This is meant to be a guide for new players to break down Krieg’s skills.
If you disagree with anything I have in here or have anything to add, links, math, opinion, anything let me know and I will gladly update and change it. I mainly play as a melee/bloodlust character, but I have played a hellborn/bloodlust character. My hellborn recommendations may be controversial because of that, but I will update them if requested.
Terrible: These skills are a waste no matter what and should always be skipped.
Sub-par: These skills either are just bad or did not scale well. You might be able to make them some what usable combined with other skills or gear making them an ok choice to pick if nothing better is available.
Average: Can help, not bad choices for going down trees.
Great: These skills will make the game much easier and shoud be taken always if you are at that point in the tree they are located in.
Outstanding: Skills of this rating will be game changers that you base your build and play-style around.
Don’t forget to check out Blutfatal’s top gear for Krieg thread. Even though the gear is geared for OP 8, it’ll work in any playthrough and most is fairly easy to get.
Buzz Axe Rampage:
Kreig’s main skill. With it, you put away your weapon and pull our your buzz axe. Has a duration of 15 seconds and a cooldown time of 120 seconds. During the rampage, you gain 500% melee damage and regain all health on a kill. Your movement speed also increases by 33%. Taking damage while not rampaging will decrease the cooldown time and taking health damage will decrease it further. Note that you CANNOT use weapons or throw grenades while rampaging. Also, weapons with bayonets (like the Law) will not confer their bonus to Krieg while rampaging. However, mods and relics that increase melee damage will. Also, both Elemental Elation and the sheriff’s badge will increase the frequency in which you can throw your buzz ax. Melee calculation thread by Sljm.
Krieg’s bloodlust tree’s skills boost either gun damage or melee damage depending on the skill. Most are useful, but a few should be avoided. This tree also has his most damaging capstone skill, bloodsplosion. If you ever want to clear out a room, like the back of Pete’s bar, you need that skill.
Adds Bloodlust (BL) stacks and gives you a magazine size increase per stack; stacks are gained by damaging an enemy. This skill is pretty much necessary for any playstyle because stacks are used in so many of Krieg’s other skills: taste of blood, bloodsplosion, blood bath, blood twitch, bloody revival, blood trance, blood overdrive, and nervous blood. 1/0.5%, 5/2.5%, 10/5.0%.
All play-styles: Outstanding.
Kill skill. Increases weapon swap increase per stack of bloodlust and adds BL stacks like BFG. A decent skill, but not really required unless you slag and swap a lot. It’s a good place for extra skill points because it also increases BL stacks when doing damage. 1/0.3%; 5/1.5%; 11/3.3%.
Guns: Great if you slag and swap or use Moxxi weapons for healing; Average otherwise.
Melee: Sub-par. A low level slag bouncing betty/biddy is good enough for slagging enemies and keeping them slagged while rampaging.
Killing an enemy with a bullet gives extra melee damage and a shorter grenade fuse time per Bloodlust stack per level for a short time. If you have a grenade that doesn’t have a 0.0 fuse time, this might be worth a point or two, but without a reaper or blister mod, the affect doesn’t really last long enough for the melee buff to be useful. Can work Great with a gun/melee hybrid that doesn’t use Krieg’s action skill very much (Dank Rafft). 1/0.5% melee, -0.005 fuse time 5/2.5% melee, -0.025 fuse time 11/5.5% melee, -0.055 fuse time.
Guns: Sub-par or Average depending on grenade fuse time.
Melee: Sub-par without a reaper or blood blister mod/Great with.
Adds assault rifle damage during Fight For Your Life per BL stack per level. A Terrible skill unless you really like ARs. A rocket launcher or Light the Fuse will get you on your feet faster. 1/0.3%, 5/1.5%.
Taste of Blood:
Adds damage reduction during Buzz Axe Rampage per BL stack per level and extra BL stacks per kill (+5 per level) during Buzz Axe Rampage. An Outstanding skill for a melee focused Krieg. Couple this with a rough rider, and you can be nigh unstoppable. Note that maximum damage resistance is capped at around 68%. Damage reduction calculation by Impala. 1/0.1% & 10 BL stacks per kill; 5/0.5%, +30; 11/0.8%, +48.
Guns: Terrible unless using Krieg’s skill.
Melee: Outstanding. Couple this with a legendary sickle mod and go to town.
Kill Skill. Killing an enemy with a grenade or explosion gives extra weapon damage per BL stack per level for a short time. Enemies killed this way have an extra chance per level of dropping grenade ammunition. An Outstanding skill that all Krieg players should max out regardless of playstyle. It has Great synergy with bloodsplosion. Be sure to check out Blut’s BB resource guide for weapons that will and will not process BB. 1/0.5% weapon damage, +15% grenade drop; 5/2.5%, +75%; 11/5.5%, 165%.
All playstyles: Outstanding.
Buzz Axe Bombardier:
Add dynamyte to your thrown buzz axe. An oustanding skill for melee characters. Make a kill to process fuel the blood, then start throwing your axes while it’s active. Check out Dank Rafft’s thread on how BAB works.
Guns: Terrible unless using Krieg’s action skill.
Fuel the Blood:
Kill Skill. Killing an enemy with a melee attack gives bonus grenade damage per BL stack per level for a short time and adds BL stacks per level. Has Great synergy with BloodBath. It doesn’t have so much with Buzz Ax Bombardier, though (Dank Rafft). From level 72 on, having this active can increase the self damage from silence the voices (DScarface). 1/0.2% grenade damage, +2 BL stacks; 5/1.0%, +10; 11/2.4%, +22.
Guns: Terrible unless using Krieg’s action skill.
Differences between self-damage with FtB active and not-active by DScarface.
Increases the time before Bloodlust stacks start to decay. An Average skill. Can help keep BL stacks up for ToB and Blood Trance, but not necessary. 1/+0.5 seconds per level; 5/+2.5; 11/+5.5.
Increases the duration of Buzz Axe Rampage per Bloodlust stack (at time of activation) per level. This can be a Great skill or a very dangerous one depending on your play-style. Krieg cannot throw grenades or use Moxxi weapons to heal while rampaging. If you can consistently get kills while rampaging, then this is a decent skill. Otherwise this could be the death of you. 1/0.05 duration, 5 max; 5/0.25, 25 max; 11/0.55, 55 max.
Guns: Terrible unless using Krieg’s skill.
Melee: Sub-part to Great depending on player skill level.
Kill Skill. Killing an enemy increases reload speed per BL stack per level for a short time. A Great skill for gun oriented players because of the reduced reload speed. I’ve reloaded an Unkempt Harold in less than 2 seconds with this skill. 1/+0.3% reload per BL stack; 5/+1.5%.
Capstone skill. Killing an enemy causes them to explode with an Elemental Nova matching the element of the damage that killed it (Non-elemental damage will cause an explosive nova). Overkill damage is added to this damage. Each Bloodlust stacks increases this damage by 5%. Set this off with 100 stacks and you’re looking at 500% damage to any enemy caught within its blast. It’s very easy to chain bloodsplosions and clear out a level just by killing one enemy. This is the go to skill for taking out raid bosses like Pyro Pete, Terramorphous, and Voracidous. It’s also Great for killing Hyperious pre OP levels. Some practice may be required to use properly, but it sure is pretty when it works.
All builds: Outstanding. Do yourself a favor and grab this when it comes up, you won’t regret it.
Krieg’s mania tree focuses mostly on his melee damage and survivability, but one boosts shotgun damage (as well as melee) and another increases his fire rate when his shields are down.
Empty the Rage:
Extra Melee Damage per level with an additional percentage when shields or magazine is empty. The first melee skill that you’ll get and it should be maximized if you’re going the melee route. Try to get it to at least 10/5 if possible. Note that the bonus for having an empty shield stacks with the base damage. This skill works extremely well with a rough rider or empty roid shield like a love thumper or hide of Terramorphous. 1/%4 melee damage + 10% when shields are down; 5/%20 + 50%; 11/44% + 110%.
Guns: Terrible unless using Krieg’s action skill.
Pull the Pin:
When you die, you drop a free grenade. If you kill an enemy with it, you get double XP. Nice when it works, but don’t count on a whole lot of kills with this skill.
Both: Sub-par to Average depending on grenade mod equipped. Note that you do NOT get XP once you hit 72.
Feed the Meat:
Adds max health and shield recharge delay per level. This can be a Great or a Terrible skill depending on your equipment. It’s Great when using the RR because it stacks with the RR’s health. Also, it works Great with roid shields and the flame of the fire hawk (FotFH) because it’ll keep the novas going longer. Do not use this skill if you rely on a shield for protection. 1/+10% health, +0.5 shield recharge delay; 5/+50%, %2.5; 11/+110%, +5.5.
Guns: Great or Terrible depending on equipment.
Melee: Outstanding unless using an Antagonist. Read this post by Tehgato about this shield.
Fuel the Rampage:
Decreases Krieg’s cooldown time when he takes damage; health damage causes it to cool down faster. Note that he’ll also be susceptible to friendly fire. This is an okay skill until you get Release the Beast, then this loses almost all of its usefulness. 1/+20% cooldown bonus, +20% bonus when taking health damage,50% damage from team mates 5/+100%, +100%, +30%; 11/+220%, +220%, +1%.
Guns: Terrible even when using the action skill.
Melee: Average when playing solo; Terrible when playing co-op unless not playing with grievers. Your friends can still kill you with grenades, splash damage, or rocket launchers.
Embrace the Pain:
Increases fire rate when shields are down and increases shield recharge delay, much like feed the meat. It’s a Great skill for gun use, especially with a RR or FotFH. It’ll also help keep roid shields discharged for long roid damage bonuses. Like FtM, do not use if you rely on a shield for protection. Note: the shield recharge delay is not in effect while rampaging, but you do get the increased fire rate once BAR is over. It also does NOT increase the throw rate of axes. 1/+7% fire rate, +1 shield recharge delay; 5/+35%, +5; 11/+77%, +11.
Guns: Great depending on equipment.
Melee: Outstanding depending on equipment.
Thrill of the Kill:
Returns a portion of overkill (the amount in excess of what was needed to kill an enemy) as health depending on how low your health is; the lower it is, the more health you get. This is a good skill for gun use, but not so much for melee because Krieg’s skill already fills his health bar when killing an enemy while rampaging. It can also screw up RtB timing. 1/50% max health returned; 5/90%; 11/150%.
Guns: Great, but only needs 1 point to work properly.
Melee: Average until RtB, Terrible after that. Great for melee/gun hybrids that don’t use RtB or use it rarely.
Light the Fuse:
Instead of falling to your knees when you’re crippled, you pull out a stick of dynamite and can throw it using your trigger button/key. You still need to get a second wind (SW), but you can run around and jump/crouch as normal. When the SW timer runs out, you explode. If you kill an enemy with a bundle of dynamite or when exploding, you gain a SW. You can also detonate yourself early by using the give up key/button.
Both: Terrible to Outstanding depending on your level and what enemies you’re fighting. Doesn’t necessarily scale well in the Overpowered (OP) levels. But will hold its own until Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode (UVHM).
Strip the Flesh:
Increases explosion damage with a further increase while in fight for your life. This skill has Great synergy with Bloodsplosion and LtF. Also works with grenades that explode and explosive weaponry like the DPUH. 1/3% + 3% bonus; 5/15% + 15%; 11/33% + 33%.
Both: Outstanding if using explosive (Torgue) weaponry. Also helps boost Bloodsplosion damage when not using an elemental explosion.
Redeem the Soul:
You can instantly Revive teammates at the cost of downing yourself. You may revive in this way only once each time Buzz axe Rampage is on cooldown. +50% Fight For Your Life time. A Great skill for the extra FFYL time in and of itself. Can be a Great or a Terrible skill depending on how you use it.
Melee: Outstanding with RtB and teammates that’ll help you back up.
Salt the Wound:
Taking health (not shield) damage increases shotgun and melee damage per stack up to a max of 20 stacks. Stacks decline at a steady rate of 1 every 4 seconds regardless of any stacks gained during this interval. (dp_DBD) This is Outstanding for melee characters and Great for shotgun users. It’s Sub-par for anybody else. Melee players should wear an RR with it. 1/+1.5% melee damage/stack & +1% shotgun; 5/7+7.5%, +5%; 11/+16.5%, 11%.
Guns: Great for shotgun users; Terrible for non-users.
Silence the Voices (StV):
Adds additional melee damage per level with a flat 12% chance to hit yourself in the head instead of your target. Required for a melee focused character in the OP levels because of health scaling on enemies, but useless to a gun focused one. Not spamming the melee button/key helps prevent StV from chaining (hitting yourself three or more times in a row). 1/+50% melee damage; 5/+250%; 11/+550%.
Release the Beast (RtB):
Capstone skill. Activating the Buzz Axe Rampage when at or below 33% of your max health remaining (i.e., when the ! is showing) instantly refills your health and transforms you into a Badass Psycho Mutant with +100% melee damage (stacks with other melee modifiers like EtR and StV) and +50% damage reduction. Buzz Axe Rampage is instantly recharged afterwards. The DR stacks with Taste of Blood. This skill wouldn’t always activate properly until a recent patch, but it should activate whenever you’re at or below 33% health.
Guns: Terrible except for a quick way to prevent FFYL.
Melee: Outstanding.Pretty much required for a melee oriented character.
Hellborn is Krieg’s elemental tree, with a focus on fire and setting oneself on fire for bonuses. If you like to use guns, this tree is for you. For melee characters, you would be better off using a mania/bloodlust build. While numbed nerves can provide damage resistance, the DR formula isn’t a 1:1 scale and caps out at a certain percentage. This tree is all about risk versus reward because most of the skills will either set you on fire, or work better when you’re on fire. And none of them will keep you alive while on fire unless you’re damaging your enemies. This tree doesn’t really offer a melee player much in the way of useful skills. A bloodlust/mania build is better, especially in the OP levels. Everything below Fire Fiend is more oriented towards gun players as well.
Burn, Baby, Burn:
Increases burn damage (bonus when on fire) and has a chance to set Krieg on fire when making a fire attack. This skill goes Great with Delusional Damage for keeping yourself on fire for the bonuses. 1/7% burn damage - 15% when on fire & 7% chance to light yourself on fire; 5/35%, 75%, 35%; 11/77%, 165%, 77%.
Melee: Great if using Numbed Nerves and not taste of blood and/or a RR shield; Terrible otherwise.
Fuel the Fire:
Kill skill. Increases your chances of causing an elemental effect whenever you kill an enemy and has a chance to ignite yourself on fire when you inflict burn damage. 1/+40% elemental effect chance, +7% self-ignition chance; 5/+200%, +35%; 11/+440%, +77%.
Guns: Great when using elemental weapons.
Melee: Average to Sub-par depending on skill selections.
Pain is Power (PiP):
Gain bonus gun and melee damage at a cost to critical hit damage. Bonuses for both double while on fire. Great for guns, not worth the points for melee. Melee use of PiP discussion thread. 1/+5% bonus, +10% while on fire, -5% critical hit damage; 5/+25%, +50%, -25%; 11/+55%, +110%, -55%.
Guns: Great if not aiming for critical hits.
Numbed Nerves (NN):
Damage reduction while on fire. Great for gun builds, not so much for melee builds that use ToB, RtB, and a RR shield. 1/10%; 5/50%.
Guns: Great depending on equipment.
Melee: Sub-par or Great if you can manage the fire Damage over Time (DoT) (Dank Rafft).
When elemental status effect damage (fire, shock, corrosion, or slag) is being done to enemies you gain stacks of Elemental Elation up to a maximum of 20. Each stack gives fire rate and magazine size bonuses. Stacks will decay after a time at the rate of 2 per second if you stop doing elemental damage, but they won’t while you’re on fire. 1/+1% fire rate and mag size; 5/+3%, +5%; 11/+6%, +11%.
Guns: Outstanding if using elemental weapons.
Melee: Average while rampaging because it increases the speed of thrown axes; Outstanding if using elemental weapons.
All elemental status effects you cause have a chance to light yourself on fire. Ignite chances are determined by those accumulated from Burn, Baby, Burn and Fuel the Fire. Basically this is the skill that lets you use any elemental weapon while still setting yourself on fire to gain those bonuses.
Melee: Outstanding if using PiP and NN; Terrible otherwise.
Melee attacks have a chance to ignite enemies. You also gain weapon accuracy and reload speed while on fire. 1/+10% ignite chance, +10%
accuracy & 7% reload speed while on fire; 5/+50%, +50%, +35%; 11/+110%, +110%, +77%.
Guns: Outstanding. This is one of the main reasons to stay on fire as long as possible.
Melee: Sub-par. If most of the enemies weren’t fire resistant in UVHM, this would be a better skill. Also, all shielded and armored enemies are fire resistant regardless of the play-through. Fire resistant enemies cannot be ignited, but shielded fleshy enemies can once their shields are down with a few exceptions like Pyro Pete.
Instead of making a melee attack, Krieg breathes a cone of fire in front of him similar to what the burning psychos do. Don’t grab this skill. Or grab it, use it once, then get rid of it.
Increases the burn effects on you and gives a chance to reignite an enemy after you’ve set them on fire. Only one point is needed if you’re using a Legendary Torch. 3-4 should be sufficient if not. 1/+20% burn duration, +15% reignite an enemy; 5/+100%, +75%; 11/+220%, +165%.
Guns: Great if you can manage the fire DoT.
Melee: Sub-par due to enemy resistance to fire. Can be Great if using it to keep shields down.
A percentage of elemental damage (fire, shock, corrosive, and slag) done to enemies heals you. This synergizes well with Miss Moxxi weapons due to their innate healing. 1/+5% damage done returned as health; 5/+25%.
Melee: Great if using elemental weapons between rampages. Note that healing yourself can screw up RtB timing.
Capstone skill. While you are on fire, taking damage from enemies will spawn homing balls of fire that seek out the attacker and explode on impact. Fireballs only trigger once per second. The wiki is wrong about this. (dp_DBD) A good skill to keep yourself ignited, but not necessary. If it weren’t for enemy resistance to fire, this would be a Great skill like bloodsplosion and RtB. As it is, it’s really only useful when using a flame of the fire hawk shield to keep that one from recharging due to self fire damage.
Melee: Great for processing Blood Bath if you can get a kill with it.
Here are a few generic leveling builds designed to help you on your way to the level caps. The skills may change drastically from one iteration to the next. This is because some skills are worth getting once they’re available, but the skills taken to get there, not so much. Note that a Hellborn build is not recommended until you can get 5/5 in elemental empathy and have a Moxxi weapon for healing. Also, it can be a difficult build for players new to Krieg to learn, but a mania/bloodlust build is very easy to pick up on and plays on Krieg’s strengths with few of his weaknesses.
Level 16: Empty the Rage will help you make melee kills fairly easy, while Feed the Meat will help keep you alive while rampaging. I would fill up EtR first and rampage whenever your shield is down or close to going down; that way you’ll get both bonuses. The point in Blood Filled Guns will increase your magazine size to help with reloading issues.
Level 22: At this point you can fill up Fuel the Rampage if you want to rampage more and are either playing solo or with friends who won’t constantly down you (unless that’s something you like for some reason). Strip the Flesh is Great when using explosive weaponry, and has good synergy with Light the Fuse. A single point in Thrill of the Kill is all that’s necessary to help keep you alive while not rampaging.
Level 32: Here’s where we get Release the Beast and drop both Thrill of the Kill and Fuel the Rampage because neither are needed since RtB will instantly refill our health and reset the cooldown timer when activated. Note that it will only activate once your health is 33% or lower (when you see the red flashing exclamation mark). Silence the Voices is not needed until UVHM, so it’s not taken. Besides, StV only really shines when using a scream sickle (+6 StV) or a leg. sickle (+5). That, and you really need a high percentage blood of the ancients and a Rough Rider shield to keep the self-hitting from downing you. Redeem the soul is used for the extra FFYL time, but it can be replaced with LtF or with another point in EtP. By this time, you should have a love thumper, so the extra shield recharge delay shouldn’t affect anything.
Level 46: This is where Krieg gets two of his best kill skills: Blood Bath and Taste of Blood. The former will help immensely while shooting explosive weaponry or using grenades while the later will help when rampaging.
Level 58: At this level, Krieg gets three upgrades that really help while rampagning: Buzz Axe Bombardier and Fuel the Blood. The former adds dynamite to his thrown buzz axe while the later increases explosive damage after making a melee kill. But the most powerful is the Bloodsplosion. As stated before, anytime you kill an enemy, they explode with the element that killed them (non-elemental kills use explosive) and damage all enemies within the explosion radius. This is the best way for Krieg to clear rooms or large trash mobs.
For levels 59+, I would go with 5/5 nervous blood because Krieg won’t always be rampaging and the extra reload speed does make a difference. I would also fill up EtP and add 5/5 to StV once I got either a scream sickle or a leg. sickle mod. I would put the last three points into blood twitch for when I needed to swap between a non-Moxi and a Moxi weapon. Or, if you’re filling lucky, put those three into Blood Trance, but remember that you cannot throw grenades are use any type of weaponry while rampaging. Example 72 build.
For a Hellborn, I would go with the above manai build until level 33, then respec into something like this.
FF should never be taken over 1/5 or 6/5 (depending on the mod) because it will kill you if it’s too high. Personally, I think with delusional damage, it can be skipped altogether. Note that elemental empathy by itself will not be enough to heal you while on fire, so if you don’t have an another way to heal yourself, expect to go down a lot.
Burn, Baby, Burn and Fuel the Fire can both be maxed out at 5/5 after level 33, but again, with DD, both will set you on fire fairly regularly. Pain is Power is good for a gun build, but not so much for a melee build. Just remember that it lowers critical hit damage, so take that into account before you add points to it.
As for level 34+, go with bloodlust skills. An example level 72 build is this. With the right equipment, it can mob and do raids, but it requires the proper equipment and player ability. Otherwise you’ll be seeing the respawn station a lot.