Behind the Mask: I put on my robe and wizard hat

The Grimoire is Champions Online's magic-using archetype, and it's one of the most functional archetypes overall. Many players, including me, consider it to be the most complete package of all the archetypes (free or otherwise), providing strong team support, offense, and defense all in one.

However, the Grimoire has a lot of quirks. He's not a blasty glass cannon, and leveling one up requires a lot of finesse and a totally different style of play. He lacks the ability to use easy damage attacks -- he can't draw a SMG or unleash mighty fire breath upon his foes. The Grimoire must approach battles much more tactically, especially in the early stages of the game.

The perfect offense and defense

The reason the Grimoire can't really blaze through enemies is that his main offense in the early game isn't an attack at all. Sigils of the Primal Storm deploys five temporary pets around the Grimoire in a star pattern, and the pets unleash deadly lightning on anything close by. These lightning bolts only have a 15-foot range from the sigils, making it very critical that tougher foes be positioned in the center of the formation. When enemies are struck by all five sigils at once, they fall extremely quickly.

The sigil stones have a reasonably long charge time that roots you in place, making them a perfect candidate for jousting. If you don't have Acrobatics, you'll have to move yourself into the enemy spawn and activate the sigils while under fire in order to get optimal coverage. That's not an ideal situation, but there are some alternatives.

Because Eldritch Blast has a 100-foot range, you can use it to corner-pull enemies into your sigil formation. Snipe one enemy with Eldritch Blast, then duck behind a corner and summon your sigils. Your foes will come to you, and they'll run right into your formation, where a smouldering death awaits them.

Once you have your sigils deployed, you'll generally want to block continuously untill your foes are defeated or the sigils expire. Once you have a heal, you can alternate between blocking and healing yourself. The Grimoire doesn't have a lot of other offense until he gets Skarn's Bane, so blocking keeps him safe and lowers incoming damage. If you pick up the Imbue With Power advantage for Eldritch Shield, it will also attack back with lightning bolts, giving you a little more damage while solo.

But I thought only clerics could heal...

The Grimoire gets two choices at level 17. Both of the two choices (Arcane Vitality and Vala's Light) are healing powers. This is his only chance to get a heal, so making the right decision is important.

Unfortunately, Arcane Vitality is pretty bad. It heals for poor amounts of health and is best suited as an area heal. It also heals less if it hits more than two allies. This would not generally be a big deal, but you almost always have allies on the field. Your five sigil stones count as allies, and if they are in the cone of effect, they will leech healing from friendly players.

Vala's Light is much better. It heals much less on a full charge than its charged heal competitor, Psionic Healing. However, it heals everything in a 15-foot sphere and doesn't decay if it hits a lot of friendlies. This is particularly nice in solo play, as you can heal yourself while also healing your sigils. If you rank up Vala's, it does reasonably well as a burst heal. It heals considerably less than a Seraphim healer's heals, so you want to charge it early and often in teams. Once you've deployed your sigils, use Vala's proactively to heal any significant damage that comes off of ally lifebars.

However, interestingly, this proactive healing style is much more suited to Arcane Vitality. Its heal per second is tremendously bad if it hits multiple allies and is terrible compared to Empathic Healing or Celestial Conduit. However, because it heals immediately once you start maintaining the power, it's good for topping off ally life bars.

Both heal choices are acceptable; using your heals in teams is more important than which heal you take. Both have a different feel, so I advise you experiment with both if you team a lot. If you don't team a lot, I'd take Vala's as it is the overall better choice.

Primal Rage, part two

I talked about Aura of Primal Majesty way back in April, and the power remains one of the top support passives in the game. Because the Grimoire has access to this monster of a passive, he is a solid team contributor even if he doesn't heal or activate his sigils. AoPM is honestly so good that a Grimoire just hanging out within 50 feet of his team is still worth his weight in gold.

The main benefits that are important to the Grimoire are increased CON (more HP), improved energy management (END and REC), and surprisingly, increased energy from blocking (from EGO). Because PRE has linear scaling, the Grimoire's already high super PRE gets buffed to sizable levels, making his heals pretty effective. While AoPM does improve his INT, it is almost irrelevant since INT has diminishing returns and he will probably gear up INT heavily. It's a good excuse to spread INT a little thin in order to boost END or possibly even EGO.

Although crits are not really a good idea for the Grimoire in the early game, Skarn's Bane changes this a lot. Once he hits 27, giving him DEX and EGO as sub-stats is a reasonable decision to boost the damage output of Skarn's. It's not too hard to have around 300 PRE and 250 INT along with 150-ish DEX and EGO, making crits a pretty viable alternative. It is probably safer to stick with his superstats, CON, END, and REC -- sacrificing points elsewhere makes the Grimoire pretty squishy.

More sigils?!

The final choice for the Grimoire comes with the Arcane and Ebon sigils. Because you really need the Primal sigils out constantly, you should get Mystic Transference for these sigils if you're planning on using them at all.

The Arcane sigils are generally the better choice, as the Ebon sigils have some strange interactions with threat and work best when stacked. The Arcane sigils give the Grimoire another explosive trap, but by this point he should be using Skarn's Bane as his main go-to damage, so neither set of sigils is particularly valuable when compared to the Primal sigils.

Advantages and ranks

The most important advantages to get are R3 Primal sigils, R3 AoPM, and R3 Skarn's Bane. From there, you have a lot of freedom.
  • Having a ranked heal is in general a good idea. You may consider the HoT advantage for Vala's -- the heal is somewhat weak and only applies on a full charge, but it does help keep allies up while you do other things.
  • The lightning advantage for Eldritch Shield is very nice while soloing, but it loses a lot of its value in teams where you're taking fewer hits. It's also obsolete once you get Skarn's.
  • Ranking up Eldritch Shield is also a decent idea; the Grimoire lacks damage reduction, so he may need to block more often if he comes under fire.
  • If you team regularly with a Devastator, another Heavy Weapons character, or a Telepath, Dizzying Impact (for Pillar of Poz) may be worth picking up. It is useful in general on bosses if your team doesn't have other methods of using Disorient.
  • Eldritch Blast deals decent single target damage, so ranking it early isn't a horrible idea. Because it has a 100 foot range, it is useful in some situations when Skarn's is not.
The Grimoire has a lot more options for his points because his value is condensed primarily in his two main attacks, his passive, and his heal. Feel free to experiment a lot with your advantages; as long as you rank up your three main powers (and probably your heal too), you can pretty much get whatever you like as advantages.

When he's not touring the streets of Millennium City or rolling mooks in Vibora Bay, Patrick Mackey goes Behind the Mask to bring you the nitty-gritty of the superhero world every Thursday. Whether it's expert analysis of Champions Online's game mechanics or his chronicled hatred of roleplaying vampires, Patrick holds nothing back.
This article was originally published on Massively.