Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Samurai 4-hit: What you do when you don't have a Masamune

My Samurai's been steadily getting good gear and it really needs to get Fudo so that all of that gear matters. Until then, however, I'll have to make due with my Kikugosaku. The last bit of gear I got for SAM that's worth noting is Tactical Mantle. It brings me very close to being able to 4-hit the Kiku due to its relatively high 480 delay.

The initial impression of the mantle is one of "Holy hell, I need to sacrifice 35 Attack for that Store TP". The 35 based on the assumption that you'd normally wear an Atheling Mantle in that slot. Although PDIF is more complex than Attack/Defense, like I've said before, it's a fairly good approximation. So assuming something along the lines of 560 Attack, giving up that slot is a pretty big 6.25% of your melee damage and it doesn't end there. I'd have to give up a ring slot for Hoard Ring as well as swapping out Sword Strap for Rose.

This blog entry is me trying to figure out if it's worth the sacrifices. To achieve the needed 58 Store TP in gear (minimum). I can't even get that realistically yet, so all of this is purely academic. I'm missing +2 AF3 body and head pieces before this becomes possible. The following numbers are just meant to be an argument to inform certain gear choices. They're not intended to be precise performance indicators. Enough moping, to the chalkboard!

Going from 5 to 4 hits
This will always be a difficult thing to calculate because of Meditate and other forms of Regain. Your WS rate would theoretically be 1:4 with a 5-hit. That is one WS for every 4 melee hits. This gets lowered by Meditate and Regain, which in turn give you a bigger benefit if you're taking breaks between fights. I've parsed a 4.3 WS rate with a 6-hit build and 3.7 with a 5-hit so it's not an exact science.

Once we assume a certain WS-rate it doesn't say anything about our damage over time yet. To guage the impact over time we need to calculate "WS DPS". I quoted that because the term DPS usually applies to melee hits. Damage over time may be a better term depending on who you ask. The 1 WS hit has a static delay of 2 seconds and the rest of the melee swings have a duration that is affected by Haste and other delay reduction. Only counting gear Haste I'd be at 24% using a 5-hit set and 3% from sword strap. At perfect accuracy that's

120 delay (=2 seconds) + 4 * 480 * 0.76 * 0.97 = 1535 delay (=25.6 seconds)

Using my intended TP set for the 4-hit I'd have the same Haste, but no sword strap:

120 delay (=2 seconds) + 3 * 480 * 0.76 = 1214 delay (=20.2 seconds)

That's a 26.5% increase in WS DPS under one big assumptions that we KNOW is wrong. Namely: equal WS damage. I know that concessions need to be made in a WS set as well as the melee set. Let's forget about that for now and run the same numbers as above for a capped Haste (delay reduction) scenario to see what the difference is.

1/(120+3*480*0.2) / 1/(120+4*480*0.2) = 1.235

So there you see a 23.5% increase in WS DPS. Generalize it by averaging out the two scenarios to 25%.

WS damage sacrifices
Now think about how much weaker your melee hits and WS would have to be to not see a benefit from this. Your melee DPS will be lower from the lowered Attack and the lack of sword strap (unless capped delay reduction). Your WS DPS will be lowered by not being able to swap out the slots dedicated to Store TP: head, body, ring, back and feet. That really adds up. In STR alone it's a difference of 12, 15, 11, 5 and 8 for those slots respectively. For attack it's 24, -24, 0, 35, 15 in those same slots. Totaling 51 STR and 50 attack. The biggest sacrifice in a single slot is likely to be Snow Gorget in favor of Unkai Nodowa. Gekko base damage inside Abyssea would be something along the lines of this:

(Weapon DMG + WSC + fSTR) * fTP * cRatio =
(111 + (~250*0.83) + 19) * 1.66 * 2.25 = 1260
going down to
(111 + (~202*0.83) + 19) * 1.57 * 2.25 = 1044

That's a 17% decrease in WS damage on average (as well as over time). Not factored in is the amount of average WS damage that 3% Double Attack form Atheling adds. Each time DA procs it'll add about 64% to your WS damage, because additional hits of a WS have a PDIF of 1. 64% damage 3% of the time (not taking into account the decreasing returns of Double Attack) is about 2% damage. Lower it a bit and you'll be closer to the truth. It's enough to matter, so let's up the WS damage loss to 18.5%

Melee damage sacrifices
This is pretty straight forward. Atheling, Sword Strap and Ulthalam's ring are the sacrifices which adds up to 39 attack, 4 STR and 3% delay. Last time I checked my attack inside Abyssea was somewhere around 620 attack, though I could be wrong. I can't check since the servers are down. STR is gonna be pretty insignificant. 3% more delay is about 3% less DPS. So less damage 6.4% from attack and 3% less damage over time from extra delay is 0.937 * 0.97 = ~0.91. That's about 9% total loss of melee DPS.

Adding up the two forms of DPS or averaging them (it doesn't matter in this case since we're just multiplying) would be enough to compare the two situations. If I take a damage split of 65:35 for WS:Melee I can use those numbers for "damage".

1.25 * 0.83 * 0.65 + 0.91 * 0.35 = 0.99
= about the same if not weaker
= not worth your trouble
= what a waste of time!

Do we really need a conclusion after that last sentence? I believe so. One thing worth mentioning is that for some odd reason I decided to ignore the regain from VV while doing the WS damage calculations for inside Abyssea where you'd almost certainly use VV for SAM. The Regain isn't as clean as a true 5-hit, but if you drop the Tactical mantle you'll get 97 TP from 4 hits which is definitely enough for 2 tics of VV to put you over the top. That means you already HAVE a 4 hit inside Abyssea without much effort. On the other hand anywhere else you would still want the true 4-hit for which this calculation is a decent guideline. In fact, you can be quite certain that if the 4-hit is not worth it inside Abyssea then it most definitely is not worth it outside (where the sacrifices are more pronounced).

The hidden benefit of a 4-hit build is the possiblity to self-SC each time you get a Triple Attack. With Apocalpyse and Alpha&Omega atmas this can be very frequently. Since using Kiku implies not having Fudo, the best you can do is Gekko > Rana which in turn means that you'd usually need less Store TP after Rana. Food for thought, I suppose.

Awesome Music Tip #4

Monday, March 14, 2011

Solo brewing Shinryu

People have been brewing Shinryu solo for a while, but for a lack anything better to post about I'll try to convince everyone how easy it is so everyone can get their drops (eventually).

1x Primeval Brew
1x Doom screen
1x Samurai sub-job: Sekkanoki
several HP-recovery meds
equal amounts Atma of Apocalypse, Voracious Violet*, Mounted Champion**
copious amounts of cruor
*possible replacement: Sea Daughter
**possible replacement: anything to deal more damage

One of the most important things is to go early to regain enough TP to WS twice at the start of your chosen "Blue" weakness time-frame. I try to get there a bit after midnight game-time and I enter at 7:00 for piercing weakness.

Timing your WS is obviously important here. Don't forget to Sekkanoki. When you engage and run in it'll aggro and swing at you from pretty far away. I tried waiting for it to get to me so I could run back a bit and fight+die outside of its aggro range, but you'll get drawn in and it'll make things last much longer than necessary. Besides, it isn't really needed.

Just run into range and WS after the first swing is over, and another time after the second. If you got no weakness Hint-message for a weapon you can proc on then I just die and try again. The reason why I don't try for a 3rd WS is because you need to use some of the better meds for it. I'd rather save those up for when I really need them. The Shinryu fight's cost is negligable when you have a healthy stock of stones. Also, you can try up to 4 times in one fight. You could probably survive long enough to get enough TP from Meditate and melee swings if you used a Fool's powder/drink. The tier4 AoE spells can really hurt.

If you die within aggro range (very likely), it's important to be able to survive 1 attack from Shinryu. You won't be able to move (annoyingly slow raise animation) until after the first attack. I can imagine that as a Taru on a low-HP job this could be an issue. THF doesn' t have much defense and I usually got hit for a bit over 300 damage. I use a regen Atma so I don't have to spend precious cruor on potions between attempts. If you don't go too often, you'll liekly recover those meds slowly from fighting other NM's and regular mobs in Abyssea.

Of course, when you do get a good hint or actually proc the Blue weakness, use your Brew asap. You could macro it, but I'd like to avoid any "accidents". Way too many times have I said "Crap, used Convert by mistake". Brew then screen and go through your Blue WS. After a proc it stops attacking. It may take you by surprise. Iron Giants and Shinryu have regular attacks that count as "special" attacks, much like TP abilities. That's why Amnesia stops them from attacking.

I've never had much problems healing it for excessive amounts. Unlike Rani, it doesn't heal for more than it takes damage due to damage resistance. Shinryu has none, so it'll take full damage from your WS, which makes it a pretty short fight.

Some final notes
I do this on THF which gives me both Blue and Treasure Hunter. Personally I think this is one of the best jobs to do this on, given the low drop rates. Get used to seeing no gear drops and some Apkallu Eggs. So far, of all the armor drops, I've only gotten a Twilight Helm out of 5 fights. Actually, a Helm dropped twice but the second time it went to someone tagging along for the win.

Cruor is your bottleneck. Nobody cares about merits anymore these days, I'm sure. Farming cruor in an EXP alliance sounds like it makes sense, but I recently found out that cruor drops work the opposite way of EXP chains. For exp you want to keep killing the same family of mob, but for cruor you want to alternate mob families. It may be due to Abyssites, but after about 8 fights I capped out at around 480 cruor per mob, while alternating between Sandsweepers and Fear Dearg in Altepa. Ladybugs and Mandies seem to give the most cruor in that zone. EXP alliances should kill really fast so that it evens out, but let's be honest... they usually don't.

Awesome Music Tip #3