WildStar: Great Combat System, Horrible Endgame PVP Sytem


Like many #WildStar players, I am a huge fan of the game’s combat system but believe the 50 PVP system is horribly flawed.

Here are the major issues with WildStar’s PVP system:

  1. The gear scales too much between blue unrated, 1500 rated, and 1800 rated gear. The stat differentials from blue->1500 and from 1500->1800 are quite significant, to the point where a 1800-geared player will vastly outperform a comparably-skilled blue-geared player. That is, 1800 gear is a faceroll advantage
  2. The matchmaking (MM) system pairs blue-geared players up against 1500- and 1800-geared players
  3. You tend to lose more rating from a loss than what you gain from a win. There are plenty of people who have noticed this. I average about 14-15 rating per win, about 22-23 rating per loss. To maintain a break-even rating, I have to win ~60% of my matches. To raise your rating at a meaningful rate, you need to win the majority of your matches. Given that the overall win/loss ratio for the population has to be 50/50 (it’s actually worse, I’ll talk about this in a moment), this means that a lot of players will be losing rating the more they participate in rated PVP. The ELO rating change calculations seem borked

About the 1st and 2nd points above, I sum up the gear differentials this way, if you were to consider people fighting in real life:

  • blue gear: elementary school kid
  • blue gear + full runes: middle schooler
  • 1500 gear:  high schooler
  • 1500 gear + full runes:  college student
  • 1800 gear:  adult
  • 1800 gear + full runes:  King Leonidas of Sparta. You know, this guy:

This is Sparta!

About the 3rd point above, the win/loss ratio has to less than .500 on a global scale. Why? Some players on the losing side in an RBG bail during the match, and this creates a vicious cycle where the losing side is short-handed, and then unfortunate players get sucked into the match, not knowing that it’s already ongoing. Therefore, the win rewards 10 players on the winning side, but more than 10 players may be credited with a loss, especially in a faceroll loss where the bailout rate is high. This week, I dropped I lost 45 points from 2 losses where I joined mid-match and our side was getting stomped. This is the reason I stay in losing matches until they finish (unless I have to log for RL reasons) – I don’t want to hurt the rating of another player of my faction who got sucked into the match in-progress by my selfishly leaving.

I can anticipate what the response will be from some players: just get 1800 gear, it’s not that hard.

The issue with obtaining 1800 gear or even 1500 gear at this point in the game:

  • Class imbalance is still poor. Warriors and DPS Slingers are the meta, even with some of the recent Warrior nerfs. If you aren’t either of those classes or playing with carries on those classes, the PVP experience is rather painful
  • It’s harder now to get to 1500 and 1800 than it was previously. Players who reached 1500 (RBG or Arena) or 1800 (Arena) within the first few weeks post-launch did not have to face a high density of 1800-geared players. That is no longer the case. Actually, the July 3rd patch widened the MM in terms of rating spread:
    • (PvP) Improved matching for Rated Battlegrounds and Rated Arenas by increasing the amount of rating points per search interval and by increasing the max spread of rating used. This means roughly, that players should see an overall decrease in queue times when attempting to match players/teams of disparate ratings.

If you are in a guild or friends with people who are 1800, especially Warriors and DPS Spellslingers, you can benefit from them carrying you. On the flip side, if your friends and guildees aren’t 1800 or even 1500-geared, you are actually penalized for grouping with them because as a premade you will likely face a premade from the other side, and if they have geared players your team is going to struggle.

I experienced this after hitting 50 in early July and then working my way to 1500 RBG rating with my “Melee Mage” Esper. I soloed my way up to 1471 rating within 3 days of reaching 50.

Taugrim Reaches 1471 RBG Solo-Queuing

I had the (incorrect) impression at the time that getting to 1500 wouldn’t be that difficult, but looking back I think I had an unusual win streak to get to 1471. Over the next 6 days my rating yo-yo’d until I finally reached 1500.

On my journey to 1500, in <Pharos> we had only 1 active 1500-geared player, a superb tank Stalker named Sinovia (now on Pergo). The more guildees I grouped with, the higher our loss %, because most of them were in blue gear, and our premade was getting matched against geared premades. This is the first time I’ve ever played PVP where grouping with baseline-PVP-geared guildees in battlegrounds is discouraged by how the game mechanics work :(

I can also anticipate that some folks will say: the upcoming progressive rating requirements for gear will help the PVP situation!

Actually, my projection is that it won’t meaningfully help players who are blue-geared, unless they are already at 1250+ rating before the patch. Here’s why:

  • The % of players with purple gear (1500 or 1800) who rune their gear is going to be higher than the % of players with blue gear who rune their gear. The mentality of some players (not me) is “I’m not going to run my blue gear because I’ll replace it soon.” This is probably true for people getting carried by 1800s. But for the rest of the player base, not runing blue gear is going to put them at a significant stats disadvantage relative to purple players, and keep in mind, you need to win a majority of matches to steadily increase your rating
  • There are plenty of (competent) players well under 1200 rating now, because of everything described above. Take a player at 1000 rating. Getting to 1250 would require winning ~18 matches straight, or having a 70%+ win rate over a longer stretch of matches. So while it’s nice that the fruit is lower, without being carried, it’s still too high for many players at sub-1200 ratings to reach up and grab

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about my situation. I’m not one to give up easily, and despite the unfriendly game mechanics, I’ve worked my way up to ~1700 RBG rating soloing or grouping with 1-2 guildees:

Taugrim's "Melee Mage" Esper at 1700 RBG

That said, I’ve been talking to folks inside and outside my guild, and there are plenty of competent players would can’t get to 1500 because of the factors described above.

Thanks to the PVP sytem, I’ll continue to end up in situations like the following screenie from this morning, where my 2-man group ends up facing a 7+ person premade with 1800 gear. My guildee Sinovia happened to start watching Blunt’s stream when the score was 3-3. Sure, we made them work for it, but they had a faceroll advantage due to gear differentials:

Joy of Facing Heavy 1800 Premades

The kicker of the above screenshot was the loss dinged my rating by 20 points. Minus 20 points for a loss against that premade with that gear? That’s just silly! Sinovia said in their next queue pop they commented that “Taugrim’s not here” so at least I’m getting respect from my opponents. LOL.

By the way, I know things would be easier for me (and my guildees) if I just relented and rolled a Warrior or DPS Spellslinger. But games should never be about having to play the FOTM to be viable.

Granted, the upcoming patch changes should help DPS Stalker and DPS Esper in PVP. But the real culprits – gear differentials, crappy MM, crappy ELO calculations – will still be there.

My 2 cents on how to fix this: as always I advocate a skill-based PVP environment, so skill is the primary determining factor in PVP outcomes, not gear. It’s the healthiest for the game and provides the best experience for the players. The problem right now with WildStar PVP looks like this:

gear > class > skill

This is bass ackward, especially for a game that positions itself as being highly skill-based.

In my opinion, Carbine didn’t learn from WoW’s journey with PVP. WoW PVP became much more skill-based in Cataclysm, when rating requirements were completely dropped from T1 gear, so that players could acquire the same gear as anyone else, and since gear differentials were low to none, skill was the primary determinant in PVP outcomes. Blizzard later even dropped the stats upgrade in the T2 weapons, so T2 gear is a strictly cosmetic reward. Ratings in WoW are a reflection of performance – not what gear you can acquire – and that’s exactly how it should be.

If you’re truly skilled and playing a functional spec, you shouldn’t need better gear. Better players (on FOTM classes) + better gear = faceroll.

I hope Carbine sorts this out. I really do. I completely passed on a lot of games after GW2 – FFXIV, Neverwinter, ESO – because I knew those games wouldn’t appeal to me for a meaningful timeframe. I adore WildStar, but as a diehard PVP fan I’m finding the endgame PVP to be a big turnoff to me, my guildees, and the community. WildStar PVP was a blast from 6-49, not so much at 50.

As Tom Cruise said in Days of Thunder: I want to lose to a better driver, not a better car. That’s how it should be.

—————————————

UPDATE 1

There are multiple ways this could be addressed.

OPTION A: LESSEN THE GEAR DIFFERENTIALS BETWEEN THE TIERS

E.g. if the current 1800 gear was actually more like the 1500 gear in terms of stats, and the current 1500 somewhere between blues and what it is now, gear would not be that much of a factor in driving PVP outcomes, and skill would shine moreso than now.

OPTION B: LEAVE THE SYSTEM AS-IS, BUT ADD 1800 GEAR TO RBGs

As described.

Wouldn’t solve the gear differentials issue, but would at least provide another option to players.

OPTION C: LESSEN THE GEAR DIFFERENTIALS, ADD 1800 GEAR TO RBGs

Option A and Option B could be combined to lessening gear differentials and adding 1800 gear to RBGs.

Option C is my recommended option, because it’s good for the players and therefore for the game.

OPTION D: FOLLOW THE WOW MODEL: HIGHER-RATED GEAR IS STRICTLY COSMETIC

This is letting everyone be able to acquire gear with the same stats, regardless of rating.

The longest-tenured progression MMORPG, WoW, has had strictly cosmetic gear at higher ratings for several years in PVP.

http://i.wow.joystiq.com/2013/06/05/elite-pvp-gear-requires-rating-again-in-patch-5-4/

There are plenty of people who wouldn’t be OK with this, since they need progression to enjoy PVP, and/or they want to faceroll undergeared opponents.

—————————————

UPDATE 2

So I didn’t realize there is another huge incentive to some 1800 players who are playing carry classes (esp DPS Slinger and Warrior) to continue to defend the system as-is: they make a 50 plat to boost a player to 1800 in 2v2.

This not only rewards the carrier with huge income, but it screws up the economy, and it creates a pay-to-win environment.

I didn’t realize how much of a thing this was, but I heard about it when grouped with some folks from Pergo for RBGs last night. There are some folks with over 1000 plat (yes, 1k plat) from boosting on Pergo.

:/

 

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Posted in Game Design, PVP, WildStar

My Thoughts on the Esper July Update for the “Melee Mage” PVP Build


I wanted to share my thoughts on the impact of the proposed Esper changes, posted last week, to the “Melee Mage” Esper build :
https://forums.wildstar-online.com/forums/index.php?/topic/97447-esper-july-update

Regarding this:

Asyreal, on 15 Jul 2014 – 2:45 PM, said:

Spectral Form

o This will become castable while moving

Obviously our Innate Spectral Form (SF) being castable while moving is a big quality of life improvement for a melee class.

Right now we have to use Dash, Projected Spirit, or the 9% movement boost from our PVP boots to move during the Innate self-root.

On the PTR, the buff to the Innate is being balanced by reducing the bubble from 300% to 250%. I’ll gladly take that tradeoff. The bubble from our Innate today is good, but our mobility is constrained, which means we eat attacks we might have been able to avoid completely.

Being mobile will allow us to avoid damage, and have the bubble absorb what it really needs to absorb.

Regarding this:

Asyreal, on 15 Jul 2014 – 2:45 PM, said:

Psychic Frenzy

o The initial cast GCD will be reduced to .75s, down from 1.25s

o The Tier 8 bonus will only requires 3 Psi Charge stacks, down from 6

I’m as excited about the Psychic Frenzy (PF) changes as the Innate change for the “Melee Mage” Esper.

PF on live is 2.25s to fire all 3 blades for a single cast. By reducing the initial cast by half a second, firing all 3 blades will take 1.75s. Obviously, a shorter overall cast time means higher throughput, and that means higher sustained DPS, which means higher sustain from the lifesteal, and we build PPs faster.

For those curious about the timing, here’s how it works on live:
0.00 – 0.745 cast time for 1st blade
0.75 1st blade fires
0.75 – 1.25 GCD for 1st blade
1.25 2nd blade fires (instant)
1.25 – 1.75 GCD for 2nd blade
1.75 3rd blade fires (instant)
1.75 – 2.25 GCD for 3rd blade

Ayestes confirmed the new timing on the PTR looks like this:
0.75 first blade fires
0.75 second blade fires
1.25 third blade fires
1.75 gcd ends

I’ve never complained publicly about PF, but my thought was that for a melee class – with light armor no less – this seemed like a slow spammable in terms of cast time and mediocre DPS, in this game and compared to other games. Usually melee attacks have the higher DPS, because meleeing requires staying in close range, which tends to entail more risk, and melees generally have lower uptime on their attacks as they run in and out of range. I think the shortened cast time is a step in the right direction. A huge step.

I’m also glad to see that the T8 bonus will be meaningful. Today, I always take T8 for PF, because the damage difference between T4 and T8 is significant, and more damage also means more sustain, but the T8 bonus is underwhelming. With the change to make a PP build every 3 full casts, we’ll get a nice bump to our finisher throughput. Like I said, if you aren’t already investing T8 in PF, you’re doing it wrong. But the change will provide better ROI.

Will PF become as viable as Telekinetic Strike (TStrike) for sustained DPS in PVE? Probably not, especially if there are AMPs that reward stationary play, and that synergizes well with a ranged build but not so much for a melee one.

In PVP, PF will still be superior for over TStrike, given the lifesteal and ability to melee strafe targets and cause them to miss. For Espers who struggle with movement, TStrike may feel more comfortable for them.

Regarding this:

Asyreal, on 15 Jul 2014 – 2:45 PM, said:

While we are moving away from forcing Espers to be immobile casters, we do not want to completely kill the playstyle for players that enjoy the concept. In the future you can expect to see some AMPs and Ability tiers that will reward players based on the amount of time they spend stationary.

I can already anticipate that some Espers are going to theorycraft that stationary AMPs might provide meaningful value to Melee Mage Espers.

While there are times when our targets don’t move – either the target is stupid, or they’re CC’d – movement is critical for good MDPS gameplay, and there would be an opportunity cost to taking stationary AMPs over other ones that synergize better with a melee build.

Stationary AMPs will be incredibly relevant for PVE RDPS, but not for PVP MDPS.

———————————-

Lastly, it looks like the CC Resilience AMPs are getting reduced from 30% to 15% across the board, so I will likely use those points plus one from the Dash AMPs to take No Pain No AMP to further boost PP generation. My guildee Top (@unindel) also suggested Refund AMP as an option, but after thinking about it, I think Mind Burst with it’s wide telegraph would probably benefit more from this AMP than TStorm, which has a narrow telegraph and is unlikely to hit as many targets to increase the chance of a deflect-based proc.

Overall, I’m excited about the changes. I don’t think on paper they will make “Melee Mage” Esper too strong, but they will help to address the DPS gap we see right now between Esper and Warrior / SpellSlinger. Even with the recent nerfs to Rampage, Warrior is still a terror in PVP.

P.S. I am also glad to see that DPS Stalkers received buffs on live and have more on the PTR, as they need the burst to be able to meaningfully pressure targets.

P.P.S. I’ve been adding a lot of content to my “Melee Mage” PVP Guide, including a video where I output 2.1 million damage, 785k healing, and 17-4 KDR in a closely contested RBG for which I queued solo.

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Posted in Esper, PVP, Warrior, WildStar

Review: CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard


Recently my wife’s been on a quest to reduce our EMF exposure. I’ve been using the built-in keyboard of my Sager gaming laptop, and she suggested that I switch to a keyboard accessory.

Therefore, I picked up a non-mechanical keyboard, the Logitech K740, from a nearby Staples. The main issue with the K740 is that it’s full-width and has a tenkey numpad I never use. From an ergonomic standpoint, the keyboard width forced the mouse to be placed too far off my center line, and this was not comfortable. So I decided that a tenkeyless (compact) keyboard would be the way to go.

Top (@unindel) recommended that I take a look at mechanical keyboards, which provide a more customizable and richer tactile experience relative to rubber dome keyboards. I found a good fit for what I was looking for in the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid – Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with Cherry MX Red Switches, which was favorably reviewed on various shopping sites (e.g. Amazon.com, Newegg.com) and forums.

The keyboard came sturdily packaged:

CM Storm QuickFire Rapid - Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - Boxed

As I had hoped, the compact keyboard allowed for comfortable alignment and distance between my left hand on the keyboard and my right hand on the mouse, which is my default setup when gaming. From an ergonomic standpoint, I want my hands to be about shoulder width apart.

CM Storm QuickFire Rapid - Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with CHERRY MX Red Switches

There are several design characteristics that influenced my decision to pick up a CM Storm keyboard:

  1. Each key is concave, so your finger naturally falls into the middle of the key when depressing
  2. There is a meaningful gap and crevice between each key and surrounding keys, which helps with correct finger placement
  3. Each key has good travel distance, which prevents misfires from brush contact

CM Storm QuickFire Rapid - Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - Concave Keys

I’ve only been using the QuickFire keyboard for a few days, but I already love it! The only downside to the keyboard is that it’s somewhat noisy, and in the heat of PVP, my wife can hear me clicking madly away in the next room. LOL.

UPDATE (2014/07/21)

Aside from brand, the main thing one has to decide with a mechanical keyboard is which Cherry MX mechanical switches to go with. There are 4 switch options, denoted by color, and per the manufacturer each option is tuned differently:

  • Blue: for typists, tactile actuation bump, actuation click sound, 60cN actuation force
  • Brown: for typists, tactile actuation bump, no actuation click sound, 55cN actuation force
  • Red: for gamers, no tactile actuation bump, no actuation click sound, 45cN actuation force
  • Black: for gamers, no tactile actuation bump, no actuation click sound, 60cN actuation force

I found an article and poll which recommends Cherry MX Brown instead of the Red I’m using. I’m tempted to order the Rapidfire keyboard with Brown switches to see which works best for me.

I got several dozen responses on Twitter about this topic. Here’s a link to the conversation:

Another thing to consider for your Cherry MX switches is whether to install O-Rings to prevent bottoming out the keys (which means less noise) and to reduce the travel distance. From reading various forums, 0.2mm O-Rings seem preferred over 0.4mm O-Rings, as the latter decrease the travel of the keys too much.

What keyboard are you using, and if you have Cherry MX switches, which color(s) have you used and what’s your take on them? What do you think of O-Rings?

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Posted in Product Review

Guide to WildStar Keybinds


Editor’s Note: I was going to wait until I hit level cap before publishing this guide, but people have been asking for it, and I recognize that sharing it sooner than later may help players who want to self-assess their keybinds before they become hardened in muscle memory.

I may tweak the keybinds as I level up and try different things – stay tuned.

As I wrote in my detailed Guide to Strafing and Keybinding, the default keybindings for every MMORPG (including and especially WildStar) do not support skillful play. To understand the implications of poor keybinding versus effective keybinding, please go read the Guide and watch its videos, then come back here.

OK, you’re back.

Before we talk about keybinds for WildStar, let’s consider the distinctions of this game relative to other MMORPGs in terms of the combat mechanics:

  1. The combat revolves around aiming of abilities, so you need to be able to fluidly and accurately target opponents who are moving
  2. Given that you have to aim by keeping a target in front of you, the old MMORPG technique of strafing sideways from a target and still being able to hit them doesn’t work
  3. There are a very limited number of abilities, aka the LAS (Limited Action Set). Gone are the days where a given class has 30+ abilities. This is the direction the industry is moving in. So we should be able to keybind most or all of our in-combat abilities without modifier keys
  4. To break out of stuns, you have to quickly hold down the appropriate random movement key: forward, backward, left strafe, or right strafe. So those directions must be bound

Before I talk about my WildStar setup, let me reiterate what I stated in my Guide to Strafing and Keybinding:

Keybinding is a sensitive topic, so keep in mind that the intention of this [guide] is to show “one way of thinking about it.” The way that you feel comfortable setting up your keybinds may be very different from mine – what matters is that you are able to execute [combat effectively and accurately].

Don’t feel constrained at all by my particular setup. I’ll explain my thought process below, but how you keybind should suit your needs. Just don’t box yourself into the default lame keybinds.

Here are my draft keybinds for WildStar:

Taugrim's WildStar Keybinds v1.1

I have 17 in-combat keybinds that each require a single keypress, which enables me to to fluidly move and aim without finger gymnastics. My pinky, ring finger, middle finger, and index finger rest on Q, W, E, and R respectively. I put the spammable ability on 3 so I can hit it with my middle finger. This is comfortable and I’m able to strafe while using it.

I’m still mulling over the location of the Innate ability. For the classes aside from SpellSlinger, C works fine. SpellSlinger needs to micromanage their Innate, so you may want to consider mapping Innate to a comfortable key that is closer to your LAS abilities.

Character Movement

I use my ring and index fingers to strafe left and right respectively, which is intuitive and natural. Likewise, my middle finger is used for forward and backward - again, intuitive and natural. Normally I bash backpedaling as ultimate noobiness and don’t even keybind Backward, but the combat mechanics for WildStar are different from most other tab-target games. In tab-target games you can strafe sideways and hit your target. Not so in WildStar. Backpedaling in WildStar allows you to create some separation while keeping your target in front of you.

As I wrote in the Guide to Strafing and Keybinding, I use the mouse for character turning (right mouse button), camera turning (left mouse button), and moving forward (both mouse buttons). There is no reason to waste valuable keys for keyboard turning left or right, and in WildStar, using your mouse to turn/aim is much faster and more accurate.

In WildStar, when you are stunned you are presented with a random button to press to break out of it. Those map to my W/R and E/D keys respectively, but they’ll map to whatever your strafing and forward/backward keys are.

With the Limited Action Set (LAS), there are only so many keybinds you need, so I limit the usage of my left pinky to select movement-related skills. Given that in combat my left fingers rest on QWER, using Q for Sprint has worked well for me. From a thematic standpoint, since my left pink is about movement, it’s the finger I use to Mount (Z) and for Dash (1).

Other Tips

As discussed in the Guide to Strafing and Keybinding, it’s really helpful to use “thematic” keybinding, where the letter of a key related to the first letter in an ability, or you use the same finger for similar actions, and you do this across classes and across games to reinforce the muscle memory.

E.g. for every class I map:

  • 3 to the main spammable
  • S to Stun
  • D for dodge Backward
  • C for class Innate
  • T to talk, aka Interact
  • B to Vacuum Loot into my backpack

These are examples, but come up with what works for you.

Also, if you decide to make significant changes to your keybinds, read the instructions in the full Guide to Strafing and Keybinding – you want to approach new keybinds thoughtfully and patiently.

Narrative Video

To see how keybinds enable good gameplay, check out the following video.

Revision History

  • 2014/06/19: Replaced the combat footage video with good examples recorded last night
  • 2014/06/18: Per FrankyMcShanky’s and Martin’s feedback, bound 1 to Dash. Labeled the specific type of abilities for most of the LAS slots

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Posted in Guide, PVE, PVP, Video, WildStar

Guide to the Esper “Melee Mage” PVP Build in WildStar


This guide covers the “Melee Mage” melee DPS build for the Esper class in WildStar for Battleground PVP (and hopefully Arena down the road).

The Melee Mage build differs from other melee lifesteal Esper builds in that it heavily emphasizes control. In PVP, control + burst is what matters, especially when your opponents are skilled. In many cases, control is more important than your individual sustain, for both solo play and team play.

I have been making tweaks to this guide based on feedback from (credible) veteran Espers on the discussion thread for this guide on the official forum. Thanks Zyoxo, Centricity, vanisha, and other Espers for sharing your knowledge :)

Strengths and Weakness

+ lots of CC: up to 4 active abilities (knockdown, root, disarm, and knockback) and 1 passive proc (snare)
+ good sustain via lifesteal, HoTs, and charge ability
+ good mobility
(+ can solo Primes in PVE)
– vast majority of damage dealing requires near-range (<= 10m) combat in light armor
– slower Psi Point generation as compared to Telekinetic Strike nuke builds

As with any melee class, if your target doesn’t know how to deal with you melee strafing them, it can make it difficult for them to hit you while you punch them in the face. Muhahaha die noobs :)

If you need help learning how to melee strafe properly, see my Guide on Keybinding and Strafing.

Build Links

For the level 25 build, you need the 3rd tier A/U AMP Slow It Down (SID), but you can’t purchase this from a reputation vendor until the 30s. I was so curious about this AMP and wanted to test it as soon as possible, so I purchased it off the AH to use at level 25, and it was worth it. You can of course wait until you can buy it from the reputation vendor and respec your AMPs, but the SID snare is one of the key elements of this build so acquire it as soon as possible.

At 50, I invest heavily in low-hanging fruit in the 1st tier of AMPs and in select 2nd and 3rd tier AMPs that best synergize with this spec.

Here is the order of AMPs I recommend from level 25-50:
esper-twilight-build-amps-order

Design Decisions

  • Melee builds in PVP need CC abilities to counter being kited, to meaningfully pressure and lockdown targets, and to peel for friendlies who need support. In addition, Esper is a particularly strong CC class. Therefore, this build provides 3.5 CC abilities (4.5 if you slot Shockwave), if we count the SID snare as half a CC. You can swap out a CC ability for another ability, but I would not recommend going below 2.5 CC abilities and I think you should think very carefully before unslotting Incapacitate (disarm), given that we are the only class that has a disarm, so unlike other CC abilities your target won’t have DR immunity due to other friendly classes
  • Only two Assault abilities are slotted, tier 8 Telekinetic Storm (TStorm) and tier 8 Psychic Frenzy (PF), as they synergize well with a DPS and sustain build. Every tick of TStorm can proc SID+NR (No Remorse) and for targets less than 30% HP you also get The Humanity damage. This means that even a 1PP Storm can finish off a target with 7k HP, but of course it takes time for the DoTs to tick so your target may be healed. The main usability issue with TStorm is that the telegraph is extremely narrow, so you have to aim carefully. You can alternatively slot tier 8 Mind Burst (MB) instead of TStorm, if you want to emphasize crits. The other Assault abilities provide as much value as the Utility CC and Bolster Support abilities selected in the build. An issue with some of our Assault abilities is that you have limited or no control over what’s being hit. Some players stop at tier 4 PF, but PF is the main source of sustained damage and sustain lifesteal, so it’s worth maxing out
  • I was originally thinking I might need to slot Telekinetic Strike for ranged capability, but after experimenting at level 25, it’s not needed, and an additional CC provides far more value
  • We don’t take either of the two summon-based lifesteals, Geist and Spectral Swarm (SS). While Geist does provide 15% mitigation and at tier 4 can heal you, the pet is vulnerable to AOE and can be used by your opponents to build up their resources. Ditto for SS, which also requires 2 AMP points. Furthermore, pet AI can be unreliable. In addition, reaching the lifesteal for either ability requires an investment of 8 precious ability points, which means you’re gimping yourself elsewhere
  • As you get close to and ding 50, you’ll get less mileage out of Support abilities aside from Bolster. The reason is that we do not stack Support Power. While leveling, Phantasmal Armor is a solid choice, but at 50, you can replace Phantasmal Armor for the CC breaker Fade Out or Shockwave for the AOE knockback

Tips

  • The Follow Through (FT) AMP provides 10.5% Assault Power Empower regardless how many PPs you spend on the finisher. In addition, every tick of TStorm refreshes the 5-sec Empower, so you can maintain good uptime on FT. Therefore, you can buff your damage when starting combat by landing a 1PP TStorm
  • While the Innate ability prevents normal movement, you can still Dash and cast Projected Spirit. You’ll see me doing this in my videos to manage distance to target(s). Practice timing the use of your Innate to enable you to deliver ranged burst, without causing you to fall behind
  • Our disarm (Incapacitate), knockdown (Crush), and knockback (Shockwave) strip opponents of IA and are guaranteed to deal damage – they can’t be deflected – which makes them excellent tools for stopping caps, especially against Stalker tanks. Our root is also an excellent cap-prevention tool
  • Shockwave provides high value in rated battlegrounds (RBGs). A clutch knockback can boot players off a platform or catwalk, peel for a friendly flag carrier (FC), knockback an enemy FC into your friendly DPS, etc
  • You can peel for friendlies by chaining your CCs
  • Phantasmal Armor and Bolster can be used on friendly players

Runes

Here are the best Rune Set bonuses for Esper PVP:

  • Spellweaver (SW) (General Rune Set): Fire, Life, Water
    • (4): Increases Magic damage dealt by 1% and grants you a 10% chance to apply an Expose for 5.0s when you land a hit. Expose: Reducs Magic Resistance by 240.
    • (8): Increases Magic damage dealt by 1.5% and grants you a 10% chance to apply an Expose for 5.0s when you land a hit. Expose: Reducs Magic Resistance by 360.
    • (12): Increases Magic damage dealt by 2% and grants you a 10% chance to apply an Expose for 5.0s when you land a hit. Expose: Reducs Magic Resistance by 480.
  • Sight Before Sight (SBS) (PVP Rune Set): Air, Fire, Fusion, Life, Water
    • (6): Landing a Critical Hit applies a Blind for 1.0s. Blind: Hinders vision and reduces Strikethrough Chance by 25%. Can only occur every 20.00s.Landing a Critical Heal grants an Empower for 5.0s. Empower: Increases Strikethrough and Critical Hit Rating by 65.
    • (11): Landing a Critical Hit applies a Blind for 1.25s. Blind: Hinders vision and reduces Strikethrough Chance by 25%. Can only occur every 20.00s.Landing a Critical Heal grants an Empower for 5.0s. Empower: Increases Strikethrough and Critical Hit Rating by 89.

SW and SBS provide set bonuses that synergize well with our build’s mechanics. SW benefits not only our DPS but also that of allied Spellslingers and Espers. The Blind for SBS may seem underwhelming with its relatively short duration, but it throws your opponent’s targeting and they may miss on a key ability (e.g. CC or Assassinate). With the frequent use of Bolster, we get good hit chance and crit chance uptime from SBS’s Empower.

I was previously thinking Assassin set bonus was worth targeting but we only get 2 Logic slots on PVP gear and the bonuses don’t synergize as well as SW and SBS for our build.

Here are some tips for sorting out your Runes:

  • Air and Fusion are only used for SBS, so use those Rune slots first to get your Sight Before Sight set bonus
  • Use your Fire, Life, and Water Rune slots as needed to reach 4-pc SW, then 6-pc SBS, then 8-pc SW, then go from there
  • Earth and Logic slots are not used for SW or SBS. Slot Earth slots with Rune of Health. Slot Logic slots with Rune of Moxie

Imports for the Aura Mastery Addon

Aura Mastery is a fantastic addon for tracking conditions and cooldowns.

Following are my custom Auras for DPS Espers. Note that these are useful for both PVE and PVP.

Psi Point Tracking Aura

This aura provides a counter for your PPs in the middle of the screen. At 5 PPs, you hear the same sound when a PVP queue pops:

{['playSoundWhen'] = "All",['iconScale'] = 1,['iconEnabled'] = true,['iconSprite'] = "",['iconSound'] = 196,['iconPosition'] = {['left'] = 142,['top'] = -46,},['SimpleMode'] = false,['onlyInCombat'] = false,['iconName'] = "Mind Burst",['showWhen'] = "Any",['iconText'] = {[1] = {['textFont'] = "CRB_Header20",['textAnchor'] = "OT",['textString'] = "{resource.primary}",['textFontColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 1,[3] = 1,[4] = 1,},},},['iconBackground'] = true,['Triggers'] = {[1] = {['Type'] = "Resources",['Name'] = "Trigger 1",['TriggerDetails'] = {['Resource'] = {['Value'] = 0,['Percent'] = false,['Operator'] = ">",},},['TriggerEffects'] = {},['Behaviour'] = "Pass",},[2] = {['Type'] = "Resources",['Name'] = "Trigger 2",['TriggerDetails'] = {['Resource'] = {['Value'] = 5,['Percent'] = false,['Operator'] = "==",},},['TriggerEffects'] = {},['Behaviour'] = "Pass",},},['iconOverlay'] = {['overlayColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 0,[3] = 0,[4] = 0.75,},['overlayStyle'] = "Radial",['overlayShape'] = "Solid",},['iconColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 1,[3] = 1,[4] = 1,},['actionSets'] = {[1] = true,[2] = true,[3] = true,[4] = true,},['iconBorder'] = true,}

Bolster Stack Tracking Aura

This aura tells you how many charges you have left and the clock animation for re-charging:

{['playSoundWhen'] = "None",['iconScale'] = 1,['iconEnabled'] = true,['iconSprite'] = "",['iconSound'] = -1,['iconPosition'] = {['left'] = 99,['top'] = -46,},['SimpleMode'] = false,['onlyInCombat'] = false,['iconName'] = "Bolster",['showWhen'] = "All",['iconText'] = {[1] = {['textFont'] = "CRB_Header20",['textAnchor'] = "OT",['textString'] = "{charges}",['textFontColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 1,[3] = 1,[4] = 1,},},},['iconBackground'] = true,['Triggers'] = {[1] = {['Type'] = "Cooldown",['Name'] = "Trigger 1",['TriggerDetails'] = {['SpellName'] = "Bolster",['Charges'] = {['Value'] = 0,['Enabled'] = true,['Operator'] = "!=",},},['TriggerEffects'] = {},['Behaviour'] = "Ignore",},},['iconOverlay'] = {['overlayColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 0,[3] = 0,[4] = 0.75,},['overlayStyle'] = "Radial",['overlayShape'] = "Solid",},['iconColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 1,[3] = 1,[4] = 1,},['actionSets'] = {[1] = true,[2] = true,[3] = true,[4] = true,},['iconBorder'] = true,}

Narrated PVP Videos

The following video provides the introduction to the build, with footage @ 25 from a Walatiki Temple battleground where I queued solo and went 12-0 for kills-to-deaths:

The following video @ 31 shows how to leverage effective keybinding and melee strafing to wreck opponents in 1v1s and 1v2s:

As it turns out, the Melee Mage build works well for soloing Primes. Here’s a video @ 37 of the Melee Mage build soling a Prime:

The following video @ 39 shows a hilarious failed attempt by a 50 Spellslinger who tried to gank me when I was fighting a mob:

Here is the last in the series of leveling battleground videos. My Esper is level 45 in this Walatiki Temple battleground where I queued solo and went 13-0 for kills-to-deaths, dealt 962k damage, and healed for 325k:

The following video @ 50 showcases gameplay with 1500 gear in a Rated Battleground, where I queued solo, dealt 2.1MM damage, healed for 785k, and went 17-4 for kills-to-deaths. We lost 5-4, but it was a great match:

Recommended Esper Guides

Recent Changes

  • 2014/07/17: added 6th video, of a Rated Battleground at 50. Finally got to test drive my 1500 gear :)
  • 2014/07/16: more notes about TStorm and AMP synergy
  • 2014/07/11: revamped Runes section. Replaced MB with TStorm
  • 2014/07/06: added Runes section. Updated Aura Mastery codes
  • 2014/07/03: added more tips and notes re: CC. Also changed name of build from “Twilight” to “Melee Mage”
  • 2014/06/30: added 5th video, of a battleground at 45. Added AMP order diagram
  • 2014/06/27: noted that you can cast Projected Spirit while the Innate self-root is up
  • 2014/06/25: added 4th video, of a 50 SS trying to gank me at 39
  • 2014/06/24: revised 50 spec by choosing low-hanging fruit in the 1st tier to get to 45/55 AMP points
  • 2014/06/23: added 3rd video, which shows how to use this build to solo Primes
  • 2014/06/21: added Aura Mastery section. Revised the 50 build, based on vanisha’s and Zyoxo’s feedback. Minor updates to Design Decisions section
  • 2014/06/19: added the 2nd video, which covers melee strafing and keybinds

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