Can we talk about the Mana Warrior?
After extensively playing through the class, I'd like to give my take on it, what the class is, what it can be, and where it may go in the future. As well as talents and gems that I use. But let's start with the basics:
"Factory" Skills (those originating to this class) -
Arcane Charge - Charge at an enemy and deal high impact damage. 200 damage, 8 second CD
Cleave - AoE melee range attack that does 100-300 damage based on distance and an extra 100-500 damage to taunted targets. 9 second CD
**War Cry - ** Taunts nearby enemies for 8 seconds, has a 15 second CD
**Titan's Fist - ** Brief charge up then slam weapon down for 800 damage and extreme impact. If you miss, you're refunded 75% of ultimate. Comes with a built-in passive - ultimate accrue rate 50%
**Mana Strike - ** Class staple - Slam your weapon down and hit everything around you in melee range for 125 damage and grants you a damage shield equal to 10% of your maximum health as a shield (up to five targets, so 50% of maximum health damage shield) that lasts for 8 seconds. Additional passive mechanic - +750 health, heavy impact resistance, and +1 dodge charge
So, before we get into mixing and matching abilities from other classes, let's talk about the way the class works on its own. Generally, you want to initiate with arcane charge, followed quickly by taunt and mana strike. You do not want to use cleave prior to mana strike because you'll kill everything before you have a chance to gain a damage shield from it. So always taunt and mana strike -before- you cleave. As far as your ultimate goes, because of the built-in ultimate accrue bonus, you don't ever have to worry about building that talent into your kit, since it is already maxed out. I would highly recommend saving it for elites, as I would with all ultimates in the game, generally speaking.
Because Mana Strike is based on percentage health, it's imperative to have as much health as possible, right? So grab the two health gems, Vitality Sapphire (+730 health) and Vitality Ruby (+365 health) for a quick +1000ish health. As far as blue and red gems go from there, people have their own opinions. For me, I prefer the life steal (Draining Light Sapphire and Draining Light Ruby). I've tested it quite a bit alongside my teammate that I game with. We've tried multiple builds with the Mana Warrior alongside each other and compared stats and at the end of an objective, I always had a leg up over him in terms of health. By the end of the match, simply from auto-attacking and nothing else, on average I heal my entire health bar once or twice over. It's not MUCH, but it makes a difference statistically. Some people prefer more damage - maybe they can rotate the Mana Strike and keep their armor up better and/or more efficiently and don't need that extra healing. Everyone will have their own build when it comes to the second blue/red gem, but I strongly believe the best option is to build around Mana Strike, which means having the most HPs possible.
As for gray gems, this one is very important: Reverse Knockback is, by and far, the best gem in the game in my opinion. What this means is that anything you do, impact damage, etc, that would otherwise knock the target -back-, now instead knocks the target DOWN. A downed target is helpless (really, really great against heavies and elites). I will always bet on knock down, knock back is, in my opinion, useless. I put Reverse Knockback on every class, no matter what. As for the other gray gem, my go-to is **Mana Strike Damage ** - it reduces your overall damage shield by 25% but it raises the damage of your mana strike by 60%. With the sheer amount of shield you get, it's actually pretty fantastic and in combination with the Arcane Charge talent (see below in talents), and Cleave, you can wipe a whole group of enemies with one full combo.
What piece of gear you wear doesn't matter, all that matters is the talent that it offers. Combinations of talents are secondary, as, situationally, you may choose one talent over another so ideally you want to have a piece of gear that can provide both options for a certain level (such as tier 3 and tier 4).
Level 1 - Breach protection (breaches cannot be placed within 5m of you). This is a staple for any class. Just get it. While I think there are abilities that should fall under this that don't, and I believe we need a little more transparency as to what is considered a breach and what isn't, as well as a better definition of what this entails, no matter what you want it as soon as possible, with few exceptions (I'll get into that when I talk about the Engineer).
Level 2 - After using Arcane Charge the caster gains 30% Haste for 3s. I just haven't found anything so far that out performs this yet. It's my go-to.
Level 3 - (This tier is a bit more complicated, as there are a couple different options, I'll explain further below, but for now assume you're only using the factory settings for the class). At this tier, it depends on whether I'm seeing the VD possess elites and such. If you're noticing a lot of possessions, go with dealing damage to a possessed enemy with basic attacks applies a 10% slow for 10s. Stacks up to 4 times. Otherwise, go with Arcane Charge now creates an explosion on arrival, dealing 200 damage and moderate impact to nearby enemies. So it behooves you to find a piece of gear that has BOTH talents on it. The important thing about the Arcane Charge talent is that it provides bonus damage in an AOE around you, but it also has moderate impact (which can potentially cause an AoE knockdown).
Level 4 - Believe it or not, the standard weapon you start with is all you need. It provides both talents that I believe are the best for the class - 1. Basic attacks are echoed. More damage is never a bad thing, particularly when you are lifestealing off every hit. 2. However, in those situations where you have the VD that drops those slow crystals that can stop you to a crawl, pick up the immunity to slow talent. Then you become unstoppable and can pretty much ignore those annoying things, especially when they are placed in impossible-to-reach areas (hopefully the devs will fix that, I find it difficult to swallow that that is working as intended).
Recommended Swappable Skills
Now this is where the Mana Warrior REALLY shines to the point of being overpowered (we'll get to that).
- Switch out Taunt for Guard - As long as an ally is within 10m of your character, they take 80% damage resistance and you take 75% of the remaining damage. So, essentially, it's a free 25% damage resistance buff for you and an 80% damage resistance buff for your target (which I will always throw on the healer). In my experience, Taunt is relatively useless because the regular minions are killed so fast that it doesn't matter, and if the VD is possessing an elite or heavy, then taunt doesn't work anyway. The only reason to have taunt is to increase the damage of Cleave. Which leads me to...
- Switch out Cleave for Bastard Cleave - As you take damage, you gain stacks (up to 6). The chart is as follows: Damage 135/240/415/660/975/1360 (or 100 base damage with no stacks). The amount of damage required to reach each stack tier: 200/250/400/650/1,000/1,450. You heal for 50% of the damage done if you use Bastard Cleave at 2 or more stacks.