Axe to the Face Build

fate0521fate0521 Posts: 54
edited May 2014 in Berserker Discussions
So I wanted to try out a ranged build so I begun on my storm hatchet build, my goal when I set out was to use permafrost to keep mobs off me while I threw axes from afar. However, I begun to notice that the single target DPS for 3 axes to the face was crazy. I was killing purples as fast as trash at point blank range, so I decided to shift my focus to that and wound up with a sort of caster ranged tank hybrid.

Also first a warning - I begun the game on veteran since it was only my 2nd character but I'm looking to shift to elite. So keep in mind this isn't elite tested at all, I imagine in elite the early levels will be tough because you'll be living on wolf shade cooldowns early on. Assuming things go well, I will probably restart from scratch just to make sure it goes well.

[LINK DELETED] - this leaves 7 points, so you can hit T3 in one area or boost passives

Early on you're going to basically be a sword and board summoner, once you get 14 you get hatchet to up your frenzy uptime but you won't have mana to spam it. So instead I spammed hatchet til frenzy, then melee'd for mana steal/crit dmg. Levels 35 and 46 are things really got cool for me - that being access to permafrost and T2 on hatchet at 46.

Skill progression:
Early levels are easy because there aren't really skills we want - so the focus will be 1 pt in blood hunger and getting howl and wolf shade to T1.
Next I focused on shred armor and saved points to drop 1 point in the level 14 skills.

Skill analysis:

Howl 10/15 - I want my kill zone to be relatively close to me so I'm happy with the range and mana cost at T2
Battle Rage 15/15: Maxing for most damage/DR
Blood Hunger 1/15: You will always be in frenzy so you will constantly be healed
Ravage 1/15: It's up a lot with 1, I almost want to put more in because the cast speed is bananas with hatchet

Storm Hatchet 10-15/15: 5 points more only gets you 15% more weapon dps and double the mana cost. Shield breaking is nice but shields seem to break in 2 hits especially when you're criting. Edit: the charge boost at 15 might be worth it
Ice Shield 10/15: For the 100% reflect
Permafrost 15/15: does great damage by itself but I wanted this specifically for the AoE freeze/immobilization
Cold Steel 15/15: I'm happy with it for the 30% physical, but if you get an awesome physical/ice weapon this will be huge, also boosts permafrost
Shatter Storm 1-5/15: I felt like 25% on the proc was worth a few, but we're not heavily ice focused so 1 point could also be good.
Rage Retaliation 1-11/15: Not sure if this procs on blocked attacks so I need to look into that, if it does then I would say 11/15 for the no cooldown, otherwise just 1 point here.

Shadow Burst 1/15: This is our escape
Wolf Shade 15/15: Between this and blood hunger you will always be healing
Battle Standard 10/15: I wanted the bigger range to not have to cast as often, now that it's not OP 5 points could also be an option
Shred Armor 15/15: Works with hatchet so huge armor for us, more cast speed will help this as well
Red Wolf 1-X/15: Works with hatchet and we'll be close enough to proc so worth whatever you want to put in it

Stats:
I'm aiming for 140-150 in vitality and the rest will be focus. Gear I will be socketing for crit damage, mana regen, and cast speed.
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Comments

  • I too have a face tanking SH Zerk. I'm lvl 52 and still developing the build in Veteran with hopes for Elite.

    Looks good.


    We have the same idea with our builds but there are a few differences.

    Battle Rage. With shred armor you will not need physical DR. Elemental stuff is gonna be what kills you.

    Cold Steel. I didn't know it works with SH Focus build. If it does I might need it.

    And I didn't get Wolf Shade, but again I think I might need it.

    The rest of our build is IDENTICAL even 10 into Battle Standard and Howl.'


    I'm not sure what level you are but I think I'm at 22 mana regen per second and I can not get enough mana! Partially because I have +35% cast from weapon and shield. AND I would like to use Dervish too but again no mana for it.

    My main problem though is survivability. So I think I am gonna need lots of DR Sockets. I think this is gonna be the thing that makes Elite hard. The other zerks either stay range OR auto attack and have life leech. But We only get life from Blood Hunger witch I believe had a hidden 1 second cooldown (correct me if I'm wrong xKilla).
  • i'm right about 59 so we're close in level. i played on elite a little bit and i would agree with the not needing battle rage, plus it's just something else to worry about keeping up. with shred armor though you just sometimes have a vulnerability period until you start attacking or hit a crit to trigger blood hunger. it does have a cooldown but every crit can refresh it so you basically just keep healing over time once you frenzy

    wolf shade just seemed to good to go without, it does a lot of damage and heals you

    i am noticing that cast speed is almost a bad thing as well because you can't keep up with the mana. i think i'm at maybe 3-6% area and i don't have problems except for long sustained fights.
  • emberember Posts: 259
    :lol:

    I like the name of the build.
  • Cool. I'm gonna give Wolf Shade a try then and see.

    The beauty of this build is that you can start attacking creeps before they get to you so you have some good armor stacked before the melee portion.

    Watch out for red wolf by the way. I only have one point in it now but am tempted to max it for all that focus modded dmg. The problem is it doesn't reliably proc... Maybe if we were doing a melee attack it would work more often but many times for me I am hitting one mob with all three axes and critting but no Red Wolf.... I usually move a tiny bit in any direction and that fixes the problem. It reminds me of Hammerdin from D2 (Having to wiggle to hit things right next to you). But Red Wolf needs its ranged pushed out a little IMO.


    On the topic of Cast Speed I think we should skip cast speed on our armor and weapons and just use Dervish when we need that boost (pop a mana pot and hope for the best). I'm saying this because if we don't have mana for Icy Shield we can get into trouble.


    So on Blood Hunger every other crit can heal?
  • yeah red wolf is kind of funky like that, the hammerdin analogy is good because it is kind of like that at melee range.

    now that i'm used to the cast speed i'm more inclined to go big mana regen and crit damage. i might even bump up rampage to about 7 points for some uptime with cast speed that way, plus that doesn't mana. i would basically then just keep dervish critical moments
  • PyrosEienPyrosEien Posts: 269
    Red wolf range is 1meter too short imo, it's 3meters and should be 4(2H reach range). I had the problem a lot with my 2H build where I had to Savage Rush slightly closer to every champion and stuff for Red Wolf to work because simply attacking the mob would put me out of range of Red Wolf. Sadly modding it is also a pain since the range is actually in the layout file and that's all messed up with hex code and stuff so no idea how it works. Someone could probably fix it eventually.
  • I don't see any reason at all why Runic wouldn't fix it. It should proc with every melee weapon as long as you can hit the mob.


    When we get + crit dmg is when this build is gonna start to really be OP.
  • looking for some advice from someone with high end gear, i'm still using this ring at lvl 80 because the boost seems too good for me to go with something else. i haven't seen anything with that kind of +% dmg high end, am i better sticking with that or is a ring with a big strength/focus boost going to somehow add more damage? i additionally got an ice damage enchant so i've got 15%/23% on just that ring
  • Lol. I'm level 60 now. You got way ahead.

    Anyway I just completed Sentinel set 30% cast speed and 20% all damage. The individual Pieces have Focus Life and Cast speed mixed in. Completing the set doubled my damage and I'm still trying to figure out why...


    One note: although I haven't thoroughly tested the mechanics of it yet +elemental damage gear (+111 electric damage) is really good with SH. Not the percent but the actual raw damage adder. I got this on my sentinel neck and it added 25% to my total damage.

    From my experience though I would say stacking Focus is your best bet. 50 focus is worth 25% + Electric Damage.

    I was looking for this awesome post about combining lvl 100 sets to get the best stats and bonuses but I can't find it anymore.
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    I am really liking this build, and i will probably try it out nowish on Veteran, or Elite. (still trying a melee outlander on Elite, I don't feel like cutting myself today.) ANYWAY, I was wondering why your preference for Focus of Strength? STR would give more damage since SH is DPS%, unless of course you are using an elemental weapon: Wand and shield being the most survivable and easy, but being unable to proc Shred armor, Rampage, and Blood Hunger.

    In short: What weapon are you using, and does it justify the use of Focus over Strength?

    I think I will try dropping battle Rage, and add 5 into Storm Hatchet and Battle Standard.

    ITs a very interesting build, thanks for writing it up. Tell us how it goes in Elite!
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • i had just made it up to 84 and i was using the mace of virtue and now just switched to the mini maul. i socketed a 27% crit dmg ember and i think i was doing about 13K dmg per axe. unfortunately i think i've outleveled my gear and haven't been able to keep up because i'm really starting to have trouble with some of the elemental damage. ice shield handles all the ranged attacks, and once you're spamming axes you can tank damage ok - however i've noticed there is a vulnerability window whenever you begin each fight and build up your shred armor stack and for where i'm at now i'm not able to build it up fast enough to counteract the incoming damage.

    as for strength vs focus, strength i believe would definitely give you higher damage to start however you need a really good mana pool for SH so i think in the end it will come out about the same. i think i'm around 325 mana and like 22 mana/sec so i can cast for a long long time

    forgot to mention i'm on veteran NG+ ~lvl 85
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    Well, Im trying this build, currently level 16 on Veteran. Its quite a bit of fun, really.

    My problem is this: Cold Steel Mastery, for example, adds a fixed % to whatever type of cold damage you are using: So, I have an axe with cold damage to boost my DPS. That DPS is converted into Electric Damage by Storm Hatchet.
    What i am wondering is if I should be stacking +cold% for DPS, or the +electric% for Storm Hatchet. At higher levels, storm hatchet is doing 100+% DPS, thus getting more out of +electric%.

    From one of my other characters, I have two full sets: Janissary, with +50% ice damage, and Zeraphi Alchemical set, with +35% electric damage. I am wondering which one to use and enchant.
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • I was trying Tundra Berserker build when I discovered how OP these three axes are. I thought it was like novelty ranged attack like the one for Engineer (that stun grenade one) that I will have to take to get some sort of ranged attack. But it so happened when you get the 3 axe version, it kicks major boss ****, especially at close range.

    My Tundra Berserker soon changed into melee, axe throwing, ground ice smashing, always frenzy berserker. Three smash of the axes = frenzy mode. Then I have the option of keep smashing them with axes (kill one guy in front of me), the ground ice stomp (kill the small minions around me), or auto attack (to fill up mana with +mana per hit).
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    Are you using... Northern Rage? IS that what you mean by ground ice stomp thingy? I just haven't leveled enough ,so just wondering. It sounds like its working for you, so might steal that as well... I was planning on Permafrost though.
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • Cathulhu wrote:
    Are you using... Northern Rage? IS that what you mean by ground ice stomp thingy? I just haven't leveled enough ,so just wondering. It sounds like its working for you, so might steal that as well... I was planning on Permafrost though.

    Oh I have permafrost too. Yes, Northern Rage was I was referring to. Good close up AoE despite being slightly unpredictable at longer range. I try to max these two since I stopped leveling Storm Hatchet once it hits 10. I skipped Stormclaw since these two AoE is good enough in killing stragglers.
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    What sort of equipment are you rolling with? I am curious, because I'm not sure what equipment to work towards/look out for. I tend to keep an eye out for +cast speed%, but thats about it.

    I am currently wearing True Estheria set armor, a unique shield (Rainstopper) and Grell's Helm with a +6% cast speed, nearing end of act 1.
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • Cathulhu wrote:
    What sort of equipment are you rolling with? I am curious, because I'm not sure what equipment to work towards/look out for. I tend to keep an eye out for +cast speed%, but thats about it.

    I am currently wearing True Estheria set armor, a unique shield (Rainstopper) and Grell's Helm with a +6% cast speed, nearing end of act 1.

    Funny how you mentioned True Estheria set armor, coz I was wearing that armor till the end of my first run through. Yes, the +cast speed is quite nice. The faster you can dish out them hatchets the less you have stay in non-frenzy mode.

    But with faster cast, so is the faster your MP reserve disappears. Unless you have bottomless MP potions, this is something you have to think about. Get as high DPS weapon as you can but also make sure they attack very fast. Make sure to socket his with MP steal or pick one that came with one. This is because I like up in your face encounter and hate waiting for MP to build back up slowly.

    I was lucky enough to acquire an almost full Sentinel Set after my first run through. This set has %mp steal so weapon choice is no longer a problem. I was also lucky enough to have met the "Stout" enchanter in the NG+. He gave my Sentinel set +attributes in 20-30's amount each. By the end of the enchant party, I got almost 200 VIT total. By this time, I worry less about +% damage that my level 12 rings provide and go for elemental armors. Survival is everything at this point because you are naturally still hit very hard.
  • ZiddersZidders Posts: 14,345 ✭✭✭
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  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    Well, right now... (level 33, last half of act 2)

    Im wearing part Estheria (3% cast) and part Janissary (6% cast), and a few of those pieces have a natural +cast speed % as well... for a total of +27%. I have Dervish I, which is amazing even at I. I think the artificer lasted... a minute at most?

    with Tome of Concentration I or II, as well as a few mana regen gems, I am doing alright. I tend to destroy the mob group before running out of mana, but failing that I Shadow Burst out and pop a mana pot. Incidentally, between my natural 4% mana recharge on top of my 8/sec. mana regen, I can use Shadow burst infinitely.

    I found a very good mace in this act: Showstopper? Its a full elemental mace, half of which is ice damage. I also enchanted it with ice (most of my gold) and now each strike is between 700-1k+ damage. I also socketed it with the Rift Ember or whatever... the 10 mana stolen on strike one. I think a part of this high damage is cold Steel Mastery and a unique ring I have, with +35% ice damage.

    I am thinking it may be useful to get the rest of the janissary set for the +50% ice damage. Maybe. not sure yet...

    The only piece of equipment I have "gifted" myself from another character was a Roundhaven shield.

    I really like this build. I have died once on a mob, (but things have been getting a bit hairy lately, so this may change as well). between Shadow Burst's mobility, Storm Hatchet's good damage (103% DPS now), the debuff provided by Howl, and healing from Shadow Burst, Blood Hunger, and Wolf Shade (which I need to get in the habit of using more) it sort of feels like a Glaive Outlander... Except I can't just hold shift and murder everything with the occasional Rune Vault, as per my Elite Outlander. This build requires more attention and thought. In my opinion its more fun as well.

    I feel quite confident in being able to beat NG Elite with this build. I haven't even gotten three hatchets yet, still a few levels off... and its still fun and brutal. We'll see how the next couple of acts go, and see if I still feel that confident.

    Anyway, I really hope that someone adds this to the build compilation thread, its very fun and would be a shame if it got lost.
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • Hey Cathulu.

    Do you put all that ice damage on your weapon to synergize with cold steel? If so, do you know if only the ice damage adds or if the physical does too?
  • Cathulhu wrote:
    Well, Im trying this build, currently level 16 on Veteran. Its quite a bit of fun, really.

    My problem is this: Cold Steel Mastery, for example, adds a fixed % to whatever type of cold damage you are using: So, I have an axe with cold damage to boost my DPS. That DPS is converted into Electric Damage by Storm Hatchet.
    What i am wondering is if I should be stacking +cold% for DPS, or the +electric% for Storm Hatchet. At higher levels, storm hatchet is doing 100+% DPS, thus getting more out of +electric%.

    From one of my other characters, I have two full sets: Janissary, with +50% ice damage, and Zeraphi Alchemical set, with +35% electric damage. I am wondering which one to use and enchant.

    i would probably go for electric and just try and make sure i have ice damage on the weapon to get some bonus from the passive. if you have no ice damage at all then cold stacking is only going to affect northern rage or permafrost

    also answering one of the later questions, i actually went with the crit damage/str grells helm after i got it on my second playthrough. my focus has become more of hitting harder than attacking faster considering the mana costs. so i think the crit damage gives the bigger DPS bonus
  • GraeystoneGraeystone Posts: 1,545
    If you are going Elite, then you should max Storm Hatchet and unlock Tier 3 for Shield Breaking. Even if its 'Overkill', its better 'them' than 'you'.
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    Hey Cathulu.

    Do you put all that ice damage on your weapon to synergize with cold steel? If so, do you know if only the ice damage adds or if the physical does too?

    From what i understand, the weapon would have to have a physical damage component for the physical% to be added. Since my current weapon is half ice damage, half electric, with ice enchants, I was getting more out of Focus than if I was using a half physical, half ice weapon. this is just with my own testing. Besides, Cold Steel Mastery's main draw is the 90% bonus ice damage... Physical% bonus is just icing, so to speak.
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    fate0521 wrote:
    i would probably go for electric and just try and make sure i have ice damage on the weapon to get some bonus from the passive. if you have no ice damage at all then cold stacking is only going to affect northern rage or permafrost

    also answering one of the later questions, i actually went with the crit damage/str grells helm after i got it on my second playthrough. my focus has become more of hitting harder than attacking faster considering the mana costs. so i think the crit damage gives the bigger DPS bonus

    Currently I'm at the first half of act 3, level 40. I used up a couple vendor scrolls Ive been saving to get the Wildwood armor set. he DPS and weapon damage is about the same (a bit better) as my old armor, but the actual armor and +HP is better. Once I find more money and the enchanters (theres a few for sure in act 3) I am sure it will improve. I still have some +casting speed%, but not nearly as much. Maybe 10%? Relying much more on Dervish, wish I could finder a higher level than I. Time to transmute spells.

    I am still using Showstopper, Roundhaven, and a ring called The Singing Fire. All told, between Cold Steel Mastery, the Ring, and Wildwood, I have something like +130% ice damage, (main DPS) and +25% Electric (added to storm Hatchet).

    Permafrost came into play a few levels back, and has definitely been useful despite the 9 second cooldown... I wish it were shorter. Ice Shield has been a life saver, surprise surprise.

    For act 3 I have had to slow done considerably. in act 2, my strategy was to Shadow Burst around until i saw something, then storm hatchet it to death. Sometimes I would SB directly into the mob and tank, relying on Blood Hunger, Rampage, Red Wolf and Rage Retaliation to get me through it largely unscathed, while "Axing in Face". In the last bits of act 2, this made for sometimes close fights.

    IN act 3, the close quarters and enemies you can't see, but which spring out from the trees makes Shadow Bursting around not always practical, unlike act 2. Here I may SB for short distances, but i tend to walk in case i need to through up a quick ice shield. I am also reverting to my act 1 tactics, where I would use shadow burst to stay at mid to long range and attack from the safety that provides. HOWEVER, I still have not got my three axes (level 46, if remember correctly) so this may still change yet again. I'm not afraid of melee range due to my decent defenses and damage output, but it makes for a safer skirmish.
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • permafrost cooldown drops 0.5s for every point so i never worry about putting a point in that.

    i was doing the same thing as you but it was getting me into trouble - i would shadow burst all over the map and end up running into a bunch of stuff before i could drop all of the buffs. eventually i had to just start walking normally and reserve shadow burst solely for escape/positioning

    what gets tricky is being able to get your wolf shade/blood hunger healing and shred armor buff for yourself all going before other mobs can kill you. i find elemental attacks to be the worst because ice shield can't help too much and it's easy to get in the habit of just standing and throwing axes, the poison thrower guys in a3 were tearing me up around lvl 80
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    one thing I have noticed is that i rarely get a chance to drop Howl. My engagement range is past its range, so if I do throw it down, I might only get a few enemies. Or, they are all dead by the time they get close enough anyway. I use it as more of a boss fight type of thing, along with Wolf Shade.
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • yep i'm finding all the debuffs/buffs to be such a pain i'm trying to drop stuff out of the build. the one thing i really like about howl is the slow, it's almost been better at keeping mobs off me than permafrost. but it's definitely seeming silly at times to cast 3 spells before i even start attacking
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    fate0521 wrote:
    yep i'm finding all the debuffs/buffs to be such a pain i'm trying to drop stuff out of the build. the one thing i really like about howl is the slow, it's almost been better at keeping mobs off me than permafrost. but it's definitely seeming silly at times to cast 3 spells before i even start attacking

    100% agree. Howl is awesome for the slow, and the damage increase. Its like a caster centered Blade Pact but better. Therein lies the problem though: Its caster centered, so ranged builds can't get the most out of it.

    Dervish is an absolute must though, in my opinion, no way around it. (I still REALLY need to find better than Dervish I.)

    Ice Shield is nice, too bad it lasts such a short time. I would prefer a constant mana drain to keep it up. In any case, I don't pop it EVERY fight... just most. Or if i feel like something might jump out of the bushes at me.

    Wolf Shade is nice, but the cool down is brutal. I feel like its a good opener to a battle: IT goes in, heals you some, gives you some damage cushion before Shred Armor, Rampage, or your Frenzy bar kicks in.

    The reality is you don't often have enough warning to summon it before the hatchets start flying. The other bit is that when you REALLY need it, i.e. extended, HP draining fights... its probably on a cool down timer. Or by the time you notice you need it, you'd be better off shadow bursting and downing a pot. Perhaps its merely my play style.

    Maybe higher tiers make Wolf Shade better. (i.e. shorter cool down.) In any case, Im leaving it alone while i level more important things.

    Thanks for the feedback, its been very constructive, thank you!
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
  • wolf shade was one of my highest priority skill dumps, i got it to T2 as soon as possible so the cooldown is only 15s so it's not a big deal.

    i haven't played with dervish yet because i've been using all the boon spells like treasure hunter/barter
  • CathulhuCathulhu Posts: 173
    well, now i also have two weapon sets: one with Roundhaven and Showstopper: High single hit damage, with high shield block.

    My other set is the Ultimatum Axe and a Crimson Guard Shield: 15% and 20% cast speed bonus respectively, but lower max damage, and lower block. Sooo... i haven't been using Dervish much either, since I have 47% cast speed bonus anyway.

    Also just recently got 3 hatchets. I am wishing the spread were smaller, since i often hit a target with one or two axes, but the others just fly off... It does make for decent mob control with Permafrost.

    Do you use Battle Standard much?

    Anyway, definitely fun.
    "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cathulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn"
    Shadowshot Outlander: A "Sniper" Guide *Elite NG+++*
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