|Learn from Lord Ditros||By Ditto8353||Version:1.0.0|
|of this guide is complete.|
I am back! I am sorry that I have been gone for so long, but we switched to playing on the Ranked servers and it took some time to level up again. I am now a higher level than before and have a variety of characters. I have learned a lot and look forward to passing this knowledge onto you.
Thank you to the anonymous edit correcting misinformation about Flash Heal, and thank you to CrystalClear for showing me how to properly embed images.
So you've come to Lord Ditros to learn the Dark Arts of Summoning. I would like to say that you've come to the right place, but the Summoner is a complicated class to play to its full potential. I may not always have the right answers, but I assure you that I will do everything in my power to determine these answers and make them available to you.
In areas where I am unsure, it will be made perfectly clear, and I will always be open to, and accepting of criticisms and suggestions provided they are brought forth respectfully and constructively.
Most of this section relies solely upon my personal opinions and style of play. I offer explanations to the opinions I hold, but ultimately it lies upon you to build your stats around your own style of play. However, it is very difficult to build a Summoner incorrectly once you accept the fact that Hero stats are useless.
[ 0 ] - If you consistently die, or even take damage, spend some time getting used to the duration of your hover. Your ability to hover above enemies, whilst remaining close enough to vacuum up Mana, is all you need to stay alive.
[ 0 ] - Your Hero doesn't do any damage so this stat is useless. There are builds which use 2 DPS Familiars which scale on Hero Damage, but I don't like those builds simply because it defeats the purpose of making a Summoner in the first place.
[ 0 ] - Hero Speed would enable me to more effectively collect the Mana which my team's Heroes and Defenses produce. Combined with the ability to hover over the battlefield, this would also help with the activation of Ballistae in a select few situations. However, I don't feel that these benefits are enough to justify spending points in this stat. With a cap of 100, Hero Speed is easily maxed via equipment bonuses and I don't believe that any Hero should waste points here. Not to mention the fact that you will most likely be playing a DPS Hero during the Combat Phase.
[ 0 ] - This does not affect the speed at which you summon Minions. It only affects your Heal Self ability and the rate at which you repair Defenses. Neither of these are very important, so it's best not to put any points here.
[ 180 ] - It goes without saying that the Hero who's sole purpose is to summon Minions wants to maximize their Minion Health stat. Archers aren't very useful if they are easily killed by stray Kobolds.
[ 180 ] - Minion Damage is the next best thing to Minion Health, and the best thing when dealing with Wyvern and other flying enemies. You need to be able to do enough damage to flying enemies to kill them before they simply continue on to the Crystal and out of your range. And as the phrase goes, the best defense is a good offense.
[ 110 ] - Only the Archer and Mage benefit from Minion Range (NOT the Mage's heal), but given the lack of better options, this deserves the leftover stat points. A greater range of attack allows for more flexibility in the placement of Minions.
[ 180 ] - Minion Attack Rate offers an overall increase to the effectiveness of your Minions via an increase in DPS. There are some wonky things that occur with Minion Attack Rate which do not occur with Tower Attack Rate. I have also heard that there is a cap to these benefits, but I have not yet experienced one.
Wonky: When you look at a Minion's stats by pressing 'E' you will see Attack Rate. That's good, it's supposed to be there. Look down a couple lines and you'll see Attack Rate Boost. That's wonky. To be perfectly honest you should just ignore that stat, because you will never use it. Minions have Passive and Aggressive stances which (most of the time) correspond to Defensive and Offensive orders. When issued an Offensive order, a Minion will enter an Aggressive stance and retain that status until a new order is issued. Whilst in an Aggressive stance, Minions receive that additional Attack Rate Boost. The problem is that they will wander all over the place trying to take down moving targets. It's simply not worth it.
[ 0 ] - When I first started as a Summoner I put quite a few points into movement speed. "Hell yeah! Gonna turn my Archers into Marines!" As it turns out, you'll never be able to get your minions to move with any sort of haste. It might prove useful to bounce a healer around a tightly packed cluster of Defenses, but these points are better spent elsewhere.
[ 0 ] - When you are leveling your Summoner this is a handy little trick to provide some healing to your allies and Defenses, however it won't be used much beyond that, a little trick, unless you are heading towards the lesser-played Active Summoner. If you wish to be Active then you may want to put 110 points here instead of Minion Range, this is explained further in the Gameplay Style section.
The growth formulas are on hold until the Summoner is included in the DDDK which should happen with the next major patch. Once Summoner values are included it will only take a short time to dig through the code to find them. Thank you for your patience!
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The Archer is likely to end up as your 'bread and butter' minion, but its use may vary depending on your team composition. It functions much like a Harpoon Turret with a few differences both good and bad. As with all Minions, Archers are mobile which means you can easily reposition them to support your team's Defenses where it is needed most. Although Archers do not have the range that Harpoon Turrets do, they have a 360° targetting arc and their arrows will interrupt most enemies' casting. However, Archers are frail and will die quickly if they are left exposed.
Archers are best placed in areas where they can support other Defenses/Minions which have more survivability, or in areas where they simply cannot be reached. They function superbly on the rooftop in The Ramparts.
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I hate spiders, terrified of them, but these little guys are pretty cool. As far as I can tell, their web does everything that the web of enemy Spiders does (slow movement, disable casting and increase damage taken). Because of their ability to disable casting, they are a massive help against Dark Elf Magi, which tend to pick out the Spiders as a personal threat so keep a Mage Minion nearby for heals.
If I have the MU to spare I like to give a Spider to each of my Ogres, or if the team needs it I will just put a Spider near every enemy Ogre spawn to help take them down faster. Enemy Ogres can be one-shot by your own if you've been giving some attention to your Minion Damage stat as you should be.
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The Orc is basically a Spike Blockade that has a nasty habbit of wandering off. Even when ordered to Hold Defensive, Orcs will continue to make minor adjustments to their positioning until a gap opens up to let Kobolds run past. They can be used as alternatives to Ogres if you lack the Mana or MU, but don't count on them too much.
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The Mage is a requirement for any line of Minion Defense. His ranged fireball attack does ridiculous amounts of damage, but his true importance lies in his ability to heal Minions and Heroes within a circle centered on himself, just like the Dark Elf Mage. Note that this will not heal Defenses and no amount of Minion Attack Range will ever increase the size of this circle. The Mage has little Health, but this should never become an issue as he will always be lurking behind an Ogre or a line of Archers.
Become familiar with the range of the Mage's heal and try to position him at maximum range. This will help keep him away from danger, especially when Kobolds are bombing the Minions you have assigned him to heal. When you reach the limit of your stats you may need to help your Magi by Repairing some injured Minions.
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Warriors look tough and certainly put out some decent damage, but to be quite honest they are nearly useless. In order to get the most out of them, including their ability to dash to new targets, they must be set in an aggressive stance. They will dash from enemy to enemy until eventually they are either fighting inside the enemy spawn location or they've wandered half way across the map, well out of range from their healer. I suppose they could be used as internal Defenses against enemy Spiders, but so could Archers, and they will stay where you put them.
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The Ogre (I call him Gilgamesh) is the supreme Summoner Minion and is essentially a large green Bouncer Blockade. Not only do his attacks cause splash damage, but he also shoots a green poison ball. The range for this poison attack is anything but impressive, although I have seen him unleash supreme justice upon Dark Elf Magi with the attack. Truly the only downside to the Ogre is that smaller enemies like Goblins and Kobolds can run right past him if there is room. The Ogre is a formittable Minion, but he still requires support from other Minions or Defenses.
A single well-placed Ogre accompanied by a Mage can render entire clusters of Defenses obsolete. If you know where you will be placing an Ogre, try to place your team's other Defenses accordingly and defend the Ogre's future location with a Hero until you can collect the Mana required to summon the Ogre. The right side of Hall of Court on Survival-Medium can be held off by an Ogre on each stairway. It's not efficient by any means, but you will certainly feel awesome doing it.
This is not technically listed as an ability, but it functions similarly and is critical to using a Summoner effectively. With Overlord Mode active you can do anything you want as long as you don't want to move, or collect items or Mana, or take damage.
What you can do is this: You can use edge-scrolling or arrow keys to move your overhead camera around the map and can even display the map with 'Shift' and click or click-drag to move your camera. This in itself is helpful in pointing out weaknesses in the team's defenses and if you lack voice-chat you can callout with 'C' and your marker will be placed at your cursor.
The real benefit, however, is the ability to command your units like a classic real-time strategy game, allowing you to make adjustments in positioning, and skilled players will be able to direct their minions to target specific high-risk enemies.
Oh, and you know that summoning thing you do? And upgrading/repairing? Yeah you can do that anywhere on the map, and since you can't take damage in Overlord Mode you will never be interrupted. You will spend most of your time as a repair man in multiplayer games.
This is sort of like a lesser version of Overlord Mode. All it does is make you invincible and removes your ability to collect items and Mana. I don't use this much, considering I can just hover over the top of anything that could hurt me, but it could be useful in getting across the map to collect Mana.
This ability is fun, dropping an AOE heal centered on you, or your cursor in Overlord Mode. Normally this will heal everything friendly within range for a percentage of their maximum health. I find use for the ability where Kobolds routinely attack. I need to do some more testing to determine the exact benefits of this ability.
I count this as an ability because it is unique to the Summoner (not counting costumes) and is extraordinarily useful. Simply hold the jump button and you will hover at your maximum jump height for about 15 seconds. You can get to some interesting locations using this little trick, though none of them are useful.
This is an extra stat, placed on the character sheet as an ability. No need for hefty explanations.
I do not play solo with my Summoner, nor with any of my other heroes. Some people may feel that this discredits the knowledge I offer here, but I ask you to consider that Dungeon Defenders is designed around multiplayer gameplay and, though singleplayer is offered, the game is intended to be played with multiple players or at the very least, multiple heroes. Furthermore, I have not yet reached level cap, being only level 66 at the present time. I would like to appologize for this and I would like to state that my style of gameplay may change once my team starts playing Nightmare.
When playing with multiple people it can sometimes be difficult to tell when everyone is ready to start the next Battle Phase. My friends and I have adopted a practice which we find to be effective, even though we use voice-chat during gameplay: When you are ready for the next wave, callout with 'C'. When everyone in the game has done this, start the next Battle Phase with 'G'. By using the callout to let everyone know that you are ready, your teammates will know that they should hurry up in order to not keep you waiting, but it does not rudely apply a timer to their actions.
Do you have a DPS Hero? Everyone should have a DPS Hero and I believe that it should be one of the first Heroes you level. When starting to play Dungeon Defenders for the very first time, I find that it is best to level a DPS Hero and a Defense Hero at the same time. I prefer the Ranger for my DPS Hero and I strongly assert that it is the best DPS Hero in the game. All DPS Heroes should be male, as male heroes do more damage (take it up with Trendy, I think it's stupid as well). The Ranger not only has good ranged damage, but also has Piercing Spreadshot which can clear out a substantial section of enemies with a short cooldown which borders on being imbalanced.
I have seen a staggering amount of variety in the placement of Minions used by other Summoners. I find it disappointing, to say the least. It doesn't take much to think through the possibilities of a given situation in order to determine the best placement for your Minions, and taking the time to do so will help your team much more than a random spattering of Archers. The most I can offer are some general guidelines:
- Think with lines. A straight line is the best positioning in any situation, usually straight across the enemies' path. There are rare times when you will want to stagger the line, or add a second line behind the first in order to prevent shots being wasted on enemies which are already targeted, but a single line is perfect 90% of the time.
- Everything needs a Mage to heal it. Unless you are largely overpowered for the map you are playing, your Minions are going to take damage. It goes without saying that a Mage is helpful.
- When Stopper Towers are in place (Bouncer, Spinner, other Blockades) do not disrupt them by placing your minions in front of them. Your Minions should flank these types of towers in order to widen the defense, or stand behind them to offer support. Using the "Move -" command via hotkey instead of right-clicking will enable you to place Minions on top of or even inside existing Towers.
- Given the choice between a traditional Defense taking damage, or your Minions taking damage, it is always better to sacrifice the Minions and use a Mage to keep them healed. This is far more consistent and efficient than manually repairing Towers.
- When utilizing Series EV Buff Beams, use the "Move Defensive" command via the hotkey to position your Minions. This will enable you to pack them in tightly and will prevent them from moving away from the Buff Beam.
- When in doubt: Archers, Archers everywhere.
As a passive Summoner you will only be on the battlefield during the Build Phase. You will position your Minions where they are needed and then switch to your DPS Hero for the Combat Phase.
- Playing a DPS Hero during the Combat Phase allows you to focus your damage where it is needed.
- You do not need to worry about your Resistances or Flash Heal; you can focus all of your itemization into Minion Stats.
- Your Minions will be ~25% less effective.
- You cannot control your Minions during the Combat Phase.
As an active Summoner you will still maintain the responsibility of summoning your Minions, but you will have a few new responsibilities during the Combat Phase, since you will not be playing a DPS Hero. During the Combat Phase you must float around the map collecting as much Mana as possible. Aside from being able to use this Mana for repairs and upgrades, this will also allow more Mana to drop (only a set Mana value is allowed to be present in crystal form). Once you reach your Mana capacity, enter Overlord Mode and check for any Defenses that need repairs and/or upgrades. It is always better to upgrade a damaged Defense than to repair it. Flash Heal is helpful for repairing Kobold damage.
- Your Minions will be ~33% more effective.
- You can make adjustments to your Minions during the Combat Phase.
- You can provide the benefits of two Guardian Familiars.
- It is much easier for you to repair/upgrade than for a DPS Hero to repair/upgrade.
- You will have no damage to focus on things like Ogres/Goblin Copters.
- You may find it to be boring.
Early Game: Watch and Learn
I rarely summon any Minions during the early game, preferring to have the Mana spent on the more powerful Squire and Apprentice Defenses. Some might argue that it would be better to use Minions in the early game since they can move between paths, but Minions do not move fast enough to defend two locations at once. But you should have a DPS character anyway, and you can move around the map and do much more damage than your Minions could.
So for the early game I let the Squire and Apprentice build up our Defenses until they start getting close to the maximum DU. I consider this to be the end of the early game. Until that time I watch carefully, noting the locations where enemies seem to be progressing the furthest as well as how the team's Defenses affect the pathing of enemies. Once you discover the weaknesses in your team's Defenses you can judge where you need to place your Minions.
Sometimes there will be no need for Summoner Minions, this happens to us a lot... Screw it: Archers everywhere.
Mid Game: Get on my Shoulders
Time to carry the team. Once the vast majority of DU is in use and the team's Defenses appear to be well established, I kindly request that everyone gives me all of the Mana, which is prompty converted into Ogres and Archers. Ogres use a lot of MU, so you don't want to use only Ogres, but placing a few of them is likely to be your top priority. I hesitate to say that Ogres are your top priority because there are times when you will want to summon Archers first to help with flying enemies. Or if you are simply that awesome and don't need anything to block the paths of enemies, go ahead and fill up on Archers with a single Mage for each cluster.
However, once you have at least one Minion, your top priority is a Mage. Every Minion you summon must be in range of a Mage's healing ability. Sometimes it is possible to cover a large cluster of Minions with one Mage and besides the obvious MUs saved there is a second benefit to doing this: If any Minion in range falls below the healing threshhold, the Mage will heal everything, which will keep their health topped off more effectively.
Why not just summon Archers? The answer is both simple and complex depending on how far into my decisions you wish to look.
Simple: My Magi can heal my Ogre blockades and they can almost be ignored for the rest of the game.
Complex: You'll need this: All Platform Tower Guide. The Summoner's Thinner Minions are generally not as effective as Squire/Apprentice Thinner Defenses. I have Archers, but Fireball Towers, Lightning Towers and Harpoon Turrets are better Thinners because of their splash damage. Archers are better suited for supporting these Defenses as Finishers or for dealing with flying enemies. The one thing Summoners have above Squire/Apprentice Defenses is self-healing Stopper Minions (technically this takes a combination of two Minions). Provided that both Stopper options will take an equal amount of damage, there exists a point in time where the Mana efficiency [(BuildCost + RepairCosts) / time] of Ogre Blockades will surpass that of Non-Healing Blockades. Furthermore, the DU saved by using Ogre Blockades can be spent on the stronger Thinner Defenses of the Squire/Apprentice.
Late Game: Not Quite Starcraft
The mid game should only last for a couple waves. Once you reach the late game you may want to use your observations of the battle field to place a couple Spiders to help deal with Dark Elf Magi and/or Ogres. This is where playstyle will differ depending on whether you wish to play as an Active Summoner or Passive Summoner.
Active: Hover around the map, sucking up Mana like the vaccum your mother dreams of, and spend it as fast as you possibly can. Throw out upgrades first, targetting the Defenses that have been damaged. Upgrading the damaged Defenses will repair them, this is more efficient than a normal repair. If you are unable to upgrade then start repairing. Keep everything topped off using the Repair ability and your Flash Heal ability. Call out the locations where the Defenses could use some help from your DPS teammates. Keep it up and you'll be looking at the game statistics before you know it.
Passive: Switch to your DPS Hero and win the game. Mission accomplished.
Please ask any questions which I have failed to address in my guide. I would prefer them to be organized into a bulleted list. Thank you!