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Nerfing responsibly + Balance suggestions for each class


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Why simply nerfing outliers is a poor strategy

I've made numerous posts about my thought process in regards to nerfs. To reiterate, I do not believe that simply existing in the meta is a large enough offense to warrant a nerf. If a build is strong, then it stands to reason that it will contain aspects that are difficult to play around. That's simply the nature of the beast. You can nerf the aspects of the build that gives people trouble, but as you strip away mechanics, you simultaneously strip away counterplay.

Lets say you have two powerful condi builds in the meta. You rightfully point both out as outliers. Both get nerfed, and now condi as a whole is weaker. The remaining condi builds are playble, but none are particularly strong or popular. You might clap yourself on the back and say "Great, now the game is more balanced"

Suddenly a new complaint arises. Weakness is too strong. It wasn't as big a problem previously because condi was more prevalent in the meta. Builds that abused weakness were kept in check by condi builds because weakness does not affect condi dps. Something which previously existed as a check to weakness was removed. Counterplay was removed. You respond by nerfing weakness.

Suddenly Power builds become too strong because the builds which abused weakness are no longer keeping them in check. Weakness no longer exists as a viable method of countering these builds. The cycle continues ad infinitum.

This example is heavily simplified. There are bound to be additional factors, however the point I'm making is that We should not respond to every meta build by nerfing it.

You'll shake up the meta, but you will not necessarily make it any more balanced. Nerf incorrectly, such as what happened to Druid, Scourge, and Chrono, and you may end up removing a spec from play entirely.

When should Outliers be nerfed?

Problems arise when a build starts to abuse game mechanics in a way that creates degenerate gameplay. Perhaps the skill floor of a build is so low that a player is able to gain great success with the build despite putting in very low effort. Examples of these types of builds include Symbolbrand and Minion Necro (if allowed to be strong)

Perhaps the build, when played at a competent level, completely shuts out and overpowers every other option. Before repeated nerfs hit it. Mirage was in this state once upon a time. If the mirage was good, your best bet was not to attempt to fight it at all unless you were playing a very specific class/build (thief, water weaver) or were simply a better mirage.

It's important to ask when a build is healthy for the meta or unhealthy. On the flip side of the coin, builds like power rev are healthy in spite of their strength because the class has clear weaknesses. If the rev makes mistakes, a good player has ample opportunity to exploit them. This is why it gets a reputation of being hard to play.

Thief is healthy for the game even when it is meta. It does it's job well, but is very exploitable when it makes a mistake. There's a good reason why people say that a good thief will carry a game, but a bad thief is worse than useless.

What are some changes that you suggest?

Going down the list of classes, here are a few examples of changes that I would consider making. I am no balance expert, so players more knowledgeable than myself may have better suggestions. I welcome them if you have them. It's about time we shift the discussion away from "what is an outlier" to "what is healthy?" If you have a suggestion that would help bring about a healthier and more enjoyable PvP, I would like to hear them.

Warrior - Hammer should recieve some damage back. Heavily telegraphed CC's like back-breaker deserve to deal more damage than CC skills with little telegraph.

Revenant - Mallyx True Nature flip should have a tell. The skill itself isn't an issue, condi transfer is a perfectly fine mechanic in it's own right, but a player should be better equipped to play around it if they know it's coming. Energy costs have gotten a tad out of hand due to repeated nerfs. Tone down glint, and start to undo some of the energy cost nerfs to Shiro and Mallyx.

Guardian - Support Firebrand is perfectly fine as a build archetype. It enables it's allies, but requires some protection in order to truly thrive. I wouldn't mind seeing a few of the nerfs to support firebrand reverted, such as the heal tome nerf. Axe symbol, however should be toned down.

Elementalist - Contrary to popular belief, Lightning rod should crit. The air trait line is built around crits, fury, and crit damage modifiers. However, Lightning rod should not apply weakness. Instead, it can grant fury upon sucessfully landing a proc.

Mesmer - Give mirage its dodge roll back. Adjust how IH works with condi ambushes. Chronomancer is plagued by a pletora of issues. Chronophantasma and Continum split make this class difficult to balance. I'll leave more knowledgeable mesmers to debate on how to combat this.

Necromancer - Bunker necro should be more punishable when it makes mistakes. Unholy sanctuary can have its cooldown increased to 90 seconds, matching the cooldown of Rune of Rebirth. However, consider giving Core shroud 5 stability so that Necros feel less like ping pong balls in teamfights. You can also grant this functionality to Scourge's desert shroud.

Thief - Buff Pulmonary Impact. It's been severely over nerfed. However, consider giving players more counterplay againt stealth. Stealth attacks can reveal the thief during their windup so players have a chance to play around skills like backstab. This would allow for these skills to hit harder as a result, and reward thieves who manage to pick opportunities to land these skills against disabled targets.

Engineer - Scrapper hammer autos should hit harder than mortar kit autos. It's a melee weapon with long windup on its attacks. It should hit harder than it currently does. Kits could also use some updating.

Ranger - Point Blank shot should have a bigger tell. It does not need a cast time increase. Giving it a more distinguishable animation should help players of lower skill levels play around it better while leaving ranger virtually untouched in higher tiers.

Every class - Start fixing bugs such as Unrelenting assault failing to work properly. Can we also update the tooltip for Jaunt? It still states that it has 3 charges when it only has 2 in PvP.

This sums up my thoughts on PvP. I welcome any discussion about the suggestions listed here.

I also have a question for the rest of you. I'm sure we can all think of at least one build that we hate, but which builds would you say are healthy for the game, even when strong?

I gave the example of power rev, but as a rev main, I won't deny that I am a bit biased. I'm curious to hear what you all think.

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wouldn't mind seeing small nerfs over time instead of utter obliteration. I get that some things are OP and need to be adjusted, but too often these things become unviable and the spec relying on them either resorts to cheesier tactics or falls out of the meta. I think this combined with buffing UP builds to counter OP ones would be the way to go, at least that's what I would do. lastly, having good game knowledge goes a long way in knowing what requests to ignore.

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