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Shadow/Assassin Tanks in 2.5 (attn Combat Team)

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Shadow/Assassin Tanks in 2.5 (attn Combat Team)

KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
10.11.2013 , 04:52 PM | #1
Update: Some of the earlier numbers used to build this post were flawed in that they slightly exaggerated the balance disparity. The numbers have been updated, as have the balance recommendations. The overall conclusion remains the same. tl;dr: buff guardians; nerf shadows (in 2.5).

I main a shadow tank, and I have done so since launch. I have stuck with the class in top-tier PvE through nerfs, buffs, rebalances, community scorn, community praise, and so on. Like many of you, I haven't exactly enjoyed being globalled by boss mechanics like Terminate (before the adjustment) or Voltaic Slash. And like nearly all of you, I'm looking forward to the changes in 2.5.

Here's the problem though: shadow/assassin tanks will be categorically overpowered in 2.5. If the changes proposed by Bioware go live, there will be absolutely no reason to bring any other tank to serious progression content. That's how significant the disparity will be. Observe, the power of the graph!

http://i.imgur.com/bbaSSTi.png

What this graph is showing is relative tank balance in two instances: Dread Fortress (left) and Dread Palace (right). For each tank, an optimal stat allocation is chosen out of a budget of 2800 (roughly: full Dread Forged). Kell Dragon armorings are used because I didn't feel like computing the Dread Forged armor ratings (it doesn't make a noticeable difference). From there, I computed the average survivability percentages for each tank, taking into account all buffs, self-heals, procs and external hidden mechanics like basic attack accuracy debuffs (e.g. any boss attack which says "Ranged Attack" has only 90% accuracy). Then, for each instance, I used the tank with the best mitigation as a baseline and graphed all tanks as a percentage of the best.

In other words, this graph shows that in 2.5, shadows/assassins will be the best tanks by far in terms of least damage taken. There is simply no contest. The nearest contenders are vanguards/powertechs, which still take almost 3% more damage than shadows/assassins in Dread Fortress and almost 5% more in Dread Palace. Guardians/Juggernauts are in even worse shape, falling behind shadows/assassins by almost 10% in Dread Palace.

This is a very significant balance disparity. It can be justified to an extent in the current metagame, since shadows/assassins represent a significant liability due to spikiness. However, post-2.5 shadows/assassins will be no spikier than guardians/juggernauts, will have a suite of cooldowns that are almost as powerful, and will take dramatically less damage overall. Something needs to give!

Ideally, I think Guardians/Juggernauts should be buffed, and by quite a bit. Playing around with the numbers, I experimented with giving guardians a 5% bonus to shield and a 15% bonus to absorb. That was enough to bring them exactly even with vanguards (slightly behind on DF, and slightly ahead on DP). This should also give you an idea of just how far behind guardians/juggernauts are today.

Unfortunately, even this drastic change is not enough to balance things out. Guardians and Vanguards end up pretty even, but Shadows are still the clear victor (especially in DP). In order to bring things back within 3-5%, relatively speaking, we need to also nerf Shadows, and quite significantly. We have to be a bit careful about what we nerf though, to avoid setting up a situation where shadows are once again too spiky to be viable.

To that end, I think the reduction that is called for is in the proposed new Elusiveness/Swelling Shadows talent. As stated in the shadow answers, Bioware intends to make this a talent which increases the armor rating bonus from Combat Technique / Dark Charge by 20% per rank (40% overall). I would propose that this talent should increase armor rating by just 10% per rank, or 20% overall. This is a clear nerf to shadow/assassin survivability and a slight increase to spikiness. However, it brings tank survivability to within about 2% of each other. Shadows/Assassins are still slightly ahead in terms of overall survivability, but they are back to being the spikiest tanks by a slight margin, which I think is a fair margin for balance wiggle.

All in all, the changes would be as follows:
  • Talents high in the Defense/Immortal trees which increase shield chance by 5% and absorb percentage by 15% (up from 0% in both)
  • Elusiveness/Swelling Shadows increases armor rating by 10%/20% (down from the provisional 20%/40%)

These changes would bring the tanks to within a very narrow margin in terms of heals required, while still preserving the unique feel of each class both for the player and for the healers. It would also give Guardians/Juggernauts a much-needed buff in the area of force/tech survivability, which is currently their achilles heel (due to a significant focus on defense). For reference, here is what the tanks would look like if these changes were implemented:

http://i.imgur.com/lMitDkA.png

Overall, I'd really like to nip this situation in the bud. If the changes proposed by Bioware go live for 2.5 unmodified without any other adjustments to guardians/juggernauts, the tank classes will be even less balanced than they are today. I don't want shadows/assassins to be overpowered in every respect; I want top-tier raid groups to feel like they can bring any of the three tanks without disadvantaging themselves in any measurable way. Hopefully, Bioware will take a holistic look at tank balance, rather than simply fixing the issues currently faced by shadows/assassins and calling it a day.

All of the math to support this can be found on my tanking stats optimization post.

(note: shadows/assassins of today are still indisputably problematic due to spikiness; that problem is completely removed in 2.5, which is a fix that we don't want to destroy)
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Dilettante on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (retired sentinel) Nimri (ruffian scoundrel)
Averith (marksman sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (vengeance jugg) Effek (pyro pt)

December 13, 2011 to January 30, 2017

kennethdale's Avatar


kennethdale
10.11.2013 , 05:11 PM | #2
Here is one of those situations where it sucks to be right. I've been wondering how these changes could be balanced and it appears that bioware did the exact same thing they did for 2.0: they didn't test.
55 Mercenary { Drekevac } rDPS || 55 Marauder { KÓryu } mDPS
55 Sorcerer { Jahaerys } Heal
55 Juggernaut { Caryu } Tank || 55 Assassin { Vellys } Tank

Berjiz's Avatar


Berjiz
10.11.2013 , 07:31 PM | #3
To balance the tanks properly I think BW first needs to decided what they want to do with damage profiles and mechanics. KBN mentioned this in some other post suggesting a single f/t ratio for all the bosses. They also need to decide on how high damage attacks are handled, lots of small hits or one big hit and to some extent what mechanics should be cheeseable and not(bigest possible problem here is the assassin/shadow stealth). For instance cheesing the adds on TWH is probably to much while being able to reset medpack is more reasonable.

I haven't gotten that far into the new HMs so far but they seem to have gone with that high dmgs attacks being around 6-7 hits like heavy slash and chest laser from Corruptor. Does anyone know if there are any single high dmg attacks in the new ops?

Without defining the content more it's hard to create good balance. For instance there are very good arguments to keep all bosses near a single damage ratio. The tanks differences also needs to be defined but the community as well as the developers seems to be reasonably close to each other here, even if the numbers are quantified.

I think it might be a good idea to think more about how the content works, how much damage a spike possibly should deal depending on circumstances, mechanics behind high damage attacks and so on and not only about the mechanics around the tanks. But also what the numbers should between for the differences in healing, spikiness and so on. What do you think are acceptable numbers? 6-8% healing difference between Shadow / Assasin and Guardian / Juggernaut for 10% higher spikes?

Big predictable attacks seems to be handled well atm, BW seems to have started more again with splitting them and it's easy to use cooldowns for all of them unless you run out due to emergency like a dead healer. The problem that makes we want shelve my Assassin sometimes is that either all or some of the bosses standard attacks from high damages bosses can deal as much damage as their predictable attacks. The predictable attacks have higher possible maximum damage but since they are split in several hits the probability is fairly low, especially with a cooldown. The standard attacks however hit their max much more often, usually 3-5 times per fight depending on length of the fight. This forces Shadows / Assassins to constantly be much higher on health because if you get one of those spikes at the wrong place you are dead. It's very frustrating to dip low for a while after a heavy predictable attack and then get killed by even bigger hit from a standard attack. My point here is that if the standard attacks would have a smaller possible damage or reduced probability the spikiness of Shadows / Assasins might be fine as it is.

KBNs suggestions are interesting but they need to more refined more because they bring the tanks even closer to each other in terms of spikiness and uniqueness. Partially there is also the problem of m/r versus f/t. Shield / absorb is easier to boost than defense because it's value is more universal than defense. Also it might be dangerous to lower all tanks healing to much since the content is balanced around it. I do agree with 10%/20% armor on the talent instead of 20%/40%.

Here are some thoughts and suggestions. I haven't played my juggernaut that much yet haven't played VG/PT at all so it's mostly focused on Shadow / Assassin.

Shadow / Assassin
-Don't nerf Kinetic Ward / Dark Ward more than maybe 5%. The gain from it should be quiet high to maintain the playstyle and importance of keeping it up.
-Change to the new 3 stack force lightning so it works the same way as Kinetic Ward / Dark Ward, if you refresh it you loose all current stacks. So if you don't get all 4 ticks of you will lose damage reduction. Lower the duration of the stacks from 18 seconds to 15. Add a talent at the bottom of the tank tree gives 4 stacks when exiting stealth, the same way as Shadow Respite / Dark Embrace works.
-Allow phase walk to be remotely place with 10-15 meter range but with disabled teleport as a talent so you can skip it if you want. Alternatively allow teleport but remove the remote placing in PvP. Instead of a talent it could be added as a four set PvE tank bonus. If phase walk was easier to place it would have a higher uptime and therefore easier to included i calculations and overall utility.

Guardian / Juggernaut
-Talent that makes Saber Throw apply armor debuff and makes it high threat. This allows the application of the armor debuff even if the tank is not on the target. Making it high threat is to counter the fact that it's hard to start most fights with it because it delays your threat. Most dps will start after X seconds and saber throw delays your big threat generation by 1 gcd, there is a high risk that you will lose threat before your force charge has landed.
-Change warding call and Force Scream / Blade Storm so that it scales with incoming damage.

Vanguard / Powertech
-Add a new cooldown against f/t. For instance 100% shield for 5 sec, 1 min cd or similar. Stable and different from the other ones but a bit less powerful.
-Change shoulder cannon heal to something that scales with incoming damage.

I expect that BW won't change much though and that in the end there is a really big risk of them breaking things even more.
Drebi Darkness Assassin
Ve'shix Carnage Marauder

The Red Eclipse

kennethdale's Avatar


kennethdale
10.11.2013 , 08:53 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Berjiz View Post
To balance the tanks properly I think BW first needs to decided what they want to do with damage profiles and mechanics. KBN mentioned this in some other post suggesting a single f/t ratio for all the bosses. They also need to decide on how high damage attacks are handled, lots of small hits or one big hit and to some extent what mechanics should be cheeseable and not(bigest possible problem here is the assassin/shadow stealth). For instance cheesing the adds on TWH is probably to much while being able to reset medpack is more reasonable.

I haven't gotten that far into the new HMs so far but they seem to have gone with that high dmgs attacks being around 6-7 hits like heavy slash and chest laser from Corruptor. Does anyone know if there are any single high dmg attacks in the new ops?

Without defining the content more it's hard to create good balance. For instance there are very good arguments to keep all bosses near a single damage ratio. The tanks differences also needs to be defined but the community as well as the developers seems to be reasonably close to each other here, even if the numbers are quantified.

I think it might be a good idea to think more about how the content works, how much damage a spike possibly should deal depending on circumstances, mechanics behind high damage attacks and so on and not only about the mechanics around the tanks. But also what the numbers should between for the differences in healing, spikiness and so on. What do you think are acceptable numbers? 6-8% healing difference between Shadow / Assasin and Guardian / Juggernaut for 10% higher spikes?

Big predictable attacks seems to be handled well atm, BW seems to have started more again with splitting them and it's easy to use cooldowns for all of them unless you run out due to emergency like a dead healer. The problem that makes we want shelve my Assassin sometimes is that either all or some of the bosses standard attacks from high damages bosses can deal as much damage as their predictable attacks. The predictable attacks have higher possible maximum damage but since they are split in several hits the probability is fairly low, especially with a cooldown. The standard attacks however hit their max much more often, usually 3-5 times per fight depending on length of the fight. This forces Shadows / Assassins to constantly be much higher on health because if you get one of those spikes at the wrong place you are dead. It's very frustrating to dip low for a while after a heavy predictable attack and then get killed by even bigger hit from a standard attack. My point here is that if the standard attacks would have a smaller possible damage or reduced probability the spikiness of Shadows / Assasins might be fine as it is.

KBNs suggestions are interesting but they need to more refined more because they bring the tanks even closer to each other in terms of spikiness and uniqueness. Partially there is also the problem of m/r versus f/t. Shield / absorb is easier to boost than defense because it's value is more universal than defense. Also it might be dangerous to lower all tanks healing to much since the content is balanced around it. I do agree with 10%/20% armor on the talent instead of 20%/40%.

Here are some thoughts and suggestions. I haven't played my juggernaut that much yet haven't played VG/PT at all so it's mostly focused on Shadow / Assassin.

Shadow / Assassin
-Don't nerf Kinetic Ward / Dark Ward more than maybe 5%. The gain from it should be quiet high to maintain the playstyle and importance of keeping it up.
-Change to the new 3 stack force lightning so it works the same way as Kinetic Ward / Dark Ward, if you refresh it you loose all current stacks. So if you don't get all 4 ticks of you will lose damage reduction. Lower the duration of the stacks from 18 seconds to 15. Add a talent at the bottom of the tank tree gives 4 stacks when exiting stealth, the same way as Shadow Respite / Dark Embrace works.
-Allow phase walk to be remotely place with 10-15 meter range but with disabled teleport as a talent so you can skip it if you want. Alternatively allow teleport but remove the remote placing in PvP. Instead of a talent it could be added as a four set PvE tank bonus. If phase walk was easier to place it would have a higher uptime and therefore easier to included i calculations and overall utility.

Guardian / Juggernaut
-Talent that makes Saber Throw apply armor debuff and makes it high threat. This allows the application of the armor debuff even if the tank is not on the target. Making it high threat is to counter the fact that it's hard to start most fights with it because it delays your threat. Most dps will start after X seconds and saber throw delays your big threat generation by 1 gcd, there is a high risk that you will lose threat before your force charge has landed.
-Change warding call and Force Scream / Blade Storm so that it scales with incoming damage.

Vanguard / Powertech
-Add a new cooldown against f/t. For instance 100% shield for 5 sec, 1 min cd or similar. Stable and different from the other ones but a bit less powerful.
-Change shoulder cannon heal to something that scales with incoming damage.

I expect that BW won't change much though and that in the end there is a really big risk of them breaking things even more.
I agree with you entirely but specifically want to deal with the changes to Juggernauts. I think the biggest issue facing Juggernauts is purely threat generation. Its a joke on my Assassin to get threat and even to an extent get it back without a taunt but in terms of building initial aggro my Juggernaut is extremely difficult to start with unless I taunt fluff. We have one high threat ability that hits for ~2.7k versus a Sin that has two high threat abilities one of which hits for 3-4k with a chance of a second hit and the other which hits for ~2k on top of Pull which is an immediate 8500 threat.
55 Mercenary { Drekevac } rDPS || 55 Marauder { KÓryu } mDPS
55 Sorcerer { Jahaerys } Heal
55 Juggernaut { Caryu } Tank || 55 Assassin { Vellys } Tank

Berjiz's Avatar


Berjiz
10.11.2013 , 09:38 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by kennethdale View Post
I agree with you entirely but specifically want to deal with the changes to Juggernauts. I think the biggest issue facing Juggernauts is purely threat generation. Its a joke on my Assassin to get threat and even to an extent get it back without a taunt but in terms of building initial aggro my Juggernaut is extremely difficult to start with unless I taunt fluff. We have one high threat ability that hits for ~2.7k versus a Sin that has two high threat abilities one of which hits for 3-4k with a chance of a second hit and the other which hits for ~2k on top of Pull which is an immediate 8500 threat.
Yeah they have to do something about the threat, it's good that not all tanks have the same threat but juggernauts have to low threat, especially aoe. Single target threat aren't that much of a problem except sometimes for the initial threat. The initial threat will probably be more of a problem when everyone got optimized 78s.

Tanking trash with a juggernaut compared to an Assassin is so much worse. Aoe taunt+saber reflect works great but having to relay on them for each trash pull is not good enough and it's not fun at all either. The problem I had is that as I mentioned before that you can't start with saber throw+force charge because you won't get much initial aggro because of the dps will start before you get smash of. Saber throw+force charge+smash is 3 gcds while an Assassin starts of with wither+force speed or just wither. In 3 gcds and an Assassin gets off wither + force pull + discharge/shock which is much more threat.

Knockbacks and stuns are much more annoying to, it is annoying on Assassins due to interrupted force lightnings but beyond that it affects very little since all the important stuff is 10 meters. So many of the trash pulls in flashpoints with my jugg ends up with me jumping in and getting stunned straight away or knockbacked while pressing smash so it hits nothing but air. Most knokbacks in fps are just to short for a force charge straight away to. Sometimes dpses that have started off with heavy aoe have gotten killed because I just lost aggro of everything and they got oneshotted. I usually have to focus on a few strong and elite mobs and let the rest run free while on my assassin I can pick up all of them without much trouble. Assasins are frustrating because of rng deaths while juggernaut trash tanking is either boring(aoe taunt+saber reflect) or frustrating because so little stays on you.
Drebi Darkness Assassin
Ve'shix Carnage Marauder

The Red Eclipse

cs_zoltan's Avatar


cs_zoltan
10.11.2013 , 09:48 PM | #6
This is a rare sight indeed, some who ask nerf for his main class in regard to preserv class balance. I applaud you for this, and while I don't know much about this numerical tanking balance I'm with you on this to make every class/spec viable for all content (exeption is mara pvp smash which i want to see to nerf into the ground so I won't see any for at least a year). One thing I should add to this is while we (and the devs) should try to reach as much balance as it can be made we shouldn't forget about class uniqueness either (as much as I want to see shadows balanced, I don't want them to became another guardian or vanguard).
My healer perspective suggestion is to make them the best mitigation tank but the most spiky as well, not as ridiculous extent as it is now obviously(while vanguards remain as the smoothes tanks with worst/least dcds and guardians as the worst mitigation and best cooldowns tanks). That would give shadow tanks a challanging gameplay but also make them viable for all content
The ability to speak does not make you intelligent. Now get out of here.

The Red Eclipse <PC Gamer Mint Imperials>
KÚja, Kejann, Aemis, KyrÝ, Kyra'h, KÚssa, Frńngit, Lamţa, Kalk´Maelin, Morwy

ArchangelLBC's Avatar


ArchangelLBC
10.11.2013 , 10:07 PM | #7
Correct me if I'm wrong, but according to your graph, shadows are currently the best tank to have in both fortress and palace?

Why not buff both VG and JG and not touch shadows anymore? BW isn't exactly good at subtlety and if they nerf, they will over nerf because they are dumb.
In update 2.9 the game will simply uninstall itself for you.

-Wnd

Razzberry's Avatar


Razzberry
10.11.2013 , 10:23 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by ArchangelLBC View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but according to your graph, shadows are currently the best tank to have in both fortress and palace?

Why not buff both VG and JG and not touch shadows anymore? BW isn't exactly good at subtlety and if they nerf, they will over nerf because they are dumb.
The difference now is that Shadows make up for that high average survivability by having a high variance in spikiness.

After 2.5, that spikiness is being leveled off but they still have the best average survivability, which is where it becomes a problem.
Rul - Sith Juggernaut - The Shadowlands
The Drunk Tanks

KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
10.11.2013 , 11:58 PM | #9
So, Razzberry kindly pointed out an error in my math which led to a slight accentuation of the imbalance issues. The issues are still there, though they are slightly less severe than the current post makes them out to be. I'm rewriting some of the specific points; the general thrust remains the same. Shadows in 2.5 will be overpowered unless Bioware reduces the magnitude of some of the changes they're implementing, while Guardians will be woefully behind.

The good news is that we no longer need to neuter Kinetic Ward. :-)

Regarding Archangel's point: Razzberry hit it on the head. Shadows take the least external healing right now in both DP and DF and that's not unbalanced because we also have extremely severe spikiness. In fact, the spikiness issues are significant enough that efficiency never even enters into the equation. Healers just run themselves ragged trying to keep us alive. Guardians are underpowered, even today. What I'm lobbying for is to nerf shadows back a bit in 2.5 and to buff guardians enough that they won't (once again) become the red-headed stepchild of the tanking classes.

Quote: Originally Posted by cs_zoltan View Post
This is a rare sight indeed, some who ask nerf for his main class in regard to preserv class balance. I applaud you for this, and while I don't know much about this numerical tanking balance I'm with you on this to make every class/spec viable for all content (exeption is mara pvp smash which i want to see to nerf into the ground so I won't see any for at least a year).
That's part of why I'm hoping people will listen. It's my main spec, and while part of me feels very warm at the thought of being utterly, crushingly OP (like shadows were pre-1.3), I don't think it's good for the game.

Quote: Originally Posted by cs_zoltan View Post
My healer perspective suggestion is to make them the best mitigation tank but the most spiky as well, not as ridiculous extent as it is now obviously(while vanguards remain as the smoothes tanks with worst/least dcds and guardians as the worst mitigation and best cooldowns tanks). That would give shadow tanks a challanging gameplay but also make them viable for all content
I tend to agree. The problem I have is that shadows aren't really going to be any spikier than guardians. Part of my proposed fix reduces the armor scalar, which increases the spikiness and decreases the mean survivability by a bit. At least, close enough that I think things might be more balanced.

Quote: Originally Posted by Berjiz View Post
I think it might be a good idea to think more about how the content works, how much damage a spike possibly should deal depending on circumstances, mechanics behind high damage attacks and so on and not only about the mechanics around the tanks. But also what the numbers should between for the differences in healing, spikiness and so on. What do you think are acceptable numbers? 6-8% healing difference between Shadow / Assasin and Guardian / Juggernaut for 10% higher spikes?
Those numbers seem too high. Right now, we're sitting at a death risk of 20-50% higher than other tanks with 5% less healing. Clearly that's too much. I think it would be fair to be closer to 8-10% more likely to die for 3-5% less healing. It's really hard to say though. It varies from content piece to content piece, and some of the new content really emphasizes spike damage (most notably: Raptus).
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Dilettante on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (retired sentinel) Nimri (ruffian scoundrel)
Averith (marksman sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (vengeance jugg) Effek (pyro pt)

December 13, 2011 to January 30, 2017

KeyboardNinja's Avatar


KeyboardNinja
10.12.2013 , 12:22 AM | #10
Incidentally, I really, really love the idea of granting 4 stacks of Shadow Protection / Dark Protection upon exiting stealth. This would be a really nice QoL fix for two very annoying issues. First, you don't have your stacks until you can proc your first TkT/FL and channel (minimum: 12 seconds after pulling). Additionally, shadow/assassin tanks don't really have any reason to use stealth aside from rezing, cheesing and mezzing. Adding this change would push shadows/assassins to open from stealth every time, which is an awesome adjustment to the class mechanics. Just the thought of it makes me very excited. :-)

Additionally, granting 4 stacks upon exiting stealth gives a very nice tactical tool to shadow/assassin tanks in PvP. One of the problems with the Harnessed Shadows / Harnessed Darkness mechanic in any form is that you are rarely able to channel all four ticks, simply because the mobility requirements in PvP are too high. This change would allow shadows/assassins to refresh their stacks in combat simply by hitting Force Cloak. It would be a tactical decision though, since burning the combat stealth just to refresh stacks might be a waste, depending on the situation.

Overall, I think it's a fantastic idea, and if there's a forum where I can lobby for it, believe me, I will! Someone should really mention this back on the shadow answers thread, to make sure Eric sees it.
Computer Programmer. Theory Crafter. Dilettante on The Ebon Hawk.
Tam (shadow tank) Tov-ren (commando healer) Aveo (retired sentinel) Nimri (ruffian scoundrel)
Averith (marksman sniper) Alish (lightning sorcerer) Aresham (vengeance jugg) Effek (pyro pt)

December 13, 2011 to January 30, 2017