[3.10] Staves and Earthquake are Underrated



Demonstration Videos
Staffquaker vs. Sirus
Staffquaker vs. Üelder
Staffquaker vs Eradicator, Syndicate etc. Map Clusterfuck
Staffquaker vs. Aul

Introduction
My first ever character Gagis was an Earthquake slayer in Essence League. I have maintained the character in Standard, updating it with stuff I transfer from leagues and it has over time turned into what is still one of my favourite builds of all time. I played a budget version in Legion to see that it can work with budget gear just a well.

The core concept is to use a Staff for Block and The Perfect Form for Spell Dodge to provide good damage mitigation, and use Earthquake to reach substantial single-target DPS with decent area coverage. I've also added a heavy investment in Fortify Effectiveness to ensure the character will not die.

Viability
This build can clear all maps and kill all bosses. As typical for my builds, it focuses more on survival and boss killing than on clear speed, but the flow of alternating Leap Slam and Earthquake clears maps with a decent speed. It plays very similar to tanky ES Juggernauts and Block Guardians, but is in my opinion both more fun and more powerful.

The completed build is extremely hard to kill and thus might be viable for Hardcore, if you can build up the defenses in a reasonable way while leveling, but is too reliant on gear to be a safe league starter in HC.

Skill tree
Current character in Standard

Path of Building Community Fork data

There is such an abundance of good damage clusters in the Duelist and Marauder sectors of the skill tree, not to mention having access to Cluster Jewels, that the main challenge is in figuring out how many of them you can get away with taking while maintaining a sufficient amount of life.

The budget version can get away with taking base critical strike chance from Slayer Ascendancy and using a Disintegrator. Determination can and probably should be replaced with Precicion, Dread Banner, Blood and Sand and Flesh and Stone if not using the kind of Watcher's Eye I am using.

Gear


The Perfect Form makes up one major part of our damage mitigation and is used on both versions of the build. Getting access to Phase Acrobatics without having to give up on physical damage mitigation is huge, and the other perks of the item also work for the build.

Boots are the second item slot you can get spell dodge from. Atziri's Step is the approppriate budget option.

Here comes the main difference between the expensive version and the budget version. The staff I crafted in Syndicate is now legacy, as you can no longer craft two different mods that both increase item quality on the same item nor can you have hybrid mods with both a support and increased damage. It is still possible to craft some truly spectacular rares though. On a budget, you can use Disintegrator and set up critical strike chance with the Overwhelm ascendancy node.

Fortify Effectiveness is an amazingly powerful mod in a helmet, and the main reason to choose a rare one. Abyssus would be relatively safe, as the character will accumulate a high amount of physical damage reduction. Starkonja's Head is a good cheap and safe alternative. The Earthquake Duration enchantment is very valuable for all versions and should be given high priority.

Tombfist has been recently nerfed but is still very good if you can afford two gem sockets. Good alternatives include Oskarm, Haemophilia and any good rare item.

My accessories for the expensive version are absolutely lewd. If you are on a budget, rings and amulets tend to be cheap early in leagues and sharply rise in value as time goes on, so shop early.

The choices I made for flasks are rather self-explanatory. A mana flask may be necessary depending on how you setup your character.

The Red Nightmare boosts our Chance to Block Attack Hits by a substantial amount and should be prioritized even on a budget.

I have a number of Abyss jewels in Standard with a chance to blind on hit to add one more layer of damage mitigation to the character. Those tend to be expensive and Flesh and Stone is extremely cost efficient, so I would not bother with Abyss jewels at all for a budget version.

I have a Watcher's Eye with two Impale mods and Block Chance with Determination, so that defines the optimal choices for my auras as well. A budget version can do just fine without any Watchers Eye.

I am also using a Lethal Pride that grants another 30% Increased Effect of Fortify. That stacks extremely favourably with effectiveness from normal skill nodes, the helmet and any other source of damage reduction, but can be very expensive. Keep an eye open for cheap offers even if you play on a budget, but don't count on getting one.

The biggest boon from using Cluster Jewels is point-effective access to mana leech and Overlord, the amazing node that grants fortify on hit with Staves. That node gives Fortify even from triggered skills, unlike the support gem, and is thus extremely convenient if you are prone to getting killed after alt-tabbing during loading screens. If you choose not to use it, you should have Fortify linked with Earthquake or Leap Slam.

Skills
Earthquake - Less Duration - Melee Physical - Brutality - Impale - Maim
I have always liked Earthquake for how satisfying it feels to use. It was strong when the character was originally made, got nerfed in between and got substantial buffs in Legion. Less Duration combined with the helmet enchantment makes it possible to have an aftershock for every attack as long as your attack rate remains below three attacks per second, which rules out Multistrike. Five links without Maim will go a long way for a budget build.

Leap Slam - Frenzy - Riposte - Blood Magic - Power Charge on Critical - Faster Attacks
This gives movement and two different kinds of charge generation. I like to take full advantage of a secondary six-link but a budget version can get away with four or five links.

Enlighten - Pride - Determination - Artic Armour
OR
Flesh and Stone - Dread Banner - Precicion - Arctic Armour and Blood and Sand
Arctic Armour is free with The Perfect Form and my Watcher's Eye dictates which Auras I need. The budget version gets to play with the full arsenal of melee auras.

CWDT - Increased Duration - Blood Rage - Molten Shell
Molten Shell is amazing for builds like this that get a metric fuckton of armour with minimal effort. I think I have around 25k armour without flasks and 40k with flasks, which gives a Molten Shell about 5k to 10k hit points. The degen from Blood Rage is one of the reasons I do not bother with Vaal Pact, but I think the change generation and attack speed are worth it.

Vengeance - Pulverize
Ancestral Warchief is a good alternative for the last remaining sockets, if you can bother with having an extra active skill to deal with. I am just a big fan of automation.

Bandits and Pantheon
Two extra skill points are almost always better than bandit rewards nowadays, and this applies to this build as well. The Pantheon rewards are down to personal taste. I went for Lunaris and Shakari myself, but there are plenty of nice things you might want from others.

Simple Leveling Guide
Early on this build levels like any other melee character; by using Frost Blades with the highest DPS weapon you can get your hands on. Just remember to focus on your life early as getting damage mitigation online will take some time and currency.
Last edited by thegagis on Apr 24, 2020, 8:20:00 PM
Last bumped on May 20, 2020, 11:41:16 AM
Any possible videos?
"
TheHunter858 wrote:
Any possible videos?

I'll have to fix my currently borked OBS setup, but I can take some if or when I do. Anything you'd consider particularly relevant? Sirus? Delve? Üelder?
"
thegagis wrote:
"
TheHunter858 wrote:
Any possible videos?

I'll have to fix my currently borked OBS setup, but I can take some if or when I do. Anything you'd consider particularly relevant? Sirus? Delve? Üelder?


for the sake of the guide id recommend sirus and delirium. im looking for a new build and as a newish player id appreciate any visual representation to showcase the build.
Last edited by TheHunter858 on Apr 16, 2020, 9:00:42 AM
"
thegagis wrote:
"
TheHunter858 wrote:
Any possible videos?

I'll have to fix my currently borked OBS setup, but I can take some if or when I do. Anything you'd consider particularly relevant? Sirus? Delve? Üelder?


Propably the 100% delirium maps! :D
Cool stuff! It's a little weird to see a physical attack build like this without Lion's Roar, and a crit build without a diamond flask--is the damage good enough that those flasks aren't necessary?

Also, have you experimented with Shockwave at all? I love melee staff builds particularly because I can use Shockwave, although I've never tried it with Earthquake. It always feels to me like mapping is much smoother with that extra, instant pop!
"
rut wrote:
Cool stuff! It's a little weird to see a physical attack build like this without Lion's Roar, and a crit build without a diamond flask--is the damage good enough that those flasks aren't necessary?

Also, have you experimented with Shockwave at all? I love melee staff builds particularly because I can use Shockwave, although I've never tried it with Earthquake. It always feels to me like mapping is much smoother with that extra, instant pop!

I've had both of those flasks on previous iterations of this, but I ended up wanting a defensive emphasis on the flask setup. The Diamond Flask in particular would be a very significant damage boost, but I chose a Silver flask instead for extra speed to move with. Lion's Roar could be used in place of Rumi's just as well, but going from 53 to 73 block is veeeeeeeery nice.

I briefly checked out Shockwave when it was first released. It felt redundant compared to the EQ Aftershock, but I did not test it any more than that.
Last edited by thegagis on Apr 16, 2020, 3:36:39 PM
"
thegagis wrote:
"
rut wrote:
Cool stuff! It's a little weird to see a physical attack build like this without Lion's Roar, and a crit build without a diamond flask--is the damage good enough that those flasks aren't necessary?

Also, have you experimented with Shockwave at all? I love melee staff builds particularly because I can use Shockwave, although I've never tried it with Earthquake. It always feels to me like mapping is much smoother with that extra, instant pop!

I've had both of those flasks on previous iterations of this, but I ended up wanting a defensive emphasis on the flask setup. The Diamond Flask in particular would be a very significant damage boost, but I chose a Silver flask instead for extra speed to move with. Lion's Roar could be used in place of Rumi's just as well, but going from 53 to 73 block is veeeeeeeery nice.

I briefly checked out Shockwave when it was first released. It felt redundant compared to the EQ Aftershock, but I did not test it any more than that.


Also also Gagis really likes defensive builds. He is a source of never ending scorn for my more speedy, high dps builds. ;) :P

I think it largly is personal preference to load up on more dps/offensive flasks. :) I think you can defo go with offensive flasks if you would rather do that! I think. I mean, I would. Propably. :P
"
It felt redundant compared to the EQ Aftershock, but I did not test it any more than that.


Makes sense--I like to use Shockwave with Cyclone for the upfront damage while mapping, but for EQ it's essentially a pre-aftershock.

I do think it's underestimated from the standpoint that it greatly increases your reach--if you tap an enemy at the end of your effective attack range, it sets off the shockwave centered on the enemy, allowing it to pre-hit a large group you otherwise wouldn't have touched.

Probably wouldn't make much of a difference on EQ though, as you said!
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