I have to say I wasn't overly sure where to post this, since Lifesteal itself is a general mechanic, it's very unbiased. However the best method of pulling it off appears to be high hit rate characters, which is where a Dual Axe Warrior comes into play. This is just something general I was thinking about, and I thought i'd throw it out there as food for thought. As you'll see, it couldn't be simpler to build yourself to Lifesteal, all you need is Pie...
Lifesteal – An Acute Approach from a Dual Axe Warrior
I’ve been consistently running a Dual Axe Warrior build for some time now. I tend to like to make a build, run with it for a lengthy period, fine tune it, and then start writing about it. This idea originally arose from my desire to test the efficacy of Lifesteal as a mechanic of survival. Lifesteal occurs in a number of forms, whether it is a Sigil or Skill, this build ultimately centres on the Omnomberry Pie.
I chose to run Dual Axes for two reasons. Firstly, DA is woefully underestimated. The vast majority of Warriors seem to prefer Greatsword for damage-oriented builds. I however don’t like GS at all, I find Hundred Blades (while demonstrably the most powerful skill in the game, by a fair margin) far too restricting in the harsher environments of the game (i.e. Arah and higher tier Fractals). Ultimately that’s what any build should do, it should optimize you for difficult content, that way you develop something that is universally viable. The second reason for choosing DA over GS is that most Lifesteals proc on a hit/crit, and the hit rate of DA is the highest on any Warrior weapon. I did some off the cuff timing of the #1 (Chop -> Double Chop -> Triple Chop) combo, and it averages at around about 3.6 seconds. Given the combo strikes 6 times, that’s roughly one hit per 0.6 seconds. Axes actually used to be able to strike even more frequently, since you used to be able to Attack-Cancel at the end of Double Chop, and reset the combination (Triple Chop is a slightly less economical use of time than Chop -> Double Chop). So by Cancelling into any of your other axe skills, you obtained a higher hit rate. I think by cancelling you obtained something along the lines of 6-8 more strikes in a 20 second period. In comparison, a GS strikes 3 times in 2.4 seconds, showing a hit rate of once per 0.8 seconds. It doesn’t seem like much, but just picture that over a long boss fight… In addition to this, Axe #5 hits an obscene amount of times, and if you’re lucky, 5 enemies too.
Anyhow, introduction aside I’m not going to labour the build too much, it’s essentially a fully damage focused axe build, what I want to delve into is the Lifesteal mechanics themselves. I haven’t found many examples of people really looking into them. Remember this is from the PoV of a Warrior, so there are no skills that actually provide Lifesteal within the class (the only skill that comes to mind anyway is Signet of Malice on the thief).
Without further ado…
Strength: 20 – Berserker’s Power – Dual Wielding
Arms: 10 – Rending Strikes
Tactics: 10 – Inspiring Banners
Discipline: 30 – Heightened Focus – Signet Mastery – Adrenal Reserves
Essentially the trait setup revolves around being able to use Eviscerate (Axe Burst Skill) off cooldown. The Discipline line allows much quicker Adrenaline Gain, plus a 20% CD reduction on Burst Skills. Eviscerate tends to hit around 10-12k every 8 seconds. The Strength line covers the bread and butter Berserker’s Power, a staple 12% bonus damage at max Adrenaline, a must have for any damage build. Axe Mastery grants 10% extra Crit Damage while you have an Axe in your OH. Tactics gives the Inspiring Banners trait which allows enough of a cooldown reduction to maintain a banner constantly and apply to a wider radius. The Banner used is the Discipline Banner, for extra Precision, and disproportionate 10% crit damage… for the whole party!
Utility Skills used are For Great Justice, Shake it Off and Banner of Discipline. Elite Skill is Signet of Rage. Utilities are negotiable, but you REALLY need that banner, it’s a huge DPS boost for the whole team.
As for Equipment, I chose Knight’s Gear with Rubies in the Accessory and Back slots. Knight’s is essentially a staple for any Warrior playing in melee. In this way, Warriors should stack at least one defensive stat on their armour, Berserker is incredibly difficult to pull off in difficult content, and tends to not be worth it for the frequent Downs. Knight’s ensures you have a solid grounding in Toughness (this comes back around as Offensive later). If you’ve read my post on Survivability, you get an understanding of why Toughness in particular is important for a Warrior.
Sigils and Runes. I’ll cover these in the Lifesteal section.
Nourishment. Omnomberry Pie is the staple food, again will cover it below. The other source of Nourishment is a choice between the max tier Maintenance Oil and Sharpening Stone. These buffs provide 6% of your Toughness and 4% of your Vitality as Precision/Power respectively. From experience I have found the Oil provides around 10% crit chance (210 Precision), and it adds to your “White” crit chance, not the “Green” buffed text. It depends if you want the extra crit or more damage *behind* your crits with Power.
A lot of this stuff isn’t set in stone, there are a million ways to make a Dual Axe build, so don’t take this specific setup to heart, no matter what you do it still takes you 3.6 seconds to perform a Triple Chop combo (well, aside from a little Quickness ). I did this to prove a concept, and at the same time see what content I could get away with running a very offensively oriented DA build (Arah P4 and Tier 20 Fractals can be done relatively effectively).
The Mechanics of Lifesteal:
Firstly some general points:
- Edit: I originally thought Lifesteal did not steal any life, however fellow Guru posters have shown that it does. However there is no evidence in the Combat Log, and the actual Lifesteal damage can be difficult to spot, but it is there.
- The amount of Life stolen does not depend on the damage you do, it depends on a pre-defined event, such as a Crit or a Weapon Swap.
- The amount of Life stolen is tied to your Level, and occasionally it is slightly affected by Healing Power (to the tune of roughly 1% of your HP adding to the Steal).
I was asking myself the same question several weeks ago, since the various sources of Lifesteal are few and far between to say the least, they also don't appear frequent enough to actually justify lifesteal as a mechanic to build around. Lifesteal however is a viable mechanic to build yourself to, because if you can hit frequently enough then you massively increase your survivability while still focusing on your offense.
In addition to the above, I theorycrafted Vigorous Shouts as a healing support build, but in order to provide that Healing effectively, you sacrifice your damage. I'm not saying Lifesteal is better, but in terms of a personal range, Lifesteal allows you some Healing while still building around damage. With the help of some simple maths, you can calculate just how much Health you gain per second.
Sources of Lifesteal
Skills. This is where I have to admit I don't have any idea how effectively the various skills/traits that provide Lifesteal work. Since there are no Warrior Lifesteal skills, the methods I used were above specific Race/Class combos.
Sigils. Superior Sigil of Blood. This Sigil gives you a 30% chance to steal life on a Crit. The amount stolen is 453 + 0.1*(Healing Power). I used this Sigil in the beginning and it was ok, but I was testing it on a Training Dummy and sadly the cooldown is NOT 2 seconds like the tooltip says, but more like 5 seconds. For someone with zero Healing Power, this is effectively 90 Health per second. Overall that's quite paltry, it's nowhere near the big numbers you need to survive. Oh and it's only 90 Health per second if by some miracle you crit AND proc the Sigil every 5 seconds.
There is also Superior Sigil of Leeching, which causes your next attack after a Weapon Swap to steal life, in the amount of 975. I briefly ran a Four Axe build in order to exploit Weapon Swap Sigils, and I ran one of these on each Axe. However if you notice the cooldown is 10 seconds, which roughly makes this Sigil worth how much? 97.5 health per second roughly. Again that isn't much. But if you combine a Sup Blood and Sup Leeching, you're starting to hit roughly 180 Effective Health per second. Not bad...
Remember with Sigils though, when one is on cooldown, the other cannot activate, so the 10 second cooldown on Leeching is inhibiting your Sup Blood. So while 180 EHP/s was starting to look appealing, it is diminished by Sigil Crashing.
What about Runes? Well there is only one to choose form, Superior Rune of Vampirism. Well the 4 piece bonus has a 15 second cooldown and heals for 975, comparatively worse EHP/s than Sigil of Leeching. In addition a 5% chance to Life steal on your next attack when you are struck is incredibly paltry. You can't really even begin to quantify that, nor rely on it as a reliable Lifesteal.
Ok so I admit, it looks pretty bleak right now, the above dismisses Sigils and Runes as truly effective methods of Lifesteal, your options are pretty limited at this point, which is why I saved the best two until last.
As ever, the understated and rarely built around Combo Fields can give you Lifesteal. The wiki says Lifestealing Combos are:
Dark Field + Physical Projectile = 202 + 0.1*(Healing Power) in Health
Dark Field + Whirl = 170 + 0.05*(Healing Power) in Health
Now this is slightly ambiguous, in that the greatest shortcoming of a Warrior is a complete lack of Combo Fields (except for one on the Longbow, which in other news is among the worst Warrior weapons). However, since the combos listed are very open-ended, you can decide for yourself how useful they are. Given the right finisher, you can secure some good health from this. I'm sure you Dual Axe Warriors have seen what happens when you use Whirling Axe inside a Combo Field, you fire a number of "Bolts" of Combo Finisher around to adjacent allies, which can be pretty handy inside a Dark Field.
For those who aren't too familiar with Combo Fields (let's face it they're a bit of an understated mechanic, and occur a lot from shear luck, rather than being built around), a Physical Projectile finisher usually occurs from some kind of Ranged attack and may have a 20% finisher attached to it. The effect of a Combo generated from a Physical Projectile is on the enemy, or on allies adjacent to the enemy. As for a Whirl finisher, you fire "Bolts" in a random direction, originating from yourself, and they will go on to damage enemies or heal allies. Given the nature of ejection of Whirl Finishers, it's hard to seal any real benefit unless you're surrounded by nearby allies. There is a mathematical term called "Abbe Error", which is a measure of error in position from being at a slight angular offset. If for example you move 1000 metres at 0 degrees, somebody else moves 1000m at 1 degree, you'll be quite far apart. In this way the real benefit of Whirl finishers is in melee.
Let's broaden the Physical Projectile finisher into a scenario:
A Necro/Thief places down a Dark Field, a Shortbow wielding Ranger is auto-attacking an enemy with Crossfire, through this Dark Field. Crossfire has a half second lead time, and a 20% finisher. This effectively means a 1 in 5 chance of stealing life, and you attack roughly 5 times in 2.5 seconds. In this way, you are "guaranteed" a Steal within that time frame. Now picture your 4 allies attacking the mob in melee, they benefit from your Steals. You are base healing them 202 for each Steal, which across 5 seconds is only 40 Health per second.
However, the majesty of a Combo Field Lifesteal is in the Escalating Factors. For example, the Ranger might proc a Quickness when he sees the Dark Field Down, that effectively doubles the Lifesteal to 80 Health per second. The next bit is anecdotal at best. What I cannot clarify is whether attacking multiple mobs procs multiple fields, i.e. does the Axe auto attack for a Ranger proc up to 3 times with projectile bounces? If so, there is a triple multiplier possibility to the Lifesteal. In this way you can see how different skills can escalate the effects of a combo field. The Ranger example is merely one scenario, so get creative with Dark Fields!
Now we've come to possibly the consummate method of Lifestealing, yes, you guessed it... Pie! Seriously though, it's Pie. Why are you laughing at me?
Omnomberry Pie has a 66% chance to steal life on a Crit. The amount stolen is 325 at Level 80. There is no internal cooldown on this, and it's a Food Buff! This is borderline OP, most Warriors will agree with me on that, and the only reason a Lifestealing build is valid for a DA Warrior. I've shown some off the cuff calculations so far to demonstrate Lifesteal as a continuous Healing source, but I need to elaborate more here for you to appreciate just how obscenely powerful this Food Buff is.
Do excuse the basic mathematics to follow, all I'm trying to achieve is to show a very basic point in terms of demonstrating a very under-approximated level of Healing, and how that Healing can escalate with Crit % and Weapon Speed.
So consider the Timing of Strikes I mentioned before, let's look at the GS which hits once every 0.8 seconds. You have a Crit chance of 70%, and then Omnomberry has a 66% proc chance. Probability shows us that for 2 subsequent events to occur, you multiply their probabilities:
Chance to Crit * Chance to Proc Food on Crit = Chance to Proc Food on Hit
0.7 * 0.66 = 0.462
So you can say relatively confidently, 46% of my strikes are going to result in stealing 325 Health... Nice. Now if we consider a series of 100 strikes, this takes 80 seconds to complete. 46 of those Strikes are Lifesteals, giving 46*325 = 14950 Health stolen. Divide this total by the time taken, 80 seconds, results in 186.9 Health per second, and that is reliable, with no cooldown outside of your attacks. But that's a SINGLE ENEMY, imagine Hundred Blades on multiple enemies? Any GS Warrior is using Hundred Blades off cooldown, which brings your Strike Rate to a much more favourable value than 1 hit every 0.8 seconds. That is fairly significant. However, to appreciate the effect of this, lets backtrack slightly.
Omnomberry Pie procs on a crit, it does not suffer Sigil Crashing, nor are its conditions too unrealistic. The majesty of this buff though, lies in the Escalating Factors. The variables affecting your Effective Health per Second are Attack Speed, Crit chance, and Number of Enemies Struck, all of which can be modified. This is where Dual Axe comes in.
Let's take a look at another example. This time we're reflecting my sample build with Dual Axes. So we're looking at one hit every 0.6 seconds, and somewhere in the region of 93% Crit Chance:
0.93*0.66 = 61.4% to Proc a Lifesteal on HIT
100 Strikes in 60 seconds, 61 of which Crit, this rounds nicely into being around 1 crit per second, so you're effectively stealing 325 Health per second. Now imagine striking 3 enemies at a time... or using Whirling Axe on 5 enemies. The mind boggles at the expansive nature of this food buff.
This, if nothing else demonstrates why Food Buffs are such a significant mechanic in this game. Lifesteal is pretty weak apart from Combo Fields (which are stochastic at best) and are only propped up as a useful mechanic by a Food Buff. It's something to think about, especially for people who strongly dismiss Food Buffs as a useful game mechanic. I actually had a member of the guild I am in complain about Food Buffs, and likened the use of Food Buffs to a Professional Athlete using performance enhancing drugs...
Before rounding off though, there is for lack of a better word a pseudo Lifesteal mechanic...
Pseudo Life Steal
You may have noticed the line of Sigils with an "On Kill" bonus attached to them. Sigil of Restoration is one such Sigil, it applies a 670 Heal when you kill a foe. While not necessarily amazing, I've found a use for this while running my Vigorous Shouts build in Fractals. The VS build I used to use runs Mace/Shield, so the attack speed is slow and the crit rate lower, so Omnomberry Pie is out.
I noticed thought in Fractals you often find yourself wading through difficult fights with many mobs in them (i.e. Grawl, Dredge, Cliffside), so this Sigil allows you to benefit from Pseudo Lifesteal while running a Defensive and Ultra Low Crit build. So many enemies die in a short space of time, you actually manage to steal a beneficial amount of health.
There is more however, the Food Buff, Omnomberry Compote applies the same effect of Sigil of Restoration, but it heals you for around 930 health. The effects of the Sigil of Food stack, which means you gain ~1600 Health when you kill a Foe, and when you're in a situation like you face in Fractals, those 1600's just keep rolling in. While not technically Lifesteal, it acts as a sort of auxiliary method of healing yourself through those difficult encounters, so long as you keep killing.
The ideal aspect of this is that you only need to TAG the mob to get the credit for the kill. I tested this by pulling lots of enemies over to Pact NPC's and letting them do all the killing, I still got the ~1600 Health from the kill. So for builds that don't specialize in DPS, and are more tanky in nature, the combination of Sigil of Restoration and Omnomberry Compote is in some way an auxiliary form of healing for you. We've all had those encounters where you're being busted b about 20 Dredge, but then as soon as the AoE starts to fall, you gain your reward.
In summary I have dragged out a pretty long post (again). However it highlights a mechanic that can be used to build yourself around. Running DA Warrior without Omnomberry Pie is nothing short of suicidal. Omnomberry Pie, also quite ironically known as "OP" is a staple for any DPS oriented Warrior build. Often when I see myself going Down frequently, it's mostly because the Pie has worn off. More significantly though, I learned that Food Buffs are perceived by many as only a small extension to your Offense/Defense i.e. just adding more Power/Precision/Vitality etc. Food Buffs pave the way for other mechanics to Flourish. Especially since almost all of the other Lifesteal methods are paltry at best, and ultimately lead to wasted Sigil/Rune slots.
One final note though, DA Warrior is just a convenient example for an effective Lifesteal Build, it hits frequently, and crits almost as frequently. So while this post is Warrior biased, Lifesteal is completely unbiased, anyone can use Omnomberry Pie. So let's get creative and find out different ways for you all to get the most out of YOUR Pie...