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The building of a Combo: A story of frustration, bugs, and triumph


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#1 EatThisShoe

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 03:29 PM

So I came up with, what in my humble estimation was a brilliant combo. I had just recently learned that Arcane Power combined with Elemental Surge would proc off every attack, with five charges this had huge potential. The heart of the combo was to use Arcane Power and Elemental Surge to land a guaranteed crit Churning Earth on an immobilized target. The specifics were up to testing, but my initial plan was to use Magnetic Grasp which has 2s immobilize already, stack extra from Arcane Power and that's 3s of immobilize, perhaps with some +condition duration to smooth things out. With the immobilize from Arcane Power I suspected I could work an Earthquake in and the added immobilize would cover the cast time and let me get some hard CC to give my victim less time to cleanse the immobilize.

I had previously set up Churning Earth combos with Elemental Surge + Arcane Wave. That combo was Earthquake -> Churning Earth -> Arcane Wave when the knockdown from earthquake wears off. But this combo was different, I hoped. Churning Earth can hit like a truck, and the guaranteed crit from Arcane Power was the real draw. Elemental Surge was meant as a way to fit a solid lockdown to land the Churning Earth into a single utility slot.

But sadly, the blissful fantasy of theorycraft crashed into cold hard reality. I tried to execute the combo on some training golems. It didn't work. And when I say it didn't work, I mean almost every aspect of the combo did not work as expected. For starters my immobilize didn't seem to last long enough. And then Churning Earth did hit, after the immobilize expired, and it didn't crit.

Well I can be tenacious at times, and I've worked QA bug testing video games. I really wanted to get this combo to work, and I'd be damned if a half dozen bugs were going to stop me. So I set to work experimenting, to figure out exactly what was broken and how. The first thing that worried me was the shorter than expected immobilize time, I expected to need some condition duration to cover the travel time on Magnetic Grasp, but I had grasped a golem, and had the immobilize wear off before I got out of animation. I was certain Elemental Surge was sorking, I tested it, but it didn't work with Magnetic Grasp, it didn't stack immobilize durations, even a build with 40% condition duration couldn't get a decent length immobilize.

And then there was another problem, Churning Earth wasn't critting. I played around with the various immobilize and crit triggers for a while and came to the conclusion that while Churning Earth could crit from Arcane Power, it tended to consume all of the charges, and if I had less than 5 charges the Arcane Power buff would expire mid cast, and fail to crit. I thought it must be triggering off the cripple. I tried casting Churning Earth with no targets in range, then Lightning Flashing to my target, it still ate all charges, it still didn't crit if I had used any charges prior. It didn't matter if I was hitting anything, it was eating charges for no reason at all.

So I decided on a change of approach, first I would isolate each problem and tackle it in turn, first was the immobilize. Instead of using D/D I switched to S/D and figured I could burn three immobilizes off a single Stone Shards setting up my target with a 3s+ immobilize. It didn't work... But this was my first insight into what was wrong. The immobilize on Elemental Surge doesn't stack. I tested it with Signet of Earth, the 3s immobilize was overwritten by a 1s immobilize from Arcane Wave. Now I knew why Magnetic Grasp felt so short. I don't even think the 40% condition duration was applying at all. Fantastic.

At this point I attempted to tackle the Churning Earth crit problem. This turned out to be surprisingly easy. If I activated Arcane Power mid to late in the animation it didn't burn all the charges, in fact it seemed like it might only consume one. And finally I had my answer, the combo I was seeking was in sight, inspired by my original approach of using Arcane Wave. This time however I would use one often overlooked skill: Hurl.

So here's the combo: First you bring up a rock barrier. Next you need to catch your target in an Earthquake and chain that into Churning Earth. Once Churning Earth has started casting activate Hurl, then after about 2 hits around when the victim is standing up from the Earthquake activate Arcane Power causing your remaining hurls to crit and add immobilize (they wont stack but they hit fast enough they don't need to) holding the target in place for the final second or so. And if you time it just right, and I believe it's necessary to let a few hurl rocks not crit first, you should get a guaranteed crit on Churning Earth on an immobilized Target. I haven't got the timing down yet myself, so I could off on exactly how you execute the Hurl/Arcane Power part, but I've done enough that I'm confident it wasn't random crits. Victory is sweet. Now I just have to try pulling it off in a real fight.

Anyways, that's what I did last night. I suggest you guys try it out, see if you can nail down the exact timing to get Churning Earth to crit and feel like a total boss as you play straight through all the bugs this class has.

#2 AetherMcLoud

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 04:27 PM

Arcane power is buggy as hell. Only gives 2 crits instead of 5 and as you've seen doesn't even work with all skills. Also IMHO the best way to land churning earth is lightning flash.

#3 Varun

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 05:59 PM

Hmm, I will try this :)

Activating hurl while churning earth is casting together with arcane power does seem like a genious idea!

#4 EatThisShoe

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 08:36 PM

View PostAetherMcLoud, on 30 October 2012 - 04:27 PM, said:

Arcane power is buggy as hell. Only gives 2 crits instead of 5 and as you've seen doesn't even work with all skills. Also IMHO the best way to land churning earth is lightning flash.
Oh god is it buggy. From my testing though it isn't a fixed number of hits, it's based off what skills you use specifically. Burning Speed consuming all the charges has been known for a while, and Churning earth is the same. As an example of a different but also buggy behavior try activating Arcane Power then cast Dragon's Claw twice, the first will crit three times, and leave up the Arcane Power effect in your effects window. But the second wont crit at all despite having the effect icon up. If you instead substitute the second Dragon's Claw with Ring of Fire + Fire Grab then you get 5 crits as you are supposed to.

Lightning flash is indeed the easiest way to land Churning Earth, but this combo has two advantages: With Lightning Flash you can still just dodge Churning Earth. With this combo they are forced to actively counter your immobilize, and then they still have to get out of range or dodge. It's also a chain of CC so it's possible to immobilize them with Hurl after they stun break Earthquake for example and still hit them. Second is the guaranteed crit, something only Arcane Power can do.

#5 Skyro

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 08:54 PM

Haha cool OP dude. Love the determination. I just wanted to mention that I've been running into some top teams who are actually running offensive/roamer Eles who use Elemental Surge, generally as a replacement to roaming Thieves. From what I've seen though they don't try to chain lock you down with Immobilizes with Hurl or use Arcane power as you suggest but instead use Arcane Wave and/or Blast for their pure damage and to mess with your dodge timings, i.e. trying to lock you in an immobilize right before you dodge the Churning Earth or Dragon's Tooth. Have you really compared the damage difference between the damage you gain from Arcane Power (via Churning Earth crit) to just the straight up damage of Arcane Blast/Wave? Arcane Power may not be worth the setup.

Edited by Skyro, 30 October 2012 - 08:56 PM.


#6 EatThisShoe

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 09:14 PM

View PostSkyro, on 30 October 2012 - 08:54 PM, said:

Haha cool OP dude. Love the determination. I just wanted to mention that I've been running into some top teams who are actually running offensive/roamer Eles who use Elemental Surge, generally as a replacement to roaming Thieves. From what I've seen though they don't try to chain lock you down with Immobilizes with Hurl or use Arcane power as you suggest but instead use Arcane Wave and/or Blast for their pure damage and to mess with your dodge timings, i.e. trying to lock you in an immobilize right before you dodge the Churning Earth or Dragon's Tooth. Have you really compared the damage difference between the damage you gain from Arcane Power (via Churning Earth crit) to just the straight up damage of Arcane Blast/Wave? Arcane Power may not be worth the setup.
I haven't compared the damage, exactly, but mot of my tests hit around 2.9-3k, and crit around 5.5k, obviously it depends on critical damage but I think the gain in damage is on par with Arcane Wave, possibly higher, plus you get some crits on Hurl although those were hitting around 330/600 if I recall. Also keep in mind this only takes one utility, so comparing it to Wave/Blast together isn't quite right as you could run Wave/Power, or take an extra cantrip or Arcane Shield. Lastly Arcane Power although buggy has the ability to trigger Elemental Surge up to 5 times, combo or otherwise.

#7 Skyro

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 09:29 PM

View PostEatThisShoe, on 30 October 2012 - 09:14 PM, said:

I haven't compared the damage, exactly, but mot of my tests hit around 2.9-3k, and crit around 5.5k, obviously it depends on critical damage but I think the gain in damage is on par with Arcane Wave, possibly higher, plus you get some crits on Hurl although those were hitting around 330/600 if I recall. Also keep in mind this only takes one utility, so comparing it to Wave/Blast together isn't quite right as you could run Wave/Power, or take an extra cantrip or Arcane Shield. Lastly Arcane Power although buggy has the ability to trigger Elemental Surge up to 5 times, combo or otherwise.

Yeah I've actually seem some of these Eles run Arcane Shield as well I believe, but you're right I think they use 2 utility slots for some combination of Arcane skills. It seems to me though that going this route, even though it takes up 2 utility slots, makes it so your build isn't so reliant on hitting that big Churning Earth, as all classes have escapes even if you chain immobilize them. I'm not actually an Ele player so take that with a grain of salt, but keep in mind these are top teams that I'm facing that run this so I assume they know what they are doing.

#8 EatThisShoe

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 03:07 AM

View PostSkyro, on 30 October 2012 - 09:29 PM, said:

Yeah I've actually seem some of these Eles run Arcane Shield as well I believe, but you're right I think they use 2 utility slots for some combination of Arcane skills. It seems to me though that going this route, even though it takes up 2 utility slots, makes it so your build isn't so reliant on hitting that big Churning Earth, as all classes have escapes even if you chain immobilize them. I'm not actually an Ele player so take that with a grain of salt, but keep in mind these are top teams that I'm facing that run this so I assume they know what they are doing.
Well you can run Arcane Wave + Arcane Power if you want, so you are really weighing Arcane Power against whatever single utility would be in that slot instead. I think Arcane Power has more raw power both in damage and in Elemental Surge procs, but it also has a longer cooldown and is less flexible. This combo in particular is also harder to execute, mainly due to the buggy nature of Arcane Power/Churning Earth.

I would also say that Arcane Power fits best in builds that have high power but low crit chance since the marginal benefit of a guaranteed crit is a lot less in a build with 50% crit rate before fury. Builds with say a Valkyrie's Amulet or Soldier's Amulet could gain a significant boost in burst potential.

I wouldn't dream of saying that the players you are facing are doing it wrong. Wave/Blast is a pretty well established burst setup although I haven't seen it with Elemental Surge quite as often. I might be conceited in saying this, but I don't think most players have given a lot of thought to this combo, or if they did they probably wrote it off given the buggy nature of the skills involved, in fact I think most players wrote off Arcane Power entirely due to how buggy it is. This is more a proof of concept and an attempt to break new ground. It was also a bit cathartic as a rant about how buggy this class is.

#9 Vanillea

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 04:56 AM

If you want to use Arcane Power, I would recommend going scepter since you can land the whole combo with Arcane Power. The problem with Dagger is even if AP is not buggy, you have to be really careful with skill order and position: Burning Speed has 1 blast and multiple small hits from the fire trail, drake breath is multi hit. Using AP with Dagger for burst require you to land Burning Speed with only the blast ( which is easy because of Updraft) followed by RoF and Fire Grab. It is still pretty inflexible thou cause both D/D and S/D burst are avoidable and you dont want to waste AP for the auto atk xD.

AP + elemental surge is a nice combo but also very costly and not very flexible xD.

#10 ak47_training

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 12:32 AM

Awesome OP
The Hurl solution is beautiful. Yet another proof of how deep the class is ;)

#11 Shadowrose

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Posted 01 November 2012 - 03:18 AM

And then thief comes and spams 2 for 2000+ damage each hit

har har

Edited by Shadowrose, 01 November 2012 - 03:18 AM.


#12 Lalnuir

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 10:25 PM

Wow nice to see you work through all the bugs and make your combo work. Well done.


View PostShadowrose, on 01 November 2012 - 03:18 AM, said:

And then thief comes and spams 2 for 2000+ damage each hit

har har

Yay more thief bashing, that never gets old. . .
If you are going to whine about thief being op at least whine about the right combo, heart seeker spam is so last month. All the cool thieves are rocking bas venom > assassin signet > CnD > steal > back stab.

#13 Shadowrose

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 11:45 PM

View PostLalnuir, on 02 November 2012 - 10:25 PM, said:

Wow nice to see you work through all the bugs and make your combo work. Well done.




Yay more thief bashing, that never gets old. . .
If you are going to whine about thief being op at least whine about the right combo, heart seeker spam is so last month. All the cool thieves are rocking bas venom > assassin signet > CnD > steal > back stab.
1. Not whining
2. Never said thief was op

thank you come again.

#14 blindude

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 01:37 AM

hehe you are " close " second as im using arcane power and elemental surge to land hard burst for a month now :P
But as you have lready mentioned i think its better to just go scepter and immediately switch to earth hit ap and then hurl.
And ac is not actually buggy itself.It is just consumed on multihit attacks regardless of them missing or not.
Burning speed is a multihit attack since the trail inflicts direct damage as well as burning.
The great thing is that it a works not only on churning earth but also on dt ,phoenix combo :)

Edited by blindude, 03 November 2012 - 01:48 AM.


#15 EatThisShoe

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 04:49 AM

View Postblindude, on 03 November 2012 - 01:37 AM, said:

hehe you are " close " second as im using arcane power and elemental surge to land hard burst for a month now :P
But as you have lready mentioned i think its better to just go scepter and immediately switch to earth hit ap and then hurl.
And ac is not actually buggy itself.It is just consumed on multihit attacks regardless of them missing or not.
Burning speed is a multihit attack since the trail inflicts direct damage as well as burning.
The great thing is that it a works not only on churning earth but also on dt ,phoenix combo :)
I thought you were onto something with the multihit attacks, so I went and did some testing. You are at least half right. Some skills do consume charges even if they don't hit anything, while other attacks do not. Here are a few of my findings:

Flamestrike does not consume charges if you have no target.
Dragon's Tooth sometimes does not consume a charge when it misses, but sometimes it does.
Phoenix consumes 2 charges regardless of how many times it hits, you can even crit 3 times and consume two charges.
Water trident consumes two charges, even if it misses.
Shatterstone consumes one charge, but even if it misses.
Ice Shards consumes three charges but will only crit if you had at least three charges left, otherwise it consumes 1-2 charges with no crits.
Frost Aura and Cleansing Wave do not consume charges when cast.
Arc Lightning only consumes charges with a target in range, same as Flamestrike.
Chain Lightning consumes one charge regardless of bounces, and still consumes charges with no target. So you can get 15 crits out of Chain Lightning.
Frozen Ground consumes all charges regardless, deals no damage.
Gust consumes a charge.
Fire Elemental did not consume charges, and did not crit.
Shocking Aura did not consume charges on hit.
Vapor Blade crit twice and consumed one charge, the fifth vapor blade only crit once.
Attuning to water consumes a charge, regardless of traits.

I would personally say it's buggy just on the grounds that non-damaging effects trigger it. The behavior you describe is the most common and fit most skills that I didn't mention, so it may be intended. There are clearly still some bugs.

Maybe I should make a build based around Chain Lightning, Arcane Power, and Elemental Surge.

#16 blindude

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 12:02 PM

View PostEatThisShoe, on 03 November 2012 - 04:49 AM, said:

I thought you were onto something with the multihit attacks, so I went and did some testing. You are at least half right. Some skills do consume charges even if they don't hit anything, while other attacks do not. Here are a few of my findings:

Flamestrike does not consume charges if you have no target.
Dragon's Tooth sometimes does not consume a charge when it misses, but sometimes it does.
Phoenix consumes 2 charges regardless of how many times it hits, you can even crit 3 times and consume two charges.
Water trident consumes two charges, even if it misses.
Shatterstone consumes one charge, but even if it misses.
Ice Shards consumes three charges but will only crit if you had at least three charges left, otherwise it consumes 1-2 charges with no crits.
Frost Aura and Cleansing Wave do not consume charges when cast.
Arc Lightning only consumes charges with a target in range, same as Flamestrike.
Chain Lightning consumes one charge regardless of bounces, and still consumes charges with no target. So you can get 15 crits out of Chain Lightning.
Frozen Ground consumes all charges regardless, deals no damage.
Gust consumes a charge.
Fire Elemental did not consume charges, and did not crit.
Shocking Aura did not consume charges on hit.
Vapor Blade crit twice and consumed one charge, the fifth vapor blade only crit once.
Attuning to water consumes a charge, regardless of traits.

I would personally say it's buggy just on the grounds that non-damaging effects trigger it. The behavior you describe is the most common and fit most skills that I didn't mention, so it may be intended. There are clearly still some bugs.

Maybe I should make a build based around Chain Lightning, Arcane Power, and Elemental Surge.
Thats great and probably correct.I never did that mcuh testing.I guess single target attacks that require a target like arc lightning and flamestrike make sence that they cannot miss with no target in rage so they dont consume.So should attacks with no damage at all.But really the others shoud be bugs.Some good ones likge the chain of lightning :)
Truth is that after 2 months they still havent fix even the cd reduction traits..so i dont know whether its realistic to wait a fix on those any time soon :(




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