Best Vanguard build - Invulnerable Biotic

Best Vanguard build - Invulnerable Biotic - Mass Effect 3 (ME3)

By zanuffas
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This post covers the best Vanguard build in Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect 3 Legendary Edition.

Vanguard Build

The build relies on its unique capabilities to jump right into enemies from a long range. Once that happens you can use weapons or Nova, to shred enemies apart. To be honest, once you learn the ins and outs this class and builds makes the game very interesting

Of course, for it to work you need to know the enemy's position in the encounter as you can quickly be surrounded. So even if you are very strong there is still a chance to die

biotic charge nova combo vanguard me3

Not only that but Vanguard is extremely effective at detonating combos, be sure to read the Tactics section to understand how this can be done.

Generally, there could be two types of builds - weapon-oriented and power oriented. However, I prefer to mix them a bit as the latter becomes boring easily (but it is very powerful)

So let's get into it

Squad Point Allocation

This section covers how Squad points should be allocated for the end game on the Vanguard Build

vanguard build squad abilities mass effect 3

Power name Upgrades Order Level (Points)
Incendiary ammo mass effect 3Incendiary Ammo (optional) Damage
Explosive burst
6 (21)
cryo ammo me3Cryo Ammo Squad Bonus
Freeze Chance
6 (21)
pull mass effect 3Pull - -
biotic charge me3Biotic Charge Radius
Any (read details)
6 (21)
shockwave me3Shockwave - -
nova me3Nova Radius
6 (21)
assault mastery mass effect 3Assault Mastery Damage
Weight Capacity
6 (21)
fitness mass effect 3Fitness Durability
Barrier Recharge
Fitness Expert
6 (21)

To be honest the build does not really need a bonus power as it is powerful by itself. However, if you want to push out a bit more from it I recommend these powers:

Power name Upgrades order Description
defense drone me3Defense Drone Range
Attack Rate
Chain Lightning
This is the perfect ability for the Vanguard class as it is constantly close to the enemies. It will damage and stagger enemies multiple enemies.
fortification mass effect 3Fortification Durability
Power Synergy
Power Recharge
In case you feel you need an additional layer of defense this is the skill to go for. However, it decreases the power cooldown, meaning that you may not be able to use Biotic Charge when you are in need.
reave me3Reave Radius
Recharge Speed
Damage & Duration
A very strong ability that will allow you to set up Biotic Explosions yourself. Then use Biotic Charge to detonate them. I take those upgrades so that it would affect multiple enemies which could then be exploited for multiple combos.
dark channel mass effect 3Dark Channel Duration
Recharge Speed
Another biotic ability that jumps from one target to another, is perfect for creating multiple Biotic explosions.

Ability Progression

This section covers detailed ability progression for Vanguard Build. This is just a suggested progression, feel free to adjust it based on your needs.

Order Skill Description
1 biotic charge me3Biotic Charge Lv 4 Take the Radius upgrade. We want to have this ability as powerful as we can very early. The upgrade will allow you to jump into a group of enemies and stagger all of them. You can this exploit with either Nova or a shotgun.
2 nova me3Nova Lv 3 unique ability to Vanguard, which uses barriers to deal AOE damage around the user. Usually, it should be used as a follow-up to Biotic Charge. However, until you reach Level 5, be careful as all of your shields will deplete.
3 assault mastery mass effect 3Assault Mastery Lv 3 Getting these abilities will give general stat bonuses. However, we are targeting one specific thing - weight capacity increase. This will improve the power cooldown bonus as weapons will be lighter.
4 biotic charge me3Biotic Charge Lv 5 Here are my recommendations, if you enjoy using shotguns, get the Weapon Synergy upgrade. However, if you only use powers and have light guns, go with the Power Synergy upgrade. To be honest, there is no right or wrong here, as once you master Vanguard abilities this bonus will be negligible.
5 biotic charge me3Biotic Charge Lv 6 Get the Barrier upgrade. This will make Vanguard almost immortal class if played correctly. The upgrade will restore shields to full after each ability use.
6 assault mastery mass effect 3Assault Mastery Lv 5 Take Damage and Weight Capacity upgrades. Now, weapons will weigh even less and the ability cooldowns will decrease even more. With this, you will have less than 2 seconds cooldown on Biotic Charge, which you can now spam any time you are in danger.
7 nova me3Nova Lv 6 Take Half Blast upgrade. Even though this will make the ability weaker, your HP will not be open for enemies to damage. Moreover, the force impact will still be enough to stagger normal enemies. For the sixth-level upgrade, both of them work. But I prefer Sustain. The thing is that usually enemy's have their protections down as I reach them. So the bonus from Pierce is lost. However, for you, this may be different.

I think this covers the base of the build. To be honest, you should be able to finish the game with what has been spent. But I think, this is not enough, and let's pump up the Vanguard build even more (it is also a perfect time to get Bonus skills)

Order Skill Description
8 Incendiary ammo mass effect 3Incendiary Ammo Lv 6 (optional) Okay now, this is the perfect time to get this ability if you use Shotguns or Assault Rifles. Get these upgrades: Damage, Headshots, and Explosive Burst. It will greatly boost damage against enemy health and armor. But only take the skill if you use shotguns, otherwise, skip it.
9 fitness mass effect 3Fitness Lv 4 Take a Durability upgrade. We want to have Vanguard high survivability so more health and shields are essential
10 assault mastery mass effect 3Assault Mastery Lv 6 The 6th upgrade depends on your playstyle. If you prefer using your powers in most cases go for Power Intensity. However, if you enjoy the gunplay and use a shotgun take Shotgun Damage
11 cryo ammo me3Cryo Ammo Lv 4 This ability is not for you but for your squad mates. Take Squad Bonus upgrade. With it, your companions can freeze unprotected enemies, moreover, there is no penalty for freeze chance to them. Moreover, this will be perfect to detonate Cryo Explosions in case they are frozen. It is the most satisfying combo in the game.
12 fitness mass effect 3Fitness Lv 6 Take Barrier Recharge and Durability upgrades. We want to further improve Vanguard's survivability.
13 cryo ammo me3Cryo Ammo Lv 6 Maximize the ability by adding Headshots and Freeze Chance upgrade. It will give greater chance for them to Freeze enemies so that you could exploit it with Cryo Explosion.

Tactics and Squad

This section will cover how to best play Vanguard build in Mass Effect 3.

Biotic Charge + Nova combo

Here is recommended combo loop that is powerful, can be used infinitely, and is a good starting ground for Vanguard. It staggers enemies and damages them

biotic charge nova combo vanguard me3

As you can see it is very simple, we use Charge to get into a group of enemies and use Nova. After that, our shields deplete and we use Biotic Charge again to restore them and stagger enemies. Rinse and repeat. Having pistols makes it even easier as all skills will have an even smaller cooldown.

Squad Cryo Ammo

This is an additional thing I recommend taking once you have core abilities covered. You can activate Cryo ammo on companions and then put Incendiary Ammo on yourself. This way you can deal large damage with Explosive Bursts and your allies will chill or freeze enemies.

squad cryo ammo mass effect 3

In some cases, if the enemy is not dead and gets frozen, you can use Biotic Charge to create a Cryo Explosion. I think it is one of the most satisfying effects and freezes other nearby unprotected enemies.

Use Combos and Companions

So I think this is the next step with Vanguard Build, where you are able to fully control the battlefield and fight any type of enemy you encounter. My general idea is to prime the enemy before using charge with an ability that they are weak to.

vanguard build biotic charge combos mass effect 3

So here is what I do:

  1. Use Liara's Singularity on a group of unprotected enemies
  2. Follow up with Biotic Charge for Biotic Explosion
  3. Target the Marauder and use Overload from EDI on it. This primes it for Tech Burst
  4. Use Biotic Charge again and detonate the combo
  5. Then target the stray Cannibal and use Liara's Warp (her cooldowns already have reset from Singularity)
  6. Use Biotic Charge to create an explosion that also kills nearby Marauder

Of course, this requires learning the layout of the map, but the general tip is to first apply some kind of power to the enemy and then use Biotic Charge to detonate it.


This is the most important part of the build that can make it go a step above without just spamming two abilities. As shown previously you need companions that can help you build up combos. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Garrus - he has Overload which is effective against barriers and shields. Moreover, he is one of the most powerful companions if equipped with Assault Rifle. There will also be situations where you fight Harvesters, and Vanguard can struggle against them. Fully equipped Garrus can take care of them
  • Kaidan - he has both Reave and Overload, making him effective against almost all enemies. He is a good match for Vanguard and can set up Tech and Biotic Explosions to exploit.
  • EDI - she is effective against all protections, primarily armors due to having Incinerate. Moreover, her passives give the largest power damage boost.
  • Liara - she is a biotics expert, has short cooldowns, and can immobilize enemies. Moreover, she has the Warp ability that can both prime and detonates Biotic Explosions. So she can help Vanguard in most situations in combat


This section will cover what equipment you should be using with Vanguard Build. I think there are a few main choices that you can take:

  • Assault Rifle - although sounds silly, this is a plausible weapon for this build. There are rare cases where Vanguard can be easily overwhelmed or fights Harvesters. Having a long-ranged weapon that is light will allow Vanguard to clear out the enemies before close-quarter combat.
  • Shotguns - iconic weapon of the Vanguard. The biggest drawback with the Vanguard build is whether you should use Nova or shoot with a gun. Try out both and see which sticks with you. If you don't shoot, check the other recommendation.
  • Heavy Pistol and SMG - these options are very light and will have minimal impact on Power Cooldowns. Moreover, they can be used at long range. This is a perfect choice if you mainly use powers.


Name Upgrades Description
m-11 wraith me3M-11 Wraith Ultralight Materials
High Caliber Barrel
This is a very light shotgun that packs a good punch. The only downside is that this weapon has a slow fire rate.
m27 scimitar mass effect 3M-27 Scimitar Ultralight Materials
High Caliber Barrel
This weapon has a decent fire rate and large clip compared to others in its category. Of course, this comes with weaker firepower, which will rarely take out the enemy with a single shot.
m 300 claymore me3M-300 Claymore Ultralight Materials
High Caliber Barrel
Take this if you know how to do reload canceling. It also has the highest damage out of all shotguns.

Assault Rifles

Name Upgrades Description
m96 mattock mass effect 3M-96 Mattock Extend Barrel
Magazine Upgrade
A very light Assault rifle that is accurate and packs a decent punch.
m7 lancer mass effect 3M-7 Lancer Extend Barrel
Magazine Upgrade
The lightest assault rifle in the game. It also has unlimited ammo, perfect for some of the boss fights where you cannot use Vanguard abilities.

Submachine Guns

These weapons are also unique as they have upgrades to boost power damage. Vanguard should always have it equipped if you concentrate on using powers.

Name Upgrades Description
geth plasma smg me3Geth Plasma SMG Magazine
Power Magnifier
By default I recommend this one, it has the highest fire rate and good accuracy. A perfect weapon for priming combos with ammo abilities.
m9 tempest me3M-9 Tempest Recoil System
Power Magnifier
This SMG has a high fire rate and decent clip capacity. However, it requires some practice due to its large recoil. It is also a very light option

Heavy Pistol

These weapons can act as heavy hitters if you also are able to land accurate headshots.

Name Upgrades Description
m77 paladin mass effect 3M-77 Paladin Ultralight Materials
Power Magnifier
It is a very powerful option for Heavy Pistol, especially with clip upgrades. However, it is not the lightest Heavy Pistol.
M 358 talon mass effect 3M-358 Talon Piercing Mod
Power Magnifier
A shotgun-like pistol that releases multiple bullets from a single shot. Also deals bonus damage to shields and barriers.
m 5 phalanx mass effect 3M-5 Phalanx Power Magnifier
Piercing Mod
This is the perfect weapon for those that want to have a short power cooldown. Moreover, it has a good fire rate and accuracy.


Here are the stats that I recommend prioritizing for Vanguard build in Mass Effect 3:

  1. Power Recharge Speed - the most important thing to improve as it will allow to combo Biotic Charge much faster
  2. Power Damage - increase power damage
  3. Weapon Damage - only if you use the weapon to damage enemies
  4. Health - this is the least prioritized stat because with some learning you will always have barriers

These are the best sets based on that, here is what armor sets I recommend to equip with Vanguard:

Name Effects
inferno armor mass effect 3Inferno Armor +30% Power Recharge Speed
+30% Power Damage
ceberjus ajax armor mass effect 3Cerberus Ajax Armor +25% Ammo Capacity
+10% Weapon Damage
+10% Power Damage
+10% Shield Regen Speed
+25% Shields
n7 defender ammo mass effect 3N7 Defender Armor +10% Health
+10% Shields
+10% Weapon Damage
+20% Ammo Capacity

If you wish to use separate armor parts here are the options:

Type Armor Description
Helmet archon visor mass effect 3Archon Visor Increases power recharge speed by 10% 
Helmet umbra visor mass effect 3Umbra Visor Increases power damage by 10% 
Helmet mnemonic visor mass effect 3Mnemonic Visor  Increase power recharge speed by 5%
Increase power damage by 5%
Helmet recon hood me3Recon Hood Increases weapon damage by 10% 
Chest serrice council armor mass effect 3Serrice Council  Increase power damage by 10% 
Chest rosenkov materials amor mass effect 3Rosenkov Materials  Increase power recharge speed by 10% 
Chest hahne kedar chest me3Hahne-Kedar Increase weapon damage by 10% 
Shoulders serrice council shoulders mass effect 3Serrice Council Increase power damage by 10% 
Shoulders rosenkov materials shoulders mass effect 3Rosenkov Materials Increase power recharge speed by 10% 
Shoulders hahne kedar shoulders me3Hahne-Kedar Increase weapon damage by 10% 
Arms serrice council arms mass effect 3Serrice Council Increase power damage by 10%
Arms rosenkov materials arms mass effect 3Rosenkov Materials Increase power recharge speed by 10%
Arms hahne kedar arms me3Hahne-Kedar Increase weapon damage by 10% 
Legs serrice council legs mass effect 3Serrice Council Increase power damage by 10%
Legs rosenkov materials legs mass effect 3Rosenkov Materials Increase power recharge speed by 10%
Legs hahne kedar legs me3Hahne-Kedar Increase weapon damage by 10% 


Thank you for reading this post on the best Vanguard build in Mass Effect 3. I covered recommended abilities and their progression, best equipment, and tactics.

Feel free to leave a comment below!


Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!