Feedback -Announced Scourge Changes - Heal/Hybrid Scourge PoV — Guild Wars 2 Forums
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Feedback -Announced Scourge Changes - Heal/Hybrid Scourge PoV

Most of the proposed balance changes are limited to WvW. For scourges, they also proposed a rather large mechanic change, that would also need to be applied to PvE, where they would also largely impact PvE builds, so I want to give some feedback from that direction towards those upcoming changes.

Relevant changes:

  • Scourge: Shade abilities only affect the area around you while you do not have a shade active in the world. This creates a choice of whether to be the focal point for your shade abilities by not summoning a shade or to place a shade at a distance and focus on your shade's positioning relying on distance as your safety. It also offers more distinct styles of gameplay where you may want to close with enemies and avoid having to place shades while being exposed in melee or placing a shade farther away to gain ranged offensive options at the risk of not having shade defensive benefits at your location (unless you place another shade beside you). To address the loss of some of the target cap, the number of targets affected by shade abilities will be increased from 3 to 5.

  • Sand Savant: Increase the number of targets sand shade affect from 2 to 5, so that when traited you either affect up to 10 targets around you or have a single shade which affects up to 10 targets rather than the current incarnation where you've got a shade that affects 5 targets and you affect 5 targets near you.

Current situation of heal/hybrid scourge in group content:
A support scourge is not able to give additional stats to his group ( like a druid with spotter or a revenant with assassins presence would). He can also almost hold no relevant boon for the group, so even if paired with another supporter not all relevant boons are taken care of. Working combinations to hold boons are for example Chrono&Druid, Chrono&Tempest, Chrono&Herald (if the subgroup helps a bit with might) or the newer Firebrigade (Firebrand&Renegade).

So if you bring a support scourge instead of any other healer, you either bring him as an off healer or because you need a lot of healing, condition cleanses or other utilities. Healing on scourge has 2 different components:

  1. Ticking Heals those mainly come from the infusion trait in bloodmagic or regeneration ticks from mark of evasion and are not impacted by the proposed changes.
  2. Barrier Application: Applied by sand shade skills and healing skill sand flare. Lasts for 5s after application. Different from other heal skills, which should be used after somebody took damage, barriers should be applied before taking dmg, since they are temporary and don't grant direct healing. Strongly impacted by the proposed changes.

Impact of the proposed changes:
Most of the barrier application comes from sand shades. Most of the high condition cleanse also comes from shade abilities with the traits abrasive grit and desert empowerment. Currently you can heal somebody ranged and people close to you at the same time, since shade abilities proc from the sand shade and always also from you. That means you can heal / cleanse condition from somebody that is off stack for example if people have to do mechanics in raids/fractals or got pushed away during bounties or hero points. You can also run to the side to revive somebody while still healing the group with a sand shade.

With the proposed changes that will change drastically. You will constantly have a sand shade on stack so you will have 2 charges of manifest sand shade available. If you place one ranged to help someone, you need to use 1 charge to place the sand shade on ranged and 1 charge to place it back on stack. You can not cancel an active sand shade. Before you could just move yourself to a different spot to change the position of you healing. Now you can only change the position of your barrier application and condition cleanse every 10s. If you don't want to abandon the main stack, then this means you have 1 ranged heal every 20s with perfect alacrity uptime (10s recharge per charge).

On the other hand the higher target cap with up to 10 people means, that you can protect and cleanse more people making stuff like the fear cleanse on sloth way easier. But the advantage is not really big, since you already run a 2nd healer in raids, since a scourge can't hold boons. For fractals/dunegons the higher target cap doesn't matter. In open world scenarios, you often times have people spread out, so the 10 man cap also does not have a large effect compared to the 5+5 effect from before.

Summary
All together the proposed changes does not offer a great advantage in PvE but seriously limit the flexibility of support scourges and as such limit the only reason why scourges are even taken for support classes in group content, since they already lack behind other classes in boon uptime and additional stats. In particular, during fights with moving targets like most bounties, some open world bosses, Sloth, Largos Twins or Soulless Horror or fights with ranged mechanics, like Vale Guardian, Cairn, Matthias or other were people spread out, support scourges will be way more restricted. I know most of the proposed changes are aimed at WvW and ranged damage from sand shades, but I would ask the balance team to please also take PvE and support scourges into account. One possible solution could be to change the damage from sand shades as proposed but let the barrier application and the connected condition cleanse still trigger of the scourge as before if that is possible.

TL;DR
Upcoming changes really restrict the flexibility of barrier application and condition cleanse for support scourges in PvE. Please reconsider them with that in mind.