Batter and smash gives both two afflictions at a time and both bypasses rebounding. That is huge! I've even won battles with purely battering an enemy while surging an animal every combo. That will eventually bleed the opponent and will keep stupidity stuck on enemy. The recklessness is always a big plus.
Make sure to read the AB files of those to make sure you know what you'll land on the opponent. Stupidity and lethargy are definitely life savers if you are against casters and any hard hitters.
When you go defensive and if you don't have flippy boots, fly is a big thing (doesn't work well against piety, soulchain etc.) because the enemy needs to use tentacle tattoo to drag you back down and that has balance cost, but you still have time to heal affliction/regain health.
If you like to discuss more with me, just message me ingame or ask here.