Current Ward mechanic is killing the game

Hi, I purchased this game mostly because it advertised an amazing variety of builds and play styles that work, are fun, and there is real end game content to enjoy. After playing up to some 200 corruption and trying a few characters I was thoroughly disappointed by the fact that the entire “end game” experience of this game is just about abusing the unbalanced, grossly overpowered ward mechanic to do anything in the “end game” and gave up playing for the time being.

The game lures you in with truly an amazing diversity of styles, builds, fun skills and all that, true, all working up until you start your empowered monolith journey because mostly any possible combination of skills crushes the generic campaign mode.

There, the whole thing converges into using the 3 or 4 staple ward->life gear pieces and then the one build for your class that still does damage and compensates for the lack of stats on the low-life gear pieces. To accomplish this you got to reskill your entire tree, picking every defensive option and then 2-3 offensive skills with the leftaround points, like a mandatory thing.

You could try without it but it would be a most miserable experience whereas just wearing 3 pieces of gear you suddenly have some 12-15k passive shield so you can afk in corruption 300 and press one button. Then there’s that one build for each class allowing you to shoot up to some 200k++ ward.

Basically once you try the end game, there’s no diversity anymore at all, to progress any further you got your 3 mandatory low-life gear pieces and one overpowered build per class.
Then all you do is farming into infinity for an insanely low chance of getting a purple to upgrade your otherwise useless ward conversion gear.

You could say well if any build somehow still works at 200 corruption then that’s the end game for you, stay there. The thing is, there is no end game, it’s just a loop of the exact same maps and the exact same items you will ever find, with bigger numbers thus the only objective of the endgame is to push further. To push further, there is 0 variety, you’re stuck to one overpowered build and 3 grossly overpowered ward items per class.

Imagine is if it were D4 and everyone and their cousin runs a ball lightning sorceress cause nothing else works, that’s the feeling of LE’s end game so far.

Infinite scaling is a terrible idea, it’s impossible to balance around it and just leads to intentional broken stuff to happen.
You guys should add some tiered content, say 200 now, next big patch up to 400 , scale down the ward mechanic and fix those combos allowing you to pick an str class and still play like a caster with 300k ward within a few mouse clicks.

If I check 50 videos on youtube about " Last Epoch fun build" 49 of them are low-life builds with the same 3 items regardless if it’s a str class, a ranged or caster. Mind numbing boring.

Here’s a quick search on the small portion of the threads already written about this. Just to touch up on some of the points and my two cents: Ward itself is fine but there are a few broken iterations of it like HH and Profane Veil. (PV’s bug has been fixed.)

A mastery that would be screwed if LL gear was nerfed without anything else being done would be Necromancer as that mastery, aside from minion tanking, has very little in terms of defensive layers.

EDIT: Forgot to add my “two cents” onto this.

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Ward should be a passively gained shield based on int and decay/retention stats.
Intelligence based classes get a lower endurance threshold than otherwise, say 20%.
That way str/ranged classes can still get ward if they go into caster gear but not as much.
Then either remove/rebalance those “I give u 50 ward per hit” skills that you can turn into 50k due to exploited skill loopholes.

There’s dozens, maybe hundreds, of endgame builds that can surpass 200 corruption … Without ward.

You are choosing to focus on ward. I don’t … I have 2 or 3 builds, out of my 25 characters that use ward… Just focus on HP and/or life leech instead…

Just because something is optimal, doesn’t make it mandatory. Play what you think is fun, and you’ll find a way to make it viable.

I agree ward generation will be nerfed very soon tho… But nothing is stopping you from ignoring ward completely.


It’s not just optimal, it is mandatory, even the beast master has a skill giving you 20% Global Damage reduction if you pick the low-life gear and a pickaxe trading your str for int , that’s just in your face “this is how you need to play”

The “low life” idea as made in Last Epoch is the opposite, you actually get 1000x more life with the same benefits, it doesn’t involve any risk ? You’re giving up some damage potential that is otherwise offset by a broken skill combo that whilst doing less damage, it keeps your ward 100% uptime.

The idea of being more destructive while below a hp threshold involves a risky window of burst damage. Works for transform archetypes, Lich or Druid forms where you can get this benefit then you don’t die, you revert to your normal form so you got your 5-6 seconds of huge burst damage at “low life” .
Here I can equip 3 items, giving me constant 4x my hp pool for starters but technically I’m at “low life %” which is a lie, obviously I’m just handicapping myself massively if I don’t pick it.

Do you feel safer going into 5-10% of your 3000 hp all the time with some 70% stacked global damage reduction ,depending on your life steal/heal spell or seeing your ward drop from 30k to 20k and back up by itself whilst you can still chug potions if it drops into the technical “HP pool” ?

It’s not. Most of my builds don’t use ward. But that’s because I don’t care about optimal, I only care about having fun.

With just the 3 pieces of low life gear, you don’t get anywhere 20k, let alone 30k. You would need to invest everything into it, losing most of your DPS and other defenses. And that’s if it could reach that at all.
Most builds that have high ward are just using broken skills/interactions that will almost certainly be nerfed in 1.1, like healing hands.

Ultimately, if you’re a competitive player that sees a build that does better and has to use it instead, or that is only happy when <whichever number> reaches <whichever limit>, then yes, you’ll only use ward builds.

But if you’re the type of player that just wants to have a good time killing stuff, then meta doesn’t matter at all.
Personally, I haven’t yet made a falconer or warlock exactly because they’re broken and thus, to me, aren’t fun.

So yes, some ward interactions are broken and need to be fixed. Ward itself just needs a few tweaks. It was mostly fine pre-1.0. In the threads that @Chaustrologic posted are already plenty of good ideas, like a different decay formula that is more aggressive at higher values, or having armor not apply to ward.

But ward is only killing the game if you’re a competitive player that measures fun by having the highest numbers.


But now you’re treading on “is this a competitive game” ground. If we’re just here to have fun, it really doesn’t matter (as it doesn’t to you, and it doesn’t to me). However, I’ve been informed that this, indeed, is a competitive game. And, if someone wants to remain competitive, it is mandatory. If we can’t have other fun or QoL things, because of the (supposed) competitive nature of this game, then we also can’t have OP interactions like this, lingering around, destroying the competitive landscape.

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That could be debatable. It’s a single player/coop that has some competitive elements. It’s not inherently competitive. Most of the playerbase isn’t competitive. Just a minority. But to them, yes, it’s a competitive game.

I did say that:

I also agreed with that:

No matter how true this is, you’ll never get it through the thick skulls of optimal bros who’ve forgotten (or never knew) how to play and enjoy games if they’re not a proxy for an abacus. To them, “optimal” will always be a synonym for “mandatory”.


Show me a single one surpassing 2k corruption though.

The talk is and has never been about the few ward builds (which are very very bad ones) related to reaching the same amount of corruption as the best of the best health builds. It’s about mediocre ward builds being supposed to reach the same level of progression as the mediocre health builds.

Which simply isn’t the case.

The message is something good… but the reality sadly does not comply with it. It’s why balance is not only wanted but a necessity. I’m saying that repeatedly… neither too low nor too high disparity in power level is good. Ignoring that it exists though is the worst option to take.

True, but when you’re presented with a similar build then yours that can clear content in 5 times the speed while your player is drooling while having a stroke in front of the screen.

It makes you think ‘why the heck am I doing this to myself? I wanna reach my goal after all!’. And that’s what people take away from it, which leads to the efficiency thoughts… optimizing the fun out of the game so to speak, using sub-optimal strategies fun-wise to get visible outcomes quicker and that sweet sweet dopamine boost from reaching your goal.
It’s what happened for a while in Path of Exile, there was a clear-cut way to success… the meta. Skill-swapping, gear-swapping, doing all the bothersome little things which accrued more and more until people… well… quit. ‘Nah, it’s just no fun anymore’ or ‘I actually didn’t have fun since a while now but I kept on since I always did before’.
Those are things which shouldn’t happen.

Why did they happen though?
Well… because the alternatives were just so vastly less efficient that despite the downsides people chose it, people became unhappy with how it played (duh! Since it was a bother) and then people left the game.
How was it solved? By giving players more and more variety and incentives on how to play and nonetheless getting a reliable outcome of some kind which isn’t 10 or even 100 times less then the ‘optimized’ people do. Massive disparity was reigned in, massive nerf-hammers falling left and right, nobody being happy about it… and today? Well, today PoE is at one of the best places it has ever been in their history, some major issues staying but the power disparity? That’s far less.

And that’s what ward vs. health in LE currently still is, they’re at the place on the road where PoE was 2 years ago, the ‘worst’ time of PoE in stability of retention times for their leagues… and not because the mechanics were awful or great but because the core game wasn’t well balanced.

All the other semantics about the topic are secondary when the core part mentioned above is still there, a intrinsic part of human psychology which has to be handled during design and balance. Everything beyond is just bandaids, and bandaids aren’t solutions, they’re stop-gaps which make it function ‘just so’.

SRC: Ward Calculator Website

To add onto what @DJSamhein has said: if we assume someone wears all the LL gear (20% from ExSang, 15% Last Steps, 20% T7 Life Loss Conversion) with about 2.3k life who also isn’t scaling intelligence then you’ll see that they’ll have 5.4k ward. It takes investment to get ward up to 10k and even more to push beyond that.

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No, not once do I ever think that. My only goal is to have fun with a build and reach empowered monos. I don’t even care if I get to 300c. Certainly not 2k+.
In fact, to me it’s the opposite: warlock or falconer can get any build to 2k+ without effort? No thanks, that’s not fun for me. I’ll play them after the nerf.

No, that’s what some people take from it. Some people are competitive by nature. Some people will stop having fun with the game if someone somewhere in the world has a build that is stronger than them. That’s fine. And yes, to them they need to use ward builds.

However, some aren’t and they couldn’t care less.

You even see this in non-competitive games like Candy Crush where some players just want to get to the max as fast as posssible and try to compare progress with others.
Other players just want to have fun for a little while.


Yes, the same goes for me, though you have into consideration that neither you or me are the only players of the game and in the grand total the behavior of people generally aligns.

And unless you have more in-depth knowledge about what it’ll do to you or are heavily dispositioned to not do those things in the first place the outcome is very often the sub-optimal one.

That’s the job of a game-dev to provide, the customer does not have a job to manage themselves - even if it would be the optimal - to not fall into mental pitfalls. It’s the job of the design-team to make their product in such a way to alleviate those issues as much as possible (obviously not 100% possible) beforehand.
If we go by the baseline notion of ignoring that after all we’re left with ‘we need no balancing at all, builds just need to be able to somewhat get through the provided content’ and that’s it. No need to have any nerfs ever, no need to buff anything which is falling behind as long as it’s somewhat possible to do the provided content anyway.

But we both know - hopefully so, otherwise the argumentation wouldn’t make sense - that it’s just not the case.

Now lets not even compare it to ‘someone else’ but instead have a person play 2 different builds. One is enjoyable mechanically, really nice! But… never beyond 200 corruption, their build is just one which is ‘fun’ to play but can’t progress far.

Then instead they by sheer luck pick a build that brings them to 1k+ corruption with the same effort as the next one.

Now… having 2 ‘finished’ builds and enjoying to play finished builds… which one will be played more you imagine? The ‘fun’ one or the one which provides more loot and a vastly higher progression?
Sure, some will pick the more fun one… but it’s less common then you might think for that to happen. It goes against the common mentality of people, and reasonably so even.

That’s not my experience. I’ve dealt with many players over the years, competitive or not. I’ve been in a clan in PoE for a few years (and even there there were plenty of non-competitive players).

My experience is that the majority of players will pick the strongest build among the ones that they find fun or that adapt to their personal playstyle.
Someone that loves minions and hates melee will choose the one that seems strongest among the minion builds but will never play the melee build, even if it’s way stronger, simply because that playstyle isn’t fun to them. This applies to most players. Again, in my experience.

Now, a disclaimer: I’m not saying you don’t need to change ward. The broken interactions definitely need fixing. Ward itself only requires some tweaks, nothing major. I’m pretty sure these things will come with 1.1.
Nor am I saying that the lack of balance isn’t bad. Because it is. It affects competitive players that don’t have fun with weak builds and even affects players like myself which, like I said before, don’t play the OP classes because they don’t feel fun. I would really like to try out warlock and falconer and mess around with them.

Another disclaimer: I’m not saying either that being a competitive player is bad. It’s just a playstyle and some people have more fun that way. That’s also fine.

What I find ridiculous are rage statements like “The game only has 2 builds” or “Ward is mandatory” because they aren’t true statements. They’re said from the point of view of competitive players that can’t seem to understand that not everyone is like them.
And despite the claims of “Show me a health build that does X”, there are a few examples of builds that do that. Granted, not as many as ward ones and not as broken as those are, but they still exist.

So, given that 1k+, in Mike’s words, clearly means that they made a mistake, we can expect those to be nerfed in the future as well.

While ward, or more specific certain combination of items need adjustments they personally never affected my enjoyment and the build variety I get out of this game.

I never felt the need to use any of these very potent synergies, because all other builds I play can just do 200-500 corruption just as well, that is way more than enough to get everything you want out of the game.

Just because there are a few overperforming combination of things doesn’t make everything else worthless. You can achieve just as much with other things as well, there is no reason to use these absurdly powerful things.


What does that person enjoy? Do they enjoy min maxing & pushing things as far as they can? Or are they more chilled & happier with the moment to moment gameplay? 'Cause the “just put a rando in front of 2 different builds” will end up very different depending on the person you’re using & what they like. People are not just disposable commodities like the large Corpos would like to believe.

Exactly my point.
The strongest.
Hence the most effective/optimized one.

They don’t pick the most fun mechanic commonly.
Which is exactly my point.

The focus on the mental side hence is the short-term gain rather then the long-term returns. It’s a inherent bad strategy nowadays, comes from ‘olden times’ so to say where it was far more important.
This is simply one of the hurdles in design, human mentality has to be taken into account - obviously so - and the devil’s in the details as usual.

True to a degree, but even then we’ve seen people switching away from their beloved archetypes when they get just too bad to be enjoyable.
We’ve seen it in PoE and we can actually also see it in LE. Wraithlord Arbor is a great example for that even. It’s a minion build but has ridiculously clunky targeting mechanics for the buffs, overly strong defensive options for you personally to scale off of and the offense against bosses (where it’s most needed) is just utterly broken in my eyes. Over 100k alpha hits without much investment is nonsensical as the DR of bosses doesn’t even happen before they’re half dead or more.

So, what did we see with 1.0? A huge chunk of people going for that meta build rather then their spell builds or melee builds despite having nigh never played a minion build to date. It’s a common thing actually, in PoE there’s even the ‘Mathil effect’. He’s one of the biggest streamers and when he makes a build you can nigh guarantee all gear for that build to raise vastly in price since he makes strong builds… and people flock to it. Often majorly clunky ones mechanically too… but nonetheless, it’s strong, people flock to it.

I’m of the same mind, hopefully EHG neither goes too far with nerfs and takes into account that it’s the base scaling which simply needs adjustments, lightly increasing low investment but reducing higher investments for it. Then I would say it’s in a good spot since it has worse methods to regenerate it by a bit compared to the available ones with health. (There’s some ridiculous leech/gain builds out).

Depends from the position you’re talking from. In a competitive state… yes… it’s mandatory. Otherwise no.
But if something’s mandatory for a competitive person then that usually means the disparity is fairly sizeable since neither RNG nor the differences in personal skill (and some people are insanely good players) can make up for it. This way even as a non-competitive player you can profit from the input coming from that side, which I would say is a general upside.

I was really surprised that actually some exist! 5k health (even with specific buffs baaaarely reaching it, but still) and 2,5k corruption Marksman. I haven’t actually found a single health build before which could - half-way reliable - reach more then 1,5k corruption, and that was already more or less broken to say it clearly.

Hopefully the expectation holds true… or content advances enough until 1.4 to validate builds actually reaching that commonly. That’s another point to take into account after all… is EHG playing ‘the long game’ and simply waiting to reign in overpowered builds to save on effort and time needed to reign them in or are they deciding to input that effort and upheaving them all together as the game progresses forward? The first might not be possible while also upholding high quality releases while the second leads to disgruntled people right away but forms the game around the issues until it starts simply to ‘fit right in’. PoE has done that actually and it surprised me they managed to pull it off in so many sectors at once.

True, but there’s a general ‘notion’ in which basic behavior drives a person. Strip away specific personal inclinations and you get the baseline of the baseline, singular aspects which hold true for a group. Otherwise we could describe behavior only as ‘chaos’ with no possibility to ever do anything which is ‘better or worse’ so to say.
We have to have a baseline denominator to make reasonable deductions from that, and that’s psychological inclinations of the broad spectrum. The ‘50%’ scale of users. What makes it harder is that the disposition of those ‘50%’ is already influenced from the overall world-wide ‘50%’ by providing a specific framework, making only specific people even use it (Hence… diablo-clone, being a game, being on PC, being top-down and so on) and finding the overall denominator hence is something which is a literal science in itself and not fully fledged out (albeit we’re getting closer and closer for those things as time progresses).

But as soon as one game of the same genre does something you can always see the same outcomes, and this is from where devs need to pull their data, hence deciding ‘yes, this is what our people are like’.

Well, that’s because corpo loves to solely look at the ‘50%’ stats, but if someone provides you with value beyond mere statistics through measures which can barely be put into numbers then that system fails.

As customers we though aren’t anything more then numbers… until we do more then that. Content creators are hence so highly valued by companies, they are not only consumers… they are your walking billboard and not only pay you in money but also in time investment, free ads, free information, free customer service. The wet dream of a corpo.

Not every corporation has realized that yet though that your product nowadays rises and falls with those people.

That seemed to ignore the rest of what I said (which you quoted below but somehow failed to link them together. And it seemed to ignore the key point of the sentence: the strongest AMONG the ones they find fun. Not among all.

Most players, if the builds that fit their playstyle aren’t fun, will simply stop playing, rather than use a build with a playstyle they don’t like. You can see that in PoE every time they nerf a build to the ground.

If given multiple choices that adapt to their playstyle, they do tend to pick the strongest. But by definition that is already a subset of possible builds.

I’m mainly a minion fan. I love minion builds. I have purposefully stayed away from that one until the inevitable 1.1 nerf happens.

Players that don’t like minion builds but feel they have to use it are, by definition, competitive players. Which is a minority of people. Most people, if they don’t like minion builds won’t use a minion build, even if it’s the most OP of all. They will sooner stop playing.

Yes. But your statement means that it’s not an absolute regarding the game as a whole, so it’s not a true statement overall. But competitive players rage about it all the time as if it’s an absolute and everyone feels like they do.
It’s a reductive argument and doesn’t advance the discussion. Quite the contrary, it often brings about opposition and sometimes even hostility exactly because they’re saying everyone is/feels like them.

Obviously balance is important, even to non-competitive players. But there’s a huge gap between saying “Balance is all over the place and it needs to be fixed” and “There are only 2 builds and everything else is useless and shouldn’t even exist”.

I have no idea on their plans, but I’m pretty sure there will be heavy nerfs to overperforming builds. It’s not even that hard. Since most are relying on broken ward mechanics, fixing ward will automatically fix those builds.

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Point taken, though there’s a portion of players which will go into the ‘not so fun’ direction as well. Which could simply be avoided this way.
Because why not doing that if the option is there overall?

And yes, also agreed with people stopping to play if there’s no build available for their play-styles, which also though to a degree highlights the issue. If the pasture is greener on the other side but means loosing the fun you’re between a rock and a hard place so to speak. Keep with your archetype and have a ‘bad’ build or choose a non-fun build which clearly overperforms? It’s a nudge into it just not feeling nice and can tip the balance.

Overall you’re right, absolutely so even, it’s those nudges that cause differences in outcome though.

Some do, but the point is to keep players engaged as long as possible after all.
So either them leaving because the other pastures are greener, because their archetype underperforms vastly or them moving over to non-fun builds… it’s all the same. The outcome is ‘I don’t enjoy it, I’ll leave’… and that’s what’s to be avoided for as long as possible.
Impossible forever but obviously wanted to postpone it every little second.

I’m at that position definitely. I get what you’re saying and my line of argumentation was badly chosen, absolutely right there.

I hope so, it’s far overdue - like many other things - and to a degree baffling that it hasn’t been done earlier. The baseline mechanic was too strong ever since the low life options were possible to be taken by any character suddenly, which obviously made investment into ward for many not only possible but at times a quite superior choice even. And even before it had a bit of a wonky - but not utterly broken - standing to a degree. It’s something which has been a thing ever since it was implemented first, after all getting 2 EHP pools balanced properly to each other is a fairly hard endeavor, can’t fault them for not getting it ‘right’ swiftly… but definitely for not putting the effort in earlier.

Of course there is. Just like there’s a portion of players that will only play games following a walkthrough. Just like there’s a portion of players that will try to get all achievements. We can safely say they’re a minority, though. The majority of players are casuals that are just playing for fun and only with fun in mind. Even in PoE.

Again, the majority of players are casuals. They don’t care if there’s a build doing 2k+ corruption as long as their build is fun. This is even more true when you consider that this majority will not play monos at all. They’ll finish the campaign and be done with it. Some will play the campaign a couple times more with different builds but that’s it.

We just tend to dismiss them because they don’t compose the “core” playerbase of a game. The ones that are there every single season for however long until they finish their goals. Casuals come and go over time and aren’t regular.


It’s ok. I’ve had the same issue before where I’ve chosen the wrong arguments or came on too strong. We’re all human.
I wasn’t specifically targetting you, though. I was targetting those that say those things and keep saying those things even when presented with facts. I’ve never bundled you with these, even when we disagree :wink:

They were afraid of the whiplash from nerfing builds mid-cycle. I can see that, even if I disagree in this instance. The game is new, it’s on 1.0. Balance is all over the place and player retention is lower than usual.
It would have been better to nerf it a month ago and have some whiplash from the remaining players, but then players would move on, then to now nerf it at 1.1 and have a larger whiplash of returning players at cycle start.

Thats just my opinion, though.

Low life is also a pretty widespread thing in PoE. Or was a few years ago, I don’t know how things are currently with all the power-creep that happened, especially regarding defenses. But pretty much all builds had a low-life variant, which was stronger. Many even had CI builds. The main difference is that LL/CI builds in PoE are (or were) hard to put together and/or expensive, whereas in LE they’re really easy.

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