Can We Talk About Group Tank Balance Problems?

Discussion in 'Tanks' started by Luclin.Dragonball, Feb 24, 2023.

  1. Luclin.Dragonball Lorekeeper

    I feel strongly that we have an issue being overlooked or ignored for some time, which is really hurting non-raid Warriors.

    This is that mercenary healers are terrible, and real healers are vanishingly rare unless you're willing to box your own. I know there are myriad reasons why so many of us have resorted to multi-boxing our own groups, with the lower player population and plummeting reliability of "randoms" one might get the chance to group with. However, knights have been immunized against this concern by their compounding abilities to support themselves and/or their groups via self-healing options and the interactions between their healing AAs and available gear.

    Warriors, on the other hand, are expected to remain impossibly tough and overcome wildly inflated hp values of incoming damage effects through "brute force" alone. This simply does not work if one hopes to rely on a mercenary alone to fill the role of healer. Rare NPC spawns and "progression" tasks within Night of Shadows have been reasonably - or even slightly forgivingly - balanced, and I take no issue with the challenges they've posed. However, from the Ring of Scale when it was current, on into The Burning Lands and forward, the "Hero" missions *demand* a live or at least Player Character healer if the main tank is a warrior. A Warrior's inability to provide their own supplementary ("patch") healing the way that knights passively do means that the underwhelming values of mercenary healer spells are simply not enough; there isn't enough time to cast all the spells that would be required at that power level to support a group and their Warrior tank through the area effects, rampages, multiple enemies, and damage spikes in these missions. At times, "control" utilities can offset these things of course, whether it be via slows and cripples, separation through deft pulling, or mesmerization. Indeed, *sometimes* these overwhelming moments can be averted with clever manipulation of the events' mechanics.

    I'm not talking about "being smarter," or "doing everything right," I'm talking about the times when everything being done to optimize the strengths of a group without a live/PC healer is simply not enough - where it would've been if the tank were a knight rather than a Warrior.

    To my mind, it would be best addressed by a few simple changes in itemization. There are different options, but according to the trends of game development I've seen over the life of this game the ones which stand out as obvious or logical to me are as follows, in no particular order:

    1. A line of Warrior-only weapon augmentation options, which match or exceed the rune values associated with knight 1H weapon proc effects. These could even be made available to knights or all melee/hybrids, allowing some flexibility to players who wish to assume unconventional roles with their character. Knights might continue to be better served by things with direct heal procs, or stun procs, or lifetap procs, that would remain their option to determine.

      We miss our Energizing Attachment options

      It is reasonable to restrict this approach to 1H or even Primary-only, so that the character wishing to employ it is limited in their DPS output. (Sorry, Berserkers) Also, feel free to make this line of procs not useful for the maintenance and generation of 'AE' aggro, if you felt that was the overpowered facet of the Energizing Attachment rune proc.

    2. A line of Warrior-only shields or shield augmentations, which provide a much higher base healing amount for 'Vector of Health' than the one currently present on the "tank-only" shields (WAR/PAL/SHD/BRD). At a minimum, this would be available to Warriors via group content to match what is presently available on those same tank-only shields in raid content. At a more reasonable maximum, the group version would be eight to ten times the current group values and remain in that relationship moving forward. Likewise, the raid version for Warriors might be adjusted somewhat ahead of the group one but by a limited margin to avoid making a raid-geared Warrior capable of soloing content without any reliance on a healer.

    3. A line of weapon augmentations to continue and/or expand the effects of Wurmslayer's Guard from Empires of Kunark. I see this one as a remarkable itemization opportunity, because you could easily attach a minimum delay to these augs and establish a baseline control versus your content to hamstring the damage output of characters employing them. Whether they included hefty (if resistible) damage types to promote aggro generation at a high delay like the Wurmslayer, or leaned into a slightly lower delay such as the 1HB options available to most martial classes and carried a damage value appropriate to them, the choice is yours.
    4. Simply adding an effect similar to Wurmslayer's Guard to all Warrior-only 1H weapons. Obviously this would require establishing a stacking preference to allow only the highest equipped version of this line, or restricting items with this effect to the primary slot, but that's a simple thing.
    5. A line of Warrior-only shields or shield augmentations, which include an effect similar to Wurmslayer's Guard. Although intensely logical for shields to satisfy this function, this is my least favorite approach. I don't know that solely padding the mitigation of Warriors versus incoming melee damage is the best way to address their current shortcomings, and I also feel that this approach is the most likely to garner the ire of players dedicated to other classes - because there's no obvious reason why this should be necessary, in this way, from their perspectives. (Hyperbole follows) If I tell you, "Warriors need a higher heal amount than you, because you're able to heal for 100k hp from a 10k base heal, but they only get 10k hp from it," that makes some immediate sense. If I tell you "Warriors are already tougher than you on paper, but we need to make them tougher still, because it's just not enough," you're going to say something like "That's not fair, why aren't you making me tougher too then?"
    6. Adding a Wurmslayer's Guard style effect to all Warrior-only chest items when equipped. I dislike this approach for the same reasons as the one above, but it has the advantage of not requiring the creation of any *new* items, just a change to the class-specific chest items for Warriors.

      For any of these "Wurmslayer's Guard" style approaches, it would be absolutely fair to incorporate either or both of these changes to the original: Only absorbing the amount indicated from attacks *below* a certain threshold, and/or only absorbing a finite portion of that value indicated, less than 100%, for hits not great enough to meet the full value when multiplied by the coefficient offered. "Wielding this item protects you against 50%(??) of incoming melee damage up to 5000 points of damage per hit, from hits *less than* 15000." This is only an example, of what it might look like with an iteration of both limitations imposed for level 120. This is easily nullified in raid content if so desired, by having the minimum net damage from current-level hits with current-level raid buffs exceed the call-out limit present on these items.
    There are non-item-based solutions, to be sure, but it seems to me that this area is the most lacking of thoughtful design, and holds the greatest immediate potential to address the current shortcomings without wildly compounding out-of-hand when combined with new ranks of existing AAs, disciplines and abilities.

    What are your thoughts?
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  2. Szilent Augur

    It is correct for Mercenaries to be insufficient for tackling missions.
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  3. Brickhaus Augur

    Honestly, my first thought is that you've written a lot of text for simply wanting a wurmslayer upgrade (which there's already a thread on somewhere around here). IMO the wurmslayer effect is nearly impossible to balance and really should be left to die.

    My second thought is that you're not a very good warrior ... perhaps better said is you're not understanding where your issues are. Neither am I when I've dabbled on mine (primarily play a paladin). But I know a number of group warriors, a few for quite some time. And while I think some are jealous of the fact that I can go on my paladin and true solo play in current content (within reason), none have suggested that their actual tanking ability is subpar. Nor have they switched to paladin (SKs are a whole different bag and yes, a number have switched to SKs over the years for easy mode). Some expansions seem worse than others for them who rely primarily on a merc healer, but they manage to get whatever they need to get done ... done.

    You would make a much better argument if you produced some parses about how much melee damage group warriors are taking on specific events (could be average, could be spikes, etc.) and then talk about how one of your suggestions helps that. I'd be the first to agree that some of the events over the more recent expansions have been rough for group geared only tanks but I'm not sure any of your suggestions fixes any of the issues they have. Most of the problems I've faced over the years haven't been mob melee damage but all the various AE/targetted spell damage that's in modern EQ. Exactly none of your suggestions are going to matter in a 300k tick dot.

    SIde note - your talk about shields is the biggest giveaway IMO that you haven't really thought a lot through. No warrior I know ever uses a shield anymore in group content, except for initial contact with an uncontrolled multiple mob situation. Dual wield proficiency is just better considering. Ultimately mobs have to die to get things done.

    All of the single type classes (warrior, cleric, wizard, possibly some of the straight melees) could use a better examination of their current skills vs the actual play environment. For example, snare/root immune mobs and summoning trash were the rage a few expansions ago ... which meant wizards simply could not solo in the content (can't keep a tank merc alive, can't merc heal through wizard tanking). That was poor design. The last few expansions have been better about that. If any real look at classes were to occur, they should start with cleric, wizard, warrior (in that order).

    Warriors could use some love. I'm not sure a few equipment boosts would matter.
  4. Szilent Augur

    You are overestimating the impact of Wurmslayer's Guard for warriors. Its spa162 protection is best-one-works, meaning any time you're protected already by Finish The Fight or intermittently by Brace for Impact or Bristle Recourse, you're not getting any benefit from Wurmslayer's Guard.

    If you're a sillyperson equipping a shield, then on hits over 35k you're already receiving more protection from Defensive Proficiency II than Wurmslayer would protect against.

    (If other classes are there in support, like paladin or cleric, then there's even stronger spa162s being thrown around, but you're talking about playing unsupported.)

    Now, presumably some new Wurmslayer would be invented with higher than EoK's protection? But how much more would be reasonable? should Finish The Fight *not* improve our mitigation?
  5. Luclin.Dragonball Lorekeeper

    TLDR: No, Wurmslayer's Guard isn't the fix. What is?

    I'll happily concede to the position that Wurmslayer's Guard was deemed to be broken and overpowered, and that's why it was left to die as a unique thing that hasn't been revisited or reiterated in any way. That's almost precisely how I responded when it was suggested to me earlier today - but I thought it was worthy at least of consideration as I wrote this post, so I attempted to flesh out how it might look in a reasonable revival. After all, I still have a bandolier to equip my old Wurmy for niche circumstances when I know the absorption will be worthwhile.

    How do you feel about addressing the gaps in net heal amount between even just the Vector of Health line of procs for Warriors versus Knights, or explaining the exclusion of Warriors from access to the rune procs available on knight-only 1H weapons for so many years, other than "that's the way it has been, so that's the way it is?"

    Hit point values continue to compound and inflate, and the more interactions a given class has between various focus effects, AAs and their gear's effects, the more effective that class can be. That's a reality on which I hope we can all agree, but in my OP I'm meaning to address some things which have evidently fallen in the gaps over the last several years of these escalations.

    The passive average reliability gaps between pet and PC tanks is at an extreme swing currently, and none of the three primary tank classes better exemplify that than Warriors without any "patch" healing support between mercenary heals. I recognize this isn't a problem for everyone, but that doesn't make it less of a problem.

    As players leave the game, development should make efforts to ensure playability and potential enjoyment for people who play (and in some cases have for over two decades) classes which were originally core archetypes of the genre. To say that any group composition relying on Warriors, Monks, Berserkers, Rogues, Wizards, Necromancers, Enchanters, or Magicians shouldn't be permitted to succeed with thoughtful strategy and the employment of a mercenary to fill the role of healer, unless one of those pets can serve as main tank instead of the Warrior, simply because a hybrid or priest was not available is really backward, if you acknowledge that's what these trends are doing. I understand and respect the choice to make using pet tanks within Hero missions difficult to accommodate, and typically hazardous to other melee-type PCs. I understand and respect the choice to make mercenary healers pale in comparison to PC healers, in terms of (hopefully) intelligence, tactics, responsiveness, as well as raw healing power.

    Can you respect my advocating for a development choice which might acknowledge and respect a player's choice and dedication to play a class in the way it was designed to be played, while addressing the reality and context in which it might need to be played now? No, telling someone they should restart as a Shadow Knight for easymode, or box a healer is not acceptable advice.

    I've always advocated to any tank that they ought befriend any or all reliable healers with whom they cross paths, but that doesn't necessarily ensure those healers still have time to play, or that their guild obligations afford them any freedom to play with groups of unguilded friends. Each of us has individual ambitions for our characters, and as cooperative as we might endeavor to be, there are still task timers to wait on; no one can do everything with everyone, and the pool of available players looking for groups is getting smaller every day.

    When I'm able to be online at the same time as any healer or knight, I can and do clear every mission in NoS with my mediocre gear and augs. When I'm not able to include such in my groups, I find the same time online to be very unproductive by comparison. I'm not asking for an easy fix, I'm asking that we consider and discuss what appear to me are very tangible oversights in development.
  6. Szilent Augur

    It wasn't broken or OP, and it wasn't unique. It has been revisited and reiterated. There are lots of spa162 protections for tanks (I listed several of the warrior ones above), and in fact every character can now have a 500 point version on all the time via Jann illusion without even having to equip Wurmslayer.

    I guess it could be OP, if a new version were made that was much much stronger? but that's a weird hypothetical because it entrains an awful lot of mistakes that then mysteriously go uncorrected
  7. Syylke_EMarr Augur

    Honestly, you can have the rune procs. I hate them, and they're not nearly as good as you seem to think they are.

    The main difference is in actual class abilities. Knights can heal themselves; warriors can't. No one likes merc healers, though. They suck for everyone.
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  8. Cadira Augur

    I would NEVER pull out a merc healer to heal either of my raid geared sks through missions or any "hard" content. I don't even know if I'd survive. They're working as intended, although they could probably be better.

    Warriors could see some improvements but I can't tell if you're saying they're underpowered or a merc healer should be able to heal them through everything, 'cause neither of those things are true.
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  9. Spliskin Journeyman

    1. Have you blocked your merc healer's lame spells, such as the "promised death" line and others? Is your healer merc max aa in healing ability with good merc gear?
    2. On hard content (missions) you may need (2) merc healers. Put away one of your dps mercs. On my group geared SK that is very helpful on a lot of missions. I never run a true healer class in either my box group (SK/Mage/Necro) or when I'm teamed up with a friend who generally runs a mage.
  10. Luclin.Dragonball Lorekeeper

    1 - Yes, thank you.

    2 - Having seen both knights get by in Hero missions with one merc healer it's frustrating to sacrifice a second PC spot for another terrible healer merc, but yes that's a potentially viable route. I've experienced fairly frequent shortcomings with two healer mercs, as they'll each cast the same spell on the same target at the same time, because they have the same AI, resulting in someone else dying - and they won't ever battle rez, so recovering from that is unlikely at best, even if you can swing a rez token click in the heat of things.

    Would you entertain the concept of Warriors gaining a way to allow spells from healer mercs to critically succeed on them? It would add quite a bit to how well a warrior can tank with a merc healer without directly making the warrior itself better - and of course does nothing in a raid setting.
  11. Luclin.Dragonball Lorekeeper

    I'm sorry, I should have been more specific; I meant that it was (to my understanding) unique in terms of itemization. Yes I'm aware of the Jann illusion and other abilities that overlap with that function. I wasn't aware of any other items that worked the same way besides the Wurmslayer's Guard effect. Once again, I'd prefer not to address the issue of merc healer inadequacy through this approach but I wanted to represent the idea sufficiently in this discussion, as it was suggested and I thought there was potential merit there.
  12. Szilent Augur

    Warriors do have the Combatant's Pact AA for 34% boost to Promised heals specifically, which mercs like using, and 50% chance to crit those (just 5% behind paladins), but common advice such as you've quoted is to block Promised. I don't like blocking Promised as it's a powerful tool for real clerics.

    Warriors also have 21% Improved Recovery AA focus to incoming heals, shared with mnk/ber/rog.

    Both those don't discriminate between player & mercenary healers.

    Having tools to specifically improve mercenary healing I really don't like the idea of, tbh. It sucks that they suck, but they shouldn't be good. Everquest would be worse.
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  13. I_Love_My_Bandwidth Mercslayer

    If merc healers were really the problem no one would use them. And no one should IMO. :)

    TBH, your post seems to ask for an overarching, continuous mitigation increase in the guise of incidental use. While I'm certain Warriors would cheer, I'm not convinced there's any data to support the necessity of a change.

    This statement is wildly out of context here. But when you say 'a group' let's assume you mean 1x Warrior tank, 3x DPS, 1x Support, 1x Merc healer. If this is not what you meant, please try to be specific. In any case, my scenario is such that each player is operating at their fullest potential and the group's gear, AA, achievements, and skill land them somewhere in the "average group" category. If their efforts are "simply not enough" they either are not doing enough or they're attempting content above their abilities.

    As someone who has raised several box teams on several servers, operated PURs, and been a longtime PUG proponent - I can tell you if a group is on the ragged edge of their capability, the slightest error can bring them down. One person missing a slow, a heal, a taunt, a stun, an ability, a disc, etc means the group dies. Operating at this ragged edge means risk and if that proves too much to ask then they need to adjust their expectations and approach to content. Do something a little bit easier. Find the weak link and swap them out.

    Warriors are honestly in a decent spot with a knowledgeable player running them.

    Mercs be damned! :eek:
  14. Wulfhere Augur

    Try to have one on reactive and the other on balanced or efficient so they will cast differently. Swap their stances to manage their mana (reactive one uses more mana). Switch one to passive to force it to med up if you can go without the healing for a few minutes.

    There are a few ways to gain crit heals as some classes have group buffs for that:

    Bards - Reckless Renewal and Fierce Eye
    Druids - Group Wolf
    Rangers - Auspice

    Boxing a bard would grant the best effect and might perform better then having 2 healer mercs (without).
  15. Szilent Augur

    Ultimately I understand your sentiment. Knight tank independence is an enviable M.O.; the idea of a character that can both take damage and heal off that damage is a powerful precis. If a class that checks those boxes is powerful enough along either axis, they end up not needing support. Against non-mission content, pet classes can do it. Against lighter/older enemies, rangers or enchanters with questionable heals or priests with questionable tanking are sufficient to check both boxes. Warrior tanks plain don't check the second box (with class features, anyhow. Spirit Drinker's Coating is pretty powerful.). Though we can stack up unparalleled defenses, there are not many battles worth battling that will be won before the highest stacks of them expire, allowing the HP pool behind them to be worn to nothing.

    I am on board with changes that would reinforce what warriors are. Ones that would make warriors generally tougher, more resilient, easier to support, with powerful payoffs to being supported.

    A more ideal balance, to me, wouldn't be reinforcing terrible mercenary healing. Instead challenges could be such that groups formed around knights *also* couldn't skate through on terrible mercenary healing. In content that mercenaries don't handle well (Burning Lands was famous for giving them conniptions with prolific AEs), so that the abilities of player healers are called upon already, warrior tanks and knight tanks are suddenly fungible and a discussion of balancing them makes sense. A simple Rampage ability on some subset of enemies would throw into question the puissance of a knight that is mostly great at healing only themselves.

    If a warrior uses all their tools for better mitigation, they don't need as frequent healing from player healers that can adapt to their groups' needs. Warriors could stand to mitigate spell & dot damage differentially better than knights, as knights' "put the hp back" feature naturally counters spell & dot damage in the same way they handle melee damage. Warrior abilities, at present, mostly only handle melee damage, and not spell/dot damage at all. The Mark of the Mage Hunter AA exists, but it's…not good; improvable, I mean to say, along several axes.

    If a warrior has higher hp pool, then big priest class heals get "elbow room" to be powerful compared to relatively smaller non-priest ones. This divide could stand a bit of widening, and could happen via further ranks of passive Sturdiness AA that already exist on the Class tab, or via activated abilities that more readily fill gaps between uses of the Imperator's Command AA.

    If warriors' passive regen were quite high (I've spitballed elsewhere about Warlord's Resurgence AA instead being Warlord's Resilience, i.e. passive), then warriors could maybe mitigate their way to not-dying against little stuff, and then recover more readily than having to go OOC. That'd be nice.
  16. Luclin.Dragonball Lorekeeper

    Thank you, for your contributions.
  17. Luclin.Dragonball Lorekeeper

    I'd rather not gain any more mitigation at the moment, I feel Warriors are decently good at filling their role in general terms. Let me change how I present the concern.

    A Cleric player character, relying on a mercenary tank only needs DPS and a bit of control or support to win a fight, or indeed a Hero mission, with trivial effort. They're left extremely flexible in what group compositions are viable, despite bringing nothing to the table beyond that one core role of overwhelming heals and mitigation support for a group and its tank. The converse with a warrior relying on their healer mercenary is nowhere nearly the same animal, requiring tactically executed DPS and support/control classes to be reliable and smart with their timing so that threats are precisely addressed through concerted effort. This is quite a double standard, and while I don't have interest in playing a character which can trivially tank an unlimited number of enemies at a level of proficiency that negates the importance of reacting correctly to event mechanics within a Hero mission, I'd like to see a reasonable option for the pure tank archetype to succeed while relying on the healer mercenary.

    No, I don't have any demands that the power levels of PC Clerics get tuned downward. I know all too well how it feels to have one role available to fulfill, and I would not wish any player in their position to be hamstrung by the unavailability of a reliable tank. That's why mercenaries were added to the game, after all.

    Far from intending to represent that I know what is the best solution, I'm here trying to engage people in giving this issue some critical consideration. Your "no one should use merc healers" sentiment is not constructive or helpful, and while I do agree with it wholeheartedly under ideal circumstances (group options being varied and plentiful among the pool of online players), it's silly to pretend that's a practical expectation these days on live servers.

    While slow and uninteresting, each of the priest classes can readily rely upon their tank mercenary to fill the role of a PC warrior. As frustrating as the hiccups associated with poor AI positioning and facing are, they're consistently addressed by any of the many control and positioning abilities that other classes offer. Why do priests deserve this option and Warriors do not?

    I have to say that I have not personally seen a tank merc handle Mean Streets or the gumdrop splits in The Spirit Fades yet, so I can't speak to how easily that might be done - if at all.

    Frankly, if two Hero missions are flatly not going to work while relying on a tank merc to tank or a healer merc to heal, I have no problem with that. My contention is that there's a gap specifically shortchanging the pure tank class, relative to the options available to other classes, within the tanking archetype. This seems like an oversight to me and I think it would be valuable to consider, discuss, and hopefully in time address.
  18. I_Love_My_Bandwidth Mercslayer

    Thanks for clarifying!

    There is a group game gap between War and PAL/SK. Always has been. Always will be. This is no oversight. It's intentional.

    WAR are kings of single-target combat, and therefore dominate the raid tanking game.
    SK are kings of multi-target combat, and therefore dominate the group game.
    PAL can be thought of as a tank support role, existing between the healer and the WAR. They do tank competently well in both the raid game and group game, but do not necessarily excel in either.

    I feel you may need to adjust your expectations of the tank archetype in general. :)
  19. p2aa Augur

    Not anymore, and since a long time ago. Knights are able to single target raid tank every raid mob as good as Warriors, including Boss, while keeping their great self healing tools.
  20. Lluianae Elder

    Threads like this are pretty nostalgic. It's almost like a certain dorf is back.

    Knight raid boss tanking not as good as, but it can be good enough depending on the situation. They don't have as strong of a sustained tanking toolkit which is better suited for raid bosses over a long period of time. Of course, Dragon Glyph is tank crack and its existence, as it works, is pretty absurd.

    It's actually funny when you see how much healing a Warrior does when MT through procs and mark healing, or dare I also throw in SK epic. The latter alone being a more than viable window where a given tank can just take care of themselves.

    Take a minimal AoE healing event, like FtG, where adds are shorter-lived. The boss isn't that threatening. Warriors will be right up there in healing done because that's so little for healers to actually do and outside of continuous MT healing and emote screw ups, is pretty boring. Similarly applies for Aten. Even then the boss tank healing isn't demanding, it's just a constant. Then there's raid Shei. Even with the Strikes, rooting and cures, Healers get very bored from how little there is to do. The boss damage is solo healable by a Cleric with VoV on. That should tell you enough.

    NoS at least is somewhat different where certain adds/mini bosses can hit like a truck and absolutely do favour warriors more than knights. That's always been the case where the greater the presence of higher DI hits in mobs vs DBs, the better a Warrior fairs.

    Also, if the devs really wanted to make things harder for knights tanking and bias even further to Warriors (in raids), then all they'd have to do is have more enemies silence. Not even an AoE, things like a short-range aura, or single target proc.