2021 was the year of the Elder God Wars. We knew there’d be lots of PvM and lots of drops related to this, but what we didn’t know was how substantial they would be. Our goal with this episode is to summarise every change made to the PvM ecosystem that had an impact on meta gameplay in 2021. Most of these changes will be fairly apparent but some of them were sleepers. And on another note, we’ll be taking care to avoid focusing on just the high end ecosystem while also talking about beginner and mid-tier level changes.
Combat Meta Changes
- Stalker Ring
- Reaver’s Ring
- Emerald Bakriminel Bolts (837)
- Splintering arrows
- Deathspore arrows
- Igneous Kal-Xil
- 2021 Conclusion: Ranged started the year hot with the recent addition of Greater Ricochet (GRICO) from Raksha released in December 2020. While GRICO was balanced in August 2021 it still is one of the most powerful basics. 2021 saw relatively few addons for Ranged but in early July Emerald Bakriminel bolts were buffed to a point where they are better than Dragonstone bakriminel bolts to poisonable targets. This simple patch note opened many doors and possibilities.
Ranged stayed relatively flat until Croesus, the skilling boss. For the longest time the top end Ranged ammunition solution of orthodoxy was hydrix bolts or bust. Croesus made bows compete with Hydrix ammunition by way of Splintering arrows.
[splintering arrows recap]
Deathspore arrows introduced a new way to save adrenaline, except this time with arrows instead of hydrix bolts. While Splintering arrows can be camped, Deathspore to be used effectively should be stacked and then the user should optimally swap to a crossbow setup using their bolts of choice.
[deathspore arrow recap] here too
The Igneous Kal-Xil upgrades Deadshot to be a good Ranged adrenaline dump and provides a new best in slot ranged cape. This was the weakest of the three special abilities granted by the new capes, but still provided an excellent damage buff when dealing with soft caps such as normal mode Nex.
- Laniakea’s Spear (for Slayer)
- Champion’s Ring
- Reaver’s Ring
- T95 MH/OH Weapons (Dark Shard/Sliver of Leng)
- T85 MH/OH Weapons (Dark Ice Shard/Sliver)
- Igneous Kal-Ket
- Sweep Changes: D Halberd an alternative for D claws against groups as a spec weapon
- 2021 Conclusion: Melee starts off with one of the most accessible high tier setups featuring smithable masterwork and later trimmed masterwork items at tier 92. Early 2021 changes for melee focused on the mid-tier Slayer crowd, specifically with Laniakea’s Spear which has low accuracy which is fine for most melee Slayer tasks combined with tier 90 damage.
The Arch-Glacor brought tier 85 and tier 95 dual wield melee weapons. One of the issues with dual wielding over time has been that there were fewer AoE attack/strength abilities for dual wield than 2 hand. For those wanting to use dual wield for Slayer, these weapons can be effective but their cost suggests that something like the aforementioned Laniakea’s spear is probably a better option.
Cold cuts are phenomenal in two places - 1) ED3! Things like the undead slayer sigil and the Salve Amulet (e) actually let players take advantage of the buff from the leng special attack 2) Hard/Elite clues - being able to hurricane with dual wield lets you seriously melt Uri. If the game introduces more bosses affected by Salve Amulet (e) or the sigils they will be useful in those places. (Sadly melee isn’t super viable for ED2 given mob spacing)
- Also just anywhere single-target. DW will generally do better damage than 2H for any single-target, and the addition of hurricane takes that up another notch. Melee has enough flexibility in the number of available abilities, that you could build a very high-end rotation with a variety of setups, and there are absolutely people using these swords with just a ZGS, maybe TMW spear, and putting out really high-end damage numbers.
[Ek-ZekKil] - this one is strange, it basically requires an EoF to take advantage of bleed extension synergy provided by the timmed masterwork spear. It also directly trades off with Zaros Godsword usage since melee already had massive adrenaline problems. While it’s slightly better than ZGS rotations, its benefits are deceptive given it’s a trade-off rather than an addition. Currently, the only known usage for the weapon where it's a significant improvement is Hard Mode Kerapac, where a special mechanic allows it to be used alongside the ZGS.
The infinite adrenaline gain provided by Hydrix bolts has made it a niche switch for ranged record attempts but this isn’t thoroughly tested as far as we know.
The Igneous Kal-Ket provides the best in slot melee cape when used on its own. It also brings the cost of Overpower down which has comical effects at lower level bosses (GWD1/QBD). This makes the ability excellent and will be extremely useful if melee has an adrenaline boost. Currently it’s a dynamic ability that becomes a great way to make use of relentless procs.
Melee ends the year in a solidified position for those who want to employ high amounts of burst damage but at the ultra-high end numerous switches are preferred. It has huge potential as a unique bleeding style, but adrenaline issues make it unviable for top-end extended DPM compared to the other two styles.
- Andrew C
- Arvīds L
- Christian S
- Cook Me Plox
- Free Milk
- Jade Gizmo
- Jason S
- Jesse W
- N8 the grr8
- Pyrnassius RS
- Ren Hawk
- Ricky A
- Samuel F L
- Scott D S
- Seth W
- The Bears O.P.
- The Naked Captain
- Tom V
- Zackaree M
- Channeller’s Ring
- City of Senntisten Ancient Magicks
- Kerapac’s Wrist Wraps
- Greater Concentrated Blast
- Fractured Staff of Armadyl
- Spell scaling to T99 for Surge, Barge, and Aurora spells. Blitz to T92.
- Magma Tempest
- Igneous Kal-Mej
- 2021 Conclusion: For the longest time Magic was perceived as the highest damage style. When combined with 4TAA (4 tick auto attacking) damage outputs could be obscenely high and for many this was considered the meta. Ranged always held its own but was of course buffed with GRICO. Magic while competitive saw itself move into a comfortable tank class this past year while also still being able to output obscene amounts of damage at the ultra-high end.
The channeller’s ring is the most expensive Rex Matriarch drop as it adds a 4% critical hit chance every time a channelled ability hits, these are things like Asphyxiate and [Greater] Concentrated Blast.
Magic was further buffed and nudged into the tank category with the City of Senntisten Ancient Magicks. The most impactful of these spells was Animate Dead which allowed certain bosses in game to become almost AFK-able by providing damage reductions based on number and stats of tank armour pieces worn.
Exsanguinate provides a very powerful single target spell that also upgrades Wrack to be Wrack and Ruin, which is a far more powerful ability, hitting in the range of thresholds. Exsanguinate can be combined with Magma Tempest to create some interesting Revolution Slayer setups that we’ll talk about later.
Incite Fear lowers the adrenaline requirements for Tsunami and also brings a 5x5 AoE passive that will deal up to 8 enemies. This combined with Tsunami, Greater Chain, Dragonbreath, and other Magic abilities creates a powerful AoE based Magic setup. The introduction of this spell immediately gave magic an enormous ceiling, giving it the ability to generate huge amounts of adrenaline similar to range - the problem? No good special attack weapon to take advantage of this potential… I wonder what they were planning….
Smoke Cloud began as an equal buff to all styles, but swiftly became nerfed for non-magic abilities. This is a staple in any rotation for bosses that don’t auto-clear debuffs and provides a noticeable power increase, especially given magics propensity to generate forced critical hits.
The Nodon Front brought Kerapac’s wrist wraps which as a tier 85 set of Magic power gloves should not be looked over. After using Dragon breath the damage from Combust is buffed by 25%. These gloves should be used when using Magic if your target is not poisonable and are powerful enough to justify a switch even when using cinderbanes.
Greater Concentrated Blast does a lot more damage than Concentrated Blast and does it one tick faster (1.8s vs 2.4s). It is a good ability and at the launch of the Nodon front we were of the opinion that a Greater Concentrated Blast Magic setup is more powerful than a Ranged setup with no Greater Ricochet.
That all changes though once the Fractured Staff of Armadyl otherwise known as the crit stick comes into the picture. [high end overview here]
With the Croesus front Magic got another set of tier 90 tank armour to compete with Achto. The difference with this set is that it features set bonuses that reduce incoming magic and melee damage by 12% and 8% respectively for the two piece bonus. This is upgraded to 18% and 12% with the three piece and further upgraded to 24% and 16% if using Earth spells respectively for Magic and Melee.
The four piece set bonus can inflict the target with deathspores which increases damage dealt to the target by 10% for 15 seconds.
The five piece set bonus grants a fungal shield when the wearer falls below 20% max health which protects for 15 seconds. [do we know how big the shield is yet?]
With the Aurora spells also being upgraded to the point where Emerald Aurora, a level 79 spell, scales up to T99 damage which provides up to a 5% damage reduction, Mage has been solidified the tankiest option in RuneScape.
Magma Tempest: Where does it sit after the nerf? Runeless Revolution Slayer setup? Rumors of magma tempest’s demise were certainly premature. While it no longer sits as the most powerful ability in RuneScape history, it’s still a top 2-3 magic basic in any rotation, particularly when casted manually. (2 reasons for this we can detail)
Armadyl battlestaff - this one isn’t new, but it's worth mentioning given the synergy with FSOA. The near unlimited adrenaline provided by ideal incite fear tsunami rotations lets players ABS spec over and over, with each set of 5 hits resulting in high chance of producing both adrenaline gain and FSoA auto attacks.
Conservation of energy - this one came out with archaeology, but is worth mentioning. Prior to magic upgrades this wasn’t used, but now that magic rotations include 3 100% ultimates in the standard rotations, it saves 30% adrenaline for every sunshine rotation, which makes it a BiS relic for magic.
The TzekHaar front brought the best in slot Magic cape, the Igneous Kal-Mej, which is by far the favourite of the three. It upgrades the omnipower ability to only use 60% adrenaline and hit 4 times. This creates so many interesting synergies with the fractured Staff of Armadyl. Synergy with greater chain makes it a must have for AoE damage, as when combined with caroming 4 a single ability can hit up to 7 targets with 4 powerful blows each. Combined with the AoE destruction of Magma Tempest, this solidifies magic as the best AoE style even when compared with mechanized chinchompas.
The combined power of all magic upgrades has culminated in magic once again ascending to the top of the triangle. Every ability and spell released the past year synergizes incredibly with te FSoA, allowing players to easily achieve 500k DPM, greatly exceeding the damage possible even with Berserk (melee) in terms of burst damage, while having the sustainability of a longer damage over time (sunshine) and more versatility than ever (different spells, spellbook swap, special attacks, tank armor).
World firsts allowed by these magic upgrades: “Solo” Vorago (all rotations), telos - complete tendril skip, Solak - solo realm skip, nearly every world record speed kill (for non 0.6s bosses). The nature of FSoA also makes some of these consistent, which was never possible with range given how dynamic and “rng” dependent hydrix bolts can be. Things like sub-2minute AoD which previously could take hours of attempts are now standard for teams with 5+ max-magers.
- Wen: Preferred by many high tiered PvMers where AoE damage is needed.
- Ful: Situationally best in slot when focusing on single target operations.
- Jas: Best budget option but has been recently buffed so that high end damage dealers can take advantage of it (cap increased to 30k from 10k and damage stored after all calculations performed benefiting DoTs and damage modifiers like Vulnerability). The two jas book buff should not be underestimated, as it's now the best in slot for ranged (unless you’re majorly taking advantage of Wen AoE). [because of randomness its hard to be consistently certain, but considered bis for range vs single target)
- Cease Update 838
- Gloves of passage? See patch note: Update 845
- Cleave/Sweep (Dragon Halberd special) Update: 857
Sweep is a very popular EoF switch for melee. For hybrid solak, a major part of the phase 4 realm skip rotation, as well as one cycle core rotations involves using this special attack as often as possible.
- Grasping Rune Pouch?
- Pernix Quiver?
- Accessibility Round Up
The Winners of 2021
In the start of January 2021 [ranged] was dominant for mid-tier PvM. And at the end of 2021 [ranged/mage] is dominant for mid-tier PvM.
Argument for ranged: Even removing the very high priced ranged upgrades such as GRICO and ECB, ranged is still a powerful style and can most easily take advantage of a reasonable budget. It’s also the easiest style to use of the 3 in terms of hitting a baseline for good damage. Dynamic adrenaline requires lots of improvisational ability at a higher end, but ruby bolts and chaotic crossbows alone can carry you far, along with having access to the cheapest good AoE (mech chins).
Argument for mage:
In the start of January 2021 [ranged] was dominant for high-tier PvM. And at the end of 2021[magic] is dominant for high-tier PvM.
If you’re not on a budget, magic is once again RuneScapes most powerful combat style, and it honestly isn’t close. It’s unquestionably the most powerful for both tanking and burst damage, and has the most flexibility of any style. However, the cumulative cost of the needed equipment is around 10B, plus the upkeep cost of runes burned by the crit stick can be up to 10m/hr. For players seeking to jump from mid to high tier with major budget constraints, for the cost of a Main-hand Ascension, and off-hand chaotic with caroming 4, GRICO and an EoF (dark bow) you can experience close to what was previously best in slot, while looking to eventually add a Seren Godbow and Eldritch Crossbow. This is made even more accessible now that Hydrix Bolts are much more reasonably priced and no longer annihilate profitability of most bosses.
Appendix: 2021’s Combat Updates:
City of Senntisten Ancient Magicks
Emerald Bolts Update 837
Cease Update 838
Gloves of passage? See patch note: Update 845
Surge spells now scale to T99 damage (was T92).
Smoke/Shadow Blitz spells now scale to T92 damage to match ice and blood.
Barrage spells now scale to T99 damage.
Aurora spells now scale to T99 damage
Cleave/Sweep (Dragon Halberd special) Update: 857?
Shane’s Pick of the Week: An Unexpected Christmas
David’s Pick of the Week: The Princess Switch 3
- Episode Title: Christmas Crits: RuneScape’s 2021 PvM Meta
- Teaser: With 2021 coming to a close it’s time to look back at RuneScape’s PvM updates. We start with the Rex Matriarchs, and we move through the Elder God Wars, touching on the most important patch notes and sleepers of the year.
- Recorded Date: December 14, 2021
- Release Date: December 24, 2021
- Hosts: Shane, Tanis, David, and Thaxy
- Duration: 2:39:56
- Editing Notes: None