This is Ground Zero
It is Deande’s right level 1 helix choice, in game description below.
Gound Zero has been a topic of debate on numerous occasions. Most players will automatically gravitate to the helix choice due mainly to the ease of use factor, yet the argument goes that keeping your normal burst dash is the superior way to play. This case has been made countless times before, yet it’s still difficult to find a concrete answer as to why. And in the cases where you do find some form of an explanation it is often a partial chuck of the full story at best, and at worst a blunder of the “pro” Deande players tagging the helix choice to be synonyms with a lack of skill or otherwise referring to it as “the scrub choice”.
There is an apparent hole in the general understanding of the Ground Zero, with people jumping on the bandwagon of hating on it without knowledge, or even less frequently arguing for it due to the same lack of understanding. The aim of this thread is to target that lack of understanding by comparing and contrasting the individual attributes of each mode of burst dash. I do make the case for the superiority of normal Burst Dash, however this post is based on facts and as such you will find there are areas where Ground Zero gets the edge. I can’t control you if you want to think Ground Zero is the best thing ever, however I do hope you are willing listen to my reason.
Let us begin my friends.
This is a very long post. So for those of you who just want the bare minimum information I have prepared a brief comparison of the positives for each burst dash mode. This can also be used as a quick reference section should you need. All points listed here are explained down below in detail.
Normal burst dash:
-Channels EOS damage to where you want easier
-Channels Silent Strike to where you want easier
-Has a shorter duration to do the same damage (higher DPS)
-The mobility factor (both on the dash itself and in the alternate helix choice Double Trouble)
-Has no “aftershock” delay for the ult after a burst dash
-Easier/more comfortable to land
-Can slow more people (relative the EOS/Silent Strike prioritization)
-Applies weaken sooner and in a larger area
-Can benefit from The Culling in the same dash as the application
#Think About it!
Before I even get into talking statistics I want to just take a look at the idea of ground zero as a whole. This section is based strictly on anecdotal evidence and is not meant to be interpreted as 100% fact, but rather my observations based on MY playstyle and MY personal experience. So take this as you will, however I must also stress that after hundreds of hours, thousands of games, and tens of thousands of kills with Deande my way has shown consistent effectiveness to one of the highest degrees achievable.
My main problem with Ground Zero beyond anything statistical (and this is mostly an incursion thing) is that it tries to force the player into lane more than they should be. It provides a mass AOE + weaken that seems ideal for clearing minions, however Deande herself is not ideal for clearing wave. That task is better suited for someone who A, doesn’t actually have to be in the lane to clear it (Thorn, Orendi, Toby, Ernest, etc.), or B, has the necessary effective health pool to handle the multiple damage sources with potential CC and escape if needed (Gali, Shayne, Phoebe, etc.). Both of those cases would also be in conjuncture with their own AOE damaging effects such as that on shadowfire pillars, arc mines, blight, Ernest’s basic attack, and to a lesser degree the aforementioned melee characters primary attacks.
Now take Deande into consideration. She is a melee assassin with a kit heavily geared towards high burst damage over a very short period of time to one or two targets maximum. A minion wave consist of 5+ entities each with sizable health pools late game. That renders her ultimate worthless against wave, and is wasted potential unless you absolutely need the wave to stop right then and there. Furthermore her passive is timed and only procs on one damage instance at a time in addition to being tied to the clone which does not even attack minions. And on top of all that the hitbox for her primary attack is too small to reliably hit multiple enemies while the secondary does nothing for you up close.
More importantly because of her inherent melee traits she has to be extremely close to whatever she is attacking which can put her at the mercy of the enemy team. She can’t handle being focused down and CC’d to all hell. Unless you have a really clutch healer she will die if a coordinated team catches her in so much as a bubble bind from Alani. This is all compounded by the fact that you have to remove your shield to get decent damage onto wave with Calculated Risk, putting you in an even more vulnerable position right off the bat. And no that doesn’t validate Drain Dash, even though it does synergize with Ground Zero. You lose way too much damage and it doesn’t really add all that much to your survivability, especially since shepherds can overshield. Trust me, Deande is just much happier taking thralls for XP than exposing herself to the enemy frontlines while Toby can just remove that same wave before it even gets past the enemy sentry.
However I don’t want the previous statements to be interoperated as “never clear wave with Deande”. Focus down a shepherd bot with a critical burst dash and a few follow-up hits to remove a priority target just like it was an enemy player. Or throw fans at range constantly if you have nothing better to do, mopping up any minions that get past your frontlines. And if absolutely necessary Deande can get by clearing wave if your entire team is dead perhaps. Or you have no frontline, which admittedly happens more than id like and is responsible for the meme within my group of friends of “frontline/wave clear Deande”. You just have to be really ■■■■■■■ careful. Predict Enemy CC and work around it. In-between burnt skills you can work safely-ish.
Anyway, my point is that wave isn’t Deande’s primary or even secondary objective on the battlefield. She has better things to use her unique skill set on, and taking Ground Zero always seems to draw more away from her most powerful attributes as an assassin than it does buff her weaknesses in lane.
But that’s just my two cents. Let’s get into the facts.
Note – I should also probably reiterate that most of what I said is heavily incursion focused. Meltdown Deande wave clear is a lot more doable due to the division of opposing forces, lack of a sentry, readily available heal stations, and multiple escape routes. Face-off shares an even more relaxed pace of engagement, with you being otherwise left to do whatever the hell you want for the most part. Additionally, since clearing wave is basically the entire point of those two modes taking Ground Zero is also more viable, especially since you need to get to level 8 to reliably cover an entire wave with a single normal burst dash. – End Note
This is perhaps the most important topic when dealing with burst dash under any iteration. Burst Dash is Deande’s primary kill power, enabling her to wipe priority targets off the face of the map. It also determines life steal values when you take Drain Dash. That said it is imperative that one understands the differences in damage and distribution between the two modes of burst dash in order to use Deande to her fullest potential.
Right off the bat I’m going to come out and say that for the most part burst dash damage is calculated exactly the same for both modes, provided the same number of enemies are hit of course. It applies the same through helixes such as Burst Brawler and Calculated Risk. It stacks the double buff with the relationship between EOS and skill damage gear. And it behaves the same when exposed to external damage amps such as Priority Target. If you would like to read more in depth about burst dash damage feel free to look over my thread on the topic here.
Just for clarity, the following test will prove that fully stacked burst dashes with do the same damage regardless of the mode they are in.
Note – Parameters: Level 10, Burst Brawler, Calculated Risk, EOS, the following Gear setup (setup A, as will be referred latter in the post)
View on lowlidev.com.au
View on lowlidev.com.au
View on lowlidev.com.au
– End Note
Normal burst dash popup: 1019
Ground Zero popups: 340 x 3 = 1020
The 1019 damage popup from normal Burst Dash should be familiar by now as I’ve featured it many times before (I’ve just started calling that build the 1019 build lel). Using that as a baseline for comparison and adding up all the popups from the Ground Zero dash we find that the two are roughly equivalent, the difference being equated to the rounding up of all damage popups to the nearest whole number.
So if the damage is the same then why is there even a section on damage in this thread? It’s because there are two very important points that affect the damage with Ground Zero: EOS prioritization and The Culling.
Starting with EOS prioritization, for those of you who don’t know what it is I put up a PSA about it when I first discovered it, here . I suggest yougive it a quick read before you continue. Also I feel it is important to reiterate that EOS prioritization is random as far as I can tell.
EOS prioritization does not change total damage Dealt. It does not affect maximum damage numbers either. What it does do is messes with the per target damage.
Take into account the following two clips. They are both under the same parameters as the before single target test. They both have the same number of entities damaged within one dash. Add up the damage popups and get the total damage per burst dash (I’ll do it for you).
Total damage: 1019 + (3 x 792) = 3395
Total damage: (340 x 3) + (264 x 9) = 3396
As you can see the dashes still do the same amount of total damage, however when you use normal burst dash the entirety of the EOS bonus goes to a single target. This is important in one key area that Deande fills:
When you move in for the kill you want all the damage of your dash focused on that target. It could very well make the difference between their life and death. Yet when you run Ground Zero if even a single other entity is caught in the dash that could mean reduced damage to the target. And based on the AOE nature of Ground Zero, especially with Deadly Reach, if an enemy is running back to their team through a minion wave which could have as much as blade bots, gun bots, a striker, a shepherd, elite bots, single thrall, double thralls, other enemy players, etc, you’ll be lucky if that assassination target sees even a single tic of EOS. And if that kill is the difference between a successful team retaliation and a crushing defeat then Ground Zero would have just screwed you.
To put a number on things, if the target is in such a situation and your Ground Zero dash hits him for all tics but no EOS, you would be seeing up to a 22.3% reduction in damage dealt. To put a different number on things that’s up to 228 damage missing if we are using gear setup A. That number is definitely survivable by, you may even be able to tank a follow up shot before you escape to safety or get a clutch heal.
Granted normal Burst Dash has the same issue mechanically if the same number of enemies is hit, however the key to this problem is in area of effect. Normal Burst Dash sends a clear controlled wave out before you. If the target is directly in front of you there is no chance that damage will be lost on entities in every other direction. Furthermore, if additional targets are caught in your normal burst dash it will never be as many as can be caught with Ground Zero, thus reducing the odds of incorrect prioritization.
So what’s the morel of this if you will?
Basically normal burst dash is clean and precise with how it distributes its damage. Ground Zero is sloppy, spreading it everywhere you probably don’t need it. It’s the first classic example of how Ground Zero is drawing from her strength as an assassin to try and push her into wave.
Yet on the flip side of things we have to take into consideration The Culling. This DOES affect the maximum damage numbers for Ground Zero and negates a good chunk of the negative effects done by EOS prioritization. For those who don’t know The Culling is one of Deande’s level 7 helix choices which enables her to do increased damage to weakened target.
Note – Only weakens from Deande’s Burst Dash are eligible to be buffed by The Culling. – End Note
This is important when you realize that the first tic of damage from a Ground Zero Burst Dash applies the weaken, basically enabling you to gain a 23% increase in damage to 67% of Burst Dash’s damage. Roughly that equates to a 14% increase to the total damage of the Burst Dash, and because the weaken is applied to all enemies hit by the dash this increase is not prioritized like with EOS. Additionally this buff does not rely on holotwin to proc, simply fire and forget with the Burst Dash.
As always here is the testing I did to prove this. Please note that this test was conducted with only the base damage for burst dash at level 10 and the culling.
What this means is that with The Culling, Ground Zero actually has a significantly higher damage potential on body shots compared to normal burst dash. With everything stacked under setup A and built for maximum damage I was able to get numbers like this:
This is the whole reason I have damage as first on the list. It’s the weakest point against Ground Zero because of the play and counter-play between these two phenomenon. On the one had you have the prioritization stealing damage from you while on the other hand The Culling gives some back. It’s not a one to one ratio of course, however it is something to be kept in mind when using Ground Zero in different situations.
Also I just want to add this little interesting tidbit real quick before we wrap up the stuff on damage, if you take Drain Dash instead of Calculated Risk your single target damage is reduced to 477 with the same properties (build, helix, no culling) as before. Without EOS that’s 370. So your life steal values are 238.5 and 185 respectively. Again that’s a 22.3% reduction in life stolen per additional target. With the importance of Drain Dash on cumulative effect, you are better off saving holotwin for escape only as using EOS on Ground Zero to lifesteal will only net you an additional 50ish points of health MAXIMUM. And you better hope the enemies don’t have shields/overshields.
#Area of Effect
The main point of this section is just to give you a little bit of a visual comparison between the two modes. These are not exact but they are kinda close enough.
I’ve already gone over where the larger area of Ground Zero can be problematic. It is also important to note that in the case of Ground Zero the damage distance has significant spread along the Z axis (up and down) whereas normal burst dash has virtually none. I’ve already gone over where hitting that many things can be problematic, however it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t say that the increased AOE can help you get kills where you otherwise would have missed with normal burst dash. I believe this is one of, if not THE primary reason why it is so frequently chosen by newer players.
Additionally I want to make a quick mention of the Deadly Reach Helix at level 8. It increases the Damage distance by 40% respectively. That gives the AOE a larger radius and the normal burst dash a longer damage wave. Since Ground Zero already covers a lot of ground taking Deadly reach is redundant. You can fit a full minion wave in the base AOE just fine thank you. However Deadly Reach works amazingly well with normal burst dash, enabling you to pull off kills on characters that are much faster than you or nabbing those cheeky collaterals.
#Silent Strike Prioritization
This is going to be another one of the shorter points.
Basically what’s going on here is that Silent Strike functions like an extension of EOS. It piggybacks atop the increased damage and is only applied in places where EOS is. That means it is subject to the same problems with prioritization.
In one case the person behind was slowed and in the other case the person in front was slowed. I shouldn’t need to say this but…
What if your target is not slowed? It will allow him an easier escape. This is the same thing as with damage: normal burst dash is clean and concise, Ground Zero is sloppy. If you try to Ground Zero dash a target in the middle of wave the likelihood of them getting slowed is slim.
HOWEVER, and this is a point in Ground Zero’s court, it does have the chance to slow up to 3 entities instead of the guaranteed 1 with normal burst dash. That won’t slow a whole wave, but it helps.
#DPS and Duration
This is one of the more important differences between the two modes, dealing with the time it takes for your burst dash to deliver the damage and let you carry on your way. But before we can talk about DPS (damage per second), we must talk about the differences in times for each of the three components of the burst dash animation.
The first component is the opening animation. This takes place from the instant you activate the skill (when the other skills become blocked out) to the first tic of damage. Second we have the damage duration, which is seated in the middle of the dash animation and deals with the length of time it takes for the Burst Dash to deliver all of its damage. This one is measured from the first tic of damage to the last. Finally we have the closing animation, measured from the last tic of damage to the point at which your war fans return to rest.
I have prepared a short table comparing the different parts of the burst dash animation below. It also shows the total time for both modes. Additionally, all of my data was gathered through counting frames at @ 30FPS (since that is what the ps4 records in) so it might not be 100% accurate, but it should be accurate enough to the point that no one else will care.
Briefly I want to go over the particular implications of each set of data, starting with the opening animation. As you can see, Ground Zero starts to deal damage roughly 100ms before the shortest time for normal burst dash. That means it applies the weaken sooner, and since the Ground Zero has a large AOE it can put you in a unique situation where you can attempt to save a teammate’s life by weakening everything around him. You can do this with normal burst dash too, however the weaken effect may not be as widespread and will not be as quickly delivered. Also the variation in opening animation times for normal burst dash has to do with another factor, travel time.
Looking at the damage duration section we see that normal Burst Dash has none. That means under ideal situations, even with the maximum travel time for normal burst dash, normal burst dash will still finish delivering all of its damage before Ground Zero. On top of that since Ground Zero takes a long time to deal its damage that means you are more likely to take damage mid-dash, especially since it pops you up in a nice and visible way for everything to shot at (especially sentries which will auto lock on to you as soon as your cloak deactivates. The problem with this is in Ground Zero. Since your damage is determined by your shield and the Ground Zero dash depletes the shield after the last tic of damage that means that any damage taken during the dash will reduce each consecutive tic of damage.
On top of all this the increased damage duration makes you very easy to interrupt mid dash. Gali and Beatrix can do it on accident while Rath can do it with ease, stealing damage that you otherwise would have kept.
Dealing with the closing animation, we see that Ground Zero also takes a lot longer to finish up. However looking at the animation in this case doesn’t really reveal a whole lot more. In a topic further down in the post I will cover a major point relating to these closing animations, however for now just bear in mind that Ground Zero is longer, and longer is bad.
Finally we have the total time. Ground Zero takes much longer. That in turn lowers the total DPS of the skill. However talking about DPS in a conventional sense is a little bit useless since you can’t spam these skills out one after the other. Instead let’s compare the total damage to the total time of the dash, which puts the numbers at 1019 damage in 2.7 seconds with Ground Zero and 1019 damage in 1.5 – 1.7 seconds with normal burst dash. That is of course using setup A and on a single target.
Again, this whole longer dash on Ground Zero is detrimental in the area of assassinations, especially in competitive games. And competitive doesn’t have to be a tourney or anything, the enemy team just has to be putting up a coordinated fight and making intelligent decisions.
Those games will be the most brutal on Deande, only worsened by CC chains, reveal counter picks, competent healers, and Beatrix. In those game you will only get small windows to get work done so you absolutely have to be on point with everything you do, and you have to do it as fast as possible.
That’s where the problem with Ground Zero comes in. On average you have about 3 seconds per dive to get work done before you have to make an escape. Once those three seconds are up people will become wise to where you are. The Boldur will turn around and dash you. The Alani will heal your target. The Beatrix will piss you off. And the Oscar Mike will taunt after having done a total of 52 damage. And odds are that there will be nothing you can do to avenge yourself. Not alone, not by yourself. Not without luck and a competent team.
So speed is of the essence. Ideally you want to kill with the burst dash, but normal burst dash will grant you the opportunity at 2 or 3 follow up hit with your primary attack. That is not possible with Ground Zero because you use up basically all of your window of opportunity with just the Burst Dash.
Past that you could have your damage reduced by taking random AOE damage while in the animation itself. That could make the difference between a kill and crippling depression. And granted that can happen with the Normal burst dash opening animation, but the difference between the two opening animations is just over a hundred milliseconds so it’s just about negligible.
But that hang time for the Damage duration on Ground Zero will screw you so hard in competitive games. So will the butt clenchingly long closing animation. Again, Ground Zero takes away from Deande’s strength as an assassin and try’s to force her into lane.
You can’t crit with Ground Zero!
Now maybe you don’t think this s important… Because maybe you find crits hard to land. But let me tell you this: Crits matter. Trust ya boi Nemo. That 1.5 damage multiplier on enemy Battleborn is godly. And criting a thrall of shepherd for 3x damage? You really want to miss out on a single attack doing 3k + damage?
Criting with Burst Dash is one of the most satisfying things in the game. Git gud with it. you won’t be sorry ;).
Despite what people may say, normal Burst Dash is a very clutch escape in some situations. There are so many locations where you can use either burst dash alone or a mobility combo with it to get you out of harm’s way. I would love to show them all to you but to be quite frank I just don’t have the time. So I’ll go over a few general situations where is comes in handy. With a little bit of an artistic twist because I’ve been writing for hours and need to do something creative.
1. Getting up walls in an escape
You were just trying to play some Incursion: Monuments with your good friend xxx_xxNoob_Slay3r_xx. You thought they were a bunch of scrubs so your friend, being the complete wank that he is, decided to go Peddles. Meanwhile you picked a good and competent character: Deande.
You got into the game and found out that the enemy was actually a bunch of smurfs (yes Kevin, not even a bunch of melons). As soon as your forces collided in the center of the map you friend was revealed by an Orendi, bashed against the wall by a Boldur, and nuked by a point blank thorn volley crit.
He rage quit immediately.
Then you jumped down to assume to position of front line Deande. A minute later you had pushed the enemy back to their sentry. But then the Boldur came and stunned you. Thorn put the volley in but your character doesn’t suck so you lived with 200 health. You Drop kicked up to the stairs and attempted to jump across to pillars but Phoebe phase gated right behind you and you fell.
Drop kick on cooldown you looked to the sky and burst dashed back up on to the pillar to continue your escape. You lived. Because of normal burst dash.
2. pseudo air stall
Five minutes later you were back fighting things. While you were sending your friend a well-deserved F*ck you for leaving, the thorn had morphed into @vagrantsun ‘s Toby. You jumped up to their loft using burst dash to steal shards…
…But then he ambushed you with that devastating assassin Toby he likes to run.
The quick melee spam was real as you tried to get around him, but he kept nocking you back! You finally drop kicked over him and tried to make your way to the nearest exit. But you knew he had a stun mine. If you ran in a straight line you’d get rekt. But if you drop kicked straight up you would also get rekt because of the easily predictable trajectory of the parabola in which you travel. But you had an ace up your sleeve.
As you ran you drop kicked straight up, and at the height of your jump you used burst dash to shoot you off on an angle up and to the side. The stun mine sailed through the air where you would have fallen and you made your way to the exit, still alive.
3. Counter acting the geometry push back after drop kick
As the game raged on you found yourself loosing badly. So you went behind enemy lines and took doubles. You pushed the sentry but the boldur came and destroyed the thralls and the sentry targeted you.
So you ran to drop kick up onto to overlook at first sentry but as you were about to be in safety you felt yourself sliding back into the boldur’s waiting arms.
Again you burst dashed, climbing back over the ledge and drop kicking away to teleport behind enemy lines.
(this one was kinda forced but I lost my OG clips. But you still get the idea)
The Boldur was salty.
About 4 minutes latter you were subject to a brutal defeat at the hands of the enemy. But you didn’t die. And that’s all that really matters. Your KD is safe. Normal Burst Dash saved your KD. Wurf.
Of course that was speaking strictly about the Burst Dash itself. Another big part of the whole mobility equation is the fact that not taking Ground Zero allows you to take double trouble, which opens up your play book massively in the area of mobility. But this is a post about Burst Dash not Double Trouble so I won’t go into Detail about that.
This is a throwback to the section on DPS and Duration. But this one point annoys me so much that I made it its own topic. Basically what I have dubbed “aftershock” is the time delay that is present from the use of your burst dash to the activation of your ultimate skill.
The following video clearly displays the difference. Watch closely for how soon the ult is activated from the burst dash animation.
As you can see the ult activation clips into the normal Burst Dash animation, essentially cutting down the animation time. In sharp contrast the ult remains unusable for a few seconds after a Ground Zero Burst Dash.
Deande just stands there! Stunned and utterly useless! Hence the name aftershock.
And why is this important? Well this is the most important thing for me because I love to incorporate what I’ve been calling the “Ult Trap” into my daily gameplay.
The ult trap is simple. It goes Holotwin into Burst Dash into Ult. You use the holotwin to proc EOS, the burst dash to apply weaken + slow and do a good chunk of damage, and the ult + the culling + the active clone to finish the job. It is a devastating combo, capable of doing over 3K damage in the right situations.
However Ground Zero ruins that. It delays the ult by so much that the enemy has time to run away the majority of the time even when slowed. And that pisses me off. So much.
This is the just about the whole reason I don’t use Ground Zero. This stupid aftershock. Because I can get away with not being able to crit. Or losing some slow or damage here and there. And I can ever work around the lack of mobility (kinda). But aftershock is infuriating.
For me it is the greatest crime against Deande’s potential as an assassin.
#Make Ground Zero Great with Me!
So this is just a fun little thing I thought I would throw in at the end. All my facts and arguments are done, the whole point of this section is to discuss what it would take to make Ground Zero a viable option. This is just a brainstorm, not a “this needs to happen” type thing, so please join in on the fun and post your own ideas.
I have so far come up with 3 changes to ground zero that could potentially make it wurf. This is keeping it in line with the idea that Ground Zero should be wave clear, regardless of how I feel about Deande wave clear. Of course that also means that the animation stays the same.
Change 1: REMOVE AFTERSHOCK. Plz GBX just let me ult when I want.
Change 2: Change the way Ground Zero deals damage. I had fun theorizing with Blaine about an alternate version of Ground Zero where for every enemy you have caught in your damage wave you gain +15% to the damage of the dash. You could even reduce the base damage on Ground Zero to compensate for calculated risk, or leave it the same to compensate for EOS prioritization. Or balance it with the culling. Or something. All I know is that You would be able to get insane per target damage on everything inside a wave, including enemy players. So 15% may be a bit high, but you get what I’m saying. It’s the basic idea that matters. It would also make Drain Dash a lot better.
Change 3: This one would make Ground Zero Great: Ground Zero projects five pillarstorms out around her when activated….
…just pay attention to the first two. Especially the stacking one. And give me some of your own ideas too. Nemo demands it!
So there you have it. A comprehensive guide to Ground Zero versus normal Burst Dash. I hope some of you are able to find some use in the information here, maybe even making up your mind as to which burst dash mode you think is better. It was a lot of work into this post as always, but I find it worth it. And now if anyone tries to argue Ground Zero to be superior to normal Burst Dash you just link them here. You let ya boi Nemo take care of ‘em ;).
Additionally I would like to thank the following people for helping me with this post, most notably in footage acquisition, but also brainstorming.
As always, thank you for reading, and feel free to point out any incorrect information you may feel is embedded within this post.
Perfection shall be achieved.