(Part 1 of 3)
Before the introduction of the Assassin class in GW:Prophecies, comparing the base damage per second (DPS) of the available melee and bow weapons was fairly straightforward. With the introduction of daggers and the Assassin class, however, comparing base weapon DPS becomes much less intuitive because of the following factors:
- Base weapon DPS depends on the weapon speed, the weapon’s listed damage range, inherent EAL adjustments such as the 10% base AP for horn bows, the percent chance of crits, and the -20 AL GSM for crits.
- Daggers, unlike other weapons, do not have one single speed. Instead, the speed varies depending on your ranks in Dagger Master, ranging from 1.33 seconds per attack at 0 ranks to 1.00 seconds per attack at 16 ranks in Dagger Mastery.
- If you are an Assassin primary, the percentage chance of a critical hit (a “crit”) for all weapons is no longer dependent solely on your ranks in the corresponding weapon skill. It is now also affected by your ranks in Critical Strikes, and also by the “Critical Eye” skill.
The facts and derivations used in this FAQ are based on the following sources:
Also, I want to give thanks to Arredondo, BLAHHH, Bobross, Bravo, kate sullivan, ShadowKntSDS, Syes, TooBadUnknown, Viri, and zampani for their comments and explanations in my previous two versions of the Dagger FAQ (and related threads).
Corrected Info in this Version of the FAQ
- I’ve replaced the Tables 4-6 in V3 of the FAQ with a single Table 4. In the previous FAQ, I overlooked two important details when calculating DPS for weapon mastery 16:
- I didn’t adjust the median damage for a 68 baseline.
- I overlooked the obvious fact that a NON-Assassin primary could not possibly get 34% or 40% crit chance because they wouldn’t have access to the Critical Strikes attribute.
- I overlooked the obvious fact that an Assassin primary could not possibly achieve 16 ranks in weapon mastery for axes, swords, hammers, and bows.
- Based on the revised DPS tables, I also revised my previous conclusions about relative DPS between Assassin, Ranger, and Warrior primaries.
- In the section on Dagger Speed, I’ve clarified the relationship of base “attack” speed to effective dagger speed and added a description of how IAS skills like Frenzy affect dagger speed.
- In the section on Energy Regen, I’ve added a note that explains how the Critical Strike dual attack skill does indeed give you 2x the energy bonus for crits. I’ve also clarified the exact ranks in Critical Strikes at which you get the +1, +2, or +3 energy bonus.
- I’ve made other miscellaneous clarifications here and there.
The Auto-Attack DPS Tables
The following tables show the sustained auto-attack DPS for all the melee/ranged weapons with various common attribute values. These DPS values are derived from the base weapon-specific factors in the total Damage Formula, which looks like this (I’m using Deford’s corrected version of SonOfRah’s formula):
Received Damage = (Victim’s Damage Enhancement) x [[(Attacker’s Damage Enhancement) x (Base Damage) x (Armor Modifier)] + (Bonus Damage)]
By weapon-specific factors, I mean the (Base Damage) portion of the formula, coupled with part of the (Armor Modifier) part of the formula. In particular, the (Armor Modifier) contains bits that relate to the -20 AL GSM modifier for critical hits, and also contains bits that relate to the effect of base AP% from Strength and for horn bows.
All of the other factors in the total damage formula will adjust this [b]base[/s] DPS value up or down. For example, a customized weapon (+20% damage enhancement) that also has the +15% damage enhancement when above 50% health both factor into the Attacker’s Damage Enhancement portion of the formula, so all other things being equal, you would increase any of my base DPS numbers by a flat +38% if you had these two mods on your weapon. That’s just one simple example. Regardless, the point is that the numbers I give are based on the weapon-specific factors that DO NOT CHANGE, so they are the best basis for comparison.
TIP: Since most people PvP with a customized 15/50 weapon, you can multiply each of the following DPS values by 1.38 to determine what the auto-attack DPS would be if you are wielding a customized 15/50 weapon.
The first three tables are based on these assumptions:
- 12 ranks in the corresponding weapon mastery skill. This what many will consider the optimum value, because even though Dagger speed continues to increase at 13 ranks and higher (thereby proportionally increasing DPS relative to other weapons), the improvements to the Baseline portion of the (Armor Modifier) are only 2 per rank instead of 5 per rank) AND you have less attribute points to spend in other useful areas. I will show a 5th table in a following section that compares the DPS at 16 ranks of weapon mastery.
- 13 ranks in Critical Strikes (for Assassin primaries). This is the optimum value due both to maximizing crit potential, but also to getting +3 energy back per crit because Assassin is an energy-hungry class.
Table 1: Base Weapon DPS for Assassin primaries, WITH Critical Eye running full-time (35% crit chance)
Table 2: Base Weapon DPS for Assassin primaries, WITHOUT Critical Eye (29% crit chance)
Hammer Base DPS: 19.8
Axe Base DPS: 18.8
Sword Base DPS: 17.2
Dagger Base DPS: 15.1
Short/Flat Bow Base DPS: 14.0
Horn Bow Base DPS: 11.5
Long/Composite Bow Base DPS: 11.2
Table 3: Base Weapon DPS for non-Assassin primaries with NO Critical Strikes attribute (16% crit chance)
Hammer Base DPS: 19.1
Axe Base DPS: 17.8
Sword Base DPS: 16.6
Dagger Base DPS: 14.5
Short/Flat Bow Base DPS: 13.4
Horn Bow Base DPS: 11.0
Long/Composite Bow Base DPS: 10.7
The next three tables are for builds with 16 ranks in the relative weapon Mastery and 13 ranks in Critical Strikes. This is the optimum combination of attributes for a pure DPS dagger-based Assassin primary, because the additional 4 ranks in Dagger Mastery not only increases your Baseline and your chance of crits, but also increases the weapon speed of Daggers even more than 12 ranks, which increases the DPS for daggers proportionally more than for all other weapons. However, note that this leaves you with only 4 attribute points left over for other useful attributes, so this is a highly specialized build without much flexibility.
Hammer Base DPS: 17.4
Axe Base DPS: 15.5
Sword Base DPS: 15.4
Dagger Base DPS: 13.0
Short/Flat Bow Base DPS: 12.2
Horn Bow Base DPS: 10.1
Long/Composite Bow Base DPS: 9.8
Table 4: Table 4: Base Weapon DPS for 16 ranks in weapon mastery
** Note: Hammer, Axe, and Sword values are possible ONLY for Warrior primaries. Dagger values are possible ONLY for Assassin primaries. Bow values are possible ONLY for Ranger primaries.
** Note: only Assassins can hit 40% crit rate or 34% crit rate. Non-assassins have no access to Critical Strikes and Critical Eye.
One final note about relative DPS among the weapons. In general, faster weapons yield more reliable DPS in a short fight. In the time it takes to attack 3 times with a hammer, for example, your typical dagger-based Assassin primary can swing 5 times. If the Assassin gets blocked or evaded 20% of the time, that’s one attack that doesn’t connect. If the hammer user gets blocked or evaded 20% of the time, that’s one hammer attack that doesn’t connect, so the hammer user loses 33% of their damage, while the dagger user loses only 20% of their damage. Many other MMOGs have proved time and again that two weapons might have similar DPS when you do the math, but the faster weapon of the two is always the better choice.
Hammer Base DPS (21% crit): 20.8
Dagger Base DPS (40% crit): 19.5
Axe Base DPS (21% crit): 18.7
Dagger Base DPS (34% crit): 18.6
Sword Base DPS (21% crit): 18.3
Dagger Base DPS (21% crit): 16.8
Short/Flat Bow Base DPS (21% crit): 14.5
Horn Bow Base DPS (21% crit): 11.8
Long/Composite Bow Base DPS (21% crit): 11.6
This basic fact is mitigated somewhat by Guild Wars’ implementation of attack skills, but it’s still something to consider if you’re on the fence regarding, say, a decision between daggers and swords (both of which have very similar DPS values). A dagger is significantly faster than a sword at typical values for Dagger Mastery.
Why Strength Is Not Applicable to DPS Comparisons
In version 2 of this FAQ, I included tables that showed DPS values for Warrior primaries with 10 ranks in Strength. This was a poor choice because the 10% AP of Strength is applied only to attack skills, not to normal auto-attack damage. Therefore, trying to compare DPS over time for Warriors with Strength is a bad comparison; apples to oranges. Trying to calculate an improvement in overall damage output due to Strength is a tedious proposition.
As a rule of thumb, however, you can safely assume that running a Warrior with 10 ranks in Strength would add relatively little to the overall auto-attack DPS for a 16% critical chance (for 12 ranks in the corresponding weapon mastery) or for a 21% critical chance (for 16 ranks in weapon mastery). The overall DPS that 10 Strength will buy you certainly falls somewhere below the halfway mark between the auto-attack DPS values for 16% and 29% crit chance (for 12 ranks in mastery) or below the halfway mark between the auto-attack DPS values for 21% and 34% crit chance (for 16 ranks in mastery).
Understanding Dagger Mastery and Dagger Speed
The Dagger Mastery attribute works like all other weapon mastery attributes in that it affects your Baseline portion of the Armor Modifier:
- 12 ranks at character level 20 gives you a Baseline of 60. This is optimal.
- For each rank below or equal to ((CharLevel / 2) + 2), add 5 to the Baseline.
- For each rank above ((CharLevel /2) + 2), add 2 to the Baseline.
Dagger Mastery also works like all other weapon masteries in that it partiallyaffects your base chance to score a critical hit, to the tune of 1 + (1.25 x Attribute). Some examples:
- 16% at 12 ranks (1+[1.25 x 12] = 16)
- 12% at 9 ranks (1+[1.25 x 9] = 12.25)
- 21% at 16 ranks (1+[1.25 x 16] = 21)
The other factor to consider with crit chance % is the relative level of you versus your opponent. If you are exactly the same level, the preceding numbers apply, but if you above or below your opponent’s level, the preceding numbers double or halve every 5 levels in difference, as follows:
- For every 5 levels you are above your opponent, your crit chance doubles. For example, if you are level 20, with 12 ranks in your weapon mastery, and your opponent is level 15, your base crit chance is 32%. If your opponent is level 10, your base crit chance is 64%, etc.
- For every 5 levels you are below your opponent, your crit chance halves. For example, if you are level 15, with 12 ranks in weapon mastery, and your opponent is 20, your crit chance is 8%.
Where Dagger Mastery does not work like the other weapon masteries is that it also affects the effective speed of your Daggers. The base Dagger speed (the “attack speed”) is the same as swords and axes (1.33 seconds per attack). But for each rank of Dagger Mastery, you also get a 2% chance to strike twice in one attack. If you have 12 ranks in Dagger Mastery, you have a 24% chance on any given attack to strike twice. On average, then, every 100 attacks will yield 124 strikes, which equates to a 24% increase in effective weapon speed.
So a simple formula for determining your effective dagger speed is this:
Dagger Speed = base speed / [1 + (Attribute x .02)]
Some examples, assuming a base speed of 1.33:
- 9 ranks in Dagger Mastery = 1.13 seconds per attack (1.33 / 1.18)
- 12 ranks in Dagger Mastery = 1.07 seconds per attack (1.33 / 1.24)
- 16 ranks in Dagger Mastery = 1.00 seconds per attack (1.33 / 1.32)
Now, before you walk away thinking “with a Dagger speed of 1.00 I’ll be more effective at interrupts”, remember that the base “attack speed” or “swing speed” of a dagger is still 1.33 seconds, just like swords and axes. Keep this in mind when planning a build—your dagger will not actually be attacking once every 1.07 or 1.00 seconds.
NOTE: At this time (pre-Factions), it is not known precisely what happens when a double-strike occurs. One possibility is that you actually “attack” just once at base speed of 1.33 and the two “damage rolls” are just applied at the beginning of the 1.33-second attack interval. So your attack speed never varies from 1.33-second intervals. A second possibility, however, is that when a double-strike occurs, the normal attack interval of 1.33 seconds actually becomes two separate attacks, each taking half of that normal base interval. If this is the case, it fundamentally affects your chance of interrupting the target during a double-strike, because you might be making two separate attacks in that 1.33 second interval. We will not be able to determine which is the case until after Factions comes out.
Why is knowing the effective speed of your dagger important? One obvious reason is that it affects your overall DPS, with faster speeds meaning more DPS than slower speeds. This is why daggers benefit more from ranks 13 – 16 in mastery than all other weapons do.
One point of confusion is how IAS skills like Frenzy are applied to Dagger speed. You must always apply the IAS skill to the base speed (1.33). The resulting new base speed is then used in the preceding formula to calculate your new effective speed.
A less obvious reason is that dagger speed also affects the rate at which you regen energy from your Critical Strikes attribute and from your Critical Eye skill. Which leads us to the next section…