Buffs & Debuffs: The Major/Minor System

A lot of you have probably read the tooltips/descriptionsof skills in the game at one point or another, and noticed something peculiar about some of the things you apply to targets or onto yourself.

Buffs and Debuffs, Flat Values and Percentages

To start, buffs refers to what kind of effects can occur, generally friendly and helpful effects, to yourself and other players while debuffs refer to the type of effects, generally negative but also still helpful since it will help you do more damage and so forth on PvE targets or other players in PvP.

These buffs and debuffs can come from a variety of sources including class skills, guild skill-lines, weapon skill-lines and item sets.

Some buffs, debuffs or item sets will notably have flat values such as Weapon or Spell Critical on their tooltips or in the patch notes instead of percentages like Health Recovery.

To calculate Critical flat values to percentages, you need to take 21,912 Critical (which amounts to 100% Critical Chance) and divide into whatever Critical value is given on an item set or passive.

So for Major Savagery which gives 2191 Weapon Critical, we simply need to do 2191 / 21,912 which gives us ~10%.

An item set such as Mother's Sorrow which lists "833 Spell Critical" as one of its item bonuses is going to give us ~3.8% (833 / 21,912).

To calculate Resistance/Penetration flat values, you need to know that a Player's resistance soft caps out at 33,000 Physical/Spell Resistances (one can only get 50% mitigation from resistances, meaning 660 Physical/Spell Resistance = 1% damage mitigation).

Every Trial boss has 18,200 Physical/Spell Resistances (there are exceptions such as Maelstrom Arena and other areas in the game).

So Major Fracture which debuffs or "takes away" 5280 Physical resistance from a player or a boss can be calculated in such manner: 18,200 - 5280 = 12,920 penetration more required.

Note that players CAN go over the 33,000 resistance cap but this proves to be useful mostly for PvP against other players that can debuff them and not in PvE encounters.

Let's look at a list of the buffs we can get from this game:

BUFF NameWhat It Means
ResolvePhysical and Spell Resistances
FortitudeHealth Recovery
EnduranceStamina Recovery
IntellectMagicka Recovery
SorcerySpell Damage
ProphecySpell Critical
BrutalityWeapon Damage
SavageryWeapon Critical
BerserkDamage Increase
ForceCritical Damage
VitalityHealing Taken
MendingHealing Done
ProtectionReduces Damage Taken
EvasionReduces Area of Effect Damage
GallopMount Speed
HeroismUltimate Generation
SlayerDamage Done to PvE Monsters
AegisReduces Damage Taken from PvE Monsters
ToughnessMax Health Increase

Now let's take a look at the debuffs:

DEBUFF NameWhat It Means
BreachSpell/Physical Resistance Penetration
DefileReduces Target Healing Taken
MaimReduces Target's Damage Done
MangleReduces Max Health
CowardiceDecrease Target's Weapon and Spell Damage
EnervationReduces Target's Critical Damage
UncertaintyReduces Target's Critical Chance
VulnerabilityTarget Takes Additional Damage
MagickastealRestores Magicka from hitting Target
LifestealRestores Health from hitting Target
BrittleTarget takes additional Critical Damage

And of course there are UNIQUE Buffs and Debuffs that will not fall into the Major/Minor system we will be discussing on this guide such as:

  • Linebreaker
  • Engulfing Flames
  • Stagger
  • Empower
  • and other passives/item sets.

Now obviously you don't need to memorize everything here as you can always refer to the ingame tooltips of each skill to check them out regardless of the patch but for some of you while this may look simple there's two things we need to take into consideration:

The first is that most of these buffs and debuffs can be split into the Major and Minor categories:

This basically means, for example, a skill or whatever can give you Major Ward which would increase your spell resistance by X and a different skill or whatever that comes from yourself or another player can give you Minor Ward, such as Combat Prayer:

Major Resolve (5948 Physical/Spell Resistance)Minor Resolve (2974 Physical/Spell Resistance)
Major Fortitude (40% Health Recovery Increase)Minor Fortitude (20% Health Recovery Increase)
Major Endurance (40% Stamina Recovery Increase)Minor Endurance (20% Stamina Recovery Increase)
Major Intellect (40% Magicka Recovery Increase)Minor Intellect (20% Magicka Recovery Increase)
Major Sorcery (20% Spell Damage Increase)Minor Sorcery (10% Spell Damage Increase)
Major Prophecy (20% Spell Critical Increase)Minor Sorcery (10% Spell Critical Increase)
Major Brutality (20% Weapon Damage Increase)Minor Brutality (10% Damage Increase)
Major Savagery (10% Weapon Critical Increase)Minor Savagery (6% Weapon Critical Increase)
Major Berserk (10% Damage Done Increase)Minor Berserk (5% Damage Done Increase)
Major Force (20% Critical Damage Increase)Minor Force (10% Critical Damage Increase)
Major Vitality (16% Healing Received)Minor Vitality (8% Healing Received)
Major Mending (16% Healing Done Increase)Minor Mending (8% Healing Done Increase)
Major Protection (Reduces Damage Taken by 10%)Minor Protection (Reduces Damage Taken by 5%)
Major Evasion (Reduces AOE Damage Taken by 20%)Minor Evasion (Reduces AOE Damage Taken by 10%)
Major Expedition (Speed Increase by 30%)Minor Expedition (Speed Increase by 15%)
Major Gallop (Mount Speed Increase by 30%)N/A
Major Heroism (3 Ultimate/1.5 Seconds)Minor Heroism (1 Ultimate/1.5 Seconds)
Major Slayer (10% Damage Done Increase to PvE Monsters)Minor Slayer (5% Damage Done Increase to PvE Monsters)
Major Aegis (Reduces Damage Taken from PvE Monsters by 10%)Minor Aegis (Reduces Damage Taken from PvE Monsters by 5%)
N/AMinor Toughness (Increases Max Health by 10%)
Major Courage (Increases Spell/Weapon Damage by 430)Minor Courage (Increases Spell/Weapon Damage by 215)

Not all buffs and debuffs each have their Major and Minor counterparts, for example, Minor Lifesteal (as of 2019) exists but Major Lifesteal does not. Some skills such as Linebreaker or a unique debuff or buff don't have a Major or Minor category. Empower is also unique and every source that offers Empower such as Empowering Grasps or the item set Galenwe offers a boost to all light attack damage for 3 seconds.

MAJOR DebuffMINOR Debuff
Major Breach (5948 Resistance Debuff)Minor Breach (2974 Resistance Debuff)
Major Defile (Reduces Target's Healing Taken by 16%)Minor Defile (Reduces Target's Healing Taken by 8%)
Major Maim (Reduces Target's Damage done by 10%)Minor Maim (Reduces Target's Damage done by 5%)
N/AMinor Mangle (Reduces Target's Max Health by 10%, not applicable to elite mobs/bosses)
Major Cowardice (Reduces Target's Weapon and Spell Damage by 430)Minor Cowardice (Reduces Target's Weapon and Spell Damage by 215)
N/AMinor Enervation (Reduces Target's Critical Damage by 12%)
N/AMinor Uncertainty (Reduces Target's Critical Chance by ~3%)
Major Vulnerability (Increases Target's Damage Taken by 10%)Minor Vulnerability (Increases Target's Damage Taken by 5%)
Major Brittle (Target takes 20% more Critical Damage)Minor Brittle (Target takes 10% more Critical Damage)

What Does This All Mean?

No same buff or debuff can stack on yourself or on a target. This means if you have a monster set like Chudan and a skill that gives you Major Ward and Resolve like Balance or whatever, these resistances do NOT stack.

Same thing for buffs for other players, let's say we have one Warden healer and one Warden tank, we only really in reality need only one of these two since the Minor Toughness from their class passives don't stack on top of another to give you 20% more max health as some may think.

Major Fracture + Major Fracture = Does NOT Stack!

Major Fracture + Minor Fracture = Does Stack!

Unique Buff A + Unique Buff B + Minor Buff + Major Buff = Does Stack!

Unique Buff A (Source A) + Unique Buff A (Source B) = Does NOT Stack!

This is where a loooot of players both new and old sometimes get tripped up, so it's really important to read the tooltips and make sure you're not unnecessarily stacking buffs.

Well what about debuffs? Same thing pretty much, you can't stack, let's say, Minor Vulnerability from different sources on the same target, one will simply override or refresh the other.

This rule applies to certain debuffs as well including the aforementioned Linebreaker from procc'ing the set Alkosh. Moreover, this rule can apply to unique buffs on yourself and others as well.

So if you were to use Gossamer and proc it on someone but another person also has Gossamer to proc it on that person, the effects don't stack but the procs can definitely come one after another in terms of duration.

Keep in mind however, so long as the debuffs and buffs are unique AND separate, they do stack. An easy example of this for buffs is wearing the Bloodspawn helmet which offers it own unique buff of ultimate generation which can stack with Minor or Major Heroism or wearing similar sets with the same tooltips such as Dragon and Potentates can "stack" in terms of ult cost reduction effects.