1.5 Blademaster mini-guide: spamming SoJ for days

Hello!

While Blademasters are by no means my strong suit, there hasn’t been a guide for them since 1.5 launched. So, I’d like to try my hand at covering the basics for aspiring bladed harbingers of death.

But before I do, obligatory disclaimers.

Disclaimer: As 2038 progresses, much of the info in these guides is very likely to, or even bound to, not apply in the future.

Disclaimer #2: This build is very focused on one specific purpose. It may not be the most fun route to take while leveling, and you may want to just use it as a rough template and spice it up accordingly.

Next, some generally useful notes for newer players.

  • Never invest attribute points anywhere unless gear feeds require it. You will need points in the endgame for your final gear feeds, as well as to pump your stat(s) of choice.
  • Don’t invest skillpoints as soon as you get them. You may need to invest many skillpoints at once when you hit certain levels that unlock a bunch of useful skills.
  • Don’t bother augmenting early gear unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll use it in the endgame. It’s a waste of resources, and most of the game can be beaten quite comfortably.
  • Don’t shy away from parties. Remember that being in a party yields more exp, and frankly makes the game more fun. This is particularly true for Blademasters, since they’re a melee glass cannon class.

Now then.

#1 The skills and expertises

Before delving into gear, let’s begin with skills. Those will inform many gear choices and vice versa, and they help frame the “one-trick pony” nature of this build.

This takes the following gear for granted:

  • A +1 to all skills helmet
  • Archangel Gliders for Path of Righteousness
  • A Hamper cast set (2 swords with +3 Hamper each)

10 (9+1) Sword of Justice

The main spam skill of the build, and one of only 2 offensive skills you’ll be using – unless you spice up the build with more. Maxed for maximum damage.

3 Sweeping Strike, 6 (5+1) Whirlwind (buff accordingly or skip)

SS can be used while leveling as an extra AoE skill, but here it’s mostly used to access Whirlwind. Now, Whirlwind won’t be used as a single-target damage-dealing option, and using splash swords with SoJ can provide some splash damage. However, it’s handy for mobility, some additional AoE damage, and power management.

You may either max it for userate, or skip the investment and just grab it through gear for a farming skill.

3 (2+1) Surge of Restoration, 2 (1+1) Templar Restoration (buff accordingly)

Survival assets. SoJ lets this Surge, and all Surges, proc reliably. Templar Restoration notably heals through poison, and it also heals party members. Buff accordingly.

Note that this Surge scales to max hp, so stacking +STA/+hp/+hp% can facilitate tankier builds effectively.

3 (2+1) Surge of Wrath, 7 (6+1) Crusader Wrath

The former is used as a prerequisite for the latter. The class can definitely support crit-based builds, but this build just needs Crusader Wrath for its massive damage bonus.

2 (1+1) Surge Mastery (buff accordingly or skip)

SoJ can proc Surges rather reliably on its own, so this passive boost to Surge proc chance is highly optional. This build invests a single point in it to benefit from +1 AS.

8 (7+1) Matched Blades (invest accordingly)

One point in this allows dual-wielding, and further points grant WILL. It benefits AoP, and it can be a blessing with how draining SoJ spam is. However, you may have enough power regen from other sources to just need the one point in this skill.

10 (9+1) Aura of Power

The main aura of this build, AoP counters the massive cost of spamming SoJ. Keep in mind that it scales to max power, so any WILL/+power options let it perform better.

5 (4+1) Aura of Deflection (invest accordingly)

Finally, this aura provides amazing protection in general and in specific encounters; Dreadnaught, Imhotep, and so forth. You may use rings and/or a cast set for this aura instead, such as Grimaces, since it maxes at 5.

Gear-only skills

Lastly, in terms of skills, the build depends on 2 pieces of gear for some very useful skills.

Path of Righteousness

Archangel Gliders provide this skill. PoR provides an excellent mobility option and a panic button. You can invest hard points to get it, of course, should you choose to use other boots – but the cost is relatively steep for 1 point.

Hamper

Hamper serves as another means of boosting damage, by lowering enemy armor. Hamper also benefits your parties, of course. This build uses a cast set for a total of 7 points (3+3+1), which isn’t notably worse than maxing it. You can use such gear as The Edge of Abbadon as substitutes until you get +3 swords.

Expertises

With skills covered, let’s delve into expertises. My 5 choices for this build, in order of importance, are the following:

  • Enhanced Melee Speed: +8% melee speed
  • Toughness: +392 armor
  • Enhanced Willpower: +16% power
  • Tranquility: +240 power regen/minute
  • Affliction: +16% to all sfx strengths

Of course, investing in Tranquility and Enhanced Willpower is only as essential as your power needs. The latter is taken for its benefit to AoP, and both may be swapped for other options if you don’t need more regen; Surgical Precision (+4% crit chance) for crit builds), Enhanced Stamina (+16% hp) for high-hp builds, and so forth.

#2 Gear

Now, it goes without saying that a +1 to all skills ring can help the build expand more. Similarly, cast sets can be used for more skills than the above. However, that part of spicing up the build I’ll leave to players’ tastes, since massive gear dependencies are never fun for many. Still, the class has a few gear choices to consider.

Swordsman armor vs Seraphs

While Defender and Order pieces can also be useful, and even built around, the 2 armor pieces this build will focus on are Swordman and Seraphs. The former provide inherent +melee speed, while the latter provide massive shields. While dismissing Seraphs regardless of shields should be easy for many, some Seraphs also provide notable +skills, +stats, or offensive bonuses.

Notable Swordsman gear pieces include:

  • Hattori’s Tekou for its unique 4% melee speed and manageable feeds.
  • Mir’s Anger for decent armor and shields, +AA, TAV, and occasional +userate for all skills.
  • Chakl’s Kabuto for inherent +AA and +WILL, both of which benefit AoP. However, Mythics and some Uniques can be of more use as a final helmet.

Notable Seraph gear pieces include:

  • Angelic Visage for movement speed and shield penetration, as well as massive (25-40) WILL. Of course, if one prefers more armor and STR, without losing the shield penetration, Face of the Crusader is an equally viable option.
  • Hands of Heaven for massive (10-20%) added physical damage, as well as damage to demons.
  • Archangel Cincture for massive (10-20%) added physical damage and decent (10-20) STR.
  • Archangel Cuisses for massive (25-40) STA and movement speed.
  • Archangel Gliders for movement speed, shields, Sprint, and Path of Righteousness.

So, while +stat Mythic Swordsman gear may generally be optimal for most slots in terms of damage, you may consider mix-matching a few of the above.

Hp, armor, shields

Next, as far as survivability goes, the class has a few different routes to consider.

  • Stacking hp can benefit Surge of Restoration, but is generally not as valuable as mitigation; high hp alone won’t save one often when getting stunlocked or otherwise incapacitated.
  • Armor is generally useful as it provides mitigation, but ideally you only need enough to survive until the enemy dies. One can certainly focus on armor at the cost of damage, but it’s generally not what the class excels at.
  • Shields are less useful as pure mitigation, and the class lacks refill skills. However, enough shields can help prevent sfx, especially coupled with some mobility.

+Duration of boost skills and thorns

Notably, +duration of boost skills can also benefit the class quite visibly. This affix can increase the duration of Sprint for more mobility, as well as Surges for potential unlucky streaks (or more Restoration uptime for hp-focused builds).
Finally, and perhaps most notably, it also increases the duration of Crusader Wrath; in this regard, +boost directly translates to increased damage.

As for thorns, it’s beneficial to have at least one source of it across all gear. The reason being, thorns can trigger Surges through being hit in melee, increasing total uptime/proc rate. Do note, however, that there’s little point in stacking them; a single thorns affix will suffice for this use, regardless of damage type.
Lastly, do note that this interaction requires at least one sword to be equipped, which is the requirement for Surges themselves.

+Stats

Finally, the question of mitigation vs damage applies to stat priorities as well.

  • ACC is generally inferior to STR for pure damage, especially outside of crit-focused builds.

  • STR is the stat that increases damage, so the more the better. The safest stat to invest in after covering gear feeds.

  • STA provides hp, so it’s never useless. It also benefits Surge of Restoration.

  • WILL provides power and power regeneration, and also benefits Aura of Power. Regen may be covered by other assets, however, so invest in this stat only if you absolutely need it.

Rings and dyes

Next, the class has a few different options in this area.

Out of rings, the main options include:

  • Any Legendary ring with +1 to all skills – such rings can let this build expand significantly, since the class lacks +1 AS outside of helmets and Shimmer of the Rising Sun, which is a shield.
  • Any ring with –power cost of Swordsmanship skills and +skills of choice – such rings can help reduce the power strain of spamming SoJ, and provide some key skills without investing hard points. One may use Squadro’s Prisms instead, to benefit from +elemental damage and +sfx of choice.
  • Squadro’s Masterwork Crystal – this Unique ring provides elemental damage of all types, as well as 3-7% armor penetration. Arguably the best ring for damage.
  • Fulcrum’s Masterwork Scale – this Unique ring provides a flat armor value, as well as TAV and +hp%. It’s generally not preferable outside of solo play, but it’s a decent mitigation option for the slot.

Next, dye kits also provide a few interesting options across different levels:

  • Heroic – arguably the best dye kit for Blademasters, this one provides +6% melee speed. An excellent boost to damage.
  • Scorched – this dye provides +16% sfx strength, and can thus help proc sfx more frequently. Naturally better in sfx-focused setups.
  • Black Knight – the old king of dyes, this one provides a useful +AA. It’s generally useful as a substitute dye rather than a final one, however.
  • Probability Modulator – this dye kit provides some useful +power regen, which can be very useful early on.
  • Pulsating Chronometer – finally, this dye provides +9% hp, which can also be useful early. Naturally better in defensive, high-hp builds.

Swords; leveling, farming, bosses

Finally, in terms of swords, the fastest swords tend to deal the most damage. However, there are a few viable options to consider while leveling and farming.

As far as single-target damage is concerned, however, there are two main options for this build (and most builds):

  • Hikida’s Lamentation – This very fast sword has great raw damage, and allows for both +damage and +fire damage to be augmented on it again. It also comes with inherent shield penetration and ignite strength, making it a very suitable boss killer.
  • Blade of Chaos – This fast sword boasts equally impressive raw damage, divided between two types, and also allows for 3 damage augments; +damage, +spectral damage, and +toxic damage. It switches ignite with poison, and also comes with a slot (unlike Hikida’s) which can be used for –power cost or +phase strength relics, outside of +damage options.

Notably, Grimace and other Gleamcarvers can facilitate crit builds much better due to their 5 max slots. However, this build doesn’t focus on crit, so the two options above are superior here.

#3 Power management

Finally, since power management is such a crucial point for this build, I’d like to devote a whole (small) section to it. Of course, Power Injectors and Restoratives can help alleviate the situation somewhat, but the drain of SoJ cannot be overstressed. There are 2 main ways to reduce power drain in this build; reducing skill cost, and buffing AoP.

Reducing skill cost; -cost of Swordsmanship skills

SoJ does cost “just” 30 power per use, but it’s still immense for a spam skill. As such, you can use –power cost of Swordsmanship skills to reduce the individual use cost. This affix can be found on the following:

  • Rings – all non-Unique rings can come with this affix (Rare: 9-12%, Legendary: 13-16%).
  • Gloves – gloves are the only armor piece that can get this affix, excluding potential Uniques.
  • Swords – augmenting this affix on swords is another option. For the endgame, this can be as high as 16-18%, for a total of 32-36% with 2 such swords.
  • Relics – finally, this affix can appear on relics. Notably, this makes Gleamcarvers better than Blade of Chaos for this specific purpose, since they can have up to 2 relic slots.

For exact values across different levels and augment grades, please refer to the wiki page on affixes.

Buffing Aura of Power; +power, +power%

Finally, you may indirectly buff Aura of Power through a few different sources:

  • +AA/+WILL on gear and through achievements – boosting WILL through either of these increases max power, and thus buffs AoP.
  • The Skillful (“Just…One…More…”) achievement – this achievement provides +8% power, yielding massive returns for the slot.
  • Matched Blades – this skill provides 8 WILL per point, up to 64 at lv8.
  • The Enhanced Willpower Expertise – this expertise grants +16% power, so it can buff your total WILL investments.

Of course there are other achievements that can also provide +AA, +WILL, and +power; “Fashion bug”, “You found a what?”, and “There’s no place like it”, respectively. Please refer to the wiki page on achievements for those, to plan your achievement slots according to your needs.

Conclusion: a powerful one-trick pony

In conclusion, this build allows the class to be a very powerful one-trick pony. There are of course other ways to build; crit builds, Flying Blade builds, even sfx builds with Aura of the Elements. This guide should help as a rough template for newcomers, while giving enough room for creativity and tweaks.

As a testament to this build’s efficiency, I’d like to finish with a video of a rather sloppy Moloch run. Note that this performance was achievable with only 300 STR, clean Hikida’s, and a few suboptimal armor choices. Skill-wise, it was identical to this build, with the exception of abandoning Whirlwind for lv8 Hamper through hard points (which you can absolutely avoid).

Thank you for reading, and happy demon slaying!

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Quick sneaky edit to include the importance of +boost.

about power management - i’ve been told that spamming power injectors together with crafted restorative should allow continuous SoJ spam on it’s own. dunno how accurate it is and i usually dislike using consumables, but after getting used to slamming those un-SFXers, i also becase a power injector addict :slight_smile: mixed with occasional Whirlwind (got in from a unique sword), it suffices for levelling.

That’s a fair point. I also hear that many endgame players don’t fret about power management as much, but I’ve seen a few who do so I figured I’d cover it properly.
I wasn’t terribly confident in suggesting more intricate builds either, and I know a few people might be crafting up their own. So might as well leave the deeper stuff to resident BMs at heart :slight_smile:

What do you use in the achievements slots?
BTW thorns on gear can trigger Surges. I am not sure if they have to be physical.
Can you show the gear from the video please?

I use +AA, +STR, +STA, +WILL, +8% power. Caste damage can substitute for one or two of these depending on the encounter, as well as plain +damage. +WILL does take a while to farm, so there’s a few options there like +30 power from “There’s no place like it”.

A very good point, although I must note that they need at least one sword to be equipped to do so. Thanks, I’ll add a note on that.

I’m afraid I’ve since changed it quite a bit, as I look into bits and pieces as they come up. By memory, it’s the following with +stat or +boost augments:
Angelic Visage with +1 AS
Archangel Wings (suboptimal, yes)
Mir’s Anger (also swappable with a better Mythic)
Archangel Cincture
A Mythic +stat Kakozuri
Hands of Heaven
Archangel Gliders with +movement speed

Then clean Hikida’s, the Heroic dye kit, and Squadro’s Masterwork Crystal.

London-2038-Client-SP mod Un 1.5.4b with game experience archive (hellgateaus.info)](http://www.hellgateaus.info/forum/hellgate-london-save-files/london-2038-client-singleplayer-game-experience-archive/)

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Those are awesome, many thanks for your work :slight_smile:

The ring is on a level of its own, of course. Truly excellent.