5E [GUIDE] I Fought the Law and Won: The Rogue Guide

vostygg

Villager
In general, if you hold total dice damage constant, one chance to crit yields the same expected added DPR as two chances to crit on weaker attacks. I see at the link that this build relies on constantly applying reckless attack and holding back sneak attack unless you crit. It's only because you're doing that that having the second attack actually buys you something re: crits. But I guess if you have constant advantage, elven accuracy, and a wide enough crit range that you can expect to crit most turns, then it's probably worth it.

I don't think this build works as written though: Elven Accuracy doesn't work with STR-based attacks, and rage only works with STR-based attacks. It may have been based on an obsolete UA wording of EA.

EDIT: Oh, I see that the thread predates the release of Xanathar's and therefore of the official Elven Accuracy feat. So it definitely is based on the UA version.
The numbers I posted do not rely on holding back sneak attack unless you crit, but I did fail to realize that Elven Accuracy does not apply to Strength-based attacks any more! That pretty much derails the efficacy of the build.
 

vostygg

Villager
That's at least not biased, but I don't think it makes sense to average over levels. For one thing, that assumes that you have the same amount of play time at every level, which isn't really reasonable. For another, the value of one point of damage means something very different at a high level compared to a low one (not to mention the variable value of the control effect and the variable value of a bonus action).
The break-even point for Booming Blade over TWF is actually much higher if you weight the averages based on which levels see the most play, since TWF performs better over all at lower levels, while Booming Blade really starts to take over at the highest levels.
 

Esker

Explorer
The numbers I posted do not rely on holding back sneak attack unless you crit, but I did fail to realize that Elven Accuracy does not apply to Strength-based attacks any more! That pretty much derails the efficacy of the build.
Oh, it's even worse than I thought isn't it? It's not just rage; Reckless Attack requires STR-based attacks too.

If you're not holding back sneak attack, then the extra damage you get from crits is just (to-crit-per-attack) * (total-dice-damage), regardless of the number of attacks you're making (assuming to-crit chance stays constant). If you're relying on the two-weapon fighting style for your base damage you're getting less value from crits, since more of your DPR is coming from static modifiers, which don't benefit from them.

Back of the envelope, suppose you did have a way of generating constant advantage that worked with elven accuracy, and you crit on an 18 or higher. Compare dual-scimitars to single rapier + BB at level 5:

TWF:

Base (1st attack): 1d6 + 4 = 7.5
Base (2nd attack): 1d6 = 3.5
Base to hit (advantage + elven accuracy): 0.936
Crit damage (per attack): 1d6 = 3.5
To-crit (per attack, advantage): 0.386
Sneak attack damage: 3d6 = 10.5
Sneak attack to hit: (1 - 0.064)^2 = 0.996
Sneak attack to crit (w/o holding it back): 0.386 + (0.064) * 0.386 = 0.411

Expected total damage: 0.936 * (7.5 + 3.5) + 2 * 3.5 * 0.386 + 0.996 * 10.5 + 0.411 * 10.5 = 27.8

Booming Blade:

Base Damage: 2d8 + 3d6 + 4 = 25.5
Base to-hit: 0.936
Crit Damage: 2d8 + 3d6 = 19.5
To-Crit: 0.386

Total: 0.936 * 23.5 + 0.386 * 19.5 = 29.5
 
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Yunru

Villager
The break-even point for Booming Blade over TWF is actually much higher if you weight the averages based on which levels see the most play, since TWF performs better over all at lower levels, while Booming Blade really starts to take over at the highest levels.
Ummm... what?
The value I gave was for level 5, which is the start of the most played area. Levels 1-4 are over in almost as many sessions.

BTW: When I add the Dual Wielder feat to the TWF build, the break-even point shifts up to about 52.5%, which is to say that the Booming Blade rider has to trigger at least 52.5% of the time in order for Booming Blade DPR to exceed TWF DPR on average across all levels.
Not even going to touch the hot mess that is averaging across all levels.


Did you add the "insert other use of ASI" for Booming Blade?
 
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vostygg

Villager
Ummm... what?
The value I gave was for level 5, which is the start of the most played area. Levels 1-4 are over in almost as many sessions.

Not even going to touch the hot mess that is averaging across all levels.

Did you add the "insert other use of ASI" for Booming Blade?
I was wondering how long it would take for the infamous EnWorld snark to rear its head! It's why a lot of people I know don't bother with these boards any more.

This whole thing is purely an academic exercise, since there is very little chance you are ever going to get your BB rider damage with high enough frequency to make the DPR for a Booming Blade Swashbuckler equal to that of a TWF Swashbuckler at almost any level, something which you seem unwilling to concede for some reason.

I won't even touch the hot mess that is taking the break-even point at level 5 and applying it across all levels.

Also, please show me which three or four ASIs you would choose in order to raise the Booming Blade DPR above the two or three ASIs still available to the TWF build with Dual Wielder. I'd be more than happy to factor these into the math if you supply them. Is it the magic white room owl familiar that never gets attacked and grants advantage every single round of every single combat?
 
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vostygg

Villager
Oh, it's even worse than I thought isn't it? It's not just rage; Reckless Attack requires STR-based attacks too.

If you're not holding back sneak attack, then the extra damage you get from crits is just (to-crit-per-attack) * (total-dice-damage), regardless of the number of attacks you're making (assuming to-crit chance stays constant). If you're relying on the two-weapon fighting style for your base damage you're getting less value from crits, since more of your DPR is coming from static modifiers, which don't benefit from them.

Back of the envelope, suppose you did have a way of generating constant advantage that worked with elven accuracy, and you crit on an 18 or higher. Compare dual-scimitars to single rapier + BB at level 5:

TWF:

Base (1st attack): 1d6 + 4 = 7.5
Base (2nd attack): 1d6 = 3.5
Base to hit (advantage + elven accuracy): 0.936
Crit damage (per attack): 1d6 = 3.5
To-crit (per attack, advantage): 0.386
Sneak attack damage: 3d6 = 10.5
Sneak attack to hit: (1 - 0.064)^2 = 0.996
Sneak attack to crit (w/o holding it back): 0.386 + (0.064) * 0.386 = 0.411

Expected total damage: 0.936 * (7.5 + 3.5) + 2 * 3.5 * 0.386 + 0.996 * 10.5 + 0.411 * 10.5 = 27.8

Booming Blade:

Base Damage: 2d8 + 3d6 + 4 = 25.5
Base to-hit: 0.936
Crit Damage: 2d8 + 3d6 = 19.5
To-Crit: 0.386

Total: 0.936 * 23.5 + 0.386 * 19.5 = 29.5
Yes, the inability to use Reckless Attack in conjunction with Elven Accuracy pretty much derails the build.

I agree that, with some way to generate advantage on every attack, Booming Blade becomes a lot better. Without something like Reckless Attack, how would you do it? I know a lot of people like to tout the owl familiar as a source of constant advantage, but in my experience, the owl gets pasted pretty quickly, and usually grants advantage for about one or two rounds every short rest. At 1 HP, it makes an irresistible target, and killing it provides foes with an easy way to try to even the odds against an overwhelming force, especially if they are forced to use a ranged attack any way in order to avoid the BB rider. It's an instant debuff, as opposed to slugging away at the bottomless bag of HP which is the typical PC without diminishing his damage output one bit. I won't even bother to mention AOE attacks. Outside the white room, I find the advantage provided by the owl is highly situational.
 
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Yunru

Villager
since there is very little chance you are ever going to get your BB rider damage with high enough frequency to make the DPR for a Booming Blade Swashbuckler equal to that of a TWF Swashbuckler at almost any level
This here? This is an opinion. One that, in my experience, is wrong.

I won't even touch the hot mess that is taking the break-even point at level 5 and applying it across all levels.
Sure is a good thing that was never suggested then. If only someone had worked it out across every level so we could just check out the points where BB changes (<5,5,11,17), since that'd give a best-case for BB.

Also, please show me which three or four ASIs you would choose in order to raise the Booming Blade DPR above the two or three ASIs still available to the TWF build with Dual Wielder. I'd be more than happy to factor these into the math if you supply them. Is it the magic white room owl familiar that never gets attacked and grants advantage every single round of every single combat?
For someone complaining about snark (in regards to a post that genuinely had none), this sure is a lot of snark.

I see your Dual Wielder and raise you a Shield Master.
 

Esker

Explorer
I agree that, with some way to generate advantage on every attack, Booming Blade becomes a lot better. Without something like Reckless Attack, how would you do it? I know a lot of people like to tout the owl familiar as a source of constant advantage, but in my experience, the owl gets pasted pretty quickly
The owl familiar is certainly in YMMV territory, but my AT's owl doesn't get killed too often. But part of the reason for that is that there are often other sources of advantage available, so I don’t have to make constant flybys.

With shadow blade I automatically get advantage in dim light. When not in dim light I'll often use Web to restrain enemies.

Granted these are not available to a swashbuckler - - another reason to prefer AT, though it also helps that I took wizard levels for more slots - - but other characters can provide advantage as well: faerie fire and blindness are two that come up a lot at my table, but if you have a battlemaster or a character with shield master, they have a lot of ways to give you advantage too. Our cleric will occasionally use an action to dim the lights using thaumaturgy once she has her concentration spell up.

I think most people recognize how valuable advantage is to a rogue (especially one with booming blade and elven accuracy as mine has) that they're likely to work a bit at giving it to you.
 

Esker

Explorer
I mean, the most reliable is the Mastermind, at least in pairs.
Yeah, that'd be a powerful combo, if a RP recipe for some spoiled broth, as it were. Pretty rare (in my experience, anyway) to see a group with two characters sharing a class, let alone a subclass, though.
 

vostygg

Villager
If only someone had worked it out across every level so we could just check out the points where BB changes (<5,5,11,17), since that'd give a best-case for BB.
As it happens, I have those numbers right here. The percentage for each level represents the minimum frequency with which the BB rider damage has to trigger in order for the DPR of a BB Swashbuckler to exceed that of a TWF Swashbuckler, without factoring in the Dual Wielder feat. If the percentage is greater than 100%, it means that the DPR of the BB Swashbuckler cannot be made to equal that of the TWF Swashbuckler at that level, even if the BB rider damage triggers 100% of the time.

Level 1: 93.8850%

Level 2: 93.8850%

Level 3: >100.0000%

Level 4: >100.0000%

Level 5: 26.4850%

Level 6: 26.4850%

Level 7: 43.3350%

Level 8: 43.3350%

Level 9: 60.1850%

Level 10: 60.1850%

Level 11: 15.2449%

Level 12: 15.2449%

Level 13: 26.4850%

Level 14: 26.4850%

Level 15: 37.7150%

Level 16: 37.7150%

Level 17: 9.6250%

Level 18: 9.6250%

Level 19: 18.0549%

Level 20: 18.0549%


At the levels which see the most play (1-10), TWF is dominant, with break-even points above 60% for 6 out of the 10 levels.

Here is an example of the math at level 5. Feel free to point out any errors you think you may see:

TWF DPR at Level 5:

Regular DPR (Main Hand): 0.6 * (avg(1d6) + 4) = 0.6 * (3.5 + 4) = 0.6 * 7.5 = 4.5
Crit DPR (Main Hand): 0.05 * avg(1d6) = 0.05 * 3.5 = 0.175
Regular DPR (Off Hand): 0.6 * avg(1d6) = 0.6 * 3.5 = 2.1
Crit DPR (Off Hand): 0.05 * avg(1d6) = 0.05 * 3.5 = 0.175
Regular Sneak Attack DPR: (1 - 0.4 * 0.4) * avg(3d6) = 0.84 * 10.5 = 8.82
Crit Sneak Attack DPR: 0.05 * avg(3d6) + (0.4 * 0.05 * avg(3d6)) = 0.05 * 10.5 + (0.02 * 10.5) = 0.735

Total DPR: 16.505

BB DPR at Level 5:

Regular DPR: 0.6 * (avg(2d8) + 4) = 0.6 * (9 + 4) = 0.6 * 13 = 7.8
Crit DPR: 0.05 * avg(2d8) = 0.05 * 9 = 0.45
Regular Sneak Attack DPR: 0.6 * avg(3d6) = 0.6 * 10.5 = 6.3
Crit Sneak Attack DPR: 0.05 * avg(3d6) = 0.05 * 10.5 = 0.525
Rider Damage DPR: 0.6 * (0.26485 * avg(2d8)) = 0.6 * (0.26485 * 9) = 1.4302

Total DPR: 16.5052

I see your Dual Wielder and raise you a Shield Master.
Except that the bonus action Shove takes place AFTER you use your Attack action, or are we cherry-picking the parts of the Sage Advice Compendium that benefit our characters, and ignoring the rest?

For someone complaining about snark (in regards to a post that genuinely had none), this sure is a lot of snark.
I only snark in self-defense. Whether you intended it or not, your post came across as very snarky. Self-awareness is a good thing!
 

vostygg

Villager
The owl familiar is certainly in YMMV territory, but my AT's owl doesn't get killed too often. But part of the reason for that is that there are often other sources of advantage available, so I don’t have to make constant flybys.

With shadow blade I automatically get advantage in dim light. When not in dim light I'll often use Web to restrain enemies.

Granted these are not available to a swashbuckler - - another reason to prefer AT, though it also helps that I took wizard levels for more slots - - but other characters can provide advantage as well: faerie fire and blindness are two that come up a lot at my table, but if you have a battlemaster or a character with shield master, they have a lot of ways to give you advantage too. Our cleric will occasionally use an action to dim the lights using thaumaturgy once she has her concentration spell up.

I think most people recognize how valuable advantage is to a rogue (especially one with booming blade and elven accuracy as mine has) that they're likely to work a bit at giving it to you.
All very good points, though also very situational. I play in a lot of groups where the players are not very tactical.
 

vostygg

Villager
Why does that matter? You're wanting to do that anyway so they have to move back and take extra damage.
(N.B. You're shoving away, not prone)
I see. I thought you were trying to use it as a consistent source of advantage, but you are instead using it to up the probability that your rider damage will trigger against opponents with no ranged capabilities. Sure, I'll buy it. I still very much doubt you'll reach the frequencies you need to overtake TWF with Dual Wielder, especially from levels 1-10. I'd be happy to post those break-even points if you'd like.
 

Esker

Explorer
All very good points, though also very situational. I play in a lot of groups where the players are not very tactical.
Dim lighting is situational, albeit a pretty common situation. Shield master / battlemaster setup is dependent on initiative order, but has roughly a 50/50 chance of falling the right way. The other spells have luck/resource/concentration factors that prevent them from being sure things. In any given group you're likely to have a few of these kinds of sources available, and taken together they don't end up seeming that situational any more. If you save your owl flybys for situations when you don't have any other way of gaining advantage, it's not too hard to wind up with advantage a large majority of the time.

Most of my group isn't overly tactical either, but if I point out a tactic between sessions, they're generally receptive. And after all, some classes' entire roles is to do this kind of thing (lots of subclasses of the full arcane casters).

Speaking of situational, though, I would reiterate that the kinds of average DPR differences we're talking about in comparing TWF to BB are small enough at most levels that they really ought to be outweighed by situational/contextual considerations (party makeup, encounter makeup, opportunity costs, etc.). Either one is a reasonable way to fight, and it's a bit silly to try to claim that either one is strictly superior to the other.
 

vostygg

Villager
Speaking of situational, though, I would reiterate that the kinds of average DPR differences we're talking about in comparing TWF to BB are small enough at most levels that they really ought to be outweighed by situational/contextual considerations (party makeup, encounter makeup, opportunity costs, etc.). Either one is a reasonable way to fight, and it's a bit silly to try to claim that either one is strictly superior to the other.
I agree with this. I started my series of posts in an effort to debunk a commonly held belief I've encountered (a product of group-think I would guess), that Booming Blade is strictly better than TWF for Swashbucklers. By the numbers, TWF yields higher non-situational DPR at every level of play. Are there specific situations where Booming Blade can come out on top? Of course there are. YMMV based on situation and context.
 

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