WildStar PVP Video: Esper “Melee Mage” in PVP Drop 2

In this video, I provide an update to my “Melee Mage” Esper PVP build for the PVP Drop 2 patch. I’m glad to report that the build is performing well :)

I discuss the patch changes, adjustments to my build, Esper lifesteal mechanics, and last but not least the *fantastic* news from MuffinMan about proposed changes to the PVP gear system:

Gear Gaps:

The gear gaps are being closed. The intent is to make it so skilled players in blues will still be competitive with players in Tier 2 sets (1800’s). We will be making following changes:

  • The PvP blue set will be boosted to the current Tier 1 set
  • The Tier 2 set will remain the same
  • The Tier 1 set will be boosted to bridge the gap between blues and Tier 2.
  • This change is targeted to be pushed out in the next few weeks.

Making Tier 2 Gear obtainable in Rated Battlegrounds:

I would also like to make Tier 2 pvp gear obtainable in Rated Battlegrounds. This is another change that will require approval and again, I will provide updates when I am able.

Carbine’s proposed changes are almost identical to what I recommended in my recent blog post about the endgame PVP system.

I am so psyched that they are going with a solution that makes PVP more skill-based, and still supports gear progression for those who want it.

MuffinMan also said that healing will get increased:

Healing in PvP:

Adjustments are being made internally to increase the effectiveness of healing in PvP. This change will need a balance pass and testing so I can’t provide an ETA at this time.

While I agree with Carbine that healing was too strong pre-Drop 2 – combat sometimes boiled down to no one dying until healers went OOM – it was overnerfed in Drop 2, so it make sense that healing will be re-adjusted.

Posted in Esper, Game Design, PVP, Video, WildStar

WildStar: Great Combat System, Horrible Endgame PVP Sytem

Editor’s note (2014/08/06): MuffinMan just announced that they are making changes that are almost identical to what I had suggested as Option C below. Way to go Carbine!

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:

  • 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 upgraded 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.



There are multiple ways this could be addressed.


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.


As described.

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


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 lessens the impact of gear and allows skill to shine, and it still provides gear progression for those who really care about that (i.e. people other than me).


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.


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.



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 – 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 players from Pergo for RBGs last night. Some players have accumulated over 1000 plat (yes, 1k plat) from boosting on Pergo.



UPDATE 3 (2014/08/06):


MuffinMan posted this last night:

Gear Gaps:

The gear gaps are being closed. The intent is to make it so skilled players in blues will still be competitive with players in Tier 2 sets (1800’s). We will be making following changes:

  • The PvP blue set will be boosted to the current Tier 1 set
  • The Tier 2 set will remain the same
  • The Tier 1 set will be boosted to bridge the gap between blues and Tier 2.
  • This change is targeted to be pushed out in the next few weeks.

Making Tier 2 Gear obtainable in Rated Battlegrounds:

I would also like to make Tier 2 pvp gear obtainable in Rated Battlegrounds. This is another change that will require approval and again, I will provide updates when I am able.

WAY TO GO CARBINE (with the voiceover)

I think he means that the 1500 gear is getting buffed to somewhere between where it is now and the current 1800 gear, and that the blue gear is getting buffed to the current 1500 gear.

The solution MuffinMan proposed is almost identical to what I described above as Option C, which was the option I recommended.

I am so psyched that they are going with a solution that makes PVP more skill-based, and still supports gear progression for those who want it.


Posted in Game Design, PVP, 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 option 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, and it had a reasonable price point just under $100 USD.

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?

UPDATE (2015/01/03)

I did extensive hands-on testing on Red versus Brown Cherry MX switches and Red versus Blue O-rings. You can read about that here.

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


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, Arena, and World PVP.

The Melee Mage build differs from other melee lifesteal Esper builds in that it heavily emphasizes control and meaningful damage. 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.

This guide reflects my perspective as an Esper with extensive endgame PVP experience – I’ve reached 1800 rating in 2v2 Arena and soloed RBGs up to 1791 rating – and feedback from (credible) veteran Espers on the discussion thread for this guide on the official forum. Thanks Zyoxo, vanisha, Centricity, and other Espers for sharing your knowledge :)

Recent Updates

  • 2014/09/28: tweaks made to build links and to content in general. Updated AMP progression diagram
  • 2014/09/25: major updates throughout the guide. Added arena content :)
  • 2014/08/11: swapped out AMP points from Strikethrough and Dash to take The Power. Lots of updates to Runes section. Added notes about Empower refresh mechanics
  • 2014/08/08: updated addons. Removed Bolster custom aura. Updated PP custom aura
  • 2014/08/07: added video for PVP Drop 2, lifesteal mechanics, and upcoming PVP gear system changes. Addon Recommended Combat Addons section

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
+ as of Drop 2, good sustained DPS
+ strong counter to Stalker stealth
(+ can solo Primes in PVE)
– damage dealing requires near-range (<= 10m) combat in light armor
– slower Psi Point generation as compared to Telekinetic Strike nuke builds
– all DPS Espers lack the front-loaded burst of Spellslingers, Warriors, and Stalkers

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). Given that we’re months from launch, you should be able to purchase this AMP from the AH. You can of course wait until you can buy it from the reputation vendor in your mid 30s and respec your AMPs, but the SID snare is one of the key elements of this build so you really need it at 25.

The following diagram shows the recommend AMP progression by points spent:

"Melee Mage" AMP Progression

LAS Mechanics

  • Melee builds in PVP need CC abilities to counter being kited, to meaningfully pressure and lockdown targets, and to peel for friendlies who need help. 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. Keep in mind that we are the only class that has a disarm (Incapacitate), so unlike other CC abilities your target won’t have DR immunity to disarm due to CC from other friendly classes
  • Only two Assault abilities are slotted, T8 Psychic Frenzy (PF) and T8 Telekinetic Storm (TStorm). Some players stop at T4 PF, but PF is our primary source of sustained damage and sustain, and it scales terrifically with ability points, so T8 is a must. Every tick of TStorm can proc SID+NR (No Remorse) and for targets less than 30% HP you also get The Humanity (TH) damage. This means that even a 1PP (Psi Point) TStorm 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 narrow, so you have to aim carefully. You can alternatively slot T8 Mind Burst (MB) instead of TStorm, if you want to emphasize crits. The other Assault abilities do not provide as much value as the Utility CC and Bolster Support abilities selected in the build
  • The T4 lifesteals for the summon-based abilities, Geist and Spectral Swarm (SS), are traps to the unwary or ignorant – your precious ability points are much better spent elsewhere. In addition, SS requires 2 AMP point. Therefore, I never use SS. Geist provides a whopping 15% mitigation, and I’ve found it useful in 2v2 Arena and for boosting survivability in BGs
  • 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. In addition we don’t want to spread our Ability points over 2 builders

AMP Mechanics

  • As a melee, we get a lot of value out of the Inspirational Charge AMP, because each tick of TStorm refreshes the +12% movement speed buff
  • I have tested various defensive AMPs, e.g. the armor-boosting AMPs (Iron Reflexes, Stand Strong), Fisticuffs, and Psychic Barrier (PB). Obviously as a DPS spec we don’t want to over-invest in defensive AMPs or we nerf our offensive capability, but we are a light armor class so thoughtful but limited investment makes sense to improve our survivability. In my opinion the best 2nd or 3rd tier defensive AMP is PB, since it’s a passive buff with high uptime and can significantly reduce incoming burst damage. The armor-boosting AMPs have limited uptime compared to PB. Fisticuffs is awful, as it provides a multiplicative not additive bonus, so it increases your Resistances by x1.085 not +8.5%.
  • 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
  • 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. Our root is also an excellent cap-prevention tool because it deals damage over time
  • We don’t directly invest in Strikethrough with AMPs or stats, as the build provides good mechanics with respect to your target’s deflects. T8 TStorm debuffs your target’s Deflect up to 8%, and CCs can’t be deflected
  • 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. It’s also very helpful against DPS Spellslinger as you can interrupt a Charged Shot (you can hear them casting it) or Wild Barrage
  • TStorm synergizes effectively with proc-based AMPs (per Aelroen on the official forums):

Tstorm does have an ICD, in that you will see whenever you have multiple stacks on a target, only one will receive The Humanity bonus as well as No Remorse, the rest just normal ticks of damage. Not yet confirmed, but I also observed that these two damage ticks will only apply to a single target, so if you have two below 30% HP in a Tstorm, only one will receive bonus damage.

SiD can only proc once on a single target each Tstorm tick, i.e. it will not snare 2 or more people in one tick. However since SiD last long enough, if you’re lucky with proc rates or stacked Tstorms a bit, you can keep renewing or applying SiD on multiple targets in 1sec intervals. Not completely sure if e.g. you PF + Tstorm within the same second, whether they can both apply SiD, which would indicate absence of an ICD because the low proc rate masks this mechanic.

  • SID can proc with each tick of TStorm, which provides No Remorse damage, but the snare debuff does not refresh until it expires
  • TH and NR can’t crit

The following AMP-based Empowers can overwrite (refresh) themselves before their duration ends:

  • FT
  • The Power!
  • Inspirational Charge

The following AMP-based Empowers cannot overwrite (refresh) themselves before their duration ends:

  • Duelist

Lifesteal and Healing Mechanics

  • Our 6% lifesteal from AMPs is not affected by healing debuffs nor the PVP Healing stat. It only heals for 6% of the actual HP damage, so if you roll 200 damage on a hit, and 100 damage is eaten by your target’s shield so you only deal 100 HP damage, you lifesteal 6 not 12. I didn’t test but I suspect that a target with an absorb that takes 0 HP damage will result in 0 lifesteal
  • T4 PF healing is not affected by healing debuffs nor the PVP Healing stat. T4 PF heals for 25% of the damage roll, plus what you get from the lifesteal from AMPs, for up to 31% total healing
  • Projected Spirit, Bolster, and the PVP gadget healing are all subject to healing debuffs and the PVP Healing stat, which makes sense given that they are direct-cast heals

Arena Considerations

  • T4 Crush (knockdown) is immensely valuable in Arena, as it enables you to knockdown a target that has 1 IA (Interrupt Armor)
  • If you have all 48 Ability Points, you’re able to slot T8 PF, T8 TStorm, T4 Crush, and T4 PS. This is the ideal setup
  • If you have between 41 and 47 Ability Points, I recommend going T8 PF, T4 Crush, T4 PS, and investing the rest into T5-T7 TStorm, and then putting any excess points in a CC ability, e.g. the root. You lose the T8 deflect debuff from TStorm, so more of your attacks will be deflected, but I’ve found this to be an acceptable tradeoff given that TStorm damage scales poorly with ability points and CC’s can’t be deflected
  • In 2v2 Arena, you should expect to be the focus fire target for the opposing team, especially if you run a double-DPS comp, given that you are melee and wear light armor. Even with a healer team mate, opponents know that if they try to focus fire your healer, you’ll peel for that healer with your CCs and freecast damage abilities while your healer kites and recovers. Therefore, the 3% PVP Defense AMPs and PB AMP provide high value

Stat Priority

PVP Power > Assault Power (AP) = Moxie >> Armor = PVP Defense >> HP > Crit Hit Rating > Finesse

  • My guildee Unindel modeled PVP Power compared to AP, and his conclusion was that for DPS Esper, PVP Power is the best stat to stack. I did some testing of Power versus AP/Moxie for 4 rune slots on my 1500 gear and came to the same conclusion. See my YouTube video and video description for details
  • In Vijaya’s thread on Moxie vs AP maths, he concluded that below 1449 AP, Moxie outperforms AP, when you factor in Moxie-boosting AMPs (Superiority, The Power) and the the Moxie milestone bumps. That being said, in PVP you won’t have full uptime of those AMPs, and for all rune set runes, you don’t have the choice between Moxie and AP – the choice is already made for you
  • It’s unclear whether Armor or PVP Defense is better for mitigation. Mitigation synergizes well with our sustain
  • 1 point of Crit Hit Rating gives ~0.015% Crit Hit Chance, or 67 Rating for 1% Chance. That’s anemic
  • 1 point of Finesse only gives 0.0075% Crit Hit Chance and ~0.02% Crit Severity
  • We lack the Crit Hit mechanics to make Crit Severity Rating meaningful
  • 1 point of Strikethrough Rating only gives 0.0075% Strikethrough Chance, or 133 Rating for 1% Chance. Worst. Stat. Ever.


As of the PVP Drop 2 patch, runes on PVP gear are RNG. This is both bad and good: bad, because prior to the patch, most gear pieces already had good rune colors for Esper DPS, and good, because if you’re willing to grind Prestige you can keep buying a PVP gear piece until it has the exact mix of rune colors you want.

As everyone’s gear no longer has the same rune colors, I can give general guidance on how to slot runes, but YMMV based on your rune colors.

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 20%. 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 20%. 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.
    • (15): Landing a Critical Hit applies a Blind for 1.5s. Blind: Hinders vision and reduces Strikethrough Chance by 20%. Can only occur every 20.00s. Landing a Critical Heal grants an Empower for 5.0s. Empower: Increases Strikethrough and Critical Hit Rating by 108.

SW benefits not only our DPS but also that of allied Spellslingers and Espers. Therefore I consider 12/12 SW to be non-negotiable for PVP.

The blind from 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). I find it incredibly annoying to fight Espers with SBS. Therefore, I consider 6/15 SBS to be non-negotiable for PVP. Note that the Empower from SBS only procs from crits of direct-cast heals, not HoTs such as Boslter

If you stop at 6/15 or 11/15 SBS, here are the alternatives, from best-to-worst:

  1. Protect Your Neck (PYN) (4/12): Increases Armor by 128 and grants a Defense for 5.0s when you drop below 30% health. Defense: Increases Armor by 830. Can only occur every 30.00s. The 830 armor is ~4% of mitigation. Also makes good use of Earth runes, which don’t have DPS stat options anyway
  2. PYN (8/12): Increases Armor by 192 and grants a Defense for 5.0s when you drop below 30% health. Defense: Increases Armor by 1250. Can only occur every 30.00s. You want to avoid using Air runes to get to this bonus, as you’ll be losing out on DPS stats and set bonuses. If you have 8 Earth and Life slots, PYN 8/12 is a good option
  3. Concentrated Assault(CA) (6/15): Activating Spectral Form deals 308 magic damage to 5 foes within 6m and Roots them for 1.0s. The root effect is situationally nice if you want to keep a runner/RDPS in-range. Note that the root duration is not increased at 11/15 nor 15/15, so 6/15 is the max investment
  4. Synapse (6/15): Building 5 Psi Points within 5.0s grants an Empower for 5.0s. Empower: Increases Critical Hit Rating by 56This is ~0.84% increased crit chance, due to the anemic conversion of Rating to Chance. Also note that there is no Synapse rune that has PVP Power, AP, or Moxie as an option. This is a trap rune set for PVP DPS Esper – don’t fall for it!

Given the rune set bonuses described above, here’s how I rank rune colors:

Omni > Fire > Fusion = Air > Earth > Life > Water > Logic

Here are some tips for each rune color:

  • Air can be used for SBS (PVP Power) or CA (Moxie), but I recommend the former only
  • Earth is used for Protect Your Neck (Armor), which increases mitigation at low HP, or Armor. If you have two Earth rune slots on the same gear piece, you can slot one with PYN (Armor) and the other with PYN (Grit)
  • Fire is used for SW (Moxie) and SBS (PVP Power) – but definitely prioritize Fire for SW given that Air and Fusion can be used for SBS but not for SW. You can slot Fire for CA (Moxie), but Air mats for CA are cheaper. If you have 3 Fire runes on the same gear piece, you can slot SW (Moxie), SBS (PVP Power), and SBS (Moxie)
  • Fusion should only be used for SBS (PVP Power) or PVP Power
  • Life is used for SW (Crit Hit), PYN (HP), or SBS (PVP Defense)
  • Logic is used for Armor or Moxie
  • Omni can be used for whatever will complete your target set bonuses, but most likely you’ll want to use it for Fire for SW (Moxie)
  • Water is used for SW (Finesse)

For those who are curious what I did with my runes, here are the set bonuses that I targeted on my 1800 gear:

  • 12/12 SW
  • 8/12 PYN
  • 11+/15 SBS

I did try 12/12 PYN, but I felt that I was losing too much damage. Between 4/12 and 8/12 PYN seems to be the right balance. If you are finding your survivability lacking, a better option than 12/12 PYN is simply slotting Geist.

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:

The following video provides an update to the “Melee Mage” build for the PVP Drop 2 patch, breaks down the lifesteal mechanics and math, and discusses MuffinMan’s awesome news about proposed PVP gear changes.

Recommended Combat Addons

Here are the combat addons that I feel are essential for enabling good gameplay, with most important listed first:

  • OptiPlates: replaces the built-in nameplates. This is a fork of the BijiPlates addon, but with performance optimizations and additional functionality. When I used BijiPlates, I would sometimes see severe framerate lag in BGs, and OptiPlates solved that problem. The only issue with OptiPlates is that you get ghosting of nameplates, but given how good the addon is and how much of a performance boost it provides, that’s an acceptable downside
  • TheZone: enables you check out your opponents in Arena and Walatiki prior to match start, and auto-identifies healers
  • QtCooldown: provides a scalable time slider bar which shows your abilities on cooldown
  • TrackMaster: draws a vector to your target. Most helpful because of the Subdue sub-addon
  • TrackMaster: Subdue: draws a vector to your weapon when you’re disarmed
  • AuraMastery: allows user-specified tracking for abilities and resources with icons and sounds. I use this for providing an audio cue at 5PPs and for tracking healing debuffs on me

Here are the combat addons that provide utility value but are less critical, with most important listed first:

  • WalaTikiTimer: provides a panel that indicates the timer for the next flag spawn
  • SlingDing: tracks PPs visually with a 5-section bar

The following combat addons are strictly cosmetic:

  • KillingBlow: provides a visual and audio notification when you kill a player

Imports for the Aura Mastery Addon

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

5PP Sound Alert Aura

When you are at 5PPs, this aura provides the same sound when a PVP queue pops:

{['playSoundWhen'] = "All",['iconScale'] = 1,['iconEnabled'] = true,['iconSprite'] = "",['iconSound'] = 196,['iconPosition'] = {['left'] = 117,['top'] = 19,},['SimpleMode'] = false,['onlyInCombat'] = false,['iconName'] = "5 PPs",['showWhen'] = "Any",['iconText'] = {},['iconBackground'] = true,['Triggers'] = {[1] = {['Type'] = "Resources",['Name'] = "Sound at 5 PP",['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,}

Superiority AMP Aura

Let’s you know when this AMP’s buff is up. Strictly cosmetic:

{['playSoundWhen'] = "Any",['iconScale'] = 0.6999999880791,['iconEnabled'] = true,['iconSprite'] = "icon_Tick",['iconSound'] = -1,['iconPosition'] = {['left'] = 68,['top'] = 12,},['SimpleMode'] = false,['onlyInCombat'] = false,['iconName'] = "Superiority",['showWhen'] = "Any",['iconText'] = {[1] = {['textFont'] = "CRB_Header10",['textAnchor'] = "OB",['textString'] = "Superiority",['textFontColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 1,[3] = 1,[4] = 1,},},},['iconBackground'] = true,['Triggers'] = {[1] = {['Type'] = "Health",['Name'] = "Trigger 1 ",['TriggerDetails'] = {['Target'] = {['Target'] = false,['Player'] = true,},['Health'] = {['Value'] = 70,['Percent'] = true,['Operator'] = ">=",},},['TriggerEffects'] = {},['Behaviour'] = "Pass",},},['iconOverlay'] = {['overlayColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 0,[3] = 0,[4] = 0.75,},['overlayStyle'] = "Radial",['overlayShape'] = "Solid",},['iconColor'] = {[1] = 0.093652442097664,[2] = 0.72580647468567,[3] = 0.72580647468567,[4] = 1,},['actionSets'] = {[1] = true,[2] = true,[3] = true,[4] = true,},['iconBorder'] = true,}

Follow Through AMP Aura

Let’s you know when this AMP’s buff is up. Strictly cosmetic:

{['playSoundWhen'] = "Any",['iconScale'] = 0.6999999880791,['iconEnabled'] = true,['iconSprite'] = "icon_Tick",['iconSound'] = -1,['iconPosition'] = {['left'] = 139,['top'] = 12,},['SimpleMode'] = false,['onlyInCombat'] = false,['iconName'] = "Follow Through",['showWhen'] = "Any",['iconText'] = {[1] = {['textFont'] = "CRB_Header10",['textAnchor'] = "OB",['textString'] = "Follow Thru",['textFontColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 1,[3] = 1,[4] = 1,},},},['iconBackground'] = true,['Triggers'] = {[1] = {['Type'] = "Buff",['Name'] = "Trigger 1 ",['TriggerDetails'] = {['Target'] = {['Target'] = false,['Player'] = true,},['Stacks'] = {['Enabled'] = false,['Operator'] = "",},['BuffName'] = "",['TimeRemaining'] = {['Enabled'] = false,['Duration'] = 0,},},['TriggerEffects'] = {},['Behaviour'] = "Pass",},},['iconOverlay'] = {['overlayColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 0,[3] = 0,[4] = 0.75,},['overlayStyle'] = "Radial",['overlayShape'] = "Solid",},['iconColor'] = {[1] = 0.093652442097664,[2] = 0.72580647468567,[3] = 0.72580647468567,[4] = 1,},['actionSets'] = {[1] = true,[2] = true,[3] = true,[4] = true,},['iconBorder'] = true,}

The Power! AMP Aura

Let’s you know when this AMP’s buff is up. Strictly cosmetic:

{['playSoundWhen'] = "Any",['iconScale'] = 0.6999999880791,['iconEnabled'] = true,['iconSprite'] = "icon_Tick",['iconSound'] = -1,['iconPosition'] = {['left'] = 212,['top'] = 11,},['SimpleMode'] = false,['onlyInCombat'] = false,['iconName'] = "The Power!",['showWhen'] = "Any",['iconText'] = {[1] = {['textFont'] = "CRB_Header10",['textAnchor'] = "OB",['textString'] = "The Power!",['textFontColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 1,[3] = 1,[4] = 1,},},},['iconBackground'] = true,['Triggers'] = {[1] = {['Type'] = "Buff",['Name'] = "Trigger 1 ",['TriggerDetails'] = {['Target'] = {['Target'] = false,['Player'] = true,},['Stacks'] = {['Enabled'] = false,['Operator'] = "",},['BuffName'] = "",['TimeRemaining'] = {['Enabled'] = false,['Duration'] = 0,},},['TriggerEffects'] = {},['Behaviour'] = "Pass",},},['iconOverlay'] = {['overlayColor'] = {[1] = 1,[2] = 0,[3] = 0,[4] = 0.75,},['overlayStyle'] = "Radial",['overlayShape'] = "Solid",},['iconColor'] = {[1] = 0.093652442097664,[2] = 0.72580647468567,[3] = 0.72580647468567,[4] = 1,},['actionSets'] = {[1] = true,[2] = true,[3] = true,[4] = true,},['iconBorder'] = true,}

Recommended Esper Guides

Posted in Esper, Guide, PVP, Video, WildStar
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