A good quest to try out different builds in, is Servants out of the Web of Chaos chain. A longer quests with lots of diverse critters in many different type of scenarios. Some large mobs, some smaller, a little bit of demons (Hezraus and Fire Reavers), Tiger dudes and a ton of spiders, hellhounds and Drow.
I took my Swashbuckler there to confirm one simple observation; Swashbucklers are very effective on a few big targets but not so much on larger mobs. Granted; when I say not so much I don’t mean it as in impotent – Swashbucklers have plenty of defensive and offensive ways to manage large mobs – but unlike a nuking Sorc or cleaving fighter, much of this capability is ill suited for larger mobs.
The nice thing with Servants is that you can measure this pretty nicely; you have 5 bosses, 4 red named and 1 orange (some optional) and you have several large mobs including 1 with several waves. Here you can effectively measure how this density in various encounters effect your average completion time. Best suited are of course the big bangers, the guys who go in blazing using Shiradi or lots of energy bursts or maybe even blitzing all the way to the end. And the surprising thing is that Swashbuckler prove the point of it’s type of melee in what is apparently the weak and soft spot in others – that the red named Hezrau encounter encapsulates what makes Swashbuckler strong compared to other builds.
Up until this encounter most melee and caster have about the same similar feel; quick and often easy. The difficulties in all other encounters depend on what was used and if there was any cc in place. But none of them represent a significant difficulty (under similar circumstances like operating with a good destiny) other than perhaps the optional chest behind a force wall. This is a large mob that can offer some difficulties without good evasion.
The simple observation show this; the many mobs slows down Swashbuckling, the larger the mobs, the longer it takes. With traditional melee this is not as noticeable. And it’s not really the ‘numbles’. A cleaving Tempest 2 weapon fighter will do it faster than a Swashbuckler, altho the DPS from the Swashbuckler is noticeably higher. Cleave attacks do quicken things up. What makes a HUGE difference in survivability is the big difference in defense. Again, also noted against the big hitters, not so much the mobs.
To give a few examples; the first boss you run into is the Fire Reaver. It hurts and it has lots of HP. Timewise you’re looking at about the same for all melee and caster provided that your main spellpower hit does some damage. But at this stage it can be a real resource drain for say a Draconic destiny player, mostly because it can soak up lots of big hits. As for the Dragon Singer concept, with sonic being the smaller portion of the DPS and lightning being of reduced efficiency against these critters.
On the other had the Swashbuckler is almost ideal. Good high DPS against one target with lots of fury hits (not using the epic moment – I saved it for the mob encounter afterwards). The Fire reaver relies mostly on a bunch fire AOE hits, a few melee hits and the massive amount of HP. All of which the Swashbuckler is eminently useful against. The high evasion will avoid almost all of the AOE fire damage and the displacement will negate most of the few bigger melee hits, with healing through it either by selfhealing or a song.
The big mob afterwards, an optional chest behind a forcewall proves that this build is served well by FOTW and especially the epic moment. First off, it’s a big mob of respawning fire reavers followed by lots of Drow and Spiders. It get’s hectic. And thanks to both Cc in the form of dancing balls and displacement and evasion from fire AOEs when pulling that slow lever, getting the wall down was a breeze. Not always true when you rely on hirelings (like with my sorc, I don’t bother with my melee or divine).
And once the wall came down I hit Unbridled Fury for 30 seconds of mayhem. Simply put, planned encounters like that makes the downside of Swashbuckling easy (namely lack of AOE type attacks).
Perhaps the best and the worst of Swashbuckling was against the hellhound optional and the red named Hezrau. Most types of melee and caster can deal with the hounds just fine. Drop a dancing ball, set off the fireworks or just go in and cleave until things stop moving. Not with the Swashbuckler and especially without that Epic moment. Also, even with it, there’s no guarantee that it’ll last through each wave of hellhounds. It clearly shows that Swashbuckling is not as effective when dealing with large targets. Not because of any danger to the toon – but because of the time it takes to go from critter to critter unlike cleaving yourself there.
The Hezrau on the other hand is quite a different story. Most melee and casters will have an easy time getting there. Cleave or dancing balls followed by AOE type spells. Swashbuckling up to that point just takes longer; having to slice each wave down, taking slightly longer than any other type of attack. The difference is when the red named bosses drops.
Most other types have a harder time (granted – if you get Joy of the Queen it’s just a matter of when, not how). With casters as well as melee there’s usually lots of jumping backwards self healing and such after the Hezrau drops the big hits. Usual lots of slams and chaos hammers. And it hurts. In some cases I end up having to whittle down 40k of HP (EH) by constant back jumping. Now so with the Swashbuckler.
Stand, smack, hit Unbridled Fury. Again – the displacement together with evasion takes care of the Hezraus big hits and the casters nasty cometfalls. The 30 seconds of hurt handles the Hezrau with ease followed by gnawing down the caster equally east with fury hits. The whole final encounter shows both the drawback of the Swashbuckler and the clear strength. Many targets; longer – few big ones, breeze.
On a note – get Wastelands 2. I think it’s a great homage to the original Wastelands and the original Fallouts 1 and 2. With that nice ‘hand painted’ feel of 2D backgrounds and quirky encounters with a good sense of humor. Plus many gruesome ways of dying (like hitting someone and all their limbs fall off). I do like Fallout 3, but I like the feel of turn based combat in a top down view type game. But boy do these weapons jam alot 🙂
Great voice acting ontop of it. Get it and enjoy it. Lots of playtime with many different ways of getting there. Heck, the game even start with a tough choice – if you decide to go to one spot first the other gets hit and destroyed. And there’s no way around it as far as I can tell. That’s right; you’re already in a moral pickle with consequences from the very first go. I decided to buy it at full price (only got the standard version since the premium didn’t really offer that much more compelling stuff) instead of waiting until it was discounted. I always want tor reward labor of love where everything seem to point at getting the right feel down. And who’d know I’d get hooked on what’s basically a second try with a somewhat retro feel. It hits all the right notes and I hope it does well.