Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kongai: I Respond

I'm about a month late to respond to this so by way of apology, I'll spin it out into a post.

Way back when I wrote this:

"Oh, interesting update in the pipeline, too. I'm especially looking at the changes to Andromeda who I really think needs them. Or at least something to help her in the range game. Helene, meh, reality diverging from my expectations again but I don't like changes that make her more like Ashi and less like herself. She's definitely a problem, especially with Valkyrie but I'd rather hit her damage and interrupt proc instead of her speed."

To which Chad responded in the comments:

Hey, getting to this a little late, but...

"Sirlin almost did lower the proc, but I was one of the voices begging him NOT to do this and to lower the speed instead. Lowering the speed is sneaky in that it looks like a nerf but it's really not because it stops pretty much all the important stuff it used to stop. Making it proc less would basically make it worthless (way too much energy to spend on something so conditional when you have SS/Frenzied), except when you really need it, when it's worse than the slower version.

As it stands now, the attack does what it's supposed to do. It stops Pilebunker, it stops ToD, it stops most vampire drain attacks, meanwhile noobs can stop crying because they got "locked down" by an attack that really can't be spammed unless you allow it. Win all around imo."

Fairly well on point. And a pretty good articulation of the opposite tack from mine - Chad illustrates the reasons why you'd want to lower the speed instead of the proc, namely that it's a nerf that doesn't affect her core functionality while still removing some gross abuse. And that was the way the game eventually went.

And yet, in retrospect, it looks like the v1.8 changes to Helene didn't leave her "very good" but, instead, knocked her out of the running almost entirely. That's certainly the way it's looked in the past week in the few brief glimpses I've had of the game and the people talking about it; Helene is no longer a top-tier character and, in fact, is very nearly circling the drain. Especially when compared to Ashi. Part of it is simply that people have learned to play. But part of it is that Helene doesn't have a distinct enough niche anymore and what she does do that distinguishes her from the other close-range bangers she doesn't do well enough.

Which was, basically, my point although I didn't articulate it very well. Helene is a card that's always straddled that fine line between being too good and not good enough. One that easily could be an overpowered monster and one that could just as easily be a feeble mess (I obviously favor making her as good as possible since she's something of a pet character for me. The kind of interesting character who could be adding a lot of complexity to the game. More, at least, than step and swing with Ashi or Oni's resistance shuffle.).

Because, once you get people learning how to actually change ranges, Helene absolutely collapses. She's doesn't have a way to deal with it. And the way she is supposed to deal with it - Enchant Blades - doesn't work.

Shield Bash was never really a problem. It was only an issue because of the people who'd sit there and take two in the face before getting a Frenzied - and with Valk's there was nothing they could do about it. Lowering the speed or changing the proc it was all about giving Helene players a reason to worry when they got into that situation so it wasn't so abusive. But it wasn't necessary, the point was just to break people out of that bad habit. If anything, she needed more buffing.

But Helene wasn't a good card, she was just a card that people thought was good. Now that people have actually learned how to range her flaws have come into sharp relief. And her strengths have been so consistently toned down that they no longer matter.

I'll put it this way; I used to be afraid of Frenzied one-hitting. Now, I pretty much think that it has to.

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