Developer Update - November 2010 Skill Balances
- Party Healing and Flag Runners
- Assassins in Pressure Builds
- Key Pressure Hexes
- Other Pressure Skills
Party Healing and Flag Runners
Currently, flag running characters in GvG are almost exclusively limited to Monk/Elementalists. These characters use Heal Party and Healer's Boon in conjunction with Glyph of Lesser Energy to provide very high levels of party healing at long distances from the battle. While this combination has existed for a while, it has gained popularity in recent months due to buffs to certain key pressure skills. In addition to simply outputting too much party healing, we feel that the Monk flag runner adds too much defense to teams, both at the stand and on split. Besides addressing the power of the Monk flag runner, we are weakening the strong pressure skills to which it was being used in response and strengthening the power of the Ritualist flag runner, which has fallen out of favor. When compared to the Monk flag runner, the Ritualist flag runner requires more tactical play in terms of spirit placement and has more offensive play through Channeling and Weapon Spells. These changes should increase use of the Ritualist flag runner in GvG.
- Heal Party: split for PvP; retains original functionality.
- Heal Party (PvP): decreased casting time to 1 second; increased recharge to 20 seconds.
When compared to other party healing options (such a Protective was Kaoli), [sic] this skill had a disproportionately low recharge for its range. Healer's Boon and Glyph of Lesser Energy allowed Monk runners to easily overcome this skill's other weaknesses and let them provide huge amounts of party healing from afar. By increasing its recharge and lowering its casting time, we bring this skill in line with other radar range party healing options. Because Heal Party sees a lot of use in PvE and is a key component in some elite area builds, we felt it necessary to split this skill.
- Healing Burst: changed functionality to: "Target ally is healed for 5...130. All party members in earshot of your target gain Health equal to the Divine Favor bonus from this spell. Your Smiting Prayers are disabled for 20 seconds."
Healing Burst is a skill that we feel could be a good party healing option for backline monks, due to its position-based heal and relatively low recharge. We've increased the area of effectiveness on this skill and linked its party heal to Divine Favor, which makes it heal more on average than the previous version. Like Light of Deliverance, [sic] this skill disables Smiting Prayers to prevent it from being used on midline Smiting Monks.
- Recuperation (PvP): removed the 75% Health cap.
The Health cap on Recuperation (PvP) was put in place when pressure builds were weak when compared to spike. Now that pressure builds are stronger, we feel that it's safe to remove this cap. A slight buff to the power of this skill should also make Ritualist flag runners more viable.
- Signet of Binding: changed attribute to Spawning Power; increased casting time to 2 seconds; added the following functionality: "50% failure chance with Spawning Power 4 or less."
- Gaze of Fury (PvP): this skill now targets only allied spirits.
Signet of Binding acted as a hard counter to Ritualist party healing options and had little play to it when put on Rangers or Warriors who could easily push forward to activate it. By placing it in Spawning Power, it should be a riskier tactical option for the Ritualist runner instead of a skill which promotes constant back-and-forth ownership changes of a spirit. During testing, we found that Gaze of Fury was easy to slot in for Rangers at low spec and that it also easily neutralized Ritualist spirits. We've changed this skill to work on allied spirits, so that it cannot be used to kill off enemy spirits, although it can still be used to create new spirits from older ones.
Assassins in Pressure Builds
Buffs to fast activating attack skills have made Assassins very dangerous characters at the flag stand, because they can output high amounts of pressure. While an Assassin's weakness is normally its durability, Assassins become much more powerful when used in hex-based pressure builds that hinder or punish offensive actions. We feel that a few, small changes to some of the more powerful skills on these characters' bars will be sufficient when taken in conjunction with the other changes in this update, but we may make more changes later to other skills with similar effects if these characters still seem to be out of line.
- Black Mantis Thrust: increased activation time to 1 second; increased recharge to 6 seconds.
Black Mantis Thrust is a key fast attack on many Assassin bars in teams that also use hexes, as the Cripple effect can be consistently and quickly reapplied. By increasing the activation time and recharge of this skill, we limit the damage and pressure that this character can inflict over prolonged encounters.
- "Coward!": added recharge of 2 seconds.
Fast assassin attacks, in addition to double strikes, allow Assassins to chain knockdowns on foes by recharging Coward while the enemy is knocked down from a previous Coward. Increasing the adrenaline cost of this skill would only make it less viable on Warriors who cannot build adrenaline as quickly, so we added a recharge to prevent Assassins from chaining this skill by using fast attacks.
- Leaping Mantis Sting: decreased activation time to 1/2 second.
While examining Black Mantis Thrust, we noticed that Leaping Mantis Sting is a similar skill with an arguably harder condition to meet in order to get the Cripple. Because this skill already has a long recharge, we gave this a shorter activation time so it can compete with Black Mantis Thrust.
Key Pressure Hexes
In addition to reducing the power of the Heal Party/Healer's Boon combination, we feel it is also necessary to reduce the power of the hex-based pressure builds that it was being used against. These types of builds rely primarily on Necromancer and Mesmer hexes to apply pressure, in conjunction with the Assassins mentioned in the previous section. By toning down the power of these hexes we make it easier for some of the revised party healing skills to see use.
- Faintheartedness: decreased duration to 3...16 seconds.
- Spoil Victor: split for PvP; retains original functionality.
- Spoil Victor (PvP): decreased Health loss to 15...75.
As a long lasting hex, Faintheartedness can drastically reduce the effectiveness of up to three martial classes at once. Reducing the duration should limit the amount of pressure that this character can output and force more meaningful target selection. Spoil Victor simply did too much damage with too easy a condition; this resulted in a near complete shutdown of any target it was placed on. With a lower damage level, it should output less pressure on a single application. Because Spoil Victor is a key skill in many builds used on high level PvE bosses, we've split this skill to maintain its effectiveness. Faintheartedness still has a duration high enough for most PvE encounters and can be a very frustrating skill to play against when used by high Curses-attribute monsters, therefore we elected to not split this skill.
- Empathy (PvP): decreased damage to 15...45.
- Visions of Regret: split for PvP; retains original functionality.
- Visions of Regret (PvP): decreased unconditional damage to 10...30; decreased conditional damage to 5...40; increased recharge to 30 seconds.
Visions of Regret punishes enemies for actions they take, much like Spoil Victor does. In the case of Mesmer hexes, the effect is exacerbated by the ability for a skill like Visions of Regret to be chain cast with a skill like Backfire to keep the effective punishment up 100% of the time. By increasing the recharge and lowering the damage, we effectively lower the total damage this skill can do during its uptime, and we prevent it from easily being chained with other Mesmer hexes that punish actions. Empathy's damage has been reduced as well, to reduce the amount of pressure it outputs while it is active. Since Visions of Regret is an important skill for PvE Mesmers, we have split it and left the PvE version unchanged.
Other Pressure Skills
We are also taking steps to address the following other skills used in pressure-based builds.
- Barbed Signet: split for PvP; changed to apply Bleeding with Necromancer skills.
- Barbed Signet (PvP): removed casting time; removed Health sacrifice; reduced 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...16 seconds."
In a previous update, we changed the functionality of Barbed Signet to let it cause bleeding to targets of your Necromancer spells. This was a good change that introduced the Necromancer into GvG as a viable pressure and split character; however, we felt he was a little too strong with loss of the constant high heals provided by Heal Party. With help from our Test Krewe, we determined that simply reducing the duration of the Bleeding took away some of the Necromancer's interesting pressure and split options. Those options came about primarily because the long Bleed duration gave the Necromancer time to make plays without losing his pressure. However, we still wanted to reduce the number of targets the Necromancer could maintain Bleeding on. We settled on a change that makes this skill somewhat like Ritual Lord: it empowers the Necromancer's next action and allows him to continue spreading Bleeding for long durations, but on fewer targets due to the recharge. Because a fast recharging health sacrifice could potentially be too powerful when used with Masochism (PvP) or Dark Aura, we changed the cost of this skill to be a self-inflicted bleed. Finally, this skill now works with all Necromancer skills instead of just spells. We feel this could open up some variety in the types of bars this character runs, as well as providing a small buff to the PvE version.
- Enraging Charge: changed functionality to: "For 5...15 seconds, you move 25% faster. Enraging Charge ends when you successfully strike a target, at which point you gain 0...3 strikes of adrenaline if you hit with a melee attack."
This is a small change to curb adrenaline engines and force a stronger commitment to an attack from Warriors that use it.
- Overbearing Smash: removed unblockable property.
While we like that this skill is in use and that it offers a competitive choice between Wild Throw and Protectors Strike [sic] for GvG Hammer Warriors, we felt that the unblockable property made it a little too strong when it came to increasing pressure output by these Warriors.
- Mirror of Ice: increased recharge to 45 seconds.
Mirror of Ice Elementalists have been a staple of pressure teams for a while because of their ability to add damage to strong utility hexes like Blurred Vision and Freezing Gust. By increasing the recharge to be in line with their attunement, we hope to provide slightly longer windows of decreased pressure for a successful strip.
As with previous updates to GvG, we will continue to monitor the shifts in meta that occur as a result of these changes. If necessary, we will do some follow-up changes to address any additional problems that arise.
- Developer Update - November 2010 Skill Balances at GuildWars.com