A guide to Montana's helix

At first glance, Montana may seem like a simple character. However, being an effective Montana requires information about his helix that you won’t find in the command menu. Therefore, I’m making this helix guide to help less experienced players understand how Montana’s helix really works.

The effectiveness of each helix will be rated on the following scale:

:broken_heart: Terrible - These helixes will do more harm than good, and should be avoided by everyone.
:star: Insignificant - Won’t make much of a difference.
:star::star: Helpful - Useful, but not vital or game-changing.
:star::star::star: Game-changer - These helixes have a large effect on gameplay and are vital to some playstyles.
:blue_heart: Obvious Choice - These helixes are clearly superior to any other options at that level.

Note that many helixes are situational, so a higher rated helix is not always the best choice.

Level 1

Go the Distance
Increases Lumberjack Dash’s speed and dash distance by 50%.
This is good if you use dash as for its movement, but the difference isn’t enough to make this vital.
If Lumberjack Dash ends with Montana in midair, the momentum you retain appears to be random, regardless of helix choice.

Weather Man
Reduces the radius of Minigun’s spread while Hailstorm is active by 43%, or up to 55% with level 5 helix Focused Fire.
The accuracy increase this gives is enough to guarantee crits at close range and prevent enemies from escaping at long range. Either way, this is a helix you don’t want to miss.
There will be a section explaining the math behind this at the end of the guide.

Level 2

The Ol’ One-Two
Instead of knocking back a single enemy, Montana now stomps the ground at the end of Lumberjack Dash, damaging and knocking up any nearby enemies.
The area of effect damage is good and the knock-up is easy to hit. The downside is that knockback stun is a much better CC than knock-up, so losing that brings this down a level.
The stomp takes about half a second longer to complete than a normal Lumberjack Dash.

Lumberjack Blast
Lumberjack Dash’s knockback is applied to a cone in the direction Montana is looking at the end of Lumberjack Dash, damaging and knocking back all enemies it hits.
This combines AoE damage with a potential multi-enemy stun, making it a solid choice in any mode.
The AoE does not cover Montana’s entire hitbox, so some enemies who would have been knocked back by a normal Lumberjack Dash will be ignored by the blast.
Lumberjack Blast’s AoE can penetrate walls and other obstacles.

Push It Push It Push It
Increases the duration of the knockback effect of Lumberjack Dash by 40%.
More knockback is good, but this isn’t enough to make a huge difference.

Level 3

Pumped Up
Increases Montana’s maximum health by 360.
This is a good, if boring, increase to tankiness.

Gatling Grease
When Montana’s Minigun overheats, Lumberjack Dash’s cooldown rate is increased by 50% for 3 seconds. If level 6 helix Feeling the Burn is active, this cooldown buff remains active at full heat, but the duration is reduced to 0.5 seconds.
It normally takes about 10 seconds to reach full heat, and Lumberjack Dash’s base cooldown is only 16 seconds. Therefore, you’ll only notice this helix if you dash at high heat, immediately resume shooting, and then want to dash again.

Level 4

Icy Resolve
Increases Hailstorm’s damage reduction to 50%.
A 20% increase may not sound like much, but this increases the boost to your effective hp from 43% to 100%, which makes a big difference. Firestorm is terrible, so everyone should always take this.

Instead of slowing enemies or reducing heat, Hailstorm now applies a DoT dealing 12 damage twice each second for 2 seconds. This DoT does not stack, and heat is generated normally while Hailstorm is active.
Losing the slow makes this bad on its own, and the DoT does insignificant damage compared to base minigun DPS. The only possible use for Firestorm is to use Perfect Storm at full heat with Feeling the Burn, but even then, you should only activate this at level 9 and in pve.
Firestorm’s DoT is boosted by skill damage.
Firestorm’s DoT is not boosted by Perfect Storm or attack damage, and does not scale with level.
Firestorm replaces Hailstorm’s blue ice effects with orange fire effects, and replaces Montana’s ice themed voice lines with fire themed lines.
Enemies affected by Firestorm’s DoT will appear to be on fire, even when invisible.

Level 5

Increases health regeneration rate the lower minigun heat is, up to 7 hp/s at no heat.
This is good for regenerating health between fights, but the amount of regen is small compared to gear or healers.

Focused Fire
Reduces minigun spread the higher minigun heat is, up to -33% spread at full heat (up to -55% while Weather Man is active).
This makes a big difference at high heat, and is almost always active. Combined with Weather Man, Montana can be effective even at long range.
There will be a section explaining the math behind this at the end of the guide.

Increases health regeneration rate the higher minigun heat is, up to 9.8 hp/s at max heat.
This is good for regenerating health during fights, but the amount is too low to make a big difference.

Level 6

Swole Shield
Increases Montana’s maximum shield strength by 240.
This nearly doubles your shield capacity, which can be a nice boost to your tankiness. The downside is that this shield now takes 9 seconds to fully recharge, so without some help, you won’t get much out of this in a longer fight.

Hailstorm bullets now penetrate targets, dealing full damage to all enemies in their path as well as applying slow or DoT.
This is a huge DPS boost if you can line up multiple enemies, while also allowing you to spread your slow to more enemies and ignore most body blocking.
Does not penetrate physical shields.

Feeling the Burn
Instead of overheating, Montana’s minigun continues firing at maximum heat, but also damages Montana for about 54 damage per second. This damage is applied normally, affecting overshields and shields before health.
Montana’s passive boosts minigun damage by up to 50% the higher your heat (regardless of helix), so firing at full heat will have very high DPS. Therefore, this is a great option if you can manage the self damage.
Self damage is reduced by damage reduction.
Self damage does not count toward Big Payback.
Using Feeling the Burn will reduce Gatling Grease’s duration from 3 seconds to 0.5 seconds.
Firing at full heat will cause fire effects to appear on Montana’s screen.
Self damage is not modified by the rate of heat generation.

Level 7

While Hailstorm is active, Lumberjack Dash deals 25% more damage.
This is great for dealing damage with Lumberjack Dash, but you’re usually better off just shooting with Hailstorm.

Barrel Cooling
Reduces the minigun’s rate of heat accumulation, increasing the amount of time to reach max heat by 33%. Only applies when gaining heat.
This allows you to fire at high heat for longer without overheating, allowing you to better take advantage of Montana’s passive.
The only gear with similar effects on heat are Montana’s legendary and attack speed flaws.

Ice Age
Increases Hailstorm’s duration from 5 seconds to 7 seconds.
Hailstorm is good, so more Hailstorm is better.

Level 8

Too Big to Fail
Reduces the cooldown of Lumberjack Dash by 25%.
This allows for more frequent use of CC and mobility, as well as damage.

Increases Lumberjack Dash’s damage by 15%.
This can be good if you use Lumberjack Dash for its damage, but isn’t very useful otherwise.

Level 9

Bullet Buff
Doubles the intensity of Hailstorm’s slow. If Firestorm is active, Bullet Buff will instead double the duration of Firestorm’s DoT.
The increased slow is great for locking down an enemy. The DoT buff won’t be very noticeable, but you shouldn’t be taking Firestorm anyway.

The Cooler
Increases healing received from battleborn and pick-ups by 10%. Does not apply to health regeneration, supply stations, shields or overshields.
The bonus this gives is small and situational, so you normally won’t notice this at all.

Perfect Storm
Increases minigun damage by 14% while Hailstorm is active.
This boosts your main scource of damage when you most want to use it, which makes up for the mediocre size of the boost.
Does not apply to Firestorm’s DoT.

Level 10

Big Payback
When Mansformation ends, this charges for 3 seconds, then releases a small AoE centered on Montana, dealing 3 times the damage Montana actually took during Mansformation (after damage reduction). Records damage while Mansformation’s damage reduction is active.
This can deal thousands of damage in a single hit, making it the highest damage ability in the game.
Big Payback’s AoE can be boosted by skill damage gear.
Because of how its damage is calculated, increases to damage reduction will reduce the damage of Big Payback’s AoE.
While the AoE is charging, a loud noise can be heard by everyone, and a picture of a bomb will fill up in the center of Montana’s screen.
The AoE can still fire after being downed in pve.

Instant Payback
While Mansformation’s damage reduction is active, incoming enemy projectiles are reflected back at the attacker, dealing full damage.
This is great for dealing with ranged attackers, but won’t do anything against melee attacks.
Reflected attacks are not modified by Montana’s gear.
Ranged attacks still damage Montana, but this is reduced by Mansformation’s normal damage reduction.

Accuracy Guide

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why Montana’s accuracy boosts use such unusual percentages. Maybe you’ve even realized that the maximum spread reduction is much less than what you would get by combining the reductions from Focused Fire and Weather Man. The reason for both of these effects is that Montana’s accuracy is not directly subtractive from spread, but instead uses the following formula:

Spread = (Base spread) / (1 + Accuracy buffs)

This was likely done to give accuracy buffs diminishing returns.
Using this formula, Weather Man increases Accuracy by 0.75, and Focused Fire increases Accuracy by up to 0.5
This formula can also be used to calculate the exact fractions that spread is reduced by:
Weather Man - 3/7
Focused Fire - up to 1/3
Both - up to 5/9
These were converted into percentages for the main guide to make them easier to understand.

If there’s anything I missed or that you think is wrong, feel free to comment below.


Hey! I was reading that!

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So far, so good.

All descriptions and the accuracy guide are now up, so this guide should be complete, at least until the next update.

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Good guide :slight_smile:

You made another of these?

This is great!

Are you planning on sharing your insights with our entire cast of misfits?

I look forward to more!

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The amount of specific tests this must’ve taken is incredibly impressive

It takes a lot of work to put these guides together, so I’m only doing them for my mains. I expect to do a few more, but I don’t think I’ll get to everyone.


More! I need moooore!image

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Great post, thanks for this! Would love similar guides for other characters you’re familiar with.

Also wondered what your/others opinions were on Lv7 helix Barrel cooling vs Ice Age; I’ve always taken Ice Age as I figure that more hailstorm achieves the same result (reducing heat) but with the added benefit of the slow/damage reduction.

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Barrel Cooling allows you to stay at higher heat levels, which gives you more damage and more accuracy with Focused Fire. Ice Age’s drawbacks are that it further reduces your heat and can be cancelled by silence.

They’re both good options, it’s really a choice between more minigun damage or longer damage reduction and slow.

This will sound like a dumb question, but I want to make sure. You wrote, under FTB: “Self damage is not modified by the rate of heat generation.” That means that Barrel Cooling and Montana’s lore gear don’t reduce the damage you take, right? Just want to make extra sure.
Also, if you have buffed attack speed, do you take damage from FTB faster? Like, does it do damage for each bullet that’s fired, or is it just a constant DPS when firing while overheated?

Feeling the Burn is usually a constant DPS that doesn’t change when you modify heat generation. I didn’t test Montana’s legendary for the guide, but testing it today was showing increased damage from FtB. It didn’t change by much though, about 7% more DPS with the legendary.

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Agree with the notes about burn, even with OPs legendaries I can’t imagine where it would be better than ice/slow.
Take for example these two situations, where you could test both helix builds.

100 OPs with OPs specific legendaries

  1. Montana dlc, the Demon Bear/Alpha’s fight.
  2. Phoebe dlc, fight with the Enforcerer, Ancient, Varelsi swarms and Bone Crusher.