, though.

Almost ten years ago, the 1.13 patch arrived with a few synergy updates. I remember thinking to myself that it might have been interesting to have Inner Sight and Slow MIssiles synergize each other. For example, points in each could have increased the others' spell duration, similar to the way the Barbarian's Shout/BO/BC skills synergize each others' durations. I wonder whether that would have been sufficient incentive to see more players choose to invest more points in those two spells.

I had another question about Valkyrie: if your Amazon has no skill points at all in Valkyrie, but uses both a Peace runeworded body armor and a Harmony runeworded weapon, does the "proc" Valkyrie minion evaporate shortly after getting summoned, or does it stick around and fight? (I haven't tried this. I play vanilla, without the RWM that enables runewords like Harmony.)
 
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Serdash

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Jul 22, 2020
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@Serdash and @intersilva , I vageuly remember experimenting with a heavy Inner Sight investment on a realm character a long time ago, probably about 15 years ago now. Ever since I forsake b.net for the much more enjoyable single player experience, I haven't paid much attention to that skill. I should, though.

Almost ten years ago, the 1.13 patch arrived with a few synergy updates. I remember thinking to myself that it might have been interesting to have Inner Sight and Slow MIssiles synergize each other. For example, points in each could have increased the others' spell duration, similar to the way the Barbarian's Shout/BO/BC skills synergize each others' durations. I wonder whether that would have been sufficient incentive to see more players choose to invest more points in those two spells.
Honestly the duration of inner Sight is perfectly fine, and it has a dirt cheap Mana cost to boot so it's not awful to recast.
 
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Swamigoon

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The final P&M column holds the offensive passive skills.

Critical Strike

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Diminishing returns from higher skill point investments in Critical Strike has not deterred 21 M/Gs from maxing the skill. Many of the Fendazons maxed this skill, such as Naab's Mari and sirpoopsalot's NoName. So did some strafers, including nermind's amaXII, Arkardo's Welgoedmikkenhe, and scrcw's Instagib. As you might expect, so did several single-tree P&M 'zons; Honey by Grape maxed Critical Strike after a respec, during a two-day-race to matriarch that was fun to read about.

Penetrate

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Lots of matriarchs and guardians boosted their attack ratings with this skill. Too many favorites here, but I think I'll spotlight VoX Dei's Atalanta "the Berzerkzon." She's a worthwhile demonstration of maxed Penetrate: nothing but P&M tree skills, maxed Valkyrie taking advantage of Penetrate as a synergy, high damage by building strength instead of vitality, gear with IAS to accelerate spear attacks, and the 0skill that wipes out defense - all combine for an intruguing "gotta hit them before they hit me!" playstyle.

Just be careful to remember that the Blessed Aim aura interferes with this skill, so don't hire an offensive mercenary from normal or hell act 2 if you choose to invest points in Penetrate.

Pierce

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It's possible to achieve 100% chance to pierce from gear, so different players' will have different investments in Pierce, depending on equipped items.

Some strafers that maximized Pierce: Bendis by @nebux , Gilraen by MuddyWaters, and DoYouLikeMyHair by Crazy Runner Guy. (With a name like that, you would think that CRG's Amazon wears a pretty tiara or diadem, but no - she is a medusa build, and hides her golden ponytail behind a Blackhorn's Face!)

Alys by Hector was a multiple-shot specialist that maxed all three offensive passive skills. Money quote: "yes I know of diminishing returns but I wanted pure offense themed char!"

A recent 99er has 20 points in Pierce, none other than @PhineasB 's lightning javelin tosser, Quinta.

The next post will be about the cold skills in the B&X skill tree. Thanks again for all of your comments and participation! - Swamigoon
 

Swamigoon

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Cold Arrow

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It appears that this skill has always been used either as a prerequisite or as a synergy to increase Freezing Arrow's damage.

If there was a character that appeared to have used Cold Arrow as a late game skill, I didn't find it. This might be a fun "Cold Rogue wannabe" challenge, to max Cold Arrow (and its synergy), and try to defeat Hell difficulty Ball with it.

Ice Arrow

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Three uses for Ice Arrow: actaully use it to damage and briefly freeze an individual foe, put a point in it to increase Cold Arrow's damage, or put a point in it to increase Freezing Arrow's freeze duration by a frame or two. (Um, well, in Hell difficulty, it lengthens FA's freeze time by slightly less than one animation frame!) :rolleyes:

Glacier by @PhineasB maxed all three Amazon cold skills in a bid to get the highest possible effects out of her 'Ice' runeword bow.

(There was also a report of maxed Ice Arrow in @Russell.s write-up for Guardian Dosmingo, but to be honest, it seemed like a typo or honest mistake. Like most of the other "Fishyzon" variants in the compilation, I suspect it's more likely that Dosmingo actually maxed Cold Arrow for its FA damage synergy, rather than Ice Arrow for it's minuscule freeze duration synergy. Nevertheless, that's merely a minor quibble - it was still rather exciting to read about Dosmingo's epic battle against the Ancients.)

Freezing Arrow

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The most powerful Amazon cold skill turns out to be the most popular bow/crossbow skill in the compilation. I've been stashing all of the "cold damage" small charms identified so far. The write-ups all seem to agree that those charms are way better than the Ice Arrow synergy for pumping up this skill's freeze duration, so I look forward to trying them out as "twinkie charms" on a Freezing Arrow Amazon someday.

I guess the guardian I choose to highlight here is actually the one that didn't quite max the skill before achieving guardian status. When building another Fishyzon variant with ElJuago, HP_Sauce put some points in Valkyrie, and then kept Charged Strike and Freezing Arrow "evenly powered" as she progressed through the game. By the time Hell Ball went down, those two skills were both still two levels shy of getting maxed!
 

Swamigoon

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Magic Arrow

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I like this skill for the unlimited ammunition; the little bit of extra magic damage is nice too. But like many of the other Amazon attack skills, Magic Arrow doesn't improve attack rating (even though the game claims otherwise). If you're lucky enough to find and equip one, the unique Witchwild String bow automatically transforms the normal attack of any character of any class into a skill level 20 magic arrow attack.

A few players pumped up this skill to use it for a backup attack. For Guardian Atropos, Mursilis used Freezing Arrow as her primary attack, and put thirteen points into Magic Arrow to use against cold immunes. That happens to be the minimum investment necessary to bring its mana cost down to zero without any +skills equipment or charms. Matriarch Tika by pharoah also used MA as her backup skill to FA.

Cormallon's Janina maxed MA to use with Multi-shot. @PhineasB 's Striker, @Corax 's Quoththeraven, VoX Dei's Elunamara, and esd's Artemis each maxed MA as a backup for Strafe. (Artemis is one of the oldest matriarch's in the collection, posted 16 years ago!)

Jason Maher had two matriarchs that attacked using Magic Arrow exclusively: Birgitte and Ursula.

Multiple Shot

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Higher skill levels spray more missiles, but do so at higher mana costs. That makes this another skill for which different players will have different opinions for their "sweet spot" skill level, balancing area-of-effect and mana cost with equipment mods such as "mana stolen per hit." Carefully and properly aiming the volley is still important, because many equipment mods (such as crushing blow) only trigger on the two centrally aimed arrows in the middle of the spray.

Note that a few of the M/Gs didn't invest all 20 "hard points" into Multiple Shot, yet still effectively "maxed" it, by using +skills equipment (or even skill shrines or Battle Command) to get the effective skill level up to 23. This is because the maximum number of arrows in a volley can't exceed 24, so having an effective skill level of 24 or beyond is actually detrimental - it just makes an attack cost more mana without providing any additional benefit.

Nevertheless, there were a handful of Amazons that put all 20 points into Multiple Shot, giving them freedom to take advantage of gear with other useful mods (instead of +skills) to succeed: Solar Ice's Danielle, Ugla's Azalea, nermind's amaXII, and @Pb_pal 's Mallorn.

(Coming soon: observations of Guided Arrow and Strafe.)
 

Swamigoon

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Guided Arrow

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Guided arrows always hit and never pierce. Isn't it strange to have a bow skill that gets no benefits whatsoever from Penetrate and Pierce? I really enjoyed this skill when I tried it many years ago.

RobbyD made three max-GA matriarchs: Blitzkrieg, Wendeh and WildBetty. Several other Matriarchs featured GA as their chosen boss killer skill. Among them, @TopHatCat64 's Tilafaiga, Jason Maher's Rhiannon, TheNix's KaySarahSara and ps2v12's Alannah are intereresting reads. However, I think my favorite GA read was the one about Guardian Ruby. If any skill can compensate for a malfunctioning mouse, Sidhe proved with Ruby that GA can overcome even glitchy gaming hardware!

Strafe

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Almost as popular as Freezing Arrow, Strafe is the second most popular B&X skill in the compilation.

Every attack glues the Amazon's feet to the ground through a strafe cycle, until each and every missile is on its way. This "strafe lock" side effect can be pretty dangerous, especially when playing hardcore, so for this skill I'd like to salute all of the Guardian strafers. In particular, I salute khuzgan, who did it untwinked with Siri_V.
 
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