Trap 1: I am X.
How to avoid: When soloing, you are not a healer, a tank or a DPS. You are, at best, a tanky DPS. Healers and tanks work in groups because you have people doing other things for you. Pure DPS lives in groups because you never get touched, ideally. You can solo as a pure spec; and early on in Kingsmouth and the Savage Coast, you probably will have to if you really want to have all your key abilities early. But, by Blue Mountain, your life will get a lot easier if you slot in a mix of damage/survivability abilities.
Trap 2: Neglecting your second weapon; not getting a third weapon
How to Avoid: Get a second finisher ASAP. I think we're all beyond that point with our builds, but for the sake of completeness, do it. Invest into a third weapon once you have your first two up to QL6. After that, you can start making pros/cons about getting a fourth weapon or taking your current weapon trio to higher QLs; but the third weapon is key for the flexibility you're going to want for Blue Mountain and beyond. Picking your three weapons should be relatively easy; pick two weapons you like to start (almost any combination will work through the early zones.) Then, pick a third weapon that pairs nicely with at least one of your other ones and fills a gap in the build types you'll want for soloing below. If your two weapons are both magic or physical, make sure it covers the other damage type. After your third weapon, decide if you want flexibility in weapon choice or builds. I went for weapon choice, but specializing in what you've picked is a valid choice too (and it is probably actually better if you have progression on the mind.)
Trap 3: +Attack or +Heal Blue Gear
How to Avoid: Health matters. Part of being a tanky DPS when soloing is that you have to be able to survive. I don't care how you do it (tank abilities, kiting, stuns, self-heals, etc.), but the easiest, simplest way to survive is to trade out one or two of your +Attack primary/+Health secondary gear for +Health/+Attack gear (or +Health/Heal gear if you have loads of self-heals). Blue gear (the kind that provides a huge boost to one of Health, Attack or Heal) is great for instances. But when soloing, you have to really decide if you can sacrifice health for the attack boost. You can, especially if you build extra tanky from skills to compensate for lower health, but it is good to not fall into the trap of being a glass cannon. Now, once you have geared past normal quest soloing, you can go as a glass cannon because your damage will be astronomical compared to what mobs can take. But during your progression, out going damage is not going to scale fast enough to safely be a glass cannon, at least, not with the margins of safety I usually prefer.
Trap 4: Fighting to the Death!
How to Avoid: Decide whether you are running at about 60% of your health. Any lower than that and an escape will be a very near thing. Save yourself some deaths and employ the better part of discretion (rank cowardness) earlier. Have at least one stun, root or hinder to give you an edge when you decide to cut and run. If you plan to death travel, remember to unequip your gear before /resetting.
Trap 5: The mob's immunities surprised me!
How to Avoid: Read the buffs mobs have, especially the yellow ones. This becomes more important the farther in you are. Sometimes, things are just resistant to magic damage. Swap to a physical build if you can. Some things can't be hindered. Do not try and kite them. Here's why getting that third weapon matters. You should, ideally, have at least one physical and one magical out of your three. In BM (and Savage Coast, but it isn't as noticable there), some things are phased in or out, taking less damage from one source of damage. Cover your bases; flexibility and synergy!
What Builds Should I Be Building?
There are three types of builds you should initially be looking to load out. Most weapons, just from the inner ring, combined with your main weapons, should be able to get you some working semblance of these. Your third weapon is probably going to be chosen to help you fill out a build your initial pairing has trouble handling, or enabling a single target build if you are primarily a tank/healer who neglected your damage capabilities in your early AP investments to get to the outer ring heals or the Miscellaneous tree threat builders.
- Build 1: Single target. This is for killing boss-type mobs and strong solo mobs. This should, ideally, include interrupts/stuns or a healing debuff to help you against enemies that have healing or have strong abilities you have to stop but can't dodge. Once you have enough abilities, you could have a heal debuff build and an impairment focused build; it doesn't matter which you start with, pick based on your weapon. I had pistols, so I built something focusing on The Business/Magnum. If your chosen weapons don't have strong single target builders you like, look at Pistols, Fist Weapons and Blood. Pistols bridge you into Weakened (with The Business), while Fist Weapons and Blood bridge you into Afflicted/Penetrate (with their single target builders).
- Build 2: AoE. Packs will kill you quickly without AoE. You can build a bit of flex into a single target deck by adding in something like Wanted or Both Barrels as a second AoE finisher for a weapon, but, ideally, you'll also have an AoE builder. Shotguns, Blades and Chaos have great ones early on in their skill trees that don't require a huge investment, making them an ideal third weapon if your first two lack in AoE.
- Build 3: Endurance. Sometimes, you just can't win in a DPS race against a single mob (I'm thinking of some of the stompier things when I was fresh in Blue Mountain and the Savage Coast). Instead, build a deck that has a lot of sustain. I used Chaos/Blood, but pretty much anything that incorporates either healing or tanking will work. The goal is just to outlast the mob. For this, any of the traditional tanking weapons or healing weapons work, though Chaos is probably the best, coming with an excellent early defensive self buff, an AoE that inflicts Weakened and gives you a protective ward, and an early Elite active that inflicts impaired and pulls casters to you.
How Do I Know My Build Works?
Test it. Blue Mountain can be frustrating, but most synergistic builds should handle it just fine. If you want to quickly check if you're good to go, zone in from the Savage Coast and follow the road. You'll pass Sarge, the Asylum and come to where the road curves. Before the bridge, you'll find an SUV with a note (and a SQ!) pinned to the windshield. Read the note and go find the quest mobs by the little house. They are about par for the course of the zone, as far as single mobs go.
You have a big stompy thing with gobs of health but poor defenses; a quick, fast attacker that will chew you up without defenses; two healers who pack a punch; and a mob with a strong defense buff where you'll need penetration to pierce through, solid defenses of your own to outlast or significant single target burst. Until you get geared from Blue Mountain and beyond, you'll need to have flexible builds to tackle this SQ, so it is a really good spot to check yourself. If you can down them, not only do you get some nice, quick XP, but you should feel confident that your build is good for the rest of the zone.
I posted this to my guild in The Secret World, but I thought: You know what? I should share this. So, I shared this.