PC - Thoughts on Pre-Hardmode Summoner Viability (2024)

Mage-of-Rage

Duke Fishron
  • May 20, 2020
  • #1

I originally posted this on Reddit but since I fear it'll just be buried in New I decided to post it here as well. Hope you all don't mind.

I've been thoroughly enjoying the new 1.4 update so far and one of the changes I was most excited about were the new summoner weapons and gear that would (hopefully) make summons more viable as its own class especially Pre-Hardmode as I personally found the class unreliable early on compared to its peers on Expert. Now that the update is here and I've managed to "beat" Wall of Flesh (I'll explain why this is in quotations down bellow) I wanted to be a bit more critical about the changes added to this update and see if it's really enough to make Summoners fun and viable enough for the early game and on its hardest difficulty, Master Mode.

Note: This current playthrough was made on a fresh Softcore character on a Master Mode World (no Journey with Corruption) and my thoughts will revolve around the viability on Summoners on Master Mode PRE-HARDMODE not overall or on Hardmode.

I was incredibly disappointed to find out that only two new Pre-Hardmode summon weapons were added in Journey's End. I honestly expected for some of the new pets to be additional summons but sadly that wasn't the case. On top of that all summon weapons still don't have their own unique modifier, still using Magic modifiers which is still weird as summons can't crit at all.

That being said the new "Finch Staff" is exactly what I wanted in an early game Summoner item though I would've liked it if it was moved to the normal chest drop like the Wand of Sparking instead of a reward from Living Wood chests but this cuts down the RNG for a beginner Summoner item immensely.

The second weapon is the "Vampire Frog Staff" which I have serious issues with. The weapon itself is fine but the main problem is its availability. Not only are Blood Moons incredibly RNG dependent but the biggest hurdle in getting this staff are the enemies that drop it. Both the Wandering Eye Fish and Zombie Merman are incredibly difficult enemies to fight (On Master the Zombie Merman has a whopping 1200 HP!) on top of the staff itself being quite the rare drop. If the staff was moved to common Blood Moon enemies and the Zombie Merman/Wandering Eye Fish simply had an increase drop chance I wouldn't mind but as it stands I don't find the staff worth the hassle to get.

The only weapon out of the three pre-existing early game summons that got a buff is the Imp Staff, decreasing its damage (21 to 17) but increasing its fire rate. I've personally found this a positive change as I feel the increase DPS offsets the damage decrease and lends itself better in handling crowds of enemies more. That said the strategy to spam the staff to refresh the fire rate has decreased in viability due to the lower damage which comes back to bite us later...

I feel like there's still a bit more work to be done on the summon weapons in the early game. Looking into making both the Vampire Frog Staff easier to obtain as well as taking a long look at the viability of the Hornet Staff (spoiler alert its still not good) would make summons have a smoother curve in power instead of Finch Staff > Imp Staff.


The new type of Summoner based weapons, and they're strangely not summons at all. Whips are weird to say the least as they are essentially "Melee Weapons" that scale off "Summon" Damage. This isn't just because they act similarly to pre-1.4 flails but due to the fact they scale off Melee Attack Speed so wearing a full set of Shadow Armor increases your damage significantly.

This is weird to me as there is no new accessory that takes advantage of this unique interaction especially considering the Titan Glove's new effect mentions it working for whips and is given explicit mention in the patch notes yet "Titan Glove" or attack speed accessory for Summoners does not exist. All the accessories that the Titan Glove builds into are still melee oriented but no item that allows increased attack speed/to hold the mouse button to attack AND syngergize with Summon Damage.

That being said whips are probably the thing Relogic got the most 'right' with a new brand of summon weapons and are contender for my favorite changes in 1.4. The ability to 'mark' enemies and make your summons target said marked enemy on top of the 'tag damage' not only increases Summon DPS but also seems to be summoners answer to the lack of critical hits the class does as well as providing some sort of team dynamic between you and the summons. It was fun to mark Skeletron's hands and watch my Imps focus fire them and even the Snapthorn (the jungle whip) is enough to kill EoW without summons.

That being said the fact that there's only two whips that exist before killing the WoF is my biggest complaint with the weapon itself. A whip that exists bellow the Leather Whip would give the summoner class that small 'push' to more reliably get past the early game without overly rellying on the Finch Staff and a whip that exists after the Snapthorn but still Pre-Hardmode would help give the weapon a much smoother power curve. As it stands though the Snapthorn is great it tends to fall off Post-Skeletron (perhaps a Dungeon Whip?).


With all the new changes to Summoners I successfully managed to beat all but one boss with the new tools available to me. At this point, no part of the game felt overly hard though there were many parts I did wish I was playing something else like the Goblin Army, using only summons and whips I managed to get pretty far into Pre-Hardmode that was of course until I had to fight the Wall of Flesh.

To explain the problems I had with this boss I need to discuss the biggest drawback I found when it came to playing with a Solo-Summoner and that is with groups of enemies. As mentioned previously I struggled quite a bit with the Goblin Army but I've also struggled in non-event/non-boss cases where there were just a cluster of enemies coming at me. This is due to the lack of knockback and unreliable burst damage the summoner weapons have. With the former this means if the enemy just has a bit of knockback resistance they can just slowly walk up to you while you are attacking them, this is most apparent when enemies come from multiple directions as you will simply have no means to control the crowd as they come to you. The latter means it becomes difficult to manage low health enemies as they either live too long and unnecessarily draw summon aggro to them instead of high priority targets. The 'tag' system with whips mitigates this somewhat but not fully.

The reason I had to explain this is because the Wall of Flesh embodies ALL of those drawbacks and turns it into a literal wall that prevents progression into Hardmode. The player and summons cannot deal with The Hungry that WoF fast enough to give you breathing room as you simply cannot keep them off you AND deal meaningful damage to WoF before more can respawn. Using whips to deal with The Hungry help but that makes it so that you tag The Hungry making the summons focus fire on them instead of WoF and you simply don't have the armor and damage to get close to WoF reliably for whip to be a viable source of damage to the Wall itself and though the Imps have piercing projectiles because they are aiming at the many Hungry and not WoF they're shots tend to miss most of WoF's body. Lastly due to the increase HP WoF has on Master Mode, even more so than Expert the summons cannot burst kill him fast enough before he can either catch up or straight up kill you on his last legs.

I managed to 'beat' WoF but I had to switch to the Minishark and Meteor Shots (still wearing full Bee Armor) in order to kill him for good as he just seemed too difficult. Now I know that Ningishu managed to beat WoF on 1.3 on Expert Summoner Only also with no Underworld arena BUT that was on Expert not Master even with the new tools available the whips don't have much of an impact on the fight and the re-summoning strategy with the Imp Staff that she uses in the video has been nerfed due to the balance changes.

Before anyone says anything it is no secret that Ningishu is an incredibly good Terraria player, better than I am by what is probably light-years. But the fact one needs to compensate the problems Summoner has with incredible skill, much more than one would need when playing Melee, Range or Magic leads one to question the state of the class especially considering I am here to discuss the viability of Summoner compared to other classes, not if its possible.


It was close, so incredibly close but the WoF simply has too much stacked against it still to make Summoners be a reasonable solo pick on Master Mode on the very least. Which is a shame since the new changes have made summoner not just in the early game but overall much better to play but this one boss seems to be far too much for the class to handle. The farthest I ever gotten to beating the WoF was the point where he hit max speed and even then I'd still say the viability of summoner would still be questionable.

I feel like the changes I proposed would greatly help summoners early viability (Post-Skeletron Whip) or make the difficulty curve more manageable (Better weapon accessibility/ More Summoner Weapons and Earlier Whip). I also think a more early game oriented Summoner Armor and or accessory should be considered now that Magic have their gem robes and Ranged now having Fossil Armor or perhaps a Summoner Armor that is stronger than the current Bee Armor or just buffing Bee Armor straight up.

I also feel like Summoner Weapons not having their own Reforge Modifiers is still a glaring issue in its identity not that it borrows both Magic and Melee Modifiers. I feel like an exclusive modifier for Summon weapons would help it greatly and make it stand out more on its own like Modifiers that increase tag damage or increase the window of opportunity to inflict tag damage.

PC - Thoughts on Pre-Hardmode Summoner Viability (2024)

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