Today we're pushing out a follow up to our November GvG update. This update addresses some missing or weak elements from the last update. We also revisit some older updates that may have gone too far or not far enough.
While the last update was successful in getting the Ritualist into GvG play, it did not change the fact that the runner is often the single point of failure on a team. Several factors make defending against pressure on a runner seem futile.
Healing Burst was intended as an alternate skill for a backline monk, to take some party healing pressure off the Ritualist. However, the attribute split on Healing Burst made it undesirable for the already-strained monk bars, so we've upped the single target heal on this skill to allow Monks to spec less into Healing Prayers and more into Divine Favor. We examined common Monk bars and found that, except for Word of Healing and Signet of Rejuvenation, most of these bars would make up the healing lost from points in Healing Prayers with points in Divine Favor.
Shadow Walk allowed Assassins to easily jump to the runner to apply pressure, and then Shadow Step away for an essentially free escape if someone attacked them. The change to Shadow Walk simply makes the Assassin commit to his charge and gives defenders a chance to collapse on him. Weapon of Shadow was changed to allow the Ritualist a more active measure of defense when he or his spirits are attacked by these Assassins. Crippling Shot and Freezing Gust, also powerful skills in pressuring runners, were also toned down a bit for this reason and for reasons listed later.
The strength of enchantment removals is one part of strong pressure builds that we didn't address in the previous update.
Shadow Walk: removed existing restriction on enchantments; added the following functionality: "Your stances and enchantments are disabled for 10 seconds".
Weapon of Shadow: added the following functionality: "The next 0...2...3 times that ally hits with an attack, his target is Blinded for 5 seconds".
In the last few months, Assault Enchantments has been used to continually keep a target free of enchantments. While it's not unheard of for a skill to remove all of the enchantments on a foe (Rend Enchantments generally removes them all), it is unusual for a skill like this to have such a low cycle time. We've increased the recharge on this skill so that an Assassin who has built up a full attack chain cannot continually use this skill to strip a target of enchantments over a short period of time.
To further limit the frequency with which he can perform this strong combo, we've also increased the recharge of the offhand attacks that lead up to them. Finally, Strip Enchantment has had its enchantments scaled and its recharge increased slightly. This will prevent the skill from being used on characters besides dedicated Blood Magic Necromancers. Strip Enchantment was originally buffed to promote the use of Blood Magic, but recent improvements to the Blood Magic line make its strength unnecessary.
We also revisited some changes made in previous updates to promote greater build diversity.
Strip Enchantment: decreased number of enchantments removed to 0...2...2; increased recharge to 20 seconds.
With last month's change to Barbed Signet, we created a skill that allows Blood Necromancers to easily meet the prerequisite for the energy gain on Angorodon's Gaze. This freed up many attribute points which had previously been used on Masochism for energy management. We've moved Angorodon's to Soul Reaping to restore this attribute pressure. This change has the added benefit of promoting Curses builds, which can have energy management issues, but also have self-condition inflicting skills.
Foul Feast and Melandru's Shot were over-nerfed in a previous balance patch and subsequently fell out of play. We've given these skills slight buffs to put them somewhere between their previously overpowered states and current underpowered states. Chain Lightning was buffed to give a small damage boost to Air Elementalists, who commonly only play blind spammers in GvG. Draw Conditions was weakened a bit to help their Blinds stick more often, and Crippling Shot has had a similar recharge increase to promote Melandru's Shot. Invoke Lightning isn't a skill that sees play in PvP, but we've given it a buff to coincide with the buff to Chain Lightning.
Finally, we have made a few small changes that address some consistency issues.
Angorodon's Gaze: changed attribute to Soul Reaping; increased Energy gain to 5...13...15; increased Health stealing to 10...42...50.
Foul Feast: decreased Energy gain to 0...2...2 per condition; decreased recharge to 4; added the following functionality: "This skill recharges twice as fast if you remove Disease from your target".
To be consistent with a previous change to Spell Breaker, Aegis no longer causes energy loss on a failed spell. We also noticed that most Water Magic snare hexes typically last about 2/3rds of their total recharge. Freezing Gust was the exception to this rule—and was too strong, as well—so we've toned it down accordingly. Currently, Patient Spirit heals the target even when it is removed prematurely. This was at odds with other "wait for effect" skills like Wastrel's Worry that have no effect if they are removed early, so we changed it for uniformity.
Aegis: removed existing failure effect for spells; added the following functionality: "Target other party member cannot be the target of hostile spells".
Freezing Gust: decreased duration to 1...4...5 seconds; increased recharge to 7 seconds.
Patient Spirit: added the following functionality: "No effect if ends early".
After these two consecutive updates to GvG, we are planning to take a short break from targeted updates and focus our balance efforts on the new Dervish skills. We don't expect these changes to have any major negative impact on the metagame, but we will continue to monitor the situation and act as needed.
Note: All skill ranges are for Attribute 0...12...15.