Specializing in Blades and Piercing works the same way specializing in our bow does. Speccing raises the damage we deal with every swing for that weapon type (25-125% with no spec, 75-125% at 2/3's spec, and 100-150% at full spec). We also gain combat styles as we spec in our weapon of choice. And just like bow, speccing in a weapon raises your WeapSkill, and items that give a bonus to your weapon specialization count towards the damage range and WeapSkill. Items will not give you access to styles, however (e.g. At level 25 with 21 base pierce spec, an item that gave me +4 pierce would put me at the 100-150% damage range, but I would not gain access to the 25 spec style, Diamondback). As with all skills, the most you can gain with items is capped at lvl/5+1. To see the list of melee styles, follow the link in the navigation section to the left.
Blades vs Pierce: The Legend Continues
To find out more about armor modifiers follow this link to Oaklief's
You wield a weapon in each hand. Each attack round, a coin is tossed - heads, you swing the right hand weapon, tails you swing the left. The speed of the attack is determined by the speed of the "winning" weapon. Damage is assessed for each swing based on the spec points you have into that damage type, just as it is if you're using a single weapon.
To expand on that some, the formula to determine your chance to double swing is 25% + (0.68% * spec). When you do actually double swing, it uses the average delay of your two weapons; if you had a 3.5s weapon in one hand and a 2.5s weapon in the other, your swing speed would be 3.0s when you double swing (melee damage is frontloaded, so the delay occurs after the swing and determines how long it will take until your next attack). Styled, however, you always swing with your main-hand, so you will only be using main-hand delay and the average speed when you double swing.
While CD is a good source of damage, using it in place of a weapon spec would gut your damage output since the damage you do is based on your primary weapon spec. Celtic duel also does not affect your WeapSkill in anyway.
You can use Pierce or Blade styles and still double swing while dual wielding. CD styles merely supplement your current weapon styles - the chance to double swing always remains the same no matter what styles you use. Since most Rangers do not spec highly in CD, it is recommended you use your primary weapon spec styles instead, supplementing styles when needed. Such as the CD style Snowshower for a "use-behind" snare style, or the CD evade chain for blades users who do not naturally have an evade chain. For more information on styles and how they work, I recommend reading Wyrd's Style Spreadsheet FAQ.
The Myth: Using faster weapons will let me get more hits in so
I will do more damage than slower weapons.
The Myth: Faster weapons will let me rack up more damage with
our self-damage add because I will be hitting more often.
The Myth: Faster weapons let me double swing more often, so I
will do more damage than slower weapons.
It seems like I am down on fast weapons, but it is quite the opposite. There many rumors when it comes to this topic, and these seem to be the most common. Based on a large amount of analysis, on one hand slower weapons are statistically slightly better, but faster weapons do allow for an easier time with getting off reactionary styles and breaking through Pulsing Bladeturn. But as I mentioned earlier, there is a 1.5s swing time cap, so with large amounts of quickness or some hastes, that cap is easily attained with 2.6s weapons... anything faster is a relative waste of DPS. Johanas did a nice study on weapon speeds, so feel free to take a look at his Technical Analysis of Weapons.
When it comes to dual wielding weapons, using the slowest weapon in the main-hand and the fastest in the off-hand actually hurts your damage output unless you have over 45 total CD spec, or if you have a ton of quickness and haste (over 250 quickness with a 20% haste for instance). The slow/fast combination gives a harder hitting first swing, but the fast/fast combination makes up for that front-loaded damage with more swings in the same time period. This is styled swings only, because unstyled they are equal in either case. When it really comes down to it, just pick whatever 2 weapons you like, and use them. I do recommend most pierce users choose a combination of faster weapons (Angled Daggers, or Rapiers and Stillettos) so they can get their evade-stun off easier, unless they have a buffbot in which case they would do more damage with a Guarded Rapier and still swing under 2 seconds.
Quickness allows us to attack faster, just like it does for our bows (well, almost). I already gave you the equation, so I will save you the numbers here. But there is something a little bit different in the way quickness affects melee damage. Your base damage per swing always remains the same just like bows, so if you have no quickness and swing for 100 damage unstyled, you will still hit for that much even if you have 250 quickness. But Style damage and Damage adds are based on your swing time AFTER hastes and quickness. In the end, having high quickness is still better than having none, here's an example:
If you swing for 100 damage every 4 seconds, lets say you do 40 style damage per swing, and get +20 from a damage add. Every 4 seconds you are doing 160 damage (40 Damage Per Second). Now lets say you get a haste and swing the same weapon once every 3 seconds. You still do 100 base damage, but your style damage is now 30 per swing, and your damage add is +15. You are now only doing 145 damage per swing, but you are doing almost 50 damage per second (in other words you do less per hit, but more damage over time).
It is beneficial to have high quickness and/or hastes regardless of the fact it reduces style damage, and damage adds.
I will start just by saying that using a shield really is not even an option once you gain the Celtic Dual ability. The chance to block with an unspecced shield is only 5%, while CD has a base of 25% to double swing. The 25% base chance will allow you to kill an enemy 25% faster (which means you take 25% less damage than if you were only using 1 weapon), where a shield would only slow the amount of damage you take by 5%. Until you get CD at level 10, however, you should be using a shield.
Getting the optimum damage out of your combination of weapon spec, Celtic Dual, and Pathfinding can be a little confusing, especially since we do not have enough points to boost them all very high. So I will put it as simply as I can - keep CD around 1/3-1/2 of your total weapon spec. It also depends somewhat on your chosen spec, because a sniper can pretty much ignore CD, while a Ginsu Ranger might want to boost their CD spec much higher. How high you should spec your weapon really depends on what styles you want. But the best way to do it is to plan on being able to get your Weapon close to, or above 50 with items and Realm Ranks. The most common stopping points are 39 weapon, and around 18 CD.
A number of tests and calculations have shown that this is generally the best way to get the most out of your spec points. Raefe put together a great Speccing Tool that will let you enter in your specs, bonuses from items, bonuses from realm ranks, and your base quickness. He also added fields for your stealth, bow, and pathfinding along with the number of total spec points granted at level 50 so you can fully customize your ranger. I should warn you, however, that even though this tool calculates your damage (which was based on a number of calculations I ran in the past) it does not take into account WeapSkill from your weapon spec (it is still largly unknown exactly how much WeapSkill impacts melee), so it is not very accurate. Take it's results with a grain of salt: Raefe's Simple Ranger Melee DPS Tool