Smashing through the boundaries
Lunacy has found me
Cannot stop the battery
Pounding out aggression
Turns into obsession
Cannot kill the battery
This is more or less the build I used to get Athena from level 1 to level 50, so it’s thoroughly tested. It’s my opinion that stacking Maelstrom is sufficent to affect your DPS without investing too much into specific damage skills (sufficient for non-Raid content, anyhow). The skills we will be investing into instead will be geared towards defense and passive stack accumulation.
Rather than give a long, detailed guide, I’m going to list level milestones, which will represent the level at which you’ll get a new Quest Reward weapon and the spec I recommend at that level.
As for Legendaries, I also have a build for a few of my favorites, called [Blue Steel]
(http://forums.gearboxsoftware.com/t/id_for/4882), which is mainly a Xiphos (Melee) build with a mix of Phalanx and Ceraunic Storm to give you a lot of options in a single build. It utilizes Bladed Fridgia heavily, to boost damage by freezing enemies, but it has a few other tricks up its sleeve…
##Table: The Journey
- Level 4: Alternating Vandergraffen (Spec)
- Level 11: Zarpedon’s Cyber Eagle (Spec)
- Level 16: Miss Moxxi’s Vibra-Pulse & Defender Class Mod (Spec)
- Level 24: Toby’s Bright Spadroon (Spec)
- Level 31: Alternating Vandergraffen (Spec)
- Level 38: Miss Moxxi’s Vibra-Pulse (Spec)
- Level 50: Miss Moxxi’s Vibra-Pulse (Spec)
See Skill Details for Level 60 and 70
The above are simply the “main weapons” of this build. They were selected because they are easy-to-obtain Shock Quest Rewards. A level 16 Vibra-Pulse can easily last you until 30ish, but Spadroon gives you a lot more oomph at the cost of having extremely short range. Once again at 38, Vibra-Pulse can do the job until 48 or so when you finish True Vault Hunter Mode. You can pick up a Spadroon in between if you like, of course. Since Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode is free and can be reset, there’s not a lot of reason to save quests until 50 in True Vault Hunter Mode anymore.
That being said, True Vault Hunter Mode will scale to 50 after you complete “Beginning of the End”. To get a level 50 Vibra-Pulse, simply enter Moxxi’s Back Door from Triton Flats to respawn the chest. This will serve you well in UVHM, and you’ll get a new one in the mid-50s (exact level varies since UVHM scales directly to you).
It’s probably efficient enough in terms of leveling this build starting from UVHM to simply play until you get a new Vibra-Pulse, then reset UVHM and repeat. Along the way you might find stronger Teslas, Defender Class Mods, and Bomber Oz Kits. You can probably hold off on the upgraded Asteroid Belt until you reach the level cap, since any shield will do until the final boss, even the Slammer you can obtain along with Vibra-Pulse.
- Miss Moxxi’s Vibra-Pulse
- This is a pretty strong blue-rarity Shock Laser stat-wise, but what really sets it apart is its special effect: the beam can chain to an additional enemy, and you gain back health equal to 2.5% of any damage dealt while holding this gun. Any damage. Teslas, Return Fire, Superconductor, Smite, Oz Slams, etc…
- Fixed parts
- Option Slot (see Gear Details section)
- Option Slot (see Gear Details section)
- Option Slot (see Gear Details section)
- Asteroid Belt Shield
- Has a chance to shoots Explosive Homing Meteors when hit, which are boosted by Maelstrom. I especially like it because the Meteors can hit at any range. Hits that are absorbed by Aspis will not trigger the Meteors, but Asteroid Belt will still cover your flank. Ideally you’ll have one of every DOT-causing elemental immunity, but Grounded and Alkaline are the most useful at the moment because of the giant Sentinel inflicting these two DOT all over the arena. I like this shield in particular for this fight because the homing meteors it shoots can easily kill Serra Wardens, who are jerks and deserve it.
- Priority: Grounded > Alkaline > Warming > Inflammable
- Tesla Grenade
- Lobbed or Longbow with the shortest Fuse Time you can find. Since Vibra-Pulse doesn’t deal that much damage on its own, you should throw these liberally. Most of the time you don’t even need to shoot.
- Bomber Oz Kit
- Free (and more powerful) Teslas! Since they’re the main source of damage and healing, this is the most sensible choice. Try for Shock, but I wouldn’t stress about the element or damage while leveling. The important bit is the Grenade Damage and Free Grenade Chance, because that directly affects your Tesla efficiency.
- Supercharged Defender Class Mod
- All of the bonuses this Class Mod gives are awesome. Having 100% chance to activate Superconductor accounts for a lot of free Maelstrom stacks, frequent Conduit activations, and decent, free damage. The boosted Conduit obviously benefits from this as well, and United Front increases Shield Capacity (thereby helping Conduit), and gives another way to keep shields topped off. This is by far my favorite defensive Class Mod for Athena.
- Shield Capacity
- +5 Superconductor
- +4 Conduit
- +4 United Front
As you can see, this build functions without so much as a single Legendary. The main gun and shield are guaranteed, and the rest of the gear is just random loot. Since the Item of the Day in vending machines is always Blue Rarity or higher, it’s really easy to itemize this build compared to others that need specific Legendaries. The hardest thing to get will probably be the specific Class Mod.
- 1/1 Maelstrom
- Increases Elemental Damage per stack, gain stacks when dealing Fire/Shock damage. Tesla grenades build enormous amounts of stacks. Note that this boosts ALL damage that isn’t Non-Elemental or Bleed. Use your imagination.
- 4/4 Storm Weaving
- Increases Elemental Effect Chance and Fire Rate for 9 seconds after swapping weapons.
- 5/5 Gathering Tempest
- Simple, but effective. Increases Mag Size and Reload Speed.
- 4/5 Conduit
- If you have an active Shock DOT, you recover Shield capacity based on Maelstrom stacks. Especially useful during times when Aspis is on cooldown, and easy to activate with Teslas.
- 1/1 Smite
- When airborne, successfully shooting an enemy deals substantial Shock and Fire splash damage based on Maelstrom stacks. 12 second cooldown, won’t trigger below 10 Maelstrom stacks.
- 5/5 Superconductor
- Enemies that hit Aspis have a chance to be Shocked, which gives Maelstrom stacks. Can apply DOT, which triggers Conduit. 5 Bonus stacks in addition to stacks from damage. Surprising range. 100% Chance at 10/5.
- 1/1 Zeus’ Rage
- Aspis throws start a Fire/Shock storm where they hit, based on the damage absorbed. With Wrath of the Goddess, each bounce will trigger its own storm.
- 1/1 Hades’ Shackles
- Slam Augment that put Shock Tethers onto nearby enemes. After a 3 seconds if the tethers are still active, or the enemy dies while tethered, they emit a Fire Nova and you gain bonus Maelstrom stacks. Convenient way to build some stacks quickly, but completely optional.
- 5/5 Ephodos
- Gun Damage and Movement Speed while Aspis is active.
- 3/5 Vanguard
- HP recovery while Aspis is active based on absorbed damage. Doesn’t seem that great when you first put the shield up, but as you absorb damage it starts to take off. Vibra-Pulse heals more than this can ever hope to, though.
- 5/5 Hold the Line
- Aspis duration. EXTREMELY useful. Many skills in Phalanx work during Aspis, which this extends.
- 1/1 Prismatic Aegis
- Aspis stores the element of absorbed damage, allowing Maelstrom stack gains from absorbed Fire/Shock damage when thrown.
- 1/5 United Front
- Shield Capacity and damage absorbed by Aspis recharges your shield. Works well with Conduit. Boosted by Defender.
- 1/1 Clear!
- Thrown Aspis revives allies, and 1.4x damage in Fight For Your Life. Bounced throws with Wrath of the Goddess can also revive allies.
- 5/5 Return Fire
- Reflects bullets and lasers that hit Aspis, damaging enemies and gaining Maelstrom stacks from Fire/Shock rounds.
- 1/5 Prepare for Glory
- Causes enemies to focus you when you activate Aspis, increases Gun Damage for each enemy that you absorb damage from. Keep 1 point into this for the aggro-drawing effect, or if you play solo, put it elsewhere.
- 1/1 Wrath of the Goddess
- Aspis throws bounce to up to 4 additional enemies, triggering Zeus’ Rage (and potentially Clear!) with each hit. -33% damage each bounce.
- 5/5 Gun Kata
- Increases Gun Damage, and gives a Melee Damage bonus after shooting an enemy. We use this for the Gun Damage and to get to Omega-Senshu.
- 5/5 Omega-Senshu
- Multiplies ALL damage dealt to enemies below 50% health. In UVHM, this is extremely useful against Badasses, who have more health relative to previous modes than other enemies, and Bosses.
- 1/1 Rend
- Causes enemies you hit with Melee to Bleed, dealing damage over time. This isn’t a Melee build by any means, but Rend can give us access to a few useful effects such as Tear and Bloodlust, and heal us through Vibra-Pulse.
- 5/5 Bloodlust
- Heals a percentage of Max Health per second per bleeding enemy. Along with the healing just from the Bleed damage through Vibra-Pulse, this can come in handy. You could also Blood Rush several enemies consecutively to stack more and more heals.
- 5/5 Tear
- Multiplies damage against Bleeding targets. Along with Maelstrom stacks and Omega-Senshu, this will be a substantial boost to Vibra-Pulse’s otherwise anemic damage. Use it well.
- 1/1 Blood Rush
- Melee Override. Rush towards an enemy and deal extra Melee Damage. If this applies Bleed to an enemy that wasn’t Bleeding (Rend is required), there’s no cooldown. While not a Melee build, we can still use Blood Rush for movement and the numerous benefits of causing enemies to Bleed.
Likely the first Unique Laser we’ll find in either mode, and it’s a pretty good one. Even better, it always comes in Shock, which our main element. Deadlift is guaranteed to drop one of these every time you defeat him, and since he respawns, this is quite farmable. I highly recommend trying to get one with the Dahl Stock, as it improves Recoil and Accuracy Regen, and the Maliwan Grip gives the most damage per bullet, the highest Effect Chance, and more damage per reload than Tediore Grip. In Normal mode, you’ll outgrow this level 4 gun long before you reach Vibra-Pulse at 16, unfortunately. But in True Vault Hunter Mode, it will last you from 30 until 38 easily enough.
Zarpedon’s Cyber Eagle
One of few Jakobs weapons with an element, and it happens to be Shock! This thing is really neat, and it makes a good replacement for Vandergraffen in Normal Mode until you get Vibra-Pulse. I wouldn’t bother with it for TVHM though. Fixed parts, no farming required.
Toby’s Bright Spadroon
This is an interesting weapon. It’s similar to other Beam Lasers, except with a fraction of the effective range. It’s more like a Lightsaber. It’s the highest potential DPS Beam Laser, so with the survivability this build is capable of, we can certainly make use of it in spite of the short range. Wondrous against enemies who like to get close, less wondrous against enemies who fly away (assholes). As with Cyber Eagle, I wouldn’t bother getting one outside Normal Mode unless you really like it. Fixed parts, no farming required.
###Other Gun Options
This is one of the more powerful Assault Rifles in the game, and it also happens to be one of the rare Moxxi lifesteal weapons like Vibra-Pulse. Iwajira drops this, but it’s not guaranteed, which is why this isn’t the main weapon of the build. Available in any element but Explosive and Non-Elemental. This weapon does take some getting used to because it fires in a parabolic arc, but once you get used to aiming it you can take advantage of its supreme power and healing. Bullets split at the top of the arc, and each pellet has 80% Splash Damage. +200% Type A Critical Damage to boot. This gun has it all!
An excellent Explosive Shotgun. Shoots in a fixed triangular spread, with 100% additional Splash (most Torgue Shotguns have 85%), and spawns 3 Flak explosions per pellet that deal 100% Splash. With the Casual prefix, this gets 2 extra pellets that each come out stuck to one of the other three. More DPS than a Purple Bangstick even before you account for the Flaks. This weapon sits in between most other Torgue Shotties and Flakker in its power. Easier to use and obtain than Flakker, generally stronger than 1 or 2-barrel Torgue Shotties. For maximum effectiveness, jump into the air and shoot down towards your enemies. Pellets that miss will still leave Flaks.
Solid Tediore Rocket Launcher with increased Rocket Speed that always comes in Shock. It’s a good Fight For Your Life tool that maintains and benefits from Maelstrom. I like Tediore Grip, Torgue Exhaust, and Mag Size or Damage Prefix. Sight doesn’t really matter, the only sight that does anything useful for this Launcher is Vladof, which will increase Fire Rate. Tediore increases Reload Speed, but not by enough you should care, since Tediore Launchers already reload super fast. Maliwan increases Rocket Speed, but this Launcher already has insanely fast Rockets.
This Scav Shotgun is better than practically any non-Legendary in its brand. Similar damage to a Purple 3-barrel with the accuracy of a 2-barrel, and higher Fire Rate and Mag Size than either. It’s exceptional. It can come in any element but Explosive, so naturally it can be used in this build as Fire/Shock. The ammo cost could be an issue if you’re not careful. It has unique voice clips that play while you use it. Most of them are funny.
An interesting Tediore Shotgun, that shoots 10 (12 with Gentle prefix) pellets in a sort of sine wave cylinder, which stays mostly intact for the effective distance of the pellets. Pretty accurate for a Shotgun due to the pattern, but the slower bullet speed hurts it for long-range encounters.
Thorny Ol’ Rosie
This is the second-highest potential DPS Beam Laser behind Spadroon, but with normal Beam range and can come in Shock, Fire, Corrosive, and Cryo. Huge damage. Not much else to it. When you turn in The Beginning of the End, if this isn’t Fire, quit without saving and try again. Vibra-Pulse is a good enough Shock Laser for our needs, so having this in Fire will round out our coverage.
An unexpectedly good Nova shield, once you understand it. It has an uncommonly low Capacity, Nova Radius, and Damage, but exceptionally high Recharge Rate and a short Recharge Delay. Since the Defender class mod adds to Shield Capacity, and United Front further increases it, the low capacity becomes less of an issue and the Recharge Rate and Delay become more appealing. The low damage/radius is actually a blessing, since you don’t lose much from using parts that are intended to increase these attributes. I like to look for an Immunity prefix (it can spawn with any of them), and either Bandit or Tediore parts in the other slots, which increase Recharge Rate.
Miss Moxxi’s Slammer
This is an interesting, if not particularly impressive shield. Since you get it along with Kiss of Death and Vibra-Pulse, it’s worth mentioning as a guaranteed shield. Booster Shields tend to have good all-around shield attributes, and the boosters are nice in theory, but unfortunately the fact that you have to pick them up manually really hurts them, especially since this build spends a lot of time airborne. This one drops special boosters that give Movement Speed, Fire Rate, and Reload Speed bonuses in addition to the partial shield recharge. The chance is pretty low no matter which parts it has, so the parts don’t matter too much. If you enter Moxxi’s Back Door from Triton Flats, the chest will respawn, allowing you to farm this shield, Kiss of Death grenade, and Vibra-Pulse.
This Adaptive Shield is basically identical to any other blue-rarity Adaptive Shield, except for increased HP Bonus, and the additional effect of passing Damage-over-Time effects that are on you to enemies you Melee. We don’t use that effect really, so for us it’s just a force-quit-farmable Adaptive Shield with extra Health Bonus.
Since they have enormous capacity, they play well with the shield-recovery focus of this build.
Like Haymaker, they have good capacity and give bonus health, and the elemental resistance can be a blessing. Between these and Turtle Shields, you should have plenty of options while leveling up even when you outgrow your quest rewards.
###Oz Kit Options
Simple, but effective. This Oz Kit enables Oz tanks you pick up to restore 25% of your HP. Considering pretty much every single enemy you kill will drop one, this is a great effect to have early in the game, before you get Vibra-Pulse. Less useful afterwards.
An excellent DPS Oz Kit. This adds a damaging Non-Elemental shockwave to your shots at the cost of Oz, which is quite potent even though it’s not boosted by Maelstrom. In atmosphere, this can trigger rapidly since your Oz refills quickly. The damage that it adds will heal you through Vibra-Pulse, so this is a great way to add to your damage and healing simultaneously.
##Videos (Level 60)
See the old thread for level 50 content: