I know I told some people I was going to post my shootylander build next, but I came upon something so utterly bizarre in my testing that I had to make a build around it. I have found the Holy Grail of Outlander builds; a hybrid style combining the damage of a heavy Focus build with the ability to use weapon skills like Chaos Burst, Shadowshot, and Poison Burst. A lot of people who don’t know what they’re doing have attempted this sort of thing. They split their points between Strength and Focus and end up worthless as monster armor outstrips their ability to do damage. But I have found something that makes it possible for you to do everything and not suck at all of it in the process. I call it the Mad Genius build.
The key discovery that makes this work is in how skill damage is calculated from your weapons when dual-wielding. Damage is based entirely on the weapon in your right hand, even if the skill you want to use requires a different type of weapon. So long as you have that weapon in your left hand, you can use the skill and it will calculate the damage using the right-hand weapon. Skills like Chaos Burst and Shadowshot scale damage off of your weapon and require you to have a gun, which means that under normal circumstances you’d need to pump your Strength like crazy to get anything decent out of them (or use a purely elemental weapon and pump Focus, but those are extremely rare). Furthermore, high level guns require a ridiculous amount of Dexterity to use, and that much Dexterity is a big hindrance in your ability to kill things. So normally, weapon skills are the sole purview of those sad little Str/Dex split Outlanders that don’t want to make a Focus/Glaive build like everyone else but have to deal with the mechanical inferiority of a high Dex requirement or sub-par weapons. But no longer!
Here’s what you do: pump Focus like crazy, like you would if you were running a Glaive build. You can actually throw glaives just like everyone else, but that’s not what makes this build special. Get the highest damage wand you can find and equip it in your right hand. Poison is better than other elemental types due to Master of the Elements. This is what the game will use to calculate damage. In your left hand, equip a pistol. It doesn’t have to do any damage because you will never shoot it and the game will never look at it for a skill damage calculation. Use the pistol you started with for extra style points, or just get something with useful modifiers on it, but remember that damage is irrelevant. Now that you have a pistol in one hand, you can use weapon skills that calculate damage based on your wand with your Focus stat, including Master of the Elements even for attack skills that are purely weapon-DPS dependent like Chaos Burst.
Here’s how the bonuses break down with the Mad Genius vs a traditional Strength-based weapon build. A Strength build using pistols would have Akimbo and Long Range Mastery, for a total bonus of +60% to damage when dual wielding. Unfortunately, they can’t use decent weapons at the mid-tier range because they require a lot more Dex than is useful for anything except equipping guns. So they use lower-level weapons instead, or they try to keep up with increasing Dex requirements and accidentally cripple themselves for good. The Mad Genius doesn’t have this problem; his points are going into Focus, which lets him equip the best wands he can find, and he gets +30% or +60% to his damage, depending on the type of elemental wand he’s using. By level 50, he can easily handle level 90 artifact wands. If you don’t have a poison wand, you’ll have smaller damage modifiers than you would have had if you were using pistols, but the difference here is easily made up for by the fact that you can use any wand you find and shootylanders have to settle for the stuff they can equip based on their level, and they have to split their stats between “equip better stuff” and “do damage with it.” You don’t have to do this, so even without a poison wand you’re going to have them beat on damage.
There’s more to it than this, though. Wands do elemental damage, usually several types, that can proc from each attack to mess with your enemies in various ways. Freezing, poison, ignite, etc. Skills like Chaos Burst fire a bunch of shots and hit huge groups, so those random elemental effects are going to be popping up all over the place. Skills like Poison Burst trigger off of your gun-style attacks, since you have points in Master of the Elements like a typical glaive-chucker, but you can proc Poison Burst a lot more easily than a shootylander since you can actually do respectable damage to large groups. If a typical glaive-chucker wants to trigger a Poison Burst, he needs to autoattack something like a chump. The Mad Genius doesn’t have to.
A quick point on the damage calculation, though. Skills that are based off of weapon DPS that don’t do a specific type of damage (Chaos Burst, Glaive Sweep, Rune Vault, and Shadowshot) use whatever damage modifiers you get from your weapon with Master of the Elements. Skills that are based off of your weapon but do a specific damage type use whatever modifiers are appropriate for that damage type, so Venomous Hail gets +60%, but Flaming Glaives only gets +30% even if you had a pure poison weapon to start with.
Sadly, there is one skill (and only one) that doesn’t work with the Mad Genius: Rapid Fire. For some reason, Rapid Fire doesn’t work if you have a wand in the right hand and a pistol in the left. It would’ve been incredible, but I guess you can’t have everything. Instead, you get everything except Rapid Fire. On the bright side, if you pick up an elemental shotgun you can use, you’ve already got the perfect stat and skill allocation to do whatever you want with it. What makes this build really special and unique among every other build out there is that there are no skills that suck for you. Normally, you have a selection of Focus skills that you’d pick from if you were a Focus build, and physical skills if you’re running a Strength build, plus some non-attribute dependent skills that work for everybody. The Mad Genius can choose from any skill on the list, except for Rapid Fire. With all that said, here’s my version of the Mad Genius with the full 131 points.
Rune Vault – 5
Chaos Burst – 15
Cursed Daggers – 15
Venomous Hail – 10
Glaive Throw – 5
Tangling Shot – 1
Dodge Mastery – 15
Poison Burst – 15
Share the Wealth – 15
Repulsion Hex – 10
Stone Hex – 10
Master of the Elements – 15
By the late stages of my career, I might swap out Chaos Burst for ten points in Rapid Fire and five more in Venomous Hail once a get a nice elemental shotgun like Earth’s Roar, which you can select as the new game+ final boss quest reward at level 100. We’ll see.