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Age of Conan: Assassin Leveling Journal

Tips, tricks, theory, and my experience as I level an Assassin in the brutal world of Hyboria

Author: fazor3d

Lotus @ 60

Posted by fazor3d Tuesday September 2 2008 at 3:54PM
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Well, I finally have entered uncharted waters (for me); surpassing my first Assassin's level (56) and now hitting 60.

I haven't done much (as in any) PvP yet...so I can't comment on Impeede Life. I have done a bit of PvE however (Ran through 6 villas...for some reason it let me do the "Collect lady such-and-so's belongings" twice, plus finally did Villa Pateaus (can you tell I suck at remembering names?). Dinging at 59, I had 4/5 in Lotus Weapons and Flurry of Blows, so the 2 feat points for hitting 60 meant I could either cap them both off but get nothing new (boring!) or cap one off and put one point in the next thing.

I chose Lotus Weapon->Swift Ending. I love it. Again, haven't seen the effect on PvP yet but it's awsome PvE. Okay, so it's not *that* big of a deal for PvE, but those times where your second combo doesn't quite finish the mob off, they seem to die now.

The tool-tip says it increases the damage of your Flesh Rot and lotus weapons procs, and that it further increases them as the target nears death. I don't have any numbers yet...I'll have to check on the official forums. I don't know if additional points increases the increased damage, or if it's just "filler" to make you spend points to get the next teir's feat. We'll see.

 

I'll stick around, 'caus I won't flee from it.

Posted by fazor3d Wednesday August 20 2008 at 10:46AM
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(Post title from a Foo-Fighters lyric)

I'm still around, and still kick'n. I've probably had a total of 2 hours play time in the last two weeks. Still level 50, but I've been working on my gathering/crafting quests. Haven't even done the lvl 50 destiny quest yet.

Apparently there's been problems with FtD since the last patch (8/19/08), but I'm lotus and too low to have it anyway. Ambush was apparently changed and is now awarding a stealth-attack if preformed from hide. The animation is also apparently bugged. I'm not specc'd into ambush, but if the stealth-attack is an intended change I may spec into it in the future.

Maybe I'll get back to focusing on leveling soon...though I'm in no big hurry. The way things are going, by the time I hit 80 I might be the only player left on the server. Oh well.

Lotus Leveling: First Impressions

Posted by fazor3d Monday August 4 2008 at 1:53PM
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Well, I'm level 37 now, and as stated earlier (and in the title) I'm going lotus this time around. Since the 'ol blog's been slow, I thought I'd give some first impressions. Bear in mind that I still find the General Tree extreemely usefull considering my tendancy to forego questing/grinding to engage in random world PvP. Excellent Ballance, Escape Artist, and Agile Mind are all musts, in my opinion.

So as with Corruption, I'm near 40 and just now starting down the fun talent tree. As lotus, I feel a lot more underpowered this way, as some of the most desirable lotus feats (Golden Lotus Extract, Cat's Paw wich I'm now at 4/5, and Snap Kick) would be attainable by now had I not gone so deep in general right off the bat. But the thing is, I'm done in the general tree, so will quickly catch up in lotus. By 42 I'll have the afformentioned feats, then by 47 I'll go back and grab 5/5 in Deft Blades.

So damage wise, I feel weaker than a lot of equal-level assassins. Corruption assassins that didn't throw points in general really hit me hard. But lotus assassins are still easy to beat; they have their "sexy" feats but they expect them to work. When they kick you but you have EB up, it typically throws them off.

In three short levels I'll have my "survivability" feats, and once I grab Deft Blades I'll be putting out more damage. At this point, I still prefer corruption, but am enjoying myself as lotus (and, since I know what I'm doing now, have a Kill-to-Death ratio that's not in the black ;)). I'll keep ya posted.

Stop. Rewind. Repeat.

Posted by fazor3d Wednesday July 30 2008 at 10:30AM
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For anyone who happens to follow this blog, and not the official forums, I haven't updated in a while because I ended up re-rolling my toon on a new server so I could run with a different guild. Ah, the fun  of re-leveling a character.

The advantage (other than being in a guild that is more suitable for me) is that this time around, I'm leveling as Lotus. I'll more than likely end up corruption once I hit 70+, but this way I can have some experience with both trees.

So stay tuned for more lowbie-information, lotus-style!

Back and badder than ever (litterally)

Posted by fazor3d Tuesday July 22 2008 at 9:21PM
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Well, I'm back from vacation and am getting back into my 'Sin. I just can't seem to level him 'caus all I want to do is PvP.

Anyway, after reading about Ambush on the official forums, and after the announcement that they will reset re-feat costs to 0-counter (basically, no matter how many re-specs you've done, they're setting everyone back to 0) I decided to re-feat and pick up Ambush.

One of the other things I did was add hotkeys for my leeches (Vamp and Necrotic) and for health pots. Anyway, ever since I came back I've been doing dismal in PvP. At first it was partly from the lack of practice and the new keybindings. Tonight it was partly because I was trying to learn the new technique (Ambush), my new keybindings are still a little awkward, but mostly I've just been playing like crap.

AoC is all about player skill. More still, Assassin requires very close attention and near perfection. I'm off my game at the moment, but that's okay; that's what leveling is all about. I haven't been losing all my fights...but I'm not doing as good as I should.

Anyway, I think I'm gunna jump back on my laptop and respec to lotus before the patch, just because it's basically a free respec.

So, that means I'll be PvPing instead of leveling more--bad Thadias (that's my in-game name). Good news is I'll be able to give some comparisons between a lotus build and a corruption build.

And as a final note, there's been a lot of good advise and discussion on the 'Sin forums (offical) lately. Anyone that doesn't do so already should really check them out. It's a great community with fewer-than-normal trolls, and a lot of people that really care about the class.

Anyway, I'll check back in soon with some lotus notes (get it? eh? eh?! Yeah, i'm not funny).

Happy stabbin'!

At the coast

Posted by fazor3d Friday July 18 2008 at 1:03PM
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Okay, so this post will have very little to do with AoC. I've been on vacation this week, and cannot play. I haven't gotten to see the new patch or review the changes; by the time I get a chance to do so the next patch will be out.

But it's beautiful here in Maine (as I write this, I'm sitting on the third story of a quaint little inn, looking out over the harbor).

Anyway, happy stabbing to all the 'sins out there, and I'll be back in a few days to continue my journey to 80.

Balance and PvP

Posted by fazor3d Friday July 11 2008 at 8:55PM
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Okay, I was going to talk about my recent exploits as I've focused the past few days on nothing but PvP. But first, I think I'll take a moment to rant. Not about my class. Not about game mechanics or bugs. Not about updates or lack thereof.

I'm getting sick of people crying that the game needs balanced, and that their class (not just 'Sin, it's every class) is underpowered and at a huuuge disadvantage. Then as soon as their play style or abilities are questioned, they say "Well, my Kill/Death ratio is 20:1. But that's just because I can play through the problems!"

If you're killing people at a rate of 20:1, but want buffed for "balance"...I must be completely wrong in what my definition of the word "balance" means. I know, it's obvious that the people are a) Lying about their K/D, b) fluffing their stats with cheap kills and lowbie ganking, and c) completely oblivious to the fact that we know they're all idiots.

Yes, theres still fine-tuning to be done with the balancing. But how is it possible that every class is underpowered? That doesn't make sense (because it's not possible). How is it that every class is the "only class with bugs that affect major parts of their gameplay!"

[/rant]

Anyway, no the above is not a result of a bad week of PvP-focused play. In fact, I've had a hell-of-a-fun time ganking and being ganked. It's going to be hard going back to the leveling grind--except that I'm really excited to hit 80.

Tonight I had a blast in the E. Moutains (god I can never remember the name). I destroyed two or three barbs that were 7+ levels on me. I consistantly won against Guardians (the sheild nerf = 'Sin love). I killed some PoM's and ToS's. There was a 57 ToS that I danced with, before a bolt of lightning basically blew me apart in one hit. Ouch. I'll haveta look into how to not have that happen.

Bear Shammys have been a complete B*tch though. Even the one I fought that sucked beat me, and not because of knock-back heals--I'm getting a lot better about remembering Excelent Balance--but they have the "Crush Armor" combo that just about one-shots you. I dont know why you'd crush silk armor...it's just cause a wringle or a tear...but apparently 'Sins are so fashion concious that if their outfit gets messed up, they have a heart attack.

Necros have also been giving me a ton of problems. I use to just let them live 'caus every time I tried to fight one, the SA'd all but kill them, and they'd be dead before they knew they were even being attacked. Now they're (at least to me) hella-casters with some wicked DoTs and CC.

Demos are tougher too, it seems. But I still kill them pretty consistantly.

Oh well, pizza's on the way. And it's Friday. Hooray.

On dex, damage, and swift stikes

Posted by fazor3d Sunday July 6 2008 at 8:42PM
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Okay I know I've had a lot of updates lately, and no one really cares when I ding a level or two; but I thought I'd take some time and post an update on the things I tested over the holiday weekend.

First, spurred by a post on the Funcom forums, I took a look at +Dex and +Damage as it pertains to DPS. Remember, dexterity is suppose to contribute to a number of skills, but this is strictly talking about DPS.

To test this, I looked at two daggers; Duskfang and Cadillus. Duskfang contributes both Dex and Damage, while Cadillus only contributes Dex. Here's a screenshot for comparisons.

You can find the math I used on the forums in this post.

When you look at a weapon in your inventory, it gives you it's bare-naked stats; in otherwords, the stats of the item not modified by things such as your dexterity, or modifiers (including the ones on the item itself). So you can see the base DPS for that particular weapon. When you equip the weapon, the DPS changes to reflect your stats.

For a comparison, I looked at the "naked DPS" of the weapon, then the modified DPS with both duskfang's equiped, and with duskfang and cadillus equipped. This allows you to see how the different stats effect the overall DPS.

Long story short, I found that 1 +Damage translates directly into +1 DPS. +5 Dex translates into about .1 DPS.  Obviously, if you're looking to raise your DPS, you want to go with damage. The disclaimer is this: I was lvl 44 at the time of the test. I've heard rumors of a +damage cap; in other words, once you reach a certian +damage, adding more won't help you. I'm not lvl 80 so I can't test this yet. Also, I've heard rumors that +damage only helps in PvE, but not PvP. I haven't tested this, but I don't think it's true. It's common (and you see all sorts of posts claiming that) stats don't work or calculate in PvP. I think what a lot of people are missing is that they work, but PvP advisaries tend to have better armor, evasion, and resistances than PvE mobs, so it may feel you're not getting all your stats when in reality it's just that your foe's are stronger. Again, if I get a chance I'll do some testing to be sure.

Secondly, spurred by another thread, I looked at Swift Strikes. Someone was complaining that Swift Strikes sucks and is underpowered. They said they were lvl 35. At level 44 you get your next rank of Swift Strikes (SS V). At that point, cunning strikes is level VI. With my build (Corruption) I have Unholy Strength, which adds to the damage of Swift Strikes. Initially I posted that yes, as you level, Swift Strikes is way behind Cunning Strikes in damage, but at some point it surpasses it. I said that when I got SSV at lvl 44, I thought it met or surpassed CS. This was based on nothing more than watching the enemie's health bar while I fought, and how much health each seemed to take away.

Well, why should anyone take my opinion to mean anything? So I decided to start logging my combat and then take a look at things with AoCStats.com's parser. Well, At lvl 44-45, Swift strikes did about 70 damage per hit, and hits 6 times. Cunning strike hit for... well, I don't have the numbers right now, but I think about 370 and hits twice. So totaly, SSV did (on average) 420 damage and CS did 740. Again, those aren't the exact numbers but they're close. So SSV didn't do anywhere near the damage CSVI did. So why did I think they were even?

I don't know if it's because SSV hits 6 times, compaired to 2, which would mean more chance for offhand and other damage-adding procs. I haven't had a chance to go through the logs line-by-line, and the parser isn't that detailed.

Anyway, I did end up reaching 48 (49 now), and that means I got Swift Strikes VI. I haven't ran the log through the parser, but from eye-balling the combat log in-game, the average SSVI hit is 120-140. (times 6). So that would put SSVI ahead of CSVI.

So it seems that if you're corruption spec, SS surpasses CS at lvl 48. I don't know how much Unholy Strength adds to SS damage, if lotus SS doesn't surpass CS at 48 also, then I'm sure the next rank it would.

So there's the "research" I did over the weekend. I know the lvl80's out there will say "oh, you can't judge before 80!" or whatever, but those numbers should help those of you who are mid-levels like myself.

 

Good news!

Posted by fazor3d Friday July 4 2008 at 11:48AM
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I'm psyched! I found out there were some viruses on my PC. I had been suspecting this for a while, but finally got to the point where I knew it was something more than regular spyware/adware. So I installed some new AV software, and sure enough, there was a pair of trojans trojan'ing it up on my system.

Why is that good news? Because, after a lengthy but not difficult process, I successfully exterminated them. Still not good news? Well, now when I play AoC in Noble District and Field of the Dead, instead of 4-8 FPS I get a fairly consistant 20fps (modest, but extreemely playable). Woot!

So I took advantage of the rainy holiday morning and played through a bunch of FotD quests. Leveled from 43 to 46, which allowed me to fill out the Dark Weapon feat. Next I'll get Vampyric Nature and then Nec. Leech, which will add to survivability, which as always is awsome.

After that, I'll have to back-track to pad my feats enough to move on to the next teir. Since I'm not interested in decreasing the CD of my Swift Strikes, I'll put 3-of-5 points in Vile Corruption. I'm not stoked about that feat, but it's not bad either... nice adding DoT damage for PvP.

Anyway, I'll go though some combat logs and take a look, but I think with 5/5 Unholy Strength and the lvl 44 rank of Swift Strikes, that SS finally meets or surpased Cunning Strike as far as damage. And it's a two-button combo compaired to three.

I'll end by saying that each time I enter a lvl frame that people before me have complained about how weak we are at that stage (first it was 30's. Then 40's. Next will be 50-60), I'm finding I'm certianly not experiencing the same problems/complaints. Yes, that could all change when I hit 50, if the "50's sucks!" people are right...guess I'll find out when I get there. But plenty of people said 30s and 40s sucked...and I'm feeling more powerfull by the level.

Happy 4th to all you fellow American'ites!

 

Edited to add: Meant to include a link to my build as of lvl46. Here you go. Thadias' Lvl 46 Build

Full Update

Posted by fazor3d Wednesday July 2 2008 at 8:45PM
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Okay, so I was bad and ignored all the things around the house I should have done, so I could play my 'Sin. But, at least my deriliction of duties lead to some progress!

*Warning! Long post!*

I continued questing in the Noble District, with a lot of success and a lot of frustraition. I started with some quests out of the barracks that had me killing Nemedian soldiers and some boss mobs. Some 'tard looking for his ePeen started ganking me while I was engaged with mobs. I was lvl 41, he was a lvl 53 [Necro] (edit: sorry, Demo, not Necro). Don't get me wrong; it's a PvP server, you're free to be an idiot if thou wishes to be. But it's still annoying. But I did kill him twice and forced him to run away once. I won't pretend to say I won the overall "battle" ... he killed me many, many times. But the fact that I was able to kill him twice (from full health) made me a little happy.

Anyway, eventually I got tired of killing the same dozen or so mobs just to be cut down right before the boss, so I moved on. There's a quest to "Find the perfect insult" for the braggart in the bar, so I did that. It's nothing more than a "Run here, then here, then here... etc." quest. Easy xp. Then I talked to the dude to get into the arena for those quests. I killed the bear, then died to the panther. I should have killed it too, but wasn't on my A game. So I went on to some Villa quests.

Here's where annoyance #2 came. The first Villa I ventured into (which is not my favorite to begin with...never been a fan of indoor 'dungeon' quests) was the quest to kill Lord Camillus and free the slave girl. After tediously fighting my way through carefull pulls and white-knuckle  "oh shits" when adds jumped in, I finally reached the boss. I took my time clearing the room of all mobs, then started the fight.

Things were going well. I had him down to about a third health and had barely taken any hits. Then *poof* he teleports next to me. Cool, some varation on the standard melee fight. So I turn and hit him. He's now one or two combos away from death and *poof!!!!*  

...

...

...

...yeah, nothing. He's gone. I wait to see if it's like an ambush thing. Nothing. I run around a bit to see if he's retreated back, as in a multi-stage fight. Nothing. So I pop out to the forums. Yep...he's a known glitch'a'holic. His neat little teleport trick apparently quite often results in him teleporting downstairs (still playable), or in my case, into a wall and gone for good.

I'm not sure if you can leave the instance and redo it, but as I said before, I hate those dungeon levels. So a little downtrodden, I move on to the Villa quest to kill the 'sin that's broken the oath. Yeah that's vague, but if you've been this far you know what I'm talking about. If not, it's just a "go kill this mob" quest.

So, I suck it up and fight my way though another Villa. It says to use stealth and try not to kill the villa guards...but either I'm dumb, or it's not possible (or extreemely hard) to accomplish without killing. And, it didn't appear that there was any penalty if you did kill the guards. So hack and slash it was.

I kill the mobs that I need to move around freely, and avoid the ones that look like they'll be problem (4+ mob) pulls. After being more confused than an Alzheimers patient at a rave, I noticed "You can climb here" spamming my general chat window. These messages suck, as they trigger if the object is in your Line Of Sight, or almost in your LOS, or in your boss' neice's room-mate's cousin's LOS. So after some experimentation, I discovered the climbing vine in the far, far room.

Finally! Click!    ... "You need 350 points in climbing skill to use this". You mother f---ers!!! And I didn't have enough silver to reskill into it (nor would it be worth it for one quest anyway).

So that was two villas turned blood-baths that resulted in relatively low XP gain, and no completed quests. Bah!

...but I had been close enough to 42 that I did indeed ding. So I head back to the tavern, and decide it's time to give arena another go. Kill the panther. Yes! Kill the snow leapord. (Lvl 44 boss). Sweet! And that gives you new shoes. And yes, they're boots! No more f'n flip-flops! Woot!

So I decide to keep going. Next boss is a lvl 46 (boss) Tiger. Remember, I'm 42. So I give it a go. He hits like a truck, but even with a lot of mis-ques I get him to a respectable health before I die. Also discover there's a knock-back, so I'll need to use Excl. Balance. SO I res, rest, and try again.

I decide to open with a forward-lunge (to stun) and Swift Strikes, to generate a soul fragment so I can use my offhand wep proc skill for increased damage. Something seemed wonky, and I didn't get my stun, but I fight on. I do okay, about the same as the first...but I had enough mistakes where I think I can get it if I stop playing like a jackass. So I rez, rest, and start again. I try to lunge. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Am I tapping too fast? No. Too slow? no. WTF? Oh, damnit, I don't have my weapons drawn because my combo didn't trigger because I'm laggy. Sweet.

Needless to say, after spending 30 seconds attempting to lunge with no weapons drawn, I got my ass kicked. Stupid Thadias (that's my toon). So I rez, Rest, use backslash to draw weapons, and try again. This time I lunge. Didn't notice if I stunned or not, but hey, at least I'm not taking baby steps forward like a moron. I'm fighting good. I use my excl. balance. I pot just at the right times. He's down to about 20% health. But no f'n soul shards. Why can't I generate soul shards? It's going to be close... I NEED the offhand weapon boost. I'm almost dead. Still no shards.... then it hits me, like the cartoons with the light bulbs. I FORGOT TO RE-UP MY STANCE! Damnit!!!

Sigh. So again, another stupid mistake by me and another death. I take a deep breath and try again, trying to remember everything. This time I forgot to click my tombstones (there were two, so obviously forgot to click one the prior time aswell). Not a huge set-back, but combined with forgetting Excl. Balance == lose! I'm starting to think I've lost my mind...I'm not the world's greatest player, but damn. How many idiotic mistakes can you make?

So I go back in, remember everything, and fight. I do bad. Real bad. Did everything right, just had some set backs. Down to 2 health pots. I try one last time. And *finally* I kick that tiger's arse! Woot!

So I turn the quest in (they're awsome XP, by the way) and am 3/4ths way to 43. Got the boots and the belt. So I return to the streets, and finish the two quests I started with. A nice dagger comes from the barracks quest. And I also come across and kill the undead mother (another "go kill this mob") quest. Between the three, I ding'a'danged 43. Both points went into Dark Weapon...though I really should have gone Life Leech instead, but that'll come next.

I was continuing my random questing, but with much less vigor (was running out of steam), when suddenly I was looking at my Windows desktop, and a message box about the client unable to access memory or this or that or the other. First time I ever had the memory leak error (Annoyance #3), and as the program was dieing in the background, I could hear my toon being hacked alive in the streets. So now, i'm sure I lay dead in the Noble district, but am a bit wiser and have a renewed intrest in the Age of Conan.

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