Tag Archives: necromancer

One Step From Death: This Should Not Be the End

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:

  1. Attrition
  2. A Tank Tendency
  3. 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.

Designed Inefficiency

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:

  1. Recrafting design decisions to retain the core identity of the profession, but built better
  2. Death Shroud needs more options, and more counterplay
  3. A from-scratch approach to skills and traits
  4. Creating skillful play and counterplay for the profession as a whole (e.g., adding a break bar to Death Shroud)
  5. Crafting more varied encounters that can play to a necromancer’s unique strengths (and also other professions’)
  6. 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).

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One Step From Death: At Home in War (Part 6)

So far, I’ve looked at the game modes where necromancer is countered, suboptimal, and ultimately marginalized, namely PvP and PvE. But no discussion of necromancers in Guild Wars 2 is complete without looking at the mode where they run the meta: World vs. World.

Continue reading One Step From Death: At Home in War (Part 6)

One Step From Death: The Dance of (Self-Countering) Death (Part 4)

To conclude my series on necromancer, I am going to look at each of the game modes and the necromancer’s place within them. First off is sPvP.

Necromancers are immobile, lacking stability and reliant on being ignored in fights to do any appreciable damage. Their stunbreaks are few, their means for avoiding damage limited to manual positioning and dodge rolls.

All of these negative consequences are the result of a poorly-executed attempt to create both skillful play on the part of the necromancer, and counterplay for those against her.

Continue reading One Step From Death: The Dance of (Self-Countering) Death (Part 4)

One Step from Death: The Dwarf and the Demon (Part 3)

After looking at all the problems necromancer has, including its core weakness, ironically, of Death Shroud itself, now I’m going to look at the suitor seeking to steal the hearts of necromancer mains everywhere: the revenant.

Continue reading One Step from Death: The Dwarf and the Demon (Part 3)

One Step from Death: Shrouded in Black and White (Part 2)

A few days ago, I said that I was outlining all the problems with necromancer, then proposing solutions in followup posts. I unintentionally lied.

Continue reading One Step from Death: Shrouded in Black and White (Part 2)

One Step from Death: The Necromancer’s Curse (Part 1)

During last week’s Ready Up, all of the trait changes currently in testing were gone over, in what I dare to say is the most transparent ArenaNet has ever been about information in development. Kudos on it, but one positive action does not a trend make.

Part of those trait changes was a look at the rather disappointing results of the necromancer changes (livestream notes here, includes pictures of the traits). Where other professions had terrible traits replaced with intriguing ones, or popular builds retained or even strengthened, the necromancer had practically no change.

And no change is the last thing the necromancer needs as a profession. They’re just one step above pariah status in PvE (yay, Triple Trouble?) and one step below worth taking in high-level sPvP (and far tougher to play due to its mobility/stability weaknesses). The only place they “belong” is in WvW, where the strength of wells and marks isn’t as neatly sidestepped as in sPvP, and boonstripping and chill are ridiculously powerful compared to PvE’s lack of need for both.

As I started looking into the necromancer’s problems and potential fixes, I realized that the profession as a whole is in a serious pickle. It’s stuck between its unique mechanics, the overall intent of the profession, and how much it doesn’t have in common with the other seven (soon to be eight) professions in the game.

Further, solving the core problems depends on what assumptions I make. There’s a bunch of unknowns in the necromancer equation, and without filling in some assumed values there’s no way I can solve them.

So in a break from my normal approach of problem/analysis/solution, I am going to be writing a post series about necromancer. Today, I will go into its problems, the core issue summed up in a single phrase: attrition is the mission.

Disclaimer: I am a necromancer main. My intent is not to make the necromancer godly powerful in all contexts forever and for always, and I seek to use my experience with the profession to analyze deep down what the problems are. If I sound biased, call me on it. Also, for illustration purposes I’m hijacking both of my necromancers (Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2) over the course of this post series.

Continue reading One Step from Death: The Necromancer’s Curse (Part 1)