Phoebe is an assassin’s assassin: she’s nimble and deadly. Quick on the battlefield, she’s able to pop in and out unexpectedly, devastating her enemies and choosing engagements as she sees fit.
Phoebe is an extremely precise melee character, able to score crits much more effectively than other melee characters. Of course, this comes at the cost of being a much less effective AoE fighter since she doesn’t make large swings with her basic attack. Coupled with the numerous buffs that she can get with her melee attacks, this makes Phoebe a very good damage dealer, both burst and sustained.
She is also highly mobile. She has good mobility by default and Phasegate is a highly effective combat teleport. Of course, she needs it because she doesn’t have much in the way of control and her range damage capability (via Blade Rush) is so bad that it’s almost not worth bringing up.
Unlike the most mobile characters, she lacks a high degree of vertical mobility outside of Phasegate’s instantaneous movement (which, for a melee character, would be pretty terrible, considering) and has a comparatively large model, making her easy to hit. This is offset by better than standard hp as well as a decent suite of survivability helices that can make for a surprisingly tank-y character if you take them all.
Phoebe isn’t really designed for long periods of sustained conflict: she’s designed to move in quickly, kill, and move out. In PvE, this means that you need to try and outflank opponents rather than just rush them headlong, and, in PvP, it means watching and waiting to ambush opponents when they’re weak and/or not looking.
The optimal usage of Phoebe’s main and alt-fire attacks changes based upon what helices you have selected. Only if you have Flurry (at level 7) should you use the oft mentioned tactic of holding both the main and alt-fire buttons down; if you do not have Flurry, this will result in a significant loss of DPS as your True Strikes begin clipping off the finishing blow of the combo. If you do not have Crosscut (at level 3), only use True Strike as part of the mixed combo mentioned with Flurry. If you have Crosscut but do not yet have Flurry, use True Strike manually whenever you have the Crosscut buff active; do not simply hold down both your main and alt-fire buttons as this will still reduce your DPS.
For her abilities, things people probably don’t realize or should know from the start.
Phoebe’s basic attack. A rapid and small area of effect melee attack that combos rapidly. A majority of Phoebe’s damage will be coming out of this. The small area of effect makes it extremely good at scoring crits but bad at taking out hordes of enemies (but that’s what you have your skills for). The combo is comprised of 4 attacks. The first attack deals 100% damage, the 2nd and 3rd deal 120% damage, and the final blow deals 150%.[/details]
Phoebe’s alt-attack. On its own, it’s a low damage lunge (85% of a single normal melee attack) with a low rate of fire (True Strike has an internal cooldown that is reduced by attack speed). However, you can combine this with her basic attack (by holding down both the main and alt-fire buttons) and she will use True Strike whenever it comes off of cooldown and her normal melee combo at any other time. By default, this is a DPS loss because your melee combo is not fast enough to complete by the time that True Strike comes off of CD. Because True Strike’s internal CD is reduced by gear, the only way to allow the game to complete the combo before True Strike comes off of CD is Flurry, a level 7 helix, that increases the attack speed of your primary melee combo only.
It’s important to remember that True Strike is a lunge, so there is a movement component to it every time it is used, which takes some time to get used to (and can be problematic if you’re trying to continually crit a target).
By default it’s a standard lunge but it can be tweaked with a helix at level 5 to add an AoE or a follow up attack, which makes it much more powerful and useful.
Interestingly, even though Phoebe levitates, this cannot be used while in the air. Also, even though the lunge’s attack is always straight forward, the movement provided by the lunge depends upon what direction you’re currently moving: if you’re moving backwards when you use True Strike, Phoebo will strike directly in front of her while jumping backwards. This makes True Strike incredibly useful for dodging to the side and helps with flanking enemies.[/details]
Skill 1. Phoebe teleports to the center of the targeted location, dealing damage to everything in the selected area upon arrival. The damage isn’t much, but it’s good for taking out minions and other weak enemies, allowing you to focus on a strong target. By far the most important element of this skill is the rapid mobility it provides: this is what allows Phoebe to choose fights because it allows her to teleport in or out. It’s also good for securing kills against fast moving enemies that are near death. Of course, if you do this, make sure you don’t overextend and get cut off from your allies because the CD is long.[/details]
Skill 2. Phoebe flicks her rapier a few times and unleashes a few bolts along similar (but not identical) paths. The bolts do very little damage on their own but they will pierce enemies, able to do a decent amount of damage against enemies that are properly lined up. Still, the damage isn’t impressive, especially for an assassin. In general, it’s best used for either softening up an enemy before you engage or taking out a weakened enemy as they leave.[/details]
Ultimate. A very powerful AoE, Phoebe does a grandiose spin (which she can continue to move but cannot attack or activate other skills during) and, when the spin ends, a patch is created around her in which rapiers continually fall and deal a lot of damage. The radius of the patch is slightly greater than her melee reach, though the delay between activation and the patch appearing makes it somewhat risky to use. It’s extremely powerful but don’t expect to really surprise anyone with it.[/details]
[details=Level 1: Aggressive Advance v. Preparation]
Recommendation: (PvP) Preparation; (PvE) Aggressive Advance
This choice largely revolves around how useful silence is in the given mode. In PvE, silence does nothing; as such, being able to silence enemies provides no benefit whatsoever so the increased movement upon using Phasegate, which would normally be pretty bad since mobility isn’t really of primal important in PvE, is optimal. In PvP, silence is absolutely devastating since it allows you to shut down your opponents and, as such, is the best choice.[/details]
[details=Level 2: Shield Resonators v. Phase Distortion]
Recommendation: (PvP) Phase Distortion; (PvE) Shield Resonators
Once again, the choice revolves around how useful a given condition is. Slowing is incredibly powerful in PvP, especially for assassins and when attached to a poweful ambush power like Phasegate. Furthermore, in PvP, Phoebe should be selecting her fights and be able to break line of sight or get out of range easily enough with Phasegate so starting her shields recharging after teleporting does little good. In PvE, slowing down enemies isn’t really going to do you much good though combat areas tend to be wide open, without the ability to rapidly break line of sight and save yourself with a single teleport. As such, being able to use Phasegate to get your shields immediately recharging is useful.[/details]
[details=Level 3: Shield Stabilizers v. Crosscut v. Sharpened Blades]
Recommendation: (PvP) Any; (PvE) Shield Stabilizers or Crosscut
Shield Stabilizers is simple: if you want better survivability (especially when using Shield Resonators because of the massive increase to Shield Regen), take it.
The choice between Crosscut and Sharpened Blades is more complex. Sharpened Blades improves both your basic attack as well as True Strike; as such, it is a straight 18% increase in DPS and simple enough.
Crosscut is less obvious. After you take it, the finishing blow of your combo (the one that deals 150% damage) will, when you hit an enemy with it, provide you with a short 3-4 second buff (you’ll know it’s there because Phoebe’s main rapier will glow yellow) that causes your next True Strike to deal 150% additional damage (since it deals 85% damage by default, that’s ~212.5% damage). Since True Strike seamlessly fuses with your default melee combo (more accurately, it interrupts your melee combo and has no animation downtime so you can resume your melee combo faster than normal), if you can activate True Strike after every single finishing blow, you will end up doing ~43% more DPS than if you were just doing your normal melee combo (normal combo is 1 + 1.2 + 1.2 + 1.5 = 4.9; perfectly timed mixed combo takes almost exactly as long as the normal combo is 1 + 1.2 + 1.2 + 1.5 + .85 * 2.5 = 7.025; 7.025 / 4.9 = 1.43).
However, until you hit level 7 and get Flurry, your melee combo will not complete before True Strike recharges. As such, before level 7, you have to do your True Strikes manually. It is only after level 7 and you get Flurry that you can basically get and consume Crosscut on auto-fire.[/details]
[details=Level 4: Unintended Innovation v. Raddoppio]
This is up to personal preference. Trading off the piercing for explosions can help with wave clear against enemies that don’t line up nicely, which is common in PvP. However, Raddoppio will reduce Blade Rush’s CD significantly since each blade is capable of reducing the CD by 2 seconds. Since there are 4 blades, this means you can reduce the CD (by default 20 seconds) to a mere 12 seconds if you’re able to hit a multiple minions (or 1-2 major enemies, like a boss or miniboss) with every one of the blades. If you’re good with Blade Rush the way it is normally, go with Raddoppio; if you need help hitting multiple enemies, go with UI.[/details]
[details=Level 5: Passata Sotto v. Blade Sweep v. Reprise]
Recommendation: Passata Sotto or Blade Sweep
Since you can easily hit with True Strike more than once every 3 seconds, PS can provide you with a permanent 30% increase to damage reduction. While efficient True Strike use pre-level 7 is extremely difficult, it is extremely powerful: 30% DR is a 42.9% increase in the time it takes for an enemy to kill you, which is massive. If you want to survive longer, PS is an obvious choice (moreso than Shield Stabilizers, even).
Presumably, the choice between Blade Sweep and Reprise is a choice between AoE and single target damage. Both of them do the same basic thing: they add a second attack to your True Strike. Blade Sweep’s adds a circular strike to everything around you, and Reprise adds an additional jab. The problem here is that Blade Sweep’s additional attack deals 50% more damage than your baseline True Strike while Reprise’s only deals 40% more. Because the animation differences are ignored by the mixed combo (such that you’ll get the same number of attacks in with either), there’s literally no reason to take Reprise over Blade Sweep: Blade Sweep does more damage, covers a larger area, and has no downsides.
Also, it should be mentioned that the additional attacks provided by both Blade Sweep and Reprise are affected by Crosscut: the buff is consumed if either the default True Strike or the bonus helix attack deals damage though the buff is not consumed until after the bonus helix attack resolves (so the buff will affect both attacks even if the default True Strike hits).
If you’re looking to compare BS to PS, Blade Sweep will improve the DPS of perfectly executed Crosscut combos by ~45%. If you don’t take Crosscut, the DPS increase is only ~22%.[/details]
[details=Level 6: Phasegate v2 v. Contingency Plan v. Disruptor Blades]
Recommendation: (PvP) Any; (PvE) Phasegate v2 or Contingency Plan
Disruptor Blades gives Phoebe access to the wounding debuff, which can really help her get kills in PvP. It’s only useful if there is a healer on the other side so, if there isn’t one (such as if one wasn’t picked by your opponents or you’re in PvE where there are no enemy healers), do not take it.
The choice between Pv2 and CP depends upon one major element: how often does your shield get broken. If you’re able to regularly rush in and kill a target before your shield gets broken, Phasegate v2 is the obviously better choice. If your shield does get broken, CP is better.
In general, I would recommend CP over Pv2 mainly because it allows you to use Phasegate to begin an attack and know that it will be there if/when you need to escape.[/details]
[details=Level 7: Core Overload v. Flurry]
Phoebe is not a skill damage character: of her skills, only Blade Cascade really does appreciable damage but it isn’t anywhere near awesome enough to really justify building around. The only reason to take CO is if you are working on Phoebe’s Blade Rush lore and don’t want to do Saboteur (any crit, even with a weak attack like Blade Rush, on a Varelsi Menagerie, the giant mushed up looking ones, and it will do several thousand damage).
Flurry’s value is also more than it seems. While only increasing her primary melee attack speed by 20% seems like it’s worse, because it allows her primary melee combo to sync with the cooldown of True Strike, it ends up being a much bigger DPS increase as well as an absolutely massive QoL improvement since it allows Phoebe to hold down both her main and alt-fire attack buttons in order to continuously alternate between a full melee combo and a True Strike.[/details]
[details=Level 8: Scientific Method v. Phase Stability]
Neither of these is particularly impressive. The “substantial” increase provided by SM increases the range by only a few meters. You really have to pay attention to notice. PS, on the other hand, improves the damage of Phasegate, which is pretty pathetic, and the only “buff” that Phasegate can provide Phoebe is the move speed increase option at level 1. It will be hard to notice either.[/details]
[details=Level 9: The Conduit v. Close-Quarters Training v. Refined Technique]
The best choice here depends upon playstyle, gear, and your current condition. The Conduit is extremely powerful and hands down the best if you have built around maximizing your shield: with Shield Stabilizers and a max stat battery, Phoebe will have 680 max shield which equals ~82 additional damage to each of your 4 blade projectiles, which deal 54 damage by default at level 10. That’s ~150% increased damage, and it will be pretty reliable since you probably also took Shield Resonators, so you can use Phasegate to get your shields charging and full in just over 4 seconds.
Of course, if you haven’t built around maximizing your shield (which I don’t really recommend; it’s kind of a gimmick move), you’re probably better served with either CQT or RT. The damage bonus for both of these is inverse: it’s either max or min right at melee range when they’re created and min or max right before the projectiles fade. In general, Phoebe is more of a melee character and will tend to have enemies closer to her than further away, so CQT will probably be best for most, but, since Blade Rush is Phoebe’s only ranged attack, RT is more valid because you’re going to be using Blade Rush more when you don’t have enemies close by.[/details]
[details=Level 10: Calamitous Cascade v. Stormbringer v. Swordstorm]
This is another one that comes down to playstyle. At level 10, by default, Blade Cascade will deal ~2360 damage over 5 seconds to everything in the area.
Stormbringer reduces this damage to ~944 but, because it follows you, you should be able to guarantee that damage is dealt. Swordstorm increases the radius by 50%, increasing the total area affected by 125%, and gives you a movement speed buff while in it (it’ll help you dodge attacks, but it won’t help you stick to an enemy because the area isn’t large enough). Unless your enemy is going to leave within the first 2 seconds, Swordstorm is better than Stormbringer.
Calamitous Cascade increases damage taken by enemies in the area of effect by 16%, including the damage dealt by Blade Cascade itself. As such, if enemies aren’t moving, CC is way better (since, at the very least, it’s ~378 additional damage, if not much more). If they just barely move (such that Swordstorm would still hit them if you had taken it), if they don’t take at least ~2030 damage (2360 / 1.16) before they’re able to leave, Swordstorm is better. If they immediately vacate the area completely, Stormbringer is the only one that would be useful.[/details]
Phoebe can be built to be a true, pure damage assassin or a pseudo-tank with ridiculous shield that flits around the battlefield refusing to die. I’ll go over all stats here, based on how I personally categorize them, and provide a priority list for each category.
(Attack Damage>Attack Speed>Critical Damage>Skill Damage>Cooldown>Shield Pen>Recoil=Reload)
Attack Damage is the best for Phoebe because she’s a non-skill damage dealer without any additional effects on a hit. As such, Attack Damage provides better DPS increases than Attack Speed does because gear just has more Attack Damage than Attack Speed.
Critical Damage is excellent because Phoebe is incredibly precise with her basic attack (and Blade Rush can crit too). However, Phoebe bounces around like crazy thanks to True Strike lunges, making it exceedingly difficult to continuously score critical hits, which you need to do to make crit gear viable, which is why this is lower.
Phoebe isn’t a skill damage character, so Skill Damage and Cooldown doesn’t really do much offensively. Still, Skill Damage gives better values than Cooldown does so it’s higher priority.
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. It’s still not a good stat, though. Recoil and reload are only useful as penalties to take on gear since they do absolutely nothing to her.[/details]
(Max Health>Max Shield>Health Regen=Damage Reduction>Healing Received>Shield Recharge=Shield Regen<CC Duration)
Max Health reigns over all other stats because it increases TTK by way more than anything else.
Max Shield doesn’t improve TTK as well as Max Health does, but it’s still useful.
Health Regen is exceptionally useful because Phoebe has no other way to recover her own hp. If you don’t have a healer and don’t want to trust to dropped heal orbs or supply stations to help you recover from a fight, you’ll need Health Regen to avoid falling prey to attrition.
Damage Reduction is close because, while Phoebe can’t get enough hp+shield to make it better than Max Health (it takes 3333 for DR to win and Phoebe can get 2527 with the Shield Stabilizers and a max stat battery), she can still stack enough to have it contribute a lot, especially if you take the helix options for survivability (Shield Stabilizers and Shield Resonators will allow her to recover 165 shield/sec after using Phasegate; if she can avoid getting hit for 4-5 seconds after using Phasegate with a broken shield, she can get to 3207 effective hp+shield before she dies). It’s still not the best, but it can get damned close.
Healing Received is only useful if you have a healer around and Phoebe doesn’t really have enough hp to make stacking healing received necessary (unless she’s barely alive, she’ll be brought back to full pretty easily).
Shield Regen isn’t worth it because gear just can’t compete with Shield Stabilizers: a full complement of Shield Regen gear will get you 98 shield/sec, which is still less than the 105 you get from the helix. Shield Recharge is worthless for similar reasons: Shield Resonators allows you to bypass the recharge timer completely by using Phasegate, which can have its CD reset by having your shield broken after a full charge (at level 6).
CC duration is functionally worthless. CCs don’t last that long so the minute values of CC duration on gear basically mean nothing.[/details]
(Move speed>Cooldown>Sprint speed>CC duration)
Move speed is useful in combat and out of combat and is increased by sprint speed. Cooldown means more Phasegate availability. 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=Gloves (attack damage)]
Pacifier (algorithm), Symbiotic Gauntlet (sentinel), Vow of Vengeance (renegade)
Pacifier makes it harder to break your shield because it’s reducing damage dealt and increasing your shield. Symbiotic Gauntlet syncs well with Phoebe’s potentially large shield ability to keep it full though you still probably want some health regen in your build (or a healer on your team) to keep you topped off. VoV is just pure face melting because it increases attack speed and, as a melee, you’re going to be generating those increased damage stacks like crazy.[/details]
[details=Swords (attack speed)]
Stolen Edge of Arcvynorr (sentinel), Vow of Zealous Fury (heliophage)
VoZF is the gold standard of attack speed legendaries: the stacks last an extremely long time and are easy to acquire, and it provides an excellent stat in addition to the attack speed. It’s kind of a to get, though, because Rendain drops it. And Rendain sucks (longest mission in the game and he’s the very last boss). SEoA is much easier to get and is almost as good: the stacks can be stacked faster if you’re in combat and quick about it; move speed is, in my book, worse than crit damage though, but that’s personal preference.
Orbital Tracking Spike get special mention here because, while it’s got useful stats (attack speed and shield), it’s a trap becauase the additional attack speed is conditional upon you standing still and True Strike forces you to move. True Strike is highly important to Phoebe’s DPS in the late game so taking something to reward you for not using it is a trap.[/details]
[details=Goggles (critical damage)]
Heliophagic Goggles (heliophage)
If you can manage to get crits reliably as Phoebe, this is worth it. Even if the end bonus to damage is terrible, you get attack speed to go with the critical damage and the special effect is quite nice. In PvE, a blind is basically a stun and, in PvP, it’s extremely disorienting to players.[/details]
[details=Pauldrons (damage reduction)]
Blissbeast Skull Plate (void’s edge)
Damage reduction and a nice chunk of regeneration. Gotta love it. Phoebe’s hp is low enough that you’ll get the benefit of the legendary effect plenty often as well.[/details]
[details=Injectors (health regen)]
Oath of the Sustained (renegade)
An excellent recovery legendary that also helps out your team. You get health regen, increased damage, and a portion of all damage dealt (which should be a lot) is given to your allies as life. Considering Phoebe’s DPS, you should be able to provide a lot of healing to your allies.[/details]
[details=Armor (max hp)]
Vigilance Link (sentinel), Vampiric Vestment (jennerit)
Vigilance Link gives you 2 good 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. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend VV for PvP, but Phoebe can be built to be pretty durable and, with Phasegate, hard to pin down and kill.
Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter and Premium Health plan bear mentioned here. P2G has 2 very nice survivability stats, though, as a character with little damage recovery and a on of shield, it’s hard to take enough hits to your hp to make P2G really worth it. PHP is appealing because Phoebe has a lot of shield, which makes it seem pretty inviting. Don’t bother with it. She doesn’t have the recovery tools to get back from taking hp damage and the amount of shield recharge on this is a pittance compared to what you can get through your helices. As I said before, if you want shield regen, get it from the helix.[/details]
[details=Batteries (max shield)]
Modernista (saboteur), Executive Insurance Policy (llc), One-4-All Shield Array (experiment)
Modernista is a good anti-ranged shield with a good secondary stat. An excellent way to discourage snipers in PvP since you can avoid the first crit and hurt them in the process. EIP is only really legit in PvP where you need the extra shards, but, if you build around ISIC recharging his shields (with the helix choices), you can have an overshield extremely often. One-4-All gives you more shield, your allies more shield, and can stack up some shield penetration if you want to push a shield pen build, not that it’s very good.[/details]
[details=Boots (move speed)]
Boots of the Brute (saboteur), Blade Dancer’s Shoes (lore)
I wouldn’t use the BotB for PvE since you don’t need to slow enemies, but they’re useful in PvP since they let you keep up with enemy players exceptionally well. BDS are pretty questionable, not because of the legendary effect (which is quite powerful: as long as you don’t miss with True Strike and you keep using it regularly to refresh the stacks, which are capped at something like 10, you’ll get a massive damage increase), but because the stats are junk.[/details]
[details=Pins (skill damage)]
Bola’s Target Finder (experiment)
The gold standard of skill damage legendaries. Attack speed (amazing) in addition to skill damage and a bonus effect that makes enemies take more damage after being damaged by your skills. This is the only skill damage item I would dream of using on Phoebe since it gives a useful secondary and allows skills to augment her more important attack damage.[/details]
Vow of Zealous Fury, Vow of Vengeance, Oath of the Sustained
The first 2 legendaries are all about damage; OotS is there to give you damage and keep you topped off since you shouldn’t have problems avoiding most health damage but enough will still get through for it to be a concern.[/details]
[details=Pure Damage PvE]
Vow of Zealous Fury, Vow of Vengeance, Bola’s Target Finder
Also known as the “I’ll kill you before you break my shield” build, you’re going for pure damage and attack speed. It’s risky, but the payoff is worth it if you can avoid taking health damage too often (generally by using Phasegate to escape).[/details]
[details=Pure Survivability PvE]
Vampiric Vestment, Modernista, Pacifier
VV and Pacifier both give you a lot of survivability but they also mean that your damage won’t be pathetic, which is important. Modernista gives you a better shield, faster CD, and discourages snipers.[/details]
[details=Blade Rush Gimmick PvE]
Voxis Core (jennerit), Shield Web Interdictor (algorithm), Aria’s Encore (thrall ops)
Not that I recommend using it, but, if you want to go for maximum Blade Rush damage, this is the way to go (if you’re not doing an ops, Pacifier will probably the best replacement for Aria’s Encore). VC + SWI will both increase your max shield (with the helices, you’ll have 778) and all of them will buff your skill damage (~40%), so that, at level 10 (with the right helices), your Blade Rushes will be doing ~200+ damage each. You’re heavily gimping everything else you do by optimizing for this, but it’s a gimmick build: that’s what it’s there for.[/details]
[details=Basic Attack PvP]
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power) or Erratic Shard Extractor (-reload), Vow of Vengeance, Vow of Zealous Fury
Free shard gen (either of those penalties are good because neither affects her) to allow you to afford the other 2. VoV and VoZF are simply the best damage legendaries you can get. If you have problems keeping people around, Boots of the Brute is the way to go instead of either of those (VoZF is better front end damage; VoV is better back end).[/details]
[details=Fast Leveling PvP]
Erratic Shard Extractor (-reload), Erratic Tempestian Cred-Stick (-reload), 1 legendary
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. The legendary is there for when you hit level 5 (or 10, whatever your goal level is; probably 7 for Flurry) and don’t need to build for xp any more. I don’t mention any specific legendaries because there are a crapton that can fit in depending upon what you want and how you want to do it: VoV or VoZF for damage, Boots of the Brute for lockdown, etc.[/details]