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[Willbender] [PvE and PvP] My feedback, perceived issues and some proposals

Wielder Of Magic.3950

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I hereby present my feedback on the Willbender elite spec for the Guardian class. I will divide my feedback into several sections (because I have a lot to say, but hopefully less than I had with Harbinger lol), and will try to look at things from both a PvE and PvP perspective. Before the beta started I thought that out of the three BETA specs Willbender easily was in the best place. After playing it and trying out a few things, I feel like the spec has a lot more issues than I thought it would have. It’s absolutely salvageable, but Anet does need to get to work in my opinion.


The PvE DPS numbers:

The power damage in PvE seems fine, I believe current benchmarks are sitting around 37k. This makes it stronger than DH, but not as broken as the benchmarks for Harbinger and Virtuoso. So from that perspective, it seems Willbender is sort of balanced. Like with all the specs, the numbers are not the problem (at least not in PvE). Condi Willbender does not seem like a thing, but with minor adjustments it could become one for the people that want it (and without stretching the spec identity thin).


Possible issue with the theme:

Virtue focused, high mobility martial arts assassin guardian?  That is a lot to take in. But that is not necessarily bad. I’m cool with the idea,but the actual gameplay could use some tweaking.

Possible issue with the Mechanic:
Zippity-zap virtues with effects and fields?  I can see the potential, no issue with this. I do think that the animations and activation times could use some tweaking. Right now they are a bit clunky and don’t flow well into other actions, on top of being able to see them coming from a mile away, meaning you will never catch someone in PvP with it ( in fact, you will just get punished while being locked in the virtue animations, or any Willbender animation for that matter).


Some Proposals:
1. Perhaps virtue casting can be close to instant like Thief Steal or Guardian’s own Judge Intervention?


2. Clean up the animations so you are not locked into them. Especially Justice has this issue.


3. Willbender has plenty of engagement through virtues, but almost no disengagement. Perhaps a flip-over skill while the virtue is active, allowing you to shadowstep back to your starting point, but at the cost of a higher cooldown?

Possible issue with the off-hand sword skills:
I feel like this could use a few tweaks on sword 4, the pay-off does not feel strong enough currently to warrant using it, it’s an inferior revenant sword 4 and in PvE focus still seems to be stronger. A spec not using its own weapontype in PvE seems like a failure in my eyes ( don’t hate on me DH players).



Buff it's numbers, cooldown and/or speed to make it less clunky and in PvE damagewise at least equal to focus.


Possible issue with artwork of utility skills and traits:  
I find the artwork for utility skills, traits and the off-hand sword skills to be...oversimplified. They don’t fit in with the style that other guardian skills have, they miss that little bit extra.


Give the artwork some more quality and detail before launch.


Possible issues with Utility skills and some problematic PvP thoughts:
I understand the martial arts vibe,  but underwhelming effects and long animation locks are holding this part of the spec back in my opinion, on top of it needing some additional ‘oomph’.

To me the spec feels like its PvP component isn’t fleshed out yet, with clunky locked animations, nothing to keep your target from running away, and a lot of ‘step in’ and almost no ‘step out’, while also missing the damage to burst something down as a ‘+1 role’. Even with Power for Power it feels like it’s not enough (probably because it’s hard to keep Lethal Tempo up in PvP), while still making you extremely squishy. You are not a glass cannon like a thief. You are just glass.


A few possible Proposals/ideas:

1. Start with cleaning up the animations.


2. Perhaps some of the skills could lose the shadowstep (we have enough engage options) and get something else instead, like a combo field, projectile block/endurance/you name it, just to give Willbender some staying power (you are already losing toughness and passive aegis) that it really needs in PvP.


3. Maybe give Willbender something to prevent your target from running away (and give up some of its leaps/shadowstepping in exchange)like a lesser Hammer 5 upon virtue use, and also something to disengage. Thief works because it can not just step in, it can also step out.

 Willbender can almost solely step in from my experience. Perhaps Virtues can get a flip-over when used that return you to your previous location at the cost of a longer cooldown (possibly with a trait if baseline makes this broken)? That way you can at least have some form of escape from bad engagements.


4. I also feel like Heaven’s Palm could use an activation time reduction. With almost 2 seconds cast time that skill is never going to land. Either that or buff it with some side effects.


5. Whirling Light should not forcefully move us forward, please allow us to simply move wherever we want while channeling. The forced movement leads to potentially very bad positioning without being able to control it.


6. Reversal of Fortune is a heal skill that you can actually get cc’ed out of. I am not sure if that is a bug or by design (the skill talks about negating, not blocking), but that feels counter-intuitive to what the skill tries to do. Either make it so you don’t get cc’d out of it, or give it some stacks of stability for the duration its active maybe?


Overall the physical skills could do with some buffing I feel. Less animation locks, lower cooldowns, better damage, and some unique effects (AoE reveal maybe?)

Possible issues with core Traits:
I think Willbender has quite a few trait issues as it stands. More so than the other specs, Willbender interacts poorly with a lot of core traits (thanks to Ezrael.6859 for this extensive list):

Fiery Wrath
Foes are almost never burning now that Justice behaves differently.  

Zealous Scepter
Only when Justice active procs,so far that makes it worse when compared to Core / DH / FB.

Justice is Blind
 No light aura.
Inner Fire
Foes are almost never burning now that Justice behaves differently.
Radiant Power
Foes are almost never burning now that Justice behaves differently.
Purity of Body
There's no passive Resolve now, so how is this supposed to work?
Unscathed Contender
 No passive Aegis anymore , making this even less realistic to keep up than it already was.
Absolute Resolve
No passive increase (might increase the active heal, but even that would be a bit underwhelming) if you choose it, it totally replaces the tooltip mention of movement inhibiting condition removal, meaning you either lose this effect or the tooltip is bugged.
Permeating Wrath
Only does AoE burns for 6-8s while Justice is active. It's awful compared to Core / DH / FB passive, you simply lose way too much burning uptime to make this even worth considering.
Battle Presence
 Now shares a none existent passive, and does not redeem itself by sharing alacrity from Phoenix Protocol either.
Indomitable Courage
 Breaks Stun but doesn't apply the Stability until you complete the shadowstep, so you can be CC'd and fail the cast, it needs to instantly apply Stability.

Find a way to make these traits function when using the Willbender spec,perhaps by giving them a different trigger than passive virtues or automatically triggering an effect after X amount of actions. With Willbender losing passive virtue effects it cannot be that it also loses so many functioning traits from its core kit.

Possible issues with Willbender Traits:


The Adept traits: Boon Pact, Power for Power and Conceited Curate:

All three adept traits are essentially  “Gain + X in stat Y, but lose some of stat Z”. That is pretty boring and uninspired, can we get some traits that rewards us for actively doing something?



Perhaps something that boosts some of our core mechanics? Perhaps Willbender flames can affect symbols and wards? Or give the virtues mobile combofields?  Or give additional effects if you land a virtue on someone using a skill/doing XYZ?  Or give it access to some dazes or boon rips, taking on less of a thief and more of a spellbreaker role? Or a trait that improves off-hand sword skills? Just spouting random thoughts, anything but boring + X stat traits please!


Righteous Sprint:

Adept that gives movement speed and swiftness when using a virtue... With the virtue zappity zap mobility this sounds like complete overkill, not to mention it feels like a more OP version of Dragonhunter’s Soaring Devastation.



You can already shadowstep/chase across the entire continent (just not back), this is overdoing it. The idea is probably to help chase down your targets, but why not give Willbender something to trap them inside your virtue field? Like a small version of Guardian Hammer 5 with an internal cooldown (not for the entire virtue duration, but perhaps for the first 2-3 seconds or so)? You still get the effect of sitting on top of your target, but also get rewarded for active play if you catch someone, since you need to time it correctly for the ‘trapping ring’.

My reasoning here being you have plenty of ways to get to your target, but nothing to keep them from running away once you get there.

 Or perhaps make us of my earlier idea where your F skills get a flip-over that return you to your starting point at the cost of a higher CD (so you can at least reposition if your engage falls flat, this spec could really use some reliable disengagement skills)?

Restorative Virtues:

Sounds overly complicated and the best way to get value out of it seems to spam your virtues on top of each other. Blindly needing to spam stuff is never a good thing.


I would propose to change this to ‘attacks inside of a virtue’s effect/while a virtue is active (so you aren't screwed when something leaves the effect) reduce the recharge of the active virtue by X amount’. Honestly, considering the focus this spec has on virtues you could make an argument for this trait to become baseline.


Holy Reckoning:
Interesting trait, mostly fine by me, just some minor suggestions.



Perhaps it could actually make the Willbender Flames inflict burning as well? Burn the heretics vibes? Or make the Flames increase in range for every succesful hit up to a maximum radius ( for raiders: let it behave like a miniature Deimos black)? Or when a virtue effect ends make Willbender Flames follow the Willbender for a short duration?


Vanguard Tactics:
This seems to serve as just an excuse to dump resistance and resolution on guardian, the profession with a massive amount of condition cleansing as it is. I feel like this could be changed into something a bit more interesting.


Some Proposals:


1. Perhaps a trait that enhances physical skills?  The Willbender currently has zero traits associated with its utility skill type. Perhaps this could give back a shadow step to one (provided you take some mobility away that it has now, I think 7 shadowsteps/lunges in the Willbender skillset is overdoing it)?


2. Or Perhaps  add a reflect or a combo field to some of them, something to make the physicals a bit more interesting and unique from each other (split it so some physicals enhance dps, and other help the Willbender survive, considering if you take Power for Power you are squishier than paper).

Possibly this is way too much of a PvE perspective (I see how this would prevent jumping in and instantly getting chilled/crippled/blinded, but I am not sure if this trait is the best and most engaging/elegant solution).


Lethal Tempo:
Requires active play to both gain and keep the bonus, zero complaints, just a suggestion:



 Only suggestions I would have is to make it boost condition damage as well. That way a condi or grieving Willbender could become a viable off-meta build. Perhaps also change the functionality/requirement between PvE and PvP, because in PvP you are rarely going to get these stacks up to a meaningful level.


Phoenix Protocol:

The alacrity can NOT be shared through something like Battle Presence. If it could this would potentially be an extremely interesting trait. But now I think it will be borderline useless and should be replaced with something else.


Some Proposals: 

1. I like the grandmasters focusing on virtues, Perhaps make Resolve an ammo skill, and/or make it increase its radius for every time it hits something. Essentially taking away from mobility from the physical skills, and give some of it back to the F2 through this trait. Make virtues the primary mobility option, supported by sword (which needs animation clean up and could use some additional damage), but not virtues AND sword AND physicals. That’s just clutter in my opinion.


2. Or maybe this trait can give back virtue passives ( or passives with reduced efficiency/longer intervals), because right now the trade-off between active virtues and losing virtue passives often isnt worth it.


Tyrant's Momentum: 
Lethal tempo going from a 3%/6s/15% damage boost total to a 5%/4s/25% boost.  
It will do the job for PvE, but in PvP it’s extremely hard to keep the stacks going (once again, because you have nothing to trap people inside the virtue effects). I would have preferred for this to be a unique effect that is not tied to Lethal Tempo however. But at least it promotes active play.



I feel like this could have been a way to perhaps specialise into Willbender flames even more, or allow whirl combo finishers to increase Willbender flames damage and radius up to a certain threshold, or allow Willbender Flames to spawn and/or follow the Willbender for a duration. If you combine this with my earlier idea of perhaps allowing Willbender flames to interact with symbols/wards you can probably keep the damage bonus this trait tries to bring ( +10%), but bring it with more active skill usage. Just an idea, not saying it is the best.

Deathless Courage:
No big complaints, rewards active play, changes our gameplay, and is potentially very powerful. More like this please!



I like it, but perhaps tweak the activation time/animation, even with instant stunbreak from virtues traited it appears to have an activation time, making it feel very unwieldly to use.  Keep a close eye on how this behaves in PvP and WvW in case this becomes infinitely chainable.


Closing statement

I think Willbender is very close to greatness, but in its current state isnt ready for release. It has some problems with its Virtues and traits that really need to be adressed, sword off-hand needs buffing, animation and animation-locking needs a clean up, physical skills need some changing, and the PvP aspect overall needs some serious looking at.

The core idea for Willbender is extremely solid, and I can see a very interesting spec below all of its issues. But there is a lot to be done. A lot.

Just like with Harbinger, I am not saying my ideas are the best solutions or even good solutions. But I do hope they bring some of Willbender’s issues into the spotlight, so Anet can think of ways to fix them.

Thank you for reading (and hopefully a Virtuoso feedback thread from me tomorrow, need some additional testing still)!



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