Back when I was hammering Mass effect 3 multiplayer, I came up with a shorthand for noting character builds. From what I’ve seen of Andromeda, it looks like I’ll be able to keep using the same nomenclature. It worked really well for me, so thought I’d share.

Note that this is just for skill point distribution—weapons, consumables, equipment, etc.—are not part of the equation. Each character has five skills, each of which can have up to six ranks. So I simply use a number to represent how many ranks they have in a skill, and I list the numbers left to right corresponding to top to bottom on the in-game power list.

So if I have 6 ranks in my first power, 3 in my second, 6, 6, and finally 5 ranks in my fifth power, I would write out 6 3 6 6 5. Obvious, I know. The trick is that if a power has four or more ranks, you must also describe whether those ranks were spent on the top row of the tree, or the bottom. This I do with a letter.

Any time that all selections are across the top row, I call it A. If all selections are across the bottom row, I call it B. Pretty straightforward, right? Now, if there is a combination of top and bottom row selections, I use a letter that is visually reminiscent of the pattern. I try to show that with the black line in the images below. Hopefully the correlation between letter and pattern is fairly obvious. Tilt your head 90° to the right if you can’t see it (except for V and N).

All 4 and 5 rank patterns can be described multiple ways. For example, if you have five ranks in a skill and select the top row for both rank 4 and 5, you could describe it as 5A or 5F. In these cases, use whichever description has highest priority: A/B are the highest, followed by L/J/F/T, and V/N are the lowest. It sounds way more complicated than it actually is.

If you’ve made it this far down, I commend you! Perhaps you’re wondering, “but why?” Well let me show you. The image below is one sheet of paper on which I neatly recorded my favorite build for each and every character in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. All lovingly crafted through trial and error. That sheet of paper lived by my side, and maybe one day, you’ll have one just like it by yours.

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