Monday, March 30, 2009

The Pendulum Swings

One of the big changes in 1.2.1 is that Rain of Fire and Pit of Shades will no longer stack. You can read about the details here. Basically, only 1 of these abilities will affect a player at a time. Napalm and Dissolving Mist will still work in combination with the newly balanced spells. This isn't a new issue, so let's take a look back.

Stacking of RoF/PoS has been a problem since the game launched. Patch 1.1 brought some nerfs to both Bright Wizards and Sorceress. However, the real story is that players started figuring out the resist system. Once they started to stack resists, BW/Sorc damage, even from RoF and PoS started not to be that bad. However, there were no real limits to resistance stacking, so we saw some absurd numbers (upwards of 80%). This had the effect of marginalizing the casters damage.

With 1.2 we saw Diminishing returns added to resistances past 40%. The cap isn't 40%, its just harder to get absurd numbers. Not surprisingly, we saw the cries of overpowered BW/Sorcs come back in force. Coincidence?

Stacking abilities are really difficult to balance. In the case of RoF/PoS, the fact they are so powerful just adds to the problem. If you get enough of them in the same spot, you can almost instantly kill your opponent. If there were only 1 or 2 BW/Sorcs per warband, this may not even be an issue. When you get 7 or 8 of them, it becomes a problem. And that is the real problem, how do you balance stacking abilities when they could have any number of that class?

It is hard to argue with this change, as it will certainly stop the instant deaths. However, as with most complex systems, there will be unintended consequences. RoF/PoS has been the primary defensive tactic in keeps. If the defender had a strong enough tank wall, and enough BW/Sorcs... they had a good chance of holding off the enemy.

A single RoF/PoS will be nearly useless in most keep sieges. Group healing is very effective, so the damage caused will be barely noticeable, especially to tanks. Without this defensive tactic, it is likely that melee will run wild. There is another reason single-target damage isn't used much in keeps.... it is not very effective. Line of sight and lag are big obstacles with casters single target damage.

With this change, I expect to see the melee heavy realms start to dominate the keep sieges. There may be other changes we do not know about though. Short of a big change to group healing and keeps, I'm not sure what could avoid this outcome.


I would have prefered to see lower damage, yet allow stacking, like how the AOE worked in DOAC. A bit of damage per target, but over a wide area.Soak up those group heals that the healers were making, or having to make due to the dispersed nature of the AOE, thus allowing single direct damage to be more effective, since the healer would struggle to keep up with both.

Well then you have AOE healer specs like me who will love it. You tick 100 damage a sec and I am healing 100 per second without touching a button (Master Rune). The balance comes in when you have paper thin skin like I do because of it.

Problem is there is no balance. Once you fix something someone is going to exploit it.

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