Swords of Chult Preview and Guide: Bonding Nerfs, Rank 14 Levels and Unparalleled Enhancements

After getting all the refinement details straight, we continue our Swords of Chult coverage with the changes to Bonding Runestones and the new Enchantment levels. These two go together because the devs are essentially nerfing the players’ ratings and resell the same power using the new levels. So let’s see what exactly changes and how you are getting back your lost ratings!

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Unparalleled Enhancements

Let’s start with the new Unparalleled Weapon and Armor Enhancements, because this is a pretty straight buff. All of them are getting an additional level on top which comes with slightly more benefits than the Transcendent version. There’s not a lot not to like especially since Unparalleled under the new system will effectively cost less than Transcendent under the old one. Also you probably won’t have to switch your enhancement since the Unparalleled levels shouldn’t change that much. But make sure to consult your local theorycrafter! All new enhancements can be seen below.

Bonding Runestone Nerfs

Now the nerdy part of the article starts. First of all obviously the Bonding Runestones are taking a major hit. Their companion stat transfer is severely reduced, at the top end by nearly 90%. Loading into Mod 12B you’ll notice a ratings loss of roughly 30% from your enchantments and companion. On the other hand, there are new enchantment and runestone levels up to 14 to come up for it and lower levels are getting easier to achieve. Also Augment pets suddenly become a viable option since Eldritch Runestones can now compete with Bondings. So let’s dive into the numbers and see what all of this actually means.

First of all, please open the this spreadsheet where I’ve prepared a simplified version of what’s going to happen. All values in the sheet are taken from the refinement details official feedback thread. There are two tables, the first for the “bis” level players and the second for the casuals. All tables roughly state the stats you get from single-stat enchantment and runestones under the old system and different scenarios of the stats you get under the new system. As you can see I included different ranks and companion options and sorted the table by the percentage of stats compared to what players had in the old system. For Augments I mixed and matched Eldritch Runestones and others and only included the version that was best. For most levels this was slotting one Eldritch and two others.

*** UPDATE *** There were some flaws in the first version of the sheet. Thanks to Kisakee for pointing that out in the comments!

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Best-in-Slot Comparisons

In the best-in-slot scenario, players are getting roughly 38k stats from using a maxed out toon in Mod 12. This crumbles to 27k in Swords of Chult thanks to the Bondings nerf. For endgame players Augment options are still inferior to Bondings. The grant much less stats and don’t feature companion debuffs. That’s why Bondings will remain the norm in high-level groups. But especially for alts or casuals, having an Augment no longer comes with a severe disadvantage.

Ok so what about the nerf now? Players will eventually be able to get their Mod 12 ratings back, but they are going to have to take their gems all the way to rank 14. Since that’s a difficult thing to do, more difficult than the old rank 12s, most players will have to live with the nerf at least for a certain time and slightly re-balance their characters.

Casual Comparisons

For casuals, it’s actually not a nerf at all. Going with your Bonding R8 setup into Mod 12B will already land you slightly more stats from your enchantments and companions. The reason is that the nerf to Bondings on lower levels is not as severe, and compensated by the fact that lower level enchantments now grant more stats. Additionally as I mentioned above, Augments are a real option in the R8-R10 category now. They pretty much grant as much ratings as Bondings, which makes it a nice balancing job by the devs. Also don’t forget that R10 in the new system costs less than before. Casuals should be able upgrade their R8s pretty fast and see a nice influx in stats, up to 172% for Bondings in a full R10 setup.

Is Nerfing and Reselling the Same Power a Smart Move?

So overall casuals profit from the system while the “bis” population has to upgrade to full R14 to get their Mod 12 ratings back. I think it’s debatable whether nerfing and then reselling the same power using new enchantment levels is a smart move, but that’s essentially what happens in progression all the time. There’s always some new hill to climb…

While we’ve compared the ratings on a personal level so far, the nerf within groups is much more severe. Power sharing gets a significant hit as well so all those Clerics et cetera will buff their parties much less than before. It’s a complex topic of its own, which we can’t cover in-depth unfortunately. Just know that you won’t see the Power ratings you were used to.

I think runs will get a little more difficult and a little longer in endgame groups. But it’s not like you’re suddenly going to severely struggle if you cruised through the Tomb of the Nine Gods before the update. Players will however have to go through the full Coalescent Ward and Ultimate Enchanting Stones grind for the last upgrade. That’s a significant task and probably a show-stopper for some players.


Preparing for the new levels is pretty easy. You are going to need a bunch of Wards, ADs, and at least one toons that can reliably run the Tomb of the Nine Gods to get those Ultimate Enchanting Stones. So I would concentrate on getting one main ready, preferably a support class like Pally, Guardian or Cleric. Then you should be all set to slowly work your way towards R14 and Unparalleled.

What do you think about the new Unparalleled, R14 levels, and the Bonding nerf? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!

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j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

8 thoughts on “Swords of Chult Preview and Guide: Bonding Nerfs, Rank 14 Levels and Unparalleled Enhancements

  • October 19, 2017 at 1:40 am

    All in one it seems to be a Lot more balanced and understandeble nerf that the feedback forum thread let you trink. Im a User of r12 bondings and r12 enchants on my comp and still trink this is not a Bad decision. All the People from the official forum seems to be near bis or bis players like me which will lose some of their Power and are angry abtut it. For all the players it will be a benefit so I actually even understand why cryptic dont post anymore in the Feedback thread. Im not Happy abtut the nerf but Many People will be so I dont see a Problem

  • October 19, 2017 at 7:10 am

    There are two mistake, one in the spreadsheet and one in the math:

    In the spreadsheet, you double added the 10.000 points from your companion –

    Augment 12b for example :
    13.000 normal + (10.000 * 1,565 [31% legendary + 25,5% eldritch]) = 28650, not 38650

    In the math you can’t only compare runestones and enchants, you need to involve equipment –

    Augment 12b for example:
    6.000 enchants (6x 1000) + 5217 loyal avenger (6x 652 + 3x 435)
    107,5% (3x r14 eldritch + 31% legendary)
    = 23275,275 stat points

    6.000 enchants (6x 1000) + 2000 runestone + 5217 loyal avenger (6x 652 + 3x 435)
    82% (2x r14 eldritch + 31% legendary)
    = 24054,94 stat points

    6.000 enchants (6x 1000) + 4000 (2x) runestone + 5217 loyal avenger (6x 652 + 3x 435)
    56,5% (2x r14 eldritch + 31% legendary)
    = 23814,605 stat points

    This means with the right equipment a 2x eldritch + 1x any other runestone combo is better than anything for an augment pet.

    • October 19, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Thanks! We’ve updated the sheet and the article. We’ve gone with regular item level 420 (3*521+3*348) companion gear however as Loyal (item level 840) is no longer the norm.

  • October 25, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    would it be more beneficial to upgrade the bondings to 14 before the 12 enchants? what would you recommend for quickest dps gain for end game users?

    • October 26, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Bondings > Companions Enchantments -> Normal Enchantments. Since R14 are REALLY expensive right now, you may want to do 13 first and then slowly progress towards 14.

  • October 25, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    also, all your pictures of the weapon enchants say 13 maximum? and lightning says 33 percent of weapon damage as lightning? that seems like an extreme nerf as well…….

    • October 26, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Weapon and Armor Enhancements get one additional level, normal Enchantments and Runestones two.

      The percentages on all weapon enhancements scale with power and buffs. It’s not an absolute value and should be higher on most chars (this was taken on preview on a naked toon). They should really make the tooltip more accurate to prevent these type of misunderstandings…

  • October 25, 2017 at 11:19 pm

    so lightning was explained, never paid attention to the weapon damage increasing with power…… and 13 is the max level for weapon enchants i hear not 14

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