Suggestions for my Wilhelm?

First thing I want to say is the following. Though it may not matter much given that five people still play TPS, Wilhelm is criminally underrated. I know this because my extensive reading before running him through UVHM with good weapons and a thoughtful build led me to believe I would struggle most with him among all the VHs. “He lacks damage,” “He doesn’t do anything very well,” “He’s just average,” etc. While I understand that the strict math may confirm such judgments, it isn’t usually made clear that by “average” or “not excelling anywhere” one means “He isn’t doing insane overkill damage, like Nisha et al., which 99.9% of the time isn’t needed anyway.”

In other words, the more accurate statement, i.e., one that would give newbies a better representation of what Wilhelm is capable of, would be something like this: “He is consistently very powerful, just not completely OP or broken.”

I have been so pleasantly surprised by his consistent output of damage plus his wonderful survivability that I’m almost ready to say he’s the most fun I’ve had in UVHM. I struggled mightily with Athena - as is known here, given my post in her section - but I also had some issues with Nisha and Aurelia in finding a balance between DPS and survival. Not until I studied the lengthy debates between charrisx and Chuck (and others) was I able to get my Nisha really cooking with gas.

All of which is to say, I’m enjoying Wilhelm so much that I would like to optimize my build a bit more, if possible. My main inspiration for it was HandsomeDad’s Wild Billhelm build. I’m not sure why he chose to make that build, but it was serendipitous for me since my personal preferences cut against Tediore chucking and cryo-reliance. Perhaps it was something similar for him. Regardless, I wanted something more along the lines of a straight “gun build” for Wilhelm, and HandsomeDad provided a great template for that.

However, I did vary it up a bit due to my nervousness about passing up on certain skills he left in the dust. I wonder if my choices make sense:

The biggest issues, clearly, are that I didn’t feel comfortable not taking ER, Heatsinks, and Omega Strike. This led me to not max out Divert Power, WTTGS, Energize, and to skip Zero Hour.

Like HD, I’m running with a CE com. I had the sense that if I ran with a Cracked Sash instead of his preferred shield(s) I could basically spam ER while picking up the nice 1 point benefit in DP when things got too DOT’y. Given other similar buffs, though, I figured 4 points was enough in the former, allowing me to put the needed 1 point in the latter.

I realize, of course, that the Cracked Sash would seem to make Heatsinks redundant. It might. I took it because of the delay reduction, small as it might be. I wanted it to be as close to a combination of the Naught’s delay and the Sash’s instant recharge as possible. The gain, needless to say, might be too trivial to justify the 5 points I’ve put into Heatsinks. (Plus, I wanted the points in Heatsinks for if/when I switched to other shields.)

I also didn’t want to miss out on the killing potential of Wolf by not adding OS to RT, sacrificing a bit of survivability by moving that point from ZH.

One thing I’ve noticed is that with this Cracked Sash-style of play, combat with Wilhelm feels almost exactly like Hellborn Krieg with a Rough Rider. It seems like he’s always on fire or corroding or getting electrocuted. And due to the special properties of the shield combined with Wilhelm’s defensive skills, like Krieg, I very rarely go down.

Frankly, I don’t notice anything missing. The DPS is perfectly sufficient. He melts through Badasses with a Flayer. He’s lethal with a Muckamuck from afar. The Absolute Zero provides cryo in a pinch, and the Meat Grinder or Maggie or Iron or Anarchist (whatever I feel like) cleans up trashier enemies. I’m still in disbelief at how powerful he can be, even with a build he wasn’t necessarily made for.

It does worry me, though, that he takes so much elemental damage. I always seem to have a DOT on me. It could be that I’m playing too recklessly. Nearly always when Saint is up I can power through the DOTs, but I’d still, ideally, like to reduce their menace as much as possible. Maybe I already am. Hard to say.

In essence, I’m wondering if I’m wasting defensive skill points and should reallocate them to, say, HCU and Hard to Kill, or something along those lines.

Any suggestions or knowledge you might have to pass on would be, as always, greatly appreciated.

EDIT: I noticed that Hoyle said in his Top Gear post that Divert Power is generally a waste when using Tediores like the Cracked Sash, but I’m failing to understand why. I’m guessing there’s some nuance about the way the skil works or activates that I’m failing to grasp. With a Cracked Sash my shield and my health are constantly getting oblterated, and I put the one point there not for the regenerations (as with Heatsinks) but for the other buff, in this case the damage resistance, which I figure helps me survive those DOTs I mentioned above.

Am I wrong about this?

EDIT 2: Sorry to carry on, but I have another issue that just popped up. I don’t have difficulty with the bosses in themselves, but with some of them, like Redbelly and especially Felicity, the bullet reflection is KILLING me. I don’t really know how to get around it, since I’m somewhat new to this game. My question is: if I equip a 94 Sham, will it absord my own bullets if they’re reflected back at me? If not, what the hell do I do to work around the bullet reflection of these bosses?

About edit 1.
If I understand correctly, @Hoyle4 ‘s suggestion about Divert Power being “wasted” on low capacity shields references the %-based refill which procs together with the skill.
Basically, Tediore purple shields’ best traits are the low delay and the high recharge speed, and with Divert Power you bypass them both, thus only caring for capacity.
However, as long as this build works fine for you, I see no reason to tell you to change it. Min-maxing threads, after all, are advice, not rules set in stone.

Fair enough. I just wanted to check with people who Know Things to make sure I’m not doing anything objectively stupid. Hoyle has some interesting takes on Wilhelm’s skills that make me second guess some of my choices (he doesn’t think WTTGS is necessary).

I’m still curious about how people deal with the bullet reflection issue. Usually I just muscle through it, go into FFYL a few times, and limp to victory. That can’t be the best way to go about it. On the other hand, though I’m not against using a Sham if it works, I can’t believe they’d make it so that you need a particularly rare legendary shield (well, that or the Bulwark if you use lasers) to avoid getting nixed by your own projectiles.

It’s been quite a while for me … Wow.
But yes, reflection can be absorbed by a shield. Or you could go with guns that cannot be reflected. The Absolute Zero is such a gun, iirc, and it’s very strong, esp when running the CoE com.

Omega strime does not add that much damage to wolf. RT does not boost it, iirc. So one point to RT buffed by the com should suffice for your support needs and keep Wolf alive long enough for all mobbing scenarios when laser targeting properly.

Edit: HCS should be enough to keep you up, more so when buffed by the com.

Also, it might feel clunky at first but Shock Absorbers give 20% gun dmg on a class that needs it, gives increased accuracy and nullifies backpedaling of mobs.


Ok, I’ll try running without OS for a little and see if I miss it. I do enjoy Wolf getting kills on his own, but I have no idea how much of that is attributable to OS.

And while you’re here: I haven’t been able to find a list of things that aren’t subject to reflection, which tells me it’s just one or two whole classes of things. Does no-reflection hold for all lasers, or just some? Are there any guns that, for some reason, don’t get reflected (maybe pure spash Torgues)?

I love the AZ on Wilhelm, though I’m ‘meh’ on lasers (just not all that aesthetically pleasing to me, unfortunately), so I only use it as a backup. 'Tis my favorite laser, though. Is a Cryo laser like that even viable on, say, Felicity? Or I should say, is it viable without a CoE?

I don’t run the CoE on Wilhelm for the same reason I don’t run it on Nisha - not because it sucks, but because I’m not feeling the cryo-loop, so to speak, in combat.

I guess I’m about six years late to the party here. There hasn’t been anything in the Wilhelm section for ages.

There are other absorb shields in the game beside the Sham, so plenty of choices. Or as was also suggested above, use splash weapons. With Redbelly in particular the key is to realise that only the shiny bits actually reflect the bullets; you can hit them in their unprotected bits.

From memory with Felicity it’s just the orange shield - same as on Constructors in BL2 and crops up in a couple of other places. Again, there are ways around it. With Felicity you need to target the Surveyors while that phase is active.

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Got it. I’ll adjust accordingly. Still kind of new to this game.

There are certain conventions that have come in to the series with the different releases. Bullet reflection off shiny metal or orange shields is one; the different colour bars another eg blue = shield, vulnerable to shock, yellow = armour, vulnerable to corrosive, etc. After a while, it becomes second nature. You’ll find plenty of background info in the various pinned threads and guides in each section.

Maybe you can help me out with one more bit of info that’s always been a mystery to me. Why are adaptive shields useful? I have never had a good experience with them, as the whole gimmick just seems pointless to me.

What do I care if you resist 50% (or whatever) of the second fire DOT I get? It’s nearly always the first one that’s the problem.

I ask because I see everyone hyping up adaptive shields for Wilhelm. I tried one out and immediately started going down. I tried the Haymaker with similar results.

Seriously, it would be enough for me to just notice the adaptive effect from time to time. (I get that it’s hard to notice, so I suppose I mean “notice” in the sense of “getting downed by DOTs much less frequently.” It just doesn’t happen.)

Speaking of which: I gather you’re not a Wilhelm stan by any means, but I’d like to Hazmat works like an adaptive shield. The way it’s worded makes it sound it like reduces damages from the initial status effect. If it actually only works after that one (on the same element) I am going to spec out of it entirely and just put more points into Energize or something. That’ll at least buff my health regen.

Not really my field of expertise. According to the skill guide evaluation here:

it looks like the skill will indeed function as an adaptive shield and reduce the damage from any status effect (reduces DoT ticks).

One thing to note with this is that elemental rounds have two effects: the initial elemental damage (fire etc) and the secondary status effect (incendiary etc). You can have shields which resist or grant immunity to the first but not the second and vice versa. IOW the specific wording is very important. It’s also worth noting here that different elements have different duration status effect DoTs - shock is the shortest, corrosive the longest.

The other thing is that shields will either grant the effect always, or only when full - again, the specific item card wording matters. The best thing to do would be to consult something like the Borderlands wiki for a specific item (although that’s not guaranteed to be correct, so do test and verify).

Last observation: the list excludes cryo damage, so that’s a thing to watch out for in testing especially since you can get a cryo status affect from sources other than weapons.

Pinging @johnrr6 to see if he remembers anything useful on this topic.

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Thanks for taking the time to reply. It’s appreciated, good sir.