SIBERIAN NUCLEAR WINTER
Nuclear winter is coming.
This was my first build back when the game was released and Mayhem 3 at level 50 was the limit. A lot has changed since then and so too has this build. Although the nuclear winter theme has still been retained, its evolution from levels 50 to 65 has radically transformed it into a shotgun build that is viable at Mayhem 10 and a lot of fun to play with! So what exactly does this look like?
Siberian Nuclear Winter is still invested in the Shield of Retribution skill tree like it has been since its earliest form, and we’ve progressed down the tree without sacrificing health gate. But unlike before, we’ve shifted focus from Bottomless Mags and placed a majority of the skill points into Demolition Woman instead. Although Fire in the Skag Den is absent, you can tell by the gear why maxing out Grizzled is the path we’ve gone for instead.
In attaining the capstones from the main two skill trees of the build, we only have 11 points left to spare. That’s why Rushin’ Offensive is the end of the road but because we don’t get access to Specialist Bear and its hefty damage bonus, we can use Auto Bear to mix up the hardpoints and augments. It might not be optimal but for the sake of keeping with the build’s main theme, there is one Minigun + General Winter paired with one Vanquisher Rocket Pod + Hammerdown Protocol so that even Bear contributes with both cryo and radiation damage. With the skill build out of the way, let’s check out the gear that defines this build.
Blast Master is honestly the best overall choice in terms of what we’re aiming for. Because we can have 2/1 Redistribution which is going to give us 10% ammo regen per second, we in theory should never have to reload unless we’re spamming shots like mad. The bonus points in both Vampyr and Pull the Holy Pin don’t matter a great deal; it’s more important to have +1 Redistribution and the right passives, such as shotgun damage being of primary concern. The next best ones to aim for are splash damage and weapon damage.
Victory Rush is the best artefact here, one reason being a better range of passives. AOE damage and magazine size are the two most crucial ones to acquire, but you can also have shotgun damage, cryo damage or radiation damage. The two prefixes to aim for are either Ice Breaker or Atom Balm. The former will grant you bonus damage on frozen targets, while the latter will allow radiation to spread across the battlefield more easily.
The Pearl of Ineffable Knowledge is just simply stacking even more gun damage on top of everything else. You can get magazine size as a passive bonus but that’s about it. It’s an option you can utilise seeing as two of our chosen shotguns also hail from DLC2.
Frozen Snowshoe (or the Frozen Heart if you have it) is the shield of choice for this build, along with the anointment where novas are triggered each time Moze enters and exits Iron Bear. Even the anointed novas are the same powerful cryo ones from the shield itself which insta-freeze about 90-95% of all enemies in the game. Because we’re using this anointment instead of the extra cooldown rate per kill, that’s why Grizzled is an important pick in tier 1 of the blue tree.
Hex is not exactly the strongest grenade in the game like it was back when level 50 was the cap but we want it in this build, specifically in radiation as well as the 25% OGT anointment if you can find it. The nuclear winter aspect of the build is already set at this point: a radiation grenade, a cryo-nova shield that insta-freezes and an AI mech that deals both cryo and radiation damage in addition. There are enough frozen and irradiated enemies around you already, so much so that you don’t even need your shotguns to be cryo or radiation!
Anarchy is the absolute strongest shotgun in the game without question. If you’re the type of player who just wants one shotgun to do everything for you and don’t care about the rest of the entries in this build, then the Anarchy can do everything: mobbing, bossing, inflicts splash damage, can drop in all elements and works very well with all of Moze’s best anointments. If you insist on driving yourself crazy by farming any one particular shotgun, this one has the most justification for such an endeavour. But you do need to own DLC2 in order to use it. Because it stacks gun damage anyway, I tend to prefer getting splash anointments for this shotgun, but would go for consecutive hits on every other shotgun.
Tiggs’ Boom is a really fun Torgue shotgun and can dish out respectable DPS too. I for one am not so fussy about the number of pellets it fires per shot. The Double-Penetrating prefix does more damage per single blast and has more synergy with Means of Destruction but the fewer pellets fired, the more accurate the shots are to land and plus the gun is more conservative with ammunition. I do recommend looking for one that has a mag size of 5 just so that it makes your life easier and less likely to reload this weapon. Just don’t get too close when the meteors hit!
Insider can dish out a substantial amount of DPS yet its projectiles have weird firing patterns and trajectories. It’s one of those weapons I prefer to use against bigger targets as it’s easy for a few projectiles to miss when fighting smaller enemies. The biggest appeal of this DLC2 Maliwan shotgun is that its shots can penetrate, so you want to make an effort to move around and line up mobs whenever possible.
Trevonator is the only gun on this list that was also part of the original level 50 build. Although it has been left behind in the dust by other shotguns as well as weapons in general since then, and despite the base damage on the card suggesting that it’s noticeably weaker than other shotguns out there, its firing pattern actually has incredible synergy with Short Fuse and the higher the Mayhem level, the more damaging the capstone skill becomes. The shotgun named after Trevor Eastman rides that wave of Mayhem-scaling power and still has quite a kick to it. I’ve successfully cleared places like Slaughter Shaft and Maliwan Takedown, at level 65 in Mayhem 10, with the Trevonator being the sole weapon in action.
I did test many other shotguns for this build but wanted to keep it brief with just four making the final cut. The Lob is certainly powerful enough, has decent synergy with Short Fuse and it was doing real work in testing at Slaughter Shaft. However, the orb itself is just gun damage; it doesn’t deal splash unless the orb collides with an object or surface, thus Means of Destruction will hardly get used when this weapon is in action. And then there is the Fearmonger which can certainly do quite a few things, but is not flexible on elements (because it only drops in cryo) and it’s locked behind the Bloody Harvest event and so will eventually be several levels lower than all the other shotguns as time goes on.
For those who might question it, I did in fact test this build with a Urad setup (and with a cryo grenade) but it greatly decreased survivability and did not yield enough DPS to justify going down so much. The thing about Urad is that even though it is its own multiplier in the damage formula, it doesn’t actually account for bonus elements or splash damage, the latter being a big part of Moze’s meta and a huge part in this build. It made more sense for both DPS and survivability to regain health gate, switch to consecutive hits and/or splash anointments and use the Hex in radiation instead of cryo. The radiation DOTs from the grenade also make better use of Rushin’ Offensive for extra sustain.
The nuclear winter aspect is generally reserved for mobbing; it’s not going to be as effective against bosses which is why I said that the shotguns themselves do not have to be strictly cryo or radiation. To make this build more effective, you have to be more aggressive and be willing to get closer to the action than what Moze is accustomed to, both in terms of utilising the gear for the nuclear winter effect as well as the fact that this is a shotgun build at the same time. But that’s what makes it so fun in the first place!