Torchlight II

Torchlight II

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Kardfogu's Guide to Prismatic Bolt Embermage
By Kardfogu
Another build of mine for one of the common builds, the Prismatic Bolt Embermage.
Again, I didn't invent the wheel, Prismatic Bolt Embermages are extremely common, my guide doesn't add much to it, but I'll cover the most I can.
Author's Prologue
Wizards and Vamp... ...well, a story of wizards. Wizards in fantasy stories are beings with semi-phenomenal, nearly-cosmic powers, but they are nerfed heavily to fit into games. Well, the embermage feels like something with that awesome power.

What is a Prismatic Bolt Embermage?
Prismatic Bolt embermages are, well, squishy damage dealing builds with high mobility, of course, this is true to all embermage builds in general, the difference is that embermages start out early and after a short while, their power skyrockets when they acquire the Brand skills.

  • Easy-to-use
  • Mobile
  • Ranged
  • Powerful
  • No gear-dependency
  • Defenseless

Prismatic Bolt Embermages are the mainstream farming characters, where damage meets mobility.
While the teleportation was nerfed in the game, to ensure that embermages don't get unfair advantage over other classes, Frost Phase is still the fastest mobility skill in the game.

Should I Play it?
    • ...if you like glass-cannons.
    • ...if you like fast farmer characters.
    • ...if you don't like glass-cannons.
    • ...if you don't like boringly easy massacre.
Main Skills
Prismatic Embermages have a strict base build, but they have a lot of free points for interesting additions and the class offers a lot of interesting addition! While embermages are all about offense with one very strong mobility skill, they have a very wide variety of that offense.
  • Prismatic Bolt 15/15
    Prismatic Bolt is the main attack skill of the build. On the other hand, it's an irregular one, instead of dealing the damage itself, it's nothing, but a simple trigger of three other skills. With it's impressive chance to trigger elemental effects, it's the easiest way to apply all three elemental effects required for prismatic builds.
  • Fire Brand 15/15
    When Fire Brand procs, it deals fire damage to the target, but it can't proc if the Burning debuff is not applied in the target. Burning deals damage over time, but it should not be confused by the damage over time effects caused by Magma Spear, Magma Mace, Firebombs or FIrestorm.
  • Ice Brand 15/15
    When Ice Brand procs, it deals ice damage to the target, but it can't proc if the Frozen debuff is not applied to the target. Frozen slows the target's movement, attack and casting speeds and it stacks multiplicative with other slow effects. It is important, that immobilized targets are not always frozen.
  • Lightning Brand 15/15
    When Lightning Brand procs, it deals lightning damage to the target, but it can't proc if the Shocked debuff is not applied to the target. Shocked releases shockbolts when the target is struck. Shockbolts released this way deal minor lightning damage to the nearby enemies.

Optional Skills
Embermages have countless options for offense and some crowd control options as well. None of the following skills are mandatory or required to make the Prismatic Bolt Embermage work, so the player is free to choose combination of them.
  • Elemental Attunement 5+/15
    Elemental Attunement extends the duration of elemental effects. Prismatic builds are heavily dependent on these effects, keeping them longer on bosses is important. Personally, I always max it in prismatic builds.
  • Frost Phase 1+/15
    Teleportation with knock back and a chance to freeze enemies. Even better, it actually deals quite good damage in a wide area of effect at high levels. While I don't recommend to max it in this build, one should never ignore the potential this skill has.
  • Ice Prison 15/15
    Ice Prison is the most powerful crowd control skill of the Embermage class. It is always recommended to max Ice Prison, in every build.
  • Frozen Fate 15/15
    Frozen Fate is one of the best crowd control passives in the game, possibly second only to the Shatter Storm passive of the Berserker class. When you kill a target with the frozen debuff applied, you have a chance that four other enemies become immobilized. Immobilized foes can't move or turn and most enemies can't attack players standing behind them.
  • Hailstorm 15/15
    Hailstorm greatly increases Ice and Lightning damage done by enemies. Hailstorm not only has an impressive area of effect, it does heavy damage on it's own and it's high chance to stun enemies is always helpful. It's utility to hit anything on the screen is also very useful.
  • Firestorm 15/15
    Firestorm is very similar to Hailstorm, except that it can't stun and it's original damage is dealt over time. Firestorm greatly increases fire damage taken by enemies.
  • Thunder Locus 15/15
    Thunder Locus is spawn-camping spell, it is harder, better, faster and stronger than the player. When used, a ball of lightning is summoned, which attacks everything in it's range. While it is useful to cover areas, it's most interesting feature is that Thunder Locus can damage otherwise untargetable enemies. When it is placed on a spawn point, it often kills monsters at the very moment they spawn, long before the monsters finishing their spawn animation.
  • Death's Bounty 15/15
    Stun and slow over a large area that grants health and mana regeneration. No comment needed.
  • Prismatic Rift 15/15
    Prismatic Rift is a defensive passive that teleports away enemies if they hit you. Aside from the important information that it works on most bosses, there's not much to say about it.

Skills to Avoid
Prismatic Bolt Embermages are magic builds with a quite universal main attack skill, thus skills that use weapon DPS or damage are very likely to end up being ignored. On the other hand, there are some particular skills that one most definitely avoid in the build.
  • Immolation Aura
    Immolation Aura is the number one reason why embermages ignore otherwise useful skills. It grants a minor damage reduction equal to 3 socketables and you have to recast it every minute. Instead of this I recommend everybody to choose something that isn't covered already by gear in a more convenient way.
  • Elemental Boon
    While Immolation Aura at least gives a useful buff with 100% on time, Elemental Boon has nothing like that. Elemental Boon is actually the same as the Elemental Overload spells randomly found, with some minor tweaks. Elemental Boon is just as bad as Elemental Overload. It's uptime is barely more than 50%, the bonuses are marginal. When you have ~2000 Focus translated to ~1000% bonus to all damage, that 36% won't make any difference at all.
    Elemental Boon affects all allied players and pets, but they don't care either.
Main Stats
Prismatic Bolt Embermages are straightforward, go pure Focus and gain your critical damage from your gear.
Some useless statistics are ignored, like execute-chance from focus or armor gain from vitality.

Your goal is base.
  • Improves critical damage
    Prismatic Bolt Embermages are pure spellcasters, they gain their critical damage from weapon sockets.

Your goal depends on your personal taste, you should hit 100 from your base stats.
  • Improves critical hit chance
    Critical hit chance is important to increase the character's damage output.
  • Improves dodge chance
    Dodge is unreliable and the most powerful attacks are impossible to dodge, so you don't really have to care about it.

Your main stat, you should aim for ~2000 or more.
  • Improves magic damage
    Prismatic Bolt and the Brand skills all deal magic damage, we are talking about a pure spellcaster build after all.
  • Improves elemental damage
    Damage dealt by Prismatic Bolt and the Brand skills is elemental. Actually every damage dealt by embermages is purely elemental, except for poor lil' Arc Beam, but noone likes it anyways.

If you want to use a shield, aim for enough vitality to hit block cap wit a preferred shield. It's very likely to be between 100-299 vitality, no more.
  • Improves block chance
    Not all embermages use shield, but it's not a rare sight. Blocking is a quite reliable way of mitigating incoming damage, but sometimes it's just better to not get hit in the first place.
Prismatic Bolt Embermage is one of the most straightforward things in gear, you need as much Focus as you can get.

Prismatic Bolt Embermages are purely spellcasters, their weapon is nothing, but a stat stick. If you want to squeeze the highest damage output from your embermage, dual wands are the way to go. As long as you have the socketables, anything works with sockets.
While it's always recommended with pure spellcasters to use a shield, Prismatic Bolt Embermages can use heavy crowd control to prevent taking damage.
One important thing, that Prismatic Bolt needs less casting speed, the the main source of the damage are the Brands and they have a hidden cooldown.
  • Netherrealm Wand
    Prismatic Bolt Embermages never use their auto-attack, but it looks less weird than an axe. Socket it for critical damage with Rambren Skulls and critical hit chance with Skull of Whorlbarb.
  • Netherrealm Axe
    Okay, I hate to say this, but this axe is the best stat stick with it's 4 sockets and 8% critical hit chance. Again, jam the most critical damage and critical hit chance gems into it!
  • Rare Wand
    You can buy a rare wand for this purpose, any wand will do with a minimum of itemlvl 80 and 4 sockets.

Prismatic Bolt Embermage builds can go dual-wield without problem as long as they have Ice Prison and the player knows how to use it, so I'll be short on this.
One can use shields for with added cast speed or shields with high chance to block. Consider, that Prismatic Bolt gains less benefit from cast speed.
  • The Centerwing
    Mediocre itemlevel, mediocre block chance and high casting speed. It's not bad, but it's better for other builds.
  • Parma's Coal-Burner
    Maybe I mention this one too much, but this one is awesome! On the other hand, 15% casting speed is a quite good trade for 199 stat and The Centerwing looks better on outlanders...

Prismatic Bolt Embermage has a good use for an offhand weapon. Offhand in this case is a stat stick similar to the main hand. Prismatic Bolt Embermages have difficulties with reaching the critical hit chance cap and the critical damage cap too, so concentrate on the one you prefer.
See Mainhand for good offhand stat sticks.

General purpose armor is your best bet to hit damage reduction cap and gain the highest possible Focus score.
  • Damage Reduction up to 75% is required for surviving hits.
  • Focus, the more the better.
  • +X% Health.
  • +X Health.
  • +X% Mana.
  • Cast Speed, while Brands have an inner cooldown, your other abilities may benefit from cast speed.
  • Magic finding luck for loot.
  • Gold finding luck for farming money faster.
Enchant your gear with attributes by Boris, go for the most possible Focus.
General Tactics
Out of the most common cookie-cutters, Prismatic Bolt Embermages involve the most strategy. Prismatic Bolt is an auto-aim multiattack skill, that alone doesn't involve any tactics or thinking, but playing this build as it is intended requires two additional skills.

Ice Prison
Ice Prison is one of the most powerful crowd control, obviously. It is less obvious, that it can easily outDPS most other embermage skills. Of course, it's most important trait is the utility it gives.
  • Crowd Control
    Ice Prison places 10 icy pillars in a circle. It stops enemies, but is passable for allies. You can use it as a safe room, a roadblock, a prison, or a wall to block ranged attacks.
  • Nuke
    Ice Prison deals possibly the highest burst damage in the arsenal of the embermage.
    After tier1, Ice Prison deals damage when shattering. It's base damage at lvl100 is estimated around lvl2373 per pillar, which translates to 23730, higher than the maximum damage of the 3 Brand skills together. You can trigger shatter on will for an outrageous damage with casting Ice Prison again.
    After tier2, Ice Prison deals non-stacking ice damage over time to nearby enemies. While this damage is inferior to the shatter damage, it's always welcome. Enemies have no artificial intelligence set up for avoiding Ice Prison, weaker foes often die to the damage over time effect alone.
    After tier3, Ice Prison's cooldown is reduced to 2 seconds, making it possible to shatter it every 2 seconds for the previously mentioned semi-phenomenal, nearly cosmic damage.

Thunder Locus
Thunder Locus is one of the key skills of the successful endgame embermage. Thunder Locus can deal with some of the most dangerous foes or can kill off the weaker ones before they have a chance to retaliate.
  • Spawn Camping
    Thunder Locus's unique trait is the ability to target otherwise untargetable enemies. Most enemies are very likely to die instantly while they spawn if they are hit by a Thunder Locus of a well-geared embermage.
  • Trapping
    Thunder Locus has a very long duration, it is possible to place it ahead and lure enemies through it. Otherwise dangerous spellcasting and ranged enemies are die easily if they are lured in the range of the spell. Enemies have no artificial intelligence set up for avoiding Thunder Locus in any way.

Boss Tactics
Bossfights with the Prismatic Bolt Embermage are quite straightforward, spam Prismatic Bolt until elemental debuffs apply, after that just keep them on the boss and try to deal some damage to it every second.

Managing this is actually quite easy with extensive extensive use of Ice Prison, especially when it is combined by Thunder Locus. While Ice Prison easily shatters to boss attacks, you can recast it every 2 seconds, buying time to cast more Prismatic Bolts.

Ice Prison
In bossfights it's both your only crowd control and one of your heaviest nukes, as it is already mentioned. It's heavy ice damage can reset the timer on Frozen debuff as well.

Thunder Locus
In bossfight it's a way to deal periodical damage to the boss, triggering already applied Brand skills without actually attacking the boss. It's good lightning damage may help keeping the Shocked debuff on the boss.

If the player also has Hailstorm and/or Firestorm, it becomes a lot more complicated, but also a lot more effective, the Prismatic Bolt Embermage enters a "rotation" to maximize damage done.

Opening: Ice Prison => Thunder Locus => Prismatic Bolt until elemental status effects are applied
Loop: Ice Prison => Hailstorm => Ice Prison => Firestorm, rinse and repeat

As you can see, Prismatic Bolt is not part of the rotation in bossfights, it's just an opener in this case. On the other hand, If the player fails to control the fight, the player must change tactics, spamming Prismatic Bolt and Frost Phase to dodge and attack.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Improving the Build
Normally, a guide would end in the previous section, but I'm going to talk about how to improve the common build further.
Prismatic Bolt Embermage is stable, good and isn't far from optimal. You can't really improve the gear and stats, the only area open for tweaking is the skillset. If you want a better embermage, give it situational skills!
Actually, the embermage class is the god-emperor of situational skills.

Prismatic Bolt and the Brand skills are stable, but the embermage is a class with a very wide arsenal, highly tuned for situational killing as it is mentioned above. While you can kill stuff dead by spamming Prismatic Bolt alone, it's faster to kill stuff dead with the right skill.
  • Prismatic Bolt
    Prismatic Bolt is solid, it's auto-target, multiattack and it procs three other skills easily, each doing heavy damage. It's a universal skill, easy-to-use and effective. It shines as a main skill.
  • Brands
    Heavy damage, low cooldown, excellent passives.
  • Ice Prison
    There is two reason to pick Ice Prison, one is the crowd control, the other is the extreme burst damage. It's a useful skill to use in crowds, but it shines in bossfights as well.
    See Tactics section.
  • Thunder Locus
    Thunder Locus is also a useful skill, it's the best defense in the form of offense.
    See Tactics section.
  • Hailstorm
    Hailstorm increases ice and electric damage done multiplicative. Most of the time, Prismatic Bolt Embermages have no real need for this, but Hailstorm doesn't require line of sight and it's high chance to stun is also useful.
    Hailstorm increases the damage of both Ice Prison and Thunder Locus.
  • Firestorm
    While Firestrom is the less useful, it shares many traits of Hailstorm. Of course, this means Firestrom is somewhat redundant, but the increase in fire damage is still good if someone can insert it into the damage rotation. On the other hand, Firestorm is the only fitting skill to replace Prismatic Bolt's fire element in a bossfight, entering a rotation.
  • Elemental Attunement
    On harder difficulties, the character needs to move more often to dodge attacks. Elemental Attunement increases the duration of elemental status effects, so the character has more time to use different spells and move around between two Prismatic Bolts.
  • Frozen Fate
    Frozen Fate stops approaching enemies, so the character encounters less enemies. Immobilize is extremely effective against melee attackers.

Prismatic Bolt and all the spells used in the build deal elemental magic damage, the character is a pure spellcaster. As always, pure spellcaster goes with pure focus, leaving critical damage to weapon sockets.
  • Strength
    No strength.
  • Dexterity
    Only enough dexterity to increases critical chance effectively, around 2-300 is good enough with gear.
  • Focus
    2000+ Focus, enchant weapons and shields for stats as well for even more.
  • Vitality
    If you use a shield, go for 100-255, depending on the choosen shield. If you don't, leave vitality at base.

Prismatic Bolt Embermages have a hard time with critical hit chance and critical damage. While outlanders can rely on their naturally high critical hit chance, berserkers can rely on their frenzy and gear and engineers just don't give a [swearword here] about critical hit chance, embermages are a different breed.
Okay, let's face it, your embermage won't go pure focus and reach max critical hit chance and critical damage cap as easily as a glaivelander does, but your embermage will have fun having 2million crits with Ice Prison while the glaivelander cries about manacosts on the forums.

Mainhand and Offhand are nothing more, than a stat sticks for pure spellcasters. With Brands having an internal cooldown you have to concentrate less on casting speed. Also, you have to choose between a shield and an offhand.
Never forget that you can go dualwield, Ice Prison offers you a really powerful crowd control and defense, shield is just redundant if you use Ice Prison tactically.
    Netherrealm Wand and Netherrealm Axe are the potential stat sticks you can grab, the latter being the better, the former looking less stupid in your character's hands. Anyway, socket Rambren Skulls and Skull of Whorlbarbs into them, preferring critical damage over critical hit chance.
Author's Epilogue
Okay, this was a hard one, but I enjoyed it after the boring glaivelander stuff. Now that this is finished, mostly, I can concentrate on stuff that is less mainstream, but a lot more effective, namely Shooty outlander and Shocking Orb embermage. Yeah, those are actually rapingly overpowered compared to the mainstream builds.

While I wrote this guide, I managed to build some good stuff, reworked my Blizzard /Frost+Storm/ embermage into a better Frostfire build.

Also, in the same time I realised, that a Shooty may want to have all Chaos Burst, Rapid Fire and Venomous Hail at the same time, my Shocking Orb embermage became a hammerwielding madman and I managed to develop an eternal hatred against glaivelanders, 'cause half of the Runic forum is whining about outlander manacosts...

Now with the general cookie-cutters I'll turn to some stuff that's a lot more fun!

Thank you for reading this guide and if you liked it, stay tuned for more!
Kardfogu  [author] Nov 25, 2022 @ 5:54am 
Depends on. I would say if you want an easy time - and Prismatic Embermage is all about ease of use -, level Thunder Locus, Hail Storm and Frozen Fate as fast as you can, these skills will carry you through all the things you don't want to directly confront.
Mrs. Nopal's Baby Boy Nov 25, 2022 @ 3:43am 
@Kardfogu. Interesting. I'm on Elite difficulty and fairly early. I'm mostly trying to dodge attacks and group up enemies. (No other abilities yet). Aside from leveling Prismatic Bolt, what would be the first skill to start ranking? Frost Phase?
Kardfogu  [author] Nov 25, 2022 @ 3:06am 
@Jerroxix: Charge Mastery is best to skip, it doesn't contribute to the build, lategame Embermages tend to enter the Total Concentration state after a single spell cast.
Mrs. Nopal's Baby Boy Nov 24, 2022 @ 1:33pm 
Would Charge Mastery be good or just skip it and focus on the Brands when they unlock? Starting from scratch and haven't played a game like this in years.
Kardfogu  [author] Jun 30, 2022 @ 12:23pm 
Holy crap, in my absence a lot of things happened it seems!
@Warboss: that's some good material, I have to say, it's great to watch someone having so much fun!
@Revan: Animal Handling, Barter, Concentration, Treasure Hunter are the best ones.
@RyeEncoke: Prismatic Bolt has a chance to apply all the debuffs.
@Junior's Taco Shop: Not great, but with a shield it's viable. I have finished elite hardcore with summon engineer and excessive farming of minion damage eye gems.
@Hipernape: Yes, base is literally putting 0 points in there, sorry, it's Diablo guide lingo to use "base" instead of a number.
@Coach's Coach: I will, I kind of returned from the dead. Nothing serious just life happened.
Coach's Coach Jan 19, 2021 @ 10:29pm 
Show us the shocking orb embermage guide please! :)
Hibernape Nov 12, 2020 @ 4:22am 
When this says "Your goal is base." for the main stats, what exactly does it mean? Do I not put any points into it at all?
spy Mar 28, 2020 @ 3:39pm 
My next charecter is gonna be another embermage but lightning im using ice right now:steamhappy:
Junior's Taco Shop Dec 7, 2019 @ 8:45pm 
Thanks for the guide, I was wondering how viable prismatic bolt embermages are for hardcore?
Rye Encoke Jun 26, 2019 @ 7:47pm 
In the section about brands, you say the brands can't proc if the debuff isn't applied...what applies the debuff?