GW2: Chronomancer Contemplations

It’s at times like this when I truly fail to understand those who claim the lack of a holy trinity means a lack of depth to combat.

On the contrary, it may very well be that it complicates combat up to the point where people crave a certain simplicity because they don’t even want to consider the nuances involved.

I’m not a good mesmer. Hell, I haven’t gotten my mesmer beyond level 50 or so. In three years, I haven’t even -looked- closely at the mesmer traitlines to consider any potential synergies because I simply haven’t had the time or inclination to learn this class.

Reading about the elite Chronomancer specialization that mesmers are about to get with the offhand shield weapon inflicts a level of hurt so deep my brain turned to mush the first few times I read the page – sorta like trying to read academic papers – and it’s only subsided slowly on more careful and slow reading in an attempt to wrap my mind around the concepts being described.

No depth?

Come on.

First up, we have a new buff effect called Alacrity. This is going to differ from Quickness in that quickness affects attack speeds (as in how fast you attack, aka your animations speeding up) whereas alacrity affects recharge speeds (as in how fast your skills/attacks come off cooldown.)

Implications? When quickness is on you, you generally want to just swing your sword as fast as possible, ie. spam your best fast damaging attacks at super speed for the most dps.

Alacrity, on the other hand, will bring back longer cooldown skills faster, which is a different kind of dangerous. Stuff like wells or various elite skills (entangle, moa, etc.) will come back faster, which may throw off opponents expecting to take advantage of a certain recharge time in between casts.

There is also the potential for coordinated parties with one or two chronomancer mesmers maintaining alacrity to speed up recharges of other classes with certain support skills – eg. projectile reflection/absorb skills and so on. Could be we might see fights and encounters where damage pulses at such a rate that we’d need reflection with more uptime, or quicker recharging strong heals to withstand it.

Maintaining alacrity is likely to be a minigame in itself, maintaining a certain cadence of skill casts to keep the buff going.

In a way, it kind of reminds me of the GW1 paragon, where I struggled at the beginning while figuring out how to maintain certain shouts or chants so that the effects would synergize and produce something even more desirable, and only later managed to, more or less, keep a rhythm going and all buffs maintained. For a time, anyway, before falling out of cadence or sync again. (Luckily, NPC heroes don’t care if you screw up during the learning process.)

Chronomancer skills are apparently also going to have a ‘duality’ flavor to them. One effect on allies, another effect on enemies.

This immediately makes them super-flexible, but also turns their ‘depth’ into a yawning chasm. Do you use the skill to buff your allies? Do you use the skill instead to affect your enemies? If you do one, it may be on cooldown when you want to use it for the other. Maybe you’re awesome and can pick out the most optimal timing to do -both- with one skill shot.

One skill. So many possibilities. No right answer as to precisely when that optimal timing might be. Just you, your read on the situation, and your decision. (Let’s see a skill rotation macro do that for you…)

Hell, the example skill given, Tides of Time, just blew my mind on reading the paragraph.

It produces a wall, that moves, and absorbs projectiles.

(We already have many situations where we want a projectile reflect or absorb to protect us from damage.)

Its shape is not ye olde usual rectangle, line, circle or cone… but instead it’s going to boomerang, from its caster and back again.

And the caster can move while casting this.

Immediately, one can see that a number of varied shapes can be created from this.

If the caster stands still, you’re going to get a rectangle, more or less, in which the skill will cross over twice.

If the caster moves to the side, you’re going to get a more or less triangular wedge or V shape, where you might have an area where the skill will overlap twice, or a larger area where the skill will only touch on once.

If the caster goes and does something even more mind-blowing like blink or teleport elsewhere while this skill is ricocheting around (and we know mesmers can do that), they might be able to create something like a doubled in size rectangular area where the skill crosses over once, or some variant of the V shape mentioned above.

Oh, did we mention that the skill -also- buffs any allies which are touched by the moving wall with quickness? Everybody loves quickness already with time warp. Now the chronomancer can choose to bestow it on allies that aren’t clustered in the circular area that time warp forces you to collapse into.

Time warp, being an AoE, can only affect 5 players with quickness. It’s still left to be seen, but given existing examples of wall skills like the necromancer’s spectral wall or the mesmer’s wall-based stealth invis – where players essentially cross over and leave the effectively-hits-only-5 area, thus allowing other players to affected… it is possible that one might be able to gift quickness to more than 5 players at one time. (Mind blown yet?)

Oh, oh… but ALSO, the very same skill will affect any enemies that touch the wall with a -stun-.

You know, that oh-so-favorite weapon of any initial WvW engagement where commanders beg elementalists for their static fields, stunning any idiot who runs into the big obvious electrical circle?

Well, the field is not going to be so kind as to just sit there now if a chronomancer fires it. It’s going to charge right into you like a Risen abomination. (And then ricochet right back, to add insult to injury.)

I think we already mentioned somewhere above that the shape of this skill effect being entirely up to the individual skill and choosing of the chronomancer who unleashes it, yeah?

Defences? Beyond ye olde stability and dodging, I can see that an important counter is likely going to be disrupting the cadence of the chronomancer in some way. Interrupts, knockbacks, pushes, pulls.

If you yank away or cc the chronomancer while his stuff is in mid-bounce, that’s going to change the shape of his skill from something he wanted to something potentially a little less effective (and hopefully induce a longer recharge because he missed absorbing the return cycle of his skill.)

I dunno about you but my brain has essentially splattered itself all over the inside of my skull trying to encompass the possibilities contained in this ONE skill.

(And I haven’t even tried to consider synergies with other skills yet…)

Timing is going to be a big thing for chronomancers. Likely very much intentionally so.

Another skill they’re going to have is timed wells.

As in, AoE stuff they can lay on the floor, and we’ll see a skill effect tick down, and one can choose to be in or out of that area as one’s desires and reflexes can handle.

Allies are going to want to jump into certain wells for cool buffs when it explodes, and enemies are going to want to GTFO, in a fashion rather similar to how our PvE enemies highlight their hard hitting attacks and we need to then roll out or move away from the target area. A skill-based counter, in other words, which should indeed have an interesting effect on those who haven’t yet mastered the art of dodging.

But but, who says we have to stop at the newbie level? Mesmers mess with players’ minds, remember? On a more meta level, it’s likely that the well skill will be placed, not primarily for the damaging effects of the timed explosion landing, but to actually force the GTFO. To make players scatter or leave an area (such as a control point), or to cost them a dodge doing so, opening them up for a worst sequence of things yet to come. Or they could sit there and eat the explosion.

Catch 22. Rock in a hard place and all that. Goddamn mesmer mindgames.

(And I’m sure all those distracting clones aren’t going away while all this crap is going on either. Or if they do go away, it’s probably because they shattered onto you. Ouch.)

And the last nuclear explosion in my head? They’re going to get a new F5 skill. Continuum Split/Shift.

A more ridiculously powerful necromancer spectral walk, which not only saves the -position- of the player when the skill begins, but the entire -state.-

Hitpoints, endurance, skill cooldowns, the works.

So…. they could start with 100% hp, continuum split, run around like a kamikaze warrior letting their hp get eaten away and continuum shift, pow, they’re back to where they were, with full hp, having absorbed a great many damaging skills from enemies that are now on cooldown, while they have essentially just stepped back into the fight, completely fresh.

*brain asplodes*

Oh, they could also have cast all their skills in a crazy lethal spike, and -then- hit the reset button to potentially do it again if there’s something still left standing after that.

*kablooey goes the top part of my head*

Or just a choice skill twice – like an elite skill twice.

Or they could just use it as a tactical reposition like the many pre-existing blinks, shadowsteps and spectral walk variants…

…including over a really tall cliff, just like a necromancer might blow a kiss and scram.

(Guess that’s where the romance comes in, for both necros and chronos…)

Seriously, I’m not even planning on playing a mesmer or a chronomancer, but my head already hurts just trying to get a handle on what might possibly come one’s way once the true mesmer experts get their hands on their elite specialization.

No depth indeed. *mutters, grumbles, stomps off and tries to hide in a dark corner away from purple butterflies and ticking clock hands*

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5 thoughts on “GW2: Chronomancer Contemplations

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I don’t know who’s talking about lack of depth. You hit the nail square,on the head with “it complicates combat”. I like the trinity precisely because of its simple elegance. I crave that minimalism.

    My reaction to the Chronomancer was equally simple: right, no need to bother with that. I did feel a brief moment of depression but it lifted when I realised that, like all the content I don’t like in HoT, which looks like being a lot, I can simply carry on as if it didn’t exist.

    It’s a great shame there aren’t more devs out there looking to make easy MMORPGs for people who enjoy simplicity, though. Everything seems to be aimed squarely at people who love complexity for complexity’s sake.

    • Ravious says:

      I feel it doesn’t complicate combat so much as provide another additive effect.

      I feel GW2’s system with dodging, movement, and downed state has the most gray area in terms of efficiency. Games like FF15 or WoW where you are mainly rotating skills perfectly based on a GCD has much more stark lines of efficiency.

      A chronomancer out and about in the world will probably be a positive. People will be able to fire off skills faster. Mobs will be debilitated. It doesn’t matter if the situation wasn’t “perfect”. (sPvP is a whole ‘nother ball game.)

      Even now, the best mesmers will know when to place Time Warp when they see the best moments for maximum efficiency. Just as many will plop it down at bad times, but it still might help.

      Anyway, really looking forward to the Twitch stream, and further specialization announcements. Come on, greatsword necro!

    • Jonathan says:

      For me, I feel that this just continues the trend for GW2 of bringing arcade action to MMOs. For those that like this sort of thing — fast reflexes, quick twitch, read-and-react gameplay, I suspect this will be a really fun addition.

      But — OK, “depth” is an ambiguous word. But how much real decision-making will this add? You see a “good” field, you have a few seconds to hit it with a finisher. You see a “bad” field, move out of it. If your skills are off CD, you might want to hit them. Sure, you might gain efficiency by waiting for the “perfect” moment, but you might do better to use it twice more, on CD. Depth? Well, there is a lot going on. But how much real additional decision making occurs in play?

      For those of us that like to pause, consider, and make “good” plays — the attraction of a long GCD or turn based — this doesn’t really bring that much to the table. It does present some additional build options. I worry that it will head towards being “mandatory” in the sense that the alacrity boon will be of sufficient benefit that if you are a mesmer you dang well better be a chrono with a shield. But even if not, in a setting where most activity is in huge groups, how much pre-planning and optimization will occur, verses guessing what might be useful? If alacrity is well-balanced, will it matter if you bring it to the table instead of something else?

      When I compare “depth of build” between GW1 and GW2, GW1 was all about building group synergy to take advantage of expected opposition. GW2 seems more about freedom to do what you want, as long as you use it to benefit your team.

      Right now, I’m not sure the expansion is for me. It is already a bit “faster” than I enjoy. Every time I try to play it, my wrists ache — and I already have the wife open all the “boxes” that appear.

    • Retro says:

      “It’s a great shame there aren’t more devs out there looking to make easy MMORPGs for people who enjoy simplicity, though.”

      You know the last 10 years of World of Warcraft and it’s various insipid clones? There ya go.

  2. Mercury says:

    My highly scientific interpretation of the artistically inspired splatter patterns of your brain explosions reveals that I am an adult who should be enjoying the free-form depth offered by Guild Wars 2 but finds themselves having a rollicking good time in Baby’s First Holy Trinity. I might just go ahead and crap my pants for effect.

    It could be argued that the presence of rigidly defined roles reduces complexity; sometimes this enables depth, but there’s no precisely simple relationship between the two. Generally speaking, the presence of the holy trinity does enable one to grasp the rules needed to play the game using well-known referents. The so-called “soft” trinity of damage, control, and support is comparatively somewhat more nebulous due to being less well-defined and popularized. The rules must be discovered and explored through play. It’s a litmus test for a style of play that many people either fail or don’t care to attempt. Those that do pass and even become reasonably successful in those roles may find that the lack of an ego-stroking support role or the inability to boast meaningfully about one’s huge damage numbers kills their motivation.

    Easy or ego. It lack those so it lacks depth? That’s a rather shallow argument. *toddles back to the kiddie pool*

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