Tanking

The tale of the siblings Althea and Shea https://www.winterwolves.com/seasonsofthewolf.htm
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yayswords
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Tanking

Post by yayswords » Thu Oct 09, 2014 5:24 am

The traditional role of a tank in an RPG is twofold. Draw the enemy's attention from your allies, and endure said attention well. Let's talk about how that actually works out in SotW. I think it's too messed up for Jack to want to throw everything around to fix it, but who knows, I will describe the problem at least.

Protecting the back row is trivial
All I have to do is keep up Guard on all three and they will take no damage whatsoever. In fact, when I play four-man, we take pretty much no damage at all. There's just the first wave of actions from the enemy before I can possibly put up Guard on everyone. Now this isn't only about the fact I can Guard them from all attacks in the game but also that my ranger takes no damage from those. More about that later, but let's just say that over the course of a full battle with this party, most of the damage we take comes from Dark Empathy.

Protecting the front row is nigh impossible
I tested this on the crabs a bit. Yes animal experiments, but I promise it was very humane... anyway. There are many problems with trying to protect the front row, and the primary one is that the enemy is well, the enemy is smart. It doesn't want to hit a target it can't hurt much. Now I've seen in the AI log that it also takes into consideration how wounded the target is, so I tried leaving my ranger on low health while overhealing the other two. It worked on occasion, but quite frankly it would have been less effort to just play normally and outheal the damage the other two took than to do this. When I finally got the crabs' attention, I put up Invincible and they ignored me again. I managed to get it again later, but then I was so low they just killed me.

I didn't actually check respective aggro but it's my understanding that aggro has a rather marginalized role now, used as a tiebreaker mostly.

Anyway, the other problem is row nukes, so that even if I have aggro it doesn't matter because they are gonna hit all three anyway. This problem I can think of a solution for if we can solve the first. Change the row nukes so that they have a primary target to which they deal additional damage. That way it will matter who their actual target is. It could also be primary target + adjacent rather than primary target + row so that you can reduce damage taken to your front row by putting your tank in the top or bottom slots but that's not so important.

The sheer abundance of these row nukes, combined with the enemy preference to hit the squishiest guy, means I avoid using the front row as much as possible. In act 1 it's always only one guy (yes that means Vaelis or ranger in the back row) in the front row except for a few encounters, in act 2 until I get Krimm it's only one guy in the front row. You could say this is just an advanced player's proper response to game mechanics though.

One way to let me pseudo-protect the front row would be to add Amukiki's ability to increase the defense of his row. I suggested that in place of Invincible, but it could also replace say Hawk Eye... who takes that anyway.

My tank is immortal
Enduring enemy attention well is an understatement. With Phantom Form + Defend + Bramble Coat (I don't usually add BC but I wanted to see how high I could get) on my well equipped ranger I have 750+ defense. It's just block block block block block block block block block. Spells stand very little chance too. And all I really need to achieve this immortality is Riley. Phantom Form and Energize combine into ambrosia; invulnerable and inexhaustible. And then there's room for two more people in the back row to do whatever they want behind the safety of this twenty inch mithril wall.

A Phantom Form nerf would not be uncalled for here. I wouldn't want to hurt the actual effect of it though, because until my tank ranger experiment it saw very legitimate uses. If a front rower was hurting and it was Riley's turn, I'd put up Phantom Form on them and they'd stand a good chance of staying alive until it was a healer's turn. But spamming it on my ranger is not quite a legitimate use, so perhaps increasing the cost would be a good change (although that might hurt his flashback quest). I even regret taking Bramble Coat and Ward as it stands now, there's no need to use them since nobody can hit me anyway.

If my tank wasn't immortal, it would feel more okay to 3x Guard the back row.
If at first try it doesn't explode, it ain't Jack who wrote the code.

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jack1974
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Re: Tanking

Post by jack1974 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 5:57 am

I think probably the easiest solution would be the impossibility to guard 3 characters at once. Each tank should be able to protect maximum 1 character. I'll probably try to see if is a simple change to do, and do it in the next update :)

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jack1974
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Re: Tanking

Post by jack1974 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:01 am

So I've implemented the change and must say it feels more realistic. It might not solve the "invincible ranger" yet, but was strange that Krimm could protect 3 characters at once. As big as she is, she has only two hands :lol:
Next step is add to the AI some dispel magic that they'll use more often if tank is buffed with certain skills, for example phantom form or bramblecoat :wink:

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yayswords
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Re: Tanking

Post by yayswords » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:19 am

While I'm not against those changes per se, there are two concerns. The first is I was hoping to spark a discussion, not immediate changes. The second is that if you make the Guard change but nothing else (the dispel thing doesn't really matter after that), my ranger will not really have much of a place (as a tank anyway) in a six man party. Nobody will want to hit her; only row nukes and attacks aimed at her guarded target will do so. Sure, that guarded target will have one helluva protector, but the other four will be exposed.

It solves the immortal back row problem, but does nothing for the front row. If, on the other hand, you added the Amukiki ability, and I had Krimm + Vaelis defend the back row as well, I would be having a tankier lineup for including the ranger, without anyone being an invincible damage magnet: The tank's presence would make the group take less damage, which in the end is their job.
If at first try it doesn't explode, it ain't Jack who wrote the code.

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jack1974
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Re: Tanking

Post by jack1974 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:28 am

I have added the guard limit+dispel and it works really well (battles were more fun and unpredictable). I can swap the Invincible skill with the Amukiki ability, I don't want to change much now, but in this case the skill is already done so I only need to swap and is a very simple change. I think makes sense to do that.

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yayswords
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Re: Tanking

Post by yayswords » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:42 am

I'll drink to that. Well, I'll, uh... let fabulaparva drink twice to it.

Anyway I hope to see some discussion here! I almost posted this on the Loren 2 forum as a "lost cause to learn from" but I guess it's not a lost cause, still doesn't mean we can't talk about it, both what we can do about SotW tanking and how we can make it awesome in Loren 2.
If at first try it doesn't explode, it ain't Jack who wrote the code.

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jack1974
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Re: Tanking

Post by jack1974 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:52 am

Since I need to go now, I think will upload the version with the changes. Battles now seems more fun/interesting with them, and the effort to equip a ranger with a shield is well rewarded. I think that 30% Defense bonus might be even too much, so might reduce that (or the duration, or make the skill cost more).
To be honest even Vaelis Rally skill seems a bit overpowered... :twisted:

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Re: Tanking

Post by Troyen » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:29 am

jack1974 wrote:I think probably the easiest solution would be the impossibility to guard 3 characters at once. Each tank should be able to protect maximum 1 character. I'll probably try to see if is a simple change to do, and do it in the next update :)
Can you impose that limit on the AI too? It's really cheap to have one guard protecting everyone in the back row. (Prevent them from casting guard if they already have a guarded target.)

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yayswords
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Re: Tanking

Post by yayswords » Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:30 am

Troyen wrote:Can you impose that limit on the AI too? It's really cheap to have one guard protecting everyone in the back row. (Prevent them from casting guard if they already have a guarded target.)
I'm not sure he didn't already do something about it actually. I brought two back row mobs low to test but the AI only bothered to guard one of them, despite having two units who could guard. So might be an A.I. hiccup...

Have to say so far these changes feel so right though.
If at first try it doesn't explode, it ain't Jack who wrote the code.

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fabulaparva
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Re: Tanking

Post by fabulaparva » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:18 am

jack1974 wrote: To be honest even Vaelis Rally skill seems a bit overpowered... :twisted:
:( nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! (think of acts 1 & early act 2!!!)

Anyway.. I gave up trying to even have a tank in this game already some time ago. This has a lot to do with my playstyle, but also with the fact described in the first post that I couldn't get a proper protection for the front row. I tried those shields and I tried the Invincible-skill and all I ended up with was losing serious attack power and my front-row dead/heavily injured anyway. And my patience for regen dancing is limited. After Act 1 and a couple of fights in acts 2 and 3, Vaelis' skills are wasted with a shield. Also, during the first act(s), I want to stagger those backrow guys with more powerful strikethrough rather than try to shell-up. Plus, if a frontrowguy staggers, then 2H-sweep will bring the backrowguy to the front (unless you kill the frontrow guy)... so I rather invest to 2H or Crosscut ranger. Invincible worked wonders against the giant spider, by the way, which got me really excited about it, but then a bit later I was soooo dead facing Mormont. :P Also, during act2, I would have my invincible ranger doing just fine, but nobody wanted to hit him...the mobsters killed my other party and too often I was left with a tank hitting baby swats at 6 enemies standing.... you know how that ended...

I was planning to try another Invincible ranger/hunter-build once I've played around enough in act 3 with my current build, but now that the skill is gone... :P Oh well, we'll see. I'll probably still use my ranger more like a sacrificial lamb & push button (taunt + bramble coat + sweeping strike + reasonable points to skill & attack) than a tank.

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