As is hopefully becoming clear on the forums, we recognise that Warhammer Online is imbalanced, and we have the intention to make balance changes and reworks to the game. This is a difficult endeavour at the best of times, and the potential for division and discontent is great. We understand that well, and in order to minimize this as much as possible, we see the need to establish a solid framework and flow for discussing these most polarizing of issues. Accordingly, this post will set out how we, as a community, are going to undertake this process, and the standards of conduct we expect from all who wish to participate.
This subforum, Balance Discussions, represents the only area of the forum in which balance and game design discussions will be permitted. It is a strictly moderated section of the forum in which the forum rules apply in full and these rules, in addition to specific ones set out below, will be enforced to the letter. It is imperative that these discussions are had with the minimum of flaming, trolling, harassment, egotism, poor debate practices and general disruption, and that patience, respect and understanding are demonstrated towards other players and towards the staff within these threads.
This board's existence is a trial. If it does not work out, we will consider another means of accomplishing this aim. However, it is our solemn wish to involve the community as much as possible within this process.
Finally, this board's existence does NOT represent the beginning of a slippery slope into total reworking of the game, or even into faster and more frequent balance changes. We will continue, for the moment, just as we have done before.
Our General Strategy
As some of you are aware, our ability to make balance changes in the game is presently quite restricted, due to client limitations. This, in combination with our current progression being only to T3, means that we will be taking only limited action on balance at the present time. This means that the strategy outlined below does not, as yet, apply.
Our strategy for making changes in T4 is as follows:
1 - Ensure that classes are performing as they did on live. This is the fundamental requirement to begin fine balance changes which affect specs commonly used on live, as opposed to ones that buff underpowered specs. We must ensure that no bugs exist in a class and that its mechanics, abilities, tactics and morales function as they did on live, existing balance changes notwithstanding. Please note that this includes bugs that existed on live. Issues such as Piercing Bite will be fixed in this step.
2 - Make global changes. In this step, we will be considering changes which affect every class and represent the fundamentals of the game (a coarse balance pass). Examples of such fundamentals include the way armor penetration works or the resistance softcaps. We will naturally consider these first because of the great number of elements affected by modifications to these fundamentals.
3 - Make broad changes which affect multiple classes at once. This pass will include any archetype-based and racial modifications. Examples of such elements that could be modified are incorporating weapon DPS to caster ability damage, changing the passive bonuses granted by certain types of weapons, changing racial tactics, or changing the handling of Guard.
4 - Address classes individually. This is where we look at each individual class in depth and in isolation. We will be addressing in this stage both class external balance - how the class competes with others -and class internal balance - how well the class's own abilities and tactics compete against each other for usage, and how many viable specs it has.
It is intuitive, of course, to understand the primary aim of class balance: to ensure that all classes are viable options within the game, and that no individual player gains an undeserved advantage or disadvantage simply through selecting a given class. However, I feel it is important to note that while this, achieving class external balance, is one of the primary aims of this process, it is not the only one.
We also seek to achieve internal balance. This means that the class's internal options are balanced as well as they can be, and that a range of specs are viable instead of just one or two. It means that useless or underperforming elements of a class or archetype are improved, and that overperforming ones are toned down. It means considering the effectiveness of an ability, tactic or morale with respect to its mastery point cost. It means dealing with components of a particular mastery path or tree which are out of place for that tree, and if required, reworking any elements which were too idealistic and have no place within the game.
In respect to the above, I wish to state that we will not consider the current power of a class when dealing with underpowered or useless abilities, and we will not allow discussions regarding underperforming aspects of a viable class to be blocked by players pointing out that the class is already viable.
The minimum number of players on each side that we will be considering within the balance forum is 6v6. This does not mean that 6v6 is our primary goal, as scenarios vary between 6v6, 12v12 and 18v18 and Open RvR can involve much greater numbers than that. It merely indicates that we are not interested in balancing the game for engagements involving fewer players than 6v6.
Discussion of Balance Issues (Topic Starters)
One of the difficulties inherent in establishing a class balance forum is the potential for a very low signal to noise ratio, or, to put it another way, a lot of whining threads. In order to prevent this, we will require threads within this forum to be made according to the following format:
1. Identify the issue. Be as specific as possible. A thread identifying, for example, Festering Arrow in combination with the morale and SW-specific buffs would be a good example. A thread complaining about Shadow Warriors being OP would not.
2. Explain why it's an issue. You need to demonstrate why exactly the issue you've identified is such a problem, with reference to the metagame. To use an overpowered strategy as an example, this would involve demonstrating that the risk-reward balance of the strategy is incorrect, because the counterplay is either non-existent or overly demanding in comparison to the effort required to use the skill or strategy. It could also involve demonstrating that the strategy or game element is overcentralizing - i.e. that the metagame revolves around counters to this particular strategy or element, to the extent that not extensively preparing for it is an automatic death sentence.
To continue with Festering Arrow as an example, it would suffice to point out the difficulty of seeing the skill to detaunt it, its nature as a one-shotting skill preventing any after-the-fact plays, its ability to bypass resistances and the inability to stack other defenses to reliably mitigate it without unduly compromising other areas of one's build.
3. Propose a viable solution to the problem. In the case of an overpowered strategy, this would involve proposing either fair nerfs to the strategy or constructing a means of counterplay on the opposite side. It does not matter too much if the solution you propose is demonstrated to have flaws, as long as those flaws were not completely and totally obvious when you posted your topic. The purpose of the ensuing debate is both to verify the topic starter's thinking is correct and to refine a response to the problem.
Discussion of Balance Issues (Topic Responders)
The role of those responding to a topic is to reinforce or debunk the original poster's analysis of the issue and his proposed solution. Thus, broadly the same rules apply as to topic starters. Analysis of the topic starter's post must be thorough, and any solutions posted by responders which compete with the topic starter's proposed solution must be soundly based around resolving the issue in question.
When responding, be sure to use facts and support your reasoning rather than relying on the strength of your own reputation to support your post, no matter how good a player you may be.
Conduct within this Forum
As aforementioned, the existing forum rules apply to the letter here. This means no flaming, no trolling, no direct attacks, no l2p, etc, etc. There will inevitably be gross mistakes made by players with lesser understanding, and if you are a stronger player, I expect you to educate those who are less able than you are, rather than responding dismissively.
The following special rules will apply within this forum:
1. Do not make arguments based on engagements smaller than 6v6.
We are not interested in class performance and balance on scales smaller than 6v6. Period. Topics made based around such scales will be locked immediately, and posters making arguments which are based around performance at very small scales will be infracted. This rule primarily exists to keep 1on1 duelling topics out of the forum and to make it very clear that regardless of what anyone's opinion on the validity of duelling in Warhammer may be, we are not interested in dealing with it.
2. Do not restate a debunked point.
This rule is to protect against posters who believe in the maxim "All of your elegant arguments can easily be ignored." If you make a post expressing point X, and another poster debunks this post, you will be infracted if you rely on the point that was already debunked unless you yourself can argue convincingly against the other poster's analysis. An example:
Poster A wrote:Festerbombing is valid because Sorcerers can inflict 4k damage in a single timestamp.
Poster B wrote:That is different; a Sorcerer has to load up his damage beforehand and will lead with Chillwind and Word of Pain, giving you advance warning in which to deal with the problem.
Poster A, later wrote:It's ridiculous to nerf Festerbombing and leave Sorcs as they are.
In this case, Poster A is restating his previous point without dealing with Poster B's criticism, and Poster A will be infracted.
3. No reciprocal adjustments, aka: Don't appeal to your mirror.
When we are balancing classes, we are doing so in isolation. That means when we are considering, for example, Witch Elf and how to address any issues the class may have, we are NOT interested in hearing about how Witch Hunter will need X buffed or Y nerfed in order to maintain mirror parity. We will address Witch Elf first, and then, when Witch Hunter comes into the frame for adjustment, address that class.
The exceptions to this rule are:
- If Witch Hunter has already been addressed.
- If the problem is exactly the same for both mirrors.
This rule applies on the realm scale as well as the class scale, and it applies bilaterally. This means that, for example, if Destruction class X is in the frame for buffs or nerfs, we are not interested in hearing about how Order class Y must immediately be buffed or nerfed to compensate or how Destruction class Z has fewer viable specs and must be buffed first. Unlike with classes, there are no exceptions to this rule when it applies to realms.
4. No strawmanning, cherry picking or Omnislashing.
Strawmanning is misrepresenting a post in a way that suits you, usually by acting as if the poster holds an opinion which they clearly do not.
Cherry picking is selecting the parts of a post you think are easier to attack, and responding to those, while ignoring those which are detrimental to your own argument.
Omnislashing is a combination of both of the above, which involves dividing a post into many very small quotes, in order to break the context of each quote, then attacking each quote by abusing the lack of context which was created.
5. No PUG arguments.
Balance is based around classes being played competently. Do not make any argument which involves disparity of skill, gear or specialization on either side. It is desirable when buffing classes or specs to avoid making them PUG killers, but a buff to an underpowered element of the game which renders it or the class more powerful against PUGs is not a problem as long as this element has valid counterplay.
6. No arguments to item procs or abilities.
Class balance (abilities, tactics, morales) both supersedes and ignores the effect of all items. Any unusual effect (proc, ability) granted by an item MUST NOT be a prerequisite for a class's viability. Do not appeal to an item proc or item ability when discussing the balance of any class.
7. Post legibly.
Your arguments must be presented concisely and with good structure. Posting an illegible wall of text or a stream of consciousness post will result in action.
Access to the balance forums is considered by the staff to be a privilege. Accordingly, that privilege can be revoked. Infractions will be issued by the moderators of the balance forum to users in response to any incidents of rulebreaking, and posts which are judged to have broken the rules will be marked with red text indicating the offense and the severity of any penalty issued. If a user commits 3 infractions within a rolling one-month period, balance forum access will be revoked for one month. From that point on, any infraction will result in an instant loss of access for a greater period of time.
How We Will Proceed With Solutions
While threads on any topic are open to be created and discussed at any time, even well in advance of the time we could possibly be addressing them (within reason), we will only be able to focus on a few changes at a time. To this end, we will mark threads which we are interested in acting upon with an [OPEN COMMENTS] tag. This tag will serve as 2 weeks' notice, during which time community members are welcome to post their suggestions in earnest. However, as before, these suggestions must be grounded in reality, and you will need to demonstrate how your suggestion solves the problem in question, in detail, in order for it to have any chance of acceptance.
After this period, the staff will close the thread, and we will compile a list of the suggested changes that we feel to be realistic and valid solutions to the problem. These solutions will then be presented to the community for further discussion and for a consensus to be formed. This will NOT be a vote - it will be a debate towards a consensus.
If the consensus is in favour of accepting a given solution, then it will be implemented as soon as possible. If such changes require client modifications, then implementation and testing may take longer.
If the consensus is against accepting any of the proposed solutions, the opportunity to revise a given solution or reject all solutions outright will be presented. If a revision can be agreed upon and consensus supports it, then it will be implemented per the above. If no suitable revision can be reached, then the discussion will be shelved until a future date.