Arsonist's ABC's (Always Be Casting) Build

Posted in the bigger “Let’s get some Amara” builds thread, but it seems like we’re branching out more into individual build theorycrafting, so I thought I’d make it’s own post (and edit it up a bit so it’s more in line with how Amara actually works).

Speaking which, hey errybody! I’m Arsonist, a holdover from the BL2 boards. When playing RPG’s, I tend to have one mode and one mode only.

Naturally I tend to gravitate towards Siren Classes.

Disclaimer: Like everyone else has said, even with the trees, we don’t know a lot here. Damage calculations, how effective dots will be comparatively with BL1/2/TPS. I’m obviously of just as in the dark as you guys. One big sticking point for my builds at this phase tends to be that no one knows how the “This skill does this” abilities will scale. We tend to go from crazy effective stuff like you would see on Athena in TPS, to the sad, limp call of the blight pheonix we saw through most of BL2 for Maya.

Still, refer to the pic above. I’m here to cast fireball and laugh maniacally. 8d6’s ad, all day.

With that in mind, I present Arsonist’s ABC’s, Always Be Casting.

Action Skill Selection: Deliverance or Tandava for Damage , Ties that Bind or Eternal Fist for Crowd Control

Chevron Augment: Allure, Soul Sap, or Stillness of Mind

Diamond Augment: The only one available in this build is Soulfire. I could potentially see a variation of this build down the line that invests some points into Brawl to gain access to Blight Tiger.

So already we’re looking at a lot of variation, depending on what our Amara is trying to do. First “whats the hoozit” has to do with the actual action skill we pick. Being hearty black mages, and not any of those goddamn clerics who try to steal our thunder, we naturally want to lean towards the skills offered by Mystical Assault over the other options, as they seem to be the main “lets deal damage” options. After the spec is done, we have our choice between Reverberation, Deliverance, and Tandava from our main tree, as well as The Eternal Fist, The Ties that Bind, and Fist over Matter from our secondary tree.

The latter three are likely going to be super helpful as we encounter enemies or groups that deal a lot of damage, as we’re not Really specing into any tanking abilities. Which of these is going to be a standout is hard to tell, but TEF and TTB are both high on my watch list at the moment. FOM seems useful and elegant for the FOE build, but I feel like it’s very likely that it’s going to be low on the totem pole, trying to strike a balance between CC and damage. This is not our goal - we either want to be spamming damage spells at all times, or be an effective “screenlock” in horde situations.

“No half measures. Some things can’t be cut in half. You can’t half-love someone. You can’t half-betray, or half-lie.” - Jorg Ancrath, Prince of Thorns

While we may have to rely on those CC abilities at certain points, our main focus is going to probably be focused between one of two abilities - Deliverence or Tandava. The first seems like it’s exactly what this build is trying to do, and makes Amara spam fireballs at all times that burst into tinier fireballs that hit people pretty damn hard. Awesome and flavorful and I love it. Tandava is less flashy but at the moment has the higher damage number. There’s going to be a lot of theorycrafting pitting these two skills against each other since they both fit the same “do a lot of damage and then some aoe” niche. Personally I’m rooting for Deliverance all day (I talk about napalm butterflies below which is just delightful), but will accept Tandava as a more “raid boss ready” strategy if I must.

Moving to the chevron augments, we have a hefty list to choose from - Allure and Soul Sap seem like the most likely standard “all day mobbing abilities”, giving us some healing and providing “rack em up” potential for our biggest DPS bombs that we can use twice in a row. Stillness of mind is likely going to be the best get any time we are trying to CC, providing a ranged CC and a theoretical “screen lock” situation when paired with The Eternal Fist or Ties that ind. All seem like they have a niche, so being fluid in what you’re selecting is probably a good idea.

Lastly, in this version of the build, we only have room for one Diamond skill, Soulfire, which makes all of our fireballs well… fireballs. I could see the necessity at end game to dump 5 points into brawl just to give us the option to swap damage types. If that’s the case, expect to cut back on the ricochet effects and some of the nicer things in brawl to pick up 3/3 personal space and 2/5 one with nature, since clarity is Probably going to do less than that super neat flat damage reduction. Again, time will tell if this is the smart case or if the points need to be spread out more for mod coverage, but hey. We’re sure as ■■■■ not putting anything in stone 2 months before the game even lands.

So with that out of the way, let’s jump into the actual build.

Our main goal in this build is to race our goddamn way through Mystical Assault to get the sweet sweet capstone at the end of it.

Early levels have us starting off with 5/5 Do Harm and 1/5 Violent Tapestry. Obviously these are subject to change. I’m not a fan of relying on a kill skill, but in this first tier, Do Harm is the damaging of the two options and works with our strategy of always be casting. 1/5 into tapestry gives us a non-kill mode for gaining rush stacks, and a light buff to elemental damage that we can tweak once the numbers become more obvious (as in, are we talking BL1 or BL2 elemental damage systems). I could see some variation here, but the important thing is that it doesn’t seem like you gain more stacks by putting points into tapestry. Normally we’d think hard about fast hands, but we’re already going heavy in rush, and the second tier is going to be where our reload is…

Speaking of which, here we’re looking at 5/5 Alacrity (one of my favorite words, especially when boyd crowder hisses it) and 5/5 Restless. As stated, we’re going to be counting on this for a lot of reload speed and are expecting it to always be at least somewhat active since this is an action skill spam build. Again, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some points flicker between alacrity and tapestry (or even the first tier abilities) as we get more access to game mechanics. Restless seems more likely to keep it’s max’d status though, mostly due to the fact that it cuts into the core mechanic we’re hoping to abuse. We will lament the loss of the critical hit damage from transcend, but goddamit, we’re war mages not rangers. Our war song is a thousand explosions and you don’t have to be super accurate with those.

In the next tier… Ascendant is good.

I shouldn’t have to sell you on that one.

The next two tiers however, break my heart cause I kind of want everything.

Laid Bare and Wrath seem… goddamn near essential in this build. Between them you’re adding a lot of damage to everything you touch, and this build is set up to touch a lot of things by abusing Tandava and Deliverance when we’re mobbing, and (maybe) swapping into Reverberation when going up against a single target. Even the ties that bind gets a little bit of a go from these two, which is nice. We are… sad that we can’t pick up “From Rest”, because fire rate is always nice. At the same time, we’re not too sad, because the next tier gives us Remnant and Awakening… another hard choice. A lot of what we don’t know has to do with how much damage these projectiles are going to be doing, so there’s a lot of unknowns around remnant (although it’s worth noting that if max’d, it has a damage value of 99, which is a little over half of Tandava’s massive 166). Awakening seems better for raid bosses/big fights when you’re not likely to build up as many rush stacks, but again, time will tell. For the moment I’m leaning hard into the idea of stacking Remnant and Deliverance. I’m kind of imagining a lot of little fire butterflies swooping to-and-fro to my enemies, like live napalm.

contented sigh

Finally, the entire reason we spec’d this way is the capstone - Avatar. This seems to open up a lot of unique playstyles with a shitload of customization options being available. Personally, again I’m hoping for a lot of love with the allure/deliverance combo, kind of making everything I loved about converge + ruin except with a lot more fire and burning babies.

We go into Fist of the Elements for the rest of our points, and they serve us pretty well.

At first tier here we have to weigh Anima vs Infusion. Going by BL2 math, Infusion is probably the better get. Going by BL1 math, Anima is. Where this lands? No one really knows. On paper, right now, Infusion looks better because of the next tier…

Which we go utterly and completely apeshit for. Tempest does so much for us. Upping all elemental damage across the board in a mage spec? Yespleasethankyou. More to the point, it doubles that bonus for shock, which gives us a wonderful thing - weapon preference. If shock behaves even remotely like it does in the other two games, then it means that it won’t really have a weakness against a certain type, making it a great mobbing gun. It getting all the other bonuses we’ve already allocated on top of that means it goes straight to the top. Even better, it appears like this is worded to add to our glorious collection of damage abilities from our action skill, making it more attractive. Even BETTER BETTER, combined with infusion and our fire perk (or corrosive, if we need to mod for the extra versatility later), it means all our shots have a chance to proc both fire and lightning damage, keeping us with a higher rush count at damn near all times.

What do the skids think about that?

The rest of this tier is just gravy for us as well, but kind of depends on how we need to go (as do other things here). It’s hard for me to ever turn down a 1 pointer, but the point of this build is to blast from mid range, not close, so I’m avoiding Illuminated Fist for now. Wildfire helps us get more dots which gives us more rush stacks, which again we’re a big fan of, but time will tell whether it stacks up better than Anima or not, or whether a split between the two would be beneficial (for single target stuff, Anima seems much more likely). Still, for now, it seems more hilarious, so we stick with it.

Dread, sadly only affects Grasp (boo gearbox, boo. All this customization and this one stick in the mud pissing me off). We skip unless we’re going into a grasp build.

Finally, our last round is a bit strange. We have a lot of skills here that we like, but not a lot of points left. For this build I opted for Catharsis because exploding bodies, again hilarious. It seems likely that Indiscriminate may out perform it in the long run, and then we’ll have to find some other place for that spare point (probably into from rest >.>). Again we seem to have an option where it’s single target vs aoe though, so for a raid fight, we probably want Indiscriminate more. That being said there is no way in hell we are leaving Deep Well on the table, given that we’re never not using an elemental gun.

So there it is, your preliminary guide to Black Maging with Amara.

I have no earthly idea if it will be even remotely viable, but I kind of love every part of it and hope I get to do it.

First major update after additional gameplay. OP to be rewritten to included at a later date.


I really like your build, it’s close to my “Projectile-Spam.Build”-build and that’s awesome. I don’t think that you’ll miss corrosive as Action Skill Element that much as you can just use a good corrosive gun for that.

Some recommendations:

  • really consider “From Rest” as it almost cuts the charge time of Maliwan weaponry in half, which you’ll want. Badly!
  • “Anima” is great for mobbing, but less useful for bosses. You should always take at least 1 point of “Infusion” just for the chance of an extra-DoT, but “Anima” will let many enemies just DoT to death just from you shooting them until they catch the element. But your reasoning for not taking “Anima” is sound, so yeah, how good it is in the endgame remains to be seen.
  • Take 2 points off “Catharsis” and max out “Indiscriminate” instead! Catharsis doesn’t do that much damage anyway, so 1 point for the extra chance of DoTs is enough. “Indiscriminate” on the other hand is basically like Maya’s “Chain Reaction”, but is always on. People made builds around “Chain Reaction” for a reason! It’s basically a multiplicative damage buff and gives you opportunities to get elemental effects on enemies you weren’t even shooting at.
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Thanks for the feedback! A lot of this is going to be… super dependent on how important dots are in the game all together. Even at 50 they were… a bit lit lackluster in BL2, but if they’re re-boosted enough to be relevant… this build changes a lot.

The more I think about infusion the more I’m unsure about it. This build only affords fire damage as a modifier, which is pretty weak as far as elements go. Shock is the damage type by default which could play well into the idea of only using shock guns because of how good tempest is… but you may lose out on dot stacks by not using a little bit of fire. Still, assuming tempest plays out onto everything it may outpace even the damage with the added dots… well, math is going to be important here. Mean old math. It’s the only thing I dread each release.

Right now I’m not a huge fan of indiscriminate because in it’s current form, it doesn’t seem quite as abusable as chain reaction was. Additionally, it’s best paired with a grasp spell because of the additional bonuses it gives while an enemy is cc’d, which… hopefully we shouldn’t see a lot of in this build.

I actually tinkered a bit and came up with an alternative build last night that addresses a bit of what you were talking about though. I really do like from rest, especially since it’s basically such a flat damage buff. This build reworks a few different things and ends up (weirdly) investing those points ack into Mystical Assault after getting the capstone skills we like from Fist of the Elements -

Potential Other Build

Basically we give up a lot of the late game stuff and shift our reload speed points around to give us 3/3 From Rest. We could actually even take it a step further if we wanted to lose ties that bind and deep well by putting two points into Transcend, which would give us a little more damage when we do crit, but for now I’m like the foresight-ish abilities there.

While this build is going to be all about rush stacks, one thing I hadn’t considered was comparing fast hands to alacrity baseline. While we do want to generated as many stacks as possible, we’re also going to be blasting through them at almost every single chance we get because of ascendant. Because of that, I kind of like the split between 1/5 alacrity and 2/3 fast hands, giving us a baseline 8% that gets better depending how many stacks we have. Obviously the baseline alacrity isn’t a lot, but this build also picks up awakening which can increase the effectiveness a bit.

Obviously we still have the issue of not knowing how important dots are actually going to be, so some of these points are very open to change, but this build also invests fairly heavily into anima so… we’ll see?

I have little time, so just a quick heads-up regarding DoTs: Despite the lower scaling in BL3 DoTs are actually stronger on level 10 weapons in BL3 than they were in BL2 at the same level. Also, even compared to the raw gun damage the DoT damage in BL3 seems to be much higher.

On the other hand the penalties of hitting enemies with the wrong elements seem to be higher as enemies can now be immune to a damage type. Also, the basic damage reduction from resisted elements seems higher (just my impression on that one though).

Overall and from the gameplay we’ve seen it looks like Gearbox wants us to play smart, not hard. There is a bigger emphasis on crit spots and enemies just melt away once they caught the right elemental effect. I think that should be an indicator towards DoTs being viable again. Or at least it looks like Gearbox has the intention to “make DoT’s great again”.

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I hope that doesn’t coerce Amara into speccing down Brawl or Fist of the Elements depending on the planet, or both out of sheer laziness, because the damage penalty for wrong element is so harsh. Mystical assault is so good!

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Seriously. Avatar is… ugh. So much fun to play with.

Honestly right now I think the biggest decider for her is in FoE. Tempest honest to ■■■■ might be too good to pass up. I’m worried that it’s going to get a little bit of the same treatment Reaper got for maya - necessary to do anything approaching relevant damage.

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I think Amara is going to struggle to boss without Tempest, sure, but there’s probably a super fun melee-into-spawned-projectile-spam build in Brawl and Mystical Assault. Although, Illuminated Fist will be mandatory for that… I just hope the scaling is better than BL2.

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Bumping for visibility. I’m 31 right now and starting to fill out foe. Am I going to continue to feel as op as I do now? Cause its nice.

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Ok. Time for some updates.

This is the current version of the build I use for general mobbing atm. It’s my opinion that it’s superior for that build because of the addition of Samsara and Clarity, and should also be used on any boss that has an Armor pool because of the addition of blight tiger. The other build still stands as probably a better boss killer because of the life leech from Sustainment and the fact that Samsara just isn’t as effective without multiple targets around.

Some notes on Skills -

Allure - I dropped this almost as soon as I got it. It probably can still be useful but is no where near as useful as converge was on Maya. The pull is slow and ineffectual, like a sad hand job, and doesn’t provide any better fire ranges for the second cast.

As such, soul sap is the general go to given how squishy the build is already, but Stillness of Mind still works in a pinch in situations with a lot of badasses/annointed.

This build generates… all the stacks it needs, so the investments in Wildfire, Violent Tapestry, and Infusion are good as is. In fact, a future version of this build may end up taking a point out of wildfire and tapestry and put them back into from rest or laid bare to test for DPS gains.

Remnant has insane synergy with a well placed Reverberate, and can end up with a giant ball that can dome the next enemy over for upwards of 1 million, even with it’s current 2/3 status. May want to consider finishing it out, although obviously not a big concern for boss killing fights.

Because of the longer cooldown of phasecast abilities and the fact that we kind of want to stagger them sometimes, I’ve come to the determination that Fast Hands > Alacrity. I’m sure someone much more skilled or focused than me could milk Alacrity harder because the reload bonuses is higher, but honestly there are plenty of times you want to reload fast without relying on stacks for it, so this version of the build cuts them for a nice, easy 14% reload.

Action Skill Analysis - All three primary casts have very different applications.

Reverberation - Best used in tightly packed corridors or boss fights as it seems to track a little more accurately than the other two and has the highest damage multiplier.

Tandava - Best used in tightly packed situation where each explosion will hit multiple targets.

Deliverance - Best used in wider open areas that give the “fire/shock flame” butterflies enough room to track and get where they need to go, as other times it can be pretty inaccurate.

I’ll pull all this back into a rewrite of OP at some point, but today is not that day.

Remnant’s not great at more than one point, the base damage is negligible and has no impact on the overkill damage.

You could probably spare a point from Violent Tapestry too, like Remnant the bonuses after one point are negligible.


For the most part, I agree. Fast Hands provides two good bonuses and is passive. Unless you have a Phasezerker COM it’s almost always better than Alacrity. I hate to say this, because I’ve been looking forward to the Alacrity fix, though I do use both on my Caster build.

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I’ll have to check into violent tapestry again when I get to the house, but I thought the increase chance for dots was worth it just for more stacks. May try to cut it out when I trim some fat today. Good thoughts.

Edit: The more I think about it the more I realize that Infusion should pretty much be 1/5 for every amara build that uses rush stacks and 0/5 in every other build >.>

One point is sufficient, the increase to status effect chance scales so poorly that it’s virtually unnoticeable.

I never run Infusion. Both of my Amara builds run a Phasezerker and build Rush stacks for days, but Infusion is a DPS decrease almost all of the time. Unless you’re running all non-elemental weapons, I’d advise against it. I see what you’re getting at, though.

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I am lol (not. Sorry, assumed you meant all elemental).

I’m loath to give up that 1/5 because even that little ■■■■■■ 8 dps fire dot it puts on helps my casting ability, but out of my loadout I have all of… two guns that don’t use elemental damage, and that’s a ridiculously stacked torgue shotty and a sniper rifle.

I don’t mind losing that little to be at the point to never really be worried about being anywhere less than 10 rush stacks, but it is probably very neglible.

I’m actually having a conversation with someone right now who was talking about the infusion “bug” and I honestly think people are just very heavily a) misreading the talent or b) forgetting that elemental penalties in this game are much heavier.

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The bug where it doesn’t work with Sustainment?

I’m not concerned by that, rather the way it lowers damage output when element matching.

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You mean going fire weapon + fire action skill?

He was saying that people say it equals a dps loss in general or isnt working with some stuff.

I think it’s just that it gets broken into two parts, the dot from the skill overrides the main dot, and then both parts get hit separately by resistance.

I think a better question is why anyone is going fire and then converting that into more fire?

Are bath salts that good?

It is a DPS drop most of the time but that’s not a bug, it’s just how the skill works.

If you’re shooting at an armoured enemy with a corrosive weapon, with 5 points in anima that’s 40% of your gun damage that’s doing shock damage and not benefiting from the multiplier of acid on armour, as an example. That’s a huge damage drop.

I think it was meant for early game builds, in your first playthrough almost everything is unshielded flesh and elemental weapons are uncommon so adding fire damage to your non-elemental weapons in that case is a big damage increase. It’s a great skill for that reason.

Come endgame, it only really works with an all Jakobs loadout to help with shield stripping and applying a DoT. Depending whether you have elemental or non-elemental guns, you have Anima or Infusion at tier I which by themselves aren’t great skills but situationally can make or break a build. This to me is brilliant design.


I ran Infusion as I leveled up the tree (Infusing the Tsunami SMG with Fire just because I could? Priceless.), but as soon as I could get Forceful Expression, I dumped my points out of Infusion and put them elsewhere, Forced is so nice because it’s bonuses damage, so even when you shoot the wrong targets (which you will. Because they really mixed up resistances around this time) you’re not losing anything.

Sustainment became Godmode when I got a Jakobs Companion. Get a com with Jakobs reload and you can fire into Tyreen forever and almost never die. EVEN IN AN IMMUNE STATE.

But keeping it for bonus DoTs of a different element than you’re firing makes sense. Oh, I need to try Remnant with the Dragon COM. I wish the Special Function wasn’t so…unsynergized?

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Yeah that’s about the vibe with every ■■■■■■■ com I see with this build.

The perfect one would be Tempest + Wrath but I’m pretty sure they weren’t dumb enough to do that >.>

I actually wanna try that. Sounds both fun and logical, two things I like.

Do Harm + Jab Cross

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