As I find myself in the middle of my journey through each of TPS’s Vault Hunters, I’ve encountered some of the setbacks with Clap in UVHM I experienced with Athena (terrible survivability plus subpar damage). In this case, however, I knew why: I refused to play him in a more orthodox way.
This requires a brief explanation, for the sake of clarity.
I dislike Torgue weaponry overall; I dislike Tediore weapons even more (you could call me a “hater”); and I’m one of the few people who actually likes slag more than cryo. Hence, I knew going in that getting something approaching potency out of our high-fivin’, fast-talkin’ fount of wit and wisdom would be a challenge.
My first intuition was to try to sneak 'splosions in through the back door, so to speak. Max out CC, LnS, SWAB, and OLS for the occasional synthesis of powerful explosions incidental to non-explosive weaponry, while trying to wield weapons with grenade splash - which I believe can be boosted with the Chronicler’s 9/5 in Grenade Vent and a Bomber Oz Kit.
That may or may not have been a silly line of thought, but it was the line I sketched around Torgues and Tediores. Without doing any math (not that I could), I assumed that getting raw bullet damage + heavily boosted grenade splash + RNG 'splosions about a third of the time would result in a decent surrogate for the simpler path of using Torgues and Tediores and Two Scoops and the like.
Based on my reading here, though, there aren’t many weapons that deal grenade splash. Mostly it’s gun splash, which, according to Demonite’s Splash Damage outline, is not boosted by grenade damage.
That led me to try to build around the Magma, the Hellfire, some Maliwan pistols, Hails, etc…
The Hellfire and Magma were purest garbage, easily outperformed by a fire Torrent and Snider. Using a Longbow Cryo didn’t really help either. I kept feeling myself being shoved back into Torgue’s blustery world of booms. I’d try a Fragnum and think, “Now that’s what I’m looking for;” but also: “Man alive, I despise this weapon.” Same for the Ravager, Flakker, and the like.
So I had to rethink things. I was dying lots, and killing not lots. Either my intuitive fuzzy math was off or my understanding of what boosted what was mistaken, or both.
Regardless, it appeared to me that the bigger problem was that I was building my Clappy in a contradictory way, using a Chronicler COM due to being wedded to the Grenade Vent boost and Cryo as a solid foundation for DPS, yet trying, at the same time, to cobble together something like an “elemental” build with more potential for variety.
I then switched to the Eridian COM and spec’d out of certain inconsistent damage boosts (like CC), leaning into more reliable skills like Klllbot, Drop the Hammer, and Death Machine. The new idea was to revolve all of this around the Eridian COM’s boost to ML, granting both extra damage (more elemental procs) and survivability (more healing).
So far it’s working much better than my crypto-Torgue build, but I’m still wondering about a few things I haven’t been able to get clear on by studying the forum posts.
Before I get to that, here’s what I’ve been running with:
COM: Eridian Vanquisher
Grenade: Longbow Quasar
Oz Kit: Eddie
(I tried to run with other shields and other Oz Kits, but whatever I gained from them in other areas I lost in survivability, to a degree that was unsustainable. I generally try not to use the Eddie in my builds, as it becomes something of a crutch, but with Clappy I had to make an exception. I can’t do without it, at least for now.)
Pistols: Hard Reboot/Luck Cannon/Maggie
Lasers: Absolute Zero
As noted, it’s working fairly well. The Quasar is a monster grenade which, like the Eddie for Oz Kits, I can’t seem to shake. I always end up returning to it no matter who I’m playing with. It doesn’t generate stacks like the Storm Front, true. On the flip side, I find it hard to deal with the way the SF flies off everywhere in zero gravity.
In any case, with ML boosted to 9/5, the Quasar does more than fine.
Now, I understand I’m not min-maxing my Fragster here, nor am I doing anything original. I would like to “optimize” the kind of build I’m going for, namely, elemental with an emphasis on variety and an extreme aversion to Torgue and Tediore weaponry.
My number one concern is CC. I read the post here at the Forums about CC, how it works, and what kind of damage to expect from it, but (to lay my cognitive cards on the table) I did not understand it. Furthermore, on the Claptrap skills evaluation page, the section on CC must involve a misprint, as it seems to be at odds with itself:
“This is great for elemental weaponry, but it won’t do anything for explosive weaponry like what Torgue sells. I like Torgue so I don’t generally use this. It does work great with cryo weapons and none-elemental ones that have high base damage. It doesn’t work very well with elemental weapons due to their lower base damage.”
A little confusing: it’s great for elemental weaponry but also doesn’t work very well with elemental weapons. This matters for what I’m going for here, so it’s important for me to get clear on this point. My assumption has been that the last part - CC doesn’t work very well with elementals due to lower base damage - is closer to the truth, because it simply makes sense. Therefore, I spec’d out of it in favor of boosting my Quasars with Grenade Vent.
Is CC worth it in a set-up such as mine?
You’ll also notice I put one point into CEM. That’s there because I didn’t know what else to do with it, plus I saw that Demonite did it in his Deputy Claptrap build. I still wonder, though, if I’d get more out of a second point in SWAB, which I didn’t max out because I strongly suspected that my supercharging of it with the Celestial COM was responsible for a lot of my survivability issues. 5/5 seemed like plenty to me.
Perhaps not? I’ve certainly survived better - considerably better - since lowering the volume on SWAB, but that could be mere correlation. The actual cause of my increased tankiness might be the ML boost in the Eridian COM, and switching from a Cryo grenade to a Quasar. It’s hard to tell these things in general mobbing, so I’d at least like a perspective on what should hold in theory.
Lastly, though I’m not terribly impressed by Wax On, Wax Off, I put 4 points there for a modest but always-on boost (as opposed to the situational BB4L) as a way to get to HFG, which I take for healing in between combat encounters and damage boosting (somewhat like Wilhelm’s Overcharge) just before jumping into a fight. I gathered that would be more valuable to me than whatever I’d gain from BB4L.
There is the possibility, nonetheless, that all five of those points combined (in WOWO and HFG) are a terrible waste when they could all be spent maxing out CC. There’s an opportunity cost there; I just don’t know how to estimate it.
Am I making a mistake, in an elemental/variety “build,” by passing on CC in favor of Grenade Vent?
Would an extra point in SWAB (6/5 instead of 5/5) be better spent than a single point in CEM?
Are five points total in Wax On, Wax Off and High Five Guys better spent in CC?
Naturally, I could just experiment with all of this, and I have to some extent. The differences aren’t large enough to provide obvious answers one way or another. Add to that the fact that I’m not sure, often enough, if I’m getting downed because I’m playing poorly or because of something I’ve short-changed in my build, and I find myself driven here to the Forums yet again - asking what theory says should hold good and true.
If you’d like to recommend anything outside of my “build,” feel free. I’m open to (almost) everything.