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Survivability generally refers to how much damage a player character (or NPC) can receive or avoid before "dying". Survivability can be improved in several ways, based on which of the character's defensive statistics are highest.

Defensive Statistics

Defense statistics represent how physically tough you are, how mentally resilient, and overall how easy it is to hurt you.

  • Evade Rating - Modified by Talismans and Defensive runes, this stat influences your Evade Chance.
    • Evade Chance - This, minus your enemy's Enemy Evade Chance, determines how likely you are to avoid an enemy attack altogether.
  • Physical Protection - Modified by your Skill in Minor Talismans, this amount is subtracted from attacks which deal physical damage - claws, bullets, and the like.
  • Magical Protection - Modified by your Skill in Head Talismans, this amount is subtracted from attacks that are magical in nature - lightning bolts, fireballs, and so on.
  • Defense Rating - This competes with your enemy's Hit Rating to determine how easy you are to hit. With a high defense rating, you evade more easily, and attacks that do hit are more likely to be Glancing Blows.
    • Enemy Crit Rating - A product of your Defense Rating, you subtract this amount from your enemy's chance to inflict critical hits.
  • Block Rating - Your Block Rating, minus the enemy's Penetration Rating, determines how well you can intercept enemy attacks. Blocked attacks, like Glancing Blows, deal significantly less damage.


A character built for survivability above all else is generally referred to in MMO Parlance as a 'tank'; slow and powerful, with the ability to absorb a great deal more damage than his/her allies. A Tank will often have abilities which manipulate 'Hate', The Secret World's method of calculating the enemy's threat priorities. A good Tank will generate more Hate than his allies, causing enemy mobs to stay focused on him and ignore their allies.

Tanking Strategies


The most obvious way of 'Tanking' would simply be to have the most health out of anyone in your Group, which directly affects how many hits you can take before being eliminated. While relatively easy to understand, it's not generally recommended to rely on high health alone as a means of 'Tanky-ness', but rather in conjunction with other Defensive means.


The next most logical way to take a lot of hits is to make sure they don't hit at all. Evasion relies on chance - random 'dice rolls' generated by the game engine - to determine if an enemy attack hits and does damage, or if you evade and the attack does no damage at all. While tempting for some, including certain official ability decks like the Martial Artist, others are put off by the idea that a bad run of 'dice rolls' and their lack of high Protection means that they could be taken out in relatively short order.


Defense is a little more straightforward than Evasion, but also relies on a certain element of random chance. With high Defense, characters are likely to be subjected to less 'Critical Hits' and more 'Glancing Blows'. Glancing Blows inflict 60% less than regular damage; a 'Critical Failure', in other words. While still relying on chance, Glancing Blows appear to occur far more often than Evasion, particularly with high Defense.

If a blow is glanced, no special effects from that attack can happen. If the player would have been impaired on a successful hit, that will not take effect if the player glances the enemy's hit. The same in reverse, so enemies will not be impaired if they glance player hits.


Blocking is similar to Defense except that successful blocks only reduce the incoming hit's damage by 30% and a block will not stop a hit from becoming a critical hit, but it will instead stop a hit from becoming a 'Penetrating Blow'.


Protection is a direct mitigation mechanic. It works by knocking a flat percentage off of every hit of the appropriate type. Every physical damage hit (bullets, swords, etc) gets reduced with no chance of a failure to occur as with evade/defense/block. Every magical damage hit (lightning, fire, etc) is reduced similarly by magical protection.

Combat Rolls

For every 'swing' a player or enemy makes, the game calculates the effects in this way:

Calculate Evade Chance

Defender evade rating vs attacker enemy evade chance reduction. Determine's defender's likelihood of evading.

Evade results roll

Using the above figure, check to see if the attack is evaded.

If it is not evaded, continue:

Calculate defense chance

Defender defense rating vs attacker hit rating, determines defender's likelihood of glancing the attacker's blow.

Defense results roll

Using the above figure, check to see if the attack glances.

If it does not glance, continue here:

Calculate critical hit chance

This is based on the attacker's critical hit statistic. Determine's the attacker's likelihood of making a critical hit.

Critical results roll

Using the above figure, check to see if the attacker makes a critical hit.

If blow did glance or regardless of the outcome of the critical results roll, continue here:

Calculate Block chance

Defender Block Rating vs attacker's penetration rating. Determine's the defender's likelihood to block.

Block results roll

Using the above figure, check to see if the defender blocks.

If the defender does not block, continue here:

Calculate Penetration chance

Compare defender block statistic vs attacker penetration statistic. Determine's attacker's likelihood to cause a penetrating blow.

Penetrate results roll

Using the above figure, check to see if the attacker causes a penetrating hit.

Resolve Damage, continue here:

Calculate attacker damage

Make a roll based on combat power and skill base effectiveness to determine attack's base damage. Determine damage type - Based on the skill used by the attacker, determine if the damage is physical, magical, filth, untyped, etc. If attack was glanced, reduce damage by 60%. If attack was a critical hit, increase damage by an amount that depends on the attacker's crit power statistic. If attack was blocked, reduce damage by 30%.

If attack was a penetrating blow, stop here and deliver damage to target.

If attack was not a penetrating blow: Apply protection reduction - Reduce the above attacker damage by a flat percentage that depends on physical or magical protection, if applicable, then deliver damage to target.

Stats In Depth


This stat has the greatest impact on total damage received of all of the defensive stats. Every point here provides more damage 'mitigation' than it does for any other stat. This is also the protection method that is least likely to occur at the baseline. It is also the highest mitigation defense (damage reduced by 100%) if it does occur. Enemies with high scores in "Enemy Evade Chance" can drastically reduce a player's likelihood to evade, essentially making this stat completely worthless.

Points in this stat actually reduce the effectiveness of points spent in other defensive stats. An attack cannot be both evaded and glanced/blocked at the same time. If it is evaded, the player might as well have defense ratings and block ratings of zero for that attack. This isn't the worst problem to have, but it is a meaningful consideration at least.


Glancing Blows reduce the damage from attacks by at least 60%. The damage of an attack can be further mitigated in that a glanced attack cannot become a critical hit. If an attacker would have been allowed to achieve a critical hit, the damage from the attack could have potentially been many times higher than the base damage of the attack. In this way, achieving a glancing blow can reduce the damage of some hits by amounts approaching 100%. See below:

Base damage = 1000 Glanced damage = 400

Critical multiplier = x3 Critical damage = 3000

Glanced Damage 400 / Critical Damage 3000 = 13.333~% = Damage reduced by 86.666~%

Additionally, effects that happen on hits such as adding a Damage Over Time effect or an Impair do not happen if an attack is glanced, so investing in defense can enable the defender to avoid many particularly nasty secondary effects.

It is important to note that in TSW currently as of 5/8/13 there are not very many enemies with large statistics in critical rating or critical power. Because of this, the efficiency of defense rating as a mitigation stat is penalized. Said another way, glancing blows are more likely to be 60% damage reduction rather than 86.666~% damage reduction. If it becomes the case later that Funcom creates enemies with larger statistics in these types, then that will increase the importance of the defender's defense rating.

At the baseline, glancing blows occur about 1.5 times more often than evades do and they increase in likelihood about 1.5 times as fast as evades increase in likelihood from further stat point increases. Considering evades are 100% reduction and glances are 60% reduction, this helps defense close the gap with evade as a mitigation stat somewhat.


Points spent here provide the third greatest amount of mitigation at the baseline compared to both evade and defense. The base damage reduction of a block is 30%. This can be further increased because a blocked hit cannot also be a penetrating hit. The math here is similar to that from the Defense heading. If an attack would have otherwise penetrated, blocking that attack will reduce damage by a net amount much greater than 30%.

It is important to note that in TSW as of 5/8/13 there are a lot of enemies in the game which have very high penetration ratings, particularly many of the hardest enemies in the game. What this means is that penetrating blows make up a large percentage of the damage from many of the hardest enemies in the game. If a player invests heavily in block, it will reduce those enemy's abilities to penetrate greatly and reduce the total damage the player takes greatly.

The net of this is that for many enemies the best way to reduce the damage they deal is by investing heavily in block.

Additionally, Blocking happens more often than either of evading and glancing at the baseline and it happens more often in relation to them as the defender's block rating increases. Combined with the lesser reduction of 30% this at least helps to shrink the gap between evade/glance and block as a damage mitigation stat.


Points spent here provide the least amount of mitigation of any of the defensive stats. Points spent here provide a flat damage reduction percentage for attacks of the applicable type of damage. That means any points spent on physical protection are worthless if the defender is being attacked with magic, filth, or some other type. What this means to the defender is that often the defender will have to carry around multiple gear items for each slot that carries a protection stat and switch between them depending on what type of damage a particular enemy does. For enemies that do multiple types of damage, there is no way for the player to avoid having reduced stat effectiveness. For some types of damage (like filth) there is no stat that can be used to mitigate that damage, so the player has to further carry around Defense items for their protection slots (some filth attacks can be glanced but not blocked or protected).

The increases in mitigation from spending points here also rises the slowest of any defensive stat. If the enemy achieves a penetrating blow, all points the defender spends here are worthless. If a player is investing in protection, its helpful that they also invest in block so that their protection points are not worthless as often.

Healing Considerations

By way of personal skill, gear, active/passive choices, etc each healer is capable of generating only so much healing. The easiest way to measure this is to just add up all the healing that a healer does and divide it by all the time they spent healing. That could be considered a healer's sustained HPS recovery rate.

If the attacker's sustained damage per second is greater than the healers HPS recovery rate then that will start cutting into the defender's HP total. If it continues long enough, the defender's life total will be reduced to zero.

Each of the above mitigation stats works to reduce the attacker's damage per second and helps to get it close to or under the healer's HPS recovery rate. Reducing incoming damage to below the healer's HPS recovery rate is the main goal of tanks in terms of damage mitigation.

This is an overly simplified way of looking at things, though. If, for example, an attacker does 5 large hits in rapid succession and then goes for a very long period of time delivering no hits at all, then the attacker's sustained DPS could be rather low, while their "spike" DPS would still be quite high.

Thus a healer must be able to deliver enough HPS to defeat the defender's DPS. The tank and the healer combined both have a responsibility for being able to defeat an enemy's "Spike DPS" (sometimes also called burst DPS).

There are many ways to address this problem, some include: 1) The healer can make their HPS recovery rate increase overall and/or increase their own "Spike HPS". 2) The tank can have a greater Hit Point total. With a greater total pool of Hit Points, the likelihood of a short burst of massive damage reducing them to zero decreases. 3) The tank can choose their stats in a way that maximally decreases spike DPS.

The way to achieve number 3 is to lean more on the stats that apply reductions most often and less on the stats that apply a greater total reduction but less often. This means to aim more towards block and protection and less on evade and defense.

Evade and defense do go a long way towards helping to make sure that the enemy's damage goes under the healer's sustained HPS recovery rate, but they are unreliable in terms of when that mitigation happens. If it doesn't happen at the time it really needs to happen, then critical failures can occur (tank dies, group wipes, etc).

As it stands in TSW as of 5/8/13, the larger concern for almost all encounters is Spike DPS and the lesser concern is high sustained DPS. Most healers of reasonable gear for the encounter can easily provide enough sustained HPS recovery rate. Where groups consistently fail is Spike DPS if they fail at all, most likely. This means that its better to aim one's stats towards reducing spike DPS if possible over reducing sustained DPS.

Case in point, the Ak'ab boss in Darkness War and the Cthulhu boss in Polaris both have very high penetration rates and deliver short bursts of extreme damage as their main forms of attack. If the group can't handle spike DPS, they will consistently lose vs these encounters. High Block Rating and high Physical Protection goes a long way to reducing the Spike DPS below the healer's Spike Healing + the defender's HP Total.


Assault Rifle Blade Blood Focus Chaos Focus Elemental Focus Fists Hammer Pistols Shotgun
Martial Artist X X
Goon X X
Bodyguard X X
Warlock X X

Starter Decks