Arcanist Brand

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Last bumped on Sep 17, 2020, 6:19:42 PM
I made an Elementalist previously that I deleted out of rage because clearing even white-tier maps was horrendously difficult. My intention was to eventually respec to Necromancer and do Arcanist Brand - Desecrate - Volatile Dead, and for the purposes of levelling to that stage I was mainly doing Arcanist Brand - Shock Nova.

Here is a tl;dr of my opinion: Redditors thought that Arcanist Brand was dead on arrival when the 20/20 numbers were released. I thought they were exaggerating. But after trying Arcanist Brand, I feel they could have held back less on the criticism.

Arcanist brand has too short a duration and has too severe a damage and QOL penalty, even accounting for the more damage multiplier on the attached target. This is especially poignant when comparing to the other short duration ally-cast support, Spell Totem Support.

To wit, Arcanist Brand at base attaches for only 3 seconds and fires once a second, for a total of three casts per Brand. Spell Totem lasts 8 seconds at base and casts spells with 30% less cast speed; given that the cast speed of most spells is 0.7s, then most Spell Totems have about 1 cast per second at base, for a total of 8 casts per Totem at base. So, already, each Totem does more damage over its duration at base than Brands.

Second, while Arcanist Brand has a base spawn limit of 3, only 1 Brand can attach to an individual enemy at any time at base. This means in the worst-case scenario of fighting a unique or rare enemy who do not spawn additionals, Arcanist Brand effectively only has a limit of 1 Brand at base. This is the same for Spell Totems. The limits of both can be increased to 2 by taking Runebinder and Ancestral Bond respectively. Arcanist Brand may be theoretically more effective at clearing packs, however packs in PoE typically means normal or magic packs and are (or rather, should be) trivial non-issues even with only 2 totems.

Third, Brands no longer reattach to the nearest enemy from the last enemy it kills, instead reverting to its original cast point. Hence, Brands have now become as immobile as Totems.

Fourth, while Brands are in theory "tankier" than Totems (because they aren't even actual spawned creatures), in practice Totem survivability has only ever been an issue at very high-level gameplay because a variety of coping mechanisms such as positioning, resummoning, and speccing Totem survivability, negate against Totem deaths against content weaker than the deadliest boss encounters and league areas.

Fifth, the base totem placement time is 0.6s, while the base cast speed of Arcanist Brand is 0.8s. A total of 105% increased totem placement speed is available from 4 passive clusters in the base passive tree. Those 4 clusters also grant 24% increased cast speed to spell totems in total. Increased cast speed on Brand clusters grant 20% increased cast speed in total from 2 clusters. At least 30% increased cast speed is needed for casting new Brands to be as fast as placing new Totems at base, while 100% increased cast speed is needed to be as fast as placing new Totems with 50% increased Totem Placement Speed. Of course, at this speed the Brand is also firing at a faster rate than Totems, bringing the cast time down to 0.5s (6 casts over 3 seconds) while Totems are firing at 0.8s (10 casts over 8 seconds). That said, on an overall scale, because cast speed is so much harder to stack and the opportunity cost of taking extra cast speed nodes on the passive tree is much greater for Brand users than taking Totem clusters is for Totem users, it quickly becomes clear that Arcanist Brand requires much more investment just to acquire the same level of power.

Sixth, Brands have 80% increased duration from 3 clusters, bringing up Arcanist Brand's base duration to 5.4 seconds (10 casts with 100% increased cast speed), while 90% increased duration from 2 clusters, bringing up Spell Totem's base duration to 15.2 seconds. There is simply no fight here, Totem QOL completely overwhelms Arcanist Brand QOL.

Seventh and finally, Spell Totem does not impose any penalty on AoE or chain length, and the damage penalty is 35% at base. Arcanist Brand's effective damage penalty to the attached enemy is 37% at base. At 20/0, the Spell Totem damage penalty is 26%, while the Arcanist Brand effective damage penalty is 14%. Arguably, this makes Arcanist Brand seem like it is positioned for a QOL to damage tradeoff, except that Arcanist Brand can only ever have at most 2 brands attached to an enemy while the "damage penalty" for using Spell Totems over Arcanist Brand disappears when you get a third totem limit. This is easily achievable with either just taking the appropriate ascendency (Hierophant or Ascendant-Hierophant), using the appropriate uniques (such as Soul Mantle), or using a support gem (Multiple Totems Support). In contrast, there is, at the moment, absolutely no way to get more than 2 Arcanist Brands attached to an enemy at any moment.

I hope it is clear that in a comparison between Arcanist Brand and Spell Totem support, Arcanist Brand is absolutely the inferior option. I can also confidently state without further analyses that Arcanist Brand is absolutely inferior to Trap Support. I also suspect that Arcanist Brand is absolutely inferior to a self-cast option making use of Unleash Support, however I do not have sufficient experience playing self-cast to have an informed opinion.

If Brands are going to be in this current form for quite a while to go, I suggest that Arcanist Brand needs at least one or all of the following changes to be competitive:

1. Lower AoE, Chain, and overall damage penalty.
2. +(0-3) additional Brands attached to enemy, in intervals of 10 (i.e. 1-10: +0, 11-20: +1, 21-30: +2, 31-40: +3)
3. Increase the attached and detached duration to (5/6) at minimum.
4. Brand clusters on the passive tree need to be located closer together to facilitate efficient passive trees.
5. Allow Brand Recall to be targeted -- i.e. Brand Recall recalls all Brands to the pointer location instead of the current user location.
6. Rework Brand Recall to allow modifiers to cast speed to affect cooldown speed, then remove all Brand Recall cooldown speed modifiers from the passive skill tree to make way for more generally useful Brand passives.
7. Allow Arcanist Brand to interact with channeling spells in the same way that Spell Totem Support interacts with channeling spells and Mirage Archer Support interacts with channeling attacks.

Without improvements, Arcanist Brand is going to be a dead skill for a long time to come with 0.1% rate of main skill usage, versus 2% for spell totems, 5% for mines, and 0.2% for traps.
Why Lightning, Fire and Cold Walker notables doesn't apply cast speed with Arcanist Brand, if i'm using Lighting, Fire or Cold skill gem linked with it?
So there is also question, does Corrosive Elements and Orb of Storms work with it?
Last edited by Prasica on Sep 23, 2020, 4:06:43 PM

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