Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dev for a Day - Guard requires Shield

Someone asked me in my last post how I would solve the Guard requires Shield dilemma for the SM. Here's my take.

I'll start with a couple Mythic quotes and I'll build from there.

For example Andy stated in this thread:
The fact that we're going to do a deeper evaluation has the potential to increase the likelihood that we will be restricting Guard to shield only sometime in the future. Before we make a move like that, we need to make sure that all tanks using a 2 handed weapon are on even ground, hence the decision to delay and focus on the issue at a more appropriate time.
Also Nate said in his 1.3.2. Developer Diary about Crowd Control changes:

Secondly, another aspect of allocation that we're working towards as a long-term goal is to slowly shift the general distribution of Crowd Control to be more common on defensive careers—such as the tank archetypes—and away from DPS-focused careers.

We determined that there needs to be a clear and obvious line drawn between which effects we intend to be used offensively and which we intend to be used defensively, and that lead to the final change that you'll see in this patch.

We're introducing a new effect called "Stagger".  When you Stagger an enemy, they'll be briefly disabled and unable to move or take any actions, just like a Stun or a Knockdown, but with the critical difference that the Stagger will immediately break if they suffer any damage.  We've gone through every player ability that's a Knockdown or Stun, and have done one of two things to it:  either it becomes a Knockdown (a clearly offensive tool which allows you to knock an enemy tail-over-teakettle and then beat them down) or a Stagger (which is now a clearly defensive tool to remove an enemy that you're not attacking).
I would continue down the path that was started back in 1.3.2 by Mythic. That path is the clear and obvious delineation between offensive and defensive support. This can also be clearly seen by the new armor sets. The next logical step to rebalance the classes for this. The general idea is to split up the abilities so that the offensive support abilities are in the offensive tree and the defensive support abilities are in the defensive tree.

The Khaine Swordmaster uses his Elven Greatsword and the Winds of Magic to tear apart the defenses of his foes. He is fully capable of dealing swift death to his enemy once he fully exposes the enemy's weaknesses. The true DPS class will always be able to take better advantage of the Khaine SM's openings though.

Blurring Shock/Forceful Shock - Either Blurring Shock has it's proc damage doubled or Forceful Shock doubles the proc damage of Blurring Shock. Blurring Shock is offensive utility so changing it to a knockback doesn't make much sense. It makes up for the loss of Guard by helping your group kill the enemy faster.

Sapping Strike - 50% incoming heal debuff for 10s. The SM is the only tank on Order side without a heal debuff. (The BO is in the same boat for Destruction.) This makes the tanks more on even ground. It also has synergy with the 2 piece Doomflayer and Warpforged offensive tank sets.

Phoenix's Wing - Moved to 13+1 Vaul with a different effect.

Crashing Wave moves to 9+1 in Khaine and is now a 4s knockdown. This puts it on even ground with the IB knockdown Cave-In. (4s KD with added effect.) It should likely have a 2h requirement since it's clearly offensive utility.

Whirling Geyser - 3s AoE knockdown instead of a knockback. Knockbacks seem more defensive than offensive, so it doesn't seem to fit to have a knockback in the offensive tree.

The Vaul Swordmaster puts aside the classic Elven Greatsword in favor of the shield. Using his shield and the Winds of Magic, he creates magical absorb shields to protect his group. He will determine where the battle lines are drawn. The Vaul Swordmaster highly values his own personal survival. For the longer he stands, the longer he can use the Winds to protect his brethren.

Dampening Talon - Shield required - Dragon's Talon will now affect 3 (or 9) targets within 20 feet (30 feet), but it's damage is reduced by 10% (20%). It doesn't make sense to have offensive utility like defense strikethrough on a defensive ability. Same reasoning as Forceful Shock and it'd be a decent enough "mirror" to Crippling Strikes.

Redirected Force - Requires Block. Single target 9s stagger. 10s (or 20s if that's deemed too powerful) recast. I originally wanted this to be a knockdown like the IB shield knockdown, but a stagger fits the defensive tank better. It might need to switch places with Crushing Advance in the Vaul tree.

Vaul's Buffer - Grants your group an absorb shield whenever you defend against an attack. This is a pseudo mirror to the DoK group absorb shield tactic. It helps balance the realms since Order has no equivalent to that tactic on the DoK.

Phoenix's Wing - 13+1 Vaul. Flames of the Phoenix engulf your group's armor causing X Spirit damage whenever attacked. 15s duration, 30s recast. Basically a mirror to the Chosen's Bane Shield with the tactic.

The Hoeth Swordmaster uses the Winds of Magic to neutralize other magic and refresh his allies. He is the bane of any spell caster. He combines a mix of offense and defense to turn the tide of battle.

Calming Winds - Gusting Wind will now knockback a single target a long distance. A good single target knockback is required to deal with Guard effectively, and the SM/BO just don't have access to one good enough. All tanks should have access to a good single target punt to put them on even ground.

Whispering Wind - Moved to 9+1 Hoeth with same effect. Other tanks get their CC at 9+1, so it brings the tanks more on even ground. Also the Choppa can buy their cooldown buff for 9+1.

Protection of Hoeth - Moved to 13+1 Hoeth. Group magical absorb shield for 10s. 60s recast. Sudden Shift has made the current version much less useful, so increasing the investment required and the return seemed like a good idea. It definitely has to be changed to be worth 13+1. I would make the absorb about 2k if magical only. The healer one that absorbs all damage types absorbs is about 1k. Alternately, it could just be an exact copy of the healer one.

Let me know what you think either way.


  1. That would certainly even out the tanks. I like how the reasoning ties together lore and dev statements. It also seems to make dps specced SMs a fully fledged mdps class rather than a dps-tank.

    How would those changes impact pve, for example in tovl?

  2. I threw out the PvE abilities because this is an RvR game. We don't need no stinking PvE abilities in our mastery trees!

    But seriously, for sword and board, the buff to Blurring Shock more than covers the loss of Redirected Force for PvE. For me, I do more damage with Blurring Shock to make up for the loss of Guard. There have been times where I got to the loot roll of fight in ToVL and realized I forgot to guard someone. The SM already has hate potential orders of magnitude over the other tanks.

  3. The only damage buff anywhere in there is on Blurring Shock. Unless you think the SM is already capable of fully fledged DPS class damage, I don't see how one could conclude this would make the SM a DPS class.

  4. I'm a Chosen player. And i've always encouraged and was cheering up for any good balance/buff/fix suggestions to other "gimped" as you may call it classes that have theyr utility crippled, non-existing or very lacking in any shape or form. I like your ideas. I would like to see a day when SM could be as useful (in tank spec) as chosen can be now. And chosen dealing as much dmg as BO in full dps (with lowered utility). Something for something. Sacrifice dps for utility and vice versa. Ppl are asking for those things for too damn long now. On the totally other side look at how gimpish and low dps output of a Kotbs is? there is no other melee class in the game that would do less. And chosens with every nerf are getting closer to that point. Which is fair if we spec for utility and tanking. But if i specificly put all my points in dps tree (which has no useful spammable in it..heh) and gear around dps'ing i should be able to do smthg with it right? nope. not when mythic logic kicks in. and it all goes the same to everyother class in the game.

  5. Although I do like your suggestions, I have to disagree with Mythic's reasoning on CC, and thus some of your reasoning.

    Yes, sometimes staggers are used for defensive purposes (mostly by RPs and Engineers), but more often and more importantly for greater effect it is used offensively. The most frequent example is the simple "stagger a healer and kill someone else"-routine. Or even the "stagger everyone and pick someone to kill" which Chosens/Knights like so much. Especially in organized groups staggers are better used offensively. Period.

  6. I believe stagger is considered defensive because it primarily reduces incoming damage to your group. It does not allow you do any more damage like a knockdown would by removing all defensive chances and letting you beat on someone while they're out cold. If you can use the time of reduced incoming damage to get some kills, then so be it. It's true that it can also be used to negate healing temporarily. It's kinda like Guard in the sense that my friendly DPS can do more damage to the enemy if I can keep him alive longer.

    I prefer to think the stagger the healer first or stagger assist train as an aggressive use of a defense tool.