Neverwinter Heart of Fire Control Wizard Balance Changes
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The upcoming Neverwinter Heart of Fire update comes with a full balancing pass that affects all classes to some extent. We’ll be going over all relevant aspects and tackle the most important points related to the current meta and builds within our extensive preview series. Today we’re starting with Control Wizards, which get an upgrade in the control department while DPS builds might need to switch to a different set of Class Features and Feats.
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Crowd Control and PVP
Cryptic is truly honoring the class name with this balancing pass as wizards indeed get plenty of improved control abilities. Many powers have been reworked to grant either more or new crowd control. Prime examples are Steal Time, Entangling Force, Frost Wave, or Alacrity. Overall this should make for some interesting tank / control builds in PVP. For PVE this obviously doesn’t do much as control is hardly a factor in the current meta and boss fights. But depending on future designs of dungeons, the control potency of wizards might come in handy at some point.
There might even be a current niche. Both Steal Time and Glacial Movement are able to buff a group’s movement considerably, which could help in the new “Tales of Old” format or for pure speed runs.
Of course most CWs are interested in their precious DPS. The reports out of the preview server vary to say the least. But the overall consensus nonetheless seems to be that wizards will slightly be better off. You almost certainly will have to redo your builds though. In an attempt to make more Class Features viable, the devs nerfed the heavily used “Chilling Presence” and buffed “Arcane Presence” and “Arcane Mastery”. It’s clear they want to move away from the current chill-based builds. As compensation, damage was buffed by 25% globally. It seems to be a wash, but some lean more towards a nerf. Also wizards might suffer from the Paladin’s Aura of Courage no longer multi-proccing the most.
In terms of trash mobs you should still be good with your current Spellstorm builds. You might want to look into Evocation, which got buffed. In decent groups that one-rotate mobs it could now perform better as Chilling Presence (nerf + needs some time to build stacks). In terms of single target you have a nice synergy based on Arcane Mastery, which now considerably buffs both Disintegrate and Ray of Enfeeblement. Add in a reworked Arcane Power Field (doubles the damage bonus from Arcane Mastery) and Disintegrate turns into a nuclear weapon vs. bosses.
Oppressor No Longer a DPS Path
In terms of feat paths, DPS will have to move away from Oppressor as the devs reworked its capstone. It’s now more of a control power that debuffs enemies and does little damage. There’s a healthy discussion whether Thaumaturge or Renegade will take over the reign. But both capstones are not exactly stellar, so there’s a lot of potential to go in either direction based on your group’s need and personal play style.
Not Much Help for Buffers
While DPS should turn out ok for CWs, the class is not getting much help for their support role. The Renegade capstone is reworked to feature a greater variety of buffs that can now proc independently. The most important one “Chaotic Fury” however has been nerfed from 30% to 20% damage bonus. Most endgame groups run an Oppressor buff build based on “Frigid Winds” and “Controlled Momentum” anyway unless the group lacks a reliable source of Combat Advantage. So an inferior Renegade path lost even more support viability.
Even with the demise of DO DCs, there’s plenty of other classes (HRs and SWs, specifically) you should take before CWs in that 4th support slot behind your usual OP/DC/GF setup. It means CW buffers should remain a niche build in content for more than five players.
Players need to tune their DPS loadouts a little, but the damage output should look ok, especially in single target fights. The addition of more control is nice for PVP, and could turn into a feat in PVE depending on future content as well. On the other hand, the support role remains an afterthought. Getting into groups will remain tricky even though the two DC meta is no longer a thing.
The big issue of Control Wizards are their capstones. None is particularly strong up to a point where some theorycrafters consider not even picking one. Also the devs need to further look into tree purposes. They apparently want Oppressor to be the control path, Thauma DPS, and Renegade the buffing one. As it stands however Oppressor might still be the best (bad) support choice while Renegade could outperform Thauma in the damage department.
Overall the impact feels minor considering the overall numbers of tweaks. The list of Heart of Fire Control Wizard changes is long, but in the end not much should change for the class. I’m not sure whether your glass is half empty or half full, but there’s arguments for both sides. Either way, more changes won’t come until Module 16 as confirmed by Noworries in the feedback thread. So that’s what you’ll be dealing with for at least the next four months.
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8 thoughts on “Neverwinter Heart of Fire Control Wizard Balance Changes”
Thank you for your analysis.
I only disagree with one point : HR’s being better support than CW’s.
The HR only have 2 meaningful buffs, Aspect of the Pack and Lonstrider’s Shot, which do not work well together.
Aspect of the Pack gives the whole team combat advantage against everything as long as they stand within 25 feet from you. That’s great but several other classes can give CA, although not as efficiently as the HR.
Longstrider’s Shot on the other hand gives +40% damage to everyone for 4 seconds provided that you hit a target standing at least 30 feet away from. In most cases, you’ll have to move away from the team to use it which means that they will lose the effect of AotP while you are away. And with such a short duration you basically have to choose between AotP and LSS.
I don’t see how a HR could be a better support than a CW. The Mod15 version of Hawkeye gives +12.5% (+18.75% with the right class feature) encounter damage for 5 seconds but that will hardly make a difference.
In my experience your team will always better off with you playing as a Combat DPS HR (which also brings AotP) rather than trying to be the mythical support HR.
They nerf CC in PvP, now they buff it?
Hunter has many support powers, not just 1 (I don’t count pack since CA is easy to get).
Longstriders – 40% buff.
Thorn Ward – Debuff (can’t remember the percentage.)
Hawk Eye – Not very important now (additional hit like commander’s strike) but is being reworked next mod.
Commanding Shot – Debuff.
LSS can be kept up 100% of the time, that already beats most CW abilities. Throw in the debuffs and it is in clear favour of HR.
With that being said J0shi’s post does contains mistakes. Oppressor was never taken for Frigid Winds – The feat is bad except on trash. Controlled Momentum is the pinnacle of Oppressor’s support capabilities and the spec got a lot of damage from Shatter Strike. I think as a pure support spec in module 15, Oppressor might be better then renegade but with the poor damage it won’t be worth it regardless.
IMO Oppressor should be the CW support spec, Thaum the DPS spec and then Renegade a hybrid spec.
Thanks, corrected! Cheers!
This is based on dps cw playing as a mof. If you build more recovery and use mc3 neck and belt you can keep ray of enfeeblement up 100% if spell mastery that is 20% boost + 60% weapon damage from abyss of chaos+ combat advantage + fury + combustive action +5% from bitter cold.+ increase stat rating from prestidigitation.
Pure Mof build takes advantage of alot more than stated.If you build correctly you can keep ray of enfeeblement up all the time and if slotted as spell mastery that is 20% + swath of destruction + fury + prestidigitation + abyss of chaos + combat advantage + bitter cold. These are all buff/debuffs that can be put into one loadout.
CW were not nerfed in mod 15. They got a buff all thanks to Arcane Power Field. Without that ability CW would basically be the same as we were in mod 14; simply a hybrid DPS to bring along in a group as the forth buffer if you already have a GF/OP, DC, Temp/Hunter.
I will state that the CW is still not as good as a well played GWF, TR, SW or HR. All of those classes still outshine the CW. CW as a DPS is still a second fiddle to those classes until the boss health gets really low and only when it is low does a CW really pull ahead of the other classes. The issue I have with a CW is that it needs recovery similar to a AC DC to be effective. Those other classes can get away with less recovery and focus more on power for additional damage.
Even a well planned DO DC designed as a DPS can keep up with a well built CW. When I play my CW I usually don’t bother to run my CW as a DPS; it not worth it. Instead I go for a hybrid/support build and it makes content quicker and easier for all players in the groups I run with it on a regular basis.
I do recommend Shado guide if you want to get an idea on how to create various builds for CW. The Thaum is still viable but I wouldn’t run one unless a CW Renegade and Oppressor are in the group.
I rolled a DB GF and a Tiefling CW for the Recruitment Event last November. They both have the same quality of gear, boons, builds, full Primal, Rank 12 enchants etc.
Obviously, running round Icewind Dale and Well of Dragons, they are both fairly equal. But the CW cannot really take all that much damage, although she can dodge and freeze some things. The GF cannot dodge or control much, of course, but he can take a lot of hits.
In higher level mods and the tougher RIQs and RAQs, where everything is just tougher and has better AI (EG, mobs surround the GF and flank and rear-attack, so his shield does him no good, unlike my Paladin’s Sanctuary), I notice that the GF does similar damage to the CW, but does not get killed anywhere near as easily. And Crowd Control does not seem to exist. At. All.
From their general performance, despite GF having 32 STR and CW having 34 INT, the GF tends to kill things a little more easily, but is way, way more tanky, despite being a dps spec. And the CW can just die so easily.
I have no dog in the dps fight, I main a DC, but from what I have seen, I would have to agree that the CW should do more damage, to compensate for her tissue paper armour.
And she should at least have a chance to control things at higher level, even if they have 95% Control Resistance rather than complete Immunity.
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