Here’s a RQ guide to Chopblast MacSmashing your way to victory and the top of the charts on IB.
IB is one of the best designed of a tanking cadre that includes the best types of tanks in gaming: ones that can still utterly wreck face. Anyone can take IB and be a turtle with him and appear, to the untrained eye, to be semi-competent but as one’s skills improve, its important to transition from being this kind of turle:
To this kind of turtle:
Note: The rest of the guide pairs well with the intro to 2012’s smash TMNT series on repeat.
The goal, when training with IB, or any tank, is to reach a point where you always know how aggro you can get away with being at any given moment, then always being that aggro. Ie. Knowing when to destroy and when to protect. That can only come with experience but this guide will help you get there. With the information herein, you’ll dominate the enemy for easier runs and top the charts consistently once you do. As for my credentials, I have hundreds of CATA hours on Bardin in V1, hundreds more on Legend IB in V2, and well over a thousand Legend hours overall, so I thought I’d pass on my personal min:max take on how to get the most out of this character.
In terms of lethality combined with mobility, versatility, and crowd control, nothing comes close to Drakefire Pistols in the hands of a skilled player. If a team is being the bad kind of turtle, you can rack up a lot of kills with the Drake Gun but it will never perform as well as Pistols in a dynamic, fluid, aggressive environment. Pistols do the exact same thing anyways without having any of the drawbacks. Most of Bardin’s other best ranged options are for long-range special deletion but that doesn’t fit IB’s role as a frontliner and you need a ranged weapon that helps you dictate the tempo of every engagement. Ammo sustainability is also a major mitigating factor when assessing his other non-fire options. Pistol’s both LMB and RMB allow for deep, wide, consistent CC and very high damage.
Pistols are peerless when it comes to fulfilling your role as tank while maintaining your momentum and still allowing you to utterly dominate both the battlefield and the scorecard. Everything about them is incredible. They have unlimited range and, despite what the reticle would have you believe, insane accuracy by virtue of the consistent lob and the shot’s extremely forgiving hit box. Its damage is insane given its high/consistent rate of fire and it applies a burn DoT on every hit. The rate of fire, penetration, and CC of this weapon make it suitable for almost every situation without ever slowing you down.
You want to practice with Pistols until you know the lob of the LMB by heart and can bullseye a rat from across the map. Since every LMB shot is a mini-cannonball, it’s easier than you’d think and soon you’ll be a pro at sniping with them, even while moving and even against moving targets while you yourself are moving. You’ll feel like a gd cowboy, this I promise you. You’ll also want to feel out exactly when to switch from LMB to RMB to min:max your output and CC/demolish hordes for max effect. We’ll get more into the specifics of how to use them for maximum impact later in the playstyle discussion.
Properties and Traits: (Due to IB’s abysmal crit rate, there’s really only one viable way to effectively build his gear: Power vs X).
Take Power vs Chaos + 10%, Power vs Infantry +10%, and Barrage on the Pistols. This, along with our charm, will allow us to hit our most important min:max breakpoints. The few we don’t hit natively are achieved easily and naturally with single stack of Barrage, so we’re pretty much fully covered in both melee and ranged Power vs Considerations.
Note: In the situations where you’re blasting slaves, you’re going to have constant 5-stacks of barrage and hit all of the important Skaven trash 1/2-shot breakpoints with that + your Power vs Infantry.
You’re going to be using your pistols most of the time but your melee choice is important as it’s going to compliment your playstyle and compensate for the area where Pistols are weak: Heavy AP and point-blank heavy removal. Beginners should start with the 2H Hammer (or 1H hammer if that’s your thing). Once you get the hang of IB though, switch to 2H Axe. There is currently no good reason to be using a shield.
2H Hammer is an all around balanced weapon with excellent range, unparalled cleave/CC on its charged attacks, and excellent AP + easy headshots on its LMB spam. Great for all situations. That being said, with this build you will rarely, if ever, need the charged attack and you’ll only be pulling your melee out to either block/push or to focus a single armoured/heavy target, so there are better choices.
2H Axe is similar to the 2H hammer but it’s meant for a much more aggressive playstyle. It has a nearly identical attack pattern to the 2H Hammer but its LMB spam is much faster and the weapon does considerably more damage to bosses at the cost of reduced cleave, which we don’t need (since we’re not using it vs hordes anyways. It does also have less crisp block-cancels but we’re the tankiest of tanky tanks and once you get the hang of it it’s just as easy to control as his other weapons. We’re accepting 2H axe’s limitations to min:max ourselves for damage output and, with skill, it won’t hurt your defensive bottom line. IB and the 2H axe suit each other in much the same way as the Pistols and the 2H Axe do, with each being strong where the other is weak.
Properties and Traits: Power vs Chaos +10%, Attack Speed + 5%, Off Balance.
From a melee perspective, the Power vs we’re stacking on the 2H Axe + Charm is going to help vs CW, Maulers, and the most dangerous bosses. It will also achieve the most critical SV breakpoints without being reliant upon Barrage stacks.
Off Balance is extremely important because of its synergy with your ult. Being able to immediately and persistently apply a 20% Power bonus to your entire team to a whole horde/patrol when things hit the fan is huge. Not only that but the effect will last up to 20s (15s from ult + 5s from debuff duration right before ult wears)… so basically its up until either everything else dies or the team does. It’s like adding another member to the party, when you ult on things you need to contain/turtle, output wise.
Health +20% + Damage Reduction vs Chaos +10% (or Stamina +2) + Natural Bond.
IB’s innate defense buffs mean that every bit of health you throw on him greatly enhances your eHP. Min:Maxed in this regard, when IB is at ~30% of his health bar he’s still got health for days, especially with Dwarf-Forged factored in. Health +20% is a BiS property in general on Necklace.
I’ve come around to Damage Reduction on IB with this build because we’re being so aggressive, we’re so slow while blocking, and the 2H Axe push attack is pretty lackluster, so I’ve found the stamina to be somewhat wasted, especially considering we don’t need it for our Ult. Block cost reduction provides less eStam here than +2 stam and since we’re not stacking defensive properties on the 2h axe, it’s similarly wasted. May as well give yourself a bit more mitigation vs the more threatening and least “walking temp-health” of the two factions.
IB and Natural Bond go hand in hand. Not only does it take too much healing to keep him topped off traditionally if you’re being as aggressive as you should be, IB has more or less direct control over how much damage he takes and a health pool so large that Natural Bond will be ticking non-stop, giving it extreme value as far as effective healing output goes. Combined with the fact IB can generate temp health as fast as a pure DPS, Bond is by far the best choice. It also means you can/should be venting your Pistols whenever you need to, without you losing a war of attrition to yourself vis a vis vent damage over time.
Note: It’s important to remember two things with NB on IB though. First, med kits unwound you even if you use them to heal someone else. Second, you’re really hard to kill. As such, don’t just blow a kit the second you’re wounded. If you do go down, wait until you can use a medkit on someone else and get full value of it. Some of this depends on your personal skill level but know yourself and how cautious you need to be in this situation to maximize your performance and team contribution.
Power vs Chaos +10%, Power vs Armour +10%, Decanter.
This lets you hit all of your key breakpoints in both melee and ranged while maximizing your impact vs CW and the most dangerous bosses.
As far as Decanter goes, you’ll almost never pop potions on account of carrying a grim but people do have a tendency to undervalue Speed pots. They gel awesomely with IB’s kit and with this build in particular. Speed not only increases your fire rate but also your vent speed so it’s essentially a straight up 2x boost to you DPS and CC while active.
Cooldown Reduction +10% (or Move Speed +5%) + 33% Curse Resistance + Shrapnel/Grenadier. Bardin can get away without Curse Resistance… but don’t. The health you save with 33% Curse Resistance is well worth the slot. Bardin + his talent health buff + 20% necklace buff + 33% curse resistance = with 2x grim he’s still at 97% of a normal, unbuffed health bar before factoring in his reduced damage taken. It’s huge. Just rock that bad boy. Mvmt speed is a totally acceptable alternative to Cooldown Reduction, since it helps you stay in front. Cooldown reduction, though it doesn’t look like it’d accomplish much on paper, actually has a big impact in game. It’s such a long cd that 10% helps a lot and it frees you up to use your ult more tactically, instead of strategically. That said, if you ever need your ult right meow you can generally eat a few hits and have it ready. I lean more towards taking Movement + these days.
There are solid arguments to be had regarding Shrapnel vs Grenadier but I don’t consider the Shrapnel debuff to be anything to balk at and it’s my personal preference. It also dramatically improves the value of Incendiary Bombs. I encourage people to take Shrapnel and grab Incendiary Bombs, leaving the more powerful Blackfires for teammates who may not have shrapnel.
Stoutfellow >>> Indefatigable > Shield of Valaya: Stoutfellow synergizes best with Dwarf-Forged. Neither Indefatigable nor Shield of Valaya are intrinsically bad, but they’re overkill turtling traits. You’re already ridiculously tanky. The health is just better and it lets you be more aggressive.
Irondrake >>>>>>> Miner’s Rhythm >>>> Gazul’s Duty: Irondrake has a big impact on your up-time with Pistols before having to vent, increasing your damage/CC output. Miner’s Rhythm is a turtle talent that requires a specific turtle -> swing -> turtle build that’s sustainable, but not very lethal. Gazul’s Duty is just too limited and situational.
Rune-Forged >> Tunnel Fighter >>> Ironbreaker’s Resolve: On paper, most people think Tunnel Fighter is the top pick here but Rune-Forged is far superior. Tunnel fighter is limited, situational, and its value is rarely realized. You usually don’t get hit and, when you do, you’re generally going to take a few light hits at once, not a steady flow of hits 13-19 seconds apart. Rune-Forged’s temp health is significant when paired with the innate Dwarf-Forged perk so it’s basically always 2x the dmg absorbed per activation (you shouldn’t be eating elites’ mega-chops). Similarly, Tunnel Fighter does nothing to help with gas, assassins, hookrats, leeches, gun rats, flame rats, blightstormers, or ff. While you can often avoid damage from these, nobody’s perfect. Most importantly, though, is that the health granted by a Gromril Armour proc under Rune-Forged is equivalent to a full bar of overheat venting dmg, allowing you to strategically take a hit and get a free vent out of it. Lastly, one more minor perk of Rune-Forged is the additional visual queue it grants. The spike of white on your bar combined with the cd dial is unmistakable, which is useful when things get intense. Ironbreaker’s Resolve is, again, extreme overkill turtlage.
Heart of Gromril > Booming Taunt >>> Oi! Wassok!: During Impenetrable, you can block every attack for free and your damage taken is reduced to virtually negligible proportions, allowing you to prevent all team damage and go totally berzerk. Heart of Gromril = 50% more godmode berzerkitude. Booming Taunt isn’t bad but with proper positioning, the impact of the vanilla range is more than enough and your team should have no problem capitalizing on it sufficiently. Oi! Wassok! is situational and mostly superfluous in that you rly shouldn’t be saving the ult for bosses and bosses are much easier than the threats that come along with them. You can also get aggro well enough chopping em in the butt with your axe. Lastly, no matter what, everyone on the team needs to know how to handle a boss entirely on their own in order to be successful; 10s of boss taunt is a drop in the bucket. Heart of Gromril + Off Balance, for the situations where you really need to be a raw “hit me harder, daddy” tank = if your team can’t recover, God doesn’t want you to live.
As a beginner, take your time and be conservative. If you opted to start out with 2h hammer, practice the charged attack such that you take a step back during the wind up then forward during the swing and follow-through. Turn the screen in the direction of the swing to extend its effective range. If you get really good with it you can actually do effective 360 degree swings, hitting everything around you like a gd maniac. In general though, aim comfortably to extend the normal lateral swing range by about 30-50%, saving the whirlybird bs for desperate Hail Mary moments. Keep in mind though that this is all just a fundamental building block to feel the character out. You wanna be using the Pistols as much as possible, with the caveat that you shouldn’t be sitting at the back and you shouldn’t be hitting your teammates with LMB fire (RMB is fine). Practice your LMBs on ambients and hordes and learn when exactly to switch to RMB blasts for maximum CC and DPS. Basically, if they aren’t in a single file or close to it, switch to RMB blasts and just don’t stop blasting except to quickly vent (if you vent, vent to low orange or high grey for max efficiency). Move around and dodge accordingly to avoid damage and use the blasts to put anything coming at you on its ass, being as twitchy and aggressive as needed. Avoid ff when able but don’t be afraid, with the RMB, to blast your friends a bit, especially if you’ll be preventing damage from being dealt to them. With the LMB, however, avoid hitting teammates as much as practical. The goal is to reach a point where you’re so effective with pistols you only pull melee out to block or to crush an elite that’s close enough you can switch weapons for optimal DPS. Don’t be afraid to take damage but obviously don’t be suicidal. Vent whenever you need to to maintain an optimal fire rate (try to stay out of the red as it dramatically reduces your attack speed on both melee and ranged). Don’t be afraid to proc Gromril Armour to trigger Rune-Forged for a free vent.
Once you get comfortable with your gun-play to the point you don’t feel the need for 2H Hammer melee charged attacks anymore, switch to 2H Axe. It has faster LMB attacks and way better boss damage (something Bardin’s always lacked, even in V1). I tend to stick to his charged attack as it has better accy and cleave and it can hit a few more breakpoints, but there’s nothing wrong with LMB. 2H Axe will help push your output to the next level without sacrificing defensive capabilities at your improved skill level. Its block cancels are a lil awkward at first but you get used to them quickly. During a horde, you can just CC blow back anything but a CW with a Pistol lmb mixed in with the RMB blasts until it’s safe to either pistol LMB focus it down or it’s optimal to go melee for a quick chop chop. It shouldn’t take too long to feel out how to min:max this combo as it’s extremely aggressive and IB’s kit is hella forgiving.
Never forget you’re still the team’s anchor. You’re the hardest member of the team to perish and the most capable of turning the tides when things get ugly. As always, you should be on comms and you should always know or quickly assess the best positioning for any given situation. Never ever be afraid to pop your ult. If you see people starting to take damage, pop it. Don’t try and save it for a rainy day but, of course, don’t be brazen/wasteful with it.
Ambient Elites - For everything but CW, assuming no specials are in play, close the distance while hosing it with LMB blasts. If it’s still alive when you get to it (it won’t be) switch to melee and cleave it in half. If it’s a CW, hose the stuff around him (or him) to build up barrage stacks while you get in close for a chop, followed by an Off Balance proc if required, followed by chopchopchopchopchop. Basically, just always get in everything’s gd face like a lil maniac.
SV Patrol - Get in front and push/block the hell outta it tactically to apply Off Balance to everything. Ult if you got it.
CW Patrol - If you don’t have ult, pop a few rounds/blasts into the crowd then carefully/strategically alternate between chops and blocks with your axe. Keep Off Balance applied but also help dish out some AP pain. If you have ult, keep them contained but also know your way out for when the ult wears, in the off chance your team hasn’t murdered everything yet.
Bosses - Learn how to keep rat ogres stationary forever by triggering a slam, dodging it, getting a headchop in to trigger another slam, dodging it, repeat forever (like the bots do). W/e the boss is out of range, Pistol LMB. Once in range, melee backchops. If anything at all pokes it head out to help (ie. special, horde, elite) make that your priority. Bosses aren’t IB’s forte, though the axe/pistol combo does make him respectable in the role, others still do it better and your primary job is to keep the team alive.
Note: I’ve updated the guide to correct some errors, to reflect my current build, and to further optimize min:max.
That’s about it. This is obviously way more aggressive than you see typical Bardins perform but I assure you it’s highly effective and a solid case of the best defense being a good offense. With this approach, you should have no problem keeping everyone alive and topping the scorecard in pretty much every category.
Remember, the goal of this build is not to be a ranged character. You want to be moving forward aggressively, pressing the front line and simply using the pistols to always let you be at the front of the pack while bathing in your enemies’ blood.