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Related topics: Player Guides, Combat

General Skills

Core Melee Skills

  1. Specialized Weapon Skill : This is almost always Sword, UA or Axe, in that order of frequency. The other weapons don't do enough DOT to really support being a Melee.
  2. Specialized Melee Defense: Although some templates shirk this until later levels in favor of buffs and Life Magic early, in the end everyone who can get Spec Melee Def does. That +29 is way too important at higher levels.
  3. Item Magic: High Level play assumes full buffs, banes, and tinkered armor. It is impossible to find perfect weapons with all the spells on them, and impossible to find armor with all the right Banes on them. Ergo, you must have Item Magic to play the game at higher levels. The dozen or so recall spells/points it gives you are also an immense help.
  4. Healing: This is how you heal, even with Life Magic. It's faster, more effective, and cheaper.

Elective Skills

  1. Creature Magic: Virtually every Melee ends up with this, because it's very, very hard to get a full suite of Creature buffs when you're also pining for Epic Cantrips and Wards. Plus, it's nice to be able to buff others when they need it.
  2. Assess Creature: (specialize) The introduction of gearcrafting enabled you to cast Imperil with this skill using a Lens/wand. Normal gets you Imp6/450 skill. Spec gives you Imp7/520 skill! If you don't want to take Life Magic, this is probably a skill you should have.
  3. Life Magic (specialized): Melees specialize this because getting Life Magic just for buffs is rather dumb. To use it offensively, you need to specialize it, because your Low Focus/Self generally means you're starting out at 40 point handicap vs a Trained Mage! To use Imperils and Vulns offensively, Specializing becomes mandatory.
  4. Arcane Lore (specialized?): So you can use all those jewelry and odd armor bits with multiple spells on them that you want to. Since Arcane Reqs can now hit 400, Specializing in Arcane is actually useful.
  5. Lockpick: Yes, it's an 'other guy' skill in fellows. For solo play, and not liking to be slowed down by locked doors on quests, it shines. More Melees take it then the other classes.
  6. Missile Defense: It doesn't really work except for PK (stops machine-gunning archers) and for qualifying for odd bits of (covenant) armor, but why not?
  7. Magic Defense (specialized): Pricey, but the +29 helps tank casters all the more. Makes you about as tough to hit as a Trained Mage.
  8. Missile Weapon (Specialized?): This is the obverse of a Life Spec Melee. You instead have a Missile weapon to perform as a slightly subpar Archer instead of a subpar Life Mage. Crossbows and Thrown Weapons are used for this, the latter highly useful if you want to toss Vials at critters.

Basic Builds

  1. General Melee: A General Melee build has the core skills, plus Arcane, Creature, and Lockpick. It often has points left over to pick up other useful skills, as well.
  2. Life Spec Melee: The Life Spec Melee chucks extra skill for use of offensive Life Magic. The UA Life Spec is the most common of these, having a good weapon and skill points to spare, if Sho. THe Life Melee Imperils and Vulns stuff, often from a safe point, using a highly tinkered up Melee Defense Mod'd wand, and then equips weapon and shield to slaughter them all. They are also able to self-buff, and this frees up equipment slots for more cantrips and wards.
  3. Melee Tank: This is a General Melee who has specced Magic Defense. Usually UA...this is a 12 pt skill, and takes a lot from other potential abilities.
  4. Melee Adventurer: The Melee who takes a spec Missile weapon is an Adventurer, and they will also have Lockpick. Without resorting to magic, they can still perform all the combat functions in a group, and go anywhere and do anything.
  5. Tri-Spec Archer: This is the old Dagger/Bow/Life Magic/Melee Defense build, back when Dagger was awesome. Exclusively Aluvian, the low cost to spec a weapon could actually be fit into the build, and the ability to dump Strength allowed 100 pts to be put into Focus. Extremely strong and versatile builds. Due to the revision and weakness of Dagger, few bother to spec Dagger nowadays.
  6. Tri-Spec Tank: Mostly for PK, this build is specced in Melee, Missile and Magic Defense, mostly to counter-act Trained non-mage debuffers and machine-gun archers.

Tactics and Gameplay

Love Thy Shield

  • 1)A Shield works in your forward arc, an area roughly extending from 9 o'clock to 2 o'clock. This area also falls entirely within your full melee defense perimeter. A Shield functions as a second suit of armor within this arc, using exactly the same formula of every 62.5 pts of Shield Level cutting the dmg down by 1/x+1. Thus, an SL 125 Shield is 1/(2+1) = 1/3 dmg. A Shield with SL 750 against Fire is taking 1/(12+1) = 1/13th dmg. Thus, a shield user can easily be taking 1/10th or less forward melee dmg, compared to an archer or mage!

What this means to a melee is that you have to keep moving and working to keep a spawn in front of your shield. Archers and mages just stand and take it. Melees manuver. They hug walls. They get in corners. They shift to protect vulnerable backsides. Learn to maximize use of the shield arc, and slide around in combat. Shields are also the only quest items that can be found with the Magic Absorption trait. It is less then a 20% reduction in damage from magic, in most cases, but something is definitely better then nothing when you have to go toe to toe with casters.


  • 2) The Melee Defense Penalty to Melee Characters: Didn't know about this, I bet. Well, the mechanics of combat for melee are such that you enjoy a +10% bonus against the next attack from someone you just hit. However, if you are using a melee weapon, and are struck at from the flanks, you take a –20% Melee defense penalty. Mages and Archers clutching their little orbs and bows do NOT suffer this penalty. This means that not only do things behind you not have to put up with your shield, they will hit you far more often then they would a mage or archer!

Remember what I was saying about positioning and not letting people behind you? There ya go. Double whammy time. Keep ‘em in front of your shield, and do NOT let them behind you.

  • 3) You can't fight and hold a position: There is no such thing as a true Melee wall or ‘spear line.' Melees have sticky, which they need in order to be able to follow monsters that are jumping around the screen on them. What this means is a Melee literally cannot hold a position unless he is boxed into it. The ‘Melee Wall' is basically a bunch of Melees standing shoulder to shoulder in peace mode, healing any damage that comes their way as the bad guys try to reach the archers and mages standing behind them. If a Melee tries to fight, he will be pushed back out of the line by charging bad guys, or he'll be dragged forwards by a death or fighting animation, in both cases leaving a hole.

So, if you are going to make a wall, suck it up, you're not an archer, and do it in peace mode.

Luring vs. Pulling

  • 4) You're the only ones who Lure: Luring is simple. You walk slowly up to a spawn. Some of the members turn and decide you look like a punching bag, and wander over to beat you up. You move away from the spawn point before hacking on them, so their buddies aren't unduly alarmed, and hopefully still close enough that they don't lose interest and go trotting back home.

Archers and Mages Pull. The hit of a missile weapon or spell causes a ‘Death Shout' that alerts everything in a broad area. This tends to pull the entire spawn, and then all of that spawn's friends and neighbors, too, which can get really unhealthy, really fast. Archers and mages like to try and kill things that run back and forth, which is a total and complete pain for a melee character. You, too can Pull…wands, throwing stuff, casting critter spells, it does the same thing. But, if you want only part of a spawn to come, you have to Lure…sneak up close, watch the terrain, and drag part of a spawn out instead of the entire thing.

The Importance of Stamina

  • 5) Health is your God, but Stamina is your King: Melees lose stamina faster then any other class. Every time you swing a weapon, every time you are missed in melee, and every time you are hit in melee, you lose stamina. Every time you use the Heal skill, you lose 1 stam/5 hp healed. Protracted combats can drop that yellow line to 0, and when that happens, you are in big trouble.
    • Your Melee Defense drops to 0. Yes, that means you get hit on every swing.
    • You can only attack at highest speed, unless you want to take about a 30% attack penalty.
    • You can't use the Heal skill. It takes stamina to use, remember?
    • You can't run faster then a walk. So, no getting away.
    • Your combat animation slows down.

Do not ever let your stamina get down to 0. You are basically asking to die at that point. Mages don't have to worry about this…they can Replenish without switching their wand, and they only use it for stamina to mana surges. Carry your stamina consumables just in case.

Did I mention Shields are Important?

Carry two shields, and have a Hollow Armor set: Your ideal shield is one of the two stronger Quest shields with the Magic Absorption property, the Shield of Perfect Light and the Shadowbane Shield. In addition to this, you need a Hollow Shield, for those creatures which ignore Item Magic, Life Magic, or are completely hollow. Ideally, you could get a fine Covenant Shield with some useful spell or two on it, and tinker up the elementals. If not, you should carry the Olthoi Shield after completing the quest to get it. A Hollow shield will be enough for most dungeons, such as Lugians with Chorozite weapons, and the average hollow olthoi. For boss Hollow Olthoi, or Aerbax, you also need a Hollow Suit of Armor. And while some of us might have the patience to assemble a matching suit of Celdon with ten tinkered elementals and built in spells, the rest of us just make do with a set of Greater Olthoi Armor from the Matron Hive dungeons. Excellent AL and elementals. No spells, but for a Hollow Suit of armor, you generally pack it away in a chest or on a mule until you need it. Spells are not an issue. If you want spells, then labor to put together a Covenant Set.

Weapons needed

Tools for every occasion, you pick the occasion. The Melee carries more variations on his weapons then pretty much any other class bothers to. This is because a mage can simply cast a Vuln and shoot the appropriate spell without changing his wand, and archers can shift arrows on their Armor Renders without bothering to change the bow. Melees, you don't have a choice. You carry a toolbox of weapons, and what follows is an idea of the weapons you need. Also, don't obsess over the highest damage. You're actually better off with the highest melee defense and attack modifiers. Not getting hit and hitting the enemy tends to be far more useful then 1-3 points of damage. Do NOT ignore attack/defense modifiers on the weapons you choose!

  1. First, you're going to need Resistance Renders for all types of your weapon. Swords get shafted here, because even though you can Slash or Pierce with one weapon, you can only Render it to one damage attempt. You need these because you aren't going to Vuln everything, all the time, and Renders top out at the effect of a level 6 Vuln, and the damage stacks with Imperils.
  2. Secondly, you need Armor Renders for all your Damage styles. Swords (and daggers and katars) do get a break here. You do this because Armor Render stacks with Vulns and Imperils (although NOT with Negative AL—See below!).
  3. Third, for those creatures that are Vulnerable to Imperil, you need Crit Strike (or Crippling Blow) weapons of all your element types. Negative AL creatures take half damage from Armor Renders if double tapped, but CS weapons OWN them.

Quest weapons you'll want, in no particular order:

Quest Items Needed

    • Axe: The Silifi of Crimson Stars: The last weapon of this quest is Lightning Cleaving with Crushing Blow, +17 attack, and great damage, the best lightning weapon in the game.
    • Sword: The Sword of Lost Hope : Hit with a Radiant Infusion, this is a Biting Strike Acid Rending 18/18 level 8's ass-kicking Acid Sword, and probably your Acid Render default.
    • Sword: Skeletonbane/Shadowbane : These are the other two Radiant Infusion weapons, and the best of their kind, with this also being the only Quest Skeleton Slayer out there. NOte: there is now a Skeleton SLayer infusion. Stick it on your appropriate Blunt or SLashing weapon.
    • All – Shadowfire: Fire dmg, Biting Strike, Crushing Blow, draw and go. Oh, yeah, and Shadow Slayer. These weapon TEAR UP shadows that are double tapped.
    • All – Soulbound: These weapons have great mods, draw and go, Crushing Blow and Armor Cleaving. And Ghost Slayer. Probably your default Armor Render even if it's not the best weapon damage to use on Ghosts.
    • All – Shimmering Isparian: Because maybe the Elemental Slayer effect will actually be useful some day.
    • All – Bloody Isparian weapons: Because maybe the Human Slayer effect will be useful some day. PK weapon and unenchantable elsewise.
    • All – Phantom Weapons: Made famous by use against the Black Breath, ignores all Armor, but not Life Prots/Vulns. Also useful in PK.
    • All – Regal weapons: Because maybe someday they'll be frost dmg, and the Burun Slayer effect will actually be worth something.
    • All – Royal Runed Weapons: Because if you can't cast Imperil7, these weapons will do it for you, and they are draw and go when needed.
    • All- Red Runed/Silvaran weapons: The best default weapons in the game, bar none. They have a Resistance Cleaver, Biting Strike and Crushing Blow, excellent mods, superb damage, and are draw and go. Definitely a must-have for all weapon wielders, and likely your default ‘basic' weapon.
    • Mace, Sword, Spear, UA – Paradox-touched Olthoi weapons: These Pierce Cleaving Crushing Blow Excellent Mods Draw and Go weapons have Olthoi Slayer built in, and will out damage similar blunt weapons..and that's before the random Shockwave 4 goes off! Superb quest weapons, and your default Pierce weapon.
    • All – Hollow weapons – These weapons ignore all magic. Mostly for PK use, but can see some use against buffed monsters.
    • Sword – The Sword of Bellenesse: Because it's a Knight Slayer, and popping Belles with it is traditional, that's why.
    • All – Mukkir Slayer and Undead Slayer Empowers: These Quest rewards can be slapped on tinkered loot weapons, and double such damage against Mukkir and Undead, respectively. You probably want to put the Mukkir on a Pierce Render AND AR weapon, and the Undead Slayer on a Fire Render, Cold Render, Cold AR, Fire AR, and Slash Render. Most Undead are Vuln to Fire, but Xik Minru of that quest is best killed with Slashing, and the undead boss of the First Blackmire Dungeon and the boss undead at the bottom of the false subway quest are both vulnerable to Cold, as are the final revenants in the Colosseum. Specialized weapons, indeed!

All in all, there aren't many weapons outside Sword that you need to collect from Quests.

Other Quest Gear, non-Weapon

Other Permanent Gear you need: What, thought you'd only have to carry around armor, weapons and a shield? Think again!

    • The Royal Runed Wand: Not only can it be your default Buff wand, it has FUTILITY built into it. This is one of the best support spells in the game. You can soften up a baddie for your mage friends, or so you can imperil/vuln it yourself more easily. With a 450 casting skill, basically only a specialized wizard is going to be better at Yielding something.
    • The Focusing Stone: Because sometimes +25 Focus is good, and at others Brilliancing a friend for +50 Focus is even better. And it stacks with everything.
    • The Healing Heart or a Healing Orb (Mana healer optional): With Heal 6 or 7 coming out of an Orb, you don't need life magic to be a fellow healer, just mana stones. Up the Manaconversion on it so you can heal longer, and you're good to go.
    • The Scepter of Portal Currents: Unless you've got some other Major Item Magic toy you can swap in easily, this is a great tool for helping cast level 8's on your gear.
    • Chapterhouse Recall Orb: This Orb lets you get to Ayan at will, plus a couple other places; and go PK quickly when needed.
    • A Buffing Wand: This is something with a high mana conversion so you don't use as much mana. If You don't have Life Magic, regaining mana can be a total pain.
    • A Defense wand: Unlike mages, you don't need to render a wand or worry about combat mana management. For casting in combat, you want only a wand with the maximum defense modifier you can tinker up, so stuff whiffs at you while you vuln/imperil it, then swap out to your gear to beat it down.
    • Wards and Cantrips: This is especially true with the new tier of Epics out there. You can cast level 7's and 8's, or get them from a buffbot, but the Epic stuff you actually have to wear. Assembling a suite of jewelry and armor that gives you all these is quite a chore!
    • Default Buffs: Regardless of your casting ability, there are certain buffs you should always have as a melee from gear, namely Str, Coord, your weapon skill, and the Life Prots. If these get dispelled, you are immediately gimped hard. Make sure you have them on your gear by one means or another.
    • Ulgrim's Casting Stein: This ‘wand' casts Stamina to Mana/4. If you get sick of using Stamina to Mana/1 from Life Magic Self to get your mana back, swapping this in can help with mana problems.
    • The Soul-Bound Staff: It eats a lot of mana, but the think casts Pierce/7 with Pierce Render at 475 skill. If weapons just won't do it, this is your go-to wand.
    • Trinkets and Gearcrafting: You want a trinket with useful magic of its own, and you want it imbued. As a Melee, I would recommend Diamond major (+3 damage), Gromnie Hide Moderate (-2 Damage Reduction), and Health Minor (+5 Health). If you have an excellent Trinket you don't want to lose, simply downgrade the levels by 1 and lose the Health minor.


Consumables you need: And I'm not just talking healing potions, baby.

    • Philtres: these loot items are the best weight/effect of their kind in game. Yeah, Cooking/Alchem can be mass-produced. But Health Philtres are lighter, and Mana Philtres are so common you can use ‘em while buffing to get mana back fast, and simply not care. Stamina Philtres are likewise common and easy to carry.
    • Beers/Ales: These six potions give +50 buffs for a short time. If you can stockpile ‘em easy and don't mind having to continually replenish them, they make great reserve buffs.
    • Dispel Gems: You can buy them with cash now. Unlike a mage, you aren't going to cast a spell and eliminate debuffs. Dispel Gems do it for you.
    • The Pages of Salt and Ash: introduced to help PK Melees hit Archers using Defense-buffed bows, these give a stacking +10 Attack bonus for 30 minutes to the weapon in hand. Awesome when you just need to hit stuff.
    • Grael Gems: Stacking +3 Dmg bonus to the weapon in hand. Once you run the quest, you only need to run the last part to get 5 more gems. They are even givable, and you don't need to fight anywhere during the quest.
    • Peerless Healing Kits: It may take a while for Bobo to cough them up, but these are the best healing kits in the game. They have more uses and go off when you are more injured then the Tumerok kits do, and the amount of healing tends to be about the same.
    • Mansion Buffs: There are several items that give stacking buffs that are also housing items. The Spear of Grael should be used every day on whatever Melee weapon needs it the most, that stacking 4/4 bonus is sweet. You can get a +10 Frost Ward, +5 or so to various stats, and +3 to your casting skills, as well as regenerating buffs from housing items, as well as the +50 Stam bonus from Ulgrim's Contest Mug.
    • Alchemy Vials: Low priority, but if you've the skill to use them, they can now be made in Level 7 Vuln form, for a decent way for a no-Life Melee to vuln an enemy.
    • Peerless Lockpicks: Yeah, there's a better category, but you don't need it. Either a lock is pickable with these, or its unpickable.
    • Portal Gems: You want Portal Gems that lead to:
      • The Master Mages (all 3)
      • Your Faction HQ (saves a run)
      • Vissidal (saves having to tie)
      • Holtberg (useful portals, and a cheap gem seller to all the other towns) + Marae Lassel portal close by.
      • Yanshi (key quests there you, um, die on)
      • Sanamar: You can only buy them in Sanamar, too.
      • Wedding Invitations: The two invites can send you to Ithanaec, or are a shortcut to the capital towns.
      • Bailout Gems: A bit harder to find, the Banana Recall Gem and the Shendolain Recall Gems don't whip up portals, they instantly transport you.
      • Aphus Lassel recall gems: If you don't have Tusker Recall, of course.

The Wonder and Glory of Imperil

Imperil is your Shield Maiden/ Vulnerability to Imperils: Imperil, unlike Vulns, is a fixed decrease to the Armor Level of an opponent. Tattercoat and the various elemental Baits are the Item counterparts. Vulns work on a % basis, but these two are fixed…and that means they can go negative!

    • A Creature that is Vulnerable to Imperils is immediately apparent when you vuln it, because the damage it takes rises by a factor of x3 to x7. What this means is, its armor has gone from a positive number (probably 150 or so) to a negative number (-75), and its armor is actually multiplying the damage it takes!
    • These creatures are not to be killed with Armor Renders…halving the AL of something with a negative armor actually cuts your potential damage in half. These creatures are hideously vulnerable to being double-tapped and lit into with Critical Strike weapons. The first creatures this was apparent it worked on were the Lugian Raiders in the Valley of Death. Many creatures and bosses put into the game now use this mechanic, encouraging mages to Imperil (a useless spell to a war mage) and use teamwork to cut things down.

Tattercoat and the various Baits work the same way, but can generally only be used on enemy shields. By rendering a shields SL Negative, or one of its elementals negative (NEVER both! Two negatives = a positive, remember?), you can actually INCREASE the damage you do to something striking through its shield. You can see this in effect by casting on a store bought shield and watching the numbers shift.

    • Basically, a High AL monster's shield should be Baited, a Low AL monster's shield should be Tattercoated.
    • I have personally one shot a Valley of Death Tumerok that was fire vulned, imperiled and had a Fire Baited shield through its shield. I've been one-hit by a Ruschk that did the same thing to my shield when I forgot to Bane it.

Look, Ma, No Pants!

Wear a decent set of pants. Viamontian trousers are the only types of pants that cover girth and both upper and lower legs. All others swap between lower legs and girth coverage. Likewise, shirts that cover the girth leave the forearms free. Thus, if at all possible, if you are going to wear two part underclothes for the buffs, try to make the pants Viamontian. That way, when you buff them, you don't leave a hole in the coverage of your armor.

Play Smart

Melee are the brains of the fellowship. Just like linebackers are the smartest guys on the football team. The mage is busy pushing spell buttons and doing a delicate dance of healing, shooting, mana swapping, and replenishment, switching between attack forms and finding them on his spellbar. Archers sit in one spot and just take out enemy after enemy, retreating only if surrounding, and looking for a perch more then an ideal combat zone.

    • Melees encourage teamwork. We can sit while archers and mages perch, or kill stuff at range, or we can tear into stuff close up.
    • Melees make Melee walls work. In perfect safety, archers and mages can rip stuff apart.
    • Melees want Imperils and Vulns so they can deploy Armor Renders.
    • Melees have to keep track of attack height for certain monsters, because you get bigger crits off of them. Tuskers are the poster boys for this, with Guards having a soft spot low and Slaves in the middle. But most creatures have a specific ‘weak' spot you can eke out a few more points of damage on.
    • Melee also have to be aware that the same monster can have different vulnerabilities to magic then to weapons! Case in point: Low level banderlings, everyone uses Lightning on. But Valley of Death Banders, mages still use Lightning, but weapon users are better off with Pierce or Fire. Direlands banderlings are often hugely vulnerable to frost weapons, and others to Piercing. Again, mages just use lightning. Melee have to break out the right weapon for the job, so they have to know what actually is the best weapon to use. You've got all those specialty weapons for a reason, right?
    • Melees shift positions to get stuff into play. They are often the only people who dart around to pull fickle creatures off of archers and mages. They attack at fastest speed to keep the attention of creatures and ‘lock' them in place. They run to the other side of monsters to take advantage of the rear arc and ‘wolfpack' them, especially shield users. They Lure creatures instead of Pulling creatures. They happily attack through doors. Archers and Mages like to pick a spot and just sit there, it's up to the Melees who get pulled everywhere to adjust to them.
    • Melees like to stand on top of one another. This minimizes the number of creatures that can strike at them. Barring that, they double-team monsters to kill off the sources of damage. Soloing monsters isn't smart…killing them off as quickly, one by one, as possible, is much smarter. It removes things that can kill you from play.

Consult Thy Power Bar, Don't Eat It

Use Your Power Bar Wisely. Supposedly, attacking at double speed at minimum bar, average speed at midbar, and low speed at high bar gets you to the same damage over time (DOT). That doesn't mean there isn't a time to swap back and forth between striking speeds. You use Low Bar/High Speed when:

    • You want to trigger spell effects. Bloodscorch's ring of fire, Olthoi Slayer's Shockwave, and Royal Runed weapons' Imperil effect all trigger randomly per hit. Thus, the faster you swing and hit, the faster the spell goes off.
    • You want to stick on something that might run away. It'll drag you along with it, and likely stop, turn around, and resume attacking…or maybe pull you into its friends, heh.
    • You want to pull something off another player. The combat mechanic for fickle monsters checks between attacks, and such things switch targets to whoever damaged them ‘last'. The more you attack, the most likely that is to be you, taking pressure off your squishy friends, and giving the mages time to Imperil/Vuln.
    • When you have no stamina, low bar is the best you can do if you want to hit.
    • You are fighting stuff with low hit points and/or you crit for great damage. Generate more crits, baby!
    • You are fighting multiple monsters and want to maximize use of the +10% bonus for getting smacked.
    • You want to run the enemy out of stamina. It loses 1 stam every time you hit it or it dodges, after all. An enemy with no stam is an enemy that gets auto hit!
    • Full Power is best when:
    • You are facing monsters that seldom hit you.
    • When you want to potentially one-shot something. If a full power crit can wipe a creature right out of the game, go for it. Luck favors massive damage.
    • A weapon that crits frequently (such as a CS weapon), versus one that has big crits, is used best at full power where the crits can be large numbers that take the enemy out quickly, without ‘wasting' massive damage. Of course, if the enemy has tons and tons of hit points, monster swings and monster crits are the way to go.
    • Facing a monster that regens fast, drains a lot, or heals itself. You are hoping for a big crit, or back to back crits, that overwhelm its ability to heal. Certain Virindi are best fought this way.

The 'best' setting for Stamina usage to damage is about ¼ bar, and can be found with a little experimentation. For Sword, it's right about where damage changes from Pierce to Slashing. At this point, you are still using the lowest possible amount of stamina per swing, but your damage has increased markedly over Low Bar. For long combats, it is the best place to park your bar and beat on stuff for stamina efficiency.

Be At Peace

Use Peace Mode. Peace Mode is your bosom buddy. You should learn to automatically go into peace mode anytime you are not fighting. In Peace Mode, You:

    • Regenerate faster…even if you are running. Combat regen rates suck. Just standing around, you may regen enough that you don't need to heal or suck a potion. If you have to, you can move to kneeling or laying down to really up your regen rates.
    • Loot faster: the animation up and down is much faster, and can be truncated if you mash buttons fast enough for chain looting.
    • Can emote: For the socially inclined.
    • Target Lock: When you go back into combat mode, you auto lock onto the nearest enemy without having to find/click on it.
    • Swap weapons: For all except UA, you actually go ‘through' Peace Mode while swapping weapons. You are much better off going into Peace Mode if you have to swap weapons, or equip a bow or wand, and then go back into combat mode. It's faster, and the difference in damage you take is largely negligible.
    • Drink Potions: Like swapping weapons, you actually go into the same animation, but more slowly, from combat mode. And you can drink 4-6 potions staying in Peace mode in the time it takes you to drink 2 from combat mode.
    • Heal: Combat Healing has a massive penalty attached to it, one that is not there in Peace Mode. Not only is it faster, you can chain heal if you need it/get hit again/have to heal a lot, and you heal much more dmg per attempt in Peace Mode versus combat mode!
    • Run faster: You have a Melee Defense penalty, but you do run faster in Peace Mode. It's also much easier to judge jumps and the like.

Ugh, Math?!?

Know the Math of Imbues and Debuffs. Know how these things work, and what interacts with what, why, and what's best to use and when.

    • Imperil is a fixed effect. It directly reduces a target's Natural Armor. An Imperil 7 reduces Armor 225 points, which is about 4 levels (1/8 to ¼, 1/6 to 1/2, etc). However, Imperil can make a creature go NEGATIVE on Armor…which is just awesome. Tattercoat and the Bait spells can do the same using Item Magic against Shield users.
    • Vuln spells exceed the effect of render spells. A Vuln 7 is effectively +200% damage, while a Render/Cleaving tops out at +150%. If a mage is Vulning, you should not be using a Render weapon. A Vuln is always stronger then an Imperil unless the creature goes to negative AL, and has the advantage of making the mage's war magic more effective, too!
    • Crippling Blow: This augment comes from Fire Opal. It maxes out with changing the size of a weapon's critical hit to x6, up from x2. It doesn't care about the weapon's spread, only maximum damage. It's the most uncommon of the imbues.
    • Critical Strike: This imbue comes from Black Opal. It changes the frequency of criticals from 1/10 swings to 5/10 swings, a very significant improvement! Like CB, it works best with high damage, not tight spread.
    • Armor Render: The most common of imbues comes from Sunstone. It reduces a target's Armor Level by 50% at the top level, which means about a 90-95% increase in damage. It stacks wonderfully with Vulns and Imperils, and is best for use on tough mobs if double-tapping, or if the mage is vulning. AR works best on average dmg over time, and so spread and top damage are both important. AR does not work well on creatures that are Vulnerable to Imperil.
    • Resistance Render: Resistance Renders top out at a level 6 Vuln effect, by element, for +150% dmg. This is better then any other imbue, and works nicely alongside Imperil. They are designed to be used so you don't have to Vuln a foe to do good damage against it.
    • Armor Cleaving/Resistance Cleaving: These are found on Quest weapons, and are basically the equivalent of Imbues, to within 5%.
    • Biting Strike: These Quest effect doubles the chance of a crit from 1/10 to 2/10.
    • Crushing Blow: This Quest effect raises Crit Damage from x2 max to x3 max.
    • Slayer Effects: Slayer effects of all kinds do double damage against the creature they are named for when used on a weapon. They are called 'empowers'. THey benefit Mages most, but they don't suck for Melees.
    • Iron: Iron tinkering increases the maximum damage of a weapon by one point. Best used on weapons with crit reliance.
    • Granite: Granite tinkering tightens the spread of a weapon by 25%, increasing average damage over time. Generally used 50/50 with iron on specific weapons.
    • Rabbit's Foot: This Quest item is a ‘free' Granite usage, but takes the place of a Slayer effect.
    • Mhoir Forge Weapon Gem: Another ‘end' tinker (empower), increases max weapon dmg by one.
    • Page of Salt and Ash: This item grants a temporary +10% bonus to hit, and is a superb resource for doing damage to stuff that is hard to hit. +10% on a 500 base skill is 50 pts, which can move hits from 10% to 50%, or 30% to 70%. That's a major increase in damage dealt, people!
    • Natural Resistances: Natural Resistances affect all damage, but may not dovetail with armor (which is why some creatures take dif dmg from spells vs. weapons.) Your own Natural Resistances work against all damage you take, even hollow damage, although not ‘typeless' damage. Your Natural Resistances do not, however, stack with Wards, like Life Prots do, and will never reach the effectiveness of level 7 Life spells.

Examples for the Reluctant

Doubtless you will want to know WHY certain Imbues are better then others. The following is some simple math to illustrate how such things work.

Our sample weapon is going to be a 40-80 weapon. This is a 50% variance (the minimum is –50% of the maximum) weapon. We are going to ignore strength and BD and suchlike, figuring they've already been added on. Critical Hits are 10% of all swings on average, and do 2x Maximum normal damage for Melees.

  • In normal combat, this weapon will do average damage of 9 hits of 60 (average dmg) and one critical (2x maximum damage) of 160, thusly:

60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 160 For a total damage over ten swings of 700 damage, base.

  • With Crippling Blow (Crit=x6 max dmg), these numbers change, to:

60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 480 For a total damage of 1020…an increase of +320, or +45%. This is actually lessened by the fact that CB ‘wastes' more damage then any other imbue with ‘overkill' damage.

  • With Critical Strike (Crits = 50% chance of going off), these numbers change to:

60 60 60 60 60 160 160 160 160 160 for a total damage of 1100, or +400, or +56%. CS also wastes less dmg then CB, and ‘maxes' out 4 additional swings, hence the greater DOT.

  • With Armor Render, we effectively double everything, thus:

120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 120 320 for total damage of 1400, +700, and a 100% increase. Definitely the best of the ‘normal' imbues, until the Renders came along.

  • The Renders/Cleaving max out at Vuln 6, which is +150% damage, even. The above numbers would look something like:

150 150 150 150 150 150 150 150 150 400, or 1750 dmg over time.

  • Biting Strike adds another crit (20%): 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 160 160, for 800 dmg, +14%.
  • Crushing Blow increases the crit (to x3 Max Dmg): 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 240 for 780 dmg, +11%.
  • Combined (as on a Shadowfire Weapon), they can look like:

60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 240 240 for 960 dmg, or +37%…greater then the sum of its parts.

  • Combined with a Render (as on the mighty Red Runed Weapons), this becomes incredible:

150 150 150 150 150 150 150 150 600 600 for total damage of 2400, +1700, and a +242% increase. Yay, Silvarans!

  • A Vuln 7 is +200%, or triple damage.

Combined with Armor Rending (x2), this results in SIX times normal damage to a foe.

  • A Vuln7, Armor Rending, Slayer Effect is TWELVE times normal damage. This is why you carry an AR Mukkir Slayer, even if the Soulbound AR is a better weapon.

Salvage and Augments

  • Iron increases the maximum damage by 1, and the minimum by the variance x 1. Thus, one bag of Iron would change our weapon to 40.5 – 81 damage, because the variance is 50%.

DOT becomes: 60.75 x 9, 162 x1. Total DOT change = +8.75 points per bag. However, on a Critical Strike weapon, this looks MUCH better, because you are constantly increasing the power of the crit. For a CS weapon, this raises the DOT by 13.75 per bag. For CB, +18.75!

  • Granite reduces spread, resulting in a tighter, higher array of numbers…it increases the amount of the minimum damage you do.

While it is explained better elsewhere, a simple example is that a bag of Granite on our base weapon would raise the bottom variance 25%. Since the variance is 40 pts, this would shrink to 30 pts, resulting in a 50-80 dmg weapon. Average damage would go up to 65, resulting in an average damage of 65x9, +160, or increasing from 700 to 745, +45 for the first bag. Every succeeding bag tightens the variance further, which means smaller and smaller increases. Once you start getting to a 25% variance, such as 60-80, the amount of increase starts getting quite small. Generally, granite is used about 50/50 on Render and AR weapons with Iron.

  • The various Blood Drinker spells and their equivalents add to maximum damage directly, they do not affect variance. A 40-80 weapon with BD6 (+20 dmg) on it, becomes 50-100. Likewise, Grael Gems add +3 to maximum damage, as do Trinker augments, and Augment Gems.
  • Strength adds to maximum damage, like a Blood Drinker effect (Coord for Daggers). For every 10 pts of Strength over 100, you get +1 damage. This number is halved if you are UA. However, UA also adds +1 dmg for every 20 pts of SKILL over 100. This very large damage bonus, combined with more frequent attack speed, is why UA does as much damage over time as an Axer, at least.

Testing, Testing

Testing damage types against monsters. This is remarkably easy to do. All that is required is the appropriate render weapon of type, knowing what the maximum damage is, and at least three crits that match up. Always do this on fastest speed if possible, so you can compare cleanly to Pierce. If not, go lowest bar on Pierce, and midbar on everything else. The Pierce base should be 50% of the others to start with.

    • Divide the damage from the crit by the maximum damage of the weapon doing the damage, and list them out. The number that remains is the damage multiplier by elemental type while vulned.

Example: If you are absolutely sure that Lightning is the best thing to use on Vissidal Island reedsharks, test it out. You'll probably be surprised to find that Slashing is marginally better, and Piercing is best of all, at least for weapons. The reason you see Lightning so much is that it is the second or third best damage type on all the monsters, and archers hate to switch bows!

Miscellaneous Gameplay, tips and tricks

  • --Put Your Healing Kit and backpack next to one another on the hot keys: Your backpack Icon means "target me". When you hit a healing kit, the cursor becomes a swirlie asking who to target. Rather then try to target yourself in the middle of combat, hit the backpack icon next to yourself, and the problem is taken care of.
  • Yes, you can heal someone else. The animation is slow, and it's more difficult then healing yourself, but it IS possible. I recommend using a Healing spell Orb instead.
  • --Potions and Dispel Gems on hot keys: Just like Healing kits, these should sit on your spellbar. In many cases, getting rid of a Vuln on you can save your life faster then a heal. Potions should be on your speedbar for ease of use and drinking. Note that I only put health philtres on my bar. Stam philtres are only put there if I'm in a situation where I'm sucking them down endless (generally against olthoi hordes) and mana potions I generally only use when buffing or when something has sucked away all my mage's mana.
  • --To break out of a 'stuck' attack mode suddenly, tap jump: It releases the target lock. This stops you from charging after a creature or breaks a lag-lock so you can go to Peace Mode. It's very simple and solves a lot of 'stuck in X mode' problems you get into. Just tap the space bar and you're good.
  • --Going from Peace Mode to Attack mode auto acquires an enemy without having to target it: This simple tactic helps end combat frustration when you can't lock on an enemy. Go to Peace mode, go back to Combat, and presto! The nearest enemy, or the one that last damaged you, are instantly acquired.
  • Yes, sometimes you'll acquire instead a person that healed you with a spell. Do it again and it will 'reset'.
  • --You can attack through doors: Mages can only do that with Drain and Harm, both very suboptimal damage. Archers get to sit and twiddle their thumbs. If you can kill something through a door, do it. It's the sole in-combat tactical advantage you really have. You can back away and heal if need be, the mages have all sorts of time to Imperil and Vuln, and the stuff dies. Convenient and useful, all in one package!
  • Use the mansion buffs: Gawd, how can you not? You get a +5 stacking bonus to all stats: up to a +50 stacking for Strength; +4/+4 TH/Defense on one weapon; +3 to all casting skills; Moderate Self buff; Moderate Frost Ward buff; Major Regen/Rejuv/Renew; and stacking +50 to stamina, if everything is there. They may not last that long, but they should be easy to get to and clustered at your House/Villa/Mansion for quick usage.