Behind the Mask: Comparing the archetype bruisers

A lot of people seem to get the wrong idea about Champions Online's Gold archetypes. For the most part, the Gold archetypes are simply different options to play with. As I mentioned previously, the Master is kind of an exception, since it's the only dedicated archetype tank. However, this does not mean that the Master is the beat-all-end-all or that Gold archetypes are outright superior to Silver ones. For the most part, the Silver archetypes are better at their focused roles than the comparable Gold archetypes.

This week, we're going to look at the damage-soaking tanky archetypes and compare them. I'll also give a quick comparison between these bruisers and a comparable freeform hero. There's quite a few to cover, so let's get to it!

The Master

I covered him already, so we don't need to go into deeply into what the Master does. He's the only Archetype tank, due to the synergy between his dodge abilities, Bountiful Chi Resurgence, and Form of the Master. He has a good AoE taunt and several good options for a single target taunt. He has a lunge to close distance and does good single target damage.

The Master's primary weakness over a freeform tank is the lack of an active defense. He could also use Inertial Dampening Field and a better block (such as Energy Shield or Ebon Void) in order to help reduce damage in other ways. He could also simply skip his block power and put the selection to use elsewhere. However, the biggest issue is the lack of an active defense. Masterful Dodge and Unbreakable give tremendous amounts of staying power in the initial stages of a tough battle. The lack of an active defense means that the Master may want someone else to initiate battles and absorb the initial alpha strike. This is a pretty big weakness.

The Behemoth

I've gone over my hate for the Behemoth more in recent weeks, and while I still dislike the AT tremendously, it does provide a very important team role. The Behemoth is the best off-tank Archetype, due to its Protector role and superior single target taunting. Defensive Combo is the highest threat attack in the game when paired with Challenging Strikes, which allows the Behemoth to pull high value threats off squishy teammates. This is a big deal when fighting Enforcers in large spawns.

Outside of that, the Behemoth shells out a lot of Crushing damage. His single-target DPS is comparable to the Master's, but he also has Demolish for reducing the resistance of tough enemies. Thus, the Behemoth also amplifies the physical damage his team deals while shelling out quite a bit himself. He's very reliant on stacking Enrage to keep his damage high, but this is not a huge weakness.

His main weakness is a lack of AoE taunting. Both Thunderclap and Shockwave are poor excuses for AoE taunts and should not be used as such. Most Behemoth players I know skip Thunderclap for Roomsweeper in order to build Enrage faster. This is probably a good bet. The Behemoth does have an active defense, but Defiance builds slowly, which necessitates using Unbreakable pretty much every fight if he is tanking. Even if he manages to play the tanking role, he is terrible at generating AoE threat.

He also lacks heals, and since he cannot hold AoE aggro, getting outside healing can be disastrous for your healer. Overall, he has simply too many hurdles to overcome to be a tank. As a single target damage dealer and off-tank, he performs pretty well. Adding a heal would be the only major recommendation for him to really excel at his job. Even as an offtank, he relies on healer support in teams. He could also use more AoE damage, as his is quite poor.

The Glacier

The Glacier is a weird Archetype because I don't feel it has a very good role in teams. I personally think that the Glacier and the Master should be switched, with the Glacier becoming Gold and the Master becoming Silver.

The Glacier is a very good AoE tank due to Frost Breath. He cannot generate anywhere near as much single target threat as the Behemoth or Master, but he can do so from great distances. It is a pretty big deal; the Glacier cannot pull aggro off of a strong DPS teammate very well. Like the Behemoth, he lacks healing and is reliant on healer support to function as a tank. This makes him a pretty awful tank. He does have an active defense, but like the Behemoth, if he takes an alpha strike, he will most likely still need to be healed quickly. His Invulnerability makes him somewhat better for general AoE tanking, but again, the lack of healing hurts a lot.

The Glacier deals moderate to strong AoE DPS. His damage is not ramped up by Focus or Enrage, and thus it is somewhat weaker than most AoE damage dealers. It is respectable, and the Glacier has the added advantage of applying Chill and perception debuffs (if Snow Storm is selected).

The Glacier's main weakness is a heal, and with the simple addition of Bionic Shielding, he would be a reasonably good tank, though not incredible. Overall, he does not excel at anything, but he is reasonably good at both surviving and dealing AoE damage, which few archetypes do. His ST damage is also decent if he uses Hard Frost with Ice Blast. Again, he is not a bad AT, but he does not excel in any particular area.

The Savage

The first Gold archetype to be released, the Savage combines slashing melee attacks and self-healing through his Regeneration passive. He gets his real damage element (Aspect of the Bestial) very late, making his damage throughout the game sort of lackluster.

As an offtank, he is not a very good choice. Shred generates threat slowly, and he is also limited by the lack of a Protector role. He has poor AoE damage as well. His ST damage is good once he hits level 40, but in the meantime he has 39 levels during which the Behemoth outclasses him. Shred does have an advantage to reduce enemy resists, but it does not lower them as much as the Behemoth's Demolish, nor does it deal as much up-front damage.

The Savage makes up for this by not needing heals, since his Regeneration can get him out of trouble most of the time. Healers almost never need to babysit him, so he can be free to attack with relative impunity. Even though he does get an active defense (if he wants), Resurgence is a poor active defense and gives him marginal benefit when doing any sort of serious tanking. Overall, the Savage is a poor team player but a very good soloist. He is also much easier to play than most archetypes. I would add Enrage to his list of skills in order to improve his damage greatly. With Enrage and Howl together, he could perma-rage and really do some damage.

The Specialist

The second Gold archetype to be created, the Specialist is an example of what happens when you throw a bunch of random powers together. He is pretty awful.

At level 40, he gets Lead Tempest, which is a great AoE taunt. However, without Bountiful Chi Resurgence, the Specialist is only slightly tougher than the wet paper defenses afforded the Avenger heroes. BCR is so critically important to dodge builds that its absence is greatly missed by the Specialist. Ironically, simply adding BCR (instead of Holdout Shot at 27) and giving him the Protector role would make the Specialist an amazing tank at level 40.

Two-Gun Mojo is also a pretty good single target taunt, since it ticks more rapidly than tap-spammed ranged attacks. Again, due to the Specialist's poor defense, it is not appropriate. The Specialist's AoE damage is pretty good, thanks to Form of the Tempest and Bullet Beatdown. However, his ST damage lags far behind other ST damage heroes such as the Behemoth. He also lacks a resist debuff to act as a force multiplier for his team.

Unfortunately, the Specialist falls short in both team and solo situations. He's just bad. His AoE DPS can be acceptable in a group, but there's really no reason to pick him over an Inferno or Tempest.

The Mind

The Mind isn't a tank at all, nor does she have a tank passive. However, she fulfills a lot of the requirements for a tanky DPS. She's a Silver archetype, too!

Her defense without heals is only a bit better than the Specialist's, but she also has the luxury of self-healing and shielding. Her AoE DPS is also not as good, but she does it from longer range. Overall, her AoE damage is weaker than the Glacier's (making her the weakest damage dealer of the group) and her ST DPS is basically nonexistent compared to the Behemoth or Master.

Of course, this is all perfectly fine since she is not really an offtank -- she's a tanky support with AoE DPS capabilities.

The best at...
  • Sustained survivability: The Master, followed by the Mind and the Savage.
  • Burst survivability: The Glacier, followed by the Behemoth and the Specialist.
  • AoE threat generation: The Master, followed by the Glacier. The Specialist would generate a lot if he had the Protector role, however.
  • ST threat generation: The Behemoth, followed by the Master. Again, the Specialist would generate a lot if he had the Protector role.
  • AoE DPS: The Specialist, followed by the Master and the Glacier. The Glacier is debatably the best, since his AoEs are bigger, but the Specialist does put out a lot of AoE damage.
  • ST DPS: The Master, followed very closely by the Behemoth. Before level 40, the Behemoth absolutely destroys everyone else in this category if he can maintain Enrage.
The Master is definitely the best tank of the group, but the others have their roles. The Behemoth is a fantastic off-tank and damage dealer, while the Glacier has strong AoE damage. Unless you want to play a dedicated tank, you shouldn't feel like you need to purchase any Gold archetypes to be good at your job. Unfortunately, the best archetype tank is Gold, but the other Silver archetypes are very comparable in value. If I were to point any archetype out as being essential, it would be the Mind, but she is free. The Inferno is also free, and he is only one step short of the best possible freeform damage dealers.

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.