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This article was written by Shadowfax and Dentin, and was posted on Feb 24, 2009.
It was updated April 18, 2011.

The Mechanics of Melee Combat

This article will explain how attacks, hitroll and damage work in melee combat. There are three major parts to the way combat is handled - how often you attack, whether or not you land a blow, and how much damage you do when you hit. Armor has a big effect when it comes to limiting the damage done when a blow hits.

(Note that most of the statistics you need to understand combat are displayed on the score and statistics screens. This includes hitroll, damroll, weapon speed, strength, and other information.)

What is Attack Speed?

The attacks stat governs how frequently you are able to make melee attacks during combat. Each player is assigned an attacks stat. A player's attacks stat starts at 20. This base attacks stat can be improved with the multiple attacks skill, which is widely available at almost any skill teacher. Multiple attacks can be improved to very good. When your multiple attacks skill is at its maximum, your base attacks stat is in the low 30s. Multiple attacks does not improve with use. You must use a teacher to raise it.

Your attacks stat can be further modified with equipment and weapons. The ATTACKS effect that sometimes appears on equipment directly increases your attacks stat. If you have a base attacks stat of 20 and wear a piece of eq that has the 'ATTACKS by 5' effect, your attacks stat is 25 while wearing the eq. A piece of eq with a negative ATTACKS effect will affect your attacks stat, as well. While there is no limit as to how high (or low) your attacks can go, even the most competent players wearing exclusively +attacks eq find it difficult to reach beyond the mid-50s.

A weapon's speed can change your attacks stat. When a weapon is identified, its attack speed is displayed. Each attack speed corresponds to a range of numbers. The categories of weapon attack speeds are as follows:
  • slowest is -13 and less
  • very slow is -12 to -8
  • slow is -7 to -3
  • normal is -2 to 2
  • fast is 3 to 5
  • very fast is 6 to 8
  • fastest is 9 and higher

Note that weapons may also have ATTACKS effects, above and beyond the weapon attack speed. For example, if your weapon's speed register is -3, but it has an 'ATTACKS by 5' effect attached when you stat it, its actual attack speed is +2. It will still be identified as attack speed 'slow', even though its total is in the 'normal' range.

In combat, the weapon's attack speed is added to your attacks stat to calculate your total attacks. Thus:
  • attacks = 20 + multiple attacks + eq modifier + weapon speed

Your current attack speed is displayed in the statistics screen. Most weapons have a speed register of 0 (normal). It is highly unusual for a weapon to have a speed greater than 10 (fastest). Most non-weapons that can be wielded have a weapon speed of -15 (slowest), making improvised weapons a bad idea in most cases. There is no way for players to know their exact attacks stat, only which attack speed category it falls under.

How Often You Attack

In the beginning days of Alter Aeon, your attack speed was simply a chance to attack at any given point in a round of combat. This normally gave 8 chances to attack in a single round, but this system had a serious flaw: characters with low attack speeds could sometimes wait a very long time to get even a single attack.

The new attack system still gives approximately the same number of attacks per round, but spreads them out more evenly. The faster your attack speed, the faster your attacks will hit. There's still a bit of randomness though, so don't expect your attacks to be completely regular.

The best way to describe how the new attacks system works is with an 'attack timer'. Your attack speed is used to recharge the timer, and when the timer is full, you get to attack again. Each attack requires about 300 attacks before the timer is full.

For example, if your multiple attacks skill is untrained (20) and you are using a normal speed weapon (0), your attack timer will recharge in 300/20 = 15 slices, which is a little less than two rounds. (A round is defined as 8 slices.) New players generally hit less than once per round.

If you have your multiple attacks trained to very good (32), are wearing eq that gives you +8 to attacks, and are using a 'fastest' weapon (10), your attack timer will recharge substantially faster: 300/50 = 6 slices, which is more than once per round and 2.5 times faster than a new player might attack.

Finally, there are two spells that directly affect the attacks stat. The first is haste, which increases your attacks stat while in effect. The other is lethargy, which reduces one's attacks stat dramatically.

Note that even though you may make an attack roll, it might not be successful. Hitroll plays a big part in this, as explained in the next section.

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