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Athena Maelstrom Skill Stacking

The purpose of this topic is to explain a method for generating high stacks of Maelstrom primarily using Hyperion elemental shotguns. As with any perfect storm there needs to be a combination of events that take place (active skills) while certain conditions have to be met (gear choice). This is by no means the only effective method to build Maelstrom stacks but I do think it is unique because it is mainly gun-based.

  • The Perfect Storm- A Maelstrom stacking method
    https://youtu.be/OBzjtoI3m8g 1.3k
  • Boss Build 2.5k with Raging/Surging Storm (Storm Weaving and Unrelenting)
  • Mob Build 2.2k with Raging/Surging Storm

 

Key Gear:

Class Mod: Raging/Surging Storm (Storm Weaving/Unrelenting) or Raging/Surging Storm (for a sample comparison in fire rate performance between blue and purple Raging Storm class mods see this post)

Oz Kit: Voltaic Strafing Run + Fire Rate and Reload Speed boost while airborne

Weapons:

  • Slot 1: The Stacker ( Shock ) Single barreled shotgun with vertical grip accessory for higher fire rate and pellet count
  • Slot 2: The Closer ( Shock or Incendiary ) Multi-barreled shotgun with higher pellet count
  • Slot 3: The Flash Freezer (Cryo) Just put your preferred Cryo weapon here
  • Slot 4: Any other preferred elemental weapon (Explosive/Corrosive/Shock/Incendiary)

 

The ideal Stacker is a Shock elemental single-barrel shotgun with the accessory that boosts both pellet count and fire rate.

The best weapon in the game at generating Maelstrom stacks is the Practicable Thinking shotgun bar none.

It has three key elements that make it effective:

  1. Ammo efficient (1 round per shot) allowing longer periods of stack building before having to reload
  2. It fires multiple projectiles per shot with each projectile and DoT generating Maelstrom stacks
  3. It maintains high stability and accuracy at very high rates of fire.

 

Now, The Closer is what I call either a Shock or Incendiary elemental shotgun that you can swap to after a kill. You will have three key skills active at this point that combine to produce the massive surge in Maelstrom:

Storm Weaving + Elemental Barrage + Unrelenting.

This is the skill combination that you are working towards and trying to set up at every opportunity for The Closer. My recommendation is a 2-, 3-, or 4-barreled Hyperion shotgun because of their stability and precision with high fire rate.

Weapon accessory matters less here than it does for stacking but it should be obvious that the more projectiles fired per shot the faster Maelstrom stacks will accumulate while Storm Weaving, Elemental Barrage, and Unrelenting are active. Central to this is gaining free shots via Elemental Barrage. Without this skill active, max stacks would not be possible as you would be constantly reloading due to the extreme rate of fire that Athena can generate.

At 300 stacks with 5/5 Elemental Barrage you will have a 60% chance to not consume ammo
At 400 stacks with 5/5 Elemental Barrage you will have a 70% chance to not consume ammo
At 500 stacks with 5/5 Elemental Barrage you will have a 80% chance to not consume ammo

300-500 Maelstrom stacks is a good range to begin testing your luck to see how many free shots you can get with your Closer. Obviously, the more stacks you have built up, the more likely it is that you can use the Closer without having to reload, only having to swap once Storm Weaving is out of time.

Getting a kill and having Unrelenting active makes the quick swap to the Closer even better at this point as you can take advantage of the fire rate boost and see a massive surge in Maelstrom stacks. Just make sure that you are always aware of your stacks and do not swap to the Closer too soon (<300 stacks).

If you begin using The Closer early, your rhythm will likely be broken as you are generally forced to reload more frequently. It all depends on your luck with Elemental Barrage.

Now The Flash Freezer makes things interesting. Not only is Cryo a great element to use to increase Critical Hit Damage but with the addition of Flash Freeze, it can stop a potential negative swing in momentum.

Wait, wait wait! Flash Freeze?!?! Yep. This guy! This guy right here! Flash Freeze is a great utility skill when it comes to building and maintaining Maelstrom stacks. If you base your DPS on high Maelstrom stacks, take another look at this skill. If you like to hang around the 100-250 range, it’s probably not going to be on the top of your priority list because you’re probably more reliant on Tear and Omega-Senshu for burst DPS and quick stopping power.

But Flash Freeze’s utility shines in two ways. First, it allows you to use Corrosive, Explosive, and Cryo weapons without penalty of losing Maelstrom stacks at the same time. Second, and arguably more important, it can be used at crucial stages in the stack building process to stop the bleed out of Maelstrom.

What I’ve realized is that there are these small climbs that you need to overcome on the way to the Maelstrom mountaintop. It requires overcoming fire rate breakpoints and/or the rapid decay rate of Maelstrom stacks (for a closer look at overcoming fire rate breakpoints see this post). Flash Freeze can give you time to reload and recover your rhythm without bleeding out Maelstrom and starting up again.

The optimal number of points for Flash Freeze is largely dependent on your build, gear, and playstyle so don’t be afraid to experiment with it. During my earlier experience with it I thought that two seconds was plenty of time and that anything approaching five seconds was unmanageable.

Well, for my playstyle, I was wrong. Five seconds is quite manageable and closer to my ideal length of time (I haven’t experimented with longer Flash Freeze but plan to). If you think about the time that it takes to reload a weapon and/or swap to activate Storm Weaving it’s probably right around five seconds.

It works very well with freeze-and-swap tactics to abuse Cryo’s massive damage bonus to critical hits, melee, or EXPLOSIONS. It also works quite well with fighting armored enemies and you want to dust off that Corrosive weapon in your backpack. Stack, freeze, swap, finish. Repeat.

Keep in mind that the core driving force to maximizing Maelstrom with this method are the two skills in the Storm class mod, Storm Weaving and Unrelenting. Maelstrom gets a lot of well-deserved attention and praise for being a 1-point wonder DPS buff. But the real engine behind it all is Storm Weaving.

Weapon swapping is where the magic happens. Central to it is the massive bonus to fire rate, elemental effect chance, and reduced ammo usage via Elemental Barrage. This combination can quickly generate stacks to a high enough level and is the set-up for Unrelenting to turn you into the complete force of nature that Ceraunic Storm can create.

Thanks for reading. Happy stacking.

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