What do the Numbers Mean (Part 1)?

13 09 2009

This is the first installment in a series of posts I’ll be putting up periodically (They’ll be interspersed with other posts). The goal of this series is to explore the relevance of the various statistics in the game. I’ve played a lot with different characters since the second Closed Beta, and knowing which stats do what is a key component to building an effective character.

The numbers, what do they all mean?

The numbers, what do they all mean?

We all want effective characters, right? No one wants to be a sitting duck for World PvP.

So we’ll take a look at some of the basic stats now. There’s more to be discussed in the future, but that’s why this is a series.

Warning: this is a long one. Every class has these stats, but only some classes care about some stats, so feel free to jump through to just the parts you care about.

Stats that can be acquired through early Mana Stones:

  • HP (Hit Points)

HP is a fancy, video-game convention for health. Two characters is easier to encode than six – go efficiency.

This one is pretty straight-forward: every incoming attack that bypasses all of your defensive attributes deducts from your HP. If your HP drops to or below 0, your character “dies.” Of course, Daevas are immortal, so your character doesn’t stay dead for long. Nevertheless, dying is a serious hassle (You have to wait for a rez or respawn at your obelisk, suffering a penalty either way). From a downtime perspective, death is the single worst devourer of time – avoid it.

So, staying alive is good – I’m glad our survival instincts are still intact. Now, how helpful is HP at improving survivability? I’d argue that it’s the best tool available at low levels. At higher levels, this may change, but HP is extremely powerful at the opening of the game. Why? Because every attack hits it, be they physical or magical. Parry and Physical Defense can help against melee, while Elemental Defense can help against spells, but HP helps against both. Moreover, every class can access the stat: there’s no need for a shield to get mileage out of HP.

From a survival perspective, HP is the last line of defense. You’d obviously much rather resist or dodge incoming fire, but I’ll wager that 100% avoidance isn’t a possibility in this game. If you can’t avoid every attack, then it’s best to be prepared for those attacks that will break through the front lines: a poor last line will only earn you more quality time with the Obelisks of Atreia.

  • MP (Magic Points)

This is the magical counterpart to HP. Every character in Aion has MP, and every character uses MP when executing special abilities. For Warrior and Scout classes, these stats are largely irrelevant: the latent MP regeneration of all characters tends to keep pace with the rate of use (their abilities are dirt cheap, in other words – MP is meant to be a non-issue, at least for fights under five minutes in duration). For Priest and Mage classes, however, MP plays a big role in gameplay.

Running out of MP isn’t dangerous on its own. 0 MP will not kill your character, but it will place you in a risky situation: without MP, you can’t perform any special abilities. You can think of MP as the fuel of your character: you won’t explode when you run out, but you’ll have to manually push your character the rest of the way home. Again, this is less of a problem for Scouts and Warriors: their normal attacks are likely enough to get them through to a rest point. Mages and Priests use at least some magical attacks, however, and their melee abilities are far less potent (Chanters excluded).

Narrowing the scope to Priests and Mages, how important is more MP? Having more doesn’t hurt – it’s a boost to longjevity, therefore reducing downtime. However, I’m hesistant to recommend it for anything more than a healing class; for dealing damage, there are better choices.

For Sorcerers, Spiritmasters, and offensive Clerics:
imagine that you’re in a car. Think of MP as your fuel tank, and Magic Boost as your engine. The stronger your engine, the better you convert fuel into energy. Likewise, the more Magic Power you have, the more damage you deal with each point of MP spent attacking. Meanwhile, increasing the size of your fuel tank will also increase the amount of energy you can produce; You simply won’t be able to produce that energy as quickly without a stronger engine. Increasing your MP does the same thing: you’ll be able to deal more damage, but your damage per second will not improve.

For Chanters and defensive Clerics: if you’re running out of MP in your healing career, stack on more MP. As far as I can tell, Magic Boost does not influence the strength of healing spells. At all. So, until MP regeneration stats appear in the late game, more MP is the only way to improve your healing capacity.

  • Attack

For physical damage dealers, this is the bread and butter of your damage output. Attack will increase the damage of melee or ranged auto-attacks, as well as the damage of all special attacks that deal physical damage. The base damage of your physical attacks and skills will be one additional point higher for each point of attack you have. That is, if I have a physical attack skill that hits for 20-30 damage, then acquire a new gear piece of gear with +3 attack on it, the skill will hit for 23-33 damage.

How valuable is Attack? In terms of PvE content, it’s likely the most important stat for dealing damage. Attack scales consistently forever; there are never diminishing returns on the value of Attack. The only caveat is to make sure you have enough Accuracy in your gear to avoid being parried and dodged all the time (Note: you’ll never see the word “Parry” spring up when your attacks are parried, as they do when you parry an incoming attack; speciously low numbers are the best indication of having insufficient Accuracy). Physical Critical Hit is also valuable, but is not as reliable (especially in shorter fights). Crit also suffers from diminishing returns late in the game.

For PvP content, Attack becomes less important. Making your critical strikes as likely as possible will quickly outweigh the benefits of increasing the damage of every attack by a little bit. Why? Because a healer sitting on your target will be able to keep up with a steady stream of damage; sharp bursts that are less predictable are your best chance for dropping your target before the healer can react with a big heal. Attack still matters in PvP (bigger crits are bigger), but Crit should take priority until Crit starts to suffer from diminishing returns.

For casting classes, avoid Attack. Attack has absolutely no bearing on your spells, so you won’t hit any harder for having it.

  • Accuracy

This stat is a good thing: Accuracy makes your physical attacks more likely to connect. Rule of thumb: if Attack makes it harder, Accuracy will make it hit more often.

Aside for Math Junkies ahead. On each physical attack, your accuracy is compared to the Dodge, Parry, and Shield Block of the target (if applicable). I believe that each comparison is made independently; I’ll have to test numbers in PvP to get a more accurate model. For the moment, I’ll provide the best-guess equations that I’ve run across:

%ChanceToDodge = (DefenderEvasion – AttackerAccuracy)/10

%ChanceToParry = (DefenderParry – AttackerAccuracy)/10
Note: This requires the Defender to have a physical melee weapon equipped.

%ChanceToBlock = (DefenderShieldDefense – AttackerAccuracy)/10
Note: This requires the Defender to have a shield equipped.

Then, assuming that each of the above checks is performed independently:

%ChanceToBeHit = ((100 – %ChanceToDodge)/100 * (100 – %ChanceToParry)/100 * (100 – %ChanceToBlock)/100)*100

It’s a reverse equation, I realize – You’re the attacker in the above case, so the target’s chance to be hit is the same as your chance to hit the target. Again, I’m also assuming that each of these checks is independent because of a gut feeling; they could be dependant, and therefore added instead of multiplied in the last step. Something about the nature of this equation makes me doubt that, though; there’d be too many opportunities for exploitation.

To get mileage out of this in PvP, you simply need to read your opponent’s stats. take a look at some geared character models and you’ll see the kind of Evasion, Parry, and Shield Block they’re likely to have. For PvE, the problem is harder – we don’t have numerical models for them. So, time for hand-waving estimation!

for a normal monster of level X:

if 1 < X < 10: MonsterEvasion = 40 + 8*X; MonsterParry = 120 + 24*X; MonsterShieldBlock = 120 + 24*X
if 11 < X < 20: MonsterEvasion = 120 + 12*X; MonsterParry = 360 + 28*X; MonsterShieldBlock = 360 + 28*X
if 21 < X < 30: MonsterEvasion = 240 + 16*X; MonsterParry = 640 + 32*X; MonsterShieldBlock = 640 + 32*X

for an elite monster of level X:

Take the number found in the equation above and multiply by 1.5

So that’s some major hand-waving; I have no source for those numbers. They’re likely to vary level by level, and even across mob types. However, I believe the estimations are reasonable – the values are drawn from appropriate-level manastones, which I believe demonstrate part of the game’s expectation of growth.

Either way, those numbers should make a good baseline for physical DPS classes to look at: your accuracy should be enough to at least negate the chance for a monster to parry your attack (every monster I’ve seen so far can parry, even if they don’t seem to have a weapon). Once you reach that, lean towards Attack.

  • Physical Cricial Hit

A critical hit deals double damage to the target. Physical Critical Hit (PCH) increases your chance to score a critical hit with a physical attack (who would’ve guessed?). That said, how much PCH do you need to crit, say, 20% of the time? 50%? 100%?

The best-guess equations that I’ve found so far look like this:

for PCH < 450: %ChanceToCrit = PCH/10

for 450 < PCH < 550: %ChanceToCrit = 45 + (PCH-450)/20

for 550 < PCH: %ChanceToCrit = 50 + (PCH-550)/100

So, there’s a very sharp dropoff once you reach about 450 PCH. Until that divide, the rule of “1PCH = .1% Crit Chance” holds.

I’ll save theorycraft on the benefits of Crit versus Attack for another time. Both PCH and Attack are good, and both are likely to be rare, expensive stats to acquire. Your best bet in the early game is likely to take whichever is more affordable.

  • Magic Boost

For magical damage dealers, Magic Boost is your primary stat for damage output. This is how you strengthen your character’s engine, as I mentioned in the MP section. Warriors and Scouts can pass this section by completely.

I have no formulae for the conversion of Magic Boost into damage, but I can guarantee that it’s less impressive than the conversion of Attack into damage (Magic Boost is anywhere between 8 and 12 times cheaper as a stat compared to Attack, so it rightly provides less benefit per point). However, nearly every target you find in Aion is better at mitigating physical damage than magical damage; you don’t need such a strong conversion to get more power.

Note that Magic Boost only influences offensive spells; healing spells and roots/snares don’t care about how much Magic Boost you have (as far as I know). Thus, only stack Magic Boost if you’ll be casting damage spells; otherwise, look elsewhere.

  • Evasion

Evasion increases your chance to dodge a physical attack. Dodging an attack avoids 100% of the attack’s damage, as well as any abnormal effects the attack may have caused (poison, stun, stumble, etc.). It’s a very powerful stat in terms of survival. Such a powerful stat is likely to be rare, though; it’s about three times as valuable as Parry and Shield block, as far as the game is concerned.

But how much Evasion do I need to get a reasonable chance to dodge incoming attacks? For this, we can look back at the estimations I made when discussing Accuracy.

%ChanceToDodge = (DefenderEvasion – AttackerAccuracy)/10

So, every 10 Evasion you have over your opponent’s accuracy, you’ll have an additional 1% chance to dodge his physical attacks. Again, PvP values can be estimated by simply looking at your friends in other classes; whatever their stats are at a given level are good indicators of what you’ll have to deal with. For PvE estimation, we go back to my hand-wavy estimations:

for a normal monster of level X:

if 1 < X < 10: MonsterAccuracy = 120 + 24*X
if 11 < X < 20: MonsterAccuracy = 360 + 28*X
if 21 < X < 30: MonsterAccuracy = 640 + 32*X

for an elite monster of level X:

Take the number found in the equation above and multiply by 1.5

These values are purely speculation, but they’re likely to be a good model. The numbers will likely deviate from monster type to monster type, too, so melee-oriented classes may be more accurate; caster classes may be less accurate. If your Evasion is woefully below the base accuracy of these estimates, it’s probably a good indicator that Dodging isn’t a core quality of your class.

How valuable is Evasion, then? It’s truly the strongest avoidance stat in the game. being able to completely avoid attacks and their detrimental effects is amazingly good for survival. The stat is extremely expensive to gear for, however, so you’re likely to lose out on a lot of other stats if you pursue Evasion. And even fully equipping Evasion gear won’t grant you a 100% dodge chance against enemies of your level. In my experience, a reliable defense and sustained offense are the best attributes of any solo class. Dodging is great, but unreliable; the game is always going to get lucky, so preparing for those times often improves your survivability more than stacking an unreliable stat.

Scouts have a particular proclivity for Evasion. Leather gear is stocked high with this stat, and so building upon that value is likely in their best interest. Their survivability is subsequently spiky, but a good Scout won’t be targeted too often anyways. Other classes are less likely to find high Evasion on their gear; stacking the stat when it’s below the minimum needed to Dodge anything is a thorough waste of time – you won’t see any benefit!

Final Note: Dodging is Omni-Directional. Turning your back on a target has no bearing on your chance to dodge incoming attacks (As far as I have seen).

  • Parry

Parry increases your chance to parry a physical attack. Parrying an attack avoids 50% (estimated) of the attack’s damage, but not the abnormal effects of the attack. Parry is less powerful in terms of survivability than Evasion. Therefore, Parry is a more abundant stat than Evasion.

Parrying requires that a physical melee weapon be equipped; Bows, Spellbooks, and Orbs do not allow you to parry incoming attacks. So, if you’re a Mage class, you’re welcome to ignore everything that follows.

The Parry equation is identical to the Dodge equation posed above:

%ChanceToParry = (DefenderParry – AttackerAccuracy)/10

The PvE enemy accuracy estimations also hold here, if you want to have an idea of how much Parry you need to avoid incoming attacks.

So, how valuable is Parry? I personally find this to be one of the coolest stats in the game in terms of survival. Because the stat is cheap, you can exceed your enemy’s accuracy with sufficient Parry, and you can do so by a large margin. This results in a 50% reduction in a fair number of incoming attacks (not all of them, unless you stack the stat absurdly high, but some). Because the stat quickly results in a likely chance of parrying incoming attacks, this can support a reliable defense. 50% of the damage coming in is still significant, but the percentage reduction means that it will scale nicely as you progress (suck it, WoW).

The bottom line is, each point of Parry provides an appreciable chance to mitigate incoming damage from physical attacks; the damage reduction per point is the strongest available to lower-level characters. Parry is therefore a key survival stat for melee characters without a shield.

Final Note: Parrying is Omni-Directional. Turning your back on a target has no bearing on your chance to parry incoming attacks (As far as I have seen).

  • Shield Defense

Shield Defense is the shield-using melee class’s alternative to Parry. Shield Defense increases your chance to block incoming physical attacks. Blocking an attack avoids a portion of the attack’s damage; the portion’s size is dependant upon the shield. Weak shields block as low as 30% of the attack’s damage, while top-end shields block as much as 45% of the attack’s damage. Each enchant rank on a shield boosts the block portion by 2%, leading to a maximum current value of 65% blocked on an incoming attack. In all cases, abnormal statuses caused by the attack will pierce the block.

Blocking clearly requires a shield to be equipped. So, if you’re a Mage or Scout class, feel free to ignore everything that follows.

The Block equation is identical to the Dodge equation posed above:

%ChanceToBlock = (DefenderShieldDefense – AttackerAccuracy)/10

You can also look back to find the estimated accuracy of PvE enemies in the Evasion section.

So, Shield Defense is never quite as good as Parry (assuming that Parry does, indeed, stop 50% of an incoming attack). By and large, the stats are equally common, too. So what’s the appeal of Shield Defense, if it does less to keep you alive (unenchanted)? Templars have the added plus of inheriting some neat tricks in response to blocked attacks, but all classes that actively use a shield should probably look to Shield Defense instead of Parry to increase survivability.

The motivation for this is simple: The shield provides an absurd amount of Shield Defense, while the accompanying one-handed melee weapon provides only some Parry. Remember, reliable defenses will serve you better, even if they seem a little weaker up front. Because Shield Defense can get so high, it’s not unreasonable for a shield-user to block nearly every incoming attack. When every attack is blocked, you can expect incoming attacks to only deal 60% or so of their intended damage. Your HP thus has a reliable second line of defense that the other mitigation and avoidance stats can’t easily provide. It’s no surprise that Shields are designed this way: the best defenses should be reserved for the tanks of the game, after all.

So, if you want to get the most out of your shield for survival, stack Shield Block: the base boost to the stat that the shield provides should make getting a strong block chance relatively simple, so take advantage.

Final Note: Blocking is Omni-Directional. Turning your back on a target has no bearing on your chance to block incoming attacks (As far as I have seen).

End Installment 1

There’s plenty more to come in this vein, I’m sure: There’s the less common stats (Magical Accuracy, Magical Resistances, Physical Defense, and those core stats that you can’t touch). There’s also more to be said about prioritizing one stat against another when socketing in Mana Stones. I’m sure there will be more threads to follow thereafter, too: better estimation equations, different theories of stat importance, and more!

Is there something about the stats of Aion that you’re curious about? Is understanding these stats so deeply valuable, or is a gut feeling enough to get you through?



One response

13 09 2009

*Brain Asplodes*

Great guide, I’ll share this with my guild.

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