Notice: A Work in Progress. And as always, all numbers here are just placeholders to give a general picture of how it might be like. While they are of course open to discussion, please also let me know how you think about the ideas proposed here.
- To retain the identity of the existing traits and associated utility and weapon skills, and:
- To develop unique, thematically and functionally interesting identity further upon and around what we currently have.
- To use only existing mechanics and effects for best applicability.
- To introduce a new role, particularly for though not limited to WvW.
Identity: What Does It Mean to 'Support'?
Here is a list of notable functions and effects the Tactics specialization and its associated skills provide:
- Soft CC — Fear and Weakness ('Fear Me!'), Blind (Smoldering Arrow)
- Recon — Revealed effect ('On My Mark!')
- Are of effect spam — (Longbow skills)
- Empowering allies — Empowered, Empower Allies, Phalanx Strength, Warhorn skills and 'For Great Justice!'
- Recovery — Cleansing ('Shake/Shrug It Off!', Warhorn skills) & Healing (Vigorous Shouts)
- Singling out targets — Immobilize (Pin Down), Vulnerability ('On My Marks!')
To Differentiate Thematically
From here we can see, unlike the fourth specialization of other professions (with their focus primarily on recovery), Tactics and its associated skills provides a wide variety of functions, many of them directed to foes instead of allies, to preemptively mitigate incoming damage by hindering enemy effectiveness in combat, to reinforce allies' capability of offense, and to create opportunity to pressure on the opponents in order to lift the pressure from allies.
- Such a mix of both offensive and defensive functions, both in effect help with the allies sustain on the battlefield, differentiate itself from, say, Guardian, with its function heavily skewed toward building up group defense. Warrior, on the other hand, supports its allies in a much more flexible way.
- The way the specialization support its allies is also different from, say, Banners, being more demanding on timing to perform on call (particularly Shouts and Warhorn; audio cues, specific, responsive), instead of to maintain the effectiveness and to standardize via good Discipline (Banners; visual cues, general, long-lasting).
- The skirmish aspect is also different from Ranger's Skirmish, with the later more focused on being evasive, while one the hand Warrior being more suppressive, particularly with Longbow.
Deciding the Themes
Inspired by real world military tactics, I'd propose three sets of traits, each taking a horizontal line in the specialization.
- The first line will be skirmishing and tactical maneuver, with its focus on disrupting enemy formation (Taunt), suppression before clashing in melee (Longbow) and envelopment. (Bonus on Flanking). (Similar to Light/Medium Cavalry IRL)
- The second line will be frontal shock action and routing, with its focus on preparation (Might sharing), shock effect (soft CC upon disabling) and taking down routing or lagging enemies (immobilization). (Similar to Heavy Cavalry IRL)
- The third line will be reserved for functions that help allies recover and reorganize, taking in the good old traits for Shouts and Warhorn and to enhance them further.
- Adept, minor: Vanguard — Striking an invisible enemy reveals enemies around you. (Revealed for 3 s with CD 45 s within a radius of 600. If multiple enemies are hit by a single strike, they all get revealed. The radius limit is meant to prevent people from exploiting the range of Longbow or Rifle and spam AoE around.)
- Master, minor: — Element of Surprise — Grant Might to allies when you enter combat. (6 stacks for 6 s; numbers of allies: 5). Attacking enemies from its flank or behind grants might to your allies. (1 stacks for 4 s with no ICD; numbers of allies: 5) (Edit: Sep. 10th, based on feedback by @RedShark.9548)
- Gradmaster, minor: Rearguard — Reduce incoming damage while reviving. Heal and grant might to nearby allies when you rally or successfully revive someone. (Previously Determined Revival and Reviver's Might mergerd together.)
Vigorous Rehabilitation — Grant Vigor to allies when you use a healing skill. (Duration 8 s)
Grant Might (3 stacks for 10 s) to allies and Slow down foes (for 3 s) around you upon entering combat. hitting an enemy from side of behind. (ICD: 30 s)
Boons you apply onto allies last longer. (15%) Edit on Sep. 8th: Heal allies when you grant them Boon. (Proposed by @Lan Deathrider.5910 in their comment below)
Skirmishing and Maneuver
- Adept: Provocative Skirmisher — Fear you deal becomes Taunt. Enemies feared or taunted by you gain 5 stacks of Vulnerability for 5 s over time. Taunted enemies deal less damage to you. (10% damage reduction.)
- Master: Fire for Effect (previously Burning Arrows) — Dual shot causes burning and longbow skills recharge faster. (Unchanged.) Smoldering Arrow becomes Smoldering Sulfur, in addition to its previous effect, creatings an AoE that pulses Weakening and Poison each second for 1 s over 2 s. (Total number of application: 3)
- Grandmaster: Pincer Movement — Deal 10% more damage when attacking from the flank or behind of your foes. Attacking from the flank or behind of your foes cast Lesser 'On My Marks' on them (with the duration of the effects reduced to 3 s; CD 25 s).
Shock, Routing, Chasing down
- Adept: Line of Departure — When you grant yourself might while out of combat, grant it to nearby allies as well. The sharing effect is again available (refreshed) for 5 s every time you grant yourself Vigor. (Similar to the refreshment mechanic of Ranger's Opening Strike) (Edited Sep. 9th for better clarity)
- Master: Shock Tactics — Inflict Slow and Weakness on enemies you disable (3 s with no CD).
- Grandmaster: Leg Specialist — Immobilize a target when you cripple them with a skill. Targets you crippled are also immobilized (1 s with 5 s ICD; the recharge is set on each individual target that this trait triggers on, as of Thief's Lotus Poison.) Immobilization you cause lasts longer (50%).
Reorganize and Recovery
- Adept: Quick Breathing — Warhorn skills have an increased number of targets, grant an additional boon. Grant +120 Concentration. (As announced.) Grant 3 stacks of Stability for 5 s with Charge and Resistance for 3 s with Call to Arm.
- Master: Shrug It Off — Use "Shake It Off!" automatically when you have a number of conditions on you. (Increase conditions cleased to 2; grant Resistance for 2 s.)
- Grandmaster: Resounding Command Vigorous Shouts — Shouts affect more allies (10), heal them (Skill Coefficient of Healing Power raised from 1.2 to 1.5) and grant adrenaline based on the number of allies affected ( point of Adrenaline is granted per ally. Edited on Sep 8th, proposed by @Lan Deathrider.5910 in their comment below). Shouts recharge faster, and grant Vigor to allies. (Edited on Sep. 9)
The aim of these changes is to address the lack of Boons for allies and to improve the effectiveness of certain under-performing and barely slotted skills. (Edited on Sep. 9th: all boon below are meant to be granted to allies as well; description were modified to clarify such.) All shout skills now grant allies a buff and inflict foes with debuff, to differentiate themselves from their Guardian counterparts.
- 'To the Limit!' — The skill now grants Vigor (8 s) to allies and inflict Slow (1 s) to your enemies.
- 'Fear Me!' — The base CD is reduced to 30 s. Grant Retaliation Quickness for 6 s to allies. (Edited on Sep. 9th based on feedback by @Lan Deathrider.5910)
- 'On My Mark!' — The skill becomes an AoE of 180 radius around your selected target. (If no target is selected the skill cannot be deployed.) In addition to its previous effect, grant Quickness 2 stacks Stability for 3 5 s 'On My Mark!' and 1 stack of Stability 2 5 s for Lesser 'On My Mark!'. (Edit on Sep. 8th: Alternatively, as @RiyazGuerra.9203 suggested in their comment, the skill could alternatively apply Rend instead.)
- 'Shake/Shrug It Off!' — In addition to their previous effect, grant Resistance for 2 3 s and 1 2 s respectively. Increase conditions cleansed to 3 and 2 respectively.
- 'For Great Justice!' — This skill no longer grants Fury. In addition to its previous efefct, apply Weakness (6 s) to your enemies.
A new Shout skill is added to the Elite catergory:
- 'Dare you not!' — Grant Retaliation (6 s) and Alacrity (3 s) to allies. Enemies around you (600) is Taunted (3 s) and Confused (5 stacks for 5 s). (CD: 30 s)
I am going to quote myself in another thread for the reasoning behind the changes proposed below:
I would so much like to see Stability be added to Charge, so that people actually use it preemptively before clashing into melee, instead of afterward trying to get out of the hot zones. Nowadays, the skill is used more like how Guardian's 'Retreat!' is meant to be (yet mostly is not). Such inconsistency between the actual application of the skill and the intended function suggested by the text always makes me chuckle.
For Call to Arm, just add group Resistance, so that the weapon might actually be regarded viable.
- Charge: This skill would only removes movement impairing conditions and then increases the damage of affected allies' next 2 attacks by 25% in addition to its previous effects. Increase swiftness duration from 10 seconds to 15 seconds. This skill becomes a blast finisher. (As announced.) Grant 3 stacks of Stability for 5 s if traited with Quick Breathing
- Call to Arms: Removes 3 conditions from affected allies instead of specific conditions. Grants barrier in addition to vigor. (As announced.) Grant Resistance for 3 s if traited with Quick Breathing.
The change is aimed to bring the now under-powered Burst skill in line with other ones.
- Combustive Shot: Reduce the interval between pulsing direct damage and Burning to 1 s. (Number of pulses is increased to 4, 7, 10 as a result.)
Potential Play Style
- With Warhorn and Longbow, a possible revival of Marshal attribute combo (++Power, ++Healing, +Precision, +Condition Damage).
- Potential Hammer Berserker with Tactics to spam Immobilize, Slow and Weakness.
- A support Warrior build that provides reasonable burst Healing, Barrier and Cleansing with Shouts and Warhorn.
- A meaningful role in a smaller, secondary 'hit squad' working in coordination with the main group, with its aim to prey upon enemy backliners in WvW.