So there are a lot of PvP guides on these here forums and Thorn seems to be particularly popular. Since she’s so versatile and there’s a lot of on-and-off discussion going on in the community about Blight v Volley and Thorn builds in general I thought I’d try my hand as Thorn is one of my favourites and my best character by far (Sorry Deande)
This is the first major post I’ve made here and my first guide of any sort so go easy on me and remember that this is just my opinion, this is how I play and I’ve had great success with this build/loadout.
Let me start by saying that despite being classified as a sniper Thorn is not a “true” sniper and should not be played as such, she’s also tagged as agile and that’s where her true strength lies, she’s highly mobile with among the fastest base movement speed and highest base jump height in the game. The best way to play Thorn is to take advantage of her extreme mobility and use it against your opponents, it’s her secondary weapon.
This build will focus mainly around the use of Blight as a utility while Volley will be an early game finisher and mid-to-late game initiator.
LEVEL 1 - (L) Swampfoot: The only thing better than an AoE that deals damage to enemies within its radius is an AoE that SLOWS enemies while damaging them. This makes Blight a great tool for clearing minion waves, setting up kills, preventing enemies from fleeing and even as an emergency escape. Piercing Volley is a situational skill that only works well when fighting in small enclosed spaces or when multiple enemies are stacked up behind one another.
LEVEL 2 - ® Fell Wind: The main reason for choosing this skill is that you’re rarely going to be standing still and certainly not standing in your Blight field so there’s no reason to take Cursed Earth and the mutation, Blight Brawler, seems somewhat redundant as you want to be meleeing enemies into your Blight field not meleeing them away from within, if you’re meleeing at all. This tactic works well against Thralls on Incursion. Fell Wind also helps with escaping and chasing as you can cast Blight in your path and run through it to benefit from the speed boost in both scenarios.
LEVEL 3 - (L) Draw Strength: Unlike Piercing Volley this isn’t as much of a situational skill as it’s an ability that’s active all the time instead of being on a 13 second cooldown timer. If there’s an enemy healer hiding behind a tank, Thralls or minions are blocking your shot, or even allies are body blocking you, with this skill you can shoot through them and hit your mark. Burst Propulsion is only good if you intend to reach high places which isn’t really necessary as you want to always be on the move, with Thorn’s agility and the speed boost granted by Fell Wind at level 2, there’s no reason to use this as an escape. It also prevents you from being able to repeatedly melee enemies into your Blight field.
LEVEL 4 - (L) Kreshek’s Judgement: This is the toughest decision for any Thorn player, but not for this build. Nockout is a great skill against tank-heavy teams with large hitboxes as two extra arrows increase Volley’s base damage by 40%, while the mutation Focused Volley allows Thorn to concentrate the full damage amount of Volley into a smaller area of three arrows and deal heavier damage to slimmer targets who might otherwise not be hit by all five standard Volley arrows. This is the point in the game where you will be using Volley to initiate instead of finish, you almost have your ultimate and you can now curse targets with one quick ability instead of spending the time to charge an arrow and lose vital mobility in doing so.
LEVEL 5 - ® Hexsanguination: Few Battleborn can inflict a DoT and 96 over 8 seconds is free extra damage to any enemy who you hit with a charged arrow or Volley. Hextension has the advantage of increasing damage to Cursed targets as well as extending Curse duration but you’ll rarely need 12 seconds and 10% extra damage to finish off an enemy. DoT is also great for isolating fleeing enemies or those with low health who are brave enough to remain in battle, hit them with a hard hitting Volley and wait for them to bleed to death. As for those chasing you, you can now Curse them instantly and cause them to bleed then throw down a Blight field to slow them and deal additional damage thanks to Curse. You’re welcome. As for the mutator, Fiendish Curse, this skill only effects bonus damage from Curse, so skills and charged arrows only, bleed DoT and uncharged arrows not included.
LEVEL 6 - (L) Brutal Blight: As this is a Blight heavy build, there is no reason not to use this skill. Volley cooldown is only 13 seconds, 20% of that is a mere 2.6 seconds which is a small reduction on an already short cooldown time. We’ve already augmented Blight to slow enemies so they’re trapped inside the AoE and taking damage even longer so why not further increase the damage they’ll be taking? Also great for clearing minion waves.
LEVEL 7 - (M) Phasing Arrows: This choice is subjective but I prefer the mutation. Unlike the level 5 mutation Fiendish Curse this skill effects ALL damage dealt by Thorn, and 25% shield penetration is still better than any boost granted by gear. I mainly use this for shield-heavy teams, such as tanks who can boost their shield capacity early and by this time in the game have tremendous health, Kleese who has low heath but a large shield and can continuously recharge his and his team’s shields, or that pesky Galilea. Yeah, we all know about that. The other option if you’re up against a light or predominantly Eldrid team is the (L) skill Eagle Eye. If you’ve gotten this far in the game then chances are that you don’t need the extra 50% accuracy on your base attack, or 25% shield penetration for that matter, but I don’t like the high jump AT ALL. Through completion of Thorn’s lore challenge “Spry Sprite Spray” I am very used to landing arrows while jumping around all the time so I don’t need the added accuracy but the extra jump height of Vaulting Hunter just feels too much for me. The jump feels slow, you take off slow, spend a lot of time in the air, and land slowly. It’s like you’re on the moon. While we’re talking about gravity, how come Ekkunar has the same gravitational pull as Bliss and Tempest?
LEVEL 8 - (L) Enduring Blight: As with level 6, this is a Blight heavy build so buff it when you can. We’ve added a slowing debuff and extra damage, so let’s now double the duration for even more area denial and map control. Also, only 3 seconds between casting Blights? You’d be mad not to want a 12 second duration on an ability with a 15 second cooldown, especially one with as many uses as Blight.
LEVEL 9 - ® Kreshek’s Rage: We’re already dealing so much damage, why not add an extra 15% to Volley? Thorn already has passive health regeneration and we’re nearly at the gear section where we’ll talk about that more. You’ve survived this long without life steal so you wont need it now, especially not from one ability. There’s simply no reason to ever take Archer’s Boon when playing PvP.
LEVEL 10 - ® Earthrender: The big finale. Your ultimate leaves behind a Blight field, which we’ve augmented three times already. Enough said here, me thinks.
Any 0 activation cost shard generation gear, preferably with a negative stat that does not effect your character. Mine has +Reload speed and generates 1.6 shards per second. Everyone wants shards and you’ll need them no matter what mode or map you’re playing.
Legendary Song of Vigor: +7 health regeneration per second, 9.8% healing received, grant +4.2 health regeneration per second to nearby allies. First off it’s worth noting that +health regeneration DOES stack with Eldrid passive health regeneration, +healing received only effects external healing sources such as healing stations or healing abilities from other characters. This nice little trinket simply increases survivability as you’re going to be weaving in and out of battle constantly, healing faster from external sources means you’ll be out of the fight for shorter periods of time while you heal up, and healing your mates by being next to them is just nice. You’ll be dishing out more damage than anyone on your team but you’ll be taking a lot of fire as well so stay healthy and stay alive. If you don’t have this piece yet, a low activation cost health regen item is sufficient.
Any gear piece that increased skill damage. Mine increases skill damage by 7% and a further 4.2% for 5 seconds after landing a critical hit and costs 924 shard to activate. Nice. 7-11% may not sound like a whole lot, but stack that with 25% bonus damage to cursed targets, and consider how easy it is to land crits with Thorn especially with auto-Curse Volley before going into Blight then ult. Now your opponent is bleeding, taking extra damage from skills, taking more extra damage from skills, and if you landed a crit TAKING EVEN MORE DAMAGE FROM SKILLS! They’s gon’ die.
You have shard generation gear for a reason and it’s not just for that legendary. You have ridiculous speed, use it. Farm shards, use your speed to steal large shards from your enemies and deny them the shards in their controlled zone, and farm more shards. But DON’T hoard shards for that legendary just yet. Use them to build, building grants you a lot of XP especially when you build a tier 3 turret. Use your Blight on advancing minion waves, minion kills grant a lot of XP as well. Capture Thralls. Do whatever it takes to gain lots of XP early, you’re fast enough to do all these things in a flash and you have an AoE to take down build nodes and Thralls so do it all. Fight, yes, engage but if you can’t secure the kill don’t get killed trying and don’t lose focus of your main objective here: Shards, minions, build nodes. Once you hit level 5 you can now inflict Curse and bleed DoT with one use of Volley AND you have your ultimate ability, now it’s time to hoard shards for your other two pieces of gear and start killing everything. Be opportunistic early on, remember Volley was your finished then but now it’s your initiator, no more opportunistic killing go for every kill. Volley, your enemy just got hit hard and is Cursed and bleeding, if your enemy is still coming at you drop a Blight on them to slow them and stop them getting to you, if they turn to run or you think you can force them to then drop Blight in their path so they run into it. Either way they’re Cursed, bleeding, slowed and taking damage in your AoE. No time like now to throw your ult, with its slow wind up and slow travel speed a slowed enemy is the perfect target. Even if they survive and get away they’ll likely bleed to death, but run through that Blight to gain your movement speed boost and pelt them with arrows just in case. Try to isolate their squishies, focus on the tanks from a distance or avoid them to get to your target. You can kill as quickly as Rath or Phoebe and you move faster than both. Thorn is as good an assassin as Deande or Mellka and a better skirmisher than Orendi or Caldarius. Assess, harass, isolate, burst kill then escape and reset. Your approach has to be thought out and your shots have to be accurate or you’ll lose the target and/or get killed in the process. If you can try to draw out your target, but if they’re alone initiate the fight and secure the kill before reinforcements arrive and leave a nice debuffing AoE on the ground to deter any would-be revenge killers. Thorn is a risk taker, you can engage melee assassins and tanks 1-on-1 and either win or escape most of the time so don’t be afraid to engage any target, just pick your timing and in a large brawl make a quick decision about whether to help out with Blight or pick off the unsuspecting sneak-attacker prowling around the battlefield.
#Battleborn to watch out for and/or avoid:
- Mellka. She’s bouncy and you’ll waste time firing arrows and missing her from full health while she slowly chips yours away, she wants you to waste your abilities so she can use hers to kill you so don’t give her that satisfaction. Unless she’s low on heath or wasted her abilities, avoid at all costs. Even then, be very careful with your approach.
- Orendi and Caldarius. Same reasons apply, a grounded Orendi is an easy target but a bouncy one is hard to hit and harder too see through all those Chaos Bolts. Caldarius isn’t a major threat but he’s terribly hard to hit and can blind/escape whenever you do land a shot. Pick your battles with these two and fight them on your terms.
- ISIC. ISIC’s big and slow, easy to hit and easier to crit with that large centred “head”. But at level 2 his Rotating Wards can reflect your arrows, Volley, and even your ult so watch out. If he doesn’t take the level 2 L augment he’s fodder but most do and when they do don’t engage, just run and wait for his Rotating Wards to expire then crit after crit until he’s dead or escapes. Using Blight on him will just be a waste most of the time so save it for minions or another target unless he’s low on health and you can assist an ally.
- Ghalt. If he pulls hooks you into a Scraptrap you’ll wish you’d taken Burst Propulsion. If there’s an enemy Ghalt, that may be a good option.
- Boldur. He shouldn’t kill you but you probably wont be able to kill him with his large health pool and that damn shield. Abilities used on Boldur are wasted on Boldur, not a threat but a nuisance not worth engaging alone.
The rest really comes down to skill, and if you’re skilled enough you can kill anyone. Tanky teams will take some wearing down, squishy teams will fall quickly. You might not be able to out-snipe Marquis or Toby but you can unload your abilities to kill Marquis or force Toby back with your agility. Thorn’s hard to counter and if you’re good she’s hard to kill, she’s as versatile as a rubber band and as useful as duct tape.
I hope this was helpful and not too long, to all who did read thank you and I hope this helped. Any feedback is welcome, positive and critical alike, but I’ve never done this before so if it sucked play nice and help me to make a better one next time!