Champion Developer Diary

Dev-diary-pic

Turbine released a new developer diary this week talking about the Champion.  Here are some of the highlights and my thoughts.

Forming the Definitions of the Lines

classes_championThe Berserker Champion, to me, served as the single target specialist. They relied on multi-strike skills to quickly whittle down their opponents. It made sense to build this line further into a single-target, crit based burst class. They may be squishier than the Martial Champion, but their ability to chew through enemies and the bonuses from killing units makes them very strong. For example, Berserkers get a passive that can proc off of their skills that adds a stacking buff that increases the critical chance and critical damage to their next Remorseless Strike Critical Hit. The Berserker could use this to burst an opponent down or they could use all their fervour on killing one enemy and when he dies, the champion is healed and instantly gains full fervour which means they can turn and then deal a huge critical hit to their next opponent to open up combat.

The red line has been a great source of DPS for the Champion.  It sounds like they are planning to continue this trend by making the red line much more powerful.  That makes this Champion smile.

The Deadly Storm put more of a focus on Area Effect Blade skills. To me, they felt like a whirlwind of destruction that would focus on taking down as many people as they could at once. For example, deadly storm has a passive that says every time they are hit they gain a stack of Born for Combat. At ten stacks, they gain an Area Effect skill that deals heavy damage to all enemies around them. This means the more people that are hitting the champion, the more damage they output through this passive. Combine this with the Area Effect Damage debuff from Horn of Champion, and the Deadly Storm can chew through large amounts of enemies at once.

I have always liked the storm line but I it does seem like the weakest build.  I really like the idea of the more enemies you have, the more powerful you become.  This could allow you to take on more enemies at a time which is exciting.

Finally the Martial Champion was unique to me because it was a tank who didn’t necessarily care about a shield or mitigating damage, they just wanted to run up to things and soak up damage. So this masochistic nature has been fully realized in the Martial Champion. They have a chance to gain fervour when struck in combat, gain damage and parry when they are crit, and have a legendary skill that makes them more powerful over time.

The martial champion has always been great at taking damage.  Many people don’t give him credit but I have been the sole Champion tank on T2 in a 12-man back in the Isen days.  I haven’t tired the line sense because it got a little boring but these changes do sound interesting.

Stances

When working on the trait set bonuses, it became clear that each of these lines were tied directly to the stance they had before the revamp. While we played around with figuring out a way these stances could still exist for everyone, it felt more and more like a waste of a few skills. The champion didn’t feel like it used the different stances enough and instead they sort of just felt like passives you had to turn on and leave on. So they became passives that the trees would grant a champion. Now there were some things that needed to change with them becoming passives and we have addressed them make them feel more impactful and less penalizing. Some Example of this would be removing the Parry and Evade penalties from Fervour or giving Ardour -% Power Cost for all skills per pip of Fervour they have.

Stances are now passives in each tree.  That is a huge change.  To make your character really good though, usually you would only have the stance you were deepest into.  This could be good but I will have to wait and see.

Hybridization and skill revamp

One thing that was very important to us was to make sure that we constructed our trees in such a way that encouraged hybridization. With the champion, it was a difficult process of deciding which skills should be tied to a tree’s specialization and what should be placed in a tree for others to be able to obtain. In the end, I think we found a nice balance of skills throughout all the trees that act as low hanging fruit for others to grab. For example, if you are a berserker and feel like you are chewing through your power, you can invest into the Martial Champion tree to obtain Second Wind for a big power restore. Need some more healing? Invest further into the Martial Champion tree and grab Dire Need for a bigger heal.

Second Wind also is a good example for how some of the skills are being revamped. When working with Second Wind, the duration of the skill with the cooldown made it feel like my champion had a passive that I had to click every x seconds. So it has not been revamped to consume all fervour on the champion and instantly give the champion power back based on the number of fervour pips consumed. This adds a really fun mechanic for a specialization like the Martial Champion because if you combine Battle Frenzy, Dire Need, and Second Wind; you get this Pips to Power to Health rotation. This allows the Champion tank to manage his resources while tanking which when used right can be very powerful.

This is my favorite part of the whole diary.  Why?  It shows us that hybridization is viable with the skill tree system.  That is something that hasn’t been really confirmed.  We haven’t received any good examples until now.

While I am still worried about the changes that are being made to the Champion, I am glad they pointed out hybridization.  That is a huge deal and I am glad they seem to really be thinking it out for what the player wants instead of what they think we want.  Overall I think there is definitely potential with the Champion changes.  I can say now that some of my worries are gone.

What do you think of the changes coming to the Champion?

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6 comments

  1. Avatar of Brax

    Not a ton of info, but still the best class diary we’ve gotten to date. They did need to do something about the stances.

  2. Avatar of Lilikate Buggins.

    Interesting to see… Waiting for the others… I wanna see yeller line hunters.

  3. Avatar of Kaleigh Starshine

    Everywhere one would venture on their own in these lands is easy enough to the point where you could be any class, and trait however you might like, and be fine.

    But I have to say that, after reading this diary, I have some very grave concern regarding fellowship and group endeavors.

    I believe that Champions, as they stand now, are the most powerful soldier ever to walk Middle-earth. And there are many I know, who have knowledge of different lands both old and current, who believe that Champions are the most powerful soldier to ever walk in the history of lands of this sort since their inception. [MMO's they call them ;)]

    There are many reasons for this, but the one that makes Champions unique is that, of all the other soldiers both here and in other lands, the ability to strike at many has always come with a cost, whether a lack of survivability, or doing less damage to the many than can be done to just one foe, or what have you. Champions bring the same level of destruction to the many as the one, and maybe even more.

    I believed Champions were overpowered even back when they had the -30% Incoming Healing penalty while in Fervour. From what we can see, this is how they will stand with the coming changes:

    - The mitigations of Heavy Armor, shared by only two of the other eight classes here (Guardians and Captains). And those mitigations are incredible. I have to equip many, many, many items and virtues solely to build my tactical mitigation to equal that of my Cousin, who is a Captain, that she gets from just wearing heavy armor. And where I have long passed the point of diminishing returns for doing so, she can add just a small amount for a huge gain, if she wanted.

    - The capability of having avoidances (Block/parry/evade) as good as any other soldier, save for those who use shields {Warden, Guardian, Minstrels who should not be getting hit in the first place, and maybe Captains, though it is not clear) This line from the diary blew me away: Some Example of this would be removing the Parry and Evade penalties from Fervour

    - In my opinion, the best crowd control in these lands. First of all, the best crowd control is death, of course, and Champions deal that like none other. But whereas a Scout, or a Loremaster might render one foe dazed for half a minute, or more, and maybe keep them out of the fight entirely, Champions can keep an entire horde stun-locked for a minimum of 23% of the time: 3 seconds of stunning from their horn blast, then 10 seconds of immunity to stuns before blasting them again. In actually, it is more like 50% however, as most things will fall well before 13 seconds pass while within a Champion’s presence. And the foes stunned by the Champion can be struck while they are controlled, unlike those dazed by Loremasters and Burglars, or rooted by Hunters or what have you.

    - The greatest potential for dealing damage to multiple foes at once, bar none.

    - For right now, they have an answer for most anything thrown at them: Blood-rage for when they are stunned, Hedge for when they are disarmed, and so on. This may change with the reduced number of skills, but this will likely not hurt Champions as much as the other classes, and in fact will give them an incredible benefit over most every other class.

    Champions are one of the classes with fewer skills, which means they will be losing less flexibility than the other classes when we are all brought down to 20 skills, for one. We can already see that from the diaries. Whereas a Scouts’ tricks are now being gated behind their skill trees, and Captains’ marks the same, Champions’ stances are now being made passive bonuses, freeing up more skill slots for other things. It may be that Champions will be able to get the passives bonuses from two of what used to be their stances at one time. Maybe even three. Who can say?

    But something I feel may absolutely cripple group play for we Scouts, and even for most of the other soldiers, is the benefit coming to classes with more focused lines that do different, more unique things.

    For example, we Scouts will basically be doing single-target fighting, regardless of what line we use. The Quiet Knife line is our most damaging line. Gamblers can do a variety of things, but the end result is near to the same: Damage, some debuffing, etc. It is merely done in a different way. Mischief-Makers will help add to the damage of the group, with Reveal Weakness and Counter Defense, at the cost of the damage they do themselves. All three lines do basically the same thing, just in varying ways, and retraiting during an adventure will not give them much more use. I will come back to this idea soon, but a quick detour… :)

    As of this writing, it has been over a year since I have been invited to join in a 3-person adventure from the glyphs [GLFF :)]. The last time I was invited to join in one was before the passes into Rohan first opened. There are many reasons for this, all of which are Scout related, but they mostly boil down to a lack of Efficiency. We can only deal with one target at a time.

    If I beg, borrow, and steal, I can sometimes convince others to have me along for 6-person adventures, but when I am, it is mostly because they cannot find others to go instead, namely Champions.

    Two Champions and one healer can do the Challenges on Tier 2 of any 3-person adventure.

    5 Champions and a healer can do the Challenges on Tier 2 of any 6-person adventure.

    And there will never be a group more efficient than either of those.

    The one thing I can sometimes point to, as a reason why I should be allowed to come along for these adventures is that we Scouts are good against single foes, and there are many bosses that must be faced. However, more and more, as time has gone on, this has become more rare, and most bosses have hordes with them, like the Goblin Kings of Goblin Town, and the dozens of spiders in the Scuttledells.

    A quick example of this: The Challenge for the Seat of the Great Goblins adventure is to bring down all would-be Goblin Kings within 4 minutes. My cousin, the Captain, and her Champion friend can do so with nearly a minute and a half to spare, whereas we have never succeeded in completing this Challenge when I have been the main damage-dealer, even with three of us there, as opposed to only the Captain and Champion, who can do so taking barely more than half the time allowed.

    But to the point that we Scout can say we are meant for Bosses and single-target fights. Very soon, all a Champion will have to say is, “Let me prepare for this fight”, and they can ready their skills for single-target fights as well, with a greater focus than even we Scouts can bring.

    I am in fear, I am in fear, I am in fear that what is beyond difficult will now become next to impossible very soon, that being finding a place within groups that are holding out for Champions. I truly and sincerely do not see a role for any other class whose main role is dealing damage to foes anymore, save for foes that reflect all melee damage, but those are very, very rare.

    I wrote of two trends here that I have seen over time before: that things have become easier over time, and that the content of expansions has become less over time. There is a third one that applies here: that the content we are seeing is being made more proportionally to the individual rather than to groups over time.

    This is absolutely the case with Helm’s Deep: Epic Battles will be the only group content, and some of the battles within it are not made for groups, 2 of the 3 combat roles within the Epic Battles are non-combative and likely are dealt with on individual bases rather than within a group. It may even be that those in the Vanguard role fight separately, as there has been nothing specific written about that aspect.

    I fear the Overlords are looking at the different classes and roles we have here within that context, the context of the individual, much more so than our roles within groups, and I fear this trend will continue over time. I fear that the opportunity to fight alongside friends will continue to diminish, and I am very worried for that.

    • Avatar of Andang

      I would totally disagree that Champions are the most overpowered class. Wardens are much more powerful especially since they are no longer limited by power. That being said, Champions are on the side of being more powerful than others right now. I really hope that changes! I hate not worrying about dying anymore on my champion. I haven’t had to worry since Moria and that was only because I didn’t understand the LI system at the time.
      I do think that with less skills though, they will be less powerful. I hope they become that way. All we can do right now is simply trust the people in BETA helping Turbine test.

      • Avatar of Kaleigh Starshine

        Oh, I think Wardens are more survivable than Champions, to be sure. But the reason there are so few of us Scouts about right now is due to.,, a lot of things, really, but Wardens are not one of them.

        When you combine the damage-dealing, survivability, crowd control, meaningful versatility, and soon to be flexibility that Champions will have, I just cannot imagine anyone ever taking a Scout over one certainly, nor anything else, though we still need to see what is coming for the other classes.

        I hope things will get more difficult as well. The classes were designed and balanced for a dangerous world, and I think things being so easy now is the major factor in why there is such imbalance now. Defensive measures are no longer needed, really, and it is in that type of environment that Champions really shine.

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