ArenaNet:Developer updates/Archive July-Sept 2008

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[Dev Update] Guild Battles - 25 September 2008

  • Removed the reduced durations of hexes and conditions on the Guild Lord so that they last the normal amount of time.
  • Refined how aggressiveness is measured for teams in Guild Battles. Dealing damage to the enemy Guild Lord still increases your team's aggressiveness. Casting enchantments and weapon spells on your Guild Lord now decreases your aggressiveness. If neither Guild Lord is killed before 28 minutes have passed, the more aggressive team is awarded the victory.

Originally, the reduced duration of hexes and conditions was meant to keep powerful, long-lasting effects from bypassing the Guild Lord's high armor, making him unable to do damage, or abusing his AI. As the game has matured, we've discovered this is not necessary and also creates problems (such as making spells like Wastrel's Worry stronger when used on the Guild Lord). We've removed this mechanic entirely.

Our goal is to encourage active and tactically rich play in Guild Battles. Because of this, we've used each team's "aggressiveness" to determine which team should win if neither Guild Lord is slain. Recently, some degenerate builds were developed to exploit how aggressiveness was calculated. Using six or seven Monks, these builds would attempt to prevent any damage to their Guild Lord while sending a token offense to deal nominal damage to the enemy Guild Lord. We've changed how aggressiveness is determined to prevent these builds from playing a role in the upcoming Monthly Tournament and in the future. In the long term, as necessary, we will make adjustments to ensure that the primary objective in Guild Battles is to kill the enemy Guild Lord.


Dev Update - 10 September 2008

Hall of Monuments

We are releasing the previously announced changes to the Hall of Monuments in two stages. The first stage lets players enjoy adding their accumulated Tormented Weapons to the Monument to Valor [sic] sooner than otherwise. Support for this first stage is expected to release in October's scheduled content update. At this time, there is no expected release date on the remaining account-wide changes to the Hall of Monuments.

Skill Updates

Today's update makes a few skill changes to address outstanding PvP balance issues, returns Order of Undeath to its old functionality, and closes a PvE exploit. The PvP-oriented changes start with some Elementalist skill changes to adjust the balance between Mesmer/Elementalist and Elementalist primaries. Because this imbalance isn't necessarily game-breaking, we've been conservative with these changes. In Guild Battles, the bodyguard, as long as he's alive, will now reduce damage done to the Guild Lord. Based on player feedback, we've reverted our changes to Order of Undeath. Finally, we fixed an exploit with Unyielding Aura's unlimited range.

Guild Battle Changes

Over the course of these last few months, we've adjusted GvG to reinforce the game type's core objective: killing the enemy Guild Lord. Killing the bodyguard is meant to be an important step toward killing the Guild Lord. To reward teams that recognize this, we've given the bodyguard a damage reduction ability.

PvE and PvP

Elementalist
  • Glowing Gaze Glowing Gaze: functionality changed to: "Deals 5..50 fire damage. You gain 5 Energy plus 1 Energy for every 2 ranks of Energy Storage if target foe is Burning."
  • Glowing Ice Glowing Ice: functionality changed to: "Deals 5..50 cold damage. You gain 5 Energy plus 1 Energy for every 2 ranks of Energy Storage if target foe is hexed with Water Magic."
  • Glowstone Glowstone: functionality changed to: "Deals 5..50 earth damage. You gain 5 Energy plus 1 Energy for every 2 ranks of Energy Storage if target foe is Weakened."
  • Master of Magic Master of Magic: now ends whenever a non-elementalist skill is used.
  • Mind Blast Mind Blast: recharge time reduced to 2 seconds.
  • Icy Shackles Icy Shackles: energy cost increased to 10.
  • Shock Arrow Shock Arrow: functionality changed to: "Rapid projectile: deals 5..50 lightning damage. You gain 5 Energy plus 1 Energy for every 2 ranks of Energy Storage if you hit an attacking foe. 25% armor penetration."

After last week's modest adjustments to selected Water Magic skills, we've found that fast-casting Mesmer/Elementalists are still superior to Water Magic Elementalist primaries in Guild Battles. We've made Glowing Ice, Glowing Gaze, Glowstone, and Shock Arrow return Energy based on Energy Storage to give Elementalist primaries an advantage. Icy Shackles' cost has been increased to 10 energy as well, in an aim to make it less affordable for Mesmer primaries. We've removed a second of recharge from Mind Blast to make Fire Elementalists more viable in GvG. With the removal of NPC-killing as a core GvG tactic, we believe that the types of builds enabled by a more effective Mind Blast will not be detrimental to overall playbalance. Master of Magic was meant to support Elementalists with multiple elemental attributes, but it ending on Energy Storage and unattributed skills really limited that potential. We've changed this spell to end on non-Elementalist skill use instead.

Necromancer
  • Order of Undeath Order of Undeath: functionality changed to: "Your minions deal +3..16 damage and you lose 2% of your maximum Health when a minion hits." Energy cost increased to 10, duration reduced to 5 seconds.

We'd underestimated how many players used Order of Undeath at its previous functionality. Since the new implementation hasn't garnered a similar amount of play, we've reverted this change.

PvP Changes

Ranger

Sloth Hunter's Shot did a little too much damage. We don't want to eliminate the damage-style Ranger from play, so we've done a small damage reduction on this to bring it more in-balance.

PvE Changes

  • Unyielding Aura Unyielding Aura: Now only works on party members within spell casting range.

Players were able to use an exploit with Unyielding Aura to transport themselves across the map. We've added a range limit to prevent this exploit.


[Dev Update] Skill Balance Update - 21 August 2008

This week, we targeted several key playbalance issues. Smiter's Boon Monks have had a negative impact on gameplay in Team Arenas and Guild Battles. Mesmer/Elementalists have proved more effective Water Magic users than primary Elementalists. In addition, we adjusted Glimmering Mark and Disrupting Lunge.

While these updates are aimed at PvP balance, we believe that most PvE players will be largely unaffected by these changes. Therefore, we decided to not create separate PvP versions for most of the skills. We try to make different PvP versions of skills only when it is absolutely necessary.

PvE and PvP

Elementalist

Because of the higher cast time on Water Magic spells, fast-casting Mesmer/Elementalist were favored over primary Elementalists in competitive play. To shift the balance back toward primary Elementalists, we've increased the importance of a high Water Magic attribute for two key spells: Glowing Ice and Icy Shackles. Glimmering Mark became too weak when the damage stopped ignoring armor, so we raised the damage level to compensate.

Ranger

Disrupting Lunge's 20-second skill-disabling effect combined with its 10-second recharge made for frustrating gameplay for opponents. We've raised the recharge to match the duration of its skill-disabling effect.

PvP

Monk
  • Smiter's Boon (PvP) Smiter's Boon (PvP): recharge time increased to 90 seconds, Energy cost increased to 25, duration reduced to 5 seconds.

Smiter's Boon is a key skill in smite-heavy PvP teams that were generally overpowered and which too strongly discouraged the use of hexes and conditions. Their combination of healing, damage, and removal invalidated a lot of alternative builds within Team Arenas and has had a negative impact on GvG combat.

We recognize that the changes to this skill will essentially remove it from play. In the future, we may consider whether or not there is an incarnation of this skill that would be viable but balanced. For now, we do not expect it to see serious use.


[Dev Update] August Balance Changes - 7 August 2008

This month's skill balance is larger than normal. There were a number of issues we wanted to address:

  • Ursan-way. Changes to Ursan Blessing are included in this update, with the goal of both balancing it and not requiring players to grind out the title just to be able to play with others.
  • PvE-Only skills. With a few balances, we've also changed a lot of PvE-only skills to function better at lower attribute levels, reducing the need to grind a title just to use a skill associated to it.
  • Victory or Death. After a lot of discussion, testing, and reworking, we're implementing significant changes to Victory or Death. See the section below for specifics.
  • Weak Elites. Each profession has received updates to a number of unused and very weak elite skills to give players more build options and diversity.

It's no secret that the Ursan skills have been overpowered compared to other late-game options. Although this opened up high-end areas for a broader range of players it had several negative side effects: pick-up groups pressuring players to use Ursan Blessing; a diminished importance of profession and skill choice; and causing many players to feel that achieving a high rank in the Ursan title was required. We're attempting changes (described in more detail below) to address these problems without eliminating Ursan Blessing as a fun and viable play choice.

Similarly, we're reducing the effect of title rank on many PvE-only skills so that players don't feel so compelled to grind and raise their title ranks. Future updates may address additional issues with the rate and manner in which titles are acquired, but we view these changes as an important first step.

For PvP, we are not making many skill changes. We are instead focusing on the Victory or Death mechanics in GvG that have motivated players to play defensively and play to win specifically at VoD.

Finally, we're taking this opportunity to address many severely underpowered elite skills. In some cases, this has involved completely reworking the skills (and altering the creatures that use these skills in PvE). We don't like to radically change skills and risk invalidating the play styles that people may be enjoying, but in the case of the elite skills modified in this build, major changes seemed entirely appropriate.

Because of the large number of changes overall and the depth of the changes to VoD, we will keep a close eye on the changes and may revise or remove some of them. We aim to take care of any major fixes within a week.

PvE and PvP Changes

Assassin

  • Golden Skull Strike Golden Skull Strike: This skill no longer requires a lead attack; reduced Dazed duration to 1..5 seconds.
  • Hidden Caltrops Hidden Caltrops: increased recharge to 12 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(10 seconds.) Causes 50% slower movement. End effect: inflicts Crippled condition (3..15 seconds)."
  • Way of the Assassin Way of the Assassin: functionality changed to: "(20 seconds.) You attack 5..35% faster and have +5..35% chance to land a critical hit."
  • Flashing Blades Flashing Blades: functionality changed to: "(5..30 seconds.) You have 75% chance to block while attacking. Block effect: 5..20 damage to your attacker."
  • Shadow Form Shadow Form: reduced the damage penalty to 33%.

Golden Skull Strike was similar to Temple Strike but clearly inferior. Instead of having them serve a similar function, we've turned Golden Skull Strike into an elite version of Golden Phoenix Strike, which allows faster access to dual attacks and Daze. Hidden Caltrops has been turned into a stronger (and also more thematically-correct) snare, applying a 10-second hex that also Cripples when it expires. This protects the skill from those only using a single type of snare removal. Way of the Assassin grants primary Assassins new access to an increased attack speed stance that synergizes well with skills that trigger on a critical hit. Flashing Blades now causes damage when it blocks, which makes it more attractive in PvE and smaller-format PvP. Shadow Form's damage reduction was lowered so that it's more viable for a wider range of uses, including boss hunting. We're further adjusting the effectiveness of Shadow Form Underworld farmers by changing the Underworld, rather than additional changes to Shadow Form.

Mesmer

  • Tease Tease: decreased casting time to .25 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Interrupts a skill. Interruption effect: also interrupts all foes in the area and you steal 0..5 Energy from each interrupted foe."
  • Visions of Regret Visions of Regret: functionality changed to: "Also hexes foes adjacent to target (10 seconds). These foes take 15..90 damage whenever they use a skill."
  • Air of Disenchantment Air of Disenchantment: functionality changed to: "Also hexes foes adjacent to target (5..20 seconds). Remove one enchantment from target and nearby foes. Enchantments expire 150..300% faster on those foes."
  • Extend Conditions Extend Conditions: functionality changed to: "Spread all conditions from target foe to all foes near your target. The durations of those conditions are increased by 5..100% (maximum 30 seconds)."
  • Lyssa's Aura Lyssa's Aura: increased recharge to 30 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(10 seconds.) You have 0..4 Energy regeneration. Renewal: every time you cast a spell on an enemy."
  • Signet of Midnight Signet of Midnight: increased casting time to 2 seconds.

Tease was both confusing and entirely too specific to be playable. We've reworked the skill to have it double as both area-interruption and Energy management. Visions of Regret had a too-specific trigger effect, making it weak in most situations, and frustrating in the few where it worked. We've changed it to work on all skills, but not attacks, as a sort of elite Backfire. Air of Disenchantment has had problems due to spike damage in the past, but fell into obscurity after rebalancing. We've given this skill a new function -- area-of-effect enchantment removal. Extend Conditions becomes an elite Epidemic, spreading conditions in a wide area and lengthening their durations. Lyssa's Aura had a limited effect and uncontrollable triggering condition, which made it a weak choice for an elite. We've changed its functionality to Energy management that can be maintained. Finally, Signet of Midnight's dominated in four-on-four matches because it was independent of attribute investment. Signet of Midnight was originally balanced before Fast Casting affected the activation time of Signets. This change brings the skill closer to its original balance.

Necromancer

  • Life Transfer Life Transfer: decreased recharge to 20 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Also hexes foes adjacent to target (6..12 second). Causes -3..8 Health degeneration. You have +3..8 Health regeneration."
  • Vampiric Spirit Vampiric Spirit: functionality changed to: "Steal 5..50 Health from target foe. You have +5..10 Health regeneration (10 seconds)."
  • Order of Undeath Order of Undeath: increased recharge to 15; decreased Energy cost to 5. Functionality changed to: "All but one of your minions die. If that minion is non-Elite, it deals +5..30 more damage, has +5..20 Health regeneration, and attacks 33% faster (20 seconds)."
  • Pain of Disenchantment Pain of Disenchantment: decreased casting time to 1 second; increased recharge time to 15 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Target foe loses 1..3 enchantments. Removal effect: that foe and all adjacent foes lose 10..100 Health."

With the addition of new elites that can cause Health degeneration (Reaper's Mark, Corrupt Enchantment), Life Transfer slowly fell into the realm of underpowered. To give it a needed update, it now hexes adjacent foes as well, allowing Necromancers to more efficiently spread degeneration. Vampiric Spirit's previous functionality required us to make it either too weak in general or too strong in very specific cases. We've changed it into an elite version of Vampiric Gaze, doing a direct life-steal with additional regeneration. Order of Undeath is now an alternative way to make one, powerful minion that persists longer at the expense of additional minions. This skill should give minion masters interesting options without crowding PvP areas with masses of minions. Pain of Disenchantment now allows Necromancers to combine a multiple removal skill with area-of-effect damage, allowing greater utility while punishing enchantments.

Elementalist

  • Glimmering Mark Glimmering Mark: decreased casting time to 1 second; increased recharge time to 10 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(10 seconds.) Deals 5..25 lightning damage per second. Ends if you cast a spell that targets this foe."
  • Thunderclap Thunderclap: decreased casting time to 1 second; increased recharge to 20 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Deals 15..75 damage. After 3 seconds, inflicts Dazed condition (1..10 seconds) to target and adjacent foes. 25% armor penetration."
  • Mirror of Ice Mirror of Ice: increased casting time to 1 second; increased recharge to 30 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(60 seconds.) You deal 5..35 cold damage whenever you cast a Water Magic hex."
  • Master of Magic Master of Magic: decreased Energy cost to 5; decreased recharge to 20 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(1..61 seconds.) Your elemental attributes are set to 12 and you gain +0..2 Energy regeneration. Ends if you use a non-elemental skill."

The old functionality of Glimmering Mark and Thunderclap proved too difficult to balance. These skills were always either too effective at locking down enemies or too ineffective for an elite slot. We've dramatically reworked them both. Glimmering Mark now does damage to a foe until you cast another spell on that same foe, allowing persisting damage to an off-target; Thunderclap becomes a delayed, area-effect damage and Daze-causing spell. Mirror of Ice's previous function was too narrow and didn't support normal Elementalist play. It has been changed to amplify the damage output of Water Magic-focused Elementalists. Master of Magic has been reworked for easier mixing of elemental lines to allow interesting multi-element builds.

Monk

  • Healing Burst Healing Burst: decreased recharge time to 4 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Heals for 5..130. Also heals party members for 5..20 in area of your target."
  • Empathic Removal Empathic Removal: functionality changed to: "Removes one condition and hex from target ally and yourself, and heals for 50. Cannot self-target."
  • Aura of Faith Aura of Faith: this skill is now in the Protection Prayers attribute line; decreased Energy cost to 5; decreased casting time to .25; decreased recharge time to 8 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(3 seconds.) Target ally gains 50..100% more Health when healed and takes 5..50% less damage."
  • Signet of Rage Signet of Rage: increased non conditional damage to 5..50; decreased conditional damage to 5..10.

Touch-range healing spells aren't something very desirable to Monks in any format. We've changed Healing Burst to be a cheap, effective heal that also has a secondary area heal tied to it. Empathic Removal now has an unattributed heal associated to it, making it especially attractive to Monk secondaries in arena formats. Aura of Faith has been drastically reworked: it's now a Protection spell that has a much greater effect for a much shorter time, making it an elite version of the popular Protective Spirit. Signet of Rage now has more of its damage in the non-conditional portion, making it more useful in a wider variety of situations without being overpowered against foes with numerous adrenal skills.

Warrior

  • Warrior's Endurance Warrior's Endurance: this skill is no longer a stance.
  • Battle Rage Battle Rage: functionality changed to: "(15 seconds.) You move 33% faster and gain double adrenaline from your attacks. Ends if you use any non-adrenal skills. "
  • Defy Pain Defy Pain: decreased adrenaline cost to 5 strikes. Functionality changed to: "(20 seconds.) You have +90..300 maximum Health, +20 armor, and take -1..10 damage."
  • Quivering Blade Quivering Blade: increased adrenaline cost to 5 strikes. Functionality changed to: "Deals +10..40 damage. Inflicts Dazed condition (5 seconds) if target foe was moving."

Warrior's Endurance was not useful as a stance because it did not boost movement or attack speed. Changing it to a skill allows Warriors to couple it with stances to cover these needs. Battle Rage no longer throws away all the adrenaline gained while using it, a drawback that previously invalidated the skill. Defy Pain now also slightly reduces damage taken—which we believe will be attractive to certain PvE warriors. Quivering Blade now applies Daze to a moving opponent (instead of to yourself) giving sword-using Warriors a low-cost damage boost and a unique way to inflict Daze.

Ritualist

  • Reclaim Essence Reclaim Essence: functionality changed to: "All your Spirits die. If a Spirit dies in this way, you gain 5..20 Energy and all of your Binding Rituals are recharged."
  • Consume Soul Consume Soul: increased casting time to 1 second; increased recharge time to 5 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Steal 5..60 Health. If target foe was a summoned creature, you steal all of that foe's life."
  • Xinrae's Weapon Xinrae's Weapon: this skill is now in the Restoration Magic attribute line; decreased Energy cost to 5; decreased recharge time to 3 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(8 seconds.) The next time target ally takes damage from a foe, that damage is limited to 5% of target ally's max Health and that ally steals up to 20..80 Health from that foe."
  • Defiant Was Xinrae Defiant Was Xinrae: this skill is now in the Restoration Magic attribute line; decreased Energy cost to 5; increased casting time to 1 second; increased recharge time to 20 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(15..60 seconds.) You cannot lose more than 20% of your max Health from a single hit. Drop effect: steal 30..90 Health from nearby foes."

Reclaim Essence now functions as a way to recycle Spirits. Destroying Spirits will return some of the Energy investment and recharge them, allowing more dynamic Spirit placement options. Consume Soul now can steal life from any enemy—making it a more broadly useful skill—and still counter hostile summoned creatures. With Xinrae's Weapon, the aim is to give Restoration Ritualists an alternative to Weapon of Remedy: the reworked Xinrae's Weapon is an elite that functions much like a one-use Protective Spirit that also steals life. Lastly, Defiant was Xinrae now protects the user from single big hits and also can steal life when dropped, making it a self-support option for split tactics and arena settings.

Ranger

  • Expert's Dexterity Expert's Dexterity: this skill is now a stance; decreased activation time to 0; increased recharge time to 20 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(5..20 seconds.) You attack 33% faster and you gain +2 to your Marksmanship attribute."
  • Scavenger's Focus Scavenger's Focus: this skill is no longer a preparation; decreased Energy cost to 5; decreased activation time to 0; increased recharge time to 20 seconds. Functionality changed to: "(10 seconds.) You gain 3..12 Energy if you strike a foe who has condition."
  • Scavenger Strike Scavenger Strike: decreased Energy cost to 5; increased recharge time to 10 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Deals 10..25 damage. You gain 3..15 Energy if target foe is suffering from a condition."
  • Incendiary Arrows Incendiary Arrows: changed skill to an attack skill; removed activation time; decreased recharge time to 3 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Hits 2 foes near your target and inflicts Burning (1..3 seconds)."
  • Melandru's Shot Melandru's Shot: decreased Energy cost to 5; decreased activation time to 1 second; increased recharge time to 10 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Deals +10..25 damage. Inflicts Bleeding (5..25 seconds) and Crippled (3..15 seconds) if target foe was moving or knocked down."

Expert's Dexterity and Scavenger's Focus could not compete with other preparations, especially considering that they were elites. We've changed these both to stances: Expert's Dexterity now has an attribute and attack speed bonus that can be used with preparations; Scavenger's Focus returns Energy when hitting foes with a condition. Scavenger's Strike offers similar Energy management, but is an attack skill as opposed to a stance. We also changed Incendiary Arrows from a preparation to a multi-shot bow attack that sets foes on fire. Melandru's Shot is now like an elite Hunter's Shot, inflicting Bleeding and Cripple on moving or knocked-down foes.

Dervish

  • Onslaught Onslaught: increased Energy cost to 10. Functionality changed to: "(5..20 seconds.) You attack and move 25% faster."
  • Zealous Vow Zealous Vow: increased Energy gained per hit to 1..7; decreased to -3 Energy degeneration.
  • Vow of Strength Vow of Strength: functionality changed to: (20 seconds.) Adds +5..35% damage to your attacks against foes not suffering from any conditions.

Onslaught has been reworked into a combined attack and movement speed boost rolled into one, freeing skill bar slots and choice of secondary profession. Zealous Vow had an Energy gain that was poor even in optimal situations, so we've increased this skill's Energy gain qualities and decreased the downside. This aims to let Dervishes use expensive skills more regularly when taking this elite, as long as they stay aggressive. Vow of Strength now allows powerful attacks as long as conditions are not present, making it interesting to build around.

Paragon

  • "The Power Is Yours!" "The Power Is Yours!": decreased recharge time to 0; decreased Energy cost to 0; increased adrenaline cost to 4 strikes. Functionality changed to: "(3 seconds.) Allies within earshot gain 0..1 Energy regeneration."
  • "It's just a flesh wound." "It's just a flesh wound.": functionality changed to: "Remove all conditions from target other ally. This skill fails if you have a Deep Wound. Cannot self-target."
  • Soldier's Fury Soldier's Fury: functionality changed to: "(10..35 seconds.) You attack 33% faster and gain 33% more adrenaline if under the effects of a shout or chant."

"The Power is Yours!" was simply weak and complicated. We've overhauled this skill to be simpler and work off adrenaline, converting the Paragon's adrenaline into Energy for allies. "It's just a flesh wound" now functions as a more widely applicable removal elite for Paragons as long as the user doesn't have a Deep Wound. Soldier's Fury has an easy-to-meet condition that functions as an adrenaline battery, allowing a Paragon to fuel other adrenal skills more easily.

PvP Changes

Monk

In PvP, Spirit Bond was too readily-available when coupled with enough Energy management. We've slightly raised the recharge to limit how often it is in effect.

Ritualist

Weapon of Warding, at high attributes, was often easy to simultaneously maintain on two people. This is frustrating because of the more passive and irremovable nature of the spell. We've raised the recharge so that a target needs to be chosen carefully, and so that target switching is a more viable strategy against it.

Guild Battle Changes

  • There is no longer any Victory or Death effect.
  • There is no longer any Victory is Ours effect.
  • The Guild Battle NPCs no longer walk to the flag stand.
  • The Guild Lord's Health has been reduced to 1680.
  • Removed all skills on the Bodyguard except Oath of Healing.
  • Removed Precision Shot from the Archers.
  • Whenever a team gets a morale boost that teams Guild Lord gets an additional +300 maximum Health for the rest of the game
  • The final 28 min tie breaker is changed to: "team who did the most damage to the Enemy Guild Lord wins."
  • Amulet of Protection: reduced the amount of damage the Guild Lord can take to 25 per second at the beginning of a match, scaling up to 300 damage per second later in the match.

Victory or Death has turned Guild Battles into a race to see who can destroy enemy NPCs at the flag stand during VoD the fastest. This has, in turn, caused teams to build only for this situation, slowing the rest of the game to a near standstill. In an effort to alleviate this, we've redesigned Victory or Death completely. We've removed the need to kill NPCs to secure a flag stand advantage at VoD—now, the Guild Lord walks alone, making him extremely vulnerable if unattended. Morale boosts give the Guild Lord +300 maximum Health, giving him a definite advantage during VoD, but the tie-breaker comes down to who has inflicted the most damage to the Guild Lord, encouraging split teams to attack him before VoD. The removal of the Bodyguard's offensive abilities and the lack of Precision Shot on the archers help make the Guild Lord more vulnerable pre-VoD, and allow one or two enemies to pressure the Guild Lord, securing them an advantage if the game stalemates into a 28-minute tiebreaker.

The aim of this rework is to promote more offensive play and cause both the flag and base to matter before VoD. Teams can't wait for the damage bonus effects of VoD to supplement a lack of offensive punch now, which should lower the amount of defensive skills a team can bring, while killing grouped-up NPCs no longer is relevant to victory. These changes have had internal testing, but we believe only a "live-fire" setting can truly reveal if these changes improve VoD without introducing bigger problems.

PvE Changes

The majority of these changes are intended to adjust the power curve of PvE-only skills. This should make title rank have less impact on the effectiveness of these skills. A few of these skills were changed because they were simply underpowered.

Monk

  • Unyielding Aura Unyielding Aura: decreased casting time to .25 seconds; decreased recharge time 10 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Your Monk spells heal for +15..60% End effect: a random ally is resurrected and teleported to your location."

Unyielding Aura has been completely reworked for PvE. This effect would not be safe to introduce to PvP but should prove an interesting option in cooperative play.

Luxon/Kurzick

Sunspear

We wanted to make Never Rampage Alone a little bit easier for Rangers to maintain without forcing them to bring Energy management so we have decreased the cost to 15 energy.

Lightbringer

  • Lightbringer Signet Lightbringer Signet: this is no longer elite. Functionality changed to: "You gain 3..5 strikes of adrenaline and 16..24 Energy if you are within the area of a demonic servant of Abaddon."

Lightbringer's Signet just wasn't good enough for people to be willing to give up their elite slot for it so, to make it more usable, we removed its elite status and adjusted the numbers a bit.

Asura

  • Air of Superiority Air of Superiority: increased duration to 20..30 seconds.
  • Asuran Scan Asuran Scan: increased duration to 9..12 seconds; increased damage bonus to 45..75%; decreased casting time to 0.
  • Mental Block Mental Block: increased duration to 5..11 seconds.
  • Mindbender Mindbender: increased duration to 10..16 seconds.
  • Pain Inverter Pain Inverter: increased damage bonus to 100..140%.
  • Radiation Field Radiation Field: increased duration to 4..6 seconds; increased Disease duration to 12..20 seconds.
  • Smooth Criminal Smooth Criminal: increased duration to 14..20 seconds; increased Energy gained to 7..10.
  • Summon Ice Imp Summon Ice Imp: increased level to 14..20; increased duration to 40..60 seconds.
  • Summon Mursaat Summon Mursaat: increased level to 14..20; increased duration to 40..60 seconds.
  • Summon Naga Shaman Summon Naga Shaman: increased level to 14..20; increased duration to 40..60 seconds.
  • Summon Ruby Djinn Summon Ruby Djinn: increased level to 14..20; increased duration to 40..60 seconds.
  • Technobabble Technobabble: decreased Energy cost to 10; decreased recharge to 10; decreased Dazed duration to 3..5 seconds.

It's difficult for melee classes to stop fighting to activate a 2 second cast time skill, so we simply gave Asuran Scan an instant casting time, making it friendlier for its intended classes.

Dwarf

  • "By Ural's Hammer!" "By Ural's Hammer!": functionality changed to: "(7..10 seconds.) You have +2 Health regeneration and do +25% damage. Lasts 7..10 more seconds for each ally in earshot under 50% Health."
  • "Don't Trip!" "Don't Trip!": decreased Energy cost to 5.
  • Alkar's Alchemical Acid Alkar's Alchemical Acid: increased damage to 40..50; increased conditional damage to 45..70; increased conditional duration to 14..20 seconds.
  • Black Powder Mine Black Powder Mine: increased damage to 20..30; increased Blind and Bleeding duration to 7..10 seconds.
  • Brawling Headbutt Brawling Headbutt: increased damage to 45..70.
  • Breath of the Great Dwarf Breath of the Great Dwarf: increased Health gained to 50..60.
  • Drunken Master Drunken Master: increased duration to 72..90.
  • Dwarven Stability Dwarven Stability: increased duration to 24..30; increased Health gained to 55..100.
  • Ear Bite Ear Bite: functionality changed to: "Deals 50..70 piercing damage and inflicts Bleeding condition (10..25 seconds)."
  • Great Dwarf Armor Great Dwarf Armor: increased duration to 22..40.
  • Great Dwarf Weapon Great Dwarf Weapon: increased damage to 15..20; increased knockdown chance to 28..40%.
  • Light of Deldrimor Light of Deldrimor: increased damage to 55..80.
  • Low Blow Low Blow: increased damage to 45..70.
  • Snow Storm Snow Storm: decreased Energy cost to 10; increased damage to 30..40.

"By Ural's Hammer!" was too conditional so we added a non-conditional benefit to make it more generally useful.

Ebon Vanguard

  • Deft Strike Deft Strike: increased damage to 18..30; increased Bleeding duration to 18..30 seconds.
  • Ebon Battle Standard of Courage Ebon Battle Standard of Courage: increased duration to 14..20 seconds.
  • Ebon Battle Standard of Honor Ebon Battle Standard of Honor: increased duration to 14..20 seconds; increased damage to 8..15; increased damage against Charr to 7..10.
  • Ebon Battle Standard of Wisdom Ebon Battle Standard of Wisdom: increased duration to 14..20 seconds; increased recharge reduction to 44..60%.
  • Ebon Escape Ebon Escape: increased Health healed to 70..110.
  • Ebon Vanguard Assassin Support Ebon Vanguard Assassin Support: increased level to 14..20; increased conditional duration to 24..30 increased non condition duration to 12..15.
  • Ebon Vanguard Sniper Support Ebon Vanguard Sniper Support: functionality changed to: "Deals 54..90 piercing damage and inflicts Bleeding condition (25 seconds). 10% chance of +540..900 piercing damage. 25% chance of +540..900 piercing damage if target foe is a Charr."
  • Signet of Infection Signet of Infection: increased Disease duration to 13..20.
  • Sneak Attack Sneak Attack: increased Blind duration to 5..8.
  • Tryptophan Signet Tryptophan Signet: increased duration to 14..20; increased movement speed reduction to 23..40%.
  • Weakness Trap Weakness Trap: increased Weakness duration to 10..20 seconds; increased lightning damage to 24..50.
  • Winds Winds: increased Spirit level to 4..10; increased duration to 54..90 seconds.

Ebon Vanguard Sniper Support wasn't quite as cool as its assassin counterpart, so we wanted to add a bit of flavor to it. The extreme amount of random bonus damage is meant to simulate a sniper getting a successful head shot.

Norn

  • "Dodge This!" "Dodge This!": increased duration to 16..20 seconds; increased damage to 14..20.
  • "Finish Him!" "Finish Him!": increased damage to 44..80; increased duration to 12..20.
  • "I Am The Strongest!" "I Am The Strongest!": increased number of attacks to 5..8; increased damage to 14..20.
  • "I Am Unstoppable!" "I Am Unstoppable!": increased duration to 16..20 seconds.
  • "You Are All Weaklings!" "You Are All Weaklings!": increased Weakness duration to 8..12 seconds; decreased Energy cost to 5.
  • "You Move Like a Dwarf!" "You Move Like a Dwarf!": increased damage to 44..80; increased duration to 8..15 seconds.
  • A Touch of Guile A Touch of Guile: increased damage to 44..80; increased duration to 5..8 seconds.
  • Club of a Thousand Bears Club of a Thousand Bears: increased damage to 6..9.
  • Feel No Pain Feel No Pain: increased duration to 30 seconds; decreased Health regeneration to 1..3; increased recharge time to 20 seconds.
  • Ursan Blessing Ursan Blessing: functionality changed to: "You lose all effects and take on the aspect of the bear (60 seconds). All your attributes are set to 0 and bear attacks replace your skills, and you have 100 armor and 750..800 Health."
  • Raven Blessing Raven Blessing: functionality changed to: "You lose all effects and take on the aspect of the raven (60 seconds). All your attributes are set to 0 and raven attacks replace your skills, and you have 80 armor, 660..700 Health, and a 20..30% block chance."
  • Raven Talons Raven Talons: functionality changed to: "Deals 20..35 piercing damage. Inflicts Bleeding and Cripple conditions (4..10 seconds)."
  • Volfen Blessing Volfen Blessing: functionality changed to: "You lose all effects and take on the aspect of the wolf (60 seconds). All your attributes are set to 0 and wolf attacks replace your skills, and you have 80 armor, 660..700 Health, and +2..4% Health regeneration."
  • Volfen Bloodlust Volfen Bloodlust: this skill now affects all nearby allies.
  • Volfen Pounce Volfen Pounce: this skill is now a stance.
  • Ursan Strike Ursan Strike: functionality changed to: “Deals 40..75 damage and 40..75 slashing damage.”.

The goal behind the Norn Blessing changes is to simultaneously eliminate the class imbalances which existed in the previous incarnations and to balance out the power of the three Blessings. To remove the class imbalance, the Norn Blessings will now set a user's Health to 600, armor to 80 and all attributes to 0. The Energy element has been removed from these skills entirely so that classes with a higher Energy pool will not be at an advantage. We also made the skills strip off any non-consumable buffs when they are activated.

To address a big part of the power of the Blessings we decided to make it so that players can only have one active half of the time. This inability to keep a Blessing up permanently will make profession and skill choices matter while the Blessing is recharging. Players will have to play more tactically when using a Blessing as their Health and armor will drop when the Blessing wears off.

In addition to these changes we have adjusted some of the Ursan, Raven and Volfen skills to better balance the Blessings against each other. We have reduced the damage Ursan Strike does by making one of the hits cause slashing damage so that the armor of a foe is taken into account when damage is calculated on that hit. We've added damage to Raven Talons to increase its power. Volfen Pounce has been made a stance so players will not have to stop moving to activate it. Lastly, we increased the radius of Volfen Bloodlust to affect nearby allies.


[Dev Update] Tournament Reward Tweaks - 23 July 2008

To reduce the number of guilds who join tournaments and don’t play, we have changed Tournament Reward Point distribution for Daily Automated Tournaments. We introduced Reward Points for playing through the whole tournament to encourage more guilds to play through the entire tournament, but many guilds have abused the system by joining tournaments and not playing at all. Instead of banning anyone involved, we have added a restriction on gaining reward points from Daily Automated Tournaments: A guild must be at least rank 1000 to receive Reward Points. This does not stop a guild from joining a tournament. We will be evaluating this update and make changes if necessary.


[Dev Update] Balance Changes - 10 July 2008

PvE and PvP

This week's balance update primarily focuses on addressing problems within the state of PvP. The main problem areas we're seeking to resolve are melee teleport spikes, the dominance of Signet of Judgment, and the power of Dervish spike. We have not changed elite skills commonly featured on Dervishes in competitive play (such as Avatar of Melandru and Wounding Strike), but we have altered some skills that make these builds so deadly. While Shadow Form is unchanged in this update, we are exploring solutions. The goal is to slow down builds that keep Shadow Form up permanently, while not invalidating it for other uses.

Although we are not making major PvE-related balance changes this time, we are working on a larger PvE-focused update. We are currently testing changes to Ursan Blessing and PvE-only skills. One of the goals is to balance Ursan such that players can still use it as long as they do so in a tactical way. Another goal is to alter the grind currently associated with many PvE-only skills. Additionally, we are adjusting a number of underpowered and rarely used elite skills. Depending on how testing goes, some or all of these changes may be released as soon as next month.

Assassin

In PvP, teleporting melee characters have become extremely commonplace, due to their unpredictable nature and the speed with which they can focus on a single target. We've added a .75 second aftercast to teleports to give targets (and their Monks) a chance to react to the incoming damage. Shadow Walk got a different treatment because it is a stance. Since stances have no casting time (and therefore no aftercast), we made it disable attack skills for one second so that it is not strictly superior to other teleports. We recognize this is harsher on Warriors using the skill (because they lose all built up adrenaline when their skills are disabled). However, when we made this change, we accounted for the fact that Warriors typically use stances to increase attack-speed or movement-speed. The disabling effect makes Shadow Walk less desirable than other teleports for Warriors in most situations. Because teleportation and movement do not play the same role in PvE as in PvP, we did not create separate PvP versions of these skills.

Dervish

Signet of Mystic Speed costs no energy, has no cast time and can be maintained permanently. By increasing the recharge, it now requires a high investment into Wind Prayers to achieve this same effect.

Mesmer

  • Mantra of Inscriptions Mantra of Inscriptions: now affects only those signets that you successfully activate. Interrupted and disabled signets no longer benefit from this skill.

Previously, Mantra of Inscriptions would recharge signets faster under any circumstances -- including ones that were disabled from enemy disruption. This change doesn't affect the basic function of the skill, but opens up signets to counters by interruption and disabling effects.

PvP Changes

These changes will only affect skills when in PvP. PvE will be unaffected.

Dervish

Chilling Victory is a hard-hitting skill that contributes a lot to a Dervish spike. By moving it to Wind Prayers, we lower the damage on most builds since attributes are traditionally higher in Scythe Mastery than Wind Prayers.

Monk

Signet of Judgment was the only unconditional ranged knockdown without a very long cast time or Exhaustion or both. Even as an elite skill, this proved too powerful, especially when featured in skill bars that maximize signet efficiency. We've lowered the damage and range on this skill to bring it in line with other ranged knockdown skills.

Necro

  • Enfeebling Blood Enfeebling Blood: increased health sacrifice to 17%; decreased duration to 1...13...16.

Enfeebling Blood has been far too effective at spreading Weakness everywhere, especially at low Curses attribute. We've adjusted the duration scaling and increased the health sacrifice to add cost and enforce some more attribute investment.

Misc

  • Chants and shouts no longer affect allied Guild Battle NPCs.

Specific shouts and chants (particularly Anthem of Weariness) were overly effective at eliminating the damage NPCs do at Victory or Death. Using the same philosophy as we have on wards and Spirits, we've changed shouts and chants to no longer affect Guild Battle NPCs, which should cut down on some ability to nullify NPCs at VoD.


[Dev Update] Shadow Form Balance Changes - 2 July 2008

The primary goal of this update is to address the high efficiency of Shadow Form farming builds. It had long been possible to maintain Shadow Form permanently, but when the duration of this skill was increased, many new and more powerful build options became viable. We are not opposed to players using Shadow Form for farming, but it is not good for the game economy for high-end farming activities to become too easy or too efficient. The new set of builds enabled by Shadow Form did exactly that.

This update is intended to bring builds based around Shadow Form more in line with other farming builds. In order to accomplish this, we’ve not only altered Shadow Form itself but also made some changes to creatures within the Chaos Planes. At this time, we have not made it more difficult to maintain Shadow Form permanently, because this would be more likely to remove Shadow Form farming as an option for many players. We will, however, continue to monitor the effects of these changes moving forward and will make further changes if necessary.

PvE

Assassin

  • Shadow Form Shadow Form: now reduces the damage dealt by the caster by 50% while active.

This is intended to slow down killing while under the effects of Shadow Form. We recognize that this does not affect killing by Health degeneration. That is primarily being addressed through the creature changes listed below.

Underworld

The use of Hex Breaker by Mindblade Specters should require more skillful play by characters who are using Shadow Form in conjunction with hexes. Because Shadow Form does not protect against Signet of Disenchantment, these characters will also want to avoid confrontations with Mindflay Spectres. The net effect of these changes should be to decrease the overall killing speed for Shadow Form characters in the Underworld.