I have 2 high level Arti’s my first one is (was) my crafter. I had a lot of fun with him up to level 20, but with so many feats tied to crafting it was harder to use him in Epic. Now that have changed with only 1 feat needed and the rest being enhancements. Still; my human arty suffers from an investment in things that are unproductive in late levels and fairly quickly too.
Toven’s Hammers is a level 19 rune arm. Animums too, none of them however can hold a candle to Corruption of Nature (heroic versions), Glorious Obscenity and Lucid dream including Archaic device. The reason (as I’ve written before) is that Toven’s and Animus are AOE based rune arms, while all the others are bolt – acid and force. And since the bolt version are ‘homing’ (meaning lock onto a critter and fire in their general direction and the bolts will follow the target) you are never going to be saved against, and you seldom miss.
But Toven’s with its up to 4 electric spheres and Animus with its one fire ball, are saved against. And since they’re items the save is quite easy compared to say a well leveled Sorc or Wiz that can use AOE based spells with great success.
The real culprit is that there are few things that improve a rune arms DC and tons of things that improve spells; making say a tactical detonation land more reliably whereas the rune arms do not (unless it’s acid or force). The problem is then that it leads to a Gold standard of force and acid – and since acid is not covered as a spell power line for Arti’s it becomes the weak point. Ideally electric should be the Arti’s gold standard, but with the Arti’s poor ability to boost DC and terrible electric based rune arms, the result is a mix of acid and force for most part and very few times what should be it’s ace spell power.
It’s easy to figure this out; my BF Arti use acid as main with impulse as close second and he’s pretty devastating. On the other hand my human Arti – now ETR’d for additional crit chance for spells into a fullblown lighting based Arti – suffers. Sure – he can using very few spell points do a lot of electric damage, but on the other hand it suffers in many aspects with almost everything getting saved in higher difficulty.
And it’s kind of idiotic too; prone enemy critters reflex saving (I mean seriously – even if they’re prone and not defenseless I don’t think that a knocked over person would have any way of avoiding AOE damage). More to the point however it’s an epidemic of lazy critter AI that makes things like acid throwing swamp critters equal to ranged stuff and therefore gets reflex save and you even see things like zombies reflex save. The whole thing is beyond the pale. I get Drow Assassins and perhaps even regular drow soldiers, but swamp thingies? Zombies? And that’s your runaway saves for you. The issue at hand here is that Arti’s don’t have a dedicated destiny. Almost all other classes do. In fact their enhancement line doesn’t address the idea of boosting rune arm DC, which makes upper end run arms like Toven’s even strikingly ineffective in level 19 stuff. And while things like tactical detonation can be boosted by the draconic of wiz destiny lines of DC boosts and such, nothing can be done for rune arms. Spell power boosts from destinies don’t count toward rune arms, like it did in the beginning of MOTU Beta, until it was specifically changed to spells. Thus Arti run arms falls behind and cannot get their DC boosted properly.
I struggle with my Human arty moreso than if I’d simply made him another BF. And that’s a pity since I’d love for a viable Arti’s using lightning. And especially since there are a few really good lightning based items. Like the Cannith challenge bracers, the darkstorm helmet and then Iron Beads. Perfect assortment of stuff. Followed by the Saga bracers for Kinetic lore and then a augment for impulse spell power. Heck, throw the Sage goggles for fire boost and you could potentially have everything from fire, impulse to lightning covered which is the essential multi spell power effect of many Arti spells and some of the more interesting rune arms.
But Turbine is more interested in boosting bards and divines right now. I get that too, Bards especially since you see really few of them in groups now adays. I can only hope that Turbine will get back to Arti’s and make them viable from level 1 – 30 instead of for most part 1-20 with a support role through 21-30.