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A detailed feedback on the new blastbones changes

eredthelion
eredthelion
Soul Shriven
Hello everyone,

I wanted to give a detailed look into the goods and bads of the new sacrificial bones.

Before I get into the details I understand a lot of work already went into this from the dev team, and my goal is not to dismiss the effort they put into this. The change does have some positives in it - however in its current form it has some big issues when it comes to actual gameplay - and sadly falls short of its goal of making a more inclusive gameplay.

And for the record,
- I tested it on PTS
- my necro is my main toon on EU live server
- I played necro on a huge spectrum from "fun Roleplay themed builds for questing", solo and small group pvp, to EC+MK+Spaulder or parse DD in endgame trifecta groups.
- This is my first official forum post - but i did it because the issue is that important to me.
- and yes many of the stuff I will mention has been said in other forum posts by others but I wanted to give my organised opinion on the matter as this issue is important to me.


THE GOOD:
What I think is interesting on the new skill:

Positive aspect 1: I find the buff itself to be nice and unique, and lean into the DoT nature of the necromancer really well and combined with some damage over time specific sets some interesting builds can be made with it.

Positive aspect 2: "Becoming your own corpse" is actually useful in some scenarios (and dare I say fun!). Becoming a "walking aoe" with tether this way solves to some extent the problems with very mobile fights where you just ended up replacing aoes over and over again such as for example scrivener's hall's last boss (especially on hard mode).

Positive aspect 3: Oddly enough this method of corpse generation could be very interesting for a necromancer healer - altough the DoT damage buff doesn't help that aspect at all.

THE BAD:

While not ignoring the positives, the current implementation has two major flaws, that combined make the problem worse:

Problem 1: While blighted blastbones remains as an option to use, it lost some important properties stalking blastbones had for PVE while being outclassed as choice for PVP by sacrificial bones.

a) We lose Stalking Blastbones's damage increase at range.
This may seem like a buff, however it was actually a compensation when having to play from a greater distance. In such scenarios however the usual BB >> skill >> skill >> BB ... had an extra skill placed in between as you waited for impact, meaning: BB >> skill >> skill >> skill >> BB...; it was still more worth being in melee range, but at least you weren't falling behind so horribly as in contrast as if you were using blighted blastbones.

b) External Fire Damage buff is now lost
In pve group play the damage was buffed by Encratis Behemoth (2 piece monster set) as well Dragon Knight's engulfing flame ability. (respectively 5%+6% damage boost). This is not just some endgame optimisation perspective as engulfing flames is a popular skill choice (for a reason) on DKs and even lower end trial groups (meaning getting into veteran content) tend to have encratis with them as it boosts a bunch of other things like wall of elements on a fire staff.

c) Blighted blastbones will be even less favourable than it is now for both pve and pvp.
Major defile is useless in pve, even after the upcoming status effect changes this patch. It currently has its uses in pvp of course, but (un-)surprisingly the new sacrificial bones will be more favourable to use in pvp. Pvp is a more dynamic environment where having a chance to use some skills like syphon or healing tether on yourself would make it awesome and gives you a chance to lean into DOT pressure much more than now.

Problem 2: The new Sacrificial bones has issues with generating corpses at range and generating "enough" corpses without actually overcasting the ability before the cooldown is off.

In detail:

a) It doesn't generate corpses at your target when in range is actually a big loss and defeats the purpose of the buff itself.
For example: Boneyard when placed on a corpse does 30% more damage, but without the corpse at your target even with the new buff that boosts damage by 20% you end up being -10%. Not to mention you have no way to proc syphon on the target either.
This forces you into melee range or substantial loss of damage - instead of being melee range with a disadvantage at distance as it is on live at the moment.

b) You need to cast sacrificial bones almost as often as blastbones to have enough corpses to use, so it doesn't "simplify" rotation as the original intention was.
So with the current blastbones you generate a corpse to use every 3rd cast so hypothetically imagining perfect weaving (which is not a thing) that would be 20 corpses in 1 minute. If we were to use the sacrificial bones based on cooldown (3 times) that would be 6, but in practise you would need one every 10 seconds for graveyard at least, and every 20 seconds for syphon so you need to recast it at halfway the latest to have enough corpses. In practise you may want to use some other skills potentially, in addition detonating syphon is often used as a semi spammable on full DoT rotations (that this new sacrificial bones is meant to help)

c) Elemental catalyst use:
Since necromancers are known to use this in optimised raid group I want to adress it here as it also stems from the no ranged corpse issue. The new morph will throw you constantly in harms way. Here is a gameplay scenario: Often times when approaching a group of enemies from the front you aim your blastbones at the left most target but run a bit towards the right, after impact you use mystic syphon on it hitting multiple mobs with the electrical weakness debuff. Now with the new blastbones to debuff all these mobs you literally have to run into the middle of that group since the syphon is on you. For trash packs this is more okay as some weak targets can leave a corpse, but in scenarios such as Halls of Fabrication committee fight when you stack up the triplets *(even if just for the under 20% execute and not just fancy burn strats) *you will have to stand in the Reclaimer's electric AOE to debuff which equals guaranteed death.

SO WHAT TO FIX:
There were many interesting solutions posted already in the forums, some fancy, some less fancy, and i will not pretend I know better how to fix things, but I would say the absolute minimum you need to solve:
1) Ranged gameplay (corpses at a distance) needs to be useable!
2) Replacing stalking blastbones with Blighted blastbones in traditional necro setups is not good enough as it is now and sacrificial bones IS more favourable in pvp to blighted blastbones. So a simple sollution would be to replace blighted blastbones with sacrificial bones instead OR make blighted blastbones actually on par for pve to the current stalking blastbones. (taking in mind group buffs like the fire damage buff from encratis and DK's engulfing flames).

CONCLUSION
A small personal opionion in the end: these changes were made to make the class more accessible for newer or more casual players. As an individual with a disability myself I am for inclusivity and there were good implementations in the past for it (velothi, oakensoul, arcanist beam etc). One bar necromancer oakensoul builds exist already for example, and do well enough for regular veteran content even. It is okay to have a few aspects of your game be challenging to grasp or understand. It took some work to learn this class at a trifecta gameplay level but the fight and struggle and hunger to understand it is what makes it actually so special to me and many others out there.

I hope you understand this criticism comes from a place of love and care for this unique class that brought me thousands of hours of fun!
  • eredthelion
    eredthelion
    Soul Shriven
    @IncultaWolf
    I agree that here would me miles more important issues to fix than changing stalking blastbones... (in fact i would prefer if they left things alone altogether despite falling short on damage in endgame trial content).

    There are many great suggestions to fixing it both in your post and others in the forum, I just mostly wanted to highlight in my post "Why the current proposed change is problematic" rather than offer a fix myself.
  • Rasande_Robin
    Rasande_Robin
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    Very informative thread, thank you.

    Keep up the good work!
    PC/EU: Orcana "something"-stone
  • ItsNotLiving
    ItsNotLiving
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    If you move the buff to a different skill it would HAVE to be nerfed on the percentages. Blastbones has a huge tooltip and a very strong modifier to increase it if you add 20% to it it would simply be too strong and would be very problematic in PvP.
  • Ramonfg95
    Ramonfg95
    Soul Shriven
    Revise the Necromancer class in order to prioritize the summoning and interaction with deceased entities. Regarding the Blastbones ability, consider altering one of its morphs to summon a feeble skeleton warrior that engages in combat for a duration of 16 or 20 (whichever is appropriate) seconds before detonating upon demise. Alternatively, introduce a morph that hinders the target by either slowing them down or stunning them. These adjustments would greatly enhance the tangible essence of the Necromancer theme. Presently, the lack of thematic gameplay renders the necromancers ineffective within this game.

    What every enthusiast of this class yearns for is the capability to exercise authority over summons, rely on them, and manipulate them as if they were puppets. Unfortunately, this class fails to fulfill these desires.

    The notion that minions have a duration of 20 seconds may be deemed unsatisfactory, yet it is essential for gameplay purposes, as it allows for the creation of functional entities. This aspect adds an enjoyable element to the game mode, rendering it highly commendable. It is encouraged to exploit this mechanic, without hesitation, in order to establish a distinctive class. Furthermore, it is kindly requested that you actively engage in playing your own game and take into consideration the viewpoints of those who utilize the class for their amusement.
  • Cayr
    Cayr
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    Adding some kind of a buff option like this is potentially an interesting idea, I just take issue with the wording of the dev comment as to the reasons why: "We specifically did this to help reduce the intense demand and complex rotation requirement of the class, as Blastbones demands an activation once every 3 seconds minimum, making it very difficult to maximize and play around." ...that was the whole point of it. People who enjoy simpler or static rotations already have plenty of other class and build options. Or as OP said it's okay to have some stuff be challenging to figure out, it's also much more rewarding. Challenge is not a bad thing, I wish ZOS would stop acting like it is. The necro rotation isn't too difficult, it just takes some figuring out and that's what's fun about it.

    Necro with the current SB morph has a very interesting and dynamic rotation unlike any other class. Getting rid of that uniqueness in favor of just a buff to other skills is just a nothing-burger. And currently it is "getting rid of it", because the other morph of Blastbones just won't be relevant in PvE without some serious changes. It's not like necros don't have plenty of under-utilised skills that could have been altered, changing the most used and interesting skill is just a big ol' 'L'.
    Edited by Cayr on February 2, 2024 2:24PM
  • Aldoss
    Aldoss
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    If you move the buff to a different skill it would HAVE to be nerfed on the percentages. Blastbones has a huge tooltip and a very strong modifier to increase it if you add 20% to it it would simply be too strong and would be very problematic in PvP.

    I actually disagree with this, but only on the grounds that blastbones is currently necro's only true useful skill. If that weren't the case, then maybe.

    Blastbones already has suffered an inherent 10% nerf from 100% uptime on minor evasion from Arcanist passives. The idea of necro being a dot class is long gone given that arcanist is able to do that job with greater power using status effects than necro could ever hope to achieve.

    NBs have a single skill that can do 20k+ through full armor buffs and rallying cry. It can be forced to crit, but can be dodged. Even when a NB chooses not to telegraph the spec bow with an incap, the skill can still easily do 15k+ through rallying cry.

    Necro BBs are extremely telegraphed. They can be stunned, immobolized, and killed before they explode. When they wander into a silence, they sit motionless, even if they were cast outside the silence. The damage on BBs can't be dodged, but can be mitigated by two easily sourced buffs, maj and min evasion, that drop the damage of them significantly. You know when impact will happen and anyone decent in PvP will tap block for the impact. BBs also don't always hit the target you intended to cast it on.

    Necro is the only class in the game without a sticky dot which makes all of their skills completely harmless. If that's going to be the case, they deserve to have one skill that is able to actually do something against juiced targets, just like NBs get with merciless.

    I will happily withdraw my argument for this should the devs finally add something back into the necro toolkit that makes BB less of a crutch. For now, a 20% buffed BB would be the bare minimum needed to bring necro back into the meta, and it still wouldn't touch 90% of what's wrong with the class.

  • Remathilis
    Remathilis
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    Nerco is the only class in the game without a sticky dot which makes all of their skills completely harmless. If that's going to be the case, they deserve to have one skill that is able to actually do something against juiced targets, just like NBs get with merciless.

    What should be done is that blighted should leave a sticky dot on the enemy for X seconds in addition to the maim. Something akin to plaguebreaks proc.

    I wouldn't mind if the other morph shot multiple skeletons out either akin to shalks or curse. Anything to make BB less frequent than every third skill.
    Edited by Remathilis on February 3, 2024 4:39AM
  • CameraBeardThePirate
    CameraBeardThePirate
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    Aldoss wrote: »
    The damage on BBs can't be dodged

    Actually, with sufficient movement speed, Blastbones CAN be dodged. It doesn't count as an official dodge mechanically, but if you have enough movement speed, you escape the detonation AoE and take no damage.
    Edited by CameraBeardThePirate on February 3, 2024 4:19PM
  • JerBearESO
    JerBearESO
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    If you move the buff to a different skill it would HAVE to be nerfed on the percentages. Blastbones has a huge tooltip and a very strong modifier to increase it if you add 20% to it it would simply be too strong and would be very problematic in PvP.

    You can't exactly not block a 2s telegraphed blastbones though.... in other words, it is far too counterplayable to be too worried about the damage buff it would have, especially when necro has so much room for damage buffs without becoming a problem.
  • Aldoss
    Aldoss
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    Aldoss wrote: »
    The damage on BBs can't be dodged

    Actually, with sufficient movement speed, Blastbones CAN be dodged. It doesn't count as an official dodge mechanically, but if you have enough movement speed, you escape the detonation AoE and take no damage.

    100% true. I didn't include that because it's not technically a mechanic... more like yet another thing the devs didn't think about when they progressively allowed more and more easy access to speed boosts. Watching a BB time itself out is disappointing, to say the least. You can't even cast another when this happens and you can't do anything to speed it up.

    BB SHOULD get a 20% buff, and if gravelord's sacrifice is the means by which to do it... cool. Fine. I would have liked more than a bandaid skill to solve the numerous problems, but I could live with this if the devs grace us with their agreement to put this proposed morph onto one of the numerous other useless necro skills and not BB.
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