Dagger and Sword-Mage Guide

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Dagger and Sword-Mage Guide
March 15th, 2013, 11:58 pm

BASICS
The Sword-Mage is a combination of two classes, and the only realistically viable hybrid class in WKC2. This is due to dagger's boosts to both STR and MAG, and the availability of a multitude of buffs and skills. For notes on the individual parts of the build; Sword and Mage, see Kosmos' Sword/Shield guide and Rhapsody's Mage guide. The point of a dagger will not be to do high damage, on either the physical or magical end; the pure builds will outdo you. What a Sword-Mage will bring to the team is a high amount of variability, on a very survivable class. The Sword-Mage has the most options available for armor, skills, and play style, so this guide will only outline my specific experiences and suggestions. However, if big numbers are what you want, look elsewhere, as a Sword-Mage will NOT accomplish this.

KEY TO USING A DAGGER
A dagger's greatest asset will be its speed. Under the same conditions, a dagger's turn will be a half a second faster than a regular sword's, or a staff's turn. This should be used to your advantage; being faster means you will get more actions in, which helps to make up for the lower damage you deal. Combined with a proper armor set, you will get more turns in than anyone else on your team, making you valuable as a supporter, attacker, or even tank. If you want a class that is incredibly fast outside of Bow, this is the one for you.

SKILLS
Proper use of skill points will be tricky, as you need to invest into Sword, Divine magic, and Elemental magic. Knowing how you want to play will help you do this, but in general, you'd want the following:
-Enough skills from Sword to be an efficient attacker, such as twin blades, mana leech, and all 4 buff stances.
-All the magic from Divine up to lore; and additional what you feel is best for your build. Remember that your casting is slower than a staff; so long spells like +Heal 4 will not likely be useful.
-All the elemental magic up to Lore, because even if you aren't using +Final Apocalypse and the high tier AoE, the MP cost reduction is very useful, along with all the passives.

STRATEGY
A Sword-Mage is all about speed and flexibility. Your job is to fit the party's gaps and work around what the party lacks. As such, you will most likely have 2 sets of gear, one boosting your INT for magic, and one to boost STR and DEX for physical, switching as needed. Doing low damage very quickly will result in very little attention being drawn to you, but do not forget to heal, favor, and have enough def/agi/res for your rank. But being the fastest weapon type in the game, your strategies should boil down to the following:
-For physical damage, using the 4mp attacks for speed, you will do quite a bit of damage over time. This will also save you from having to restore MP often, like an axe or longsword would. You should also debuff the enemy and buff yourself as quickly as possible, a dagger will get these off faster than other non-staff classes. A combo also helps greatly, being fast means a lot of AC to use.
-For magical damage, you can use Tier 2 spells to do less damage, but they are faster and cheaper than Tier 3 magic. However, you will not be able to one-shot any small mobs with tier 2(Though I rarely do with Tier 3 magic anyway, so the point is null)
-Support should be one of your main concerns either way, as your small attacks may be quick, but their damage is minimal. Helping the main damage dealers is more beneficial than stabbing away.

GEAR
Unfortunately, no dagger gets a critical hit boost like Cleavers, or the Lux and TK swords. This means there is no clear option on a superior weapon. The Hihiirokane dagger offers a high amount of MP (just over 80) and INT, while the Assassin and Arahabki offer a good amount of AGI and some VIT. Pick a weapon based on how you prefer to play, and what gear you use.
For armors, as suggested earlier, you need an INT set and a STR/DEX set, without sparing defensive stats. I suggest using 2 to 3 pieces of AGI, or 2 pieces of high def/vit gear. Then you can swap out 2 pieces of DEX or STR, and 2 pieces of INT as needed. In addition, in a full set of light gear, a heavy shield is a viable option. Not recommended, but it can work. Full light armor with a dagger and heavy shield is a turn speed of roughly 2.6 seconds. A standard sword in full medium with a light shield is roughly 2.7 seconds. Use whatever gear makes you feel most confident. I personally use:
-Sensui Top/Bold top
-Ashura Hands
-Ashura Pants/Wraith Chaps
-Hachiman's Leggings
Any similar combination should work just as well, and preference is very deciding with such a variable class.

COMMAND BAR
There are two ways to do this: A single all-purpose bar that you change as needed, or two individualized bars using the Sub-command system.
An all purpose bar would look like this, mine is an example:

Mana Leech, Back Slash, Helm Buster, Windup Thrust, Twin Blades, Daredevil Stance, Warlock Stance
Dragonfire, Icebreaker, Lightning Bolt, Rock Skewer, Eclipse Gate, Arm Breaker, Shield Breaker
Refresh, Heal 3, Healing Breeze 2, Raise, Haste, Slow, 6 AC slash combo

If you were to do it as 2 commands bars, I would suggest this:
Melee Bar
Mana Leech, Back Slash, Helm Buster, Windup Thrust, Twin Blades, Daredevil Stance, Sentinel Stance
Raid, Sky Smasher, Moon Slash, Raging Blade, Arm Breaker, Shield Breaker, Slash combo
Holy Light, Heal 3, Healing Breeze 2, Refresh, Raise, Haste, Slow

Magic Bar
Mana Leech, Dragonfire, Icebreaker, Lightning Bolt, Rock Skewer, Warlock Stance, Guardian Stance
Eclipse Gate, Conflagration, Inundation, Electrocution, Disintegration, Arm Breaker, Shield Breaker
+Final Apocalypse, Heal 3, Healing Breeze 2, Raise, Refresh, Haste, Slow
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Paznos
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Re: Dagger and Sword-Mage Guide
March 18th, 2013, 1:09 pm

That's a good guide Paznos. I'll add my opinion that Swordmage is fun to play, but is almost a broken class.

It's the most clear example of how the Sword and shield provides a player with a way to be a bit of everything, but not do it very well. Sadly I think the one area where Sword mage is particularly disadvantaged is casting speed/MP cost. The Dagger prowess skills really should have had some impact on casting speed and/or MP cost. Something along the lines of Dagger Prowess 3 giving the same effect as the lowest Staff proficiency skills in terms of casting speed and MP efficiency. Without that, a Swordmage is left only with the benefit of Spirit Lore which for tier 4 magic is of negligible benefit. 81 points or 90 points, those tier 4 AoE attacks are going to eat your MP in a very short time - if you can use them, remember how poor the casting time is.

Wishful thinking aside, I feel like the swordmage is at a major disadvantage compared to a pure mage, more so than the Sword is compared to Axe, LongSword or even Spear (Sword has access to the Shield prowess spear passive skills after all). Because of that Shion plays this class very differently. She carries 3 weapons, a shield and a primary armor set, along with 3 pieces to swap, and an accessory to swap. She also carries 2 Charge drink 2s. The reason being that I absolutely hate the horrible inefficiency of the Swordmage as a mage. I feel that Sword on it's own can work as a damage dealing support class, but Swordmages just pale into insignificance against a Mage armed with a staff. So, Shion will carry a shield, proper sword, dagger and staff. Right now She is level 80 GR21. When she hits GR26 and has her rebirths done, she will operate as a Sword mage by default, wielding Sword and shield, and switching to dagger for tier 2 or 3 elemental attacks. However she'll still carry a staff, and switch to that if the situation merits it, using a charge 2 to give a couple of AC immediately after the switch.

Of course Shion's disadvantage is that she doesn't have the SP to get the passives that a dedicated Sword can get. She's more of a mage with Sword skills, it's a nice set up for a player to solo the game and mess around with. But, Sword mage performance with a dagger is weak both in melee and magic, and if you go with the Mage + sword skillset like Shion, Swordmage is handicapped by the passives that are missing. Shion plays it as either being a Mage with some sword skills as backup, or as a Sword player with some Mage skills as backup.

To be perfectly frank I think that the sheer cost and casting time of tier 4 and higher magic makes their use prohibitively expensive for anyone not carrying a staff. So you're left to the tier 3 stuff, which saves you a bunch of skill points in the elemental tree (can't take FA, or Spirit Lore, and no point in Soul Drain at all). That still allows all the INT and MP passives from the elemental tree.

If you're not dual classing like Shion, and therefore avoid the expensive Staff tree like the plague you could get some useful elemental skills. The tables below assume you want all the passives and realize that the MP benefit of Spirit Lore may not be worth the SP it requires (74 points beyond the minimum skills to get the tier 3 passives in the elemental tree)

Looking at the skills, in my opinion you need to do the following;

Swordmage with minimal mage skills, but including shield prowess
This skillset acknowledges the simple fact that casting time and cost make the tier 4 single attacks, EG, and the tier 3+ group attacks just too darned expensive for a Swordmage to use. It includes all the necessary skills to play as a dedicated Sword - including shield prowess from Spear. The tier 3 elemental attacks do some nice damage with a good dagger. Not on par with a full mage, but still...
[+] Sword mage with minimal mage skills
  • all of sword except the elemental attacks, except mantra, twin aura+, twin edge, twin charge and the 'down' skills - 156 points
  • tier 2 passives Bow - 80 points
  • tier 2 passives Spear and the Shield prowess skills - 96 points
  • tier 2 passives Axe - 76 points
  • tier 2 passives LS - 79 points
  • tier 3 single elemental attacks, tier 2 AoE elemental attacks, all passives, sleep and Poison - 92 points
  • Divine to Divine lore+ Fortify+, Mana Barrier+, haste + and Healing Factor+ - 160 points
  • no Staff skills
Total SP used => 156 + 80 + 96 + 76 + 79 + 92 +160 = 739

Cost 739 SP. For the 21 points left over I'd recommend taking all the elemental shields, which will leave a single point unused.

Alternately, Swordmage with moderate Elemental skills including EG
This build accepts the penalty of casting time and cost for the Tier 4 single attacks and EG. Basically it's an exchange of the Shield Prowess skills for EG.
[+] Swordmage with moderate Elemental skills including EG
  • all of sword except the elemental attacks, except mantra, twin edge, twin charge and the 'down' skills - 156 points
  • tier 2 passives Bow - 80 points
  • tier 2 passives Spear - 77 points - no shield passives
  • tier 2 passives Axe - 76 points
  • tier 2 passives LS - 79 points
  • tier 4 single target elemental attacks, tier 2 AoE elements, Eclipse Gate, all passives, sleep and Poison (no shields) - 117 points
  • Divine to Divine lore+ Fortify+, Mana Barrier+, haste+ and Healing Factor+ - 160 points
  • no Staff skills
Total SP used => 156+80+77+76+79+117+160 = 745

Cost 745SP. This skillset leaves 15 points left to use as you wish. Either the tier 1MP passive from Staff, or the single person elemental shields plus twin edge and twin charge on sword would use up the remaining skill points.

Finally, Swordmage with moderate Elemental skills including Spirit Lore
This skillset uses up all your points and provides kind of the best of both worlds. You're still horribly slow at casting tier 4 stuff, but you can fling EG and FA around with the rest of the mages and at least have the benefit of the MP reduction provided by Spirit Lore.
[+] Swordmage with moderate Elemental skills including EG
  • all of sword except the elemental attacks, except mantra, twin edge, twin charge and the 'down' skills - 156 points
  • tier 2 passives Bow - 80 points
  • tier 2 passives Spear - 77 points - no shield passives
  • tier 2 passives Axe - 76 points
  • tier 1 passives LS - 35 points
  • Elemental tree to spirit Lore, excluding, sleep, shackle, soul drain and group shields - 176 points
  • Divine to Divine lore+ Fortify+, Mana Barrier+, haste+ and Healing Factor+ - 160 points
  • no Staff skills
Total SP used => 156+80+77+76+35+176+160 = 760

Cost 760SP

Don't ask me which I think is best, I have yet to try them all... However, I still think the class is broken, though fun to play.

What do you think of the balances being struck in the skillsets above?
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