A Question of Mutations

I loved my Marauder in T1 through T3, but then came T4. I have no idea why, but Marauders seem to scale very poorly with tiers. Maybe in T4 their utility doesn’t come into play much, with all the CC and debuffs flying around. Or maybe they just scale very slowly and get powerful at higher ranks? I have no idea. But what I do know is that I somewhat lost interest in this career since coming to T4.

This is the final part of the comparison series. I know that the careers I’m comparing might not be the ones people are looking to play, but I don’t have any other MDPS and I’m not planning on making more chars in the near future. I still hope this will be able to provide useful information and insight.

(Note: I am comparing 3 melee dps and any grading or evaluating is done in comparison with the other two alone. If I were to examine all careers the results would most likely be different.)

Quicklinks for the two other careers:

Marauder

Marauders are viking-like warriors from the north, that have been blessed with mutations by the powers of chaos. They can change the shape of one of their hands at will and use it as a deadly weapon. Lore aside, they are a blast from the past, a remnant of how things were at launch. They’ve gotten only a few moderate changes and mainly nerfs to the abilities that were deemed too powerful. At first their mutations granted extra stats, which were later moved to mastery trees as speccable tactics and procs were added to mutations. Savagery and Monstrosity procs were quite powerful, with the Brutality proc trailing behind. The offhand mutation used to be a fixed dps weapon that scaled with levels, but not with your equipment, so once you got to 40 you were stuck with the same dps offhand. They later changed the offhand to be a copy of the weapon in the mainhand. But it didn’t have any procs or talisman slots, so now Marauders need to actually equip two weapons, one of which is covered by a mutation. The mechanic has changed for the better, but not much else. There were minor fixes and some nerfs to the career, but almost no balancing or speclines revision. So where is the Marauder now?

Survivability:

If you want to play a durable MDPS, this is it. They wear medium armor and don’t have a mechanic that would make them sacrifice survivability for damage, but that’s not what makes them so durable. One tool that greatly increases their survivability is the Monstrosity proc. It heals you overtime for a considerable amount and makes you immune to normal armor penetration from weaponskill for that period. It procs often enough to make tanks ragequit, because you’ll be healing for more than they can dish out. The proc is particularly powerful in lower tiers, but it loses some of it potency in T4 because it only scales with points in the Monstrosity tree. Other tools include a detaunt tactic, which increases the detaunt duration from 5 to 15 sec, a disrupt tactic, a toughness/strength self buff, a morale 3 that heals you for the damage dealt, a speccable toughness tactic and a speccable healing debuff, which heals you for 50% of the healing done to the target. This means that a Monstrosity Marauder, running the detaunt and toughness tactics, would be pretty much unkillable with his self-healing.

The real question is, why would you play a MDPS that sacrifices damage for durability when you can play a DPS tank?

Marauders get 3 out of 3 for their excellent survivability.

Mobility:

While Marauders don’t seem to have any abilities to increase their mobility, outside of the standard MDPS tools, they do have a means to make sure the target comes to them, rather than the other way around. The ability that allows them to do this is Terrible Embrace (TE), an improved mirror of WLs Fetch. Improved because it doesn’t rely on a pet. It’s a very powerful ability whose only drawbacks are problems with the Z axis and being susceptible to both block, parry and disrupt. Besides TE, there’s also a ranged knockdown on a disrupt and a ranged morale 1 root. These two abilities don’t see much use though, as they are rarely needed with TE.

Marauders get 2 out of 3 for mobility.

Burst:

You’d think that every MDPS would have decent burst capabilities, how else can they take down targets in a group environment? Well Marauders don’t have many hard hitters and the tree that is designed for burst, namely Brutality, is broken and doesn’t have as much burst as Savagery. The only abilities that will hit hard enough are Guillotine, Thunderous Blow, Cutting Claw and possibly Flail if specced Monstrosity.

Because the Marauder relies heavily on dots and weakening effects his burst is sub-par. 1 out of 3 for burst.

Sustained Damage:

This is something Marauders excel at. They will never run out of steam thanks to a tactic that grants AP on crits, together with the best crit tactic of all MDPS. Add that to the fact that the dots stack up and weaken the enemy the longer the battle goes on, and their damage will just pile up.

With the best staying power of the three, the Marauder gets 3 out of 3 for sustained damage.

Crowd Control:

None of the careers have turned out to be CC heavy, which makes sense, because a lot of CC with great damage equals an overpowered career. However, looking at Marauders, they do have some of the strongest hard CC available to MDPS. They can spec for a 3 second AoE knockdown, which doesn’t have a lot of range, but can still be very powerful. This alone means they have the best CC of the three, not to mention a disarm, a single target ranged knockdown on disrupt, TE, morale 2 ranged snare, AoE interrupt (can spec for an AoE disorient) and another speccable morale 4 AoE knockdown.

Marauders have the most powerful CC of the three and get a 3 out of 3 for it.

Utility:

Rather than asking what debuffs the Marauder has, you should be asking what debuffs he doesn’t have. Because when it comes to debuff and utility, Marauders have lots. A toughness debuff, 25% incoming healing debuff, a tactic that debuff the enemy with a 10% increased chance to be crit and a 10% parry and 30% block debuff is what they get as core abilities. They also get a core strength and toughness buff. And then comes the list of debuff/buffs and utility abilities they can spec for: a wounds debuff, an armor debuff, an AP regen debuff (along with an AP drain tactic), a 50% incoming heal debuff tactic, an AoE that prevents morale generation, AoE weaponskill and initiative debuff, a 50% disorient tactic, a tactic that steals morale and a 25% damage buff.

The list is very impressive, but you need to keep in mind that Marauders don’t get any extra tactic slots or mastery points. They’ll be able to spec and use only a half of that utility at best. More so because they are restricted by their stance mechanic, and although stance-dancing is a possibility it takes a GCD and has a 5 sec cooldown. Not exactly viable in the heat of the battle.

For a huge amount of possible utility roles the Marauders can spec for and fulfill they get a 3 out of 3 for utility.

PvE:

Most of the Marauder’s debuffs are quite useless in PvE (toughness, healing, wounds debuffs, AP and morale denial). The only useful ones are the armor and initiative/weaponskill debuff. Which leaves either AoE or sustained damage to increase Marauder’s value in PvE. Thankfully his AoE is viable enough and he really can keep the damage up till doomsday. The only issue is that, while he can keep the damage up, the damage itself will be less than impressive. You’ll really be struggling to compete with a Choppa or a WE, especially after you help their damage with your armor debuff. I heard that Brutality can be a good source of PvE damage if you have someone debuffing armor, because the positioning usually isn’t a problem in PvE. Have yet to try it myself though.

Marauders get a 2 out of 3 for PvE viability.

(For anyone keeping score, yes WL and Mara both take second place here. I feel that while the WL will do more damage in a good group, the Mara can just spam his abilities even with no AP group backup and, unlike the WL, has viable AoE. Of course, the Slayer definitely takes the cake here.)

AoE:

Marauders AoE is very viable. The bread and butter of this playstyle is Demolition, a spammable AoE attack that can coupled with a tactic ignore 50% of the target’s armor. They can also spec for an AoE dot, knockdown and a channeled PAoE. Couple that with a speccable AoE disorient tactic, a tactic that has a chance to remove morale when AoEing or one that can remove AP, and you’ve got a very effective AoE debuffing build. And while the damage isn’t as good as a Slayer spamming Inevitable Doom, it’s still viable.

Marauders get a 2 out of 3 for their AoE capabilities.

Common Specs:

You might have heard or read that the Brutality build is in general inferior to the other two and does not excel where it’s supposed to. It’s very hard to make it work and in dire need of an overhaul. It’s only natural that it is the least common build. The most common one is probably Savagery, as it’s damage and utility are the best, with usually a Monstrosity secondary build for the knockdown and AoE dot. Monstrosity can be used as a very effective AoE debuffing/damage build on its own, or a survivability build for taking down multiple opponents.

Savagery:

Players usually take all abilities in this tree, with Thunderous Blow (wounds debuff) and Cutting Claw (armor debuff) being the more common ones, and Draining Swipe (AP regeneration debuff) being more of a tool for solo play. Either Exhaustive Strikes (drains AP on crit) or Deadly Clutch (50% incoming heal debuff and heal leech) is usually bought to add to the utility of the build, with DC being the more common one, as you can’t really kill anything without a healing debuff in a group environment. I really dislike Scything Talons because, while the initiative is very nice, the weaponskill is somewhat redundant. Since you will probably take Cutting Claw anyway, with an armor debuff that powerful weaponskill loses much of its value.

Brutality:

This tree is best avoided for newbie Marauders as it has the steepest learning curve and requires an experienced player to make it work, if at all. In any case, Guillotine (large damage when target is lower than 50% hp) hits quite hard and is nothing to sneeze at. Mutated Aggressor (25% damage buff) is very useful for any Marauder build. But then we have Wave of Terror (AoE damage and stops morale building for those that were hit), which doesn’t seem to belong in a single target burst damage tree. It’s still a nice tool that would serve a much better purpose in the Monstrosity tree. Corrupted Edge (adds permanent strength and initiative) is a good tactic for fresh Marauders, as they probably won’t have their stats capped yet and it adds some survivability. Growing Instability (your crit damage bonus increases the lower your health gets) is usually a must-have tactic for soloing, because it produces insane crits when at low hp. Not that useful in group play as staying at low hp isn’t very safe. Unstable Convulsions (Convulsive Slashing has a chance to remove enchantments on hit) is just a waste of a point because CS isn’t a viable source of damage.

Monstrosity:

Wave of Mutilation (AoE dot with weaponskill and initiative debuffs) is almost always picked up because it’s not only a source of AoE damage, but also a viable single target debuffing tool. It increases the target’s chance to be crit and decreases their armor penetration and parry. Concussive Jolt (AoE knockdown) is one of the best CC abilities MDPS careers have (along with Slayer’s Shatter Limb) and is a must have in any Monstrosity build. Wrecking Ball (channeled AoE) is usually only used for an AoE AP or morale denial build in conjunction with Exhaustive Strikes and Crushing Blows (25% chance on hit to remove morale), and very rarely used for straight damage. Hulking Brute (adds permanent toughness) is one of the ways for a Marauder to increase his survivability. Which a lot of AoE debuff Marauders will go for, as they will be almost as hard to kill as a tank and be able to be a nuisance even if focused. Insane Whispers (Mouth of Tezeentch has a 50% disorient component) is another way for a Marauder to harras and disrupt enemy casters.

Tips:

  1. Learn to stance-dance (switching stances on the fly). Even though it’s cumbersome it might save your skin at times and allow you to be more flexible.
  2. Work with other MDPS, especially Choppas. You provide the armor and wounds debuff, they provide the hurt.
  3. Abuse TE. It’s very annoying for Order, that’s the only reason you need right there. It also gives you something to do when camping or being camped. You do need to learn to time your CJ right, though.
  4. If you are going to abuse TE, expect to be focus fired often. It will piss off Order and they will naturally direct their anger at you.
  5. Don’t solely rely on your TE, learn to use other tools available to you. TE might fail, get disrupted, could be on cooldown or the target could have Immovable.
  6. If you aren’t going to play as a Savagery Marauder I advise you to slot Piercing Bite. It will be a big increase to your damage.
  7. While, in theory, Marauders can counter any other career, you won’t really be effective in duels until your gear improves.

Closing Thoughts:

The life of a Marauder is tough. The career is highly demanding skill and gear-wise, with not a lot of plain damage to fall back on. You need to master your rotations and manage your debuffs to really succeed. Groups won’t be waiting for you to join, as there are other careers that can fulfill the same role, only better. You can opt for increased survivability or a pure debuffing role and fill a niche no other career can (morale denial), but you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it. If you are after a MDPS that has good damage you’re better off rolling a Choppa, and if you are after a MDPS with group utility and survivability you’re better off rolling a DPS tank.

But if you honestly want to play a career that has a little bit of everything and is as flexible as they get, then the Marauder is for you.

The good:

  • No AP shortage.
  • Good survivability.
  • Insane debuffing and utility options.
  • Hard to kite.
  • Can beat any career 1v1.
  • Viable AoE spec.
  • Marauder Sovereign looks awesome. Seriously, bear shoulders. Gief.

The bad:

  • Doesn’t quite shine in PvE.
  • Cumbersome mechanic.
  • Their damage will rarely rival that of other MDPS.
  • Doesn’t have anything to offer to the group that other careers can’t do.

Image courtesy of Gaarawaar.

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8 thoughts on “A Question of Mutations

  1. Pretty much sums it up. You do all the hard work around the house, and your brat little brother gets the reward.

    Which on second thought fits me quite well… no wonder I managed to play him for so long!

  2. Yeah, I run with an RR80 Mara… let me tell you they are beasts in full sov. (Plus it looks really freaking cool).

    When we duo, as long as I can keep him standing, I don’t really need to add dps unless they have more than 2 healers, or 2 very good healers.

    Contrary to popular belief, they can in fact pull out a large amout of damage output in addition to their utility, it’s just a matter of the right gear and playstyle.

    And you’re not kidding about the utility!
    (Not to mention the fact that I’ve seen many scenarios and fights won with the correct use of TE).

    • Well, the thing is that most of the utility requires another stance or a tactic/mastery point and then you get people that claim Maras are OP. Certainly not, I’d say that the extra utility just helps provide several different playstyles, rather than give them all the utility whenever. Changing stances mid-combat isn’t something you do without forethought or without a penalty.

      I do know that Maras are awesome when solo, but I just can’t believe that a sov Mara could output as much dmg as a Sov Slayer or a WL. :)

      And yeah, Mara Sov is one of the best looking out there. I rolled one because of that (eventho I have no hope of actually getting there!).

      Thanks for your input. :>

      • As much damage? Perhaps not straight damage, but I think they more than make up for it in other ways. And they do have quite a bit of survivability, as you noted.

        Nice comparisons, btw.

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