Dec. 10th Balance: The Real Story

(as posted as Guild Wars 2 Forum)


Initiative changes

– Less dependency on traits that boosts initiative gain

– Slightly nerf initiative traits; increase init regen by 33% (from .75 to 1 init per sec)

Affected Traits:
– Critical Strikes 15 – Opportunist. Increased trigger chance to 50%. Increase cooldown from 1s to 5s.
– Critical Strikes VIII – Signet Use. Reduced initiative gain from 2 to 1.
– Acrobatics IX – Quick Recovery. Reduced initiative gain from 2 to 1.
– Trickery 5 – Kleptomaniac. Reduce initiative gain from 3 to 2.

IMO, this is not balance at all. Although I can see that these traits can cause an Initiative overflow at the beginning of a fight (i.e. crit-ing with backstab at full initiative) but they do their job as expected when the fight drags on. The main problem with initiative is that, as the name implies, it’s only good at the time of initiations and it’s really horrible at lasting fights. Without initiatives, we either flee or die. The current Opportunist (30% + 1 init 1s CD) allowed us to stay in the fight because only through auto attacking that we can regain our Initiative back. Imagine if Warriors has to build up adrenaline before they can use their skills, that would be frustrating for them also. This is where Thieves at when our initiatives are low and this is the reason why most Dagger thieves spams Heartseeker because it is the cheapest skill and we don’t time to wait for a full initiative to pull off a meaningful combo. This is the main reason why you see a lot of evading Thieves also, we are trying to buy some time while we helplessly wait for the initiative to go up.

Counter-Solution (hypothetical/non-tested):

– Increase initiative gain based on the amount missing.
– 100% init = .75/sec
– 75% init = +25% (.93/sec)
– 50% init = +33% (1/sec)
– 25% init = +50% (1.13/s)
– 0% init = +66% (1.25/s)

Vigorous Recovery and Survivability

– This prevents these thieves from evading too much and too easily dealing with being disabled

– somewhat reduced the effectiveness of high evasion thieves by reducing vigor up time
– Acrobatics III -50% (from 8s to 4s)
– Trickery VII -47% (from 15s to 8s)

Affected Traits:
– Acrobatics III – Vigorous Recovery. Reduced Vigor duration to 4s from 8s.
– Trickery VII – Bountiful Theft. Reduced vigor duration to from 15s to 8s.
– Critical Strikes VI – Practiced Tolerance. Increased conversion from 5% to 7%.
– Acrobatics IV – Assassin’s Retreat. Increased swiftness duration to 20s.
– Acrobatics XI – Hard to catch. Moved to Master Tier.
– Trickery VIII – Trickster. Move to Adept tier.
– Acrobatics X – Assassins Reward. Increased healing scaling by 35%. Moved to Grandmaster Tier.

I agree that there are Thieves that evades too much, but this ties into the Initiative problem. When our initiative is low, we either hide in stealth or dance a musical chair, either way is to buy us some time for our initiative to go up. Reducing vigor duration for roughly 50% less is not a “somewhat” reduction. This is an excessive nerf and provides a huge window of opportunity for enemies to dispatch us. There is no balance in this change. It is obvious that your goal is to steer Thieves away from Critical Strikes and play as a nimble fighter — but there are several big problem here.

1) Furious Retaliation > Practiced Tolerance: Part of Thieves survivability is not having a lot health, but killing the target before dying. Therefore, this increase is not going to offset the nerf on vigor recovery. IMO, I rather not get hit than having a negligible amount of health and getting hit a lot. That increase of 2% will only add roughly around 200 health on a full Berserker gear — that will only mitigate a sneeze attack from a warrior.

2) Assassin’s Retreat needs to trigger on something else other than killing a foe otherwise this is useless. It has no value before and during a fight and when the target is dead, it only triggers if I dealt the killing blow.

3) Hard to Catch = Hard to Control (no control at all) which makes this trait a horrible alternative to Shadow’s Return. Also the swiftness buff is useless especially when feared — often times it only make me go off the cliff and die at 33% movement speed. :/ You guys need to rethink this one.

4) Assassin’s Rewards is just too deep. It was useless because the heal doesn’t happen at the beginning of a skill, so using a channelled skill like Unload, no heal until it finishes. Now that it is a GM, a 35% boost may not be worth it.

Counter-Solution (hypothetical/non-tested):
1) Practiced Tolerance is an odd trait. The vitality bonus would serve condition Thieves better so basing it on Precision under Critical Strikes is somewhat misplaced. The best place for this trait is Deadly Arts. DA needs better choices other than Mug and it can serve Condition build better since they don’t have to put points into CS just to get this trait.

2) Assassin’s Retreat – If this trait triggers after a Sneak Attack (like the name implies) — whether the target is dead or alive — even if it has a 5s duration would still make it viable.

3) Hard to Catch – This trait mimics the functionality to GW1’s Viper’s Defense. That skill was fine tuned to make the shadow step more predictable and less random. Also instead of swiftness, Blindness would be more viable.

4) Assassin’s Rewards – Just reduce the cooldown or increase the recharge rate of healing skills based on the amount of initiative spent. This way, we get to control when we actually need that healing. My suggestions would be to increase the recharge rate by 1% per initiative spent up to the cap of 50%. IMO, this is more rewarding and reduces the urge to go in stealth to get the health regen. A Thief with this trait can stay in the fight and have a scaling survivability. With this change, it can rival Shadow’s Rejuvenation as a GM trait.

Other problems/issues

– When will ANET address the other major issues that are nagging at the Thieves right now?
– For instance, Shadow Arts 5 – Last Refuge.
– Are you aware of the issue we have with this trait ever since beta?
– If so, what are your plans on dealing with this particular issue?
– Can you post a compilation of issues that our profession is suffering from so that we have a list of things that needs to be addressed or tested?

Still Hopeful

I took a month break from GW2 because Chris’s post really kittened me off and I’m still kittened right now, but I want this game to succeed and I like the artists in ArenaNet especially Kristen and Ree, I like the work they do. So I am hopeful that with your current effort to collaborate with the players that you’d soon find your identity and simply be yourself. Also take the time to understand each professions and give them identity and purpose. What exactly do you intend to do with the Thief profession? As of right now, we are simply filling a gap between a warrior and a mesmer, but all these times we are struggling to show you what the Thief profession is suppose to be only to get ignored.

I personally appreciate the time and effort that Jon Peters is giving us that we finally have someone to talk to and get some clarifications on things. My main concern is that these changes seems to balance the PvP game play and the limit on Vigor, for example, will drastically hurt the PvE players like me. So hopefully, when they are testing these changes that they are also testing it in PvE contents especially in dungeons and fractals.

Best of luck, good to be back. See you in game.

Author: Enzovic

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