An Unprofessional Darkside Analysis

Discussion in 'FFXIV Feed Test Area' started by RSS News, Feb 14, 2020.

  1. RSS News

    RSS News Syndicated News Service

    What is this, and why is another DRK topic being made?
    That’s right, ANOTHER person who wants to make ANOTHER thread about DRK! This is not “entirely” a post complaining about DRK. This one is a small informational post detailing the Darkside buff on DRK over three different “playstyles” that slowly devolves into personal opinions. The goal is to give a perspective that it doesn’t matter how DRK is played, Darkside is literally impossible to be dropped as long as you are hitting something and don’t overcap mana. I wanted to post this in one of the other DRK threads, but it eventually outgrew the scope of those, and I decided to make it it’s own topic. This document also functions as a “sequel” to an MP consumption argument I had in this forum in a long lost Media Tour thread back in June. I’ve made a “Darkside Overcap” chart that shows just how much Darkside you are actually accumulating throughout a simple encounter here:

    Chart can be accessed here.

    I will have some unlisted videos with this post as well with each playstyle for reference. (Not for viewing, they’re painfully boring, its just to prove I did it, please fast forward through them if you’re actually looking at them)
    (Full disclosure, I am VERY biased, and I did come into this topic expecting to find the results I did.)
    A lot of this post should be stuff you might already be aware of, so I’ll separate it into sections with spoilers if the entire thing is too long to read.
    If a 5.X patch significantly changes DRK, I will amend this post, and add strikethroughs to outdated information.

    What are the “test” playstyles, and why would some players be using them?

    Before I get to that, the opener will remain similar on each test for parity. The next ten minutes are adhering to different rules that encourage excessive spending or saving of MP. (yes I know Normal is 1 minute shorter, sorry!.)

    Normal is just me playing the game as I would in a typical encounter. I added pots because why not, I’d use pots in a real fight. This mean my MP is stored for about a full minute, and bursted all at once during raid buffs. Just assume Trick Attack is on the dummy or something. This is the “ideal” way of playing DRK, based on SMD (Scheduled Mana Demolition) system from 4.X’s “Dark Arts” system, albeit much slower. This places the maximum amount of oGCD usage inside of the raid’s burst windows, and as a result, increases DRK’s personal DPS. I use this as the control for this experiment.

    Reference Footage

    Minimum is keeping the MP gauge as low as possible, or ideally, under 5000. This means after opener, I can never use Edge of Shadow back to back between GCDs, or in an actual encounter, use TBN and EoS in the same weave window. This will not factor in raid buffs, alignment, or even keeping Darkside active. As soon as enough MP is acquired to dump an EoS, it is dumped. Minimum is what the dead end looks like for those who were preaching Dark Arts spam meme during 4.X. A playstyle like this that just consumes mana without ever saving it looks like this. It’s also a new player trap by assuming once a resource is acquired, it must be spent, regardless of the situation. You will often find players who play like this to use a shockingly low amount of TBNs, mostly because they literally can’t.

    Reference Footage

    Maximum is the exact opposite. This keeps MP ideally at above 6000, and EoS is only used if there is an immediate danger of overcapping mana from a Blood Weapon GCD usage, Syphon Strike, or Carve and Spit. Still does not factor in raid buffs, alignment, or keeping Darkside active. This an overly conservative MP plan that no one would adhere to over a duration this long. However, players who are transitioning into a more raid buff focused playstyle may find themselves replicating portions of this playstyle temporarily in the lead up to a team burst.

    Reference Footage

    What about TBN and new Dark Arts impacting MP usage?

    TBN is obviously where the meat of the complexity lies on the job. Saving a Dark Arts proc for burst windows is the correct way to get as many Edges inside of raid buffs as possible. However, it’s because of the Dark Arts proc that TBN is irrelevant to the Darkside analysis. As long as the TBN breaks, it is a 1:1 mana neutral. And that’s the caveat. As in similar posts of this nature, the end-game DRK, and the apex goal for anyone playing it, is a TBN to get a +1 Edge in raid buffs for personal DPS, and enough TBNs to reduce healing GCDs if possible for raid DPS. I do have some issues with all optimization being tied to oGCDs instead of actual DRK GCDs, but that’s not the point of this post.

    In summary, if you break TBNs consistently, this document remains the same, with the number of TBN breaks delaying an equivalent amount of Edge of Shadows with little, if any change to MP, and absolutely zero to Darkside. This gets even less important when you consider that you can only stack Dark Arts one time, meaning a usage of EoS, and therefore a Darkside refresh, is MANDATORY if you want to use TBNs defensively. If you don’t break TBN consistently, there’s a high chance this document probably doesn’t apply to you and you aren’t even reading it right now.

    If Darkside is so easy to maintain, why do people drop it?

    The main reason is improper TBNing. If the shield doesn’t break, the mana is lost to the void and can’t be used for Darkside upkeep. However, it would take MULTIPLE repeated TBN failures for this to even be possible, to the point where it would almost need to be done intentionally or there is a distinct lack of understanding on the job’s actual kit and the damage intake/timeline of an encounter, as even extreme trial auto attacks can break the shield consistently.

    The other reason is because the boss has jumped away and become untargetable for twenty years and mana was saved for a reopener. Titan Maximum Phase 2 entrance/ transitions and intermissions in TEA is a good example of this.

    If it’s because you aren’t pressing EoS, please press EoS.

    What are some conclusions reached?

    From this data, two things are very apparent. This is the personal opinion part. Feel free to skip over it.

    Darkside, regardless of what you’re doing with your playstyle or MP consumption CANNOT be dropped. It’s not like on PLD or GNB where you could miss a GCD in your FoF/No Mercy window. And it’s certainly not like WAR where an entire GCD combo needs to be dedicated to upkeep the buff. No matter what you do, core XIV combat design of “Always Be Casting” and “Don’t overcap” ensures that Darkside will always remain active, to the point of where I wonder why it even has a gauge or a buff timer at all. It takes zero effort on the behalf of the user. If the damage buff on Darkside did not exist, I would still use the exact same opener and follow the same priority systems in my rotation simply because of MP overcap. You could buff all DRK potencies by 10% and literally nothing about the job would change, and I don’t think that’s a compelling game design decision, particularly when compared to past iterations of Darkside implementation.

    EoS gives way too much Darkside, the cap is far too large,, the excess duration does nothing for your job, and frankly, I think it’s because of the those things that make post-burst window DRK so dull, not the limited amount of GCDs. In contrast, WAR has Storm’s Eye and Infuriate to watch out for outside of burst, and GNB/PLD have dedicated, FIXED rotations that need to be morphed around an encounter, with GNB in particular having the cartridge system on top. We COULD have something similar with a reduced Darkside cap and EoS extension nerf, but it wouldn’t really solve the problem as it’s just a button you press impacting your GCD rotation like other tanks or intense, immediate punishment for failure.

    Minor nitpick/side note/detour, but even the fact that the Darkside gauge shows the duration on Living Shadow rubs me the wrong way, since the duration of that can not be modified whatsoever. It just looks cool. Instead there’s nothing, and that’s a core problem with Darkside. Instead of there being something there, it feels not only empty, but unfinished, like Blood of the Dragon before you get Wheeling Thrust or Fang and Claw.

    The second, and more hopeful conclusion is that there is a VAST amount of potential that is up for job expansion here. This is the secondary reason I made this topic. According to the data, on average, you’re looking at an almost equivalent amount of Darkside Overcap time relative to the time you actually spend in combat. 600 seconds is a long time, and it’s a very deep pool. Is it possible for SE to do something with this?

    I’ve always been saying “The player FEELS exactly what’s wrong, but has exactly zero idea HOW to fix it properly a lot of the time without breaking things.”
    That’s why I don’t often throw out my own ideas for rebalancing, job expansion, reworks, or anything of the like. However, this time, it is glaringly obvious that there NEEDS to be a reason for Darkside to have such an excessive amount of duration and buff accumulation potential in comparison to every job in the game.
    SE is not going to rework this job another time, so we have to build upon the foundation that we have in 5.X rather than rip it out by the roots again in 6.X. Anything too drastic, overcomplicated or antithetical to CURRENT tank design isn’t feasible.

    A few surface-level ideas I had:

    -Bring back Dark Arts, but have it consume Darkside gauge instead. Similar to HW Geirskogul depleting BotD. This could fuse the PLD/WAR playstyles together on DRK, having a fast, dedicated MP dump phase with heavy oGCDs, like opener, and a slow, deliberate Darkside burn with augmented basic/custom effect GCDs like before or timed, resource-based GCDs (like Gnashing Fang) as you gradually build back mana, forming a loop. Would give a reason for our slow MP regen this time around, and much like HW DRK, Darkside would still need 100% uptime regardless for damage, taking optimization back to a “How low can you go?” feel.

    -Force Darkside to interact with the kit more by tying it to Living Shadow. You could’ve been having a certain amount of Darkside influences the duration of the summon. Or Darkside/LS Darkside could have a cap of 60 on both, and you’d have to balance the two once LS comes up to keep the damage up bonus and maximum summon time. Either way, they’re both part of the SAME gauge, but are entirely separate from each other and don’t interact whatsoever, a microcosm of DRK in general. Separate, but equal in importance, without forming a cohesive whole that is greater than the parts that it’s comprised of.

    -Darkside, instead of being a pure damage buff, can scale inversely with your GCD timer. For example, 60 seconds could provide a 3% Haste, 45 seconds a 5% Haste, 30 seconds a 7% Haste, and 15 seconds a 10% Haste. But of course, dropping it would be a 0% Haste. This would give meaning to active management of the buff without adding anything and overcapping being discouraged under some situations (outside of burst to get as many GCDs/mana as possible) while not punishing during an EoS burst since overcapping as a mechanic would ensure you would drop to a lower tier regardless of EoS usage over your downtime phase waiting for buffs to come back up.

    Are these ideas good? Probably not! But they’re something. Which is better than nothing. Which is what SE gave us. And because of that, there are times when a DRK can feel entirely unengaged with it’s gameplay loop for over forty seconds post-burst, and that’s a waste of job potential that had an APM equivalent to BRD in past expansions.

    What are some possible variables or errors in this document?

    Blood Weapon. I know for a fact I didn’t get some of the 5th hits outside the opener and that’s obviously user error. It should account for about one edge on each of the fights. It doesn’t help that my framerate was reduced by my recording.
    Please fix this trash skill.

    On the Min build, I’m pretty sure I overcapped by 10 Blood, and my opener rotation slightly varies on each pull, but not in a way that affects my tests.
    The Normal playstyle is about 1 minute shorter than Min and Max playstyles, and that’s because I can’t be bothered to go re-record and redo all my numbers in the charts. It should be fine, but if a discrepancy comes to light because of it, please bring it to my attention in this thread, and I’ll re-record and re-do the numbers when I have some spare time.

    When it comes to the charts itself, Darkside has some “interesting” properties with how it rounds numbers. I’m assuming that FFXIV rounds down whatever integer value is displayed in your HUD. So capping Darkside at 60, the “60” will show for less than a second, as it’s rounded down from 59.6 for example. This is also why Darkside remains active despite Darkside being at “0”. For simplicity, I just assume that 0 is Darkside off, and anything above that is Darkside on. This does have a mathematical consequence however, as this means that each Darkside EoS that overcaps wouldn’t apply a full second to max Darkside, but the addition should factor that in due to “0” being a valid Darkside amount. The argument can be made that the numbers in the charts are inaccurate under heavy scrutiny, but I think they ARE accurate in terms of scale. In my defense, even with the maximum amount of error (anywhere between 40-60 seconds of excess overcap) you are still looking at a whopping < 600 seconds of overcap’d Darkside under the best conditions.

    I’m also not the tank damage calculator, so there could be a critical oversight in the charts or even the logic of this topic if my proofreading and the generous proofreading of others didn’t uncover it.

    Why do you continue to play a job you obviously hate?

    I don’t know.

    If you've read all, or even a part of this post, thank you very much. If this seemed a bit preachy, or antagonistic, I apologize. I wanted to write this up in the leadup to 5.2, as I'm very excited for the patch. This was more of a mental exercise to keep me engaged in the game. Good luck in your progression!

    @shao32 If you’re reading this, please DM me on discord under Odinel#3547

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