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Old 03-26-2017, 07:49 PM
EnjoyTheJourney EnjoyTheJourney is offline
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 145
Default [] Pets on Fire: A build diary & plan for newer players aiming to make their first pet build

Final Edit: PoF's journeys are now complete. She's passed every test I had set out for her, including clearing Steps of Torment and Bastion of Chaos on hardcore ultimate, along with defeating hardcore ultimate Loghorrean*.

For a "tl;dr" summary of where this build finished up at the end of PoF's journeys, click on the Grimtools link given toward the bottom of post #42.

Table of Contents:

Post 1: Original plans for PoF's build (Grimcalc)
Post 1: At the end of Post 1 is a brief summary of how the final build changed and why
Post 2: Hotkey plans for build
Post 5: Discussion of Offensive Ability and Defensive Ability (Crucial information for new players)
Post 5: Introduction to Benevald (secret NPC vendor in Blood Grove, sells a variety of helpful items for SSF play)
Post 6: Brief overview of Occultist pets (Incomplete, see DaShiv's "Dracarris" hybrid pet build for more about Occultist pet auras)
Post 11: Getting pets to hit for critical damage (see also posts 12-16 for good feedback from others about this issue)
Post 11: Initial thoughts about components for this build
Post 17: A detailed suggested build order for a newer / returning player for normal or vet normal that can work in softcore or hardcore
Post 18: Suggested order for devotions and celestial skills, how to balance offense and defense
Post 20: Analysis of pet damage (Summary: Flat damage, attack speed, movement speed, and resistance reduction are a huge help; the UI isn't accurate)
Post 21: Brief summary of a fight with Valdaran (Aetherial Nemesis boss) in hardcore ultimate
Post 27: Description of tactics to make battles easier
Post 28: Description of first battle with hardcore ultimate Loghorrean
Post 32: I finally figure out what Grimtools is and how to use it (1st grimtools for PoF is in this post)
Post 35: Answers to questions from a poster about how to build up the number of pets and how to get AOE with this build
Post 36: Description of second battle with hardcore ultimate Loghorrean, with Grimtools for PoF's build for this fight
Post 41: Report on results from many ultimate hardcore Twin Falls runs (average time, ease of effort)
Post 41: Report on an attempt to do a full clear of hardcore ultimate Steps of Torment (Rogue dungeon)
Post 42: Report on attempts to fight to the end of hardcore ultimate Bastion of Chaos (Rogue dungeon)
Post 42: Grimtools for PoF's final build spec, the build used for attempts to clear the Bastion of Chaos
Post 43: Addresses questions about how this build is likely to function in the upcoming expansion


Rather than put together a build guide that focuses on end-game gearing and skills, I wanted write up a kind of build plan / diary for a variation on usual pet builds.

My goal was to solo Pets on Fire from level 1 to level 85 and all the way through hardcore ultimate (including the final Log fight) using only gear she finds on her own, faction gear, and crafted items. I played as if crucible didn't exist, as otherwise the game gets much easier (after getting a lot of devotion points early, for example). I added in some thoughts provided for decisions made along the way.

This will hopefully be particularly interesting and helpful for newer players, but perhaps it will also interest some of those who are more experienced.

Part of the motivation for this build diary / plan stems from finding out from experience that the thoughtfully constructed and very popular "Pokemon" build works very well if you have gear and experience. But, it's not necessarily quite as survivable or as gear independent as one might like for a new player's first character. Thus, I'm creating this character which I believe can go all the way through the game with whatever meager +skills might be found or crafted along the way.

I learned quite a bit from others along the way, as the footnote to this first post indicates.

I'd like to mention that posts after this point are written more or less from an "I just finished this" point of view because I actually started writing this when PoF was level 1 and kept adding to the thread with updates as her journeys moved forward.

Original Plans for Pets on Fire: Pyromancer (Occultist / Demolitionist)

Grimcalc (click here)

Key active skills: hellhound, familiar, flashbang, thermite mines, curse of frailty, blood of dreeg
Key passives: possession, bonds of bysmiel, flame touched, blast shield

Planned Devotions:

Tree of life (5 of 6 pts only, in the end)
Ulo Keeper of waters
Solael's witchblade
Light of Empyrion
Solemn watcher
Crossroads Chaos

Relic: Whatever is available, with pet relics taking priority when they can be crafted. If no pet relics can be crafted, then a defensive relic will be used.

Components: Auras for resists, perhaps enchanted flint for fire aura, others as found and as needed

Augments: Multiple pet augments, also as needed to boost hit points and patch up resists

How the Final Build Evolved out of the Original Build

The build above puts a high premium on defenses, especially with the use of Light of Empyrion constellation. My thinking was that resists could be challenging to maintain at a healthy level in hardcore ultimate. And, that constellation was quite helpful in early ultimate for shoring up some resists. But, when delving deeper into hardcore ultimate clear speed started to fall. Switching to 2 points in Obelisk of Memnir (with 150 armor being a key choice there) and getting the Acid Spray celestial skill from the Manticore constellation improved damage by a noticeable amount (resist reduction is a damage multiplier). The added armor from 2 points in Obelisk was quite helpful and the added damage from Acid Spray made PoF more fun to play (and more effective).

The detailed build plan given in Post 18 can be modified by dropping the Light of Empyrion constellation and putting in five points from the Manticore constellation and two points from Memnir's Obelisk instead.

* I'd like to acknowledge several posters who helped me learn more about the build (and the game) through their posts in this and other threads, including DaShiv, Nssheepster, Tyr, Ryzel, rmsinj, and Kekkuli.

Last edited by EnjoyTheJourney; 10-01-2017 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 03-27-2017, 05:18 AM
EnjoyTheJourney EnjoyTheJourney is offline
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 145
Default Beginnings ...

Pets on Fire went from level 1 to dinging level 23 just before wrapping up today's play session. Her present grimcalc is as below:

Grimcalc (click here)

With both base pet skills maxed early, a searing ember component providing fire blast support, and flame torrent (celestial on fiend), leveling speed has been pretty good.

Getting the celestial on Imp (aetherfire) is the next devotions-related goal.

To manage aggro, my basic pattern has been to let minions handle mobs, throwing in some fire blast every now and again, or spamming it when fighting bosses. Minions go in first, as mobs tend to target whatever they see first, and ember claw was taken relatively early to generate more aggro for hellhound.

Hotkeys are as follows:

A - health potion
S - not in use now, but fairly soon blood of dreeg
D - fireblast for now, flashbang later
F - pet move / attack
G - not in use now, eventually thermite mines
Z - energy potion
X - some "oh shit" item or skill, probably an aether crystal
C - re-summon familiar
V - re-summon hellhound
B - Not sure yet, maybe a component or relic skill

On the "Y" hotkey, I'll have all auras, plus a few consumables to handle awkward situations.

Pets on Fire found "Soiled trousers" today and she's concerned that's not the best sign about how well the promise to get her through hardcore ultimate is likely to work out.
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:46 AM
Tyr Tyr is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 622

A rather odd build, to be sure. Though given your username I suppose its workable in the sense that you can just try to kite mobs until nothing's left.

I suppose letting devotions take care of a large chunk of your resistances while probably devoting most of your item slots towards pet gear is one way to play a summoner.

You're really better off maxing Blood of Dreeg ASAP for early game. Extra stat/health points is really easy to get with gear and the Polished Emerald component.
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:46 AM
Kekkuli Kekkuli is offline
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 425

Hmm, pretty defensive devotion setup. Wondering if your pets are going to deal enough damage. Never tried maxing raven myself.
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Old 03-28-2017, 05:28 AM
EnjoyTheJourney EnjoyTheJourney is offline
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 145

Kekkuli & Tyr: Thank you for your feedback!

Pets on Fire (PoF) made some good progress during today's play session, especially in terms of improving her life / energy / resists / gear.

PoF began this play session at level 23 at the Old Arkovia Rift, with about 2200 life, 1300ish energy, and bad gear. Explorer Footpads were probably her best item, at that point. Poison & acid resists and fire resists were in the mid 50s, while everything else is 36 or below. Most resists were very low.
She had all devotions easily available at that point, meaning she had the "Flame Torrent" celestial skill from the Fiend constellation and that the "Aetherfire" celestial skill from the Imp constellation was not yet available.

She finished up today's play session at level 36, at the Blood Grove rift, with most accessible shrines restored. She now has 3683 life, 1900ish energy, most resists in the 20s or higher, and 50ish chaos resist because of a medal bought from the secret NPC vendor in Blood Grove. She has three celestial skills now (Flame torrent, Aetherfire, and Eldritch fire).

Here is her current Grimcalc (click here).

PoF now has Rifthound boots, which offer +2 hellhound. That was quite a good find for where she is in the game.

For components, I've got unholy inscription on hand armor, searing ember on off hand (fire blast), enchanted flint on weapon (for the damage aura). I'll start adding more components soon, to boost her survivability.

I was also able to craft the Guile relic with little effort, so I went ahead and did that (+physical damage aura for hellhound was the main payoff for that). It's a "good enough for now" relic, until something better comes along.

Notes for Newer Players:

Offensive Ability (OA) and Defensive Ability (DA) - Critically Important in Grim Dawn

Offensive ability and defensive ability are two of the most important numbers for combat in Grim Dawn. The interaction between an attacker's offensive ability and a defender's defensive ability has a major influence on the frequency and amount of damage done, with non-linear changes in damage given and taken when OA and DA scale up.

Also, even spells can miss in this game, depending on the OA / DA values in play. That is unusual in ARPGs and probably unexpected for most new players. And, again depending on the OA / DA values in play, you can hit mobs and be hit by mobs with 100% certainty in Grim Dawn. That is also unusual and probably unexpected for new players.

Another key reason for how important OA and DA are in Grim Dawn has to do with how critical hits and critical hit damage are calculated. The best resource I know about for conveying this rather technical information (and to hit probabilities) is available by clicking on this link.

Building off the above observations, this build plan revolves around finding a way to "bootstrap" a gear-poor build to try to help pets hit mobs for critical damage (later in the game) and to reduce the odds of the player's character getting hit for critical damage by mobs later in the game. These objectives are important because crits by pets are the easiest way to make a pet build work well and reducing incoming crits is, well, critical for survival later in the game.

I'll write more specifics about how this build seeks to get more pet crits and to reduce incoming crits (and other damage) to the player character in a later post. I'll also write later about the strengths and weaknesses, characteristics and quirks, of the hellhound and familiar pets.

The secret NPC vendor named Benevald

Benevald in Blood Grove (click here to see a video on how to find him) is a very helpful resource for new players, and also for self found characters. Benevald sometimes sells chipped claws and vengeful wraiths, which are often helpful for crafting. Corpse dust is also offered quite often, along with a handful of other components that are sometimes in demand.

He also offers some good amulets and medals that can help to patch some difficult holes in resists, even sometimes selling medals with high triple resists or sky high chaos resists, for example.

Last edited by EnjoyTheJourney; 03-28-2017 at 05:33 AM.
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Old 03-29-2017, 06:05 AM
EnjoyTheJourney EnjoyTheJourney is offline
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 145

Today Pets on Fire (PoF) reached level 42 and the Fort Ikon riftgate. She has a bit over 5200 hit points and about 1775ish energy. Her resist are steadily rising, with 30 being her lowest resist and with poison and acid resist at 71.

The searing ember component is gone, with a purified salt component in its place for the aether resist aura. In place of fireblast from searing ember, a level 4 Flashbang has the aetherfire celestial skill attached to it. She has 20% armor absorption from a scaled hide component, to further reduce incoming damage, along with a couple of silk swatches and other components intended to boost resists.

She's started on building faction by doing bounties. That will offer access to augments once she reaches honored status with multiple NPC factions, which will really help for making the transition to Elite difficulty.

PoF's updated Grimcalc: (click here for Grimcalc)

I'll defer a bit longer on explaining the various ways crits will be sought for pets and for explaining how reductions to incoming damage are anticipated. Below is a bit of an overview for the Occultist's Mastery pets.

Notes for Newer Players:

Occultist pets

There are multiple ways to get pets in the game, so you're not limited to just pets that can be summoned from mastery skills. But, there are just two pets in the Occultist Mastery, the Hellhound and the Familiar.

The Hellhound is a melee fighter, it's the better than the Familiar for getting and holding aggro, and it does most of all the Occultist's pet damage. It blows up when it is killed or is re-summoned, doing quite a bit of AOE damage whenever it blows up. The AI for a Hellhound is straightforward, it attacks quickly, and overall it performs quite well. Hellhound benefits from flat damage adders, which can make it even more effective as a fighter.

The Familiar is often underrated, in my view. It's been buffed multiple times and, with its buffs, it's helpful for an Occultist pet build. It does a noticeable amount of damage when built for that, it has crowd control, it buffs damage for allies, and it has a modest heal. I often hide my summoner behind the Familiar because the Familiar will often intercept mobs headed for my summoner and kill them, or at least take their aggro, and will sometimes intercept missiles headed for my summoner.

The Familiar doesn't attack as quickly as the Hellhound. But, when the base skill is maxed the Familiar does respectable damage with its basic attack through a lightning hit, followed by 2 seconds of electrocute damage. I believe the Familiar does not benefit from flat weapon damage, being treated by the game as a caster, which does limit its damage potential.

Once both pets have a good amount of total speed, they move around pretty well. Still, Familiar will sometimes stop short of your intended destination for it. When that happens, then clicking again on the spot where you want the Familiar to go usually works fine.
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Old 03-29-2017, 06:28 AM
Nssheepster Nssheepster is offline
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 1,424

It may be worth farming for a Salazar MI once you reach Ultimate. The drop rate doesn't seem too bad, IMO all players should be able to get at least a crappy copy pretty quickly. The temp pet's pretty good.
For those who need comprehension aids:
Best/Opinion/Fact http://www.grimdawn.com/forums/showthread.php?p=492058#post492058
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Old 03-29-2017, 08:25 AM
Tyr Tyr is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 622

Only if you do significant chaos damage. On a build like this, something like the Legion Voidcutter would be a lot more useful thanks to Minion Frenzy.
Pet speed significantly increase pet aggro potential and help pets kill stuff while he kites.

The main problem with the Familiar has always been its AI. If it wasn't missing its attacks outright thanks to some random doodad in the way or ignoring mobs half-way across the screen, it was either constantly re-positioning itself instead of attacking or it took long pauses trying to acquire targets. It's been steadily improving though.

And yes, the Familiar is a caster, which sort of limits its damage potential. Still, augments like the Rifthound Salts are easy to get and the game likes to give you a lot of +%pet damage freebies early on (eg. Rhowari Shoulderguard/Cuirass, Wrath of the Beast Tincture).
It's pretty much impossible to screw up an Occultist pet build in normal item-wise.
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Old 03-29-2017, 12:30 PM
EnjoyTheJourney EnjoyTheJourney is offline
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 145

Nssheepster & Tyr: Thank you for your feedback!

I found the Black Grimoire of Og'Napesh last night, which creates a bit of a quandary. This is intended to be a build diary aimed at newer players. But, if the Revenant is added to the mix (especially early) then the build gets quite a bit stronger than most first-character, self found new player pet builds would be likely to be.

I'll probably go ahead and farm for Salazar's MI and/or seek out a Legion Voidcutter and leave the Revenant in the stash, at least for now.

I've worked with a maxed out Familiar in another pet build that is in late Ultimate hardcore and found it worth keeping. So, I've learned how to manage its AI quirks to improve its performance. The simplest step to take is to get the hellhound and familiar to move together into new areas, basically on top of each other. When the Familiar is basically on top of mobs, it's hard to miss and it fights better.

Also, I have the flame torrent celestial skill on the hellhound because it scales so well with attack speed and the hellhound has rapid attacks, plus the hellhound attracts groups of mobs. I have the eldritch fire celestial skill on the Familiar because it doesn't scale off attack speed and it's helpful to have that celestial skill on a ranged pet that spreads it all over the screen the way the Familiar does. These two celestial skills are the keys to making the build work because they play so nicely together.
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Old 03-29-2017, 04:05 PM
Tyr Tyr is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 622

Just use it. The Black Grimoire of Ogna'pesh isn't really a rare item - all my summoners have managed to get their own copy of it in normal/elite. It's almost like the item is weighted to drop for characters that do lots of pet damage (or perhaps have a lot of points in pet skills).

Anyway, you CAN suggest alternatives like Karvor's Conjuring Bone. It's a guaranteed MI drop from act 1 in all difficulties (though where it spawns is random) that has a chance to summon a buffing pet. I see no distinction TBH, unless you assign a devotion to your Revenant - that could be problematic because you can't do that for the Karvor's Conjuring Bone item pet.
Another alternative are offhands with the "of Binding" affix, which occasionally spawn in stores (basically the store equivalent of Karvor's).

The Legion Voidcutter is from the Black Legion faction vendor, available at Respected. It's a pretty powerful item and one of the many guaranteed mainhaind options for summoners.

Last edited by Tyr; 03-29-2017 at 04:48 PM.
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