So I really like Oak, but I find it hard to survive the early game, and even if I do I have an impossible time killing off other DGs. By the endgame I am usually unkillable, provided there's a source of creeps around for me to leech health off of... but I hardly ever pull in any kills, which leaves me with little gold.
Well lets see what we can do. The person I play with most plays Oak and he doesnt have any sort of trouble killing DG's. Maybe I can impart some of his success on you.
Level 1, I'll pick up the Universal Gadget and Banded Armor and go run right for a creep lane. I don't pick my power until I see what's going on up there; if there's another DG I will usually engage and see how it goes. If I'm starting to lose, I'll pick my shield as a 'holy shit, eject!' button, and if I'm managing to push them back (unlikely, but sometimes it happens) I may grab penitence to try and wrestle an early kill. 95% of the time, I've got Shield, though, as I have the universal gadget to try for that if I want it. I try and focus on the creeps instead of the other DG, as I need to level quickly to 2 for Divine Justice. I usually get pushed back by any other DG at this point, at which point I shield and heal with the Universal Gadget and get back in there.
Ok I see things going badly already. Universal Gadget should not be bought early game. Heals Less then a potion, costs twice as much and has a longer cooldown. If you were to buy 2 potions instead you would get twice the life healed and be packing enough health to chase for a kill against a slower demigod. Personally Id go without either and invest in another item such as a helm or gauntlets for more mana/damage. Hell even a teleport scroll would be better as you would get to a flag, cap it and get to a wave before the waves meet. This means you end up level 2 before half the enemy wave has died, put your point in, gain some life from the rest of the wave and when it is dead, go find another flag to cap. Doing this will have you at level 3 during the 2nd wave. BIG difference at the beginning of the game. Capping flags in levels 1-4 is the best way to get EXP early game. If you go the 2 potion route, you should be the one staying in the lane while your oponent backs out to the crystal or safe tower range. Point being your gimping your start by taking the gadget. Its just too expensive for what it does (nice that it has 2 uses, unfortunately, the cost is WAY too expensive for either one or the other. The other thing you can do to help your beginning game is click teh shop as the screen is spinning in, buy your item and start walking immediately. Choose your skill and favor item on the way. My friend usually starts with penitence as it is ranged (easy harassing) offers a ministun, which is incredibly useful, but just needs practice and more importantly a debuff. The penitence debuff is INCREDIBLY important when you and a team mate try and focus a DG. It also changes the field of battle for you as your oponent is slower and takes more damage. I would start with that one if I were you.
Level 2 is ALWAYS Divine Justice. The health restoration is all that keeps me in, but between it and shield I can usually stick it out a bit longer. I'm basically ignoring other DGs while doing this until there's no creeps left, at which point I may make a few swings before having to run.
Nothing wrong with what your doing here. Only problem is it is late. You should have this up and running very quickly. In most instances before the first wave dies or at the very least before the second wave gets there. The mana gain from this will be dumped into penitence for more harassing. Ranged harassing REALLY makes a big difference early on.
Level 3 and 4 are usually Raise Dead Wards to get a swarm of minions started. They help with my staying power a little bit just by harassing the other DGs while I creep. I'm usually forced back at least once by this point, though.
My friend skips out on the minions completely so I do not have anything for you here. All I can say is be sure to use the M key to select all your spirits and TELL THEM to attack an enemy demigod. Not only do they contribute a little damage and hence harassment to the enemy DG, they are annoying as hell due to their flying nature. They cause misclicks for the enemy and causes frustration.
If you were following what I mentioned you would get another level of penitence here. Its a very good and important ability and as I write this I believe it to be the main reason you are having so much difficulty (aside from gimping yourself with a terribly buy and strat based on it at the beginning).
Level 5 is ALWAYS Surge of Faith, as the AoE helps me kill off creeps for health and stay in the lane. Creeping gets much easier at this point, but I'm still getting my ass handed to me by just about any other DG.
I would keep this the same. As you mentioned it comboing with Diving Justice really helps your staying power and kililng a wave at a time is good for both XP and Gold. I think penitence over shield when it comes to thyis point will make DG's much easier on you. No one likes being eranged harassed. If all someone has to worry about when they come at you is you shielding yourself, well, there is no reason not to try and yuo end up getting harrassed to hell. If they are being nuked/debuffed every time they harass you well, its a different story.
Level 6 is usually the next rank of Divine Justice to try and get some more staying power. If I run into other DGs at this point, I'll be working on killing creeps off before I do anything to them. I can usually mooch enough health off the creeps to survive whatever abilities the DGs blow on me, but Generals make my life so much easier if they have minions; I just focus on offing their priests or what have you, and it weakens them and keeps me in the game.
Your doing this right. At this point you run in, Penitence the enemy DG, AoE the wave and attack the DG. When penitence cools down, hit them with it again. Watching everything around them dying while having their speed debuffed, you healing and still doing more damage to them will normally signal that they should GTFO. even if it isnt true. I believe one of your problems is that your enemies arent afraid of you. Taking defensive over offensive skills does tend to do this. At this point you should be winning most confrontations. You will heal as will your wave when you oE the enemy. Enemy DG is debuffed + being harrased and you and your wave are wailing on him. At this point, if they run and you cant easilly make the kill, let the creep wave follow and go hit another creep wave in another lane and do the same tactic. Its great for gold, xp and harassment.
7-9 usually involve upping my raise dead ward and Divine Justice. I will pick up Soul Power if the opportunity presents itself, but I often wait on that till lategame... if I can afford the Heart of Life by this point, I will buy the fuck out of it and start boosting my shield so I can shield+HOL recover in fights. I still won't win most fights against DGs, but I can either force them back or hold out for quite a while as I creep.
Again I have little to say about the minions as I have very limited expereince with his. You are doing one thing right however. Shield + HoL is an AMAZING combo which you have figured out. Due to this tactic and Oaks pretty decent base Health and Armor, you shouldnt need to spend hard earned money on defense items. You should of course be doing the same as the last bracket. Into a lane, whiope out the creep wave (gain health mana) and harass enemy DG with creep wave and penitence untill they turn around and run, head to another lane and repeat. You will start getting kills and assists at this point as your teamates are now getting powerful and betwene them and your penitence you will suprise quite a few people.
By 10, I get the next Surge of Faith. I can stay in fights a bit easier now, but I have fuck all for damage, and enemy DGs can just poke me and run away constantly.
Well this will change quite a bit. With Shield + Heart and Divine Justice you have all the staying power you should need. Your other investments should all be made in offense. Penitence has a great movement speed debuff as well as a damage multiplier debuff. Im sure you see how those 2 effects dircetly counter your 2 problems. Point being, enemy DG's should be much easier as you do more damage to them, and they are slowed.
The rest of the game, I usually just max out Surge of Faith, Raise Dead Ward, and Divine Justice. I don't get the last rank of Soul Power, as it's predicated on killing enemy DGs and I can never seem to pull that off by myself. I often get about 4 ranks of Shield before I give up on it, because by that time I can just HOL my way back to full. I don't get Last Stand, as I don't want to have to die.
I agree with your choises there as well as your reasoning.
A lot of games, I won't have a single rank of Penitence because I won't know when to pick the thing up.
Well, I think we can concure this will solve a majority of your problem.
Equipment-wise, I will usually grab a Vlemish Helm so I can keep blasting Surge of Faith as needed. I don't normally pick up speed upgrades, although I'm starting to think I should just because shield+run doesn't work if they can catch you! I really like the Hauberk of life for both my survivability and that of the minions I'm pulling out. If I get exorbitantly wealthy, I'll pick up the Platemail of the Crusader, but I think I've been in a position to do this maybe twice. I also really like the Unbreakable Boots.
Vlemish is a great buy. Best mana to gold ratio you can get. Hopefully once you have the Heart you sell this as with Hearth + Divine Justice you should have no problem keeping your mana full. Early game though you just cant beat it for effectiveness. Speed upgrades are integral for melee characters if you want to kill demigods. While a ranged character just needs to be as fast or, sometimes just a tad bit slower then the target to net a kill, a melee DG needs to be faster so they are constantly within range of the enemy. When you combine something easy like boots of speed with the speed debuff from penitence, you should have no problem keeping up with and hence killing enemy DG's. Hauberk of life is indeed a good item. Not great, but good. However, with shield + heart, divine justice and penitence (hit them with it and THEN run, they wont catch you) you shouldnt need it to survive. Unbreakable boots are really not necessary. Neither is the platemail. If you get up to that gold amount, do yourself a favor, wait the 2 minutes and get the mageslayer. The life drain will add far more to your survivability then the platemail will and will cause you to be FAR deadlier against everything.
I never really get to use Favor Items, as the total's always borked. I've bought the anklet like 8 times and it keeps dissapearing, and most games I seem to get reset back to 0.
Thats a shame. Search the forums for the fix for it. You can apparently open a file in an editor like notepad and just change your favor points total. I havnt had this issue myself so I cant coment. Really too bad though as they open up a lot of possibilities and strateguies that arent otherwise available.
I'm hoping to get some ideas here as to how to improve my Oak a bit. If my team gets an edge and I can keep levelling, I'm a monster by the end of the game and I can just wander around the map with impunity, but my main role is capping points, pushing towers, and offing creeps. Enemy DGs give me huge problems because I can never seem to get enough damage on them to kill 'em. I've seen penitence-centered builds that focus on hunting enemy DGs, but I've had very poor luck with that as so many goddamned abilities are instant or near-instant (Sedna's pounce, Erebus' bite...) I only really get that working with hammerslam rooks or the AI when it tries to teleport away, and that's just because they're blatantly obvious. Most of the time I can get a shield up before the hammerslam anyway, so I don't have to worry about interrupting it.
Your endgame is very dependant on how you pick your skill and spend your money. Youve shown that you tend to spend bopth points and skills defensively. This, needless to say, makes you a more defensive acharacter and not much for offing enemy DG's. If we change your focus, your killing potential will change as well. The ministun on penitence really is the least of its effects. Yes you can use it to interrupt skills and when you get very good at the game and can see thyenm coming, this will indeed happen. More importantly it stops teleports. However, the harassing damage and the debuff is the real shinning point of the skill.
Anyway, dudes, I'm posting all this because I'm basically just looking for advice. If I could be a bit more threatening to enemy DGs I would have an easier time with Oak because I wouldn't have to flee lanes constantly until the endgame.
Well hopefully Ive given you enough to think about and try that you can find out what has been going wrong for you. I truly believe that a large part of your difficulty was the fact that your start was being gimped by the gadget and not having penitence. Switch it up and see what it gets you. Ive just been able to illustrate how my friend plays Oak and he does pretty well with it.
Hope it helps!