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Thoughts on Specter


Acheron.1580

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I'll start with base thief first addressing a couple simple issues, being pistols and signets of power.

 

Signets of Power

Signets of power feels very similar in the way it was handled to warrior banners. They knew they wanted/had to change it, had no ideas on how, and pumped out a placeholder that nobody would be happy with to give themselves a few months to figure it out. I'd argue it's the worst trait in the game at the moment. I don't think initiative gain is bad necessarily but here's my issues with it:

The only real signet I can think of you want to activate regularly would be Assassin's Signet, and you probably want to already be at max initiative to burn everything while it's duration is up so the +1 initiative is probably wasted. Even if you were to fill your entire bar with signets and activate them all congrats, you get 1 extra attack at the cost of all the passive effects (and most activated effects are really situational).

Maybe make it increase initiative regeneration rate for a period of time rather than flat initiative or reduce the initiative cost of your next attack within a couple seconds by 2 or have a portion of it's passive effect active which increases as the cooldown gets closer to being refreshed (difficult to implement with Infiltrator's signet). I don't really know why it wasn't left as it was with the cooldown reduction being stripped.

 

Pistols

Follow me on a journey so I can explain what I think happened to pistols and why they have always felt bad even though they are sort of fun to use. MH pistol has bleed on auto 1, on it's stealth attack 1, and without an offhand it's repeater attack 3. When you add a dagger offhand, you keep the repeater and add torment to 3 (albeit it's a little clunky now). When you add a second pistol, 3 becomes pure power with a lowered power coefficient. I think pistols were supposed to be condition damage, which when you factor in Deadly Aim makes it kind of an interesting trade off, you get to penetrate targets to apply more dots but at the cost of upfront strike damage. For some reason they made it so that adding a second pistol removed all condi, made the power coefficient worse than if you didn't have the second pistol (because you fire more bullets I guess) and increased the initiative cost by 2, with the caveat that hitting with all of it would refund the 2.

TLDR: You lose condition damage, you lose power coefficient, you add bullets (longer cast time), and front load extra initiative cost.

I assume the reason was pvp balance, but you effectively nerf yourself in every possible way using P/P.

I think it should shoot 1/4 second faster (bringing it back to repeater speed) which you could do by removing a bullets or simply speeding up animation, increase the power coefficient and add bleed back when using Deadly Aim. Faster shoot time should provide easier use of returning initiative cost, provide better utility from dual attack effects Deadly Ambition, and the addition of bleed back as a trait would make the pistol (which just feels to me like it was supposed to be condition based on all it's other bleed effects) a more defined hybrid weapon, having the reduced strike damage be offset by the change in function.

 

The long way around but now (also I'm not really in tune with specter as a pvp / wvw build so I had to make assumptions, please feel free to correct)

 

Specter :
Scepter

Just weirdly clunky. No real logical reason for why shots can be bodied by mobs, particularly since design philosophy suggests heavy emphasis on single target. Not sure why it was designed to make it even harder when dealing with wvw, pvp, or pve fights that have more than 1 target, particularly since shots are slow and cumbersome. These just should not be intercept-able.
3rd scepter shot design wasn't well considered, since slight movement upsets the second shot combo-ing into the first, and is one of the few ranged attacks I've seen that can
miss a target even when in range.

 

Wells

I understand the nerf to Well of Silence, particularly for pvp settings, but now it has confliction issue along with Well of Bounty I'll get to in a bit.

 

Well of Tears is really out of place for the spec as a whole. I know that it needed to be unique from the other wells but strike damage doesn't really fit anywhere in Specter's identity. Maybe add rot wallow to up to 5 players who are in the well when it is spawned, or when it pulses? Have it give barrier to players in well of tears (effectively also giving rot wallow)? Give it blind which might sort of line up with its name? Boon Strip? There are lots of possibilities.

 

Well of Sorrow is counterproductive. It adds all the conditions you can add as a thief (awesome), unless you've already added them (why?). I can sort of understand it from a quick AoE to apply dots concept, but then it loses effectiveness immediately. It was kind of a "any well will do" well for alac before the change to Well of Silence, where now I'd rather just have the cleanse. I don't understand why this well punishes you for doing the one thing you want it to do.

 

Underwater Wells

Wells should just shadowstep you to your target if in range, or to "yourself" if you have no target or they are not in range. If they have to be tied to alacrity let us have them underwater.


Traits
Second Opinion - Good in theory, terrible when in a choice against Consume Shadows. As a dps, never a reason to take this, as a support you lose a strong reliable AoE heal
on a class that is already pretty single target focused.


Shallow Grave - suffers from opportunity issues as well. The potential to save an ally is unlikely unless you are planning on them dying, provides less overall survivablity compared to consume shadows again. I assume it's supposed to be the PvP choice? I assume if you get burned down hard enough to enter shroud through this talent, then with the nerfs to shroud in pvp this really wont help.


Amplified Syphoning - really boring. I can't imagine when you would ever take this. If you are dps there is no way you ever would, if you are support but aren't using wells, I suppose this is your only option for a bigger siphon barrier, but being only heals without the alacrity feels like a real waste. Id probably still just take Larcenous Torment in that case to build more shadow force while providing more damage. Maybe make siphon an AoE instead?  (Main friendly target would get the tether, all close allies would receive barrier as well, obviously cooldown reduction only applies the once). Would give group boon strip options when paired with Bountiful Theft. I have a hard time believing anyone would take this over giving alac or doing more damage though.


Panaku's Ambition - I understand the idea behind it, being that poisons you apply through Leeching Venoms with stealth gives some interesting synergy with this trait to make
a more focused healer. But in general I feel this is underutilized, since you are probably better off using Shadow Savior instead. At best you can trigger this once every 40 seconds
with blinding powder and once every 60 second with shadow refuge, not counting the Merciful Ambush. A whole grandmaster trait for an incredibly niche chance someone builds that way, which I assume people just pretend this doesn't exist (maybe I'm wrong).

Hungering darkness - considering how badly the specter deals with conditions this is almost an appealing trait, but the fact it only works for 1 target at a time is really
subpar. Maybe if siphoning during shroud swapped your tether target it might be usable. Most likely for pvp?


Shadestep - I like this ability, I'd like it more if there were easier ways to apply extra barrier to yourself.

 

The overall issue with Specter is opportunity costs as a result of how their Alacrity works. Effectively you need to be spamming your wells every time they are available to maintain it. This means there's no consideration for when to use Well of Bounty to provide Stab or Resistance, the basically become little bonuses to Alacrity. Well of Silence is even worse, since at first glance its EITHER an effective CC with condition cleanse, or a wasted CC with condition cleanse, but it doesn't matter either way because you just need to use it on cooldown and hope it aligns (with some wiggle room if you know for certain CC is upcoming). Want to factor in Shadow Arts for a more focused healing build? You now need to factor in how to add stealth, which is on A) long cooldowns and B) has to compete with utility space with your wells. You could arguably not bring any Alacrity but since it is such an ingrained important boon, that's just not really an option. The only solution I could offer here is tying Alacrity to your Shadow Shroud and freeing it from the wells by changing Traversing Dusk (the well component is still really appealing as a support even with that change, but it would free up the support wells to be actually supporty).

 

 

 

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I agree with a lot of that, some of it I don't have a strong opinion about.

The Scepter weapon is the clunky part, but I feel like Scepter/Pistol isn't bad and I'm starting to dig sc/p 3 along with it working with traits and teamates well. Even sc/p 2 has it's place and it has options.

Panaku's Ambition upkeeps a nice cycle of barrier with Black Powder + Grasping Shadows for incoming or outgoing drives (WvW) and that also gives Rot Wallow Venom. I can also give myself barrier real quick and unload that on the team with Shadestep. Sanctuary Runes helps that but it's a condi damage loss. I take Hungering Darkness most of the time because it's kind of a workhorse in larger dense fights.

Ya Hungering Darkness is more vs people and groups but it's pretty often clutch. Boosting and weaponizing the right Tether can put pressure on the other side (WvW) to have to deal with, especially if it's our squad driver or their core support or our Dragon Banner.  Sometimes I'll Tether one of my guild if they're also working the area and treat it as a squad of two to create a quick 2 to 1 split for our main squad or to intercept their split. When they move to deal with it, they might have to spend a lot and take pressure off other sections of our side. 

Edited by kash.9213
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i dont think anyone on the balance team plays thief and it shows in the gutting of our traits increased ini cost across the board and the identity crisis specter has. Specter is just a failed spec the game wasnt made for single target support in mind and its just not worth it when other supports can provide better healing to the entire group.

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I should have mentioned obviously scepter / dagger was the issue I had with its wonk shot. Thanks for giving me insight for the WvW part of it, some talents I was considering a lot more harshly before writing all this out and halfway through I remembered there was more than PvE.

 

As for balance teams, I kind of suspect nobody developing, coding, or balancing for this game actually play it. There are so many things that crop up that if you had a base understanding of the game, even if you didn't know every class in an out, you'd know was just a bad idea. Prime example is warrior banners when they first were "fixed" giving like, 2 might, or 4 when traited? And the same thing with Signets of Power (thief signets are rather particular in use and 1 initiative is laughable), and even Deadly Aim; pistol damage is low to begin with. Then you lose 5% to give it pierce, which means you already chose to not take Practiced Tolerance which is effectively a double dip in dps loss. I respect that balancing is difficult, and that trying to make everyone happy is impossible, but the foundations should make sense first.

Edited by Acheron.1580
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I agree, I'm playing spectre and tbh spectre style (and also the "witchy" concept) is the one that I prefer with thief, I'm having so much fun, BUT spectre really needs to be improved. I agree with the alacrity thing (we need something to keep it up more easily), wells underwater and overall we need a more competitive profession.

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  • 1 month later...

I think it came from a very PvP-centric POV, where the almighty Twin Fangs doesn't has the same sway as it does in PvE/OW, its for folks who are using this with Infiltrator Signet, though I dont think its been enough to get people to bring Critical Strikes since builds are still mostly Trickery, Shadow Arts and Daredevil/Deadeye or Acrobatics

 

 

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