Balance Suggestions 4-11-18

These changes are what I consider simplest and most important.  There are many other changes I would potentially make, some of which are as important as these, but these are the ones that I think might be reasonable in nature to expect in an upcoming balance patch.

Edit:  Please vote in the following polls if you have a strong opinion!

https://www.strawpoll.me/15487327

https://www.strawpoll.me/15490579

https://www.strawpoll.me/15490599

Firepowers:

Blackburn:
Entrench (dash mod) shields last an additional turn.

Reasoning:
This mod mostly sucks since you’re often dodging damage anyway, or at least often enough that it’s very situational, but with an extra turn on the shields it fits well into “things Blackburn needs.”  He’s very vulnerable after his dash and this mod would give him a potential playstyle to offset that a bit (and synergizes nicely with his self-healing capacities on other abilities).

Celeste:
Mending Mists now heals 10, up from 6, and costs 2 points, up from 1.

Reasoning:
Everyone loved this mod, powerful as it was, and Celeste has been less fun to play with the weaker version.  Restore its strength, but keep her primary nerfed and make her lose some mod effectiveness elsewhere.

Kaigin:
Shadowstalker cooldown reduced by 1 (from 6 to 5).
Cover of Night mod now reduces by 2, and costs 2 points.
Focused Fury now adds/subtracts 3, down from 4.
Feed on Fear and Essence Drain now gain health / energy PER void marked target.

Reasoning:
Kaigin’s invisibility pales in comparison to that of Nix or PuP.  It’s an essential aspect of his kit, as he doesn’t have the tankiness that literally every other melee in the game possesses, and the cooldown is just so long.  Reducing it by 1 is a nice help, and making Cover of Night a little more unique and playstyle-defining is good as well.  Sure, with Cover of Night you could get Shadowstalker down to a 3-turn cooldown, but that means a) you spent 2 mod points and a mod slot, b) it’s still only up every 4th turn, and remember it lasts only the 1 turn, and c) you have to take no other action that turn to benefit from Cover of Night!  That means every 4 turns you get invis, but every 4 turns you can’t attack in any way.  Fits Kaigin’s playstyle.

As for the other changes, Feed on Fear and Essence Drain are a bit underwhelming (especially given how hard it can be to stick on one void-marked target let alone multiple ones) and having at least the potential for some cool upside would make these mods more worth considering.  Focused Fury is taken by almost every Kaigin, so I would like to reduce its power level a bit.  This has the benefit not only of also helping the other primary mods become slightly more attractive, but also reducing Kaigin’s raw strength a bit, which is nice to offset the buffs to his invisibility — I don’t want him to be any stronger than he is now, per se, just more fun and flexible.

Oz:
Ultimate range up from 5 to 6. Faster than Light now only +1 (to 7 same as usual).
Primary Laser grants 8 energy, same 12 if you hit both.

Reasoning:
Faster Than Light is essentially a must-take in any serious situation, and it’s not good to be that pigeonholed into a single mod.  Making the base range 1 higher would open up a lot more mod diversity, and Faster Than Light would likely still see play.
As for the primary, it’s very common that you’ll only be able to hit with 1 laser on primary, and Oz desperately needs energy given how important his ultimate is to his ability to survive.  Dealing 28 damage and gaining 8 energy safely is quite nice, but not unfair given that Oz cannot reposition if he is turreting and is very vulnerable if his position is assaulted or exposed.

PuP:
Invis only 2 turns down from 3. Doesn’t grant Might.
Ult damage decreased by 5.
The target of Walkies no longer sprints.

Reasoning:
Absent a more substantial reworking of the kit, these changes are simply designed to reduce PuP’s power level.  Nerfing his invisibility makes him less volatile to play against, nerfing his ult is basically the “we wanted to throw a nerf somewhere so we put it here” philosophy that saw Lockwood’s ult similarly nerfed, and making the Walkies target no longer sprint also reduces the random moments of “PuP just pulled someone across the map, guess we just lost” which is very frustrating at all levels of play, even the highest ones.  PuP, like Quark, is a character that many view to be an extremely annoying opponent, and it is no accident that PuP, despite seeing relatively little play in high-level competitive and fourlancer play, still sees very frequent bans in SoloQ (as he’s just annoying to play against).

Tol-Ren:
Ultimate no longer refunds energy if you miss. New 1-point mod in place of Spirit Wrack:  Spirit Back (1 point) — refunds 50 energy if the target dashes.

Reasoning:
No one else in the game gets a freebie if they miss an ultimate.  Why should Tol-Ren?  Tol-Ren is considered overpowered by many top players right now, and this change seems like a sensible place to start.  The ultimate already gives a dash, 52 damage and a knockdown.  To be able to use it at will with relatively little downside makes the game less interesting.  Good Tol-Ren players will (or should) be smart about when to use their ult.  And if you want this effect, here it is as a 1-point mod, just like Lockwood and Garrison (and to a lesser extent Magnus) have on their ults.

Zuki:
Energy on primary and Big One are each now 10 IF YOU HIT a target, not 10 PER target.

Reasoning:
Zuki is quite strong right now, and her energy gains seem to be an easy target without spoiling her kit any.  It’s a little crazy how much energy her primary and Big One generate.  I might also suggest a change along the lines of making her primary’s splash damage not ignore cover so easily, but we’ll leave that for now.

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Frontlines:

Asana:
Damage on primary reduced by 1.
Damage on dash reduced by 2.

Reasoning:
Asana is very strong right now, but as she is a lot of fun to play and not too frustrating to play against, it makes sense to leave most of her strength intact.  Accordingly, these are just some minor damage nerfs that won’t really affect her ability to output good damage or her impressive survivability, but just helps bring her back down to earth a little bit.  It’s a start.

Brynn:
Damage on primary reduced by 2.

Reasoning:
Brynn has lots of survivability with her Aegis, and her CC and damage are both way up!  She’s also very strong.  We could nerf her hp pool, but frontliners are supposed to have good hp pools.  Her primary has very long range, longer than most frontlines, so it seemed like the most logical place to do some adjustment.

Isadora:
Cannonball (dash mod) now increases damage by 6 (down from 8) and reduces shields by 6 (down from 8).
Base damage on dash increased by 1.
Base damage on primary increased by 1.

Reasoning:
Isadora is not as scary as she used to be, so a small primary damage buff seems appropriate.  As for her dash, many many folks take the Cannonball mod and it seems a bit extreme in power.  This change is meant to reduce the power level of the mod slightly while increasing Isadora’s dash damage for those who do not take the mod, to help mod diversity.

Rask:
Hit points reduced by 20.

Reasoning:
It’s clear that the devs want Rask to deal damage, as all four of his damaging abilities were buffed in the frontline patch (the ultimate damage buff has since been reverted).  So I don’t want to take away Rask’s damage.  The issue I have heard expressed more frequently is that it is too difficult to kill Rask.  Of course, he gains energy from taking damage, but in my mind that actually makes nerfing his hp pool a perfect change — he is still scary and damaging, and gets scarier when taking damage, but must watch his own health a bit more, as sort of a risk-reward aspect.  (In general, frontlines seem a bit too tanky given their damage output, but I am trying to address just the most important changes.)  20 hp is a lot, of course, but Rask is an extremely common ban right now, so the nerf might actually help him see more play.

Titus:
Dagger deals only 12 damage if triggered the same turn it is used.

Reasoning:
Some folks have expressed frustration with the fact that there isn’t much counterplay to a Titus dagger.  Dash?  You’re screwed.  Didn’t dash?  Someone likely still pops it and you take 25 damage.  This change makes Titus players have to think a bit more about how to use their dagger, and makes it less punishing for targets of his dagger, who are already revealed and marked, without nerfing the major draw of the ability.

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Support:

Su-Ren:
Shifting Winds cooldown reduced by 1 (from 5 to 4).

Reasoning:
Su-Ren’s power level is decent (though her damage is low) — but she’s a lot of fun and high-skill to use, so it’d be nice to have her closer to the level of Orion, Aurora, Finn.  I thought of an interesting Spirit Bend change (Su gains the effect as well, in addition to the targeted ally or enemy — though of course unless she has an ultimate active that turn she’ll only be able to make use of the buff the following turn), but it seemed more complex.  I also thought about making the “reduce cooldown on dash if you don’t use the second one” mod reduce by 2 turns instead of 1, to sort of support that as a potential mod choice and playstyle.  But ultimately, Su-Ren has quite a few turns where she cannot do much, and her dash is a lot of fun to use (and not that oppressive to play against, given that it is predictable).  So a simple cooldown reduction seemed OK, as a sort of basic change to her.

Khita:
Take Aim! cooldown reduced by 1 (from 4 to 3).
Leaf in the Wind effect now BASELINE.
New mod on primary:  Soothing Shot (2 points) (default) — hitting an enemy with Warped Arrow restores 4 health to Khita.

Reasoning:
Khita doesn’t see very much play.  It’s hard to be a hybrid role between damage and healing.  If she can be a successful solo healer, why choose anyone else?  However, Khita is quite fun and skill-testing and deserves a bit more time in the sun, and these changes seem reasonable.  Take Aim! having a reduced cooldown puts it more in line with other healing abilities.  Sure, it’s a free action, but it requires your allies to hit a specific target, and can be countered entirely with a smart dash.  Plus, Khita cannot use it in disengage scenarios to top her team back up, which already puts her at a disadvantage compared to every other support except Helio.

As for the primary, Leaf in the Wind is tons of fun and skill-testing to use, so why take anything else?  But if that’s the case, why not just make that effect baseline and free up a few mod points on primary as a minor buff for Khita?  The mod I chose to replace it with makes a lot of sense — it gives a different sort of effect and does not seem like an obvious auto-pick, yet still a good default option.  It also lets Khita be a bit more survivable, which is nice given that she has far fewer hit points than the other supports, and lets her focus her healing effects on her teammates a little more (rather than herself), which is always nice for supports to be able to do.

Hope you enjoyed — and if the devs are reading, hey, these changes would look real nice on the next patch notes.

(Looking forward to the new map, too.  Heard it’s VR-themed.  My map concept suggestion was already Helio Corps themed, so I won’t choose that…I think I’d need to really see this map in action to know what to name it, unfortunately.)

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