Thursday, November 6, 2008

The current state of Age of Conan

So, I promised a big post. I did quite a bit of dueling on Saturday and Sunday and really must say, the strategy around 1v1 has changed *significantly.* We simply lack the killing power to really dominate 1v1 without being extremely cautious with our cooldowns. What do I mean by this?

Well... if you're fighting a ToS (for example, since I just so happened to fight one about 20 times last night...) there are a few major factors that come into play.

1) Did you open in stealth?
-In this case, the answer is no. The answer is no, because we were dueling... so it almost always began with FtD and eating a Charged Bolt which isn't necessarily fair, but neither is starting with SA.

2) Do you have Lotus Overload?
-My specs are a little outdated. Lotus Overload is an ABSOLUTE MUST if you want to fight any caster now. It makes their life difficult, and buys you breathing room to save those heals until after your opponent lands a crit.

3) Did you use your cooldowns correctly?
-Basically from what I've seen... going against melee, you want to use your cooldowns extremely aggressively. You want to get them behind early and use it to your advantage while you're going for the kill. The complete opposite is true against casters. You want to avoid using cooldowns until you can get them at ~50-60%. You want to then lock them to death... which would be the same old FtD->Death's Gaze->SS->Snap Kick->GC(or SS if you used SDS after step 1.) If you think that the fight is going to be decently long, you can blow Snap Kick early and it should be back up by the time you go in for the kill (depending on how much damage you're taking.)

-Take a look at these, and then think- how long is the fight going to last? Take an average of 10 or so fights and see how long they lasted... use that to figure out when you need to use those cooldowns. Things like Snap Kick, Lunge, FtD, etc... these are what effect your burst damage. You're not putting out 2k+ damage with FtD anymore. You have to plan ahead and plan to play perfectly.

Here's my new build. Lotus Overload is IMPORTANT.

These things seem simple but it took about an hour of dueling to even get back in the groove of landing combos and not whiffing like a fool (which I continue to do now and then, still in WoW-style syndrome.) This sort of leads in to my next section for this post:

Someone asked: Where have you been?
Real life: I started a new job in the past month or so. It's been relatively slow but quite time consuming at the same time because you always want to make a good impression. Still in NYC, no change there.

WoW: I played WoW mostly from when I stopped playing AoC until now. I was gladiator in season 3 on my druid... broke top 10 a couple of times in season 4 (shoulders and all) but ended up quitting a few weeks before season 4 end and not getting gladiator.

A new patch has been released for WoW... 3.x, which is absolutely insane. All of the new Wrath of the Lich King talents are in and everyone is silly overpowered. It's fun but at the same time it kind of makes you wonder where the game is going. My fall back has been doing a 5man instance or two to have a little fun or doing battlegrounds waiting for the Wrath release (which is November 13th.) I must say I'm getting that sort of giddy "new expansion" feeling from WoW right now but I'm hard pressed to believe it will last so I'm splitting my time between WoW and AoC. If anyone wants to look me up, I'm Viia or Hiies on Mannoroth now.. having left Hellscream, and then Staghelm.

War: I played War for about 3 weeks. I leveled a warrior priest to 30ish and was extremely disappointed as a whole. The game is very much like WoW, without the polish.. and AoC... without the amazing game mechanics. I just couldn't "get into" this... but it did take up a little chunk of time.

AoC: As I said I've been splitting my time between WoW and AoC the past couple of weeks. I'm primarily waiting on an AoC server merger and then hopefully a "real population" will exist again. I *really* wish AoC were a more popular game. It's phenomenal and completely revolutionary but some of the areas are just really not well balanced (instances and Raids come to mind... as being quit lackluster...) and with the way the game is designed it makes it hard to "keep people around." It's always been the case with MMOs- you want to be where the people are. I think they should have stuck to small scale instances as whole. 10 mans (sort of where WoW is going these days) seem to strike the balance between grouping and manageability. Smaller groups and instances are easier to handle, easier to test, and thus I assume easier to produce. I don't know how to get people back to AoC or how to keep them here, so I'm really at a loss. I'll continue to play the game part time and continue to absolutely love it, but the social aspect just isn't as strong as I would like it to be.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Return to AoC

Hi everyone.

I've recently returned to AoC after a long hiatus inspired by a new career, WoW, War, and a few other little distractions along the way.

My first impressions after returning are, in a broad-to-narrow view:

-There aren't a lot of people. The population is hurting a little, but the game is still just as exciting and fantastic as it was before. I think with the way combat was implemented (even post patch- referring mainly to AoE melee) was fantastic. The design as a whole was revolutionary and it brings with it a visceral feeling when you're in combat.

-Wow, the combat system has changed. If I had to pass judgment immediately I would say it's for the better.

-Assassins still feel pretty good. Combo priority has changed (a lot) and a lot of our broken abilities have been fixed. I haven't quite figured out "how" to PvP or PvE most efficiently yet (again) but I will, and when I do I'm sure you'll see a post here.

-I am missing a chunk of detail. I don't know which items are good, which tradeskills are good, where to farm for gear, where to raid for gear, who is raiding and who isn't, and so on. Keep that in mind regarding anything you read over the next few weeks.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Updated Hybrid PvP Build

Since I'm respec'ing back to Hybrid from Full Lotus, I figured I would share the small changes to my previous build.

Evii's Hybrid Build

I've made two changes:

Old: 5/5 Cat's Paw
New: 2/5 Cat's Paw and 3/3 Accelerated

Impede Life was made useful with a -500 to natural regen, it basically eliminates non potion regeneration. Impede Life also happens to have a long 60s CD, Accelerated helps out with that. It also helps with Grim Corruption and Slow Death Strikes.

Old: 5/5 Unholy Armor
New: 5/5 Dread Weapons

I've more or less moved away from playing defensively with this hybrid build with the exception of Golden Lotus Extract. When you're deciding which of these talents (Unholy Armor or Dread Weapons) to pick you're looking at two different concepts of defensive... one being healing and the other being mitigation. Mitigation to me hasn't proven to be "that" useful... at least not for this build. So you're trading mitigation for offensive power as you have GLE to backup your leeches and make up for the ~10% invuln loss. For a full corruption build I would certainly recommend 5/5 Unholy Armor and the general feats to increase it even further because you lack GLE for burst healing.


Obviously the state of these builds will change as bugs get fixed and skills are reevaluated but as of right now I see zero fat or questionable feats in this build. Everything looks very tight, with the exception of the 10 "necessary evil" lotus points required to get deeper into the tree. I stand by what I've said before that the hybrid spec is by far the most effective PvP spec out there for an assassin.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Assassin Resurrection

So, I'm back from my gladiator run. I'm playing my Assassin again and there are a few things I would like to cover.

Female Attack Speed:

Funcom has stated in no uncertain terms that the "white damage fix" is in, and that they've normalized it. The "combo damage fix" is significantly more complicated and will take awhile.

Okay, the way I understand it is they didn't adjust animations at all yet and they simply made white damage normalized (ie we swing slower as female characters, we hit for more damage...) The problem with this, especially when PvPing is that a lot of time is spent white swinging (ie slower swings) so you can build up combos, the combo time itself doesn't actually matter much (it still matters)- because when it lands, if you don't move... all of the hits land regardless of how fast the combo fires off.

So, this fix isn't really acceptable... not to mention the fact that if I press Q for LL attack, and then strafe and press Q for LL attack, the animation is still significantly faster resulting in 2-3 additional LL attack swings every 15s. Now, I'm still leaving this up in the air until we see the final fix but as of now I'm not impressed.

Full Lotus PvP:

I did some mild testing tonight with this spec:

Full Lotus Build

It's been quite an interesting experience. The build definitely doesn't have the one shot "oomph" that you get every 1 minute with full corruption/corruption hybrid but it certainly has its perks. The build for me has been mostly about DPS'ing someone (even healers) until their hots drop/they've used their big heal, throwing down curse of the lotus (so they don't re-hot themselves) and going in for the kill.

The DoT damage does add up if you have SDS IV/GC 4/GC 3/Lotus Weapons/Flesh Rot/Kidney Shots... I went primarily with spell invulns in the general tree due to the fact that I don't (and haven't really had) any problem with melee classes as it seems to come down to skill/knockdown resist cooldowns a lot of the time.

One PoM fight in particular went about two minutes where we were sparring back and forth... all of the sudden he didn't have HoTs on and his big heal/immunity was down. ~15s later he was dead on a Kidney Shots->GCIV/SDSIV/SSX.

Female attack speed is still up in the air.

Everyone needs 5 points in Excellent Balance. I don't care WHAT spec you are, having 5 points in this talent is invaluable.

Escape Artist really is extremely useful, despite how much I've ignored it in the past. It's more useful I feel in a full Lotus build where you don't have From the Darkness to close the gap when the root wears off. In a full corruption/corruption hybrid I still see it as "fluff."

Curse of the Lotus is extremely fun/easy to use- the AOE fear/ranged fear catches most people off guard and it's a good way to make sure HoT's run their duration.

As expected, Swift Ending and and even moreso Assassination at 80 are extremely potent when combined with Flesh Rot/Lotus Weapons/Deft Blades. I knew this at 60 when I first tried them out, but wanted to reaffirm this position at 80.

Lotus Overdose is much how I originally predicted- more or less a stamina regen skill, which if you use correctly can also be used for burst. That being said, I've used it for mostly keeping ahead in stamina and chasing people down.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Chase Corporate Challenge

During my blog lockdown one of the activities I've participated in was the Chase Corporate Challenge. Check out the details here.

Chase Corporate Challenge

3.5 mile run through central park. A great time was had by all. I look forward to putting in quality assassin posts when I'm back on Tuesday!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blog Lockdown

My blog is on hold for one week and will be back next Tuesday.

So in the place of a long, informative, detailed post... you get a good one liner:

If you Double Tap S and hold Active Block, you evade. A lot.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My PvP Feat Build - Broken and Abandoned

I've had a lot of people ask me in game what my feat build was, whether it was different than what I've posted, etc etc. So I'm posting my current feat build, spec'd into with consideration to bugs and other issues going around which cause some feats to be more(or less) useful. I'll point out differences from my previous builds worth noting as well as bugs that have plagued my PvP experience.

Evii's PvP Build


Light Footed does not seem good at all. I'm not sure whether it's broken, or doesn't include the "root" category in what it calls "movement slowing effects (+25% snare)" but this feat just has not been useful in the builds that I've included it in. This brings up the interesting problem with not having escape artist. With escape artist you can play hyper aggressive, if they root you- break it and charge on in. The problem with that type of situation is that if they rooted you, you've already lost your advantage and you really should be stabilizing before you re-engage. At any rate, this feat will be extremely useful if I can ever prove that it actually works against roots, but I've yet to... so until then, I've left it out.

Accelerated was mentioned in a previous build of mine but after some testing I've come to the conclusion that it's just not really necessary. With Grim Corruption IV, III, Impede Life, Slow Death Strikes, AND Swift Strikes- you always have *something* up that you can do.

Snap Kick if it were more than one point to obtain would be a waste. No one is quite sure how Snap Kick works (the silence portion) or how it is supposed to work (the knockdown portion), but that being said- it still has some uses. It's good in PvE and it's extremely good in Assassin mirror matches which almost always end when I FtD, GC, Snap Kick, GC- even if the FtD damage doesn't hit, you have to use it to stop them to land the Snap Kick.


Vile Corruption was a feat I really advocated against because I didn't feel it was necessary... after dueling a lot last night though- and noticing the lack of free Soul Fragments to pop corrupting strikes along with the importance of landing big combos while opponents are 'jousting' with you and the difficulty of landing combos in general I've changed my mind about this feat. If Corrupting Strikes lasted 20s or 30s and had a longer cooldown I would definitely go back to my previous line of thinking, but a Soul Fragment for 10s of +20% offhand when you'll be jousting and may land one combo in that 10s or may not land one at all, it's just not worth it.

Unholy Armor vs Dread Weapons was another major decision that was made in this build. I like both of these feats but with what seems like better evasion unholy armor adds a lot to our lasting power in melee fights and dread weapons doesn't do much to shorten those fights enough to justify -10% physical invulnerability's. I went with unholy armor for a more balanced build.


Burden to Bear/Dread Weapons/Extra points vs Excellent Balance I could've easily put 4 points into Dread Weapons or Burden to Bear or Life Leech but instead I put them into Excellent Balance. Why? Well, in a melee v melee fight it's about damage up time- and if you get knocked down once you're in trouble, more than once and you probably lose... having 15s immunity with a 30s cd is pretty monumental versus 10s immunity with a 60s cd... you'll often use the skill multiple times in a melee v melee fight.


So after the PVP from last night I really must say- the amount of bugs we're fighting against is simply infuriating. Despite being broken and abandoned compared to most, I do believe that this class can be successful. I still manage to win an amazing amount of PvP encounters DESPITE all of the bugs (and "non bug issues") working against us and I think that adapting and spec'ing to these strengths has helped a lot. Most of my fights turned from "FtD someone to death" to me playing more conventionally with SA/engage and see how fights play out and I have come to believe that Lotus can be a viable end game PvP spec. As the number of 'one shot' (overreach/fire lance were the latest to fall victim) are removed Lotus becomes more and more viable as we don't absolutely have to one shot someone to win. Though, if the bugs/issues were corrected or we at least knew what was considered a bug and what was working as intended we could plan a bit better.

Here is a short list of the things that I think need to be corrected in order for us to even fathom class balance or different specs:

Poison Stance:
What does .01% fizzle chance do? Is it .1% chance? Regardless, it's so insignificantly small that I would assume that it does absolutely nothing. With no guidance to prove otherwise, it's hard to argue. Corrupting Blades seems to work fine with -5% evade, why not a 5% fizzle chance from Poison Stance?

Light Footed:
Does this work? Do we even know what the devs consider "movement slowing" effects? Roots? or just Snares?

Snap Kick:
Is the silence supposed to work regardless of whether or not we knock our target down? Does the silence work at all? I'm pretty sure it doesn't. Are we supposed to be able to knock everyone down? Barbarians and other classes 'knockdowns' effect everyone- why wouldn't Snap Kick? We're not sure what the intentions are behind this skill.

From the Darkness:
This skill needs to work properly. I hit about 50% of the time with this skill, the other 50% I charge stun someone and stare at them longingly. Even at 50/50, or 30/70, or 10/90 (on the damage portion) it would still be useful... but there shouldn't be any need for percentages here... and your milage WILL vary. If you're fighting people who move around, or if you're using it to open your success rate will be alarmingly higher than if you attempt to use it while fighting a moving target.

Death's Gaze:
This skill needs to work properly, or at all, this is by far the skill that I've had "fire off" the most without actually working. I would give this a 10-20% success rate, and that's being generous... I only ever really use the skill while a target is trying to combo or flee in PvP... so the success rate would vary widely if you were using it directly after FtD or on a Mob/random person standing still.

Phantom Skill usage:
The game simply shouldn't allow you to use a skill and eat up the shard/cooldown if it's not going to give your character the buff. I can't use excellent balance while stunned/knocked down, why can I use Golden Lotus Extract and essentially lose a match because the game hasn't updated yet and won't let me "cast" it? This effects a countless number of abilities and is a large problem.

The hitbox for landing a combo while jousting even for a very skilled player against people like me who do not stand still, who hop around like a crazed maniac, and generally jump on anything they can find is extraordinarily difficult. Making the hitboxes larger and the melee weapon ranges larger would make fighting other players a lot more reasonable.... let's not even get into how lag plus the ity bitty hitbox is comical. I jousted with another rogue for something like 3 minutes last night where we were both sprinting and moving around so quickly that the server simply couldn't put us both in the same place at the same time to combo each other.

Female Attack Speed:
By far the worst bug I've seen in a release game that has stuck around since beta. This isn't an exploit, it's just disheartening. At one point I considered postponing my blog until this was corrected but I decided in the end that this wouldn't really help anyone and would hurt new assassins trying to find their way.

Group Combat. Enough said.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Build Something

A few notes about my builds in general:

Light Footed: As I understand it currently, Light Footed is bugged. In all of my hybrid builds this would be the choice over Cat's Paw. So for example, in my Corruption/Swift Strikes/Offhand build rather than have 2 in Cat's Paw I would have 2 in Light Footed.

Hybrid - Corruption / Swift Strikes / Offhand Hits

I put this build together as an almost purely offensive minded Hybrid build. This is the build I'm currently using. The focus is around Deft Blades, Corrupting Strikes, Dark Weapons, Dread Weapons, and Burden to Bear. The idea behind this build is that during a fight, if you're able to proc Burden to Bear and land a Swift Strikes your target should die. You have the passive +offhand, but you also have Corrupting Strikes that you can fire off mid combo to increase your +offhand even further. You also have the utility that comes with Snap Kick/Golden Lotus Extract/Cat's Paw to makeup for the lack of Unholy Armor.

Variant: You could move the 5 from Dread Weapon into Unholy Armor and have a more balanced build.

Corruption Melee Survivability Build

If you're finding that casters drop relatively easy (and they do- but only if you open) then perhaps you need to find that staying power versus melee. When you go up against those Guardians, Conquerors, Barbarians... classes most Assassins are afraid to fight this build gives you a pretty large edge over the previous build- you lose your 'extra heal' in Golden Lotus Extract but you focus on mitigation, stun/knockdown prevention, and you use your leeches to heal in Golden Lotus' place.

I still haven't been able to make Slow Death Strikes comparable to Swift Strikes in damage output within the current itemization parameters and with two ranks of Grim Corruption and Impede Life available to use in between Swift Strikes cooldowns, I would still suggest avoiding Vile Corruption.

Corruption Slow Death Strikes Build

This is my corruption build which has a lot of the melee survivability but focuses on Slow Death Strikes/Dark Weapons/Dread Weapons and Seeds of Corruption plus Burden to Bear to bring out the damage instead of Swift Strikes. Currently the Swift Strikes build has been slightly more effective but when itemization kicks in I could see the Slow Death Strikes build being very, very good due to the lack of Unholy Invulnerability stat floating around.

Variant: One thing I've tried to do is get accelerated with my Slow Death Strikes build but I just can't justify the point difference, if you're trying to do it in corruption.

Lotus Poison Stacking Build

The idea behind this build is that you would focus on landing Grim Corruption IV, Grim Corruption III (the debuffs stack to be a total -8.8% Poison Invulnerability) and then fire off a Slow Death Strikes. By that time Corrupted Body (more -% Poison Invulnerability) should've proc'd, you would have Kidney Shots up and be putting out a seriously large amount of DoT damage with Flesh Rot and Lotus Weapons. Curse of the Lotus in this build is your Death's Gaze AND From the Darkness, in that... with a Lotus Build when you open on someone, it's almost exclusively going to be Stealth Attack -> Curse of The Lotus -> Grim Corruption IV -> Grim Corruption III. You have to be extremely fast to land Grim Corruption while the target is moving from Curse of the Lotus. This build is extremely strong against casters with the base invulnerability's along with 5 Excellent Balance and 3 Escape Artist and Golden Lotus Extract.

Build Your Own: In this build, I've left 5 points unspent. This is for a couple of reasons. One, I haven't tested enough. I would strongly suggest looking at Arcane Backlash, Combo Blindside, Acrobat, Toughness, Swift Shadows, Quick Recovery, and Second Wind as possible options. Combo Blindside in particular looks interesting, if you can land it during SA->Curse of the Lotus, but that's a pretty large if.

The original direction I planned on taking with this post, was that I would give you several (8+) different builds with tiny variances and reasons for those variances. I decided that this would've been a bit pretentious and was also very time consuming so what I did instead was showcase the three primary builds and what you should be looking to do with all three of them. I have some pretty off the wall defensive builds and offensive builds and perhaps in time I'll post some of them, but with the sheer amount of bugs and no idea how itemization is going to scale, I don't think it would be appropriate. In a month or so when people are in mostly dungeon gear/upgraded gear, I'll revisit my builds and post my alternative builds that were left out today.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How to Play Your Level 80 Assassin

This mini-section of the PvP guide I'm working on is one of the most important parts. Due to the seriously unhandleable amount of ingame tells I've received and the glut of level 80 assassins complaining about how they are bad in PvP I've decided to post this early, and interrupt my Corruption guide (part 2 and 3 are still on the way, though...) One important note is this really applies to level 70+, lower than 70 just isn't that important to me PvP-wise and it's a completely different animal.

Special thanks to Kimbo and Grehm on Tyranny for helping with all of the testing.

Two things I want to make perfectly clear:

I have all of the respect in the world for those of you who sent me tells attempting to be a better player. I've had level 80 assassins in rival guilds sending me tells saying they just needed to work on their pvp and wanted to know where to start, I've had level 20's and 30's sending me tells asking for help getting better at leveling. I really think these players, the people sending me tells asking how they can get better, sending ideas to me to test, helping me get better, or bouncing ideas back and forth with me are really the people that I'm posting this for.

I have absolutely zero respect for anyone posting about how you're class is terrible, how you're garbage, how you're quitting, rerolling a ToS, whatever. You aren't putting forth any effort, you aren't contributing anything, you're basically chicken little two weeks into the games release. You are claiming the class is doomed, claiming 99% or some equally ridiculous number pulled from thin air of assassins are having equally frustrating play experiences, though you have no idea. Basically, you're worthless. This blog is not about getting hits, or generating traffic, as you can see I have zero advertisements and have no monetary motivations for driving traffic to my blog. This blog is about helping players that have a desire to help themselves.

All that being said, here is the excerpt from my PvP guide:

How to Open - The Most Important Part of Any Engagement:

One thing you need to understand or grasp before you begin engaging in PvP whether it be 1v1 or GvG is how the PvP in this game works right now. The general feeling that I get PvPing post 70 is there is a strong kill or be killed attitude.

It's strikingly similar to how World of Warcraft arena was early on during Season One. No one had substantial resilience gear and there was no arena water so you had to simply kill or be killed.

So you have a system in AoC where you win or lose a fight in around 15 seconds in general. There are classes HoX, Conqueror, and Ranger that can literally one shot you. There are classes that should they root, stun, or knock you down will win almost all of the time. How do you deal with this? Well, the simple answer is you stunlock them to death, and if they're not dead by the time stunlock is up- you immune yourself to CC, if they're not dead halfway through CC immunity, you run away.

This brings about a very important question (and at this point in the game, the most important question, and that is in what order do you use your skills during the first 10-15s? This is by far the most important part of the fight and if you're not doing it textbook you're going to have serious problems. I've done a lot of testing, Kimbo and Grehm have let me attack them for hours on end, and this is basically what we've come up with. I'm crediting Kimbo with the first step in this combo, he's the real pioneer, I just happen to be the one willing to try every single combination until I find out what works the best, put it in excel, and the put it in a blog.

As of right now, this is very rudimentary. I mean that literally, in that... I have a feeling for what works best- but I haven't been able to test it on every class extensively to find out which open works best on which class. So I'm going to give you the generic how-to, and you can wait for the full write-up with class breakdown and different combos to use.

1.) Use Lunge
Using this skill will bring you out of stealth.

2.) Use From the Darkness
You will charge the target, stun them for 3s, and your hit will resemble a sneak attack in damage while granting you a soul fragment. You get +25% on the mainhand lunge and you get an extra large offhand hit which on occasion hits for more than the mainhand but they're usually pretty comparable. There are three things that will add greatly to the success of this Lunge->From the Darkness combo and are detailed below.

2.a.) Movement
You CAN NOT From the Darkness a moving target. You absolutely have to wait until they are standing still. If the target is standing still From the Darkness will work correctly almost all of the time. If the target is moving, it will barely ever work correctly.

2.b.) Distance
The distance you charge with From the Darkness can have an effect on your success. It gives the player a fraction of a second to move and screw up your attack. You want to open up at the minimum range so the From the Darkness travel time is a little as possible.

2.c.) Practice
Practice opening like this on mobs, it works just as well and you'll get a feel for the timing of the following steps. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

3.) Grim Corruption
At this point, you have one Soul Fragment and you're on top of a target that should be at 70-50% health (depending on class... usually closer to 50% health...)You want to fire off Grim Corruption as quickly as possible. You will intially be surprised at how many people die from simply Lunge-FTD-Grim Corruption, but don't let it get to your head... a lot of classes won't.

4.) Death's Gaze
Using this will use your first soul fragment. This skill has a chance to stun OR fear. This doesn't skill and From the Darkness have no immunity conflicts. You can even switch up Step 3 and 4 if you're having issues with timing, but I don't suggest it because it lowers the power level of the combo quite a bit. What you're essentially doing here is Cheap Shot (From the Darkness) into Kidney Shot (Death's Gaze). If you land Death's Gaze after Grim Corruption and the stun from From the Darkness is still up, the target will not move when feared. If you land it while the target is not moving, they will not move generally. I've found that in PvP it tends to stun more, and in PvE it tends to fear more, but that's basically irrelevant. The next step is a choice in playstyle and also depends on which class you're playing against.

5.a.) Avatar of Death / Excellent Balance
At this point you should have one soul fragment left. You should use your last soul fragment to pop Avatar of Death (anti CC) and you should pop Excellent Balance. Avatar will protect you for 20s, and Excellent Balance for 10s. This will make you immune to Stun, Knockdown, Root, etc. I then move to 5.b.) though the skills can be exchanged, if you're playing super aggressive and don't think the person will get a chance to CC you or you think they're going for a heal over CC.

5.a.) Corrupting Strikes
During Death's Gaze as well I'll often pop Corrupting Strikes, which costs a soul fragment, if I happened to generate an extra during my combos. I do this so that when I fire through Swift Strikes I have > 20% chance to OH hit all of the Swift Strike hits. This isn't necessary but it helps, and after you do this you will be out of Soul Fragments until you land other combos.

5.b.) Swift Strikes
During Death's Gaze after I've blown my anti-cc I start working on Swift Strikes and go for the kill with it.

From here, I evaluate the situation. If I think I can get the kill I continue, use leeches, etc, if I don't, I run. There are exceptions. There are classes where you need to open differently, but as a whole this should increase your success significantly. Sometimes I'll Impede Life during Death's Gaze, sometimes I'll force a healer to blow their 1 minute heal cooldown and the run away and reset the fight so I can kill them while it's not up. These are class dependent decisions that I'm not including in this snippit of my PvP guide. There are a lot of little things here that are dependent on the situation but those first 5 steps are what will make you notice an immediate, significant, and sustainable power difference.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Corruption - Part 1

This post in particular took significantly longer to test and to write than I expected. This post will be a thorough review of all of the feats in the Corruption tree. The next two parts that will be posted will be an 'overall' review and comparison to Lotus, with applications of both and possible builds including full Lotus, full Corruption, and Hybrid builds.

Active requires you to use an ability.
Passive is effective all of the time, and requires you to do nothing other than spend the feat points.

Improved Unholy Stance (passive)
This is the basic Unholy Tree feat. The important thing to know about this feat is that you proc Corrupting Blades from it, which lowers your targets evade by 5%. This is particularly useful against mobs, rogues, and soldiers.

Corrupting Strikes (active)
What you get in this feat with 5 points is +20% offhand hitrate for 10 seconds. The cooldown is 20 seconds, and requires a soul fragment.

Vile Corruption (passive)
Vile corruption gives +25% damage to the DoT portion of your Slow Death Strike combo.

Looking at Corrupting Strikes and Vile Corruption, the two "tier two" feats that you have to choose from you really only have to ask yourself one question:
Am I spec'ing for PvE or PvP? I haven't tested Vile Corruption thoroughly enough to say that Corrupting Strikes is without a doubt more useful in PvE, but I have tested Corrupting Strikes and can say without a doubt that if you use Slow Death Strikes at all Vile Corruption is better than Corrupting Strikes which you may never use. The problem with Corrupting Strikes in a PvP environment is that it requires a soul fragment and it requires a button press. The skill, which is +20% offhand hit for 10 seconds is *great* in PvE and I kept it up almost all of the time. When you're in a PvP encounter the fight is usually short to the point that you do not need to use this skill, or it long to the point that your soul fragments are better used on various life leeches, Death's Gaze, and Avatar of Death.

Unholy Strength (passive)
This is yet another solid feat. 5 points in Unholy Strength give you +25% damage to your Swift Strikes combo which, when you get it off, is pretty devestating. On mobs in particularly I was doing Swift Strikes IX for ~7000 damage, but we'll touch on that later with feat usage/timing. I don't see this as an absolute necessity in PvP but for PvE it will be. If you're spec'ing for PvP I can see *passing* on this for the upcoming feats, Spirit of Nightfall and Soul Prison and using Slow Death Strike with the 5 points in Vile Corruption rather than using Swift Strikes. Some people would opt to go Corrupting Strikes/Unholy Strength for it's PvE strengths and some prefer people the upfront damage of Swift Strikes to the DoT from Slow Death Strikes. I believe that both are equally viable but should be mutually exclusive in that, I wouldn't go Unholy Strength, Vile Corruption, as it turns out being a redundant use of feats.

Rapid Striking (passive)
Rapid Striking reduces the cooldown on Swift Strikes. This feat is 100% PvE oriented, and while I would strongly recommend it for PvE, I would equally recommend NOT taking it for PvP. My reasoning behind not recommending this in PvP is that often times you'll find yourself wanting to chain combos, or you'll follow a long hard to land combo such as Swift Strikes by a short, easy to land combo such as Grim Corruption or Impede Life. The times you want to use Swift Strikes back to back in PvP are so few and far between that this is essentially a waste of 3 feat points. That being said, for PvE you want to use your hardest hitting combo repeatedly and as often as it is up, so Rapid Striking in that regard is good- in the 'group' 80 instances I've done, I mostly spammed Swift Strikes (with a lot of cooldown usages in between) and came out on top in damage done (excluding AoE packs.)

Spirit of Nightfall (passive)
This feat gives you a small chance to capture soul fragments on regular hits (ie, you don't have to combo.) I didn't do significant testing on the proc rate, but if I had to guess I would say 15% (5/10/15% for 1/2/3 points spent.) This is a prerequisite to Soul Prison.

Soul Prison (active)
This feat further improves upon its prerequisite (Spirit of Nightfall) by giving you a usable ability that makes regular attacks (including combo starters, and combo pieces prior to the combo actually firing off) a high chance to capture soul fragments. Once again, I didn't do significant testing on the proc rate but if I had to guess, I would say that with Spirit of Nightfall and this active the proc rate on regular swings for Soul Fragments is somewhere around ~80%.

Relish in Death (passive)
Relish in Death gives you a soul fragment whenever your team performs a fatality.

I'm covering these three feats together even though they are in different tiers because they all serve the same purpose, and that is to improve your soul fragment generation. Soul Prison and by extension its prerequisite Spirit of Nightfall are useful in both PvE and PvP but not necessarily necessary. They help produce soul fragments on those longer fights which require you to use leeches, as you'll see though- a *lot* of fights won't require you to use your leeches at all, but soldier classes, other rogues, or even casters if they land a root on you will put out some damage so having the soul fragments available is helpful. In PvE, you generate enough Soul Fragments (all you do is combo, over and over-) that I do not believe that either of these feats would be *necessary* for PvE but they are useful in that you can Consume Souls more often for stamina and you can keep Corrupting Strikes up every cooldown, along with Avatar.

Dark Weapons (passive)
Dread Weapons (passive)

Dark Weapons and Dread Weapons both proc ~150-250 shadow damage procs which are practically identical in damage and I believe proc rate.Dark Weapons procs off of mainhand hits and Dread Weapons procs off of offhand hits so you will see Dark Weapons proc much more frequently, as you mainhand hit more often than you offhand hit. Without a doubt, every build in Corruption should include 5 points in Dark Weapons. Dread Weapons on the other hand is entirely dependent on certain builds. I wouldn't recommend Dread Weapons unless you are doing a PvE Corruption or an offhand damage build (both of which will be covered in the "build" section after the review.)

Life Leech (active)
Your first effective leech feat, Life Leech requires a soul fragment to use and for each feat point spent here, you get one attack that leeches back life each time you use the ability.. Whether or not you choose this feat depends upon what type of build you're looking for, but at 5 points and one soul fragment spent, I usually leech around 625 health, which is around 125 per attack for 5 attacks.

Necrotic Leech (active)
Your second leech feat, Necrotic Leech is more geared towards AoE and multiple enemies and requires a soul fragment. If you use it on a single mob you'll notice the effect is rather underwhelming, but there is no limit (as far as I could see) to the number of enemies that can be afflicted. Any time you're pulling multiple mobs (or fighting multiple players) you'll want to fire off Necrotic Leech, and for the one point investment I would take this feat in absolutely any corruption build.

Vampyric Nature (active)
This is the last of your leech feats and by far the most effective. This feat gives you an ability that gives you a short buff that allows each of your melee hits to heal you. The amount healed scales with the amount of damage you do and is by and far the best of the leech feats available. When you're fighting an individual or solo mob you'll always want to fire off Vampyric Nature first, much like if you're fighting a group you'll want to fire off Necrotic Leech first, and then Vampyric, and lastly Life Leech.

Dark Inspiration (passive)
Increases the chance of inflicting a crit with your Swift Strike combo starter. If you don't know what a combo starter is, please read my lotus leveling feat guide. This is one point, and not necessarily important. I don't hit a lot of my Swift Strike combo starters in PvP because I fire it up if someone gets feared or is kiting me so I can move in for the big hit, so for me this point is better spent elsewhere. For PvE though, where you're chain Swift Striking I can see this being a decent feat.

Unholy Armor (passive)
Unholy Armor gives you +10% to all of your physical invulnerability ratings while in Unholy Stance. This feat is absolutely necessary for PvP and not as much for PvE. In the few group instances I've done >75 most of the damage I've taken has been splash damage, or spell damage, both of which were healed relatively easy with the three leech abilities.

Unholy Soul (passive)
Soul Strike (active)

I did a lot of testing on Soul Strike as I was really interested in how it behaved with other skills such as Swift Strikes up to the last hit, Lunge, Soul Strike, combo out. I will lump in Unholy Soul with Soul Strike as it's essentially an additional cost to the feat as the unholy invulnerability that you gain isn't particularly useful for any given build or in any given PvE or PvP scenarios that would warrant 3 feat points. Soul Strike at this point in time, is mostly useless. It requires 4 feat points (3 in Unholy + 1), and it's soul purpose is to when calculating damage- look at piercing invulnerability instead of unholy invulnerability. There are absolutely no other bonuses to using this skill. Now, saying that it is useless now is not saying that it won't be useful in the future. One particular scenario in which this skill would be almost required would be if soldier classes (or anyone for that matter) obtain a particularly high piercing invulnerability and a particularly low unholy invulnerability. If gear happens to scale this was, using soul strike and then the final hit on swift strikes could be a substantial increase in damage... but as it stands now it's minimal, and not worth the 4 feat point investment.

Seeds of Corruption (passive)
Seeds of Corruption is very similar to Unholy Soul in that, it doesn't benefit you in very many situations. For this feat to be effective it needs to significantly impact your damage. It doesn't. The only unholy damage you're putting out is from Slow Death Strikes and Dark Weapons and the fact that Seeds of Corruption has to actually proc on the target makes this seem like a mediocre feat at best. At some point this talent may be more useful, while raiding it'll be an increase to multiple players damage and if you're going for a Slow Death Strikes build it may be wise to test it further than I have, but I didn't notice anything special and it's DEFINITELY not worth it if you go for the Swift Strikes build.

Lunge (active)
This is easily one of the single best feats you get in either tree. This feat gives you a damage bonus on your next swing, plus it gives you a 100% chance to proc an offhand hit. At 5 points the bonus damage is 25%. The applications and uses of this feat go far beyond just popping it when you're going to swing in on a given target. You want to time your usage of Lunge so that you get the maximum effect. I don't want to give away my biggest PvP secret (yet) but one application would be to use Swift Strikes, once you get to the last attack- lunge, and then fire off the combo. You will get the +25% damage on all 5 Swift Strike attacks, and get offhand hits on all 5 Swift Strike Attacks. This turns a 1300-1400 (total Swift Strike damage) into a 1800-1900 (total swift strike damage)... non crit, not including Dark Weapons/Dread Weapons which usually proc when you fire off a Lunge Swift Strike. I will hint that this is not the absolute best use of Lunge, but I won't be giving out any more information on that until I release my PvP guide and/or video.

Prediction (passive)
+10% evade. Amazing.

From the Darkness (Active)
The staple for corruption assassins, this particular feat behaves much like intercept in World of Warcraft. You need to be in a 10-25 yard range from your target. When you fire off From the Darkness, you charge (and stun for 3 seconds) the target and then do an attack that does pretty significant damage. This acts as a combo and gives you a soul fragment. A few things you need to know about From the Darkness: The closer you are to the target, the longer the stun. The reason for this is as soon as you use the skill the target gets stunned, so if you're charging from 25 yard it'll seem like a 1 second stun as opposed to a 3 second stun. The next thing you need to know is that you absolutely cannot use this ability effectively on a moving target. You really have to work on timing and being closer also helps this as the chance of them moving during a 10yd stun charge is slightly less than them moving on a 25yd stun charge. I'll say that when I use FtD (and it lands) it's almost always immediately followed by Grim Corruption, Death's Gaze (to stun/fear), followed by Avatar of Death/Excellent Balance to make yourself immune to CC at which point I simply zerg them down with a big combo.

Burden to Bear (passive)
+15% damage on most of your attacks sound good? Well, Burden to Bear gives -15% to your targets piercing invulnerability rating. This is huge. All of your attacks except for Dark Weapon procs and Slow Death Strikes DoT are piercing. It procs relatively often, and is well worth the 3 point investment.

Death Whirlwind (active)
Death Whirlwind is an AoE unholy damage attack. This is primarily used for AoE grinding and as a prerequisite for Death's Gaze and Avatar of Death.

Death's Gaze (active)
You want CC? Here it is. Death's Gaze, with 5 points invested, fears or stuns your target for approximately 5 seconds. This effect doesn't break on damage, and I usually do it directly after my From the Darkness/Grim Corruption as that generates two soul fragments. Combined (and executed properly) will result in ~8 seconds where the target is completely unable to do anything.

Avatar of Death (Active)
Avatar of Death is a 20 second anti CC with +30% damage tacked on. I don't need to tell you how insanely good this is. It requires a soul fragment.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Leveling Plateau (Part 2) - (60-72)

Let's see here, we left off at level 60. You just grinded your heart out in Eiglophian Mountains and are finally feeling the freedom that is level 60.

You're 20 levels away from 80 and only 10 levels away from your top feats, FYI.

When you hit 60, regardless of class or spec unless you saved your points up you should probably respec and take full advantage of all of your newly accessible feats and you can spec towards your end-game build as the level 70 feats are one pointers.

Level 60-63: Thunder River (West Side)
To start off, do the initial quests on the west side of the zone. Once you've completed the few delivery quests I would suggest grinding on the 62-63 humanoids that have a repeatable quest (Scoundrels and Brigands) in the first two camps south of town. Unlike my previous guide in Eiglophian where dying to re-obtain the repeatable quest was profitable, the repeatable quests here require you to kill too many mobs (20 of each) that are inconsistently placed. Here I want you to simply grind out those 2-3 pulls with chain kills and *when* (not if) you die, grab the repeatable quest if you have it completed. At 62 move a little further south to the 63-64 boars or if you're feeling saucy the 63-64 humanoids (Chaplains and Occultists) which are slightly more difficult.

There are wanted posters for each of these initial 3 "grind spots" (Scoundrels & Brigands, Chaplains and Occultists, Boars), so when you pick them up you can see clearly on your map the progression of grinding going from northern to southern.

Level 63-65: Thunder River (East Side)
Head to the east side of Thunder River, to the second town there, pick up the quests and head out to kill Picts. Your primary source of experience here will be grinding Picts while doing the quests in this area. As an alternative you could head to Atzel's Approach and I would strongly recommend it once you finish the first line of quests, but you *can* grind to 65 on the eastern side of Thunder River if you can handle the archers and casters.

Level 63-65: Atzel's Approach - Quests
The alternative to the eastern side of Thunder River (which can be brutal with the archer/caster mobs) would be the beginning quests in Atzel's. They yield a fair amount of experience and involve killing level 61-67 mobs which are right around your ballpark. These quests along with some grinding which you can do on the Troglodytes, Worms, or Atzel humanoids, should take you to 65.

Level 65-70: Atzel's Approach - Grinding
The real grinding in Atzel's starts around 65-66 and can become quite tedious and boring. I would suggest grinding where you find the Atzel Watch/Warden mobs for the appropriate wanted poster. This area is the western/northern part of the zone and I believe the teal dot is labeled Skrammestein or something along those lines.

Huge tip: Get the resurrection point near the bridge of blood as you will die often here whether it be from roaming players or over pulling archers and casters..

Here you'll be killing level 66-69 melee, caster, and archer mobs. If you're at the lower end of this spectrum I would avoid multiple pulls with casters or archers unless they are right next to each other. Go ahead and pull those melee and keep grinding it out. The mobs respawn fast and if you go in the fort slightly north of the rez point there is a quest and relatively quiet grinding compared to the "outside" camps.

Level 70-72: Atzel's Approach - Atzel's Fortress
At level 70 you want to head to Atzel's Fortress. Here is where you'll find level 73-75 mobs and they'll give you a lot of experience. Like all of the other areas in Atzel's Approach you're looking at multiple mob pulls, using potions often, and line of sighting archers/casters to get them close so you can kill them.

AOE Grinding:
If you know people who want to level with you, especially AOE/healer classes, INVITE THEM! From 68-70 I was literally earning *double* the amount of experience I was earning solo farming in a group of 5-6 farming Atzel's Fortress. It's not difficult to find a group and you can always have the highest level person apprentice the others. Looking at around 1 million+ experience per level going to 80 with quite a bit of grinding, having the company helps as well.

Just FYI, there will be competition for spawns and you will get killed if you're on a PvP server, at some point. Check the top right corner / instance selection and look for a new instance to pop up. Last night on Tyranny we had two and a lot of heartache was saved just by switching instances.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Leveling Corruption - Evii @ 70

After leveling 1-67 (so far) as Lotus I decided it was time to give Corruption some attention and get a feel for which talents were useful, which weren't, and what type of pace I could expect if I decided to go full Corruption later on for PvP.

I'm currently level 67 and will be hitting 70 on Thursday. I plan to do 70-70.5 grinding as Lotus and 70.5-72 grinding as Corruption. This is a relatively small amount of time to be testing out a new build and available feats but I feel like an hour (half a level) as Lotus with the two new level 70 feats I'll have access to should be plenty of time to gauge their usefulness, as I've been leveling Lotus for the past 70 levels and am well aware of the power level of Snap Kick, Golden Lotus, etc.

As soon as I hit 70.5, I'm going to go respec to Corruption and continue the grind from 70.5-72. This should give me ample time to get used to soul fragments along with a slightly different set of hotkeys and allow me to compare the two specs from what I would consider an experienced perspective. It will still be an elementary comparison because it will be lacking the all important level 80 tests but this will give you Corruption hearted Assassins something to read.

My Corruption analysis will go up on Friday, May 30th.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Leveling Lotus - Revamped

Preface: This is a revamp of the Lotus leveling feat build. I'm keeping the old build because while there are things wrong with it, I still think that the evolution of the guide is important to recognize. I've since hit level 62 and have learned an extraordinary amount about what is and is not good, what is and is not effective. I've bounced some ideas off of Camaan, the first level 80 Assassin worldwide who also happened to level Lotus, and a few others who are between 60 and 80 and have experience with Lotus and Corruption builds.

I have removed some excess weight that was very circumstantial (Flesh Necrosis/Combo Blindside) and I've made sure that all of the feats that you obtain will help you kill, survive, or survive by killing. I've also ordered them in such a way to maximize their effectiveness. The important change in this guide has to deal with how you approach level 50. So please, re-read the guide (especially the bottom, where we get to level 50/60 specs and how this will change your performance.)

So here is the new and improved leveling lotus feat build:

Level 10-14: Improved Poison Stance (5 points)
Relatively simple choice, you should always be in a stance and going down the Lotus tree this is your only choice.

Level 15-19: Flesh Rot (5 points)
I know early on it can be underwhelming, but you have to keep in mind this is PASSIVE and it's a flat damage increase that can stack up to 5 times.

Level 20: Cat's Paw (1 point)
Assassins early on have trouble getting used to being squishy and not having "outs." Well this is one of your outs and can be used when you need to take on 2-3 stronger mobs or a boss mob. It gives you (some) evasion for 10s which will be ramped up later.

Level 20-24: Deft Blades (5 points)
Yet another passive damage increase, it gives you a percentage chance to hit with your offhand weapon.

Level 25-29: Vile Poisons (5 points)
This improves the damage on Slow Death Strike.

Level 30: Golden Lotus Extract (1 point)
This one point wonder is on a cooldown but essentially heals you for 50-60% of your HP and could be considered a "get out of jail free" card. When you use it, it does an instant heal (like a potion) and then adds a HoT which heals the same as the instant heal. In PvE and PvP Golden Lotus Extract especially when combined with potions makes it very easy to escape almost any situation or to heal through a caster nuking you while you're mezzed/rooted/knocked back. Be careful not to use this while using another skill, knocked down, stunned, or so on... you have to wait until it wears off, or this will fail to fire off.

Level 30: Combo Snap Kick (1 point)
This one point wonder is also on a cooldown and like Golden Lotus Extract is one of the Lotus tree's defining feats. You can use it on NPC's and players alike though it rarely works on heavily armored players. Another "get out of jail free" card against any 1-2 mobs you're fighting as it disables them for approximately 4 seconds and CAN hit multiple targets. In PvE I usually potion/Golden Lotus Extract and then go for the Snap Kick if I get low as it stops their damage and allows the HoTs to catch up. This is also great when you're PvP'ing- open with a sneak attack followed by a Momentum stun and then a Snap Kick followed by a Combo.

Level 31-33: Accelerated (3 points)
Makes the cooldown on your Lotus / Poison combos shorter. Simple and passive.

Level 34-37: Cat's Paw (4 points, bringing it to 5 points total)

Level 38-40: Combo Atrophy (3 points)
A defensive combo this lowers your targets damage significantly for a short period of time. I use this on bosses mostly but occasionally on indvidual mobs.

Level 40: Opportunistic Strike (1 point)
This is an ability that makes your next "Combo Starter" a critical strike. One important thing to note is you have to use Opportunistic Strike BEFORE you start the combo. This means you can't go Combo>Opportunistic>First hit. ("Combo Starters" - Remember the "Combo Starter" hit that has a chance to crit is the hit that occurs when you press the Combo button and your character swings- not the first directional arrow hit.) It's on demand dps and it's useful in PvE and PvP, I would suggest using it every time it's up. One other thing worth noting is Opportunistic Strike does not work on feated Combos or on generic Combos such as Cunning Strike. I strongly suggest using this with Slow Death Strike, Grim Corruption, or Swift Strikes as it works for all of these.

Level 41-42: Combo Atrophy (2 points, bringing it to 5 points total)

Level 43: Excellent Balance
This is knockback resistance/immunity. You'll start running into mobs around 40 that are soldiers and will knock you down. They do it very predictively (like most players!) and you can pop this right as you engage a mob you know will knockdown (especially if there is a group) and save yourself a lot of taken damage and time spent out of commission.

Level 44-48: Combo Sabotage Armor
This combo lowers your targets directional shields. It's very short in duration but these points will be respec'd out at 50, and it's useful for taking down bosses solo.

Level 49: N/A

Level 50: It's time to respec.
The most important thing that I overlooked while leveling was that you had to funnel a lot of useful feat points into skills that aren't necessarily top notch. These skills would include Combo Atrophy and Combo Sabotage Armor. At 50 you gain access to Flurry of Blows and Lotus weapons, both of which are exceptional feats. By respec'ing at 50 you can free up those points that you sunk into those not-so-useful Combos while you were leveling and put them into the more useful level 50 tier feats.

At level 50 your talents should look like this, which will include descriptions only for the two new talents, Lotus Weapons and Flurry of Blows:

Improved Poison Stance (5 points)
Flesh Rot (5 points)
Vile Poisons (5 points)
Cat's Paw (5 points)
Deft Blades (5 points)
Accelerated (3 points)
Combo Snap Kick (1 point)
Golden Lotus Extract (1 point)
Opportunistic Strike (1 point)

Level 50: Lotus Weapons (5 points)
This feat is basically a second Flesh Rot and it stacks with Flesh Rot and also can stack up to 5. Again a huge passive DPS increase.

Level 50: Flurry of Blows (5 points)
This gives you a pretty high chance to proc Flurry of Blows which gives you a +15% chance to hit with your offhand weapon for a brief period of time. In my experience, this procs rather often and is a significant DPS increase as well.

Level 50: Lotus Tainted Blood (2 points)
This feat gives you magical invulnerability ratings and is prereq for a feat you want later, Lotus Overload.

Now, after all of this you ask yourself: Why did I respec just to throw these points into Flurry of Blows/Lotus Weapon? Well, the DPS increase is absolutely incredible and I feel like a lot of the Assassins in their 50s that may be struggling may have overlooked how many feat points they had wasted in their leveling builds when they could respec and reallocate those once they meet the level 50 requirement. Also, why only 2 points in Lotus Tainted Blood? I'll still have points left over at 50? Well, the idea is to not have to do this again at 60. If you follow the outline above, you should not spend any additional feat points from 50-60. When you hit level 60 you will have 12 unspent points. You will then distribute those points as follows:

Level 60: Swift Ending (5 points)
Swift Ending adds poison damage to Lotus Weapon/Flesh Rot as the mobs HP gets lower. Basically this is another passive damage increase/debuff and it does a fair amount of damage.

Level 60: Sense weakness (1 point)
Chance to crit on some of your most used Combo Starters such as Grim Corruption, Lethargy, Impede Life, etc. ("Combo Starters" - Remember the "Combo Starter" hit that has a chance to crit is the hit that occurs when you press the Combo button and your character swings- not the first directional arrow hit - this is mentioned under Opportunistic Strike as well.)

Level 60: Assassination (5 points)
Assassination is similar to Swift Ending, as the mob gets lower on health you get more offhand procs. With Flurry of Blows and this you will notice the numbers you're putting out increase a huge amount to the poin that it will start to spam your screen, something most Assassins aren't quite used to.

Level 60: Kidney Shots (1 point)
This gives you an ability which allows you to do more damage. Basically, I use this like Opportunistic Strike... on every cooldown and against bosses/packs larger than two.

Level 61: Lotus Tainted Blood (1 point)
Previously Mentioned

Level 62: Lotus Overload (1 point)
Lotus Overload I haven't quite tested yet but it seemed novel, and at this stage casters are really quite annoying (Thunder River...) This basically says if someone crits you, you become almost immune to spells for a period of time. I have yet to test this talent so I won't comment on it further.

I hope everyone enjoys the new guide as I spent quite a bit of time on it. The increase in efficiency (intially at 50, but even moreso at 60) will make you Assassin players that stuck it out absolutely esctatic. ENJOY!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Leveling Plateau (40-60)

As of the last blog post I was level mid 40s. I stalled out quite a bit in the mid 40s when I had finished all of the quests in Field of the Dead and wasn't quite sure what to do so here is my "38-55+" which turned out to be a huge success. 47-55 coming in one day. I did a big chunk of this Friday and have managed to make up quite a lot of ground on the power leveling folks with 100% playtime while working 9 hours a day myself.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A lot of people are experiencing crashes in Field of the Dead. To correct this, BEFORE you enter the zone disable your sound via the ingame audio options and put your shaders to version 2.0. This should stop you from randomly locking up.

38-45: Noble District / Field of the Dead
This is the particularly dry and uninventive portion. You want to do a mix of the Noble District (Old T) and Field of the Dead (off of C Valley.) In what order you do this is up to you but due to the close rez points in the Noble District I would recommend leveling there first as you'll be fighting mobs a few levels above you. Around 40-41 you will run out of quests that are available at your level in the Noble District, I would recommend a little grinding to ensure that you hit level 41.

Next, you should head to Field of the Dead. You will do quests in the first three Field of the Dead camps and around 44 you'll hit a plateau where you don't have any quests but you aren't quite high enough for the next round of quests (and the Haunted Forest.) Grind to 45 at one of the camps with humans, ones that you can take down 1-3 at a time with little to no rest which usually means they'll be even level or slightly below.

45-49: Field of the Dead
This level range will be a mix of the eastern camp, the small camp above the haunted forest and misc leftover quests from before. You want to spend most/all of your time in the haunted forest as the mobs are relatively easy, solo pullable, grindable, respawn quickly, and there are quests that you can complete.

49-53: Eiglophian Mountains
At 49 things get really really interesting and this is when you can really start to take off. To begin with I would suggest doing the quests at the small starting camps and the other misc quests that send you out and about. That's not what this guide is about, though. There is a settlement in the northern center of the map, Settlement of Dinog. There are "wanted" posters here for Cannibals of the West/East (later on North), etc. What these posters do is give you a repeatable quest that requires you kill 25 mobs. When the 25th mob dies, you get a XP bonus for the quest which is around 4750 XP. If you're getting 800 XP per mob, every 25th mob is worth 6.75 mobs (himself + 5.75.) adding about 20% to your experience with little to no additional travel time.

You want to start with Cannibals of the East as this camp is the closest to the settlement and will allow for the fastest turnover. So obtain the quest from the wanted poster and head east to the Cannibals and begin your slaying. This is basically grinding with a bonus experience modifier From 49-53 you can do approximately 1 level per 1 hour and 30 minutes using this method, solo.

IMPORTANT TIP: While doing this is look for additional open instances periodically in the instances list. Often times you can switch to the new instance before it becomes populated and have the area to yourself. This means faster killing, which means faster quest finishes, which leads to faster leveling.

53-55 Eiglophian Mountains
At or around 53 the experience will slow down from Cannibals of the East, it may be overcamped, or you may be bored. Either way, at 53 a better leveling option opens up and it has to do with the White Hand camps in the mountains to the north. At 53 you can get *three* wanted poster quests for White Hands north of Dinog. One comes from Dinog, the other two come from the mountain Hunter Camp up near Cannibals of the North on your map. The method here is similar to what you did from 49-53 or 54 but there are more steps. First, you obtain all three quests and head up to the White Hands and complete all three. After you complete all three, suicide yourself and rez at the Hunter Camp and pick up the two quests from the wanted poster again, jump off of the Hunter Camp and suicide again, rez in Dinog and pick up the third White Hand quest and head north and do it all over again. You're using the same method but you're stacking quests at the same time which ends up being profitable and also makes the grind mentally tolerable. Two of the three quests where you kill White Hands both count towards the quests. This means that each "run" to the White Hands you will kill 50 mobs (they're worth around 1k each at this point) and receive an extra 16,500 XP. An astounding 30% gain over grinding just by suiciding twice every 50 mobs and making a 1.5 minute run (or less) back up to the camps.

So far doing this I'm 55 and it was by no means slowing down, taking 1:15 to 1:45 per level depending on deaths and how many times you accidentally rez at the wrong camp!

NOTE: I've heard and red about a lot of people grinding in the Cannibal Caves in the Eiglophian Mountains. I did do the quests in that particular area, but I didn't find the grinding (even without having to travel) to be comparable to this method mainly due to the fact that two of the quests stack making those 25 kills worth a lot more.

56+ Eiglophian Mountains
At 55-56 you become capable of killing the level 58-60 humans that are north/northwest of the hunter camp and you also can do the repeatable snow ape quest from the 'stand alone' wanted poster on the left side of the hunting camp building. This quest requires you only kill 15 snow apes (compared to 25 white hand) but there are only ~10 or so spawns at the camp. These mobs are around 1200-1300 XP per kill which is 20-30% over 1k/kill so better/equal to the white hand method except you don't need to suicide and the run is a lot shorter. Grind on the humans and kill the snow apes as they pop and you'll be leveling in no time.

What do you have to look forward to?
-My next blog will go over a few PvP encounters I've had in detail and how I escaped and or dealt with the situations. Screenshots of the terrain, etc.
-When I hit level 80 I plan on doing an in depth combo analysis with the 'cast time' and 'average damage' of each combo using 4 different specs which will be detailed at the time of the testing to see which combos are best, which combo rotations are best, and for what situations (burst, sustained dps, etc...)

Best of luck to everyone on breaking through this difficult leveling bracket, once you hit 60 (and I will hit 60 tonight) you'll really feel like you're making progress and moving towards that end goal of 80.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lotus Leveling - My Feat Build

There have been several posts on the Assassin class forums about Corruption and Lotus which are the two Assassin feat trees and people want to know which in particular is better for leveling. I would have to say hands down that Lotus (post 30) is better for leveling and that prior to 30 neither of them really make a huge difference. Here are the feats I've chosen as I've leveled up (45 now) and the order in which I maxed them out.

Level 10-14
Improved Poison Stance (5 points)

Relatively simple choice, you should always be in a stance and going down the Lotus tree this is your only choice.

Level 15-19
Flesh Rot (5 points)

This skill, often with one weapon swing will do a significant amount of damage. I know early on it can be underwhelming but you have to keep in mind this is PASSIVE and it's a flat damage increase that can stack up to 5 times.

Level 20-23
Cat's Paw (5 points)

Assassins early on have trouble getting used to being squishy and not having "outs." Well this is one of your outs and can be used when you need to take on 2-3 stronger mobs or a boss mob. It gives you great evasion for 10s.

Level 24-26
Flesh Necrosis (3 points)

The key to using this feat correctly for leveling involves watching your combat log. Continue to do your combos but usually when a mob is at around 40% health I'll glance at my combo log and if Flesh Rot is (3) or higher, I'll fire off Flesh Necrosis. It's a stamina-free, combo-free, source of damage and if you manage to see (4) or (5) stacks of Flesh Rot the damage will go up significantly as it's percentage based.

Note: This skill will BUG you if you use it when your target does not have Flesh Rot. Your bars will lockup and you will not be able to swing or use hotkeys. In order to fix this hold your "Active Blocking" button (Default X) and once you see the "defensive" type animation/stance, you're fixed.

Level 27-29
Deft Blades (3 points)

Yet another passive damage increase, it gives you a percentage chance to hit with your offhand weapon. You only want to do three points here because at 30 you get your key feats and you want to be able to get both of them at the same time.

level 30
Golden Lotus Extract (1 point)

This one point wonder is on a cooldown, but essentially heals you for 50-60% of your HP and could be considered a "get out of jail free" card. When you use it, it does an instant heal (like a potion) and then adds a HoT which heals the same as the instant heal. In PvE and PvP Golden Lotus Extract especially when combined with potions makes it very easy to escape almost any situation or to heal through a caster nuking you while you're mezzed/rooted/knocked back.

Snap Kick (1 point)
This one point wonder is also on a cooldown and like Golden Lotus Extract is one of the Lotus tree's defining feats. You can use it on NPC's and players alike though it has a chance to fail on players. Another "get out of jail free" card against any 1-2 mobs you're fighting as it disables them for approximately 4 seconds and CAN hit multiple targets. In PvE I usually potion/Golden Lotus Extract and then go for the Snap Kick if I get low as it stops their damage and allows the HoTs to catch up. This is also great when you're PvP'ing- open with a sneak attack followed by a Momentum stun and then a Snap Kick followed by a Combo.

Level 31-32
Deft Blades (2 points- making it 5 total points)

Level 33-37
Combo Atrophy (5 points)

Yet another defensive combo this lowers your targets damage significantly for a short period of time. I use this on bosses mostly but occasionally on indvidual mobs.

Level 38
Excellent Balance (1 point)

This is knockback resistance/immunity. You'll start running into mobs around 38-40 that are soldiers and will knock you down. They do it very predictively (like most players!) and you can pop this right as you engage a mob you know will knockdown (especially if there is a group) and save yourself a lot of taken damage and time spent out of commission.

Level 39
Accelerated (1 point)

Makes the cooldown on your Lotus / Poison combos shorter. Simple and passive.

Level 40
Opportunistic Strike (1 point)

This is an ability that makes your next combo starter a critical strike. One important thing to note is you have to use Opportunistic Strike BEFORE you start the combo. This means you can't go Combo>Opportunistic>First hit. You have to go Opportunistic>Combo>First hit (Crit!). It's on demand dps and it's useful in PvE and PvP, I would suggest using it every time it's up.

Level 40-42
Combo - Blindside (3 points)

Right around level 39 or so I began to notice stamina regen was becoming an issue and having put all of my attributes in Hide/Skulk/Endurance for PvP reasons I couldn't rest it quickly. How convenient that right around this time you get access to Blindside.

Level 43-44
Accelerated (2 points- making it a total of 3 points)

Level 45-49
Vile Poisons (5 points)

Rounding out your damage dealing ability now that you have survivability and cooldowns, this along with Accelerated is an "okay" damage boost, but better than any of the other alternatives.

This is where my personal experiences stops. Here are my plans through level ~58.

Level 50-53
Lotus Weapon (5 points)

Another "Flesh Rot" and as far as I know they both stack.

Level 54-58
Flurry of Blows (5 points)

Mainhand attacks have a chance of increasing offhand attacks.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Grinding, PvP, and Sanctum


Tuesday started off rough for me. I was at level 37 and really didn't want to go to lower level zones such as Wild Lands or Khopshef to grind out quests so I decided to head to the Noble District solo. I picked up a couple of quests and began killing (one at a time, very cautiously) level 41-42's. Each mob required that I use at least one cooldown to be able to kill it whether it be snap kick, lotus extract, or a potion/evasion.

Around 39 I ran into a level 39 PoM that was also soloing. We needed a change of pace so we partied up and grinded to 41.


During my grind I got ganked, a lot. One person in particular from 'Rising Arms' who was level 41 or so continually killed me while I was fighting mobs and having just arrived, was still level 37. He was a PoM. After the third time, I decided it was time to put all that talking I've done on the Assassin forums to the test. I managed to kill him 3-4 times in as many encounters from full health, with little to no challenge. The fights went something like this:

1) Sneak Attack: 60% HP
2) Double Tap W, Swing, Swing: 40% HP
If the stun doesnt hit on the first two swings, immediately Snap Kick.
3) Snap Kick, Combo (either Quick Strikes or Cunning Strikes): Dead

On occasion I would duck behind a building and restealth if he got away but with Snap Kick, Lotus Extract, and potions I just wasn't dying easily. I played it much like an arena in World of Warcraft where my strategy was open up as hard as I can, if I don't think they're going to die look for a reset or a pillar to play 'pillar craft' on while they're still trying to stabalize. On one occasion I ended up crossbowing him to death when he sprinted off, it hits surprisingly hard. Generally though he died fast enough that he didn't have a chance to run.

Sanctum of the Burning Souls:

Around 41 we picked up two of the Priests friends that I was grinding with from 39-41 and decided we would give Sanctum a go. Our group makeup was:

40 Tempest of Set
41 Priest of Mitra
38 Assassin
41 Assassin

The instance was relatively easy even with 4 people and a subpar group makeup. The cloak and other instance drops (dagger, cloth chest, mace) were all decent and we completed 6 quests that pulled in around 10,000 exp each which was a welcome change. The difficulty and depth of the instance didn't seem impressive and to be honest, it felt really bland. The size was impressive, but the bosses and their mechanics were mediocre at best.

Takeaways from Sanctum:

Flesh Necrosis. I've seen several posts on the Assassin forums saying the skill is useless and this instance has shown me that it is clearly not. Literally every mob we would take down would get to a (5) stack of Flesh Rot and using Flesh Necrosis became almost second nature. It was hitting for around 450 which is a pretty significant chunk for a non-stamina using ability. I'm very pleased with the skill and this is where I've found it most useful so far. I'd venture a guess that in PvP it's useful against heavily armored targets where the fight may be prolonged out of the regular 20s 'comfortable' range of how long it takes us to kill a caster.

If you're going to do an instance you should absolutely bring stamina food/potions if you want to maximize your effectiveness.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Evii's Lotusruption

So with the servers down, I've been playing with the feat calculator looking for a viable PvP spec at 80. Here is what I've come up with.


This build is by no means refined, and is just what I built on my VERY limited experience in Lotus and little to not experience in Corruption.

You get all of the great cooldowns from Lotus that are NECESSARY for PvP:
-Cat's Paw (evasion)
-Deft Blades (offhand damage)
-Golden Lotus Extract (self heal)
-Combo Snap Kick (knockdown)
-Light Footed (snare resist)
-Opportunistic Strike (burst)

You also get the end talents (and everything inbetween) to do a lot of damage in Corruption:
-Death's Gaze (stun/fear)
-From the Darkness (charge/shadowstep)
-Avatar of Death (damage, fear/stun immunity)
-Prediction (evasion chance)
-Necrotic Leech (leech bleed)
-Vampyric Nature (damage->heal)

You put one point in the General Tree for the Knockdown immunity skill.
-Excellent Balance (knockdown immunity)


A large part of (any) new game, especially one where you were not in beta and are moving into a very hostile environment is learning how to survive and just what you're capable of.

Here are some useful things I learned leveling up my Assassin so far in the early access period:

-When you're in combat, if you double tap W (forward) you gain "momentum." This gives your next attack a chance to stun your target. This is good in PvE and PvP. It keeps people from running from you and stops dps from targets in PvE.

-In addition to this, you can double tap S (back) and for a brief period you have a -50% hit rate but a +50% evade rate.

-Holding or pressing X (active block) at key times during your opponents combos can be devestating.

-I quested quite a bit and was running into quite a lot of people that were bloodthirsty because the server just opened. If you're having issues with PvP stopping you from progression check out instances such as The Maze (21-29) and Outflow Tunnels (30-39.)

-The abilities I've maxed are Hide/Stealth Movement Increase/Endurance. The reason for this is because a big part of PvP'ing for me has been either sprinting away to re-hide or sneaking up/trying to open on someone. These three abilities help that and the others are mostly useless. I respec climbing when I hit a quest that needs it, then move it back.

-Make sure you keep the combos on your bar max level and make sure you're using the combos that do the most damage. I usually open in stealth, combo non-stop until the mob(s) are dead and then heal up and repeat. If I get multiple mobs I often have to use my defensive lotus cooldowns (Kick, Lotus Heal, Evasion feat, etc) to survive or sprint/drink potions which brings me to my last tip.

-Buy a lot of potions.

Age of Conan - Early Access

The Early Access for Age of Conan has been by far the most professional, stable, and enjoyable MMO launch I've been a part of. The polish this game has shown is simply unprecedented for an MMO release and I'm very happy to be a part of it from the beginning.

Saturday, May 17th

The day started off staring at the character select/character creator for probably an hour attempting to figure out for sure- which server, class, and race/sex I wanted to play.

I'm as hardcore as they come as a player and decided that a regular PvE server would just not do it in Age of Conan, so I chose to roll on the Tyranny server.

I had wanted to play an assassin since I began following the game during closed beta. I was not a beta player and most of my information was second hand (from so making the class decision wasn't difficult but there were (and still are) several questions. I had heard that the class was a one trick poney (strait single target dps), and they weren't as effective at max level. This was very concerning because from what I've seen the game is really focused towards AoE abilities, healing, and damage. I had also heard female animations were slower than male, which I'm sure was true at some point but I'm not sure if it is still true now.

Still, I decided to continue on and roll a female Aquiolonian Assassin despite the aforementioned concerns. On Saturday I played from 5PM EST-1PM EST Sunday, slept for 5 hours, and began playing again. I've found that being new to the game was quite a hindrance leveling up but I'm beginning to make up ground now at 37 as of server downtime Monday.