Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thoughts on the 1.4.2 patch




Right, so RE dropped the last patch on February 6th, and it's been 3 weeks or so since the patch hit. Just as a reminder, here's what got patched.

Dark Elf:
Wraith Starting HP increased by 150 and soul charges reduced by 50 HP

Dwarves:
Paladin HP decreased to 900

Shaolin:
Monk moment increased to 3
Poisoner debuffed increased to 50%

Team Fortress 2:
Sniper Crouch bonus reduced to 250
Heavy HP Reduced to 1100


I'll take them in turn:

Dark Elf:
Wraith Starting HP increased by 150 and soul charges reduced by 50 HP

This was supposed to be a "meaningless" type buff, raising the bottom end while having the top end remain as it was. But we all forgot that equipment raises HP by 10% of base health! So, instead of a helm and soul gem giving +65 hp, they now give +80 hp each.

This means that a L1 Wraith (a wraith with 1 nom under his belt) with just a smidge of bonus HP (gem, helm, soul bomb or pot) will have enough HP to take 3 300 damage hits. At the top end, a L3 +2 wraith will have 1100 + 160 = 1260 HP, just 90 HP short of 1350 (the magic number at which a wraith can survive a scrolled 450 physical damage hit). Just a single pot and soulbomb will tip that wraith over the edge, whereas before, you needed at least 2 soul bombs.


As a result, I'm finding that just a L1 +1 or +2 wraith is pretty darn hardy now, and needs a lot less babying. Great! Except that Tribe never had trouble taking down high HP units, Shaolin combos and poisoner still tear any single unit a new one, and dwarves still have that annie+drill combo. Ah well. Still, this buff really boosts the wraith now, and it's actually a valid decision to deploy and equip a wraith, rather than just keeping him in reserve for a remote stomp. If you're thinking of spending a soul bomb, and you have a wraith in hand, consider deploying him first so that he'll get that HP buff and be ready for action late game!



Dwarves:
Paladin HP decreased to 900

This warrants a solid "meh" from me. Seriously? Before the patch, everyone agreed that Dwarves needed to be taken down a peg - at the late game, the dwarven fortress could be literally unkillable, with their 1200HP 30/30 resist paladins, bubbles, beer, aura, all that defensive goodness. So we all expected the dwarves to get hit with the nerfbat. But this? taking 100HP off the pally? This was their grand scheme to balance things, a HP nerf that doesn't actually reduce any AP to kill? Bah.

Innately, pallys have 10% defence. This means that whether at 1000 HP or 900, a 300 damage unit will take 4 hits to kill, and that doesn't change with the nerf. Dwarves are still as strong as ever! Practically the only race this nerf affects is tribe, who can now 3 shot a naked pally with an axethrower. That's... not all that impressive.

I don't see how this changes the game against dwarves, to be honest, but I'm still open to suggestions. League data seems to indicate that this has increased the win rate against dwarves, but I really, really don't get why.


Shaolin:
Monk moment increased to 3
Poisoner debuffed increased to 50%

In one of my earlier posts, I showed that the poisoner and the monk were not BFF - they tend to get in each other's way a lot, due to their movement range and attack range, and even with that, a poisoner couldn't 2 shot a vanilla unit with another unit to combo with. Now, all of that changes with the new monk and poisoner buff.

The monk can now run in from directly behind the poisoner, or more likely from the side, to combo. And this combo now does 200 + (400 * 1.5) = 800 damage! Which means that a poisoner and any other unit will be able to 2 shot a vanilla unit. Not only that, but a sworded shadow and a sworded poisoner can now do 300 + (350 * 1.5) = 825 damage, which is enought to kill a vanilla unit! And the shadow is right there to convert the KOed unit. Dragons now do 600 * 1.5 = 900 damage against a pre-poisoned unit, or 810 against a 10% resist unit (like the medic or the shaman - that's a one-shot kill right there against most non-equipped healers), and with the bamboo bug being fixed, you can ranged stomp right there too. Sniping medics has never been easier, unlike before the patch, where you had to get 45 damage from somewhere else.

People who want to see big combo numbers will be disappointed, as the usefulness of this buff tapers off as the combo count increases (I mean, really, is an extra 10% of 600+ damage going to make or break anything), but 2 hit combos have become vastly more powerful.

That said, league data still shows that the Shaolin still apparently suck. Meh. These 2 buffs, while great, didn't succeed in making the Shaolin more offensively capable, it seems - the strength of the Shaolin still remain in their crazy high damage turtle.



Team Fortress 2:
Sniper Crouch bonus reduced to 250
Heavy HP Reduced to 1100

These 2 nerfs don't seem to have much in common, so I'll take them separately.

The sniper nerf now means that an upgraded sniper (crouched damage 430) and an upgraded soldier/pyro (390 damage) can no longer 2 shot a vanilla unit (820 total damage). This... had never seemed like a major issue to me, to be honest, and now with the crouched shot doing 350 and 380 with ammo upgrade, snipers seem even more irrelevant. Most healers will be able to heal that crouched shot damage with 1 AP, making using a sniper a net zero AP. Also, I used to use 4AP to take out vanilla units (430+130+130+130=820) and stomp with some other unit, such as a scout, but that's out with the new nerf as well (380+130+130+130=770).

Now, the sniper is solely for harassment and denial of a row in conjunction with a jar (which means that that row is denied to high value targets, as no TF2 player is going to spend a jar on a vanilla unit or non-essential unit). Still, that's 1 less AP for your opponent, which could mean the difference between a stomp and no stomp, or a kill and no kill, and games are often won or lost on those margins.

As for the heavy, again, the reduction from 1200 to 1100 seems odd - no AP savings for 200, 300 or 450 damage units, which are the main numbers when you're talking about damage. There are AP savings when talking about 390 damage units (which implies a TF2 mirror match, which is by definition balanced), but that's about it.




The net effect of these buffs/nerfs, I think, are that TF will come down in the rankings by a bit, the dwarves will barely be affected. Neither of their bad matchups (mostly against each other) changed, and they both still will steamroll shaolin, as nothing changed about the shaolin's vulnerabity to lobbed AOE damage. Shaolin will probably go up by a quite bit against DE, CL and TR, but I'm not sure if they'll be competitve at the end of the day. DE will go up by a bit against CL, DW and TF due to the wraith buff (CL because CL got nuffin, TF because DE can now force a jar against a wraith, and DW because DW has trouble getting rid of corpses.

Those are my predictions, but the league data seems to say that DW dropped more than I expected - I, of course, did not expect that. =p I can't think of any reason why that would be the case, but I assume that the reason was all the DW players flocking to the other races to try the new buffs out, while nobody wants to play the boring old DW all the time.


Right, so I've cross-posted this post to the RE official forums here - leave a comment here or on the forums if you want to discuss!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

East(DW) v West (CL) Team Game Replay



East v West Team Game

Hi all! This is a game long in the making, an epic game of East vs West, East taking dwarves and West taking council, lasting over 9 (?!) months and through a patch or two. Still, it’s done now, you, dear reader, get to take in all of the epicness. I was part of the game in the beginning, but as the epicness of this game grew, my ability to bear its epicness waned, and I dropped out midgame. So it’s like I’m seeing this afresh again!

It’s a Council (CL) vs Dwarves(DW) match, on the tribe map. Keep in mind that this is pre-patch (several, in fact!), so each of these crystals only have 3000 hp on them! Both CL and DW are strong teams, but in the months since, DW has come out as having the edge. Still, don’t count CL out!

Now the map as it was strongly favored crystal killing. Council in particular, if they had both gem tiles, could drop 2 infernoes at B7 or D7, using the inferno to hit 2 crystals at once, taking off two thirds of each crystal and almost 50% of the total crystal health. DW can’t do this, as their drill is a single target attack, but the gunner/grenadier can also hit 2 crystals at once with similar results.

Now CL is a very strong team, good at whatever it decides to do, whether crystal killing or unit killing, but is a very straightforward team. Your archers deal the damage, your knights soak the damage, and your clerics heal the damage - if you’re out of archers, your damage output is screwed, if you’re out of knights, you get really squishy, if you’re out of clerics, your have zip for healing. No weaknesses out of the box, but each unit fills a specific niche and not much else can replace it.

The DW on the other hand, are specialised at staying safe. Paladin aura, beer and bubbles meant that units take 1 or 2 extra AP to kill, and this generally results in DW staying clumped up near their paladins. If you can manage to take out DW’s paladins, then DW is crippled for the rest of the game (not much game left after that, really), but taking out a 1200HP (1100HP after the last patch) 30+/30+ resist unit is a tall order, even for the mighty ninja. =) Engineers are a surprising weak spot in the DW team - they’re generally squishy, as almost no DW will spend equipment on them, but at the same time, they provide the all important bubble. Without a bubble, DW loses the ability to resist massive burst damage. Similarly, if CL can take out the bubbles consistently, perhaps with splash damage, DW can slowly lose AP on each turn and end up being unable to keep up (e.g. too slow to keep up with deployment of units, too slow to deal with crystal damage and taking out of threatening units).

Now, I’m no master of either CL or DW, so I’m glad to have with me the players of the game itself, most of whom are ranked in the top 10 of the league, and the current and former #1, Trip. =D

Move 1
CL deploys knights at B1 and D1, and helms D1 knight

Trip: Uninspiring opening hand: 2 Knights, a Cleric, a helmet, an inferno, and a potion. Nothing much to do but get the Knights out there and hope for some offense…


Move 2
DW deploys a gunner, annihilator, and paladin. Not a bad draw - the annihilator debuff synergises well with the gunner, and keeping the gunner near the paladin will make it harder for CL to kill (CL needs 5AP instead of 4AP to kill with a 200 damage unit). Nevertheless, with 2 knights on the board, CL can’t credibly threaten DW at this early stage. If there was an archer on the board, things might be different!