There are fairly frequently questions about various Storm Summoning abilities and powers posted, and RainV, myself, and others are often answering the same questions or correcting the same misconceptions over and over. Being a Storm Summoning/Energy Blast Defender, who has been active on the boards, and participated in the beta test for almost two months (having had the opportunity to use and test EVERY power in the Storm Summoning set in beta), I thought I’d take a stab at writing up a guide describing the powers and their effects, with some extra tidbits thrown in.
This guide is inspired by innermoppet’s (aka Goldenstar on the CoH Forums) Not in the Face: A guide to Invulnerability Powers. This isn’t intended to be an ultimate, authoritative guide to the Storm Summoning powers and the Powerset, but rather a good reference for information about the powers to promote understanding of the powers and aid people in making informed decisions about their power choices and/or character plans. Different players will find and develop different uses and tactics for employing their powers, and different playstyles will find more use in certain powers and less in others; Your Mileage May Vary.
As less specific information has been published about many of the varied effects of Storm Summoning powers, hard numbers are lacking in many places. If you see something you believe erroneous, you have some additional or more specific information on a power, or you decide to go and test some specific aspect of a power and have new data to provide, please feel free to respond with that information. Once enough additional bits of info come to light, I’ll update the guide to include the new information (and try to credit people where possible).
This guide is written from the viewpoint of a Defender – Controllers reading this guide may not find it as applicable or useful to them, though the information on the powers should still be pretty accurate.
Storm Summoning is a powerset that can be somewhat difficult to categorize. It does a little bit of many things, but it’s not really the BEST at any specific thing (other than perhaps mob positioning). It has a bit of healing, some buffing, some debuffing, some crowd control, elements of damage mitigation. Most of its powers have multiple effects, and some of them can be subtle. Storm Summoning is prized by some of its players as being the most versatile and adaptable of the Defender powersets – a Jack of All Trades, Master of None sort of thing. Some of its powers are flashy, some are rather understated. Storm Summoning is famed for being very toggle-heavy, and depending upon playstyle, this can indeed be the case.
Gale (Available at level 1): Gale is a cone effect attack that calls forth rushing winds towards a targeted opponent (also affecting other mobs within the cone). Gale, when it hits, deals a small amount of smashing damage to affected foes, and knocks them back a pretty considerable distance. The primary point of this power is the knockback. Gale can be useful for knocking foes away from you, away from allies/teammates, or for mob positioning (blowing stragglers back in towards a group, creating a more AoE convenient “clump”, or blowing a mob or mobs back into an AoE radius).
It is commonly considered that the most important enhancements for Gale are Accuracy enhancements. According to the Hero Planner, Gale has an inherent -10% Accuracy penalty. Gale is a power that when you use it . . . you generally really want it to work, so Accuracy is prized. Other popular enhancements after Accuracy are Cone Range and Knockback Distance. The damage component to Gale is very minor – enhancing heavily for damage on Gale will give you unimpressive results.
Gale is a power that people tend to either love or hate. It’s not universally useful. It takes practice and familiarity to use it to achieve consistent results – knowing what your cone range is, knowing the distance mobs will be knocked back, etc. Many melee characters (Tankers and Scrappers) or characters trying to set up for AoE attacks can very easily be annoyed by the Knockback from Gale. If you elect to take this power, THINK before using it. One of the quickest ways to give people a bad impression of the power, or of Storm Summoners in general, is by wantonly and randomly Galing mobs around.
O2 Boost (Available at level 1): O2 Boost is a single-target, targeted heal, with a side of buffs. The buff effect of O2 Boost is a high resistance to Sleep and Disorient effects that lasts for a while after being healed. O2 Boost is a LoS (Line of Sight) heal, that requires in-range targets to be “visible” to the Storm Summoner to heal them – if they’re around a corner, or blocked by crates or stairs or so forth, you’ll get a “Target Blocked” message and won’t be able to heal someone thusly blocked. In that aspect, it is identical to Empathy’s Heal Other. O2 Boost’s single big drawback is that it’s “ally-only” – meaning you cannot use the power to heal or buff yourself.
O2 Boost is perhaps one of the most often underestimated/undervalued Storm powers. It doesn’t heal as much as an Empath Defender’s Heal Other, though it has the same endurance cost. O2 Boost is however a very quick heal, and can be recast pretty rapidly – particularly if enhanced with a Reload Reduction enhancement or two. O2 Boost also has very valuable buffs in the form of resistance to Sleep and Disorient effects. Particularly as you level up in the 20s and then the 30s, more and more mobs will have stun and mez affects. O2 Boost doesn’t protect against all of these, but it does help against many such mobs – all those who use Sleeps and Disorients (Tsoo Ink Men, Devouring Earth). Against certain villain types, the buff against those status effects may be more valuable than the actual healing the power provides.
Storm Defenders are faced with choosing between either Gale or O2 Boost at level 1. Gale may seem attractive early on, and can indeed be of help with the early levels and missions that are often tackled solo; however, Gale’s continued usefulness may wane later on when you find yourself teaming more often – particularly if you regularly team with Tankers or Scrappers who don’t want mobs blown around. O2 Boost may end up being more universally useful if you team a lot (and it’s my opinion that a Storm Defender’s true strength is in teams, even though a good Storm Summonder with most of the powers can solo very effectively, albeit perhaps slowly). If you’re planning on nearly exclusively soloing, then skip O2 Boost, as you cannot use it on yourself. If you plan to team fairly regularly with your Defender, my advice is that O2 Boost is the better choice at level 1. Gale can be picked up later if you decide you need or want that versatility, and you can make friends and potential future team/SGmates with a touch of healing at low levels as well.
The Other Side: Tsoo Sorcerors use O2 Boost to heal other Tsoo in combat against players. They have a nasty habit of teleporting in and healing something you were just about to kill.
Snow Storm (Available at Level 2): Snow Storm has the distinction of being one of only two “pure” powers in the Storm Summoning powerset, in that it does ONE thing – slows mobs. Snow Storm is a Targeted AoE power, and is a Toggle. So long as you have endurance, and the mob is alive, the power can remain active (you can toggle it off when you wish, though). Snow Storm slows both mob movement speed, and attack rate. While the first is certainly useful – makes mobs who try to flee rather easier to catch and apprehend, keeps them from being able to easily/quickly move out of the radius of an AoE (such as Freezing Rain) – the second aspect, that of slowing mob attack rates, is a form of damage mitigation. Mobs that don’t attack back as often or as quickly deal less damage to you and/or your teammates, and are thus safer to defeat.
The game has a minimum run speed of 10% of normal, and 25% of normal attack rate for both mobs and player characters. So, even a Snow Storm enhanced with 6 Slow enhancements won’t reduce a mob to moving slower than that 10% or attacking less often than a quarter of its normal rate. Snow Storm is pretty good at what it does, and enhancing it that heavily (all 6 slots) with Slow is probably overkill even if the minimum speeds weren’t a factor.
Snow Storm, being a toggle, has a relatively hefty 1.5 endurance cost per tick, so slotting it with an Endurance Reduction enhancement or two in addition to the obvious Slow enhancements will probably be a big help. An important factor in effective use of Snow Storm is in choice of which mob to “anchor” the Snow Storm on. There is no universal “best” mob type to anchor Snow Storm on, as different mob groups and different group tactics will call for different choices. A Storm Summoner will likely have to educate their teammates about Snow Storm, so that they don’t consistently immediately kill off the mob that Snow Storm is centered on (thus ending the power, and leaving you with a bunch of angry mobs that are no longer slowed). The strongest piece of advice I can offer for Snow Storm users is to set up a bind (see Curveball’s The Incomplete and Unofficial Guide to /bind (1.1) to learn how to do this) announcing the target of your Snow Storm.
The Other Side: To see just how annoying and devastating Snow Storm can be, play with a Banished Pantheon Avalanche Shaman – they use Snow Storm, and are a good demonstration of how nasty this power is, particularly in slowing down your power recharges.
Steamy Mist (Available at level 6): Steamy Mist is a PBAoE Toggle power, which provides Stealth, Defense, and Resistance against Energy and Elemental damage. Hero Planner lists Steamy Mist’s endurance cost as 1.5 per tick, so it’s another power that you’ll definitely want to slot an Endurance Reduction enhancement or two into. Steamy Mist has a penalty of reduced movement speed – it’ll make you run or walk slower, and Steamy Mist used with Hover with no Flight Speed enhancements leaves you unable to move while both are active (Even a single training Flight Speed enhancement will allow hover movement with Steamy Mist up, and DO and SO Flight Speed enhancements improve this even more).
Steamy Mist is one of the most often underrated powers in the Storm Summoning set. Its effects are not just really noticeable at times. First, the Stealth aspect of the power – not only are you harder to see, and can approach MUCH more closely to mobs without aggroing them, but every player within the AoE of the Mist is also effected.
Next, the Defense buff – hard data due to a lack of Dev posts on the specifics of this power means we don’t know exactly how much of a Defense bonus this power provides, but the best guesses so far is that it’s probably 7.5%. This may not seem like much, especially when you consider that Defense enhancements are of the 5/10/20% variety (requiring 5 SO Defense enhancements to double this buff, to around 15% if the 7.5% is correct). Keep in mind that this defense bonus applies to everyone within the Steamy Mist AoE. Every attack that Steamy Mist’s defense bonus causes to miss is 100% damage mitigation for that attack.
Finally, damage resistance to Elemental and Energy attacks. Again, this applies to everyone within the Steamy Mist AoE – yourself as well as your teammates, or any random heroes who happen to be nearby. Once again, we don’t have hard data in the form of dev posts for how much this resistance is, but observation suggests it to be around 20% or so. This reduces damage from successful attacks that are Energy, Electrical, Fire, and Cold damage types. I’m unsure if Darkness fits into this (as Energy) or not, and haven’t personally tested that.
I personally consider Steamy Mist to be one of the single most useful “anytime” powers in the set. I keep it up pretty much all the time, except when in a known safe area or when just traveling. The stealth is so useful that you can find yourself taking it for granted (and getting too close and aggroing things when it’s not up), the resistance is often useful, and the defense is always welcome. I find it useful solo AND in groups. Think about it: what other single power from ANY primary or secondary set or power pool gives you stealth, defense, and resistance for everyone in your group?
Freezing Rain (Available at Level 8): Freezing Rain is the big universal debuff of the Storm set. It is a ranged, location AoE, reduces enemy defenses, reduces enemy resistances, and has minor slow and cold DoT effects – AND a good chance of foe knockdown. The first thing I feel important to stress about Freezing Rain is that it’s NOT a damage dealing power. It does have token cold damage, but it’s a small fraction of 1 point of damage per hit. Even heavily enhanced with SO damage enhancements, you’re not going to get much utility out of Freezing Rain as a damage dealing power.
What Freezing Rain IS excellent for, is speeding up fights and making yourself and your teammates more effective/powerful. The defense debuff makes mobs much easier to hit (particularly when enhanced with Defense Debuff enhancements). The resistances debuff lowers mob resistance by around 25% on even level mob – that means they take around 33% more damage from attacks. Freezing Rain also has a small slow effect, making mobs both move slightly slower, and attack a little less often. Mobs under the AoE of Freezing Rain also have a chance of slipping and falling – leaving them incapable of ability uses or attacks until they get back up. When it works well, it can be quite comical to see a bunch of mobs slipping and falling on their backs, standing up, and falling back down again.
One of the more well known and popular Storm Defender tactics is the “1-2 Combo” of Snow Storm and Freezing Rain – hit mobs with Snow Storm, so they can’t run away very well, then drop Freezing Rain on them, while they can’t very easily or quickly run out of the AoE. This is a powerful and useful tactic, but Freezing Rain is by no means useless without Snow Storm. Even if mobs hit with Freezing Rain immediately bolt to move out of the AoE, they’re still slowed for a brief time, they’re still easier to hit, and they’re still going to take more damage for a while. Freezing Rain is a great power for team use – work out timing so that your Freezing Rain hits just as or just after an opening attack (particularly DoTs, like Rain of Fire, Fire Breath, or Flamethrower) or Provoke is used by a teammate. With some practice to get the timing down, this can turn an opening volley against a group of mobs into a devastating attack, with more of them being hit, and all of them taking more damage – and that may be the entirety of the fight.
Freezing Rain can be enhanced a variety of ways. I’d suggest concentrating on Endurance Reduction, Defense Debuff, and Reload Reduction, with perhaps a slot for Slow. I’ve found it useful to be able to use Freezing Rain again during a battle that’s NOT over quickly to make the pesky mobs that don’t drop quickly or are hard to hit easier and quicker to take out. Freezing Rain’s duration is 15 seconds (though the effect linger for a while), and the unenhanced recharge time is 60 seconds.[/b]Hurricane [/b](Available at Level 12): Hurricane, like most Storm powers, is another one with multiple effects. Hurricane is a PBAoE Toggle power. When activated, it creates a swirling vortex of wind centered around the Storm Summoner, who stands in the “eye” in the middle. Despite the graphic being a fairly flat “plane” – the Hurricane effects to extend somewhat above and below the plane. Hurricane is both an effective debuff, and is useful for crowd control/mob positioning. Hurricane is listed as having an endurance cost of 1 per tick in Hero Planner – though many people consider this a “cheap” toggle power, I’d still strongly advise an endurance reduction enhancement or two for it.
Hurricane is a Foe Repel – any mob that enters the AoE is constantly pushed against, forcing most mobs back out to the edge of the storm. This creates a virtual “melee-free safe zone” within the radius of the Hurricane. The most obvious use for this is to have other Defenders, Blasters, and Controllers stand near you, inside the ‘cane, acting from relative safety from melee or short ranged attackers. Hurricane also randomly knocks back foes in, or on the edge of, the AoE. Some mobs occasionally can and do simply slowly force their way through the repelling effects of Hurricane, and CAN get in to reach someone inside the storm, or can run past to get on the other side of it (or are sometimes pushed to the side or behind and end up on a different side than they entered the storm’s radius). Melee characters (Tankers and Scrappers) may need to be taught to fight mobs at the edge of the storm – so that they’re not continually blown out of melee range, but so they stay debuffed, and have a hard time hitting the melee hero.
The other big benefit of Hurricane is its potent Debuff – mobs who attempt to enter Hurricane or even just “touched” by the edge of the storm have their Accuracy AND range significantly debuffed. Particularly if ToHit (Accuracy) Debuff enhancements are used, it’s not uncommon at all for a Storm Defender to be able to stand still in the midst of their Hurricane, with several mobs dancing along the edge trying to hurt you and being unable to, because they either cannot reach you (or others inside the storm) or their attacks repeatedly miss.
Note that some melee mobs (particularly 5th Column werewolves) apparently have as part of their AI that if they simply can’t reach you to hurt you, will flee and run away at top speed. Some advanced uses for Hurricane include “Herdicaning,” “Juggling,” and simply running around “touching” a bunch of mobs with Hurricane to debuff them then shutting the ‘cane off to deal with the debuffed mobs when the repel isn’t needed.
The Other Side: Tsoo Sorcerors and Banished Pantheon Storm Shamans both use Hurricane. Being hit with it and seeing your accuracy plummet and your range drop to “slightly outside melee” can instill a quick understanding and appreciation for the potential of this power.
Thunder Clap(Available at Level 18): Thunder Clap is the other “pure” power in the Storm set, meaning that it only does one thing. Thunder Clap is a PBAoE Disorient power. When activated, foes in a radius around the Storm Summoner may be disoriented – staggering around relatively defenseless and not attacking for a period of time. The AoE is a little bit larger than the AoE radius of Hurricane, but not by much (you can hit mobs on the edge or just outside of a Hurricane with Thunder Clap, but not much beyond that). Thunder Clap looks and sounds cool, with fairly impressive visual and sound effects.
Thunder Clap by itself will only affect Minions, and will NOT disorient Lts and Bosses – of any level. Only Controller Primary Disorients are allowed to AoE one-shot disorient Lts or Bosses. It CAN however be “stacked” with another disorient power, such as Flash Fires, Dark Pit, or Hand Clap to Disorient Lts and Bosses.
Suggested Enhancements for Thunder Clap are Accuracy and Disorient Duration. I haven’t tested, and don’t know of anyone who’s tested, to see if its reload can be enhanced enough so that multiple Thunder Claps from the same character can be activated rapidly enough to stack.
The Other Side: Banished Pantheon Storm Shamans use Thunder Clap – but the same basic Disorienting frustration and pain is available from many mobs in the game, including Tsoo Ink Men.
Tornado (Available at Level 26): Tornado is advertised as a Targetted Location AoE, with Minor Smashing Damage, Foe Disorient, Knockback, and Fear. The idea of Tornado is that it creates a spinning funnel cloud (it’s around 6 feet tall in game, is pretty transparent, and looks basically identical to the Super Speed Power Pool’s Whirlwind – just without the spinning hero in the center) that tosses mobs up and away, disorients them, instills fear, deals minor damage, and chases your foes down to try to do all that again.
Tornado has long been widely regarded as the one truly near- or often-useless power in the Storm Summoning set. The number of people who’ve tried it and are disappointed with or hate it considerably outnumber those who seem to like it. The damage on the power is listed as “Minor” and is indeed very minor. It isn’t exactly awe-inspiring to see a level 26 power toss a foe up and away, and seeing them take 5 points or so of smashing damage. One of the benefits of Tornado, is that it doesn’t seem to care what class a villain it – it’ll toss an Archvillain up and away as readily as it will an Underling (just probably not anywhere near as far).
Tornado used to be essentially targeted chaos. When used, it would toss 1 to a few mobs VERY far up and away, scare many others off, maybe disorient a couple . . . and then would randomly chase after one of them. Usually one of the ones that it scared, who took off running at top speed. As it chased mobs, it continued to attempt to scare any other mob it got near. Tornado was excellent for randomly and inadvertently aggroing other mobs that you didn’t even know were there, in another portion of a mission map, or streets away in a city zone. Who, of course, home in and come running up to you, rather angry.
With recent patches, primarily the Through the Looking Glass update, Tornado is acting very strange. Sometimes it acts as it used to, and sometimes, it will just sit in place doing nothing, or very slow move as if to follow the hero, or sit where it’s cast and keep juggling the villain it landed on up in the air repeatedly. Some people have been finding uses for it, despite its erratic and inconsistent behaviour. As there’s been a lack of Dev comment on the power, we don’t know if Tornado was intentionally changed, if it’s bugged and broken, or what the case is.
My advice to most people is to not take Tornado. For those who do take it and persist in using it, if you find a consistent, reliable use for it – please, do post and let us know!
Lightning Storm (Available at Level 32): Lightning Storm is the final power in the set, and is one that is perhaps controversial for some people. Being the final power, many people expect it to be impressive and devastating. Like most Storm powers, Lightning Storm has multiple effects. Lightning Storm is a centered, ranged “fire and forget” or “pet” type power. It appears directly over your Storm Summoner when activated, and stays in that location, not moving, for its duration (60 seconds, with a 90 second unenhanced reload time). It randomly blasts mobs within its range with lightning (energy damage type) every 5 to 7 seconds. Most mobs that are blasted with lightning will be knocked down, though higher level mobs, Lts, and Bosses all of course have some level of resistance to the knockdown effect. If two or more mobs are very close together, the lightning and knockdown blast will strike them ALL. Blasts from Lightning Storm also drain some endurance from mobs.
Lightning Storm looks and sounds cool. It is a dark grey storm cloud with flashes of lightning within it, which lashes out with a flash with jagged bolts of lightning, making rumbling and thunderous noises all the while. Along with Thunder Clap, it’s one of the more visually impressive powers in the set.
Lightning Storm can be enhanced to emphasize different aspects of the power – increasing its damage, increasing the endurance drain, reducing endurance cost, reload time, etc. Lightning Storm can be initially something of a let-down when you see its unenhanced damage. Remember, it’s a “fire and forget” added damage power – you activate it, and it continues contributing damage to the fight while you’re free to move around and use other powers. Adding additional damage slots to Lightning Storm can increase its damage output significantly. Tightly bunched mobs can be a joy to a high level Storm Summoner’s eyes, as Lightning Storm can hit many mobs in close proximity of each other with a single strike. Pairing with a Controller who can AoE Hold or Immobilize many mobs at once can greatly aid this benefit of Lightning Storm.
THOUGHTS ON PLAYSTYLE AND BUILDS
The Storm Summoning set is very versatile, and can be shifted to emphasize a number of different roles and playstyles depending on how you slot and enhance your powers. While soloing as a Stormer is certainly possible . . . I believe that the real strength of a Storm Summoner comes into play in teams, and that is where many of our abilities really shine when used effectively.
One thing that may be a consideration for many Storm Summoners, especially if they like to run multiple toggles at once and still do other things, is that of endurance drain being a limiting factor. I’ve taken Stamina (and have it presently slotted with 5 SO Endurance Recovery enhancements) for my Defender, and find that, while it’s not -necessary- it is a tremendous boon. It dramatically cuts back on endurance being a limitation, allows me to do more things at once and for a much longer time, and allows me to be more versatile and responsive in combat.
I hope some of you find this guide to be useful. Comments, suggestions, additions are all welcome. Just don’t use this as a platform for launching a flame war or debating how you find such and such a power to be useless and something else is sooo much better. Do that in another thread, or take it up with me on PMs.
1.0: Initial release.