Is the Grudge engraving really mandatory in Lost Ark raids?

Since Argos was launched in the global servers of Lost Ark, there have been discussions about the Grudge engraving. Grudge gives the user bonus damage to Boss monsters (scaling with level), but increases their incoming damage by 20%, making it a double-edged sword in Raids and Abyssal Dungeons.


At first, suspicions about the Argos raid came from Korean users who originally played on the KR server —  the global version of the Argos raid didn’t seem to hurt as much as the KR server. It was common for KR server users to be insta-killed if hit, but the players on the global servers weren’t. The suspicions brought up by these users were that Lost Ark might have dropped a weaker version of Argos on the global servers… but it was the same Argos. The biggest difference, as it turned out, nearly no one chose Grudge on the global servers while attempting Argos.


Argos and the Grudge engraving


Argos was released about a month after the global servers opened. At the time, it was difficult to bring 3-tier accessories to the encounter, and most users didn’t yet have the expertise the Korean users had. There was a stark difference between the KR servers’ newbies and the global server ones. Newbies on the KR servers first engage Argos with at least a 331 or a 333 setup. Compared to that, global server players were far behind — obviously, they actually shouldn’t have selected Grudge.


On the KR server, the Grudge engraving is basically mandatory for all damage classes, so for these KR server players, the attempts on Argos on the global servers were very unfamiliar. There have been opinions from KR users, advocating for NOT selecting Grudge to help with survivability, and the results of that presented themselves through the global server attempts on Argos.


The role of Grudge engraving in Lost Ark raids

Given the tangible difference between how Korean and Global players approach Argos, we can ask the question of whether Grudge is really necessary? Oddly enough, Grudge wasn’t mandatory at all for a long time on the KR server as well — from open beta to season 1. It made sense then: Lost Ark was a new game so players were unfamiliar and not proficient at it. The second reason was that it was more important to raise the item levels so that players could move on to the next content. They didn’t have time to focus on Grudge or the engraving settings to find the most efficient build. Furthermore, Grudge Level 1 was tied to Epona rewards, so it wasn’t even really available.


KR players first started to focus on Grudge when the weekly raids appeared. Before that, the endgame content was Tytalos, and they didn’t need to focus too much on gaining more damage. Nobody forced Grudge on the damage classes. It may have made it harder to clear, but it was possible. However, when the weekly raids first appeared, Grudge became a necessity as there were plenty of situations where groups would fail to clear the raid. Losing the chance to enter the weekly raid was a big loss to any player, so everyone started to focus on damage builds. 


Grudge Level 2 was obtainable in Illusion Isle or Tranquil Isle, etc. It wasn’t common, so there was a big difference between players that activated Grudge Level 2 and those who didn’t. This was the first time Grudge entered the spotlight.


Grudge and Broken Bone were the two pillars of weekly raids


Grudge Level 2 became more and more compulsory as time passed. Back then, the class engravings weren’t as useful, and players weren’t able to use Cursed Doll or Keen Blunt Weapon as sub engravings. All that was really available was Master of Ambush, which was much better back then, or Grudge Level 2.


In season 2, this style of engraving selections continued. There was a big engraving restructure in the game, but Grudge was 4% stronger than other engravings. Therefore Grudge became the norm from early season 2 (when players could select two-three engravings) to now (when the maximum is six).


It’s very clear why players who’ve played since open beta through season 2 insist on mandatory Grudge. They have a ton of experience with Grudge’s efficiency from Level 1 through Level 3. However, looking at the big picture, forcing others to do can be a problem. By forcing everyone to pick Grudge, those damage dealers that don’t opt for it are often ignored and dropped from parties.


The history of the Grudge engraving on the KR server isn’t as simple as on the global servers, and users have strong opinions about Lost Ark’s most popular and infamous engraving. As you read some of those below, please keep in mind that some of what’s listed below isn’t yet available on the global servers.


Why should you not use Grudge?

1. A shared penalty

The biggest problem on the current KR server is that Grudge is mandatory. All classes except supporters are forced to select Grudge and have to deal with the +20% incoming damage. The defensive ability of the raid party and individuals decreases significantly, leading to unintended deaths.


The +20% incoming damage drawback means the difference between having to drink a potion to survive and straight up dying. A damage dealer dying in Abyss Raids and Legion Raids is always one of the biggest penalties and a good enough reason to start over. If all damage dealers select Grudge and make just one mistake, each dying once, that’s of no help to the raid party.

In fact, many of the commonly known insta-kill patterns are survivable by simply not bringing Grudge. It is clear that if Grudge is excluded, evading insta-kill boss patterns gets easier and the stability of the whole raid party rises.


2. Classes that have to tank and DPS

There are certain classes whose playstyle gets more aggressive if they do not select Grudge. Combat Readiness Gunlancers, Mayhem Berserkers, or Artillerists often have to endure boss attacks while dealing damage. If they just take out Grudge, unexpected deaths can be avoided much more often than with the +20% incoming damage penalty.


When the raid party’s defense isn’t as strong, and if the bosses’ attacks are severe, there could be situations where all classes are busy just trying to evade hit by hit, which leads to damage loss. By just excluding Grudge, many of these situations can be overcome.


3. Lack of diversity

You can use up to six engravings in Lost Ark. One of these slots is usually taken up by class-specific engravings, and if Grudge takes up another slot, there are only four left. Although there are six slots, players can only choose three or four engravings if Grudge is compulsory. If everyone has to use Grudge, it would be better if all characters’ damage was buffed by 20% and their defense was nerfed by 20%. There are many engravings in the game, and if Grudge is forced, diversity is blocked.


If Grudge is remade or if Grudge isn’t mandatory, some players would select Grudge to attempt a high-risk-high-return performance, and some could exclude it for more stability. But as is, the Grudge engraving is way too efficient.

Grudge is mandatory

▲ Whenever new dungeons are introduced, the Grudge debate will be a hot potato

1. Grudge is already a requirement

As mentioned several times above, Grudge is already a requirement on the KR server. It’s an unwritten rule that all dungeons in Lost Ark are made with the use of Grudge Level 3 in mind. That being said, there aren’t any dungeons that can’t be cleared with Grudge Level 3. Even with the 20% extra incoming damage, all dungeons are beatable, so there’s no need to exclude Grudge and decrease the players’ damage. If the players aren’t able to survive with Grudge, they should learn the dungeon more with first-attempt parties.


Furthermore, there are many different ways to enhance a character’s damage. The final setup of a character is within 4-5%. By excluding Grudge, that user would fall behind 20% intentionally, since everyone else would be using Grudge already.


2. The 4% difference in Grudge is really big

It’s late into season 2 on the KR server, and a 1-2% difference is really big. Considering that a lot of players are nearing the endgame item level, they spend millions of gold on bracelets, ability stones, etc., to get an item that’s just 1% better than others. The damage difference between a 7/7 ability stone and a 9/7 ability stone is about 4%. If a player deactivates Grudge, it means that they voluntarily start 4% behind. 


Here’s a small chart that shows what it means damage-wise to select Cursed Doll over Grudge.


Grudge (20%)

Cursed Doll (16%)

Weapon quality 100 (30% extra damage)

Weapon Quality 90 (26% extra damage)

Ancient weapon honing level difference of 2.5 (1.6% per honing level)

333332 engraving (9/7 ability stone)

333331 engraving


3. There need to be more common engravings

This is the biggest reason Grudge shouldn’t be nerfed. Although some say that Grudge harms the diversity of engraving selections, some classes simply don’t have any engravings to use except Grudge, like Arcana (Advanced mage class, name pending) or Deadeye. The reason Keen Blunt Weapon, Cursed Doll, or Adrenaline are popular is that they’re efficient and versatile at the same time. In this situation, Grudge is THE most versatile engraving — without Grudge, it would become very difficult to select a different one.

For Grudge to be nerfed or excluded, there should be a proper alternative. There isn’t even a good alternative to Cursed Doll — it’s nearly impossible to substitute Increased Mass or Raid Captain in place of Grudge.

Balance change is necessary

Unless the KR users’ perception changes drastically, it’s very unlikely the Grudge-centric builds will change. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that the boss monsters' patterns or damage will change as they’re designed around the Grudge build. Even the slightest nerf on Grudge will equal nerfing all characters.


The ultimate problem is that the whole game is balanced around this narrow mountain called Grudge. If the structural issues are solved before they change or nerf the engraving, players could naturally move on.


Usually, when new boss monsters first appear, players aren’t used to their patterns and the damage could feel punishing, but as they get used to the raids, they begin to understand how things work. Grudge and the new bosses’ damage were always an issue when new dungeons were released on the KR server, but they naturally faded away for this reason.


It would be difficult to satisfy everyone, but if all of this is considered and Lost Ark balances the bosses and engravings well, some people will select Grudge, utilizing the high-risk-high-return style, while some will select other engravings for more stability.

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