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Thread: HoX Raid Guide

  1. #1

    Default HoX Raid Guide

    Why I made this guide
    HoX is arguably the hardest DPS class to master properly and because of this the gap between bad and skilled ones are bigger than for other classes, this is also the reason I believe for many people not taking HoX all that seriously as a DPS Class.

    This might not cover everything but it should at least explain some of the basic stuff.

    It's the only melee/caster hybrid DPS class in the game so your damage is done by doing combos and spells. Like all mages it wears cloth armour but use a big two-handed sword with the option to switch to dagger+talisman for extra crit rating, especially when doing sequential casting when all cooldowns are up.

    Role in Raids
    We give the mage shield for the MT group, pickup loot and, if skilled, do some decent single-target DPS and very nice DPS for small to medium AoE encounters.

    Group Buffs
    - Improved Fiery Weapons: Low proc rate and small damage, mostly used to slightly boost necro's many pets
    - Arcane Abatement: 20% extra cold protection for 6 sec but due to the raid encounters, only somewhat useful for Hathor-Ka but since this boss got so nerfed it's now even less useful than before.
    - Contract of Protection: Our most useful buff since the raid don't need to allocate a demo or necro to MT group and thus reducing their efficiency by lack of DPS buffs. This will ofc. reduce ours but that isn't something raid leaders are concerned about unless one of their casters do less DPS than the HoX.

    We don't bring any really useful ones for our group like: ToS' 4% mana tap, Conq's armour/spell penetration, etc. etc.

    They're not needed in raids since Demo and ToS do them much more efficent and for more mobs. Molten Steel Slash is slow and low damage and Inferno Curse has a long casting time, unless feated, so you will provide less DPS if using your debuffs. So you should only use your debuffs (Inferno Curse only if feated) in instances when there're no ToS and/or Demo around.

    Special Abilities
    - Thundering Flames: This spell interrupt can be used for e.g. the Arbanus encounter but this role is better suited by e.g. a ToS. Also if you're given this role it will significantly reduce your DPS output, much more than e.g. ToS, since Hellfire Breath plays a key role in DPS.

    Crowd Control
    HoX has some nice AoE ones for T2 but in T3 there're too few efficient ones, long cooldown (Avatar+Poss and AA helps here) and long casting time to be of really use. Stun from the AA pillar is nice but takes a long time from starting the combo till the actual short stun starts.

    Builds (two of my favorite ones)
    - High DPS Poss+Gen.
    - Current T4 build. Great single-target DPS and good AoE.

    Mindless Brute is underrated, especially if not well-geared.

    Basic Aggro Control

    You need to understand how aggro works and the ramification it has for you as a DPS class before anything in this guide will become of any use.

    It all starts with the tank that keep mobs focused on them instead of you as a squishy DPS. They use tools like: hate abilities (irritate, cry of havoc, etc), passive hate, gear, combos, DPS (including burst abilities like Volcanic Rage) and shield manipulation (avoid stacking enemy shields to not reduce DPS).

    When a tank pulls mob(s) he will initially have almost no aggro (a bit more if pulling with irritate instead of x-bow or body pull) while mob(s) moves to tanking position (tank starts doing combos). To improve aggro the tank needs to do combos, use hate abilities and use burst damage if available. Every interaction with the mob creates hate, even white hits so for you as DPS it's important to not interact with it till the tank has a tanking position and enough time to at least get a combo off since that along with other abilities will create a good base aggro level for you as DPS to start on. This is also why it's always important to notice if tanks pull mobs to already tanked mobs and behave accordantly (e.g. don't use hellfire breath on them before they're even tanked or you're bound to get aggro).

    Every tank is different in their aggro potential for numerous reasons: skill, class, gear, build and aa. For you that means you should test their abilities and adapt to it. I will illustrate this with W1's trash before entering to the first boss. This is a great opportunity to test the waters of how high DPS you can do before pulling aggro and also how aggressive you're allowed to be.

    Always remember what I wrote about giving tanks enough time to build some aggro first. If you don't pull when starting with combos (give tanks more time if still pulling) then you can be more aggressive and start with hellfire breath instead. Continue to be more aggressive (by using more abilities, more burst, etc) till you find the tank's breaking point and get aggro and from there you can adapt your DPS output to match their capabilities. Take note of single-target capabilities, aoe tanking capabilities (can they tank two or more decently or just one at a time?), how fast they build aggro, etc. You don't need to acquire in-depth knowledge about all the tanks but the most important is to find what you think are the best ones and if possible try to stick with the best one for main combos and do splash damage on rest.

    Take notice of where tanks always are. If tanks are feared, stunned, kiting, mob teleports, etc. then stop doing damage and give them enough time to regain aggro.

    When you get aggro then you should never kite the mob since it makes it so much harder for the tank to get aggro back and don't be surprised if the tank intentionally let you die for being an kiting idiot. Other than this always have target's target enabled (and close to the mob) so you can stop your attacks right away and before even noticing the drop in health. If you don't stop attacking then the tank will have a much harder time getting aggro back and you're also much more likely to die. To reduce damage while having aggro you can use active blocking (33% less damage but -50% less healing, it also helps the tank since you're stationary then) or use double-tap backwards and quickly run back (mob will rarely move then and in worst case make tanks miss combos and thus reduce their aggro).

    Like a tank want more hate, you as DPS want less of it so try maxing AA hate decrease fast and if really needed spec poss+gen for even more (especially useful before getting hate decrease from gear and aa).

    You can also feat aggro dumps like Misdirection (5 min CD with two points) or train AA Subtle Illusion. Aggro dumps works best by using them preemptively when you're doing very high burst damage or generally get a lot of crits in a short timeframe. Not only can it help avoid getting aggro but also push the envelope for how high DPS you can achieve, this is less applicable for HoX and more so for easier to use skills for e.g. sin and barb though. Alternatively is to use them when actually getting aggro to faster lose it.

    Basic Mechanics

    Know your limitations
    Before you can do any decent DPS you need to know what practical limitations some of your key abilities have. Near your Barracks 3 in the guild city are two straw men that are positioned perfectly just for this and you can also place a third straw man, for more advanced testing, by using Veteran points.

    Here are two examples that tests both the cone width and range limitations of Hellfire Breath
    - Exceeding width, Maximizing width
    - Exceeding range, Maximizing range

    When you know the limitations you can start positioning yourself properly, which bring you to the next section.

    HoX is all about positioning because no matter how good you master other aspects you will still not do good DPS if you can't do this properly.

    1. You should, when possible, always face the mob's back to get rid of the shields. If shields pop up (especially when more than one at top) you should try positioning yourself elsewhere when possible, unless it compromises DPS, which can happen when dealing with more than one mob, like significantly reducing targets hit by Hellfire Breath that can eat up the DPS provided by Inferno.

    2. Never change position to maximize one ability if doing so reduce other abilities efficiency by the same or more than its DPS.

    When dealing with more than one mob you should face inward from the mob cluster's edge to maximize targets hit by e.g.: Hellfire Breath and Tongue of Xotli unless the size is big enough to stay stationary deeper inside and also if you've abilities like Searing Hatred with Pillar's 360 degree AoE if not in conflict with number 2.

    So if you want to use Inferno, then you might need to move deeper inside the cluster to fully utilize the self-centered AoE, unless again it compromises DPS. In big clusters you want to be deep enough to let Inferno fully cover mobs while still maintaining a good position to utilize Hellfire Breath's width and range limitations. In the latter Inferno situation you might not want to use Tongue of Xotli if the end of the cluster is less than 10m from your current position while maintaining good cone coverage, so it would most likely be better to use it either before or after Inferno when being further out of the cluster.

    Correct Ability Utilization
    One should always be situational aware, meaning you should have some grasp of how thing will develop. One example can be the start of Wing 3 where pulls usually starts a bit slow then quickly escalades, so using a Tongue of Xotli on a few mobs when shortly afterwards big pulls start isn't ideal. This applies to all your abilities.

    Advanced Mechanics

    Extending Melee Range
    If you target a mob a bit behind a closer one you will extend max melee range for the combo finisher although white hits on the extended target will not register. This is especially useful for getting the Burn to Death DoT on more mobs.
    - Normal
    - Extended

    Combo Marking
    If you hit another mob with a combo key before getting to the last key in combo sequence then it's "marked" so you can improve the hit window.
    - Left one is "marked"

    Adaptive Targeting
    This is rewarding and highly dangerous in medium sized mob pulls, unless there is a 1:1 ratio between tanks and mobs. In practice it means changing target based on combos and spells (mostly thinking Chains here) used without changing position to maximize DPS and also be adaptive to changing shield orientation.

    Combo Cancelling
    When a mob is almost dead it's often better to cancel your combo finisher if your Hellfire Breath is off CD in time.

    Combo and Spell Merging
    You should always try to fill the Burn to Death combo with spells. In practice it means for example doing Hellfire Breath, Burn to Death combo till the last key, Tongue of Xotli followed by another Hellfire Breath before hitting the last key. All this is done in one combo

    Buff and Rotation

    - Burn to Death V
    Long key sequence and animation but high DoT combined with "Combo and Spell Merging" makes it a great combo, both single-target and especially for several mobs. You can also use the pretty fast Burn to Death IV when spells are on CD for spell merging.

    - Hell Strikes IV & V
    Since most of your damage is magic oriented it's of utmost importance that combos don't come in conflict with spell CDs, especially Hellfire Breath. These combos have a short key sequence and animation while doing decent damage thus making them excellent fillers between Burn to Death V.

    Pro-tip: If your Hellfire Breath's CD is one sec when thinking about doing a Hell Strike it's better to wait (can be used to slightly adjust your position to a more optimum one or cast Spitfire) than e.g. casting it after the first key in Hell Strikes V sequence since you get longer than normal delay before continuing the sequence. It provides a fast, smooth and high-DPS experience.

    - Pillar of Infernal Flame II & III
    They're 360 degree AoE and thus great for stacking the Inferno counter with a scattered mob clusters since the two Hell Strikes works wonders here on bunched up clusters because of their speed and being able to hit numerous mobs.

    - I Eat Your Heart
    Great for one-shooting minions. It can be used both offensively for fast minion clearing or defensively if getting aggro (think Reanimator and full AoE burn) or to save someone chased (CCs on CD or whatever reason) by minion(s) by using Word of Command and finish them off.

    - Body and Spirit Wrack III
    It's used on Louhi, not much more to say really.

    - Demon Maw
    It should either be used in long fights for buffing AoE (Inferno, Tongue of Xotli, Avatar's passive pulse) or short ones for burst damage (example by using Tongue of Xotli+Hellfire Breath in Pillars HM on the non-epic wolves) It also provide a decent 25 HPS heal (latter think for example Levi's hard-hitting AoE and it's also nice in large AoE fights when going full burn with buffed AoE for extra survivability since everything helps if gaining aggro).

    - Desecrating Essence
    You should always feat the stun, even only one point helps a lot but fully feated is ofc best, so you can help to CC lock either a mob (example T3 trash like Courate) or a cluster of mobs (Reanimator's adds, Vistrix's adds especially while casting its Vapor stun with adds still around your raid, etc.).

    It also used to buff your damage, see Demon Maw. It can be used in combination with the latter for spell burst damage or to maintaining high magic damage rating in long fights, so usually better not use them both at the same time. In a trash fight you can spell merge Demon Maw+Chains+Spitfire with the first Burn to Death combo and after some time (with Demon Maw still running) use Desecrating Essence to buff Tongue of Xotli + x10 stacked Inferno, if your stun isn't needed that is.

    Avatar+Poss have a much shorter Desecrating Essence CD and longer duration so they can use both buffs at the same time, while in long fight like Athyr-Bast I would rather use Demon Maw when Desecrating Essence wears off for constant high magic damage rating or to buff, if feated, Avatar's passive AoE that is nice even on one mob.

    - Chains
    Excellent for both single-target and several mobs since you can target the farthest one and also hit those in between if one a straight line .

    - Flame Lash
    Decent BtD filler and can also be used separately and supplemented by e.g. Hell Strikes III before next Hellfire Breath. It hits pretty hard even with a low stack (why it's great in PvP ). Important spell especially for T3 and T4 because of many low-magic-mitigation mobs and bosses.

    - Exultation of Xotli
    If you feat it and get the 0.5 sec casting reduction AA then it becomes a very nice BtD filler and it will also increase the DoT's damage. EoX is then also good for burst damage, e.g. Keeper's adds.

    - Inferno and Tongue of Xotli
    Most important here is to remember to use the sections: Positioning, Combo and Spell Merging and Correct Ability Utilization. Inferno is also excellent on long lasting single-target because of short casting time, while Tongue of Xotli is only a Burn to Death key sequence filler then.


    General: Max Pressing and Decisive Strikes (class desperately need crit- and crit dmg rating since raid gear don't provide much of these stats).
    Archtype: Max Will of the Sublime, Enchanter and Soothing Glamour (only -hate is important at first, especially with a avatar+poss build and with time and gear the other ones).
    Class: Red Shadows of Xotli (great for avatar+poss build but also provides poss+gen with decent passive damage boost and self-ress). Prince of Terror is also a nice gold perk but most beneficial in short-and-burst fights, especially with its somewhat lengthy CD of 45 sec. CD reduction of demon form and EoX are also good class ones.

    These are the most important AAs but getting Red Shadows fast is of utmost importance so one has not enough time to max the per-conceding AAs. So get 3/5 decisive and 2/5 pressing, 3/5 Soothing Glamour and 2/5 Will of the Sublime before heading for the class gold perk.

    Other AAs are not really important at first since their gains are small, even +5% hellfire breath will have pretty insignificant gain in total DPS increase.

    Since this is a raid guide it will ofc not take into consideration PvP AAs like: Ethereal Escape.

    Once you have maxed the most important AAs then you can start on maxing hellfire breath and burn-to-death dot. Other than the mentioned AAs, they're negligible to DPS performance.

  2. #2


    Nice well thought out post

    Looking at your build why no improved burning skull, also since you would be in a demon form allot, why no wrath of Xotli?
    Also spitfire, there a reason I am missing why so many points in that.

    Dont take this the wrong way not questioning you ability to know the class just curious, as I find improved burning skull to be the biggest dps increase for a single point on the Hox.
    Last edited by razzafour; 8th March 2013 at 12:13.

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by razzafour View Post
    Nice well thought out post

    Looking at your build why no improved burning skull, also since you would be in a demon form allot, why no wrath of Xotli?
    Also spitfire, there a reason I am missing why so many points in that.

    Dont take this the wrong way not questioning you ability to know the class just curious, as I find improved burning skull to be the biggest dps increase for a single point on the Hox.

    I find the burning skull a bit annoying mechanics wise so it's just a preference really.

    Spitfire: more points also increase damage, iirc it was from around 190 with 1/5 to around 210 with 5/5. Xotli's Vengeance is afaik better if you can hit more than one mob consistently with 4/5.

    Wrath of Xotli is nice for when in Avatar (especially when combined with Demonic Supplication) and yeah you've a point that you can easily reduce points in Possession or that, especially for T3.5 and lower. On the other side I always feat it when not running a more pillar focused build.
    Last edited by tafale; 8th March 2013 at 20:07.

  4. #4


    I didn't notice a difference between 1 point and 5 points in spitfire. And I'm full t4.

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by Ruhenous View Post
    I didn't notice a difference between 1 point and 5 points in spitfire. And I'm full t4.
    Tested it in TL.

    Maybe you just didn't notice it or you witnessed one of the traits of HoX, crazy fluctuations in results

  6. #6


    You should mention the Pillars 10% damage boost AA. 10% is a lot considering Pillars crits end up reaching over 6K eventually (more in T3). Awesome guide, though. This helped me out a lot when my HoX was a baby, but I think you should say more about Pillars + Searing Hatred, as it's certainly viable to use instead of Hell Strikes at this point.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by tafale View Post
    Tested it in TL.

    Maybe you just didn't notice it or you witnessed one of the traits of HoX, crazy fluctuations in results
    Nah, I averaged out all the hits of Spitfire between 25 tests of 1 point and 5 points. The results averaged out to be around 250 damage for each hit no matter how many points. I'll do some more testing though.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by tafale View Post

    They're not needed in raids since Demo and ToS do them much more efficent and for more mobs. Molten Steel Slash is slow and low damage and Inferno Curse has a long casting time, unless feated, so you will provide less DPS if using your debuffs. So you should only use your debuffs (Inferno Curse only if feated) in instances when there're no ToS and/or Demo around.
    They don't stack? I thought MSS and Inferno Curse stacked on top of what Demo / Tos debuffs did.

  9. #9


    MSS is elemental wrack and IC is elemental ruin. All classes get some Wracks, Ruins and Torments for their damage types but only torments stack and hox has no torments. Demo/tos will apply elemental wrack/ruin a lot better than hox so any time there's one nearby you might as well give up on MSS and IC.

  10. #10


    nice guide thnx for sharing I was wandering though insanity and dark blessing of xotli is for the mana drain in loui. Is this needed after the neft of the instance? And an other question in my tests with chain spell the only time that it does damage to a mob is when the mob hits you and even if i line up mobs and use it to the one more far from me only this gets the chains icon (8 sec debuff) am i not getting the spell right or its changed?
    I am using this for groups and raids (though haven't been to t3 yet)
    Jenyu - Assassin
    Lutheor - Herald Of Xotli

    "Now you see me, now you don't"

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