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Jedi Sidious

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    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    Our in-depth look at campaign heroes begins with Gaarkhan (Core Set). If you missed our general discussion of Gaarkhan's traits and abilities, you can find that here. This time, we'll take an in-depth look at the first of many possible Gaarkhan builds, which I've nicknamed...
    "The Brawler"

    The Big Picture. The game-plan of this build is beautifully simplistic: Gaarkhan “charges” every activation, bashing into as many hostile figures as possible and dealing as many of them as possible as much damage as possible. Since he’s (literally) charging head-first into the rat’s nest (ok, maybe not completely literally), he expects to get damaged a lot, and probably wounded (especially if your IP is more like a dungeon-master than another competitor, with stormtroopers who act realistically [“There’s a wookiee right on top of us!”] instead of making… rational gameplay decisions).
     
    Core Xp strategy: if we expect to be wounded, “Unstoppable” is a complete no-brainer. If the IP leaves Gaarkhan alone and healthy, he has the Endurance to trigger “Charge” with its insane five space range (perpetually without resting, if we run with a weapon designed to net us a couple extra surges each round for Recover). And if the IP targets us, we still have good endurance and speed while wounded, plus a static +2D bonus. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, right? Since “Charge” is an essential part of our play strategy, “Rampage” is an obvious include, too (more damage). So is “Brutal Cleave” (What’s better than spending a single activation to rush 5 spaces, deal splash damage to a bunch of bucketheads, attack them, and have a second action left for a follow-up attack? How about a third attack?). That’s a core of three skills for 11 xp, which we should be able to get even if the Rebels tank the campaign.
    Xp perks: If we have xp left over, there are some additional skills we could consider. In most campaigns the Rebels can get to 12xp, and for 1 xp “Wookie Fortitude” gives us a cheap option to remove a Stun or Bleed if we want a full, unimpeded activation (to “Charge,” of course) or to recover some extra damage on the back-end. If we manage to land 13 xp, “Ferocity” might be attractive, especially if the IP does focus-fire Gaarkhan (or if we have another ally like Diala or Gideon who can Focus us). And if we somehow end up with a whopping 14xp (not likely, but it can happen), we could either grab both of these or lock-in the option to get +1D for a strain through “Vicious Strike.” Whether or not we have the +2D from “Unstoppable,” the option to add +1D on a dime may mean the difference between a target living or dying, applying or not applying a keyword, etc.
    Weapon choice: Speaking of keywords, to inflict maximum damage we probably want a weapon with Cleave, either natively or through the addition of the Weighted Head mod (once we get access to Tier II). Decent surge chance would be nice in the abstract (especially since we’re planning to spend 2 strain each activation to “Charge,” and eventually at least one more to “Brutal Cleave”), although it’s probably more important to make sure our dice pool will deal the 1D+ past defense dice that we need to trigger Cleave in the first place. We should probably consider the Balanced Hilt on weapons with a native Cleave ability (or with two mod slots) to help the Cleave fire more consistently, especially if our weapon is rolling one (or more) Red. And it would also be nice to have Reach or the ability to Pierce without spending surges, although those may end up being luxuries we can’t afford.
    Item choice: This will depend on just how much we spend on our weapon. But if we can find a relatively cheap weapon (1000-1200 credits), we could end up with 300-400 credits to spend on other accessories. If strain management is an issue (because our weapon doesn’t roll enough surges to consistently Recover, the IP is running a strain-focused imperial class deck, etc), we might look for items that either buff our Endurance or remove strain (either completely or allow us to shuffle it elsewhere). If not, items that buff our weapon’s damage--and especially our weapon’s surge procs--would be fantastic buys, especially if we have multiple surge abilities for Cleave (and especially if we also have Reach). Items that allow us to do additional unblockable damage to another target (or two) without depleting or spending an action (or to obtain items like that) could also be valuable in this build if they’re not too cost prohibitive.
    So with those broad brush strokes in place, time to dive into the nitty-gritty!
     
    Early Campaign (0-3xp, Tier I Gear, ~600 Credits)
     
    Mid-Campaign (4-8xp, Tier I & II Gear, ~1200 Credits)
     
     
    Late Campaign (9-12xp, Tier I, II, & III Gear, ~1600 Credits)
     
    Well, that's a wrap on our first Gaarkhan archetype, "the Brawler." Have you played Gaarkhan as an in-your-face, no-holds barred melee menace? Did you opt for Cleave, or did you go with some other combat goal? What weapons did you like (or discover you didn't)? If you've got something to share, join the conversation and build the communal knowledge! And if you've got a Gaarkhan build you'd like us to math, let us know!
     
    Other entries in this series:
     
    Gaarkhan: The Basics (11/3/2017) Gaarkhan: "The Brawler" (11/4/2017) [Rampage, Unstoppable, Brutal Cleave, Wookiee Fortitude]  
     
    Additional Resources:
     
     
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    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    The Galaxy's Fate in My Hand
    Part the Eighteenth: "Here at the end of all things..." in which we return to our roots, because our final top-15 raises more questions than it answers...   Well here we are. Having run detailed tests on more than two-hundred-twelve different melee/mod combinations (each with vs. 1 Black and vs. 1 White variants), we finally have enough data to answer the ultimate question of this series: which melee weapon is the baddest of the bad, the deadliest of the deadly, the most-fear-inspiring of all the fear-inspiring?   And, somewhat inadvertently, what's the worst possible melee weapon we can possibly construct? If you're interested in "Mr. Irrelevant." ;-)   Thanks to the power of data crunching, we have some answers. The results are in, our final top-15 is set, and the answers are... interesting. And limiting. And not entirely satisfying.   One more bullet-point spoiler list, for old time's sake. The Ancient Lightsaber is a boss... sometimes. It's also a problem... sometimes. And there's a lot of both "sometimes-es." The Ryyk Blades are a little less boss... but still boss... The Electrostaff is a very expensive boss... The BD-1 is a boss... And just to add insult to injury: top-to-bottom, the very best melee weapon in the game is actually wielded by... a quintessentially ranged character :-P Shall we? One last time?   (At least until we (hopefully) get some new melee items from Heart of the Empire in the next two weeks?)     An elegant weapon... for when you're excessively bloody...   First, the residual Ryyk Blades caveat. If we keep our full-Convert Ryyk Blade stats (we treat Convert and the Vibrogenerator as Attack Step 4 combat modifiers, and resolve them in the order chosen by the attacker), all six Ryyk Blades outperform every other damage-dealing weapon by a significant margin. This isn't surprising, as it (a) allows us to "cheat" out the Vibrogenerator's damage without ever paying its surge cost, and (b) "converts" the Yellow die from a damage-flower to a damage-powerhouse.    But if we adjust our Ryyk Blades to not convert 2 surges before the Vibrogenerator removes them, the results change somewhat drastically. We end up with the following results:     The +2D Red-Green-Blue Shock Emitter and Balanced Hilt variants end up a the top of the heap. Their overall damage potential caps out just slightly ahead of our Shock Emitter-equipped Electrostaff, although the Electrostaff is right on their heels with an impressive chance to Cleave 2 and an outside chance at also applying a Stun.    The big loser from our partial-convert is Onar's Ryyk Blade, which went from having a pretty consistent "damage" die in the Yellow to virtually always giving up 2 surges to the Vibrogenerator. The result is a weapon that's not even top-30 (not even as a Red-Yellow-Blue), much less top-2 (as it was with a full-on Convert). The other two wounded Vibrogenerator Ryyk Blades (RGB and RBB) are still top-6 weapons, but they've been leaped by our Red-Green-Blue Ancient Lightsabers with the Shock Emitter and Balanced Hilt, and also by the Electrostaff with the Shock Emitter. The difference between the top-3 is now much closer, and the Electrostaff's Cleave 2 starts looking really good. At the same time, the two Ryyk Blades with Vibrogenerators are the only source of consistent top-6 damage (as the other top-6 weapons all have exhaust-to-use mods).    In a surprising twist, it turns out that the best Ancient Lightsaber, from start to finish, is actually... Vinto's. :-P His healthy insight pool (Green-Green-Blue) placed two weapons in our top-15 (Balanced Hilt, Shock Emitter... surprise, surprise). To be fair, the other heroes aren't that far off the pace -- the Yellow-Green-Blue Balanced Hilt lightsaber just missed the cut with an 18th place finish -- but there's a definite damage nerf to that weapon when our hero is "healthy," and a definite damage surge once our hero becomes "wounded." And of course, all three healthy lightsabers are prioritizing the +2D, instead of the Pierce 3.   Speaking of Electrostaffs and Ryyk Blades, you'll notice that these two weapons--together with our Ancient Lightsaber, are everywhere. In short, our Top-15 is dominated by Tier III weapons. Of our four contestants, only the Force Pike doesn't make an appearance (its High-Impact Guard variant caps out around 25, but as we've seen time and time again, if a weapon's top damage set-up relies on the High-Impact Guard, its damage probably isn't very consistent). Only one non-Tier III variant has managed to stick like peanut butter to the top of the standings: our Vibrogenerator + Shock Emitter BD-1, which finishes with an extremely respectable and applause-worthy 10th.   Finally, only one Pierce 3 Lightsaber makes the list. And it doesn't really count, because the Red-Green-Blue Vibrogenerator variant actually can't trigger Pierce 3 (because it can't roll the 4 surges needed for Pierce 3 to proc). So that may definitively settle the "+2D vs. Pierce 3" debate right there. :-P   But...   Questions Remain   Having said all this, there are still major question marks at the top. For one thing, ten of our top fifteen weapons are niche melee weapons (six Ancient Lightsabers, which are only top-tier options for insight heroes, and four Ryyk Blades which are only top-tier weapons for Gaarkhan, Biv, and Shyla). And with the exception of Vinto's Ancient Lightsaber, none of these insight or strength weapons are top-15 if our hero isn't wounded.   This introduces a fair amount of unpredictability and inconsistency into how these weapons perform. Unless we have a hero like Onar (who can deal damage to himself) we have very little control over how much damage our hero takes, how quickly it accumulates, or in what order our hero is targeted. In a four (or even five) hero campaign, we may be able to "get" our melee hero wounded consistently enough for this not to be a major issue. Melee heroes tend to be more "in the fray" anyway, and depending on how squishy the hero's defenses are, how reckless the player controlling that hero feels, how limited the hero becomes when wounded, and perhaps even a hero's upgrade tree, the hero player and/or IP may want to push that hero to wounded as quickly as possible.    Having said that, there's still no guarantee that our hero will be wounded. With the exception of Onar who has class cards that inflict damage on himself, our melee heroes are at the mercy of the IP for damage. Generally, this is a problem: being wounded generally sucks: our hero loses power (speed and endurance go down, attribute checks become more difficult, we lose at least one special skill). Receiving a damage bump can help to mitigate some of that loss. But on the flip side, the wounding of a hero almost always advances one of the IP's victory conditions, so voluntarily seeking an injury is a dicey proposition, especially if the rest of our rebel squad consists of squishy ranged or support characters.   And even if we decide it's in our hero's best interests to be wounded, the IP has to play along. We may want the IP to wound an Unstoppable Gaarkhan, but the IP may not (at least not until all the other rebel heroes are wounded first). If we're running a three-hero "heroic" campaign, it may prove to be very difficult for the IP to wound a hero by the time that hero obtains Tier III gear. And if it's a two-hero "legendary" campaign, wounding a Tier III hero (with double the credits to spend on gear and upgrades) becomes absurdly difficult, even if the rebel player decides to forgo double-rests.    And that's just considering the uncertainties of our basic attack pool. Most of these weapons also sport either the Balanced Hilt or Shock Emitter, and because they're only available once per activation they bring their own sustainability issues. The only fully-sustainable top-15 weapon is the Electrostaff + Vibrogenerator, which is insanely expensive at 1600 credits and likely to waste between 1-2 surges per attack (because the odds of rolling 1-2 surges with three dice, even if they're Red-Green-Blue, are still pretty good).   And speaking of credits... eyah.    It's possible to land a top-15 melee weapon for 1250 credits (RGB Ryyk Blades + Balanced Hilt), but that's only an attractive option if we're Gaarkhan, Biv, or Shyla (remember, Onar's drops out of the top-30 even when he's wounded). A Yellow-Green-Blue Ryyk Blade with Balanced Hilt is far less terrifying. And that's with the Hilt available (not exhausted). The Electrostaff with the Shock Emitter gets us out of the niche, at least, and offers a far more stable Red-Green-Blue pool, but we're still at full-power just once per activation (and for a whopping 1750 credits). The BD-1 + Vibrogenerator + Shock Emitter runs into the same issue (for 1450 credits). And as we've already mentioned, the only sustainable weapon among these is that 1600 credit Electrostaff + Vibrogenerator.   Now, depending on the type of player you are (and/or the type of campaign your running), some or none of this may bother you. Some rebel players are lucky enough to land enough loot for a power-weapon like this. Maybe you pull "Generous Donations" somewhere around side-mission #4 (and execute it to perfection), making off with over 3000 credits in one fell swoop. Maybe you make a point of collecting every crate, every mission, and pinch your pennies for the first six campaign missions so you can purchase that perfect Tier III monster. Or maybe you're depriving yourself of the "full" campaign experience by only running three (or, God forbid, two) heroes, and thus have far less demand on your credit pool. (Okay, sorry about that... I forgot we're not supposed to be judgmental here  )   If that's you, then more power to you. (I had one of those "Generous Donations" campaigns once, and it was totally awesome.) But our final "top-15" did bother me for all the reasons I've mentioned. We don't really have a "top-15" for everyone, just a "top-15" that forces us into choosing certain heroes over others (for example, this lists offers basically no helpful information for "melee Fenn," which is my brother's favorite campaign hero ever). We started this series by really scrutinizing a weapon's consistency and sustainability as a way to reduce randomness, but virtually all of these weapons are extremely random even on their best day, and are only at their best once per activation. At least one primary reason for measuring what these weapons could do was to judge their efficiency: given what they can do (and they can do a lot), are they worth the cost? Or is there another weapon choice that will give me 85% of the damage for 50% of the cost? If there is, I want to know about that weapon, too. I may not actually choose it in the end, but I'd like to make an informed choice either way.   So before we move on to other topics in IA, I think it's worth pausing a moment (now that we have all the data for our melee weapons) to spotlight these basic principles. If you want to jump to skip them entirely, you won't miss much.  If you just want to look at the topic(s) that interest(s) you, I'll nest them under their headings. And if you want to tackle the whole thing over your holiday weekend, prepare for a deep-dive send-off worthy of these majestic implements of destruction.   Building the best "accessible" melee weapon   We'll start by building a new top-15 composed entirely of weapons that any hero could obtain. This means no more Starter weapons (not that there were any of those in our top-15 to begin with), and also no "niche" weapons--the Ryyk Blades and Ancient Lightsaber are both out. All told, we eliminate over 100 melee weapon and mod combos, for a final pool of 101 weapons that any melee hero can take and work the same for any melee hero. Here are the top performers:    
    Building the best "sustainable" melee weapon   We can further refine our top-15 to determine the top "sustainable" weapons: which weapons offer the highest damage with no exhaust-to-use components. To test for this, we'll start with our 106 "accessible" weapons, and then remove all the combos that include the Balanced Hilt, Energized Hilt, or Shock Emitter, since those aren't sustainable boosts to melee damage.   As you might imagine, this leaves us with a relatively paltry list of weapons and mods: just 33 of our original 212 weapons remain. We also end up with a cluster of weapons that are a bit more spread out. Instead of top-50 overall finishers, we end up with top-100 overall weapons (the naked Force Pike comes in at 98th out of 212 overall weapons). And instead of a lot of weapons that push out consistent 7D+s and 8D+s, we have a lot more 6D+s and 7D+s. That said, there are definitely some dynamos:    
    Building the most "efficient" melee weapon   Spoiler alert: this is the bargain-bin of melee weapons. Because we're skimping pennies, we aren't going to see any top-20 weapons here (although there is one 1000 credit bargain that comes up top-40... mostly). There be no "5 or more damage 60% of the time" weapons here, mateys. But what we do find are weapons that punch way above their weight class, and put many credit-sink weapons to shame.    Unsurprisingly, they tend to share some common elements. There are plenty of "free" +2D surge abilities and very few High-Impact Guards. There are tons of Red dice, and when they use Energized Hilt, it's always for Reds. There are plenty of Green dice, too. And there are Vibrogenerators everywhere.    Bare-bones Efficiency: The "400 and Unders"
     
    Borderline build-arounds: The "650 and Unders"
     
    Shoe-string budget powerhouses: the "1000 and unders"
     
    The "fireable offenses" ("Mr. Irrelevant")   Last one.   (I'm having a really hard time saying "goodbye" to these weapons if you couldn't tell.)   We've learned a lot about what makes a melee weapon good in this series: Red dice, "free" damage and Pierce, surge efficiency, at least one mod slot, low-cost mods, good mod synergy, three dice over two. But we haven't had an exhaustive sit-down about what makes a perfectly good weapon really, truly awful.    So what I thought I'd do here, truly at the end of all things, was to scan our melee+mod combos for the worst possible damage outcome (who we'll dub "Mr. Irrelevant"). But I also wanted to find the priciest ways to nuke the damage of a perfectly-good melee weapon. All of these weapons are trying hard: they have damage mods and are pouring every surge possible into damage (no Keyword- or Surge-first stats here). Some of these actually do respectable damage (though in the most inefficient way possible). But most of them... well, I won't spoil it.   So here are ten of the most egregious melee weapons out there: inefficient beat sticks that no one should ever take in a melee campaign... unless your "fluff" is to troll your fellow players or you're a secret Cylon agent embedded in the Rebel Alliance (or a "Changeling" if you object to sci-fi cross-over heresy).    The "Bloated Swamp-Things"     The "Really Trying for Surges"    
    The "Overly Optimistic Vibrosword"    
    The "Yellows for Greens"    
    The "Greens for Reds"    
    And finally . . . "Mr. Irrelevant"    
    Building the "best" melee weapon... for you   And that's about all we can say about these melee weapons (at least in a vacuum). It's also a wrap on our series on campaign melee weapons (for now). For those of you who have made it all the way through, I hope it's been educational, informative, maybe a little bit enjoyable. I salute you.   And if you for some reason want more, you're in luck, because we have a few things in the hopper.    Until next time...             "So a Wookiee walked into a guardsroom with a pistol..." [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]     Inevitable post-posting edits:      
  3. Like
    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    The Galaxy's Fate in My Hand   Part the Seventeenth: "To Pierce or not to Pierce..." in which try to untangle the beauty from the seduction of the Tier III Ancient Lightsaber...   Well, we're here. Today we're considering the last of the itemized melee weapons: the Tier III Ancient Lightsaber. Like the Ryyk Blades, this weapon's attack pool depends on our hero's attribute (Insight), which makes it a niche weapon (although the niche of heroes who can wield this weapon with three dice is larger than the Ryyk Blade's niche).   It also boasts one surge ability that we love (+2D) and one that we'd like in a vacuum (1D and Pierce 3) if it didn't require that we spend 2 surges to trigger it. This makes it intriguing... and also poses no end of theoretical headaches for us as we try to math it out.   So buckle in... this last one's a whopper.     Okay. *deep breath* here we go...   To Pierce... or not to Pierce...   So let's get the obvious out of the way first. For most of this series, we've ended up gravitating towards weapons that tend towards being surge-independent. The Tier I Gaffi Stick + Tier III Vibrogenerator was the gold standard of Tier I. In Tier II, our Red-Green BD-1 Vibro-Ax got maximum damage with the Vibrogenerator and Tier III Shock Emitter (and that damage has been good enough for that weapon to still place in our top-15). And both the Tier III Electrostaff and Ryyk Blades achieved their maximum damage output with surge-independent mods (the Shock Emitter and Vibrogenerator, respectively).   Even before we look at dice, we get a sense that the Ancient Lightsaber is very definitely not a surge-independent weapon. It has two fantastic surge abilities that result in major damage swings (a 2-damage swing and up to a 4-damage swing). We always want at least one surge (for that +2D), we're very temped by two (especially against Black defense dice), and in an ideal world, we'd want three (or maybe even four if we're exceptionally greedy, for another +2D from the High-Impact Guard... that's five damage and Pierce 3--or an EIGHT DAMAGE swing--out of just 4 surges, people!).   On the flip-side, this weapon is clearly not a keyword weapon. It doesn't have any basic keyword abilities (no Cleave, no Bleed, no Weaken), and while we could add some with the Weighted Head (Cleave) or Shock Emitter (Stun), that means coming up with one (or more) more surge(s) to spend, which will be a tall order. Again, the key to unlocking this weapon's potential seems to be adding more surges, not less. In other words, this is the closest we've come so far to a surge-dependent weapon.   Now I could stand here and preach to you about how surge independence is better than surge dependence. And maybe it is (we'll see at the end, I guess, when we compare how the Ancient Lightsaber does toe-to-toe with the Electrostaff and Ryyk Blades). But since this is a lightsaber (and therefore powered in some mystical way by the Force), I feel like we can afford to take some more chances with this weapon than we could with, say, a glorified walking stick. Which means we'll spend an inordinate amount of time dissecting this weapon's surge chance (and just how high we can bump it up).   So let's start with our basic "rolled" stats. This time, we only have three total dice pools to simulate: Yellow-Green-Blue for the majority of our healthy heroes and Green-Green-Blue for Vinto, both of which revert to Red-Green-Blue when those heroes become wounded (assuming that Ko-Tun has the same wounded dice pool as other Yellow-Green-Blue heroes). This is great news for us, because all the other math is more complex for the Ancient Lightsaber than it was with the Ryyk Blades.  (hehehehehehehe... riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight...)   So here's what Yellow-Green-Blue, Green-Green-Blue, and Red-Green-Blue roll (natural damage, natural surges, no surge abilities factored in) against actual defense dice. And since this particular analysis is so surge-focused, we'll go ahead and break them out into "versus Black defense dice" and "versus White defense dice," just for kicks:     So first the surprising. Each of these weapons is actually surprisingly good, in its naked form, at getting at least 1 surge past defense dice. The worst pool is the RGB vs. 1 White, which is what we expected. And yet this pool still managed to roll at least 1 more surge that the defender rolled evades better than 50% of the time (55.79%). That's not exactly something we can count on, but if that's where things bottom out, we're in decent shape at getting that +2D. The Yellow-Green-Blue manages 1 or more surges 80% of the time against the White die, and almost 90% of the time against the Black, both of which are excellent odds. Ultimately, if we're content to trigger the +2D, and especially if we're content to attack figures who roll only Black dice, we're probably in good enough shape surge-wise with just our dice, and can look to fill our mod slot with an upgrade like the Extended Haft or Shock Emitter to boost our damage or attack range.   The trouble comes if we want to prioritize that +1D and Pierce 3 surge ability first, which requires 2 surges to proc. And it's quite a bit of trouble. Our odds at 2 or more surges top out at just under 60% (YGB vs. 1 Black), and our RGB pool has less than a 20% chance of performing the feat against a white die (18.82%).    Now obviously, we can problem-solve some solutions for this trouble given what we've learned from other weapons. We know we can boost our weapon's surge chance with a mod: either the Balanced Hilt (our strong preference) or if we're desperate and willing to settle for less, with the Energized Hilt (if we swap out one of our dice for a Yellow). We also know there are some limitations to both solutions. Swapping in a Yellow die generally does a number on our weapon damage, and both hilts are exhaust-to-use which means that if we perform 2 (or more) attacks per round, at least 1 of them will be using our base weapon stats.   Then there's the question of whether it's worth it to go for the Pierce 3 at all. Against a Black die, it's basically an insurance policy. No matter what the defender rolls, none of his blocks will matter (although that Black die only has a 1-in-6 chance of rolling those 3 blocks). And against elite defenders (multiple defense dice and/or "free" blocks or evades), that Pierce 3 might mean the difference between some damage or no damage. On the flip side, we know that if we Pierce 3 against a white die, we're wasting at least 2 blocks every single time we attack (since the White never rolls more than 1 block). Would we be fired up to spend 2 surges on +1D and Pierce 1? Eh...   To tackle these problems (and find the most efficient use for the Ancient Lightsaber), we'll test each three-dice pool for the following: First, we'll figure out just how much we can reasonably expect to boost its chance at pushing 2+ surges past defense dice, primarily looking at the Balanced Hilt mod. Ideally we're looking for odds in the 70-80% range. If we can't push the odds much beyond 50% even with a mod, that Pierce 3 just isn't going to be reliable. Then we'll look at our weapon damage when we prioritize the double-surge ability (followed by the surge for +2D and then any other surge abilities we gain from mods). How often does the Pierce 3 proc, what type of damage results are we getting when it does, and how variable are the results between Black and White defense dice? Finally, we'll look at how that damage compares to the damage we get when we prioritize the single surge +2D (and any other damage-dealing surge abilities we manage to add from other mods) over the +1D and Pierce 3, again looking at how often they proc, what damage we get, and whether the results vary depending on the defense die we're facing. Sound good? Let's get to it, then.
      The Force in Balance (YGB)   The most common three-dice combo for insight is the standard Yellow-Green-Blue. Six heroes currently have this pool, ranging from your typical force-fielders...           ... to some support / snipe characters:                     Loku is probably the strangest choice for the Lightsaber as he has multiple abilities that buff his accuracy. These, of course, would be rendered mostly moot if he wields a melee weapon (although my six-year-old decided to run him with the Lightsaber and was... surprisingly effective...). Gideon and Murne aren't usually characters associated with high-end weapons (the jury is out on Ko-Tun as of this writing), although Gideon has some interesting tools available to him if he goes that route (Called Shot [1xp], Hammer & Anvil [4xp])... if we can convince ourselves to abandon the very powerful Masterstroke (4xp) support build.   We also know this dice pool offers our best odds of rolling at least 1 surge past a black or white die (~89% and ~80%, respectively) and also our best chance at rolling 2 surges past defense dice, albeit at a far less predictable clip (~60% and ~45%, respectively). It's that second figure that we're most concerned about now, although if we could also improve our odds at 3+ surges (from ~23% and ~15%), that'd be awesome, too.  
    Phase 1: Surge Proc Rates So let's start by digging into how our surge results past defense dice are distributed. Since so much of this weapon's potential hinges on surge proc rates, I've increased the number of Monte Carlo simulations performed from one 2000 trial set to five 2000 trial sets for Black dice, and another five 2000 trial sets for White dice, and then aggregated the five trials together for a mega sample size of 10,000 trials for Black and another 20,000 for White. Here's how those distributions fell:
      Now this distribution chart may not look like much at first, but it's actually very good news for us if we're hoping that Pierce 3 is viable.   The leftmost column is our "worst" possible result ("-1 surge," meaning that the attack dice rolled no surges AND the defense die rolled 1 Evade). Fortunately, this scenario is extremely rare: just 98 of our 10,000 Black trials (or just a hair less than 1%) and a slightly higher 307 of our 10,000 White trials (although still a very small ~3%). There's a pretty sizeable minority in the second column, where surges rolled equaled Evades rolled, resulting in a net of "0 surges."   The two largest clusters are in the next two columns: 1 surge and 2 surges. For the White die, the total number of 1 surge results (3374) is slightly higher than the raw number of 2 surge results (3141), but the difference is only about 230 results--large enough to probably not be a result of margin for error (approximately +/-1% for 10,000 trials), but small enough to give us confidence that the 1 surge result is only slightly more likely than the 2 surge result. Things are less hot for our ideal dream of 3 surges, as that group is smaller than the group of 0 surge results. And 4 surges past a White die will be a rare feat--rarer even than us rolling no surges and the defender rolling an Evade.   The Black die also has its largest groupings in the 1 surge and 2 surge categories, but the probabilities are clearly reversed. There are nearly 3000 results for 1 surge (2947), which is very solid. And there are more than 700 more 2 surge results (3703). We also have a very healthy 1933 results of 3 surges, which outnumber our 0 surge results by nearly 1000 (968). In other words, our dice roll is about 2x as likely to score 3 surges as it is to score 0 surges, and more than half our results should net us either 1 or 2 surges.   Now let's see what happens when we add the Balanced Hilt to our Ancient Lightsaber. We're starting with the Hilt because we know it's always provided the greatest boost to our surge proc rate, and thus by looking at it first we can get a sense right off the bat on what our best case scenario is for proccing 2 (and even 3) surges. And as it turns out, those odds are...     ... not bad, right? Now of course, this is against a Black die, and we already have a pretty surge-friendly dice pool (YGB), so this is probably the best case scenario we're going to see. But it's a scenario we could live with. First off, our distribution chart has basically shifted one spot to the right (98 "-1 surges" for our naked lightsaber vs. 103 "0 surges" with the Hilt, 968 "0 surges" for the naked vs. 924 "1 surges" with the hilt, and so on). Second, the vast majority of our surge results fall into the +2 surges (2966), +3 surges (3725), and +4 surges (1932) categories, which is exceptional news. This means we had enough surges to reliably trigger the Pierce surge ability in close to 90% of our 10,000 trials, and had a third surge for triggering that extra +2D in about 60% of our 10,000 trials. It's not quite a 70% proc rate, but it's solidly in the more-likely-than-not category.   The results were a little less exciting against the White die...     ... but overall still pretty encouraging. There's once again a clear shift to the right in our distribution chart, and while we don't have quite the same number of results in the 4+ surges category, the clear majority of our trials fall into either the 2+ surges (3336) or 3+ surges (3215) categories, which again gives us a pretty good chance of triggering that Pierce ability (in better than 80% of our trials) and that +2D ability in around 4700 of our 10,000 trials (or just under 50%).   So to summarize, the majority of YGB rolls against a Black die will produce either 1+ surges or 2+ surges, slightly favoring the 2+ surges result. Adding the Balanced Hilt greatly reduces our chance of getting only 1 surge result, improves our chance of 2 surges (sufficient to trigger Pierce 3) to almost 90%, and gives us a better-than-not chance of getting a third surge result for another +2D. So the Pierce 3 surge ability is definitely feasible in that set-up. Against a White die dice pool the YGB will roll 2 surges less than half the time, but adding the Hilt can improve those odds to about 80%. The +2D is harder to trigger than it is gainst the Black die, but can be done (though probably not reliably).   Phase 2: Assessing the benefit of "Pierce" Damage   Now that we know the Pierce 3 is a viable option on the YGB Ancient Lightsaber, let's see if it's the superior damage option. Intuitively, we expect it to work very well against Black dice. After all, the Tier I Vibroknife scored very well in our early Tier I tests thanks to its ability to Pierce 2, which just gutted Black defense dice. And this time, we also get a nifty +1D when we Pierce. We also like Pierce against White dice (which essentially converts five of its sides to blanks against natural damage), but Pierce 3 seems like it might be overkill (since the white die has no more than a single block on any of its sides). that said, that extra +1D we get when we Pierce 3 will help us here, as well.   If we run the numbers using adjusted defense dice, we get the following results:     So some interesting things here. First, no weapon-mod variant scores less than 80% odds on 2D+, which is a promising start. Four of our variants then suffer a pretty dramatic drop-off once they hit 3D+. Two of them--the naked / Extended Haft and Weighted Head aren't actually buffing our damage, so they're not surprising. And we've learned better than to expect top-tier damage from a YYG-anything. The fourth is somewhat surprising, because the High-Impact Guard is supposed to be a high-damage mod (more on that in a minute). Two more weapons experience a gradual decline at 3D+ which then turns into a free-fall once we get past 4D+: the RYG Energized Hilt and the Vibrogenerator. The Shock Emitter stays pretty strong through 5D+, and the Balanced Hilt takes our top spot with a 50% chance at pushing 5D+ past defense dice. The Balanced Hilt (unsurprisingly) has the best odds at Pierce 3 (a surprisingly robust 85.1%) and at +2D (a hair over 50%). From there, most of the mods settle in the 50% range for Pierce 3 and about 20% for +2D, with the exception of the YYG Energized Hilt (70%, 35%), RYG Energized Hilt (44%, 12%), and of course the Vibrogenerator (3%, 0%). The Balanced Hilt also gives us a roughly 20% chance at Recover, while the High-Impact Guardhas about a 3% chance for either Recover or an extra +2D. Of course, these stats only give us a very general impression of how these combos function when we prioritize the Pierce 3. And we know that there are important differences between a Black die and a White die which are likely to impact (1) how often we get that Pierce 3, and (2) what it's doing when it triggers. So here's how the damage comes out if we fit our Ancient Lightsaber with our available melee mods and prioritize the double-surge ability for +1D and Pierce 3 , then our surge ability for +2D (and then surge for+2D or Recover, if we're lucky to have a fourth surge to play with):     A few brief notes on the chart before we proceed. First, remember that damage v. a Black die can top out at 100% (if our weapon has a damage floor of either 3D + Pierce 1 or 4D, since the Black die tops out at just 3 blocks), whereas damage v. a White die will top out at around 83% (the odds that the defender doesn't roll a Dodge to cancel all damage), so that's why the white die stats are lower across the board. Second, since we're looking only at damage, we aren't spending any surge abilities on excess keywords like Stun on the Shock Emitter variant (although it could spend its Recover surge on that keyword if it wanted). Third, because surge proc rate is such a big deal for this lightsaber, I've charted how often each of our preferred surge abilities procced. Our Pierce 3 proc is in yellow, our +2D proc (or procs, if we have the High-Impact Guard equipped) are in red, and our standard Recover proc is in blue. If our weapon manages to proc a keyword we'll continue to mark those in purple (as is our usual practice), unless it's a "free" or "exhaust-to-trigger" keyword, in which case we'll go with our standard orange. Sound good? :-) As far as surge mods go, notice how we actually get a slight (4-7%) bump against the Black die when we use the Energized Hilt to alter our dice pool from YGB to YYG. But the difference is smaller against the White die (2-5% points), and nothing we'd write home about. Once again, we'd actually be better off doing the counter-intuitive thing and going for a Red-Yellow-Green pool instead of a Yellow-Yellow-Green pool. Again, these aren't huge gains (at least not in the lower damage bands), but by the time we get to 5D+ and beyond, they're into double-digits (5D+ vs. Black improves from 24.2% to 37.6%, 6D+ from 9.4% to 19.7%; vs. the White, 5D+ nearly doubles from 14.3% to 28.1%, and 6D+ goes from 4.2% to 13.3%). Of course, all that pales in comparison with the gains we get from the Balanced Hilt. We already knew this drastically improved our odds of 3+ surges against the Black die and gave us a fighting chance of 3+ surges against the White die. When we translate those procs into actual damage-dealing abilities, it doubles and even triples the high-end damage odds that we'd get from the naked Lightsaber (vs. the Black die, 5D+ improves from 24.2% to 64.4% and 6D+ from 9.4% to 29.6%; vs. the White die, 4D+ improves from 35.1% to 61.4%, 5D+ from 14.3% to 39.3%, 6D+ from 4.2% to 18.5%). And given that we have an 80-90% proc rate for our Pierce 3 ability (potentially a 4-damage swing against Black dice) and a 45-60% proc rate for our +2D (potentially another 2 damage swing in our hero's favor), this should hardly be surprising. Interestingly enough, adding the High-Impact Guard does not really improve our damage (at least not until we get to the odds of dealing 7 or more damage, which frankly aren't that good even with the Guard equipped). In theory, it seems that it should (and it does improve our damage ceiling from 7D to 8D). But it turns out that YGB just can't roll 4+ surges consistently: just 4% of the time vs. the Black die, and less than 2% of the time against the White, which means that if we prioritize that Pierce 3 surge ability the Guard's extra surge for +2D will be wasted 96-98% of the time. That's why the Guard offers just a small uptick in high-end damage that's barely noticeable. Not exactly the most efficient use of 500 credits... The Shock Emitter actually offers damage that's almost on par with the Balanced Hilt through 2D+ against the Black die. Then it suddenly drops off quite a bit in the 3-5D+ bands (falling behind by nearly 20 percentage points in the 5D+ band). Then, almost as inexplicably, it suddenly narrows the gap at 6D+, and then jumps slightly ahead for 7D+ and 8D+. So what's happening here? Well, two things are at work. First, that Pierce 3 is really doing a number on that Black die throughout, but its impact shows up most clearly in that 3-5D range (our average expected damage in this set-up comes out to about 4-5D with Pierce 3, so when we roll 4D and that Pierce 3 neuters the Black die, we're transforming what would normally be 1D (vs. 3 blocks), 2D (vs. 2 blocks), and 3D (vs. 1 block) results into 3D, 4D, and 5D results). The Shock Emitter is helping to push up our damage as well, but since it only ever adds +1D it's keeping pace only with the times we're Piercing away only one block. Whenever we Pierce 2 or 3 blocks away, it's losing ground. That's why when we jump over to the Shock Emitter's damage against a White die it's much closer to how the Balanced Hilt performs (we're seeing 3-5% gaps, not 20% gaps). The Pierce 3 is just less effective there (as we expected it would be). Lastly, we have the good old Vibrogenerator (which is apparently still reeling from being put through the ringer so many times with our Ryyk Blades :-P). In one of the weirder results of the night, its damage against Black dice is actually worse than the damage we'd get out of the Yellow-Yellow-Green Ancient Lightsaber, which is... terrible. The reason, of course, is that in order to use our Pierce 3 surge ability, we now need to roll a whopping 4 surges just to get started. As you can imagine, this is really rare (4% of the time). And a Yellow-Green-Blue pool with no surge damage just isn't very high (even with a +2D boost). But hold onto your hats... because against White dice this same pathetic Vibrogenerator deals basically the same amount of damage as the Balanced Hilt does (right on its heels for top-damage against White dice), even with just a 2.4% chance of proccing a surge ability. So what does that tell us? Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. On the one hand, this probably shouldn't surprise us. The Vibrogenerator has always performed well against White dice because it doesn't care about surges (and thus doesn't care about the Evades that are all over the White die). Its static +2D will overwhelm every side of the White die except the Dodge, and of course adding three dice worth of damage on top of that will only increase the amount of damage we're pushing through. But this is by far the starkest difference between black vs. white dice that we've seen on this chart, so that has to mean something, right?   Why don't we shelve that thought for a bit and see what happens when we switch our surge priorities (favoring +2D over Pierce 3), and see if we learn anything else from that exercise? Which brings us to...     Phase 3: "Pierce" Damage vs. "+2D" Damage   Remember, the point is to test whether we're getting more damage through with the +1D and Pierce 3 triggering more often than the +2D, or if we get more damage the other way around. So here's what happens vs. adjusted defense dice when we do that:     So obvious things first: unsurprisingly, our +2D proc rate has jumped waaaaaaay up, while our Pierce 3 proc rate has fallen waaaaaay down. We're also proccing that first surge ability (+2D) way more often than we procced our first surge ability last time (1D + Pierce 3), largely because we only need a single surge to make it go (instead of rolling doubles).    If we "peek under the hood" so to speak, and break these results down vs. a Black or White defense die, we get some additional information:     Last time, we started with a proc rate of about 60%, but now it's jumped up to nearly 90% against the Black die, and 80% against the White. And we're still proccing the Pierce 3 about 20% of the time on the naked Ancient Lightsaber, which isn't terrible considering it's unmodded (although it probably would frustrate us if we had just trotted it out in a game without any idea of where to set our expectations).  For surge-mods, rolling Yellow-Yellow-Green comes close to doubling our Pierce 3 proc rate, but it still tops out at just under 40% against the Black and 30% against the White. Not exactly reliable stats, those. On the other hand, they're way better than the proc we get out of the Red-Yellow-Green, which plummets into single-digits against the White die. On the flip-side, the damage we're getting out of Red-Yellow-Green is quite a bit higher than what we get out of Yellow-Yellow-Green once we hit the 4D+ mark vs. the Black (and the 3D+ mark vs. the White), even though we're rolling fewer surges. Again, the Red die is unmatched when it comes to bumping up our damage potential. Once again, our best Pierce 3 proc rate comes from the Balanced Hilt, which basically triples our proc odds (21.3% to 58.8% vs. black, 15.9% to 45.7% vs. White), and results in much higher damage over the naked variant. That's good enough for top damage honors vs. Black defense dice in our 1-5D+ damage bands... although not our top damage odds vs. the White die or for high-end Black die damage. Those honors would belong to the Shock Emitter, even though its Pierce 3 proc rate is only what we'd expect from the naked Ancient Lighsaber, and the High-Impact Guard has a much higher chance at scoring +4D on two surges (about a 61% chance vs. Black, 48% vs. White). It turns out that, against the White die at least, an 80% chance of +2D and a 100% chance of +1D (Shock Emitter) results in more damage dealt than an 80% chance of +2D and a 48% chance of +1D and Pierce 3 (Balanced Hilt). Partly because most of that Pierce 3 is being wasted against a White die, and partly because that extra +1D (even with the Balanced Hilt) is as likely not to fire as to fire. The Pierce 3 is terrifying, to be sure, but not remarkably efficient (vs. the White). And apparently the same logic applies to the High-Impact Guard as well, regardless of Black or White defense die: an 80% chance of +2D and a 100% chance of +1D (Shock Emitter) results in more damage dealt than an 80% chance of +2D and a 48% chance of +2D (High-Impact Guard), even though the Guard technically has the higher damage ceiling (9D vs. 8D vs. the White die, although its odds of landing 9D past defense dice are only about one-tenth of one percent). The Vibrogenerator's damage against Black dice is once again terrible (this time, it's worse than the naked Ancient Lightsaber through 4D+), while its damage vs. the White die is... just about the middle of the pack. It's better than the naked and Yellow-Yellow-Green variants, is comparable to what the High-Impact Guard and Red-Yellow-Green variants produce, and falls a fair bit behind the Balanced Hilt (vs. Black) and Shock Emitter (vs. White). Its +2D proc rate tops out at under 25% (vs. the Black), and of course it can't trigger that Pierce ability (because it needs to roll at least 2 surges to overcome the Vibrogenerator's -2 surge penalty, then a third surge for +2D, and then a fourth and fifth surge to Pierce 3... and Yellow-Green-Blue produce only 4 surges max :-P). So where does this leave us on that Pierce 3?   Well, we have a couple of ways we can break down the data to compare our surge options. First, we could do a straight comparison between the two charts based on adjusted defense dice. Doing that gives us 2D+ odds on a naked Lightsaber of 81.75% (with Pierce 3) vs. 88.68% (with +2D), 4D+ odds of 42.5% vs. 58%, and 6D+ odds of 7% vs. 12%. And that remains consistent when we start adding mods. The High-Impact Guard deals 2D+ at an 83.7% clip with Pierce 3 first vs. 90.98% with the +2D, 4D+ at 43% vs. 72%, and 6D+ at 9.4% vs. 26.7%, and the Balanced Hilt deals 2D+ 91.08% (Pierce 3) vs. 91.33% (+2D), 4D+ at 75.1% vs. 80.88%, and 6D+ at 24.03% vs. 31.48%. That's enough consistency to infer that there's a power hierarchy, and that it favors +2D over Pierce 3.   Intuitively, of course, this makes sense. +1D and Pierce 3 is a larger damage swing in a vacuum, but in order for it to reach its full potential (or even to reach a higher damage potential than that ability for +2D), the target needs to have at least 2 blocks for us to pierce. If the target has only 1 block, it's a wash (we add +2 damage to our attack results either way) and if the target has no blocks the +2D actually contributes more damage than our Pierce ability. When you add the potential for sub-optimal returns with the opportunity cost of Pierce 3 (we have to roll 1 additional surge past defense dice), it's no wonder that +2D comes out ahead. It's the same amount of reliable damage most of the time, with a more reliable trigger.   There are, of course, limitations with this approach. For one, it's pretty primitive. We're basically comparing one box in one chart with another box in another chart, and comparing two numbers. It's also perhaps not as precise as we ought to be, because the numbers we're comparing are based on adjusted defense dice. And we know that whether our target rolls a Black or White die does affect our ability to Pierce. So while comparing both data sets gives us a fairly good general impression, if we want more precision we should probably try something else.   Second, we could lay our Piece 3 and +2D results out, side by side for each mod, and see (1) is there any change in damage when we switch from Pierce 3 to +2D, (2) which way the damage difference goes (does our damage go up or down when we make that switch), (3) what are the magnitude of those changes (are they significant or de minimis), and (4) is there any rhyme or reason to where we see the largest changes (does the switch help our ability to punch through 1-3D? Is it more impactful on high-end damage (5-8)? Both? Neither?).   So here's an attempt to chart that. Our Pierce 3 variant is on the left, our +2D variant is on the right, we have data callouts above the +2D results showing the difference between the two (a positive number in the box demonstrates an increase by that amount when we switch from Pierce 3 to +2D, a negative number would show a decrease from the switch), and closest towards us are their respective proc rates (Pierce 3, +2D, a second +2D if they have the Guard equipped, and then a surge for Recover if they had a third or fourth to spend):     So the big-picture finding is this: with the exception of three results in our 1D+ results (all three of which (1) involved White dice, which means they're keyed on how often we roll a Dodge, and (2) all fall within our +/- 3% margin of error), every damage result is either the same or higher when we make the switch from Pierce 3 to +2D. This certainly doesn't contradict our original inference that the +2D results were getting more damage overall than the Pierce 3 results.   The data also seems to confirm our hypothesis about why this might be so. We suggested the opportunity cost of Pierce 3 (spending 2 surges instead of one) would be more valuable if we could get a 3- or 4-damage swing out of the Pierce 3 ability, instead of just a 2-damage swing (or, God forbid, just a 1-damage swing). And we also suggested that the only way we're going to get that preferred 3-4 damage swing is against a Black die; against the White, we expect to waste a whole lot of Pierce value (if not all of it).   The data seems to confirm this. With the exception of our High-Impact Guard vs. Black results, the increases from Pierce 3 to +2D in our "vs. Black dice" data-sets are relatively modest: a maximum gain of +10.2% (4D+) for the naked/Extended Haft, +7.3% (4D+) for YYG Energized Hilt, +13.7% (4D+) for RYG Energized Hilt, +7.6% (3D+) for Vibrogenerator, +6.5% (6D+) for the Balanced Hilt, and +13.1% (5D+) for the Shock Emitter.    In contrast, our "vs. White" results generally see larger gains. Of the seven weapon-mod variants we tested for, three of them have at least two gains of 15 percentage points or more (naked/Extended Haft, RYG Energized Hilt, Shock Emitter), and a fourth has at least 3 gains of 20 percentage points or more (that High-Impact Guard again, which we'll return to in a moment). Our YYG Energized Hilt has only one +15% gain, although its damage potential is consistently...bad... so maybe we shouldn't be that surprised. The Vibrogenerator also sees very small bumps... although given that rolling 3 or more surges past a white die is extremely difficulty, the fact that our preferred choice of surge ability doesn't really impact our damage that much probably shouldn't surprise us either. The last is the Balanced Hilt, which definitely sees gains but they're more in line with what we saw vs. the Black die (mostly single-digit gains, a couple of double-digit gains in the low teens).   Digging a little deeper into the Balanced Hilt's surge proc rates may hold the answer. Against a White die, a naked Ancient LIghtsaber has about a 47% chance of proccing the Pierce 3 and about a 16% chance of tacking on the +2D. If it switches the order, the naked Ancient Lightsaber has an 81% chance of getting +2D, and the same 16% chance of getting a Pierce 3. So if we combine these three stats, we get the following (rough) probabilities for the naked Ancient Lightsaber: Just +2D: ~81% Just +1D and Pierce 3: ~47% +1D and Pierce 3 and +2D: ~16% Since both the +2D and the Pierce 3 options are only going to top out in a 2-damage swing anyway against a White die, improving our odds of that swing occurring from ~47% to ~81% is huge. Which is why we're seeing a much larger difference in our naked Ancient Lightsaber when we switch from Pierce 3 to +2D.   But when we add the Balanced Hilt, our odds improve across the board: instead of just a 47% proc chance for Pierce 3 against the White die, it jumps from about 47% to 81%, and our odds of also getting the +2D jump from about 16% to about 47%. If we go for +2D first, our odds of +2D rise from about 81% to just under 95%, and our odds of tacking on the Pierce 3 jump from about 16% to... you guessed it, about 47%. Which means with the Balanced Hilt equipped (and unexhausted, of course), our probabilities are: Just +2D: ~95% Just +1D and Pierce 3: ~81% +1D and Pierce 3 and +2D: ~47% Once again, either the +2D or the Pierce 3 is only going to top out in a 2-damage swing. And of course a jump from 81% to 95% is a definite improvement (agains a White die, a 95% chance roll at least 1 surge past the die is absolutely phenomenal... although, of course, the number of times we can actually trigger that +2D will go down by the number of times the defender rolls that pesky Dodge). But it's not as big of a leap as the leap from 47% (which is best-case-scenario "just as likely as not," and only if we're feeling especially generous) to 81% (a result we can "generally depend on"). Which is why the gains are far more moderate than the gains we saw on the naked Ancient Lightsaber.   This same phenomenon also accounts for the enormous differences we see in the High-Impact Guard variants. Against a White die, our Guard has approximately the following proc odds: Just +2D: ~80% +2D and +2D: ~47% Just +1D and Pierce 3: ~47% +1D and Pierce 3 and +2D: ~16% +1D and Pierce 3 and +2D and +2D: ~2% The most obvious takeaway is that if you're looking at the High-Impact Guard because you're envisioning that doomsday scenario where you roll +1D, Pierce 3, +2D, and +2D... enjoy it while it lasts, because it's not going to happen frequently (unless you have some other way to generate extra surges for your attacks, in which case go to town because that's awesome). The reason the Guard performs so much better when we prioritize the +2D is that we have basically the same damage odds of a 4-damage swing as we do of a 2-damage swing when we go with the Pierce 3: ~47%. And of course this makes sense: the double-+2Ds and the Pierce 3 both consume 2 surges... so if +1D and Pierce 3 is never more effective than adding +2D, and I can get two for the price of one...   The concept is exactly the same against the Black die, although the odds have changed. On the one hand, our +1D and Pierce 3 ability no longer tops out in a 2-damage swing. It can conceivably swing the damage by 4 points in our favor if the target rolls three blocks... although the odds of that happening are just 1-in-6 (against basic villains). By contrast, triggering a +2D surge ability two times also swings the damage by 4 points in our favor, but it does so regardless of how many blocks the target rolls (for the same cost of 2 surges). And, of course, our odds of triggering both +2D surge abilities are quite a bit higher than they were with the White die: Just +2D: ~90% +2D and +2D: ~62% Just +1D and Pierce 3: ~62% +1D and Pierce 3 and +2D: ~23% +1D and Pierce 3 and +2D: ~4% Once again, a jump from 62% to 90% is a huge one, which is why our choice to prioritize the +2D over the Pierce 3 results in such a large difference in damage. Again, these results seem to consistently favor the +2D over the Pierce 3... and in most cases, to majorly favor it.   A third way we could arrange our data is to take our Black vs. White results, compute which result in the highest damage odds total, and then arrange them in descending order (highest overall damage first, least overall damage on the end). The merit of laying the data out this way is that it not only gives us a pretty good sense of whether taking the +2D is always better than taking the Pierce 3, but also of whether Pierce 3 weapons ever outperform +2D weapons (and if so, which Pierce 3 weapon-mod combos are keepers, and which ones to stay away from). Something like this:     So here we have our various weapon-mod combos, split by how they perform against a Black or White defense die, and arranged in descending order of total damage dealt (highest overall damage odds on the far left, lowest overall damage odds on the far right). If a weapon's "[P3]" (Pierce 3) totals are to the left of their "[+2D]" totals, then the Pierce 3 variant deals higher damage (and vice versa if the ordering is reversed). And if a "[P3]" weapon is to the left of a [+2D] weapon, it means that that particular Pierce 3 weapon-mod variant has higher damage odds than that particular +2D weapon-mod variant. So if you go to the extreme-left of the chart, that Pierce 3 Ancient Lightsaber with the Balanced Hilt against a Black die does slightly less damage than the same weapon that favors the +2D, but slightly more damage than a Ancient Lightsaber with the Shock Emitter that favors the +2D. Is that convoluted enough? :-P   One word of caution about this chart before we proceed: because it's measuring total damage output by percentiles, it naturally favors results vs. Black dice because we can have a 100% chance of dealing damage against Blacks, whereas our odds top out at just 83% or so vs. the White. On the one hand, there's nothing wrong with ordering the data this way, as it's just harder to deal damage against a White-die target because they have that chance to Dodge no matter what weapon we choose, or how well we roll, or what mods we've added (for now, at least). But if it bothers us, we can temper this bias a bit by comparing when a given weapon hits "the cliff": that portion of its damage chart where its odds take a noticeable downturn. Every weapon has a cliff (for that Ancient Lightsaber + Balanced Hilt vs. Black die, it's between 4D (the damage is pretty flat from 1-4D) and 5D (where it drops very steeply from about 90% to about 68%). Our top-tier "vs. White" weapons hit the cliff in basically the same spot (between 4-5D for the Shock Emitter and Balanced Hilt weapons, regardless of whether we prioritize the Pierce 3 or +2D). Our +2D High-Impact Guard vs. Black, Pierce 3 Shock Emitter v. Black, and +2D RYG Energized Hilt vs. Black technically score higher than those "vs. White" weapons, but they hit the cliff sooner (between 3-4D), and the sooner a weapon hits the cliff is generally a good indicator of how soon a weapon's damage stats start to become unreliable.   The Force in Niche (GGB)   The only hero with an alternate healthy Insight pool is Vinto (Green-Green-Blue), from the Jabba's Realm expansion.   Now there are any number of reasons why you wouldn't want to build Vinto as a melee character. His obvious aesthetic is as a ranged rogue character. And he does have some specific class abilities that key off of ranged attacks, including his signature "Boltslinger" which keys off of attacks performed with a ranged weapon:     Having said that, if you wanted to run Vinto as a melee character with the Ancient Lightsaber (maybe you've always wanted to be a Rodian Jedi?), there actually aren't that many class abilities you give up to make it work. The only class-card that has no usefulness at all is the 1xp "Pinpoint Shot." There are also portions of "Sharpshooter" (2xp) [limited usefulness for +1 Accuracy, no extra space for "Boltslinger"], "Dead On" (3xp) [no exhaust for extra damage after "Boltslinger" or "Pinpoint Shot"], and "Rapid Fire" (4xp)  that you give up as well.                     But Vinto can still get quite a bit of utility out of most of his class cards. That "deal 1 damage to every hostile figure within 3 spaces and in line of sight"? Doesn't have a ranged damage trigger. That "exhaust for +1D" from "Dead On" or, better yet, that "exhaust for +3D" from "Merciless" (3xp)? Works on a sword. Bonus damage from "Shot on the Run" (1xp)? Ironically enough, you can shoot someone on the run without a gun. Exhaust to reroll a single attack die with "Battlefield Experience" (2xp)? Go ahead. And of course, if you wanted to have access to the full panoply of class cards there's nothing stopping Vinto from using the Ancient Lightsaber as his primary weapon and picking up a cheap Tier I ranged weapon along the way (or even his Off-Hand Blaster for 3xp if credits are tight, you can afford to give up the xp, and you want to trigger "Pinpoint Shot" or "Boltslinger" without spending an action). So again, if that's your fluff preference, no judgment here. :-D   Having said that, the theoretical idea of a "melee Vinto" would be a whole lot more palatable if his Green-Green-Blue Ancient Lightsaber was actually any good. Some (truncated) numbers please...     Phase 1: Surge Proc Rates   A new dice pool means we're back at square one, trying to figure out if Pierce 3 is a good idea. Of course, everything we've discovered so far suggests it's not (definitely not against a White die), and that was with better surge odds (YGB) than what Vinto has (GGB) so we probably don't expect that to change:     Not exactly a great start for us. First off, without the Balanced Hilt equipped, we only have a max of 3 surges to work with (good enough for Pierce 3 and +2D... but not even an outside chance at an extra +2D on top of that with the High-Impact Guard). Against a Black die, we have most of our results generating just 1 surge, and about an equal number of results generating 0 surges as 2 surges, which isn't great news for our Pierce 3 proc chances anyway. And of course against the White die, we have almost the same number of "0 surge" results as we do "1 surge" results... and a whole lot less "2 surge" results.   Adding the Balanced Hilt helps, of course...     ... but not having a Yellow die in our pool is still hurting us. At least against the Black die, we now have about the same number of "3 surge" results as "2 surge" results, so maybe that's enough to make the Pierce 3 viable (or at least semi-triggerable). But against the White die?     Actually, it's also not that bad. If we want Pierce 3, we'd better be prepared to settle for it, but we do have at least an outside chance of getting that +2D to fall (on top of the increase in natural damage we can expect to see from swapping out a Yellow die for a Green one). On that bright note...      Phase 2: Assessing the benefit of "Pierce" Damage   So nevermind. :-P Against adjusted defense dice, we're looking at a Pierce 3 proc rate of around 40% without the Balanced Hilt. That's down from about 60% compared to our Yellow-Green-Blue pool, and just isn't dependable.      The Balanced Hilt boosts those odds from about 40% to almost 80%, which unsurprisingly results in a major damage boost compared to the naked Ancient Lightsaber, and a good cut above even the Shock Emitter. Unsurprisingly, opting for the Pierce 3 doesn't do the Vibrogenerator any favors, since it needs to roll at least 4 surges to apply Pierce 3, and a Green-Green-Blue only rolls a maximum of 3. :-P   If you're curious about the difference between Black and White defense dice (since the chart above is adjusted), I won't bore you with another chart, but the Pierce 3 proc rate with no Balanced Hilt is only about 46% against the Black die and about 33% against the White, which aren't good. Adding the Balanced Hilt improves them quite a bit to about 83% against the Black and about 73% vs. the White, so if we want to Pierce 3, the Balanced Hilt is really the only mod that make sense for us.   Phase 3: "Pierce" Damage vs. "+2D" Damage   Given the difficulty GGB has in rolling 2 surges past defense dice, we have even more reason than we did with Yellow-Green-Blue to expect a bump in damage if we switch from Pierce 3 to +2D. As it turns out, our odds of proccing that +2D ability are actually pretty good, even without the Balanced Hilt:     We are, after all, rolling 3 dice, two of which are pretty surge-friendly Greens. As a result, our basic odds against adjusted defense dice are around 78%, and adding the Balanced Hilt boosts them to 97%. The Vibrogenerator even has an outside chance at adding +2D (around 9%).   Unsurprisingly, then, when we lay out our damage results from top to bottom, Vinto's Ancient Lightsaber does the best when we prioritize the +2D over the Pierce 3. The only Pierce 3 result that deals real high-end damage is when we add the Balanced Hilt against the Black die (it procs +1D and Pierce 3 and +2D about 47% of the time), and adding the Shock Emitter with Pierce 3 vs. a Black die (where Pierce + 1D plus 1 free damage ends up in a damage swing that's slightly more consistent than +2D). Other than that, it's a whole lot of "[+2D]" in the top-half, and a whole lot of "[P3]" in the bottom-half.     In sum, a healthy Vinto seems to like the Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter, and actually gets some pretty good damage out of the High-Impact Guard (if he goes for +2D and +2D) and to a lesser extent the Vibrogenerator. To fully evaluate the efficiency of this build option, though, we'd need some way to compare whether Vinto gets more out of this Lightsaber than he would out of a similarly-costed ranged weapon. And we don't have data for that... at least not yet.     The Walking Wounded (RGB)   Both a Yellow-Green-Blue insight pool and Green-Green-Blue insight pool revert to a Red-Green-Blue insight pool once our hero becomes wounded, so this data will apply to all seven of our insight heroes. This means good things for our damage, and bad things for our surge procs. And given that the Ancient Lightsaber is a surge-focused weapon...     Phase 1: Surge Proc Rates   If we were concerned about that Pierce 3 with GGB, we should be really concerned about it now...     We can probably kiss that dream scenario of Pierce 3 and +2D goodbye, even against a Black die. Against the White die, even the Pierce 3 may be an unreasonable expectation.      Adding the Balanced Hilt helps against the Black, and probably gives us an outside chance at getting the +2D to fire on top of Pierce 3 (or at least getting the +2D to fire). But things are pretty grim against the White die, even with the Hilt equipped:     Nevertheless, we'll follow our typical trajectory and see how this Lightsaber pool performs when we go all-in and shoot for that Pierce 3.     Phase 2: Assessing the benefit of "Pierce" Damage   And the result is...     ... well, if we took the Ancient Lightsaber expecting to get that Pierce 3 all the time... probably weeping and gnashing of teeth. :-P There's just a 23-25% proc rate against adjusted defense dice, and just a 3% proc rate for that +2D on top of it. We're never proccing that extra +2D from the High-Impact Guard (so that's a wasted mod if we go for Pierce 3). And the Balanced Hilt definitely helps, but only to the order of increasing our terribly unpredictable 23% proc rate to a definitely-less-but-still-unpredictable 63% proc rate. Not exactly the stuff of legends here...   And if we thought that our ~23% proc rate would improve significantly if we just focus on targets with Black dice...     ... it's not exactly a huge difference. We improve from about 23% to about 28%, which is still waaaaay more unlikely than unlikely. Against the White die, there's about a 1-in-6 chance we get that Pierce 3 to fire. Although given what we learned so far, that's probably not a bad thing...     Phase 3: "Pierce" Damage vs. "+2D" Damage   Needless to say, anything we can do to get damage with a proc rate of higher than 23% is going to be a huge boon to this weapon. And while our +2D proc rates aren't superb, compared to 23% they look like downright locks:     Unsurprisingly, the Pierce 3 results just don't stack up against the +2D results with these dice. The only result that's competitive is the Pierce 3 with the Balanced Hilt. After that, the next highest Pierce 3 result is the Vibrogenerator's result... which is not exactly a ringing endorsement since a RGB Vibrogenerator can't trigger Pierce 3 to begin with...       Concluding observations   When it comes to the Ancient Lightsaber, we seem to have a clear winner (at least for our current insight pools). As flashy as the ability to double-surge for +1D and Pierce 3 looks on the surface, it's almost never the most efficient first choice for our precious surges. If we manage to roll 3 surges past defense dice, and don't have other surge abilities we want to trigger, it's a perfectly good (though not exactly surge-efficient) choice against a White die, can become very powerful against a Black die, and of course it has unmeasured potential against combo-defenders who pair a defense die with either "free" blocks or another defense dice. It's entirely possible that the Pierce 3 would redeem itself against more resilient targets. But against our rank-and-file imperial foes, it's never giving us as much damage as we'd get if we went for the +2D first. Even with a Yellow die (or two). Even with the Balanced Hilt equipped.   So where exactly does our Ancient Lightsaber end up on the melee weapon damage curve? We'll tackle that question (like our Ryyk Blades, it's kinda nuanced...), and also identify some "keepers" when we wrap up our itemized melee weapons next time.   Inevitable post-posting edits:            
  4. Like
    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    So at some point (probably after the next FAQ drops), I'll attempt that major re-write of the Ryyk Blades section that I mentioned last time. For now, though, I'd like to move on to the Ancient Lighsaber.  But before I do, I wanted to thank all those who chimed in on the discussion, shared links, e-mails, thoughts, reservations, computations, etc. 
    If you're not burned out by the topic already and are curious about how the whole Ryyk Blades + Vibrogenerator shakes out, here's how the different Ryyk Blade variants do in terms of raw damage output depending on the synergy you choose  
    The black-outlined synergy on the left is your basic Ryyk + VibroG if you (for some reason) decide not to "convert" your third rolled surge into damage before the defender applies an Evade. That'd be weird and inefficient, but remember, one of the cardinal rules of this thread is that we never knock each other for doing something fluff related, so...  The Yellow-outlined synergy in the middle is what happens if you Ryyk + VibroG and you follow the unofficial e-mail guidance from FFG shared by @rowdyoctopus here (we lose the first two surges we roll before we can convert them). The indications are that this reading will probably make its way into the next FAQ, so I fully expect this will be where we'll end up. As @Stompburger and I originally surmised, these are pretty modest gains for most pools--and mostly concentrated in our higher-damage bands, although the RGB, GBB, and RBB pools all end up with a gain or two of greater than four percentage points (which in some cases comes closed to doubling their probabilities, which seems significant). The purple-outlined synergy on the right is what happens if you can convert all your surges before you apply the Vibrogenerator's -2 surge modifier. Again, I don't expect this to continue... but for the moment it hasn't been officially overruled (so if your IP is curb-stomping you, trot it out now before you lose your chance!  )
    Alright, that's the last I'm going to say on the Ryyk Blades (for a bit anyway   ). We're actually on to the Ancient Lightsaber next (hopefully later this week *fingers crossed*).
    In the meantime, here's a taste of what's to come...

  5. Like
    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    Well, if it's going in the next FAQ update, we have our answer  Thanks for posting.
    Now if I could just figure out how to adjust my simulator to parse that out...  
  6. Like
    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    The Galaxy's Fate in my Hands   Part the Sixteenth(B): "So Convert is actually a thing...," or why it's dangerous to upset a Wookiee period, whether or not he's already wounded.     So I need to start this one off with a couple of mea culpas.   First, if you came here hoping to see some stats on our final tiered melee weapon (the Tier III Ancient Lightsaber), that's unfortunately going to have to wait until next time (for reasons I'll explain in a moment). Sorry about that.   Here's its picture if that makes you feel any better... It's coming, I promise... [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   The reason goes back to what turned out to be a pretty serious oversight of my part. Shortly after I posted the original write-up on the Tier III Ryyk Blades, Stompburger pointed out that the special "Convert" rule on the  Ryyk Blades had the potential to be far more powerful than I'd originally suspected. Here's a refresher in case you--like me--have never paid much attention to this weapon:   [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   In our own campaign play, my group had assumed that the "Convert" rule allowed the wielder to spend any number of surges for +1D results. And in most cases, this is in fact how the Ryyk Blades function (particularly if we're using the Ryyk Blades to proc Cleave 2 or to trigger a surge ability like Recover).   But not always. And as it turns out, that "not always" can have a tremendous impact on the damage of our Ryyk Blade.   So after re-running all of our Ryyk Blade damage numbers again this week, I figured I'd spent waaaaaaay too much time (more on that in a moment) and discovered things waaaaaaay too interesting to just throw them out there in an "update" post. So here's a second attempt at correctly analyzing the damage output of the Ryyk Blades.   (And again, if you're disappointed about the Ancient Lightsaber... mea culpa )     Another RRG deep dive   So if you've been following this thread and have already read this post, most of this will be review. But for those of you that haven't (and since I have to write it anyway for the extensive edit of the original Part 16 that's coming), here's why this oversight impacts our damage (in some cases drastically).   In order to properly understand how "convert" works, we need to dust off our faithful RRG. The rule is found on p. 9: This rule nuances how the Ryyk Blades work. Technically we still turn surges into +1D, but we're not actually "spending" any surges. Instead, we're "converting" any number of surges, forcing them to undergo a sort of metaphysical transformation where their very essence is changed from that of a surge to that of a natural damage.
    Now wait a minute... 
    We discussed the difference between natural damage and surge damage way back in this series, when we were trying to improve the dependability of our starter melee weapons (boy, that was a while ago). The basic gist is that if we have a choice between a 1-for-1 trade between natural damage and surge damage, we should take the natural damage every time because it's harder for defense dice to deal with. Each defense die has a limited number of blocks on it, and Evades are useless against natural damage. So the more of our total damage we deal as natural damage, the more likely we are to push that damage through (especially against a White die). This is part of what makes the Vibrogenerator so powerful as a single-mod (coupled with ignoring the whole odds-of-proccing a surge thing). The Ryyk Blades allow us to do this by literally "converting" surge results into damage results, in a 1-to-1 ratio. This on its own is huge.
    The other major factor is the timing. "Convert" abilities are resolved during Attack Step 4, Apply Modifiers (again, RRG p. 9). And as it turns out, this is the same Attack step when Evades are spent to remove surges:
    Since both the Ryyk Blade's "convert" and the defense die's Evade are resolved during the same attack step, we need to figure out if there's a defined order in which they trigger. If we can trigger the "convert" first, we can change any surges we rolled into damage before an Evade is spent. If we do, the Evade can then be spent, but there won't be any surge results to remove (since "convert" means that the original result is considered to not exist anymore). And fortunately for us, the timing for attacks in both campaign and skirmish favors the Attacker's results:
    Thus, in the majority of circumstances, our hero will be able to convert any number of surges rolled by the Ryyk Blade into damage, and should (in theory at least) never lose any damage as a result of the target rolling an Evade. This should also apply to any other surges added by the attacker (from something like the Balanced Hilt or being Hidden), as well. The exception would be if a "mission rule" removes a surge from the attacker... but when and how that happens is its own kettle of fish, so ask your IP (or A1bert) if you want to explore that. ;-)
    Once I had my head around the correct Convert rule, it became evident quickly that most (if not all) of the damage stats in our original write-up on the Ryyk Blades were incorrect (meaning they were on the low side). My initial thought was that Convert should result in a slight damage bump across the board (a smaller one against Black defense dice, and a more sizable one against White dice). I didn't anticipate that it would result in a damage swing of more than +1D in any given trial, given that we were only testing against a single defense die (no Black-Blacks) and no single defense die has more than one Evade on it.   I also hypothesized that the High-Impact Guard stats were probably correct, too, given that its effect only triggers if there is at least 1 surge rolled past a defense die. That meant reevaluating four basic weapon-mod combos (Balanced Hilt, Shock Emitter, Vibrogenerator, and Weighted Head / Extended Haft / Naked), and since those weapons didn't have any surge abilities for more than +2D, my guess was that for each of these, its highest damage output would probably be achieved by always converting all surges to damage so that no damage was ever peeled off by an Evade. As it turns out, the math suggests that not all of these conclusions were incorrect.  
    Speaking of which...
    The Modest: Ryyk Blades + Non-Damage mods        +          /      [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   Let's start with the naked Ryyk Blades, Extended Haft, and Weighted Head variants, which I've categorized collectively as "non-damage mods." Not because they don't deal damage (they're actually quite dangerous), but because the mods themselves don't directly impact our damage dealt to our primary target (though they do other important things, like expanding our threat range with Reach or giving us some Cleave options if we're attacking a low-health target). As a result, their expected "at least damage" is basically whatever they roll, since we aren't adding any Pierce, damage, or surge abilities to further modify those rolls.   The calculation for these mods was relatively straight-forward. Since they have no surge abilities for more than +1D, the efficient play is to always convert any surge results into damage results (so that no surges are "lost" to Evades). So for purposes of their simulation, I took our simulator, removed any surge results that appear on our dice faces, and replaced those surge results with damage results. Simple enough, right?   As a brief aside, the blanket decision to always convert does some interesting things to our attack dice: Red: our surges are reduced by 1, and our damage increases by 1 (from 13 to 14) Green: our surges are reduced by 3, and our damage increases by 3 (from 8 to 11) Blue: our surges are reduced by 2, and our damage increases by 2 (from 7 to 9) Yellow: our surges are reduced by 5, and our damage increases by 5 (from 5 to 10) In other words, the Red dice remains tops in damage by a fairly wide margin (3 damage faces), and now has a 3-in-6 chance of dealing a whopping 3 damage. This is fantastic. On the other end of the spectrum, the gap between Green, Yellow, and Blue dice has closed quite a bit. The Yellow actually deals pretty good damage (although both the Yellow and Blue have a 3-in-6 chance of only contributing +1D, versus 1-in-6 for both the Red and Green). The Green now has a 5-in-6 chance of dealing 2 damage, which is a very nice level of predictability. And the Yellow die has a 1-in-6 chance of contributing 3 damage, making it the ultimate risk-reward play.   Here's how that change impacts our Ryyk blade damage, starting with our YGB and RGB variants:     The gains are pretty minimal at 1-2D+ across the board. This isn't that surprising, given that the Ryyk Blades were pretty much at the damage cap anyway (just shy of 100% against black dice, and 83% or thereabouts against the White, with an ~17% chance that the defender rolls a Dodge). The YGB variants really start to pick up speed in the 3-5D+ bands, culminating in a roughly 13 percentage point gain at 4D+. For the RGB, the biggest bump is in also in the 3-5D+ range, though the gains are more modest (capping out at around 8 percentage points in the 4D+ band). And while the percentile gains aren't as large in raw figures for high-end damage, "Convert" nearly doubles the YGB's probability of dealing 6D+ and triples the chance that it will deal 7D+. The RGB gains are again more modest, but still improves the chance of 6D+ by about 50%, and doubles our chance of dealing 7D+. And the Weighted Head variants have excellent chances of getting that Cleave 1 off, too (better than 90%).   If we dig a little deeper into the impact on a Black vs. a White die, we get more of a sense for why this is so. "Convert" has an impact on damage vs. a Black die, but not until we get into the 4D+ bands. Prior to that, the impact is negative by a fraction of 1% (which probably means the dice in our 2000 trials rolled just a hair cooler in our "Convert" pool as compared to the "Standard" pool). The impact is greatest in our 4-5D+ bands, but tops out at under 6%. Against the White dice, however, "Convert" picks up healthy gains in the 3-6D+ bands, including three double-digit gains in 3D+, 4D+, and 5D+, topping out at over 20% in the 4D+ band.     The RGB pool follows a similar pattern (though not to the same extreme). vs. the Black, we actually start seeing some gains across the 3-7D+ range, all somewhere between 2% and 7% (topping out at 6.35% in the 4D+ band). Versus the White, we see gains in the same categories that are larger than those vs. the Black, although not as high (only one double-digit gain, though curiously it's in the 5D+ band (+12.35%).     For what it's worth, that +12% gain is the difference between a 1-in-3 chance of dealing 5D+ past defense dice and a 1-in-2 chance in dealing that same damage. Not too shabby, right?   We see a similar pattern in the gains from "Convert" in Onar's Ryyk Blade dice:     The bumps in the 1-2D+ bands are again fairly small (much smaller for RYB than YYB), and the bulk of the change happens in our 3-5D+ range. We don't have any gains of 13 percentage points, though--we cap out at almost 10 for YYB in the 4D+ band. It's worth noting that our YYB, which really should be abominable, has basically a 70% chance of dealing 3D+ past defense dice with no help from mods, which seems very high to me. Cleave 1 is again not a problem for the Weighted Head variants.   One interesting wrinkle is that our YYB and RYB variants actually have an outside chance (very outside chance, as it turns out) of dealing 8D+ past defense dice, which is one higher than what their YGB and RGB counterparts could do. The reason is that those Yellow dice now have a 1-in-6 chance of dealing 3D (that single-damage/double-surge face). Combined with a Red die (which now has a 3-in-6 chance of dealing 3D) and a Blue die (a 3-in-6 chance of dealing 2D), we can now cap out at 8D total (if the Black rolls an Evade or the White rolls an Evade or a Blank). Not great odds that this will happen, but if your Onar ever happens to roll 8D past defense dice on a Yellow-Yellow-Blue, please take a picture of your IP's face and post it in the comments.     Lastly we'll look at Shyla's GBB and RBB Ryyk Blades.       In general, the same trend continues: 1-2D+ have a relatively small bump, and the meat takes place in 3-5D+. This time, however, the single-largest bump in both bands is in the 5D+ range (about 9 percentile points for both the GBB and RBB variants). Our top-end damage odds are also slightly lower than what we saw for Gaarkhan, Biv, and Onar's Ryyk Blades.   In sum, applying "Convert" automatically to turn every surge we roll into a damage result has resulted in a small-to-moderate gain across the board, for all six Ryyk Blade dice pools. So far, so good.     The Equivocal: Ryyk Blades + Balanced Hilt or Shock Emitter   Similar to our basic (non-damage) mods, the damage calculations for both the Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter were relatively straightforward as well. I left the dice with all surge results converted to damage results, and then instead of adding a surge result for the Balanced Hilt or a damage result for the Shock Emitter, I simply added 1 damage result for both. The result is identical damage for both the Balanced Hilt and the Shock Emitter (which makes sense: same roll probabilities + same combat additive = same probability change).        +          /      [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   Starting again with our YGB and RGB damage, we once again see an uptick in damage dealt when we apply "convert" uniformly across the board:     The most obvious change from our "non-damage mods" is that we can now push up to 8D past defense dice (capping out at about 4% if we have the Balanced Hilt or Shock Emitter on a RGB Ryyk Blade). This time, damage bands 1-3D+ remain largely unaffected, and the majority of the gains are picked up in the 4-6D+ range for the YGB variant (capping out with an 11 percentile point increase in our 5D+ band). For the RGB, "convert" has very little impact on our 4D+ band, and relatively minimal gains in the 5-7D+ range (capping out in a 7 percentile point increase in the 6D+ range). Of course, both the RGB Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter were top-15 weapons before we started factoring in "Convert," so it's not unexpected to find that "Convert" suffers some diminishing returns on that weapon.   The returns are more pronounced on Onar's Ryyk Blade:     Here we have decent returns on the YYB in the 4-6D+ range (capping out at about 7 percentile points in the 5D+ band), but larger ones in RYB. WE pick up 8 percentile points in the 5D+ range, a whopping 10 (almost) in 6D+, and nearly another 7 in 7D+. And our max damage total is now up to 9D (though again, the odds aren't great).   That leaves Shyla's GBB and RBB. These picked up some pretty nice gains as well:     GGB manages to pick up 11 percentile points in 5D+, and almost another 10 in 6D+. RBB's gains were far more modest in comparison, and more in line with what Gaarkhan or Biv's RGB variant picked up (with a max gain of about 7 percentile points, though it's all the way up in the 6D+ band).   In sum, we've once again seen an uptick in damage dealt, just as we predicted we would. It's not earth-shattering, but it's consistent. And speaking of consistency, with the exception of the YYB variant, all of these Ryyk Blades dealt 5 or more damage past defense dice in at least a 50% of our trials (YYB reached the mark in 45% of our trials), so this is pretty good damage output.   With those encouraging discoveries out of the way, time to test our hypotheses on something more... challenging...     The Headache: Ryyk Blades + High-Impact Guard   In our last campaign, my brother (who was running Gaarkhan) was seriously considering the Ryyk Blades, and he and I ended up in a very... spirited... discussion about the best way to upgrade them. He was all for the Weighted Head (for reasons I still don't completely understand... I think it has something to do with flexibility), I was all-in on the High-Impact Guard. Not because I generally like the Guard (the math suggests it's not the most efficient choice for most weapons), but because in a world where the Ryyk Blades gave us infinite access to +1D surge abilities, I felt the Guard made them more surge-efficient. If I could get +3D out of 2 surges instead of just +2D, why not?        +      [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   So it was not without some cosmic irony that this ended up being the hardest simulation to perform. By far.  For all the others, it was a simple fix: the most efficient choice was always to convert all surge results into damage results, so a simple swap of dice faces was sufficient. But here, the most efficient choice is to keep the surge results as surge results (if we have more than 1) and get the extra +2D out of them... I think.   Tackling this challenge meant really breaking down exactly what "Convert" nets us and what it helps us avoid. We like +1D, but not as much as +2D, so if we have a chance to add +2D instead of +1D, we should jump at it. But we like +1D better than +0D, so if we can't trigger that +2D surge ability we might as well cut our losses. In other words, most of the time we want these Ryyk Blades to function exactly how other weapons normally function when they roll surges. If it rolled no surges and the defender rolled no Evades or 1 Evade, the math is exactly the same (we get whatever damage we rolled, minus whatever blocks the target rolled). Based on what we know about dice attributes, we'd expect this to be common for high-damage/low-surge dice (RBB in particular, and to a lesser extent RGB and perhaps GGB), especially against a Black die which has just a 1-in-6 chance of rolling an Evade. vs. Black (2/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [1 Block] = [damage - 1] vs. Black (2/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [2 Blocks] = [damage - 2] vs. Black (1/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [3 Blocks] = [damage - 3] vs. Black (1/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [Evade] = [damage] vs. White (1/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [Blank] = [damage] vs. White (1/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [Evade] = [damage] vs. White (1/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [Block] = [damage -1] vs. White (2/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [1 Block + Evade] = [damage - 1] vs. White (1/6): [all damage, no surge] vs. [Dodge] = [no damage] At the other end of the spectrum, there are times when we will roll one or more surges, but we manage to roll more surges than the defender rolls Evades (1 surge if the defender rolls no Evades, or 2+ surges if the defender rolls 1 Evade). When this happens, we again want the Ryyk Blade to perform exactly the same way as they did in our original tests, spending the first surge on +2D and then any subsequent surges for +1D (effectively the same thing impact numerically as converting those surges). Intuitively, we'd expect this to be the largest category for dice pools with Yellow-dice, especially YYB and YGB, probably GGB, and maybe even RYB, and again we'll probably be victimizing the Black die and its low Evade total. vs. Black (2/6): [damage + X surge] vs. [1 Block] = [damage + X surge damage - 1] vs. Black (2/6): [damage + X surge] vs. [2 Blocks] = [damage + X surge damage - 2] vs. Black (1/6): [damage + X surge] vs. [3 Blocks] = [damage + X surge damage - 3] vs. Black (1/6): [damage + 2+ surge] vs. [Evade] = [damage + 1+ surge damage] vs. White (1/6): [damage + 2+ surge] vs. [Blank] = [damage + 2+ surge damage] vs. White (1/6): [damage + 2+ surge] vs. [Evade] = [damage + 1+ surge damage] vs. White (1/6): [damage + 2+ surge] vs. [block] = [damage + 2+ surge damage - 1] vs. White (2/6): [damage + 2+ surge] vs. [Block + Evade] = [damage + 1+ surge damage - 1] vs. White (1/6): [damage + X surge] vs. [Dodge] = [no damage] The only exception would be if our attack dice rolled exactly one surge (no more, no less) and the defense die rolled exactly one Evade (no more, no less, and no dodge either). In that single case, the most efficient play would be to convert the surge into a damage result (since we can't resolve the +2D ability on the High-Impact Guard anyway) and milk 1 extra damage out of the whole process. And as it turns out, this is an extremely rare outcome (although it seems like it would be slightly more probable if we take a low-surge dice pool like GGB or RGB against a White die). vs. Black (1/6): [damage + 1 surge] vs. [Evade] = {convert 1 surge to 1 damage} = [damage + 1 damage] vs. White (1/6): [damage + 1 surge] vs. [Evade] = {convert 1 surge to 1 damage} = [damage + 1 damage] vs. White (2/6): [damage + 1 surge] vs. [Block + Evade] = {convert 1 surge to 1 damage} = [damage + 1 damage - 1] Ultimately, our goal is that whenever one of these precise circumstances occurs, we convert that single surge that we're about to lose into a single damage result (as we would if we were confronted with that roll scenario), but we want to do this while leaving every other circumstance exactly the same.    My first task was to figure out exactly how many times this precise roll occurred in our 2000 trials. To accomplish this, I told the simulator to flag any of our 2000 simulations where we either rolled exactly 1 surge on three dice or the defender rolled exactly 1 evade. I then had the simulator cross reference this data and compute how many times both conditions occurred in the same trial. And as you might expect, it turns out there's actually a fair bit of variance as to how often this occurs (or doesn't), ranging from about 3% of the time up to almost 25%:     As we expected, the number of trials where we have to "settle" for conversion instead of that +2D surge ability is much greater against a White die than against a Black die, and especially when a red die is involved. Conversion against a Black die topped out at no more than 9% (8.95% of our 2000 trials for both RGB and RYB), and bottomed out at no less than 13% against the White die (again for our YGB and YYB pools). Here are them all sorted again, this time by ascending conversion proc rate:     Once we've identified these results, we need to bump their total damage up by +1D. So I told the simulator to run through those cross-references again, and if both conditions occurred simultaneously it was to bump up the total damage scored in only those simulations by +1D. This ought to account for that painful decision where we almost land that +2D from the High-Impact Guard, but the defender rolls an Evade and we decide to cut our losses by cashing in that surge we're about to lose for +1D instead.   Here's what I discovered, starting with the YGB and RGB pools, broken up by defense die type (Black vs. White):     Once again, the theme appears to be "modest gains." Taking the "convert" damage instead of just losing the surge to an Evade does result in a small damage bump, but usually in the order of just 1-3 percentage points (if that). The YGB pool sees gains in the 3-6 percentage points against the White die, which is definitely larger but still not earth-shattering. The largest gains are for the RGB against the White die, with most in the 3-9 percentage point range. Again, intuitively, this makes some degree of sense: the RGB is not likely to roll more than 2 surges, but does have a pretty good chance at rolling 1 surge. So it makes sense that this attack pool would lose a larger number of surges to Evades against a White die, and thus benefit more than any other set from the ability to convert that surge into damage before it is lost.   Onar's dice follow essentially the same pattern. There's once again a minimal impact on the Black dice rolls, and a slightly higher impact on White dice rolls, with the largest gains made by the least-surge-friendly of the pools (RYB):     The biggest impact was on Shyla's dice:     The Black dice trials are again hardly affected, but against the White dice the GBB pool picked up some decent gains in the 4-6D+ bands, and the RBB pool made some pretty large gains from 3D+ through 6D+.The RBB is the least surge-friendly of our six Ryyk Blade pools, so again this makes sense conceptually.   When we combine all this data, we once again see that when we adjust for defense dice our High-Impact Guard variants all pick up some extra damage when they resolve the "Convert" ability instead forking over a surge to an Evade.     What's far less certain is my original hypothesis that the High-Impact Guard is the best upgrade for the Ryyk Blades because it makes them more "surge-efficient." In fact, the High-Impact Guard seems to be the only situation where the Ryyk Blades don't function as a totally surge-independent weapon. And given their damage output (which is better than a naked Ryyk Blade, but not as good as the damage when the Balanced Hilt or Shock Emitter are equipped), I'm not sure the Ryyk Blades function at their best unless they're functioning in a way that's surge-independent.   Speaking of which...     The Cheater: Ryyk Blades + Vibrogenerator   So the most annoying thing about missing the significance of "Convert" is that it deprived me of yet another opportunity to riff on my favorite melee mod: the Vibrogenerator!        +      [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   (Nah, just kidding. If you missed the original riff, you can find it here, and it's probably best to let it breathe instead of smothering it.)   The basic gist is this: a Vibrogenerator is basically a guaranteed +2D to our attack roll, no matter what else we roll, so long as we pay the "opportunity cost" of potentially resolving up to 2 surges. What makes it work is that for the majority of melee weapons (which don't have a surge ability for more than +1D), we get more damage out of the Vibrogenerator than we'd get from resolving surge abilities anyway, and the Vibrogenerator saves us the trouble of actually rolling surges past defense dice (which can be troublesome for lots of dice pools, especially 2-dice pools with a Red).   This "free" damage in exchange for an opportunity cost (that we usually don't pay, at least in full) made the Vibrogenerator the king of Tier I and II damage mods, but it's tapered off a bit in Tier III as we've added a third die to our pool. This has upped our odds of rolling 2+ surges, and thus increased the opportunity cost of triggering the Vibrogenerator. It also doesn't help that our other Tier III melee weapons actually can add 2 damage through surge abilities (the Force Pike requires 2 surges to do it unless it has the High-Impact Guard attached, and the Electrostaff has a surge ability for +2D). The Vibrogenerator still performs well with certain dice pools (after all, our RGB Ryyk Blades + Vibrogenerator placed second in total damage in our original Ryyk Blades discussion, though it did trail the Electrostaff + Shock Emitter by a decent margin), but it's become much more situational as we've begun losing more surges to it.   But what if we could declare at the start of an Attack that we're using the Vibrogenerator, and then after rolling our dice we could magically "convert" any surge results that we rolled on any of our dice into damage results instead? Wouldn't that mean that we never have to pay the Vibrogenerator's opportunity cost? That the Vibrogenerator no longer has an opportunity cost?   Why yes, I believe it does.   Which makes the Vibrogenerator a complete beast on the Ryyk Blades:     For the most part, "Convert" has resulted in what I'd originally predicted: a damage bump, but a slight one. But that's decidedly not the case here.   For the YGB pool, the difference is observable almost from the outset. We have a bump over 90% in the 2D+ band, and see major increases in every band after that (78% to 90%, 60% to 87%, 35% to 75%, 15% to 50%, 3% to 25%, less than 1% to 9%). The gains are slightly smaller overall in the RGB pool, but still impressive. A 19% chance to deal 7D+ jumps all the way to 43%??? Where do I sign!?!?!   As we dig down into the different defense dice, we might expect (as we've seen before) that most of this gain is attributable to the White die, but that the gains against a Black die are relatively minor. But again, that's not the case here:     Convert still does a number on a White die (actually, it basically guts them--like having a free "Pierce 1" that applies to Surges instead of Blocks), but it does a major number on a Black die, too. That +22% gain in the 3D+ band? That's huge. A +17% gain in the 7D+ band? Wowsers. And just so we're clear, this is comparing one YGB Ryyk Blade with the Vibrogenerator against another YGB Ryyk Blade with the Vibrogenerator. The only thing we've changed is we've factored in the impact of "Convert." And that "Convert" is potentially saving us three damage: 1 if we roll 1 surge {which we'd otherwise lose to the Vibrogenerator}, roll 2 surges {ditto}, or roll 2 surges and the defender rolls an Evade. That's an enormous damage swing in its own right, and when you consider we're also adding +2D (literally, now, for free) to our attack roll on top of that, it's easy to see why things escalate so quickly.   And while the returns are predictably somewhat less with the RGB pool (which hardly ever rolls 3 surges, let alone pushes all three past a White die), convert still results in a dramatic increase in our Ryyk Blade damage, regardless of what the defender is rolling.     The trend holds up for Onar and Shyla's Ryyk Blades where we once again have huge gains throughout when we pair "Convert" with our Vibrogenerator.       The great irony is that a Yellow-Yellow-Blue weapon with the Vibrogenerator equipped actually becomes our first weapon with a (very, very, veeeery) outside chance at dealing 10D+ past defense dice. Just think abut that for a moment. Let it sink in. Marinate. Stew. Whatever.     Correcting our Top 15   Unsurprisingly, these corrected stats result in a pretty major shakeup in our top-15 "damage" rankings, which were previously dominated by the Electrostaff. Will that continue to be the case? Well...   For reasons that I'll explain in a moment, we're actually starting at the top of our chart (real suspense killer, I know). Although in light of what we've just finished talking about, should there really be any suspense?     So the first thing we should note is that if we treated each Ryyk Blade dice variant as its own separate weapon, all six Vibrogenerator variants--and yes, that includes that Yellow-Yellow-Blue variant which I would have never thought in a million years would have been good--instantly become our top 6 damage dealers. Gaarkhan and Biv get the best overall variant (#1 when RGB, #4 when YGB), Onar gets the most variant... variant... (#2 RYB, #6 YYB), and Shyla has the variant with the least upside but excellent dependability (there's basically no drop-off between the #3 RBB and the #5 GBB until we start dealing 6 or more damage past defense dice, while the others start getting swingy in the 5D+ range).   Our previous number one, the Electrostaff with the Shock Emitter, now comes in as the fourth best weapon (though it offers the seventh best damage if we separate the different Ryyk Blade variants. It's competitive with the worst of these (the YYB variant), but it's quite a bit behind the GBB from 3D+ through 6D+ before it starts closing the gap. And it's way behind any of the Red Ryyk Blade variants. It still has some nice things going for it (that "free" Cleave 2 that procs at an absurd 90% clip every time we attack still looks awfully good), but it's no longer the king of damage.   In fifth is our RGB Ryyk Blades with either the Balanced Hilt or the Shock Emitter, though it's worth noting that its damage in this layout only becomes top-tier once Gaarkhan or Biv becomes wounded. When our hero is healthy, it's still giving us top-25 damage (24th best weapon), but not top-5. Onar's RYB take on the same weapon comes in at 6th, although once again its damage is considerably weaker if Onar is healthy (32d highest damage with YYB):     Our BD-1 with the Vibrogenerator and Shock Emitter drops from a remarkable third to a still-very-good-but-more-realistic 7th highest weapon (12th highest damage overall), but given that our current champion deals 6 or more damage past defense dice 67% of the time, there's no doubt that the BD-1 (and its 36% 6D+ clip) is a bit out of its league. The Electrostaff + Vibrogenerator comes in at #9, and Shyla's RBB Ryyk Blades with the Balanced Hilt or Shock Emitter rounds out our top 10.   Our top 15 is then rounded out by three more Electrostaff variants (the Balanced Hilt, RRB Energized Hilt, and High-Impact Guard), another BD-1 with +2D, Pierce 1, and Reach, and... surprise surprise, the RGB Ryyk Blades with the High-Impact Guard.     Oh, the irony.   So there we go. One RRG-deep dive, simulator-rejiggering, and extensive mea culpa later, I think we're finally at the place where we actually understand the real impact of the Ryyk Blades. And I'll be honest... I'm not sure any of our remaining melee weapons have the juice needed to get past this monster when it's firing on all its surge-independent cylinders.   Maybe next time we'll actually find out.     We'll see if Ol' Ben has anything to say about them Wookiee Weapons... [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]     Inevitable post-posting edits:     
  7. Like
    Jedi Sidious got a reaction from Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    Hello All,
    here are some spreadsheets I made a while back.  I was looking at ranged weapons, trying to find out which ones did the most damage and what were the best attachments for each weapon, followed by a simple cost analysis.  I was also going to tackle melee weapons, but then a friend showed me Rythbryt's AMAZING analysis already underway, so I didn't bother.    (his work is clearly FAR superior) 
    A few notes on the spreadsheets:
    The first looks at weapons without mods, showing their damage against defense die, while the second ranks those unmodified weapons by cost as well.
    The third looks at weapons with mods, listing which ones are the best for each weapon, while the fourth spreadsheet ranks them by cost as well.
    A few notes on my process:  (this should read 'Disclaimers')
    1.  I came up with the damage percentages using the http://mattyellen.github.io/imperial-assault-calculator/
    2.  I did not factor in any keyword information.  This is strictly an analysis of damage done to a single unit. 
    3.  For the Modified Energy Cannon, I assumed the hero had a GBY attack pool.  So either Mak, Jyn, Saska, or MHD-19.  (who I like to call MVP-19!)
    4.  The cost analyses are flawed.  I used the least expensive attachments to determine the cost.  There should be a range there to include the cost of the most expensive mod combinations as well.  The high end of those ranges may throw off the ranking and summaries.
    5.  Some of the weapons have several attachments listed.  Sometimes there is a mod listed followed by an 'AND'.  In those cases, the first attachment listed is a must have to maximize damage output.  Sometimes there is an 'OR' between the mods.  I consider these to be interchangeable because the damage output between them is negligable.  However, I used the mod with the best stats when determining the percentages for damage output. 
    6.  I did not consider any of the special actions found on some weapons.  i.e.  The DLT-19 or the Valken-38 focusing ability, or the DDC Defender using 3 attacks. 
    7.  I did not factor in range.
    8.  I did not factor in the special conditions required to use an attachment.  i.e. The Spread Barrel requiring a max. range of 3. 
    9.  I was only looking at max. damage, so mods like the Marksman Barrel were not considered.  (too bad, because I recently built Jyn with a Deathhammer and Marksman Barrel, to allow for a minimum range of 4 while using Quick Draw)
    10.  I did not cover starting weapons, which means I can't guarantee the bottom of the charts are even an improvement.
    11.  There are no fancy 3D bar graphs, videos, or witty and humourous commentary between graphs to make this statistical read pure joy.   
    As a side note, you can not legally combine the Plasma Cell and Bolt Upgrade.  This was never one of my suggested combinations for top damage output, but it's worth keeping in mind on 2 mod slot weapons. 
    Hopefully this will tide you over until Rythbryt has the time to cover the topic in far superior detail, without all the flaws and missing information.   
    Imperial Assault Ranged Weapon Ranking.xls
    I.A. ranged weapons cost ranking analysis.xlsx
    I.A. ranged weapons with mods ranking.xls
    I.A. ranged weapons with mods cost ranking analysis.xlsx
  8. Like
    Jedi Sidious got a reaction from Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    Another excellent and informative post!  I was dismissive of the Ryyk Blades, so this was an eye opener.  As for the videos in the previous post, they were well selected and hilarious.    Although, I'm fine without them too.  As the creator of the posts, I figure whatever floats your boat is the way to go.  I'll be reading your analyses either way. 
     
  9. Like
    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    The Galaxy's Fate in my Hands   Part the Sixteenth: "Ryyk Blades, Blyyk Rades...," or why it's dangerous to upset a wookie... if he's already wounded.   This week, we'll tackle the Tier III Ryyk Blades (Jabba's Realm, 950 Credits). This weapon is one of two (melee) weapons with a variable dice pool. It consists of up to 3 attack dice, and the values of those dice are set by our hero's current might/strength pool. It sports 1 mod slot (good), a surge ability for Cleave 2, and a special ability that allows it to convert any number of surge results into single-damage results.   [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   Boy, do we have a lot to talk about. But first, preliminaries! Three dice are (still) better than two Reds are still the best, but Yellows and Blues are surprisingly... okay... Onar's starting weapon is... capped... Watch out for Wookies... or anything bearing their image...   Getting our (basic) bearings   So usually we'd lead off with some basic preliminary thoughts about this weapon: things we like, things we're skeptical of, and major question marks (probably sprinkled with some preliminary educated guesses). And there are some of those we could venture here: Right of the bat, we have a mod slot. This is a great thing. The buy-in cost of the Ryyk Blades is also relatively low. Compared to the Force Pike (1100 credits) and the Electrostaff (1250 credits), a cool 950 credits (equal to the BD-1 + Balanced Hilt or Extended Haft) looks like a pretty good value. A fully-loaded weapon for around 1300 credits is probably in play if we want it. We generally like the Cleave 2, though we'd like it better with Reach (although we could get Reach on this thing for a relatively reasonable 1250 credits). The no-cap trade-surges-for-damage is intriguing. It's not a modicum of surge-efficiency (we're trading a single-surge for a single-damage, after all), but unlike the Electrostaff, we're also never going to be in danger of "wasting" surges with the Ryyk Blades. Even in the highly-unlikely event that we roll a whopping 7 surges on three Yellows and a Green Focus die (which is, as it happens, theoretically possible), we can still spend 1 surge on Cleave 2, 1 surge on Recover, and then 5 more surges for a total of +5D. Not shabby. Not likely, but not shabby at all. But the elephant in the room is that attack pool: how many dice (and, of slightly less importance, what color are they)? We've seen throughout our series that while we might be able to get 1 die's worth of damage out of two mod slots, a single-mod two-dice weapon just can't keep pace with even naked 3-dice weapons. Spending 950 credits on a two-dice weapon (let alone a one die weapon) is an absurd overpay. And the fewer dice we roll, the fewer surges we have to trigger Cleave or extra damage (plus the odds of rolling more than 1 surge, even on a Yellow-Yellow dice pool, are under 50%).   This means that if our hero is thinking about taking the Ryyk Blades for anything other than "fluff" purposes ("I LOOOOOOOOOVE ME SOME RYYK BLADES, EFFICIENCY BE &%*#*@^?{--&!!!!!"), it becomes an incredibly niche weapon:     Even if the Ryyk Blades were free, the one-die pools are probably out (single-Red, -Green, and -Blue pools are all incapable of rolling 2 or more surges, even without defense dice, so the Cleave 2 and non-capped damage surge abilities are basically wasted), and while a Red-Blue or Green-Blue attack pool might excite us if we had two mod slots (see Sword, Vibro), there's no way a one-mod Red-Blue Ryyk Blade is overtaking a two-mod Red-Green BD-1 (which probably costs the same when all is said and done).    All that to say, if you want to run sims of the damage potential of the Ryyk Blades with a one- or two-dice attack pool, feel free to knock yourself out on one of this series' recommended IA combat simulators (and post what you find if you find anything interesting!). For the rest of this article, we'll focus just on our six fully-spoiled three-dice variants (we'll circle back around to Drokkatta when he/she? is fully spoiled, although my educated guess is that he'd/she'd end up with a Red-Green-Blue while wounded, which we'll turn to in a minute).   Before we dive into the specific pools, here's some basic stats on what they roll past adjusted defense dice (we're not converting any surges at this point):     So the first thing to note is that these dice pools behave largely as we expect them to. The Yellow pools without Reds are on the low-end of damage and the high-end of surge, the Red pools without Yellows are on the high-end of damage and the low-end of surges, and the Red-Yellow pool (RYB) is better at damage and surges than the non-Yellow pool that doesn't have a Red (GBB). The damage on the red pools is quite good (better than 75% odds at dealing 2D+, and nearly 50% odds or better at rolling at least 1 surge past defense dice), and the Yellow pools have at least a 30% chance of rolling 2 surges past defense dice (and as high as 56% on the Yellow-Yellow pool).   The other thing we'll need to train ourselves to remember is that these aren't independent pools. The Yellow-Green-Blue and Red-Green-Blue are, in some metaphysical way, the same pool, just in two different game states (healthy hero vs. wounded hero). So we need to understand that if we like the Ryyk Blades for Onar because we like how they perform with their Red-Yellow-Blue attack pool, we're also taking the Yellow-Yellow-Blue pool (and, in fact, we may play with that Yellow-Yellow-Blue pool for the majority of the time in our campaign). To aid us in remembering this, we'll look at both pools together, and whenever possible attempt to overlay them side-by-side so we can keep the full-picture of how this weapon is performing in the forefront of our minds.   Alright, enough stalling. Release the (fully spoiled) Wookie!!!   (And Biv.)     The Forebears: Gaarkhan & Biv (Healthy-YGB, Wounded-RGB)   We'll start with our "traditional" top-tier Might attribute: Gaarkhan (Core set) and Biv (Twin Shadows), who roll a healthy Yellow-Green-Blue and wounded Red-Green-Blue. Here's their cards in case you haven't trotted them out for a spin in a while:               [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   It's worth noting on the outset that while a Melee weapon is a no-brainer for Gaarkhan (CHARGE!!!), there are any number of reasons you might not want to take a melee weapon on Biv. The problem with Biv (apart from his high-strain cost special action which is almost always overkill, his low endurance and speed when wounded, and his lack of top-tier xp cards--although most of these problems can be mitigated if not corrected through proper gear choices) is that four of his eight xp cards either buff or trigger "Close and Personal," which requires that Biv have a ranged weapon equipped for maximum mileage (spending 2 strain for a two-dice melee attack, no matter how buffed, isn't the most efficient play). It's certainly possible Biv could have both a melee weapon and a ranged weapon equipped, but probably not if the melee weapon costs northwards of 1000 credits (especially since the melee component of "Close and Personal" has its own specified dice pool instead of keying off of an equipped melee weapon), unless Biv keeps his starting weapon, loads it up with the 3xp Vibrobayonet, and triggers "Close and Personal" sparingly... which has now intrigued me. But more on that later. Maybe.    For now, we'll just suspend our disbelief and note that Biv could take the Ryyk Blades if he wanted, and that if he did so, he could attain the following combat results.          [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   The first thing to confirm is that adding the Ryyk Blades to Gaarkhan or Biv would be an improvement over their starting weapons. If it's not, then why bother, right? Here's how those two weapons perform in combat if we prioritize damage-dealing surges:     As it turns out, there's no contest. Both YGB and RGB substantially outperform these starting weapons, both in terms of raw damage and surges rolled past defense dice:     So far so good.    The next step is to see how the Ryyk Blades perform with an attached mod. Since we're already dealing with varying dice colors, I've left off the Tier II Energized Hilt (again, feel free to use those calculators if you want to look at something specific). Here's how the YGB Ryyk Blades fare with our seven basic melee mods equipped, compared to the two starting weapons:     Once again, there's no comparison between what the starting weapons and Ryyk Blades are giving us, which is a good sign. Beyond that: First, note that due to the Ryyk Blade's no-surge cap on spending surges for damage, in a full damage surge hierarchy we never trigger Cleave 2 or surge for Recover or another surge ability. Everything we roll is going straight to damage. As a result, we get some pretty good damage out of a dice pool that features a Yellow and no Red. Three variants (+ B. Hilt, + Shock E., and + HighG) all have better than 80% odds at dealing 3D+ past defense dice, 65-70%-ish odds at dealing 4D+, and roughly 40% odds at dealing 5D+, which is quite good. The Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter get there by adding a "free" damage (either actual damage or a surge-for-a-damage) to our maximum roll, and the High-Impact Guard gets there by making one of our surges hit twice as hard (worth +2D instead of just +1D). Adding the surge or damage ends up being slightly better (although with the exception of the 4D+ band, it's all within our ~3% margin of error), but both are only once-per-round effects (due to exhaust penalties) while the static bonus from the High-Impact Guard is persistent. In fourth is the Vibrogenerator. It's quite a bit ahead of the Weighted Head and Extended Haft, neither of which contributes to the naked Ryyk Blade's damage output. But given that the naked Ryyk Blade rolls 2+ surges almost 50% of the time (43.5%), the Vibrogenerator is cutting even (2 surges for +2D) at a much higher clip than it does for other weapons that don't feature Yellow dice. Speaking of which, let's see what happens when Gaarkhan or Biv loses that Yellow die and replaces it with a Red while wounded...     So just a note on layout first. These are the same Ryyk Blade mods, presented in the same order (highest-to-lowest damage output in a damage hierarchy), with their Red-Green-Blue results slotted directly to their right. If we were ordering all twelve results independently from high-damage to low-damage, the ordering would be quite different (as it happens, the Red-Green-Blue Vibrogenerator variant jumps all the way to the front, while its Yellow-Green-Blue variant would stand pat in 8th). But since we're buying both the Yellow-Green-Blue and the Red-Green-Blue when we purchase the Ryyk Blades, we're keeping them grouped together here. Every variant receives an appreciable spike in damage when we swap that Yellow die for a Red. In some cases, it's extreme (more on that in a moment). This isn't exactly an earth-shattering discovery, but it's worth noting that it holds true even on a hyper-surge weapon (or at least on a hyper-surge weapon that isn't surge-efficient). The Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter remain excellent options in their Red-Green-Blue form, eclipsing the 80% mark for 4D+ and the 60% mark for 5D+ (although in both cases, just barely).  The High-Impact Guard falls behind them (and the Vibrogenerator), but that's to be expected. The Guard only benefits us if we manage to roll at least 1 surge past defense dice, and when we swap a Yellow for a Red in this pool, our odds of rolling at least 1 surge falls from a pretty-reliable 76.6% to a barely-more-likely-than-not 56.4%. We still get the Guard to trigger more often than not (hence the higher damage output for the Guard over the Weighted Head, Extended Haft, or naked variants), but it's definitely triggering less than the Vibrogenerator is removing 2 full surges. And speaking of those non-damage-additive variants, they still manage to hit the 80% mark on 3D+ and the 60% mark on 4D+, which isn't shabby. Lastly, because these two pools are part-and-parcel, let's add some data callouts to the chart we just looked at to give us an idea of just how much the shift from "healthy" to "wounded" impacts our damage:     Not surprisingly, the Vibrogenerator variant gets the biggest overall boost (not surprising if its Red-Green-Blue ends up in 1st while our Yellow-Green-Blue variant gets lodged back in 8th), including two huge +25 percentile point jumps in the 5D+ and 6D+ damage bands. The High-Impact Guard's gains are the most moderate (just one double-digit bump, a +12.9% in the 5D+ band), suggesting that its results are probably the most predictable (if not the most splashy). Most of the variants get their big boost in 4D+, 5D+, and 6D+ (although the boost for the Weighted Head, Extended Haft, and naked variants moves up one band, to the 3D+, 4D+, and 5D+ range).   We see a similar phenomenon when we switch our focus from damage to Keyword procs. Because we have four more full dice variants to cover, we're going to streamline this analysis somewhat. After going through all (but one) tiered melee weapons, we have a pretty good sense of what mods help improve our keyword proc rate: the Balanced Hilt (for the extra surge), Shock Emitter (for a free +1D to make it easier to land a keyword), and the Weighted Head (for tons more keyword procs than any normal weapon can offer). So comparing those three mods with our basic YGB and RGB pools should give us a pretty good sense of our Ryyk Blade's upper-tier keyword performance:     So when it comes to damage + Cleave 2 proc, the Balanced Hilt variant is the clear winner: 80% odds at 2D+ and 90% odds of Cleave 2 in YGB, and in RGB 80% odds of 3D+ with ~85% Cleave 2 proc rate. It's once per activation, but such is life. The Shock Emitter gets us roughly the same damage output, but lower Cleave proc rates (72% in YGB, 57% in RGB), and again, it's once per activation. The Weighted Head has very poor damage in YGB (~74% at 1D+ with just a 59% chance at Cleave 2 (and a 74% chance at that exhaust-to-trigger Cleave 1). With the Red die, the Weighted Head's damage is greatly improved (77% chance at 2D+), while suffering just a minor loss in Cleave 2 proc rate (51.7% instead of 58.7%). That second Cleave 1 from the Weighted Head is an outside chance (32.4% in YGB, 16.7% in RGB) and the third Cleave 1 is extremely unlikely (10% YGB, 2% RGB), so if we're taking the Weighted Head with dreams of grandeur, we're probably setting ourselves up for failure.   Lastly, surge proc rate. There's really only one mod that matters--the Balanced Hilt--so that's what we'll look at:     So surprise surprise, the Yellow-Green-Blue Ryyk Blade actually has a pretty good chance at getting that surge ability to fire (77.8%). And so does the RGB, given that it doesn't have any Yellow dice (the fact that there's three dice, and therefore three independent chances to roll a surge, definitely helps). But equipping the Balanced Hilt is about as close as we can get to a sure thing (in our 2000 black dice tests, the YGB + Balanced Hilt variant forced at least 1 surge past defense dice a whopping 99.1% of the time). Plus, given our Ryyk Blade's uncapped ability to surge for damage, we know that triggering the Hilt will never be a "waste" (unless, of course, we consider overkilling some poor imperial sap a "waste"... which I'm pretty sure Gaarkan and Biv would never do  ).   Our (Unlikely) Surge Specialist: Onar (Healthy-YYB, Wounded-RYB)   Next is Onar (Jabba's Realm), who sports an unorthodox Yellow-Yellow-Blue when healthy and a Red-Yellow-Blue when wounded. Here are his cards:         [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   Unlike Gaarkhan and Biv, Onar doesn't have a preferred weapon type (although he starts with a ranged weapon). Also unlike Gaarkhan and Biv, Onar actually has several ways to control how much damage he takes (if by "how much damage he takes" we mean "a way to self-inflict damage to make himself wounded"). In fact, getting maximum use out of his class deck virtually requires us to self-inflict damage. So getting a Red die out of "wounded" may end up playing to his strengths... ironically enough.   His starting weapon is... uh...   [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   So there's nothing bad about what we have: Red-Green is a pretty strong pool (though for a ranged weapon, it does pose some accuracy problems). The bad is what's missing: no surge abilities (not even for +accuracy) and no mod slot. So even knowing virtually nothing about ranged weapons, we have an intuitive sense that this weapon's ceiling is going to be majorly capped (damage floor of 1D (Red-1D, Green-1S), damage ceiling of 5D (Red-3D, Green-2D), assuming sufficient accuracy).   Unsurprisingly, the Ryyk Blades are a major improvement over the Bodyguard Rifle when it comes to damage, even in its Yellow-Yellow-Blue variant. And the Red-Yellow-Blue is incredibly strong, especially when modded:     That's the Bodyguard Rifle waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over there, on the right. Which is fine as far as starter weapons go, but not exactly something to clasp to the death. Some other thoughts: As with the YGB/RGB variants, we aren't wasting any surges on anything other than pure damage. The Yellow-Yellow-Blue variant, without a damage enhancing mod, actually does some decent damage (80% or better at dealing 2D+, and an outside chance at 6-8D). Adding the Red helps quite a bit in the 4-6D+ bands especially, though it actually doesn't increase our damage ceiling (because we have an outside chance at that Yellow die being worth 3D if we roll the damage-double-surge face). The High-Impact Guard, Vibrogenerator (RYB variant only), Balanced Hilt, and Shock Emitter do improve our damage ceiling (adding an extra damage or surge, or getting 2D out of a single surge--or 2D out of no surges in the Vibrogenerator's case). The High-Impact Guard and Vibrogenerator again lag just a little behind the Hilt and Emitter in YYB, and the High-Impact Guard lags just a bit behind the other three when we switch to RYB. There's clear separation between those four and the rest of the pack. Looking at the variance between the "healthy" and "wounded" variants, the damage-mods pick up the majority of their gain in the 3-5D+ bands, and the non-damage mods in the 2-4D+ bands. The Vibrogenerator's gains are much more modest this time (there is still a Yellow involved after all, even when wounded), and the High-Impact Guard again proves the least affected. If we adjust the entire chart to reflect total damage dealt (regardless of pairing), the Shock Emitter and Balanced Hilts narrowly edge out the Vibrogenerator this time. Again, a Yellow is involved, so that's probably undermining the "value added" of the Vibrogenerator.  Turning to keywords, we have several impressive candidates:      The Balanced Hilt again leads the pack (topping out at 89.9% adjusted proc rate for Cleave 2 if we use YYB + Balanced Hilt, combined with an 82.9% chance of 2D+). Interestingly, damage with the Shock Emitter is actually lower than damage with the Balanced Hilt, especially when comparing the YYB pools. It's damage is still better than YYB damage without the Shock Emitter, but this is one of the rare cases when the Balanced Hilt is better than the Shock Emitter in both damage dealt and keywords procced. And our Weighted Head variants do quite well here. In YYB, our damage is still dangerously low (68.2% odds at 1D+), but if we can get that 1D+ to land, we have a nearly 40% chance of Cleave 2 + Cleave 1 + Cleave 1 (38.8%), and a nearly 1-in-5 chance at another Cleave 1 (18.7%), just for spite. In Red-Yellow-Blue, our odds fall somewhat (28.5% odds of Cleave 2 + Cleave 1 + Cleave 1, just a 7.7% odds of that third Cleave 1), but a much higher chance of dealing the damage we need to Cleave in the first place (84.1% for 1D+).   Finally, surges. Unsurprisingly, YYB + Balanced Hilt gets us a surge virtually whenever we need/want it:     That Yellow-Yellow-Blue Balanced Hilt variant laded 1+ surges in 99.7% of our 2000 tests conducted against black defense dice (1994 of 2000 tests). And that Red-Yellow-Blue variant? 98%. Not bad, right?   One last word on Onar. It's worth noting that the stats above are the floor of what Onar can do with these weapon/mod combos--at least as far as damage goes. The damage ceiling can top out much higher, thanks to class cards like "Mutual Destruction" (2xp), "Hold Still" (3xp), and "Don't Make Me Hurt You" (4xp).  You can salivate on that if you wish...      Never Underestimate the Mandalorian: Shyla (Healthy-GBB, Wounded-RBB)   Last we have Shyla (Jabba's Realm). Like Gaarkhan, she's clearly intended to be a melee character (at least if we want to take full advantage of "Mandalorian Whip"... which we do, as often as possible). And like Onar, she has a "unique" might pool: Might is clearly supposed to be her best attribute, but she doesn't have any Yellow dice in her might pool:         [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   On the one hand, we like this. Yellows are notorious for skimping damage, after all. But on a weapon like the Ryyk Blades where surges (literally) equal 1D, we might have concerns about a dice pool where surges will be relatively rare (especially when wounded).   Shyla's also unique in that she has one of the more interesting starting weapons in the game.    [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   In its base form, it's terrible: a Yellow-Green with +1D and Pierce 1 is better than it could be, but only because the two surge abilities aren't total stinkers. In its special Red-Green form, it's actually a top-tier Starter weapon (and as good as most Tier I modded weapons, too). Swapping a Red-Green for a Green-Blue-Blue (even though it's three dice) doesn't exactly inspire excitement, right?   Well...     So once again, we may have underestimated the power-creep between two-dice and three-dice weapons. The GBB Ryyk Blade is significantly better than even the Red-Green Duelist's Blade. And, in a rare feat, every RBB and GBB variant nets at least 87% odds at dealing 2D+, and better than 70% odds at dealing 3D+. In the GBB layout, the Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter lead the pack yet again, with roughly 70% odds at dealing 4D+ and roughly 40% odds at dealing 5D+. Switching the Green for the Red bumps those odds to ~75% for 4D+ and 50-55% for 5D+, with the Shock Emitter pulling ahead of the Balanced Hilt at 5D+. The GBB High-Impact Guard is actually slightly better than the GBB Vibrogenerator in early damage (2-3D+) before the Vibrogenerator pulls ahead late. The RBB High-Impact Guard actually results in a slight decrease in early damage (1-3D+) compared to its GBB counterpart, though its odds at high-end damage increase quite a bit (up to +10 percentage points in the 6D+ band, from 9.4% to 19.6%). And the Red-Blue-Blue Vibrogenerator is tops among all mods for total damage, with better than 75% odds at 4D+, nearly 60% odds of 5D+, and nearly 40% odds of 6D+. The Weighted Head mod, even in this set-up, has an incredibly good chance at dealing an exhaust-to-use Cleave 1 (thanks to its 91.6% odds of dealing 1D+ past defense dice). Paired with Shyla's class ability for Cleave 3, this could be quite a bit of Cleave damage coming out of a surge hierarchy that's solely focused on damage. Speaking of Cleave, it turns out this weapon actually isn't all that bad at triggering Cleave when we want to, either:     The key stat here, I think, is that the base Ryyk Blade, with just the Extended Haft on it (for Reach) triggers Cleave 2 almost 60% of the time (59.9%) with absolutely no help (to go with 86.8% odds of 1D+). And while getting wounded drops us down below 50%, the 48.9% mark is still really strong considering we're rolling two Blues and a Red. Taking the Balanced Hilt can push our Cleave 2 proc rate comfortably into the 80s, even with that Red-Blue-Blue, and also improves our damage (better than 50% odds of 4D+ in the RBB set-up). And the Weighted Head variant gives our GBB variant a nearly 20% chance of Cleave 2 + Cleave 1 + Cleave 1 (18.5%), which would be a nasty combo with Shyla's Cleave 3 class card.   And, in a pinch, the Balanced Hilt variant still nets us pretty good surge proc rates even with these non-surge friendly dice pools...     ... all while maintaining very good damage results (minimum odds of 87% on 1D+, 73% on 2D+). Surging isn't this weapon's strong-suit, but in Shyla's hands it's flexible enough to perform that role if we need it to.     Our (Penultimate) Top-Melee Weapon Ranks   If we slot our Ryyk Blades into our previous lists of top melee weapons, they actually perform quite well (or at least some of them do). Starting with surge proc rate, we've already noted how the Yellow-Yellow-Blue and Yellow-Green-Blue variants, paired with the Balanced Hilt, virtually guaranteed we had a surge whenever we needed it when facing Black defense dice. And unsurprisingly, their strong performance catapulted them to the top of the surge weapon charts:     All told, three Ryyk Blade variants forced their way into our top 10 (in one of the more curious outcomes of the night, Onar's Red-Yellow-Blue Ryyk Blade is actually a top-8 surge weapon, while sporting the best damage among the elite). The big takeaway is the huge damage disparity between the Tier III, three-dice entrants (the Ryyk Blades and Force Pike) and all the others. Power creep, anyone?   The Ryyk Blades weren't quite  good enough to displace the Electrostaff from the top of our keyword rankings...     ... but all six of their Weighted Head varaints did make the top 10, so that has to mean something, right? Interestingly enough, the Ryyk Blade entrants managed to stay clustered in their correct pairs: Onar's two variants place 3d and 4th, Gaarkhan and Biv's place 5th and 6th, and Shyla's counter-intuitive variants placed 7th and 8th. They beat out the Electrostaff + Shock Emitter and our former #1, the BD-1 + Balanced Hilt + Weighted Head, whose once-impressive Cleave procs now look... like they're second-tier.   That leaves us with damage. Which, it turns out, these Ryyk Blades are pretty good at... or at least their wounded variants are:     Looking at the bottom third of our top 15 (#11-15), slots 12, 13, and 14 are taken up by Ryyk Blade variants. Two of them feature the Shock Emitter (Shyla's RBB and Onar's RYB) and one features the Balanced Hilt (Onar's RYB). They're sandwiched between the Electrostaff with the High-Impact Guard and the Tier II BD-1 Vibro Ax with the Tier I Extended Haft (for Pierce 1) and the Tier III Vibrogenerator, which was at one time a top-2 damage dealer.   Next to our Ryyk Blade variants I've placed their corresponding "healthy" version, along with its stats and {total damage ranking}. Shyla's GBB Ryyk Blades with the Shock Emitter come in at a very respectable 26th overall, which is very good for a weapon with no red dice (three-dice attack pool notwithstanding). Onar's YYB variants come in slightly lower (31st for the Shock Emitter, 33d for the Balanced Hilt), but we're still looking at top-30-ish weapon damage with those mods equipped, which is really quite remarkable for a dice pool that features two Yellows and a Blue (and all while retaining a damage ceiling of 9D, or two better than what the BD-1 variant can top out with).   Most of the promising Ryyk Blade variants end up slotting in our 6-10 range:     Shyla's top entry, the RBB Vibrogenerator variant, tops out at 8th (29th for the GBB variant). Considering that we're getting basically no mileage out of the Ryyk Blade's special surge-spending ability and yet still manage to deal 5 or more damage almost 60% of the time, this is pretty good. The RGB Balanced Hilt and Shock Emitter variants finish a solid 7th and 9th respectively, and their Yellow-Green-Blue variants are nearly top-20 weapons (21st for the Balanced Hilt version, 22d for the Shock Emitter version). The rest of this bracket is filled out by the Electrostaff (6th with the Balanced Hilt, and 10th with the Red-Red-Blue Energized Hilt).   That leaves the top-5, and one top-tier Ryyk Blade candidate still unaccounted for:     In a top-tier still dominated by the Electrostaff (and, ironically, still one top-of-the-line Tier II monster), the RGB Ryyk Blades with the Vibrogenerator end up in second behind the Electrostaff + Shock Emitter (although if you look at the numbers, the Electrostaff outperforms the Ryyk Blades pretty handily until we get to 8-9D+). The question mark is the YGB variant, which performs the worst of all the "healthy" Ryyk Blades we've seen in our top 15 (45th overall).   In other words, if we take the Ryyk Blades with this set-up, we probably want to be wounded more than we do with any of the other top-tier damage weapons. If going from "healthy" to "wounded" means my weapon improves from a "top-20" weapon to a "top-10," I'm probably very satisfied to not be wounded all game (and perhaps slightly less bummed when I do get wounded). But if the "cost" of staying healthy is using a top-50 weapon instead of a top-2... that's a pretty severe damage nerf. For someone like Gaarkhan, who can become Focused if he takes too much focus-fire (and in fact can improve his damage dramatically while wounded without suffering any drop-off in mobility or endurance), maybe it's worth it. But Biv probably doesn't want to be wounded if he can help it (because his stats and abilities don't really help him weather that storm), and would probably be just as happy to settle for the Balanced Hilt Ryyk Blades.   Next time, we'll repeat this exercise by wrapping up our final Tier III melee weapon (!!!!!). And it's a potentially-lorebreaking (and already a simulator-breaking) doozy...   [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   Inevitable post-posting edits: No videos this time! Let me know if that makes you happy or sad.           
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    Thank You Rythbryt!!  3 Updates in a week, while still maintaining your incredible level of excellence and detail!!  Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!  
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    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    The Galaxy's Fate in my Hands   Part the Fifteenth: "Shock and Awwwwwww," or why you'd totally want the Electrostaff while trekking with Artoo through the Bukuvu (complete with videos... tons of videos!!!)   Our journey through IA's Tier III melee weapons continues with a weapon of unparalleled prequel-ness: the IG-100 MagnaGuard's Electrostaff!   Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   Now before you throw up your hands in disgust, bear with me here: there were elements of the prequels that were actually pretty good. There was John Williams' stirring score, an eight-minute lightsaber battle for the ages (and, depending on your tastes, its incandescent banter), Yoda doing cool Yoda things, President Matt Santos (early-2000s cable network cross-over alert!), and now a Tier III IA weapon that should fill you with Awe!   (And no, not that kind of "awe"...)   Spoilers below: The Bukuvu is in the heart of Africa There are elephants (of a sort) there Monkeys talk... some apes, too... The natives only speak Swahili Turn back now! Turn back now! TURN BACK NOW!!! Okay... don't say I didn't warn you...    Initial Impressions   First, there's an important caveat: this weapon isn't available in any boxed expansion. To add it to your campaign, you need to purchase the Grand Inquisitor Villain Pack.   Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   Not that you wouldn't want that expansion anyway: the GI is a very lethal early-campaign villain at a relatively low threat cost of 9 (though his agenda set isn't anything to write home about), he comes with two pretty good force user command cards for skirmish play, and the model is excellent (as always). But if you were on the fence, needed a push, and play IA campaigns (especially as a Rebel player), then the Electrostaff should push you over the edge.   In fact, fall over it. Head-first.   Look at all that beautiful plastic... well, some plastic... but it is beautiful... and look at all the accompanying goodies! [Photo credit: FFG]   Then there are the pros of the weapon itself (and there are a ton of really strong pros). We have three attack dice (that's great). And one is a Red (even better). And there's a Green, too (marvelous). And an ability to surge for +2D (both rare and sweet). And a mod slot, for customization (definitely want that). And to top it all off, we get not just one "free" ability that doesn't cost us, but our choice of two excellent "free" abilities: Reach on a melee weapon, or a powerful Cleave 2 (squeeee!!!). And we get to choose from these whenever we declare an attack, each time we attack, with no exhaust penalty (double- triple- and quadruple-squeeeee!!!). Plus, when your hero isn't fighting, it doubles as a walking stick so this doesn't happen to you. Needless to say, this is all excellent.    (Perhaps less needlessly said, that will be the last George reference... maybe).   Then there's the... less-excellent? Our third die is a blue, which doesn't look like a particularly strong choice given that the Blue die's greatest contribution is accuracy, and we rarely care about accuracy on a melee weapon. It's also a low-surge die, and when combined with a Red die, looks like it will drop our surge chance down quite a bit (and make us pretty reliant on the Green, which itself only has a 50% chance of rolling a surge). Further complicating things, while this looks like a low-surge weapon, we do have a chance of rolling surges on two dice, and maybe even three, but only one surge ability available for us to spend. Unless we plan to Recover, add a surge-centric mod, or have a melee hero who has other surge abilities in his or her xp deck, there's a potential to "waste" surges here.   And then, lurking in the background, is the credits-cost: 1250 with no upgrades. This ain't no Gaffi Stick, in any sense.   The maths for a naked Electrostaff bear out these initial impressions. What we have here is a pretty good damage platform that manages to push a single-surge past defense dice slightly more than 50% of the time, right in that sweet spot where it's just likely enough to expect but not likely enough to count on:     As an added bonus, we also get a ton of accuracy... which we'll basically always waste on anything but a niche melee hero:     So all things being equal, while there's a lot to like about this weapon, we'd probably prefer any other die to the Blue one we got. A Red-Red-Green looks like it'd be absolutely devastating. A Red-Green-Green is Rancor dice. A Red-Yellow-Green (Grand Inquisitor, Royal Guard Champion) opens up a ton of surge possibilities. But the Blue... for 1250 credits... ehhhh?   Right?   Well...   Dice Debate: RGB v. RRG v. RGG v. RYG   So first things first: if we don't like our Electrostaff's dice pool, we can do something about that thanks to the power of Jabba! (Or more accurately, his realm):        +        =  (...) [Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   I riffed on this upgrade when it first came out, mostly for the flexibility it opened up. And it does make melee weapons much more flexible. But as we've seen in every write-up, we've yet to find a situation where the Energized Hilt actually improves our weapon's surge proc rate beyond what we'd get from the Balanced Hilt, and it only improves our naked weapon damage when we add certain types of dice. It's almost always an improvement when we add a Red, it's almost always abysmal when we add a Yellow, and adding a Green or Blue is pretty meh (at least for melee weapons), especially compared to other mods we could add.   And no surprise, that's essentially what we see here.     No surprise at the top or bottom: Red-Red-Green is a dynamo (70% odds at 4D+, nearly 50% odds at 5D+), and Red-Yellow-Green has less damage and more surge (74.2% chance of rolling 1 surge past defense dice, far closer to an 80% confidence threshold). The surprise--at least on the damage front--is in the middle. The Red-Green-Green outperforms the Red-Green-Blue when it comes to damage, but the difference is only marginally greater than our ~3% margin of error at its largest point: in the 4-5D+ damage bands. Which seems... less than I'd expected.   So let's go back to our ubiquitous dice chart and see if we can figure out what's happened:   [Photo credit: thesmallman and AdrianT on boardgamegeek]   So if we're doing a straight comparison of just the Green and Blue dice, two things jump out: the Green dice has more surges and more damage. And this is technically true... but only just. The Green die has one more surge than the Blue die (in that second-slot from the left) and one more damage than the Blue die (in that last slot on the right). Beyond that, the Green die and the Blue die are completely identical (well, except for all that accuracy).   Now don't get me wrong: we'd almost always prefer to have more of something than less (even if it's just one more). But when it comes to damage, at least, the Green actually isn't that much of an improvement over a Blue die. The Blue die, like the Green, has a 5-in-6 chance of adding at least 1 natural damage to our attack results whenever we roll it, and there's just one face where rolling the Blue die nets us less natural damage than rolling a Green (that 5A 1D-Blue vs. 3A 2D-Green, both on the far right). Adding one additional damage symbol obviously helps our damage probabilities (pushing us from 7 total damage results to 8 total damage results), but not to the extent that adding a Red die does (improving damage over a Blue by +5, from 7 total damage results to a whopping 12 total damage results). That's why the Red-Green-Blue remains competitive in rolled damage vs. the Red-Green-Green... and falls way behind Red-Red-Green.   The inverse is generally true when it comes to surges: surges are rare to begin with, so getting one extra surge goes a lot further than one extra damage. And indeed, that's what happens: the Red-Green-Green is about 8 percentage points better than the Red-Green-Blue at rolling 1+ surges past defense dice, and about 5 percentage points better at rolling 2+ surges. But having said that, the gains we get from upgrading Red-Green-Blue to Red-Green-Green aren't exactly fixing the Electrostaff's surge quandry: a 64% chance of rolling 1+ surges is better than a 56% chance, but it's still not high enough to count on. And increasing our 2+ surge chance from 17% to 23% probably isn't enticing us to spend credits on a mod that adds a second surge ability.   Ironically, Red-Yellow-Green looks a lot better in this regard (even knowing what we know about its damage output). While we still may not opt for the High-Impact Guard if our odds of 2+ surges is only around 38%, that's basically double the odds we had on our naked Electrostaff (~17%), which is nothing to sneeze at. And we can start to depend on a result that procs around 75% of the time, which is a big deal on a weapon that can natively surge for +2D. While it's not breaking any records, the Red-Yellow-Green actually acquits itself far better than we're used to when we account for the Electrostaff's +2 damage surge ability:     As it turns out, there's basically no difference between any of these dice pools in the 1-3D+ band (translation: they're all punching about 3 damage past defense dice at an exceptional clip). The Red remains excellent and the Green remains very good through 5D+ before they start to taper off (the drop is more dramatic for the Red-Green-Green, as we'd expect). The Red-Green-Green clearly does outperform the Red-Green-Blue pool once we factor in that +2D surge ability. And the Red-Yellow-Green actually becomes competitive with the Red-Green-Blue as well thanks to that ability (with a slightly higher proclivity for burst damage in our top bands).   The caveat, of course, is these are how these dice variants compare versus the naked Electrostaff. The Red-Red-Green, Red-Green-Green, and Red-Yellow-Green consume the Electrostaff's only--and therefore, extremely valuable--mod slot, which means that they're topped-out in terms of damage (unless our melee hero has class cards or other abilities to boost them). We get Red-Green-Blue for free. So the question moving forward will be whether the cost of ditching that Blue die for one that we like better is of more value than keeping the Blue and using our credits and mod slot on something else (especially on ranged weapons, where all that extra Accuracy does matter).   So let's start with the most obvious boon for swapping the Blue for a Yellow or Green: surge procs.   Not its forte (if "forte" is the word I want)...   So the heading really says it all: if we want surges out of the Electrostaff, our options are the usual suspects. The Balanced Hilt (once again) leads the pack, adding a yellow die with the Energized Hilt is quite a bit better than our other alternatives, and... that's about it. We get a marginal ~6 percentage point bump from the Red-Green-Green over the Red-Green-Blue (remember, we're not spending our first surge on our +2D, and the margin between Red-Green-Green and Red-Green-Blue when it comes to rolling just 1+ surge isn't a stark one), and that's about it (until we start losing surges with Red-Red-Green, Red-Red-Blue, and the Vibrogenerator).     Not surprisingly, the Electrostaff doesn't feature prominently in our "top" surge weapons... though the Balanced Hilt variant does place just outside our top-10, thanks in large part to a dice pool that features three dice instead of the more common two.       It's all about that Cleave, 'bout that Cleave, 'bout that Cleave...   (Gee, that would have been a great article title...)   No seriously, it is. Aside from the Weighted Head and Shock Emitter variants, that "free" Cleave 2 is all the Keywords an Electrostaff can trigger (barring hero-specific xp abilities, of course). But it triggers that Cleave 2 exceptionally well, with basically no loss in damage output:     So first off, because Cleave 2 is "free," we're never spending a surge to trigger it (allowing us to get the benefit of that +2D surge ability every time we roll at least 1 surge past defense dice). Second, because the Electrostaff hits like a truck (more on that in a minute), we're basically guaranteed to get that "free" Cleave 2 off unless (a) the defender rolls a dodge, or (b) we roll that damage floor of Red-1D, Green-1~, Blue-1~ and the defender rolls 3 Blocks on a Black die (there's a 1-in-1296 chance that happens, by the way... and it's happened to me :-P Add a comment if it's happened to you, and we'll commiserate!).   The Shock Emitter adds nearly a 60% stun proc, with an 85% chance of dealing 3 or more damage. That totally seems legit, even if we have to exhaust it.   And while we lose out on quite a bit of damage with the Weighted Head, we still have nearly 80% odds of dealing 2 or more damage, and better than 50% odds of dealing Cleave 2 + Cleave 1 + Cleave 1 (once per round, one of those Cleave 1's is exhaust-to-use), which basically transforms our hero into a mobile, reusable grenade.   Both variants score very well in total keywords procced. The Weighted Head Electrostaff leads all challengers, narrowly edging out the Force Pike + Weighted Head combo we discussed last time (and with better damage). And the damage we get out of the Shock Emitter variant is by far the best we have from a top-tier Keyword weapon:       I mean... just look at that Electrostaff + Shock Emitter damage! It's... almost otherworldly.   Speaking of damage...   Watch out for that... Electrostaff!!!   (Sorry, I couldn't resist. I will try harder next time.)   So let's get one unfortunate combo out of the way right away:         Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]   This is the closest to the five-stages of grief that I've ever gotten with an IA weapon. It ran something like this: I agree with the conclusion of the thread, by the way, but that doesn't lessen my grief. Especially when we run final tabs on the brutal damage efficiency we can milk out of the Electrostaff in that configuration (the lost mod variant is shaded black, as per our custom):     In our extreme disappointment (we have, after all, lost one of just 3 possible weapon+mod combos to proc 4D+ past defense dice 80% of the time, and the only one that doesn't have at least one exhaust-to-trigger component), let's not lose sight of the fact that an Electrostaff with the Extended Haft, even without Pierce 1, is still an extremely brutal weapon. It's got a 74.5% proc rate for 4D+, and an ~91% chance of dealing Cleave 2 to any target within 2 spaces and LOS, all of which is absurdly good. It's just not doing "6D+ past defense dice every third attack" levels of good.    But don't worry, if we want that level of (previously almost-unheard-of) damage, we still have several excellent choices: The Shock Emitter has always been near the top of our damage mods, but it's moved solidly past the Vibrogenerator (so far, at least) on three-dice attack pool weapons (or at least three-dice weapons that have the ability to surge for +2D). As has previously been mentioned, it's the first (legal) weapon + mod combo to break the 80% barrier at 4D+ (which is, just to reiterate, is 4 damage dealt past Black or White defense dice). That's an 80% chance to one-shot... [4]
    regular Imperial Officers regular Stormtroopers regular Tusken Raiders regular Snowtroopers regular Wing Guards regular Ugnaughts regular Jet Troopers regular Weequays An almost 70% chance to one-shot... [5]
    regular Probe Droids elite Imperial Officers regular E-webs regular HK-assassin droids elite Wing Guards regular Gammoreans regular Riot Troopers [pending final version] regular Sentry Droids [pending final version] An almost 50% chance to one-shot... [6]
    regular Heavy Stormtroopers regular Nexu regular Trandos elite Snowtroopers elite HK-assassin droids elite Weequays And a 1-in-5 chance to one-shot... [7]
    elite Probe Droids elite E-Webs elite Tusken Raiders General Sorin elite Ugnaughts elite Jet Troopers That's twenty-eight different IP units that you have a fantastic-to-decent-outside-chance of one-shotting before anyone rolls any dice. Plus a ~90% chance at popping some other unfortunate soul with a Cleave 2, and a ~20% chance of Stunning any target who has more than 4-6 health... you know, just for kicks.
    Now of course, all this otherworldly-awesomeness is contingent on spending a whopping 1750 credits for a weapon and having that mod ready (not exhausted), but the damage output is unrivaled when all that is firing and even when the Shock Emitter is exhausted, a naked Electrostaff would still be a remarkably deadly weapon (50% proc rate for 5D+) even if it didn't have Cleave 2, making the exhaust-to-use penalty on the Shock Emitter much less of a deal-breaker than it is for other weapons. And if that weren't enough, we also basically eliminate the chance that we'll ever "waste" any surges rolled by our Electrostaff, thanks to the Shock Emitter's oft-overlooked surge ability for Stun.
    So yeah... this weapon's pretty good.
    Below the Shock Emitter, we have four other weapons pretty well clustered together. Two of them are Energized Hilt mods (Red-Red-Green and Red-Green-Green), and while the Red-Red-Green does better damage wise (particularly at the top of the scale, in the 7-9D+ bands), the Red-Green-Green is still very competitive thanks to its ~25% proc rate for a Recover surge.In between are our polar-opposite Vibrogenerator and Balanced Hilt. The Vibrogenerator does slightly more damage (and, like the Red-Red-Green Energized Hilt, pulls slightly ahead in the 6-8D+ bands), but the Balanced Hilt variant is certainly more flexible (nearly 60% Recover proc rate), albeit at the cost of an exhaust-to-use mod. All four weapons are at or just under 90% for damage through 3D+, 80% for 4D+, 60% for 5D+, and 33% for 6D+ before they start tapering off.
    And then there are the rest: the Red-Red-Blue Energized Hilt, the High-Impact Guard, the naked Electrostaff and Extended Haft [Reach] variant, the Weighted Head variant, and the Red-Yellow-Green Energized Hilt. These are still excellent weapons--they deal 3D+ 85% of the time or better, deal 5D+ in the 30-33% range, and still deal Cleave 2 90% of the time--but some certainly seem more optimized than others.
    The Red-Red-Blue variant is no slouch, but does get fewer surges and damage than what we'd net with the Red-Red-Green or Red-Green-Green, so using our Energized Hilt on Red-Red-Blue will probably be a rare occurrence (unless we're throwing the Electrostaff Diala-style and want to maximize our range for an out-of-nowhere Cleave 2 on some unsuspecting buckethead). The High-Impact Guard improves the damage we'd get from a naked Electrostaff, but only marginally (its percentile gain tops out at just over 5%, in the 7D+ damage band... and doesn't push that result from "unlikely" to "likely"), and for a whopping 500 credits. So unless we have a way to reliably bump up our surges (through an XP card, Hidden, etc.), it looks sub-optimal. The Red-Yellow-Green Energized Hilt gives us a decent surge chance (~40%), but not the chance we'd have with the Balanced Hilt (~60%) if we spent 50 more credits. The Extended Haft (unfortunately) doesn't change our damage odds... although again, having a "free" Reach and Cleave 2 every time you attack is just that much harder for the IP to play around, and at one of the lowest costs available (1550 credits). The Weighted Head likewise doesn't improve our Electrostaff's damage odds, but it does allow us to pair a "free" Cleave 2 with a "free" Cleave 1 to throw around (plus ~20% chance of yet another Cleave 1), and a (veeeeeeery) outside chance of Cleave 9! (2 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1) in a single round. It won't have Reach for those (which is unfortunate), but still... if that's the consolation prize, it's a terrifying prize to walk away with. No surprise then that the Electrostaff dominates our top damage-dealing weapons:  
    Credit to the BD-1 for sticking around this far. Of our top 15, only three slots are taken by two-dice weapons (we always suspected the power creep from Tier II to Tier III was real), and two belong to the BD-1. That Vibrogenerator + Shock Emitter variant continues to do work (once per activation), and the BD-1 + Vibrogenerator + Extended Haft remains an excellent source of sustainable damage (although the Electrostaff + Vibrogenerator and Electrostaff + High-Impact Guard have overtaken it for "top" sustainable damage dealer). Pushed out of our top-15 is the Gaffi Stick + Vibrogenerator, which amazingly remains a top-20 choice (#17) even with all that the Electrostaff, Force Pike, and BD-1 have to offer. It's still the cheapest of the group by a huge margin (550 credits), but its time at the top of the charts has clearly passed.    Coming Full Circle (to Blue Dice)
    But enough tears. If you've been following this series waiting for that perfect weapon for your melee hero, you won't find anything better than the Electrostaff among standard melee weapons for standard melee heroes. It's got three high-damage dice, two crazy-good freebies, is surge-efficient, and hits like a truck even before we add a mod to customize it. It's expensive, but clearly a cut above anything else you can get at its price point. If you manage (or managed) to score it in your campaign, you can bask with confidence in the glow of your impending victory. Go on. It's good for the soul.    (Just make sure your IP has that Grand Inquisitor Villain Pack first, of course... cuz otherwise that laugh would be awkward...)   From here-on out (at least until the campaign goodies from Heart of the Empire are spoiled), the only melee weapons we have left are niche weapons that either depend on one of our hero's specific attributes (Might/Strength for the Tier III Ryyk Blades, and Insight for the Tier III Ancient Lightsaber) or are bound to a particular hero in a class deck (Davith's Shrouded Lightsaber) or as a reward for the hero's mission (Diala's Shu-Yen's Lightsaber).   Which is why we started this discussion with a candid talk about Blue dice. Because if our hero opts for one of these weapons (Davith's lightsaber excluded), we're almost always going to be dealing with Blue dice on a melee weapon (in some cases, multiple blue dice on a melee weapon), a sub-optimal dice pool (Yellow-Green for a two-dice pool? Yuck...), and in some cases, both (Shu-Yen's).    So remember: we like Blues. Blues are fine. Blues aren't that much worse than Greens (except for surges).   (Really.)   So who's next? 'Cuz this is where things start to become really subjective...   This could literally be really good... or really, really, reeeeeeeeeeeely terrible... Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]     Inevitable post-posting edits: While we're waiting, if you didn't like the videos, here's an apology for you.    And if you loved the videos... here's a bonus parting shot for making it all the way to the end.       
  12. Like
    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand
    Part the Fourteenth: "Static Shock," in which we twirl a Force Pike and try not to stick anyone in the eye (at least not accidentally...)
    We're finally there! After a ton of Starter, Tier I, and Tier II weapons (plus a couple of spring and summer hiatuses... hiatusi?), we're on to the bad boys of IA: Tier III melee weapons. These are the biggest of the big, baddest of the bad, the brutal-est of the brutal, the... bloodiest of the... bloody... well, you get the idea.  
    Before we jump in, you may want to take a brief gander over to our Excursus on adding a Green Focus die, which gives us a nice introduction to the power creep that occurs when we add a third die to a weapon's attack pool (it's not insignificant). Here, we'll get a chance to analyze how adding a Yellow die impacts things, not just in the abstract but with reference to specific surge abilities (and mods).
    *rubs hands together in glee*
    Oh, you were expecting a lazy-reader synopsis? Fine...
    Three dice are great Red dice are awesome The Vibrogenerator is still awesome Surge efficiency actually is awesome Yadayadayadaya  Now then, where were we? Oh yes!
    *rubs hands together in glee*
    Initial Impressions
    The first thing that jumps out is that there's a lot that's familiar about this weapon. It has a Red and Yellow die, one mod slot, and one freebie (Reach), which makes it look a lot like a Gaffi Stick:
         
    [Photo credit: FFG and http://cards.boardwars.eu]
    It's also a tremendous improvement over the Gaffi Stick. We not only have an extra Yellow die, but we have up to three surge abilities, two of which add damage (Yay!), even though each only adds one damage (awww....). We have Reach instead of Pierce 1, which will impact our damage some, but greatly increase our threat range. We can also Stun, which is mostly an improvement over Weaken (although it may impact the value of certain mods, like the Shock Emitter. And, of course, the Force Pike costs a whopping 900 more credits.  So what do we think?
    At the outset, we like the Red die. And with these particular surge abilities, we have a damage floor (without mods) of 3D (1D from the Red, surge for 1D on Yellow, surge for 1D from Yellow). So that's good. We'll miss the free Pierce 1, of course, although we could gain it back with the Extended Haft (which would give us Reach and Pierce 1 with another die) at a relatively low credit cost for a mod (300 credits). We also have an intuitive feel that we'll get consistent surges out of this weapon. And in fact, if we're interested in seeing how many of a certain attack result (damage or surges) we're likely to roll past defense dice, we can look at that too:

    These results are very interesting. On the one hand, when it comes to damage, we have about a 50% chance or rolling 3D past defense dice (remember, there's no free Pierce here), and if we're using an 80% confidence threshold as an indicator of predictability, we're likely looking at just 1 damage past defense dice as a predictable outcome. The reasons are pretty obvious: without that Pierce, our attack suffers against the Black die in particular (with a 5/6 chance of removing at least 1 damage), and the white becomes a lot more potent, too (1/2 chance of removing 1 damage, plus the Dodge). The Red keeps our damage respectable, since it's unlikely to roll just 1 damage, but the Yellow dice aren't nearly as reliable. Still, the odds are in our favor that we'll roll at least 1 damage past defense dice, which is encouraging.
    ** Edited 8/24/2017: The original version of this article had a misprinted surge table with rolled surge results that were much higher than what we should reasonably have expected (including odds at rolling 6 surges on a Red-Yellow-Yellow, which is mathematically impossible). Thanks to RedGoldStag for pointing out the problem. If you want a good chuckle over the originally misprinted table, you can find it here, along with a sheepish explanation for what went wrong. 
    And even though we're only adding a Red die as our third dice, there's also a noticeable uptick when it comes to rolling surges. We've noted before just how difficult surges are to come by. In two-dice attack pools, even the Yellow-Yellow die gives us only a 75% chance of getting just a surge past defense dice, and it's only downhill from there:

    But by adding a third die (and a Red die at that, of all things...) we now have a better than 80% chance at rolling 1 or more surges (82.68%), and a roughly 1-in-2 chance (50.1%) in getting 2 or more. That's not quite Balanced Hilt territory, but it's definitely closer than what we get out of 2-dice attack pools, and with much better damage output.
    The Force Pike's current surge abilities aren't particularly efficient (we trade 1 surge for 1 damage). But on the flip side, at least we're unlikely to roll more surges than we can spend (with three built-in surge abilities plus spending a surge to Recover, we have just a 0.30% chance of rolling more surges than we could ever spend). And if we add a mod with another unique surge ability, it's basically impossible (barring Hidden or some other game effect outside of our hero's weapon and what it rolls).
    A mod like the High-Impact Guard would help on both fronts, allowing us to leverage up to 3 surges into 4 damage (plus a fourth for Stun, and our maximum-fifth for Recover). And the amount of Cleave damage we could generate with something like the Weighted Head is extremely tantalizing, too. On the flip side, the Balanced Hilt seems like it might be overkill, since this is a one-mod weapon. And we probably have doubts about whether the Vibrogenerator--heretofore the undisputed king of damage mods--is a smart choice, given this weapon's 80% odds at rolling 2+ surges past defense dice. And, of course, if we wanted to really pound something, we could always change one of those Yellows to something else with the Energized Hilt.
             
         
    Some of these look promising... others, not so much...
    [Photo credit: FFG and http://cards.boardwars.eu]
    But enough theory crafting. Time to hit the (metaphorical) table. 
     
    Damage and (Maybe) Sustainability
    Prioritizing damage, the results are... actually very interesting:

    Lots to talk about here:
    The only clear loser is using the Energized Hilt to convert our Red-Yellow-Yellow into a Green-Yellow-Yellow (is GYY ever a good idea?). Every other configuration, including the naked Force Pike, has at least an 80% chance at dealing 2D+ past defense dice, and around 75% odds of dealing 3D+. The naked, Weighted Head, and Red-Yellow-Blue Energized Hilt variants are the first to drop off, with around 50% odds of dealing 4D+. But the Weighted Head does have a 91% chance at dealing a keyword (that free Cleave 1), which isn't shabby at all. But triggering those bonus Cleave 1's will be a rare occurrence. The next cluster features the Red-Yellow-Green Energized Hilt and the Balanced Hilt, which cap out at around 60% for 4D+, and around 33% for 5D+. The Balanced Hilt doesn't have top-tier damage (we expected it'd be overkill, even on a weapon with lots of surge abilities), but it does have a 50% chance of triggering Stun and almost 20% of triggering a surge ability like Recover, which makes it an incredibly flexible weapon. It's crowded at the top, with five weapons that have around 70% odds at dealing 4D+ past defense dice. If we wanted to break them down further, the Extended Haft and Red-Red-Yellow Energized Hilt seem to be just a cut below, with around 45% odds at dealing 5D+ past defense dice. Of the two, the Haft ends up with slightly less damage (the guaranteed 1D+ bonus from the Red-Yellow conversion procs at a slightly higher rate than the Pierce 1), but does have a significantly higher Stun proc rate (18.4%), thanks in part to its surge-efficient free Pierce 1, and also to the downgrade in surge that comes with swapping a Yellow die for a Red one. The Energized Hilt pulls ahead in the damage race when we get to 6-8D+. That leaves our top-3, all of which are clustered together. The difference between them is pretty marginal, so it's possible that running the simulations again could shake up their final order. The far more interesting point (to me, at least) is that they all reach roughly the same damage plateau in vastly different ways.
    The Vibrogenerator comes in at third, even though it looks like it really shouldn't. Unless, of course, you've previously read our Vibrogenerator deep-dive, where we actually discussed the Force Pike and why adding the Vibrogenerator to it made (conceptual) sense. To briefly recap, if we're prioritizing max damage with the Force Pike, odds are that we were probably already willing to fork over two surges to increase our damage total by 2. That's the exact same amount of surges we renounce if we use the Vibrogenerator which means we're not actually "losing" anything by tapping the Vibrogenerator +2D (other than the trouble of actually having to roll 2 surges past defense dice... though that's a much lower burden with a 3 die weapon than it is with a 2-die weapon). Essentially, we trade the chance to spend 2 surges on damage (that we were going to spend on damage) for a 100% chance at adding 2 damage to our damage results. And if we roll more than 2 surges past defense dice, we can spend them as we normally would, so we're no worse off. The only situation when the Vibrogenerator might set us back is if we only need to add 1D from surges and we have another surge ability (Stun, Recover) that we'd prefer to trigger. In which case, we can opt not to trigger the Vibrogenerator and all is well (assuming we roll at least 2 surges, of course).
    The Shock Emitter takes its familiar spot in the top-2, though it definitely seems to lose some of its usual luster here. Usually, the ability to surge for Stun is a major weapon upgrade, but here it's just repetitive, and therefore useless to our hero (useless a hero gains an ability to add more than one of the same condition to an attack target, or change a keyword before applying it to a target ala Dengar). It's still dealing excellent damage, though its actual impact depends to some degree on how many surges we roll. Its total damage contribution is not as high as the Vibrogenerator's when we roll no surges [+1 damage, vs. +2D]. It's just as good as the Vibrogenerator; when we roll 1 [+2 damage each], and actually exceeds the Vibrogenerator if we can roll 2 surges [+3 damage], where it caps out on damage output. The data also tells us that we're rolling 2 surges at least 20% of the time (because this weapon spends a third surge to trigger Stun nearly 20% of the time), and probably a good deal more than that. It's not enough to push this weapon far ahead of the Vibrogenerator, but it's slightly head. The only downside (as always) is we have to exhaust the Shock Emitter, and if it's exhausted, our damage reverts to back to a naked Force Pike, which isn't bad but is quite a bit behind the Vibrogenerator variant. And at 500 credits, it's more expensive than the Vibrogenerator, too.
    That leaves us with the High-Impact Guard. At long last, surge-efficiency triumphs! The Guard allows us to take those 2 surges that we'd normally fork over for +2D, and lets us get that same damage output whenever we roll a single surge. Which means it's damage is worse than the Vibrogenerator's only when we roll no surges (which happens, but rarely). If we roll a single surge, we pull even [+2 damage], we get the same damage output from 2 surges as the Shock Emitter does [3 damage], and if we roll 3 surges, we actually pull ahead [+4D total] before we run out of bonus damage. It improves our damage floor from 3 damage (Red-1D, Yellow-1~ for 1D, Yellow-1~ for 1D) to 4 damage (Red-1D, Yellow-1~ for 2D, Yellow-1~ for 1D), which is the magic number for guaranteeing at least 1 damage past a black defense die. Plus we get an exhaust-to-add-a-block ability that doesn't remove our ability to add bonus damage, giving it a triple-whammy over the Shock Emitter (defense bonus + we can use our bonus surge ability + the damage is sustainable). We aren't applying Stun much in this set-up, but we have an outside chance at dealing 9 damage past defense dice, which is just boss.
     
    (Still) Not enough surges...
    When it comes to keywords, the Force Pike looks like a very promising candidate. We already have Stun and a Red die (to help push damage past the defense die), plus two Yellows which should, in theory at least, give us plenty of options. The Balanced Hilt is always a strong play, and the Weighted Head also looks excellent paired with double-Yellows. Alternatively, anything that gives us a "free" damage boost without costing us surges (like +1D from the Shock Emitter or a free Pierce 1 from the Extended Haft is also worth looking into. Applying our various mods leaves us with these results:

    Big surprise here: the Weighted Head and Balanced Hilt are 1A and 1B. 
    What is surprising (to me, at least) is just how close these two are at triggering Stun. In the past, the Balanced Hilt has been the runaway winner when it comes to triggering keywords, since that "free" surge is way more dependable than just rolling surges. And that's still the case here (the Balanced Hilt tops out at 89.6% odds of triggering Stun), but the separation is barely three percentage points over the Weighted Head, and just 10-12 percentage points better than the Extended Haft and Shock Emitter, which round out our top 4. Part of this is a testament to just how much easier it is to roll 1 or more surges past a defense die when you have 3 attack dice instead of 2, and part of it is diminishing returns (adding a "free" surge doesn't impact an already-high probability of getting 1 surge past defense dice nearly as much as it impacts our generally lower odds of rolling 2 or more surges past).
    Where the Balanced Hilt pulls away from the Weighted Head is in its damage (because we're so likely to roll at least 1 surge past defense dice anyway with a 3-die weapon, having a "free" extra surge on a weapon with multiple surge abilities for damage means we have an even better chance of boosting our damage, too), although it actually measures slightly behind the Extended Haft at those levels, and quite a bit behind the Shock Emitter. In other words, any of those four configurations offer us a pretty good mix of keywords and weapon damage.
    By the same token, we should probably avoid the Yellow-Yellow-Green Energized Hilt, which offers just roughly the same Stun odds as the Extended Haft, even though it ought to surge a fair bit more than a Red-Yellow-Yellow. Yet again, its damage holds it back... waaaaaaaaay back. The High-Impact Guard offers us pretty good damage in this layout, though it's definitely a notch below both the Haft and Shock Emitter.
    Having said all that, its clear that our overall weapon damage is still suffering when we spend surges to prioritize Keywords over damage. In a damage-layout, every variant (except that Yellow-Yellow-Green) dealt 5 damage or more past defense dice at least 50% of the time. When we switch to Keywords, we're lucky to hit 30% odds for 5D+... although somehow the Vibrogenerator somehow manages to hit the 40% mark for 5D+ and proc a Stun almost 20% of the time (which is previously unheard-of for a Vibrogenerator weapon  ).  
    Lastly, let's look at surge procs:

    As with Keywords, the Balanced Hilt again offers us the highest proc rate for surges, but the difference is once again minor. The only clear separation at this level is between the Balanced Hilt and the Yellow-Yellow-Green Energized Hilt (which still has terrible damage) and everything else, and then everything else and the Vibrogenerator (although again, it still lodges 20% odds of triggering a surge ability, and over 40% odds of dealing 5D+  ). As between the Balanced Hilt and YYG Energized Hilt, our damage is definitely better with the Balanced Hilt equipped, so that seems to be the play once again.
     
    A new level of power
    So we suspected at the start that it probably wasn't fair to compare the combat results of three-dice weapons to the two-dice counterparts that we found in Tier I and Tier II. To evaluate our initial suspicions, here's how our Force Pike compared to our previous top-5 weapons when it comes to triggering surge abilities:

    There's not much difference between overall surge rates, but the damage from the Force Pike in a surge-first hierarchy is waaaaaaaay higher than what those other weapons could ever dream of (roughly the same odds of dealing 4D+ as most of these other weapons have of dealing 2D+... Gaffi Stick excepted, of course).
    The difference is more pronounced in Keyword weapons, since a higher damage total generally translates into greater odds of being able to force at least 1 damage past defense dice (thereby triggering the Keyword):

    Notice that the BD-1 (our previous "King of Keywords") is by no means a "bad" weapon. Its damage is still pretty good, especially with the Shock Emitter equipped (and, to a lesser extent, the Balanced Hilt and the Red-Yellow Energized Hilt). And the BD-1 still triggers a lot of keywords with the Weighted Head equipped (Cleave 1, Cleave 2, Bleed, Cleave 1). But it falls behind the Force Pike because it can't do both high-damage and high-keyword simultaneously. The Force Pike by comparison does excellent damage (75% odds of 2D+) and tons of keywords (Cleave 1, Stun, Cleave 1, Cleave 1) in the same mod layout and surge hierarchy. That's the benefit of adding that third die. 
    Lastly, our damage weapons:

    In the upset of the night, two BD-1 variants still manage to hold-serve against the Force Pike. Not surprisingly, both mod pairs contribute what's essentially 1 die (or more) worth of damage (either +3D, or +2D and Pierce 1) to a very strong base die pool (Red-Green). Both also feature the Vibrogenerator, which is also fascinating... In some ways, it's encouraging that we can still milk top-tier damage out of a weapon we can pick up mid-campaign (even if we can't maximize its damage potential until we pick up a Tier III mod or two). From there, our top-10 is dominated by the Force Pike. The Gaffi Stick remains an absolute bargain that punches well above its credit cost... but even I, as one of its foremost apologists, have to acknowledge that it's starting to lose steam. 
    Perhaps the key point moving forward is this: even the best melee weapon Tier II can offer is barely enough to stay ahead of a Tier III weapon with a relatively low-damage attack pool (Red-Yellow-Yellow) and some mix of surge efficiency (High-Impact Guard), bonus damage (+1D from Shock Emitter, +2D from Vibrogenerator), or some other "free" combat add (Pierce 1 from Extended Haft). Will that continue to hold true as we examine other Tier III weapons?
    *Cue the next challenger.*
     

    [Photo credit: FFG and http://cards.boardwars.eu]
    Inevitable post-posting edits: So far no strikethroughs... 
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    I have been reading this thread for months and eagerly await each new post.  I specifically created this account just to say Thank You!! for all the work and effort you put into these posts.  This is the best content I have found about any aspect of IA.  Every new post is like getting an unexpected present when it's not even your birthday.  Thank You!
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    Jedi Sidious got a reaction from Ace_of_Spades in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    I have been reading this thread for months and eagerly await each new post.  I specifically created this account just to say Thank You!! for all the work and effort you put into these posts.  This is the best content I have found about any aspect of IA.  Every new post is like getting an unexpected present when it's not even your birthday.  Thank You!
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    Jedi Sidious reacted to Rythbryt in The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium   
    The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand
    Part the Thirteenth: "The winds, they be changin'..." in which we end Tier II ankle-deep in a pool of blood and brains... or something like that...
    As promised, we'll wrap up our Tier II melee weapons by looking at the various mod combos for the Tier II BD-1 Vibro Ax (600 credits). If you missed our discussion of the base BD-1, and how adding a single mod affects its damage output and surge/keyword proc rates, you can find that here.    [Photo credit: cards.boardwars.eu]   This time, we have an embarrassment of riches to sort through. As of the date of this writing, we have thirty-one (legal) two-mod combos we could pair on our BD-1. Just to refresh our memories: Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter Balanced Hilt + Vibrogenerator Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Green) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue) Extended Haft + High-Impact Guard Extended Haft + Shock Emitter Extended Haft + Vibrogenerator Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow) Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue) Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Green) Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow) Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue) High-Impact Guard + Vibrogenerator High-Impact Guard + Weighted Head High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow) High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue) High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Green) High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow) High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue) Shock Emitter + Vibrogenerator Shock Emitter + Weighted Head Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow) Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue) Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Green) Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow) Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue) Vibrogenerator + Weighted Head We'll start with our surge-oriented mod pairs, then which combos give us the best chance at proccing a keyword. We'll finish with mods that boost our BD-1 to its highest levels of pure damage awesomeness.   Some not-so-hot-takes if you're skimming: The BD-1 is awesome. If you want to know, read on. The Vibroknucklers, not so much. If you want to know why, read this. Or, you know, just jump to the end.  The Vibrogenerator is still the king of damage... but not always essential.  Oh. And I watched John Wick over the weekend. Who I feel would totally use a Gaffi Stick on you if he played this game... and if you killed his dog. Let's begin. (Or, if you prefer, end.)   Surging up a Storm   For both surge- and keyword-oriented weapons, we'll want to generate at least 1 surge reliably. So that means our top-two surge mods are probably going to be involved in some capacity: the Balanced Hilt with the Energized Hilt (either the Green-Yellow variant if we want to maximize surges, or in the alternative the Red-Yellow variant if we don't want our damage to plummet).   For both our surge- and keyword-focused weapons, we basically have 2 approaches. First, we'll pair these two surge-friendly mods together to maximize our surge/keyword proc chance, and see how our various dice combos fare with the Energized Hilt (we'd expect the best surges from Green-Yellow, better damage from Red-Yellow, etc). Then, we'll pair each mod separately with another damage-improving mod that doesn't impair our ability to generate surges (sorry, Vibrogenerator). That means pairing each with the Shock Emitter and  High-Impact Guard. We'll also pair the Energized Hilt with the Extended Haft (since the Balanced Hilt + Extended Haft combo isn't legal). And just for kicks, let's see what happens when we pair the Red-Red Energized Hilt with the exhaust-to-surge Balanced Hilt. That leaves us with eleven legal, potentially-promising 2-mod combinations for us to try out: Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RY) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (GY) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RR) Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard Energized Hilt (RY) + Shock Emitter Energized Hilt (RY) + High-Impact Guard Energized Hilt (RY) + Extended Haft Energized Hilt (GY) + Shock Emitter Energized Hilt (GY) + High-Impact Guard Energized Hilt (GY) + Extended Haft Here's how they shook out, and how they compared with our top single-mod variants--the Balanced HIlt only, Energized Hilt (GY) only, Energized Hilt (GG) only, and Energized Hilt (RY) only, all shaded. Plus we'll throw in one tantalizing illegal mod (shaded black) just for kicks:
    So where does this leave us?
    First, our surge proc rate bottoms out at around 55% (plus or minus our ~3% margin of error). Given that our normal BD-1 topped out at just 40.7%, these are all good-to-great improvements. So that's a promising start. Not surprisingly, the combo that looked most intuitively surge-friendly to us (Balanced Hilt + Green-Yellow Energized Hilt) leads the pack in surge proc rate (88.2%). Also unsurprisingly, its damage is abysmal. Ironically, its damage is slightly better than what the BD-1 scored with just the Green-Yellow or Green-Green Energized Hilt equipped, but quite a bit worse than what just equipping the Balanced Hilt would have given us (essentially the same odds of dealing 1, 2, and 3 damage as the Balanced Hilt has of dealing 2, 3, and 4 damage). The dual-mod combo does have a better chance at proccing a surge (which is waht we're concerned about), but the drop-off when it comes to generating surges (88.2% for the dual-mod, vs. 81.4% with just the Balanced Hilt equipped) isn't nearly as precipitous as the drop-off in damage (48.1% at dealing 2D+, vs. 72.0% with just the Balanced Hilt equipped). So that's not a great start for the Energized Hilt. In fact, when it comes to a base mod to built off of, this isn't a contest of equals. The Balanced Hilt makes no showing lower than 7th, and it features in all of the top 7 surge dealers. In fact, the Red-Red die Energized Hilt with the Balanced Hilt has essentially the same odds of proccing a surge (69.1%) as the Yellow-Green Energized Hilt has of proccing a surge without the Balanced Hilt (69.2%). So if we want to surge (and, presumably, if we want to Cleave as well), our go-to mod should be the Balanced Hilt. The Balanced Hilt variants also do quite well when it comes to delivering damage. Only the pairing with the Yellow-Green Energized Hilt has less than an 80% chance of dealing 1 or more damage (74.3%), and two of them actually have a 90% chance or better: the illegal pairing with the Extended Haft (awwwwww...), and the legal pairing with the Shock Emitter, which actually has a 90% chance of dealing 2D+ combined with a 79.9% chance of triggering a surge--not bad numbers at all. Speaking of that illegal Balanced Hilt + Extended Haft combo... yipes.  It nets us our third-best damage totals (just behind pairing the Shock Emitter with either the Red-Yellow Energized Hilt or the Balanced Hilt), but at a lower credit cost (1200 credits vs. 1350 or 1400 credits) and with a surge proc rate around 80%. Plus there's that free Pierce 1 that we like so much. *sigh* If only... In contrast, the damage on the Energized Hilt variants is overall quite poor: three of them don't clear 80% odds of dealing at least 1 damage, and the top damage dealers (all of which feature Red-Yellow dice pools) have our lowest odds of landing a surge. Even the usually-mighty Shock Emitter can just barely push the Green-Yellow dice pool about 80% odds at dealing 1 damage past defense dice (82.8%). On a Red-die weapon, it's at least 80% likely to push 3 damage past defense dice. So... Bottom-line: if we want surges, go with the Balanced Hilt. It really does appear to be that simple. And in fact, that's true when we take a step-back and look at how our top-10 "Surge" weapons stand when we look at all Starter, Tier I, and Tier II melee weapons:
    Our surge-friendly Tier II Vibro Kuncklers perform quite well, at #23 overall. And yet, their inability to take the Balanced Hilt mod still puts them more than 5 percentage points behind the Tier II Stun Baton with the Balanced Hilt, even though that weapon rolls two non-surge-friendly dice (Red-Blue). The Tier II Double-Vibrosword, with its Green-Red dice pool, comes in an impressive 16th, due almost entirely to the Balanced Hilt. And our Tier II BD-1 has two variants in the top-10 (well, really one): the Balanced Hilt and Energized Hilt, one rolling Red-Yellow and the other Green-Green.   The only Tier II to crack our Top-5 is the BD-1 with the Balanced Hilt and Green-Yellow Energized Hilt (4th). And while that weapon has pretty good chance to proc a Bleed and Cleave 2, it's damage is just mid-pack while its cost is significantly higher than its Starter and Tier I counterparts:     You will watch as I bathe in their blood...   Moving on to keywords, we'll again use the Balanced Hilt and Green-Yellow/Red-Yellow Energized Hilt as our starting-points. We'll pair them with the same mods we had before, plus we'll throw in the Weighted Head (since it adds more Keywords). That leaves us with a very inauspicious thirteen legal mod combos: Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RY) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (GY) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RR) Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard Energized Hilt (RY) + Shock Emitter Energized Hilt (RY) + High-Impact Guard Energized Hilt (RY) + Extended Haft Energized Hilt (RY) + Weighted Head Energized Hilt (GY) + Shock Emitter Energized Hilt (GY) + High-Impact Guard Energized Hilt (GY) + Extended Haft Energized Hilt (GY) + Weighted Head As a Balance mod, the Balanced Hilt can't legally be paired with either the Extended Haft or the Weighted Head, so that kind of sucks. But we'll run the numbers anyway (since we're gluttons for torture, apparently), marking those illegal pairings in Black. The results:
    Thoughts: So let's start with some bottom-feeders: Three single mod-variants (Energized Hilt with Green-Yellow, Red-Yellow, and Green-Green) all severely underperform, placing last, second-to-last, and fifth-from-the-rear. Their keyword proc rate ranges from 48.8% (Red-Yellow) to 51.8% (Green-Yellow), and none of them have great odds at forcing more than 1 damage past a defense die. The single mod Balanced Hilt variant, in stark contrast, places sixth overall in Bleed proc rate (77.4%, good enough for fourth out of our legal mod combos) with a nearly 80% chance of forcing at least 2 damage past defense dice (78.8%). Once again, this suggests we're getting much higher value if we add the Balanced Hilt than if we invest in the Energized Hilt. Between these underperforming Energized Hilts, we have two Red-Yellow dual-mod weapons: one modified by the High-Impact Guard, the other by the Weighted Head. The High-Impact Guard weapon makes sense: it's damage is still pretty poor (an 83.7% chance at 1D+, just 69.3% at 2D+), most likely because our first surge is going towards that +1D and Bleed surge ability, instead of the +2D ability added by the High-Impact Guard. The Weighted Head combos (both Green-Yellow and Red-Yellow) look... mischarted. And depending on what we're measuring, they might be. For now, file that thought away: we'll get back to it. The middle-tier weapons (the #7 Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RR) through the #11 Energized Hilt (GY) + Weighted Head) have fairly solid damage, with the exception of the Green-Yellow with the Weighted Head (just a 73.9% chance of 1D+). There are two Shock Emitters and two Extended Hafts, all of which register at least an 85% chance of dealing 1D+ (the Green-Yellow Energized Hilt + Extended Haft combo brings up the rear, with a strong 86.8%). There's also a Green-Yellow Energized Hilt + High-Impact Guard that has an 85.5% chance of dealing 1D+, though its damage drops of pretty precipitously from there (just a 36% chance of dealing 3D+, vs. the Red-Yellow Energized Hilt + Shock Emitter's 90.6% odds of dealing 3D+). And our surprising Red-Red Energized Hilt + Balanced Hilt pairing performs strongly as well, with a nearly 70% chance of proccing a bleed (67.8%) and better than 70% chance of dealing 3D+ (74.9%). The Green-Yellow Energized Hilt + Balanced Hilt, which led our surge proc rate, comes in at #6 here. The problem isn't its ability to surge--it procs a 52.9% chance for Cleave 2--but its ability to deal damage (just a 74.7% chance at dealing 1D+, and only a 53.1% chance at dealing 2D+). The Red-Yellow dice pool offers nearly the same Cleave 2 chance (50.3% vs. 52.9%), but a noticeably higher Bleed proc chance (78.9% vs. 71.6%). We know this Red-yellow pool isn't out-surging a Green-Yellow, so the improvement in Bleed chance is attributable to our much-improved damage odds (a 72.6% chance of dealing 2D+, vs. the Green-Yellow's 74.7% chance of dealing just 1D+). Turning to our top 6, there's basically no separation between them when it comes to their Bleed proc rate. They range from 79.8% to 77.4%, all within our ~3% margin of error, so running another 2000 trials on each weapon would likely result in a shake-up. That said, there are some clear functional differences: First, two of our top 6 weapon combos aren't legal.  And that's a real shame because the Balanced Hilt + Weighted Head is a cleaving beast, with a 77.4% Bleed-proc rate, a 39.0% Cleave 2-proc rate, and a whopping 88.0% chance at being able to exhaust the Weighted Head for Cleave 1. Plus very good damage output, as well (88.0% at 1D+, 78.8% at 2D+).  The Balanced Hilt + Extended Haft isn't shabby, either, with a 79.8% Bleed-proc and a 40.2% Cleave 2-proc, plus a 78.2% chance at 3D+ and a 53.2% chance at 4D+. DARN YOU MOD TRAITS!!!!  Our top Bleed weapon, the Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard, looks to some degree like fool's gold. We've seen the High-Impact Guard underperform consistently before, because it needs to consume a surge to pump out damage. Here, we still have an excellent chance at a Bleed (79.8%), but our Cleave 2 proc rate is just 5.3%, clearly in the bottom-tier of these combos. Again, that's because we're spending a surge for +2D, and that's one less surge that we can't spend to Cleave 2. It's also worth noting that while we're spending that surge for +2D, our damage output  is fairly high (89.2% chance at 2D+, good for third-best on this chart), but trails behind what the Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter would net us by a fair bit (both mod combos cost the same amount in credits, too). Not to mention that Shock Emitter combo still has a 40% chance at triggering Cleave 2. The High-Impact Guard's saving grace is that its output is sustainable, whereas the Shock Emitter has to be exhausted to use. But when it comes to raw damage output, the "free" damage from the Shock Emitter gives us a more reliable boost than the surge for +2D from the High-Impact Guard. Pairing the Balanced Hilt with the Energized Hilt (RY) gives us our second-best Cleave 2 proc rate (50.3%, just a shade behind the 52.9% from our Green-Yellow Energized Hilt). It's damage isn't terrible--it dealt 1D+ a reliable 86.6% of the time, and 2D+ in 72.6% of our 2000 trials--but it's worth pointing out that our weapon has slightly better damage output with just the High-Impact Guard on it, without paying an extra 250 credits for the Energized Hilt. So that's something to consider. Now let's reassess these mods and see how they fare when we prioritize the less surge-efficient Cleave 2 ability over that efficient +1D and Bleed. As you might expect, there's some shake-up, but nothing earth-shattering:
    This time, we're sorting these mod combos by their chance at proccing that Cleave 2. Our top-6 includes the same cast of characters, though as we mentioned when we looked at the Bleed proc rates, we have some shake-up in their final order (not surprising since they're all clustered together between 75.0% and 79.9%, plus or minus our ~3% margin for error). Rather than walking through all of these again, here are three general observations: First, notice that our top-6 manage to proc that Cleave 2 75% of the time or better. Of course, this isn't sustainable, because all six use the Balanced Hilt (which has to be exhausted to use), but if you were looking to reliably trigger Cleave 2 at least once per activation, these weapons will let you do that almost every activation. Second, notice that damage is down across the board. This isn't surprising, since we're no longer prioritizing a surge-efficient ability that combines damage and a keyword. These weapons still proc that Bleed fairly regularly (with the exception of the Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard variant, which as we pointed out above, usually doesn't have 3 surges to spend), although it's still in the high-30% through low-50% range. As a result, we only have 2 weapons in our top-6 that have at least an 80% chance at dealing 2D+ past defense dice (three, if we count the illegal Balanced Hilt + Extended Haft); when we prioritized the Bleed, only one--the Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RY)--was noticeably under 80% odds (72.6%). Third, the surest way to improve our damage output remains to add "free" damage, either directly on to our damage total (Shock Emitter) or by gutting the defense with Pierce (Extended Haft). Those two weapon variants enjoy a comfortable damage lead over the others in our top-6 in the 2-4 damage bands, and the Shock Emitter enjoys a sizeable lead all the way to 6D+. So with all that said, how does the BD-1 fare overall when it comes to triggering keywords?   Well, as you can see from this chart, good enough to push our former #1 (the Tier I Vibro Blade + Balanced Hilt) and #2 (Tier I Gaffi Stick + Balanced Hilt) to numbers 10 and 11:
    It's worth noting that all of our Tier II weapons (the Vibroknucklers plus the moddable Stun Baton and Double Vibrosword with the Balanced Hilt) are top-35 Keyword weapons. But the BD-1 with two mods is definitely a cut above, and even the BD-1 with just the Balanced Hilt is a top-10 weapon, whether we prioritize the Bleed (#8) or the Cleave 2 (#9). Adding the Shock Emitter dramatically increases damage, while also pushing our primary keyword proc rate to nearly 80%.   Our top 5 features more of the same:
    When it comes to landing a Keyword with a surge, the Balanced Hilt + Red-Yellow Energized Hilt is clearly the winner, with a 75% or better chance of proccing our primary keyword, and a 50% or better chance at proccing our secondary keyword, plus an 80% chance or better at dealing 1D+. And, of course, intuitively, that makes sense: we've manipulated the BD-1 into having the best native dice pool for triggering keywords (Red-Yellow), added the Balanced Hilt (ala the Gaffi Stick), and then given it two strong keywords (Cleave 2 and a Bleed with +1D). But when it comes to the highest overall chance of dealing any keyword, the Balanced Hilt + Weighted Head narrowly edges it out, thanks to its exhaust-to-Cleave and optional Cleave 1 surge ability (for a max of Cleave 4 if everything goes right). It's got damage that's quite a bit lower than the other top-tier keyword weapons, but hey--the price of glory, right?
    Going for the Jugular   Lastly is damage. The Vibrogenerator, Shock Emitter, and Extended Haft were our most promising entrants, so we'll pair those with the Balanced Hilt and Energized Hilt (the Red-Yellow and the Red-Red variants only) where we can, as well as the High-Impact Guard. That means testing 16 combos: Vibrogenerator + Shock Emitter Vibrogenerator + Extended Haft Vibrogenerator + Balanced Hilt Shock Emitter + Extended Haft Shock Emitter + Balanced Hilt Shock Emitter + High-Impact Guard Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (RY) Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (RR) Extended Haft + High-Impact Guard Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (RY) Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (RR) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RY) Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RR) Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard Energized Hilt (RY) + High-Impact Guard Energized Hilt (RR) + High-Impact Guard   In addition, we'll also test our unfortunate illegal mod from this batch (again shaded black): the Vibrogenerator + Red-Red Energized Hilt. That should make up for the fact that I didn't bother to test the Vibrogenerator + High-Impact Guard combo, since it's pointless to do so (a Red-Green dice pool can't generate more than 2 surges without outside help, we give up 2 surges with the Vibrogenerator, and we don't have any more mod slots for outside help once we put the Vibrogenerator and High-Impact Guard on our BD-1). Because this is a damage focused hierarchy, to the extent we have surges to spend, we're prioritizing our +1D and Bleed ability over Cleave 2 (sorry :-P), and the +2D ability from the High-Impact Guard (if equipped) over both. :-D   So here's the first cluster of entrants, starting with the lowest damage output:
    First off, let's just be clear: in a vacuum, these are fantastic damage outputs. Each weapon dealt 1 or more damage at least 85% of the time, three of them deal 2D+ at least 80% of the time, and two have at least a 50% chance of also triggering a keyword (one has a 50% chance at dealing two keywords). Plus they have Reach, which isn't reflected in these combat stats, but has a real impact on actual combat on the table-top. So none of these are "bad" weapons, by any stretch.   That said, there's definite room for improvement. While we have a lot of mods represented here--the Balanced Hilt, the Energized Hilt, the High-Impact Guard, and even the Shock Emitter--none of these weapons sport the Vibrogenerator, and it shows. Here's how these two-mod variants compare to the BD-1 with just the Vibrogenerator equipped (marked in a white border) and our current king of damage, the Gaffi Stick + Vibrogenerator: 
    The Vibrogenerator-only BD-1 clears the 80% threshhold (barely) at dealing 3 or more damage, miles ahead of what we have here. And No one's even remotely sniffing the Gaffi's 70% odds at dealing 4D+. Both weapons also cost markedly less than what these two-mod variants will set us back (especially the Gaffi Stick), so if damage is the thing, we still have a ways to go.   Next are finishers 6-11:
    Again, there's no Vibrogenerator here, though we do have more damage-centric mods: Red-Red Energized Hilts, Shock Emitters, and free Pierce 1s from the Extended Haft. All of these weapons are solidly in the 80%+ range for dealing 2D+, and five of them are at (or within striking distance) of 80% at dealing 3D+. Plus we still have two challengers with 70% odds or better at proccing a Bleed. The result is a clearly narrowed gap between these two-mod weapons and the single-mod Vibrogenerator:

    The Gaffi Stick still leads the pack, but its only sizable lead is in the 3-4D+ bands, and it actually under-performs at 6-7D+ (by a couple percentage points) when compared to the BD-1 with the Red-Red Energized Hilt + Shock Emitter. The Balanced Hilt + Shock-Emitter variant gives us our best mix of overall damage (79.8% proc rate for 3D+) and keyword/surge procs (80.2% Bleed proc, 41.6% Cleave 2 proc, 5.7% surge proc), albeit only once per activation. That's not a bad weapon, although its cost (1400 credits) is way up there.   So that brings us to our top 5:     Ok, so first-things first: there are actually six weapons here. But one is illegal (and a high-placing one, at that), so if you remove it, you have our top 5.  So what do we have here?   At the lowest end, we have the Vibrogenerator + Balanced Hilt combo. Which we've actually seen before, with the Tier I Vibrosword. Yes, it still looks counter-intuitive. And in fact, it was counter-intuitive in roughly 95% of our 2000 trials. But it still manages to deal 3D+ past defense dice in 80% of our trials, 4D+ in better than 60%, and 5D+ in more than one-third. And as far as cost goes, it's definitely on the lower end (1250 credits). So again, it may not be the most efficient weapon, but it's not an irrational weapon.   Then we actually have two non-Vibrogenerator weapons in this rotation! With one-mod weapons, we haven't found a melee mod yet that could out-duel the Vibrogenerator, but when we start pairing mods together, there are a handful of combos that actually can rise to the top. And ironically enough, they're two mod combos that result in an almost identical stat profile, but go about it in vastly different ways: The Shock Emitter + Extended Haft variant is all about forcing extra damage through. The +1D from the Shock Emitter isn't sustainable, but the free Pierce 1 from the Extended Haft is static, and as we've seen before with other weapons, its impact is huge. Add a 40% proc rate for Bleed and an outside chance at Cleave 2 (5.7% proc rate), and we have a weapon that offers far more flexibility than a Vibrogenerator weapon. Its cost is still 1400 credits, so we're laying out a lot of cash. But it's dependable for 3D+ if we prioritize our Bleed surge ability. The surprise entry for me was the Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard weapon. After all, we've seen this pairing before (most notably on the Tier I Vibrosword), and it always seems to under-perform. So what makes the difference here? Well, for starters, note that our surge hierarchy for this weapon prioritizes the +2D over the +1D and Bleed surge ability. Normally, shaking things up like that would dramatically affect our Bleed proc rate. But that's not the case here: this weapon has essentially the same odds at proccing a Bleed (41.0%) as the Shock Emitter + Extended Haft variant has of proccing a Bleed (40.9%). Because the High Impact Guard is giving us a "free" (i.e., unrolled) surge to spend on something else, opting for the +2D over the +1D and Bleed doesn't impact our Bleed proc at all: if we roll a surge, we proc the +1D and Bleed as we normally would. If we don't roll the surge, we pass on the Bleed because we have to. The result is a weapon that's more surge-efficient when it comes to dealing damage, while not negatively impacting our keyword proc. As a result, our damage is essentially the same for both weapons in the 1-5D+ bands, but the Balanced Hilt variant outperforms the Shock Emitter + Extended Haft variant slightly at 6D+, and also gives us an outside chance at forcing 7D past a defense die. We have to roll triple-damage on the Red die and not roll the single-surge side on the Green die, and the defense die has to be White and roll a Blank for it to happen... but it's possible.  Top honors goes to the Vibrogenerator + Shock Emitter. This is all about guaranteed brute force. We have a guaranteed 1D from a Red die, a guaranteed 2D from the Vibrogenerator, and a guaranteed 1D from the Shock Emitter. That's a guaranteed minimum of 4 damage. Plus the Green die has a virtual guarantee of adding a fifth damage (unless it rolls its single single-surge side). Considering that the Black die has only a 1/6 chance of keeping pace with 4D, that's just too much damage for any defense die to deal with. And it shows in the stats. We cross the 80% threshold for 4D+ (80.4%), the 60% threshold for 5D+ (61.4%), and the 33% threshold for 6D+ (35.6%), plus it can clear the 8D threshold. All of these are watershed marks for us. We have to exhaust the Shock Emitter to unlock the weapon's full potential, but even when it's exhausted, we can still opt to trigger the Vibrogenerator, which is enough on its own to give our BD-1 excellent single-target damage (80% proc rate for 3D+, 61.9% proc rate for 4D+). This is damage reliability at a level we just haven't seen before.   And yet, for all this guaranteed damage, it only barely managed to scoot ahead of our #2 and #3 variants. The Energized Hilt + Vibrogenerator keeps the 2D from the Vibrogenerator and the 1D from the Red die, and while it drops the guaranteed 1D from the Shock Emitter, it upgrades our Green die to a Red, which not only gives us a guaranteed damage back (since a Red will always roll at least 1 damage), but also gives us a 1/3 chance on improving our max damage on that die from 2D to 3D. Again, we have to exhaust the Energized Hilt to max out, but a BD-1 with the Vibrogenerator is still an extremely lethal consolation prize. Now if only it were campaign-legal...      Lastly, we have my personal favorite: the BD-1 with the Extended Haft and Vibrogenerator. If you ever wondered what a Gaffi Stick on steroids would look like, this is it:
    Going into these sims, I had expected this weapon to be the champion because it retains everything great about the Gaffi Stick and improves everything about it that wasn't so hot. We've kept the free Pierce 1, the Red die, and the static +2D bonus. Only now we've swapped out a low-damage Yellow die for a medium-damage Green die. It has better than a 75% proc rate of 4D+, better than 50% proc rate of 5D+. It's a better beat stick. And like our Gaffi Stick, it's 100% sustainable. No parts to exhaust here. And it's a much better weapon if we decide we don't want to trigger the Vibrogenerator, because we have 2 desirable surge abilities (Cleave 2 and +1D and Bleed), instead of just a Weaken to choose from.   And then there's the kicker: it also has Reach. For a melee hero, this is huge. I mean huuuuuuuge:   Gaffi stick...   BD-1...   The elephant in the room is the cost. On the one hand, it's the second-cheapest dual-mod BD-1 we've looked at (and the cheapest legal variant), at just 1250 credits (or the cost of a naked Tier III Electrostaff). It's an investment, but on the low end of what you'd usually pay for a top-Tier III weapon. On the other, it's 700 credits more than that Tier I Gaffi Stick. And while it's better, it may not be more-than-double-the-cost better. Stat-wise, it's probably not. But if you value Reach and/or the flexibility that comes with better surge abilities, it very well might be.
    Things to ponder. 
    So where does that leave us overall? Well, when we compile all of our top damage dealers across all tiers, the result is... 

    And our new leaderboard is:

    ...that our overall top-10 for damage is now flooded with BD-1 variants. :-D The Gaffi Stick + Vibrogenerator is the only hold-over from our previous top-10. And while it still places top-3 (and is by far the cheapest of the bunch), it's ceded its place at the top of the pyramid. For now, the BD-1 reigns supreme. And our other moddable Tier II weapons (the Stun Baton and Double Vibrosword) aren't far off the pace, either (Vibrogenerator-variants only ;-) ). The only Tier II that doesn't fare well is the Vibroknucklers... but given its lack of mod slot, we kind of figured that going in, didn't we?   So that's a wrap: Tier II melee weapons in the bag. And with them, our last (buyable) two-dice melee weapons. Which means we're on to a world of (at least) 216 possibilities.      
    "Take it Kronk! Feeeeeeeeeeeeel the power!"
    [Photo credit: FFG and cards.boardwars.eu]
     
    Inevitable post-posting edits: Resized some outlandishly large cards.     
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