Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Archer Rebalance - More on the Way?

Much has been made for nearly the last 3 years about how Archers really come up with the short end of the stick when it comes to many elements of gameplay.  Archer advocates speak of major tactical disadvantages in PvP (lack of damage, nearly identical evasion to fighters, effective evasion vs effective aim, lack of skills, etc) as well as a lack of a defined party role leaving Archers with almost no option other than to solo.  So with all of the grumbling, posturing, and debating from the player base, OutSpark asked OnsOnSoft to revisit the Archer class and attempt to put them back on par with the other two damage dealing classes.

Some progress had been made, the addition of a larger stone capacity (which extremely powerful mages also benefited from), upgrades to Nature's Mist beyond level 85, a 'fix' to Multi Bloodshot (kitable, 50% reduction in SP cost, no longer locks up all your skills, potions, scrolls - but the skill still remains somewhat broken and useless), and finally with today's announcement, an increase in damage, but only for those Archers steadfast enough to make it to Prestige.  Further progress had been eluded too in past OSKI updates stating that Archer Balancing was 'Under Review", but how much has really been done?  Those of you literary types may be familiar with the term "Red Herring", those of you that aren't get familiar with it as this may be a classic example, see definition2 above.

Rebalance Strategy #1:  Larger Stone Capacity
While this was a tremendous benefit to soloing Archers pre-Prestige, it honestly wasn't that necessary.  It was a convenience more than a necessity.  A nice-to-have, but no where near a need-to-have.  Many of us that hit Prestige before this change was announced did just fine.  Some of us adjusted our builds (SP Consumption empowerments to Piercing Shot and Nature's Mist) or just got used to restoning with more frequency.  Now I'm not at all against such a change, it was definitely welcome, it helps those that are out there in the field definitely stay out there longer, especially those Flaming Mine - Gold Knight farmers/kiters, but this change also benefited our AOE'ing DD competition, the Mage.  Mages when from a paltry 72 or so HP stones to nearly 250.  This was a tremendous benefit to soloing Mages as well as those that party.  Parties now only had to break/rest when their inventories became jam packed with loot.  So a win for the Archers, but an even bigger WIN for the Mages.

Rebalance Strategy #2:  Nature's Mist Upgrades
When this was announced, many 85+ Archers were definitely excited, hopeful that their Nature's Mist skill could soon go toe-to-toe in impact damage with Piercing Shot.  Sadly, this was not the case.  Sure we saw a small increase in impact damage as well as a minuscule increase in DOT damage, but that was it.  Oh and it cost us more SP to cast with not much new benefit.  Well intended, but for the most part, a failure to deliver anything real.

Rebalance Strategy #3:  MultiBloodShot Fixes
If you were 95+ before this fix was made, you never, ever used MBS.  There was a very good chance that after the 3rd or 4th cast, your skills would completely lock up.  You wouldn't be able to use anything with a cast timer or countdown timer.  This included pots, scrolls (both buff and town/teleport), or getting on your mount.  If you were kiting a mass of mobs, you either suicided (intentionally or unintentionally) by getting overrun by angry mobs that are enjoying the fact that you're no longer attacking them, or tried to run alllllllllllllll the way to the nearest teleport gate so that you could do a FULL relog of your game client.  So after many many months of this nonsense, OS applied a fix.  Oh, I forgot to mention that MBS also cost over 900sp to cast, how's that for an extra kick in the teeth?  So anyway, back to the 'fix'.... the on-again-off-again relationship we had with MBS being kitable was finally fixed making it fully kitable.  SP consumption was reduced by 50% from 900+ to a still SP-sucking 400+.  Skill and timer lockups were also fixed.  However what wasn't addressed was the fact that the DOT effect that MBS uses is the wrong effect.  Instead of, you know, making the target bleed, you would get a disease based DOT, which you already had with Piercing Shot.  So yes, Archers have 3 kitable AOEs, but sadly, not all 3 different DOTs will work.  Cool down on MBS I believe is 20 seconds also, not anything at all to get thrilled about.  So again, same as the Mist upgrades... Well intended, but for the most part, a failure to deliver anything real.

Stat window prior to increased damage from Passive skills, 100+.
Stat window after increased damage from Passive skills, 100+

Rebalance Strategy #4:  Increase in Damage post-Prestige via Passives.
Okay, so what exactly does that mean?  Basically the level 100+ Passive skills, your Masteries (Bow/X-bow), see an upgrade in the damage they add to your character when you activate them.  While we don't yet know the specifics, I can at least give you a baseline of what my SharpShooter has at 106, prior to tonight's patch as show in the above screenshot.  I'm hopeful, but being a realist, I can't imagine the damage increase being anything to get too thrilled about.  When you activate a new passive at whatever milestone level you just hit, you see a slight increase in your stat window, but it's not much, and how that equates into real damage is anyone's guess.  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get any field testing in prior to the announcement in the OSKI and the game being shut down for weekly maintenance, so anything I report will be based on 'feel' more than raw data.  I know that many non-Prestige Archers are feeling like they got the shaft with this update, and I feel for you, I really do, but the damage increase is a bigger necessity after 100 than it is prior simply because of the time commitment needed to grind.

Many Prestiged Archers are still using either an HG or a BKR or even a TBK to kite.  Meaning they've been kiting perhaps the last 10 levels with basically the same damage but have gone from needing 143m EXP to level at 90, to now needing 440m EXP at level 100.  Factor in the cost of enhancing a level 100 weapon, and the fact that they are no better than BKRs and still inferior to Hellgaits, and this same archer will likely be using the same weapon, doing roughly the same amount of damage but now needing experience in the BILLIONS to reach the next level.  So yes, this was a change that Prestiged Archers needed more than the general populace of Archers do.  Aside from PvP, 99% of Archers will probably agree that their damage is sufficient when kiting.  Archers traditionally already level at a fast pace from 51 onward, an increase in damage at those lower levels would make an already quickened pace that much faster.

The Result?  Okay now that the game is up, I was able to log back in and see the difference first hand.... and what do I see?  122 more damage.  Yes, one hundred, twenty-two.  If you compare that to the 4632 max base damage I had, that's a 2.6% increase.  Thumbs up for rebalance.  Excuse me while I put the champagne back on ice.

So, is that it?
Geez, I hope not.  There is so much more that the Archer class needs to not even "get ahead" of the other classes, but just to catch up.  So what would I like to see?  A lot really....

FatalLace's Archer Rebalance Stratagem #1:  Honor Attack Rates
You know how that lovely Dance of Sylph (Level 70 Blue Bow) has that scrumptious 1.0 attack rate?  Wouldn't it be just peachy to be able to get that attack rate regardless of your distance in relation to the target (within auto-attack range of course)?  Unfortunately, for some reason we're stuck on a 1 arrow per screen restriction that forces us to get into the face of our target to get anywhere close to a decent attack rate going.  So yeah, wanna use Nature's Speed and take on a Fighter?  Be prepared to eat a lot of his debuffs up close and personal and pray your meager evasion advantage holds up.  So that's my first and most important fix that needs considering.

FatalLace's Archer Rebalance Stratagem #2:  Retool Prestige Skills
Any Prestiged Archer of either subclass will tell you that many of the skills we get are just wonky.  Yes, wonky.  They make absolutely no sense.  Since I use a SharpShooter, let's use that to start off:

Distant Shot:  You would think that an Archer with the power of a bow would have the furthest attack in the game right?  I mean we've all seen movies where a platoon of Archers raise their bow at a 45 degree angle and launch a volley of arrows at targets hundreds of meters away, right?  I'm not asking for a siege-type skill like that, but at least give us something with more oomphf than a Knight's Discharge.  I mean c'mon!  He's using a sword!  And he doesn't even throw it!  The damage on the skill is not significant either, barely an upgrade over an auto-attack, but with longer range.  Cool down is a whopping 2 minutes for a skill with so little impact.  Damage cannot be empowered, seriously why?  But then again, I guess I wouldn't upgrade the damage on a 1.4 sec cast time skill that I can only cast every 2 minutes anyway.

Slow Shot:  I will be the first to admit that although Slow Shot is for the most part worthless, it's still kinda fun to just mess around with.  And by messing around with I mean either 1-shotting level 40 and lower players in FBZ, or just irritating other players with.  Oddly, many players find it entertaining to be chased by an arrow.  But anyway, so what's broken?  Everything.  Damage on the skill is absolutely pathetic, it doesn't matter what weapon I equip 105 +10 Ashur or a Level 1, the damage remains constant, a whopping 150-200 on a level 100 player of any class.  Even fully empowered, the damage is ridiculously low.  Cool Down even fully empowered is 35 seconds.  Many of us had hoped that we would be able to spam this skill much like the Nerpas in Dragon's Tomb do.  The Nerpas can launch 3-4 of these guys in a row and watch the damage stack as they all hit the target at nearly the same time.  You add a stack like that of say 500-700 damage per Slow Shot along with the rest of your skills and you would have something formidable when those Slow Arrows impact.

Neutralize:  This is a great skill in PvP when used at precisely the right moment.  However, it's easily countered by anybody who hotkeys their weapon.  Aside from Clerics, just about anyone at Prestige has gone through Dragon's Tomb and have been disarmed by Cornelius.  Hotkeying the weapon was a natural thing to do rather than scouring through pages of inventory wondering where you weapon went.  That alone made this skill somewhat useless.  Albeit there are times and situations where it is still useful (opponent near death, opponent in middle of skill change, opponent blinded, etc) but it's a 1-2 second inconvenience, that's it.  Personally, I hotkey my weapon to the tilde (~) key next to the #1 along the top row of the keyboard.  It's a simple pinky reach to hit it and I'm back in business.  Cool downs are great at 35 seconds fully empowered.  I would like to see this skill working as a debuff that didn't allow the opponent to re-equip for a set period of time.  Think of it as you getting hit really hard on the back of the hand and your hand is throbbing and you just can't get a solid grip on your weapon until you recover.  That is how it should be.

Absolute Arrow:  Similar in damage and effectiveness as Distant Shot, but without the distance and with a longer cast time and shorter cool down.  What's broken?  Why even bother using this?  In the time it takes me to cast this attack, I could have auto-attacked twice for more damage.  So yep, why bother?

Detect:  As intended, this skill is supposed to be the countermeasure to the Ranger's Hide skill.  However, it really serves no purpose.  Either this skill needs an overhaul, or Hide does, or even both.  In its present state, Detect is merely eye candy, a reticle is shown on the ground, much like any other AOE, and Detect is cast.  If the Ranger happens to be in the area, his Hide skill will be negated.  The skill also has a 30 second cool down.  But really, how likely is anyone to detect a Ranger using this skill?  A Ranger's Hide is also defeated with any damage dealing AOE from any other class, meaning it would be better to just spam Nature's Mist and Piercing Shot in hopes of finding the Ranger.
So how would I change it?  One of two ways:

1.  Make Detect spammable and instead of targeting an area, make it centered around the SharpShooter, similar to a Cleric's AOE heal, and give it a 15m radius.

2.  Eliminate the active skill and make it a passive with SharpShooters always able to see hidden Rangers.  By that same token, make Rangers impervious to exposure from any AOE.  This provides a better balance between the two subclasses.

** Still more to come **


  1. Perfect...JUST nicely done -thumbs up-


  2. Thank you fatal~~ you expressed all my agony as a SS and more... I feel like that OS gave us SS a partial dog biscuit. I have pride and love being our class but we are clearly the worst class in the game. Really hoping for a change.

    I agree with everything you wrote. But some of my ideas for change which I didn't catch you mention:

    1. Double the damage for DOT for all kitable AOE.
    2. Fix AOE poison, bleed, illness stacking
    3. Stack auto shot with all skill
    4. Increased evasion by 200~300+
    5. Remove cast time for aim/power shot
    6. Increase buff time for Natures Speed
    7. Decrease CD for all SS skills, disarm with max CD is fine as it is.
    8. Increase damage for all SS skills

  3. How about multishot being kiteable?

  4. I agree, archers still need a ton of work done just to get on par with other classes. If the cool down rate for whirlwind can be dropped from 3 mins to 1, which is a drastic change, then archer skills need to be fixed at a faster rate...and I agree, nothing to get excited about with increased damage for 100+ archers of both subtypes.

  5. Well, I still think clerics are kinda the ugly duckling in the whole class-story, and if u'd actually got all the changes u mentioned in this post, it would be overpowering sharpshooters, but at some points ur right, archers are (just like clerics) alot weaker then fighters/mages.


  6. Clerics have a defined role in a party...healing. Not to say clerics are not good at tanking or dealing out some damage, but when you play a cleric its not for PvP or their awesome array of attack skills.

  7. Hmmm i think slow shot should be a self buff that lasts for at least 10 seconds, but if the SS moves the buff disappears, I mean you cant shoot while moving (except for the DoTs, this could be a good way to fix Slow Shot, but it's just my opinion.

  8. Well thought out and communicated blog article.

    The archer class as a whole in Fiesta is flawed, just a look at the skills CD and damage shows this...

    However tragically the sharpshooter class in its present format is more than badly flawed - it is plain broken.

    I have a 100 SS character (Bijou server) and at the moment is only useful as a mat collector in TM. It is worth pointing out that your well thought out 'developments' on the prestige skills are so far removed from what we have, that they might as well scrap the skills and start again.

    For what it is worth...

    I would have liked to see a Neutralize skill, that actually neutralizes some (character or monster) attacks (i.e., let say for 3 seconds or 2 attacks) that way the skill has a use in both pvp and pve.

    A cool down on Blind shot that is similar to mages fear

    A one second cool down magic arrow skill with 'bite' that allows the SS class to be far more versatile in skill speed attacks whilst providing a true difference in fighting style to a Ranger.

    As for the rest of the (new) 100+ skills, barely worth putting on a shift + button ;-)


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