Lilith the Specter

Well, I just started playing Borderlands a few weeks ago, and at first I thought it was dumb, but now it’s safe to say I’m addicted. Anyway, I love being a sniper, and I asked the friend who got me interested in Borderlands if you could play as a sniper, and he said I’d like to play as Mordecai. Which I did and do. But now I’ve found this nifty little Specter COM for Lilith, and I’ve been looking around for a good sniper build with her. I found an incomplete one on YouTube, and I’ve changed some things around a bit. I am looking for ways to make this the best all-around sniper build I can. Note: Each Skill Tree is all caps, then there’s the number of skill points used in the tree, and lastly the number of skill points used altogether.

Phasewalk - 1

CONTROLLER - 25 - 26
Diva - 5
Inner Glow - 5
Hard to Get - 5
Girl Power - 5
Mind Games - 5

ELEMENTAL - 18 - 44
Quicksilver - 5
Resilience - 5
Venom - 3
Intuition - 5

ASSASSIN - 25 - 69
Slayer - 5 (9)
Silent Resolve - 5
Enforcer - 5 (8)
Hit & Run - 5
High Velocity - 5 (8)

My Specter COM adds 4 to Slayer and 3 to Enforcer and High Velocity, and has Ammo Regen. Side note: I love ammo regen.

I use three different sniper rifles and an SMG. I use:
Jakobs Bessie against bosses with easy-to-hit Critical Hit spots
Jakobs Skullmasher for long-range purposes
Whitting’s Elephant Gun for medium- to short-range purposes
Maliwan HellFire for when I get surrounded

I have the Rose shield, and I don’t remember which Grenade mod I have, but I don’t really use grenades anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s an incendiary longbow.

So, with this build, a Bessie-wielding Lilith can do +645% Critical Hit damage, whereas a Bessie-wielding Mordecai can only do +630%. Which is not a big difference, I now realize.

Anyway, thoughts on making this better and/or thoughts on whether or not Mordecai is still a better sniper are sought.

Number 1 reason Mord is a better sniper is easy access to relevant com. 2nd reason is actually Relentless and the amount of damage buffs he has. It’s all in the math. That said, Lilith is certainly no slouch when it comes to sniping, and she’s far more durable while doing it too.

The math behind how critical hit damage and its associated buffs works is more complex than you probably realize, even non-critical hit damage has a few interesting details that are very important to the final damage output. As a general rule, multiple buffs to the same variable are additive, but related variables stack multiplicatively. Here’s a rundown, with references to what things provide what effects on Mordecai and Lilith:

For baseline non-critical hit damage we have two vars that matter for all bullet firing weapons and one or two more for elemental weapons, they are:

  • Weapon Damage: This works with all guns, unless the effect specifies a weapon type, then your currently held weapon must be of that type for the bonus to be applied. It increases damage by the specified percentage.
    Mordecai gets this from: Killer (+8%/pt., On-kill), Caliber (+4%/pt. Snipers only)
    Lilith gets this from: None of her skills buff weapon damage.
    Both of them will also get +48% from having maxed out the relevant weapon proficiency (max is 50).
  • Bullet Damage: This works with any bullet firing guns, and is only provided by character skills. It also increases damage by the specified percent, and since it’s separate from weapon damage, the two stack multiplicatively.
    Mordecai gets this from: Trespass (+1%/pt.), Relentless (25% chance for a Killer Shot which gives +20%/pt.)
    Lilith gets this from: Enforcer (2%/pt.), High Velocity (4%/pt.)
    For elemental weapons, there are two other variables:
  • [Element] Impact Damage: This will apply to the specific [Element] named, increasing damage by the specified percentage, and is only available to Mordecai and Lilith via class mods (Brick can get Explosive Impact Damage buffs from his Endowed skill, the skill to buff [Element] Impact Damage). If you’re running a Sniper mod or Mordecai, or a Specter on Lilith, you won’t be getting any buffs to [Element] Impact Damage.
  • [Element] Passive Damage: This variable doesn’t exist for explosive damage, but it does for the other three, and it affects their Damage over Time effect, increasing damage by the stated percentage. As with impact damage buffs, Mordecai and Lilith aren’t getting any if they’re running Sniper or Specter coms respectively.
    One thing to note about these effects is that coms which increase [Element] damage increase both impact damage and, where available, passive damage. Lilith’s Tormentor com is a special case as it the 5th line effect of +% Team Elemental Effect Damage does not specify an element. It only applies to passive damage so only Shock, Fire, and Corrosive weapons benefit, but it affects DoT from all three of those elements (and being a team effect, does so for everyone in the party).

Critical Hits use the final number from applying the above buffs as a base value that is subsequently modified by the combined sum of three different buffs: Zone Critical Hit Bonus, Player Critical Hit Bonus, and Weapon Critical Hit Bonus.

  • Zone Critical Hit Bonus: Depends on the enemy in question and what critical hit location you managed to hit. These values are specific to the enemy you are fighting and vary considerably from enemy to enemy (for instance a bandit has a value of 150%, or 1.5 as a decimal, a Skag has a value of 300%=3, and a Crab Worm has a whopping 2900%=29).
  • Player Critical Hit Bonus: This value is used solely by Mordecai’s Deadly skill and Lilith’s Slayer skill, the tooltips for both skills do not give the correct value. They instead give the net increase in total critical hit damage with a weapon with no weapon critical hit bonus against a target with a 150% zone critical hit bonus (e.g. a bandit).
    Mordecai gets this from: Deadly (15%/pt.)
    Lilith gets this from: Slayer: (12.5%/pt.)
  • Weapon Critical Hit Bonus: This value is determined by the gun you are using, and is usually published on the guncard (with a few exceptions, notably all revolvers have a hidden bonus of 100%), although if the weapon has too many other bonuses, it might not fit on the guncard. Snipers have a value of 200% for repeating snipers (Gambles have 250%, but their accuracy sucks), or 180% for semi-auto snipers. What’s interesting about this variable is that there are class mods (mat2 Ranger, Sniper, and Specter) that will buff this value, but they do so multiplicatively (e.g. a Sniper com with +100% Sniper Rifle Critical Hit Damage will double the bonus, make a repeating sniper’s weapon bonus total 400%, and a semi-auto sniper’s bonus will total 360%). The Bessie is a special case, it’s actual weapon bonus is merely 200%, but it has a built in increase to that of 150%, which gives an extra +300% making the total 500% before com is factored in, but base the weapon base critical bonus is 200%, So a Sniper com will only add another 200%, meaning the com will take the Bessie’s Weapon Critical Hit Bonus from 500% to 700%.

Putting these pieces together, (and ignoring elemental buffs because we probably have none), we get the following formula with %'s as decimals:
Let G be weapon guncard damage
Let W by % increase in weapon damage
Let B be % increase in bullet damage
Let z be the zone critical hit bonus
Let p be the player critical hit bonus
Let w be the weapon critical hit bonus
Let i be the total increase to weapon critical hit bonus
Then final damage, F, of a critical hit with you gun will be:
F = G * (1 + W) * (1 + B) * (1 + z + p + w * (1 + i))

The the value of p + w * (1 + i) for a bessie with your build is actually: 1.125 + 2*(1+2.5) = 8.125 = 812.5%
Here i = 2.5 because the Bessie itself already gives +1.5 to i, and then your Specter com (assuming max stat 1st line) is giving another +1 to i.

The reason why Mordecai still out damage Lilith with a sniper com is that (1 + W) * (1 + B) is typically significantly higher for Mordecai then for Lilith (and his crit bonus is 775% in the above scenario with a Sniper com, so he’s not far behind there)

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Using this equation (although I’m sure I’m using it incorrectly, as math is not my strength), I got F=47,969.76 for Lilith and F=41,731.2 for Mordecai. This is for against a bandit with a G value of 2000. Unless I did it wrong (entirely possible), Lilith gets +48% Sniper Rifle Damage, +145% Sniper Rifle Critical Hit Damage, and +48% Bullet Damage. Mordecai gets +84% Sniper Rifle Damage, +130% Sniper Rifle Critical Hit Damage, and +5% Bullet Damage. So… does that seem right, or am I doing that wrong?

I did some testing.

Level 69 Mordecai vs. Level 70 Skagzilla (just because I was in the neighborhood)
Mordecai’s Sniper Rifle proficiency is 50. He has a level 69 Jakobs DVL590 ZZ Fearsome Bessie which does 1947 damage. Caliber is 9/5, Killer is 5/5, Deadly is 5/5, Relentless is 3/5. He has a Sniper COM that increases Crits by 100%. Getting a critical hit against Skagzilla usually does 14,293 damage, but sometimes it does around 32k (I don’t remember the exact number, as it only happened twice and I forgot to write it down). I would assume this was because of Relentless.

Level 69 Lilith vs. Level 70 Skagzilla
Lilith’s Sniper Rifle proficiency is 50. She has the same Bessie. Slayer is 9/5, Enforcer is 8/5, and High Velocity is 8/5. Her Specter COM increases Crits by 100%. The first time I killed Skagzilla, critical hits did 15,594 damage. But the second time they did 36,893 damage. I have no idea why this is.

I just killed Skagzilla a third time with each character. Mordecai only did 14,293 again, but Lilith did 15,594 for all the hits except the last three, which did 36,893.

Next up I used the Jakobs DVL590 XX Fearsome Skullmasher, which does 561x6 damage. With Mordecai, against the same enemy, I was getting 45,459 critical hits. But with Lilith, I was getting 26,924.

EDIT: I just tried it again with Mordecai and I only got 24,678 damage with crits.

Relentless should be 5/5 (worth ditching points from elsewhere, it’s probably his single best DPS skill). With 9/5 Caliber, Mordecai is getting:
+48% weapon Damage from profs
+40% from Killer if you got a kill within last 7 seconds
+36% from 9/5 Caliber with sniper rifles
=+124% Weapon Damage

Also has bullet damage
+5% from Trespass and 25% chance for +100% from Relentless (25% chance to be a Killer Shot and have the extra damage) if you got a kill within the last 7 seconds
=75% chance for +5% bullet damage and 25% chance for +105% bullet damage

With you 1947 damage bessie, you have w=2 and i=1.5 already, the sniper com adds +1 to i. So i=2.5, p=.75 from 5/5 Deadly, zone bonus will vary based on what your shooting, lets use a bandit, so z=1.5

So we have 75% chance w/ kill in last 7 seconds to do:
1947 * (1+1.24) * (1+0.05) * (1+1.5+.75+2*(1+2.5))=30,910.572
and 25% chance w/ kill in last 7 seconds to do:
1947 * (1+1.24) * (1+1.05) * (1+1.5+.75+2*(1+2.5))=60,349.212

For Lilith, she has
+48% weapon damage from profs
and some bullet damage
+32% from 8/5 High Velocity
+16% from 8/5 Enforcer if you killed an enemy in last 7 seconds
=+48% bullet damage
for crits she has z=1.5 (bandit), p=1.125 (from 9/5 Slayer), w=2 (Bessie), and i=2.5 (+1.5 from Bessie, and +1 from Specter com)

This gives, if you killed an enemy in last 7 seconds:
1947 * (1+0.48) * (1+0.48) * (1+1.5+1.125+2*(1+2.5))=45,312.531

I’m not really understanding where you’re getting Bessie’s 2 for w and 1.5 for i from… OH! Now I get it. Because the rifle itself does +200% (w), but the scope adds the +150% critical damage in the same manner as the +100% from the com (i). I get it now.

How do you know all this stuff? Is there a tutorial or something online? I like learning and wouldn’t mind checking it out if there is.

Most of the stuff that I mentioned there (and more like it) I learned from the Unreal Editor for Borderlands (comes with the game, but you have to do some things to get it to work right) together with in-game testing. I wrote a few posts about that stuff on the old boards, but I haven’t gotten around to moving them to the new forums (might be better to just rewrite them). So look for posts by Frightning_Lightning on the oldforums: