Amidst the SHv2.0 commentaries (and recent update to the fresh new interface of Google Chrome), I decided to work on something currently less spoken about, yet still on everyone’s daily to-do list: Trials of Elements.
(Edited on 18/09 – Corrected map with new info on certain minions and a segment on persistent zone skills)
Conceived since the first Kenashi Update (last year August), Trial of Elements has been revised frequently throughout the past year. Starting from a leaderboard system that rewarded trinkets every 2 weeks, it evolved to a more inclusive reward tier system which gave users energy, gems, materials and trinkets as they progressed through the waypoints.
The current system has expanded upon this with from 50 to a total of 75 waypoints, rewarding players with a shiny legendary chest at the end….something which is unfortunately, absolutely not possible without multiple legendaries of every element or an incredible amount of gems for revives and potions.
Nonetheless, let’s see how far we can go.
Well…actually to WP 50 since everything above that wasn’t potion-friendly.
…something everyone has a problem with.
When working your way up, it is quite clear that enemy difficulty scales exponentially every 5 waypoints or so, marked by the points where you obtain rewards…which is why everyone stops at WP 45 since they get their T3 trinket by then and anything above is comparatively tougher.
Interestingly, the scaling is premised primarily on 2 increasing enemy defence and attack stats rather than much on HP. Hence, minions you face on the upper levels are going to whack harder and resist more damage, but their overall HP does not increase as much (or might not even increase at all).
Tested with my fire setup (8.9k / 11.3k global stats), I went ahead to attempt waypoints above 45…stopping at the aforementioned 51 because everything started to hit like a truck.
Below are the recorded average minion attack, Champions encountered and number of potions used as a guideline of what to expect (just for WP46-51):
Yes, I know there is no Water waypoints here so the comparison might not be accurate, but this is a gauge to understand how much it actually takes to get past WP 45.
Personally, a recommended stat to have without the need to consume too many potions would be as follows (assuming you have all gear sets developed equally):
- WP <30: 3k- 4k
- WP 30-40: 5k-7k
- WP 41-45: 6k – 8k
- WP 46-50: 8k – 10k
- WP >51: 10k
TL;DR: Minion scaling is exponential every 5 waypoints or so, increasing their attack and defence more so than their HP.
Battles are going to be long and drawn out due to the high armor values of enemies (assuming that you do survive the damages and aren’t instantly killed in a few seconds). This means that conventional raiding techniques do not work as well in ToE.
Offensively, you would want to work on anything that ignores enemy defence and disables the enemy. Emphasis would be keeping your distance to prevent you from getting hit too often, and hence Ranged weaponry (staffs or crossbows) would be preferred here.
Defensively, focus on traits that can regen your HP and having high dodge rates to recover lost life while evading hard-hitting attacks entirely. Disabling AoE skills that can grant you invulnerability are also particularly helpful in this scenario.
The most optimal would be to have all elemental sets equally developed in order to minimise the damage taken and maximise your attack to the minions. However, once it goes beyond WP 50, you’ll probably need to have Legendary gears to make it less taxing on the potion consumption.
As discussed, below are some of the traits which are going to be of use, particularly at the higher waypoints.
HP/hit and HP/kill – Remarkably helpful traits, these two allow you to regenerate HP upon every hit and kill respectively. At higher levels, HP/hit is naturally going to be much more useful as the battles are long and you’ll need more attacks to take down a single opponent. Currently, Justicar Arcplate is the only legendary armor with HP/hit so that it something to consider.
Damage over 3s (or DOT skills) – This is a must-have. Damage over 3s basically ignores enemy’s defence and dishes out continuous damage. Take note that this damage is affected by enemy element, so your fire DOT at 380 is going to be 760 against nature minions, and 190 against water types. Nonetheless, it’ll be constantly 380 regardless of how high the enemy’s armor ratings are.
Persistent Zone Skills: Another useful type of unique skill to have would be those that deal persistent zone damage. Skills like Ice Stalagmites or Entangling Vines. These embed a large radius on the floor and damages whichever minion(s) that crosses them, and also potentially cast slow on them. Hence, one could easily set one and run off in circles, letting the minions constantly take constant damage from these areas without doing extra work.
Dodge – Also another must-have and rather self-explanatory. Having high dodge essentially prevents you from getting hit often, which stops you from getting killed by a stray projectile, loose explosion or a swarm-fest. When damage gets to ridiculous levels, this is the thing that would save your life.
Run Speed (or Haste) – Adopting a strategic stance for battles, you’ll need to move about frequently to avoid incoming attacks and keep a distance from foes.
Fear/Stun – As you’ll be hitting monsters frequently (from the reduced damage), the usually low percentages of fear and stun can still be rather useful in the long run. Not particularly important, but still beneficial nonetheless to reduce the numbers, allowing you to focus upon one minion at a time.
Skill Cooldown/Damage – If you are relying on skills that dish out Damage over time (DOT), these two traits would be particularly useful. If not, you can give these two traits a miss.
TL;DR: Offensive – Choose Damage over 3secs as it ignores defence and a ranged weapon to keep your distance; Defensive – Have high dodge, HP/hit and HP/kill and run speed to regen HP and avoid getting hit.
Less Useful Skills & Traits
While the damage-boosting traits like bloodrage, berserker, brawler, potion damage, critical hit chance/damage are useful at the start, these quickly become less and less helpful. Beyond a certain point, even a 10k global attack is going to decrease to extremely low figures the higher you go and boosting a 100 damage to 200 isn’t going to benefit you much.
On the other hand, Shield skills, unless boosted by maxed out 150 SF, are no longer vital as they’ll be broken instantly by a regular hit or 2. It’s much more reliable to rely on a high dodge % rather than constantly having to wait for another 12 seconds or so for your shield to refresh. That said, we’re all still waiting for that smoke veil to attain T6…:)
Moreover, Damage to Attacker (DTA), while it deals damage that ignores enemy defence, is of course not going to help much here since you’ll probably want to avoid that incoming >2.5k attack, which unless you’re willing to stock up on potions or gems for revives, is irrelevant.
TL;DR: No to damage boosting traits, shield skills, or Damage to Attacker
Playing in the higher levels teaches you to recognise minion move sets and be grateful that they’re actually pretty straightforward and easy to avoid. Nonetheless, these are still rather deadly if you face-tank them head-on without much consideration to your HP.
Certain minions you would want avoid would be:
Explosive Types – Fragmantis, Meros deal much higher damage (almost 2 times) than the usual average enemy if you get caught in their explosions (usually upon death). The Fragmantis is even more deadly with its kamikaze (leap and smash) move.
Ranged Strikers – Anything that shoots projectiles at a distance is considerably deadly when attacks get higher. Take note of Tortured as these have a heavy AoE anti-melee attack that drains HP when you get close.
Disabling minions – Anything that can stun/knockdown is definitely going to put you in a spot. Minions, like Baloth, Cicatrizer, Succubine, Wicker Beast are capable of disabling you and allow the other minions to quickly swarm upon your location
Summoning minions – Actually more for the Overseer and Nature Hound, since it can summon a totem to spawn Imps or summon more Hounds respectively. While not extremely dangerous if you have a good AoE skill, it gets problematic at higher waypoints since the battle can escalate out of your control if there’s an additional 10 more minions that suddenly appear.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest and greatest threat would be Champions, since they dish out damage which is largely much higher than the average damage from the minion by almost double. Along with their unique abilities, this makes them highly dangerous in any situation.
Particularly dangerous Champions include:
- Harbinger: for its revive all and bombardment
- Spirius: for its HP regen and explosive meros
- Mezzogian: for its fast attack rates, teleportation and freeze
Like what the Auto mode would do, kill off any regular minions in the vicinity before focusing on the Champion itself.
If its a Champion that focuses on melee attacks (Dominator, Wicker Beast, Warmage Sentinel, Immortal Gatekeeper, Spirius, Succubine), use low lying obstacles within the vicinity to keep your distance. The AI itself isn’t smart enough to maneuver around a table so you can use that as an advantageous exploit.
Otherwise for Champions that rely on ranged attacks, always wait for an opening before commencing an attack to avoid getting caught in their line of fire. These opportunities include: (a) when it is engaged in a continuous multi-hit attack as they will be locked in place (eg. Crystal Leviathan, Assassin, Mezzogian, Harbinger); (b) or when they are on the ground after flight (eg. Harbinger).
TL;DR: Prepare to run a lot, shoot a lot, and run even more.
Perhaps a long overdue entry, here’s the map of ToE, complete with what to expect for every ‘checkpoint’ with the legend attached. More importantly, this is not drawn to scale but meant to be read diagrammatically as I didn’t specifically measure length/width of the place.
Update (21/12/16): Also, check out book’s ToE map and his detailed entry on navigating the various waypoints.
(Map edited on 18/09: Included S6 and a missing area’s spawn, kudos to Aqve Teig for the latter)
If there are any errors, do leave a comment!
I might have missed out one or two sectors with Champions (since it is based on my experience) and hopefully I get some feedback if there is any corrections to be made.
Do note that Champions do not show up 100% of the time, but the general rule of thumb is that they appear in larger areas of the map.
As one can see, the best routes to avoid the least chance of encountering the lowest number of Champions (highlighted in Red) are as such below. Regardless of where you start, there is a chance for you to encounter up to a maximum of 3 Champions if you were to take any of these recommended routes.
Also, you cannot back-track your route, meaning that if you cleared an area, there is no way to revisit that area for another wave of monsters to appear.
The unique scenario would be start point S1 (The Hut), where you can choose to take the area immediately outside, or you can turn left (according to your character) to enter the larger area. So long as you don’t cross the yellow target marker, it won’t trigger the wave.
If you’re fortunate enough, you can get lucky and get through the waypoint without meeting up any of these potentially fatal threats….thus saving up on your hard-earned potions.
TL;DR: Regardless the start point, you’ll encounter the most 3 Champions per waypoint.
Good luck and have fun! 😀