Darkform Melee Summoner - Spin to win

I reformed my old Darkform Summoner and levelled a new one up. This time utilizing all the new stuff from 1.5.

He turned out completely uncompromising with no eles or minion damage at all and no +1 Helmet. But due to the changes in 1.5 i find him more fun and also more flexible to play.
Two changes especially in 1.5 play in his hands. First of all the inclusion of the 3 evoker skills Venomous spirit, venom armor and swarm. While i dont skill them they come on the focus i use (Slipnaught) and they really help the Summoner in fluid gameplay. With venomous spirit you have an effective ranged weapon to deal with flyers and swarm gives you additional aoe and when used with Broms an additional layer of defense.

The other thing is the new focus Korosukuma’s Claw Korosukuma's Claw - London 2038
which you get early on and makes the DF summoner a breeze to Level up.

So how does he play? You get your 9 dark minions up and then do a quick rotation between white hits and Dark Offering - the melee spin. Dark Offering does good damage in a wide area and gives a hefty 14% ele attack strength per active Minion. So we use that to procc all kinds of status effects. You weave in Broms and Swarm especially in tougher areas. And kill pesky orbiles or far away enemies with venomous spirit. On (Cata) bosses you debuff with Eledrain AND Broms and then rely on the multi effects you proc with your foci (mainly phase and fire) to get them down quickly (with few exceptions).

Strengths are his speed, sturdiness and melee splash, he has some issues with masses of (spectral) Flyers and some Bosses especially Morax and the Cata 6 Flyer. On the other hand he is very Church Yard viable. I get 300-600 dps against the Cata 1 Boss plus ignite and poison. Needing no +1 Dark Visage is also pretty nice. Playable with mediocre gear to an extent.

Skill tree:


We basically get most of the necromancy tab. Of course all Darkform skills get maxed (we dont use a +1 Helmet). Broms is perfect for this build as we use alot of ele effects and getting mass debuffs of elemental resists is helping alot against sturdy chars. Therefore we get max Eledrain to get the synergy with Broms and for further debuffing bosses.
Swarm, Venom Armor and Venomous spirit come with Slipnaught, the focus we use and they help in alot of aspects as hinted above. Swarm is a pretty long lasting and ticking aoe field spell and every mob under the effect of Broms standing in the field gives you constant health - so much you can tank DOD mummies for ages. Venom armor can be popped in when the going gets tough (eg your Witch doctor died and you cant recast him). And Venomous spirit is nice for all the flyers.
We spend one or two points in Witch Doctor and cast him with two Remnants of Gregas to max him and get extra HP through summoning circle (we also stuff in minion armor relics to boost him).
The remaining point can be spend in either blood link or venomous spirit.

On the perk side, i highly advise first put each 3 points (and in that order) into ele attack, ele defense (!) and then crit. Then max them out and spend the rest of the points in melee speed and something you like. When you hit 50 and want to do Catas you most likely experience you get status effects left and right up to the point where you get stunlocked so ele defense is needed.

Achievement slots: All stats and i explain why below.


This build is mainly a melee build and melee chars profit from strength to boost their damage by 1% per point in strength. DF summoner get 1% mele speed for every 5 Accu to and some movement speed. This has alot of implications for this build and leads to this char to be the most complicated to minmax.

And that is because every piece of gear you put on comes with an indirect cost to your damage as they all cost Willpower and/or Stamina (in terms of Armor and Weapons). And every point you put into Willpower or Stamina you cannot/could have put into Strength. Just an example a divine mod gives you let say 16% increased damage and costs you 16 Willpower to equip. So if you would leave out the mod and put the points into strength you would still get 16% damage. In the end you must keep an eye on the damage per statpoint spend! And this applies to every piece of gear, mod and aug.
The problem with strength is that all the armor and most foci of cabalists need massive amounts of willpower and stamina, so in the end it is hard to get to high Strength Stats.

The King of all armor affixes for the Darkform Summoner is “Heroic” as it gets you upto +17 to all stats and only cost ~ 20 stam. So you get 68 stats which could be translated into 68% damage or 51% damage and 17 accu (for movement and melee speed). There is no single affix which can rival this. Now Heroic gear is rare but keep an eye out for this or Lionheart (20+ strength) or other high stat gear. And some armor pieces have other desirable stats that you want, like skills, crit, ele attack etc. So no; you dont end up full Heroic gear (though you could i guess).
This leads us to indepth gear description…


The rule is, if you get a good Heroic one, you might be able to replace my main suggestion and be better of in terms of damage.

Helmet: Dark Visage

This gives you alot of damage. The critdamage stat should have a higher roll because thats the reason we chose this in the first place. Shield penetration is also needed to cause elemental status effects through shields. Lookout for ones with additional stats auged on it. Most people need a +1 Helmet and sell ones off that don’t have that.

Shoulders: perfect would be Pit Pauldrons with +AA (one can dream) as they come with massive ele defense which we need to not get shocked or stunned and they have added dmg and crit. But they also have a pretty big Accu stat which nets you more critdam (tiny bit) and mele speed.
I decided to go Heroic over a vanilla Pit Pauldrons. But if i find Pit Pauldrons with additional stats i would switch.
But there is also quite a difference what type of Heroic you can find. The feral one have added damage and crit. But there are also Invoker armors with 16% elemental effect which is huge for this char.

Torso: Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness - London 2038
This one can have up to 20% spectral damage and this is perfect. We want to apply phase anyways and with this we dont have to care for slotting spectral in our foci. 20% is alot and elemental damage multiplies most other damage forms you do. The big willpower stat is also good. Hard to be beaten by even a mythic heroic piece.

Belt: Balbis Ring Balbi's Ring - London 2038
Watch out for the lower level variant as it can come with 8% elemental attack, or maybe a skill you use and aug ele defense or stats on it. Heroic Feral/Invoker is also a good alternative. Good thing about Balbis is its low stat costs.

Legs: I go Heroic here at best a feral or invoker one.

Arms: Gehennas Gasps Gehenna Grasps - London 2038
They give 3 specialties and that is mele speed (up to 7% - you would need to spend 35 Accu to get 7% through stats), physical damage (very good to have on armor) and stun attack. Also hard to rival but possible with a good Heroic.

Boots: Nightstriders Night Striders - London 2038
Everything on them is good except they dont give you big damage through stats. But they have some crit, some dmg, usefull skills, much needed movement speed and the best thing they have - Phase attack which we want to have as a high roll.

Augments on armor: +AA, +Stats, Ele Defense. In that order of value, the rest is trash.

Trinket: Either a dreadnaught ring with good skills and high stat or a Darkmaster. The first one costs strength and gives you damage through the stat, a high ele defense stat and a skill you might use. Mine got 19 strength 4000 poison defense (shame it is not shock) and venom armor 2.
The Darkmaster costs Accu which you might have excess points available. if you can get a Dreadnaught’s masterwork one thats pretty nutty with +9 AA and 1000 ele defense.

Dye Kit: Either scorched for even more ele attack or heros for more melee speed. Or Black Knight -:slight_smile:

Foci: There are alot of foci that are good. Some have crit on them, some melee speed (Black Angel), some have special affixes that woud be usefull.
Now the one foci that i recommend as set is a slipnaught.
Not only is it the one with the highest power level of all (power level is shown in the weapon details and defines the base damage) it also gives 3 needed skills, can have 4 Slots AND comes with alot of Stamina. The powerconsumption restrictions on it dont matter alot for us.

For the second slot i have experimented alot and still do. First i have settled on a Mortal Domain.
Mortal Domain - London 2038 because of its inherent “all elemental strength” affix but it turned out that affix doesnt work for Dark Offering. It is still a good second Focus because of its userate, the ignite affix and the 4 slots.
Since we want to slot all sfx mods into this focus 4 slots are optimal. There might be mythic 3slot ones with a big phase or ignite affix which might work too though.
So Mutentacles and Carnal Prisms are the ones we primarily look out for. It should have a userate affix on it so that Dark Offering comes out more often (on mortal Domain you can have two userate affixes - the inherent 10% and another one aug upto 17%). The rest can be damage affixes of any kind.
Idealy you have ~27% userate because then Dark Offering comes out exactly after one white hit.
Another Slippie might be in play but due to the 3 skills it gets pretty big on will feed.
I settled on a Carnap Prism 4slot ilvl58 from Tracy. It has userate, evocation damage, Crit and Critdam and another damage mod - so pretty good and only cost me 25k in the AH. It actually increased my DPS over the formerly used Mortal Domain by 100 and now i peak at 600 DPS agains the Cata 1 boss. So i am pretty happy with this.


There are alot of myths about how elemental attack works on Dual Foci and i have to say it is unclear. Most people have settled it is best to not have elemental attack and the corresponding elemental damage mods of the same kind spread over the two foci. How that holds when your armor eg already does spectral damage and phase attack and thus applies this to both foci is unclear to me. Also Dark offering attacks with all elemental damage types.
But the best result i have gotten so far is giving the slipnaught the best damage mods and put all elemental attack into the second one.

So what mods are the best? Here the damage per stat point spent comes into place again.
And it is a huge minmaxing orgy. It is always good to have a rough overview of what damage you currently deal. So you count up your average critdamage and all increased damage, adds damage, caste damage and the damage through strength. On my summoner i had 20% Crit and 300 critdam=60% average critdamage. 250 strength and 40% increased damage. Thats 350% “additive” damage.

Now there will often be decisions wether an elemental damage mod or a strength mod is better. Elemental damage multiplies your additive damage. So a Mod with 9% spectral/fire etc. damage nets you in my case 31.5% damage (350x0.09). BUT it needs you to spend 17 points in Willpower. If you deduct that you are looking at 14.5% for comparison.
A strength mod gives you 17 strength and costs 7 stam so thats 10% for comparison. So the ele mod is better. But we operate in a number area where it can go this and that way depending on your stats and gear. A mythic Strength relic eg gets you 24 strength and costs 8 stam, so 16% for comparison. In fact in the end it wouldnt even matter if you are looking at Strength, Willpower or Stamina mod because in the end you can use a attribute restatter to newly distribute your points.
Also Crit affixes are very interesting since you have a bit of unused Accu stats so they come with no cost unless you have to put in points to wear them.
I got a 16 Willpower and 80% Critdam mod yesterday for cheap and this is burner for me as i only have to invest 7 stam for ~40% damage!

On the second Focus i use Elemods mainly, they cost strength so they are basically free. I need one ignite affix (additional on a phase mod) in them to get a pretty sure ignite with the spin on most bosses if they are fully debuffed. The rest all phase and whatever addional ele attacks you can get.
We want to have very high base elemental attack so that the spins 122% increased elemental attack nets us even more. Very interetsting are mythic mods with a small ele damage affix and dual ele attack affixes becasue they only cost you strength even though some ele damage is on them (up to 5%).

Augs on Foci: If you can get one or even two “increase userate of Evocation skills” then thats pretty big for fluent gamplay as said above. Apart from that everything that gets you damage. I like my “damage against spectral” aug as these are the most annoying.

Why no Minion damage? When starting this build i was adding Minion damage gear to boost the Dark Minions and when i hit 50 i had around 100% and was thinking about changing Balbis ring with Helion Hasp which gives me 75% more minion damage. I went to Catas and let the Minions fight the Cata 1 Boss and they did 20-30 damge. So i figured adding 75% more for 29 more statpoints to spend over the Balbis isnt getting me anywhere. In the end I ditched every Minion damage stat altogether as they all cost Willpower.

So this is it. Have fun and spin to win!


Excellent guide, as always. I specifically like the focus on DO and +evocation, which hasn’t caught my eye often.
I’ll be adding this to the guide index in a moment.

It is basically the gameplay of Korosukuma’s Claw translated into lategame with some additions. So props to who designed the item.


That would be me, but you certainly deserve due credit for approaching it the way you did. I simply wanted to make DF less dreadful for the levels it’s acquired.
Now, I suspect this build will see some changes here and there with the next batch of items and changes, but I’m suspecting you’ll welcome the challenge :wink:

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Yesterday we had a discussion about the “all elemental attack” affix on mortal domain. This “all” affix doesnt add plain sfx attack strength to every source on the focus but only to the skills source. EG if you use swarm it adds to swarms poison attack but if you have an additional fire damage mod slotted it doesnt add to ignite. BUT Dark Offering is an Evocation skill that attacks with all Elements so it should work nevertheless. But i have tested it and it doesnt work. It would mean that even with an empty focus you should see every element procc but it doesnt. Only when you have any elements attack affix somewhere (mod or armor or as an “ATTACK” affix on the focus) it proccs regardless if you have the source element or not. So either a bug or not meant to be.

The good thing about it is, you might aswell take a more damaging second focus and see no difference in proccing sfx. This is what i have done. Someone put a 4slot ilvl 58 (from Tracy) with Userate, Crit, Critdam, and Evocation damage in the AH for 25k (god, i have spend so much more on augs and foci) and it netted me another 100dps on the Cata 1 Boss (300-600 dps), which is super nice.

So i rewrite the section in the guide!