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[.10] Design Philosophy for Class Function and Balance

Graham Wolsey

Scholar
Denver Staff
Marshal
I strongly believe the central problem for this rules rewrite is a lack of unified vision concerning what Alliance is and how the classes should be balanced. Balance doesn't mean which class would win in a 1v1 fight, but it certainly must mean that each class excels in a different area of expertise. These areas of expertise should include what classes excel at in 1.3 as well as providing new definition and possibly an expanded role in the new version of the rules.

My vision for the classes is as follows:

Fighter: Most defensive class.
Should be best at: Body/armor, takeout protection (Tied with Rogue), melee sustained damage from the front, getting enemy attention, dealing with swarms.
Should be worst at: Takeouts(Offense not Defense), mobility, stealth, ranged attacks, burst damage (better than earth caster), non-"tank" utility.
New Areas: Taunts, Non-Skirmish (immobile) expertise, Leadership, more Takeout Protection, Shield Focus, Needs a TOP END PROGRESSION

Rogue: Best class at offense (Should be better than Celestial Scholar)
Should be best at: Mobility, takeout protection (tied with fighters), damage from the Back/Flanking, avoiding focus, stealth/aggro drop, ranged damage from any side, poisons/poison based takeouts.
Should be worst at: Dealing with swarms.
New Areas: Mobility, "Aggro Drop", Increase damage from behind frequency, Additional Poison Focus, Crossbow Focus, Florentine/Claw Focus, Needs a TOP END PROGRESSION

Rogue vs Fighter: I think we can better distinguish these classes from each other by adding new abilities that focus on the mobility of the two classes. We can also distinguish between the two by making the Fighter desire enemy attention while the Rogue seeks to avoid it. Make Rogues highly mobile melee combatants that can jump in and out of combat and have small windows of immunity from all effects while running away. Make Fighters better at standing in one place and being hard to kill. Give Fighters a "taunt" style command ability that force an enemy to focus on the Fighter. Give Rogues a "Shun" style command effect that forces the enemy to avoid the Rogue. Fighters should get more defensive abilities including a reskinned dodge while Rogues should be better at offense than Fighters. I'd suggest halving the cost of Assassinate and Terminate and allowing Rogues to buy twice as many. Rogues should get poisons that are only usable by Rogue/Scout/Adepts while Fighters should get outstanding shields and armor that is usable only by Fighter/Scout/Templar. Both melee classes getting a 5 second silence effect would also be nice to mimic disarm. If it gets a top end progression, I'd suggest removing Eviscerate from a Fighter's arsenal.

Celestial Scholar: Best ranged burst class. Huge utility.
Should be best at: Burst damage from range, takeouts (tied with Earth Scholar), non-defensive utility, flexibility, offense-based buffs, formal magic (tied with Earth Scholar).
Should be worst at: Body/Armor (Tied with Earth Scholar), melee damage (Tied with Earth Scholar), defensive utility.
New Areas: Low level reusable abilities, offense-based buffs for other classes, more flexibility in casting.

Earth Scholar: Best healing class. Huge utility.
Should be best at: Healing, Defense-based buffs, takeouts (tied with Celestial Scholar), formal magic (tied with Celestial Scholar), group buffs
Should be worst at: Body/Armor, melee damage, damage (when not using Chaos),
New Areas: Low level reusable abilities, separate healing/buff spells from takeouts and utility spells so the Earth caster doesn't have to make a choice between them, group buffs, more anti-undead abilities, make Necromancy more powerful

What area do other players believe the different classes should excel in?
 
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Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
I think each class should be capable of a spectrum between two “styles.”

Fighters: Defensive/Destroyer
Earth S: Debuff/Support
Cele S: Blaster/Support
Rogue: Assassin/Alchemist
 

Graham Wolsey

Scholar
Denver Staff
Marshal
Just like forced roleplay
Disarm, slow, bind legs, bind arms, shun, silence, sleep, charm, confine, paralysis, stun limb, prison, berserk, enslavement, fear, and many other effects I'm not thinking of constrain your options in combat and force roleplay.
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Disarm, slow, bind legs, bind arms, shun, silence, sleep, charm, confine, paralysis, stun limb, prison, berserk, enslavement, fear, and many other effects I'm not thinking of constrain your options in combat and force roleplay.
I believe Gilwing is referring to things like Love 9, Love, and maybe Enslavement, which force roleplay behavior.
 

Graham Wolsey

Scholar
Denver Staff
Marshal
I hate Love and Love 9. They just don't feel like appropriate effects in 2018.
 

DiscOH

Artisan
Rogue:
I don't think I've ever played a game where rogues were the best at offence. Usually rogues are some mix of utility melee, stealth, and puzzle combat. I think "invisibility" mechanics are awful in LARPs, so that gives rogues puzzle combat and utility. Backstab does an ok job of introducing combat minigames, but rogue doesn't really have much to contribute utilitywise. If I was going to fix rogues I would:
  • Give alchemy / traps some form of scaling (ROUGH EXAMPLE - blast orbs scale with alchemy, weapon traps scale with backstab)
  • Remove waylay (it works on too few enemies to be anything but frustrating)
  • Give terminate a minigame (ROUGH EXAMPLE - requires 3 consecutive unblocked hits which can't be smart guarded. Swing call is Terminate 1, Terminate 2, Terminate 3. Taking damage / missing ends the terminate attempt)
  • Disarm counts as a rogue skill for prerequisites
Scout:
I think Scouts are the thematic DPS class for Alliance (lower HP than fighters, less utility than rogues), and 2.0 damage progression goes a long ways towards making this a reality.

Fighter:
I agree that fighters are thematically the "tank class", but I don't think they need any sort of taunt effect.
I would like to see fighters have
  • partial CC immunity (like the reaver in 0.9's prestige packet. It downgraded effects. For instance any binding > slow. Any command > berserk)
  • healing affinity (increased healing received / natural regeneration)
Celestial:
Celestial scholars have no real function. People say they should be the burst casters of alliance, but the only spells that do that are the new storm effects. Evocation is mathematically irrelevant in so much as single packet "take outs" are more effective than single packet "take damage". Wands do "stuff", but only after 30 levels. I would like to see:
  • Wands removed from the game
  • More multi packet spells
  • Area denial (ROUGH EXAMPLE - Wall of debuff, Circle of Slow, a Wall of Force that lets friendlies pass through)

Earth:
Earth scholars are great on paper but are boring to play. I would like to see:
  • More interactive ways to support (ROUGH EXAMPLE - intercept as an earth high magic ability)
  • More effective forms of necromancy (ROUGH EXAMPLE - Free Critical Attack on Killing Blow; Cause serious wounds also self heals when cast)
  • Life spell level reduced OR Death / Corruption / Killing Blow have solutions other than earth casters


Templar / Adept:
These classes don't have much synergy in 2.0 aside from being able to use counterspell rituals. If I had the ability to rewrite these classes (which I don't) I would make the following changes:
  • Templar would be earth only
  • Adept would be celestial only
  • Pyramids ends at lower levels (more lower level spells, no high level spells)
  • Damage scales with spells purchased
Artisan:
Artisans are supposed to be the best at "out of combat" item creation, but when's the last time you went to an artisan to get a ritual performed?
  • High magic is unlocked by spending XP in celestial/earth skills rather than 9th level spell slots (so scrolls / potions can unlock high magic)
 
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Muir

Fighter
Returning Wall of Force to being able to be free standing as opposed to only in portals would go a long way towards making it tactically useful, and not just a fake Wizard Lock.
 

Simon

Adept
Okay, a few things....

This is a LARP, not a video game. Drop the "taunt" and "Drop Agro" stuff, and leave it to video games where its just math and fingers to begin with.

Mobility, Stealth, Leadership, Taunting, and "agro" have more to do with playing the game than your stat card. No efforts should be made to change this.

If Celestial Casters are supposed to be great burst damage classes then the crit stacking and back attack attacking needs to go away to keep this competitive. A column for a scholar is 25 build. Sure you can get 520 point of damage per column if you do nothing but take storm after storm and no non-evocation spells anywhere, but your biggest burst is 20 points one, and almost all you do is throw 10's. Now you have to hit with all the packets, and every packet missed results in a "timeout" to meditate. The fighter in the mean time can be swinging 10's constantly for 10 minutes, so one swing per 3 seconds is a possible 2,000 points of damage with no need to meditate ever. Raw potential just does not stack up to the assertion. now add in eviscerates against the body and armor bloat and Celestial damage is not looking to be worth thinking about.

Personally the best solution would be where the rules committee concerns itself much less with how rules are utilized to the needed effects to play the game and just asks if the game flow is adequate, and if the necessary game roles are possible and enjoyable. In short they are:

Melee combat

Owning Real Estate (i.e. holding a line)

Ranged Combat

Healing

Information Gathering would also be another possibility, but I think a game that cannot get the first few right ought stay away from dealing with this more complex one that carries with it a very different basis of satisfaction that can often cost effectiveness in other venues.

So Please take a step back, reassess the venue and try again please.

Joe Siegel
 

Graham Wolsey

Scholar
Denver Staff
Marshal
Okay, a few things....

This is a LARP, not a video game. Drop the "taunt" and "Drop Agro" stuff, and leave it to video games where its just math and fingers to begin with.

Mobility, Stealth, Leadership, Taunting, and "agro" have more to do with playing the game than your stat card. No efforts should be made to change this.
I agree with most of your post.

I'm assuming based on the quoted text you have a strong opposition to the Shun, Charm, and Berserk spells?

The problem with Fighters as "Owning Real Estate" is that they don't have Pin or Taunt or Shun or any effect that controls the behavior of the enemy. Right now there is literally nothing that stops an enemy from walking right past them to kill targets that matter. In the current rules Fighter's damage prevents this, however in the new rules Fighters don't have any damage.
 

Simon

Adept
Graham Wolsey,

As far as the three effects you mention I have different answers:
Shun - I do not have much of a problem as it still allows the other player to intelligently react to the situation.
Charm - I do not mind but also do not care for the effect as it is very subjective. To be clear, the "if you are playing it right" amount to a grade school popularity poll opinion metric, which is to say no metric at all. So while I do not have a problem with the effect I do not trust other players not to create an issue at some arbitrary time.
Berserk - No problem at all.
All Encompassing - This assessment in in line with the current rules set however, where there are a number of defenses and fixes available. Now try to tell me that you want me to use a skill like Mettle to mitigate and then fail to place any rule whereby I have any assurance that plot will not make misjudgments in stating such that all these effects flow out at an increased pace, taking players out of active participation at an increased pace and all the ripple effects from there which are not good for anyone other that some guy behind a desk enjoying the chaos and carnage, and now I have a big problem.

As far as "Owning Real Estate" it has less to do with damage output and more to do with being able to stand fast and not let people through you. This gravitates towards the shield fighter because they intercept the most stuff. In a world where there are no archers or where archers all effectively call massive all the time (I have seen it done) then this evens out a little towards two weapon fighters and Polearms as well, but still, the ability of a shield fighter to hold off multiple bodies is unsurpassed just because of Geometry. I have seen games where they really negate the ability of shields to be immune to damage from all kinds of sources and I have to tell you these games resulted in players being constantly out of action, massively unsafe combat, constant panic, and people getting tripped and stepped on as there is no ability to hold a line. In other words, even if you think negating the ability of a skill set of stand their ground and hold a line is good, my experience tells me otherwise. The trick is to think past the math on the paper, and about the flow of so many independent actors in the game.

I think my feeling with allot of this play-test is a fear the goal of smooth and free-flowing game play has been somewhere between "short shrift" and "completely ignored" and I sense an undertone of social engineering of outcomes by Rule Book which is wholly unhealthy. I think the goal of the rule set needs to veer strictly away from trying to dictate how people play, and stick to offering a list of capabilities people can choose to pick and utilize as they see fit to interact with the game world.

Joseph Siegel
 

Draven

Count
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Right now there is literally nothing that stops an enemy from walking right past them to kill targets that matter.
Outside of Stun Limb, Disarm/Shatter (assuming vs weapons), there is positioning.

An enemy cannot actually walk/run through you to get to said target. That’s illegal, and if your Marshals aren’t engaged on preventing that kind of dangerous behavior, that’s not a fault of the rules.

While I am in agreement that Fighters get screwed in the current proposition, they should discourage such enemies with position far more than with skills.
 

Muir

Fighter
The enemy does not have to walk through you. All they have to do is fight in such a way that you option is back up or fall down, and as their cards are disposable and yours is not, that is not a difficult prospect.

Part of the 'owning real estate' issue is that as written Fighters do not have a way to get the capabilities on their cards to take that sort of thing and not end up taking a swift dirt nap.
 

Simon

Adept
See there is allot about owning real estate the has to do with player skill. There is no way an unskilled fighter can.hold against a closely stated master player. This is part of being a LARP in that the player skill matters. Some of these rule read like an effort to remove that which is a need to player skill.
 

Muir

Fighter
Going to be blunt.

Skill shouldn't matter. That's the whole point of our ruleset and primary selling point. "Be all you can't be" is predicated on your character sheet mattering more than your OOG ability to throw hands.
 

Gilwing

Baron
Alliance Logistics
Going to be blunt.

Skill shouldn't matter. That's the whole point of our ruleset and primary selling point. "Be all you can't be" is predicated on your character sheet mattering more than your OOG ability to throw hands.
No matter how many magic items you have andwhat level you are you still need to have oog skill. You still need to hit your target. You still need to solve that puzzle (all oog skill). So yes, sorry but oog skill matters. Alliance is not stat card vs stat card. A level 1 character can take out a level 100 character.
 
Skills are supposed to support OOG skill and prop up a lack of OOG skill. Proficiencies are a great example. If OOG I am a terrible fighter and you are a great fighter, but I have more proficiencies, I still have a reasonable chance to win because I need to hit you fewer times than you need to hit me. The skill is literally helping to counter my lack of OOG skill, as it should.

It is the reason that I consider Legerdemain the worst skill in the game. It doesn't assist with a lack of OOG skill in any way. There is no support for those without OOG skill when it comes to disarming traps or picking locks.

But basically every other skill in the game does allow someone with mediocre to weak OOG skills to be more effective than their OOG skill says they should, just by gaining levels. Common examples are damage boosts, more spells (if you have more total spells, you can afford to miss more), healing, disabling skills, and smart defenses.

What this all means is that if there is an activity that we think a class should be good at, the IG skills should support this activity. I'm not sure I agree that fighters inherently should be able to own real estate. But assuming that is an activity that is assigned to fighters (or maybe all shield users) we should introduce skills that support that endeavor. Intercept is already at least one good example of this. Pin delivered as a weapon strike (or I guess leg Bind in the current iteration) would also work well. A Berserk weapon strike would also work well.

Like I said, I'm not even 100% sold on fighters holding real estate (mostly because I think of fighters more as strikers than as defenders), but it isn't hard to come up with basic support for such an endeavor. And that really is how all Alliance rules should work. We should ask the question of what activity do we want to support and then introduce ways that the IG skills both support and boost OOG skill in performing that activity.

-MS
 
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