Nowadays, if you want to ask what defense mechanic is generally known to everyone, I think your answer must be Determination. However, there is actually another defense mechanic that is also very good. However, the reality is that players are gradually forgetting its existence.
Crucible Balance Changes
But in the upcoming Crucible League, a few things are changing. Firstly, we’re losing the passive tree Armour Mastery that provides Mana Reservation Efficiency for Determination.
Secondly, Molten Shell is being nerved in a way that makes it significantly weaker overall, but it’s especially weaker for low armour characters.
Aspect Of The Crab Explained
Now, the forgotten defensive mechanic we’re talking about is of course Aspects of the Crab. This is a reservation skill that reserves 25% of your Mana to provide a buff. The buff gains stacks of Crab Barrier, which can stack up to 10 stacks in total, and each stack provides 2% additional physical damage reduction.
So, max stacks will provide 20% additional physical damage reduction. Each stack is gained at a rate of half a second per stack. Therefore, it takes five seconds in total to gain max stacks and POE Currency.
When you take a hit of physical damage, the additional physical damage reduction provided by the Crab Barrier stacks will help to mitigate some of that damage and then all Crab Barriers will be lost.
Now, this may sound like a poor defensive mechanic because once they’re gone, you’re then vulnerable. However, this is very powerful when combined with high amounts of Evasion and capped Spell Suppression as you would expect from a character on that side of the passive skill tree. This is because a lot of attacks deal with physical damage or a combination of physical damage and Elemental Damage, and there aren’t that many physical spells in the game.
And whilst, there’s always the chance that you encounter several packs of mobs that deal a lot of physical damage or spells. This is quite uncommon.
Crab VS Determination
Now, it’s not necessarily better than determination in all cases or even most cases but because it reserves half of the manner of Determination and because you’re losing that Determination Reservation Efficiency Mastery, there’s going to be a pretty different opportunity cost going on here compared to previous leagues.
The extra Mana that you’ve gained from taking Aspects of the Crab over Determination could be used offensively or you could even reinvest into another defensive skill and buy POE Currency, such as Arctic Armour, which is actually gaining a Vaal version of the skill this league and that’s potentially going to be quite strong as well.
The Aspect to the Crab starts to get very strong when you begin to pair it with other sources of additional physical damage reduction, such as Endurance Charges or the shield suffix mod that you can find on strength and strength hybrid shields.
The additional physical damage reduction is always going to be able to provide that amount of defense rather than providing varied defense as armour would against hit.
Stronger VS Phys DoTs
But it doesn’t only apply to hit and I think that’s really important. This full physical damage reduction that you gain from Aspect of the Crab is going to be applying to bleed and Corrupted Blood as well.
If you hit a monster with the Corrupted Blood mod and you gain stacks of Corrupted Blood because you didn’t get hit, the physical damage reduction from the stacks is still going to be there and it’s going to be working overtime to reduce that damage.
Molten Shell Nerf
Then, there’s Molten Shell. In Path of Exile Crucible, Molten Shell is being nerved significantly.
Instead of providing 20% of your armour up to a maximum of 10,000 life, it will now provide 10% of your armour up to a maximum of five thousand. This means that characters with low armour are going to get a significantly weaker shield.
If you have 10,000 armour in Crucible League, you’ll only gain a thousand life from Molten Shell. In the previous patch, you would have gained two thousand.
Other Guard Skills
This makes other guard skills significantly more competitive. Things like Immortal Call will be a lot more popular I think Steelskin as well and because Molten Shell is weaker stacking armour especially on builds that don’t get a lot of increased armour from the tree. By the way, if you want to increase armour on your tree, preparing enough POE Orbs would be a good choice.
For example, builds that are on the right side of the tree. It’s a weaker mechanic for defending against physical damage and it makes other options more appealing, such as things like Aspects of the Crab.
How To Obtain Aspect Of The Crab?
Our Aspect to the Crab is not a normal skill. It can’t be acquired as a skill gem from vendors and things like that. It’s a skill that needs to be Beast crafted into gear or acquired from unique equipment.
This Beast craft is unlocked by defeating Craiceann, First of the Deep. Craiceann is the Irish word for skin, but how do you get to Craiceann’s Cove to actually defeat the boss to obtain the Beast craft?
You need to find a Craicic Spider Crab, which is a level 74 and higher red Beast that can be found during Einhar’s Hunt missions. Of course, you can also POE Currency buy to get the Beasts via trade in any trade league, or you can have another player actually Beast craft onto your item for you.
Craiceann Unique Items
The Craiceann, First of the Deep boss, also dropped some unique items (such as Craiceann’s Tracks, Craiceann’s Chitin, Craiceann’s Carapace, Craiceann’s Pincers) that can’t be found elsewhere. These unique items are generally pretty underwhelming, but they interact directly with Aspects of the Crab and there’s a few of them that have decent mods.
Craiceann’s Carapace is pretty good. It actually provides the Aspect of the Crab skill and makes you immune to Bleeding and provides a ton of armour and life. But it’s quite a big opportunity cost since it takes up your body armour slaw.
The boots, on the other hand, are actually pretty good Craiceann’s Tracks. They provide a lot of life, some resistance, good movement speed and they provide two really good buffs that improve Aspect of the Crap.
The first one makes it, so you cannot be stunned when you have at least 10 Crab Barriers. In our case, that’s the maximum amount of Crab Barriers. The second modifier makes this first mod even better because every time you would lose all of your Crab Barriers, you instead only lose five. That means that you’ll have to wait much less time to reach max stacks again, which means that you have higher uptime on the stun immunity and you’ll have more physical damage reduction available more often.
Overall, Aspects of the Crab is a skill that shouldn’t be overlooked in the Crucible League. It’s going to be very strong at mitigating physical damage and it’s been significantly buffed relatively compared to Determination due to these changes that we’ve mentioned, like the loss of the Mana Reservation Mastery and the change to Molten Shell.
I think characters that are higher Evasion and low armour are going to benefit the most from this skill. They can use it with a combination of things like minimum Endurance Charges and physical damage reduction shield mods as well as perhaps Immortal Call or Steelskin.