As much as Rath tries to tell everyone that he is not a vampire, it has been said by developers that he was the first character developed under the idea of having a “space vampire samurai”. They just kind of threw cool concepts into a blender and turned it on. Which is doubly amusing because that’s just what Rath does to hit opponents.
Rath is all about killing stuff. To stay alive, he has to deal damage since he’s squishier than most other melee and relies on his natural life steal to make up for that. Of course, killing stuff also has the somewhat tangential benefit of actually stopping things from attacking him since dead stuff can’t try and kill you (since there are no zombies in BB, sadly).
Rath also has absolutely amazing AoE capabilities. His basic attack is a wide slash finished off by a devastating spin that damages everything near him. His abilities are similarly good at taking out numerous foes. Pretty much everything you do with Rath is going to end up killing stuff other than your actual intended target.
Of course, one of Rath’s main strengths (his life steal) is also his biggest weakness: if he can’t injure his targets, he’s way squishier than he’s supposed to be. Ranged enemies are his bane and, while he’s got decent close-to-mid reach with his skills, his only defense against long range attacks is “close the gap and kill them, preferably via a path with lots of cover”.
An interesting note: if you think you recognize Rath’s voice, it’s probably because you’ve heard it before. Rath’s English voice actor is the same voice actor (pretty much the same voice, even) for the English language dub of Dragonball’s Vegeta. Rath has a lot of Vegeta’s personality and a few of his mannerisms, though there is no mentioned of “over 9000” and, for some reason, Reyna (the leader of the Rogues) has the taunt in which she goes super saiyan rather than Rath.
For his abilities, things people probably don’t realize or should know from the start.
[details=Axiom and Praxis]Rath’s basic attack. Named after the two smaller swords he uses for all but one of his attacks, Rath executes 3 quick, wide slashes to his front (they cover between 90-120* in front of him) followed by a slightly higher damage 360* spin. He’s got a naturally high attack speed that can get significantly better with gear. This is his bread-and-butter.
Rath also has an untitled attack that he uses as his alt-fire: he throws one of his swords a short distance ahead of him, spinning parallel to the ground. The descriptor on his command page is somewhat inaccurate since it doesn’t actually do significantly better AoE damage than his basic attack: it’s the same width has his frontal attacks. What it does do is additional damage against shields, but the base damage is significantly lower than his basic attack so you will only barely be outdamaging his basic attack when taking out shields (~10%) and the distance it covers is only slightly further than melee range. The only reason to use it is if you are fighting heavily shielded enemies in front of you with no enemies to your back or sides, which doesn’t happen often. Even then, the damage advantage is relatively minor. You can easily never use his alt-fire the entire time you’ve played Rath and never miss it (or feel like you’re missing anything, in fact).[/details]
Rath’s passive. Rath naturally has 8% life steal on his non-skill attacks and 10% life steal on his skill attacks. Keep in mind, as with all life steal, only health damage is factored in, so don’t be surprised in the least when you have a tougher time than you’d expect going up against heavily shielded enemies like Thrall Beastmasters and Ronin.
Skill 1. Rath’s only real ranged attack. He fires a pair of “sword beams” in an X shape directly in front of him. It activates quickly and deals a decent chunk of damage. It’s only mid-range, so don’t expect to snipe your enemies with it, and the projectile speed is relatively slow. Even so, it’s excellent for taking out lined up enemies and for taking out runners.[/details]
Skill 2. The only time Rath uses Precept (the giant sword on his back). Rath smacks the ground with his giant sword, shorting out a ground based shockwave a short distance in front of him (it’s too long to reall be “close” range but it’s not nearly as long as Crossblade, so I hesitate to call it “mid”) that deals a bit of damage and, more important, sends any opponents hit flying into the air. While Rath can’t really attack any of his enemies while they’re in the air like this, it allows him to close the gap and/or reposition without being attacked. When they land, NPC enemies take a couple seconds to recover themselves and most players will also be slightly confused. Early on, you can take a helix that also allows it to silence enemies, which will really ruin a players’ day.[/details]
Ultimate. Not nearly as good as it used to be but still pretty devastating. The wind up isn’t as long as the description suggests (I didn’t even realize there was one until I read it in the description), and the damage is actually extremely good: the damage per hit as listed is only slightly better than the base damage of your basic attack (at level 1, it’s 63/hit compared to 55/hit for your basic) however Dreadwind makes more attacks per second than your basic attack does and every single one of them is in 360*. Don’t forget that you can move at normal speed while Dreadwind is active, too. In PvE, I don’t recommend using it against bosses or the like, since they enjoy using knockback and other huge damage attacks that are liable to waste the duration (and you probably have plenty of gear that augments your basic attack without helping Dreadwind at all), but, in PvP, it’s good for taking out enemy players since it covers such a large area all around him that it’s hard to dodge.[/details]
[details=Level 1: Slowing Strike v. Concussive Smash v. Waveform Smash]
Recommendation: (PvP) Slowing Strike or Waveform Smash; (PvE) Waveform Smash
Slowing Strike is better for PvP because it allows you to use your only real ranged attack to slow down opponents: used on a runner or as an opening attack, it allows you to prevent their escape.
Waveform Smash reduces the range of Catalytic smash by 33-50% but triples the width, allowing you to hit more targets in close proximity. In PvP, this makes it better at wave clearing as well as making it harder for players to avoid its nastiness. The loss of range isn’t too bad because Rath is a melee character.
Concussive Smash sounds like an awesome idea except that it is contingent on hitting with both of your skills quickly in succession but in the wrong order. Catalytic Smash knocks enemies up and allows you to reposition so that you can use Crossblade to get as many of them as possible. Concussive Smash wants you to do it the other way around. In PvP, this could be more viable but having a slow on Crossblade or a significantly larger area on Catalytic Smash is way more useful.[/details]
[details=Level 2: Shield Syphon v. Eviscerating Blade v. Anger’s Echo]
Recommendation: Anger’s Echo
Shield Syphon is pretty worthless because it’s contingent upon your opponent having a shield while Rath does not, which tends not to happen. Eviscerating Blade is worthless because it provides shield penetration, which is worthless. Anger’s Echo can be seen as a 50% increase in damage (since a target can get hit by both blades) as well as a second chance to hit a target with Crossblade.[/details]
[details=Level 3: Terror from Above v. Spin to Win]
Recommendation: Spin to Win
TfA’s double jump just doesn’t do that much for a melee character since being out of range of an opponent also means that they’re out of your range. It doesn’t help that TfA is competing with a powerful augment to Rath’s main source of damage: his basic attack. StW adds an additional spin to the end of Rath’s primary attack combo, increasing the time it takes but adding to the damage. The increased damage is proportionately more than the increased time, so it ends up being a ~15% increase to Rath’s basic attack DPS (against a single target; since the additional attack is 360*, just like the normal combo finisher, it’s much more powerful when he’s swarmed).[/details]
[details=Level 4: Crimson Fastness v. Catalytic Flash]
Recommendation: (PvP) Catalytic Flash; (PvE) Any
In PvP, the silence on Catalytic Smash provided by CF is one of the things that makes Rath dangerous: the knock up will interrupt attacks and movement and the silence will turn off or cancel special attacks while also denying many characters the chance to use escape skills.
In PvE, the question really becomes whether you want Rath to start jumping forward before using Catalytic Smash. Silence is effectively useless against NPCs so Catalytic Flash does nothing but, if you don’t want Rath to start leaping forward when you’re trying to set up an attack, CF is better. It comes down to personal preference.[/details]
[details=Level 5: Skillful Syphoning v. Swordsman’s Salve v. Not a Vampire]
First things first, unlike most percentage improvements listed in game, the listed increases to life steal provided by these helices are actually added to the life steal he gets from Genetic Syphon, not multiplied. As such, they are extremely noticeable and very useful. Which one you pick is governed primarily by how you plan on playing him.
Swordsman’s Salve increases the life steal on your melee attacks to a whopping 30% but reduces your life steal from skills to 0%. Crossblade and Catalytic Smash activate quickly so losing out on the life steal from them isn’t a big deal since you’ll be able to resume wailing on your enemies with your basic attack in less than a second (and, with Catalytic Smash, they won’t be attacking you for a bit because they’re flailing around in the air and on the ground). The bigger concern here is Dreadwind: because of the wind up and 3 second duration, you’re basically incapable of self healing for 4 secs, which can be pretty dangerous. If you take this helix, Dreadwind should only be used if you’re not in a dangerous situation.
If you still want to be able to use Dreadwind without worrying about dying, Skillful Syphoning and Not a Vampire are still good options. Skillful Syphoning will basically make it impossible to die when using Dreadwind (and allow you to use your skills as powerful controlled self healing) while Not a Vampire is more about just improving your standard life steal. If you want more constant life steal, take Not a Vampire; if you want more bursty/controllable life steal, go with Skillful Syphoning.[/details]
[details=Level 6: Brutal Blade v. Catastrophic Smash]
More damage on Crossblade or a longer range Catalytic Smash. Simple helices means it’s a pretty simple choice. It’s up to you and your preferred playstyle.[/details]
[details=Level 7: Evasive Maneuvers v. Spin to Slow v. To the Point]
Recommendation: (PvP) Any; (PvE) To the Point
Here the question becomes what you need more of: survivability/mobility, control, or damage. In PvE, damage is king, though keep in mind that TtP only augments his basic attacks (i.e. non-skills) are considered “melee strikes” (the others are classified as “skills”). EM will help you get away when you’re attacked or, if you’re in a fight, it’ll help you stick to an enemy (or close the gap with a ranged attacker). StS will help you keep an enemy from escaping once you’ve engaged, especially since Rath’s attack speed is easily fast enough to do his entire combo in less than a second (meaning you can perma-slow someone).[/details]
[details=Level 8: Energetic Projection v. Quick Cross]
If you find yourself regularly coming up short with Crossblade, EP is obvious; if you find yourself always wanting it a couple seconds earlier, Quick Cross.[/details]
[details=Level 9: Softened Target v. Zealous Smash]
This really comes down to how often you use Dreadwind. If you don’t use Dreadwind often, Zealous Smash is a waste. If you do, it’s amazing. Keep in mind, you have to use Catalytic Smash for killing blows to trigger Zealous Smash, and Catalytic Smash is your lowest damage attack. As such, you need to weaken enemies first and you’re still only liable to get the killing blows on minions.[/details]
[details=Level 10: Dreadheart v. Unstoppable Assault v. Desperate Assault]
Dreadheart will allow you to keep up with enemies trying to escape and move on to additional targets after you kill them (which will happen a lot). If you often find yourself spinning with nothing to win against when you use Dreadwind, Dreadheart is the way to go. If you find yourself dying before Dreadwind resolves, Unstoppable Assault is the way to go: 225 overshield might not seem like much, but it can make the difference. If you just wanna skill stuff better, Desperate Assault is amazing: activate it while your shield is broken and your Dreadwind will be even crazier. Conversely, you can either step into some damage patch or just expect to get hit and your damage will suddently skyrocket. Either way, incredible damage.[/details]
Rath is all about killing stuff. Offensive stats make him tougher to kill thanks to his native life steal but life steal doesn’t really do you much good if you 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>Skill Damage>Critical Damage>Cooldown>Shield Pen>Recoil=Reload)
Attack Damage is the most important stat for Rath since a majority of his damage is from his basic attack. If you want to go for a Skill Damage build (e.g. Dreadwind focused) for PvP, you can ignore Attack Damage, but you won’t have particularly impressive damage normally.
Attack Speed is second to Attack Damage only because it has lower values.
Skill Damage is the only way to make Dreadwind stronger, and Dreadwind is powerful.
Critical Damage is low priority because Rath isn’t stellar at scoring crits with his basic attack (he has a wide swing that will often hit the side of a target rather than their actual crit location if you’re too close) and his skills aren’t capable of scoring crits.
Cooldown means more skill uses, but the values are so low (and you tend to hold on to skills rather than using them right when they come back) so it’s not really a huge improvement to your damage.
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 him.[/details]
(Damage Reduction=Max Health>Max Shield>Health Regen=Healing Received>Shield Recharge=Shield Regen<CC Duration)
Rath doesn’t have a lot of hp/shield but he’s got the best life steal in the entire game. While he doesn’t have the raw hp/shield required to make DR outright better than max health, max health is only going to be better over a short exchange. Especially after level 5, when his life steal gets improved, the longer a fight gets, the better DR gets since it means his life steal is acting upon smaller amounts of incoming damage.
Max shield is worse than max health more than it usually is: Rath tends to stay in combat for long periods and, as such, has few opportunities to recharge his shield while he’ll be constantly recharging his hp via life steal.
Health Regen and Healing Received are extremely low value because Rath already has loads of natural health recovery due to his life steal. The only real advantage these stats have compared to what he brings already is that it is out-of-combat recovery.
Shield Recharge and Shield Regen are low value because Rath tends to stay in combat for long periods of time. He’s small enough and deals enough damage to everything near him that he’s liable to avoid taking damage for long enough for his shield to recharge, so it’s not worthless, but it’s definitely not as valuable as everything else (especially since his lifesteal is generally going to be more than what you can get his shield regen up to).
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>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=Gloves (attack damage)]
Pacifier (algorithm), Symbiotic Gauntlet (sentinel), Vow of Vengeance (renegade), Lenore’s Lament (jennerit)
Pacifier makes it harder to break your shield and makes your life steal more valuable since it’s acting on less incoming damage. Symbiotic Gauntlet syncs well with Rath’s life steal since he’s able to keep himself at max hp pretty easily. 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. VoV is better than SG mainly because your damage won’t drop when you take damage, which is liable to happen.
Lenore’s Lament gets special mention. It’s not really stellar for Rath because, while he does like attack damage and can be built for skill damage, he really doesn’t need the life steal: he brings plenty of it on his own. Furthermore, the life steal on Lenore’s Lament only applies to non-Jennerit and only to health damage dealt so it’s both weak and largely redundant.[/details]
[details=Swords (attack speed)]
Vow of Zealous Fury (heliophage), Stolen Edge of Arcvynorr (sentinel), Culling Spike (jennerit)
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. Culling Spike is also worth mentioning since it brings attack damage along with the attack speed and augments your Jennerit allies a bit. The total attack speed provided makes it inferior to VoZF imo but it’s a legitimate choice.[/details]
Borrowed Timer (upr)
Borrowed Timer can be powerful in PvP if you build for skill damage and lifesteal. Being able to activate Dreadwind as soon as you drop to critical hp levels can be an incredible boon. Of course, the secondary stat is trash and Rath doesn’t have a whole lot of hp so the 10% window is rather small. If you’re going to go with this, it needs to be part of a loadout built around it.
I’ll mention a few others purely to caution people against using them since I can see the gears turning in some minds. Chrono Key was a popular option early on but, post nerf, I would never recommend it. Cooldown is useful, but the secondary stat is useless (heal power doesn’t affect life steal) and the legendary effect requires an obscene amount of damage dealt to see any returns. Even if you’re chewing through enemies, you’re not going to see enough to really make it worthwhile. Firmware Update has similar problems: low value secondary stat and Rath’s abilities have CDs that are too high to really make much use out of the legendary effect (for Firmware Update, you want at least 1 skill with a low CD that you will spam as much as you can). Aria’s Encore is another trap, mainly because it’s only good in ops, where basic attacks are way better, since that’s the only time you’ve got Ops Points to fuel the legendary effect.[/details]
[details=Goggles (critical damage)]
Heliophagic Goggles (heliophage)
If you can manage to get crits reliably as Rath, this is worth it. 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), “Alamo-7” Armor (algorithm)
Blissbeast is one of the best pure survivability tools in the game. It gives a lot of DR and, while health regen isn’t amazing for Rath, it’s not useless. Furthermore, because Rath doesn’t have a lot of hp, the legendary effect of the BSP will be triggered plenty often, without being problematic because you’re recovering from the damage through lifesteal too. Alamo-7 Armor has a worthless secondary stat and, although the cooldown time on the legendary effect is extremely long, it is extremely powerful (2 seconds of total immunity); combine this with the Borrowed Timer for excellent emergency recovery (since you’ll be immune when your skills recharge, for a very safe surprise Dreadwind).[/details]
[details=Injectors (health regen)]
Oath of the Sustained (renegade)
An excellent utility 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 Rath’s DPS as well as his existing life steal, this is more about helping your team rather than helping out yourself.[/details]
[details=Armor (max hp)]
Vigilance Link (sentinel), Vampiric Vestment (jennerit), Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter (upr)
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. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend VV for PvP, but Rath can be pretty durable and a damned good killer so it can be quite effective. Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter has both of Rath’s best survivability stats and, as a character with extreme damage recovery, he’s liable to ratchet up those additional hp very easily, especially while clearing out minions.[/details]
[details=Batteries (max shield)]
One-4-All Shield Array (experiment), 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. One-4-All Shield Array 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. Voxis Core is a requisite for a skill damage build, since the legendary effect is basically a 15% increase in damage if there’s more than 1 enemy nearby. If you dive into a big melee and use Dreadwind with a Voxis Core, you can be use someone will be cursing and screaming about Rath being OP (especially if you get multiple player kills with it).[/details]
[details=Boots (move speed)]
Boots of the Brute (saboteur)
I wouldn’t use them 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.[/details]
[details=Capacitor (shield recharge)]
Doomsday Key (heliophage)
The only shield recharge item I’d recommend because of the incredibly powerful legendary effect that’s liable to happen pretty often if you can get your shield to recharge. Skill Damage is somewhat less valuable if you’re building for attack speed (since attack speed is for a basic attack build and skill damage is for a Dreadwind build), but it’s a possibility.[/details]
[details=Pins (skill damage)]
Bola’s Target Finder (experiment), Codex Fragment (archive)
Bola’s Target Finder is awesome, especially since it means enemies take more damage after you toss them in the air with Catalytic Smash. If you’re building for a Dreadwind assassin build, Codex Fragment is liable to be better, however. The hp will keep you alive while Dreadwinding and, unlike most characters, Rath will be fine taking damage to build up the skill damage from Codex Fragment (the stacks fade after 5-6 seconds if you don’t keep taking damage, which Rath can actually manage). It’ll provide more total damage to Dreadwind than Bola’s will, which is why I recommend it for that purpose alone.[/details]
[details=Drinks (sprint speed)]
Improved Genetic Syphon (lore)
In general, these legendaries are gimmicks. The lore leg gives you a useful attack stat and improves life steal, so it is actually quite good.[/details]
Improved Genetic Syphon, Vow of Vengeance, Vow of Zealous Fury
A crapton of additional damage and beefed up life steal. Perfect for a basic attack driven slaughterfest.[/details]
[details=Pure Damage PvE]
Bola’s Target Finder, Vow of Vengeance, Vow of Zealous Fury
If you don’t feel like beefing up your life steal and just want to crank out the damage even more (which, admittedly, will increase your life steal), this can work wonders: Bola’s provides more attack speed than the lore leg, too, and the extra 5% after hitting with a skill is pretty noticeable, especially with a team.[/details]
[details=Pure Survivability PvE]
Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter, Pacifier, Blissbeast Skull Plate
Pacifier increases damage dealt and gives you shield; the main advantage is the legendary effect which reduces the damage of enemies hit by 10%. Pain-2-Gain gives you a lot of hp and DR, as does Blissbeast Skull Plate. You probably won’t be topping the damage charts for the group, but I’m pretty sure you won’t be dying any time soon (or even requiring outside healing, honestly).[/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 him) 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=Skill Damage PvP]
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power) or Erratic Shard Extractor (-reload), Bola’s Target Finder or Codex Fragment, Voxis Core
Free shard gen with a stat that doesn’t affect you, like always. Voxis Core is simply amazing and Bola’s or Codex Fragment, to taste. Bola’s is my preference because it also means that you’re better at setting up kills for your allies, but many Dreadwind assassins tend to prefer to kill on their own.[/details]
[details=Table Turner PvP]
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power) or Erratic Shard Extractor (-reload), Borrowed Timer, “Alamo-7” Armor
Free shard gen allows you to afford the other 2 legendaries, which give you 2 seconds of invulnerability (once every 2 minutes) and instant skill recharge (once every 30 seconds) whenever you’re reduced to less than 10% hp. The point is to open with skills and surprise them with a Dreadwind immediately after you just used it to guarantee the kill (and recover from near death). If you really want to go nuts with it, you might consider replacing the shard gen with a Codex Fragment: the additional hp makes it a bit safer and the additional damage makes it way more dangerous. It’ll be incredibly expensive, however, so you’ll be spending a lot of time hunting down shards. You won’t be contributing much until late game, but your enemies will be raging so hard when you turn the tables.[/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) 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]