Author Topic: Dual-wielding Melee Mage  (Read 1527 times)

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2014, 02:03:32 am »


               [Sorry for the home-made quotes. The forums seem to be functioning marginally at the moment.]

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...
Any pure wizard is going to lack the AC to hold up in melee against tough bosses in Sands of Fate (and maybe even the Bioware modules), but a mage can do what is asked for against many low-level opponents.


But against enemies that weak the 5 AC won't matter anyway, that's the thing.  Those enemies will die fast enough, hit softly enough, have low enough AB, and/or won't get through the other defensive spells.  It's like taking a feat which makes you take 50% less damage from attacks which deal 5 damage or less -- the enemies who fall into the category which the feat would affect don't matter at all.


Without some statistics on how the ABs of low-level opponents are distributed in a given module, I don't see how one can be sure one way or the other. My subjective experience is that many such opponents are non-humanoids with levels in non-full-AB monster classes (like giant, animal, beast, etc.) but enough strength to do damage that adds up significantly on a mage with 14 CON. Or humanoid bandits and such with 3/4 AB classes (like rogue) who are doing damage with sneaks which is at the same threat level. Those guys may not hit all the time, even a robe-wearing mage. But, the goal is to take on those mobs without them burning through one's Premonitions and wasting heal pots and not having to rest every few minutes like some winded chump. Obviously, if they are only hitting on 20s anyway (which is not my default assumption for a mage), then +5 AC isn't advancing the goal. My contention is that +5 AC will take those shots that were hitting on 14 or 15 and relegate them to the 19  or 20 category. But, I don't have the stats on what those mobs are like or what gear a wizard would have in Sands of Fate at level 32 (which is about the right context for this question, I think, since that's when the OP was thinking to take EMA).

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...
Even later on (and this applies as well with more traditional and STR-based melee toons) many people underestimate the value of softening up low-level opponents (and even the tougher ones if you can hit them) with ranged attacks before they close enough to engage in melee. Getting in one or two shots (and more at higher levels) while that opponent is running to you can be a nice edge. Just get the hot key timing down on the weapon swap and entering stealth mode to avoid AoOs. :-)


Quite the reverse -- most people OVERESTIMATE the benefit of this at higher levels.  Switching to a bow that does 1/3 of the damage per hit and hits 20% as often is immaterial.  Let's say you manage to get two full rounds of attacks off -- this means you'll deal 13%ish of a combat round in melee.  In other words, firing at range for 12 seconds saves you less than a second of melee combat.


I am not sure what benefit is being overestimated here and compared to what. Or who most people are, for that matter. To clarify a bit, I am referring to the tactic of staying at range (outside of mob perception usually), pulling mobs singly, and getting that round or two of ranged attacks before swapping to melee weapons. As opposed to running up to a pile of mobs and engaging in melee as the first action. The benefits of the ranged-pull approach are several, though its value is as much an issue of play-style preference as anything else. If the player doesn't have the patience to pull mobs, then he won't like it even if it increases survivability.

I am also unsure where "hits 20% as often" against low-level opponents comes from? In the comment above, where "later on" simply means some point after the toon hits level 3 (where he gets the weapon finesse the OP had mentioned), it is of limited value to make level 40 assumptions. Additionally, does the 20% figure take into account that that first arrow or two is typically against a flat-footed opponent without the benefit of DEX or dodge AC? Does it account for the increased likelihood that a mob's rage and other short-term buffs may wear off sooner, helping the PC? Also, such ranged attacks can disrupt the spells or spell-like abilities of many opponents (shamen, etc.) who tend to start a fight with some minor buffing, but who have very low concentration skill (not to mention warning the PC that the opponent has at least some casting ability). And, more generally, free damage against an opponent (damage you can deal before he has any chance to hit you) will be an advantage, even if it is small. If the mob gets one fewer attack against the PC because the mob entered melee with fewer HP, that helps.

Now, are ranged-pulling tactics worth enough that a feat-starved toon should potentially cripple melee effectiveness to take WF:Bow or PBS or whatever to make ranged attacks marginally more effective? Of course not. I don't know what others are saying, but I wouldn't argue that ranged feats are anything approaching a necessity for most melee toons. At the same time, it should be noted that most SP modules will easily accommodate toons that take such feats, even when they aren't optimal from a power-building perspective. The player should feel free to do it if it makes the toon more fun for him to play.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2014, 02:19:10 am »


               Westan, the approach usually taken with wizard spell school specialization is to analyze the prohibited school, not the specialization school. The toon really gets very minimal benefits with regard to spells from the specialized school, so the major benefit to specialization is the extra spell slot per level (which can be used for an spells the wizard can cast) and the major cost is the loss of access to spells of the prohibited school. SInce the benefits are generic and the costs are specific, one makes a school decision based on the costs.

So, the reason to specialize in illusion is because the prohibited school, enchantment, has spells that one can often do without in many modules, particularly those where many opponents have immunity to mind-affecting spells or paralysis. Illusion is likely the most common specialization choice, though some choose necromancy in modules where divination spells like True Seeing and Premonition won't be useful.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Westan Willows

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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2014, 04:23:28 am »


               @ MrZork You should post that at the link MM gave me. Sorry MM but I already read that item. MrZork told me what I did not know. That is what the reason was based on. I was looking at what you got in spells not what you lost.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_Westan Willows

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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2014, 04:26:28 am »


               Btw. ShaDoOow gave me that link some time ago. It is in my fav folder.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2014, 06:04:14 am »


               And I had already explained how Enchantment (the barred school for Illusion) had spells you could easily afford to give up several posts ago: http://social.biowar...810877#17819227

Will answer MrZork tomorrow.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MagicalMaster, 25 janvier 2014 - 06:08 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_PracticalKat

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« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2014, 03:38:42 pm »


               
Quote
MagicalMaster wrote...

Quote
brendonwp wrote...

MM - It's a fun build, not for power play. I'll use spells against the bosses, but like to melee too for variety. Unlike the OC, there are no "free" level-ups, so I agree that will be tough until Level 3 and Weapon Finesse. No worse than a "pure" wizard build though.

Why do you find it more fun than the strength version, if I might ask?

And non-meleeing mage could invest more points in Constitution, for example for 20% more HP at low levels, since it doesn't care about str or dex.


I enjoy dex toons over strength ones, and the image of two weapons tracing a fiery trail of destruction is so much more appealing than whaling away with a single flaming greatsword  //shrugs//  

Quote
MagicalMaster wrote...

Quote
MrZork wrote...

Even later on (and this applies as well with more traditional and STR-based melee toons) many people underestimate the value of softening up low-level opponents (and even the tougher ones if you can hit them) with ranged attacks before they close enough to engage in melee. Getting in one or two shots (and more at higher levels) while that opponent is running to you can be a nice edge. Just get the hot key timing down on the weapon swap and entering stealth mode to avoid AoOs. :-)

Quite the reverse -- most people OVERESTIMATE the benefit of this at higher levels.  Switching to a bow that does 1/3 of the damage per hit and hits 20% as often is immaterial.  Let's say you manage to get two full rounds of attacks off -- this means you'll deal 13%ish of a combat round in melee.  In other words, firing at range for 12 seconds saves you less than a second of melee combat.

[/quote]

I can't comment in general, but I've just replayed the fight with Brother Toras with an unoptimised melee bard 9 ftr 2, and Daelan.  I had managed to get BT down to injured.  While BT was distracted with Daelan, I nailed him with a couple of acid arrows from a mighty bow, after casting from a buff removing scroll.  BT went down surprising quickly, after killing me a number of times over previously no matter my other tactics!  
               
               

               


                     Modifié par brendonwp, 25 janvier 2014 - 03:40 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_Westan Willows

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« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2014, 03:42:45 pm »


               @MagicalMaster. what I did not know(or understand) is that you were looking at the cost in spells not the gain in spells. If I look at the cost of taking Illusion the cost is zero because I don't use those spells anyway.
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2014, 08:05:20 am »


               

Westan Willows wrote...

@MagicalMaster. what I did not know(or understand) is that you were looking at the cost in spells not the gain in spells. If I look at the cost of taking Illusion the cost is zero because I don't use those spells anyway.

Are you saying you thought the following was an explanation of why we weren't suggesting Enchantment as the focus?

"Because except for Mass Haste the school of Enchantment is usually pretty irrelevant, and in many environments Mass Haste is often unneeded."

I made that statement assuming you knew how opposing schools worked and how choosing Illusion locked out Enchantment...and thus explained why Enchantment was pointless.

And then when you seemed confused I provided the link explaining about how wizard school specialization worked.

brendonwp wrote...

I enjoy dex toons over strength ones, and the image of two weapons tracing a fiery trail of destruction is so much more appealing than whaling away with a single flaming greatsword

I suppose, just seems odd since you can't even dual-wield properly until level 15-18 with that build.

brendonwp wrote...

I can't comment in general, but I've just replayed the fight with Brother Toras with an unoptimised melee bard 9 ftr 2, and Daelan.  I had managed to get BT down to injured.  While BT was distracted with Daelan, I nailed him with a couple of acid arrows from a mighty bow, after casting from a buff removing scroll.  BT went down surprising quickly, after killing me a number of times over previously no matter my other tactics!

We're not talking about archery as a general tactic, we're talking about the idea of being a strength character and switching to a ranged weapon WHILE an enemy is closing in on you rather than charging ahead to meet him.  In this case, Daelan was ALREADY in melee -- meaning your situation isn't what we're talking about at all.

The equivalent would be something like telling Daelan to stay put while you shot enemies and then only had Daelan attack once they reached you.

MrZork wrote...

My contention is that +5 AC will take those shots that were hitting on 14 or 15 and relegate them to the 19 or 20 category.

Here's why I can safely say they won't: because the mage doesn't have any other significant AC.  A full plate wearer will have an extra 4-5 AC from the full plate (possibly more, I'm being generous with the mage's Dexterity bonus) alone with an extra 8 AC from a +5 tower shield (and in something like Sands of Fate the shields go to much higher than +5).  In addition, the full plate guy will have Armor Skin for another 2 AC.  That's an extra 14-15 AC compared to this wizard (pre-EMA).  So if we assume those humanoid mobs or rogue types are hitting our full plate wearer on a 15 (unless you're assuming they're only hitting on 20s or something?) then they're hitting our mage on a 1 or better.  Even if the mage gets 5 extra AC they're still getting hit on a 5 or better which is an 80% chance -- which means the mage is getting wailed on either way and is going to be getting beat up badly.

Similar situation when comparing a mage to a high dex character.

MrZork wrote...

To clarify a bit, I am referring to the tactic of staying at range (outside of mob perception usually), pulling mobs singly, and getting that round or two of ranged attacks before swapping to melee weapons. As opposed to running up to a pile of mobs and engaging in melee as the first action.

It sounded like you were saying that if you saw a single mob in the distance, switching to a ranged weapon and shooting it as it approached you would do MASSIVE AWESOME DAMAGE compared to just meeting it in melee.

Hell, you specifically said

"the value of softening up low-level opponents (and even the tougher ones if you can hit them) with ranged attacks before they close enough to engage in melee. Getting in one or two shots (and more at higher levels) while that opponent is running to you can be a nice edge"

That's talking about getting in extra damage, not about pulling mobs away so you don't have to engage a huge group by charging in.  Pulling mobs away is a good tactic.  Expecting to do gazillions of damage at range as a strength character is not.

MrZork wrote...

I am also unsure where "hits 20% as often" against low-level opponents comes from? In the comment above, where "later on" simply means some point after the toon hits level 3 (where he gets the weapon finesse the OP had mentioned), it is of limited value to make level 40 assumptions.

I was simply referring to something like level 10+, certainly not just level 40.  Ranged combat definitely makes far more sense before you get heavy feat investments in the melee weapon and before strength and dexterity diverge to a massive extent via leveling and magic items.

MrZork wrote...

And, more generally, free damage against an opponent (damage you can deal before he has any chance to hit you) will be an advantage, even if it is small. If the mob gets one fewer attack against the PC because the mob entered melee with fewer HP, that helps.

On the flip side, spending time plinking away at a buffing caster rather than beating his face in can be a MASSIVE problem in many fights.  Sometimes there are priority targets which need to be put down fast.

I can safely say I have never been in a situation post level 10ish where I felt switching to a ranged weapon to "soften up" an approaching enemy would ever matter.  Pulling, yes.  But the actual damage dealt?  No.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MagicalMaster, 26 janvier 2014 - 08:06 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_Westan Willows

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« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2014, 12:17:33 pm »


               @MagicalMaster No. I did NOT understand how opposing school worked. Nor did I understand how you decided which school to use.'<img'>
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2014, 01:43:59 pm »


               

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

My contention is that +5 AC will take those shots that were hitting on 14 or 15 and relegate them to the 19 or 20 category.

Here's why I can safely say they won't: because the mage doesn't have any other significant AC.  A full plate wearer will have an extra 4-5 AC from the full plate (possibly more, I'm being generous with the mage's Dexterity bonus) alone with an extra 8 AC from a +5 tower shield (and in something like Sands of Fate the shields go to much higher than +5).  In addition, the full plate guy will have Armor Skin for another 2 AC.  That's an extra 14-15 AC compared to this wizard (pre-EMA).  So if we assume those humanoid mobs or rogue types are hitting our full plate wearer on a 15 (unless you're assuming they're only hitting on 20s or something?) [...]


LOL, yes, quite often that's about right. Not always, of course, but these are mobs in SP modules! These modules are not typically built with power builders in mind and, particularly in the epics where the OP is looking at EMA, their mobs aren't going to really touch a decently-built and well equipped sword+board fighter one-on-one unless they get somewhat lucky. And, frankly, while I wouldn't consider the average mob to be a big threat (maybe the mob commanders would be a bit more) even to a robe-wearer, I think that's fairly typical of mobs in SP modules. They primarily present a danger in numbers. For certain, it is not unusual for mobs in SoF (and I am pretty sure HotU is no different). Once again, most SP modules have plenty of mob fights where, insofar as straight combat is concerned (not accounting for traps, combat spell casting, etc.) a well-equipped fighter isn't going to get hit much.

BTW, I just checked an old saved game from Sands of Fate 2, when my character (my first epic NWN wizard) was a level 32 elven mage (29 wizard, 3 rogue) at the start of the module with 16 DEX. Now, of course, she had some tumble AC going and had gotten the nice DEX items in SoF 1 so her DEX was capped at 28, but she was not wearing AC boots leaving the first chapter (and there are some like +6 or maybe even +8 AC boots for sale in chapter 2) and her AC was 50 with EMA and a permahasted item. The mobs in one of the early encounters (greater sand beetles in the Choices in the Sand area) were attacking with AB 37. By your estimate of a well equipped fighter's AC, those mobs would only be hitting him on 20s. And, frankly, that's no surprise to me for a SP module.

(Also, I haven't played SoF in about 3 years, since it was my first non-Bioware module. But, I just checked a couple other random encounters in the sewer areas beneath Aqualis, where I recalled fighting lots of trolls. According to the Toolset, those mob trolls have AB 23! Now, of course, though there are several of those encounters, they are among the easier ones in the module. The Greater Otyughs, which are somewhat tougher overall, have AB around 34. So, basically, even a mage is at a point where EMA makes a difference.)

So, again for a couple of encounters and the mobs in the encounter would be hitting a nicely equipped fighter only on 19 or 20. They were hitting my mage on 13s with EMA, which would soon change to 19 or 20 as she made it a priority to upgrade to +6 or +8 boots pretty quickly.

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

To clarify a bit, I am referring to the tactic of staying at range (outside of mob perception usually), pulling mobs singly, and getting that round or two of ranged attacks before swapping to melee weapons. As opposed to running up to a pile of mobs and engaging in melee as the first action.

It sounded like you were saying that if you saw a single mob in the distance, switching to a ranged weapon and shooting it as it approached you would do MASSIVE AWESOME DAMAGE compared to just meeting it in melee.

Hell, you specifically said

"the value of softening up low-level opponents (and even the tougher ones if you can hit them) with ranged attacks before they close enough to engage in melee. Getting in one or two shots (and more at higher levels) while that opponent is running to you can be a nice edge"

Really?!? You are joking, right? It is a total stretch to interpret my note about getting an edge with some extra ranged damage on a pulled mob as if I had said the PC "would do MASSIVE AWESOME DAMAGE". Not even close. I am sorry, but you are too smart to need that sort of internet strawman hyperbole.

MagicalMaster wrote...
That's talking about getting in extra damage, not about pulling mobs away so you don't have to engage a huge group by charging in.  Pulling mobs away is a good tactic.  Expecting to do gazillions of damage at range as a strength character is not.

Except that I never said anything vaguely resembling "gazillions of damage". Yes, there's some extra damage the PC gets in while a mob is running up while being pulled. It's just an edge, as I said it was. In my view, starting melee with one's opponent alone and 10 or 20 HP down (more or less depending on what level we are talking about and what gear is being used) before he has had a chance to touch you is an edge. You may well disagree about the tactic or about whether it's an edge you don't care about. But, don't pretend that I claimed it was the key to some thumping victory.

BTW, I am curious if your melee types bother with magical arrows? I mean, if it's only an extra d6 per hit and they are hardly hitting anyway, there's no reason to pay more than 1 gp for a stack of mundane ammo, right?

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

I am also unsure where "hits 20% as often" against low-level opponents comes from? In the comment above, where "later on" simply means some point after the toon hits level 3 (where he gets the weapon finesse the OP had mentioned), it is of limited value to make level 40 assumptions.

I was simply referring to something like level 10+, certainly not just level 40.  Ranged combat definitely makes far more sense before you get heavy feat investments in the melee weapon and before strength and dexterity diverge to a massive extent via leveling and magic items.

I certainly agree that the advantage of the chosen specialized form of attack increases as the levels go up. I would be surprised to see 20% at level 10 or so. At least, I am pretty sure that most of my STR toons are into the epics before their ranged attacks are only hitting 20% as often as their melee attacks. You threw out a hard number (and then used it for a further calculation) so I was curious how you got it. I am an engineer myself and I generally enjoy the analytical perspective that you add to these discussions.

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

And, more generally, free damage against an opponent (damage you can deal before he has any chance to hit you) will be an advantage, even if it is small. If the mob gets one fewer attack against the PC because the mob entered melee with fewer HP, that helps.

On the flip side, spending time plinking away at a buffing caster rather than beating his face in can be a MASSIVE problem in many fights.  Sometimes there are priority targets which need to be put down fast.

Totally agree. Particularly if the PC can get the caster alone, rushing in (preferably from cover, invisible, hasted or all three) is almost always a better approach than letting him cast Invis / Greater Sanctuary / Time Stop, then buff, call summons, and start spamming Bigbys, Wails, or missile storms.

MagicalMaster wrote...
I can safely say I have never been in a situation post level 10ish where I felt switching to a ranged weapon to "soften up" an approaching enemy would ever matter.  Pulling, yes.  But the actual damage dealt?  No.

That's your call. And, once again, let me be clear that I am making no claim that damage is so substantial that battles turn on it; it's typically an issue of how many HP a toon will have lost at the end of taking down a pile of mobs or how much of his DR remains. I haven't run numbers on this, but if my toon gets a couple hits in on a mob before he gets to me, that's a bit less time the mob survives while we are in melee. Even if it only shaves a flurry off the lifetime of every few mobs, so much the better. Meanwhile, since I am pulling anyway, not swapping to a melee weapon earlier than I have to helps ensure that my toon doesn't run too far toward the target mob and alert his buddies that I am there.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MrZork, 26 janvier 2014 - 02:10 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2014, 08:09:37 pm »


               

MrZork wrote...

LOL, yes, quite often that's about right. Not always, of course, but these are mobs in SP modules! These modules are not typically built with power builders in mind and, particularly in the epics where the OP is looking at EMA, their mobs aren't going to really touch a decently-built and well equipped sword+board fighter one-on-one unless they get somewhat lucky.

Where did I mention power builders at all?  All I've considered is wearing full plate, wearing the standard items that give AC, and taking Armor Skin.  Haven't even factored in stuff like Tumble, Expertise, Dodge, RDD/PM AC bonus, etc.  Just what a fighter built with the recommend button would have.

That said, I would generally agree -- many enemies in the poorly balanced modules like the ones we're discussing have absolutely atrocious AB.  In fact, their AB is often so low that the EMA doesn't matter because the mobs barely hit the mage in the first place and are also incredibly weak in general!  I mean, you're basically saying "I want to spend an epic feat to make it so incredibly weak and meaningless enemies hit me 5% of the time instead of 15% of the time."  These enemies are such a non-issue that they're not even worth considering.

MrZork wrote...

So, basically, even a mage is at a point where EMA makes a difference.

The question is not whether it makes a difference at all, it's whether it makes enough of a difference.  Imagine if there was an epic feat which made all physical hits that dealt 5 damage or less deal 2 less damage (so 1 or 2 is reduced to 0, 3 to 1, 4 to 2, 5 to 3, and 6 and above deal normal damage).  Is this feat worth taking if you have good alternatives?

Hell no, because the only things hitting you for 5 damage or less in epic levels are enemies that are completely irrelevant in the first place.

MrZork wrote...

Really?!? You are joking, right? It is a total stretch to interpret my note about getting an edge with some extra ranged damage on a pulled mob as if I had said the PC "would do MASSIVE AWESOME DAMAGE". Not even close. I am sorry, but you are too smart to need that sort of internet strawman hyperbole.

How are you defining "soften up" then?  My point is that if it takes 30 seconds to melee a mob to death, then shooting at it for 2 rounds as it approaches will deal a whopping 3-4% of its HP (since you deal about 3.33% HP per second and you save about 1 second of melee combat per my earlier numbers).

To me, "softening something up" means WAY more than "doing 3-4% damage and saving 1 second of melee combat."

MrZork wrote...

BTW, I am curious if your melee types bother with magical arrows? I mean, if it's only an extra d6 per hit and they are hardly hitting anyway, there's no reason to pay more than 1 gp for a stack of mundane ammo, right?

Depends if gold is relevant.  If gold is tight then no, I wouldn't spend (relatively speaking) tons of money on magic arrows when that gold would be better invested into healing back any extra damage I might take (I'm better off spending 100 gold to heal 30 extra damage I take over the course of 5 fights than spending 500 gold on arrows to avoid that damage).

If I have plenty of gold, why not?

Of course, in most modules I don't even bother using magical arrows on Arcane Archers unless I'm truly overflowing with gold.

MrZork wrote...

I certainly agree that the advantage of the chosen specialized form of attack increases as the levels go up. I would be surprised to see 20% at level 10 or so. At least, I am pretty sure that most of my STR toons are into the epics before their ranged attacks are only hitting 20% as often as their melee attacks. You threw out a hard number (and then used it for a further calculation) so I was curious how you got it. I am an engineer myself and I generally enjoy the analytical perspective that you add to these discussions.


Technically, on that 20%, I did a calculation at 40 which resulted in the bow hitting 7.7% of the time and I just tripled that number to be safe.

But let's look at a calculation for level 12.  Let's assume fighter hits 75% of the time on the highest attack (which I've heard is a general standard from many people) and we started with a standard 17/13/14/14/8/8 spread.  We'll also assume we have +6 strength from items.  This means our Str modifier is 8 and our Dex modifier is 1.  We also have a weapon focus in melee so our total AB gap is 8.

Melee attack is therefore 75/50/25 = 1.5 HPR.  Ranged is 35/10/5 = 0.5 HPR.  So that's hitting 33.3% as much.

If we look at a hasted level 16 who now has +9 strength from items we have an STR modifier of 10 and Dex of 1 plus that weapon focus which means an AB gap of 10.

Melee attack is therefore 75/50/25/5/75 = 2.3 HPR and ranged is 25/5/5/5/25 = 0.65 HPR which is 28% as much.  If we drop the Haste we get 75/50/25/5 = 1.55 HPR versus 25/5/5/5 = 0.4 HPR which is 25.8% as much.

Once we hit epic levels and see Epic Weapon Focus, Great Strs, and further stat boosts come into play this gap widens even more.

But let's assume we're on a level 20 max server with Haste.  Strength should wind up at 12 modifier (22 base plus 12 from gear) while dex is still at 1.  Weapon focus means gap of 12.  Melee is 75/50/25/5/75 = 2.3 versus ranged of 15/5/5/5/15 = 0.45 which is 19.6% as much.  If we even lower relative AC by 4 to try to make it more likely for ranged attacks to hit we get 95/70/45/20/95 = 3.25 melee versus 35/10/5/5/35 = 27.7% as much.  Let's even say we add 3 dex modifier from gear -- now ranged is 50/25/5/5/50 = 1.35 HPR which is 41.5% as much.  So our best case scenario if we can add 3 dex modifier (instead of needing to use all of our gear to max strength and possibly constitution) and the enemy has relatively low AC and we have Haste has the ranged weapon hitting about 40% as much.

And, like I said, this gets dramatically worse with more levels because instead of just having the +1 Str increase every 4 levels you also get +1 Str every 3 levels from Great Str and you get an extra +2 AB from Epic Weapon Focus.

MrZork wrote...

That's your call. And, once again, let me be clear that I am making no claim that damage is so substantial that battles turn on it; it's typically an issue of how many HP a toon will have lost at the end of taking down a pile of mobs or how much of his DR remains

Here's the thing, though -- you're either obsessing over something that doesn't matter or you'd be better off moving faster.

The obsessing part is if you're in single player modules with a finite amount of resources -- because I have never seen a single player module where resources are actually tight enough that you seriously need to be concerned about saving a healing potion every fight or three (again, once you get past the first few levels at least).  You're effectively just wasting time and focused on conserving resources that don't NEED to be conserved.  Even the most consumable focused and most difficult combat campaign I've played, which would be Swordflight (note that a module needs to be both relatively difficult AND focused on limited consumables to meet this criteria), still had plenty of resources for healing if needed and you didn't need to conserve every least healing potion.

And on a PW, you're better off saving time per combat because you'll make more anyway.  In our 2 rounds case you wind up saving 11 seconds each time you just charge and meet the mob versus shooting from range.  That means you basically save a minute every 5 combats.  If we assume you're making like 100 gold per minute then having to spend an extra 50g per minute on healing potions is still a net 50 gold per minute gain for you.  Time IS money, remember?
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2014, 10:04:41 pm »


               

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...
LOL, yes, quite often that's about right. Not always, of course, but these are mobs in SP modules! These modules are not typically built with power builders in mind and, particularly in the epics where the OP is looking at EMA, their mobs aren't going to really touch a decently-built and well equipped sword+board fighter one-on-one unless they get somewhat lucky.

Where did I mention power builders at all?  All I've considered is wearing full plate, wearing the standard items that give AC, and taking Armor Skin.  Haven't even factored in stuff like Tumble, Expertise, Dodge, RDD/PM AC bonus, etc.  Just what a fighter built with the recommend button would have.

Fair enough. And, honestly, I shouldn't have used the term power building at all, since I was more thinking that those modules accommodate toons that not only aren't built optimally, but where the players also make decisions that aren't always great, like wearing a +3 will ammy into mundane combat instead of the AC ammy, or not knowing that the +2 AC vs. dragons and elementals on that Chromatic Breastplate +3 is functionally worthless. (On that latter, I suspect the Bioware guys didn't know, either!)

MagicalMaster wrote...
That said, I would generally agree -- many enemies in the poorly balanced modules like the ones we're discussing have absolutely atrocious AB.  In fact, their AB is often so low that the EMA doesn't matter because the mobs barely hit the mage in the first place and are also incredibly weak in general!  I mean, you're basically saying "I want to spend an epic feat to make it so incredibly weak and meaningless enemies hit me 5% of the time instead of 15% of the time."  These enemies are such a non-issue that they're not even worth considering.

I am not sure I'm convinced. As I mentioned, there aren't just the mobs with the very low AB. Those other AB 37 mobs were hitting my AC 50 toon fairly often (even critting) and doing between 35-40 HP per hit. For a mage (particularly an elf without high CON), that adds up. Now, as I say, she would quickly get better gear. But even with +6 Dodge AC, she is going to get hit on 14-15 without EMA and 19-20 with it. Meanwhile, EMA lets that toon equip other gear in those slots that might be more useful.

Of course, now, knowing what that sort of opponent can do (their CR from the examine function was "Easy"), I might decide not to try to melee them or at least make sure I use damage shields to speed up their demises. But, not knowing how tough a given opponent really will be is part of the game.

BTW, I suspect that many players play the Bioware modules and then some community favorites very much like Sands of Fate. So, poorly balanced or not, this will be a common situation.

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

Really?!? You are joking, right? It is a total stretch to interpret my note about getting an edge with some extra ranged damage on a pulled mob as if I had said the PC "would do MASSIVE AWESOME DAMAGE". Not even close. I am sorry, but you are too smart to need that sort of internet strawman hyperbole.

How are you defining "soften up" then?  My point is that if it takes 30 seconds to melee a mob to death, then shooting at it for 2 rounds as it approaches will deal a whopping 3-4% of its HP (since you deal about 3.33% HP per second and you save about 1 second of melee combat per my earlier numbers).

To me, "softening something up" means WAY more than "doing 3-4% damage and saving 1 second of melee combat."

Then just say that we have different notions of softening up or that the softening up I am considering has negligible impact (which I think is your point, ultimately). Don't characterize my statement as a claim of uber damage output from ranged attacks that I never made.

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

I certainly agree that the advantage of the chosen specialized form of attack increases as the levels go up. I would be surprised to see 20% at level 10 or so. At least, I am pretty sure that most of my STR toons are into the epics before their ranged attacks are only hitting 20% as often as their melee attacks. You threw out a hard number (and then used it for a further calculation) so I was curious how you got it. I am an engineer myself and I generally enjoy the analytical perspective that you add to these discussions.


Technically, on that 20%, I did a calculation at 40 which resulted in the bow hitting 7.7% of the time and I just tripled that number to be safe.

But let's look at a calculation for level 12.  Let's assume fighter hits 75% of the time on the highest attack (which I've heard is a general standard from many people) and we started with a standard 17/13/14/14/8/8 spread.  We'll also assume we have +6 strength from items.  This means our Str modifier is 8 and our Dex modifier is 1.  We also have a weapon focus in melee so our total AB gap is 8.

Melee attack is therefore 75/50/25 = 1.5 HPR.  Ranged is 35/10/5 = 0.5 HPR.  So that's hitting 33.3% as much.

If we look at a hasted level 16 who now has +9 strength from items we have an STR modifier of 10 and Dex of 1 plus that weapon focus which means an AB gap of 10.

Melee attack is therefore 75/50/25/5/75 = 2.3 HPR and ranged is 25/5/5/5/25 = 0.65 HPR which is 28% as much.  If we drop the Haste we get 75/50/25/5 = 1.55 HPR versus 25/5/5/5 = 0.4 HPR which is 25.8% as much.

Once we hit epic levels and see Epic Weapon Focus, Great Strs, and further stat boosts come into play this gap widens even more.

But let's assume we're on a level 20 max server with Haste.  Strength should wind up at 12 modifier (22 base plus 12 from gear) while dex is still at 1.  Weapon focus means gap of 12.  Melee is 75/50/25/5/75 = 2.3 versus ranged of 15/5/5/5/15 = 0.45 which is 19.6% as much.  If we even lower relative AC by 4 to try to make it more likely for ranged attacks to hit we get 95/70/45/20/95 = 3.25 melee versus 35/10/5/5/35 = 27.7% as much.  Let's even say we add 3 dex modifier from gear -- now ranged is 50/25/5/5/50 = 1.35 HPR which is 41.5% as much.  So our best case scenario if we can add 3 dex modifier (instead of needing to use all of our gear to max strength and possibly constitution) and the enemy has relatively low AC and we have Haste has the ranged weapon hitting about 40% as much.

And, like I said, this gets dramatically worse with more levels because instead of just having the +1 Str increase every 4 levels you also get +1 Str every 3 levels from Great Str and you get an extra +2 AB from Epic Weapon Focus.

Thanks for detailing that. And, that's pretty much what I was getting using similar assumptions and what had me thinking that the 20% number mostly applies to epics.

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

That's your call. And, once again, let me be clear that I am making no claim that damage is so substantial that battles turn on it; it's typically an issue of how many HP a toon will have lost at the end of taking down a pile of mobs or how much of his DR remains

Here's the thing, though -- you're either obsessing over something that doesn't matter or you'd be better off moving faster.

The obsessing part is if you're in single player modules with a finite amount of resources -- because I have never seen a single player module where resources are actually tight enough that you seriously need to be concerned about saving a healing potion every fight or three (again, once you get past the first few levels at least).  You're effectively just wasting time and focused on conserving resources that don't NEED to be conserved.  Even the most consumable focused and most difficult combat campaign I've played, which would be Swordflight (note that a module needs to be both relatively difficult AND focused on limited consumables to meet this criteria), still had plenty of resources for healing if needed and you didn't need to conserve every least healing potion.

And on a PW, you're better off saving time per combat because you'll make more anyway.  In our 2 rounds case you wind up saving 11 seconds each time you just charge and meet the mob versus shooting from range.  That means you basically save a minute every 5 combats.  If we assume you're making like 100 gold per minute then having to spend an extra 50g per minute on healing potions is still a net 50 gold per minute gain for you.  Time IS money, remember?

LOL. Point taken. I will keep that thinking in mind as I play more melee toons.

For the most part, my toons are not typically short on cash, but I usually take a more slow-going approach for other reasons. For one, my experience with melee toons is somewhat limited, so I haven't worked out a great way to zip through areas without getting swarmed or, worse, getting my buffs dispelled, which can be a particular hazard when soloing a non-caster and relying on potions or scrolls for buffs. If I knew what every encounter was going to be like, I might be more aggressive about it, but the server where I play has the challenge rating of the "examine" function disabled, so it isn't always easy to know if those orc raiders are 25 HP, 8 AB mobs that my level 10 toon can wade in and take down in a couple rounds, usually without getting hit, or if one or two of them are a 130 HP, 15 AB opponents who may fry my bacon if I am not careful.
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MrZork, 26 janvier 2014 - 10:05 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_Westan Willows

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« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2014, 03:38:06 am »


               

MagicalMaster wrote...


MrZork wrote...

BTW, I am curious if your melee types bother with magical arrows? I mean, if it's only an extra d6 per hit and they are hardly hitting anyway, there's no reason to pay more than 1 gp for a stack of mundane ammo, right?


Depends if gold is relevant.  If gold is tight then no, I wouldn't spend (relatively speaking) tons of money on magic arrows when that gold would be better invested into healing back any extra damage I might take (I'm better off spending 100 gold to heal 30 extra damage I take over the course of 5 fights than spending 500 gold on arrows to avoid that damage).

If I have plenty of gold, why not?

Of course, in most modules I don't even bother using magical arrows on Arcane Archers unless I'm truly overflowing with gold.


Were can I get magic arrows for only 500gp?
BTW: My Arcane Archer is complainting that he only gets 99 +4 arrows for his 1gp. (:lol:he has over 80,000gp the crybaby)
               
               

               


                     Modifié par Westan Willows, 27 janvier 2014 - 03:38 .
                     
                  


            

Legacy_MagicalMaster

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« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2014, 12:09:27 am »


               

MrZork wrote...

And, honestly, I shouldn't have used the term power building at all, since I was more thinking that those modules accommodate toons that not only aren't built optimally, but where the players also make decisions that aren't always great, like wearing a +3 will ammy into mundane combat instead of the AC ammy, or not knowing that the +2 AC vs. dragons and elementals on that Chromatic Breastplate +3 is functionally worthless. (On that latter, I suspect the Bioware guys didn't know, either!)

Fair enough.  I suppose it's true that most people don't really understand the impact of AB/AC and how significant they are.

And yeah, I /facepalm a lot when I see things like Longswords +5 with 1d8 slashing bonus damage.

MrZork wrote...

I am not sure I'm convinced. As I mentioned, there aren't just the mobs with the very low AB. Those other AB 37 mobs were hitting my AC 50 toon fairly often (even critting) and doing between 35-40 HP per hit. For a mage (particularly an elf without high CON), that adds up.  Now, as I say, she would quickly get better gear. But even with +6 Dodge AC, she is going to get hit on 14-15 without EMA and 19-20 with it. Meanwhile, EMA lets that toon equip other gear in those slots that might be more useful.

You do effectively have infinite healing potions, though, in Sands of Fate as I recall (as you import from HotU).

Also, I personally think Sands of Fate balancing was horrendous in general and mostly loathed it as I played through (especially many of the insanely cheap tricks).  I would *DEFINITELY* not call it a classic -- it's nowhere near the level of Aielund/Swordflight/ADWR/HeX code/etc (with the etc being like 20 more modules).  There's a reason I have NEVER recommended people play Sands of Fate.  Never..

MrZork wrote...

Then just say that we have different notions of softening up or that the softening up I am considering has negligible impact (which I think is your point, ultimately). Don't characterize my statement as a claim of uber damage output from ranged attacks that I never made.

"Soften up" means a significant difference.  I believe its origins are in the military where you soften something up by bombing or shelling it (and whether that is the actual origin it's the main source of the common phrase as far as I know).  For example, an infantry squad is told to capture a fortified position.  Therefore, they call in an air strike to soften up the enemy position and dramatically reduce its effectiveness by destroying equipment and killing men.  The whole point is to substantially weaken your opponent to make it much easier to win.

So to me, "softening up" would mean something like taking out 30% of the opponent's HP with ranged attacks before they reach you.  Think of it this way: if instead of firing at the enemy for 12 seconds you cast 4 spells which each make the enemy take 1% more damage, would you really consider that "softening up" the opponent?

"Good news, I softened up the opponent by making him take 4% more damage!"

No, you wouldn't use the phrase "soften up" in such a situation.  So your use of the phrase implied that you DID think you'd do something like take out 30% of your opponent's HP and make a significant impact.  Maybe that's not what you meant but that's what you said.

MrZork wrote...

If I knew what every encounter was going to be like, I might be more aggressive about it, but the server where I play has the challenge rating of the "examine" function disabled, so it isn't always easy to know if those orc raiders are 25 HP, 8 AB mobs that my level 10 toon can wade in and take down in a couple rounds, usually without getting hit, or if one or two of them are a 130 HP, 15 AB opponents who may fry my bacon if I am not careful.

This is one of many reasons I hate servers that do that.  If you've fought orcs before, you could tell at a relative glance whether these new orcs look formidable or not.  You could tell how their armor looked, how good their weapons appeared to be, etc.  Yes, "levels" and "challenge rating" are game abstractions -- but so are HP, AB, and damage!
               
               

               
            

Legacy_MrZork

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« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2014, 11:24:41 am »


               

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

I am not sure I'm convinced. As I mentioned, there aren't just the mobs with the very low AB. Those other AB 37 mobs were hitting my AC 50 toon fairly often (even critting) and doing between 35-40 HP per hit. For a mage (particularly an elf without high CON), that adds up.  Now, as I say, she would quickly get better gear. But even with +6 Dodge AC, she is going to get hit on 14-15 without EMA and 19-20 with it. Meanwhile, EMA lets that toon equip other gear in those slots that might be more useful.

You do effectively have infinite healing potions, though, in Sands of Fate as I recall (as you import from HotU).

Also, I personally think Sands of Fate balancing was horrendous in general and mostly loathed it as I played through (especially many of the insanely cheap tricks).  I would *DEFINITELY* not call it a classic -- it's nowhere near the level of Aielund/Swordflight/ADWR/HeX code/etc (with the etc being like 20 more modules).  There's a reason I have NEVER recommended people play Sands of Fate.  Never..

Not sure what you mean by infinite healing in Sands of Fate. As I recall, there is an item strip at the beginning of SoF. Were healing pots not stripped? Anyway, I don't recall any infinite heal items dropping, but I also don't recall potions being all that hard to get.

For sure, there are balance issues in Sands of Fate and I certainly think there are better modules (Aielund is the one I have played that lets a player use the same character from start to mid-30s). But, I also had fun playing SoF, in no small part because the character was the one I had come to enjoy in SoU and HotU. I think that many players enjoy the story as much as how well the module balances encounters. And, I don't doubt that much of SoF's popularity derives from its position as a module where a player can come out of HotU and start playing SoF without re-rolling a character or getting used to greatly modified game mechanics.

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

Then just say that we have different notions of softening up or that the softening up I am considering has negligible impact (which I think is your point, ultimately). Don't characterize my statement as a claim of uber damage output from ranged attacks that I never made.

"Soften up" means a significant difference.  I believe its origins are in the military where you soften something up by bombing or shelling it (and whether that is the actual origin it's the main source of the common phrase as far as I know).  For example, an infantry squad is told to capture a fortified position.  Therefore, they call in an air strike to soften up the enemy position and dramatically reduce its effectiveness by destroying equipment and killing men.  The whole point is to substantially weaken your opponent to make it much easier to win.

So to me, "softening up" would mean something like taking out 30% of the opponent's HP with ranged attacks before they reach you.  Think of it this way: if instead of firing at the enemy for 12 seconds you cast 4 spells which each make the enemy take 1% more damage, would you really consider that "softening up" the opponent?

"Good news, I softened up the opponent by making him take 4% more damage!"

No, you wouldn't use the phrase "soften up" in such a situation.  So your use of the phrase implied that you DID think you'd do something like take out 30% of your opponent's HP and make a significant impact.  Maybe that's not what you meant but that's what you said.

LOL, I don't remember saying 1% or 4% was what I meant, so we are edging into strawman territory again. If we are really looking to quibble over definitions, then I would stick with my complaint about your use of "MASSIVE AWESOME DAMAGE" and I think I would be on pretty solid ground. ;-) However, it's probably more productive to do an example and just see the sort of damage a strengther melee type does to a mob with his ranged weapon and you can call it what you want.

Say my level 20 fighter (STR build, 12 DEX with items) approaches a pile of mobs and gets in 2 rounds of ranged combat firing standard fire arrows from his standard +3 composite longbow (which is not rare at level 20 even in low-mid magic modules). I tested the timing with some normal speed mobs who don't stop and buff themselves (which would give the PC more ranged attack time) and two rounds is about right. First test case: Drow Militia (nw_drowfight020). This guy has AC 20 (19+Dodge), 74 HP, and is rated "easy" in the PC's examine widget, e.g. not tough but not "effortless" either. I.e. he is a mob. The PC averages 5.85 hits over the two rounds and he averages 12 hp damage per shot, so over 77 hp damage to the drow, 100% of his total.

Of course, drow have crummy hit points, so that isn't the fairest comparison, though I was having a little trouble finding "easy" mobs for a level 20 fighter among the demihumans in the standard palette. So, let's move to a standard Elder Earth Elemental (nw_eartheld), a tougher guy than the drow and rated "moderate" in the examine widget with AC 23 and HP 228, closer to the other end of the mob HP spectrum. My toon averages 5 ranged hits in the two rounds and does 65 HP, which is over 28% of the mob's total.

So, yes, in either case, I feel pretty comfortable saying that the ranged damage softened these guys up. If you think that the term doesn't fit or that the damage isn't worth doing, that's fine.

MagicalMaster wrote...

MrZork wrote...

If I knew
what every encounter was going to be like, I might be more aggressive
about it, but the server where I play has the challenge rating of the
"examine" function disabled, so it isn't always easy to know if those
orc raiders are 25 HP, 8 AB mobs that my level 10 toon can wade in and
take down in a couple rounds, usually without getting hit, or if one or
two of them are a 130 HP, 15 AB opponents who may fry my bacon if I am
not careful.

This is one of many reasons I hate servers that
do that.  If you've fought orcs before, you could tell at a relative
glance whether these new orcs look formidable or not.  You could tell
how their armor looked, how good their weapons appeared to be, etc.
 Yes, "levels" and "challenge rating" are game abstractions -- but so
are HP, AB, and damage!

Agreed. Servers that hide opponents' challenge ratings make it unecessarily hard to make appropriate combat decisions. Do I use a single Magic Missile or Time Stop and flurries of IGMS? Or, do I decide to get the hell out of Dodge! Moreover, it means wasting time fighting 2 XP mobs because there is no way to tell that they aren't level-appropriate. I certainly understand module designers' point that knowing the CR is unrealistic and some realism helps the immersion. But, knowing the CR is no more unrealistic than a group of 5 HD orcs deciding to attack my epic mage as he walks down the road, glowing like a Las Vegas casino with all of his buffs. ;-)
               
               

               


                     Modifié par MrZork, 28 janvier 2014 - 12:07 .