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Developer Update - May 2010 Skill Balances


This update is primarily targeted at improving the role of the Mesmer in PvE. Mesmers excel at control and disruption. These tactics are a natural fit for PvP, where enemy deaths are not inevitable and disrupting the right skill at the right moment can lead to the collapse of an entire team. In PvE, the focus tends to be on more direct factors like group damage and quick turnaround between battles. Our changes are intended to allow Mesmers to fit into current PvE play patterns. Many of these changes do not apply to PvP, where the shutdown capabilities of the Mesmer (and hex spells in general) are already strong.

In addition to the Mesmer-related changes, this update features significant balance adjustments to elite areas and a handful of changes to address other balance issues. The elite area changes are a follow up to the Shadow Form update in February.

 

Fast Casting


From a playbalance perspective, Fast Casting is one of the most interesting primary attributes in Guild Wars. In PvP, where reaction time, spike damage, and interruption are critical elements, it tends to overshadow other caster attributes. In PvE, where interruption and spike damage take a back seat to things like sustained DPS, it is not favored. To address the PvE issue, we've added faster recharge for Mesmer spells to the attribute. To address the PvP issue, we've limited the effects of Fast Casting on secondary profession skills.


Fast Casting: functionality of this attribute changed to: "Fast Casting decreases the activation time of your Spells and Signets. (No effect for non-Mesmer skills with an activation time less than 2 seconds.) In PvE, each rank of Fast Casting decreases the recharge time for your Mesmer Spells by 3%."

The recharge reduction applies only to PvE. This is the first time we've given an attribute different behavior in PvE and PvP and it was not something we chose to do lightly. What we found, however, during the course of testing was that appropriate recharge times for control/disruption skills related directly to the pacing differences between PvE and PvP. It quickly became clear that applying this bonus in both PvE and PvP would require a minimum of 40 additional skill splits. At that point, we determined that having the bonus apply only to PvE was the right course of action.

Because of this change, we have increased the recharge times of several Mesmer skills in order to keep their recharges meaningful:


Cry of Pain: increased recharge to 15 seconds.

Energy Drain: increased recharge to 30 seconds.

Energy Drain (PvP): merged with PvE version; this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.

Energy Tap: increased recharge to 30 seconds.

Energy Tap (PvP): merged with PvE version; this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.

Ether Nightmare: increased recharge to 25 seconds.

Mantra of Recall: increased recharge to 30 seconds.

Power Return: increased recharge to 7 seconds.

Soothing Images: increased recharge to 8 seconds.

Spirit Shackles: increased recharge to 8 seconds.

As a side benefit, this allowed us to unsplit Energy Drain and Energy Tap. They'd previously been split primarily due to their recharge times.

We've also made adjustments to the following Fast Casting skills and PvE effects to make the attribute more valuable.


Fast Skill Activation Effects: items and skills that improve skill activation time can no longer stack higher than 25%. Single effects that improve skill activation over 25% can exceed this cap. (Fast Casting is not included in this cap.)

Mindbender: reduced spell activation time decrease to 20%.

Red Rock Candy Rush: reduced skill activation time decrease to 25%.

Blue Rock Candy Rush: reduced skill activation time decrease to 20%.

Pumpkin Pie: reduced skill activation time decrease to 15%.

Mindbender and the Rock Candy consumables made it possible for any class to have Fast Casting without any attribute investment. Reducing the effectiveness of these elements gives more value to Fast Casting as a primary attribute. Because players could still potentially stack these effects to activate skills faster than Fast Casting alone would make possible, we've also added a cap to the limit that these abilities can stack. Similar to how armor stacking works, a single effect (such as the Halves Casting Time mods for weapons) can break this cap, but multiple smaller effects will not exceed it.


Mantra of Recovery: reduced recharge to 15 seconds.

This skill was reduced in power in a previous update due to abuse on certain PvP builds. Coupled with the recharge reduction provided by Fast Casting, this skill regains some of its previous power in PvE. We've also reduced the recharge time a little to make it easier to keep it maintained without dedicating a large portion of your attribute points to Fast Casting.


Stolen Speed: increased recharge to 12 seconds; changed functionality to: "Elite Hex Spell. For 1...8...10 seconds, spells cast by the target foe and all adjacent foes take 100% longer to cast. Spells targeting these foes that are cast by you or your allies take 50% less time to cast."

Stolen Speed (PvP): increased recharge to 12 seconds; changed functionality to: "Elite Hex Spell. For 1...8...10 seconds, spells cast by the target foe and all adjacent foes take 100% longer to cast. Spells you cast that target these foes take 50% less time to cast."

Stolen Speed worked as a cover hex but wasn't powerful enough to be an Elite skill. This change allows Mesmers to provide a valuable bonus to their team that simultaneously helps to reduce the damage and healing output of foes. Because this kind of change has a high risk of empowering spike builds, we split it for PvP.


 

Interruption


Interruption is a key feature of the Mesmer class but is often too difficult in Hard Mode due to faster cast times from monsters. In addition, the payoff for interrupting something usually isn't strong enough to make up for the skill slots required and for the time spent waiting for an opportunity to interrupt.

In order to improve interruption skills in PvE, we made it more reasonable to interrupt skills in Hard Mode:


Hard Mode: no longer affects monsters' activation speed for skills with default activation times under 2 seconds.

Besides addressing the difficulty of interruption in Hard Mode, we have also made changes to improve the payoff for a successful interrupt.


Complicate: changed functionality to: "Spell. If target foe is using a skill, that skill is interrupted and disabled for target foe and all foes in the area for an additional 5...11...12 seconds."

Cry of Frustration: increased damage to 15...63...75.

Psychic Instability: increased recharge to 12 seconds; changed functionality to: "Elite Spell. Interrupts the target foe's action. If that action is a skill, that foe and all nearby foes are knocked down for 2...4...4 seconds. (50% failure chance with Fast Casting 4 or less.)"

Psychic Instability (PvP): increased recharge to 12 seconds; changed functionality to: "Elite Spell. Interrupts the target foe's action. If that action is a skill, that foe and all adjacent foes are knocked down for 2...3...3 seconds. (50% failure chance with Fast Casting 4 or less.)"

Complicate was a niche skill that we felt comfortable reworking. This new functionality is perfectly suited to PvE where multiple monsters tend to carry the same skill set.

A successful interrupt can effectively cripple a large group of enemies if targeted on a key skill. With an area-of-effect payoff for interrupting a skill, Cry of Frustration allows a Mesmer to play like a Mesmer (focusing on shutting down a target) while helping the party overall. We've increased the damage from Cry of Frustration so that it provides a solid combination of offense and disruption.

We've changed Psychic Instability to affect foes near your target when you successfully interrupt. This allows the Mesmer to help defeat groups of opponents even while concentrating on a single enemy and makes skills like the improved Wastrel's Worry and Chaos Storm much more effective.

We've also changed Psychic Instability to work against all skills, rather than just spells. This makes it useful against more types of creatures and establishes better naming consistency with Psychic Distraction, which already interrupted all skills. In PvP, the new Psychic Instability has a smaller area-of-effect and knockdown duration.


Leech Signet: reduced recharge to 20 seconds.

Signet of Disruption: reduced recharge to 15 seconds.

Signet of Distraction: reduced recharge to 15 seconds.

The recharge times on these skills were very high compared to non-signet interrupts. We've brought them down to more standard interrupt recharge times. The changes to signet-related skills (discussed below) also provide new options for builds using these skills.


Signet of Clumsiness: reduced recharge to 8 seconds; changed functionality to: "Signet. If target foe is attacking, that foe and all adjacent foes are interrupted and take 15...51...60 damage. Any foes using attack skills are knocked down."

Signet of Clumsiness (PvP): reduced recharge to 12 seconds; changed functionality to: "Signet. If target foe is attacking, that foe and all adjacent foes are interrupted and take 15...51...60 damage. Any foes using attack skills are knocked down."

Although attacks are more common than spells, Signet of Clumsiness still requires skill and timing to use effectively. We've added some area of effect damage to improve the payoff for a successful interrupt. In addition to damage, it now has conditional knockdown to provide a greater payoff for especially skillful use.


Tease: changed functionality to: "Elite Spell. If target foe is using a skill, that foe and other foes in the area are interrupted and you steal 0...4...5 Energy from all foes in the area."

When you successfully interrupt a foe, Tease now steals Energy from every foe in the area instead of just interrupted ones. This makes the Energy gain from it less random and more based on player skill in targeting and timing.


Wastrel's Worry: now also deals its damage to all adjacent foes.

Although not an interruption skill itself, Wastrel's Worry usually requires some interruption in order to be guarantee it will deal damage. To support this style of play, where a Mesmer briefly focuses on a single target, we've made the payoff for this skill affect multiple foes.


Web of Disruption: reduced Energy cost to 5.

Web of Disruption is an interesting skill that requires either Shatter Delusions or Drain Delusions to fully take advantage of its secondary effect. We lowered the cost to make simple combos like this efficient.



 

Control and Damage Hexes


Due to the nature of PvE combat, control effects, which take time to impact a battle, tend to be less useful than simply killing opponents. Additionally, recharge times that are appropriate for long-lasting PvP battles against a few opponents are usually far too long for fast-moving, high casualty PvE battles.


Accumulated Pain: reduced Energy cost to 5, reduced recharge time to 12 seconds; increased damage to 15...63...75

Accumulated Pain (PvP): reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 15 seconds.

With the other changes in this update, Illusion Magic builds have strong ways to mitigate physical damage and deal damage over time, but they don't have quite as much punch as Domination Magic builds. We've adjusted the numbers on Accumulated Pain to allow it to provide decent unconditional damage dealing while still working well with hex-stacking builds.

Because skills which provide a Deep Wound and damage tend to be very strong in PvP, we've split this skill. Working with the Test Krewe to determine whether or not the skill needed to be split, they found that the Energy cost and recharge reductions were appropriate in PvP; so we kept those.


Arcane Conundrum: added the following functionality: "When this hex ends, you gain 1...6...7 Energy."

Arcane Conundrum's primary effect only helps against enemy spell-casters. This made it harder to fit into skill bars versatile enough for fighting a range of enemies. Further, as an Illusion Magic hex that is best combined with Domination Magic interrupts, it exacerbates the Mesmer's cross-attribute pressures, especially with the need to use Inspiration Magic for Energy management. The Energy gain makes it generally more useful and helps a Mesmer combine Domination, Illusion, and Fast Casting without also needing to put a lot of points into Inspiration Magic.


Calculated Risk: increased duration to 3...20...24 seconds; reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 7 seconds; changed functionality to: "Hex Spell. For 3...20...24 seconds, target foe's attacks do +10 damage, but there is a 50% chance that the damage from each attack will be done to that foe instead. (Maximum 15...100 damage.)"

Calculated Risk (PvP): increased duration to 3...10...12 seconds; increased recharge to 12 seconds, changed functionality to: "Hex spell. (3...10...12 seconds.) Target foe deals +10 damage. Whenever target foe hits with an attack, there is a 50% chance the damage will be redirected to that foe (maximum 10...60)."

Empathy: added the following functionality: target foe deals 1...12...15 less damage with attacks.

Empathy (PvP): split for PvP; retains original functionality.

In keeping with the theme of the Mesmer both dealing and preventing damage, we've modified Calculated Risk and Empathy to provide a little of each aspect of combat. Both skills were split for PvP, where this combination of effects is extremely potent. The PvP Calculated Risk can only been maintained on a single foe (as opposed to being easily maintainable on 3, as it is in PvE) while the PvP Empathy was left unchanged because it is already a very powerful skill.


Clumsiness: reduced recharge to 8 seconds.

Ineptitude: reduced recharge to 15 seconds; now also hexes adjacent foes.

Mistrust: reduced recharge to 12 seconds; increased damage to 30...114...135.

Mistrust (PvP): increased damage to 10...90...110.

Wandering Eye: reduced Energy cost to 5; increased recharge time to 12 seconds; increased damage dealt to 30...94...110.

Wandering Eye (PvP): increased recharge to 12 seconds.

While other hexes provide more passive, long-lasting effects, Clumsiness, Ineptitude, Mistrust and Wandering Eye all combine defense and offense in an active way. Clumsiness mitigates damage while Wandering Eye deals more. Mistrust works against spells rather than attacks. All of these skills fit very well into a type of Mesmer that fills a clear role in a PvE party. Testing showed the new Clumsiness and Ineptitude to be acceptable in PvP, but Mistrust and Wandering Eye, with their larger areas of effect and higher damage, needed to be split.


Crippling Anguish: reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 12 seconds; increased Health degeneration to 1...7...8; changed duration to 5...17...20; added the following functionality: target foe attacks 50% slower.

Crippling Anguish (PvP): increased Health degeneration to 1...7...8; changed duration to 5...17...20; added the following functionality: target foe attacks 50% slower.

Single target snares in PvE tend to be fairly weak, and the degeneration on this skill was nothing special. We've increased the degeneration significantly, and added in an additional slowing effect for attack speeds, while also reducing the energy cost and recharge. These changes give the skill a lot more versatility and power, making it much more elite worthy. We felt it was safe to buff this skill in PvP, but have kept the Energy cost and recharge the same to keep it as a skill that cannot easily be spammed.


Frustration: reduced recharge to 7 seconds; this skill now deals double damage whenever a skill is interrupted.

Frustration (PvP): split for PvP; retains original functionality.

Frustration is another skill which serves to reward the Mesmer play style, but the amount of bonus damage was low in comparison to the amount of skill and investment required to get it to trigger. By causing double damage on a successful interrupt this skill now more strongly rewards skillful Mesmer play in PvE.


Mantra of Persistence: reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced duration to 5...21...25; reduced hex duration increase to 10...34...40%.

We've reduced the Energy cost to make this skill more reasonable to use, and cut down both its duration and effect to keep it balanced.


Migraine: reduced recharge to 12 seconds; increased Health degeneration to 1...7...8; changed functionality to: "Elite Hex Spell. For 5...17...20 seconds, target foe suffers -1...7...8 Health degeneration and takes 100% longer to activate skills."

Migraine (PvP): reduced recharge to 12; increased Health degeneration to 1...7...8; reduced duration to 3...10...12 seconds; changed functionality to: "Elite Hex Spell. For 3...10...12 seconds, target foe suffers -1...7...8 Health degeneration and takes 100% longer to activate skills."

We've dramatically increased the degeneration and boosted its effects to allow for much easier shutdown of a single target in order to give this skill a unique role and feel. We've kept these functionality changes in PvP, but have reduced the duration so that it cannot be maintained on multiple foes at once.


Panic: reduced Energy cost to 10; increased recharge to 15 seconds; changed functionality to "Elite Hex Spell. For 1...8...10 seconds, target foe and all nearby foes are hexed with Panic. When a foe hexed with Panic successfully uses a skill, all other nearby foes are interrupted."

We reworked Panic as a mass interrupt hex in which the affected foes constantly interrupt each other. This allows a single Mesmer to wreak visible havoc with the enemy team in a way that is unique to the Mesmer profession.


Shared Burden: reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 15 seconds; increased slow percentage to 50%.

Shared Burden (PvP): split for PvP; retains original functionality.

Sum of All Fears: reduced duration to 1...8...10; increased speed reduction to 33%.

Shared Burden's low slow percentage coupled with its high recharge makes it feel inadequate as a standalone skill for slowing enemies. We've increased the slow percentage and lowered the recharge to make it feel more worthy of its elite status. We split this skill for PvP because of the risk of it further empowering hex-based team builds. With the buff to the elite Shared Burden, we had a little room to improve Sum of All Fears a bit as well.


Shatter Delusions: reduced recharge to 6 seconds; now deals damage to adjacent foes.

Shatter Delusions (PvP): now deals damage to adjacent foes.

Shatter Delusions has an interesting mechanic that we feel can be part of a fun way to play a Mesmer. In addition to improving a few skills which synergize with it like Phantom Pain and Web of Disruption, we've lowered the recharge of this skill and given its damage an area of effect to make it more viable against groups of creatures in PvE.



 

Utility


Two of the Mesmer's key utility abilities are enchantment removal and condition spreading. (Disruption, movement control, and punishment are covered elsewhere.)

Enchantment removal is not consistently useful in PvE. Condition spreading generally requires multiple skills to be effective and must be very powerful to justify skill slots that could be taken for damage instead.


Enchanter's Conundrum: reduced recharge to 10 seconds; increased casting penalty for enchantments to 100...180...200%; changed functionality to: "Elite Hex Spell. For 10 seconds, target foe casts enchantments 100...180...200% slower. If target foe is not under the effects of an enchantment when this hex is applied, that foe and all adjacent foes take 10...82...100 damage."

Enchanter's Conundrum (PvP): increased casting penalty for enchantments to 100...180...200%; changed functionality to: "Elite Hex Spell. For 10 seconds, target foe casts enchantments 100...180...200% slower. If target foe is not under the effects of an enchantment when this hex is applied, that foe and all adjacent foes take 10...100 damage."

Enchanter's Conundrum is a powerful damage skill that requires the caster to keep a foe clear of enchantments. The Energy cost and recharge have been changed to reflect the pacing of PvE combat, the damage is no longer conditional on the foe not having a hex, and the skill now deals area of effect damage in order to compensate the Mesmer for needing to focus so heavily on a single target. The area of effect damage should also combo well with Shatter Delusions.


Fevered Dreams: increased recharge to 10 seconds; the Dazed condition is now applied both at the time this hex is cast–if the target has 2 or more conditions–and whenever the target receives 2 or more conditions.

Hypochondria: reduced recharge to 7 seconds; updated description to reflect its actual behavior.

While Hypochondria can be used to create interesting damage spikes using Fragility and Fevered Dreams, repeated uses of this type of combo are limited by Hypochondria's long recharge time. Because of the amount of involvement and difficulty of execution for this kind of tactic to work well, we feel that it won't become overpowered by reducing the recharge a bit. Fevered Dreams also had its functionality adjusted slightly to match its description. This should allow for slightly better Dazed application when used correctly.


Mirror of Disenchantment: reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 15 seconds.

Mirror of Disenchantment (PvP): split for PvP; retains original functionality.

Shatter Enchantment: reduced recharge to 20 seconds.

With our adjustments to Enchanter's Conundrum, it was important to have good options for enchantment removal. We chose Mirror of Disenchantment and Shatter Enchantment because both of them have the potential to fit into PvE play, with Mirror of Disenchantment working against groups of enchanted enemies and Shatter Enchantment helping secure kills. Mirror of Disenchantment has not been changed in PvP, where getting the same enchantment on multiple party members is a key to some builds.




Signets


In general, Mesmer signets do not do interesting enough things to be the focal point for a build. We've made a few adjustments to allow for more interesting usage of signets in builds. First, we improved the elite skill Keystone Signet to be more useful in PvE environments. Second, we improved non-signet skills which work with signets in order to make their effects more desirable. Finally, we addressed weaknesses in individual signets.


Keystone Signet: changed attribute to Fast Casting; reduced recharge to 15 seconds; changed functionality to: "Elite Signet. All of your signets except Keystone Signet are recharged. For 20 seconds, the next 0...5...6 times you use a signet that targets a foe, all other foes adjacent to your target are interrupted and take 15...51...60 damage."

Keystone Signet is meant to be the cornerstone of a signet-heavy build. We've given it a very strong additional effect that should enable new character types.


Mantra of Inscriptions: reduced duration to 5...21...25 seconds; reduced recharge improvement to 10...34...40%.

Mantra of Inscriptions (PvP): merged with PvE version, this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.

Mantra of Signets: reduced cost to 5 Energy; reduced recharge to 20 seconds; changed functionality to: "Stance (10...34...40 seconds) you gain +3 armor for each equipped signet, and you gain 5...49...60 health whenever you use a signet."

Mantra of Signets (PvP): reduced cost to 5 Energy; reduced recharge to 20 seconds; changed functionality to: "Stance. For 10...34...40 seconds, whenever you use a signet, you gain 5...49...60 Health."

Symbolic Celerity: increased duration to 36...55...60; increased Energy cost to 15; increased recharge to 30; changed functionality to: "Enchantment Spell. For 36...55...60 seconds, all of your signets use your Fast Casting attribute instead of their normal attributes."

Currently, many Mesmer signets have their recharge times balanced around the powerful Mantra of Inscriptions. We're reducing the amount of recharge-manipulation for signets so that we can give the signets themselves more reasonable recharge times. (Several of the interrupt signets mentioned in the earlier section are examples of this change.) In addition to these changes, we have reworked Mantra of Signets to provide defense and healing, something many signet builds lack. The reworked Symbolic Celerity allows for use of Signets from a range of attribute lines without making the character less effective.


Signet of Weariness: changed functionality to: "Signet. Target foe and all nearby foes lose 3...7...8 Energy and suffer from Weakness for 1...8...10 seconds."

We added a Weakness component to Signet of Weariness in order to give it more use in PvE, where Energy denial is less effective.


Unnatural Signet: reduced recharge to 10 seconds; changed functionality to: "Signet. Target foe takes 15...63...75 damage. If that foe is under the effects of a hex or enchantment, foes adjacent to your target take 5...41...50 damage."

Unnatural Signet has been reworked as a basic damage skill that fits in a signet build but also encourages build diversity by playing off of hexes. This change also helps unifying naming conventions, with skills like Natural Stride and Nature's Renewal having negative associations with hexes and enchantments.


 

Energy Denial


We do not think we can make Energy denial builds significantly more effective at completely shutting down enemies without making them overpowered, but we do believe we can make them more effective at killing while performing some Energy denial.


Aneurysm: added the following functionality: for each point of Energy gained by the target foe, all adjacent foes lose 1 Energy (maximum 1...24...30).

Aneurysm is a unique skill that synergizes well with the Mesmer's ability to drain Energy. Its main weakness is the difficulty of getting appreciable damage through Energy drain. By allowing it to drain Energy from off-target foes this skill can now combo with itself and other Energy draining skills to deal high damage to targets one after another.


Chaos Storm: changed functionality to: "Spell. Create a Chaos Storm at target foe's location that lasts for 10 seconds. Each second, foes adjacent to this location take 5...21...25 damage and lose 0...2...2 Energy."

The low damage and conditional Energy drain on Chaos Storm gave it little use in PvE. We've increased the damage a bit and made the Energy drain unconditional in order to support both killing and Energy draining tactics without having to rely on second guessing enemy casts.


Energy Surge: reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 15 seconds.

Energy denial skills tend to have high recharge, low damage or both. We've changed Energy Surge to allow for more frequent casts with strong AoE damage. In conjunction with the changes to Fast Casting recharge improvement in PvE, this should allow the skill to more effectively drain Energy and deal damage during battle.


Mind Wrack: changed duration to 5...33...40 seconds; increased damage to target at 0 Energy to 15...83...100; added the following functionality: "Whenever that foe is the target of one of your Mesmer skills, that foe loses 1 Energy and takes 5...21...25 damage per point of Energy lost."

Getting an enemy down to 0 Energy is too specialized a function for general usage, especially with the pacing of PvE fights. To address this, we kept the current behavior (with a damage boost), but added damage and Energy loss that combos well with the other Energy denial skills. The damage boost has the side benefit of giving Mind Wrack different damage numbers than Energy Burn and Energy Surge, making it easier to identify when a foe has been drained of Energy.



 

Underpowered and Narrow Skills


Finally, we looked at skills that were too specialized in function to fit into general usage and at skills that were good in concept but not strong enough.


Illusionary Weaponry: added the following functionality: "You have +5 armor for each Illusion Magic skill you have equipped."

Illusionary Weaponry (PvP): split for PvP; retains original functionality.

To use Illusionary Weaponry properly, a Mesmer must wade into melee combat, but the high damage output from Hard Mode creatures makes this impractical. We've added an armor bonus to this skill in PvE to address that. To keep things balanced in casual PvP formats where enchantment stripping is limited, we've split this skill and kept its original behavior in PvP.


Overload: increased recharge to 4 seconds; changed functionality to: "Spell. Target foe takes 5...33...40 damage. If that foe is using a skill, you deal +5...41...50 damage to that foe and all adjacent foes."

Even with its short recharge, Overload is difficult to bring over skills like Power Spike, which provides an interrupt and deals more damage. We've made Overload's conditional damage apply to all skills so that it's useful against all creatures and changed the bonus damage to be area-of-effect in order allow the Mesmer to contribute damage against multiple foes even while focusing on one.


Phantom Pain: reduced Energy cost to 5; increased degeneration to 1...3...4.

Triggering the Deep Wound effect on Phantom Pain manually requires another skill (Shatter Delusions or Drain Delusions), so we've lowered the Energy cost on Phantom Pain to make this easier to do on demand. Additionally we increased the degeneration a bit to match it with the similar skill Shrinking Armor. The recharge remains higher than Shrinking Armor since Deep Wound is a more powerful condition than Cracked Armor.


Spiritual Pain: reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 7 seconds; changed functionality to: "Spell. Target foe takes 15...63...75 damage. All hostile summoned creatures in the area of that foe take 25...105...125 damage."

Spiritual Pain (PvP): reduced Energy cost to 5; reduced recharge to 20 seconds; changed functionality to: "Spell. Target foe takes 15...63...75 damage. All hostile summoned creatures in the area of that foe take 25...105...125 damage."

We've lowered the Energy cost and recharge on Spiritual Pain to numbers more appropriate for a basic damage skill. We've changed how the bonus damage is applied and made it affect all summoned creatures rather than being based on spirits alone. This newer version is intended as a decent unconditional damage skill that is very strong against masses of summoned creatures. Since the damage is a little high for an armor ignoring skill, we split this for PvP and increased the recharge to prevent spike builds.



 

PvP Issues


We also took this time to address some current PvP issues.


Seeping Wound: increased Energy cost to 15; increased recharge to 12; reduced movement-speed decrease to 33%.

Seeping Wound Assassins have seen a lot more play since this skill was buffed in a previous update. However, these types of characters are being used for pressure and harassment builds that we feel are a little too powerful. We've toned down the power of the skill in order to make it less suitable for 8v8 encounters but still usable on split. Although this is a significant reduction in power, testing has indicated that Seeping Wound is still an effective skill for split and spike when used properly.


Blinding Flash: increased recharge to 6 seconds.

Blinding Surge: increased recharge to 6 seconds; increased Blindness duration to 3...7...8.

Blinding Surge is very strong in 4v4 formats. We've increased the recharge to provide greater windows for physical attackers to attack while not blinded. Blinding Flash had its recharge adjusted to match Blinding Surge.


Spoil Victor: reduced duration to 3...13...15.

Spoil Victor is an incredibly powerful hex that could previously be maintained continually on two foes at once. We've shortened duration to reduce the overall pressure it causes to an opposing team.


Mirror of Ice: changed duration to 36...55...60 seconds; duration is no longer affected by Energy Storage.

Ward Against Melee (PvP): merged with PvE version; this skill now functions the same in PvE and PvP.

The duration for Mirror of Ice had been tied to Energy Storage to make the skill exclusive to primary Elementalists so that Water Magic would not strongly favor use by primary Mesmers. With Fast Casting no longer affecting Water Magic hexes with a casting time of one second or less, this is no longer necessary.

While examining the effects of the changes to Fast Casting on PvP, Ward Against Melee came up as one that was split for reasons which are no longer relevant. The differences between the PvP and PvE version of this skill were so minute the was no reason for the skill to be split.

We'd also looked at Cultist's Fervor but determined that this extremely powerful skill needed additional attribute pressure for Necromancers as well. The essentially dual-attribute nature of the skill is appropriate to its power level.



 

Elite Area Changes


This update also sees changes to the elite areas Underworld and Fissure of Woe. These changes are a continuation of the end-game PvE changes from the February update. Our goal was to address the ability of spell-immune characters to efficiently clear whole areas solo.


Shadow Form: fixed a bug that allowed characters with Shadow Form to exceed its damage cap with some skills.

Sliver Armor: fixed a bug that caused Sliver Armor to always deal damage to the same foe.

The previous change to Shadow Form was largely effective in limiting the offensive output for a spell-immune character. We've fixed bugs that allowed characters to exceed the cap by using skills such as "By Ural's Hammer!" and Ebon Battle Standard of Honor. We've also fixed a bug with Sliver Armor that caused all of its damage to target a single foe rather than randomly choosing one nearby foe each time it triggered.

With these loopholes addressed, we were able to start testing changes to end-game areas to allow a role for both spell-immune, defensive characters and actual damage dealers.


  • Monsters in the Underworld and Fissure of Woe now have innate health regeneration in Hard Mode only.
  • Monsters in the Underworld and Fissure of Woe now have reduced health totals in Hard Mode only.

These changes reduce the effectiveness of low-damage, high-survivability solo characters at killing groups of creatures. Although these change may sound harsh for casual groups, our tests show that a range of play styles and group compositions are actually significantly more viable in these areas than before.

We did make some creature adjustments to address a few remaining issues:


  • Improved the durability of King Frozenwind and his Ice Elemental allies in the quest "Servants of Grenth."
  • Improved the skill bars of King Frozenwind and his Ice Elemental allies in the quest "Servants of Grenth."
  • Reduced the number of Skeletons of Dhuum in the quest "Servants of Grenth."
  • Reduced the number of Terrorweb Dryders in the quest "Four Horsemen."

Since health regeneration changes make it more difficult for groups that have split up to kill enemies, we rebalanced the two Underworld quests which require groups to split up.