General build questions. What "trash" skills in Cataclysm? What's useful about Inertia? Life Tap worth getting to?

Ok, so I’m looking over my spec yet again, and trying to see if there’s something I’m missing that could make my build better. I’m currently sitting at OP4. Most of this is related to skill selections, but gear suggestions don’t hurt either.

My basic skill tree looks like this, leaving 14 points to play with.

I’m not sure whether I should move points from Helios or Immolate into Flicker, since none of them seem highly useful.

Beyond that, it’s basically a question of whether to push down Harmony into Life Tap, or focus on Motion with skills like Kinetic Reflection and Inertia.

One thought is this.

A point in Mind’s Eye becomes 6 with Siren or Cat mods. A point in Accelerate to max it out. 10 points in Kinetic Reflection and Inertia to help with durability a bit. And the last 2 points in Elated for a bit of extra healing.

A different thought is this.

Again, one point in Mind’s Eye to get the free 5 from mods and a point in Accelerate to max it out. Then Elated and Life Tap for additional healing. Restoration increases health pool for durability, or I could put those points into Mind’s Eye for additional crit damage (but I don’t crit a lot with Sand Hawk, so I’m not sure it’s worth it). I could potentially move a point out of Life Tap and into something else since OP-level damage output is so high compared to player health. Or move a point or two out of Accelerate, Restoration, or Elated into Life Tap if 2/5 isn’t enough.

Expand the clicky things below for a more detailed analysis of my thought process. Ye be warned, though! My thoughts may be murky and without proper basis in reality.

Gear Setup

At this point, I’m primarily using Bee with Sand Hawk. I’ve been going back and forth between the legendary Siren and Cat mods. I’ve got a Winter is Over Relic (no Bone right now) and a crappy corrosive relic for the peak, but I also use a Heart of the Ancients for the +50% health bonus depending on my mood.

I’ve tried Pimpernel, but I just can’t make it work. It’s ok for things like the Warrior, but Sand Hawk is better. I’ve also tried DPUH but it’s not as good as Sand Hawk either. I like Conference Call as a shotgun, but I just don’t have any way to make it hit as hard as Sand Hawk for most things. And Sand Hawk is way easier to get than Conference Call (I gave up on avoiding the read-only farm exploit, but dozens of Warrior runs often don’t get me any Conference Call, let alone the element I want).

I don’t have ready access to anything requiring Seraph crystals (the only crystals I’ve ever gotten are from Tiny Tina’s slot machines), so that gear is out of reach for the moment. I’m thinking I should try killing Pyro Pete at some point so I can farm the stuff, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

I would really like it if there was an SMG roughly on par with Sand Hawk in damage that behaves like a normal SMG. Especially one that can spawn with different elements. But to my knowledge no such gun exists. I would also love to get rid of the Bee shield and go a bit more tanky with an adaptive shield or similar, but Bee does so much of Sand Hawk’s damage that’s it’s really hard to justify getting rid of.


The vast majority of my gameplay is solo. I think I’ve got like 20 minutes into coop. So everything I’m looking at is based around solo play.

I prefer a self-healing, tanky playstyle that might not do as much damage, but lets me stay out of FFYL as much as possible (I loathe the FFYL / Second Wind mechanics). My original build was straight down the Harmony tree with a Nurse mod. But then I switched to a Cataclysm / Motion build and not only did I kill things faster, I survived better because the best defense is a good offense.

As far as I can tell, the siren simply doesn’t have the damage reduction and self-healing to stay alive indefinitely in the face of tons of enemies, so CC and high DPS are really the only way to go. And, of course, the faster things die, the more loot there is. But I wouldn’t object to good Nurse-type build suggestions.

Cataclysm Tree

The first thing I noticed is that I’d taken Blight Phoenix as a “better than nothing” skill to get down to Ruin. And that Blight Phoenix is centered on me, rather than the enemy I killed (I was thinking to add damage to the group of Converged enemies I was shooting at).

The second thing I noticed is there’s just not much in the Cataclysm tree worth taking after a certain point.

  • Foresight is nice, especially with ammo-happy weapons like Sandhawk and Toothpick.
  • Chain Reaction basically adds 40% extra damage when fighting 2 or more enemies, if I’m understanding the ricochet mechanics correctly.
  • Cloud Kill is godly, though maybe it’s not so great at higher OP levels. Even at OP4 it seems worth the 1 point though.
  • Reaper is a solid 20% (40% with Cat mod) overall damage increase. (I thought it was “gun damage” added to stats like the Siren mod, but after some reading and testing I found it’s multiplicative with both the Siren mod and Amp damage, so it’s stronger than I previously believed.)
  • Ruin is really useful, especially when paired with Converge or a singularity grenade, to slag all the things.

But to get from Foresight to Chain Reaction, I have to pick one of Flicker, Helios, or Immolate.

  • Flicker is useful in some places for slag chance, but Slagga mostly just fires a burst and I’m good for bosses, and Ruin does it everywhere else. Otherwise, DoTs are mostly crap so who cares?
  • Helios does decent fire damage, but I don’t think it’s that awesome. About 570k a tick against flesh on OP4, compared to a burst of Sand Hawk doing tens of millions.
  • Immolate is only useful in FFYL which I try to avoid (not really interested in the 0-health glitch). However, if it’s really +50% overall, not just adding to other +gun damage skills, it could be a good pick.

Then getting from Reaper to Ruin requires 5 more points in either one of the two I didn’t pick above, or Backdraft and Blight Phoenix.

  • Backdraft is useless since I don’t melee, and I can’t proc the explosion enough to matter.
  • Blight Phoenix blows up barrels and such nearby, requires me to be in the middle of combat, and generally does crap damage.

From there, I’ve decided Immolate and Helios are the least bad skills, but I’m thinking I might switch it around in specific places like Haderax where slag chance is nice. (I think with my 64.8% slag Pimpernel, 10/5 gives a total of 103.7%, while 9/5 is 99.8%. Since Haderax seems resistant to slag, maybe six 104% chances will actually slag him.)

Inertia Problems

So before getting into the Motion tree, let’s talk about Inertia.

Summary: Inertia seems to be total garbage for Bee use, and isn’t that great for other shields, even though everyone on the internet seems to think it’s practically mandatory for Bee shields and is the Bee’s Knees for everything else.

Inertia looks cool on the surface. With 5/5, the reload speed is useful enough, although I mostly have pretty fast reload times because of Foresight (which is 10/5 on Cat or Siren mods). But I don’t think it’s useful enough to forego other skills.

Then there’s the shield regeneration. Over and over I see people swearing by it. “It’s a game changer.” “It’s mandatory for Bee shields.” Etc.

But then I try it and … it’s garbage. Maxed out, it regenerates 4% shield per second for 5 to 10 seconds (depending on Suspension and class mods). In my case, that’s 7.5 seconds, or 30% of my shield. Doesn’t seem so bad. Except that it’s nothing compared to incoming damage.

Let’s look at two shields. A level 80 Bee (says OP1 because I was 79 at the time), and a purple OP2 adaptive shield (actually OP2 / level 82).
Level 80 Bee OP2 Adaptive Shield

The important stats are Capacity, Recharge Rate, and Delay. To put them on a level playing field, let’s scale them up to level 84 (OP4). Delay doesn’t change with level, but Capacity and Recharge Rate will be 1.1384-Level times higher. Bee goes to 1195k capacity, 1027k recharge; the adaptive shield goes to 2337k capacity, 249k recharge.

I put everything into a spreadsheet to do the calculations instead of trying to format it here.


Replace “Shield” with “Bee” for Bee columns and “Adapt” for adaptive shield columns.

Data Table (Upper 3 Rows)

  • Base stats are from the in-game item card.
  • Scaled to stats are base stats multiplied by 1.13ScaleLevel - BaseLevel.
  • Shield Capacity is base and scaled capacities from the item card.
  • Shield Recharge is base and scaled recharge times from the item card.
  • Shield Delay is base delay time from the item card.
  • Effective Capacity. Percentage-based shield skills are based on the smaller of actual shield capacity or 64 × 1.13ItemLevel. This is the base and scaled calculated capacities.

Main Table (Lower 12 Rows)

  • Ward is the level of the Ward skill, applied across the appropriate row.
  • Shield Delay is the effective shield delay at the given level of Ward. BaseDelay1 + 8% × Ward
  • Shield Capacity is the effective, scaled shield capacity at the given level of Ward. BaseCapacity + MIN(BaseCapacity, EffectiveCapacity) × 5% × Ward) Red Text in this column means shield skills are using EffectiveCapacity rather than BaseCapacity.
  • Shield Inertia is the amount of shield restored per second while Inertia is active. 4% × ShieldCapacity
  • Shield Time is the time taken to restore the shield from empty. ShieldDelay + ShieldCapacityShieldRecharge
  • Shield Inertia Time is the time taken to restore the shield from empty with Inertia active. ShieldDelay + ShieldCapacity - ShieldInertia × Shield DelayShieldRecharge + ShieldInertia
  • Inertia Percent The fraction of time taken to restore a shield from empty with Inertia relative to without Inertia. ShieldInertiaTimeShieldTime

So the adaptive shield recharges slowly enough that Inertia is somewhat useful. It reduces recharge time by about 3 seconds, which would be nice in an arena or something. But once you get into larger shields like this (where the recharge time difference is actually noticeable), the recharge bonus caps out at a relatively low value.

And the Bee shield has almost no difference in recharge time (about 0.3 seconds across the board). Certainly not worth 5 points in Inertia unless there’s just nothing else to choose.

Inertia stays active even if I’m constantly taking damage, which is cool. But it’s not remotely enough to keep me alive under constant damage. I ran around in The Forest on OP4 and recorded various damage amounts enemies were doing.

Total health + Bee shield (10/5 Ward): 2326k
84 Wicked Stumpy slash 1: 1844k
84 Wicked Stumpy slash 2: 1941k
85 Heartwood Treant blue orb: 1470k
85 Labyrinthe Spider bite: 589k
85 Labyrinthe Spider bite venom 1: 25k
85 Labyrinthe Spider bite venom 2: 25k
85 Labyrinthe Spider bite venom 3: 24k
(Three ticks of venom over 1 second, making 73k / second.)
85 Labyrinthe Spider spit 1: 982k
85 Labyrinthe Spider spit 2: 982k

So yeah, Inertia would have just barely kept up with that DoT. But the lightest primary damage in the group would down me in only 5 hits, with most of the attacks taking 2 to 3 hits. With the adaptive shield, I’d be looking at about 5.5M total shield+health at 10/5 Ward, but it’s still not going to let me stand in the thick of it without taking breaks to regenerate my shield.

So I could understand picking it up for arenas with a non-Bee shield. But it’s still not that great, and it’s pretty much useless with Bee.

Is there something I’m missing here?

The Table if Percentages Weren't Capped

Just for kicks, since I already had the image created.

This is my original table which assumes 4% of shield capacity means exactly that. However, there’s a behind-the-scenes maximum effective value for the shield when applying percentages. So Inertia caps out at 74k per second on any level 84 (OP4) shield once the shield capacity is 1840k or more.

If this were the proper mechanism, Inertia would give up to a 6 second recharge reduction, and get stronger as shield capacities increased on large shields. However, it’s not the proper mechanism.

It also affects Ward bonus shield. Instead of being Capacity × 150% at 10/5 Ward, it’s Capacity + 1840k × 50% for shields over 1840k. Higher values of Ward are still useful, just not as useful as you’d expect.


Motion Tree

In this tree, there are some obvious choices.

  • Suspension and Quicken raise the up-time of phaselock dramatically (from 27.8% to 40% before looking at a Siren mod, a relative +44% increase).
  • Converge is a good CC, brings lots of enemies into close quarters where Sand Hawk pellets and Chain Reaction ricochets hit lots of things, and turns Ruin into a slagging machine.
  • Sub-Sequence has some wonky bits, but mostly allows Phaselock to remain viable even when I’m killing each CC’d target, where otherwise killing the target stops Phaselock and all its bonuses.

Getting to Suspension requires either Ward or Accelerate.

  • Ward is great for the Bee, and generally useful for other shields.
  • Accelerate is great for Sand Hawk, and is generally useful for additional damage.

I’d pick Ward for the Bee, and probably Accelerate for other shields, depending on whether I needed more tankiness or damage output.

Getting from Converge to Quicken requires 4 points in whatever I didn’t pick above, or one of Kinetic Reflection, Fleet, or Inertia.

  • Kinetic Reflection looks nice, but I tend to take damage from rockets, grenades, and other AoE type weapons that I don’t think work with it.
  • Fleet is only useful for special builds I’m not using (constantly depleted shields) or in the moments after I lose my shield.
  • Inertia seems useless for my Bee setup, but could be useful if I get rid of Bee (see the Inertia section for more details).

At this point, I feel like Accelerate and Ward are both better than the next three, so there’s really no point in even looking at them.

Harmony Tree

Up front, there are some good skills in this tree.

  • Sweet Release is amazingly good. It restores 75% of my missing health every time I kill a phaselocked enemy. I occasionally have trouble succeeding at this (particularly when I was running UVHM to 72 without any BeeHawk type power gear), but it’s generally not hard to get healed with this.
  • Wreck is a huge damage boost that helps get Sweet Release kills to boot.
  • Elated is a solid health boost, but really isn’t that great. It doesn’t require killing anything, and there’s no effective health cap like Inertia, but is otherwise about the same. I keep grabbing it, but I’m not sure it’s really that great.
  • Life Tap is boss. Even at 1 point, it heals 1.2% of my damage, which heals faster than every other skill combined.1

Sweet Release and Wreck are pretty mandatory. But I’m not really sure I should spend any points in Elated. Then Life Tap, as good as it is, requires 6 points past Elated, or 11 points past Wreck.

If I’m going for Life Tap, the obvious choices are Sweet Release → Wreck → Elated. From there, I have to put 5 points somewhere to get to Life Tap.

  • Mind’s Eye is good for crit damage, but I don’t think it really helps a Sand Hawk much since most of my shots aren’t crits.
  • Restoration gives +15% health, but the healing ability doesn’t help for solo play.
  • Res is only 1 point and useless in solo play.
  • Recompense sounds cool, but we’re talking like 1M damage per attack, which I try to avoid because taking damage is bad, compared to 50 to 100M damage per Sand Hawk volley which makes it sound less cool.
  • Sustenance is garbage. At 5/5, it takes 35 seconds to recover from 0 to 50% health. Another 79 seconds to get to 90% health. Even at 11/5 it takes 16 seconds to 50%, another 36 to 90%.

So really my only choices are Mind’s Eye for occasional crit damage or Restoration for a bit more survivability. Alternately, I could do Mind’s Eye and Restoration and forego Elated.

The other main option is to skip everything past Wreck, leaving me with 14 points to put somewhere. I’m already wasting points in Cataclysm to get to Ruin, so that tree isn’t helping, but I could throw points into Kinetic Reflection and Inertia to help out a bit with damage reduction and shield recharge.

As long as I’m using the Cat or Siren mods, 1 point into Mind’s Eye is probably good, since that gives me 6/5, or 18% crit damage, off a single point.

1 My OP3 Sand Hawk does 209k per pellet. Scaling to OP4 would do 236k per pellet. With roughly double damage from a Cat mod, that’s about 500k. Adding in about 2.5M per pellet for Bee brings it to 3M. Multiplying by 1.4 for Reaper, 1.3 for elemental bonus and 1.75 for element matching is a total multiplier of 3.2, or 9.6M per pellet. If I hit 3 of 8 pellets per volley, with 3 volleys per burst, that’s 9 hits, or 86M damage in one burst. As much as 230M on large targets where all 24 pellets hit, or 307M with a Dahl stock (32 pellets per burst). 1.2% of those values is 1.0M, 2.8M and 3.7M. Considering that I only have 1.4M max health, that’s pretty much full health in one burst.

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I’d recommend looking at the skills break downs here:

Figuring out how to unlock the higher tiers in cataclysm is always a bit of a conundrum, but Immolate has a surprising bonus built in that’s not immediately apparent from the card text. I’ll defer to someone like @nat_zero_six or @Slif_One on OP level Maya builds though!


For the most part I like the look of your build. Don’t underestimate Immolate, I don’t carry launchers and between it and Cloud Kill I rarely have trouble getting a second wind. You wont truly appreciate how good it is until you hit a fleshy enemy with a corrosive gun and see how much Immolate chunks their health bar. That, and there aren’t really any other good options. The increase from Flicker is minute, this is one rare time when a multiplicative skill lets you down and you wish it was additive.

My biggest suggest would be to take Inertia, I highly recommend it and can’t stress that enough. The reload bonus is massive, and especially useful for SS builds to reload between procs. If you’re wearing an Evolution or Blockade, the regenerating shield can tank DoTs even at OP10. IMO it’s one of the best skills in the game.

Kinetic Reflection is a situational skill, I usually advise against it but I do have a build that uses it. It does nothing against grenades, rockets, any other form of splash damage, melee or DoT. It takes a lot of investment to be worth taking at all, but those points can be better spent elsewhere.

Life Tap is definitely worth building toward, but if you’re not going that far down HARMONY I wouldn’t bother with Sustenance at all. Unless you’re using a Binder COM with +5 or 6 in Suspension and play co-op, it’s not usually enough to get you above health gate. Sweet Release is your main healing skills, and a Legendary Binder adds +5 so you only need one point. With SS, that’ll be proccing a lot for bursts of healing. Sustenance just isn’t consistent enough to be reliable on its own.

The extra health from Restoration isn’t big enough to make a difference either, heavy hits will still health gate you and DoTs will chew through it. I take one point in it because I play co-op a lot and I take Sustenance to get down to Life Tap. One point is usually enough for the reasons you already cited.

Finally I’d recommend dropping The Bee. It’s not a good mobbing shield as it had a small capacity and you rely on keeping it fully charged at all times to be effective. It’s very inconsistent off the Peak where densely packed mobs will be hitting you a lot, and it provides next to no survivability. It’s counter to everything a shield should be, if you don’t need it you shouldn’t use it. Better to go for a higher capacity shield with a defensive secondary effect, and with a shield like that you can play more aggressively to take full advantage of offensive skills like Inertia and Life Tap. Those skills wont matter as much if you’re fighting from cover to preserve your shield’s charge.


I’m dying at how far you are down the Motion tree without a point in Thoughtlock. If you haven’t done it before, give it a spin. I’m not sure it’s for everybody, but with five points in Sub Sequence, it’s insanely good.

If you’re used to using Sub Sequence with Phaselock, I take it you’re familiar with the faster aquisition of Sub Sequence when enemies are close together? Converge helps, but I like to keep 'em real close with singularities ahead of time, so they’re within melee range of each other, all within Cloud Kill’s range, and any other AoE things you want to toss in the fracas. As one dies and you get a cycle of re-acquisitions, Converge will keep them tight.

With Phaselock, after they shake off Converge, they’ll come right back at you and/or go back to cover. With Thoughtlock, they’ll start working each other over, leaving you free to throw some Vladof grenade in there, file your nails, drop a Tunguska on 'em, whatever.


Cataclysm is such that you can always spread a few points around.

  • Helios only needs a single point if using the L Binder. Its damage in OP levels isn’t enough to seriously make an impact especially since they’re usually not yet slagged by Ruin.
  • Flicker is worth one point if you use the Siren. If not then leave it.
  • Blight Phoenix is worth a point to work in conjunction with Life Tap (which I love). One point is not really enough to pop barrels unless you camp by one - and who does that?

Motion is a bit trickier.

  • Accelerate is such a marginal increase without a Siren to boost it. I can rarely justify 5 points. I’m spoiled by Velocity.
  • Kinetic Reflection is all or nothing…almost. It really needs to be boosted (10/5) to really do serious work. But! One single point is basic damage reduction. Worth the point imo.
  • Inertia? Hells yes.

Harmony is simple with the L Binder

  • one point (6/5) is enough in Sweet Release since you should get several kills per PL.
  • Elated as Slif said is a weak healing skill with SS since you’re killing the PL targets quickly. So Sustenance and Life Tap are more effective. That said you still need to get down the tree, so max Mind’s Eye and a couple points each in SR and Elated. And Res if co-oping.
  • Restoration?? I can safely say I never used it and have no idea when I ever would - except maybe a point for co-op. Never 5/5 though.
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I think you answer already all your questions, or is it really a question at all :wink:.

You already got the important skills down in cataclysm and the rest are just based on preference and playstyle. Although i don’t consider any of it trash, if i could max all of it i would.

Take all of the build you have for a spin with the same gears and see which feels better for you.

For a nurse build check spunky’s nurse build although it is design for coop, i tinkered with it with a nurse, evo, health relic and points in motion and harmony and my shield and health is 7m Nd 9m respectively. Additional skill points can go down cataclysm to get at least ruin.


I play a Siren 95% of the time, and agree with the recommendations here except I do use Sustenance. Primarily because after the remaster and getting 8 more skill points I don’t really know where to put them, so may as well. I never play co-op so don’t need team healing skills.

As for shields, I use the Bee in a target fashion. On the Peak and occasional boss fights.
All other times I’m usually wearing an Adaptive shield. The health buff is nice, but more importantly the elemental damage de-buff is very useful in UVHM.
And I persoanlly rarely use the Sand Hawk, the slow projectiles (even with accelerate at 10/5) don’t mesh with my play style. I am 90% of the time using a Hellfire or B-tch to do damage. Specifically on the Peak I’m using the B-tch to very good effect on, say, Scorch, Black Queens, Doc Mercy since the accuracy allows you to crit them from a distance.


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I know you said your not using a Bone but I just wanted to add that that if your using both a Legendary Siren or Legendary Binder with a Bone of the Ancients Quicken will only give your CD about 1.5 seconds off. Making it kind of not worth 5 skill points. I made the mistake of spending about a week after the new patch using Quicken until my curiosity pushed me to test it with a stopwatch.

I ended up taking Fleet for Movement speed as it is active In FFYL it helps my second wind capabilities.

Ps I find if your solo 4 of 5 in Sweet release is more then enough as you will also have life tap after a kill. This way you can pop a point in to Minds eye to get COM boosts. This is a more conservative approach and is very subjective based on your gear and playstyle

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