The Summoner Meta (so far, Early Hardmode)!

I've been seeing a lot of complaints about the Summoner Class & how weak it feels in Master Mode Worlds, basically complaints about low durability & unreliable minions. I've been experimenting with the Summoner Class in Journey Mode, Master Mode (10x enemies), swapping the difficulty around, just to test certain things whenever I wanted to. Here's what I've gathered so far...

Rules of Thumb, Summoner Class (Master Mode 06/04/2020):
  1. In a full party, the Summoner Class appears to play the Crowd Control role. That being the case, the Summoner should have both a Whip Weapon equipped (for the obvious bonus) & a high-knockback projectile-type weapon (i.e Shotgun, Explosive Bullets etc).
  2. Solo or in a full party, the Summoner Class should be swapping certain Minions in & out depending on the circumstances (oftentimes a mixture of several). Some Minions are superior to others in certain situations. For example, Spider Minions are extremely great against grounded enemies, but struggle against airborne enemies.
  3. To get the full benefit of Summoner Class, players should be using DoT (damage over time) & debuff abilities (i.e. Ichor Darts, Cursed Darts, Weapon Buffing Flasks), alongside their Minions. A Summoner should be dealing out as much DoT/ DPS as possible, while keeping their distance & also closing in when warranted. You'll get the best out of your Minions & Whips abilities this way.
  4. Summoner Class should always have the following potions equipped in Master Mode, Iron Skin, Endurance, Dangersense, Hunter, Night Owl, Swiftness, Heartreach & Recall. Most of these are absolutely essential, expect to die often if you chose to ignore this.
  5. Lastly, the Summoner Class should have a Summoner's loadout, Summoner Emblem included, with a preference for Menacing tinkering & less of the usual Warding. You want to be doing as much damage as possible & have good movement, the potions you have equipped will help greatly with this when being swarmed. If you are surrounded, Warding won't help the Summoner Class nearly as much as the DPS from Menacing tinkering, so try going for more damage & less defense.

That's pretty much all I've got so far. I know it works well, because I was slow to upgrade in Early Hardmode & was doing pretty ok, until the damage wasn't enough to keep enemies at bay. Once enemies started dying faster, there were almost no issues, I was even able to stand up to swarms with the 10x enemies settings with just Spider Armor. Good luck! ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿน

-Toxophilite [East]

Original Source: Steam Forums
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Addendum [06/10/2020]:

In the hands of just about anyone other than summoner, minions are actually way more useful than people seem to acknowledge, especially when I know I have a buff slot I can use to summon several of a specific type of minion. This is why I feel summoner really needs just way more options than just whips and dodging because half the time it feels like you do nothing as summoner since all the summon weapons, the non minion/sentry ones, are so niche it's sometimes not worth even attempting to use against specific bosses/enemies. The class would feel wholly different if it had something to do other than watch it's minions slowly kill someone's motivation to play the class (unless someone enjoys grindy hard challenges). This is also why I play this "melee summoner" class to basically use whips and summons as my "yo-yo" and still play a more close range melee tank with broadswords (or starlight/scourge) as my other primary weapon.
This is the issue I mostly have with ppl who critique the Summoner Class. There's no rule that says you have to use the Whip Weapons in every situation; there's also no rule that says you can't kit yourself out to mitigate the obvious flaws of being the Summoner Class, there's just too many defensive & evasive options that are Class neutral to justify this way of thinking, which is why I'm stil so confused by it. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿน

Do you suddenly stop being a Summoner by equipping Master Ninja Gear, Frozen Shell or a Star Veil? No, of course not! Do you stop being a Summoner by equipping a bow, arrows or other types of Debuffs that'll help your Minions be more effective with DPS? No, of course not! Unless Minions were purposely changed in 1.4.0.5 to be less intelligent than they were in 1.3.5, these critiques aren't legitimate, because the general consensus back then, was that Summoner just needed a better progression path, period. Not sure how that's suddenly changed in 1.4.0.5, unless again, Minions were tampered with to promote Whips or something (which, if that's the case, I'm completely behind you guys).

In the end, I don't think anyone can get away with not comparing summoner to other classes as there's no way to easily judge a class within its own scope. It's a whole lot easier to compare and contrast where and how summons are used and find a way to bring that feel or gameplay pattern to summoner than to assume that "more items" or "buffs" is the only way to make summoner better. I care way more about how the class feels than how it works on paper. Stats are stats, a playthrough is an experience.
Every Class in Terraria benefits in some way or another by being a Hybrid, that's been true since like... forever ago. Which Class benefits the most & from what remains to be seen, as the Meta for each Class should be slightly different due to the changes in almost everything. I can't trust the words of anyone declaring things so early in the games updated life, especially when most of their complaints that I've addressed so far, typically have to do with lack of certain knowledge, which is understandable, but it happens so often that I'm left wondering if it's the actual game that's flawed, or am I listening to a person with a bruised ego? It's getting really hard to tell at this point...
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Addendum [06/11/2020]:

The Queen Bee drops materials that get crafted...The Imp Staff is crafted. The Spider Staff is crafted, along with the every summon armor except the Tiki Armor...your evidence of the Summoner being a "stumble upon class" is lacking. It would be more accurate to say that the pre-Queen Bee minions are previews, little bonuses that you can accidentally find before introducing the class properly.
It's something I've considered, but it'd be disingenuous to give biased information as opposed to what's actually presented. What you're describing is something akin to the DD2 Summoner Class, that's unlocked by completing Events & normal game progression. There's no RNG involved, unlike Early Game Summoner Class.

Obvious Examples:
  • Variegated Lardfish
  • Finch Staff
  • Vampire Frog Staff
  • ???
  • Spooky Armor
  • Raven Staff??
  • Deadly Sphere Staff

So, why does the Summoner get its own damage type? Why does it get its own emblem? Why does it get it's own Pillar during the Lunar Events?
Likely because it's not a Mini-Class, but a stumble upon that can actually be completed, again, just like other games. Being introduced to the Class later in the game doesn't make it just one or the other, it can be both (I play a lot of sandbox & open-world games so, it's not a new concept to me).

Some Mini-Classes (in game):
  • Lancer/ Mounted Lance
  • Paladin
  • Throwing
  • Fisherman
  • ???

None of those things make sense in a world where the Summoner wasn't like the other 3 classes. And that's what the Summoner was like pre-1.2.4. That's what "throwing" weapons were like pre-1.4 (when they were folded into Ranged).
I'm not sure what you mean, as each new update was worked to refine already-existing content. Thrower Class was likely discontinued because it was redundant & didn't add anything interesting to the game. Summoner was fleshed out & feels much more complete, this goes for other Classes I've also dabbled in (namely Mage). If that kind of Class is a new concept to you, I can understand the confusion, but either description is fine. The difference between the two is splitting hairs at best. I'm totally cool with "later game Class", makes no difference to me. ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿน LoL
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Addendum [06/11/2020]:

I think I should add just one more list of helpful tools/ tips that Summoners can use, they're arguably Class Neutral, every Class can benefit from 'em, but Summoners' unique play-style promotes & encourages it (i.e. good movement, scatter DMG over accuracy). ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿน
  • Crimson Rod
  • Spiky Ball(s) & Ranger Emblem (optional)
  • Bee Gun (scatter DMG)*
  • Shotgun/ Onyx Blaster* + Explosive Bullets [Venom Rounds/ Nano Bullets] & Ranger Emblem (Scatter DMG)
  • Clinger Staff (insane knock-back)
  • Nimbus Rod
  • Poison Staff/ Venom Staff (DoT)
  • Cursed Darts/ Ichor Darts* (+ any Blowgun or Dart gun & Ranger Emblem)
(*) Represents items that are better for Hybrid setups, but will likely be frowned upon by purists.
 
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Rules of Thumb, Summoner Class (Master Mode 06/05/2020):

I like creating miniclasses.I love the summoner's concept but i needs more things in Pre-Hardmode

Summoner has access to Spider Armor, Spider Minions (Fire Imp Minions), Queen Spider Sentry, DD2 Sentries, Summoner Emblem, Bewitching Table buff, etc. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿน

some More PRE hardmode weapons the summoner minion weapons in pre hardmode are 5 3 needing luck Finch staff Slime staff Vampire frog

Ah, I see... I misread this as Early-Hardmode. In Pre-Hardmode, I really feel like no class has any direct focus, but... there are some things I do know work well.

Bee Queen stuff is pretty great, Beenades are good, Hive Pack is good, BeesKnees Bow is amazing, maybe grab a Star Cannon.
With the Bee Queen stuff, armor & buffs, DD2 up to wave five is possible. That'll net you an Early-Game Sentry Summon.
Stinger Necklace (new item) is pretty good, of course, Vampire Frog is pretty good, Spiky Balls also help a lot.
I don't know, Summoner feels a LOT better in 1.4 to me. The five-plus Minion Weapons in Pre-Hardmode I know about are ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿน:

Slime Staff
Finch Staff
Vampire Frog
Hornet Staff
Ballista (level 1)
Flameburst (level 1)
Lightning Aura (level 1)
Explosive Trap (level 1)
Imp Staff

With the addition of whips, it might be time to buff the defense on summoner armor to reflect that they're a mid-range class now. Maybe boost it to slightly higher than the ranger, but not quite as tanky as melee.
I don't agree with this, only because many accessories, old & new, have much better upgrading paths in 1.4.0.5. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿน In Master Mode, you get an extra accessory slot to play around with, for free, Summoner tends to be "buff neutral" most times, the only things I feel effect it directly are Summoner based items that buff Minion DPS or the number of Minions you can summon.

Adding a few accessories to help them out might be good, too. Maybe one that grants a chance to negate a hit taken, but despawns one of your minions in return.

Though the answer is probably meant to be "you're not supposed to go pure summoner; you're meant to use other weapons too." Even if other classes can go pure just fine.
We already have items like this, Brain of Confusion (so I've heard), Frozen shell, Cross Necklace, Star Veil, Worm Scarf, Master Ninja Gear (Black belt). There's nothing a Summoner would sacrifice equipping any or even all of these items. In fact, you could trade one slot & make up for it with Summoner Potions & other damage buffs. There's too much to work with to justify adding more specialized equipment. Heck, you can even equip a Repeater & carry Archery Potions if you wanna do a bit of Hybrid play.

I don't get this new wave... it's so confusing.
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Addendum [06/11/2020]:

There is no "early game summoner class". There are merely a few summon staff drops that you're unlikely to find. One weapon does not a class make...Not in Terraria.
I mean, I don't agree or disagree. That's pretty much true for every Class then, until you start gearing up? For the sake of argument though, what happens if you get access to a Finch Staff, Slime Staff & Summoner Potions first, before really touching anything else. At that point you'll have access to two Minions. It's like splitting hairs, which is why I don't think it's worth arguing one way or another. Your opinion is valid & I don't necessarily disagree so... ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿน

In any case, my point is that there's no RNG involved in getting summoner gear from the Queen Bee. Therefore, any player that's doing basic exploration will get access to summoner gear. And therefore, finding out about summoners is not something players "stumble upon"; it's part of the game's progression.
Now this I can't agree with. Queen Bee isn't essential to progression & can easily be skipped or missed. She's definitely stumble upon content.

In Terraria, "classes" are defined by your armor. Specifically, armor that couples with the weapon type, giving bonuses to particular weapon types over others. You could make the argument that fishing "armor" counts as a class. But none of the other things are "classes" as far as Terraria is concerned (throwing used to have an armor set).
Cenx/ Leinfors called it a Class (Throwing Class), take it up with Re-Logic, not me, I just play this game. ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿน LoL

My point is that the Summoner is just as much of a class as melee, ranged, or magic at this point. This is clearly the intention of the developers, and the idea with the game is not that you will just "stumble upon" summoner, that it's some option you randomly find occasionally. It's a fully-fledged option within the game.
If you say so... the evidence strongly disagrees with this though...

Maybe that's not what you mean by "stumble upon class." The name of the term carries with it the direct implication that you could bypass it, that you could play the game without "stumbling upon" it, that it's something ultimately peripheral to the core experience of Terraria...If that's not what you mean, perhaps you could explain what this concept is.
Nope, you got it right the first time. Summoner Class can be totally missed/ skipped. Unless you discover Queen Bee, or maybe some other mid-to late-game content I haven't discovered yet, Summoner can be completely skipped.
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Addendum: 06/21/2020 [original post]

Just to quiet the possible secret grumblings, I wanna give most of you a shining example of what I mean when I say Summoner doesn't need any more stuff. Most of the things I've seen players suggesting to be changed either, already exist in-game or will destroy the Class, it's balance & it's current uniqueness entirely.

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a Summoner Armor Set + Minions that heal the player every time the Minions attack?
That's already possible with the proper set-up, especially in a Crimson World. All you'd need to do is equip Heartreach Potions, focus on high Minion DPS & find an Ichor-based Weapon you like most to soften enemies up. Once you get access to Vampire Knives, you can simply buff the Weapon with Ichor Flasks (now imagine that healing-type Armor existing, plus this set-up. Do you really feel like this would be good for the health of the game?).

Well, how about a Summoner Armor Set or Minions that act as a shield, to protect the player's Character from damage?
So you want a newer version of the old Titanium Armor, just after the Developers got done fixing the old issue, with it being too good for it's placement in natural progression, really? Not only that, you wanna stack this ability on top of Star Veil, Cross Necklace, Frozen Shell, Brain of Confusion & Master Ninja Gear? Hard pass!

Summoner would just be better if it had more early-game upgrading paths & craftable Minion Staffs!
No, no it wouldn't. The difference in raw power in early-game is too small to keep Summer Class items from being an essential no-brainer. No matter what Class you start with, why wouldn't you craft a Summoning Staff? In fact, if you manage to get hold of a Finch Staff or Slime Staff, what Class isn't going to use the Minions? At a certain point, there needs to be a clear divide between natural progression & build intention. If you wanna be a Summoner, you have to intentionally invest in the Class. The more you do this, the larger the gap between a Summoner & a person who happens to have Minions will become. Why would anyone vote against good design like this? ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿน

I don't like how Summoner Class gets left behind once the World gets flooded with ores like, Adamantite, Titanium & Cholorphite! The Class needs more craftable Minions in Hardmode!
This is shortsightedness; not only can a Summoner Craft Forbidden Armor once you get access to these ores, there's nothing to stop you from using any of the Adamantite or Titanium Weaponry. In-fact, you could even afford to invest in a lil' Hardmode Magic Weapons with this Armor Set! As far as Cholorphite is concerned, you'll likely benefit the most form this ore being accessible, so far as Weaponry is concerned... because, if you can mine Cholorphite, that also means you have access to DD2 Summoner Sentries (Tier 2), in addition to all the DD2 (Tier 2) Armor Sets, who all get Weapon bonuses from other Classes! Even if you just like the Sentries & aren't interested in the Armor Sets, you can Summon up to two Sentries with the DD2 Sentry Accessories.
  • Monk's Belt
  • Squire's Shield
  • Huntress Buckler
  • Apprentice's Scarf
I don't like the fact that there's so much grinding & RNG involved with the Summoner's upgrading path! That's not fair compared to other Classes!
There isn't really. This is just a simple case of players Meta-gaming without any real context. For example, did you know that the items from Queen Bee alone can carry Summoner Class all the way into Early-Hardmode? In fact, if you're gonna Meta-game, shouldn't you have found a Spider Cave in advance to farm before even killing The Wall of Flesh? Well, just as soon as Hardmode begins, you already have your new upgrade, not only in Armor, but Minions & a new Sentry! You don't even have to go diging at this point either. Once you have the Spider Set, you can fish, in peace until you get enough Hardmode ores to begin crafting the Forbidden Armor. This isn't a flaw in the game, this is your own stubbornness weighing you down.

Summoner Class feels weak, the Minions are dumb, don't do enough damage & the Class feels like it's made outta paper! Summoner needs an Armor buff.
You're saying that a Class, that can have up to five-six (5-6) Minions, doing all the work for them, before ever fighting your first Mechanical Boss, is weak? This sounds like some serious deflecting & you should probably pick a different Class. There's waaay too many powerful Weapons, Potions, Accessories & Passive Buffs to justify making Summoner Class any more broken. You don't know what you're doing & if you need help with Summoner Class, I have a somewhat guide here... a proper guide is coming soon, but I'm assuming you're the impatient type so, there you go. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿน

Summoner Class should be able to stand on it's own two feet, using only Summoner Weapons, Summoner tools & Summoner equipment! I don't like the fact that the Class has to rely on using other Class Weapons & tools just to beat the game, other Classes can do it just fine without it!
I mean, it's possible. I've seen players do Summoner Purist runs in Terraria before any of the newer stuff was ever added. What you're probably trying to say is "beating the game as a Summoner Purist is beyond my current skill level & I don't like that". Well yeah, which is why you should practice if you're going to do a challenge run. Terraria's natural progression balance isn't catered to or designed around challenge runs, most games aren't. A challenge run applies player instituted rules, regulations & limitations, if you're having trouble beating Terraria as a Summoner Purist, to the point you're not having fun anymore... well, stop trying to do a challenge run maybe? ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿน
 
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Rules of Thumb, Summoner Class (Master Mode 06/08/2020):

Souper Chicken;2292842508243377226 said:
Yeah I'm gonna start a summon Master playthrough now. Sadly I deleted my other one because I was salty lmao
If you're having issues in Early Hardmode with survivability, I recommend the following stuff:

1.) Fish for Crates as early as possible. Mostly for Danger Sense, Iron Skin & Hunter Potions. Night Owl, Spelunker & Shine are good for Exploring.

2.) Use weapons that allow you to focus on Movement & less on accuracy. Anything that has DoT, AoE or Splatter DMG will be good (i.e. Beenades).

3.) Before your first Mech Boss, farm for Frozen Shell, Worm Scarf (Brain of Confusion) & Star Veil/ Cross Necklace. Change most of your accessories to Menacing, because Warding won't help Summoner much, but DPS will!

Good luck! ๐Ÿ˜†

Source: Steam Forums
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Addendum [06/10/2020]: Original Post

I am a returning Terraria player who hasn't played since they added Wall of Flesh. Summons are a very new thing to me plus how flails got reworked (I like it), but I've always been a summoner nut from other games so naturally I was drawn to the playstyle here.
Hello & welcome back! I fully get your love for legacy classes, I play my games almost the same exact way, so I'm very glad you posted this. This has to be one of the most reasonable suggestions I've seen yet, let's discuss!

Whips are great on paper...Whips either need a much greater range or summoner armor must be made more resilient so you're not heavily punished for trying to smack something.
I can't be sure if this is intentional design by the developers or an oversight, but I've come to realize that there are too many micro-effects & macro-results between items of arguable effectiveness to be a mistake. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿน Why are knock-back & DPS always competing between upgrades (or at least contrasting one another?), why are accuracy & scatter DMG always opposing as well, they're not just there for the sake of being there, right? So why?

This is how I approach nearly all of my games, especially the open-world & sandbox ones, so I'm always asking these kinds of questions & testing things out myself. If knock-back is MOSTLY used to keep enemies away, who benefits most from having knock-back? IMHO, a Ranger will typically have good movement, regardless of the build-type, so knock-back is a great concept, but... accuracy is probably more useful than knocking enemies around in unpredictable pathways. So again, who benefits from it most? Yes, most of the unique guns in the game tend to have great knock-back, to include some of the larger melee weapons, but what builds will really be using them like that?

Summoner, for the most part seems to have the least, to no Knock-back in the entire game. In addition, if we're looking at it from a purely Meta perspective, Summoner would benefit from having knock-back the most, right? Well, if that's the case, whats in the way to stop us, the players, from using a rather unused feature by most other Classes? As a person playing as a Summoner myself on Master Mode difficulty, Whips seem interchangeable. I can either melt enemies away slowly or rapidly, especially if I have their pattern down. The Whip IMHO, simply seems to be an eraser for advanced players. The only downside I can see from using Whips is that perhaps there could've been a tool-tip to express this fact, so players wouldn't feel boxed into trying to make the Whip work in instances it simply does not. However, however...

My other problem with summoner in 1.4 is the lack of availability...That leaves you with the Hornet Staff which you can get by killing the Queen Bee enough times or crafting the Imp Staff, either of which already near the end of pre-hardmode. Most of the time in this state, you're either stuck with a Baby Finch or no minion at all.
...this is where our perspectives start to diverge. It doesn't make sense to me, to analyse Summoner from a Meta perspective (listing off all the Summoner's items, where to get them, numbers, stats & comparisons), but fail to look at the game through the very same lens, why do that? If a player is informed on this level, why the failings in other basic areas that contribute to that information? Did you discover the Vampire Frog Staff on your own, or from a YouTube video? How do you know about the Finch Staff, did someone spoil it for you or did you play on Journey Mode first? I'm asking you these questions, only because most of your information seems microwaved.

That's one of the many pitfalls of spoiler culture & microwaved information, especially from some YouTuber... you rarely get to form your own experience, which robs you from forming your own unique opinions. I say this because I know for almost a fact, that Summoner is a stumble upon Class in Terraria. How can I prove it? Well, from what you-yourself just said & from my own, spoiler-free experience. You rarely get to craft anything Summoner-based, you either find it, get lucky or love it enough to invest in making it better, no matter how difficult. There's no room for complaining if that's true, because now I have to question why it is you'd think Summoner was anything like the big three, in any way at all (Melee, Ranger, Magic)?

If Summoner is indeed a stumble upon Class, no different than other games by-the-way, complaining about it's upgrade path is unwarranted, because you either a.) shouldn't know about it yet, b.) have invested into it enough by this point to know being a purist isn't required, or expected of you, c.) have already moved on because you naturally fell into a more comfortable playstyle, or d.) have played on Journey Mode to bypass the other luck-based factors, which is super Meta. None of these things occurred to you, which leads me to believe you skipped steps; someone spoon fed you this information or you were negatively impacted by spoiler culture.

When you reach hardmode:
- The earliest summoner stuff you can acquire is by farming Black Recluses which are in rare and tiny mini-biomes so you better hope you found it prior to reaching hardmode.
...- Terraprisma requires you not only kill a boss that is exceptionally powerful, but while she's enraged and can 1shot you. If you're not a skilled player, this weapon is impossible to acquire.

The only hardmode summoner weapons you can reliably get is the Spider Staff, Optic Staff (took me ages to actually get strong enough to fight the mechanical bosses on expert mode as a summoner), Pygmy Staff...
With everything you've just detailed, as true as it may be, if we both have to accept that Summoner is a stumble upon Class in Terraria, what now? All you would've done is analyse the progression path of an optional Class in this game through a warped, dirty lens. With this kind of narrative, we've turned a possibly intended mechanic, into a flaw by the Developers. What if Summoners progression path is supposed to be awkward, you may not like it, I may not like it, but to be fair, we shouldn't even know about it if it didn't initially interest us in the first place, should it? On the other hand, if it did, we should know about all the steps needed to get what it is we want on our own terms. How do I know you & others didn't do this part? Because you're listing stats & progression paths without any clear steps on how to get them organically, which means many of you probably shot through the game, darting for items you already knew about, before you even knew what it would take to get them; I can tell you that, only because I actually did it, naturally.

I have no idea what a Terraprisma is, I'm still developing the Meta for my current Summoner. How is it that I'm arguing against most of your opinions, but am still the only one who seems to still be in the gym? How am I schooling players about options they don't seem to know about, who've already, somehow beaten the game? Did you skip the entire first half or something? Why aren't you still developing your strategies, right this second? Summoner seems extremely powerful IMHO, but I know for a fact I have a LOT more exploring to do before I even try fighting a real Boss. I don't wanna seem accusational, but all the evidence is pointing toward the fact that you & others rushed, or had your information about Summoner spoon fed to you. If that's the case, I'm sorry that happened to you, you're truly missing out. ๐Ÿ˜“๐Ÿน

Who's really at an advantage here?

According to a youtube video I saw comparing DPS...
This is likely your biggest culprit. unless you've tested this information for yourself, don't go trusting what some YouTuber said, jsut because they toss some numbers & pretty graphics your way. They are human beings & subject to error, just like you & I. Did they list all of the things you're NOT doing while doing this showcase? What did their load-out consist of? Were they using any Emblems; if so how many? Were they using Potions; what kind of potions? Were you swapping Minions, using DoT, raw DPS, any Debuffs? All of this stuff matters & if you or that person didn't cover this information, it's an incomplete test, which is why labing is SUPER imperative!

In most cases, I had to not play summoner at all in order to progress the game...Even now I'm struggling to complete a couple of the Celestial Pillars primarily as a summoner (don't get me STARTED on the solar one) because the mobs just hit so hard against my flimsy tiki armor.
If you're having a rough time, I'm sorry to hear that, but it's something that can & will happen if your information is microwaved & not organic. What's your current load-out? Have you tried swapping accessories around, have you tried dumping everything into DPS while ignoring defense? Have you tried other Summoner Armors? Do you know the strengths & weaknesses that lead you to choose Tiki over any others?
  1. What have you done to address your Classes fragility?
  2. Are you using any items with high stun or knock-back?
  3. Are you stacking Dot on top of your other passive DPS?
  4. Are you going for accuracy of scatter DMG?
  5. Have you tried seeing if certain Minions perform better than others during this event?
If you haven't done a good portion of these things, can you really critique the Class fairly? Better yet, is it fair to be giving the Developers tips on how to fix it, when it's totally plausible that it's not broken?

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TL;DR:

My suggestions to make summoning more fun is the following:
1. Add more craftable options using metals and/or gems for both normal and hardmode.
2. Buff summoner weapons that can only be obtained from kills or finding in chests to make them worth finding and compete with crafted alternatives.
3. Increase the drop rate of some of the summoner weapons, especially the ones that drop from Blood Moon mobs/bosses.
4. Either nerf Dreadnautilus or buff Sanguine Staff
5a. Make summoner armors more durable to justify using whips in close range. Second most durable armor below melee would be ideal, but I'd settle on ranger-level of defense.
5b. Make minions actually minions and not just passive damage dealers. Allow them to intercept enemy attacks and block projectiles, allow them to take damage and give enemies the ability to aggro onto them. I played Diablo 2 and Path of Exile, I know what to expect, and it would justify your weak armor.
6. Make whips "poke" rather than sweep in order to more accurately tag enemies you want focused down.
7. Give whips more range if nothing is done about suggestion 5a/b.
8. At the very least, buff all minions across the board so they can actually kill bosses without your help. It's hard to call yourself a summoner when you're the one putting out more damage than your minions are most of the time.
Not too long & a very good read, I enjoyed reviewing your criticism! ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿน However, as a person who disagrees with your opinions, I have to do the obvious counterpoints.
  1. If Summoner is a stumble upon Class in Terraria, then no, it shouldn't have these items. If you want a Summoner starting weapon, Journey Mode exists. This entire first section is invalidated by something fundamental, which is already a bad start.
  2. I can't argue this point, if you feel Summoner is under-powered, that's a valid criticism, even if I disagree.
  3. Why though? If Summoner is a stumble upon Class, as we covered earlier, the drop rate is working as intended IMHO.
  4. Haven't fought this Boss or used this item, so I can't comment on this.
  5. I don't agree with this, Summoner is one of the only Classes with passive damage at all times. This being the case, Summoner is the only Class in the game that can set up traps, builds, structures or devices without sacrificing it's main source of damage & doesn't lose out on focusing on scatter DMG over accuracy, typically because they don't have to specialize in any specific weapon (which also means that Weapon DPS is negligible in the face of versatility or reliability).
  6. I don't agree with this, wild, sweeping DMG is the Summoner Classes' bread & butter, it fits the theme exactly as I described it to you. Whips are exactly as they should be IMHO (functionality over accuracy, non-committal over being purist).
  7. I guess? It's not like Whips are extremely broken or anything. I don't think a slight buff would hurt anything, but I do know that "Large" is Tinkering option with Melee-base/ melee-like weaponry, so that's already in the game if it happens to work for Whips too.
  8. This I'm totally against. Your Minions can already, pretty much kill most things without you lifting a finger. In fact, you can farm Enemy Banners by standing in one spot most times & doing nothing. For that to translate over to Bosses is a bit extreme IMHO. I don't want any Class in this game that would allow you to turn your brain off like that, it'd be toxic for the entire game in the long run... not thanks! โŒโŒโŒ
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Pizzarugi, I don't wanna go back & forth about things that won't be helpful to you (I totally misunderstood your position). So, I'll stop doing the whole point for point style & focus on addressing your concerns. Here's a list of things that may help you, as DPS can always be modified & adjusted to your liking with a certain amount of creativity.

A.) If you haven't taken any of the DD2 Summoner Classes for a spin (they're extremely powerful btw), I suggest you give it a try & see how you feel about it. You'll still technically be a Summoner, but you'll likely have the defense & specialized Weapon Class you're looking for. I strongly suggest the Apprentice & Dark Artist set-ups, since you prefer ranged combat.

B.) The learning curve might be too high for standard Summoner, seeing as how you were brought into the game with a veteran player & left to fend for yourself, you might have a warped perception of progression (vets tend to do a lot of skips in Terraria) Again, try out the DD2 Summoner Classes to get a basic understanding of how it's supposed to be played, without the steep punishment for making mistakes; Summoner is pretty diverse.
  • Monk Summoner
  • Huntress Summoner
  • Apprentice Summoner
  • Squire Summoner
C.) Get Practice fighting against the Old One's Army. It's good experience & also your natural progression path, it's pay-to-win, you don't have to worry about killing a Boss really. Slamming your face into the event is enough to net you the items you'll need. Don't take my word for it though, try it yourself & give us feedback on your progress if you're feeling up to it... ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿน

Addendum: 06-17-2020

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[source]
 
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New Information: 06/14/2020 Original Post

First off, the whips are essentially a melee weapon with little range.. on the squishiest class in the game...Second problem is that the whip sweeps from up to down, which means that whatever specific target you want dead will NOT be tagged...Why do they just reuse melee weapon prefixes which give them critical chance bonuses.. for a weapon class that literally cannot deal critical hits.

As for proposed solutions...let you tag the enemies you truly want dead. Of course, all of this said, the minions still like to disregard the enemies you tag, which is more of a problem with the minion AI, but I digress.

Edit: I realised another thing about whips that makes their current state even more inexcusable, ties into the self defense part. I was doing the old one's army tier 2, with the ogres. I wanted the minions to focus on the ogre while I would go about killing other enemies.. except the whip tags those enemies that I'd try to kill, meaning they'd lose interest in the ogre. This means that the one thing that the summoner is usually able to do, which is prioritizing multiple targets at once, impossible to do with the whip in the equation.

As I said earlier, I'm not here to debate, but I did find something rather interesting, Summoner related. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿน
  • I've been labing the Whips against Biome Mimics (both Underground & Overworld), they were one of the Early-Hardmode enemies that give me the most trouble, in most cases if I ever saw one, I'd just teleport away. Summoner seems to be one of the Classes that nullifies the buff this enemy has to hide inside/ behind walls. It's not an easy fight, but it certainly feels much more fair & doable. So far, I've been able to reliably farm them using the Cool Whip.
  • I'm not sure how most of you all feel about Firecracker, but I was super hesitant to give it up due to the explosive damage it did to certain enemies. I did try using it against Biome Mimics first, before moving on, but it seemed as if I was better off using ranged combat before the obvious upgrade. It wasn't bad per se, but the DoT DMG from Cursed Darts was clearly superior at the time (Blowgun).
  • Lastly I upgraded to Dart Rifle (Cursed Darts) & Cool Whip, I plan on using this set-up against my first Pirate Invasion, Goblin Plus Invasion & after farming for the Pirate Staff maybe, my first ever Mech Boss.
I'll be back to do either two things... agree with you all wholeheartedly about Whips being bad or reporting my findings in a positive light. Wish me luck! ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿน

Edit: Currently using Spider Armor, with a mixture of Spider & Imp Minions (3 Spiders, 2 Imps).
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Okay, so... I've got quite a bit to cover, as I see where the confusion lies now & why most of you don't like the Whip Weapons. ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿน

I did two types of invasions, NG+ Goblins & Pirates (Master Mode), both were drastically different & it could be argued Goblins is slightly more difficult?
After farming both events several times, here's what I've gathered about the Whip Weapons & their usefulness:
  • In the Goblin Invasion, the Whip was practically useless. There was only one rare occasion it was powerful, but the window was so small, it was better just to use ranged combat as to not get yourself unnecessarily injured or possibly killed, by things snowballing out-of-control. The one rare instance, where you can practically delete the Goblin Summoner, is when he's stunned from consecutive DMG, if you can manage to react, you can kill him in seconds with a Cool Whip. I'd argue, unless you're tying to get as many Goblin Summoners to spawn in one Event as possible, you're better off just playing it safe, winning & coming back later with better gear (but then again, I didn't really see anything useful for Summoners so...).
  • The Pirate Invasion is the Event where the Whip Weapon shined the most! I didn't think this would be Meta, but it appears the biggest strength of the Whips is to use them on enemy types that have the ability to either pass through walls, or are Boss-Types who may, or may not have that ability. The three enemies the Cool Whip worked best on are the Parrot, The Captain's Ghost (after he dies) & The Flying Dutchman. Those three enemies basically get erased by Whips! I'm going to keep doing more testing, but it seems pretty clear that Whips are Specialty Weapons used for very specific circumstances.
The Whips' strengths are very particular, but very consistent it seems. The best way I can describe it is, Imagine if there was a video game mechanic where, once an enemy was stunned, you had a brief moment to deplete its health with a special ability (sort of like a riposte, if you've ever played a Dark Souls game).

Whip Weapon's Strengths:
  1. Hits certain kinds of enemies through walls (i.e. Angry Trapper, Biome Mimic, Flying Dutchman, Captains Ghost, etc.).
  2. Seems to build on some kind of snowballing damage mechanic, where, the more consecutive hits you land, the more DPS you get.
  3. Can practically erase powerful enemies that are either stunned, not moving, or trapped behind obstacles.
Whip Weapon's Weaknesses:
  1. Fast-moving or teleporting enemies are it's biggest hindrance; though it can kill them pretty fast, it's not worth the risk of getting close (especially if the enemy shoots projectiles).
  2. The whips in Early-Hardmode don't seem to give the player very much knock-back, meaning, enemies can easily steamroll the player if they aren't using any kind of item that provides knock-back assistance (i.e. Clinger Staff, Minions with high knock-back).
  3. The Cool Whip Summoner weapon has poor range, however, the amount of damage a Summoner can do might be a bit broken if the weapon had more. It appears to ride a very delicate line of being extremely bad or extremely good. I suspect that a person who masters Whips will be able to speed-run pretty reliably, but it's certainly not a weapon that just anyone can pick up & use effectively.
Alright, that's about all I got for now... ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿน
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Addendum [06/14/2020]:

Example One of the weird snowballing DMG mechanic using the Cool Whip: approx 486 DPS.

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Example Two of the weird snowballing DMG mechanic using the Cool Whip: approx 1,117 DPS!!

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Addendum 06/19/2020

I think the problem is that unlike other classes they don't get accessories which really combo...at the temporary cost of a minion the chance of which would be based off the number of summons you have.
Summoner is already obnoxiously powerful & doesn't need any more buffs. Take a look at this nonsense --> If combined with the Necromantic Scroll, Hercules Beetle, Summoner Emblem and Papyrus Scarab, the resulting minions will get a total of 113% increased damage. [Source]

Another aspect which might help differentiate more dedicated summoning from other class with a minion or two tacked on is scaling summon damage based off the number of summon slots...3 summon slots while weaker summons like Slime, Finch, Vampire Frog etc. would be best set to be for default 1 minion so as to in effect buff them.
No, this is the reason Whips were added to the game. Pre-Hardmode, Summoner now has access to Summoner Potions, Bewitching Tables, 3 Summoning Staffs, one dedicated Armor Set & 2-3 Whips. I'd argue that this class is the most spoiled of them all, especially when it comes to game-play options.
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I don't think anybody is saying that summoners don't work at all in the mid-game. The primary issue has been about early game, where basically none of that is available.
Everyone can pretty much agree that no class is clearly defined in Early-Game. Some live by the idea that you're not truly Class A or B until you get the Armor. Some say there's no real Classes until you get the Emblem. If that's the case, Queen Bee is arguably Post-EoW/ BoC content, dealing with either her or Skeletron afterward is a toss-up IMHO. Which makes sense because a.) defeating Skelly Boy might just net you a free Bewitching Table, or b.) Queen Bee will net you-your first official Armor Set. I see no reason to try to conform to being a Summoner Purist when you get free passive DMG + whatever else you wanna equip. Which means, Summoner will benefit from Archery Potions, Wrath Potions, or anything else you wanna stack on top of that free DMG.

"The most spoiled"? Every other class has dozens of pre-Hardmode weapons, and most of them are far easier to find...Every other class has at least two pre-Hardmode dedicated armor sets...So I fail to see how "spoiled" Summoners are.
You can't beat free, passive DMG + anything else you want. I mean, you can literally find your first Minion laying around in a Tree somewhere. On top of that, you can easily start fishing & plucking herbs (or finding them in Overworld Chests) to craft Summoning potions, netting you two Minions; quality over quantity.
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Addendum 06/21/2020

If you're doing most of your damage with ranged weapons, you are not "being a Summoner"; you are "being a Ranger". There is a distinction between a character who deals summon damage that occasionally gets some damage in with ranged weapons, and a character who deals ranged damage that occasionally gets some damage in with summons. The absolute best you might say is that you're multiclassing, but you aren't using summons as your primary means of dealing damage. So you are not "being a Summoner".
What you described sounds like a spectrum & is extremely open to interpretation. I could easily argue that there are varying degrees of being a Summoner & my point of view would be just as valid as yours. It's good design because everybody wins, there is no right or wrong way to be a Summoner, you can dump everything you have into buffing your Minions, or you can make a minor, to substantial investment. I don't want that to change, because that's what a Sandbox Game should be. Summoner Armor doesn't make me any more of a Summoner than an Emblem IMHO, or a Scroll, or a Beetle, or a Potion, Bewitching Table or whether or not an annoying enemy drops exactly the item I want.

You say that things are this way by the desires of the developer. I'm saying that things are this way because of inherent limitations of the system, based on the fact that early summons cost nothing and therefore can improve any build and therefore must be terrible/difficult to get to avoid imbalancing the game and therefore must not be viable in and of itself.
I won't argue that this might be one of the main factors for a LOT of their design choices, but I'm familiar enough with the game to know that changing these things with the suggestions I've seen from the average player would absolutely ruin the game, in balancing, in charm, character, uniqueness, different upgrading paths & much more. The Class is functional & powerful enough already, it doesn't need more stuff; that'll likely cause unforeseen issues in a Final Update. Once they're done, they're done. Do we really wanna start playing with fire with something so inconsequential that can be fixed by the player themselves, if they wanna be a Summoner purist so badly, or by simply playing Journey Mode? I vote no, h*ll no; it's not worth it!

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Final Update: 06/17/2020

So, this will likely be my final update to this thread for five (5) reasons, as I've been paying pretty close attention to the common issues, complaints & misconceptions about the Summoner Class, that this update, in addition to everything else included should finalize this... guide, I guess? Here are the reasons why:
  1. From what I recall, it was Early-Hardmode (Master Mode) that gave players the most trouble, I'm assuming once all the Mech Bosses are defeated, Summoner becomes overwhelmingly powerful.
  2. It's safe to assume that everyone reading this knows by this time, they should have access to Blade Staff, Pirate Staff, Spider Staff & Imp Staff. After the Twins are defeated, it's pretty much safe to get rid of Pirate Staff, Spider Staff & Imp Staff, as Twin Staff & Blade Staff are direct upgrades in every way.
  3. I could see the Mech Bosses being a brick wall for most, but I'm certain most of you know about The Black Spot by now, you'll eventually win, just be sure to have your best Summons equipped, all Blade Staff minions is just fine for these fights.
  4. Blood Nautilus appears to be post Mech boss content, as I found the Twins MUCH easier to deal with than it. If you're trying to fight this Boss before defeating the Mech Bosses, that's likely the source of your problem. I hear that the Summoning Staff this Boss drops is comparable to Blade Staff, which makes sense. I assume that this Staff is a way to adjust your play-style before facing Plantera & other post Mech Boss content.
  5. Durendal is NOT a direct upgrade to Cool Whip, but an alternative way to play Summoner. If range & crowd control is your jam, stick to using the Cool Whip. The Summoner armor dropped from Mech Bosses, also, is NOT a direct upgrade, just a different option! You're more than fine sticking to Spider Armor if you'd like.
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With all that out-the-way, here's my findings:
  • Blood Eel, especially weak against Clinger Staff & Nimbus Rod combo. Most of the powerful enemies & Bosses in the Hardmode Blood Moon are skill checks to good movement & luring (which is why they're optional). I don't think you can steam roll these enemies, unless you dump more stats into attack power using something like Avenger Emblem, post Mech Bosses. They can be beaten with Spider Armor & Spider Staff to be quite honest, but you likely won't get past their skill check on movement with brute force.
  • Goblin Shark, likely the easiest of the three Blood Moon Mini-Bosses. Again, it's all about movement with these Bosses, simply running away & holding backward won't work. You have to move in sometimes, jump, back out, hover, the works. These are all the great qualities of a good challenge. Passive DPS definitely works on this enemy too, but it's not really essential, makes the fight slightly faster though.
  • Blood Nautilus, I haven't beaten this Boss just yet, as I could clearly see that I wasn't doing enough damage. This Boss is a skill check on movement through & through, you won't be able to brute force this fight unless you come back over-prepared. With my new upgrades, Twin Staff, Blade Staff combo, I'll win, as the two fights I lost were marginally close. Twin Staff, Blade Staff combo is also extremely good, so I'll eventually win this fight (this Boss is faster than Black Spot by the way).
  • Mech Bosses, the Black Spot pretty much guarantees victory in these battles, so it only makes sense to just go ahead & get the Twin Staff first before fighting Blood Nautilis. If you can manage to fit an Avenger Emblem into your build, it just makes the fight all-the-more doable.
Overall, I think the biggest issue here was confusion with progression. Summoner Class doesn't really work like other Classes, where every new item you get is almost a direct upgrade; Blood Nautilus could honestly be skipped entirely IMHO & the player would be just fine. That Boss is definitely a skill check on movement, especially in Master Mode, so don't expect an easy fight; this Bosses difficulty is intended & if his Summoning Staff is a direct upgrade to Blade Staff, as I've been hearing, it's proper progression.

Good luck out there, & have a good one! -Toxophilite [East]
 
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