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.
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.
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.
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).
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!