Edit 7/2/13: Updating this guide to accommodate the future changes to water cannon.
This guide is mostly intended for Royal Alchemists and those who mean to extend water cannon as a combat skill towards advanced and hard level missions. That being said, any water cannon user can benefit from this guide and I encourage all types of alchemists to read this for their benefit.
I. Introduction – Strengths and Weaknesses of the Skill
II. Builds and Set-Ups
IV. Database Materials
V. Notes and Further Resources
Offensive alchemy to me is more of a means of covering the melee users of your party. Sure, on its own it has soloing power but once you get to harder difficulties, the damage caps limit the potential of the skills. For myself, I use water cannon exclusively since the majority of my AP is spent on life skills. I agree that it’s an intermediate skill due to its damage limit. However, some strategies you can utilize in harder dungeons exploit the use of its knockback and range capabilities. For example, if a melee user is venerable while loading a skill and is about to be attacked, you can use water cannon to stun the approaching enemy and give the melee user time to recover. Even if you’re late in sending out the water cannon, you can still interrupt the enemy’s combo and keep your party member alive. Water cannon covering as I call it is not limited to protecting from melee enemies alone as you can also interrupt range and magic enemies while they are loading their respective range/bolts. Essentially, effective water cannon usage comes down to spatial awareness and knowing what to fire at. The power of water cannon covering lies in its 100% accuracy and this is where it becomes stronger than range covering. Against magic, the load times are equal but again, water cannon dominates in its knockback. The weakness of water cannon stems from two things: the former mentioned damage output (allieviated by chain cylinder, water mastery, and alchemy mastery to some extent) and in the fact that it cannot hold up against multi aggro. Herein, you are forced to rely on the party members to cover you as well or hybridize melee/range in your secondary slot or have a high ranked heat buster skill where you can quickly finish off one enemy and focus on the other. Additionally, you can use barrier spikes to your advantage as well or have another alchemist wherein you cover each other.
Flame burst may also be used as covering thanks to its AOE but is sometimes unreliable due to positioning lag. Another pitfall to using flame burst as a means to cover is that its range is much smaller than that of water cannon, it finds its niche in a offensive close range situations. The best example would be creating an offensive barrier of flame between your party member and the attacking enemy. In theory, water cannon coupled with flame burst would be moderately effective but again, the enchants needed for damage cripple this strategy. Hybridization comes into play here.
Tower cylinders can also be used for other strategies but I have not explored this at all outside of rafting (which frankly, doesn’t involve much strategy, haha).
II. Build Guide
This part of the guide aims to serve as a general reference for those interested with starting out alchemy or new players in general. Phase 1 focuses solely on water cannon as a main damage skill whereas Phase 2 supplements any other build. Phase 3 examines hybridization options along with the benefits associated with doing so. Phase 4 is for the truly specialized water alchemist and describes the end-game build.
Phase 1: Basics
As water cannon is widely considered the intro skill for alchemy, most aspiring alchemists rank the skill first. Interestingly, water cannon is actually the skill with the best damage/AP ratio in the game so ranking the skill at a low level is highly beneficial. In fact, rank 1 alone gives a user the damage output to tackle nearly all intermediate level missions and even hold their own in advanced level missions.
So you’ve capped water cannon at rank 1, now what? There are several options depending on how far you’re willing to go for this skill but at this point, I would recommend two courses of action: acquire water drop or ripple enchants and rank alchemy mastery. Water drop enchants aren’t arduous to find seeing as how they drop from the following places:
- Shadow Cast City (INT, ADV, and HM)
- Their Method (INT, ADV, and HM)
- Ancient Books (Ghost of Partholon)
- Bundle of Enchant Scrolls (Booby Sketching Quest in Belvast)
- Neid (Abb Neagh Field Boss)
Ripple is a little trickier to find and is superior to water drop in terms of damage and repair cost. Both enchants are suffixes and they also can go on everything making them pretty essential to any type of gear. In any case, aim to water drop everything then fill in whatever is most expensive with ripple when you manage to find the enchants. Ripple can be found via:
- Bundle of Enchant Scrolls (Booby Sketching Quest in Belvast)
- Guardian of Avon (Ripple Metallurgy Sieve; INT, ADV, and HM)
- Fortinbras’s Expedition (Ripple Metallurgy Sieve; INT, ADV, and HM)
The Belvast daily sketches are your best bet since you can do the sketches on your alt characters then transfer all the bundle of enchant scrolls to a pet then open them on your alchemy main. Furthermore, you don’t have to deal with the hassle of burning an item to get the scroll. Besides, it’s not like anyone even runs Fortinbras’s Expedition anyways (or theater missions in general).
As a quick comparison, here are the effects of both enchants:
x2 Repair Cost
+ 5 Water Alchemic Damage
+ 4 Stamina
+ 4 Water Alchemic Damage if Water Cannon Rank 6+
+ 3 Water Alchemic Damage if Water Cannon Rank D+
Ideally, buy water drop burns and enchant everything you can with them and do Belvast daily sketch quests until you get your hands on enough ripple enchants to replace your water drop set. Cylinder-wise, you should either go with a Stiff Water Drop Water Cylinder or a Stiff Ripple Tidal Wave Cylinder. Stiff Water Drop Water Cylinders are quite common as they drop frequently from SCC HM. Tidal Wave Cylinders are pretty common as well though they are technically rarer and you will have to add both enchants onto it.
In the meantime, do your best to rank alchemy mastery and make this skill your priority until it’s capped. If you have AP to spare, invest it into the critical hit skill. Once you have your water cannon at r1, water mastery to r1, alchemy mastery at r9, and critical hit at r5 along with all of your equipment enchanted with ripple, proceed to phase 2!
Phase 2: Building General Use Stats
Time to work on building your critical rate! Critical is pivotal as it adds a 150% multiplier to your damage at rank 1. Most endgame level mobs require well over a 100% critical rate for you to even land a critical hit on them. Focusing on building your critical rate is thus advantageous for the transition into the advanced and hard mode difficulties.
At this stage, mana points or MP should be taken into consideration as well. With the recent update, 30% of your current mana points are added to your base water cannon damage. There are a substantial number of MP rich skills in the game and MP boasts one of the highest stat pools in the entire game. What’s more, the distribution of MP is largely the same across all three races making stat reinforcement facile for any character!
This then begs the question of what stat do you focus on at this point? Though MP will boost your base damage at reasonable rate, the ability to critical enemies will boost your clearing time and efficiency in dungeons and missions. In a pragmatic sense, your critical stat will have more value than MP at this stage. The will and luck stats both contribute to critical wherein there is a 1% gain with 10 and 5 of each respective stat point. Skills that give will are slightly uncommon whereas there are only four luck giving skills in the entire skill pool. Among these four luck skills, only harvest song can be considered AP efficient and ranking that would give you a nice 4% critical boost. But after ranking harvest song, then what?
I recommend that you rank a skill that gives both MP and will, thunder! This skill has excellent stat gains despite the high AP investment and it allows you to raft efficiently thereby gaining you valuable exploration levels. If you’re put off by the amount of AP to rank 1– a whopping 409 AP for 90 MP and 29 will – then ranking life skills that furnish will is a viable option to build your critical. Windmill is an excellent option as well and is great if you plan on becoming an alchemist/melee hybrid in the future. Of course, don’t forget to finish up your critical hit skill as you’ll want that maximum critical multiplier as soon as possible! Below is a small compilation of skills that are befitting for will gains. They’re ranked according to will/AP gain with the most efficient entry at the top.
- Hoeing (0.36)
- Critical Hit (0.34)
- Windmill (0.28)
- Harvest Song* (0.28)
- Harvesting (0.24)
- Thunder (0.08)
* Gives luck but equates to 2*will efficiency
Once you’ve ranked roughly three or four of these skills, it would be advantageous to also rank mana shield to the current r6 cap in order to improve survivability. Don’t forget to keep training alchemy mastery as well! It’s a tough skill but it’s the only skill left that contributes directly to your water cannon damage! Aim to get r5 before moving on to this next phase!
Phase 3: Hybridization
If you’ve managed to follow this guide to this point, congratulations as you’re likely an apt alchemist now! At this point, it’s up to you whether you want to continue down the path of alchemy or pursue other passions in the game! Most human and giant Milletians decide to pursue melee combat at this stage while many elves decide to take up ranged combat. Other less traditional routes include puppeteering and magic but ultimately it’s up to the practitioner.