A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

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A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by trihero » Sat May 20, 2017 5:23 am

I thought I'd consolidate thoughts I've had about the 1.3 class trees. They are better than ever in terms of balance, power, and interesting choices, but here are some specific rows where I think the choice could be improved


Gunnery Sergeant: Bring'em On, Close Combat Specialist, Untouchable

Bring'em On I feel is a fairly no brainer "don't pick me." This is because it is quite generally overkill damage. The reasons it is overkill damage are 1) because the shotgun's natural damage and crit damage are such that if you are on par in terms of weapon tech, when you crit it's going to kill (bonus: factor in talon rounds and killer instinct), and bring'em on doesn't kill them any deader 2) bring'em on is so high in the tree that you will additionally have a double shot of some kind for sure by that point that you learn BoE (rapid fire/hit & run/CE) so even if you don't quite believe point 1, I can all but guarantee you will see overkill when you get 2 critical shots at the same target. BoE is certainly better than no trait at all and you can theoretically make up situations where that extra bit of crit damage was the difference between a kill or not, but the sheer excellent consistent and broadly useful powers of CCS/Untouchable far outweigh those fringe situations where BoE might once in a blue moon mean the difference between killing or not killing.

To me an interesting choice here would be Combat Fitness or Sprint. I'm admittedly a little biased to suggest extra movement because I think assaults really live and die on movement points and they could use that option somewhere on the tree. It's pretty depressing how slowly they move when you're obligated to weigh them down with plating/vest/talon rounds. It might make excellent competition with CCS/Untouchable.

Note that BoE is totally fine in Ranger specs since their weapon is light years away from being able to one shot things (on crit) compared to the shotgun.


Sergeant: Boosted Cores, Formidable, Bluescreen Bombs

Formidable stands out as a "don't pick me." If you are using a grenadier in your lineup, you're going to be using it for either offensive or defensive grenades, and both boosted/bluescreen are indispensable upgrades to those grenades. You may ask why not pick on the previous tier where its heavy ordnance/protector, but here I can see that those aren't necessarily indispensable as you may not actually use all your grenades in every mission or you may have additional sources like airdrop to compensate for limited ammunition. But if you are going to use your grenades at some point, which is totally reasonable, I would be somewhat if not extremely dumbfounded if you didn't pick boosted cores for offensive grenades (huge dps increase, especially for dot grenades), or bluescreen bombs (ability to control robots in addition to organic???? sign me up). Lastly, formidable isn't quite as strong as it once was, grenadiers aren't on the frontlines getting hit a lot like assaults, and grenadiers don't naturally come with other skills that make them strong candidates for tanks. All of these are not issues that need to be corrected or anything, but the end result is formidable makes little sense for this class in this tier. Perhaps the "Suppression" skill would make a very interesting choice actually instead of Formidable in this tier. Or Fortify.

Note that I'm generally fine with formidable in other classes in their particular locations, just not this particular instance for the aforementioned reasons.

Gunnery Sergeant: Volatile Mix, Bombardier, Salvo

In this tier Volatile Mix seems like a "pick me always." In 1.3, the radius of flashbangs were decreased, and the advanced grenade launcher provides +2 range instead of +1 range + 1 radius. Since radii have gone down, it almost feels necessary to pick Volatile Mix to get good radii again. Additionally, since you get bonus range essentially for free from the new advanced nade launcher, Bombardier's range improvement is directly less of a need. Range wasn't a problem to begin with in 1.2, and it's even less of a problem now that we have +1 range compared simply from carrying the 1.3 launcher. I find myself hard pressed to find a situation where bombardier makes any sense, and volatile mix is just so necessary to get decent/powerful radii again. Salvo's probably ok, but to reiterate the 1.3 changes to the grenadier class have vastly shifted any reasonable choice from bombardier directly into volatile mix.

One cynical solution would be to downgrade the range bonus to +1 from the adv nade launcher, but I think that's just a spiteful direction to go in and doesn't really fix that radii is so important to the power of all grenades. One direction is to really exaggerate bombardier by giving say +5 range or something. Might not be the right way to go, but the point remains.

I'm not going to beat these to death and we don't even necessarily need to discuss these any further in this thread, as I started a discussion about these gunner skills in a different thread; just listing them here for completeness as far as listing the skills I don't think are interesting choices

Corporal: Flush, Formidable, Lockdown

Flush still feels bad. You should use Focus Fire or Holotarget if you want to hit something better. Flush can miss, it can send enemies to bad positions. Just because it can stack with other debuffs doesn't mean it's worth casting (spending too much time debuffing is rarely if ever a good choice; you want people actually firing after debuffing once). Demolition also makes this skill feel silly. Yes again it's true they're on separate cooldowns and you can choose both, but the action economy of flush feels very poor and can backfire. I would suggest a rework/reimagining of flush. Maybe it always hits and has no cooldown? Sounds op but at the end of the day, you are combining a lot of classes together and only dealing with one enemy at a time, and there are still enemies who are immune/resistant to OW. Or replace with holotarget?

Tech Sergeant: Cyclic Fire, Danger Zone, Cool Under Pressure

CuP is a strong skill in general and works wonders in other classes, but if you are going for an OW gunner then Danger Zone really feels like the only way to do it right. The ability to catch even 1 more enemy than a regular Area Suppression gives you both more control and damage on average than going CuP would. If you catch say 3+ enemies than you normally would, CuP looks like a disastrously bad pick. Arguably, if you are fighting low numbers of units/spread out units where DZ doesn't work so well, there are better classes suited to those situations so CuP seems unnecessary and maybe you should have gone cyclic fire to help wipe out those couple units, but there are few classes suited better than DZ against large numbers of enemies. As long as you do a bit of damage beforehand which is totally reasonable like a grenade to remove cover, CuP crits aren't even necessarily relevant to one shot enemies as mayhem + lockdown + softening up + DZ probably is good enough.


Staff Sergeant: Long Watch, Independent Tracking, Low Profile

Low profile stands out as the best pick here. It is an incredibly useful +20 defense essentially which is turned on all the time. Even when I use sharpshooters that try to stay away from the action, sometimes the enemy still gets within range eventually just because of the pod size and availability of cover, and some enemies have squad sight as well. It's amazing and like xwynns put it recently when deciding on which to pick, he was saying even if it saves you once it beats out the other "janky" picks, long watch needs an AWC companion to be good, and independent tracking just feels lackluster. Usually when I holo target something, it's going to die in one turn. If not, it's bad luck or bad planning and not worth giving up massive +20 defense for. Maybe if Independent Tracking were instead an aim malus? And if long watch removed the OW aim penalty? Then we'd have a fight on our hands.


Just a general comment about Lone Wolf (which isn't even specific to the Shinobi) - I think it might be interesting to consider making it so it's a bonus that scales with distance, instead of a binary yes or no I'm this far away check. Tile counting is really annoying and we don't always want to use mods like Gotcha again to track it. Unless it's hard to code or something, why not make it so the bonus scales up to a max of 10/10 when 7 tiles away, but you get graduating bonuses in between? Like maybe between 1-2 tiles you get no bonus, but then you get a bit better the further you are away. It'd be a nice QoL change.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by ShockmasterFred » Sat May 20, 2017 7:19 am

I don't agree with all of your issues on the trees, hit I'm too tired to list my reasons, and also, whether I agree or not is not really important as this is an excellent post, and you articulated your ideas and issues and a wonderfully constructive way. Kudos on the top notch critique!

The one thing I was in total agreement with, and wanted to shout "Eureka!!! Yes!! That's the ticket!!" about was the Lone Wolf thing. First, anything that takes tile counting out of the equation is a good idea. I hate tile counting and have no patience for it. Second, it doesn't enter the realm of OP with w scaling bonus, but just gives it enough oomph to make it a truly excellent perk. Top shelf idea, I hope the devs look into that, because it makes the game better, at least in my opinion.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by bilfdoffle » Sat May 20, 2017 7:29 am

A few thoughts before I head to bed:

Low profile is +15 defense, not 20. Unless you​reverted back to vanilla cover values I guess. Long watch is useful for the occasional cup or other decent ow perks in the awc. Independent tracking is decent on Holo spec.

Lone wolf counting is fixed by gotcha again, which counts for you.

Formidable is a decent perk on grenadiers, as you could consider not taking a plating assuming you always do (I do), and instead take another grenade.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by JulianSkies » Sat May 20, 2017 8:24 am

On the note of Boosted Cores...
Let me add that the only place where I see Boosted Cores as useful is DoT grenades wherein you're getting +3 damage. +1 damage with your explosive grenades is not actually that useful since that is not what you are using them for, explosive grenades are for clearing cover so other people can kill (If you're building a landscaper-type grenadier, that is. If you're making a kill-type then they're there mostly because you don't have enough better grenades).
So in the case of a landscaper myself i'd pick Formidable because I don't tend to run my grenadiers with armor on them (bad idea, I know, they suffer for it)

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by Monochrome » Sat May 20, 2017 8:50 am


Gunnery Sergeant: Volatile Mix, Bombardier, Salvo
For me, Bombadier is the best choice if you're going for a sapper-grenadier build. Blast radius doesn't matter nearly as much to them, but extra range does, to help ensure you can reach that bit of cover you absolutely need gone.

Staff Sergeant: Long Watch, Independent Tracking, Low Profile
I agree about Low Profile, but I've had a few missions (retaliations, mostly) where I wish I'd taken Long Watch. If Long Watch only used 1 AP, and/or worked with Snapshot, I'd be very tempted by it.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by TheDarkZero » Sat May 20, 2017 9:34 am

I just got a sniper whose 2 offence awc skill is grazing fire, the 2 defensive skill is cool under pressure and the third defensive is rapid reaction, long watch best perk!

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by Tuhalu » Sat May 20, 2017 10:17 am

Independant Tracking is actually pretty good on big missions for a full holotargetter. The idea being you scout out a pod, hit them with all with the holotargetter and then pull them into your overwatch trap on the next turn with a squadsight shot.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by VanTheMan » Sat May 20, 2017 11:59 am

Yeah, I was also going to mention full holotarget build. Sniper officer who leads by example (hey guys, aim like me!). When you multitarget, you aren't always going to kill it all in one turn. They can also single target up to 3 things in a turn. It's not hard to have every enemy targeted always when it's persisting through turns. And there's the aim boost for overwatch shots that comes with that, too. Being able to use command on an assault when needed makes it so you don't lose value from a soldier who "does nothing". They stay concealed so no need for low profile.

I agree about long watch being kinda questionable without an AWC perk to support. It was good in vanilla vs vanilla numbers, but against LW2 numbers, a single overwatch shot vs the advent power rangers doesn't do much, I'd rather have my sniper actively working with the cover destroyers on a priority enemy then taking an "anything goes" shot, so Long Watch will only get limited value. That said, a sniper can be so far away that low profile might do nothing, so maybe that limited value is still more than that.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by Bullett00th » Sat May 20, 2017 12:01 pm

I have an overall feeling of Formidable being the odd pick for all classes that aren't used for CQB

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by VanTheMan » Sun May 21, 2017 2:15 am

Here's another thought that I couldn't find a discussion on elsewhere in the forum (but I'm sure it's probably somewhere, I just didn't look hard enough):

Assault tree: hit and run, rapid fire, close encounters

Now that HnR grants a full action, it's looking to me like Close Encounters is now throwaway. In most cases they're the same perk, in a lot of cases Hit and Run is better, and in very few cases, which I think are generally bad ones that I would want to avoid CE is better. Basically, CE is only better when you have to shoot through cover. And you wouldn't do that anyway if you can help it because you want aim and crit. Rapid Fire still has the specific usage that it works with Run and Gun.

CE is fine on it's own but not with HnR right next to it.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by Sines » Sun May 21, 2017 6:41 am

I find Blademaster to be a bit of a weak choice for Shinobi. While Covert works for a dedicated stealth-shinobi (which I don't really care for anymore, but it's still a niche), Blademaster has to compete with Lone Wolf. Given that Shinobi are naturally far from allies anyway, and that you can run away and back again if that is what is required to activate it, the +10 Aim is all but guaranteed from it, matching the +10 Aim of Blademaster.

Instead, you're left to compete the +1 Damage from Blademaster with the +10 Defense of Lone Wolf. Most of a swords damage comes from the Fleche-run, not any innate sword damage. It's rare that you really need the extra +1 damage when you're already doing 10 as a low rank Soldier because you just ran 1.5x your mobility. However, the +10 defense can be huge for a soldier that often finds himself on the front lines. Throw in that you'll occassionally also get that +10 aim on some SMG shots as well, and Lone Wolf just seems to outclass Swordmaster, unless you don't have Gotcha Again and don't like counting tiles.

Also, I haven't gotten there... but Conceal seems terrible as a top-tier talent. It was fantastic in 1.2 because of the ability to activate a mission objective, then conceal until you can evac. But a number of things in 1.3 have changed to make that impractical. It really should return at a lower rank (possibly with restrictions like "Must be out of LOS of all enemies" and "Goes on 2-turn cooldown after break concealment") so that it can fulfill it's intended role from Vanilla, to allow a Scout to re-conceal after an accidental reveal, or after an intentional reveal to help finish off a tricky pod, or even just to activate Shadowstrike a second time. As it stands, pretty much the only reason you'd take it is in order to use it for it's old cheesy purposes. I'm guessing Pavonis don't have a problem with taking a top-tier talent to have a Shinobi who can do solo-stealth missions (and that does seem a fair cost), but I'd much rather have Conceal back in it's intended purpose.

I'd say remove Shadowstep, since it encourages attacking an Overwatching target, but that's usually one of the first things you do, and putting my Shinobi in the enemy ranks before I know whats going to happen to the rest of them is a bad idea. Put Shadowstrike in it's place, and put a modified Conceal (1 or 2 two cooldown after breaking concealment should be all the trickery you need) in Shadowstrikes place. You'd need something new for final talent, but one interesting option might be a perk that causes a Shinobi to immediately stealth on blade-kills, if they wouldn't be revealed immediately anyway. Might be a bit too good with Shadowstrike... but it would require proper positioning and it is a final-tier talent, competing with Rapid Fire and the ability that all but guarantees a kill on any non-elite enemy hit with a Flashbang (which can be chained well with Reaper).

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by Plockets » Sun May 21, 2017 1:19 pm

VanTheMan wrote:Now that HnR grants a full action, it's looking to me like Close Encounters is now throwaway. In most cases they're the same perk, in a lot of cases Hit and Run is better, and in very few cases, which I think are generally bad ones that I would want to avoid CE is better. Basically, CE is only better when you have to shoot through cover.
You forgot the most important way in which CE outshines HnR: some of the nastiest units cannot be flanked or exposed (MECs, Archons, Berserkers, Sectopods, Gatekeepers). Losing 50% of your damage potential against the hardest opponents on many maps is a deal breaker for me, and why I won't ever seriously consider HnR on Assaults, who I primarily build to eliminate targets with 40+ health (potentially with some help from Command and/or a Shred from someone else first).

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by Truefell » Sun May 21, 2017 10:53 pm

About Independent Tracking:
I think that it is the weakest perk in Holobuild. I agree that it has its uses, but unlike Low Profile and Longwatch Independent Tracking it just adds +1 turn to Holotargeting, nothing gamechanging. I understand that one more turn sometimes will be just right, but for standalone perk it just a little less than to be expected.
For example, Independent Tracking effect could be added to HiDef Holo and free another perk slot for the sake of diversity. Executioner would fit just fine.

About Long Watch:
The main drawback of this perk, that it just allows a squadsight overwatch and that's it. In Vanilla it was a Corporal perk and it combined perfectly with Kill Zone. The main argument here is if you get Rapid Reaction, Sentinel or CUP, you got a very powerful OW spec. But if you don't it's just another meh perk, that won't be so useful at all, unlike Low Profile.
I have 2 different suggestions what could be done with Long Watch to make it a viable perk aside from AWC:
- First, Long Watch also decreases overwatch aim penalty percentage from default 0.7 to 0.8(0.9 or even get rid of it).
- Second, OW shots at squadsight suffers no aim penalty(like DFA but only for OW). In that case it would be logical to make DFA disable penalty for normal shots only.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by gimrah » Mon May 22, 2017 8:55 am

I don't know about BEO on assault; I like my glass cannons. There are some awfully big things out there. And they hit back awful hard if you don't kill them. The other two are very strong but not absolutely mandatory for me.

Formidable can be a great pick-up for a grenadier. Since it gives you 2 ablative it gives the option of either being tankier OR using all 4 slots for grenades. It's a like a better version of Protector / Heavy Ordnance. I sometimes take it on full supports, but I think it really shines if you get a high aim grenadier and you make a rifleman / support hybrid, E.g. RP, CM, Form, DS, chain, [any], FK/GG. That soldier only has unbuffed flashbangs but he makes up for it with shooting, plus half the slots should be smokes anyway.

Low profile is nice but squadsight means sharps will mostly be out of sight or in good cover unless it's a snapshot sharp. I haven't tried independent tracking but if I'm making a phantom holo officer I may as well max out the holotargeter and stay concealed for as long as possible. I'm not a fan of Long Watch but some people like it and it could be amazing if you get more OW perks in the AWC.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by dwhansen777 » Mon May 22, 2017 1:09 pm

I take low profile on sharps and shinobis from a total squad perspective.

When trying to max full cover positions for my entire squads...I have two soldiers that won't have to contend for those sometimes precious cover positions. With 52 soldiers I typically run 6/7 man squads for "normal" missions. Thus I typically only need 4/5 high cover positions on the battlefield for max survivibility and to minimize red fog effects.

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Re: A few 1.3 perk tree balance comments

Post by Dwarfling » Mon May 22, 2017 4:15 pm

In a perfect world, you'll find unobstructed high ground on the rear of the map for your Sharpshooter to sit on. In the game I play tho, half of the times the high ground has only half cover and there's a pod patrolling close to it. It's also a game where I my Holo-Scout can get revealed or take a previous action in half-cover. So Low-Profile all the way for me 8-)

I still dissagree on the assesment that Danger Zone is a must over CuP. I think the opposite, the ability to better hit and possibly crit and outright kill enemies is much more valuable to me than possibly getting extra enemies Area Supressed. I think both have their merits depending on the composition of your squads and if you aren't packing many options to control enemies.

I agree on the rest. Formidable just isn't good by itself, and I always pack full grenades. BeO seems underpowered compared to the other two options at that level. Flush isn't bad tho, I use it sort of like Walk Fire to plink at those 1-2hp enemies behind cover you can't afford to leave uncontrolled. And to trigger some overwatches on my turn. I don't think I'd ever not grab Volatile Mix or Bluescreen/Boosted.

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