Archive for August, 2012

The Secret World – Skill Points

So there are several great places to go to get information about selecting skills for your character builds. My personal favorite is TSW Guides: TSW Build Page. But a question that comes up over and over again on The Secret World Newcomers Forum is about how to spend the skill points. Since skill points come at 1/3 the frequency of ability points, it’s a legitimate area to be concerned about. So I thought I’d write this up to explain how I allocate my skill points when I start a new character.

To explain, I was in the Closed Beta portion of testing and each new build I would create a new character from scratch; so this approach comes from a few dozen character rolls that I did during that time.

What Are Skill Points?

Skill Points (SP) are used to allow you to equip ever more powerful equipment (weapons and talismans). Since your major increase in strength comes from the gear that you can wear, allocating your skill points to maximize your potential is an important part of character building. You gain a new SP every time you completely fill your experience bar. Another way to measure it is you get one skill point for every 3 ability points that you earn.

There are a couple of important things to keep in mind about skill points.

  1. The Quality Level (QL) of equipment you can use is one higher than the corresponding Skill Level (SL). For example, if you have an SL of 3 in Blades, you can equip up to a QL 4 Blade weapon.
  2. For weapons (which have two paths to spend your SP on), your SL is the HIGHEST of the two paths, NOT the sum. So investing in both paths usually doesn’t pay off from a pure SL standpoint
  3. There is an SP cap (currently 44). Once you have 44 unused SP, you won’t earn any more. So it doesn’t make sense to keep banking them forever.

Where Can I Spend My SP?

You open the Skill Point tree by pressing (K) in-game. You can also get to it from your Ability Wheel (N). The SP tree is divided into weapons on the top half and Talismans on the lower half. A full discussion of weapons and talismans is really beyond this guide. Suffice it to say that weapons are how you enable your character to use abilities tied to those weapons and talismans are the stat generating gear typically associated with armor in other MMOs.


Each Weapon is further divided into two categories. The first is always Damage. Allocating SP in the Damage category will enhance your damage dealing skills with that weapon. Read the descriptions for each weapon to see exactly what each weapon skill enhances. The second branch for each weapon is going to either be Survival, Support, or Healing. The buff associated with allocating points in this branch usually help with tanking, buffing/debuffing, and healing abilities respectively. The following list is a summary. See the in-game tree for details.

  • Fist
    • Damage – Buffs Sweep and Regrowth skills.
    • Healing – Buffs healing delivered to targets.
  • Blade
    • Damage – Causes additional damage.
    • Survivability – Self heal on blocked attacks.
  • Hammer
    • Damage – Causes additional damage from hammer attacks
    • Survivability – Reduces damage received when blocking.
  • Pistol
    • Damage – Additional damage on successful hit
    • Support – Heal defensive target when you hit opponents
  • Shotgun
    • Damage – Additional damage at close range
    • Support – Shield for defensive target when using a shotgun turret ability
  • Assault Rifle
    • Damage – Stacking damage buff against target
    • Healing – Improves Leech effects for AR abilities
  • Elemental
    • Damage – Additional AoE damage to enemies
    • Support – Buffs defensive target damage output when using Manifestation abilities
  • Blood
    • Damage – Damage buff while Blood Offering is active
    • Healing – Heals defensive target when Barrier expires
  • Chaos
    • Damage – Potential for additional attack causing damage
    • Survivability – Evading attacks further reduces the damage you receive

Note that you will only get the stat benefit for the weapons you are actually wielding. For example, putting points into the Survivability line for Blade won’t grant you the self-heal if you don’t have a Blade weapon equipped.


Talismans are divided into Head, Major, and Minor categories. These correspond to talismans that fit into the following slots on your character:

  • Head – Your head slot. Buffs Magical Protection.
  • Major – Wrist, Neck, Finger. Buffs hit points (hp).
  • Minor – Waist, Occult, Luck. Buffs Physical Protection.

Theory Behind My Approach

I break this down into three phases of the game.

  • Phase 1 – First Upgrades – The first equipment upgrades you’re likely to receive are going to be weapons. Therefore, I want to make sure I can use a new weapon as soon as I pick it off some zombie’s rotting hands in Kingsmouth.
  • Phase 2 – Talismans, First, Second, and Third – Over the long haul, you will find more talisman upgrades than any other. Makes sense, right? Since you have 7 slots for talismans but only 2 for weapons?
  • Phase 3 – Maximize buffs

My First 32

The part of SP allocation that I want to focus on here is how I spend my first 32 SP that I earn. I’ll provide some overall guidance following that, but let’s hit those first 32 first. I’ll lay out the table of how I do this, then follow up with some discussion.

SP Allocation SL
1 Major Talismans 1
2 Minor Talismans 1
3 Head Talismans 1
4 Primary Weapon (Damage) 1
5 Secondary Weapon (Survival/Support/Healing) 1
7 Major Talismans 2
9 Minor Talismans 2
11 Head Talismans 2
13 Primary Weapon (Damage) 2
15 Secondary Weapon (Survival/Support/Healing) 2
18 Major Talismans 3
21 Minor Talismans 3
24 Head Talismans 3
27 Primary Weapon (Damage) 3
30 Secondary Weapon (Survival/Support/Healing) 3
31 Primary Weapon (Survival/Support/Healing) 3
32 Secondary Weapon (Damage) 3


The first 2 points go to my weapons. Whichever I’m using for damage, gets a point in it’s Damage category. The other gets a point in the supporting branch. This will allow me to equip up to QL 2 weapons, which gets me through most of Kingsmouth Town.

The next points go in order to Major Talismans, Minor Talismans, and then Head Talismans. I choose Major first because it also buffs my HP (which everyone can use more of) and it supports 3 crucial talisman slots on my character. Minor comes next because it covers 3 more talisman slots. While Head talismans account for bigger bonuses than the others, since they are also more rare, I leave those for last.

Once I have everything at level 1, I proceed to get my 2 weapons and my talisman skills up to SL 3. This will allow me to equip up to QL 4 which gets me past Kingsmouth and well into the Savage Coast.

Finally, just before I enter the mid-game part of my strategy, I put one point (and ONLY one point) into the “other” branch of my weapons trees. The reason I do this is because the first point is usually a significant buff for whatever skills that weapon is supporting. Subsequent points will raise bonuses from 5% to 5.5% or something similarly trivial. But that first 5% bonus for 1 SP is worth it in my book.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Well, that depends. In my case, I decided I wanted to diversify from my Blade/Fist build which serves me well for soloing and work on a tanking build using Blade/Chaos. So I started putting some points into those skills. I’m also slow playing the whole game (I’m still on Solomon Island with 2.25 days of /played time). so I don’t need gear that can handle Egypt yet, which allows me to branch out and look at some healing and other builds as well. For me, going back and running through the Kingsmouth Town quests with new weapons is kind of fun.

On the other hand, if you’re sticking with the weapons you have, then you could just continue the pattern. Major, Minor, Head, Primary, Secondary until you reach SL 9/10.

I hope this was helpful to someone. Let me know if anything is unclear (or even worse incorrect).

TSW Builds – Final

Now that we’re reaching the 30 day mark for The Secret World being live, I figured it was time to give the final analysis of the number of potential character builds based on the current ability wheel in-game.

A Brief History of Builds

I’ve made several posts over the last months in regards to why I think that TSW’s build system is unique and offers some challenges and opportunities for those of us who like to crunch numbers. Here is the history of those posts…

The Real Deal Wheel

On the live wheel, there are 9 weapons and 3 “general” ability segments. These are:

  • Magic
    • Blood Magic
    • Chaos Magic
    • Elemental Magic
  • Ranged
    • Shotguns
    • Pistols
    • Assault Rifles
  • Melee
    • Blades
    • Hammers
    • Fists
  • General
    • Survivalism
    • Subversion
    • Turbulence

The weapons each have 24 Active and 24 Passive abilities plus 5 Elite Active and 3 Elite Passive abilities as well. The general ability segment each have 3 Active, 3 Passive, and 1 Elite Active ability in their segment.

Selecting the Building Blocks

As mentioned previously, a build in TSW consists of 7 active and 7 passive abilities. You’re allowed to have 1 Elite ability in each Active and Passive parts of the deck. For Active abilities, you’re further restricted that they have to be either tied to one of the 2 weapons you’re allowed to equip or part of the general segment of the ability wheel. Passive abilities can be equipped no matter what weapons you’re using.

Active Abilities

With 2 weapons, and 3 general segments, there are 13 potential Elite Active abilities. There is also a pool of 57 normal active abilities from which you can build your deck. Assuming that you want to use 1 Elite ability if it is available, that leaves 6 active abilities to be selected from the pool of 57. The math works out as follows:

1 Elite Active out of a pool of 13 = 13 combinations

6 normal actives out of a pool of 56 = 36,288,252 combinations

13 x  36,288,252 =  471,747,276 combinations for each weapon pair

Since there are 36 ways that you can select 2 weapons out of a pool of 9 options…

36 weapon pairs x  471,747,276 active combinations per pair =  16,982,901,936 possible ways to select your 7 active abilities at the end game.

Passive Abilities

Passives are a bit easier since they aren’t dependent on weapon selections. There are a total of 27 Elite Passive abilities and a pool of 225 normal passive abilities to select from when creating your build.

1 Elite Passive out of a pool of 27 = 27 combinations

6 normal passives out of a pool of 225 = 168,488,720,400 combinations

27 x 168,488,720,400 =  4,549,195,450,800 possible ways to select your 7 passive abilities

Builds and Viability

So with 16,982,901,936 different ways to select Active abilities and 4,549,195,450,800 ways to select passive abilities, you end up with …

16,982,901,936 x 4,549,195,450,800 = 77,258,540,228,633,700,000,000 potential builds

If, once again, we use 1 millionth of 1 percent as our viability estimator, we still end up with 772,585,402 potential ways to build your character.

With over 772 million possible builds, I’m pretty sure that balance should end up being a non issue.

Once again I’ve uploaded my spreadsheet that I used to come to these conclusions. One number you could play with is the “synergistic sets”. For raw number purposes, I assumed that all 36 weapon combinations could potentially work. You could look at it and decide that only 10 of those weapon choices are actually likely to work together. But if you do that, I’d recommend you adjust the Viabilty factor as well.

TSW Skill Builds – Final