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Pirate jootphabet's guide to Horntail as a Buccaneer

Discussion in 'Jobs' started by joota, May 8, 2020.

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  1. joota

    joota Balance Team Staff Member Balance Team

    Jul 13, 2019
    2:35 PM
    Written 5/8/2020
    Updated 5/8/2020 I realized how long this post go so I will add a TL;DR for each section eventually lol I'll also make the post itself shorter
    Updated 5/11/2020 to include analysis of wings and Energy Orb
    Update 5/19/2020: I've stopped checking DPM 45 because it's toxic af lol just play however you want and enjoy the game!

    Hi y'all~ I'm joot, a lvl 171 buccaneer, and I've been playing ML since the summer of 2019. If you've been around ML lately, you know that dexbuccs are all the hype atm, but despite their effectiveness, buccs are actually not a bad addition to larger, more casual HT groups--we get decent single target dpm at pre-heads and it's easier to recruit a bucc than make a lvl 146 dexbucc mule. The problem though, is that there's not unanimous best way of running bucc unlike all other jobs. I'm no expert on running Horntail, but after talking with many high level buccs, I've come up with a modified strategy that I enjoy a lot. I am not an expert at HT by any means, but I've run HT ~50 times so far and I've learned a thing or two. There are less than a dozen buccs that participate in HT runs regularly, so the audience for this thread is small, but I still wanted to put my method out there and get the conversation going, to figure out different ways of using buccs in HT :)

    Update: it'd be hypocritical of me to not mention that regardless of this conversation, you should ultimately play the way that's most comfortable and fun for you. For me that happens to be optimizing DPM while still feeling like I'm in a team boss run at HT, so this works for me!

    Table of Contents
    -Skill choice
    -Play Styles
    -Fighting HT
    -Character Stat
    -Bonus Tips to Optimize DPM
    -Comment on Buffs/Nerfs to Buccs

    Unlike most bosses in ML, HT is a pretty complicated boss to deal with, so there's a looooot of information you need to know to even attempt HT. Since this isn't an all purpose HT guide, I'm going to assume you've run HT a few times, and you've read through Shay's Horntail Bishop Guide (https://forum.maplelegends.com/index.php?threads/shays-horntail-bishop-guide.26154/). I know this guide is for bishops, but it's really helpful! Also, some parts of HT can be really overwhelming for buccs the way I play it, so it's good to keep surprises at a minimum. Also, skill-wise, this guide assumes that you have the following skills maxed:
    -1st job: Flash Fist (only need lvl 1)
    -2nd job: Corkscrew Blow (only need lvl 1), Double uppercut
    -3rd job: Energy Charge, Energy Drain
    -4th job: Barrage, Dragon Strike, Super Transformation, Demolition, Snatch, Speed Infusion lvl11+, and Time Leap lvl1+.
    You can get here by lvl 170.
    *To all the non-buccs: although not shown here completely, yes, we actually use every skill we've maxed since 1st job heheh (note: shockwave is not used, but it's also not maxed f3)

    Lastly, I would argue that buccaneer is one of the hardest jobs to play in HT with arguably the lowest payoff DPM-wise. So... the biggest prerequisite is that you really enjoy the buccaneer class as a whole and not compare yourself to other classes :)

    Skill Choice
    At HT, pretty much every job in ML except bishops and shadowers only use a max of 2 skills+buffs, but buccs change their attacks depending on if Super Transformation is active, if Energy Charge is active, and if they're in melee range. A lot of other classes gauge how good they are at HT by calculating the ratio of their dpm at HT divided by their dpm at dummies. Since for buccs each situation has a different optimal damage per minute (dpm) and a huge increase in dpm is through other attackers (via SI), it's hard to gauge how good we are actually doing. This is all just to say that the only real measure we have is the actual dpm and not the ratio that others use. Anyways, this section will go over which skills to use in which situation!

    The reason why buccs are a complicated class is because most of the skills have a really long delay for spamming skills, but when you connect different skills, the delay disappears. So most of the skills used in each situation are macros of 2 or more skills, except for Demolition and Snatch. I will show the DPM of each macro. The actual DPM number here doesn't matter, since everyone has a different range, but you can see how much better each macro is than the other (for list of my equips/range, see Appendix below).

    Without ST:
    -Barrage+Double Uppercut, 1 target, 1 min: 4.82 mil
    -Barrage+Energy Drain (x2), need charge, 1 target, 50 sec +10 sec on Barrage+Double Uppercut: 5.10 mil
    -Barrage+Dragon Strike, 1 target, 1 min: 4.78 mil
    -Barrage+Dragon Strike, 2 target, 1 min: 5.84 mil
    -Barrage+Dragon Strike, 3 target, 1 min: 6.85 mil
    -Barrage+Dragon Strike, 4 target, 1 min: 7.94 mil
    -Dragon Strike spam, 4 target, 1 min: 7.41 mil
    -Dragon Strike+Energy Drain, need charge, 4 target, 50 sec + 10 sec on Dragon Strike spam: 8.17 mil

    With ST:
    -Demolition, 1 target, 1 min: 6.86 mil
    -Snatch, 4 target, 1 min: 11.09 mil

    For you visual learners:

    NOTE: you can only hit a maximum of 4 targets at HT, so I only show DPM for up to 4 targets.

    Other useful information:
    -Energy Charge procs after the 44th target attacked*
    -On average, 66.7% of time is spent in Super Transformation and 33.3% of time is spent without Super Transformation
    *single target skills count as 1 target, not multiple targets depending on the number of lines

    Based on the DPMs above, you can build a simple decision tree to figure out what skill to use, when:
    If there's one thing to take from this guide, it's this cheat sheet!
    NOTE: since Barrage is a very close-range melee skill, you won't always be able to use it, so when Super Transformation and Energy Charge are down and you can't reach your target, you are considered Ranged, in which case you would just spam Dragon Strike.

    Play Styles
    There are two main styles of approaching HT: ranged, and ranged/cleave hybrid. The reason for this is that when you get to the main body of HT, after legs and tail die, you have to make a choice of moving to the left side of the map or the right side. Every job except paladins (and other buccaneers) move to the right side to attack wings/right head. From what I've seen, the main approach that buccs take is ranged, but IMO the hybrid method makes more sense and provides better utility to the team. I'll go over the pros and cons of each style (more details on how exactly to execute the styles in the next section).

    To describe the various platforms more easily, here is what I'll be calling each platform:

    In this style, after the legs and tail die, buccs go to L-Long Top, L-Lefthead, and L-Midhead and attack the left/mid head. The main skills used here are single target ones. Every job other than paladins and buccaneers attack on the right side until wings/right head (most of the time) are down, so every few minutes you go to the far right side to rebuff and get rebuffed. You continue this process till HT dies.

    -This is the most consistent way to deal DPM since the cycle of attacks is simple
    -You take down left head/mid head faster during the run (i.e. the HT healthbar goes down more consistently, compared to when there are lots of cleaves, the healthbar goes down much slower towards the end)
    -You can semi-afk if you want lol

    -You are away from most of your team, so each time you need to rebuff/get rebuffed you need to jump to the right side which takes 15+ seconds (if you're not good at climbing ropes, it can take 30+ seconds)
    -You are away from most of your team, so it's lonely :(
    -You have to constantly remind the Bishop to painfully climb the rope and HS just you rip
    -You can semi-afk if you want (boring)

    Ranged/Cleave Hybrid
    In this style, after the legs and tail die, buccs go to the right side and sacrifice damage to proc Energy Charge faster for its stance effect and then cleave for higher overall DPM. Since you are with your team, it's easy to rebuff/get rebuffed. After wings, when the team moves to different body parts, you move with them, at which point you'd use the same skills as ranged instead of as a cleaver.

    -From what I've found, I consistently get higher DPM than when playing Ranged.
    -You're always with your team, so rebuffing/getting rebuffed is easy (teamwork makes the dream team heh).
    -You're not lonely :)
    -Wings go down faster, which is good if you're in a range heavy team/team with low hp attackers.
    -It feels very rewarding since it's much more challenging than playing ranged

    -Wings go down faster, which is bad for cleavers if you're in a cleave heavy team.
    -You could proc mass sed sooner, since right arm takes more damage.
    -It's much more challenging than playing ranged T_T

    Fighting HT
    In this section, I'll go over each section of HT in detail. This will have the bulk of the information needed for HT. Since most buccs I know play the Ranged style, and the Ranged style is pretty easy to figure out (maybe not as easy to execute...), I'll mainly go over the Hybrid style in this section, with a brief description of the Ranged style.

    Left and Right Pre-heads
    These are the first 2 maps you enter when fighting HT. Both maps will use the same strategy. After HT is spawned, enter Super Transformation immediately and spam Demolition. When Super Transformation is down, spam Barrage+Double Uppercut. If Energy Charge is up, spam Barrage+Energy Drain (x2). If the heads use weapon cancel (40 seconds) and your Energy Charge is not charged, use Flash Fist/Snatch to charge it but don't proc it till after weapon cancel is over. The preheads also use super-knockback often, sending you to far away from the head. If you're in Super Transformation, walk till where the ranges attack and continue with Demotion (Demolition has a range similar to most ranged attackers; you can jump+Demolition to get closer to the head without losing DPM). Otherwise, use Corkscrew Blow to close the gap to the head faster. Rinse and repeat till both heads are dead.

    Next, you will enter the main body.

    When the main HT body is spawned, use the same strategy as the preheads till the legs are down (except here, legs don't use weapon cancel).

    When Super Transformation is up, go to HT's ab-line (but never to the right of it!!!) and use Demolition on the tail. Otherwise, go to L-Assaulter and spam Barrage+Dragon Strike to hit wings+left arm.

    For the rest of the run, Ranged will use the pretty much same method as in the prehead on L-Long Top, L-Lefthead, L-Midhead (sometimes L-Long Mid). When buffs run out, go to the right side to rebuff/get rebuffed. This will take 15+ seconds depending on how good you are at climbing ropes (if you have a lot of HP, jump at the mid head from L-Midhead and tank 20k+ dmg to make the trip shorter; see Bonus Tips to Optimize DPM to reduce this time). Continue till HT is over.

    Here comes the hard part...

    Head up to R-Long Mid and spam Dragon Strike till you Energy Charge is up. When using Dragon Strike, if you stand slightly to the left of the rope, you will hit right arm, wings, righthead, and midhead. When you get hit, you will get knocked back to R-Assaulter; jump back up to R-Long Mid and repeat. This is 4 targets, which speeds up charging Energy Charge. If you stand too far left of the rope, when you get hit, you will fall further left than R-Assaulter and lose DPM. Once Energy Charge is up, go to R-Warrior. From here, you can hit 4 targets, so spam Dragon Strike+Energy Drain to optimize DPM. You'll find however that midhead and righthead cast weapon cancel frequently. If you can't do damage to 4 parts (i.e. if either or both heads use weapon cancel), use Barrage+Dragon Strike instead. Once Energy Charge runs out, go back to R-Long Mid and repeat spamming D.

    When Super Transformation is up, stand right above the rope and spam Snatch to charge Energy Charge. This will only hit the right arm and wings, but since Snatch is much faster than Dragon Strike, you will still charge Energy Charge quickly. Once done charging, go up to R-Warrior and spam Snatch. This should hit 4 targets again. However, if both heads are on weapon cancel, change to D. If you're running a cleave heavy party, you'll notice that the right head will go down really slowly, so one strategy is to go up to R-Long Ranged and use Demolition on the left half of the platform. When you get knocked-back you'll fall to R-Righthead, so you can jump back up. You'll notice that this will decrease your DPM since you can't hit anything when the right head ducks, but it's good for the team overall. I don't recommend going to R-Midhead when right head is in weapon cancel even if you have Energy Charge up, since climbing back up to R-Midhead takes a lot of time. Continue this strategy till the wings are dead.

    From here on, the way you play really depends on your team composition. If your team is heavy on ranged attackers, right head could be dead, in which case you'll just follow your team (although I wouldn't recommend staying on right arm even if all the cleaves stay on it). If most of your team is still on the right side with right head alive, you can repeat the same strategies as for wings, with a few exceptions: when charge is up and Super Transformation is down, go to R-Righthead and use Barrage+Dragon Strike. This is because you can no longer use Barrage on R-Warrior since the right arm is too far; when Super Transformation is up and Energy Charge is down, instead of using Snatch to charge EC, just use Demotion. Once you and the team move to the left side of HT, you'll play as Ranged till HT is dead.

    Overall, what happens using Hybrid style is that you consistently hit 4 parts of HT when wings are up, except when using Snatch to charge Energy Charge (even then you hit 2 parts). Even when you are doing minimal damage cleaving by spamming Dragon Strike, you still do more damage than just using Demolition, since you hit 4 parts.

    With all of this put together, here are the DPM 45 I get during the body playing Hybrid style:
    -MW20, bear, SI:
    -MW20, bear, SI, SE:
    These numbers have been somewhat consistent, since I've gotten better at the Hybrid style, so I don't expect hugely higher or lower DPMs for myself. See Appendix for the gear I use at HT.

    I don't have a SS of when I play ranged, but the highest I've gotten with SE is 4.5 mil DPM and without is 4.3 mil DPM (didn't have to buff anyone but fell a lot ;-;).

    If you are a regular HT runner running as any other character, this is probably very anticlimactic lol admittedly, this is a very low DPM compared to pretty much all other classes, and based on the length of this guide, it is really difficult to get mediocre DPM. Still, I enjoy the bucc class and I wouldn't switch it out for anything else ^^

    Update: I've been told that if the Hybrid style is actually relying on damage on wings for its higher DPM, it means nothing for the team, so I went ahead and counted the number of times I used each attack on the wings and used my average range to get the following:

    Number of attacks used on wings:
    Dragon Strike (831%): 164
    Snatch (621%): 674
    Energy Drain (370%): 75
    Barrage (3010%): 21
    Demolition (3848%): 11
    Double Uppercut/Corkscrew Blow: trivial
    This is a total of 40.6 million damage on the wings. This, comes out to 0.901 million DPM over the course of the DPM 45. i.e. if wings didn't exist, my DPM 45 would be: 3.587 mil DPM, making my DPM 19.27% reliant on wings. I'm not sure how this compares to Heroes/Drks/Shads.

    You could definitely make the argument that since Ranged gets more damage than what a Hybrid gets excluding wing damage, that Ranged is better. Still, I think the amount Hybrid buccs rely on wings for DPM seems low to me. Ultimately, I think it depends on the team composition, and what you enjoy. If you have lots of cleaves, maybe Ranged is in fact much better for clearing HT.

    Character Stat
    To optimize damage at HT, an important stat to consider is avoidability, especially if you're running as a Hybrid. Even though when EC is up we have stance, we still get knocked back 10% of the time. It takes a hot second to climb back up and continue dealing damage, so avoidability helps reduce the chance of falling down. Fortunately, buccs have an interesting avoidability formula where each stat of DEX is the same as 1.5 avoidability (hence the inception of dexbuccs), compared to 0.25 for every other non-pirate class (rip corsairs). We can use this to our advantage:

    1) I highly recommend getting both MoN and HTP. Most buccaneer guides will tell you to minimize DEX to equip your end-game gear. While this is true, I highly recommend minimizing DEX when equipped with MoN. When you run HT, swap out the MoN for HTP to get additional DEX (beyond the minimum).
    2) Scroll a DEX overall. Same concept where normally you wear a STR overall, but when you run HT, swap it for a DEX overall to maximize DEX.
    3) Stock up on Amorian Baskets (or Heartstoppers if you're rich), which will give you 40 avoidability for 10 minutes.

    This all reduces my range by ~450, but still increases my overall DPM at HT (only at HT tho). 11/10 would recommend.

    Bonus Tips to Optimize DPM
    There's a lot that I've covered already, but there are still more ways to optimize DPM, not by how you attack HT, but by how you climb platforms.

    1) Jump+Corkscrew Blow the wings to go from the ground to L-Assaulter and R-Assaulter. I called these Assaulter platforms because the less rare Shadowers use assaulter to climb the platforms using the same method. Once wings are dead, you can't use this anymore.

    will upload gifs later

    2) Jump+Corkscrew Blow left head from L-Long Mid to L-Long Ranged. If you have max jump (123), then you can use this whenever left head is alive. If you don't have max jump, wait for left head to duck to use Corkscrew Blow.

    will upload gifs later

    3) Corkscrew blow from the right half of L-Long Ranged to go to L-Lefthead or from L-Lefthead to L-Midhead. It's easy to fall to the ground if you jump one of the top left platforms to another, and you'll get hit for 15k damage for touching the head. You can avoid falling using this method.

    will upload gifs later

    Comment on Buffs/Nerfs to Buccs
    If you've been running HT a lot, you know that buccs are being replaced by Dexbuccs. They have essentially 999 avoid, so they serve well as a sed, SI, and TL mule. Many bucc mains have mentioned on the forum that the way to fix Dexbuccs if GMs are not happy with them is to change the avoidability formula for buccs to be the same as other classes (not corsair) and increase the duration of EC to 120 seconds while reducing the number of hits to proc EC. I completely agree with that. If you read through this guide, you'll see that having EC on is really key to optimizing DPM as a cleave/ranged hybrid. I personally love the high avoid buccs have, but I see the potential change as a fair way to balance buccs.

    Another suggestion that has come up is buffing Energy Orb. As it stands currently, here is how much more (or less) damage Energy Orb does to different number of targets (on SE):
    -Barrage+Energy Orb vs Barrage+Double Uppercut (1 target): +7.06%
    -Barrage+Energy Orb vs Barrage+Energy Drain x2 (1 target): +3.08%
    -Barrage+Energy Orb vs Barrage+Dragon Strike (1 target): +7.90%
    -Barrage+Energy Orb vs Barrage+Dragon Strike (2 target): +2.57%
    -Dragon Strike+Energy Orb vs Dragon Strike+Flash Fist (1 target): +18.86%
    -Dragon Strike+Energy Orb vs Dragon Strike+Energy Drain (1 target): +10.03%

    A big problem is that Energy Orb is supposed to bounce off of targets, dealing 66.67% for each additional unit, but at HT it doesn't bounce at all. Energy Orb provides some additional damage but not enough to warrant maxing before other skills. Energy Orb only serves as a replacement for Energy Drain in HT, giving an extra 3.08% used with Barrage and 10.03% used with Dragon Strike. Notice also that buffing Energy Orb would ultimately benefit the Hybrid style more than Ranged.

    And that's it! Again, my goal here is to figure out what works best for buccs. This is the method I've found to work best, but I'm sure there are ways to optimize damage and utility that I'm not aware of. Feel free to comment!

    -MeleeSmash (Dustin) for providing a hybrid style framework! He used to HT before demolition buffs though, so I modified his method to get the Hybrid style I use
    -MrPresident for introducing me to CSB'ing left head
    -All the other buccs/people who I talked to about HT to figure this stuff out (InMyPrime, Akash, SatellizerLB, CantAim, and others!)

    NOTE: all DPM tests shown are on MW20, +20 watt pot, and SE
    Here is a SS of my base (no buffs) Character Stats:

    Here is a list of my equips for the DPM tests (attack range: 4290~7795)
    -Scarlion Hat: 18 str, 38 dex
    -Sad Mask: 5 dex
    -Ring of Passion: 3 all stat
    -Broken Glasses: 1 str, 3 dex
    -Strawberry Earrings: 10 dex
    -Blackfist Cloak: 14 watt
    -Red Belly Duke: 31 str, 3 dex
    -Mark of Naricain: 5 str, 7 dex, 9 watt
    -Dragon Slash Claw: 98 watt (I'm at 0/11 10%+WS ;-;)
    -Yellow Marker: 14 watt
    -Black Duke Barkin Shoes 7 str, 9 dex
    -Monster Book Ring: 10 str, 10 dex
    -Ellin Savior's Ring: 1 str, 1 dex
    When I actually run HT, I swap the Mark of Naricain for Horntail Pendant (22 str, 22 dex) and Red Belly Duke for White Pioneer (6 str, 23 dex) getting an attack range of 4062~7337 and avoidability of 334 (before avoid buffs)

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