Devoted Clerics need to be strong now. Yesterday Asterdahl confirmed on the Arcgames forum that the Anointed Army daily will be looked at “soonish”. Although no change is imminent, it’s clear now that the reign of the power will only last so long. So I’d like to discuss what the issues are and how you could properly balance it.
Damage Immunity and Buffs
In case you’re unfamiliar with Anointed Army, here’s a quick rundown. It grants a significant amount of Power to nearby allies and makes them immune to damage for up to four hits, dependent on AA’s rank. This combination of buff and damage immunity makes DCs mandatory members of any party, at least much better than any replacement. Most builds nowadays focus around AP gain to be able to spam the daily constantly. In an ideal case a DC can even make a party essentially invulnerable. People are jokingly referring to the power as “DC bubble”, hinting at a similar problem with the Paladin’s Divine Protector daily that got fixed in April 2016.
I get this is a sensitive topic for some folks out there. AA DCs are such an inherent part of the current meta that you have no choice but to use it. You can’t blame people to rely on the power and hence having invested time and money to max out builds. A change would not only be a nerf, but probably warrant a reshuffle. New artifacts, new gear, new enchantments… Anointed Army could soon create an annoyed army of DCs.
Why is AA broken?
The power however is simply too strong. The reason for its current state is simple. Looking at the history of overpowered powers and feats, it always comes down to a combination of the following facts:
- It allows to run content more efficiently using a single class than a mixed group
- The power is the best choice in any situation
- It allows to skip boss mechanics or renders them useless
- No skill is involved
Anointed Army indeed meets most of that criteria. It grants allies a massive amount of damage buff and protects them at the same time. It’s simply doing too much and hence presents a much better option than anything else. No matter whether you want to heal, buff or do damage, AA is a must. Then it has no skill component, you just have to activate it. Additionally it cancels stuff like “Call of Winter”, which was clearly designed as a wipe in case groups do not follow the intended mechanics.
How can you rework it?
Now let’s talk about reworks that might make sense here. In my opinion you either have to raise the skill bar to keep the current benefits or nerf either the buff or the protection component.
So how about stealing a trick from the HR and make it a daily that only costs 25% of your AP and has to be targeted onto a player. That way, the DCs could still buff all four party members, just not themselves. Targeting in Neverwinter’s action combat is no joke and it would need a considerable amount of effort and skill to keep the buff active for all teammates.
No AP gain while active
There’s another easy way out here in scratching AP gain while the daily is active. Hallowed Ground has received the same treatment so that it can’t become a permanent buff. Most would probably still use Anointed Army over HG in that case, but at least the flat 35% damage reduction of HG would be something to consider versus a potentially shorter four-hit immunity. Even then the power buff would still be too strong though.
Nerf the buff
If you want to keep the power an auto-activation then some of its utility has to go. The easiest way to deal with the power buff is to just reduce it. However the issue with the buff is that it scales way too well with a high power build. Clerics are very one-dimensional in a way that buffers just need an insane amount of the power stat and transfer it to allies through a Feat, an At-Will and the Daily. Now if you make the buff a flat one, we run into the problem that such a daily already exists with Hallowed Ground. So I’d probably go with something completely different like a significant buff to Critical Strike, Recovery and/or Action Point Gain. Those stats still indirectly buff the DPS of the party or raid.
Nerf the protection
The main issue of the protection is that most boss fights feature slow attacks that deal massive damage. AA is great against those. In Castle Never DCs can recast AA before the boss has attacked the tank four times. Obviously there’s a little bit more going on in fights like Svardborg, but the issue remains for DPS nonetheless. Basically they do not have to care about not taking damage at all. At any time DPS at least can take four hits before they need to react. That’s a huge feat, because it covers almost all “emergency” situations.
I’m not completely opposed to such a power. The Hunter Ranger has a similar one with Fox’s Cunning, but Anointed Army is Fox times four. What I would like to see is the blessings to also fall off over time regardless whether targets took damage and lose some of their effectiveness. I’m note sure about the overall duration of AA, but let’s say it’s ten seconds. If a blessing fell off every 2.5 seconds and lost 10% of its damage reduction, teammates would get considerable less protection over its duration. If an emergency happened at eight seconds into AA, the power would only be able to suck up one hit at 70%, not all four at 100%. This would force the DC to cast the daily more timely.
We again need to look towards Hallowed Ground, which already offers a sizeable Damage Reduction over its duration. You need to make AA a shorter-lived, yet more potent, buff. In theory it is, but the way boss fights are structured it’s not really the case. That’s why I would add an auto-expire to the blessings.
In the wake of Asterdahl’s comments, these are my initial thoughts on the Anointed Army daily. Do you have own suggestions or even think the power does not need to be changed? Share your thoughts in the comments below or visit 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.