Some of you may have already hit level 80 by now (my main, Gaangnam the asuramancer, did so last week). Congratulations! Now you have the entire game laid out before you like a buffet. For those who are new to our profession, or have just started an alt, this is the second part of the necromancer leveling guide for you (the first part is here).
I’ll be pointing out some leveling milestones that you should be aware of , and highlighting some miscellaneous tips that could well apply to leveling any profession. I’ll also suggest a PvE leveling build for solo and dungeon play, with a detailed explanation of my trait choices.
The staff is a must-have for its excellent AoE skills in dynamic events, where there are frequently large numbers of mobs to deal with. For the other weapon set, I recommend keeping a warhorn for its speed buff. Having said that, I would also use any upgrade that came by while leveling, through drops or karma rewards.
If you’re having trouble dealing with two or three mobs at the same time while soloing in a level-appropriate zone, you may be undergeared. Crafting your own armor or weapon is the expensive option; it’s far cheaper to pick up upgrades at your friendly neighborhood Trading Post.
You may also wish to start hoarding your Karma points at this point, particularly if your cash flow is okay. I would only pick up karma items for looks rather than stats, as you’ll quickly out-level those items anyway. The Tier 3 cultural weapons, available at level 80, are a good indicator of what karma costs look like at the high end: they are a whopping 63,000 karma points per piece!
You’ll pick up your Master’s Training Manual for 1g at level 41, so that you can start gunning for the 20-point major traits. I dropped my 31st trait point in the Soul Reaping line for a build that would eventually look like this at level 50:
I have the following objectives with this build:
1. Maintain a good level of damage output, important for soloing, with 10 points in the Curses line.
2. Capitalize on Death Shroud, the Necro’s bread and butter, for solo and dungeon play. Hence 20 points in Soul Reaping. This line also bumps up critical damage, working hand-in-hand with Curses, which buffs crit chance.
3. 10 points in Blood Magic for Vitality and some durability in dungeon play at these levels.
I’ve left the major traits open because there are a number of options for each slot. Remember that you can select major traits on the fly, depending on what you’re doing in-game. Let’s look at the candidates:
Slot A (10-point major trait in Curses)
Toxic Landing: Very useful when missing a jump is certain death for some jumping puzzles.
Weakening Shroud: Good for dungeons when you need to tank in a pinch. Also useful when soloing.
Slot B (10-pointer in Blood Magic)
Mark of Evasion: Useful while soloing to inflict more damage while you’re dodging your target. Ineffective against mobs with ranged attacks.
Transfusion: Stellar in group play; the healing is phenomenal, even if it only works for others. Your melee folks will thank you for this.
Slot C (10-pointer in Soul Reaping)
Unyielding Blast: This makes your Death Shroud’s auto-attack, Life Blast, so much better. Great for soloing and groups.
Vital Persistence: Good for Death Shroud uptime in a group situation when mobs aren’t hitting on you. At this level though, I’d pick the far less situational Unyielding Blast.
Slot D (20-pointer in Soul Reaping)
Decaying Swarm: Good for soloing when you’re playing fast and loose.
Soul Marks: Returns good Life Force for more Death Shroud goodness in group play. Works nicely if you’re soloing with the staff as well.
My utility skills for soloing: Well of Blood, Corrosive Poison Cloud, Summon Shadow Fiend, Well of Power and Lich Form. For dungeons and other group play, including dynamic events, my utilities are: Well of Blood, Well of Power, Well of Corruption, Well of Darkness and Plague. The second set of utilities is obviously geared towards a supportive role in combat, with the ability to tank in a pinch with Death Shroud and Plague form (spamming Plague of Darkness).
The next 10 levels will involve getting the Curses line up to speed with Soul Reaping to take full advantage of the latter’s crit damage:
Focused Rituals: Great for providing supporting wells in dungeons. I use this to stack up wells with marks, without getting into melee range of hard-hitting mobs.
At level 60, tier 2 cultural armor and weapons become available for use! Again, I won’t recommend picking them up for leveling purposes unless you really like the skins. The armor costs about 1-2 gold a piece, and weapons are 35,000 karma points each.
We’ll work on the Blood Magic line next to boost our health pool further and improve our durability.
Since we’re not hitting the third tier of traits yet, you may wish to postpone the 2g purchase of the Grandmaster’s Training Manual till level 71, even if the book is available for use at level 60.
Here’s what the build will look like at level 70:
Ritual Mastery: If you’re using wells, make sure they become available again quicker! This is a must-have if you’re running supporting wells in group play.
If you’re using daggers, you might want to pick up Dagger Mastery here.
This is it, the home stretch! First order of business: unlock the final tier of traits with Grandmaster’s Training Manual, if you haven’t already done so.
The final 10 points are really a toss-up between Curses and Soul Reaping. You could max out Precision and Condition Damage with the former, or your Death Shroud uptime with the latter. I went 30 in Soul Reaping, since the two damage stats from Curses could be compensated through gear. Besides, it’s hard to pass up on Strength of Undeath and Foot in the Grave in Soul Reaping. The final traits in Curses seem more geared to conditionmancer builds, which I’m not shooting for here.
My level 80 build looks like this:
Slot G (30-pointer in Soul Reaping)
Foot in the Grave: You’re immune to a whole bunch of control effects with Stability for three seconds. Excellent for PvP and even PvE. I’ve noticed more mobs that stun, knockdown, fear, daze and other nasty things at higher level zones. This would probably be important in some dungeon boss encounters.
Besides Foot in the Grave (I just love the name of this trait), remember that you can always pick up lower tier traits, like those highlighted above, to complement your playstyle.
Don’t forget to check out the tier 3 cultural gear in your home city and drool at the 63,000-karma weapons. You’ll also want to bring all your gear up to level 80 with a quick trip to the trading post. I upgraded all mine, including amulet, rings and accessories, to level 80 masterwork gear, as soon as I hit level cap.
That’s it for this week! Let me know what you think of this build in the forums, and I’ll see you in my next column!