Preview of /devices guide




(Please don't move this to Player Guides yet. This is a draft, for which I'm seeking feedback. I'll post a finished guide in Player Guides when it's done.)

Left to your own /devices: A guide to the Devices secondary

It was the best of sets, it was the worst of sets. The /devices set has long been regarded as the weakest of the blaster secondaries, and that's because it is. However, "weakest" doesn't necessarily mean "weak"; the set is viable, playable, and even (for some people) fun. This guide gives an overview of the set, some notes about how to use it, some historical review of why the set is the way it is, and some notes for people coming from a traps set, or considering giving up on devices in favor of traps.

I'm starting, not with the review of the powers, but with the FAQ. The powers are only interesting if you like the feel of the set; if you don't like how the set feels, it doesn't matter what the statistics are.

Who should play /devices?

If you are looking for the best set for steamrolling content, look elsewhere. The /devices set's strengths are all about setup and preparation. If you're steamrolling content, the set is marginal, and you generally won't use it. You don't get a "Build Up" power. You don't get hard-hitting melee attacks. Your immobilize doesn't do damage.

If you're soloing, /devices can be an amazing set. It's not always fast, but there is something wonderful about watching a x8 spawn melt away without getting to make a single attack against you. No, I'm not exaggerating. Now, it'll take a few minutes to set up, and it won't work every time, but you can do that.

If you want to play a Natural origin blaster with a secondary that makes sense, /devices is your only choice. All of the others would require some kind of amazing technology, magic, mutation, or whatnot; only /devices is built around things that are at least conceivably within the realm of non-superhero technology. If you want to play a superspy, half blaster and half stalker, you might like /devices.

Here is what I do for a typical spawn, when soloing. I find the spawn. I find a nearby corner. I spend a couple of minutes laying down a field of trip mines between the spawn and the corner. I smoke grenade them. I set up a time bomb in the spawn. I walk around the corner. If any of them actually survive (usually they don't), I might have to actually use one of my primary powers. Otherwise, I have just killed them all without them even being able to target me once. I move on.

If that sounds fun, you might want to play a /devices blaster. If that sounds tedious and unfun, you probably ought to look at other sets.

Why is /devices weak?

The /devices set has never really been updated to fit the modern CoH game. Before ED and IOs, Targeting Drone meant that you could put one more damage enhancement, and one less accuracy, in most powers. That translated into a substantial damage increase -- figure about 10-15% compared to a blaster who had to slot for more accuracy. Now, most people will have damage at the ED cap, and with set bonuses, they may well have plenty of accuracy without even explicitly slotting for it. Targeting Drone went from a pretty decent power to a sort of mediocre power. It's still better than nothing, but it's not at all obvious that it's better than a pool power, or better than not using it and saving your endurance.

Similarly, Cloaking Device was a really nice stealth, back when there were no Stealth IOs. Now, it's not great. It's not awful, and it helps that it stacks with Stealth IOs, but it's a mediocre to pitiful amount of defense (especially since only part of it is available when you're in combat), and stealth is not in and of itself all that useful most of the time.

The big central flaw, though, becomes clear when you look at time bomb and trip mines. The powers that ought to be among the set's star players are utterly useless once combat starts; they are essentially impractical to use except by setting up before combat. On a fast team, the average spawn will be dead in the time it takes you to set up a time bomb, rendering the power completely pointless.

Quite simply, /devices was not built for CoH the way it is actually played.

How does /devices compare to traps/ or /traps?

The traps/ defender set is widely regarded as an amazing set. The reason is clear if you look at a few of the powers that traps/ has and /devices doesn't. Look at Triage Beacon, Acid Mortar, Force Field Generator, Poison Gas Trap, and Seeker Drones. Do you know what they have in common? They aren't interruptible. You can use them in combat. And that means that you can actually get substantial utility from them. Furthermore, with the better defense of FFG, a traps/ defender can toe bomb with a reasonable hope of success even after a fight has started; a /devices blaster has to build very, very, carefully to get enough defense to be able to use any powers in combat.

Defenders get less mileage from Trip Mines and Time Bomb than blasters; for blasters, at least it does enough damage to be potentially worth the hassle. For defenders, it does very little damage. (Corruptors, however, might consider it as a situational power.) Masterminds replace Time Bomb with Detonator, but Trip Mines is pretty useful everywhere.

If you really want to use the /devices powers actively in combat, on teams, consider going with a traps/ defender, or /traps corruptor, instead.

Why would anyone play /devices, then?

Because this game is not fundamentally about efficiency of builds. It's about building a character that looks cool to you. It's about awesome super heroes doing amazing things and being stunning. If you have never seen a /devices blaster wiping out a spawn with mines, it's hard to appreciate just how awesome it looks; the ragdoll physics in CoH really shines on handling large numbers of enemies hitting mines with decent knockback.

I play /devices because I love the way it plays, and don't care that it's inefficient. I sit around watching TV while I set up nests of trip mines. I wander through missions arranging to one-shot the one and only enemy on the map I need to kill, without bothering to kill everyone else. Sure, I get less loot and XP and inf. But my superspy stealth infiltrator is playing like a superspy stealth infiltrator, not like a muscle-bound idiot. So I'm happy.

So about those powers.

I'm not gonna lean too hard on what powers you should or shouldn't take. With I19, blasters are no longer paying the three-pick "fitness" tax, and it's now quite possible that it's reasonable for you to take everything in your primary and secondary without feeling like you're missing out too much.

Web Grenade

You have to take it. This is not as bad as it sounds. Immobilize, shimmobilize. What matters is that this power gives a solid -recharge penalty. Oh, and a -fly. But the -recharge is what really makes this sorta useful. Feel free to spam this on really tough targets, even targets you can't actually immobilize with it.

Slotting: Accuracy, immobilize, endredux. Recharge is already decent.
If you're like me, you read the description, thought about how little "minor" damage sounded like, and looked for something else. I'm gonna ask you to do something crazy. Read the "Detailed Info" of this power before you make that decision.

Did you notice the words "magnitude 50.00" in there? I bet you did. Yes, this power has a magnitude 50 fear effect. Enemies will run away from caltrops. You know what enemies do while they're running? They don't attack. Not only will enemies run to the edge of caltrops; if they prefer melee, and they've tried a couple of times to get to you, they will sometimes run away to the far end of the map trying to find a path to you that does not go through caltrops.

Oh, and while they're running away? They're doing it with an 80% or so slow. Anything that isn't slow-resistant will be running away from you in slow motion.

Put caltrops on a corner, stand around the side, and take pot shots at the people who occasionally slow up. Drop caltrops under your feet and just stand there shooting. It's all good. Effective use of caltrops makes /devices a much, much, better set than it would be otherwise.

Slotting: A little recharge is all you really need. Damage is pretty trivial (though it can add up on a large group), but consider a damage proc, such as the Impeded Swiftness chance for smashing damage. It'll only fire every 10 seconds, but it fires right away when you drop the caltrops.
It's a stun. Magnitude 3, meaning lieutenants but not bosses. Whether you want this or not is largely a function of whether your primary has a stun. My main /devices character is a dual pistols blaster, and while the primary has a stun, the stun is converted to a hold when using special ammo, meaning no stacking without a lot of toggle management. Not especially rewarding. Still, it's a stun that you can use to keep a lieutenant locked down if you slot it for stun duration and recharge. Not awful, but probably skippable.

Slotting: acc/stun/rech, mostly.
Targeting Drone
The to-hit bonus isn't awful. If you're not clear on the difference between to-hit and accuracy, the answer is that to-hit is multiplied by accuracy. If you have a 10% to-hit bonus, and a power with 1.6 total accuracy, your chance-to-hit is 16% higher with that power, not 10% higher. This also gives resistance to to-hit debuffs and a perception bonus. Overall, I like it; worth taking.

Slotting: Consider a Gaussian's set for it; note that the set bonus may be more important than the actual effect on your to-hit.

The chance-for-build-up proc is debated in here. It's a 5% chance to fire, for 5 seconds, every 10 seconds. What that means is that you get about 2.5% extra damage from it, which is pretty minor. On the other hand, you don't have a real "Build Up" power in your secondary, so it's perhaps better than nothing. The down side is the lack of control; some people would rather put the proc in Aim in their primary, so even though they'll get fewer fires of the proc, they're more likely to be at useful times. (Not all primaries have Aim, mind you; if you're a dual pistols blaster, your only option would be here.)
Smoke Grenade
A very nice power. The -tohit penalty isn't huge, but it's significant; comparable to a minor to-hit debuff power in some of the debuff sets. The -perception penalty is very nice. If two spawns are close together, this lets you kill one without the other noticing. If you have cloaking device, but no stealth IO (or vice versa), this gives enough -perception to make you effectively invisible to the victims. Even without them, you may be able to sneak by some groups.

Slotting: I slot for a bit of recharge and a bit of to-hit debuff. Might be an okay set mule, if you find a to-hit debuff set you dearly love.
Cloaking Device
Not awful, not awesome. Cloaking Device compares favorably to the Concealment pool Stealth power, because it has no movement penalty, but the movement penalty isn't that significant. The defense bonus is fairly trivial. Strengths are that this power takes defense sets, and that it stacks with stealth IOs. With this on, and a stealth IO active, you are effectively invisible except to things like Rikti drones, snipers, etcetera. (And remember that Smoke Grenade can help some with those.)

You can replace this with other powers, but they're not necessarily better; it's just that CD isn't that much better than the other powers. It's not a great power for a secondary set, but if you want stealth, it's still probably better than the other ways of getting it.

Slotting: Defense sets! If you didn't take combat jumping or hover, put your kismet +accuracy here. (Or don't bother; you may not need it since you have targeting drone.) Or just put in a defense/endurance, or straight endredux.
Trip Mines
One of the real shining points of the set. Trip mines are slow to set up, but the damage is impressive. Mines last until something triggers them (by coming near them) or about four minutes, and you can set them up in 25 seconds unenhanced. (About five seconds of activation for the power, 20 seconds recharge.) Enhance for recharge, accuracy, and damage. Endurance really doesn't matter; even with incredible recharge, you're still looking at around 12-15 seconds per mine, so if you have at least 1 endurance per second recovery, you cannot run out of blue placing these.

One of the reasons this power is liked despite the slow setup is the option of toe-bombing: Run into a spawn and plant a mine; it goes off essentially immediately, doing decent damage to everything nearby, plus knockback. Once a fight has started, though, you have to be careful; the power is interruptible, and as a blaster, you probably don't have awesome defenses. You can also drop a trip mine at your feet before you start blasting. If you pick up aggro from something, and it runs up to you... boom.

Trip mines will not go off if you are too far away from them when something runs over them; I don't know the exact distance, but it seems to be around 60-80 feet, which is to say, blast range. The blast is delayed a bit from triggering. The down side is that if you have a string of these, a single minion can trigger three or four before taking damage from them. Some creatures will actually get out of range before the mine triggers, taking no damage. For best results, stack them at corners and wait around the corner.

To get good results from trip mines, you need to have a bit of setup time, and you need to know where creatures will be going. A tank who wants to work with you on this can do a great job of moving things over mines. Usually, this isn't worth the effort on a team, but if you end up in a bit over your heads, the option of doing a ton of extra damage is really worth it.

Slotting: Obliteration is a great set for trip mines; lots of recharge, not much worry about -endurance. Global recharge is also your friend.
Time Bomb
The great thing about Time Bomb is that, when you make level 35 on your /devices blaster, you can pick literally ANY pool power.

Okay, it's not quite that bad. But it's pretty bad. The issue is that Time Bomb goes off at a fixed time. Your other powers let you set up a kill zone which will screw up your enemies when they come to you. If you try to use Time Bomb that way, you will spend a lot of time being disappointed.

If you do not get a stealth IO and a stealth power, don't bother with Time Bomb. It's useless to you. If, however, you took them, give it a second look. With invisibility, you can walk into a spawn, use Time Bomb, and walk away. You now have 15 seconds to get... wherever. Say, on the other end of a field of trip mines.

What Time Bomb offers you, with invisibility or comparable stealth, is the ability to open a fight with an attack against which the enemy cannot retaliate. If you shoot an enemy, everything in the spawn that has line of sight to you can shoot you. Every attack power you have is vulnerable to this... except Time Bomb. Which goes off at a time when you've walked around a corner.

The damage isn't much higher than trip mines, but Time Bomb has more knockback, and a significantly larger radius (20' instead of 12'). Most of the time, this will hit an entire spawn if you place it in the center of the spawn.

Slotting: Again, Obliteration.
Gun Drone
This power is... sorta mediocre. Not awful, not great. The good news is: It does damage, it can take aggro off you. The bad news is a fairly long recharge, an excessive activation time, and a ludicrous endurance cost. A couple of slots of some recharge-intensive pets set, plus some global recharge, and you can keep this out pretty much all the time. You can't stack them, so don't bother trying.

This used to be a stationary turret, and that was worse; making it mobile means it can stay with you for its entire minute and thirty seconds, making it useful for two or three spawns. Again, not so useful on teams (where the activation time is a killer), but it can be a life saver solo, where it's extra damage and some potential aggro mitigation.

Slotting: Pick up some recharge intensive pet stuff, probably. Don't bother with the defense/resistance procs, you aren't really pet specialized, and the gun drone doesn't pick up that much aggro.
So, Primaries

The /devices set can be useful with any primary. Thematically, it goes especially well with archery, assault rifle, and dual pistols. Here, you will find the one benefit of the pre-combat setup aspect of /devices: Less redraw in combat. Most of your /devices use was done before the first shot was fired. If your primary has a stun, that will give synergy with Taser, allowing you to keep a typical boss locked down.

The dual pistols set has no aim. This is, well, annoying. A dp/dev blaster has no good options for boosting primary damage output.

Assault rifle, unique among blast sets, gets a damage bonus to its snipe from targeting drone. No one has any idea why that applies only to AR.

Energy's knockback can be much more useful coupled with your ability to set up trip mines and defenses; you can knock people into mines, or back over caltrops. Lots of potential there.

Fundamentally, though, if you pick /devices, it is your primary; it is the set which defines how you play, and your "primary" is going to be used in ways consistent with /devices, or you're going to hate your character. The other secondaries tend to be used to support your blast set and maybe give you a bit of flavor. They have comparable basic functionality; some sort of immobilize, some melee attacks. None of them will encourage you to spend five minutes setting up for a fight. None of them allow you to wipe out an entire spawn without using a single attack from your primary.



When discussing complementary sets for /Devices, it's worth pointing out the synergy between Assault Rifle.Ignite and Devices.Web Grenade. Ignite creates a small, extremely high damage burn patch with an Afraid effect so enemies will tend to leave it rather than taking damage. Web Grenade prevents enemies from leaving the burn patch. Hilarity ensues. Particularly notable here: AV-class enemies have poor protection from immobilization and can be immobilized with two applications of Web Grenade.

Of course, the synergy is also present for AR and Traps.

Avatar by Toxic_Shia
Why MA ratings should be changed from stars to "like" or "dislike"
A better algorithm for ordering MA arcs



Actually Seebs if you get your global recharge from IO's and throw hasten on top you can stack gun drones to have two out at once. That and if you watch the drone after it's been summoned they appear (but unsure if they're affected) to come out with any buff or insp activated on you activated on them as well. Seen it for a fact when my gun drones come out with the hasten glow around them, or circling purples after popping a luck. Course this was pre I19, I'd have to double check it again now.

Granted it takes a lot of work, my 50 ice/dev has her alpha uncommon incarnate recharge, and virtually every power from LRM rocket to web grenade slotted with a set that offers a recharge bonus of some kind. That and a Lotg global recharge bonus in cloaking. No purple sets yet though.

But it is doable. I've got about 20-25 seconds now where I can summon double drones before the first explodes. And I'll need to test this too, but I think they'll offer double defiance buffs not only to you but themselves as well.

Now on teams? Yeah it's slow and the end cost is HORRID. If you're steamrolling it's just above trip mine on not adding much. And you'll probably take flack for wasting all that time to summon a drone when you could be blasting. But as I play that character more like a blastroller (having ice's double holds with munitions freeze ray is fun!) or as i jokingly call her "A tactical weapons platform" it doesn't bother me much. I'm not as flashy as a fire, but all that ST damage from drones and the 3 ST attacks in Ice piles up when you're dealing with the harder AV's.

As an example I remember an ITF where the double drones actually really helped us to do a number on Rom due to a team high on defense and low on damage dealers. A team that actually complimented me on all the firepower. Hehe not every day you see gun drone get that. =p

One other mostly solo use? With cloak it's great for ensuring that the drone does take that alpha/sapper/hold/whatever as you lure it over to mobs, then pop from cloak and go to town on them. Usually it's got the HP to pull it off too.

Also good first draft, looking forward to the formal guide.



Huh, someone had told me that the gun drone was like FFG, where trying to summon a new one dispels the old one. I haven't got quite enough recharge to see -- I would have about two seconds to complete the animation. Maybe in a couple more set bonuses.

Good thought about having the gun drone take the alpha, I hadn't thought of that.



I've used Gun Drone in that manner before also. While invis summon drone in the center of a mob. It's worth making a note of it. I learned this from playing Traps. A low lvl trapper before they have access to Posion Trap and Seeker Drones can actully summon his FFG into a center of a mob and have it tank the alpha.



yes you can have two gun drones up and it is wonderful. Of course my rech sucks but I have 2 up for about 15 secs



Traps trip mine on corruptors does the same damage as blaster trip mine. Likely does the same damage on defenders.



I like putting a damage proc in web grenade. It's not much, but it is a chance for damage, particularly if you are spamming it for -recharge anyway,

I don't suffer from altitis, I enjoy every minute of it.

Thank you Devs & Community people for a great game.

So sad to be ending ):



Good observations and well written. The FAQ section objectively presents the pros and cons of the set so players can make an informed decision about whether to choose it.

Your suggestions also made me reconsider certain powers that I had previously rejected, like Smoke Grenade and, dare I say it, Time Bomb.

I'd like to suggest that you mention Teleport Foe in conjunction with Caltrops and/or Trip Mines. As you pointed out, /devices excels in the area of preparing the battlefield ahead of time. Teleport Foe gives you the option of playing divide-and-conquer against problematic enemies and bringing them to you. For example, I have laid down minefields, covered them with Caltrops and then teleported Malta Sappers and Carnie Illusionists into the zone of death. When you're using Cloaking Device, it's relatively easy to get a teleportation lock on the bad guys without drawing aggro yourself in the process. (excluding certain enemies you already mentioned) Because mines don't always blow up when an enemy enters their detonation radius, the caltrops slow down their escape efforts and give the mines more chances to go off.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Looking forward to reading the completed guide.



Should also probably mentione that Gun Drone is a very nice DPS boost when it only has ONE target to shoot at, like in an EB/AV fight.

Also worth mentioning, in passing at least, that if your primary is Sonic, you don't need a stealth power at all for Time Bomb, as long as there is no boss in the mob. Siren's Song will sleep the entire mob, and it lasts longer than the set up time for Time Bomb.

Originally Posted by Dechs Kaison
See, it's gems like these that make me check Claws' post history every once in a while to make sure I haven't missed anything good lately.