Sacred:Tharkane's The Dark Elf Compendium UNDERWORLD Parts 1 - 3, Underworld addendum

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Originally posted at DarkMatters for review and discussion.


Part 1

The Dark Elf Compendium - Underworld addendum


Foreward

For those who have the Underworld expansion (v. 2.21) installed, this compilation updates the original Dark Elf Compendium, which was written for the Sacred Plus version. It is intended to complement the original work - perusing the original Compendium is suggested in order to gain a more complete understanding of the changes Underworld brings to the Sacred game.

The Dark Elf in Underworld - an Overview

Things have changed for the elite warrior of the Cabal. What follows, then, is an overview of these changes.


The Three Basic Special Moves

Rage (Attack): The Dark Elf will now find that he is able to execute this combat move not only with a melee weapon, but also with a ranged weapon.

Revenge (Hard Hit): Gathering his strength, the warrior unleashes a fierce blow against a single opponent with his melee weapon. With a ranged weapon, he aims carefully and releases a precise, very damaging shot.


Sudden Fury (Multi-hit): Long the most deadly and effective basic combat move in the Dark Elf's arsenal, he is now able to fire a volley of arrows or crossbow bolts at surrounding foes in battle. However, these arrows lack the devastating stunning power of a melee weapon, so foes are not stunned by a ranged multi-hit.

Special Moves - changes

Pak-Dain - Projectile Deflection and Pak-Nakor - Magic Deflection: The inner energy of the Dark Elf, as before, will deflect both projectiles and magic damage hurled against him. However, a balance has been achieved in Underworld which reduces the duration of these special moves, making the duration increase increment as the CA level increases smaller than what it was in Plus. The power of these moves, however, remains the same.

Melee Basics - changes

Knowledge of weaponry has improved in Underworld. Each weapon's description now includes an entry detailing what weapon skill governs its use. Gray areas and misinformation have been resolved, leaving room for no doubt in the warrior's mind as to what skill he uses when wielding a weapon.


Weaponry Expanded, and Weapon Skills Repaired

A greater range of weaponry now exists for the Dark Elf to employ. The three-tined dagger has returned in Underworld as a Blade Combat weapon. A new double-bladed sword has been introduced, as has a new type of Blade Combat broadsword.

The confusion regarding claws, knuckles, and fistblades has been dispelled in Underworld. Claws are now clearly a Blade Combat weapon, as are fist blades and knuckles. This replaces information in the original Compendium of the Plus version, as it applies to Underworld.

Combat gauntlets, an Unarmed Combat weapon exclusive to the Gladiator in Plus, can now be used by any character, inlcuding the Dark Elf.

Dual wielding, and the law which applies to wielding two melee weapons (one in each hand) remains the same in Underworld. Regardless of a weapon's individual weapon skill governance, once a weapon is wielded in concert with another, the Dual Wielding weapon skill governs all attacks. This remains the same from Plus.

Note that, just as it was in Plus, the requirements of a one-handed melee weapon determine if the Dark Elf is able to actually wield the weapon or not. For example: if you lack the Sword Lore skill, you will not be able to wield a weapon that features Sword Lore as a requirement for its use. Unless socketing is used to change the weapon's requirements, you will not be able to equip it.

The damage done when dual wielding has changed from what it was in Plus. Damage from both weapons no longer "stack", nor do their individual damage bonuses and special effects "stack." Also, the average damage range of a dual-wielded weapon is now lower than the average damage range of the same weapon wielded alone. This has the effect of balancing single weapon wielding and dual weapon wielding - each has its particular strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, the warrior of the Cabal must choose his path more carefully in the realm of the Underworld, and utilize his strengths more wisely.

Miscellaneous

Underworld gives new special sets for the Dark Elf to find and use. These are custom-tailored for the rigors of the Underworld campaign - warrior beware.

With greater power comes greater foes - you will find that some old enemies have found new vigor and increased power in Underworld .You shall also discover brand-new foes in the Underworld campaign. Dragons are greater than what they were in Plus, now more difficult to defeat and more capable of destroying the careless warrior. New strategies are called for, and new perils await.


Part 2

Muddy Waters

I have been playing around with fistblades, claws, knuckles, and even combat gauntlets lately...some with a DE, other times with a Dwarf, Gladiator, Daemon, etc.

Unarmed Combat should not affect attack speed nor attack rating when it comes to the Blade Combat weapons (that is, fist blades, claws, and knuckles). From what I saw between my DE and the other characters, that's true. Now, this doesn't mean there still aren't a few bugs around making the water muddy, as Frostguard notes. The bugs seem to be associated with Cordell's Dagger, a fist blade DE set weapon. Just to clear some of the mud, fist blades are a one-handed weapon.

There are some damage inconsistencies when you equip these weapons, however. Example: my melee Dwarf, with an empty weapon slot, does 734 - 1171 in damage with his bare hands. Equip claws, and that amount drops dramatically (down to a max of 652). Strange. The same applies to all the other characters, DE and Daemon included.

Combat gauntlets have a similar problem. However, those defintely abide by the rules when it comes to the weapon skill they are governed by: Unarmed Combat skill affects them clearly. They are officially a UC weapon.

I don't advise anyone to tailor their Dark Elf around possible bugs in the game. The reason being: a future patch might repair some of the lingering problems, and make your build less useful. Take UC or BC because you want to, not because of some bug.

Part 3

Dark Elf Build - The Universalist

Utilizing the Dark Elf's Combat Arts, building a warrior that's able to meet virtually every challenge in the game is easily accomplished. An understanding of the underlying simplicity involved is required in order to appreciate the elegance of the universalist build.


The Challenges of the Game

In a nutshell, Sacred offers three basic challenges to a character. The universalist attempts to address all three, and in my Sacred gaming experience, does so successfully.


1) Defense

In the lower levels of difficulty, adequate defense is usually not an issue. However, any player who has ventured forth into Niobium appreciates the need for defense...gobs of it, in fact. Two factors are key: basic defense rating to avoid being hit in the first place, and some way to address the annoying arrows of Niobium archers.

Adrenaline

As has been discussed in Mjollnir's Poisonist Triad guide, this Trap Art supplies all the raw defense rating a Dark Elf will ever need. As Mjollnir accurately points out, Adrenaline offers higher returns for your investment than Parrying (which requires the use of a shield to be most effective), or Agility.

The universalist uses Adrenaline, and based on his method of stat investment, skill choices and optimal armor/weapon configurations, aims to achieve a very low regeneration time.

Pak Dain (Projectile Deflection)

Even with a good Adrenaline-enhanced defense rating, the Dark Elf will still be harassed by Niobium archers. It can be rather frustrating to watch your 50K defense rating mean nothing in the face of numerous arrows. Fortunately for the Dark Elf, he possesses the means to turn the tables on his ranged foes in a very satisfying manner, befitting his sarcastic and sardonic outlook.

The Universalist, thanks to possessing the Concentration skill and wise investment in Physical Regeneration, is able to activate the Pak-Dain combat move and keep it running perpetually, its regeneration time well below its duration.

2) Attack

Like defense, in the lower levels of play, the need for a robust attack rating doesn't figure into the gaming experience. As the Dark Elf progresses into Gold and beyond, however, the need for increasingly greater attack capability becomes very apparent.

Testosterone

Testosterone supplies the Universalist with unparraleled attack power, reaching far beyond the scope of weapon skills and the modest attack boost offered by the Agility skill. Like Adrenaline, his skill choices and stat investment insure that the regeneration time remains well below the duration. It is very possible to have both Testosterone and Adrenaline running concurrently on your Universalist Dark Elf.

Dual Wielding

The ability to wield two one-handed weapons in concert - both in the same weapon slot - still offers high dividends despite the balancing brought about by the Underworld patch. The attack rate of a dual wielder vs. a single weapon wielder illustrates the difference. While the intrinsic damage of dual wielding is reduced compared to using one weapon, the speed gained compensates for the reduction quite well. The bonuses of both weapons added into this equation, in the end, means more damage inflicted. For example, a critical hit bonus modifier is more likely to happen through several attacks vs. a few.

The universalist chooses Dual Wielding as a skill. Whether it's his only weapon skill or not, the advantage of wielding two weapons addresses the attack challenge more than adequately.

3) Damage

Damage done, even in the lower levels of play, is a constant requirement if opponents are to be vanquished in a reasonable amount of time. There is no question that the Dark Elf specializes in the application of damage in ever-increasing amounts!

The Universalist, through lower combat move and trap art regeneration times, is able to annihilate his foes whether in close combat, or from a distance, in a relatively brief amount of time.

Ranged

The Explosive Charge trap is one way to attack opponents at range. It offers an excellent damage spread that continues to rise as levels are added. It is very effective against the undead as it inflicts fire damage.

Poison Mist can be used against stationary archers, and placed strategically around the Dark Elf to damage incoming foes. Dropping a Poison Mist on top of himself, he can damage encircling enemies.

Bottomless Pit has uses both at range and in close. The fire and poison damage it does makes this trap useful against a great variety of enemies.

The Universalist, through the Trap Lore and Ballistics skills, takes full advantage of his resources to become an expert Trap Artist in combat. Both skills work to reduce his trap art regeneration times, making their swift use in combat feasible.

Melee

Specializing in Trap Arts does not mean a Dark Elf must be weak in combat. Dual wiedling and the use of Dark Elven combat moves makes the Universalist a melee specialist. Multi Hit and Cobra are his primary combat moves, while Hard Hit and Mongoose are secondaries.

Sudden Fury is amongst the best Multi-Hit combat moves of the characters in Sacred. Once CA level 3 is reached, it begins to hit surrounding targets very consistently. What sets the Dark Elf's Sudden Fury apart is how targets who are struck (even Dragon-sized!) are driven back from the Dark Elf, and usually become stunned for a few seconds in the process. This combat move is a true gem and is a mainstay of the Universalist.

Cobra, once CA level 8 is attained, becomes extremely effective at rendering encircling enemies stunned for great lengths of time. Even the most powerful bosses are not exempt from the effects of Cobra. The author has used Cobra on dragons, and even against Baron DeMordrey with great success. Cobra is one of the Universalist's secret weapons, one he unleashes upon those deserving of a stunned, clueless death.

Revenge is employed by the Universalist as the coup de grace on senseless opponents in combat. He also employs it in duels against the champions and bosses of his enemies. First, he clears the battlefield of their pitiful minions. Then, he exacts his revenge upon their ringleaders.

The Universalist: Regeneration is at the Core of Power

Unlike the hybrid characters who use both melee and magic, the Dark Elf uses CAs which share common regeneration formulas. He shares this with the Dwarf. To his benefit, the two types of his Combat Arts - Combat Moves and Trap Arts - both "run" on different timers, enabling the constant use of both concurrently in combat. A review of these regeneration formulas:

Combat Moves: (Physical Regeneration) + (Concentration/Regeneration Special Move)

Trap Arts: (Physical Regeneration) + (Trap Lore/Regeneration Special Move) + (Ballistics)

The Universalist invests all available statistic points in Physical Regeneration. First, this common denominator serves to improve the regeneration times for both of his CA types; and secondly, it has the effect of increasing his health points, permitting him to withstand more punishment in combat. Quick regeneration is needed to facilitate the use of both Adrenaline and Testosterone concurrently in combat, the cornerstone of Dark Elf attack power and defense.

True combat power for the Dark Elf rests in the ability to execute combat moves and traps consistently and at a high rate of delivery. The regeneration benefits the Universalist build offers makes this a reality. It's commonly believed that speed = a sacrifice in damage, and for the other characters in Sacred, this is true for most part. For the Dark Elf, however, speed is his forte, and he achieves greater damage the faster his attacks are in combat. Better that these attacks be combat moves and/or traps, rather than the default normal attack. The topic of damage will be covered more completely later in this build guide.


Skill Selection and Skill Point Investments

Note: The default skills the Dark Elf begins his quest with are sufficient and are used in this build.

Weapon Lore (1 point per level until 30th level)

Concentration (1 point every other level)

3rd level: Dual Wielding (advance to 5 points maximum)

6th level: Trap Lore (as per Concentration)

12th level: Constitution (1 point per level) 20th level: Armor (1 point per level)

30th level: Ballistics (1 point per level)

50th level: Player's choice.*

*Suggestion: Blade Combat. While creative socketing can be used to overcome the BC requirements of the DE set weapons with that requirement, this means that you have one less slot to work with...i.e., you *must* socket a ring with a higher requirement in one slot. Unless you plan on making a Trader of your Universalist, taking Blade Combat frees you of this restriction and permits you to use every slot in these weapons to the maximum benefit possible, permitting you freedom of choice. If Blade Combat is selected, only 5 points are needed.

Statistic Investment: All points into Physical Regeneration.

Primary Combat Moves: Sudden Fury, Cobra, Pak-Dain

Secondary Combat Moves: Revenge, Mongoose (for efficient obstacle-hopping and battlefield mobility) Trap Arts: Adrenaline, Testosterone, Poison Mist, Explosive Charge, Bottomless Pit

Damage Essentials

Since the Universalist is a dual wielder, he relies upon Weapon Sets to inflict melee damage. Please refer to the earlier parts of the Compendium and the Dark Elf Weaponry thread for a more thorough definition of Weapon Sets. What follows are special modifiers you will want present on your armor and weapons.


Special Bonuses on Items and Equipment

Chance to Land a Critical Hit - A very desirable modifier, when activated it will send your damage sykrocketing upward. A 20K maximum Hard-Hit can easily do over 80K. Note: this modifier affects all kinds of damage inflicted by your Dark Elf, both direct and indirect. Direct damage: blows from your weapons, damage caused by traps. Indirect damage: DOT from poison, DOT from burning bones, damage caused by open wounds.

Each Hit Draws Life From Opponent - The most desirable bonus of all, life leeching is the best way to stay alive in the midst of fierce combat. It becomes a virtual necessity in the Niobium level of play. Note: the reverse of this modifier, called Pain, is useful if you wish to use the "Wounds Increase Damage Dealt" (WIDD) method of attaining very high damage output. As WIDD is not a topic covered in this guide, please search the forums to find more information regarding WIDD builds if you are interested in pursuing this rather novel (but very effective) approach. The Universalist can be a successful WIDD build.

Split - Splitting occurs when any direct or indirect damage caused by your Dark Elf results in the cloning of the affected opponent. Normally this is a rather small, seemingly innocuous percentage amount that doesn't seem to amount to much. However, a Split chance of 2% is plenty! Consider, if you will, the amount of DOT the hordes of your foes will be suffering by your hand. When you stop to think about the numerous "hits" occuring every second, you begin to understand the probabilities involved. I am not a physicist nor a mathmetician, yet the numbers game is there to see in plain sight.

Splitting is desirable for two reasons: first, you are effectively gaining double the amount of experience for one target; and secondly, the cloned opponent will drop items just like the original might. Double the experience, double the item drops. If you are concerned about handling the extra load of foes, remember that you possess an arsenal of traps and combat moves which affect everything in a defined area. Since the clones of your split opponents appear right next to you, it is best to toss a few poison mists in your immediate vicinity to deal with them swiftly.

Chance for Open Wounds - Open wounds is a form of damage over time that results from direct damage done by either your Dark Elf's Weapons, or traps. It normally manifests as 3% - 5% of the original damage that triggers it. At first glance this might not seem like much, but understand that numerous Open Wounds "ticks" often afflict a single target at the same time...and that each "tick" is subject to score a critical hit if your items and equipment sport that modifier. These can add up quickly, creating a satisfying attrition rate in battle that makes your job easier. At this point, it is easy to see why fast attacks foster greater amounts of damage for a Dark Elf. The more attacks that occur in a given period of time, the greater the chance that special damage types such as open wounds and critical hits have of occurring. It is therefore possible to accomplish in 1.3 seconds what might take another character 3 seconds to do. In higher levels of play, 1.7 seconds can mean life or death for your Dark Elf (not to mention your online buddies), especially on a Hard Core server.

Fire Damage: + X%, Poison Damage: + X% - These bonuses are important as they amplify the damage done by both weapons and traps. Whenever possible, arrange to increase damage done by both with this type of modifier.

Weapon Damage Fire, Weapon Damage Poison - This sort of bonus increases damage done by weapons, and is a desirable addition on armor and weaponry. Typically the damage is modified by a percentage of a statistic, such as Dexterity, Strength, Physical Regeneration, etc. For a Universalist, Physical Regeneration is the desired attribute. However, considering the greater need for execution speed and it's effect on damage (plus the poison damage increase caused by Testosterone), any attribute will be fine since Strength and Dexterity are boosted by items and equipment. Damage will primarily be boosted by greater CA levels and quicker execution times, made possible by exclusive investment in Physical Regeneration.

Regeneration Special Move - This modifier reduces the regeneration times of both combat moves and trap arts. This is very desirable as its presence will enable the Universalist to increase CA levels accordingly while managing to keep regen times low.

Attribute, Skill and CA Boosters - Nearly all of the Dark Elf's special sets will increase his attributes, skills, and CA levels on a point by point basis. Each item of a set will generally adhere to a unified theme: Huron's, for example, increases the levels of the Explosive Charge trap art. Bahamut's set increases Weapon Lore and Trap Lore.

Percentage Increases to Attack and/or Defense, and Resistances - Three versions of the attack and defense modifier exist: % to Attack, % to Defense, and % to Attack and Defense. The latter modifier is of course the most desirable. Percent to All Resistances is preferable to any attack or defense modifiers. Resistance modifiers become important once the Universalist reaches Platinum difficulty, as opponents will strike for much greater amounts of damage. Good resistances are as important as a good defense rating. Testosterone and Adrenaline will supply more than enough attack and defense; concentrate your efforts and investments in increases to resistances.

Rules of Thumb for the Universalist:

  • Once you reach Gold difficulty, your Universalist's average percentage chance to hit a typical opponent should always be above 85%; their chance to hit you should never rise above 10%. You will always encounter exceptions to this: dragons, and other powerful bosses.


  • By Gold difficulty, the need to drink a health potion should be so rare, you end up forgetting about the spacebar altogether.


  • Try to keep your Pak-Dain reflection chance at or above 58%. The higher, the better.


  • Stagger the casting times of your buffs, establishing a rythym that becomes simple to maintain during gameplay. Think APdT: Adrenaline, Pak-Dain, and Testosterone. That particular sequence leaves room for your Trap art timer to fully regenerate between Adrenaline and Testosterone. If you're into Combos, simply make a combo of your buffs in order to save time and space on your CA bar. Keep in mind, however, that you won't be able to use the combo again until the last buff expires. It is for this reason that the author only employs buff combos when the CAs are all roughly equivalent in duration.
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