I haven't been playing much offensive PVP the past few weeks - mostly because of the recent holiday, but also because I'm not too focused on getting into Adamantium. My rating had steadily dropped the past few days until I'd fallen into gold, at which point I figured I'd just ignore PVP until the last week. However, I was recently inspired by this PKB post, particularly the section on turn advantage and thought I would try to construct a team centered around maximizing turn advantage.
What is Turn Advantage?
Turn advantage probably means different things to different people, but I interpret it as an action that will either (1) produce an extra "turn" for your team, or (2) take away one "turn" from your opponent. I've placed "turn" in quotes because I'm using the term "turn" loosely. In turn based combat, one "turn" corresponds to doing the damage of a "standard" attack on a member of the opposing team.
For a rough idea of the number this should be (at least for PVE - in PVP it will scale upwards), you can go to the sell item page, and hover over a customized weapon (preferably one without any extra effects) and look at the damage. The actual number isn't all that important, though.
This means in addition to gear that grants extra turns (QJ, MFG, etc.), turn advantage can be produced
- Defensively - damage reduction, evasive passives, phased
- Offensively - guaranteed crits, deadly crits, counter attacks, follow up attacks
- Status Effects - stuns, hexed
A brief note on crits and offensive turn advantage. (Updated thanks to the commentors) Regular attacks deal roughly 1.5x the normal amount of damage, while deadly crits deal anywhere from 2x to 10x normal damage, dependign on the specific skill. Since one turn does "standard" damage, and a crit produces extra damage, you can quantify it as producing part of a turn, since it would have taken you an extra action to produce that damage. Note that since most attacks have a chance at producing a critical hit, when calculating the "turn advantage" of a guaranteed crit, it's only a partial turn.
e.g. Let's assume a 25% crit rate and a standard attack of 100 damage. Then a regular attack has 75% chance of hitting for 100 and 25% chance of a crit for 150, so the expected damage is 113.
If you had a guaranteed crit effect (either on your hero or the target), then the attack would deal 150. 150 / 125 = 1.33. So the effect of a guaranteed crit is .33 "turns". The actual turn advantage depends on how you got the guaranteed crit effect.
For a 4x deadly crit, an attack has a 75% chance of hitting for 100 and a 25% chance of a crit for 400. So the expected damage is 175. 175/113 = 1.55. So just using an attack with deadly crits produces a +.55 turn advantage. For a 2x deadly crit, the expected damage is 125, so 125/113 = 1.10.
Why Turn Advantage?
For AFK PVP, turn advantage is important for two reasons. (1) The AI is stupid. (2) Your opponent is smart (relative to the AI, at least!). It's that simple. If your opponent is smart, of course you want to take away or negate their turns. Since the AI sometimes does dumb things, it's definitely in your favor to produce extra turns for the AI to use.
The best part is, the AI cannot mess up benefitting from turn advantage. There is absolutely no way the AI will not benefit from taking away opposing turns, and, although the AI sometimes plays suboptimally, the odds of completely squandering an extra turn are low.
In the rest of the post, I'll calculate the turn advantage for some heroes and gear. Hopefully there are enough examples in here for you to figure out how to calculate the turn advantage for the ones I've omitted.
Equipment Producing Turn Advantage
- Quantum Jumper - 1 agent turn for 2 hero turns, +1 TA
- MFG - 1 agent turn for 3 extra turns. The shield effect (at least in my experience) is roughly half an attack, so it's +.5 turns. Net +3.5 TA (+2 from actual turns, +1.5 from the 3 shield effects).
- Power of Four - +3 turns. The exact turn advantage depends on how many more rounds the fight lasts after your agent dies. Humans are much better at keeping the TA between 2-3 (ending within one round), while the AI may squander this down to +1, 0, or -1. Obviously another important part of the advantage produced by PO4 is ordering / concentrating your attacks to eliminate members of the enemy team, which would produce even more TA if possible. Yet again, this is something people are good at, but the AI is not.
- Target Painter - earlier we calculated a guaranteed crit to be .33 "turns". Since this is a quick action, it costs you zero turns, +.33 TA
- Digital Decoy - 1 agent turn to avoid 6 opposing attacks. Ideally this is +5 TA, but the actual amount depends on what type of gear / heroes your opponents have. If you see a lot of torch, you may end up with all +5. Against a lot of Emma / Pinion, this may end up being just +0 or +1 TA.
- Curative Reach - This heals roughly the amount of 1 attack from each of your team members. If everyone is damaged, then this is roughly +2 TA. In the hands of the AI, (which uses it on the first turn, or with only 1 person damaged) this coiuld be -1 TA Or 0 TA (often -1).
- P.E.W. Attenuator - This is an AOE 30% stun. At my level (103) The damage on three opposing team members is roughly equal to 1 attack (so you aren't "wasting" a turn by using it). The 30% stun on 3 opponents averages +.9 TA. If you're higher level, you'll have to subtract the turn-fraction caused by the damage loss.
- S.A. Pincer - Here is one where the actual damage matters. If you are at or around level 40, this does almost the damage of a full attack, so it produces +1 TA. When you get to around level 75, it does about half the damage of an attack, so the TA drops to only about .5. If you're higher than that it will decrease even more, and there are probably better options.
- Sudden Support - In my experience, this gives about 40% extra damage, and roughly doubles the crit rate of your next attack. (I don't have any data to verify this, though, so take the following with a grain of salt.)
- Assuming a 100 damage attack and a 25% crit rate, a "standard" attack averages 113 damage (see above). With sudden support, there's a 50% chance of hitting for 140 and a 50% chance of getting a critical hit for 210. On average, this is 175 and 175/113 =1.55, so using sudden support with a "regular" weapon produces a TA of +.55.
- Using sudden support with a weapon with 4x deadly crits (calculation omitted) produces a TA of about +3. You can trick the AI into doing this by only equipping one weapon.
- Overwatch - 1 agent turn for 3 counter attacks. +2TA, assuming your hero/agent doesn't die when they get hit. In the first round, this is quite likely, as combat progresses the turn advantage decreases because it's more likely that your hero might not survive the hit. As a side note, your agent always brawls, which is the gold standard for "standard" attacks.
- Dark Sigil - There are 3 parts to the calculation - the DoTs, the guaranteed crit, and the actual damage.
- If you're around level 90, the total damage aginst a team of 3 is about the same as 1 attack. When you're higher level it's probably less than that. You'll have to calculate the exact value for yourself.
- Against a team of 3, the three applications of weak point produce 3 * .33 = +1 TA.
- Luckily, unlike the damage, the damage from dark void / burning scales with level. They come out to about 1/3 of an attack each time the opponent takes damage. If it lasts all three times, against a full team, this is ~3 attacks. If you see a lot of P5 Emma, I wouldn't expect it to last that long. Also, with three applications of weak point and two debuffs, you should expect at least one member of your opponent's team to die before the DoTs expire (If they haven't, you probably won't win anyways!). This is probably more like +2 TA, but if you see a lot of Emma, this could drop to only +.75 TA.
- The total from all three parts will be +1 (crits) + (.75~2)TA (dots) - (0~1) (damage you give up). If you're level 90 and don't see Emma very much, this could be +3 TA. If you're level 200 and see Emma all the time, this could be only +1.75 TA (in this second case, you probably shouldn't be reading my PVP posts anyways!). Fair warning though, you won't see the TA from the dots until 3 rounds later.
Heroes Producing Turn Advantage
In this part I won't calculate the TA's as precisely as with the gear.
- Emma Frost - I don't have her myself, so my estimates below are guesses based on what I've seen facing her in PVP.
- Psychic Tap - The damage on this is a regular attack, so any extra turns would come from mental anguish. If the target attacks, the damage is close to the same as a regular attack, so that would be +1 TA. If they squander the turn (recharge, a very meaningless action), this is also +1 TA. The target may have a buff / debuff they can use, so in this case there's no extra turns produced. It's hard to say who the AI will hit with this, but I'm reasonably sure players know to squander their turn if they don't have a non offensive action (very rarely do they attack and take the damage). In the hands of the AI playing Emma, this probably has a +.5 TA
- War Diamond - Also a regular attack. Supposedly (according to the latest patch notes 12/07/12) the stun rate is exactly 60% now. +.6TA
- Mental Trauma - I actually find the damage from mental trauma to be really high. It's about 2/3 the strength of a "regular" attack, although this may be an effect of PVP bonus differences (since agents with Emma have been playing a lot longer than I have). I don't have her so I don't know for sure. Conservatively, against a full team of 3, I estimate the damage to be the equivalent of ~1.5 attacks. The migraine effect also causes the 3 opposing attacks to be for half damage, so that's -1.5 for the opposing turns. Should be a net +2 TA
- Unlock Potential - This is another move where it is hard to estimate the TA when I don't have her. I suspect the effect is the same as sudden support, except that it persists for one round after that person has taken their turn. This means you will get the stat bonus on counter attacts, increased evasion rate, and reduced damage when that person is successfully hit (although I suspect most human players are smart enough to NOT attack someone with unleashed potential). It's also hard to know who the AI will put it on. From the sudden support calculation, the benefit from just the attack is equivalent to between .5 and 2.5 turns worth of damage, at the cost of one of Emma's turns, so the net benefit is equivalent to -0.5 to +1.5 turns. With the defensive benefits and AI uncertainty, my best guess at the average TA would be somewhere between +0-0.5 turns.
- Diamond Body passive - When it procs, the attack basically does no damage, so this is close to +1 turn per round.
- P5 Passive - This is where Emma really gets powerful. With Emma's L6 move, because it takes one action, the TA is between +0-0.5. Since the passive procs at random, each time it procs you basically get the equivalent of +1-1.5 free turns. Assuming a +1 TA, a team of 3, and a proc rate of 20%, her P5 passive produces +0.6 TA per round.
- The only important part is the Steel Fortress / Steel Curtain damage reduction. He only takes 50% damage from attacks, so the net is +.5 TA every time he is attacked.
- P5 Passive - each time it procs, I've found the healing to be equivalent to roughly 1 attack, negating one enemy turn. The damage reduction is quite high, though. Presumably human players are smart enough to not attack someone with Guardian Force active, so this should be the only benefit. For a team of 3 and a proc rate of 20%, the passive produces +0.6 TA per round.
- Invisible Woman
- Force Spheres generates +.10 TA just for using it due to the 2x deadly crit. I'm too lazy to calculate the TA from Force Volley, but it's higher than +.10.
- Force Field - the shield blocks about 3/4 of an attacks worth of damage. So for a team of three this negates 2.25 opposing turns, at the cost of one of Sue's turns, so +1.25 TA.
- Invisibility Passive - 25% chance of negating a turn, so this is +.25 TA when she gets attacked. The accuracy bonus from Surprise Attack close to triples (possibly quadruples, I've only not critted a few times with Surprise Attack up) crit rate, so this is roughly +TA .54 (calculation omitted - but it's because her attacks have deadly crits). So every time she gets attacked, you average close to 3/4 of an extra. With the FF Passive (see below) it's even higher.
- FF Passive - It's been a while since I've used her, but my best guesstimate is that each shield absorbs about 1/4 of an attacks worth of damage. So it is +.25 TA per attack for 3 rounds (the effect lasts 4 rounds, but the shield isn't there until the first attack).
- WW2 Captain America
- Defensive Stance - I've found the proc rate to be about ~20%. When it does proc, the damage is negligible, so he has a 20% passive to negate an opposing turn or +1 TA. So on average, attacking Cap produces +.2 TA.
- When Shield Guard is up, since he counters with Shield Bash, it's +1 turn per attack blocked. This could be up to +3 turns, at the cost of 1 of Cap's turns. (or 0 if it's from his WW2 Passive).
- Scarlet Witch
- Hex Spheres - The damage is small, I think it's about 1/4 of a regular attack per target. Against a full team, this is .75 of an attack's worth of damage. The real power comes from the hexed effect. If there's a 25% chance of backfire and it lasts 4 rounds (potentially 12 attacks from an opposing team of 3), this would average +4 turns. Obviously, there probably won't be 12 attacks, and if you have any chance at winning (especially against a human), the opposing team will have lost a member before the effect wears off. I think in reality the hexed effect probably produces +2 turns on average. So the net turn advantage for hex spheres is +1.75 (you lose 0.25 since the attack itself does less damage than a regular attack). Note: I've ignored the actual damage from backfiring since it's so small, I only counted the TA produced from the attack failing.
- Chaos Shield - On team members with full health, produces +1 turn from the attack not doing damage. On team members that have lost health, produces +2 turns from the attack healing instead of doing damage (since your opponent spent a turn healing you!). Based on my experience, I estimate that there's a 66% chance of the shield getting applied to each of your party members. Early in the fight, when everyone at full health, this is roughly +2 turns, on average. Later in the fight, when people have lost health, this is about +4 turns, on average. Since this takes one of Wanda's turns, this is +1-3 TA. I suspect in the hands of the AI this ends up being about +2 TA.
- Probability Field - This is pretty hard to figure breakdown the different buffs / debuffs and their TAs, but I'm just going to go out on a limb and say this produces roughly a +.5 TA.
- Dr. Strange
- Sorcerer Supreme - This actually makes calculating his TA a bit messy. The best way I've come up with is to count the effect of the quick actions here, and then treat the rest of his moves as regular attacks. He gathers energy quite often; it's definitely above 50%. Assuming 2/3 chance of gaining a Mystic Energy from an attack, it's 66% chance of gaining +.33 TA. This translates to +.33 TA per offensive action taken by the enemy team. ANY offensive action - counter attacks, coordinated attacks, everything. Also, he starts off with a Power of the Principalities, so it's +1 TA just for having him on your team.
- Teresing Boost - The instant heal is roughly the strength of curative reach (I may be wrong, I haven't used reach in a while). The two extra rounds of healing is also roughly one attack. So this is something like +6 TA - 1 for the action, so +5 TA. (If this is used a quick action, the TA is counted under Sorcerer Supreme)
- Shield of the Seraphim - I've found this to be stronger than 1 attack, roughly 1.75 attacks. So +1.75 TA - 1 for the action = +.75 TA.
- Vapors of Valtorr - The damage from the attack is about .5 per target, so +1.5 on a full team. Adds 1/3 of an attack per round of the DoT, so +1 attack per target over 3 rounds. +1.5 + 3 TA. More on the DoTs with Bane (see below).
- Bolts of Balthak - This is as strong as a single attack (on targets without Bane). However, you get +.33 TA back from the Mystic Energy given.
- Defender Passive (Bane) - I see baned Dark Void causing double the damage of Chilled, so I suspect bane is 2x magical damage. Adds a +1 to Bolts of Balthak, adds a lot to Vapors (too lazy to calculate).
- Defender Passive (Light of the Seraphim) - I feel that these shields are strong enough to negate 1 attack. The proc rate is really high, too (I've yet to face a Modern Strange where the shield hasn't procced at least once). +1 TA * .25% chance of proccing = +.25 TA for every offensive action taken (on average). Combined with Sorcerer Supreme, this is +.58 TA for offensive action.
What To Do
Look at your gear and heroes. Calculate the turn advantages. Stack gear with lots of +TA on your agent, and pick your highest +TA heroes and hope for the best.