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Abilities and Tactics A place to discuss SK abilities such as Spells, AA's, and Melee as well as how to best use them.

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Old 04-09-2008, 01:42 PM   #1
Ninaelyan
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Default Basic Guide to soloing for XP as an SK

As said it's a pretty basic rundown on the solo SK, what we do and how we do it and how best to make your solo XP time count. It's primarily written for someone playing as an alt (or possibly a mainswitch). Wrote it for a specific person who's picked up an SK twink for fun but figured it might help someone here who maybe new to the class.


The Shadow Knight is a powerful solo class. To be truely effective as a solo SK, however, one must understand the nature of the beast. SKs have strong solo qualities which should be played up as well as weaknesses that should be minimized.

Key factors which lend to solo effectiveness are primarily distribution of damage and kill rate. While any class generally wants to solo the lowest HP NPCs available this carries a special significance to the SK class.

Healing for a shadowknight is a primarily passive act. Methods of regaining HP are lifetap procs, Epic click, healing potions (if you desire to purchase them, generally I don't), various other clicks (detailed below) direct life taps, Leech Touch, and finally the AA ability Mortal Coil.

Mortal Coil is a unique ability which is powered by kill shots against viable (determined by level) creatures. Each time an SK scores a kill shot there's a chance that Mortal Coil will trigger (roughly 60% chance at maximum aa level). Every time Mortal Coil triggers it will do 2 things, the first is to buff the armor class of the SK, and the second is to grant a fairly potent "lifetap from weapon damage" effect. Most melee will probably be familiar with this effect from SK epic clicks. Each point of weapon damage will be returned to the character as a porportional heal (based on the potency of the effect). In other words with a 50% lifetap from melee damage a 1000 point hit will grant a 500 point heal. At max aa level mortal coil will grant 65% lifetap from weapon damage as well as 66 ac for 1:36 (16 ticks).

With a strong melee damage weapon this can be the most powerful tool at a solo SK's disposal. Assuming said SK pushes out 800 pure melee DPS (discounting proc DPS) this effect will return 520 hp per second while active. Kill rate thus becomes a greatly important factor as the faster you kill the more often the effect is active and the more healing you generate (to a point of diminished return the faster you get where eventually the effect will always be active and then killing faster no longer adds to your healing output).

The SK epic (1.5/2.0/2.5) click is another lifetap from weapon damage effect however unlike mortal coil it's activated (5 minute recast/1 minute duration). It's worth noting that this effect is a group effect, granting an accuracy boost and 50% lifetap from weapon damage to the group and a more potent accuracy buff with 80% lifetap from weapon damage to the SK. Since you are solo the group effect isn't of a great deal of concern but if you have the pet affinity AA this will allow the group portion to hit your pet and can be used to counter any damage your pet might be taking. Used in conjunction with Fortify Companion and Companion's Blessing this effect will greatly aid in your pets survival. It's primary use is going to be working through the hardest pulls in a zone and/or countering any time where mortal coil may not be active (if MC is up the majority of the time and your pet isn't under any considerable risk this is probably the most efficient use of epic).

The SK class also has a number of other useful clicks available. The Anguish BP (or it's group counterpart) is a weak lifetap from weapon damage effect which can be used as a last resort anytime epic or mortal coil aren't up and HP is stressed. The TSS BPs (raid and group) proc an effect called Putrid Skin (later versions have the same name however differ only in the recast of the effect) which grants a considerable defensive proc healing effect and can be used to bolster primary means of self healing. This effect will not stack with the Decrepit/Umbral skin effects and thus at times Umbral skin might be preferable to it's use (alternatively Putrid Skin is mana free so if mana is a key factor it might be preferable to use as it becomes available to save a cast of Umbral). Putrid Skin and it's cousins on the AG/FC raid BP and Solteris BP will generally be preferable to Decrepit Skin and should be used whenever available if you don't possess Umbral Skin Rk. 2/3. A decent but not particularly great click is the Vishimtar/Yar`Lir class belt which will cast a small mana free lifetap.

The second major staple within the SKs healing repertoire (second only to lifetap from weapon damage effects) are random lifetap proc events. At high level these come in 3 flavors, Touch of the Cursed (AA ability, innate) Shroud line (Spell ability, buff) and Thirst line (Spell ability, buff). Touch and Shroud are traditional lifetaps, they do DD and heal for a proportionate value. Thirst line is a unique ability, it does a direct damage and procs a recourse on the SK which grants yet another lifetap from melee damage with a hit restriction. The leechcurse portion of the thirst line effect is rather weak relative to other lifetap from melee damage and in most cases will just be ineffective as MC or epic will be up, it will however take effect anytime another lifetap from weapon damage effect isn't present and add some bonus healing. All 3 proc lines are effected in damage by the Soul Abrasion line of AA, however, Thirst healing won't be effected. With max aa and decent spell/heal mod3 these lines will combine to the tune of 150-200+ damage/healing per second.

Up until now I've only discussed one side of the SK healing coin, passive and non-mana healing. The flipside is direct healing, which in the case of the SK class is, to put it mildly, a rather weak part of our sustained healing output. Direct taps should be viewed only in terms of a last resort/patch heal, other then in cases where it serves as the most efficient means of damage delivery. This is because our direct taps are dreadfully costly and inneffecient, at high level each tap costing around 1k mana and healing for not much more then a single proc on average. Where kills are fast enough that DoTs are rendered inneffective Taps/Nukes provide the bulk of damage output, otherwise taps should be avoided other then where necessary to stay on your feet.

Given an area where kills are reasonably fast and damage is evenly distributed it should be feasible to devote most if not all of your mana resources to damage endeavors. If you are able to maintain a pet it's a reasonably mana free and low maintenance source of consistent damage (you'll only need to haste it occasionally and keep it alive). DoTs should be used provided sufficient focus and sufficient time to do their work.

When kills speed up significantly DoTs become less attractive and taps/nukes/draygun line become the primary source of added damage. In area's where undead are available to kill Fickle Shadows is a reasonable damage spell as it's efficient and fast casting with low (relatively) recast and a built in recourse which will often focus the next cast. In areas where it lands well the Spear line is useful for efficient damage. In areas where creatures are living and disease resistant you'll be reliant on taps and draygun line nukes for damage output.

The primary solo weakness of the SK class is spikey damage output. As our healing is predominantly a fairly consistent flow of procs and lifetap from weapon damage and our direct taps are inefficient and weak it's considerably more draining on resources to heal through damage spikes. Mobs with high attack and DI variables should be avoided at all costs as should mobs with large nuke effects as both will often yield painful spikes that leave you chaining taps to stay ahead, a practice that will quickly leave you tapped out and leads to excessive downtime. AC is basically going to be your God if you want to solo effectively as an SK as the more you have the further weighted hits become towards minimum value, and thus, the more evenly distributed damage will be. Given sufficiently even distribution and adequate tools to deal with incoming DPS direct taps become unnecessary. It's at this level that SK solo becomes it's most effective. Zone choices should reflect this route, it's better to kill light blues that you can dump DPS into and not worry about tapping then to take on something higher level that you'll have to tap through spikes on and take frequent med breaks.
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:36 PM   #2
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You also didn't mention our Leechcurse disc and Remorseless Demeanor for when our lifetaps are unlinked again, nor how/why our LT AA can be used.
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:21 PM   #3
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If you're not an alt, here is what I do.

Never use DOTs, never solo single mobs. Swarm solo lightblues for very fast EXP, let your damage shields do the work for you. Bumrush a bunch of light blue mobs, click epic when you get to 60%. Never make a camp and pull to the camp. That's a waste of time and why most groups suck.

Each mob you kill is going to have about 10% less HP then the previous mob due to good DS. Once epic runs out, click a hot pot if you need heals(carry 100 of both heal pots). By this time 1/3rd of the mobs should be dead, and you should be roughly halfway through killing the mobs(remember the DS stuff?) Keep the mobs directly in front of you so you can get some riposte damage in on all of them. Use taps sparingly and only spend mana on taps.

Rinse and repeat all day long for non stop solo exp. Downtime and having to med means less EXP. If you're in an outdoor zone, use a horse for no melee push.

It is very rare that I can join a group and get exp like this. Groups suck and are a waste of time for EXP, unless you join the perfect supergroup with no AFK's no retards and they got someone who can chain pull.

Hotzones are a perfect place to abuse mass quantities of mobs.
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:25 PM   #4
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This is very useful information. I'm only lvl 67 and been in group mainly so soloing is starting to be new to me. I have been focusing more on AC gear and aa which has helped but exping regular exp has been very very slow. I am either exp'ing in wrong places or as such. I have definitely been drifting away from dots and focusing more on taps and quick dds.
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Old 04-09-2008, 05:02 PM   #5
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As a mid range SK I feel that BLs advice here is more useful to more Sks out there. Nin makes a lot of very good points and explains alot of aspects and techniques, however the idea or using pots and epics to kill multiple light blue mobs seems more useful to the average joe of any level than saying, use your uber ammount of AAs or the clicky from a certain zone.
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:22 PM   #6
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Aside from epic all the other clicks we have available are pretty minor. CoA BP helps for if epic is down and you happen to have it, but it's not particularly great. TSS/TBS BPs again can be nice (though it's weird since recent patches) but again not really necessary.

It's not so much about having an uber number of AAs as the right ones for solo. I personally find Mortal Coil to be just about the greatest single line from a pure solo stand point (it's marginal in a group at best and pretty dismal in a raid). The proc aa are high on the list as well (of course defensives and standard healing aa, but I didn't really mention those since they are just obvious).

DS is a good point that I forgot to mention. Bringing DS pots/clicks and stacking up as much as you can and then pulling as many mobs as you can comfortably handle without downtime (that's an important part of it) is a great idea. I wouldn't go too crazy with it though. It's not really worth it to DS swarm so many that you end up running OOM and having to med. It's better to stick with what you can sustain. The point about not camping is good too, you should find a zone where natural pulls are manageable and move from room to room rather then pulling to a certain point.

I like to go to a hive instance and clear the field, pop LoD and then go room to room and burn my way down the first building, and then up through the platforms and it's pretty easy to squeeze out 4-5 aa over the course of my LoD that way.

Where LoD is concerned I think it's good to stay 60-80 mana through the bulk of your LoD (in case something goes wrong you have enough to keep moving) and then burn your mana down towards the end to squeeze out as many LoD kills as you can.

As a general rule I prefer instanced over non instanced even though it does take 2 additional characters outside the zone, I find when I only have to worry about what I'm doing I never die and I don't have to worry about someone else clearing out a camp I'm moving through or being an ass. No repops is another plus in that column.

Float around though and try different zones, ZEMs differ from zone to zone. Either that or ask someone who solos alot where they go and try some of those suggestions.

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Old 04-09-2008, 06:24 PM   #7
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When going for xp, you want to be looking at the amount of xp you are getting over time. You may be able to kill an individual mob for a lot of xp, but if you are sat medding or waiting for abilities to pop, then its not very efficient. However with the changes to OOC regen, downtime has reduced a lot. I am sure there may be cases where this means you will not be fighting the mobs with lowest hp.

There are a number of different techniques that you can use to solo xp, depending on your gear, level and aa count.

Fear kiting

This is good for lower levels, where mobs can still be feared.
You need an open space, snare and a mob that can be feared. This is faster than agro kiting, but is slightly more dangerous as you can't easily control the path the mob can take.
Pull the mob to a clear area near an edge, so you are less likely to get an add.
Always make sure snare sticks, fear the mob and whack away at its back.
When fear wears off run it back to your start point and start over till its dead.

Agro Kiting

This is good for SKs that don't have decent gear or aa to use other methods.
You need enough space to be able to run a mob back and forth and mobs that can be snared and don't summon. There are lots of places where this is usable, most famous is probably the tables in the plane of fire. The basic premise is that you keep agro on a snared mob and let you pet do damage, the more mana you have you can start to add dots or lifetaps into the mix to kill the mobs faster. When you get better at this, you can often run away from the mob and time the ticks so that you are sitting when they occur, every little helps.
Its not the best source of xp, but is a useful technique if you don't have decent gear or aa.

Unfortunately its also good training for raiding, as some guilds use shadowknights to agro kite mobs.

Tanking
The better your aa and gear, the better mobs you can take or increased efficiency.
This is pretty much the one everybody wants to be doing when soloing. This is your straight up fight, using lifetaps and other abilities as required to keep you alive.

Typical tools:
Heal over time potions
Damage shield potions
Epic
OMM Breastplate clicky (leechcurse type ability)
TSS breastplate clicky (defensive proc)

I have always found that I do more damage over all if I use my lifetaps to keep my life up, dots have been shown to reduce melee dps when you have a decent weapon, if you are straight up tanking you probably have a decent enough weapon that dots shouldn't be used.

If you are using aa like mortal coil, then you want to find areas where you can chain kill without downtime.

When you are geared so that the mobs don't really have a chance to kill you, then swapping your lifetap proc to mental horror to gain back mana, should increase your dps by increasing the amount of mana you have.

When tanking undead use fickle shadow for dps and to increase lifetaps

I have also started using attack tap again, since everything else seemes to be linked.

Fighting swarms.

Requires being slightly overgeared.
Why kill one mob when you can have multiple mobs beating on you.
If the mobs are only tickling you, why not have a whole swarm on you, let your damage shield do most of the work for you. Sometimes with a lot of mobs, you need to control where you are pushed. Finding a corner or using a mount can negate some of this allowing you to continue to cast spells.

This is also the technique used for powerleveling, it got nerfed a lot with the decrepit skin changes. Where possible you get a none damage primary as you don't want to do any damage to the mobs other than by damage shield. You get a swarm of mobs and keep agro with aoe. The person being powerleveled has to damage each mob with at least 1 point of damage, so aoe classes are easier to power level. When the ds kills the mob, the person being powerleveled should get all the xp. If SK is taking too much damage they can always top up with a lifetap. If a caster needs any mana, grouping and using a bite can top up a very low level char quickly.

Killing named

If you are soloing in a specific area for a named then you may want to keep back some of your abilities for when they pop. Typically leechtouch and curse are worth keeping back due to the possibly long recast time.

If the mob dps is a bit too much or you get a bad spike then a common technique is to run off and wait for it to summon you back, keep doing this to give your spells or abilities enough time to refresh.

This is where other tools start to become more useful, such as the willsapper that can proc a slow.

I would start with a potion, since a two minute timer means you may get to click again.
Don't click your epic too soon, as I have found the healing this gives can outstrip mob dps, so its healing benefit can be wasted.
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deccado View Post
You also didn't mention our Leechcurse disc and Remorseless Demeanor for when our lifetaps are unlinked again, nor how/why our LT AA can be used.
Good catches there, Remorseless definately worth using considering it's essentially free (a few more seconds whenever you apply your innates/cloak).

Leechcurse I tend to save as a reserve in case something goes bad, like a rogue runner decided to run into the next room over and bring back more then I'm prepared to deal with. Then I'll Leech, epic when it drops, and pretty much hope that MC/procs/LT/HT can carry me over the top. Other then that it's really got far too long a recast/too short of duration to endear it next to epic or MC.

LT again I like to save for emergencies, though depending how comfortable I am in the zone I might just use it as it's available and I can get the full hit out of it to save on some mana.
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utania View Post
Mortal coil gets a windows rating of D+, C, B, this guide makes it sound better than it is.
It's a question of situation. I rarely see MC in my buff window in a group, it's astronomically rare to see it in a raid and have it matter. In a solo setting where you are killing fast though... it's usually up when I look at my buff window because I'm getting every kill shot basically.
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Old 04-10-2008, 01:11 AM   #10
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I know it also sounds retro, but Dark Constriction is still useful as a tool as well. The DoT portion isn't impressive dps wise, but the debuff portion of the spell can take the edge off some encounters, especially in fights that take close to 1 min(full dot duration) to finish. Personally, I tend to prefer a lower hp mob with higher dps or high DI opposed to a higher hp mob with less spikey dmg, because my expierience always seems to show that the longer the fight, the greater the chance for a mob to land a couple wicked rounds. For example, when SoF came out, I preferred to solo AG over trash in Loping Plains.

On top of that, there's also the usual collection of clickies/toys to fill your bags up with. THO belt, Willsapper, Orb of Duskmold to name a few. A little more hp's and free haste clickie will fill in the holes when you can't find buffs before heading out, or when those buffs wear off. Willsapper is there again as a tool to take the edge off in a longer fight. Golden plated hackle hammer is something to look into as well, more ac and a little hp.

Oh and something I almost always cast when soloing on self buffs, Call of Darkness. If you have any ldon points laying around, grab this spell, more atk, more dps, more heals from the leech curse effects etc... It is a conversion spell, so if you're a little low on hp regen, would need to be a judgement call if it will harm more than help.

And if you do get to pester a mage before heading out, gear up your pet and have the mage cast Rathe's Strength. There's a nifty "bug" with pocketing pets, any aura's on them at the time you pocket them effectively become permanent. So if you want to use your pet more in soloing, increase his DPS and survivability, get monk aura, bard aura and mage aura on him then put him away. Those three will pretty much make him worth keeping out and less worrisome on taking dmg.
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