Author Topic: A Guide to Utilizing Set Enhancements  (Read 346 times)


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A Guide to Utilizing Set Enhancements
« on: March 27, 2022, 03:02:49 am »
What are IOs?

Invention Origin Enhancements (IOs) or Crafted Enhancements, are enhancements you can craft using Recipes and Salvage at an Invention Workbench. IOs tend to be superior to Origin Enhancements (SOs, DOs, TOs), except Hamidon Origin Enhancements (HOs), in that they offer greater bonuses when compared to Origin Enhancements of the same level. Also, unlike Origin Enhancements you cannot outlevel them. Their buffs will always be relevant regardless of your level. Their effectiveness does scale down when you exemplar (as detailed  here). In short, you multiply your enhancement’s buffs by a specific factor based off of the level you exemplar down to.

Types of IOs

There are several ways in which to categorize IOs. For the purposes of this post; however, I will be categorizing IOs into two categories: Rarity and Attunement.


IO recipes have different rarities that are signified by a color: Common (white), Uncommon (yellow), Rare (orange), and Very Rare (purple). There are also PvP IOs, which share the same color as rare IOs (orange). Common IOs only buff a single aspect of the power they are slotted into, unlike the higher rarity IOs. Common IOs also do not offer set bonuses, procs, or unique bonuses. Uncommon IOs offer set bonuses, but tend to be weaker than bonuses offered by higher rarity IOs. Rare IOs tend to offer more set bonuses/procs and exist at higher levels than their uncommon counterparts can reach. Very Rare IOs tend to offer stronger buffs, set bonuses, and procs than other IOs, making them more desirable to have in your build, but they cannot be slotted until level 47, when you can slot Level 50 Enhancements. PvP IOs differ from other IOs in that they will offer additional set bonuses when you are engaged with PvP. I will talk more about set bonuses, procs, and unique bonuses later.


IOs can also be categorized based on whether they are “attuned” or “unattuned”. What does that mean? After an IO is crafted, an Enhancement Catalyst can be used on it to “attune” it. When an enhancement is “attuned”, its effective level is equal to your character’s level, so they scale up and down with you as you level up or exemplar. An attuned enhancement’s effective level cannot go higher than the max level range of the enhancement you attuned. For example, an attuned Kinetic Combat enhancement will never scale higher than level 35–the maximum level for that set. When you exemplar, your attuned enhancement will scale in the same way other IOs will. The only difference is that for unattuned enhancements, set bonuses will disappear when you exemplar more than 3 levels below the level of your enhancements. Attuned enhancements will keep their set bonuses unless you exemplar more than 3 levels below the minimum level range for that set. For example, your attuned Kinetic Combat enhancements will keep their set bonuses until you exemplar to level 16 or lower, since level 20 is the minimum level for the Kinetic Combat set.

Overall, this makes attuned enhancements useful if you are leveling or are doing a lot of exemplar content, as it lets you hang onto your set bonuses. There are IOs whose set bonuses or effects are immune to exemplaring. As such, there is no benefit to attuning them as they and their unique bonuses are available for as long as you have access to the power. These include:
  • Very Rare IOs
  • PvP IOs
  • “Chance for” procs (including damage procs, though the damage they deal does scale based on your level)
  • Miracle (+Recovery)
  • Numina’s Convalescence (+Regen/+Recovery)
  • Regenerate Tissue (+Regen)
  • Impervious Skin (+Status Resist/+Regen) [the regen half]
  • Kismet (+Accuracy)
  • Rectified Reticle (+Perception)
  • Stealth IOs (Celerity, Freebird, Time and Space Manipulation, and Unbounded Leap)
Set bonuses for Very Rare and PvP IOs are always available. The main IOs you should be attuning are those that have unique effects that don’t also fall under the previous list. Attuning these IOs would allow them stay active as you exemplar down to the minimum of 3 levels below their minimum set range, instead of turning off at greater than 3 levels below the IOs current level. For example, an attuned Unbreakable Guard: +Max HP will stay on as long as you are above level 16. This is in contrast to a level 50 unattuned version of this same IO, which will turn off below level 47. Dirty Kitsune has made a great list of those IOs here. As a general note, some of these enhancements also grant buffs in addition to providing a global bonus:
  • Luck of the Gambler: +Global Recharge also enhances the Defense buff of the power you slot it in by 15.9% at its highest level (50).
  • Gift of the Ancients: +Run Speed also enhances the Defense buff of the power you slot it in by 14.5% at its highest level (40).
  • Steadfast Protection: +3% Defense also enhances the Resistance buff of the power you slot it in by 13% at its highest level (30).
This means that for these IOs there is a tradeoff. Attuning them allows their global bonus to stay on when you exemplar, but removes the ability for you to enhance the power buff it offers with Enhancement Boosters. What are Enhancement Boosters? They are special salvage you can stack up to five times to permanently increase the effective level of your IO (+5% at +1 Booster to +25% at +5 Boosters). Boosters are the main reason why you don’t want to attune an IO that buffs a power, that 25% boost can add up. Hasten with two 50+5 Recharge IOs gives a 95.9% recharge buff vs three 50 Recharge IOs giving a 99.08% recharge buff–really close in comparison, and can free up a slot to put elsewhere.

Other Attuned Enhancements

I would be remiss to not mention other attuned enhancements, as they function much the same way as IOs, but don’t completely work the same way. These enhancements include Archetype Origin Enhancements (ATOs), Seasonal Enhancements (Lords of Winter and All Hallow’s Eve sets) and special sets like Overwhelming Force. They offer set bonuses just like set IOs do, and they can be modified (Overwhelming Force being an exception) with Enhancement Catalysts to “Superior” versions that function much like Very Rare IOs in terms of the quality of buffs and set bonuses they give.

Where Do I Get IOs/ATOs?

Now you know a little about what IOs are and what types there are, but where can you get them? All IO recipes can be earned as random drops from defeating enemies and completing missions–the chance of which is determined by their rarity. Common IOs can also be purchased directly at Workbenches. Recipes, crafted and attuned enhancements can always be purchased from other players through the Auction House when available. Other places to buy IOs include: the Merit Vendor in exchange for Reward Merits, The Ticket Vendor for Architect Tickets, BOTLER or Trashcan for Alignment Merits in Fort Trident/Crucible, the Incarnate Merit Vendors for Astral/Empyrean Merits, or the Gladiator Merit Vendor for Gladiator Merits.

ATOs are obtained from the Hero/Villain Super Packs, Rogue/Vigilante Super Packs, the Incarnate Merit Vendor, or the Gladiator Merit Vendor. Seasonal Enhancements are obtained from the Winter and Halloween Super Packs, typically obtained during their respective seasonal events. The Overwhelming Force set is obtained for completing the Summer Blockbuster event.

Types of Bonuses
All this talk about bonuses–set bonuses, global bonuses, procs. What are they? How do they function? Allow me to go into detail.

First, let’s talk about Unique Enhancements. Unique Enhancements are enhancements that can only be slotted once across an entire character. These include ATOs, Season Enhancements, the Overwhelming Force set, Very Rare IOs, and some other specific IOs. The complete list of them is here. Often enhancements that offer some type of powerful, special, or (for lack of a better word) unique effect fall under this category. Some enhancements are also exclusive in addition to being unique. If you have Celerity:+Stealth slotted into a power, you cannot also have Freebird: +Stealth slotted on the same character, for instance.

“Proc” is a term used to describe enhancements that create a “procedure with a chance to happen”. These include enhancements like Force Feedback: Chance for +Recharge, Performance Shifter: Chance for +End, Annihilation: Chance for -Res, Gaussian’s Synchronized Fire Control: Chance for Build-Up, and all those “Chance for Damage” enhancements. Typically these enhancements have an average on how many times they will proc per minute (ppm). This number is generally listed in the description of the enhancement. The real chance for a proc to trigger is based on some complicated numbers--the details of which I'm not entirely sure of how they work in Rebirth, specifically. I will update this as I learn more information.

Global bonuses are bonuses that are provided by enhancements that work like set bonuses. They are either always on, or might stay active for 120s. These include enhancements like Numina’s Convalescence: +Regen/+Recovery, which is always on when slotted into a power like Health, but will be only active for 120s upon activation when slotted into a click power like Earth’s Embrace. Many of these enhancements are also Unique. Enhancements like Luck of the Gambler: Defense/+Global Recharge, however, are not Unique, and are active always unless exemplared out of as mentioned earlier.

That just leaves normal Set Bonuses. These are global bonuses you receive for slotting two or more enhancements from the same set into the same power. These can range from two bonuses to five depending on the rarity and set. The relative number value of the set bonuses will be greater as the rarity of the set goes up. For instance, Let’s compare the set bonuses for Devastation (a Rare IO) with Apocalypse (a Very Rare IO):

+12% Regen
+2.25% HP
+3% Global Damage
+3.75% Fire/Cold Resist; +6.25% Status Resistance
+3.75% Psionic Defense

+16% Regen
+3% HP
+4% Global Damage
+10% Global Recharge
+5% Psionic Defense

As you can see the set bonuses are similar, but Apocalypse has the more powerful numbers. This is why Very Rare IOs tend to be very desirable in builds. Set bonuses and non-Unique global bonuses follow a “rule of 5”. That is, no more than 5 of the same set bonus or global bonus is allowed. Any bonuses in excess of this “rule of 5” is ignored. If you have attuned and unattuned enhancements from the same set in a given power, they both count together for the purposes of determining what set bonus you get. In contrast, Superior and non-Superior versions of the same enhancements are considered different sets, and thus determine their set bonuses separately. Additionally, Superior and non-Superior versions of the same enhancement are mutually exclusive. They are not allowed on the same character.

Why Set Bonuses Matter

Cool. Set bonuses. Why should I care? Why not just franken-slot everything, or use HOs in all my powers? Well, the biggest reason is that Set Bonuses ignore Enhancement Diversification. That’s right. Set bonuses are extremely powerful for this reason alone. You got +75% Accuracy from running 5 purple sets? Congratulations. You just slotted all your powers with a level 50 and a level 30 Accuracy IO, and remember that’s outside Diversification. You can achieve some pretty crazy things by utilizing them effectively.

Set Bonuses allow you to fill in holes or shore up weaknesses in your character. Can’t get that last little bit of Resistance to put you at the hard cap? Set bonuses can get you there. Do you have a glaring weakness to Psionic damage? Set bonuses can help soften the blow.

What Set Bonuses Matter

This long post just to get to the real reason why I made it. What set bonuses should you be looking out for? It’s a big question! The answer is complicated though. It really depends on your build and what you are trying to do. My personal recommendation is to set priorities for what you want to achieve for your character. You should have a primary goal, secondary goals, and tertiary goals. Keep in mind that you may not be able to achieve everything you want to do, and may have to sacrifice in one area to achieve a goal in a different area. However, that’s par for the course when you are min-maxing. I am going to go over a couple of common focuses though:

Recharge. This is a common focus for many builds. Many characters benefit from having high recharge rates. Many want to have Hasten up permanently to achieve some result, whether that’s reducing the number attacks in their rotation, or keeping Domination/Drain Psyche/Eclipse up permanently, or getting Foot Stomp’s recharge to as close to 4s as possible. So not always, but in many instances you will want to pick up some recharge set bonuses. Just remember to not go overboard. There is a point where additional recharge offers marginal to no benefit as you approach the recharge rate hard caps for your powers. Keep that in mind.

Defense. Focusing on defense tends to be a go-to for a lot of builds. 45% is the soft cap for Defense for normal content. 59% for Incarnate content. Defense at these values means that enemies will only have a 5% chance to hit you. Having high Defense also protects you from mezzes, since those powers tend to have both positional and damage typing as well. It is a lot easier to hit these numbers than to hit the 75% hard caps for Resistance for most ATs. This is aided by the fact that every AT has access to powers that grant Defense bonuses: Weave, Maneuvers, Hover, Combat Jumping, or Ancillary/Epic Auras. Steadfast Protection and Gladiator’s Armor both have Unique Enhancements that each give your character a +3% Global Defense. Then there are lots of set bonuses that give defense buffs as well. Needless to say, Defense is a very powerful stat in City of Heroes.

Generally, you shouldn’t try to cap out every Defense though. That would not only be impossible for ATs that don't have Defense Aura powersets, but generally that’s excessive. The Defenses you should focus on should be based on your build. Combining Hover/Fly with Ranged Defense is a common strategy. Smashing/Lethal are the most common damage types in the game, with many powers dealing some other type of damage AND dealing Smashing or Lethal. With the way Defense works, attacks roll against your highest Defense stat that’s relevant to them. So if you are attacked by Fireball, and you have 45% Smashing Defense, 15% Fire Defense and 0% AoE Defense, the game is going to roll the attack against your Smashing Defense. If the roll comes up short, the entire attack misses, even if only 1% of the damage was Smashing Damage. This is why many choose to get Smashing/Lethal and to a lesser extent Energy Damage to the soft cap, as those are the most common damage types.

If you have Fire Auras, your Fire resistance is typically capped out with minimal effort. So, Fire Defense should be a primary focus if you plan on fire farming. As far as other Defenses go, you should really only focus on them if you’re already mostly there from your defense toggles from your primary/secondary/epic pools and just need that small boost. Like if you are running Shield Defense and aren’t quite at the soft cap for your positionals, then seek out those set bonuses. Though, another common goal for Defenses is to get your total to 32.5%, that way popping any Defense Inspiration will put you at the soft cap.

Resistances. Getting to the hard cap for Resistances (75% for most ATs) is much harder than getting to the soft cap for Defenses. Other than Tough and some Epic pool toggles, there aren’t many power options to boost Resistance outside of running an AT with Resistance aura primaries/secondaries. So boosting Resistances with Set Bonuses are best left as a secondary goal after soft-capping Defense. If you do have those Resistance auras, picking up some Set Bonuses here or there can help get you to the hard cap. Most Resistance set bonuses only offer a +2-3% increase, making it way harder to invest into than getting the same values for Defense. Smashing/Lethal Resistance is a common focus due to the fact that Tough and some Epic toggles focus on it, making it easier to shore up. Toxic Resistance and, to a greater extent, Psionic Resistance are easier to bring up with Set Bonuses. Most Set Bonuses for Toxic/Psionic Resistance are +3.75% or greater. Aegis has a Unique Enhancement that gives 5% Psionic Resistance, and Impervium Armor has a Global IO that is stackable up to 5 times that gives 6% Psionic Resistance each. This makes Psionic Damage Resistance probably the easiest to target with IOs.

Damage. Not much to say for this one. Dealing more damage is always nice, especially when it ignores ED! The exception being Masterminds and other ATs with powersets that deal damage mostly through pets. As far as I am aware, Set Bonuses are coded to only affect their source--the player. This means set bonuses won't apply to most pets or pseudopets. For these characters, slotting Chance for -Resistance procs can prove very beneficial, but those procs are good on most characters as they provide a 20% Damage buff to you and your whole team when they trigger. Going back to damage buffs, pushing global damage is an ideal target for Brutes, Scrappers, Stalkers, Blasters or any other AT that wants to deal as much damage by themselves as they can muster.  Ideal for farming, some Brute builds can even use Damage Set Bonuses to help them hit the hard cap for damage buffs.

Accuracy. Not much to say on this one either. I wouldn’t directly focus on this one, as Accuracy Set bonuses are often early in set bonus tiers–meaning that oftentimes you will gain significant amounts of them purely by happenstance of trying to focus on other Set Bonuses.

Recovery. Endurance is good. Endurance is nice to have. Having greater Recovery allows you to get away with operating more Endurance-heavy builds. Typically ones that run a lot of toggles or have significant Endurance crashes. Be careful though, having Endurance Recovery that outstrips your ability to spend it is essentially pointless. Numina’s Convalescence and Miracle have Global Bonuses that will improve your Recovery. Panacea and Performance Shifter have procs that will grant you a percentage (7.5% and 10%, respectively) of your maximum Endurance regardless of your current Recovery rate. This is very relevant when fighting enemies like Malta Sappers, or when you have crashes from abilities like Power Surge. I personally always put a Performance Shifter: Endurance and the Chance for +Endurance proc in Stamina.

The enhancements introduced in I24 (Annihilation, Preventative Medicine, Reactive Defenses and Unbreakable Guard) tend to also offer global Endurance Discounts as Set Bonuses. These are pretty good even in small doses. Saving on that Endurance every time you activate a power, or every time a toggle ticks can add up over time--improving your ratio of End use to Recovery. Taking Set Bonuses that focus on increasing your Maximum Endurance also affect your Recovery rates. Since Recovery is a function of % Endurance gained per second, increasing your Max End effectively improves your Recovery. This is why the Atlas Medallion and Portal Jockey Accolades (or their Villain counterparts) are great to have. Having those Accolades improves your effective Recovery by 10%. This is true for any Max End improvements--whatever percentage you increase your Endurance by, you are also increase your effective Recovery by that same percentage. Pulling this back though, there aren’t as many set bonuses increasing your Max End that aren’t Very Rare IOs, ATOs or Seasonal Enhancements.

HP/Regeneration. Regeneration bonuses, in my opinion, don’t typically provide as much of a benefit as focusing on Defense or Resistance. Characters that care about Regeneration typically already have a lot of it, so these Regeneration Set Bonuses are just a drop in the bucket used for inching you those last tiny bit of numbers to get to the Regeneration hard cap. Though some Purple sets offer +16% Regen bonuses, which is nothing to scoff at. Historically for me though, it has been better to also include set bonuses that instead boost your maximum HP as a tertiary goal. A larger HP pool means that you can better endure alpha strikes from bigger mobs. Like with increasing your Max End, Max HP increases also increase your effective Regeneration (how many Hit Points you heal per second) by that same percentage when compared to your base HP. Also, Regen bonuses can produce a significantly more noticeable effect when you are closer to your AT's Max HP hard cap than it's base Max HP. Hence why I tend to try to include HP set bonuses on characters that have moderate to high Regeneration rates.

Though be aware, if you have a Dull Pain-type power, it would be better for you to focus on making that effect permanent instead, as it produces a much more dramatic effect on your Max HP than Set Bonuses ever could. Max HP Set Bonuses are typically small--+3% when you are looking at purple sets. Though Unbreakable Guard offers a nice +7.5% Max HP bonus as a Unique Enhancement. It's also why the +HP Accolades are so nice to have. Typically my order of focus will be Defenses, then Resistances, then Max HP, then Regeneration. However, depending on the AT and powersets, HP bonuses won't matter because I'll be at my AT's hard cap for HP anyways, so I'll more focus on Regen as a tertiary goal in those cases. Just like it's effect on your Endurance, Panacea's +Hit Points proc is independent of your Regeneration. Though the Hit Point gift is always static, so the smaller your Max HP is, the more pronounced its effect would be compared to your native Regen.

Others. There are other set bonuses that may be relevant depending on your build. For instance, a Stone Armor Tank will already have excellent Defenses and Resistances. Earth’s Embrace will typically be permanent, and put them at their Max HP hard cap. Rooted gives them a big boost to Regen to better utilize that bigger HP bar. However, they have big Recharge, Damage, and Run Speed penalties. You’d be surprised just how much nicer it feels getting your Granite Armored Stoner to run around at 25-30 mph with 60% Psionic Resistance. This is what you have to consider when looking at Set Bonuses: do you make your strengths stronger, or reduce your weaknesses?

About Procs

I know I already talked about procs, but I wanted to give a little more details about particular ones and my particular methodology on how I look at them. Procs, when triggered, typically last for 10s (if they last for less or more time, the enhancement will tell you most of the time. For a list of procs and their durations, see here. This means a couple of things. “Chance for Damage” procs when slotted in damage auras are not that great. They can only trigger at least once every 10s, sometimes longer if the proc doesn’t roll to trigger. For someone like me that likes Blasters that melt mobs in less than that time, slotting damage procs in auras doesn't provide much benefit. Other procs in toggles can be okay. I personally find that damage procs work best in click powers that natively don’t deal any damage or minimal damage. Putting Perfect Zinger’s damage proc in Taunt can be nice. Franken-slotting Hand Clap with a bunch of damage procs is actually pretty decent. Force Feedback: Chance for +Recharge in AoE Knockdown powers like Hand Clap and Foot Stomp only has to trigger against one target for you to get the 5s bonus. As mentioned before, Chance for -Resistance procs boost the damage for you and your whole team by 20% for 10s. They are amazing in any build. If you have any questions about specific procs, ask me. If I don’t know, I will do my best to look it up.

Last Words
   When it comes to trying to find specific Set Bonuses in specific categories of Enhancement sets, Mids has a useful tool called “Set Bonus Finder” under the “Window” menu. It may help steer you in your slotting and power selection. If you have plenty of powers, have your basic rotation, and you are just figuring out what else to take, it’s okay to take a random mez or attack power that you know you aren’t going to use. It can act as a “set mule” to hold an IO set that offers you bonuses you need. I have Flares on a Blaster acting strictly as an auto-power that gives me +4% Recovery and +5% Energy Defense, and there is nothing wrong with that. I know that figuring out crafted enhancements, power selections and set bonuses can be a daunting task. I’m hoping that this post can help at least one person to better wrap their heads around it. I plan on making write up for specific power set combinations for specific ATs and would like a post like this to point back to in the future.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2022, 12:40:56 am by Firemind »


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Re: A Guide to Utilizing Set Enhancements
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2022, 12:22:17 am »
Reserved for expanding if needed.