The Archmage Reloaded

Mythic have done a lot of unusual things for WAR players since the game was released. There have been new classes within the first few months, live events right off the bat, revamps of the PvP system, new event scenarios, and mass class tweaks.

But have they taken it a step too far this time?

Lost among the 1.2 patch notes, Mythic also presented a roadmap for changes to the Archmage/ Shaman which practically mean reworking the classes from the ground up. It is a long set of posts, and they are also asking for feedback. They emphasis that this is not set in stone, it is still early stage.

So I’ll go through the proposed changes and give my feedback right here!

What’s the goal?

The goal for the adjustment is to allow the Shaman / Archmages to become viable healers and nukers, but not necessarily be able to excel at both at the same time, because to do so would make them entirely too powerful in comparison to the other RDPS or healing careers. In addition, we wanted to work in a way for the AM / SH careers to generally be a bit more survivable, but they will have to sacrifice a little DPS or HPS to do so.

So, question is, what’s wrong with them at the moment. I’ll talk about Archmages because it is the class I have played.

My AM is a good healer. But she has some issues. She’s nowhere near as strong a healer or as survivable as a Warrior Priest, and although she is closer to the Rune Priest, she is still less survivable and doesn’t have as useful buffs (she has good debuffs but they are all very short and it’s difficult to see if they have much effect). Her HoTs aren’t really strong enough to be reliable, even though she has quite good mobility.

My AM is not a good damage dealer. When I have specced Asuryan for damage, I’ve had a lot of fun playing her but it was never a patch on what an actual dps class could throw out. And frankly, if I choose to play her as a dps caster with some emergency heals, there’s no reason for her to be so far behind. The price of versatility has been way too high for Archmages, and the same punishing ‘thou shalt not be as good as a dps’ does not seem to apply to the melee healers.

Survivability is going to be shot as long as Archmages are tall glowy elves who are easily picked out of the crowd. Only a disguise skill could help with that. Shamans absolutely do not have that issue, because they are short and look like Squig Herders.

Having to sacrifice dps or heals to be more survivable seems out of line with how the other healers play, but I’d expect my Archmage to be significantly more survivable even if it’s just over short periods if I’m asked to make that sacrifice. If it’s just a ‘bit’ more survivable then I don’t see the need to sacrifice anything.

I am on board with the notion that being able to excel at both healing and damage at the same time would put them out of whack. But the mission statement says ‘viable’ heals and damage and we don’t know what that means to Mythic. It does sound as though there is to be some penalty for versatility — they’ll not be quite as good as pure healers or pure dps.

But the raw numbers aren’t the end of the story. What I hope to see is better survivability for the AM via lifetaps. And maybe even a healing style that’s just a bit different from the Runepriest.

In Just 3 Stages, I can build you a new class

In any case, the revamp will take three stages.

  • 1.2.1 Minor tweaks, base adjustments to damage.
  • 1.3 Changing the Mastery Paths
  • 1.3.1 Changing the Mechanic

As I said, big sweeping changes. Whether or not it will even feel like the same class at the end, who knows?

And although I say minor tweaks, they are talking about a 25% increase in damage across the board to all abilities. That in itself is a large change and should make a big difference to how the classes play.

It is also a sad reflection on how far behind their damage really is, and how it has been left so long when a simple tweak like this could have fixed it.  I remember saying (with all the other Archmages) for some while that we needed more damage.

Mastery Changes

The current three mastery lines are heals/dps/debuffs.

The plan is to change this, to redistribute the buffs and debuffs and to end up with three mastery lines that are closer to: heals/ dps/ lifetaps

I had always thought that a lifetap was both a heal and a nuke (it’s a type of nuke that gives the caster some of the damage done back as health), but now you’ll have to choose which types of spells to specialise in. I predict that groups will not be overly excited to have a lifetap AM when they could have had a good healer or nuker, even though it’s probably the most fun spec to play.

The proposed mastery paths are currently in first draft form. It’s mostly the same spells as now, just shuffled around. The main thing I noted is that Cleansing Flare (the AE nuke/ knockback) makes an appearance at 5 points into Asuryan (ie. EVERYONE will take it) and Scatter the Winds (the heal debuff) is in the Asuryan tree also.

So Asuryan looks by far the strongest tree at the moment, it got assigned the strongest debuffs.

Vaul loses its identity as a debuffing tree and becomes a sort of lifetap tree instead, but gets the Shield of Saphery as well, and Law of Gold (the AE toughness reducing debuff). Those lifetaps would have to get very good indeed to get anyone to spec this over one of the other trees.

Isha looks in reasonable shape. It picks up Mistress of the Marsh (not a great debuff because of being ground targetted but it is an AE snare) and all the usual healing spells. Plus Isha AMs would be able to pick up Cleansing Flare as well. That would be a fun build to play.

And .. the Mechanic Revamp

This is pretty much a complete 180. Instead of your heals reducing the casting time of nukes and vice versa, your heals will increase the power of your heals. So there’s to be a meter which swings between max heal buffs and max damage buffs. Every time you heal it moves towards the max heal. Every time you nuke it moves towards max damage. And every time you cast some kind of lifetap/ debuff it moves towards the centre.

It should make it easier for the AM to play as a dedicated healer or nuker. To encourage players to use the mechanic, base heals/ damage would be reduced when this came in. With the idea that if you were maxed out on heals/damage it would be better than it is now, and if you weren’t it would be similar or worse.

The intention is very much that players NOT be able to switch quickly from heals to damage, at least not without losing some effectiveness. So this is looking quite similar to the LOTRO Runekeeper but without the emergency switching ability.

And this is the part of the change which is least set in stone. A complete mechanic revamp is very similar to making a new class.

Will it blend?

Don’t know. People who are interested will have to try it out and see how it goes. It’s clear that nuking AMs will lose the ability to throw an emergency instant heal.

It is also clear that Mythic worry far too much about appeasing other classes.

Question: Are you considering how these changes affect other classes and that it may make them obsolete? And if so, will you be altering these other classes in the same cycle to compensate?

Answer: In short we are most definitely considering this. We have no intention to Obsolete any other career in favor of a newly revamped one. That being said please keep in mind if we go with the more dramatic mechanic changes the AM/SH will likely have their base healing reduced. Giving many of the existing healers a good solid head start in burst or instantaneous healing.

You’re trying to fix a class that is notably behind the others. Do not start by saying that they’ll never  be allowed to do anything better if you want to encourage people to keep playing them.

Everyone wants to feel that they have a niche. Saying ‘We’ll revamp your class but please don’t worry everyone else, it’s never gonna be allowed to get too good,’ is not really encouraging. And like, maybe we’ll give you a bit more survivability but it probably won’t be as good as the other healers and you’ll have to sacrifice heals/damage to get it …. again, not really setting the world on fire.

Survivability in a PvP game should be baked into healers. If one class  has to sacrifice heals for survivability then they should be able to become a freaking cockroach on the battlefields every minute or so!

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15 Responses

  1. “but without the emergency switching ability.”

    I’m sure I read that they were considering some ability on a long cooldown that enabled a quick switch between the two. “were talking once a fight at most here” was, I think, what Adam G said.

    Anyway, you can read my poorly formed and confused thoughts on it here here

  2. Watching this with interest too, as AM turned out to be the class I played most.

    I had quite a lot of fun in beta with the AM, but somehow that seemed to get watered down ever more (not like they were damage machines to begin with!) as time went on. Last I played, it was a competent class but didn’t seem to do anything as well as (or better than) anyone else. Why be an easily-spotted AM when you can be a more-buffage, more easily hidden, generally better heals RP? Or a more-damage-dealing WP? Sadly, I don’t actually pick character classes that way (for min/maxing rather than for fun), which means I gradually lost interest in my AM as her fun and usefulness (in comparison to other classes) waned.

    So yeah. I may not be playing right now but I’m definitely watching this. Keep us posted!

    • I’m exactly the same!

      I still think it’s a really fun class to play. But they were so very nervous of making it a bit more powerful that it tilted a bit too far the other way. It’s not a broken class (to my mind) but I don’t think they were ever comfortable with the healing hybrid idea or where they thought it should be compared with the other classes.

      I’m not unhappy with the idea of a competent class that doesn’t do anything best, but the AM doesn’t work as a role switcher. It needs the dps/debuffs to support the healing and vice versa to give it style of its own.

      I am going to be curious about how these tweaks work out.

  3. If you break WAR’s combat down into three basic categories, you have DAMAGE, TANKING, and HEALING. You can have people damage, tank, and heal in different ways, but when you start combining roles, you must be careful or you’ll cause issues.

    I agree with Mythic in that these cross-over careers can’t be the best or even completely on par at any one aspect (damage, tanking, or healing) because their secondary skillset would make them too overpowered (e.g., WP).

    When you play a hybrid, you should play it for versatility/utility, not for it’s greatness in any one area. Jack of all trades, master of none. That is how Mythic needs to balance these careers or else everyone will play them.

    • Oh absolutely. You *cannot* make hybrid classes too powerful or nobody would ever play anything else. Why should they, when hybrid classes can be a lot more fun precisely *because* they let you (attempt to) play a variety of situational roles?

      Funny thing is I never really saw the AM as a hybrid — it never seemed to me like the AM damage was high enough to qualify even remotely. What I *did* like was that doing a little damage (as opposed to the RP “almost none”) gave those healers a bit more to do on the battlefield. I may not have contributed much in terms of DPS, but it was fun to have that option as a sort of side-skill.

      Then again I don’t have any metrics and for all I know AMs were pumping out way too much damage. But if they were, I certainly never saw it.

  4. I will wait and see on the new changes coming down the line. I like my AM, T1 was a bit hard, T2-T4 it got better. AMs are a class that can run around the back field healing. I am full Isha spec and have no real problem keeping everyone up but I dont pump out the healing a WP does. I do like the fact that i can solo exp just about anything short of heros most times. I would love to see some stronger heals. On the battle field I do find myself running up to Debuff/Damage a player at times. Most times I will try and sit back and keep the HoTs up and spot heal but it is just so hard when that Shammy or SH gets close lol, love to toss a silence and watch them get run over by a WL.

  5. So they’re turning the Shaman/Archmage into LOTRO’s Runekeeper? Bother. I liked the WAR design better. Although I’m not playing WAR right now, so maybe that says something.

  6. I like the sound of it – I played an Archmage back in beta and have levelled a Shaman up to Tier2 so far on release so I’m no expert on T4, but it sounds like a mechanic that works better. I like the instant switching but because of it the class is always going to be limited.

    You can’t have a class doing the DPS of a pure DPS class if it can turn around and heal like a pure healing class. Otherwise why bother with the pure DPS?

    This mechanic means your DPS can start to approach the pure DPS but since your heals are screwed up if you do you’re not an uber healer and uber nuker in one. The price you pay is having to switch.

    The scope of the changes is promising too for other classes – might finally get a mechanic worth writing home about for the Zealot/RP. (If you think an Archmage is bad, try a Zealot. A runepriest minus half his survivability and all his good ‘damage’ abilities tied to a buggy debuff ;). They’re good healers in T1… but it’s all downhill in T2-4)

    Not that RPs are all that great either, just better than a Zealot :p, having to gimp your group heal or your hots to get a good single target heal really doesn’t make sense. Being dwarves they get good survivability, which I guess is what puts them above the current AM in people’s eyes?

  7. […] Book of Grudges examines the “reloading” of the Archmage and Shaman careers in the next few patches. […]

  8. I am all for making classes viable and trying to make them somewhat balanced with other classes. These changes may very well be good for both classes, right now I don’t play WAR so I will have to way to read how things go.

    I just wish that Mythic had taken more time to release WAR so that such massive changes like this did not need to be made so soon after launch.

    • “I just wish that Mythic had taken more time to release WAR so that such massive changes like this did not need to be made so soon after launch.”

      On one hand I hear ya, but then again, its tough to really know until the games been played up the ranks a bit. Keep in mind Paladins were remade, and virtually remade again, since WoW has been out.

      Flip-side its a shame the missing tanks and mdps werent out initially so those classes and the AoE fest wouldn’t be quite so much out of hand right now. But still WAR is a very young game. I’d like to see a real mail server =b

      Good luck for you AMs, and (if its needed?) Shammies!

  9. My two cents on the proposed mechanism:

    Archmage/shaman mecanism is based on 2 pools giving bonus to healing (Tranquility) or damaging (Force) spells.

    At first this mecanism aimed to ensure a hybrid gameplaying rewarding player for doing both healing and damage.

    The Archmage/shaman class mecanism is tricky to define as it ask player to manage two role at once.

    Still based on the class mecanism the following choices seems available depending on a spell being cast:
    -Add/reduice Tranquility/Force from 1
    -Consume Tranquility/force back to 0
    -Do something Randomly
    -Switch Force Tranquility

    The proposed mecanism rewards players for casting the same spells again and again which is kind of ‘stupid’ as it rewards player for being Healbot and does not help player having spend point in the path of asuryan to fullfil their primary job (heal) while DPSing.

    Changing spell mastery to create a healing path (Isha), a DPS path (Asuryan) and a lifetap based path (Vaul) further increase discrepancy between the DPS and healing rôle.

    Hybridising the class goes with Hybridising the Masteries, example:
    – Isha mastery: long cast time heal (group/single) and instant dps
    – Asuryan mastery: instant/short heal and long cast time dps
    – Vaul mastery: lifetap spells

    Being specced Isha I can cast efficiently long cast time heal or cast instant dps. Between long cast time heal I can cast quick dps to raise efficiancy of my heals.

    Being specced Asuryan I can cast efficiantly quick cast HOT and heals, with long cast time dps in between to raise efficiancy of my heals.
    I can chain cast DPS spell in my mastery to raise efficiancy of spells wich are not in my mastery as well. By exemple 3 quick DOT then 1 good HOT if required.

    Regarding vaul spell they could take benefit from both Tranquility and Force with the side effect of randomly consuming them.

    Isha Spells: Isha’s Healing spells consume Force. Equilibirum is reset to 0.
    Asuryan Spells: Asuryan’s Offensive spells consume Tranquility. Equilibirum is reset to 0.
    Vaul Spells: Vaul leach Spells have a chance to consume either Force/Tranquility (50%? chance at Rank3). Between 1 and 3, stack further Tranquility/Force. At 0 increase randomly Tranquility or Force.

    The following is not a satisfying answer but it does help I guess to hybridize the class.
    * 3 Tranquility: 100% of Path 1 (Isha) | 150% of Path 2 (Asuryan) | 125% of Path 3 (Vaul)
    * 2 Tranquility: 100% of Path 1 (Isha) | 125% of Path 2 (Asuryan) | 110% of Path 3 (Vaul)
    * 1 Tranquility: 100% of Path 1 (Isha) | 110% of Path 2 (Asuryan) | 100% of Path 3 (Vaul)
    * 0 Neutral : 100% of Path 1 (Isha) | 100% of Path 2 (Asuryan) | 100% of Path 3 (Vaul)
    * 1 Force : 110% of Path 1 (Isha) | 100% of Path 2 (Asuryan) | 100% of Path 3 (Vaul)
    * 2 Force : 125% of Path 1 (Isha) | 100% of Path 2 (Asuryan) | 110% of Path 3 (Vaul)
    * 3 Force : 150% of Path 1 (Isha) | 100

  10. “You’re trying to fix a class that is notably behind the others”

    ever tried doing damage with a zealot/runepriest?

    ever tried them at all? I, as a runepriest, take this quote as an insult.

    ofcourse they have to take into consideration that if they buff AMs/Shamans to par with WPs/DoKs, they will render zealot/runepriest useless. What then? buff the zealots/runepriests aswell? the healing is almost too powerful as it is, and you will notice this more when the AOE nerf sets in, they should nerf WPs/DOKs if anything. whats this damage i hear? why did you choose a healingclass in the first place? ofcourse if you did the same amount of damage as a RDPS, but with heals and a rezz, why even bother playing RDPS?

    I have played a AM and the mechanic is poor i admit, but that doesnt mean that they need a buff, they just need a change. and i for one hope thats what mythic intends.

    gamling, k8p

  11. “The intention is very much that players NOT be able to switch quickly from heals to damage, at least not without losing some effectiveness.”

    That’s not true. What this means is that you COULD go from dedicated Nuker to dedicated Healer(if gear and spec allowed) but it would take about 10 seconds to go from one end of the mechanic to the other.
    While this is not what original concept of AM/SH(nukes and heals mixed together) i think it’ll work better.

    “As I said, big sweeping changes. Whether or not it will even feel like the same class at the end, who knows?”

    The thing is that the AM/SH don’t feel like anything right now. The mechanic plays such a little role that msot the time I find myself ignoring it, only focusing on it when i think i’ll need an insta rez. At least with the proposed mechanic we can use some sort of strategy.

  12. “you COULD go from dedicated Nuker to dedicated Healer(if gear and spec allowed) but it would take about 10 seconds to go from one end of the mechanic to the other.”

    What’s the use depending on spec you can be great healer or poor DPSer. Because at the end it’s your spec that will play the major role.
    If you choose to spec for DPS you will be heavily criticized by your group as poor healer and forced to spec Isha.

    What’s the use of hybridization if my spec is not hybrid

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