Skill update previews:January 2010

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Preliminary Skill Update Notes, version 2 - 25 January 2010[edit]

After additional testing last week and this past weekend, we've revised our list of changes for this week's playbalance update. Since the update is scheduled for just a few days before a Monthly Automated Tournament, we are providing a preview of the changes.

First, we've settled on revisions to a few of the changes:

  • Mirror of Ice Mirror of Ice's energy will increase to 15.
  • Cultist's Fervor Cultist's Fervor will give 1...5...6 energy, will have a 25 second recharge, and will have its duration determined by your Soul Reaping attribute, rather than being a fixed 20 seconds. (The duration will be 5 seconds plus 3 seconds for every rank of Soul Reaping. The effects of the skill are still tied to the Blood Magic attribute.)

Second, we added Winter's Embrace and Ride the Lightning to our list of individual problem skills:

  • Winter's Embrace Winter's Embrace will see its energy cost go up to 10 from 5 and its recharge go to 15 from 12. These changes are meant to weaken the skill a little without removing it from play. The 3/4 second cast time on this skill still makes it a very powerful and effective hex.
  • Ride the Lightning Ride the Lightning will be given the same aftercast as other teleport [sic] skills. Not having this aftercast made it a little too effective when used by melee characters.

Finally, our work on ranged damage dealers will end up affecting a large number of skills.

We will change five skills used for the initial damage in a spike:

  • Anthem of Envy Anthem of Envy will have a 6 second recharge and its damage bonus will be reduced to 10...18...20.
  • Glass Arrows Glass Arrows will have its damage bonus reduced to 5...11...12.
  • Keen Arrow Keen Arrow will have its recharge increased to 12 seconds and its damage bonuses changed to 5...25...30 (on a critical hit) and 1...4...5 (unconditional).
  • Sloth Hunter's Shot Sloth Hunter's Shot will have its recharge increased to 15 second [sic] and its damage bonuses changed to 5...13...15 (vs. foes not activating a skill) and 5...17...20 (unconditional).
  • Marauder's Shot Marauder's Shot will have the time it disables skills increased from 5 to 10.

Our tests showed the damage-increasing skills to still be viable in general, while the attack skills could still be effective, but only in builds designed specifically for spike damage, not for a mix of spike damage and sustained, pressure damage. Because most of these skills can be useful in PvE, with the except[sic] of Marauder's Shot, the changes will only apply to PvP.

We will also be changing all 1 second activation times for bow attacks to have an additional half-second of recovery time. This means the arrows will still come out as fast as before and the skills will still be faster overall than normal bow attacks, but they won't be fast enough to be used to spike in a three-skill combo. This change will affect:

In addition:

  • Precision Shot Precision Shot's damage will be lowered to 3...9...10 to bring it into line with the others.

The PvE versions of


  • Needling Shot Needling Shot will be given the 3/4 second activation time in both PvE and PvP, but it will disable other attack skills for 2 second [sic] to prevent its use in attack combos with other skills.

Since we will be removing some damage dealing potential from rangers, we will also be improving a couple of condition-spreading skills.

  • Crippling Shot Crippling Shot's arrows will move twice as fast as normal.
  • Hunter's Shot Hunter's Shot will be given a 1 second activation time (and the same additional recovery time as the other 1 second bow attacks).

These changes will affect both PvE and PvP.

After repeated tests, we also determined there was need to hit the defense of paragon/ranger heavy teams a little bit more.

  • Lightning Reflexes Lightning Reflexes will have its recharge return to 45 in PvP. Buffs to other skills have made Expertise/Marksmanship rangers more powerful than before and this skill plays exactly to their strengths. Increasing its recharge should bring them into check a bit more.
  • Soldier's Fury Soldier's Fury will be given a similar downside as Aggressive Refrain. "Whenever a shout or chant ends on you, you suffer from Cracked Armor (10 seconds)." The purpose of this change is to force paragons to make a choice between defense (higher armor) or offense (increased attack speed). We do not expect PvE paragons to be harmed by this change; so we're letting it apply to both PvE and PvP.

Preliminary Skill Update Notes – 21 January 2010[edit]

While we continue a larger playbalance project that includes drastic changes to Shadow Form, we believe it is important to release a small skill balance to address a few other pressing issues. Because this update will be released shortly before a Monthly Automated Tournament, we want to provide a preview of the changes that are under consideration. This is a preliminary list, and it is likely there will be some changes before the update goes Live.

The areas we are trying to address are:

In addition to these skill changes, we think this is a good time to update some of the GvG party restrictions to make participation a little easier. The revised restrictions, which we hope to have in effect for the upcoming Monthly Automated Tournament, will be as follows:

  1. Requires 2 guild members, including a guild officer as the party leader.
  2. Henchmen are restricted to a maximum of 4.
  • Daily Automated Tournaments:
  1. Requires 2 guild members who have been in your guild for at least 7 days. The party leader must be a guild officer.
  2. Henchmen are restricted to a maximum of 4.
  3. All party members must be registered with Tolkano.
  • Monthly Automated Tournaments:
  1. Requires 4 guild members who have been in your guild for at least 7 days. The party leader must be a guild officer.
  2. All players in the party must be members of your guild.
  3. Henchmen are restricted to a maximum of 2.
  4. All party members must be registered with Tolkano.

Please note: These changes have NOT all been implemented yet, and there is some chance that we will not be able to update the MAT restrictions before the tournament. We'll let you know what we can as soon as possible.

Ranged Spike/Damage in GvG[edit]

In GvG especially, Glass Arrows Rangers and other bow spike builds are a little too effective. We are exploring a few different approaches to addressing this, but we need to perform additional playtests before settling on a specific set of changes. It is likely that a number of bow attack skills, especially those with fast activation times, will be altered in some way.

Part of what makes these ranged teams overpowered is their survivability, typically enabled by Paragons. So in addition, we're revising "Stand Your Ground!" (PvP) so that the effect ends when a character attacks. ("Shout. For 5...17...20 seconds, all party members within earshot receive +24 armor when not moving. Ends on a party member if that party member attacks.") This skill will be unchanged in PvE.

Party Wide Healing in GvG[edit]

We believe that spiking, disruption/control and pressure damage should all have a role to play in GW PvP. Currently, pressure damage tends to be outshined by party healing in GvG. There are a couple of skills that we wanted to alter to bring this into greater balance.

  • Recuperation (PvP) Recuperation (PvP) will no longer provide health regeneration to characters who are above 75% health. This lets it remove some pressure damage, but not counteract it entirely. This change will only affect PvP.
  • Mending Refrain Mending Refrain will be split into PvP and PvE versions. The PvE version will be unchanged. The PvP version will only target the caster, effectively removing this skill as a party healing option in PvP.

Blood Spike in PvP[edit]

We've decided to make two changes to address current issues with Blood Spike.

First, and most dramatically, we're changing several defensive skills to work against life stealing. (They will continue to work against normal damage as well.) The skills we're looking at are:

Second, we're adjusting the lead-in Blood Spike skills:

  • Vampiric Swarm Vampiric Swarm will be altered so that there is no delay between the spell being cast and the first target losing health. (This delay current causes the life-stealing from Vampiric Swarm to happen at about the same time as the life-stealing from the follow-up spike skill, making it unrealistic to react to.)
  • Lifebane Strike Lifebane Strike and
  • Shadow Strike Shadow Strike will have their recharges increased from 8 to 15 in order to decrease the frequency of spikes.

Individual Problem Skills[edit]

  • Illusion of Pain Illusion of Pain, we're adjusting some numbers to make the skill more vulnerable to disruption and more demanding to use effectively: Increasing cast time to 2. Lowering duration to 8. Lowering recharge to 5. Decreasing healing to match the shorter duration 45...129...150.

Along similar lines, we're making some numerical tweaks to Mirror of Ice to make it more vulnerable to disruption, raising the energy cost to 15 or 25 and the cast time to 2.

We're also evaluating potential changes to Cultist's Fervor (increased energy cost, increased recharge, and/or decreased effect). These changes need more testing. We have not yet decided whether or not to proceed with them.