Content of the article: "On Crackling Lance"
This is what one of my guild leaders has to say about Crackling Lance. I thought it was worth sharing
Fundamentally, as PoE is these days the best way to play is to do damage while moving around. This include ED + Contagion, Caustic Arrow, Summoners, Cyclone builds, Blade Vortex, Totem builds, Brand builds etc. The other way to play is to do a hit and kite type playstyle like with traps, slam skills and various bow builds. The final and most difficult method to play PoE is to stand there and channel or cast repeated as in the case of Intensify. Scourge Arrow and Divine Ire are the two main channeling skills that work mainly because they have fast build-up and huge payoff.
Crackling Lance has a very limited application as a skill. It has to be self casted repeatedly to be a better Arc on paper. Using it with traps, mines, totems, brands etc. is very suboptimal which means you have to go the fast cast speed route. This also locks you out of certain self cast mechanics like Unleash and even Spell Echo because the skills built in Intensify does not work with these.
The fast cast speed requirement also means that you need very high mana sustain. You can't really use it with Archmage because the cast speed requirement is too high and you will burn your mana before Crackling Lance comes online. Which is why Archmage players play Arc + Unleash, they get multiple casts on Arc with a single press. You can self sustain Crackling Lance with leech mechanics but you are foregoing a huge defense/sustain and power that comes from high mana Archmage builds.
And then you have the added issue of needing to be standing still to do damage with it which is a huge risk. Not having huge mana pool + having to stand still = quick deaths. Channeling skills have superior support for channeling with various nodes on tree plus the Infused Channeling skill which gives major defensive bonuses. Intensify as a mechanic gives no defensive bonus. There is a keystone on cluster jewels that gives bonuses for standing still (Natures Vines I think) but you can just use it on channeling skills instead to be even tankier.
I can ignore all of this of the pay off was worth it. If getting to 4 stacks allowed me to fire off a massively damaging beam… it might be worth it. As it is a lvl5 Intensify Crackling Lance hit is only marginally better than a single Arc hit which has no pre-requisite. That's very very bad. On top of that, the hitbox on the kill is super finicky. The initial cone of lightning can often miss enemies to the side of you and the beam itself is super narrow.
You often need to cast then reposition mid battle for better angle and spacing which causes you to lose stacks instantly. And on the other extreme, sometimes you are focusing down a rare but you have stragglers as well so you need to either keep standing still and risk getting hit by trash mobs from side or reposition to deal with trash but then you lose damage on rares.
Here are my proposed changes to CL and Intensify:
*You don't lose stacks on using a mobility skill like Lightning Warp. This would make it better for bossing. You can still lose stacks on normal moving and kiting. Or you can do the opposite, kting has a longer grace period for losing stacks but movement skills reset instantly.
*Spell Echo should count for Intensity stacks. You are already locked in place and you want to be using Spell Echo on these builds anyway. And they showed it off in the trailer as well…
*Intensity stacks also give physical and elemental damage reduction similar to Infused Channeling. This buff lingers a bit longer than Intensity stack drop off. More defensive bonuses on tree for Intensify or standing still. I would also very much like increased mana regeneration rate while at high Intensity stacks.
*Crackling Lance initial shotgun has a wider angle at close range and has a beam in the center that does more damage. The damage should be significantly buffed even for uncharged casts and you do more damage in center (but still weaker than Arc).
*Crackling Lance tendrils don't completely disappear on stacks, they just get a bit narrower. The center beam gets much thicker and much more damaging than current so it hits stragglers too.
*Archmage probably needs another nerf. Right now there is very little reason to go non Archmage lightning build. This makes fast cast speed non Archmage spell builds inferior to Archmage when Archmage can use stuff like Orb of Storms, Storm Brand, Unleash etc. Maybe instead of nerfing Archmage they can introduce a new support gem or a new keystone defence to reward the Intensify/repeated cast/standing still playstyle further. It's not just about damage but defense and sustain as well. This could be a good opportunity to buff Inquisitor as well since that is the "stand in place" caster ascendancy that is supposed to work with Intensify mechanics.
TL;DR: Intensify playstyle lacks both sustain and defense to make it worth going over channeling skills for self cast stand in place playstyle. Crackling Lance lacks damage and versatility compared to Arc and Archmage builds. In addition, the AoE coverage + damage balance of Crackling Lance is very finnicky.
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