My first level-capped hero was Frosta. It is the same character I made in beta, when my wife said I should name her after a She-Ra character. (I am far enough away from the namesake to be safe.) After playing a War Mace Tanker for a while, it was nice to have some real damage. At the time, I was in a supergroup with an Earth Controller named Heaven’s Hold, and I usually had someone keeping the enemies pacified. That makes it much easier to freeze the Hellions.
I played carefully to see as much content as possible. Whenever possible, Frosta completed every story arc available. I was quite bitter about the arcs that were bugged, but Issue 11’s Ouroboros will let me get back to them. This meant a fair amount of time soloing, which let me get through all the arcs without out-leveling them running others’ missions in teams. Conveniently, almost everyone from that original supergroup quit a couple of months in, leaving me lots of solo time.
Blasters soloed well. Still do, although I fared better before rebalancing. Without really trying, I picked the primary with the best survivability and one of the two really good Blaster secondaries.
Ice Blast comes with two holds, one of which used to have an absurdly long activation time (now just long). This means I could keep a boss locked down permanently, or I could keep annoying lieutenants from doing anything while I finished off the minions. The lieutenants, you see, are where the annoying support powers are, but one hold will freeze them for more than long enough.
As a trade-off, Ice Blast has weak area effect damage. While most Blaster primaries have a cone and a burst, Ice Blast has only the cone. Instead, it has the best single-target DPS, with very fast animations. I shoot down minions as fast as I can hit 4-3-2. No snipe, but who cares?
Ice Blast also comes with two rain powers: location-based damage-over-time powers. No one likes those, because they make the enemies run around. It is no good when your power only does half damage and the enemies are too spread for further AE attacks, meanwhile your tank who is on /follow gets dragged into the next mob. The tier 9 nuke, Blizzard, is that on crack, with knockdown to keep them from running around.
Blizzard used to be the worst nuke, since it was a big DoT that was not buffable. You lose all your endurance, and you watch and hope that the enemies run out of hit points before smacking you down, since they all really hate you for the hail. Blizzard is much better now. It benefits from damage buffs, and it took the least nerfage from the target cap. Blasters were really sexy when area effect attacks hit everything in the area, no matter how many targets you crammed in; without collision detection, you could get every enemy in an instance into a tight group. BOOM. Then a target cap was added, so you could only affect about a dozen. This made a location-based DoT much more valuable: as the first dozen drop, the next dozen start taking damage. Blizzard hits the loophole that a power only affects so many targets at a time.
Devices, however, has been hit the hardest by nerfs over time. It used to be ridiculously powerful, now just very strong. This has come as a result of various bug fixes, intentional nerfs, and gamewide rebalancing changes.
Take Caltrops, for example. Caltrops are popular in many games: you throw sharp things on the ground, they hurt and slow people down. Like the icy rain, it made people run out, but they ran pretty slowly with spikes in their feet. When the game launched, you could enhance the slow effect cheaply to make it an immobilize. The enemies still moved, but too slowly to escape the area of effect before the power expired. Then they added a cap to slow debuffs, and you probably dropped Caltrops.
But what else were you going to take? The other low-level Devices were lousy. Web Grenade was your forced level one power, a single-target immobilize with no damage. The attack speed debuff was meh, although the -fly/jump debuff became very valuable with PvP. Your other Device was a Taser. Taser was so poor that I still hold a grudge against the improved version. It was not a taser: it was a stun gun. It was a melee-range disorient power with low magnitude and almost no damage. Yes, send the wizard into melee to stun one weak target for a little while.
Devices also had problems in the late levels. Time Bomb sounds nice, and it does a lot of damage, but it is a time bomb. Set it, count to 15, and it blows up. That explosion does a lot of damage, but the power is interruptible, and there is no way to make it go off early. Can you time exactly when the enemies will be on that spot? Can you get your teammates to wait 15 seconds to start a fight that usually lasts about 15 seconds? At least the recharge time was too long to use it very often.
But we got a pet! A useless, lousy pet, but maybe it could serve as a distraction, sometimes, maybe, probably not. Auto Turret is again just what it sounds like, but a weak, low-damage, immobile pet is not useful in City of Heroes. You cannot even teleport it around with you anymore, which at least made it interesting.
I have just whined about half of the powers, and I called it “ridiculously powerful”? Oh yes, because the mid-levels are where it shined. You got great powers and you had them for most of your career. These were also the powers hurt most by assorted nerfs.
Frosta’s Targeting Drone is named Snowflake. It is a hovering to-hit buff, which differs from an accuracy buff by some math I never bothered to re-learn after they changed it. It just meant that you did not miss. You slotted all of your attacks with pure damage, and that made up for not having Build Up. I still forget to take and use Aim and Build Up on characters, since I got into the habit of just having the Drone out. When PvP was added, the Drone also let you see through stealth. Very handy.
Cloaking Device is half-invisibility, with a defense boost and no movement penalty. Since Super Speed was the other half of invisibility, I could go use that Time Bomb if I wanted to. Walk invisibly into the enemies’ midst, plant a bomb, and cackle as they ask, “What is that mysterious ticking noise?”
Smoke Grenade is also half-invisibility, in case you did not have Super Speed. You throw it at the enemy, it blinds them enough for you to go plant bombs. It also included an accuracy (to hit?) debuff, one that had a decimal place error when the game went live, so it was more like 50% than 5%. I never knew I was supposed to get hit that often.
Finally, we have my best friend in the game, Trip Mine. Mmmm, Trip Mine. My best attack was a land mine, which is particularly attractive when you can invisibly plant it at your enemies’ feet. There are groups of evil mystics performing rituals in Founder’s Falls, and I spent hours just running down the river planting mines beneath them. It was a joy to watch the robed villains fly.
Now put all these together on one group of enemies. Targeting Drone and Cloaking Device on; toss the Smoke Grenade; plant a Trip Mine three feet away, plant a Time Bomb in the center of them, count to 11, and plant a Trip Mine in the center of them; sprint past that outer Trip Mine and throw Caltrops as the Bomb and Mine go off at the same time, followed by Ice Storm and Blizzard. If anything survives and can run towards you, the last Trip Mine will get it, or pop a blue inspiration and shoot it down.
With old Hami-Os, you could have Trip Mines fully slotted for both accuracy and damage. Those things never missed and one-shotted groups of oranges. More Circle of Thorns in Founder’s Falls! I got friends to exemplar me so I could run around and keep blowing them up productively.
We hunted masses of enemies because the Tankers did not have aggro caps. They could herd the entire map, and they could survive doing so with few if any buffs. An interesting detail is that mines would self-destruct if you got too far away, but would just go dormant if you were slightly closer. I could set a dozen mines, wander over the hill, let the Tanker herd a hundred werewolves onto the mines, then zoom back so they would all detonate at once. We got many levels that way. We just waited for the error message to pop up, saying too many effects went off at once. It was sick, wrong, and great fun.
Then came changes. Was the slow cap first? It changed a lot of strategies. You would think that Controllers would pick up the slack using real AE immobilizes, but a low-level AE immobilize is a death trap. Do you want to be the squishy character intentionally aggroing ten things? That Defender can only heal so quickly, and it feels like a one-shot when you get shot ten times at once.
Smoke Grenade was auto-hit, but it was given a to-hit roll. We started slotting accuracy into it and throwing it multiple times so that it hit everyone. This is when we discovered two things. First, the value was set too high, so enemies could not hit us. Second, it was never set to not stack with itself, so enemies really could not hit us. Those were both fixed. Later, Smoke Grenade gained aggro. Think about that one: blinding the enemy lets them know where you are. This let your half-stealthed friends rush in, but you were laying Trip Mines a ways out. I dropped the power.
I should note at this point that I may have some specifics wrong. These are my memories of three years’ of play. My perceptions are of course skewed, and if I only learned enough about some things to know “bad.” Once you know a power is not worth taking, the specific degree of lousiness is not important.
Targeting Drone still does what it always has, with the bonus anti-stealth. The problem here comes from Enhancement Diversification. When we cannot fully slot the Drone with to-hit buff enhancements, it no longer does as much work as it used to. We still need to slot attacks with accuracy, and we cannot six-slot attacks with damage anymore anyway. Well, that removed the whole point of the power (to us). And we still do not have Build Up.
Cloaking Device only got better. To make up for the previous paragraph, Cloaking Device got a damage buff. With Invention Origin Enhancements, Cloaking Device can protect you from being knocked down and make all your attacks come back faster. Cloaking Device rules.
Trip Mines were another victim of Enhancement Diversification. You usually get only one shot with a mine (surprise surprise), so if you do not kill the target, you have not gained much by spending the long activation time. I can still two-shot minions with Trip Mine and Frost Breath, so that is nice.
Taser got some range and another boost or two. Go Taser. Caltrops are nice in PvP to keep invisible enemies from sneaking up on you. Trip Mines are super fun in PvP when combined with Teleport Foe. Minefield, anyone?
Frosta has indulged in travel powers. This is my Blaster girl, and she is going to fly, gol’darnit. To complement Cloaking Device, howerver, I also have Super Speed; everyone took Hasten back when it was perma-Hasten anyway. I slotted Super Speed to hit the movement cap, which is just irrationally fast. Since I have all that, I also picked up Recall Friend to help less mobile allies. I have an invisible flying taxi.
And Fitness. Before Enhancement Diversification, those were just assumed: you took Stamina and Hasten. Despite Stamina, I had endurance issues, although I cannot recall if that was the case pre-ED. I think so. Since Issue 9, however, I have given Frosta a few unique IOs to improve her endurance recovery. Now she has no problems.
I have tried three of the ancillary power pools, and I am currently using Personal Force Field, Temporary Invulnerability, and Force of Nature. At least, I am in theory, but I rarely have need to them. Two of those are panic buttons, and the other is a toggle that either I do not need or else I will get held/stunned/slept/disoriented/end-drained out of. I am working on the “damage taken” badge anyway.
The short activation times are key for me. Frosta does a lot of single target damage, very quickly. I use those short activation times to keep a constant flurry of damage going at whatever target I can, mixed with Freeze Rays when I have a pause. I say that I always play as if I have Adrenalin Boost (massive health and endurance recovery with recharge buff), just in case. Now, with Issue 9 enhancements, I always do.
The other great joy is playing with Mines. My favorite way to start a fight is with an invisible Trip Mine. Against little guys, follow it with a Frost Breath then check for survivors. Against bosses, follow it with Bitter Freeze Ray and Freeze Ray. The boss is now an ice cube, so hit him at will.
In case either Freeze Ray misses, I have “chance to hold” enhancements in my attacks. I am the highest damage Controller around.
Other Build Notes
Frosta was my Hamidon raider for a long while. This included back when you could get more than one Hami-O per raid, so she has a Hami-O in any power where it could be useful. I have mentioned a few Invention Origin Enhancements, but that is almost all of them: instead of switching her over to set bonuses, I have continued to use Hami-Os, dozens of them.
All Blasters get Defiance as a free inherent power. It is almost completely useless. I am looking forward to its being replaced.
Frosta is my badge hunter. As I type this, she has 441 badges, with perhaps 10 to 20 that she could sanely acquire. She cannot get all of them, because I have enough unsubscribed time to miss some Veteran badges, but I have enough to frighten most of my teammates. Without these, I would probably have an additional level-capped character or two.
Because of the badges, if you can have an accolade toy, she has it. I have been using the Field Crafter portable crafting bench to help me work on Fabricator, the insane badge requiring 10,000 crafts. It is the only Issue 9 badge I am missing, out of >60.
As my original main character, Frosta is the standard against which I judge all other characters. I have guildmates who refer to me as Frosta on whatever character I play.
She solos very well, although I do not enjoy doing so at the higher difficulty levels. If I get a purple Master Illusionist, it will not be fun. I enjoy being being the wind that zips by enemies as I go straight to their leader’s throat. I like being able to take out groups of enemies quickly.
In groups, I like being able to ignore everything except destruction. I have someone backing me up, so I do not worry about my hit points much. City of Heroes taunts are 100% effective: you cannot over-nuke and pull aggro from a Tanker using Taunt, so just go nuts. The only pause in all this is to use holds on any target that amuses or annoys me. I need a second for my attack chain to recharge, so let’s lock down that fanged eyeball before it threatens my orgy of violence.
Fast on the move, fast on the attack, and very flexible with good AE damage, great single-target damage, single-target control, and moderate survivability. Frosta is a great character that I have enjoyed playing for three years. I recommend Ice Blast/Devices to everyone.
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