Crutches and Math in LE

I know that writing this topic will be divisive, but i want to do it anyway because i feel its important. It should not be taken as criticism. Its obvious to me that the EHG team is dedicated to improving the game and polishing it to the point of it becoming a success. Nevertheless i feel like some practices should be identified as contradictory and possibly changed - as early as possible.

With that said i’ll talk about two topic - Math and Crutches.

I will coin crutch as a catch-phrase of identifying any bug, unintended or intended interaction that significantly empowers a mechanic over its core functionality. A crutch is something that enables a mechanic or playstyle to be late game viable (and possibly overpowered) and if removed renders the attached skill/mechanic too weak to be used in late game content.

Examples of crutches:
Dark Quiver giving x12 dmg multiplier to Hail of Arrows
Snowdrift boots giving hundreds of penetration to frostbite ailment
Ghost Maker giving 360% more damage to Infernal Shade
Ignavar+Gambler fallacy giving hundreds of more damage to disintigrate
Turani Bident providing 160% penetration to electrify
Poison stacking unlimited penetration (nerfed/removed)
Flurry attack speed stacking multiplicatively (nerfed/removed)
Rip blood procs on bone curse

…and many many more

What is the problem with crutches? Well for one they stifle build diversity. To use a certain mechanic you need to use its crutch. Crutches usually provides such a huge power spike that they often end up being overpowered in a way, but since they hold so much of the skill/mechanic strength removing them leaves whatever they were helping in a rather poor state. An excellent example of this effect is what happened when the bugged atk speed scaling got removed from Flurry. It immediately exposed how really weak the base skill is.

Lately I’ve seen new crutch items being introduced that try to enable certain playstyles by providing extremely powerful effects - like Ghost Maker 360% more of Fragment of the Enigma flat dmg scaling together with +100% more damage and AOE.

Adding such huge modifiers on items clearly indicates a problem of the core skill/mechanic. If a skill can take hundreds of extra more damage outside of its tree and not be overpowered then there is something seriously wrong with the base skill.

Is this a deliberate design decision in which the game is heading? To use skill X you must obtain item Y?

The Math

Balance is another contentious issue that seems like an impossible task to handle. No game is perfectly balanced and honestly changing the so called “Meta” periodically is a trick most ARPGs use to retain or rekindle player interest. Its healthy and good practice.

With that said some the numbers in LE are totally wild. On some skills you can find multiple multiplicative more nodes, while other skills are completely bare bone. A rather simple way to figure out the raw strength of a skill is to open its tree, write “more” in the search bar and do some basic math depending on how many you can get with your 20 points.

Now i understand tweaking skills and reworking them is a very demanding and time consuming process. A small team can tackle only so many changes at once, especially with bugs looming over every step of the way. But I believe the team (and the game) could benefit greatly from having a dedicated math guy (or small team) to normalize damage values and remove the biggest discrepancies.

A very simple example is a comparison between Fireball and Lightning Blast in mage. Both skills are functionally very similar - a single target basic spell (with the option to do multi-target), low mana cost and similar base damage. Yet one of them gets access to much more damage multipliers and powerful defensive utility.

But there are many many many skills that are mechanically solid and don’t need immediate extensive reworks. They just need number tweaks. Many of these skills need “normalization” between the more multipliers so that similar skills in functionality do not end in wildly dissimilar damage brackets.

Let the guys that are good at coding and designing code and design. Have someone who is good at math, data analysis and spread sheets take over the numerical changes. A lot of skills could really use just a little number nudging to be good. But that is best handled by a person who breaths end-game content, spends his day watching videos and discussing the meta with players that push the top end. I imagine the people who design skills enjoy playing the game, but don’t have no way near the time to push the end game on multiple characters. In the end the campaign is quite easy and new-player friendly and you don’t really need thousands of damage when hundreds will do, thus the distinction of numerically weak/strong skills is hard to spot. But for dedicated RPG fans late game matters a lot and there core problems are easily exposed.

League of Legends, as an example, hired a well known esports player back in the day to help on with competitive re-balancing. The Last Epoch community and even CT community is blessed with many dedicated people who work tirelessly to break the game every day. Even if you don’t have the budget allocation to add new members to the team to do something like this you can get pretty good advice on what needs tweaking from a fair number of dedicated players on these boards.


i think the recent item additions to this crutches is to adress the issue that items give not enough power, but in most cases its just bandaids for low numbers and/or weak mechanics of skills. I agree, this makes itemisation/ building boring and one dimensional.


I can’t argue with you on this, Az. It always seems in every aRPG there are surprise interactions that break the math of the game. Honestly, though, that IS half the fun of it. If I was a developer, I would deliberately create 10+ things each season that are just completely game-breaking without telling the players so that there was always a sense of discovery. Some would be tied to items, some would be tied to changes in the skill trees. There should be at least one for every Class and Sub-class each season. Then let the players push the insanity and maybe have cosmetic rewards for the overall winners.

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What are you talking about?

Some of these are absolutely an issue, Ignivar+Gambler’s Fallacy carrying Disintegrate on its back stands out to me. However, you also mention Fragment of the Enigma, and I somewhat disagree with this one being a crutch. Spark charges, on their own, do not make a build, but are a helpful improvement to the clear of some builds. Fragment takes that and makes it a main focus. Sure, spark charges aren’t sufficient on their own without Fragment, but they aren’t supposed to be; they are still useful on the side, for clear and spell damage.

I am less familiar with some of the others on this list, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other similar uniques. Just because a mechanic isn’t good enough as a main focus without an enabling unique doesn’t mean that the mechanic is in a bad spot. Entire skills not being good without a unique (Disintegrate+Ignivars+Gamblers) is another matter.


Spark charges are only found on Surge and Mana Strike in sufficient application chance and lets be honest if you are using Surge they are super low priority node. And if you are using Mana Strike you have a big mana spender (like Shatter Strike) to mow down everything. Sure, you can add Spark Charges to help clear in the campaign and possibly super low corruption since white mobs have basically no hp. But once they become tougher spark charge as an alternative damage source is worthless.

It just comes down to proc skills being really bad in LE as a whole. Very few proc skills have the damage numbers to be in any way noticeable on their own.

But the bigger overall problem is the crutch design decisions, which force you to use certain items/combos in order to use certain skills or mechanics. Moving overall power to gearing is a good idea on EHG and i laud it, but creating mandatory unique items is not.

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I have found a new crutch. It’s a secret. XD

I think there’s a fine line between crutch uniques, BiS items and build enabling. Li’raka’s is a must have on Shurikens but does that make it a crutch? Li’raka’s is also very hard to beat even with max throwing flat+speed gloves on crit Javelin so is it a crutch there? How about Bastion for non Sentinels(got nerfed but still). Lets not even go into bows where 90% of builds use uniques(that’s cos base bows are so bad).

I mean then what about the classic Flame Reave and Firebrand ?

Agree with others but isn’t electrify javadin without Turani’s still good ? (I had seen a LizardIRL build) it gets more defense from shield, better electrify chance(ignite suffix) and dragonbone for more electrify or crescent axe for pen, also shock suffix frees slots on amulet/unique relic/boots.

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I I don’t know.

Isn’t playing ARPGs all about finding crutches? All the players constantly chase the one mechanic / synergy / exploit that nobody has seen before. It’s all about the myth that there’s something broken that still is undiscovered and you are the one person to find it, bring it to the forums and get all the fame.

This is what all the content creators do 24/7 and the casual gamer dreams about.

Imagine the devs homogenized all skills, builds, items and interactions. Of course we would have a greater variety of viable builds. All builds are equally powerful then, no outstanding mechanics, no BIS items. There’s no way the devs could achieve this without destroying the diversity of skills and builds. But if they would do, there would not really be a choice. Why should I choose onr build over another? Only because of the theme?

Having broken mechanics is the core of ARPGs. New stuff gets introduced, people swarm out to find the broken things. New meta builds arise. They get nerfed. New stuff gets added and the cycle starts over new. This is the spice.

How would people advertise their builds? Now its “Abomination Necro totally broken - The Ultimate Endgame Destroyer” and people click it. Equalise everything and it’s just “New Abomination Guide - Just as good as everything else, just with… Abomination”

Uniques that transform a useless or only partially good skill into a main skill are absolutely nice. I love it.

There have to be strong and weak skills, else there would be no joy in finding out what works and what doesn’t work. And items that switch this around are a great addition.

Just my 2 cents.

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Classic Flame Reave + Firebrand is another great example of crutch. Flame Reave is absolutely unusable without this interaction. If you don’t skill it and try to use FR you will have an awful time.

I don’t think you understand the implication behind crutches.

A crutch is a mechanics that turbo charges a skill to make it usable. The skill is really bad on its own. Anyone not using the crutch will have an awful time and everyone using the crutch will build their characters the same way.

Crutches completely destroy build variety.

Just to counter point, flame reave is most definitely not unusable without firebrand. I’ve used a mix of flame reave as my primary attack and the cooldown variant of mana strike to regain massive amounts of mana together to good effect. While the firebrand variant is stronger I am able to reach empowered monoliths with the other version.

You can reach empowered monoliths doing basic attacks with a white weapon from the vendor.

If so then there are no crutches just bossters becasue you can get there with enough gear to max your resis and even this is debateable. So after all the texting about crutches you dismantle the crutch thematic yourself by saying this. I’m confused do I missunderstand something or are you talking on hand about crutches (aka items that make skill op) and on the other hand you say “You only need white gear” (while some people played the game mostly naked just for the lulz).


The point about white gear was that un-empowered monos are very very easy, thus any skill will work with any gear.

You need crutches to push corruption and end game content, where stuff gets more difficult and you need the extra damage. For the campaign and early monos it doesn’t matter if your skill does 1000 or 500 000 dmg when enemies have 1000hp.

If as you claim anyone can make it to empowered timelines with white gear and some resistances then they’re already at end game.

I feel like there’s a large misconception that because you can make corruption go past 200 that end game only begins once you reach an arbitrary point of corruption. There’s nothing out there but more corruption… End game has started as you acquire your last blessing or even before that.

The game currently has a major amount of build variety. It’s only inevitable that as you increase corruption certain builds fall off faster than others. Your measuring the viability of a build too far out.

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Oh, I think I understand it very well. Maybe you don’t understand my response.

There will always be bad skills. Why not implement an item that propels the skill into usefulness? Skill X is bad. But if you are lucky and find item Y, you can make a viable build.

Why not?

I don’t say that this should be the goal for all skills. But having this kind of build enabling stuff in the game makes it more interesting.

When they are bad skills in the game they need to be fixed so they are no longer bad.

Adding crutches is not a solution. Crutches kill build variety.

If a skill is bad and you add a crutch to it then everyone will use the skill in exactly the same way… If you don’t see this as an issue i got nothing more.

People use Crutches because the alternatives are weak and there is not enough opportunity cost to the Crutch.

An example of something that has opportunity cost is most of the stuff in the warpath tree, due to limited points, the fact that a lot of nodes require certain weapon types and most of the powerful nodes occur require taking a conversion node.

However there are still nodes that are essentially mandatory, even in warpath builds - 10 points get used for Whirling steel and Cyclone of war for almost every build, and you need to take some of the reduced cost nodes to use cyclone frequently(due to the fact that sentinel lacks efficient mana generation to be able to sustain cyclone at its base mana cost).

Fact is that most of the “good” skills in LE have something specific propping them up preventing them from being absolute trash.

You could have infinite mana regeneration and it still wouldn’t help. You don’t regen mana when channeling.

Unless you mean a way to instantly cast something that gives you mana. Not sure I would like that much.