Feeling Vulnerable

Posted on August 21, 2012

It's better than you think.

And worse than you think.

I say this because (in most builds) Vulnerability has taken a back seat to Might. They basically do the same thing right, except Might does it better? ;)

The main difference however, is that Vulnerability is like a low powered AoE Might that everyone in your group continually spams on themselves.

Vulnerability now does +1% damage per stack and maxes out at 25 stacks for 25% damage.

Might gives you +35 Power at level 80 and also stacks up to 25 for +875 Power.

At this point the community doesn't know the exact damage formula (contact me if you do!), but most people agree that it includes a ratio of Attack to Defense. Attack is made up of Power and Weapon Strength while Defense is made up of Toughness and Armor.

This means that the percent damage gained from Might depends on your base values and begins to be less effective than vulnerability as this Attack to Defense Ratio goes up. Unfortunately since we don't know the exact formula I can't tell you the point at which Vulnerability surpasses Might. It may even be out of the range of feasible values for launch characters.

In general, vulnerability gets better as your opponents Toughness goes down and your Weapon Damage/Power goes up.

Also, keep in mind that vulnerability is a debuff on a player and therefore damage from other players is also increased. At level 80 base PvP weapons and Power ranges, just having two players will make vulnerability better than might. So having 5 players able to focus one target has the potential to do +25% damage per player. That's a lot better than just you having might.

And my last point about vulnerability, and why it's worse than you think, is that it can easily be removed by every profession, unlike Might which requires certain skills that only some professions have. Everyone can remove conditions but not everyone can strip boons. So if you are going to run on vuln, make sure you can stack it all the time.

The Engineer

We have two ways to stack Might. Elixir B and HGH. Even if all of our skills are elixirs, stacking Might is tough.

On the other hand, using Utility Goggles and Steel Packed Powder, Engineers can stack vulnerability pretty quickly onto one target.

So even though Might is going to be better for 1v1 or small groups where you know Vulnerability will be removed, I don't think we'll see any Might builds for Engineers. We will however see Grenadier Vulnerability builds.

Green Ticks: Healing Skill Analysis

Posted on July 26, 2012

Here's one of the questions posed in the public BWE Investigation document I made last week:

What is the best healing ability?

I don't think I can really answer that as all three do slightly different things. But we can talk about when it's best to use each ability and why.

The skills in question are:

Elixir H

  • 25s CD
  • Heals and randomly grants Swiftness, Protection, or Regeneration
  • Toolbelt skill is a ground targeted skill that just does the random part of Elixir H: 30s CD

Healing Turret

  • 20s CD, heals when you drop it, continually applies Regeneration
  • Toolbelt Skill: drops or explodes the turret
  • Cleansing Burst When the turret is active, you get Cleansing Burst that heals and removes all conditions

Med Kit

  • Drop Bandage x 3: 12s CD, heals a little when you or an ally step on it
  • Drop antidote, which removes conditions
  • Drop Stimulant which gives you fury and swiftness
  • Toolbelt Skill:Bandage Self, 20s CD, heals yourself

So which one should we use when?

First things first, we need numbers. Tooltips are great, but actual in game numbers are better. Here's a table of rough average numbers from my healing dummies. I'm just looking at actual heals right now.

AbilityHeal AmountCooldown
Elixir H560025
Healing Turret Drop500020
Cleansing Burst130060
Drop Bandage105012
Bandage Self500020
Regeneration Tick130

For Guild Wars 2 I am dubbing sHPS meaning self heal per second because each class skills which just heal themselves and heals for their group.

With these numbers we can calculate an optimum sHPS and a worst case sHPS. For optimum sHPS I'm assuming you are a robot and can hit all the skills right on cooldown every time.

Elixir H

Elixir H has a 33% chance to proc Regeneration, as does Toss Elixir H. Regeneration lasts for 10 seconds.

Optimal: (5600 + 2 * (130 * 10)/3) / 25 = 258 sHPS

Suboptimal (No procs, you unlucky rabbit)

5600 / 25 = 224 sHPS

Healing Turret

We run this over 60 seconds because of the cleansing burst cooldown. You have to pick up the healing turret immediately though to trigger the cooldown, so you only get 8 seconds of regeneration per drop.


(5000 * 3 + 3 * (130*8) + 1300) / 60 = 323 sHPS


This is tough to call suboptimal. I'm going to omit Cleansing Burst since it has a smaller radius than the Turret and therefore gives you no visual indication you are in range

(5000 + 130*8) / 20 = 302 sHPS

Med Kit

This is where the robot really comes in. We're assuming he can drop a bandage on cooldown and heal himself with it. I'm using 60 seconds here as well.

Optimal (3 * 5000 + 5 * 1050 * 3) / 60 = 512 sHPS


For this I'm assuming you managed to get one of your bandages out of twelve (which is bad considering if you drop one while running you get it).

(3 * 5000 + 1050 * 1) / 60 = 267 sHPS

Also, just using Bandage Self alone yields 250 sHPS

Surprised? I was.

Non Quantifiables

Next let's talk about the non numerical pros and cons of each. Each skill requires a different level of babysitting and comes with its own pros and cons.

Elixir H can be used anywhere and on the run. From the math we can see it has the lowest heal potential, but is also probably the easiest to use. On the bad side, random procs are hard, especially in PvP where the fights are likely not long enough to take the randomness out.

Healing Turret is sort of a drop it and forget it, however the strange cooldown forces you to keep an eye on it and decide early on if you want your big heal recharging or you want regeneration.

Keep in mind, if you decide to leave regen up for your allies, your sHPS drops to 235 over 60 seconds.

The other obvious con is the lack of mobility. To keep your regeneration up you have a 480 unit(?) radius.

Another bonus however is your 60s CD condition removal.

Med Kit puts up some huge numbers but at a cost. It's hard to use and you have to swap into a kit to do it. However, you get a condition removal and a non-random swiftness and fury buff which you can drop while running and get it (I've tested this a lot)

What really makes the Med Kit shine though is the toolbelt skill. I wouldn't be surprised if it gets nerfed. It has better healing than Elixir H and is the same as the Healing Turret, but doesn't require any weird cooldown management.


Elixir H224258Easy, mobile/Random, lowest HPS
Healing Turret302323Group Heal, condition removal/stationary, weird cd management
Med Kit267512high potential heal, swiftness buff, condition removal/difficult to use, can't control who gets bandages

I'll replay these numbers at launch, but right now it looks like taking the time to master the Med Kit is the way to go. As long as group heal is not your focus, it's going to give you the best healing for your selfish little Asura brain.

Theorycrafting: Guild Wars Style

Posted on July 16, 2012

I realize most people reading blogs about an MMO that hasn't released already know about theorycrafting. However, I wanted to take some time to set up theorycrafting and its usefulness in Guild Wars 2, as numbers will be a large part of this blog post launch.

So... theorycrafting. What is it? Is it one word or two? A hyphen? Some people love it and some people think games would be better off without it.

The term came into existence among Starcraft players when debating strategy away from the game. Sitting around the lunch table arguing about which race would win a given scenario was a way to play Starcraft when you couldn't play Starcraft. Of course it was all theoretical, and therefore, Theorycraft. Sometimes the term was used negatively, like "He can't micro/macro/some other skill, he's just a theorycrafter", meaning the player has a head for Starcraft theory but is not a good player.

The term became more popular when it carried over to World of Warcraft. Players began reverse engineering the formulas used for their character's damage. Spreadsheets were made, simulators were built, and threads were filled with arguments (primarily on elitistjerks.com. All in the name of higher DPS, higher TPS, or higher HPS/M.

I always hated math, why would I do this?

First off, you don't have to: people like me who love math will do it for you. Theorycrafting is a great to figure out what works well without any bias. You may feel like massive crits are the way to go, but putting 50 small bleeds on an enemy might be the true fastest way to kill it. Theorycrafting can tell you this. Theorycrafting has brought new terms to gaming like soft cap. The game doesn't tell you that defense is less useful after a certain point, theorycrafters do.

TheoryWarring: Guild Wars 2 always has to be different, right?

In other MMOs I've done theory crafting just to figure out what rotation to use or mostly, which heal will give me the best HPM. Guild Wars 2 is going to be different though. Through the first two beta events I can already tell that the best DPS does not mean the best player. So I want to change what theorycrafting has been into a more suitable case for Guild Wars. I am dubbing this Theory Wars.

Theory Wars

Theorywarring should tell you not just the damage numbers, but help you make decisions while you play, because that's what Guild Wars 2 combat is all about. It's not about trying to take the human factor out of your perfectly theory crafted rotation. It's about position, support, control and damage.

We will have to crunch some numbers and figure out DPS and all that, but then, like a good Engineer, we have to take that theoretical science and apply it. Make some bridges. Let's build a great build, and learn to make decisions while playing that build that really make it shine. Let's learn how to fight more effectively with and against other professions and let's learn when to support and when to hit like a truck.

Something seems off

Posted on July 07, 2012

I've double checked my math here at least three times. Spurred on by a comment about Firearms being vastly superior to Explosives for the Pistol, I set about to some mathing. At this stage of the game, the numbers point to Explosives for increased Pistol damage. I know that should be backwards, it's called Firearms, right?

So last time I did an isolated test using the Pistol skill Explosive Shot. The numbers came about about the same. Or did they? I forgot to count the extra ticks for + Condition Duration in Explosives, so Explosives actually comes out ahead. While the condition damage from Firearms out damages the conditions, the extra crit just isn't enough to out damage the sustained Power of Explosives.

So tonight I added Poison Dart Volley to the mix.. My test used data collected from a couple hundred shots but I broke it down into averages over 10 shot sets. Poison Dart Volley has a cooldown of 10 seconds so I could only use it once.

Note: I left out the third skill, Static Shot because it has no instant damage and I am unsure about how traits affect damage from Confusion.

When I used Poison Dart Volley first I get:

+30 Explosives7252
+30 Firearms6811

When I used it after 8 seconds I get a little more damage:

+30 Explosives7399
+30 Firearms6939

As you can see, Explosives comes out on top again. Here's the basic formula I used (I go into more details on this previous post)

((poison dart volley crit dmg * crit rate) + (poison dart volley dmg * 100-crit rate) * 5 (hits)) + (2 ticks) * (poison tick dmg)

I add to that

((explosive shot crit dmg * crit rate) + (explosive shot dmg * 100-crit rate) * 9 (hits)) + ticks(bleed tick dmg)

I collected the damage and crit rate numbers in BWE2. For untraited it looks like this:

((348 * .375) + (230 * .625)) * 5 + 2(96) + 9(420.375 + 280.625) + 32(49) = 6123

+30 Explosives:

((428 * .375) + (280 * .625)) * 5 + 2(96) + 9(520.375 + 340.625) + 38(49) = 7399

+30 Firearms

((348 * .525) + (230 * .475)) * 5 + 2(125) + 9(420.525 + 280.475) + 32(64) = 6939

But Wait!!!!


The Explosive traits do almost nothing for the Pistol. Explosive shot will occasionally add vulnerability but at this point I don't know the rate and I can't calculate it.

I do however know that Target the Maimed in the Firearms tree will give me a 5% damage boost to instant damage on every shot except the first one. (Another reason to not shoot Poison Dart Volley first)

So the Firearm tree actually looks like this:

((348 * .525) + (230 * .475)) * 5 * 1.05 + 2(125) + 1.058 (420.525 + 280.475) + (420.525 + 280.475) + 32(64) = 7153

Getting closer. There's more. Sharpshooting adds more bleeding on crit. We know crit so we can calculate this.

Let's add 2.6 * 2 * 64 for crits from Poison Dart Volley and 4.75 * 64 * 3 (it's not 4 since the crit can be at the end)

This yields 7153 + 1244 = 8397

We actually do get more damage from Firearms. Vulnerability will help Explosive damage but I can't see it making up 1000 damage over 10 seconds. This is something I will have to test later

So after lots of boring math, we learned

  1. Firearms is better than Explosives for Pistols, although not as much as I would think.
  2. Don't open with Poison Dart Volley. Build bleeds for a few shots to get your condition stacks up and then let the poison darts fly.

Why the Squad Comments Caught My Attention

Posted on February 26, 2012

During last week's Reddit AMA, Arena net posted about Squads, which I hadn't seen mentioned before.

I got super excited. Here's why:

A few years ago, when the Battleground/Scenario model for PvP had existed for a little while, my friends and I were discussing how it would be really cool if MMO PvP and RTS PvP were integrated.

I came up with an idea.

I wanted to see an RTS with live troops. One person (commander) would give orders to all of the other players, RTS style. That player would not fight, but instead have a top down map showing where people are. The commander can give orders through way points (by selecting troops and map clicking) and team messages. The commander also manages resources and peon-style resource collectors that are non players. The resources can be used to upgrade armor/weapon/spell power and also drop supplies like med kits, bombs, ammo, etc to the troops.

The troops are played by real people, just like players in a battleground. It's up to them to carry out the commanders orders. Of course they can go against their commander if they want. That's part of what makes it exciting.

Some sort of honor/prestige should be granted to all players such that any time they carry out an order, they get some, but a victory yields the most. This should encourage the troops to follow orders (to get honor) but if they think the commander is doing a terrible job, going against them can yield more honor through victory.


As far as I know, no one has made this yet, but the squads with commanders in Guild Wars 2 are a step toward this cool little minigame.

I don't think this idea is too uncommon, it's really just blending two genres. Someone make it!

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