Tastes Great or Less Filling?

I was holding off on making any posts until 2010, but I’ve decided to wish everyone a pre-emptive Happy New Year and post something anyway.  So, with the pleasantries out of the way, let me present you with my views on the present tempest in a teapot in the small LOTRO Champion community: Dual Wield (DW) or Two Handed (2H)?

In the recent past, DW had an edge in DPS while a Champion using Flurry and 2H had an edge in power efficiency.  Then, the Siege of Mirkwood was released.  While I have mentioned the revamp of Champion legacies, they are not the major concern with respect to this discussion.  The single most important change of note in this comparison was the standardization of weapon speeds.  One handed weapons have a swing time of 1.9 seconds, while two-handers have a speed of 2.5.

Okay, so what’s the big deal of 1.9 versus 2.5?  It all comes down to attack rotations. Many Champions use Brutal Strikes and Feral Strikes, which have cooldown of about 4 seconds.  Attack with Wild Attack, Swift Strike, and Feral Strikes / Brutal Strikes.  Throw in an occasional Clobber for extra DPS.  Rinse and repeat.  A weapon speed of 2.2 or so is pretty ideal for that sort of rotation, as your attack timer is pretty much in sync with your cooldowns.  It just so happens that under the effects of Flurry, a 2H weapon is just a little bit quicker than a speed of 2.2 seconds.  Thus, 2H has had a significant uptick in popularity.  Additionally, Remorseless Strikes can do some absolutely terrifying critical damage using 2H, though it is not part of the standard rotation.

This is not to say that Dual Wield has just dropped off of the map for Champions.  With one-handed weapons being inherently quick, you can attack quickly.  This mean using Wild Attack, Swift Attack, and Blade Wall in succession in order to quickly build up fervor.  More fervor means more special maneuvers.  Also, any Champion will notice that while a maneuver will cost X amount of fervor, a 2H Champion must have X+1 fervor in their pool before they are allowed to use the selected move.  This means that DW can more quickly build up fervor AND can also spend that fervor more quickly.  Of course,  a DW Champion also goes through their power pool more quickly, but this translates into a slight edge in damage output.

There is a very basic numerical comparison of DW and 2H here.  Some people believe that this is slightly flawed.  I agree, somewhat – Relentless Strikes works quite well with 2H.  However, you can use it to break down what attacks work best with your style.  

Wild Attack, Feral Strikes, Bracing Attack, Blade Wall, Blade Storm, and Raging Blades all favor DW.  Note that the lion’s share of AOE attacks are in that list.  If you are an AOE fanatic, then DW should interest you.  On the other hand, Swift Strike, Remorseless Strikes (for the big crits), Brutal Strikes, Clobber, and Rend favor the 2H style of play.  With less of a focus on AOE, 2H would be very useful in grouping.  You can burn down individual mobs quickly.

There are also some good points here.  I agree that DW Champions tend to have more stats from their off-hand.  Thus, they also tend to have more melee crit, power, and morale.  Also, while DW can’t achieve the same massive crits from Remorseless Strikes, a DW Champion can use it more often due to quicker fervor buildup.  That means more chances for a crit.  Even though the crit won’t be as large, it translates to more damage over a sustained time.

So, DW beats 2H, right?  No.  Even in a Flurry build, 2H is more power-efficient than DW.  If you find yourself running out of power with any significant frequency, then you should consider going 2H.  You really have to think about DW and 2H as tools in your Champion toolbox.  You need to slect the right tool for the job.  AOE?  Go with DW.  Single mob with a lot of health?  2H will see you through that fight better than DW.  Nothing has really changed with the comparison since the pre-Mirkwood days, the comparison is just a bit more close, now.

Lastly, if you’re feeling particularly stubborn and refuse to use anything but DW or 2H (whichever you prefer), then there’s this piece of good news: the difference between the numbers for DW and 2H is relatively slight, so use what you prefer.  Yes, it may not be the ideal choice for a particular situation, but either choice is competitive in all situations.

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