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Beginner Spellsword Questions

I’ve only just started the imperial era on my first character, a spellsword, but I have a bunch of questions:

  1. Before specialization, I was playing with manastrike and glacier, with the extra damage on low MP nodes on manastrike. I quite liked that play style, since it was very active, did a lot of damage and required a careful balancing act between skills. After specialization, it seems like manastrike isn’t really ideal for spellblade, since it doesn’t build ward very quickly. Is that true?

  2. Now I’ve respecced into shatterstrike and the sorcerer’s ice barrage skill, but I don’t know how to spec them. I was thinking of going for frostbite, since both skills have it, but I’ve read penetration works poorly, and I don’t know how well the DoT will scale. Does that kind of build make sense?

  3. How do you all deal with mana issues on shatterstrike? Stopping to recharge with focus really breaks my flow. I could spec for manastrike or disintegrate, but neither seems like it would do much damage.

  4. Is the “cold steel” (crit multiplier with swords) node worth looking at? I haven’t really found a way to stack crit chance.

  5. Finally, how does blade weaver (the spellsword passive that grants melee damage for each spell cast in the last 4 seconds) work exactly? Is it per each unique spell? Could I pick up Luminaire on elemental nova and stack it up really high?

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Here is some input and some thought on the subjects you mentioned.

Disclaimer: I do not have any real “endgame” viable spellblade and just leveled two different versions. So most of my experience is just from a pure leveling standpoint.

  1. Mana Strike is fine for building ward with spellblade, it just has a little bit less area than some other skills like Shatter Strike or Flame Reave, since the Spellblade Mastery Bonus gives ward PER hit, so hitting multiple mobs at once builds wards more quickly.
    I personally liked Manastrike with alot of different nodes and most of the times used it as a filler to recover my mana when my main damage “spender” spent all my mana.

  2. I personally dont like Ice Barrage for melee, since it feels a bit clunky to me because you always have to position properly to hit the skill. And when trying to dodge stuff in melee sometimes i have to dodge in a way that makes Ice Barrage miss.
    But Ice Barrage is a very strong singletarget Spell from my experience, with damage, freeze and the boss/rare node(Challange The Elements)
    I would not recommend any frostbite build, as penetration and protection reduction currently is not in a great spot. And especially for Ice Barrage you need to invest alot of skill points to make the Frostbite Node apply it reliably.

  3. Whatever main damage skill i used, when my mana was empty i always used manastrike to recover my mana. The main point for me was never to make mana strike deal much damage, just to recover mana and give me ward.

  4. As i said in the disclaimer, never really got into late endgame, but i guess you can go for crit via gear. (IF you play with 1h melee weapon and off-hand they are some good crit combinations possible or even some of the 2h weapons have alot of good crit stuff). You are right that Mage in general has a hard time stacking crit, just sorcerer has some good crit stuff deep in the tree, which is not accessible for Spellblade. (Some other skills have some base crit in their spec tree, which is really missing in Shatter Strike’s Tree for sure, but i guess that’s a balance thing, since 200% crit multiplier from that 4 point node is HUGE, if you can get your crit via other means)

  5. Basically get a “stack” for each spell cast i nthe last 4 seconds, each stack has an individual timer and with further spell casts the old timers do not get refreshed. You could spam the same spell a few dozen time before hitting with melee, but well to make that work you would need to go hybrid melee/spell damage.
    I usally used that node, because i most of the time used something like teleport -> flame ward -> Enchant Weapon and then start hitting, this rotation always gave me 60% (with 5 points in the node) for a few hits which was enough most of the time.
    And with 4 sec cd on teleport you could keep at least that 20% up all the time if you wanted.

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Thanks for the answers!

Regarding mana strike: I assumed the other skills are more synergistic with spellblade because their mana costs transfer into higher ward gain. My thought process is mana strike has no mana cost, so less synergy with the spellsword passive. I originally took the “extra damage when out of mana” nodes on mana strike, with the idea to mostly stay below zero mana with a big nuke, then do melee damage with mana strike. It certainly did do a lot of damage, at least for the very early game. But once I looked closely at the sorcerer passive, it occurred to me that would fit better with a sorcerer than a spell blade (if I could somehow stay alive)

At any rate, with the mana regen nodes in focus, it feels a lot less awkward to use now.

I actually like ice barrage with melee a lot, though I don’t know if I’ll really regret it at some point in the future. With teleport I can often reposition so it’s still damaging enemies, and it gives me a ranged option, as well as something that still does damage when I’m moving, or channeling mana with focus. Anyway, to me, the platonic ideal of a spellblade isn’t four buffs supporting one melee skill, but rather at least one melee range damaging power and one ranged damaging power that interact in some way. I don’t know how well itemization supports that later in the game, or how to configure skills to make that work.

If I don’t go for frostbite, should I go for ice spikes instead on shatterstrike? That would presumably make primarily stacking spell damage for ice barrage a more viable choice. Respecs are really painful at this point, though.