ArenaNet:Developer updates/20080618

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[Dev Update] Skill Balance Changes - 18 June 2008

The primary goals of the balance updates made on June 12 were to round out PvE-targeted changes we made in the last update, to improve a few underpowered skills, and to address PvP play balance issues.

Some players have objected to changes in the last update to Ether Renewal and Shadow Form. We have not seen any actual negative impact from the Ether Renewal change, but we are still evaluating the high efficiency of Shadow Form farming builds. We will continue to monitor this issue and may make adjustments in the near future. Similarly, we know that the powerful Ursan Blessing is always the subject of much discussion. Some players feel it makes the game too easy while others think it is fun. We have not chosen to make any changes to Ursan Blessing at this time, but we will consider the matter as we move forward. Finally, we know there are continuing concerns about Wounding Strike from some PvP players, but we do not believe that changes to this skill are warranted at this time. We have, in this update, altered several other skills that are commonly used in conjunction with Wounding Strike in GvG. We will observe the consequences of these changes before revisiting the Wounding Strike issue.

PvE and PvP

Most of these changes improve existing skills. A few are power reductions that are not expected to be detrimental to PvE play. Three skills (Soul Bind, Rust, and Lightning Touch) are having their core function changed to make them more useful outside of niche circumstances. The following skills will change in both PvE and PvP:

Mesmer

The goal in changing Drain Enchantment and Drain Delusions was to provide better Energy management options for Mesmers without giving defensive characters a significant boost in Energy management options. Wastrel’s Worry is interesting in that it provides psychological pressure while also giving recastable, non-spike damage to Mesmers. The numbers before made it a bit weak, so we've increased its power to make it more attractive.

Necromancer

  • Fetid Ground Fetid Ground: decreased Energy cost to 5.
  • Suffering Suffering: increased Health degeneration to -1..3.
  • Vile Miasma Vile Miasma: increased Health degeneration to -1..5.
  • Soul Bind Soul Bind: decreased casting time to 1 second; functionality changed to: "For 30 seconds, every time target foe is healed, the healer takes 20..80 damage. This hex ends if target is suffering from a Smiting Prayers hex."

In recent months, we've seen a trend toward GvG teams with more consistent offensive power. Unfortunately, teams that rely on physical damage seem to be outshining others. To allow for more diversity, we've improved Suffering and Vile Miasma to increase the damage output of hexes. We've also tried to improve Fetid Ground as an option for dealing damage and spreading Poison. Because Health degeneration can be countered with strong party-wide healing, we've altered Soul Bind so that it can be used to reduce the efficiency of party-wide healing.

Elementalist

  • Rust Rust: increased Energy cost to 10; decreased casting time to 1 second; functionality changed to: "Deals 10..70 cold damage. For 5..20 seconds, target foe and all adjacent foes take twice as long to activate signets."
  • Lightning Touch Lightning Touch: functionality changed to: "Target touched foe and all adjacent foes are struck for 10..60 lightning damage. Foes suffering from a Water Magic hex are Blinded for 3..8 seconds. This skill has 25% armor penetration."
  • Arc Lightning Arc Lightning: increased conditional damage to 15..75.

The prevalence of signet Mesmers in PvP caused us to review signet counters. We looked for opportunities to improve these skills without creating absolute counters that would completely eliminate the viability of signet Mesmers. With that in mind, Rust now does damage (making it generally more useful) but its effect on signet activation times is also reduced. Lightning Touch and Arc Lightning were improved to be more viable options for Elementalists using more than one attribute line.

Monk

Strength of Honor and Holy Wrath have seen more and more competitive play. With no recharge time, they were too easy to recast after removal, effectively eliminating the enchantment removal as a way to combat these skills. Adding some recharge time should address this issue. Aura of Stability and Balthazar’s Pendulum were too effective at stopping knockdowns; we reduced their durations to encourage more active use.

Warrior

Recently, there has been a strong trend against sword use in GvG. Swords have always been a unique weapon in Guild Wars because they can do lethal damage without an elite skill. By improving Warrior elites with unique abilities (area-of-effect speed boost, and speed boost with knockdown, respectively), we hope to make swords a more viable choice again. Symbolic Strike has been improved to give players more options for dealing sword damage and to encourage synergy with Warrior signets.

Ranger

  • Antidote Signet Antidote Signet: functionality changed to: "Cleanse yourself of Poison, Disease, Blindness, and one additional condition."
  • Barbed Arrows Barbed Arrows: increased duration to 24 seconds; removed easily interruptible; you now have -40 armor while activating this skill.

Antidote Signet's specific condition removal has traditionally limited its appeal. To improve its versatility and overall effectiveness, we've added the ability to remove an additional condition of any type. This should also ease the pressure to take Monk as a secondary profession just for Mending Touch. Bleeding has always been intended as a secondary condition for Rangers, not as easy to spread as Poison and Crippling. The drawbacks on Barbed Arrows were far too severe for the skill to receive serious consideration, so it is now easier to use.

Paragon

Bleeding is typically a condition with a longer duration, but the Bleeding inflicted by Barbed Spear was too short to easily spread it around. We've remedied this by increasing the Bleeding duration. "Can't Touch This!" is a very specific counter which did not warrant its higher Energy cost. We've reduced that cost to compensate.

PvE Changes

The improvements here are appropriate for PvE but would not benefit PvP play balance. The following skills will change in PvE:

Mesmer

  • Energy Drain Energy Drain: increased multiplier for Energy gained to 3.

Energy denial is not typically a good strategy in PvE, so our recent changes to Energy Drain have been aimed at providing better Energy management for the caster. The previous change did not go far enough in this regard. This change should more clearly accomplish our goals.

Dervish

  • Mystic Regeneration Mystic Regeneration: decreased recharge to 5 seconds; increased the maximum number of enchantments counted to 8.

The past changes for Mystic Regeneration were based on PvP play balance needs. Because those changes were neither necessary nor beneficial for PvE, we are reverting this skill to its older, more powerful state.

PvP Changes

The significant power reductions here are important to address current PvP play balance but are not necessary for PvE. The following skills will change in PvP:

Mesmer

We've altered this skill to slow down damage, Signet of Humility usage, and knockdowns coming from signet Mesmers in GvG.

Warrior

  • "For Great Justice!" (PvP) "For Great Justice!" (PvP): functionality changed to: "For 20 seconds, when you hit with an attack, you gain 1 additional strike of adrenaline."

When used with other adrenaline-gaining skills, “For Great Justice!” provided enough adrenaline for excessively long knockdown chains. By adding a fixed amount of adrenaline, this skill should now add to a Warrior's efficiency without enabling degenerate combinations.

Ritualist

  • Ancestors' Rage (PvP) Ancestors' Rage (PvP): increased duration to 2 seconds; decreased damage to 5..50; functionality changed to: "For 2 seconds all foes adjacent to target ally are struck for 5..50 lightning damage each second."
  • Splinter Weapon (PvP) Splinter Weapon (PvP): decreased damage to 5..30.

For some time now, Ancestors' Rage and Splinter Weapons have been key skills for the Ritualist. These changes are intended to temper these skills without removing them from play. Dividing the damage from Ancestors' Rage into two hits should make it less effective at delivering a sudden spike of damage while still maintaining its role as an efficient source of overall damage. In GvG, Splinter Weapon has continued to enable teams to slaughter NPCs during Victory or Death. Reducing its damage should help mitigate this.