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  1. Hello again Ascension players! We're here again with another balance-blog! We initially intended to release a smaller PvP-event blog earlier but as we kept adding more and more changes the blog got pushed back, in the end we decided to release some of the content as separate blogs. You can find them here: Full and partial cooldown sharing Immunity counters With the next instant-60-weekend going live in a few hours I hope you'll be able to appreciate the amount of work our team put into this project. The 16th June event was a huge success, with unparalleled numbers we were able to stress test our performance in a single zone. We have received invaluable feedback from our testers and great suggestions posted on the forums! We implore you to keep using the Suggestion and Playstyle Discussion sub-forums to provide feedback and ideas. As we're getting closer to release the time window to make large-impact changes is closing. Before we start with the analysis I would like to repost a few lines from an earlier newsletter, stating the core principles of the balance team to any new players that are reading this blog! The Power of Choice: A Look at Balance On a classless server such as Ascension the possible permutations of builds are staggering. What we aim for is diversity, making sure that players can fulfill their class fantasies and feel viable. This is the core ideology of the five-man balance team, diversity and choice. Supported by player feedback, forum suggestions and spell/talent pick statistics we even out disparities in strength between varying builds and specializations. Sometimes this means helping low-performance playstyles, and sometimes it means bringing down oppressive spells or builds. The hardest choices we face is when and where to adjust, especially concerning PvP balance. To trust our players to find solutions and counters to emerging meta builds and only step in when deemed absolutely necessary. The point I wish to make here is, that above all else, we’re aiming for build-diversity. We believe this to be our most compelling feature. To empower players with the choice to truly make their own unique character and playstyle. With that said, onward to analysis! Overall impression, Playstyle changes and reasoning: Let’s start with the elephant in the room, Hunters, they usually do well in battlegrounds and it was no surprise they came out on top. With their long range, access to every escape and mobility spell they made for a slippery foe. Together with a few players borderline compulsive (and very successful) RAP-stacking they put Hunter playstyles on our radar early on. We decided to tone down the AGI to Ranged Attack Power conversion from 2rap/agi to 1.5rap/agi. We’re only getting started with this expansion, and ranged abilities scale a bit too well. A small tweak to Chimera shot will hopefully reduce the amount one-shotting.. We offset some of the dps loss in PvE with a slight buff to Sniper Training and some added utility to Black arrow. Along with Lock and load, traps and pet buffs we are confident hunters will walk out of this more evenly balanced! Agility now provides 1.5RAP per point, down from 2. Chimera Shot now deals 90% weapon damage, down from 100%, total Serpent Sting damage changed back to 40% up from 20%. Sniper Training damage increase is now 3/6/9% up from 2/4/6%. Black Arrow will no longer share cooldown with traps. Lock and load will now proc properly. We are also making a small tweak to Beastmaster pets, along with a string of bug-fixes increasing pet damage and scaling we decided to tone down the Beast Mastery talent. We may end up having to lower it further and put more power into other pet-oriented talents. Beast Mastery(51-talent) pet damage changed to 10% increase, down from 15%. We found physical melee damage to be in a balance-wise good place, all the common playstyles saw ample play: 2H, Dual Wield, TG, Daggers and Ferals. By Darwinian principles players quickly realized the advantages of survival stats and abilities to deal with Ambush/Eviscerate combos and Bladestorm builds. The main concern we had were tied to multiple imbue procs and related bugs. We’ll be working hard on improving seals and imbues during the coming week. We'll likely make a separate blog complete with changes and reasoning. (We are going to address tanks and their impact in PvP as well as their current state for PvE later as a separate blog or post.) Spellswords and Hybrids were benefiting from a bug giving them a bit more spell-power and healing than was intended, this has been fixed along with a slight buff to the AP->Spell-power and Healing conversions to offset the loss of power. We are also toning down Seals of the Pure to reduce Judgement burst, the 200% critical modifier and holy damage proved a bit too potent when coupled with the stat-stacking possibilities on Ascension! We still want to increase overall damage output on Spellswords and thus we’re buffing Seal of Righteousness to scale with spell power. Mental Quickness now gives 4/8/12/16/20% of your total AP as spell power. Sheath of Light now gives 4/8/12/16/20% of your total AP as healing power. Seals of the Pure, now increases Judgement and Seal damage by 6/12/18/24/30% down from 10/20/30/40/50%. Seal of Righteousness changed back to its original mechanics. No longer has an internal cooldown and now deals damage equal to your mainhand weapon speed * (8% spell power + 1% attack power). We are looking into helping Casters actually finish casting their non-instant spells, with the amount of available gap-closers and spell interrupts, small scale PvP have a tendency to be one-sided if either party was reliant on longer casts. While spells with cast times still has the potential to hit really hard we're looking into making them more consistent, but possibly at the cost of some burst potential. Other than that we are happy with caster performance, healing and spell based damage both. Faces melting all over Warsong gulch and Arathi basin were the common outcome when casters were left alone for more than a few seconds. We’re toning down some burst by separating spell-power from frost and fire-based spells but then putting some more power into Firepower and Piercing Ice. That said.. a few borderline oppressive damage-over-time builds started emerging during the end of the weekend and as such we’re making a slight adjustment to Vampiric Touch, lowering it’s spell-power-scaling from 200% total to 150%. Vampiric Touch now scales with 150% of spell-power, down from 200%. Burning determination now has a 30s duration, up from 20s. Fire Power now gives 2/4/6/8/10% Fire damage, up from 1/2/3/4/5%. Piercing Ice now gives 2/4/6% Frost damage, up from 1/2/3%. Spell Power(Arcane mage talent) now only affects Mage Arcane spells. These are by no means all the changes we've made, as always the full list should be posted on the website changelog! Last few words, The build-meta never once stagnated and continued to evolve throughout the whole weekend, new builds and counters were introduced every hour. Things that looked absolutely overpowered were shut down hours later by clever counters, new ideas or synergy! In the time since the event ended we could definitely have added more changes, more buffs, nerfs or general tweaks to bring certain specs or abilities in line. But this is the ever returning enigma of balance, the risk of changing too much, too quickly.. With the classless system almost everything can be countered or better optimized when people put their minds to it! As our LIVE RELEASE is quickly approaching(announcement inc.), we’ll be mostly focusing on polishing mechanics and hunting down the last few bugs. Thank you for all your help, we look forward to seeing what you got in store for us on Project Ascension!
  2. Hello Ascension players! First off we would like to thank everyone turning up for the BG-weekend. I myself had a blast, I hope you did too! We managed to track down and fix a bunch of performance issues related to high-population. And along with the data and feedback we gathered this event proved to be invaluable. We'll be hard at work analyzing and tweaking abilities and talents the coming days. Now is a great time to make use of the suggestion forums. Your thoughts and ideas are very important, necessary even! As we're getting closer and closer to release we'll have less chances to make big-impact changes. Expect a sizable Balance blog soonish~
  3. Instant 60-BG-Weekend is now live and running! You can use your regular account and client to log onto 'Instant 60 Battleground PTR'-server. Make sure you have the latest patch! This event will last until Monday 5:00am CET. Make the most of it people!
  4. Hey, So as most of the level 60 player base already knows, the PvP gear has a ridiculous grind attached to it. For the sake of beta, I decided to give it a go and get a single piece of PvP gear, here is my feedback: First thing I had to do was decide between the many quest options given in order to figure out which would be easiest/quickest. The difficulty of these quests varies massively. One required you to farm level 48 mobs with a 3% drop chance, another required you to kill level 58+ elite mobs also with a 3% drop chance, not balanced at all. I ended up choosing to grind the un'goro crystal collection quest because of guaranteed drops and the chance to gain between 1-3 in any node it seemed like the best bet when most of the quests require 140 of an item for a piece of gear. It took just under 4 hours to collect enough crystals for one piece of gear. I did zero pvp whilst doing this. It would take over a day of in-game playtime to grind the marks of ascension for a full set, which I would be fine with if I was doing something fun, but this was horribly boring just grinding my arse off. None of these quests related at all to doing PvP beyond just forcing you into the world, hell all the materials to complete the quests could be sold on the AH. Also, I just want to point out that un'goro was uncontested when I grinded, I can't begin to imagine the headache of there being 5 people all trying to gather crystals at the same time, each piece of gear would take more like 12 hours of play time,not even factoring in dropping the damn things. The stats on the gear are not proportional to the time investment. There's a lot of PvE gear that's better which could be acquired more easily and actually have fun running dungeons at the same time. The only thing I can really see going for the PvP gear is the high stamina or the stacking of spell power 2-set bonuses, but that's a minimal gain for such a lot of work. My suggestions: Before I start, I acknowledge that the system is likely incomplete but these suggestions are for the current system in place. If we're given an idea of what other features are going to be implemented it's likely we wouldn't point out things you're already intending to change. Okay, so what actually is the purpose of having so many quests? There's too many of them, there will be 3 optimal ones to pick depending on contested farming areas and that's it. I fail to see why someone who wants PvP gear has to do loads of grinding while a PvE player can do the content they want to do, and run dungeons. Equally, it's not even remotely interesting/epic like the D2 set quests. What's the purpose of PvP gear in Ascension? How is PvP gear going to differ from PvE gear if at all? Personally, I'm fine with PvE raid gear being BiS for PvP, but when dungeon gear is better it's kinda hard to justify trying to get PvP gear. On the flipside, if PvP gear is best for PvP, then everyone would be using it with little options in gear choice, so it's not an easy thing to balance. This is what I would do: 1. Scrap these god-awful quests, there are other ways to encourage wPvP, hamstringing people's gear progression by shoving it in their face is not the way. 2. Have two PvP gear sets: One can be purchased with honor points and is the gear on offer right now. The second set has two ways of being purchased, this gear would be better than dungeon gear: The pieces of gear are gated behind PvP reputations such as Silverwing Sentinels. Gear is gated behind arena rating. WoW is built around instanced content, this doesn't diminish wPvP at all, I enjoy wPvP but it shouldn't be the way to get PvP gear. I get that the system I'm suggesting requires more activity in instanced PvP and hopefully this a good way to encourage it. The first set of gear would require a similar investment time as running dungeons. The second set is gated by either skill or grind. These are my thoughts, it would be great to hear other's opinions too
  5. Abstract In this thread I am going to go back through the changelog and identify a few balance changes that illustrate a lack of gameplay mechanical consideration by the developers who pushed them through. I will also look at the overall structure of the balance system on Ascension and point out what I feel are deficiencies in its operation. The main focus is pve, but I do touch upon pvp at the same time. On a personal note If this comes across as overly ‘whiny’ or condescending, then I offer sincere apologies, but I honestly have found a lot of the recent balance decisions discussed in this post pretty painful and frustrating to watch rolling out, compounded by the fact that I have only been able to discuss this of the absolute briefest terms with one developer and one admin. I would like to give my appreciation to the staff that have responded however, they did in a fair and concise manner (if a little light on detail). What is frustrating is I know for a fact that some players on ascension have a direct line with developers and seem to have a lot of influence too. I have seen a few players discussing changes days before patches drop. I was assured by a frustrated/defeated arena opponent that my spec would be specifically nerfed in an upcoming patch (and surprise surprise, it was). In addition, my personal interpretation is the developers on ascension are more knowledgeable with making pvp balance changes than pve. The TLDR is i won’t be holding back opinions or assertions I make in this thread. When possible, I will support with facts but due to the nature of the server and lack of a true development realm there will be a level of subjectivity. Introduction and Overview On a first note, I think that most of the balance changes made here on Ascension were the right calls and were made for the right reasons. Despite this, a few changes have clearly been highly reactionary and often break class mechanics for many builds that were often already under-represented on ascension. Many of these show a fundamental overlooking of the deeper pve mechanics that matter so much in 3.3.5a. On a second note, Project Ascension is advertised as a classless progressive server. However I believe several changes in the past few patches are undermining this very core fundamental promise of the server. The pve (and pvp) meta is rapidly solidifying on Ascension, and yet many of these changes do nothing but pigeonhole players into picking the easy 5 button dps builds that currently dominate on Ascension. In many ways build variety of Ascension is becoming worse than the class variety that existed in the 3.3.5a retail. On a third note, I am becoming concerned with the communication coming from the dev team on justifications and reasoning for many of these changes. The last balance blog was released on the 15th of March and was sparse on detail, something that needs to changed. If developers are going to make sweeping changes to talents and spells, a short written justification should really be provided. A 15min podcast on changes and why they were made would be a really nice idea. Part 1: Historical balance blunders The changelog is so broken here, I had to pull many of these changes from the website news feed. Overall what I have seen so far is the overall strategy of quick and heavy nerfs and a general lack of revision. Deadly and Instant Poison Both now have a 1s ICD Instant poison base and ap coefficient reduced by 50%. Deadly poison ap coefficient reduced by 25% (I think it is more than this from testing) These changes essentially make poison builds useless in pve. If a developer knew in detail how rogues worked in 3.3.5a, they would know that rogues used a fast offhand weapon, and would try to stack haste as much as possible. This is because once deadly poison reached a full stack, each reapplication would proc instant poison on the main hand. This mechanic could easily be 20%+ of a Rogue’s damage in pve – but the addition of a 1s ICD breaks scaling with haste and to a lesser extent energy regen. We also have to take into account that Envenom is not available at lvl 60, already resulting in a large dps and talent synergy loss for poison builds on ascension. Poisons are massively under-tuned on ascension – they see 0 use in pve, except perhaps for the 4% physical damage debuff from Savage Combat. Poisons see occasional use in pvp – purely because of Deadly brew for the pvp utility, not for the damage. The gap between poisons and windfury on ascension is just enormous. Windfury easily deals 2x the dps of all poison effects combined, and scales much better. The consequence of these haphazard balance changes is that dual daggers is absent from pve entirely, and not used much in pvp either. I talk more about the bad state of weapon enhancement balancing here: Overall the changes to poisons indicate a lack of understanding of rogue pve class mechanics in 3.3.5a. Deadly brew builds being overpowered in pvp at one point long ago could have been dealt with by alternative changes that would not destroy viability in pve. I also recognise that @Jacob has commented on both posts and am greatfull for him doing so. I still think these are such significant issues (and yet reasonably simple to re-balance) that they deserve a mention in this thread. Sheath of Light and Mental Quickness These two talents possibly now hold the title of the most heavily nerfed talents on ascension. Legacy changes combined with a today’s crushing patch change effectively locks players out from playing melee spell casting hybrids with high end viability. (Yet healers and spell caster healing is unaffected) Sheath of light first had its base attack power to spell power scaling nerfed by 70%! In addition the HOT bonus was nerfed by 50%. Then in the most recent patch, the developers decided it needed to be nerfed more and just removed the healing bonus altogether. Mental Quickness also had it’s ap→sp conversion reduced to the same degree and its healing torn away. In addition, these talents do not gain any bonus for certain attack power modifiers like Savage Combat or Armored to the Teeth (I support that change but it is an important note to make). I don’t even really know where to start with these changes, so I will talk a little bit about the philosophy of spellsword builds. The Spellsword Spellswords function a lot like Retribution/Enhancement builds in 3.3.5a. They invest heavily (6+ TE) into Sheath of Light/Mental Quickness/Touched by the Light to gain the ability to integrate spell damage into their rotation. Generally, they will also invest 3-6 talents into mana return mechanics (or just lifetap) for sustainability. (Yes lifetap is a huge problem that I will make another post on). Perhaps the developers do not spend as much time as they should reading recount logs, but these builds actually fall behind in pve on ascension, due to the fact that their spell damage would not scale as-well as a pure melee builds weapon damage did. Spellswords definitely do decent damage in dungeon content and (low geared) pvp, but fall behind quite severely in the raiding environment. So if the advantage of these specs was not raw damage, what was it? Utility. These builds would generally heal about 30% more than pure melee builds, enabling them to offheal in certain situations, maybe put an Earthshield on the offtank or selfheal on certain high raid damage encounters. Remember most pvp specs run with a healing debuff, so the additional healing spellswords could take was already partially nullified). Ret(Holy based builds) for example could toss out art of war flash of lights using macros in combat, just as they did in Wotlk retail pve. Not anymore. Art of war is now severely depleted in effectiveness for any melee hybrid dps build. Is anyone really going to spec 2 points to get a decently hard hitting 15s crit proc spell attack (exorcism) and a (now) pathetic instant flash of light that might heal for 450 if you are lucky? This talent might as well just be removed from the game and replaced with something else in the current state (maelstrom weapon is now pretty bad too) – not to mention the flash of lights were already under-tuned due to the absence of sacred shield at lvl 60 that would give a 50% critical strike chance on FOL every 6s. Oh yeah and Seal of light is now rubbish for any spellsword build. But wait it still scales with attack power so it will actually be better with the meta ap/armor stacking build than a traditional hybrid build. Its curious that these talents have been nerfed over 70%, but bread and butter talents like armoured to the teeth (picked up by 80% of melee builds) have not seen any changes. I really would love to see developers actually justify these changes on an individual basis. I have a suspicion that they nerfed these talents not because of spellsword builds but healers were picking these spells (they could have just baked in a core-side spirit or mp5 penalty). There are so many other ways this could have been addressed, but the developers went for the quick and dirty solution. The gutting of the Retribution tree The retribution tree now exists on Ascension as a nice pathway for inner fire stacking armoured to the teeth windfury builds to boost their damage a few percent with the bonus crit talents and seal of command, and maybe a decent mana return for tanks (JotW). The recent patch has all but destroyed what limited utility a retribution build had left, now being totally unable to heal any more than a pure melee dps build and now totally inferior to a dot or single nuke based caster. Let's look at the long list of bad changes: As a prerequisite note, I support the baseline nerfing of SOR/SOC and judgement, players should have to invest to make these spells hit hard, the problem is with the other stuff Vengeance on retail added 9% physical and Holy damage. On ascension the physical component was removed altogether. Overly nerfed, the physical component should have been removed and the holy component buffed to at least 15%. Seals: No longer proc on special attacks. A good change in theory as these should not have been proccing of hemo and windfury, but wait what about Crusader strike, Judgement and Divine storm, surely paladin specific attacks should still proc seals as Blizzard intended. Nope, nerfed. You can read more about the consequences of this ner heref: project-ascension.com/forum/index.php?/topic/176-weapon-enhancement-balance-issues/ The TLDR is that it makes these ret based instant strikes redundant. Who will pick a 75% weapon damage Crusader Strike over Bloodthirst and it’s 50% ap scaling or the spammable energy dump hemo. No one will, and no one does. It's a joke that a ret build has to invest 10 TE into improved seal damage talents, and then they still only consist of ~6% total dps. If these seals procced off paladin special attacks (Judge/CS/DS) this would rise to ~13% dps, a much more respectable number. Art of War: I already talked about this one. 50%+ of this talents utility was gutted with the recent nerfs to Sheath of Light and Mental Quickness. 450 heal flash of lights just do not cut it. Seal of Righteousness is actually one of the most painful nerfs. So spell power scaling has already been damaged across the Ret paladin tree. Surely the original paladin dps seal should still scale nicely with a spellsword build? Nope. This spell now does a static 15% autoattack holy damage. The consequence of this is that a current-meta armored to the teeth stacking melee/ap build will see far more of a bonus from this spell than a dedicated spellsword. Literally, the developers just made this spell better for non-spellswords. And make no mistake, every standard melee build will still pick a seal for the passive 3-4% damage boost that it provides. Shield slam and Devastate: I will not hide behind the justification that just because this is a classless realm these abilities should have been as strong as they were. They clearly did too much damage and scaled too well. The developers decided, that rather than fix the scaling they would only enable the use of these spells in defensive stance. Seems good then, a 10% damage and bigger AE investment nerf should do the trick? Nope. Let's say a boss fight is about to start where only two tanks are needed. Say a third prot-warrior tank who is not needed on a boss fight can dps without the threat of screwing up the tanks agro. Well, by gating these spells behind defensive stance, any tank turned dps on a boss gets to sit back and autoattack. They can’t put on dps gear and do damage, because they are locked behind the defensive stance threat modifier on devastate/shield slam and will likely pull aggro and die, probably wiping the raid in the process. These attacks should be usable in battle stance at the very least. If the damage needs re-tuned then do it but don’t unfairly lock out the use of abilities like this please... Part 2: Things that could be improved Working, searchable changelog with detailed descriptions of the changes and a brief note on the reasoning Smaller more frequent balance changing patches (small enough to not require client change) should be phased in A balance blog/podcast should be released everytime game changing balance decisions are made More dev attention should be payed to recount and damage meters - perhaps GMs should join MC raids and make data dumps from recount logs to see what specs/spells are performing well and which are not More avenues of communication (this seems to gradually be improving so a good start here at least) More general attention to pve balance (pvp feedback seems more heavily weighted) A long hard look needs to be made at many of the old historical 'balance' changes made to the game Again if this overall post comes across as overly aggressive, then I offer my apologies for that was not the intent. It's still something I needed to get of my chest and I think it should be heard. Also this post was primarily focused on melee and hybrids. I might make a separate one for the issues with caster balancing at a later date.
  6. As the game currently is, melees have access to enough gap closers & cc breaks to stay on top of somebody until either they die or their target dies. Most of them are picking up Improved Counterspell, as it is a 4 second silence available every 24 seconds. This is un-trinketable, which means that every 24 seconds, a caster is unable to cast spells, defend themselves, or even move granted the availability of slows/stuns to everyone, NO MATTER WHAT, for 4 seconds.* Melees do not experience this - the closest thing that would be comparable is a disarm, but melees are also tending to grab -50% disarm reduction for 2 points. Do casters receive a talent where 2 points can cut silence times in half? No, but moving on. The best choice for a disarm as a caster would be Psychic Horror except this spell is on a 3 minute cooldown and honestly not worth it, granted how easy it is for melees to reduce the disarm time by 50%. I think, to balance the game a little more at the top-end of the skill spectrum, blanket silence effects should be removed by trinket effects that remove loss of control. Being unable to cast spells or defend myself isn't what I would call being in control of my character. * - summon felhunter may be taken and if youre lucky you can self-purge a CS sometimes, but should every caster be pigeon-holed into taking summon felhunter to be competitive at the high end?

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