PoE Versatile Combatant Keystone: Mechanics and Potential use in different builds
Welcome to our Path of Exile Keystone Highlight series, where we delve into the mechanics, interactions, and use cases of various keystones and passive skills in Path of Exile. In today's article, we will be discussing Versatile Combatant, a keystone with an interesting history. Formerly a Gladiator ascendancy notable, it was changed in functionality and added to the passive tree in patch 3.16. Let's explore the mechanics of Versatile Combatant, its interactions, and its potential use in different builds.
- The Downsides: Reduced Maximum Block Chance
- Popularity and Favorability of Block Mechanics
- Upside: Increased Spell Block Chance
- Strategic Placement on the Passive Tree
- Building Sufficient Block Chance
- Other Considerations
- Synergy with Unique Jewels and Defensive Mechanics
↖ The Downsides: Reduced Maximum Block Chance
Versatile Combatant comes with three modifiers. The first two modifiers impose a downside, reducing the maximum chance to block both attack and spell damage by 25%. The baseline maximum chance to block is 75%, and this keystone reduces it to 50%. This reduction is significant because modifiers to maximum chance to block are rare. Some notable sources include ascendancy passives, amulets, unique items like The Anvil, and certain passive skill tree wheels. Due to the limited availability of these modifiers, the downside of Versatile Combatant can have a substantial impact on your character's block chance.
↖ Popularity and Favorability of Block Mechanics
Block mechanics, including both attack and spell block, have become less popular since the defensive changes in patch 3.16. Previously, block was considered one of the top-tier defensive mechanics alongside Dodge. However, in the current game, players generally prefer investing in more reliable defenses. As a result, block-based builds have become less prevalent.
↖ Upside: Increased Spell Block Chance
The unique aspect of Versatile Combatant is its upside. It grants +2% chance to block spell damage for each 1% overcapped chance to block attack damage. This means that once you reach the maximum chance to block attack damage, any additional sources of chance to block attack damage also grant double that amount as spell block chance. This is especially valuable because modifiers that increase spell block chance are harder to find compared to those that increase attack block chance.
↖ Strategic Placement on the Passive Tree
Versatile Combatant's location on the passive tree is crucial to its effectiveness. The closest additional chance to block spell nodes are located near the Templar start area, making them less accessible. Gear-wise, gaining substantial amounts of spell block is more limited than attack block, particularly with dual-wielding or staff setups. This makes Versatile Combatant especially valuable for characters on the lower side of the passive tree, enabling them to gain significant spell block without heavy investments in gear or other mechanics like Tempest Shield.
↖ Building Sufficient Block Chance
To cap both attack and spell block chance using Versatile Combatant, you will need a baseline 75% chance to block attack damage. Dual wielding inherently provides 15% chance to block attack damage, and you can gain an additional 22% chance to block attacks from nearby passive skill tree wheels. For dual-wielding builds, gaining significant attack block chance requires more investment compared to shield or staff setups. Shields can roll up to 15% chance to block attack damage as a suffix modifier, and the shield wheels on the passive skill tree provide extra attack block chance. Combining these sources, you can almost reach the cap of 50% for both attack and spell block chance using Versatile Combatant.
↖ Other Considerations
Certain unique shields, such as Dawnbreaker, offer high block chance and can be beneficial for achieving the desired block percentages. The Ascendant Necromancer notable and Ancestral Bond can also help gain a decent amount of both attack and spell block chance. Additionally, the Ann's Heritage unique shield, despite its downside, can be used to gain spell block chance with lower investment if your attack block chance is already overcapped.
↖ Synergy with Unique Jewels and Defensive Mechanics
Versatile Combatant has synergy with the Dissolution of the Flesh unique jewel. This jewel reserves life loss from damage for a brief period, allowing for avoidance-based strategies. This keystone provides an opportunity to gain avoidance and buy time for the reservation period, especially for builds on the lower side of the passive tree that struggle to gain spell block.
Versatile Combatant is a keystone that offers the potential to gain substantial spell block chance on builds that may otherwise struggle to acquire it. While it comes with a significant trade-off by reducing attack block chance, it can be valuable for characters utilizing other defensive layers. The keystone's popularity is currently limited due to the type of builds favored in the game. However, for builds utilizing shields and seeking low-investment spell block options, Versatile Combatant can be a strong defensive mechanic, particularly when combined with other defensive strategies like evasion and spell suppression.
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