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Scourge - The Fundamental Problem and Why Numbers Changes Won't Fix It (sPvP)


Vagrant.7206

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Hi everyone!

I'm not here to intentionally rag on necro. I think overall, necro could be in a better place than it is now, and I would definitely like to see core necro buffed, and a slight damage buff on reaper. This thread is focused purely on scourge, and why, despite all the nerfs, it continues to be severely overpowered in sPvP due to its fundamental design.

I'll also admit my natural bias -- I main engineer, and necro has always been a big pain in engineer's side, due to the way the classes interact with each other. I don't want scourge nerfed because of this natural imbalance, as there is a rock-paper-scissors triangle going on between thief, necro, and engineer. Rather, I want scourge problems to be addressed because even in the hands of a complete newbie to GW2 PvP, a scourge can be incredibly effective.

I don't want scourge nerfed in the ground. I want its fundamental mechanics to be examined so that somebody who is braindead cannot play the spec as effectively as a skilled scourge.


TL ; DR

The problem stems from the way the shade skills themselves are designed to function. The shade skills are offense, defense, healing, and utility all crammed into one, and cannot be countered in any way, shape, or form. There is no counterplay to them, and there is very little strategy in using them.


Let's look at the fundamental design behind Scourge.

(The PoF class introduction trailer.)

Based on that video alone, scourges are supposed to:

  • Protect allies and hurt enemies with shades
  • Deal torment/burning
  • Corrupt boons on enemies, grant boons to allies

Right away there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this design. It makes scourge a jack-of-all trades, at least in theory. It serves as support, offense, and defense, with its main mechanic being boon corruption. So why is it so dang strong then?

The answer is several-fold:

  • Base barrier generation is very high, insulating damage-oriented builds from a significant amount of damage, much like life force would in reaper or core necro. The problem is that this is also aided by the overabundance of weakness generated by scourge corruption, making enemy attacks hit like wet noodles.
  • The boon corruption mechanic not only serves to directly counteract enemy defenses (Bye bye stability, hello fear), it also directly counteracts their damage too (Bye bye might and fury, hello weakness and blind). This function alone would be strong were it not for all of the other issues.
  • Shade skills, despite having a 1/2 second delay, can be instantly cast even when stunned or otherwise CC'd, as long as the scourge has LoS. Necro has always been vulnerable to thief in particular due to thief's access to CC, but shade skills being unaffected by CC makes thieves very vulnerable. Even engineer bomb skills with short fuse do not have this potential, and if they did they would be seen as overpowered.
  • The Scourge themselves act as a sand shade, allowing them to literally run at an enemy and cast all their shade skills. This allows the most braindead of behaviors -- Run at the enemy and hit all of your buttons (something an AI can do). Strategic placement of the shade is not required in any way to be effective.
  • Sand shades have no direct counterplay, whatsoever. Unlike turrets or renegade summon spells, they cannot be damaged or moved in any way. AoE has no effect on them, and the only defenses are Aegis, Block, Evade, or Invuln, which are limited depending on your class.
  • Sand shades cover the entirety of most capture points in PvP, rendering them inhospitable to enemies. Capture points are the most critical aspect of PvP, and scourges make them zones of death that cannot be entered at any cost.

What's the solution?

I'll repeat what I said above -- I don't want scourges nerfed into the ground. I want core necro and reaper brought up to match current powercreep. But I do want scourge to be looked at because it is particularly effective despite the lack of intelligence required to operate it. The solutions I list below are not meant to be used together -- they are intended as solutions by themselves.

Solution #1: Lower values across the board.

This is a solution in only the most technical of senses. Lowering output of all things should have the effect of reducing scourge's capacity. The problem is, this doesn't address the braindead nature/behavior of the scourge, and simply renders it useless to everyone.

Solution #2: Provide counterplay to sand shades.

This is a solution that would help require some intelligence in using shades. They wouldn't necessarily need to be countered by conventional means (IE Damage) like turrets or renegade summons. Instead, they could be affected by CC. This means a shade placed in the center of combat wouldn't persist for long, but would also be resistant to conventional damage builds.

Solution #3: The necro is no longer treated as its own sand shade. It gains all boons/barrier granted by shade skills, but not the damage/corruption AoE.

This greatly increases the intelligence requirement for playing scourge, while still keeping their abilities strong. This would also mean that the scourge itself is not a death zone if it's outside of its shade's influence. This would make necro have to play more like a bomb engineer, but still potentially deal damage and protect itself when stunned.

Solution #4: CC effects on the scourge also affect shade skills, putting them on cooldown.

I'm not a huge fan of this, as scourge is severely restricted due to lack of access to a second health bar, and this would make that problem worse. It also does nothing to resolve the braindead playstyle that is currently a thing. That said, it would severely lower their effectiveness.

Note

All these solutions should come with some buffs to offset the damage/survivability lost.


Final Thoughts

I want Scourge to be strong, but not as strong as it is considering how little effort is involved in playing it. Please consider my solutions and tell me which you think is best and why.

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Shades do have lower radius (180 instead of 300) baseline, there's just a trait everyone picks that increases their size, target cap and reduces cooldown.

Keep in mind that barrier replaces Shroud, which has inherit 50% DR by itself. I think the hate on barriers is a bit unwarranted, but that's just my opinion, from a standpoint of both necro and revenant.

Few good points, but nothing that hasn't been mentioned and brought up already. Fact is, Scourge design and more importantly, role it takes currently as a main damage dealer are fun for neither the enemy nor the necro. It doubles down on strengths Necro was known for already and doubles down on it's weaknesses. The most logical solution to rescuing it from the spiral of neverending nerfs is reinforcing the support theme within it while simultaneously pushing corruption theme away from it, ideally by just removing most of corruption aspects of Scourge (not Necromancer) and saving them for other elite specialization. Stuff like punishment skills, instead of corrupting boons into conditions, making next attack of the victim apply barrier to it's target, this sort of approach.

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@Rym.1469 said:Shades do have lower radius (180 instead of 300) baseline, there's just a trait everyone picks that increases their size, target cap and cooldown.

Keep in mind that barrier replaces Shroud, which has inherit 50% DR by itself. I think the hate on barriers is a bit unwarranted, but that's just my opinion, from a standpoint of both necro and revenant.

Few good points, but nothing that hasn't been mentioned and brought up already. Fact is, Scourge design and more importantly, role it takes currently as a main damage dealer are fun for neither the enemy nor the necro. It doubles down on strengths Necro was known for already and doubles down on it's weaknesses. The most logical solution to rescuing it from the spiral of neverending nerfs is reinforcing the support theme within it while simultaneously pushing corruption theme away from it, ideally by just removing most of corruption aspects of Scourge (not Necromancer) and saving them for other elite specialization. Stuff like punishment skills, instead of corrupting boons into conditions, making next attack of the victim apply barrier to it's target, this sort of approach.

Not a bad idea. Currently it's just doing too much of everything, and it seems to lack a real direction and real counterplay.

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I'm a fan of your third solution and have posted ideas along this line in the Necromancer forum previously. In summary, it made Sand Shades the singular damage dealing skill (pulsing attacks at its location for a shorter duration), made remaining shade skills centered on the Scourge only and devoid of damage and conditions (with the exception of Fear), and revamped Sand Savant mechanics to trade damage and conditions on Sand Shades for healing instead.

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I'd probably do a 2 and a limited 3.Solution 2 i've been suggesting it since pretty much launch of PoF...I've never really though of scourge PBAoE as a problem, i mean, Necros are not very mobile by default, and are also very vulnerable to CC with not many choices of stability and stun breaks. So usually if someone is within the PBAoE of necro it's by their own volition.But i do believe that if that is perceived as a problem (ie people still refuse to run away, which is more of a issue with players not the class), then maybe only allow it to pulse like a shade if he has Desert Shroud active (This in itself would offer counter play, you see the black smoke, get back).

I do disagree though that Barrier is that strong, especially now that so many other classes can get it so easily (at a much lower cost in some cases).

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Nothing short of rendering scourge unviable will "fix" it in the eyes of the playerbase, because anything less than that and people will still die to it (usually by running headlong into a shade loaded with boons and then coming here to cry to Anet when this ends predictably).

Happened to engineer turrets, happened to dragonhunter traps, and it will happen again.

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@"Miles Smiles.8951" said:If they were to go with the third solution then they might actually have to increase all "values across the board"

Yeah. As I said, buffs would have to come with to compensate for these changes, as any of these options would be a very large nerf. However, such a nerf would significantly reduce the problematic aspects of the class while still allowing skilled play.

@"Hyper Cutter.9376" said:Nothing short of rendering scourge unviable will "fix" it in the eyes of the playerbase, because anything less than that and people will still die to it (usually by running headlong into a shade loaded with boons and then coming here to cry to Anet when this ends predictably).

Happened to engineer turrets, happened to dragonhunter traps, and it will happen again.

Dragonhunter traps are still viable. Turrets... less so. But the nerfs to turrets came about when there weren't any elite specs and there weren't a whole lot of options to dealing with the turrets. If turrets were brought back to their original strength now, it'd actually be a subpar build.

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@Vagrant.7206 said:

@"Miles Smiles.8951" said:If they were to go with the third solution then they might actually have to increase all "values across the board"

Yeah. As I said, buffs would have to come with to compensate for these changes, as any of these options would be a very large nerf. However, such a nerf would significantly reduce the problematic aspects of the class while still allowing skilled play.

Yeah, I mean I did vote for that, not that I was clamoring against it.

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3.

There is no reason why the necro should act as a sand shade. Removing this doesn't lower any damage because the shades don't stack, so why not do it?

A shade alone might be bearable, but then combined with the necro himself, if placed next to each other while avoiding overlap, just how big is that aoe?

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@"Hyper Cutter.9376" said:Nothing short of rendering scourge unviable will "fix" it in the eyes of the playerbase, because anything less than that and people will still die to it (usually by running headlong into a shade loaded with boons and then coming here to cry to Anet when this ends predictably).

Happened to engineer turrets, happened to dragonhunter traps, and it will happen again.

Engineer turrets were being spammed to the point of 3+ per match. and it made playing anything that wasn't a bruiser IMPOSSIBLE and made pvp extremely unfun.Dragonhunter traps are fine, and i bet we will see more DH when everything else gets toned down.

Scourge is still over the top. Both in point control and in sustain.

btw blood magic is broken as hell.Merciful intervention was toned down within THREE DAYS of receiving such a fat revive % (20% nerfed to 5% in pvp)So why does necro get to have 35% res FROM ONE TRAIT even if it has a decent cooldown on it.And they have multiple ressing traits!

Transfusion ticks 18% of a total revive also

IMO transfusions reviving functionality is balanced just fine, (FOR REVIVING ONE, not FIVE) but moving bodies every 12 seconds is not balanced in any way.

Those combined are reviving a body over 50% of it downed health, while not actively on the body reviving...only pressing f ONCE then walking away, and the traits res for you half the time.

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3 quite easily and I’ve suggested this before myself.Also sand savant should be removed as it significantly lowers the skill level for scourge.

I definitely think scourge needs some push in the support direction by making barriers basd lower but scale way higher with healing power, possibly traits making barriers last longer or grant protection, or also heal for some amount. Right now you can’t really support anyone with it even if you tried to with some magi amulet or something.

P.S core necro (and a few others such as core ranger and condi rev, engi etc.) need some love to be viable condition specs but obviously NOT as oppressive as scourge and not as braindead.

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@"Razor.6392" said:3.

There is no reason why the necro should act as a sand shade. Removing this doesn't lower any damage because the shades don't stack, so why not do it?

A shade alone might be bearable, but then combined with the necro himself, if placed next to each other while avoiding overlap, just how big is that aoe?

Except there is. Placing your sand shade has a casting time of 0.5 seconds; the shade skills themselves have a delay now; add animation times and the natural delay of online-games and that would result in your first shade skill having a "cast time" of approx. 2 seconds in PvP, which is just stupid and would kill the necro in many encounters since shade skills are the Scourges main-dmg- and defensive-skills. Scourges are already very vulnerable to sniper-builds (they are basically free kills for deadeyes and lb-rangers) and have a major disadvantage against stealthy enemies due to the shade-skill-delay. I'd actually say that the class is fine the way it is currently. You aren't forced to run into these circles anyway and Scourges die fast if people focus them.

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So I don't agree with any of these ...and can't vote...Feel's bad man...Who knows maybe author didn't consider that their might be people out there that complete disagree with him...Or wanted to create illusion that it's consensus around pvp'er that scourge is broken...

...Who know's poll idea here is just bad...there is no point voting in poll that proves itself

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I agree with some of these solutions, especially number 3, but only if traiting for Sand Savant. Else, functionality doesn't change on the necro directly.Another change I suggested, and have revised, was adding a 5 second period between charge usage on sand shades, if the radius of traited sand savant is not brought down (i think a 1.5 times the size of the regular shades would suffice, if not then maybe a 240 radius shade). If not this, then a 5 second cooldown, period, of sand savant shades, no more charges of them. A number of things can be done to help balance the shades, but i do like the idea that solution 3 provides. got me thinking.

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Disappointing to see so many people vote for 3, if you do that you'd have to give scourge some real defenses, since this would mean if they get caught out of their shades or can't place it in time they'd have no barrier or second health bar to defend themselves with. Seems to me like you all want scourge Robbie like reaper or core because where you can just buttonmash it to death without even worrying about counter play

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@"Mr Godlike.6098" said:So I don't agree with any of these ...and can't vote...Feel's bad man...Who knows maybe author didn't consider that their might be people out there that complete disagree with him...Or wanted to create illusion that it's consensus around pvp'er that scourge is broken...

...Who know's poll idea here is just bad...there is no point voting in poll that proves itself

Because if you don't main a scourge, you'll realize that scourges are still broken, despite all the nerfs. This hints at a significantly more fundamental problem with their implementation -- despite repeated nerfs, scourge continue to over-represent in PvP and is still one of the most braindead specs to play despite its effectiveness. If you aren't a firebrand healer or another scourge, they are simply one of the most obnoxious specs to fight.

I don't want Scourge to be weaker. I just want it to stop being braindead. It irritates me to no end that a "good" scourge player can behave just like an AI (press all the buttons and run at your target) and get rewarded for it.

@Coolguy.8702 said:Disappointing to see so many people vote for 3, if you do that you'd have to give scourge some real defenses, since this would mean if they get caught out of their shades or can't place it in time they'd have no barrier or second health bar to defend themselves with. Seems to me like you all want scourge Robbie like reaper or core because where you can just buttonmash it to death without even worrying about counter play

Did you not read all of 3's description? Barrier, condi cleanses, and buffs would still apply to a scourge outside of the sand shade, but no offensive shade skills would apply. And I'd be in favor of buffs to its survivability if such a nerf were chosen. The amount of damage a scourge can put out when stunlocked is ridiculous. There's no counterplay to it.

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Did you not read all of 3's description? Barrier, condi cleanses, and buffs would still apply to a scourge outside of the sand shade, but no offensive shade skills would apply. And I'd be in favor of buffs to its survivability if such a nerf were chosen. The amount of damage a scourge can put out when stunlocked is ridiculous. There's no counterplay to it.

That wouldn't make any sense at all, that would mean shade skills would have to be reworked. Ever consider the reason why scourge can put out so much damage when stunlocked is because they have the least amount of access to stability, mobility and stunbreaks .Try rolling a scourge yourself, the amount of cc people can put on you is fucking stupid (it's like once every .5 seconds) Although I could see Sand Savant being reworked (since that's what most people complain about), in exchange for something worthwhile

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@Coolguy.8702 said:Disappointing to see so many people vote for 3, if you do that you'd have to give scourge some real defenses, since this would mean if they get caught out of their shades or can't place it in time they'd have no barrier or second health bar to defend themselves with. Seems to me like you all want scourge Robbie like reaper or core because where you can just buttonmash it to death without even worrying about counter play

I was voting for the lesser of two evils.I myself don't want scourge nerfed, but i know its going to come.better to have something else like radius reduced or cc or number 3 than 5 or 1 which would wreck scourge 5 would put massive cooldowns on everything including cc, and it would be like reaper all over.

Out of all solutions 3 and 2 are the best ones.

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