(EDIT: Changed "pandering" to "farming" in the title because I don't know English)
And so comes and goes the fourth week of the PTS. Let's see if the changes for v4.3.3 actually mean anything. This time, I'm doing it with a testing methodology that is actually not fundamentally flawed.
To provide an accurate set of data concerning damage difference across races, using Magicka Templars as an example.
All of the documentation on my testing through all PTS cycles is in my other thread
Consistency is still key. The goal of my parses isn't trying for the highest number each time; the goal is to replicate each parse perfectly across races, including identical rotations, and identical builds.
In fact, the elimination of human error is so important that I have resorted to using AutoHotKey scripts
for my parsing. Not just that; due to the complexity of all of my rotations that include buffing up, recasting buffs, using potions, and taking orbs. I have created a program in Processing that writes my scripts.
Automating automation. Amazing.
Just as a disclaimer
, because people will definitely comment on it: I do not condone the use of macros for Live gameplay, especially when it also affects other players.
This instance of gameplay automation is done only on the PTS, and is solely for the purpose of collecting consistent and reliable data on these changes.
Another thing is I have developed my own spreadsheets and formulas to eliminate as much RNG as possible. Variance is always going to be a thing when it comes to parsing, especially with so much RNG in play. The RNG that affects our parses the most is our Crit Chance; even with 10 parses per race, the Crit Chance RNG can vary wildly; my formula recalculates all of my parses with a normalized Critical Chance based on my stats, completely eliminating any and all lucky and unlucky Crits in play within parses
I did not
equalize all the Health values between races for my parses. While it is someone's preferred way of doing it for the misguided sake of "balanced values", it produces results that are unfairly skewed towards races with more Health, when in fact DPS in scorepushing trials do not do that
. While Magicka/Stamina can be traded for Health for more survivability, the opposite cannot
happen if you'd rather have more DPS, and every one would rather have more DPS. I will go more in-depth into this topic below in my analyses.
I have selected six races to be compared: Khajiit, Altmer, Dunmer, Breton, Argonian, and Nord. These are typical Magicka races aside from the Nord, which is representative of a race with no racial passives in the context of Magicka DPS.
These are all Magicka Templar parses on the 6mil target skeleton, with Worm, Elemental Drain, and Orbs provided by an assistant.
5/1/1 Zaan + Perfected Siroria armor, Infused on big pieces, Divines on small, all Magicka glyphs.
Spell Strategist jewelry, 1 Infused 2 Bloodthirsty, all Spell Damage glyphs.
Frontbar Spell Strategist Inferno Staff, Infused with Flame glyph.
Backbar Maelstrom Inferno Staff, Infused with Berserker glyph.
Vampirism stage 2 and above.
Mundus: The Thief (Critical Chance)
Khajiit, Altmer, Dunmer, Argonian, Nord - Clockwork Citrus Filet (Magicka + Health + Magicka Recovery)
Breton - Mistral Banana-Bunny Hash (Magicka + Health)
Provided buffs: Elemental Drain, Orbs, and Worm's Raiment.
1. Purifying Light > Blockade of Fire > Vampire's Bane > Blazing Spear > 4x Elemental Weapon
2. Purifying Light > Blockade of Fire > Elemental Weapon > Blazing Spear > Vampire's Bane > 3x Elemental Weapon
3. Purifying Light > Blockade of Fire > Elemental Weapon > Blazing Spear > 3x Elemental Weapon > Vampire's Bane
4. Purifying Light > Blockade of Fire > Elemental Weapon > Blazing Spear > 2x Elemental Weapon > Channeled Acceleration
Refresh Channeled Focus on cooldown, replacing one Elemental Weapon cast.
Spell Symmetry is slotted and is used before a Blazing Spear cast, replacing one Elemental Weapon cast, when a particular race needs the sustain.
Radiant Oppression is slotted, but is not used. Executes are unpredictable and can make results vary a lot between parses. My scripts are also not reactive; they have no way of detecting when a dummy reaches a certain Health threshold and switching to a different rotation seamlessly. In any case, as far as I know, all of my abilities scale the exact same way, including Light Attacks, so in terms of damage difference between races, this is still accurate.
The Argonian and Khajiit did not need to cast Spell Symmetry; the Altmer, Dunmer, and Breton only needed to cast Spell Symmetry once; the Nord needed to cast it twice.
There is, however, one single caveat that changed how I parsed in this one compared to previous PTS iterations: Combat Metrics does not detect the 10% extra Critical Damage from Khajiiti, and calculates the total damage from Critical Hits based on the lower 190% Critical Damage rather than the actual 200% Critical Damage that Khajiiti have. As a result, all of my Khajiiti parses were done without that 10% Critical Damage passive, and then scaled up along with the Crit Chance normalization. Fortunately, nothing else is changed; I was still able to pull off the full static rotation without any change, so as far as I am concerned, these scaled results are still fully accurate to their performance with that additional Crit Damage.
Many people here are suckers for pretty looking graphs, so I have made one right here. These are the results I have with all of the parses, with fully normalized Crit Chance.
I personally prefer numbers, though.
Raw parse data from CMX
These are all numbers I've gotten directly in the parse window of Combat Metrics. The Critical Chance in each of these parses are not normalized, and can vary wildly, which will create discrepancies and inaccuracies in my results, so do not take these numbers as they are. The Khajiiti parses were done without their Critical Damage passive;
check reasoning above. Again, I was able to do the full rotation without modifying anything, so there should be no discrepancies in results when I scale those numbers up.
Calculated parse numbers with normalized Critical Chance
This is done through manually calculating the Critical Values according to what we have in our builds, which is 51.8% Critical Chance and 190% Critical Damage (200% for Khajiiti). This also fixes the previous damage numbers from Khajiiti. These are the numbers that are the most representative of the damage differences between races at the moment.
Calculated parse numbers with non-Templar Critical Damage
This is a recalculation of the previous numbers to see how the Templar Critical Damage passive affects races, Khajiiti in particular. Funnily enough, this change to Khajiiti Crit actually makes them worse on Templars and Nightblades compared to Dragonknights and Wardens in relation to other races, which is the complete opposite of how they were in previous PTS iterations. I just find this fascinating. Can't say anything for Sorcerers though.
The Khajiiti Critical Damage Passive
With this Khajiiti change from 8% Critical Chance to 10% Critical Damage, we see a pretty sizable nerf of their damage, down to below the three main Magicka races.
What is more concerning, really, is how this 10% Critical Damage scales; basically, what this means is that they will get less of a benefit in terms of damage compared to other races when they receive buffs like Major Force or use either Templar or Nightblades.
I understand why people would be concerned about this change; people naturally dislike nerfs. However, I believe that the nerf, PvE damage-wise, actually puts them in healthy spot for DPS. I'd personally rather have Altmer, Dunmer, and Bretons brought down in power to be more in line with Khajiiti because what we have right now is already too big of a DPS difference
between the top and bottom races. In Murkmire, the DPS difference between top and bottom race is 5.68%
, which is already more than enough to inspire a lot of elitism within the end-game raiding community; on PTS 4.3.3, that number is 6.89%
, way too high.
I've also discussed this with some of my PvP pals, and they said that this change makes Khajiiti too powerful in terms of PvP, especially in the way of gank builds. I am personally not a PvP person myself, but I believe them.
If anything, I would change that passive to 3% Critical Chance and 5% Critical Damage; it would serve as a decent middle-ground for PvP power while keeping them at a really healthy spot for PvE.
Balance and Shoehorning Races into Support Roles
I am still extremely concerned about Argonians: they are still the lowest among the Magicka races in terms of DPS. The gist of it is that ZOS intends on shoehorning them into the healer role, and that is quite unfair to the people who play Argonians.
It all highlights a fundamental flaw in the current iteration of racial passives for Wrathstone: the roles and the stat categories they represent don't really mix in terms of balance.
I'll put it this way: there is a stat and effectiveness ceiling for DPS, and there is none of that for any other role. What I mean by that is that an amazing player will be able to tank and PvP to the same effectiveness on an Altmer as they can on an Argonian, including Engulfing Flames and Alkosh uptimes, given that the player has enough skill to pull it off, because those roles depend mostly on player skill rather than stats. The same amazing player cannot do the same for DPSing because those are inherently limited by stats, not skill.
To put this into more logical terms, here are the categories racial passives are broken down into and the roles that use them in PvE:
a) Stamina Damage + Sustain (Max Stamina, Weapon Damage, Weapon Crit, Stamina Recovery) - Stamina DPS
b) Magicka Damage + Sustain (Max Magicka, Spell Damage, Spell Crit, Magicka Recovery) - Magicka DPS, Healing
c) Utility (Max Health, Healing Done, survival stuff) - Tanking, Healing, PvP
The big issue here is the difference in the nature
of the stats themselves and the roles that use those stats: Magicka/Stamina passives can be swapped for Health/Utility stats because utility roles need 2-3 of those stats, but Health/Utility passives cannot be exchanged for Magicka/Stamina stats for DPS because the DPS role only needs either Magicka or Stamina stats.
That's the key: a) and b) can be swapped for more c), but a) cannot be swapped for b), b) cannot be swapped for a), and c) cannot be swapped for either a) or b). This is just the nature of what these roles require in PvE.
For example, if a Redguard wants to tank, sure, they're not the best race for it, but due to their additional Stamina pool, they are able to put fewer points into Stamina and more points into Health to better match an Imperial, therefore converting Stamina to Health, because utility roles make use of Health and at least one additional resource. Their racial passives don't exactly limit their ability to tank effectively.
However, damage roles do not use any utility resources, and therefore any utility passives they get cannot be converted into something useful for them; for example, if a Nord wants to be a Stamina DPS, they don't have anything to DPS with other than a measly 1500 Stamina and no sustain to speak of, and there is no way they can convert the Health they have into extra Stamina that they can make use of. This limits the scope of their ability to do anything other than tanking.
To bring this back to Argonians, their 6% Healing Done passive does not do anything for their DPS, compared to the Spell Damage bonus that Altmer have which boosts their DPS and
their Healing Done. Basically, Argonians are shoehorned into a support role without any flexibility. Heck, even sustain, the main draw for Argonians for the healing role, is overshadowed by Bretons on Live
, and with the huge buff to Breton sustain for Wrathstone along with the nerf to Argonian sustain, Argonian healers don't even stand a chance.
This is the thing: both Stamina and Magicka passives are always going to be more useful than Utility passives; they are ultimately the most flexible and useful. The only
DPS passive that does not really scale well into other roles is Weapon Damage.
Real quick, I'll also just add that Health set bonuses are 10% more potent than equivalent Stamina and Magicka set bonuses. Enchantments are the exact same way. This relationship between Health and Stam/Mag, however, is nonexistent in the Racial Passives. Basically, ZOS has failed to balance those on that
front as well.
I didn't test Imperials in anything, but I heard that they're viable for Stamina DPS now with their new 3% cost reduction to all abilities.
I have to say, I love, love, love
this change. This ties in to my points above, about how races shouldn't be shoehorned into utility roles; with the change from bash + block cost reduction to full 3% reduction of all abilities, they become viable as DDs as well without buffing their ability as tanks. This is the only change here that gives me a sliver of hope that the same kind of treatment can be applied to Nords and Argonians.
I had originally planned to do Stamplar, Stamsorc, Magsorc as well. However, each one of these sessions take about 1 hour to do per race, not including preparation for the testing such as coding my scripts and getting my spreadsheets ready, as well as creating the characters and preparing my gear. Unfortunately, I will not have any Stamina results for this PTS cycle.