Playing as a Ritualist in PvP is enjoyable but has a few significant problems that contribute to its inability to effectively perform in certain PvP modes and maps. I identify these problems as follows:
Cast time and level of Spirits
When Factions was released, the lengthy casting times of Binding Rituals was a necessary drawback in order to balance out the time needed to establish a "base" of operations for the Ritualist to utilize. As Guild Wars continued to develop and receive progressive balance updates, most Binding Rituals have been displaced in power due to successive waves of power creep. Skills which can easily counter spirits, such as interruptions, have been consistently improved. Take a look at older versions of many interruption skills and notice how they either had longer recharge times, couldn't interrupt Binding Rituals due to a different functionality, or were in some other way less powerful than they are now. This trend of power creep has also increased the general damage of the metagame, and Binding Rituals are, for the most part, balanced for the state of the game as it was in early 2007, during which time the last major balance update featuring a general improvement of Binding Rituals not restricted to PvE was released. Further that year in October, a patch would be released which reduced the health of all spirits by 50, in addition to allowing the burning condition to affect them. At the time, this change was warranted.
The Ritualist is quite reliant on spirits to operate fully and effectively. While not every Ritualist skill is designed to be used within the confines of a spirit, many are, including some of their most powerful ones. Where this hurts the Ritualist most is in fast paced game modes and maps. Consider that it takes at minimum three seconds to create a spirit. This is debilitating in areas such as the Jade Quarry and Alliance Battles where teams are expected to move rapidly. And even when a spirit base is formed, the spirits themselves are quite vulnerable. A Bloodsong created with a rather daring 16 Channeling Magic is only level 8 with 50 armor and has, depending on the players investment in spawning power, between 160 and 240 health. A single Mind Burn is sufficient dispatch a spirit of this kind, as are many other abilities.
These weaknesses were once a necessary and proper consequence to balance the effects of spirits, but as argued above, the increase in power in the game has displaced much of their strengths.
The Ritualist, in part like the Paragon, is a profession that synergizes with itself, and so buffing certain aspects of the profession, like spirits, must be considered in impact on a 4 person team, on an 8 person team, and on a team with more than one Ritualist. Envision a scenario for a moment where Ritualist spirits in PvP are adjusted to match their PvE counterparts. This would assuredly be an imbalanced change, and spiritways featuring multiple Ritualists would probably become an unbeatable staple in most PvP modes. Therefore, I will propose the following changes which make spirit summoning and reliability more dependable for the single Ritualist, while negating their ability to synergize with other Ritualists out of concern for exponentially growing power.
We firstly establish some base changes to all Binding Rituals:
- All Binding Rituals which take three seconds to cast now take two, while rituals requiring five seconds to cast now require three.
- All Binding Rituals have their level increased by 2.
These are necessary changes that reduce some of the Ritualists most apparent vulnerabilities as discussed above. Two and three second casting times are still easy to interrupt in the heat battle, while level 1...8...10 and 1...10...12 spirits remain vulnerable to direct attacks due to their small health pool and low armor rating.
To prevent exponential power growth between Ritualists, we will also implement the following changes:
- Base changes to all Ritualist spkills with an in earshot of a spirit component or a functionality requiring a spirit:
- These skills will now read when in earshot of a spirit under your control.
This change prevents multiple Ritualists from utilizing spirits that are not their own, just like Signet of Creation. Other skills that scale with multiple spirits, like Mend Body and Soul, will now only scale with your multiple spirits.
- Skills which do not have an in earshot of a spirit component but still require a spirit to function, such as Spirit Siphon or Spirit Transfer, will now read the spirit nearest you under your control.
The inherent effects of Spawning Power will also be adjusted for PvP:
- For each rank of Spawning Power you have, creatures you create (or animate) have 4% more Health, and weapon Spells you cast last 4% longer. Some Ritualist skills, especially those related to Spirit creatures, become more effective with higher Spawning Power. In PvP, you can control one Binding Ritual plus one additional Binding Ritual for every 5 ranks of Spawning Power (maximum 3 binding rituals).
This would be the most important change. Globally, it would also affect other classes, thereby making them unable to summon more than a single binding ritual, which I don't envision affecting many builds, if at all. However, what's most important is that it would limit every Ritualist to having no more than three spirits at any one time, thereby preventing spirit armies, unless a team invested into many Ritualists who each individually invested heavily into spawning power. Even so, the change to in earshot of a spirit would prevent them from having any synergy with each other at all. This limit of 3 spirits per Ritualist was chosen as it is the lowest amount that is least likely to affect many builds, while allowing the most popular spirit summoning builds to retain their strength, such as Soul Twister.
Lastly, there is one skill I immediately anticipate creating an imbalance in PvP with these aforementioned changes:
- Ritual Lord
- This skill has been split for PvP; the attribute bonus has been reduced to 1...2...2.
Spirits that have a 1...10...12 level scale will reach a maximum level of 16 with the current version of Ritual Lord, provided the player has rank 16 in the governing attribute of that spirit. While rank 16 has drawbacks of its own in terms of a lowered health pool, a level 16 spirit has 98 armor, far too much for enemy players to kill it in a reasonable timespan (while Rejuvenation (PvP) currently reaches this level at 15 Restoration Magic, the spirit operates by losing health, and so may be considered balanced in this regard).
By increasing the level of spirits and reducing their cast times, we allow Binding Rituals to more accurately match the current power medium of PvP. Tying the maximum number of Binding Rituals permissible to Spawning Power forces investment for spirit spamming, while the adjustments to skills requiring a spirit eliminate interprofession synergy. The penultimate goal of these changes is to benefit the single Ritualist in all PvP game modes, while checking their ability to scale exponentially in power with one another.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article.