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Posted (edited)

I'm having a conundrum with picking actives: are primary attack abilities like Sap and Knock Down worth it when dual wielding fast accurate weapons (i.e. daggers, rapiers, clubs) compared to full attacks? By the same token, are pure DPS full attacks worth the dual wielding penalty?

Back at release the lack of a damage penalty on dual wielding full attacks made this a no-brainer but now I'm not sure how what the math really leans towards (except for Soul Annihilation, where it's clear that, no, the weapon in your mainhand doesn't really matter since the damage bonus depends entirely on focus)

 

For example is the 25% damage on mule kick a better actual bonus on one of those weapons than the +20%/+2 pen of penetrating strike once the dual wielding full attack penalty is factored in? Sap on a rogue feels like it's possibly straight up better than strike the bell except for the dot on 1h melee?

Edited by DubiousNixie
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, DubiousNixie said:

For example is the 25% damage on mule kick a better actual bonus on one of those weapons than the +20%/+2 pen of penetrating strike once the dual wielding full attack penalty is factored in? Sap on a rogue feels like it's possibly straight up better than strike the bell except for the dot on 1h melee?

several interrelated questions here:

- it's been a while since i did the math, but iirc in general the dual-wielding full-attack bonus is a sufficient enough penalty that it brings the damage in line with a full-attack 2h weapon (which is the same as a primary attack w/ a 2h weapon), though there's still an advantage in that dual-wielding weapons have lower recovery time and you get two attempts to connect. so 2w is still arguably advantaged, just not as obviously as much as before.

- compared to a primary attack, a 2w full-attack is basically a 1/3 damage bonus (w/ rounding) over a primary attack - you have a -35% damage penalty on each attack, which means if you just somehow duplicated your #1 weapon you get a 65% attack and a 65% attack = 140% net damage. so, a sufficiently high primary attack damage bonus would make up for not getting a full attack, but no, a mule kick's damage bonus alone would not do it.

- keep in mind that the explicit damage bonus isn't everything. mule kick also gets an accuracy bonus. Accuracy also lets you do more damage over the long run, by increasing your crits, hits, and grazes compared to hits, grazes, and misses. i did some math a long time ago and in general (ignoring low/high extremes) each point of accuracy seemed to translate to ~2% net increase in damage (not the same as 2% damage bonus. for various reasons, a 3% damage bonus also translates into a ~2% net increase in damage, so in this way might and perception are very closely balanced in general). so adding on mule kick's +10 accuracy, its net damage bonus is closer to 36%, which is comparable to a vanilla 2w attack, but that math quickly gets complicated once you start adding in more bonuses and penalties. (complicated enough that when i say "back when i did the math" what i really mean is that i created a script that simulated the equations involved for thousands of scenarios to figure out what a general trend line was)

- similarly, penetrating strike has a bigger damage bonus in practice than on paper, because you should really be using it when you need the PEN bonus. in that vein, +2 PEN can constitute as much as a whopping +200% damage bonus when it helps you go from -3 PEN to -1 PEN. it's getting so, so complicated.

 

in the end i would argue though that just looking at damage is not the point to focus on for many abilities. Damage is just there to sweeten the cake a bit for spending a finite resource for knock down/mule kick. Ultimately the point of knock down/mule kick is a powerful interrupt (i almost don't even care that mule kick gets disorient, except as a way to get further +10 accuracy from helm of the white wind). Ultimately the point of penetrating strike is to help dps down a hard target in underpen situations, not just for the +25% paper damage + full attack.

sap can be better if all you care about is interrupt and resource efficiency, but it's not supposed to fill the same role as strike the bell, so you need to be clear about what each ability is actually trying to accomplish. if all you care about is damage on a rogue, for example, you really have no reason to do anything other than spam crippling strike over and over, even compared to sap. but the rogue has plenty of other abilities worth taking for reasons other than efficient damage.

(and it's worth highlightging that on potd, enemies end up with so much health in high-level fights that optimizing for damage on finite resource abilities is not a great idea imo anyway, so in that sense penetrating strike becomes kind of a trap choice)

Edited by thelee
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, thelee said:

several interrelated questions here:

- it's been a while since i did the math, but iirc in general the dual-wielding full-attack bonus is a sufficient enough penalty that it brings the damage in line with a full-attack 2h weapon (which is the same as a primary attack w/ a 2h weapon), though there's still an advantage in that dual-wielding weapons have lower recovery time and you get two attempts to connect. so 2w is still arguably advantaged, just not as obviously as much as before.

- compared to a primary attack, a 2w full-attack is basically a 1/3 damage bonus (w/ rounding) over a primary attack - you have a -35% damage penalty on each attack, which means if you just somehow duplicated your #1 weapon you get a 65% attack and a 65% attack = 140% net damage. so, a sufficiently high primary attack damage bonus would make up for not getting a full attack, but no, a mule kick's damage bonus alone would not do it.

With rogues, though, Sneak Attack, Deathblows, Streetfighter passives etc. quickly drown out the full attack dual wield damage penalty. Say you're using a slow one hand melee weapon that's dealing an average of 15 base damage. A late game rogue will hit for upwards of 40 damage if they're just single wielding that weapon. If you apply the dual wield full attack penalty that really just goes down to 35 damage per swing. Since 2*35>>40 you really want to dual wield for full attacks on rogues, more so the more damage bonuses you have.

 

The one exception to this case might be for Streetfighters, whose -50% recovery time also drowns out the recovery time bonus from dual wielding -- in that case there's an argument to use 2-handed weapons instead for the greater base damage and better penetration on your basic attacks, at the expense of lesser damage on your full attack abilities.

Edited by NotDumbEnough
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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, NotDumbEnough said:

Since 2*35>>40 you really want to dual wield for full attacks on rogues, more so the more damage bonuses you have.

yes, like i said the math gets very complicated when you start adding in bonuses. the inversion nature of -35% penalty makes the math non-linear. the penalty is really really severe if you don't have enough bonuses to cancel out the inversion (you need ~+50% of damage bonuses to cancel it out), it's a worse drag than a multiplicative penalty, but then once you overwhelm it you get 1 for 1 gain out of every additional damage bonus - a massive step change.

it's also the fact that we're not comparing a 1h attack against a 2w attack in a real situation - i was using that just to illustrate what the net effect on a vanilla 2w attack after penalties are compared. in reality, you're probably comparing a 2h weapon to a 2w setup or (for a very niche or off-meta build) a 1h weapon to a 2w setup, and that adds more complications (a 2h has +1 PEN and effectively is a like 1h attack but with a 30% multiplicative damage boost plus a +15% additive damage boost, a 1h has +12 acc and a hit->crit rate). my head is starting to hurt.

 

anyway it doesn't change the tl;dr that dual-wielding full attacks are generally advantageous across the board compared to alternatives for various reasons, and also damage is not really the main window one should be thinking about in terms of abilities, since OP was asking about ability selection. versus weapon styles; for weapon styles, i would dual-wield a rogue simply because i want to maximize the number of chances of landing a debuff or interrupting an enemy, versus trying to optimize the damage for like a handful of abilities you get to use throughout the course of a long fight. but for ability selection, i really don't think one should care whether or not an ability is a full attack or a primary attack. edit: rather, i think it should be the reverse - you pick abilities based on what they offer you and then you choose a weapon setup that complements it (e.g. if you use more full attack abilities, then weight 2w more strongly) versus trying to optimize abilities purely based on full or primary attack and what they might offer in terms of raw damage.

Edited by thelee
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fwiw my initial point of comparison was dual wielding specifically because it's the case I find hardest to figure out - I guess once we're in the realm of rogue flanked attacks, superb or legendary grade weapons, other additives (like fighter weapon mastery or cipher lash) the dual wielding penalty becomes a bit less relevant

But also I get the point on not relying on finite resources for mere dps on harder difficulties, which is fairly sensible

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Posted (edited)

yeah, the -35% penalty--apart from being buried deep in the game mechanics--is hard to reason about, at the time it got added in, i saw it mostly as a "don't make 2w obviously the best choice across all weapon styles".

so imo the penalty shouldn't be seen so much as a penalty to worry about, just as something trying to keep the power level in place so you don't feel like a complete dummy if you decide to do 2h weapons for offense instead. they did the same for turn-based mode, except across the board.

 

(1h style is still unfortunately a very niche offense style)

Edited by thelee
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