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.