Tri-Form Warshade Guide by Hak

Version: 1.0 | Updated: 11/22/05 | Printable Version


                               CITY OF HEROES
                       Developed by Cryptic Studios
                           Published by NCSoft

                       Tri-Form Warshade Guide 1.0
                Guide by Kevin Murray (hakikev, Hakster)
          Contact, CoH/CoV Global "@Hakster"


Version 1.0 - 22nd November 2005.
Started guide. Got most rough draft information into a readable format. Still not
100% happy with layout, but information is mainly complete.



  1. What is a Warshade?
  2. Why Tri-Form?
  3. Power & Slotting choices
  4. Teaming possibilities
  5. Strategies
  6. Kheldian disadvantages and issues
  7. Everything else


General stuff;

This document is Copyright  2005 Kevin Murray. It may be not be reproduced under
any circumstances except for personal, private use. It may not be placed on any
website besides those specified by the author. It may not be distributed
electronically outside of these websites, and it may not be distributed
otherwise at all. Use of this guide on any other website or as a part of any
public format is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright. As of this
moment, only may host this.

This guide is a work in progress, and people's opinions may vary. This is my own
personal views, which I am giving in the hope that others may read and find some
use in rolling their own Warshade.


1. What is a Warshade?

A Warshade (referred to sometimes as WS) is one of the 2 "Epic" archetypes (ATs)
available in City of Heroes. In order to gain access to the 2 Epic ATs, you must
have at least one character at level 50. This can be on any server - by getting
a single 50, you will be able to create Warshades (and their "cousins", the
Peacebringers) on any server. Even if you delete your level 50, you will still
have them unlocked.

A Warshade is the result of a Nictus (scientifically altered Kheldian life form)
merging with a human host against the human's will. Unlike Peacebringers, who
merge willingly with a "pure" Kheldian, Warshades have, at some point, been
forced into hosting the parasitic Nictus. Turning their back on their evil
impulses, these Warshades become heroes to make amends for the wrongs they have

Warshades will, through the course of their careers, have access to two very
different forms. These are classed as Shapeshit:Special in their descriptions,
and both are very discrete. The Dark Nova Form will give you excellent accuracy
and damage output at the expense of having no resistance or defence. The Black
Dwarf form will give you very high damage resistance, increased hit points, and
extremely high protection against status attacks (mez, or mesmerise) at the
expense of reduced damage output and less mobility.


2. Why Tri-form?

By taking one of the most diverse ATs in City of Heroes, you will have alot of
decisions to make in regards to power choices and where to put slots. By taking
both special forms (Black Dwarf and Dark Nova), you are adding an extra 12 powers
you have to slot (4 for Nova, 6 for Dwarf, plus the forms themselves). Also,
starting from level 1 when you first create your Warshade, you will have the
"Shadow Step" power - identical to the Teleport travel power only available to 
regular heroes at level 14 or above.

Tri-Form, in my opinion, is simply the best way to play a Warshade. For many, it
is the reason they pick a Kheldian to begin with. In short, why restrict myself
to having only human abilities and frailties, when I can become a "Squiddie"
(Dark Nova form) to provide optimal damage output to my team, or become the
"Lobster" (Black Dwarf form), giving me decent Tanking ability and almost
complete immunity to status effects like Stun, Sleep, etc.

Human form also has very distinct advantages. Since you can only summon your
pets while in Human form, it makes sense you may want some protection there too.
Having a close range enemy Disorient power, a very high damage hold which causes
damage over time, the wonderful Eclipse (more later), cone blasts which group
stun you enemies, AND a power which boosts your human stats depending on what
your team-mates classes are all add up to something which can turn into an
unstoppable kil.... "arresting" machine.

In short, taking and slotting a good Tri-Form build allows you to fill any role
on a team which is not currently filled. This leads to more invites and better
progression through the game.


3. Power & slotting choices

The easiest way to start is to post my own build here. I can then discuss my
own choices. I am always open to new ideas, and this build is only an example.
It was made after the Enhancement Diversification changes in Issue 6, and works


Exported from version 1.5C of CoH Planner

Archetype: Warshade
Primary Powers - Ranged : Umbral Blast
Secondary Powers - Support : Umbral Aura

01 : Absorption damres(01)  
01 : Ebon Eye acc(01)  dam(50)  
02 : Gravimetric Snare acc(02)  immdur(43)  
04 : Gravity Shield damres(04)  damres(5)  damres(5)  endred(42)  
06 : Dark Nova endrec(06)  endrec(9)  thtbuf(11)  thtbuf(11)  fltspd(17)  fltspd(46)  
08 : Starless Step acc(08)  
10 : Orbiting Death dam(10)  dam(13)  acc(42)  endred(46)  
12 : Shadow Blast acc(12)  dam(45)  
14 : Shadow Cloak endred(14)  
16 : Sunless Mire acc(16)  
18 : Gravity Well dam(18)  dam(19)  dam(19)  acc(23)  acc(25)  hlddur(27)  
20 : Black Dwarf damres(20)  damres(21)  damres(21)  damres(23)  damres(25)  endrec(27)  
22 : Stygian Circle endred(22)  
24 : Nebulous Form endred(24)  endred(31)  
26 : Gravitic Emanation acc(26)  disdur(48)  
28 : Inky Aspect acc(28)  disdur(37)  disdur(50)  
30 : Unchain Essence dam(30)  dam(31)  dam(31)  acc(34)  acc(42)  acc(46)  
32 : Dark Extraction recred(32)  recred(33)  recred(33)  acc(33)  dam(34)  endred(34)  
35 : Quasar dam(35)  dam(36)  dam(36)  recred(40)  
38 : Eclipse recred(38)  recred(39)  recred(39)  acc(39)  acc(40)  damres(40)  
41 : Stygian Return recred(41)  hel(43)  
44 : Hasten recred(44)  recred(45)  recred(45)  
47 : Aid Other hel(47)  hel(48)  recred(48)  
49 : Super Speed runspd(49)  runspd(50)  


01 : Brawl enhancement(01)  
01 : Sprint enhancement(01)  
02 : Rest enhancement(02)  
01 : Shadow Step enhancement(01)  enhancement(3)  enhancement(3)  
10 : Shadow Recall enhancement(10)  
06 : Dark Nova Bolt enhancement(06)  enhancement(15)  enhancement(37)  
06 : Dark Nova Blast enhancement(06)  enhancement(15)  enhancement(37)  
06 : Dark Nova Emmanation enhancement(06)  enhancement(7)  enhancement(9)  enhancement(17)  
06 : Dark Nova Detonation enhancement(06)  enhancement(7)  enhancement(13)  enhancement(36)  
20 : Black Dwarf Strike enhancement(20)  
20 : Black Dwarf Smite enhancement(20)  
20 : Black Dwarf Mire enhancement(20)  
20 : Black Dwarf Drain enhancement(20)  
20 : Black Dwarf Step enhancement(20)  enhancement(43)  
20 : Black Dwarf Antagonize enhancement(20)  enhancement(29)  enhancement(29)  


Looking at my build, you will see that I have picked exclusively powers from my
Primary and Secondary pools until the end of the game. The last 2 powers above
were taken primarily as "fillers" - there was simply nothing more I wanted from
the main power choices. They are handy, don't get me wrong, but nothing that I
couldn't live without

My first power choice - Ebon Eye - is a minor damage attack. Like every Warshade
attack in the game, it causes your target to be slowed and have a reduced action
rate. My slots went into Shadow Step (Teleport) purely because I don't need them
in any of my current powers - Ebon Eye is an attack chain filler later, but will
rarely be used until much later when I get some core human powers.

Gravimetric Snare is a great power - low damage, but it can immobilise minions,
and multiple applications can slow and immobilise even Arch-Villains. The damage
isn't high enough to warrant boosting with enhancements, so I stick an Accuracy
in there to ensure I get more from it. The Immobilisation at high levels is
purely for when I am regularly fighting AVs.

Gravity Shield - Smash/Lethal damage is the most common. I don't want to take
much of it. Take this, and slot it, but there's no rush.

Dark Nova at level 6. You are, as a tri-form, going to spend a great deal of time
in Dark Nova form. Slot the attacks for damage first, as the form already has
an inherent accuracy boost. I increase this with the To-Hit buffs affecting all
attacks. With high damage output, this form will easily get you up to level 30
as the game has few status effects before then. Slot your AoE's first, then your
single target damage.

Starless Step - the "TP Foe" equivalent. Also, the first power for easily taking
out lone Void Hunter/Quantum Gunner minions. It will be invaluable later on if
you run missions on your own.

Orbiting Death is a power which isn't hugely useful early. In conjunction with
Inky Aspect, it becomes infinitely more useful. At low levels, it draws too
much aggro that you are not equipped to deal with. Its low damage, but constant
hits, make it great if you are in the middle of combat - Inky Aspect will 
disorient all foes around you and help prevent them scarpering while Orbiting
Death slowly sucks away their health.

Shadow Blast is, along with Ebon Eye, another combo filler for use in human form.
The damage isn't wonderful in comparison with other attacks, but it is useful
for hammering enemies (such as Void Hunters) who are already held.

Shadow Cloak is the same as Stealth from the Concelment Pool. Provides a Defence
buff when active, and prevents discovery except from enemies with +Perception
powers or abilities. Use this along with Nebulous Form for 100% invisibility.

Sunless Mire is when things start getting interesting. Triggering this power will
create a ring of Negative Energy around you. Any enemies inside this ring which
are hit will take minor damage, but you get a buff to both your Accuracy and
Damage. This buff carries over into your forms for as long as it lasts.

Gravity Well is, along with Starless Step, your Void/Quantum killing combo. This
hold has massive damage, causes a targets toggles to drop (including Void Hunter
energy shields) and AFTER the initial damage, it still causes damage over time
to your target. Try summoning a Void Hunter to you, hitting them with this, then
turning Dark Nova for the finisher - they'll be down before the hold wears off.

Black Dwarf is, as noted above, the low damage/high resistance form. Because of
this, I only slot Accuracy into the attacks - the damage is low, and 33.3% of
"not-very-much" is still "not-very-much". The only 2 powers I readily slot are
the taunt and the teleport. The taunt to give the edge when I'm filling in for a
Tanker role, and the teleport so I can TP into the middle of a spawn and grab
aggro before my team-mates do. The heal does low damage, and recovers 10% of your
HUMAN form hit points - not Dwarf. Take care of this.

Stygian Circle is the reason that many Warshades choose not to take any powers
from the Fitness Power Pool. This power should be triggered after combat, in a
position central to the most corpses. For every corpse hit, you will recover both
hit points and endurance. It only takes 3 minion-level corpses for a full health
recharge, and bosses and lieutenants give more than minions do. After a long
battle, trigger this for a nice recharge. The recharge is very fast, so only the
base slot has an Enurance Reduction, in case I have so little left I can't afford
to trigger it.

Nebulous Form is a slightly better version of Phase Shift. I say slightly better
because the time is longer - 60 seconds as opposed to 45 for Phase Shift. Use
this for playing "hunt-the-glowie" - it boosts your jump ability for quicker
movement. Enemies can still see you if you are close - use Shadow Cloak at the
same time to get complete invisibility. You can't affect enemies while using this
power, but they can't affect you either.

Gravitic Emanation has its uses. It's a cone attack which throws bad guys backward
and stuns them. Using this with Inky Aspect running can stun bosses, which is
nice. No great damage though - slot for Accuracy and Disorient.

Inky Aspect has been covered in previous powers. Be warned that, although it uses
very little endurance up, for every enemy it hits you will take a small amount of
damage. If using it on a huge spawn, your health will drop very quickly.

Unchain Essence is, in addition to Quasar, a high damage attack. To use it, there
must be a corpse. This power releases the essence of the defeated enemy as a
huge AoE explosion, heavily damaging enemies, knocking them back, and also
having a chance to disorient them. Useful, huh?

Dark Extraction. Well, you now have pets. Little koosh balls which are summoned
from the defeated corpses of your foes. With a few recharges, you can have 2 at
once, since WS pets weren't brought down in the same way other pets were
recently. These pets have the same attacks as Dark Nova (except Detonation), so
are great for support while you stomp away in Dwarf form. Their damage is not
huge, but it is good enough to bring down minions while you engage the boss.

Quasar is a huge blast of explosive energy centered on yourself. When you use it,
you will lose all your remaining endurance, and will be unable to recover it
normally. Blue inspirations and buffs will still allow you to recover as normal.

Eclipse should be taken as soon as possible, and slotted as soon as possible.
For every enemy that Eclipse hits, your own resistance to ALL damage, including
Psionics, is increased. Hitting around 8 mobs with this will place you firmly
at the resistance cap of 85% (all damage will be reduced by this amount). The
best part? The resistance carries into the forms! Your Squiddie will now be a
massive damaging unstoppable machine! The next best part? Unlike many other
powers which boost your stats (Moment of Glory, Elude, Unstoppable), there is no
crash on Eclipse. If you have a Kinetics team-mate, you can have it on
permenantly (assuming enough mobs to make it worthwhile). This power will make
you glad you waited all those levels, and turn your Warshade into the "Tank-Mage"
sought after in every MMO currently played.

Stygian Return is a self-resurrect power. For every bad guy around when you trigger
it, you recover some health and endurance. No bad guys, no resurrect.

My last 3 powers were taken for utility - Hasten can be helpful in a jam, but you
can only trigger it in Human form. It carries over, but it's not always
convenient to switch.

Aid Other was my attempt at the healing badges, and Super Speed is there as a
faster travel method than Dark Nova flight, and less endurance heavy than 
Shadow Step.

That covers my build. Feel free to use bits of it if you like. However, the
beauty of the Warshade (and their inferior cousins, Peacebringers) is that no
build is "wrong". If it works for you, use it. I have tried using other powers
and had many, many respecs - this build works for me, and works well. If you
decide that you will spend a bit more time in human form, it may be worth
putting off Shadow Cloak or Orbiting Death so you can pick up Health and Fitness
early. Please be aware that any auto-powers which come from pools do NOT carry
into the forms - Stamina, Health, etc are ONLY active in human form. Also, when
in the forms, except for a few notable exceptions, only the powers for that
form can be used - if you pick up the Leadership Pool, you can only use these
powers as a human - they have no effect in Squid and Lobster modes.

Some temporary powers which cause items to appear can have fun results - using
the Fire Extinguisher from Steel Canyon in human form, then switching to either
of the energy forms will leave the backpack on for a while. It looks
especially interesting on the Dwarf. The Iron Sword in Croatoa can be equipped
in any form at any time - it makes the Dwarf look weel hard, and the Squid
looks like someone harpooned it through the neck.


4. Teaming possibilities

How do Warshades fit into teams? Well, if you have been careful, you can fill
pretty much any role. If there is no Blaster (no big loss), switch into Nova
form and start throwing out your energy blasts. Tankers all busy herding Dreck?
Dwarf form will give you the ability to hold aggro using Taunts, while your
buddies pick the bad guys off. Controllers on holiday? Inky Aspect, Gravitic
Emanation, Gravity Well, and Gravity Snare can all provide crowd control to
a greater or lesser degree. We are not Scrappers - Peacebringers have more
powers applicable to "Scrapping" than us - and we are not Defenders, although
we can provide some wicked debuffs to speed and attack rates.

Warshades have a unique powers available from level 1 which will buff you up
depending on your team-mates. This power only works in human form - if it was
available in the energy forms, we would be insanely overpowered. Different ATs
will buff you as follows;

Scrappers/Blasters - Damage buff
Tankers/Defenders - Resistance buff
Controllers - Mez protection buff

The buff is applied for every member of the team. If you are lucky enough to be
in a team composed only of Defenders and Tankers, you will take next to no
damage in human form. In a Scrapper/Blaster heave team, you can out-damage
the Blasters and Scrappers themselves. This bonus relies on having team-mates
providing a buff within 300' or so - don't get cocky by trying to solo a huge
group while your Tanker/Defender buddies go the other direction down the map!


5. Strategies

How do your powers fit together? Well, as a Warshade, you are now in control of
the only AT in the game who can reach the damage, accuracy AND resistance caps
without the help of a single other player. This isn't something you can do all
the time, but when you do, it's impressive.

My favourite strategy combines several of my powers together. I will ask my team
to stay back (I hate interference =]), switch on Shadow Cloak and Nebulous Form,
run into the dead centre of a huge spawn. While my team are wondering what I am
doing, I drop Nebulous, hit Eclipse (which puts me to the resistance cap), then
switch to Dwarf form and trigger Black Dwarf Mire. As soon as it finishes, I
change back to human form and trigger Sunless Mire (putting me to damage and
accuracy caps since the Mire buffs stack), then trigger Quasar. A fully damage
capped explosion is a wonder to behold. Then, if something is still able to
move, I drop a blue inspiration (Quasar drops my endurance), target one of the
many corpses around the place, wait for the remaining enemies to arrive, and
hit Unchain Essence (while both Mires are still going). No more bad guys.

This is a strategy which you will not see until late game, but it truly makes
you feel like the effort was worth it when you just wiped those guys out so
fast. Early game, your strategies are going to revolve around how to deal with
those pesky Void Hunters and Quantum Gunners. I'll cover them later.

Another nice trick is to have your human form shields running, switch on Inky
Aspect, Orbiting Death, and Shadow Cloak (although this is very endurance heavy).
Run towards a spawn and trigger Gravitic Emanation. This will knock the bad guys
flying (preferably into a wall) then follow them and let your toggles wear them
down. In a team, your buddies should have used this opportunity to finish them
all off. If not, quit your team and get people who play while awake. This also
works without Inky Aspect, although the disorient effect will wear off quickly,
and you will be the butt of the aggro.

Through much of the game, you will be in Nova form. Depending on which of your
attacks you are lining up, select your targets wisely. If going for Detonation,
target the mob closest to the centre to ensure maximum effect. If using
Emanation, target the furthest away central one. Click the power, and if you are
too far, fly slowly toward them - as soon as you are in range, the power goes 
off and you get maximum spread. Using Emanation first, then Detonation, ensures
that there are no knockbacks for the second power going off, and with the
damage slotted up, this can decimate whole spawns.

Void and Quantum Gunners (Voids/Quants) will be a major thorn in your side. You
should get into the habit of scanning all groups you encounter in case one is
hiding away. The annoying thing about these guys (Voids especially) is that
they will ignore everyone else and target you, even if they have been Taunted
by someone else. In Nova form, 2 or 3 shots from a Quantum weapon will drop you.
The energy part can be resisted by shields, buffs, and Eclipse. The secondary
part - which ONLY affects Khelds - is not resistable, and is devastating in its
damage outlay, as well as its stun effect. For Quantums, get them into close
combat range - they should try to punch you instead of shooting you, and can be
taken down that way. Voids are different - the Void Hunter mercenaries have
gloves infused with Nictus fragments, and close combat actaully does higher
damage than them shooting you! These Nictus feed on Kheldian life force, which
is why you are hurt more than others.

Early levels, fighting Voids is a pain. If you watch them, time your attacks with
the 3 or 4 seconds that their aura is off - it's a energy resistant shield, and
your attacks are primarily energy based. If you get a good knock-back on them
during this time, they cannot reactivate the shields and you should follow up
for the killing blow. After level 18, when you have Gravity Well, try using
Starless Step to bring them to you, then queue Gravity Well to launch as soon
as they arrive. When you are solo, you should only ever see minion level Voids, 
and these can be TP'd normally. Don't try to TP a Lieutenant or Boss Void - cry
and shout until your team offers to help you take it out, then run away until
it's down!


6. Kheldian disadvantages and issues

As well as the Voids/Quantums, there are other problems with running a Kheldian.
I will concentrate on the Warshade ones (Peacebringers have some, but that's too
bad for them). Looking through the powers available, you will see that many of
them require corpses scattered around to function. What if you are in a ghost
mission, and no corpses are left? You're out of luck then. No pets, no Stygian
Circle, no Unchain Essence. Your only hope is (believe it or not) running into a
Void Hunter. These boys leave corpses, and after all that debt, I like nothing
better than tearing their sould out and making it submit to my will. Besides them
you're SOL though.

"Kheldian Scent" is a strange issue that people get. If you are on a team and
leave (or someone who was on a team with you leaves), they are marked anyway, and
will expect to encounter Voids, Quantums, enemy Dark Novas, Black Dwarfs, White
Dwarfs and Bright Novas. Too bad for them - if you quit, they probably weren't
good enough. If they quit, they weren't worth your time and deserve it! This
can have a bad effect though - some people are reluctant to take on Khelds in 
case they face these things.

Kheldians have their very own story arcs, given out every 5 levels through the
course of the game. These arcs are some of the best in there, letting you see
Nictus infused Freakshow, find out the origin of the Nictus themselves, and give
great background on Kheldians overall. The last arc, between level 45-50, sets you
up against Requiem and Arakhn (Nictus infused Council leaders). It also brings in
the nasty things known as Shadow Cysts. Shadow Cysts should ONLY ever be
encountered during this arc. These horrible things spawn literally hundreds of
Unbound Nictus (wild evil Kheldian scientifically altered life-forms). Every
one of these that hits will not only hurt, but also slow you. The thing is that
these are not only effective against Khelds - they will hurt everyone the same.
A bug in the game means that any team with a Kheldian in it and over 6 members
has a chance to find a Shadow Cyst ANYWHERE (including as spawns in the street
maps). I have seen a mission against the Envoy of Shadows (Circle of Thorns AV)
where the Envoy was literally standing on a Shadow Cyst. We faced 3 team-wipes
before getting past that mission.


7. Everything else

Special thanks goes to my friend Jesstar (his CoH handle). He got me into playing
City of Heroes, and gave me great pointers for starting out. More thanks go to
everyone on my Global Friends list (if you read this, you know who you are).

Particular thanks go to certain members of the forums on
Blademaster Orca gets a mention, as do Fluffball, jg, Jelenedra, rzn, and a few
others who I have doubtless overlooked.