Freelance: Slayer

READ FIRST:

This article was written back when I was happily roaming on my Slayer and when I was still actively playing WAR. It was written with the intention of showcasing the way I play the career, introducing players to the playstyle and helping those who are struggling. Later I abandoned this semi-guide when I realised that this specific playstyle and the tactics depicted below are highly subjective in nature, that I’m not really qualified to be teaching anyone anything and that most of it could be condensed into a few sentences. It has been sitting in my drafts folder ever since. I decided to proof read it and correct it simply because I think it would be a waste to delete it and because I see some people searching for information on this topic. So take this wall of text with a grain of salt, and as always, test it before you buy it. With that, take it away Mr. Residential Quasi-Expert.

When Rift went into open beta and several guildies announced that they’ll be participating in it, I decided to swap my gear around and respec into a solo friendly build on my Slayer. If there’s not much going on in the guild as far as group play goes, I’m more than happy to go solo for a bit every now and then. Now, after a couple of days, I believe I’m back in the swing of ORvR solo roaming and I thought I’d share a bit of my knowledge and experience. It won’t be a guide per-se, since a lot of the gear, tactics setup and rotations, along with playstyle are subjective and mostly boil down to preference. But since there seem to be no decent Slayer guides around, you’re hardly in a position to complain.

If you are looking for more basic information on the career try this post I’ve written comparing different melee DPS careers, as it contains a lot of useful, albeit fundamental information on the Slayer career.

Please note:
I don’t pretend to be an expert on the Slayer career. I do like to think that I have a very good grasp of the game, it’s mechanics and PvP design though, as I’ve extensively played numerous careers and have been playing the game since launch. I haven’t had as much experience with the Slayer as many other veteran Slayer players, but I do think that knowledge of the overall picture has put me in a good position to write a guide on a career I have played and enjoyed for the last few days (and two months or so before that). If you do not agree with any of my advice, I ask you to challenge it, present your own opinion down in the comments and I will consider your arguments. Civilised discussion is good.

Why?

“Why would you even want to solo in a group oriented game?” is a question that pops up a lot. For one, solo play makes you see a whole new side to the game and makes for quite a different, but not necessarily unpleasant, experience. Many want to experience everything a game has to offer, which is why they try to PvP on their own from time to time. Some see it as the only way to play and never group. They would rather roam by themselves and avoid groups of opponents. It is true though, WAR is not balanced around 1vs1 play (if at all) and some careers aren’t really viable for solo play. You won’t know until you try though.

Personal preferences and inclinations aside, I believe that player adeptness has to be developed in a solo environment first, before moving on to any kind of group play. Learning how to anticipate, react and adapt when you are facing an opponent on your own are the basics, the fundamental knowledge that needs to be grasped before you can complicate things further. Even for a healer solo play can be highly educational, as learning how to survive every kind of enemy on his own will enable him to perform better in a group environment.

In group play the room for error is vastly bigger than the one you have to work with when facing skilled (or those that outgear you) opponents on your own. You can get carried in a group. You can’t get carried in solo play.

Note that here I am not talking about winning. I am merely talking about facing your opponents and experiencing the fights. Trying to win is what is important. It doesn’t matter if you win any of the fights you get into, as long as you can learn from them. Familiarise yourself with the enemies arsenal, learn what you can expect from them and how to best counter it or adapt to it. Because that is what will help you perform better in a group environment.

When you hear someone say “I’d take a group that works together over a skilled bunch of individuals any day.” know that they are talking about PvE (as moronic as it is, to call any kind of PvE that doesn’t involve a highly developed AI “skill” based). If you are talking about either a group of people who can’t PvP on their own, but know how to cooperate, against a group of skilled individuals who can’t cooperate (the only way the arguments make sense as they are balanced), the individuals will win. A whole is always a sum of its parts. If the parts are shit the whole won’t be much better either, no matter what glue you use.

That is why I feel the need to go out there, every now and then, and try my hand at beating the best, the worst and anything in-between. I don’t win that many fights, but I learn from my experiences and improve. I would suggest this to anyone who wishes to become a better player and wants to stop his blade from dulling. That is the main reason for this post being here.

Abbreviations

I’ll be using a lot of abbreviations for abilities, tactics or spec trees. Not only because I’m lazy, and typing out Rune of Absorption seven times in a post contributes to RSI, but to save space and avoid building an even bigger wall of text. I usually fully type it out the first time I write the word, but if you’re still unsure consult this list.

Abilities:

  • ID – Inevitable Doom
  • SL – Shatter Limbs
  • DW – Deep Wound
  • RoA – Rune of Absorption
  • SD – Slow Down
  • SC – Spine Crusher
  • EB – Enervating Blow
  • PS – Pulverizing Strike
  • NS – Numbing Strike
  • GW – Gudrun’s Warcry

Tactics:

  • BF – Brute Force
  • WG – Wild Gambit
  • PfM – Push for More
  • AI – Ancestral Inheritance
  • FM – Fierce Might
  • PT – Power Through

Mastery Trees:

  • TS – Trollslayer
  • GS – Giantslayer
  • SS – Skavenslayer

Builds

There are two viable builds for solo roaming. Skavenslayer/Trollslayer or Trollslayer/Skavenslayer (with the first mastery being the primary one). The titles are WARdrobe links (mastery builder provided by Rancid).

Greatweapon vs Dualwield

A greatweapon build relies on being more bursty with a harder hitting auto attack and harder hitting abilities. The way to maximise that is to spec in Giantslayer, because GS has the hardest hitting abilities of the three trees. I don’t have a lot of experience with a greatweapon spec, but I do know that it relies on heavy, bursty attacks, which you can’t use effectively unless you slot Power Through. With PT you can pretty much spam any exhaustive attack, but you can’t drop your rage. That by itself makes you a lot squishier than you’d want to be when solo, not to mention the fact that dualwield gives you an additional 5% inherent parry, while you won’t be using much of the strikethrough bonus of a greatweapon because of Rampage and Numbing Strike.

Therefore I can’t imagine a greatweapon GS build (or any other) being more effective when roaming than the two builds outlined below. You’re welcome to try to convince me otherwise though.

Incidentally, this is why you typically won’t see a greatweapon build outside a group, while a dualwield build is suitable for both.

Skavenslayer/Trollslayer

This build is your standard dual wield dps build with a few extra perks. You have your Inevitable Doom with its great dps, Shatter Limbs for soft CC and damage/healing mitigation, Deep Wound for healing mitigation that’s almost always handy (plus it’s a decent hitting ability that’s very AP light), Rampage for dealing with tanks and Fierce Might because it’s awesome. The extra points would typically be spent on either buffing up the damage of Trollslayer abilities (or even Skavenslayer ones if you are so inclined, although only ID will really profit from it) or getting other stuff for some extra versatility (say Accuracy so you don’t have to respec every time you plan on AoEing).

You’ll typically want to spec this way when you’re well into your fifties, because this build, while being capable of massive DPS, lacks durability and staying power in comparison with a TS/SS build. Which is why you’ll have to tinker with your gear and renown setup to make your character a bit sturdier. While it’s true that Slayers are a DPS career, which means that stacking defensive stats will never pay off as much as on a tank or a healer, and that without good offensive capabilities some opponents will just outlast you, I still maintain that a healthy mix of offense and defense is needed, especially with this spec.

The above paragraph is rendered void if you have access to seven piece defensive Sovereign (or Doomflayer or Warpforged). Because:

Defensive sets and Inevitable Doom

Defensive Sovereign, Doomflayer (and I suspect Warpforged) sets for melee DPS are grossly overpowered, which is an undeniable fact. They provide massive amounts of defensive stats, which would be fine on its own, since for a melee DPS to become survivable they’d have to sacrifice damage. However, this tradeoff is rendered meaningless by the seven piece bonus, Siphon Vitality: “10% chance to deal 408 damage to your target, healing you for 150% of the damage done”. Please note that this proc is undefendable and unmitigable, both damage and healing-wise. This does not only provide even more of an increase in survivability, but is also a big source of unmitigable damage, something otherwise only provided by morale abilities. Which means defensive sets have the biggest impact when fighting high mitigation/high avoidance targets, i.e. tanks, and can turn those kind of fights from a nightmare into a walk in the park. Not to mention trivialising fights against medium or light armored targets the melee dps usually nom through even without a defensive set.

The aim of this section is not to question Mythic’s vision of the sets though (I’ve given up), but to provide an insight into why the seven piece bonus is especially overpowered on ID specced Slayers.

ID is unique in the way that it’s one of the two abilities in the game (the only other is Gloom of Night as far as I know, although I’m not sure on the scaling) that are damage-over-time abilities but don’t count as a DoT. Each tick counts as a direct damage ability in its own right, which means that stat contribution per tick is higher than on a regular DoT and that each tick will proc anything a normal ability or auto attack hit will, INCLUDING Siphon Vitality. Because, as far as I’m aware, the proc doesn’t have an internal cooldown you can significantly increase Siphon Vitality procs if you keep ID consistently on a target.

If you have access to defensive Sovereign don’t bother with any spec other than SS/TS, because the proc will both outdamage and outlast any other equally viable solo roaming spec.

PS: Get your defensive set, wear it and make destruction cry. It will make Mythic realise how overpowered the proc is and fix it, or drive more players from the game. Either way, things will change for better or for worse.

Trollslayer/Skavenslayer

A TS/SS spec is the safe route. The damage of the spec in comparison with SS/TS is somewhat lower without the ID powerhouse, but the spec offers one major advantage, Rune of Absorption. The skill’s strength isn’t in damage, but in coupled damage and healing, as it will heal you for as much damage as it’s doing. And because Slayers hardly tickle, this ability can heal you for more than half your health when used correctly (heal ticks for 1k aren’t that uncommon on a crit). RoA’s drawbacks are high AP cost and long cooldown. Despite that, it’s still the safest route a Slayer can take for solo play if he is below Sovereign.

Managing Rune of Absorption

I felt a section on RoA is necessary because if used incorrectly it is a complete waste of mastery points. You may consider some of these tips unnecessary, but not everything is apparent to someone who has never used RoA or a similar ability before.

  • Be smart when using it. Its high cooldown means that if you run out of AP or get interrupted the cooldown is wasted and you’ll most likely end up dead. An addon such as Buffhead will help you track immunities for better judgement on when to use it.
  • Try to use it after the enemy has used his knockback/disarm/knockdown (knowing your enemy is key) and you have your immunities up. Alternatively, spec for Resolute Defense and activate it just before using RoA.
  • Always try to have Rampage up before using it. It assures you’ll get all of the heal ticks and prevents Confusing Movements or Shieldwall from countering the lifetap.
  • Be wary of tanks and their taunts, there is no protection from an interrupt. Remember that taunt has a 15 second cooldown and use the ability during the downtime.
  • While only costing 15 AP per hit, the ability is AP expensive because you don’t regenerate AP during a channel. Try to have at least a quarter of your AP bar saved up before using it. Saving Gudrun’s Warcry for RoA and using it before it brings down the cost from net 75 AP to net 56 AP.
  • If all else fails, you can try tricking the opponent into interrupting you by using Retribution. Many destruction players won’t be able to distinguish between the two channeled abilities, as they are quite similar. Just make sure to watch your AP.

Tactics

Brute Force – Should always be slotted unless you are at or over the softcap and can’t pool your strength into another stat (one tactic slot for 160 str is always cheaper than 34 renown points for 120 str or 160 str worth of strength talismans).

Wild Gambit – No reason not to slot this. 120 strength and weapon skill is better and more useful than 120 toughness, even when running solo. Stacking toughness is not viable because it becomes too expensive of a stat early on at the cost of other defensive stats and because it doesn’t increase survivability against a single source until extremely high numbers – not worth it.

Push for More – PfM is worth it when you can stay berserk for the 50% auto attack haste. But because staying berserk will most of the time be a mistake when playing alone, you won’t really profit much from it. There are better tactics than a 17% AA haste.

Ancestral Inheritance – A survivability tactic. It’s situational as armor doesn’t mitigate magical sources of damage, but you’ll soon find out that about 90% of the enemies you’ll have trouble killing use physical damage (WE, Mara, Choppa, SH, tanks). The armor also stacks with everything.

Embrace the Pain – Useful if you don’t have enough strength, as you’ll be getting crit at least once every 10 seconds, pretty much guaranteeing it’s always up. Although if you are a the softcap, 60 strength is not worth a tactic slot. Mainly good for lowbie slayers or those running with six piece Warlord.

Flanking – Any good opponent will either strafe-kite you or circle-strafe around you. I am not convinced that Flanking works when chasing a strafe-kiter or counter circle-strafing around a target. I find that Slayers don’t depend on positionals as much as WEs/WHs and don’t really get any free backstabs as they do. Therefore I usually don’t slot it for solo play and go with a defensive tactic instead. Experiment with it, but check if the damage is worth it, rather than taking it for granted.

Hastened Punishment – There are only two exhaustive attack cooldowns you’ll want to have lowered. Incapacitate and Enervating Blow. The first is on a 20 sec cooldown, 15 sec with the tactic, the second is on a 30 sec cooldown, which means 22.5 sec with the tactic. Because Incapacitate induces a 20 sec Unstoppable immunity on the target, lowering its cooldown is non-sensical. Which means you are left with a tactic that will be used to reduce the cooldown of one ability. It might be useful for a GS spec, but not worth it in any other.

Honor Restored – Doesn’t scale and doesn’t heal for enough. No sense in slotting it. If you need a heal use RoA.

Jagged Edge – This might be a solution to the problem of lowbie Slayers not having enough armor penetration, as the damage the tactic does is corporeal. But then again, lowbies usually don’t have that high of a crit chance and the tactic introduces a problem of magical damage mitigation. If you are desperate for extra damage this isn’t that bad of a choice, although you would probably be better off with something enhancing your physical damage rather than butting your head against the target’s non-bypassable resists (say Flanking or Riposte).

Riposte – Not terrible for extra damage against melee opponents, especially if you stack weaponskill (as you should), as your parry will be very high. But since they nerfed it it’s not that big of a source of extra damage, and the fact that you can use Rampage, NS, or ID for undefendable damage makes it even less useful when fighting tanks.

Slaughter – You shouldn’t be spending enough time in a berserk state to make this tactic worth it. Unless, of course, you are engaging targets that hardly fight back. In that case it’s wonderful. But it’s kinda hard to predict who you’ll be fighting and wasting a tactic slot when you really need it is depressing.

Stoutness of Stone – I’m not sure this works on staggers and even if it does it’s not worth slotting for solo play.

Stubbornness – If you’re having problems with Sorcs slotting this will help. Not much, mind you, as only half of Sorc damage is corporeal.

The Bigger They Are… – Reduces the cost of SC down to 22.5 AP. Not worth it.

Fierce Might – Slotting this tactic results in some impressive spike damage when your health dips low. This will greatly increase the potency of an ID build because of its multiple simultaneous sources of damage and the power of a RoA build because it will heal for more on crits. When you don’t have a reliable source of healing this tactic shines. Which doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be used together with RoA, because even with it, you’ll more often be low on health than fully healed. Might not be worth it if you can’t maintain at least a 15% crit rate.

Short Temper – You won’t spend enough time in berserk to make this tactic worth it, not to mention that by the time you get to berserk you would have used most of your cooldowns already. I guess it is an ok ability for long fights, but again, it’s hard to swap the correct tactics for each type of enemy. When fighting opponents that you’ll struggle with, you either won’t want to stay in berserk, or the fight will be over by the time the tactic pays off.

Power Through – No need for this tactic.

Takin’ Chances – Good for T2 and maybe T3, crap for everything else as it scales off willpower.

Accuracy – You won’t be AoEing much.

Runic Blessings – Comebacks are rare and this won’t help you come back from a defeat. Most of the time you’ll just be giving the opponent some extra renown.

Morale Abilities

Morale 1

Most players will prefer to have a defensive morale slotted because burst is not that important in solo play. It might help you take down an especially annoying and stubborn healer from time to time with it, but with Confusing Movements slotted instead, you could prolong a fight against a physical damage opponent by 7 seconds and do at least 1,2k damage, if not more. Untouchable is just a bit more situational and will help in the cases when a Sorc (or a Magus or a dps healer) gets the jump on you while you have it up and you disrupt a part of their rotation. But as said earlier, tanks and other melee dps will be the most of your worries, so I recommend slotting Confusing Movements.

Keep in mind the fact that both morales only boost the given defensive stat by 100%. An enemy hitting you with morales and other undefendable abilities, or plain simply hitting you from behind or the side, will be bypassing them (even Untouchable).

Morale 2

Some Slayers swear by Deadly Determination, but I don’t find it that useful when I’m on my own. Usually you’ll only use it to “preload” damage as the buff doesn’t expire. But reaching it isn’t easy when most fights barely last long enough to get your M1 up. Besides, preloading a morale ability feels kinda cheesy and I would feel bad for beating someone because I start with 1800 morale damage in addition to M1 when it comes up.

I usually slot Force of Will because in the fights that do last that long enough, and you aren’t using M1 for mitigating damage, you’ll be fighting a healer, without exception. In those cases you’ll be extremely grateful for an AP boost and a drain at the same time. Although if you can regenerate your AP to full, pop Deadly Determination and hit them with your full dps when they think they’re safe, you can catch them off-guard. Down to preference I guess.

Morale 3

Grievous Harm is an OK ability, but most of the time you won’t reach morale 3 anyway. Although in the situations when you do want to use an M3, Broad Swings will be useless. So Grievous Harm it is.

Morale 4

You most likely won’t be speccing for an M4, which is a smart choice considering 99% of the time you won’t be using one. Save M4 for group play.

Renown Training

I don’t really see the need to have two different renown setups for solo roaming and for group play, as long as you have:

  • Maxed out weaponskill,
  • a few points in crit (don’t go overboard though, as value per renown point scales up horribly, two ranks are plenty),
  • Resolute Defence
  • the rest of the points in avoidance stats (either parry or dodge/disrupt), crit reduction or wounds, depending on your stats.

You won’t want to spend points on strength as Brute Force and Wild Gambit will give you plenty. Unless you’re running a warlord corrosion build that is, in which case you can just relocate points from weaponskill to strength.

Strategies

On to career specific strategies. Your mileage may vary, but these are the strategies I’ve found to be most effective. The opponents in the below examples don’t use consumables, but are likely using an armor potion and a wounds liniment. You can find a section on consumables down below.

General

– Unless you are fighting something that doesn’t fight back much or doesn’t do much damage (like a heal specced healer) you usually won’t want to stay in a berserk state. The reduction to armor and resistances is too big of a tradeoff for the extra damage. The reduction in survivability is in effect when the enemy CCs you but the damage increase isn’t. Therefore staying in berserk state will usually kill you faster than you can kill your opponent. Only stay berserk for prolonged periods when:

  • You are certain your opponent isn’t capable of a bigger burst than you (WEs, Maras, Sorcs).
  • Your opponent doesn’t have damage reduction abilities he can use (Crippling Strikes).
  • You are certain that you will be able to consistently land your attacks (the enemy can’t kite, block/parry) and that you won’t be CCed.

Basically, you should only stay in berserk when you know the enemy can’t diminish your offensive capabilities with which to capitalise on your tradeoff.

– Don’t forget to use your snare on MDPS and tanks. Even if they aren’t likely to run away, you still want to deny them the ability to circle strife around you thus avoiding your parry and gaining access to your back-side and positional damage that follows.

– Always use Numbing Strike between Rampage uses on targets you know won’t die that fast and where not every gcd is as important (usually tanks). Don’t bother with it in fights that don’t last longer than 10-20 seconds because you’ll have plenty of other, more crucial or damaging abilities to use. Just remember that NB itself can get parried or blocked, therefore using it from behind the target is optimal.

– When kiting a melee career always detaunt before or during it. You won’t be able to strike your target when kiting, but at least you can mitigate half the damage the attacker will be doing before you can gain distance.

– If you get the jump on someone who has no idea you’re coming and is a career you know has to kite in order to beat you, NEVER start off with the snare. Most people can’t react faster than in 1-2 seconds. Add in some lag and you can easily pull off two abilities on an unsuspecting target before they even start moving. Depending on what you know of your target and what your ping is, you can squeeze up to three abilities in your rotation before you need a snare. This way you won’t be wasting it on the part of the fight when your opponent is not moving.

– Because keeping your target snared is so important, try getting a hold of a weapon with a snare proc and use it. Since the Slayer snare only has a 50% uptime, it’s quite easy for enemies to kite us. That snare proc will help immensely in melee and ranged fights, and it can’t even be cleansed. One such axe is Gromrindel, Axe of the Emissary, which drops from the end-boss of right wing in Lost Vale (if I remember correctly). I can’t recall if any of the epic quest axes have snare procs.

Witch Elf

If you can catch a WE out of stealth your chances of winning are much higher. Even if she stealths after you see her you’re better off than if you don’t see her coming. Preparation and awareness is the key. In any case, the procedure is the same in both cases.

Two of your abilities are the key to winning this fight, SL and EB. Because most WEs rely on the armor ignore on their positional Agonizing Wound (AW) they won’t be stacking weaponskill, which means that the rest of their abilities won’t hit hard (unless they spec for Pierce Armor) on your 70-90% armor mitigation (a friendly reminder, don’t let a WE catch you in berserk). Therefore getting SL on them is of crucial importance. The more you can keep it up, the more you’ll be mitigating their damage. It’s especially important to get it up when they pop Feinted Positioning (FP). Failing to get SL up in that situation, or having it parried, will most likely result in you dying.

EB can turn the tide of battle because WEs also rely on their large crit chance along with their 50% bonus crit damage. Denying them crits for ten seconds will cut down their damage considerably and give you a big lead. Try to stagger your two deal breakers and try to not have both SL and EB up at the same time. However I’d still go for SL over EB for when she pops FP.

The fight should go like this:

  1. WE opens on you from stealth. If you saw her coming you should have Gudrun’s Warcry up. When the opener lands you most likely won’t be able to see the WE for a few seconds after it.
  2. At this point you need to do one of two things. Either use SL, and deny WE the ability to get more than one armor ignoring AW on you while you’re knocked down (you don’t even need to face her since SL is a 360° AoE), or detaunt. While SL is more effective at mitigating damage, detaunt is more reliable as SL can and will get parried if you’re unlucky. Detaunt however, cannot be parried. If you’re feeling confident you can try to catch the WE with SL while she’s stealthed and detaunt after she opens. If you miss however, you’ll be wasting the SL and possibly signing your own death sentence. Also, as soon as you see the green or red circles going around your character turn for 180° and deny WE the opportunity to get a free knockdown on you or make her waste an extra few second walking around your character to get those armor ignoring AWs with a flanking bonus, if she does knock you down.
  3. After you’re out of the knockdown the fight just boils down to a normal MDPS fight. Use SD when it’s up so she can’t flank you, keep SL up on her whenever it’s off cooldown and Incapacitate as soon as you hit berserk. During one of the first SL downtimes (10 sec after applying one) use EB, as it’s not worth it later when she’s out of AP and unable to spam abilities.
  4. If you can’t get your SL up when she pops FP, strafe kite with charge. That shit hurts.

The fight usually won’t last longer than 10-15 sec unless you’re facing a pot/pocket absorb popping WE. In which case you’ll need to watch out for an Agile Escape (their “self knockback”) and a restealth. If she can do that and has her cooldowns up (knockdown, FP) you’re most likely dead, because the fight is all about you catching up after her opening. In this case she’d be opening twice. Hard one.

Marauder

They, much like WEs, rely on their 50% bonus crit damage and easily stacked crit. EB will get you a long way in this fight.

  • If the Marauder is Brutality or Monstrosity specced SL is of vital importance, as they will rely on their lesser version of Agonizing Wound (called Impale) or a spammable hard hitter (Flail).
  • If the Marauder is Savagery specced SL won’t matter as much, as they usually don’t spam attacks but rather rely on a rotation of debuffs. Use it anyway, as it does mess up their rotation and throws them off-balance.

In any case, your first exhaustive attack should be EB. After that, it’s just your usual MDPS fight. Keep him snared, keep SL up, don’t stay in berserk and do your thing. If you are RoA specced watch out for the knockdown (Brutality spec usually won’t have it) and their AoE interrupt, as it will interrupt RoA.

If the Mara insists on staying Monstrosity you might be in trouble, as such a Marauder is built to outlast you. Monstrosity proc prevents any armor penetration from weaponskill and is a decent HoT, which means that without a decent damage bonus your damage will be paltry. This is one fight where your overstacked weaponskill won’t help. Utilise warlord corrosion bonus or a good damage bonus, all with the help of DW (the heal can be mitigated by heal debuffs).

Choppa

Because Choppas and Slayers are mirrors you should be pretty familiar with their style of play and most of their abilities.

If you’re an ID specced Slayer you will outdamage and beat a similarly geared/specced/played Choppa, because you have access to two important things. Easier weaponskill stacking (courtesy of Wild Gambit) and ID, which does more dps than any ability Choppa has. Just remember to watch for their absorb morale and either kite them when they pop it (kinda hard with the 30 sec duration on it) or pop your own M1 and break through their shield.

If you’re ID specced and the Choppa is specced for their self-heal ability you can pull it off by playing it smart. The key to winning is interrupting their lifetap channel and the only way you can do that is by using Incapacitate. Which means that you might need to spend more time in berserk than you’d want, but there’s no way around that. Just make sure to watch for their self-heal animation and interrupt it as soon as you can. It’s a normal MDPS fight after that. If he uses his heal early, he is probably wasting most of the healing and won’t be making as much use of it as he could, in which case just conserve your AP while he’s doing it and burst him down after it (no need to kite as you can’t avoid the damage from the channel). If he is using it early and not wasting it, your DPS is probably much higher than his, in which case simply carry on.

If you’re RoA specced you should beat a Choppa unless you mistime your lifetap channel. He can either knock you down while you’re channeling, or if the fight lasts long enough pop his M1 (absorb or Confusing Movements) or alternatively use a pocket absorb. You can avoid getting knocked down by using RoA after he uses an exhaustive attack (not if he’s twohander specced as he’s most likely using the equivalent of Power Through), popping RD before using it or using it early on when he can’t use his knockdown. The last option is the worst, see the above paragraph for an explanation. You can avoid Confusing Movements by using Rampage and if he pops any kind of absorb you either need to kite during it or dps it down before you can heal.

Also, if you see the Choppa using a two-hander be prepared to be thrown off your game because of their cooldown increasing ability.

Blackguard

There isn’t much to say here, as this will be a regular tank fight most of the time. If they are dps specced they will probably try to deny you AP by using Choking Fury and outlast you. Gudrun’s Warcry is vital here, along with doing some kiting when you’re out of AP.

If they are turtle S&B specced they can be almost impossible to take down if you don’t have a defensive set. The most vital thing here is to abuse Rampage and always use it when furious, rather than berserk, as it increases its uptime from 33% to 66% of the time. Also abuse the fact that you can get an Incapacitate every 20 seconds to sneak in some SCs. Try to prolong the fight enough for you to wear him down with the help of morale damage (Deadly Determination or Grievous Harm). It’s essentially a battle between your weaponskill and damage bonus against his armor and toughness.

Chosen

A DPS specced Chosen will be one of the toughest enemies to beat. They can get good amounts of damage mitigation through their auras, a parry buff and Crippling Strikes (a tactic that reduces the damage you do by 25% whenever they crit) along with some decent damage thanks to their spirit damage abilities (Ravage, Baneshield and Touch of Palsy) and a resistance decreasing aura. Basically they will be mitigating a lot of your damage while bypassing your armor and a lot of your spirit resistance.

There are few things you can do to help turn the tide of the battle:

  • Keep SL up to prevent them from Ravaging consistently.
  • Don’t stop moving just because you want to prevent Touch of Palsy damage. If he can bypass your parry you’ll be taking more damage than you’re already taking from ToP, so keep circle-strafing.
  • Their crit-rate will be quite high because they’ll want to be consistently triggering Crippling Strikes. Use EB whenever you can.
  • When they drop their M1 on you (it reduces your armor by 1k or so) you can try kiting them to prevent them from getting higher physical damage hits.
  • If you can get more spirit resistance, do it. Change the liniment, potion, whatever. It will help.

A fight against a Chosen is always tough. Only with flawless play can you beat Chosen of the same caliber skill/gear-wise and probably can’t beat Chosen above your gear bracket at all. Unless you have defensive Sovereign, that is.

A turtle specced Chosen is equally hard to kill. The may do less damage, but they’ll be mitigating even more of your damage, making self-healing impossible and eventually wearing you down.

Black Orc

Not much to write here as you will fight them similarly to Blackguards. They can pump out some respectable dps when dps specced but they won’t be as survivable as Chosen when doing so. Abuse Incapacitate, Rampage (if S&B) and don’t forget SL. It might not have as big of an effect as on some other careers, but if you can make them spend some time hesitating and thinking about which ability to use next, SL has done its job.

Also, watch out for their own cooldown increaser. When they use it on you just remember to use whichever ability you have off cooldown. Or alternatively, channel Retribution, as it does decent damage with a decent AP cost and doesn’t require you to use any abilities at all.

Sorceress

A decent Sorc is a tough nut to crack if you are RoA specced. ID build is optimal for killing these spellcasters, defensive set or not, as the fight is essentially a race against the clock. If you can’t kill the Sorc by the time her second rotation goes off, you will most likely be dead. And when I say second rotation I mean the second round of Chillwind/Absorb Vitality/Word of Pain/Vision of Torment with the accompanying Gloombursts and what have you. Because by that time, not only will your health start to drain away, but the Sorc will likely have her full crit chance and crit damage bonus from their mechanic in effect. Which will make the second round of DoTs hurt as hell. This fight, as many others, is much more likely to go in your favour if you can get the jump on them.

However, if a Sorc gets the jump on you, the fight usually goes like this:

  1. You get DoTed up while you charge up to her and get rooted when you catch her. You use the root immunity, but if you haven’t snared her as soon as you could (or if she cleanses it with a cloak) she will be out of your melee range. To prevent this from happening (or from getting snared by Arctic Blast), use the anti-root ability before charging. In most cases the Sorc won’t see the anti-root up and try to root you as soon as you get into melee range.
  2. You start DPSing. If you successfully escaped her root, this is where she’ll disarm you. Because your snare will most likely have worn off at this point, it is extremely important to prevent her from disarming, in order to not have her outrun you. Because your knockdown won’t be up yet you need to use RD.
  3. If you have successfully stayed in melee range it is vital that you hit her with EB to prevent her second rotation from critting and killing you.
  4. If the Sorc hasn’t died by the time she applies her third round of DoTs, you are most likely dead, even if you manage to kill her.

This is one fight where timing EB is of utmost importance. Never use it on mitigating the crit rate of the first part unless you are sure that she has pre-built her Dark Magic (Combustion). Don’t bother with SL unless you are sure that you can apply it before she uses her DoTs (so WoP and Absorb Vitality go on a longer cooldown), as you want to be using your most damaging abilities in order to kill her before she kills you.

A RoA build is inferior to an ID build because it does less damage and the amount of healing provided by RoA is almost never enough to outlive her burst (you’ll have WoP critting you for over 3k, VoT for over 2k and with the accompanying DoTs and Hand of Ruin the full force can hit you for more than 70% of your HP).

The above described fight can go differently though, you might get the jump on her, she might suck or not be single target specced. You can get the hang of this fight, but when the Sorc starts using potions and absorbs is when you have almost no chance of winning. Because the longer she lives, the less of a chance you have.

Magus

I have to be honest here and admit that I haven’t had a proper fight against a Magus in a long time. Last time I encountered a Magus that didn’t suck was probably before my Slayer was wearing anything that would make him competitive. The Magi I encounter these days are almost never a threat. I am not cocky enough to conclude that this is a result of me being so good or that the career is incapable of being competitive. I am confident that a properly specced and played Magus can still compete with equally geared opponents and that the low Magus population is nothing but a reflection of Mythic’s attitude towards the career, who have been ignoring it for the most of the last two years.

In any case, I apologise for getting anything terribly wrong here, but I have never examined Magi because they don’t interest me and have never been much of a threat.

If you face a properly specced Magus (which is not a Rift spec), here are the things you need to be careful of:

  • Stagger in the form of Daemonic Infestation. However this most likely won’t be used unless you get the jump on the Magus, since it gives a very long immunity and breaks on damage. He will use this to set up his daemon, buff himself and get Dissolving Mist down, if specced for it. You don’t want to give him the chance to get back on his feet if this happens, so either try to give the infestation a wide berth, kill it with an axe throw or use RD (least advisable).
  • Knockback. This will always happen, regardless of what you do. You will most likely be snared before it, so be ready with Break Loose and Charge. Usually a knockdown will follow, right when you get back in range.
  • Knockdown when they blow up their daemon. This can be very deadly as it will usually happen on the Dissolving Mist while you are DoTed up. Avoiding this is very simple, kill the daemon as soon as you can. Sure you’ll waste some time killing a turret rather than the Magus, but those things don’t have a lot of hitpoints and it’s more than worth it (it’s especially easy with an ID build, plus it does damage to the Magus). Alternatively you can activate RD, but getting the timing right can be tricky. Usually if you are near their turret and are fully dotted up, that’s when you want to have your RD up.

When in a RoA build just watch out for those interrupts and you’ll outlast them if not outdamage them. In an ID build kill the turret and go to town.

Squig Herder

Similarly as with the Magus, I haven’t encountered a good one in a very long time. There are plenty of them, however, so the career probably isn’t in that bad of a state as the Magus. If you do face a good SH, practice is the only thing that will help you win it. You simply have to anticipate the CC and counter it. However,  you won’t be able to avoid some situations where you will be virtually powerless against a good SH player. But don’t take it to your heart, as it’s usually an unwinnable situation anyway.

Here’s how the fight usually goes if they get the drop on you:

  • You’ll get snared, which is why you’ll use your root/snare immunity and charge to close the distance.
  • When you get close one of two things will happen. The SH will either enter squig armor and knock you back or disarm you. The correct course of action is using RD to prevent a knockback or a disarm and dropping as much DPS on him as you can. Depending on his experience, he may expect you popping RD. If he doesn’t he will waste some time trying to knock you back or disarm you and such a SH will most likely die shortly thereafter, just remember to snare him after three or so seconds of abusing him, hopefully just before he starts running away.
  • A good SH will shortly after realising that you are immune to CC (and usually not wasting it) detaunt you and start kiting with the help of detaunt, Run Away! (squig based ability that increases run speed by 30%), RUN AWAY! (tactic that is a 25% on being hit proc to increase run speed by 30%), Odjira or the new Quick Escape renown ability.
  • In which case you are most likely screwed. Your charge and snare immunity will be on cooldown and you will most likely get punted away or disarmed and kited to death. Even if you can get the snare immunity and charge off cooldown you will get punted away/disarmed again as soon as you close distance, as your immunities will have worn off. If you can get a knockdown just before that happens you may have enough time to kill him, but that happens rarely. Usually if a good SH gets the jump on you, you will die. It’s a simple game of rock, paper, squig.

However, if you can get the jump on the SH the tables will be turned, with your snare immunity and charge off cooldown for when your RD wears off. Which will allow you to close the distance after the punt and should give you enough time to kill the SH before he can do anything about it.

Key things that will turn the tables in your favour:

  • Always position yourself with your back uphill, so you are facing the downhill part of any slope, or towards any nearby objects that will shorten the flight distance when you know that the punt is coming (when the SH enters squig armor).
  • Use the snare on demand, rather than pre-emptively. The 5 second duration with a 10 sec cooldown won’t enable you to throw it on whenever. Knowing when you need it on the SH is crucial to winning this fight.
  • The same applies to RD. Having it and knowing when to use it is key. If you can activate it just before they punt you, you can buy yourself some time by confusing the SH and getting the most out of RD’s cooldown.
  • SL may screw up the SH’s ability usage somewhat, but won’t really impact their CC, avoiding which is the key to killing them. I recommend not bothering with SL and going for as much DPS as you can dish out when in range.
  • If the SH is Bad Gas specced (mirror to SL), it can seriously screw with your damage. Just remember that the AoE is squig based (30 feet). If you can avoid the squig you’ll avoid the debuff.
  • Fleeing and using an AP potion to snare the SH might yield some results, just remember to wait with the snare until Flee expires, because that’s when you can start DPSing the bastard.

Disciple of Khaine

There are two kinds of DoKs you’ll encounter. The healing DoK with a sword and a chalice and the dps DoK with two swords. One is easy to deal with, the other very difficult.

If the DoK is healing specced the only two things you need to worry about are SL and DW. With those two on him even the best of DoKs can be worn down. Remember to keep both debuffs masked by applying other debuffs before them, PS and Onslaught are especially useful for this. Always apply one of them before applying SL, which should be applied before DW. This way the DoK has his most powerful heal on a 5 sec cooldown 50% of the time, with SL protected by one or two debuffs which can be cured but will put the cleanse on 10 second instead of the 5 second cooldown, preventing a second cleanse of SL in time. Try to always use DW and SL from behind the DoK, to ensure he doesn’t parry it.

With this you’ll wear down but the toughest of DoKs, just don’t forget about using Gudrun’s Warcry when it’s up and using an AP pot when the DoK is low. If he keeps healing up with the help of M1 you can counter by bursting him down with Grievous Harm or Determination before he can use his morale.

The melee DoKs will be a tough nut to crack tough. A DPS DoK will most of the time rely on outlasting you, needless to say def Sov and ID spec will be the best in dealing with them. Because the DoK will be relying on his channeled heal ability (Rend Soul) to heal himself up (since your armor will prevent him from using any physical lifetaps) while wearing you down, and because you have only one ability to interrupt the channel with, it becomes a matter of bursting him down when his heal is on cooldown. SL will be of vital importance here.

When you begin the encounter, you shouldn’t be overcommitting into killing him. Do light dps to conserve AP and retain a bit of a surprise element while doing enough damage for him to heal up using Rend Soul. Wait a bit (3-4 second after he stopped casting the previous Rend Soul) and use SL and GW. After he uses this second Rend Soul drop as much dps on him as you can and let yourself go berserk (your second rage drop should be around when you use SL). His third Rend Soul will be on a 10 second cooldown instead of the usual 5, so he’ll be scrambling to heal himself as soon as it comes off cooldown. That’s when you hit him with Incapacitate and interrupt his heal. He shouldn’t be able to outheal your damage after that, as you should be able to outdamage his Devour Essence and Consume Essence, unless you dragged out the fight for too long and he gets his M1 up. If that happens you should hopefully have your M1 Confusing Movements up and use it when he uses his next Rend Soul, to deny him any lifetapping.

This fight relies heavily on timing your SL, Incapacitate, the DoK’s Rend Souls and you bursting him down when you deny his lifetapping. Until you learn the timing and have enough DPS to burst him down the task will seem impossible. Don’t despair and keep trying, learning on your mistakes is the key.

If RoA specced you will have a harder time with bursting him down and unfortunately, while RoA will help you survive longer, he will still be able to heal more and more frequently than you, outlasting you in most cases. If you can survive long enough for him to forget to heal himself in time and use your M1 to deny him his lifetaps, you might be able to burst him down with the help of applying SL just before he tries.

Zealot

Zealots are the only healers that can’t cleanse your debuffs. The only tricky part of killing them is the stagger. When they are low or when your Unstoppable buff runs out, pop RD to extend the immunity and kill them. When you can pop RD exactly when you need it, you shouldn’t have any troubles with killing them, DPS or otherwise. Just remember to use GW consistently to make it easier on your AP.

Obviously, an ID build will have the easiest time dealing with Zealots.

Shaman

These buggers will be the hardest for you to kill. When properly played they are incredibly hard to catch and lock down, which means they will easily kite Slayers to death. Here are some tips that might help you deal with them:

  • Always mask your DW, SL and SD (the latter especially) with an Onslaught or PS.
  • Always position yourself with your back uphill, so you are facing the downhill part of any slope, or towards any nearby objects that will shorten the flight distance when you know that the punt is coming (whenever you catch them and you don’t have your Immovable buff on).
  • Popping RD when a punt is imminent might help, but remember that RD can be used to not get slowed by the green snare puddle, just as Break Loose.
  • Stop for Gork Sez Stop. Don’t time it to two seconds of standing still as it might take a bit longer with the server lag, just stay still till the debuff disappears.
  • If you are planning on circumventing the puddle of green crap, remember that their radius is usually bigger than the graphic.
  • If you can get Determination or Grievous Harm up, get an Incapacitate and burst the Shaman when he’s knocked down you might make it. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Most of the time a prepared, properly played Shaman will be impossible for you to catch and kill. Leave their extermination to WLs and avoid them is the advice I’m giving you.

Consumables

Most people will use an armor potion and a liniment when roaming. Deciding to not use them is your own choice. However I feel that using potions and pocket items in even fights just shows weakness and anyone using them appears as someone admitting inferiority, as they are simply a contest of who has more and better. I do not advise anyone to use them unless their opponents do.

If you are about to lose in an even fight, it was probably your own fault. Chugging down a potion and trying to kill the person that was beating you just shows a flaw of character, instead of simply losing and learning from your mistakes. Bad losers are the worst kind of person to compete with.

Mood and code

I feel like I have to write a word on two about the state you should be in when roaming.

  1. Do not attempt to roam while sad, frustrated or otherwise distressed. Roaming is generally not something to do when you want to relax. Attempting to do so will only lead to frustration and unhappiness.
  2. Be prepared to die. You won’t always get a fair fight, most often you will get ran over by warbands or hunted down by gank groups. You will meet opponents that outrank and outgear you so much that you can’t even dream of killing them. You will meet opponents so hell-bent on winning that they’ll go to any length in order to win. Abusing terrain, items, potions and (hopefully not) even cheating. Everything bar the latter is a part of the game and something you accept when you start roaming.
  3. Learn to differentiate between losing because you are outgeared or because you are outplayed. Don’t be discouraged when losing to people because they played better than you. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time.
  4. If you are getting frustrated by getting killed, losing or are simply in a bad mood, take a break, go get a drink, smoke a cigarette, refresh yourself and try again. Or just call it a day. There’s no point in throwing yourself out there just to get killed by a mob of hungry enemies.
  5. It’s usually better to roam in zones where the other side outnumbers you, than the other way around. At least for me getting killed but getting a few kills is better than roaming in a zone where every destro is swarmed by order.

The beauty of roaming is the randomness. 90% of the time encountering several enemies or players that are better than you will kill you. The 10% of the time you manage an impossible kill will make the rest worth it.

Then there’s the code that I personally abide to. You won’t find many people trying to do the same, hell, you won’t even find me sticking to it all the time. But it’s something I aspire to and try to remember every time any of these situations arise.

  1. Ganking lowbies proves nothing. You aren’t a better player for winning an encounter of trivial difficulty and you won’t get much renown for it. Just leave them be. (CheckRR is an addon that will help with this)
  2. Adding into even fights most of the time isn’t appreciated by either side. Helping out someone getting ganked by a player outranking him by far, helping a person who is already low on health from a previous engagement or evening out an uneven fight will usually be appreciated by the victim though.
  3. Repeatedly killing someone you have proven to be able to kill doesn’t attest to your supremacy, but rather to your need to stroke your epeen or to your renown horniness.
  4. Make sure you are familiar with your server’s dueling emotes. It’s always a good idea to use them when you want a fair fight.

All of those apply to enemies that show you the same courtesies. Of course, if a lowbie attack you first you are going to defend yourself. Or if you let him go, only to have him turn against you whenever you are engaged, it’s only reasonable to retaliate and teach him a lesson when you can.

You can only be chivalrous with those that exert chivalry themselves, a good sport when the opponent shows sportsmanship. Retaliating when those values are discarded by the other side is not weakness, but equality.

Conclusion

With that, this wall of text has now been scaled. I hope you found this semi-guide useful and wish you happy hunting.

I will be glad to recieve any kind of constructive criticism. Any and all comments and remarks can be entered below.

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4 thoughts on “Freelance: Slayer

  1. Holy mother of all sweet profanity! This wall of text just killed Archeon! Well almost.

    I’ll post another comment when I’ve read through half of it, so expect to hear from me somewhere in July. :)

    • What? 10k words too much for you? Pfft… :D

      I actually have no idea how much time I spent writing this, but I do know that I spent more than an hour just proofreading it. xD

      This wasn’t intended to be a post everyone should read, but more like a library for those googling and looking for information. That’s why I didn’t bother with pictures (although I did format it as best as I could). Though there aren’t really many relevant pictures I could use. :P

      I don’t recommend reading anything apart from the first and last two sections unless you are familiar with and interested in the Slayer. Go for some lighter reading from my blogroll instead. Although most of them have turned to Rift now, so you might need to sift through the “trash”. :P

  2. From a (former) Slayer I can say it’s a good read and a very well thought-out treatise on Slayer tactics. Though it’s written with a solo-roaming focus there are good tips for a group Slayer player, or those looking to step their game up against any specific Destro class. I’ve played my Slayer almost exclusively since they were put into the game and I still found a good tip or two in that intimidating wall o’ text for fighting a couple of the more difficult Destro classes.

    While reading I tried to come up with any other tips or tricks that I’ve learned along the way:

    1) Witch Elves: if you see one stealth near you then detaunt immediately to lessen the impact of their opening salvo, and of course try to circle strafe a bit to keep them from opening up behind you.

    2) Renown Training: get Cleansing Winds. Two ranks to take the cooldown down to 2 minutes has saved me from more DoTs than I care to remember.

    3) Any time you die in glorious combat keep in mind that dying in glorious combat is what Slayers LIVE for. If you die a lot you just really like to RP. ;)

    Thanks for the read Blaq. It was almost enough to make me want to resub and use my OP Def-Sov with SS/TS to make Destro cry moar. Almost…

    • On WEs I found catching them with SL before they get the stun on you works better than a detaunt, but it’s riskier as it can be parried.

      On Cleansing Wind, I totally missed that. Probably because I never used it. But now that you reminded me of it, the obvious usage would be against sorcs that I was having most troubles with. Not to mention that it can save you from rat engineers imba dot (which can be avoided if played smart) or any leftover dots that would otherwise have killed you. I shall have to edit the thing.

      Unfortunately, Slayer RP just doesn’t work because of the respawn system. I reckon the Slayer is going “Oh not again.” when getting rolled over by a gank group for the 10th time, rather than “Give me death!”. :D

      Thanks for the compliments and the input. I’m sure I missed a lot of things (like cleansing wind), but then again, slayers aren’t that complicated to play. I realised that a bit too late (when the thing was almost finished), so this will probably stay as only a wall of text. :)

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