TSW Rifle Leech Healing Complete Guide by Claretta2
Benefits and drawbacks of leech healing
Leech healing is popular in The Secret World, and for good reason. Leech healing brings many benefits to healing. The most obvious is you bring added DPS. A good leech healer can do between 1,000 and 3,000 sustained DPS while still healing a group through the toughest content in the game.
This makes dungeon runs faster, and lets you skip some boss mechanics due to the higher DPS. Here for example, is a recent raid parse…
As a healer, leech healing also brings incredible spike healing. This is due to its ability to draw on DPS buffs like penetrations. A leech builder shot can sometimes heal for more than a fist healing consumer, and the leech consumers can go upwards of 15,000 healing in a single shot (occasionally).
However… the drawback to leech healing is that it is very complex. Leech healing was dismissed for months in The Secret World simply because most didn’t understand it. It’s far easier to just load crit rating and let Empowerment spam do your healing for you.
Leech healing is also gear-dependent. Until you understand leeching, and have at least 10.2 custom gear, you probably won’t be adding more DPS to the group than you could if you were just a blood/ele healer bringing Short Fuse, Authority, and Final Fuse.
So this guide, built on my previous ‘Reaper’ guide, takes a fairly technical approach to explaining leech healing. You’ll learn not only what I recommend after months of playing a leech healer, but also why it’s recommended based on the underlying game mechanics.
The title Reaper comes from the elite skill Reap and Sew, as it’s the signature elite. Plus it easily differentiates my approach from the offshoot of ‘DPS-healing’.
Speaking of these offshoots, many players have contributed to this knowledge. These players include: Nipsnaps, rrauwl, Soahl, jonnymonroe, digirati, Talrindar, Ithule, Shatiya, leiserl, Eth-, Handfish, Mixia, bloodline, bloodlite, RunningoutofHP, bluemoon, Pixxiedust, Nilandros, VinceUK. Shadai, KemosabeTBC, frzn, Simurg, Ciritty, Riora, and LaurellMaerk.
If parts of this guide or my previous guides are used in any other guides, I would appreciate being credited. Otherwise… this hurts me.
1. Cutting into the cosmos – the math of anima and anti-anima
3. The two rules for Reaper glyphing
4. How to gear up
5. Choosing rifle skills
6. Choosing secondary weapons
7. Choosing the auxiliary weapon
8. Choosing passives
9. Mods you need
10. Overcoming damage reduction and reflection shields
11. Solo builds
12. Raid healing
This is an end-game guide for nightmare and raid healing. While it can be tried before this, results aren’t guaranteed due to the differences in content balance.
Cutting into the cosmos – the math of anima and anti-anima
Anima is complex. Accounting for anti-anima even more so. There’s an opinion that leech healing is ‘hard’. In reality, this comes more from the difficulty of understanding the equations behind anima and hence using a sub-optimal build, making mistakes, and unleashing filth when you’re meant to be healing.Oh God.
So the only place to start is with an extensive math lesson. Before we do, however, I’ll list the main points to remember:
1. Leech healing is maxed by a careful mix of additive and multiplicative boosts.
2. The order of multiplicative boosts is unimportant, so multiplicative buffs like exposed, penetrations etc are worth exactly the same in terms of leech healing done for any kind of attack rating/heal rating split.
3. Execution signets are much better than Hunger signets (though Hunger are much cheaper and will provide a few extra benefits like extra healing from Reap and Sew and Anima Vessel).
4. The hard-coded weighting of attack rating and heal rating in the individual skills is the most important determinant of the optimal attack rating/heal rating split. Most leech skills lean towards a 50/50 split.
5. Anyone who claims that a particular set of passives or gear makes a different attack rating/heal rating split do more healing than what the hard-coded skill weightings dictate is violating the laws of multiplication and the cosmos.
6. Anti-anima modifiers like glances and blocks are important to avoid, because they’ll probably hurt you at a higher rate than your own positive modifiers can compensate for.
7. Healing is spiky and so minimum healing spikes and incoming damage spikes need to be accounted for, rather than just sustained DPS or healing per second.
These seven points can be explained by six rules.
Rule 1: Some boosts are additive, and some are multiplicative
The basic building blocks of leech healing are additive and multiplicative percentage boosts. Some are additive with the base damage, and others are multiplicative of the additives.
This is explained by the following nine equations used to determine how much healing you do when leeching. Please note that this is a summary that simplifies the real calculations that go on:
1. Base damage = (attack rating coefficient x weapon power coefficient = combat power) x base skill damage
2. Modified base damage = (base damage x damage additive 1) + (base damage x damage additive 2) + (base damage x base damage additive 3).
3. Final damage = Modified base damage x damage multipliers x target defense modifier (reduced damage depending on whether your hit was mitigated, glanced, evaded, or blocked).
4. Base leech rate = (heal rating coefficient x weapon power coefficient = healing power) x base skill leech rate
5. Modified base leech rate = (base leech rate x heal additive 1) + (base leech rate x heal additive 2) + (base leech rate x heal additive 3).
6. Final leech rate = modified base leech rate x heal multipliers.
7. Base direct healing (for the green heal of Anima Shot) = (heal rating coefficient x weapon power coefficient) x (base skill direct heal) + (base direct healing x heal additive 1)
8. Final direct healing = base direct heal x heal multiplier 1 x heal multiplier 2 x heal multiplier 3.
9. Final total healing = (Final damage x final leech rate) + final direct healing.
…which is leech healing in a nutshell. More than three additives and multipliers can be applied at the same time, I just limited them to three in the example equations to save space.
Now the trick is to understand where boosts fall into those equations. Here is a probably-mostly correct list:
• Experience (20%)
• Twist the Knife (9%)
• Eagle Eye (10%)
• Anima Boost (7.5%)
• Lethality (10%)
• Cool, Calm and Collected/Fluid Defense/Probability (8%)
• Ferocity (9%)
• Highly Strung (10%)
• Fury (7%)
• Knuckle Down (10%)
• Do or Die (25%)
• Energise (40%)
• Reckless (20%)
• Armor Fati (10%)
• Subway Tokens (1% – 10%)
• Signet of Execution (3%)
• Exposed (30%)
• Improved bursts (7.5%)
• Closer (7.5%)
• Accuracy (5%)
• Critical hit damage (determined by crit damage multiplier)
• Penetrating hit damage (determined by target mitigation and Signet of Breaching)
• Short Fuse (15% or 25% with passive)
Target defense negative damage multipliers:
• Normal mitigation applied to every non-penetrating hit (around -10% base, going higher depending on boss)
• Glance damage reduction (-60%)
• Blocked hit reduction (-33% normally, but going as high as -80%-90% for some bosses)
• Evaded hits (-100%)
• Experience (20%)
• Eagle Eye (10%)
• Twist the Knife (9%)
• Anima Boost (7.5%)
• Improved bursts (7.5%)
• Knuckle Down (10%)
• Closer (7.5%)
• Do or Die (25%)
• Energise (40%)
• Reckless (20%)
• Armor Fati (10%)
• Signet of Hunger (3%, but only to leeches)
• Backup Drone (30% on target)
• The Greater Good (15%)
• Critical heal ‘damage’ (same as crit damage, but only applied to direct heal components of skills, not leeches. Hence Anima Shot gets a critical hit damage check on its damage portion used for leeching, and a separate critical heal damage check on its much smaller ‘green’ direct heal portion. These two crits can occur independently of each other.)
Rule 2: Multiplicative buffs get better with more boosts
The more boosts you have in a build, additive or multiplicative, the better each multiplicative boost becomes. The reason for this is that the value of additive boosts gets “locked in” early on, and so does not necessarily benefit from later boosts, whereas multiplicative boosts come at the end, so do benefit from everything. This can be shown by a series of examples.
1. If Anima Shot hits for 100, and scores a critical hit of 50% bonus damage, then the crit is worth 50 damage, for a total of 150 damage.
2. If Anima Shot is buffed by Experience to cause 120 damage, and the same 50% critical is scored, then that critical is worth 60 points, for a total of 180 damage.
3. If we push all that damage to be multiplicative, and so Anima Shot is not buffed by Experience, but scores a critical hit for +70% crit damage, then the critical is worth 70 points, but the final shot only does 170 damage. It hits for less damage than buffing the base damage first, even though it added 25% more crit damage.
Now let’s add more passives.
4. If Anima Shot is buffed by Experience, Twist the Knife, and Lethality, then the same hit lands for 139 damage. The 50% critical would then land for 69.5 damage, for a total of 208.5 damage.
5. However, if the critical was somehow converted into additive damage, then the result would be:
100 + 20 + 9 + 10 + 50 = 189 damage. This is smaller than the split approach of high base damage x multiplication damage.
6. However, if we were to convert everything to multiplicative damage, we’d score the highest: 100 x 1.2 x 1.09 x 1.1 x 1.5 = 215.82. As multiplicative boosts get rolling and stacked, they outperform additive boosts. But… you can’t just get all multiplicative damage.
As such, this rule, qualified by practicalities, dictates that you need both additive base damage and multiplicative damage in a build to hit the highest DPS and healing. Additive boosts are easy to acquire and provide the quickest early gains, while more multiplicative buffs provide the biggest gains when they’re added on top.
Rule 3: The order of multiplicative boosts is not important
The order in which multipliers are applied does not matter. This has significant gearing implications when you consider that the leech rate itself is a multiplier.
For example, consider this comparison of Execution signets (rifle damage multiplier) and Hunger signets (leech rate multiplier).
Attack rating lean:
(70 damage x 1.09_execution signet) x .30 leech = 22.89 healing
70 damage x (.30 leech x 1.09_hunger signet) = 22.89 healing
Now let’s reverse the numbers to give a different heal rating/attack rating split to lean towards heal rating:
(30 damage x 1.09_execution) x .70 leech = 22.89 healing
30 damage x ( .70 leech x 1.09_hunger) = 22.89 healing
As you can see, it doesn’t matter whether you use Execution or Hunger signets for healing, regardless of your attack rating or heal rating. The only difference is that Execution signets give you 9% more DPS and are therefore dramatically better.
This doesn’t change even if you include extra DPS passives like Lethality. The healing numbers stay exactly the same for both signet types regardless of the passive loadout.
(That said, Hunger Signets do buff both Reap and Sew and Anima Vessel more than Executions, both of which are very powerful skills.)
This also holds true for other multiplicative buffs such as penetrations. While penetrations will give more DPS, the value of these penetrations won’t change in terms of total healing done, because leech rate and penetrations are both multipliers.
To show this, we can plug penetrating hits of 50% into the above equations:
(70 damage x 1.09_execution signet x 1.5_penetrating hit) x .30 leech = 34.335 healing
(30 damage x 1.5_penetrating hit) x (.70 leech x 1.09_hunger signet) = 34.355 healing
We can keep adding in various additive and multiplicative buffs all day. As long as the balance weighting of the skill stays fixed (in that taking attack to 70 will result in sending leech down to 30 and vice versa), all boosts are worth the same to either build.
Rule 4: Skill weighting determines healing
Building on from Rule 3, Rule 4 states that the hard-coded weighting of the worth of attack rating and heal rating values in the individual skill will determine potential healing done. I.e: You can’t game the skills with buffs or passives to get more healing out of an attack rating/heal rating split that does not follow the hard-coded weights.
This graph by Handfish shows Transfuse Anima follows a 50/50 split:http://i.imgur.com/Q1i9Z.gif
This means that it is buffed half by attack rating, and half by heal rating. Applying more attack rating at the expense of heal rating means that half of the skill is getting ignored, and hence why the healing curve goes downwards.
The converse is true as well. Going too far towards heal rating ignores the attack rating component of the skill, and so with 100% heal rating, the skill is only being scaled 50% by your stats.
Conversely, Anima Shot favours slightly more heal rating due to its direct heal component: http://i.imgur.com/JgHdg.gif
Although very small, it is the direct heal component of Anima Shot, the heal over time of the Quantum, and any pure heals of secondary weapons like Blood that can throw the favoured heal rating/attack rating split towards heal rating.
This difference will get less pronounced if passives and multiplicative buffs are used which only affect the leach components are used, such as Energise, Do or Die, Lethality, and penetrations. These boosts, which only boost the attack-leech portion of Anima Shot, will move the skill’s preferred heal rating closer back to 50/50. However, because the leech weighting is locked at 50/50, this split cannot be changed, ever.
Also, if you use skills which have a 100% attack rating lean like the elementalism manifestations, then you’ll get more out of attack rating.
Rule 4 also suggests that contrary to my previous guide, diminishing returns don’t really matter. By the time you push a stat to encounter heavy diminishing returns, you’re already far off the ‘optimal’ inherent skill weighting. Hence, it’s more accurate to simply look at the hard weighting.
Rule 5: Damage and healing have negative multipliers
Leech healing also has to contend with the various negative multipliers that reduce damage (i.e. anti-anima). These include:
• Debilitated (on yourself)
• Corrupted (on your heal target)
• Damage reduction shields (like in Hell Fallen and Hell Eternal… usually equal to having every single hit blocked)
• Glance hits (final damage x 0.4, plus cannot crit, plus will hurt your Lethality base damage)
• Evaded hits (no final damage)
• Blocked hits (about final damage x 0.2-0.7, plus cannot penetrate)
• High physical mitigation (variable depending on target, but can be beaten by penetrations)
These will kill your healing. As such, every leech healer needs tactics to avoid these negative multipliers. Often, removing these negatives will produce greater gains than going for positive multipliers. So pushing glances and blocks down to 0% will often have more effect than pushing crits up by the same rate.
Rule 6: Healing is spiky
While leeching is determined by damage, sustained DPS and healing are two very different things. A tank will take spike damage, from penetrations and attacks such as Charged Hack. Building on Rule 5, a missed or blocked leech hit may also result in a downward healing spike, which is just as serious as an incoming damage spike. If both occur at once – high damage + low healing, then the tank may die.
Therefore, this rule states that smoothing out spikes is important, in addition to average damage or healing per second numbers. This is done by taking high hit and penetration, taking passives that buff different parts of healing (such as a builder passive to increase sustained healing on the builder), and using tricks like Elemental Force on builder shots to have two healing spikes per rotation (Elemental Force builder shot and Transfuse Anima consumer shot).
Overhealing vs flexibility – the correct balances of attack and heal rating
As we just discussed, the hard-coded weighting of attack rating and heal rating in the leech skills determines the maximum healing per second. Tests indicate that these weights are 50% attack rating and 50% heal rating.
However, the correct balance between attack rating and heal rating is a controversial subject with opinions ranging from 60% heal rating right down to 33% heal rating, with the rest being put into attack rating.
Some people also favour going far towards attack rating (as much as 66% or even 75% of your stats in attack rating) due to the desire to avoid overhealing and contribute more DPS. The argument here is that more healing is useless if the tank is still standing, and thus DPS is the only way to increase your group contribution, even if it’s not the optimal theoretical highest healing.
So, what should you do?
The answer to this question is fairly easy to show, based on a few guidelines.
• First, you should not let the tank get in danger too much, but neither should you be paranoid and insist they always stay at full HP. Personal preference of course, but pushing yourself will make you a better player aware of the boundaries, and wipes don’t mean a thing at the end of the day as long as the content gets done.
• Second, be aware of diminishing returns and ways to circumvent them. Past 3,200, AR gives just a few percent of gains. However, from 500 – 1,500 heal rating, you’re looking at a 20% increase in healing. Therefore, it makes little sense to remove all heal rating, just to force you into using heal skills like Transfuse Anima and Experience that nerf your DPS by more than you gain from AR.
You are far better off taking more heal rating to buff your Anima Shot, and easing up on the heal skills, like using Fire in the Hole instead of Transfuse Anima, and taking Cool, Calm and Collected instead of Experience. Cool, Calm and Collected with 1500 heal rating and 3000 attack rating gives both higher healing and higher DPS than Experience with 4000 attack rating and 500 heal rating.
• Third, you can use pure anima to change your numbers a bit. For example, with just 1400 heal rating on talismans, drinking a pure heal anima will increase this to 1640 heal rating, giving you about a 6% increase to total healing done. Alternatively, you can also drink attack anima to go higher, for a smaller 4% increase or so to DPS at this kind of split.
• Fourth, a lot of healing comes from glyph stats, so heal rating can be lowered as glyph stats rise, as long as you bear in mind the point about not going too far into attack rating diminishing returns.
So the answer? Take a strong enough base of heal rating to get through the content and allow you to use pure DPS skills and passives if you want to DPS. In 10.5 gear, I stick with a base of 1400 heal rating, as my DPS rotations give more DPS than simply piling on attack rating, and the heal rating ensures I can maintain those rotations without interrupting them to use heal consumers, or have to take healing passives.
Leechers, is there anything they can’t do?
The second controversy which goes around is the idea that fist healers are some maligned endangered species, like whales or dolphins, and that leeching is good for everything.
The truth is that both leechers and fist healers have their place. The main problem that arises is that leechers are often played by players intent on minmaxing their builds, while fist healers are played by tohse looking for a more relaxed approach.
However, you can min-max a fist build just fine.
For example, it’s very common to see fist healers in the raid sport only 2910 HP, and carry pistols for backup. However, it’s also possible to be a raid fist healer with 7000 HP, tank stats, and wield a sword. I have seen raid fist healers – the really good ones – heal the tanks, heal DPS, catch pods, and tank adds, all at the same time.
Leechers cannot do all this.
Doing so much for the group takes a lot of effort, but really does contribute. This means that you do not need to distract one DPS from pod duty, the adds do not need to be taken down as quickly, and in final resort, both tanks can go on the boss to burn it because the fist healer is swinging their sword against adds like Captain Jack Sparrow. (The link is funny.)
If you want more information on this playstyle, I recommend reading Jgater’s guide to fist healing.
One final point is that a fist or blood healer with Authority, Short fuse, Final Fuse, and a binding whip will probably add more DPS to the group than a beginner-average leecher. Only high end leechers will truly justify their DPS.
How to glyph
You have about 2040 glyph stats at 10.4, plus 100 or so from an anima. The stats to aim for when going up to 10.4 level are: (in order)
1. 650 hit
2. 850-900 penetration
3. 300-400 crit power
4. 300 crit rating
To get these numbers you will need to use an anima, which you generally should at all times. If using Elemental Force and timing a blood magic consumer to it, you can also cheat a bit by taking all crit on the rifle, and crit power on the blood focus.
Here is an example of a 10.4 setup which achieves this:http://joakibj.com/tswcalc/#weapon=4…4,2,0,4,0,3,48 Click swap weapon to see the blood focus stats and add in pure anima and glyph anima to taste (experiment with them).
10.5 gear gives about 230 more glyph points, for a stat budget of about 2389 with crit anima. The important thing is to not overdo any one stat, but add slightly to the minimums. If we take values of 650 hit, 1000 penetration, 350 crit power, and 300 crit (and again cheating with the rifle and blood weapons) we get a total of 2300.
Here is the 10.5 set I am working towards:
By fusing an alternate neck talisman as shown in the second picture, can take hit down to fit in more crit power for dungeons which do not require high hit.
An alternative way to do this that’s popular is to get hit only from the major talismans: http://i.imgur.com/XnDNOoE.jpg
The two hit majors are a very clean way to get hit rating, which is what makes it popular, especially for swapping between different roles (and at the sixth astral fuse it gives four more total glyph points).
However, I prefer the first approach due to the greater flexibility with the hit rating stat.
The most important stat, hit is used to avoid glances and evades. Not only does this make healing and DPS more stable, but also gives DPS improvements by letting you run Lethality and the Subway Tokens (if you have them).
The bare minimum hit to avoid glances is 650. However, in later instances like Hell Eternal and Slaughterhouse you may want slightly more.
This is why some additional hit up to 700 can be useful, but too much hit will take away from other stats. Don’t go above 650 until 10.5, and even then you may not want to. You can also use QL9 hit anima to raise hit higher than 700 when needed.
Penetration makes healing more stable by removing blocks, as well as acting as a damage multiplier in itself. A penetrating critical will do over twice the damage of a normal critical, which makes penetration a good compliment to high crit power.
Penetration competes directly with the target’s block rating – the higher the block, the higher penetration you need. Dungeons with notably high block are Polaris, Hell Eternal, and Slaughterhouse. The raid has moderately high block. For all these instances, 900 penetration + Iron Maiden is enough to remove most blocks and have a good penetration rate.
Iron Maiden in itself will not make up for low penetration, as you first need to beat enough of the target’s block rating with straight penetration rating. For example, if you only have 500 penetration, Iron Maiden will not help you in Hell Eternal at all.
Penetration does not suffer from as severe diminishing returns as other stats, making it useful as a stat dump. This is because it only starts to hit diminishing returns at the corresponding target block rating.
When both penetration of the attacker and block of the defender are equal, both have a 9% chance to penetrate and block respectively. As more penetration rating is added, this reduces block chance while increasing penetration chance. However, penetration rating below the block rating is more or less useless.
Therefore, if a nightmare monster has 700 block rating, you can reliably go up to, and past 1,000 penetration without suffering much penalty, and you will need to approach 700 penetration just to break even.
Related is that the higher your crit power goes, the higher penetration needs to be, due to the interaction between the two. A good rule of thumb is that for every 10% of crit power, you need 90 penetration, plus Iron Maiden. So if you are using Brawler, a Laceration signet, and the Coney Island Band to go as high as 110% crit damage, you will need 1,000 penetration with Iron Maiden.
Crit power is a significant damage multiplier. Elemental Force lets you always critical hit a five-resource consumer, which is where your main damage comes from. Therefore, crit power is often just a straight multiplier of consumer damage.
Crit power is unique that so much can come from signets and passives. If taking Brawler and an epic Laceration signet, you may only want 180 crit power on talismans to ensure you have a high enough penetration rating to support such power.
The best way to get more crit power while maintaining decent crit rating is to put crit rating on your rifle, and crit power on the secondary weapon (usually a blood focus) to be used exclusively on Elemental Force.
Crit rating is a luxury stat. After 700 hit, 800 penetration, and 300 power, you simply do not have many points left. If you need crit, the best place to get a lot of it is a crit rating anima, since these give 119 glyph points, and can be bought in the store for 10 cents each.
However, crit rating is valuable to activate signet effects, which means that 300 crit is still good, and if you have the high-end gear to support it, up to 450 is useful.
The three signets which activate on critical hits or heals worth using are a Signet of Laceration, Signet of Thirst, and Coney Island Band.
The Signet of Laceration procs off critical hits, but does not apply to the hit which triggers it. Therefore, the highest DPS gain from this signet is to proc it using a builder shot before Elemental Force, especially if your group fires Breaching Shot before your elemental force hit.
The Signet of Thirst gives your defensive target a 30% leech effect for 5 seconds every critical heal on a 15 second cooldown. A decent tank can do 1,000 DPS, so every 15 seconds you can add 300 healing per second without doing anything but crit on anima shot. This signet only activates off the green heal from anima shot, so cannot be triggered by Elemental Force.
The Coney Island Band gives you 25% more crit damage off a critical heal every 15 seconds, which locks it into the same cooldown as the Signet of Thirst. This is a huge DPS increase if you can manage to get this active in the first rotation of a fight. Therefore, once you have the Coney Island Band, your biggest DPS and healing gain comes from taking crit to 300.
If you have both the Coney Island Band and a Signet of Thirst, then every 15 seconds you can supercharge your healing with crit heals.
Once you have glyph stats sorted, the real increase in power comes from signets. Here we’ll go through what signets are the best for each slot, so you don’t waste pax.
The most powerful signet for a leecher, the laceration signet gives +24% to crit damage at the purple level. So if you have 400 crit power giving you +25% or so crit damage to have 50% crit damage, when the Laceration signet buff triggers you have 74% crit damage. Taking into account diminishing returns on crit power rating past 400, this makes a purple laceration signet equal to about550 crit power in itself.
This signet belongs on the head because leech rotations can be random and situational, and sometimes you will want to Elemental Force crit either the rifle or the blood focus. Unless you intend to buy two purple lacerations to put one on each weapon (only a good idea if you’re either rich or masochistic and really want your blood focus to have laceration for another blood build), you want this on the head to ensure the best uptime.
Yes, there are DPS builds that favour putting Laceration on a weapon. No, you will not be able to use your head talisman for these builds anymore once you start leeching. I’m sorry, but this is how it has to be.
Available from the Ca’d’oro vendor in Egypt, and gives you a couple hundred extra hit rating. This is very useful for those in 10.0 gear without large glyph budgets, as it lets you put only 500 points in hit and the rest in penetration (very useful to end up at values of 700 hit and 800 penetration in blue gear). After 10.2 gear though, this signet isn’t worthwhile.
Also available from the Ca’d’oro vendor, this signet gives the unique effect of a 20% chance to build a secondary resource when using Anima Shot. This is a useful signet when starting leeching, as it lets you build secondary resources for more healing if using a weapon like fists or blood for the healing consumers these provide (which can be a decent way to increase your healing when first starting leeching). However, ultimately you want to pass this up for putting Laceration on the head.
Ashes of Elder Things
This raid drop isn’t fantastic for the same reasons that make Laceration the best head signet. Potentially only useful if you can get away with not breaching, and you have the excessive means to afford a laceration signet for each weapon to ensure you’ll always trigger it regardless of which weapon lands on elemental force. But if you can do that, then sure – go ahead. But you’re talking about buying three purple Laceration signets, thus requiring more money than the Queen.
If purple quality, gives everyone in the group +24% more damage when you penetrate. This signet is powerful because every group needs one to do the best damage. If no one else is bringing one, a Breaching Signet on your head will be the best DPS and healing buff you can have (a group damage increase of 10%).
If you’re going to bother with Breaching, you may as well go all the way and have two purple breachings — one for your rifle, and another for your blood focus. This ensures maximum uptime, both for yourself and the group. No, you cannot get away with just one Breaching on the head, since Laceration belongs there.
Fortunately, one person cannot keep breaching up all the time. Even with 1,000 penetration and Iron Maiden, you will still experience gaps of up to three seconds between applications. Therefore, your breachings will rarely be wasted in any group, as the best group DPS is achieved by two people breaching.
These two signets give a random +damage multiplier, there isn’t much difference between them. At the purple quality level, they amount to roughly a 5% damage increase per signet if using Exsanguinate to equalise the proc chances between main weapon and blood focus.
Having an Abuse on the rifle, and an Aggression on the blood focus is the alternative option for more personal DPS if not going the double breaching route. However, if doing this, you’ll need to be sure breaching is adequately covered by another group member or two, since the DPS and healing will be vastly lower if you get stuck in a group with no breaching signets.
Coney Island Band
The Coney Island Band is a raid drop (finger heal talisman) that gives you +25% crit damage on a critical heal. This works like the Laceration signet in all respects, so if you have 50% base crit damage, you now have 75%. Such a large amount of crit power makes this signet very powerful, and it is the best talisman you can have for leeching.
The critical heal trigger means a green critical heal. In a normal leech build, this only includes the green heal portion of Anima Shot, and sometimes the heals off Anima Vessel (if using that). It cannot be forced with Elemental Force, nor does it trigger off damage-to-health leeching effects like Transfuse Anima, Reap and Sew, or Leeching Frenzy.
This means that to use the Coney Island Band, you need some crit rating. The ideal crit rating to crit power ration with the Band is 3:4. So if you have a budget of 700, 300 in crit rating and 400 in crit power.
The Egon Pendant is a raid drop (neck attack talisman) that gives you 25% more crit rating. This is kindof useful if you have both the Coney Island Band and close to 400 crit rating, though can be interchangeable with a purple violence/amelioration signet.
These two signets add a small amount of heal rating or attack rating.
Which of these signets you take comes down to personal preference and gearing. I use a setup of two major heal talismans, so prefer to put Amelioration on the other heal talisman beside the Coney Island Band. Ameliorations are also a lot cheaper than Violence.
On the other hand, Violence will add to DPS more. However, I still prefer to not go below 1,500 heal rating, and anything over 3,000 attack rating is close to meaningless due to severe diminishing returns on high attack rating.
With 1.7, you have an option of a cheap quasi-purple Amelioration of Violence signet with a weird name if using the Ca’d’Oro neck talisman.
Don’t get me started — a firm “no”. Best to leave tanking to the fist and blood healers, as that is their strength.
Given that you will be so far out from heavy diminishing returns for heal rating or attack rating, it is always better to use the major signet slots to buff your lowest rating. When you only have 1100 heal rating from talismans, adding another 300 from signets is massive – around an 8% healing gain. Too much to pass up for an occasional safety net.
These are a raid attack drop in the luck slot, and give a stacking 1%-10% damage increase every 6 seconds, which resets on glance. This effects all outgoing damage, and winds up to be a fairly significant DPS increase, increasing total DPS by up to 10% in practice.
This is a +3% boost to rifle attacks. Due to the way leech healing is a multiplication of both attack and heal ratings, this also is +3% to healing done. The downside to this signet is it is the mot expensive minor signet, and only applies to rifle attacks. So in an endgame leech build with a third of the damage coming from Bloodshot, this will only add 2% total damage.
This is a 3% boost to leech effects. This will provide the same healing increase as an Execution Signet, but at a fraction of the cost. It also will buff group leech effects, like Reap and Sew and Anima Vessel. You will lose the +2% to damage from the Execution Signet, but that’s not much if you’d prefer to spend the exorbitant amount of pax Execution Signets cost on other more powerful signets, like Laceration.
At the purple level, this gives your defensive target a 30% leech effect for 5 seconds on a critical heal (not the 15% in the tooltip). This is very powerful, for if a tank is doing 1,000 DPS, they’ll receive a boost of 300 healing per second when this signet activates. If the tank is further buffed in the raid to do 2,000 DPS, they’ll receive 600 heal per second, which is enough to keep them up without you doing anything.
Because this is a very unique effect that isn’t really replaceable by simple +damage increases, I like to use a Signet of Thirst alongside a Signet of Execution.
However, the Thirst signet does not play nicely with Anima Vessel. Because Anima Vessel allows everyone in your group to heal crit on themselves, this can cause the Thirst signet to go to a random DPs more often than not, instead of the tank.
Choosing active rifle skills
1. Pick a builder
The first step to making a leech build is to pick a builder – Anima Shot or Anima Burst. Anima Burst is generally the better builder at low gear levels. The burst effect tends to increase your critical penetration rates, which is good when you have low penetration chances.
In addition, passives like Healing Sparks and Donor work very well with Anima Burst at low gear levels, especially if you’re using a heal rating lean, which you generally should before you get purple gear.
However, for various reasons, Anima Shot tends to pull ahead in both DPS and healing once you start to get end-game gear.
These reasons tend to be a complex mix of the Exposed debuff, high hit and penetration ratings making more of your attacks hit (Anima Shot is very sensitive to miss rates), the multiplicative effects of passives, and the increased frequency of shots that let you get more shots out in buff phases (Anima Burst has up to a 1.3 second cast time, while Anima Shot is 1 second exactly).
It’s too complicated to explain briefly, but all testing I’ve done – whether this be dungeon runs, dummy test firing (both short and long tests), and even simple tooltip math put Anima Shot ahead of Anima Burst slightly for healing, and by as much as 200 DPS for damage.
Anima Shot also has some more practical advantages.
The first is its direct heal is more frequent due to the 1 second cast. Once you get a Coney Island Band drop from the raid, you’ll see a large boost in healing and DPS.
However, the Band effect only procs off pure heals, not leeching. Therefore, the faster you can squeeze off direct heals, the higher your uptime with this buff. The same mechanics apply to Veteran, in any situation you might use that. Anima Shot builds Veteran counters faster.
For what it’s worth, the Coney Island Band is one of the main reasons I advocate against using an attack builder rotation from an alternative builder like Hip Fire. If you’re not healing, you’re not getting a massive crit power multiplication.
The second reason in favour of Anima Shot is its heal comes instant, rather than at the end of a 1.3 second cast. This makes switching around group members in need of health much easier with Anima Shot. In heavy group damage fights like Machine Tyrant, Anima Shot is much easier to use as you can simply cycle through group members healing them, rather than relying on group heals.
The third is that Anima Shot gives you some of the highest mobility of any character in the game, with its full running speed and 20 meter range (and 40 meter healing range).
2. Pick consumers
Rifle has up to six viable consumers to use. In general, you always want to take at least two.
Transfuse Anima is the tank healing consumer. This dramatically outscales any other healing consumer in the game, and a high-end leech healer can get 15,000-strong heals off this if the numbers all align (Breaching Shot giving a penetration on an Elemental Force crit with stacked crit power and self-buffed with Energise while doing a handstand).
Fire in the Hole is a good DPS consumer, used with Exsanguinate and Elemental Force. Exsanguiante “holds open” Elemental Force, letting Fire in the Hole crit if Fire was cast before Exsanguinate. More details are given in the Blood secondary weapon section. However, outside this use, Fire in the Hole does impose a DPS penalty to an ele force rotation if it does not crit, as it slows down the Elemental Force counter. In that case, you use Three Round Burst to compliment.
Three Round Burst is useful to manage Elemental Force as an instant resource dump. If you ever need to get rid of one rifle resource in a rotation, then Three Round Burst works best, as it is very quick and advances the Elemental Force counter, speeding up your rotation. Conversely, both Transfuse Anima and Fire in the Hole will impose a time penalty, slowing down your rotation, and hence your DPS. Three Round Burst is also good to shoot off resources quickly before a boss dies, giving you a small DPS boost out of rotation.
Fire at Will is Three Round Burst’s AoE cousin. When I want to take down adds, I usually just swap Three Round Burst in my 6th slot for Fire at Will. This seems to be better than using Suppressing Fire, as maintain anima shot healing leading up to the consumer. For more AoE, can also combine Fire at Will with Lock and Load. Fire at Will is better than the other AoE consumers as is an instant cast.
Anima Vessel is good for group healing, as well as sustained tank healing if you don’t quite need the heals of Transfuse Anima right now, but might need more healing over time. For everyone attacking the target for eight seconds after you hit with Anima Vessel receives a leech heal effect at your heal rate, passive bonuses, and extra bonus if the target is afflicted.
This means that a top leech healer with hunger signets can give everyone in a group an almost constant 20% leech return rate. This is extremely powerful, and can completely heal through many group healing situations, even the reflect shields in Hell Eternal. Also useful for the raid because it will heal two tanks at once, and even DPS outside your group.
All heals given by Anima Vessel can crit and count as being cast by the person they are healing, for the purposes of signet procs. This is sometimes beneficial for proccing the Coney Island Band, but can tend to make your Thirst or Equilibrium signets go everywhere to a random group member, diluting their power, as you can only buff one group member at a time.
Shot of Anima does not scale too well with the low heal rating of leech builds, but is very useful with the passive Increased Dosage for healing when damage reduction shields are in play. Hell Eternal 4 can be healed just with Shot of Anima, mostly, meaning you won’t have to change to a fist spec to get through this fight.
Alternatively, it’s not bad as a simple leech skill, without increased dosage. The leech percentage does not depend on resources, so if the tank is doing a lot of damage, such as when buffed in the raid, or attacking lots of targets, this can heal for a fair bit off just one resource.
Anima Outbreak with the Outbreak Alert passive is amazing for Hell Raised. By giving the whole team a dependable major hit chance buff, you can increase group DPS substantially by even letting them run Lethality.
3. Pick rifle utility skills
Lock and Load works well as a general utility because it has a low cooldown and can be used to increase any role you have the consumers for. For example, if you have Fire in the Hole, Transfuse Anima, and Fire at Will, then your Lock and Load can give boosts to DPS, healing, or AoE as needed.
Energise is a massive healing buff available once every minute. For ten seconds, you get both +40% damage and leeching, giving you a base healing buff of +80%. The drawback to Energise is that it doesn’t actually buff the main source of damage — Exsanguinate, so is only useful as a healing cooldown.
Platoon is a small group heal, used best with around 50% heal rating. It gives you an easy way to quickly heal all DPS at once.
Tactical Retreat is a backwards dash, which can make it a decent replacement for rocket jump where you might need it. This can also be used to set a hinder to activate Transfuse Anima’s leech, as shown in this video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N9Nn…ature=youtu.be
Tactical Retreat also hinders where it is activated one second after it is used. While hinders are *normally* frowned upon due to interfering with tank impairs, when this is not an issue it can be used to give the tank a strong leech effect by casting Transfuse Anima straight after. If the tank is doing a lot of AoE damage, this can be like a mini Reap and Sew.
Suppressing Fire is the basic rifle AoE skill and it can be useful in situations where you need to help gun down adds. However it can be outdone by Fire at Will.
Mortar Support is a basic out of combat AoE heal. If used for single targets, it is generally a loss of healing, but is useful both as an out of combat heal and for multiple target healing. You may need both in the raid, for example.
Razor Wire slows down anything it contacts, and ignores CC immunity, without advancing the immunity counter. This has all sorts of applications, including slowing down the SH 2 boss, making the Ankh 3 bosses take longer to reposition (reducing their damage), and kiting adds. If laid sideways, you can increase the time of a boss in razor wire.
For an example, see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slRd9qeIe-8
If a boss has to regain distance or line of sight to cast, like HE4, Ankh 3, and Ankh 4, then if they get snared in Razor Wire, the boss will be unable to do anything until they get back to minimum range or regain line of sight. I’ve seen the Ankh 4 spider do nothing for eight seconds after being mired in Razor Wire.
Finally, like all dashes, Razor Wire makes you invulnerable during the dash, so can be used to jump over wave attacks, like Wave of Mutation or even Shadow Out Of Time. Jumping Wave of Mutation is seen in this video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1vqJ…ature=youtu.be
4. Pick the elite
There are eleven elite skills worth using—Reap and Sew, Do or Die, Re-Animator, Cold Blooded, Clean Up, Fired Up, Pistol Love, Red Mist, Cardiac Arrest, and Shellshocker/Slow the Advance.
Reap and Sew
Reap and Sew gives everyone in the group a unique transfer leech effect, meaning that any damage you do is converted into healing put onto your defensive target. Regardless of who cast the Reap and Sew, this transfer rate is always determined at the individual group member’s heal rating and passives.
So if a DPS or a rifle healer (it doesn’t matter) casts Reap and Sew, then your heal rating plus buffs like Experience and Eagle Eye can give you a 150%-200% transfer leech rate, which then gets added on top of your existing leech rate. So the 15,000 Transfuse Anima would heal for another 25,000 or so again.
Or you can do tricks like hit Reap and Sew and then do large AoE damage with skills like Suppressing Fire or the Chainsaw Hurly Burly, and dramatically drive up your healing.
On that note, the easiest way for a rifle healer to handle add rush fights like in Darkness War 2 is to just get the tank to pull the whole lot, hit Reap and Sew, and then gun everything down. As long as the DPS keep themselves all targeted they’ll be able to heal tank any adds that break through the tank’s threat.
Which brings us too… many people believe DPS have to be targeting the tank to make Reap and Sew effective. While this does increase the healing done under Reap and Sew, it is ultimately not needed.
A rifle healer doing 1,000 DPS at a 200% leech rate will do an extra 3,000 healing per second under Reap and Sew. A DPS with no heal rating doing 3,000 DPS at a 35% leech rate will be doing 1,000 or so healing under Reap and Sew (and that’s a top-end DPS). A single, average rifle healer will do more than enough healing under Reap and Sew by themselves to handle any tank damage, and it is often better for DPS to keep themselves targeted for group heals.
Do or Die
Do or Die is a baby Energise. It gives an extra 25% to both damage and leech rates, for an increase of 50% extra healing, for ten seconds out of every minute. Do or Die and Reap and Sew have the same 60 second cooldown, so Do or Die is really limited to just giving a bit of extra DPS. Reap and Sew provides dramatically better healing and so should be taken in most circumstances.
Do or Die’s main use is for really short fights where the tank does not need any significant healing, you can use it to give yourself a large damage boost.
Generally poor for most situations, Re-Animator’s a curious skill that doesn’t really scale well with heal rating and is out-performed by other healing elites with similar cooldowns such as Cold Blooded.
However, Re-Animator is useful for a grand total of one fight in the game – which is the fourth boss of Hell Eternal. This boss gets a 90% damage reduction shield, making most leech skills useless a lot of the time. Re-Animator can provide a decent healing boost when the shield is up. This makes it worth having for Hell Eternal master planner runs, but otherwise don’t bother with it.
Cold Blooded is a very powerful group and tank heal (even better than Re-Animator for tank healing) that both heals and barriers at the same time. It’s very useful for fights where you need to quickly shield the entire group from damage, or for when the tank is out of combat, out of line of sight, and you need to heal them quickly (like Machine Tyrant, or in the raid).
Clean Up is a shotgun cleanse and purge all in one. It’s well worth taking for situations where you need to cleanse nasty afflictions (every boss in Hell Risen), or clean crowd control from the group (Polaris 5, Hell Eternal 1). The good news is that unlike a fist healer, you have a non-elite group heal in Platoon, so don’t lose much by slotting this.
The fist secondary weapon version of Cold Blooded. Has a shorter cooldown, but heals for far less. Not really worth it as a general elite due to not having Empowerment in a leeching build, but you can get some use out of it in Hell Risen where frequent group heals are useful, and where you might be using fist as a secondary weapon due to other skills like Pack Leader and Reckless.
Pistol Love removes afflictions from your defensive target once every 30 seconds. This can be useful if you need to remove afflictions, obviously, in fights where these are the main incoming damage on the tank. Also deploys a heal over time for 15 seconds due to the weird way in which the pistol weapon skill Ingenuity works.
Shellshocker/Slow the Advance
The skills are hinders. In some fights, hindering adds is more important to avoiding a wipe than healing the tank, notably Ankh 5. I personally prefer Shellshocker over Slow the Advance because its hinder is easier to target and potentially lasts longer if it gets refreshed by subsequent hits in the channel effect. Shellshocker can also be combined with Transfuse Anima against adds, like in Darkness War, to give the tank a mini leech effect, if you do not need the strong healing of Reap and would like more AoE DPS.
When you use Veteran at Machine Tyrant, you simply don’t need an active elite heal. Red Mist lets you do a lot more damage in this fight, while Veteran will keep everyone healed just fine.
This is a ranged impair on a 30 second cooldown. Kindof useful if you need a low cooldown impair and can afford to give up the elite. This can be the case in HE4 if you’re impairing Spitelance to give the tank a safety net.
Choosing a secondary weapon
There are four decent secondary weapons to choose from for leech healing—blood, pistol , fist, and shotgun, Of these four, Blood is generally the most complimentary, which is why it receives the most attention in this section. The other three provide more specific benefits for certain situations.
Blood brings both strong extra healing and strong added DPS, making it one of the better secondary weapons (and my preferred one). All blood consumers can be cast with your own health once every 6 seconds.
This tends to be more group DPS than simply carrying around a group buff from pistol or shotgun, because a group buff cannot outdo the ability to reliably use a second consumer (DPS using Pistol Shotgun for two group buffs and refusing to cast their shotgun consumer would really suck, for example – you need the hitting power to exploit buffs).
By far the best way to use this ability is to use Exsanguinate on elemental force, with pure crit power on the blood focus, and Brawler. This will increase your DPS immensely, especially if you time Fire in the Hole to hit while ele force is being held open. When doing this, sometimes Reap and Sew is needed to heal the tank while you’re DPSing, but Exsanguinate is a very large heal when used in this way.
A typical elemental force rotation goes:
1. Anima Shot
2. Three Round Burst
3. Anima Shot x 5
4. Fire in the Hole
Blood also gives offhealing from Exquisite Corpse, The Scarlet Arts, and Cold Blooded.
Exquisite Corpse will stop up to 50% of the total amount an incoming attack, making it great for fending off huge individual hits. Even the raid boss’s instant kill attack for ten million can be reduced to five million. This is very useful as a low-resource cost barrier when applied directly after transfuse anima to fend off the next big hit while you build up resources again.
The Scarlet Arts can provide a long-lasting barrier, which is good for situations such as in the raid when the tank is running back from phase 1 with damage stacks still on.
Cold blooded, as mentioned earlier, can serve as an excellent heal for when you are not in range for leech healing. It appears to have a range longer than 20 meters, and ignores line of sight.
The ability to sacrifice health also allows you to chain cast many Blood spells in a row if using ambrosia (which gives 5 blood resources every two minutes). So you can first build 5 blood resources, then cast one Scarlet Arts. Then cast another Scarlet Arts with your health, and drink ambrosia to cast another Scarlet Arts again. In a few seconds you’ll then be able to cast yet another The Scarlet Arts from health. That’s four chained strength 5 heal consumers from just building 5 resources at first.
Alternatively, you can do this during a burn phase. Hit Bloodshot just as someone activates Short Fuse to give you blood offering, then use Ambrosia to give 5 resources. Cast two Bloodshots, then use Cannibalise for another two. This can also be done under Reap and Sew for large burst healing, such as if you need to heal Dreaming Shroud in Ankh.
The only downside to all this is you’ll need to switch back to healing yourself every so often.
Pistol is a good secondary healing weapon for burst heal situations due all its healing buffs. Blood will generally bring more to the group than pistol for most situations, but if you load up on Deadly aim, Backup Drone, and Greater Good, you can easily pass burst heal checks like in Ankh.
Shotgun provides the combination of Breaching Shot, Flak Jacket, and Cleanup. It is best used when you want to bring clean up, such as for Machine Tyrant if the group needs another cleanup.
Shotgun is also good as a weapon to use when you want to combine group buffing with passing healing checks. I currently use it to heal Ankh with, as Breaching Shot can be combined with Reap and Sew for uber healing, and Takedown works well as an impair on Klein after jumping Wave of Mutation with Razor Wire.
As such, it provides similar burst healing to pistols but also comes with a better utility range.
Fists make for a good secondary weapon if you are just starting leeching and need extra healing support. Combined with the Thinis signet making fist heal consumers possible to use, Anima Shot supported by Creature Comfort greatly helps to smooth out the spiky healing that beginner leechers often suffer from.
For damage, fist brings Reckless. Reckless is a fist buff on a 40 second cooldown that will add +20% to both damage and leech rates, for a total of +40% healing, for 10 seconds. Combined with Do or Die which is also for 10 seconds every 40 seconds, this can lead to having a good sustained damage buff for half the total fight time.
The third benefit to fists is the easy group healing from Shelter. The Quantum does reduce this benefit somewhat, but it’s still there.
Choosing an auxiliary weapon
There are five auxiliary weapons to choose from: the Flamethrower, the Chainsaw, the Whip, the Quantum, and the Rocket Launcher.
Flamethrower: More dots!
The flamethrower is good for both direct damage area effect, and damage over time single target DPS, doing decent damage for both roles. Unlike many other aux weapons, you can have multiple flamethrowers by repeating the award quest, so can build up a collection with different signets.
For single target, a flamethrower with Scorched Earth, Assiduous Burn, and an Imprint Signet will deal a lot of damage. Potentially a little less maximum damage than the chainsaw Timber with Augur, but the minimum damage is a lot higher, making it more consistent (the chainsaw needs to get two of critical, penetration, or augur to match the damage of the flamethrower, and all three to exceed it).
The best way to use this is to cast it at the end of a consumer with a cast time (Transfuse Anima or Exsanguinate), and use the cast time to place the targeter just in front of the target. Don’t use auto targeting with Scorched Earth as it is bugged and will miss.
Scorched Earth also has problems targeting some very large targets like Ur Draug, whose hit location for GTAOEs is very hard to hit. For Ur Draug, the chainsaw is recommended instead. To hit the lurker, you will also need to position Scorched Earth just on the edge of the grate so it hits the overhanging mouth, not right up against the ledge.
However, when it works, it does a lot of damage. This gets even better where you want to combine single target DPS with AoE, like often in Ankh.
If this goes up during or just before group buffs are active, it will do more damage, as the Incendiary Expertise DoT can critical and penetrate. The flamethrower DoT uses the current active weapon stats instead of its own, so it is good to have your rifle with crit rating to give this more criticals (and have your rifle be the higher weapon QL).
Scorched Earth can also be combined with Razor Wire to create Flaming Razor Wire. It can also be combined with Reap and Sew against Dreaming Shroud in Ankh to give a higher minimum healing.
Scorched Earth can be used safely against Machine Tyrant as both its base damage and the Incendiary Expertise DoT cannot be reflected. Use it to set wells on fire as well as during the middle phase.
For area effect, the flamethrower’s strong point is the ability to attack up to 10 targets at once with Dragon’s Breath, Searing Magnesium, and an Augur signet.
Alternatively, for 5-target situations, Binding can be used for +15% damage. However, binding signets are pricey, costing a cool 15 million, and there aren’t too many situations that call for 5-target AoE in which Scorched Earth doesn’t also perform admirably. As such, my recommendation is Imprint and Augur flamethrowers first.
The way to use Dragon’s Breath is to wait until Elemental Force is at 7, then since Dragon’s Breath is a channel, all ten targets will be critically fried for the duration, which is an immense amount of damage with 100% or more critical damage, and even healing under Reap and Sew that does not need line of sight to the tank. See this artist’s impression for further details:http://thenoobcomic.com/index.php?pos=300
If you want to add even more damage with this, can slot Criticality, though will need Bloodsport, or the tank afflicting (especially with Augur Flamethrower and Bloodsport of their own to spread affliction to everything). Criticality and Elemental Force is highly useful for solo play as well.
Chainsaw: Going melee
The Chainsaw is good for instant single target melee damage.
Timber with a purple Augur signet will do huge amounts of damage on critical or penetrating hits, plus do decent damage over time from Rotting Teeth. This also adds another skill to use that’s better than a builder while building up to Elemental Force, or finding something else to use during a group buff.
The highest DPS from Timber is attained by using it opportunistically. If you find yourself coming to the end of a group buff phase but have no consumers to fire, whack away with Timber instead of using Anima Shot. Try to avoid using Timber before buffs go up, as it needs to crit or pen to be worthwhile.
Timber is also superior to Scorched Earth where the target has a weird hitbox that is hard to target with GTAOEs, like Ur Draug.
The chainsaw also brings a few utilities which are occasionally useful.
First, Rotting Teeth will reduce the reflect damage inflicted by reflect barriers in places like Hell Eternal by 10%.
Second, instant AoE damage from Hurly Burly can be very effective under Reap and Sew. Reap and Sew can sometimes take a while to kick in as you power up to a consumer, but Hurly Burly can instantly inflict huge damage and so act as a large emergency heal.
Third, if you’re expecting to take damage from a telegraphed attack like Macroshock or Body Hammer, then having Diamond Grit can be useful. As a reflect shield, Diamond Grit will fend off 50% of any incoming attack even if it exhausts the barrier strength. This means that if Diamond Grit takes a 3,000 damage hit, you’ll still live because the hit will be halved, even though it fully collapsed the barrier.
The Whip is a group support weapon. With Crack!, a purple binding signet, and Whiplash, you have a buffing attack that can be used before Elemental Force consumers to buff them an extra 4.5% damage and reduce the target’s protection by 200, improving group damage slightly. However, it can be harder to aim than the chainsaw, as it is a cone attack, which causes problems against large targets.
The best passive is Whiplash, as this gives more overall damage than binding, as well being easier to coordinate to group buffs. Some prefer Jones in the Fast Lane though, so you need to test them both.
The whip is also good for its Whippersnapper impair. With Jones in the Fast Lane, will have Whippersnapper up for every Spitelance cast by the Flagellatrix in HE4. This is a good safety net for the tank, in case they lag or forget an epipen, and has saved many a wipe.
The Quantum brings an out of combat heal from the Density part of Charge-Density, making it decent if you lose a target. Don’t try to use this in combat (just use regular heals instead, especially with your lack of pure heal rating).
Instead, use Density to heal people up in gaps, like after the Lustrehunter falls back in Hell Eternal 2, or behind the filth pillar in Ankh 2, or in the raid when the tanks are falling back to phase 2 or when you have to hold DPS against drakes.
For these purposes, you want to use an Overdrive or Mod signet and the Energy Transfer passive to buff the large Density heal as much as possible.
Rocket Launcher: Overrated
A grossly overrated weapon normally taken for Death From Above, the rocket launcher is not particularly good since rifle healers are so fast to move anyway with Anima Shot, which does not slow you down. In most cases it’s better to use your own two legs and keep the aux slot free for a weapon that actually does something you can’t do anyway, like more dots.
Choosing passives is a complex, arcane art depending on your gear, preferences, and whether you have a secret squirrel build that can be claimed to do double the DPS of anyone else…
Well, not really. Passive selection for rifle healing is fairly cut and dry, as there are clear tiers of effectiveness. Tier 1 passives should almost always be taken no matter the build. Tier 2 passives have almost the same effect but there is more of them. Like bug fixes, tier 3 passives are nice-to-haves, and can be used to fill in particular niches.
Top tier passives: take them all
Experience: A massive +40% base healing boost, as Experience increases the damage of leech skills by 20%, and then increases the amount of leeching they do by 20% again. While this should be the elite passive you use most often, there are a couple of alternatives for specific situations, listed later.
Eagle Eye: Experience’s little brother, adding 10% to damage of leech skills and 10% to the leech rate, for a +20% total healing buff. The 10% damage buff may be multiplicative with other damage buffs, which would make it even more effective.
Twist the Knife: A slightly worse version of Eagle Eye, adding 9% to base damage and 9% to leech rates. Even so, it’s still the third-most-powerful passive you can take.
Lethality: An extra 10% base damage. While not as good as Eagle Eye, dropping this can reduce your healing by as much as 200 points per second. This is an outstanding passive and the only time you should drop it is if you are glancing a lot in a place like Hell Risen.
The actual reason Lethality is so good, even though it doesn’t add to leech rates like Twist the Knife, is that as we saw with the maths, the number of additive boosts you have in a build matters. Therefore, adding a fourth general damage additive is a strong choice.
Elemental Force: Every 8th hit is a critical. This works out to be around 10% more critical hits in practice. Even with no critical rating, Elemental Force added to the base 5% crit chance will ensure that 15% of your hits are crits. Add Deadly Aim and a couple of hundred crit rating on top, and you push well into the 30% crit range, letting you mostly focus on crit power.
You will need to practice rotations a bit to ensure you can reliably land consumers on Elemental Force, as well as install the Eth’s Buff Bars mod to make tracking the counter easy.
The most powerful skills to use on Elemental Force are Exsanguinate and Fire in the Hole.
Iron Maiden: Gives a flat 10% increase to penetration rates, adding more damage multipliers. Also useful for countering blocks, since it also appears to give a flat 10% reduction in blocks encountered.
With the large gains to crit power introduced by the 1.7 patch, Iron Maiden is useful simply for increasing penetrations to the point where the ideal penetration/crit power balance is achieved. See the discussion on stat balances for more details.
Second tier passives: choose one (two if replacing the elite passive)
Closer: This is a multiplicative +7.5% healing and damage boost to all consumers, including blood heals and barriers. Useful if not using elemental forced Exsanguinate to add DPS, as well as boosting any direct heal consumers you may be using.
Knuckle Down: This is one of the best healing passives to take as it adds +10% to both damage and healing off your builder, which is where most of leeching’s healing comes from. If you’re having issues keeping a tank up, then Knuckle Down should be considered.
Brawler: A natural compliment to Elemental Force, 15% more crit damage is extremely powerful if timing Exsanguinate to Elemental Force. This is the highest DPS secondary tier passive for this reason.
Anima Boost/Improved Bursts: These both add 20% more healing to the respective builder, whether you take Anima Shot or Anima Burst. The damage buff to the builder is multiplicative, so 7.5% multiplicative of all other base damage buffs (Lethality, Experience etc) multiplied again by 7.5% added leeching, plus the extra direct heal, gives a solid 20% increase to healing done off the builder. A great example of vague tooltips making a passive sound much worse than it really is.
I mention Improved Bursts here because it works exactly the same as Anima Boost, but the unqualified ban on using Anima Burst in purple gear is still in force.
Anticoagulant: A strong affliction. Doesn’t add healing, but is one of the highest DPS passives you can take, so very useful for an easy 18/18 run.
Anticoagulant’s best use is to apply an afflict to buff everyone’s damage via Iron Maiden in dungeons which require Iron Maiden, such as Polaris. While the tank should be using Shoot Em Up, some tanks just don’t–for reasons only known to them–and if this happens it’s best if you do it instead.
12 Gouge: While a strong tank healing boost, it’s most useful for reducing damage inflicted to DPS. A macroshock in Hell Risen won’t kill a DPS if it comes from a debiltated boss.
Cool, Calm, and Collected: If you’re using a blood build, then Cool, Calm, and Collected makes a decent alternative to Experience. It will give +8% damage and leech rate to all skills, not just leech skills, which means it will also buff Three Round Burst, Fire in the Hole, Exsanguinate, and Bloodshot damage, resulting in a large damage increase. It also procs on critical heals as well as critical hits, so is easy to keep active.
Because of the way diminishing returns eats into high attack ratings, Cool Calm and Collected with more heal rating can result in both more damage and more healing than using Experience with more attack rating. In general, once you get past 3200 attack rating, it is better to use Cool Calm and Collected to push DPS rather than simply lumping more attack rating on top of Experience.
Both Probability and Fluid Defense give the same bonus as Cool, Calm and Collected. However since CCC triggers off critical heals as well, it is more reliable if you also have Elemental Force and potentially faster to get active.
Third tier passives: maybe choose one
Veteran: Veteran gives easy group healing. This can be useful in fights with heavy group damage that occurs too fast to be individually healed with tabbing around the group with Anima Shot. Hell Risen 6 is the most notable example.
Outbreak Alert: Useful in Hell Raised, where you can give the whole team a dependable glance reduction. This is a high group DPS gain, as they can even slot Lethality if they are guaranteed constant uptime on the major hit chance buff.
Contortionist: Breaks crowd control once every 25 seconds, as well as gives 10% to leech damage, leech rates, direct heals, and barriers. Very useful where you are needing to both break crowd control, as well as use a variety of healing methods, like all of Hell Eternal.
Body Piercing: Useful if you need more penetration but cannot afflict for Iron Maiden, like against Eblis in Hell Eternal.
Sharpshooter: Useful again for Hell Eternal or Slaughterhouse, where the hit requirements are over 800.
Leech therapy: A decent group heal that can make some fights where you’re constantly surrounded by DPS much easier to heal (Hell Eternal 3 being a notable example). It does, however, do nothing for your actual leech healing.
Increased Dosage: Useful for when you’re using Shot of Anima to get around damage reduction shields, such as the fourth boss of Hell Eternal.
Fear and Wonder: When you crit, you add 2 stacks of the Corrupted debuff. Pretty useful for fights with damage reflect shields, since this at 10 stacks will cut the damage inflicted back on the group by half.
Mods you need
To play a leech healer the best you can, you really need a few UI mods, to ensure you know exactly what’s going on at all times. Here are the four you need.
Eth’s Buff Bars
Eth’s Buff Bars allow you to see when group buffs are up, letting you coordinate your own buffs and track Elemental Force. Very important. Enter the following buffs on player to track when they are active on you:
* Deadly Aim
* Breaching Shot
* Short Fuse
* Elemental Force
* Reap and Sew
* Greater Good
* Do or Die
* Gaia Incarnate – Alex
On your defensive target buffs, enter Backup Drone if you use that skill. Also enter Whisper of Darkness if you raid.
Combat statistics is a DPs measuring program that can be seen as you play. While not as detailed as ACT, it is much easier to use, which is important for actually paying attention to it. Even if you do use ACT as well, having Combat Statistics ensures that you’ll always be measuring your performance, even if you can’t be bothered tabbing out to check ACT.
Sometimes, this is all that’s needed, such as measuring glance, evade, and block rates.
Viper’s Resource HUD
Viper’s Resource Hud lets you see your rifle resources in a HUD view, so you don’t have to check the target for them. Very handy for keeping track of Elemental Force rotations.
I like to enter the scaling as 550, and then the spacing as 785. This creates ahuge rifle resource HUD across the top of the screen, and the spacing means the secondary weapon resources (which I never use) are put off screen. This makes tracking Elemental Force very easy if you can time it to a rotation.
Viper’s CastBar Relocator
This lets you see casts more easily on screen, which helps keep track of what targets are doing. Useful if you need to respond quickly to an ability.
This replaces the default team group window, importantly allowing you to move it closer to the middle of your screen to always keep an eye on health bars.
Overcoming damage reduction and reflection shields
Some bosses have either damage reduction or reflection shields. These can present problems. Damage reduction skills will dramatically reduce your healing, as leech healing is dependent on final damage done. Damage reflection shields can make it harder to heal, since it’s possible to kill yourself with Transfuse Anima. The commonly encountered bosses with these shields include:
• Everything in Hell Fallen (obnoxiously)
• Judas Iscariot in Hell Eternal
• The succubus Hell Eternal 4 boss every so often.
• Melothat in Ankh 6 if the tank is slow and lets him get buffed
• Machine Tyrant if shield is up
• The Foregemaster, Cassius and Eblis in Hell Eternal
To overcome damage reduction, you either need a different target, the DPS to power through it, the debilitate debuff, the rifle direct heals like Shot of Anima, or secondary heals from fist or blood.
A secondary target is possible against Judas Iscariot, where you can shoot at Brutus.
Extra DPS is possible in Ankh 6, where you can simply overwhelm Melothat’s mitigation, or you can ensure the debilitate debuff is active to reduce the actual healing needed.
Rifle direct heals + debilitate handles the succubus in Hell Eternal. For Hell Fallen, it’s just best to use a dedicated Blood-Rifle build focusing more on barriers.
To overcome damage reflection, the two tactics are to either stop shooting (Machine Tyrant and Foregemaster) or hit them with the Corrupted and Rotting Teeth debuffs (Cassius and Eblis). Taken together, these two will reduce reflect shield return damage by 60%. Cold Blooded can also help counter damage reflection by putting barriers on all DPS which will absorb some incoming fire.
While most of this guide is based on group play, since people also want to know how to use leeching solo, here is the solo build I use. Stats remain exactly the same as for groups, though I usually take more attack rating and less heal rating.
For a fairly aggressive build that depends on healtanking with Anima Vessel and doing damage with Bloodshot and Guts and Glory:
Three Round Burst
Fire at Will
Guts and Glory
Shoot Em Up
Twist the Knife
For a more defensive build:
Three Round Burst
Guts and Glory
Shoot Em Up
Salt in the Wound
To finish, we’ll talk about raid healing with rifles. Rifles have a place in both raids currently in the game – Manhattan Exclusion Zone, and Corpse Island.
Main or offheal?
The first decision you need to make is whether you’ll be mainhealing (solo healing), or offhealing (backup to a fist or blood pure healer).
While leeching can do both, my preference is for offhealing. Mainhealing a raid with rifles is nice for the ego and can add extra DPS, however it does suffer from two major issues:
1. If something goes wrong with you as the only healer, it’s a wipe. It gets very demoralising to wipe to a preventable error just because you were trying to add slightly more DPS to shave 1 minute off a 10 minute fight.
2. Mainhealing splits your tasks between tank healing, DPS healing, dealing damage, and out of combat healing. Unless the head dev plays your class, there’s only so many things you can personally do before you end up being awful at all of them.
Related point – offhealing lets two healers play to their personal strengths. Fist healing is so strong that a fist healer can easily mainheal with 6K health. This allows them to healtank adds, which is a mechanic in both raids.
Conversely, rifle offhealers generate no heal aggro or very little (leech transfers have no aggro component), so always survive, as well as do high DPS. In this way, you have two healers working to their strengths, rather than one healer trying to do everything.
That said, it’s personal preference, so if you want to mainheal, go for it. But I won’t be talking about it. Maybe play a song on a Xylophone of Devastation if you ask nicely.
As an offhealer, your primary role is to DPS, until you’re needed. This makes a lean to attack rating preferable, though I still don’t like to drop below 1,600 heal rating. More attack rating does not add significant DPS to leeching (in top gear I’ll still get near the top of a raid parse without the benefits of group buffs), and means that if something does go wrong and you need to step up to heal, you might have a hard time responding to various emergencies.
I also usually use attack rating and crit damage anima.
For the Manhattan raid, this is my usual build:
Three Round Burst
Reap and Sew
Death From Above
Twist the Knife
For the Corpse Island raid, the build doesn’t need add management, so simply replaces Suppressing Fire with Anima Vessel for raid-wide healing, and possibly drop Brawler for Leech Therapy to gain easy AoE heals.
Though be aware that I have great gear, so with less gear you may not be able to go so aggressive. It depends on how good your tanks and fist healer is.
Debilitate is optional. It really helps, but I don’t like to slot it, because I’m usually among the top 3 DPS and would lose raid DPS compared to a DPS doing it. If possible both tanks should apply debilitate. This keeps their threat relatively even (so one tank is not going to be over-pushing penetration), and ensures it is always applied even if any DPS or healer goes down.
NYC Offhealing Walkthrough
You should be in the tank group. While you can heal better if buffed by the DPS group… if the mainheal goes down, you need to be in the tank group for easy target switching.
In the first phase, run in with the raid. The mainheal has primary responsibility for the tanks. This gives you two options for healing:
1. Keep one tank permanently targeted. This eases the healing burden of the mainheal, and reduces the need to target switch for you, letting you focus on killing things.
2. Keep the podder targeted. This means that the moment the podder takes damage, you will heal them automagically. If they stand in filth, no problem – you will heal them, like magic! Of course your ACT percentage of healing done is going to really suck, since you will be doing 0 HPS most of the raid. But you’ll prevent this source of wipes completely.
Stand close to the boss to reduce the chances of being podded yourself, and walk left and right to avoid fists as useful. Try to avoid any dodge rolls, as this reduces DPS. To boost DPS, use QL10 blood ambrosia bought from the market or PvP vendors, to give you some heavy bloodshot burns.
Phase 2 changeover
As soon as Shadow Out of Time starts casting, resist the urge to run. You’re the raid’s rearguard. Instead, walk backwards to max range, make sure you’re not standing in front of filth, and hit Reap and Sew and shoot until you get blown backwards. This keeps the tanks’ health high even at high stacks, enough to ensure that the mainheal can easily take care of them.
If DPS also has tanks targeted during this little stunt, they can pick up where you left off, by gunning down zombies and healing the tanks with the last seconds of Reap and Sew.
Don’t worry about the zombies – leech healing generates almost no heal aggro, so even with zombies all around you, they’ll run straight for the bait… err, fist healer. Be ready to barrier pot the fist healer to save them, but the mainheal should have at least 4K health so able to take a few knocks.
When drakes come, stick with the main raid group to ensure you don’t get in the way of the tanks. As soon as you can, jump on a car or rubble pile. This both lets you lord it over everyone, and keep line of sight to all points, so your shots will not be blocked by rubble. If you can’t join a direct bead to your tank, your shots will refuse to fire, which is bad.
If jumping on a car, jump up and down a few times to annoy any roleplayers in the raid.
As Shadow of Time comes in, hide behind a car, then jump on the roof as normal. This gives you perfect line of sight to gun down zombies as they swarm towards the mainheal.
For the last drake, follow the raid leader’s directions to hold DPS until zombies are killed, then move up with the tanks.
As soon as the tanks get aggro, hit Reap and Sew. This ensures if tanks start taking heavy sudden stack damage, they won’t die.
Get in position around Alex (the guy who keeps asking who the healer is) as this will boost your rifle and blood damage by 200%. Rotate your camera around so you are looking behind your facing towards the zombie spawn points. This serves two aims:
1. If you get targeted by filth, all you need to do is press both mouse buttons to instantly 180 degree turn, and rocket jump away.
2. When zombies start coming in, you can spin again and gun them down.
The boss will periodically cast Shadow Out of Time. When they do, move behind the engine hood of the right hand police car. This blocks Shadow Out of Time, but lets you do full DPS in your buff circle.
Once safe, move back to the back edge of your buff circle, and watch for zombies. As soon as they come in range, spin and take them down with Suppressing Fire. Spin back to the boss, and unload all the Bloodshot resources you just built up. If Final Resort is incoming, save these resources.
Near death, the boss will cast Final Resort as indicated by “Zubari!” Walk or jump out of the AoE area, and hit stim and kickback. Move back in range once safe, then unload Bloodshot to Blood Offering. Hit ambrosia, and unload two more. Hit Cannibalise, and two more again. Suppressing Fire twice, and fire two more to make sure the boss is really dead.
Now, if the mainheal dies somewhere along the line, you’ve got to step up. Most offhealing will be done by anima shot alone + three round burst, but now you might need to use Transfuse Anima instead. It’s unlikely you will have time to suppressing fire adds anymore, so just focus on healing the tanks after Shadow Out of Time.
If the mainheal is down, what is really key to surviving the third phase as the only healer is to give your DPS some room to take down the zombies before they reach you. As soon as they spawn, walk towards the tank and start shooting the boss at point blank range. This will buy precious few seconds for any errant zombies to be finished off. You may also want to be ready to barrier yourself, or change your anima to health.
After the kill… hope and pray that you’ll get the Coney Island Band or Subway Tokens.
Corpse Island Offhealing Walkthrough
This one’s pretty simple. You’re a DPS with anima vesssel mostly, so put on 4.5K health, follow the crowd and occasionally snipe with anima vessel. Your main strength is that you generate no heal aggro, so won’t draw aggro, and will probably be one of the last ones standing at the end even if the tanks die.
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