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How do YOU play the Summoner?

scientistB

Dungeon Spirit
One thing, among many, has been on my mind lately. As I play Terraria more and more, I start to notice the small details of how people play; how they prefer to fight, how they build, what accessories they prefer, etc. This all helps shape the way they play most comfortably. Sometimes I deviate from a normal playthrough and put certain limitations on myself so I can change my playstyle and increase my experience with that particular style.
My focus right now is on my main class, the Summoner.

The way I play the Summoner is as follows: I am very flexible with what weapons I use to assist my minions. Mid-to-lategame, I use Ichor to debuff the enemies so that my minions, my main source of DPS, are more effectively able to dispose of the monsters. I use every summoning accessory possible, so that my minions make up some incredible firepower while I support them with a subweapon. I tend to use non-piercing attacks since most minions like my Stardust Dragon are piercing and therefore are not compatible with my piercing weapons. Something simple like an SDMG with an Endless Musket Pouch is enough, even. I have a set of Warding accessories because I like to be tanky, but I also have a Menacing set for when I'm actually summoning my minions. In the endgame, I alternate between Dragon and Cells, depending on the situation, since Cells are very peculiar in their behavior which makes them interesting to have out. When not doing anything major, such as tough battles and invasions, I like to have one of every minion out, up to the Sharknado since the max cap doesn't have enough slots to summon every minion. Being the sentimental freak that I am, I see my minions as family and I care for them so much.

I've seen an increasing amount of people who do the complete opposite though. They feel that the Summoner is a strict class who is not allowed to use weapons (except for the Nimbus Rod for whatever reason), and must rely on their minions to do everything for them while they simply dodge their way to victory. I've had people tell me that I'm not a real Summoner simply because I use weapons to increase my damage output even further. I feel like this playstyle was made popular by Yrimir because of his Summoner-only playthrough, and that many people just adopted this as the norm for how a Summoner should be played.

As someone who has always played it my way, I'm somewhat baffled. I feel that Summoners are supposed to be well-rounded characters who can use any weapon without being held back, at the cost of not particularly excelling in that weapon's usage (kinda like how other armors increase damage of a certain type and therefore encourage the usage of only that type). The upside is that Summoners have a healthy amount of minions doing high damage, and what makes them special from the other classes is that this damage is hands-free; leading me to believe that they are free to use any weapon they desire. You are intentionally hurting your damage output and even your survivability when you abstain from using weapons alongside your minions; it's not the same as a Ranger refusing to use magic weapons, because a magic Ranger would not be efficient whatsoever and he clearly doesn't need magic weapons if he can easily deal a thousand damage with a Sniper Rifle. Summoners were supposed to use other resources, otherwise they would have active weapons like every other class. If Summoners were not designed this way, they would have their own set of weapons that would be far different from the traditional summon staff. Take the Bat Scepter for example; this would be a good active Summoner weapon that would make the Summoner seem more like the branch of the Mage that he was intended to be (though I greatly prefer the way Summoner is now). Makes me wonder how the Summoner would be if he had his own minions as well as active summon-damage weapons... probably too strong, which is why I like the power level that he's at now.

Maybe I'm looking into this too much, since there are different ways to play each class (like those who prefer to do epic trickshots on a Ranger, versus those who like blowing themselves up with explosive bullets and rockets). This still piques my interest though.

That aside though, I would like to ask you; how do you play the Summoner? I am looking for opinions on what people think of it and how they prefer to play the Summoner, just so that I can understand what this no-weapons style is all about. I am planning to try this kind of playthrough soon, as a means to investigate further and sharpen my dodging skills. Because after seeing someone beat Duke Fishron on a hardcore-expert character with ONLY Spider and Imps, without getting hit, it makes me wonder if I've spent too many of my 2,000 hours just being too much of a casual and not leaving my comfort zone. I've hit a plateau in my skill level and wish to improve as much as I can.
I'm not a tryhard, I just like my Summoner too much~
 
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General Milky

Terrarian
How I play Summoner:

Use the strongest minion staff available for as many slots as I got

Wear summoner armor

Point a decent ranged weapon at the enemy
 

Zinnia

Lunatic Cultist
I get my summons out, wear summoner armor and accessories, make traps and/or barriers between me and the enemy. Use a ranged melee weapon preferably one that hits through walls to apply ichor, and for the most part let the minions/traps/terrain do the work while I sit back and relax.

One thing I really love doing is "Summoning" The Great Boulder Snake God to rip anything in it's path to shreds.
 

Mille Marteaux

The Destroyer
The only special thing I do is set up a summoning pit once I have a bat statue (and later, Cute Fishron) so I can min/max as much as possible and disrespect Expert mode as much as it quite frankly deserves. Once everything is summoned I then swap to defensive/ranged accessories and watch the carnage unfold.
 

neoselket

Ice Queen
when i use the summoner, i put warding on all my accessories, use crimson worlds for ichor and vampire knives, play defensively and cautiously, and still get my butt kicked because summoners are little monster punchbags. basically, summoners are like glass cannons. that can't choose where they aim. and die in roughly 2 hits. actually, they're more like wet toilet paper shotguns. I've only done one summoner playthrough, and i never got stardust armor because i gave up after killing moon lord due to the difficulty. the main problem i encountered was the laughable defense.
 
Yeah, see... If anyone tells you how to play your game because you're not doing it the way they want, then they are the ones in the wrong.

Summoner is at its strongest form when you use accessories to maximize minion damage, summon your minions, and then switch to other accessories to protect your own squishy butt. Because the fact is Summoners have less defense than Mages to compensate for one little detail: Your minions fight for you freeing up your hands to attack as well with your weapon(s) of choice.

My favorite Summoner build has me tacking on Menacing onto minion-booster items, summoning the minions. and then swapping over to a raw defensive build. The minions retain the damage boosts after they're summoned regardless of what accessories you switch to afterwards. The equipment for my defensive build is as follows:

Full Stardust Armor set
Warding Solar Wings
Warding Ankh Shield
Warding Worm Scarf
Warding Shiny Stone
Warding Frostspark Boots
Warding Papyrus Scarab

And in my toolbar is generally the following:

Ruthless Solar Eruption
Legendary Stardust Pickaxe
Legendary Stardust Hamaxe
Rod of Discord
Unreal S.D.M.G.
The Grand Design
Mythical Stardust Dragon Staff (should be ruthless but whatever)
Ruthless Xeno Staff
Unreal Phantasm
Mythical Lunar Portal Staff
 

Altaire

Terrarian
^ This. Minion damage is calculated according to whatever buffs you had when you summoned them, as opposed to whatever you have currently. If you're really minmaxing, you'll have the summoner emblem, avenger emblem, destroyer emblem, papyrus scarab, hercules beetle and celestial stone (or shell) filling out your vanity slots, and you'll re-roll all of them for menacing. Switch them all on before you summon your minions, switch them all off afterward. It's quick and painless.

As for what accessories you use actively, that's really up in the air. You should have warding on pretty much every active accessory (at least if you're playing on expert), but that goes for almost any class spec, really. Boots and wings are more or less a given. The worm scarf is only slightly less essential (and kind of sucks the fun out of the game, because not using it is such a massive handicap in expert mode). I can't imagine playing without a dash item either, both because it's tedious and because the dash is essential for repositioning against bosses.

Personally, I don't even bother with a minion cap accessory on my endgame summoner, because the way I play emphasizes mobility. My endgame summoner is running boots, worm scarf, ankh shield, ninja gear, solar wings, and frog leg. If I was going to part with anything to put in a minion cap accessory (or both of them), I'd get rid of the shield and/or frog leg, but I find the added mobility and hitstun immunity more worthwhile than a little extra dragon damage. I get more than enough of that out of the stardust armor and accessories I mentioned. When you've already got seven summons active, one more really isn't a huge difference.

lol at the concept of being unable to use weapons while playing a summoner, though. Even as arbitrary, user-imposed restrictions go, that one's pretty jarring. Considering you have no control over your minions (and uh, with their AI being a bit spotty, you can't always count on them to be where you want them to be), not using a weapon to defend yourself sounds like a headache. It's much worse if you're using the dragon, since it's essentially one big minion that's going to dart around to every enemy in the vicinity, leaving you wide open.

The point of playing summoner is the coverage it gives you. Between an army of minions and an appropriate ranged weapon (or melee projectile), you have a lot more influence over the screen than any other class does. If you want to get the most out of the class, you're best off using weapons that give you more coverage as well. In mid/late normal mode, the bee's knees + hive pack is a good combo for summoners. In early hardmode, You'll be best off with something like the shotgun, shadowflame bow or shadowflame knife. From there, the progression should be pretty obvious. Daedalus stormbow, chlorophyte shotbow, stynger, tactical shotgun, tsunami, phantasm, etc. You don't really "have" to play this way, but this is (arguably) the most effective strat for a summoner. I guess using flasks/arrows to apply the ichor debuff makes sense too, but if you're using a bow, you'd might as well be using holy arrows anyway. Star wrath + ichor flask is pretty nice for the lunar event, though.
 

scientistB

Dungeon Spirit
Loving these replies. I incorporate a lot of these elements into my playstyle, but since I die a lot, I plan to add dodging to my list of skills.

My loadout is basically this. I max my possible minion count, to increase my safety and my total damage. Everything around me is torn to shreds. My vanity damage accessories are Menacing, and I have a Menacing set of the Pygmy Necklace, Necromantic Scroll and Papyrus Scarab in my piggy bank.
I'm also too prideful to use Solar Wings because my love for Stardust will never die. I don't use boots because, well, I'm a little too obsessed with having a swarm at my side. I can also just fly low if I want to travel the ground fast. I could always use other accessories like the Master Ninja Gear, Worm Scarf and Shiny Stone, but I want to try and reduce the amount of survivability items I use. So that I indirectly force myself to get good and learn to juke.
 

Altaire

Terrarian
...I mean, the dash is a fundamental movement mechanic, and not having it sucks :red:. You should really ditch the celestial stone for the ninja gear, especially considering the ninja gear's random invulnerability period is affected by the star veil. The stone is really not doing a lot for you by itself as a summoner with zero defense or mobility. The dash would do so much more for you.

If you're playing on expert, I don't see how you're going to beat bosses like Fishron or Moon Lord without dashing anyhow, or the use of some kind of mount. You could technically use the unicorn mount with a dash item to circumvent the need for boots, but I really don't think it's worth the tradeoff. Boots also increase your overall flight time with wings by a great deal, as a substitute for the rocket boost, a lot of people don't know that. Test it yourself if you don't believe me.
 

scientistB

Dungeon Spirit
...I mean, the dash is a fundamental movement mechanic, and not having it sucks :red:. You should really ditch the celestial stone for the ninja gear, especially considering the ninja gear's random invulnerability period is affected by the star veil. The stone is really not doing a lot for you by itself as a summoner with zero defense or mobility. The dash would do so much more for you.

If you're playing on expert, I don't see how you're going to beat bosses like Fishron or Moon Lord without dashing anyhow, or the use of some kind of mount. You could technically use the unicorn mount with a dash item to circumvent the need for boots, but I really don't think it's worth the tradeoff. Boots also increase your overall flight time with wings by a great deal, as a substitute for the rocket boost, a lot of people don't know that. Test it yourself if you don't believe me.
I always figured that the added defense and regeneration would make the Celestial Shell an optimal accessory, as I use it for the fully-Menacing part of my summoning setup. Perhaps I could add in the Warding Master Ninja Gear to replace the Celestial Shell after I'm done using it to summon my minions. I recently took them up during my expert warrior playthrough, and they go very well together. The dash is more than helpful for better positioning; though for the Duke in particular, I know his patterns as I've practiced with him many times, so dashing isn't always necessary.
However, in the Moon Lord's case, I have a lot of trouble with him. Even with my fully endgame gear, I'm simply too afraid of fighting him without standing in the Nurse's house the entire time. His absurd amount of projectiles makes it nearly impossible to dodge even with the Ninja Gear's dash, because there are simply too many and they do too much damage. In my warrior playthrough, I tried to fight him with a different approach; a stupidly massive aquarena that took up a fourth of the sky, covered in hundreds of torches, for use with the Fishron mount. Even with my extreme speed and maneuverability, I kept getting hit too much. My strategy that let me win was swimming as far as possible, chucking Daybreaks backwards, and outrunning the Moon Bite, so that when he teleported to me, I could circle around him with the Vampire Knives to regenerate the lost HP, and repeat the cycle (there are ways to kill the True Eyes of Cthulhu, but I decided not to utilize that tactic for the sake of saying I beat him the "normal" way). It took all my effort, but when I finally beat him, I said 'to heck with this' and went back to the good old Nurse for my next few battles.

Anyway, I'm aware of the flight time boost that is provided by Rocket Boots and the like. I make sure to do a lot of research on things so that I know what I can do with them. For the most part though, since I'm so heavily equipped with minion accessories that destroy everything around me, I don't find myself needing to fly for long periods unless I'm traveling across my world. I do use the Unicorn mount often when there's enough flat room to run, but for the most part, I find myself more comfortable without much mobility and more power instead. For some reason. I'm probably just bad :p
 

AaroSA

Cultist
A lot of mobility and damage. Summoner armor has low defense, so it's best to stay far away and try dodge things while your minions do work and you use long ranged weapons. A summoner only playthrough is a tough challenge, so I prefer to play it as a hybrid of summoner+mage or ranger. In most cases, complaining that an other person's way of playing the game isn't correct is just silly in this game. There's no other rules than the ones you set yourself in this game.
 

Altaire

Terrarian
I always figured that the added defense and regeneration would make the Celestial Shell an optimal accessory, as I use it for the fully-Menacing part of my summoning setup. Perhaps I could add in the Warding Master Ninja Gear to replace the Celestial Shell after I'm done using it to summon my minions. I recently took them up during my expert warrior playthrough, and they go very well together. The dash is more than helpful for better positioning; though for the Duke in particular, I know his patterns as I've practiced with him many times, so dashing isn't always necessary.
However, in the Moon Lord's case, I have a lot of trouble with him. Even with my fully endgame gear, I'm simply too afraid of fighting him without standing in the Nurse's house the entire time. His absurd amount of projectiles makes it nearly impossible to dodge even with the Ninja Gear's dash, because there are simply too many and they do too much damage. In my warrior playthrough, I tried to fight him with a different approach; a stupidly massive aquarena that took up a fourth of the sky, covered in hundreds of torches, for use with the Fishron mount. Even with my extreme speed and maneuverability, I kept getting hit too much. My strategy that let me win was swimming as far as possible, chucking Daybreaks backwards, and outrunning the Moon Bite, so that when he teleported to me, I could circle around him with the Vampire Knives to regenerate the lost HP, and repeat the cycle (there are ways to kill the True Eyes of Cthulhu, but I decided not to utilize that tactic for the sake of saying I beat him the "normal" way). It took all my effort, but when I finally beat him, I said 'to heck with this' and went back to the good old Nurse for my next few battles.

Anyway, I'm aware of the flight time boost that is provided by Rocket Boots and the like. I make sure to do a lot of research on things so that I know what I can do with them. For the most part though, since I'm so heavily equipped with minion accessories that destroy everything around me, I don't find myself needing to fly for long periods unless I'm traveling across my world. I do use the Unicorn mount often when there's enough flat room to run, but for the most part, I find myself more comfortable without much mobility and more power instead. For some reason. I'm probably just bad :p
The celestial shell is more of a finishing touch for a build, and is better for tank or melee DPS specs than anything else. The difference made by those minor stat boosts, relative to what else you could use that slot for, is negligible. Ninja gear + star veil is a really strong combo, and the dash is too valuable to give up.

You should be able to beat Moon Lord by either running along a sky bridge, or using an asphalt track that loops via teleporters. Second method is easier, but requires more prep. If you have a full sky bridge (which is pretty standard), just start at one end of the world and run to the other. After that, it's just knowing how to dodge his attacks. When you know he's about to go for the forehead laser, circle around his head so you stay parallel to the beam. When he spawns the eye projectiles, just move upward at the right time so they fly beneath you. You don't need to dodge all of his attacks, just most of them, particularly the ones that really hurt. If you're playing on expert and not using the worm scarf, that's really going to screw you, though. I'm really not a fan of how the worm scarf fits into the meta, because you're all but forced to use it (if you disagree, try doing the lunar event on expert, as a summoner, with no worm scarf), but it is what it is, and we have to make the most of it for the time being. I really wish they'd just remove it and adjust the overall damage values on expert mode accordingly, but whatever.

All in all, if you want to get better at the game, you're best off focusing on mobility. You don't need 7 jumps and a frog leg, but boots, wings and a dash item are more or less essential. I'm not going to say you CAN'T play without them, but if you're struggling to overcome specific challenges, you're better off going with what's tried and true before you try reinventing the wheel.
 

scientistB

Dungeon Spirit
All in all, if you want to get better at the game, you're best off focusing on mobility. You don't need 7 jumps and a frog leg, but boots, wings and a dash item are more or less essential. I'm not going to say you CAN'T play without them, but if you're struggling to overcome specific challenges, you're better off going with what's tried and true before you try reinventing the wheel.
I'll admit that I used that holy trinity on my Warrior and they served me well. I was genuinely surprised when I could beat the expert Solar Pillar without a Worm Scarf and without dying (Nebula is another story though, darn Floaters). Part of my problem when it comes to my Summoner is that I'm too attached to things like my extra Necromantic Scroll, and I feel compulsive about losing that one extra minion in exchange for something that would help me move better. The amount of people who use all the top mobility accessories make me think "These options are too popular, I'd rather play by my own rules." Which is why I am faced with problems like this; my pride keeps getting in the way.
For sure though, when I start my next playthrough, I'm going to try mixing things up a little and see how mobility affects me. It worked wonders for my Warrior, surely it could help my Summoner. I'd like to expand my horizons which is why I greatly appreciate your advice.
 

Altaire

Terrarian
Well, it's a lot easier to get by without the scarf for a melee build, and if you're playing melee DPS as opposed to full tank, it's actually kind of encouraged. A good example of an endgame melee DPS build would be beetle scale armor + star wrath + all manner of gear to buff melee speed. You have a decent chunk of defense from your armor already, so the worm scarf isn't missed quite so much.

For a ranger/mage/summoner build, trying to get through the game without it is hell. I'd rather eat my own :red: with a fork and knife than play through the hardmode underground jungle without that scarf.

Also, before anyone goes there, the solar armor blows compared to the beetle scale in terms of DPS, because all you're getting out of it is slightly better overall stats for a much weaker passive. In fact, even for a full tank setup, the beetle shell ensemble will make you a lot more durable, given the huge damage reduction. Beetle shell + ninja gear + star veil + vamp knives is a ridiculous combo, Moon Lord debuff withstanding. The only thing I'd ever consider using solar armor for is the free dash (meaning you could swap the ninja gear for something else), or uh, vanity. I can't think of anything worth subbing out the ninja gear for that'd be better than 30% overall melee damage though, especially when you're painting the screen with meteors.

I understand wanting to be individualistic, but think about it this way: It's not really about the brush you use, it's what you put on the canvas. Unfortunately, I think summoner is the one spec that's least flexible, even more so than tank. Compared to the variety you have with magic or ranged weapons, there's only so much you can do. You're welcome to experiment with it, but there's really nothing that's worth the tradeoff for the boots, scarf and dash. I've always wished the devs would incorporate some alternative options for late game accessories, i.e. combining the tabi with your boots instead of the ninja gear, or uh, just taking the scarf out of the game entirely. Terraria does have some issues with accessory "options" not being optional at all, in essence.

Otherworld has a dedicated wings slot, at least, so that's a step in the right direction as far as eliminating redundancy.
 

scientistB

Dungeon Spirit
By the time I reached the endgame on my Warrior, I did notice the drop in melee speed in exchange for a minor increase in all stats. Maybe at some point I'll go back into it. Seems there's still a lot of issues with the balance in this game, because an ability to combine expert accessories would be nice, and the Summoner really does need more flexibility (other than the ability to use any weapon). Expert monsters in general could really do with a damage reduction, and the supposed defense buff hardly does anything in expert (100 defense and still taking like 150 damage from a phantasmal eye, what the heck).
 

Altaire

Terrarian
The game just needs a better balance of accessories. Even with six slots, so many accessories end up feeling mandatory that you end up having very little left to choose from. It's unfortunate, because if not for that, there would be so many cool gear loadouts at your disposal.

Also, the solar armor is just awful, especially considering the other three endgame armors are so, so good. The passive just isn't nearly as valuable as what either variant of the beetle armor gives you. Armor balance is pretty good for the most part, aside from that (although I don't understand why the hallowed gear feels so underwhelming compared to tier 3 hardmode armor), but the accessory thing is really goofy. I'm hoping Otherworld addresses some of those issues.
 

Vikilum

Terrarian
I've seen an increasing amount of people who do the complete opposite though. They feel that the Summoner is a strict class who is not allowed to use weapons (except for the Nimbus Rod for whatever reason), and must rely on their minions to do everything for them while they simply dodge their way to victory.

All classes are strict classes, otherwise people will spam Nimbus Rods and Rainbow Guns and call themselves Warriors/Rangers/Summoners.
 
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