Elemental Amara Build - Do Harm Stacking and Ties That Bind - TVHM M4

Hi! My name is Twix, or in some cases Mythic and like a lot of people, I’ve been playing the BL series since the start. Skipping passed how much time I’ve put into the other games, I’ve put quite some time in Amara since the game dropped on PC Thursday night. I had thought of this build for a couple of days but only just got around testing it tonight and wanted to share it! Let’s get right into it.

Unlike most Amara builds, this IS NOT A MELEE build. Moving on from there, I think it’s in fact stronger than all of the melee builds I’ve seen.


TLDR/Quickstart
This guide is a tad long. If you just want the build, here’s the same link to the mobbing skill tree and Phasezerker mod that’s also found below. Here is also a quick gif to see what it does. Note- Only one point in Alacrity is needed, you can put the other two points anywhere you please. You also don’t need more than 1 point in wildfire if you wish to put those points elsewhere. Only put 1 point in Remnant. I know I have 3 in the skill tree but I havent figured out where else to put them yet.

Lastly, if you don’t need healing from Soul Sap, take Stillness of Mind instead. It’s pretty good.


The basic mechanics
First, I need to explain Rush stacks and the Do Harm Skill. Do harm is a skill in the Mystical Assault tree that increases your action skill damage per stack of Rush, while consuming those stacks on ability use. You accumulate stacks of rush by killing enemies or afflicting enemies with elemental effects if you aslo have the Violent Tapestry skill, which we will. So with this in mind, the more stacks you have, the more damage your abilities do when you use them. Simple enough. Max rush stacks are 10 until you reach your capstone in Mystical Assault, Avatar. Avatar lets you use your ability twice over the span of a single cooldown, but that’s not even what we care about. Avatar also gives you +10 max stacks of rush, giving us 20 total max stacks.

Now that we have 20 stacks, we’re going to look at the Phasezerker mod. This class mod gives you max stacks of rush after using an ability, and also a +5 to max stacks, giving you 25 stacks of rush total with each ability use. This is our damage powerhouse. Not to mention it gives you an increase in gun damage and ability cooldown per stack!

With phasegrasp, you can use your ability and the game refunds the cooldown if you don’t hit anything. The class mod however, still gives you the 25 rush stacks even when your ability doesn’t connect. Which means you can sit and charge your Do Harm stacks to a max of 99, consuming 25 Rush stacks with each phasegrasp attempt. However, you don’t need to charge to 99. If you charge yourself to 75 stacks, and then use your ability on an enemy, this will already put you at 99. Also if you do use all 5 points in DH, you can stack to 25 or 50 most of the time on easier content such as story mobs and do plenty of damage. Also take the Mayhem modifiers in consideration.

Lastly, we take the Ties That Bind ability, which connects up to four enemies to your phasegrasped target. All enemies linked together take shared damage. The link damage is set to a base of 35% damage. With Do Harm, that number seems to escalate. Combine that with Lay Bare and you’ve got a serious combination of damage modifiers.

When all of this is put together, it should look something like one of these.


Skill Trees
Here is the mobbing skill tree. Something you should know that there are 5 or so points that you can do whatever you want with to fit your personal preference and it won’t really make a difference. Since we don’t take Restless, you get 2 points that you can put wherever (mine are in Alacrity), and you can also move points from Wildfire to either Steady Hand(s) or Catharsis. You might notice there’s no points in Restless. But Twix, isn’t that 25% cdr? Wtf is wrong with you? Well , my friend, there is an explanation further down in the skill breakdown below. Important note - After some further testing, the Remnant skill seems to bug occasionally and the orbs either don’t spawn at all which must be fixed by quitting to the main menu, and they sometimes completely miss. Feel free to put these points wherever else if you really don’t want to deal with that.

The Action Skill you’ll take is Ties That Bind.
For augments, I prefer the Soul Sap augment for increases sustain for you and your teammates, especially in TVHM M3.
Action skill element is preferential and also can depend on Mayhem mode affixes. In most cases, I think using the shock mod with a fire weapon is best, or corrosive weapon in some siutations. More about this later. But you can switch around your elements as needed, and definitely keep an eye on the Mayhem mods.

Ties That Bind Explanation
Here I’ll talk about how Ties That Bind works. Ties That Bind does shared damage between all enemies that are linked. The base damage shared is 35%, but our Do Harm stacks amplify that quite a bit. Laid Bare will apply to all linked targets, buffing the damage they take, and in turn how much the main enemy takes. The linked damage is going to be dealt via the element that your action skill will deal. I keep it shock most of the time to get through what is normally the first enemy defense, a shield. When you’re shooting your main target, you’ll want to use whatever element they are weakest to at the moment. This will multiply your damage further.

Boss Build
While speccing myself for single target damage, I was thinking to myself “Hey, why do we go down the FoTE tree anyways? It makes us take a bunch of garbage. And I said to myself, ‘Wow, that’s a good point. Thanks, me.’” So I went down the Brawl tree a bit with thistankier skill tree. You take Phasecast and you go down the blue tree, then you go to the green tree, ultimately making yourself pretty tanky while also giving yourself an extra life. You lose some elemental damage in the process, but it’s probably not the biggest deal. I imagine this build is good for soloing tougher bosses in higher difficulty.
This is the less tanky but more elemental damage skill tree I think the link name there speaks for itself. I don’t know which is better overall, but when it doubt, the tanky one will do you plenty of favors. The difference in time it takes to kill a tough boss between these builds is probably negligible. If you’re farming easy bosses, take the more damage tree.


Skill Breakdown

I’m likely not going to talk about every skill, but I will talk about why I take some and not others.

First, Do Harm. Does it need 5 points, or can you get away with less?
I absolutely think you can get away with less. Perhaps 1-3 depending on your difficulty and if you’re solo. However, on Mayhem 3, I think 5 is pretty justifiable - especially in group play.

Violent Tapestry - Take one point in this. Some people have argued to take 2 points, but I find it unnecessary.

Restless - Oh man I thought this skill was good. But it’s been brought to my attention that it does almost nothing when paired with our Phasezerker mod and Avatar. These 5 skill points combined give us pretty negligible cdr. If you’re skipping Avatar though, it’s worth taking.
Transcend- Increased crit damage comes in handy.

Wrath Vs. From Rest - These are pretty close in damage, but the increased gun damage does give some kind of diminishing returns. If you don’t have any gun damage buffs, Wrath isn’t a bad take. If you do have other gun damage buffs or are using a Maliwan, you might benefit more from From Rest. Ultimately, I would probably just take From Rest

Remnant - Does some solid damage when it works properly. Which isn’t incredibly often. Don’t max it, as we only need 1 point in it anyways for our overkill damage increase. But also don’t max it because it’s not programmed correctly. 1 point is enough.

Awakening- This ability says it buffs the affectiveness of rush stacks. It is currently being tested exactly what that means.

Avatar- I need to explain this for a second. The reason we take Avatar is primarily for the extra max 10 stacks of Rush. When you are charging your Do Harm stacks by spamming Phasegrasp, you need to be careful if you want your second Phasegrasp. You’ll notice while charing that when you use the ability and it misses, it goes on cooldown for a second before fully coming back up and turning yellow. If you use to before it goes back to the ready indicator, you’ll accidentally trigger your second use.

So let’s say Avatar gives you 2 charges, which it sort of does in a way but not quite, but we’ll say so for clarity sake. If you use the first charge to hit an enemy and kill it, you get your second charge that you can use as intended any time during the cooldown of the first charge. Using it a second time though does seem to make the cooldown longer - which is especially noticable when youre 2 or 3 seconds from the first cooldown coming back up and you use the second one, and the game makes you wait a whole cooldown before getting both back. The best way to use the second charge would then be to only use it immediately after the first charge is over.

But wait, there’s more! If you use your first charge and kill an enemy, and then miss your second charge, then your action skill just comes back showing as up, and you’re stuck in your second charge completely no matter how long you wait. After using it, you have to wait a full cooldown to use the first charge, and get the second charge back.

So in my opinion, I think it’s best to just spam charge as fast as you can and forgo your second use. The cooldown is still only going to be something around 10 seconds, especially with our class mod and 25 stacks of rush still.

Infusion- This might be a sin but I don’t like this skill. This skill takes damage from your current gun and CONVERTS it to the element you are attuned to, which in our case is going to be shock or fire. This means if you are using a shock gun on an enemy with a shield, you will do less damage to his shield because now part of your gun is doing fire damage. Same if you are using a fire weapon and part of your damage is converted to shock on an enemy with no shield but a lot of health. Even worse is when there’s a big bad armored enemy and you’re doing less damage with your corrosive weapon because part of it has been converted to one of the other elements. Don’t even get me started about how much less damage you’ll do if the Mayhem mods aren’t in your favor. It’s just a big no from me. However, if you want to take it early game because you can’t find a decent elemental weapon, be my guest.

Steady Hands Vs. Wildfire- If you want this skill, take the points from Wildfire. Wildfire isn’t the best, but I think it’ll do you more good than Steady Hands. Wildfire bouncing to enemies will provide you with a bit more healing from the Sustainment skill


Equipment

First and foremost, you need the Phasezerker class mod mentioned earlier. It does not matter a whole lot which skills it has, which seem to generally be some mix of Anima, Conflux, and Clarity. However, I do think a mod with higher Anima and Clarity are going to do you better than a mod with more points in conflux. I don’t like conflux for the same reason I don’t like infusion. Enemies tend to only be weak to one damage type at a time and I don’t care about mixing my damage.

For guns, I don’t think it really matters a whole lot, though I will say I have found the Crossfire to be my favorite with this build. It shoots 5 round burst and 4 rounds per shot, so 20 shots per trigger pull which can really bounce around with the Indiscriminate skill. I personally like to roll with three of these bad boys.

For grenades, I really like Hex Mirv (Shock is probably best) grenades, or Quasars.

As far as shields, I’ve tried a few that I really like:

The Transformer


Gives you 100% shock resistance, which dare I say is pretty awesome. This means that you’re even tankier beyond your shield amount becasue it’s going to have it’s own damage reduction against the other elements. On top of that, any shock damage you take will instead recharge your shield. If you want to get really fancy, you can heal yourself with shock grenades.

Re-Charger


Instantly begins recharging your shield when broken. I used this for a while, it wasn’t too bad really. In my experience, it didn’t just start recharging my shield, it just set my shield back to full.

Stop-Gap


This shield will give you plenty of time to get out of any bad situation that you’ve found yourself in. It’s a great defensive option.

There are plenty of other good shields out there that you can take, these just happen to be the ones that I have used the most while forgoing other shields.

Annointed Gear
Really anything that will buff you after action skill end.
I think some people don’t quite understand how it works, myself included. I thought you didnt have to have a gun currently out to get its buffs, but apparently that may be wrong. Further testing incoming.


Now how do you play the build?
Well, it’s rather easy!

  • You keep enemies out of your reticle and spam your action skill, intentionally missing.
  • You get yourself to 50 -75 or higher Do Harm stacks depending on the gameplay difficulty. Even just 25 in some instances.
  • Look for a group of enemies, as this build will do more damage based on the number of enemies that are tied together.
  • From here, you have a quick choice to make. Either grasp a priority target, or the one that will connect to the most enemies. Hopefully you can get both of these things in one.
  • Shoot the Grasp target
  • Continue making mayhem

That’s all I have for now! Thanks for checking out my guide and let me know if there’s any questions you have!

12/4/19 - By now, there’s plenty of variations and information stemming from this original build. I haven’t played the game really much since September, shortly after release. It’s likely I won’t be updating this guide any further unless I get the itch to play again, or until the steam release in April. Thanks for reading!

Changelog

9/17: Added more accurate skill breakdown and explanation, as well as bossing skill tree.
9/18: Added more in depth explanation of Avatar and why it’s mediocre but necessary.
Added Section about how Ties That Bind works.
Added TLDR at the top.
Did some more boss testing, added more info about action skills for bosses.
Added shield preferences.
Changed points out of Restlessness and into Trancend/Alacrity.
Added new boss builds.
9/19:More info about skills and where you can put extra points.
9/20: Mentioned Remnant should only get 1 point. Skill tree update coming whenever it’s decided where the best place for those 2 points are.
12/4: Added end blurb

20 Likes

Do you know where that class mod can be found or was it a random drop you got?

Thanks for sharing your build.

What do you do with 99 Do Harm stacks? Ties that bind does no damage. Is it for the damage when the target is immune?

Is this 99 stacks thingy something they’re going to patch out?

I’m confused by the Do Harm skill as well, I thought it depended on the amount of Rush stacks you have. Unless Do Harm is a separate stack skill as well…

By using the action skill, you automatically get a stack of 25. You don’t have to phasegrab an enemy either

I think he’s referring to the dmg percentage to action skill that Do Harm adds per stack. 4.5% per stack x 20 stacks = 0.9

Five points just for the little immune damage is a waste. One point in Do Harm is more than enough to get basically the same result. And you have four spare skill points you can invest in a more useful skill. Alternatively you could invest 3 points into Fast Hand and 2 in Violent Tapestry (the only two tier 1 that actually do something for this build) and can save 5 skill points.

Also the skill points in Laid Bare are wasted because Phasegrasp (or Ties That Bind in this case) deals no damage itself and therefore Laid Bare never triggers. The same thing applies to Soul Sap. Completely pointless augment for this build. Either switch to Fist Over Matter or redistribute those skill points.
This also highlights my main issue with the Mystical Assault tree. The tree only offers a few good skills and those few good ones are very situational or restricting. On the other hand, just by using the Phasezerker class mod and a single point investment in Mystical Assault (either Do Harm or Violent Tapestry, doesn’t matter which one since both are weak or even useless) you get ~3/5th the power of this build and can spend all the skill points in the way better Brawl tree for a lot of tankiness.

Don’t you think something like this good work?

Every skill point in Mystical Assault helps our Fist of the Elements tree there IMHO. We get increased Status Effect chance, Rush stacks, decreased Action Skill cooldown, 67% increased gun damage (if hitting those crits) after Action Skill usage and a bigger cc radius with Allure.
Last points into Fast Hands or From Rest or Conflux.

Violent Tapestry is rather pointless because it’s just a multiplier to the base effect chance of a gun. A gun with 10% base elemental effect chance would gain +3% at 10 stacks. The increase is only noticable on guns with high base effect chance (Maliwan for the most part). But then those guns already have more than enough base chance and won’t need the bonus to apply an elemental effect. Plus a lot of the skills in the FotE tree apply effects by themselves.
You’ll gain way higher DPS by investing into Fast Hands. More reload speed = more time spent shooting = more DPS. And the additional weapon swap speed allows for more convenient elemental matching which you’ll definitely want to do in TVHM and Mayhem Modes to maximise DPS.
Wildfire is meh. Allure and Indiscriminate do basically the same thing already but way better. Steady Hands is the better alternative to align crits more easily.

After going to bed last night, I did realize I left out some explaining.

@FEXnStuff Ties that bind’s damage scaling seems to be through the linked damage, as well as the damage increases that happen when an enemy is phase grasped. So instead of the regular 35%, it does much more. I havent looked at the build in your last post yet, but I don’t take the increased crit damage because when theres a lot of tough enemies in high difficulty, you wont always be able to focus on the crit spot. Not to mention, crits hardly matter when your damage is multiplied so much. Look at the gifs. No crits necessary.

@carbon.delay Do Harm is a separate stacking skill from rush. DH works by consuming stacks of rush to get your DH buff. It does not refresh when you add any more stacks of it. Meaning each iteration of 25 DH stacks has its own 20 second duration, but you can stack them to a max of 99.

@DankRafft Not quite. This is a TVHM M3 build. Those 5 stacks are doing to be extremely nice when you have a whole group of nasty enemies with a ton of HP. Do you need them in earlier difficulties? No, probably not unless you want to just stack less DH stacks for faster gameplay and do less damage since enemies have less health. You’re right about the VT skill points though, theres a lot you can do with them. As stated at the end of the build, I’ll be fleshing this out later. To your second post, I wasnt sure how VT actually calculated. But like I said, you can definitely move those points around, I just hadn’t at the time I posted this.

Laid Bare and Soul Sap do in fact trigger I believe. As I said at the top of this reply, the abilities damage is through the damage enemies take while Phasegrasped. It’s odd, I know, and trust me - I did not expect this whole thing to work the way it has. I can check later today just how effective the healing is. I suppose I’ve never looked at any healthbars when the healing orbs all fly around. Which by the way, happens while you’re damaging phasegrasped enemies.

I kind of feel like some of you havent just seen the gifs. They make the build rather self-explainable when you’re one shotting (as in literally one shot, not one rotation of your damage dealing process) a whole group of enemies in high difficulties. I only recorded for about 30 minutes last night and didnt get any good footage of it demolishing groups of badasses yet, but I can post that another time.

@Twixled Thanks for the explanation :slight_smile:
My posted build was more towards DankRafft saying Mystical Assault doesn’t help the Fist of the Elements tree.

@DankRafft Thanks for the insight. I will change some skill points here and there.

I made some more tests and they do seem to work BUT only on targets that get damaged from a link but not your actual gun damage. If there’s only a single boss/badass/WhateverStrongerEnemy or if you can’t connect a link for some reason they won’t do anything. With at least a single weak enemy near a boss you want to Phasegrasp the weak one and shoot it so that Laid Bare’s bonus applies to the boss. But by not shooting the boss you’ll lose a lot of boss damage. I’m not sure if that’s worth the extreme investment.

I know, I play on Level 50 TVHM M3 as well.

Honestly, I think the boss strat is okay and slightly works, but isn’t something I’m sure I’d want to use. You could always swap to phasecast for bosses. I’ll test it more soon. I’ve thought about trying the last PG ability that slams the fists down, but I havent gotten to it yet and it would only work on certain bosses anyways.

Yes, it doesn’t quite work on single enemies. I agree that this gives some merit to certain skills mentioned before. Having good guns makes up the difference either way. However, it shouldn’t matter in group play, as this build would cover a certain role, allowing other players to focus more on single target damage if they wish. I played CoS last night running 2 sirens with this build and 2 fl4ks. The single target struggle wasnt much of a struggle really, more of a nuisance and the build was more than worth it when a bunch of dangerous enemies all spawned at once and got annihilated on multiple occasions

Edit: I apologize @DankRafft if I came across as rude when saying it’s a TVHM M3 build. I wasnt trying to make any mind of snide remark. I was justifying the need for 5 points in DH as you run into incredibly tanky enemies that you might have to chew through with non-ideal elemental damage given certain Mayhem mods.

Also, I should include that to use this build, it’s not always about grasping the biggest target, but affecting as many enemies as possible with Ties That Bind

Don’t worry, no damage taken.

4 Likes

Added some talk about Avatar and it’s bugginess, as well as a TLDR/Quickstart section for my friends who don’t like to read.

what are your thoughts about this if they patch out spamming phaselock on the ground?
do you believe this will still work out well enough?
and do you currently ever not bother getting to 99 stacks?

anything you’d switch around/change in usage priority if it happens?

i don’t want to get “too” comfortable always having 99 stacks, whether they will or will not end up patching that out, it’s also not exactly the most exciting thing to do while playing, honestly

either way, amazing find with this build/interactions, and good job detailing all of this

1 Like

So I’m actually pretty positive this isn’t quite what Gearbox intended when they made this class mod. However, it’s such a fairly easy build to replicate, I think it’s worth to use in the mean time.

That being said, I don’t think it’ll be entirely removed from the game. At most, they’d probably rework how the class mod works with Phasegrasp, and maybe the interaction with how Ties That Bind shares damage between all targets. Which I don’t think will really kill the build. Assuming they make it so Do Harm only consumes stacks when you successfully Phasegrasp an enemy, you can still build stacks pretty quickly with all of the CDR the build has. Not to mention if they fix Avatar to work how it’s actually worded, you’ll be phasegrasping targets basically every 5-8 seconds.

All of that being said, Transcend would probably turn out to be more necessary for the mobbing tree since you’ll require more damage on the main target, where as of now you just need to poke them in the shoulder and they die.

Something I need to mention in the actual guide that I’ve forgotten to put in today (thanks for the reminder) Is that no, you don’t need 99 stacks before you grasp an enemy. Unless you’re just charging up and trying to keep them high while you wait for a good chance to use it, you can just get to 75 stacks, phasegrasp and enemy, which will put you to 99 anyways.
On top of that, you can still do tons of damage with even just 50 or so stacks, as long as you have 5 points in do harm. Some other builds have said they don’t like putting 5 points into DH because with 99 stacks it’s overkill anyways. Well on the hardest content, that’s not true, but also even on easier content, you can spend half of the time or less to charge to 50 or maybe even just 25 DH stacks and do plenty of damage.
All of that said, I like to keep my stacks high, but unless I’m going against a bunch of hardened badasses, I generally don’t stack to 99 all the time.

Thanks! I put a lot into it haha

2 Likes

actually… this is probably the most important line that i forgot about entirely

this is true, if they did fix this bug, fixing the other bug really won’t make it as bad, so, let’s hope if they bugfix things that make things too powerful, they remember to bugfix things making things too weak, too, bringing everything else into line…

Indeed

Something else that’s kind of important to mention in the previous regard is there was stuff like this in BL2 that was strong and didn’t seem to work as intended, but Gearbox kept it in anyway, only to introduce OP levels so you can utilize this type of stuff in tougher environments. We’ll just have to see how it plays out I guess!