Confusion about Anointments & Builds

I’ve just finished BL3’s main campaign for the first time (Amara), level 50, and am finding myself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff to take in. It’s having a paralyzing effect on me.

Do I do DLC? Which one(s)? Do I turn on Mayhem mode? Which level? What are these “Bloody Harvest” etc. things? Should I turn those on? What Vault Card should I activate? Should I do TVHM? Arms Race? Takedown?

And that’s the least of it.

Weapons now have Mayhem levels and anointments, and it’s very obvious from messing around a little on Mayhem 11 that even a load out (at level 50, nb) with all Mayhem 10 guns isn’t going to do a lick of damage without… well, I don’t know. I don’t understand why Mayhem 10 guns don’t do damage to Mayhem 10 enemies. Is it my weapons? My anointments? The fact that I don’t have a full skill point build yet? Why would I need that at level 50?

The upshot is that I tried - am trying - to dig into anointments, and I don’t understand how these work either. It’s said that they don’t stack if the anointments are “the same.” But what counts as “the same”? For instance, I have a shield that gives ASE +50% radiation, and I have a weapon that, for some reason, gives ASE +40% radiation. These are “the same” in terms of their category, but not in specifics. Will they stack or not?

I don’t see a lot of helpful info. on how to make a build or create a full loadout with synergized anointed gear. It’s usually just taken for granted that people already know this stuff.

What I’d like, just so I can envision what I’m shooting for (a basic, simple, viable Phasegrasp “Hellzerker” Amara at endgame), is to understand how to maximize my mixture of anointments. All I do now is put + Rad or Cryo on my shield and whatever-I-don’t-have-on-my-shield on my grenade. Don’t know what else to do. But then what do I put on my guns if the effects don’t stack?

I’m going in on the anointment question first because gear is the essence of things. Once I can get a handle on anoints I can understand builds better and the game will slow down for me. As of now, though, I feel at sea without a port and don’t have a clue what I’m looking for or what to do next.

EDIT: Sorry, I should add that one reason I’m messing around with Mayhem 10/11 so early is that I’m trying to level up to 72 as fast as possible. I have a bunch of gold keys, so I’ve got plenty of Mayhem 10 gear with the types of anoints I mentioned above. Maybe this is a bad idea? What if I just played through the DLC without Mayhem levels on and ran with Mayhem 10 gear? Would it take a while?

Again, just looking for pointers to help streamline the process and save time on experimentation which I don’t really have.

I’m afraid I don’t have the time just at the minute to answer all these questions (hopefully will soon), but if this is your first character I would recommend playing at Mayhem 1-4 and just trying to have fun. Level up through one of the DLCs and then worry about the other stuff.

Ok, so - DLC, Mayhem 1-4.

I hope you do get to inform me about at least the key things noted above. It’s really bothering me that I feel like I’m just walking forward in a dark tunnel. I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going or what I’m aiming for (besides the very general “an endgame build”).

It’s so different from the previous BL games I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it. Before, it was very simple. Play until you beat the game on a certain difficulty, come up to a level cap, then hit the higher difficulty. Rinse and repeat until max level. Then allocate skill points and use good gear.

The Mayhem stuff, anointments, “events,” Vault Cards, Takedowns, Arms Race, and whatever all else have me feeling like I’m at a never-ending buffet. Don’t know what to prioritize, what’s essential, what’s not, what’s, what’s what’s…

It’s crazy how small this game makes me feel.

*And in case it isn’t obvious, I appreciate you chiming in. I’m still very much on the fence with this game, and I want to give it every chance to win me over. As a rule, I never pass judgment on these games until I have a rich experience of the endgame, or, in the case of TPS, multiple runthroughs with all the VHs.

As of now, though, the main campaign seemed to me so exhaustingly long that I find it hard to imagine doing it again. Everything after the mansion in Eden 6 was work. Anyway, that’s way off-topic.

I would advise you not to worry about going deep into Mayhem levels (just focus on levelling up), events (try them if you feel like something different, or feel like you need some new areas), Vault Cards (just switch either of them on and let it happen passively, don’t redeem any legendaries from it until lv.72), Takedowns (good for when you have your endgame build) or Arms Race (a fun additional thing with particular guns/gear locked within).

For now, just go through some of the DLCs and enjoy levelling up your character. I would suggest doing them in the following order:

  1. Handsome Jackpot
  2. Guns, Love and Tentacles
  3. Bounty of Blood
  4. Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck
  5. Ava’s Mysteriouslier missions

As you come towards building your endgame build, the main four things you will need to learn about are (in no particular order):

  1. Guns
  2. Gear
  3. Skills
  4. Anointments

There’s a lot to learn about each one, so that’s why I’m suggesting we keep it simple for now. Trying to learn about everything at once would be overwhelming for most people.

As for anointments not being able to stack, this is if they are exactly the same. You cannot have “On action skill end - 50% bonus radiation damage with weapons for 10 seconds.” on both your shield and grenade. If you do, you will only get the effect once. If, however, you have “On action skill end - 50% bonus cryo damage with weapons for 10 seconds.” on your grenade and radiation on your shield then you could get both effects. 40% is a totally different anointment. Basically, if the text is exactly the same, then it is the same anointment and you want to make sure that the anointments you use between your currently equipped gun, shield and grenade are different. Then you will be fine.

A few tips which might help as you get to grips with Amara:

  1. There is an action skill in the red tree called Ties that Bind. This is extremely powerful.
  2. The best anointments for Amara are probably:

Shield/grenade: “On action skill end - 50% bonus elemental damage (specific element) with weapons for 10 seconds.”

Grenade: “On Grenade Thrown - Weapon, Grenade, and Action Skill Damage are increased by 25% for 6 seconds.”

Guns: “Consecutive Hits increase weapon damage by 1% per hit, misses remove all bonuses.”
“On action skill end - Next two magazines have 100% bonus elemental damage.”
“Killing an enemy grants 13% Weapon Damage and Reload Speed for 25 seconds, this effect stacks.”

There’s a couple others, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

  1. Best skills in red tree: Tempest, Illuminated Fist (if you’re trying a melee build), Indiscriminate, Sustainment (later on in the game, you only really need 1 point in this).
  2. Best skills in blue tree: Restless, Laid Bare, Remnant (again, only 1 point needed), Avatar.
  3. Green and purple tree are less important if you are doing a gun build, but I would try to take Personal Space (green) and Heavy Rain (purple).

Once you get to level 72 (which, really, there’s no rush), I recommend watching some build videos to see what you can learn. The following builds are widely recognised as some of the best:

LazyData’s Hellzerker:

Moxsy’s Khaos Queen:

Finally, if you want to get a deeper understanding of Amara, I recommend the following guides:

Both guides need a bit of updating, unfortunately, but the information there is solid and should be very helpful for someone wanting to sink their teeth into the game and get to know it.

I hope all this helps you and that you do persevere with the game. I, for one, am glad for all the time I’ve put into it and still enjoy it years after launch. It may feel overwhelming that there is so much to get your head around, but the flip side of this is there is always something new to do if you put your mind to it. There’s always new builds to make and new ways to play the game. Most of all, have fun!

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Very helpful.

I have looked at Lazy Data’s vids (that’s where I got the notion I’d go for Hellzerker), and I’ve read the Forum analysis of her skills and Top Gear. The skills are going to take a while to understand, as I get conflicting info. on a lot of them (some say never take Anima and always take Infusion; the skill analysis here seems to say that Anima is as good as/maybe better better than Infusion).

The anointment recommendation is very helpful. Very, very helpful. Now I at least know the ballpark of what I should be looking for.

Also appreciate you recommending me an order for the DLC. I’ve seen some people say you shouldn’t play one of the DLCs until you’re at max level, because you get some item sometime in it - the Pearl? Not sure. Which DLC is that?

The Pearl of Ineffable Knowledge comes in Guns, Love and Tentacles, so yes, you may want to save that for later. If you want to play it safe and be able to get all gear at lv.72, I would recommend avoiding The Handsome Jackpot as well. Then you can go back and do it once you are levelled.

Infusion and Anima both have downsides. Anima actually makes it easier for you to die as it not only increases the effectiveness of damage over time against enemies but also against yourself. Infusion, meanwhile, reduces the effectiveness of certain types of attacks. My current Amara build has one point in each of them and then 3 points in Steady Hands.

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First things first OP, it’s always a good idea to ask questions when you are confused. Trust me, something will always confuse you in this game, even once you do internalize all of this knowledge.

Secondly, I would suggest starting your journey to buildmaking with this All VH Formulas - Google Docs. It and the other sources linked with it exlplain just about the entirety of the Borderlands 3 damage formula. It is a lot to take in, so take your time reading through them and ask questions whenever you feel confused about anything.

So to your questions

All I can suggest is saving DLC 2 for when you are level 72 since you get a very powerful artifact (the Pearl of Ineffable Knowledge) that you can only get once on completion of a quest in that DLC. Otherwise, do them in whatever order whenever you want. They are all fun, and for endgame activities each has a use.

  • Scraptrap farming for easy XP in DLC 1
  • Ruiner Farming for a good combo of vault card XP, Guardian Rank XP, and eridium
  • DLC for testing builds against Psychoreaver and Spongeboss

Do you feel like you want more of a challenge beyond where you’re at right now? If so, turn the mayhem up until you feel comfortable. If not, stay on M0. I would further suggest not going beyond M4 until you hit level 72 if it’s your first playthrough.

Bloody Harvest, Valentine Massacre, and Revenge of the Cartels were seasonal events that were made permanent. They basically entail killing special spawns to unlock a portal to go to a map where you do a dungeon run, defeat a boss, and get special loot. The events make the game more difficult by adding more spawns, and drop some nice gear. Most people like having Cartels on, but Bloody Harvest has it’s own special anointments that just rad.

To keep things simple, go with the first one. It has much better gear imo.

There is no difference between TVHM and normal mode once you turn on mayhem. It’s just a way to replay the story with scaling enemies. You don’t need to ever touch it.

Do arms race if you like it, don’t if you don’t. Takedowns should wait until you have a good build put together to clear it well. They can be very frustrating without a build strong enough to handle them.

Yes, it is all of those. While some abilities mayhem scale and can get away with less investment to be usable at M10, most guns need a supporting build, somewhat decent gear passives, and decent anoints to perform well.

M10 came out 2 level caps after the level 50 cap, it was not designed with your current level in mind. If you were at level 57 with a somewhat finalized build, it would be significantly easier since the content has gotten easier over time.

If you have a gun with the “on action skill end, deal 50% additional damage as fire” on your shield and grenade, one of those will not apply. However, if you had one anoint dealing 50% as fire and one doing 50% as shock, those would both apply. There are very few anoints that can even have the opportunity to roll on multiple slots and stack, and there are only 2 or 3 that actually do (Amara’s Bloody Harvest specific anoint : terorr skulls).

As Amara, you typically want gun damage anointments when using guns instead of bonus elements. She doesn’t have a lot of that stat, so using things like Consecutive Hits, Kill Stack, or Phasecast 250 really help her damage output.

If you can’t clear M10 efficiently, it won’t be fast. Just turn up the mayhem to whatever the highest level you can comfortably handle is (I suggest Mayhem 4, because we were all using non-scaling gear in that mode before M2.0).

I know this isn’t super comprehensive, but it will be much easier to answer specific questions than try to give a general rundown. If there is anything in this post that confused you, please let me know and I’ll do my best to explain it.

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Thanks for the info. Would you mind showing me your build? It’ll give me an outline to work off of, if you don’t mind.

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Thank you very much for that overview. I’m sure I’ll be returning to this thread in the coming weeks. It’s more comforting knowing I have a few knowledgeable people to answer my “noob” questions and help me get up to speed.

I’m going to give it the old college try here.

With the damage formula, you know, I’ve looked at it for previous BL games and briefly checked it out for this one, and it always makes my eyes glaze over, as seemingly every variable in the overall formula has its own complicated formula (or it appears complicated, anyway). It goes without saying, I guess, that if I have difficulty processing such a formula, BL3 is not the only thing I’m a noob in. Math as well.

I can spell, though. Sometimes.


I’m horrible at math. Most of the theroycrafting community is, or at least we aren’t great at it. The actual math is not difficult, it’s basically just 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 with whatever damage modifiers you have. The hard part is just know what goes where in that formula, and keeping all of the modifiers as even as possible (2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 will be more damage than 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 1 x 10).


@Sejanus My advice to you would be to experiment by playing and figure out how YOU like to play the game. Honestly, it’s hard to make a “bad” build in BL3 because there are so many skill points and so many good weapons. It is not as much like some of the other Borderlands games (or even other FPS/RPG games) where you really have to optimize if you want to play at max level. There’s a lot of stuff that works.

Figure out what you like and what you think works for you, and then just play the game. There is no secret formula. Have fun, and as you discover what works, come up with a theory for yourself on why it works, and then do a little research on Dr Google or on these forums as to whether others have come to the same conclusion. The build docs on Google and build showcase posts on these forums are a good start, the Top Gear thread here on the forums is a place where you can find the best gear for your build.

Most of all, just experiment. BL3 is full of weird interactions that are best discovered by - well, just discovering them. Min-maxing is not as much of a concern in BL3 as it was in some other BL games, such as BL2.

There are tons of smart and nice people here. If you don’t understand something, just ask and people will help you. The Borderlands community generally is one of the best gaming communities I have found. Tons of nice, down to earth people that are usually willing to explain.

Not trying to be facile at all - I have been playing Borderlands for 12 years now, since the first one was released, and every game is different, and in my experience best understood by actually playing the game. There is no substitute for understanding how the game and the character you are playing works. Unfortunately, that takes time. At least IME. Walk forward into that “dark tunnel” you referenced and do the best you can to figure out what works. Once you get stuck, ask some questions. People around here are mostly cool and chill and very willing to help.

Also, BL3 has an absolute crapton of content to it, despite what all the BL3 haters on this forum (can you believe there are a ton of BL3 critics here LOL?) will tell you. There are no “key” mission rewards like some other BL games have, if you have played those. Almost all the best weapons are farmable. Except the Bekah, Scoville, and a couple other weapons that will in no way spoil the game for you.


This is the first time I’ve heard someone say that.

Everyone I see keeps saying you need absolutely perfect gear with perfect anointments and a perfect build to run the endgame at Mayhem 10/11. If you’re right, that’ll be a great relief.

From what I can see, though, Mayhem 10/11 is pretty ridiculously insane. Badasses and anointed everywhere just spamming elemental rockets and lasers and grenades at you from every direction. I’d imagine you wouldn’t get very far without… well, some optimization, allowing you to clear maps and rapidly health gate lickety-split. Maybe I’m wrong, though.

In principle, I agree, but I just don’t have the time to do that, and never have.

I’ve been using these forums for a few years as a way to get out of experimentation, which I, personally, do not find enjoyable, but more importantly, do not have the time for.

With limited time for these games, which I only really enjoy at max level with a build + loadout anyway, all I want to do until I get there is learn the basics of what’s optimized and what’s not, what the standard builds are, etc. What I do is use one of those builds as a blueprint, so that I’m experimenting with something that has already been proven to work. Then I can modify it to suit my needs.

That saves me a lot of time.

I’m very aware there’s no secret formula, believe me, and I’m not asking for one. I’m asking for a roadmap from people who’ve already traveled to the end to help me not make any big mistakes that’ll cost me a lot of time (noticing a theme here? lol) later on having to, say, replay a whole DLC, or by not wasting time with Takedowns or Arms Race when they’re tangential to what I’m trying to do.

I hope that’s clear enough.

Lastly, I know how these Forums work; I always read up before I comment. Usually, when I do comment, it’s because what I read was not sufficient for my needs or was unclear or overly complicated (to my pea-brain, at any rate). You get the picture. I’m not new here or to Borderlands. Just to Borderlands 3.

No, you’e not being facile. With a game as vast as BL everyone has their own “process.” Using these forums to maneuver around the extremely time-consuming stuff between start and endgame is my process, and it’s served me well.

Good to know. But I was under the impression the Pearl was a mission item - isn’t it? As I understand it, that’s a very important piece of gear for some endgame builds. Still, probably the exception that proves the rule. Point taken.

I appreciate you chiming in and letting me know your thoughts. The more the merrier, I say. Cheers!

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One other thing to mention - your Guardian Rank (GR) is probably quite low right now, and GR gives you access to some pretty powerful ‘skills’/perks, in addition to passive stat boosts.

Plenty of popular endgame builds rely on GR perks, but probably don’t call them out explicitly. So, yes, it might not work as well as some videos show (I’ll leave perfect gear out of it for now).

I’ll also add that first playthrough is always harder, at least for me. You don’t know enemy spawn patterns, weak spots, mechanics etc. that well yet. It does help later on.


Don’t underestimate the value of the passive stats of your coms and artifacts either. Maybe someone already mentioned it and I skimmed past, but it usually the biggest difference between what you see on YT/Twitch and what you experience in your game.
Perfect rolls are not required, but there are passives that make a huge difference in some builds.


Now that is news to me. And yes, my guardian rank is somewhere around 14 right now.

Out of curiosity, for these builds you speak of, what should I prioritize when allocating my guardian tokens?

I gathered as much; I just have no clue what passives to be looking for, especially if they should be complementing and enhancing build and anointments. I’m slowly getting familiar with anointments; but passives on relics… I usually just go for general boosts as opposed to specific stuff like “Hyperion reload speed.” I find it hard to get relics reliably. They just drop whenever.

Yeah that’s a good start. Elemental type damage, splash damage (if you use splash guns), gun type damage, manufacturer type damage. If you like to use Nova shields or some grenades/rocket launchers splash radius is valuable too.

There are ways to tip the scales in your favor, like running lootsplosion easy modifier, using the boost to legendary drops from the Borderlands Science machine, or having a Shlooter relic (using keys from vault card two). Running the Trials is another. Trial bosses will always drop a legendary com. Trial chest will be all legendary com/relic if you are fast enough. The nice thing about that is you can lower the mayhem level, as coms and relics don’t get changed by the mayhem level at all.

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Could you elaborate a bit on this, as I think I’m going to do it. What are trials exactly? Takedowns?

Trials are repeatable missions that show up at some point near the end of the game (not exactly sure the timing).
They have different enemy types and are quasi timed, so if you beat them in 5 minutes, without dying and killing the special guardian, you get the max rewards in the chest at the end.
There are two on Pandora (Splinterlands, Devil’s Razor), one on Promethia (Meridian Outskirts), two on Eden 6 (Floodmoor Basin, Jakobs Estate), one on Nekrotafeo (Desolation’s Edge). Grab the mission, then you go back to Sanctuary to fly to the location.
They each have 4 “sections”-- kill all the enemies in section 1 and the barrier to section 2 drops, kill all in sector 2 to get to 3 etc. The 4th section is the boss with a few adds.

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just do things absolutely randomly and learn from it no need to play it in a “Correct” way

There isn’t harm in getting advice from people that have been there, especially when you’ve hit a wall and are frustrated. There definitely is a lot that needs to be learned on your own (playstyle preference especially) but game mechanics aren’t really one that everyone has the time/patience to figure out on their own.

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