Even before IG decided to bring down the damage of his damage ender, I think arbiter players were very frequently using it when they shouldn’t be. If anything, to me it looks like a nerf to his power in an attempt to buff the gameplay of the players…but judging by the arbiters I’ve run into as well as matches I’ve watched, it didn’t really accomplish that. So let’s talk about arbiter’s hard knockdown ender.
HKD ender is one of the fastest ender animations in the game at every level, possibly THE fastest. Even comparing it to the quick uppercut-style damage enders, it feels like it animates slightly faster because it doesn’t have long hitstop or much of a delay before it hits. To further illustrate the point, arbiter’s level 4 HKD ender animates faster than his level 1 damage ender. We’ll get back to this.
People love to use arbiter’s level 1 damage ender, and not without good reason. At lower levels arbiter’s damage ender is among the strongest in the game, possibly the strongest. (I was not in the mood to test either the speed of every ender in the game or the damage of every level 1/2 damage ender in the game.) It seems that the general range of damage for level 1 damage enders is anywhere from 3%-ish at the low end (fulgore) to 7%-ish at the high end (tusk.) Arbiter’s level 1 damage ender does upwards of 8%, making it very attractive. In comparison, his HKD ender does…about 2%. Jeez. But still, his HKD ender is often a better choice for damage.
Here’s the thing. I see this a lot: the arbiter player uses the grenade to apply pressure to the opponent and then goes straight to the level 1 damage ender when they get a hit, and often the result is the grenade exploding around when arbiter stabs them. This grenade was effectively wasted, as you’ve thrown away its devastating vortex potential and only used it for some cheap pressure. Looking at the lowest of low end damage to get to his level 1 damage ender, you’re looking at 16-17% damage, doing light opener > light linker > ender. That’s really damn high for one chance, but if you stuck a grenade on them from neutral the only way for the grenade to recapture is if you do immediate light mercy’s demise opener into light linker–just the startup time of truth seeker is enough to make it not recapture.
Coming back to the HKD ender, there’s no way it was given that speed without purpose. The hits animate faster than pretty much any other ender and it has very, very short hitstop. This ender should be used in nearly any situation where you have a grenade on the opponent, to begin his grenade vortex. That 17% from the level 1 damage ender was high, sure, but the 22% you get from doing HKD ender, letting the grenade recapture, doing a pure guess one-chance break with mercy’s demise, and THEN doing damage ender is much more attractive…to say nothing of the 34% you get if you have a second grenade available and do it twice. And hey, if you’ve got a third grenade, why not do it again and get 46%? That kind of damage coming purely from situations where the opponent has to guess is crazy strong.
The issue here is that you have to practice this. The speed of the HKD ender means there’s a dead zone of combo length where the level 1 damage ender won’t recapture because it’s too slow, but the level 1 HKD ender won’t recapture because it’s too fast–the opponent will hit the ground before the grenade explodes. I know a lot of people here are allergic to training mode but if you’re gonna play arby you should hit the lab and figure out the length of combo you need to do based on how long the grenade is out and when you open them up. If the combo starts so early that HKD won’t recapture due to its speed you’ll have to extend it a bit either with doubles/linkers/manuals or gunshots, and if it starts so late that HKD isn’t fast enough to recapture you’ll have to “settle” for his very powerful damage ender or go for a reset with his ground bounce ender. Either way, one thing is clear: arbiter excels at short, few-chance combos into ender, whether that be for the vortex from HKD ender or the high damage from damage ender. It’s up to the player to ensure they’re maximizing arbiter’s damage potential at every opportunity.