In this update, we're doing an extensive overhaul of the Dervish. We've taken a close look at this profession and determined that it has a lot of unique and interesting mechanics, ranging from avatar skills to enchantments that have end effects. However, these fun and original mechanics are hampered by cast times and long disables, making it hard to utilize this profession to its full potential. To address these problems and make the Dervish a truly great class, we've made major changes to nearly every skill he uses. This may seem overwhelming and confusing at first, but we feel that these changes will make the Dervish a much more enjoyable character to play, while emphasizing the types of skill interactions that defined him to begin with.
We approached this update for the Dervish by first examining what role we'd like him to fulfill. At the moment, the Dervish fulfills a hodgepodge of roles, including melee fighter, condition applier, PBAoE spellcaster, and healer. However, none of these roles really defines the Dervish in the same way that "minion master" describes Necromancers or "nuker" describes Elementalists. When developing a defined role for the Dervish, we looked at what types of gameplay mechanics his skills tended to have. Of these mechanics, we determined which ones added value to parties in PvE and PvP.
After much thought and iteration, we settled on the idea of the Dervish as a "pressure" character who excels at dealing consistent damage and harassing multiple enemies. While he won't do as much direct damage to single targets as, say, an axe warrior, his overall damage across multiple targets will be much higher. Also unlike the Warrior, the Dervish is more vulnerable to Energy denial and enchantment removal, but less vulnerable to conditions. Because his defense comes in the form of enchantments and is more vulnerable to foes with removal, the Dervish has a couple of other offensive advantages: he's better at spreading conditions and has more enchantment-removal abilities. While the Dervish has many powerful abilities, many of his stronger skills are "teardown" abilities, skills which remove an enchantment in order to get a stronger effect.
Mysticism: changed functionality to: "Each rank in Mysticism reduces the cost of your Dervish enchantments by 4%. You have +1 armor per rank of Mysticism while you are enchanted."
The Mysticism attribute is a key element of our change to Dervish. It's former implementation supported the idea of removing enchantments to gain a benefit, but made it difficult to manage Energy. Moving the Energy savings from the end to the front of the enchantment simplifies the overall play of the Dervish. It also allows players to focus on removing enchantments because they want the effect, not because they need the Energy for another spell. This change prevents the problem of accidentally recasting an enchantment before it ends, thereby losing the Energy gain entirely. In addition, it stops the Energy management unpredictability that occurs when dealing with enemies who can strip your enchantments.
We've also replaced the Health bonus on Mysticism with an armor bonus. Even with enchantments, the old Dervish was a little too squishy for a character intended to fight on the front lines. This small boost to armor allows him the survivability he needs and emphasizes his reliance on enchantments. While the Dervish does have many skills that remove his own enchantments, the volume of his enchantments should be enough to keep him enchanted most of the time.
The avatar skills are unique to the Dervish profession and help define its identity. Previously, however, their effects were so strong that they needed to have a long disable time; this made them difficult to use. We decided that these skills would be much more fun if they could be maintained permanently. We adjusted their effects accordingly, to keep them balanced against the fact that they cannot be removed. Additionally, we gave all of them unique active effects that require teardown to use, making the play they provide much more dynamic overall.
Avatar skills like Balthazar and Melandru—previously providing only passive bonuses—were given active effects that require skill usage to activate them. Additionally, avatar forms that previously affected only the Dervish now have effects that benefit the party or send negative effects to enemies; this is true for the avatars of Dwayna and Grenth respectively. Because some of the party-wide effects (specifically those from the Dwayna and Melandru avatars) are very powerful, they were split for PvP and only apply their effects to the Dervish in these formats. Our testing revealed that stacking damage with Elementalist conjure spells was a little too effective in conjunction with some avatars, so we've also given each avatar themed damage-types to prevent this.
Since their release, Dervishes have used enchantments to fuel other skills. A major focus with this update was addressing problems with this "teardown" style of play. The dynamic of tearing down enchantments for bonus effects can be fun, but is contingent on two factors: The first factor is that having the enchantments go up must not interfere with combat. The second is that enchantment removal skills must feel sufficiently powerful to compensate for the lost enchantment.
Flash enchantments: a flash enchantment has no casting time or aftercast, but disables all other flash enchantments for 1 second when cast.
To address the casting speed, we've made several of the Dervish enchantments into "flash enchantments." This new type of enchantment can be cast while moving and between attacks, but is otherwise identical to regular enchantment spells. They cannot be cast while knocked down or while activating other skills, and enchantment removal skills like Shatter Enchantment will still remove them. Flash enchantments disable other flash enchantments for a brief duration when they are cast; this paces the stacking of enchantments and prevents compressed damage spikes.
To improve the power level of the teardown combo, we had to look at both the teardown skills and the enchantments that were being torn down.
Enchantment-removal skills: enchantment-removal skills now only remove Dervish enchantments. Dervish enchantments are now indicated by a blue border in your effects monitor.
While removing enchantments is a fun mechanic, its enjoyability and effectiveness depend on having enough control to remove the enchantment you want when you want it. By limiting removal skills to Dervish-only enchantments, there is less risk of removing a beneficial enchantment and less risk of having your desired enchantment blocked by having another enchantment put on you. Changing the colors on the enchantment borders helps you recognize at a glance if you have enough fuel for your next teardown skill. This is especially useful in the heat of combat, when you may have multiple effects on your character at the same time.
Because limiting removal skills to only Dervish enchantments makes them harder to use, we've increased the power of some of them to compensate.
Eremite's attack is now a circular attack that sacrifices an enchantment. Irresistible Sweep gains utility in its ability to remove stances. Pious Assault had its Deep Wound removed to become a skill that can rapidly tear down enchantments for AoE damage. Rending Sweep's difficult hex condition was replaced with an easier enchantment-removal condition. Twin Moon Sweep keeps its Health gain, but is now unblockable and heals for more Health. Wearying Strike and Wounding Strike both require removal now, since Deep Wound is a strong condition Dervishes can apply to multiple targets. Most of these attack skills have unconditional effects as well, so failing to remove an enchantment is not quite as bad.
Teardown skills also require strong enchantments to power them. In addition to changing many enchantments to flash enchantments—which makes them easier to combo with—we've also improved the effectiveness of others by making their ending effects more powerful. Because the damage on many of these enchantments was intended primarily to make up for the casting time, we've seen fit to lower or even remove the flat damage on some of these skills. Many enchantments also had their recharges lowered so that they'll be available when you need teardown skills. The Energy cost was raised in response to this change, to prevent spamming. However, the changes to Mysticism and the addition of adrenaline skills should prevent any major Energy problems when using Dervish primaries.
This update added adrenaline costs to the Dervish skills, so we felt it would be useful to have a skill that boosts adrenaline gain. Since Balthazar's Rage had a somewhat weak effect anyway, we decided this would work for that purpose.
While it is not a flash enchantment, the strong Energy management provided by the new Eremite's Zeal makes it a valuable teardown skill; it can be used to power one teardown skill, while giving you Energy for another.
Grenth's Fingers was a poor skill due to its casting time and somewhat weak end effect. We made it a flash enchantment for easier use and changed the end condition to make it more desirable for condition management.
Guiding Hands was rather powerful, but needed more of an effect to warrant a slot on most bars. Blindness removal seemed to fit the bill and worked well with the name of the skill. Guaranteed hits are dangerous in PvP, however, so we left the recharge the same in the split version.
Dervishes have a large number of skills that boost run speed (more about this in a later section), so Lyssa's Haste seemed like a good candidate for reworking to provide more utility.
Mirage Cloak is a good skill that was limited mainly by its overly-high Energy cost. We reduced this cost and added a recharge to make it more usable in general. The damage on this skill was moved to the front in order to prevent spikes through damage compression, and the block chance now scales, requiring investment in Earth Prayers.
We are reworking Sand Shards to fulfill a more PvE-oriented role—similar to Splinter Weapon. This will enhance the AoE capabilities of the Dervish. The previous functionality of Sand Shards has been moved to Mystic Sandstorm, with a few changes that are discussed later.
Staggering Force was another somewhat weak enchantment that we felt could provide more utility. In this case, it provides Cracked Armor when it is removed.
As an Energy-management skill, Zealous Renewal was poor, due to its delayed effect. We've changed it to provide Energy for attacking, and we gave it a small refund at the end if you remove it. This second change allows it to be used as a teardown enchantment and as Energy management.
The scythe is already a unique weapon, possessing the ability to hit multiple foes at once. We noticed, however, that this weapon enjoys much more popularity in classes other than Dervish, due to its high critical damage and the high bonus damage from skills. When professions like Assassin or Warrior use the scythe, they can use their primary attributes to get much more damage out of it than a primary Dervish. Similarly, Rangers wielding scythes can use attack skills more frequently due to Expertise. We've made several changes to address this discrepancy.
Scythe critical hits: reduced the amount of damage done by scythe critical hits.
Scythe attack speed: increased scythe attack speed.
Adrenaline cost: many scythe skills now cost adrenaline instead of Energy.
Scythe bonus damage: scythe attacks that do not remove an enchantment have had their bonus damage reduced or their functionality changed.
To reduce some of the effectiveness of Assassins using scythes, we have decreased the critical hit modifier. This puts more emphasis on having high Scythe Mastery to do damage, rather than on high critical hit chance. To keep the average damage the same, we've increased the speed of normal scythe attacks. Overall, this means that the Dervish will do slightly more damage per second than before, but the damage will be more consistent and less prone to large spikes of damage in short periods of time. The change to adrenaline cost and the lower damage on non-teardown scythe attacks prevent Rangers from spamming scythe attacks that do high-bonus damage at low cost. They also put more emphasis on enchantment use with scythes, an area in which Dervishes have an advantage due to Mysticism.
Giving Cracked Armor to Dervishes allows them to be more effective in high-level PvE, while simultaneously making them unique as a melee class. By moving the skill to Mysticism, the Dervish gains a unique advantage when using a scythe. While the Dervish has two other ways to inflict Cracked Armor, these spells are prohibitively expensive without Mysticism and are ineffective without another skill to remove them.
Chilling Victory is a fun and powerful Dervish skill, but the Energy cost made it difficult to use. We switched this skill to use adrenaline, to better manage Energy and meter its usage in combat. To emphasize the Dervish ability to deal AoE damage, we toned down the single-target damage that this skill deals, but allowed it to deal its damage multiple times for each foe hit. If it's used in a group of foes, it will do considerably more damage than the old version. Because of these changes, we are comfortable removing the previous PvP split on this skill.
Reducing damage on scythe critical hits made it less threatening to run from a Dervish. We preserved some of that threat by adding bonus damage against moving targets to this skill. Dervishes are now encouraged to remove their enchantments more often, so we also removed scaling Cripple duration.
This skill only inflicted Cripple, which we thought made it a little lackluster. So we added some extra AoE damage and the chance to Cripple multiple foes, giving this skill more appeal.
Interrupts are an important utility skill that Dervishes lack when compared to other martial classes. Because we made so many improvements to the Dervish's Energy management, this skill's old functionality became less useful; therefore, we reworked the skill to give Dervishes a utility interrupt.
Radiant Scythe is a great fit for an adrenaline scythe skill. Still with good damage, and now with an Energy gain, Radiant Scythe provides a combination of killing power and utility.
With a high cost and weak conditional healing, Reap Impurities was difficult to use without proper planning and setup. To give it more interesting play, we changed the cost to adrenaline and modified the functionality to play off of conditions inflicted by flash enchantments.
As mentioned earlier, we reduced the damage on non-teardown scythe attacks to focus the Dervish character less on burst damage. Especially in conjunction with the faster attack speed on scythes, we didn't want the damage on skills like this one to overshadow the power of teardown combos.
Zealous Sweep is already a skill that encourages striking more than one foe. This fits in nicely with our goals for Dervish. Adding adrenaline gain to this skill helps it fit in better with the Dervish's new types of attack skills.
Dervishes have several skills that are difficult to use and difficult to apply well in combat. In many cases, this is due to restrictions on the skill that prevent it from being too powerful. However, some skills are unwieldy due simply to their functionality. We addressed some of these skills in the earlier section on teardown enchantments and scythe attacks, but other skills can also be improved to support the role we envision for the Dervish.
Ebon Dust Aura has historically been a difficult skill to balance, due to its power of continually Blinding an opponent. We've changed this skill to be an elite version of Dust Cloak, which also boosts the damage of attacks while wielding an earth weapon. This makes it into a versatile teardown enchantment that cannot output the same overwhelming amount of Blind as the older version.
With the abundance of enchantment-removal skills that Dervishes possess and the difficulty of finding a good balance for this skill in the past, we felt it was necessary to rework Grenth's Aura into a more useful skill. In keeping with the theme of Grenth, this skill now provides life-stealing abilities for the Dervish. To prevent abuse daggers, which have low damage and fast attack rates, this skill only works with scythes.
Previously, Heart of Fury was trying to do too much. As a simple stance that increases attack speed, it can act as a staple skill for many Dervish bars. Because of the increase in attack speed for scythes in general, it was necessary to limit the Dervish to only 25% increased attack speed.
Pious Renewal is a difficult skill to use, so we reworked it as a flash enchantment that can be used as an infinite feeder enchantment for teardown skills.
Shield of Force had some promise as a defensive skill, but its cast time made it impractical to use on demand. This change improved the effect of the skill for knockdown and Weakness, to give the Dervish a quick breather from all attacking foes.
This skill has a decent synergy with Armor of Sanctity, but generally there is little reason to Cripple a foe who is already attacking you. Because of this, we've reworked Veil of Thorns to provide defense against spellcasters.
With Heart of Fury changing to a stance, it became impractical to maintain this skill while still having access to faster attack speed. As a result, we altered this skill to be an enchantment.
To support Dervish presence in elite areas, we changed Vow of Strength to be more like Hundred Blades. Their duration and recharge are not the same, however; this reflects the difference between an unremovable buff skill and an enchantment.
The Dervish class centers on enchantments; this makes it difficult to use skills that require you to be not enchanted and skills which tear down all of your enchantments. This problem can also go the opposite direction with skills that require many enchantments to be effective. We already addressed the issue of skill-removal enchantments being difficult to use, but we also wanted to improve the functionality of these other types of skills.
The double loss of all enchantments on this skill made it viable in a very small set of situations. We reworked the skill as a simple buff that increases the length of your next enchantment. Because this has potential for abuse when used with skills like Shadowform and Spell Breaker, we limited its use to Dervish enchantments only.
The Dervish already has several strong options for healing, so we decided to rework this skill entirely. We put the Energy gain from old Mysticism on this skill to support some of the more niche spellcaster Dervish builds.
Natural Healing provided less healing while enchanted; this disadvantage held it back from being a viable skill. We switched the disadvantage to its casting time, allowing it to still be used reliably when you are enchanted. While we don't expect this skill to see a lot of use on mainstream Dervish builds, it now has a place on niche builds and builds which use Dervish as a secondary profession.
Making enchantment removal a fun play-style was difficult, considering that several Dervish skills scale their power based on the number of enchantments you have. This means that you often don't want to remove enchantments because that makes another skill less powerful. Several Mystic skills now have improved functionality if you are enchanted, rather than improving based on the number of enchantments you have. This change has the additional benefit of not loading down the Dervish's skill bar with enchantments just for the sake of boosting other skills--and it lets us give these skills more utility. We did not change all skills in this way, however, as some Mystic skills were not losing out on usage because of scaling.
Extending the duration of conditions usually has questionable benefits, so we reworked Mystic Corruption to inflict a condition.
Mystic Healing is now easier to use as a party healing enchantment without loading your bar down with other enchantments. The strength of party healing needs to be closely regulated in PvP, so we decided to split this skill.
The condition of losing all your enchantments makes this skill unusable in most situations. We provided this skill with a stronger functionality than the old Sand Shards to make it a viable damage-over-time skill for the Dervish. Being enchanted when you cast this skill simply increases its duration.
Mystic Sweep was changed to only require one enchantment for a bonus effect. It was moved to Mysticism to prevent abuse on other classes.
Instead of having Mystic Twister count targets based on the number of enchantments you've got on you, we changed the effect to rely on a single enchantment for extra damage. We also lowered the radius to keep this skill balanced.
Mystic Vigor didn't need many changes in order to make it a strong skill; simply increasing Health per enchantment was enough to make it more useful.
Wind Prayers is full of skills which increase running speed, but the run-speed cap makes it undesirable to use more than one. Additionally, this attribute line has several redundant skills for Crippling foes and removing enchantments. This causes competition between many of Wind Prayer's skills. We changed the functionality of these skills to give the Dervish greater utility and reduce some inter-attribute competition. On the other hand, a large discrepancy exists between the Earth Prayers and Wind Prayers lines: Earth ends up generally being more useful in PvE, whereas Wind is generally more useful in PvP. This happens because most Dervish defensive skills are in Earth, but Wind has most of the run boosts. We adjusted skills in each line to provide some functionality from the other line, making it easier to try a different line while retaining the most important functionality in your build.
With the change to Lyssa's Assault and other 10 Energy Dervish attack skills, Attacker's Insight lost much of its original purpose. We reworked this skill to be a blocking option in Wind Prayers. To prevent overly defensive play with this skill and skills like Armor of Sanctity and Shield of Force, we made the radius adjacent, not nearby. This should make it harder to offensively apply Weakness to foes with these skills.
With the change to Grenth's Fingers, Wind Prayers gained a strong anti-condition skill. Because Earth already has a good block skill in Mirage Cloak, we reworked Conviction and merged its versions. Now the skill is useful when facing many conditions.
Along with being another run boost in Wind Prayers, Enchanted Haste was also another skill that encouraged you not to remove enchantments. We reworked this skill to be a generic run boost that also provides some condition defense.
Now that avatar skills can be maintained without Eternal Aura, we changed this skill to provide a unique function for Dervish. This skill now automatically resurrects all party members if you die, as well as providing a teardown option for earlier resurrection.
Self-knockdown skills are difficult to justify in a bar, even when they can be prevented. This change adds a valuable run-speed skill to the Earth Prayers line and removes the skill's previous downside.
While Grenth's Grasp had a few strong builds behind it, it needed to do more than just Cripple to qualify as a strong Elite skill. We added a small amount of utility, in the same theme as Grenth's Fingers, to encourage the use of this skill.
Harrier's Grasp was one more in a long list of redundant Dervish Crippling skills. While its name lent itself to acting as a Cripple, the skill needed more appeal. As a flash enchantment with a shorter recharge and Cripple removal, this skill is now much more viable for chasing a fleeing foe.
Harrier's Haste was already sufficiently interesting; we left its functionality alone. However, we switched it to a flash enchantment, making it a viable feeder enchantment for a teardown skill after chasing down a target.
With revisions to Rending Touch, Winds of Disenchantment, and Rending Sweep, we thought Intimidating Aura could use some work to provide a different type of use for Dervish. As a long-lasting enchantment, this new version of the skill works defensively to improve Dervish durability.
Onslaught is an elite that currently finds use on various Dervish bars due to its faster attack and faster movement speed. With the addition of adrenal skills, we thought it was appropriate to give this skill a small buff.
Like Pious Fury, Pious Haste could have a place in builds that sacrifice enchantments, but the removal at the end made it difficult to control. We moved the enchantment removal to the skill's activation and added a a faster speed boost to make it worthwhile.
Being a retribution-style skill, Rending Aura saw little use outside of specialized builds. We changed this skill to be the equivalent of Staggering Force for the Wind Prayers line, giving it a teardown option to get Cracked Armor.
With the addition of Daze, Test of Faith's functionality separates it from other enchantment-removal spells in the Dervish arsenal.
We based the revised version of Whirling Charge on the warrior skill Enraging Charge, but added an AoE damage component instead of bonus adrenaline. This skill should be very powerful in conjunction with a Dervish's opening charge into a group of foes.
The increased number of adrenaline skills available for Dervish and the front-loaded reduction in spells granted by Mysticism made Zealous Vow into an overpowered Energy engine. The Energy and scaling were toned down on this skill, forcing a more committed investment in attribute points and bringing this skill in line with other Dervish Elites.
With the ease of Cracked Armor application that Dervish now have, it became apparent during testing that Body Blow was a valuable skill for Dervish even with no attribute investment. We've rescaled the duration on the Deep Wound for this skill such that primary Dervish cannot use it. We are not concerned about Warrior use of Dervish Cracked Armor skills because they are either linked to Mysticism or prohibitively expensive for Warriors to use.