As the recent specializations update and subsequent balancing pass have shown, the necromancer still needs a lot of help. Over the course of May, I released six posts that comprehensively looked at the necromancer.
The Necromancer’s Curse
Part 1 of the series took an overview of what makes the necromancer the necromancer, and the various ways that they’re quite frankly underperforming compared to every other profession.
And at its core, the necromancer is currently identified by three things:
- A Tank Tendency
- Afflicted, but Not Crippled
Shrouded in Black and White
Part 2 turned its attention to the unique profession mechanic of the necromancer: death shroud. More specifically, the binary, extremely limiting choice that death shroud forces necromancers into.
Worse still, this is a choice that by construction the balance team has to force on necromancers, because death shroud lacks counterplay. The entire mechanic needs a redesign to give enemy players counterplay, and necromancers options.
The Dwarf and the Demon
Part 3 surprised me. I sought to draw parallels to the upcoming revenant, but ended up in a different direction. Revenant has focus, self-synergy, and a concept I’ve termed burst attrition. They hit hard, but only ever so often.
All things that the necromancer lacks, but should have. And it’s a core identity issue. Necromancer as it is implemented cannot have these positive characteristics. It needs a redesign from the ground up.
The Dance of (Self-Countering) Death
Part 4 began my look at each of the three game modes that necromancers see play, starting with structured PvP. Because of the various woes of the profession’s structure, necromancers lack both skillful play and counterplay.
Ironically, this is a result of design decisions meant to reinforce the necromancer’s core identity. Design decisions that in practice mean that necromancers must completely outclass their enemies to win.
To offer a way around these decisions, I suggested recrafting death shroud around the break bar mechanic to reinforce the necromancer identity as a tanky opponent who must be either locked down, or burst down, but actually has the tools to still be effective in the face of competent players.
Part 5 is a look at the clear loser for necromancers: PvE. Everything unique a necromancer brings to the fight isn’t needed, and what they have in common they do worse than every other profession.
But unlike the core balance problems in PvP, the solution does not lie in recrafting their mechanics (though that would doubtless help). Necromancers (and all other professions) need unique mechanical encounters that require more than simply damage.
At Home in War
Part 6 should be a triumphant win for the necromancer, because they are gods in WvW. Necromancers are the staple of zergs and single roaming everywhere.
But that staple status is very tenuous because either the weaknesses of the profession need to be built around by the team (almost to the exception of all else), or the dynamic way fights develop across the borderlands can null their advantage immediately.
Even in their best mode, necromancers are on the edge of irrelevance.
This Should Not Be The End
In the process of writing these posts, I came to several conclusions, stated above. But to conclude further on them (Concluception), here’s my condensed list of what the necromancer needs:
- Recrafting design decisions to retain the core identity of the profession, but built better
- Death Shroud needs more options, and more counterplay
- A from-scratch approach to skills and traits
- Creating skillful play and counterplay for the profession as a whole (e.g., adding a break bar to Death Shroud)
- Crafting more varied encounters that can play to a necromancer’s unique strengths (and also other professions’)
- Not using the profession’s position in the WvW meta as a reason that other changes aren’t necessary
Having one profession condemned to irrelevance purely because of a broken foundation is not okay. If it can’t be fixed with the current setup of the profession, then Question Everything should go into full effect and a foundation that can be fixed should be put in place.
This should not be the end of the necromancer, where it is stuck being crud forever. It’s time to look critically at all of the problems, and generate a solution that in time can bring it up to the same standard as the other 7 (soon to be 8).