We're taking this opportunity to address many severely underpowered elite skills. In some cases, this has involved completely reworking the skills. We don't like to radically change skills and risk invalidating the play styles that people may be enjoying, but in the case of the elite skills modified in this build, major changes seemed entirely appropriate.
Golden Skull Strike was similar to Temple Strike but clearly inferior. Instead of having them serve a similar function, we've turned Golden Skull Strike into an elite version of Golden Phoenix Strike, which allows faster access to dual attacks and Daze. Hidden Caltrops has been turned into a stronger (and also more thematically-correct) snare, applying a 10-second hex that also Cripples when it expires. This protects the skill from those only using a single type of snare removal. Way of the Assassin grants primary Assassins new access to an increased attack speed stance that synergizes well with skills that trigger on a critical hit. Flashing Blades now causes damage when it blocks, which makes it more attractive in smaller-format PvP. Shadow Form's damage reduction was lowered so that it's more viable for a wider range of uses, including boss hunting. We're further adjusting the effectiveness of Shadow Form Underworld farmers by changing the Underworld, rather than additional changes to Shadow Form.
Onslaught has been reworked into a combined attack and movement speed boost rolled into one, freeing skill bar slots and choice of secondary profession. Zealous Vow had an Energy gain that was poor even in optimal situations, so we've increased this skill's Energy gain qualities and decreased the downside. This aims to let Dervishes use expensive skills more regularly when taking this elite, as long as they stay aggressive. Vow of Strength now allows powerful attacks as long as conditions are not present, making it interesting to build around.
The old functionality of Glimmering Mark and Thunderclap proved too difficult to balance. These skills were always either too effective at locking down enemies or too ineffective for an elite slot. We've dramatically reworked them both. Glimmering Mark now does damage to a foe until you cast another spell on that same foe, allowing persisting damage to an off-target; Thunderclap becomes a delayed, area-effect damage and Daze-causing spell. Mirror of Ice's previous function was too narrow and didn't support normal Elementalist play. It has been changed to amplify the damage output of Water Magic-focused Elementalists. Master of Magic has been reworked for easier mixing of elemental lines to allow interesting multi-element builds.
Tease was both confusing and entirely too specific to be playable. We've reworked the skill to have it double as both area-interruption and Energy management. Visions of Regret had a too-specific trigger effect, making it weak in most situations, and frustrating in the few where it worked. We've changed it to work on all skills, but not attacks, as a sort of elite Backfire. Air of Disenchantment has had problems due to spike damage in the past, but fell into obscurity after rebalancing. We've given this skill a new function -- area-of-effect enchantment removal. Extend Conditions becomes an elite Epidemic, spreading conditions in a wide area and lengthening their durations. Lyssa's Aura had a limited effect and uncontrollable triggering condition, which made it a weak choice for an elite. We've changed its functionality to Energy management that can be maintained. Finally, Signet of Midnight's dominated in four-on-four matches because it was independent of attribute investment. Signet of Midnight was originally balanced before Fast Casting affected the activation time of Signets. This change brings the skill closer to its original balance.
Touch-range healing spells aren't something very desirable to Monks in any format. We've changed Healing Burst to be a cheap, effective heal that also has a secondary area heal tied to it. Empathic Removal now has an unattributed heal associated to it, making it especially attractive to Monk secondaries in arena formats. Aura of Faith has been drastically reworked: it's now a Protection spell that has a much greater effect for a much shorter time, making it an elite version of the popular Protective Spirit. Signet of Rage now has more of its damage in the non-conditional portion, making it more useful in a wider variety of situations without being overpowered against foes with numerous adrenal skills. Spirit Bond was too readily-available when coupled with enough Energy management. We've slightly raised the recharge to limit how often it is in effect.
With the addition of new elites that can cause Health degeneration (Reaper's Mark, Corrupt Enchantment), Life Transfer slowly fell into the realm of underpowered. To give it a needed update, it now hexes adjacent foes as well, allowing Necromancers to more efficiently spread degeneration. Vampiric Spirit's previous functionality required us to make it either too weak in general or too strong in very specific cases. We've changed it into an elite version of Vampiric Gaze, doing a direct life-steal with additional regeneration. Order of Undeath is now an alternative way to make one, powerful minion that persists longer at the expense of additional minions. This skill should give minion masters interesting options without crowding PvP areas with masses of minions. Pain of Disenchantment now allows Necromancers to combine a multiple removal skill with area-of-effect damage, allowing greater utility while punishing enchantments.
"The Power is Yours!" was simply weak and complicated. We've overhauled this skill to be simpler and work off adrenaline, converting the Paragon's adrenaline into Energy for allies. "It's just a flesh wound" now functions as a more widely applicable removal elite for Paragons as long as the user doesn't have a Deep Wound. Soldier's Fury has an easy-to-meet condition that functions as an adrenaline battery, allowing a Paragon to fuel other adrenal skills more easily.
Expert's Dexterity and Scavenger's Focus could not compete with other preparations, especially considering that they were elites. We've changed these both to stances: Expert's Dexterity now has an attribute and attack speed bonus that can be used with preparations; Scavenger's Focus returns Energy when hitting foes with a condition. Scavenger's Strike offers similar Energy management, but is an attack skill as opposed to a stance. We also changed Incendiary Arrows from a preparation to a multi-shot bow attack that sets foes on fire. Melandru's Shot is now like an elite Hunter's Shot, inflicting Bleeding and Cripple on moving or knocked-down foes.
Reclaim Essence now functions as a way to recycle Spirits. Destroying Spirits will return some of the Energy investment and recharge them, allowing more dynamic Spirit placement options. Consume Soul now can steal life from any enemy—making it a more broadly useful skill—and still counter hostile summoned creatures. With Xinrae's Weapon, the aim is to give Restoration Ritualists an alternative to Weapon of Remedy: the reworked Xinrae's Weapon is an elite that functions much like a one-use Protective Spirit that also steals life. Lastly, Defiant was Xinrae now protects the user from single big hits and also can steal life when dropped, making it a self-support option for split tactics and arena settings. Weapon of Warding, at high attributes, was often easy to simultaneously maintain on two people. This is frustrating because of the more passive and irremovable nature of the spell. We've raised the recharge so that a target needs to be chosen carefully, and so that target switching is a more viable strategy against it.
Warrior's Endurance was not useful as a stance because it did not boost movement or attack speed. Changing it to a skill allows Warriors to couple it with stances to cover these needs. Battle Rage no longer throws away all the adrenaline gained while using it, a drawback that previously invalidated the skill. Defy Pain now also slightly reduces damage taken. Quivering Blade now applies Daze to a moving opponent (instead of to yourself) giving sword-using Warriors a low-cost damage boost and a unique way to inflict Daze.