ArenaNet:Skill feedback/Assassin/The Problem with Assassins

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The Problem with Assassins, 18:33, 11 July 2008 (UTC)

OK, assassins get a lot of people saying they're broken, possibly more so than any other profession. The way I see it, though, is this:
Assassins are meant to be able to deal large amounts of damage in small amounts of time - i.e. the perfect spikers. To compensate for this, they (supposedly) typically have long recharges for these spikes.
Now in theory, that's OK - sure, the team may send in their sin and intantly kill one of your team, but then they have a player who's basically useless for a good while (and OK, you're is one worse - s/he's dead - but you can res them) giving you time to get your own back. Now this may or may not be the case, but that's more down to whether the upsides outweigh the downsides. What I really want to point out is what this leads to:
1) In small groups, assassins are very powerful because a quick kill has a much large effect - consider how many sins you *still* get in HB, for example.
2) In large groups, assassins are pretty useless because single-target spiking is nowhere near as powerful - I mean, how often do you see these guys in HA? It's one of the reasons Air Magic is so poor there. This is partly down to one kill being soaked up more easily (it's under 13% of your team rather 25%) and party due to the fact that in big teams you have more healers/protectors (almost always at least two) and so it's harder to make the spike actually work.
In addition to this, there's the problem of assassin skills (noticeably Shadow Steps) being overused by other classes (e.g. those old teledervs) which leads to them getitng nerfed which in turn hurts the pure sins more.
Assassins need to be altered in such a way that 1) they are actually more powerful in large-scale battles and 2) less powerful in such environments as Hero Battles, for example.
Now, I know some people will say "Yes, but assassins are intrinsically broken. Someone who can teleport in, gank a monk, then disappear again, is just not right for this game". Well, to a certain extent I agree with you. However, I think that provided it was cunningly engineered and balanced (e.g. with long recharges), that would be fine - in fact I can imagine situations in which an assassin hangs around doing little until an oppertunity opens to strike suddenly, and this could become a very skilled and tactical job (for example, you wait until the enemy monk uses Aura of Stability on a pressured foe, then jump to the other monk and unleash a deadly knock-lock chain).
On the other hand, they need to be tempered for small-scale battles, especially HB where the monk is often a hero - this is a problem because heroes are, well, somewhat lacking in the intelligence department. Improving hero AI for situations like this would also be great, but I appreciate that it might be easier said than done.

OK, now don't shoot me down for this since I don't claim to be an expert at skill balance (at least not where assassins are concerned) and the numbers and exact semantics may need to be... "tweaked"... but below are some examples of what I'm trying to say (changes are in orange):

BUFF Crippling Dagger Crippling Dagger. 5 Energy 1/2 Activation time 5 Recharge time.
Spell. Send out a fast-moving Crippling Dagger at target foe. Crippling Dagger strikes for 15...51...60 earth damage if it hits, and Cripples moving foes for 3...13...15 seconds. This spell has half the normal range.
BUFF Leaping Mantis Sting Leaping Mantis Sting. 5 Energy 8 Recharge time.
Lead Attack. If Mantis Sting hits, target foe takes +14...19...20 damage. If this attack strikes a moving foe, that foe is Crippled for 4...15...18 seconds.
Many assassin skills require Cripple as a condition for either a primary or secondary effect (Trampling Ox, Jungle Strike et.c.), but it's actually quite tricky to inflict (as an assassin). These skills both give only conditional crippling and Leaping Mantis Sting needs some skill to use. By buffing it, it encourages skilled play (waiting for a kite) rather than the hit 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, then 5, then your foe's dead builds. Crippling Dagger is a projectile and so it's much harder to use skillfully (even if you get it right, by the time it hits they may have stopped moving). Making it fast-moving and quicker to activate makes it more useful. To that end, I would also suggest:

BUFF Mantis Touch Mantis Touch.
moved to ArenaNet:Skill feedback/Assassin/Mantis Touch#The Problem with Assassins

BUFF Death Blossom Death Blossom. 5 Energy 2 Recharge time.
Dual Attack. Must follow an off-hand attack. If it hits, Death Blossom strikes target foe for +15...33...38 damage and all adjacent foes take 30...48...53 damage.
Buffing Death Blossom (or at least the AoE damage - the main +damage has been decreased to keep it's power level fairly similar to what it was) has two advantages - firstly, it favours large-scale battles. Secondly, it favours skill as an assassin can wait until a clump appears to get the most out of it.

BUFF Disrupting Stab Disrupting Stab. 5 Energy 6 Recharge time.
Lead Attack. If this attack hits, it interrupts target foe's action. If that action was a Skill, it is disabled for 3...9...10 seconds.
By improving assassin interrupts, the aim is to make them more versetile and give them some utility. Being able to disable all skills, not just spells, would make Disrupting Stab more useful as a linebacking skill or to disable other key skills for a short duration. A lower recharge means that it can be used outside of an attack chain, allowing the assassin to serve as an interrupter to a certain extent as well.

CHANGE Nine Tail Strike Nine Tail Strike.
moved to ArenaNet:Skill feedback/Assassin/Nine Tail Strike#The Problem with Assassins

CHANGE Flail Flail.
moved to ArenaNet:Skill feedback/Warrior/Flail

NERF Black Mantis Thrust Black Mantis Thrust. 5 Energy 12 Recharge time
Lead Attack. If this attack hits, you strike for +5...13...15 damage. If target foe is suffering from a Hex, that foe is Crippled for 3...13...15 seconds.
This skill is a great skill - just a little too great. It easily overshadows other assassin cripples (see above) as it only needs a hex to work. Normally this might be awkward since hexes can be removed and often quickly, but with hex shadow-steps (e.g. Shadow Prison, Dark Prison et c.), you can get a hex and then this in in quick succession. This makes it too easy to use Trampling Ox, especially with Jungle Strike's quick activation and then bonus damage to boot.
By giving this a longer recharge it makes it a little less attractive. It also means that if you manage to block this first attack, you're safer for a bit longer before the sin can use it again. A slight nerf to the damage also means that it's less powerful in it's own right too.

NERF Trampling Ox Trampling Ox. 5 Energy 10 Recharge time.
Dual Attack. Must follow an off-hand attack. If it hits, you deal +4...14...16 damage. If you hit a Crippled foe, that foe is knocked down.
As above, the whole Shadow Prison / Dark Prison -> Black Mantis Thrust -> Jungle Strike -> Trampling Ox combo is a touch too powerful. Given my suggested buffs to alternate crippling skills (see above), other Trampling Ox builds could now become viable (maybe Lead -> Mantis Touch -> Trampling Ox or whatever), which would indirectly make this skill even more powerful. Given it's faster recharge and much better damage than Horns of the Ox, I feel these changes would help bring it more in line, and possibly even make non-knockdown chains more favoured, without nerfing the build out of existence (it's already a bit overshadowed by the new Backbreaker build).

NERF Augury of Death Augury of Death.
moved to ArenaNet:Skill feedback/Assassin/Augury of Death#The Problem with Assassins

Shadow-Steps in general:
I personally think these aren't too bad as they are, but I would suggest longer recharges on them. This would mean that assassins can still get the deadly element of surprise from them, but not as often. It would also make it harder to use Dark Prison with such skills as Iron Palm and Black Mantis Thrust, which does somewhat seem to be "cheating" somewhat as Dark Prison is both a shadow-step and a hex spell, allowing you to gain the bonuses from having a hexed foe without the risk of your hex being removed.

Assassin Attack Skills in general:
Nerfs to these should be of the order of longer recharges rather than making them less powerful. I feel assassin skills are supposed to be powerful, but not useable often, particularly Dual Attacks (Lead Attacks which recharge quickly are OK because on they're own they can't do much and in fact they're probably better recharging quickly as it promotes versetility in assassins).

Assassin Hex Spells in general:
I would suggest buffing a number of assassin hex spells so that assassins can take a spike chain and a hex spell which could be used while their chain recharges, allowing them to support the team in between spikes. However, I would also suggest making many of them half-range, making them less attractive for caster assassin secondaries or "assascasters", and making them more like normal attack skills, promoting synergy there.

Dislaimer: Just a point here, I'm not a sin-lover OR a sin-hater. I do think they are quite cool but I also hate the way they are OP in Hero Battles and everyone plays them. I'm just trying to throw up some different ideas, so don't flame me. Also, I know assassins are a bit of a touchy subject, so can we try and keep it civil please. That said, discuss away.

The Problem

25e/90r it. Nuff sed, kthnxbai