A long time ago, I used to have a melee build where both Moze and Iron Bear went round and dished out fisticuffs to anyone foolish enough to stand in their way. It was a 50:50 hybrid build where Moze was rocking a Face-puncher half the time and for the other half, Iron Bear was bashing and smashing foes with dual Bear Fists just for fun! Because the Hyperion weapon delivers melee damage, it cannot inflict Short Fuse nor can it inflict critical hits with its base damage.
Hence, it was a Bloodletter build with an amp shield. But then the shotgun and the White Elephant artefact both got nerfed substantially, the latter more so. It wasn’t until recently that I felt like trying an alternative take on the build which resulted in an end product that is surprisingly effective.
I Know Gun Fu is a build that revolves totally around melee damage with supplementary gun damage, and the majority of points end up making it an unorthodox Bottomless Mags/Bear Mother build on the surface. Iron Cub is equipped with Bear Fists + Wild Swing but it doesn’t operate quite as one might expect and there’s a key reason why Cub has My Little Friend, all of which will be explained shortly.
Demolition Woman isn’t required much in this build because we’re not utilising splash damage. Deadlines plays a relatively subtle role here and because we’ve got Cub, any cooldown boosts are welcome including Grizzled. Rushin’ Offensive is a key skill because it frees us from resorting to the Knife Drain prefix, and we have Redistribution + Forge seeing as the legendary weapon of the hour is an unconventional one that doesn’t replenish its magazine so simply. We explore the full length of the purple tree to rack up the cooldown skills and Running on Fumes which plays a very pivotal role in this build, primarily because of our chosen class mod but let’s start with the weapons first.
Face-puncher is the palpable main weapon here. I personally prefer not to use the Redundant prefix that consumes 2 ammo per shot as it just means you’re going to have to reload on a more regular basis. In testing, it felt better and more reliable overall to use the standard version that consume just 1 ammo per shot. As for anointments, best one was definitely 150% bonus damage while Cub is active, with either Consecutive Hits or 150/90 being used when Cub is on cooldown. This weapon will chiefly be used for mobbing and parts of boss fights.
Guardian 4N631 is here so that we can swap to it during boss fights when we need to hurl grenades. With that in mind, 150/90 is the best anointment for the job.
Fish Slap is the very grenade we use for bosses to take off chunks of their health bars if not kill them with a single long-distance fish. The anointments here don’t really make a difference so it’s mostly about the parts that constitute the grenade. Even though the grenade itself is pure melee damage and doesn’t utilise grenade damage in practice, the parts that boost grenade damage do make a difference to the base damage stated on the item card. So the more roid parts you have, the better. I’d recommend this grenade in either corrosive or incendiary form.
Brawler Ward is the only shield pick worth considering for this build; Moze can’t rely solely on passive bonuses as her source of melee damage. But 300% bonus melee damage, 25% bonus gun damage and 4% health regen per second make for fantastic compensation when the shield is broken. In fact, you’ll want to get into enemies’ faces just to give them extra incentive to break the shield. Although it’s not that vital to the build, you can make Cub’s cooldown duration feel almost premature if the shield is anointed with bonus cooldown rate per kill.
Flare is what we’re going for here as that bonus V1 damage is not only super-strong but super-sustainable in this very build and here’s why. For whatever bizarre reason that could only be called Gearbox, Cub’s AI doesn’t actually use Bear Fist often unless the augment is Close the Distance because its essentially a ranged attack in that instance. But actual fist hits even when right in the enemies’ faces? Cub seems strangely averse to it. He can throw the occasional punch now and then but for the most part, it’s as if he’s suddenly very conservative with his fuel. While one might feel like berating the little bear for being a pacifist, don’t forget that his augment gives him an incendiary Vladof assault rifle which he does fire constantly, can land critical hits with it to help proc Redistribution for Moze and consumes no fuel in firing it.
But most importantly because of this augment, Cub is reliably triggering Running on Fumes which halts passive fuel consumption and even though summoning Cub doesn’t give you a full tank right from the start, a couple of kills will refund enough fuel to top up the tank. When Cub’s fuel supply seemingly takes forever to burn off, this is the perfect set of conditions for Moze to make the most of that massive chunk of V1 damage! Stainless Steel Bear is the best bonus skill obviously but it can’t drop with 5 points though. You’ll profit more from better passive bonuses on the COM rather than the bonus skills so things like weapon damage and melee damage are the main ones.
Cryo Stone Static Charge is an artefact I wish I had played around with more often in the past! Contrary to what the item card of the main artefact says, you don’t ever need to slide: each melee hit will always deal 50% bonus shock damage. With this artefact equipped, it’s as if you’re using the Brainstormer but always proccing chains with every successful shot. We want cryo stone for three reasons. One, it’s a great contrasting element to have in addition to the bonus shock damage. Two, it can help freeze enemies which means more bonus melee damage. And three, Superior Firepower at max stacks can double the cryo damage from the artefact’s prefix. Best passive bonuses are cryo and shock damage: they make a noticeable difference on the spongiest of enemies when they’re being shot at and zapped by all that static. The obvious two after them are magazine size and melee damage, preferably the former based on my experiences in testing.
Even though there’s no splash damage, no White Elephant and the featured weapon did take a 40% damage nerf a while ago, it can still hit like a truck in this build. The triumvirate of Flare + Static Charge + Brawler Ward gel in such a way where despite how irregular it appears to the trained eye of any Moze main, it makes great use of a build that is largely about the green and purple skill trees. And with Fish Slap + Guardian 4N631, you can breeze your way through bossing.
The key to really seeing this build’s true power is getting enemies to break your shield and then focusing on specific targets before Cub has a chance to reach them and tries unnecessarily burning off fuel by swinging at them. With the way the build is tailored, play it correctly and you should easily be able to maintain 80-100% of the bonus V1 damage from the COM for lengthy periods of time. You can apply the exact same principle to any other Flare build that revolves around your favourite weapons or even grenades.
One final note worth mentioning is that in my experience, I find Double Time plays an understated yet impactful role in your survivability as it’s not just the extra movement speed in itself but it also feels great in conjunction with Rushin’ Offensive for copious life steal. Although I did enjoy smashing things with Bear and his fists, I personally prefer this melee build as it’s more fun, more intuitive and much more effective at dealing with multiple foes and slaughtering bosses!