This is NOT a full 1-80 build. Please do not comment below saying "Y U NO INCLUDE 80" because you will get insulted so hard, your great-grandmother will be shaking her head at you for the next five centuries.
Also, please note that I am NOT an expert on this class nor FW in general. I've barely graduated noob-ness (I've been playing FW for roughly 45 days now, this toon for only 35), but I wanted to share my advice and experiences on Marksmen with the people who need it most.
Although I am providing a "cookie-cutter" build, classes are in FW are not always meant to be played this way. Please read the talent tree and place points into the skills *you* use most often.
I am currently on a semi-hiatus from the game (Lionheart Server) and thought I'd share what I've learned before I take a long break and forget it all. Right now, I am level 73 with 6/12 on all gears, and *very* few gems (I do have two Ragefire IIs and one Solarflare II). No cash-shopping for me, thank you.
Being on a PvE server, I was naturally inclined to pick a class with lots of PvE capabilities, and I first started out as a Pure Burst Marksman, following Axym's build (which can be found here
). It was incredibly difficult pre-55, especially in instances where often I'd mob up too many trash monsters and die trying to pathetically AoE them all to death. Not only that, it was very mana-intensive, and I'd waste stacks of potions spamming AoE skills. At the same time, I wasn't very happy with my solo PvE damage, as the best I had was a Mind Flaying Bullet with 10-second cooldown, and my Hunter's Mark wasn't debuffing bosses very well.
Around level 60, I ran across IMBALANZE's "4th tree" (which can be found here
), and decided to give that a go. I was instantly hooked on both the great AoE damage as well as the evasion and defense debuffs on single targets, but decided to make a few changes based on how I played my character.
Currently, after upgrading to the latest early-70s gear and fortifying/gemming them to half-assed levels, I have around 14k HP unbuffed, and about 2k maximum damage, which means I can survive in FP (70+ instance) and AoE trash mobs pretty effectively in all instances. I've pulled aggro from mages and other marksmen quite frequently (to my dismay), and can quickly solo mentor God's Trial, spending roughly 2:45 on each tower. I'm still a bit disappointed with my solo damage, but that should improve once I get better gear and hit 80 (not to mention I'll have better survivability too).
I've included my opinions on relevant Marksmen skills and talents below, as well as a "cookie-cutter" build for those who are truly lost and confused in this game, like I was.
This build is meant to be a suggestion, not an answer, and is not always the correct way to play the game.
Please read the talent tree and place points into the skills *you* use most often.
Once again, I'd like to thank both Axym and IMBALANZE for giving me some guidance early on. Hopefully this guide helps those who don't quite know where to begin, or for those who just want to try something new.
I am STRONGLY recommending new players to start off as Precision Marksmen, due to the fact that, at lower levels, Burst Marksmen just don't have enough survivability to AoE effectively, and end up either dying or running around screaming like an idiot.
(Precision - Solid Shot Lv. 0-5)
Fire at Will is one of the most-used skills for any Marksman, and this neat little damage boost gives it some extra killing power early on, as well as . The other alternative, Weakpoint Tag, doesn't really do much besides make bosses slightly
easier to take down, which isn't too much condolence during your early 20s, which mostly consists of questing and killing standard mobs.
(Precision - Swift Soul Trap Lv. 0-5)
Definitely one of my favorite talents out of the entire Precision tree. It takes Mind Flaying Bullet, which normally has a 10-second cooldown, and reduces it to 5 seconds (when maxed). With only a 1-second cast time and ridiculous bonus damage, MFB will be one of your most-used single-target skills, especially later on, and the extra damage boost provided by this talent isn't too shabby either. Not only this, but using MFB more often allows you to activate Soul Catching more often, generating those precious Soul Bullets for even more damage down the line.
(Precision - Aimed Shot Lv. 0-1)
Going Precision tree for now means that you need to max out your single-target PvE capabilities. Aimed Shot provides a second, foolproof way to knockback an enemy (don't forget Soul Snipe, which is only effective on enemies with 40% health or more), making it extremely difficult for it to close in on you. Solo PvE gets MUCH easier with this skill. With its 2-second cast time though, it's not really any good for boss battles or instances. Don't spam this skill just for the bleed effect either, the damage is really quite pathetic.
(Precision - Soul Preservation Lv. 0-4)
By level 35, you should be able to easily spam Fire at Will without worrying too much about your mana, and during Soul Catching, it will cost you nearly zero mana, while also generating a Soul Bullet AND increasing Crit Chance by 10%. Unless Fire at Will is on cooldown, normal attacks are pretty outdated from this point on. The other option, Earth Infusion, doesn't provide a great damage boost at this level, and I recommend skipping that talent for now.
(Precision - Weakpoint Tag Lv. 0-4) OR (Precision - Precise Aiming Lv. 0-4)
Here, you have two options. Weakpoint Tag will be helpful not only to you, but also to your party in taking down bosses or pesky single targets, as it decreases defense by quite a bit. If you prefer going toe-to-toe with standard mobs, though, putting points in Precise Aiming will come in handy when you're out of Soul Bullets and can't rely on its 100% knockback rate during Crack Shot Time. The bonus Crit Chance is decent, but the 2-second cast time really hampers the skill's spammability in most situations. The other option, Iron Mind, is simply a sinkhole for your talent points and is pretty much useless in most situations.
My personal preference here is to go Weakpoint Tag 4.
(Precision - Weakpoint Tag Lv. 4-5)
The best use of your point here.
(Precision - Target Practice Lv. 0-4)
Upgrading Fire at Will even further, this grants a 10-second debuff that reduces the target's defense by 100 (when maxed), which is helpful in both solo and team situations. Note that as your level increases, and mobs have more defense, this debuff becomes less and less effective, but it's still an incredibly helpful add-on to a skill that you should be using almost constantly.
(Precision - Full Analysis Lv. 0-1)
Lots of options here (I'm not even going to list them all), but my best recommendation would be Full Analysis. Even more helpful than Weakpoint Tag (as it decreases ALL resistances), the -20 drop equals roughly a 0.2% damage increase for your entire party, which doesn't sound like much, but for those big bad bosses, it could shave a few seconds off at the end.
WHY NOT CHOKING CLOUD?
Choking Cloud seems like a good talent, and Weakening Cloud seems like a good skill. However, it has a ridiculous cooldown (300 seconds), which means it's rather ineffective in PvE and only marginally effective in 1v1 and 3v3. Only in GvG does it truly shine, but once people are killed, respawn, and go back to fighting in tight clusters, your cooldown probably wouldn't have even elapsed halfway. Choking Cloud, therefore, is made pretty useless, as 30 seconds is a substantial amount of time, but not effective enough to make Weakening Cloud a worthy skill to be wasting points. If you think otherwise, then feel free to substitute points into Choking Cloud for now (remember that we'll be using a Talent Compass around level 60, resetting most of these points).
WHY NOT AIMED SHOT?
I find the primary purpose of using Aimed Shot to be its knockback effect (especially during Crack Shot Time). Upgrading it to Lv. 2, 3, or 4 will not increase its knockback amount or its proc chance, only its damage, which is barely comparable to Mind Flaying Bullet. Also, it doesn't work on almost all bosses, making it a waste of a 2-second cast while keeping mana costs low for solo PvE.
(Precision - Soulforce Return Lv. 0-3)
Seeing as you generate Soul Bullets pretty often with the reduced cooldown on Mind Flaying Bullet and the increased effectiveness of Fire at Will, recovering some mana wouldn't hurt!
A talent that many people overlook is (Soul - Art of Reloading). This reduces the cooldown of Quick Reloading by 15 seconds when maxed (down from 90 seconds to 75 seconds), and when combined with Soulforce Return and Relaxation, allows you to heal up pretty easily even in the middle of battle, saving lots of potions. I'm not including it in this tree, but it is included in my Hybrid Burst/Precision tree.
(Precision - Pulse Precision Lv. 0-2)
Pulse Shot is one of the few Marksman CCs, but the only downside of it is its minimum range. This talent allows you to cast it point-blank, while you either Fast Action away from a closing PvP enemy or move to a safer location. In addition, it increases its maximum range, allowing you to hold enemies in place from a longer distance. (Note that it doesn't increase the maximum range of your other skills, though.)
(Precision - Burst Fire Lv. 0-3)
Did I mention that Fire at Will now has a chance to reset all of your Earth skills' cooldowns? Even more reason to spam this skill like crazy!
(Precision - Contact Lv. 0-2) OR (Precision - Earth Infusion Lv. 0-2) OR (Precision - Full Analysis Lv. 1-3)
All three of these talents provide a small damage boost, but in different situations: Full Analysis for solo PvE and bosses, Earth Infusion for spamming Earth skills, and Contact for all attacks.
I personally would go Full Analysis here, as I enjoy boss fights, and the resistance decrease is more than helpful for your entire party.
(Precision - Encourage Lv. 0-1)
Marksmen naturally have tons of accuracy, so this skill provides a must-have damage boost to your party. Be careful though--combined with your skills, it does have a tendency to sap mana pretty quickly if you aren't careful on potions and Soul Bullet regeneration.
(Precision - Contact Lv. 0-3) OR (Precision - Relaxation Lv. 0-3) OR (Soul - Art of Reloading Lv. 0-3)
Again, your choice of talents for your favorite situations. Relaxation for HP regeneration, Art of Reloading for faster mana regeneration, and Contact for all other attacking scenarios.
We're right around the point where you can either decide to go Pure Precision or switch over to Hybrid Burst/Precision. You also have quite a multitude of talents to pick from--so many that I'm not going to list them all. This is where my Precision build stops, and my Hybrid build begins.