January 14, 2012

Ace's Light Sabre Gladiator Build (PVE)

First of all , I would like to emphasis that Skill Builds are very unique and meant to be cope with gamers' play style. So , take this as a guide line but don't follow it solely.
Before going into details of the Gladiator Build, as usual, I will show the description of the 3 new skills first.
Gladiator Skills
  • Evasion Slash: Rotate backwards to avoid enemy and launch an attack. Can be triggered during any skill motion even if in air. Invincible while casting. Phy dmg 250%+954, CD 25sec at Lv3.
  • Triple Slash EX: Enhanced version of triple slash. New attack combo by using right clicking instead of left clicking.
  • Finishing Attack: Knock down your enemy and deal finishing blow. Phy dmg 350.2%+2584. CD 35sec at Lv1. If target’s hp is below 40%, increase the skill dmg by 2% for each 1% of hp left.
The video below shows a gladiator solo-ing a quest dungeon.

The player in the video shown here doesn't use the following skill build. Please be cautious

Good day everybody! If you're here then you most likely want to learn about playing Gladiators in Dragon Nest! If so, congrats! Few other classes get to enjoy the fluidity and dynamic game play of Gladiators!

This guide about Gladiators aims to gear swordsmasters into a PVE (not PVP, there are other guides for that) worthy class. Within this post you'll find my recommended skill build, items, and general tips on game play. It's important to realise that this is ultimately a guide (not an iron clad rule book :P), and just one of many out there on the internet at that, so there will always be aspects you may find controversial. Nonetheless i will attempt to present my own rationalizations and reasons each step of the way (so please read all the way through for reasonings). Enjoy!  

Let’s get some quick points down for review. As a DPS and DMG buffer class you have two main stats for damage, STR (strength) and AGI (agility):

For a Warrior:
1 STR = 0.5 PATK.
1 STR = 3 Paralyze Chance.
1 STR = 3 Paralyze Resist.
1 STR = 2.5 Stun Chance

1 AGI = 0.25 PATK.
1 AGI = 3.5 Critical Chance.
1 AGI = 10.5 Critical Resist.


Lvl. 50 17000 CRIT = 89% (max) CRIT Chance
Lvl. 60 33000 CRIT = 89% (max) CRIT Chance

Keep this in mind when choosing which stat to stack when building your character! But more on this later~

Skill Build (Lvl. 60)


Skill Build (Lvl. 50)

Skill Crests
Crests can either be used to enhanced your play style or balance your shortcomings. My choices are based on survival and enhanced burst damage. More of this will be covered in the skill usage section just below, but in general i take the Parry Stance Duration buff to assist in survivability and Finishing Attack CD because out of the two options it grants the most additional DPS. 

My Skill Crests
Finishing Attack CD Reduction
Hacking Stance Dmg Increase
Parry Stance Duration Increase
Infinity Edge Dmg Increase


Other Possible Skill Crests
Finishing Attack Dmg Increase
Great Wave Dmg Increase
Triple Slash Dmg Increase
Dash Slash Dmg Increase
Deep Straight Dmg Increase
Evasion Slash Dmg Increase
Dash Plate -30% DMG Reduction

Enhancement Plates

My Skill Crests
Final Damage (FD)
Paralyze (PARA)
Critical (CRIT)
Strength (Bear/Dire)
Agility (Windswept)
Life (HP)
Health (VIT)
Destructive (DMG/PATK)


Other Possible Skill Crests
Barrage (Tent/MDEF)
Indomitable (PDEF)

Suffix (Armor)
Gladiators rely on PATK, CRIT and FD to deal damage. Each CRIT deals double the damage! (x2) As a result, CRIT is the main route of enhancing damage for Gladiators! So build that CRIT!

As far as PVE Gladiators go, there are two prevalent suffix choices for armour. People usually decide on armour suffix based on bonus statsnot armour abilities. A combination of Windswept and Dire/Bear are the most common amongst PVE Gladiators. Windswept gives you more agility which in turn enhances your critical, but it only gives you half of the PATK Dire/Bear would give you. Dire/Bear gives you double the amount of additional PATK, more STUN, and more PARA, but doesn't enhance your CRIT in anyway. If you can afford the third stat CRIT plates and get +17% CRIT potentials, getting Dire/Bear would be the better choice, otherwise consider getting Windswept. 

My Build (PVE)

For Dire/Bear hidden potentials, the ideal potentials are a combination of any of the four:
Strength 4.50%
Agility 4.50%
Vitality 3.25%
MAX HP 6.50%

If you lack gold or have a hard time gaining critical potentials I recommend this build (although feel free to mix and match suffixes according to stat preferences, all armour pieces don’t necessarily have to be Windswept or Dire):

Critical Build (PVE)

For Windswept hidden potentials, the ideal potentials are a combination of any of the four:
Agility 4.50%
Strength 4.50%
Vitality 3.25%
MAX HP 6.50%

Suffix (Weapons)
If you have the time it's worth reading this link:
Intel Vs. Tent

My Build (PVE)
Gauntlet(Iron Wall/Sturdy)

Ideal hidden potentials for Gladiator weapons are:
PATK DMG 5.75~5.75%
Critical 17.00%
Strength 4.50%
Agility 4.50%
MP Recovery 15.00%

Put simply, if we apply the Chaose’s findings in the first link we get:
1). A weapon with Higher % or Equal % refreshes and overwrites the current debuff. 
2). A weapon with Lower % cannot overwrite the current debuff induced by a Higher % weapon. 
3). The % here refers to the highest effect % on a single weapon held by the player, NOT the total % in both weapons.

As an example, if I had a +10 sword with the windswept suffix it means I’d run the risk of overwriting the debuff of someone who could apply a better debuff if they had both sub-weapon and main-weapon with a windswept suffix. This is a problem if parties want to maximise their suffix effects in nests. Enter the light saber!


Why the light suffix?
(+10 Main Weapon Light Suffix II) +52.65% Light Element
(Paladin) Lvl. 3 Conviction Aura +25% Light Element
(Priest) Lvl.5 Blessing of Light +21% Light Element
(Intel Suffix II) -13.25% Element Resistance

At level 60, in a party with both a paladin and priest (very easy in SDN or GDN) you net 98.65% extra damage! (not counting Intel debuffs). This is a substantial boost to damage and doesn’t run the risk of overwriting other party member’s weapon effects. The Light Suffix is the only elemental suffix I’d consider worthwhile due to being able to easily acquire extra damage without the need for building Light % in potentials (meaning you should still aim for PATK and CRIT potentials).Don’t waste your time with Water, Fire or Dark suffix (unless you play CDN or KDN and have an old Dark Manticore sword). Of course the Light Suffix is limited in that it only triggers once every 30 seconds, this makes it somewhat easier to time with Finishing Attack however. With a CD reduction plate Finishing Attack as a cooldown of 16.8 seconds, so you can almost use two Finishing Attacks in the time it takes for the Light Suffix ability to cooldown.

Compared to the other suffix:
Destructive gives +58 ~ 77 more PATK
Assume four hidden potentials of 5.75% ~ 5.75%
= 71.34 ~ 94.71 additional PATK

Windswept gives 324 AGI and -57 ~ 78
Assume at least seven AGI hidden potentials of 4.50%
= 426.06 additional AGI
= 1491 additional CRIT, but minus the lower base CRIT it adds 36 CRIT overall
= 106.5 additional PATK, but minus the lower base PATK it adds 28.5 PATK overall

Overall the other suffix are more or less similar stat wise. The key advantage of the Light Suffix is the massive burst of damage every 30secs in comparison to Destructive's suffix ability. Windswept maybe desirable for its CRIT RESIST reduction, but as i'm already at the CRIT cap, it's ultimately less worthwhile.

Without Buffs

With Priest Blessing of Light

BUT, if you’re struggling to reach the CRIT cap then you should still get either Fatal or Windswept. Dealing consistent crits is still more important for a Gladiator! But for someone like me who’s already at the CRIT cap, the Light Suffix is a great little damage booster outside of obscenely expensive FD plates. 

CRIT Build (PVE)

Standard Build (PVE)
Sword(Windswept) or (Destructive)
Gauntlet(Iron Wall/Sturdy)

In terms of the gauntlet suffixes, I’d strongly suggest every PVE Gladiator out there to get Iron Wall/Sturdy. A Lvl. 60 Iron Wall Gauntlet with Suffix II has a 30% chance to reduce a target’s PDEF by -30% for 10 seconds! Since CRITS no longer ignore armour in T4, having a PDEF debuff is incredibly useful for Gladiators.


If you want to be party friendly, I can’t recommend anything more than skill accessories. In particular I think most Gladiators would benefit from getting the Luring Slice/Heavy Hammer/Hemorrahage (whatever you want to call it ~.~) skill accessory. A +5% boost to all damage seems small, but in parties and 8-man nests in particular, this skill is the main reason Swordmasters are taken – to boost every ones damage even further.

Finishing Attack is one of the highest damaging Gladiator skills considering its short CD (assuming CD plate) and high DPS, so getting a skill ring allows you to benefit more from it's skill affect (Finishing Attack's damage growth isn't anything remarkable, but the boost to its skill affect is substantial). An Evasion Slash skill accessory is useful as each level reduces the CD of Evasion Slash by 0.5 seconds. So obviously the higher the level, the more you can abuse Evasion Slash’s i-frame, but it isn’t absolutely necessary. 

My Build (PVE)
Ring: PATK Skill Ring – Luring Slice
Ring: CRIT Skill Ring – Finishing Attack
Earring: Windswept or Dire
Necklace: Dire Skill Accessory – Evasion Slash

Ideal hidden potentials for rings are:
PATK DMG 5.75~5.75%
Critical 17.00%
Strength 4.50%
Agility 4.50%
MP Recovery 15.00%

Ideal hidden potentials for earrings and necklace are:
Strength 4.50%
Agility 4.50%
Vitality 3.25%
MAX HP 6.50%


Skill Usage
Gladiators get to enjoy some of the shortest CDs for abilities of all the classes:
12 second Triple Slash
13 second Deep Straight
5 second Dash Slash/Combo
8 second Evasion Slash
27 second Line Drive
16.8 second Finishing Attack (assuming CD plate)

This enables for some amazing skill rotations and DPS, especially if Gladiators choose to alternate damage buffs between Brave/Courage and Luring Slice. Alternatively you can use Luring Slice, pop Brave then follow up with Infinity Edge then Finishing Attack for some amazing burst damage.

Why Circle Break and not Rising Slash?
I know Rising Slash is a staple move for PVP Gladiators, but it just takes too damn long in PVE and you’re liable to missing some of its hits. Circle Break is just one hit, easy to use and provides some much needed AOE to Gladiators. I left Rising Slash in at level 50 because it balances nicely at the lower levels, helping you fulfill the obligatory 45 SP for the warrior tree. If you want to focus on single target damage however, Rising Slash does deal more damage than Circle Break.

Why leave Line Drive/Rage at level 1?
Line Drive used to be an incredible damaging move prior to T4. Since then its coefficient has dropped from 4 to 1. This means each hit from Line Drive does a quarter of its total damage (meaning it needs 4 hits to achieve its full damage). I wouldn’t bother levelling Line Drive unless you’re level 60, have a skill accessory for Line Drive (to reach level 11) and can consistently land all four hits. Below level 60, I don’t feel it’s worth it, especially now in comparison to the Moonlord’s counterpart – Half Moon Slash. Mainly I use it as a gap closer, or escape mechanism.

What are coefficients? And do they affect other skills?
Coefficients are skill damage multipliers and generally add towards increasing skill damage. Most skills have a skill coefficient of 1, meaning no additional multipliers. Skills with an altered skill coefficient are:
Hacking Stance (20.5)
Luring Slice (1.09)
Triple Slash EX (1.3) 
Deep Straight EX (1.5)
Infinity Edge (1.5)

Moonlight Splitter (3)

In the case of Line Drive with a skill coefficient of 1, it means that you have to land all hits to attain full damage. The same can be said for Cyclone Slash, Crescent Cleave or Deep Straight (without EX). All other SM skills have a coefficient of 1.

Coefficients factors into damage calculations in the following manner:

(((Min Damage + Max Damage)/2) * %Amp + Additional Damage) * Coefficient * Critical * (1 + 0.%Elemental Boost) *(1 – 0.%Elemental Resist) * (% Additional damage)

Yes, this means that Hacking Stance has a 20.5x damage amplifier. If we assume 12000 - 16000 PATK range and max CRIT, Lvl 12 Hacking Stance can achieve (without considering enemy PDEF):

((14000 * 1.74 + 4135) * 20.5 * 2)
=1168295 DMG Total

If a Lvl 8 Luring Slice is applied
=1752443 DMG Total

If a Lvl 8 Luring Slice + lvl 7 Brave is applied
=2278175 DMG Total

Party Skills
Luring Slice/Heavy Hammer/Hemorrahage and Highlander are your main party skills. Luring Slice is one of the best ATK buffs in-game outside of Elestra ice stacks so always be sure to have it handy at boss fights. A Lvl 8 Luring Slice provides an almost near permanent (15sec on, 7sec off) 50% DMG boost on single targets for every single party member, which is incredibly valuable in raids and nests.
Highlander becomes vital in later 8-man nests. People will often ask you to interchange its use between you and likely a Mercenary so the likelihood of people dieing is reduced.

The new Brave skill reduces the super armor breaking ability of enemy attacks also, but since its tied in with the DMG buff, you'll have to leverage whats more important depending on the situation sometimes. You can lower chance of interrupted moves for all party members and/or buff yourself.

Damage Skills
Something to consider when leveling up skills is that all damage skills experience a sudden jump in damage growth every 5 levels. So skill levels 6, 11 and 16 are your lucky numbers. Hence the level 16 Triple Slash, 11 Deep Straight and 6 Dash Slash/Combo. Hacking Stance is worth maxing since it’s become such an insanely high DPS attack.

Brave/Courage is worth maxing likewise to increase its duration. Is it worth getting a skill accessory for though? (if or when one is implemented) So far at level 60, I’d say no. The next level up only increases the duration of the 30% ATK boost by 1 second. 

Eclipse has now lost its super armour attack debuff (which now exists in Brave/Courage), but it has gained a suction effect. Gladiator’s can use this to gather mobs and follow it up by using Finishing Attack > Circle Break to dispatch them. It’s damage growth isn’t anything remarkable (it barely beats an equivalent Level 6 Dash Slash in terms of damage and it has a longer cooldown so it loses out in DPS), so you may consider leveling it to 6 if you're really in need of some fast AOE DMG. Otherwise you can leave it at 1. 

Dash Slash received a decent boost in the latest Swordmaster Transformation patch. Adding in Dash Combo and a five second cool down gives an incredibly spammy yet solid damaging skill. 

Let's look at Gladiator DPS. To work out DPS the equation is:

(((Min Damage + Max Damage)/2) * %Amp + Additional Damage) * Coefficient) / (Skill CD + Casting Time)

If we assume a damage range of 12000-16000 PATK & MATK (it's impossible to have the same MATK as PATK, i know, but for the purposes of equal comparison) here's how Gladiator DPS works out roughly on a single target (no crits, or PDEF modifications):


Level 1 Rising Slash DPS = 3137 | Lvl 16 Rising Slash DPS = 8105
Level 1 Rising Slash DMG = 31367 | Lvl 16 Rising Slash DMG = 81052
*From level 6 onwards add +25% to total damage for 2 additional hits

Level 1 Circle Break DPS = 3451 | Lvl 16 Circle Break DPS = 6655
Level 1 Circle Break DMG = 37964 | Lvl 16 Circle Break DMG = 73204

Level 1 Dash Slash DPS = 5164 | Lvl 6 Dash Slash DPS = 7652
Level 1 Dash Slash DMG = 25824 | Lvl 6 Dash Slash DMG = 38261

Level 1 Dash Combo DPS = 4742 | Lvl 6 Dash Combo DPS = 6495
Level 1 Dash Combo DMG = 23709 | Lvl 6 Dash Combo DMG = 32474

Level 1 Aerial Combo DPS = 2774 | Lvl 11 Aerial Combo DPS = 4299
Level 1 Aerial Combo DMG = 38842 | Lvl 11 Aerial Combo DMG = 61581

Level 1 Eclipse DPS = 1706 | Lvl 6 Eclipse DPS = 2733 
Level 1 Eclipse DMG = 34128 | Lvl 6 Eclipse DMG = 54650

Level 1 Triple Slash EX DPS = 4814 | Lvl 16 Triple Slash EX DPS = 9692
Level 1 Triple Slash EX DMG = 57769 | Lvl 16 Triple Slash EX DMG = 116301

Level 1 Hacking Stance DPS = 6921 | Lvl 11 Hacking Stance DPS = 13704
Level 1 Hacking Stance DMG = 283782 | Lvl 11 Hacking Stance DMG = 561844

Level 1 Deep Straight EX DPS = 5796 | Lvl 11 Deep Straight EX DPS = 9301
Level 1 Deep Straight EX DMG = 75368 | Lvl 11 Deep Straight EX DMG = 120911

Level 1 Line Drive DPS = 3377 | Lvl 11 Line Drive DPS  = 7423
Level 1 Line Drive DMG = 91181 | Lvl 11 Line Drive DMG  = 200424

Level 1 Infinity Edge DPS = 5044 | Lvl 2 Infinity Edge DPS = 6211
Level 1 Infinity Edge DMG = 630453 | Lvl 2 Infinity Edge DMG = 776420
*Maybe higher as apparently landing all hits deals 50% more damage

Level 1 Evasion Slash DPS = 3534 | Lvl 4 Evasion Slash DPS = 6862
Level 1 Evasion Slash DMG = 35342 | Lvl 4 Evasion Slash DMG = 58326

Level 1 Finishing Attack DPS = 8086 | Lvl 4 Finishing Attack DPS = 8904
Level 1 Finishing Attack DMG = 169812 | Lvl 4 Finishing Attack DMG = 186979

Level 1 Moonlight Splitter DPS  = 4365 | Lvl 16 Moonlight Splitter DPS = 9327
Level 1 Moonlight Splitter DMG  = 34923 | Lvl 16 Moonlight Splitter DMG = 74619

Level 1 Cyclone Slash DPS = 3335 | Lvl 11 Cyclone Slash DPS = 5597
Level 1 Cyclone Slash DMG = 43354 | Lvl 11 Cyclone Slash DMG = 72765

Level 1 Crescent Cleave DPS = 4247 | Lvl 11 Crescent Cleave DPS = 8723
Level 1 Crescent Cleave DMG = 76449 | Lvl 11 Crescent Cleave DMG = 157008
*If only a single target, likely lower as not all waves will hit

Level 1 Half Moon Slash DPS = 3309 | Lvl 11 Half Moon Slash DPS = 6905
Level 1 Half Moon Slash DMG = 79420 | Lvl 11 Half Moon Slash DMG = 165709

Level 1 Great Wave DPS = 4377 | Lvl 2 Great Wave DPS = 8026
Level 1 Great Wave DMG = 525240 | Lvl 2 Great Wave DMG = 963171
*Likely higher as the final wave can strike a target multiple times

For the sake of a more accurate representation of MATK skills for a PATK focused Gladiator (based roughly of my stats we assume 4000-7000 MATK), the DPS for magical skills is:

Level 1 Moonlight Splitter = 1720 | Lvl 16 Moonlight Splitter = 5088
Level 1 Cyclone Slash = 1315 | Lvl 11 Cyclone Slash = 2662
Level 1 Crescent Cleave = 1697 | Lvl 11 Crescent Cleave = 4303
Level 1 Half Moon Slash = 1329 | Lvl 11 Half Moon Slash = 3540
Level 1 Great Wave = 1916 | Lvl 2 Great Wave = 3596

The purpose of calculating DPS allows us to identify efficient ways to distribute our SP. Here amongst the highest DPS skills are Lvl 11 Hacking Stance, a Lvl 16 Triple Slash EX, a Lvl 11 Deep Straight EX and Finishing Attack. It's interesting to note that Evasion Slash's DPS practically doubles, partly because each level reduces its CD also. Moonlight Splitter actually sees a phenomenal growth in DPS, but would require you to sink a precious 18 SP into one skill if you intend to max it. 

Looking at other magical skills, the result is the magical tree really is just a utility tree for PATK focused Gladiators like mine (more over, if you have the light suffix they make it more difficult to appropriately time its use), if you intend to take advantage of your naturally higher PATK, focus on adding SP to PATK skills. Of course this isn't the whole story, sometimes you won't be able to deal physical damage, sometimes you won't be able to deal ranged damage, so this is really just a guide. 

Using the table above we can identify the skills with the highest DPS and damage growth between levels 1, 4 (for Gladiator skills), 6, 11 and 16 (using 12000 ~ 16000 PATK & MATK once more):
Total Damage Growth

DPS Growth

Some of the skills to take note of are Evasion Slash Lvl 1-4, experiencing a DPS growth as high as Hacking Stance Lvl 1-6. The next highest DPS growth between levels 1-6 is surprisingly Dash Slash followed by Crescent Cleave. From 1-6 Rising Slash also has good DPS growth because at level 6 the skill gains a +25% boost to damage from the 2 additional hits. Finishing attack actually has quite average damage growth but it continues to be desirable for its skill affect. The lowest DPS growth skills is as expected the buff and debuff skills such as Luring Slice and the new SM skill, Brave. Surprisingly however, Aerial Combo experiences the lowest growth of all skills between 1-6. A List of DPS Growth in order of highest to lowest between levels 1-6 is (excluding MATK based skills since their growth will be lower with PATK focused Gladiators):
Evasion Slash
Hacking Stance
Dash Slash
Line Drive
Rising Slash
Dash Combo
Deep Straight EX
Triple Slash EX
Finishing Attack
Circle Break
Luring Slice
Aerial Combo

At levels 6-11, Hacking Stance continues to maintain the highest DPS growth of all SM skills. The tables also show us that some of SM's main skills such as Triple Slash and Moonlight Splitter experience considerably less Damage Growth than the rest of the SM tree despite being amongst our highest DPS skills. Aerial Combo is surprising once again in that it has more DPS growth than Circle Break between lvls 6-11 as compared to lvls 1-6. A List of DPS Growth in order of highest to lowest between levels 6-11 is (exlcuding MATK based skills once more):
Hacking Stance
Deep Straight EX
Line Drive
Triple Slash EX
Rising Slash
Aerial Combo
Circle Break

This indicates to us that if spending SP with the intention of spending it efficiently, Hacking Stance should take priority in maxing. Of course there are other factors also when considering which skills to spend SP in, not just solely related to DPS/DMG growth. One example is the flaws i pointed out in Line Drive earlier, so feel free to experiment. 

Line Drive Calculations
Lvl 9 Line Drive
DMG = (14000 * 9.39) + 33211
DMG = 164671

Lvl 9-10 Line Drive Comparison
= 171850 - 164671
DMG growth = 7179

Lvl 10 Line Drive achieves:
DMG = (14000 * 9.65) + 36750
DMG = 171850

Lvl 10-11 Line Drive Comparison
= 200424 - 171850
DMG growth = 28574 

These calculations continue to reinforce the idea that Line Drive is nothing remarkable. 7423 DPS for a 14000 PATK Lvl 11 Line Drive is assuming you land all four hits every time and its still less than a lvl 6 Dash Slash alone in terms of DPS. If you're landing 1-2 hits it'd probably only be worth half or a quarter of that DPS value (3711.5-1855.75 DPS). You can spend gold and 9 additional SP to get Line Drive up to Level 11 just to be semi-decent, or you can spend 8 SP since Level 6 Dash Slash alone deals more consistent damage than Line Drive. 

Of course, if you want higher burst damage against targets like Arch Bishop, Sea Dragon, Green Dragon, etc. Line Drive is worth considering. Assuming one chance to attack each, a level 11 Line Drive still deals higher damage than a level 5 Finishing Attack outside of final boss bars (which is why i recommend only to max it and get a skill ring for it at Lvl 60, as the damage growth at Lvl 11 is basically equal to the damage growth between levels 6-10. In addition, a Lvl 6 Line Drive deals less Total DMG than a Lvl 1 Finishing Attack, so leaving it mid-way is not recommended in my opinion). This assumes you land all four hits of course. The other bright side is Line Drive has a relatively short CD of 27 seconds.

Crest Comparison
In terms of crest choice:

Lvl 5 Finishing Attack
A Skill Crest + Skill Accessory for Finishing Attack affects its DPS like so:
DMG = (14000 * 11.89) + 25150
DMG = 191610
Lvl 4 Finishing Attack DPS Without Crest = 8904

DPS with CD Plate = 191610/16.8
Lvl 5 Finishing Attack DPS with CD Plate = 11405
Total DMG = 191610

DPS with DMG Plate = (191610 * 1.2)/21
Lvl 5 Finishing Attack DPS with DMG Plate = 10949
Total DMG = 229932

So out of the two crests, the CD plate is slighter better in regards to overall DPS for Finishing Attack. However this doesn't take into account the affects the DMG Plate may have on Finishing Attack's affect during a bosses final bar of HP. Given the nerf to Finishing Attack's ability (7% additional damage to 5% additional damage per 1% of HP remaining at Lvl 5), i'd contend that CD is the better option overall now though.

Lvl 16 Triple Slash
Similarly a comparison can be made with the Triple Slash Skill Crest which is another alternative skill crest i'd strongly recommend getting:
DMG = ((14000 * 5.1) + 18062) * 1.3
DMG = 116301
Lvl 16 Triple Slash EX DPS Without Crest = 9692

DPS with CD Plate = 116301/10.7
Lvl 16 Triple Slash EX DPS with CD Plate = 10855
Total DMG = 116301

DPS with DMG Plate = (116301 * 1.2)/12
Lvl 16 Triple Slash EX DPS with DMG Plate = 11630
Total DMG = 139561

Triple Slash EX is actually a great DPS skill when compared to the rest of the swordmaster tree, and is worthwhile considering getting a DMG plate for likewise. The only other skills on par with a Lvl 16 Triple Slash EX in terms of DPS is a Lvl 5 Finishing Attack with a CD plate, Hacking Stance and Deep Straight EX with a DMG plate.

Lvl 11 Hacking Stance
As mentioned, Hacking Stance is self explanatory:
DMG = ((14000 * 1.69) + 3747) * 20.5
DMG = 561843
Lvl 11 Hacking Stance DPS Without Crest = 13704

DPS with CD Plate = 561843/36.25
Lvl 11 Hacking Stance DPS with CD Plate = 15499
Total DMG = 561843

DPS with DMG Plate = (561843 * 1.2)/41
Lvl 11 Hacking Stance DPS with DMG Plate = 16444
Total DMG = 674212

Lvl 2 Infinity Edge
DMG = ((14000 * 33.64) + 46653) * 1.5
DMG = 776420
Lvl 2 Infinity Edge DPS Without Crest = 6211

DPS with CD Plate = 776420/111.6
Lvl 2 Infinity Edge DPS with CD Plate = 6957
Total DMG = 776420

DPS with DMG Plate = (776420 * 1.2)/125
Lvl 2 Infinity Edge DPS with DMG Plate = 7454
Total DMG = 931704

There likely isn't a situation where the CD plate for Hacking Stance, Infinity Edge or Triple Slash would be superior over the DMG crest in terms of PVE. -12% CD is just too little to be worthwhile in terms of PVE where the focus is dealing damage. But in the case of Finishing Attack, sometimes you may just want more burst damage, in which case the DMG Crests will likely be better for you. Other times you'll want more DPS, in which case the CD plate might be the better choice.

More Calculations!
For a bit of fun we can test what the affects a DMG crest on Deep Straight and Dash Slash can achieve:

Lvl 11 Deep Straight EX
DMG = ((14000 * 4.87) + 12427) * 1.5
DMG = 120911
Lvl 11 Deep Straight EX DPS Without Crest = 9301

DPS with DMG Plate = (120911 * 1.2)/13
Lvl 11 Deep Straight EX DPS with DMG Plate = 11161
Total DMG = 145093

Lvl 6 Dash Slash
DMG = ((14000 * 2.44) + 4101)
DMG = 38261
Lvl 6 Dash Slash DPS Without Crest = 7652

DPS with DMG Plate = (38261 * 1.2)/5
Lvl 6 Dash Slash DPS with DMG Plate = 9183
Total DMG = 45913

Lvl 11 Line Drive (skill accessory)
DMG = ((14000 * 10.85) + 48524)
DMG = 200424
Lvl 11 Line Drive DPS Without Crest = 7423

DPS with DMG Plate = (200424 * 1.2)/27
Lvl 11 Line Drive DPS with DMG Plate = 8908
Total DMG = 240509

DPS with CD Plate = 200424/24.11
Lvl 11 Line Drive DPS with DMG Plate = 8314
Total DMG = 200424

Lvl 4 Evasion Slash
DMG = ((14000 * 3.38) + 11006)
DMG = 58326
Lvl 4 Evasion Slash DPS Without Crest = 6862

DPS with DMG Plate = (58326 * 1.2)/8.5
Lvl 4 Evasion Slash DPS with DMG Plate = 8234
Total DMG = 69991

(With Skill Accessory) Lvl 5 Evasion Slash
DMG = ((14000 * 3.72) + 13410)
DMG = 65490
Lvl 5 Evasion Slash DPS Without Crest = 8186

DPS with DMG Plate = (65490 * 1.2)/8
Lvl 5 Evasion Slash DPS with DMG Plate = 9824
Total DMG = 78588

From this we can deduce that if you're looking for a cheap/easy way to boost your DPS, a dash slash plate maybe worth considering. It's likely amongst the cheapest skills or easiest to find skill crests available. The Deep Straight DMG Crest is also quite formidable, increasing the DPS of a Lvl 11 Deep Straight such that it almost beats a Lvl 16 Triple Slash EX with a DMG crest. Evasion Slash maybe worthwhile investing in at later levels also, depending on how low the devs will allow the CD of the skill to drop (Level 6 reduces the CD to 7.5 seconds so who knows). Currently (at the 60 cap) however, it's probably better and easier to take DMG Crests for any of the above skills for higher DPS.

Dual Ultimates
Sometimes it’s handy to have a huge AOE attack, for dungeons and nests alike. Since T4 has drastically buffed Blade Storm/Great Wave, it’s actually worth considering getting this alternative ultimate. Even though Gladiators have naturally poor MATK, this won’t really affect its usage as you’ll be using Great Wave on large groups of mobs. 

Finishing Attack
How good is Finishing Attack on a last bar boss in an 8-man raid with numerous buffs and debuffs applied?

Like I mentioned earlier, Finishing Attack is one of the highest damaging skill unique to Gladiators (3rd Highest DPS with a CD plate at Level 5). Although it's damage growth isn't anywhere near good as Hacking Stance's, Finishing Attack is desired for it's skill affect. It has the advantage of being relatively quick, easy to control and it has an incredible effect on final boss bars. Get it, max it and use it until you’re sick of seeing it. As the title suggests, Finishing Attack is best used during the final bars of boss HP (but feel free to spam it plenty prior to then). If a boss has 20% HP remaining, you deal 200% more damage with a Finishing Attack Skill Ring at Lvl. 60. As shown in the image (4000000+ ATK), Finishing Attack's capabilities are fearsome once you factor in party buffs.

This is particularly useful in GDN where parties want to kill certain bosses as fast as possible during their final bars of HP. Eg. In Green Dragon Nest, Kalahan in Stage 5 and Morgan in Stage 2.

Invincibility Frames
I-frames as people call them. These are moments in the skill animation where characters become immune to damage. They usually only last for around 0.5-1 second. This build has four of them, Tumble, Deep Straight (when you draw your sword back), Evasion Slash (drawing the sword) and Aerial Combo (just before landing). I’m a complete scrub when it comes to using these effectively :P, but know that at the very least you have 4 dodge mechanisms as a Gladiator. All of these are short however, so any attacks that last long longer than the 1 second or so second the i-frame goes for are still going to hurt you. 

Videos Pre-SM Transformation (Oct2012)

Videos After SM Transformation (Nov2012)

- More analysis to come later -


That’s all for now. Feel free to comment.

Credits to chaose5 and Ace Of Spades from MMOsite forum!

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