Stat Testing - Part IV (Critical Damage Bonus)

Overview

In this article, we detail the damage bonus associated with critical hits for physical damage, magic damage, and cures.  In addition, we talk about the gear and trait modifiers which augment this critical damage bonus - specifically critical potency (Savage Might), magic critical potency (Sagacious Might), and very briefly on critical resilience.  I will also briefly talk about class abilities in the current v1.20 that involve critical damage bonuses, namely - Rampage, Thundaga (Combo), and "Enhanced Blindside" Trait.  Due to length restrictions, I have chosen not to talk about critical rate in this post, and instead focus solely on the critical bonus once the critical has occurred.

Similar to previous posts, this testing was a collaborative effort with Seiken Valk.  I would also like to thank Miko Neversleeps for MAR Rampage testing, and Anzu Mazaki and Katsu Kobashi for gear sets.

As with my other math-heavy posts, I have sectioned off the methodology and discussion sections so that you can simply skip down to the "conclusions" section if the math does not interest you.


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Conclusions

I have color coated the conclusions this time.   Red conclusions indicate fundamental ideas and formulas regarding the critical damage bonus.  Blue conclusions indicate that we are talking about efficiency, gear choices, and the all important "is X better than Y."  Purple conclusions indicate we are talking about specific abilities or traits within the game that deal with critical damage bonus (e.g. Rampage).

    (1)  The critical bonus is a straight percentage increase in damage / HP cured.  This percentage increase is
          only affected by "Crit Potency" enhancements, "Crit Resilience" enhancements, and dLVL.


The critical bonus effect follows the same rules regardless of the kind of critical you are attempting to land - whether it is a physical attack, magic attack, or cure spell.  Critical resilience is assumed to be the same as negative critical potency; however, this was never formally tested here.

    (2)  There is a cap on the critical bonus percentage increase at 175%.  There is a floor at 115%.

To clarify, there will be a formula presented further down in the conclusions which may predict a critical bonus percentage of greater than 175% or less than 115%.  The game will simply cap you at one of these 2 values.  The calculated bonus is still important, however, because the + critical potency effects are applied prior to application of the cap and floor.

    (3)  + Crit Potency enhancement increases the the critical bonus by a fixed increase in %.  This fixed bonus
          decreases as dLVL increases.  The enhancement is applied before the bonus floor and cap. 


The key here is that the enhancement is applied prior to application of the cap and floor.  This means that say you have 108% critical bonus at +0 potency.  This is floored to 115%.  Now let's say you add a certain amount of potency that brings your critical bonus to 114%.  This value is still floored again at 115%, meaning your potency increase actually changed nothing.  This is an extremely important concept at higher dLVLs.

    (4)  The baseline critical bonus (the critical bonus at +0 potency) is affected only by dLVL.

The effect of dLVL on the baseline critical bonus can be summarized graphically by the graph below...


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    (5)  The table below summarizes the baseline critical damage bonus and the amount of critical bonus
          added per point in + critical potency for each dLVL (range -30 to +10).


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Blue means that the 175% cap will affect the calculated value.  Red means that the 115% floor will affect the calculated value.  The "Bonus to Potency Ratio" is the amount of critical bonus % you add per point in potency.  As a sample calculation, for dLVL=0, let's say we have +10 potency.  The baseline critical damage bonus is 121.43%.  The additional bonus added by the +10 potency is calculated by 10 x 0.1729% = 1.729%.  This gives a final critical damage bonus of 121.43% + 1.729% = 123.159%.  "Wasted Potency" refers to the amount of + crit potency enhancement one would require to see any difference. 

    (6)  For cure criticals, dLVL is calculated by [Target Rank] - [Caster Rank].  This means that for most endgame
          situations, the only relevant dLVL is 0 (rank 50s curing other rank 50s).


If you take a R50 mage and Cura a R1 target, you actually will see the full 175% cap in play (and see a Cura critical that can exceed 2,000 HP).  However, as stated above, dLVL=0 is really the only relevant endgame situation right now.  The chart below illustrates the effectiveness of adding Magic Critical Potency on cure criticals at dLVL=0.


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    (7)  To attempt to better answer the question "how good is Might materia?", the following graph illustrates
          the overall % increase in damage when you critical hit at varying potency increases.


This graph specifically shows how much increase you get by adding +50, +100, +150, and +200 critical potency (as compared to someone with +0 potency or the baseline).  Because the "return" or "effectiveness" of the potency stat varies significantly with dLVL, this graph charts the effectiveness of each of the 4 cases across the spectrum of "useful" enemy ranks (dLVL=-20 to +10).  To give a sample read of the graph - if fighting an R52 enemy and your critical at +0 potency does 500 damage, it would do +15% or 575 damage if you had had +100 potency (purple line).


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    (8)  The Rampage status gives 50% of the critical damage dealt back to HP.  This HP return is capped at
          20% of your maximum HP.  This means if your max HP is 4,000 the most you can get back is 800.



    (9)  The Thundaga combo bonus grants a rough +175 magic critical potency and allows the critical to
         break and exceed the 175% critical damage bonus cap.


This is the same effect as adding +175 magic critical potency from say Sagacious Might.  It also allows the spell to potentially break the 175% cap.  This was only small test, however, so this value may vary with other variables such as the caster's level. 


That pretty much covers it.  I think we were pretty thorough in covering everything that dealt with critical bonus in this post.  The only two things we missed were specifically testing the effect of critical resilience and PGL trait "enhanced blindside" which adds an INT modifier to blindside criticals.  Again, we intentionally avoided talking about critical hit rates in this post due to length restrictions.

XIV v1.21 is due to come out in a few days, which means the advent of new jobs and 2 new instances.  A couple people have asked why we would go through this much trouble testing when the game is still in such flux.  My personal response to this is that I believe the core mechanics of the game (the fundamental formulas of attack, defense, and resistance) have been implemented already with v1.20.  If future changes are made, they will likely be small tweaks rather than complete overhauls (in which these previous tests may not be valid but still partially correct).  This is of course still a gamble and only my opinion though.  Either way, looking forward to v1.21 and the population increase it brings.


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Stat Testing - Part III (Physical Damage Taken)

Overview

This third post focuses on the variables at play in determining the amount of damage taken against physical attacks.  The data collection and analysis in this post was completed through a collaborative effort with Seiken Valk (some of his posts here in the official forums on ARC and LNC testing), who's in the same LS as me.  Building upon the previous 2 posts, the data collection methodology relies heavily on Part I's analysis of MIN and MAX distribution; so I highly encourage you to at least read that section if you're interested in how the conclusions in this post were reached.

Special thanks to of course Seiken Valk, but also Miko Neversleeps and Katsu Kobashi for gear sets.  In addition, a good amount of credit should be given to Grain Malt's initial DEF/VIT testing as well as Stanislaw for his translation of Malt's post.

As with my other math-heavy posts, I have sectioned off the methodology and discussion sections so that you can simply skip down to the "conclusions" section if the math does not interest you.

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Conclusions

There's a great deal of information in this post, but I will try to keep the conclusions pretty brief.

    (1) The amount of damage one takes can be summarized in the following formula:

   Physical Damage Taken = [ "Damage Taken at 0VIT/0DEF" ] - [dLVL modifier] * { [ DEF ] + 0.67  [ VIT ] }

This formula tells us that for every 1 DEF we add, we get a static amount of damage reduction which is directly related to the dLVL of the mob we are getting hit by.  This relationship between dLVL and the amount of damage reduction per +1 DEF added can be summarized in this graph:

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    (2) VIT and DEF are related in a 2:3 DEF:VIT ratio, meaning adding 3 VIT is like adding 2 DEF.

This is also evident if we look at the formula in conclusion 1.  Testing was done specifically at a range from VIT of 252 to 345, meaning if a "tier" argument is to be made, no such "tier" appears to exist between this range.  Seeing as most R50s will fall at or below this range, we do not find any evidence of a practical VIT "tier".  This is a very interesting conclusion since previous testing in both 1.18 and 1.20 have pointed to a 2:3 ATK:STR ratio as well.

    (3) VIT, in addition to affecting physical damage taken, also decreases magical/elemental attacks.

We chose not to go any deeper into this aspect of VIT since this post focuses on physical damage.

    (4) Damage from different physical attacks (normal, WS, etc.) all carry the same damage reduction per
         adding DEF or VIT.  Meaning DEF and VIT decrease damage taken the same on everything.


This means that if we have a mob with 4 different physical attacks, say Full Thrust, Pierce, Light Thrust, and Leg Sweep - adding a certain amount of defense or VIT will decrease the average amount of damage taken by all of these attacks by the same amount.

    (5) There is a "damage floor" at which adding defense or VIT will no longer decrease damage taken.
         This "damage floor" depends on the dLVL of the enemy attacking.


The damage floor is not affected by mob or player stats and is solely dependent on the attacking enemy's dLVL relationship with the player.  The relationship between dLVL and the damage floor is summarized in the plot shown below.

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    (6) The efficiency of adding more defense increases as one approaches the required defense to reach
         the damage floor for that particular enemy.


I highly recommend reading the section of this post that focuses on efficiency.  This is ultimately what the vast majority of players will care about with respect to defensive stats ("how good is it if I add X amount of defense to my current build?").  Embedded in this analysis is a quantitative explanation as to why the "naked Ifrit run" works.

That concludes the end of part III!  There's a lot to digest here but we've really only explained a small percentage of how things work so far.  The obvious extension to this post on physical damage taken is physical damage dealt.  Being able to connect to two in a formulaic will definitely be the goal in the future.  Til next time.


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Stat Testing - Part II (MEVA)

Overview

In this second post on stat testing, I want to focus on XIV's current concept of magic evasion (MEVA) and a little bit on its counterpart magic accuracy (MACC).  Before starting, I want to state clearly that my intention in this post is not to offer a MEVA (or MACC) formula with regards to resistance rates.  As you'll see later on, the trial sizes in these tests were pretty large, but not near the amount required to reach that level of precision.  To contrast this with the 5,400 trial series of tests I'm presenting in the post, Lodeguy's original MACC testing in XI took about 23,000 trials.  What we can hopefully get out of this preliminary testing, though, is a rough idea of how MEVA and MACC are related to resistance rates, what other factors play a role in resistance rates, and finally, a ball park idea of how useful these stats are.

Special thanks to Miko Neversleeps for helping me with parts of the testing in this post.

As with my other math-heavy posts, I have sectioned off the methodology and discussion sections so that you can simply skip down to the "conclusions" section if the math does not interest you.


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Conclusion

Moving straight to the summary of conclusions for this post...

    (1) All magic spells and elemental based normal/TP attacks are subject to a MEVA check.

The in game log currently will only openly notify you if a partial resist for magic spells.  For elemental attacks and TP moves, you will only notice the damage reduction of the resist, but will not be notified of the resist in the log.

    (2) There are 3 "tiers" of resists, labeled in this post as "Single" (-25%), "Double" (-50%), and Triple (-75%)

The game will only give you notice on magic spells that a resist occurs, but you will not be notified of exactly of the strength of the resist.  There is no apparent -100% resistance tier with the exception of using "Decoy" and direct non-damage enfeebling spells like "Bio".

    (3) Elemental Resistances only affect direct damage taken and not MEVA or resist rate.

There is a clear damage decrease when the correct elemental resistance gear is used on particular attacks, but not a change in the resist type rate.  This is a completely seperate kind of testing that I did not really go into in this post beyond the fact that it does not have anything to do with MEVA.

    (4) The resist rates for elemental damage attacks (specifically Seismic Scream) is plotted and shown here.
         This plot can be used to estimate how potential increases and decreases in MEVA will affect resists.

         The plots requires that you have at least 1 data point to be useful on particular mobs.  A brief table
         outlining a couple of mobs tested in this post is shown here as well.


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    (5) There is no pre-mature resist rate floor or cap.  You can potentially resist 100% or 0%.

    (6) "Status Resist" equipment gear like Aurelia's Kiss does not change duration or potency of enfeebles.
         There is a 1:1 ratio where 1 "status resist" gives 1 MEVA for that status ailment.


Just to add clarify and emphasis, yes this does appear make MEVA the better stat since it adds global resistance as opposed to just resistance to a specific element.  The amount of testing done on this is pretty small so I could be easily missing something but based on my tests, I don't see how this is useful, especially on head and feet pieces which can receive Manaflight materia.

    (7) Enfeebling spells (maybe all magic spells) have their own unique land rates for a given MEVA.

This just means that if you resist say 50% of 1 spell at a particular MEVA, you may not resist 50% for all spells.

    (8) Enfeebling spells (e.g. Poison) likely only need to have any resist to fully resist.  There is currently no
         such thing as a "partial resist" for enfeebles right now.


    (9) The "Magic Evasion Down" effect on R50 CNJ's Stone gave -29 MEVA on R40 Lemurs.

This gives a rough estimate of the MEVA down effect for an R50.  This value did not change with a +20 increase in enfeebling skill (+80 PIE).  It could still change based on the mob's statistics or the CNJ's level though.


That just about does it! 

Taking briefly about potential application of these results to in-game scenarios, I feel that stacking Manaflights and MEVA probably won't be too useful for high-end mobs like Ifrit.  We can see that the MEVA to 100% "partial resists" even for the R30 Ifrit is extremely high and near unreachable currently without amazing triple socket gear at least.  The R50 Ifrit would be pretty impossible to reach a decent resist rate on.  However, for normal mobs in general instances like Darkhold, I can see a MEVA set being potentially useful, specifically for stopping enfeebles.

We also talked about in the post turning around the MEVA plot and plotting for the opposite stat in magic accuracy.  If we make the assumption that there is a direct 1 for 1 check between MACC and MEVA, we can get a plot like this:

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Ultimately, this may be the biggest "prize" piece of information coming out of this post due to the importance of avoiding resists for magic combos on mage jobs.  Seeing how most endgame situations have mages fall between the -200 and 0 range on the plot, it shows how potential gear increases in MACC roughly correlate to gains in the land rate of spells.

I'll probably end up coming back to some of the concepts tested in this post later on as I have more time.  For the most part, these are ball-park, qualitative ideas and statements and it would be interesting to try to add more quantitative data to back up the ideas here.  But moving on to what's ahead, there are other big, global concepts on stat increases I'd like to get to first.  Til part III.


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Stat Testing - Part I (Cure Formula)

Overview

The December 1.20 patch fundamentally changed essentially every skill and formula in FFXIV - a much needed rework.  With this, it allows players to, for the first time, test for particular formulas without the inevitability that it will just be changed in a few months.  I know that I had personally been looking forward to testing stats prior to the 1.20 patch, but just found it pointless with 1.20 looming.  It has been roughly 1.5 months since 1.20 came out, and the quality of testing regarding stats out on the official forums has been pretty disappointing for the most part.  I hope that this series of posts will help to lay the foundation for future testing on a number of subjects.

For this first post, I wanted to start with the "cure formula" - specifically for Cure and Cura.  I realize that there is already some preliminary testing out there - specifically my own Cure testing in 1.19 and Deli's testing on the official forums.  I want to explain that before we start, I am not going to "build" upon and previously collected data, but intend to start from scratch. 

As a *disclaimer*, I try to involve statistics where they are helpful and necessary, but the overall understanding of statistics would be best described as novice (AP high-school to undergraduate) at best.  My terminology use is especially poor.  Basically, I am in no way shape or form a Robonosto; however, I also don't think that amount of depth and expertise is necessary for this particular set of data.  I will, however, always appropriately note any lack of expertise when tackling data in the future.

As with my other math-heavy posts, I have sectioned off the methodology and discussion sections so that you can simply skip down to the "conclusions" section if the math does not interest you.

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Conclusions

I will try to summarize the "important" game-application findings found from the discussion of the cure data set; however, be aware that I will be extremely conservative when making calls here since most of the results are at best estimations of what's really going on with the formula.  That being said, I feel like there are still some good things to know even without the true formula.

    (1) Mind itself does not affect the HP gain from Cure when used on classes other than CNJ.

This still means that if you increase the Mind stat on say THM, it will increase your Cures, but it only does this because you also get 1 point of Healing Potency for every 4 Mind you add.  However, you will only get additional bonuses to cures for the mind stat itself if you are on Conjurer.  As a preview to future stat posts, I can go ahead and safely say that this "modifier loss" also applies to other formulas such as Second Wind and attack magic.  For example, if you use Second Wind on PGL, INT is a modifier, but is not for non-PGL classes.  INT is also a modifier for Thunder on THM, but other classes do not get this INT modifier if cross-classing Thunder, etc.

    (2) Adding +1 Healing Magic Potency adds roughly 1.25 HP on Cure and 2.50 HP on Cura when on CNJ. 
          It adds roughly 1.10 HP per potency when on non-CNJ classes.  Be aware this is an oversimpliciation.


I chose to write this in terms of "ratio of increase" despite the fact I kept calling it an oversimplification in the body of the post.  I feel like for the average player, ratios make more sense when it comes to gear choices.  I feel that in the future, a formula estimation will be inevitable and at that point, the true relationship will replace the "ratio explanation."  From the mathematical point of view, it looks like potency is a percentage increase to HP cured, meaning if you increase your potency by 20% keeping everything else the same, your HP cured will go up by 20% as well.

    (3) Vitality is a minor modifier to the Cure formula.

Vitality appears to add roughly 1 point to Cure for every 8-10 points added to it.  It's probably too small to make a difference or make it worth having a "VIT build," but is good to know for the purposes of controlled testing.  I did not test the effects of VIT on Cura, but made the assumption that it would not make a big difference relative to potency and Mind.  It's important to just know this modifier exists.

    (4) For CNJ only, +1 Mind adds roughly +0.25 to HP to Cure and 0.50 to Cura.  Much like my explanation
         for Healing Magic Potency, this is an oversimplification of what's really going on.


To stress, remember that this only applies if you are on the CNJ class.  Other classes do not benefit from a mind modifier on cures.  This "ratio explanation" is an oversimplified version of what's really going on and the ratio will increase as your Healing Magic Potency increases.  When making gear choices, also remember that adding 4 mind grants you 1 potency.  This 0.25 / 0.50 ratio increase described above does not take that into account.  When you do take that into account, the ratios are actually more like 0.5625 for Cure and 1.125 for Cura.  You could summarize stat gain ratios as:

* Cure on CNJ
    1 potency = 1.25
    1 mnd = 0.5625

* Cura on CNJ
    1 potency = 2.50
    1 mnd = 1.125

* Cure on non-CNJ
    1 potency = 1.10
    1 mnd = 0.275


    (5) When the caster and target are both R50 with no critical bonuses, the % bonus on critical cures is roughly
         an increase of 22-23%.  The rate is roughly 7.8%.  Limited testing on critical potency bonus so far.


The amount of testing and discussion for critical was fairly limited in this post because it's a bit more complex than I'm ready to get into at this point.  The best I can offer for this post is that that THM trait that gives +10 critical rate does work for cures and that if you add +58 critical potency, the critical bonus increase jumps from about 22-23% to 34-35%.

Whew!  That's about it for this.  Just a couple notes to end things.  Critique is always welcome; the harsher the better.  The testing and discussion shown here is limited to the point where we can't derive a usable "cure formula" as of yet, but I am confident that with some community help or just pure time to test more, one will be found fairly soon.  Also I'm sorry I didn't get to test Curaga. 

Lastly, for those that don't play XIV but still follow me and want my advice about the game: wait for 2.0 in Q4 2012.  The game is fun right now but that's only because I just played 1.5 years in the train-wreck that was this current game's predecessor.  If you play now, it's paid beta-test.  If you still want to play though, I'm on Figaro!

Til next time.


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FFXIV v1.18 Enmity Testing (Part I)

Overview


The v1.18 XIV patch brought about the first sweeping changes that will ultimately decide the game's fate when it is eventually released for the PS3.  Among the many things changed in v1.18, the enmity system was completely overhauled along with the introduction of the enmity display icon.  Since the start of XIV, I had wanted to test the enmity system; however, it became clear very early on that the system would receive an eventual complete overhaul.  I made it a personal challenge to see how fast the new system could be completely modeled.  Before continuing, I encourage those interested in exactly how this was done to not only read this series of posts, but also my FFXI enmity testing, as many of the procedures are variations of tests from there.

In an effort to keep these posts readable and organized, I have decided to split all the testing into smaller sections.  This first section will focus on establishing the basics and strategy behind testing.  The other sections will focus more on the actual numbers, quantification, and formulas.


Special thanks to Cursive Kassad for helping me test most of this.  Also thanks to others in Dancing Mad who joined in on the testing - Kael Morgain, Aizen Hajime, and Katsu Kobashi.

A summary of conclusions reached in the testing in this post is given at the end.


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Summary


This first post only includes the basic tests which will be used in future sections to establish controls, along with some very basic enmity values for certain abilities.  Below is a summary of the findings for this particular post:

  - The enmity generated from actions is not affected by time (no time-decay component)
  - The enmity generated from actions does not decrease with taking damage or evading attacks
  - Enmity cannot be generated from buffs and cures on mobs that are in "yellow" unclaimed status
  - When there are multiple players with the same enmity, hate goes to the player who reached this amount first.
  - There is no additional enmity bonus for pulling (first action)


  - The enmity icon will show as "green" when a player is 0% to ~50% of the current high enmity
  - The enmity icon will show as "yellow" when a player is ~50% to ~80% of the current high enmity
  - The enmity icon will show as "red" when a player is ~80% to ~100% (but losing tie) of the current high enmity


  - The base unit of enmity is assumed to be dealing 1 damage 
  - Cure for 0 HP generates 0 base units of enmity
 
  - A Lv50 ARC curing himself for 1 HP is equivalent to 1 base unit of enmity (1 damage).
 
  - A Lv50 CON using Paralyna, Poisona, or Silena will generate 9 base units of enmity.
 
  - A Lv50 CON using Purge will generate 41 base units of enmity.


Before concluding, I want to stress that these posts are attempting to develop the best model for the current XIV enmity system - the key word being model.  Without actually seeing the code for this game, it is impossible to truly understand what is going on.  The best we can do is to model the system based on what we see.  This particular model being generated hinges on the idea that the base unit of enmity is indeed dealing 1 point of damage - which is a fairly safe assumption based on the patch notes, but an assumption nonetheless. 


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Abusing the "Return" AI

Overview

Before getting into the actual topic of this post, I want to update those who are following XIV but not playing.  Overall, I feel like the game is starting to make tangible progress.  The current team seems very focused on fixing the game from the ground up and adding lower level content first, rather than trying to prioritize appeasing those currently playing (for instance with throw in high level content).  For this reason, you may still hear a lot of complaining about lack of content; however, it's actually starting to increase quite quickly.  For those interested in starting, I would highly recommend watching for the May 1.18 patch when expected battle changes are happening.  Content-wise, I feel the game is ready for low levels and new starters.  Level 50 content is still lacking however.

Moving onto the topic for this post, one of the most immediately obvious new battle mechanics I saw when this game started was this "return to territory" AI.  Basically, every mob has it's own little zone where it likes to stay, and it will return to this area if you move too far.  This applies to every mob in the game, including NMs.  Where this becomes abusable is when players just hang out at the fringe of this zone and take ranged shots at the mob as it runs back and forth trying to hit you and returning to it's "territory".  In this post, I'm going to show case exactly how abusable this mechanic is with a solo of Elder Mosshorn (with video), which is essentially not soloable via normal methods - even with the current overpowered THM job.

This post is going to be a bit shorter than some of the previous ones.  I will not focus too much on the details of the actual Mosshorn solo since it is basically a combination of how the other THM solos are currently done (see my Dodore post) with the addition of those "return to territory" AI abuse.  I feel like this post may be especially "on topic" in terms of the current state of the game as SE recently revealed that they are planning to remove ranged attacks from all mobs.  This just adds to the potential abuse of this tactic as you will see in the post.





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Conclusion

The "return to territory" mechanic is a part of the current mob AI that just asks to be abused in FFXIV.  This will only worsen if default ranged attacks are removed from the game as SE currently plans to do.  In my opinion, the whole idea needs to be scratched and they should implement something more closely resembling XI.  While this will allow for more kinds of kiting abuse (my favorite strategy for anyone that's followed my blog for awhile), it will ultimately save the game from an extremely obvious form of abuse.

On a slightly different topic, with this solo coupled with another recent Great Buffalo solo, Thaumaturge can essentially solo every piece of current content in the game with the sole exception of Uraeus.  This is generally due to the overpowered ability Emulate, but even when this is inevitably fixed, the game still suffers from huge class imbalances.  Fixing Emulate does not change the fact that stats largely do not matter due to the extreme amount of weight dLVL carries in nearly every single formula in the game.  I'm hoping for the best with 1.18, but nearly every aspect of the battle systems in regards to it's formulas is horribly imbalanced from both an implementation perspective as well as a concept perspective.  I'm personally very happy with the new team thus far, but balancing the system they were handed will not be an easy task.

Again, for those waiting on the sidelines for the game to improve, I would recommend watching closely in May for the 1.18 patch.  In an earlier post, my big 3 complaints with the game were EXP gain, battle mechanics / formulas, and content.  The SP/EXP system still has issues, but overall it is very easy to level and this issue is largely fixed.  Content-wise, the game is still lacking at level 50 with no "endgame" instances, but it has plenty of quests and lower level content now - certainly enough to keep a new player busy for months.  Hopefully 1.18 will be the beginning of the battle mechanics fixes.  

Lastly, I started posting short blurbs on the official Lodestone blog site.  You can follow me here if you're interested in some of the less formal posts.  These compete posts take time to write so I like to just post shorter topics or video updates there first then transfer anything interesting here with more detail later.


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Thaumaturge Dodore Solo

Overview

A major theme I have noticed since starting XIV is the idea of preemptive exploit prevention.  Many aspects of the game, whether it be the fact you can only 'claim' one mob at a time (an anti-"astral burn" feature in my opinion) or the fact that all mobs have ranged attacks (anti-"kiting"), I feel were purposely placed specifically to prevent certain tactics or tricks in XI from being reproduced in XIV.  In many ways, the failure of XIV's original combat mechanics is due largely to the fact that SE over-focused on preventing old XI exploits and did not place enough emphasis on any actual improvements. 





With the recent Letter to the Producer, III stating that re-working and re-balancing the combat system and mechanics was a priority, I thought this would be an interesting solo to post.  I mentioned in a previous post where I briefly went over the Buffalo Faction Leve NM solo that Thaumaturge was a broken job due to a number of reasons.  This post is sort of a continuation of this theme of imbalance and exploitation of the current system.  I'll focus both on the solo itself as well as the abstract reasons why this solo was possible and the imbalances currently within XIV's combat system.

Video is included in this post.  Some pics courtesy of Cho Chang who was watching the fight.


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Conclusion

It is safe to say that this fight, in the game's present form, can only be completed on Thaumaturge.  In this current version of the game, the job is clearly broken, which is why this solo is even possible.  For one, it has the far superior AoE that allows you to hit all 7 mobs in the solo easily.  It's the strongest damage dealer in the game easily with DoTs, Shadowsear, and just again that superior AoE range.  Finally, it has the healing capacity that none of the DoW jobs have that is required in the solo.  In short, Thaumaturge is "the new Red Mage."  It's currently the best soloer, the best healer, and the best damage dealer. 

Emulate is the key to this Dodore fight in that with it on, most of the attacks you'll face are completely harmless with it on.  But without Emulate, you will pretty much die within seconds while the minions are out.  The difference is pretty staggering.  I suspect that this ability will get another look by the development team at some point and ultimately nerfed similar to how Punishing Barbs and Firm Conviction where in the major November '10 patch.  Even with this probable nerf, Thaumaturge could probably use either a couple of job specific nerfs or some global changes to the combat system that especially lower the effectiveness of DoT spells.

For anyone interested in keeping up with how I rework my stats, you can find my XIV-Pro or Lodestone Profile.  Until the game mechanics are significantly reworked, I'll likely stick to the capped VIT build though.  While these solos are quite interesting to me, I think they do highlight some pretty blatant imbalances within the game's combat system which will hopefully be addressed in the future. 


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The Mechanics of Combat SP (Part II)

Overview

Continuing where we left off in Part I, I want to focus on 3 aspects of combat SP in this post...

      (1) The EXP/SP gain at levels below 24, which is enhanced by an additional "low level" modifier.
      (2) Another look at Base SP, particularly targeting popular SP sites and leveling Leves.
      (3) Another quick look at the Party SP system, especially given the new
1.15b patch update.

I'll again try to summarize the important aspects of the post at the end, leaving the actual data collection process in the body of the post.  A lot of information talked about here will refer back to Part I, so I highly recommend at least reading the results summary if you haven't yet, or some of this may not make sense.

By the end of this post, I hope that a good deal of this information will become useful in actual practice and with game-play decisions.  Regarding Base SP, which is the factor that most affects the overall SP gain in parties and Leve runs, I tried to focus on the most popular targets and offer tables for advice on how to approach the star ratings on the popular leveling Leves.

The Mechanics of Combat SP (Part I)


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Results Summary

Briefly summarizing the new information in this post...

(1) There is an additional "Low Level Modifier" for players below rank 24.  The bonuses are summarized below...





(2) Leve Linking grants a 50% EXP/SP bonus per link to the amount normally gained.  There is a cap at 3 links.
 

          [ Final SP ]  =  [ Normal SP Gained ]  x  0.5  x   { [ Number of Leve Links ]  +  2  }



(3) Guardian's Aspect grants a 50% SP bonus on top of all other modifiers.  It does NOT grant bonus EXP, only SP.



(4) The table of party modifiers has been updated (but not verified) for the 1.15b patch update, but the current table shown below makes some assumptions that the patterns found in Part I were not changed in the patch.  Because of this, more data will be need to verify points on the table.  Basically, the overall concept that above 8 party members, you only get "credit" for having 8 in range of -10/+5 holds true (grayed boxes), but the exact values will need work.





(5) The table below summarizes the level of the mobs in the 6 most popular SP Leves and the level of the mobs for each star rating.  This table should be very helpful in determining what star rating is needed to cap everyone in your group.  The rule of thumb is you need to be 10 below the mob level to cap.




At this point, there are still 4 "unknowns" to the combat SP system -

(1) How fighting mobs claimed not at full HP affect the end EXP/SP.
(2) How the color or "con" system works for both individual mobs as well as grouped mobs.
(3) How Base SP works - is there a pattern or will all mobs need to be manually tested?

(4) Completing and verifying the Party Modifier Table.

I think after completing the party modifiers table, my next big focus will be regarding the color/"con" system, as it is probably the easiest thing left that has relevance to game-play and strategy.  I feel that how non-full-HP mobs affect SP is a pretty minor topic.  The Base SP issue will likely require a large data set and take a lot of time to assemble unless a clear pattern shows itself.  At this point, I am taking requests and recommendations as to which open world mobs or Leve mobs players would like for me to test as potential SP targets.  Just please post back here or on BG with any requests.  I would also appreciate any data on party sizes.  I basically need to know (1) what level you are, (2) what you fought, (3) the number in party, (4) the number in party in -10/+5 range, (5) the SP value gained.

Til next time!

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The Mechanics of Combat SP (Part I)

Overview

The recent early February XIV patch drastically changed the SP system to make it easier to level at all ranks.  Since it was implemented, I feel that a number of players have made another attempt at the game, mainly those initially frustrated by the difficult leveling system previously implemented.  As one of the major problems with the game, this change will probably go a long way towards improving the population of the game and regaining community trust in the game.

But how exactly does this system work?  And more importantly, how can the player base maximize their SP gain?

In this post, I'll go over the basic calculations involving in EXP and SP gain as well as how these rough formulas were deduced from basic observation.  I'll include both solo as well as party play.  I'll then make a couple discussion points about how to maximize EXP gain under the new system.  I've provided some clean tables at the end of the post that will be useful in the future for those interested in predicting their own SP gains.  For those not interested in the number crunching and just want the results, I suggest skipping down to the summary section. 

The Mechanics of Combat SP (Part II)

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Results Summary

To briefly summarize the final results and limitations of this...

(1) The amount of SP gained is simply 40% of the amount of EXP gained.


(2) The amount of EXP gained can be found with the basic formula...


           [ Final EXP ]  =  [ Base EXP ] x [ dLVL Modifier ] x [ Party Modifier ]


(3) The [ dLVL Modifier ] is a function of the rank difference between the player and mob being fought.




The dLVL modifier is arbitrarily chosen to be 1.00 at dLVL=0.  The amount of EXP gained is capped above dLVL=10 (with a modifier of x3.00).  At dLVL<-19, the modifier is 0.00, meaning you will receive no EXP. 



(4) The [ Base EXP ] is defined as the EXP gained killing the mob solo if dLVL were 0. 

Each kind of mob has its own Base EXP.  This Base EXP will vary between mob type and races.  In general, higher level types of mobs seem to have higher bases, but no definitive trends have been found so far.  The lowest Base EXP in my data set is 158/63, while the highest found so far is 500/200.  The Base EXP will have a significant impact on the amount of EXP gained.




(5) The [ Party Modifier ] is a function of the total number in party and the number within -10/+5 of the player.

The table below summarizes the party modifier for all possible situations.  But keep in mind that the grayed areas are untested and unverified at this time.  I am personally not that confident in the grayed values because it implies that for certain situations, having players out of the -10/+5 range will actually increase your EXP gain (don't trust the gray numbers in this table!).  More testing is needed.  An alternative table providing exact party modifiers instead of 2 decimal estimates is given inside the post.


>>>  THIS TABLE IS OUTDATED DUE TO THE 1.15b PATCH  <<<





>>>  THIS TABLE IS OUTDATED DUE TO THE 1.15b PATCH  <<<



(6) Things still unknown and shortcomings

      - Rounding error associated with the formulas will only predict EXP within roughly +/-2 points
      - The party modifier table needs some verification at higher number of total members
      - The base EXPs of various mobs and races need to be found (hopefully a trend is found)
      - The mechanics of Leve linking and Guardian's Favor need to be discussed
      - The mob "con" (color) system is still poorly understood



At this point, there are some limitations to the results.  For instance, much of the party modifier table is extrapolated from a set of maybe 10 data points (there just happened to be a nice pattern).  Also, the calculations in general just have some rounding error associated with it.  Since these formulas are based on observation only and not code, I cannot tell you the precise values; however, I do feel confident in these formulas correctly predicting EXP/SP gain within +/-2

In the future, I hope to first verify or shore up the party modifier table as well as work a bit more on the base EXP values to see if there's any sort of pattern involved.  It would be a huge chore to attempt to find the base EXP values for every single mob in the game individually.  In addition, I hope to get more into how one can use knowledge of the system to maximize SP gain in both Leve groups and even parties.  While there are some shortcomings to these results, I do think that the overall concepts of EXP/SP gain and how to use the system to one's advantage can be discerned from this. 

Til next time!


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