The Perfect Storm- A Maelstrom Stacking Method

The purpose of this topic is to explain a method for generating high stacks of Maelstrom primarily using Hyperion elemental shotguns. As with any perfect storm there needs to be a combination of events that take place (active skills) while certain conditions have to be met (gear choice). This is by no means the only effective method to build Maelstrom stacks but I do think it is unique because it is mainly gun based.

##The Perfect Storm- A Maelstrom stacking method

###Boss Build with Raging/Surging Storm (Storm Weaving and Unrelenting)
###Mob Build with Raging/Surging Storm

###Key Gear:

Class Mod: Raging/Surging Storm (Storm Weaving/Unrelenting) or Raging/Surging Storm (for a sample comparison in fire rate performance between blue and purple Raging Storm class mods see this post)

Oz Kit: Voltaic Strafing Run +Fire Rate and Reload Speed boost while airborne


Slot 1: The Stacker ( Shock ) Single barreled shotgun with vertical grip accessory for higher fire rate and pellet count

Slot 2: The Closer ( Shock or Incendiary ) Multi-barreled shotgun with higher pellet count

Slot 3: The Flash Freezer (Cryo) Just put your preferred Cryo weapon here

Slot 4: Any other preferred elemental weapon ( Explosive/Corrosive/Shock/Incendiary)

The ideal Stacker is a Shock elemental single-barrel shotgun with the accessory that boosts both pellet count and fire rate. The best weapon in the game at generating Maelstrom stacks is the Practicable Thinking shotgun bar none. It has three key elements that make it effective: 1) Ammo efficient (1 round per shot) allowing longer periods of stack building before having to reload; 2) It fires multiple projectiles per shot with each projectile and DoT generating Maelstrom stacks; and 3) It maintains high stability and accuracy at very high rates of fire.

Now The Closer is what I call either a Shock or Incendiary elemental shotgun that you can swap to after a kill. You will have three key skills active at this point that combine to produce the massive surge in Maelstrom: Storm Weaving+Elemental Barrage+Unrelenting. This is the skill combination that you are working towards and trying to set up at every opportunity for The Closer. My recommendation is a 2-, 3-, or 4-barreled Hyperion shotgun because of their stability and precision with high fire rate. Weapon accessory matters less here than it does for stacking but it should be obvious that the more projectiles fired per shot the faster Maelstrom stacks will accumulate while Storm Weaving, Elemental Barrage, and Unrelenting are active. Central to this is gaining free shots via Elemental Barrage. Without this skill active, max stacks would not be possible as you would be constantly reloading due to the extreme rate of fire that Athena can generate.

  • At 300 stacks with 5/5 Elemental Barrage you will have a 60% chance to not consume ammo
  • At 400 stacks with 5/5 Elemental Barrage you will have a 70% chance to not consume ammo
  • At 500 stacks with 5/5 Elemental Barrage you will have a 80% chance to not consume ammo

300-500 Maelstrom stacks is good range to begin testing your luck to see how many free shots you can get with your Closer. Obviously the more stacks you have built up, the more likely it is that you can use the Closer without have to reload, only having to swap once Storm Weaving is out of time. Getting a kill and having Unrelenting active makes the quick swap to the Closer even better at this point as you can take advantage of the fire rate boost and see a massive surge in Maelstrom stacks. Just make sure that you are always aware of your stacks and do not swap to the Closer too soon (<300 stacks). If you begin using The Closer early, your rhythm will likely be broken as you are generally forced to reload more frequently. It all depends on your luck with Elemental Barrage.

Now The Flash Freezer makes things interesting. Not only is Cryo a great element to use to increase Critical Hit Damage but with the addition of Flash Freeze, it can stop a potential negative swing in momentum.

Wait, wait wait! Flash Freeze?!?! Yep. This guy! This guy right here! Flash Freeze is a great utility skill when it comes to building and maintaining Maelstrom stacks. If you base your DPS on high Maelstrom stacks, take another look at this skill. If you like to hang around the 100-250 range, it’s probably not going to be on the top of your priority list because you’re probably more reliant on Tear and Omega-Senshu for burst DPS and quick stopping power.

But Flash Freeze’s utility shines in two ways. First, it allows you to use Corrosive, Explosive, and Cryo weapons without penalty of losing Maelstrom stacks at the same time. Second, and arguably more important, it can be used at crucial stages in the stack building process to stop the bleed out of Maelstrom. What I’ve realized is that there are these small climbs that you need to overcome on the way to the Maelstrom mountaintop. It requires overcoming fire rate breakpoints and/or the rapid decay rate of Maelstrom stacks (for a closer look at overcoming fire rate breakpoints see this post). Flash Freeze can give you time to reload and recover your rhythm without bleeding out Maelstrom and starting up again.

The optimal number of points for Flash Freeze is largely dependent on your build, gear, and playstyle so don’t be afraid to experiment with it. During my earlier experience with it I thought that two seconds was plenty of time and that anything approaching five seconds was unmanageable. Well, for my playstyle, I was wrong. Five seconds is quite manageable and closer to my ideal length of time (I haven’t experimented with longer Flash Freeze but plan to). If you think about the time that it takes to reload a weapon and/or swap to activate Storm Weaving it’s probably right around five seconds. It works very well with freeze-and-swap tactics to abuse Cryo’s massive damage bonus to critical hits, melee, or EXPLOSIONS. It also works quite well with fighting armored enemies and you want to dust off that Corrosive weapon in your backpack. Stack, freeze, swap, finish. Repeat.

Keep in mind that the core driving force to maximizing Maelstrom with this method are the two skills in the Storm class mod, Storm Weaving and Unrelenting. Maelstrom gets a lot of well-deserved attention and praise for being a 1-point wonder DPS buff. But the real engine behind it all is Storm Weaving. Weapon swapping is where the magic happens. Central to it is the massive bonus to fire rate, elemental effect chance, and reduced ammo usage via Elemental Barrage. This combination can quickly generate stacks to a high enough level and is the set-up for Unrelenting to turn you into the complete force of nature that Ceraunic Storm can create.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your experience and strategies. Happy stacking.


This is super cool, dp! Athena is probably going to be the next character I start – I’m eager to give this build a spin. :smiley:

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Thanks @LucyDaniels. There are so many ways to play Athena and she’s so balanced I think you’ll really enjoy her play style. Hope to see you online soon.


When I get to my PC I’ll update the resource guide with this three.

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OMG, Flash Freeze got the love it deserve!
Also, nice thread. Good job

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@Derch Thanks for adding that in.

@l_gabrielcruz Yeah, Flash Freeze is one of those skills that started getting more and more of my respect especially since UVHM released and I’m always using Cryo. I’d only been running 2 or 3 points in it and then I looked at my build and decided there was no reason why I couldn’t make it 5/5 and see what happens. I realized that I generally make full use of the time. Cryo+Explosive/Corrosive is one of my main pairings in the Holodome so I realized that 2 seconds was enough for me to freeze and swap to explosive/corrosive weapon but more time allowed me to use those weapons without Maelstrom decaying. Then I could go back to stacking.

It’s a pretty interesting mechanic and it’s this interaction of skills in Ceraunic Storm that I love so much. It’s definitely engaging and you really have to manage a lot of variables but I enjoy the challenge. Turns out to be really effective too.


I’ve been using it with my CoE build I’m working on as well and although challenging when you manage all these things properly its really powerful and fun. But keeping track of Storm Weaving, Hades Shackles and knowing when to slam with it, Smite, and Flash Freeze. You can’t use Smite, HS, ZR when freeze is up and you have to freeze shortly after those. It’s quite a bit to pay attention to but really fun to do so.

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I don’t think about Smite too much. It just happens a lot of times in combat even when I have my feet on the ground and enemies jump. Or Return Fire. Hades’ Shackles I pay more attention too because it’s usually how I start an engagement because of its stagger effect and stack generation. If you get in the habit of always attacking from the air and starting with a Slam attack you’ll have good success with it.

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Yup slam, bloodrush, shoot = massive stacks fast

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That could be melee Athena’s mantra. Slam. Blood Rush. Shoot.

Looking forward to your CoE build.

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Alternate spec:

That is, if you decide that you don’t mind having any base damage at all.

I know we were discussing how lower (gun) damage could mean more stacks, but how much…?

At least for my Battery, I found that the majority of my stacks are not from my guns, but from my Teslas. Given that, my Gun Damage didn’t actually matter.

And against a boss, it won’t really matter for your build either.

Stacks are a function of Individual Hits Per Second, which implies primarily Fire Rate and Effect Chance as well as Pellet Count, Mag Size, and Reload Speed. Since Shotguns tend to do the most “pellets per second,” they’re often the best stack builders.

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Since I have 5/5 Flash Freeze I was considering going with a purple Raging Storm and taking those extra four points and put them into Prepare for Glory and make that 5/5. I’m not sure Ephodos is better than Invictus but I’m guessing you have a pretty good explanation why you think so :slight_smile:

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I figure I get more damage out of it over the 16.5 to 22 (depending on class mod) seconds Aspis is up than I’d get out of the toss. And I like the movement speed.

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See I’m trying to get in the habit of throwing it sooner than later once I get full charge. Hanging onto it the full time for me generally means I throw it at nothing. Plus I’m wearing a Fabled Tortoise with 5/5 Conduit and high stacks. Aspis is really my second line of defense and when it’s active I’m looking to use it as a weapon.

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Well, in that case it actually does something for you.

It still pleases me to see how different people’s playstyles can be with Athena and still be effective. Even with very similar specs.

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Also, you could let 1 point into Unrelenting too to get the COM bonus. This way you would have 8 points, what allow you at least 3/5 in Omega-Senshu and still 5/5 in Unrelenting and Flash Freeze. I think that Storm Weaving at 9/5 and Unrelenting at 5/5 is enough fire rate

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Ok some math to illustrate the difference between 5/5 Unrelenting (.3%/stack) and 10/5 Unrelenting (.6%/stack).

Assuming 10/5 Storm Weaving active (75% Fire Rate) in all cases and using the base fire rate of the Practicable Thinking in the video (4.0 Fire Rate)

Mid- to upper fire rate breakpoints on console exists at 4.29, 5.0, 6.0, 7.5, 10, 15, 30 (max)

The formula for calculating breakpoints on console is:
where X is your base fire rate of weapon and Y is your total fire rate bonuses (Storm Weaving+Unrelenting)

####With 5/5 Unrelenting+100 stacks (+30% Fire Rate)
30/4=7.5 actual Fire Rate

####With 10/5 Unrelenting+100 stacks(+60% Fire Rate)
30/4=7.5 actual Fire Rate

So no difference at 100 stacks

####With 5/5 Unrelenting+200 stacks (+60%)
30/4=7.5 actual Fire Rate

####With 10/5 Unrelenting+200 stacks (+120%)
30/3=10 actual Fire Rate

So there is a difference at 200 stacks, lets continue…

####With 5/5 Unrelenting+300 stacks (+90%)
30/3=10 actual Fire Rate

####With 10/5 Unrelenting+300 stacks (+180%)
30/3=10 actual Fire Rate

Back to parity at 300. But what happens when we hit 334 stacks?

####With 5/5 Unrelenting+334 stacks (+100.2%)
30/3=10 actual Fire Rate

####With 10/5 Unrelenting+334 stacks (+200.4%)
30/2=15 actual Fire Rate

On console, you wouldn’t see 15 actual Fire Rate with 5/5 Unrelenting until you hit 667 stacks.

Is 30 Fire Rate cap possible with the Practicable Thinking? Yes!

####With 10/5 Unrelenting+959 stacks (+575.4% fire rate)
30/1=30 actual Fire Rate

So you can see these small climbs that I was referring to in the OP that you need to overcome on console. Interestingly, with the Focus Group and it’s much slower fire rate of 2.2, I still hit 15 actual Fire Rate at 844 Maelstrom stacks.

I should also emphasize that if you normally manage less than 300 stacks then 8/5 Unrelenting (+.48%/stack) is arguably closer to optimal with the right gear.

Using the same conditions as above (4.0 base fire rate and Storm Weaving active)

100 stacks=7.5 actual Fire Rate
200 stacks=10 actual Fire Rate
300 stacks=10 actual Fire Rate

At 417 stacks you would achieve 15 actual fire rate.


I see. Thanks for the reply!
I play on PS3, so is good to know this actually

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I wish more people would do this.

Looks like how much Unrelenting you want depends on the number of stacks you care to get, the Fire Rate softcap you’re comfortable with, and the base Fire Rate of the weapons in question. The numbers looks a little different with, say, Bullpup. The higher Fire Rate on Thinking gives it an edge for a stack-builder, though the damage and mag size are lower, meaning Bullpup has better DPS. But that’s what you have Focus Group for, anyway.

Similar calculations went into my Sal builds. I can’t tell you how many times people told me I should have had Keep Firing in a build that already achieved 30 Fire Rate on Anarchist without it.

I actually think it’s well worth getting as much as possible in this particular setup, because the sooner you cap, the faster you build said stacks.

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Best conclusion ever. Thank you for this.

My build is obviously on an extreme end but I only intended to show a method for stacking as fast as I’ve found possible but it certainly doesn’t make it optimal for every build. I hope everyone understands that and finds what works best for them.