Zen Balance 2: Electric Boogaloo

PynA3So the balance change discussion is now reality with Update 28 Patch 1.

I suspected that none of my ranged characters should take a hit from this. In fact, I thought most should get a boost.

In case you’re a too-long didn’t read kind of person (not likely since you’re coming here to listen to me), here’s the change in a nutshell:

Both Manyshot and Ten Thousand Stars become feats to give brief bonuses to Doubleshot and Ranged Power. There’s no longer any Doubleshot penalties naturally for this reason. Rather than animating a flurry of arrows, your Doubleshot represents additional hits but also more powerful missile hits.

Manyshot = Current Doubleshot + (BAB * 4) with Current Ranged Power + (BAB *4).

Ten Thousand Stars is now aligned to your Monk level and WIS score. TTS Doubleshot = Current Doubleshot + (WIS) with (Monk level * 5) + Current Ranged Power.

So let’s show what I get with this new scheme through pictures. All characters are using Shiradi Champion level 5 and are level 28 unless noted. Weapon types here are less important than any spells, feats, enhancements or ED abilities that improve their BAB, Doubleshot, Ranged Power and WIS.

(Note: I am not strong in HTML and can’t easily correct the headers of the characters slamming against each other below. My apologies if it’s harder to read.)

Szyncletica

Build: Drow Shuricannon (Ninja Spy Monk 28)

Uses: Ten Thousand Stars only. WIS 36 (Ocean Stance)

Before: Doubleshot: 2%, Ranged Power: 54

After: Doubleshot: 102%, Ranged Power: 90

SzynB1

SzynB2SzynA1SzynA2

 

 

 

Artemistika

Build: Elf Deepwood Stalker (Ranger Level 28)

Uses: Manyshot only. BAB 24

Before: Doubleshot: 35%, Ranged Power 73

After: Doubleshot: 131%, Ranged Power 193

MistyB1MistyB2MistyA1MistyA2

 

 

Pynthetica

Build: Elf Zen Archer (Ninja Spy Monk Level 23, Shiradi 4)

Uses:

  • Manyshot, BAB 22
  • Ten Thousand Stars, WIS 39

Before: Doubleshot: 10%, Ranged Power 68

With TTS: Doubleshot: 110%, Ranged Power 122

With Manyshot: Doubleshot: 98%, Ranged Power 144

PynB1PynB2PynA1PynA2PynA3

PynA4

The Outcome

The numbers aren’t as telling as performance, and this varies because of the difference in weapons with the shuriken and bows. All of them blow the training dummy into sawdust in seconds with any of these modes.

Misty’s Manyshot, mostly because the Doubleshot effect adds an additional shot when over 100% now, combined with her high Ranged Power, definitely hasn’t lost the overall effectiveness to me. She holds the highest Doubleshot and Ranged Power scores, which is natural and expected for a Ranger. I would cry out “nerf!” myself if this weren’t the case as the Ranger is the natural archer class. In short, I’m seeing similar effects to the multi-arrow effect of the old Manyshot but with more damage per arrow. The best news here is that the power of Manyshot has greater control to the player. Increase your Doubleshot and/or Ranged Power elsewhere, and the damage increases. In fact, with Killer working, Doubleshot goes up further by 20% with Misty, so her true Doubleshot would be 151% as things die.

Szyncletica’s shuriken performance is weaker because she’s yet to add any significant standing Doubleshot gear. Unlike Pynthetica and Misty, Szyn also gains no additional Ranged Power outside of Shiradi and Epic levels. That said, being a full Monk with a decent WIS gives a reliable TTS performance, although weakest of the three as far as the numbers show. This is due in part because a Shiradi Shuricannon is already a multi-shotting thrower because of the combined effects of Shuriken Expertise and Ninja Spy’s Advanced Ninja Training, both of which add a chance to throw an additional shuriken per attack. Thus, the game squeezes in more stars per attack in addition to what Szyn already throws, and the animation shows that.

It’s Pynthetica that’s pleasantly surprising. My Zen Archer build shows its muster without full training in Shiradi and with four Epic levels (and its corresponding Ranged Power bonuses) yet to go. Pyn’s standing RP is higher than Misty’s RP at level 28. While Misty’s Doubleshot is best (she has the Epic Destiny feat of Doubleshot as well), Pyn comes in a strong second with TTS alone at 110%.(Pyn’s Elf enhancement with a ship buff gives 5% and she pulled a Dynamistic Quiver to get another 5%). Her Manyshot bonuses to RP were respectable as well at 144.

So, Pyn’s extra RP from Harper Agent helps. Being a full Monk helps, too, and Pyn has more damage to come. She used the revised feats in a Shroud run that night, and wasn’t displeased at all.

As I said in an earlier post, only the change in TTS is a nerf to splash builds like monkchers, since only 2 Monk levels or a lower WIS won’t give a lot of Ranged Power or Doubleshot boost. It should be interesting to see how those builds are revised.

In other news from this patch: I’m looking forward to the new Halloween event, which previews live for an in-game load test for us all today (10/23). I’m also digging the cleaner, more responsive look of the DDO Store. Nice work, devs.

Quick Thoughts on the Balance Changes

scalesProducer Severlin announced some expected changes to game balance in a future update.

While much of it doesn’t affect my favorite class, a few changes will adjust how Monks fight.

The first change is the removal of Melee Power from all Two Weapon Fighting feats. Sev and Team believes they build too much DPS based on their standard for DPS, the Swashbuckler. With a few TWF ninjas under my belt, I’m unsure of this. But then, the changes reflect adjustments that are larger in scope than my experience and skill.

The Keen weapon property is being adjusted to be stronger on some weapons than others. The list of weapons given a +3 bonus to critical threat range seem, to me, weapons that aren’t used as often as they could be: Kukris (love ’em), rapiers, falchions and scimitars. This doesn’t change my current +1 to my shortswords. Clearly this encourages more use of those weapons. Improved Critical also gains similar changes.

Now the meaty stuff. Manyshot is being revised. Rather than multiple shots for 20 seconds, Manyshot damage is calculated as Base Attack Bonus (times 4) to both your Doubleshot and Ranged Power levels. It still shares a 30 second cooldown with Ten Thousand Stars. This clearly forces the monkcher builds to retool, and I don’t think I mind that.

Likewise, Ten Thousand Stars adds your Wisdom score to Ranged Power and then adds your Monk level * 5 to your Doubleshot. This one I like as it clearly forces more Monk levels to use a Monk-designed feat. This, again, throws the monkcher idea under the bus again since only 2 Monk levels just won’t make TTS effective. For my all-Monk level Zen Archer, however, this REALLY brings the AD&D concept of WIS into play with Monks and bows and means TTS may deliver more damage than Manyshot, encouraging me to use that feat slot for something else.

Doubleshot values over 100% now have a chance to create an additional attack. I don’t know how I could take advantage of this myself, but it’s something to look into. I’m happy to get 35% sustained Doubleshot on my first complete Zen Archer.

The thread is full of sass and cuss. It’s worth a read. I haven’t read it since the first, so there may be changes since then. How does these and other changes affect your build?

I’m really thinking how this can make my Zen Archer a greater powerhouse.

 

Invaders! A Video Walkthrough

Current Score: Ninja 3, Beholders: 0.

Current Score: Ninja 3, Beholders: 0.

Sorry for the 2-week+ timing between posts. Per my guild rules, real life comes first. Work, as well as a family illness, has made the past weeks pretty tough to post anything of significance.

I’m surprised I’ve not made a video walkthrough of one of the most challenging Heroic quests in the game. That’s probably because it’s a bat-shit crazy idea for any class to complete, much less complete by going solo.

But if they were any character that could make it work in my dojo, it’s Kiricletica, built to solo from the start.

Invaders!” is a revisit to the central Waterworks sewer system (minus the hidden doors, rare encounters and usual denizens). A Xoriat invasion occurs there, cutting off paths through the sewers, scaring the crap out of the kobolds and, most distressingly, causing many, many beholders to appear.

Flesh Renders and Polar-Ray zapping Ice Flensers routinely spawn from portals throughout the place. Beholders aren’t isolated, often guarded by Xoriat followers, Cyclonic-blasting Thaarak Hounds and more beholders.

Your mission is to clean out the place of everything that shouldn’t be there, of course, primarily the beholders.

Challenges

  1. This is a place where a grouped party may not be the best idea. A beholder’s antimagic cone will likely render some in your party defenseless and debuffed before it starts zapping with various things. Enervation. Disintegrate. Telekinesis. It will try to paralyze, curse, burn and instantly kill you. A group will draw a lot of attention, so as a result, the beholder’s effects may not allow you to back each other up as you’re disabled and picked off.
  2. Death Ward is mostly useless here because the first thing a beholder will do is use its antimagic cone to zap you of any buffs (outside of Monk, Bard and airship buffs, which can’t be dispelled). You MUST wear a Deathblock item to have some protection against Finger of Death and a few other instant-kill spells. Deathblock isn’t a panacea but it will buy you time. Pale Masters might find it a bit easier.
  3. If the beholders aren’t scary enough, the respawning Ice Flensers love Polar Ray, which can hit at 100-200+ damage. There’s also the hordes of Thaarak Hounds that enjoy mass hits of Cyclonic Blast at 70+ points each, as well as some instant-death and acid attacks.
  4. Most parties will trod along drawing attention from anything that moves, often near respawn points. Invisibility spells are useless against beholders and many other enemies here as they have True Seeing or See Invisibility. Antimagic effects will debuff them off of you, anyway.
  5. To increase the randomness, there are many Chaos Orbs circulating about, sometimes bringing you benefit or bane at exactly the wrong time.
  6. There is only one rest and resurrection shrine.
  7. Party members with low saves, little or no spell protection or Deathblock will not last long. Especially vulnerable are party members with a HULK SMASH zerging mentality. They may get lucky and nail a few threatening things, but eventually they’ll be in the wrong place and be zapped themselves or attract more attention that a party can handle.
  8. You have to pass a lot of enemies, including several beholders, to reach each of the elder beholders that hold open a locus used for invasion.
  9. Enemies do not easily “rubberband” here (return to their spawn point if kited too far). If you’re being chased, expect the chase to buy you time, not escape.

Suggestions

  1. It’s not impossible for magic party members to fight here against beholders, but it’s central that another party member draw the beholder’s attention first, preferably far away from the spell caster so they won’t get hit by an antimagic cone. From there, spell casters can treat beholders to a taste of their own medicine with instant-death spells, Flesh-to-Stone or related attacks.
  2. Ranged attacks against beholders here can be both hit and miss, so to speak. If your ranged attack can draw one beholder away from a group of them, you reduce the amount of potential damage or deaths in your party. If your ranged attacks throw off area-of-effect damage, you’ll draw all the enemies in that group to you.
  3. Attacks that stun or paralyze help a lot. For all their magic damage, beholders have the fortitude of a balloon. If you get the jump on them, removing them is comparably easy.
  4. This quest supports the power of high stealth, if you use it properly. (Invisibility will not work.)  Sewer passageways are narrow. Ice Flensers use Hide. You need a strong Spot to detect them, or at least avoid colliding into them. Some enemies may detect you while Sneaking, such as Thaarak Hounds, so you may need to draw them away to avoid fighting more than need to at any moment. Beholders have 360-degree Spot, but with a high Hide score, you can move to point-blank range and pop them. However, Thaarak Hounds have blindsense, which stealth can’t defeat. Their Cyclonic Blasts in a group of hounds can whittle your HP immediately and/or knock you down. Dispatch them promptly.
  5. Spell absorption items will buy you time. I carried a Scarab of Spell Absorption but didn’t use it as wisely as I should.
  6. Champions that appear really throw the dungeon’s power against you. Prioritize their demise over all others.
  7. The final fight is your only named creature, which can be one of several encounters. It’ll likely have a final entourage of similar enemies guarding it. Before you can fight it, you must remove all the elder beholders.
  8. The optional killing of outsiders objective is almost inevitable to complete. Portals throughout continually spawn enemies you can kill.

Sewer Cleaning from Hell

Kiricletica was loaded with Heal and Restoration scrolls. Alone, she leveraged high passive ki regeneration and used Quivering Palm to rid herself quickly of some targets. Sometimes with a Tiefling Assassin’s Blade in hand, she used its Wounding powers to make sure that Pain Touch finishers stick against beholders, muting them and making them harmless for a quick finish. Most fights, however, used a Metalline of Pure Good shortsword or a Forester’s Brush Hook. I used Pain Touch and Quivering Palm as much as possible.

Fast ki regeneration helps in frequent use of Shadow Veil for both Incorporeality and Invisibility for times where fighting or evasive action is better.

The hardest part for me involves the respawning renders, especially the deadly Polar Rays from the Flensers. Hounds are also challenging since they can sense me no matter what. They loved to spam Cyclonic Blast. In a group of three or move, those attacks would all but kill me.

I entered two levels higher than the quest. Still, I tried and failed this quest three times early, often downed by hounds, before managing a completion on Elite…and even then, I had to use a raise-dead cake when I moved into a fight before failing to preparing even once, just before the end-fight.

But I did get it done. See the results.

Be sure to click the “CC” button to see the captions. My apologies for the dimness; I’ve already adjusted it to improve it slightly and will do so again later.