• For issues you find with the Switch and Console releases, please follow this link and give as much detail as possible. This is the speediest way to get info to Pipeworks and get a hotfix in the works.
  • 1.4 will bring many changes to the PC version. We strongly advise making plans to back up your worlds and players prior to updating your game. More details here.
  • Begin your search for Journey's End information here and here. Please report bugs and issues for Journey's End here.
  • For issues you find with the Mobile 1.3 update, please follow this link and give as much detail as possible. This is the speediest way to get info to DR Studios to look at your issue. Also, some troubleshooting hints here.

PC Summoner Discussion - What could be done to make it more viable?

did i do a good :)


  • Total voters
    18

SkyanUltra

Terrarian
I want to bring my ideas to the table for how we could make the summoner class more viable, but still limit it so that hybrid class builds using the summons aren't broken. Post yours below if you have any, or post any gripes you have with my current ideas if you'd like.



Whips
Whips are probably my favorite addition to the summoner class overall. They give the summoner more to do than just run and watch their somewhat-incompetent minions do the work for them, and I think that's great. The problem I have with them is that there's TOO LITTLE. Seriously, only 8 whips total are in the game, and the only 2 that are in pre-HM aren't even that far apart progression, or power wise.

My idea is to add some more whips. Skeletron has a low amount of drops as it stands, so how about some spine based whip of some sort? It would fit the skeleton theme of the boss, and would be a nice upgrade from the Snapthorn.

Not to mention, it would be nice if they took a note from the whips from the WeaponOut mod, and potentially made them crit on the tip. It would award players who are able to space themselves well with some extra damage from their whips, and would be a nice way to give whips a little bit more of a purpose other than spamming them on bosses to get your summons to do more damage.

Pre-Hardmode
Pre-Hardmode has always been a huge problem for the summoner, as they don't necessarily have very much to work with. The weapon variety is fine as is, although the balance does need to be shifted a bit. Buffing the slime summon would be a good idea considering the fact that finch is overall just better despite slime being difficult to obtain. Giving it a bit extra damage would be nice. Same thing should be done with the Vampire Frog, but to a lesser effect as its only a tad bit underpowered.

And now, Armor.
Finally, the huge topic every one gets in a twist about: Equipment. I know that summoner has an armor set, and thats fine. I don't think it matters nearly as much considering the fact that magic has 4 different sets, along with 2 of those sets being interchangable and having 6 different robes that can be used with them. Plus, as it stands its the least populated class in terms of armor sets. Ranged got a hand me down from the Thrower in the form of Fossil armor, and so now Ranged actually has a nice armor set to be used early in the game, leaving summoner with just one armor set. My idea is that you could add a similar thing to the gem robes + hat: a crown that drops from the Slime King. This can be mixed and matched with other armor and would grant a nice healthy +1 max minion, but only have 1 defense total. This is bad for hybrids, as it means they need to sacrifice their set bonus, and some defense to get this extra minion. Wouldn't you want to have the ability to spam space gun, or have super high regen, or have that sweet sweet 15% magic damage and mana increase?

Regardless, while a crown isn't too bad of an idea, you could also give a really bad pull from a pyramid a really nice buff of being a pre-boss summoner set. Pharaoh vanity could be given some stats (along with a possible extra item, would simply be some shoes or slippers of some sort) that could be really nice to get early in the game. It could grant about as much armor as Tin Armor does (without the set bonus) and could give the player a total of 12% increased minion damage, and the set bonus could grant an extra minion. Not only does this once again discourage hybrids a bit since you can't even gain bonuses to your other weapons, you also can't get the extra minion without equipping the full set. (Plus it actually make the pharaoh set not disappointing which is essentially a win-win in my book.


I know this is laid out more like a suggestion, but I don't mean for it to be. I'm just spitballing ideas that I think would work in Terraria for the summoner. Most of them are general anyways, such as the whips and short and sweet buffs. Equipment is just a difficult topic to discuss with summoner in general, since the only one they have is in such a weird place to begin with so it's hard to place a new set, but I feel the best place for one to be is probably pre-boss, since it far away and at a point where summoner needs it the most, which is all the time.

As I said before, please make fun of me for having such bad ideas and tell me yours or changes you'd make to mine since i'm not the greatest with this sort of stuff.
 

Cumbleton

Terrarian
I've been playing through Master Mode using primarily summoner gear since it appeared that it was the class with the most new content in 1.4. Even with it being such a large focus of the update, however, it still feels like summoning is actively weaker than the other three by a pretty huge margin, to the point that it feels completely unviable as a solo class in Master Mode. To address my biggest issues with the class:

Whips, and why they don't work
On paper, I really like the idea of a dedicated summoner weapon to go along with the passive damage of minions. Rather than having to reach into the other three damage types for increased DPS, summoners get gear that scales with their specific boosts, as well as rewarding them with increased minion damage for using it. However, the fact that summoners get this in the form of whips feels very at odds with the rest of their design. While they have a longer range than most early-game melee weapons, whips require you to get decently close to enemies in order to actually hit them. Considering that summoners have the lowest amount of defense of the four classes, this is often a death sentence, especially in the harder difficulties where 1 or 2 hits from anything is enough to kill you.

Summoner has always been a fragile class, but this wasn't an issue in the past since there was no reason for them to ever be near enemies. Most summons can target from a fair distance away, and the class had a very natural synergy with magic weapons (both drawing from mana, the hybrid Forbidden Armor, etc.), which also tend to be long range. Even the hybrid armors introduced alongside the Old One's Army handle this fairly well, with the more melee-focused armor sets bolstering the player's defensive capabilities greatly in the form of raw defense, movement speed, and increased health regeneration to account for the fact that they will be far more at risk of getting hit by enemies. Whips, on the other hand, demand that the player get incredibly close to enemies to make sure they're getting the most damage possible, but this additional damage generally isn't worth it when a single hit can drain half your health or more.

If the goal behind summoning is for the player to fight up close alongside their minions, using whips to command them and increase their damage output, then summoners need more in the way of defensive capability. The Squire and Valhalla Knight sets provide this, but these are gated behind Hardmode progression and the sets are very restrictive in terms of which summoning weapons can be used alongside them. A similar armor for traditional summons would be a welcome addition, but I would argue that all summoning armor needs to be buffed defensively if the intent is for it to be a close-up class; if summoners are meant to be within melee range, then they should certainly have more defense than rangers or mages, who can reliably hit enemies without even needing to see them. Conversely, if summoners being weak defensively is the priority, then their dedicated weapon should be something longer range, rather than the close-range whips. Tagging enemies to focus them down and increase the damage of minions is a great idea and a natural addition to the class, but the way it was implemented feels incredibly lacking.

Sentry Summons
I don't know if this is a hot take, but I really don't like sentries. Compared to traditional summons, they're super inflexible and slow, to the point that they don't feel good to use at all. While effective in invasion type events like the one they originate from, they simply don't work in dynamic boss fights, as 90% of the time the boss will be outside of the sentries' attacking range. Additionally, the time limit on sentries feels asinine to me; regular summons don't despawn after two minutes, so why do sentries? There's never any reason to use sentry summons, since regular summons will always be far more effective, not being nearly as slow and actually being able to follow a boss more than 5 feet away from their spawning point. I almost feel like sentries are more effective in Pre-Hardmode, as enemies and bosses tend to be far less mobile during this point of the game. However, they're incredibly undercooked at this point, with only the base tier of the Old One's Army sentries being accessible and no gear to improve their potency. It isn't until Hardmode when you get anything more, and at that point sentries are completely invalidated by the huge mobility of enemies and bosses. However, like I mentioned above, this gear is also the best that summoners get defensively, meaning that you're stuck having to choose between having barely passable defense or having any sort of offensive capabilities whatsoever. I would love to see a Pre-Hardmode variant of the Old One's Army sets to go along with the Pre-Hardmode sentries; not only would this help sentries feel like a viable archetype at any point in the game, it would also give a well-needed boost to Pre-Hardmode summoning. Speaking of which...

Pre-Hardmode and Gear Progression
I don't need to say much here, everyone knows that the gear progression for summoners is lackluster. The first three summoning staves are all completely luck dependent; the Finch Staff from worldgen, the Slime Staff has a minuscule droprate, and the Vampire Frog Staff can only be fished up during an event which you can't reliably initiate (I had a playthrough where I didn't get a single Blood Moon until literally halfway through Hardmode). There's only one set of armor, which is gated behind a mid Pre-Hardmode boss in one of the most dangerous biomes at that point of the game. These are issues that everyone already knows about.

I do want to address a point that I saw on the forums a few days ago which really recontextualised the differences between summoning and other classes for me: melee, ranged, and magic weapons can all be used independently of gear - that is, you don't need gear to effectively use these weapons - and you can still tack on a summon for extra damage. Meanwhile, dedicated summoners still only get the one summon (with the obvious exception of the Optic Staff) and are dependent on their gear to actually increase this number. Solo summoner isn't truly viable until post-Plantera, where you get access to a number of accessories to increase minion count and damage. Up until this point, you're completely reliant on armor to increase your minion count - armor that I've already established is subpar in most other aspects.


I do think 1.4 was a step in the right direction, adding in more early-game summons and fleshing out the capabilities of the class. However, as it stands right now the class concept just feels confused. Summoners are encouraged to fight up-close while being given the lowest defense of any class, trying to increase your defensive capabilities ends up completely undercutting any potential for damage by restricting you to the hugely ineffective sentries, and summoning as a whole lacks any sort of edge over other damage types for the first two-thirds of the game - you simply benefit more from playing another class with a minion for extra damage than you do for actually leaning into the unique aspects of summoning.
 

Ezel

Official Terrarian
My main issue with summoner is still the early game. We got the Finch Staff and the Frog Staff, but the bird may not be a thing if you get bad luck with chest loot, and the frog is rather difficult do get as you're forced to fish during a Blood Moon which can easily kill you early game. Summoner currently is sort of viable, but it's still lacking variety. It'd be nice to switch between 3 or 4 more weapons instead of using one and the same minion until you get something better. It gets a little better in Hardmode but it's visible.

I kind of like whips because they give minions some extra abilities, such as higher damage and even possible temporary crit chances which is something that was never a thing before. I personally don't mind the range of whips but I think they should reward the player a little more by risking getting hit. I think the buffs should have been a little bit stronger, or at least they all should give minions a chance to inflict critical hits.
 

Nemo

Terrarian
even possible temporary crit chances which is something that was never a thing before
Frankly, I don't understand how "summon tag damage" works. It's never explained anywhere.

Is it a separate "add-on" damage that can crit? e.g. if you are using the Kaleidoscope, your minion hits and an extra hit of 20 damage with a 10% crit chance happens.

Minions have never crit. The whip itself can't crit according to the wiki.
 

Cumbleton

Terrarian
To my understanding, summon tag damage simply adds on to the base damage of the minions whenever they attack the enemy you tag with the whip. While the increases are small at first, this snowballs pretty heavily later on when multiple minions each get this bonus and can attack far more rapidly. Some of the whips forgo tag damage for extra effects, such as the Cool Whip summoning a snowflake minion. You are correct in that minions cannot normally crit, but the Kaleidoscope is the exception to this rule, allowing minions to deal crits on tagged targets in addition to adding damage. I'm unsure if this crit chance can be raised with accessories or reforges, but I've been using it and it does in fact allow my minions to crit.
 

smeagolheart

Terrarian
...
Pre-Hardmode
Pre-Hardmode has always been a huge problem for the summoner...

And now, Armor.
Finally, the huge topic every one gets in a twist about: Equipment. I know that summoner has an armor set, and thats fine. I don't think it matters nearly as much considering the fact that magic has 4 different sets, along with 2 of those sets being interchangable and having 6 different robes that can be used with them. Plus, as it stands its the least populated class in terms of armor sets. Ranged got a hand me down from the Thrower in the form of Fossil armor, and so now Ranged actually has a nice armor set to be used early in the game, leaving summoner with just one armor set. My idea is that you could add a similar thing to the gem robes + hat: a crown that drops from the Slime King. This can be mixed and matched with other armor and would grant a nice healthy +1 max minion, but only have 1 defense total. This is bad for hybrids, as it means they need to sacrifice their set bonus, and some defense to get this extra minion. Wouldn't you want to have the ability to spam space gun, or have super high regen, or have that sweet sweet 15% magic damage and mana increase?

Regardless, while a crown isn't too bad of an idea, you could also give a really bad pull from a pyramid a really nice buff of being a pre-boss summoner set. Pharaoh vanity could be given some stats (along with a possible extra item, would simply be some shoes or slippers of some sort) that could be really nice to get early in the game. It could grant about as much armor as Tin Armor does (without the set bonus) and could give the player a total of 12% increased minion damage, and the set bonus could grant an extra minion. Not only does this once again discourage hybrids a bit since you can't even gain bonuses to your other weapons, you also can't get the extra minion without equipping the full set. (Plus it actually make the pharaoh set not disappointing which is essentially a win-win in my book.

I know this is laid out more like a suggestion, but I don't mean for it to be. I'm just spitballing ideas that I think would work in Terraria for the summoner...
Those sound like excellent ideas to me:. A +1 summon crown from king slime and the vanity pharaoh set giving +1 summon set bonus and weak armor stats. At that point you would probably not have a summon weapon even I suppose though.
 

SaintD

Terrarian
There is one glaring problem with Summoners as the game goes on and the bosses get harder with the demand for more and more movement - the Summons won't attack.

Summons are the entire point of your character and are completely and utterly needed to deal much of your damage. But the majority of them simply won't. As you move around trying to avoid a boss, I have found that almost all summons steadfastly completely refuse to ever attack the boss. The only way to get them to do anything is to whip the boss.....feel free to do this with the likes of Duke Fishron and the Empress of Light, see how well that goes. Doing that even with Plantera is a terrible idea.

I haven't played for a long time since I went through the previous big update due to waiting for 1.4, but I don't remember the summons being so worthlessly passive during boss fights. They are literally worse than nothing now, you set up your character for your summons and all that means is that you have less armor and ranged damage than the ranger you should be while your summons do absolutely nothing following you around and watching a boss grind you down.

It's become a completely untenable gameplay choice for me now, due to this refusal of summons to bother doing their job. If it was done deliberately to force the use of whips to control your minions behaviour....that's the death of the class for me, and the death of my current drive to play the game. Maybe some other time when I get over being so demoralized.

If someone has a mod that fixes this garbage, please link it so I can actually play a summoner. I managed to beat Duke Fishron ONCE by just not being a summoner, got a Tempest staff, and despite going back to him with technically vastly superior EVERYTHING, he walks all over me effortlessly with barely half health lost because the summons won't do anything. Also, incidentally.....the Desert Tiger is garbage at ALL times, not just during boss fights, because of this shy behaviour. Absolute waste of time getting that biome key.

Oh and I'm only playing on Normal. I don't want to even think about how utterly untenable Summoner is in higher difficulties to anyone who isn't deliberately screwing themselves for a challenge run.

Fixing summons needs one simple change to their AI - they should stick to the big bosses like glue. Their usual distance keeping should be ignored and they should attack it relentlessly. Effectively, your summons should be enraged by a boss and keep attacking it at all costs, and you should use your whip to change their behaviour away from that to make them go after something else if you need them to. A God damn tornado of sharks shouldn't be following me around like an idiot puppy doing nothing while I'm trying to avoid a colossal flying pig, or Betsy, or what the hell ever, watching me die.

After getting massacred by damn near every boss available to me that isn't Golem, who I can't even be bothered to go fight now because I just don't care after watching my summons be so useless, I'm.....just going to go play Civ 6. It's demoralized me. I've been playing every spare moment since the update dropped and this has just squashed me.
 
Last edited:
I've been playing through Master Mode using primarily summoner gear since it appeared that it was the class with the most new content in 1.4. Even with it being such a large focus of the update, however, it still feels like summoning is actively weaker than the other three by a pretty huge margin, to the point that it feels completely unviable as a solo class in Master Mode. To address my biggest issues with the class:

Whips, and why they don't work
On paper, I really like the idea of a dedicated summoner weapon to go along with the passive damage of minions. Rather than having to reach into the other three damage types for increased DPS, summoners get gear that scales with their specific boosts, as well as rewarding them with increased minion damage for using it. However, the fact that summoners get this in the form of whips feels very at odds with the rest of their design. While they have a longer range than most early-game melee weapons, whips require you to get decently close to enemies in order to actually hit them. Considering that summoners have the lowest amount of defense of the four classes, this is often a death sentence, especially in the harder difficulties where 1 or 2 hits from anything is enough to kill you.

Summoner has always been a fragile class, but this wasn't an issue in the past since there was no reason for them to ever be near enemies. Most summons can target from a fair distance away, and the class had a very natural synergy with magic weapons (both drawing from mana, the hybrid Forbidden Armor, etc.), which also tend to be long range. Even the hybrid armors introduced alongside the Old One's Army handle this fairly well, with the more melee-focused armor sets bolstering the player's defensive capabilities greatly in the form of raw defense, movement speed, and increased health regeneration to account for the fact that they will be far more at risk of getting hit by enemies. Whips, on the other hand, demand that the player get incredibly close to enemies to make sure they're getting the most damage possible, but this additional damage generally isn't worth it when a single hit can drain half your health or more.

If the goal behind summoning is for the player to fight up close alongside their minions, using whips to command them and increase their damage output, then summoners need more in the way of defensive capability. The Squire and Valhalla Knight sets provide this, but these are gated behind Hardmode progression and the sets are very restrictive in terms of which summoning weapons can be used alongside them. A similar armor for traditional summons would be a welcome addition, but I would argue that all summoning armor needs to be buffed defensively if the intent is for it to be a close-up class; if summoners are meant to be within melee range, then they should certainly have more defense than rangers or mages, who can reliably hit enemies without even needing to see them. Conversely, if summoners being weak defensively is the priority, then their dedicated weapon should be something longer range, rather than the close-range whips. Tagging enemies to focus them down and increase the damage of minions is a great idea and a natural addition to the class, but the way it was implemented feels incredibly lacking.

Sentry Summons
I don't know if this is a hot take, but I really don't like sentries. Compared to traditional summons, they're super inflexible and slow, to the point that they don't feel good to use at all. While effective in invasion type events like the one they originate from, they simply don't work in dynamic boss fights, as 90% of the time the boss will be outside of the sentries' attacking range. Additionally, the time limit on sentries feels asinine to me; regular summons don't despawn after two minutes, so why do sentries? There's never any reason to use sentry summons, since regular summons will always be far more effective, not being nearly as slow and actually being able to follow a boss more than 5 feet away from their spawning point. I almost feel like sentries are more effective in Pre-Hardmode, as enemies and bosses tend to be far less mobile during this point of the game. However, they're incredibly undercooked at this point, with only the base tier of the Old One's Army sentries being accessible and no gear to improve their potency. It isn't until Hardmode when you get anything more, and at that point sentries are completely invalidated by the huge mobility of enemies and bosses. However, like I mentioned above, this gear is also the best that summoners get defensively, meaning that you're stuck having to choose between having barely passable defense or having any sort of offensive capabilities whatsoever. I would love to see a Pre-Hardmode variant of the Old One's Army sets to go along with the Pre-Hardmode sentries; not only would this help sentries feel like a viable archetype at any point in the game, it would also give a well-needed boost to Pre-Hardmode summoning. Speaking of which...

Pre-Hardmode and Gear Progression
I don't need to say much here, everyone knows that the gear progression for summoners is lackluster. The first three summoning staves are all completely luck dependent; the Finch Staff from worldgen, the Slime Staff has a minuscule droprate, and the Vampire Frog Staff can only be fished up during an event which you can't reliably initiate (I had a playthrough where I didn't get a single Blood Moon until literally halfway through Hardmode). There's only one set of armor, which is gated behind a mid Pre-Hardmode boss in one of the most dangerous biomes at that point of the game. These are issues that everyone already knows about.

I do want to address a point that I saw on the forums a few days ago which really recontextualised the differences between summoning and other classes for me: melee, ranged, and magic weapons can all be used independently of gear - that is, you don't need gear to effectively use these weapons - and you can still tack on a summon for extra damage. Meanwhile, dedicated summoners still only get the one summon (with the obvious exception of the Optic Staff) and are dependent on their gear to actually increase this number. Solo summoner isn't truly viable until post-Plantera, where you get access to a number of accessories to increase minion count and damage. Up until this point, you're completely reliant on armor to increase your minion count - armor that I've already established is subpar in most other aspects.


I do think 1.4 was a step in the right direction, adding in more early-game summons and fleshing out the capabilities of the class. However, as it stands right now the class concept just feels confused. Summoners are encouraged to fight up-close while being given the lowest defense of any class, trying to increase your defensive capabilities ends up completely undercutting any potential for damage by restricting you to the hugely ineffective sentries, and summoning as a whole lacks any sort of edge over other damage types for the first two-thirds of the game - you simply benefit more from playing another class with a minion for extra damage than you do for actually leaning into the unique aspects of summoning.
I agree with all of this; Summoner is my favorite class to play because I like having minions, and I'm doing a 1.4 playthrough with a group of friends, who didn't really understand my desire to rapidly advance to (and past) Plantera until I laid out information like this for them; The fact that the Hallowed summoner helm only gives you 1 singular defense, less than even the mage helmet, is incredibly saddening.

I was desperately hoping this update would finally and fully flesh out Summoners with more content, more armor, more minions, more accessories, etc. A step in the right direction indeed but gods, it's still incredibly saddening that this'll be it's final state on the last major update. I can only hope that more changes are made, despite the 'completion' of Terraria.
 

DJFlare84

Mechanic
I've been playing through Master Mode using primarily summoner gear since it appeared that it was the class with the most new content in 1.4. Even with it being such a large focus of the update, however, it still feels like summoning is actively weaker than the other three by a pretty huge margin, to the point that it feels completely unviable as a solo class in Master Mode. To address my biggest issues with the class:

Whips, and why they don't work
On paper, I really like the idea of a dedicated summoner weapon to go along with the passive damage of minions. Rather than having to reach into the other three damage types for increased DPS, summoners get gear that scales with their specific boosts, as well as rewarding them with increased minion damage for using it. However, the fact that summoners get this in the form of whips feels very at odds with the rest of their design. While they have a longer range than most early-game melee weapons, whips require you to get decently close to enemies in order to actually hit them. Considering that summoners have the lowest amount of defense of the four classes, this is often a death sentence, especially in the harder difficulties where 1 or 2 hits from anything is enough to kill you.

Summoner has always been a fragile class, but this wasn't an issue in the past since there was no reason for them to ever be near enemies. Most summons can target from a fair distance away, and the class had a very natural synergy with magic weapons (both drawing from mana, the hybrid Forbidden Armor, etc.), which also tend to be long range. Even the hybrid armors introduced alongside the Old One's Army handle this fairly well, with the more melee-focused armor sets bolstering the player's defensive capabilities greatly in the form of raw defense, movement speed, and increased health regeneration to account for the fact that they will be far more at risk of getting hit by enemies. Whips, on the other hand, demand that the player get incredibly close to enemies to make sure they're getting the most damage possible, but this additional damage generally isn't worth it when a single hit can drain half your health or more.

If the goal behind summoning is for the player to fight up close alongside their minions, using whips to command them and increase their damage output, then summoners need more in the way of defensive capability. The Squire and Valhalla Knight sets provide this, but these are gated behind Hardmode progression and the sets are very restrictive in terms of which summoning weapons can be used alongside them. A similar armor for traditional summons would be a welcome addition, but I would argue that all summoning armor needs to be buffed defensively if the intent is for it to be a close-up class; if summoners are meant to be within melee range, then they should certainly have more defense than rangers or mages, who can reliably hit enemies without even needing to see them. Conversely, if summoners being weak defensively is the priority, then their dedicated weapon should be something longer range, rather than the close-range whips. Tagging enemies to focus them down and increase the damage of minions is a great idea and a natural addition to the class, but the way it was implemented feels incredibly lacking.

Sentry Summons
I don't know if this is a hot take, but I really don't like sentries. Compared to traditional summons, they're super inflexible and slow, to the point that they don't feel good to use at all. While effective in invasion type events like the one they originate from, they simply don't work in dynamic boss fights, as 90% of the time the boss will be outside of the sentries' attacking range. Additionally, the time limit on sentries feels asinine to me; regular summons don't despawn after two minutes, so why do sentries? There's never any reason to use sentry summons, since regular summons will always be far more effective, not being nearly as slow and actually being able to follow a boss more than 5 feet away from their spawning point. I almost feel like sentries are more effective in Pre-Hardmode, as enemies and bosses tend to be far less mobile during this point of the game. However, they're incredibly undercooked at this point, with only the base tier of the Old One's Army sentries being accessible and no gear to improve their potency. It isn't until Hardmode when you get anything more, and at that point sentries are completely invalidated by the huge mobility of enemies and bosses. However, like I mentioned above, this gear is also the best that summoners get defensively, meaning that you're stuck having to choose between having barely passable defense or having any sort of offensive capabilities whatsoever. I would love to see a Pre-Hardmode variant of the Old One's Army sets to go along with the Pre-Hardmode sentries; not only would this help sentries feel like a viable archetype at any point in the game, it would also give a well-needed boost to Pre-Hardmode summoning. Speaking of which...

Pre-Hardmode and Gear Progression
I don't need to say much here, everyone knows that the gear progression for summoners is lackluster. The first three summoning staves are all completely luck dependent; the Finch Staff from worldgen, the Slime Staff has a minuscule droprate, and the Vampire Frog Staff can only be fished up during an event which you can't reliably initiate (I had a playthrough where I didn't get a single Blood Moon until literally halfway through Hardmode). There's only one set of armor, which is gated behind a mid Pre-Hardmode boss in one of the most dangerous biomes at that point of the game. These are issues that everyone already knows about.

I do want to address a point that I saw on the forums a few days ago which really recontextualised the differences between summoning and other classes for me: melee, ranged, and magic weapons can all be used independently of gear - that is, you don't need gear to effectively use these weapons - and you can still tack on a summon for extra damage. Meanwhile, dedicated summoners still only get the one summon (with the obvious exception of the Optic Staff) and are dependent on their gear to actually increase this number. Solo summoner isn't truly viable until post-Plantera, where you get access to a number of accessories to increase minion count and damage. Up until this point, you're completely reliant on armor to increase your minion count - armor that I've already established is subpar in most other aspects.


I do think 1.4 was a step in the right direction, adding in more early-game summons and fleshing out the capabilities of the class. However, as it stands right now the class concept just feels confused. Summoners are encouraged to fight up-close while being given the lowest defense of any class, trying to increase your defensive capabilities ends up completely undercutting any potential for damage by restricting you to the hugely ineffective sentries, and summoning as a whole lacks any sort of edge over other damage types for the first two-thirds of the game - you simply benefit more from playing another class with a minion for extra damage than you do for actually leaning into the unique aspects of summoning.
This has to be the best, most thorough and in-depth look into the topic of why Summoner feels so bad right now, I especially love the part about whips and I absolutely agree. Whoever implemented them in the game obviously did NOT play a lot of summoner and has no idea what it's actually like to BE one, otherwise this dissonance between the weapon we're given and the armor we have would not be so great.

It's as if the staff saw that Summoners were so effective staying away from the enemy, didn't think about WHY they were DOING that, and just threw in the whip to try and help them die more. It literally feels like that. It LITERALLY feels like the whip was only added to HELP SUMMONERS DIE MORE. And in that regard, they were highly effective.

I know this because I've been having a HELL of a time trying to fight bosses on Expert Mode since Journey's End. I main Summoner. I've always mained Summoner, but something felt wrong this time. I was dying a lot more. Boss fights felt impossible, insurmountable now, whereas before they were difficult but I was able to do it. I never really paid much attention to why I was dying so much until I thought about how having the whips and trying so hard to incorporate them into my gameplay has put me closer to the danger-zone than I should be with my paper-thin armor. Bosses are too fast and throw too much sh*t at you to justify ever getting close to them for ANY reason, let alone a small damage buff for your minions which are, honestly, doing just fine without you.

Seriously, what is the comparison between the tag buff vs you just supporting your minions with a steady stream of chlorophyte bullets? I'm willing to bet it's not significant enough to justify EVER using a whip for ANY reason.

Just about the only thing I disagree with here is the tone you have when you say "this is a step in the right direction". It kind-of is, but only in the very bare-minimum, technical sense. It's hardly a step at all, and in the case of the whips, it's actually a step BACKWARDS.

Re-Logic needs to take a good hard look at Summoner, decide what they want Summoner to BE, and either buff the defense, or give Summoner something that lets them tag from a distance.

EDIT: I'd like to take this moment to plug my idea for Command Scrolls, which are definitely better than the whips we have now, and I feel fits the class better.

 
Last edited:
This has to be the best, most thorough and in-depth look into the topic of why Summoner feels so bad right now, I especially love the part about whips and I absolutely agree. Whoever implemented them in the game obviously did NOT play a lot of summoner and has no idea what it's actually like to BE one, otherwise this dissonance between the weapon we're given and the armor we have would not be so great.

It's as if the staff saw that Summoners were so effective staying away from the enemy, didn't think about WHY they were DOING that, and just threw in the whip to try and help them die more. It literally feels like that. It LITERALLY feels like the whip was only added to HELP SUMMONERS DIE MORE. And in that regard, they were highly effective.

I know this because I've been having a HELL of a time trying to fight bosses on Expert Mode since Journey's End. I main Summoner. I've always mained Summoner, but something felt wrong this time. I was dying a lot more. Boss fights felt impossible, insurmountable now, whereas before they were difficult but I was able to do it. I never really paid much attention to why I was dying so much until I thought about how having the whips and trying so hard to incorporate them into my gameplay has put me closer to the danger-zone than I should be with my paper-thin armor. Bosses are too fast and throw too much sh*t at you to justify ever getting close to them for ANY reason, let alone a small damage buff for your minions which are, honestly, doing just fine without you.

Seriously, what is the comparison between the tag buff vs you just supporting your minions with a steady stream of chlorophyte bullets? I'm willing to bet it's not significant enough to justify EVER using a whip for ANY reason.

Just about the only thing I disagree with here is the tone you have when you say "this is a step in the right direction". It kind-of is, but only in the very bare-minimum, technical sense. It's hardly a step at all, and in the case of the whips, it's actually a step BACKWARDS.

Re-Logic needs to take a good hard look at Summoner, decide what they want Summoner to BE, and either buff the defense, or give Summoner something that lets them tag from a distance.

EDIT: I'd like to take this moment to plug my idea for Command Scrolls, which are definitely better than the whips we have now, and I feel fits the class better.

You and me both, my dude...Summoner has always been my favorite, and despite the pain of getting it's weapons and being viable (sucks that I have to use all my accessory slots to be useful :C Also oof, trying to get the Terraprisma is driving me nuts; Not only do we suck defensively and gear wise, we have to jump through crazy hoops to get anything even somewhat powerful. I know the TP is strong as heck from what I've heard, but a no-hit bullet hell boss? Feels a little extreme to me...)
 

Dragrath

Duke Fishron
Yeah summoner seems to be problematic the whole tag weapons aspect was a good start conceptually but I can see where there are problems particularly with the class. Whips seem alright from the perspective of a weapon intended to boost minion potential in a risk reward sense but the issue is that there isn't something to provide an alternative approach to make that trade off worthwhile. The other issue is that summoner gear is highly biased towards added minions leaving little utility for anything else. This isn't unique to summoner entirely but it does have the least versatile equipment set not even being able to utilize the multi class helmets.

Additionally there is the other elephant in the room the poor integration between the OOA crossover event and the associated mechanic changes as it took away a critical source of additional damage at a distance provided by the previously one per staff sentries which can only be compensated through gear that provides no bonuses whatsoever to traditional minion summoner weapons or even the new whips.

Personally it bothers me that the threefour ogre accessories all are identical clones of each other and have no tinkers with other accessories in particular summoner lacks the accessory compression other classes have there are several ways to work around this.
For example what if the shield included the typical knock back resistance and a defense bonus spec'd to summoners? (say adding defense based of the number of minions)

The belt might perhaps be tinkered with the black belt to give an accessory which lets a summoner evade a hit at the temporary cost of a minion/sentry(similar in length to the old titanium armor's cooldown debuff)

The Pygmy necklace could for instance have upgrades which give both a sentry and a minion or perhaps two minions that way freeing up an other slot for a general use accessory

Additionally I feel there could be a use for other weapons that have more range back in 1.2-1.3 I had the idea of additional spooky wood equipment namely a set of tools and an otherwise sub par sword, bow and scepter which would draw aggro and give bonuses to attacks by minions which is effectively the tag system perhaps something like that could be modified to do summon damage outright on a wider array of weapons? The theme I would say is that summoners lack accessory compression upgrades like those that the other classes get with the papyrus scarab being as close as summoners get to an accessory with role compression.
 
Last edited:

olegoleg123

Terrarian
An idea I've had a while ago was a summoner weapon that allowed you to either "channel" your mana into the summons to increase their damage and fire rate temporarily, or manually target your summons at the cursor's position. I know that this would overlap a bit with other classes but it's not like it'd matter all that much considering we already have stuff like projectile-shooting magic swords in the game. And the ability to have a little bit more manual control over the minions, especially in intense combat situations and boss fights(allowing you to actually focus down fast bosses like Duke Fishron) would be much appreciated.
 

Banmei

Terrarian
What could improve the Summoner class?

I think it comes down to just one thing. The class sucks until Hardmode. Then after a while it becomes as potent if not more powerful than other classes.

Let's look at the beginning of the game. Melee, ranged, and Mages have access to craft usable items from the beginning. Melee is kind of weak and the Mage takes a bit more resource gathering to pull off. The Summoner? You can find a Finch Staff (which I do like). If you're really lucky you get a slime staff. Still not bringing home the bacon.

1 - Add Summoner craftables ( Minimum 1 Weapon, perhaps armor ) in power similar to the other classes, except Melee. I've never used any of those swords except the first time I tried them out.
2 - Consider that for a while there will be just one summon so the prehardmode items before the Imp will need to do more damage. OR, you could add earlier items that increase the summon limit.
3 - Your survivalbility is directly related to the dmg your summons do. More dmg less time monsters will be about, And this is at the heart of the problem in prehardmode. The summons don't do much damage at all. You are forced into a hybrid class at this point.

Once you get past the Spider Armor/Tavern Keeper Armor period your options really open up and you can be a summoner. The sentries are great it is just a different mindset in using them. You place them, sometimes often, as opposed to just summoning guys that follow you around. They are some of the best summons for invasions.

So to sum it up Pre-HardMode Summoners need some TLC. Either give them better summons or allow them to have more summons. Most armor abilities is aren't that great in PreHardmode so I won't even get into that.
 

Obogon

Terrarian
Thank you for summing up most of my frustrations as well with summoner. I too have always played summoner as my main and am playing master mode at the moment. I totally understand the conecept of the whip but the playstyle they make you go for does not work with this class. Im currently up to the pumpkin moon whip and have tried consistanly to incorperate them into my play but it always ends up being a hiderance more than anything. I notice cosistantly that they get me killed and even if I get a free hit the damage is often times not even worth it when you could spray from afar with a different weapon. I am totally cool with summoners being a squishy class and have done just fine with it for years. When the whips came up as a concept I thought we would get something that could make the summoner stand out but all I have now is a chest full of whips and dissapointment. This is in no way purely to hate on the devs becuase I beleive this update is awesome! I just wish a little more thought was put into how this would really effect the class as a whole especially one with the lowest defense of the lot. Not to mention the continous problems with ground based summons that still dont even attack with consistancy especially with the faster paced fights. It has been really fun playing through again but there has been a layer of discontent in the backround with the current situtation especially becuase I was so hyped to hear summoners would get the love they deserved. Anyways it is a really great update and tons of fun seeing all the new things they added in but I guess I wish that summoners had a little more going for them.
 

Mille Marteaux

The Destroyer
If Whips are going to have melee weapon modifiers then they should be able to carry the effects of Flasks as well.

Class otherwise is fine. Their damage is still horrifying once they ramp up, and they still come online sooner than casters do.
 

Nicol Bolas

Terrarian
I alluded to it on another thread, but I want to make the point more clear here.

The big problem with summoners is that they can't be summoners without armor, because the other classes all exist at the same time.

Players are in no way restricted from using any item they like. And early game, the class-specific bonuses for most armor either don't exist (ore-armors) or are low enough that they aren't absolutely necessary. 9% crits for ranged is nice and all, but it's a perfectly valid choice to pick the greater defense of Gold Armor, or the speed of Shadow. So there's a lot of cross-classing that happens early on.

This means that every player of any other class, unless they have explicitly decided to restrict themselves, can be a "summoner" just by finding an appropriate weapon. And because summons require no continuous upkeep of any kind, such players can just conjure their 1 (or 2 after a Dungeon dive) summons and do their normal stuff. They get free damage.

This is why early game summons have to be so weak. If every class can get some free damage, then that free damage must not be too powerful. So the summons have to do relatively little damage individually or be inconsistent in dealing that damage or whatever.

So if early-game summons are all weak, the only way to make an early-game summoner decent is to increase the number of summons they have. And this requires armor. With most other classes early game, armor is a nice bonus or a choice between two different options. For summoners, you can't actually be a summoner until you have summoner armor/accessories.

Until you can find a way to make early summons work in such a way that pure-summoner builds can get early-game summon damage reasonably high while also ensuring that the free damage benefits to other players are relatively small, then there's no way to "fix" early-game summoner play. Until you get to significant summoner armor later in the game, it will always be a mage off-shoot or that thing you do to get a few extra hits in.
 

olegoleg123

Terrarian
I alluded to it on another thread, but I want to make the point more clear here.

The big problem with summoners is that they can't be summoners without armor, because the other classes all exist at the same time.

Players are in no way restricted from using any item they like. And early game, the class-specific bonuses for most armor either don't exist (ore-armors) or are low enough that they aren't absolutely necessary. 9% crits for ranged is nice and all, but it's a perfectly valid choice to pick the greater defense of Gold Armor, or the speed of Shadow. So there's a lot of cross-classing that happens early on.

This means that every player of any other class, unless they have explicitly decided to restrict themselves, can be a "summoner" just by finding an appropriate weapon. And because summons require no continuous upkeep of any kind, such players can just conjure their 1 (or 2 after a Dungeon dive) summons and do their normal stuff. They get free damage.

This is why early game summons have to be so weak. If every class can get some free damage, then that free damage must not be too powerful. So the summons have to do relatively little damage individually or be inconsistent in dealing that damage or whatever.

So if early-game summons are all weak, the only way to make an early-game summoner decent is to increase the number of summons they have. And this requires armor. With most other classes early game, armor is a nice bonus or a choice between two different options. For summoners, you can't actually be a summoner until you have summoner armor/accessories.

Until you can find a way to make early summons work in such a way that pure-summoner builds can get early-game summon damage reasonably high while also ensuring that the free damage benefits to other players are relatively small, then there's no way to "fix" early-game summoner play. Until you get to significant summoner armor later in the game, it will always be a mage off-shoot or that thing you do to get a few extra hits in.
I feel like one of the ways to fix this is to have more summons that have the damage output on par with the tier but require 2 or 3 summon slots to use - that way, early on, you pretty much have to have other summoner equipment to use it. Add an armor set with a set bonus of +1 summon slots pre-Queen Bee so that you are actually able to use them in the early game provided you are, of course, wearing the full set - and you should be set. Other classes wouldn't be able to get free damage out of them at least until they either defeat Skeletron or get Summoning potions from Jungle fishing, pure summoners, however, will receive weapons that would allow them to match the DPS of other classes early on.

While we're on that topic, I feel like customizing which summons you occupy your slots with could be given some more depth, that being synergies between different summons as to encourage the players to diversify their squad rather than it conisting of a single kind of summon.
 

BagelBean

Terrarian
I alluded to it on another thread, but I want to make the point more clear here.

The big problem with summoners is that they can't be summoners without armor, because the other classes all exist at the same time.

Players are in no way restricted from using any item they like. And early game, the class-specific bonuses for most armor either don't exist (ore-armors) or are low enough that they aren't absolutely necessary. 9% crits for ranged is nice and all, but it's a perfectly valid choice to pick the greater defense of Gold Armor, or the speed of Shadow. So there's a lot of cross-classing that happens early on.

This means that every player of any other class, unless they have explicitly decided to restrict themselves, can be a "summoner" just by finding an appropriate weapon. And because summons require no continuous upkeep of any kind, such players can just conjure their 1 (or 2 after a Dungeon dive) summons and do their normal stuff. They get free damage.

This is why early game summons have to be so weak. If every class can get some free damage, then that free damage must not be too powerful. So the summons have to do relatively little damage individually or be inconsistent in dealing that damage or whatever.

So if early-game summons are all weak, the only way to make an early-game summoner decent is to increase the number of summons they have. And this requires armor. With most other classes early game, armor is a nice bonus or a choice between two different options. For summoners, you can't actually be a summoner until you have summoner armor/accessories.

Until you can find a way to make early summons work in such a way that pure-summoner builds can get early-game summon damage reasonably high while also ensuring that the free damage benefits to other players are relatively small, then there's no way to "fix" early-game summoner play. Until you get to significant summoner armor later in the game, it will always be a mage off-shoot or that thing you do to get a few extra hits in.
In my opinion, the best way to stop other classes from using summons and give room for summoner to be buffed is to add a debuff to having minions. I think a simple % decrease to all non summon damage that increases depending on how many minions you have out would easily completely nullify any reason to play hybrid. Obviously this doesn't buff summoner on its own but it would make it so they could easily buff summoner without making hybrids stronger. I think it's the most effective way to do it, there are probably way more creative ways to fix the problem but I think this is the best way to make summoner more viable without adding new items (although i would love more items).
 

Nicol Bolas

Terrarian
In my opinion, the best way to stop other classes from using summons and give room for summoner to be buffed is to add a debuff to having minions. I think a simple % decrease to all non summon damage that increases depending on how many minions you have out would easily completely nullify any reason to play hybrid. Obviously this doesn't buff summoner on its own but it would make it so they could easily buff summoner without making hybrids stronger. I think it's the most effective way to do it, there are probably way more creative ways to fix the problem but I think this is the best way to make summoner more viable without adding new items (although i would love more items).
If you could say anything about the design of "classes" in Terraria, it is this: there aren't really classes in Terraria.

If I want to use armor that gives ranged weapon bonuses, and I decide to have a backup melee weapon because my ranged weapon of choice has terrible knockback, Terraria isn't going to punish you for that. The melee weapon will continue to do its normal damage. You don't get bonuses, but you didn't expect to.

If I want to use the Golden Shower to debuf enemies before hitting them with my flail or yo-yo, Terraria is fine with that. And so on.

Terraria encourages cross-class play because it doesn't really have "classes". Oh yes, armors encourage certain weapon classes. But you pretty much never see a flat penalty of the sort you're talking about. That is a very un-Terraria-like solution to a class problem. That is, if you have a balance issue where mono-class play has to be weak because if it weren't, cross-class play would be too strong... maybe that class shouldn't have been a "class" to begin with.

Archers are not really a thing in Terraria, but there are accessories and potions that buff arrow weapons as a specific subset of ranged weapons. That is where summoners started, and that is really where they ought to have stayed. Basically, it's my belief that it was a mistake to try to raise "summoner" to the same status of other classes. It's just not workable within the general milieu of Terraria's class structure.

If the only way to solve a problem is to provide an un-Terraria-like solution, then maybe it's not a problem worth solving.
 

k1110n

Terrarian
Here's a random idea I thought up, how about giving all whips (or most) a shockwave similar to how Terra blade fires out a sword that does melee damage. The catch here is that whips would only be able to produce this shockwave if they miss and the shockwave would only be able to hit a single target before disappearing. You'd probably have to mess around with the numbers to actually make this feel right, but my general thoughts for balance would be to make the shockwave do less damage than the weapon, but scale with minion damage. It would also still apply all whips normal effects (eg. increased attack speed, summon tagging/targeting, increased knockback, etc.) and have a pretty fast travel speed. This might help shore up the summoner's main weakness (which I see as minion targeting and range), while also rewarding them for being able to stick close to an enemy or at least make it feel more rewarding.
 
Top Bottom