When it comes to glyphs, contingency theory reigns supreme

Glyphs, TSW Builds

Contingency Theory and Glyph Selection

In a recent pair of essays, I talked about the importance of talisman.  Respectively, I have addressed the importance of keeping your talisman skill up to par as well as focusing on the relevance of mixing your talisman factors (health, attack power and healing)based on your role and needs.  Those two essays covered a large portion of the gearing decisions in TSW, which is important because in TSW your gear (and skill with your gear) determine your statistics.  This essay was to have been the third and final of the series, focusing on glyphs and signets.  However, it became apparent fairly quickly that the length necessitated splitting it into two parts.  Part 3-1 (this one) is glyphs, Part 3-2 on signets will be coming soon.

Gear is more than just attack power, healing and hit points.  From the earliest gear drop in TSW, you are exposed to nine secondary attributes.  These include offensive attributes like hit, penetrate, critical rating and critical power.  They also include defensive ratings like evade, defense, block, physical protection and magical protection.  Each of these attributes has a corresponding glyph.  While some gear contains fixed allocations of these attributes, much of the gear in TSW is customizable via the glyph and signet system.

Understanding what is possible and tailoring your gear to your build can easily be the difference between a high performing build and a build which feels broken.  For example, one of our Blue Mountain builds works off a synergy which guarantees penetrates on the primary consumer.  In such a build, additional penetrate attributes simply don’t pay out a lot of benefit.  Rather, that build needs enough hit to never glance (guaranteed penetrates can be glancing penetrates) and after that, it really benefits from some additional crit rating and crit power.  Another one of our builds generates a lot of critical power, if you lack the critical rating to take advantage of that power, it becomes a bit useless.

Glyphs and Attribute Allocation

Glyph capable gear is customizable gear.  Even if a glyph is already in it, you can overwrite it with a crafted glyph.  Glyphs can be crafted using glyph toolkits, blue and higher quality kits become available in TSW dungeons.  Crafted glyphs have a maximum value based on the quality level and echelon (green, blue or purple) of the glyph.  That value is then quantified when applied to a weapon or talisman.

The approximate weight for glyphs follows the talisman model, but remember your weapon can be glyphed too.  In the table below, I outline the weights and the point values for crafted glyphs based on Q10 Blue crafting kits.  Remember, you have three major talisman slots and three minor talisman slots.  Also, while you do have two weapons, the game only uses the value of your most recently used active weapon when determining your active glyphs.  So, effectively, you only have one weapon glyph in use at any specific time.

Item Slot
Q10 -Blue

Based on this, a player in full Q10 Blue gear has about 790 attribute points that can be allocated across the nine possible attributes.  The question becomes just how much should you spend on any given attribute?  The answer, as with many things in TSW, turns into a giant “it depends.”  Relationships between attributes are depicted in the table below.

What it does
Offset by
Critical Rating
Increases your chance to score a critical hit
Evade and Defense of your opponent
Critical Power
Increases the output of your successful critical hits/heals
Failing to crit
Increases your chance to score a penetrating hit
The Block value of your opponent
Increases your chance to hit the opponent
Defense and evade of your opponent
Increases your chance to block an opponent
Penetrate of your opponent
Increases the chance your opponents hits will be glancing
Hit rating of your opponent
Increases your chance to completely avoid an opponent attack
Hit rating of your opponent
Magical Protection
Reduces damage from magical sources
Physical or Filth damage
Physical Protection
Reduces damage from physical sources
Magical or Filth damage

As you can see, every attribute in TSW is relative to your opponent.  This makes theory crafting for optimal attribute allocation an encounter contingent exercise.  Some target thresholds seem to be evident though.  Feedback in the beta suggested that many attributes capped out in use in the 400-450 range, but that’s largely fed from elite dungeon experiences.  The current theory from nightmares sounds like 600+ is more the target.

 Tanks and Glyphs

Early theory crafting on tanking determined that payouts for different attributes accumulate at different rates.  Evade advances about half as fast as Block,Defense is in the middle.  However, because evade is 100%, evade turns out to have an absolute advantage if you focus solely on “normal” damage output.  Once you factor in the full values of skills for weapon trees that augment evade, defense and block, evade has about a 10% advantage over block and about a 3% advantage over defense if everything is a normal attack or a countered defense.

The gap between defense and evade seems to drop off a good bit if you face an opponent who has high +hit (negates evade) and high base damage (the spikey factor of the lost evades becomes a liability).  None the less, evade and defense outweigh block in any normal damage distribution.

This conception always bugged me because damage from bosses is hardly ever normal (e.g. zombies in Kingsmouth are not nightmare bosses).  In the bit of parsing I had posted, it was pretty clear that some bosses (even in normal and elite) penetrate a super-normal amount and critical hardly ever.

In those cases, evade underperforms.  Yes, you evade a certain percentage of attacks that might have been penetrates, but you pass through a lot of penetrates too.  In those cases, a block load is more advantageous.  Actual blocks pay off less than evades, but Pen-Negates add to the value of actual blocks.  In other cases, where crits are in play, block is really unimportant, but evade and defense become even more important than normal.

So, glyphing in TSW is highly contingent.  Fortunately, at least for now, the early dungeons seem to stack in a single direction.  If one boss in the dungeon has a high penetrate, several will, and few if any will critical.  The opposite will probably be true in other dungeons.

We may find that later nightmares will alternate, causing players to need a couple of gear sets and swap on the fly.  I highly expect the raid environment to throw multiple types of problems at the team simultaneously, perhaps requiring a block tank and a defense tank in the same encounter (or in different stages of the same encounter).

But I like to pew-pew

For offensive players, hit is your single most important glyph.  If your hit is low, the opponent evades and your successful attacks glance.  Nearly every passive in the game fails on a glance as well, meaning your build can quickly lose half its attributes on a glance.  It seems like 600 is a magic number for eliminating enemy glances, but this is barely feasible on a Q10 Blue item budget.  If you push for 600 hit from item attributes, you are going to have 190 points left over for critical rating/power or penetrate.

You might therefore choose to offset some of your point deficiency through passive abilities.  Abilities that either stack +hit or give a flat reduction in glance chance are desirable in your newbie Nightmare builds.  As your attribute allocation advances via gear upgrades, these passive and active abilities become less necessary.

You can also fix some of this deficiency via anima potions.  Using a Q10 Anima Hit Rating gives you +100 hit for 60 minutes, increasing your attribute allocation cap for other directions.

Please note, I am aware that some people are reporting ZERO HIT SCORES with a high penetrate build produces zero glances.  If this is true, it is almost certainly a bug and I would expect to see it fixed at some point.  Please note, if this happens it is not swinging the nerfbat on Fever Pitch, it’s a fix on +hit.

After you finish off your hit target, you have to decide whether you are looking for critical or penetrates.  Here, as with tanks, the answer is contingent on your build AND your opponent.  Most people realize the former, but forget the latter.  A boss with high defense and evade might negate your ability to critical, but such a boss is nearly always vulnerable to penetrates.  A penetrate build/gear load out will find the fight far easier.  The converse is also true.  A boss who blocks like mad will negate a penetrate build, but that boss is likely to be vulnerable to crits.

Right now, the answer seems to be penetrate for early nightmares.  I expect future nightmares will feature criticals.  It’s also likely that we will see paired penetrate/crit encounters in raids.  For example, one that requires you to split your DPS between two or more targets, each with unique vulnerabilities.

Yes, Funcom, I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of crazy under the hood mechanics (along with the typical gimmicks and scripted moments) you guys can throw at us in raids.  The TSW system leaves the door open for some creative encounter design, the likes of which we haven’t seen in MMO’s.

Healers, is there a doctor in the house?

Healers have an interesting dilemma in gearing decisions.  Depending on their build, +hit could be important (AR healing) or it could be completely irrelevant.  Additionally, you can’t really penetrate on a heal, so that attribute is out.  So, for healers critical rating and critical power become the important attributes.

However, your target (a player) will never “evade” your heals (well, line of sight, but that doesn’t count), so you will likely actually see diminishing returns on critical rating.  I do not know where that number kicks in, but it is one to find and be aware of.  Once you hit critical rating diminishing returns, critical power become your most important attribute.  Getting a lot of crits without a big payout is a bit useless.  To this end, balancing them in attribute selection is probably a good rule of thumb.

If it turns out that there is a theoretical max effective value for critical rating and critical power, the healer would then have to decide what is next in line for attributes.  Assuming that they don’t need +hit, tank attributes become a candidate.  Encounter specific +block (for penetrate fights), +defense (for critical fights) or +evade (for normal damage) might be a useful alternate.  Hopefully, as a healer, you aren’t being hit often enough to prioritize these attributes, but they do become candidates if you are over caps.

Quick Rules of Thumb

  1. Hit is always important (except for healers) until you reach the 0-glance threshold
  2. Offensive and Defensive attributes (and builds) should be prioritized based on specifics of the encounter
  3. Heal attributes should be allocated based on caps and diminishing returns
  4. You will eventually want multiple sets of gear for each role
  5. Doing a little bit of everything is probably going to be negated by a bosses caps
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