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Leatherface's PvM combat skill assessment

#1
I've been playing around a lot with the various combat oriented skills (the ones you use to kill NPCs) and below is my assessment. I've broken out scores based on performance while leveling -vs- performance at GM (or 120) (because they aren't always the same). This is only considering PvM gameplay. These are just my opinions (others' may vary).

S-Rank: Superior skill selection. Generally a "must have" for a template that incorporates that playstyle.
A-Rank: Well tuned skill. Performs as advertised and a viable skill choice that a player won't regret incorporating.
B-Rank: Decent, but not great. Skill could be made more competetive with some minor fixes. Players may or may not regret picking it over something else.
C-Rank: Skill performs, but something is wrong with it. Players who take a C-Rank skill will live to regret it once they come to understand the faults.
D-Rank: Skill has trouble performing poorly, let alone performing well. Something is critically wrong with it.
F-Rank: Skill has a catastrophic flaw.

Fencing
  • Score while levelling: A
  • Score at GM: A
  • Assessment: Fencing's in a good spot. Macing averages a little bit more DPS, but all fencing can be poisoned and no macing weapons can so this is a fair tradeoff.
Macing
  • Score while leveling: A+
  • Score at GM: A+
  • Assessment: Macing's in a good spot. Pretty consistently averages top DPS, just a little bit ahead of fencing, but there's no option to poison these weapons. All macing weapons have associated secondary skills that further boost their damage (fencing and swords are more limited in that regard)

Swordsmanship
  • Score while leveling: A (tentative)
  • Score at GM: A (tentative)
  • Assessment: Swords is being actively tuned to make it competitive with fencing/macing. I'll re-evaluate once that tuning is completed.
Archery
  • Score while leveling: A-
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: Archery's in a good spot, but players need to compensate for its lower base damage by being aggressive about their skill selection. Archers can stay out of melee range (especially with higher arms lore) and shouldn't invest very heavily in defense skills if they want to do good damage.

Tactics
  • Score while leveling: S
  • Score at GM: S
  • Assessment: It's tactics. Doubles your damage at GM compared to 0 skill. Must have.

Arms Lore
  • Score while leveling: S
  • Score at GM: S
  • Assessment: This skill is fantastic for a dexxer. Even for a solo player, the damage bonus from more frequent specials and disarm is competitive with the other skills, but also the specials including disarm benefit the damage a group does as well. All that alone would make the skill worth taking, but furthermore it slows durability loss on weapons/armor/shields... in the practical situation of an adventurer that's a further benefit to offense and defense alike for a character that has arms lore -vs- one who doesn't.
Mining:
  • Score while leveling: A-
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: Works just as described and is a nice offense choice for macers. Note that as a gathering skill it's slow to take it to GM and you can't raise it through combat.
Lumberjacking:
  • Score while leveling: A-
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: Works just as described and is a nice offense choice for swords players. Note that as a gathering skill it's slow to take it to GM and you can't raise it through combat.

Fishing:
  • Score while leveling: A-
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: Works just as described and is a nice offense choice for spear players. Note that as a gathering skill it's slow to take it to GM and you can't raise it through combat.

Forensics:
  • Score while leveling: A+
  • Score at GM: A+
  • Assessment: It's a similar damage bonus as other offensive skills, but also gets you additional hides and meat (which means an effective boost to your gold per hour even if you just vendor it). Unlike many other skills, this one also has bonuses to melee and spell damage (but not poison or pets) as well as barding success chance so it fits many different templates. Note that as a gathering skill it's slow to take it to GM and you can't raise it through combat.
Carpentry:
  • Score while leveling: A-
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: Works just as described and is a nice offense choice for archers and macers. Note that as a crafting skill it's slow to take it to GM and you can't raise it through combat.
Blacksmithing:
  • Score while leveling: A-
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: Works just as described and is a nice offense/defense choice for swords players. The offensive bonus is lower, but the defensive bonus is very nice. Note that as a crafting skill it's slow to take it to GM and you can't raise it through combat.
Tailoring:
  • Score while leveling: B+
  • Score at GM: B+
  • Assessment: The skill works as described and had some recent changes to improve it. For a solo character, blacksmithing would likely be the better defensive option, but the damage reflection for tailoring opens up some fun possibilities if there's a dedicated healer to keep them up.

Tracking
  • Score while leveling: A+
  • Score at GM: A+
  • Assessment: The recent change makes this a very useful combat skill not only in terms of the bonus, but also for being able to give some heads-up / warning about other players entering the area. Like forensics, it also gives a small bump to bard success chances.

Musicianship:
  • Score while leveling: A
  • Score at GM: A
  • Score at 120: B
  • Assessment: It just functions as a pre-req for other bard skills. Up to 100 this is fine. I think requiring point investment up to 120 is punitive. Magery is a pre-req for poisoning up to GM, but no further investment is required to raise poisoning to 120. Animal Lore does function as a pre-req for taming over 100, but animal lore does something (it affects bandaging amounts as a supplement to veterinary. It's only 20 points invested, but in a limited point scenario even 20 points could be doing something more productive.
  • Solution to improve: Make it work like magery and poisoning: pre-requisite to GM, but once GM you don't need to keep investing in it to raise other bard skills to 120.

Peacemaking
  • Score while leveling: A
  • Score at GM: A
  • Assessment: Single target peacemaking works basically as described which is as a tradeoff that lowers risk and lowers reward. Peaced monsters are significantly safer to fight, but investing 200+ points in Peace will significantly cut a character's DPS output (taking peace and discordance will reclaim 100 points of dps benefit on that though due to a recent patch) The AoE peace is somewhat unreliable (even with high skill, it's very hit & miss), but is useful for rapidly navigating to the bottom of a dungeon where better mobs / loot can be found.

Discordance
  • Score while leveling: A
  • Score at GM: A
  • Assessment: Discordance is a 200+ skill point investment that offers a chance (Difficulty based) for +25% more damage dealt to and 25% less damage taken from the monster that is afflicted. For the bard using the skill, the defensive bonus rises to 50%. Taken together, discordance offers higher PvM defense than parry and resist together, but only against affected targets (not passively) and in a way that doesn't function in pvp, in addition to the damage bump as well. It's a useful skill and benefits a group, but has tradeoffs when considering survivability against pks. Because it is a barding skill, although it affects bosses, it's also not persistent in those fights (where parry and resist are). So it's very good, but situationally.

Provocation
  • Score while leveling: A
  • Score at GM: A
  • Assessment: With the last round of changes, provocation offers a very viable means of killing monsters and hybrids well with other builds.
Parry
  • Score while leveling: A
  • Score at GM: A
  • Assessment: Parry works as described and is a very useful defense skill. The only area that feels lacking is against monster specials (armor crush, fire breath, etc). GM parry does double the AR of a shield compared to 0 parry, but this doesn't feel like a substantial amount of mitigation against special attacks and blacksmithing actually increases total armor rating by a larger degree than parry does.
  • Solution to improve: Similar to the recent change to give a chance to parry spells, give shields a chance to parry any special attack which is mitigated by armor (e.g. parry dragon's breath , but not poison or disease). This skill is very good at GM as it exists now though.
Stealth
  • Score while leveling: A-
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: Stealth combat is effective, but boring. Like archery, PvM stealth templates are about including as little defense as possible in order to maximize offense. It's slower altogether than other templates, but stealth brings a good deal of safety from monsters and players alike. I think it's fine for where it's at (reduced risk for reduced reward).
Animal Taming
  • Score while leveling: A+
  • Score at GM: A+
  • Score at 120: B+
  • Assessment: Taming is generally in a pretty good spot. Pets with very good starting stats can be fairly dominant, but locating such animals for taming takes a while given how randomized the stats are. It doesn't feel like there's a lot of incentive to go past 100 though (the 100+ pets don't feel very different from their sub-100 counterparts). Some of this is due to abilities not functioning properly (for example, the chance for flamestrike to proc when the pet is struck doesn't seem to ever occur. They can be hit repeatedly and never flamestrike).
  • Solutions to improve: Pet abilities should probably go through an ability by ability testing pass to make sure they are all properly activating in the way their descriptions describe, fix the broken ones, and then re-evaluate if any further change is needed.
Herding
  • Score while leveling: A-
  • Score at GM: A
  • Assessment: Works as advertised. The current rate of skill gain is too low (but Luth has this tracked for future correction). This is the best skill point for skill point spent skill for increasing pet DPS (Music/Discordance, Macing/ArmsLore, and Fencing/ArmsLore increase pet DPS as well, but all of those cost twice as many skill points).

Camping
  • Score while leveling: A+
  • Score at GM: A+
  • Assessment: with the recent fixes, camping is a very useful combat skill offering a good bonus, extra carrying capacity, as well as fast travel options.

Evaluate Intelligence

  • Score while leveling: A+
  • Score at GM: A+
  • Assessment: It's a very good skill for a DPS mage, but the impact on magic damage isn't as great as the impact of tactics on melee damage and so there's more possibility to leave this out of a mage build.
Magic Resist
  • Score while leveling: A
  • Score at GM: A
  • Assessment: After the last round of changes, magic resist is the best defensive PvM option for a character that plans to fight a lot of spellcasters (and for a sturdy character, it pairs very well with parry).
Poisoning:
  • Score while leveling on a dexxer: C
  • Score at GM on a dexxer: B
  • Score while leveling on a mage: C
  • Score at GM on a mage: A
  • Assessment: With the recent changes, poisoning is in a better place while leveling. It will still be the case at early levels that monsters often die well before they take worthwhile damage from it, but at higher levels it can increases a character's DPS by more than traditional combat skills would as long as they have the poison running on 2 or 3 mobs (as long as they have Taste ID as well). Although dexxers can deal more poison damage than mages (because of lethal), dexxers have a much harder chance surviving multiple mob fights to get the poison active on them which results in the B score (it's very useful in PvP, but this thread is only considering pvm).
Taste ID:
  • Score while leveling: B
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: Performs as described. Unlike poisoning, this does benefit poisoner characters even at 50 skill (if you're a 50 skill mage, for example, even though you can only cast regular poison, having taste ID will still boost the damage of your poison spell and lower monster's poison resistance).

Spirit Speak

  • Score while leveling: C+
  • Score at GM: A-
  • Assessment: The biggest benefit this skill brings is the extended summon duration. That's a lot of time and mana that doesn't need to be spent bringing summons back to life every 2 minutes. For a naked character, the spell stones only amount to 5% damage gain (10% chance of dealing 50% extra damage is 5% damage gain in average). This is tethered to charged spell proc chance, so having a rank 5 magic spellbook increases spell damage another 12.5% (just from spirit speaking) and having rank 10 eldritch aspect armor raises it another 7.5% (just from spirit speaking). In other words, if you have the best possible gear in the game, this does provide same spell damage increase as other offense skills. If you don't have such gear, it doesn't do much for your spellcasting. While levelling (since you have points to spare), I find taming/lore/vet to be better than using circle 5 summons, but this skill does still benefit them as well.
Inscription
  • Score while leveling: B
  • Score at GM: S+
  • Assessment: Inscription has several benefits that all scale with skill rating in a non-linear fashion (meaning this skill performs adequately while leveling, but really shines once mastered. Note that as a crafting skill this skill is slower to raise and cannot be raised through combat.

Item Identification
  • Score while leveling: ?
  • Score at GM: ?
  • Assessment: I haven't tested this one yet, but my understanding from Luth is that it's intended to be more of a fun gimmick (like tinker traps) than a really viable farming skill. I'll try to remember to hang on to a wand I find when farming and test it out.
 
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#5
Not sure how I missed that.
Regarding fishing, I agree that it's either not working as intended or needs an overhaul because its very underwhelming. I could barely do any damage with the harpoon and just defaulted back to archery instead for my damage.
 
#10
Thans Polly wonderfull bit of collating and research. Any particular reason why you didn't include anatomy?
 
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#12
I'm wondering if people choose alchemy. It appears I'm templates and I'm wondering about it's overall effectiveness compared to say forensic eval
imo:
Forensics & Alchemy are both PvM skills - Forensics gives you a dmg buff, plus extra yield on leathers/feathers when skinning, increasing the speed in which you can acquire wealth... Alchemy provides bonuses to healing with pots (decent in PvM), but also extended timers on str/agi/magic resist potions.. at GM Alchemy, your 2 min pots, last 10 min, which is a huge boon.

even 40 or 60 alchemy is great (4 or 6 min pots) - for those extra buffs, if you can fit it into a build.. Also all skills are generally linear in nature, so there are a lot of 8x builds out there, where you have 3 Gm skills, and 5 @ 80 or varying levels, so fitting in 60 alchemy is very feasible, for a slight damage reduction.. But really only useful on a dexxer.