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Mass Effect 3 Build: Cryo Vanguard

Tags: #character build  #Mass Effect 3  #Mass Effect Build  #Cryo Explosion  #Biotic Explosion  #Vazgen ME Build  #Cryo Vanguard  #Vanguard 
  • Member
    April 27, 2016

    Cryo Vanguard

    Aggressive and devastating. These two words apply to pretty much all Vanguards but this build adds words "crowd control" to the mix. Combining biotics and high rate of fire, Cryo Vanguards are able to destroy entire groups of enemies in a matter of seconds!


    Cryo Vanguards excel when dealing with groups. The more enemies there are, the easier it is for Cryo Vanguards do defeat them. The gameplay revolves around rapid assault rifle fire, augmented with Squad Cryo Ammo which allows the squad to freeze entire groups of enemies. When enemies are frozen Cryo Vanguards release devastating Shockwaves shattering frozen enemies and lifting survivors priming them for biotic explosions. They can also steal enemy shields, gaining another layer of protection and exposing hostiles.

    Cryo Vanguards form a brilliant synergy with their squadmates, supporting their abilities and benefiting from them at the same time. Basic strategy is to constantly push enemies back with concentrated weapon fire while culling the herd with tech bursts, cryo and biotic explosions. As a result, Cryo Vanguards are rarely held in one place, even when facing entrenched and numerous foes.

    Full vanilla playthrough starting from level 1

    The Build

    Cryo Ammo: Squad Bonus, Headshots, Damage Combo

    Squad Cryo Ammo allows for squadmates to freeze targets themselves, which is especially effective when they are using Scorpions (freeze chance is tied to the rate of fire - the slower the fire rate is, the higher is the freeze chance). Headshots and Damage Combo allow for some nice debuff on boss-level foes.

    Shockwave: Force & Damage, Reach, Lifting Shockwave

    Cryo Vanguard's main detonator power which also acts as a primer in certain circumstances. Slight delay before being completely frozen synergizes perfectly with the delay before Shockwave cascades reach the target. Reach is a must-have here, it allows to deal with enemies from longer distances. If targets survive resulting cryo explosions, Lifting Shockwave primes them for biotic explosions. I went for Force&Damage for Rank 4 but Radius will work just as well. I suggest Force&Damage for level 1 characters and Radius for save imports. 

    Assault Mastery: Damage, Squad Bonus, Power Intensity

    The main focus here is to increase weapon and power damage. Due to Phaeston's low weight it is possible to boost squadmate power and weapon damage without impacting 200% cooldown bonus.  Damage at Rank 4 boosts its damage, while Power Intensity boosts Shockwave and Energy Drain.

    Fitness: Durability, Barrier Recharge, Durability

    Survivability. The nature of Phaeston requires the player to spend long time exposed and extra shields work perfectly with that aspect of playstyle. Bonus to shield recharge allows to spend less time recharging shields and unleash almost constant stream of hyper-accelerated slugs at the enemies.

    Energy Drain: Damage, Drain, Damage

    Cryo Vanguard's anti-shield weapon. With power damage evolutions it allows to steal shields of lieutenant-rank enemies in one cast exposing them to the squad's weapon fire. It also primes tech bursts which stagger and damage shields of everyone nearby. And it can be a life-saver in a pinch, giving a much needed shield boost when facing overwhelming odds. 



    Incinerate: Damage, Recharge Speed, Freeze Combo
    Overload: Damage, Recharge Speed, Shield Damage
    Unshackled AI: Power Damage, Tech Damage, Squad Bonus

    An invaluable squadmate for Cryo Vanguards and the main armor damager of the team. EDI's Incinerate synergizes perfectly with Cryo Vanguards. Not only Freeze Combo evolution allows it to deal a lot more damage to frozen targets but it can also detonate tech bursts AND prime targets for fire explosions. Overload was used very rarily, primarily against elite bosses like Banshees and Atlas mechs. Class power is evolved for maximum power damage for EDI and the team.


    Stasis: Stasis Strength, Recharge Speed, Bubble
    Warp: Detonate, Expose, Pierce
    Pure Biotic: Recharge Speed, Duration & Force, Squad Bonus

    The second ideal sidekick to Shepard. Warp is the name of the game for Liara here. Not only it detonates biotic explosions primed by Shepard's Lifting Shockwave but it can also prime targets for aforementioned Shockwave. And let's not forget about detonating fire explosions primed by EDI's Incinerate! Stasis Bubble was used primarily (and very rarely) against Phantoms. Class power is evolved for fastest power recharge and highest power damage - all boosting Warp.

    These two stayed with me for 99% of the game, synergy between their powers is simply too awesome not to explore.


    Phaeston was chosen for its low weight, decent accuracy and, weirdly, high rate of fire. While Cryo Ammo freeze chance is low for each shot of the weapon, high rate of fire allows to land multiple shots in a short period of time and it is actually quite effective when freezing targets. Low weight allows to keep 200% cooldown bonus and to use Shockwave and Energy Drain very frequently.

    Mods: Piercing Mod, Magazine Upgrade

    Higher magazine size allows to land more shots without needing to pop back into cover thus increasing the chance of freezing the enemies. Piercing mod allows to pierce Guardian shields, cover and Cannibal plating.



    Helmet: Recon Hood 
    Chest: Serrice Council 
    Shoulders: Hahne-Kedar 
    Arms: Hahne-Kedar 
    Legs: Hahne-Kedar 

    Together this armor set increases weapon damage by 40% and power damage by 10%. This is very noticeable on Phaeston which has low damage otherwise. With full equipment it just tears through enemies with little effort. Power damage adds upon bonuses from class power and Unshackled AI to boost Shockwave and Energy Drain eve more.

    Closing Remarks

    Quadruple explosions are a sight to behold - Energy Drain primes tech bursts, EDI's Incinerate detonates it and primes fire explosion, Liara's Warp detonates fire explosion and primes a biotic explosion, Shepard's Shockwave (already available due to 200% cooldown bonus) detonates it