The hyper offensive combat meta

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saladbowl
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The hyper offensive combat meta

Post by saladbowl » Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:46 pm

I'm splitting feedback into manageable chunks and posting them when reasonably polished instead of one massive horror of a post. Expect a lot of positive feedback when I cover equipment.

Tackle and death spirals

Tackle is a no risk, massive reward ability. Landing Tackle or similar knockdown move creates a death spiral in which you can easily stagger-lock (Dirtkick into Shield Bash, chain 10+ second Staggering Blow, etc.) enemies, and should they stand up, Tackle them again with ease due to their -25 Balance. Tackle has no margin of success: should Tackle beat a defense roll by a single digit, it wins with full effect. Despite the massive power it has a positive offensive reroll and no penalty for spamming/use at inopportune moments. This encourages spamming Tackle even when opponents are not in RT as whoever hits Tackle first wins the battle.

This theme applies across combat as a whole. Offensive options are plentiful without risks or engrossing strategy involved, granting both rerolls and fight ending potential without preparation due to Combat Readiness. Combined with the lack of defensive options this makes combat a game of rocket tag. It also causes problems when attempting to introduce abilities which aren't power creeped versions of other offensive abilities, limiting potential creativity and depth.

I hope the swing of Balance becomes far slower and Balance becomes far easier to recover from negatives, with fight winning -50 Balance massive stagger abilities becoming rare big deals instead of commonplace.

Vitals and active/passive defensive abilities

I think the limb damage system is great, especially compared to nebulous total HP counts. Unfortunately it serves little purpose in current combat. The way of winning fights is blitzing a vital to death before the same is done to you. This is achieved by aiming at the least protected vital at high combat skill or the chest at lower combat skill. Defensive abilities which encourage attacking locations other than vitals are much needed, especially active defensive abilities. I also think defensive and offensive abilities should always have a counter or way of lessening effects. Passive defensive abilities should be easy to bypass if you know what you're doing and opponents aren't using resources to sustain them.

The current suite of passive defensive abilities are too strong with no counterplay against them. Blade Catch are Cloak Parry are the worst offenders; I've used the phrase "Blade Catch-22" before, so I'll explain what I mean. Here's a rundown of Blade Catch, with most points also applying to Cloak Parry.
  • Activation: Always active with 10 second cooldown. Triggers when an attack is about to hit you. Ignores staggered, prone, blind in darkness, ambushed, unconscious and bleeding out, an off-hand with max possible damage and fracture, and even all those at the same time. Most passive effects share this trope. Blade Catch appears to have a far greater chance of activating than not when off cooldown.
  • Effect: Redirects hit to off-hand and sets damage to a flat amount regardless of DF. Blade Catch has a flat non-influenceable chance to reduce attacker Balance by 5 and possibly disarm.
  • Result: Blade Catch rewards bad play and punishes smart opponents. Considering Tactics: Dreadnought often then launches two counterattacks which stagger when hitting a vital (other than the back), attempting to capitalize on an opportunity can see attackers down a weapon, down 15 Balance, and eating 3 seconds of stagger for daring to think it was their turn to play.
This also explains how Blade Catch and further counterattacks negate T: Dreadnought's weakness even without Stability or Armor Deflection, for the best defense is the best offense. By the time an attacker has recovered to attack again they'll be wading through weapon reach, low opponent roundtime, and their own poor balance. Blade Catch will be off cooldown if they wait!

I advocate moving Blade Catch and Cloak Parry to active stance abilities which require resources to use. As an example for counterplay, aiming for the off-hand when Blade Catch is activated won't trigger a disarm or balance loss but still cuts damage by half. (Sidenote: Why does Blade Catch reduce damage at all? Hand armor has next to nothing on the insides, because if it did, you wouldn't be able to move your hand to grip a weapon or shield. Suspension of disbelief and all but it's half-funny half-sad when someone catches a polehammer spike for 3 puncture damage then disarms the weapon.)

If not damage, then what?

Right now everything is about damage. With abilities or mechanical changes which reduce the heavy emphasis on offense and damage, increasing time to kill by playing smart, room is created for debilitating opponents/buffing yourself to break defenses and create opportunities for attack. There are a lot of systems which are left by the wayside in current combat which can be hooked in for neat results.
  • Sharpness
  • Aim
  • Equipment durability
  • Attribute percents, overridden by attribute channels to keep them special
  • Skills
  • Fractures temporary or permanent
  • Weight
  • Armor encumbrance
  • Armor damage reduction
And more. Point being there's room for cool abilities when it takes preparation to OHK someone instead of using a knockdown and whatever flavor of offensive ability, then praying Cloak Parry or Blade Catch or similar passive defenses don't activate.
Last edited by saladbowl on Thu Jan 13, 2022 11:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Lexx416
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Re: The hyper offensive combat meta

Post by Lexx416 » Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:55 pm

One of the aspects of combat I consider quite a bit is how Stagger is kind of the End All Be All, and how so many abilities are flat out "It works or it doesn't" without margins of success.


I think keeping stagger as is and implementing a "lesser" version of that same condition (I would call it "daze"), and then having abilities and conditions that can induce stagger induce either Stagger or Daze depending on the melee endroll % - if you score 50% or greater against a defense roll with your attack, you get the full Stagger effect, but if you score under 50%, you inflict the Daze effect instead.


Having different conditions then follow this template of a Greater and Lesser version that operates on the margin of your success (for me at least) would make combat a little more interesting, and reduce some of the "Anti-Fun" effects of any ability or attack that generates stagger.
"You hear the Woses, the Wild Men of the Woods... Remnants of an older time they be, living few and secretly, wild and wary as beasts."

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Rias
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Re: The hyper offensive combat meta

Post by Rias » Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:01 am

This is some good feedback, and I'd love to hear some more suggestions on how to further refine the combat experience.

For stagger stuff, I've considered the lazy-but-effective brief stagger immunity (or perhaps resistance) after suffering one so that stagger-locking isn't the win method and instead people would need to vary up what they do. Stagger effects might also simply be too severe at the moment. The idea of scaling its effects has merit.

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Lexx416
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Re: The hyper offensive combat meta

Post by Lexx416 » Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:05 am

Rias wrote:
Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:01 am
This is some good feedback, and I'd love to hear some more suggestions on how to further refine the combat experience.

For stagger stuff, I've considered the lazy-but-effective brief stagger immunity (or perhaps resistance) after suffering one so that stagger-locking isn't the win method and instead people would need to vary up what they do. Stagger effects might also simply be too severe at the moment. The idea of scaling its effects has merit.
For me, the biggest bugbear is basically (as a berserker) getting staggered and having my balanced drained to negative levels. That basically turns off ALL of my active abilities aside from Shield bash, and is really a big ol' sprinkle of salt in the wound after being locked in stagger for 5-15 seconds. Maybe have the balance loss of those attacks scale with endroll efficacy as well? At one point, I started avoiding Combat Events, because fighting anything with dirt-kick or tackle basically meant I would either instantly die, or be locked out of doing anything proactive in combat aside from Attack or Shield Bash.
"You hear the Woses, the Wild Men of the Woods... Remnants of an older time they be, living few and secretly, wild and wary as beasts."

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Rias
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Re: The hyper offensive combat meta

Post by Rias » Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:24 am

Good call, the associated balance loss should probably scale as well.

The dream is to fill out combat with more abilities (that do things besides stagger/knockdown) and encourage more variety and active move rotations. I'd love to have a little meta of essentially knowing when to ideally play which card instead of just "use everything immediately off cooldown". For example: I like the idea of tackle -not- having those offensive rerolls, but instead being held in reserve until other setups have been used to allow for an effective move that wouldn't have necessarily been great to use right out the gate.

We need to find that fine line that keeps the combat experience interesting and feeling thoughtful and involved while also not being overwhelmingly complicated. I'm happy with the game's combat experience at a base level right now - much more so than its previous iterations in this game as well as The Other Game - but I would still prefer to see it improve from here to feel more deliberate and varied, and have different combat styles and methods that work for different classes and situations.

mahkefel
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Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:00 am

Re: The hyper offensive combat meta

Post by mahkefel » Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:47 am

I've not made it to higher level play, so I can't really give any sort of feedback with expertise but it feels like tackle is pretty overtuned. Just looking at the helpfile I can't imagine engaging in CvC with a warrior at higher level--it's not that they'll beat me in a fight due to their warrior kit versus my adventurer kit, it's that they'll tackle me once, dodge and acrobatics won't matter at all for defense, my character will hit the ground and that will be that.

In practice, an npc yesterday tackled my rogue, I typed drecover, succeeded, started typing stand and they dirtkicked me, keeping me on the ground with a new count of stagger. And that's an npc, not a savvy player trying to kill me. There's a bit of RNG and wild levels of inexperience on my part there, but I am going to say it feels pretty rough. I really, really want dodge to apply there (does it already and I don't know?)

Vaelin
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Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:29 pm

Re: The hyper offensive combat meta

Post by Vaelin » Fri Jan 14, 2022 12:48 pm

Atm, most of the time, we’re stuck on a single tactic. Here’s a few that might help, at least if they’re for everyone.
Recovery: only activatable during -5 balance and below. Increases your dodge/ parry/ block rolls, but decreases your attack rolls. This however doubles your balance recovery up to your base.
Pacifist- attempts to put you into avoid position when you’re not in rt
Also, I always thought that being able to tumble and flip when you’re unbalanced is a bit weird.

Fixes on blade catch, catching a strong enough hit should cause a little balance loss. Doing it at -25 will knock you down instead. Cloak parry should do the same, but instead of a knock down the cloak gets more damaged.

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