Strategies: Hero Builds

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Heroes are a major asset of Dungeon Defenders 2. They can provide assistance to any lanes that need attention (some can even defend a lane without requiring any defenses to support your hero), and can dish out extra damage in general.

Shards and Mods allow you to customize your hero, and open doors for many possibilities. Here are some of the builds commonly used by players:

Nuke Monk

The nuke monk is capable of colossal damage to Bosses while also being able to dish out considerably high DPS to weaker enemies. The ability to quickly defeat big threats, provide excellent dps, and respond to problems quickly with the monk's double-jump is why this is the most common build in the game, and why most expert players use the Monk as their main hero.

Gear:

  • Heavy Polearms give the strongest damage multiplier on the final hit. Medium polearms will work too if you don't have a decent heavy polearm or need to execute the final hit faster, but the damage multiplier won't be as high. Light polearms aren't viable for this build.
  • Try to get a polearm with Hero Health as your secondary stat instead of Ability Power. You will also want one with high-fire rate and either triple or penta-shot.
  • You will want a full set of Ranger armor to boost your Hero Damage.

How it Works:

The base building block of this build is Crane Stance, which causes ranged attacks to charge your next melee attack. Each ranged attack that hits an enemy increases your next melee attack's damage by 90% (regular) or 106% (gilded). This stacks up to 6 times, allowing you to deal 540% or 636% with a single melee attack!

But it gets better - Heroic Wave heals and boosts damage to nearby allies including yourself. The healing boost isn't important, as you can simply stand still if you need to heal. However, the damage boost can allow you do deal over double damage. Combined with crane stance, you can deal over 10x damage with a single melee blow!

And it doesn't stop here, either... You will want to intentionally miss the first 3 melee attacks on your heavy polearm (or 2 if you're using medium), then strike with the last hit. When using a heavy polearm, the last hit provides a 2.5x damage multiplier to your Hero Damage; while under the effects of crane stance & heroic wave, you can easily deal over 25x damage!

With a properly set-up Nuke Monk at Chaos 7, you can easily deal 50 million damage in a single hit. At endgame with chaos 8 gear and Ancient Power, you can reach the billions!

Pros:

  • Can provide high DPS in general.
  • Can charge a single melee hit to deal immense damage - enough to almost always one-shot any boss.
  • Very quick and agile thanks to the Monk's ability to double-jump.

Cons:

  • This build is focused solely on Hero Damage and not Ability Power. This means you cannot use Heroic wave to quickly heal yourself or allies (ability power does not affect the damage boost provided by Heroic Wave).

Weapon Mods:

  • Frostfire Remnants and Grave Infection both leave AOE rings that damage monsters inside it for a short time. However, if you use both mods at the same time, they can activate each other, potentially causing an infinite crowd-control loop!
  • The nuke monk is famous for its ability to one-shot bosses. An anti-miniboss chip will further improve this ability.

Armor Mods:

  • Either a heavy weapon chip or a penta chip. The heavy chip will give you slightly more Hero Damage, but both will work just fine.
  • A damage-cooldown chip will net you a damage multiplier for each ability on cooldown. This is the perfect mod to use when you're looking to deal extra damage with Heroic Wave!
  • A damage-buff chip will add extra damage while under the effect of Heroic Wave. You can also use a raw Hero Damage chip, but it does not provide as much hero damage as the damage-buff chip does.

Shards:

  • Crane Stance is the foundation of this build, as it will allow you to charge up a single melee hit with your ranged attacks.
  • Power Gambit adds raw damage to your monk, but at the cost of you taking a little extra damage.
  • Inspiration is a useful shard for your helmet, as it allows Heroic Wave to recharge before its damage boost expires. This allows you to keep a permanent damage boost, provided you keep using Heroic Wave.
  • Beacon of the Storm gives you a surge of mana when you attack an enemy, which can help offset the high cost of Heroic Wave. Channel also helps to restore mana, but it doesn't restore mana as quickly as Power of Storms does.
  • Superconductor reduces the cost of all abilities, which also helps to reduce the cost of Heroic Wave. Superconductor is a Chaos 8 shard, so if you don't have it, Mana Capacitor will allow you to cast Heroic Wave more often before running out of mana.
  • Power of Storms isn't required, but it increases your DPS. It's also handy when combined with Drenching Strikes, as you will Electrocute enemies instead of just drenching them.
  • Burning Strikes also adds some DPS, and can be especially useful if you need to defend multiple lanes at a time. The main reason why you would want this shard, however, is to deal with the Drakenlord easily.

Volley Apprentice

The volley apprentice utilizes Arcane Volley to rain homing shots down on enemies. Because of this, you will need an effective way to provide decent Ability Power, regenerate mana at a steady rate, and be able to continuously mark enemies. Luckily, this build covers all three of these obstacles.

Gear:

For starters, you will want a full set of Warlock Armor to boost your Ability Power as much as possible. The staff, however, comes more down to preference:

You will want to use whichever staff you feel marks a group of enemies the easiest. Scatter Shot may seem like a good idea since it sends a burst of 10 projectiles in a field in front of you, but these projectiles don't travel very far. Rapid-fire has excellent fire rate, but only fires a single projectile at a time. If you aren't sure what to use, Penta III will fire 5 projectiles per shot with 4 shots per second. You can then either adapt to a different shot type or keep the penta-shot.

Ability Power on your staff is ideal for your secondary stat, but you may want Hero Health instead. Otherwise, your apprentice will have around 5,000 health, which is enough for most enemies to one-shot you in almost all Chaos tiers.

The Magicat pet gives you an ability that instantly restores a chunk of ability mana to your hero. This is extremely useful when spamming Arcane Volley, as it will prevent you from running out of mana as quickly.

How to Use:

This build will feature 2 methods of marking enemies: The first from your basic weapon attacks while the second can come from your apprentice's towers if they have the Mark Targets shard equipped. You will want to spam whichever key is bound to your first ability (default is the "1" key) in order to keep flinging volleys out. The more targets are marked, the more projectiles you'll fire per volley, and the more effecient your ability will become in terms of damage dealt per each mana unit expended (essentially, Arcane Volley will cost 20 mana at default no matter how many targets you have marked).


Pros:

  • Can dish out high damage to multiple enemies at once.
  • Doesn't have to enter close-combat range at any point.
  • Can throw volleys at marked targets anywhere, even on the other side of the map.

Cons:

  • The power of this build is mostly limited by the maximum amount of targets you can have marked at a time (Empowered Mark increases this cap).
  • Focusing on ability power can result in a lack of Hero Damage, making your primary and secondary attacks fairly weak.
  • Focusing on ability power can also result in an extremely low amount of health. This usually doesn't matter since you can attack from afar, but you're extremely vulnerable to Dark Assassins.
  • This build needs a constant supply of mana in order to keep firing volleys.

Weapon Mods:

  • Explosive Volley is a unique mod that allows your volleys to deal AOE damage. However, this mod can only appear on Onslaught floor 80 or higher.
  • An Ability Cooldown chip will give a damage multiplier to your volleys for each ability on cooldown. If you're using Magicat's ability to restore mana, this can be extremely useful. Mana Bomb also increases the multiplier right after use, which is useful if it doesn't do the trick.
  • Use whatever anti-enemy mods or enemy-splosion mods suit your needs most. You can also use an elemental mod if you want to apply a status effect to enemies you attack.

Armor Mods:

  • You can never go wrong with raw Ability Power chips!
  • Healthy AP chips will give an even better boost, but only when your health is above 90%. There shouldn't be many times where this boost won't be applied, since you'll usually be attacking from afar and won't be targeted by enemies.

Shards:

  • Since this build maximizes the Arcane Volley ability, the Power Volley shard is highly recommended, as it will provide a raw DPS increase to that ability.
  • Empowered Marks is a must if you wish to utilize this build to its maximum. This shard will increase the maximum amount of targets you can have marked.
  • Mark Targets can allow your defenses to mark enemies rather than you having to mark them manually. This is most useful on the Flamethrower Tower and Earthshatter Tower because Frostbite Towers don't deal damage and Arcane Barriers only explode after withstanding enough punishment. This shard also cannot be applied to defenses that don't belong to the Apprentice. It should be worth noting that if you use Mark Targets in multiple lanes, your towers may have trouble marking enemies if you aren't using Empowered Mark.
  • Burning Strikes will allow you to deal with the Drakenlord.
  • Haunting and Ravenhost can allow your primary and secondary attacks to deal significant damage, since both of these shards uses your Ability Power.
  • Power of Storms uses Hero Damage, so it won't hurt much. However, when combined with Drenching Strikes, it can Electrocute enemies.
  • Both Beacon of the Storm and Channel will restore your mana. However, spamming Arcane Volley will result in a rapid mana drain, so it is highly recommended to combine both of these shards to counter that. Beacon of the Storm restores more mana, but it only activates when you're attacking a target.
  • Superconductor will significantly reduce the amount of mana that Arcane Volley will consume. However, this is a Chaos 8 shard, so it may be difficult to obtain. Mana Capacitor is a decent alternative if you do not have Superconductor, as it will increase your maximum mana capacity instead.

Hack n' Slash Barbarian

This build is intended to maximize the Barbarian's damage output/DPS, and let him go to town on enemies - and that's about it! Simple, yet effective. Side effects may include mass electrocution of enemies that are attacked, and invincibility to the Barbarian himself.

Gear:

  • You will want a lightweight weapon in your primary slot, and a heavyweight weapon in your secondary in order to maximize damage & range while keeping your attack rate at top speed. The abilities that this build focuses on doesn't utilize Ability Power, so try to get Hero Health on both weapons instead.
  • Since this build focuses on raw damage output, use a full set of Ranger Armor to boost your Hero Damage as high as possible. Despite being a melee hero, you probably won't need Hero Health on any armor if both of your weapons have it as their secondary stats.

How to Use:

This build centers on Lightning Stance to provide extra damage and Siphon Stance to offset the damage you take from using Lightning Stance. Once you have both abilities active, just hold down your primary attack button and keep on swinging.

It is recommended to activate Lightning Stance first, then Siphon Stance. Your primary ability will be applied before your secondary one. This will cause you to take damage from Lightning Stance, and then be healed immediately after by Siphon Stance. If you activate the abilities the other way, you will have a small portion of health that you cannot restore with Siphon. On the other hand, activating Siphon first can prevent you from accidentally suiciding from Lightning Stance should your health be low enough.

Pros:

  • Very high DPS output - can kill most enemies in seconds and leave a dent in bosses very quickly.
  • If combined with some form of Drench, Lightning Stance will allow you to Electrocute enemies with each hit. This is very useful should you encounter an enemy that you cannot erase very quickly - with the right setup, it can stun an enemy multiple times in a row.
  • When using Draining Strikes, Siphon Stance is capable of reversing most damage that you take, essentially making you short of being invincible!
  • Can be modified to give the Barbarian a ridiculous speed boost.
  • If a Dark Assassin tries to attack you, you can switch to Turtle Stance to provide immunity against them. They will still teleport to you and attack, but they won't latch onto you and bind you.

Cons:

  • Because this build does not use Ability Power, there is no effective way for the Barbarian to attack flying enemies (Power of Storms doesn't deal enough damage by itself to take out flyers).
  • Even with the ridiculous healing that Siphon Stance is capable of providing, you can still be killed if you take enough damage at a time. This is most likely to happen when multiple Kobolds run into you all at once.

Weapon Mods:

  • Any anti- mods will increase raw DPS. Anti-melee, and anti-ranged includes a wider variety of enemies than most other anti- mods do, so those are highly recommended.
  • Frostfire Remnants + Grave Infection is a mod combo that provides excellent crowd-controlling capabilities.
  • Drakenlord's Soul gives you a frost aura that Slows and Freezes enemies, just like the Drakenlord himself. If flying enemies also come close enough to the ground, this mod can pull them to the ground, bringing flyers in melee range of the Barbarian.
  • Favorable Winds is a great utility mod that also provides decent damage. It works well as a "rage" mechanic for the Barbarian, this mod grants bonus speed and damage for each kill (max 10). This damage bonus doesn't reset until you stop moving, making it easy to keep.
  • Turn the Tides doesn't work better on any other hero in the game than the Barbarian. Because Turn the Tides deals AOE damage based on how much you heal every 5 seconds, the massive over-healing from Siphon Stance will cause this mod to deal massive damage... AND it's constant whenever you're attacking!

Armor Mods:

  • Raw Defense Power mods work just fine. Additionally, Buff Power mods will apply extra damage whenever you're using one of the Barbarian's stances or are under the effect of Favorable Winds, while Healthy Power mods are great since Siphon Stance's over-healing will keep your health topped off.

Shards:

  • Draining Strikes is a must, as that shard is what allows Siphon Stance to keep your health topped off. Siphon Stance also won't be able to keep up with the amount of damage Lightning Stance deals to you, should you not have this shard.
  • Wreckless deals up to 21% (normal) or 25% (gilded) extra damage based on how much Wrath you have. Wrath is very easy to gain, and will easily offset the wrath drain that Lightning Stance consumes - provided you're attacking enemies, that is.
  • Ride the Lightning increases the extra damage that Lightning Stance gives you by 21% (normal) or 25% (gilded). Who doesn't like extra DPS?
  • Power of Storms summons a bolt when you attack (cooldown of 1 second) that deals 50% (normal) or 60% (gilded) of your Hero Damage and chains to 3 enemies. It's not as much of a DPS increase as Ride the Lightning is, but it's capable of damaging flying enemies.
  • Drenching Strikes will give you the upper hand against any threats. When under Lightning Stance or using Power of Storms, this shard will Electrocute enemies rather than just Drenching them.
  • Burning Strikes is nice for the Drakenlord and Drakenfrost Keep.
  • Zephyr's Warpath gives a 105% (normal) or 125% (gilded) speed multiplier whenever you use Whirlwind. Whirlwind is useless against enemies since this build doesn't utilize Ability Power, but it makes the ability great for utility, especially when combined with Tornado Stance.
  • Power Gambit is great for any hero that utilizes Hero Damage. The extra weakness to enemy attacks can be ignored for the most part as long as you're using Draining Strikes.
  • Life Leech won't restore nearly as much health as Draining Strikes, but it can help you keep your health topped maxed more often, as well as adding a little extra oomph to Turn the Tides. This can also prevent Lightning Stance from damaging you should you not have Draining Strikes (though Siphon won't be able to heal you effectively).
  • Sundering Blow is a Chaos 8 shard that reduces the defense of enemies you attack. It provides a HUGE boost to DPS!