This is the second part of my Forge Guard Feedback. This time I will be going over the passive tree to point out sections that I feel need improvement, rearranging, or need to be removed entirely. The main topics covered in the passive section include:
- Passives that require you to be hit are underpowered and unimpactful
- Forge Guard class passive needs to be changed
- Forge Guard excels at no form of health recovery
- Minion passive Rearrangement
Sentinel Tree Retribution and Thorn’s Style Gameplay
There are several passives throughout the sentinel and Forge Guard tree that try to bolster an archetype that is underpowered and unimpactful. For lack of a better name we’ll call this archetype thorns moving forward as this is what is loosely referred to in other ARPGs. Looking at the picture above you can see a chain of passives feeding into a skill called retribution.
Retribution is a skill that procs aoe damage 30% of the time on hit. Retribution is a perfect example of what not to do with a thorns-type skill. To understand why we need to delve into what make thorns tick.
On its face a thorns-type playstyle wants you to get hit as much as possible to produce some type of benefit. Usually, this comes in the form of damage, ailments, or buffs. However for Thorns to be successful it has to address one overarching problem. Wild swings in power level and consistency.
Encounters are varied and so are the mobs they contain. A large pack of mob will proc more on-hit effects than one single mob. A fast mob procs more than a slow-hitting mob and so on. So how do you make a skill / passive where you get hit feel consistently good most of the time?
Make sure it happens 100% of the time you are hit. You are already at the mercy of RNG when it comes to how many times you are being hit. This is also an easier metric to balance around rather than a skill that can high roll or low roll.
Layer its effects for solo encounters. Have a stronger effect happen when a boss or rare enemy hits the player. Add a new effect when hit by a strong enemy. It needs to just do something so it feels as impactful vs tons of fodder or one big target.
Give the player something active to do with it. Most modern rpgs have made thorns do something on hit or activation along with its passive effect. The most common is to take a % of reflected damage and turn it into base damage. For something like retribution, this is where the % chance to proc could come into play. Now the player has more control on how often they can proc the skill by actually hitting something.
Create ways for the player to inflict self-harm so that they have more control over their thorns-type abilities and passives.
It doesn’t need to be all 4 at once, but it really does need to be at least a mix of 2 of the 4 to make effects like this feel decent. An example of a reworked Retribution would be:
Procs Retribution’s Wrath ( damage effectiveness scaled for having a cooldown) when hit ( Once every 4 seconds. Affected by cooldown reduction). 20% chance to proc Retribution’s Ire (damage effectiveness scaled for having a proc chance) when attacking a Rare, Magic, or Boss type monster.
Now you have a consistent skill that scales, with an active component to help make up for encounters when you’re not swarmed.
Forge Guard Tree Feedback
Passives for Reference:
1 Native Forge Guard Class Passive
2. Battle Hardened
4. Smelter’s Might
5. Folded Steel
6. Shield Crafter
7.Hammer and Anvil
8. Avatar of War
The Forge Guard Class Passive needs to be changed. It is inconsistent and on average nets about a T1-T3 affix worth of armor. It feels nowhere near as strong or unique as what void knight or Paladin offer. That is why I propose that Hammer and Anvil takes the armor passive’s place. This helps to solve two issues:
The armor gain along with how it is acquired is not engaging or noticeable with the current passive. Stances are interesting and could open up a lot of new design space where the armor passive has fallen flat. Hammer stance could get passives dedicated to how it activates and what bonuses it gives. More stances could even be added to go along with it.
Hammer and Anvil is so strong you are almost required to take it. None of the other defensive nodes come close, and damage at end game is so high the mitigation feels mandatory. If every build had it by default it would open up more passives for other builds.
If hammer and anvil is taken as the new passive it shouldn’t be implemented at full strength but it should have ways to augment it. As a reworked passive I would have Hammer and Anvil start as 10% less damage taken / done and 10% more damage taken / inflicted on using a skill that cost mana. Then a modified Avatar of War node could buff the stances to 25 % less / More.
I would remove Avatar of War because much like the class passive armor it has no impact. You may get 30% increased damage out of it at best but often you won’t break single digits. Even if Avatar of War was more damage I don’t think it would be consistent enough to be good.
Forge Guard Has No Recovery Options
Void Knights have life leech and health on kill. Paladins have a multitude of flat heals and healing effectiveness. Forge Guards have potions kind of sort of with no real support outside of one passive. What is missing in the recovery trifecta is Health Regeneration per second. Why not Forge Guard?
Their set helm already tries to lean in this direction. Regen works well with high mitigation. No other sentinel mastery is using it so it wouldn’t be stepping on anyone else’s niche. More health regen support also means they can specialize in this form of recovery without having to dump mountains of health due to the Affix tax.
There are even 2 less than desirable passives that could be reworked right away to get things moving. Those are Battle Hardened and Unflinching. I used to swear by battle hardened until I realized two things.
First of all when something hits me I want it to hurt less now not later. Second of all its the usually the first big hit that matters not the follow up. You don’t want to balance your defenses around being way under statted so that when you get hit the 2nd time it’s okay.
There’s also the issue that the physical resistance puts you way over the cap with no bonus for doing so, and weapon master is a way better passive. Weapon master being 40% armor ad 70% increased damage all the time vs 60% armor when hit.
Unflinching is a stun avoidance passive for a class that is built from the floor up to mitigate big hits. To put it simply you just don’t get stunned. If you do get stunned, that hit was going to be too big for Unflinching to do anything meaningful anyway.
Instead Battle Hardened can be reworked into a passive that gives flat health regen per second and % health regeneration. Unflinching could be reworked to give flat health regen equal to a % of max life (armor?). Probably around 2.5% at max. You could even add more passives that increase regen on low health or after being hit. Recovery is a far more effective stat to have occur after taking damage. The Thornmail passive could be a potential candidate for the kind of interaction.
Forge Guard Minion Passives
The minion passives in general are pretty decent. They just need a little more shuffling around so that each playstyle gets equal access. First off Folded Steel needs the +2 minion portion removed. Both direct damage and damage over time minion builds want +2 minions but they don’t benefit much from going hybrid. Sheild Crafter also has a large portion of minion stats behind shield nodes.
I proposed putting Shield Crafter in the old Hammer and Anvil location and having it branch out into Folded Steel and Smelter’s Might. Remove the 3% chance proc for ring of shields and put the +2 forged weapons there. Now you have both damage types getting the stats they need and neither is forced into a less beneficial cluster to get +2 weapons or minion health / armor.
That’s it for the passive tree. Passives that require you to be hit need to be redesigned to provide both power and consistency. Forge Guard’s class passive could use a change, health recovery needs to be looked into, and minion passives need some swapping around to make a bit more sense.