This is a primarily offensive build focusing on the Marksman skill tree of the Vanquisher class. This build allows a character to kill most any monster before it gets in melee range. For large groups of monsters, a few summon spells are used to tangle up monsters from getting to your Vanquisher. Stun capabilities are added with the Frost spell and Frost Pilum skill to supplement the summons. Only bosses and champions can challenge this build, but summons, stun abilities, and player movement will keep you alive. This build requires some manual dexterity to survive. You need to be quick with your spells to keep monsters away while you deal damage. However, you will kill monsters much faster than other, more defensive builds.
Level 1-35: 4 Dexterity, 1 Defense on level-up.
Lv 36+: 3 Dexterity, 2 Defense OR 4 Dexterity, 1 Defense as needed.
The idea here is to keep your ranged damage so high that most monsters never even get close to you. Only champions and bosses will ever get close to deal damage. Of course, monsters will be doing more damage as time goes on, so I leave open the option to put more points in Defense as needed.
Identify and Town Portal are not required, but really nice convenience spells. Your inventory in Torchlight is surprisingly small. Carrying Identify and Town Portal scrolls really fills up your inventory. Not only that, you have to identify items before giving them to your pet to sell if you want to get the most gold out of them.
Summon Zombies at max rank and level have really high health. They end up being really good tanks. They can steal a little health from enemies, but they really don’t do much damage overall. They are nice to cast in front to “hold the line” while you do damage from the back. Archers don’t do all that good damage and they don’t have good health, but you get an incredible 8 archers in one spellcast. It’s an excellent pet skill because it doesn’t require good AI (pet AI is bad) to use effectively.
Dervish increases both attack speed and casting speed by quite a bit. Haste is also an option to combine with Dervish, but it’s considered a defensive spell by the game. There just aren’t enough skill points for a third mastery. Dervish has such a low duration compared to its cooldown, it is only used for dealing with bosses and champions. It also might be useful in emergencies in a room that’s absolutely filled with dangerous monsters.
Frost VI is the second pet skill. It only shoots three missiles and does low damage, but the missiles freeze all monsters in a three meter radius of impact. That fits perfectly with the goal of this build: Keep enemies at bay while Mina kills them from afar.
10 Ranged Weapon Expertise
10 Armor Expertise
10 Frost Pilum
10 Critical Strikes
10 Explosive Shot
10 Dual Wielding
10 Charm Spell Mastery (Summon Zombies, Summon Archers pet spells)
10 Pet Mastery
10 Devouring Trap
10 Offensive Spell Mastery (Dervish VI, Frost VI spells)
10 Seeking Shot
10 Arrow Hail
10 Advanced Spellcasting
Total: 154 (Lv 100, Fame 55)
In Torchlight builds, there are generally only 5-6 active skills and a bunch of passives. This is one of the downsides of specialization, but at the same time it’s nice being able to get your core skills pretty early in the game. Passive skills are secondary at the beginning of the game, so they are only interspersed with active skills when fame skill points are gained. Later, when core active skills are maxed out, passive skills become the focus. For this build Ricochet is the starting skill with Ranged Weapons Expertise as the passive from fame skill points.
Ricochet, Frost Pilum, and Explosive Shot are the core active skills. Seeking Shot and Hail of Arrows could possibly be good, so I do pick them up for experimentation. However, they shouldn’t be needed for the build to be successful. Ricochet is the main boss/champion killer having the highest single target damage. Explosive Shot is the the best area attack with pretty good scaling. Frost Pilum is a good support skill to stun enemies in between the other skills. You can easily kill a monster in the duration of a 5 second stun.
Hail of Arrows would be good area attack, but it only gets a few more points of damage each level up from your Dexterity or Magic attributes. Up to level 30 it’s more powerful than Explosive shot, but from then on Explosive shot is much better. I still pick it up at later levels to test it out, but I know it won’t be used much. Seeking Shot is okay, but weak compared to Explosive Shot. I also pick it up for testing. Unlike Hail of Arrows, it could be a viable skill at high levels. Just not as good as Explosive shot, though.
Because this build has low Defense, Pet Mastery and Charm Spell Mastery are gained somewhat early. The pet and a few summons will eat up most monster damage while your character sits in the back doing the real damage. Critical Strikes is a key skill for any character. It is included in every build. Offensive Spell Mastery is taken to go with the Dervish VI and Frost VI spells, both key in this build. These skills are in the mid-level and high-level range when some extra damage and survivability is needed.
Devouring Trap is picked up in the higher levels. Since it reduces enemy armor, your Vanquisher’s ranged attacks will do a lot more damage. It also has a small chance to stun monsters for 3 seconds. The typical skill rotation will be Devouring Trap in the room until most monsters are afflicted by it, Frost Pilum against the nearest enemies to stun them, and then Ricochet or Explosive Shot for primary damage. Devouring Trap will be refreshed every 30 seconds with Frost Pilum alternating with Ricochet and Explosive Shot to keep enemies stunned.
The skills are rounded out by a few passives: Advanced Spellcasting and Barter. Neither of these are particularly strong, but there are no more useful skills for this build at this point. The Rogue tree active skills are all melee-based and thus don’t fit with a range-focused character. The other traps in the Arbiter tree just do straight damage to the enemies (fire, lightning, physical) with no special effects a ranged character could take advantage of.
Stats to Look For
+X% Physical & Elemental Damage
+X Dexterity Attribute
+X% Physical Damage
+X Physical Damage
+X% Fire Damage
+X Fire Damage
The item modifier “Physical and Elemental Damage” is the best you can get. It usually is only found with very small numbers on an item say 3% up to 15% maybe on a really good unique. That stat is straight +X% to all damage. Dexterity is a close second as it is the same bonus for your ranged weapon damage, but not all skills gain a bonus from Dexterity. The last set is for fire and physical damage. Explosive Shot is your main skill and it’s damage can be boosted quite a bit with fire enhancing bonuses. The rest of the skills (except Frost Pilum) are physical.
+X Defense Attribute
+X% Fire/Ice/Lightning/Poison Resistance
This is an offensive build, so you really don’t care about defensive stats much. If you find an item with good offensive stats and some of these as well, you should gladly wear it for a long time. Defense is more important at endgame, so you will make use of these stats eventually.
For a more detailed account, check out the character update series for Mina the Vanquisher Sniper.