Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Magic Man

I have built various toons over the years and thought that I should put my thoughts down on what you can do to make your wizard or sorcerer that much more powerful. I will leave Cleric and Favoured Soul alone at the moment as I will admit that I have no love for a healer. I will eventually step up and develop characters that are healers but that is not what I want to discuss today. I want to cover the aspects of effective combat magic.
Frost Lance is good for single monsters
So when creating a character that uses magic the first step I guess is spending build points in the right way. Wizards are intelligence driven and Sorcerers are Charisma driven so push every point you can into those stats. It will affect the amount of mana (the blue stuff that characters use to cast spells) you have, the more mana you have the longer you can cast spells. There are feats that can increase your mana such as mental toughness and I think anyone who has played wizard or sorcerer knows the feeling of managing their mana.

So we know that we need mana but what else will help your character? There are meta feats that make a difference but the first thing I look for personally is the feat spell focus evocation. This improves the difficult check of all evocation spells, which when you go through spells is one of the most useful schools in the early and middle part of the game and if I am creating a human wizard I will use the extra feat that you get for great spell focus: Evocation. Spells like scorching ray and frost lance are part of my core spell choice for almost every Wizard to start with. Sometimes I play around with the choices but the most effective spells when I am soloing in the early/mid life are nearly all evocation so that will be my focus.
Merlin is on his 6th Life
It is slightly different for the Pale Master Wizard which is totally built around the necromancy school of magic. The sorcerer works well with Evocation but of course each Savant is focused on a particular element so players should prepare what spells they will be taking in advanced. This will identify if you should select another school other than Evocation. I would also suggest that spell penetration and great spell penetration are worthwhile feats to take as they enable your spells to work more effectively.
First Life at Cap
Depending on your choice you will want to choose weapons that increase your spells effectiveness. Be it selecting one elemental type to focus on, which is especially true on the different Sorcerer Savants, to increasing spell penetration or upping the chance of the spell doing critical damage a lot comes down to personal choice. A fire savant is very effective in the early/mid game but the higher levels see more creatures that are fire resistant. In fact the higher you go the more monsters will resist your magic so the more you need to increase the effectiveness of your spells.
I use a character slot to test builds
When in combat you will need a choice of spells to fit the combat. Ray spells like scorching ray and frost lance are effective against single targets whilst electric loop and acid blast are effective against multiple targets. I have selected a spell from each element but depending on build and magician class you will find spells that fit what you want to use. Finally it is easy to use magic but not so easy to use it effectively. The wiki and the ddo forums will go much more in depths as will I when I focus on individual builds but when starting out remember:-

Add to the difficulty check
Increase your spell penetration
Select a school of magic and use that focus to maximise your effectiveness
A mixture of area of effect (multiple targets) and single target spells is good.
Find weapons that will boost your magic: Quarterstaffs, clubs and daggers
Increase your pool of mana so you can go longer between shrines.

These are all things to consider when you are building and leveling your character.


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Comfortably Numb: A Guide to Combat Mechanics for the beginner.

This was not the thread I was going to post but as I was writing about my Barbarian and how I will be taking other lives to create a more powerful character I realised that I was making one horrible assumption. I assumed that everyone reading the blog would have a knowledge of how the combat mechanics and how in particular the melee (weapon) combat would work. But thinking about it anyone starting in the game would have no idea unless they played the pen and paper (PnP) version. I will cover the combat mechanics of spells in another piece but todays we learn how damage is calculated plus some suggestions and helping points for those using swords etc. So now prepare your mind to go Comfortably Numb.
Lots of text
 Firstly though we have to sort through the different combat options. We have single weapon fighting (SWF) with just a weapon in one hand and no shields, we have two weapon fighting (TWF) with a weapon in each hand but also includes unarmed fighting, two handed fighting (THF) single large weapon that requires two hands to control it, sword and shield combat which offers the benefit of extra protection and ranged weapons either some type of bow or a hand thrown weapon. Each combat style has different bonuses, for example SWF gives a 10% bonus to speed and +2 bonus to melee power (more on melee power later). Each character race and class are better suited to some options over others, an example of this would be a bard with the swashbuckling enhancements that apply while SWF. The term melee power is an adjustment where if you would cause 100 damage and your melee power is 20 you cause 120 damage.
Nowhere near as much text
DDO using PnP meant that when dealing with combat dice were rolled to decide if the weapon hit and if it hit how much damage was done, every character class has a base attack bonus that modifies the chance to hit. Back then we had to know all the modifiers plus or minus chance to hit, if you hit was it a critical or even a vorpal hit. This was all calculated on a twenty sided dice (d20) with a roll of 20 being considered a vorpal hit if your weapon could exploit that otherwise each range has a critical range from just 20 to 18 - 20, a critical hit is when you roll the threat figure and then roll a confirmation (there are additional possible modifiers for these) and there is a multiplier which decideds by what number the amount of damage is multiplied by either x2 x3 or x4 depending on the weapon. The base damage of each weapon is a dice roll (apart from a shuriken which is more of a coin toss) 1d4 being a single roll of a four sided dice to 2d8 for 2 rolls of eight sided dice. That is the base damage but it is not that simple/
The critical range with Improved Critical Slashing
However being a game to provoke math geeks into fits of frenzy there are other modifiers to the damage rolls, strength, dexterity and even intelligence can be used to modify the amount of damage. A strength of 12 gives you +1 to the attack and damage rolls so a dagger would do 1d4 +1 damage without anything else applied so somewhere between 2 and 5. And this is where the game really gets into the maths so will overview but people will need to explore some of this for themselves. Races and classes have benefits depending on the weapon being used, after all a dwarf who couldn't use a dwarven axe wouldn't be much good. You will hear about people building dexterity based characters and taking the feat finesse when they level up. Weapons themselves also have modifiers with elemental damage like acid, extra damage to evil characters from "good" weapons and there is bane which is focused against a single type of monster but bane damage cannot be affected by a monster's resistance. And finally my personal favourite burst damage which only occurs when you get a critical hit, burst damage will vary depending on the weapon multiplier.
Note the lower critical threat range thus less likely to trigger any bonus effects
So lets take a falchion wielded by my barbarian who has a strength of 26, the falchion is a +1 shocking burst of bloodletting with festival Icy Burst crafted onto the weapon. Base damage is 2d4 for the falchion and +1 for the weapon enchantment. We add +8 due to strength and the weapon also does 1d6 frost damage and 1d6 electrical damage. So we have (2d4 +8 +13)x melee power +1d6 +1d6 on a normal hit without adding melee power. However on a critical hit the burst effects would come into play as well as bloodletting so 2d4 +8+13 +1d6+1d6+1d10 (icy burst)+1d10 (shocking burst) + 5d6 (bloodletting II) x2. Suddenly a single blow can cause a massive amount of damage. Obviously each weapon has a different chance to cause damage, the falchion critical threat range is 18 - 20 but this can be improved if you have taken weapon focus and then improved critical of the weapon type you are using, be it slashing, piercing etc. Obviously with a falchion that would be slashing meaning my character's threat range is 15-20 on a d20 so 25% of attacks would have a chance of being critical and activating all the bonus damage. ((5+8(str)+13(BAB)+3(melee Power))x2)(+3x2)(+3x2)(+5x2)(+5x2)(+15x2) is roughly the estimated damage for the falchion and rather than complicate it anymore this will give you some idea of the damage I could cause. Two handed weapons can cause glancing blows but at this point the authors brain has gone numb so assuming every reader that is still reading (all one of you) has the same problem.
Melee Power of 13.
So you can see the mechanics of combat are complicated BUT and this is a big but all a player really needs to work out is the race and class you want to be and then the preferred weapon should be an easier choice. You can then work out what feats you need and finally you can start shopping for weapons that will fit your plans. The question always seems to be, for me anyway, play style, do you want to be able to trigger the single largest amount of damage or do you want to trigger a lower amount of damage that triggers other bonuses more frequently. For me the preferred weapons have the largest critical threat range falchions for THF, scimitar and kukri for TWF and rapier for SWF. It is all about the base (no trouble) plus multipliers and bonuses for me and although I am sure there are people out there with a much more in depth study of the maths I wanted to give my handful of readers an understanding of the basics. And if you are a new player who is interested in starting to play DDO hopefully you will be thinking about what should I play and how can I use the simple maths to improve my enjoyment, personally a good choice of weapons floats my boat.