Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mass Effect 2 - Squad Builds - Power Support (on Insanity Difficulty)

Mass Effect 2 Squad Builds - Power Support (on Insanity difficulty)
(Click here for all Mass Effect 2 Builds)

In this post, we cover builds for Kasumi Goto, Liara T'Soni, Miranda Lawson, Mordin Solus, Samara, Tali'Zorah vas Neema, and Thane Krios. They are "Power Support" squad members because they have an attack power that removes protections, and is not reliant on the target being unprotected.

Garrus Vakarian
See our post on Fire Support squad builds for a discussion on Garrus. He also counts as a Power Support character because he has access to Overload, although Armor Piercing Ammo is probably his best Power.

Kasumi Goto
Shadow Strike 3 → Overload 2
Master Thief 4 (Master Infiltrator)
Flashbang Grenade 4 (Improved)

(with Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC squad member respec)
Shadow Strike 4 → Overload 0
Master Thief 4 (Master Infiltrator)
Flashbang Grenade 4 (Improved)

Shadow Strike is powerful, but can require a lot of micromanagement on your part. You need to make sure Kasumi will survive when she reveals herself to strike the target. This is not important against a single target since they will likely be incapacitated, but if there are too many enemies with guns nearby, it is generally too dangerous to send her in unless she is behind them all (enemies typically do not turn around to look for targets). After she returns and uncloaks, you need to send her back into cover if she is exposed. If you do this too early, it can abort her invisible return and she walks the rest of the way, not protected by invisibility.
Also, it is not always clear when she cannot use the power against a target and it can be very annoying trying to manually send her somewhere. Generally it will be easier to set Squad Use of powers on, and just let her manage herself -- but keep an eye on her position, especially when she returns.
Cooldown for the Shadow Strike starts only after she returns, so even though the power can do a lot of damage, if she walks a long way there and back, it might not be worth the risk and time. For this reason, Rapid Shadow Strike is recommended, and the target should be softened first to maximize the chance of a kill. Once she is back, the 80% cooldown reduction typically means she can go again in less than 2 seconds.

Overload is useful during the first fight in her loyalty mission, so you will likely have at least rank 1 there. If Shepard can handle that battle without her having Overload, then try not to put any points here so you don't have to respec.
Overload is quite generically useful, so you may want to develop it, but there are other squadmembers who have the power that you don't have to rely on Kasumi. Instead, develop her unique powers and choose her because of them.

Because Kasumi is a Power Support squad member, we recommend the Master Infiltrator evolution for the improved cooldown.

Although the Flashbang Grenade has great utility and ease of use when launched by Kasumi, it does not appear to reliably work against protected enemies -- some effects can work against some enemies some of the time. Why it won't work later is not clear. Example, if she FlashBangs an armored Husk before it is damaged by anything else, that Husk will fall down and be automatically killed instantly. If her FlashBang fails because the protected target has been hit by something else, all further attempts against any protected target will only inflict damage and no additional effects.

Liara T'Soni
Singularity 2 → Warp 4 (Unstable Warp)
Asari Scientist 4 (Asari Controller)
Stasis 3

Liara T'Soni only has up to 29 squad points. Normally, a squad member has a loyalty mission which unlocks a fourth Power that automatically starts at rank 1. Liara T'Soni does not have this and instead starts with four powers.

Her Singularity power has a massive 20-second cooldown, meaning it is pretty much useless. Singularity is used to hold unprotected enemies and set them up for Warp detonations. At 20 seconds, Liara is locked out for too long compared to its utility, especially as she doesn't have any strong weapons with which to shoot in the meantime. Use her for Warp and let someone else set up her Warp Detonations.

At rank 4, Warp has the curious attribute of having a 12-second cooldown for Heavy Warp, but only a 9-second cooldown on Unstable Warp. Not only does Unstable Warp therefore have a slightly better damage-per-second rating but it comes with additional benefits of a wider detonation and frees Liara from cooldown lockdown faster.

The difference between her Asari Scientist evolutions is 7% to damage or 7% to power cooldown. She only has minimal weapon training, so go with the improved power cooldown.

Miranda Lawson
Overload 4 (Heavy Overload)
Warp 4 (Unstable Warp)
Cerberus Officer 4 (Cerberus Leader)
Slam 1

Miranda (and Jacob Taylor) are the only squad members who can have 31 Squad Points, because they start with two skills at rank 1. Miranda also has two core powers that let her deal with all three types of protection effectively -- Shields, Barriers, and Armor -- making her one of the best choices as a squad member for all missions. She can cover Shepard's weaknesses in those areas, and it is recommended that Overload and Warp be maximized early so that Shepard can concentrate of his career power and the associated Morality and cooldown bonuses.

Heavy Overload is favoured for its concentrated power. Shielded enemies typically do not have any other protection (unless they are a boss, in which case they also have armor), so once you take that off you can hit them with another useful effect. Also, despite the improved area in Area Overload, you are rarely going to hit more than one or two targets.

See Liara T'Soni for the discussion on choosing Unstable Warp over Heavy Warp.

Because squad members tend to be good at managing their shields to keep them from completely falling, the health bonus is not as useful as the weapon damage bonus from Cerberus Leader. In any case, the difference is only +7.5%, so either is fine.

Slam is sadly a poor power for Miranda on Insanity difficulty where just about every enemy starts with some protection. Damage is weak, and it only affects unprotected targets. Miranda has a 9-second cooldown, so only a high-rank Slam will leave the target disabled longer than her cooldown (whereas Shepard has a 3-second cooldown with Slam). Against an unprotected target, Overload and Warp are better choices.

Mordin Solus
Incinerate 4 → Cryo Blast 3 (Deep Cryo Blast)
Salarian Scientist 4 (Salarian Genius)
Neural Shock 2

(with Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC squad member respec)
Incinerate 4 (Heavy Incinerate) → Cryo Blast 4 (Deep Cryo Blast)
Salarian Scientist 4 (Salarian Genius)
Neural Shock 0

Mordin can be given an Omni-Tool that improves his tech damage by +20%, making him a very strong tech choice if you need Incinerate, especially after stacking squad tech improvements.

The Salarian Scientist evolutions are both good as the difference is minimal. Since squad members manage their shields well already, weapon damage is probably more generally useful.

Neural Shock is basically useless because Mordin has Cryo Blast, which is not limited in effect to organics and which can damage protections (but not freeze a protected target). If you have the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, which lets you respec squad members, it is highly recommended to drop Neural Shock altogether and maximize Cryo Blast because at rank 4, Mordin's cooldown halves from 9 seconds to 4.5 seconds (same as Shepard), and is faster than Neural Shock (9 seconds). However, since both powers are really only useful against unprotected targets, this is not a priority.

Cryo Blast can damage protections (but not health), so you can use it to attack instead of just to freeze. Damage per hit is less than Incinerate, but Mordin can fire it almost three times in the same period he can fire Incinerate just once. Net damage is still slightly less than with Incinerate, so you will have to decide if the flexibility with cooldown reduction is more useful to you. If you don't want to think so much, just go with maximum Incinerate. If a target only has a bit of protection left, you can take that off with Cryo Blast, then Cryo Blast again to freeze them.

Throw 2 → Pull 3
Asari Justicar 4 (Sapiens Justicar)
Reave 4

Samara's Reave is very useful not just for taking down Barriers and Armor, but for its initial disabling of the target, during which time they take extra damage. This makes it a sort of combination Pull plus attack, making Pull unnecessary except to set up Warp detonations for other biotics.

As Power Support, we recommend the Sapiens Justicar evolution of her Asari Justicar power, which emphasizes power cooldown.

Tali'Zorah vas Neema
Combat Drone 3 (Attack) → AI Hacking 1
Quarian Machinist 4
Energy Drain 4 (Heavy)

Like Legion, the Combat Drone has greatly reduced utility for a squad member on Insanity difficulty because of the long cooldown and low survivability rate of the drone. For this reason, once you get Energy Drain for her, that becomes your primary attack. Since AI Hacking is of limited utility and possibly less useful at rank 2+ (see our notes on AI Hacking in our Engineer Build Guide), consider getting the rank 4 Attack Drone for Tali or just 1 rank of AI Hacking.

Both of her Quarian Machinst evolutions are good. The Quarian Engineer duration bonus is especially good if you have developed AI Hacking for her because it helps her continually control one synthetic with her Power. However, since this Power is specific to synthetics, it is not particularly important to take the Engineer evolution because of it.

The special perk of Energy Drain is to absorb shields, but it can damage synthetics, barriers, and armor, making it a general purpose attack Power.

Thane Krios
See our post on Fire Support squad builds for a discussion on Thane. He also counts as a Power Support character because he has access to Warp. An interesting squad choice is an Adept Shepard who can Lift for Miranda and Thane to Warp detonate because Lift has a very short cooldown for Shepard and Warp hits instantly when used by squad members.

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