Home > Age of Conan, Combat Mechanics > High ground bonus

High ground bonus

While playing with unarmed mobs in various playfields, I noticed an interesting mechanic that I have hitherto been unaware of: mobs have a hidden damage bonus of up to 5% if they stand on higher ground than you.

I did these tests with unarmed mobs, because that way all the hits are for the same amount, so it’s much easier to notice the difference due to the high ground bonus. Pull a mob and place yourself on some sloping ground, then slowly move around the mob and observe how the amount you’re getting hit for changes.

For example, here’s a level 85 Kang Zai in Paikang; the following table shows just the normal hits (the crits exhibit the same behavior). There are 3 columns of numbers because this type of mob has 3 different white hits.

Position

Hit amount
me above mob

284

342

510
me slightly below mob

289

349

520
293

353

526
me well below mob

294

354

528
me completely below mob

298

359

535

In the last row, I was standing so far below the mob that the mob’s feet were higher than my head. The “me above mob” row covers all situations where I was standing on higher ground (or approximately on the same altitude) as the mob, regardless of how much higher I was. So basically, the mob gets a bonus if you are below it, but it doesn’t get a detriment if you are above it.

You could probably find yet more intermediate damage values than the ones shown here by changing your position around the mob more carefully. (We’ll see an example of that below.)

If you compare the bottom and the top row, you see that the maximum damage (in the bottom row) is about 4.9% higher than in the top row. Probably the intended maximum bonus is 5% and the difference here is just due to the rounding errors — because we see damage rounded off to the nearest integer but the true damage is a non-integer number, the ratio for e.g. the third column could be anywhere between 534.5/510.5 = 1.047 and 535.5/509.5 = 1.051, i.e. the bonus could be anywhere from 4.7% to 5.1%.

Repeating the same experiment with other mobs gives the same results. Here’s a level 85 Hound of the Underworld in Paikang (it has 4 different white hits):

Position

Hit amount
me above mob

181

192

232

245
me slightly below mob

182

193

233

246
184

195

236

249
186

197

238

251
me further below mob

187

198

239

252
188

199

241

254
190

201

243

256
190

201

243

257
me almost completely below mob

191

202

244

257

A similar analysis as above now shows us, in the first column, that the maximum damage bonus could be anywhere between 190.5/181.5 = 1.049 and 191.5/180.5 = 1.061; in the last column, we see that the maximum damage bonus could be anywhere between 256.5/245.5 = 1.045 and 257.5/244.5 = 1.053. Assuming that the bonus is the same for all types of hits, we can conclude that the maximum bonus is somewhere between 4.9% and 5.3%, which confirms the idea that 5% is probably the correct amount.

This phenomenon is not limited to expansion mobs; here’s a level 79 Dagger-Tooth Leopard in Kheshatta:

Position

Hit amount
me above mob

104

105
me slightly below mob

105

106
me well below mob

109

111
me completely mob

110

111

Here the last row is about 5.7% greater than the first row. Of course, the less the mob hits for, the bigger the effect of the rounding errors will be.

Armed attacks

The high ground damage bonus seems to also apply to armed mobs. There it’s more difficult to investigate it because of the variance in armed hits. For the next experiment, I let a mob (level 63 Black Ring Theurgist in epic Ymir’s Pass) hit me about 200 times in each position:

Position

# of
hits

Hit amount
min

max

average

midpoint

me above mob

234

190

290

237.27

240
me below mob

228

199

303

250.58

251

No matter which of these statistics you look at, the ‘below’ hits are about 4.5%-5.5% harder than the ‘above’ hits, so the high ground bonus seems to apply here as well.

Incidentally, there’s something I don’t quite understand about this experiment. For any given position (above or below), you can see that the max/min ratio is approx. 1.52 (i.e. the maximum hit is about 52% stronger than the minimum hit). This is not what I would expect for a polearm-wielding mob: the max/min ratio for polearms should be 1.75 (which you can easily check by comparing the numbers in parentheses after the DPS amount on the tooltip of any polearm). In fact I’m not aware of any weapon type with a max/min ratio of 1.5; for 1he/2he the ratio is 1.6, for 1hb/2hb it’s 1.3, for daggers it’s 1.7 and for staffs it’s 2.35. Perhaps the max/min ratio from the tooltip only applies to a part of the hit (e.g. the part that comes from weapon damage, but not the part that comes from the character’s strength and combat rating etc.)? Anyway, hopefully some day I’ll investigate this stuff a bit further.

Magical attacks

This 5% high ground damage bonus doesn’t seem to apply to magical attacks; I made a small experiment with an Archpriest mob from the Yellow Priests of Yun faction in Paikang. He was nuking me with his ranged elecrical attacks while I moved up and down around him, and all the hits were the for same amount regardless of my location. The same applies to magical attacks by otherwise-melee mobs (I tried with a Wild Quilin, who is mostly melee but has a frost magical attack called Curse of the Quilin).

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  1. Durango
    November 1, 2014 at 11:36

    That’s actually pretty cool. It add a bit. I wonder if that work in pvp, it would actually be pretty awesome to play with the landscape more.

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