Detailed guide on Mag & Mag Prime. Also covers weapon choices, mods, and general playstyle.
Mag – Tips, Tricks, and Builds
With the recent warframe buffs Mag has gotten some much needed and much appreciated (positive) attention from DE and I’ve noticed a lot of people giving her a fresh look. Personally, I feel that Mag has been a criminally under-rated ‘Frame for a long time now, but even I have to admit that she’s never been the easiest frame to play and a lot of her mechanics are obtuse or confusing.
Thankfully the recent buffs made her much easier to play and build. Unfortunately they have, if anything, added to the confusion and obtuseness of her mechanics. Given this I’d like to try and she some light on Mag’s quirks, how you can get the most out of her in her new buffed state, and share a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up.
This guide is intended for players of all skill levels. Let me know if you feel I’ve missed something.
This guide is also intended as a companion to Mag’s Wiki entry on her abilities. There’s some hard values and other info in there that’s not in here. Keep in mind it still needs some updates from the recent patch.
A brief note on Magnetic Damage
Mag can’t really be properly discussed without first discussing Magnetic damage. Every one of her abilities deals Magnetic damage in one way or another, and this is often held up as a reason Mag is a sub-par Warframe. Personally, I feel that this is not the case. While it’s true that Magnetic Damage has no particularly strong bonuses, only dealing additional damage against Shields, it also has no particularly strong weaknesses either. The only health type that Magnetic damage is reduced against is Alloy Armor, which is one of the least common health types in the game, only being used by Bombards, Elite Lancers, Eviscerators, Napalm, Nox, Bursa and the corrupted variants of the aforementioned Grineer units, as well as some Bosses. More importantly however it’s an armor health type which means it can be removed, as we’ll see when we get into Mag’s abilities.
That aside this means Magnetic Damage deals fairly consistently with enemies of all types and factions, being only slightly disadvantaged against some Grineer and advantaged against the Corpus. Compared to most other damage types it performs quite well against a wide variety of targets, only being generally out-classed by Corrosive damage which has two strengths and is only bad against Proto Shields.
All values below are for the fully leveled version of the ability. For full stats see the Wiki page.
This is the most straightforward of Mag’s abilities. Offering good CC and moderate damage in a fairly cheap and effective package this is a solid and uncomplicated ability, at least by Mag’s standards. Pull will yank every enemy that isn’t immune to CC off their feet and fling them in Mag’s general direction, often dealing secondary damage from impacts to terrain. Note that CC immune enemies include Heavy Gunners and Bombards who are in the middle of their slam animation. The damage as well as the strength of the yank effect is affected by Ability Strength with minimum Ability Strength of 40% barely moving enemies and ~180-200 Strength sending them flying over Mag’s head.
Pull is a one-handed ability so if you find yourself in a tight spot casting Pull is always an option. Enemies will often ragdoll for several seconds and take another couple of seconds to get up giving you at least a 4-5 second window to react and follow up. Note that Pull, unlike some other CC abilities, doesn’t have any cooldown on when enemies can be affected again.
You can extend the time enemies are in the air by jumping into the air and casting pull towards enemies on the ground. This will fling them into the air and in large open environments this can be good for a lot of air time, albeit at the cost of making the enemies difficult to hit.
Note that while flinging enemies off cliffs will kill them it won’t provide Affinity or Drops and therefore this should generally be avoided if possible.
Pull also causes enemies to drop Energy Orbs at an increased rate when they’re killed by Pull but this is only really useful at low levels. At high levels Pull just doesn’t deal enough damage to make use of this reliably, even with full Power Strength.
Probably Mag’s most well known, poorly understood, and simultaneously over and under-rated ability Magnetize has a lot of weird interactions and poorly understood effects that I’m going to try and document here.
First off, Magnetize is not the same as a Bullet Attractor effect. While superficially similar Magnetize is much more powerful and useful. To illustrate this I’m just going to list off the basic effects of Magnetize:
- Magnetize will draw nearby enemies towards the Magnetize target from outside the bubble and the bubble is attached to the target enemy and moves with them.
- Magnetize increases damage against the target by a multiplier which is 2x by default and multiplies by power strength.
- All projectiles, both enemy and allied, that pass through the Magnetize bubble will be stopped and redirected to the center of the bubble. If they impact an enemy they will deal damage to that enemy including any location hit-modifiers.
- Any Polarize shards within range of the bubble will be drawn to its center and will be added to its damage total. These shards are not consumed and can be used by multiple Magnetize bubbles so long as their 30s duration has not expired.
- The raw damage of projectiles that impact the Magnetize bubble will be added to the damage total for the Magnetize bubble. ** 25% of this damage will be dealt to all enemies within the bubble every half second as Magnetic Damage. ** Every time this damage ticks the base damage of the tick is added to the damage dealt by Magnetize when it detonates.
- If the target dies with Magnetize active the bubble will detonate when its duration expires dealing 300 base damage plus any bonus damage from ticks as Blast damage in a 15m range.
- Only 4 Magnetize bubbles can be active at once. If a 5th bubble is cast the oldest one will act as if its duration expired.
That is a lot of effects, and we’re not even really done explaining everything about them.
First off, and most important for Mag’s gear, Critical Hits, and Multishot from hitscan weapons, aren’t taken into account when adding damage to the bubble. The shots will still be redirected but Magnetize will only add the raw damage of one bullet to the absorbed damage. Projectile weapons with multishot don’t have this restriction however, ex: the Detron or Drakgoon.
Additionally only the projectile’s damage is added, this means that weapons like the Torid or Ogris that deal most of their damage from an AoE effect rather than direct impact won’t have that damage added to Magnetize, only projectiles that impact the bubble and Polarize Shards add tick damage.
On top of all of that projectiles with punchthrough will continue to orbit the center of the bubble and continue to hit enemies until they either disappear, fail to penetrate something, or Magnetize ends. This doesn’t benefit Magnetize’s tick damage but it can still be useful to take into account.
Since Magnetize redirects both allied and enemy projectiles it can be used to shut down dangerous enemies and block off choke points. Often a strong enemy will kill themselves and nearby enemies with their own fire without any help from Mag.
Polarize is one of Mag’s most versatile abilities and I’ve seen it routinely under-rated by players. Polarize has several effects but thankfully they’re much more straight forward than Magnetize’s spaghetti of interactions.
First let me explain Polarize’s range. It’s one of the oddest AoEs in the game being affected by both Range and Duration. Range determines the distance the wave starts at and then it travels out at a constant rate based on Duration. Enemies and Allies can only be directly affected once by a single cast of Polarize, anything with the initial radius will be affected on cast, while others will be affected if they contact the wave.
Polarize has the following effects:
- Polarize deals 400 damage to the shields of enemies it hits that that have shields.
- Polarize strips 400 armor from enemies that have armor and no remaining shields and deals damage to the target equal to the armor removed as Finisher Damage.
- Polarize will restore 400 shields to allies it hits. This includes Mag’s own companions, any objectives including Cryopods and Operators, and Mag herself.
- Enemies damaged by Polarize will send out a pulse of Magnetic damage that hits every other enemy with 8 meters. Damage falls off with distance and the pulse travels through walls. Enemies take no damage from their own pulse but will be hit by every other pulse they are in range for.
- Enemies damaged by Polarize produce several shards which store 50 damage each modified by stripped armor and Power Strength. These shards last for 30 seconds unaffected by Power Duration. These will be drawn towards any nearby Magnetize bubbles and will add their stored damage to the Magnetize’s pulse effect when they contact it. Shards are not consumed by Magnetize.
- Shards will not be dragged into the Magnetize bubble from outside it, so it’s sometimes best to cast Polarize after Magnetize. ** The amount of damage stored by shards was changed in the recent update and is currently not well understood. Based on my testing there seems to be an exponential component to the damage increase but beyond that I am unsure. For reference Polarize seems to do about 12.5 damage per enemy at 40% Power Strength, 36 damage at 100%, 62 at 1.3, and 148 damage at 200%. The damage is also locational and affected by body part multipliers and may also be affected by the Power Strength Magnetize is cast with.
The three biggest uses of Polarize are completely murdering groups of Corpus, healing allies and objectives, and following up an Augmented Crush to strip remaining armor from enemies at high levels or just completely stripping them by itself at low levels. Adding damage to Magnetize, while very nice, is often a secondary or tertiary effect of any of the other uses.
What makes Polarize so good against Corpus is their general lack of armor and their tendency to cluster in groups around shields ospreys. Polarize, even at very high levels, will often kill shield osprey and heavily damage the groups of Corpus they’re protecting.
The healing effect is also very useful for saving defense objective, your own Sentinel, and keeping allies topped up on shields.
This is the ability that got the largest number of changes to it in the recent patch and it really shows. For a start those of you who disliked Crush’s long casting animation can ditch Natural Talent.
Crush has two main effects.
First it lifts all enemies with range or that wander into range into the air and deals several ticks of damage to them over its short casting length, totaling 1500 damage, and drops them on the ground. With a decent range build this generally has the effect of stopping anything within a large radius from shooting at you or anything else.
Second, and new with the latest changes, Crush will restore 40 shields on cast and 25 per enemy hit to Mag and every ally within range, any excess shields will be added as Overshields (normal max Overshields is 1200 over base shields).
This means that Mag can heal and buff her allies shields quite substantially as well as fully restore her own on demand including Overshields. This essentially allows Mag to forgo Redirection as a maxed Redirection only brings Mag Prime to 1110 shields, while a full Crush buff gives her 1650.
Overall Crush is a very strong ability, able to CC enemies in a fairly wide radius when built for range as well as let Mag basically spit out full shields on demand so long as enough enemies are nearby.
Mag is in the fairly interesting position of having three very strong Augment choices out of her four available. Personally, I run two, though for the most part this is up to personal preference.
To get it out of the way Greedy Pull is not one of the aforementioned augments. It has a little utility but generally speaking it’s not worth using except for fun.
Magnetized Discharge is a fairly useful augment as it allows you to detonate Magnetize Bubbles on demand without having to cast four more. It also gives the explosion a high chance to Disarm all enemies it hits but since a good Magnetize detonation should rarely leave survivors this effect is somewhat mediocre in my opinion.
Counter Pulse is the Shield Polarize augment. It jams weapons and disabled Robotic enemies for 4 seconds modified by Duration. This gives Mag some quite strong persistent CC against most enemies, though I don’t recommend taking it against the Infested as it does almost nothing to the majority of Infested enemies.
Fracturing Crush is hands down the strongest augment here though, and I highly recommend taking it if you’re building to make Mag Sortie viable. With this augment Crush strips 50% of current armor from every enemy it hits and roots them to the ground for 7 seconds afterwards. The armor stripping is capped at 80% and is based off of current armor rather than base armor, but this doesn’t matter too much because we have Polarize which strips flat amounts. For reference you need 160% Power Strength to cap out Fracturing Crush. I’ll go into this more in Combos, but the power of this augment really can’t be under stated since most armor-stripping abilities either strip far less or only remove armor temporarily.
NOTE: It’s been brought to my attention that Fracturing Crush is technically temporary armor stripping but is made permanent if the enemies are hit with Polarize (or, I would assume, any other form of permanent armor stripping) while the effect is still active.
Mag is a played best when her abilities are comboed together to devastating effect. This makes her a fairly technical frame to play though, and good energy management and situational awareness are very helpful in setting up her combos to maximum effect and not finding yourself out of energy and in an awkward spot.
The best Combo in Mag’s arsenal is the combination of Polarize, Crush with its augment, and Magnetize especially against high-level Grineer. Crush will CC enemies and strip most of their armor, Polarize will remove most if not all of the rest with 1-2 casts, and Magnetize will provide supplementary CC and damage getting a nice boost from Polarize. All told with armor stripping and Magnetize’s damage multiplication this can easily result in dealing 20-50x normal damage compared to shooting a single Grineer with all of its armor, except it deals that damage to an entire room.
Against Corpus the same Combo still works but you’ll want to cast Polarize first and then Crush to maximize damage and Polarize Shard generation since against Corpus Polarize has little to no armor to work with but the high amount of shields means that Polarize will often do half the work on its own. I still recommend the Crush augment for dealing with Bursa and a few other armored Corpus units, but it’s not required against them.
Pull can be used to group enemies together to some extent to set up a combo of the other three but this can be a bit difficult. You can make it easier though by using Crush to stop the enemies in mid-air and prevent them from flying out of range again. You can also make use of corners, walls, or other convenient bits of terrain to pile enemies together with Pull.
All of Mag’s abilities are affected by Power Strength and Range, and Magnetize and Polarize are affected by Duration. Range affects the range of Pull and Crush and the starting radius of Polarize as well as the size and blast radius of Magnetize. Power Strength affects almost all of the above listed multipliers and raw values except for the percentage of damage absorbed by Magnetize. While Duration may not sound very important longer duration Magnetize and wider radius Polarize are both very useful, especially with Magnetize’ blast damage building over time, and it should not be neglected. Note that Duration does not affect the lifetime of Polarize shards.
My personal recommendation would be to prioritize Range first followed by Power Strength up to ~160% and then Duration. I personally don’t run any efficiency on my build but I’m also using Primed Flow and a Synoid Simulor to keep my energy up, so how much Efficiency you want is down to personal preference.
Rapid Resilience – Crush granting massive amounts of Overshields also opens up the option of not using any of the traditional defensive mods and instead use Rapid Resilience. This has the advantage of taking Slash and Toxin procs and turning them from something immediately lethal into a fairly minor annoyance. This works best if you also have some way of keeping your health up, whether that’s an allied buff or a Medi-Ray on your Sentinel. Operator abilities or Arcanes also work but are harder to get.
Growing Power – If you’re not going to Forma Mag’s aura slot, and with her armor stripping I personally don’t recommend it, Growing Power is one of the best options for Mag’s aura. Mag should be using a status leaning weapon thanks to Magnetize’s lack of benefit from Crit weapons so Growing Power synergizes nicely. You can also use a weapon-damage aura to boost the damage pumped into Magnetize, but Growing Power boosts the Magnetize damage multiplier which benefits everyone regardless of weapon.
Flow/Primed Flow – Highly recommended, even with Efficiency Mag is very energy hungry and the ability to drop several abilities in quick succession is extremely valuable.
Quick Thinking – Save yourself some pain and avoid this mod. Mag has plenty of CC and the ability to spit out shields at a rate that should, generally, far exceeds the conversion of Energy to HP of Quick Thinking without the added annoyance of a stun from “strong attacks”. Played correctly Mag is actively hurt by this mod, and played incorrectly this mod is only draining your energy pool and turning a quick death and revive into a prolonged death from which you will return with no energy.
Natural Talent – Not worth using now. Crush has a short enough animation time, and all three of Mag’s other abilities are one-handed making this a waste of a mod slot in my opinion.
Augments – Run Fracturing Crush if you’re doing anything past around Level 40. Other than that run your preference of Magnetized Discharge or Counter Pulse. If you really don’t like either of these, or you’re running low-level content, then run Streamline or more Power Strength but for high-level content I would run two augments. Mag’s augments are fantastic and if I could run three of them I would.
Exilus Slot – Run whatever you feel like. I personally run Cunning Drift because more Ability Range is always good on Mag. Be aware that Coaction Drift doesn’t work with Growing Power as of this post. Almost any Exilus mod is going to benefit Mag in some way, whether it’s parkour bonuses, knockdown recovery, or Enemy Sense to better line up Crush casts for more shields.
Weapons and Arcanes
Since Arcanes are much more accessible, and soon to be more easily swapped, I figured I should cover them here along with weapons.
Arcane Energize is a solid choice, Mag is very energy hungry and benefits a lot from this augment. I also recommend the Operator Arcanes Magus Elevate or Magus Nourish to keep up Mag’s HP pool if an ally can’t heal you. In any configuration Mag is vulnerable to chip damage against high-level enemies and this helps with that significantly. Don’t bother with Arcane Grace or Victory, percent healing doesn’t help Mag much since she’ll never have a large health pool.
Otherwise I’d fit whatever damage Arcane helps your Magnetize focused weapon. Crit boosting Arcanes aren’t going to help much, though ones that trigger from Crits are fine since Magnetize ensures lots of projectile hits. Slash or Toxin proc resist can also help if you find yourself dying a lot.
For weapons Mag wants to run anything that will add plenty of damage to Magnetize. This is where the stereotypical Mag + Lanka comes from, and while that’s still a solid choice it’s not the only one or even the best one. The Lanka has the advantage of high damage and punch through on a projectile so it benefits from Multishot, but it has a low fire-rate and Mag doesn’t need the range it trades DPS for.
The Drakgoon actually has better damage per shot, faster fire-rate, and a quicker charge time as well as 2m of base punch-through on charge shots which is more than enough and its pellets bounce off surfaces. The Arca Plasmor also has good damage, status chance, and fires a projectile as well. I personally use the Detron, leaving my primary slot free for the Synoid Simulor for energy regen. Personally I would only build one weapon around Magnetize and use the other to cover caps in that first weapon.
The Miter is good for similar reasons to the Lanka but has less damage in exchange for more fire rate and a less crit and more status-focused build. It also has the Neutralizing Justice augment which lets you permanently pop Nullifier Bubbles easily, which is very useful for such an ability focused ‘Frame.
Any weapon that has good base-damage and/or fires a projectile is a solid choice, and Mag has enough damage buffing that I’d basically leave this to personal preference unless you’re looking to hang out in a Survival for a few hours. The one thing to avoid is hit-scan based shotguns at least if you’re going for Magnetize damage, which is depressingly ironic as Mag Prime was released with the Boar Prime, which is one of the worst things to pair with Magnetize but would be fantastic if this wasn’t the case.
EDIT: Going to throw in a strong recommendation for the Supra Vandal. I didn’t have it when I wrote this guide but it’s since come back with Baro and I love it to death. It works well with Mag’s kit in a status/damage setup, especially with a Riven, and gives her some nice range while adding good damage to Magnetize, and it has energy regen from the Suda augment. I personally run Gas + Electricity for a hilarious CC cannon, but even a more standard hybrid/crit setup works great with Mag.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this write-up, found it useful, and maybe learned something even if you’re a veteran Mag player. With these latest changes I really think Mag is in a great spot and I’ve been using her for the vast majority of Sortie missions to good effect, especially against Enhanced Armor sorties which Mag will chew up and spit out when fully build out. Or more accurately crumple into a little ball and throw around.
Lastly this is my build. I’m not going to recommend you copy it, swapping Continuity for Streamline
and Magnetized Discharge for Counter Pulse (EDIT: I’m just running Counter Pulse, I simply haven’t needed Magnetized Discharge and being able to CC all the guns in a room is too useful to give up) is strictly speaking a more versatile and easier to play build but feel free to use it for inspiration. The main downside is the careful ability management required for this to work well, and I’ll fully admit that I’ve jumped into a Sortie drunk and spent half of it on my butt asking for a revive because I screwed up and had no energy left.
EDIT: As a note for future readers I’ve basically swapped Magnetized Discharge for Counter Pulse full time. I wasn’t getting enough use out of Magnetize (frankly I rarely find I need it) to make the augment worthwhile and Counter Pulse combined with the Crush augment shuts down everything within about 40 meters of me for 5-10 seconds. /EDIT
If you’re looking for a slightly easier to play and less min-maxed build this might be more fun for you and if you absolutely can’t stand Rapid Resilience swap it for Vitality. Ignore that it says “Shield Transference”, Warframe Builder doesn’t have Counter Pulse yet.
Also if you’ve been enjoying Mag since the changes or before that please post your build(s) in the comments!
PS: I found at least two things over the course of this write-up that weren’t on the Wiki, so that was fun. Thanks to the people in another thread a few days ago who pointed out that Pull’s yank effect is tied to Ability Strength specifically. If anyone wants to contact me about trying to reverse engineer DE’s Polarize equation let me know. I have some data but not enough time to figure out the equation that produces it. Data and observations in comments.
Couple of quick things I forgot or that others have pointed out.
First off, Polarize doesn’t seem to drag in shards from outside the bubble currently. This may have been a trick of the Sim having AI turned off but I don’t think so. It’s possible this is a bug and will be fixed when DE realizes, but I’m not sure.
Second, I neglected the Miter in my list of viable Magnetize weapons. It deals good damage, has some nice utility in its ability to murder Nullifier Bubbles, and that aforementioned weapon augment grants Mag some useful health regen. It’s good for basically the same reasons the Lanka is good, innate punch through, high damage, and projectile based damage making Multishot add its damage to Magnetize.
I also don’t think I ever explicitly pointed this out but when you fully remove an enemy’s armor their health-type changes, so against enemies resistant to Magnetic Damage that ceases to be an issue if you simply remove all their armor.
For completeness and in case anyone isn’t using the Wiki entry as a companion to this guide (that’s mentioned at the top now) I should mention that “Targets of Magnetize” take additional damage from Mag’s abilities. That said, I have never played around this or found it to be significant enough to take into account, and the calculations used by each ability are slightly different. I’m also unsure if “target” means anything in the bubble or just the initial target of the ability itself and I’m out of time for faffing in the Sim this week :/
It’s been pointed out that I failed to mention the effect of Ancient Distruptors on Magnetize. Their aura significantly shortens the Duration of the ability which makes them a significant danger that should be dealt with at a high priority in any sort of Magnetize based setup.
NOTE 4: Swapped Magnetized Discharge for Counter Pulse in my normal build. See the note above on that.
I’ll also note that you apparently can’t manually trigger the Magnetize if the target’s body disintegrates, which is a bit of a pain since while it normally sticks around sometimes it doesn’t, often when they’re killed by Radiation it seems, and since I use a Detron… yeah.
Original Link – Continuation of discussion