I noticed that people have found my blog by Googling “Swordmaster specs”, so I wrote this article.
I’ve tried a lot of different specs for Warhammer Online’s Swordmaster (SM). Below are my favorite ones.
Commonality Across Specs
There are several things that I typically try to have in any spec:
- Protection of Hoeth (PoH): mastery ability in Hoeth. With this ability, you can control the class Balance mechanic without a target. E.g. you can get to Improved Balance to be ready to snare an opponent; you can get to Perfect Balance with PoH and Wrath of Hoeth (WoH), so you are ready to AOE punt with Gusting Wind. Without PoH, the Balance mechanic feels too stiff
- Balanced Accuracy (BA): mastery tactic in Khaine. A lot of SMs aren’t as high on this tactic as I am. In my experience, the +10% / +20% for Improved / Perfect Balance is huge in terms of increasing burst potential. In PVP, burst damage kills, steady damage is easily healed through
- Ensorcelled Agony (EA): a great base tactic to enhance Ensorcelled Blow with a DoT (Damage over Time). The important things about this tactics are that the damage scales with stats, the ticks can crit, and it delivers Spirit damage, which synergizes with our Spirit debuff mechanics
- Potent Enchantments (PE): another great base DoT tactic. This tactic delivers Spirit damage, and the DoT can re-proc even while it is up. Every time PE procs, it delivers an immediate tick of damage
1H or 2H Hoeth / Khaine Build
I’ve played more time with this build than any other at R40.
This is a very balanced build, capable of silencing healers / casters with the mastery ability Whispering Wind and delivering some nice burst with the Hoeth base ability Dazzling Strike. The build has some built-in durability with the maxed-out PoH ability and Aethyric Armor (AA) self-buff and the Rugged tactic. The Spirit debuff from WoH is also maxed out, which is good for DPS.
The value of this build has gone down a bit with the nerfs to AOE in Patch 1.3b.
The nice thing about this build is it’s effective with 1h or 2h.
1H Tri-Spec Build (Hoeth / Khaine / Vaul)
This build became viable when the Vaul mastery tactic Perfect Defenses (PD) was fixed in Patch 1.2.
PD synergizes terrifically with a shield and with the PoH mastery ability. You can get into Perfect Balance to charge into enemy lines and enjoy the +10% increase to block and parry.
In other aspects, this build is similar to the one preceding it, but with noticably better survivability. In my experience, shield + PD > Rugged, if you are comparing Rugged vs PD for a 1h build.
This build is very good for PVE main tanking, thanks to the avoidance buff from PD and, for trash mobs, the increased AOE threat generated from BA crits for WoH and GW.
2H Khaine / Hoeth Build
This is the highest burst and sustained damage spec for SM. Sometime after Patch 1.2, the out-of-range melee errors seem to have been fixed, and as a result, channeled abilities such as Ether Dance (ED) became much more reliable.
The strength of this build lies in the synergy between Ether Dance and the 3 tactics BA, Great Weapon Mastery (GWM), and PE. BA improves the crit rate of each ED swing by 20%, PE can re-proc on each swing of the 5 hits of ED, and GWM increases all 2h damage by 10%. The build is also very AP efficient because of ED.
The downside of this build is the lack of a knockdown or silence. Also, this build is somewhat squishy unless you have solid gear. I sometimes swap out EA for Rugged for survivability.
1H Vaul / Hoeth Build
This is a high survivability build, with the Vaul mastery knockdown ability Crashing Wave. One nice feature of this build is that the Vaul base ability Dragon’s Talon (DT) hits hard. DT is an excellent ability because of the damage debuff.
Notice that I have classified this as a 1H build. That is because a shield synergizes amazingly with the Vaul mastery tactics PD and Vaul’s Buffer (VB). VB and PD work without a shield, but you will see less passive benefit from those tactics when using a 2h. With a shield equipped, the avoidance buff from PD causes VB to re-proc frequently. A lot of SMs play this build, or a variant of it, with a 2H, but to some degree you have to force-proc VB (e.g. with Wall of Darting Steel) to get the VB bubble up.
The main downside of this build is the lack of burst and sustained damage, when compared to specs that have Khaine’s BA and / or GWM.