Welcome to my signature guide! I have spent many hours on this, so I hope that you find this useful.
I hope that if you do meet somebody who has been struggling in the upper levels, that you direct them to this guide (assuming that they are willing to listen to feedback).
Note: This guide is still under construction. Updates will be made with time.
To begin with, I've been meaning to write this for quite some time. With so many of the "oldies" recently quitting, heading to O&C, and among the ones that have stayed, reducing the amount of the time that they play, I think that there is something of a gaping hole in the community. Furthermore, the quality of PUGs I have found is at times distressingly poor. Power levelling certainly deserves a lot of blame, but there seems to be a general ignorance of game mechanics.
The purpose of this guide is to help players at the higher levels - Alien Oasis III and beyond. The assumption is that you have a level 45+ character and are reasonably acquainted with it. Why? Well, up until Alien Oasis, things have been not too difficult. There's plenty of room for error. In Forest Haven, the Dark Forest, the Crypt, Lost Expedition, Skeller, and the Swamps (the elite Sandstone and Frozen Nightmare being the exceptions), you could pretty much play casual and do reasonably well. Then all of a sudden in Alien Oasis, you find yourself against these blue alien guys who can pretty much kill you in one volley. The difficulty level has been upped and it isn't going down.
Throughout this guide, I will be describing the different classes, the builds, and how to interact with them. This is strictly a PvE guide - as I do not consider myself to be particularly good at PvP. Bear in mind that this is by no means intended to be a comprehensive guide and should not be your only source.
Your typical character will look something like this:
On the left, you see your attributes. Going left to right, there is a picture of yourself, and a lot of stats. I don't recommend that you judge a player by their stats. It's very unreliable and can easily be falsified. That said, usually when players hide their stats, it is usually cause for concern. The exception being their attributes on the left (a common practice for PvPers, who seem to dislike people copying their builds; I never cared too much myself for it as you can copy a person's build but not their skills).
Attributes are what makes up your statistics. They decide how effective your character is going to be. All builds that you make are a matter of compromises. They key to building a good character is to build one that adapts to your playstyle, that emphasizes your strengths, and makes sacrifices that you don't mind losing.
It's important to remember that the game rounds things, so the numbers given here may not be 100% accurate. I'm looking for a common pattern, but sometimes it rounds up and sometimes rounds down. What I know for sure is that it isn't to the 5th decimal place and above is rounded up.
- The first 3 statistics, str, dex, and int are the amount of points that you have in these attributes. Mostly they are the points that you've spent, but equipment usually does boost them a bit.
- Hit % is the accuracy of your attacks. There is a hit cap of about 86% (it's possible for this reason for birds with their 100%+ hit to miss) for weapons. Having a low hit means that only a small proportion of your attacks will hit their intended targets. Skill damage though is capped at the full 100%, so it is useful to have at least 100% hit; more if you PvP as debuffs to hit% are not uncommon.
- Crit % is the probability that when you hit, that you will have a critical hit, which does double damage. All 3 classes have a buff that increases crit and many types of equipment also increase crit.
Note: Crit damage = 2 x (Your damage - enemy armour)
- Dodge % is the probability that when the target does not miss, that you will "dodge" the target. Evade and some equipment buffs dodge. The implication of this, by the way, is that your actual accuracy is (your hit % - enemy dodge %).
- Health is the amount of hp that you have. Every time you get a hit that did not miss and you didn't dodge, an amount subtracted by your armour is taken off. If you have the misfortune of receiving a crit, twice that amount is taken off.
- H/S: The natural regeneration of your health reserves.
- Mana reserves. The amount of mana you have for using skills. Each time you use a skill, the mana cost is taken off this. For mages, mana reserves are like a second hp bar when the mana shield is up. Each time you take a hit, instead of having the hp bar subtracted, the mana reserves are taken off.
- M/S: How much you regenerate mana each second naturally. It's possible to have a mana regen rate higher than if you constantly spam spells. In that case, you'll never have to worry about mana again (except for mages when they use mana shield).
- Damage: The amount of damage that you do per hit. This will be a range. Some weapons will have a bigger range than others.
- Damage per second: People tend to overvalue this. Basically, it's damage / weapon speed. What it is, is a "potential" maximum damage, assuming that you fully debuffed the enemy's armour. I don't recommend that this be a major deciding factor and that damage per hit is more important, especially with enemies with high armour (bosses). It may however, make sense to use a high DPS weapon for farming lower levels.
- Weapon speed: Appears to be rounded up. How many seconds each time your weapon strikes. High DPS weapons generally have a low damage per hit but are really fast (ex: daggers and dual wielding). 2h weapons are generally slower, but do more damage per hit.
- Armor: How much armor you have, which relates to how much damage you will take when you do not dodge. Damage sustained = damage of enemy hit - your armor.
A combination of your skill points, your equipment, and temporarily, your buffs will affect all of these attribute points. Enemy units can also debuff you, reducing these skill points at times.
Effects from skills
Each time you level, you will be given 5 points to spend on strength, dexterity, or intelligence. You will also be given one skill point to spend on any of the skills of your character. How you spend these points can have significant consequences on how effective your character will be. It will affect their attributes, skill damage, and what equipment they can wear.
Remember the following though (before equipment is taken into account):
Adding strength (str emphasizes survivability, at the expense of damage)
- Each str point gives you 0.02 dmg per hit, so you need 50 points of str for 1 extra dmg
- Each str point gives you 0.03 crit, so you need 33.33 (recurring number) points of str for 1% extra crit
- Each str point gives you 0.025 dodge, you you need 40 points of str for 1% more dodge
- Each str point gives you 0.02 H/S, so you need 50 points of str for 1 H/S more
- Each str point gives you 0.05 armor, so you need 20 points of str for 1 armour more (this one is unverified)
- Str points also increase your hp reserves. Every 2 points of str increases your hp by 1, rounded down.
Adding dex (dex emphasizes maximum weapons damage at the expense of survivability and mana)
- Each dex point gives you 0.15 dmg per hit, so you need 6.67 points of dex for 1 extra dmg
- Each dex point gets you 0.167% hit, so you need 6 dex for 1% more hit
- Each dex point gets you 0.032 crit, so you need 31.25 points of dex for 1% more crit
- Each dex point gets you 0.0125 dodge, so you need 80 points of dex for 1% extra dodge
- Each dex point gives you 0.01 H/S, so you need 100 points of dex for 1 H/S more
- Each dex point gives you 0.025 armor, so you need 40 points of dex for 1 armour more
Adding int (int is like a compromise between everything)
- Each int point gives you 0.08 dmg per hit, so you need 12.5 points of int for 1 extra dmg
- Each int point gets you 0.1% hit, so you need 10 int for 1% more hit
- Each int point gets you 0.02 crit, so you need 50 points of int for 1% more crit
- Each int point gets you 0.005 dodge, so you need 200 points of int for 1% extra dodge
- Each int point gets you 0.005 h/s, so you need 200 points of int for 1 h/s more
- Each int point gets you 0.02 m/s, so you need 50 points of int for 1 m/s more
- This one is not yet confirmed, but every 2 points of int increases your mana reserve by about 1 (the game seems to have some oddities with rounding)
Notes: I am not sure about the relationship between int skill dmg for birds and bears. However, I am reasonably certain that int adds less skill damage for birds after observing int birds in action.
Effects from equipment
Reading all of this, you'll quickly notice something. Equipment tends to have a much bigger impact on a person's stats then their build. However, the contributions to their stats from distributions of str, dex, and int should not be ignored as they are quite significant.
Whenever you have equipment, generally they will add certain attributes. Weapons always add damage for example and virtually all shirts, caps, or shields (plate, leather, and robes), add armour. Carefully read what equipment adds and decide if you like what you see.
Why are pinks so valuable? The reason is because they tend to add on average, the most amount of skills. However, pinks are not always the best. Pinks don't always add skills in the areas that you may want. Or they may not be as useful under various situations.
Unique to certain pinks are the set bonuses denoted by sparkles or the "flames" that you see here. Vanity items can also add bonuses; note the blue sparkles in the image above from the crown of persistence/shield of the hallows bonus.
Skill damage is the amount of damage that you get from using your skills (ex: stomp or slashes for bears, blast shot for birds, fire blast or lighting for mages, etc.). Skill damage is important because skills and not weapons, even in the post-GCD world are the main damage dealer. Naturally, you'll want the highest possible skill damage in any given situation.
What effects skill damage? There are four basic factors:
1. Distribution of skill points (int/dex/str): Different classes will have different amounts of skill damage from dex, int, and str. See the section below for more details.
2. Weapon choice: All weapons boost skill damage. Generally speaking, higher damage per hit has better skill damage (DPS is irrelevant). Generally, int and dex for weaponry, 1h weapons give 90-100% of their damage per hit to skill damage. For int and dex, 2h weaponry offer about 70% of their damage to skill dmg.
The relationship between skill dmg and str weapons remains a mystery. For 1h, swords appear to give more skill damage than axes. I believe at this point that the Gurgox Hammer of the Rift is the overall best choice, as it offers the highest damage per hit (and thus should offer the highest skill dmg). Needs verification - need a fortified bear to confirm. Lances are known to give a fairly low proportion of their weapons damage to skill damage.
3. Other equipment choices: Other equipment can also boost skill damage when they boost damage. All of the damage specified for shirts, shields, and hats go into skill damage. Buffs (rage and blessings of might) also offer an increase in skill damage during the time that they are active.
4. Rank of skill: Higher ranks will offer more skill damage. They can have other effects too, for example a higher rank on super mega slash will cause a stronger "knock" beffect.
From distribution of skill points
Different classes will reap different benefits from the amount of skills.
- For bears, dex adds the most skill damage. Str is number two. Compared to strength, dex has a lower minimum damage, but higher maximum damage. However, dex only adds about 1-2 more skill damage per 100 points of strength or dex. Bears are unique in that their core attribute doesn't add the most skill damage.
- For birds, dex adds the most skill dmg. Str also adds a bit of skill dmg, but not as much.
- Int adds the most for mages. Dex is number two. Compared to int, strength has a lower minimum damage, but higher maximum damage.
[This section will be expanded at a later date]