After the major skill changes in July 2016, Shadow elemental skill set finally deserves some serious attentions from Destroyer players. I have been playing earth elemental destroyer (or to be more accurate, Ani-cancel-based destroyer; elemental system was introduced later) since forever. I have made the switch to Shadow Destroyer after the patch.
Shadow Destroyer has received multiple minor boost over the year but still not good enough to compete with its Earth counterpart. The major revamp in July has finally raised Shadow destroyer to the same level as Earth Destroyer, if not better. However, there is a catch to Shadow elemental skill set: it is highly gear dependent! (I will elaborate on that in the guide).
Therefore, i don’t recommend new players who have not reached the level cap or are not fully geared to try out this build. Although this Shadow Destroyer Guide is meant to replace my previous Earth Destroyer Guide, I would still keep the previous guide updated with the latest changes (soon) for the sake of new Destroyer players. Also, I am mainly a PVE player; I am not sure about the capability of shadow destroyer in PVP.
This article is an advanced guide for Destroyer; basic skill usage or function will not be detailed here (refer to the earth destroyer guide for that). I will focus on the characteristics, strength and weakness of Shadow Destroyer instead, in comparison with Earth Destroyer and hybrid Destroyer (which has been proposed by 大灰狼丶JM, to be updated soon).
Pure Shadow Destroyer Build
This is the build that i am using. It relies on Eradicate (RB)+ Galeforce (F) to deal damage. The skill build and gearing are aimed to maximize the damage of RB and F.
Before going into the details, i would like to share this interesting DPS comparison between Earth and Shadow Destroyer conducted in July 2016 on test server of BnS China (publised in bangbang).
The test was conducted with the exact level of gearing (max weapon & accessories with corresponding mystic/soul badge).
While the test is not representative of the DPS range which is achievable in normal dungeon, it indeed demonstrates the DPS potential for the class. In fact, the average DPS of earth destroyer is second only to Lightning Assassin!
Well, then why should you even bother about Shadow Destroyer if Earth Destroyer is so good?
If you watch the test video (refer to the link) properly, you will realize that the target does not move at all. And you will also realize that the Earth Destroyer actually run into some Focus shortage issue when you try to spam RB alone. On the other hand, Shadow Destroyer is able to do almost the same DPS even when you try to move around the bosses to avoid their skills.
Mobility and consistency are the hallmarks of a Shadow Destroyer.
The basic combo for Shadow Destroyer is explained in the video & figure below.
The casting speeds of Eradicate and Galeforce have been boosted. This is one of the 2 key changes (the other being Typhoon) implemented which make Shadow Destroyer viable. Previously, the attack animations for Eradicate and Galeforce (especially) were too slow to be competitive, as compared to the traditional Judgment (LB) Cleave (RB) ani-cancel combo.
Advantages of Eradicate VS Cleave
1. Higher damage
The shadow-elemental RB actually consists of 2 skills: Eradicate and Repulse. Repulse is automatically triggered after Eradicate is cast. The damage of Repulse is higher than Eradicate.
Eradicate damage: 450%
Repulse damage: 675%
Cleave damage: 500%
Since you will be casting Eradicate-Repulse alternately, the average damage would be 562.5% which is > Cleave.
If you are using S2.8 weapon, you will realize that the elemental damage bonus for Eradicate is also higher than Cleave. For example level 3 S2.8, Eradicate deals 345% additional dark damage while Cleave deals 300% additional earth damage.
[ Reminder: the additional elemental damage from S2.8 is not affected by crit damage bonus. It is only affected by elemental attack stats. ]
Both Cleave and Eradicate stack Bleed status on target.
2. Lower Focus consumption
For PVE, Cleave Stage 3 is typically used. The Focus consumption for Cleave is 30 for 1st hit, 20 for subsequent hit and recovers 10 on crit. Eradicate on the other hand, only consume 20 Focus, and also recovers 10 on crit.
3. High mobility
One of the flaw for traditional ani-cancel is the limited mobility. You cannot move while performing ani-cancel. When you need to move to avoid boss skill, you will lose precious time for DPS. The situation is made worse when the 1st hit of Cleave consumes extra 10 Focus; constantly start and stopping ani-cancel is not ideal.
Eradicate solves this problem. You can simply hold RB and move around the boss accordingly to avoid his skills, without losing any DPS time.
4. Large AoE & long range
The range of Cleave is 3m. Eradicate allows you to stand slightly further, at 4m away from the boss. This offers much more flexibility and room for movement, especially for boss marking mechanics such as during the final boss of Hell Furnace (if you are not the marker).
Needless to say, the 2x4m of AoE is perfect for clearing adds in various dungeons. The AoE of Galeforce is even larger: 5m semi-circular to the front.
5. Easier elemental buff stacking for S2.8 weapon
Each hit from Eradicate stack +30 shadow elemental stats up to 10 stacks = max + 300 shadow elemental stats.
Each hit from Cleave stack + 20 earth elemental stats up to 15 stacks = max + 300 earth elemental stats.
Eradicate only requires 10 hits to reach the max elemental buff stack, as compared to 15 hits from Cleave.
Disadvantages of Eradicate vs Cleave
1. No HP leech
Earth destroyer enjoys automatic HP leech by just casting Cleave. Eradicate does not grant any HP recovery effect.
This issue can be solved easily by Galeforce, which grants major instant HP recovery on hit.
2. No speed boost during Fury/Soulburn
Under Fury (E) or Soulburn, Earth destroyer can increase their casting speed by performing Ani-cancel with Wrath (LB).
Eradicate/Repulse casting speed cannot be boosted with Wrath.
This is the characteristic difference between the 2 builds: Earth is good for burst DPS during Fury/Wrath while Shadow is good for constant DPS output over time.