Hey guys, now that I've had a bit of time to get familiar with the class (though, still learning more every day!) I thought I'd start some more conversation about S&B combat (new thread since other one went .. sour). This isn't necessarily for advanced people only (particularly since I'm still new to it myself), so please don't feel free to jump in with thoughts or questions, and please don't be offended if I'm saying things that are obvious to higher skill people.
Few things I've noticed: (note: I'm at peak speed with L3 longsword (runed), nimble, buckler)
First of all, smash high is really, really hard to use well. It was immediately apparent that just using it back to back really doesn't work as well as I initially expected. It is still a pretty awesome move, which I'll come back to when I talk about lock ideas in a second.
Second of all, I'm finding that choosing when to use shieldstrike is really challenging. So far I'm using sensi to stack herbs/kelp early on, and occassionally stun to help build mental stacks. Shieldsmash high combo, then a stun/para/metal combo x2, then another shieldsmash high combo is a really good 4-hit combo that helps stack up fast (the first delays focus, and if the second combo lands before they focus (works only with L3 longsword) you can delay the focus for another chunk of time with the stun. They focus (3 second balance) which regains them focus balance just in time for your fourth hit (which kills focus balance again). This buys you 8 seconds of metal stacking with only one focus, and can be repeated easily enough (although tree+passive still makes it a bitch).
Another thing I noticed, Expert Diagnose is MUST HAVE
for this class. If you're playing S&B and you're not too familiar with Expert Diagnose, I highly
recommend that you get it and master the art of using it well. It's fairly simple for knights, but it can dramatically increase the speed and effectiveness of stacking any
type of affliction. The key to its use is using it to prevent re-afflicting things your opponent has. They most simple (and common) example is if you're building up kelp afflictions and you give them clumsiness/asthma. When they eat kelp you can just check for asthma. If they have it, then they cured clumsiness (so, hit them with it again). If they're negative for asthma, then you know what to do (and you know not to hit with clumsiness again). I recommend sticking to splitting 50/50 odds for people who're new to it, but it can be far more effective when you get good with it. Not that this is news to some people, but you should also be watching for symptoms and giveaways. In the asthma/clumsiness example, if they eat a kelp then smoke, you know what they cured (and you also know that they're going to have rebounding soon). Gotta watch this stuff carefully!
Guardbreak is a ridiculously good opener. At first I was struggling to find a good use for this (after I stopped struggling to figure out why it is called Guardbreaker). It took asking around a bit, but it is essentially just a charge-up ability for Ferocity. It has a 3 second balance (all knights should be nimble), delivers a single venom, and can't target limbs. It does weak damage, but who cares - you should only really be using it in two situations (that I'm aware of so far), neither of which use damage.
-> First off it's amazing to open combat with. I usually open with a single Guardbreak. It gives you TWO ferocity per hit, is a nice safe way to determine if they have rebounding up [without whiffing a raze], and gives you a point of ferocity even if you hit rebounding. Raze combos do too, but they can only give you a single point of ferocity, best case, and the 1 affliction you land with shieldsmash is (as far as I can tell) totally meaningless because you're only landing 1 aff and they'll have herb balance back before you regain balance from raze. Early guardbreak buys you an earlier Sensi strike, which means faster kelp stacking, more damage (from the strike iself as well as sensitivity), and more passive/tree fodder (this also seems to trigger most "default" tree scenarios too, which is good since at this point it's still relatively easy to find out what the tree cured).
-> The second use of guardbreak I've seen (credits to @Exelethril
for pointing this out to me) should be avoided at all costs, but can be better than the alternatives. If you find yourself in a situation where you have
to initiate a kill sequence, but don't have enough Ferocity, Guardbreak will get you there the fastest (assuming you need two or more). One (of several) example is if someone tumbles away from ya to a room you can't necessarily chase to (or don't want to leave your ground runes). You can easily hit with a guardbreak for 2 ferocity (only if you need it)
and use something like shieldstrike/impale or shieldstrike sensi (only if you still have their deafness down) and your max damage hit (dat L3 hugalaz runeblade Rend) in hopes of ending them, in combination with Engage. If you time that right, they have sensitivity for the
Eihwaz. It's extremely
amazing. It procs on Slice, Rend, and Guardbreak (and technically I think Slash, which you should literally never use). In my mind, the only good knight is an affliction knight. I'd literally turn off damage if I could, just to preclude the ubiquitous and annoying accidental kill during prep/stack phase. If you feel the same way, then you should be using Eiwaz for everything other than your midbie-smiting broadsword finisher (may as well put hugalaz on it, it's only good for last-hitting). Eihwaz is one of those funny abilities (akin to expert diagnose) that is insanely
powerful if you are an expert at both tracking afflictions and applying the information quickly and intelligently.
Since you should never plan
on an Eihwaz proc, 100% of them should be a surprise, but are surprises that can provide massive opportunities that you couldn't have possibly pulled off 1 second earlier. First and foremost, you have to actually know what affliction it masked. Not to sound mean here, but if you can do this accurately and actually register the information in your mind prior to the next attack, you're already "better" than 95% of the playerbase. If you can't
do this, then I strongly suggest setting up a simple trigger for it that displays what was masked (if you're using Combination, it's a pretty basic multiline Trigger to set up a highlight for it. I personally don't use this, because I can clearly see the proc and I know [and can see] the venom I used on each combo - https://ada-young.appspot.com/pastebin/15b16977)
You have to be really smart (and/or really experienced) to be able to use this well and spot the difference between useless procs and extremely good ones. There are a lot
of times that it's going to be useless. Examples are paralysis which they will always see, recklessness, prefarar(deafness) thanks to prompt defs, and asthma if it's too early to be used for a lock attempt. Obviously (?) Asthma is one of the best afflictions to be masked, but if your opponent is using rebounding, they're going to notice asthma really early on due to symptoms. If they're not using rebounding, then you should IMMEDIATELY stop using any kelp or smoking cured afflictions, and make use of expert diagnose if they already had one and eat a kelp (in the example I posted, @Amranu
's system sat idly with asthma until he diagnosed). If you can't turn this into a lock (you can hard-lock anyone without fitness in a single combination (ephorbia+limb break) if you catch them off tree balance with "hidden" asthma). Weariness/paralysis on the next jab is a truelock sans impatience (gg). Other amazing afflictions to sneak to watch out for are weariness (so good that I am considering just throwing it into preps purely in hopes that it procs Eihwaz
), stupidity (many systems won't even catch it despite stupidity procs),
clumsiness/sensitivity (both are situational
), nausea (very, very good, and I'm fairly certain it's parry proc doesn't diagnose it yet
), voyria (negates having to use it twice to cancel out passives
), anorexia (they'll immediatley see it, but just the extra delay incurred on their next herb makes it valuable, and it also gets them to focus later after your combo [you don't want them to focus immediately after you hit them]).
Useless affs to mask: darkshade, paralysis, disfigurement, addiction slickness, epteth/epseth, shyness
Damage stacking: Oldie but a goodie. Smash just got nerfed (I'm not sure why they didn't just lower the damage, the condition to the nerf makes it so it only does more damage in a handful of scenarios in which damage doesn't matter). With the right arties, you can kill about 75% of the playerbase with isaz+engage and stacked damage. I've yet to actually use my falcon in combat, and I've spiked down people with > 6000 health. It's easy enough to stop, but that's how it should be.
Fight mounted. There is zero reason not to, aside from the fact that mounts are a pain in the d--k and are absurdly expensive. Unless you have greaves, Mountjump and fly alone should be reason enough (which is good because they're basically the only skills in Riding that matter). IMO if you're serious about combat, you should buy an artie pet (or at least
a collared legenary) and mithril spurs. Spurs+vault is one of those things you'll get used to then refuse to play without after you realize how amazing it is. You can also kneel/tumble and dismount/sketch when necessary at no additional cost.
Locking. God, there are like 20 ways to do it, and counting. You can lock off limb breaks, eihwaz procs, riftlock, lock off straight mental stacks (in reverse), lock using blackout, and truelock with drag
... oh yeah, that's classified. You can also lock obscenely fast if you're with anyone else with easy access to impatience (dragons, monks, bards, apostates, shamans). And apostate + SnB knight combination should be able to truelock in a single combo, or worst-case, two.
Fitness. I know I just got it nerfed, but it's still
one of the most powerful active abilities in the game. Learn to use it.
Wunjo/Nairat/Tumble. Nothing new here. Proper use of this yields immortality.
Gular. Remember dying to monks? Me neither. Combine with wunjo/nariat.
Isaz procs. People seem to downplay this, and I think they're probably justified, but do try to keep in mind that it's a free parry bypass, results in extra damage from physical attacks, can buy you a free concuss (use sparingly), and if you're lucky, it can buy you an extra shieldstrike attack (instead of having to use shielstrike low) going into impale sequences. Never just impale on isaz procs just because you can. I know it's tempting, but it just doesn't do anything for ya.
Arc. I've yet to find anything useful for runewarden, but obviously great for infernal and amazing for paladin.
Damnation - so incredibly overpowered for SnB that I actually chose Runewarden over Paladin because I would honestly feel like I'm abusing something broken. If you can't figure out how to pull of Damnation as SnB then you should probably be a runewarden (just being funny here, no offense - although I mean it).
Lunge. Sure freakin' miss it. My classlead for Evade counters also got approved, so we'll see something
soon, but for now, it seems we're stuck with either squinting (use search or lifevision vs serpents) or just good guesswork. If they're being pansies, just equip your newb-smiter (broadsword) and get Rending those limbs. With a L3 broad you can prep people with 4-5k hp with 5 rends or so **** (I highly recommend not using rend to prep limbs at all unless you have Manda, or are willing to risk Slice not breaking the limb on the next hit).
DSB - have yet to use it.
Dedication - Overpowered, should probably be deleted or entirely repurposed - unless the intention is to make Knights (even more) immune to venomlocks. Being able to apply offensive hindrance (so many options) while simultaneously swapping asthma > para is insanity. You're now able to completely mitigate kelp stacks thanks to ignoring curare, you still have Fitness, and runie and paladin also have passive healing on top of it. Add this to the fact that you have piety/GH/isaz that allow you to bail at any time without being chased, and Vault which allows you to fight mounted, thus allowing you to walk with broken legs. The only downside to dedication is some very minor damage taken while paralyzed, however you already have some of the best damage mitigation and
HPS in the game (all three knights can heal scary fast), and the classes that you'd use Dedication against don't even care about damage (except for priest!).
Club - Not sure why this exists. I'm hoping there's something that it's useful for other than ganking (it's amazing for ganking), but I haven't been able to pin it down yet.
Big thanks to @Achimrst
, and quite a few others, for letting me beat up on them all afternoon. I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, and I'm sure people can find a few things to pick apart. Disclaimer: if I made any errors, please be sure to understand that there is no difference between wrong about something and being a bold-faced liar.
Discuss, critique, add!