Anet pulled a very neat trick on us players with the introduction of the Assassin in Factions, because they introduced a new weapon type that cannot be compared to previous weapon types on an apples-for-apples basis.
Why? Because the effective attack speed of daggers varies depending on your rank in Dagger Mastery. The number-crunching is simple enough, once you wrap your head around the variables, but without looking at the way the numbers work out, you can't get a real feel for the relative strength of daggers versus other melee weapons just by looking at the basic weapon stats themselves.
Another factor that makes it difficult to compare melee weapons in the post-Factions world is the fact that Assassin primaries have both an inherent attribute (Critical Strikes) and a specific skill that increase the chance of critical hits, which in turn increased the adjusted damage output of a weapon in ways that aren't easily seen without number crunching. For example, an A/w using an axe can put out significantly more DPS than a W/? with an axe, even if they have identical gear and identical ranks in Axe Mastery.
So this post is an analysis of the true, adjusted relative strength of the melee weapons in the post-Factions world. It can be helpful to anyone considering an Assassin primary, especially the folks wondering whether it is worth it to go with Assassin/Warrior to use non-dagger weapons.
Fact #1 - Dagger DPS is significantly lower than Axe or Sword
For an A/W build, the adjusted DPS of each melee weapon type is as follows, given these assumptions:
- You have 13 ranks in Critical Strikes (which is the optimum value because of the +3 energy regen per crit)
- You are running the Critical Eye skill full-time during battle (which many 'sin primaries will want to do)
- The "DM" values refer to how many ranks in Dagger Mastery you have, of which I've chosen 3 common options
- These DPS values are all *base* weapon values that will be modified heavily by the other factors in the overall damage equation. All things being equal, however, if the same character in the same situation were to swap out these weapons, the relative DPS ratio will be as shown.
To put this damage differential into perspective, The difference between using a Dagger at 12 ranks in Dagger Mastery versus an Axe at any rank in Axe Mastery equates to almost 3 health per second, which is the same as 1.5
Hammer Adjusted DPS: 17.0
Axe Adjusted DPS: 15.7
Sword Adjusted DPS: 14.8
Dagger Adjusted DPS (16 DM): 13.7
Dagger Adjusted DPS (12 DM): 12.9
Dagger Adjusted DPS (9 DM): 12.2
"ticks" of health degen. (Bleeding is 3 ticks, Poision is 4 ticks.) A Hammer at any rank in Hammer mastery, similarly, provides the equivalent of 2 whole ticks of health degen compared to a Dagger at 12 DM. So that A/W using a hammer is constantly putting out 66% of the damage that you put out when using a dagger and constantly laying a bleed skill on your target.
Conclusion: - Anet values the Assassin's superior tactical mobility (teleportation skills), damage mitigation and self-heal skills, and broad spectrum of useful utility skills (especially anti-caster ones) highly enough that they think it's worth giving daggers the lowest DPS of all melee weapons, despite the fact that Assassin's are already dinged by lower AL and no ability to use a shield. Which leads us to Fact #2...
Fact #2 - Assassins are a TACTICAL class; they are not meant to tank, nor are they meant for overall DPS
It's easy to think of Assassins as just another flavor of Warrior. Or as a DPS class. But they have lower weapon DPS than warriors, less armor, and no shield. Instead, what Assassins have in abundance is tactical mobility and more options for shutting down foes. Not killing foes. Assassins are intended to quickly move to specific targets and *hamper* their effectiveness. Assassins are not intended to be DPS spike gods, nor are they intended to be front-line tanks.
There are a few possible builds that *can* do significant spike damage, but these are narrow, specialized builds with significant weaknesses. For example, an A/Me "SOS build" Can use 5 hotkey slots to deliver a 200-point opening spike, followed 12 seconds later by a rapid setup for spamming Repeated Strikes until you run out of energy. This leaves 2 slots for utility or teleport or damage mitigation or rez skills. The 5 skills, btw, and their attack order are: Mantra of Signets > Palm Strike > Blinding Powder > Signet of Shadows > Signet of Shadows > Palm Strike > Repeated Strikes.
It's also possible to build an all-arounder A/Mo or A/R build that can function passably well as a tank and target caller for PvE, and you will do fine (I had no problem in FPE with an A/Mo build that was pure Assassin with only one Monk skill--Rebirth), but you'll never be as strong a tank as a Warrior primary build.
Conclusion: - If you specifically need a tank or a DPS build for your given goals, there are better options than an Assassin primary build. If you enjoy a challenge or you really just prefer the looks and combat animations of an Assassin primary, then you can do alright as a tank or DPS spiker, but you won't excel at it.
Fact #3 - Axe benefits the most from the higher incidence of crits in an A/W build
Fact #4 - An A/W build can put out more weapon DPS than an W/? build or an A/? build
An A/W build can put out more constant weapon-based DPS than a W/? build when using typical warrior melee weapons. For example, if the A/W build has 13 ranks in Critical Strikes (the optimum value because of the +3 energy regen), and is running Critical Eye full-time during battle, then the numbers work out like this:
W/? Build with a base 16% crit chance:
A/W Build with an optimum 35% crit chance:
Hammer Adjusted Base DPS: 16.1
Axe Adjusted Base DPS: 14.1
Sword Adjusted Base DPS: 14.3
Conclusions - If you're a warrior considering whether to switch to an A/W build for the higher critical output, but you plan to keep playing like a warrior (namely, as a tank), you shouldn't bother. The improved DPS on your favorite warrior weapons is not worth the loss of your high AL and your shield.
Hammer Adjusted Opt DPS: 17.0
Axe Adjusted Opt DPS: 15.7
Sword Adjusted Opt DPS: 14.8
However, if you're planning to go Assassin primary for its *tactical* nature, then it's worth considering a Warrior secondary so that you can use Axes or Hammers for even more tactical options, not to mention significantly better overall DPS. You can still use Daggers and the Dagger combos, but you also gain access to the entire world of Axe and Hammer skills and weapons with NO penalty. Just remember that you're not a tank and you need to maintain mobility with your teleport skills and keep a slot or two for damage mitigation skills to make up for your lack of armor.
Fact #5 - Daggers will generate more energy over time than other weapons
The Assassin's Critical Strike skill generates energy for crits the same way regardless of what weapon is being used. However, since Daggers are effectively faster weapons than swords, axes, or hammers, you'll generate more energy over time if you're using Daggers.
Conclusion - If you rely on many energy-hungry skills, you might consider using Daggers just to eke out that much more energy during a fight. When you consider that you typically generate +4 energy with each critical strike, this is not an insigificant factor if energy regen is your weakest link.
One note I'll make is that in terms of utility, swords don't do much that daggers can't also do. Swords are known mostly for bleed effects, but Dagger Mastery also provides a cheap bleed effect that is a useful combo starter. In most cases, as an A/W your choice will be between daggers, axes, or hammers.
I'll also note that even though dagger damage is relatively low compared to the other melee weapons, it is still very respectable and an Assassin primary with some other secondary besides Warrior is STILL a serious damage dealer. I played FPE with an A/Mo that had no points in Monk attributes, and only one Monk skill on the toolbar (Rebirth). I only had 9 ranks in Dagger Mastery for most of my builds too. And I still tore up foes and played like a tank in PvE quests with a mostly-henchman party (and my wife as the only other PC), charging in first, calling targets, and taking most of the alpha strikes from new groups of foes.
You are QUITE survivable as a pure Assassin even when charging in first, because you have so many nice self-healing, damage mitigation, and teleport tactics available to you. So my advice regarding your secondary class if you want to play an assassin primary is:
A. If you solo or duo with one partner (with the rest of the group composed of henchment) and your focus is mostly PvE exploration and questing, then go with a Monk or Ritualist secondary, don't waste any attribute points on Monk or Ritualist attributes, and just keep one reusable rez (Rebirth or Flesh of My Flesh) on your toolbar. You'll still rock as a meleer, but you'll be able to recover the team from the many deaths than tend to occur during PvE missions.
B. If your focus is mostly PvE but you regularly team with large groups of real players so you don't need a repeatable rez, then go with an A/W build if you enjoy having many options for tactical melee fighting. You'll be able to use every melee weapon and its associated skills as suits your mood.
C. If your focus is mostly PvP, look for any secondary that gives you nice spike combos and still leaves room for some shadow-stepping tactical skills. For example, A/Me is particularly nice with Mantra of Signets > Palm Strike > Blinding Powder > Signet of Shadows > Signet of Shadows for a 200-point opening damage spike, which you can follow 12 seconds later with Palm Strike > Repeated Strike and just keep spamming Repeated Strike till you run out of energy or Repeated Strike finally misses. This leaves you two slots for nice Assassin utility skills.
OTHER USEFUL INFO AND DERIVATIONS
- Axes, Swords, and Daggers are all 1.33 strikes per second base weapon speed. Hammers are 1.75 strikes per second base weapon speed.
- Dagger Mastery gives 2% chance for an attack to swing twice per each rank in Dagger Mastery. At 12 ranks of Dagger Mastery, this is a 24% chance to swing twice. At 16 ranks, it's a 32% chance. This effectively increases the speed of daggers.
- ADJUSTED Dagger weapon speed is therefore 1.13 strikes per second at 9 ranks in Dagger Mastery, 1.07 strikes per second at 12 ranks in Dagger Mastery, and 1.00 strikes per second at 16 ranks in Dagger Mastery. ( [1.33 / 1.18], [1.33 / 1.24], and [1.33 / 1.32], respectively )
- Base damage per strike for all weapon types is calculated the same way.
- The base weapon damage number used in damage calculations is ALWAYS a random value from the weapon's listed damage range. (You do not use higher values from the range as your corresponding weapon skill increases; instead, your damage is greater because of the relative level of your weapon skill versus the target's AL and other defensive attributes.)
- At 12 ranks of the corresponding weapon skill, base crit chance is roughly 16%.
- At 13 ranks of Critical Strikes (optimum +3 energy threshold), additional crit chance is +13%.
- With Critical Eye running (optimal for many reasons), additional crit chance is another +6%.
- Optimum chance of any strike being a critical strike in most A/? or A/W builds with 13 Critical Strikes is therefore 35%.
- Critical hits always use the maximum value of the weapon's damage range and the target's AL is reduced by 20; other than those two exceptions, critical damage is calculated like normal damage. (So crits do not ignore armor
or ignore relative attack/defense levels, etc. as they do in other MMOGs.)
Using the preceding facts, we can derive the following relative damage stats and comparisons, which are based on the weapon stats alone. Actual damage will of course depend on your weapon skill level versus the foe's AL and other defensive attributes, per the full damage formula that's been explained elsewhere. Remember that we are focusing only on *base* damage comparisons of the weapons themselves, when their relative weapon speeds are factored in:
Hammer Damage Range: 19-35
Hammer Median Base Damage: 27 ( 19 + [[35 - 19] / 2] )
Hammer Average DPS: 15.4 ( 27 / 1.75 )
Hammer Crit Base Value: 35
Hammer Optimum Crit Chance: 35%
Hammer Adjusted Opt DPS: 17.0 ( [[27 * .65] + [35 * .35]] / 1.75 )
Hammer Adjusted Base DPS: 16.1 ( [[27 * .84] + [35 * .16]] / 1.75 )
Axe Damage Range: 6-28
Axe Median Base Damage: 17 ( 6 + [[28 - 6] / 2] )
Axe Average DPS: 12.8 ( 17 / 1.33 )
Axe Crit Base Value: 28
Axe Optimum Crit Chance: 35%
Axe Adjusted Opt DPS: 15.7 ( [[17 * .65] + [28 * .35]] / 1.33 )
Axe Adjusted Base DPS: 14.1 ( [[17 * .84] + [28 * .16]] / 1.33 )
Sword Damage Range: 15-22
Sword Median Base Damage: 18.5 ( 15 + [[22 - 15] / 2] )
Sword Average DPS: 13.9 ( 18.5 / 1.33 )
Sword Crit Base Value: 22
Sword Optimum Crit Chance: 35%
Sword Adjusted Opt DPS: 14.8 ( [[18.5 * .65] + [22 * .35]] / 1.33 )
Sword Adjusted Base DPS: 14.3 ( [[18.5 * .84] + [22 * .16]] / 1.33 )
Dagger Damage Range: 7-17
Dagger Median Base Damage: 12 ( 7 + [[17 - 7] / 2] )
Dagger Average DPS (12 DM): 11.2 ( 12 / 1.07 )
Dagger Crit Base Value: 17
Dagger Optimum Crit Chance: 35%
Dagger Adjusted DPS (9 DM): 12.2 ( [[12 * .65] + [17 * .35]] / 1.13 )
Dagger Adjusted DPS (12 DM): 12.9 ( [[12 * .65] + [17 * .35]] / 1.07 )
Dagger Adjusted DPS (16 DM): 13.7 ( [[12 * .65] + [17 * .35]] / 1.00 )