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Is a melee Harvest/Bone Curse Lich viable?

Hey everyone!

I just started playing a few weeks ago after months of following the game. Long time ARPG veteran here, so not new to the general concepts of the genre but still pretty fresh in Last Epoch. Currently I am trying to build a melee Lich with Harvest as my primary skill. I am level 47 and starting to run into big problems with survivability (some of the common monsters in the snow area can one shot me easily).

The skills I have slotted are: Harvest (passives for ward generation, crit, and damage), Reaper Form (passives for damage/crit and ward generation), Bone Curse (passives for necrotic damage conversion, kill threshold, apply on hit), Hungering Souls (passives for auto cast on being hit, increased damage, ward generation on kill), and Transplant (can’t do passives on this one yet, but the idea would be necrotic damage, fear, and any survivability/cooldown I can get).

My class passives are mostly all around necrotic damage, crit, and ward generation.

My protections/armor are sitting around 40-45% mitigation in most damage types.

My general playstyle is to try to stay in Reaper Form as much as possible, Harvesting and Reaping away after an initial Bone Curse. I use Transplant to get around or get out of AoEs.

I guess I don’t have any specific questions other than what am I doing wrong? Is this sort of build viable at the later levels? Is the Lich just this damn squishy?

Thanks in advance for any tips. This community seems fantastic from what I have seen.

EDIT: I should say that I am very happy with my damage, it’s mostly the survivability that’s an issue. If a pack has a lot of ranged monsters, I sometimes die almost instantly before I can even reach the pack. I have looked at other skills and their passives for defensive stuff, none of it feels like it synergizes well.

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Bone Curse works better with Rip Blood since both are spells so you can stack the same modifiers/affixes to buff both.

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I can definitely say that this kind of build is viable and very strong.

I am doing a similar thing, but with low lifestrong text without ward. (Using Death Seal with Deadlock Node for locked low life), hence no ward.

All other skills are the same: Harvest, Reaper Form, Bone Curse and Transplant.

Bone Curse Bone Armor Node(bottom left) for almost 100% uptime as long as you kill stuff, transplant for Bone Armor on Rares/Bosses that have no trash spawns.
Reap for short range mobility/evade telegraphed abilities.

Also Reaper Form has Armor and Protection Nodes (Top Right), which is insane, since it scales with Int.

I did the same build without lowlife and Ward regeneration before Death Seal was introduced and it worked pretty similar.

I am not ingame right now, but if i have time we can try to compare and digest your gear/passives.

All i can say it is 100% viable and strong. And i don’t have any survivability issues. I have basically 100% uptime on Reaper Form for an entire Echo and in case i get out of Reaper Form i generally try to play very save until it’s up again.

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Thanks for the detailed reply! I am going to take a look at Death Seal (I honestly haven’t even tested how it works yet) and the Bone Armor stuff. I think maybe I am just too one sided on offensive stuff and need to balance out a bit more.

My only issue with hybrid builds is how you split your affixes between melee & spell, since harvest uses your melee damage & bone curse your spell damage.

In the late game is it easier to find spell/melee damage percent increase rather than just necrotic? I have been favoring necrotic +% for this reason.

The Bone Armor from Bone Curse is really reliable if you put 3 points in (30% chance per kill), that should help alot already.

That was my first assumption when i read your desribtion. Lich and Acolyte has a lot of good defensive stuff and when you say your damage is fine you might want to sacrifice a bit of damage passives.

Agreed, but Bone Curse is pure utility for me(kill threshold + bone armor + MfD)
Death Seal’s Death Wave damage is “enough” to be usefull, but main point on Deaht Seal is Deadlock(low life lock), since my global damage basically doubles while being low life

Generally specific damage type affixes are a bit stronger and more worth it if you build only has 1 main damage type.

Spell Damage itself is not worth it if you don’t use a Staff for Adaptive Spell Damage form my exp and testing. In case you are using a Staff you Bone Curse will do alot more damage and Death Seal’s Death Wave will also do more damage if you going for it.

I personally use 2H Rare/Exalted Polearm (Ranseur or Sovnya) for the melee Crit, since Harvest is my main damage.

Melee Void Damage has a higher value than all other melee damage types, so i always try to aim for that, because i am using the “Elements Of Death” Node, which converst all added damage from items to necrotic.

Yeah, you said. You should try a caster version of it & see how much damage you can get from Bone Curse (it’s a lot).

Yeah i already briefly tested a semi-good Staff, Bone Curse and Death Wave did good damage, but harvest damage dropped significantly, epecially because of less crits.

Will probably give it another go with a even stronger Staff, if i find one.

But with that kind of setup, IF you are going for staff, you probably should get as much attack speed as possible, since bone curse will probably do more damage then harvest itself.
And for @Veruah’s setup more attack speed is probably even better for survivability, for ward regeneration.

So What weapon type are you using Veruah?

I had been using polearms mostly until just recently. I found a unique shield (Soul Bastion) with insane block effectiveness and a cool necrotic AoE proc. I am using that and a scepter I forged up with +necrotic, +crit, and protections.

I just now dropped Hungering Souls (RIP first level 20 skill) and picked up Death Seal. I have that and Transplant in my passive slots now (leveled to 50). Bone Armor is massive. Thanks for that!

My only question is how to best use Death Seal. I used Deathlocked ASAP, so I have that. Should I just start fights with Death Seal on? Essentially Reaper Form -> Death Seal -> Transplant in -> Harvest spam?

The issues with your setup now is that your ward has no value with death seal.

Swichting to Death Seal without major changes to your sustain is worthless.

In my setup(without any ward), with just massive amounts of leech and damage while being low life, i do facetank basically everything, even some of the telegraphed abilities, while insdie of the reaper form. I do use Death Seal basically on cooldown, AS LONG as you have an opportunity to deal damage.

On some boss fights when you have to dodge stuff and such i do not use Death Seal until i have some damage windows to use harvest.

Death Seal is THE major source of damage, it roughly doubles or triples my damage output. (+ death waves doing some damage too)

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Good point regarding the ward being largely useless. It would only really help outside of reaper form. I think I’ll respec out of those passives and keep playing around.

Appreciate the help! I think the annoying thing with the old setup was I needed to hit/kill to build my defenses (ward) but I was one-shottable without them and being melee it meant that happened often.

EDIT: Although Death Seal does not seem to prevent you from gaining ward, just reduces it to 0 when cast. So I guess in a way the ward could serve in a similar fashion as your very high health leech. Does Ward still benefit fully from armor/protection?