[Build] The Atrocious Thracian

The Atrocious Thracian

Are you not entertained?!


Athena is, to me, a quite puzzling character. Each skill tree of hers has its own dimension and use in gameplay, and you just won’t go too-too-well if you do not make your mix of the three of them, of course focusing on one. With The Atrocious Thracian, my goal is to do exactly that, but with an intensified spotlight on melee play while using the Aspis for more defensive rather than offensive porpuses, while leaning just a tad bit to the gun side. That way, we have the sword, the shield and the net.

In the skill tree breakdowns, I will be referencing the level 60 version of the build. Enjoy the read.

Phalanx breakdown

  • 5/5 Ephodos

    In a Borderlands game, one of the most important things is to have mobility, mostly because you have to keep avoiding fire and using the terrain to your favor. This skill is here exactly because of that. It offers movement speed when the Aspis is out, which will be good paired with Mercurial and Vanguard, since retreating for health is easier.

  • 4/5 Vanguard

    Wait a second… Aspis protects me from any frontal damage, but now it also can heal me?! This is a ranked skill, which isn’t very desirable, but… HECK YEAH.

  • 5/5 Hold the Line

    When you have access to something that absorbs damage, increases your movement speed and heals you over time, I can’t really think of a reason why you wouldn’t want to hold it for as long as possible, considering that the more damage it absorbs, the more it deals on the throw.

  • 1/1 Prismatic Aegis

    Gladiators need no education, nor no thought control. Maybe some dark sarcasm in the battlefield, but teachers SHOULD leave their kids alone. All in all it’s just another form of damage to the face.

  • 1/1 Clear!

    Useful for co-op play by making it harder to have your friends and frienemies shout at you for not reviving them, and useful for both plays by giving you 1.4x extra damage during FFYL. Why not?

  • 5/5 Return Fire

    Not only you will be reflecting bullets and lasers, but every reflected projectile counts as a shot fired by a Vault Hunter, so it can help you build Maelstrom up, trigger Gun Kata or Smite and, well, it’s projectile reflection! Maya would be proud.

  • 1/1 Wrath of the Goddess

    Mind the reduced damage? Don’t. Every single hit with this will trigger Zeus’ Rage, and that can easily bump you up to hundreds of Maelstrom stacks in a matter of seconds, depending on how many enemies receive status effects. Now, pull your metaphorical pants up and buckle them, because this is about to get awesome.

Xiphos breakdown

  • 5/5 Gun Kata

    This is one of the main skills in the tree, and it’s given to us at tier ONE! When boosted by a COM, this skill will grant +100% melee damage for a short time after shooting an enemy. You may ask me why that is great when the build is melee-centred, and I may slap you in the face.

  • 1/5 Clarity of Purpose

    This skill is not great. Not at five out of five and not at ten out of five. However, it is worth the point even if the COM you use does not boost it, since the only one-pointer left is the butt-ugly Epicenter and no other skill will provide a much better bonus than this one.

  • 4/5 Mercurial

    It backs Ephodos and helps in the previously mentioned mobility. Apart from that, it will also reduce the received damage while active, so that makes it even easier to find cover to either get Kinetic Aspis cooled down or just to make more use of Vanguard.

  • 5/5 Omega-Senshu

    This is the scythe we’ll use to separate injured heads from their helpless bodies. Specially useful against bosses or badasses, Omega-Senshu stands out for increasing your executing damage. With the right strategy, you can make use of this skill at the most ordinary battlefields.

  • 1/1 Rend

    When you think about it… this kind of makes sense. Doesn’t it?

  • 5/5 Bloodlust

    After the nerfing/fixing of legendary roid shields, Athena players won’t find themselves one-shotting too many things anymore. With that said, applying and keeping Bleed effects on enemies is more desirable than not, and Bloodlust comes to make that even truer. If it just ended there, it would be already worth some points, but this is also an alternative healing option, so… full spec!

  • 1/1 Blood Rush

    This capstone… yeah… this capstone. The skill has synergy with Rend and Bloodlust by being amazing for having the potential to make an entire group of enemies have Bleed effects, and also adds into the mobility factor. Just… just don’t make me explain any further, I think you need no convincing.

Ceraunic Storm breakdown

  • 4/4 Storm Weaving

    Mandatory for going down the tree, but that doesn’t mean it’s just dead weight. The fire rate is much appreciated, and the incentive to keeping momentum going by changing guns often is also something I don’t look down on. Synergizes well with guns like the Excalibastard and Sledge’s Shotty, that have a significantly low fire rate, and also with others like the Torrent and the Fridgia, which already do have a very high rate of fire.

  • 1/1 Maelstrom

    The best tier one skill in the game. I recommend taking this as your first point into the build, just because its bonuses to your elemental damage are unrivaled.

  • 5/5 Gathering Tempest

    Without any aiding, this skill gives us +40% magazine size and +25% reload speed. Both bonuses are welcome, since we will be seeing guns with quite low reload speed and others with bonuses to continuous damage when we get to the gear breakdown.

  • 1/1 Smite

    Put an Acrobat Oz Kit on and play Cthulhu. Yeah, this is what this skill does. Ignore whatever text the devs put in there, and trust me.

  • 1/5 Unrelenting

    As Sljm mentioned in his Blue Steel build, a single point in this skill is enough to make it noticeable at high Maelstrom stacks. With the following skill and Wrath of the Goddess, it’s really easy to work your way into the bonuses offered by this.

  • 1/1 Zeus’ Rage

    This skill is Ceraunic Storm. Of course you could say I’m going against my own words by speccing into this, and then I ask you: Where do you think this point could go? Epicenter? I don’t think so. Vanguard? What difference will it even make?! Zeus’ Rage. Sadly, we can’t throw Aspis in Cronus’ face flesh. Yet.

Gear breakdown

  • Excalibastard / Niveous Iterated Blaster / Bladed Fridgia

    The first slot is occupied by the main weapon of the build. You will be using one of these to freeze a target right before you melee it with Blood Rush, since frozen enemies take extra damage from melee sources. However, the weapon you choose will cause a heavy effect on playstyle.

  • Sledge’s Shotty / Doc’s Quad

    Here, we have the supporting weapon. These weapons will finish off an enemy or take care of anything that either melee attacks or the previous weapon can’t solve. Once again, we have a change in playstyle coming with choosing one weapon over the other, mostly because one of them is inherently bladed and the other one will focus on scoring critical hits.

  • Flying Torrent / Thorny Ol’ Rosie / Stimulating Iterated Blaster

    You want the weapon in this slot to have the Shock element, since it will be used to break enemy shields that do not break on few melee attacks. These specific weapons are here because they are known for either high rate of fire or damage.

  • Dastardly Maggie / Explicit 88 Fragnum / Anarchist

    The weapon chosen here will be used to quickly dispatch enemies by scoring deadly critical hits. Succint, isn’t it? Since this slot doesn’t bring very important weapons, choosing will not affect your playstyle all that much.

  • Warming Avalanche / Maylay Shield / Adaptive Shield

    The shield choice is probably the most important one in the build, since it can (and will) change how the build plays completely. Choosing a roid shield will give you less safety, but more damage output, and will give a feeling of “pure” melee play. In contrast, choosing the adaptive shield will provide much more safety, but will reduce the melee damage output. If you decide to go with the latter, a single point in Conduit is very much worth it.

  • Celestial Gladiator / Vicious Blademaster / Resolute Protector / Reaping Bloodthirster

    The Atrocious Thracian plays more nicely with Athena’s legendary COM than with others, since most (potentially all) of the skills it boosts are used and abused. However, we have two secondary options: The first one offering +5 to Gun Kata and +4 to Mercurial and Clarity of Purpose, thus making itself the more offensive route. The second one gives +6 to Vanguard and +5 to Hold the Line, thus being the more defensive and healing-focused option. The last listed item in this slot is intended for use over the previously chosen COM when killing bosses, given that you want it to boost Omega-Senshu with +6 and Clarity of Purpose with +5.

  • Longbow Storm Front / Sticky Longbow Quasar / Tesla Grenade Mod

    The choice for grenade mod depends heavily on your shield choice (I told you it was important). If you chose a roid shield, your best option is the Storm Front or an area-of-effect tesla mod, and if you chose the adaptive shield, it is the Quasar or a singularity tesla mod. Simple and fair.

  • Acrobat Oz Kit

    Even if you went the defensive way down with this build, the Acrobat Oz Kit is your best option, since the fact that this skill focuses on melee play is not changed. Also, air control is awesome. Nuff said.

Moxxtails breakdown

  • Brick’s Fist

    This Moxxtail grants you +30% melee damage output for half an hour, at the cost of only 20 Moonstones. Goes well with how the build plays and isn’t really difficult to get your hands on, given that it’s just a fast travel and some sprinting time away.

  • Lemon Lime & Bullets

    While guns are not this build’s main object, it’s undeniable that ammunition is needed in order to keep the flow of combat.

  • Fanalian Toddy

    Once again we have a more defensive route to choose, now in the form of a Moxxtail that grants damage reduction. The Toddy goes well with Mercurial and Ephodos, since it can keep you alive for longer while you run through the battlefield.

  • Hot Gazpacho

    If you have a bit of trouble landing status effects on enemies because they die too fast for you to get something out of it, this Moxxtail will help you get the DoT running earlier. All in all, good for building more Maelstrom stacks in less time.

Final talk

Now that we’re through with the build, you can go ahead and respec and try it for yourself! And if you like it, maybe you could provide a video for the build, since I have no experience with recording and would probably make my machine go boomtrap. In all seriousness, I hope you, my dear reader, like the build concept and even more that you like how it behaves in practice, if you decide to use it. Goodbye and see you (or not) on Elpis, Vault Hunters!


Nice to see more of the builds getting moved over

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Return Fire triggers Gun Kata, Smite, and Systems Purge.

Something to think about in lieu of Unrelenting.


Also, Blue Bloodthirster with +6 Omega-Senshu and +5 Clarity will help you wreck bosses more easily.

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Interesting. I’ll be testing Return Fire in UVHM, and as soon as I get my hands on a mod like that, I’ll do the comparisons. Thanks as always for contributing with the build, Sljm c:

What about the Juggernaut Oz Kit for the defensive route? Synergyzes well with the Blademaster COM and Mercurial

I think the bonus to melee you pick up from the Acrobat Oz Kit is just too good to pass up. Using something else would deviate from the build’s core roadmap, so I don’t put other Oz Kit options there. I do agree, though, that the Juggernaut Oz Kit works well with a few of the used skills, and could be a viable option, but not really for a melee-at-heart build.

Interesting build and somewhat similar to one I came up with a while back, although you’ve been able to field-test yours, and I haven’t with mine. With that said, wouldn’t it be better to allocate the five points in Bloodlust into a different skill (e.g. Tear) if you’re running a roid shield and just use a Moxxi weapon for healing, or do certain enemies at UVHM tend to survive the roid damage long enough for Bloodlust to take effect? (Also, if you’re like me, and you want to avoid Moxxi weapons in the first place, then just disregard my mentioning of them.)

Anyway, I’ll be keeping an eye on this build, especially if someone out there posts a video showcase.

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While the most commonplace enemies won’t survive much past a hit, maybe being able to tick Bloodlust one or two times before death, bigger enemies will already give a lot more. However, I have thought already of moving those points into Tear, but I think that would make my build tread far too close to Sljm’s Blue Steel, maybe not in terms of intended playstyle, but in skill point distribution. And I must say, that frightens me a bit, because there is a point in which an inspiration ends and a copycat starts, and I definitely don’t want to get to said point.

So now that the level cap was recently increased, what are your planned specs for this build at level 70?