The Apprentice is the magiest of mages in Dungeon Defenders (considering he’s the only mage) and as such is the burstiest of bursters when it comes to damage. His primary and alternate attacks can be charged for additional damage, and his primary attack has splash damage and knockback when fully charged as well. The alternate attack gets increased knockback to add to its already impressive “get off me” style blast attack, which is great for defending the core or weak blockades. The overcharge ability is one of the best in the game, giving him super quick casting speed (which is used for tower repairs, placement, upgrades and self-healing) which allows him to be a valuable supportive asset. On the flip side, his mana bomb ability does massive damage over a large radius, and while it is expensive, it’s perfect for last-second saves or just being over-indulgent with mana usage. The Apprentice has some of the most powerful towers in the game, ranging from the basic physical damage dealing magic missile tower and resistance-removing magic blockade to the deadly striker and lightning towers which do massive damage, the former of which can shoot through walls. The middle tower is a fireball tower which is perfect for defending the front line. The Apprentice may be easy to pick up and play, but he’s tough to master, and there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to playing him as a tower character or a hero build.
- Magic Missile Tower (40M) [3DU] – The magic missile tower is bread and butter bullet based damage. This one fires at an average rate, hits one enemy for decent physical damage, and has a decent range. It gets outshined by the more expensive Apprentice (and Squire) towers, but it’s helpful when a blockade is taking care of a smaller choke point, but still needs some support so it doesn’t fall at a crucial moment. Magic missile towers are genuinely there to add DPS where DPS is needed, and not much else beyond the early game.
- Magic Blockade (20M) [1DU] – This blockade has a very interesting role as the only tower in the game worth one DU. Any enemies that touch it physically (not with magic or a ranged attack) are stripped of their resistances, but it doesn’t have much health and has no way to fend for itself. The best way to make good use of a magic blockade only defense is to combine it with strength drain auras from the Monk. Without those, magic blockades will go down too quickly in the later levels or higher difficulty levels, even with a high tower health stat. Unlike the Squire’s spike blockade, enemies can squeeze by this one, so the magic blockade needs backup or multiple blockades to be most effective, which is actually completely valid as a strategy due to its cheap cost.
- Fireball Tower (80) [5DU] – Holy moly great balls of fire! Yes, this tower fires them. Too slow to stand alone, put this one to the side of major blockade defense and choke points. It’ll do massive splash damage and really help keep choke points alive, but it’s too slow to pick off enemies on the move, and too weak to survive for long, so don’t even bother trying to place them off to the side and protect them with little magic blockades. Always put these with main defenses. Every defense strategy can use these, if there’s an Apprentice with decent tower stats, use his fireball towers for sure, just make sure to have cover for the fire resistant enemies.
- Lightning Tower (120) [7DU] – Chain lightning never gets old, does it? No. But the long answer is this tower is the best at defending corners or split-lane defenses as long as it has enough radius. The lightning tower, like most of the Apprentice’s towers, attacks quite slow at first and has modest range, but the first lightning strike only needs to hit one guy within radius, the chain will travel way beyond its radius, making it incredibly useful for taking out mages (as long as they aren’t electric resistant).
- Deadly Striker Tower (150) [8DU] – The mother of all ranged damage dealers, the Deadly Striker Tower. Mm. Beautiful. This tower’s a powerhouse, but it only hits one enemy per shot, granted those shots aren’t hindered by walls of any sort. It’s tempting to think “Ah it’s so powerful, might as well use it everywhere, right?” Wrong. This tower is a special agent, bust it out to do big damage to ogres and bosses, OR if the Apprentice has leveled their attack speed like crazy, because this guy can take up to 5 seconds to fire. These are great for anti-air if and only if there they have enough attack speed due to their immense range, still they’re expensive so use with caution.
- Overcharge (8M per second) – Support ability extraordinaire! The overcharge ability will save you time and time again. It’s not always possible to sit there and build or repair towers in a pinch as defenses go down to an ogre or as wyverns fly through an unprotected area, so hit the overcharge and make sure things get done quickly! Sure it’s a little more expensive, but if towers and blockades are taking profuse abuse, there can be no misuse of the overcharge ability. Remember, casting speed is for just about everything tower related as well as for healing the self, so overcharge is your best friend as a support mage OR as a mage who is out there in the thick of it. We really can’t stress how helpful this ability is, even if you don’t level it, use it.
- Mana Bomb (200M) – If ever there was a fun ability it’s the mana bomb. While it comes at a massive price of 200M and really shouldn’t be used lightly (it has a minute cooldown), it does destroy pretty much everything in the universe. Well at least in the area, but the blast radius is massive. Putting points into this one can actually pay off quite well for when defenses go down or for when mages are healing themselves to quickly to be defeated. Be careful not to get trigger happy with this ability however as it is expensive and could result in weaker or less upgraded towers if used too often, so make sure to be smart with its use. That or just have four Apprentices mage bombing everything constantly, that sounds like fun too.
Weapon Description and Relevant Stats
The apprentice uses a staff to attack from afar, often firing multiple blasts. Both the primary and alternate attacks can be charged to increase knockback and splash damage. While there are tons of different staves, the way in which they differ functionally comes down to charge speed (an Apprentice specific stat), number of projectiles, and projectile speed. With a high enough charge speed, a higher DPS can be achieved on regular attacks by charging up until just before the maximum and firing then, but of course the full charge gets the splash damage, so it’s a trade off. The Apprentice’s weapons are pretty straightforward, as opposed to the other classes.
No matter what, the alternate attack is all about the knockback and inevitably will never touch the damage or speed of the primary attack, so focusing on attack DPS is the way to go. A decent charge speed is helpful, but if the stat is low, don’t boost it; if the charge stat is high, work on it to turn out splash damage attacks even quicker. Beyond that, always, no matter what, upgrade the amount of projectiles stat when able, because it can do nothing but help. Projectile speed is a little less necessary, but it -500 is… well… pretty darn slow. -200 or higher should be fine, especially if the Apprentice is focusing on defense. Speaking of defense, equipment selection should revolve around getting good hero and tower stats rather than resistances or armor ratings because the Apprentice really shouldn’t be taking much punishment as it is.
- Moving Core – Perpetual Motion
- Laboratory (Level 4) – Voidstaff
- Throne Room (Level 8 ) – Spare Actuator
- Summit (Level 12) – Draconis Ignis
- Glitterhelm (Levle 13) – Incandescent
- Decimator: damage, health, mana bomb – There’s nothing more satisfying than destroying entire waves of enemies single-staff-edly, and that’s the purpose of this build. This one’s pretty straightforward, instead of playing like the mages of lore, jump into the trenches or stand above on walls and precipices to rain death down on the enemies as they travel helplessly below with massive damage. This build can hold back entire waves, especially with a high-charge high-projectile count staff. Use mana bombs to help the other lanes, don’t waste them on the one you’re already working on as chances are there aren’t many enemies left in it.
- Coffee Mate: speed, casting speed, overcharge – Funny name, serious build. The Coffee Mate, as it were, is the ultimate assistant on the battlefield and will win levels that seemed just as they were about to be lost. The stats should make the goal obvious, repair everything. That means sprint from place to place, keeping everything alive, and most importantly upgrading things. While the recommended stats don’t necessarily include damage, still build damage to make sure you have something to do when things are going well. Either way, this class is definitely for the supporters out there who can’t stand losing because someone else wasn’t doing their job, or have the “do it yourself if you want it done right” mentality. Ever the unsung hero, the Coffee Mate Apprentice provides a massive backbone for the defense.
- Eraser: tower attack speed, tower damage, tower radius – Apprentice towers are by far the most damaging, enemy force erasing towers in the game, and a pure tower build focusing on that fact makes goblins soil their loin cloths. This build focuses on placing Fireball, Lightning and Deadly striker towers to take out, well, every single thing in the game. High tower attack speed makes deadly striker towers more viable for general use, even as anti-air, but still most importantly as anti-ogre or boss towers. Keeping damage and attack speed about even will result in towers that destroy the whole universe, to put things in as realistic terms as possible. Watch out for ogres still, as the towers won’t be able to take much abuse, and neither will the Apprentice himself.
- Elementalist: tower health, tower damage, casting speed – This Apprentice build is a little more specific situation-wise. When a Squire isn’t present or most of the heroes in the defense are focusing on hero abilities, it’s necessary to bust out the magic blockade defense strategies, and that’s where the Elementalist build excels. Magic Blockades combined with lightning and fireball towers are the bread and butter of the defense here along with magic missile towers to ensure enemies that don’t get their resistances stripped by the blockade (due to being ranged) and perhaps some deadly striker towers, but it’ll be tough to get much use out of them except for bosses due to a lessened focus on tower attack speed (and more on damage and sustainability). Be careful not over-use towers though if other players have something to add to the defense as Apprentice towers can suck up DUs quickly (except the blockades).
- Archmage: damage, mana bomb, tower damage, tower attack speed – This will be the most common Apprentice build most likely due to how much damage there is everywhere. No sustainability means relying on other allies to support towers and to keep the Apprentice alive, but that’s why this game is cooperative, hm? Find powerful weapons and pour mana into them to make sure your Apprentice kicks as much butt as possible, use charged shots and the alternate knockback attack to keep from dying. This build will work in pretty much every situation, but it does mean dying may be common, especially when warriors start showing up, so be careful while you’re out there destroying everything.
- Coffee Mate / Elementalist: overcharge – Just one stat to focus on? Of course not, combine any variation of stats in either of the mentioned builds and overcharge, as it’s going to the most important part of the build here. This is a great solo build and will allow for management of several choke points at once. Excelling at nothing can be frustrated, but when combined with other hybrid characters, the Elementalist Mate Apprentice will be the foundation for great teamwork. Just don’t skimp on the overcharge use and be sure to be upgrading blockades before upgrading damaging towers.
- Coffee Mate / Eraser: overcharge, tower damage, tower attack speed – This is an offensive version of the above build, focusing more on dealing damage than receiving it. Another common build, this will allow Apprentices to setup powerful towers to deal with the majority of situations while they go out and grind meat. However, when the going gets rough and the enemies are putting up impressive pressure, the Apprentice can switch back to a supportive role to ensure that the defenses don’t fall.
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