A poll on the Vermintide subreddit revealed my three favorite careers to be the least favorite among the community. I would like to give tips and tricks for how to have more success with them and learn to love them.
I follow the Vermintide subreddit and was fascinated by a recent series of posts by u/Jonteman93. It was a poll of the community in which participants voted out their least favorite careers one-by-one. I was surprised to see that my three favorite careers were the first ones voted out: Huntsman, Outcast Engineer, and Pyromancer. I also see a fair amount of other posts that lament about the weaknesses of these three careers along with suggestions for reworking them.
I used to dislike all of these careers as well; I subscribed to the idea that Waystalker and Battle Wizard were the superior ranged careers in every way, and I seldom played any other career for ranged combat. However, over time I learned how to utilize the strengths of all three careers by changing my play style and familiarizing myself with the weapons.
Full disclosure, I am by no means an expert. I have ~500 hours in the game and regularly perform well in all of my matches. I do not claim anything I state to be fact or the ‘right’ way to do things, I am merely sharing my perspective and my success with the three careers listed.
Huntsman’s active ability is Hunter’s Prowl. For 6 seconds:
- It grants stealth until an attack is made
- Gives increased ranged damage and attack speed
- Makes no ammo consumed upon reload
There are two primary uses for this ability: Disengaging and boss damage. The stealth can save your life when you are in an unwinnable situation and need to escape, while the increased ranged damage, speed, and ammo a*sists with killing bosses. The selection of talents largely does not impact the way that this ability is used.
Waste Not, Want Not. Recovers 1 ammo upon hitting with a headshot, identical to the weapon trait Conservative Shooter. This is what makes Huntsman a higher skill cap career, he relies on headshots for his ammunition sustainability.
Call Out Weakness. An aura of 5% critical hit chance. Normally won’t be too much of a help to your team since you will be hanging back and shooting, but it is nice to have for yourself.
Poacher’s Mark. Doubles effective range for ranged weapons. This is what makes Huntsman an excellent sniper career. This allows you to shoot specials and elites over a great distance for high damage. You are never too far away from an enemy to kill it efficiently.
Deep Pockets. Increased maximum ammo. This is ubiquitous among ranged careers.
I won’t go over every talent as this isn’t a build guide, this is a play style guide. I will, however, review some talents I see as critical. If you want an in-depth review of builds and talents, check out the guides by Royale w/ Cheese.
Keep it Coming. Makes every third ranged hit consume no ammo. This is an amazing talent for players who don’t have a headshot rate >30%.
Makin’ It Look Easy. After scoring a ranged headshot, gain 25% critical strike chance for a few seconds (or until your next ranged hit, this component is not listed). Along with the increase in damage from more critical hits, this talent combined with the Scrounger trait on weapons further increases ammo sustain.
Shot Crafter. Killing a special restores 10% of ammo. Huntsman is amazing at killing specials, and this offers more ammo for playing how he should.
I will only review the melee weapons which I see as top tier for Huntsman. I do believe that any melee weapon can be effective, however, and ultimately you should choose what you prefer.
Use the spear. The spear is an incredible defensive weapon perfect for a ranged career. It’s range can kill weaker enemies before they approach you, it has the push-block angle of a shield, and high stamina. It also has a great moveset; the combo I have found effective is: push attack -> light attack -> heavy attack -> repeat. Also, you can hold heavy attack 1 indefinitely, which increases your movement speed.
If you don’t like or don’t own the spear, then use the 1 handed sword. It has good stamina, a good push attack that you can mix into light attacks, and the heavy attacks are nice for thick hordes.
If you seem to be taking too much damage when using the 1 handed sword, switch to sword and shield. The increased stamina, push-block angle, and crowd control should help to keep you alive. The moveset is a bit worse at killing hordes and armored elites though, so you may have to rely on teammates.
The following list of ranged weapons is ordered for you to select based on how good your aim is. Starting from bad aim and ending with elite aim.
The blunderbuss, like most shotgun type weapons, is only truly effective on Legend and Cataclysm where the hordes are much more dense. I cannot recommend the blunderbuss to be used below Legend, especially when other shotgun-type weapons outcla*s it. The increased effectiveness of ranged weapons from the Poacher’s Mark pa*sive does allow you to shoot at a decent range though.
The repeater handgun offers a high clip, high ammo, high rate of fire choice for less damage, especially against armor. This makes you very weak against armored enemies without headshot but great against unarmored. There also is a cool trick with this gun. Hold right-click and begin shooting to enter rapid fire. When you only have 1 bullet left in your clip, activate Hunter’s Prowl. Your clip will instantly refill to full without consuming any ammo while continuing your rapid fire. Combine with a potion of strength to deal a lot of damage to monsters quickly.
The unique weapon of Huntsman and my weapon of choice, the Longbow. Even though it shares a name with Kerillian’s longbow, there are some key differences:
- It draws slower and deals more damage
- It has a lower total ammo count
- Kruber moves slower at full draw
- Kruber’s longbow can be shot before full draw is reached and deals decreased damage if shot in this way.
- The zoom is delayed until after the full draw is complete
The partial draw is noticeable by the way Kruber holds the bow; it is held more horizontally at roughly a 120 degree angle. When the full draw is complete, Kruber will shift his grip on the bow to be closer to 90 degrees. After a brief moment at full draw, the zoom will initiate. Some photos to demonstrate:
Some more pictures to show the difference in damage between the partial and charged shots, and then compared to Kerillian’s longbow:
The handgun. Lower ammo count, more damage, slower reload and slow rate of fire. Use this if you can hit a headshot on at least half of your shots. Otherwise, I would still recommend the longbow.
- As a dedicated elite/special sniper career, Huntsman players need to be constantly aware of their positioning and their surroundings. It is important to keep a good distance between yourself and enemies in order to keep shooting at priority targets like specials and elites; if you have to defend yourself with your melee weapon, you are unable to shoot.
- It is imperative to practice until you can average headshots at least 1 in every 4 shots. That rate of headshots should allow you to maintain your ammunition for an entire mission with only 1-2 pickups. If you have trouble with this, play a different ranged career and practice getting headshots until you feel comfortable.
- You don’t need a headshot on specials, prioritize killing them quickly, as they are dangerous. A headshot is desirable, but the 10% ammo gained from shot crafter makes up for a lack of a headshot.
- Change your playstyle based on the monster/lord. Huntsman can absolutely melt certain bosses while faring much worse against others. When fighting a Stormfiend, Bile Troll, Halescourge, Deathrattler/Rasknitt, and Nurgloth, stand back and shoot as much as possible. These monsters frequently stand still and make chaining headshots together a breeze; the longbow and repeater handgun are much better at this than the blunderbuss and handgun. Against other monsters/lords, particularly high mobility ones, shoot sparingly and play more defensive.
- When using the repeater handgun, I recommend using the talent Blend In at level 30 to decrease your ability cooldown. This will allow you to shoot more frequently and utilize the rapid fire trick more often.
- When using the longbow, know when to use the partial draw instead of a full draw. Partial draw shots can easily be chained together by holding down right-click and spamming left-click. This will give you the highest DPS possible on the longbow and is better in certain situations. Use this technique when shooting at an incoming horde, try to aim at head level to get several headshots per arrow to refill ammo quickly. The partially drawn shots also have the same amount of cleave and stagger as fully drawn shots, so you will still pierce plenty of targets. Also use this against unarmored monsters and lords, this will increase your DPS against them regardless if you get headshots or not when compared to fully drawn shots. You should fully draw your bow when shooting armored monster/lord, specials, elites, and super-armor. Kruber’s longbow fully drawn is the only bow that can damage super-armor on a body shot.
- When using the longbow, you can shoot right as Kruber begins to rotate the bow and it will count as a fully drawn shot. If you can practice the timing, you can chain together full shots only slightly slower than spamming partial shots. If you time each shot quick enough, you will also prevent yourself from zooming in with the longbow. It is uncertain if this strategy offers higher DPS than spamming partially drawn shots, but spamming partially charged shots is certainly easier.
- If you are using the handgun, consider a higher damaging melee weapon. Compared to the other 3 ranged weapons, the handgun is the worst at clearing a horde. This results in being in melee more often when using this weapon (on average). The spear, sword, and sword and shield are lower damage weapons intended to get you out of melee to shoot. When using the handgun, however, you may have to rely on melee to kill a higher number of enemies.
Closing Thoughts on Huntsman
Huntsman is my favorite career and I do quite well with him. My headshot rate isn’t elite, but it is good enough to make Huntsman more effective for me than Waystalker or Bounty Hunter as an elite/special killer. I understand why Huntsman is disliked among the community, he takes much more effort to receive a little more benefit. Much of the skill required to play Huntsman is also highlighted by his ability, Hunter’s Prowl. It requires you to still hit your shots (unlike Waystalker’s ability) but increases your damage output exponentially while not consuming ammo. The real appeal for me is the Tuskgor Spear and his Longbow. The spear has incredible range, defense, and control while the longbow offers incredible damage potential with a rate of fire that surpa*ses the crossbow and handgun.
Outcast Engineer Mechanics
Steam-Assisted Crankgun. This minigun is unique in that it isn’t an ability so much as it is a third weapon. It is incredibly powerful but requires a lot of micromanagement, positioning, and care. Its rapid fire can destroy hordes far faster than anything else in the entire game. The crank gun uses your ability bar as bullets and does not use traditional ammo.
Build Pressure. The ‘reloading’ method for the crank gun. Holding your reload button with the crank gun equipped will build stacks of pressure, up to 5. Each stack increases your ability bar generation rate, essentially reloading your crank gun. Stacks are lost whenever you shoot the crank gun or reach full ability bar. Stacks decrease over time and need to be reapplied.
Gunsmith. Increases max ammo by 50%. Ubiquitous among ranged careers.
Spotter. Increases ranged power of nearby allies by 10%. You won’t be around allies too frequently for this to help your team, but it can make a real difference when you are.
Utility Belt. You can carry up to 3 bombs at once. Nice.
Outcast Engineer has many strong talent choices that compete with each other in the same slot. I will highlight the major ones which determine playstyle.
Innovative Ammo Hoppers. Gives 50% more ability bar (which translates into more shooting) and killing a special stops the ability bar from draining for 4 seconds. This level 30 talent turns you into a rapid fire horde and monster killing machine. Choosing this talent will create the ‘rapid fire’ playstyle.
Gromril-Plated Shot. Reduces rate of fire but increases damage and armor penetration. This other level 30 talent changes your style of play dramatically by significantly reducing the crank gun’s damage against hordes. This talent allows you to easily destroy any armored enemy, elite, or special with only a few shots. Choosing this talent will create the ‘armor piercing’ playstyle.
Experimental Steam Capacitors, talent choice at level 20 for the rapid fire build. Stacks of pressure are no longer lost upon shooting or filling the ability bar. This allows you to maintain pressure while shooting, essentially increasing your crank gun ammo dramatically.
Superior Gaskets, the talent choice at level 20 for the armor piercing build. Stacks of pressure are not lost over time, the new maximum is 4, and each stack increases attack speed by 2.5%. This talent allows Bardin to shoot his crank gun, build 4 stacks, enter melee with increased attack speed, and not have to re-equip the crank gun until the ability bar is full again.
Outcast Engineer relies heavily on his Crank Gun to be effective. Therefore, there is less emphasis placed on weapon choice. Below are general guidelines and examples, but any weapon combination is generally viable.
Select a defensive melee weapon. Defensive melee weapons are characterized by good stagger, cleave, pushing, and stamina. Some potent examples are the cog hammer, axe and shield, and dual hammers.
For the rapid fire build, select a high damage ranged weapon. The rapid fire crank gun will struggle against armored enemies, you will need to rely on another ranged weapon. The handgun, masterwork pistol, and trollhammer torpedo are all great at killing armor.
For the armor piercing build, choose a ranged weapon that is effective against mobs. The armor piercing crank gun is poor against groups with its low rate of fire and low projectile count. The drakegun, gruderaker, and drakefire pistols are much better at dealing with standard enemies.
Outcast Engineer Playstyle
- Consider your crank gun a weapon, not an ability. Also consider it your primary weapon. Your crank gun is your source of power as an engineer and you should use it as frequently as possible. That being said, it is very difficult to use because of the following reasons.
- Positioning is everything. Since you should be shooting as much as possible all of the time, you need to be aware of your surroundings and keep yourself safe. Your teammates should help you, that is true, but you shouldn’t rely on them. Engineer is one of the least mobile and defensive careers in the game and therefore has serious difficulty escaping or avoiding danger while shooting. This can easily lead to deaths from the most basic enemies that you were unaware of.
- Managing your resources is almost as important as positioning yourself. The difficulty of engineer comes from managing three weapons, especially the pressure stacks on crank gun. You need to always keep an eye on your pressure stacks to make sure that your ability bar is always refilling. This requires pausing your shots to build stacks while using the rapid fire build. This aspect of engineer is far easier when playing as the armor piercing build with the superior gaskets talent and should be used by beginners to engineer, in my opinion.
- Know when to enter melee. While it is true that you should prioritize shooting as much as possible, do not neglect melee, especially when defending yourself. Putting away your crank gun too late can easily cause you to take significant damage and/or go down. Again, this aspect is easier on the armor piercing build as superior gaskets offers increased attack speed.
- When using the rapid fire build, focus on hordes with your crank gun and switch to your ranged weapon to kill armored enemies. This build is also considerably more difficult than the armor piercing build because of the need to reapply pressure stacks. However, the increased skill and effort is well rewarded, as a good rapid fire engineer can make the entire game trivial for his whole team.
- When using the armor piercing build, use your crank gun against armor and your ranged weapon for horde. You can also use your crank gun on horde before applying stacks. You can do this because you have no need to reapply stacks and can comfortably empty your ability bar without worry.
Closing Thoughts on Outcast Engineer
I would cla*sify engineer as a high skill cap character. Unlike most ranged careers, the skill is not in aiming. The skill in engineer resides in your ability to position yourself and micromanage your three weapons. Engineer is commonly disliked by many due to his different nature of playstyle, he is also somewhat more reliant on his teammates to keep him safe relative to all other careers. However, a good engineer can be the best person on the team by far. Unfortunately, an engineer player who isn’t familiar with the playstyle can also become a liability. I also think the option to play engineer two different ways is highly appealing. The armor piercing engineer is a great way to get introduced to the cla*s through less micromanagement and less reliance on the crank gun while still being very effective at higher level play. While the rapid fire build can nearly kill all hordes in a mission by himself, but is notably more difficult to master.
The Burning Head. Sienna unleashes a flaming skull that seeks out enemies. This does a good amount of damage to your target and a few enemies, usually killing any non-monster instantly. It is worth noting that the seeking property is much worse that that of Waystalker’s ability. It is wise to hold the career skill button and aim at your intended target.
Critical Ma*s. Increases critical strike chance by up to 30% based on your overcharge. This essentially translates into higher damage at higher overcharge, and synergies very well with weapon traits that rely on critical strikes.
Searing Focus. Increases ranged damage by 10%. Epic.
Pyromancer’s talents have clear choices at certain levels and Royale w/ Cheese (as mentioned before) has some excellent guides on talent choice. I want to discuss the 3 level 30 talents.
Blazing Echo. Critical hits with The Burning Head refund its cooldown. High risk high reward ultimate. From my understanding I believe it is possible to get somewhere around 50% critical hit chance with pyromancer, but that is reliant on weapon properties and talent choices that may not be optimal. This talent is much more viable in chaos wastes with certain boons, however.
Bonded Flame. The Burning Head grants you 35 temp hp. Most versatile and a safe choice. The temp hp can be used to mitigate damage from enemies or from venting your overcharge.
Exhaust. The Burning Head removes all overcharge. This talent can significantly increase DPS. With bonded flame you have to stop shooting to vent overcharge before you can shoot again. With exhaust, you can shoot until you are near maximum overcharge, use The Burning Head, then continue shooting. This allows you to put out high amounts of ranged damage for over 15 seconds.
Pyromancer should use high attack speed, high damage weapons to capitalize on her increased critical chance. Cleave and stagger are less important because of her ranged weapons’ ability to clear hordes. The dagger, sword, and crowbill are all excellent choices.
Fireball Staff. This is my #1 choice for ranged weapon on Pyromancer. It is quite simple to use: against hordes and monsters, hold right-click and spam left-click. This will create high-pierce fireballs with small explosions; this method of shooting can deal heavy damage over a short period. Against armor, left click. Fully charging a fireball is not as effective in either circumstance.
Conflagration Staff. I recommend this as an alternative to the fireball staff if you have a difficult time avoiding friendly fire, as the fireball staff can be reckless. However, if you can keep your aim at least decent, always use fireball over conflagration.
Coruscation Staff. This is the shotgun choice for Pyromancer. Left click is high damage and generates a lot of heat, it is also good against armor. Holding right click to place fire pillars is great at the front of a horde or underneath a boss to constantly deal damage. This weapon can be a strong choice if you have another long range teammate.
Bolt Staff. This turns Pyromancer into a sniper instead of a crowd killer. The low heat generation means that more shots can be made, which allows you to take greater advantage of the increased critical strike chance. When using this staff it is prudent to select a more defensive melee weapon, however.
- Don’t be afraid to hurt yourself with venting. Most of Pyromancer’s damage comes from being at high overcharge to take advantage of the increased critical hit chance. Therefore, it is a good strategy to shoot until almost at critical overcharge, vent down to roughly half, keep shooting, and repeat. This does involve taking small amounts of health damage somewhat frequently so it is important to mix in melee occasionally to generate temp hp. Level 30 talents bonded flame and exhaust can help with this.
- Pyromancer can be quite effective in melee. Selecting the level 25 talent The Volans Doctrine eliminates being slowed down from overcharge. It is a good strategy to take this talent, generate high amounts of heat, then wade into melee combat with 20%-30% increased critical hit chance. This can result in generating a good amount of temp hp, especially with the temp hp on kill talent at level 5. There are 1-2 other talents that can create a good melee Pyromancer as well.
- Friendly fire voice lines are misleading. Many of Pyromancer’s weapons have an area of effect. If an ally is caught within an area of effect, their friendly fire voice line may trigger, leading you and your teammates to believe that you are damaging them. For example, if your teammate was on the edge of a fireball explosion, they could have taken no actual damage because they were too far away from the epicenter, but the voice line still triggered. A few of Sienna’s weapons have this issue, particularly on Champion where the friendly fire damage is decreased. Do not try to use this as an excuse if you are actually damaging your teammates, though.
- The bulk of your damage is not damage over time. Compared to many Battle Wizard and Unchained builds that utilize DoT more, Pyromancer is different in this aspect. This could be a cause of distaste for Pyromancer among players. The critical strike chance does not benefit DoT and therefore it is important to play Pyromancer with a different mentality than Sienna’s other careers.
- Pyromancer benefits greatly from supportive teammates. Mercenary, Grail Knight*, Waystalker, Sister of the Thorn, and Warrior Priest all have methods of providing health or temporary health to their teammates. This allows the Pyromancer to more frequently vent her overcharge which leads to greater damage output. If you are coordinating with a team, consider these synergies.
Closing Thoughts on Pyromancer
Pyromancer has the ability to unleash incredible ranged damage to enemies while maintaining great melee effectiveness for a ranged career. The challenge with Pyromancer involves keeping overcharge somewhat high and not taking too much of your own health away. A Pyromancer needs to be consistently considering the value of their own health versus the value of increased damage. Due to the nature of this health-for-damage mechanic, Pyromancer is inherently a high-risk high-reward character and should be played as such. It can be expected for a Pyromancer to output the most damage at the end of a match while also having taken the most damage. The challenge in that playstyle is avoiding going down and not using health consumables to the point that they are taken away from your team.
It seems that my an*lysis and conclusions for all three careers seem to have a commonality. A different skill is required to excel at these careers compared to other ranged careers. Huntsman is heavily reliant on headshots to succeed, Outcast Engineer is reliant on his crank gun/pressure stack management, and Pyromancer is reliant on maintaining high overcharge and venting health for damage.
All other ranged careers, Ranger Veteran, Waystalker, Bounty Hunter, and Battle Wizard are all relatively more straightforward. They don’t have to hit a certain part of an enemy to succeed and their ammo/resource management is much more pa*sive. Ranger Veteran gets ammo dropped at his feet when he or any teammate kills a special, Waystalker can get 30% ammo for each elite and special she kills with her ability, Bounty Hunter can get 5% ammo from his guaranteed critical hits every 6-10 seconds with the Scrounger trait, and Battle Wizard automatically vents overcharge for no health cost.
I think the core of the issue here is flawed character design. Why do Huntsman, Outcast Engineer, and Pyromancer have extra steps to be effective? Could it be argued that these are limitations that, when surpa*sed, make them better than their counterparts? I like to think so, and I have come to love these three careers over my long experience with this game. As I mentioned, however, to me this is flawed character design. I believe it to be the result of cramming fifteen to twenty careers into a game about killing rats with melee weapons; it isn’t possible to create true variety with that level of quantity. For that reason, I’m glad that Fatshark’s new game, Darktide, seems to only include four characters. I am hopeful for the future that their new game has more fleshed out careers that have increased variety and enjoyment.
I love this game, I love this community, and I love these three careers. I hope that you do, too.
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