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What Gaming Should Be

As an avid lifelong gamer, I try to describe what has worked well and poorly in games I've played, and in any given gaming scenario, to define how it could best be handled as a result.

Author: reillan

LotRO Champion Damage, Part 1

Posted by reillan Tuesday April 7 2009 at 6:19PM
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This is part 1 of a 278 part series (ok, I don't really know how many parts yet) on damage for Champions in Lord of the Rings Online.  I performed this research in an attempt to calculate the maximum amount of damage a Champion can do in a combat, and thus help newbies and pros alike improve their game.

The information for this posting is based on numbers from Mines of Moria, Book 7, Patch 1.  Because Turbine regularly modifies numbers to balance classes, this information could change.

In part 1, I will present information regarding weapon speeds and Dual Wielding.  This topic has been argued often in the forums, with little definitive research behind it.  In future parts, I will also provide information on whether a 2-handed weapon or dual-wielding is better, Fervour versus Ardour, and power management.

For those without the patience to read this whole article: I prove that you can see approximately an 8.5% increase in DPS if you use a 2.3 weapon in your Main Hand, and a 1.7 weapon in your Off Hand, assuming all other things are equal.  You can potentially see greater returns from slower weapons in the Main Hand, diminishing returns from faster weapons.


Part 1 - Weapon Speeds and Dual Wielding

The theory among the conversations on the Champion forums has long been that when a Champion wields two weapons of different speeds, the speeds average together.  The theory means that if a weapon with a speed of 2.3 (meaning, for the uninitiated, that the weapon attacks every 2.3 seconds) and a weapon with a speed of 1.7 are used together, the speed they will both attack with is 2.0 - the slower weapon will be sped up, while the faster weapon will be slowed down.

My theory is this: since a slower weapon deals more damage in a single hit, if a slower weapon and faster weapon are paired, and the slower weapon is in the Main Hand, then that greater damage will be applied through the additional attacks to result in additional damage.

If a Champion uses only auto attacks and skills that use both hands equally (there aren't any, but for the sake of argument let's say there are), then any difference in speed for the two weapons would be unnoticeable - that is to say, the raw DPS of each individual weapon is all that would matter, and it would matter equally across all weapons regardless of speed.  However, as I mentioned above, there are no skills that treat two weapons equally. 

There are two factors involved in how unequally weapons are treated: The first is the number of main hand and off hand attacks utilized by each skill; The second is bonus damage provided by each skill, which I'll get to shortly.

There are three possible combinations of weapons based on speed: Both weapons can have identical speed, the Main Hand can have a slower speed than the Off Hand, or the Main Hand can have a faster speed than the Off Hand.  My theory is that one of these - specifically, Main Hand slower than Off Hand - is superior to other combinations when determining damage output.

The following chart shows how many Main Hand (MH) and Off Hand (OH) attacks each of the champion's attack skills use (please note: clobber and hedge are left off of this list - the former due to the fact that clobber's damage is not reported in the current patch, and hedge generates identical damage regardless of weapon):

Number of Attacks
Rend 1 0
Wild Attack 1 1
Fighting Dirty 1 0
Blade Wall 1 1
Feral Strikes 2 1
Swift Strike 1 0
Brutal Strikes 2 1
Bracing Attack 1 1
Raging Blade 2 1
Hamstring 1 0
Ferocious Strikes 2 1
Horn of Gondor 1 0
Merciful Strike 1 0
Blade Storm 1 1
Relentless Strike 1 1


In this list, I colored the 5 skills that have equal numbers of attacks between MH and OH to make it easier to see those skills.  Every one of the other 10 attacks obviously deals more damage from the MH than the OH, due to having more MH attacks than OH attacks.  This means that MH damage is more important than OH damage for at least these skills.

But does that rule play out across all skills, and is the increase significant?  To understand the answer to that, we must also examine how bonus damage from the individual skills is applied in Dual Wielding situations.  There are several rules that govern this interaction:

  1. Every skill grants a bonus amount of damage to attacks made with the Main Hand.
  2. No skills (with two exceptions) grant bonus damage to attacks made with the Off Hand.
  3. Bonus damage is contingent on the speed of the individual weapon in that hand.  This means that a weapon with 2.3 speed will receive the same bonus for that skill regardless of whether it is paired with a 2.4 speed weapon or a 1.7 speed weapon in the other hand.  Where applicable, the other hand receives the bonus specific to its own speed.
  4. Bonus damage is also boosted by Fervour and Ardour (when used with a legacy), and reduced by Glory.  It is not increased by racial bonuses.
  5. Bonus damage increases as the champion levels up, but does not increase with increased weapon damage.  A level 60 champion will receive the same bonus for Rend regardless of whether he wields a level 1 sword or a level 60 sword.

(The two exceptions to rule #2 are for Brutal Strikes and Ferocious Strikes, and since their exceptions involve extensive discussion, I will answer those separately.)

Because of rule #3, even our green-colored skills in the table above receive at least a small bonus from differing weapon speeds by virtue of the fact that they get a slightly larger amount of bonus damage from being used with a slower Main Hand weapon. 

But first: here's a table showing damage bonuses for 4 weapon speeds:

Skill damage bonuses, by weapon speed
  2.3 2.0 1.9 1.7
Rend 9 7 6 6
Wild Attack 9 8 8 7
Fighting Dirty 9 8 8 7
Blade Wall 14 12 12 11
Feral Strikes 17 15 14 13
Swift Strike 18 16 15 13
Brutal Strikes 19 16 15 14

Bracing Attack

27 23 22 20
Raging Blade 27 24 23 20
Hamstring 36 31 30 27
Ferocious Strikes 54 47 45 40
Horn of Gondor 59 52 49 44
Merciful Strike 105 92 87 78
Blade Storm 137 120 114 102
Relentless Strike 158 137 131 117


To explain how this data can be extrapolated into raw damage numbers to prove or disprove my theory, I'd like to analyze just a single skill - Feral Strikes.  I have chosen this one for a reason, and I'll get to that shortly as well.  Let's assume that we're using a fully-loaded 2nd age weapon, so that our DPS is 41.9.  With a 2.3 weapon, that's 96.37 damage per hit; 83.8 with a 2.0 weapon; 71.23 with a 1.7 weapon.  With the Feral Strikes skill, we see that we do:

Feral Strikes
  MH Damage OH Damage Total Damage Total Time DPS
With 2 2.3s Weapons 2 * (96.37 + 17) 96.37 323.11 2.3s 140.48
With 2 2.0s Weapons 2 * (83.8 + 15) 83.8 281.4 2.0s 140.70
With 2 1.7s Weapons 2 * (71.23 + 13) 71.23 239.69 1.7s 140.99
With MH 2.3 and OH 1.7 2 * (96.37 +17) 71.23 297.97 2.0s 148.99


Now, hopefully, the disparity between speeds makes a bit more sense.  When using different-speed MH and OH weapons, I get more damage bonus in the MH Damage column, but less in the OH damage.  The smaller value in the OH damage column cannot make up for the greater damage in the MH.  In fact, I've just increased my damage over time by 6.1% over using  two 2.3s weapons.  

Now, the reason I chose Feral Strikes is that it's actually slightly BELOW the average for damage increase created in this fashion.  Here's a complete chart showing damage for three dual-wielding situations.

DW DPS Values
  2.3 & 1.7 Both 2.3 Both 2.0

Increase of

2.3&1.7 vs. 2.3

Increase of

2.3&1.7 vs. 2.0

Wild Attack 88.3 87.7 87.8 0.7% 0.6%
Blade Wall 90.8 89.9 89.8 1.0% 1.1%
Bracing Attack 97.3 95.5 95.3 1.8% 2.1%
Brutal Strikes 164.6 156.8 156.0 5.0% 5.5%
Ferocious Strikes 245.6 233.8 244.4 5.0% 0.5%
Feral Strikes 149.0 140.5 140.7 6.1% 5.9%
Blade Storm 152.3 143.4 143.8 6.2% 5.9%
Raging Blade 159.0 149.2 149.7 6.6% 6.2%
Relentless Strike 186.9 173.4 173.3 7.8% 7.9%
Rend 52.7 45.8 45.4 15.0% 16.0%
Fighting Dirty 52.7 45.8 45.9 15.0% 14.8%
Swift Strike 57.2 49.7 49.9 15.0% 14.6%
Hamstring 66.2 57.6 57.4 15.0% 15.3%
Horn of Gondor 77.7 67.6 67.9 15.0% 14.4%
Merciful Strike 100.7 87.6 87.9 15.0% 14.5%


Average DPS increase: 8.52%


Special Exceptions

Relentless Strike deals 150% damage with MH, plus bonus damage, rather than 100% as most other skills do. 

Brutal Strikes and Ferocious Strikes have 105% and 130% damage (respectively) for attacks, and this bonus damage applies to both MH and OH damage.  Because each attack has only one OH attack and two MH attacks, each still receives a benefit from using slow MH, fast OH.  Additionally, both attacks for these skills receive bonus damage contingent upon weapon speed, and that damage is applied specifically to the hand based on the speed - that is to say, if the MH has a speed of 2.3, it receives +39 damage to both MH attacks for Ferocious Strikes, and if the OH has a speed of 1.7, it receives +28 for the single OH attack on this skill.

Fervour et. al. applies to both the base damage and the bonus damage.  Because of this, the difference between differing-speed weapons and identical-speed weapons remains the same % difference.

Flurry is also applied to both equally.  Changing the numbers in my Feral Strikes table to utilize traited Flurry at 20%:

Feral Strikes with Flurry
  MH Damage OH Damage Total Damage Total Time DPS
With 2 2.3s Weapons 2 * (96.37 + 17) 96.37 323.11 1.92 168.58
With 2 2.0s Weapons 2 * (83.8 + 15) 83.8 281.4 1.67 168.84
With 2 1.7s Weapons 2* (71.23 + 13) 71.23 239.69 1.42 169.19
With MH 2.3 and OH 1.7 2 * (96.37 + 17) 71.23 297.97 1.67 178.78


Still a 6.05% increase in DPS.