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The stout Torchbearer is Demigod's most magically oriented demigod. He is a mage of great power, capable of pounding enemies with large amounts of ranged and AOE damage. This focus makes him good at thinning out large, dense packs of creeps who are approaching your citadel. The Torchbearer's magical powers can harness either fire or frost, but not both at the same time. How this mechanic is used is what seems to separate most Torchbearer builds which are currently popular. Many will go down only one path, ignoring the other, but builds which harness both sides of the Torchbearer's dual nature do exist.
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The Ice-Man Cometh
When using the powers of Frost the Torchbearer has useful AOE damage abilities in addition to some utility. Frost builds tend to focus on Rain Of Ice early on, leveling it to the highest level possible. This is because Rain Of Ice is the primary offense of an Ice Torchbearer. It does a high amount of damage for an AOE ability and when used against creeps it provides the opportunity to level quickly. Besides Rain Of Ice, the other primary offensive ability will be Frost Nova. Frost Nova is a deadly AOE attack which can temporarily disable a structure and which also stuns enemies for a short period of time. This makes the Ice build a good choice for those who like to go directly after enemy defenses early and often.
As the Ice-build Torchbearer levels up, you'll need to learn to make proper use of your supporting abilities. One of these is Deep Freeze, which interrupts a target, increases cool-downs, and does additional damage based on the number of frost debuffs currently on the target. It is a nasty ability when used correctly. Typically, it is best to use it well after engagement with the enemy has begun, but the exact timing can depend on the Demigod you're fighting. Against a Rook you might use it more proactively to keep him from trying to use his strong offensive abilities before you can finish him off. Against Sedna you might want to wait until she begins to retreat, as hitting her with a Deep Freeze can deactivate the self-healing she often counts on to stay alive during her retreat. Once you reach level 15, you'll gain access to Biting Chill, providing that you have invested enough into Rain Of Ice (and you should have). Biting Chill adds a debuff to Rain Of Ice which lowers health and mana regeneration by 75% for 10 seconds. This adds poison to the powerful punch of your Rain Of Ice spell. Also, the Biting Chill debuff can be consumed by Deep Freeze for extra damage.
When playing the Torchbearer as a Frost build, remember that toe-to-toe slug-fests are not your forte. You work best as a support offense character, throwing in a high amount of damage along with some extremely potent debuffs. Be careful not to get caught into two-on-one fights, as you do not have the ability to take many hits, and you have few options for retreat.
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While the Frost builds tends to focus on support offense, the Fire builds are more to the point. Fire build abilities do damage, damage, and more damage. Fire builds are all about getting into battle and hitting the enemy hard. They have very little in the way of utility, but are dangerous and in some ways more durable than Frost builds, for reasons that will be explained.
The first ability you want to level up is your Circle Of Fire spell. Circle Of Fire is great because it does a huge amount of damage over time to a large area. The damage done is enough to kill any creeps who stay in the area at almost any stage of the game, which allows a Fire build torchbearer to take out a wave of enemy creeps with little effort. This is valuable because it allows Fire builds to level quickly. In addition, Circle Of Fire is one of the few good "escape" maneuvers that the Torchbearer has. A retreating Torchbearer can lay down Circle Of Fire, and most enemies will not be eager to follow. Fire builds will also want to quickly level up Fireball, getting the first level at level 2 and keeping it up to date as much as possible, giving higher priority only to Circle of Fire. Fireball is a bread-and-butter direct damage single target spell on a low cool-down, and it is useful in nearly any situation.
As the Fire-build Torchbearer levels up, you'll want to begin to invest in Fire Nova. Fire Nova is the third damage skill, and is not the most impressive in terms of damage done. However, Fire Nova has a knock-back effect against enemy creeps, which provides another possible escape maneuver. When triggered in sync with Circle Of Fire, you can do fatal damage to packs of enemy creeps and Demigods. At level 15, the Torchbearer will want to pick up Inspirational Flame, and in the early teens it is a good idea to take the Fire Aura abilities.
Overall, the Fire-build Torchbearer is a damage machine, and should be treated as such. Because so much of your damage comes from PBAOE skills, you'll have no choice but to get up close and personal at times. Be careful when doing so, particularly around a fast, deadly Demigod like the Unclean Beast or Lord Erebus. Picking up a good armor item will help you survive. If you do get in to trouble, use Circle Of Fire to deter enemies from advancing. Most will not willingly spend time in the circle, and those that do will take heavy damage.
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Fire And Ice
While the Frost and Fire builds are valid, focusing only on one aspect of the Torchbearer does water down the essence of a class which is a hybrid by nature. Building a Fire And Ice Torchbearer will mean that you cannot level up all of the damaging skills in one particular tree, but the ways that the Fire and Frost skills interact is often beneficial.
Early on, the Fire And Ice Torchbearer can dominate creeps through liberal use of AOE spells. As with the other builds, dominating waves of creeps with a single strike of AOE power means lots of experience for your Torchbearer. You will have to make a major choice as your second level, as while Rain Of Frost is generally considered a must-have, you will at level two need to choose between Circle Of Fire or Fireball. Circle Of Fire increases your AOE abilities to insane levels, but Fireball provides a more reliable stream of direct damage. You will also want to add a level of Permafrost early on and continue leveling it up, as this will make it more difficult for enemies to escape you. As you come closer to level 10, you should have room to grab one more offensive spell. Picking something from the Fire line is a popular choice, and Fire Nova is a good idea if you didn't pick up Fireball earlier.
Up to level 14 you will be rotating between leveling up Rain Of Ice, Fireball/Circle Of Fire, Permafrost, and possibly Fire Nova, in that order of importance. At level 14 you will want to pick up Deep Freeze, and you should level this up quickly so that you can grab Fire And Ice as soon as possible (you need both Fireball and Deep Freeze to be maxed). Fire And Ice increases the damage of Fireball and Deep Freeze by 300.
The main strategy of the Fire And Ice torchbearer is to simply unload on an enemy, hitting first with the heavy damage fire attacks and then following up with Rain Of Ice and Deep Freeze. Also, remember that you receive a tempoary 50% damage buff applied to weapon damage when you switch from Fire to Frost. By unloading with so many abilities, you can do heavy damage in a short period of time, and burst damage is what wins 1 on 1 fights. You are still fragile, however, so don't let the offensive power go to your head. 1v1 fights should be to your advantage, but 2v1 fights will still be difficult, and it is best to stick with a tougher demigod who can try to cover you.