This week's update features big changes with the Necromancer to make it more viable in Guild-versus-Guild matches. These changes are primarily for condition manipulation and spells that remove multiple enchantments. On the Elementalist, point-blank area-of-effect skills have had the long aftercast removed to encourage their use, while Mesmer interrupts have received boosts to offer alternatives to Power Leak. Assassin hexes in the Deadly Arts line were toned down to provide more active play while slightly reducing their power. We also made more Victory or Death adjustments in an effort to balance the game between quick resolution and interesting play.
A few Deadly Arts hexes in skirmish situations were both passive and a bit overpowered. To remedy this, we've lessened the power and reduced the durations of Shroud of Silence, Shadow Prison, and Dark Prison, which will better reward proper timing (the shorter effect means Assassins will have a smaller window of opportunity to capitalize on their advantage). Siphon Speed is a strong split skill, but now it needs to be used on moving foes to maintain its power, which necessitates more attentive play. Augury of Death has been lethally effective at applying Deep Wound at the perfect time, but without a real limitation. The increased recharge limits its availability and somewhat diminishes its overall power.
While Pious Assault was successful in generating various Dervish builds, it proved too powerful, outshining even the Wearying Strike/Avatar of Melandru combination. Mystic Regeneration's .25 second casting time, fast recharge time, and long duration made it too difficult to counter, as interruption was unlikely and removal didn't slow it down. We've made removal more meaningful by raising the recharge and lowering the duration. Wounding Strike was not living up to its elite status, so now it can simultaneously apply Deep Wound and Bleeding. Finally, Grenth's Aura and Pious Assault were too powerful a combination, so we limited the rate at which enchantments can be removed with Grenth's Aura. Overall, we will closely watch the potential of strong single-character spikes to bring them in line, especially with the Dervish.
Canceling spells under Glyph of Energy and Glyph of Lesser Energy without cost led to imbalances. Players could remove the threat of disruption from many expensive skills entirely by casting and canceling over and over until they saw the opposing team waste a key interrupt. Players could also keep canceling until the cast-time reduction from their items kicked in before committing to the cast. This fix should allow these skills to serve their intended purpose while solving these particular problems. Point-blank area-of-effect spells had a longer aftercast effect than standard spells (which was both unneeded and unintuitive) so we've entirely removed this concept. Air Magic lacked a spell that featured Energy gain and a low recharge, unlike the Water, Earth and Fire attributes. We reworked Shock Arrow to fill this capacity and help fuel Air Magic damage builds.
Lightning Orb's high cost, long cast, and projectile nature made it not worth its cost, so it now also applies Cracked Armor. The Blindness from Blinding Flash is now shorter, which will make it a less severe threat to those without condition removal. While Mind Blast enabled an interesting Fire Elementalist character to exist within GvG teams, the skill itself was slightly too good. In response, we raised the recharge and slightly reduced the Energy gain. Rodgort's Invocation had too low a recharge once the Energy cost was partially bypassed with Mind Blast, so we raised that to bring it more in-balance with other skills. Flame Djinn's Haste is a powerful, unconditional run speed increase that outperforms most other options, so we've encouraged players to bring it as more of a combat skill that has a dual function.
In our continuing efforts to better balance interruption, we've adjusted skills that serve a similar function as Power Leak but in a different way--namely interrupts that have meaningful, shutdown-style side-effects. Power Lock's recharge is shorter to make it more comparable to Power Leak, while Power Leak had its Energy denial reduced. Psychic Instability and Simple Thievery have been overhauled altogether. Simple Thievery is now an interrupt that also steals a skill, and Psychic Instability is now an interrupt that knocks down someone casting a spell. Enchanter's Conundrum still provided too much of a damage spike when combined with Shatter Delusions, so we moved the damage from when the hex ends to when the hex is applied. Imagined Burden's duration was frustratingly long, especially with Mantra of Persistence, so we reset its duration to a more manageable level. Finally, Cry of Frustration now costs less Energy to more appropriately match its effect.
As a character, the Necromancer has had a hard time finding a spot in GvG teams for some time. This called for some aggressive changes that we believe, over the course of multiple updates, will help this profession bring something essential to the fight without removing active play from the field. To start with, Soul Reaping needs to be made viable. Our first changes to this end are with Foul Feast and Wail of Doom. Foul Feast now provides strong condition manipulation, Energy management, and Health gain in a single non-elite skill. Wail of Doom expands on the concept of attribute reduction (also seen in Weakness and the skill Atrophy) as a role for this profession, reducing all of the target's attributes to 0 for a short time. This experimental change will prove if this is a viable and fun role for Necromancers.
Next, we made it easier for Necromancers to spread lower-impact conditions and manipulate existing conditions. Enfeeble, Enfeebling Blood, and Weaken Armor are now more powerful to facilitate quicker and more efficient condition spreading. Plague Sending has virtually no Energy pressure, and Plague Signet actually extends the duration of transferred conditions. We've also increased the Necromancer's ability to remove multiple enchantments in a single spell. Strip Enchantment now removes 1-2 enchantments and steals Health, while Rip Enchantment removes 1-2 enchantments and helps spread Bleeding (part of the plan to make this character more condition-heavy). Finally, Deathly Swarm and Vampiric Swarm have had their cast times reduced to 2 seconds to make them a sustainable source of multiple target pressure.
These are all radical changes that we will watch very closely.
The previous change to Heal Party made it too powerful in conjunction with Healer's Boon, so we've reverted the casting time back to 2 seconds. Guardian's recharge time was increased slightly to make an interruption or removal have a meaningful impact. Reversal of Damage was meant to be a staple skill of Smiting Monks, but was unfavorable with a high recharge time. Its new lower recharge should make it more viable. Symbol of Wrath and Kirin's Wrath no longer have an aftercast, as we've completely removed this concept.
Mending Refrain's irremovable nature and passive play meant that once established on a party, it would never go away. We've added significant Energy pressure to it by increasing the cost and decreasing the duration. Song of Restoration's overall effect has been reduced, both to apply more Energy pressure to Paragons and make this skill less effective at fueling Mending Refrain. To support the idea of an offensive Paragon, Barbed Spear and Blazing Spear now require less adrenaline.
Crippling Shot has outclassed most other elites as well as Pin Down more than it was meant to. Its ability to provide attack after attack that can't be blocked, especially coupled with its powerful Cripple application, simply made it too powerful. Consequently, Pin Down's recharge time is reduced, while Crippling Shot's is slightly increased. Likewise, Hunter's Shot was inferior to Screaming Shot; the faster attack makes it more comparable to Screaming Shot.
Secondary Ritualists were inflicting too much additional spike damage with Ancestors' Rage. We've adjusted the numbers so that a higher attribute investment is required to get similar damage out of it. Soothing Memories is less powerful than other healing options for Ritualists, even while holding a bundle item. We've brought the recharge and casting time down to balance it better with the alternatives. Death Pact Signet is now attributed to Restoration Magic so that it is not completely superior to Resurrection Signet.
Combination melee skills require a significant investment of skill slots to be successful. To further reward such investment, Axe Rake, Axe Twist, and Gash have had their adrenaline costs reduced. "Watch Yourself!" could be on a team indefinitely, and when coupled with no activation time or Energy cost, this was something that couldn't be stopped once it got rolling. The 1-3 incoming attack limit means it takes more conscious effort to time ot right and be effective. The block component of "Shields Up!" was nullifying condition spreading and Ranger interruption far too well, so we increased the armor buff while eliminating the chance to block. Magehunter's Smash now counters block-heavy teams by punching through enchantments that provide a block chance. Mokele's Smash provides some Energy-to-adrenaline conversion for hammer Warriors, who are often in greater need of adrenaline than Energy, and Lion's Comfort is a low-risk heal that can sustain itself while the character stays in combat. Sprint now recharges faster so that it is more in balance with other movement speed boosts.
Note: All skill ranges are for Attribute 0...12...15.
Grenth's Aura: decreased duration to 10 seconds; increased recharge time to 25 seconds; increased Energy cost to 15; increased casting time to 2 seconds.
Mystic Regeneration: decreased duration to 5...17...20 seconds; increased recharge time to 12 seconds.
Pious Assault: increased activation time to normal weapon attack activation time.
Wounding Strike: functionality changed to: "If this attack hits, target foe suffers from Bleeding for 5...17...20 seconds. If you are under the effects of an enchantment, target foe also suffers from a Deep Wound for 5...17...20 seconds".
Lightning Orb: functionality changed to: "Send out a lightning Orb that strikes target foe for 10...82...100 lightning damage and that foe has Cracked Armor for 5...17...20 seconds if it hits. This spell has 25% armor penetration.".
Mind Blast: decreased Energy gain to 1...7...8; increased recharge to 3 seconds.
Shock Arrow: increased recharge to 8 seconds; functionality changed to: "Send out a Shock Arrow that strikes for 5...41...50 lightning damage if it hits. If Shock Arrow strikes an attacking foe, you gain 1...7...9 Energy. This spell has 25% armor penetration.".
Enchanter's Conundrum: functionality changed to: "For 10 seconds, target foe casts enchantments 100% slower. When this hex is applied, that foe takes 30...102...120 damage if not under the effects of an enchantment spell".
Psychic Instability: this skill has been moved to the Fast Casting attribute; decreased casting time to .25 seconds; functionality changed to: "Interrupt target foe's action. If that action was a spell that foe is knocked down. (50% failure chance with Fast Casting 4 or less.)".
Simple Thievery: decreased casting time to .25 seconds; increased recharge to 10 seconds; decreased duration to 5...17...20 seconds; changed functionality to: "Interrupt target foe's action. If that action was a skill, that skill is disabled for 5...17...20 seconds, and Simple Thievery is replaced by that skill".
Deathly Swarm: decreased casting time to 2 seconds; increased recharge time to 6 seconds.
Enfeeble: decreased casting time to .25 seconds; increased duration to 10...26...30 seconds.
Enfeebling Blood: decreased Energy cost to 1; decreased casting time to 1 second; increased recharge to 8 seconds.
Foul Feast: decreased casting time to .25 seconds; decreased recharge time to 2 seconds; this skill has been moved to the Soul Reaping attribute; changed functionality to: "All conditions are transferred from target other ally to yourself. For each condition acquired in this way, you gain 0...36...45 Health and 0...2...3 Energy.".
Plague Signet: changed functionality to: "Transfer all negative conditions with their remaining durations lengthened by 100...180...200% from yourself to target foe".
Rip Enchantment: functionality changed to: "Remove 1 enchantment from target foe and that foe suffers from Bleeding for 5...21...25 seconds.".
Strip Enchantment: functionality changed to: "Remove 1...2...2 enchantments from target foe. If an enchantment is removed, you steal 5...53...65 Health.".
Vampiric Swarm: decreased casting time to 2 seconds; decreased recharge time to 8 seconds.
Wail of Doom: decreased Energy cost to 1; decreased recharge to 10 seconds; decreased duration to 1...3...4 seconds; changed skill type to hex; changed functionality to: "For 1...3...4 second[s], all of target foe's attributes are set to 0".
Weaken Armor: decreased casting time to 1 second; this skill now affects all adjacent foes.
Lion's Comfort: decreased adrenaline cost to 4 strikes; increased recharge time to 1 second; functionality changed to: "All of your signets are disabled for 12 seconds. You are healed for 50...98...110 Health, and gain 0...2...3 strike[s] of adrenaline.".
Magehunter's Smash: increased adrenaline cost to 7 strikes; functionality changed to: "If this attack hits, target foe is knocked down. If your target is under the effects of an enchantment, this attack cannot be blocked".
Mokele Smash: decreased recharge time to 12 seconds; increased adrenaline gain to 1...3...3.