How Shall I Nerf Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

coh[City of Heroes] In City of Heroes, the developers are confronting a problem, specifically the solo power of Fire/Kinetics/Fire Controllers. With the addition of Ancillary Power Pools and Containment, this class gets increasingly powerful and capable of destruction as the number of enemies increases. Loosely, the pattern is: any AE control (they have at least 3 forms), rush in, Fulcrum Shift (hit damage cap), and Fireball to one-shot almost everything. Whatever is left will be cleaned up by the damage-capped Fire Imps that followed the controller in. Under ideal conditions, which should not be too hard to create consistently in PvE, the Controller out-blasts the Blaster while still being a great controller.

The problem is the combination of Containment (double damage vs. controlled enemies), Kinetics (damage cap yourself), pets (three Fire Imps all the time), and AE damage (Fireball). This is only a problem in the late-game, since you must be almost near the level-cap to have all those pieces, but you can then powerlevel others to shoot them through some levels.

The initial approach on the test server has been to nerf the Imps (spawn one level lower), every Ancillary Power Pool (damage has been cut in half), and Containment in PvP (which has been triple damage vs. controlled players). This fits the standard operating procedure: when you hit a power, hit it three ways at once. Not all of these may survive to the live servers. Other ways to approach this would be to nerf Controllers’ Fulcrum Shift (or everyone’s) or lower the damage cap on Imps, all pets, and/or Controllers’ AE attacks.

I don’t know if this is a good change yet. Having no high-level Controllers, I cannot see the impact directly. I do pity, say, the Earth/Empathy Controllers who took a hit as collateral damage.

: Zubon

11 thoughts on “How Shall I Nerf Thee? Let Me Count the Ways”

  1. The only collateral that Earth/Whatever took was in their APPs, and all of the APPs were doing way too much damage under containment. Given that Earth has four separate ways to put things into containment, I’m not exactly crying a river for them. They’re still doing blaster level damage with that fireball; previously, they would have been doing twice the damage of a blaster with the Fireball. From _Castle_, the current powers dev:

    Blaster Fire Blast power set
    Unslotted Fire Blast @ level 45: 54 damage (ignoring the DOT)

    Prior to change
    Controller Ancillary Powers:
    Unslotted Fire Blast @ level 45: 60 damage (ignoring the DOT)
    w/ PvE Containment: [60 damage + 60 damage or 120 damage
    w/ PvP Containment: 60 damage + 120 damage or 180 damage

    After this change:
    Controller Ancillary Powers:
    Unslotted Fire Blast @ level 45: 30 damage (ignoring the DOT)
    w/ Containment (PvE or PvP): 30 damage + 30 damage or 60 damage.

    So, with containment active, this power (and its equivalents from the other controller epic sets) still out damages the equivalent blaster power.

    Yes, the AP version has a longer recharge and costs more endurance. This is consistent with how AP powers are designed.

    About the only people I feel sorry for in this whole thing are Fire Dominators, since Dominators kind of suck anyways. Nerfing them seems like an unnecessary kick. However, since I haven’t tried a Dominator since they made it much, much easier to get into Domination mode (3 Domination points generated per attack instead of 2, and a bonus for being on a team), it may be a fair nerf, regardless.

  2. I’ll toss up the link to _Castle_’s post. Some folks took issue with _Castle_’s calculations, notably the difference between damage per attack and damage over time, where Controllers fell from something like equal to a Blaster if Containment was always active to ~45% of a Blaster with perma-Containment. This would be before giving the Blaster Build Up, Aim, Defiance, and all its other attack powers. Of course, the Controller gets to take 0 damage while that happens, assuming the crowd control works (and probably dies otherwise).

    The issue seems to come back to PvP, and I can’t feel for the Blaster-Controller comparison in PvP. I have a Blaster. If I want to go blow up squishies, they better get me before my massive damage and two holds stops them. Of course, PvP is Scrappers vs. Stalkers after the squishies fall quickly and everyone ignores Tankers and Brutes, but that’s a separate issue.

    Yeah, Fire Dominators, poor souls. I recall someone’s comment along the lines of, “Wow, I made a Dominator so I never needed to worry about getting nerfed again.”

    I’ll post at greater length about Controllers in PvP sometime. The quick version would be: tedious. Crowd control is binary, so one side or the other cannot do anything during the fight.

  3. I think that is absolutely one of the mistakes they made in CoH: binary control schemes. There needs to be some point between “perfectly fine” and “totally unable to act, no toggles.”

    Hell, take Hold. That could be as simple as having a controller’s hold giving (random number here) a 50% debuff to move, damage, and effects (heal, etc). When you get to 100%, you simply can’t act. Status resistance reduces the amount of incoming status effects, but doesn’t nullify it completely. That gives controllers a stronger showing against tankers, scrappers, brutes and (assuming they survive the first strike) stalkers. Even the first hold is going to hurt them some. It also means that duels between controllers aren’t “who fires first” affairs. Then, have immobilize give a 50% debuff to move, fear a 50% to damage, and disorient 50% to effects. The debuffs need to drain fairly quickly, but they could drain at a steady rate, rather than “and now you lose a 50% debuff.” And, of course, that still leaves sleep. I figure that would apply the same debuffs as hold, but they get knocked off as soon as the character gets hit. And, again, 50% might be too high, that’s just a random number.

    Of course, that screws over defenders, since buffing debuffing is precisely what they do. But there’s ways around that, too. In particular, concentrating defenders on healing and buffing, or alternately having defenders give different debuffs from the controllers. Say, -regen, -end, -accuracy, -defense, -resist. Toss in one of the “controller” effects here and there, and you’ve got a strong interlocking skillset.

    Lastly, the whole stalker problem could be fixed if they had half of any critical attack (and that includes scrapper criticals) be dealt normally, then the other half be applied over, say, 8 seconds. Plenty of time to pop an inspiration or two, or have a defender heal. It also means a lot less of the “front-loaded damage is king” crap. However, stalkers could still be a threat, particularly to lone characters and to people so caught up in their own fight that they don’t see the steady drop of their HP.

  4. Sorry, that should read “status protection gives reduces the amount of incoming status effects….” Status resistance should still mean that status effects have a shorter duration or, in our new, modified system, that status effects drain away faster. So if the default was for a 5% return from debuffs every second, 50% status resistance would give 7.5% return each second. Again, just as an example number.

  5. I haven’t done much PvP on my Stalker, mostly because everyone except Scrappers seemed to have left the PvP zones and I get tired of fighting masses of Dark/Regen and Spines/Regen who all see through Hide. One thing I do note from him is that Stalkers really need that front-loaded damage, since they have very little in the way of defense. They have as many hit points as any other squishy, so one big yellow inspiration nullifies most Stalker advantages (stealth, defense). If the plan is to get in, hit, and get out, you need to be able to do something with that hit.

    Which gives us another near-binary situation. Stalkers have high burst damage, low DPS. If they cannot Assassin Strike and get away, they are just Brutes, without Fury, with Controller hit points. Either stealth works and a squishy dies almost instantly, or it doesn’t and the Stalker drops/runs from everyone’s superior DPS. The only question is whether the Stalker will get away after the (attempted) squishy assassination.

    Maybe I should invite my friend Bert to guest-post on that. He PvPs more than anyone I know, usually on a Stalker or Scrapper. His favorite story is still the time he took out a full group solo: Blinding Powder (confuse) on the Kinetics Defender; Defender hits Fulcrum Shift, not realizing he just debuffed his entire team; Defender hits Nova, now realizing that he just killed his entire team; Bert takes out the squishy was left alone with 0 endurance.

  6. Oh, and if we’re dreaming about how to do control entirely differently, you don’t need to worry about keeping the Defender/Controller distinction on debuffs. You just have a debuffer class, or maybe one that is debuff/damage (Dominator/Corruptor) and another that is debuff/buff (Controller), or whatever.

  7. lol nice name BitterCup ;-)

    I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head with the binary status effects. My prediction is that all the nerfs will go through.

    How much further proof do people need that ol’ Jack can’t design his way out of a paper bag?

  8. I have pretty much given up on CoX. The first months-long run through after the launch of CoH showed me that I couldn’t solo with any speed worth a damn (unless I deigned to play a scrapper), and I’d have to suck it up and group with a half-dozen idiots named Wloverine to get anywhere, and I quickly burned out on CoV with the horribly repetitive missions. I go back from time to time to see how much weaker nearly everything’s been made, play with costumes, and fly around for a bit, but door missions are about as interesting as AdventureQuest, and it’s that or grinding outdoors. The levelling process has never been much in the way of gameplay.

  9. With me and CoX, it’s always this weird balancing act between the gameplay boring me and the game setting thrilling me.

    I absolutely love flying in as Starbinder, my grav/kinetics controller, or Dr. Paradox, my robots/FF mastermind, and kicking ass. I love it for about an hour. And then I get bored and play something else, until I feel like being a comic book character again.

    I’m currently running a tabletop RPG set in the CoX universe using the Mutants & Masterminds rules. Good stuff.

Comments are closed.