The Strength Tankineer is a tank build for Engineers based on Strength, Vitality, Armor, and Physical Damage stats. Most skills taken are for their defensive bonuses, but one good offensive skill and a few surrounding passives are taken to give you some pretty good damage. Unlike Torchlight 1, tanks can still do pretty good damage at the endgame all while being pretty safe from death. While I don’t play Hardcore mode, this build would probably get you pretty far.
Strength: 15 + 180 = 195
Dexterity: 5 + 45 = 50
Focus: 5 + 0 = 5
Vitality: 15 + 270 = 285
These are only the base values. You can raise them much higher with good items. Except for the Dexterity, this distribution roughly corresponds with 3 Vitality, 2 Strength every level. Every few levels spend all 5 points in Dexterity until it is at 50. Otherwise, do 3:2 in Vitality and Strength.
Being a tank build, you want a really high Vitality. This will make you feel relatively safe. At very high levels, the damage can still become spiky from some monsters. Usually big brute-type enemies will be the dangerous ones. Their regular hits are fine. It’s critical hits that do the high damage. Monsters seem to have double damage on critical hits, which severely limits the value of high Armor. In Torchlight 2, Armor reduces damage directly, not as a percentage. A critical hit essentially bypasses Armor.
You could consider adding more to Vitality, but that’s not really an option. Three points is already a pretty big investment per level, and you need good amount of Strength to kill monsters fast enough not to get bored. You can compensate somewhat with gear, however.
Armor Expertise VI
Weapons Expertise VI
Elemental Protection VI
Heal All VI (on pet)
Silence VI (on pet)
Dervish VI (on pet)
Retribution VI (on pet)
Without any points in Focus, you only really have the mana to use your skills. With not much mana for spells, taking the more passive spells is a better way to go. Three of the four spells on your Engineer are passive, only Elemental Protection has a mana cost. It lasts for 1 minute though, so mana doesn’t become an issue.
Armor Expertise, Elemental Protection, and Blocking are very good defensive spells. Armor Expertise is basically 24% reduced damage from non-criticals (12% from criticals). Elemental Protection is much the same but for the 4 Elemental Armor types. Unlike Armor Expertise, the Armor added by Elemental Protection is also multiplied by your Vitality armor bonus, so it ends up being about 70% better at endgame than the tooltip shows.
The Blocking spell is a great way to max your block chance. Vitality will only add around 47% block chance at the end. A shield can maybe get 20% block chance with good modifiers. Blocking fills in that small gap, so you can have the max 75% block chance.
For pet spells I always look for the ones that help your own character. Heal All and Silence are good for this. Heal All is some nice passive healing with a fairly short cooldown. Silence is great for reducing spell damage. Most monsters do not use spells, so don’t think this will force monsters to use regular attacks. Many of them have inherent special abilities that can’t be silenced.
There really aren’t any other good spells that help the Engineer, so some spells that increase pet damage were the best choice to me. Dervish greatly increases pet attack and move speeds. The downside is the short spell duration. The pet can waste it at bad times, and the spell has a long cooldown. It’s great during boss fights though. Retribution is great when the pet is surrounded by enemies. Hard hitting monsters can end up taking good damage while attacking the pet.
Healing Bot 15
Shield Bash 15
Seismic Slam 15
Ember Hammer 15
Sword and Board 15
Coup de Grace 15
Total: 132 (Lv 100, Fame 32)
This is generally the order I took the skills. Start with some good passives in Healing Bot and Bulwark. While Healing Bot’s main purpose seems to be healing, for a tank it’s the Armor bonus you get at Tiers 1 and 3 that are the reason to max this skill. At the end it gives you a 16% Armor bonus. Bulwark is a further 30% Armor bonus plus 15% reduced damage taken (scales with critical hits).
Then, you pick up the main Charge generator and Charge spender skills. Shield Bash adds 0.48 Charge per target hit at max level. Compared to a normal weapon attack, it’s a huge amount of Charge per hit. The Charge gain is also multiplied per target hit, so hitting 3 targets would be 1.5 Charges. The Coup de Grace skill is also helps gain Charge. That Charge is then spent on Forcefield. With a full Charge bar and maxed out Forcefield, it gets +50% damage absorption. That’s 70,000+ damage absorption at the end of the game. Most monsters can’t even break through it in the 30 second duration.
Finally, it’s time for the offensive skills. Sword and Board is just a passive bonus to damage based on your Shield. Seismic Slam is used to Stun enemies mainly. The Fire damage is nice, but the Stun chance is the important part. With Supercharge, Stunned monsters take additional damage when struck. Once enemies are Stunned by Seismic Slam, you follow up with Ember Hammer. Ember Hammer also scales with your Charges. With max charges, all 15 points in Ember Hammer, and the Supercharge stun damage, you are looking at 15,000 damage critical hits.
What this means is you should maintain a full Charge bar at all times for Ember Hammer. Any time you use Charge for Forcefield, immediately fill the Charge bar again with Shield Bash. Then, cycle through Seismic Slam and Ember Hammer for massive damage. Shield Bash also Stuns monsters, so you can skip Seismic Slam sometimes.
Stats to Look For
A one-hand weapon and shield are the ideal for this build. Further, a slow attack speed one-hand weapon will work better with Ember Hammer. This is because Ember Hammer has a slow attack speed. Skill attack speeds are based on cast speed not the weapon speed, so the fast weapon doesn’t offer much over the slow one. Additionally, a shield is required for Sword and Board and Shield Bash. It wouldn’t feel like a tank build without a shield.
+X% All Damage
+X Melee Weapon Damage (can be constant or percentage)
+X Physical Damage (can be constant or percentage)
+X Mana steal on hit
+X% Critical hit chance
Charge rate increased by X%
Even though this is a tank build, you still should look for offensive stats on items when you can. There’s the flat damage you get from your weapon and +Melee Weapon Damage modifers, then the percentage increases from Strength, +X% All Damage, and +X% Melee Weapon Damage modifers. These all work together to get your final Physical Damage for basic attacks and Ember Hammer.
Dexterity is a nice one for increasing critical chance and doubles as a defensive stat. Direct increases to critical hit chance can also serve this purpose. Mana steal is a good supplement to the Healing Bot’s mana regeneration. Healing Bot only casts every 7 seconds or so. In between those casts, Mana steal will allow you to keep using skills. By the end of the game, regular attacks are only rarely needed. Charge rate also goes along with this. Fewer Shield Bashes needed to max Charge leaves more Mana for Seismic Slam and Ember Hammer.
+X Physical Armor (can be constant or percentage)
+X% Chance to Block
+X Fire/Ice/Electric/Poison Armor
+X% Dodge chance
Vitality is usually going to be the best stat until you get it near 300, where diminishing returns limit the value of more points in it. +X% Armor is very rare on items, but probably the best stat when you can find it. Between Armor and the Elemental Armors, Armor is usually better. There really aren’t that many spellcasters in the game. Most of your damage taken will be physical. I try to keep all the Elemental Armors balanced at the same numbers, such as 1,000 in each, unless I know I’m going to an area with a certain elemental focus. For example, late Act 1 is a pretty heavy Ice area with Poison very common in the dungeons.
Dexterity is great for adding dodge chance but also doubles as an offensive stat. It suffers heavy diminishing returns, so I treat it as a bonus on items. Dodge chance can also be increased directly on some unique items and with enchantments.
Chance to block has a great return on investment and you only need three sources to reach the cap: high Vitality, the Blocking spell, and a high block Shield. The hardest one here is a high block Shield, but even that’s not usually hard to find. Unique shields start with 15% block chance usually. With a few enchantments you can get another 5% for 20% block from your shield. Combined with the other two sources that’s the max 75% block chance.
-Coup de Grace
+Fire and Spark
In this setup, you go for a bit of Fire damage instead of Physical damage. Emberquake will scale with both your weapon DPS and Fire and Spark. If you use this alternative, you should also look for +Fire damage stats on your items. This Fire damage gets added to the Fire damage of your skills. Fire and Spark will also improve your Seismic Slam. The downside is losing the Supercharge-Ember Hammer Stun damage synergy. So the build switches from being a Stun-heavy Physical damage build to a Fire/Physical hybrid.