User:Jdavis/Swords

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This page, commonly called Bopp's Sword Guide, tells you just about everything you need to know about playing with swords in the Clockworks. The advice applies to pure sworders and to people who use swords on the side, whether they're free-to-play or pay-to-play. You should also check out the semi-official Swordmaster Guide, although that guide erroneously (in my opinion) focuses on sword feel rather than damage type and size.

Basic Concepts

Considerations in Choosing a Sword

The primary consideration in choosing a sword (or handgun) is its damage type: normal, piercing, elemental, or shadow. Each monster family is resistant to one damage type, vulnerable to one damage type, and neutral to the other two. Hitting a monster with its vulnerable damage type gives you a small bonus (roughly 20% for end-game swords), while hitting a monster with its resistant damage incurs a large penalty (roughly 80%).

Monster Family Vulnerable To Neutral To Resistant To
Gate Icon-Slime.png Slimes shadow elemental, normal piercing
Gate Icon-Gremlin.png Gremlins shadow piercing, normal elemental
Gate Icon-Beast.png Beasts piercing shadow, normal elemental
Gate Icon-Fiend.png Fiends piercing elemental, normal shadow
Gate Icon-Undead.png Undead elemental piercing, normal shadow
Gate Icon-Construct.png Constructs elemental shadow, normal piercing

All monsters are neutral to normal damage. If you intend to use only one sword, then you might want a normal sword; see the Mixing Weapon Types section below. If you plan on using two or three swords at once, then work on one piercing sword, one elemental sword, and/or one shadow sword. Even with only two non-normal damage types, you can deliver extra damage to 4/6 of monsters. For example, if you're carrying elemental and piercing, then use elemental on constructs, undead, and slimes, and use piercing on beasts, fiends, and gremlins. You never incur a resistance penalty.

After damage type, the next most important consideration is probably size. Wide, long swings help you hit fast, dodging enemies, and may let you hit multiple enemies at once, which greatly increases your damage output. In this guide, each sword swing is rated as either short or long, and as either narrow, wide, or 360-degree. The scale is different for regular attacks and charge attacks; a short charge attack may be longer than a long regular attack.

Speed and knockback are also important considerations. Speed makes fast enemies easier to hit, and improves your defense by helping you interrupt monsters, shield, and dodge. Knockback greatly aids defense, especially in crowded rooms. However, you must take care not to knock monsters into your teammates. Due to speed and knockback, different swords can actually feel different to the player. There is no reason to restrict yourself to one feel. In battle, I have no problem switching feels every few seconds.

Damage type, width, length, and speed all contribute to the monster-killing efficiency of a sword in different ways. For example, the guild Lancer Knightz has measured the damage per second (DPS) arising from comboing swords. However, other measures of damage output may be more useful in some situations. Furthermore, these damage numbers ignore status effects — fire, freeze, shock, curse, poison, and stun — which can dramatically enhance one's fighting (except for fire on oilers and shock on quicksilvers).

Mixing Weapon Types

As with swords, damage type is the primary consideration in choosing a handgun, or a mix of swords and guns. You want to carry two or three non-normal damage types and deploy them against the correct monsters to optimize your damage. For example, Combuster and Blitz Needle are a powerful combination throughout the Clockworks, and especially in Firestorm Citadel.

A player who uses just one sword and one gun might reasonably choose to make both normal, so that she could use both on all targets. Or she could adopt a balanced approach of Iron Slug and two or three swords to choose among based on the level.

Any bomb can complement a set of swords, but crowd-control bombs such as Voltaic Tempest, Shivermist Buster, Graviton Vortex, Electron Vortex, and Obsidian Crusher are especially popular. Once the monsters are trapped, you can hit them with a sword charge attack. Note well, however, that some swords do not charge fast enough for you to charge into your own vortex.

5-Star Items and Heating

With the exception of Swiftstrike Buckler and Black Kat armors, all of the best items in the game are 5-star. And there are some dead-end alchemy paths (e.g., Winmillion), which don't reach 5 stars. So, even if you're currently at 2 stars, you should always plan your equipment in terms of 5-star items. Once you know which 5-star items you want, look back in their alchemy paths, to figure out how to get them.

Heat has a big effect on weapons' CTR and damage. (A 4-star weapon at heat level 10 puts out about as much damage as a 5-star weapon at heat level 8.) Unfortunately, 5-star items are difficult to heat, due to the scarcity of radiant fire crystals. My advice is not to upgrade a 4-star weapon until you have enough fire crystals to take the 5-star version to at least heat level 5, or maybe even heat level 8. In contrast, armor doesn't benefit much from heating, so upgrade it as soon as you can, and heat it after your weapons.

Summary of Swords

Here is a summary of all of the 5-star swords, excluding reskins. The fields are

  • Damage: damage type.
  • SPC: strokes per combo.
  • Combo: average width (wide W vs. narrow N vs. 360-degree T), average length (long L vs. short S), and status effect.
  • Charge: width, length, and status.
  • Style: the play style of the sword (not necessarily its alchemy path).
  • Obtain: boss, mission, PvP, etc. required to obtain this weapon or its precursors.
  • Opinion: my view of the primary strength or purpose of the sword, that might lead you to choose it over other swords.
Name Damage SPC Combo Charge Style Obtain Opinion
Leviathan Blade normal 3 NS TS Calibur all-purpose for hybrid knights
C. I. Vanquisher normal 3 NS TS Calibur outclassed by Leviathan Blade
Celestial Saber normal 3 NS TS stun Calibur E. P. Box
Sweet Dreams normal 3 NS TS stun Calibur S. P. Box
Amputator normal 3 NS NL Brandish outclassed by Acheron?
D. Venom Striker normal 5 NS poison NS poison Cutter
W. Hunting Blade normal 5 NS NS Cutter
Sudaruska normal 2 WL WL stun Troika
Triglav normal 2 WL freeze WL freeze Troika K. Coins
B. Thorn Blade piercing 3 WS WS Flourish F. Fangs fiends, beasts
Final Flourish piercing 3 WS NL Flourish fiends, beasts
F. Rigadoon piercing 3 WS stun NL stun Flourish outclassed by Final Flourish
F. Flamberge piercing 3 WS fire NL fire Flourish outclassed by Final Flourish
W. R. Hammer elemental 3 WL WL Troika+ OCH knockback-resistant targets
Divine Avenger elem+norm 2 WL WL Sealed J. Gems undead, constructs (multiple, charge)
Fang of Vog elem+norm 3 NS fire TS fire Calibur A. Seals charge attack
Combuster elem+norm 3 NS NL fire Brandish undead, constructs (single, charge)
Glacius elem+norm 3 NS NL freeze Brandish undead, constructs (single, charge)
Voltedge elem+norm 3 NS NL shock Brandish K. Coins undead, constructs (single, charge)
Obsidian Edge shad+norm 3 NS NL poison Brandish A. Sigils slimes, gremlins (single, charge)
Acheron shad+norm 3 NS NL Brandish slimes, gremlins (single, charge)
Gran Faust shad+norm 2 WL curse NL curse Sealed J. Gems slimes, gremlins (multiple, defensive)

Piercing, Elemental, Shadow

Remember that, if you're into swords, then you want to own a piercing sword, an elemental sword, and a shadow sword. The following subsections offers direct comparisons within each damage type. I try to present the objective facts, followed by semi-objective analysis of their implications, followed by my subjective opinion. The columns are:

  • First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth: Width, length, damage, and status for each stroke of the combo (damage+0, heat level 10, depth 28, vulnerable enemies).
  • SPM: Strokes per minute when comboing as fast as possible (ASI+6).
  • DPS: Damage per second from comboing as fast as possible (ASI+6, damage+0, heat level 10, depth 28, vulnerable enemies).
  • Charge: Width, length, and status for the charge attack.
  • CPM: Charges per minute (CTR+6, ASI+6).
  • Move: movement speed while charging — fast (normal running speed), medium (about 10% slower), or slow (about 20% slower).

Piercing Swords

Name First Second Third SPM DPS Charge CPM Move
Barbarous Thorn Blade WS 285 NS 285 NL 340 120 607 WS 23 medium
Final Flourish WS 285 NS 285 NL 340 120 607 NL 19 medium
Fearless Rigadoon WS 240 stun NS 240 stun NL 289 stun 120 513 NL stun 19 medium
Furious Flamberge WS 240 fire NS 240 fire NL 289 fire 120 513 NL fire 19 medium

Facts: Final Flourish and BTB are identical in their regular attacks. BTB's charge attack spews a short, wide shower of thorns; it can disrupt and moderately damage a crowd of monsters. In contrast, Final Flourish's charge attack is essentially a more powerful version of its regular combo; it lunges into one monster (or a tight crowd), damaging it heavily. Fearless Rigadoon and Furious Flamberge are identical to Final Flourish, but sacrifice some damage for the ability to inflict status effects. BTB's charge has a shorter cool-down period than the others do. Because it cannot be mass-crafted at 2 stars, BTB is a bit harder to get unique variants on.

Implications: The first stroke, being fast and wide, is extremely useful; against fiends, it is often wise to use just the first stroke. The third stroke benefits greatly from auto-targeting, due to its distinctive lunging motion. These swords kill piercing-vulnerable monsters so quickly that there is usually not much point in also inducing a status; you would rather just have as much damage as possible.

The BTB charge is a bit safer, because it disrupts the attacks of several monsters, while the Final Flourish charge can leave the user exposed. Generally, the Final Flourish charge does a lot of damage to one target while the BTB charge does lower damage against multiple targets. However, the BTB charge can do a lot of damage if the target is close, and the Final Flourish charge can hit multiple enemies if they are tightly clustered.

Opinion: Final Flourish and BTB are equally good. Furious Flamberge and FR seem less good.

Elemental Swords

Name First Second Third SPM DPS Charge CPM Move
W. Rocket Hammer WL 340 NS 240 WL 403 90 492-733 WL 13 slow
Divine Avenger WL 328 WL 445 74 477 WL 20 slow
Fang of Vog NS 266 fire NS 266 fire NS 345 fire 96 468 TS fire 18.5 fast
Combuster NS 292 NS 292 NS 382 117 628 NL fire 23 fast
Glacius NS 292 NS 292 NS 382 117 628 NL freeze 23 fast
Voltedge NS 292 NS 292 NS 382 117? 628? NL shock 23? fast?

Facts: In regular attacks, Combuster, Glacius, and Voltedge enjoy high speed and single-target DPS. DA and WRH enjoy superior width, length, and knockback. WRH's second stroke lunges dramatically, hitting knockback-resistant enemies as many as three times. FoV's raw speed, size, and damage are mediocre, but it can inflict fire on every stroke. In charge attacks, Combuster, Glacius and Voltedge emit a line of explosions, that cause fire, freeze, or shock; these swords are identical except in their charge attack statuses. You move at reduced speed while charging DA or WRH. The DA charge is a big swing that spews three projectiles. The WRH charge is two huge downward swings with large area and knockback. Fang of Vog's 360-degree charge attack does huge damage to monsters, sets them on fire, and often sets the user on fire.

Implications: Against tightly clustered enemies, DA's and WRH's longer reach and wider swing mean that they can hit multiple enemies at once, potentially doing high total damage. However, completing a combo against multiple enemies without getting hit requires care. DA's and WRH's high knockback aids defense in tight, crowded fights. WRH's lunging combo is dangerous around traps, but can facilitate simultaneous attacking and dodging. Shield-cancelling WRH after the second stroke results in massive DPS against knockback-resistant enemies. The WRH charge leaves you exposed.

Among the three Brandishes, Glacius' freeze is useful for crowd control, and it does some damage upon thawing, but it hinders kiting, shield-bumping, and knockback. Voltedge's shock disrupts monsters somewhat, and it does some damage, especially since shock does area-damage to close monsters. Combuster's fire is useful for extra damage, but offers no crowd control. Freeze and shock can prevent a monster from riding the entire charge attack for full damage; fire does not have this defect. Although the monsters in Firestorm Citadel are largely immune to fire, FoV and the Combuster charge still do damage — just not status.

Opinion: All of these swords are good, but Combuster and WRH are the strongest. Combuster is easy, while WRH has a unique play style that is hard to master and hence more interesting. FoV is a utility weapon, for charging only.

Shadow Swords

Name First Second Third SPM DPS Charge CPM Move
Obsidian Edge NS 292 NS 292 NS 382 117 628 NL poison 23 fast
Acheron NS 328 NS 328 NS 445 117 716 NL 23 fast
Gran Faust WL 328 WL 445 curse 72 464 NL curse 15 slow

Facts: Acheron and Obsidian Edge enjoy high speed and single-enemy DPS, but Obsidian trades some damage for poison. GF enjoys superior width, length, and knockback, and it can curse monsters. GF takes a conspicuously long time to charge, you move at reduced speed while charging, and the charge attack can curse you.

Implications: Against tightly clustered enemies, GF's longer reach and wider swing mean that it can hit multiple enemies at once, potentially doing high total damage. However, completing a combo against multiple enemies without getting hit requires care, so this is not really a route to high DPS. GF's higher knockback aids defense in tight, crowded fights. GF's monster curse is useful against large enemies (Royal Jelly, lichen colonies), but small enemies do not usually live long enough for it to be useful. GF's user curse is somewhere between irritating and dangerous. When it doesn't kill monsters outright, Obsidian's ability to spread poison is helpful in party play.

Opinion: Acheron and Obsidian are fairly balanced. Acheron is easier to get, so just get Acheron, unless you already have Obsidian. GF is not as good, but I use it occasionally — for example, to keep crowds at bay in Compound 42.

Normal

Are you sure that you want a normal sword? Maybe you'd be happier with two non-normal swords, or with a piercing sword and an elemental gun? No? Okay, here are some comparisons among normal swords.

Name First Second Third Fourth Fifth SPM DPS Charge CPM Move
DVS NS 175 psn NS 175 psn NS 175 psn NS 175 psn NS 221 psn 145 445 NS psn 19 fast
WHB NS 175 NS 175 NS 175 NS 175 NS 221 135 414 NS 16.5 fast
Leviathan NS 203 NS 203 NS 258 117 432 TS 22.5 fast
CIV NS 186 NS 186 NS 238 120 407 TS 22.5 fast
Sudaruska WL 288 WL 321 64 325 WL stun 15.5 slow
Triglav WL 288 WL 321 frz 64? 325? WL frz 15.5? slow?

Leviathan Blade vs. Cold Iron Vanquisher

Facts: Cold Iron Vanquisher does less base-line damage than Leviathan Blade, but comes with a High damage bonus against undead. Levi's charge attack knocks back more than CIV's does.

Implications: Against non-undead targets, Levi simply does more damage per hit. Against undead targets, which sword does more damage depends on the amount of damage bonus being applied from other sources (armor, shield, trinkets, UVs). At None, Low, Medium, and High damage bonus, CIV out-damages Levi against undead. At greater levels of damage bonus, Levi starts catching up to CIV against undead, because damage bonus cannot go over Maximum!. At Ultra or Maximum! damage bonus from other sources, Levi out-damages CIV even against undead. The high knockback of Levi's charge attack is good for defense, but it can disrupt teammates when used badly. Against light enemies, CIV's charge is more likely to hit three times, and therefore may do more total damage.

Opinion: Levi is better in most situations.

Dread Venom Striker vs. Wild Hunting Blade

Facts: Dread Venom Striker and Wild Hunting Blade do equal base-line damage. WHB comes with a High damage bonus against beasts, while DVS can poison its targets. DVS is slightly faster than WHB. Both swords have long charge attacks that leave the user exposed, but WHB's charge attack interrupts monsters much more than does DVS'. Any piercing sword does far more damage against beasts than WHB does, and with wider, longer swings.

Implications: Due to its speed and poison, DVS out-damages WHB against everything but beasts. WHB out-damages DVS against beasts when not much damage bonus is applied. At Maximum! damage bonus, DVS out-damages WHB even against beasts. DVS's poison is useful against most monsters — especially ones that heal, such as the Royal Jelly. WHB's charge attack is somewhat safer than DVS'.

Opinion: DVS is better. Indeed, WHB has been made largely obsolete by the piercing swords and the weakening of the wolver AI. WHB deserves some kind of update.

Sudaruska vs. Triglav

Facts: Sudaruska inflicts stun on the charge only, while Triglav inflicts freeze on the charge and on the second stroke of the combo. Both swords enjoy great length, width, and knockback in regular attacks (identical to Divine Avenger and Gran Faust). Both swords deliver a big charge attack that leaves the user exposed but knocks monsters away.

Implications: If Triglav successfully freezes its target, then the freeze prevents the target from being knocked back. Freeze and stun are both powerful statuses with drawbacks in certain situations. Freeze hinders knockback, shield-bumping, kiting, etc. Stun can also hinder kiting.

Opinion: I have never used Triglav, but I think that stun is under-rated and freeze is over-rated, so I vote for Sudaruska.

Other Comparisons

Remember that you should always plan in terms of 5-star items, not 2- or 3-star items. And damage type is the major consideration in choosing a sword. So the comparisons in this subsection make no sense in my world view. However, so many people ask about them that I have to say something.

Troika vs. Sealed Sword

Facts: The 5-star versions of Troika and Sealed Sword do various kinds of damage and hence are not directly comparable. In regular attacks, they all have the same width, length, and knockback, but Divine Avenger and Gran Faust swing faster than Sudaruska and Triglav. The Troika-style charge attack slams down on the monsters from above, while the Sealed-style charge attack launches one or three projectiles that plow through the monsters.

Opinion: If you are a gunner or bomber who wants a single sword for all emergencies, then consider Sudaruska, Triglav, and Leviathan Blade. If you are a sworder or a gunner-sworder, then do not get any Troika-line sword, but strongly consider Divine Avenger or Gran Faust, to complement the damage types of your other weapons.

Divine Avenger vs. Gran Faust

Facts: Divine Avenger and Gran Faust inflict different damage types and hence are not directly comparable. DA's charge attack does more total damage. GF's charge attack can inflict curse on monsters, but it can also curse the user. Contrary to the statistics bars displayed on these items, GF is not faster than DA.

Opinion: If you have already decided that you are going to craft either DA or GF, then choose the one that complements your other weapons' damage types. In the case of a tie, choose DA, because DA is about as good as any elemental sword, whereas GF is not quite as good as Acheron.

Calibur vs. Brandish

Facts: The 5-star versions of Calibur and Brandish do various kinds of damage and hence are not directly comparable. The Calibur-style charge attack can hit several monsters up to three times, with large knockback. The Brandish-style charge attack hits one monster (or a tight crowd) once, with up to five additional damage bursts, depending on the star-level of the Brandish.

Opinion: If you are a gunner or bomber who wants a single sword for all emergencies, then consider Leviathan Blade, Sudaruska, and Triglav. If you are a sworder, then do not get any Calibur-line sword, but strongly consider Combuster/Glacius/Voltedge/Acheron/Obsidian Edge, to complement the damage types of your other swords. Also strongly consider the Brandishes if you use a mixture of swords and guns.

Armor, Shields, Trinkets, Perks

In Tier 3, even the strongest armor lets through lots of damage. To stay alive, one must avoid getting hit. Thus, most advanced players favor armor, shields, trinkets, and perks that give offensive bonuses, even at the cost of some defense. Damage bonus against all enemies (six monster families, Vanaduke, and PvP) is especially valuable, in that it cannot be replicated by UVs. On the other hand, the practical value of damage bonus is sensitive to your tactical situation; it may increase your kills per second dramatically or not at all. In contrast, ASI, CTR, and MSI are always slightly helpful.

Here are the armors and shields that give sword bonuses. The D column describes the difficulty of obtaining the item, from 1 (regular difficulty) to 5 (extreme difficulty). Other popular shields for sworders are Grey Owlite Shield, Crest of Almire, and Volcanic Plate Shield.

Name Damage Bonuses Fi Fr Sh Po St Cu D
Skolver Coat/Cap norm+pier sword dam+2 fr+4 1/1
Vog Cub Coat/Cap norm+elem sword ASI+2 fi+4 1/1
Chaos Cloak/Cowl norm+elem dam+2, CTR+2 fi-2 fr-2 sh-2 po-2 cu-2 1/1
Snarbolax Coat/Cap norm+shad sword dam+2 fr+3 po+3 3/3
Black Kat Cowl/Raiment norm+shad dam+3, MSI+1 fi-2 fr+4 sh-2 po-2 cu-4 4/5
Black Kat Hood (3*) norm+shad dam+3, MSI+1 fi-2 fr+2 sh-2 po-2 cu-4 2
Kat Claw Cowl/Raiment norm+shad swd dam+1, swd ASI+1 fr+4 sh-2 cu-1 2/5
Heav. Iron Armor/Helm norm+shad swd dam+1, fnd dam+1 sh-4 cu+4 3/3
Armor/Crown of Fallen norm+shad ASI+1, fiend dam-2 fi+4 po+4 cu-4 1/1
Barb. Thorn Shield norm+pier sword dam+2 1
Swiftstrike Buckler (3*) norm ASI+3 1

New players should focus on these options:

  • Vog Cub: Decent offense. Strong defense, because ASI aids defense, and elemental and fire threats are prevalent, especially in Firestorm Citadel.
  • Skolver: Stronger offense, because blanket damage bonuses cannot be achieved through UVs. Mediocre defense, because piercing is arguably the least important damage protection, and freeze often has little practical value.
  • Chaos: Outstanding, overpowered offense. Terrible defense, because of the status weaknesses. Skill and/or status UVs are required.
  • Black Kat Hood (3*): Outstanding, overpowered offense. Terrible defense, because of the status weaknesses and poor health. Skill and/or status UVs are required.

Snarbolax and Black Kat are also great but hard to obtain. Kat Claw, Heavenly Iron, and Fallen are less useful. Consider building a general-purpose armor set before building more specialized sets. Perhaps obtain Ash Tail Coat/Cap, upgrade one piece to Vog Cub, and then upgrade the other to Skolver. For more information on other armors, consult my armor guide.

Final Thoughts

A knight's goal is to kill monsters, but a player's goal is to have a good time. For example, some players equip crummy armor, because they enjoy the challenge. In my opinion, some of the weaker swords (Sudaruska, Dread Venom Striker) are really fun. So try a variety of swords and use what you like. This guide exists, just to help you understand the tradeoffs you're making.

Thanks to Lancer Knightz for data, Trying for vandalism repair, and the rest of the Arsenal Forum regulars for enlightening discussion. Happy travels.

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