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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Guild Wars: Balancing TODO shortlist

Things I'd think would be on Izzy's - that'd be Isaiah Cartwright, the GW skill balancing chief - balancing list. They're all complicated problems so I'm not going to pretend I have any answers right now.

1. Damage Options

As I outlined previously, there are really only 2 build types - Pressure and Spike - in Guild Wars, with a fair number of variations. In competitive GvG, Spike loses right now (thankfully) so you're left with one build type.

And that build type requires warriors to actually do the damage, as Ensign of iQ's exhaustive analysis concluded.

So then the build consists of this:
  • Warriors
  • Things to stop their warriors
  • Things to stop them stopping your warriors
That's it. Healing monks and ritualists stop their actual damage. Mesmers are there to stop their warrior hate (miss hexes, blind) and/or healing.

This is why skills like Draw Conditions are currently so good - keeping your warriors clean is really the way you win with pressure builds. As Ensign pointed out, the only reason you don't run 3+ warriors all the time is that the support infrastructure to shut down their warrior hate gets overstretched. One method of doing this - the IWAY technique - where you do run a zillion warriors does actually work but not well enough to be really competitive.

It would be nice if Warriors weren't the only option to do damage. Maybe Nightfall will help with this - it certainly seems like Dervishes are poised to provide at least one other option.

It generally seems that Warriors are very good but I'm not altogether convinced that that's a problem in and of itself. Having melee characters being good makes for a more interesting game but less choices is also bad.

2. Elementalist Elites

I'm not a huge fan of the elite system, to be honest. But Elementalists are particularly horked right now since basically your option 90%+ of the time is Ether Prodigy. Anything else and your profession falls apart. Note that most of that energy is going to disappear into Blinding Flash, Extinguish and Heal Party - 2 of which aren't even elementalist skills. There are occasionally exceptions like a dedicated warder running Obsidian Flame as a spike assist but I'm not convinced it's better than a straight-up Prodigy character.

3. Assassin Elites

Well, you thought Elementalists were a bit broken. Say hello to Aura of Displacement, the only playable Assassin elite. Like Prodigy, this is a tricky one to fix because if you just take it away or nerf it the whole profession falls apart.

There are a lot of other more minor things - e.g. Eviscerate being the sole axe elite, Warrior skill damage ignoring armour - but none of them in my mind are as significant as these.

I should note that I'm just talking about PvP here. There are a ton of PvE issues but unless it enables serious solo farming action (hence making it easier for bot farmers) it doesn't generally appear to matter to ArenaNet.


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