Rythbryt

The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand: An IA Probability Compendium

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DATA DEEP-DIVE 3: Tier I Melee Weapons

Here's the exhaustive data for all of our Tier I melee weapons, sorted by how well each weapon+mod combo performs in dealing damage, triggering keywords, and generating surges. The results are broken up for each weapon by surge-hierarchy (damage-focused, keyword-focused, surge-focused). Enjoy.

Gaffi Stick (Tier I, 300 Credits)

Hiers_Gaffi_Stick.jpg

This weapon is boss. At whatever you want to to be boss at. And dirt cheap, too.

Boss + dirt cheap.

'nuff said.

Vibro Blade (Tier I, 300 Credits)

 

Hiers_Vibro_Blade.jpg

The draw for this weapon is clearly the ability to trigger 2 separate keywords (Bleed and Cleave 2). But the damage suffers the more we try to do. A free damage upgrade like the Shock Emitter gets us closest to decent damage with our keywords; if the keywords are important to you, definitely avoid the Vibrogenerator. If single-target damage is all you care about, avoid this weapon.

Vibro Sword (Tier I, 350 Credits)

Hiers_Vibro_Sword.jpg

A modicum of adaptability, the double-mod slot is where it's at with this weapon. Fully kited out for damage, the Vibrogenrator + Shock Emitter is the highest single-target damage available (a nearly 40% chance of dealing 5D+), but it's very much a one-trick pony.

The Energized Hilt is a very strong play on this weapon, giving us the ability to adapt a very lackluster dice pool (Green-Blue) into whatever we need in the circumstance. The Balanced Hilt is also a great choice, because it goes a long way to helping the Vibro Sword take advantage of its exceptional ability to surge for +2D. The Shock Emitter's +1D bonus is also big. And to round things out, the High-Impact Guard can be very good, although if we have it we probably want either the Energized Hilt (to roll Yellow-Green) or the Balanced Hilt (for the extra surge).

Cost and sustainability are the biggest concerns with this weapon. But properly kited out, this and the Gaffi Stick are the fastest track to good damage that the Rebels have in the early campaign.

Edited by Rythbryt
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Another great breakdown of the weapons. Great job man. I think this speaks volumes as to how powerful a free and consistent pierce-1 is on anything. Especially when combined with more free damage from Vibrogenerator.

 

Gaffi stick is unimpressive at first glance. "It's just a stick with a surge for weaken" my rebel players say. Had they read your articles, they would be singing a different tune. Something akin to finding the BFG in Doom. Especially since one of my players has HORRIBLE luck with the dice. And i mean it. Rolling "1 damage" on red dice for 50%+ of a campaign is just heartbreaking. I'd bet he'd be glad if the worst thing he could roll was 3-damage-pierce-1. It would make his teammates a lot less mad at him too.

 

Lesson learned: You must look beyond what you see. (And beware the stick).

Rafiki.png

Edited by The Lext Level
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I might need to re-read things, but my initial impressions are:

  1. The only Tier I weapon worth buying is the Gaffi Stick
  2. Get the mods

This approach might be suboptimal in the short term, but given you need credits for all group members and there are treats in store at higher tiers, this seems like the best way forward.

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3 hours ago, Master Wang said:

I might need to re-read things, but my initial impressions are:

  1. The only Tier I weapon worth buying is the Gaffi Stick
  2. Get the mods

This approach might be suboptimal in the short term, but given you need credits for all group members and there are treats in store at higher tiers, this seems like the best way forward.

Isn't Vibrosword good too?

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13 minutes ago, Stompburger said:

Isn't Vibrosword good too?

Looking just at buy-in cost, the Gaffi Stick is (to me at least) a "definitely consider" if not a "no-brainer." It has a good dice pool (Red-Yellow) which allows either a damage-focused upgrade path (Vibrogenerator, Shock Emitter) or a surge-ability upgrade path (Balanced Hilt, Shock Emitter for Stun, Balanced Hilt if we want surges for other non-damage things). But the free Pierce 1 is where the real value is, as Lext pointed out. That's what allows the Gaffi to compete with weapons that cost twice as much as it does (or more).

The Vibro Sword is worth considering solely because it has that second upgrade slot. If it only had one, it'd be a relatively poor choice, as its Green-Blue pool would force you either into taking the Balanced Hilt (to trigger +2D more reliably) or the Vibrogenerator (to trigger +2D constantly). Adding the High-Impact Guard, for example, would be largely ineffective, as a Green-Blue pool rarely has the two surges needed to trigger both +2D abilities (especially against white dice). Similarly, adding the Shock Emitter is basically 500 credits to add +1D once per activation (since, again, getting that second surge to trigger Stun is tricky). The Energized Hilt would be solid, although I'd venture a guess that in most cases, it'd be swapping a Red die in for the Blue die, which doesn't really help the Vibro Sword trigger +2D more often (though oddly enough, it does increases its expected damage).

Having that second slot allows more finessing of the Vibro Sword's innate limitations. That said, the second mod slot is also a curse of sorts, because buying into the Vibro Sword basically locks us into buying two mods for it (for all the reasons described above), which means a minimum total cost of 900 credits. That's still on the cheap end of what one would pay for a fully kited out Tier II weapon or an unmodified Tier III weapon (and it will be interesting to see how the Vibro Sword ultimately compares with those higher tier options), but it's also a lot more than what you'd pay for a Gaffi Stick (350 credits more, minimum) that would get similar-if-not-better damage results, and probably more consistent damage results (which is one of the Vibrogenerator's primary advantages). So that's the dilemma.

Resolving that dilemma is largely a matter of taste: does the added flexibility that comes with a double-mod weapon--and the fact that it can hit very high levels of damage--justify the increased cost?

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The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand

Part the Ninth: "The Best Damage 350 Credits Can Buy" (or "Why I learned to stop worrying and love the Vibrogenerator...")
 
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm going to start with a confession...
 
For a long time, I thought the Vibrogenerator was a hunk of junk. And not in the "hidden-awesomeness-that-will-eventually-win-you-over" sense of the Falcon. But in the actual "who would ever want to buy this garbage?" sense that I felt when I first saw a selfie-stick.
 
(Second confession: I have since used a selfie-stick. :P )
 
I think it's fair to say I wasn't alone in my skepticism. Everything about the Vibrogenerator invites challenge. It's among the cheapest upgrades in the game, but it's unavailable till Tier III. It includes the word "vibro" in its name. And it asks us to trade 2 surges for +2 damage in a world where the most sought-after modifications add either surges (Balanced HiltTargeting DisplaySniper Scope) or surge abilities (High-Impact GuardWeighted Head, Shock-EmitterPlasma Cell).
 
1_Vibro_G.jpg
What an odd little bird...
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
 
The result is a weapon that intuitively looks of place, and as a result appears to have been left largely undisturbed by the larger IA community. In preparing for this article, I scoured the internets for commentary on the Vibrogenerator, and was surprised by the lack of information out there. Once we eliminate the posts where it's merely included in a list or discussed tangentially in relation to another topic, there are really only five (relatively brief) discussions of its merits: two of which were favorableone that was neutral, and two that ranged from less-than-favorable to very unfavorable.
 
And yet, if you've been following this series, the Vibrogenerator shows up everywhere once we start compiling data on weapon performance. According to our Starter Weapon and Tier I Weapon deep dives, every Starter and Tier I weapon reaches its maximum damage output with the Vibrogenerator equipped. This is especially true for one-mod weapons, where the static +2D buff from the Vibrogenerator offers an insurmountable improvement in overall damage output over any other mod currently available. And (so far at least) it's also proven true for two-mod weapons (albeit only the Vibro Sword).*
 
----------------------------------------------------------------
          * In a two-mod set-up, the Vibrogenerator is pushed to the brink by the Tier I Vibro Sword with both the High-Impact Guard and the Balanced Hilt equipped, which scores slightly higher than the Vibro Sword with both the Vibrogenerator and Shock Emitter equipped at dealing 1-3D. Both weapons are basically tied at dealing 4D, and the Vibrogenerator-variant pulls ahead on the odds of dealing 5-7D (with nearly a 40% chance at dealing 5 or more damage (39.7%) to the Guard-Hilt's 33.1% odds), which results in a slightly higher overall damage output. When the exhausted mods are removed from the equation (i.e., no Shock Emitter and no Balanced Hilt), the Vibrogenerator's damage dusts the High-Impact Guard's, in large part due to the inability of the Vibro Sword to reliably generate two surges past defense dice with its Green-Blue dice pool (rendering the High-Impact Guard essentially "dead weight" on many attack rolls). But hold that thought, we'll come back to it later...
 
So here's my effort to shed some light on this remarkably unique addition to IA, and what gradually changed me from a Vibrogenerator-skeptic to a Vibrogenerator-lover... at least most of the time. ;)
"It's just two damage..."
 
I'm purposefully starting this discussion by inverting it: instead of talking about the Vibrogenerator's cost (easily the most controversial thing about it), I'm going to start with it's benefit: a static and persistent +2D buff to our attack results that most everyone would agree (in a vacuum, at least) is a tremendous "plus."
 
The reason is two-fold. The first reason is purely selfish: as a writer, I intentionally want to hold back weighing-in on a controversy until late in the piece, to keep as many readers as possible. :ph34r: (It appears I'm all about confessions today...). The second stems from the method of analysis we've been using in this series. I'm a firm believer in efficient play (or at least being aware of efficient plays, even if I ultimately end up choosing a piece of equipment or a weapon for other reasons, like fluff or flavor). Cost is a necessary component to assessing efficiency. But the idea of "cost" necessarily includes an assessment of "value," and to assess a weapon's (or item's) value, we first need to know and understand what it does, as well as what other weapons (and items) do relative to it. Only then can we make judgments about whether a given item "costs" too much (is an inefficient choice) or "costs" too little (is an efficient choice). 
 
So let's start by assessing how valuable the Vibrogenerator's +2D buff actually is.
 
On the one hand, the value of adding two damage to our attack results is basically self-evident: we're adding +2D to our attack results, right? What's left to think about? :rolleyes: But even this simple statement has some pretty significant implications for combat performance.
 
First off, the ability to add +2D to our attack results is, in itself, an extremely rare ability.
 
Not counting hero-specific class abilities (of which there are a few) and a rare crate-draw, if we want to add +2D to our hero's attack results, we have only nine melee weapons/items to choose from:
 
2_Plus_2_D_weapons_and_mods.jpg
If we want to add +2D to a melee weapon's attack results... this is all our generic heroes have to choose from.
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
 
Nine options (eight, if we remove the Vibrogenerator itself) may sound like a lot, but if we look beyond the surface and get into the weeds, we know at least one of them isn't a top-tier weapon (the Tier I Armored Gauntlets, which can't be modified) and another (the Tier I Vibro Sword) takes a lot of investment in mods to become top-tier. We haven't looked at the Tier IIs yet, although the Vibro Knucklers mirror the Armored Gauntlets in their inability to take a mod, which isn't promising. And the Tier II Stun Baton has a dice pool that we know is worse than what the Vibro Sword has when it comes to generating surges (Red-Blue), and just one mod slot. The Tier III Ancient Lightsaber uses an insight check for its dice pool, which means if we want it to have a three-dice pool (and really, for 1000 credits, we definitely do...), it's only situationally available to certain melee heroes; there's also a question about whether it's a surge-efficient weapon (given that surge ability locked behind a double-surge result), but that's a more complicated question... The Tier III Force Pike can add two damage from surges, but needs to spend two separate surges to do it (raising its own surge-efficiency questions). And that Tier II High-Impact Guard looks good on paper, but its effectiveness will vary a lot depending on the dice pool of the weapon we attach it to (Yellow-Green? Yes, please. Red-Blue? Er...).
 
The bottom-line is that of these eight alternatives to the Vibrogenerator, only one of them (the Tier III Electrostaff) appears to be free from serious questions (other than the fact that, you know, it costs 1250 credits...). Granted, that's just from a casual look at the weapons, before we get into the data (which we'll get into). But if we want to add +2D to our attack results, the vast majority of weapons that allow us to do it pose more questions than answers.
 
For what it's worth, ranged weapons are also limited to just nine item cards that can add +2D to attack results. There are no ranged mods that add the ability to surge for +2D, which means that +2D surge ability is limited to only the Tier I DL-44 and E-11, the Tier II A-280 and EE-3, and the Tier III DXR-6Pulse Cannon, and Valken-38 Carbine. The Tier III DLT-19, like the Force Pike, also has two separate abilities to surge for +1D. And then there's the Tier III Disruptor Pistol, which can surge for +3D. Finally, just to round-out the list, Verena's starting Military Blaster can spend two surges for +2D, which means officially it belongs on this list. But if you've ever played with it, you know better... 
 
The point here is that a +2D boost is nothing to sneeze at. If we want this ability natively on a weapon, we have to pay to get it (and usually through the nose, if we want a weapon that will also give us decent odds at triggering it). So that should tell us something about the type of value the Vibrogenerator is bringing to the table, right from the get-go. 
 
Second, using the Vibrogenerator ensures that our weapon will have a minimum damage floor of at least 2D. If you're new to this series and are unfamiliar with what a "damage floor" is, a weapon's damage floor calculates the weapon's best possible attack results assuming its worst possible attack roll. If we're looking for more ways to make our weapon damage more predictable (i.e., more dependent on "design" and "strategy" than on "luck" and "circumstance"), one important way to realize that goal is to improve our weapon's damage floor.
 
Over the course of this series, we've looked at all the damage floors for our Starter and Tier I melee weapons. And we found that those weapons have a surprisingly difficult time getting at least 2 damage out of their worst possible roll. Of the ten weapons that currently comprise our Starter and Tier I weapon pools, only three-and-a-half of them reach that mark. Two of those weapons (the Tier I Armored Gauntlets and the Tier I Vibro Sword) do so because they have the ability to surge for +2D, which is an extremely rare surge ability even for high-tier weapons. This means that the dreaded double-surge roll (Die 1: 1 surge, 0 damage; Die 2: 1 surge, 0 damage) that usually kills most weapons' damage floors gets up to that 2D threshold. The others get there because they combine the guaranteed 1D+ from the Red die with either a static damage bonus (Verena's Fighting Knife) or a surge ability for +1D (Shyla's Duelist's Blade, but only the Red-Green dice variant--hence a "half" credit). All the other weapons--including our beloved Gaffi Stick, without any upgrades, and Shyla's Yellow-Green Duelist's Blade--have a damage floor of 1D because their "worst possible roll" from a damage perspective is to roll double-surges, and they can't redeem both for any more than 1 damage total.
 
The Vibrogenerator fills the same function when it comes to damage floors as the static +1D and Red die do for Verena's Fighting Knife and Shyla's Duelist's Blade, respectively: it adds +2 damage to whatever our worst-case attack roll would be, ensuring that our damage floor will be no lower than 2D, no matter what we roll. For weapons that can't surge for more than +1D, that's an automatic increase to that weapon's damage floor of at least +1D, which is huge (it's the single-largest static damage boost available in the campaign). Even better, that static +2D boost will also combo with any Red dice we have in our attack pool, increasing our damage floor by +1D for each of those dice. When it comes to ramping up our weapon's damage floor, there's no quicker or reliable way to do it than by pairing Red dice with the Vibrogenerator.
 
The result is that our weapon's damage becomes much more stable, and thus more reliable. If you want to see this in action, check out damage chart for the top damage-dealer in this early set of campaign weapons:

Damage_1.jpg

The reason this weapon proves so consistent (70% odds of forcing at least 4 damage past defense dice) is because there's very little margin between its damage ceiling (its "best possible outcome assuming the best possible roll," in this case 7D + Pierce 1) and its damage floor (3D + Pierce 1). More importantly, the vast majority of this Gaffi Stick's rolls are compressed in the 4D-6D range:
 
Gaffi_Vibro_Chart.jpg
 
Of our 36 potential results, only four (two 3D + Pierce 1, and two 7D + Pierce 1) at the margins. These two outcomes combine for just 11.1% of our total possible outcomes, which means this weapon's final attack results will be either 4 damage, 5 damage, or 6 damage nine-out-of-ten times we roll it (88.9%). Couple that with a static Pierce 1, and this weapon is guaranteed to deal damage (probably somewhere between 2 and 4 damage) past defense dice unless the defender rolls a Dodge. That's dependability.
 
Now it's worth noting that when it comes to this level of dependability, there's more at work here than just the Vibrogenerator. If we look at the Gaffi Stick wthout the Vibrogenerator equipped, we'll see the very same distribution of damage results: our best and worst outcomes still account for just 11.1% of our total possible outcomes combined. But the actual volume of those outcomes falls considerably:
 
 
7_Gaffi_no_mod_dice_chart.jpg
 
This is why even a naked Gaffi Stick can be a problem for the IP, especially in the early game against grunt units: there's still an insane number of rolls (24-of-36, or 2-in-3) that will net at least 3D + Pierce 1, which is enough to guarantee at least 1 damage past any defense result except a Dodge. Adding the Vibrogenerator to this impressive chasis doesn't change the actual distribution of these impressive rolls: we still have 2-chances-in-36 of crapping the bed, the same odds of shooting the moon, and the same odds of something in-between. Instead, we dramatically increase the value of crapping the bed or shooting the moon (and everything in-between):  
 
5_Gaffi_Stick_Distribution_chart_2.jpg
 
Without the Vibrogenerator, our damage floor is a paltry 1D + Pierce 1, which is nothing to write home about (and certainly nothing for the IP to write home about...). We have the same odds of rolling 3D as the Vibrogenerator variant has of rolling 5D. And so on.
 
It's worth noting that the Gaffi Stick is a bit of an outlier when it comes to its damage distribution chart. Pairing a Red die with a free Pierce 1 and no damage-dealing surge abilities really compresses the chart. The distribution of results will look different if our weapon doesn't have a Red die in its attack pool, or doesn't have a free Pierce 1 (and certainly if it doesn't have both), or even if the weapon relies on surges to generate damage. But even for those weapons, the Vibrogenerator's consistent damage output tends to shift the damage distribution chart in a way that makes consistent damage output more reliable, if not increasing the weapon's total damage output overall.
 
Third, the Vibrogenerator gives us this buff in the form of natural damage. In IA, our weapons can deal damage in one of two ways: "naturally" (by rolling damage results on attack dice, or modifying our attack results to add additional damage results) or by "surging" (by rolling one or more surge results and then spending those results to add damage to our attack results).
 
The difference between the two methods is that the defender can counter "natural" damage only one way: by rolling (or adding) Blocks into (to) the defense results. Because it's rare for defense dice to have more than one Block result on a single die face (Black has two double-blocks and one triple-block; White has 1 dodge), natural damage is inherently difficult for defense dice to deal with. The problem is compounded by the fact that the attacker almost always rolls more attack dice than the target rolls defense dice. Adding even more natural damage on top of what those 2+ dice actually roll only further stacks the deck against the target. When it comes to "surge" damage, defenders just have more options. The Black die has an Evade (that is effectively blank against natural damage), and the White die has three Evades (plus that Dodge) that it can contribute to the fray.
 
The net result is that if we have the option to add "natural" damage or to surge for the same amount of damage, the best "surge" damage can hope for is to force a draw. Adding the same amount of "natural" damage to our attack results never performs worse against defense dice than adding the same amount of "surge" damage, and against White defense dice in particular, natural damage usually performs better:
 
5_8_Natural_Damage_v_Surge_png.jpg In the above chart, the weapon shown (Tier I Vibro Sword + High-Impact Guard) has two surge abilities, each for +2D. Compare how that surge damage fares compared to a Vibro Sword that relies only on natural damage.
 
When we combine these three things together, I think we have a pretty good idea of the benefit the Vibrogenerator brings to our weapon: a rare ability to add +2D to our damage results, which boosts our damage floor (and positively shifts our damage distributions) using natural damage.
 
So with that out of the way, time for some controversy. :D
:( Rain on the Parade... <_<
 
Now that we've assessed the Vibrogenerator's value, we're equipped to discuss its "cost," which we'll use to refer to what we give up in order to take advantage of the benefits it confers to damage totals, our damage floor, and our weapon's damage consistency. If we take a step-back and assess the Vibrogenerator with a critical eye, we'll see that choosing to equip it saddles us with as many as four separate "costs":
  1. It "costs" us 350 credits. Perhaps less if we have a free starting weapon to "trade-in" (trading in a weapon we purchased is still going to impose a "cost," as we're renouncing half of the credits we initially paid for that weapon or item we traded in). But even under the best-case scenario (four "free" starting weapons traded in for 200 credits), it will cost us at least some credits to bring the Vibrogenerator to the fight. To assess this "cost," we'll need to know what the Vibrogenerator does compared to other mods that cost less, roughly the same, and more.
  2. It "costs" us a mod slot. This isn't insignificant for melee weapons, where only two purchasable weapons (the Tier I Vibro Sword and the Tier II BD-1 Vibro-Ax) have more than one mod slot. (Davith's Shrouded Lightsaber also has two, but that's another bird that deserves its own discussion.) To assess this "cost," we'll need to know how well the Vibrogenerator performs versus all the other mods that are competing for its slot (and for two-slot weapons, all the combinations of mods that would be competing for the Vibrogenerator's spot).
  3. It "costs" us - 2 surges. This isn't the only weapon (or for that matter, the only item or class ability) that requires us to spend two surges. So to assess this cost, we'll want to compare it against other weapons with double-surge abilities, and the value they bring to the table.
  4. Finally, it "costs" us the flexibility to spend 2 surges on other things. To assess this cost, we'll want to compare resolving the Vibrogenerator against resolving two separate surge abilities independently. The most apples-to-apples comparison is to compare damage results, but because heroes spend surges on other things as well (keywords and surge abilities like Recover), we'll want to briefly consider those, too.
Let's consider them in order, shall we?
 
We have to spend 350 credits. As far as "costs" go, this is the easiest one to discuss (and dismiss).
 
When I first started compiling the data for this series, I just assumed the Vibrogenerator cost 500 credits. Conceptually, that made sense to me. After all, it was a Tier III item, and that's the going rate (or close to it) for many Tier III items (Shock EmitterDisruption Cell) as well as items that added the ability to surge for damage (Plasma CellHigh-Impact Guard). So you can imagine my surprise when I actually dug the card out of the box and saw the correct price tag.
 
At just 350 credits, this isn't a bank-breaker. Odds are that if our hero has a melee weapon, we were already willing to fork over 300 credits for something like the Balanced Hilt (or maybe if we were ahead of the curve, like my brother was for the last year, the Extended Haft to give a Reach weapon a free Pierce 1). Taking the Vibrogenerator means an additional payout of just 50 credits, or one crate.
 
That's virtually always doable. Even if our teammates are misers. ;)
 
Is this really the best use of my mod slot? To deal with this question, we have to compare the Vibrogenerator with other things that could fill our mod-slot. Because of the variety available in mod slots, I've grouped them into six categories, so we can compare the Vibrogenerator to each in turn.
 
Group 1: "Accessibility" Mods

8_Mods_Group_1.jpg

Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu

We'll start with what I refer to as "accessibility" mods. These mods have no impact on our attack results--and, indeed, have no impact on anything that the Vibrogenerator impacts, like damage, surges, or even attack pool probabilities. Instead, they increase the circumstances in which we can apply our weapon's attack results, whatever they may be. The Extended Haft on a non-Reach melee weapons falls into this category: our attack results are exactly the same as what we'd have on a naked weapon, but our weapon's attack range is significantly increased. The Tier I Marksman's Barrel falls into this category for ranged weapons.
 
Extending our weapon's threat range gives us real value (especially for a melee weapon), but it's a value that's extremely difficult to directly compare with something like the Vibrogenerator which is strictly impacting our final attack results. To illustrate the difficulty, consider which would you rather have on your Gaffi Stick: the ability to attack a target 1-2 spaces away with ~90% chance of dealing 2D-4D with a Pierce 1, or the ability to attack a target in an adjacent space only but with ~90% chance of dealing 4D-6D with a Pierce 1? It will depend, right? If we have a more mobile hero (like Shyla), the advantages of Reach are less valuable (or, perhaps more accurately, we'll be forced to rely on it less than we might with another hero, between her "free" movement points and her "Mandalorian Whip" special action). If we have a hero who has difficulty moving (like Davith, once he's wounded), having Reach may be the difference between doing any damage in the round and doing none at all.
 
Ultimately, this is the mod category where personal taste and class build will likely make the most difference. That said, because the Vibrogenerator is so (relatively) inexpensive, the cost difference between it and the Extended Haft is basically a wash (50 credits), so there's little efficiency lost (credits-wise, at least) regardless of which option we choose.
Group 2: "Splash" mods

9_Mods_Group_2.jpg

Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu

Second, there are mods that spend surges to add things other than direct damage. The Weighted Head falls into this category (as does the bottom-half of the Shock Emitter), with its ability to add Cleave to our weapon, but doesn't directly impact our damage. To trigger a keyword like Cleave, we first have to deal damage the target, so the Weighted Head works better on a weapon that already has a very high damage floor (or at least high odds of dealing at least 1 damage to the target.
 
Again, this is a hard comparison to make with something like the Vibrogenerator which is very much about increasing the single-target damage of our weapon. "Splash" abilities tend to work best on weapons that usually have surges left over to spend, or are always triggering Recover. Generally, that means three-dice weapons (unless a two-dice weapon has some very strong damage dice and/or damage buffs built into it).
 
Again, this will be largely a matter of personal taste and hero-build. If dealing maximum single-target damage just isn't important to our hero, and we'd much rather have an area-of-effect threat on the board, then the Weighted Head is the obvious tactical choice (at least for any weapon that needs to spend surges to Cleaveand costs just 50 credits more. Likewise, if our goal is to pump out as much consistent single-target damage as possible, the Vibrogenerator is the clear winner. We know from looking at other surge-dependent weapons that rely on surges to generate respectable damage (like the Armored Gauntlets) that single damage suffers significantly when these other abilities are splashed in. The fact that the Vibrogenerator costs slightly less than the Weighted Head (350 credits vs. 400 credits) again doesn't hurt it from an efficiency standpoint.
 
Group 3: "Dice" Mods
 
10_Mods_group_3.jpg
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
 
Finally, some mod comparisons we can actually measure! These mods directly alter the dice in the attack (or defense) pool. We've already seen from Shyla's Duelist's Blade that swapping one die for another can greatly boost our weapon's damage. If that's all we're concerned about, our data deep dives illustrate that while changing our weapon's dice is better than nothing, our melee weapons all performed better with the Vibrogenerator equipped than with the Energized Hilt.
 
The saving grace for the Hilt is that the Vibrogenerator costs an extra 100 credits (and is found in Tier III, instead of Tier II like the Hilt) and also gives us the flexibility to add a Yellow or Green die instead of a Red, if the situation calls for it. On the flip side, the Hilt has to be exhausted to use while the Vibrogenerator has no exhaust penalty. In my book, that level of consistency we get from the Vibrogenerator is worth at least 100 credits, especially on weapons that struggle to deal damage anyway. But I'll admit it's close. ;)
 
Finally, it's worth pointing out that ranged weapons have access to two additional dice modification tricks (adding a Focus die and removing the target's defense die) that might change the calculus if they were available for melee weapons. But sadly, they aren't. :angry:

Group 4: "Combat" Mods

11_Mods_group_4.jpg

Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu

Fourth, there are mods that add specific surges or other combat effects that can have a profound impact on combat, but don't directly add damage. The Extended Haft makes its second appearance here (this time on weapons that have Reach, where it contributes Pierce 1), as well as some staples of campaign weapons (all of which add surges).
 
For some of these mods, the value of the Vibrogenerator is quite clear. Unless our weapon has "splash" surge abilities that we want to have the option of triggering, the +2D from the Vibrogenerator is going to be more impactful in combat than the Pierce 1 from the Extended Haft (especially because that means we're pairing that +2D with Reach to extend our combat range). A Pierce 1 only increases our damage total if the defender rolls 1 or more blocks (which happens a lot, but not all the time). Adding +2D always increases our damage total.
 
For the surge mods, the Vibrogenerator's value depends on the surge abilities we're giving up. If our weapon has decent surge dice to begin with and two or more surge abilities that deal damage, we may end up getting more damage output from adding the surge. But given that only a handful of melee weapons have the ability to surge for 2 or more damage, the Vibrogenerator is usually the best call (again, according to our data deep dives, the Vibrogenerator outperformed the Balanced Hilt when it came to dealing damage past defense dice for all Starter and Tier I weapons), at only a marginally higher cost (50 credits).

Group 5: "Surge" Mods

12_Mods_group_5.jpg
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
 
First off, these are two very good mods. The High-Impact Guard is the only mod in the game that adds that rare +2D surge ability to any (melee weapon): otherwise we're shoehorned into our weapon's base surge abilities, or a class/reward card. Plus it pairs an exhaust-to-use defensive bonus with a static offensive bonus. We pay a premium for this (500 credits), but at least we're getting a lot of flexibility for our investment. The Plasma Cell is actually a hybrid "combat/surge" mod, adding both a static Pierce 1 and the ability to surge for +1D. Again, we're getting a lot out of our high buy-in price (450 credits).
 
More importantly, these mods look the part. The High-Impact Guard's ability to surge for +2D is an improvement over the surge abilities of all but a handful of melee weapons, including some of the more popular brands (Gaffi StickBD-1 Vibro-AxForce Pike). And as we previewed in our discussion of "free" combat effects, the Plasma Cell (with some help) can transform a even relatively innocent-looking weapon into a damage dynamo:

13_Verena_DH_17.jpg

Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu

So how does the Vibrogenerator compare to these "surge" mods, specifically the High-Impact Guard? Well, we've actually encountered this scenario previously, when we did our deep-dive on Shyla's Duelist's Blade. Recall that the Duelist's Blade has two possible dice pools: a default Yellow-Green (surge-heavy) and an optional Red-Green (favoring more raw damage). It also has not one, but two damage-focused surge abilities: a surge for +1D, and a surge for Pierce 1.
 
Now let's suppose we take Shyla's Duelist's Blade and test its damage output for both dice pools (surge-lite Red-Green and surge-heavy Yellow-Green) using first the High-Impact Guard and then the Vibrogenerator

14_Duelists_v_Duelists_graphic.jpg

Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu

Common sense would suggest some tentative conclusions, just by looking at the layout of these weapons. There are two combinations that look promising: we expect the Red-Green + Vibrogenerator to score well on damage--after all, that's a damage floor of 3 damage, and we only hit that damage floor one roll out of every 36 (Red-1D, Green-1 surge), or a paltry 2.8% of the time. Plus, our odds of rolling two surges aren't all that high anyway, so while we might be giving something up with the Vibrogenerator, we're probably only giving up a surge for +1D to claim +2D (which is a win), and at worst a surge for +1D and a surge for Pierce 1 in exchange for 2D (which is at worst a draw, and if the target doesn't roll any blocks, another win).
 
The Yellow-Green dice pool with the Balanced Hilt looks like it has even more upside, as we can gain 3 damage from our two surges (+2D, +1D), plus we can surge for Pierce 1 if it lands a third surge (for a maximum damage swing of 4D if the target rolls a block). Since these are surge-heavy dice, we like our chances there, as well. The Red-Green with the High-Impact Guard looks the most dicey, as we don't have particularly good odds of landing the single surge we need to add +2D (especially against white defense dice), and surging for +3D will be a very rare occurrence. And the Yellow-Green dice pool with the Vibrogenerator looks like a total waste.
 
So how did these weapons actually fare when it came to damage output? Well, here's the damage data for those four weapons, pulled out of our Duelist's Blade deep-dive...

Duelists_Vibro_G_vs_High_Guard.jpg

No surprise, adding the Vibrogenerator to the Red-Green dice pool nets us the most damage. By a landslide. Its odds of getting at least 4 damage past defense dice are a whopping 61.1%, nearly 30 percentage points higher than the next nearest competitor (34.7%). Conceptually, it's not hard to see why: by adding the Vibrogenerator to this weapon, we've radically shifted our damage floor (from 2D--Red: 1 damage, Green: surge for 1 damage) to three (Vibrogenerator: 2 damage, Red: 1 damage, Green: surge for 0 damage). A three damage floor is already fabulous, and it gets even better because the Green die only has only one face that doesn't deal damage (that single surge). So we have only have a 1-in-36 chance of hitting that 3 damage floor, which means we may go an entire mission without seeing it. And if we get just "average" rolls on our dice (2 damage from Red, and 1 damage on Green), we'll still have at least 5 natural damage in our attack results (and only 4 of 12 defense dice faces that will remove more than one damage from the equation).

What is surprising is that the Duelist's Blade also gets more overall damage--and higher damage odds--by adding the Vibrogenerator to its Yellow-Green attack pool than it gets by adding the High-Impact Guard to that same pool. Not only that, but the surge-lite Red-Green dice pool actually gets more damage out of the High-Impact Guard than the surge-heavy Yellow-Green pool does.
 
By as much as 12 percentage points.
 
And that's not a fluke result, either. Every single Starter and Tier I melee weapon does better with the Vibrogenerator equipped than it does with the High-Impact Guard. Regardless of its dice pool.
 
So what gives? :blink:
 
The answer lies in the consistency of the Vibrogenerator's +2 damage buff versus the consistency of rolling even a single surge with any dice pool. The Vibrogenerator, plain and simple, applies +2 damage to our attack results 100% of the time (or more accurately, 100% of the time that we choose to declare we're using the Vibrogenerator before we attack--more on that in a moment). That's a 100% chance of improving our damage floor by +2 (natural) damage.
 
To put this in perspective, consider the following (rhetorical) question: when you attack, do you want to be Focused?
 
Even new IA players intuitively know that rolling an extra die while attacking is nothing but a good thing. That's why three-dice weapons are so coveted (and expensive), and why most of us will pinch pennies when it comes to armor and equipment, but won't hesitate a second when it comes to forking out a thousand credits (or more) for a Tier III weapon.
 
Of course, being Focused (or having a third attack die in our attack pool) doesn't always guarantee we'll defeat the target. But it definitely improve our odds of damaging the target, especially if we roll the double-damage side on that green die. We know from our previous forays into attack and defense dice that we can pretty much guarantee damage on a target that rolls a single defense die if we manage to roll either 3D + Pierce 1 or 4D (unless the target dodges). So if our Focus die gives us +2D (which it will on three of its six faces, or 50% of the time), we only need to land 1-2 damage combined on our other two attack dice (depending on what other goodies we have on our weapon) in order to guarantee at least 1 hit on our target. If we happen to roll better than 1-2 damage, so much the better. 
 
Now imagine if instead of rolling in a Green Focus die, you could instead place that die in your damage pool with the double-damage side up. That's two natural damage, guaranteed. Boom. Deal with it, defense die. That'd be pretty boss, right? It's an immediate improvement on our weapon's damage floor, improves our damage distribution, and gives us even better odds at reaching our damage ceiling.
 
Sound familiar? That's exactly what happens when we use the Vibrogenerator. It's the equivalent of getting a "free" Focus die and setting it to double-damage. In other words, a 100% proc rate. Every single time we attack.
 
Now compare that with the proc rate of scoring a surge for +2D with a Yellow-Green dice pool:

6_2_surge_proc_rate_chart.jpg

While that proc rate (69.5%) is very high, it's not 100%. And the odds of triggering the +2D bonus from the High-Impact Guard are always going to be less than 100% because no weapon-upgrade combo has a 100% chance of getting at least 1 surge past defense dice. The only way we can "guarantee" the High-Impact Guard fires is if our weapon both has the Balanced Hilt (or a ranged equivalent, if it's a blaster) equipped and it's readied (again, exhaust-to-use) and the attacker is also Hidden--and only then if the attacker is also not Weakened... but you get the picture. That's why the Vibrogenerator's damage ends up being the more consistent of the two over the long haul, even with a surge-heavy dice pool.
 
Add the Vibrogenerator's consistently higher damage output (regardless of dice pool) to its reduced buy-in cost (150 fewer credits), and there's no comparison: if you want to maximize your damage output and your weapon has a two dice attack pool and just one mod slot, the Vibrogenerator is both the best choice and the most efficient one.**
 
-----------------------------------------------
** If you read that last sentence and thought to yourself, "That's an awful lot of provisos...", it is. We'll get to those at the end, as we get ready to venture into more complex Tier II and Tier III weapons.
 
Group 6: "Damage" Mods

 

15_Mods_group_6.jpg
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
 
Finally, we have three mods that directly modify our attack results by adding damage to the attack pool (much as a class ability like Fenn's "Trench Fighter" or Vinto's "Merciless" would do). In class decks, these skills are almost always exhausted upon use because their effects are so powerful. The only +2D exception I'm aware of requires that the hero first be wounded (so again, it's not like the hero has this ability available from the very beginning of the mission for the whole mission). And, as we can see here, the weapon mods that replicate this ability generally follow the same pattern.
 
Except for the Vibrogenerator. As far as I'm aware, it's the only mod (or class skill) in the campaign that can improve the attack results of any attack and an unlimited number of attacks by +2D.
 
The trade-off is two-fold: first, there's that - 2 surge cost (which we'll tackle in a minute--really, I promise ;) ). But before we get into that, notice that there's also a timing cost. Or, perhaps more properly, a timing shift. We can use the Vibrogenerator an unlimited number of times each activation, but each time, we have to decide to use it when we declare our attack (which means before we collect our attack dice, roll them, and evaluate their results). The Vibrogenerator isn't the only card that uses this timing trigger (Fenn's "Trench Fighter" does as well), so it's not unique in that regard. But the "declare" timing trigger is somewhat more restrictive than the "while attacking" trigger we find in both the Shock Emitter and Spread Barrel (and, interestingly enough, Vinto's "Merciless"), which allow us to do a full damage calculation before we decide whether to exhaust them.
 
Damage-wise, the Vibrogenerator got higher damage totals and proc rates out of our Starting and Tier I weapons than the Shock Emitter did (and for 150 fewer credits). But the Shock Emitter got a lot closer than any other mod to matching the Vibrogenerator's single-attack damage output because it, like the Vibrogenerator, is also "guaranteed" damage (it's not dependent on rolling any specific result on our attack dice), and netted higher keyword proc rates than the Shock Emitter because its +1D boost was truly "free" (in the sense that we didn't have to spend or renounce any surges or other combat benefits to claim it, beyond exhausting the mod). Plus, it adds the powerful Stun keyword to a weapon, which can have a profound impact on a particular mission scenario.
 
Bottom-line: the Vibrogenerator is the more efficient choice if we want to maximize our damage (better damage results, fewer credit costs, and no exhaust-to-use limitation). But if we need our weapon to spend surges for more than just damage (and especially if we want to apply Stun), the +1D exhaust on the Shock Emitter is a nice bonus that will help improve our damage totals once per activation with guaranteed damage, while also allow us the flexibility to spend surges on Stun, Recover, or whatever else we may have up our sleeve. Is that flexibility worth 150 credits? If our goal is to maximize our single-target damage, not a chance. If our goal is to get very good single-target damage plus have added flexibility, then again, the math is close. ;)
 
But that minus-2? What about that minus-2?!?
 
So now we arrive at the most obvious criticism of the Vibrogenerator: its -2 surge cost. For a long time, I wasn't inclined to consider this upgrade because of that cost, even for weapons that I knew were extremely unlikely to roll 2 surges past defense dice. My protests generally fell into two categories:
  • This weapon already has the ability to surge for +2D (Vibro SwordStun Baton). So why would I go with the Vibrogenerator instead of something like the Balanced Hilt, which could get me the same result (+2D) at a reduced cost (1 surge instead of 2)? (The "surge cost" objection.)
  • know this weapon probably won't roll 2 surges, but it has at least 1 very nice ability on it (Cleave 2 on the BD-1 Vibro-AxStun on the Stun Baton, Pierce 3 or +1D, Cleave 2 on Shu-Yen's Lightsaber), so I'd rather keep my options open so I can do those awesome things sometimes. (The "flexibility" objection.)
First off, there's merit to both objections. As we've talked about repeatedly, not every weapon is designed with maximum damage in mind. Sometimes being able to reliably recover strain (in order to trigger strain-dependent class abilities) is much more important to the attacker than the actual damage dealt. Or our entire build may be centered on inflicting keywords and being a generic pain to the IP, while other teammates do the heavy-lifting when it comes to retiring deployment cards. Or our hero may need to generate surges to trigger other hero-specific abilities. If any of these are our hero's thing, then the -2 surge cost of the Vibrogenerator is a huge deal, and it's definitely not the best choice for what to accomplish. In fact, it's probably worse for that purpose than a naked weapon would be, with no upgrades.
 
What if we're looking to inflict maximum damage out of our weapon? Again, generally there's merit to both objections. We've talked before about how useful it can be to have a "surge-efficient" weapon, so the way we're spending surges is important to building a reliable weapon.  Nor is the benefit of in-combat flexibility (the chief advantage of surge damage and surge abilities generally) something to lightly dismiss. Because we're operating in a campaign full of hidden information (maps, mission objectives, reserve and open groups, etc/), we simply can't calculate for every conceivable combat scenario before we start the campaign. Having a flexible weapon with multiple surge abilities and a surge-friendly dice pool gives us the flexibility to respond to situations on the fly.
 
And yet, our data tells us that despite the validity of these concerns, mathematically the Vibrogenerator is always (without exception) the best mod choice for maximizing the damage we get out of our Starter and Tier I weapons. Which suggested to me, at least, that perhaps my thinking was over-valuing these costs imposed by the Vibrogenerator. So here's what tipped my thinking.
 
When a "- 2 surge" cost isn't really a - 2 surge "cost"...
 
If you've been following this series, you'll recall that I made a big deal about "surge-efficient" weapons back when we were discussing keywords. As a refresher, a "surge-efficient" weapon is a weapon that:
 
(1) has "high" odds of rolling multiple surges;
(2) has multiple surge abilities; and
(3) converts the surges rolled into at least 1 more combat result than the number of surges that were rolled (or at least the same number of combat results as the number of surges rolled, if an Evade is rolled).
 
When we first introduced the topic, I argued that generally-speaking, a surge efficient weapon would outperform a surge inefficient weapon. The logic is fairly straightforward: surge-efficient weapons get the more out of their limited surges than surge-inefficient weapons do. A weapon that can surge for +1D, Bleed gets more out of one surge than a weapon that has separate abilities to surge for +1D or Bleed. A weapon with three separate surge abilities for +1D will get less mileage out of a single surge than a weapon that can surge for +2D and +1D, and even less than one that has a single ability to surge for +3D. And so on.
 
But let's go back to Shyla's Duelist's Blade. That weapon with the Yellow-Green attack pool and the High-Impact Guard looks like a surge-efficient weapon. And it is: it has "high" odds of rolling multiple surges past defense dice (~70% for a single surge, ~33% of rolling two surges, both of which are very good), has multiple surge abilities, and has the ability to get two combat results (+2D) out of a single surge. Conversely, the Red-Green Duelist's Blade with the High-Impact Guard doesn't fit the bill because its odds of rolling multiple surges (5.5%) are very low. And the Vibrogenerator, of course, is the opposite of a "surge efficient" weapon, as its odds of rolling even a single surge (once we apply its - 2 surge modifier to our attack results) are anything but "high" no matter what dice pool we use (a paltry 5.5% for Yellow-Green, and 0% with Red-Green).
 
And yet, all three "surge-inefficient" weapons out-performed the weapon that supposedly is "surge-efficient." Here's that chart again, for ease of reference:

Duelists_Vibro_G_vs_High_Guard.jpg

So again: what gives, Ryth? :wacko:
 
The underlying assumption in the theory of surge efficiency is that surges are a relatively scarce commodity. Mathematically, that's borne out by the data, especially for weapons with just 2 dice in their attack pool. With most dice pools, getting even one surge past defense dice is basically a toss-up (around 50% odds, if that). And even if our dice pool includes a Yellow die, our odds of getting that single surge will still max out at just 75%.
 
6_2_surge_proc_rate_chart.jpg
 
As we've already talked about, those odds--while high--are less than the proc rate that we get with the Vibrogenerator, which has a 100% chance of adding +2D to our attack results: no surges required. In other words, a Vibrogenerator-equipped weapon certainly isn't "surge-efficient." But it's also not "surge-inefficient," because it almost never cares about rolling surges. Instead, it's surge-independent. And surge-independent damage (i.e., "natural" damage that isn't based on rolling a specific result into our attack pool or keeping it in the pool after defense dice are rolled) is the most reliable source of damage available to our heroes.
 
Viewed in this way, it's somewhat misleading to view the Vibrogenerator as imposing a "surge cost." There are three weapons that impose an acutal 2 surge cost:

16_double_surge_weapons.jpg

Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu

Each of these weapons has an ability that will cost us 2 surges from our attack pool to trigger. If we don't spend two surges, we can't trigger the ability. Plain and simple. (For what it's worth, at least one of these weapons is definitely not a "surge-efficient" weapon under the criteria we laid out above.)
 
But that's not how the Vibrogenerator functions. When we trigger the Vibrogenerator, we're not agreeing to "spend" 2 surges to add 2 damage. Rather, we're agreeing to "renounce" up to 2 surges we might roll, in order to guarantee +2 damage regardless of what we (and equally as important, the target) actually roll(s).
 
How much of an "opportunity" is an "unlikely" opportunity?
 
So that begs the question: just how many surges are we actually renouncing with the Vibrogenerator? And what additional damage, keywords, Recovers, or other combat effects will we miss out on if we renounce those surges? This, I think, is the core objection to taking the Vibrogenerator. Assuming again that the purpose of our weapon is to maximize damage (and again, if that's not our goal, we don't want the Vibrogenerator), this objection is the easiest one to assess mathematically. And the math itself is not particularly complicated. All we need is our weapon's attack pool and list of surge abilities.
 
First, we want to figure out how many "surges" from that weapon we would plan to spend anyway to add +2D to our attack results. We can start by eliminating all of our non-moddable weapons (Verena's Fighting Knife and the Tier I Vibro Knife and Armored Gauntlets), for which all of this would be a pointless exercise.
 
We can also eliminate the four weapons that just can't add +2D to their attack results (plus two more that we'll encounter in Tier II), no matter how many surges they roll. For these weapons, the Vibrogenerator's +2D results are more than the base weapon would get if it were willing to spend an infinite number of surges on damage. 
17_infinite_surge_weapons.jpg
The damage return from the Vibrogenerator is better than what we'd get from these weapons if we spent way more than 2 surges...
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
Then there are weapons that allow us to spend multiple surges on damage-centric abilities (usually +1D, but sometimes Pierce if the target has rolled at least 1 block). For these weapons, assuming again that we were already going to surge to prioritize damage, the Vibrogenerator is contributing the same damage swing (2 damage) in the form of a +2D buff. To get that same benefit with any of these weapons, we'd need to actually spend 2 surges (that we rolled or added into our attack pool). So tapping the Vibrogenerator actually doesn't "cost" us any more surges than we were already willing to commit to damage (and actually saves us the not-inconsiderable trouble of rolling those two surges past defense dice).
 
18_2_surge_weapons.jpg
The damage return from the Vibrogenerator is exactly what we'd get*** from these weapons if we spent 2 surges on damage...
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
 
---------------------------------------
*** The outlier is Shu-Yen's Lightsaber, which doesn't fit neatly into any of these categories of weapons. On the one hand, in order to score 2+ combat results that include damage, it needs to spend at least 2 surges. But depending on the result of the target's defense die, it may achieve a combat swing of 2 or more damage with a single surge if the target rolls at least 2 blocks (allowing the Lightsaber to surge for Pierce 3). Given the scarcity of those defense results (a 1-in-2 chance against a Black die, and a 0-in-6 chance against a White), most of the time Shu-Yen's lightsaber will fall in this class of weapons, because it will need at least 2 surges to achieve a damage swing of 2 damage or more. But since there's a potential exception, I thought I'd flag it. :)
 
Finally, there are five weapons (and a mod) that have the ability to surge for +2D. These, of course, are quite rare. But even for these rare weapons, the most the Vibrogenerator would ever "cost" us is just 1 surge, not 2. Because we were always going to spend 1 surge anyway (whenever we had surges to spend) to gain +2D.
 
19_1_surge_weapons.jpg
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
 
That leads us to our first important conclusion about the Vibrogenerator's opportunity cost: for every melee weapon, if our goal is to maximize damage, we're always going to have to give up at least 1 surge to increase our damage results by +2D (and for most weapon/mod combos, it will be 2). That means the most surges the Vibrogenerator will ever "cost" us is 1 surge, not 2. And that's before we account for defense dice (especially the white), which may force us to give up that second surge anyway, based on circumstances entirely beyond our control. 
 
The second stage in the analysis is to determine the odds that our weapon's pool will produce the number of surges we were already willing to give up to gain +2D, and compare it with the Vibrogenerator's 100% proc rate for +2D. Again, that math is not difficult to compute:
6_2_surge_proc_rate_chart.jpg 
 
For those weapons that have single-surge results for +1D, there's literally no contest. Even a weapon with a Yellow-Yellow dice pool will generate those two surges we need less than 50% of the time (45.7% in our 2000 trials), which is far less than 100%. And even for weapons where we're only committing a single surge to get +2D, we're still looking at a proc rate for that single surge of 70% or less, even with a surge-friendly Yellow-Green dice pool (69.5% of our 2000 trials). Again, that's just not the same level of dependability that we get with the Vibrogenerator.
 
If we are dealing with one of those weapons that have a surge ability for +2D, the third and final piece is to measure just how likely we are to give up that second surge if we take the Vibrogenerator. Once again, that calculation is straight-forward. We know that for weapons with just two dice in their attack pool, even a Yellow-Green melee weapon has roughly a 1-in-3 chance (32.2% of our 2000 trials) of getting that second surge past defense dice; which means two out of every three times we use the Vibrogenerator on a weapon with that dice pool, we're only going to renounce 1 (or 0) surge. If it's 1 surge, it's exactly what we were willing to to pay anyway for +2D. And if it's 0 surges (which happened in 30.5% of our 2000 trials, even with a Yellow-Green dice pool), we're getting that +2D literally for free. Put differently, we have roughly the same chance of paying an "extra" surge with the Vibrogenerator with a Yellow-Green weapon (32.2%) as we do of getting +2D for free with the Vibrogenerator on a Yellow-Green Weapon (30.5%). The bottom-line is that relying on the surge gives us probable damage with a possible boon; the Vibrogenerator gives us consistent damage with a possible boon or loss.
 
And of course, for weapons with built-in +2D abilities like the Vibro Sword and Stun Baton, the odds of getting that second surge past defense dice are waaaaaaaay less than 1-in-3. The Green-Blue Vibrosword scored a second surge past defense dice in just 14.7% of our 2000 trials (just slightly better than 1-in-7 rolls), and the Red-Blue Stun Baton managed it in just 3.7% of our 2000 trials (or slightly less than 1-in-25 rolls). When we combine this incredibly small "risk" with the fact that the Vibrogenerator markedly increases the odds that both weapons will actually get to add +2D (a 45.4% proc rate and a 32.3% proc rate to 100%), it's clear that the Vibrogenerator's reward is much greater than what it's likely to "cost" us.
 
There when you want it... absent when you don't
 
Two final points on the Vibrogenerator, in case you're still not convinced.
 
First, I'm convinced that for basically all melee weapons (at least two-dice weapons), that -2 surge "cost" is worth far less than the benefit that comes by using the Vibrogenerator. But if you're not convinced, and you'd still prefer to have the option of resolving other surge abilities with your weapon, it's worth remembering that equipping the Vibrogenerator on our weapon doesn't "box us in" to using it each and every time we attack. The decision to use the Vibrogenerator (and thus renounce those two surges) is made whenever we declare an attack. That's an in-the-moment, flexible trigger. So if we're in one of those inevitable situations where we need a Stun or need to Recover or need to spend a surge on something other than damage or where dealing the +2D is overkill because the target is almost dead, all we need to do is choose not to use the Vibrogenerator. And poof, it's gone. Like it never existed.
 
But the converse is also true: because we trigger the Vibrogenerator by declaring we're going to use it, it's flexible enough to also be available to us every time we want to use it. Again, there's no "exhaust-to-use" requirement, which sets it miles ahead of other mods like the Balanced Hilt or Shock Emitter, and even the impressive Energized Hilt That makes the already-impressive consistency we get from the Vibrogenerator even better.

So even if I accept all this is true... what's the point of that weird weapon you've been teasing for months?

Oh, you mean this one?

Number_8.jpg

Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu

I confess, I had actually written a complete draft of this before I figured out where to place this discussion (and even tossed around the idea of punting it to a separate "Blood Bowl-like" series that pits a "conventional" weapon against a "weird" weapon in a to-the-death maths-match... which we may eventually do since we're poised to add more double-mod weapons in the imminent future). But given that I'd really like to move on to Tier II, here's the skinny on this most improbable weapon (which, if you looked at our Starter and Tier I wrap-up, you'll recall scored the 8th-best results among all weapon+mod combos when it came to dealing damage).

We already discussed how adding the Vibrogenerator always increases our damage floor by 2 natural damage. But that doesn't guarantee that our weapon's actual damage floor will increase by 2 damage. Let me explain.

Suppose I take a vanilla Vibro Sword. If I roll its unmodified dice pool, my worst possible roll--from the perspective of dealing maximum damage--is the same roll it is for every dice pool that doesn't include a Red die: a single-surge, coupled with a single-surge. (Is there a common term in the community for that roll, like "X-man" for Dodge?) For most weapons that get that roll, the Vibrogenerator will actually increase its damage floor by at least 1 damage (again, most weapons have only one surge ability that can add +1D). But the Vibro Sword is better equipped than most weapons to handle that roll, because it can spend 1 surge for +2D, giving a vanilla Vibro Sword a damage floor of 2 (surge) damage.

Now suppose I add the Vibrogenerator to that same Vibro Sword, and again roll double-surges. What happens? Well, my damage floor remains at 2 damage. I'm getting 2 damage from the Vibrogenerator, but have renounced both surges from my attack roll. The only difference is that my damage floor now consists of two natural damage, instead of two surge damage. Generally, we would expect that to be an advantage in itself, because natural damage is generally more difficult for defense dice to deal with than surge damage. But in this case, our Vibro Sword has two surges (which is enough to get at least 1 surge past the Evade on a defense die) and just one surge ability that it can resolve for damage (that single ability for +2D), so there's no functional difference between how these attack results fare against the various defense dice. In other words, we haven't actually increased our weapon's damage floor just by adding the Vibrogenerator to it.

On the other hand, we can actually increase our Vibro Sword's damage floor by adding the Balanced Hilt to the Vibro Sword + Vibrogenerator combo. If we roll the same double-surge result with that weapon, the Vibrogenerator still gives us +2 (natural) damage, and we still renounce the two surges we rolled. But now, we can tap the Balanced Hilt to add a third surge (which we can resolve, assuming the defender did not roll an Evade) and add +2D. That gives us a damage total of 4 damage, instead of 2.

It's worth noting that doing this will increase our Vibro Sword's damage floor, but not by 2. Instead, what this does is it changes the "worst possible roll" we could roll on the Vibro Sword. Because we can net 4D from this roll, we look to see whether there's any other possible roll on the Vibro Sword that could net us a lower damage result. And lo and behold, there is (actually, there's two):

20_Number_Eight_dice_chart.jpg

In this scenario, we would still have to renounce the 2 surges because of the Vibrogenerator, which means we can't tap the Balanced Hilt (or, more appropriately, while we could tap it, we couldn't resolve its surge). But we would combine that 2D from the Vibrogenerator with the 1D from the blue die, for a new damage floor of 3D (or a 1D increase to our damage floor). In other words, we've manipulated our weapon in a way that rotates out our original worst-possible roll for a "better" worst-possible roll (that nets us higher damage). The final result is that by pairing the Vibrogenerator with the Balanced Hilt on the Vibro Sword, we get very consistent damage and also eliminate all but two of our potential 3D (damage floor) rolls.

It's worth noting that the Vibrogenerator isn't the only weapon that does this. Adding the High-Impact Guard will also shift our "worst possible roll" from that double-surge (which is also worth 4D) to the single-damage/single-surge result (also worth 3D), while leaving that second mod slot free. Hmmmm... maybe we should "Blood Bowl" these two... ;)

That said, there are only six possible rolls where even have an opportunity to take advantage of the Balanced Hilt (marked with the Yellow border), as that's the number of rolls the Vibro Sword will land two surges (and again, that's before defense dice are factored in), so this is very much insurance against getting that "poor" damage floor roll, and pushing our weapon's overall dependability up. That said, the total damage output is best-case scenario on-par with what we'd get out of that 550 credit Gaffi Stick (with the Vibrogenerator), at double the cost, so there's still an efficiency issue to be worked out. But despite how it looks, this weapon isn't an unreasonable or inconsistent choice for our hero (even if it ultimately proves to not be an efficient one).

So where do we go from here?
 
Based on the data we've looked at so far, the math seems to be conclusive: when it comes to Starter and Tier I weapons, as of the date of this writing, the Vibrogenerator is the single-best upgrade for increasing our weapon's consistent damage output, and the benefit we gain from using it exceeds-to-explodes the "cost" of renouncing 2 surges.
 
But since we haven't looked at all of the weapons available to us, there are some areas where our current conclusions might be challenged down the road. Let's take quick stock of those questions, as we get ready to move into Tier II and Tier III weapons:
  • First off, we haven't considered any weapons that can surge to pierce for more than 1, or weapons with he ability to gain more than 2D from a single surge. There are at least two melee weapons with surges for higher pierce values, so it will be interesting to see if a surge ability that contributes more than 2 damage or pierce to our combat results will end up providing more consistent damage than a +2D with a 100% proc rate.
  • While the Vibrogenerator is the undisputed damage king of mods for one-slot weapons, our review of the Vibrosword suggests that for weapons with two mod slots, the Balanced-Hilt + High-Impact Guard combo looms large (at least for one attack per activation), at least if we're pairing the High-Impact Guard with at least 1 additional surge ability that nets us +2D or more.
  • Equally interesting will be the impact of adding new dice pools to existing abilities. That Vibrosword + Balanced Hilt/High-Impact Guard surge-damage combo comes razor close to edging out the surge-independent Vibrogenerator/Shock-Emitter combo as it is, and that's with a poor dice pool for generating surges (even with the Balanced Hilt, the Vibrosword still has a less than 50% chance of getting two surges past defense dice, making the High-Impact Guard dead-weight half the time). If we can pair those two promising +2D abilities with a weapon that has even a marginally better dice pool for generating surges, the closeness of the data suggests that might be enough to swing the math (at least for one attack per activation).
  • Finally, it's worth noting we've looked so far only at weapons that roll two dice in their dice pool. No matter what die we add, adding another die will increase the probability of rolling two or more surges, which will affect the impact of renouncing surges with the Vibrogenerator. So it will be interesting to see if the Vibrogrenerator's dramatic increase to damage odds for two dice weapons carries over when we add a third attack die. Additionally, adding a Green Focus die will have a similar effect on our two-dice weapons (once per activation), as will class abilities like Davith's "Falling Leaf" (2xp), which adds a surge-friendly dice to our weapon's attack pool (again, once per activation). So that's another caveat to consider.
So as we venture forth, we'll try to keep an open mind, and see which of these findings (and our general combat principles) carry over, as we begin to explore more nuanced and complex weapons. On to Tier II!
 
21_Tier_II_part_1.jpg
The winds, they be a-changin'...
Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu
 
 
Inevitable post-posting edits:wacko:
  • Missed some formatting... of course.
Edited by Rythbryt
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The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand

Part the Tenth: "A Cut Above... Maybe?" in which we kick off Tier II melee weapons in rapid(er) fashion...
 
So after a long string of articles that tried to pair weapon data with basic combat principles, surge theory, and mod combos, followed by two monstrously lengthy wrap-up/conglomeration pieces, I think we're finally in a position where we can ingest some of these items in bite-size chunks. :rolleyes: Or at least chunks closer in size to this guy...
 
Yeah, we'll see how long this lasts. :D
 
On the bright side, our first Tier II weapon (YAY!) is the relatively unassuming Vibro Knucklers. Familiar dice pool, no mod slots, low buy-in price. Should be fairly straight-forward, right?
 
Vibro_K_photo.jpg
Photo Credit: cards.boardwars.eu
 
So let's jump in.
 
The Combat Skinny: A(nother) Flexible, Conflicted Weapon
 
Having spent an inordinate amount of time with Yellow-Green dice, we can already make some educated assumptions about how this weapon will fare in combat:
  • It's natural damage output will be on the low side;
  • We can expect to roll 1 surge on average past defense dice; and
  • It's damage, keyword, or surge ability output will probably be largely influenced on our chosen surge hierarchy.
That said, we have some additional advantages we haven't seen before on other Yellow-Green weapons:
  • For starters, we have the ability to surge for +2 damage. This is huge. Since we don't have any mod slots or a Red die in our attack pool, we already suspected this was going to be a surge-dependent weapon for damage. So the ability to convert 1 surge into 2 damage gives us a major leg-up in that department.
  • Plus we have a surge for Pierce 2. That's a potential 4-damage swing (+2D, Pierce 2) if we can roll 2 surges past defense dice (depending on whether the target rolls 0, 1, or 2 blocks). We've already seen from weapons like Davith's Heirloom Dagger and Shyla's Duelist's Blade that a damage 1-Pierce 1 combo can make a difference when attacking; now we've doubled the value of those surge abilities.
  • Speaking of doubling, we also get a free Bleed whenever we trigger the Pierce 2 (so long as we deal at least 1 damage past defense dice of course... but that Pierce 2 should help with that). Davith's Hierloom Dagger did very well in proccing keywords with a Bleed paired with a Pierce 1, so again, we look to be able to improve here over that performance.
  • Lastly, we have a Cleave 2, which doubles the Cleave 1 we saw on the Tier I Armored Gauntlets. In other words, everything seems ramped-up from what we saw last Tier.
So how does this weapon perform in combat against defense dice? Well, as we expected, the performance depends on how we prioritize our surge abilities:
 
Vibro_K_3_category_spread.jpg
 
As far as raw damage output goes, we get a pretty good return from a damage hierarchy (+2D, Pierce 2+Bleed, Cleave 2, Recover), with a nearly 90% chance of dealing at least 1 damage past defense dice, a 78% chance of dealing at least 2 damage, and a 52% chance of dealing at least 3 damage, paired with a roughly 32% chance of triggering 1 keyword and a 6% chance of firing off both. Our odds of dealing at least 1 damage remain above 80% (barely) if we switch to a keyword hierarchy (Pierce 2+Bleed, Cleave 2, +2D, Recover), with a 53% chance of dealing 2 or more damage past defense dice, and a 25% chance of getting both keywords (Bleed and Cleave 2) to proc. And if we prioritize that surge (Recover, +2D, Pierce 2+Bleed, Cleave 2), we have a 70% chance of landing one, with a 71% chance of dealing at least 1 damage. 
 
None of this is particularly earth-shattering. On the one hand, the Vibro Knucklers definitely perform better than their other non-mod melee counterparts--the damage output is slightly better than what we saw out of the Armored Gauntlets, but with much better keyword proc rates: 
 
Vibro_K_non_mod_dmg_comp.jpg
 
Similarly, the Vibro Knucklers perform quite well when compared to our other naked Starter and Tier I weapons when it comes to dealing damage--again with very good keyword proc rates--thanks to the fact that it gets a very surge-efficient +2D, Pierce 2, and Bleed out of just 2 surges:
 
Vibro_Ks_dmg_comp_full.jpg
 
Having said that, the damage output of this weapon quickly falls behind once we start investing credits in mods for other weapons. In a strict damage-hierarchy, the Vibro Knucklers registered only the 78th best combat stats, well-behind the damage-dealing specialists at the top of Tier I (all of which could register up to 6 damage, and most of which could deal up to 7 damage):
 
Vibro_K_top_10_damage_comp.jpg
 
It's worth bearing in mind that the Vibro Knucklers' damage stats are entirely sustainable because there's no exhaust-to-use parts here, so that will help close the gap some between it and some of these weapons that rely on exhaust-mods for their high-end damage (assuming our hero attacks more than once per activation). But even so, that gap isn't going to make up the more than 60 slots between the Vibro Knucklers and the top of the damage-dealing food-chain. 
 
The Vibro Knucklers also performed very well when we prioritize those two keywords (Pierce 2+Bleed, Cleave 2). They registered the best damage output among our three non-moddable weapons that could trigger keywords (Verena's Fighting Knife can't) and the best keyword proc rate for both the primary keyword (Bleed) and the secondary keyword (Cleave 2), triggering both 25% of the time:
 
Vibro_K_non_mod_keyw_comp.jpg
 
What's more, while the Vibro Knucklers clearly fell behind our other moddable weapons when it came to dealing damage, they remained a surprisingly-strong Keyword weapon even when we threw them into the mix with modded equipment:
 
Vibro_K_top_10_keyword_comp.jpg
 
Although the Vibro Knucklers' damage lags behind our top-10 when prioritizing keywords, the damage is close to our former #10 entrant, Gaakrhan's Vibro-Ax with the Balanced Hilt equipped (80.5% vs. 82.7% for 1D+). Speaking of the Balanced Hilt, it's worth pointing out that because the Vibro Knucklers can't take a mod, their odds of landing the surge needed to trigger a keyword is well under 80% (58.2%). Having said that, the Vibro Knucklers nevertheless scored well in our rubric because of their ability to trigger 2 keywords 25% of the time (much like the Vibro Blade). And although its keyword proc rates are lower than what we find on the Vibro Blade, its ability to deal at least 1 damage past defense dice is 10 percentage points better (80.5% vs. 70.6%).

But there's an important caveat: the data above assumes that the "first keyword" we proc with the Vibro Knucklers is that surge-efficient Pierce 2+Bleed, and not the very tempting Cleave 2. If we prioritize the Cleave 2 instead, our damage and proc rate charts look like this:
 
Vibro_K_3_category_spread_with_two_keywords.jpg
 
The most obvious eyesore is this configuration's 1D+ score, which hovers near the 60% mark (which, to give it some perspective, is the second-worst damage odds among all weapons we've looked at previously, coming in just three percentage points ahead of what Diala's naked Plasteel Staff registered in a keyword-focused hierarchy). Damage is down across the board here (and for obvious reasons--we're giving up as much as a 2-damage swing by opting for the Cleave 2 over the Pierce 2). An unfortunate casualty is the proc rate for the Cleave 2 itself, which comes in at just 46.7% (or less than half the time), versus the 58.2% chance we have of landing the Bleed if we prioritize the Pierce 2. Theoretically that makes sense, because our Cleave 2 proc rate is capped at no more than 66.7% given our damage odds, minus our chance of not being able to roll a surge past defense dice. Ironically, our proc-rate for the Pierce 2 actually goes up slightly (25.4% to 26.1%) if we prioritize the Cleave, though that amount is small enough that it's probably just a variance in our 2000 trials, since it's within our margin of error. 
 
Finally, the Yellow-Green dice pool makes this a decent weapon for triggering surge abilities. The damage output again suffers, but it's on-par with what we'd expect from the Armored Gauntlets (actually slightly better, though since the difference is within our margin of error, it's unclear whether that's due to the change from Pierce 1 to Pierce 2--which we know triggered in 6.4% of our trials--because the dice rolled hot, or some combination of the two). Plus we still have an outside chance at getting that bleed on a target:
 
Vibro_K_non_mod_surge_comp.jpg
 
The Vibro Knucklers don't take home any awards when it comes to triggering surge abilities (the top-10 performances are all solidly held by weapons with the Balanced Hilt upgrade), but it has the flexibility to fill that role if we need it. And the fact that the Vibro Knucklers are pretty surge-efficient means we have a good chance of getting some additional "oomph" out of our attack rolls, beyond that Recover or Hide. That flexibility and versatility is a plus if we're looking for a cheap weapon option.
 
Worth the Time of Day?
 
So are the Vibro Knucklers worth the investment? As always, it will depend on our hero's role in the group, and whether we value an efficient/flexible weapon with a fair bit of combat variance, or whether we want a more specialized/burst weapon built for more predictable combat results.
 
First off, if we're looking for a very cheap weapon that can perform multiple roles in a group (credits are tight, we have a hero who we don't want to be useless in a scrape but whose primary purpose isn't combat, etc.), then the Vibro Knucklers are a solid jump over most starter weapons. Only Shyla's Duelist's Blade (and only then in its Red-Green variant form) holds a candle to it when it comes to dealing damage (although other weapons, like Gaarkhan's Vibro-Ax can surpass it with help from mods). While it will never be a top-damage dealer, it can post a very respectable damage ceiling of 5 Damage, Pierce 2, Bleed (G-DD, Y-D~~), and a decent damage floor of 3D (Y-D, G-~) and can milk a terrifying 2 Damage, Pierce 2, Bleed out of just two surges: all of which is exceptional for a non-moddable weapon. Plus the fact that it can't be modded helps keep its price low throughout the campaign. For just 50 credits more than the Tier I Armored Gauntlets, it's clearly the superior choice, so long as our role in our group involves more than just Stunning our foes. :P
 
Beyond its role as a cheap weapon-slot filler, the most obvious value for the Vibro Knucklers is as a keyword trigger, since it has the singular distinction of being the only weapon we've looked at so far that finishes in the top 10 in keywords without any mods. There's that obvious caveat, of course (the Keyword we'll be triggering most reliably is the Bleed if we want to also ensure we get that 1D+ on the target that we need to trigger keywords), which means if we're getting this weapon primarily for the Cleave 2, we're probably going to find it lackluster. But if we want to fluster the IP with a constant cascade of Bleeds that eat up imperial actions, this is an incredibly cheap platform for that. ;) 
 
Finally, let's not forget that while kiting out boss weapons with high-powered mods may be the sexy choice, many of our heroes have tricks up their sleeves that can inflate the damage of even unmoddable weapons and make them competitive with Tier II or even Tier III weapons. We'll explore some of these specific (no-credit) upgrade paths more in-depth in the future. 
 
For now, we'll close the book on the Vibro Knucklers (in record time, I might add). Who's next?
 
Stun_Baton.jpg
Photo Credit: cards.boardwars.eu

Inevitable post-posting edits: In this case, I forgot to post the spot for future edits... :mellow:

Edited by Rythbryt
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The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand

Part the Eleventh: "Stunning and Cleaving and Chopping and Hacking and Squishing and Stomping and Carving and Slashing and..." in which we ran out of space for a by-line...
 
So after a long family vacation in the tropics, we're back to rolling dice! Today we've got not one, but TWO very fun Tier IIs, each with a built-in strain-to-use ability for added spice:
 
Stun_Baton_Card.jpg    Double_V_Card.jpg
(Photo credit: cards.boardwars.eu)
 
Here are the quick-hits:
  • Both weapons can deal top-10 damage with a little help from the king of damage mods... and a couple of others, too. :P
  • Keyword procs aren't these weapons' strong suits, but both weapons do have very desirable keywords (Stun and Cleave 2). With proper mod selection, we can proc these pretty reliably while still getting pretty good damage output.
  • We can surge to recover or trigger other abilities with these weapons in a pinch, but if we're looking to actively recover or surge with our weapon, we probably want to look elsewhere.
  • Combined with other items or hero abilities, both of these weapons can range from extremely disruptive to downright terrifying.
Curious? Read on.
 
Not your grandma's walking stick
 
Stun_Baton_Card.jpg
(Photo credit: cards.boardwars.eu)
 
At first glance, there's a lot to like here. For starters, we have a melee weapon with a Red die, and as we know from the Gaffi Stick, we like red dice. As an added advantage over the Gaffi Stick, we also have two highly-desirable surge abilities--the rare ability to add +2D and a situationally-useful Stun that can be a game-changer depending on the campaign mission or round. Both of these are improvements over Weakened. There's also a mod slot which would allow us to do any number of things. And then, if we're feeling exceptionally chippy, we can also apply Weakened to our target at the cost of a strain, just for kicks.
 
That said, there are some causes for concern. While we like the red die, the blue die is usually a disappointed for a melee weapon. We'd much prefer a Green (more on that in a moment), and given the surge abilities available to us, the Yellow from the Gaffi Stick looks very appealing as well. But we do have that mod slot, though, so changing our dice pool (for one attack per activation, at least) is at least on the table. So is adding the Balanced Hilt for an extra surge. The other concern is cost. At 500 credits, we're paying 150 more credits than for our two-mod Vibrosword and 300 credits more than the Gaffi Stick (and just 50 total credits less than the dreadfully efficient Gaffi Stick + Vibrogenerator combo). With that level of investment, we should expect to see a significant upgrade over at least unmodified Tier I items.
 
With those general observations in place, we're on to the maths, starting with raw damage output:
 
Stun_Baton_Comp_Chart_1.jpg
 
In its unmodified form, we have decent raw damage output. In our 2000 trials, this weapon dealt 1 or more damage better than 85% of the time past defense dice, 2 or more damage in three-of-four trials (75.1%), and 3 damage or better every other attack (53.0%). This damage is on-par with the performance of our top two unmodified Tier I weapons, the Gaffi Stick (88.0%, 77.0%, 52.0%) and Armored Gauntlets (88.5%, 77.5%, 51.0%). It outperforms the Vibrosword, especially at the 3D+ threshold (87.5%, 71.5%, 42.5%), and is also on-par with the Tier II Vibro Knucklers when it comes to dealing raw damage (89.8%, 78.1%, 52.1%), with the added advantage of a mod slot. Our Keyword and Surge procs remain low, evne when we prioritize them (peaking with a Surge chance of approximately 32%), but our damage remains high throughout (80% or better odds at dealing 1D+ even in non-damage hierarchies, which suggests this weapon is less surge-dependent than others we've seen). In other words, we have a decent starting platform for damage-dealing upgrades and mods, and some room for improvement when it comes to keywords and surge abilities.
 
Now let's see what happens when we start sprucing it up, starting (as always) with sexy damage:
 
Stun_Baton_Dmg_Chart_2.jpg

Some observations:

  • The High-Impact Guard doesn't like this mod. Intuitively, this makes sense: a Red-Blue dice pool is low on surges anyway, and has just a 3.7% chance of rolling 2 surges past a defense die. The Stun Baton already has 1 surge ability for +2D, so adding a second to this dice pool is a low-probability play. Definitely not worth an extra 500 credit investment.
  • The Energized Hilt also doesn't perform particularly well. Replacing our Red-Blue dice pool with Red-Yellow didn't result in any noticeable impact to our damage output (it actually lodged slight reductions from 1-3D+ with slight increases at 4-6D+, though all of these are within our ~3% margin of error), though it did result in a significant increase in our Keyword proc chance (a Red-Yellow pool rolls 2+ surges past defense dice approximately 16% of the time, which isn't great on its own but is much better than 3.7%). Red-Green did bump our damage up across the board, with noticeable gains at 2D+ (80.5% vs. 75.1%) and 3D+ (60.6% vs. 53.0%), and the Red-Red pool was very impressive as well in the 3-5D+ range (65.4%, 43.5%, 20.7%), albeit with a plummeting surge chance (1.7% keyword proc).
  • From there, there's noticeable separation between these mods and our top-3. The Vibrogenerator solidly leads the pack, with a 60.3% chance at 4D+ and a 34.2% chance of 5D+ past defense dice (or slightly better than 1-in-3 tries). This isn't quite Gaffi Stick + Vibrogenerator territory, but it's good enough for our 5th highest damage score to date, with damage roughly on-par with the more expensive Vibrosword + Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter combo (79.5% of 3D+, 60.5% of 4D+, 31.7% of 5D+).
  • Speaking of the Shock Emitter, that upgrade narrowly beat out the Balanced Hilt for top honors when it comes to raw damage (although, again, the difference falls within our margin of error), and was good enough to place 9th overall in damage hierarchies. The Balanced Hilt variant fell just outside our top 10 damage dealers (11th), with a much higher Keyword proc rate over the Shock Emitter variant (although to be fair, it still managed to proc in just 31.3% of our 2000 tests, so it's keyword proc isn't "great").

Speaking of keywords:

Stun_Baton_Keyword_Chart_3.jpg
 
When we prioritize keywords, the Balanced Hilt surges to the front of the pack. The Energized Hilt's Red-Yellow and Red-Green variants fair alright here as well, though they're clearly second-tier behind the Balanced Hilt. The Shock Emitter suffers from a degree of redundancy (as it adds a surge for Stun to a weapon that can already surge for Stun), although it's worth noting that it has by far the best mix of keyword proc and damage output (30.4% keyword proc, 62.7% odds of 3D+). The High-Impact Guard is, again, not worth a 500 credit investment. The Vibrogenerator can't surge for Keywords (at least not without outside help from a class card, another hero, Focus die, etc), so it doesn't make the chart. 
 
Stun_Baton_Surge_Chart_4.jpg
 
The results are basically identical when we prioritize surges, with the sole exception that the Shock Emitter and High-Impact Guard switch places. Both are basically tied in surge proc (a difference of one-tenth of a percent, well within our margin of error), and while the Shock Emitter once again leads the pack in damage output that fact doesn't help it push ahead (since dealing damage isn't a condition of triggering surges as it is for triggering keywords). And although our weapon's damage output definitely suffers when we prioritize surges, it's worth noting that even our worst performer (the Red-Yellow dice pool with the Energized Hilt) will still deal 3D+ past a defense die roughly 1 try in 3, and has a 77.1% chance of forcing at least 1 damage through, thanks to its Red die.
 
All said, if we're going to take the Stun Baton, the Balanced Hilt appears to be the best overall upgrade for it. It's damage is just outside our top-10 overall, it has a pretty good chance of delivering decent damage and Stun to a target once per activation, and we can use it to trigger other surge abilities (or recover strain) in a pinch if we have to. The overall price tag (800 credits) is an investment, but it's a cheaper weapon option than a similarly-performing Vibrosword. For raw damage, the Vibrogenerator remains the best choice. 
 
A Whirling Dervish in a Surprising Package
 
Double_V_Card.jpg
(Photo credit: cards.boardwars.eu)
 
I really wanted this to be an awesome weapon. And it can be... it's just not awesome for everybody. :P Let me explain.
 
First things first, we have a fantastic melee dice pool (Red-Green). Extremely dependable damage (35 of our possible 36 dice rolls will land at least 2 damage, with a max chance of 5 damage). We also have a very attractive surge for Cleave 2 and a mod slot. But of course, the big attraction is that strain ability that allows the bearer to deal 1 damage to each adjacent hostile figure after resolving an attack. 
 
Unfortunately, much like the Vibrosword, that strain ability also poses a problem. A Red-Green dice pool isn't exactly the worst for generating surges, but it isn't far from the bottom (41.1% chance of 1 surge past defense dice, 5.5% for 2 surges). Because we don't have a surge-friendly dice pool, our odds of sustainably triggering that strain ability is limited by our endurance--especially if we're going to take advantage of Cleave 2 (and really, there's no reason not to). An upgrade like Balanced Hilt could help, and in theory so could the Energized Hilt -- although if we go that route, we're left with the choice of replacing our Green die for a Yellow (which is an upgrade, but not nearly as much of an upgrade as if we were upgrading a Blue or Red die) or our Red die with something else (which will do a number on our damage output). Neither is remarkably attractive.
 
The other glaring issue with this weapon is its lack of surge for damage. The surge for Pierce 1 is fine, but a surge for +1D would have been more reliable, since a Pierce is wasted if the target doesn't roll blocks on defense dice. We certainly don't have the +2D we saw on the Stun Baton.
 
As a result, we end up with a waepon that's something of a mixed bag:
 
Double_V_Comp_Chart_1.jpg
 
The first thing worth pointing out is that there isn't a whole lot of difference between this weapon and the Stun Baton when it comes to its math profile. The damage output on this naked weapon is actually slightly lower than what we saw on the Stun Baton. Having the Red-Green pairing gives us a better than 50% chance at dealing 3D+ past defense dice, which is nothing to sneeze at. But the lack of surge abilities for damage limits this weapon's range of damage outcomes. And while our Keyword and Surge proc rates are slightly higher than what we saw with the Stun Baton, they still cap out low (at 42.6% instead of 31.7%). The result is a raw weapon that's pretty "meh."
 
So let's dig a little deeper into those surprising damage results, shall we?
 
Double_V_Dmg_Chart_2.jpg
 
So what do we see?
  • First off, we have several options to mess up this weapon's damage output through injudicious use of the Energized Hilt upgrade. Swapping the Red die out, even for the second-best damage-dealing die in the game (Green-Green) resulted in a very noticeable drop in damage output in the 2-4D+ range (14 percentage points at 2D+, a whopping 20 percentage points at 3D+) for what ended up being a very poor keyword proc chance (13.9%). So we probably don't want to go that direction. The Red-Yellow pool offers a slightly better keyword proc (15.8%), which is still nothing to celebrate. Damage once again dropped across the board, but especially in the 2-4D+ range). So if we want to increase our damage output, those dice swaps aren't the way to go. Conversely, the Red-Red pool was more than twice as effective as the Green-Green pool in dealing 3D+ past defense dice (65.8% vs. 30.1%), and ten times more effective at forcing 4D+ thru (40.0% vs. 4.1%), albeit with an almost non-existent chance of Cleaving afterwards (2.1%). So if we're taking the Energized Hilt on this weapon, that's probably the play.
  • The Balanced Hilt also performed much lower than it did with the Stun Baton, mostly because it doesn't have surges for damage. The Pierce helps some, but not as much as the +2D surge ability from the High-Impact Guard, which deals roughly the same amount of damage but with a higher damage ceiling. The Hilt does give  us the best chance in the group to trigger Cleave 2 and still has very good damage (dealing 2D+ in 84.3% of our tests), so it's not a "bad" choice, but it's also doesn't transform the Double Vibrosword into a top damage dealer like it did for the Stun Baton.
  • In the end, there's once again clear separation at the top. The Shock Emitter's free +1D on exhaust results in a roughly 10 percentage point gain in our 2-4D+ bands over the Red-Red dice pool, although its surge for Stun likely isn't doing anything (5.6% proc rate in our 2000 trials) and its exhaust penalty means that level of damage isn't sustainable in multiple attacks each activation. With those limitations in mind, the cheaper Vibrogenerator is by far the best at dealing top-end damage in the 4-6D+ range. That said, the damage from our Double Vibrosword + Vibrogenerator combo isn't appreciably higher than what we saw with our Stun Baton + Vibrogenerator combo: the Double Vibrosword barely displaced the Stun Baton for 5th place, displacing the Stun Baton to 6th overall damage. In terms of raw damage dealt, paying an extra 150 credits for the Double-Vibrosword over the Stun Baton probably isn't worth it, unless we value the Double Vibrosword's strain ability as 150 credits better than the Stun Baton's (which we might, depending on our hero). And at 1000 credits total, this combo is nearly double what we'd pay to put the Vibrogenerator on the Gaffi Stick (550 credits).
Double_V_Keyword_Chart_3.jpg
 
Things revert more to form when we get to keyword procs. The Balanced Hilt is back up, triggering Cleave 2 77.2% of the time with 50% odds of also dealing 3D+ past our primary target's defense die. The total is at least 5 total damage out of a single attack (with the possibility for 7 or more damage depending on how many hostile figures are adjacent to us after the attack resolves and what our current fatigue level is), which isn't shabby at all. The Balanced Hilt also has an outside chance at recovering 1, which is something. The Energized Hilt is our next best bet (with the Red-Yellow and Green-Green dice pools), though their keyword proc rates drop off by more than 30 percentage points (43.9% and 41.5% respectively) and the damage is abysmal (26.7% and 18.3%, respectively, of pushing 3D+ past defense dice). The Shock Emitter again logs our highest damage results with a semi-respectable Cleave 2 chance (37%), followed closely by the Red-Red Energized Hilt with a very poor Cleave 2 chance (17%).
 
Double_V_Surge_Chart_4.jpg
 
The Green die in the Double Vibrosword's pool makes it a better surge weapon than the Stun Baton. Damage with the Balanced Hilt is again respectable (50.2% chance of forcing 3D+ past defense dice), and the Green-Green Energized Hilt pool recovered strain 60% of the time (though its damage remained abysmal. The two most expensive upgrades--the Shock Emitter and High-Impact Guard--didn't give us any surge advantage over our naked Double Vibrosword (though both resulted in a damage increase).
 
So what do we think?
 
The Stun Baton's place is somewhat hard to find. On the one hand, its damage is fine (and, with the Vibrogenerator, Balanced Hilt, or Shock Emitter can actually become quite good), but at 500 credits (plus mod slot), it's expensive. Its surge abilities (Stun and +2D) are fantastic, but its dice pool is limiting. And while a strain to Weaken is better than nothing, it doesn't affect damage (unlike the Vibrosword's strain to Pierce 1) and it's nowhere near as devastating as the ability we get on the Double Vibrosword (hold that thought). So what sort of hero might consider investing in this weapon?
 
For starters, given the fact that this weapon (1) already has a Red die in its attack pool and (2) already has very desirable surge abilities, we could consider this weapon for any hero who can perform a free attack (or two... or more...) each activation. If damage is our theme, we have a pretty good damage floor to work from (3D), and if our job is to make the IP's job miserable, we have the option to Stun and/or Weaken multiple targets in a single activation. Stun weapons typically struggle with getting damage on their target (essential for inflicting the condition). This weapon doesn't. If the Rebels ever get a hero who can inflict other conditions (like Bleed) on targets with class abilities or items, or who gains benefits (like Recover, Focus, movement points, etc.) from doing so, this weapon could become an incredible asset to that build.
 
Heroes who can add dice to a melee weapon (through Focus or other class abilities) are also strong candidates. Diala fits both criteria in a heavily damage-focused build:
 
Stun_Baton_Diala.jpg
A dangerous, damage-focused Diala build (11xp). Add the Stun Baton for some nasty post-combat surprise(s).
(Photo credit: cards.boardwars.eu)
 
If Diala can't land Shu Yen's Lightsaber, the Stun Baton isn't a bad substitute. It doesn't have Cleave 2 or Pierce 3, both of which are losses, but a surge for +2D isn't insignificant. And with a Focus from "Battle Meditation" (2xp), there's a good chance that Diala can keep the Stun which (along with Reach) is the only redeeming quality on her otherwise lackluster Plasteel Staff. Especially if she can reroll 1 die per attack with "Force Adept" (1xp). The option to Weaken is a nice little knife-twist at close range, and if combined with "Snap Kick" (3xp) can result in a nasty post-combat hangover for a hostile figure (or two). If we opt for a ranged boost through "Dancing Weapon" (4xp) instead of "Way of the Sarlacc" (4xp), our Stun Baton has a minimum range of 4, and a maximum of 12, and more than that if we're Focused. Strain generation remains an issue, but if we're going to be resting anyway to hand out focuses like candy, it's an issue we can work around.
 
That said, it's hard to see why a hero like Diala would take the Stun Baton over the Double Vibrosword, which has both Cleave 2 and a significantly better strain-to-use ability that becomes insanely strong when paired with a class ability like "Way of the Sarlacc." Verena posts a similar quandry. Although she can't pull hostile figures or self-focus like Diala can, a Red-Green weapon with Cleave 2 and splash damage makes it that much easier to trigger her bread and butter skill ("Close Quarters"). Add to this that she can move mid-activation to set up the next strike, can improve her endurance to raise her strain cap, and can remove strain at the end of her activation with the "Iron Hand" reward, and Verena seems particularly well-suited to leverage the Double Vibrosword's strengths.
 
Double_V_Verena.jpg
Cleave 2 + Splash damage? Yes, please...
(Photo Credit: cards.boardwars.eu)
 
One more, just for fun. My local playgroup is about halfway into the Jabba's Realm campaign, and my brother who is playing Gaarkhan was initially planning to take the BD-1 Vibro-Ax, but decided at the last minute to take the Double Vibrosword. I was skeptical at first, but he won us over last mission when his 4xp Gaarkhan charged into a densely-packed hallway and single-handedly destroyed an entire squad of healthy Elite Stormtroopers and nearly an entire squad of regular Trandos (1 had 3 damage at the start, the other had none) in a single activation. His cards at the time? 
 
Double_V_Gaarkhan.jpg
Well this looks... underwhelming...
(Photo Credit: cards.boardwars.eu)
 
Not exactly the stuff dreams are made of, right? Well, here's how it unfolded:
  • Activate Gaarkhan.
  • Action 1a: Charge 4 spaces (into the midst of the hostiles, ignoring movement penalties because Gaarkhan can move spaces).
  • Inflict 1 damage each on 5 adjacent targets with "Rampage."
    • EStormtrooper 1: 1 dmg
    • EStormtrooper 2: 1 dmg
    • EStormtrooper 3: 1 dmg
    • Trando 1: 4 dmg
    • Trando 2: 1 dmg
  • Action 1b: Finish "Charge" by attacking EStormtrooper 1 with Double Vibrosword.
  • Resolve Attack: 3D to target, 1 Surge for Cleave 2 into EStormtrooper 2. 
    • EStormtrooper 1: 4 dmg
    • EStormtrooper 2: 3 dmg
    • EStormtrooper 3: 1 dmg
    • Trando 1: 4 dmg
    • Trando 2: 1 dmg
  • Trigger Double-Vibrosword's strain ability.
    • EStormtrooper 1: Killed
    • EStormtrooper 2: 4 dmg
    • EStormtrooper 3: 2 dmg
    • Trando 1: 5 dmg
    • Trando 2: 2 dmg
  • Action 2: Attack EStormtrooper 3, using Energized Hilt to replace Green Die with Yellow.
  • Resolve Attack: 3D to target, 1 Surge for Cleave 2 into Trando 2:
    • EStormtrooper 1: Killed
    • EStormtrooper 2: 4 dmg
    • EStormtrooper 3: Killed
    • Trando 1: 5 dmg
    • Trando 2: 4 dmg
  • Trigger Double-Vibrosword's strain ability:
    • EStormtrooper 1: Killed
    • EStormtrooper 2: Killed
    • EStormtrooper 3: Killed
    • Trando 1: Killed
    • Trando 2: 5 dmg
For those of you keeping score, that's 13 IP threat essentially down the tube. And it wasn't like these were great rolls, either. He dealt 3 damage past defense dice both times (the naked Double Vibrosword punches 3 damage or more past defense dice 50% of the time, so this wasn't beyond the pale for a small sample size). His dice pools both had decent chances at rolling 1 surge (41.1% on the Red-Green, 54.9% on the Red-Yellow), plus he was attacking Black dice so the odds of an the target rolling an Evade were very low. The point is that the mathematics of this outcome are entirely conceivable, even if the table-top outcome wasn't. And that's just the beginning of the rabbit hole. Just 4xp with a Tier II weapon and mod. In other words, as early as mission 2 of a short campaign, mission 4 in a long campaign. Imagine the possibilities...
 
Speaking of possibilities, it's another dual-mod weapon!
 
BD-1_card.jpg
 
For next time. ;)
 
Inevitable post-posting edits:

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Posted (edited)

I truly hope you intend to collate this and submit it as a thesis for a doctorate in statistics, because dang...

Edited by ThatJakeGuy
Gosh darn frikafrakking profanity filter
Rythbryt and Quigman like this

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The Galaxy's Fate in my Hand

Part the Twelfth: "I can still reach you..." in which we begin the beginning of the end of Tier II...

We'll kick off the finale of Tier II with the trusty BD-1 Vibro Ax (600 credits).

BD-1_card.jpg

Chances are that if you've played an IA campaign as a melee character (and especially if you've been playing for a while) that you've tried this weapon before. There's a lot to like on the surface, and the numbers suggest there's a lot beneath the surface as well. If you can't afford to dig deeply under the surface, here are some quick takeaways:

  • Pro: Great attack dice.
  • Con: Bad surge dice.
  • Pro: Great surge abilities.
  • Con: Bad surge dice.
  • Pro: Reach.
  • Con: Cost.
  • Pro: 2 mod slots.
  • Con: Cost.

Okeydokey. :D

Getting our Bearings...

BD-1_card.jpg

[Photo Credit: FFG and cards.boardwars.eu]

So right from the get-go, there's a lot in common with the Double Vibrosword we unpacked last time. We already know a Red-Green dice pool gives us very reliable damage (11 of our 12 dice sides have 1 or more damage, and 8 of 12 have 2 or more damage), and a decent chance of a surge, though landing 2 surges is a bit of along shot--especially if we're trying to trigger a keyword.
 
Dice_surge_chart_Page_1.jpg
 
Dice_surge_chart_Page_2.jpg
 
Speaking of surges and keywords, we have some very nice choices here. The Cleave 2 grabs the headlines, of course, and for good reason: This is only the fourth weapon we've seen with that ability, and two of them (the Tier I Armored Gauntlets and Tier II Vibro Knucklers) had limited upside due to their lack of an upgrade slot. This weapon has two slots, which gives it a nice leg-up on those weapons as well as our Tier II Double Vibrosword, which costs 50 more credits.
 
Also in contrast to the Double Vibrosword, we lose a surge for Pierce 2 and instead gain a surge for +1D and Bleed. The +1D will be especially nice against white dice (where a Pierce 2 is virtually always wasted, and even a Pierce 1 won't do anything in 1-in-3 fights), and the surge-efficient Bleed is a nice extra that we can tack onto our damage to mess with the IP. We've seen previous weapons, like Davith's Heirloom Dagger and the Tier II Vibro Knucklers fare very well with these surge-efficient Keyword abilities, so that's something to keep an eye on as we progress.
 
Last but not least, this weapon has Reach. Unfortunately, the only weapon with Reach that we've spent any significant time with is Diala's Plasteel Staff, which isn't a great test subject for measuring the power of this ability (because it sucks :P ). Although it doesn't directly impact our damage calculations on its own, having a melee weapon with Reach does significantly increase our weapon's threat range (from just 8 spaces to as many as 24) while also reducing the number of spaces that our melee hero may need to move to set up an Attack (or use a keyword like Cleave). Since we're unlikely to trigger Recover much with this weapon, any strain we can save by not having to move will be a huge boon. Finally, because this weapon already has Reach, it has a very nice synergy with the Tier I Extended Haft. If equipped on the BD-1, that upgrade will give this ax a free, automatic Pierce 1. We've already seen that Red die-Pierce 1 combo transform the menial-looking Gaffi Stick into our unchallenged damage champion. Here, we have the possibility of replicating that combo, only on a weapon that has Reach and a Green die instead of a Yellow. Both of these look like powerful upgrades over what the Gaffi offers. 
 
So with all that excitement out of the way, let's see how the numbers fare:

BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_01.jpg

We're off to a solid start here. Not great, but solid. Our 1D+ odds are at-or-over 80%, which means we can count on dealing at least 1 damage with this weapon no matter how we allocate surges. Our 2D+ if we prioritize damage or keywords is just a shade lower than 75%, which isn't bad, and our 3D+ when we prioritize damage or keywords is just below 50%. From there, we have an outside chance at dealing 4D+, and if our target rolls an Evade on the Black or a Blank or Evade on the White and we roll all natural damage, we've got a shot at forcing 5 damage through. We've also got a 38.4% chance at proccing one of our keywords (Bleed--more on that in a minute) and a 5.5% chance of proccing our favorite Cleave 2. If we prioritize Keywords over damage, the results are... essentially the same. Actually, with the exception of our odds of scoring 4D+, all of those odds are eerily similar. Wait a minute...
 
So you caught me. The Damage and Keyword hierarchies replicated on these charts are exactly the same (for a naked BD-1, at least). We start by prioritizing the +1D and Bleed, then the Cleave 2, and finally a surge for Recover. When we get to the Surge hierarchy, we prioritize the Recover first, then the +1D and Bleed, and finally the Cleave 2. I did this because the +1D and Bleed surge is the more efficient of the two, netting us increased damage and a Keyword at the same time.
 
We could, of course, reverse the order for our Keyword hierarchy (prioritizing the far more seductive Cleave 2), but doing so has the following effect on our damage totals:
 
BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_02.jpg
 
This isn't new, of course. Every weapon we've studied so far suffers this damage loss when it shifts surges to Keywords instead of damage, except for the handful of surge-efficient weapons that pair damage and a keyword in the same surge ability. If we go with the BD-1's more surge-efficient keyword (Bleed), we can avoid that loss. If we prioritize the Cleave 2 instead, our damage suffers across the board (by as much as 10 percentage points in the 2D band, and by about six percentage points in the 1D, 3D, and 4D bands).
 
Additionally, notice that even when we prioritize it, our overall chance of triggering the Cleave 2 tops out around 33% (32.7% in our tests), because we need to both roll 1 surge and force at least 1 damage past defense dice without spending that surge in order to trigger the keyword. In contrast, our odds of landing both the Surge and the Bleed top out higher (at or around 40%): the surge because it's not dependent on anything but getting 1 surge past defense dice, and the Bleed because we get an additional damage out of that surge ability on the BD-1 (making it that much more difficult for the target to block all incoming damage, and thus thwart our Bleed).
 
Since we're largely concerned about damage to target, I'll be prioritizing the Bleed keyword over the Cleave 2 in the charts that follow. That doesn't mean we must opt for the +1D and Bleed over the Cleave 2 every time, but it does mean that if we opt for the Cleave 2, our probable damage is likely to be lower than what's reflected in these charts (though perhaps not as drastically as what we've seen here in the naked BD-1). If I change up the keyword hierarchy at all, I'll let you know. ;)
 
With that caveat out of the way, let's take a step back and see how our BD-1 fares when compared to our other Tier II weapons, and then with some mods attached. We'll start with damage, then keywords and finally surges.
 
Red dice and free stuff still rock...
 
Let's start by comparing the damage output of our naked BD-1 with that of our other Tier II weapons, just to get a sense of what we're working with:
 
BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_03.jpg
 
So the first thing to note is that the four Tier II weapons, in their unmodified forms, actually aren't all that different in terms of damage dealt. The Vibro Knucklers is the only weapon without a Red die in its pool, but thanks to strong surge abilities (+2D, Pierce 2 and Bleed) and a dice pool that can land 2 surges relatively consistently, it manages to keep pace (at the start). The Stun Baton actually ends up with the best odds at high-end damage (4D+ and 5D+), as well as being the only weapon that can land six damage (albeit at a lowly 0.7% clip, and only against a White blank). That's because it has a possibility of scoring 4D off of a Red die with surge or three damage off of a Blue die with surge, thanks to its ability to surge for +2D. The Double Vibrosword and BD-1 don't have that ability (at least not natively), so their Red and Green dice remain slightly behind the pace, but still reliable.
 
Where the Vibro Knucklers and BD-1 separate themselves from the others are their chance at proccing a keyword. Ironically, the Red-Green BD-1 is more than six percentage points better than the more surge-friendly Yellow-Green on the Vibro Knucklers. This is more than our ~3% margin of error, so it's unlikely "hot dice" are the culprit here. And in fact, they're not. What's happening is that the BD-1's first surge is going towards that +1D and Bleed surge ability, since that's what maximizes its damage. A Red-Green dice pool generally rolls a single surge past a defense die 41.1% of the time, so the BD-1's 38.4% proc rate is in line with that (adjusted slightly down, since there's roughly 13% of rolls that don't land the requisite 1D+ to trigger the Bleed keyword, largely due to the White die's propensity to Dodge). In contrast, the Vibro Knuckler's first surge is going (in this hierarchy) to +2D. So the 31.9% keyword proc rate for the Vibro Knucklers is actually the number of times it procced a second surge (for Pierce 2 and Bleed). Again, this is in-line with the general odds of a Yellow-Green die rolling a second surge past defense dice, adjusted slightly down for the ~13% chance that the attack didn't land 1D+ on the target. Both weapons land a Cleave 2 just under 6% of the time in this configuration (for the BD-1, that required spending a second surge; for the Vibro Knucklers, a third).
 
Now let's spruce this thing up with some mods. Fortunately for our heroes (but unfortunately for us... or at least me... :P), this weapon's dual-mod slots allow for (as of this writing) a total of 31 different (legal) mod combinations. No really, here they are: 
  1. Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard
  2. Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter
  3. Balanced Hilt + Vibrogenerator
  4. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow)
  5. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue)
  6. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Green)
  7. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow)
  8. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue)
  9. Extended Haft + High-Impact Guard
  10. Extended Haft + Shock Emitter
  11. Extended Haft + Vibrogenerator
  12. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow)
  13. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue)
  14. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Green)
  15. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow)
  16. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue)
  17. High-Impact Guard + Vibrogenerator
  18. High-Impact Guard + Weighted Head
  19. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow)
  20. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue)
  21. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Green)
  22. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow)
  23. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue)
  24. Shock Emitter + Vibrogenerator
  25. Shock Emitter + Weighted Head
  26. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow)
  27. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue)
  28. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Green)
  29. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow)
  30. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue)
  31. Vibrogenerator + Weighted Head
We can also eliminate five combinations--some of them quite tantalizing--that, unfortunately, aren't legal:
  1. Balanced Hilt + Extended Haft (both Balance mods)
  2. Balanced Hilt + Weighted Head (both Balance mods) 
  3. Extended Haft + Weighted Head (both Balance mods)
  4. High-Impact Guard + Shock Emitter (both Impact mods) 
  5. Vibrogenerator + Energized Hilt (both Energy mods)
So first off... gaaaaaah
 
Even with these illegal combinations removed, we still have thirty-one different mod combos to test, each with 3 potential surge hierarchies (damage, keyword, surge). I went ahead and tested them all just to be thorough, but 31 combos present way too many data points to put into a single, meaningful chart. So what we'll do instead is start with just one mod on our BD-1, and see if we can isolate the most promising ones that might benefit from a complementary pairing. Here's how things shook out on the damage front:
 
BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_06.jpg
 
Some quick hits:
  • First off, you may have noticed that just like the Double Vibrosword, we can actually set our damage back through injudicious use of the Tier II Energized Hilt mod. Swapping our Red die for a Green results in absolutely abysmal damage--just a 30% chance at 3D+, down from nearly 50% (48.2%), and with just a 10% increase in keyword proc chance (48.4% vs. 38.4%). We do increase our chance to Cleave 2 from 5.5% to 16.5%, which isn't insignificant, but swapping our Green Die for a Red-Yellow pool nets us almost the same Cleave 2 chance (15.7% vs. 16.5%, within our margin of error) and with a less precipitous damage drop-off. But both are quite a bit behind what the naked BD-1 would have given us in terms of damage dealt to our primary target. The Green-Blue variant lags even further behind, and while the Green-Yellow pool logs our second-best Bleed, Cleave 2, and Surge proc rates, it's damage is extremely low thanks to the scarcity of damage-dealing surge abilities on the naked BD-1.
  • Alternatively, if we like Cleave but are willing to settle for just a Cleave 1, we'd be much better off with the Tier II Weighted Head (400 credits), which will let us Cleave 1 once per activation without spending a surge (by exhausting the mod--thus its color differentiation in our chart). The fact that this mod's Cleave 1 isn't surge-dependent means its odds of triggering are the same as our odds of dealing 1D+, which in this case is a hefty 86.8%. One additional benefit is that the Weighted Head also gives us two other keywords we could use (two Cleave 1s) if we happen to roll multiple surges on our Red and Green dice, though opting for one of those over out Bleed keyword will reduce our damage output, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where we'd opt for a Cleave 1 over a Cleave 2... but hey, options are options, right? :ph34r: Note finally that the Weighted Head is exhaust-to-use, so the 86.9% proc rate for Cleave 1 is only once per activation. Bummer.
  • If we want the full Cleave 2, the Tier I Balanced Hilt once again proves to be the superior option. It also results in a fairly significant increase to damage over the naked BD-1 once we get to the 2-5D+ range. Of course, this mod also has to be exhausted to use it, so if we attack twice during our activation, one of them will be working with the naked BD-1's odds. But a 37.6% chance at Cleave 2 is by far the best on this chart.
  • I was very surprised to see the High-Impact Guard perform so well. Typically, this upgrade doesn't fare well with low-surge dice, but this is the first mod combination to get above the 80% threshold for 2D+ (80.4%). While the Green die won't land a surge all the time, it lands it reliably enough that the extra damage from High-Impact Guard over the BD-1's native surge ability for +1D bumps up our damage total across the board. The drawback, of course, is that if we're spending our single surge on the surge-efficient +2D from the High-Impact Guard, we don't have that surge to spend on our surge-efficient +1D and Bleed. And that is, in fact, what happens here. The result is our worst keyword proc rate by far. In fact, it's 14 percentage points worse than the Red-Red dice pool from the Energized Hilt. In other words, if the High-Impact Guard is the only mod we put on the BD-1, it will give us middling-damage and becomes a very one-dimensional weapon. I'm not sure that's the best use of 500 credits...
  • As we just mentioned, the Red-Red Energized Hilt offers basically the same damage as the High-Impact Guard, but with better keyword odds (again, ironically). Getting that Cleave 2 off is going to be a rare event (2.0%), but the damage outlook is bright. The trade-off is that we do have to exhaust the Energized Hilt to perform the die switch, while the High-Impact Guard's surge ability is a static effect. I'm not sure that's worth paying double the cost in credits, but it's something to consider.
  • In the end, though, just as we saw with the Stun Baton and Double Vibrosword, there are three clear frontrunners. We anticipated that the synergy between Reach and the Tier I Extended Haft (to pair the BD-1's Red die with a free Pierce 1) looked strong, and sure enough, that combo slides easily into the top 3, with an 85% chance of dealing 2D+ past defense dice, and a nearly 70% chance (69.5%) of getting 3. That's more than 20 percentage points better than the naked BD-1--all attributable to adding a free Pierce 1. Once again, we have statistical confirmation that a free Pierce is reeeeeeeaaaaally good, especially when paired with a Red die.
  • The Tier III Shock Emitter does essentially the same thing, but to the offense instead of the defense. Rather than stripping a block, the Shock Emitter adds a damage to our total, which gives our BD-1 nearly a 50% chance (48.0%) of getting 4 damage past defense dice. Our Bleed proc chance remains high (40.7%), and we still have that outside shot at Cleave 2 (5.3%). Once again, we have to exhaust this mod to use it, so if it's exhausted, we're reverting back to the odds of a naked BD-1. But it's a very powerful one-shot.
  • Tops once again is the Vibrogenerator. Much like the Gaffi Stick, we've managed to pair the dependable damage of the Red die (at least 2D on 5 of its 6 faces) with a bonus of 2 more natural damage, plus the natural damage on a Green die (1 or more damage on 5 of 6 faces). The result is an 80% chance of forcing 3 damage past defense dice, and a chance at forcing 5 damage past defense dice in 1-of-3 attacks (37.0%).
The obvious drawback of the Vibrogenerator variant is that it transforms the BD-1 into a one-trick pony (we literally cannot surge), even more so than the High-Impact Guard. That said, it's a very good one trick pony, ranking fourth overall in total damage dealt among all the weapon+mod combinations we've looked at so far:
 
BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_07.jpg
 
At 1000 credits, it's damage is on-par with our second-highest damage dealer (the 1200 credit Vibro Sword with the Vibrogenerator and Shock Emitter), and slightly behind our third-best (the Vibro sword again, this time with the High-Impact Guard and Balanced Hilt) when it comes to dealing 2-4D, but slightly better at dealing 5-7D. It's worth mentioning that both Vibro Swords rely on a mod that has to be exhausted to use (the Shock Emitter and Balanced Hilt, respectively), which gives the consistency edge to our BD-1. Of course, none of these weapons touch our Gaffi Stick, which is still the only weapon to lodge 70% odds or better at dealing 4D+ past defense dice), so there's ground to make up. Still, the BD-1 does have another mod slot available (plus Reach to dramatically improve its threat range), so the future looks pretty bright.
 
Bring on the Blood, Sweat, and Tears (but mostly the Blood!)
 
When it came to raw damage dealt, there wasn't much separation between the BD-1 and the other Tier IIs. That's not the case when it comes to triggering Keywords:
 
BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_04.jpg
 
Although the Vibro Knucklers has by far the best odds of triggering a keyword (Bleed) and a second keyword (Cleave 2), it's damage in this hierarchy is quite a bit lower than when it prioritized the +2D. The same is true for the Stun Baton and the Double Vibrosword, which hover along with the Vibro Knucklers right around 80% odds at dealing 1D+. Those two weapons fare better in the 2-4D range thanks to their Red die, but their keyword proc rates are quite a bit lower (26% for the Stun Baton and 33.1% for the Double Vibrosword, compared to 58.2% for the Vibro Knucklers).
 
The BD-1 gives us by far the best balance between the 2. Although its 38.3% proc rate is still 20 percentage points behind the Vibro Knucklers, its damage is significantly better--the BD-1 has virtually the same odds of pushing 4 damage past defense dice (21.4%) as the Vibro Knucklers has of pushing 3 (22.5%). We've talked before about the surge-efficiency of the +1D and Bleed ability on the BD-1, and it's paying dividends here.
 
Slapping a mod on the BD-1 generally improves damage or keyword proc rate, and occasionally both:
 
BD-1_Charts_Bleed_mod.jpg
 
Note that in this hierarchy (+1D and Bleed, then a damage upgrade [the +2D from High-Impact Guard], then Cleave 2, then Recover), our worst option (the Red-Red from the Energized Hilt) still procced a Bleed approximately 20% of the time (18.7%) and had an outside chance at a Cleave 2 (2.0%) while forcing 2D+ past defense dice 80% of the time. The High-Impact Guard results in slightly better damage, but less Keywords (it uses up the surge that we'd otherwise spend on Cleave 2). The Shock Emitter doesn't improve our keyword proc rates, but does dramatically boost our damage; ditto for the Extended Haft and its free Pierce 1 (73.1% and 70.1% odds at forcing 3D+ past defense dice, respectively).
 
If we actually want to boost our keyword proc chance, the only attractive option is the Balanced Hilt, which doesn't have great damage but still forces 2 damage past defense dice nearly 80% of the time (78.8%). The Energized Hilt's Red-Yellow and Green-Green variants do improve our odds of triggering Cleave 2, but only slightly and at a dramatic loss of damage (just 30.0% odds of forcing 3D+ through, versus 70.1% if we went with the Extended Haft). The Yellow-Green variant once again produces the worst damage of the lot (scoring just 1D past defense dice a meager 73.9% of the time--the next lowest odds, the Green-Blue variant, are 78.8%, and the Red-Yellow variant scored nearlyt he same Bleed proc rate but with a significant uptick in damage).
 
Once again, the Weighted Head seems to be superior to the Energized Hilt in this respect, if we're willing to settle for a Cleave 1 instead of Cleave 2. It allows any surge we do proc goes towards increasing our more surge-efficient Bleed ability, which improves our damage tremendously over the Red-Yellow and Green-Green Energized Hilt totals. And we still have an outside chance at dealing Cleave 2 to another target (5.2% of our trials). Our Cleave 2 odds are still lower than what we'd have with the Balanced Hilt (5.2% vs. 39.0%), but our Cleave 1 odds are much higher than our odds of Cleave 2 (86.8% vs. 39.0%). The Balanced Hilt does have significantly better target damage in the 2-5D+ bands, however, so there's still some separation favoring the Balanced Hilt.
 
But I gots to cleave!
 
*sigh* So I wasn't originally going to do the 11 additional basic keyword calculations (and... I dunno... 60+ dual-mod combos) with the Cleave 2 favored over the Bleed, because let's face it: Cleave 2 is a situational ability at best (we need at least 1 other hostile figure in attack range, whereas adding 1 damage to your target is always in play) that's just not as surge-efficient as the +1D-Bleed ability that competes for surges. In fact, I had this article all written and set to post with only the basic this-is-how-badly-Cleave 2-nukes-our-weapon-damage chart posted above. But then it was as if a thousand crushed voices called to me out of the deep void...
... but... but... what about that Cleave? I reeeeeeeeeeeally want to Cleave... that's the whole point... isn't it?
Ok, fine. You win...
 
BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_09.jpg
 
I warned you it wasn't going to be pretty. :P
 
Actually, once we start digging into the numbers (and all that damage variance--yipes!), things actually aren't so bad. There are three major takeaways that stuck out to me from this chart:
  1. It's incredibly hard to get that Cleave 2 to fire reliably, no matter what mod we slap on this thing. Our trusty Balanced Hilt is the only weapon with a greater than 1-in-2 chance (proccing Cleave 2 in 75% of our 2000 trials), and only then once per activation. The next batch of weapons (Red-Yellow, Green-Yellow, and Green-Green Energized Hilts, along with the Shock Emitter and the Extended Haft) registered at or just below a 40% proc rate (way below a comfortable confidence interval), and of these, only the surprising Extended Haft is sustainable from attack to attack (at a rate just a cut above 1-in-3 attacks). It also makes that 80.9% Cleave 1 proc rate from the Weighted Head look really enticing. ;)
  2. Our damage definitely suffered, although there are still some decent damage dealers available. A more accurate description might be that if we prioritize our Cleave 2 over our Bleed surge ability, the damage tends to be all over the place depending on the mod we choose. This is probably part of the reason why that Cleave 2 isn't a reliable outcome. I don't think it's coincidental that taking "free" damage-adding mods (Shock Emitter, Extended Haft) has basically the same effect as opting for surge-friendly dice (Energized Hilt). In fact, it seems to confirm what we saw earlier when looking at our damage odds: the naked BD-1 struggles to deal damage past defense dice, given its lack of surge-friendly dice and surge abilities that deal damage. So adding "free" damage (either directly through the Shock Emitter or indirectly with a free Pierce 1 from the Extended Haft) makes a difference to our damage. Setting aside the fact that it costs twice as much, we'd be much better off with the Shock Emitter over the Yellow-Green Energized Hilt if we're limited to choosing just one mod for our BD-1. The Balanced Hilt is the exception, but remember we're pairing an extra surge with a strong damage-centric dice pool (Red-Green). Plus, you know, it's a surge on demand (once per activation). So it has a lot going for it.
  3. The weird result for me was the High-Impact Guard, which we've generally been down on (not just for this weapon, but for most weapons so far). Here, it managed to proc a Cleave 2 rate of 34.1%, just a cut below our second-tier mods and yet a cut above the next batch (Weighted Head, naked BD-1, and more Energized Hilt entrants). I was a bit suspicious at first, figuring something must be off in the math, so I ran the simulation a second time (with another 2000 trials) on both the High-Impact Guard and Weighted Head variants and received surge proc rates for both within 0.5% of what's on this cart, well within our ~3% margin of error. In other words, the High-Impact Guard does appear to slightly but consistently outperform a naked/Weighted Head equipped BD-1 when it comes to triggering Cleave 2. One important note is that although this is a keyword-focused hierarchy, our surge ability preferences for the High-Impact Guard favored the Cleave 2 ability first, then the +2D ability over the ability to add +1D and Bleed. Normally we'd favor the Bleed second, since this is a keyword-centric hierarchy, but with a mod like the High-Impact Guard (which only adds a surge ability), our normal keyword hierarchy wouldn't account for the Guard's combat contribution at all (since a Red-Green dice pool can only roll a maximum of 2 surges). The Guard's probability of proccing that second surge for +2D isn't great, but it does appear to happen often enough to result in a slight improvement of damage which, in turn, results in a slight improvement in our Cleave 2 chance. Once again, this confirms our theory that this weapon can use anything we can add to it to pump up its damage output.
I'll recover... I guess?
 
Last (and probably least), we'll look at surges. Our review of the Stun Baton and Double Vibrosword concluded that while both could generate a surge for non-combat abilities in a pinch, those weapons weren't ideally suited for that role. The BD-1 has a similar profile:
 
BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_05.jpg
 
The BD-1 is again far behind the Vibro Knucklers when it comes to generating surges, on-par with the Double Vibrosword (with the added advantage of the possibility of a keyword proc), and slightly ahead of the Stun Baton (thanks to having a Green die instead of a Blue). All three moddable weapons are quite a bit better at dealing damage than the Vibro Knucklers in this setting, though there's not much separation between the three themselves.
 
Our list of surge-friendly mods contains the usual suspects:
 
BD-1_Charts_1_mod_Page_10.jpg
 
The addition of mods results in a chart that looks very similar to what we saw with keywords, with some notable deviations:
  • Unlike in our keyword charts, both the Extended Haft and Shock Emitter aren't doing anything to improve our surge chance (though they still keep our overall weapon damage quite high). The Shock Emitter, High-Impact Guard, naked BD-1, and Extended Haft variants are separated by just 1 percentage point when it comes to their surge proc rate, which is within our margin of error. The damage spread is a lot more pronounced, with the Shock Emitter and Extended Haft pulling away from the others early, and then the Shock Emitter pulling away from the Extended Haft late.
  • The Energized Hilt landed the second- and third-best proc rates (Yellow-Green at 68.8%, and Green-Green at 59.6%), and the fifth-best with the Green-Blue variant, but all three offer damage that's essentially on-par with Diala's unmodified Plasteel Staff. In other words, these are really low damage options. The Red-Yellow variant lodged a middle-of-the-road surge rate compared to the other three (54.6%) but much better damage.
  • The Balanced Hilt once again took the top spot, with decent (but not great) damage, an 80% surge proc rate, and a nearly 40% keyword proc rate with an outside chance at Cleave 2 (5.9%). If we want to build a surge-generating weapon, the Balanced Hilt and possibly the Red-Yellow Energized Hilt look like our cornerstones.
(Almost) Endless Possibilities...
 
So I was originally going to shoehorn-in a brief discussion of the most promising two-mod combos, but given the length we're at already, probably best to save it. Don't worry, though. It's coming. And I don't think it will disappoint. :D
 
BD-1_card.jpg   Weighted_Head_card.jpg
Spoilers...?
[Photo Credit: FFG and cards.boardwars.eu]
 
 
Inevitable post-posting edits
 
 

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Posted (edited)

Great stuff! You talked about your simulator, is that something you scripted your own? What do you use? One more question is about the numbers you generated. Many people said, and I agree, this looks like a thesis. However no one would accept such charts because they are missing confidence intervals. Although I don't like the mess intervals create on pictures, I would make sure the mean values are reliable enough. I would run the simulations with a confidence level of 90 or 95% until you get an interval width within 5% of the mean. Eventually you can set an upper bound at, let's say, 5000 iterations (number that has to be adjusted depending on how often you hit the upper bound). Over that number you stop the simulation no matter how accurate the result is. I can see that 2K iterations still shows a 5% difference between runs, just changing the seed in the RNG. This means you can potentially add up to 10% error on a comparison between 2 weapons which may be misleading. Thanks for the work done so far, amazing and inspiring!

Edited by Golan Trevize
Fixed error on confidence intervals
IanSolo_FFG and Rythbryt like this

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I did some tests with my own scripted simulator. I have mc4000 with confidence 0.95 and max intervals width within 0.05 of the mean. I can see that for some of the graphs you made about starter weapons the vibroknife 0 damage case is the most volatile. I would say that 100 as max number of iterations is enough. Most of the cases stop around 15 iterations. Basically you have to simulate in worst case 100x4000 fights to get a 95% confidence that real mean is within +/-5% of the plotted mean. However in the simulation I don't have surge priorities, I can only maximize damage.

Edited by Golan Trevize

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, Golan Trevize said:

I did some tests with my own scripted simulator. I have mc4000 with confidence 0.95 and max intervals width within 0.05 of the mean. I can see that for some of the graphs you made about starter weapons the vibroknife 0 damage case is the most volatile. I would say that 100 as max number of iterations is enough. Most of the cases stop around 15 iterations. Basically you have to simulate in worst case 100x4000 fights to get a 95% confidence that real mean is within +/-5% of the plotted mean. However in the simulation I don't have surge priorities, I can only maximize damage.

 

Edited by caseycheesecake
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On 6/20/2017 at 2:03 PM, Golan Trevize said:

Great stuff! You talked about your simulator, is that something you scripted your own? What do you use? One more question is about the numbers you generated. Many people said, and I agree, this looks like a thesis. However no one would accept such charts because they are missing confidence intervals. Although I don't like the mess intervals create on pictures, I would make sure the mean values are reliable enough. I would run the simulations with a confidence level of 90 or 95% until you get an interval width within 5% of the mean. Eventually you can set an upper bound at, let's say, 5000 iterations (number that has to be adjusted depending on how often you hit the upper bound). Over that number you stop the simulation no matter how accurate the result is. I can see that 2K iterations still shows a 5% difference between runs, just changing the seed in the RNG. This means you can potentially add up to 10% error on a comparison between 2 weapons which may be misleading. Thanks for the work done so far, amazing and inspiring!

I'm glad you like it. I didn't build the simulator, but my brother did in his spare time (he runs statistical simulations for his day job, so it's not new to him). Unfortunately it doesn't break down confidence intervals and advanced data safeguards like that (or at least I haven't found the feature yet), and as you pointed out, I'm not sure how I'd graphically represent them on charts like these even if it did. I use it because it does allow me to run calculations beyond just raw-damage output (most importantly individual ability/keyword procs, with outcomes sorted by the choices we make in prioritizing certain abilities above others). None of the other calculators I've found so far offer that degree of data and customization (though I'm always looking for more resources).

I've toyed with the idea about seeing about bumping up the number of simulations, as well, although I'm loath to mess too much with the simulator for fear of breaking it. Although seeing as we're about to embark into the world of dice rerolls, I am in need of an update soon... :P

And while I'm flattered by some the comments about doing a thesis on this, I'm very aware of my data limitations. But I'd be the first to second anyone who wants to run advanced-level simulations for this sort of stuff. :D 

Edited by Rythbryt

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1 hour ago, Rythbryt said:

I'm glad you like it. I didn't build the simulator, but my brother did in his spare time (he runs statistical simulations for his day job, so it's not new to him). Unfortunately it doesn't break down confidence intervals and advanced data safeguards like that (or at least I haven't found the feature yet), and as you pointed out, I'm not sure how I'd graphically represent them on charts like these even if it did. I use it because it does allow me to run calculations beyond just raw-damage output (most importantly individual ability/keyword procs, with outcomes sorted by the choices we make in prioritizing certain abilities above others). None of the other calculators I've found so far offer that degree of data and customization (though I'm always looking for more resources).

I've toyed with the idea about seeing about bumping up the number of simulations, as well, although I'm loath to mess too much with the simulator for fear of breaking it. Although seeing as we're about to embark into the world of dice rerolls, I am in need of an update soon... :P

And while I'm flattered by some the comments about doing a thesis on this, I'm very aware of my data limitations. But I'd be the first to second anyone who wants to run advanced-level simulations for this sort of stuff. :D 

I will make my simulator public once I implemented few more major features like mods, conditions and special abilities. Perhaps someone would like to play with it.

You shouldn't worry about data limitation. A good analysis with approximate data is better than a bad analysis with very accurate data.

Keep up the good job, I can't wait for the next chapter!

Edited by Golan Trevize

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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
 
BD-1_card.jpg
[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:
  1. Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard
  2. Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter
  3. Balanced Hilt + Vibrogenerator
  4. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow)
  5. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue)
  6. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Green)
  7. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow)
  8. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue)
  9. Extended Haft + High-Impact Guard
  10. Extended Haft + Shock Emitter
  11. Extended Haft + Vibrogenerator
  12. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow)
  13. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue)
  14. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Green)
  15. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow)
  16. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue)
  17. High-Impact Guard + Vibrogenerator
  18. High-Impact Guard + Weighted Head
  19. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow)
  20. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue)
  21. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Green)
  22. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow)
  23. High-Impact Guard + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue)
  24. Shock Emitter + Vibrogenerator
  25. Shock Emitter + Weighted Head
  26. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Red-Yellow)
  27. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Red-Blue)
  28. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Green)
  29. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Yellow)
  30. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (Green-Blue)
  31. 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. :P
  • 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:
  1. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RY)
  2. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (GY)
  3. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RR)
  4. Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter
  5. Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard
  6. Energized Hilt (RY) + Shock Emitter
  7. Energized Hilt (RY) + High-Impact Guard
  8. Energized Hilt (RY) + Extended Haft
  9. Energized Hilt (GY) + Shock Emitter
  10. Energized Hilt (GY) + High-Impact Guard
  11. 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:

BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_01.jpg

So where does this leave us?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Speaking of that illegal Balanced Hilt + Extended Haft combo... yipes. :blink: 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...
  6. 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:

Tier_II_top_10_charts_Page_1.jpg

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:
 
Tier_II_top_10_charts_Page_2.jpg
 
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:
  1. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RY)
  2. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (GY)
  3. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RR)
  4. Balanced Hilt + Shock Emitter
  5. Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard
  6. Energized Hilt (RY) + Shock Emitter
  7. Energized Hilt (RY) + High-Impact Guard
  8. Energized Hilt (RY) + Extended Haft
  9. Energized Hilt (RY) + Weighted Head
  10. Energized Hilt (GY) + Shock Emitter
  11. Energized Hilt (GY) + High-Impact Guard
  12. Energized Hilt (GY) + Extended Haft
  13. 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:

BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_02.jpg

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+). :wub: 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!!!! :P
  • 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:

BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_03.jpg

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:

Tier_II_top_10_charts_Page_3.jpg

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:

Tier_II_top_10_charts_Page_4.jpg

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:
  1. Vibrogenerator + Shock Emitter
  2. Vibrogenerator + Extended Haft
  3. Vibrogenerator + Balanced Hilt
  4. Shock Emitter + Extended Haft
  5. Shock Emitter + Balanced Hilt
  6. Shock Emitter + High-Impact Guard
  7. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (RY)
  8. Shock Emitter + Energized Hilt (RR)
  9. Extended Haft + High-Impact Guard
  10. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (RY)
  11. Extended Haft + Energized Hilt (RR)
  12. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RY)
  13. Balanced Hilt + Energized Hilt (RR)
  14. Balanced Hilt + High-Impact Guard
  15. Energized Hilt (RY) + High-Impact Guard
  16. 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:

BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_05.jpg

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

BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_06.jpg

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:

BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_07.jpg

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:

BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_08.jpg

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:
 
BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_09.jpg
 
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. :P 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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. :P
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... 
 
NOOOOOOO.gif
 
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:

BD-1_Weapon_Grid_Page_1.jpg

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:
 
BD-1_Reach_Threat_Range_Page_2.jpg
Gaffi stick...
 
BD-1_Reach_Threat_Range_Page_1.jpg
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.

BD-1_multiple_mod_comp_charts_Page_10.jpg

Things to ponder. :D

So where does that leave us overall? Well, when we compile all of our top damage dealers across all tiers, the result is... 

Tier_II_top_10_charts_Page_5.jpg

And our new leaderboard is:

Tier_II_top_10_charts_Page_6.jpg

...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.

Force_Pike.jpg     Electrostaff.jpg

"Take it Kronk! Feeeeeeeeeeeeel the power!"

[Photo credit: FFG and cards.boardwars.eu]

 

Inevitable post-posting edits: Resized some outlandishly large cards. :huh:
 
 
Edited by Rythbryt

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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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Posted (edited)

 

The Galaxy's Fate in My Hand
 
Excursus: "Deep breath and Focus," in which we predictably do a deep-dive into the Focus condition...
 
Welcome back to our semi-kinda-sorta-regular in-depth look at IA campaign weapons! Since we're about to launch fully into Tier III melee weapons (all of which have three dice in their attack pools), and we're all about quantifying the opportunity cost and credit-efficiency of various weapon choices, I thought it might be a good time for a brief excursus into the general value of adding a third dice to an attack pool.
 
The reason comes down to cost. Tier III weapons are always more expensive than Tier II weapons, and almost always much more expensive than Tier II weapons. And since most Tier II weapons have comparable (and in many instances, better) surge abilities than Tier II weapons, the difference in cost is almost always going to be largely based on the presence of that third attack die. So having some benchmark for measuring just how much "better" a three-dice weapon is over a two-dice weapon will provide us some useful data for making abstract comparisons, and also give us a good measuring stick for particular three-dice weapons (if adding a third die generally improves our damage by 1D, and a particular three-dice weapon improves it by 3D, then we may be willing to stomach a higher credit cost than if that particular weapon only improves our damage by 1D). 
 
At the same time, I'd like this abstract exercise to still have some practical use. If only there was a common way to add a third die to two-dice attack pools that we could measure for its impact on expected damage and surge results... 
 
Inline image 6
[Photo credit: FFG & cards.boardwars.eu]

========================================================

Unfortunately, the FFG forum gods are trying to prevent us from undertaking this particular deep-dive by adding random strikethroughs when the text is published (not when edited). :huh: I take this to mean that we've inadvertently stumbled onto some game-breaking secret. :D 

After numerous attempts to re-post, clear browser caches, strip the text formatting, recode the HTML, and a whole bunch of other things (all to no avail), I've posted the full article here. Again, that's here.

I'll try not to do this regularly, but if the forums continue to persecute our series, I may have no choice...  :P I have an actual series article on the Tier III Force Pike that I'm hoping to get up today, as well, so we should know soon.

(On the flip side, if it results in more traffic to the site, I may be able to convince my brother, who built the Monte Carlo simulator I use for this series, to continue his own series on being the IP. He's kinda obsessed with that particular topic ;) )

 

Inevitable post-posting edits: Don't get me started... :mellow:

Edited by Rythbryt
The original post had pretty severe strikethroughs that weren't user-generated. I'll try to repost the content without those nasty things...

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Posted (edited)

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. :P 

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 :P

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:

15._Force_Pike_card.jpg     Gaffi_Stick.jpg

[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. :P 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:

Updated_FP_roll_chart.png

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. :P

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:

2_die_surge_chart.png

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.

High_G.jpg     WHead.jpg    EHilt.jpg

BHilt.jpg     Vibro_G.jpg

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. :D

 

Damage and (Maybe) Sustainability

Prioritizing damage, the results are... actually very interesting:

FP_Damage_mods.png

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:

FP_Keyword_mods.png

Big surprise here: the Weighted Head and Balanced Hilt are 1A and 1B. :P

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 :huh: ).  

Lastly, let's look at surge procs:

FP_Surge_mods.png

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+ :P ). 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:

FP_Surge_top_5.png

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):

FP_Keyword_top_5.png

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:

FP_Damage_top_10.png

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.*

 

Electro_S.jpg

[Photo credit: FFG and http://cards.boardwars.eu]

Inevitable post-posting edits: So far no strikethroughs... ;)

Edited by Rythbryt

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I can't wait to read this over lunch tomorrow!  Thanks Rythbryt for all your hard work, I've really enjoyed reading your analyses :)  

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Really enjoying this series, thanks for all the hard work you’ve put into it!

With that said, there appears to be an error in your simulation results in the Force Pike article. The first figure (“Tier III Force Pike Vs. Adj. Def. Dice: Rolled Damage and Surge Probabilities (mc2000)”) shows a 0.28% probability of 6+ rolled surges, but the ceiling for RYY is 5 (1 from R, 2 apiece from Y).

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1 hour ago, RedGoldStag said:

Really enjoying this series, thanks for all the hard work you’ve put into it!

With that said, there appears to be an error in your simulation results in the Force Pike article. The first figure (“Tier III Force Pike Vs. Adj. Def. Dice: Rolled Damage and Surge Probabilities (mc2000)”) shows a 0.28% probability of 6+ rolled surges, but the ceiling for RYY is 5 (1 from R, 2 apiece from Y).

So you're absolutely correct.

As far as I can tell, the math itself is actually accurate, but was incorrectly labeled.  The stat presented as 1+ surge is actually the odds of rolling 0 surges past defense dice (i.e., there are either no surges and no evades rolled, or 1 surge and 1 evade rolled). The stat for 2+ surge is the odds of 1+ surge, 3+ for 2+ surges, etc. And there's a roughly ~2.7% chance that the defense dice roll 1 Evade and the attack dice roll no surges (leading to a "-1" surge result). But mixing those labels up resulted in what's obviously a major misprint. :(

The result is an improvement on surge abilities, but not an improvement that is soooooo much better than what we'd get with just the Yellow-Yellow. So I'll get that part of the Force Pike write-up edited right away.

Here's the original chart that was posted:

3_die_dmg_and_surge_chart.png

And the corrected chart with the correct figures labeled:

Updated_FP_roll_chart.png

 

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On 8/23/2017 at 0:25 PM, Rythbryt said:

After numerous attempts to re-post, clear browser caches, strip the text formatting, recode the HTML, and a whole bunch of other things (all to no avail), I've posted the full article here. Again, that's here.

Great read as always.  Just a couple minor edits:

Quote

That Red-Red pool improves its odds of rolling a single surge past defense dice from roughly 1-in-5 (2.03%) to just under 1-in-2 (48.3%).  

I think you mean 20.3%?

Also, the images aren't visible.  Not visible to me at least.

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1 hour ago, machfalcon said:

Great read as always.  Just a couple minor edits:

I think you mean 20.3%?

Also, the images aren't visible.  Not visible to me at least.

Yes, that would be a misplaced decimal. Good thing I don't math for a living. :P

The pictures should be visible now. If not, I think it strengthens my theory that we've inadvertently stumbled on something earth-shattering and a higher power is trying to stifle us.

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