Today we're unveiling what the Fight Team has been working on for Year 6, Season 2. We'll be going in depth on these changes:
- Pirate Changes
- Bloodlust Nerf
- Conqueror Revamp
- Shaolin Revamp
- Testing Grounds news
There's a lot to cover, so let's get started!
We've been monitoring multiple sources of feedback as well as internal data concerning Pirate and found the hero to be overperforming in some situations, so we're making some adjustments to curb down some of the stronger aspects of the hero while also fixing some other issues.
Side Dodge Attacks
- Side Dodge Attacks are now 600ms, up from 533ms
We've decided to slow down Pirate's Side Dodge Attacks. At this speed, they should still be able to beat bashes and perform well but should also be easier to deal with; 533ms attacks are generally harder to parry for many players, whereas 600ms is much easier. They should also be easier to peel, which should lower the effectiveness of her dodge cancels enough that they are slightly weaker in group fights.
Pistol Blast (after block/miss)
- Pistol Blast (after block/miss) now moves 2.5m, down from 3m.
We initially intended for this move to be used easily in group fights and catch opponents who are too far away from Pirate by alternating between chained Heavy attacks and Pistol Blast; however, at this range, players could perform backstep Heavy to Pistol Blast and still catch opponents in 1v1 scenarios. This is a scenario we wanted to avoid with Pirate as it gave her a second good opener; the intention is that Pirate's opener is her Cavalier Dance (Dodge Forward Heavy), and not a bash easily accessible from neutral. This change also reduces Pirate's effectiveness in outnumbered scenarios slightly and pushes for Pirate players to use dodge cancels into Cavalier dance for a riskier long-range attack.
Walk the Plank
- Top version no longer has extra range
- Now has less range overall
- Recovery of the Knee variant now has 1500ms of recovery (up from 1300ms)
- Pistol Blast from Walk the Plank now costs 6 stamina (down from 15)
- Pistol Blast from Walk the Plank now feeds 30 revenge (up from 5)
There's a lot to talk about with Walk the Plank. The move is a strong ganking tool on top of being good in 1v1 scenarios where it can keep Pirate's chain going and giving the hero a powerful mix-up with the guardbreak soft feint; we like these aspects of the move as it gives another option in Pirate's limited arsenal of moves.
It did, however, have a few issues that we're addressing in this update. We're fixing the bug where the Top version had extra range over the side versions; this should make the move consistent regardless of which stance you choose to use. We also reduced the overall range of the move by 0.5m; this will make the move whiff more often, lowering its effectiveness, especially when used after backstepping an opener.
We're also addressing the issue of Walk the Plank being able to combo into itself; when properly spaced, players could perform Walk the Plank -> Knee -> Backstep Light -> Walk the Plank, giving Pirate an overly strong option in both 1v1 situations and in ganking situations. We've slowed down the recovery of the Knee option to be slightly slower so the situation can no longer occur. This should reduce the effectiveness of the move enough that it is still a strong option but no longer enable unintended combos.
Finally, we're addressing the Pistol Blast perform from Walk the Plank. We fixed the bug with its stamina cost - the move is a Combo move and should respect the rules we have in place for stamina costs with combo moves and should cost 6 stamina. However, the move was also not feeding enough revenge; this let Pirate have a stronger gank that expected, and so we've set the Revenge it feeds to 30 to lower the move's ganking potential.
Overall, we're hoping these changes to Pirate will help make the hero less frustrating to fight against by lowering her potential slightly. We're still monitoring the situation and will apply other changes if needed.
- Bloodlust now grants +20% Attack Power, down from 50%
- Bloodlust now grants +20% Damage Reduction, down from 50%
- Bloodlust's cooldown is now 20 seconds, down from 30 seconds
Bloodlust has been a strong choice as a Tier 2 feat for a long time; the large increase in attack and defense makeS the feat the top contender in many situations, especially when other feats at Tier 3 and 4 benefit from the attack boost quite a bit. This is the case for Pirate and Valkyrie where getting Bloodlust to trigger into a Trick Shot or a Fire Flask end up in a complete wipe of the opposing team; we've decided to lower Bloodlust's effectiveness but also lower its cooldown to compensate. This should lower Bloodlust's effectiveness, especially when combined with other feats, but also make it slightly more available.
Testing Grounds Recap
We first want to thank all our players who participated and gave feedback in the last round of the Testing Grounds! Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside our control, we were unable to send a survey for the previous Testing Grounds, but we were still able to gather feedback from many different sources and make informed decisions based on it.
Thanks to you, we are able to push both the Conqueror and Shaolin revamps live, starting with Year 6 Season 2! There are a few changes from the Testing Grounds to their new iterations, and we'll go through them next in this post.
The general reaction to the second round of the Conqueror revamp was mixed; some of the feedback we received specifically mentioned the fact that Conqueror's chained Heavy attacks were not threatening, and that the Shield Bash mix-up in chains was ineffective due to a lack of properties. Some players also expressed their frustration at the removal of the infinite chained light attacks, mostly due to the effect this had on Conqueror's minion clearing abilities, and finally some players missed the chargeable Heavy attacks in chains. We've done a thorough analysis of the results and decided on changes that we hope will make Conqueror more viable and threatening in both 1v1 and outnumbered situations.
Scutage Collection and Flail Uppercut
- Scutage Collection is now available after any Superior Block or Shield Bash
- Flail Uppercut is now available after any Superior Block or Shield Bash
- Flail Uppercut is now performed by pressing the Heavy button
- Flail Uppercut can now execute
Players generally liked the two new options we put in Conqueror's kit; they both were strong and performed as intended, but some players hoped Flail Uppercut could execute, giving Conqueror more opportunities to delay their opponents even more.
We've decided to push the concept of these two moves even further; the intention is that "Whenever you perform an action with your Shield, you get EITHER of the options at your choice".
This should give Conqueror more varied options depending on the situation; when in 1v1 situations, Shield Uppercut is generally the better option, as it deals slightly more damage and can execute, but when outnumbered it's probably better to use Scutage Collection.
Chained Shield Bash
- Now 800ms, up from 500ms
- Can now be feinted
We've also addressed the problem that Conqueror's in chain pressure wasn't high enough; the Chained Shield Bash at 500ms was at the standard speed we use for Bashes but it had difficulty landing due to not having enough pressure from other attacks. With this change, it becomes a self-contained pressure tool; being Feintable means Conqueror can use it in 1v1 scenarios and apply consistent pressure that can't be parried. While this diminishes its effectiveness in outnumbered scenarios, there are other changes to Conqueror that should help in those situations.
Chained Heavy Attacks
- Infinite Chained Heavy Attacks are now unblockable
We want Conqueror to be good in outnumbered situations, both offensively and defensively. While Full Block Stance cancels help defensively, Conqueror has difficulty forcing external opponents into reactions and getting to back off; this should help alleviate this issue. This change also gives Conqueror some much-needed chain pressure in 1v1. We hope that this change also helps players who liked having the Chained Charged Heavy attacks; it adds back the pressure they brought but without the flickering and input timing issues that the Charged version had.
Infinite Chained Lights
- Reverted change to Infinite Chained Light attacks
Many players gave feedback regarding the loss if Infinite Chained Lights making Conqueror lose a large part of its identity as well as making the hero's ability to minion clear less effective. We've reverted to the Live version of this; staying in the same stance performs a much slower attack. This specific property is in place to curb infinite light spamming that can very quickly become difficult to deal with for some players when facing Conqueror. We also find that with the Unblockable Chained Heavies there is much more of an incentive to use Heavy attacks in chains, while keeping the minion clearing ability that infinite lights possess.
Heavy Opener Damage
- Top Heavy Opener now deals 27 damage, up from 24
- Side Heavy Openers now deal 24 damage, up from 22
We have also fixed the damage from Conqueror's Heavy Openers; they should now deal the appropriate amount of damage.
These changes to Conqueror should bring the hero further to the front of the line than the back - this iteration is more aggressive while having more options both offensively and defensively. As usual, we'll be monitoring our usual sources of feedback to see how players are appreciating this revamp of Conqueror.
Please look at the patch notes for a detailed breakdown of the changes from the previous Live version of Conqueror versus this revamp.
Shaolin's revamp was quite positive; players enjoyed the new options, the easier ways to get into Qi Stance and the improved flow the hero presents. While the revamp was well-received, the most common negative feedback we've received is that it is still too difficult to enter Qi Stance, that Sun Kick is too vulnerable and that the Side Opener Lights still dealt damage that was not in line with other light openers.
We've taken steps to address these issues outlined below.
NEW MOVE: Dodge Forward Bash (Flying Monkey Variant)
- Performed by pressing Guardbreak from Front Dodge
- 500ms Bash
- Performed at 300ms to 500ms in Front Dodge
- Guarantees an opener light
We're giving Shaolin access to his Sprint Attack from Front Dodge; this change is specifically targeted at two pieces of feedback we've received, namely that Shaolin still has a hard time entering Qi Stance and that the hero is lacking external pressure.
With this attack, Shaolin should have a reliable opener into Qi Stance, and should have a chance to open up opponents in group fights to get to the Sweep more easily.
Sweep and NEW MOVE: Sweep Followup
- Sun Sweep is no longer available after Sun Kick
- Sun Sweep is now available after any Light or Heavy attack while in Qi Stance
- Sun Sweep is 800ms and can be feinted
- Sun Sweep now guarantees a new move, Sweep Followup
- Sweep Followup is accessed by pressing Heavy Attack after a successful Sun Sweep
- Sweep Followup initiates chains and can enter Qi Stance
While this is not changed from the Testing Grounds, we wanted to make it clear that this change did still make it into the Live version; these moves are at the center of the new Shaolin flow.
- Sun Kick now chains on miss
- Sun Kick Strike is now 400ms, up from 300ms
Another common feedback we've received is that Sun Kick is too vulnerable when it is dodged; this should help alleviate the issue and make Sun Kick a bit safer to use.
Opener Light Attacks
- Side Openers now deal 10-4-4 damage (from 5-5-7)
Shaolin's side opener lights had their damage backloaded to encourage players to perform all three hits; while this works on paper, in practice it hurts Shaolin due to having to spend extra stamina and lose the ability to chain or enter Qi Stance. Spending 15 stamina to deal 10 damage is too much of a tradeoff, so we've reordered the damage so that it is more front-loaded; Shaolin can now deal 14 damage for 15 stamina AND enter Qi Stance or choose to deal 18 and stop.
- Can now switch targets inbetween hits
- Fixed an issue that made the move not hit minions correctly
Shaolin should now be able to use his Zone Attack to target swap and use the large trajectories to keep opponents off him, while also being able to use this move as a more effective minion clear.
We hope these changes to Shaolin improve on his weaker points from the Testing Grounds and make the hero much stronger in 1v1 and group fights. As for Conqueror, please look at the patch notes to have a detailed breakdown of the changes from Live to this new iteration of Shaolin.
Year 6 Season 2 Testing Grounds: Guardbreak Vulnerability changes
We'll also be launching a new Testing Grounds this season! However, we're not testing character-specific changes, but a system-wide change that should have a large impact on the game as a whole - Guardbreak Vulnerability, in chains as well as during recoveries.
What we are trying to solve
As the game evolves, heroes get rebalanced, and other system-level changes occur, the driving forces behind our direction is "We want heroes to attack more". This has been shown in a lot of our revamps - we're giving more and more heroes aggressive tools, touching up on stamina and improving their flow.
One of the issues that we are facing more and more as move along this path is the fact that players are not always incentivized to use chained attacks when outnumbered. Some heroes, like Jiang Jun, perform admirably there due to fast, wide-sweeping attacks, but there is a limit to this; we want heroes with slower attacks to not be punished hard for using them.
Guardbreak Vulnerability here is problematic: in a 1v2 situation, it is overly risky to throw attacks because it is very likely one of your opponents will land a Guardbreak during any of your attack recoveries. To top it off, Finisher recoveries are currently very Guardbreak vulnerable, making Finishers even riskier than other attacks to use when outnumbered.
What is our solution?
As we've debated over this, one clear, clean solution came to us: recoveries should be immune to guardbreak. This makes it so you simply do not get interrupted by a Guardbreak (and then a Heavy attack, and potentially even more if your opponent has an ally nearby!) during ANY recovery, including when attacks are missed. This lets players attack more with less fear of reprisal. It does not mean that you'll never get interrupted (Light and Heavy attacks exist, after all!) but it does make it much safer to use a wider variety of attacks in multiple situations.
Did we consider other solutions?
We did look into many other variants of this solution. One of them was making all recoveries except Miss recoveries be Guardbreak immune; while this had potential, the major issue we found is that it is not always clear when an attack is missed, is hit or is blocked; our system works in a way that we only consider the result of your locked target when determining the result of an attack, and as such attacks that did hit or were blocked by others externally but did not hit the locked target do not count as a hit or a block but rather as a miss. Situations like this occur quite frequently, and the status of Guardbreak invulnerability becomes difficult to read from a player perspective.
Another one we investigated was not making recoveries fully immune but rather make Guardbreak attempts teachable; this would have partly solved the problem as it does lower the vulnerability of throwing attacks, but had the major downside that players were still interrupted in the middle of their chains quite often, which is one part of what we're trying to solve.
What is in this Testing Grounds?
This is what we're attempting to fix with this Testing Grounds. In it, you'll find the following changes are applied to every hero:
- Most Attack recoveries are now immune to Guardbreak until the hero regains the ability to block
- By "Immune to Guardbreak", we mean Guardbreak attempts will bounce off the opponent and not interrupt them at all, similarly to what happens when you try to Guardbreak an attack too late during its startup
- There are some exceptions for especially slow recovery attacks such as Shaman's Pounce, Shugoki's hug, etc
- When a hero regains the ability to block during a recovery, Guardbreak attempts will land, but are techable
- All chained attacks are fully immune to Guardbreak
- Every bash that had a recovery of less than 766ms on miss is now has 766ms of miss recovery to ensure that Dodge Attacks will always beat Bashes
- Highlander has new Side Dodge attacks while in Defensive Stance, performed by pressing the Heavy button to ensure the hero can beat bashes
- Jiang Jun can now enter Sifu Stance at the same time as the hero can block during Hit/Block hit reactions to ensure the hero can beat bashes
We must note that this change only applies to attack recoveries; Full Block Stances, as well as Dodges, are unaffected, and remain guardbreak vulnerable as they currently are, including when they are used as Recovery Cancels. Aramusha, for example, keeps the Guardbreak vulnerability when using Blade Blockade, even when it is used to cancel the recovery of an attack, so that there is an additional drawback to using this cancel.
This is a large system-wide change that we've been working on for quite some time. It involves changing a lot of data on our side, and it is possible that some bugs crept in. If you do notice something inconsistent, do not be afraid to report it; we will investigate all the reports and apply fixes as needed.
As usual, we'll be monitoring all the usual sources for feedback - positive or negative, all feedback is good feedback!
See you on the battlefield, warriors!