I haven’t posted in a while (OMG 3 days you noob), which is mostly because nothing important had crossed my mind. So I thought I’d tell you what my main gripe with Swordmasters/Black Orcs is. It’s their mechanic coupled with the fact that almost ALL of their abilities are tied to it.
One of the key principles that melee careers in most MMOs have to work on is snare. You want your target snared at all times so it can’t run away because in order to kill anyone you need to be close to them – in melee range. In that aspect, I believe melee damage careers in WAR have been smartly designed. Most of them don’t have the ability to permanently snare anyone, cooldown of the snare exceeds the duration. You need to plan ahead when to use them and using them at the right time can be the deciding factor in fights. You have other means of closing distances and keeping your target from running, but most of your opponents have the means of increasing distances aswell, so at the end I believe it all comes down to your ordinary archetype snare that decides the fight and everything else is balanced with it. Witch Elf and Witch Hunter here are separate cases, as they have a ranged snare that can be avoided with smart positioning, which is not easy to do. But they do have other CC and means to burn their targets fast in solo encounters and in open RvR their snare hardly matters.
Similarly, all of the tanks in WAR have a snare, but all of them can be permanent snares – cooldown is lower than the duration. Where I see SM and BO being different here, is the fact that they have a unique mechanic, that rather than helping them, hinders them. For example, SM have three so-called stances that can be advanced by triggering abilities and using them on enemies (you actually have to hit someone). But almost all abilities that can be used in respective stances unconditionally advance their stance, thus preventing the use of other abilities in the same stance until the whole ordeal repeats and the SM finds himself in the same stance. This means that the SM has to make a choice about which ability to use each time he reaches a stage of his dance mechanic (thank god that only abilities in two stages need a preceeding stage, in total three stages) and this means that he cannot react as effectively to situations and abilities other careers can use freely.
An example: I have no balance as a SM (I’m at the first stage of my mechanic) and I want to use my ability that reduces the opponents damage against the healer healing me. The game will remind me that I can’t do that yet. Apparently I need to advance to the second stage to use it. Which means I’ll lose at least two global cooldowns + whatever lag I have and server realising I applied the ability, to actually make that work. Now, I say fair enough, thats the price I have to pay for having such an awesome mechanic right? (heavy sarcasm)
Here’s another example, I am attacking a Squig Herder who snares me. Obviously I want to snare him aswell so he won’t be able to get away. But what’s this, I’m in my third stage of my mechanic, which means that I need to use three more skills to snare him. Great, he got away.
Here’s my gripe.
- You make the stage mechanic hinder the player more than help him, fine.
- You tie almost all abilities that are unique to the career to the mechanic, fine.
- You tie the freaking snare to their mechanic, wtf?
One of the most important abilities for a melee career having a condition to firing? How about making the Chosen/IB/Slayer/Choppa snare actually snare only after three seconds? Not very appealing eh?
But you have ten whole seconds to reapply it! you’ll say. You see the SM/BO snare is in the second stage of the mechanic. When you apply it, you’ll need at least three global cooldowns to reapply it. Which is enough. But the problem is, the snare lasts ten seconds and you have so many good abilities to use in that stage (like a parry buff, morale removal, spirit resist removal and an undefendable attack). You’ll be tempted to use another ability rather than a snare. If you do, a smart target will use that and get away beyond your reach and just run away or kite you to your inevitable doom. Because you’ll need very good timing to pull off using an ability, which is not a snare, and still use the snare on your second cycle. If you factor in lag, your snare being a hex and thus being cleansable and the fact that using an ability every cooldown will get you to low AP fast, you’ll see that for any kind of reactionary gameplay, this is not viable.
Everyone knows that abilities that require a prerequisite (situational abilities) are less useful than the ones that don’t. So why design two careers that have a bunch of situational abilities, with a handful of unconditional ones that they share with their archetype anyway?
My suggestion would be a change to the current mechanic. Instead of restricting the player to a handful abilities at a time, reward them for using the abilities at the right stage. Give them extra damage/duration if used in the correct stage of the dance/plan and make the mechanic advance depending on that. The mechanic would have built-in Perfect Defense/Perfect Balance tactics to actually benefit using the right abilities apart from awarding additional damage/duration. But the players would still have the choice for reactionary gameplay and using abilities independent of their mechanic that might better suit the current situation.
I believe this would go a long way towards fixing the mechanic. Along with some glaring disparities with their mirror abilities (Eagle’s Flight having a third of a duration of its mirror ability suppression, despite it having a condition?) and some sorely needed group utility. Next we should be having a look at some careers that are being limited by their mechanics rather than benefiting from them aswell, like the Shadow Warrior, Marauder and the White Lion, who are being plagued by stances aswell.
PS: I should mention that in this respect, Black Orcs are worse off than Swordmasters. They do not have an ability (speccable one but either way) to change their stance without having to hit a target.