Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Damage mitigation overview, part 2

In part1 I talked about a couple of passive defense mechanisms for melee damage and how they interact. I also tried to make a case for evasion complementing the traditional Defense, PDT and Utsusemi. This time I want to talk about the effect of debuffs on damage mitigation and one less common form of defense. However, before that I'd like to add one more passive form of defense to the list.

Shield Blocks
There are different sources I used for the numbers I'm about to use. Check this post and this one for a summary. It's estimated that the popular size 3 shields (like Koenig and Terror) proc between 40% to 50% on "high level targets". Those quotes should tell you that it's a vague generalization, but it seems like a fair assumtion. I'll limit myself to Koenig Shield for the moment, for the sake of simplicity. It reduces an estimated 61% of your damage when it blocks. For all attacks that are subject to shield blocks, you'd see an approximate 24% to 30% damage reduction overall. This reduction is different from Physical Damage Taken and are applied seperately. What's interesting though is that shield damage reduction is considerably more than a lone Earth Staff would get you and yet people used that before the addition of Shield Mastery and Reprisal while that update didn't improve the rate of shield blocks in general. Why even mention Earth Staff? More is better and why would you give up your sword? Well, one reason would be the reliability of PDT over shield blocks. For melee hits this doesn't matter much since you'll be taking so many of them that the reliability evens out. However, if you can get one shotted by a physical TP ability, the reliability all of a sudden becomes paramount. Add to that the fact that Earth Staff's PDT weighs heavier if you're already wearing some other PDT gear and you've got yourself a serious option for higher end fights.

Killer Effects
The ablity to intimidate a mob is not readily available to all jobs and for all mob families. In cases where you fight Aquans, a Bibiki Seashell adds Aquan Killer while taking a slot that doesn't sacrifice any fundamental stats. An item with a meager 1% proc rate Killer effect is still 1% less melee damage taken over time. Again, when stacked, this trait would become increasingly useful. Unfortunately the gear options are limited and the proc rates mostly unknown.

This is very similar in nature to intimidation procs. Some mobs seem more susceptible to Paralyze than others, but even with a low proc rate of 5%, it's still 5% fewer attacks. Intimidation and paralysis increase the longevity of Utsusemi shadows when they proc before the first or second shadows are taken. Generally after the second is down (or third for Utsu: Ni on Ninja main) you want to start casting your next set if at all possible to minimize the chance of interruption or taking damage. In cases of high damaging and frequent triple and double attacks you might want to recast even sooner. In short, you can't depend on them, but they do help and if Paralyze can be landed at a cost of 6 MP (or 36 MP Paralyze II) there's no reason it shouldn't be on a mob. More reliable enfeebles are...

Slow and Elegy
These are very powerful debuffs. With Carnage Elegy adding a whopping 50% delay to a mob's attack speed and Slow generally sitting at around +20%. Aside from the direct impact it has on the number of attacks a mob will use during the course of a fight, it also allows a tank to easily cast Utsusemi: Ichi in between attack rounds of almost any mob. Assuming 70% extra delay on a mob's attack speed, Slow and Elegy add up to 41% less melee damage taken over time. I calculate it using:

1 - 1/(1+SLOW_%)

Adding it all together
I've listed a lot of ways to reduce damage in this and part 1 of this overview. To give you an idea of how much of an impact this has when you put it all together, here is a little spreadsheet I made for a RDM tank in a standard PDT set with floored evasion and parrying rate, standard slow and elegy and paralyze, 400 defense and mob attack of 450.

The "Factor" column is how much that particular form of damage reduction is worth. The "Cumulative" column is what a mob's damage output is reduced to after applying all the reductions in sequence. In this particular instance the mob's damage output is reduced to 32% of what it was originally. It's quite a dramatic change and doesn't even factor in Phalanx and Utsusemi. Add to those a second tank and it's hard to imagine why any mob would ever give you trouble. This is where I then have to remind myself about the duration of some fights, mob abilities that do massive damage or inflict strong enfeebling effects, mob immunities to debuffs, enmity issues and the player skill and coordination needed to keep all buffs on tanks and debuffs on mobs while still taking it down before it depops or rages.

Coming from a background of playing THF and using an evasion set to tank things on what is normally not considered a tank job, I can't resist to point out that if you managed to cap evasion through use of Blind, Mambo's and gear you'd actually reduce a mob's damage output to 12% under similar conditions. The obvious flaws of tanking on THF are the inability to generate hate independantly like other tank jobs and the unreliable nature of evasion to survive many mob TP abilities.

I've gained some insight into the different ways one can reduce damage and how different tanking jobs compare. Not surprisingly there are more ways to tank than what is considered the norm. Some forms of defense haven't even been mentioned yet. Things like Stoneskin and Seigan are a bit harder to quantify than what I've included here. All these things can be mixed and matched to shape all sorts of tanks as long as we're willing to try.

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