A Complete Guide to Choosing Your Weapons - Part 2

Written by and adapted with permission of Shannong (US Forums)

One of the most confusing and oft-debated aspects of LOTRO game mechanics is the general question of whether faster or slower weapon setups are "better". Specifically, this usually revolves around a debate about dual-wielded weapons versus 2H weapons, but can also apply to a debate about whether guardians are better-served by 1H + Shield setups versus 2H weapons.

There are six main aspects to this debate:

  • Which setup gives superior auto-attack damage during a short fight: fast or slow weapons?
  • Which is the most important weapon statistic: Speed, DPS, Average Damage, or Max Damage?
  • Which setup is more "power efficient"? In other words, which setup gives you the most damage per point of power expended?
  • Which setup benefits all the "extra swings" and +damage bonus of your weapon-based?
  • What exactly is the interplay between the auto-attack ticks and cool-down timers?
  • Do special damage types trump all of the preceding factors?

Contents - Part 2

Slower, harder-hitting weapons are far more power-efficient

The faster your effective Speed, the faster your auto-attack animations execute, so there is less delay between the activation of your queued active skills. Since all active skills cost the same amount of power regardless of your weapon Speed, this means you will burn power at a much faster rate when using fast 1H or dual-wield weapon setups.

In short fights against single, normal "white" foes or easier, power consumption isn't much of an issue. In longer fights, however, against single "yellow" foes or harder, or against multiple foes, or against signature/elite foes, or in a location with fast respawns, you might be better served with a slow 2H weapon because your power will last longer.

The "extra swings" and +damage bonus of slower weapons are higher with slower weapons, but occur more rapidly with faster weapons

Depending on the weapon-based active skills that you tend to use most often, you might be able to generate more overall damage output by using a slower, harder-hitting weapon. In particular, this comparison applies to dual-wield setups versus 2H weapon setups:

  • A dual-wield setup typically yields far more auto-attack DPS and shorter delays between the execution of your queued-up skills than comparable 2H weapons, so you have high auto-attack DPS and faster-occuring damage from your queued-up skills.
  • Many weapon-based skills have a +damage bonus value that increases with slower weapons. For example skill X might do +17 damage when you are equipped with a 1H weapon of Speed 2.0 or a dual-wield setup that yields an effective Speed of 2.0, but that same skill X might do +30 damage when you are equipped with a 2H weapon of Speed 3.6.
  • Many weapon-based skills effectively generate multiple "swings". For example, skill Y might deliver 3 "main hand" swings of damage, each of which also has a +damage bonus as well. The total damage output of all these multiple "swings" can be much larger with a slow 2H weapon than with a fast 1H weapon. However, there are two addtional factors to consider:
    • Many of these same skills will add in one or more "off-hand" swings when you are dual-wielding, so the gap in damage might be less than if you examine the skill tooltip with only one 1H weapon equipped.
    • A faster weapon setup might actually let you front-load more of those "extra swings" in the same amount of time as a slower 2H weapon. For example, in a dual-wield setup you might be able to generate something like 6 "extra" swings in first 15 seconds of a fight, but a 2H weapon might generate perhaps only 3 "extra" swings in that same 15 seconds. So even though each 2H "swing" is more damaging than the same "swings" in a dual-wield setup, the total of the 3 slower "swings" might be less that the total of the 6 faster "swings".

The interplay of these various factors is the main reason for stating that "you might be able to generate more overall damage output by using a slower, harder-hitting weapon". There are no hard and fast-guidelines in this regard because so much depends on the particular weapon-based skills that you use most often. Your best bet is to equip your best dual-wield setup and look at the skill tooltips, then equip your best 2H weapon and look at the skill tooltips, then do some rough calculations and tests for yourself, remembering that you'll be able to fire off your attack chains faster with the dual-wield setup.

The auto-attack tick cycle seems to be independent of, but overwritten by, skill execution

It can easily be observed that auto-attack "ticks" seem to occur in between some of your queued skill executions but not others. Also, it can be easily observed that more of these auto-attack ticks seem to occur in-between skill executions when you are using faster weapons. The pattern is difficult to discern through observation, but here is the best guess about how the interaction works, based on at least 30 minutes of testing on several classes while looking specifically for interaction patterns.

  • The auto-attack cycle seems to be independent of the queued skill executions and the global cool-down timer. What appears to be happening is that the "ticks" of the auto-attack cycle are simply over-written by skill animations when they occur. If a gap between animations falls in the same spot as a "tick" of the auto-attack cycle, then the auto-attack happens.
    • It does not matter whether the gap between skill animations is due to the global cool-down or due to the next-queued skill still being in its recovery phase.
    • It does not matter whether the skills are weapon-based or not. (Many people mistakenly believe that weapon-based skills happen "on the next auto-attack tick" but non-weapon based skills are somehow independent of auto-attacks.) If you trigger a weapon-based skill in the right spot of the auto-attack cycle, you can easily see the weapon skill damage followed immediately by a tick of auto-attack damage, and the delay between the skill damage and the auto-attack damage can vary by quite a bit depending on when the attack-skill actually begins execution relative to the auto-attack cycle.
  • Because the auto-attack ticks occur during opportune gaps in the queued skill chain, it stands to reason that faster weapons have more of a chance to "fit in the gaps" because each tick occurs more frequently. With slower weapons, therefore, you can more easily keep overwriting the auto-attack ticks, so fewer ticks of auto-attack damage are added to your overall damage output.

The bottom line with regard to weapon choice is that faster weapons will ultimately add more auto-attack damage to your total damage output.

Special damage types might trump all of the preceding factors

This section is here mostly as a placeholder for further testing and refinement of this article. It's reported that weapons with special damage types such as "fire" or "light", etc. are so effective (versus certain mobs that have low resistance to that damage type) that they trump most or all of the factors described so far.

Based on Turbine's implementation of elemental damage types in previous games such as Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2, this could indeed be a very important consideration in weapon choice that could outweigh the preceding factors.

Some general rules of thumb for choosing a fast or slow weapon setup

The preceding sections explain why it can be sometimes complex to answer the question "which is better for me: 1H + Shield, 2H, or dual-wielding?" In general, however, there are some rules of thumb that are safe to apply to most situations. Be aware, though, that in edge cases there could be exceptions to these general guidelines:

  • Guardians who are tanking for a group must rely on many active skills to generate as much threat as possible, particularly their shield-based skills. For this reason, a very fast 1H weapon + shield is often the preferred tanking setup not only for the shield mitigation (and the fact that you need a shield to use your shield-based attacks), but because the faster animation times of the 1H auto-attack ticks means less delay between your queued active skills. The faster you can fire off your active skills, the more front-loaded threat you can ultimately generate. Of course, the downside to this is that you'll also burn power at a faster rate, so you might have to pace yourself or rely on Blue fellowship maneuvers or on a Lore-master or Champion to replenish your power
  • If you are fighting easy single foes ("white" or easier) that are not close together, you might kill faster with a dual-wield setup (if you're a class that can dual-wield), because you'll sneak in more auto-attack damage and because you'll be able to spam your skill executions faster. The main consideration here is whether you have time to regenerate your power fast enough between fights, because you'll burn energy faster this way.
  • If you are fighting multiple mobs in a fast-respawning area, or harder single foes ("yellow" or harder), or signatures/elites of any sort, you might be better-served by a slow 2H weapon even if you can dual-wield. This is primarily because your power will last much longer and you are getting more damage per point of power spent.
  • Burglars will generally do best with a dual-wield setup that focuses on weapons with a high Max value in their main-hand slot and a high Min value in their off-hand slot.
  • Champions and Hunters that are dual-wielding will generally do best with a setup that focuses on weapons with a high Average Damage value in their main-hand slot, with the off-hand slot weapon choice being made according to the following two factors:
    • For fights that you expect to be short, putting the fastest weapon possible in your off-hand slot will make your effective Speed as fast as possible.
    • For fights that you expect to be long, putting a slower weapon with a high Min damage value in your off-hand slot will decrease your power burn rate and yield slightly higher auto-attack damage and "off-hand" damage "swings" from some skills.

(Back to Part 1)

Thanks again to Shannong for permission to reproduce her great guide!

Feel free to jump over to our forums and discuss this guide.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Lord of the Rings Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016