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Charmy

I fear the Elementalist is far too strong

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Posted (edited)

Having looked through the Lost Legends cards now. The hybrid classes open up tons of new possibilities.  I've already cooked up a few builds in my head.

Soul Reaper class isn't flashy, but it seems good enough. Blight Extraction is extremely strong, but it was necessary to let this class offer a viable alternative to the existing god-tier Healer class (Bard).

The Elementalist however, I have serious problems with.

The two 1-xp abilities give easy access to all 4 elemental skills on top of additional enhancements for them, so there is no meaningful decision making or having to choose to specialize in one element or another.

This would be a typical endgame (8xp) build for the Elementalist I could see:

  • Earth and Sky (1)
  • Sun and Sea (1)
  • Primal Harmony (1)
  • Spiritual Balance (2)
  • Nature's Fury (3)

With this setup, here could be a typical turn. This is assuming no additional synergy with other heroes. No special equipment. No particular Hero abilities or feats.

  • Exhaust Grasp and pay 1 stamina. Choose 1 small non-lieutenant monster within 5 spaces, no line of sight required, and they are Stunned. No test required. No action required.
    • This ability alone is already far more powerful than any other monster or hero ability in the game.
    • This barely scratches the surface of how strong Grasp can be. With a different spec you can stun 5 monsters for 1 stamina, of small, medium and large sizes. GG.
  • Exhaust Gust and pay 1 stamina. Choose any friendly figure (any member of the hero party (including yourself), familiars, etc.) to move 2 spaces. Not gain 2 movement points, mind you. But move 2 spaces.
    • The utility of this is mind boggling. This lets you fling figures over pits and across water and sludge spaces, as well as ignore the effects of the Immobilize status condition.
    • This gives terrific power to set up your other heroes for big combo moves (e.g. Whirlwind) or recover from abilities which throw your heroes out of position (e.g. Grease Traps, Knockbacks).
    • No action required? What?
    • Again only scratches the surface of what Gust can do. This can easily be 5 spaces. And with a different build you can also target the Overlord's figures! Oh, that Goblin is running to complete a quest objective five spaces away around the corner and across a river? I guess I'll just fling him back into our waiting arms for 1 stamina... It also has no size restriction, so you can easily send Giants and Shadow Dragons out of the way.
    • This breaks certain quests involving non-hero 'friendly figures', such as the Finale of Heirs of Blood, Encounter 2. You can use this power to fling Tyrus (who is a 'friendly figure') backwards every turn, preventing the Overlord from ever escaping with him.
  • Exhaust Spiritual Balance. Recover 2 stamina.
    • So yeah.. remember the 2 stamina I paid for those two absurdly strong abilities? I just got it back.

Oh, I guess I should actually perform actions now...

  • Exhaust Blaze and pay 1 stamina. Perform an attack with Pierce 3 and 1 additional yellow power die.
    • There are no other hero powers that come close to giving you this much additional damage at the cost of 1 stamina.
    • In response to monster death, exhaust Runeshard Cache to add another element card.
  • Exhaust Primal Harmony to refresh Blaze.
  • Exhaust Blaze and pay 1 stamina. Perform an attack with Pierce 4 and 1 additional yellow power die.
    • Oh no! I rolled an 'X'! Talk about horrible luck... I guess I have to deal with it like every other cla---
    • Use Sun and Sea to reroll my 'X'.
  • (OPTIONAL) Assuming Tide works in combination with Blaze (need errata on this), I can exhaust that and deal 5! damage to a monster adjacent to my target. No defense roll. No chance to fail. 1 stamina.
    • Overlord flips the table.

Okay, guess my turn is done. I spent 2-3 stamina total, assuming I didn't recover any during those 2 devastating attacks in which I rolled one 'X'.

So yeah, this class is completely busted. And that is not even considering the amazing synergies these abilities open up. Gust and Shadow Tome for example. Hey, you can disintegrate nearby monsters without even having to spend actions attacking them and completely ignore their defense dice.

Here are some proposed fixes to attempt to put this class at the same power level as the rest of the game.

<snipped> See balance patch thread.

Even with these nerfs the class is still strong and viable, but at least I'd be willing to try to play against it as an Overlord. As printed I wouldn't even bother. It wouldn't be fun at all to play against.

As for Road to Legend, yeah, you can go wild with this, but I think it will trivialize the content. I would avoid it personally to give the game some semblance of challenge.

(Edit 1: Corrected using Sun and Sea twice. Thanks Rugal)

(Edit 2: Think the original proposed nerfs are a little too harsh, given how important exhausting Elemental cards is to build power. I've proposed a lighter alternative that keeps the core fun of the class without making it feel totally oppressive. I still think Gust will be super frustrating to play against as Overlord, but I'd also like to see the Runemaster get played less.)

(Edit 3: See the balance patch I put up to get my updated suggestions on fixing the Elementalist)

 

Edited by Charmy

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Posted (edited)

There's nothing to fear of : he IS too strong, indeed. With a bard, Mad carthos, or some i forgot, he is a killing machine.

with my friend, when playing, we say about a hero who will be focus by the OL and defeated a long time that he will "eat the ground". I fear this one will no some much that we will find gravel all around his mouth !

 

 by the way, sea and sun can be used only once each turn.

 

I laugh a lot when i red this. Yes, maybe it needs balance but I have to test it once before to be sure. But, indeed, he is strong. 

But choosing Nature's embrace is even stronger maybe, since you can choose 4 monsters to be stun within 5 spaces, and with primal harmony, you can do it again. Seriously ?!

this would be :
-  Action, blaze - 1 fatigue cost, perform an attack with Pierce 1. If you killed it, runeshard cache, maybe recover 1 fatigue

- Tide : deals 2 damages a monster - 1 fatigue cost
- Gust : move a figure (3-4 spaces) - 1 fatigue cost
- Grasp : Stun up to 4 monsters (except lieutenant and monster of 6 spaces) within 5 spaces. 1 fatigue.
- Primal harmony : Grasp again.
- Rest action.

You have stunned 9 monsters. No action required.

Removing the action in the process and you can stun 4 monsters and do whatever you want of your actions. You can even leave earth and sky and sun and sea with only grasp and gust to take Volcanic might and with Andira, you let monsters kills themselves on you. Even hybridized, it can still be a real threat !

(you're welcome ! ;))

 

Edited by rugal

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Thanks for this thorough analysis. At this point I’m mostly buying Lost Legends for the Soul Reaper. I couldn’t be happier with that class.

The Elementalist’s core mechanic is clever with the elemental cards, I just don’t think I would ever choose the class myself in the competitive mode.

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Posted (edited)

I like your revised adjustments, it is exactly where I was thinking of going. I still want the elementalist to be able to use all 4 elements in a turn, so thinking about this:

 

Tide and Blaze both require an action to perform (Not Grasp, but Nature's Embrace will be nerfed below)

Gust: Choose another hero figure (not friendly)

 

Sun and Sea: Reroll a power die only, not an attack die

Earth and Sky: Increases range to 4 instead of 5 (still kind of crazy as it doesn't require LoS)

[The fact is these are still great, mandatory one point skills. The die reroll and increased range are pretty much side bonuses to getting your full elemental set]

 

Storm's Fury: You may choose any small non-lieutenant monster figure (although including "minion" only in here could be a good nerf if still needed after everything else)

Spiritual Balance: Recover 1 fatigue, instead of 2

Nature's Embrace and Fury: Remove the +1 Stamina (a little harsh? Maybe, but I want fatigue to be a limiting factor to Elementalist amazingness)

Nature's Embrace: ...target another non-lieutenant monster. If the number of exhausted elemental cards is greater than or equal to the number of spaces both monsters occupy, they are both stunned.

 

So overall trying to preserve the potential amount of elemental cards you could use per turn and that buildup, and the fantastic upgrade paths, but just make the those cards less OP. I like the class design but... balancing it for competitive play is a must at our table.

Edited by kjinn22

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I've played yesterday the Elementalist, and he really uses plenty of fatigue to be not so strong at start. So, the way it is, for now, I'm not so sure he needs buff. But more tests are needed.

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Posted (edited)

Oh, start I think they seems ok, although Grasp still feels cheesy for 1 stam. But once you have all 4 elemental skills it starts to snowball. Then once you have Storms Fury or Nature’s Embrace or Nature’s Fury it gets silly.

Edited by Charmy

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From what I have seen from people posting card text, the Elementalist should have immediately gone back to the drawing board  simply based on the fact that he gets TWO starting skills, both of which outperform the starting skills of other heroes.
Yes, they exhaust and thus are a bit less strong in one way than those skills that can be used multiple times or offer a passive bonus, but in return, they can get 1-3 pierce, 1-3 damage or 1-3 spaces of movement right at the start.
Tide at least can be countered through positioning, but in return, it is pretty great in the app where it gets to damage multiple enemies without the usual nerf to multi target attacks.
 

And the skills you get make it only get worse while having little cost in terms of actions and fatigue.

Pretty much the sole weakness of this class is the fact that you want to spend 2 to 4 fatigue per turn, but that honestly is not too much of a problem given how many other heroes and classes offer fatigue recovery options.

I think we already have too many unbalanced options in this game...

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Posted (edited)

It is especially frustrating, after having looked at, say, the Psychic and Heirophant from Zaltyre and Painkeeper in The Sands of the Past community expansion.

Even just reading through those cards, I can tell they are far better balanced than the Elementalist while remaining unique and fun to play. These designs gave actual consideration to the Overlord's game experience and how to counterplay against them. They have both strengths and weaknesses. They both have to use the action economy to do powerful moves.

Thought was also given to synergy with other classes and fair interactions with the items in the game.

None of that is true of the Elementalist. Even if you put Blaze aside, which has many problems due to how powerful its attacks can get for 1 stamina, and Grasp which can disable entire monster groups for 1 stamina, Gust combined with Storm's Fury has so many broken interactions. Just one example: If there is a pit space nearby, you can fling 1-2 monsters in and out of a pits for anywhere from 2-10 damage every turn and prevent them from moving/attacking at the cost of 1-2 stamina and 0 actions (Depending on number of Element cards you exhaust prior to using it and whether you use Primal Harmony or not).

There is a reason other classes don't let you reposition the Overlord's forces effortlessly like this. The Crossbow, arguably one of the best weapons in the game, was the closest thing, and it required both a successful attack action (which requires line of sight, and can fail) and a surge. The designers of this really needed to consider the Overlord player and not just design for giving players an easy time in Road to Legend.

Edited by Charmy

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It is indeed the Elementalist has many problem, on top of that the wording, but the class in unique in gameplay wise, very different and inventive, and just because of that, I'm happy this class exists, was created, printed and sold to us, players, and even if it has many problems, I excuse them and I like more the idea of a broken class that needs a bit balancing.

If I had to choose, I would choose rather a fun unbalanced class than a classic balanced boring one.

 

The exemple of this is the Soul reaper. More balanced, but boring, and a bit weak in with an Overlord, since defeating monsters does not occurs so often, so, the healing will come rarely with almost nothing to offer facing this. I'm playing it too, and, as expected, it's boring, but on top of that, a bit weak.

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Posted (edited)

Mmmmm, good analysis but I'm unconvinced (aside from the Quest issue; that is clearly unintended).  Yes you can snowball the everliving crap out the elemental cards, but in order to get that kinda bang for your buck the situation has to be highly specific.

From a macro standpoint, you've spent most of your fatigue to - at best - kill 3 Monsters and stun another.  You've also moved a Hero 2 spaces.  So on average we'll call that 1 stun, 1 utility move, and 3 end-game Attacks' worth of damage (since 5+ damage seems about right for the average number of wounds dealt by an attack in the Finale).  This is pretty solid, but it's not demonstrably better than what a Runemaster can do with Quickcasting, Iron Will, and Runic Sorcery.  The Elementalist can potentially do a wider variety of things for less cost, but has to do them in the exact right order with the right board position.  The Runemaster can basically just make 3 monstrous Attacks no matter what, 2 of which can supply the condition of their choice (not just stun).

And what of the HexerPlague Cloud + Crippling Curse can also shut down an entire group of Monsters (or more), AND attack all of them (given the right board position).  Throw in Internal Rot and you got your Pierce as well. 

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'mma need to give this a few real-world test runs before I concede that you're right.

- Jee

Edited by Inspector Jee

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Whoa that's why I like to read your posts, please don't stop! :)

I still haven't received my copy of this expansion (my Legends are Lost) but will start my tests as soon as I can for sure :)

 

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Inspector Jee said:

Mmmmm, good analysis but I'm unconvinced (aside from the Quest issue; that is clearly unintended).  Yes you can snowball the everliving crap out the elemental cards, but in order to get that kinda bang for your buck the situation has to be highly specific.

From a macro standpoint, you've spent most of your fatigue to - at best - kill 3 Monsters and stun another.  You've also moved a Hero 2 spaces.  So on average we'll call that 1 stun, 1 utility move, and 3 end-game Attacks' worth of damage (since 5+ damage seems about right for the average number of wounds dealt by an attack in the Finale).  This is pretty solid, but it's not demonstrably better than what a Runemaster can do with Quickcasting, Iron Will, and Runic Sorcery.  The Elementalist can potentially do a wider variety of things for less cost, but has to do them in the exact right order with the right board position.  The Runemaster can basically just make 3 monstrous Attacks no matter what, 2 of which can supply the condition of their choice (not just stun).

And what of the HexerPlague Cloud + Crippling Curse can also shut down an entire group of Monsters (or more), AND attack all of them (given the right board position).  Throw in Internal Rot and you got your Pierce as well. 

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'mma need to give this a few real-world test runs before I concede that you're right.

- Jee

In the example I provided, the hero didn't just "kill 3 monsters". They performed attacks with Pierce 3/Pierce 4 respectively and 1 bonus yellow die with 1 free re-roll, and then dealt 5 unpreventable damage to another target.  Name another class that can add that much damage to a single attack, let alone two attacks. And that is prior to modifying the attack further with other attributes, such as, say, Blast, from a weapon. They also spent 3 stamina spread out over 2 actions to do this.  That is not most of their fatigue. 3 stamina by end game is trivial, especially spread out over 2 attacks, each of which can recover stamina (often multiple stamina on successful kills).

Further, if you chose to spec for Storms' Fury instead of, say, Spiritual Balance, you could move a monster 2 spaces instead of a hero, to ensure a Blast from yourself or another hero was maximally effective. Anyone who has played Overlord knows the vital importance of spreading their monster forces out to ensure they don't all die in a single blast attack, which can instantly determine the outcome of a quest. Being able to reposition monsters within 5 spaces without line of sight needed without an action will make it impossible to do so.

Your other examples aren't the same. The Runemaster (which was the strongest Mage in the game prior to the Elementalist), can only recover additional stamina with Iron Will by consuming surges from successful attacks. The Elementalist's Spiritual Balance is usable every turn and cannot fail.

There is no just comparison between Grasp and Crippling Curse. Crippling Curse requires an action to perform and 2 stamina. It requires pre-placed Hex tokens on monsters , which require using surges from successful attacks on monsters within 3 spaces to place. Crippling Curse also requires an attribute test for every single monster. Grasp can hit up to 1-5 monsters within 3-5 spaces with a single stamina, with no attribute test required, no action required and no setup required.

Internal Rot is only Pierce 2 and requires that the target already have Hex tokens on them from a previous successful attack.

Plague Cloud needs an action and 3 stamina at once to use and requires hex tokens from previous successful attacks to have already been placed in order to function.

It is essential that most powerful hero abilities require actions to perform. Stamina costs (let alone very low stamina costs) aren't sufficient. There are many heroes and abilities that can rapidly recover stamina at the start of, or prior to the Mage's turn, and stamina potions (possibly multiple stamina potions, or heroic feats like Quellen's) can allow for a crazy amount of stamina to be spent in a single turn. Gaining additional actions however - that is rare. Actions are what limit heroes' power.

It's important that the Overlord have the ability to anticipate and act to prevent what the heroes can do for a class to be fair. All of the Hexer's powerful moves take time to setup, successful attacks and surges at close range, are fatigue intensive and require actions to perform.  Unfortunately this swings a little too far in the Hexer's case, making it a pretty weak Mage competitively. The Runemaster is about as far as you want to go in terms of power that doesn't require setup or lots of fatigue. Elementalist blew way past that.

I encourage you to test it in the real world. Having played Descent since its release for thousands of hours though, I can tell you this class is not remotely fair as printed. I compare it to a far better balanced Mage that was recently produced by the community - Zaltyre's Prophet.

Edited by Charmy

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Posted (edited)

Yes, I will absolutely test it in the real world.  Out of curiosity, have you played with it yet?  You haven't mentioned (in this thread) whether or not your objections were all theoretical or if you've witnessed this class first-hand bowling over even the most competent of Overlords.

In regard to your objections to my objections, I'm not seeing anything here that isn't a restatement of your original points aside from an assertion that different things are technically different.  Yes, I know the Runemaster and the Hexer have skills that are mechanically different from the Elementalist.  I know they have to use traditional methods to recover Fatigue and don't come with 1 free reroll a Turn.  However, they don't also have to find a Blast weapon in order to use AoE attacks, nor do they always HAVE to use their utility before they attack to maximize their damage. The Runemaster doesn't need to settle for Tide's static damage AND positional requirements for its 3rd damage option; she can just make an whole other Attack (and everything that goes with it, as you pointed out).  And a Finale-powered Hexer will have the entire place Hexed up by Turn 2.  Then it's double Plague Cloud as often as possible.  You can't tell me 3 Fatigue is insignificant in the end game and then turn around and say that Plague Cloud's 3 Fatigue cost is prohibitive.

My point is that these classes' raw power level, all things considered, didn't seem all that lower than the Ele.  Yes, I agree that the Elementalist has more options for builds - which is part of the allure of the class - but that's a meta-comparison and isn't relevant to a discussion about how a single build compares to that of another class.  The Elementalist cannot have both the ability to move Enemies around and still do all the stuff you listed.  Same goes for Grasping multiple Monsters.  What powers are you gonna give up to get that?  The Fatigue Recovery?  The reroll+the extended range on Gust/Grasp?  The extra Yellow Die (which doesn't even show up until late in the game)?  All of these things are integral to sustain your argument that the class is OP.  And that's really what it comes down to - the Elementalist is a combo powerhouse, but you gotta get those combos.  Maybe you're right - maybe by the Finale it's an unstoppable killing utilitarian machine, but you're vulnerable on the way there.  Each skill increases your power exponentially because it makes all the other skills better, but the reverse is true - for every skill you DON'T have, you're exponentially weaker relative to your class peers at the same points in the game.  That's a lot of time that the OL can use to exploit a Ele that doesn't yet have her increased range and her reroll and her +yellow dice and her fatigue recovery that are integral to her eventual power apotheosis.  The Runemaster doesn't have this problem (the Hexer kinda still does tho).

Again, I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong or don't have valid concerns here.  But I am of the opinion that the situation is not at all clear cut, and will the largely depend on the party comp, campaign, and even individual situation.

- Jee

P.S.  Regarding Pierce:  I find that anything above Pierce 2 is overkill, 75-80% of the time.  Pierce 3+ definitely has its uses but the difference between Pierce 2 and Pierce 4 is quite often nothing, especially if the OL knows you have it.  I suspect that Blaze was given Pierce precisely because it loses all value past a certain point and the designers wanted the player to make interesting choices as to what order to use their skills in. 

Edited by Inspector Jee

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Posted (edited)

Pierce 4 is mostly irrelevant? In my experience that isn't the case at all in Act 2. Monsters typically roll multiple defense dice. A large percentage of the monster roster can roll a black defense die, which has a 1/6 chance of giving 4 shields on its own. Baron Zachareth regularly can defend with 5 shields or more with his 2Gray/1Black defense.

There are also numerous ways the Overlord can grant additional shields of defense. I play against the blasted Treasure Hunter on a regular basis, so I'm used to tons of attacks coming at me with Pierce 2. I've been saved by the extra shields that survived the Pierce more times than I can count.

I don't find Pierce is much worse than +Damage when you're using an Act appropriate weapon with some damage surges on it. If you get through all their defense, the monster is probably going to die. Only exception are the rare pierce immune monsters.

I'm okay with the Elementalist core design and I like that it builds in power over the course of the turn by doing combos. Hence my proposed changes. I think if they were able to use 3 of their 4 elements on a regular basis due to action limitations, rather than all 4, as well as not being able to reposition the Overlord's monsters, they'd be a lot more balanced.

I will admit, I have not had a chance to actually play the class. I don't think many people have yet. Maybe I will eat my words once people begin reporting actual results. However, I don't think you need to have played the class to see the problems it has. I'm not the only one who sees them. As the Overlord player over the years I regularly play out quests in my head prior to doing them, so I've gotten pretty good at accurately assessing the possibility space so that I can plan accordingly. I can't plan around a class that can stun all my monsters or fling them around like ragdolls from 5 spaces away around the corner without line of sight without any kind of test or action cost.

EDIT: And just to be clear, I recognize that the class cannot do all the things I mentioned at the same time. That goes without saying. And yeah, because of how powerful it is there are more viable builds than most of the existing classes. But right from the beginning, with no XP spent, the Elementalist starts out more powerful than all the other Mage classes.

What can a Runemaster do at the start? It can surge for +2 damage at the cost of 1 stamina with Runic Knowledge.

What can the Elementalist do from the start? If it chose Blaze and Grasp, then with Blaze it can suffer 1 stamina to do Pierce 1, or Pierce 2 if they kill a monster first. Note that a surge is not required! And then it can instantly Stun any small or medium monster within 3 spaces for 1 stamina! If its a melee monster, it is essentially out of commission for a whole round. This can often be a freaking Master Barghest in the typical early quest! Finally, depending on the order of when the elements are used, the Elementalist's starting weapon deals more top-end damage than any other Mage's starting weapon! Surely you can see the problem? And that is comparing against the strongest Mage currently in the game.

This continues for the rest of the game. By the end game, no matter which build you choose, you are doing things far better than any other Mage class - and pretty much any other class in general: Whether you choose to specialize in moving heroes and monsters large numbers of spaces (a tactically superior option with tons of nasty item and hero synergies and terrain abuse possibilities), deal the highest amounts of single target armor-piercing damage with splash damage, or simply lock down the Overlord's board by mass stunning everything, you will be doing that far better and far easier than anyone else can - that is with less stamina, fewer actions, no line of sight, and less/no chance to fail.

Just look at another comparable case study - the Geomancer's Quaking Word. On the surface, this looks like an ability comparable to Grasp, right? In reality it is far less powerful.

Lets start with the usage cost: Grasp requires 1 stamina vs. Quaking Word requires 2 stamina AND an attack action AND you use up one of your surges on that attack action! Holy cow, no contest.

Acquisition cost: Grasp is essentially free to acquire and grows more powerful with XP spent on related skills. Quaking Word requires 1xp and cannot be enhanced. No contest.

Next lets consider the reliability: Quaking Word requires you perform a successful attack on a target you can see and you need the aforementioned surge to be available for use.  Grasp automatically works. No contest.

Lets consider the setup: Quaking Word requires you to have placed one or more Summoned Stones using Terracall at an earlier time AND moved it within 2 spaces of  the chosen monsters. To get there the stone had to get through blocking monsters, dealt with slowing terrain, avoided occupied squares, not been killed, etc. It requires you attack with a Magic weapon ONLY. Grasp can target any 3 spaces away right from the beginning, upgradeable to 5!!!, and requires absolutely no setup, no monster in line of sight to attack, and no equipment restrictions. No contest.

Post-usage side effects: Quaking Word: None.  Grasp: Plenty. Your other Elemental powers used this turn are now more powerful. You are now closer to using your Spiritual Balance to recover 2 stamina. You can acquire a skill which lets you refresh the ability and do it again. No contest.

Targeting limitations: The only thing Quaking Word has over GraspQuaking Word can stun lieutenants and huge monsters, but even then lieutenants can potentially pass an Awareness test and ignore the effect!

With Quaking Word, the Overlord has a vast multitude of ways to play around the ability because it requires so many things to be in place for it to succeed - and even when everything is setup just right, the Overlord can use any number of Overlord cards, plot cards, relics, etc. to introduce an additional chance to fail. All those limitations that Quaking Word has are there for a reason. They are the product of a thoughtful designer that thinks about both sides of the game - not just the heroes. These considerations are essential for a balanced, fun game!

I can go on. Perhaps we could look at, say, Gravity Spike, vs. Storm's Fury + Gust. That is equally one-sided, if not even worse, but I really think I've made my point.

 

Edited by Charmy

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5 hours ago, Charmy said:

I will admit, I have not had a chance to actually play the class. I don't think many people have yet.

I haven't even had a chance to own it yet. Their shipment to my FLGS was delayed... 😥

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I think it's not fair to simply compare one skill with another one from another class because it's not the same. Maybe Knight's Advance is better than Berserker's Charge but it has Whirlwind and the other has not. I mean the whole picture should be checked. Maybe whole classes can be compared but it's all situational. It depends on many other facts like table setup of monsters,  goals, how competitive the Overlord is, etc.

I'm looking forward to do my test and have some sight how it is working.

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Posted (edited)

It's possible I'm underestimating Pierce, but I can only go off my experience plus the math to handle the situations I've never been in.  It takes a defense pool of [Grey][Black] for Pierce 3+ to start reliably beating Pierce 2.  That kind of resilience is usually only reserved for big-bads + Lieutenants and that's IF they don't have Iron Skin.  So yeah, against Baron Z it's great.  But how often are you fighting that guy vs. say, Cave Spiders?  Also, I find that if a party has a lot of Pierce the best counter is to simply choose Monsters than don't care, rather than to maximize Shields.  Golems, Ironbound, or basically any Ranged swarm that trades defense for offense will often make Pierce completely useless, wasting that part of the item/ability entirely.   Trying to meet it pound-for-pound is a trap.  Except in the rare cases where you need to save a mission-critical monster, that strategy is just going to make Pierce more effective because given 2 similarly powered abilities or items, Pierce values are always going be higher than Shield/Damage values.  Item-budget-wise, Pierce is "cheaper". And even in those cases there are often better cards you could use, or at least commiserate ones with more ubiquity.  I'm not saying those cards are useless, they're just better against a straight damage build than against Pierce build (which makes sense because the latter is a direct counter to the former).  Put another way: if your solution to "lots of water" is "yet more fire" then all that does is justify your opponent's choice to use water. 

I'm glad you (Charmy) brought up the Mage early game cause it segues into scaling; that's a fascinating topic.  The Elementalist has so many fun options here:  do I go damage?  Utility?  A combo?  What kind?  That's where the true power of the class lies - you can pivot pretty fast, even within a single build (well, that and the end game, as you pointed out).  I also basically agree that in the Intro, the Ele is going to be more useful than the Runemaster.  But it stops there, at least for a little while.  1XP gives the Runemaster on-demand Blast, which is not only going to rocket her top end damage past .. everyone's ... but is going to require the OL to play around it forever, which means the campaign is now being fought squarely on the Heroes' terms.  Gaining Gust/Tide (plus a range increase, re-roll, or double-use) isn't going to have nearly the same favorable tempo shift.  And I would argue that that advantage remains even through getting the 4th Elemental skill.  The Runemaster can then save his XP from Act 1 Missions 1 and 2, and start 3 with Iron Will.  The Ele will either have all their 1XP skills by this point or will be halfway to a 2XP skill.  In either case, the Runemaster is still on top when it comes to raw destructive power AND fatigue sustain.  They can blast twice a Turn, possibly for a net-0 fatigue (and she will have +1 Max fatigue).  The Ele will be burning fatigue like crazy to leverage their combos.  Granted, this comes with Stuns and cool movement things you can do, along with respectable ranged damage but a 5+ Fatigue Blast Factory that can easily Fatigue-move around is going be far more disruptive, except in very specific situations.  And this advantage will persist until the Ele gets Spiritual Balance and the massive Fatigue efficiency differential starts to even out.  Then I reckon they will be roughly equivalent until the Runemaster gets Quickcasting one Mission later.  After that it will take 2 MORE Missions for the Ele to get Nature's Fury and finally become partially fused with Infinity.  At this point the Runemaster can pick up Rune Mastery or whatever for another boost, but yes - at this point the Ele has the advantage, all things considered.  But it's the Finale now.  For most of the campaign the Runemaster was meeting or beating the Ele in power, self-mobility, and efficiency, and half the time she was using less XP to do it.

And I'm basically cool with that.  That seems balanced to me.  The Ele starts strong, trades power for utility mid-game, and then comes back with a bang at the end.  Seems right.

- Jee

P.S. I'm not sure you're giving Quaking Word its fair due.  It does scale with other skills - every time you get another Summoned Stone, it's potential list of targets grows.  And right out of the gate, it can stun ALL the things if positioned right, not just 1 thing.  Ultimately I think you're right - the Ele is a "better" class (at least in general; I've seen savvy Geomancers do some crazy stuff in certain clutch situations).  But I don't think the power-differential of these 2 abilities is anything to worry about.  The Geomancer is basically an offtank in addition to being a Mage, so you would expect it to give up some other versatility.

Edited by Inspector Jee

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Posted (edited)

I love the friendly banter of you guys. The discussion of strategy is great on both sides. I am curious how the Elementalist plays out in RL.

Only addition: In Road to Legend (or Peril) Pierce is more powerful than raw damage when it comes to attacks affecting multiple monsters. Whereas damage gains only 50% benefit, Pierce keeps it's 100%

Edited by Sadgit

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Sadgit said:

I love the friendly banter of you guys. The discussions of strategy is great on both sides. I am curious how the Elementalist plays out in RL.

Only addition: In Road to Legend (or Peril) Pierce is more powerful than raw damage when it comes to attacks affecting multiple monsters. Whereas damage gains only 50% benefit, Pierce keeps it's 100%

That is true.  Good insight.  I am far less familiar with the app than with standard play.  As a possible counter-point (or perhaps just an additional point), AoE damage skills are going to be a lot more useful simply as a function of the App's AI (dare I say 50% more) then they would be in standard play.  This meta-advantage is going keep damage above Pierce in the priority, at least for me, along with the simple fact that you will never, ever kill a Monster using only Pierce.  Also, the part of the conversation that was about damage vs. Pierce was focusing on how the overlord should respond to the Heroes' choices, rather than the other way around.  In that App that's completely moot so much of what I said on that topic doesn't apply.

- Jee

Edited by Inspector Jee

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the discussion. Ultimately only time will tell what the community as a whole feels about this class.

I hope I'm wrong. I want Lost Legends to be a great expansion, especially since it will likely be the very last official one.

As it is though, I am far more excited to give Sands of the Past and its associated classes a try. In my estimation they have been crafted with a far deeper understanding of the game's mechanics. I feel no need to argue or fuss about whether the Prophet or Heirophant are game-breaking, because you can tell just by reading through them with an experienced eye for the game that they would fit in just fine. My gut reaction when reading the Elementalist was utter dismay.

It feels clear to me that Lost Legends was not built by the developers of any of the previous Descent content, and was made with greater consideration for Road to Legend than the original game. The fact that the cards have typos and broken interactions with existing quests is still more evidence of this.

Edited by Charmy

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11 hours ago, Charmy said:

It feels clear to me that Lost Legends was not built by the developers of any of the previous Descent content, and was made with greater consideration for Road to Legend than the original game. The fact that the cards have typos and broken interactions with existing quests is still more evidence of this.

Like I already said elsewhere, but yes, it is. Trainees maybe ?

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Just be clear here: I think none of the Descent veterans here is accusing @Alicitorte to be responsible for the problems associated with Lost Legends. From his/her post it becomes very clear that FFG was assigning people not involved with the development of previous Descent products to the job. The rule set and the number of keywords have grown into a complex system over the years. We cannot expect a relative newcomer to get everything right. However, I am a bit disappointed that the people in charge of the project did not either:

1. Get FFG Descent experts to crosscheck, proofread and validate all cards
2. Reach out to the community for help

I think that many of the experienced Descent players here (including myself) would have been more than happy to help.  

@Alicitorte: Can you share any more details on the design, validation and playtesting process of Lost Legends? In the past, to my knowledge community members like Zaltyre and Morthai did beta testing for Descent expansions. Do you know if community members were involved in the development or playtesting of Lost Legends? If no, do you know the reason for that?

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23 hours ago, Charmy said:

I hope I'm wrong. I want Lost Legends to be a great expansion, especially since it will likely be the very last official one.

I hope not, seeing that they're experimenting with print on demand expansion for the game is promising. That said my FLGS just put all of their dwindling descent collection on sale...

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21 hours ago, Bucho said:

That said my FLGS just put all of their dwindling descent collection on sale...

Anticipating an announcement at Gen Con perhaps...

(I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist. I firmly expect there to be no announcement of Descent 3rd Edition at Gen Con... Oh, wait, maybe there will be... Or not, probably not... Almost definitely, possibly not... Sigh.)

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