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Shields and Weapon Damage Ranges


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I have never really found Shields that great in Pillars of Eternity. I've tried them every build, and shield using characters to me are virtually useless.

 

I only play on Hard difficulty, so experiences may vary if you're playing on easy and normal.

 

To win encounters on Hard, you need to take stuff down as fast as possible. I find that offense is a better defense than defense is in Pillars of Eternity (at least, so far).

 

To me, it seems that the increased Deflection gained from wearing a shield is far outweighed by the downsides of wearing one, and building a character to be good at defense and using shields is even worse.

 

The best shield user I have been able to create is a Moon Godlike Fighter. You can get 20 Intellect with the right culture choice (eg. Old Vailia). I tried both maximum Constitution and maximum Perception to accompany my 20 Intellect, and I found that max CON was completely useless, but max Perception was okay.

 

For a Level 1 Ability, you want Vigorous Defense, it's an awesome defensive spell and gives you a big edge at the start of combat.

 

After that you want: Sword and Shield Style, Defender Ability and Wary Defender Talent.

 

You steal the BB Priest's off-hand Large Fine Shield, and her Boots of Evasion. As long as you equip the Boots of Evasion AFTER you activate Defender (doing it the other way is bugged), you can attain 116 Deflection at the start of the Backer Beta.

 

That's pretty big right ?

 

The high deflection absolutely makes a difference. There is a huge increase in survivability. Matt516 charted in our attribute paper that Deflection contributed more to survivability in combat if your Deflection was already 6+ points higher than enemy accuracy than Constitution did, at a rate of +1 Deflection vs +2% Endurance on CON. Endurance gain has not been buffed since the Attribute number tweaks, so Intellect far outweighs it in survivability most of the time now.

 

On Hard though, this build is trash. I've tested it against a few fights multiple times, and the MAX INT Fighter with the Shield absolutely can last longer in combat. The problem is that they have virtually no offensive output whatsoever. To offset this a little bit, you can try wearing no armor, since it doesn't have anything to do with defenses and it decreases your DPS. I found this to be a little bit more effective than wearing it in some fights but not by much, and worse against really high damage units - like Elder Lions.

 

The problem is that this character will still be attacking the same target they started attacking by the end of combat. Their slower recovery, 1H weapon hits and reduced accuracy (from shield use) has an abysmal damage output. Against armored enemies, most of the damage is soaked up by DR and you are often dealing single digit and minimum damage. Other characters that are built more offensively (such as all of the BB characters) will have already killed multiple enemies, while your Fighter has killed none, and dealt little damage.

 

On Hard there are more enemies in most encounters than party members and this requires you to often spread your aggro around. Now that some enemies actually have smarter targeting, they might go for some of your squishier characters and due to engagement, your Fighter can't really deal with it. Each extra enemy is another engagement that the party will have to deal with, and they add up. The more enemies, the less you want to (or can) move.

 

Because the shield-wearing Fighter has virtually no DPS output, enemies live longer through encounters and thus deal more damage to your party. This can often mean that you take more damage than you would have if you had another offensive character with 2-3 times the DPS output.

 

Building the same level 1 character with different non-shield based talents and equipping them with a two-handed weapon illustrates the difference. The character can actually down enemies in good time, and assist in other kills. You take less damage from weapon attacks due to the high intellect and you score lots of hits and crits and deal good damage with a two-hander.

 

There are a few problems attributing to the fact that building for Shield Use doesn't appear to be very viable, the first is that the accuracy penalty for shields is too large. Recently, many things in the game that gave +10 accuracy were nerfed to +6 accuracy. 1H weapon style was nerfed from +15 accuracy to +10 Accuracy. Shield use however was not changed. A Medium shield gives you -5 Accuracy, and a Large Shield gives you -10 Accuracy. I think this is too much, and I would suggest that values of -3 (Medium) and -6 (Large) be trialed internally instead.

 

The second problem I believe is because one-handed weapon damage ranges aren't "doing" what they are supposed to. Consider this recent quote from Josh Sawyer on Something Awful

 

PoE's weapons have fairly tight damage ranges. They can still be tuned more, but the general design goal is for one-handed weapons to have higher damage output against lightly armored opponents and for two-handed weapons to win out when DR becomes a serious issue.

Currently I do not believe that light and normal 1H weapons are meeting this goal, I am finding that against any DR at all, 2H weapons deal more damage for all characters except Rogues and sometimes Barbarians. Rogues can stack multipliers, the calculation of which currently I believe is not working as intended either, and apply DoTs at 5th level - so dual-wielding is often best for them for highest DPS. Barbarians also deal more Carnage damage from dual-wielding.

 

I think the weapon values have been balanced for 0 DR, which is the problem there.

 

The third problem is the (likely) bugged damage calculation. 2Hers deal more per-hit damage, and thus benefit more from multipliers (Might + Fine Weapon bonus + Crits + others).

 

I believe that addressing these three problems might make using shields a bit better. Currently I just avoid them, unless testing specifically for them.

 

However, I am only one tester and not everyone may have had the same experience as me, so what are everyone else's thoughts?

Edited by Sensuki
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well i can't say a lot about shilds, exept that i got the same feeling... i never gave my fighter a shild, as he goes down faster than without and does muuuch lesse damage...

As for weapons, like i said in an other post, the light ones don't get there chance to shine... in special if you compare shortbows to longbows... or a 1h sword with a wo hander...

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I agree with your conclusion that the accuracy penalties for using a shield are too high. But I would note from a roll playing point of view I don't mind that it allows you to build a fighter who can avoid damage but not really deal much. It's also possible that in certain parties that are focused on other higher damage but low survivability classes such as the ciphers, rogues, mages this can be made to work. Not optimally from a combat point of view but certainly enjoyable for some one who doesn't care about fighters and just wants them there as a movable shield for the characters they want to play with.

 

I also agree that Con seems pretty much useless compared to intellect and perception.

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Yeah currently War Bows are now the best ranged weapon, if you can crit with them anyway. You'll do no damage if all your hits are grazes, but if you are accurate, they're currently better than Arbalests and guns.

 

It's more of a problem on Hard because of the increased number of enemies. On normal, there's less enemies so if your Shield-using Fighter is holding off 2-3 enemies, then that might be good enough. This isn't good enough however when you're up against lots of enemies. You need that character to actually help take them down, so you can reduce the incoming DPS.

 

Like I said in the OP, it mostly just seems to be the combination of two small balance issues and a possible (yet to be confirmed) bug. I think fixing those will allow a more fair comparison of the fighting styles and builds than the currently skewed mechanics.

Edited by Sensuki
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Half the problem with this is that there are so many bugs with suppression rules, accuracy, damage modifiers, etc and all that that it's really hard to tell whether their intended design plays well or not.

 

Until they get rid of the bugs, it's really hard to say one way or another.

 

The other thing that seems really odd to me is that armor provides no deflection whatsoever. I would rather armor provide a very little amount of deflection (from 1-10) and more DR than no deflection at all. Recovery time is a PITA and DR doesn't make armor all that worth it just by itself. I have noticed that I end up getting rid of the plate armor as soon as possible and downgrading everyone to better quality low-tier armors ASAP.

Edited by Hormalakh
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My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

My DXdiag:

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/2014/08/beta-begins-v257.html

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I have noticed that I end up getting rid of the plate armor as soon as possible and downgrading everyone to better quality low-tier armors ASAP.

x10

 

edit: you can get around a lot of the suppression bugs by making sure you do things in the "correct" order. But some of them are unfixable. You can't take Weapon Focus at level 2 and then Reckless Assault at level 5 for the Rogue, as the Weapon Focus suppresses it (which is not intended).

Edited by Sensuki
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What are the maximum Accuracy ranges in BB?   What are the deflection range values of the enemies?  

 

I hate (love :) ) to pound the drum,  but DR would mean more if it got subtracted off damage before Crit mods were applied.   I think a shield should give extra DR and deflection and not pose any accuracy penalties under a pip or two in a relevant skill.  The DR could be negated by flails.  

 

With DR subtracted off before Crit mods, you could give light weapons Accuracy and Crit mod advantages over heavy weapons that wouldn't be seen until you got to lighter armor where the lighter damage overcame the DR.  This would , imho,  give the realization of Josh's weapon vision.  

 

The way mods are calculated right now,  any buff to crit or might just makes the weapon more effective and DR less so, doesn't matter which type of weapon,  it's like an impossible arms race to balance things against DR.  If you buff light weapons, they just become as effective as heavy, DR doesn't affect the balance at all.

Edited by tdphys
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Enemies usually have between 40-60 accuracy, I believe there are creatures with more.

Again, Deflection varies but yeah 40-60-ish is fairly common. I know that Medreth has 41, and the Cowled Dwarf Priest in his group has 67 or something like that.

 

DR means a lot vs one-handed attacks, currently ... without the multiplier stacking anyway. I think the way Josh described how it should work in his tumblr reply will be fine.

 

Note: that your 116 Deflection will be reduced to 106 if you become flanked, which is going to happen pretty easily on Hard, and then there's lots of attacks that reduce it further - being Stunned, knocked Prone, Blinded, various other debuffs. That advantage can be taken away pretty quickly.

Edited by Sensuki
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Enemies usually have between 40-60 accuracy, I believe there are creatures with more.

 

Again, Deflection varies but yeah 40-60-ish is fairly common. I know that Medreth has 41, and the Cowled Dwarf Priest in his group has 67 or something like that.

 

DR means a lot vs one-handed attacks, currently ... without the multiplier stacking anyway. I think the way Josh described how it should work in his tumblr reply will be fine.

 

Note: that your 116 Deflection will be reduced to 106 if you become flanked, which is going to happen pretty easily on Hard, and then there's lots of attacks that reduce it further - being Stunned, knocked Prone, Blinded, various other debuffs. That advantage can be taken away pretty quickly.

 

The problem is that the way they calculate things,  two handed weapons will always do more damage per hit,  light or heavy armor notwithstanding.   I realize that if you have higher attack speed and accuracy ratings for more crits due to light weapons, you'd probably do more damage over time with light weapons...  maybe that's what they wanted, but damage per hit will always be a heavy weapon specialty.    Actually,  it's probably more thematic to have it that way.  I'll stop beating my drum... :)  Things will be fine if they get rid of the super multiplication mods.

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I also play on hard, and I have the exact opposite issue, but I never build my characters like you do, and that might be the issue. It could also be that I favored chanters very early on, and part of their shtick is building up chants to unleash invocations, so to get the most out of them I need people that can survive until I can unleash Thrice She Was Wronged which typically kills everything.

 

You seem to keep building to extremes, for example the 20 int moon god-like fighter.

 

I have experienced great success with the following builds:

 

Chanter; 14 str/int/res/per, 10 con, 12 dex. This chanter has sword and shield style, hold the line, and ancient memory talents. I use a sword and shield and a war bow. The role of this character is to go where needed, but defaults to archery. I set up two different chants, and switch between them based on where the character is going to be. Burning weapons is on both chants, but one has the ranged weapon chant, and the other has the frost aura for when engaged in melee. With the Invocations, this character can also do massive AoE DPS, and my chanter typically tops the damage chart every single game, and has more kills than the rest of the party combined.

 

Ranger; 16 str, 8 con, 14 per/int/res, 12 dex. Sword and shield, and all other talents based on increasing damage. Another off-tank role, but is capable of locking down 3 enemies (pets can engage two at once by default). Extremely effective at eliminating single targets when working in tandem with pet, with damage levels somewhat comparable to a dual wielding rogue, but is significantly more durable.

 

Almost all hits on the ranger and chanter are grazes, since they both often have 90 deflection/reflexes with just fine shields, and usually end the beta with around 110-120 deflection and the high 90s in reflexes. The ranger can't really exercise the flexibility that the chanter can in combat role, since I found switching to a bow with the ranger will result in fewer solid hits because now the creature engaged by the pet isn't being flanked, and it feels as if my pets get hit a lot more often and a lot harder when my ranger isn't right there with them.

 

Story time: With my flexible chanter, I managed to get off three invocations in a single fight, in the ogre cave when I accidentally pulled all of the spiders except the queen in a single fight. Against a horde like that, the shield was vital until I could build up invocations to clear the room. I've also had great success with a greatsword and warbow combination on my chanter, but it is noticeably more fragile, but the damage is higher.

 

It's not that shields aren't useful, it's that they aren't suited to your play style. I often run with shields, since I find going without tends to result in way too much reliance on the priest to heal. Using shields, I can trek further and play longer without having to rest to recover spells and health, which also means I can keep the Dragon's Rest buff on longer, so everyone benefits from +2 to important combat stats for more fights.

 

Edit: In short, you keep building and playing utilizing "metaknowledge", which is fine. That's what you do. But if you were to play the game on release, you won't have that knowledge, and that's where a shield is going to be extremely valuable. You won't know ahead of time what every single encounter is going to be like, so you won't be able to min-max it like you currently can. 

 

Edit2: (I should've waited before posting) I'd also argue that balancing against min-max, for every single aspect of the game, is a nightmare. Somethings are going to be more powerful than others in certain situations, that's how it's always been on single player RPGs. I don't think that the difference between 2h and sword and board is even close to as great as you make it out to be.

Edited by Sock
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I don't think I've ever had a fight go long enough to get off three invocations. Usually it's just one, sometimes I will get a second one off, but by then combat is pretty much over anyway.

 

Chanters make every fight a lot easier because of the DPS increase from the flaming weapons, and some of their invocations. Since they are not daily resources, you can use them every encounter. I would rank them the second best class at the moment behind Druids. If you took your Chanter build and used like a Pollaxe or Morningstar instead, you'd probably have a lot more total damage across a playthrough. I'm also pretty sure that Dex still isn't working properly, so I don't even bother touching it.

I agree that melee ranger is actually better than ranged. 

I also don't always build to extremes, but I tend to have maximum Perception pretty much all the time.

What do you mean by the exact opposite issue?

Edited by Sensuki
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I think it's a case of he's using the Chants for most of the damage, so when playing with the shield he has high deflection so takes less damage and thus is able to play for a lot longer as he's using per encounters. While if switching to two handed weapons the ratio of damage to health lost is less favourable and thus play until rest time decreases (even if he maybe killing them slightly quicker due to the higher attack damage).

 

This is partly a result of the shield usage and partly a result of the less min/maxed char, as the accuracy bonus for the spell cast by the char is probably playing a bigger role than the attribute bonus.

Edited by aeonsim
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Responding to Sock's edits: Even though you may have a different opinion on the efficacy of using shields, do you think the accuracy penalty is a bit much ? As that is really the only thing outside of bug fixes that I recommended. The other two are problems not related to shields, but affect shields.

 

Ideally, shields should be more beneficial for more classes IMO - I will give that build of yours a test another time and see how I go. Probably won't use the same stat array though, but INT is great on chanters because it increases AoE as well, one of two (Paladin is the other) classes that it is really good for.

Edited by Sensuki
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I find myself crippled whenever I don't use shields. My fighter goes down and then everyone tumbles along right after them. Utilizing the damage increase from using 2h weapons is a lot more proactive, while my play-style is more reactive. My typical setup for beta:

 

Fighter with sword and large shield from priest, benefits from the knight weapon spec for increased accuracy and damage, and the two damage types helps in most situations (if I could re-pick talents, then he would use a mace instead). Priest uses blunderbuss and pike, and tends to be mid-range, and I often take the gunner talent. Rogue dual wields daggers (not stilettos), and goes all out offense, reckless assault, and the talent... bloody mess? I forget what it's called, it increases crit range vs low endurance target and crit multiplier. Wizard uses rod, and dangerous implements. They tend to keep these roles throughout the play through.My rogue frequently is the weak point in my party, though, and is often the only one suffering from health issues. When her health gets to the red, I switch her to the hunting bow, but it's not long after that that the rest of the party starts to suffer because she's not going around eliminating targets.

 

If chanter: My chanter will support the rogue at range, and the adventurer I create tends to be a more dedicated off-tank, like a paladin. When rogue gets damaged and I switch her to a primarily ranged role, then chanter takes on a more melee focused one.

 

If ranger: My ranger is the primary off-tank, and focuses on grabbing it all. Fighter and Ranger are able to lock down 6 targets, rogue can lock down 1, and priest and lock down 1 if needed. That's 8 engagement slots. My adventurer will typically be a chanter with a war bow who sits next to the wizard, using ancient memory to off-set dangerous implements. 

 

Typically, my approach to combat is to lock down engagement, and create opportunity once I see how the battle is laid out. If the rogue is engaged by more than 1, I try to free it asap, since it is not an off-tank role. When using the chanter I need a somewhat static battlefield, so the longer my people can survive the more effective the chanter will be. I like to react to the situation as opposed to meticulously plan it out and then set it into motion.

 

It's the same results in the end, just different play styles. I don't use my fighter for DPS, that's not his role so I'm not concerned with his damage. He just has to lock down 3 targets and let me ignore him while the rest of the party cleans up.

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When I trialed a high Deflection character with a shield, that's what I would use them for - keeping a few enemies off the party while the party mopped up the rest. I found that because that character was not built offensively, my other characters took more damage from combat (eg. against large beetle groups) because they were not able to take the group down as fast as when I had an offensive character. I think it might end up working better at higher levels, when you get access to Abilities like Confident Aim.

 

I never run the same party like some others do, I try all sorts of different stuff. Unfortunately in this build, making custom parties doesn't always work so I've been using the BB party more. 

I also do a lot more isolated test cases than full runs because my PC has stuttering and performance issues in the dungeon areas (not sure why but it might be related to my CPU architecture), often when I get down to the Dyrford Ruins and start getting 20 FPS, I just don't want to play anymore.

So I'll do fights like Medreth, Beetles, Spiders, Nyfre, Drake Egg guys, Lion groups, Druids a few times in a row with the same comp, and then make another character and do the same fight again.

The game does need to be tested for all sorts of scenarios, currently if any party has a Druid or a Chanter in it (or both), everything becomes noticeably easier IMO. I try testing a lot without them.

Edited by Sensuki
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As far as the accuracy issues go, it tends to be a non-issue for me. I don't look at my tanks as sources of damage, I look at them as tanks, who never get damaged while my more DPS-centric characters can take advantage of not being hit to clear the room. Everyone has a ranged weapon, so if the fighter has everyone locked down in a choke point and no one can get past him, then everyone just pew-pews away, it is still effective and the fighter does not suffer any damage.

 

I like to minimize my time spent resting, so I rely heavily on per-encounter abilities, which means that fights tend to drag on for longer, but my time is a resource that is not limited by the game in any way.

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I also prefer longer adventuring days. Classes that have replenishing resources in PE tend to perform a lot differently than classes with per-rest spells.

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Beetles are absolutely an issue, but I think they are the exception, not the rule. They can burrow past the front line and do ridiculous damage while also being fairly durable against all damage types except crushing. Still, I can frequently clear every map area without having to rest.

 

I would love to experiment with a new party, but the bugs with that prevent me from doing so. So, I have to work with what I have, and I really dislike most of the BB character builds. A melee chanter with a rogue using a blunderbuss is something I really want to try, since the frost chant applies hobble which enables sneak attack, and the blunderbuss gets off 6-8 attacks in a single shot. I also dream of a dual battle axe wielding rogue who pumps out ridiculous crit damage. 

 

I want the following party:

 

Ranger (M), Rogue ®, Paladin (M), Druid ®, Chanter (M), Priest (M/R). 

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They'll be fixed in the next build. I brought the issue up on Something Awful about creatures with imba damage, and Josh has been tuning creature attacks down - as they were not tuned after the % DR removal.

 

Dual battle axe wielding rogues were something that internal QA used to do, that resulted in the nerfing of the battle axe crit mult and some rogue stuff. I actually don't like slashing weapons in the beta, I prefer crush and pierce, or best/of weapons. No character armors are vulnerable against slash and many of them have higher DR against Slash. A majority of the creatures are also resistant to slash, but pierce and crush seems to work very well against most things.

 

The battle axe crit mult would probably offset that in many cases though and it be good against Lions, Spiders and Wolves, at least.

Edited by Sensuki
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