Well patch time has come and gone, and the Imperial City is fresh and alive with pve'rs and pvp'rs alike. Admittedly, I've been power grinding a magicka sorc because, lets face it, Stam sorcs can barely cut it, and that doesn't seem like its going to change any time soon. Nevertheless, now that I have some first hand experience in the Imperial City, I'm here to lay down some feedback. With the hope of keeping things concise and not degrading into a text wall, I'll give you my best interpretation through the 8 most significant observations I have noted.
Edited by Cathexis on September 2, 2015 10:31PM
(1) Overall, Stam sorc survivability has improved.
While I generally hate sweeping, bandaid, kneejerk changes that are applied to the whole system like a blunt hammer to the teeth, I have to admit that the gimping of shields, damage, and blocking have been a positive stride for stamina sorcs. When faced with the post-patch rebuild, I no longer feel bound to the extreme play styles of either a damageless block build on flip or a glass cannon two hand/dualwield/bow combo. All of the specs feel more in line with each other in terms of their damage output and utility (strictly in terms of comparing pre-patch to post-patch).
(2) Range damage builds for stamina sorcs are dead.
Gone are the days of snipe builds for stamina sorcs. While the stamina cost of snipe spamming don't seem to have been affected detrimentally, the damage output of snipe not in stealth is easily out-healed. Prepatch unstealthed I could bring down an opponent with 3-4 snipes if they let their guard down, and 2-3 from stealth. Now I can spam snipe on a single target until my stam is gone and effectively not put a dent in them. Stealth snipes are also only marginally better than unstealth snipes now, since the toggle magelight for 20% damage has been removed. With the nerfs to stamina regen, silver shards(+morphs) have also become too expensive to spam.
(3) There is no reason to make a block build.
With stamina regen nerfed, block regen turned off, and the pvp damage nerf, there is no added benefit to running a block build that I can see. The damage nerf basically mitigates the same amount of damage I previously mitigated with block pre-patch. Because of this the extra damage mitigated compared to the stamina lost in combat just isn't worth the trade off. What good is blocking damage if all my resources to retaliate are gone? Not that I think that stam-block relationship changes are bad. In fact they are the reason I can now compete against dragon knights, who can't just block infinitely anymore. I also don't think block, itself has become useless, but now I use it more circumstantially, regardless of having a sword/board equiped.
(4) Two-Hand is the new Two-Hand.
Since the patch, it seems clear that the main way to deal out damage as a stam sorc is in the form of two-hand melee. The only two abilities that run damage that hits hard enough to make a dent are snipe(+morphs) and wrecking blow, and with survivability up, why bother with range when you can knockback someones face into the ground. While I don't know if I would revert a lot of the changes to the combat dynamic, and while the playing field for stam sorcs has somewhat leveled a bit, the diversity of damage builds has officially been reduced to two-hand slam which is a bit disappointing.
(5) Why do I even have a second bar?
With two-hand emerging as the do or die for stam sorcs, it occurs to me that there is no real reason why I even have a second bar. I can basically slot anything into my second bar and the build will ultimately function same. Range abilities like bow skills and throwing blade can be out-healed and out-run. Sword and board is more useful for defensive stance than for actual blocking. Bar flip has basically been reduced to a buff bar for the two hand bar, and the more I look at it, Vigor at Dark Deal stacking have slotted me into some sort of stamina healer role (which, actually, is quite fun). That said, it has made choices for second ultimates a little more diverse, so that's a plus.
(6) Dark Deal Returns are Pitiful
Don't get me wrong the changes to dark deal in terms of the way it functions are GREAT. Being able to spam it without losing mobility and turning into a giant target is huge buff in terms of its function. That said, its cost/return ratio is pitiful. In terms of heals it is only useful as an augmentation stacking with other healing abilities. As a stamina return tool, its fundamental utility remains almost the exact same as before; basically you will only get useful returns if you have an extended period of time to spam it. The returns are also significantly worse than its previous returns. Pre-patch casting it returned around 2/3 of your stamina. Now I'm not expecting those numbers, but currently spamming it say 4 or 5 times returns maybe under half your stamina (which, in total, runs longer in collective cast time as well than its pre-patch equivalent). Stamina return needs to be a little bit better. That said, it does shine in one way it didn't before; it can now be casted intermittently while in combat. While the returns are almost unnoticeable, it can, for instance, offset the cost of a vigor cast, which means you aren't running a slight stam deficit as you run in initially to engage a target. Overall, the utility is better, but this has been a sideways buff.
(7) Vigor changes were necessary.
Being able to acquire vigor at a lower rank has been a god-sent. Melee combat as a stam sorc basically hinges on this ability.
(8) Things aren't worse, but they aren't better either.
1vX is still bad, although its my understanding it has significantly declined for a lot of builds. Still, 1vX as a stamina sorc is difficult. Direct 1vX is just impossible -- healing mitigation, while significantly better in this patch, still just won't keep up with getting wailed on by 2 people. 1vX improvements for stamina sorcs are, if anything, more attributed to the chaos of the Imperial City. In that regard, 1vX as a stamina sorc isn't direct combat, its more like a hit and run. You crash your opponents as hard as possible and then bolt into the nearest baddy-filled hall way. Overall, my character still does significantly better in a group than solo, except now stam sorcs have the added obstacle of being forced to go balls deep with everyone you encounter. That'd be fine but its not a great combo for collecting tel-var stones.
That's basically it. Feel free to post comments or thoughts about the current state of stamina sorcs or ideas about the direction they need to go in from here.
Pvp will never balance in a sufficient feeling manner for the player base, until the player base stops viewing it as a pve farming activity.