Friday, August 15, 2008

WAR Archetype Power Index

I had an interesting idea while writing the WAR careers (i.e. classes) entry on Wednesday. I didn’t mention it at the time because I didn’t see a good way to include it.

If you did read my previous article, then you’ll notice I did a little analysis on how the archetypes compare against each other in relative power. Today, I am taking that analysis one step further by creating a scoring system to compare the relative power of the different archetypes.

The scoring system I plan to use for comparing the archetypes is what I am going to call an Archetype Power Index (API).

Archetype Power Index (API):
Each archetype gets +2 pts if it is more powerful than another career, +1 pt if it is even with another career, and -1 pt if it less powerful than another career.

+4 (strong) + 3 (even) – 5 (weak) = 2 API

Melee DPS:
+10 (strong) + 2 (even) – 3 (weak) = 9 API

Ranged DPS:
+4 (strong) + 5 (even) – 2 (weak) = 7 API

Melee Healers:
+4 (strong) + 3 (even) – 3 (weak) = 4 API

Ranged Healers:
+4 (strong) + 5 (even) – 2 (weak) = 7 API

So according to my Archetype Power Index, Melee DPS (9) is the most powerful and followed by Ranged DPS (7) and Ranged Healers (7). Tanks (2) and Melee Healers (4) are significantly lower than the other careers. This is consistent with my thinking from my previous post and the primary reason I am considering Melee DPS over Melee Heals or Tanking.

Now what makes this particularly interesting is that Mythic removed four melee careers (two Tanks and two Melee DPS) from the game during closed beta. If these careers had not been removed, how would this have impacted the API score? Melee DPS (9) would remain the same, but Ranged Healers (8) and Ranged DPS (8) would both be slightly closer. More importantly however, Melee Healers (7) and Tanks (5) would have seen significant increases. In fact, the 3 point jump for Melee Healers is a 75% increase in API and the 3 point jump for Tanks is a whopping 150% increase.

My initial impression of the removal was that these things happen during testing all the time. For the most part, I still agree with that but my above analysis does make me question a bit whether or not this was the best long-term solution. I don’t know how important Tanks will be in WAR, but if they are REALLY important then it’s really unfortunate that the career who suffered the most by the removal is the Tank.

One thing to keep in mind about my Archetype Power Index is that it presumes a relatively even distribution of careers. To properly use such a system, it should be weighed against the actual popularity of each career. In other words, if Range DPS is the most popular archetype, then Melee DPS would have an even higher score since it performs favorably against that archetype. Likewise, if Melee DPS is extremely popular, then the Tank API would go up accordingly since they will perform very well against Melee DPS.

It’s also worth noting that the only archetype that is represented by each of the races is Range DPS, so it’s not a stretch to surmise that this will be the most prolific archetype. In fact, given how players as a general rule prefer DPS classes to support roles (Tanks/Healers), I fully expect that most players will be choosing a DPS class. My best guess is that the most popular individual career will be Melee DPS, but the most popular archetype will be Ranged DPS.

Although, given that the above API score for a Ranged Healer is the same as a Ranged DPS, going the Healer route might be a better choice. The Ranged Healer is even with Ranged DPS and has the same weaknesses. Given that, wouldn’t you be more desirable in groups for your support abilities as a Healer? As I am throwing around these relative power scores, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that WAR is designed to be group PvP.

While DPS might be epic on an individual level, perhaps the best groups will mostly be comprised of Tanks/Healers. When I start thinking about group play strategically, the appeal of the indestructible force has obvious advantages over the glass cannons. There is something about just being able to stand there and take everything that is dished out at you. It’s the difference between standing there with a flamethrower or driving a Fire Truck. Sometimes a flamethrower might be able to dance in and set your wheels on Fire, but most of the time they are just going to get doused with water and then run over by the Truck.


ScytheNoire said...

That's an interesting concept, except that the tanks do quite well at dealing out the damage, and can easily spec to do so should they feel they are too tanky and not contributing enough. So all of a sudden those tanks become melee dps classes, which, are at the top of the list. But I do agree that the removal of the four classes, all melee based, has made ranged DPS a lot more powerful than they would otherwise be. It has created an imbalance.

Anonymous said...

Controlling distance is a key element. Barring other factors, melee wins when ranged can't retreat, and loses when ranged can do so.

There are two ways for Mythic to 'fix' this, and it appears possible they've done a bit of both.

First, there are objectives that require the ranged player to stay there or lose. This isn't going to be as significant since there's so much team play (meaning the melee defender can hold and the ranged player has a field in which to move while supporting the ranged player) but it's still there. Umm... in this I'll also include the "player must stand still to cast ranged attack" factor.

Second, and in my eyes much more interesting, is the type of crowd control available. I've not memorized every spell and ability, but in general I've noticed that ranged player cc in WAR tend to be "slow" effects while melee player effects tend to be "stop" effects. Tend to be, not always, but still it's there. Add to this the developer statement that all CC has diminishing returns and it prevents locks. But still...

It suggests that all else being equal melee fighters have at least a chance to get in range - depending on just how good the ranged player is at a running fight (kiting).