Goon Arcane Blade Guide 1.3.3
Note: This guide may be out of date or in need of revision.
Ogre staff build
Arcane Blade is one of my favorite classes! And has been since it was considered garbage, but still had the Greater Weapon Fighting tree (which was fucking sweet). That was back in like ... b30something.
You are a super insane single target damage burst character. You can flurry for thousands of damage. Tens, if you get very lucky. You have decent mobility and good surviveability, but your early game is pretty weak. It's not really until 20ish that you really start rolling. Your AoE is also super shitty, so you really need to pick your battlegrounds wisely. Kite into corridors, phase door proactively instead of after a few turns of getting destroyed, use your mobility infusions liberally. Lightning AB at least can destroy a line of enemies fairly well, but that stops being as useful later on, when more wide open vaults become common and shit will go through walls to get at you.
Playstyles/Races: So, the default playstyle for this class, as you'd think from the way the gear you start with would be straight wielding a 2h weapon, but this is actually pretty weak. You really want to dual wield in some fashion, either 2 actual weapons or sword and board - even though you have reduced proc chance for Arcane Combat and Arcane Destruction when dual wielding, hitting 6 times with Flurry or 3 times with Assault more than makes up for this.
If you want to go with (short)staff + offhand (dagger, shield), go lightning, if you want to go with non-staff weapon (dagger, 1h, 2h) + offhand (dagger, shield) go earthen missiles. Life Drinker is a fucking insane offhand dagger if you find it, as it's free extra spells and healing.
My element/spell suggestions are based on this: Fire sucks, it's all DoT damage. You can't get multiple activations to stack in one turn or even over multiple turns. Earth is the best single target damage with Earthen Missiles and it has physical resistance penetration and bonus physical damage. Lightning works best with staves as projectiles (aka Earthen Missiles) don't work with the staff accuracy bonus. Confusing! However, unfortunately, you don't get access to the upgraded lightning tree, so you can't get the lightning res pen + bonus lightning damage sustain. However, not too many things resist lightning damage by default, but holding onto Elemental Fury if you find it is a good idea.
Ogre, Shaloren, and Cornac are the strongest race options.
Ogre has an insane 13 life rating per level, gives you an extra infusion slot, makes your infusions much stronger and AB synergizes very well with the infusion cd reduction on crit (you'll be critting multiple times most turns)... and you can wield a 2h weapon in your main hand, causing you to do a bunch of extra damage with your main hand and have wider access to gear (and remember, short staves are fairly rare). The obvious downside to this is the reduction in proc damage, but this is the upside to that earthen missiles aren't procs! Also, while it's a large reduction, your damage is still insane even if you go with 2h staff in mainhand + offhand with lightning. Shaloren has the most busted racials in the game in that almost every class loves at least 3 of them, but I feel like Ogre is a slightly better fit for AB, but you can never go wrong with a bunch of global speed, crit chance, and a second, stronger Relentless Persuit. Cornac also ends up giving you an extra infusion slot, thanks to how many trees you want to unlock in earth builds, and levels quickly, which is nice because it gets you to the levels where you have your cool toys faster. And AB is a class that could spend an extra 30 generics, let alone the 12 you'll get from not having a racial tree, so it's not as big of a downside as with some classes.
(I realize this is basically me suggesting the best 3 races in the game, but Ogre and Cornac do at least have good synergy with AB!)
So, early game, you either want to meticulously dance points in and out of Lightning or just condemn yourself to being a really shitty melee class. It's tedious as hell, and I run an addon that makes it so you can change points anywhere, instead of just in town (as I just find it makes things tedious, and that's how it used to be, although I understand the change, as you were never meant to be able to do that). Or you can just accept wasting a few points and going like 3 points into lightning. In 1.4, you can choose what spell Arcane Combat will proc, so this is no longer a large disadvantage.
Stat distribution: This class very much suffers from MAD (Multiple Attribute Dependency), as they have high stat requirements in abilities for Strength, Magic, and Dexterity (if you're going dual wield or shield offense) and really want Cunning (for Arcane Cunning and crit chance) and Will (for max mana and stamina, as they have a ton of sustains). Tricky! Fortunately, they have ways to circumvent this in Inner Power and just by holding onto a metric fuckton of gear swaps with stats on them. If you weren't aware, if you're wearing +stat gear, you can level up a talent and then take the gear off, but you still retain the talent level. Focus on getting enough magic and str for your talent unlocks, then dex for that unlock. The weird thing about strength, if you're going staff is that ... staff doesn't scale with strength, so you'd actually rather put as few points into this as possible, and use Inner Focus and gear swaps to unlock things. In the end, you're going to want Magic and Cunning maxed out, along with Strength if you're wielding a non-staff mainhand weapon, with leftovers put into Will and/or Dex. But you can max out 3 stats with some leftover change, so you're not under too harsh of restrictions here.
Categories: So, you're going to want to unlock Spell/Stone (at 10) and one of Shield Offense or Dual Techniques (at 20). Two-handed Maiming is a fairly shitty tree, imo, so I wouldn't bother unlocking it. If you get the chance to get Celestial/Light, I would certainly take it (though just taking a level in the heal is fine, as it lets you put more generics elsewhere and allows you to get 6 infusion slots, if you're an ogre) - it's a very strong tree that works well with Spell/Aegis.
You're a class very strapped for both types of talent, your priority in Alch elixirs should be Generic points -> Class Points -> Stats (although phys crit is also good).
Technique / Combat Techniques - I usually go 1/1/1/5 in this. Rush is good, but the cd reduction isn't that fantastic. Precise Strikes sucks, Perfect Attacks is a 1 point wonder, and Blinding Speed is Global speed, yesssss. I wouldn't put more than 1/0- or 1/1/1/1 into it until later into the game, though, as you want to get other things up and running.
Technique / Magical Combat - You eventually want to 5/5/5/5 this, although if you miss out on the class point elixir (which would suck, but generics are still more strapped) I'd leave points out of the last ability. You only want 5/1/1/1 in this early, though. Having 5 points into Arcane Combat is important pretty early.
Cunning / Dirty Fighting - 5/1/1/3. The titular talent here is somewhat underrated, I find - A lot of bosses/etc have stun immunity, so it sucks! Except the important thing to note about it is that if the target isn't stunned this does not take an action. So, you either stun a thing for a long time, where stun is incredibly strong, or you hit it for free. Fuck yes. Backstab isn't that great, switch places gives evasion, but whatever. Cripple is very strong, but there's a cap on how much you can slow enemies, which is 40% (iirc), so you want to stop putting points into it then, and 3 is usually about right, mileage may vary.
Spell / Lightning - 5/0/0/0, for the proc. You can put points into Chain Lightning, but I don't think it's worth it, same for Feather Wind (which requires 5 points to be worth using) and Thunderstorm.
Spell / Earth - If you want to use Earthen or Lightning as your proc: 1/2/1/4. Meh at stone skin, pulverizing augur is alright, and making it able to dig 3 can be neat, though the second point is droppable. Mudslide isn't worth more points, though it is worth using for awhile early-on. Stone Wall is a get out of jail free card and can make line of sight blocks (although you'll still get fucked by dreads, banshees, xorns, etc. I'm pretty sure the change to vorns burrowing instead of wall-walking was to weaken this). If you want to use Pulv Augur: 1/5/1/4.
Spell / Stone (Only for using Earthen as your proc, obviously) - 5/1/1/5. Earthen Missiles is your main damage source. Body of Stone isn't that great, you're not really hard-casting spells. Crystalline Focus is how you get around phys resistant things and gives you extra damage.
Spell / Enhancement - If you're going eartn, 1/1/1/5. Fire/lightning hands are alright, but nothing special, not worth points into, as we're not focusing on those elements. Inner Focus! This spell scales oddly, but in the end gives you +42 stats on a class that needs everything. Give it a look every now and again to see if another point will give you more stats, and then actually level it (though it does sometimes run into odd rounding issues with the display). If you're going lightning, 1/1/5/5. Sadly, daze sucks, but bonus % lightning damage is good, and it's a proc.
Shield Offense or Dual Techniques are both going to be 1/1/1/1. They're good, but you need the points elsewhere, and the nice thing about them is mostly that you hit a bunch of times with the skills, proccing arcane combat and explosions. If you're going with lightning, putting more points into Flurry or Assault is alright.
You are super fucking strapped for these, holy shit.
Racial / Ogre - 1/5/1/5. The first skill is only alright, you want to be hitting everything so whatever, although it can be fun to use it with Bathe in Light. Grisly Constitution is insane, it makes your inscriptions much stronger and wielding a 2h with something else is also really good. Scar-Scripted Flesh is going to activate a bunch without raising the chance for it to activate and it only activates once per turn. Writ Large is a strong skill and a free inscription slot.
Racial / Shaloren - also 1/5/1/5! Convenient! The cd reduction is all that you get from the first talent, which is almost useless, but it's a ton of free global speed. Activate after Blinding Speed has worn off (or vice versa), as they won't stack. The second talent is free crit chance and damage, the third skill is... alright, but not worth more points, and the 4th talent is the most broken ability in the game.
Technique / Combat Training - 0/1/5 and then 5 into whatever weapon talent is important for you (aka, is in your main hand). If that's a staff, get staff training from Angolwen (and weep that you have to get channel staff first). NO THICK SKIN? Spell / Aegis is better. NO MASSIVE ARMOR? Spell / Aegis is better. Spell / Aegis and Celestial / Light are the best defensive trees in the game, you can get both.
Cunning / Survival - 0/0/0/0, get some form of 1/1/1/0 from escorts if you can, though. Those skills are good.
Spell / Conveyance - 5/1/0/0. Targeted Phase Door is a good GTFO, but I can't really justify the extra points into teleport.
At this point, you have like 15 generics left, and Spell / Aegis and Celestial / Light left. Which hurts. It's actually worth considering only going like 2-3 into your weapon skill for these.
Spell / Aegis (IF YOU HAVE CELESTIAL / LIGHT) - 1/3/1/1 - while these are good, they're not as good as with Archmage, and can sorta be 1-point wonders. If you don't have Celestial / Light, obviously you put more points into these - More like 4/5/1/4.
Celestial / Light - 1/1/1/5 - which also hurts to say, as this has some great talents. Celestial/Light on ABs is mostly about having a way to deal with negative status effects via Providence, as ABs don't have a class-based way to deal with negative status effects. Healing Light is also another heal that can crit to heal you for 500-600 (with a single point investment!) and provide a free shield on top of that. Bathe in Light is only alright on ABs, though the downside of enemies healing doesn't matter as much, because you usually oneshot most things anyway. It's way better on Archmages who can generate 3-4k worth of shields effortlessly, so extending those has a ton of value. You can also pre-cast Providence and Barrier if you know you'll be going into some scary shit (opening vaults, stair dancing).
If you're a Cornac, you're going to want more points in Aegis and Bathe in Light and probably 3 into Armor Training.
My generic distribution recommendation is what I'm least sure about, so muck around with those if you want. You really want to hope for anorithil escorts, to save you generic points.
Inscriptions: You'll eventually end up with 5. Phys Wild, 2 Shields, Heroism, and Targeted Phase Door/Movement (I prefer Movement) or a strong regen or even a strong heal aren't bad here. Early game, you're going to want Phys Wild, Shield, Heal/Regen (once you can wean off your manasurge in some fashion). While this does mean you don't have a manasurge, and it will bite you in the ass after getting mana burned, I feel like not having one is better. It's worth it to hold onto Manasurges in your inventory along with spare Phys Wilds for situations where you know you'll be manaclashed or mana burned.
Prodigies: You know what's fucking broken in this patch? Arcane Might is fucking broken in this patch. Take it at level 30 every time. The damage increase is actually absurd. At 42, you have a number of options to go for, but Flexible combat is the best damage option, and as ABs want to oneshot everything, up to and including the final bosses, it's my favorite option. You hit 6 times with Flurry, so you can proc it 6 times. And activate Arcane Combat and Arcane Destruction off it. Fun! Add on really strong gloves with procs and you can cause a truly silly amount of particle effects and lines of damage.
Defense options for 42 are Cauterize and Draconic Will. Cauterize will save your ass from getting oneshot (and you have way more than enough shields to absorb the cauterize damage after it activates) and Draconic Will is another status effect fix. If you'd rather something you don't have to remember to use, Unbreakable Will is also a status effect fix, but it's not as good.
You could also consider Eye of the Tiger. You can get a completely silly amount of CD reductions per turn, but it isn't really that great. If Arcane Might wasn't so strong, Flexible + Eye could maybe let you Flurry every turn, but as strong as that seems... I think Arcane Might is still stronger.
This is mostly off the top of my head but since it took me several fucking days to finally win with one most of this should be right.
1-5: (Trollmire through Prox, pretty much): Took out point from Dirty Fighting becuase I'd never remember to use it, class pts into Arcane Combat/Flame evenly, pick up Heal ASAP, then get Armor Training by level 2 and Weapon Mastery by 3. When you kill Prox assuming you're cornac you'll be able to max Flame which is a pretty important point. You can fight Bill right away but if you find no +defense gear it'll be RNG. On runs where I had a shield by this level I put my cat point into shield defense and picked up shield bash, otherwise I waited.
6-10: (more starter dungeons): Max Arcane Combat. That pretty much goes without saying! A courtesy point in Rush helps because you never know when that'll come in handy. At 8 you can pick up Arcane Feed which is pretty important, not worth maxing immediately but a couple points in it right away is good because crit chance is always welcome. By 10 you should probably have Heal at rank 3 or so with everything else put into combat training, I tend to skip phase door for now because nothing should be dangerous enough to merit it. When you hit 10, spend the category point if you find any nice shield runes (or at worst, heal infusions I guess).
11-15: (finishing t1s, Ben, Assassin Lord, SWL/Maze shenanigans): If you're a shield build which is what I'm mostly speaking in terms of, 12 is the best level in the world because it means you get Assault. Hopefully you've been prioritizing strength! Afterwards you want to immediately get Arcane Destruction because they kinda go hand in hand. Destruction doesn't need to be maxed ASAP even if it does give a good chunk of physical power, as the damage from it doesn't go up per leveling. Similarly, Assault only scales so-so so there's no rush there either but the second point into it isn't terrible or anything. An extra point or 2 into Shield Bash isn't a terrible idea, nor is working on Riposte since ABs need it at 5 to get the extra counterattack as opposed to Bulwarks who only need it at 4. Welcome to having too many goddamn things that need points. Pray for t4/t5 weapon drops from chests in SWL and Maze.
16-20: (Old Forest, Ruined Dungeon, Slaver Compound if you decide to do it, Daikara): If you haven't picked up Teleport yet this is probably the time! Things are mostly in full swing at this point for you, and you can probably afford to run Shielding or Arcane Shield from the Aegis tree. On any rare that looks scary (mostly a ruined dungeon problem, or if you're doing something crazy like checking graves in old forest/daikara) don't hesitate to stand back and spam Flame because it's pretty decent damage! For Weirdling Beast, go in with Arcane Combat/Arcane Feed turned off and then turn them back on after he devours Fiery Hands because you can probably just gib him outright with those up due to Assault's overwhelming damage combined with Arcane Destruction.
21-26: With your 20 cat point grab the Step Up tree and then proceed to max it out while ignoring everything else because if you don't do this I will become an angry ghost and haunt you because Step Up is amazing. At 24 if your Blight resist is shitty and you're not confident don't even go into dark crypt. I did it once with basically 0% blight resist but I had Wrap of Stone for emergency stone tombing that saved my life but I seriously would not recommend it even though it can drop amazing shit. Urkis won't be terribly scary for you but keep in mind a phys/magical wild is pretty handy because Hurricane sucks shit, as he's pretty prone to being stunned (if you want to be a bigger dick and took the starting point out of Dirty Fighting, put it back in for this.)
Past that the order of things doesn't really matter as much, but past 20 is a good point to start grabbing Inner Power as well as putting more points into Rush. I usually don't start dipping heavy into Cunning until level 30+ so I leave Arcane Cunning at 1/5 freeing up some class points. Generics are pretty self-explanatory, I was afraid of picking up escort trees (and also got fucked over on anorithils) so I opted to max most of Aegis and pick up controlled phase door/teleport, but for the longest time I only had 1 or 2 points at most in both shielding and arcane shielding, and only 1 in the Aegis talent itself.
Yeah strength is really the big thing early on since Arcane Destruction is great and if you're shield build then Assault is a huge deal. After you've gotten those you can at least slow it down a bit to focus on your other stats. Lucking into equipment early on is really nice, too. With the change that lets you skip floors 1-2 of t1 dungeons after completing 3 of them, as an AB I tend to go back and do them anyway while hoping to thin the artifact pool or otherwise luck into some good rares. It's a little boring but it can be a big help! Also I kinda forgot to mention this but raise Combat Accuracy as needed, if you don't find gloves with amazing +acc you'll probably need 3 points in it in by your early-mid teens.
I still want to win with a dual-wielding AB but jesus christ throwing dexterty into their stat spread is awful.
http://forums.te4.org/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=38775 (version 1.0.5 guide)