Archer Demon vs Sage

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If you're an archer heading towards level 89 it's time to decide if you're going to go demon or sage. This page compares and contrasts the differences between demon and sage for archers to help you decide which is for you.


PvE Cultivation Comparisons

As a PvE archer you can choose to use either a bow or fists/claws. Recently, with the 5 APS hype, fists and claws have become much more popular amongst archers. If you were smart you would roll an assassin. Assassins can deal 3x more damage and heal themselves while doing it. If you're still too stubborn to switch, then the arguments presented here are more applicable to you.

The first major difference between demon and sage archers is their spark.

Sage Demon
+500% Weapon Attack
Reduces damage by 25% Reduces Interval by -0.10

Due to demon spark's increased attack rate demons required 2 less interval pieces to achieve 5 APS. Depending on your server's economic situation, simply having a demon archer can save up to 700 million coins as you may not need to purchase a scroll of tomb to achieve 5 APS. If you're willing to spend the 700 million, then a demon cultivation can prevent you from investing un-needed points into strength. The following are two 5 APS builds for a sage archer:

There are varying builds of armor that will allow sage archers to reach 5 APS. The primary advantage of a demon cultivation is the flexibility to add higher grade gear to their characters while still having the ability to attack at 5 APS. To reach 5 APS as a Sage Archer, some armor slots must be sacrificed for lower grade interval pieces.

Although sage archers have a disadvantage gear-wise, spark-wise sage archers are superior. Since it is impossible to exceed 5 APS, sage archers have the advantage of 25% damage reduction. The 25% damage reduction helps sage archers tank heavy melee damage should a sage archer pull aggro.

PvP Cultivation Comparisons

For PvP there are 3 important factors:

  • (1) Critical Rate
  • (2) Attack Speed
  • (3) Damage Per Hit

As an Archer, a Bow is the weapon of choice for PvP. Primary reason is that most end-game bows have the interval of a slingshot, a better damage spread, and the ability to purge. As of June 6, 2011, most servers have heavily geared characters. This ranges from TT99 to Rank 9. Most end-game characters usually have higher refines and better physical defense. The best geared characters are impossible to kill as an archer when they're fully buffed.

A fully buffed Rank 9 character with full Jades of Steady Defense will have nearly double if not more than double their Defense Rating. A full Rank 9 archer can jump from 40,000 defense rating to 120,000 in the extremist of cases. It is imperative that you be able to debuff these people if you hope to ever be able to kill them.

Attack Speed

Well attack speed is a no-brainer for archers. Attempt to gain as much attack speed as possible without sacrificing damage per hit. The higher your attack speed with a bow, the more shots you can make within a limited period of time. In PvP you must be able to tear through an opponent's HP in less than 10 seconds. If you can't, you will never be able to kill a charmed opponent.

Assuming you have an end-game archer with average gear (as of June, 2011), you likely have about 0.8-0.87 attacks per second - see Archer Attack Speed Basics for more information on how Interval works. This means in 10 seconds you can deal a total of 8 hits at best.

Attack Speed Shots fired in 10 seconds
0.80 8
0.83 8
0.87 8
0.91 9
0.95 9
1.00 10
1.05 10
1.11 11
1.18 11
1.25 12
1.33 13
1.43 14

Fortunately, for demon archers, both Spark and Quickshot grant a -0.1 interval buff. This allows demon archers to increase their attack speed with the same gear as a sage archer. Although, to be fair archer chi is better spent on other things than sparking. Which leaves Quickshot as a demon archers triumph card.

Using demon Quickshot, archers can hit the next interval bracket 0.87 - 0.95 attacks per second. Once an archer hits 0.91 attacks per second, an archer will deal 9 shots in 10 seconds. Effectively, as demon archers get more base interval, the benefits of Quickshot on attack speed for PvP increase.

Critical Rate

It's easy to understand why critical rate is important in PvP for bow-weilding archers. When a shot criticals the damage is doubled. To compete with equally geared opponents, criticals are how you as an archer are going to win. Criticals are the archer's charm breaker. Criticals can allow archers to nearly double their damage.

The question is: how much of a difference does critical rate make? Does an archer with 2% more passive critical rate, hit more critical hits? What about 10%? The answer comes from the statistics, more specifically the Binomial Distribution. For those less-math-literate people reading this article, the binomial distribution basically tells us how likely K-critical hits are likely in N shots, with a critical rate of P.

Chance of at least K critical hits in 8 shots
K-Critical Hits 10% Critical Rate 20% Critical Rate 30% Critical Rate 40% Critical Rate
1 56.95% 83.22% 94.24% 98.32%
2 18.68% 49.67% 74.47% 89.36%
3 3.81% 20.31% 44.82% 68.46%
4 0.5% 5.63% 19.41% 40.59%
5 0.04% 1.04% 5.80% 18.37%
6 0.002% 0.12% 1.13% 4.98%
7 0.00007% 0.008% 0.13% 0.85%
8 0.000001% 0.0002% 0.006% 0.06%
Chance of at least K critical hits in 9 shots
K-Critical Hits 10% Critical Rate 20% Critical Rate 30% Critical Rate 40% Critical Rate
1 61.26% 86.58% 95.96% 98.99%
2 22.52% 56.38% 80.40% 92.94%
3 5.30% 26.18% 53.72% 76.82%
4 0.83% 8.56% 27.03% 51.73%
5 0.089% 1.96% 9.88% 26.66%
6 0.006% 0.31% 2.53% 9.93%
7 0.0002% 0.031% 0.43% 2.50%
8 0.000008% 0.002% 0.043% 0.38%
9 0.0000001% 0.00005% 0.001% 0.03%

Typically end-game archers have around 30% critical rate. From the charts above, a 10% increase in critical rate translates into a much higher probability that half of an archer's shots will critical. Attack rate also increases the frequency that shots will critical in a given time period.

Again critical-rate favors a demon cultivation. Demons can improve their chances of critical hits when they use their critical-rate increasing skills, combined with their attack speed increasing Quickshot. For sage archers, Quickshot is the only sage skill to increase their critical rate.

Demon/Sage Skill Comparisons

Sage and demon skills for archers are very contested. Each skill may have its own use depending on whether its being used for PvE or PvP. Generally demon archer skills are better for PvP than their sage counterparts. This is primarily because demon archer skills target 2 of 3 defining traits of a bow-using archer:

  • (1) Critical Damage
  • (2) Attack Speed

The following table lists sage and demon skill differences considering their use in PvE and PvP.

Take Aim.jpg Take Aim
Sage Demon
  • Not really used.
  • Not really used.
  • More damage fully charged.
  • Not practical to be channeling for 3 seconds.
  • Less channeling time.
  • Not practical to be channeling for 2.5 seconds.
Quickshot.jpg Quickshot
Sage Demon
  • Gain 10 chi and +20% critstrike rate for 10 seconds.
  • The only sage skill upgrade to increase the rate of critical strikes.
  • 50% chance to increase attack rate by 30% for 6 seconds (equivalent to -0.1 interval).
  • Increases damage with a bow significantly.
  • Not practical to waste 1.6 seconds channeling and casting.
  • Increasing attack rate makes it easier to kill charmed opponents.
  • Increases chi gathering rate by hitting more in less time.
  • Very practical, staple move of demon archers.
Lightning Strike.jpg Lightning Strike
Sage Demon
  • 25% chance for 20 chi.
  • Never misses, but against monsters this is practically useless.
  • Extra chi gain when used (1/4 shots).
  • Never misses.
  • Extremely useful against classes with high evasion (archers, blademasters, assassins)
  • Guaranteed finishing shot.
Thunder Shock.jpg Thunder Shock
Sage Demon
  • Longer metal reduction for people metal-maging.
  • No real benefit.
  • Longer metal debuff
  • In mass PvP it doesn't make a difference, they either die too fast for the time to count, or get purified.
  • 10% chance to Paralyze (Seal + Immobilize).
  • Cannot rely on the skill to proc.
  • When it procs it makes a big difference in Mass PvP.
  • Just a side benefit of using Thunder Shock
Thunderous Blast.jpg Thunderous Blast
Sage Demon
  • Decreases channeling time by 0.5 seconds.
  • Decreases cooldown by 1 second
  • Typically wont use thunderous blast more than once
  • 400 extra metal damage
  • Typically wont use thunderous blast more than once.
  • Decreased channeling time lets archers cycle through metal attacks easier.
  • No real benefit except for 400 extra metal damage.
Stunning Arrow.jpg Stunning Arrow
Sage Demon
  • 1 second longer stun.
  • Have the ability to deal 1 more shot of damage.
  • Increased critical rate (10% increase).
  • Have a greater chance to double the damage of each hit in the 3.5 seconds.
  • Longer stuns give more time to deal damage.
  • In mass PvP it helps the team by holding an opponent in place for 1 second longer.
  • Increased critical rate means more damage can be dealt after stunning.
  • In TW other classes will be better at stunning than archers (other classes have longer stuns)
  • Archer stun is typically used as an emergency stop to other targets that target you.
  • Combined with Quickshot, the interval + critical rate plays into an archers strength.
Deadly Shot.jpg Deadly Shot
Sage Demon
  • Not practical to use
  • Not practical to use
  • Deals full damage when targets are closer than 5 meters.
  • Not practical to channel for 3 seconds.
  • Reduced cooldown + 400 damage
  • Not practical to channel for 3 seconds.
Blazing Arrow
Sage Demon
  • Permanent 10% extra fire damage based off of weapon damage.
  • 20% extra fire damage based off of weapon damage for 20 seconds.
  • No real long term benefit
  • Permanent 10% extra fire damage based off of weapon damage.
  • No real benefit except for normal blazing arrow damage.
Frost Arrow
Sage Demon
  • Attack is a water attack.
  • Don't really need to use frost arrow end-game.
  • 20% to cast without chi.
  • Don't really need to use frost arrow end-game.
  • Attack is a water attack.
  • Not really needed. Sage archers have a solid metal attack chain.
  • Not used.
Sharpened Tooth Arrow
Sage Demon
  • 20% HP reduction
  • 16% HP reduction
  • Increases critical rate by 10%.
  • HP reduction helps against high HP targets.
  • HP reduction helps against high HP targets.
  • Increased critical rate combined with Quickshot and an opponent with lowered HP plays into an archers strengths.
Bow Mastery
Sage Demon
  • 90% ranged attack increase
  • Increases critical rate by 1%
  • 15% more damage per shot (over demon archers).
  • 1% more likely to double damage of 1 single shot.
Winged Blessing
Sage Demon
  • 2 meter attack range increase
  • Increases critical rate by 1%
  • Increases accuracy by 10%
  • Distance isn't significant, all characters move 2 meters in half a second, if your ping is about 250, then the 2 meter advantage is 100% useless.
  • 10% accuracy only useful against heavy evasion classes - archers, sins, blademasters.
  • 1% more likely to double damage of 1 single shot.
Wings of Protection
Sage Demon
  • Don't have to rebuff yourself for 1 hour (or 15 minutes if you want the speed buff).
  • Increases evasion by an additional 10%
  • Increases speed by an additional 5%
  • No difference.
  • 10% more evasion which stacks with Blessing of the Condor.
  • 0.2 meters per second speed boost
Barrage of Arrows.jpg Barrage of Arrows
Sage Demon
  • 33% less damage.
  • Damage reduction bad if a cleric is BBing
  • -0.5 seconds between volleys.
  • Mana is consumed faster.
  • Reduces damage taken.
  • Damage reduction impractical in mass PvP, you will be sealed or stunned before worrying about damage.
  • Reduced interval lets you fire more shots before sealed/stunned.

Dispelling Common Myths in Sage/Demon Arguments

2 Meters makes a difference.

  • The slowest characters in game move at 4.8 meters a second. In half a second (0.5 seconds) a character will have moved 2 meters. If your ping to the server is around or greater than 500 milliseconds, then a 2 meter advantage is useless. By the time you see your opponent, he is actually 2 meters closer than your maximum range.

15% more damage is huge!

  • Not really. An archer doubles the damage of their attack if they critical.
  • The real benefit of 15% more damage from sage Bow Mastery is that its permanent and guaranteed. Furthermore it will stack with critical hits from sage archers. In the long term 15% more damage may be beneficial. For short term (PvP) targets, higher critical rate is favorable. A doubled attack is far more valuable in the short term than an attack with 15% more damage to it.

More evasion will let me dodge more attacks.

  • Not really. Magic never misses, and end game physical attack characters are running around with +50% accuracy rings. The only time extra evasion is helpful is when you use Blessing of the Condor (level 79 skill) which increases your evasion by 1000%. This is very useful against melee classes and other archers.

Sage Blazing Arrow will stack with sage Bow Mastery.

  • Yes and no. Yes the damage will be added, but no, it will not be multiplied by sage Bow Mastery. Blazing Arrow will add 10% more weapon damage in fire attack after all other damage is calculated (before attack levels.) See the Damage page for more information.

Sage can triple Spark more.

  • Yes this is true. But it doesn't really matter: If you're gearing for PvE then you're likely going to have equipment that enables 5 attacks per second (APS). At this point demon and sage spark at equal rates. If you're using a bow it's likely for PvP, in which case your chi is better spent on defensive skills like Winged Shell, Wings of Grace, and Elven Alacrity. So yes, you can triple more, but is it useful? No.

2% extra critical rate makes a difference.

  • Yes it makes difference. But not a one big enough to be a major game-changer in your ability to critical more shots.

10% Accuracy doesn't make a difference.

  • Totally wrong if you care about PvP. While it doesn't make much of a difference against your typical arcane classes, against blademasters, assassins, and other archers it makes a huge difference. The latter two classes have naturally high evasion due to the pure (or near pure) DEX builds they use. Blademasters have above-average evasion if they've stated to be able to use claws/fists. The extra accuracy just might allow you to deliver fatal shots before their charm ticks.
  • Furthermore, if you PK, then you'll be facing more assassins than any other class.

Sage sharpened tooth's 20% HP reduction is more useful.

  • Totally in PvE, but not as far as PvP is concerned. The 4% advantage over demon Sharpened Tooth Arrow is minuscule and insignificant for low HP targets. Against better geared players with a little over 10,000 HP, a 4% difference translates to a mere 400-ish HP. Granted 400 HP might make the difference between death an ticking in rare circumstances, but most players with over 10,000 HP have insane gears. If you're not dealing quantities of damage that are much over 2000 HP a shot, you're going to get pulverized long before you make that 400 HP matter.
  • Against very high HP targets in TW (Territory War) such as catapult barbarians, 4% HP may translate into 800, 1200, or 1600 HP more HP taken off than demon Sharpened Tooth. While this matters from the prospective that a turtled barbarian will turn all 4 digit damage into low 3-digit damage, it is really insignificant when you consider that Bloodvow is your choice of skill here. Furthermore if a barbarian managed to turtle in TW, it means you lack demon cultivated characters using Mo-Zun's Taunt (chi stealing).

Thoughts and Considerations for End-Game cultivation choice

PvP vs PvE

Before making your choice about your archer's cultivation, you need to ask yourself:

  1. What will I be doing when I'm level 10x?
  2. What will I be doing when I have all the gear I want?
  3. What will I be doing when I have accomplished my goals?

Many archers say they're choosing their cultivation to do PvE activities for the rest of their time when playing an archer. But few actually consider what their PvE objectives/goals are, and even fewer consider what they'd do once their objectives are reached. What is there to farm? What comes after? TT99 (Twilight Temple)? Nirvana? Rank 8? Rank 9? What is there to do after you've leveled to 105?

Many who actually give this serious thought realize that building for PvE activities are a dead end. PvP, whether in the form of open-PK or TW, is where the "end-game" is. After you've achieved all you set out to achieve, is it enough to beat who you want to beat? If it isn't, this drives you to build your character, whether by improving your PvP skills or gear. It's no coincidence that the best geared archers and players are in large TW-centered guilds. The competition drives them to constantly upgrade their gear.

It's this sort of competition that drives many archers to keep playing archers. As an archer you are a vital TW asset that big guilds won't turn down if you have decent gear. You can be a Rank 8 archer with average-to-decent refines, and be considered more important than a full +12 rank 9 assassin with full Jades of Steady Defense.

So when choosing between your cultivation choose the cultivation that you think will allow you to be most effective in PvP. If you're serious about TW, keep in mind Mo-Zun's Taunt (demon chi steal) is more useful than Master Li's Technique (sage chi gain). The more demons you have, the faster catapult barbarians die because they cannot use defensive skills.