Zen Balance 2: Electric Boogaloo

PynA3So the balance change discussion is now reality with Update 28 Patch 1.

I suspected that none of my ranged characters should take a hit from this. In fact, I thought most should get a boost.

In case you’re a too-long didn’t read kind of person (not likely since you’re coming here to listen to me), here’s the change in a nutshell:

Both Manyshot and Ten Thousand Stars become feats to give brief bonuses to Doubleshot and Ranged Power. There’s no longer any Doubleshot penalties naturally for this reason. Rather than animating a flurry of arrows, your Doubleshot represents additional hits but also more powerful missile hits.

Manyshot = Current Doubleshot + (BAB * 4) with Current Ranged Power + (BAB *4).

Ten Thousand Stars is now aligned to your Monk level and WIS score. TTS Doubleshot = Current Doubleshot + (WIS) with (Monk level * 5) + Current Ranged Power.

So let’s show what I get with this new scheme through pictures. All characters are using Shiradi Champion level 5 and are level 28 unless noted. Weapon types here are less important than any spells, feats, enhancements or ED abilities that improve their BAB, Doubleshot, Ranged Power and WIS.

(Note: I am not strong in HTML and can’t easily correct the headers of the characters slamming against each other below. My apologies if it’s harder to read.)

Szyncletica

Build: Drow Shuricannon (Ninja Spy Monk 28)

Uses: Ten Thousand Stars only. WIS 36 (Ocean Stance)

Before: Doubleshot: 2%, Ranged Power: 54

After: Doubleshot: 102%, Ranged Power: 90

SzynB1

SzynB2SzynA1SzynA2

 

 

 

Artemistika

Build: Elf Deepwood Stalker (Ranger Level 28)

Uses: Manyshot only. BAB 24

Before: Doubleshot: 35%, Ranged Power 73

After: Doubleshot: 131%, Ranged Power 193

MistyB1MistyB2MistyA1MistyA2

 

 

Pynthetica

Build: Elf Zen Archer (Ninja Spy Monk Level 23, Shiradi 4)

Uses:

  • Manyshot, BAB 22
  • Ten Thousand Stars, WIS 39

Before: Doubleshot: 10%, Ranged Power 68

With TTS: Doubleshot: 110%, Ranged Power 122

With Manyshot: Doubleshot: 98%, Ranged Power 144

PynB1PynB2PynA1PynA2PynA3

PynA4

The Outcome

The numbers aren’t as telling as performance, and this varies because of the difference in weapons with the shuriken and bows. All of them blow the training dummy into sawdust in seconds with any of these modes.

Misty’s Manyshot, mostly because the Doubleshot effect adds an additional shot when over 100% now, combined with her high Ranged Power, definitely hasn’t lost the overall effectiveness to me. She holds the highest Doubleshot and Ranged Power scores, which is natural and expected for a Ranger. I would cry out “nerf!” myself if this weren’t the case as the Ranger is the natural archer class. In short, I’m seeing similar effects to the multi-arrow effect of the old Manyshot but with more damage per arrow. The best news here is that the power of Manyshot has greater control to the player. Increase your Doubleshot and/or Ranged Power elsewhere, and the damage increases. In fact, with Killer working, Doubleshot goes up further by 20% with Misty, so her true Doubleshot would be 151% as things die.

Szyncletica’s shuriken performance is weaker because she’s yet to add any significant standing Doubleshot gear. Unlike Pynthetica and Misty, Szyn also gains no additional Ranged Power outside of Shiradi and Epic levels. That said, being a full Monk with a decent WIS gives a reliable TTS performance, although weakest of the three as far as the numbers show. This is due in part because a Shiradi Shuricannon is already a multi-shotting thrower because of the combined effects of Shuriken Expertise and Ninja Spy’s Advanced Ninja Training, both of which add a chance to throw an additional shuriken per attack. Thus, the game squeezes in more stars per attack in addition to what Szyn already throws, and the animation shows that.

It’s Pynthetica that’s pleasantly surprising. My Zen Archer build shows its muster without full training in Shiradi and with four Epic levels (and its corresponding Ranged Power bonuses) yet to go. Pyn’s standing RP is higher than Misty’s RP at level 28. While Misty’s Doubleshot is best (she has the Epic Destiny feat of Doubleshot as well), Pyn comes in a strong second with TTS alone at 110%.(Pyn’s Elf enhancement with a ship buff gives 5% and she pulled a Dynamistic Quiver to get another 5%). Her Manyshot bonuses to RP were respectable as well at 144.

So, Pyn’s extra RP from Harper Agent helps. Being a full Monk helps, too, and Pyn has more damage to come. She used the revised feats in a Shroud run that night, and wasn’t displeased at all.

As I said in an earlier post, only the change in TTS is a nerf to splash builds like monkchers, since only 2 Monk levels or a lower WIS won’t give a lot of Ranged Power or Doubleshot boost. It should be interesting to see how those builds are revised.

In other news from this patch: I’m looking forward to the new Halloween event, which previews live for an in-game load test for us all today (10/23). I’m also digging the cleaner, more responsive look of the DDO Store. Nice work, devs.

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The Sound of Four Arrows Flying

For the Zen Archer, contemplation and mastery of Wisdom is paramount...to a point.

For the Zen Archer, contemplation and mastery of Wisdom is paramount…to a point.

A recent post chided those who forgot that the quests in the Devil Battlefield are still worth running.

But Teacher Mernom’s comment in that post on the availability of potions (available through collectibles) that briefly raise ability scores for an Alchemical bonus, made me return to a study I’ve conducted out of curiosity until rather recently.

How high can I lift a character’s Wisdom score?

Kiricletica’s Case: Powerful Finishers

A Monk’s powers are often determined by their WIS, specifically, their WIS modifier score.

After the discovery that Kiricletica’s dark finishing moves could be very effective even in Epic Elite with a very high WIS, I sent her through the Devil Battlefield flagging quests, all on Elite difficulty except for “A New Invasion” to gain sufficient Yugoloth favor for their special stacking potions that raised an ability score by +2, with a side effect.

At level 26 and geared up, Kiricletica’s WIS sits around 48, unbuffed. With a +2 guild ship buff (Artifact bonus), a Yugo potion and a DDO Store elixir, I could get Kiri to 54. Mernom’s discovery noted that I can up that score to as high as +3 with trading for House Deneith’s alchemical potions, which last for a minute to 1 minute 30 seconds.

Kiri’s need to ensure that her paralyzing and muting finishers would land, based on the common finisher DC (10 + Monk level + WIS modifier).  Thus, Kiri’s Freezing the Lifeblood finisher requires a 10+26+22 = 58 to escape. While Kiri’s attempts on an Epic Elite solo run have not yet been successful (sticking to her solo rules for her first life), This isn’t a bad DC to have, although 62+ would be better.

Forum Research

In helping Kiri’s WIS score, a DDO forums often brought me to this older but useful thread on every possible permutation you could find in-game to generate the absolute maximum ability score.

Teacher AidanRyuko’s post first defined a “base package” of possible points that all classes could attain. Some, like a +2 bonus as a Completionist character, I’d never likely see, while others, such as getting a +5 ability tome, weren’t out of possibility even if I chose to “pay to win.”

Aidan’s sheet is a little dated as it doesn’t take into account the existence of gear with +10 to enhancement bonus ability scores with the new level caps of 28 and now 30.

My return to this research is to help Pynthetica, my Zen Archer, currently at L17 in this second life.

Pynthetica’s Case: Ex decem milibus, sapientia

Like Kiri, Pynthetica needs WIS but not specifically for finishing moves.

Pyn’s archery prowess for burst damage comes from Ten Thousand Stars (TTS) for now. If she has an extra feat slot in Epic training to add Manyshot, I won’t object to it. But a Zen Archer is feat-starved, trying to ensure there are other critical ranged feats in its arsenal.

So why only TTS?

Based on much cooperative crowdsourced player observations and calculations in a thread, the formula for generating extra arrows per attack in TTS came down to this:

  • 1st extra projectile: (3*WIS modifier+30) percent chance
  • 2nd extra projectile: (3*WIS modifier-20) percent chance [minimum 24 Wisdom]
  • 3rd extra projectile: (WIS modifier-15) percent chance [minimum 42 Wisdom]

Each projectile is rolled one after the next; ie you must successfully roll the first extra projectile for a chance at a second, and successfully roll the second for a chance at a third.

TTS doesn’t give the guarantee of 4 arrows as Manyshot ultimately behaves.

However, TTS can be used twice as often: once per minute (30 seconds active, 30 seconds to cooldown, versus 20 seconds with a 2 minute cooldown for Manyshot).

TTS also requires ki, which means you need a strong passive ki regeneration (or switch to melee fighting for a bit) as well as WIS to define a higher pool. But when you start tinkering with 40 WIS or more and sitting about in Greater Ocean Stance with other ki regeneration abilities, odds are that you’re going to have ample ki for any fight where duration is required.

Getting that fourth arrow is not easy. To have a mere 5% chance at that arrow requires a WIS of 50. The highest practical 4th arrow chance for Pyn is is probably 10%, or a heartbreakingly high WIS of 60. One could look at this philosophically as there are similar nice weapon effects that may not proc often, such as being Frozen.

So it’s an advantage with diminishing returns for Pyn’s TTS after getting no less than a 5% chance, or WIS 50. As with Kiricletica, I may be able to attain that in Epic levels with a +7 item and epic destiny training alone, with nary a single potion to be had.

But when it’s crunch time and I need to squeeze every chance of an arrow out of her zen training, at least I know my options. At WIS 50, Pyn would shoot two arrows 90% of the time, three arrows about 40% of the time, and 4 arrows only 5% of the time.

I might be able to live with that. But now I also know I shouldn’t try to go all out to make Pyn’s WIS higher than 50 unless I want to have superior emergency stun and finisher options. As a dark Monk, Pyn’s Freezing the Lifeblood finisher could make heavy damage of one isolated enemy.

At least I know now that a few extra points for Szyncletica would not hurt, either. Since DEX defines damage and with Shuriken Expertise and Ninja Training already producing extra stars, her lesser WIS is not as critical with her TTS.

Zen Mastery: Approaching Level 20

Without the Bow Strength feat but with a lesser version that comes from the Half-Elf: Ranger dilettante, I should retire from Wisdom studies and research what I can do to increase my base damage on the bows to offset the lower STR bonus I gain in weapon damage as a pure Monk with a bow. I prioritized training the last racial abilities to add the last dilettante ability that added 8 to my bow damage modifier as Pyn approached level 16.

Sitting in Pyn’s personal bank, purchased during a recent DDO Store sale, is a +5 WIS tome for level 19.

The Devil Battlefield is penned into her schedule for getting the Yugo potions. My recently lax collectible gathering will now go back into overdrive as I hunt down any I can use to purchase a chance at the House Deneith alchemical potions to use when I need the absolute maximum performance.

A Frozen Tunic is also in the plan.

Banishing and Paralysis looked more attractive when I realized the latter had three tiers where the Will save is superior to Improved Paralyzing as found on Szyncletica’s spelltouched shuriken. It’s not cheap, however; as you have to train Terror Arrows rank to increase Paralyzing Arrow ranks. Such training will just make any Vale of Twilight or outsider battles on Eberron soil that much easier.

Once she returns to Epic levels, training two tier 1 abilities in Grandmaster of Flowers (Enlightenment for more Concentration, total ki and passive ki regeneration, as well as Dance with Flowers for up to 1.5 to base weapon damage) are a great idea. I can Twist these two abilities while active in Shiradi Champion’s immediate ranged attack effects that Pyn trained in part in her first life as a Ranger.

Breaking Siegebreaker

Pyn has been my first character to take advantage of Kiricletica’s discovery of how to easily beat the “Siegebreaker” final boss and her puzzles. (I added this solution to the DDO Wiki article once I learned it.)

In summary, you need invisibility and good Hide/Move Silently numbers, with perhaps Evasion at the least.

As most of you know, if you simply run around a circle that has all pads fully lit, it auto-solves the puzzle. The challenge is that enemies teleport into the small pit, attacking you and disturbing the puzzle. Worse, the enemies keep coming until you solve the puzzle. Did I mention the pads are also traps?

As she learned from Kiri, Pyn immediately hid and went invisible after the Hag went intangible. Pyn remained in the puzzle’s center. The enemies that spawned stood unaware and did not approach. Pyn circled the puzzle, evading the traps on each, solving the puzzle as well as closing the enemy portal. The Hag stays intangible until those few enemies are slain but they now cannot harm the puzzle as I kited them to death.

After giving the Hag a few licks, she went intangible again and Pyn repeated the same steps. By the last fight with the rust monster cavalry, completing the puzzle completes the quest. You will still have to slay those things to leave without dying and having your gear chewed on by the rusties, but you can loot your end-chest first while in stealth. Kiri just deployed a Diversion dummy for the enemies to chew on as she finished out.