Lorin's Nightshade Guide
This guide will use the following systems for ratings:
BLACK: Garbage, or completely overshadowed by another option.
ORANGE: Situationly useful, but overall pretty meh.
GREEN: OK. You could do worse than pick this.
BLUE: Good stuff. You probably want this.
PURPLE: You want this. Period.
RED: Why haven't you taken this yet? A defining choice for a build, or even the whole class.
Strength: Determines amount of damage you do, plain and simple. For blades 100% of your damage is based off of strength. For pierce, it is 50% of your damage.
Dexterity: Has several functions. For pierce, the other 50% of your damage is based off of this. Dex also determines the damage of your casted and instant DD spells. Dex also plays a part in determining your evade rate. Overall ties in to several of the class abilities.
Constitution: The more con you have, the more hits and the longer you survive.
Quickness: Determines your swing speed (along with other factors). Generally, 250 quick (with buffs and items or Realm Abilities) is where you want to be for capped swing speed (assuming you have capped ToAs and/or celerity, but more on this later).
Intelligence: Nothing, it doesn't matter for Nightshades.
Empathy: Nothing, it doesn't matter for Nightshades.
Charisma: Nothing, it doesn't matter for Nightshades.
Hits: The amount of life you have. While Con does affect hits, hits can also be boosted via items. The more hits, the longer you live.
Celt: Overall best starting Strength stat available to nightshades, and argueably make the best "bladeshades". Won't have as much dex as an Elf or Lurikeen, but has better Strength and Constitution.
Elf: Decent Dexterity, but lower Quickness than a Lurikeen, and racial bonuses to dump stats (Intelligence) make this argueably the worse nightshade choice. They make decent "castershades", but will be outshone by either of the other choices.
Lurikeen: Small size (making you harder to target) along with high Dexterity and Quickness make this an attractive choice. While they don't have as high of Strength as Celts, they do make decent "bladeshades". Make better "pierce shades" and "castershades" than Celts due to higher dex, and with their Quickness, hitting the 250 sweet spot is very easy.
Distraction (black for RvR, green or blue for pve) - set a ground target, hit this and monsters will look in that direction. Useful for beginners to learn how to properly use direction based styles, and can be used to help make certain higher level monster encounters easier...in RvR it's worthless.
Evade - People try to hit you and you dodge, simple as that. This is based off your dex + your evade ability (gets higher as you gain levels) and will open up certain styles.
Caltrops - designed to be a trap that snares enemy players that walk over it, this is still kind of buggy and does not always work as it is supposed to, though it has been fixed to fire at least most of the time. Rating will change if this is fixed, as snared enemies are easier to kite and kill.
Casted Nuke(blue to red) - If you are a castershade, this is your bread and butter. All other shades will find this useful if snared, rooted, or just flat out of range to finish off a target that is fleeing, or start the fight from a distance.
Instant DD - useful for interrupts against archers/casters, to spike your DPS, and finish fights.
Instant DoT - mostly an interrupt due to the low damage, but still it is damage none the less. Shorter range than the DDs, but if you are in melee anyways, no reason not to use it.
Remedy - Immunity to poisons (even for a short while) can be huge in fights against other assassins. The key is knowing when to use it and when not to.
The bread and butter of the class. Very few people will not spec into this, and the goal here is to keep it at a composite 50 stealth (Points spent into the line along with items and realm levels. An example would be at realm rank 4 spending 36 points with 11 item bonus and 3 from realm levels for a total of 50). While there are abilities that you can gain from going higher, it is generally considered to be diminishing returns over spending points elsewhere.
Has some heavy hitting openers, but offers few solid choices aside from them. Some people spec this as high as 34 (for Perforate Artery and Creeping Death) while others don't spec much in it at all, using only left over points. It is widely regarded as a waste to go higher than 34 currently, as speccing higher raises your damage cap only slightly, and doesn't offer any styles worth using. The Hamstring and Leaper evade chain is very nice dps, and the Pincer side style offers a nice armor debuff to further spike dps. As of late a few have been speccing as high as 44 for the debuff style in the chain and seeing some success. Many of the assassin community are still calling for a revamp of this line to make it more useful and desireable.
A solid weapon choice that has some useful weapons available, a nice any time style (Spectrum Blade), and decent resist tables. A blade spec is also much easier to template without having "holes".
Harder to template and still maintain no "holes", Pierce does have some interesting things available. A very nice Evade chain in the Diamonback/Dragonspire styles provides heavy bleed and an 8 second stun, pierce is made for heavy damage versus support (healer, shaman, and cleric), scouts, and berzerkers.
The higher you spec into this line, the more often your offhand will swing, in addition to have a variety of very nice styles available. Thunderstorm is a terrific anytime, ice storm and its follow up offer a side stun and bleed, Tornado/Twin Star evade chain offers an AF debuff and 7 second stun, and speccing high in this can be great for the "Wyrd Spec" (see below).
Like stealth, it is generally best to keep this at a composite 50, as you simply need to have a composite spec in order to apply the poison of that level. Having a spec 50 will also minimize the damage variance on the DD poison and lifebane. For which poisons to use, see the section below.
Examples of level 50 spec options (all are presented at realm rank 3 for a look at consistent spec points spent)
Critless Celtic Duel Shade: composite stealth/envenom, 44 celtic duel, 39 blades or pierce, 15 crit strike
Openers will include ice storm chain, hurricane chain, or thunderstorm for any time style. Relies on high chance of both hands swinging with poisons and minimal damage variance on weapons to deal damage. Has the option of using the backstab 2 chain to open from the rear, but has no perforate artery/creeping death.
Composite stealth/envenom - 34 crit, 44 cd, 25 blades or pierce.
Wyrd spec is the result of using the hidden weapon skill present in celtic duel. By speccing high in celtic duel and using primarily celtic duel styles, you take advantage of the "hidden weaponskill" that is in the line to keep damage high and varian minimal. As you get higher in realm rank, you will spec to get composite 51 in your weapon line (blades/pierce) to minimize damage variance and still keep your damage high. This spec is better at higher realm rank, but is solid at any level if you know how to play it.
Composite stealth/envenom - 44 to 50 crit strike, 39 blades or pierce, 15 celtic duel
Much more popular on the shadowblade class which has access to two-handed weapons for their openers from stealth, this is based on assassinating targets from stealth with as much frontloaded damage as possible. Openers will be perforate artery chain or backstab 2 chain, and will use the hamstring ~> leaper ~> rib seperation evade chain for more dps if the target is still alive. Will have lower off hand swing rate due to low celtic duel though.
Composite stealth/envenom, weapon spec can be any combination of the above as it will be relying on magic to deal damage primarily, though pierce is often used to take advantage of the high dex.
Caster shades will primarily use their casted DD, instant DD, and insta dot to kill targets from range, while using the champion level casted disease to help kite or keep targets low on health as they get closer. Will often switch to a staff in their two handed slot to get extra spell damage/range/pierce/speed.
Master Level Paths:
Access to group stealth, DoT Mines, Snare mines, mezz poisons, and decoy (useful for popping enemy traps/mines) makes this the clear choice for the vast majority of shades.
Offers a variety of high cast time storms that vary in usefulness. Can be fun and aggrivating for enemies in keep take/seige situations, but is generally disregarded due to the cast time of the storms and the fact you unstealth as you cast them.
Invaluable for kiting targets, interrupting from range, keeping people low on health while you deal with multiple opponents, etc.
Most diseases in the game are fairly long duration (45 seconds or more) and will negate all health regen mythrians, infernal sleeves, etc. Get rid of that with casted remove disease, a useful ability.
Most useful if you are grouping as you can literally save a partner's life by removing DoTs before they kill them, has its uses.
Make up for some slight holes in your template or simply push your resists up even further to keep casters dps in check, useful.
Generally your casted DD is better because it is affected by ToA cast speed and dex so it is faster and hits harder.
Can be funny as you will have high dex (usually) so you can evade a ton and catch a parry when you don't evade. Combine with a greater parry myth to really aggrivate people trying to kill you in melee.
Useful to boost stats higher for more damage/swing speed, but a secondary concern
Master of Pain
The higher you take this, the more chance you have of getting melee critical hits, take this for melee based shades of any spec
Master of Stealth
Need to plan on getting at least level 4 of this to detect players at range, the higher you take it, the father you see people and faster you move while stealthed. Keep in mind it provides no bonus versus archers that have camoflauge up and gives minimal bonuses versus other assassins.
The higher you take this, the higher chance of spell based critical hits. a must for castershades.
Mastery of Magery
The more mastery of magery you have, the more damage you do with spells, again needed for castershades. This currently will also up the amount of damage done by your DD and Lifebaine poisons.
Long Wind 1 is generally considered a must so you can sprint while "in combat" with a potion up and not lose endurance.
You'll want to invest to level 3 to level 5 depending on play style, a must for shades for fighting people with slam or assassins that get the drop on you before you can use your remedy ability.
Pop this and you disappear, get a small boost to speed while stealthed along with a few other get away perks, but cannot attack for some time. Investment depends on how often you need to get away from fights, but at leave vanish 1 is not a bad idea.
Viper (either green or purple depending on play style and such)
The higher you take this, the more damage your poisons do. Fantastic against most players, but completely negated by remedy and remedy mimicing reward potions.
Avoidance of Magic
The higher you spec in this, the more you raise your second tier magical resists, not a bad investment
Added power isnt' terrible, but is not as worth it as other abilities
You should have more than enough ability to carry stuff unless you are just running around with rams to drop towers/keeps
Maybe for a castershade....maybe
More hits are never bad, but damage is king on a shade
Useless, plain and simple
Heals are great, but with health regen/health pots, champ heal ability, etc this gets out shadowed
Mystic Crystal Lore
Timered power charge...run power regen/power heal pots instead
Power refresh that is weaker than MCL but can be used in combat, same logic applies as above
If you are running end pots (which you should be if you are playing this class), you will almost never need this
The Empty Mind
Could be useful, but is not a huge bump. You are probably better off taking Avoidance of Magic
You get this realm ability at realm rank 5 without spending points on it, and it's a doozy. Damage mitigation can be the difference between winning a fight and being dead. Like remedy, you need to know when to use this and when not to, but when you need it, it's a huge help.
Weapon Selections (generally most melee based shades will carry anywhere from 6-20 weapons with them so they can swap to keep poisons on a target at all times)
*Note that this is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather an overview of the more popular weapons carried by nightshades. Use what works for you.
Astral Conflagrant Shortsword:
4.2 speed, off hand useable, proc summons a pet that will damage/style on enemies, procs often.
Astral Blade of Illusions:
4.2 speed, proc summons a pet that will style on enemies, procs often
4.2 speed, damage conversion proc
Fine Steel Longsword:
4.2 speed, celerity proc (very useful especially if you aren't running celerity charges)
4.1 speed, 125 delve Heat DoT proc
Depending on version is main hand only or off hand useable, equipping will give you a resist buff of 5% slash/thrust/crush, has fumble (slayer) or end drain (champ) proc
3.5 speed, proc summons vampiric mist that will lifetap the enemy target giving you back health. proc rate is insane
Used to exploit resist holes in people's templates, commonly matter or spirit, though running heaters is not a bad idea as leather is vulnerable to it.
Sword of Sorrow:
4.3 speed, end drain proc, is decent for a swap weapon and only recently became "popular" because of the adjusted stats.
Crocodile's Tooth Dagger:
3.5 speed garbage weapon, but can be used to summon a Blade Shadow which has a dot/disease proc that is nice.
4.2 speed, slash debuff proc and absorb debuff proc.
Astral Mephitic Fang:
4.2 speed, off hand useable, disease + dd proc, very useful for kiting and keeping a target from regaining health
4.0 speed turns a lot of people off, but has a variety of procs (con debuff, dex debuff, disease with 125 value str debuff, dot, etc). Can be hilarious when stacked with poisons and/or high % debuff effectiveness gear
Indy's Skull Piercer:
4.1 speed, 125 delve heat DoT proc
4.3 speed, end drain proc, again became "popular" recently, decent swap but nothing special
4.2 speed, main hand only, debuff reduces target's resistance to pierce damage, can also be used to summon javelins (useable item which does AE DoT, great ranged mass interrupt/way of keeping someone in combat for a bit)
Dagger of the Soulshade:
No longer drops, and has low durability, no 5% bonus to hit players (like artifact, dragon weapons, slayer/champ, etc), but procs a bladeturn that procs a good deal...can win fights.
4.2 speed, pierce debuff proc and absorb debuff proc.
Too varied to cover here, but general rules of thumb:
- For melee templates, you want to keep it main hand independent (no main hand equipped when looking at stats) so you can swap freely without affecting your overall stats much
- 101 in your primary damage based stat (strength for blades, 101 dex and strength for pierce)
- No melee or primary spell resist below 23%, no resist below 18-20%
- High con, hits, armor factor
- Enough quick to get to 250 (can be adjusted for your realm abilities)
- For caster templates, 101 dex, high spell speed, range, damage, and spell pierce.
- Same resists rules as above
- Same high con, hits, and armor factor as above
- Should be using Astral staff of Swarms in the two-handed slot for added damage, range, spell pierce, etc.