This article of The Scrying Pool looks at how some skills cover too much ground.
In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, be that lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.
Skills are the basis of any MMO. I have talked about the expansion of utility skills within Guild Wars 2 on a couple of occasions. In The Scrying Pool: No Expansion!? I delved into the foundation for adding more utilities could work and in The Scrying Pool: Second Class I postulated a system to bring secondary professions back into Guild Wars.
This week I will go into something a little different about skills. Instead of looking at how skills can be expanded, I’m going to look at how some of the current abilities tied to skills should be balanced. What I will focus on is what I like to refer to as Blanket Abilities.
What are Blanket Abilities (BAs)? Much like a blanket can be used to cover items, BAs are skills that cover a wide range of conditions. The most prominent of these are the boon Stability and most condition removal skills.
In a few the recent balance patches, engineer had some changes to a few elixirs to make them less random. Instead of applying one of three or four possible effects, they now will either apply one of two possible effects or have been refined into always performing a single ability. This was to make the skills more tactical instead of rolling the dice.
BAs are not quite as random, but they do field some of that same rolling the dice or lack of tactical usage. If I have five conditions on me and I pop my skill that removes three conditions, there is probably some hope that it removes the more hurtful conditions. Imagine if you had 20 stacks of bleeding and your condition removal took care of your blind instead.
What I would like to see is a more tactical implementation of condition removal. Instead of skills that remove three random conditions, have skills that remove three predefined conditions. Looking down the list of conditions, there appears to be a pretty definitive split between offensive and controlling conditions. Maybe conditional removals could come in similar splits.
The only class that breaks away from blanket condition removal is thief, which already has this offensive vs controlling option in place. Out of the three healing skills available to thieves, two include condition removal. Hide in Shadows will cure the player of burning, poison and bleeding while Withdraw will cure immobilized, chilled and crippled. Hide in Shadows removes offensive conditions and Withdraw removes the controlling conditions.
Switching away from BAs will definitely limit a player’s ability to adapt to situations since it limits how many conditions can be affected by a single skill. While this is certainly a negative, it would add more prominence to a player’s build. If I’m set up to be very mobile, I would want to include Withdraw on my bar so that my mobility isn’t being hampered. Then if I’m a more bunker build, the offensive conditions would do more damage than the controlling ones.
Removing a condition BA off single skills would expand the use of other condition removal skills. If I take Hide in Shadows for offensive condition removal but am still worried about control conditions, then taking the utility skill Shadowstep would be useful to work with control conditions. Now I’m not popping my condition removal hoping it takes off what I don’t want, I am popping a skill that I know will remove what needs to be removed at that moment.
This would also allow more skill expansion for diversifying builds. Imagine the number of skills that include condition removal and double that, one for offensive and another for control. This doesn’t mean a ton of new skills designed for each half of the condition spectrum, but could allow for some current skills to earn a little more worth. The thief skill Haste, for example, could include control removal to get rid of immobilized, chilled and crippled to match the theme of the skill.