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Suggestions on Buffing Healing Support PVE Elementalist


Conqueron.4085

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NOTE: This is written in lengthy detail to give the benefit of not having to actually work out details such as why they should do this and common theoretical issues that could arise. Basically, if whoever at ANET reads this and agrees in general, they can submit some of these suggestions along with notes to the changes and go back to watching Netflix with minimal work on their part. Free balance content that ANET does not have to spend time on outside of coding in the changes if they agree.

Hello, I am proposing a hefty amount of changes that I believe will aid in helping out PVE support elementalist in group settings as a healer. The main focus of this writing is to simply add or alter mechanics for endgame PVE since in open world PVE, there is significant leeway in build crafting. As such, I will omit any type of support weaver as it lacks access to either quickness or alacrity. In terms of weapon balancing, I will dedicate the majority of it to staff as I believe it has a great basis for supporting but simply lacks a bit to make it attractive.

Please keep in mind, everything is solely PVE related.

There will be a lot of specific proposed changes with the rationale behind each change with commentary on whether there may be significant impacts on other builds. I've chosen to write this way so that after an ANET employee who deals with balancing reads this (if they ever read this ūüėČ), they can easily pin point ideas of interest and have quick notes on why it should be implemented and if there are any potential problems with the change. There is a lot suggested but I am hoping for only a fraction of these changes to occur, or to at least inspire some updates to support healing builds for elementalists.

A big note that heal alacrity tempest is in a fine spot currently. Although not as popular as the main popular meta support healing builds, it is considered well designed; I agree as well. The main reason I created this was to hopefully get some better support options for quick heal catalyst. Even when a support specialization is considered fine, there can still be ways to adjust and improve its quality of life. 


Before I begin, I would like to highlight the simple pros and cons of each spec in generality:
NOTE: As this is focused on healing builds, Water as a trait line is assumed to be taken 100% of the time, allowing only 1 free alternative trait line. This is extremely important as it allows balancing to occur revolving opportunity costs, which will minimize potential combinatorial trait line imbalances to occur.

Alacrity Heal Tempest:

    Pros: Amazing healing, great condition cleanse, great access to group auras, great overall general boon coverage, plentiful stun breaks, access to improved protection

    Cons: Overloads disallow reactive gameplay, inability to overload water without forced water attunement camping, boon range coverage from overloads are vastly different depending on the attunement element, overreliance on stability to output alacrity, low access to aegis, nonexistent access to group barrier


Quickness Heal Catalyst:

    Pros: Great healing, ranged boon coverage with great uptime

    Cons: Due to energy system, a small mistake can significantly decrease boon uptime; lack of useful catalyst specific utilities to provide any meaningful group benefits; boss phasing may decrease boon uptime substantially; boons are mainly tied to their respective elements; no group stun break, nonexistent access to group barrier, almost all direct burst healing concentrated in water attunement

 

What makes a healing support attractive:

Generally, the main requirements for a support healer in group PVE content consists of the following qualifications,

1) Strong heals and/or barrier generation

2) Ability to gear for 100% boon coverage in real gameplay, of  (i) alacrity/quickness, (ii) 25 might stacks, (iii) fury, (iv) protection

3) Extremely good uptime on secondary boon coverage of vigor, swiftness, regeneration

4) Has methods to deal with specific mechanics for group gameplay utilizing any of the following: stability, aegis, superspeed, projectile denial/block/reflect, resurrection.


With that out of the way, my proposals mainly hinges on the idea of improving effectiveness overall or allowing ways for a healing elementalist to adjust trait lines for differing encounters and simple quality of life buffs. Most of which, target idea (4) of what makes a healing support attractive since the other 3 can be fulfilled ignoring specific quality of life issues.


Proposed Trait reworks:


Air -- the air trait line typically is not seen in most healing builds due to its lack of general usefulness outside of specific niches; instead of making it generally useful, I feel it would be better to expand on the niches of the trait line. The niches of air that a support build could capitalize on would be movement speed, disables, fury and resistance. My proposals are to rework the follow,

One With Air - to grant ally superspeed instead of simply granting it to yourself
    Rationale: No DPS build would take this as they would simply lose a good chunk from Ferocious Winds. So the other alternative is Zephyr's Boon, which has the tradeoff of fury in exchange for significant more movement speed. I believe having group superspeed would not create a large imbalance since it would require sacrifices in other areas which is similar to support scrapper. If needed, there could be an icd added to the group superspeed part because of its affinity to Fresh Air.

Inscription - grant boons to allies instead of just gaining the boons (240 radius)
    Rationale: The main focus was just a way to allow support elementalist access to resistance in exchange for consistent group fury, stun duration and damage. Having to take glyph utility skills to grant resistance is a good tradeoff as the majority of glyph skills are not very supportive, and in the case of Glyph of Renewal, it has an extremely long cooldown.

Lightning Rod - in addition to its current effect, immobilize the disabled foe for 1 second
    Rationale: Just an addition to increase defiance bar damage without overriding the disabled effect on regular mobs. It's good to note that this doesn't change much since the immobilize portion would be during the actual disable and on defiant foes, it's simply just an increase in defiance bar damage. Thematically, it ties in to being literally shocked from lightning.


Water -- the water trait line is generally extremely well designed for healing and supporting in general; I only have 1 proposal for it.

Soothing Disruption - to grant allies vigor and regeneration instead of gaining it for yourself
    Rationale: Typically, the water trait line is taken for group support and healing. I figured that updating this trait would be a great alternative to a condition cleanse from Cleansing Wave. This would be a significant change for tempests as it would allow tempests to take Harmonious Conduit for stability without sacrificing too much regen and vigor. It's important to note that this trait only works with cantrips which all but 1 are not useful for groups in general, which would not make it an overpowered trait.

Arcane -- a well rounded trait line focused on utility and boon generation. I only offer two changes to improve its trait line.

Arcane Restoration - heal allies around yourself instead of just yourself (240 radius)
    Rationale: Simply an improvement to allow some extra healing outside of water attunement, which is a major drawback to healing elementalists in general. Having a 240 radius restricts its potential to become a strong consistent additional ranged heal.

Elemental Surge - in addition to the current effect, grant Arcane Lightning (150 ferocity buff) to allies upon use of Arcane Power only
    Rationale: This would be a buff to allow support elementalists to add a tiny bit of DPS if they were not interested in the extra utility provided by Evasive Arcana through dodges. By restricting it to Arcane Power only, there is no worry in the potential of stacking arcane skills to boost your allies' damage through sustained amounts. This would inadverdently buff Arcane Power, which is perfectly fine, as the general consensus is that, that skill is beyond useless. A note that Arcane Lightning is a 10% critical damage buff, with an uptime of 15 seconds and 35 second cooldown, the overall boost without factoring in alacrity is 4.3% damage boost. Arcane Power by itself is useless due to the nature of multihit skills outside of edge cases such as bladesworn stacking. As well, keep in mind, the damage boost requires both this trait and the utility skill, which can be difficult to compare since in general, support healers use utility skills to improve both DPS uptime through mechanical skips such as stability and aegis, and constant healing to relieve pressure for damage dealers to perform their rotation without any possible interrupts such as having to use their own healing skill. So that 4.3% damage boost is not as significant as it seems. But overall, this is not the most important change and was added to try to make this trait and Arcane Power not be useless.


Earth -- a quick observation of earth's current trait line suggests that earth focusses primarily on stability, protection, barrier and general tankability. I figured I would propose changes that simply improve these aspects from a support perspective without changing any condition damage based builds.

Earth's Embrace - grant barrier to allies around oneself (360 radius)
    Rationale: Simple access to group barrier outside of weaver. Support builds can decide on protection uptime versus barrier, allowing more versatility. I believe one extra group barrier generation is not enough to break the balance since it requires the entire trait line of earth, which has the trade off of losing other utilities. As well, it requires one to leave water attunement for one good group barrier, which means no access to the strong healing skills that elementalists usually have.

Rock Solid - improve group stability duration to 4 seconds
    Rationale: This is simply to just improve the trait and allow elementalists more access to group stability in exchange for choosing earth trait line. Should not change too much as it adds just a few seconds at best.

Stone Heart - remove entire current effect and exchange with, grant group aegis upon exiting earth attunement for 4 seconds (360 radius)
    Rationale: The current stone heart in PVE is considered useless. I figured having aegis as an alternative would suffice. A small note is to be taken with care since condition damage builds generally do not have a good major grandmaster trait, which is why they take Written in Stone, as all 3 currently are not very enticing; I am proposing for changes/buffs to support elementalist, not any damage builds. If this is changed, some balancing might need to occur so this doesn't become an overpowered trait for any condition builds. Might have to introduce an icd due to the nature of weaver's attunement, or shift more DPS potential into Written in Stone. The primary reason why I decided to have the aegis given on exit instead of entry is due to the support trait line giving both barrier and stability on entry. Thus to not overload earth trait lines on entry, and have some traits being redundant, I believe it was best to place it on exit.


Fire -- well designed trait line for any damage variant build. With a few small tweaks, I believe it could be a great alternative trait line for supporting with no balance changes for damage variants. The main focus should be a small personal damage boost, ally might generation and condition cleanse boost.

Conjurer - grant allies the current attunement as an aura around the conjured weapon's dropped location (360 radius)
    Rationale: Simple change on a useless trait to make it a niche. Even with this change, I cannot see it being a strong pick but still better than nothing without changing much and worrying about balancing.

Pyromancer's Puissance - increase Flame Expulsion's might granting radius to 360 radius
    Rationale: No DPS build will ever take this so for balancing purposes, there is no issue. The increase in radius is simply due to the fact that tempest, while great at granting might, the effective area is quite small. This is just a one method to better allow an elementalist to give might if they specifically trait for this purpose.

Blinding Ashes - in addition to the current trait, slow any burned enemies for 1.5 second with the same icd
    Rationale: A useless trait in group PVE settings, but I wanted to give an option for elementalists that choose fire as a support trait line that do not need extra might generation for allies to at least get additional defiance bar damage. This is a relatively small change that does not alter much, so there should be no balancing issues. Thematically, it ties to asphyxiation.

Catalyst -- I am only suggesting a few tweaks that have nothing to do with DPS catalyst. They are either quality of life updates or some updates to allow more interesting support builds on traits that are useless in group settings without changing them too much.

Energized Elements - improve energy gain from 2 to 3
    Rationale: This trait is never taken for DPS variants since a large chunk of a catalyst's DPS consists of building elemental empowerment to 10 stacks, which is difficult without Viscious Empowerment. The energy gain is boosted since at the heart of giving boons is through jade spheres, which is extremely difficult to manage due to many boss encounters having phases that make keeping an abundant energy supply annoying and stressful. This is especially true for weapons without many multihit skills such as staff.

Staunch Auras - alter the current trait to become 'Grant allies stability when granting auras'
    Rationale: This updated trait will give a good method to granting stability but only with sacrificing massive boon duration on all jade spheres and having to take Powerful Auras instead of Soothing Power, which is quite a hit to overall healing. In my opinion, this is a fair tradeoff to having amazing access to group stability in all attunements and no DPS variants can access this by sacking some DPS from Empowered Empowerment due to the need for Powerful Auras.


Core Utility Skill Proposals:

Arcane Wave -- decrease damage coefficient from 1.4 to 1.0; decrease cooldown from 30 to 25; all else unchanged
    Rationale: An approximate 29% damage decrease for a ~17% decrease in its cooldown, which would equate to an approximate DPS loss of 14% in exchange for more frequent blast finishers. For most DPS builds, this will not affect anything since elementalists generally have sufficient cleave to choose Arcane Blast over Arcane Wave. 

Lightning Flash -- grant superspeed for 2 seconds at the end of the teleport (240 radius)
    Rationale: Already a good niche skill that serves a specific purpose. I only proposed the change above with the hopeful change of the water trait Soothing Disruption to allow more synergy for group buffing. There shouldn't be many DPS variants taking this utility unless the boss encounter has a lot of forced movement, but even then, most DPS builds have all 3 utility slots as DPS skills, so they would have to trade damage for utility. A minor note would be that the superspeed only works if the elementalist ports onto the group, negating the actually benefit of the teleport if they are already stacked together, making it an ideal support skill for when the support must deal with a mechanic away from the group.

Signet of Water -- (1) change passive component from 20% condition duration reduction to 180 healing power
           (2) change passive component from 20% condition duration reduction to 180 concentration
    Rationale: With the ability to have a plethora amount of condition cleanses if specialized for it, reducing base condition duration is generally not useful in PVE. I have two proposals since either is useful and fits the theme of what water signet should be. This also gives meaningful opportunity costs for Written in Stone if some of my proposals for Stone Heart actually influence a change.

Tornado -- lower cooldown to 60 seconds
    Rationale: When in use, the elementalist cannot heal or deal significant damage since tornado itself is lackluster; its strength is in defiance bar damage which most other supports have options to deal a lot of defiance bar damage, which support elementalists tend to lack. By lowering the cooldown, it gives elementalists options to trade in heals from Summon Elemental and Rebound for strong CC bar damage using their elite skill.

Catalyst Utility Skill Proposals:

Invigorating Air -- in addition to current effects, grant group stun break (600 radius)
    Rationale: Just a small buff to allow it to stun break for allies. It's a weaker version of Eye of the Storm from tempest by all accounts and is not the greatest DPS utility skill since most supports have ally stun breaks and grant stability. By this logic, we are buffing a rather lackluster PVE skill without having to worry too much about balancing.

Fortified Earth -- in addition to current effects, block missiles
    Rationale: A buff to allow projectile mechanics to be dealt with using catalyst since controlling magnetic aura using Elemental Epitome is not reliable and allows for some choices in utilities since most augment skills are selfish.

Elemental Celerity -- in addition to the current effects, reset cooldown on the current attunement's jade sphere and gives 10 energy
    Rationale: I wanted a proposal that would minimize the effect that would occur in boosting any DPS catalyst build since my primary objective is buffing support quick heal catalyst, and any unnecessary unintended buffs to other playstyles would probably lessen the probability of support catalyst getting buffs. Thus I decided to focus on having Elemental Celerity reset just one simple jade sphere since most of a catalyst's boons come from jade spheres and damage wise, it should not do too much.

Staff Change Proposals:

Flame Burst -- keep the damage the same, change from 1 hit to 3 hits
    Rationale: This is purely to help support catalyst as a healer to generate energy since staff is both slow and lacks good multihit skills.

Static Field -- initial placement stuns foes
    Rationale: There are plenty of stationary bosses that are not effected by Static Field, which is troubling as staff as a weapon for elementalists has very little defiance bar damage on stationary targets. In fact, even on nonstationary targets, outside of odd cases, the defiance damage isn't great compared to many other supports.

Magnetic Aura -- lower cooldown to 25
    Rationale: Simply to allow more opportunity for Transmute Earth. Staff generally only has 2 advantages when it comes to supporting: ranged heals and group stability on a weapon skill. This is just a simple buff, especially since staff is not run as a DPS weapon at the moment.

Unsteady Ground -- add the effect: block missiles
    Rationale: To give the skill more use, especially against stationary bosses. Otherwise it is just a simple proposed buff to the skill to make staff more attractive.

To recap, the changes with the trait lines I propose heavily revolve around the idea that a support elementalist will have meaningful opportunity costs when selecting their final trait line. If they select X, then they significantly lose out on all the others (excluding overlaps with Water trait line):

Earth: Aegis, barrier, stability, protection, general strike damage reduction
Fire: Condition cleanse, might generation, small increase in defiance bar damage, group auras
Air: Superspeed, resistance, fury, small increase in defiance bar damage
Arcane: Boons, healing outside of water attunement, general healer utility upgrades

This way, a support healing elementalist may be the jack of all support trades when specializing but not be able to access all of it during any one encounter. I do worry that some of my ideas may be on the stronger side, but they are suggestions first and foremost, and can be adjusted for any balancing that is required.

Overall, I gave many suggestions on how to improve the gameplay for support healing elementalists. Not all of them will be acknowledged but I primarily honed in on the less attractive skills or traits in group PVE settings and hope that they can help shore up some of the annoyances and unattractiveness when it comes to support healing as an elementalist. From an anedoctal perspective, elementalist healers are not popular compared to the other popular healers; excluding other non-popular healers. From public data such as gw2wingman, in the current patches, elementalist is on the lower end, which implies healer builds are, as well, on the lower end compared to the current popular supports. Hopefully with some of these ideas, support elementalist would be more attractive and popular.

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I have dedicated a section solely to convincing any ANET employee why my ideas contained in this written piece are important and can have a positive impact if applied correctly. To begin, a few assumptions must be made and I will respectively try to give justifications for each, but do note that these assumptions require hard data to draw real conclusions on whether the assumptions to begin with, can be reasonable true (which ANET has).

1) The vast majority of the casual player base possess only a handful of individual characters of varying professions that they spend the majority of their time on, which is less than all professions

2) The casual player base that dabbles into group PVE content generate a significant portion of recurring revenue for Guild Wars 2

3) Class accessibility from a group PVE content is a major decider in a person's favorability towards Guild Wars 2 and in turn their likeliness to spend real money on the game.

i) To justify (1) without solid data, a hypothesis must be made on a correlation between a person's affinity to their identity in real life to their in game characters. Each individual has their own personality or preferences that resonates with specific professions. The casual part is important since Guild Wars 2 runs primarily on a horizontal progression, which in theory should lead to a higher percentage of players being casual than typical MMORPGs. Casual players will most likely only play a few of their characters the majority of the time and tend to deepen their bond with those characters. Because otherwise, why would they play a MMORPG and not other genres of games if not to develop an attachment to their characters.

ii) This has two parts. The first part is that GW2, being a horizontal progression based game, should probably have both less reliance and less attraction to "whales" that usually spend significant money to gain massive, exclusive in game benefits. This seems like a reasonable hypothesis. Onto the second part on why the casual player base contributes a significant portion of recurring revenue is due to the phenomenon of social leisure spending. What is social leisure spending, you may ask? It is the phenomenon of people's willingness to spend more of their discretionary income when dealing with social aspects. This can be seen through examples such as food and drink pricings at sport events, concerts, etc. Many people are willing to spend more money socially, which for GW2's case, one of them is group PVE content, where they can enjoy their time playing with others (one of the major points of playing MMOs).

iii) I would speculate that a good chunk of casual players who already identify with their preferred classes would not be in favor of playing another class just to not feel like a drag on their group. While in general, GW2 PVE content is low in difficulty to the point any class technically works, it still leaves a bad taste when it feels like the class you play is handicapped compared to others. In order to improve on this metric, class accessibility in terms of their ability to fulfill fundamental roles should be a priority. You're playing GW2 to have fun with the professions you enjoy and the roles you decided to play as; to maximize player enjoyment, allow the players to feel like they are helpful since after all, PVE is a co-op style of a game. When everyone is having fun, people are more inclined to spend money on GW2.

Basically, the general idea is that to generate more recurring revenue, allow people to play what they want while feeling like they are contributing to the group and having fun. In order for that to occur, professions must have the access to tools to play their chosen roles in groups to an equitable degree. In this case, buff underrepresented classes in group PVE contents meaningfully so people who play those classes can have a more enjoyable time and join group content without worrying about contribution. Clearly all this is a hypothesis, but seems reasonable; it is up to ANET to see if their data shows a strong correlation and/or reasonable causation links.

TL;DR:  BALANCE BETTER IN TERMS OF HOMOGENIZING CLASS POTENTIAL (NOT GAMEPLAY) ===> MORE $$

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Thanks for reading this long proposal.

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Wow, franckly i haven't read all , but indeed the tempest need a buff , the only real thing it is bringing to the table is "rebound".

Pretty simple thing is putting the alac to the 2nd traitline , instead of the Gm , so we can go bastion of elements and ... whatsoever , i am complaining about the ele for such a long time now , i don't see it coming trough so i prefer not wasting my keyboard life...

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i feel like arcanes, cantrips, and conjures would be the perfect place for more utility support skills. like ideally i would love to see conjures reworked into something like guardian spirit weapons. give them a purity of purpose. for example, make conjure earth shield pulse a projectile destroying wave every 1-2 seconds that grants allies barrier while it's active.

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They really should do something about Lucid Singularity and the 2 other grandmaster traits.

It's so sad a trait about one single boon and nothing else (powerful one sure, but) that cripple you so much on DPS or other Support aspect because obviously you can't take the ENORMOUS dps modifier or the heal on aura, but also because it is too restrictive in the mechanic, you can't overload water or you just lose reactiveness and support.

Dispatch Elemental Bastion and Transcendant Tempest in other traits, or why not in other traitlane, or buff Lucid Singularity :
Lower the modifier but buff overloads, shouts, shouts trait ... Same with heal on auras, make it baseline for shouts or put the trait in Water. Lucid singularity : increase current OL recharge speed while under alacrity, like the Chrono trait, or add an other effect, merge it with Elemenal Bastion ...

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