Are Multiplicative Buffs Distorting the End-Game Party Compositions?

It doesn’t happen too often these days, but occasionally useful and interesting opinions and theorycrafting is indeed shared on the official message board. In this article I’d like to highlight and quickly touch on one of those. Player “vordayn” posted an interesting take on current endgame meta compositions. In Module 6 the devs made the original MMO trifecta a key reason of their class reworks, yet today groups largely feature four support types, no tank, no healers, and only one damage dealer.

Buff Your Ass Up

The main reason why is the way buffs work in Neverwinter. Most of them are multiplicative, which means that in the vast majority of scenarios it’s more beneficial to enhance the damage of one potent DPS, instead of bringing a second. This is definitely true for DCs, OPs, and GFs, but to a lesser extent also for support CWs and SWs. All of them add more damage through buffs and debuffs than a damage dealer of the same item level.

Now, an easy way to deal with this would be to introduce hard caps for buffs. The devs already made debuffs subject to diminishing returns, this also could happen to several buff mechanics. You could also simply say +200% damage is the max, or whatever really.

With everything in (mmo) life, it’s not that simply however. If you hard cap buffs, then the best available buffer automatically becomes the only choice for parties. You could rework all buff values, but that would require a complete balancing sweep. Given with what “speed” the devs work, that’s hardly possible. So just capping buffs would probably reduce the amount of viable classes even further. Don’t forget one advantage of the current system indeed is that there are a lot of synergies to play around with.

Current Boss Fights Are Build on Buff System

Additionally the latest boss fights are build with the current buff system / issue in mind. So taking players the ability to stack buffs means that the latest dungeons might become too hard. So as you can see, reworking buffs could require wiping attached areas of the game and starting from scratch, which seems highly unlikely. If you still feel that the current system is lacking, then there are basically two things you could do:

  1. Make skill a much more decisive factor in boss fights. You might not like all the platforming in recent modules, but at least the Cradle features a mechanic you can’t beat, or skip, with DPS alone. There’s plenty of skill based features you could introduce to make fights more challenging, like correct positioning, fire interrupts at specific times, interact with objects at specific times, evading AoEs.
  2. Let players fill distinct roles. Currently tanking is hardly needed, healing much less. And controlling? Yeah… If players are forced to take protective paths, powers and feats over buffing ones, then you could get rid of the meta without reworking a single class.

I definitely agree that the current meta and especially the situation of DPS specs is not ideal. I personally think however that this is not something you can solve with a single change or balancing pass. It’s probably more about gradually reworking content and roles in an intelligent way to get away from buffing as main factor in dungeons. Anyway, it’s good these discussions are happening and so I’d urge you to read through vordayn’s thread and add your own opinion.

As always, you can also tell us what you think on our social channels, in the comments below, or the corresponding thread on our message board!

Neverwinter UN:Blogged is always looking for writers to contribute to the blog. If you are an active player and search for a way to spread your opinions, analysis, diaries or reviews to more than 40,000 regular visitors, then don’t hesitate and get in touch with us on our contact page or message board! We are currently especially looking for console and PVP content, but that’s not exclusive. There is no frequency requirement, you post how often you want.


j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

12 thoughts on “Are Multiplicative Buffs Distorting the End-Game Party Compositions?

  • April 21, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    “…reworking content and roles in an intelligent way…”


    Ain’t never gonna happen.

    It was the utterly retarded Mod 6 that started all this nonsense in the first place. GF Tank/Buffer hybrids were destroyed because the Protector and Tactician Tier 3 feats in Mod 5 were moved to Tier 4 in Mod 6, while the new Tier 3 Feats inserted for the DC created the Power/Sharing APG buffer that supported the absurdly remedial level OP perma-Bubble.

    Those old GF tanks saw what the new OP was doing in Epic Cragmire Crypts and more than 90% quit. The rest re-specced to dps Conqueror.

    Then we have Companions. Why does the Sellsword defence-shredding debuff stack with multiple Sellswords summoned, but other companions cannot stack their effects when summoned in the same party?

    And what happens when there are 5 Chultan Tigers summoned in a party, and 10 in an Epic Trial?

    The game’s a mess and has been for a long time.

    If they did balance things so that the same buff could never stack from 2 or more characters, including Weapons of Light not stacking from AC DC and DO DC, and ALSO no Power-Sharing from an OP at the same time (or only the highest value can apply at one time), that MIGHT help.

    And a DC is NOT a Healer. They are Divine Magic Holy warriors (much like Knights Templar), but more Holy than Warrior, whereas the Paladin is supposed to me more Warrior but does not even get a damage bonus from any attribute score. DCs are buffer/debuffers who can also heal. But their healing should always be at least 300% more potent than a Devotion Paladin, and a LOT more potent than a Protection Paladin. But it’s not, and for the OoD OP is virtually constant, as it is for a Templock in combat. In Mod 4, my new SW did vastly more healing than my AC DC old Faithful/Virtuous, which was a pure healer/buffer back then, and used Exaltation a lot.

    I mean, look how utterly useless Bastion of Health used to be compared with a healing potion, which used to have shorter cooldowns so the party could chug them. Even now, its main use would be to proc a HoT in order to proc Gift of Haste, rather than the healing from it. Divinity mode Astral Shield was always much better, when it used to also heal. But the main function of Astral Shield was to shield the party from damage, IE a defensive buff, or incoming damage debuff. Not a healing spell.

    The only time a D&D or AD&D Cleric in any edition is a “Healer”, is when they are a priest of a specific deity, such as Healing, Love, Light, Fertility, Medicine etc and have specific bonuses and additional powers to do with Healing. EG Pelor, Lakal, Itzamna, Apollo, Asclepius, Dian Cecht, Sekhmet, Berronar Truesilver and so on. Most deities have many greater concerns than healing and health. This is why only two DC spells in Neverwinter are Healing spells and the others are either damage, buff, debuff or a combination of 2, 3 or even 4 from heal/damage/buff/debuff. And a few with very minor control powers, considering the DCs base CCB from WIS score.

    Crikey, NW DCs cannot even Raise Dead or Resurrect, but the Paladin can (much to the annoyance of the recently dead).

    So feck arf all you “Clerics are Healers” imbeciles. Take it from someone who has played D&D and AD&D for 40 years.

    It’s Cryptic who have wrecked the roles of classes, party compositions and the game. I don’t think they have the faintest clue what they are doing.


    • April 24, 2018 at 3:32 am

      Remember when GF Knight’s Valor + Supremacy of Steel + near-perma Steel Defense combo became a thing it was “fixed” in less than a month by hamfisted and retarded disabling the AP gain while SoS was active, but the Paladin nonsense was in the game for over a year?

      • April 24, 2018 at 8:28 am

        Paladin is still broken:
        In buff terms:
        too many buffs with no cap.Powershare,Aura of Courage,added power from being hit
        In survival terms: Binding Oath,and the whole mechanism with the temp hp.
        Thing is OP cannot be fixed,cause too many people play that class,and Cryptic does not want to get enrolled in an adventure like an OP nerf.
        So Op will continue to stay broken forever,while Gf has small community and gets nerf after nerf.

        • April 24, 2018 at 9:23 am

          @Enraged Wasp
          Yes, my new OPs are vastly more tanky than my older GFs. And solo I like Aura of Courage and Aura of Radiance, as I still do some damage with my shield up. I saw an OP build recently on MMO Minds claiming well over 1 million Temp hp from Templar’s Wrath (on console).

          It’s also much easier to see that an OP’s shield is actually up, and it’s a lot less laggy and unresponsive than it was. With GF, when he blocks, the shield seems to drop and he staggers a bit.

          I remember in mod 6 my DO getting kicked multiple times from eLoL because he was a “dps” Cleric, which he wasn’t. But he could not buff Power or gift as much Haste as my AC and had no AA or BoB, of course. The OP just could not play without his Bubble and the party could not play unless they could just stand in the red permanently. No skill at all.

          One time in IWD, 5 of us were whacking the hell out of a single OP on his own on a node and all the DoTs from my BotS went 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0… The only chance was to try and get some CC and dps in if there was a window between the end of his durations and this cool downs. But even then, he healed right back up and used Wrath and Binding again.

          Good Times!

          And he wasn’t even well-geared! That’s when I reaised it was just badly, badly broken. That one probably did have a bit of skill, though.

          Apart from some nerfs to the OP, the main thing they did in the last few mods was nerf the AC. Three times!

        • April 25, 2018 at 1:51 am

          nerf after nerf? they top the dps boards now and can kill the biggest bosses with 2 to 3 hits……. how is that a nerf again?

          • April 25, 2018 at 1:37 pm

            You must be new to the game.The “2 to 3 hits” bosskills are due to buff stacking.Take any dps class and it will do same time with GF in boss fightrs,while that said DPS wil, be noticable faster in trash clearing.
            Gf needs buffs.

        • April 29, 2018 at 3:57 am

          Yeah, but the thing is the original issue with paladin was the exact same thing: being able to sustain permanent daily uptime. And yet they didn’t do anything about it (most likely thanks to the previous “systems designer”).

    • April 26, 2018 at 2:22 am

      and eff you right back atcha.

      So in this ONE area (DCs being healers) NW gets credit for your interpretation that DCs aren’t healers in D&D therefore they arent in NW. ..yet you ignore that the vast majority of the rest of this game pays no homage to d&d whatsoever. DCs are the healers in this game, because in most group play there is a healer.. and most of their powers are healing related while their DPS powers are pathetic. This even though the game mechanics now have been skewed so much as to take the healing out of gameplay.

      Its generally nice to have a class with a role that is something other than paying attention to DPS and the buffs on the boss. That they for a while had potential to play a reverse role, doling out heals like damage powers was a fun piece of the game that is now missing.

      • April 26, 2018 at 5:05 am

        Only The Defeated need to be healed. The victorious feast and sing!
        And I can’t heal Dead or Stupid!
        And I did not encode One-Shots into the game (which I also cannot heal)

        But seriously, I don’t give NW any credit at all for its adaptation of D&D4. Or D&D5. Or whatever they think it is. I did not ignore it, I just didn’t mention it. I only really give them credit for making a fine game which was one of the most fun things I’ve ever played. The main quest was superb (before they permanently removed Throne of Idris, Lair of the Mad Dragon and Dread Vault and broke it).

        I mained a DC for more than 4 years, so I’ve seen all the changes, the times when so many powers and feats did not work properly or at all, and various enchants did not proc for certain DC builds, and I have multiple alts of all classes. As I said, my AC used to be an Exaltation Faithful Healer build, back in the days of Deepstone Blessing, Invigorated Healing, Power of Life and Moontouched. It was not me that changed all the feats, it was Cryptic, in preparation for the OP. And they took healing out of divine Astral Shield and Forgemaster’s Flame, of course. And they never got Divine Glow to work properly, so they just changed the tool tip.

        And still, the most important thing in those days was a divine Astral Shield inside a Hallowed Ground with Exaltation on the Tank or GWF, as healing could almost always not outdo damage, even in Mod 2. It was incredible how many CWs and Archers managed to stand outside both areas in epic dungeons.

        The fact that Cryptic are so intransigent and dim to insist on flagging only DCs as “Healers” with their code (even pure Righteous DOs), but not to flag Templocks and Devo OPs as “Healers”, is not my fault.

        The fact that the most powerful healing spell we have is weaker (or not much better) than an Exalted Potion is not my fault.

        The fact that there is so much Life Steal, which heals as much as the damage done, is not my fault.

        The fact that a good Templock can heal more than an excellent Healer build is not my fault.

        The fact that an average Devo OP can heal more than good Templock is not my fault.

        And the way a lot of the multiple buffs is distorting end-game party composition is not my fault.

        But DC is a support class, and support means to buff/debuff, with some healing on the side as a trivial consequence because it’s built-in. Although it is not as massively built-in as for the Templock and Devo OP.

        The only advantage that a DC has over a Templock or Devo OP is that we can heal outside combat whereas OP has very limited ability for that and the Templcok has none.

        But it’s not even a case of only The Victorious need to be healed, as the wounded victors can be healed when the boss is dead. People will auto-heal from their regeneration, which now works ONLY outside combat, and without DC buff/debuff the boss probably won’t be dead and the party will be at a camp fire.


  • April 21, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    The Kabal fight in MSP is the one I see people failing hard (if not for scrolls) when they try to support-meta their way through it. When you hit phase 3 and he chains everyone the party simply can’t kill five spread-out enemies to get the fireballs and break the chains in time when there’s only one real DPS in the group. It also so happens to almost always be the case that these groups don’t know how to deal with the fireball mechanic in the rest of the fight–that’s not a consequence of the support meta, but wanting 4 supports for MSP seems to be a strong tell for not understanding the boss fights well.

  • April 22, 2018 at 12:08 am

    Without many words: YES, multiplicative buffs destorting the end-game party compositions.

  • April 24, 2018 at 3:23 am

    This has been the case since the game came out, and many people said this.

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