If you’re playing Shadowrun Hong Kong as a Mage, you’ll want to know how to optimize your build for the best, most OP shadowrunning action you can get. There are a ton of builds you can make in Shadowrun Hong Kong because of its flexible Karma system. This guide will teach you how to allocate all your karma for the best possible Mage build and what equipment you’ll want to acquire.
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The Most Broken Build in Shadowrun Hong Kong
Not all races are created equal in Shadowrun Hong Kong, and the best choice for a race when it comes to making a Mage is Dwarf, by far, as they get the highest maximum for Willpower. However, with the build that we’re going to be using it honestly doesn’t matter that much which race you pick, because we’re going to cheat the system and deck you out in Cyberware even though you’re not supposed to be able to do that with Mages.
Still, since we’re min-maxing here, the correct answer is Dwarf.
Shadowrun Hong Kong Mage Stat Allocation
By the end of the Bonus Campaign in Shadowrun Hong Kong, you’ll have accrued roughly 230-240 karma. By the end of the normal game, that number should be 215-220 or so. That’s just a rough estimate, it’ll vary by your race selection and how much of the optional Karma you collect throughout the game.
Here’s the core build, which you should be able to achieve around mid-game:
Cyberware Affinity 3
Spirit Summoning 3
That costs 120 Karma, leaving you with roughly 120 Karma left to spend. Why not max out Willpower/Spellcasting? Well, the answer is you get +3 Willpower through items/cyberware, and +1 spellcasting through items. But your build can diverge here based on how you want to specialize.
From this point you could stop developing as a Mage and start focusing on a secondary line, if you like, such as Conjuring (for Haste IV) or Decking (to replace Is0bel). However, this guide is all about the perfect Shadowrun Hong Kong Mage build, so we’re going to make you the best Mage possible.
Cyberware Tank Mage
Having tried several mage builds, this is the best, most straightforward Mage build you can do. Here’s how you want to finish your stats by endgame:
Willpower 8 (11)
Spellcasting 9 (10)
Qi Casting (5)
Body 9 (11)
Cyberware Affinity 6
Quickness 6 (7)
Dodge 6 (8)
Intelligence 5 (4)
Spirit Summoning 3 (4)
That costs 243 Karma which is… all the Karma in the game basically. Having tried all sorts of different Mage builds in Shadowrun Hong Kong, this is by far the best. I tried Mage/Shaman, but the Conjuring spell line is useless except for Haste IV, which is great but totally not worth 56 Karma. I tried Mage/Rigger which is devastating but not nearly as good as Street Samurai/Rigger.
Trust me. This is the way to go. Here’s the main reason why leaning into all the tanking talents really hard is great for a mage: You get a huge bonus for standing on Dragon Lines, but Dragon Lines are almost never under cover.
With this build you will end the game with not only almost perfect Willpower + Spellcasting, but also 110 Health, 10 Armor (maximum), 7 Quickness, and 8 Dodge.
Some things that may not be entirely clear:
– You want that 5 Charisma so you can pass the 7 Charisma dialog check at the end of the game to get Spell Focus: Life Siphon 2 for free.
– You want the 1 Conjuring to be able to use a Spirit Fetish to get +1 Charisma, which also gives you a (useless) +1 Spirit Control bonus.
– You want 3 Spirit Summoning to unlock a totem, and you should pick Cobra (+1 DMG, +5% accuracy) or Fish (+10% dodge). For this build, probably go with Fish. Your accuracy doesn’t need help with those Willpower/Spellcasting stats and 1 damage is not much.
– The reason you want Cyberware Affinity is because at rank 3 and rank 6 you get bonus essence. You only get a magic penalty if you go below 6 essence, so this allows mages to equip 2 essence worth of cyberware with no bonus. Rank 6 also has the added benefit of allowing you to raise dependent skills up to whatever cyberware bonus you have, that’s how this build has more points in Spellcasting than Willpower.
– Do not start with points in Cyberware Affinity, or you’ll be stuck having hand razors that take up your essence. Take the Cyberware Affinity points later.
Shadowrun Hong Kong Mage Equipment
For your weapon slot, you only have one option, since you’re not trained for anything else. Gotta use Powerbolt 4.
For your Spellslots, here’s what I’d recommend as the best spells:
Chain Lightning 2
Spell Focus: Life Siphon 2
Martial Defense 1
For your inventory, you’re going to want all the fetishes:
Imbued Hermetic Fetish (+1 Willpower, +1 Spellcasting)
Hermetic Fetish (+1 Willpower)
Spirit Fetish (+1 Charisma, +1 Spirit Control)
Shamanic Fetish (+1 Charisma)
For your Cyberware, this is the best cyberware for this build:
Brain: Pain Editor (+1 Willpower, -1 Intelligence)
Arm: Renraku Skillwires (+1 Dodge) x2
Skin: Ares Dermal Plating Alpha (+1 Body, +2 Armor)
Body: Suprathyroid (+1 Body, +1 Strength, +1 Quickness)
That’s exactly 2 essence, which uses up the essence bonus from Cyberware Affinity. Do not equip more cyberware than this.
For the Cyberware, another option is to use Wired Reflex (free self-cast Haste 1 for 0 AP); if you use that you’ve got to ditch the Ares Dermal Plating and either the Skillwires or the Suprathyroid. Honestly, I don’t believe the extra AP is worth it for the tank build given how Mage’s spell cooldowns work. I’d rather be more tanky. But up to you.