Developer Update — March 2011 Skill Balances
In this update, we'd like to address some PvP issues that came up as a result of our latest Dervish update. After the last MAT, we decided to tone down several problematic skills. Additionally, we are taking this opportunity to address the power of Blood Magic necromancers and some builds that have gotten a little out of line, as well as making a few small buffs to improve some skills that are difficult to use.
 Dervish Skills
We recognized during testing that the Dervish would be able to maintain increased attack speed stances in conjunction with increased movement speed enchantments. While this was problematic in the past with skills like Primal Rage, we felt that the lower damage of scythes and their unique skill combinations would keep their power in check. However, more observation showed that keeping both skills up at the same time was still a little easier than we liked it to be for such a strong effect, so we adjusted the durations of several skills accordingly.
- Enchanted Haste: decreased duration to 7 seconds.
- Fleeting Stability: decreased duration to 2...5...6 seconds.
- Harrier's Haste: decreased duration to 2...7...8 seconds.
- Heart of Fury: decreased duration to 2...8...10 seconds.
Because these speed boosts are enchantments with low recharges, it's okay to reduce their durations to account for the presence of 20% longer enchantment mods on weapons.
- Avatar of Grenth: decreased life stealing to 0...10...12 Health; decreased inflicted Disease duration to 3 seconds.
- Mystic Corruption: decreased unconditional Disease duration to 1...2...2 seconds.
Avatar of Grenth has been seeing more use than any other Avatar. It's popularity is due to the power of the bonus life steal combined with the powerful Disease condition. We slightly reduced the effectiveness of both of these aspects, as well as the related skill Mystic Corruption. We are concerned that this combination might still be too powerful, however, and will continue to watch its effects on the meta.
- Ebon Dust Aura: increased duration to 30 seconds; decreased bonus damage to 3...13...15; increased recharge to 20 seconds.
Ebon Dust Aura has seen a lot of use with sword-wielding Dervishes since the update. While the character is refreshing and original, we noticed that it's too easy for this character to continually blind many foes and that stripping enchantments to combat him feels trivial. Accordingly, we increased the duration and recharge on this skill to reduce the total time that he can keep foes blinded and to make strips more meaningful. We also took the damage down a bit, since the skill was adding too much damage for the utility it was providing.
- Aura of Thorns: decreased Cripple duration to 3...7...8 seconds.
- Crippling Sweep: decreased bonus damage to 3...13...15.
Since becoming a flash enchantment, Aura of Thorns has been too good at keeping foes crippled nearly 100% of the time. We slightly reduced the cripple duration to create a larger window in which to escape. Crippling Sweep was dealing too much bonus damage for a non-teardown skill and was generating too much damage over time, so we lowered the bonus damage to be in line with other skills.
We also fixed the following bugs:
- Ebon Dust Aura: fixed a bug that caused Ebon Dust Aura to add bonus damage for ranged attacks.
- Rending Aura: fixed a bug that caused damage from Rending Aura to ignore armor.
 Blood Necromancers
Since we buffed them about a year ago, Blood Necromancers have established a strong presence in the GvG meta. Players adapted and refined their builds, and we continued to make adjustments in response. With the recent update, we revisited this character and how it functions in relation to the pressure output that Dervishes provide. We discovered that he had become a dominating presence in GvG, to the point where he was easily able to slot a strong cross-class elite with enough attribute points left to make it fairly effective. We like the fact that Necromancers continue to see play in GvG, but this character and the Dervish have allowed pressure to get beyond manageable levels for most teams. We therefore have decided to make the following adjustments:
- Barbed Signet: decreased Sacrifice to 8%; changed functionality to: "You inflict Bleeding for 3...13...15 seconds on target foe and all adjacent foes."
- Barbed Signet (PvP): merged with PvE version; this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.
- Signet of Suffering: changed attribute to Blood Magic; removed casting time; decreased recharge to 4 seconds; changed functionality to: "You suffer from Bleeding for 6 seconds. The next Necromancer skill that targets a foe causes Bleeding for 2...13...16 seconds."
Barbed Signet is the keystone skill in this build; it empowered all the other skills in the build while allowing the Necromancer a free elite. We moved the functionality of this skill onto the rarely used Signet of Suffering, which removes the free elite slot from the character. The build was already strong without an elite, so this doesn't take the character out of play as much as limit the number of overpowering combinations that can be run. As a result of this change, we also changed Barbed Signet to be a simple AoE Bleed skill.
- Angorodon's Gaze: decreased Energy gain to 3...10...12.
- Masochism (PvP): decreased Energy gain to 1...3...3.
These two skills provide strong energy management to Blood Necromancers in PvP, but this character's ability to spam skills was too high with too little investment. By reducing the energy gains of these skills, players will need more dedicated attribute investments to power the character.
- Oppressive Gaze: decreased Poison and Weakness durations to 3...10...12 seconds.
Finally, the duration of conditions that Necromancers can inflict with this skill was reduced for greater manageability.
 Other Issues
We are also addressing a few other issues:
- Invoke Lightning: decreased damage to 10...74...90; decreased recharge to 6 seconds.
Spike teams with Invoke Lightning were a little bit too strong, so we toned down the damage on this skill. We also reduced the recharge to compensate for the lowered damage.
- Air / Water / Fire / Earth / Elemental Attunement: decreased casting time to 1 second; decreased recharge to 30 seconds.
- Aura of Restoration: increased recharge to 20 seconds.
With the prevalence of enchantment strips in GvG and certain areas of PvE, Elementalists were often discouraged when their attunements were taken down for long periods of time. To take the edge off, we reduced the recharge and improved the casting time on these skills. Aura of Restoration had its recharge increased a bit; otherwise it would have been too powerful of a cover enchantment for these skills.
- Consume Soul: changed functionality to: "Elite Spell. You steal 5...49...60 Health from target foe. All hostile summoned creatures in the area of that foe take 25...105...125 damage."
Consume Soul proved to be too powerful at destroying enemy spirits. We reworked the functionality so that it still works great for taking down spirits, but it cannot be used effectively without investment in Spawning Power.
The costs of Shatter skills made them difficult to fit into current Mesmer bars. With the addition of flash enchantments and the prevalence of Hexes in the current meta, it seemed appropriate to give Mesmers this small buff.
- Fevered Dreams: split for PvP.
- Fevered Dreams (PvP): decreased duration to 5...13...15 seconds; increased recharge to 20 seconds.
Fevered Dreams is a skill which always had the potential to be very strong, but which lacked the condition-applying skills to support it. The addition of Dervish flash enchantments and the improvements to Avatar skills—particularly when combined with older adjustments focused on Necromancers applying conditions—have made Fevered Dreams a driving force in many meta builds. We like the synergy that this skill provides, but its ability to continually Daze large groups of foes was too strong. We reduced its recharge and duration so that it can only be maintained on one foe. Because of the high death rate of foes in PvE, we split the skill to keep it viable there.
 Future Updates
These are all the changes we feel comfortable making at this time. We realize that there are other skills and builds that we did not address with this update, but we think that the meta is still settling into the Dervish changes. We made changes to only the skills that were causing the most problems. As players continue to experiment with these new skills, we'll make further adjustments as the situation warrants.