Character Contemplations 6: Furious Badger (Katana/Super Reflexes Scrapper)

She fights for ponies This Scrapper is loosely modeled on my wife. My wife can be a very angry badger. Furious Badger was the name I picked for my first beta character, and she was intended to be something simple and safe my wife could play. My main priorities there were passive powers (fewer buttons to worry about) and high survivability. I went with an Invulnerability/War Mace Tanker. That character, particularly solo, was very weak. I became very tired of six-shotting white minions, so switched to a Scrapper for live.

I do not think that I picked Katana to mirror my wife’s Scrapper, PrettyPonyLady. She went with Invulnerability, and I took Super Reflexes. Both sets have four passive powers; combine that with Fitness and an auto-power, and you need not think about one-third of your powers. Convenient, that.

This is another solo character. She joined groups more often than intended, but this was planned as something I could play when groups were not available. Good damage, high survivability, no need to worry about support. She does all that, with a bit more group friendliness than Fluffy Bunnies.

Katana

It’s a sword. Don’t go looking for surprises here.

a worthy adversary Katana and Broad Sword are close cousins. In retrospect, I might have preferred Broad Sword. Their powers are essentially the same, but Katana trades a bit of damage for a bit of speed. Faster attacks, some cool animations, but lower damage. Damage is king, and I doubt I would often be standing around for lack of attacks. Some friends tell me that the Broad Sword animations are really slow and painful, so come talk to me after I take my Broad Sword/Dark Armor Scrapper to 50 in a few years.

The attacks are all lethal damage, one of the most resisted types. Many enemies have physical armor, and robots take half damage from bullets and blades. This is a drawback.

Basic damage comes in four sizes: minor, medium, high, and extreme. They include a small defense debuff, as you slice your enemies’ armor. The “high” comes with knockup. The “extreme” comes with knockdown, an increased chance for critical hits, and it can also hit the guy behind your target. I skipped the minor, because I do not need that many attacks. Katana also comes with a melee cone and AoE, making the set more group-friendly than Stalker Martial Arts.

The remaining toys are Confront, the single-target taunt I always skip; Build Up, the very useful power that I keep forgetting because Frosta did not have it; and a parry, which has minor damage but a melee defense buff. I use the parry in place of the normal minor attack, but it has a frighteningly long animation. I can keep parry double-stacked, so that I am all but immune to melee attacks, but it lowers my DPS.

That used to be my plan against bosses, but it is suboptimal. I would rather prevent attacks than improve my defense against them, and a defeated boss does not attack. If the boss does not have knockback protection, the two attacks that knock him off his feet should keep him from attacking (similar to Fluffy Bunnies, but available nine levels earlier).

If I have Hasten running, the attack chain is extreme-moderate-high-moderate. Without Hasten, that is extreme-moderate-high-parry. If knockdown is not working and I need the defense, extreme-parry-high-parry. The sub-second gaps in those chains give me brief moments for other toys like inspirations, Build Up, and re-activating clickies like Hasten and Practiced Brawler.

lets cut him down to size Katana works well as a solo set. Broad Sword has higher burst damage, Claws has higher sustained DPS, and Spines has better AE. Katana brings a mix of those and adds survivability. Two knockdown attacks with quick recharge, plus parry.

The key to using knockdown as a defense is that your enemy needs to be back on the ground before he finishes standing. If he gets his feet for a quarter-second, that is enough time to activate an attack, even if he is prone when the animation is done. That Freakshow boss hits for about half your hit points, so taking the occasional hit can be a Bad Thing. This makes faster recharge times valuable. It combines well with your defense and regeneration (from Health), because you will have enough time to heal the last hit while the boss is missing, falling, and standing back up. Have green candy available just in case.

Super Reflexes

Super Reflexes is a different sort of binary from Regeneration. There, you compare enemy DPS to your regeneration rate to see if you are immortal or instantly defeated. Here, things are less reliable, and you take either 0 or full damage.

Super Reflexes is a defense-based set. Until a few issues ago, defense-based sets were at a disadvantage because of how level adjustments worked. That is, they worked great against even-con foes and lower, but they failed against higher-level foes. This decreased group-friendliness and reduced the ability to solo at higher difficulties. The oddity of having separate accuracy and to-hit modifiers was used to offset this; I am told that defense and resistance are at parity with respect to level modifiers.

applesauce Sorry, there was a bit of jargon and shop-talk there, but it was the only way we knew that defense was worse than resistance. Cancel that: if you played both or played with someone who had the other, the difference in survivability was noticeable, but there was nothing in the standard game info that explained what was going on. Spades, people who watched the patch notes, and hardcore players understood how the math worked out, but the casual player just saw his SR getting pasted by purples that his Invuln friend could solo.

Anyway, the remaining drawback of defense is “5%.” MMORPGs are the descendants of D&D, so the 20-sided die lives online. You always miss on a 1 and hit on a 20, no matter what the odds, and this applies to City of Heroes. Even with >100% accuracy, you will miss 5% of the time. An unslotted level 1 will hit a fully buffed level 50 one in twenty times. This means that, even with perfect defenses, you will still be taking 5% of the hits. That hurts. That is why I like using knockdown to reduce the number of times bosses swing at the Badger.

One last drawback to Super Reflexes: you need all of it. This is not because every power is so good that they are all must-takes. Seven of the nine powers contribute necessary parts of your defenses, without which you will die. The other two are “very nice” and “temporary god mode,” so you also take those.

Okay, more jargon. There are two types of defense: by damage type and positional. Damage types are the standard ones of smashing, fire, energy, etc. Oddly, there is no defense against toxic damage, because of poor coding at launch that makes it prohibitively time-consuming to fix. Attacks are also assigned one of three types: melee, ranged, or area of effect. (Then there are things that should have attack rolls but don’t, so they ignore all defense, and others that do not seem to have a direction assigned, so they ignore all directional defenses. The devil really is in the details.)

Super Reflexes is based on positional defense. There is a passive and a toggle to improve defense against each type, so three passive powers and three toggles. This can get a little endurance-intensive. Each also resists defense debuffs, so you will not be left naked by a single debuffer. As a late-added bonus, the passives add some damage resistance if your hit points are low (nice versus minions, useless versus bosses), and the toggles add perception and resistance to confusion.

Fully slotted defenses stack to about 30% defense, which you can push towards 50% with Invention Origin set bonuses. Against even-con minions, 30% defense eliminates 60% of incoming damage, and does proportionately less as you move up the difficulty scale. Did I mention that I like to keep big foes on their backs? 50% makes minions irrelevant and puts a nice dent in an archvillain’s attacks.

Now that Force Fields and other defense buffs affect positional defense, they stack nicely with post-ED Super Reflexes. Each fully slotted Controller or Corruptor Force Field gives you that 20% boost that you normally get from very expensive IOs, so if you have both you can start ignoring lieutenants too. Make sure to get that Insulation or Glacial Shield, because it affects both ranged and AoE defense.

One last shot at Super Reflexes before getting to the good parts: the power order and spacing is unfortunate. You get Evasion, your last toggle, at level 35. 35. I have heard many people quit in the 30s because they find it too grindy, and you do not complete your defenses until level 35. When the game launched, the level cap was 40, and you could not slot your last defense until level 36. Area effect attacks start much earlier than 35, so you spend your early life as an SR Scrapper watching for Council agents with grenades and bazookas. Kill them first! (Arrest? What? She has a Katana! Cut their filthy hands off and cuff their legs together. 30+ levels of no defense against them, and you want me to worry about a clean arrest?) SR Stalkers have less worry here, because Hide at level 1 comes with massive AE defense.

float like a butter fly stab them in the face So why take Super Reflexes? You don’t get hit! That is a huge bonus, being able to leap into a group of enemies and laugh as their attacks go wide. Now that they’ve added messages when your defenses cause a miss, you float in a cloud of DODGED!s that indicate bullets whizzing by your head. Dance untouchably in the midst of your foes.

The secondary benefit is that you do not face secondary effects. Most attacks do damage and something else. Ice attacks do damage and slow you; electricity attacks do damage and drain endurance; explosions do damage and toss you across the room. If the attack misses completely, so does the associated debuff/drain. Everyone hates endurance-draining Sappers, but a miss is a miss for you. You only need to watch for stacking defense debuffs like radiation attacks (Antimatter’s robots) and to-hit-buffing enemies (Devouring Earth crystals – watch for them, they overcome all your defenses).

Super Reflexes comes with one of the best status protection powers, Practiced Brawler. You ignore knockdown and the four primary crowd controls, plus a toggle protects you from confusion. The rare fear is the only one left, although you will see more of that in PvP. Practiced Brawler is a clicky, not a toggle, which is most valuable when it fails. On most heroes, if anything overcomes your status protection toggle, you are done: your toggle drops, and now you have no status protection. It took several holds to lock you down, but only one to keep you there. The clicky stays up, so you are free once the hold magnitude drops enough. The only drawback is that you must click it every two minutes. I have it set as the Badger’s auto-power, so it clicks itself as long as I give it the needed pause in the attack chain. I have gotten myself held because I was attacking too furiously for the auto-power to fire.

The knockdown protection, by the way, is huge. I have never seen it fail. I have been hit with knockback attacks while standing on a sheet of ice, no problem. I am told that no single player can overcome it in PvP, even with full slotting, multiple powers, and stacked buffs. I have not had occasion to test that.

The next good thing is Quickness. Your utility power is a passive buff to recharge, run speed, and resistance to slow. Yes, take it. I will address fun with recharge speed below.

You mean you can Finally, you get Elude. Elude makes everything miss, even if you are tanking an archvillain. Take Elude. There are few better panic buttons. I am sad to have missed the glory days of Super Reflexes before ED, when you could perma-Elude. I said you needed all nine powers, but once you got perma-Elude you re-speced down to four, freeing up many power slots. Even post-ED, this remains a great power.

Boss Slayer

As a Scrapper, your job on a team is to take out the hard targets. The Tanker will keep the rabble off your friends. You combine excellent single-target damage with good defenses. Find the biggest, baddest thing you can and drop him. Start with Build Up and your biggest attack. Your inherent power gives you criticals that can be wasted on minions but might let you clear 1000 damage on a good hit. Make the boss eat dirt.

The Stalker is the assassin who takes out support enemies. They specialize in hitting lieutenants, the ones with all the annoying powers like heals, buffs, and debuffs. The Scrapper is the open attacker, leaping into the fray with a cry of violence. Think of Wolverine, throwing himself at some huge enemy, knowing he can carve it up and survive. That is you. You have a team backing you up if things go south, so go smack something huge.

Pool Powers

Fitness, again, as ever. Health is particularly nice when you have no resistance. If attacks keep missing, I have time for even a small regeneration buff to clean up the occasional hit. Stamina for all those toggles. Get those IOs that improve your regeneration and recovery, and add some slots to Health for them. Swift and Hurdle actually merit mention here, since SR gives you Quickness and Elude. Even without a movement power, you will be running and jumping at a nice clip.

Hasten and Superspeed, because this is an old character. Hasten stacks nicely with Quickness. Superspeed plus Celerity IO makes her invisible.

Scrappers might as well have just the one epic pool. Focused Accuracy means you do not miss, although it does suck endurance. Conserve Power reduces the endurance suckage. Furious Badger also got the AE energy blast from the set, just for fun, although maybe I should trade it for something more useful. Hey, more ways to put things on the ground, although it puts me through the redraw animation again.

Playstyle

in true anime style he will fall into two pieces as soon as he realizes he was hit Furious Badger solos missions about as well as the Stalker. Being invisible, she can zip to the end and complete things quickly, and her higher DPS allows her to keep fighting group-to-group instead of waiting on Hide, Build Up, and Assassin Strike.

It is pretty basic “hit things with swords” play. Run up, maybe hit the AE attacks, and chop the enemies down in one to three swings.

In groups, it is much the same. Keep hitting things with swords. Use AE attacks to hit the minions, use single-target attacks on the boss. Ideally someone will have Kinetics, so that you have Speed Boost to power Focused Accuracy and Fulcrum Shift to let you slice through a stack of tanks. Scrappers are the loose cannons of teams, but what cannons they are.

Other Build Notes

Issue 9 did not mention in the patch notes that it was love for Super Reflexes, but it included Luck of the Gambler. Luck of the Gambler has a defense enhancement with a global 7.5% recharge buff. If you have enough defensive powers, you can slot five of these, giving you a 37.5% recharge boost. Add that to Hasten, which has a 70% recharge boost. Add that to Quicken, another 20%. Then you can get another 100% with recharge enhancements. Add in another 25% from IO set bonuses and you almost have perma-Hasten back. Add one purple set from Issue 11 and you do have it. At some point, you are no longer saving slots, but it is nice to get all your powers back now.

IOs

Sometime soon, Furious Badger will be my first completely IOed-out character. I have most of the Invention Origin Enhancements that I want for her, and I am patient in farming for the rest or buying them cheap. I have not played the character all that much since hitting 50, so maybe that is a mistake, but it will be an interesting experiment if nothing else.

That absurd recharge will be nice. Once I finish my sets of Scirocco and Mako, her ranged and AoE defense will be about 50%, and parrying does the same thing to her melee defense.

Issue 11 added ultra-rare IOs. I am not going to revise my Furious Badger plan, just as I did not revise Frosta much to take IOs into account. It could be fun to fill a character with those, but if I do, I will do it with someone else. It seems unlikely that I will farm enough to do it with two characters, and this one is almost done with rare IOs.

Conclusion

It is a good character with a tight build. Needing the entire secondary set removes some options, as was the case with De-Frosta. Her solo ability is excellent, though I could stand a bit more group-friendliness than Scrappers and Stalkers offer.

A nice thing about Super Reflexes is that I do not worry about it. Working out the build can be time-consuming, but once you have all your passives and toggles, you just run with them and get used to taking very little damage. There are occasions when I might want to turn off one toggle, but there are few enemy groups that will not mix all three kinds of attacks. Four passives (no thought), three toggles (no thought), clicky status protection (auto-power, no thought), and a panic button. The only time I need to worry about my defenses is if everything is going to pot, in which case I can hit the panic button and stop worrying for a few minutes. That lets me focus on my attacks, and hitting things with swords is what the Badger is all about.

: Zubon

Character Contemplations 1: Frosta
Character Contemplations 2: Zubon
Character Contemplations 3: Assimilation
Character Contemplations 4: De-Frosta
Character Contemplations 5: Fluffy Bunnies
Character Contemplations 6: Furious Badger
Character Contemplations 7: Sightblinder
Character Contemplations 8: Zapato Conqueso
Character Contemplations 9: 001