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From all appearances, it actually is. In hours of testing, all attacks have stayed within their usual (1.. 1.2) damage ranges after all multipliers are accounted for... in fact, I have yet to see any kind of damage increase compared to any other class doing the same thing. So, topic title basically.
I have tested the damage for:
Gunner at combo 1 (following 1 attack)
Gunner at the end of a 3-character combo
Other characters attacking after the Gunner
Other characters in a 3-character combo opened by the Gunner
Other characters in a 3-character combo where the Gunner is second
Combo bonus for Gunner (attacking for consecutive turns without moving)
Testing was done with non-skill, non-critical attacks coming from stats in the millions against the front of a character with 9 defense (low enough that it shouldn't matter, in other words).
Now I'm considering if I might not see any effect because the target was on a reverse damage panel... the usual combo modifiers were added as would be expected, but since it's healing would probably be treated as a beneficial effect, and those seem to not count for some things in combos. I guess that means more testing is needed.
I can't add much to the topic, as I don't really use Gunners that much (not to mention that it's been a year since I've last played the game), but this is something that I always wondered as well. I can't even help with the testing, as I don't have my PS2 here with me =/
I'll be looking forward to seeing your (new) results.
Just something that came to mind (but it's probably wrong): maybe the bonus is actually for Team Attacks instead of "real" combos? Should be easy enough to test, I think. Looking at the Team Attack Table from Prometheus, they seem to get along well with most story characters. If not, Sinners' innate base 95% to all chars should do. Again, it's very unlikely that that's the case, but still...
EDIT: The Character Guide by Rajaal have a little difference in the wording of the Gunner's ability, making it seem like the bonus applies for the whole combo, instead of just for the Gunner. Doesn't make much sense, though. Nonetheless, I think it'll be a good idea to establish a control group for your tests: test the combos with a Gunner without Lovers and another one with 20 lovers. I say 20 because you'll have to debuff the Gunners' HIT from the lover's stat bonuses, and you can supposedly debuff HIT by 20% with a single Blind (not sure if it'll make the HIT stat exactly the same as in the control, but as you mentioned, it shouldn't matter THAT much with the stat in the millions).
As you say, some sources state that the ability actually affects the damage of other allies taking part in the combo (that would be amazing). That's why I'm looking at the damage for other characters as well, but so far they have only been doing their regular damage.
The in-game description says 'DMG UP during combo attacks', which seems fairly unambiguous (Gunner's damage would increase if at least one person attacks before it), but if it means something else it wouldn't be the first case of a game giving false information, so I'm considering other possibilities.
Tested again, on Invincibility panels and vs 1 def this time. Using only damaging attacks, and having two people attack before the Gunner, so it would no doubt be considered a legit combo. Also testing the damage of other characters when the Gunner opens the combo. I even tested with the Gunner in critical health. Still getting the same results.
Final test, against an enemy this time (also on an Invincibility panel), since combo effects on the bonus gauge differs between allies and enemies. I didn't want to do this since I have less control over enemy defense, leading to greater random variation, but it's accounted for. But in the end, having the target be an enemy didn't make any difference either.
At this point, I have no idea what I could be missing. All results point toward the Gunner ability not just lacking its advertised damage increase, but to it having no effect whatsoever on damage.
Just something that came to mind (but it's probably wrong): maybe the bonus is actually for Team Attacks instead of "real" combos?I don't think this is the case since the game differentiates between Combos and Team Attacks in its tutorial. If it is though, it would mean the ability is effectively useless. Even at the point where Team Attacks are relevant, a 20% increase for one participant will not make enough difference to matter.
Nonetheless, I think it'll be a good idea to establish a control group for your tests: test the combos with a Gunner without Lovers and another one with 20 lovers. I say 20 because you'll have to debuff the Gunners' HIT from the lover's stat bonuses, and you can supposedly debuff HIT by 20% with a single Blind (not sure if it'll make the HIT stat exactly the same as in the control, but as you mentioned, it shouldn't matter THAT much with the stat in the millions).That's something I might do if trying to figure out the exact effect of the ability... for now I'm just trying to find out if it has any effect at all, but the answer seems to be no. Anyway, there's no need to debuff the Gunner with lovers, just use the improved hit for calculations instead. And a Gunner with 20 lovers after one hit debuff (Blind) would have 4% less hit (0.96x) than a Gunner with no lovers, not to mention the effect decay for buffs each turn would make it a total pain for tests.
More test details:
As I mentioned, tests are done with normal attacks from the front.
There are no interfering factors, so damage is expected to be [(A / 3) * (1 ~ 1.2)]. All recorded values support this.
When factoring in defense, subtract [(D / 3) * 0.6] from the min. damage, and [(D / 3) * 0.45] from the max. Damage multipliers in combos (for any character) are assumed to be 1, 1.1 and 1.21 (in that order). Again, all the numbers match up.
a Gunner with 20 lovers after one hit debuff (Blind) would have 4% less hit (0.96x) than a Gunner with no lovers, not to mention the effect decay for buffs each turn would make it a total pain for tests.
Okay, I just realized this is probably not true. If debuffs actually took away 20% of their target stat, 5 debuffs would turn any stat to 0, and that just doesn't happen >_>
So for now I'm just gonna assume debuffs divide their target stat by [1 + (number of debuffs x 0.2)], 5 debuffs would then halve the stat which makes more sense, and it would work as you said for the first turn it's in effect.
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