BlkWing's Advanced Swordsman Guide
Okay here it is, this is BlkWing's guide to what you need to know about swordsman. In truth this is something I've been wanting to do for awhile but just haven't had the time xD. I've been getting mails and PMs both in-game and in forums about swordsman. Is it worth it? What kind of tricks and tips are there? So, to save everyone the trouble of asking, I figured might as well just create a nice handy little guide instead. I've also noticed that while there is already a guide on swordsman, it is no longer being updated. This is a compilation of the 3+ years I have spent playing as a swordie, and all that I have learned. So hopefully this can answer any new questions you may have about swordsman. Well then, let us begin /Rface12
Alrighty then, first of all a couple disclaimers. As mentioned above I realize there is already a guide on swordsman. This guide will NOT cover any topics already included in other guides (as such I am not copying from them). Rather, this will guide will cover all skills from lvl 100 onward. The only exception would be Splitting Attack (lvl 80 aoe), Death Chop (lvl 80 4x hit atk) and Spine Shell (lvl 76 buff). As these were not included in previous guides, I will add them to here. I chose lvl 100+ mainly because at lvl 100 is when swordsman learn Revolving Air Chop, which IMO is when swordies become alot more fun. As such, here is where we will cover the fun stuff /Rface6 pvp, training, and all those new sword skills that you've only heard about but always wanted to see.
This guide will continually be updated. Part of the reason I made this is for people who want to see what new sword skills look like/do and yet don't know where to find it. Well you can all come here now. Of course, I'm not guaranteeing I'll have pics and descriptions of all the new skills in coming expansions right off the bat (I need to lvl and skill too after all) so please be patient, I'll get to it soon as I can. Also, I'm not perfect (this IS my first guide so I'm trying to make it as comprehensive as possible) so if you notice anything missing or anything that should be added feel free to PM me here or mail my char BlkWing in Sofiel. If I take your suggestion I'll mention your name in the credits section at the end of this guide.
Now on to the actual guide, starting from the top. Say you're a newcomer to AO, trying to pick a class to play as. Now you're smart enough to know that this is an important choice, which you're going to be stuck with this decision for at least awhile. So you browse the choices...hmm, Protector, Spearman, Archer, Wizard, Priest...Swordsman? Sounds cool right? I mean come on, what RPG doesn't have a swordsman as the main character? But of course now you’re thinking you need more than just "sounds cool" commit to a class. Looking cool is one thing, but how do they actually play. I'll be answering that throughout this guide, but let us start with an old-fashioned pro-con list of what you can expect when playing as a swordsman: how they are strong, how they are weak, and how they are cool.
(Btw, that was not a shameless attempt to convert you all to swordies. That was actually why I chose to be a swordie in the first place..."they look cool" xD)
- Fast attack speed (obvious)
- Fast cast speed for stances (generally 0.1 secs, yes it does matter)
- Generally low cooldown (around 1 second, important for stacks)
- High stance power for *single hit* stances (not the highest, but consistent)
- Many stances can be comboed with each other
- Good for AB training (hp recovery buff, high atk speed)
- Weapons have second lowest attack power of all types
- Relatively low def due to lack of shield
- Buffs are so-so (atk speed, hp recovery, DOT is okay but not great) 119 buff only useful in certain circumstances
- Very difficult to play before lvl 100 (low stance power + low weapon atk = bad)
- AOEing is generally dangerous because all sword aoes are self aoes (unless you count dream slaughter) AOEs also lack power
- If you are using two swords (and I recommend 2 swords to sword/shield) you will need to invest plenty of time/money to get 2 swords with decent attack, as the new candyland skills depend on both swords attack not just one.
- Focus on bleeding and DOT effects (may or may not be a good thing)
- You can probably count the number of swordies in your server on one hand. So you'll either spend lots of time/money getting your swords, or you'll get them cheap because there is no one else for people to sell to
A Word of Caution
There it is in a nutshell, what you can expect when playing a swordsman. If that was too technical for you, then please just remember this. At least from my point of view, 99% of people who give up being a swordie and change to another class do so between lvl 1-99. Why? Because during that level range, swordies lack any significant advantage. And above all, in that level range they lack the power to kill people in pvp compared to other classes. They do less damage then mages, have less def then a prot and have less range then an archer. I'm being honest with you right now, if you don't have the determination to get past those first 100 levels using a job class that is, for all intents and purposes, inferior to all the other options, don't become a swordie. The start-up for a swordie is ridiculously and painfully slow. You WILL find yourself complaining you're weak more times than one (I know I did).
I just needed to get the above point across to you all before I continue. Swordsman are not an easy class to play, we are severely disadvantaged below lvl 100. At lvl 100 onwards, I'm not saying we suddenly become gods, but the classes start to balance out, and the hidden talents of swordsman start to show. So don't be discouraged, it does get better as you continue to level. From my point of view, the reason why swordies are always classified as weak is because:
- Since so many people give up being swordsman at a low level, critics are never able to see swordsman at higher levels which can easily take on any class
- Swordsman are often criticized for having low weapon attack power and low def. True, but it does not account for two stats which do not appear in the menu: Attack Speed and Stance Speed. What are those exactly? I will get to that in the pvp section, so keep reading! o.o
Here is what you were looking for. Sword skills...what they do, what they look like, and how to best use them. The last part I will be elaborating on in later sections, so just think of this as a brief overview. Btw, about the pictures...I used my own character to take the screenshots, so as such the stance level will be whatever level I have upon time of posting. If you want to see the level 1 stats, please look at wiki xD but I'm won't be using any info from there.
Atlantis Expansion Skills (lvl 80 and below)
Death Chop: 4 Sp Skill, Hits 4 times. I generally do not use it after getting pk5, but if you don't have that it can be useful. Not much more I can say xD
Spine Shell: Hmm, this one is interesting. On first glance this one is not so great...costs a big chunk of MP for a hp recovery buff, which you have already anyway. The corrosion effect is...eh, like 45 damage per 2 seconds? And I'm pretty sure corrosion damage does NOT go up as stance level goes up, only the amount of hp recovered. But...level it up and pair it with injury cure and that adds up to a nice bit of hp recovered on top of pots, healer etc.
Splitting Attack: This will be your aoe until revolving swords at lvl 128. If you kill at least one mob with it, there will be a "concentration" effect right after using the aoe, which gives +10% attack speed for 10 seconds. The corrosion damage does not go up with leveling the stance, only the power. Once you have revolving swords you probably won't need this anymore, except for comboes.
Desert/Forest Expansion Skills (lvl 100+)
Revolving Air Chop: After all that tendon chop > advance chop > great chop nonsense which you were probably getting tired of, finally a good "common" skill. It can be comboed with most anything, and it’s a dangerous skill to use up close if you know how to spam it. At lvl 4 it exceeds the power of pk5, the skill comes out fast and remains a dangerous threat to anyone who tries to get up close, even at higher levels. I will cover usages of this skill in later sections, but it has very good potential.
Floating Expansion Skills (lvl 116 and 128+)
Bloodthirsty Air: This buff is why I saw swordies focus on DOT damage. The buff itself isn't bad, but more like its "there". You have it activated, yet you probably won't really notice it. The DOT damage is considerably higher than anything you have seen so far, and it gives any attack a chance to cause bleeding effect. Keep it active for pvp, although for training I'd say it’s not worth the steep MP cost.
Revolving Swords: The second sword aoe. The effect I doubt you'll notice it too much. Both cooldown and damage is much better then Splitting Attack, however both aoes CAN be comboed together. Given that the combo will use a total of 8sp however, it’s only really useful when aoeing mobs, where SP can be restored in between AOEs. In pvp though, you're better off just using this aoe, bloody storm once, and then aoeing again once cooldown is over.
Candyland Expansion Skills (lvl 119 and 133+)
Sword Spell: This one is a bit tricky. It has a multitude of effects so it can be difficult to figure out exactly what it does. Basically it raises the attack power of both hands, and then it transfers a portion of the left hand attack to right hand. So say both hands have 1000 attack. At lvl 3, the buff raises the attack of both hands by 700, so it would be 1000 + 700 = 1700 on both hands. Then you take (roughly, depends on lvl of skill) 50% of the left hand attack and put it to the right hand. So in the above example, with 1700 attack on both hands, half of the left hand attack (1700/2 = 850) will be added to right hand (1700 + 850 = 2550). The end result is 2550 atk on right hand, and 850 attack on left (1700/2 = 850). So before using buff you had 1000 atk on right hand, now you have 2550 (even though when you look at the stats you'll only see 1700, the transfer of attack from left to right is not shown). So your attack (on right side anyway) more than doubles, yes this creates a HUGE difference, and that's not even counting the +50% attack speed (again roughly, depends on level) which is again a significant increase.
Now now, before you get too excited, there is a drawback to all this. While this skill is in effect you cannot use any stances at all and I mean none (you can still use pots though). And once the buff is activated, the only way to deactivate it is with Barrier of Justice (which is not guaranteed to work) or wait until it expires.
So what does this all mean? The buff forces the use of normal short-range attacks for the duration of this skill, however these normal hits will be significantly stronger and faster than without the buff. You won't want to use this on people since if they run, you won't have pk5 and other long range skills to fire at them. However, bosses, mobs and gates/totems (ie. anything with high hp but can't run away) are all good for using this buff on. You WILL do more damage within the same amount of time using the buff then without, even when considering that without this buff, you can use stances. This is a hard concept to describe and the best way to understand it is through actually seeing it in action, but just trust me when I say this buff has its uses. Just don't put it in AB.
Twin Blade Attack: Alright admit it. You're reading this guide just so you can see a picture of this skill xD For the pic I tried my best, no it doesn't fire out of the back it only looks that way because I was trying to keep my character from moving to the jackstraw, so you can actually see the long range effect of the skill.
First of all this is NOT an AOE. It is basically a pk5 except stronger. Long range, 1 sp, slightly higher cooldown. The damage is way higher than the 3200 stance power would lead you to believe. Same damage as splitting attack 4? Not a chance. In fact, I have tried comparing the damage from this skill to revolving swords 1, and it is about the same. The key to determining power for this stance lies in the total power of this attack will be affected by the secondary weapon attack power. The true power of this skill lies in the fact that damage calculations use the attack of both hands, rather than just one. The right hand still accounts for a bigger portion of the power then the left hand though. This skill can also be comboed, I will cover it more in a later section.
Dinoland Expansion Skills (lvl 126 and 145+)
Sword Requiem: The most common comparison for this skill is with the 116 spear buff Extended Shot, and that's pretty much what this is. Sword Requiem adds between 3-5 squares of range (depending on level) to all sword stances, common stances and normal hits. The important determinant is that you have must have a sword equipped for this effect to work. Using this buff first and then changing weapons will NOT work, even when using common stances that can be used by both sword and the weapon being switched to. This range bonus applies even to stances that already have range, such as pk5 and tba. Pk5 for instance has 12 range; with Sword Requiem 1 that's a respectable 15 squares of range, very useful for finishing off fleeing enemies.
This isn't a carbon copy of Extended Shot however. Most notable is the addition of attack speed - starting with 10% at lvl 1 and going up 4% every level from there. This stacks with other attack speed buffs (yes even sword spell) and is best thought of as a complement to other skills/effects. Combined with first effect of adding range to normal hits, Sword Requiem effectively makes normal hits much more dangerous then they otherwise would be. Combined with Sword Spell, which only allows the use of normal hits, the extra attack speed suddenly makes the otherwise inflexible Sword Spell much more dangerous. Sword Requiem + Sword Spell can give upwards of 60-80% total attack speed depending on level (not counting other buffs), plus the previous problem of being unable to chase people while Sword Spell is active is not so much of an issue when all hits are now ranged.
Unfortunately there is a slight problem with this buff, and that is the cooldown will always exceed the duration. This means that even if you put this buff in AB, there will be a delay in between when the effect wears off and when you can recast it again. During this gap, the skill will not be active. For example, in the pic Sword Requiem has a cooldown of 56 seconds and a duration of 50 seconds. After using the buff, its effect will last for 50 seconds before disappearing; however the cooldown is 56 seconds which means you'll need to wait for 6 seconds (the other 50 seconds of cooldown having elapsed while the effect is active) before recasting. The good news is that the gap becomes smaller at higher stance levels - cooldown goes down and duration goes up, although even at lvl 5 the duration will never quite match the cooldown. Generally this is not too big of an issue, unless your added range dies off in the middle of an attack. Just try to go for the higher stance levels to help alleviate the downtime, and keep an eye on icon in your buff bar (when its semi-transparent its duration is less then 30 seconds) if at all possible. I would not worry about it too much though.
And then there is the animation. Besides the fact that it looks cool (btw I will be adding new pics for this skill because I think its necessary), Sword Requiem is actually unlike other buffs in that it has multiple animations besides the one that immediately appears upon casting. When attacking with Sword Requiem active, there are two animations: one is an orange orb, the other is a purple shockwave. Generally when attacking a target that is further away the purple shockwave will appear, and when attacking a target that is up close the orange orbs will appear; this is purely for aesthetic value and there is no difference in effect whatsoever, so do not be alarmed if you're only getting one type of animation. What can be confusing is that when using buffs (with Sword Requiem active), these animations also appear even though you are not actually attacking anyone. The orange orbs will appear around your character while the purple shockwaves will come flying out, often in random directions. Normally the shockwaves stop when they reach a target, but since there is no target when using a buff the shockwaves can travel for extreme distances. Again, this is only for aesthetic value and these animations do not actually do damage; they only do damage when actually using an attack.
This was perhaps the most anticipated of the two new sword skills for Dinoland expansion, and with good reason: range + attack speed can be a dangerous combination and it makes swordies much easier to use (and more effective). It also adds an emphasis on normal hits which is quite different from all the other classes.
Rain of Blades: Another sword AOE, but this one is a bit different then what you are used to. First off this is not a self aoe - it is ground cast and fires in a straight line similar to the lvl 80 and 145 spear aoes, although the effective area of the sword version does appear to be slightly less narrow and spreads out from the user in a cone shape, making it easier to hit with. Not that much easier though; with a cast time of 0.5 secs and a whopping cooldown of 5 secs, the aoe is fairly slow. Aiming can be a problem too - as mentioned this aoe is ground cast, meaning you click on a spot on the ground and the aoe fires in that direction relative to the location of your character. Note the 'relative to the location of your character': this means that if you move your character to another location (ie. you click on another spot) during casting the direction of the aoe will also change. If you fire the aoe up (click on a location to the north of your character) and move your character down (click on a location to the south of your character) during casting the aoe fires down, not up. This can be both good and bad. It allows you to adjust the direction of the aoe if the targets move, however it can also mean that you have to stand still (or at least face the same direction) for a full 0.5 seconds which can make you an easy target.
And then there's the damage mechanism. At first glance this aoe does not appear to be much stronger then Revolving Swords. In fact, by the time you can use this at sword 145 you'll be able to use Revolving Swords 3, which has more power then Rain of Blades 1 (later levels will probably change this). This aoe however features variable damage based on the distance of targets to the caster. The further away the target is, the higher the damage; at 7 squares it is full damage, at 8 squares and beyond it is double damage. Anything less then 7 squares is half damage, and if the target is really close it is possible that no damage can be done, although that is due to a small gap between the caster and the aoe area rather then the aoe actually doing no damage. The result is a skill that leaves you some room to be creative; I'll include some possible usages in later sections.
Egypt Expansion Skills (lvl 148 and 154+)
The preliminaries are gone, Egypt is out and I am now officially testing out the two new sword skills. Descriptions will take some time until I am used to how these stances work, so please be patient and enjoy these pictures in the meantime :3 Personally I think they look quite cool.
Combination Blow: Gives a chance for all sword stances (idk about normal hits) to do an extra hit of damage equal to the damage done with a normal attack. Cooldown and duration are both horrible unfortunately.
Blade Storm: Self-Aoe that hits twice. I am still not quite sure how the damage mechanism works exactly.
A quick word on the debate between twin-wielding swordies (with finesse) and sword prots (with shield). If you haven't noticed by now, both of the new skills in Candyland require weapons in both hands to be effective, therefore I would not recommend being a sword prot at higher levels cuz you'll be stuck with half-effective skills. At lower levels though, it is a personal preference. I would still prefer twin-wielding swordies just because they do more damage up close and they capitalize on the attack speed bonus with finesse and two swords. Sword prots are kind of a midway class-they have less attack speed then a pure swordsman but less def then a pure prot. And IMO I believe in choosing one aspect and specializing just in that, rather than trying to have both and yet not quite get there.
Finesse and Recovering SP Lamps
While we're on the subject of double-wielding swordies, thought I would include a brief list of how the "Obtain 1 SP Lamp" effect of finesse works exactly. If you're a double-wielding swordie you're gonna be seeing this effect. It can be very helpful for keeping your SP from draining, since other then AOEs all SP-using sword stances use only 1 sp.
After experimenting with it, have found that:
- It’s only for characters with finesse, regardless of actual class. My spearman with finesse at lvl 77 and swordsman lvl 100+ can get it, while my archer without finesse cannot get it. My guess is the lvl of finesse does not matter either, but not sure.
- There is a chance to "Obtain 1 SP lamp" when you use any SP skill, even if it is not an attack. Only skills that use SP have a chance to obtain SP, so in a sense you are regaining SP, not getting more o.o And yes, this does work during skilling as well...buffs that use SP also have a chance.
- A purple whirlwind shows up around your char when you obtain 1 sp lamp.
- The amount of SP you obtain is always 1 for a single skill regardless of how much SP the skill actually used.
For anyone who doesn't know, a "hybrid" is when you add in another weapon skill (axe, spear, bow) into a default or "pure" skill set (the skills you start with when first choosing a class), with the resulting customized set of skills being your "build". A common question I get asked is what's my build. In terms of possible swordsman builds the options are fairly open like any other melee class, just be prepared that there are risks which will come with every change you make. That said I do think it is a good idea to add an extra skill on top of sword, simply because sword buffs, as mentioned above, focus on DOT damage and hp recovery. The only exception would be swiftness song which is only really useful up close. Now, when you're training on mobs and general PvE this isn't such a big deal, however if you like to play competitively in PvP the lack of standout sword buffs becomes a bigger issue. As such, I would recommend swapping in an extra skill, for the extra buffs (and attacks if you're inclined to swap weapons). You could swap in more than one skill, but if you're just starting out in the game I wouldn't recommend it as it unbalances your character, additional weapon skills require additional skilling and might make the game harder than it needs to be.
In terms of which skills to swap out swordsman are like any other melee class. The default swordsman build is sword/grapple/enhance/finesse/reserve/garment. Pretty much the only skills you can afford to change around are grapple/enhance. Sword you obviously can't change, reserve is not recommended since you'll lose attack and more importantly, SP lanterns. Without reserve you'll be stuck at 2 sp lamps which rules out the use of any advanced aoes. Garment I won't go into detail for the purposes of this guide, I'll be assuming you keep that. I have seen swordsman with vestment + life for example, which is possible but it is hard to play as effectively and requires a hefty investment of time/AG/buffs to make it work. Finesse is the one area in which swordsman are slightly different from other classes. For archers and spearman you could swap out finesse without any significant problem. You'd lose attack speed (which isn't that high anyway) and some agility but that's about it. For swordsman however, in addition to providing attack speed and agility finesse also allows the use of 2 weapons, one on each hand. Without it swordsman can only hold 1 sword, which besides looking strange is also ineffective. Attack speed would decrease (important for a swordsman), you'd lose power for the 2 new candyland skills, and you're missing a second hit with the sword that could be in the left hand. The only time when you'd want to change out finesse is if you're going to be a sword prot, in that case you'll hold a shield in the left hand and as such you won't need a left hand sword. Otherwise I wouldn't recommend moving Finesse. And I have heard the argument that with 1 sword it is easier to use stances because you're skipping the second hit, and going straight to another stance right after the first hit. Yes and no, I think it seems that way only because the timing for casting stances is harder with 2 swords then 1, because when the left hand sword is "out" and hitting, you can't cast. In any case I'll show you a trick near the end of this guide on how to get around that.
When swapping in a weapon skill, the first thing you'll want to swap out is Enhance. In doing so you'll lose 12 hp and 1 def per level of the skill. Grapple is about the same, you'll also lose 12 hp but also 1 attack and 1 rigor (accuracy) per level of the skill. I recommend getting rid of enhance first simply because its a choice between losing def or losing attack/accuracy (hp loss is the same), and def is easier to gain through equips compared to attack. If, after that, you decide to swap in a second skill, then get rid of grapple too. Be warned though, that by getting rid of both enhance/grapple hp will be low, which can be a problem, especially for new players. Like for any other class, think it through carefully and weigh the possible risks/gains, before deciding to change skills.
The build that I am currently using is sword/spear/avatar/finesse/reserve/garment. Low hp and low def, I rely on avatar to survive. This skill set is meant for high attack power and in my case, for spamming Twin Blade Atk and getting the most damage out of it. Anyone who wants to try it feel free to, just be warned that it is NOT easy to use, you'll need buffs to compensate for the lack of hp. An easy to use build is swordsman with avatar, sword/grapple/avatar/finesse/reserve/garment. Avatar does not require separate skilling, so it is easy to level and the avatar skill deceptive clone really helps for surviving. Other variations which do require separate skilling (and that I have tried) include sword/axe/grapple/finesse/reserve/garment and sword/spear/grapple/finesse/reserve/garment. Axe for def/critical buffs, spear for atk/hp buffs. They are both nice complements to the somewhat limited buffs of swordsman, and may be easier to use then my own highly specialized build. If anyone wants extra tips for builds, feel free to PM/Mail.
For skilling as a swordsman, there is a special AB setup that I use to skill faster. It’s actually quite simple, put bloody storm in "hp under _%" under auto-assist in AB, and set the _% to 100%. Then take your pet out (its easiest to use a low lvl pet with 0 satiation, since it is just going to sit there) and go to the pet section of AB, and set "auto-help pet when below _%hp" to 100% hp and put crazy roar (or anti-locked tactics) into the box. Do not use the "when pet below _% mp" box, it will not work. Put your remaining skills into AB for skilling as you normally would. Basically what this does is it will continually spam bloody storm, and as a result you will not run out of SP to spam crazy roar, allowing faster skilling. Normal spam of bloody storm for skilling involves using the "When hp above _% recover _ SP (use spell bloody storm)", the problem with this is that since the crazy roar spam is continual but the use of bloody storm is not (AB will only use BS periodically and when hp is high enough), SP will quickly run out and the result is a constant "not enough SP" spam straight down the chat box.
The issue with continual bloody storm spam is the continuous hp loss. Unlike when using the "When hp above _% recover _SP" under combat in AB, putting bloody storm in auto-assist means that AB will not stop when your hp is too low. It will continually use BS until your hp is too low to use another bloody storm, in which case BS will be forced to stop and there will be "Not Enough HP" spam in your box, slowing down your skilling. To restore hp a healer would be used to help, however the continual BS spam means that unless you have multiple healers, the constant loss of hp is so fast that a healer cannot keep up, which eventually results in "Not Enough HP". As a swordsman though, I have been able to use continuous BS spam, have only one lvl 65 earth healer with holy heal 4, and still be able to keep up with hp recovery. How? Well first of all, my build has low hp which means that BS doesn't take off very much hp per use. More importantly though, swordsman have two hp recovery buffs, injury cure and spine shell, which along with my healer and her earth blessing 5 (yeah I'm cheap xD) is enough to keep my hp up during continuous bloody storm use without a problem.
Try this method and see if it works for you. Take off your armor first though; it'll be breaking before you know it. And a slight caveat I should mention...I AM using lvl 5 versions of both hp recovery buffs, plus as mentioned my hp itself is low. I have tried this when, for example, I was lb5ed and my hp was higher. BS took more hp per use as a result, and my healer could no longer keep up. Also your healer will be using up mp pots too cuz it has to heal continuously, which can make this skilling very expensive. My advice again would be to try it and see if it works for you. If you start getting "Not enough HP" spam then it is probably not a good idea xD.
Swordsman are generally quite good at training due to their high attack speed-they do damage to and kill mobs quickly. This refers to training on AB; training with aoes in, for example, instance maps are slightly different. Swordsman can do AOE training, but compared to other classes their aoes lack power and its all self aoes (at least for now). As such, the only way for a swordsman to aoe a group of mobs would be rush into a group, aoe, and come back out again...it’s very easy to get ganged and take a ton of damage, or even have your aoes cancelled when you're hit. One good thing about swordsman and aoe training is that they are capable of comboing aoes quite easily...it’s possible to do a revolving sword, and then follow it up with a splitting attack, or vice versa. This is due to the fact that both are self aoes and have the same, relatively fast casting speed. However, the total SP cost of this combo is 8, higher then what the vast majority of people have, so to use this combo you'll have to play it smart. Use revolving sword in the middle of a big group of mobs; if you hit/kill enough of them you'll recover the 4 sp needed for splitting attack, maybe more. So use revolving sword first, then if there are mobs remaining after that follow up with splitting attack. I would recommend keeping a separate bar for aoeing, with both aoes on the same bar, to make this easier.
When it comes to AB training, the beauty of swordsman once again lies in the 2 hp recovery skills, injury cure and spine shell. If you use mark scrolls to train, you'll find that these 2 skills save you a lot of scrolls. Both skills cost mp in order to heal your hp. So they cost you mp pots, and save you hp pots. But at the higher levels, these 2 skills will heal a lot more hp (and thus save you in hp pots), then they will cost in mp (reducing your mp pots). This is due to the skills having a durative effect; they cost you once in mp upon casting but heals your hp multiple times when active, saving you more hp pots per mp pot used. Thus the ratio of hp to mp pots that AB is set to buy when on mark scroll can focus more heavily on mp (if you set AB to buy 200 hp and 200 mp, perhaps you could set it to 100 hp and 300 mp). This allows your char to be training for longer periods of time without having to repot, saving you mark scrolls while still being efficient with pot consumption. Sorry if this is kind of math-ish and hard to understand, just think of this example ratio: For every mp pot you spend on casting the buffs, you can save 2 hp pots because the buffs restored hp (for example, it is not exact). It is even possible to train without a healer and without hp pots, using just mp pots. As long as the 2 hp recovery buffs heal more damage then you're taking from the mobs, the mobs are passive (so you don't get ganged) and somewhat easy to kill, you can easily do crazy pot ratios such as 50 hp and 1400 mp (or more), and last for hours on one scroll. FA is a good example of a place where you can pull a stunt like this.
One final trick for AB training which you may like to try is simple: put Revolving Air Chop into the "when attacked by _ number of monsters use skill" box under Combat in AB, and set the number of monsters to 1. What this does is AB will use RAC more often, sometimes even comboing RAC and pk5 (or TBA if you have it) if pk5 is in the "SP skill" slot. This results in faster training and faster killing of mobs. Side effects include an increase in mp pot consumption due to increased use of RAC, and a strange bug where your char will attack any mobs nearby, even if they are passive and not included in the "Attack Designated Enemy" box. Yes this includes passive bosses so be careful. Your best bet is to give it a shot and see if it works for where you are training, and whether you like the effect.
When camping bosses with a swordsman, there's a couple setups you can use. There is the standard AB configuration: Pk5/TBA in First/SP skill slots, RAC in common skill slot. Much like how you would set up AB to train. This works fine for most bosses, but the problem comes when you're trying to camp a boss which is roughly your own level and does heavy damage with stances/spells. Swordsman do not have the hp or defense for a long,drawn-out fight, so in this case you'll want to kill the boss as fast as possible. I've found that even TBA does not do enough damage in some instances however because of the way in which angel baby uses the skills - AB will use your SP skill first, hit normally, then use SP skill again until you run out of SP. Your common skill will not be used until your SP runs out. Considering TBA has a 1.5 second cooldown and Pk5 has a 1 second cooldown, this can create a problem with damage consistency; again, not a problem for lower level or low-damage dealing bosses, but the alternation between high-low-high-low damage (and the possibility that a stance can be interrupted if your enemy criticals) means that it can take a very long time to kill a boss; and when you're fighting a high level boss with plenty of hp, taking more time to kill it increases the chances that your pots/healer will not be able to keep up with the damage you're taking.
So what do you do when you're attempting to camp a boss which can kill you before you can kill it? Well obviously you can kill it manually, but another method I've found is to use sword spell when camping. This is tricky however - putting sword spell in your auto assist will cause AB to use the buff as soon as the cooldown is over, regardless of whether the boss is there or not. When you consider that sword spell has a 6 second (depending on level) duration and 30 second cooldown, you have a roughly 20-30% shot that sword spell will be active when the boss has spawned. Worse, since the buff can be used at anytime and not right when the boss arrives, even if sword spell is active when the boss spawns you may or may not get the full duration of it - it may be used too early (couple seconds before the boss spawns) or too late (right before the boss dies).
Another method that I've tried is to put sword spell in the "First" attack skill slot. This worked for a few times but now it does not (I have yet to figure out why).
Given all these issues, if you want to use sword spell effectively to camp try the following angel baby setup. I've numbered the key areas you need to pay attention to. And credits to cstreak's guide here on camping with steel rain as this setup derives some ideas from his guide.
1. Leave all attack slots blank, you'll want to use just normal hits for attacking.
2. Check the box "attack the appointed enemy" so your character only attacks the boss, not mobs. Input the exact name of the boss into the list - I have had cases where my char will not attack because I put "Sabertooth" Yagre instead of "Sabretooth Yagre". The safest way would be to use the "nearby enemy list" when the boss is around and transfer the name directly from there, especially useful when the name of the boss is longer then what is shown.
3. Set the number of monsters to 1, and put sword spell in the box. The key to this is that sword spell will be used when the boss hits you ie. when the boss is actually there and around the time when your character starts fighting it, not too late or too early.
4. This is optional, but if you have avatar use deceptive clone; check the box and put deceptive clone (the yellow one) here. The clone will help you survive the time it takes sword spell to cast and the duration of time it is active.
5. Also optional - sword spell does not use SP, and you're not using any SP attacks with this setup so Bloody Storm is not really necessary, but I have included it anyway for sake of completeness. The 99% hp figure makes sure that your character only recharges SP when the boss is not around, so you'll always be ready for the boss with a full SP bar.
Try this and see how it works. If set up correctly your character should use only normal attacks and use sword spell after getting hit once or twice by the boss. One thing to keep in mind however: this setup only works well if after sword spell is finished the boss is dead or is close to dead. If after sword spell runs out the boss still has a lot of hp left, you'll be left whacking the boss with normal hits until its hp runs out, which is slow. If you're having trouble killing a boss within one cast of sword spell, focus on increasing your attack and attack speed - have a healer around to cast vigor blessing, upgrade your sword spell level so it will last longer, and use Sword Requiem to increase your attack speed. I have tested this so I'm sure it works, but if there are any other questions or problems feel free to PM me.
Saving the best for last. It is time to start talking about how to kill people, and how to come out on top as a swordie /Rface4. Remember how I mentioned that swordsman have two advantages not listed in numerical stats, and that is attack speed and stance speed? Attack speed I don't think I have to elaborate on too much; it’s basically how fast your character's normal strikes hit. When you look at the effects of the 119 sword buff and how much damage it can do with just normal attacks, I think its a good demonstration of how even a normal hit can be important. And a key here: with faster attack speed you can use more stances within a short period of time. If you look carefully you'll notice that, assuming your enemy is in range of a normal attack, after using a stance unless you immediately use another stance your char will automatically use a normal hit. During this time your stances will be in cooldown. If this "filler" normal hit goes faster, you'll be in a position to use another round of stances sooner. Remember that you cannot use stances while a normal hit is in progress, the best you can do is "line up" stances to be used right when the normal hit is finished. This is an important concept so keep it in mind. Watch the movement of your weapon and learn when is the right moment to press the hotkeys for another string of skills. Playing as an effective swordsman requires timing.
The other half of the equation would be the stance speed of sword skills. When I refer to stance speed I'm really referring to both the casting speed and cooldown of stances. Cooldown relates to what is mentioned above. If your stances have a lower cooldown they'll be ready for use again sooner, meaning you can launch another round of attacks before your opponent can. Sword stances have the advantage of a low cooldown, meaning that even if they don't have highest damage they can used more often within the same period of time. Often, when in the hands of an practiced player this can make all the difference. Casting speed relates to another important concept for swordsman - comboes. Comboes are when you string certain stances together into one chain, without any break in between. You can tell which stances can be comboed with each other by looking at if when you use a stance, will it cause the icons for another stance to "black out" (the icon will dark and be unusable). If it doesn't those two stances can be comboed together. Sword stances have fast casting speed meaning they can be strung together into a combo quickly without any gaps, and without allowing the enemy time to react. Furthermore most of the higher level sword stances can be comboed together. Revolving Air Chop can be comboed with almost anything, so does Twin Blade Attack. To actually use a combo, simply use the skills one after another in rapid sucession. This isn't button mashing however, to really attack effectively you need to judge the conditions of the battle and act accordingly. The enemy is far away? Use pk5 + tba. The enemy is up close? Try pk5 + rac + tba. Does the enemy move in close after your TBA? Try pk5 + tba + rac, using your RAC right when your opponent draws near. Is your opponent still not dying after a 3-hit combo? Try a pk5 + rac + tba + silence. Stop your opponent from recovering the damage you just caused, and hit them again. There are of course other comboes, especialy when you factor in weapon changes. The key is to practice, and to use what corresponds to the situation at hand.
When it comes to breaking gates and statues in HB, swordies are quite adept at it. There is the obvious reason, which is the attack speed, and then is there is the lvl 119 sword buff. It is very good for doing damage to gates and statues, but there are a few things you should be aware of. First, if you're hitting a gate, then of course there will be people coming out trying to stop you. Now if they try to tank you and attack from close range, there isn't a problem, just turn around and hit them back (119 sword buff can be very dangerous to opponents trying to tank). But, if the person running out is, say, a mage or archer, what they will likely do is come out of the gate, run a short distance away, and then start attacking from range. If 119 sword buff is active at that time, you're not going to be able to fire back; you'd have to chase them which generally proves fruitless. What I would recommend is to use the sword buff right when you start attacking the gate, and after that first use runs out don't use it anymore unless you're hitting another gate/statue. This is because generally, people need a few moments to realize that one of their gates is being attacked, and afterwards they will yell something in Battlefield chat and that's when people will start coming to stop you. Once people start coming you need your stances ready to fight them, but in the first few moments of attacking a gate that's usually not a problem. Another issue is the growing trend (at least in my server) for people to cast rebound spell 5 on gates and statues. Buffing gates and statues in HB does work, and effectively what rebound 5 does is bounce back 20% of the damage done by normal hits (excluding stances and spells) back to the attacker. Mainly this is used to stop sharks who can only use normal attacks, however this is a major problem for swordsman as well. Sword spell only allows normal attacks to be used, and when applied to a gate buffed with Rebound 5 this means you will receive a continual stream of damages back to your character which can easily overwhelm your pots. For example, in HB I can do around 30k damage to a gate per hit with sword spell active. 20% of 30k is 6k, meaning that for each hit I do on the gate 6k damage goes back to me. Clones cannot block this damage, and since I rarely have over 10k hp in HB I'll be dead in 2 hits (6k + 6k = 12k damage > 10k hp). The bad news is there is not much you can do about this, except by testing gates with a couple hits to see if they are buffed with rebound 5 before using your sword spell. If there is rebound spell 5 on a gate, then do not use the 119 sword buff and instead use your stances, but unless you are attacking a gate from a distance using only stances expect that your hp will still be going down intermittently due to the normal hits in between your stance hits. This results in an increase both in the number of pots used and the amount of the time it will take to bring down a gate.
Secondly, there is the matter of actually attacking once the sword 119 buff is active. To use normal attacks, you would click on a target and let your character handle the rest. However, whether its due to a bug, an insensitive mouse or some other reason, there are times when even if you click on a statue or gate, your char won't move, or it won't attack. Or you have to reposition your character manually a bit and then click the target again. Or you have to click multiple times on the same target. For instance, I have problems hitting totems in war when buff is active; often I would click on the totem again and again and nothing happens, and meanwhile the time on the buff is ticking away. Most of the time it is easy to see if your character is not attacking, however in HB when there is a crowd of people all hitting the gate it can be hard to see your char, let alone what it is doing. This can lead to the annoying and potentially dangerous situation where you think you're hitting something even when you're not. Unfortunately this is more of a game/control issue and the best I can do is to let you all know that these problems do occasionally pop up. What I would recommend is turning up the volume during pvp events so you can hear your character; when your character is attacking, it makes a specific sound. This helps during times when you cannot see your character.
Another interesting use that I am finding for sword spell is on sharks (and orangutans). If you think about it shark shift is very similar to sword spell: disabled stances in exchanged for a dramatic increase in stats. Trying to combo on a shark is generally fruitless because with its increased def and hp they can easily withstand your attacks. If the shark survives the first round of attacks, it can easily pummel you to death while you are stuck in cooldown after a combo. The solution then would be to use sword spell, but the key here is timing and knowing when to invoke the buff. Use it when a shark is either coming towards you or standing close by, but not when the shark is either far away or moving away; remember, you cannot chase effectively once sword spell is activated. The fact that sharks cannot use stances will become a weakness here, they will be forced to either tank you or run away. If it tanks you, simply whack it to death; unless the shark can kill you in a couple hits (try using avatar to survive longer) you will be able to kill it first. The high attack speed means you can land multiple up-close hits in the time it takes the shark to land one, while the attack bonus and transfer means that although a shark of course has more def and hp, your attack power won't be very much lower then the shark's. This is one of the few instances in which attack speed makes a huge difference. Try it out and see - used well this can be a shark's worse enemy.
All of this is fine and well if you're lvl 100+ and have access to the high-level sword skills which do good damage and can be comboed. But what if you're below lvl 100 and playing as a swordsman? The unfortunate truth is that below lvl 100, your options as a swordsman are really very limited. Virtually no stances can be comboed together, and on top of that they lack power. In this case, you'll need to make do with what you have. Pk5 is important here, it allows you to do damage much easier then without it. But I should stress that swordsman aren't going to do much damage just by firing pk5 from a distance. Rather, get up close to an opponent and use your high attack speed and mp stances to cause damage. Silence is important here; use that first to stop healing and then alternate between pk5 and mp stances to do damage. These are important strategies for all melee classes, but especially for swordsman. Remember above all that a swordsman's strength lies in attacking up close. This is especially important at lower levels.
Here is where I'll make a note of all the various aspects of my guide which have been superseded by expansion updates, patch updates, and other system updates. In other words, if IGG makes changes to the game which affects the information I have previously included in my guide, I will delete or edit the relevant sections; however I will record here that a change has been made. This is to help prevent confusion, as well as a providing a quick overview of what I have had to revise to keep my guide up-to-date.
- The trick of using a single-hand pd in order to hit faster for a double-wielding swordsman has been fixed. Now the attack speed is exactly the same regardless of PD used. Also, previously when using a single-hand pd only the right hand sword would be damaged and only the right hand's attack power would be used for attacks (normal hits). Now the attack of both left and right hands will be used, and the actual hits will be done with both weapons even if there is only a PD on one hand.
Credits, Acknowledgments, and a Final Word
First of all, I hope you all enjoyed this guide and found something meaningful to take out of it. What you have just read is the result of many, many hours of work taking screenshots, putting all my ideas into words, and toying with the format. It took me over 30 hours to write this, and it took me over 3 years to get all this information, so again, hope you had as much fun reading this as I had writing it.
As mentioned, this guide will continue to grow and be updated. I've tried to include as much as I can, but if there is something you still want to know or feel should be included, then PM me on here or mail my character BlkWing in Sofiel. Spam, of course, will be ignored so please be constructive and I will get around to it as soon as I can. As new expansions come out, new skills will be posted here as they are available, and I will make a note of that in the title.
The description of "can do alot of damage within a short period of time" that IGG gives to swordsman does not do it justice. It is easy to play as a swordsman, it is much harder to play it well. In many ways swordsman let the actual skill of the player shine through. Spamming one powerful skill just isn't going to cut it. It takes effort to master and an investment in time to learn, but if you're persistent enough you'll find a job class which is the kingpin of close combat and fluid, beautiful battle techniques. Getting there isn't always easy, but it can be well worth it.
There is a story behind why I chose to be a swordsman and stayed that way all these years, amidst everyone telling me to change classes, that swordies s*ck. Back when I was a little noob (around lvl 48, which was actually pretty good back then), I met another guy who is also a swordsman. We became friends, he got me into my first league, and we noticed that AO was dominated by protectors. There were hardly any swordsman, and we resolved to show people how strong swordsman can be. We believed that if we got good, high attack swords, we could kill even protectors because of our high attack speed. This was our promise three years back that I continue to fulfill today. To show everyone that a swordsman can be just as strong as everyone else, or even stronger. It has become our dream. And I hope that through this guide and through what I have achieved in AO so far, I have shown to all of you that dreams do come true, that as long as you have the drive and persistence anything is possible. /Rface14
Finally, here is a little list of all the people who have helped me with this guide or to get me to where I am today:
- To Renan, who I mentioned in the above story: I know you probably aren't reading this, but if you are, just know that I kept our vow alive
- Mitsuhide: I remember when you said you wanted to see the day when I will charge into battle with 2 Adam's Power. Well I hope I have made you proud.
- Slyph: sheesh Annie, come back D: Well you're another one who helped me back when I was a little noob. It was fun in old Legacy.
- Lizzy: Kept me up all the long nights I spent writing this guide, talking about Gossip Girl xD <3
- Chey: Just cuz she ish my baby<3
- Sofy: Just cuz she is my sweety<3
- Jose: For selling me that 140s sword and helping with some other things throughout. Its okay, I know you love me too o.o xD
- San: For giving me that crystal in HB and helping get me to 140. And for the long long chats we have. You're still a dork though<3
- Basth, Bbq, Rhemz dear, and all the other AM pervs (you know who you are): You all encourage me and make this fun. No worries, I'm not going anywhere xD
- Quix: Full of people who admit they are pervs xD. Pervy chat starts here o.o
- And finally, all of you: I saw the thread in AO media congratulating me for lvl 140and I was thinking, you all make it worthwhile for me to continue playing as a swordie. To quote from a person in So You Think You Can Dance: "I believe we all inspire each other". That couldn't be more true here.
This second list is for all the people who have given suggestions, ideas, etc that I have added to the guide. Since I'm too lazy to find the appropriate section in the guide and change it every time someone gives me an idea, I will simply post it here xD If I feel its important I will change the actual guide though. Everything that I post in this list HAS been tested by me. Ty to these people:
- Gio: Barrier of Justice can cancel the effect of 119 sword spell, Death Chop can be used in combo with RAC. Sword Spell (119 sword buff) is useful for killing sharks that are forced to tank you.
- Kareem: 119 sword spell can be activated after the use of 0.1 second cast stances to increase power (I have tried it, the timing is brutal though >.o)
- Conci: To attack with normal hits right click on the target and left click on the hp/name bar. Useful for when using 119 sword skill.
- Albrastos: For providing info on Egypt expansion skills, and Dinoland before that (from Indonesia AO)
That first list sounded like it belongs in a quit thread. No I don't plan to quit anytime soon, it's just that there are a lot of people whom I have wanted to mention but never got the chance to. To all the swordsman out there, don't give up and keep going, our potential is limitless. /Rface12
[ Last edited by JdeDragon at 10-21-2011 02:33 ]