Ambra is a strange beast. She is defined as a “healer” but does so much more than that, especially since, from a strict numerical standpoint, she’s actually a weak healer (compared to Alani and Miko).
The first thing you need to know about Ambra is that she is, with a single exception, a melee character. It seems kind of strange for a “priestess/wizard”-type character, but that’s how it is. Sunspot and Extinction Event are mid-range abilities, but they exist to support her efforts as she dances around in melee range, stabbing and draining her enemies. The exception to her melee-ness happens late game (level 7) so even, if you want to go the ranged path, you still need to learn to play her in melee to get to that point.
Next, there is a lot of intereaction between Ambra’s abilities. Her basic attack and Solar Wind provide heat, which powers up her alt-fire, which reduces the cooldown on Sunspot, which is where most of her support capability comes from. It’s a linear process but different parts of her kit exist to support different parts of the process, and you need to learn how to operate every part of it in order to be a really effective Ambra.
Ambra doesn’t really have any major weaknesses other than her being melee. She semi-fragile for a melee character but she has a passive that provides her with a shield when she gets critical, which can often be all you need to keep you alive (and provides you with a nice warning that you need to gtfo), as long as you don’t get hit so hard that you pass right over “critical” and land right at “dead”.
For her abilities, things people probably don’t realize or should know from the start.
Staff of Radiance
Ambra’s basic attack. It’s a life draining attack that latches on to a target, continually dealing damage and restoring Ambra life equal to a portion of the damage dealt with each tick. You have to be in normal melee range to establish the link initially, but the link will remain until there’s a surprising distance between the two of you (about double melee range) or the target is completely out of line of sight. You can actually link up and then dance back a bit, avoiding melee attacks while draining a target in perpetuity. Each tick also provides you with a bit of heat which you can use to power up your alt-attack.
Ambra’s alt-attack. It’s a melee attack that deals decent damage. If you have heat, it will consume roughly 10% of your total heat and deal additional damage. The more heat you have, the more additional damage is dealt. At full 100% heat, it doubles the damage dealt for that blow (e.g. if a non-heat attack would deal 50 damage, at 100% heat, the attack would deal 100); at 50% heat, the attack will deal 50% additional damage. Furthermore, whenever you hit a target and consume heat, the active cooldown on Sunspot is reduced by 1 second. Keep this in mind when you’re spamming Scorching Strikes: Sunspot will be off cooldown more often than you’re used to (you’ll probably need to be throwing them out since you’ll be in melee range and probably taking damage without any other self healing).
Ambra’s passive. If you’re keeping yourself topped off, you probably wouldn’t even realize that this existed. If you’re fighting Ambra, you know for a fact that this exists and exactly how annoying it can be. As soon as Ambra drops below 20% of max hp (as long as she’s still alive), she gets a fat 300 point Overshield (she starts off with 300 shield and ~900 hp, so it effectively increases her time-to-kill by 25%). Overshield prevents her from getting crits so you have to whittle down that damned thing normally. In addition, the cooldown on the passive isn’t that long, so if she heals herself back up a bit, she’s liable to get a new one almost immediately after the old one fades if you don’t kill her.
Skill 1. Does a bit of damage, heals any nearby friendlies (including minions), and can be tweaked with helices for some other nice boons. The sunspot has a couple hundred hp, loses a bit of hp with each tick against an enemy or ally (so more targets means it dies faster), and can and will be killed if attacked by enemies. Sometimes NPCs notice it, other times they don’t. It’s kind of random on that front. You can place multiple Sunspots (2 by default; 3 with helix) and the oldest Sunspot is replaced when you place more than you’re supposed to have. I consider this to be Ambra’s “bread and butter” skill since it’s where she gets pretty much all of her healing and a fair bit of her AoE damage when played for it. In addition, the cooldown is short enough that you don’t need to worry about it getting killed by enemies since you’ll just have a new one up and annoying your enemies in a few seconds.
Skill 2. Ambra extends a hand and lets loose a burst of fire for 3 seconds that deals damage to everything directly in front of her, with a max range just outside of melee range (about the same distance as the max length of Staff of Radiance’s tether). By default, it only deals damage (a pretty anemic quantity, all considered) but it generates heat very effectively (since you get Heat for every tick of damage against an enemy; against a group, you can very easily hit 100% Heat). There are some helices that tweak it pretty heavily and make it more useful as an attack rather than simply a Heat generation tool.
Ultimate. Deals a truly impressive amount of damage over an extremely large area, but is crippled by the ~5 second delay from when you place it and when the attack actually hits. In PvE, you need to be able to predict where enemies will be to use it effectively; if you can, it’s absolutely devastating because it hits like a truck (and it leaves a patch of ground that will deal even more damage to anything that stays). In PvP, it hits hard enough that most players will flee as soon as they see the red octohedron that marks its landing point. You’ll rarely hit players with it, but the fact that players will often clear out asap means that you can use it as an area denial tool even without doing any damage.
[details=Level 1: Sunspotter v. Illumination]
Recommendation: (PvP) Depends upon enemy composition; (PvE) Sunspotter
Sunspotter debuffs enemies hit by your Sunspot so that they take more damage (including damage taken from your Sunspots) but doesn’t stack. Illumination adds a minor DoT to your Solar Wind and reveals stealthed enemies.
Since there are no stealthed enemies in PvE, the only value to Illumination for PvE comes from the DoT. The problem here is that you’ll actually end up with more damage from Sunspotter increasing damage taken, so Sunspotter is the only really viable choice in PvE.
In PvP, if there’s a Pendles on the other team, you may consider Illumination because being able to reveal him is incredibly useful. Of course, the reveal only lasts 3 seconds (there’s an occasional bug that shrouds Pendles in non-damaging fire, even while stealthed, for the rest of the match) and you need to know where he is in order to hit him with Solar Wind in the first place. In addition, there’s a useful helix later on that allows you to reveal with Sunspot so you don’t even really need Illumination.[/details]
[details=Level 2: Blessing of the Sun v. Soothing Sunlight v. Solar Burst]
Recommendation: Blessing of the Sun
Virtually all of Ambra’s healing comes from her Sunspots so increasing your Sunspot healing by 30% is an incredible boon, especially compared to the other options here.
Soothing Sunlight and Solar Burst both do the same thing with different purposes: they turn your Sunspots into “consumables” that explode when touched to either heal allies (Soothing Sunlight) or damage enemies (Solar Burst). The convertion rate is pretty pathetic (it amounts to about 3-4 ticks all at once) and can end up wasting your Sunspot. The only reason I’d ever consider taking either of these is if it’s basically impossible to have a Sunspot survive for more than a second or so and you’re able to spam them. You might consider experimenting with either of these options once or twice, but I doubt you’ll find them to be more useful than increasing Ambra’s healing.[/details]
[details=Level 3: Ceremonial Sacrifice v. Stellar Ritual v. Blood Drive]
Recommendation: Stellar Ritual
Ceremonial Sacrifice allows Ambra to use her basic attack (the life draining one) as a Miko-style healing beam on her allies that consumes Ambra’s health to fuel the healing. Stellar Ritual allows you to use your basic attack as a cost free heal on your Sunspots (which will continue to attack your enemies and heal your allies as you are healing it). Blood Drive increases the amount of hp you get from each tick of your basic attack.
Ceremonial Sacrifice is an attractive option for players that want to give Ambra some “on demand” healing. The problem is that it consumes Ambra’s hp to do it and she can’t do anything while she’s healing an ally. In this way, it’s a trap. If you place a Sunspot and use your basic attack to heal it, you can heal all of your nearby allies and deal damage to (and potentially debuff) nearby enemies without consuming your hp.
Blood Drive makes Ambra slightly more survivable but I’ve always found Sunspots to be more than enough healing.[/details]
[details=Level 4: Radiant Gale v. Ritual of Repulsion v. Searing Wind]
Recommendation: Ritual of Repulsion
Radiant Gale and Searing Wind largely leave Solar Wind as it is and augment it: Radiant Gale gives you a powerful forced movement ability that can be directly quite effectively when you want to make someone go to a specific location (the knockback distance is actually quite impressive and each tick provides the knockback so you can get a lot of distance out of it). Searing Wind increases damage depending upon distance but it’s not like Solar Wind was particularly impressive on the damage front in the first place.
Ritual of Repulsion, however, completely changes Solar Wind. Instead of channeling a blast of fire for 3 seconds, Ambra slams her staff into the ground twice in roughly a second, dealing damage to and knocking back enemies all around her in a rather impressive radius. The damage is roughly equal to what Solar Wind does over its full duration normally (split into 2 separate slams) though it does so over a much shorter time frame, so the DPS is actually increased significantly. It also does significant knockback as well. In effect, Ritual of Repulsion trades off a bit of precision control for a much larger area, better DPS, and good bit of knockback. Keep in mind, while using it for damage, each slam knocks enemies back so that, if you stand still, you’ll knock nearby enemies out of the radius with the first slam and they won’t be hit by the second slam. If you want to hurt a specific enemy with it, move towards them as you slam so that they’ll get caught by both.[/details]
[details=Level 5: Cauterization v. Flame Burst]
Both of these augment Flame Shield, which only activates when you’re nearly dead. Furthermore, Flame Burst only triggers to deal the additional damage when it expires, which means either an enemy almost has you dead or it’s been 4 seconds since something almost killed you. In either case, a little bit of damage isn’t liable to do much for you. I’d much rather have a 4 second burst of movement speed when I get low to make sure I survive.[/details]
[details=Level 6: Agile Anomaly v. Solar Anomaly v. Solar Storm]
Recommendation: (PvP, against Pendles) Agile Anomaly; (general PvP, PvE) Any
Against Pendles, nothing is as good at screwing over the stealth as large AoE revealing area denial. This helix is the reason that Ambra is Pendles’ bane.
Historically, I have opted to recommend Solar Anomaly and Solar Storm. With Ritual of Repulsion, Solar Wind is a truly impressive damage and control ability and being able to use it more often is quite a boon. Similarly, being able to maintain another Sunspot is quite nice.
Recently, however, I’ve started using Agile Anomaly, even in PvE, for a slew of reasons.
First off, I tend to throw Sunspots into the middle of things, so they tend to die quickly. As such, most of them don’t really live long enough to get more than 2 out (and, if I would get more than 2 out, generally, the oldest is nearly dead anyways). Secondly, Solar Wind is good damage but risky since you have to get close to high damage melee enemies.
Agile Anomaly gives Sunspot the same radius as Extinction Event (which is a nice bit of synergy) meaning that you can place it in a safer location and it’s liable to hit significantly more targets while it’s up. Combined with Stellar Ritual, you’ll end up with an extremely large area of damage, healing, and (potentially) debuffing.
All 3 of them are excellent choices and I recommend trying each of them out to see which fits you best. As I see it, Agile Anomaly is best for players that use Sunspot aggressively and need to make sure it gets used before it dies, Solar Anomaly is best for players that routinely end replacing multiple active and useful Sunspots with new ones or those that want to lay a bunch of traps, and Solar Storm is best for players that are more interested in control or burst damage.[/details]
[details=Level 7: Flame Staff v. Radiant Halberd v. Radiant Spear]
Recommendation: Radiant Halberd (if you have Ambra’s lore legendary) or Flame Staff (if you don’t)
Flame Spear is terrible. It consumes all of your heat in a single burst at a truly terrible conversion rate. Furthermore, because it consumes all of that heat in a single burst, you get a very large reduction in Sunspot’s CD, which isn’t really needed since it already has a low cooldown time and you’re getting 1 second off per Scorching Strikes hit in the first place. The burst just isn’t worth the inefficiency.
Radiant Halberd is absolutely amazing. When I mentioned the single exception to Ambra being a melee character, this is what I was referring to. With it, Ambra’s alt-fire begins throwing out explosive fireballs that deal damage in a small AoE. Because it’s explosive, it can’t crit but it also can’t be blocked by shields (makes Ambra awesome for taking out shielded foes like Brutes and Boldur/Galilea). The damage is pretty impressive, but, thankfully, the damage dealt isn’t contingent on your current level of Heat. Interestingly, there isn’t a minimum amount of Heat required per blast; you simply have to have some heat. Since Ambra’s lore leg provides passive Heat generation, you can constantly unleash fireballs when you have both of them active, making Ambra a very effective mid-range character.
If you don’t have Ambra’s lore legendary, Flame Staff is the way to go. It gives you life steal when gaining Heat (via her basic attack) and life steal while consuming it (via her alt-attack), making her alt-attack much more viable and melee friendly.[/details]
[details=Level 8: Bask in the Light v. Fan the Flames]
Both of these are viable options. Whichever is best depends entirely upon how you end up using Sunspot. Bask in the Light means that you’re going to be throwing out more Sunspots. Fan the Flames means that they’ll stick around a good deal longer (since their health determines how many ticks they can provide). Experiment and figure out which is best for you.
Personally, I go with Fan the Flames because Scorching Strikes already reduces the cooldown on Sunspots. Furthermore, more health means that I’ll get more ticks per summoning and spend less time summoning Sunspots and more time doing other useful things, like throwing fireballs.[/details]
[details=Level 9: Howling Wind v. Sweltering Wind]
Another level where the question of “best” is up to taste. It’s a question of longer reach or more power. The increased AoE radius applies to Ritual of Repulsion as well, giving you a surprisingly wide AoE and makes running at a target while you slam the ground much safer.[/details]
[details=Level 10: Impact Crater v. World’s End]
Recommendation: (PvP) Any; (PvE) World’s End
Once again, it’s up for debate. Impact Crater’s 2 seconds of stun after a high damage hit that also happens to leave behind a damage patch is great. In PvP, it just makes it all the more important for enemy players to gtfo. In PvE, it’s not really all that great since not much would survive getting hit in the first place (and those that do, like bosses, are immune to stun so it does even affect them) and you tend to want to stun things on demand, not “5 seconds from now”. World’s End’s increased duration means that, in PvP, the ground is going to be denied to your opponents even longer and, in PvE, it just means that enemies are going to take more damage from it.[/details]
Ambra is as much about killing enemies as she is about making sure her allies don’t die. Furthermore, she needs to be in the thick of things to generate and consume Heat. She’s pretty durable, thanks to Flame Shield, and already very mobile. I’ll go over all stats here, based on how I personally categorize them, and provide a priority list for each category.
[details=Offensive](Skill Damage=Attack Damage>Attack Speed=Cooldown>Critical Damage>Shield Pen>Recoil=Reload)
Ambra has some truly hard hitting skills and can generate some amazing damage through AoE. As such, Skill Damage works wonders. On the other hand, Staff of Radiance, Scorching Strikes, and Radiant Halberd are also excellent sources of damage and rely on Attack Damage to do their job.
Attack Speed is low priority stat for Ambra because it only improves her alt-attack. The speed of her Sunspot and Staff of Radiance ticks is static and unchanging. If it did alter the tick speed on those attacks, it would be higher priority, but, sadly, it doesn’t.
As a skill driven character, one would assume that Cooldown would be good, but, since Sunspot’s CD (her bread and butter) can be reduced through the use of Scorching Strikes by default, Cooldown falls to the wayside.
Critical Damage is a terrible stat for her because she’s melee (and many crit locations are hard to get to) and the only attack she’s got that’s capable of critting is her default alt-attack (which many players are going to replace with Radiant Halberd because it’s awesome) which is only really good with a lot of Heat in the first place.
Shield pen is utterly rubbish. It’s only useful in PvP because most enemies in PvE don’t have shields (and no bosses have them; Rendain’s shield doesn’t care about shield pen). Still, it actually does something unlike recoil and reload. Recoil and reload are only useful as penalties to take on gear since they do absolutely nothing to her.[/details]
(Max Health<Max Shield<Shield Recharge=Shield Regen=Healing Received<Damage Reduction<Health Regen<CC duration)
Max health is the queen of Ambra’s defensive stats because she has so little hp that, unlike everything else here, it has an extremely noticeable impact on her TTK. Max shield is a close second and has its advantages and disadvantages: while shield is up, you cannot be crit (though you can’t really stack enough shield to make it withstand more than a couple blows); max shield values are way lower than max health values so they don’t add to TTK as much and the fact that they regenerate is irrelevant considering Ambra can self heal with Sunspots and life drain.
Ambra has a 300 point shield by default so stuff to improve her existing shield is good, especially since she can take care of her hp pretty easily with life drain and self-healing.
Healing received is worse than either of the true TTK improvements because it only works when she’s healing herself. However, because she can heal herself easily and for impressive amounts, it’s still very good.
Just like for every other non-tank, damage reduction is terrible for Ambra. For DR to be worth it, you need to have an extremely large hp + shield. Ambra does not. Even if you assume that she’ll self heal, she doesn’t have enough.
Health regen is terrible because Ambra self-heal extremely well and can life drain while fighting. Health regen is also absolutely tiny, so you’ll never really notice it in combat (and, when out of combat, Sunspots are going to give you more than you could ever get with gear).
CC duration is functionally worthless. CCs don’t last that long so the minute values of CC duration on gear basically mean nothing.[/details]
This is less about Heal Power than is it about Cooldown. Sunspot has a short CD and can be shortened by Scorching Strikes. As such, it’s not terribly impressive.
Concerning Heal Power, keep in mind that it doesn’t affect life drain. The only healing it’s gonna beef up is from Sunspots.[/details]
[details=Mobility](Move speed>Sprint speed>CC duration)
Move speed is useful in combat and out of combat and is increased by sprint speed. Sprint speed is only really useful outside of combat. CC duration reduces the duration of slows and stuns but is still absolutely terrible.[/details]
Getting shards helps you buy gear as well as construct buildables. Buildable reduction makes them way cheaper, however. Something to consider is that I only find these stats remotely useful in PvP. PvE gives you shards like candy; unless you’ve got someone who bogarts all of the shards, every mission should provide a surplus of shards even if you have a triple legendary loadout (like I do for pretty much everyone). In PvP, however, these are absolutely amazing and can actually be the foundation of an effective strategy.[/details]
Legendaries of Note:
[details=Med Kits (heal power)]Solar Sustainer (jennerit), Void Resonator (void’s edge)
Solar Sustainer is the best med kit for Ambra. It gives attack damage along with increased healing (meaning stronger life drain and stabbing) and gives you even more (and some to your target) when you heal someone. With Sunspotter, Sunspots will end up increasing damage dealt on multiple fronts while keeping your own team alive. Void Resonator is the better option for a more defensively minded Ambra: it gives you shields back faster and heals you up nice and pretty. You’re not going to notice the benefit from Void Resonator too much since it’s only 7%, but it’ll add up.[/details]
[details=Gloves (attack damage)]Pacifier (algorithm), Symbiotic Gauntlet (sentinel)
Attack damage makes Ambra’s basic attacks better. Pacifier gives her a beefier shield and reduces damage dealt (and can be really effective with Sunspot, since you’ll be increasing damage taken and reducing damage dealt by a lot of enemies). Symbiotic Gauntlet is probably the best offensively since Ambra can keep herself healed quite easily and +hp is the best stat for her survivability.
Vow of Vengeance and Lenore’s Lament demand special attention. VoV seems like it’d be a good idea, but too much of Ambra’s damage comes from sources that don’t trigger the proc and the stacks fade after 3 seconds. Ambra’s Staff of Radiance doesn’t generate stacks (it’s not considered “melee”) so you’ll only generate stacks by using Scorching Strikes, which is best used in short bursts when at max Heat. Attack speed is also not too useful for her. Lenore’s Lament has excellent stats but it’s important to note that Ambra already has plenty of self healing (so the life steal on non-Jennerit is somewhat redundant).[/details]
[details=Pins (skill damage)]Bola’s Target Finder (experiment), Shard of Jennar (lore)
Bola’s Target Finder is the gold standard of skill damage legendaries. Attack speed might not be that useful but you get skill damage and a bonus effect that makes enemies take more damage after being damaged by your skills, making Sunspots with Sunspotter even more awesome.
If you want to be a ranged Ambra, you need Shard of Jennar. Skill damage is nice, as is heal power, but the real moneymaker is the passive Heat generation that will allow you to unleash a constant stream of fireballs.[/details]
[details=Watches (cooldown)]Chrono Key (sentinel), Firmware Update (algorithm)
Cooldown tends to be low on the priority list because of the ease with which you can spam Sunspot by default, but both of these rely on that ease of spamming to make your other skills available more often. Ambra deals pretty good damage thanks to all of her skills being AoE and Chrono Key’s +healing increases that utility. Firmware Update relies upon your spamming Sunspot rather than dealing damage to reduce CD and could be the very answer you need to build focusing on throwing out a bunch of Sunspots (since you’ll be throwing out a lot).[/details]
[details=Amulets (healing received)]All-4-One Morale Booster (upr), Leechsteel Brooch (renegade)
The All-4-One is great for keeping your nearby melee allies alive. The DR makes you harder to kill too, which helps a lot. Leechsteel helps because Ambra does a lot of skill damage, so getting a bit more life steal and a bit more damage to go with your increased healing received can be useful. With a Sunspot always at her side, this can make Ambra quite tanky.[/details]
[details=Armor (max hp)]Vigilance Link (sentinel), Vampiric Vestment (jennerit)
Vigilance Link gives you 2 excellent survivability stats and makes your team more durable as well. Excellent for team players and more support minded people. Vampiric vestments will give you hp, more hp when you kill things, and more attack damage so that it’s easier to kill things. However, because you lose them when you die, I wouldn’t recommend VV for PvP since dying is relatively common.[/details]
[details=Batteries (max shield)]Modernista (saboteur), Voxis Core (jennerit)
Modernista is a good anti-ranged shield with a decent secondary stat. A good way to discourage snipers in PvP since you can avoid the first crit and hurt them in the process. Voxis Core is amazing for dealing skill damage since it makes AoEs deal 15% more damage, in effect, and skill damage is a secondary stat.[/details]
[details=General PvE (Radiant Halberd)]Solar Sustainer, Shard of Jennar, Voxis Core
Increased survivability from +shield, increased damage from +attack damage and +skill damage, improved AoE from Voxis Core. Shard of Jennar for fueling Radiant Halberd (and improving your heals)[/details]
[details=General PvE (non-Radiant Halberd)]Solar Sustainer, Bola’s Target Finder, Voxis Core
Just like the previous loadout but getting rid of Shard of Jennar for the much more powerful Bola’s since you don’t need passive Heat generation.[/details]
[details=Pure Healing]Solar Sustainer, Chrono Key, All-4-One Morale Booster
Taking the best stuff to improve healing output.[/details]
[details=General PvP (Radiant Halberd)]Erratic Shard Extractor (-reload), Shard of Jennar, Solar Sustainer
Shard extractor so that you can afford the legendaries. Shard of Jennar to fuel your fireballs. Could probably replace the Solar Sustainer with a blue glove or med kit if you want to reduce the price a bit.[/details]
[details=General PvP (non-Radiant Halberd)]Erratic Shard Extractor (-reload), Bola’s Target Finder, Solar Sustainer
Shard extractor so that you can afford the legendaries. Could probably replace either legendary with a similar blue if you want to reduce the price a bit.[/details]
[details=Fast Leveling PvP (Radiant Halberd)]Erratic Shard Extractor (-reload), Erratic Tempestian Cred-Stick (-reload), Shard of Jennar
Build as much as possible to get easy xp and level up as quickly as possible. Make sure you stick around the fights as well so that you’re not sacrificing minion xp for build xp. Shard of Jennar is there to fuel Radiant Halberd (which is probably what you’re trying to level up to get to).[/details]
[details=Fast Leveling PvP (non-Radiant Halberd)]Erratic Shard Extractor (-reload), Erratic Tempestian Cred-Stick (-reload), Solar Sustainer
Build as much as possible to get easy xp and level up as quickly as possible. Make sure you stick around the fights as well so that you’re not sacrificing minion xp for build xp. Could probably replace Solar Sustainer with Bola’s Target Finder if you want to play a bit more around Sunspots.[/details]