Nuclear winter is coming.
Out of all the characters before their skill trees were revealed, Moze intrigued me the most simply because of Iron Bear being unlike any other action skill that has been experienced before in the Borderlands universe. However, her mech suit has the longest cooldown period out of all action skills in BL3 which means two things: we need to be smart about how and when we use it, and we have to make Moze very self-sufficient outside of the mech suit.
Combining certain skills and gear, I’ve come up with a build that extracts the best parts of each skill tree. Although neither skill tree is maximised 100% in terms of allocation of skill points plus specific choice of gear, the overall approach that this build opts for ends up with a more complete package. That was why the original name of this build was Jill Of All Trades, as it was a build that had been tested extensively and had passed and completed TVHM in Mayhem Mode 3.
But that was before the arrival of Mayhem 4 and Maliwan Takedown. Since then, in the short amount of spare time I can afford, I’ve worked hard on fine-tuning the build to not only be capable of handling Mayhem 4, but doing so in a way where it gets to at least retain, if not further develop its own unique identity. Because of the challenges Mayhem 4 presents in its totality and without resorting to anything that can be labelled as ‘cheese’ be it Tediore-chucking, Unforgiven crit-boosting with slow-travelling projectiles or anything involving mass-shock spam at your feet while wearing a Transformer shield, it’s inevitable that we will need to swap weapons and gear to accommodate for both mobbing and raiding. But what will remain constant and unchanged is the allocation of skill points.
In its newest form, the build is named Siberian Nuclear Winter and the reason for that is mostly to do with Moze’s proficiency with incendiary damage and implementing the usage of cryo and radiation along with it. The former is obviously great for slowing down enemies and freezing them in place for easy damage. But while radiation deals DOT damage, it’s also a form of splash damage which is a prominent feature of this build’s mobbing potential. What’s also curious is that cryo does 50% bonus damage against armour, and radiation does 50% bonus damage to shields, but both do normal damage on flesh. That’s where fire damage comes to the rescue.
With that in mind, our build of choice is primarily focused on the Shield of Retribution skill tree, with some skills from the Bottomless Mags skill tree (to further increase DPS for Moze and Iron Bear both) and some skills from the Demolition Woman skill tree to extract more damage and utility both from splash damage and Iron Bear. But before we get to the skills, let’s check out the gear:
Weapon #1 – Trevonator – This shotgun has no charge time to put up with and is excellent for freezing mobs with such high cryo efficiency! For a burst-fire auto shotgun that deals splash damage too, it should pack a punch at the very least. For a build like this, try to keep an eye out for one with a 15-mag; you’ll get better results. Moze ideally should engage enemies from medium distance due to her affinity for splash damage, but this is the best weapon to use if some try to rush towards you for melee strikes.
Recommended elements and anointment bonus: Cryo + Radiation, with 120% bonus splash damage for 18 seconds after exiting Iron Bear - You could argue that with its damage potential, it should have the heavier elements instead, but such is the damage of this thing that once the flesh is exposed, the bonus fire damage from Moze’s skills can provide a boost in damage for the two main elements. My current shotgun has bonus shock damage instead but despite that, I did a solo run on M4 Slaughter Shaft using this 95% of the time, so believe me when I say this shotgun does some serious work!
Weapon #2 – Kyb’s Worth – The previous iteration of this build ran with a Westergun which is a great alternative and ridiculously easy to farm in comparison to the SMG of choice here. But this thing is worth it! You want to get one with a mag size of 44, unless you have a relic which buffs mag size by +40% in which case you can just about make a mag size of 34 work. Compared to its predecessor, the Kyb’s Worth does around twice the damage per SMG bullet, has higher fire rate, higher DOT chance and damage and can create a healing circle where your victims die. Because of it’s unique firing pattern, it’s not as ideal against targets at closer range as the Trevonator but it has higher projectile speed, so it’s better to use at medium distance.
Recommended elements and anointment bonus: Cryo + Radiation, with 120% bonus splash damage for 18 seconds after exiting Iron Bear - Such is the power of this SMG that you can run shock + corrosive if you’ve got one, but you can also use it effectively with cryo + radiation. My SMG in particular has a cryo efficiency of 258% which makes it one of the very best weapons in M4 for freezing enemies.
Weapon #3 - Lucky 7 - I have to confess, it feels odd to omit an assault rifle from a Moze build, especially for a pistol. But this new legendary warrants it and then some! At its worst, it’s completely useless and whatever roll you have, you’ll lose it if you either swap weapons, fast travel to another map or go down into FFYL. But if you have RNG on your side, this thing can become something that can deal crits with every shot, deal splash damage and fire 7 pellets at once. Once you have that roll, do NOT go crazy and just empty your chamber as fast as possible - keep it going and don’t swap weapons either!
Recommended anointment bonus: 50% bonus incendiary/corrosive damage in the next two magazines after action skill end - The elemental slot on this weapon always makes it inflict shock damage which is why it should be the designated weapon for heavier elements outside of the build’s namesake. Moze’s skills will deal bonus fire damage anyway which is why it might be a good idea to throw in corrosive damage for the trifecta of heavy elements, but incendiary will work too seeing as most enemies are fleshy.
Weapon #4 – ION CANNON – It’s a heavy weapon that fires a laser, it’s Vladof with the customary higher magazine size, it can crit easily and it deals insane splash damage. What’s not to love? There used to be a non-unique Maliwan sniper rifle in this place but as much as I loved that gun, it’s impossible to ignore this new one. It’s also a guaranteed drop every time you farm the Fabricator so you may as well gather a stockpile. Even with no anointment bonuses of any kind, I’ve seen a non-elemental version of this weapon do over 3 million in overkill damage!
Recommended elements: Kinetic, with 120% bonus splash damage for 18 seconds after exiting Iron Bear - You can farm this weapon so much that you can get it in all the elements or variations you desire in far less time than most other legendaries in the game. For standard mobbing, the kinetic version easily suffices. For something like the Maliwan Takedown, you want raw damage on shields and armour, so look out for ones in shock and corrosive.
Grenade – Tracker – Mayhem 4 is not at all kind to grenades, but this non-legendary packs a punch and always homes in on enemy targets. The more stats in it that create more grenades, the better. A few variations will easily allow you to get 20 or more explosions from a single grenade, and all those explosions can trigger certain skills from the Demolition Woman skill tree.
Recommended anointment: On Grenade Thrown, Weapon, Grenade, and Action Skill Damage are increased by 25% for 6 seconds - This anointment bonus is practically tailor-made for Moze. Even Iron Bear will be able to profit from this. What’s fantastic about it is that it’s a damage bonus that doesn’t require kill skills, exiting Iron Bear, jumping or sliding to activate. You just simply need to toss grenades which there will be an abundance of in this build! If you can get this anointment bonus on a Tracker which has MIRV x1, MINI-MIRV x1 and BOUNCY x1 in the list of stats, that is THE god roll of all grenades in the game!
Shield - Big Boom Blaster – 60% chance of a booster that restores 60% of max shield capacity? A grenade refill for each booster? Moze says yes please! Granted, this shield doesn’t have a max capacity worthy of mention, but if you’re fortunate enough to find one that has +25% or even +50% capacity, you’ve done pretty well!
Recommended anointment: 5% health regeneration after action skill end for a short time - You can choose the anointment bonus for 75% bonus shields and health if you prefer, but Moze only has one sustain skill available to her and it’s not a form of steady health regeneration which is why I usually lean towards this one.
Class Mod – Blast Master – As long as you don’t reload your guns, you can get up to an extra 100% splash damage on all guns and grenades that inflict it. This bonus also applies to Iron Bear’s arsenal that inflicts splash damage! For this build, it is CRITICAL (pardon the pun) that this COM has +1 for Redistribution, +2 for Pull the Holy Pin and +2 for Vampyr as a necessary balance.
Relic – Last Stand Victory Rush – The previous iteration of this build used a Deathless relic which will still suffice in almost all content if you’re struggling to come across the specific relic of choice here. But the reason I abandoned it was because it’s just not reliable enough for Maliwan Takedown in M4. I say this having done a 1hp run on M3 and barely clinching it. Even if you reach the final home stretch in M4, Wotan the Invincible has too many adds and too many AOE attacks that just destroy your shields in a single hit, no matter how much capacity you’re carrying, and Moze doesn’t have bonus movement speed like Amara or Zane can foster.
The Last Stand prefix is actually more important than the base relic itself here, at least for Maliwan Takedown where emphasis on survival is more important than in any other content in BL3. The Victory Rush gives Moze two things her skills don’t provide her: movement speed and straight-up multiplicative damage, provided you kill a badass which there are plenty strolling around in M4. Because this is now in place of the previous relic, not only do we now have healthgate and a 5-second immunity window when our shields break, but the overall build in this synergy has actually increased as well compared to the previous version. If you can land this relic with at least one of the passive bonuses being +40% magazine size, consider that a god roll in relic drops for Moze!
As you can tell by the choice of weapons, everything is capable of inflicting substantial gun damage and splash damage. The shield, class mod and relic are permanent fixtures, but you might need to swap out one or two things depending on which enemies you’re dealing with or which scenarios are unfolding.
Laser Sploder - For those annoying little trash mobs, this gun still does work in M4 with this build. Best to get it in incendiary for standard mobbing, but I also have one in corrosive which proves useful against armoured mobs too.
Cutsman - Against bosses or large singular targets, it’s still perhaps the best SMG in the game for raw DPS. If you want ‘extra cheese’ with your order, you can fire several shots at the crit spot(s) and then swap to the Unforgiven like your life depends on it.
Recursion - When you need a gun that serves as an equalising force against multiple targets, this is the legendary shotgun that everyone goes to. If there are too many enemies to make good use of the SMG, then use this shotgun instead.
Lyuda - Just for Graveward or other bosses who have the biggest crit spots on display, you can’t go wrong with a classic.
Wedding Invitation - A Jakobs sniper that can deal splash damage and has cryo-ricochet bullets. Incredible DPS, both in the individual shot and the bullets that chain to other targets. The only thing that holds it back from being part of the primary loadout is that at the time of writing this, it cannot be reliably farmed from any enemy and is only rewarded once per character as part of a seasonal mini-DLC.
Proton Rifle - If you don’t like the main heavy weapon for any particular reason, this non-unique Maliwan sniper rifle functions almost identically to it, just with less damage.
Nagata - This legendary grenade deserves a mention because although it’s not as good as our main grenade, it has an advantage over distance - it’s a longbow grenade and it delivers multiple explosions from great distance almost instantaneously. It’s a very handy substitute grenade mod to have in case the Tracker shows its few limitations in certain areas or against certain enemies.
We’re equipped for all content no matter what the game might throw at us, but now we go through the skill build to complete the picture and make sense of what we’re gaining with our skill points.
ACTION SKILLS – RAILGUNS
That’s right, dual Railguns for both hardpoints. As well as always dealing heavy elemental damage, they’re hitscan and they’re incredibly effective when used in conjunction with a certain Iron Bear skill.
ACTION SKILL AUGMENT #1 – CAPACITIVE ARMATURE
This is fantastic for stripping shields from multiple targets in a single shot. It’s a straight-up buff as well for the hardpoint, there is no penalty of any kind. It’s the first augment because the second one is best attached to the left arm.
ACTION SKILL AUGMENT #2 – CORROSIVE SABOT ROUND
Looks like this Railgun augment was sponsored by Torgue. 3 shots in the magazine, deals corrosive damage and splash damage too so it will benefit from the bonus splash damage we get from the legendary COM. In conjunction with the other augment, Iron Bear now specialises in corrosive and shock damage, with Moze dealing more in cryo and radiation, with fire obviously being the main one that the pair share between them. All the elements are covered!
Security Bear (1/1) – Iron Bear might grant Moze temporary invincibility, but that doesn’t mean he is invincible. Let’s keep him on his feet just a tad longer by giving him his own shield; it’s only one skill point and 50% extra armour as a bubble shield is generous.
Armored Infantry (5/5) – So long as you keep your shield up (which is the whole name of the game in the red skill tree,) you’ll get gun damage and damage reduction to make life harder for those trying to break your shield.
Drowning In Brass (5/5) – This is an obscene tier 2 skill for bonus gun damage, where you can get up to +60% for you and your allies, and each stack lasts for 15 seconds. The fire rate penalty is negligible.
Thin Red Line (2/3) – You’re basically taking 40% of your max health and making it part of your max shield: 40% health suddenly becomes harder to deplete by any non-shock/radiation damage AND it can automatically recharge itself unlike health! But we’re only spending two points on it because we need to keep Moze’s max health in check and safely above 50% in order to maintain healthgate.
Vladof Ingenuity (2/5) – We’re only spending 2 points on this skill as part of a delicate balancing act: we want to progress down the full length of the skill tree with the bare minimum of skill points necessary. The shock damage resistance yields diminishing returns (we get 25% for 2 points) and 6% max shield per level is a tiny amount at 5 points anyway considering our legendary shield doesn’t boast great capacity by default.
Full Can of Whoop-Ass (1/1) - I ignored this skill for a long time because Moze’s shield recharges when inside Iron Bear anyway. But then I experimented with a different way of utilising Iron Bear and suddenly, this one-point skill started to show its true potential. Even if you immediately exit Iron Bear after summoning him, this skill carries on for a few seconds and recharges your health without being stopped by any damage!
Experimental Munitions (1/1) – This is 10% bonus damage on ALL damage you deal in a single crit shot, and it’s incendiary damage, meaning multiplicative as well as elemental damage. It’s awesome that Iron Bear gets to enjoy this skill as well.
Desperate Measures (3/3) – Normally, I’m not all that keen on skills that are contingent on you having low health in order to function at their best. Having said that, the skill does have synergy with Thin Red Line – at 60% max health that’s a constant, passive buff of 20% gun damage and it can get lower if your health dwindles upon shield break. And again, Iron Bear gets to join in on the fun as long as Moze has some health missing.
Phalanx Doctrine (5/5) – Moze arguably might have the strongest tier 5 skill in BL3 out of all the Vault Hunters. Each stack might have its own individual lifespan, but that’s 30 seconds for each stack. The amount of bonus gun damage and max shields you could accrue through this kill skill could be enormous and with the right room-clearing weapons for mobs, you could easily see this skill accumulate 10 or 20 or more stacks!
Tenacious Defense (1/1) – This works really well with our legendary shield and relic. When the shield breaks, the immunity from the relic kicks in, you get 40% shield back and you just need one booster to recover the missing 60% so you can trigger this skill again if needs be. Even if the immunity is on cooldown and you go down into FFYL, you still get +30% extra gun damage for 30 seconds. Combine this with the other skills mentioned above, and you can reach well in excess of +150% gun damage!
Cloud Of Lead (5/5) – If you do the maths behind the free bullets, this skill equates to +33% quasi-increase in magazine size in addition to the bonus fire damage. The skill also applies to Iron Bear’s weapons. There’s also a neat trick you can pull off by exploiting this skill which I’ll explain later!
Dakka Bear (1/1) - In this build, the turret’s damage is not that high at all. But the reason we have this skill is more for survivability - paired with a certain skill in the blue tree, Moze herself can man the turret and will be impervious to any damage coming her way! You might not need to use it much but when you’re exiting Iron Bear at a really bad time and don’t have anything else in the way for cover, this one-point skill might just save your life; more so if Full Can of Whoop-Ass is active!
Stoke The Embers (3/3) – 30% bonus fire damage, multiplicative damage that is, for both Moze and Iron Bear! And this doesn’t just boost the tier 1 skill above it, but it adds to the bonus fire damage in Experimental Munitions!
Redistribution [2/1] – If bonus fire damage for critical hits wasn’t enough, for 1 skill point we now also get 5% ammo regen per second for 3 seconds. Add the Blast Master COM’s bonus point, and that’s 10% ammo regen per second – we’ve essentially got the equivalent ammo regen of Redistribution + Forge and all it took was just 6 skill points and a suitable class mod! As long as we’re using guns with decent-sized magazines, we’ll benefit a hell of a lot from this single-point skill.
Scorching RPMs (3/5) - Thanks to the level cap increase, being lvl 53 allows us to finally get boosts for fire rate and crit damage. As the sole boost for the latter, it’s multiplicative with the default crit multiplier - with the exception of critical grenades, all your crit hits from weapons go up from x2 to x2.24.
Fire In The Skag Den (5/5) – It’s bonus fire damage (which gets buffed by Stoke the Embers too) whenever we deal splash damage, which is pretty much whenever we’re firing any of the chosen mobbing guns or using grenades.
Grizzled (3/5) - This is another skill I used to be quite critical of as it was perceived as a one-point wonder. However, it emerged that the diminishing returns of this kill skill can be less than a second. But the impact of the diminishing returns can be lessened if we’re only having to deal with a much shorter cooldown period for Iron Bear, which is exactly the case for us. 5 points would be fantastic if we had enough to spare, but we can make do with 3.
Means of Destruction (3/3) - In the previous iteration of this build which was designed for Mayhem 3, this skill was not part of the equation because it was overkill and the skill points would be put to better use elsewhere. But Moze might be the one Vault Hunter who suffers the most in the transition from M3 to M4, and Mayhem 4 demands overkill in its own way. When it comes to heavy weapons or other weapons with much lower mag size, it’s superior to Redistribution for ammo regen in the magazine. This skill is excellent with the Tracker as its multiple explosions make it very likely you’ll get refunded once if not twice or more for each grenade toss, making constant grenade-DPS an actual thing that Moze can do!
Pull The Holy Pin [2/3] – You might think that grenades doing double damage is the biggest selling point of this skill in a conventional sense, but for this build? It serves a greater purpose – it’s a trigger that can activate Redistribution! That’s why it’s critical to have +1 for the latter skill and at least +2 in this one.
Auto Bear (1/1) - If I had to say one thing about this skill, it’s this: if you intend on getting the best out of both Moze and Iron Bear in Mayhem 4, GET THIS SKILL! Seriously, once I started testing with it and realising just what it was capable of, I never think about allowing Moze to run a build without it, it’s THAT gamechanging! There’s a ton to be said about what this skill does in isolation and as a part of this build.
This build intends to use Auto Bear 100% instead of piloting Iron Bear, which means we don’t need to concern ourselves with Iron Bear’s armour or fuel. It rewards you for exiting Iron Bear as early as possible, and gives Moze the chance to be in the ballpark for the more temporary anointment bonuses. It’s a major DPS buff in itself to have Moze and her guns outside of Iron Bear while the latter acts as a sentry turret. That’s why he’s got dual Railguns on his arms; an AI with hitscan weapons is so effective that I’ve seen Iron Bear snipe enemies to death from great distances! This skill is also the reason why Moze herself is able to use Dakka Bear if needs be. Or if you need to run for cover, he can take aggro and block shots.
Vampyr [2/3] – With the Deathless relic out of the picture, now this skill features a lot more than in the build’s previous form. 8% missing health per grenade might seem very low but what you have to bear in mind is that a) it counts the whole grenade, including ones which release multiple explosions and b) thanks to Thin Red Line reducing our max health to 60%, that missing 40% gap in max health counts as a constant, passive buff towards boosting the effectiveness of Vampyr and because of that, even if for argument’s sake you had 1 hp remaining, one toss of our chosen grenade even at 8%, is enough to recover our health back above 50% and within healthgate. It also works for Iron Bear.
WHAT?! WHY DID YOU NOT CHOOSE…?
Selfless Vengeance – The health loss wouldn’t actually be a problem in this build but the bonus fire damage lasting only for 5 seconds is not an appealing combination worth handing over skill points for, and that’s not including the fact that we’re specifically trying not to reload at all in the heat of battle as it’s detrimental to one of the main reasons we’re using the Blast Master class mod.
Behind The Iron Curtain – It’s not a terrible skill but when you have shield boosters dropping out of your pockets on a regular basis, any investment in this skill is wasted points.
Force Feedback – For the exact same reason as the skill above.
Matched Set – It’s a good tier 1 skill, but it conscripts you into using allegiance builds to get the most out of it and by end game, you’re limiting yourself significantly if you’re trying to show corporate allegiance for the sake of a tier 1 skill.
Scrappy - It’s not bad, but it only works when on the move, and grants diminishing returns. It just doesn’t garner the attention of the other skills in tiers 1 and 2.
Deadlines - We’re not piloting Iron Bear, so fuel becomes totally irrelevant.
Torgue Cross-Promotion - I don’t find the appeal in this skill - 5 skill points just for a 15% chance of anything is bad enough to begin with, but doubling splash damage radius? It might help in mobbing, but it also means an increased chance of killing yourself.
Stainless Steel Bear - The extra fuel is rendered obsolete, the difference between extra armour and base capacity is negligible when Iron Bear functions more as a pet, and the extra damage isn’t as high as what Scorching RPMs would grant us, if we had extra skill points to obtain it.
THE FINISHED ARTICLE
Moze’s skills usually can have complications depending on which gear you utilise with her - some shields for example might be more of a hindrance than a benefit if their max capacity keeps fluctuating with Phalanx Doctrine in the equation. We’ve managed to eradicate such complications and increase the build’s overall synergy. The shields that are best for this build are the ones which suffer from low base capacity to begin with yet offer great bonuses and special effects including ones which help restore shields beyond basic recharge delay and rate, making the Big Boom Blaster the absolute best choice.
Because of Armored Infantry, Drowning in Brass, Desperate Measures, Phalanx Doctrine and Tenacious Defense it means we can enjoy bonus gun damage which can easily reach over +150% if not more depending on how many stacks you accumulate. Because of Stoke the Embers, Fire in the Skag Den and Experimental Munitions we can apply bonus fire damage to both critical hits (from guns and grenades) and any form of splash damage we inflict, with the fire damage on fleshy targets going up from +75% to +127.5%. Because of the Blast Master COM we can reap up to 100% bonus splash damage. And because of the Victory Rush we can get a bonus of 18% multiplicative damage applied to ALL of our sources of damage!
The only occasions where you will likely have to bite the bullet and reload are in boss fights where you’re using ammo-hungry weapons such as the ones listed as extra gear, Wotan the Invincible being the prime example of such a boss fight. For all other content, except for when you pick up spare ammo faster than yours can regenerate, you shouldn’t have to reload for 99% of the time. You have 2/1 Redistribution and if you’ve got +40% magazine size from your relic as well, that’s enough to make sure you don’t have to reload.
Means of Destruction is extra ammo regen on top of that as well as grenades in conjunction with boosters dropped from the shield. The more explosions you can get out of one grenade, the better as it means you can get a near-constant supply of grenades for extra DPS and extra sustain from Vampyr to keep your max health within healthgate. When it comes to her grenades, Moze works best as a recycler - if she chucks out more grenades and more explosions, she’ll get more grenades back to keep the cycle going. Whatever she lacks in terms of simple, unconditional damage compared to other characters, she makes up for with her prowess in grenades.
Auto Bear opens up a lot of options for you, both in DPS and survivability. In tougher battles, you’ll want to time your Iron Bear entries and exits wisely. This build does not rely on the GR perk Topped Off, that’s why we have Grizzled to help us out. But if you have the perk, then Full Can of Whoop-Ass and Dakka Bear can ensure that Iron Bear’s AI will be ready to be deployed as soon as possible.
In the old Jill of all Trades build, I tested the Big Boom Blaster + Deathless combination in Mayhem 3 and it worked out fine. It took a bit more tinkering with the skill trees, but the combination with this build can still succesfully clear all the Circles of Slaughter and Proving Grounds in Mayhem 4 if you prefer to use that relic instead. Just don’t expect it to work flawlessly in Maliwan Takedown or you’ll be in for a rude awakening.
Bonus Build Tip: if for whatever reason you have a particular hankering for another heavy weapon you love to use but it consumes a lot of rockets in one blast, then here’s the neat exploit I was talking about earlier when mentioning Cloud of Lead!
First of all, fire any other gun, the Trevonator is the best in the build for this example as it fires a burst volley of 3 shots, and count the shots. When you fire a Cloud of Lead round, fire 3 more shots (or if you’ve not got 5/5 points in the skill, however many shots it takes) so that the next bullet you would fire would be the CoL round. That’s when you switch to your favourite low-mag splash damage weapon of choice and fire a free round! In the case of the Scourge or any weapon that consumes more ammo per shot than what it contains in its mag size, it will still expend ammo from your total reserves, but it crucially will NOT empty your magazine and thus no need to reload and allowing you to build up the bonus splash damage from the Blast Master COM! Here is a bonus video to demonstrate:
Final note: this build will very likely be subject to change depending on what new content may arise in future DLCs, be it extra levels, new skill trees, new weapons, new enemy types or even raid bosses. Any new updates or information to add to or correct anything mentioned in this post would be greatly appreciated! And when I’m able to do so, I will try to get images of gear and if possible, maybe record and post videos exhibiting in the build in the near future!