Of all the damage, emblems the minions are the ones that most know the least about despite the fact that they fill more than 1/3rd of all damage emblems. Sure, quite a few people know how they work, but I bet the general public don’t know their strengths and weaknesses. How viable are the emblems and the flask later on and how do they compare to the other emblems in the same category?
First up are the melee minions being Shadow Shrike and Sorcerous Servant for Cubits or Master Cheep and Master Magician for Mastery. These are what I consider the first generation and are considerably weaker than second gen in both power and duration but even then they hold some strengths. Each minion deals 300% damage and attacks once every 2 seconds giving you an addition 150% DPS for a duration of 8.5 seconds. The perk to using a melee minion is just that, melee attacks. Every time they attack they will hit any enemy in front of them within a certain distance. This area is not that big so the most you can expect is to hit around three per attack but you will mostly get only one or two on average. So by putting one of these emblems on you get anywhere from 150% DPS up to 450% though it is more on the low end.
Next, up we have the ranged, or second generation, minions. These are limited to Beamer and Evil Eye Emblems which can only be obtained by using Fragments of Wonder or trading. Both are considerably stronger than melee minions in both damage and duration. Although they attack at the same rate of once every 2 seconds, they deal 600% damage and stay alive for 10.5 seconds giving them way more damage overall. They have double damage but as they are ranged they can only attack one enemy at a time. This is the only downside to the allies compared to melee but as melee minions tend not to hit two targets often it is hardly noticeable unless you look for it. Overall this is an excellent minion in terms of damage but can be brought down by large groups of mobs. Every time I mention minion moving forward I will be referring to this one as it is stronger.
A special feature about minions that other emblems do not have is that they get an exclusive flask. The Vial of Minion Multiplication doubles the amount of any minion emblems you currently have equip. This effectively doubles the damage as well as the number of targets. Now the price, as well as other flask choices, may hold you back (can’t kill king DD), but if you ever plan to use minions there is nothing better. Finally, the flask sort of fixes a problem with how the emblems are designed, more on this in the next paragraph.
One of the biggest problems with these minions is that they only provide a static DPS increase. No matter if you deal 100 or 2k DPS, the minions only add a 300 DPS increase. This means that the most effective time for using minions is when you are weaker as the further you go on the less effective they will be. So while emblems like Arcane/Martial and, to less extent, Berserker scale with a player’s progress, all minions will stay the same during your whole play-through. Now I am making this sound like a major downside but as the increase is decent enough it is fine to ignore for the most part. There are fixes to this as well in that you can use damage or minion multipliers to temporarily make up for the fact it is only a static damage increase. This is just an aspect that needs to be mentioned especially considering I will compare this to other emblems.
For comparing there are not many emblems you can use so I am resorting to Martial/Arcane and Berserker slightly. Now as Martial is stronger than average just consider it twice as powerful for a more accurate representation. I would use Surestrike but the variables required as well as the RNG built in makes it too much of a hassle; doubly so when it becomes obsolete in end-game. For cycles (the overall time, including emblem up and downtime) I will be using the duration of the longest lasting emblem, being 10.5 seconds in this case. The reason for this being is that after that point the comparison stops changing and is a constant. I will do one ultimate cycle (40s) to prove this point but after that, I will only use the longest duration. We will be finding x which, most of the time, refers to the DPS required for the two emblems to match. X is the point where Minions are surpassed by the other emblem in effectiveness.
Martial vs minion (3s): (x*2.5)=(x+(600*0.5)), x=200% DPS
Martial vs minion (10.5s): ((x*2.5*(3/10.5))+(x*(7.5/10.5)))=(x+(600*0.5)), x=700% DPS
Martial vs minion (40s): ((x*2.5*(3/40))+(x*(37/40)))=(x+(600*0.5*(10.5/40))), x=700% DPS
Now to put minions in the best light I will use both types as well as the flask. Using this model, I will use Martial with and without an addition minion to show the effects of the flask and addition melee minion.
Martial vs Vial of Minion Multiplication + melee minion + ranged minion (10.5s): ((x*2.5*(3/10.5))+(x*(7.5/10.5)))=(x+(600*2*0.5)+(300*2*0.5*(8.5/10.5))), x= 1966.67% DPS
Martial + minion vs Vial of Minion Multiplication + melee minion + ranged minion (10.5s): (((x+(600*0.5))*2.5*(3/10.5))+(x*(7.5/10.5))+(600*0.5*(7.5/10.5)))=(x+(600*2*0.5)+(300*2*0.5*(8.5/10.5))), x=966.67% DPS
The reason for this large gap is that the first example has you comparing one emblem against 4 minions using only your base damage and a multiplier. With the second example martial now has the support of what amounts to 2.5 minions, albeit for a shorter duration. Having 2.5 strong minions versus 4 minions with a 50:50 splits between strong and weak offsets the balance between the two. If I added in minion multiplication to the Martial side the example becomes so unbalanced that the only point they meet at is negative DPS.
Berserker against the minion is an odd case, to say the least. First thing is that this time X is damage instead of DPS since we now have to add in AS and cannot assume it anymore. For AS the value is arbitrary but I will go with 187 because it is the gear cap for most classes.
Berserker vs minion (10.5s): (x*(1.87+0.5)*(5/10.5))+(x*1.87*(5.5/10.5))=((x*1.87)+(600*0.5)), x=1260% Damage
From the outset, this appears terrible for Berserker but as said before this one is odd. I say this because the two emblems almost run parallel to each other up until the 1260% damage point where Berserker surpasses minions. This puts the two on an equal standing, bar the fact that Berserker strips you of all abilities.
To end this off let’s review what I have gone over. Minions deal a good amount of damage by do not scale as well as other emblems in the same category. Due to this the best use for minions are as a complement to multipliers instead of standing on their own. Minion multiplication is a vial worth looking into if you wish to get the most out of minions, but using two minion emblems is more of a trap than anything else. The use of minion multiplication is best using with a damage multiplier more than a melee minion. This kills off the last use for melee minions and thus they should never see any use. These minions are strong but may be dependent on others as you go further on.
Two minion types, melee and ranged, but ranged is the only one that matters due to damage and duration. It is on about equal standing with Berserker but far more forgiving as it does not lock you down and starts at a higher point. It can be used as a standalone damage emblem but loses effectiveness the further your character progresses. Using it as a complimentary emblem for multipliers proves more useful and increases its longevity to end-game. Vial of Minion Multiplication is an incredibly strong flask but best used with only a ranged minion and a multiplier instead of both minion types. God, someone help me, running out of things to write about.