Hey everyone! Karl McLain made a blog post today about balance for each profession. Before we get into that, let’s look at some overall points made:
- There will be major balance update with each quarterly seasonal release
- Quickness and slow will no longer have an effect on resurrecting allies or stomping enemies
- Slow will be worked on to bring it more in like with it’s counter part (which is quickness)
- Defense nature will be fine-tuned
- Offense will see a bit of improvement
- Diamond Skin trait will act as a condition removal rather than condition avoidance
- Air grandmaster traits are getting usability and offensive improvements
- Scepter and focus are getting good quality-of-life modifications
- Improve less used traits and rework some functionality for Scrapper traits
- Core specialization trait improvements have been made to make more impactful choices for more distinctive builds
- Defensive nature of Scrapper is being monitored; may implement a reduction in survivability
- Updated traits and abilities to be more useful and have more impact
- Looking to make slight adjustments to Dragonhunter burst and disruption
- Alacrity being brought more in line
- Scepter improvements (through skills, functionality and traits)
- Improving a few elite specialization traits
- Working with baseline shroud to give it more functionality
- Leeching Bolts now heals through shroud form
- Update less used traits for more allure; increase both defensive and offensive options
- Improvements to Ranger shout utility to make it more unique
- Looking to improve Ranger’s ties with pet and nature
- Monitoring at Druid’s viability in group scenarios and overall effectiveness
- Revenant sword damage getting toned down in some areas
- Adjusting sword abilities so auto attacks aren’t the focus and is better at singling out and attacking enemies
- Monitoring defensive capabilities
- Drastic improvement to thief melee auto attacks until overall sustained damage when used with initiative is dangerous
- Improvements to acrobatics specialization line
- Adjusted baseline abilities, cooldowns, damage and functionality in some cases
- Rifle gaining a more defensive nature while retaining overall purpose of kill-shotting
- Another pass into Berserker elite specialization to improve usability in other game modes and promote more active skill use in trait design
- Improvements to sustain in combat
So overall it seems this is a pretty decent start for the balance update. As many know, I’m a thief main so I’m curious about the changes to Acrobatics. I’m personally hoping it will offer thieves the survivability we need for PvP fights. Elementalist Diamond skin is going to be completely new but it won’t be impossible to fight 1v1 as a condition based build. Revenant sword balance was definitely coming as the auto attacks were on the strong side. Also RIP quickness stomps.
That’s all the high level stuff. Be sure to tune into Guild Chat on Friday January 15th for a more in depth look!
These are my general thoughts of the Necromancer elite specialization: the Reaper. I was able to try out this elite specialization for the first time ever in the first beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns! This elite specialization was my favorite to test out on the weekend.
The greatsword is an interesting weapon that rewards positioning while channeling skills. Each greatsword skill is pretty good and rewards you well for successful hits. Let’s go over each of the skills:
Dusk Strike (Skill 1): The basic attack which chains into Fading Twilight then Chilling Scythe. These attacks feel good and are pretty smooth.
Gravedigger (Skill 2): A heavy hit that you have to channel for a second which is a decent trade off for the damage this skill does
Death Spiral (Skill 3): This is one skill that you don’t want to miss, it takes a second to channel but getting all the hits of this skill on an enemy will apply around 12 stacks of vulnerability which is amazing.
Nightfall (Skill 4): This is an AoE you place around yourself that damages foes and applies blind and cripple. I really like this skill on the greatsword because it helps with using skills 1, 2 and 3
Grasping Darkness (Skill 5): This damages and pulls in any enemies that are in range. You also apply poison and gain life force for each enemy it hits. This is a nice medium ranged crowd control skill that has the added benefit of a condition, damage and life force. Nothing to complain about here.
I can see players having a bit of a hard time if they solely use Gravedigger or Death Spiral alone because they can be easily dodged or interrupted. However, if you work in Grasping Darkness into Nightfall as prep for Gravedigger and Death Spiral then you can do a lot of damage.
The Reaper shouts are pretty great. They act a bit like instant Necromancer wells and are more effective the more targets you hit.
The biggest annoyance with Reaper shouts is the cast time. The utility Reaper shouts should not have or have a really low cast time. The elite shout’s cast time is fine due to it being an AoE stun. Maybe the heal’s cast time can stay as well. But players shouldn’t have to consistently worry about their utility shouts being interrupted. It doesn’t feel good, in fact, it feels strange considering most shouts are instant or channeled due to having a channeling effect. In the case of a channeling effect, the shout Rise can be the exception and have a small channel.
Reaper Shroud was really fun to use and I have done tons of damage getting reaper combos off. An important thing to note is that any basic traits used for Death Shroud also work with Reaper Shroud. For example, the Necromancer Soul Reaping trait Dhuumfire works with Death Shroud Skill 1 and Reaper Shroud Skill 1. Speaking of shroud skills, let’s break them down:
Life Rend (Skill 1): The basic attack which chains into Life Slash then Life Reap. These attacks, like greatsword, feel good.
Death’s Charge (Skill 2): Very nice sliding skill for getting out of AoE or re-positioning. Provides an AoE blind at the end which is a nice bonus
Infusing Terror (Skill 3): This skill is essential for Reaper Shroud as it grants you pulsing stability which allows you to use the Reaper skills with long cast times successfully. You can cast the followup skill Terrify for a fear
Soul Spiral (Skill 4): Your “spin to win” skill; it does really good damage
Executioner’s Scythe (Skill 5): This skill stuns a target and leaves behind a field of ice which is great because other surrounding enemies are chilled
Executioner’s Scythe into Soul Spiral is a great combo to land. Popping Infused Terror, for the pulsing stability, gives you a greater chance of completing both skills since you can be interrupted. After Soul Spiral there’s enough time to use Terrify for the fear.
The Reaper specialization line mostly compliments Reaper Shroud. You can use your other two specialization lines for a primary purpose and have Reaper Shroud as your secondary purpose or you can focus most of your traits on your Shroud for your primary source of damage.
To conclude, Reaper is an amazingly fun specialization and Necromancers finally have some good consistent damage with Reaper Shroud and greatsword. All I think is needed is the removal of cast time on the utility shouts (or reduce the times to a shorter cast time) and the elite specialization would be in great shape.
Summed Up In Video Format
Seasons don’t fear the Reaper, but you will. If they get close to you, you will. Necromancer time! I think Necromancer is the most difficult class to play because they have the weakest damage output out of all the professions (condition damage debatable). However, Reaper changes all of that. Reaper is the elite specialization for Necromancers! First let’s take a look at the core specialization that Necromancers will have.
Necromancer Core Specialization
Spite‘s minors focuses on health thresholds and are easier to use. Death Shiver is interesting as it applies Vulnerability to enemies near you while in Death Shroud. Signet Mastery could be decent as it grants might when you use a signet, reduces signet cooldown and casts Signet of the Locust (steals health from nearby foes) when hit at a certain threshold.
Curses is the condition and crit line. Barbed Precision minor is pretty good as it has a chance to cause bleeding on crits and bleeds last longer. Can work really well with main hand Axe. Parasitic Contagion is pretty nice as it heals you for a good percent of you condition damage. Terror is the fear cause damage trait and also causes more damage when an enemy has a condition.
Death Magic line is the minions and toughness line. The Beyond the Veil minor grants you and your minions protection which could prove to be useful. Deadly Strength grants power based on toughness and doubles when in Death Shroud. Death Nova makes minions explode into a poison cloud. Necromantic Corruption makes minions do more damage and takes conditions from you and applies those conditions to an enemy (on an interval) when they hit them.
Blood Magic is the health line. Quickening Thirst now needs only one dagger to gain the movement speed bonus and recharges skills faster above a certain threshold. Vampiric Rituals reduced the cooldown of wells, allow wells to siphon health per pulse and applies protection to allies on cast.
Soul Reaping is your life force line. Vital Persistence reduces the drain on Life Force while in death shroud and reduces the cooldown on death shroud skills. Master of Terror inflicts a longer fear and fears enemies when downed. Foot in the Grave grants stability and stun breaks when you enter death shroud. Dhuumfire allows life blast to cause burning on your target.
Necromancer I felt stayed mostly the same but had their traits sorted out to make more meaningful builds. I do like the quality of life changes to Death Shroud such as providing a heal to allies when entering Death Shroud instead of granting the heal when leaving Death Shroud. Death Magic seems to allow more room with Minion builds and Curses I can see more crit builds coming out.
Reaper Elite Specialization
So Robert Gee came back and delivered an article on the Necromancer Elite Specialization: Reaper. So what does this spec have to offer? Apparently a lot of chill, menacing greatsword skills, Reaper Shroud and damaging shouts.
So, the Reaper has just raw damage output with greatsword. The greatsword has slow cleaving attacks that do a lot of damage and some multiple hits skills on enemies. One of the skills, Gravedigger is a slow attack with a high cooldown but has reduced cooldown when hitting enemies under 50%. Now, add chill to this setup. Two minor traits to aid the Reaper in it’s onslaught are Shivers of Dread which inflicts chill on your feared enemies and Cold Shoulder that increases the duration of chill. Now, add shouts to the mix. Damaging shouts at that. For example, Rise! is a shout that damages enemies and summons a Jagged Horror for each enemy hit.
Reaper’s Shroud seems really cool as it’s the augmented Death Shroud more fit for a melee Necromancer. For example, Death’s Charge replaces Dark Path. Both allow you to close the gap on opponents but Death’s Charge is a charge that damages enemies in your path.
Now, despite how good this is, this makes me wonder how normal Necromancers (that prefer casting more) can use the trait line and shouts to their advantage. So far I can see a viable Minion Master build with the Rise! shout and the core specializations. I’m highly convinced that Reaper will be a great melee class that requires some skill with the slow cleaving attacks. We’ll find out more on Points of Interest tomorrow on May 15th at noon Pacific .