Dragon Nest Gearmaster Engineer PvP and PvE Build Guide



Dragon Nest Gearmaster Engineer PvP and PvE Build Guide by Barndoors

Is my guide worth reading?
See for yourself, here is my PvP ladder ranking as of 6th March 2012.

What about PvE?  Well, if you’re going to roll a Gearmaster, you will tear through those monsters with just about any build.  But here’s a general solo bishop normal run time by me.

Introduction
Since there are hardly any Academic guides here at Freedom yet, I’ve decided to write my own.  Whilst the focus of this guide is for PvP, I have included a PvE build as well as a lot of information on the skills.

I must mention that this build takes a lot of information and inspiration from Mon’s Gearmaster guide.  I think Mon’s guide is great and I have learnt a lot from it, I strongly suggest every Academic read it because it’s a nice well of important information.  Many thanks to Mon for writing such a thorough guide!
My build is similar but slightly more catered towards PvP.  I will also provide a bit of PvP related info along with some helpful general strategies.
If you prefer maximizing your PvE damage and providing the best support in Nests, I suggest that you follow Mon’s guide instead.
If you want a balanced build, with some PvP ultilty but also good for PvE, then read on!

My guide is formed purely from personal experience, observations and discussions with other players.  You may or may not agree with the things I write here but I hope that it gives you some extra insight towards the decisions you make when forming your own builds and strategies.

Why Gearmaster?
I believe Gearmasters are a very effective and fun class for both PvP and PvE.  The playstyle is a mix of managing summons (ducks, towers and Alfredo) along with first person shooter elements like aiming, shooting, dodging and lobbing grenades!

If you are thinking about rolling Gearmaster or a Shooting Star, my list of pros and cons may help in your decision.  In my honest opinion, I think Gearmasters and Shooting Stars are very similar and almost identical in playstyle.  Even if you decide to go with Shooting Star, you may still find a lot of info in this guide helpful.

Pros
• Amazing defensive class.  Can ‘turtle’ behind Alfredo and towers.  Especially helpful in ‘protect the leader’ game modes.
• Great offensive toolset.  Can dish out a lot of damage to both monsters and players while locking down opponents.
• Many crowd controlling abilities (slows, stuns, knockdowns).
• Alfredo is a nice friend to have in combat.  He does his own thing while you do yours, or you can work together and wreak destruction on a poor soul.
• Easy to play (but hard to master!).  Put down towers and hide all game will get you some PvP wins.  But playing like this is cheesy and no fun.

Cons
• Very squishy.  Made even worse by the fact that the class does not have an power tumble/blink skill that Sorcs and Archers have.
• Alfredo is very dumb.  I know I listed him as a pro but he’s also a con in the sense that he’s quite unreliable at times.  Don’t make an Engineer thinking Alfredo will kill everything for you!
• In PvP, particularly in ladder, requires ‘setup’ time to fully reach its potential, such as setting up towers and bringing in Alfredo.  Without the setup, Gearmasters (and Shooting Stars) can be very vulnerable.  This can be mostly rectified with a good strategy and game plan, more on this later.
• Bad stigma.  Most say that Engineers are easy to play and are cheap.  Read the following section for more on this.

Gearmasters and Balanced Mode 1v1
For those that are new to PvP, there is an unwritten ‘blacklist’ of skills where a majority of PvP’ers will abide by when playing 1v1 in balanced mode.  Some skills include fire shield of Elemental Lords and Block for Paladins.

I am personally a strong advocator of the blacklist as I believe that the 1v1 experience is a lot more fun when it is fair.  For this reason, I play 1v1 without the use of any towers or Alfredo.  Towers and Alfredo are incredibly frustrating for other classes to play against.  Furthermore, a lot of other players will refuse to PvP against us Engineers because the typical play style is to plant towers and hide behind them all match.  Even without towers, Engineers can be a major force to reckon with.  I have also found that when I can hold my on in 1v1 balanced matches without towers, that I will become even better in ladder matches when I have every I have in my disposal.

I recommend other Engineers to follow my lead on playing without towers in 1v1 balanced mode.  Although I must stress that this is only my personal view and I understand that not everyone will agree with the unwritten ‘blacklist’.  I know that some people just wish to play with everything the developers have given their class and it’s their right to do so.  But just be aware that other players will often get angry or even refuse to play with you if you ignore the blacklist.

PvP Eccentric Build
This build focuses on utility skills like Bio Missile, survivability skills such as damage transition as well as the iframes of Mecha Duck Ex.  Best for ladder and also balanced arena PvP but it is still excellent for PvE.

DPS eccentric build for PvE
Max Gatling Gun and taking Demolition will provide a noticeable DPS increase.  In this build, there are still important PvP skills such as bubble shot and flash grenade.   There is also bio missiles for the very important debuff if you’re aiming to do some end-game nest raids.

If you’re more into PvE but still like to do a bit of PvP, then this could be for you.

Hotbars and Hotkeys (out of date)

Recent patch has turned a lot of Alfredo/Duck skills to passive, which frees up a lot of hotkey space.  My main bar remains the same though, but I have some space on the secondary bar for skill plate and vending machine.

My hotkey setup looks like this, keep in mind that I’ll switch Alfredo Berserker in and out for PvE at the start of the dungeon.  Also keep in mind that once GDN patch comes and many of the skills become passive, a lot of these skill won’t be on the hotbar anymore.
I also switch out bubble shot for Air Shot when doing the last phases of Bishop.  Air shot can take down pillars as well as providing extra damage when on the golem’s head.

Here, I will provide a bit of reasoning behind my choices in the build.

Academic Tree

Triple Shot
This is a very strong DPS skill with a very short cooldown.  For PvP however, thereis a glaring weakness.  As this skill is being used, the character is stuck in the shooting animation for a bit over a second with no way to move or cancel out of the skill.

Using this at the wrong time could result in some major punishment as you are basically a sitting duck.  For this reason, I have only kept at 5 points for skill prerequisite.  But if you decide to max this out, it’s not a bad idea either.

Air Shot
5 points for prereqs.  I have changed my mind about this skill.  It can be extremely useful in certain situations where you want to put someone on their back so that they cannot walk away.
For example, you have someone trapped in gravity grenade but they are still on their feet.  Once the gravity grenade wears off, they can simply walk or tumble away from any further attacks.  That’s where an air shot can knock them off their feet and allow you to combo them off the ground.

Napalm Bomb
3 for prereq to get Stun Grenade.  This skill doesn’t do a whole lot of damage and it’s not very efficient to aim.  Itis nice however, to aim at downed targets as it will hit them multiple times and keep them locked on the ground.  I personally do not have their skill on my hotkey bar as I have no space for it.

Stun Grenade
An excellent skill for PvP.  Has a medium splash radius, 70% stun chance(does not increase with more points) and very fast cast time.  The stun is simply a godsend for Gearmasters and SS, as it gives us ample time to put down towers or throw a Big Mecha Bomb at the target (more on this later).

1 point in this skill is a MUST.  If you have any spare SP, putting it into stun grenade can boost your damage by a little.

VERY IMPORTANT TIP: If there is just one thing you read in this guide, then please let it be this tip.  Stun grenade is seriously an amazing skill, to the point that it’s overpowered.  But so many Academics don’t use it correctly.  After you hit someone with a stun,  DO NOT bash them straight away with attacks.

The way stun works is that the person will gain a certain about of super armor after being stunned (stars circle on their head), if this super armor breaks while the target is still standing, the person will ‘wake up’ from the stun.  Usually, this only takes about 1 skill attack (eg triple shot or rocket jump).  If you wake the target up, then they’re free to tumble and run away or attack you.  

Instead, you should let them fall to the ground first before attacking, you can attack them on the ground and keep them there with all your ducks and towers.  Try to time it so your attack hits them the moment they’re about to face plant on the floor.  I personally like to shoot a mecha duck as the duck will very often follow up with mecha shock, which will keep them pinned to the ground while you set up towers and Alfredo on them.

Wax
Another great PvP skill. It gives a chance to knockdown any opponent that walks inside of the area and gives a nice speedbuff to all ally players.  Use it to chase down someone or just as general crowd control.

For a PvP build, I suggest putting at least 8 points into it, which will give wax a 24% slip chance for any enemies that walk into it.  The best part about it is that Ele Lords that use Flameroad or Paladins that are using any block skills can and will slip on it.  For ladder matches, this is crucial.

Force out (Bombardment)
The range on this skill is very short and somewhat hard to aim.  Not worth the SP to get it.

Summon Alfredo/Recall
Get them and max Alfredo (only 2points).  Alfredo is like adding a very dumb player to your team, which is a good thing.

One major problem I have though, is that Summon Alfredo is on a 1 minute cooldown. In round based arena PvP modes, that’s about 1/3 of the time where you can’t use him.  I really hope thedevelopers do something about this.

Bubble Shot
Amazing PvP skill.  It disables any target that the shot passes through in a bubble for 2.5 seconds.  It actually pierces and goes through them so you can lock an entire team in bubbles with 1 shot if they happen to be closely grouped or lined up together.

That alone makes it one of the best skills in the game BUT here is the real kicker.  It ignores superarmor and any block/parry skills. It is the bane of many classes in this game.
It can even disable elemental lords during their flame road (aka hot rod) and many ultimate attacks.  Even Mercenaries with iron skin buff who are about to dash in to Typhoon your entire team can be stopped short by this skill.  It does not stop Typhoon once it’s in action however.

Extra tip: When using this skill, I like to aim at the feetof the target.  It seems that when it hits the ground, there’s a small invisible splash area and will hit everything in a small radius around the impact to the ground.

Dodge and Aerial Evasion
Max these.  No explanation needed.

Air bomb and Circle bomb (get up attack)
Both of these are very useful in PvP.  Air bomb can be used to knock back targets and to gain a small distance away from them.  Circle bomb is simply needed to save yourself from being combo’ed on the ground.

HP mastery
Max it. HP is everything in PvP.

MP mastery and MP regen
Some of my spare points wenthere.  Not really necessary but good tohave at least 1 point in mp regen for prolonged arena games.  Not really needed for ladder or PvE as youcan easily crest for MP.  It doesn’t cost a lot of SP anyway so put in points here as you see fit.
For serious laddering, I would suggest putting as much points into this as possible.  With the recent MP regen nerf for ladder matches, it’s very often that players will run out of mana before be able to finish off the opponent, even more so when up against high HP and defense Paladins.  I would say 3 in mastery and 3 in regen would be good numbers.  I may change my build in this regard if I start running into serious MP problems.

Engineer Tree

Ping Pong Bomb Fantastic skill overall.  It has a fast animation and also extremely fast projectile speed, making it easy and efficient to aim.  If there are multiple enemies around the target, it will bounce around them up to 8 times (at max level).  It can even bounce to the same target several times for some massive damage in the blink of an eye.  I have often gotten kills on the low hp targets hanging at the back of groups (like the leaders!) by aiming at a target near the front of the group.

Against a single target with no other enemies around them, the ping pong bomb will actually hit them twice.  This makes it very effective in breaking low to medium superarmor attacks and leave the enemy staggering for an easy knockdown.

Your options here are to max it at 12 points for the best overall DPS.
3 points to get prereqs for mine thrower/bio missile
Or simply get 1 point it in for utility purposes.

BIG TIP! : If you are up against a Priest or a Academic that is hiding behind their relics or towers, aim your ping pong bomb at the relic/tower.  It will bounce to the player behind it and it is much easier to aim as these things are stationary.  Not to mention you will get extra range on it from the bounce.  Force Mirror (FU/Mystic skill) and Mushrooms (skill plate from Bishop Nest) are also things you can use to bounce your PP shot off.


Mine thrower (Rain of bombs)
This skill is rather inefficient to aim and does very little damage to small targets such as players.  It is slow to cast is often obstructed by terrain if there is a slope, making the aiming rather wonky.  I would only suggest getting this skill if you are going to get chemical missile.  Despite that, it does have a decent super armor breaking value and can stagger opponents, which can lead to a easy knockdown.  I would say give it a try if you can afford it.

Chemical Missile
If used correctly, chemical missile can be a very nice skill to have.  Although it has a slow animation and the projectile takes some time to hit the ground, the AoE is huge and the explosive effect tends to ‘linger’ around for a little while, making it very hard for players to dodge.  I often see players use tumble as it hit the ground but they still get hit after they have tumbled.  It does some nice burst damage and has a nice debuff but has a very long cooldown, so you really want to make sure you hit your target if you’re going to use it.  It also have very strong super armor breaking capabilities.

If you can spare the points to get this, then I highly suggest taking it.  It is helpful to your team in PvE and provides nice utility in PvP.  However, only take 1 point in this skill as Gearmasters most likely won’t have many SP to spare to put more into this.

Rocket Jump
Excellent skill for kiting and chasing enemies.  Unlike the archer skill chain tumble, which is somewhat similar to rocket jump, it actually does decent damage to targets in the location.  I have personally killed many players this way.
1 point in this skill is enough as increasing it only adds to damage and the main purpose to get this skill is for the mobility.

Tip:The damage portion of rocket jump will actually flinch players.  If you are getting rushed, it’s not a bad idea to dodge AT them and do a rocket jump on top of them, then you can turn around to shoot them for a quick knockdown.

Fake bomb
This is not a bad skill.  However, since the cooldown for rocket jump is only 10 seconds, I believe this skill is often redundant.  Test it out if you got spare reset scrolls and get 1 point in it if you feel that you need it.

Gravity Bomb
This is a very good crowd control skill that does excellent damage even with just 1 skill point.  It has a very fast animation speed and will suck in any enemies near it and keep them in there and paralysed for the whole duration.  It also hits downed players so you can keep them on the ground as you put down towers.  I should also note that this has some very good super armor breaking power but it requires several hits before that can happen.

I would not advise more than 1 point in this skill since SP in the Engineer tree is rather limited.

Alfredo Stomp
Has a nice radius and does decent damage at 1-2 skill points.  There’s no reason to not get this.  The super armor breaking ability of this skill is amazing and can often save you from being combo’ed in ladder.  But only get 2 points for prereqs.

Alfredo Berserker
A good buff for Alfredo.  It’s also a passive now as of the patch, thank goodness.  Get the prerequisite and leave it at that.

Damage Transition
On paper, this skill is fantastic, but there are some faults with this skill that makes it not a good as it could be.

–        When cast while Alfredo is out of combat, it will do nothing.  The cooldown will still activate but he will not do the buff.
–        Sometimes, Alfredo will ‘forget’ to cast it.  This mainly happens if you command him to cast it while he’s in the middle of casting something else such as Whirlwind.
–        I have found that if you are in the air, either due to jumping or from being air juggled by an enemy, you will not receive the damage transition buff.  In PvP, I am often jumping to escape attacks, so I will sometimes miss out of getting the buff.

While these problems can be mostly avoided if you are careful, in the fast paced PvP, there just isn’t time to be worrying about it.  Despite these problems, I still use damage transition whenever it’s off cooldown.

As of my newest build, I have decided to max this skill, which gives a massive 48.4% damage reduction which can be vital in ladder matches.  It will also save your team’s butt in those big nests too.  If prefer to spend your SP in the DPS skills, then at least spend 2 points in this.

Alfredo Whirlwind
This skill does massive damage at 1 point and it’s even more ridiculous at max level.  But unfortunately, Alfredo is an idiot and will often use it when you don’t need him to or not use it when you want him to.

People often suggest that you can just toggle it on when you want him to use it and leave it off otherwise.  This is not reliable as he can still decide to cast other skills.  Furthermore, whirlwind is very easy to dodge, you can clearly see when Alfredo charges up to do it and easily avoid it before it hits.  On classes like Acrobats, you can expect it to never work unless the player is already knocked down.

When it lands however, it can be fantastic as it will most likely lock down the target(s) for the whole duration, allow you to spam skills and drop towers while they’re helplessly dying to his crazy swinging arms.

As of my latest build, I have decided not to spend points into this.  It is sad because I quite enjoying seeing Alfredo open a can-of-whoop-ass with his psycho crazy spinning cutting arms.  But whirlwind is more troublesome than it’s worth when it will often cause damage transition to not cast.  In ladder matches, damage transition can be the sole factor deciding a win or a loss and I just can’t have whirlwind messing up my chances.  Even in PvE, giving your whole party a damage reduction buff is probably more important than a bit of extra damage.

Tip: If you see that Alfredo has casted a failed whirlwind in the corner of the map where there are no players, you can quickly recall him and he will continue to be spinning.  Academic’s seem to be Mercenary magnets, so recalling a whirlwinding Alfredo on top of you can often save your behind.

Gatling Gun Tower
This tower does amazing damage, in fact it is one of the highest overall DPS skill in the game (factoring both damage and cooldown) and it’s damage growth from skill points is even better.  The range is rather short so try to plant it close to the enemy if the situation allows.  Anyone being shot by Gatling Gun will be paralysed unless they have super armor, this is one of the tools you can use to lock a player down.

If you’re the type that wants to maximize your overall DPS, then max this.  Otherwise, just put in 4 points for prerequisites.

Cannon Tower
Compared to all other towers, this one is lackluster.  That isn’t to say that it’s completely useless, it still does decent damage and can break super armor.  But since Engineers can only use 3 towers at a time, all Gearmasters will be using Chainsaw tower instead of this one.

So get only 3 points for prereqs.

Ice Tower
The master of all tower guns!  The damage at max level is simply insane, will shoot at multiple targets and will significantly slow anyone that is hit.  It will often miss if the target is moving (since it lobs the ice up in an arc, similar to the Cerberus attack).  But when it hits, it’s going to rain down and combo them like crazy.
Max this skill, there are no other options!

Tip: To ensure it hits your target, try to lock down the target and keep them still by using skills like gravity grenade, bubble shot and stun grenade.

Flash Grenade
For PvP, 1 point in this skill is a must.  Since Academics do not have a urgency tumble to get themselves out of being paralysed, this is the next best thing.  You will often find this useful in PvE as well.  There are often boss skills in this game that will cause your character to ‘stagger’, if you have flash grenade, you can quickly wake up and dodge any following attacks.  An example would be in Bishop nest, last boss.  The boss has a triple stomp type move where you have to jump to avoid damage.  If you happen to get hit by the first stomp, your character will stagger and will eat the following stomps.  If you have flash grenade, you can quickly wake up to jump dodge the following strikes.

This actually have a very high stun chance, probably as much as stun grenade (70%).  In PvP, this is a bane of many melee classes as you will quickly turn the situation around from being combo’ed, to the one doing the comboing.

Mecha Duck
The is the main tree for Gearmasters.  In PvP, this skill can be utterly overpowered.  Not because of this skill itself but the ones that follow under it.   I’ve seen many Engineers use this just for the sake of summoning ducks, which is a very wrong way to use the skill.  The shot portion on Mecha Duck actually does amazing damage, even with just 2 skill points.  The AoE radius is also quite big and is able to break low levels of superarmor.

Tip: Aiming this skill for longer distances may be tricky.  You have to lob the shot to adjust your aim.  Furthermore, the aiming on the shot itself is a bit weird.  The shot actually comes out a bit to the right of the crosshair, so you need to aim a bit to the left of your target if you are shooting for longer distances.

As of my latest build, I have taken 11 points into this skill so that I can get Mecha Duck Ex.  More will be explained when I get to the EX part.

Mecha Shock and Mecha Siren
The ducks by themselves are very useless.  But give them Mecha shock and siren, and they will quickly become your best friends.

Mecha shock will paralyse players and lock them down for the full duration.  Mecha siren will do nice damage, remove buffs and silence targets too.  These 2 skills provide excellent utility and while you don’t even have to worry about them due to autocast.

2 points in Shock and 3 in Siren for prereqs is good enough.  Putting more points into them would be a waste.

Mecha Bomb
Whilst this skill is amazing for PvE, for PvP this skill rather bad.  The damage and debuff are both great but the problem is getting it to hit.  Since the ducks are so slow, they will rarely be able to catch up to players for it to work.  Players that see ducks usually run away or knock them away.

To make it work, you will need to knockdown and lockdown your opponent to prevent them from moving before you cast Mecha bomb.

4 points for prereq is all you need in this skill.

Engineer Ultimate Skills

In terms of PvP, both of the Engineer Ultimate skills are very disappointing.  Since we can now get dual ultimate for an extra 10 SP, I will go through both of the Engineer ultimates.  My suggestion is to only get Skyline and leave Demolition alone for PvP.  For PvE’ers, picking up Demolition is quite viable.

Demolition
The range is short and it pushes enemies away slowly so they are usually able to wriggle out of the ultimate.  But the biggest problem with this skill is that for the whole duration of 7.5 second, you cannot move other than adjusting your aim.  You are completely exposed while using this skill if you happen to miss, or in group PvP where there are enemies other than your target.  For these reasons, Demolition is a very bad PvP ultimate.

For PvE, Demolition is generally considered better for the damage and the ability to use it anywhere (whereas, Skyline won’t hit against some enemies).  But be aware that the damage is only better if you can shoot through the whole duration and you will need to stand still the whole time.

Skyline
This skill is a tiny bit better than Demolition but only by a little.  It is VERY slow to cast, you have to wait for the animation of shooting out the bullet and then wait for the duckies to fly in to hit the target.  The range isn’t very long an and the AoE radius is really small.  Players that get caught up in it are often able to get out if they are near the edge of the attack.  If you manage to hit your target and get full damage duration on them, then this skill can do some amazing damage.  But it takes a bit of setup and effort to get it right.

For PvP, I recommend only getting Skyline as an ultimate, since it’s a prereq for Gearmaster skills.  If you’re a serious PvE’er, I would recommend getting Demolition with double ulti since it’s a lot more efficient in nests.

Gearmaster skills

Chainsaw Tower
Very high burst damage and short cooldown.  The cooldown is so short that you can put up 2 of these at once but I don’t recommend it as you will make one of your other towers (gatling and ice) disappear.  The ‘saws’ also pierces targets so it can hit multiple enemies if they are bunched together.

Max this at 2 points.  Once you get it, replace cannon tower and use this instead.

Big Mecha Bomber
My absolute favourite skill for PvP.  The burst damage is insane.  Who doesn’t like killing squishy elemental lords from 50% to 0 in 1 hit?  Using this correctly takes a bit of practice.  It is bad to simply spam this off cooldown as it has a charge time and short range.

Tip: Best way to use this skill is immediately stunning or bubble shotting the target with a stun bomb.  By the time they’re done being dizzy and have fallen to the ground, your bomb will have fully charged and they will be eating explosive Peking duck.  But you must be on perfect timing and charge this big duck as soon as you’re done throwing your stun grenade or shooting bubble shot.  You will need to be confident that stun/bubble will hit as you will be charging the fat duck as the grenade/bubble is still travelling through the air!
It also works well if you have your towers or Alfredo locking down a target as you charge up the bomb.

Mecha Duck Ex
This part has gone through a drastic change, if you’ve read my guide in the past, you may want to read this again.
As of my latest build, my view on this skill has somewhat taken a 180.  If you have read Mon’s GM guide, you should know this skill does not have many benefits in terms of damage.  The damage increases but it’s not so significant for the amount of points you need to invest it in and also in Mecha Duck, which is why my old build as well as Mon’s build skips out on the EX and points go into max higher dps skills like gatling gun and ping pong shot.

But because this skill has iframes, it is actually an incredible skill for PvP.  What is iframes?  It stands for invincibility frames, basically it refers to the short moments of invincibility that some skills will give the character which prevents them from being damaged.  You may have already noticed that there is iframes on all tumble/blink/dodge skills and other skills such as the Paladins Shin Breaker.  But why does Mecha Duck Ex have iframes?  Nobody knows.  It could be a bug for that matter.  But it exists and here’s my demostration.


(Thanks to Arle for helping with the video)

Since the ducks are so slow at walking, the ranged fireballs that the ducks shoot can become very useful against players that like to run around.

My old build does not involve Mecha Duck Ex, which instead gains a bit of extra damage from points saved towards some higher dps skills.  But if you’re a serious PvP’er, I would highly suggest that you take the Ex and practice on timing the iframe.  Skills like Ice Sword Ex, Relic Ex and even fireballs are nothing to fear once you master this skill.

Equipment

For laddering, I suggest the following suffix:
Helm (Mana II)
Body (Life II)
Legs (Life II)
Gloves (Life II)
Boots (Life II)
Cannon (PvP Bind)
Timble (PvP Slow)

If you can afford multiple helmets (including enhancing and sparking), you can use different elemental resist suffix on several helmets and switch them out as needed.  Ie,
– Light resist vs Paladins
– Dark resist vs Dark weapon Mercs or Force Users
– Ice/Fire vs Elestras/Selena

For gear sets, I would rate Brave (ladder) set > PvP (50A) > Totem > 50A (No set).

Brave and PvP sets have a 5 piece bonus that has all elemental resist, this provides amazing survivability in ladder where elemental damage is king.  Try your best to get this 5 piece bonus.

Poor man’s gear choice for PvE
Can’t afford full FD, full GDN and +14 weapons?  Me neither.

So I’m using a much more cost effective gear set that still does excellent damage in PvE.

Totem Helm (Windswept II)
Totem Body (Windswept II)
Totem Legs (Windswept II)
Totem Gloves (Life II)
Totem Boots (Life II)
+10 Brave/Green Dragon Cannon (Windswept)
+10 Brave/Green Dragon Timble (Destructive)

Everything with agility + HP potentials.

I’ve done quite a bit of number crunching on damage formulas and FD ratios.  Provided that you’re not rich enough to buy FD 3rd option plates and the cash shop full wings/tattoo/glow set, this would provide more damage than a full totem set (including Apo rings) against lv50 targets.  Against level 40 targets, a full totem set is only slightly better.

The beauty of the 50S weapons is that you can get some nice potentials on them.  Getting ice and/or dark element %, it is actually a very good thing.  It means you can get a 8 or 16% boost on your ducks or a tower.  How?  Refer to this thread for more details.

I had some luck with both of my weapons and I now have 20% ice elemental.  I can consistently add 20% extra damage to my chainsaw tower along with my ice tower, provided that the target does not have ice resist.  20% is massive considering you have 90% crit rate (crit cap) and the fact that these two towers are some of the top damage per CD skills in the game.  To top it off, if you have an Acro in your party to give you spirit boost, your towers will have an increased attack rate.  Overpowered much?

Life vs Windswept suffix (armor) for PvE

This is always a topic for debate.  So I’ve decided to add a section just to outline my views on it.

At about 120,000 HP (can be achieved with about +8 totem life armor), full life set will heal you for about 8,280 HP.  Full life suffix is at it’s best if you get hit a lot with small-medium damaging attacks at frequent intervals, since the trigger has a 5 second cooldown.  This is why it’s so amazing in ladder.

However, when you talk about survivability in PvE, it is only relevant when doing SDN and GDN.  In these dungeons, if you get hit, you generally get hit very hard.  It is usually something that will kill you in 1 hit or easily do 80k+ damage.  If it is a small hit, then you will ALWAYS have a saint or inq to heal you up.  It’s their job and that’s why we always bring at least 1 healer in every party.  When it’s about single heavy blows like that, life suffix is almost useless.  An 8k heal from 80k damage means almost nothing because if you get hit again, you will die regardless.

If you get Windswept on your body and leg armor instead, you will gain a massive boost to agility especially with the new suffix II, along with agility potentials you have on your equipment.  You will gain more damage and you will no doubt reach the crit cap.

The only time life suffix shines in PvE is if you are doing something like solo’ing hell bishop where there is no healers present to save your behind.

Accessories

Neck/Earrings – Either windswept or vitality/hp.  Damage transition skill necklace is great if you can afford it.
Rings – Destructive.  If you can get skill rings, super duck/chainsaw tower/ice tower are all valid options.

Heraldry

Agility
Critical
MP
HP
MP regen
Vitality
Final Damage
Physical Damage

Final Damage is strictly for PvE purposes.  MP and MP regen plates extremely helpful necessary for laddering.  You can consider adding magical and physical defense plates in that order if you want to skip on final damage or if you have the cash shot plate slot expansion.

I run with the Bishop mushroom plate as it does amazing damage if you can get all 3 of them to hit your opponent.

Skill crests

I currently use the following skill crests, it maximizes PvP utility rather than damage:
– Big mecha bomber (damage)
– Ice tower (cooldown)
– Wax (cooldown)
– Damage transition (cooldown)

If you are following the old build where you have maxed Ping Pong Bomb and Gatling Gun, then you may want to swap out Wax and Damage Trans for:
– Ping Pong Bomb (damage)
– Gatling Gun (cooldown)

Why choose damage over cooldown crest for Big Mecha Bomber?  I believe it is a skill that you only want to use only when you are able to safely charge it up to full and have a  high chance of hitting your target with it.  Putting these factors together, it’s definitely not something that you want to spam.  Therefore, I personally value the increased damage over cooldown reduction for the skill crest.

Other viable skill crests:
– Dodge (cooldown)
– Mecha Duck (cooldown) if you have taken the Ex, which will allow you to use iframes more often.
– Rocket Jump (cooldown)

Now that we can recover crests for 45g, it’s not a bad idea to switch in a Mecha Bomb (cooldown) skill crest if you are going to do some PvE.  The debuff is an excellent support tool for your party, although I don’t recommend the crest for PvP.

General PvP Strategy (this needs a bit of updating)

A Gearmaster is at her best when she has her opponents surrounded by towers, ducks and Alfredo.  But the problem is getting your opponents into such a situation.  No enemy is going to freely allow you to plant towers and shoot ducks all you want, nor will they stand still and watch your towers destroy them.
Most players, when they see a Gearmaster (or a Shooting Star) will do 1 of 2 things.

1. Rush madly and catch the Gearmaster off guard without the protection of her towers.
2. In the case that there’s towers up, they’ll keep their distance and either throw some range skills or simply wait for an opportunity to strike.

In the case of scenario 1, having a class like Elemental Lord or a Merc hounding at you can mean a swift end if you don’t handle it correctly.  This is why you need a good general strategy to deal with it.

The strat

Luckily, the developers have given us a lot of skills to lock down a player in place.  One thing NOT to do when you have someone rushing at you, is to just stand there and plant towers.  Towers have an animation time and during this time, you’re very vulnerable to getting attacked.  Instead you should use bubble shot, gravity grenade or  stun grenade to first disable their advance.  If you happen to miss the attack, don’t just stand there, rocket jump away to get some distance before attempting another skill.  Once they have been stopped, put down 1 or 2 towers and before they a chance to move again, hit them with another disabling attack and just repeat the process.

Other classes often talk about combo strings and what skill chain well with other skills.  In some ways, this works with Gearmasters as well.  I generally like to use the follow ‘combo’:

Stun Grenade > Ice tower > Bubble Shot > Summon tower > Gravity Grenade

This combo is best for laddering.  Stun grenade is relatively easy to aim and has a wide radius.  It is always important to put down an ice tower down while you continue to lock down the opponent with another skill.  Once the ice tower hits the players, they will be slowed and you will gain a massive advantage over them as they will find it hard to attack you and even harder to run away.
Another combo I like to use is:

Stun Grenade > Bubble Shot > Super Mecha Duck

As I mentioned before, stun grenade is easy to aim and hit.  Once they are stunned, you will have a clear shot at them with bubble, which will also give you ample time to charge up a super mecha duck right after.  Preferably, you should shoot the bubble shot once the player has fallen to the ground, so that they after they at hit by super mecha duck, they are still on the ground and you can hit them with another attack without them running away.

I also find that shooting Mecha Duck onto knocked down opponents to be very effective.  The shot portion will do damage and keep them on the ground, as the duck is summoned, it often like to cast Mecha Shock straight away, further keeping the player locked down to the ground.

If you find that you have no skill cooldowns left to disable the advance of an enemy, try to jump around doing air normal attack and air shot.  I find that many classes are not able to hit us in the air as we have extra air time when we do our normal air attacks.

Videos

My youtube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/FoXfiVe

These ladder videos are out of date, they were taken when I first started laddering and tactics over time and at higher ratings have changed a lot.  Unfornuately, with my current system, the FPS drops whilst recording ladder matches is quite bad.  I can’t afford to have screen lag when I do ladder or I can risk losing a lot of points.  Maybe I will do more ladder videos when I buy a new system that can handle some HD recording!

Archbishop Norm Solo

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