Thursday 2 May 2013

Legendary item uniqueness and its link to build diversity

Yesterday during Diablo discussions we brought up a few topics related to item and build diversity that I wanted to expand upon using an example. The concepts that we were speaking of were:
  • Legendaries that have specific affixes not available on rares
  • Legendary procs/properties that scale with various stats
  • Legendary procs/properties that synergize with specific skills
  • Legendaries that are designed to encourage certain play styles and builds
  • Legendaries leading to gear polarization/different prioritization of stats

In an ideal world I think that if someone was playing a build that you never saw before and you took a look at their armory, your first thought should be “What is this guy/girl smoking?”; however, after looking through their gear choices, the synergy and scaling between their gear, skills and procs and after doing some runs with them this person that they actually have a badass build that is on par with the cookie cutter build you’ve been playing all along. Achieving this is obviously not a simple task and requires a lot of balancing.

Sample build: This example is purely an illustrative one that is obviously not completely balanced, but demonstrates the concepts and their importance.

Bloodbeam WD (After finishing writing this I realize the damage output is probably a bit too high…)

First glance on stats from gear when unbuffed:

2500 int, 1000 str, 1000 dex, 45% ias, no crit stats, 400 all res (including base int), 3000 armor, 50k HP, 500 DPS 11% IAS 3% lifesteal dagger socketed with... A TOPAZ to hit 20k thorns (going to introduce thorns legendary so that this number isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds with current standards).

First glance at their skill setup:!gTY!ZaabYb

At this point if you never saw this before you should be thinking “Um……”

However, the WD has a few unique legendaries on him that have some interesting text associated with them:

Legendary WD Helm: +2000 thorns and “Blood spilled returns to haunt your foes” (or something less lame sounding)

Legendary offhand: +3000 thorns damage and “Offense is the best defense” (again not the coolest sounding thing…)

Legendary belt: “Chance to unleash the Angel’s wrath to punish the weak” (I’m a scientist alright! Get off my back about flavor text!)

Legendary glove: +25% damage to holy skills

So let’s look at the first unique item ability:

“Blood spilled returns to haunt your foes”
Creates an AoE damage circle (similar to SW on monks) around you and your pets that can proc whenever you are hit, this can stack up to 3 times and will last 5 seconds, damage dealt is holy damage. The animation would be similar to SW but with droplets of blood spinning around you.

The base proc rate is 5%, but scales up to 80% based on the total amount of strength you have and hitting 99% max of 80% asymptotically at 2000 str. At 1000 str the proc rate would be ~55%.

The base radius of the circle is 8 yards, but scales up to 20 yards based on the total amount of dexterity you have hitting 99% max of 20 yards asymptotically at 2000 dex. At 1000 dex the radius would be ~16 yards.

The base damage normally scales off of thorns damage doing 33, 66 and 100% depending on stacks; however, for every 500 int the scaling in increased 1 fold. So unbuffed 2500 int would be 5 more; 5 + 1 (base) = 6x scaling coefficient on 20k thorns = 120k DPS, but fully buffed (4430 int) we now have a 9.86x scaling coefficient meaning 197k DPS.

Then throw on the fact that because we went with Fierce loyalty, your pets also have thorns damage and will also do 120-197k DPS in their swirly majiggers. And on top of that we’ll be doing an extra 25% damage from these sources because of the legendary glove we got, so you and your 3 zombie dogs will be doing: 150/246k DPS in a 16 yard radius around you when you’re at full stacks. This will allow you to just plow through trash while having all 4 of you converge on a pack of elites to get overlap of these circles leads to almost 1M DPS.

“Offense is the best defense”
Simple ability here: For every 1000 points of thorns damage you receive 20 all res and 200 armor.

So now that 20k thorns gives us a bonus of 400 all res and 4000 armor, so our total mitigation is 400 + 400 + 1930*0.1 = 993 all res fully buffed, and 3000 + 4000 = 7000 armor OR when using haunt, 10000 armor. Take into account the fact that you could use jungle fortitude and get your dogs to tank 10% for you, all of sudden you’re able to get away with just 3% LS.

“Chance to unleash Angel’s wrath to punish the weak”
This proc is a chain lightning like ability that is checked every time you attack, but the animation is a white/yellow beam type thing that deals holy damage.

The base proc rate is 5%. This value is also increased by up to 80% depending on the amount of dex you have topping out at 2000 similar to before. With 1000 dex we’d get 55% proc rate.

The number of targets that it jumps to (cannot jump to the same target consecutively) is determined by user’s strength. Base rate is 2, but increases up to a maximum of 10 depending on strength using diminishing returns. Let’s say that with 1000 str we hit 7 targets with a 50% chance to jump to an 8th.

Finally the damage of the proc is determined by the base value and has a 2 multipliers based on the degree of slow on the mob and the user’s Int. The first multiplier can be increased by up to a bonus 500% depending on the amount of slow on the mob. With 80% slow you would get a 4x multiplier, with 92% slow (poison darts and one of the other slows) you would get a 4.6x multiplier. The int multiplier would be similar to before where every 500 int adds 100% damage. So if the base was 5000 dmg, we would have: 5000 * (1+4.6) * (1+2500 or 4430/500) = 168k or 276k damage PER target. Finally let’s not forget that we get an extra 25% bonus damage since its holy so we do a total of 210k or 345k damage each time.

Now you see why this WD stacked 45% IAS on a 1.67 APS weapon to get 2.42 attacks/s. At the 55% proc rate you’d be launching 1.33 of these beams/sec on average which would decimate elites whenever you encountered them. Poison dart is also one of the best choices here since its fast, long range, costs little mana and provides a 100% chance of slowing (although slow spiders could still be viable).

Now that we’ve gone over what a potential build would be like let’s analyze how it fulfills the concepts mentioned earlier:

Legendaries that have specific affixes not available on rares
3 of the legendaries here have very unique procs/abilities on them that you could make an entire build around alone. The last +25% bonus to holy is like the WKL where despite the sheet DPS loss, depending on your skills used you can get a large DPS gain.

Legendary procs/properties that scale with various stats
We made the proc rates and utility of the spell here scale off of non-primary stats and thorns. Normally a WD would really only consider getting Str for the purpose of Armor, otherwise they’d ignore non-primary stats. Thorns in this build increases both the offensive power and defensive power of it.

Legendary procs/properties that synergize with specific skills
Here we have the swirly AoE DPS that works wonderfully with pets once they have the fierce loyalty passive. Furthermore, we have synergy between the multitude of slows that the WD possesses and holy chain lightning proc.

Legendaries that are designed to encourage certain play styles and builds
This kind of setup makes pets extremely strong since they actually do damage with stats that you can control! Furthermore, it rewards playing a bit more ranged since slowing the enemies now provides increased damage output as well as utility.

Legendaries leading to gear polarization/different prioritization of stats
The stats sought after by this build are completely different than the normal bears build that focuses on Crit stats and Int and only overlaps with 0CD ZDs really in the department of IAS. We’re going for as much thorns when gearing for this build while picking up a lot of non-primary attributes in addition to getting Int.

One last point about these items that I wanted to make is that in order to balance it out and get the items out faster, I believe that Blizz needs to use the PTR and players more. When these items are designed and you feel confident with them, make an announcement and put them on the PTR. Let the players try it out and see if they can break the game with the item. Depending on how over/underwhelming the builds that emerge from it, adjust the procs and damage accordingly. The main point is that you don’t have to wait till you finished ALL of the items and test them all the PTR all at once. I think it would be much better is players could be more focused on certain elements rather than getting a smorgasbord of changes thrown at them.

I want to end by saying this is in reality only half of the equation. The larger paradigm for determining what builds succeed and fail is dependent on both the player side as well as the environment side and I’ll make a post about the latter variable on a later date.

So for those who managed to make it this far down the wall of text I’m wondering what you guys think of these concepts as the fundamental building blocks for how legendaries should be designed in the future and/or even examples of how these could be applied.