Recently, we looked at the Necromancer’s four main-hand weapons. Let’s now turn our beady eyes to the other half of our tool set for death and destruction: off-hand weapons.
Unlike the main-hand weapons, I’d say that our off-hands are somewhat less differentiated from each other. All three offer area control effects to varying extents and as I’ve mentioned in my last article, your choice of off-hand may simply be a case of personal preference.
However, the dagger, warhorn and focus do bring different things to the table; we’ll look at each one in detail.
Dagger: Conditions, works well with scepter and condition builds
The off-hand dagger is certainly far easier to recommend than its main-hand counterpart. In a nutshell, it adds more conditions to our arsenal.
The dagger skill in slot four, Deathly Swarm, synergizes neatly with our Corruption skills by transferring our conditions, inflicted by ourselves no less, to enemies (yeah, I know, we’re lovely that way). It also provides a powerful defense in the form of Blind, which will temporarily shut down attacks from multiple foes, providing some breathing space, to regroup, for example.
Enfeebling Blood provides an area Bleed effect, which should work well with the scepter and condition builds, as well as Weakness. Besides effects that complement conditions from the scepter, the off-hand dagger also works at the same 900-unit range.
Warhorn: Control and mobility, good for axe and dagger users
The warhorn provides our best interrupt in the game with Wail of Doom in slot four. Daze is a strong control effect that can be used both offensively and defensively, in addition to our Fear effects. The downside is Wail of Doom’s relative long cooldown; you only have a 2-second Daze every 30 seconds. The fact that it’s a directional cone effect also means that there’s a chance of missing your intended target in the heat of combat.
The speed buff from Locust Swarm helps you get around the map faster. It also punishes enemies in melee range with its Cripple effect. Unfortunately its long cast time limits its usefulness in combat. A pity, because otherwise Locust Swarm would have been a powerful mobility and escape mechanic for Necros.
Looking at the effective ranges for the two warhorn skills, it is apparent that this off-hand works best with our short-range axe or dagger main-hands.
Focus: Support off-hand for PvE
Compared to the dagger and warhorn off-hands, the focus seems … less focused.
Reaper’s Touch is an area effect that sticks Vulnerability on foes and gives Swiftness to allies. I’m not so certain how useful this is in PvP, since vulnerability hardly stacks high enough in the chaos to matter, and the two effects don’t seem to have much synergy between them.
The focus skill on slot five, Spinal Shivers, is better than the lackluster Reaper’s Touch with a single-target Chill effect and boon removal. However, it’s still underwhelming, relative to the strong effects of the dagger and warhorn.
At this point, I’m thinking that the Focus is really our PvE off-hand. Vulnerability is an important damage multiplier in situations where players are focusing their fire on specific targets – in dungeons, for example. Boss fights would also generally involve moving away from environmental threats, so the Swiftness component of Reaper’s Touch could come in handy for allies. Similarly, in the context of a PvE dungeon, Spinal Shiver would represent our pinpoint crowd control and debuff effect.
Deciding which weapons to use is merely the first step to building your Ubermancer. Traits, gear and gear upgrades should all ideally be tailored to suit your weapons and play style, and they are all great topics for future discussions in this Necromancer column.
As we move closer and closer towards launch, more stats should be firmed up and we’ll have more data to work with. Who knows, the dagger main-hand might shape up to be a potent melee weapon for Necros eventually!
What are your favorite weapon sets and how did you find them in the third beta weekend? Your dark brothers and sisters need to know.