I decided to make a thread that contains everything that I've written before on bows, all in a single thread. That way, I can just refer people to this thread when they ask questions. Without further ado:
"Everything you wanted to know about Bows, but were afraid to ask"
Last updated on July 14, 2006
The two basic values of a bow are its damage and requirement. The damage listed is the base damage (maximum of 15-28) that you will do if your baseline value equals your opponent's armor (further discussed in section C). The higher the base damage range, the better the bow is.
The requirement is listed next to the base damage and tells you how much Marksmanship you need to wield the bow at its base damage range. If you wield a bow with less Marksmanship than what is listed on the bow, then it does approximately as much damage as a bow of the same type dropped by a Level 5 enemy (this hidden damage range varies, just like the damage ranges of bows dropped by Level 5 enemies). While this may seem a bit confusing, just remember that your bow will do drastically less damage (typically a third or half damage) if you don't meet the requirement.
Note that you don't get any more damage out of a bow by exceeding its requirement, other than the usual higher damage from having a higher baseline. In other words, if you have two 15-28 damage bows, one with a requirement of 8 and the other with a requirement of 11, your damage for both bows will be identical as long as you have a Marksmanship of 11 or greater. At a Marksmanship of 10, the requirement 8 bow will do more damage simply because you don't meet the requirement of the requirement 11 Bow.
In general, there are 5 different "classes" of bows. Each bow class differs in the following characteristics:
* Refire Rate
* Arc Size
* Armor Penetration (special)
The 5 classes of bows are:
* Flatbow - includes some Ascalon Bows, Flatbows, and the Ithas Bow
* Longbow - includes some Ascalon Bows, Longbows, and Storm Bows
* Horn Bow - includes some Ascalon Bows, Horn Bow, Ivory Bows, and Shadow Bows
* Composite Bow - includes some Ascalon Bows, Composite Bows, Dead Bows, Recurve Bow, and Eternal Bows
* Short Bow - includes some Ascalon Bows, Half Moon Bows, and Short Bows.
Special Note on Ascalon Bows - Ascalon Bows given by the collectors tend to imitate one of the above bow classes. The appearance of the bow remains as a Flatbow/Longbow, but it can be either a Flatbow, a Long bow, a Composite Bow, or a Short bow as far as range, arrow speed, and rate of fire. You'll have to experiment to find out which one it is.
UPDATE: As of the July 13 2006 update, you can now see what kind of Ascalon bow type you have in the name of the bow. Very cool!
Most bows can be lumped into three categories of ranges:
* Short range - Just within the "Aggro circle" on the Radar. The only bow class with this range is the Short Bow class.
* Medium range - Up to "Casting Range", which is just beyond the "Aggro circle" on the Radar. The Horn Bow and Composite Bow classes dwell in this range.
* Long range - Up to 1.5 times the distance of the "Aggro Circle" on the Radar. The Longbow and Flatbow classes are in this range.
The first shot that you fire from a bow will always be 2.0 seconds in duration. However, after that initial shot, the rate of refire differs between the bow classes. There are generally 3 rates of refire:
* Fast - approximately 2.0 seconds between shots. The Short Bow and Flatbow classes have the Fast refire rate.
* Medium - approximately 2.5 seconds between shots. The Longbow and Composite Bow classes have the Medium refire rate.
* Slow - approximately 2.7 seconds between shots. The Horn Bow class has the slow refire rate.
Arc size determines both Arrow Speed (how fast an arrow takes to hit its target) and accuracy (leeway of the target dodging shots)
* High arc - Flatbows have the highest arc out of all of the bow classes.
* Normal arc - Horn Bows, Longbows, and Short Bows all have a normal arc. Note that because a Shortbow has such a small range, the Normal Arc doesn't really have much of an appreciable effect on arrow speed.
* Low arc - The Composite Bow class has the lowest Arc, and thus has the shortest time to target and fastest arrow speed, making Composite Bows the most accurate bow class.
Called Shot, Favorable Winds, Quick Shot (Elite), and Read the Wind will make the Arc size approximately the same as the Low arc of a Composite Bow.
The Horn Bow class appears to have a base 10% Armor Penetration, according to a few sources. This compensates for its slightly slower attack speed.
What's the "best bow"?
There's no such thing as the "best bow". Each bow class has strengths and weaknesses. Short bows are great for overall damage, but are lacking in Range. Flatbows can also deal a similar amount of damage, but they are inaccurate at long range. Longbows are slow, but have a long range and normal arc. Composite bows are guaranteed to hit, but are merely average in other stats. Horn Bows do the most damage per single shot, but have the slowest refire rate of all the bows. My advice? Use a long range bow for pulling/luring, a short range bow for close combat, and a composite bow for interrupting.