When I first started playing my warshade, I had no idea what I was in for. The character turned out to be, hands down, the most enjoyable experience I've had playing City of Heroes. Everything about him, from level one forward, was absolutely phenomenal. More than just fun, he was bloody effective! He was a monster with outlandish potential, and the more I invested the more amazing things he could do. My warshade, Defying the Curse, had become the very first MFing Warshade.
He also happened to be the most complicated character I had ever played. The steep learning curve was entirely worth it. Knowing how much fun I had with him, though, I couldn't keep what I learned to myself. I decided to share my experience to give other people a chance at this much fun. This is my guide to playing The MFing Warshade. If you're somebody who wants to get into a tri-form warshade and isn't afraid to play aggressively, then this guide is right up your alley.
Let's clear some things up before we get too far along.
What I'm not going to do:
I am not going to list each power, describe what it does, and detail all the numbers. You're resourceful; you can find this stuff out on your own.
I'm not going to hand you an IO build. If you're just here for the mids export so you can run to the market and purple your 'shade, then GTFO. The MFing Warshade is not a build.
I'm not going to claim that mine is the only way or the best way to play a warshade. There are many ways to play a warshade and best is a very subjective term. For instance, AlienOne has done some pretty crazy things with his human only warshade.
Still reading? Good.
What I am going to do:
I am going to advise good uses of the powers you get. I'll highlight the really good ones and briefly mention the ones I think you should avoid.
I am going to guide you along the leveling path. Characters don't start at 50 with a full compliment of IOs.
I am going to do my best to give you all the tools you need to get the most out of your tri-form experience. This is intended to be a comprehensive guide to creating a fun and highly effective tri-form warshade. This includes covering useful binds, clever tactics and helpful pool powers, as well as taking a look at the IO sets that can add the most to your warshade.
By the end of this guide, you will have everything you need to be The MFing Warshade.
So what the hell is The MFing Warshade?
I know that's what you're thinking. As mentioned earlier, The MFing Warshade is not a build or even a certain play style. It is a state of mind. It is one that embraces the jack-of-all-trades nature of the beast and makes the most of it. It is one that never stops and never fears. It is one that can fit any role and sometimes all of them. It is one that, in its prime, causes the team to pause for a moment of reverence and think to themselves, "Wow, that is one MFing warshade."
At its height, The MFing Warshade will have 300% damage bonus, 85% resist all, well over 50% tohit bonus, three damage dealing pets in tow, a ranged AoE attack chain, and the ability to refill both bars more often than I blink. It can also perma stun ten targets, perma hold one, and even stun bosses in a single shot. It has mez protection with an 80% hitpoints bonus on demand. It can even shrug off defeat twice every five minutes.
Have I captured your interest yet?
Then let's get started! Be sure to buckle up, because this is going to be one hell of a ride. While leveling up, you'll notice that your strategies evolve and diversify at a rapid pace. Almost every new power is game changing.
I think I'm going to do everything at once here. I'll explain powers as I walk through the levels, as well as describe the tactics that these powers open up for you.
Phase One: Pre-Nova (Levels 1-5)
Assuming you've already logged in and created one badass costume, it's time to pick the first two powers before you start cutting a swath through the streets of Paragon City. Absorption doesn't really do much and is not optional, but that's alright because you need a place to put a Steadfast KB protection IO anyway. The real question here is do you go with Shadow Bolt or Ebon Eye? Pick either one you want, because five levels from now it won't matter anyway.
In fact, that's about how the rest of this phase goes. Pick whatever powers you want because these early ones really don't offer you anything. Whichever blast you didn't pick when you created the character would be a good idea. Gravimetric Snare might be nice if you had the slots to devote to it. As a tri-form, toggle powers in general are very limited in use. Personally, I ended up taking Orbiting Death simply because it's a cool as hell animation. Recently, pool powers have opened up at level 4, so Hasten is a good option.
Right now would be a good time to set up a teleport bind. I suggest you get used to teleport. It's your inherent travel power and is, by far, the fastest mode of transport in the game. The bind I use makes teleport incredibly easy. All you have to do is have your cursor where you want to go, hold shift and then click.
/bind shift+lbutton powexecname shadow step
Of course, you don't have to use teleport. You can easily fly around in nova or take super jump or speed to taste. It's just so convenient and speedy and has a unique animation. Nothing says "I'm The MFing Warshade" like stepping out of the void.
Most people join a sewer team and blow right through this phase before it even starts. That's an especially great idea for kheldians thanks to the inherent, which I'll cover now. The inherent, Dark Sustenance, is definitely something you're going to want to be aware of. Spend as much of your time as you possibly can in teams as you level up and you'll notice a very large difference. Join eight man TFs if you can.
Every offensive player on your team is going to give you 20% extra damage, this includes scrappers, blasters, brutes and stalkers. That's like adding a damage DO that doesn't get affected by ED to every attack just for inviting a scrapper to the team. Teams always have scrappers.
Defenders and tanks may not be as common, but corruptors and masterminds are. Each one of those adds to your resistances (including psionic). Unfortunately, to have enough resistance for this to be noticeable on its own, you have to already be in a support heavy team. Support heavy teams hardly worry about incoming damage.
Controllers and dominators give you status protection, which is very nice, but as with the resistance, you need a few of them before it actually makes a difference. At that point, none of the enemies are attacking to be able to mez you.
Finally, any epic archetype will give you slow resistance. This, my eager young warshades, is amazing. Slows are one of the few things that can cripple a warshade.
Phase Two: Pre-Dwarf (Levels 6-19)
With the level six ding you need to pick up Dark Nova. I say need because really, your choices are to take one blast or four that come with flight as well as damage and tohit bonuses. Not to mention the fact that this is a tri-form guide. Dark Nova is a toggle with an endurance cost, but it also grants a recovery boost of equal magnitude. I don't feel any of its attributes are worth slotting, but the presence of a recovery buff grants us an opportunity. Go buy a Performance Shifter proc and throw it in here to essentially double the recovery bonus. Anyway, right now you should do two very important things.
First, you should set up a few binds and your trays to match. We're going to do these keeping in mind that you will be getting Black Dwarf before long. I use the Q key to get into and out of nova form because it's very easy to reach with my movement hand, but you can use any key you like. I keep my nova powers in tray 8, but likewise you can use any tray you prefer.
/bind Q "powexectoggleon Dark Nova$$gototray 8"
/bind alt+q "powexectoggleoff Dark Nova$$powexectoggleoff Black Dwarf$$gototray 1$$bind shift+lbutton powexecname shadow step"
The first bind hops into nova form. The second drops out of either form and rebinds the teleport click. It needs to rebind the teleport click because Black Dwarf has its own teleport power.
The next thing to do is a respec if you have one. Yes, I know you're only level six. Trust me, this is important. When you respec a Kheldian who uses forms, the powers that the forms use are technically inherent powers and can be slotted from level one up. Those precious four slots you had to waste in powers you won't use? Move them to nova blasts now and thank me later.
Somewhere in this phase you'll want to grab Hasten, provided you didn't at level 4. Put it on auto and never look back. Get used to the crash because it's never going to go away. Quite the opposite, it's only going to come up more often as you progress, so you might as well learn to deal with it now.
Other notably good powers here are Sunless Mire, Shadow Cloak and Gravity Well. Mire is a clone of the tier 8 power from dark melee, except you get it at level 12. It gives more damage bonus over time than Build Up with just one enemy. Saturated, it's like holding down the build up button for 30 seconds. Shadow Cloak is great for all the TFs you'll be doing since recall friend is an inherent power too. You can pick up Super Speed to have full stealth on the cheap. Gravity Well is a medicine. At this point it treats quantum-stomach, but later it will provide relief for sapper-aches and surgeon inflammation.
The powers you want to avoid are the shields and the blasts. The blasts are terrible in comparison to your nova powers and the shields eventually get eclipsed (sorry, I couldn't help myself).
In this phase of the game you are capable of a few cool tricks. The stealth will allow you to position yourself for optimal mires. Slot Gravity Well like an attack, not a hold, and with a full mire it can one shot minions and take huge chunks of HP from bosses/LTs. It's also nice to stack holds with the controller on the team for an immediate boss lockdown. Mostly though, you'll be spending your time in the nova form hurling purple fluffy doom at soon to be dead things.
Phase Three: The MFing Warshade is born (Levels 20-31)
This is where things start to ramp up. Pick up Black Dwarf at 20 and set up a new bind. I use E and tray 9 when it comes to dwarf, but feel free to substitute your own into this bind.
/bind E "powexectoggleon Black Dwarf$$gototray 9$$bind shift+lbutton powexecname black dwarf step"
So now you've got it all, right? If things get ugly you can become a lobster, but otherwise you hover back and blast.
I have to break you of that bad habit before you even get it. You do not have forms. You do not shift into nova when your team needs a blaster or shift into dwarf when your team needs a tank. Never, no never, not ever think of yourself as a character who shifts into forms as the situation arises.
You are The MFing Warshade!
You are all forms at all times. Thinking anything else will cripple you without you even realizing it. You are never stuck in one form. Nova thrives on human and dwarf buffs. Dwarf protects human and nova. Human fuels dwarf and nova. Embrace this idea.
Regarding Black Dwarf, it gives you a hefty chunk of additional HP and very nice resistances to everything except psionic. It also gives you status protection and can be activated while mezzed like a break free. Just like Dark Nova, the recovery boost is enough to offset the cost of the toggle. Fully enhanced resistances are just shy of 60%. The Dwarf Mire is the real highlight here, as it mimics the human one. The damage and tohit bonuses are the same and it recharges much faster, but it only lasts ten seconds. Enhanced for recharge and with Hasten, you'll be able to stack it with itself.
This leads me into the double mire. Oftentimes, it's best to use the human mire first as it lasts longer, then use the dwarf mire for some really heavy hitting. Another option is to start with the dwarf mire that allows for eating the alpha strike easier. The human mire can follow with the buffed tohit and all the enemies already pissed and moving closer into the radius, resulting in more targets for the longer lasting mire. Both of these can compound on the nova damage bonus for a few quick AoE blasts.
Having said that, the next step is getting Stygian Circle. With this power, you don't ever need to stop. What it does is use nearby corpses to heal you and restore endurance; more corpses provide more health and endurance. With Hasten and a recharge enhancement, this thing is ready almost all the time and, as long as you've been doing your job, it'll be able to fill both of your bars. Everyone else on the team will be sucking wind while you stomp all over enemies and shout "I'm The MFing Warshade!" Repeat the following mantra ad nauseam: "Must find more bodies, must find more bodies, must find more bodies..."
Back already? Good. I've got a few more powers to tell you about.
Gravitic Emanation is a power you'll want to have. If Gravity Well was medicine, this beastly tool is an ambulance. It's a fairly wide arc that can stun and knockback up to ten enemies. Enhance the stun and the recharge and this baby is permanent, but don't worry about that too much. Used right, you'll bunch the enemies up nicely for a few mires and they'll be dead before the stun ever wears off. Just be sure to target the guy in the back so that you know you're in range when you activate the power.
Unchain Essence is also a great power, but not many people are comfortable with it because you have to target a corpse and the power doesn't do that automatically. If you don't mind using it, it's a mini-nuke without a crash that has a fifty-fifty shot at stunning the things that survive. A nice trick with this power is to double mire, then one shot a minion with Gravity Well and blow him up. Follow up with emanation to stun if it looks ugly, but otherwise lay waste with nova blasts.
Outside of that, there's few powers in this phase worth mentioning. Inky Aspect provides little benefit since it's a toggle, although it can enable an instant boss stun when coupled with emanation or unchain. Nebulous Form used to be bad, but now the phase shift kicks in immediately, so it works amazingly well as an "oh shit" button. Shadow Slip is a clone of the new fifth Teleportation Pool power, which claims to be able to teleport you to any alignment appropriate zone. I played around with it and was ultimately disappointed for a few reasons. Travel is already very easy in this game and the power omits the zones that aren't easy to reach, like Cimerora, RWZ, and most hazard zones. Further, it does not allow a Rogue in Paragon City to teleport to any of the isles.
This phase finishes at a point where powers are plentiful and slots are a premium. What you want to do is find powers that work well with only the default slot. Shadow Cloak, Starless Step, Inky Aspect, Combat Jumping are all great examples. Frankenslotting is highly recommended as it will ease the pain of the slot crunch by a great deal. Since almost every warshade attack has slow and -recharge components, the use of slow sets will let you grab a lot of accuracy, endurance, and recharge enhancement for an extremely cheap price.
Phase Four: The MFing Warshade matures (Levels 32+)
At level 32 you're faced with the first difficult choice. "Do I go boom, or do I summon fluffy balls of swirling purple doom?" The nuke is nice. You can take it and tack a real nuke on the end of the double mire unchain trick. Eat one blue inspiration and use a Stygian Circle, then keep on fighting like nothing happened. The pets are nice. It's easy to make permanent and eventually you'll have multiples following you around. The taunts from dwarf attacks allow them to continually eat souls without fear of reprisal. So which do you take?
The answer, of course, is both. I took Dark Extraction first and fit Quasar in at 41. Neither one is really mandatory though. Many people don't like the crash and some people can't be bothered to continually summon pets. That's fine, these powers are just "nice to haves" in my book.
Few people seem to like self rez powers, but Stygian Return is one I love. It gives you ten seconds of untouchable status. If you were thinking "But it needs enemies to work!" just now, shut up. You are The MFing Warshade. Go back and repeat your mantra some more times. You should always be drowning in enemies. If you aren't using this power every time it's up, you haven't found enough bodies yet. As a bonus, it's also a power that only needs the default slot. Slap a recharge reduction in there and call it done.
Eclipse. Oh yeah, this is what we've been waiting for. Some people roll a warshade just for this power. Fully enhanced, it only takes 5 enemies in range to cap your resistance to everything. Notably, your resistance caps at 85%, just shy of the tanker cap. For comparison, a scrapper running unstoppable takes 66% more damage than you do, and he still has a psi hole. It lasts ninety seconds and carries across all forms, allowing you to buff and blast away with virtual impunity. It also refills your endurance bar.
Kheldians don't get ancillary pools, so from here on out you'll be picking up the powers that looked good but you didn't have room for or some more one slot wonders. I already mentioned I took Quasar at 41, after that I took three concealment powers for somewhere to put Luck of the Gambler +recharge IOs.
Which brings me to set IOs in general. Later on in this guide, I go into great detail for how to slot a Warshade, particularly with regard to sets, but for now I'll give you a quick overview. If you've already started slotting sets by the start of this phase, good for you. IO's don't start at level 50 and you don't have to wait for level 47 to slot them. The long term goal here is enough recharge bonuses to make Eclipse permanent. Recharge helps almost every aspect of the warshade, though. Heaps of recharge leads to having mire up more often than it's down, stacking dwarf mires, Stygian Circling more often, three pets at a time, a near seamless ranged AoE attack chain, unchaining every mob, and blowing Quasar every time you have a blue inspiration drop.
One great place to get recharge is Basilisk's Gaze in Gravity Well. I know I said to slot it like an attack earlier, and you will. Just put two common damage IOs in the last two slots and you're golden. Expedient Reinforcement can give you recharge in four slots as well. Another good one is Gravitic Emanation. The purple stun set is cheap as purples go, but there's also a 6.25% recharge bonus to be had from Stupefy, which is also cheap. Positron's Blast goes in a few places, but the set itself is light on recharge, so I try to set the sixth slot to have a common recharge IO. Luck of the Gambler's are not cheap, but they are worth the cost in my mind. You have plenty of powers with just one slot, and a few can take this IO. Here's the master list of options.
After that, defense is always a good option. Adding defense has a multiplying effect on your survivability, which is already high from Eclipse. Further, defense is the closest thing to mez protection you will find for your human/nova forms. It's not easy to fit a lot in, but if you can, the rewards are worth it. Personally, I like finding +HP or +max endurance, but that's not a true priority. The recharge sets usually come with recovery and you have Stygian Circle, so I wouldn't bother looking for these. Likewise, damage bonuses are a bad idea because you have the mires already. With enough recharge, you'll be able to cap your own damage; one or two 3% bonuses aren't going to matter. Keep frankenslotting in mind. A lot of powers only need three slots to do what they need to do. For instance, my Sunless Mire only has three slots and is just slotted for acc and recharge. I let its damage be done through buffed nova blasts. One last suggestion is to get the buildup proc from the pet purple set and throw it in your Dark Extraction; it's actually cheap for a purple set. Every target your pet attacks has a chance to trigger the proc.
Must Find More Bodies
Remember that mantra I had you repeat? Of course you do. Anyway, I want to do a brief explanation of why you must find more bodies. I've often said that I had trouble soloing with my warshade until I turned the difficulty up. There's some simple math that can be done to show you exactly why this happens.
Let's say you're on the standard difficulty, so you mostly fight groups of three minions. For simplicity's sake, let's say these minions each do 1 unit of damage for a total of 3 incoming damage. Thanks to positioning and accuracy mechanics, Eclipse can reliably hit two of them, which brings you 22.5% resist (assumes no slotting). Now you're taking 2.325 units of damage from the three minions.
Let's keep the ratios the same and make it six minions, Eclipse hitting four. Now your resist is 45%, and the 6 units of damage incoming is reduced to 3.3 units of damage. The incoming damage is twice what it was from three minions, but the actual damage received is only 41% higher.
Double the group again to twelve minions, but now you can hit enough to cap your resistance at 85%. The 12 units of damage is reduced to 1.8 units of damage. You will be taking less damage from twelve enemies than you do from three.
This is oversimplifying things a bit, because spawn size increases add lieutenants which are tougher enemies. Even assuming the spawn of twelve does 50% more units of damage per enemy, though, you'd still be taking only 2.7 worth of damage, just barely over what the three minions do.
This also isn't taking into account the fact that you will have a much larger damage buff from mire, will be able to leverage your AoEs better, and be able to heal more often from Stygian Circle.
One more time: You must find more bodies.
That's it for the walk-through. You should now be equipped with all the knowledge you need to enjoy your experience as The MFing Warshade. Go. Hunt. Be purple.
If that's not enough for you, the next section is devoted to explaining the setup, binds, and tactics I use. The final section goes into great detail for building a better chaos engine on any budget.
Advanced MFing Stuff
Alright, I see you're ready to get tentacle deep in the more complex workings of The MFing Warshade. Be careful, any more steps into the void and you'll try to gobble up the soul of your boss. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.
First, I want to talk in depth about your trays and suggest how to set them up. Then I'm going to get into some of the binds I use and tell you how they help me. Finally, I'm going to teach you some of the neat tricks and tactics I've stumbled upon.
The MFing Trays
I don't know about you, but I'm astounded by the myriad of powers available to us. As such, power management becomes essential to the efficient eatinating of your enemies' essences (alliteration aside). I've already mentioned keeping your nova and dwarf powers in their own trays and letting binds swap them around for you. This keeps form powers from cluttering up your normal trays.
First, I recommend expanding to all three trays full time. Now take a moment to think about the powers you don't need to put in the trays. Your Teleport power doesn't need to be there since you already have a bind for it and it doesn't have a recharge time. Likewise, the form toggles don't need to be in the trays anywhere. The powers you got from levels 1-4 probably don't need somewhere to go because you likely haven't slotted them at all and thus won't use them. Hasten may need a spot, but if you never take it off auto it won't. If you're like me, you have three concealment powers that you'll never turn on.
Keep in mind that the top two trays will never change as you dance between forms. This is important because quite a few of your powers are on long timers and you want to use as soon as they're ready. To keep an eye on these powers, such as Dark Extraction or Eclipse, you should put them in the top trays. Even if they're grayed out while you're in a nova/dwarf, they will still flash when they finish recharging. Other good powers for up here are Sunless Mire, Unchain Essence, Quasar, and even Stygian Circle. I know circle recharges fast, but if you need to drop forms to use it, you better be sure it's ready.
That leaves the few attacks and some utility powers that can be put in the first tray. These powers are generally always up. Gravity Well should go here, as well as Gravitic Emanation. I also put my vet attacks in this tray. It makes sense to put Shadow Recall here as well as the situational powers like Inky Aspect or Starless Step if you took them.
One last tip: Put all Incarnate powers and accolade powers like Geas and Eye of the Magus in your top trays. These can be used *while shapeshifted.* Also worth noting while we're on the subject is that accolade powers are affected by global recharge bonuses, of which you should have a lot.
The MFing Binds
What I'm going to do here is list the binds I use. In the best case, you find them all extremely useful and take to them like a squid to the sky. In the worst case, you find them mildly inspiring but contradictory to your style and develop your own adaptations. Some of my binds are simply for tray management purposes, while others are to enable faster reactions. There's also a pair of targeting binds.
You may notice I make use of a lot of key/alt+key combinations. This is because I find the alt button easy to hit with my thumb while I use my fingers on the other keys. You may also notice that the keys I use center around the WASD portion of the keyboard. This is because I keep my mouse hand on my mouse all the time. It may not be the best way to play, but it works for me.
/bind T "powexectoggleoff walk$$powexectoggleon shadow cloak$$powexectoggleon super speed$$powexectoggleon combat jumping"
/bind alt+T "powexectoggleoff shadow cloak$$powexectoggleoff combat jumping$$powexectoggleoff super speed"
This is my standard for travel/stealth powers. Pressing T once turns Combat Jumping on and walk off. The second and third presses activate Super Speed and Shadow Cloak, respectively. I never need just Super Speed and I won't use Shadow Cloak unless I've already got Super Speed's stealth to go invisible. Alt+T simply turns them all off. That's three powers I was able to take out of my trays.
/bind alt+E "powexectoggleoff black dwarf$$powexectoggleoff dark nova$$powexecname sunless mire$$gototray 1$$bind shift+lbutton powexecname shadow step"
/bind V "powexectoggleoff black dwarf$$powexectoggleoff dark nova$$powexecname stygian circle$$gototray 1$$bind shift+lbutton powexecname shadow step"
/bind C "powexectoggleoff black dwarf$$powexectoggleoff dark nova$$powexecname eclipse$$gototray 1$$bind shift+lbutton powexecname shadow step"
Three binds here that all operate the same way: Drop out of whatever form I'm in to execute a critical power. These powers are reactionary and often used. I paired Sunless Mire with the E key because it's used so often with the dwarf mire. V is my standard heal button (e.g. Dark Regen, Reconstruction) and C is usually my godmode button. Consistency is nice when you have a lot of alts.
As a side note, the alt+E bind allowed me to take even Sunless Mire out of my tray. Mine has zero downtime, so I can usually look for it on my buffs bar and decide whether it's recharged based on whether I have the buff. The same would be true of Eclipse, except that I care a lot more whether that buff is allowed to wear off. I use its recharge cycle to tell myself how much time I have left on the buff.
/bind TAB "targetenemynext$$targetcustomnext enemy alive quantum$$targetcustomnext enemy alive void$$targetcustomnext enemy alive cyst"
/bind CTRL+TAB "targetcustomnext enemy defeated"
These are two convenient targeting binds. The first one helps you spot quantums, voids, and cysts. Be careful, though, as you won't be able to target anything else with TAB until it's dead. The second one is to help with Unchain Essence and Dark Extraction targeting.
The MFing Tactics
No, this is not where I tell you how to lay waste to large numbers of easy foes until purple recipes rain from the sky. If you followed the first half of the guide, then you can do this already. This is where I go over tactics for dealing with things that are sometimes difficult.
If you read that and thought "Easy, just go dwarf," then shame on you. You're bad and you should feel bad. Remember what you learned in Phase Three: you are all forms at all times. Thinking any other way limits your options; options are power. There are a hundred ways to deal with mezzing enemies, and dwarf only covers about six of them.
Mez them first. You have Gravity Well, a heavy hitting hold, and the means to single out that mezzer through stealth or TP foe if you took those powers. You also have Gravitic Emanation, one hell of a ranged stun for when there are multiple mezzing enemies. You may also have Inky Aspect; use this if most or all of the minions are mezzers. If it's a mezzing boss, a healthy stack of stuns from aspect and emanation will do the trick. Unchain Essence can stun too.
Sacrifice Fluffy. You have pets that follow you. Either stealth or teleport past the enemy group and let fluffy take the mez. You might hurt his feelings, but that's fine because he's already a tortured ball of angst you ripped from a whimpering, delectable soul. How much worse can he really feel?
Phase in. If you took the power, you can use Nebulous Form before you jump into the group. Toggle it up, run in and let the first volley of attacks on you do nothing. Wait for the mezzer to waste that crippling shot, then toggle off and wreck his day with your own hold or stun combo.
Kill them first. You have some very heavy hitting attacks from nova, especially if you carry a mire from the last mob. In fact, I've even run ahead to the next mob to saturate a mire, only to run back in nova and feed the mezzer his teeth. Yet another option is to open up with a (mired) Quasar.
Get inspired. Seriously, you have inspirations. You should be killing so many enemies that you will have trouble keeping an empty tray. Either a break free or a few purples should keep you mez free long enough to kill two full groups of enemies. Please look here for some handy methods to making the inspirations you want.
Wait it out. Generally, this is a bad idea, but you can always just wait for the mez to wear off. This used to be more of an option when shifting forms actually took time. Maybe you simply want to cackle madly while the enemies feebly attack your stunned yet impervious body, all the while getting pelted by your three floating furious fluffy friends. Eclipse is not a toggle, so the resistance it grants will not suppress while you are mezzed.
Die. Ha, you probably think I'm kidding. Little hint: Mez and debuffs go away when you die, and Stygian Return gives you ten full seconds of glorious, unhindered retribution.
Bosses can be a right pain if they're resistant to your negative energy damage. They will last a lot longer than the rest of the mob, leaving you without targets to buff off of, and a few of them might be more than you can handle. If you took the mantra to heart, I shouldn't have to explain what to do here.
Find more bodies. That's right, if things start to look ugly, move to the next group of ugly, even though it has even more bosses. The old bosses will most likely follow you. Refresh Eclipse and a couple mires from the full crowd. Now spin around to face the half dead bosses from the last group and feast on their life force.
Unfortunately, sometimes there are no more bodies.
Pace yourself and the group. If you know ahead of time that you've only got the food in front of you, then it's a good idea to lay off the nukes. Stick to your single target attacks and aim the cone to hit as few as you can. Focus on your bosses while killing off minions and LTs only when you need fuel for Stygian Circle, and only as much as you need. You can really stretch out a meal this way.
Lock 'em down. When you're past the point of no return, then one solid option is to play a game of lockdown. Toggle on your Inky Aspect and line them up for Gravitic Emanations. You should be able to keep three or more bosses permanently stunned by doing this. It'll be a slow fight, and it will lock you in human for a while, but it'll be safe.
Knuckle up and scrap it out. If stuns are not an option, or if you just want to do it faster, then you'll have to start playing smash smash stomp with the tiny people who are causing you trouble. Eclipse won't be enough to keep you alive with only a few bosses to fuel it, but it will carry into dwarf where you should still have capped resistance. Endurance management can be a problem here, so try to pace yourself and remember that Eclipse will fill your bar every time you drop to refresh it. Try to drop while the mire is active for the added +tohit. For added safety against, watch for the knockdown your dwarf attacks can cause and use that window of opportunity.
Hover blast them. Never discount sneaky sky squid as a viable strategy against melee heavy foes in general, but this can become critical when you're left with those last few bosses that hit like trucks in melee. Usually their ranged attacks are weaker and recharge slower, so this might be all the survival you need to out last them.
Other Miscellaneous Tips
The MFing Warshade's only true enemies are indecision and hesitation. Careful consideration of your options will cost you time. Lost time is also lost momentum, and that momentum is what makes you awesome. To reach your full potential, you will need to think less and react more. You will be walking a razor's edge, and as long as you do all the right things at all the right times, you will be unstoppable. There's a little room for error, but it's staggering how often that brief lapse resulted in an unexpected Stygian Return.
Extracted Essences will persist after you've been defeated. That's right, these self loathing little bastages don't just flee from existence when their summoner passes on, they continue subject themselves to more angst. I remember when I discovered this. We were fighting Hopkins after devastating the Crey between him and the door. A couple lucky shots and I dropped, only to see my teammates ask "WTF?!? How are you still attacking, Curse?"
Another nifty trick I've noticed is that my binds seem to allow me to use one power through a mez. If I'm in Dwarf, but have a mez or two lingering on me, I can use the alt+e bind to drop and execute Sunless Mire, even though I should be mezzed in human form! I believe this is because the commands happen in the same "moment" of server time. When the power is activated, you're still under the protection of Dwarf, so the attack is allowed to queue.
Building the MFing Warshade
I cannot believe the sheer amount of people who have requested, even begged for, a Mids export. I am not going to do it. Please believe me when I tell you: "It won't help." In all likelihood, it would harm your warshade experience. I will not do it. Stop asking.
I'm leaving the above paragraph as it is, despite the fact that I've revised my position. I have posted my MFing build with the heavy condition that it is not recommended. I still refuse to provide even templates, because I think they will stifle your creativity and shoehorn you into a style that might not be best for you.
That said, let's get on with this part of the guide, which will be detailed instructions on how to build a purple doom machine to suit your play style and budget. I'm going to briefly cover what I believe are the two major "build philosophies." After that, I will delve into the four major "budget categories" and detail their effect on each philosophy. Each section builds on the previous, so it will not be an easy read if you just skip to what budget you think you fit into.
What's Your Focus?
There are many thousands of ways to build a Warshade; this is mostly due to the wide variety of things which Warshades are capable. All of them are reliant on personal taste and aspiration. As this is a guide to playing The MFing Warshade, I can ignore discussion of all human form, human/dwarf, and human/nova builds; this leaves me with about 3,872 ways to build a Warshade to discuss. Seeing as I want to finish this before our sun explodes or my mother decides she really will get along with my wife (not sure which will happen first), I will further condense things into one of two generalized groups which I have dubbed KA-BAR and Swiss Army Knife.
KA-BAR The people who will build to this style are straightforward and ruthless. They generally follow a strategy of "kill the other guy," while a few grasp the advanced strategy of "kill the other guy before he kills me." Much like the combat knife this style is named after, the build is designed around a single purpose. When it comes to finding knives that kill people, you'd be hard pressed to find something better than a KA-BAR. Follow these slotting guidelines if you want to deal as much damage as inhumanly possible.
Swiss Army Knife The people who will build to this style are evil, deceiving, conniving and evil. These kind of players delight in all the supplemental control powers warshades are given and play to the strategy of "maniacal laughter while they struggle to free themselves from my grasp." The Swiss Army Knife has all sorts of tools that are useful in all kinds of scenarios. There's still a sharp blade to be sure, but the real beauty here is the breadth of ability. While this path is much safer than KA-BAR, the cost is the speed at which you can accomplish things. Follow these slotting guidelines if you would rather have solid control of the situation at all times. And be evil.
No doubt you are going to ask me, "Which is better?" To that, I can only reply with, "Which is better... for what?"
Give me your money! All of it!
I know I talked a lot about IOs in my walk through, but believe me, they are not necessary. As I have said before, The MFing Warshade is not a build, it is a state of mind. Across the range of budgets, some things may play differently. There will be variations in strategy and other nuances, but the overarching mindset does not change. I'm not going to lie and tell you an SO'd warshade will perform just as well as one chock full of purples, but I will uphold that an SO'd warshade is far from weak. Built and played right, even an SO'd Warshade is a sight to behold and can perform extraordinary feats. In fact, I spent most of my growing time as a Warshade with nothing but SOs. Well, except for the KB protection. Seriously, I don't care what you have to do, even if it's to dress up as an emo catgirl and sell yourself in Pocket D, get KB protection. Bronze AE rolls in the lowest band will give you Steadfast or Karma KB protection, which is probably the easiest and cheapest way. Steadfast can be slotted in Absorption; Karma goes in Shadow Cloak.
The SO/Common IO Budget
Since the launch of City of Heroes: Freedom, many more players these days find themselves on an SO budget, though not for lack of influence. Premium players who have unlocked Warshades will be restricted to SOs, but more than that, there are still a good number of VIPs who for whatever reason do not use the invention system.
More than for anyone else, slots are very near and dear to you, especially while leveling up. Many powers can have multiple attributes enhanced and you cannot afford to six slot every power.
General tips: Regardless of your focus, Eclipse should be six slotted. Two accuracy, one resist, three recharge. It'll take seven foes to actually cap your resistance, but six will put you 2% away from the cap. With this slotting, hitting six foes is easy, even if they're a few levels high. You can swap one of the accuracy out for resistance, in which case you get very near the cap with five enemies and cap at six; it's just harder to hit them. Recharge is the most important, because while this power is active, you are all but indestructible. On this slotting, without even counting Hasten, Eclipse is up 60% of the time.
The other mandatory slotting is Hasten. It needs three recharge enhancements, no questions. With this slotting, Hasten is active about two thirds of the time, bringing Eclipse up to being active 70% of the time.
It's a good idea to give Black Dwarf at least two resistance enhancements. Add a third if you want to be able to rely on Dwarf to save your hindtentacles. Endurance reduction and modification are not worth the slots.
Sunless Mire is nice with two accuracy and three recharge. Drop the slot of accuracy before recharge if you need the slot. With this slotting, it will be active more than half the time. Put the same slotting in Dwarf Mire for a permanent version as long as you stay in Dwarf. Almost any other attack you get can be slotted with a single accuracy. Between your two mires and the Nova tohit buff, you shouldn't have a problem hitting things.
If you like Dark Extraction, it really should have two accuracy since it doesn't benefit from Sunless Mire. Fluffy is permanent with just Hasten's average buff, but to be sure I'd throw at least one recharge in there too. If you have the slots to devote, it's really "slot to taste" between more recharge or damage.
KA-BAR: Find out what attacks you seem to use most often, and give them as many slots as you can. Priority goes to the harder hitting ones. After the first accuracy, add damage, recharge, recharge, damage, and if you still have slots left, I'd go with one more recharge. You can get away without endurance reduction in attacks because you should always have corpses around to Stygian Circle off of. Thanks to Sunless Mire, attacks can still do good damage without damage enhancement, so your weaker attacks should get few slots with a focus on recharge. Unchain Essence and Quasar (if you took them) should get damage priority instead, since they will be more situational powers on this budget.
Swiss Army Knife: Your goal is to have the ability to lock down an entire spawn with stuns and hold bosses. To that end, make sure Gravity Well and Gravitic Emanation have two hold/stun enhancements and two recharge. With this slotting Gravity well can be stacked on bosses permanently, and Gravitic Emanation will be permanent on average with Hasten's buff. One slot of endurance reduction in human attacks is good for this kind of build since you will have less corpses on average to fill up with. The only things you should be slotting for damage are nova and maybe some dwarf attacks. Let the mires be your main source of damage "enhancement."
The Frankenslot Budget
When I say "frankenslot," what I mean is "use set IOs as if they were HOs." The reason to do this is that, as you add more aspects to an IO, the total enhancement value increases. A case can be made to say that this option is in fact cheaper than SOs, but that's an argument for a different thread. What I need to talk about is what this budget allows you to do over an SO build.
The most important change from the SO build is that it allows you to do the same thing in less slots. This means you either get better/faster attacks than before or you spread slots around more and get a larger selection of reliable attacks. Something else you can do is add procs to attacks.
General tips: A great slotting for Eclipse is four RES/RCHG and two common accuracy enhancements. Doing this maxes out your resistance and recharge for the power, while still keeping great accuracy. Five enemies will cap your resistance but four only gives you 70%. In fact, since the required number of targets is less, you can even drop one of the accuracy enhancements and put the slot somewhere else. Another option would be three RES/RCHG and one ACC/RCHG from Efficacy Adapter for a twinge of accuracy but still capping recharge and most of resistance in only four total slots.
Hasten and Dwarf unfortunately don't really benefit from this budget, so keep the slotting the same. If you have the cash, you can spring for a Performance Shifter proc to put in Dwarf. It's better to place one in Stamina first, since that carries into all three forms, but a second in Dwarf or even Nova never hurt anyone.
Sunless Mire and Dwarf Mire can condense their slots. Two ACC/RCHG and a common recharge is pretty close to perfect, and that's only three slots. Feel free to add damage, or instead of a common recharge, put two DMG/RCHG or ACC/DMG/RCHG. That's still only four slots, where before I suggested five.
Dark Extraction is difficult, because only two sets that it can take have recharge (three if you count the purple set). The best budget thing to do here is two ACC/DMG, one ACC/DMG/RCHG, and two common recharges. The enhancement values are all close to capped (recharge is capped), and that's only five slots.
KA-BAR: We've already freed up a few slots, so either flesh out those weaker filler attacks with some extra damage or shore up all your best attacks with a sixth slot. It becomes trivial to cap enhancement values of both damage and recharge now, so the best thing to do is add in endurance reduction or, interestingly enough, control duration. Endurance reduction will reduce your dependence on Stygian Circle to keep your blue bar full, and you'll start to use it more often as a heal. Adding control duration instead, though, gives you some more versatile utility. It's like putting a can opener on the handle of the knife; you're no Swiss Army Knife, but in a pinch you can open a can. Dwarf Drain does more damage than Strike, so it makes sense to slot this for damage first, but now it should be easy to fit some heal in with HEAL/RCHG or HEAL/END/RCHG enhancements.
Swiss Army Knife: Frankenslotting makes it much easier to ED cap both recharge and control duration of attacks. At the enhancement ceiling, Gravity Well can be triple stacked, so an unlucky miss doesn't mean the boss gets to wail on you while you recharge. Likewise, even Gravitic Emanation starts to overlap well. So what do you do with all the extra slots? Start adding in bits of damage. You're getting a larger model Swiss Army Knife that has a longer blade, but it's still not a tool designed for combat. In my opinion, the Swiss Army Knife build benefits more from frankenslotting than the KA-BAR variation.
The 'Budget' Set Build
Not all of us have the (patience required to obtain) billions and billions needed to get purples. I sure as hell don't, but it didn't stop me from buying up enough recharge to make Eclipse a way of life. A lot of suggestions in here are expensive to some people. Even if you're rolling in influence, making a permanent Eclipse build requires substantial investment. Luckily, there are plenty of options to buy what you need without influence.
When looking at set bonuses, recharge should be the primary goal of any warshade, and I'd like to take a moment to explain why. For any other AT, building offensively means getting recharge and damage bonuses to obtain specific attack chains for high DPS and building defensively means adding defense, HP and regen bonuses to increase survivability. For a warshade, however, recharge bonuses benefit offense and defense simultaneously through a greater percentage of Eclipse, Mire, and Dark Extraction uptime. Simply put, recharge makes you hit harder and stand longer.
I hope you noticed the hybridization in the frankenslot budget, because the lines between KA-BAR and Swiss Army Knife only get more blurry as you move up to this budget.
The questions you need to ask are: "How much recharge do I need?" and "where do I get it?"
Eclipse recharges in 300 seconds and to reduce the recharge to the 90 seconds it is active, it needs 234% total recharge. I know that looks like a lot, but you get 95% from enhancements, so now you only need 139% in bonuses. "But wait!" you say, "what about Hasten?" Well, that would be 70% if it were active all the time. Unfortunately, it's not, so you can't count on it. The neat thing, at least, is that as we add recharge bonuses, Hasten becomes more potent as well. Long story short, you need at least 85% in global bonuses for Eclipse to be sufficiently "permanent." Of course, more is generally better, as it provides you with overlap and protection from the occasional debuffs. You will get to a point of diminished returns eventually.
Now, there are plenty of places to get the recharge bonuses you need. I'm going to list some of the best ones, the number of slots they require and the applicable powers.
Luck of the Gambler +7.5% Recharge Global. Requires one slot. Fits in Shadow Cloak, Combat Jumping, Maneuvers, Vengeance, Stealth, Grant Invisibility, Invisibility. Notably a different bonus than other +7.5% bonuses, so it avoids the law of five with them.
Basilisk's Gaze +7.5% set bonus. Requires four slots. Fits in Gravity Well.
Kinetic Crash +7.5% set bonus. Requires six slots. Fits in Nova Blast/Emanation/Detonation, Gravitic Emanation, Unchain Essence. It provides only moderate enhancement across the board and overdoses on KB enhancement, but it's the cheapest recharge on the market.
Call to Arms/Expedient Reinforcement +6.25% bonus. Requires four slots. Fits in Dark Extraction.
Decimation +6.25% bonus. Requires five slots. Fits Dark Nova Bolt and Blast.
Positron's Blast +6.25% bonus. Requires five slots. Fits in Unchain Essence, Dark Nova Emanation and Detonation.
Stupefy +6.25% bonus. Requires five slots. Fits in Unchain Essence and Gravitic Emanation.
Crushing Impact +5% bonus. Requires five slots. Fits in Gravity Well, Drain Essence, Dwarf Strike, Smite, and Drain.
Doctored Wounds +5% bonus. Requires five slots. Fits in Drain Essence, Dwarf Drain, Stygian Circle.
Obliteration +5% bonus. Requires five slots. Fits in Orbiting Death, Sunless Mire, Quasar, Dwarf Mire.
Perfect Zinger +5% bonus. Requires four slots. Fits in Dwarf Antagonize.
Obviously, the cheapest in terms of slots are the LotGs. Those are where I started, and I bought them all with merits so I'd have level 25s. The lower level salvage tends to be cheaper, and I keep the bonus even exemplaring to level 22. A lot of the sets are lacking in one way or another, so don't forget what you learned in frankenslotting 201. Decimation and Crushing Impact, however, are pretty good. Basilisk's Gaze is limited by being a level 30 set, but it's fairly good for a hold. It leaves KA-BAR room for two damage enhancements or Swiss Army Knife with room for more hold or recharge and maybe a Lockdown +2 mag hold proc. Swiss Army Knife will use one or two Stupefy sets where KA-BAR will find room for Decimation and more Positron's Blast. Just beware that law of five.
A recent addition to the game has been the Kheldian ATIO, Kheldian's Grace. The set is very much like a purple set in that each piece is unique. I recommend placing this set anywhere you would otherwise have Postiron's Blast. The benefits over Positron's Blast include better enhancement values as well as an even bigger recharge bonus. The downfall is that the set doesn't have a damage proc of its own, but you only need five pieces of the set, so there's still room for one proc if you have the slots to go around. Finally, I would recommend putting the Form Empowerment into Stygian Return or Dark Nova Bolt. Whether you use the power it's slotted in or not, you get the Form Empowerment all the time.
By using Enhancement Catalysts which you earn through incarnate content, you can turn this set into a purple set in terms of power. The recharge bonus increases to 10% and the enhancement values all get boosted even higher. Be careful, though, that the Superior Kheldian's Grace and vanilla Kheldian's Grace are different sets. If you only boost two or three of the enhancements, you will not be able to get either recharge bonus. I recommend starting with the Form Empowerment, then saving five more Catalysts until you are ready to do the whole set.
The 'Purpled Out' Set Build
I couldn't talk about this kind of build if I didn't have one, so for this section, all thanks go to Organica.
Look, we all know what the purple sets are and the best places to put them. The only really questionable ones are Hecatomb and Armageddon. I put Hecatomb in Dwarf Strike rather than Gravity Well to keep the Basilisk's Gaze set. I believe Armageddon should go in Dwarf Mire since it hits harder and more often than Sunless Mire. Quasar's an option, too, but I would not recommend it. Regardless, that's all I've got to say about where to put them. What I want to talk about is "What good do they do?"
No, really. I'm perfectly honest here, there isn't a whole lot of improvement over a build from the previous section that has permanent Eclipse. I mean, let's face it; permanent is permanent. Overall, the enhancement values are a bit better and you get an absurd amount of accuracy, fire/cold resistance, and recovery bonuses. You quickly reach the recharge needed, so you either frankenslot other powers with better enhancement or enjoy a larger buffer between Eclipses. There are, however, three really noticeable benefits.
The damage procs are probably the most awesome part of purples. When you can cap your own damage bonus, procs are pretty much the only way to get even more damage. Make no mistake, purples have the best of procs because they hit harder and have a higher chance to activate.
The second awesome part of purples is the exemplarability (I made that word up). Since the bonuses (and the procs!) stick around all the way to level 1, purples really allow for steamrolling low level content.
Finally, and this is a benefit I haven't actually made use of, is that purples give you more recharge per slot than any other set (obviously not counting the LotG global IO). Using five purple sets, you greatly reduce your need for recharge from other powers, allowing you to start fitting defense granting IOs.
Recently, there has become a sort of down-side to the purple enhancements, but I'll admit it's pretty minor. Basically, if you have a Superior Kheldian's Grace set, it will conflict with the other 10% recharge bonuses. Get around this by just using the vanilla Kheldian's Grace and only boosting the Form Empowerment.
At the time of this writing, there are five incarnate slots unlocked. All of the powers you can fill those slots with can be used regardless of shapeshift status. I will cover some of the optimal choices below.
The Alpha slot acts as an enhancement to all of your powers which can partially bypass the limits of enhancement diversification.
For most people, the Spiritual branch of this slot will be the optimal choice as it enhances recharge. This makes achieving perma-Eclipse much easier and cheaper on the influence wallet. Later parts of this branch will also boost the power of all your stun and slowing powers, which you have a lot of. Heal will be boosted as well, but that affects far fewer powers. The most notable of those is Black Dwarf Drain. For anyone running on cheap budgets, this is by far the best choice as it may be what gets you over the permanent threshold of Eclipse. Agility is another source for recharge, but it doesn't really offer anything else of use.
Unfortunately, recharge is subject to diminishing returns. There comes a point where more isn't very beneficial. If you find yourself in this case, then Musculature may be the branch for you. This will boost the damage of all your powers, as well as boosting the damage of other incarnate powers (which will not benefit from Spiritual's recharge). Keep in mind there is a damage cap, and this is subject to it as well. Intuition's radial branch is another source for damage, though not as strong, but it provides some slow and hold boost that you may find yourself wanting.
Cardiac and Resilient are survivability choices, but they are of marginal use because unless you have Resilient's T4 Core, you will still need five enemies for Eclipse to cap. The other choices are pretty much completely useless.
Choose entirely to taste here, as it really doesn't matter. Pyronic branch can do a twinge more damage. Ion hits the most targets. Void won't compliment your powers with a new damage type, but its debuff is excellent for survival in hairy situations. I've taken a personal liking to Vorpal; it's fast, it's sleek, and it has a huge defense buff if you go down the radial line that stacks nicely on Eclipse. When you color it purple and blue, it looks very similar to your own teleport power, which is really badass.
There are far too many options to cover here, but as with Judgement, it really doesn't matter anyway. If you want damage from your pets, go with the Core line and if you want support, take Radial. Notably the highest damage dealers are Cimerorans (single target) or Warworks (second best single target, but have some nice AoE) and I believe the best support still comes from Seers Radial. All in all, the powers are very well balanced.
If you solo, Reactive Radial for the damage over time, no questions asked. The DPS benefit is that much better than the others, especially since it counts on the attacks from your fluffy pets.
If you team, pick anything else because there is a stacking limit and, as a general rule, everyone else will have Reactive. The second best option for DPS is now Degenerative Radial, followed by Cognitive/Spectral. The others that just offer debuffs are not nearly as spectacular.
Destiny is the one tree I highly recommend getting multiples of. Certain powers here have tremendous uses in specific trials. If you only want to get one, or need to decide which branch to start with first, I'll go over some specifics.
If you have trouble following my anti-mez tactics or just want a safety net, go with Clarion (hell, it's what I picked). Clarion is also especially useful for the Underground and Mayhem trials. Honorable mention goes to Rebirth Radial for the regen synergy with your already high resistance. Rebirth finds favorable use in the Keyes Reactor trial, and to a lesser extent, Underground and TPN. Another neat pick is Barrier Radial for the ally rez since you can revive yourself. I like to think that Incandescence is very thematic because of the teleport, but I'm pretty sure it's only useful on Keyes.
There is a man. This man plays League of Legends. This man wrote a guide for Cho'Gath. This man's guide inspired my own. For that, I thank him.
Yup, that's all I got. At least, it's all I can think of. Feel free to email me builds and I'll help you tweak them. Also, if there's any questions the guide didn't answer for you, just ask them in a comment. I'll be sure to keep this guide updated.