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The Master of...Magic?
Torchlight isn't big on explanation or storyline. It isn't a huge surprise, then, that the Alchemist's name isn't exactly descriptive of his play style. What does an alchemist do? You'd think he'd be spending his time making potions or some such, but in fact he just casts spells and summons minions like you'd expect a mage from any other game to do.
That doesn't mean that he is only useful for spell casting, however. In this Alchemist class guide I'll examine the Arcane, Lore, and Battle skill tress, and make a few quick build recommendations.
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The Arcane Tree
The Arcane tree is where all of the Alchemist's traditional mage spells are located. Here you will find your nukes, your AOE's, and your DOT's. If you want to do a lot of damage at range, this is the tree for you. Of course, the downside of this is that you'll be rather vulnerable, since none of the spells do anything for your defenses.
Ember Bolt is, in my opinion, a must have spell. It does good damage and it knocks back opponents. This keeps melee opponents from turning you into a squishy pile of goo.
Iceshock is...okay. It freezes enemies, which in Torchlight isn't all of that great. It just isn't as good as Ember Bolt, so I suggest passing it.
Ember Lightning is fairly simple nuke which does a lot of damage. Lightning resistance is somewhat rare, so that can be useful. With that said, however, I again find myself preferring Ember Bolt instead.
Ember Lance is one of the coolest spells in the game. It shoots a laser wherever you point it and does a good amount of damage. It compliments Ember Bolt well since it damages all enemies in a line rather than all enemies in a spread.
Pyre is a good AOE DOT which is very effective against large groups. If used properly it is probably the most mana efficient way of doing damage in the game - just make sure you're using it against groups and not solo opponents.
Ember Strike is the lance of god. It does gobs of damage and consumes gobs of mana. Just keep your mana potions at the ready and you'll love this spell.
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The Lore Tree
Spells in the Lore tree focus on summoning. This is a good compliment to the Arcane tree. It also is a good tree for those who traditionally love pet classes and want to watch their minions do the dirty work. Since you'll be surrounded by allies, your Alchemist will be relatively safe from damage.
Neither Imp summons a little Imp to help you out. He isn't incredible, but you get quite a few of them as you level up the skill, creating a wall of Imps between you and your foes.
Thorned Minions Is an okay spell. It does damage to enemies who are close to your minions. There are times when this will seem great. But it is not so hot when fighting ranged opponents.
Summon Alchemical Golem is one of the must-haves. This spell will be doing a lot of your damage once you have access to him. He can take a lot of hits, but Neither Imps are better at distracting foes due to their sheer numbers.
Terror is not one that I recommend. It is useful for getting yourself out of a bind now and then, but in general it is just annoying. There are not many enemies in the game who are a threat to you by themselves, and its often easier to just kill them.
Burning Bind is a buff for your minions. I have not been able to find out the hard numbers on it, but it seems very effective. It is particularly good if you've been leveling up Neither Imp and now have a swarm of them.
Summon Beam Golem is just kick ass. It's like an Alchemical Golem but it fires an awesome beam of energy at opponents. If that doesn't get you excited, you best check your pulse.
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The Battle Tree
The Battle tree is for the Alchemist who wanted to be a Destroyer but couldn't because his shoulders weren't broad enough. It includes numerous abilities which benefit an Alchemist who does his damage up close and personal. It is honestly the most difficult of the trees to master, but in my opinion it is also the most fun.
Ember Shock is your bread and butter. The damage this spell does is jaw-dropping. And as if that wasn't good enough, it also is an AOE spell and stuns opponents caught in its blast. You can reduce a pack of twenty opponents to smoldering ashes by casting this spell a few times.
Ember Shield is a good defensive skill, although I don't think its a must have. Personally, I've never found my battle Alchemist so squishy as to need this extra protection, but your mileage may vary depending on where you put your stat points.
Infuse is a straight damage buff, and a very good one. It isn't an absolute must-have if you're relying more on Ember Shock for damage than your melee swings, but if you're swinging a lot then Infuse will make you much more effective.
Frailty can become handy later in the game because it makes certain boss fights easier. If you find boss fights to be troublesome, then this is a must-have. Against normal opponents this spell is a bit disappointing because opponents die too quickly for the debuff to have much effect.
Ember Phase is awesome on a stick. You phase from one point to another, knocking opponents backwards and dealing damage as well. It is incredibly useful for getting yourself both into and out of trouble. Phase in, Ember Shock, Phase out is a great tactic.
Ember Sentry is the most underwhelming final spell the Alchemist has. The main problem is that while it does a respectable amount of damage, Ember Shock is just as good and also fits into the theme of a battle Alchemist much better.
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Quick Build Tips
Generally speaking, you'll have enough points to go full-fledged down one tree or to hybrid between two trees. This becomes less true as you go through multiple campaigns, but in your first run this will be the case.
I find that the Arcane tree lends itself the best to hybridization. The reason for this is that Ember Bolt is so good it becomes unclear why you'd need to invest in any of those others. Even Ember Lance tends to pale in comparison. If you just pick up Ember Bolt, and then Ember Strike later, you still have plenty of points for other skills.
The Battle tree is good for hybridization as well, however, since you only really must have Ember Shock. You can buff up your defenses with your defense stat and by properly equipping yourself, and while Ember Phase and Infuse are very good spells, you could do without them.
It's the Lore tree that really requires specialization, however. A Lore Alchemist will want to have Nether Imp, Alchemical Golem, and Beam Golem all pumped as high as possible, and perhaps Burning Bind as well. That doesn't leave a lot of extra room for points to be spread among other trees.
Ultimately, though, you'll have to decide for yourself what kind of Alchemist you want. The Arcane, Lore, and Battle trees all cater to different play styles and are all viable. Once you figure out how you like to play, focus on the tree most well suited for that style. Do this and you'll both have fun and be very effective at slaughtering your foes.