O-VER-RATED: The Obsession with Bladestorm 5

June 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

This article is a continuation of the mini-series analyzing some of the rank 5 epic that started with repel boarders 5 and ow5. Today we will be exploring bladestorm 5, namely the fascination many buccaneers have with what I believe to be an overrated and mediocre at best epic talent. We’ll begin by looking at what Bladestorm ranks 3-5 actually do.

  • Rank 3- Triggers upon defeating or critical-ing on an enemy. Can activate 3 times. The important part is that it’s chance of landing (and critical-ing) on an opponent is based off your primary stat, for buccaneers, strength. This means that one critical bladestorm, especially when a strength buff is on the buck player, is likely to trigger more critical bladestorms immediately following- This immediacy will be important later on
  • Rank 4- +1 Crit Rating (this is a +5% crit chance according to the update notes)
  • Rank 5- +25% weapon power after every activation. This buff lasts 1 turn, much like Riposte 3’s dodge buffs.

We see that rank 5 of bladestorm provides what appears to be a very powerful and desirable buff, namely a 75-100 (depending on whether or not you have tide active) point increase to weapon power after every activation (with 3 triggers, this can give upwards 300 point weapon power increase, essentially making your character do hidden levels of damage while the buffs are active).  In theory, you could use a super hit, trigger a bladestorm or two, and all your ensuing relentlesses, vengeance strikes, and later bladestorms would do more damage. However, there are 3 problems this talent has that transform it from a great epic to a merely average one (Most players are unaware of or do not consider these problems, hence my claim that the epic is overrated).

Problem #1: Buff function in PvP

This problem is a simple one. Buffs, including bladestorm’s buffs, do not stack in PvP. This means that, although the buff will appear to trigger 3 times, your pirate will only get the weapon power increase once. Instead of a maximum +300 weapon power, you get a maximum +100 weapon power, making your pirate much less of the offensive beater that it could be in PvE where buffs DO stack. This is a rather measly weapon power increase, especially when factoring in shields and armor/magic resist.

Problem #2: The stack

This is the largest problem with bladestorm 5, affecting its power in both PvE and PvP. This problem is two-part, but both stem from a similar root: the concept that is referred to in other games as The Stack. What is The Stack? In the Pirate101 world, the stack is essentially the order in which epic talents and their aftereffects activate. If a talent activates before an attack (I call this “in response to an attack”), that attack is put lower on the stack than the response. The talent or attack on top of the stack activates first. This is confusing, so here’s an example. Assume two max level swashbucklers with all default-trained epics and relentless one are dueling.

  • Player 1 goes to use a base attack. Player 2’s first strike triggers. First strike is higher up on the stack than the original attack. Since first strike can no longer respond to first strike, player 1 cannot respond to player 2’s first strike, so player 2 goes to swing with their first strike.
  • Player 2’s first strike activates and misses. Player 2’s Riposte and dodge buff go on the stack. Neither can be responded to by player 1, so the dodge buff and the riposte activate and land. The riposte land triggers relentless from player 2. It goes on the stack
  • Currently Player 1’s base attack is below player 2’s relentless on the stack. Player 1 can respond to relentless with first strike, so it goes on top of the stack. First strike cannot be responded to, so first strike triggers. It misses. Another (non-stacking) dodge buff and riposte go on the stack for player 2.
  • Neither can be responded to, so both the dodge buff and riposte activate. Riposte lands. The relentless that was on stack for player 2 is now back on top of the stack. It activates, since player 1 already had a chance to respond to it. It lands, triggering nothing. Now player 1’s base attack, having already been responded to and having nothing on the stack above it, activates. Player 1 swings.

In addition, some epic talents have priority over others. This isn’t necessarily relevant to blade 5, but is important to know nevertheless. Let’s use a simple example. A Fan Flanders uses her super attack on Peter Quint in one duel, and El Toro in another. Assume both have standard epic selections. In both situations, Fan hits her target. However, in the instance that she hits the Pete, her bladestorm triggers immediately (even though Pete’s vengeance strike is on the stack), while in the instance that she hits Toro, Toro’s first strike activates BEFORE the bladestorm triggers. This means that bladestorm was stacked above the vengeance strike, but first strike was stacked above the bladestorm. This order of stacking is called priority.

Now back to Bladestorm 5. How does it relate to the stack? Before I explain, you must know that Bladestorm 5’s weapon power buff activates after it resolves (meaning that every resulting chain and counter chain attack has triggered, except for a possible relentless from the first bladestorm hit). This is unlike riposte 3’s dodge buff that triggers BEFORE you make the attack. Here is an example scenario. A buccaneer has a Whale’s Might up and is using a Super Strike power. He has all default-trained epics, relentless 2, and max health. His opponent has no counter-epics, no other units alive, an infinite amount of health, and no chance to dodge.

  • Buck uses super strike. This triggers relentless and bladestorm. Bladestorm is prioritized over relentless, so it goes higher on the stack.
  • The pirate swings with bladestorm. It criticals, triggering only another bladestorm.
  • The second bladestorm starts. It also criticals, triggering only another bladestor
  • The third bladestorm triggers. It does not critical, but it does trigger a relentless
  • The pirate swings with relentless, which triggers another relentless.
  • At this point none of the buck’s bladestorms have resolved. The second relentless lands.
  • The third bladestorm resolves (+75 weapon power)
  • As a result, the second bladestorm can resolve (+0 weapon power, buff doesn’t stack)
  • As a result, the original bladestorm resolves (+0 weapon power, buff doesn’t stack). The relentless from the original super is now first on the stack, so it triggers.

In this scenario, which is not terribly unrealistic in its general pattern (similar situations become even more likely when you and your opponent’s counter epics are factored in), only the 1 relentless was affected by the weapon power increase. Herein lays the problem. Because of how bladestorm functions on the stack and how the weapon power increase only triggers after the epic completely resolves, much of the time the buccaneer player will not get the weapon power increase until their chain is almost completely done, meaning they will only get a couple of hits worth of increased damage, rather than the full chains that they expected.

The second part of this problem is in regards to what happens when bladestorm does resolve early, or you are able to get many attacks off with buffed weapon power (generally due to a frenzy). When bladestorm does resolve before you use more bladestorms or relentlesses, it often means your chain is just going to stop right there. This is because a bucc is likely to have a strength buff up when attacking and blade 4 provides +5% crit chance. This means your bladestorm is going to critical quite often, which will in turn trigger more critical bladestorms. The odds that a critical attack will trigger a non-critical bladestorm in response and there will be no counter-epic (first strike, riposte, vengeance strike, soul shroud, etc.) chains before the bladestorm resolves are quite slim. If you do get a lot of attacks off with bladestorm’s buff up, likely while you’re frenzying, it’s essentially a “win-more” combo. A long frenzy is generally a game winner, so that buffed weapon power is generally just overkill.

Problem #3: Other options

The final problem (it’s not so much of a problem, but merely just a reason why blade 5 is not ideal) is that Buccaneer has so many other more powerful choices for their weapon. They have the Haywire Greataxe and Greatsword, both of which provide 2 attacks that can do more than a hidden assassin. They have the Dragon-Axe of Doom, which provides the ability to go after Tide 4 or 5, an epic Talent whose rank 4-5 variants are always worth investing in. They have 2 strength-based Haywire hybrid weapons (Haywire Armada Blade and Swashbuckler Set) if they want to run burst 2 and/or an Uncanny Shot. They have the Axe of Minotaur Lords, which, although outclasses by other weapons, is still another potential chain attack every turn. Finally, veteran players have access to Champion weapons (with Spring and Fall being the best options). I personally don’t see a reason why your main weapon choice/strategy would revolve around an epic talent that, much of the time, is not going to have a major impact on the tide of a match.

Disclaimer: None of this is to say that Blade 5 is completely non-viable, or that skilled players can run in successfully, or that you won’t get lucky and it will frequently impact your matches. I’ve faced, and lost to, Blade 5 in the past. It can, and will, sometimes work. Much of the time however, at least in my experience, it ranges from a complete non-factor to merely a threat of long, heavy damage chains. This piece is merely an argument as to why I feel that buccaneers over-hype Bladestorm 5 when it is far from an ideal epic talent.

What do you think? Have you had success with blade 5? Think I’m wrong? I’d love to hear replies!

You’re a strange animal if you think Blade 5 isn’t overrated 😉


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