Friday, December 27, 2013

Path of Exile: Tanking Stats

Almost everyone in Path of Exile gets attacked by monsters. My summoner witch rarely gets attacked and therefore gets to mostly ignore defensive stats but all my other characters have needed to worry about dying from everyday monsters. Many build guides take it as an absolute given that armour is just better than evasion in this game and pretty much all recommend taking the talent point which converts your evasion into armour. My ranger is up to level 61 and I ended up taking the talent point which cuts your armour in half in order to get dodge which goes against all those recommendations. Respeccing out of it will be too expensive but I like using lightning arrow so I've been considering starting a new character to use the same gear and abilities but going to get the other defensive talent.

If I was able to actually play the game on this laptop I probably would already have a high level lightning arrow scion to be able to compare the two by feel. But the game lags super badly and crashes all the team even on the lowest possible settings so I haven't been able to do that. Instead I've been doing some reading about the game to get my fix and that's included reading a bunch about the underlying mechanics. I don't need to play with both builds... I can math them out! Somewhat, anyway...

Every main piece of equipment in the game has one or two of the three main defensive stats: armour, evasion, and energy shield. Armour works against any source of physical damage. Evasions works against any attacks (physical or elemental) but not against spells. Energy shield works against everything except chaos damage but doesn't replenish in combat so it's not a long term tanking solution but it's just fine for someone who takes incidental damage every now and then. On top of those three defensive stats you also have life and magic resist which can come on items as mods. Life is like energy shield but can be replenished in combat and magic resist reduces incoming elemental damage regardless of originating source. Pretty much everyone caps out magic resist at 75% reduction so it's not terribly interesting.

The amount of damage prevented by armour approaches 1 damage prevented per 12 points of armour but only when you actually take a large amount of damage at once. I found a post indicating the average damage done by a level 77 monster is 756 and the function works out to make it so armour is linear in terms of hits until dead.

Evasion works differently in PoE than is pretty much any other game I've played. Normally if you have a 25% chance to evade an attack you expect to get hit 3 in 4 times but you might get lucky and evade 4 hits in a row or you might get unlucky and get hit all 4 times. Path of Exile keeps a counter on each unit and adds on the chance to get hit each time they get attacked. If that counter crosses the 100% threshold that specific attack hits you and you knock 100% off the counter. So you don't just expect to get hit 3 in 4 times with a 25% to evade... You WILL get hit 3 in 4 times. Which hit will be the single miss is randomly determined by whatever number your counter got seeded to but as soon as that miss happens you know for sure that you'll get 3 times and then get missed. Evasion also doubles as crit mitigation. If you get hit by an attack and that attack gets rolled as a crit then you get to make an extra evade check. This one doesn't use the counter and will turn the crit into a regular hit if you pass the evade check.

Normally I hate evasion when I'm tanking in an MMO because I have a healer spamming me up and my goal is to reduce bursts of damage. Evasion doesn't do that very well and armour really does. I would take an ability that swaps chance to evade into flat mitigation every single time in a game like World of Warcraft. That's actually exactly what I did in The Burning Crusade expansion when I switched to playing a druid tank instead of a warrior tank. But here in PoE evasion seems to not have as big of a spike damage flaw. I'd definitely rather have 25% flat mitigation over a 25% evade chance but I'm not so sure I wouldn't rather have a 90% evade chance over 90% mitigation, considering the other talent tree things that exist for evasion...

There's one node that doubles your evasion chance against projectile attacks to a max of 95% evasion. Most importantly there's a set of nodes that reduces your armour and energy shield by half but gives you 40% chance to dodge attacks and 30% chance to dodge spells. Dodge is slightly different from evasion in that it gets checked separately and works the way most MMO dodges work in that it doesn't keep a counter or anything. The chance to dodge spells is also the only way to avoid spells since they typically always hit. On top of it all, every 5 points of dex increase your evasion rating by 1% and that bonus doesn't work if you convert evasion into armour. On the other hand there's a node that makes you immune to stuns but prevents you from evading at all. It combos well with the conversion node!

Anyway, a level 77 monster apparently rates to have 540 accuracy and 756 damage on average. I took a look for an end game character screenshot for someone going full evasion and they had 5300 life, 140 armour, and 13000 evasion rating. They had 340 dexterity being included in there, which was a 68% increase in evasion that wouldn't be able to carry over to armour. It looks like he has 52% increased evasion from his tree so the dex is worth about 4000 evasion rating. He's also using a shield with 844 evasion rating on it and my archer wouldn't be able to use it... So I'll take that away. He's also not all that close from the evasion to armour node, but let's pretend he can get it for free... Should he want it? I'm also assuming he'd take the node that prevents being stunned and throw away the base 5% evade chance though that's even further away...

With the node he gets hit every time and gets crit 5% of the time. He gets hit for 406 damage most of the time and the overall EV from an incoming attack is to take 416 damage. With the evasion setup he gets hit only 29% of the time and crit only 2.4% of the time but when he gets hit he takes 750 damage. But with a health pool over 5300 he's going to have plenty of time to heal up between those hits for 750. The overall EV from an incoming attack is to take 222 damage. That's significantly less damage to need to heal up and will require a smaller amount of life leech. On top of it all he's going to take almost no damage from ranged attacks (he hits the 95% evade cap) and he's going to dodge 30% of all incoming spells. The downside is that any time he gets hit there's going to be a decent chance he gets stunned and he may well end up stun locked to death by something like Piety's lightning storm or lightning ball while the other guy just walks away. But maybe the 30% spell dodge with all that health is enough to survive it. The fact that he's pretty much immune to Piety's ice form is pretty hot!

What about for other characters? My hardcore guy wants those nodes but he's more of a strength based character and is nowhere near the dodge nodes. So he won't get those regardless, and he'll have more base armour, and more base health from the extra strength, and he'll have a much smaller dex pool. Plugging those into my spreadsheet comes out to the evasion build taking EV 394 per swing and the armour build taking EV 386 per swing, and gets to be immune to stuns. He wouldn't have the double evade against ranged attacks or the spell dodge either way. In this case it seems pretty straightforward to take the smoother damage and never get stunned.

Ok... I'm happy with the way my hardcore guy is going and am now reconsidering wanting to change my ranger around. I wonder if my ranger tree can be salvaged into a good build now keeping the dodge? Hmm...

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