We become attached to skills, especially the ones that are used less. We become masters of knowing when to pull at that situational godsend. Then the developers take it away, or muddle it to the point where our mastery becomes nothing. Skill balances like this happen all the time, but there are things far worse… and they just happened, again.
ArenaNet made the genius move of splitting skills in PvE and PvP. Before they did that it was a complete mess. They would balance the skill, and it would get abused in Guild vs. Guild. Then they would nerf it to stop the spamming in PvP only to find that they ruined a few PvE builds. Consequently, boss X became impossible. It was a balance-puzzle they could never win, especially when nearly each year players got a massive glut of more skills from the new campaigns and expansions. So great, skills are split. Now something closer to balance is achieved in both PvE and PvP more easily. A greater problem occurs when balance cannot be achieved, even with the split, with how the skill can maintain functionality.
As an example case take the recently rebalanced Aegis skill – which enchants the party to get a 50% block rate for 5-11 seconds. It has been re-balanced eight times, and it was finally split after the sixth or seventh balance. Recently though, Aegis (PvP) – the PvP split version – had its functionality completely changed. Aegis (PvP) now enchants a targeted ally for 1-3 seconds so all hostile spells and attacks fail. The problem is not that the functionality was changed to shakeup the PvP scene. The problem is that Aegis and Aegis (PvP) are not the same skill split down and balanced for PvE and PvP, respectively. Now they are two completely separate skills. Now, I feel ArenaNet’s pain because if they had changed the PvE functionality as well a whole crop of PvE problems for mob difficulty could arise. Still, the skill split was supposed to elegantly handle the problem, and changing the same skill so that it no longer reflects its twin does not feel like it is the correct way. I think it will mostly confuse the more casual players.
Possible solution? Delete skills. Sure there will be an outcry, but the amount of “useless” skills in Guild Wars is pretty big. Paring down would help. Even better delete Aegis (PvP) and replace it with [New Skill Name That Is Reminiscent of Aegis] (PvP). Wizards of the Coast does it all the time with new additions to the tournament legal cards in the updated core sets and expansion blocks. Stop making Guild Wars skill system even more weighty and confusing than it already is.
The other fun skill happening was brought to us by Turbine in Lord of the Rings Online. Lord of the Rings Online skill system is very vanilla. Players have their core set of skills, buffs, debuffs, and situational skills all completely arranged on 5 hotbars. Some rarely ever see the light of a button press. Some get pressed 5 times every battle. The Mines of Moria expansion actually did a fantastic job of getting players to use some of the dusty skills, and things were good. Until the turtle came.
The “puzzle” in the Filikul raid is to tank swap before a tank gets overwhelmed with wounds. It’s not that hard, but it does require communication and some small amount of skill. Instead players decided it would be more fun to Enrage the turtle so it ignores agro and randomly attacks players throughout the battle. This way the wound would be evenly spread throughout the raid group. It does require that the healers be more on their toes, but with two minstrels and a captain or runekeeper in the background, the tactic works pretty well.
“That is not how we want this raid to be played,” said Turbine. Sure, they could have made it so Enrage does something to the turtle, like gives it knockback or makes it hit harder. Instead they just gave ol’ Yurtle Enrage immunity. Add that to the fellowship maneuver immunity already present, and the burglars are being shoehorned in to playing the raid exactly just so… if the raid wants them along at all. This seems to occur throughout Lord of the Rings Online where things need root, stun, fellowship manuever, etc. immunity. Instead of allowing a skill to work somehow (maybe stun slows the attack speed on “stun immune” bosses for some time), the skill just becomes worthless.
This is all coming from a Lord of the Rings Online Captain that lost my job as Last Stand / In Harm’s Way party immunizer, and was completely fine with the balance change.
just blame me