In today's Friday Feature, we feature a write-up by long-time community member Randolo. In this article, Randolo goes into detail on the four different melee combat skill trees, outlining pros and cons to each, as well as some tips and tricks to make the most of the skills. Thank you Randolo!
Hello, my name is Randolo, I’ve been a member of Empire in Flames since Launch Day, playing off and on casually until taking a much more active role in the community over the past year or so. With the variety of players we have on Empire in Flames (EiF), I wanted to address some questions and constructive conversations I've seen popping up over the last few months in the general chat. To make things a bit clearer and assist newer players, I decided to take a thorough examination of all the unique iterations of Melee skill trees available in EiF, detailing their strengths, weaknesses, and some fun tips for each one.
Before we begin, let’s go over a few terms you should learn about Melee Combat on EiF and phrases we will use throughout this article. These universal tips should also prove helpful to you in any combat scenario.
- Center of Being (CoB) is a defensive buff that every Melee Skill Tree can use. It’s an ability you can activate manually, or create a macro to ensure it’s constantly running and always in effect. CoB reduces the damage you take (efficacy skill mod divided by three, every melee tree has 60 efficacy, so 20% damage reduction) though you deal 25% less damage while it is active. You cannot activate CoB with another active melee buff known as Berserk.
- Berserk is a more aggressive melee buff that increases damage output by 25% and provides an accuracy bonus, but reduces Melee and Ranged Defense by 50 and halves your secondary Defense. While Berserk is active on your character, you are immune to Intimidate – a state that would otherwise reduce your outgoing damage and reduce your secondary defense. If you activate Berserk while Intimidated, you can immediately clear the Intimidate state. While the trade off of more outgoing damage at the cost of being more susceptible to incoming damage may seem risky in some situations, you can reduce the Defense penalty and further enhance the accuracy bonuses by using Armor and/or Clothing attachments with the Berserk skill mod. Again, you will not be able to activate Berserk if you are already running CoB.
- Toughness is a direct Melee damage reduction. One point of Toughness is 1% damage reduction incoming Melee Damage while wielding that particular weapon. For example, if you have 20 polearm Toughness, you receive a 20% damage reduction using any polearm weapon but that Toughness goes away if you pull out your pistol, carbine, one-handed sword, etc.
Another thing to keep in mind are standard location hit attacks. You have Body Hit, Leg Hit, and Head Hit, all of which have been modified to attack your target’s Health pool. Teras Kasi’s Leg and Head Hit are the only exceptions to this which each target an opponent’s Action and Mind, respectively. Bleed attacks still target their original respective pools as well, however, Fencer has quite a few additional bleeds that we'll get into later.
You can increase your damage up to 5% by utilizing a total of +25 [Weapon] Damage mods from Skill Enhancing Attachments (also known as tapes or SEAs) and GCW Planetary Bonuses. Teras Kasi Artists get this automatically as part of their unarmed damage skill as they level, automatically granting +25 to Unarmed Damage at Master. You will not benefit from any additional Unarmed Damage SEAs.
Before we get into the specifics of each Melee Skill Tree, here is a brief overview of how they relate to one another in terms of Overall Damage Potential and Tanking Potential/Toughness. Our Melee Skill Trees are Fencer, Swordsman, Polearm, and Teras Kasi Artist (TKA).
- Teras Kasi Artist
- Teras Kasi Artist
Fencers have some of the best damage output of the game, but they take a significant amount of damage if they receive a hit and have to rely on Dodge to avoid incoming damage. Swordsman is second for potential damage output but is slightly tougher than Fencers. Pikeman does not deal as much damage as Swordsman and Fencer but its Toughness and sweeping area attacks are second to none, making them reliable tanks. Finally, we have Teras Kasi Artist, which does the least amount of overall damage but makes up for it by having the most significant tanking potential and access to all states.
It is important to note that there are some specific use cases where Pikeman may be a better choice for tanking a particular fight than TKA, or Swords might be better to bring along than a Fencer. We will get into those specifics as we break down each tree; the above lists are a comprehensive overview of how they relate to damage potential and defensive potential.
Let’s jump right into it, and focus first on Fencer.