Party from a powergamer point of view
In almost any party comprising of powergamers, the goal is to be able to complete the quest or raid in the shortest possible time, using minimal resources. There are many ways with which this may be achieve but it is important to note that powergamers can do it easily due to their knowledge of the game as well as knowing the strengths and limitations of the character they are using.
To put it simply, a successful quest can come down to a handful of factors:
- Inflicting Damage - Almost all of the quests involves the slaughtering of foes. To kill stuff, one must be able to inflict damage. The more damage one can deal means the faster one can take down a mob.
- Avoiding Damage - Being able to kill stuff is not the sole factor of success. The enemies will not be just standing there like a sitting duck for you to attack. They have a host of abilities that they will use to try to damage and thus kill you. By avoiding the incoming damage, one can prolong the amount of time in combat and thus remain effective.
- Curing Damage - There is no absolute defense which can protect against all incoming damage. This is especially true in raids where many bosses are simply unstoppable. It is therefore important that there is some way for one to keep up the combat effectiveness through the removal of status effects or restoration of hit points.
In a powergaming group, a larger importance is placed on inflicting and avoiding damage but this does not mean they are unable to cure damage. In fact most of them must have be rather good at curing before they start avoiding damage. In a group comprising of newer players, the emphasis is usually on inflicting and curing damage. This is due to them not having a solid understanding of the game but with time, most improve.
Damage can be broadly classified into two main categories, sustained or burst damage. Sustained damage is damage which comes from a constant source at a steady rate while burst damage is usually evidenced by a tremedous amount of damage at an instant. That said, even in the individual categories, one may find instances of the other category.
Sustained damage can come from a few sources:
- Physical Damage - This sub-category describe the damage inflicted by physical means such as melee or ranged damage. Physical damage is almost always considered "unlimited" so long as the character has positive health. This is a very important factor as most raids are likely six or more physical damage dealers supported by two or three healers. In fact, most of the damage done in most raids are through physical damage.
- Melee Damage - This refers to damage done by hand-to-hand combat. In the most traditional concepts, fighters, barbarians, and paladins are considered the "heavy" melee combatants while rogues, rangers and monks are considered "light." Unfortunately, many people still maintain the "tank" concept, that started with other MMOs, in DDO. In recent times, due to the near limitless character building possibilities, there has been an increase in rogue and ranger builds that can out-perform some of the traditional "heavy" melees. Rogues get access to sneak attack which gives extra dice of damage when a foe, vulnerable to critical hits, is not "aggroed" on the rogue. Rangers rely on their fury towards favored enemies to deal massive damage.
- Ranged Damage - This refers to damage done by ranged weapons. In DDO, ranged damage usually refers to damage dealt with either bows, with the aid of the bow strength feat, or with repeating crossbows, using their higher standard rate of fire. While going ranged offers some benefits, the damage dealt by a ranged character is often far less than that of melee.
- Spell Damage - Many players have the misconception that spell damage is considered burst damage. In some cases, this is true, but certain spells may also be used as sustained damage. Most of the sustained damage can be attributed to two spells, namely firewall and blade barrier. These two spells are not just damage over time (DOT) but also area of effect (AOE). In combining these two aspects, an arcane or divine caster can easily pull a group of enemies into either of the spells and inflict large damage for as long as the spell last. Eladar's Electric Surge, Niac's Biting Cold (for arcanes) and Divine Punishment (for divines) are by far the most efficient damage per spell point nukes in the game, they are usually used to take down bosses or other single high HP targets.
The above information is a brief summary of sustained damage. The beauty of DDO is nothing can be fully pigeonholed into a narrow category. Burst damage can exist in sustained damage as well. A fighter using haste boost, an archer using multishot, a caster spamming multiple firewalls side by side can generate a sudden increase of damage within a short duration. Many players take advantage of these abilities to raise their combat effectiveness. The smart player will reserve these abilities for the right moment and it is a way which can be used to distinguish a powergamer from a less experienced player.
Burst damage almost always refers to a caster unloading all of the available spell points on one or a single group of foes. One can compare that to a MLRS firing all its rockets in a single salvo. The purpose of burst damage is to take the enemy down as fast as possible. Due to the faster cool down of spells on a sorcerer, they are the best in this role. Burst damage is never achieved by just using one single spell but rather a combination of spells. For example, an arcane caster may rotate among scorching ray, fireball and delayed blast fireball and stabbing at the short cut keys as quickly as possible to generate as many spells in as short a time as possible. Similarly, a divine caster may rotate using cometfall, searing light, nimbus of light combo. Burst damage is important in several situations such as a boss capable of dealing massive damage, a regenerating enemy or when facing a huge group of foes.
Burst damage can also be in a sense sustained if one has a sufficiently large pool of spell points. Just imagine a caster setting a room with firewalls and kiting the enemies into them. However, in most cases, the casters will not be contented with this and will also use remaining spell points to nuke the mobs.
Increasing Your Damage Output
There are many buffs to increase a character's damage output apart from the standard route of improving the character via gear or build design. The most common way of increasing physical damage is the use of haste. This increases the speed of the character, thus allowing it to attack faster. The rage spell increases strength by 2 and thus provides an extra +1 to damage on weapons using the strength modifier for damage calculation. When a friendly divine caster is around, prayer is a useful buff as it provides a +1 luck bonus to damage. A friendly bard can also use the inspire courage spell for a huge bonus to damage. In a weak group, the focus is on increasing the attack bonus. Poorly equipped or built groups often find it hard to hit enemies. In such a group, increasing the attack bonus allows the players to hit the enemies more often and thus indirectly increases the damage done.
Spell damage increments are usually tactical based rather than buffs. A divine caster using a blade barrier will have to kite the enemies in and out of the spell radius. Each time the enemy goes through the blades, it will take damage. Thus, the key is to allow the enemies a free path through the blades. In addition, party members can run up ahead to pull more mobs into the blades. In terms of firewall, the trick is to keep the enemies more or less within the fire. What many casters do is to run a tight circle around the fire. Due to the pathing AI of DDO, the mobs will keep rotating about a spot as it tries to face you. In doing so, it unwittingly stays in the firewall and gets roasted. In such cases, moment affecting spells are a good companion to firewall. There is nothing worse off than a monster commanded in a firewall. You can even laugh at the enemy as it lays in the fire slowly dying.
As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. What cannot hit you will not be able to damage you and thus does not require healing. Do take note that this refers to most scenarios and with the unique d20 system of DDO, there are always exceptions. Many players refer to damage as the reduction of hit points. In DDO, we can further expand it to include other effects that have a negative effect on the character.
Types of Damage
- Hit Point Damage - This is damage done to the health of a character. There are different sources of hit point damage and for each source, different ways of mitigating the damage.
- Physical Damage - A cut from a monster's claws or an arrow fired by an enemy are examples of physical damage. In DDO, there are several ways to avoid physical damage:
- Attack Distance - A mob that cannot reach you cannot hit you. This approach is usually adopted by casters and ranged toons. Buffs such as jump, haste and tumble are very useful for a character to move about just out of range of the enemy.
- Crowd Control - This is a very advanced way of mitigating damage. A party of low armor class, non-buffed barbarians can get through a quest with minimal healing by rendering the mobs dead or immobile. Spells such as web, greater command, halt undead, to name a few, can stop an enemy in its tracks, rendering it incapable of action. No action equals no attacks equals no damage taken. At the higher levels, it gets more interesting with instant kill spells such as phantasmal killer, destruction, wail of banshee. Dead enemy, 'nuff said. Other spells, such as charm monster or dominate, can even turn an enemy against their allies. Correctly used, charm spells are very effective: think about it, 50 trolls as your allies. Bards also have a fascinate ability that can put a group of enemies into a trance-like state. Do take note that a single point of damage is all it needs to wake a fascinated mob up.
- Concealment - Concealment is usually a magical means to cause a monster to miss you. The two most important concealment buffs are blur and displacement. The two spells cause an enemy to miss 20% and 50%, respectively, of their attacks on you. Equipment may also provide concealment including Dusk items (10%) and Blurry items (20%). Alternatively, for stationary fights, an area of effect spell such as Cloudkill can also provide some concealment to the melees within the radius of the spell.
- Armor Class - An attack that reaches a player and bypasses the concealment will be checked by the armor class of the player. Having a high armor class is a good defense against attack but in DDO, "good" is relative to the level and difficulty of the quest or raid. Unlike other MMOs, armor class is not total protection against damage. A natural 20 rolled by a monster is still a hit and will deal damage but if you can get your armor class to that range, it can be considered that you have avoided 18 other attacks. Sources to increase armor class includes spells like barkskin, shield of faith, haste and recitation. Paladins have auras which can increase armor class of friendly players and bards have the inspire heroics songs which gives a friendly target a +4 to armor class.
- Damage reduction - Physical damage received by a character may be reduced by damage reduction from various sources. A stoneskin spell provides DR10/adamantine for up to 160 points absorbed in a set duration. Any damage that is not from an adamantine weapon will be reduced by 10. Warchanters are able to sing the ironskin chant which provides DR5/-.
- Spell Damage - Spell damage covers a wide range of damage types.
- Elemental Spells - Elemental damage can be reduced through the use of elemental resists (up to 30 damage reduction per hit), elemental protection (up to 160 damage total) or elemental absorption (fire or cold damage reduced by a fixed percentage).
- Missile Spells - Damage from force spell staples such as magic missile or force missiles can be stopped by the nightshield or shield spells.
- Ability/Level Damage - Certain mobs or enemy spellcasters have the ability to inflict ability or level damage. A key way to avoid such damage is to block. Most ability damage cannot be protected against using buffs but a few, such as the strength damage of shadows, can be stopped by the deathward spell. The deathward spell also protects against level damage caused by the enervation spell or by the level draining ability of spectres.
- Status Damage - A status is a detrimental effect upon your character. The more common ones include poison, curse and disease. Certain status damage may be prevented by the use of spells, i.e. poison, or items, i.e. poison and disease while others may not and can only be stopped by a successful save vs the effect or to remove it after being afflicted.
- Trap Damage - Traps can be divided into 3 main categories. The main way to avoid damage from traps is to either route your path around it, jump cleanly over the trap, run past it before it activates, time the trap to move over it when it is off or to allow a rogue to disarm.
- Physical Traps - The damage from a physical trap bypasses concealment. A small number of physical traps, i.e. bolt traps, may be stopped by having a high armor class.
- Elemental Traps - The standard resist energy or protection from energy applies. Some cannot be protected against, i.e. force traps in The Pit.
- Status Traps - These are traps that cause status damage. Most are poison traps but there are some which can cause disease or curse. The standard protection against status damage applies.
- Physical Damage - A cut from a monster's claws or an arrow fired by an enemy are examples of physical damage. In DDO, there are several ways to avoid physical damage:
Saving throws are also an important aspect of damage avoidance. In many situations, such as a fireball or traps, passing a saving throw can reduce the damage by 50%. Characters with evasion get the damage with reflex saves reduced by 100%. Those with improved evasion have regular incoming damage reduced by 50% and a save reduces the damage to zero. Spells such as prayer and greater heroism can help increase the saves of a character. Similarly, a paladin's aura or a bard's song can also help.
In powergaming play, the part where it is hardest to understand is that of zerging. Zerging is the art of completing the quest or raid by rushing through all the main non-optional objectives. To an inexperienced player, it seems that the powergamers are foolish or even stupid to venture ahead or split up since they are going to be without party support. What these players do not understand is how zerging is actually done.
Zerging requires an intimate knowledge of the game. Knowing where the traps are, where the mobs spawn or where the next objective is important to zerging. This allows the powergamer to prepare sufficiently for the situations. Zerging may not always be about running blindly ahead. A powergamer who knows the placement of mobs in a quest will try to avoid enemy troop concentration or even run past them to avoid attrition fights. It is usually when the number of enemies start to get large that a powergamer will stop and neutralize the threats.
A powergamer will also be geared heavily compared to a new player. Good gear can really transform the performance of a character. With the gear that a powergamer acquired, they are virtually like demi-gods compared to a new player. This allows the powergamer feats that cannot be equalled by the main bulk of the players. Enemies can be easily shrugged away allowing the powergame to run ahead with little or no injury suffered.
Everybody loves the healer. However, no one should ever be 100% dependent on one. You may ask, a healer is there to heal you up so why should you bring any supplies. While this may be true in most of the game, there are a significant number of situations where a healer is not available, i.e. when you are ambushed and trapped in a room alone, when you are being blocked by pillars or other inanimate objects, or even in runs where players with the ability to solo it is giving you a chance to tag along. Relying too much on the healer will make them run out of spell points fast. Carry potions with you at all times. Clickies are the way to go if you are concerned with the cost of potions and other consumables.
For non-Warforged, clerics and favored souls have the potential to be the best healers. This does not mean they should be treated as healbots. They do have abilities which can make a battle easier, i.e. greater command, destruction and the feared blade barrier. Next up is the bard but due to not having the heal spell in the spell list, a healing bard will have to use some scrolls to supplement the healing in tough situations. Paladins and rangers have low level cure spells and thus are self-sufficient but are unable to excel in the group healer role.
Warforged suffer an innate -50% when receiving healing from divine spells. As such, most warforged will take the healers' friend enhancements and use healing amplification items to make them easier to heal. Some abilities such as the cleric divine healing enhancement or the paladin's lay on hands affect warforged in full. However, unlike the other races, warforged can be repaired via arcane repair spells in full. Much too often, arcane casters do not repair warforged due to playstyle preferences. This is due to these players preferring to specialized in the elemental lines for nuking. In addition, many of them, especially sorcerers, do not carry much repair spells, most important of which is the reconstruct spells. Increasing healing amplification is also recommended for "fleshy" characters that have high hit points total - like barbarians or defenders -, it helps the healer spend less spell points to cure that huge hp back to full.
As with the above section, how damage is cured depends on the source. Different types of damage will thus be cured using different spells. Hit Point Damage - This is damage done to the health of a character. There are different sources of hit point damage and for each source, different ways of mitigating the damage.
- Physical Damage - Physical damage is typically restored by divine healing spells or arcane repairs. At the lower levels, a healer can easily get by with cure light, cure moderate and cure serious (or the repair versions). Once a player gets the ability to cast L6 spells, the heal spell is good for healing 1 single target for a large amount while in situations where group healing is needed, mass cures are the way to go. To make your spell restore more hit points, get the respective lore and potency items to boost the efficiency of the spells. Metamagic feats such as empower healing spell (for divine spells only), empower spell, maximize spell will also boost the healing received for an increased spell point cost.
- Ability/Level Damage - All players are recommended to carrying lesser restore potions. This allow immediate removal of ability damage and thus maintain the efficiency of the character. Ability damage when allow to accumulate can render a character into a stunned condition and be easily cut down. Unknown to a lot of players, the heal spell can also cure all ability damage. Thus, a character with both ability and physical damage can be cured in one shot. Level damage is removed by the restoration spell or any other more powerful variants. For removing multiple level drains, it is often more efficient to use greater restoration which removes all level damage. The last important thing is both ability and level damage is slowly removed over time in a dungeon. Thus stopping and allowing the damage to heal is a good strategy for a spell point strapped party.
- Status Damage - Status damage requires specific spells to counter their effects. The most common status damage a character may receive is curse, disease, fear and poison. Using the appropriate potions or spells will remove these effects. It is important for a healer to know what spell is required to remove certain status damage. 2 common status damage which a lot of players seem to not remove is bane and crushing despair. Bless counters the bane spell and crushing despair can only be removed by bards with good hope spell or a festivult good hope cake.