Champions Online Defense Passives Guide

Champions Online Defense Passives Guide by Rune

First, defense concepts.

All defense passives are balanced around the concept of “works slightly differently, but gives roughly equal measure of protection” for the majority of the game’s PvE content. PvP is a completely different beast.

In a game in which any character can select any power, the choice of which defense to select is up to the player, and can be based on playstyle or character immersion reasons, but there are playstyle differences you should be aware of.

Each of the major defense passives is tailored to different playstyles fairly strongly, so if you like feeling tough all the time, Invulnerability or Regeneration will probably be your favorites, but if you like nuking everything down fast before much gets a chance to hurt you, then you will probably prefer Personal Force Field.

Second, basic defense bonus values.

Most [not all, I’ll get to that] defense passives are balanced around the same math. All such is given to the player in a number I call, “Defense Bonus”, or DB.

Damage Reduction values are rendered in a simple math calculation, whose formula is the following;

[DB/100] + 1 = DR

This Damage Reduction result is the number by which incoming damage is divided.

Block is also rendered in this DB value, so if you heard that basic Block reduces incoming damage by half, that means it’s DB is 100%. [It’s actually closer to 200% DB, but this is just an example.]

So, here’s how that fits into the formula;

[100/100 = 1] + 1 = 2

Incoming damage is divided by 2, so you take half damage.

This means two very important details.

Under most circumstances [with two exceptions], you can not mitigate 100% of all damage. You can however reduce it to a tiny trickle that you hardly feel, and with a health on defeat item equipped, generally get back more than you lose consistently.

A second self heal click power or other heal click power that you can target yourself with [or a teammate healing you] can make you almost undefeatable in PvE at a decent level, so long as you don’t agro silly numbers of foes.

Now, for ease of reference, you can tally up your characters current mitigation by adding together all Defense Bonus values from powers and items equipped, and looking at this table;

total Damage Bonus -> Damage Reduction -> Damage Taken by character

100% – 50% – 50%
200% – 67% – 33%
300% – 75% – 25%
400% – 80% – 20%
500% – 83.33 – 16.66
600% – 85.72 – 14.28
700% – 87.5 – 12.5
800% – 88.88- 11.11
900% – 90% – 10%

If your own Defense bonus falls between these values, you can easily plug in and extrapolate how much mitigation you are getting, and how much actual damage you character is receiving.

If you for example have items adding up to roughly 40% defense bonus, and no other power [as many of you will be until level 5 to 8], then you can expect to have this for your mitigation;

[40/100 = .4] +1 = 1.4

40% DB = 38.57% DR = 71.43% DT
The majority of any characters mitigation is most likely going to be coming from his Block powers.

Finally, all numbers currently listed for specific powers and gear are old numbers and not correct, I will be updating the posts as time permits.


*To Block hit /and hold/ your shift key on the Keyboard, or Right and Left Trigger simultaneously on the Xbox 360 gamepad.

* I use a custom bind to make blocking work on just the Right trigger, it is;
/bind joy8 +powertrayexec 16

Even basic blocking is very powerful. Learn to use it, hold it down when you see a big attack tell coming, and you will come to love it, unless you just don’t really like reactive gameplay elemants at all. At least it’s not a dreaded Quick Time Event.
Blocking as a power gives you a bonus to Defense while active at 200%, or two thirds of all damage reduced. This value is completely independent of the other reductions, and takes place last, making it incredibly powerful. It completely stacks with any and all other defense powers and upgrades to give you serious protection when you need it, at the cost of being inactive while you do it. Block Powers enhance this defense bonus by a respectable amount;

DB 250% at rank 1
DB 300% at rank 2
DB 360% at rank 3
In any “Role” other than offensive, you also gain energy, based on the amount of damage blocked. Block a huge hit, and you will gain quite a bit of energy from it.

In Defensive Role, the value of energy gain from blocking is doubled, so turtleing and then unleashing becomes a valid playstyle.

[Edit] Thank you to J3K for the Joypad block correction

Invulnerability and Lightning Reflexes

These two powers are grouped together because they have an opposite design goals, each working to protect your character from different types of damage sources in a different way. Where one is strong, the other is weak.

Invulnerability [Inv] is specifically designed to make your character very tough against all the tiny, small damage that mere mortal must beware, such as weak punches, kicks, hurled rocks, bullets, radioactive spittle, and any Damage over Time effect. it accomplishes this by two components.

Damage Resistance, based on Strength
Damage Reduction, based on Con [and uses the Damage Bonus numbers I talked about above]

First, once you have this power slotted in either Balanced or Defensive Role, all incoming damage is resisted by a smallish value that will grow higher somewhat with your character’s strength score, and this damage is completely resisted. If anything hitting you is lower than this value, it is simply ignored. This value starts low, and rises so far as I could tell to just below 100 at level 40. I have yet to test it above the mid 20s with a character with Super Strength as a Super Stat, and Upgrades supporting Str, so it may get somewhat higher.

Any damage that gets over this resistance value is then reduced further by the Damage Bonus as a reduction value, as I discussed in my previous post, the DB value on Inv does not got much above 40%, and so an Invulnerable character will take little or no damage from all the minions surrounding him, but as soon as a boss charges up big attack, he’d better block or it will hurt him badly. Not as badly as an unprotected character, he’ll still take a chunk of the damage, and it still hurts. 1400 resisted by 50 and then reduced roughly by a third is still 900 damage unless you block.

[EDIT] Blocking appears to apply it’s reduction value added to the Con based reduction, but before the Str based resistance of smallish damage, so if you block, many hits get absorbed completely. It absolutely pays to max out your ranks of Invulnerable, you ranks for a block power and your Con and Str with Inv.

On the other hand, all those little 60 point plinkers that wear down all the other heroes, hit you for around 10 points each before you block, and if the damage is less than your resistance, you take nothing.

Lightning Reflexes [LR] is designed to be very effective against the slow and heavy, big hits, but much less effective against the small fast attacks. It is essentially the polar opposite of Inv. It also uses two components to accomplish it’s goal, but both of them scale up via Dex.

Dodge Chance [Dex]
Avoidance [also Dex, and uses the DB value I discussed with you earlier]

All character have a Dodge Chance of 10% and a Dodge Effectiveness of roughly 18% DB as a starter. Adding Lightning Reflexes and slotting it will also buff these values.

Avoidance is a DB value, ranges from 30 or so on a rank 1 starting low dex character, on up to 85-90 or more on a high level, high Dex statted character [Again I don’t have current precise top level high Dex test character available yet].

The wrinkle here is the Dodge Chance, as it is a flat percentage value that scales by activation or charge up time on the incoming attack, and is normalized at a one second activation time attack.

To explain, let’s say you have a Dodge Chance of 34%

This means you dodge any one second activation time or one second charged power 34% of the time, and when you do, then you get your Dodge DB value applied to that incoming effect, when you miss this random roll, you take full effect.

If the attack is a fast one that goes off in half a second, your chance to dodge is also halved, to 17%, meaning you are hit for full damage all the time by light, quick low damage attacks.

If the incoming attack is a slow standard “Tell” charge up by an enemy that takes two seconds, your Dodge Chance is doubled, to 68% chance, and a really big, really slow three second charge up effect will triple your Dodge Chance to 102%, or automatic success. Unlike that other game, there is no artificial cap, if you modified chance to dodge goes above 100%, then you dodge it for your Dodge Effectiveness DB every time. So the huge hits that crush ordinary folks, and even hurt the Invulnerable heroes feel it, you glide away from with amazing ease.

Assuming the same 1400 damage attack above that would really hurt an Inv character I mentioned before, if your LR character has a 90% Dodge effectiveness, then you would only take 840 before you block, and that is not counting any extra mitigation your upgrades may be giving you as well.

The only issue is, the little plinkers that an Inv character can safely ignore will tear LR up, since they come too fast for you to dodge. [You will dodge a few of them, but most will get through.]

[Edit] Thanks to Midgardener, pointing out the language change of Dodge effectiveness to Avoidance, I was using the older term from Beta.

Regeneration, Personal Force Field and Defiance

Like the previous two powers, these two are designed around a polar opposite effect, and thus different playstyles.

Personal Force Field [PFF] Is essentially meant to make you very tough at the start of a fight, but weaker and far less tough as a fight drags on.

It is basically nothing more than a pool of temporary hit points that are separate from your character, scale with [Endurance], and slowly refresh themselves on a slow constant trickle. The refresh rate scales with [Ego]. Since the refresh rate is generally lower than incoming damage, it pays to quickly defeat foes before they can bring down your Force Field, and get to the juicy, fragile hero underneath. Even when it is up 5% of all damage will punch through no matter what, and this scales up out of your characters favor the stronger the attack is.

Note that the Force framework also includes a Field Surge power that spends some of your energy to quickly give your force field a refresh or bring it back up if it dropped [and is designed to be hit as often as it is ready to keep your Force Field at full strength in constant battle scenarios].

The Force Energy building “Fighting attack” also includes an advantage that gives a 10% change to proc a 100 strength Field refresh, and these will even give you a FF in offence role, where you normally couldn’t have one. They just won’t last long if you don’t also have PFF slotted and active in Balanced or Defense Role.

[EDITS] Last I heard the fighting attack advantage bubble no longer goes on top, but underneath the main bubble, and block is underneath it as well. No, I really don’t have any idea why.

Regeneration is the polar opposite ofPFF, and is designed to be weak at the start of a fight, but escalates in power as a character continually takes damage.

This is accomplishes by a Heal Over Time [HOT] effect, that starts weak but it’s intensity scales with damage taken. Recovery governs it somewhat but it is a pretty good power out of the box, and increasing Rec does not over power the defense the way Dex powers Lightning Reflexes. Having more hit points will keep you alive longer for it’s effects to strengthen, so Con helps indirectly, simply by giving you a larger buffer of time before you would drop that the effect can then strengthen over.

The Supernatural Framework that Regeneration is in also has a “Health Surge” power, which is a strong self heal that can seriously save your butt as a panic button, but using it Strengthens your regeneration HOT effect to highest levels, so you can use it as an emergency butt saver and it powers up your basic regen to help get you out of those trouble spots. This power scales with Con. It is in essence the Regens version of Field Surge.

Defiance is a cross between Inv andPFF, but designed to be stronger later, like Reg.

This is accomplished by not protecting your character at all until it takes at least some damage, but then applying a stacking resistance buff that seems to come to about +10% DB each, roughly, and this value is supposed to scale with [Con]. Raising the rank of the power itself lowers the time between stacks, so it will hit max resistance [roughly 60-80% DB, slightly above what Inv gives] faster.

Rank 1 allows a new Defiance buff every 5 seconds
Rank 2 allows a new Defiance buff every 4 seconds
Rank 3 allows a new Defiance buff every 3 seconds

And if Con is increased then the amount each stack of Defiance gives for DB should be higher as I mention above.

Tooltips and Devs claim 8 stacks max, I have never seen more than 6, ever.

Defiance also has a built in Energy gain, any time you take damage, you get energy from it, and this is on top of energy gained from blocking if you are doing so. This makes Defiance the premier defense passive for players planning to Turtle or be a tank/brick type. You never gain energy any faster than your rank of Defiance gives stacks. At rank 3, you can get energy at most every three seconds.

It also pairs well with another Brick Power called Enrage, the infamous “hit harder” power with the “Grow Bigger” advantage. Using enrage not only grants one “stack” of Enrage, it also converts all existing stacks of Defiance on your character into Enrage stacks as well. Each one increases your size and damage potential, and then Defiance begins rebuilding from scratch as normal.

This power has an Advantage you can buy that gives your character increasing Knockback and Stun resistance as your health decreases, which is a great addition for any melee character, but taking it prevents you from getting to rank 3, unfortunately, so it’s a choice you have to make for yourself. I’d imagine it’s worth it if your character does not have Stated Str, and needs the extra KB protection.

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1 Response

  1. William Simons says:

    This is the clearest explanation of CO powers and their real effects I’ve ever seen. Thank you.

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