SWTOR Mechanics Basics: Understanding How Tooltips Are Calculated

Preface for 3.0: This article has been updated for 3.0. The concepts outlined here are still accurate although the sample math for Rail Shot has not been updated to its 3.0 levels. The standard damage and healing numbers have changed at level 60 as well to 3,185 and 1,4520, respectively.

Ability tooltips – the text that appears when you hover over an ability – tell players all sorts of useful information about the ability, including its cooldown, resource costs and the effects of the ability. For attacks and heals, the tooltip lists the amount or range of damage/heal the ability will do. Let’s look at an example of this, the Bounty Hunter’s Rail Shot ability:

swtor-mechanics-basics-tooltips-7

These values are updated dynamically meaning buffs from a Serendipitous Assault Relic or Adrenal will increase the tooltip damage. You may never have noticed this as you often do not re-examine the tooltip values while in combat.

Unfortunately, the amount or range listed only tells part of the story. For instance, they do not account for Critical Chance or Surge and the procs that affect these. This incomplete story leaves unanswered questions and leads to errant assumptions. Understanding the limitations of tooltips will allow you to better understand the mechanics behind your character and what gear upgrades will benefit you the most.

Defining Ability Types

If you look at your Character’s abilities, you will notice none of your abilities are actually categorized as attacks or heals. Instead, you will see a mix of Active, Passive, Melee/Ranged and Force/Tech abilities. All damaging abilities are either Melee/Ranged or Force/Tech. And, all healing abilities are Active, but behave similar to Force/Tech attacks. Thus, we effectively have two ability types to investigate Melee/Ranged as well as Force/Tech, which includes heals. (As an aside, for attacks it is it is important to differentiate Attack Type from Damage Type; this will be discussed in a later article.)

swtor-mechanics-basics-tooltips-1

Melee & Ranged Ability Components

Broadly speaking, there are three components that affect the damage of a Melee/Ranged ability. Coincidentally, Tait just demonstrated this on the Official Forums. The components are:

  • Weapon Damage
  • Damage Bonus
  • Base Level Damage

Each component has a portion that the player can affect – such as upgrading your hilt or barrel – and a portion that is fixed and unchangeable. The unchangeable component is a coefficient specific to each ability. That is, each ability has three different coefficients that modify the above components. We arrive at a simplified view of the tooltip damage:

Tooltip Damage = Coefficient * Weapon Damage + Coefficient * Bonus Damage + Coefficient * Base Level Damage

Let’s examine each component in more depth beginning with the simplest. I want these to be as easy-to-understand as possible, but also complete and accurate so bear with me.

Damage Bonus

This is probably the easiest for players to see on their Character sheets and is mechanically the simplest. As you can see your character’s Damage Bonus is affected by Power and Primary Stats. For each ability the Damage Bonus listed in your Character sheet is multiplied by an ability-specific coefficient to determine each ability’s Damage Bonus component.

swtor-mechanics-basics-tooltips-6

Notice in the above screenshots I have not applied the Sith Warrior/Jedi Knight buff in the Sith Inquisitor/Jedi Consular and Imperial Agent/Smuggler images. Also, notice Strength boosts the Sith Inquisitor’s/Jedi Consular’s Melee Damage Bonus, but Willpower does not boost the Sith Warrior’s/Jedi Knight’s Melee Damage Bonus. The same inequity applies to Bounty Hunters/Troopers and Imperial Agents/Smugglers for Aim and Cunning respectively.

Generally, abilities at the top of your skill tree and executes – only usable on targets below 30% health – have the highest coefficients. Although I did not do an exhaustive search, the highest coefficient I could find was Assassin’s Assassinate/Shadow’s Spinning Strike at 3.09. As another example, the Bounty Hunter’s Rail Shot/Trooper’s High Impact Bolt has a coefficient of 2.02. Basic attacks often have a coefficient around 1.0. These sample values are based on 2.X, but they are still conceptually accurate.

Also, Primary Stats boost Damage Bonus by 0.20 and Power boosts Damage Bonus by 0.23. (This will be explored in greater detail in a future article. ) Thus, when you add 25 more Primary Stat, Damage Bonus will go up by 5 (25 * 0.20 = 5). In the case of Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt, the tooltip’s damage would then increase by 10 (2.02 * 5 = 10.1). This is how Damage Bonus translates into tooltip damage.

Let’s consider Damage Bonus of 1,100. In the case of Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt, we can calculate that 2,222 of the tooltip’s damage comes from our Damage Bonus (1,100 * 2.02 = 2,222).

At elder game stat levels, Damage Bonus is always the single largest portion of an ability’s damage. Your Damage Bonus benefits from all of your armoring, mods, enhancements, etc. But, no single item will increase Damage Bonus significantly. Instead there will be smaller incremental gains as you improve your gear.

In the game files, the Bonus Damage Coefficient is actually called the coefficient.

Base Level Damage

First off, this component is entirely hidden from view; there is no indication of it available to the player in game although it is confirmed here. As the name implies Base Level Damage is common across many abilities. In fact, it is actually based on the level where you learned or last trained the ability. This is why at level 50, 55 and 60 you basically retrain every ability. At level 60, the value is 3,185. Most if not all of your attacks will use the level 60 value.

This value is then modified by a coefficient for each ability. In the game files, these are called StandardHealthPercentMin or StandardHealthPercentMax. For the majority of abilities the min and max values are actually the same. When they are not the same, this component contributes to the range in damage listed by the tooltip.

Again, these coefficients vary ability to ability. Still, the vast majority of the coefficients are 10% of the Damage Bonus coefficient. For example, the min and max values for Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt are the same and they are 0.202. Recall, the Damage Bonus coefficient for this ability was 2.02.

In the case of Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt we can calculate the Base Level Damage contribution to tooltip damage:

2,685 * 0.202 = 542.4

This amount, 542, is fixed and is added to every Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt at level 55. At elder game stat level, the Base Level Damage is typically the smallest component of an ability’s damage. Again recall, the Damage Bonus contribution for Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt was 2,222.

Weapon Damage

The tooltip for a weapon lists the range of damage it does, and this is a component of an ability’s overall damage. The current best barrels and hilts – 78s – generally do between ~500 and ~900 damage although it varies based on the type of weapon actually used. When an ability is activated, a value within this range is randomly selected. This randomness creates most of the variability in an ability’s damage.

swtor-mechanics-basics-tooltips-5swtor-mechanics-basics-tooltips-2

Recall, there is a specific coefficient for this component as well. In this case, it may be easiest to think of it as a percentage of the weapon’s damage. For example, the highest percentage I am aware of is 231% for a Sniper’s Ambush/Gunslinger’s Aimed Shot while the lowest is a Marauder’s Battering Assault/Sentinel’s Zealous Strike at 16.5%.

Again our example, Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt, has a coefficient of 135%. With this we can calculate the main hand Weapon Damage low-end and high-end contribution:

Low: 1.35 * 503 = 679

High: 1.35 * 935 = 1,262

In the game files, technically the coefficient is called the AmountModifierPercent and it is (1 + AmountModifierPercent). For example, the value for the Sniper’s Ambush/Gunslinger’s Aimed Shot is really 1.31 while the Marauder’s Battering Assault/Sentinel’s Zealous Strike is -0.835. The AmountModifierPercent can be negative or positive, but will be greater than -1. Thus, the Weapon Damage will never be negative.

A Special Note About Dual Wielding Specs

Speaking of Gunslingers, Marauders and Sentinels (and Mercenaries), they are all dual wielding Advanced Classes. They have a second weapon in their offhand. Many of their abilities attack with both hands; the tooltip will indicate this. The off hand damage is calculated the same way as the main hand Weapon Damage; however, it is reduced by another coefficient, which I call the off hand penalty. This value is 0.3. The simplified tooltip damage equation here is:

Tooltip Damage = Coefficient * Weapon Damage + Coefficient * Damage Bonus + Coefficient * Base Level Damage + 0.3 * Coefficient * Offhand Weapon Damage

Once again our example, Rail Shot/High Impact Bolt, has the same offhand coefficient of 135%. With this we can calculate the main hand Weapon Damage low-end and high-end contribution:

Low: 0.3 * 1.35 * 503 = 204

High: 0.3 * 1.35 * 935 = 379

As you can see, the offhand contributes much less to the overall damage.

As an aside as far as I know all abilities have the same offhand and main hand Weapon Damage coefficients except the Marauder’s Battering Assault/Sentinel’s Zealous Strike.

As another aside for dual wield classes, you will see two entries in your combat log for each two-handed attack. One of the combat log entries will be just the off hand Weapon Damage, the other entry will be the total of the main hand Weapon Damage, Damage Bonus and Base Level Damage. Considering the added Damage Bonus and Base Level Damage it should be obvious what is the offhand amount.

Just to Review

Three – four for dual wielding classes – independent components comprise a Melee/Ranged ability’s tooltip damage:

  • Weapon Range: This will be the single biggest upgrade you can make by improving your main hand hilt or barrel.
  • Damage Bonus: There are many opportunities to improve this, but each will be small.
  • Base Level Damage: This is fixed value and impossible to see in game.

Force & Tech Ability Components

There are effectively two types of Force/Tech abilities: damage and heals. First, let’s examine how damaging attacks’ tooltips are calculated:

Tooltip = Coefficient * Damage Bonus + Coefficient * Base Level Damage

Hopefully, these components look familiar by now; still, let’s examine them in more detail.

Force & Tech Attacks

Base Level Damage

Force/Tech attacks’ Base Level Damage is the exact same concept as introduced for Melee/Ranged attacks. The level 55 base value, 3,185, is also the same. And, most of the attacks have the same min and max values.

Damage Bonus

Again, conceptually the Damage Bonus is the same as it was for Melee/Ranged. There is one additional element to Damage Bonus called Force/Tech Power. This is another stat that is based on the hilt/barrel in your main hand weapon as well as the armoring/hilt/barrel in your off hand.

swtor-mechanics-basics-tooltips-3

Notice in the above screenshots I have not applied the Sith Warrior/Jedi Knight buff in the Imperial Agent/Smuggler image. Also, notice now that Willpower boosts the Sith Warrior’s/Jedi Knight’s Force Damage Bonus, but Strength does not boost the Sith Inquisitor’s/Jedi Consular’s Force Damage Bonus. The same inequity applies to Bounty Hunters/Troopers and Imperial Agents/Smugglers for Cunning and Aim, respectively. This is the opposite situation we saw on Melee/Ranged Damage Bonus.

Force & Tech Healing

Base Level Healing

Force/Tech ability’s Base Level Healing is again the same concept. However, the level 55 value is 14,520. And, unlike attacks, most of the min max values are different. This component allows for the range in healing done.

Healing Bonus

The Healing Bonus is basically the same as Tech/Force Damage Bonus. As you can see below there is not the inequity from less important Primary Stats when it comes to healing though.

swtor-mechanics-basics-tooltips-4

Just to Review

Only two components comprise a Force/Tech attack’s damage as well as all healing abilities. These components are:

  • Damage Bonus: This gains a significant amount from the quality of hilt/barrel/armoring in your main hand and off hand.
  • Base Level Damage: This is fixed value and impossible to see in game.

In Practice

As you may know, Patch 2.6 saw a reduction in damage done by Orbital Strike/XS Freighter Flyby. This change in damage was done by adjusting the various components of the ability’s damage. Specifically, Orbital Strike/XS Freighter Flyby is a Tech ability which means its damage comprises Damage Bonus and Base Level Damage. The table below shows the old and new values for this ability:

Orbital Strike/XS Freighter Flyby Prior 2.4 Post 2.4
Damage Bonus Coefficient 1.77 .6733
Base Level Damage Coefficient 0.177 .06733

By reducing these coefficients each tick of the ability does less damage. In this case, each tick only does ~40% of the damage it did prior to 2.4.

Summary

Hopefully now, you understand what components contribute to an ability’s damage or heals. This alone does not help you understand how to gear your character, but this needed to be explained so we can delve into more exciting topics such as the two roll system, which allows us to start thinking about Accuracy and the application of Critical Chance.

About the author

Oofalong is a well known theorycrafter from <The Chandrian> guild on the of The Shadowlands server and has contributed immensely to both the theorycrafting community on the SWTOR official forums and previously on mmo-mechanics.com. He aspires to help others understand the game’s mechanics and bring civility to SWTOR forums everywhere.

  • Y-Yorle

    “…Damage Bonus will go up by 5 (10 * 0.20 = 5)…”

    Perhaps I’m reading it wrong, but isn’t 10 * 0.20= 2, not 5? 😮

    • oofalong

      Oh yea, oops. I made a change in one of the drafts and obviously didn’t proofread enough. I’ll get the changed.

  • LordElfa

    I wish someone would do an article on understanding Parse results.

    • oofalong

      That topic is coming soon. First, I want to establish how each individual attack works, then we can discuss how an overall parse/battle works.

  • Paikea

    These are awesome, can’t wait for more =)

  • Jerry

    hi man. can u please explain how those attacks are looking on the tanks ? i mean force attacks aren’t mitigated by tanks defense right?

    • oofalong

      There is a later article coming about tanking stats. The short answer is the defense gives you an opportunity to avoid melee and ranged attacks entirely. Resistance gives you an opportunity to avoid force and tech attacks entirely. There is obviously a way to increase your defense via gear, but there is not a way to increase Resistances with gear.

  • Civilie

    Hey Oofalong do you know a good place to find bonus damage coefficients? I’m using torhead but some of these figures may be old. Can you direct me to the swtor file?

    • oofalong

      What abilities are you looking for? Much of Torhead is still accurate, but if its not I can check other sources for you – just let me know.

      • Civilie

        A lot of them are really off… I’ve actually been finding them on my own using tooltips and adding/subtracting power, which is a pain. For example, Shrap Bomb is listed as .35, when it is about 3.02. I found this by substituting a 69 crit mod for a 69 power mod. The difference in my tooltip damage went from 5372 to 5420, a difference of 48 damage. I divided 48 by 15.87 (bonus damage from 69 power (69 x .23)), and came up with 3.02.

        • oofalong

          Assuming you have the Nice Try skill, I believe the Tooltip for Shrap Bomb includes the base damage as well as the residual damage. Keep in mind that the 0.35 is for every tick so you effectively have to multiply it by the total number of ticks in order to see the increase from Damage Bonus. I will run some tests on my Operative, but Torhead’s data matches what I get from other sources.

          • Civilie

            Ok yeah considering SB ticks 8 times over 21 seconds, if I divide the damage by 8, the coefficient is closer to .35. The same is true for Vital Shot and Shock Charge. Also, it looks like torhead gives the coefficient for each hit of an ability, i.e. each hit of Speed Shot. When I multiply by 4, our figures match up.

            • Civilie

              Has anyone ever attempted creating an “average damage” spread sheet or chart? What I do is calculate the average damage of an ability given a specific crit rating… 100 crit, 200 crit, 300, etc. This way I can calculate the optimal crit rating for each ability, then weigh each ability’s avg damage to my total output. For example, I’ve found that 0 crit rating is actually optimal for DF and Hybrid Gunslingers. This is mostly due to the fact that GS abilities have high dmg coefficients in general (except for Wounding Shots), and almost no surge bonuses for the spec. Haven’t tried Sharpshooter yet, but they at least get some surge bonuses.

              • oofalong

                I know some people have created build/spec-specific versions of this. I do not believe there has been anything inclusive of all builds though. Even with this, you would still need to know the frequency of use in order to infer the ideal critical rating/power trade-off.

  • hghgh

    nice

  • Shira Biro

    So hilt mods are virtually useless for casters like sith sorcerer? Or did i misunderstand?

    • oofalong

      No, the hilt provide you your Force Power, which is a significant portion of many of your attacks

      • Shira Biro

        I see, thanks for clearing that up 🙂

  • Mike

    So in tech damage cunning is equal to aim, but in tech heals for troopers cunning has no affect? That makes sense of course, but say I’m a level 35 merc and I’ve been running Kuat a million times (without getting pcomms somehow lol) so I’m still geared in level 15 gear and I get a loot drop of a piece of cunning gear at my level, would that gear actually be better for me than my level 15 one because of the tech damage boost for a dps merc but worse for a healer merc?

  • Deckin24

    I must be doing my math terribly wrong, or I must have misunderstood something. I’m using the Coefficient I found on TorHead for Maul (http://www.torhead.com/ability/1sVKqKz/maul) plus my own character’s values. Can anyone check what I did wrong?

    2.31 * 607.0 = 1402.17
    2.31 * 763.1 = 1762.761
    2.31 * 3185 = 7357.35

    1402.17 + 1762.761 + 7357.35 = 10,522.281.

    My tooltip shows 3433 on the low end. Help?

    • oofalong

      You only multiple the Damage Bonus by the 2.31 coefficient; the other factors have their own coefficients.

  • Czern

    So with TorHead going away, where will we find the values such as AmountModifierPercent etc?

Back to Top