A Philosophy on Builds

Build Philosophy

Designing Better TSW Builds

The Secret World throws a lot at the player with the character skill system.  You have virtually limitless combinations of abilities and this means that clever players will find ways to break the mold from traditional class based games.  On the other hand, it is also very easy to build bad builds.  Builds that throw together a random mix of individually neat sounding abilities that do little together.  Given the relatively high complexity of game play in the Secret World, this means it is also easy to put together a build that is very unenjoyable.

There are a number of good build tools out there on the Internet and we will be trying to keep a linked list for some of the better ones.  However, when using a builder, it really helps to have an orientation to making a good build.  While there are a number of possible paths, this one is relatively straight forwards and should guide newcomers and those less comfortable with building.  The key is, to prioritize your thinking, before you begin your build:

Many people start with weapon first, and then find out that their pair of choices don’t go together well (or, more likely, don’t go together well in a way they want to use them).  Starting with the job you want to perform and finishing with the weapons that get it done is where builds really come together

Start with the role. What do you want to accomplish with this build

  • Tanking – holding agro and surviving damage while others dish out damage
  • Healing – healing yourself and friends while avoiding damage yourself
  • Damage – doing substantial amounts of damage while avoiding damage yourself
  • Support – playing beneficial effects for your team or placing adverse effects on your opponents.
  • Survival – blending damage and healing, great for soloing
  • Hybrid – typically doing decent DPS while also providing a small amount of healing or support

Think about what synergies you are interested in

  • Defensive Triggers – is this a build that works off of blocking, evading or glancing?
  • Agro – is this a build that is good at grabbing a monsters attention and keeping it away from others
  • States – will this build work towards weakened, hindered, afflicted or impaired states
  • Offensive Triggers – will this build emphasize critical hits or penetrating hits
  • Powers – will this build focus on strikes, chains, frenzies, bursts, dashes or other special types of powers

Once you have answered these two questions, you are a good ways towards putting a build together.  You only get to pick seven active abilities (which must be linked to your two equipped weapons) and seven passive abilities (which can come from anywhere on the ability wheel).

Choosing Abilities

Let’s start with actives, go into the ability search function on your character (hit N for abilities and the search window is on the right side of the interface).  Using your answer to #2, put in a keyword to start locating possible active abilities.  We haven’t picked a pair of weapons, and now it’s time to start thinking about which weapon to choose.  Look for a pair of weapons which give you a sequence of abilities that fit your synergy goals.  For your seven weapons, it is important to have:

  1.  A resource generator that builds resources for both weapons (note, many healing builders only generate resources for their weapon type).  In many cases, you only need one builder, but sometimes (for healers in particular) a second builder is required.
  2.  A finisher for each weapon.  Failing to equip two weapons and use two finishers is a good way to create an underpowered build.  Finishers (abilities that consume resources) are typically more powerful than builders.  Being able to cycle two builders in a rotation gives you quite a bit of capability.
  3. Utility skills. Depending on how many builders you needed, this gives you three or four remaining spots. These are abilities which flesh out your build. Some thoughts here:
    • Long cooldown buffs – it’s sometimes helpful, particularly in dungeon builds.
    • Movement abilities – having a dash, sprint, or even an ability that moves your opponent
    • Other builders/finishers – sometimes there are nice effects that come from builders and finishers that you may wish to alternate in usage.

As you look at the available active abilities (using your keywords), your two “best” weapons should start to stand out.  That’s when you choose your weapons.  .

Once this is done, start looking for passives.  You want passives that exploit conditions created by your active abilities.  If you are part of a regular group, it’s also useful to take passives that exploit conditions created by your teammates, but for your first build you are probably needing to be self-sustaining.

Don’t Understate Passives

A lot of people overlook the importance of passives, they see TSW as a game with 7-abilities (the actives).  That’s really missing the forest for the trees.  A good passive loadout can significantly boost the power of your actives – so much so that occasionally a weak sounding active becomes a beast when paired with a few good passives.

Once you have setup your first draft of actives and passives, go back and take another look at your actives and passives.  Sometimes, as you took out passives, you will find that an active that once looked so-so, turns out to be quite powerful in your build.  Editing and tweaking your build is a key to maximizing its potential.

Builds on a Point Budget

Finally, try to keep in mind what’s feasible within your available points.  You accumulate three ability points for every single skill point you obtain.  Assuming you try to keep you weapons and talisman more or less equal quality level, this means your AP distribution follows the progression of the table at the end of this post.

It takes about 30 points to finish off the entire inner wheel of a weapon and you have two weapons equipped.  This means, for players entering Polaris the first time, you may not have the points to pickup more than a single outer wheel ability.  Sure, you can wait for later, but by then you are likely to no longer need the gear from that dungeon.  This is why tswguides.com has focused on creating “My first 60” builds – builds that come together reasonably well in time for a player go into Polaris.

By the time that same player gets to Hell Rising, they have more than double the points to play with.  They can easily build somewhat deep in a single outer wheel line, or dabble in multiple outer wheel lines.  A single dungeon later, in Darkness Wars, a player has enough points to begin fleshing out a third weapon – greatly expanding the potential for passive ability synergy.

Quality Level
Skill Points
Ability Points
(Polaris Dungeon)
(Hell Rising Dungeon)
(Darkness War Dungeon)
(Ankh Dungeon)
(Hell Fallen Dungeon)
A new 10
(first visit to Elite Dungeons)


But, you still have to be successful getting to that point.  Hopefully this guide has given you some things to think about as you plan your first builds.  If it seems to complex, consider grabbing one of our “My First 60” builds to get off the ground.  From there, look at one of our other builds, or pick one of your faction decks and start working towards that.  At some point, you will move beyond all of this and be a whizz at creating builds, but until then, draw ideas from others.

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One Response to A Philosophy on Builds

  1. Pingback: TSW Build Page - TSW Guide, decks, tank, heal, dps and more - TSW Guides

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