The Ancestral Grace nerf, removing the evade frame, has completely removed Druid from competitive play. Druid had 1 person representing it at least in NA, capable of playing it into a Plat 2 level. 1 person with enough class loyalty to actually find a way to make it work when most players regarded it as Renegade tier bad in competitive play. Was the 20% reduction to pet attributes not enough? Were the CA nerfs upon PoF release not enough?
This is the best way I can thoroughly explain why removing the evade frame off Ancestral Grace was the final nail in the coffin for Druid's competitive status:
So what we're looking at here is not only was this an unwarranted nerf in general, possibly THE most ridiculous unnecessary nerf we've seen yet since the game released, but it actually removes the use of Staff completely from competitive play, which removes Druid from competitive play, and this is wvw included. The only reason Staff had a purpose, was that it guaranteed that disengage and guaranteed that blast with AG on the Staff#5 Water Field, due to the evade frame. Staff also was designed for small heal ticks with the auto, to work for CA purposes. Without Staff practicality & purpose intact, we have no Druid for competitive play. In wvw terms, that Staff 3 evade was THE thing that allowed a Druid to escape a zerg bomb. Druid is terrible without Staff use so INB4 discussion about that. If anyone reading this does not understand why, I'm not going to argue with you or explain it.
On a side, I want to point out that this change did absolutely nothing for pve purposes either. It takes 18s to swap back and forth from set 1 to set 2 back to set 1. So the idea behind "Land on an ally and get CD of 20s reduced to 15s" is actually 100% completely useless. Druids do not camp Staff side even in pve. They swap back to Warhorn as often as possible, to use WH#5 for the party regen, and for the damage & soft CCs that roll of Axe main hand. Staff is only used for a fast burst in pve. So regardless of -5s reduction, players in pve are still looking at 18s before being able to use AG again anyway. This change doesn't matter at all. All it was, was a nerf that removed evade frame. In no way was this some kind of an equal trade off skill alteration.
This particular nerf scares me, concerning the future of the competitive balance of Guild Wars 2, which is disappointing to say the least. Removing that evade frame off Ancestral Grace, which was crucial to the role & purpose of any Druid build, was as detrimental & destructive of a change as if they were to do things like this to other classes/builds:
Competitive builds in Guild Wars 2 are completely fundamentally designed around the kits of the weapons they use. Yes, when you really break it down, something like an SD Thief is a Sword with a Dagger & a Shortbow, that has trait selections & utilities that accommodate those kits. It doesn't work the other way around. We don't design a build of traits & utilities first, and then just toss on whatever weapon we want. The traits & utilities & sigils & runes & amulets have many options and combinations that can be used, whereas the weapon kits are 5 skills that cannot be altered. So we as players have to evaluate which weapon kits are currently good or at least practical for a job role & purpose, and then best situate traits & utilities & sigils & runes & stats, to go with those kits that are "as is". In other words, the weapon choices dictate the ENTIRE rest of the build structure, and if it is ultimately viable or not. The weapon choices by far impact a build and its direction much more than any trait or sigil or rune or utility selection. Simply put: A Power Reaper has based his build entirely around the kits of Axe and Greatsword. As soon as he equips a Scepter over the Axe or a Staff over the Greatsword, it immediately invalidates all of the other choices. However, if he were to change a trait selection or two, or a couple utilities, or a rune or a sigil, it doesn't effect the build that much. A traitline could be entirely REMOVED actually, and the build would still function somewhat the same.
^ The point being in bringing all of this up, is that Arenanet needs to be very careful when they start chopping up and Frankensteining around with the weapon kits that all of our competitive balance has been based around for so so long. Altering a trait or two or some utilities, doesn't normally change too much. Even turning the numbers up or down in weapon skills, doesn't change TOO MUCH. But adding or removing base fundamental mechanical functions from weapon kits, completely changes EVERYTHING about a build structure that uses that kit. It can immediately grant it a state of broken Saiyan like strength, or instantly remove it from viable competitive play, just from a simple change like what is listed in the bullets. Can you imagine what would happen if this https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Whirling_Wrath had even a 1s evade on it? You guys need to be more careful with this stuff.
I'm feeling like it's a good idea to leave the core mechanics of weapon kits alone unless players are complaining about something being truly overpowered, or suggesting that something needs a rework because it feels clunky. A good example was the rework on Deadeye Rifle. That was something that needed to happen and it made the class "Feel" a lot better to play. But simply random targeting & mangling the mechanics of some said given class's weapon kit that has neither anyone complaining about it or making suggestions of how to make it better, is a great way to kitten off & disappoint the player base that represents that class. I mean, of all the ways to maintain player base and have people stay interested in Guild Wars 2, this is not one of them.
I think it's safe to speak for everyone when I say: We would all greatly appreciate it if Arenanet would stop investing design time into changes that create balance issues, and start investing design time into changes that fix balance issues.
Sorry to the dev team if this all sounds terrible, but man, it needed to be said.