Our goal for this test week is to assess some global changes—-namely adjustments to Victory or Death and long-lasting shut-down Hexes. Specific builds that were either overpowering or uninteresting to play, such as the Shadow Prison Assassin and Ritualist spikers, were scaled down. As with previous test weeks, we'll carefully monitor the metagame throughout the week and make changes as needed.
To diversify Assassin Skill Bars, we've helped some non-elite Shadow Step options by making them more readily available. Combined with the duration reduction to Shadow Prison, the increased cost of Black Spider Strike, and the decreased cost of Golden Phoenix Strike, this will hopefully lessen the Assassin's reliance on Shadow Prison and encourage interesting build choices. Expose Defenses proved a superior Assassin Hex, so we increased its recharge time to make using it more of a tradeoff.
We improved the Dervish's largely unused speed boost Stances to grant this profession more access to mobility without cross-classing. Attacker's Insight was adjusted to take into account the low cost of Dervish attack Skills. Situational skills, such as Meditation and Grenth's Fingers received lower recharge times so that they are more likely to be available when the opportunity to use them arises.
After improving Glyph of Lesser Energy earlier this year, we wanted to push more Glyphs into a similar range. Elemental Power got a massive power increase, affecting your next 10 Spells, while Renewal and Energy got lowered recharge times to make them more worthy of their elite status. Chilling Winds is a hard-to-use combo Skill, so we decreased the cost to reward that build choice, while Rodgort's Invocation and Arc Lightning received recharge boosts to improve their damage over time. On the defensive front, Blurred Vision was made more active (and therefore more Energy-intensive over time) as part of our sweeping Hex balance, and Blinding Surge took a minor duration hit to pressure resources a bit more.
The theme behind the Mesmer changes is to decrease the power of long-lasting "passive" Hexes. Decreasing the duration of Panic and Spirit Shackles and increasing the Energy cost of Spirit of Failure should make Mesmer builds more active and Energy-bound. Echo and Arcane Echo received another decrease to their recharge time to make them a possibility for dynamic new builds. Meanwhile, we're experimenting with bumping up Signet of Illusions for cross-attribute strategies.
Aegis received a rework this month, reducing its range from party to earshot (1/5 of the original range) to address the passive nature of "Aegis Chaining." To compensate, the more active Skill, Guardian, received a boost to both duration and block chance. Combined with effective Energy management, Shield of Regeneration's prior reduction to .25 second cast time has made it popular in 4v4 play, but we'd like to see a bit more diversity. In the same vein, Blessed Light received a buff, in the hopes that it would compete with its big-brother, Divert Hexes. Remove Hex's 2-second cast time kept it in the scrap yard, so we're hoping its superior recharge makes it viable next to Holy Veil.
The Necromancer's "fire and forget" anti-melee Hexes have been an increasing source of passive defense that we would like to move away from. The longer-lasting shut-down Hexes (Faintheartedness, Price of Failure, Reckless Haste, Shadow of Fear, and Meekness) were scaled down to make them more active or to further strain resources. The Condition transferring abilities of the Necromancer are largely ignored, so we've improved Plague Touch, Plague Sending, and Plague Signet to flesh out this aspect of the profession.
The Paragon remains largely untouched, although we did boost a couple underused Skills.
Elite Nature Rituals can have extensive effects, but their 5 second cast time made them interrupt-bait (when near the battle) and their long recharges made them unreliable. We lowered their casting time to 3 seconds and significantly decreased their recharge time so teams feel they can rely on them as build choices. Natural Stride left its friends Storm Chaser, Escape, and Run as One eating its dust, so we improved those run-speed Stances in hopes they'll be valid options. Additionally, we increased several Ranger bow attacks to evaluate in the various metagames.
A while back, we adjusted expensive Ritualist spells. This week we wanted to examine Exhaustion and see if the reduced sustainability of these skills would make them more balanced and interesting. We scaled down a number of Ritualist damage Spells as well, to further move away from "Rit Spike" builds that combine too much damage and defense on a single character. Vital Weapon, a staple of Ritualist builds, took a light shot to duration because it so easily enables many other Ritualist skills.
The Warrior received a few boosts, mostly to Skills that often go unused. We made Flourish more worthy as an elite, hoping to see it in more builds. "For Great Justice!" now has greater potential to boost adrenaline at the expense of less Energy, while the negative end effect of Berserker Stance is enough of a drawback that a 20-second recharge time seems appropriate. Lastly, we made Savage Slash more affordable, halving its cost to promote interrupts in melee combat.