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Developer Update - June 2009 PvE and PvP Skill Balances


The major goals of this update are to balance certain overpowered skills, increase the effectiveness of Spawning Power, make Ritualist spirits viable in PvE, and increase the effectiveness of Paragons in PvE through the Command and Leadership lines.

Other than a few niche builds, the Ritualist and Paragon have had trouble finding a place in PvE. The basic concepts of these professions make them very strong in PvP and over the course of balancing them for competitive play, they've become underpowered or awkward to use in PvE.

The Paragon has a lot of strength as a support class where it buffs up the party by adding survivability and damage. In this vein, we've focused on the Command and Leadership lines in PvE and given them new utility while restoring some of their original power.

The Ritualist's primary attribute, Spawning Power, is a little underpowered and doesn't offer players enough of an incentive to play a primary Ritualist when they want to use weapon spells. We doubled Spawning Power's effect on weapon spells, an increase that should make it more appealing as a primary attribute and make the weapon spells of secondary Ritualists weaker in comparison. Ritualists use binding rituals to summon spirits which can either heal and protect, or deal damage and provide utility on the battlefield. The metered pace of building a base of spirits is balanced for PvP. In PvE, however, where the battlefield rapidly shifts ever forward, there is rarely time to establish a spirit base before the encounter is over and the party moves on, leaving the spirits behind. Drastically reducing the casting time of all binding rituals in PvE will give Ritualists ample time to summon spirits to each encounter. Also, the increase to the maximum level of spirits will help them survive longer during encounters.


General Playbalance Changes



Palm Strike: increased recharge time to 7 seconds.

Palm Strike's recharge was perfectly positioned to combo with Trampling Ox for consistent knockdowns with a frequency that made it difficult to counter and not fun to play against. We increased Palm Strike's recharge to break up the timing of this combo's knockdown effect.


Visions of Regret: functionality changed to: "For 10 seconds, target foe and adjacent foes take 15..45 damage whenever they use a skill and 5..50 damage if not under the effects of another Mesmer hex."

Visions of Regret has been extremely powerful, particularly when stacked with other hexes in a team-based hex-overload build, or just coupled with a similar skill (such as Empathy or Backfire), so we've limited how much damage it does in these circumstances.


Weaken Knees: decreased duration to 1..16 seconds; decreased Health degeneration to -1..4; decreased damage to 5..10.

Lingering Curse: decreased recharge time to 5 seconds; increased Energy cost to 15.

Suffering: increased recharge time to 20 seconds.

Weaken Knees was too good without any points in Curses, so we've reduced its damage output and scaled the Health degeneration based on the Curses attribute. Lingering Curse and Suffering were a little too good at pressuring enemy teams because they are easily maintained on all enemy targets. To make this more balanced, we've increased the Energy cost of Lingering Curse and the recharge of Suffering.


Ether Prism: increased recharge time to 20 seconds.

Savannah Heat (PvP): increased Energy cost to 15.

In Heroes' Ascent, Elementalists carrying Savannah Heat, Searing Heat, and Teinai's Heat have been prevalent in the meta for some time. While the numbers on Searing Heat and Teinai's Heat are at a good place for balance, Savannah Heat's Energy cost was clearly too low for its powerful effect in close quarters PvP. A higher cost should apply more Energy pressure to the build and slow down its damage output. Because this is an issue for PvP, we split the skill and only changed it there. Unlike other Energy management skills, Ether Prism has both damage mitigation and Energy gain with no downside, causing it to grow popular in all PvP formats. Increasing Ether Prism's recharge slows down the influx of Energy and brings it more in line with other Energy management skills.


Ritualist



Spawning Power: increased effect on Weapon Spells to 4% per rank.

Brutal Weapon: decreased duration to 10..40 seconds.

Guided Weapon: decreased duration to 4..10 seconds.

Resilient Weapon: decreased duration to 5..15 seconds.

Vital Weapon: decreased duration to 5..30 seconds.

Wailing Weapon: decreased duration to 3..9 seconds.

Warmonger's Weapon: decreased duration to 3..13 seconds.

Weapon of Shadow: decreased duration to 3..8 seconds.

Weapon of Warding (PvP): decreased duration to 3..8 seconds.

Weapon of Warding (PvE): decreased duration to 3..8 seconds.

As a primary attribute, Spawning Power lacked compelling reasons to put attribute points into it. Players also had little motivation to choose primary Ritualist over taking it as a secondary. By increasing the effect of Spawning Power on weapon spells and adjusting the skills to compensate, we hope to encourage Spawning Power for builds with weapon spells while toning down those spells for secondary Ritualists.


Agony (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Anguish (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; decreased Energy cost to 15; increased Spirit level to 1..11.

Bloodsong (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Destruction (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Disenchantment (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second; decreased Energy cost to 15; decreased recharge time to 30 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Displacement (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Dissonance (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Earthbind (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second; decreased recharge time to 30 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Empowerment (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Gaze of Fury (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Life (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Pain (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Preservation (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Recovery (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Recuperation (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Rejuvenation (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..20.

Restoration (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second; decreased recharge time to 30 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..14.

Shadowsong (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second; decreased recharge time to 30 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..10.

Shelter (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Soothing (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second; decreased Energy cost to 15; decreased recharge time to 45 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Union (PvE): decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Wanderlust (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second; increased Spirit level to 1..12.

Armor of Unfeeling (PvE): decreased Energy cost to 5. Functionality changed to: "For 10..35 seconds, your Spirits takes 50% less damage and are immune to critical attacks."

Signet of Spirits (PvE): increased recharge time to 20 seconds. Functionality changed to: "Create three level 1..12 Spirits. These Spirits deal 5..30 damage with attacks. These Spirits die after 60 seconds."

Signet of Creation (PvE): increased recharge time to 30 seconds. Functionality changed to: "For 5..30 seconds, the next 1..3 Binding Rituals cast instantly."

Signet of Binding (PvE):functionality changed to: "You lose 200..50 Health. Gain control of target Spirit."

Spiritleech Aura: functionality changed to: "Skill. For 5..20 seconds, all of your spirits within earshot deal 5..20 less damage and steal 5..20 Health when they attack."

Spirit Siphon:functionality changed to: "The Spirit nearest you loses all Energy. You gain 15..50% of that Energy."

We split all binding rituals into PvE and PvP versions so that we could better balance them for PvE without negatively affecting competitive play. We drastically decreased all the cast times because it takes too long for a Ritualist to build an effective spirit base while keeping up with the rapid pace at which most parties move through PvE encounters. Spirit also tend to die quickly in PvE, where their low level and Health make them prime targets for the monster AI. So, to make spirits survive longer, we raised their maximum level by four. Certain binding rituals had a high Energy cost or lengthy recharge to balance their powerful effects for PvP. Since this kind of balance is less of an issue in PvE, we've adjusted the numbers on those binding rituals accordingly. We also reworked certain spirit-related skills and split the ones we feel could create a potential balance issue in PvP.


Paragon



"Brace Yourself!" (PvE): functionality changed to: "For 5..12 seconds, the next time target other ally would be knocked down, all nearby foes take 15..75 damage instead."

"Can't Touch This!" (PvE): functionality changed to: "For 20 seconds, the next 1..5 touch skills used against allies within earshot fail."

"Fall Back!" (PvE): decreased recharge time to 20 seconds.

"Find Their Weakness!" (PvE): functionality changed to: "For 5..20 seconds, the next time target ally attacks, that ally deals +5..50 damage and inflicts a Deep Wound for 5..20 seconds."

"Go for the Eyes!" (PvE): decreased recharge time to 0 seconds; increased chance to land a critical hit to 30..100%.

"Help Me!" (PvE): decreased recharge time to 10 seconds. Functionality changed to: "For 1..10 seconds, you gain 15..90 Health and other allies' spells targeting you cast 50% faster."

"Help Me!" (PvP): functionality changed to: "For 1..10 seconds, you gain 5..50 Health and other allies' spells targeting you cast 50% faster."

"Incoming!" (PvE): decreased Energy cost to 5; decreased recharge time to 20 seconds.

"Never Give Up!" (PvE): decreased recharge time to 15 seconds.

"Never Surrender!" (PvE): decreased recharge time to 15 seconds.

"Stand Your Ground!" (PvE): decreased Energy cost to 10; decreased recharge time to 20 seconds.

"We Shall Return!" (PvE): increased Energy cost to 25; increased recharge time to 30 seconds. Functionality changed to: "All party members in earshot are resurrected with 25..50% Health and 5..20% Energy."

Anthem of Disruption (PvE): decreased casting time to 1 second.

Bladeturn Refrain (PvE): functionality changed to: "For 20 seconds, target non-Spirit ally has a 5..20% chance to block incoming attacks. This Echo is reapplied every time a Chant or Shout ends on that ally."

Signet of Return (PvE): decreased recharge time to 5 seconds.

Blazing Finale (PvE): increased Burning duration to 1..7 seconds.

Defensive Anthem (PvE): decreased Energy cost to 10.

For the Paragon, we have split numerous skills so that we can restore the power to PvE versions that was lost in previous balance updates targeted at PvP. We also tweaked and reworked the functionality of a handful of skills to make them better suited for the PvE environment. These changes are meant to serve as a gentle reminder that the Paragon is an excellent support class, well-suited to the speed and mobility of PvE content.


Sunspear



Cry of Pain: functionality changed to: "Interrupt target foe's skill. If that foe was suffering from a Mesmer Hex, that foe and all foes in the area take 25...50 damage and -3..5 Health degeneration for 10 seconds."

Vampirism: decreased casting time to .75 seconds; increased Spirit level to 4..14.

Cry of Pain's strength is the speed at which high amounts of damage can be dealt to big groups of enemies. By separating half its damage into Health degeneration, we make multiple copies of the skill not stack well and limit synergy with Visions of Regret (which often serves as the required hex to trigger devastating damage). This change is targeted at builds that use multiple copies of the skill to quickly spike down large groups of all difficulties. Vampirism has also had its casting time reduced and spirit level increased as part of our changes to binding rituals.


Runs, Solo Farming, and Speed Clears



Players have long asked for our viewpoint on these ways of playing through content. For the most part, we think these are acceptable ways of playing Guild Wars but may occasionally take steps to increase their difficulty or even block a particular build. For instance, when it comes to Shadow Form, there is little concern about solo farming in most places; however, the speed clears of our most difficult content have become fast enough to warrant a more watchful eye. Over the coming months we will monitor these areas and, starting with Cry of Pain, make adjustments where necessary.


Zaishen Quests


The PvE-oriented Zaishen Quests were rewarding fewer Zaishen Coins than non-repeatable quests should. We have increased coin payout across the board to more appropriately reward players for completing these tasks. The objectives of the Random Arena Zaishen Quest required more time than was intended for its reward, so we lowered the required number of wins to complete the quest. Last week, we also reduced the rewards for the Hero Battles Zaishen Quest in response to players who were manipulating the outcome of matches to gain fast rewards. This lowered Zaishen Coin reward more accurately reflects the time it takes to complete the quest.