Monday, September 24, 2012

Hell's Wall - Revisiting Duels

So back in early 2008 until 2010, my brother and I were really into this game called Duels. It was essentially a purely PVP game, and was probably one of the better games using the Pay-What-You-Want business model in its heyday.

Looking back, there were several reasons for its eventual downfall. The inevitable power creep left many old timers disgruntled, and this was coupled with the ill-advised decision to crowdsource the mathematical balancing factor of the game's development instead of merely taking dedicated testers who will provide feedback.

Anyway, this is a repost of an old article I had in the Burning Monks forums back in August 2008. This was probably what got me promoted from the ranks of the Freezing Monks so quickly. Originally titled "Hell's Wall - A Guide to Warrior Tanks", it was a build I worked on after the one I previously used was nerfed to oblivion and was probably my last foray into hardcore spading of game mechanics. One particularly interesting about this build was that it was ridiculously cheap to put together and could go toe-to-toe with the rich kids who pumped tens of thousand of dollars into the game.

While I've always sucked horribly at academic mathematics, I've always had a knack for tinkering with numbers found in video games. As a side note, the build I used which preceded this one was another product of noticing some numbers overlooked by the dev team. In retrospect, it was an error on my part to debut the build shortly before the annual championship events, which may have given me a good chance of winning a decent amount of cash. But I digress, so here goes.

The Long and Short of It
Once upon a time, I had an Ice Storm Druid, back when Ice Storm was actually playable. Hell, it was abusible [sic], they had to nerf it twice in my playing lifetime. Needless to say, I spec'd that character to a Magus Blood-less Insects Druid, which was okay(for a week). Then nerf upon nerf struck, and I was forced to play warrior, since I toyed with the idea of having a truckload of stamina and the awesomeness of Burning Powder. So here I am, playing a Stamina Warrior (and an IP mage, but that's an entirely different story).

Without further ado...

The Build
Be warned, the build sucks against Mage Tanks (IP) as well as those top tier Slow druids and to some extent, SP assassins and Strength-Stacking Sledgers. Nonetheless, the build was the most entertaining one I had so far.

Also, since the level cap is relatively new, this guide is generally aimed to cap out at level 40, with notes on getting to 45 afterwards. The goal is to stack as much stamina and armor as possible, using relatively cheap gear and to use one of the most underlooked actions in the General category, Burning Powdah [sec].

It's easy to obtain the 10-tourney win badge early with this build, based on personal experience.

120 points in Stamina. That's all there is to it. Again, I'll stress on the build abusing Burning Powder.

Skills and Gear
I was once thinking of going shield with this one, but none balanced out in the Armor to Wear/Max Power Ratio Category. Skills should include the following, which I recommend should be taken in the specific order provided.

1. Sword Mastery 4 pts (Lvls. 5 - 9)
2. Dual Wield 1 pt (Lvl. 9)
3. Armor Mastery 5 pts (Lvl. 10-14)
4. Quickness 5 pts (Lvl. 15-19)
5. Low Stance 5 pts (Lvl. 20-24)
6. Fortitude 5 pts (Lvl. 25-29)
7. Ambidexterity 5 pts (Lvl. 30-34)
8. Sword Mastery 1 pt (Lvl. 35)
9. Barbarian Battle Cry 5 pts (Lvl 35-40)

There's a reason for this specific order. Dual Wield should be taken early since as a Stamina Warrior, damage dealing sucks at those early levels. Fortitude is taken as soon as one is able to use actions, to abuse the hell out of Burning Powder. BBC is taken last, since it's in those levels where wands and resistable openers hurt the most.

In terms of gear, I highly recommend the EPIC Gatekeeper Set found here:

[dead link to equipment search page]

It's from DC III, but it's enough to keep you competitive enough without spending dollars on stuff like Tridents, Furies and Clamsticks. Other pieces of notable gear include the Demon King's Headhunter, the Sink Helms and Trinkets and the 99 power Benecian Gear for those times when you just need that filler to squeeze the last bit of HP into your character.

I'd recommend that members only Scorpoid as a pet, but I currently don't have the means to donate to try it out.

At level 40, you should have at least 4000 hp, enough to weather at least 10 turns of Talak's Transformation or survive and onslaught of 500 point Insect Swarms.

The Band Aids and Dynamites (or Action Sets)
A singular action set should take care of most threats.

1. Burning Powder
2. First Aid
3. Healing Potion
4. Burning Powder
5. First Aid
6. FILLER ACTION - preferrably Talisman of Death
7. Burning Powder
8. First Aid
9. Healing Potion
10. Burning Powder

Burning Powder is the bread and butter of this action set. It's ridiculously simple, being able to deal at least ten percent of your max HP over a span of five turns. It's stackable, which means two dynamites could be hissing away come turn 3. The heals extend your longevity, and combined with your sword whacking skills, those tiny bits of damage add up fast.

As a sidenote, I managed to beat that annoying Prophet Zalan the other day, using something similar to the following action set:

1. Concentration
2. Double Swing
3. Bash
5. Concentration
6. Bash
7. Double Swing
8. Concentration
10. Bash

I haven't had any success on doing this with my other characters, so I think it's good to note this.

The Road to 45
1.9 million XP is a pretty long way to go, especially if one doesn't have XP boosts. Which means what I'll put here is mostly theoretical.

The last 20 stat pts should pretty much still go to stamina. The 5 skill points depend mostly on you, but I'm considering the following skills:

1. Arms
Your Arms damage SHOULD suck. But it might just work on those IP mages, since they probably wont expect a 4k HP tank opening with Arms to switch to Energy Drain.

2. Defensive Power
Moar dodge and resist. Yay!

3. Fortified Armor
The recent increase in the level cap makes it possible for some interesting builds. This is pretty self explanatory. It might freak out the servers though, so I won't recommend it for skirmishing all day.

I don't really know about concluding this yet, since I've not yet reached level 45. What I put here is mostly based on personal experience. This is probably a budget build (Well, it is a budget build compared to a Trident), which should net someone a decent win rate. Plus, it's nice to get comments like, "ZOMG WTF HP IS THAT?!?!?!!111 4K!?!?!?!".

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