The Art of Smash
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The Art of SMASH! - Basic Training for Brutes
Written and Compiled By Lazarus (10/27/2005) Reprinted by Lazarus (04/18/2009)
What Are Brutes?
Brutes are the strongest, meanest, most destructive people around. They live to SMASH everything into rubble and have a blast of a time doing it. Brutes live for battle and it sustains them, their blows growing stronger with every punch they throw and every hit they take.
What Are Brutes Not?
Brutes are not Tankers. True that most of their powersets were originally Tanker sets, with the exception of the Scrapper sets Dark Melee and Dark Armor, and the brand new Energy Aura set that is shared partially with the Stalker Archetype. Despite the similarity in powers the Brute has a resistance and defense cap that matches that of the Scrapper but their health is higher than that of a Scrapper though lower than that of a Tanker. The Brute also has lower base damage than a Scrapper, nor do they have criticals, but they do have a much higher damage cap of 850%, the highest of any Archetype.
What Is Fury?
Fury is what drives a Brute in their desire to SMASH! Fury is an inherent power that boosts your damage based upon how much Fury you have built up. You will see an extra bar between your Endurance bar and XP bar, that is the Fury bar. For each attack that you perform or is aimed at you, you will build Fury. It doesn't matter if the attack hits or misses, so high defense or low accuracy will not affect your Fury generation.
Area of Effect and Cone attacks only generate as much Fury as a single target attack. Damage Auras like Death Shroud and Blazing Aura do not generate Fury directly, but they do it indirectly by drawing aggro from those foes it hits who will then attack you in response. Incoming attacks from Lieutenants generate more Fury than from Minions, Bosses generate more than that Lieutenants, and so on up the ranks.
So what do you do with this Fury stuff, you ask? Well that bar is representing a Damage Boost Multiplier. As the bar approaches 100%, the multiplier approaches 3 * Base Damage. That's right, Fury can grant you a 200% boost to your base damage output, counting towards the 850% damage cap that Brutes have.
So while you're not a Tanker, you want to be attacked and want to attack fast. You want that aggro but you want to be able to survive it and dish out the punishment fast. That brings us to the next section.
A Brute is not defined simply by his primary or secondary set like most Archetypes are, but is defined by the combination of his primary and secondary. You primary offers many attacks, a taunt, and sometimes soft-control* or recovery powers. You secondary offers defenses and/or resistances, usually a self heal and a aggro aura, a few have a aggro aura that deals damage, and some even have endurance recovery and soft-control* powers.
- (By Soft-Control I mean powers that are not Holds, Sleeps, or Immobilizes. This means Fear and Disorients, which are 'soft' in that the target can still have a chance to fight back or escape.)
All powersets have their strengths and weaknesses, but all are very solid sets and can provide some great combinations of powers. For example, Dark Melee/Fiery Aura has less resistance, less defense, and less basic damage than Super Strength/Invulnerability. However, Dark Melee/Fiery Aura has more utility and greater potential for damage and long-battle survivability from having access to two self heal powers, two endurance recovery powers, and two damage boosting powers. This utility though comes with the cost of needing to know how, when, and where to use these extra powers to best effect. There is no one way to build a Brute.
Here is a listing of the Brute primaries and some highlights of what each offers.
Dark Melee: Smashing and Negative Energy damage. All attacks debuff accuracy of the target. Sacrifices a few attacks for useful utility powers like Touch of Fear (ST Foe Fear), Siphon Life (ST Foe Damage, Self Heal), Dark Consumption (PBAoE Foe Damage, Self Endurance Recovery). Finally attack is also an immobilize. Soul Drain has potential to be much better buff than Build Up but requires risk to use. Shadow Maul is one of the best cone attacks in the game and always a crowd pleaser.
Fiery Melee: Fire and Lethal damage, nearly all attacks also deal extra damage over time. Basic, easy to learn set with a large number of attacks. Relatively low endurance costs throughout set.
Energy Melee: Smashing and Energy damage, nearly all attacks have a chance to disorient foes. Early attacks are quick to recharge and endurance efficient. Later attacks can deal devastating damage.
Stone Melee: Smashing damage and lots of it. Attacks are slow to recharge and endurance heavy, but deal very heavy blows. Stone Fists can disorient, Fault is an AoE with a good chance to knockdown and disorient. Many attacks can knock back foes and the final attack can hold the target.
Super Strength: The definitive SMASH set, all Smashing damage. Early attacks recharge quickly and are cheap on endurance, later attacks deal much damage and make good finishing moves for unleashing your built up fury. Most attacks deal knock back. Rage is a great build up but has a penalty when it wears off.
Here is a listing of the Brute secondaries and some highlights of what each offers.
Dark Armor: The only set with Psionic resistance. Can be endurance heavy as it has a lot of toggles. Death Shroud is a good damage aura and grabs aggro quickly. Highest Negative Energy resistance. Has a stealth power, a fear aura that debuffs foe accuracy, and a disorient aura. Dark Regeneration allows you to recover health for every foe in range. Soul Transfer allows you to resurrect yourself long as a foe is nearby to leech from. Lack of Immobilize and Knockback protection is a downside.
Fiery Aura: The highest Fire resistance possible. Blazing is a good damage aura and grabs aggro quickly. Very few toggles, more endurance efficient. Healing Flames heals and grants temporary Toxic damage resistance. Consume recovers endurance for each foe in range that it damages. Fiery Embrace boosts Fire damage greatly and slightly boosts all other damage output. Rise of the Phoenix is a self resurrect that deals PBAoE fire damage. Hold/Stun/Sleep protection comes very late. Lack of Immobilize and Knockback protection is a downside.
Energy Aura: All defense and status shields available within the first ten levels. Passive resistances available. Features a Stealth power. Energy Drain recovers endurance for each foe in range that it drains endurance from. Conserve Power greatly reduces endurance cost of all powers for a minute and a half. Overload is like a cross between Super Reflexes' Elude and Invulnerability's Dull Pain, with an endurance crash when it wears off. The main weaknesses I can see with this set are the total lack of defense again Toxic damage and Psionics.
Invulnerability: Primarily resistance based set, with high resistance to Smashing and Lethal damage and decent resistance to all other damage types except Psionic. Dull Pain heals and increases your total health for a couple minutes. Many passive resistances and two toggles, there is also a minor defense passive. Invincibility boosts your defense and accuracy for each foe in range and acts as a taunt aura. Unstoppable makes you very tough to kill for two minutes. No Psionic defense.
Stone Armor: The most Tanker like set. Large mix of resistance and defense shields. Mud Pots immobilizes and slows foes in its range and draws their aggro onto you. Earth's Embrace heals and increases your total health for a couple minutes as well as grant Toxic damage resistance. Rooted increases health regeneration rate but slows movement and makes jumping and flying impossible. Granite Armor grants high resistance and defense to all but Psionics at the cost of reducing damage, speed, and making jumping and flying impossible.
Now back to Fury, as it is quite important. Fury is most easily built by using fast, endurance efficient, and quickly recharging attacks. Remember all those required but weak attacks you wish your tank could skip? Well here they are useful again.
Once you have built your Fury up you can make great use of it through your slower, endurance heavy, but much more damaging attacks. Consider these your 'Finishing Moves'. Good 'Finishing Moves' include Knockout Blow, Shadow Maul, Heavy Mallet, and Bone Smasher. You get these attacks quite early and will use them for the rest of the game.
This means that slotting the normal one Accuracy, five Damage enhancements is not the most optimal strategy. Fury building attacks can benefit greatly from Recharge Reducers, while 'Finishing Moves' should get Endurance Cost Reducers. Powers that can disorient or reduce accuracy may benefit from such enhancements that boost those properties and open up new strategies. All attacks can be slotted with Taunt Duration as well, meaning they will help you hold aggro longer. Remember that Brutes do not have Punch-Voke like a Tanker, while all attacks have a taunt element it is only on the target of the attack. Anyone not hit by the attack will not be taunted.
Now keep in mind that when you're not fighting you Fury meter will slowly decay. Running quickly to the next fight is fine if you can survive it still and have the endurance, but remember that when on a team to be considerate of your teammates. They can help you SMASH more than you could on your own so use that advantage but don't abuse it or you won't be getting any more support.
Playing Well With Others
Some people may think that some teammates might hinder Fury. Mastermind henchmen tend to grab aggro, Dominator holds can take foes out of the fight. That just means you have to adapt as do your teammates.
If the foes are beating up the henchmen instead of you, you don't need fury so much as you can take more time to defeat them, plus the henchmen are damaging them as well.
Dominators can use their holds to keep troublesome Lieutenants and Bosses off of your back while you build up your Fury on the minions, or use a AoE Immobilize to keep foes around you so you don't have to chase those who run off. Remember that you still generate Fury by attacking, so a held foe doesn't mean no more Fury.
Corruptors are a great asset as they can add ranged damage and often use their secondary powers to buff your defenses and heal damage that you receive.
Stalkers can act as advance scouts, take out troublesome foes (like mezzers) right at the start of the fight, and deal a large blow to bosses so you don't have to spend so much time fighting them.
Got another Brute on your team? Then you have double the SMASH. Don't worry about competing for Fury, you'll generate more than enough as you SMASH everything in your path. Know your strengths and differences, if you have a primary of quick but moderate attacks and the other guy has a set with slower but more devastating attacks, then maybe you should focus on the minions while he takes on the bosses.
The Brute is a fun and very powerful Archetype who is great solo and a good addition to a team. The Archetype is not very complicated but not easy mode either, so keep these lessons in mind as you build and play your Brute.
Now go forth and SMASH!
This guide was written back in Issue 6. I'll get around to adding in all the sets that were given to Brutes since then. Still most of the information in this guide applies regardless.