While many bird enthusiasts choose to run the Ranger com for it’s buffs to Predator and Bird of Prey, allowing for a 4/1 second Bloodwing (latter number if +4 is in Predator), and up to 9/10 targets hit (latter if +4 is in Bird of Prey). The Hunter com offers higher damage per target, and in fact, in the case of +4 Swift Strike more total damage per use (math: +4 Bird of Prey Ranger com w/ 5/5 Swift Strike means Bloodwing does 200% damage to 10 targets, or 2000% total damage, whereas +4 Swift Strike Hunter com, which also has +60% Bloodwing damage 1st line and 5/5 Bird of Prey means Bloodwing does 340% damage to 6 targets, or 2040% total damage). The Hunter com is also more flexible than a Ranger com with what sort of weapon setup you want to run since all of the skills the Hunter com buffs are in the Rogue tree, unlike the Ranger com which buffs Predator, which is a tier 3 skill in the Gunslinger tree. Thus you are free to choose whether to pursue a Sniper or a Gunslinger build with a Hunter com.
-Maximum Bloodwing damage.
-Gear choice flexible.
-Bird is the word!
-Fewer targets than Ranger com, and longer cooldown (particularly if you choose Gunslinger route)
-Some enemies laugh at Bloodwing’s attempts to kill them.
-Heavy Rogue tree investment means fewer skill points for gun buffs.
This guide contains two builds, the first, the Sniper-Hunter, invests nearly all its points into the Sniper and Rogue trees, and hence prefers Sniper Rifles to Pistols. This also means it runs Carrion Call instead of Predator, so your sniping can potentially restore Bloodwing’s cooldown as fast as a Ranger can. The second build, the Gunslinger-Hunter, is a more Pistol focused build taking only Focus and Killer from the Sniper tree, which are universal buffs. As a result, the Gunslinger-Hunter build runs 5/5 Predator, and hence has a non-trivial Bloodwing cooldown (13 seconds).
The Sniper-Hunter build:
Sniper tree: 30 points
-Focus: More accuracy and less Sniper Rifle sway? Yes please.
-Caliber: More weapon damage with snipers? Heck yes!
-Killer: On-kill weapon damage and reload speed. One of the best tier 2 skills in the game, you bet we’re running this.
-Loaded: Double the mag size, twice the sniping!
-Carrion Call: More sniping, more Bloodwing, more killing.
-Trespass: Shields? What a waste… Oh and tiny bit of bullet damage too.
Rogue tree: 35 points
-Swift Strike: More Bloodwing damage, and it’s buffed by the com? You bet we’re running 5/5 in this.
-Swipe: ALL of the moneys…and ammo and insta-healths too.
-Fast Hands: Faster reload speed? Of course we want that!
-Out For Blood: It’s buffed by the com, and is Mordecai’s best defensive skill. With this build you will easily be healed to full even if you’re missing most of your life if Bloodwing hits the full 6 targets before returning to you (healing is applied when he returns to you, and you can command to return immediately by re-activating your action skill). Often times 1 target can be enough if they actually take significant damage from Bloodwing. The healing is so strong that some may consider running 3/5 in this to max out Deadly.
-Aerial Impact: Daze is incredible helpful for neutering enemy DPS and mobility. The Daze chance is however modified by the level difference between you and the relevant enemy, hence level 70 enemies can still avoid being Dazed if you were to only have 5 total points in this skill. Even at 6/5, it still only a 96% chance to Daze level 70 enemies. For these reasons, despite the com buffing this skill I chose to still run 5/5 in it, but it’s an excellent candidate for 3/5 if you want to max Deadly.
-Ransack: On-kill chance for enemies to drop additional loot, or other words, more loot? Heck yes! The actual chance for additional loot seems to be much lower than the tooltip claims, but it has its own loot pool and the average quality is very good compared to most other loot sources, so it definitely improves your loot from mobbing noticeably.
-Bird of Prey: This is the single most powerful Bloodwing skill in the entire, it is a massive force-multiplier for Bloodwing, and because of how his targeting works, it loses none of it’s effectiveness unless you only have one enemy around for him to attack. A must 5/5!
Gunslinger tree: 3 points
-Deadly (3/5): I decided to make this the 3/5 skill, since it actually doesn’t do much for sniper rifles. So much of a sniper rifle’s damage comes from the weapon critical hit bonus as well as zone critical hit bonus of the given enemy that Deadly’s contribution is actually small. Still, it would also make sense to 3/5 Aerial Impact or perhaps even Out For Blood to max this instead.
The Gunslinger-Hunter build:
Sniper tree: 10 points
-Focus: More accuracy? Sure.
-Killer: This is such a good tier 2 skill that’s worth going 3/5 in Aerial Impact just to max this, with the com buff to Aerial Impact we will still always Daze everything that isn’t and those that are still have at least a 96% chance to be Dazed if not still 100% if +4 is in Aerial Impact.
Rogue tree: 35 points
*Same reasons as with Sniper-Hunter build
Gunslinger tree: 25 points
-Deadly: Unlike sniper rifles, Pistols, especially those that fire Repeater Slugs do benefit a fair amount from Deadly (Revolvers have a hidden +100% weapon critical hit bonus, and Unforgiven’s have a +200% bonus which is visible because it is modified from the base value, other pistols have no weapon critical hit bonus). We also needed to invest 5 more points to reach tier 3 in the Gunslinger tree, and Deadly is the best place for them in this build.
-Gun Crazy: This one of the best tier 1 skills in the game, it gives your shots with Pistols a chance to fire twice as many projectiles, doubling the damage potential. Hence this skill gives a fully multiplicative buff to DPS w/ pistols (stacks multiplicatively with all other DPS buffs).
-Predator: The shorter the Bloodwing cooldown, the better. More bird for the win!
-Hair Trigger: Might as well squeeze as much out of our Pistols as we can.
-Relentless: One of the most powerful DPS buffs in the game, This on-kill skill buffs Fire Rate and gives a 25% chance for increased bullet damage (damage bonus scales with point investment in this skill). At 5/5 this is a 25% chance for 100% more damage, and since it’s bullet damage it stacks multiplicatively with weapon damage effects including: weapon proficiencies, team damage effects of allies, Caliber, and Killer. It stacks additively with the small damage buff from Trespass (though this build isn’t running that skill).
Weapon selection is heavily influenced by the weapon type specific skills in each of the builds, thus the Sniper-Hunter build prefers Sniper Rifles, and the Gunslinger-Hunter build prefers Pistols. The Gunslinger-Hunter build has better synergy with other weapon types than the Sniper-Hunter build in large part due to having Relentless specced, but also because the Sniper-Hunter build relies on Carrion Call for reducing Bloodwing’s cooldown, and that only works if you’re using Sniper Rifles. For more info on Sniper Rifle selection, see my guide on the Sniper com (to be written). For more info on Pistol selection, see my guide on the Gunslinger com.
As Mordecai has no skills that buff his shield, he has no particular preference between high capacity versus short recharge delay, hence shield selection is more about the range at which you will be fighting than anything else. At long ranges, you are typically hit infrequently, hence a short recharge delay can result in your shield managing to recharge between taking damage. Anshin shields have superior recharge delay to other comparable shields and are an excellent choice for the sharpshooter playstyle. For those that like to up close and personal, capacity is more important since you will be taking significant damage with little if any breaks to recharge, is also means that you get more hit points when you successfully second wind since it you instantly get full shields. Pangolin shields have higher capacities than other comparable shields and are thus a natural choice when capacity is of paramount importance. Between these extremes, 550OS Harmonious shields offer a balance between higher capacity and shorter recharge delay. If you find yourself fighting enemies that almost exclusively do damage of a single elemental type, than the applicable ‘Extreme Resistance!’ shield is often an excellent choice. All of this said, given how much health Out For Blood can restore, many players may find it best to simple run a Muscleman shield of whatever type suits their playstyle the most since the larger health pool synergizes well with Out For Blood and any insta-healths spawned by Swipe too.
As is usually the case, this is a matter of user preference.
Mat2 or Mat3?:
The mat2 version of the com offers +2 Scavenge Extra Items. This increases the number of item drop rolls that the game performs for trash and skag piles, thus increasing loot from those sources slightly (a number of the rolls often end up dropping nothing sometimes). The mat3 version has +56% Action Skill Cooldown, but this effect appears to be broken. Testing has shown that the mat3 version does not actually affect Bloodwing’s cooldown, hence the mat2 version is preferable when available.
General tips and other information:
Bloodwing can sometimes be rather finicky with his pathing. Terrain with lots of obstacles frequently results in him getting stuck on terrain trying to reach a target on the other side. He also has a maximum range and won’t begin going after targets until you are facing one. Once he starts attacking he will continue until he has attacked the maximum number of targets, even if those subsequent targets are off screen or until his timer runs out, or there are no targets in the area, in which case he will continue to fly about until a target is onscreen and in range or his timer runs out. He can be called back to you at any time by activating the skill again, this can be useful if you need a healing now from Out For Blood or to get him unstuck from terrain (though you will have to wait for his cooldown if he attacked any targets). Bloodwing cannot attack the same target twice in a row, but he can however, ‘bounce back and forth’ between two or more targets, meaning he can still end up striking the same target multiple times, which helps immensely against badasses and other tougher enemies. Be mindful of what types of enemies you are fighting and what elements they are vulnerable/resistant to. Try to take advantage of their weakness by setting Bloodwing to the best element for use against the enemies you are currently fighting before sending him out so as to maximize his damage. Using Bloodwing for health sustain is strongly recommended, not only will Out For Blood likely fully restore all of your missing health, Swipe will tend to spawn lots of Insta-healths if you’re missing a fair amount of health, which can help you stay on your feet instead of your knees.