Grim Pleasure vs Arterial Cut

So, there has been a lot of debate on which of these feats is better.  I, apparently like to torture myself.  So, I went through and did some testing, and did the maths, and here is what I came up with:

I took off everything that altered my stats in preview, all boons, all companions except Erinyes of Belial (unsummoned), and I basically respecced without putting points into anything except choosing Master infiltrator.

REMEMBER THIS EQUATION: Damage = Base * (1+ Total Critical Severity+Total Combat Advantage)

I used Dazing Strike and got my base damage, my crit damage (non stealth), and stealthed damage.

Power: 18,381
Crit severity: 85%
Combat advantage = attribute bonus + stat bonus + base = 2% + 6.9%+ 15% = 23.9%


Base (includes power bonus): 2490
Crit (crit severity): 4606
Stealth (Crit + Combat advantage): 5200

So this checks out with our equation:
For just a critical strike Damage = Base *(1+(.85)) = 4606.5
For stealth hits we add in Combat Advantage= 2490 * (1+.85 + .2388) = 5201.6

I kind of expect it to be a point or two off as we are probable rounding some of the numbers that Neverwinter doesn’t, or the numbers Neverwinter gives us are rounded from the numbers it uses to actually come up with the damage.


I took heroic feats that don’t affect damage: Action Advantage, Swift Footwork, Improved Cunning Sneak, etc.
I took ONLY Grim Pleasure
I then attacked with cloud of steel until I hit a crit, and hit using dazing strike without critting, a hit critting, and a stealth hit.
My power went to 19,300 after hitting my first crit.

The first critical hit you do does NOT get the buff.


Base hit: 2529
Crit: 4679
Stealth: 5282

This checks out with our previous numbers and equations:
2529/2490 = 1.0157 or 1.57% increase in damage.
This checks out this way, as well: (1+(19300/40000))/(1+(18381/40000))=1.0157 or 1.57%

The rest is pretty straightforward plugging in our numbers:
Crit damage = 2529 * (1+.85) = 4678.65
Stealth damage = 2529 * (1+.85+.239) = 5283.08

I added my companion with bondings and brutality rings and the change in power from Grim pleasure did not change so it is ONLY your BASE power.


I respecced using the same non effecting heroic feats and took only Arterial Cut.

Power: 18,381

Base: 2490
Crit: 4606
Stealth: 5574

The Base and Crit are identical to the test I did without feats, so that checks out, as expected.

The stealth should be 2490 * (1 + 1 + .239) = 5575.1

So, Arterial Cut performs as expected with an added 15% crit severity to damage delt while you are in stealth.

In this example, with these stats, hits from stealth do 5574/5200 = 1.0719 or 7.2% more damage with arterial cut. However, you have to keep in mind that that extra damage only counts in damage from stealth. If we are generous and say we do 40% of our damage from stealth, .4*.0719 = .02876 or 2.9% added damage with this feat. Compared with Grim Pleasure which we’ve already established, with these stats, gives us about a 1.57% increase in damage, it’s seems Arterial Cut is the clear choice.

However, here is where it gets complicated (I know right?):


The effectiveness of Arterial Cut goes way down the more Crit severity and combat advantage you get. For example, if you had 150% Crit Severity (pretty common end game) and 40% Combat Advantage Bonus (also fairly common), using my base damage stats from above, without Arterial Cut, you get stealthed damage of:

2490 * (1+1.5+.4)= 7221

Add in the 15% from arterial cut:
2490* (1+1.5+.15+.4)= 7594.5 or 7595 rounded

7595/7221= 1.052or 5.2% increase in stealth using Arterial Cut. Say you do 40% of your damage from stealth (which is pretty generous IMO), that gives it an effective damage increase of 5.2% * 40% = 2.1% extra damage.

BUT, as your base power goes up, Grim Pleasure gets better. To find out at what point our power needs to get to in order for Grim Pleasure to be better than Arterial Cut, we gotta go back to our maths (again):

We want to find the point at which our power increase with Grim Pleasure reaches 2.1%. Let’s go back to this equation:

(1+(power1/40000))/(1+(power2/40000)) = percentage difference in damage that power 1 is over power 2
(1+(power1/40000))/(1+(power2/40000)) = 1.021

Then if we take x as our needed power and make the first power x * (grim pleasure buff), our equation looks like this:
(1+(x*1.05)/40000))/(1+(x/40000) = 1.021

Solve for x (rounding) = 28,966 base power needed to out perform Arterial Cut.

So, here is the bottom line, fellow TRs: The Big assumption is the amount of damage you do from stealth. For me, I feel like I am being generous at assuming 40%. But that number is going to be different for everyone depending on their build. And, you don’t have to go much higher than 40% to make it impossible for Grim Pleasure to keep up. For example, if you do 45% of your damage from stealth, the amount of base power you need to pass up Arterial Cut with Grim Pleasure jumps to 36,482. But, if you do 35% damage from stealth you’ll only need 22,500 base power.

Keep in mind the variables: your base power, your crit severity, your combat advantage, and the amount of damage you do from stealth.

Also, realize that the difference between the two feats is, less than 1.5% damage.

Yeah, I just wrote a friggan dissertation over 1.5% difference.

Thank you to @chemodan007, @rustlord, and @micky1p00 over on the official forums for helping me out on this!

Never ever try to do this kind of work without coffee.


TR Tactics

@Rustlord, over on the official forums, made a very good point.  That is, that the numbers are good to know, but the application of my build in real situations is, perhaps, even more important.  This is a valid point and deserves a little more attention than just one rotation for bosses and another for mobs.

Here are my disclaimers:

1) An awful lot of how the rotation works depends on your style of play.  I have a friend in my guild who play a sabo build that is just as effective in his hands (in most situations DPSwise), as my build.  Sometimes, even more effective!  I tried it and just couldn’t get it to work for me.  Likewise, he tried my build, and it just didn’t suit him.  There is more than one right way to do this, and another rotation may work better.  There are better players than me out there!

2) It’s practically impossible to put every scenario down here.  This is a starting point, and when you work out something that is better, let me know!

3) It’s easy to get distracted by going for that top paingiver position at the end of a run.  Try to keep in mind that it doesn’t really matter if you are the top damage dealer, if the run fails.  And, just because you are the top damage dealer, doesn’t mean you have done your best to help the group.


“Thank God… Paingiver again!”

Situation 1, Close together mob:  This is like the zombies in CN.  I drop ITC on this and run Dazing Strike, Smoke Bomb, and Lashing Blade for my encounters.  I sometimes run with the wheel, but mostly, the DC Sigil.  Running into this one, you have a bunch of zombies to deal with.  Assuming your daily is up, I usually use cloud of Steel or a doohickey to proc my bondings and brutality rings.  As I get into range, I’ll stealth, jump in the middle, and use Whirlwind of blades (super 12 second power buff) I then immediately move to the most advantageous position to hit the biggest number of monsters with my dazing strike.  Then, I’ll use smokebomb. If I have the DC Sigil, I’ll pop it (proccing Artificer’s persuasion giving me tons of recovery and other stuff from my buffed power for 10 seconds), hit one zombie with lashing blade (picking one with more health), and hit another with sly flourish.  By the end, my dazing strike and stealth are back and I can stealth> dazing strike any that are left, but most of the time they are gone.

The advantage of this rotation is that it is fast.  If you are competing with CWs and GWFs, it needs to be fast for you to not get left in the dust.  You want to use it on fresh groups to maximize your damage, so if you see your CW or GWF already dropping the hammer on one group, you are better off running to the next.  But, be careful, because if you aren’t careful, you’ll become a zombie snack.  Not to mention, you’ll be the guy who runs ahead of everyone and gets killed.  No one likes that guy.  If you find yourself dying a lot, swap out lashing blade for ITC.  It can still be useful.  Really.  In that case, I would pop ITC before stealth>whirlwind, and proc the buff on the new weapons (+10% more damage) as well as press the advantage (+10% more power).  ITC should last long enough for you to get through smoke bomb, where your primary defense against the mob will be control.

If you have been damaging a mob and you get your daily back, don’t pop whirlwind just to finish it off.  The advantage that whirlwind gives you is the power buff which lasts for 12 seconds.  If you kill everything with WW, you don’t have any enemies to hit with the power buff.  Just save it for the next group.

Also, it should be noted that you could swap Lashing Blade for Blade Flurry or maybe Wicked Reminder, and maybe get a little more DPS against these mobs, but I like to have LB for that one big focused attack you can use when, as in the case of Castle Never, a more powerful enemy shows up.  That way you can be sure to proc Shadows of Demise against it.  Also, I hate hate hate changing out powers in the middle of a fight.

Senario 2 Powerful Mobs: This is like the Giants on your way up the mountain on Fand Breaker Island.  I run the exact same setup as Scenario 1, except I always run the wheels of elements for the extra DPS.  Depending on the ability of the tank you are with, you may have to slot ITC instead of Lashing Blade.  Those Giants hit hard!  The reason I take LB out instead of Dazing Strike is that often, DS will hit more than one Giant and the cool down is roughly half the time of LB.

The biggest disadvantage we have in out DPS verses other classes is situations like this.  Having to deal with powerful mobs that aren’t in range makes you want to go full single target, but it can kill you if you ignore the mobs or other giants.  So, we gotta pick.  I picked the mob set up because I find it is more helpful for the party to have that extra bit of stun our SB and DS gives.  If the rest of the party is mob/control damage heavy, I’d be tempted to go full single target DPS.  You probably won’t be able to keep up with them on your DPS in either case, but if your goal is to compete in DPS, you should try to stay as close as you can and make up the difference at the bosses where this build shines.  That being said, the approach to FBI is one of those places where it can be very good  for the whole party to switch to a support role/ DPS.  More on that later.

Scenario 3, Spread out Mobs:  If what you are facing is smaller, less powerful groups that are spread out, I’d be tempted to go with blade flurry/smoke bomb/dazing strike.  Blade flurry comes back fast, so when one mob is dead, you can very quickly start damaging the next.  In this situation, it is very important to have a high critical chance, because you’ll be moving fast and your stealth won’t be able to catch up before you are onto your next group.  I’d save my stealth for the dazing strike attacks so you can maximize your group damage.

Scenario 4, Bosses:  This is where this build can perform very well.  I always slot dazing strike, and Lashing Blade.  If I am fighting a boss with tons of knock downs or AOEs (Lostmauth or MSVA for example), I will slot ITC.  You can use it effectively to proc the new weapon bonus, and the Press the Advantage power buff, on top of the automatic deflect and control resist.  In the case of MSVA, usually your clerics have your cool downs so low that you can keep it up most of the time.  That comes in especially handy with those damn AOEs that people don’t bother to leave the group for when they are targeted.

All other bosses, I’ll slot either smoke bomb or wicked reminder.  I generally prefer smoke bomb because it isn’t as disruptive to my duellist flurries in my rotation.  Remember that most of our damage on bosses comes from duellist flurry.  If I’m sacrificing DFs for WRs, I’m probably not maximizing my DPS.

For my daily, I’ll use Lurker’s Assault unless there are adds around, then it’s Whirlwind.

I proc bondings and brutality rings with a doohickey, pop my wheel of elements, run in, sly flourish, smoke bomb (or ITC) > stealth > Dazing Strike > Lurker’s Assault > Lashing blade > duellist flurry >stealth >dazing strike , etc.

If your stealth isn’t back quite yet, I’d do another round of sly flourish.

If your daily comes back and you have only 10 seconds left on your wheel cooldown, I’d wait for it to maximize the burst.

I would use ITC as much as possible if it is slotted, and worry mainly about fitting it seamlessly into my rotation in between powers and worry less about trying to pop it only when the boss looks like he’s about to squash you.

If my daily isn’t up, I run through a little different rotation: sly flourish > smoke bomb (or ITC) > stealth > lashing blade > dazing strike > duellist flurry.  The reason I switch up lashing blade for dazing strike is because, even at 95% crit, there is a chance you won’t crit with that next attack without stealth, so you want to be sure to crit with your strongest attack.  You get the advantage of the sly flourish debuff, the ticks off of smoke bomb count towards your Shadows of Demise, and you can get some good damage in, even without your daily.

If you are fortunate enough to have a legendary mount and the Cavalry’s warning mount insignia power, I wouldn’t pop it at the same time as your wheel.  I pop it when my wheel cooldown gets half way.  That way, I have my buffs going at different times and don’t put all my eggs in one basket in case of interruption.

Here is a problem I run into occasionally at Orcus and against the Demogorgan:  I’m doing a ton of damage and, because of life steal, I’m healing a lot.  Suddenly, I agro the boss.   It’s not good in any case, but with Demo, you have a chance to survive if it’s at the very end.  Not so much, with Orcus.  If he hits you, you fall.  Both will turn towards you before they wack you, so you have a chance, if you are watching for it, to dodge out of the way.  With Orcus, you just gotta wait until the tank gets the agro back again., then go to town.  At any rate, dodge becomes your best friend when you become the target.

Scenario 5 Support/DPS: Usually, everyone can handle the mobs.  Nearly every class has something they can do to damage/control mobs.  But, bosses are another matter.  I can carry any group through Lostmauth.  Even if they all die in one hit a piece, I can still carry them.  But, that won’t work for us in all dungeons.  Places like FBI or MSVA require a certain amount of synergy to help everyone (including yourself) to complete the dungeon.  This requires some flexibility.

If the party has a tank that is having a hard time surviving, I slot Courage Breaker to help reduce the damage the boss is doing.  If you have multiple rogues, this can be especially effective.  And, although you are giving up a bit of DPS, you can still do hella damage if you have proper buffers in your group.  I ran a MSVA the other day and procced Shadows of Demise for over 3 million damage using Courage Breaker.  That means in 6 seconds, I did over 9 million damage.  Not too shabby!

If the party doesn’t quite have the DPS to take the boss down before the party gets killed, take smoke bomb or Lashing Blade out and replace it with Wicked Reminder.  That helps everyone’s DPS.  This is also particularly useful against bosses with tons of HP, or very powerful mobs, like the approach to FBI.

This isn’t perfect, by any means, and you may have better rotations that are more effective than what I use.  Please share!  Like I said, there is more one path up the TR mountain.




Enchantments 101

So, this subject has been beaten to death all over the place, but not always explained very well.  So, here is my stab at it:

Part of gearing up your character is deciding on which enchantments to use and upgrading those enchantments.  If you are gearing up, and are looking for, say, life steal, a lot of the time you are going to grab that dark and put it on your companion with bondings.  Let’s say you want to maximize your deflect as well.  So, you put silvery enchantments in all your defense slots on your character.

I used to do this, BTW, and it isn’t a terrible way to go.  But, when you get to the end game, you really should take a look at enchantments that give you 2 (or three) stats.  The total number of stats you get on enchantments with one stat, is 700.  On 2 stat enchantments, 840.  3 stats, 920.  Well, you say, that’s great, but I really need life steal more than deflect, and if I swap out my darks for double stat enchantments, like vicious enchantments (life steal + deflect), I may be getting more stat numbers, but I’m getting 280 less life steal on my bondings per enchantment.  Well, yes, but take a closer look.

We’ll use an example on my character.  I have 2 defense slots on my bonding companion, and 4 defense slots on my character.  If we have 2 rank 12 darks on my companion with rank 12 bondings, I get 300% of those enchantments, or 4200 (1400 * 3) life steal.  On my character, with rank 12 silveries, I get 2800 (700 * 4) deflect.

Now, let’s see what happens if we swap all of them out with rank 12 vicious enchantments (420 deflect + 420 life steal).

For life steal, we get 2520 (840 *3) from my companion with bondings, and an additional 1680 (420 * 4) from the defense slots on my character.  That gives me a total of 4200 life steal which is identical to what I was getting from the darks on my companion with bondings.

For deflect, however, we get a lot more.  The math is identical to what I just did for life steal, so we end up with 4200 deflect as well.  That is 1400 more deflect than we had before, so it’s a definite advantage over the single stat enchantments I was using.

Now, you look at frost goblins like:


Well, it’s actually 3.5% more deflect, but you get the idea.

This principle works for you well with other stats as well.  For example, if you are fortunate enough to be in a guild that gives you an extra 8000 power as a boon, you can probable replace all those radiants you’ve been carrying around for something like  cruel enchantments (power + recovery), and give a significant boost to your recovery.  Or, if your crit is low, go with brutals (power + crit).  Or, even better, go with Black Ice enchantments, which at rank 12 gives 460 power, 230 crit, and 230 recovery.

I hope this helps some of the newer players understand why the double stat enchantments are better than single stat enchantments, and why everyone says so.