I know we have the large discussion threads currently running but I fear they can become rather chaotic with time. Therefore, I would like to clink out Unchained, mainly because she is one of the more discussed careers and because I would like to present my own vision for her which is surprisingly close to how she already is (which would also make it easier to change for FS). Warning: LOTS OF TEXT COMING
Active Skill: Living Bomb - I will get back to that for the level 30 talents discussion
Passive: Blood Magic - 50 % of her damage will be transferred to overcharge. On the first view this sounds incredibly good, then it sounds really bad and then after getting the hang of it, it is actually good again. Unchained has the highest single damage resistance in the game, is however susceptible towards consecutive damage. The good news is that she has a large hidden buffer for overcharge meaning that about 2-3 seconds after getting hit she can take another hit already. This means in hordes and normal fighting the only chance for this to happen (despite playing badly) is if your block gets broken, so stamina management is kinda important with her. However, she has an inherent weakness against fast small damage attacks because of this, namely Warpfire Throwers and Ratling Gunners and to a lesser extent also Globadiers. On the other hand her overcharge does not increase while being disabled which makes her more resilent while being disabled or downed. If everything else fails she also has a safety throw every two minutes by her active skill.
Perks: Slave to Aqshy and Unstable Strength - The first one means that she will not be slowed down by overcharge which … yea is nice and necessary because otherwise this whole career wouldn’t function. The real perk is Unstable Strength though which increases her melee damage in 12 % steps up to 60 % dependent from overcharge. This gives her enough strenght to switch between melee and range repeatedly. In summary, Unchained is still a hybrid character. Only playing her as melee focussed tank will net poor results.
Level 5 Talents:
Soul Quench - Reckless Rampage - Burn Bloom
Not much to say here, one THP talent for stagger and one for cleave. They both (depending from weapon) can provide enough THP. It isnt the insane amounts which careers like Mercenary, Zealot or Shade will accumulate but it is more than enough as health is not the issue for Unchained. Technically, if you manage to play a halfway clean game even Burn Bloom would be a choice to consider.
Level 10 Talents:
Frenzied Flame - Searing Grasp - Chain Reaction
The level 10 row is one of the most interesting for her. Both Frenzied Flame and Searing Grasp are talents fit for melee focussed action and depending on weapon both working wonders. Frenzied Flame is hereby the easier to use as it provides a simple increase of attack speed (15 %) which means 15 % more dps. It is the talent of choice for the Flame Sword.
Personally, I am using the Flail or here I would consider Searing Grasp equal or preferable. It burns all enemies in pushing range for one dot of damage. It has unlimited cleave and if you specialize for it, you can burn in a radius of 270 ° which is insane. While you could consider it niche it helps you then when you need it the most, while being surrounded by enemies. DPS is in my opinion more than enough. For example in my setup I do 5 damage points to Marauders with the Dot and with maximum overcharge, headshotting and stagger I do about 80 damage to Marauders. Realistically in a fight I could expect an average of 40 damage or lower which means Searing Grasp results in a dps increase of 12.5 % and is not tied to 50 % overcharge, so it is definetely more useful as long as you haven’t reached values above 50 % overcharge. Also as it has unlimited cleave you usually burn far more enemies than you hit with a weapon strike. As such you can easily get a dps increase of 15 % or higher depending on the weapon (not Flame Sword though, but on Flail and Sword I would chose Searing Grasp over Frenzied Flame.
This leaves us with the last talent - Chain Reaction which is cool and nice … if it would actually work (and I think it had in the past, was still mediocre). Idea is that burning enemies explode (they do) and do damage to nearby enemies, making them explode, dealing damage to nearby enemies and so on. However, the explosion does no damage currently which is why this is at the moment just very sophisticated stagger.
Frenzied Flame can stay as it is. Maybe add a first increase of just 5 % attack speed below 50 % overcharge. Doesn’t make the talent better or worse really.
Searing Grasp is fine too in my opinion. However, I think there is some chances to make it more attractive. I would like to see an increase of the pushing angle by 30 ° for chosing the talent. The change would have an impact without making the talent to strong. A second change I would really like to see but may be to much is to add a second phase. At 80 % overcharge or higher (red area), Searing Grasp should provide not one but two dots (and two seconds of burning). The risk is high enough to justify this reward.
Chain Reaction has to be fixed, as simple as that. Also, I would move away from direct damage by explosion (exploding and staggering is still okay) but creating a dot (two seconds) on nearby enemies dealing the fire damage.
Level 15 Talents:
Bulwark - Mainstay - Enhanced Power
Nothing much to say here either. Bulwark is for staggering enemies and should work well together with the staggering thp talent. While she does not have a shield, it should synergize well with weapons like the Flame Sword, Flail or even the dagger. Mainstay is if you want to make the maximum out of her melee attacks mainly with high stagger/cleave weapons. Enhanced Power is a simple increase in power by 7.5 %. This should be chose if necessary for breakpoints or upping her range play a bit (since Unchained still is a hybdrid character).
Level 20 Talents:
Dissipate - Conduit - Numb to Pain
This is the row concerning the venting. Not to interesting but it fulfils what it is designed for. Dissipate lets you vent by blocking and also decreases block costs at high overcharge levels. This is the talent I mostly chose as it helps you if mismanage your stamina and it lets you swap between melee and range more often. As in, you block an attack dodge backwards, cast your spell and change back to melee. I prefer this method over her normal venting. On the “bad side” it does reduce your overcharge while being in melee which is a bit counter-intuitive. Still for someone who swaps often this is a good talent. And it is easy to use.
Conduit lets you vent more effectively with less damage. For the people out there which excel at managing overcharge and stamind this is the talent of choice as it makes active management much easier. Also preferable if you stay a bit more in the backrow instead of horde facing.
Numb to Pain provides additional damage reduction. However, health is not really that issue for Unchained so that I would consider it the weakest choice. But if you take regularly single damage spikes it will be helpful. Will probably be beneficial against bosses but also needs micromanagement.
Level 25 Talents:
Enfeebling Flames - Burning Dregs - Natural Talent
One of the most interesting talents of Unchained is Enfeebling Flames which means that burning enemies deal 30 % less damage which is huge, especially since this reduction naturally comes before Blood Magic. However, there is nearly no chance to use this effect. Enemies burned by staves, Flame Sword or Flail are actually all staggered, so before they attack you the fire is already gone. This leaves you with two exceptions. The first is that it works well against bosses. The second is that it synergizes really well with Searing Grasp as there the stagger effect is rather tame to non-existent. Also, it may work with Fire Bombs which would be a great help in pinch situations. Haven’t tested that though (confirmation would be appreciated).
Burning Dregs is the one talent I can’t seem to make work even in my head. I know it should work as additional safety net but it is to situational for that. You need to have more than 50 % health for it to work at all (does thp count?) and it would often trigger when you don’t need it at all robbing you of your melee damage. It has probably its niche. But this is the one talent I would replace.
Natural Talent is the caster’s talent. 10 % less overcharge production means more fire for the enemies. Works well enough. I tested if it also reduces the overcharge when getting hit but so far it seems as not (confirmation would be appreciated).
There is a potential change for Enfeebling Flames which seems rather minor but would have a huge impact on her whole career. Therefore, I decided against it. I will get back to this later.
Well, as I said. Burning Dregs is the one talent I would replace. And I would replace it with something I call offensive defense - Burning Wounds. Each time you get hit Unchained will emit fire bursts damaging nearby enemies propotional to the received damage (no stagger though). This way you would have an additional damage card in case things go wrong. It can also be discussed if this works while being disabled as it would then similarly to Gromril’s curse give Unchained the chance to free herself from assassins and similar by killing the disabler after so long.
Natural Talent is fine.
Level 30 Talents:
Flame Wave - Fuel to the Fire - Bomb Balm
Unchained’s active skill is one of the few skills with a triple function. It works as safety net/ammo regeneration, delivers damage and stagger enemies. However, this means without specializing it falls short both in damage and stagger. Bomb Balm adds another utility on top of the skill working as healer so to speak with a radius which is larger as it first appears. With Bomb Balm the active skill is similar to the Mercenary’s skill and extra THP is always welcome if in a pinch.
My talent of choice is Fuel to the Fire though. The bonus by hitting 5 enemies is actually applied before the stagger and damage is calculated. This means with this talent you have up to 25 % more damage and stagger. With specializing you can reach the stagger breakpoint for the Chaos Warrior overhead which is huge if you have team mates who tend to go down in bad places. And the damage can easily kill slave rats and Ungors. In addition, it is the only talent which allows you to keep some form of damage bonus (actually power bonus) which helps a lot in fighting the remnants of your explosion. In pinch situations this will help a lot as both cleave and damage are increased. Furthermore, the bonus power also applies to your staves which means for 10 seconds you can create havoc with your now depleted overcharge meter. Also, it synergizes well with Searing Grasp as DoT damage is also increased by Fuel to the Fire. Overall, a very flexible talent which brings you bonus both in melee and range.
This leaves as with Flame Wave which increases the explosion radius of Living Bomb and … that’s it to my knowledge. Only increase in radius. This means the stagger talent has actually less stagger then Fuel to the Fire.
I think Bomb Balm and Fuel to the Fire are both fine as they are and both have their space. I definetely don’t want to change Fuel to the Fire, especially the stagger breakpoint which is very valuable and needs some dedication. However, it is absurd that Flame Wave does not more stagger. It should at least have the same stagger as the specialized Fuel to the Fire. As such I propose to give Flame Wave more stagger power somewhere along 25 -50 % or even better “one strenght potion effect” more. This would give the talent the niche of staggering bosses. Also, I would give Flame Wave a longer lasting burn effect (about 5-7 seconds) either by keeping the flame alive or as burning on the ground similarly to Fire Bomb. With this change you would have to make the choice between Health/Support, Stagger/Damage or More Stagger/Control. To, all three seem feasible choices.
As you can see, the proposed changes are not that much but I think they are meaningful. Unchained can more or less be played in three roles: Defense/Support - Hybrid Melee Focussed - Hybrid Ranged Focussed. Her damage potential is already very strong and does not really much more emphasis. My changes would mainly make her defense/support build more attractive and would allow for a more flawless transiation/combination of different roles. The main focus was hereby how to make Enfeebling Flames working better without guaranteeing it being active permanently. Both the change on Flame Wave as well as Searing Grasp are closing in this gap while both talents still have increased benefits even without chossing Enfeebling Flames. There should be several synergies in her build now. The change from Burning Dregs to Burning Wounds is something to give her some kind of unique “defense” properties fitting to her career.
Additionally, I would like to say that I am absolutely against changing how Blood Magic works or increasing the overchage meter. Her overcharge management is working well enough and makes her a rather unique career with a strong defense. What I noticed personally is that I am always at the limit for my stamina. As my current build has not place left, I would therefore consider giving Unchained a third perk which increases her Stamina (similar to IB or FK)
Considerations dismissed or not sure how and where to add:
As said before, I have considered a change for Enfeebling Flames. And this is that the talents increases ALL HER DOTS by a factor two while decreasing its power by the same factor. In synergy to this talent I would change the bonus for Searing Grasp away from one more dot to double damage dot. This would give more flexibility for Searing Grasp as it could be either geared offensively vs Horde or defensively versus bosses and elites. It would also strengthen her active skill even more. However, the main issue was that the DoT increase would apply to Flaming Sword and Flail as well as her Staves. With this change it would be easily possible to keep dots on bosses and elites all the time which would be to strong in my opinion.
Another consideration was to move Burning Wounds a row to create a synergy with Enfeebling Flames. However, this would mean that after the first hit all following attacks for a short time would be 30 % less deadly. Which again is to strong as effect.
The last consideration was to give her some kind of gimmick like causterizing wounds. Effectively, this would step THP decay for something 20-30 seconds which is a nice bonus and could be huge. But I couldnt find a good place to add it. The first question would be if it is an effect just for her or for the whole group which would also determine where it would be added. I considered it adding to her active skill in general (all players, but would be to strong), just one of her level 30 talents (would create an imbalance), Burning Wounds or Numb To Pain (both times only herself).
Hm, I think I missed one or two details somewhere. Nonetheless, this is how I would envision Unchained. Only very few changes would be necessary to get here and it should increase her flexibility. If you managed to read through all of this than you deserve a virtual cookie. Thanks for reading.
EDIT: An actual good point made in another thread is the problem with friendly fire. While it happens rarely on Cataclysm, it still is a frustrating thing when you have to adapt your battle stance on the spot because the trigger happies shot a bolt through your backbone. As such, could we consider that friendly fire does NOT increase the overcharge?