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Dark Melee/Willpower Brute Guide

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Live Through This: The cheap and trashy guide to the Dark Melee / Willpower Brute

Willpower and Dark Melee work together like a thin slice of sharp Cheddar cheese on top of a piece of warm, fresh apple pie. Willpower is a solid defensive set that gives you the benefit of Stamina x 2 1/2, because Quick Recovery is one and a half times as good as Stamina. It has some issues, including alpha strike survivability and the need to be surrounded by mobs for best regeneration. It also lacks the self heal found in other defensive sets.

Dark Melee provides that self heal in your secondary. It is not a big burst damage primary. But Dark Melee also contains a toolbox of handy abilities that increase your survivability in other ways. You get a mag 3 immobilize and DoT as your tier 9. You get a single target Fear. You get a longer lasting Build Up that's an AoE and does damage. Your self heal does damage, and is up reasonably often. The two power sets just work well together.

Another advantage of the Dark Melee set is that it takes a lot of exotic enhancements outside of the normal melee ones. This guide is by no means a comprehensive guide to invention sets, but briefly mentions some of the more unusual ones you may wish to consider.

Active survivability is the watchword here. This build proposes that you wait until after both Quick Recovery and Stamina are in place before you take two defensive toggles, an approach I generally take with Willpower characters. You get a small to-hit debuff in Rise to the Challenge; you get larger ones in many of your attacks, with the largest weighing in with Touch of Fear. These stack. You can incapacitate a foe for a fairly long time with Touch of Fear; for a shorter time, with Air Superiority. You can immobilize an enemy with Midnight Grasp. And you can heal yourself with Siphon Life.

The bottom line is, unless they kill you almost immediately, you're probably going to live through this. And they won't.

At any rate, these are the powers of the two sets, and the pool powers, I recommend:

Level 1 - Shadow Punch

  • "It stands for knife"

You definitely want this fast tier 1 attack.

Target slots: 6 Slotting priorities: Accuracy, Damage, Recharge, Endurance, in roughly that order.

Cheap stuff:

All of your attacks take To Hit Debuff and Taunt enhancements as well as melee damage enhancements. These are sets that are in relatively low demand. You can also get Recharge and Endurance buttons from the To Hit Debuff sets. And guess what! 2 "Dark Watcher's Despair" buys you a 1.5% hit point buff! Use two of these, and four of your favorite melee damage sets, or just straight IO's and SO's for the balance.

You may ultimately want to put a damage proc in this, although all of those are costly. Dark Watcher's gives you a slow debuff on your target. Perfect Zinger has a chance for psi damage. Triumphant Insult: chance to disorient. Deflated Ego: chance for recovery debuff. All of these buttons are options in addition to the ones you find in the single target melee sets.

Level 1 - High Pain Tolerance

  • "Some day you will ache like I ache"

You don't have the choice of Mind over Body at level 1. Which is for the best: you don't want it until later, anyway. Why eat your endurance with a toggle?

Target slots: 3+ Slotting priorities: Heal. Damage resistance is a distant second

Three slot this for Heal. Damage resistance slots are very optional. Base resistance is 5.63%, and you can get just over half that again by slotting damage resistance. Not the best choice for scarce slots.

Cheap stuff:

The Healing invention sets tend to be coveted. So are the Damage Resistance sets. Their acquisition is not a priority unless you are a very lucky girl.

Level 2 - Smite

  • "I'm Miss World, somebody kill me"

You also want the tier 2 attack. This is much faster than the tier 3, does less damage, but does not lock you into a 3 second animation.

Target slots: 6 Slotting priorities: Accuracy, Damage, Recharge, Endurance, in roughly that order.

Recharge is a slightly higher priority with this attack than with Shadow Punch.

Cheap stuff:

See Shadow Punch.

Level 4 - Fast Healing

  • "I'm stupid, I'm smarting"

Target slots: 3 Slotting priorities: Heal

ED caps your max benefit at 3 slots. You want all 3 of them obviously, this is your basic, passive, health regeneration.

Cheap stuff:

Healing invention sets are expensive, and this guide is for cheap trash like us.

Level 6 - Air Superiority

  • "She walks over me"

As far as I am concerned, any melee character really needs good reasons to take another travel power than Fly. This is especially true redside, where Super Speed is just broken, and only taken by PvPers - and we don't PvP either: we're melee, we're not stalkers, and we need Fury for damage.

This attack gives you solid mitigation with its near certain knockdown. The damage it does is not inconsiderable, but that's just the cherry on top.

Target slots: 6 Slotting priorities: Accuracy, Recharge, Endurance, Damage

I like to emphasize accuracy and recharge in Air Superiority. Its chief purpose in your build is for mitigation and control, so you will be using it often. Teamed, you may often be cycling between mobs and keeping them on their backs. If you slot for recharge, you will also want some endurance reduction in there as well. These first three attacks will become the core of your attack chain; the remaining attacks are situational, except for Boxing.

Cheap stuff:

This only takes single target melee damage sets.

Level 8 - Swift

  • "No babies sleep on atrophy"

Puts you in the running for Stamina. Improves Fly slightly. Helps you in taking point.

Target slots: 1, maybe 2 Slotting priorities: Running speed

Cheap stuff:

Does not take.

Level 10 - Indomitable Will

  • "Just you try to hold me down"

This is your mez protection. Get it as soon as you can. It also can be slotted for psionic defense. This is not a priority until late in the game, and not a large priority then, in my opinion. Slot it when you have the slots to spare.

Target slots: 1-4 Slotting priorities: Endurance reduction (high); defense (low, later), recharge (low)

Cheap stuff:

Any of the defense/endurance inventions would be good here. All of the defense sets have one. Slot whichever drops.

If you slot any toggles for recharge, this is the one to slot for it.

Level 12 - Siphon Life

  • "Alive, but just barely"

This attack is key to the Dark Melee and Willpower synergy. It's a self heal that has to hit a mob to work, like the Kinetic heal. It also does damage! And it has a reasonable recharge, base is 15 seconds. The heal is around 10% of your hit points unslotted.

Target slots: 5-6 Slotting priorities: Accuracy, Recharge, Heal

Cheap stuff:

The Heal sets are expensive. But most of them contain Heal/Recharge buttons. Frankenslot a couple of those in here and you can devote the rest to Accuracy.

Level 14 - Fly

  • "I'm so high I cannot walk"

Your travel power. You could postpone this. I've been playing long enough that level 14 equals travel power, always, for me.

Target slots: 1-2 Slotting priorities: Flight speed

Cheap stuff:

Save up for the Freebird Stealth proc button if you want to play Grandville. Fortunately, villains now have alternatives.

Level 16 - Rise to the Challenge

  • "Was she asking for it? Was she asking nice?"

A key power in the Willpower secondary, this one adds substantially to your regeneration.

Target slots: 4-6 Slotting priorities: Heal, Endurance Reduction, Taunt(?)

You may or may not want to slot Taunts in this. 2 Taunt IO's will guarantee that the taunt in this power will overlap its very short duration on +3 boss enemies. If you tank for teams, this may be worth your while. Otherwise, not so much.

Cheap stuff:

Note that this does not accept Taunt sets, which otherwise would be quite attractive here.

Level 18 - Health

  • "Your milk turns to cream"

See Fast Healing, level 2

Level 20 - Quick Recovery

  • "I want to be the girl with the most cake"

This is the reason you rolled a Willpower brute.

Target slots: 3-4 Slotting priorities: Endurance recovery

Cheap stuff:

If you're lucky enough to get the Performance Shifter Chance for Endurance, you may consider adding another slot to either this or Stamina.

Level 22 - Stamina

  • "Go on, take everything, I want you to"

Yes, you want this too. And yes, you want this now.

Target slots: 3-4 Slotting priorities: Endurance recovery

Cheap stuff:

See Quick Recovery, level 20

Level 24 - Mind Over Body

  • "I've got a blister from touching everything I see"

Now, and not before now, we take armors that improve defenses passively and cost endurance.

Target slots: 3-4 Slotting priorities: Damage Resistance, Endurance Reduction

Cheap stuff:

If you are rich, use one of the sets that improve maximum hit points or regeneration. Impervious Skin and Titanium Coating are good.

Level 26 - Soul Drain

  • "The abyss opens up, it steals everything from me"

This is one of the handiest Build Up style powers in the game. It must hit mobs to do anything. It lasts for 30 seconds. And its power increases with the number of mobs it hits. It is useful if you need to tank a little, as an opening AoE. It has a very long recharge. It also does some relatively minor damage.

Target slots: 4-6 Slotting priorities: Accuracy, Recharge, To Hit Buff

Cheap stuff:

The Gaussian's Synchronized Fire Control set offers a valuable hit point bonus and movement bonuses for this power.

Level 28 - Touch of Fear

  • "You're gutless"

This attack does a mag 3 fear on a single melee target. Very handy. It deals no damage, but can mitigate a lot of damage.

Target slots: 4-5 Slotting priorities: Accuracy, Recharge, Fear Duration

Cheap stuff:

The Fear sets are usually fairly inexpensive, and do exactly what you want in the power. Glimpse of the Abyss is highly recommended, for accuracy bonuses, hit point bonuses, and bonuses for recharge time at 5.

Level 30 - Heightened Senses

  • "I fake it so real I am beyond fake"

Your second passive defensive toggle, this provides defense against exotic attacks.

Target slots: 3-5 Slotting priorities: Defense, endurance reduction

Cheap stuff:

Defensive sets are costly. Serendipity is a low level set that provides bonuses to regeneration and hit points, and tends to be slightly less expensive than many.

Level 32 - Midnight Grasp

  • "You can try to suck me dry, but there's nothing left to suck"

Your tier 9 attack is a single target hold. With tentacles! Tentacles are good.

It does fair initial damage, and much damage over time. As a power, it tends to be rather situational, but it is useful when you want to beat down more than one enemy at once, or deal with a runner or range attacker while being tied down in melee. It immobilizes, but does not incapacitate, its single target foe; for incapacitating an enemy, use Touch of Fear or Air Superiority. Neither of those powers do this much damage, though.

Target slots: 6 Slotting priorities: Accuracy, damage, recharge, hold

Cheap stuff:

This takes Hold sets, which are often less expensive. Four Trap of the Hunter gets you a hit point bonus and a general bonus to accuracy.

Level 35 - Boxing

  • "With a bullet, number one, kill the family, save the son"

I imagine you will want Tough and perhaps Weave here.

Target slots: 1-3 Slotting priorities: Accuracy, damage

Cheap stuff:

This takes Stun sets. Three of the Stupefy set wins you recovery bonuses and hit point bonuses.

Level 38 - Strength of Will

  • "Watch me break and watch me burn"

This tier 9 of the Willpower secondary adds to your resistance and defenses for 60 seconds, and has an endurance crash when it wears off. Useful to take alpha strikes with if you need to do that.

Target slots:2-3 Slotting priorities: Damage resistance

Cheap stuff:

see Mind over Body, level 24

Level 41 - Tough

  • "I shut my mouth with glue"

A small but worthwhile boost to your smashing and lethal resistance.

Target slots: 3-4 Slotting priorities: Damage resistance, endurance reduction

Cheap stuff:

see Mind over Body, level 24

Paths not taken

At this point, you should no longer need a build guide, and the powers you take after here are optional. Some of the stuff we skipped might be considered:

Shadow Maul, available at level 2. I did not take it because it locks you into a 3 second animation, which is hard to take when it misses. It does solid damage, but is not that good for Brutes because it contributes relatively less to Fury building

Taunt, available at level 12. Brutes are not tankers. But take this if you want to become the aggro magnet for team utility.

Dark Consumption, available at level 18. This is a very slow recharging AoE attack that drains enemy endurance and restores it to you. Since you shouldn't have serious endurance issues on this character, it is useful mostly if you want a second AoE.

Resurgence, available at level 35. This build is based on high survivability to begin with, and as such a self-rez is less than ideally useful to you, in my opinion.

You have one open power pool and a patron power pool open under this guide. Hasten is useful in this build. So are some of the AoE attacks from the patron power sets. You can also consider Taunt for team utility. Or something else entirely.

The build:

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