While balancing is going to be an everlasting concern with this game, I’d like to approach the idea of ensuring that multiple survivability measures are in place to expand the diversity of “viable” builds. The Ward + Potion thread led to a lot of good discussion on how people expect to mitigate damage, reduce the chance of one-shots, and passive, active, and reactive defenses. I wanted to bring all defensive measures into one thread so that people can discuss ways to spread the defensive measures between equipment, passives, and skill choices.
For many characters, this will be the defining defensive measure for a build. A 50% straight reduction in damage after block, armor and protections becomes exponentially more powerful for builds who don’t have the luxury to stack other defensive measures. However, glancing blow is a stat that you either have to go 100% or 0%; nobody wants to have the fear of a 1% chance of getting hit by a large attack for double damage.
No class has a passive for glancing blow, so it is wholly covered by equipment passives. The Chest slot has the largest chance, sitting at around 20% per T5 prefix, which you can combine for up to 40+% Glancing Blow chance. If you’re using a Unique Chest equipment or have other Chest-unique prefixes, however, you’re out of luck. Excluding the Chest, you’ll need 8 prefixes between the shield, helmet, gloves, belt, boots, and 2 ring slots, and a good number of those slots will be taken by other unique prefixes, such as Cooldown Recovery for the helmet or Cast / Attack speed for the gloves. This will heavily reduce the amount of options you’ll have for other slots like Rings or Belt, making the majority of those prefixes comparatively useless.
It is for others to decide whether they like this arrangement, but I would like to suggest raising the Glancing Blow values on Shields to match that of Chest slots, as that is a great way for non-Sentinel classes who aren’t loaded with Block passives to effectively use the Shield / off-hand slot.
Armor and Protections
I know that the prevailing Dev opinion is that they don’t want fire-and-forget skills that take up a skill slot and don’t have an active component to it. However, I would like to suggest that skills have node routes that better emphasize protections so that people have more meaningful choices in selecting not only skill selection, but node paths within those skills themselves. This is already seen in skills like Sentinel’s Lunge which provides up to 100% increase in Void and Elemental Protections for 4 seconds after using it. The player has to effectively cover for 7 damage types: Physical, Elemental (3), Void, Necrotic, and Poison, and there will be enemies throughout that punish you if you don’t have the proper protection.
Question becomes: how much % protection would you like players to aim for? I am personally in the camp of either 50% protection with Glancing Blow, or 75% protection without it, as it would otherwise be too easy for glass cannons to blast their way through the game and AoE + health leech quickly becomes the only viable way to reach the higher waves, as the more damage you do, the more health you gain back to temper the low-resistant hits. The downside of that is that you have to dedicate most, if not all, of your suffix slots in equipment to reach that, assuming you’re not already covered by passives such as Shaman’s “Double Elemental Protections when you have a Totem.” This can be partially mitigated by providing multiple avenues for players to obtain Attunement and Vitality, as then it becomes a meaningful choice for players to choose between going for stats or going for Glancing Blow.
Health and Ward
The other major side of ARPG balancing is health pools. As Armor and Protections add 1 effective health point, it is feasible for builds who can’t build around protections to jack up health and provide other ways to mitigate damage. For example, a build with large health and 100% Glancing Blow or Block can be just as effective as a build with small health and 75% protections. This is good as it encourages people to have multiple different avenues around which they can build, but how to best encourage building around health? Most health passives I’ve seen are largely weak, as they only provide small bonuses and are easily overshadowed by more offensive options. I’m not sure what the gold standard will be for health, but I see around 1,000-2,000 health being a good start, as we don’t want to go for massive numbers right off the bat. The only classes I see that bring a tank-style roleplay would be the Sentinel base class and the Druid Mastery. Hopefully when Wearbear’s damage gets tuned down, perhaps people can explore more ways for a defensive transform-based build can succeed so that it’s not “go for 100% Crit or your build’s useless.”
Ward and Energy Shield (otherwise known as “Damage to Mana before Health”) are other interesting ways to build for defenses. I especially love the very creative “keep at low-life” Necromancers that build to stay around 33% health but keep their survivability at 100% by jacking up Ward. From what I’ve seen in other end-game suggestions, the standard is to go for roughly 500% Ward Retention, but outside of the new potion mechanics, there aren’t any equipment slots that help with ward generation or retention, leaving that mostly to skills.
I would speak up if any skills that mainly pertain to Ward are weak and need improvements, so that Ward builds can feel they can compete with Protection based builds. I would also like to see more applications of “Damage to Mana before Health,” as there is only one affix that provides that and that is confined solely to the Chest Slot.
Passive Health Generation (Health Regen + Healing Novas)
There are multiple healing novas in this game that have variable effectiveness: the best nova coming from Paladin’s Judgment move. It’s a bit wonky to activate and the radius isn’t that much even when you put max points in increasing it, but it recovers a lot of health and prepares you well for facing hard-hitting single targets. Judgment is also really nice in that healing effectiveness also increases the ground damage against enemies. It’s a nice way to make healing effectiveness a affix worth getting.
The other healing novas come from the Primalist class: there’s the Druid passive that grants a healing nova every X seconds, but it comes from Melee attacks and the cooldown makes it basically useless, even with all the cooldown reduction nodes. The other healing nova comes from Entangling Roots and is worth taking because it’s on the way towards the Mana Efficiency nodes. I’ve found it nice to use on my Beastmaster, but it isn’t worth increasing Healing Effectiveness.
Sadly, most of the direct healing abilities (Healing Wind, Healing Hands, Eterra’s Blessing) don’t have skill trees yet, so the Healing Effectiveness bonus is useless for now. Druid’s minion healing effectiveness can be useful either through Spriggan pet for pet users (I’m trying this out for my Beastmaster) or Healing Totems for Spriggan form Druids (I can guess that 5 Healing totems can lead to substantial healing if you increase that stat).
Other builds I wanted to bring up regarding health regen:
I love the Aura of Decay Lich idea where your major source of damage also hurts you and that you need to bump up your passive Health Regen + Poison Protection so that you can increase your damage without also killing yourself. I find this very creative and kudos to people who build around it.
I’ve mentioned this in the previous threads, but between building around weapons that summon creatures: Bone Harvester & Torch of the Pontifex, I’d love to see minion builds where the focus is not increased minion health, but increased minion regen where you summon pets with rapidly decaying health (the wraith when the Necro reaches half health is another one like this, but sadly you can only summon 1 and if you keep the first one alive, the second one replaces the first) that do a lot of damage but can only stay on the field if you give at least 3 affix slots for minion regen. I hope you consider fun ideas like this because it gives a sense of real build diversity.
Dodge is now very hard to build around, as you need increasing amounts of it for it to be effective in level-scaled areas and you need to prepare yourself for when the dodge chance doesn’t roll in your favor. I don’t have the build nearly ready to test it out yet, but I’m trying a primary Dodge build for Reaper Form, as Reaper Form is a second health bar that can make good use of Dodge. I appreciate the increased values on the “Dodge on Potion use” belt slot, though I’ve been having a much harder time finding the affix in the first place.
The other place I can see Dodge working is high Health + Ward builds, as the constant Ward regen can mitigate the one-off chance an attack breaks through. Since you don’t have much space for Ward + Protections + Dodge rating, however, I hope that skills can make up for it with high Dodge investment - skills like Maelstrom’s flat dodge rating per stack.
Active Health Leech, Health on Hit, and Health on Kill
I’ll expand on this later, but I do hope that leech gets tempered early on so that builds are not focused on “all leech, all the time.” Necromancers get more of a pass as they have many nodes that led to constantly decaying health, but I’d like to make sure that the other melee classes can’t just skate on health leech and not have to worry about protections or anything else.
Everything below “Health and Ward” is a work in progress, but I have enough material so far for good discussion on the above topics.