First of all I would like to congratulate you for all the work put in RoR. I am very supportive of all the work people have put into this and I value the effort they make to keep the best MMO I have played in my life alive.
Today its my character's "birthday" since I got to 30 days of time played and I would like to provide a thourough feedback on the SW career.
My character is Ethilia currently at 82rr with 3-4 different gear combinations of Invader, Vanquisher and Oppressor (different gems etc, I m currently gathering my second Invader gear). I have been playing SW since the open beta of the Live server till the day the lights went off and I rarely spent any time on alts. I love this class and its the only one I want to play.
In my time in Live I witnessed all the changes made on this class over time. Some were proper others were not really needed still the class was quite viable.
On the following post I will analyse the viability of different builds of the SW class in RoR regarding solo roaming, premade party in SC and oRVR and warband set up. I have spent countless hours on the Live and on the RoR server on all 3 occasions solo, party, WB (following and leading warbands) and I have accumulated enough experience to be able to provide proper feedback. Before I begin with this analysis I will list the basic specs for each skilltree for Shadow Warriors and its pros and cons
General Pros: +10% range, +3.1% dodge, -6% chance to be critically hit, spike damage
General Cons: low armor, low mobility (most heavy dps skills require casting)
Running at capped ballistics (1050) and 500-550 weaponskill
There are 3 main specs for scout.
Pros: Damage Unmitigated by resistances (only by toughness and dodge,block), Fel the weak has no casting time
Cons: 5 seconds cooldown on the main nuking spell (Festering Arrow), Fel the weak gets mitigated by armor.
This spec is not viable in my opinion. At best you can crit for 2.5k with FA and then for 2k wth FtW IF your opponent has really low armor and no armor pots. None runs at 4.5k HP in RoR.
Why is this spec so weak?
Back at live this spec was viable because of the Morale 2 +100% dmg for 5 seconds. You could 2shot a player if both skills critted and that player did not block or dodge every 1 minute the morale was up.
Almost 3 months before in RoR that spec would turn all scout skills to corporeal damage and acid arrow would remove corporeal resist. I run that spec for over 1.5 month with the 1 second cast Eagle Eye tactc and leveled. You could not single kill many players and due to the AP cost letting you run dry after casting 3-4 Eagle Eyes but you would contribute much to the kill and get a fair share of the RP.
Pros: Sustainable damage 600-700 dmg per hit for squishes and 200-300 dmg per hit vs tankier enemies. 4 seconds silence casted skill available
Cons: Armor severely reduces the damage even after casting acid arrow, Mobility is 0
The damage delt is not sufficient to kill a tough enemy before they can reach you. Moreover having no ranged disarm makes you vulnerable to Rdps with ranged disarm.
Pros: High ranged damage and heal debuff
Cons: Low mobility, again armor mitigation is high
General Pros: Mobility, ground control, heal debuff, crit bonus
General Cons: low armor, toughness bonus is non helpfull at all since SWs usually run -120 toughness tactic to boost the already low damage they deal, All damage goes vs armor and is greatly reduced.
There is only one build for this skill tree:
Heal Debuff, ranged knockdown, split arrow
Pros: good group synergy (heal debuf), Good cc (ranged knockdowm, high kiting ability (easily destroyed by squig spamable leap, and mara pull)
Cons: low damage output, low defensive stats
This spec is the one I am currently running on. It is the most viable since it has mobility to cover a bit for the abscence of defensive stats. Still the damage output is really low. I run at 1008 ballistics and 997 weaponskill (talies, assault stance, wrist slash tactic) and still the highest Spiral Fleched arrow damage i saw was like 500-550 to undergeared sorcs. SFA is the main attack used on this spec and the tooltip damage is byitself 2 low. With split arrow is gets even lower by 30%, it is viable only for debuffing enemies with pierce defences tactic in massive battles.
The only spec most consider viable at the moment.
To be fair I have not run assault for over 2 weeks in RoR. The spec is strong but the damage output is not compared to other classes. An assault SW doesnt have the dmg output of a slayer (not even close) or a WL, or the disabling capabilities of a WH and its mobility (stealth). Shadow step is a big help but it is not compaired to the squig's spammable leap.
Brutal Assault with bypass armor tactic is strong but the 5 seconds cooldown of the skill is so big that it nerfs its usability if not acompanied by a Swordmaster specced with WW.
I will provide some feedback regarding the viability and the performance of each skill tree in solo, group and WB combat
Scout is not so viable. The damage output is way too low either because of FA 5 seconds cooldown or due to the armor mitigation done on Eagle Eye. Moreover the reduced mobility really makes you a sitting duck. Whats the use of having a glass cannon with low damage output?
Skirmish is the most viable spec imo. Mobility, kiting ability, ground control. Still stucking armor especially on a ranged dps counters that spec since a Magus or a Sorc will easily outdps you and kill you before even getting them at 50%. Versus melee dps marauders are able to pull you, squigs are able to leap on you and WEs burst you down for 5-6k dmg before you manage to do anything. You can kite a bit all melee classes but the damage output (due to armor mitigation) is so low that this kiting time is of no use. You eventually will die if your opponent has the same RR, gear and gamesence.
I dont consider Assault quite viable unless you have way better gear than your opponent. For low Reknown Ranks its pure madness torun it and for high ones you will most likely kill squishy casters and choppas. All other classes have big armor penetration and literally shred through your armor by only using skills (they dont have to stack weaponskill).
Scout is no viable at all at parties. You will be a constant liability to your healer and your tank and you will perish quite fast if focused.
Skirmish is quite viable due to the kiting capaabilities, the CC and the heal debuff but dont expect to support your group with decent damage. Armor mitigation is huge.
Assault is also quite viable if combined with a Swordmaster for spamable brutal assault bypassing armor but thats it. Non spamable shadowstep makes you super kitable, your slow spell is on the skirmish stance and if you dare to switch to that you will die almost immediately and you dont have a sprint.
It is a common secret that SWs are always put in the last party of the warband with the least healing and without guards. Whoever may deny that is either a troll or a liar.
Scout: Almost useless for the same reason as in party. Moreover it has no aoe capabilities.
Skirmish: Low viability. There is existing aoe dmg but too low due to armor mitigation. Stucking WS will make you very vunlerable at warband vs warband bombing.
Assault: Low viability. Perhaps you can be part of an assist train. But why should the WB leader prefer a Slayer or a WL?
Solo: SWs are not so viable due to the high damage mitigation
Party: SWs can be helpful but due to their low damage output (due to armor damage mitigation) a WL+Slayer combo is much stronger.
Warband: SWs are not viable due to their low damage output
It is clear that the low damage output is the reason for the low viability of this class.
I can detect two major issues regarding the low damage output and i can offer some suggestions to make the class more viable.
1) Low damage due to high armor mitigation:
a) Very low armor debuff which is also not instant but castable (-900 armor with scout tree maxed). A single armor pot can counter the effects of that debuff and armor tallies can further increase damage mitigation.
The suggestions section was edited from the initial post following the feedback given by people. Some non viable suggestions were moved to a separate section and a short explanation was given.
In general Melee is quite a strong build and it should not further boosted. Scout and Skirmish require damage boost.
a) Increase SWs tooltip armor debuff value by a small amount (8-12%).
It was suggested that Acid Arrow should be casted at all stances but i disagree. Stance switching should be kept alive to make the class more challenging to play and distinguish key spammers from skilled players.
Still, 5 seconds cooldown on stance changing really makes the class more 2button than more flexible.
Reducing stance change cooldown from 5 to 3 seconds would make the class more challenging to play. Keep skills at the trees they are requiring the stance they already require. But give SWs the opportunity to change between stances more often. Keeping a high cooldown between stances only makes the class more monodimentional since people will not risk a 5seconds delay to play smarter.
b) Increase SW damage output on Skirmish:
Add a 8-12% armor penetration on Powerfull Draw tactic. It is quite high on the skill tree so only full skirmish players will have access to it. (Assault should not have access to it, the spec is already quite strong).
Increase skirmish skill tooltip damage by 8-12%. Especially Spiral Fleched Arrow should be boosted by 15-30%. SFA damage is extremely low right now.
Reduce Split Arrow damage penalty to 15% or even remove it.. Almost none (apart from me) uses this tactic now. The current 200 aoe dmg per hit really discourages people from using it.
Reinstate Barage snare but reduce its duration to 2-3 seconds. That would reduce the impact of the snare but also make the skill a bit useful. None specs it anymore.
c) Increase SW damage output on Scout:
Reinstate the pre-nerf tactic on Scout skill tree that makes all attacks corporeal and acid arrow a corporeal debuf. That spec was not broken. 4 skills were enough to leave your AP pool empty and you have to be completely static all the time for it to put out decent damage.
Increase scout stance range bonus to meet magus and engineer range. Scout is a sniper mode build. There is no sense for an elven archer to have less range than a mage and a dwarven techie. Does it? Moreover there is no game balance in that especially in sieges.
Suggestions that I listed but eventually should not be implemented:
a) remove the cooldown from Festering Arrow: It will become quite imbalanced. It already crits for a lot with proper tactics
b) Remove cooldown from brutal assault when using the armor bypass tactic: Melee spec is already too strong this would make it quite imbalanced
c) Add flat % armor bypass value on Vegeance of the Nagarythe skill for its duration. This will boost Melee spec which already has a very strong damage output.
I do enjoy playing on RoR server and I like and support the idea behind the project. I also appreciate the work the people have put into this project FOR FREE and I do not in any case want to put any pressure on any member of the staff with this post. Consider it just constructive feedback.