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Simple Fix for Many of the Game's Combat/Balance Problems


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Right now, a Fighter with 3 might wielding a wet noodle and a large shield can lock down 3-4 targets in engagement, even though there is absolutely no sensible reason for the enemies to be attacking him.  What the enemies should be doing is to disengage from the fighter, eat the fighter's disengagement attack (that will probably miss anyway or graze for 1 dmg), and attack the wizards/rogues/ciphers in the backline that are doing 100+ damage and would die in 2-3 attacks.

 

Under the current system, all the enemies end up clustering around the frontline tank, doing minimal damage (on POTD), while getting nuked by by the backline.  This behavior creates several issues: 

 

First, it turns every fight into a really dull tank-and-spank.  99% of the fights in this game are easily solved by running your tanks in to lock everything in engagement, and then nuking with your backline. 

 

Second, it incentivizes min-maxing.  If you know that enemies will never bother to disengage from your tank, then why bother giving your tank any offense?  Drop his might to 3, skip over all the accuracy/damage bonuses, focus on defense attributes/stats, give him platemail and a hatchet.  And why bother giving any defense to the backline casters?  They'll rarely get attacked anyway.

 

Third, it makes overemphasizes engagement slots for tanks.  Right now, fighters are the best tanks simply because they have the most engagement slots.  The current aggro system doesn't appear to care about how much "threat" the Tank actually presents, so it doesn't matter that a paladin, monk, or barbarian can do more damage. 

 

If instead you had a smarter "aggro" system, where enemies would disengage from a min-maxed Tank that does 0 damage, then all of the above min-maxing goes away.  Suddenly positioning becomes more than just "keep tanks in front," and you have to worry about figuring out ways to peel enemies off your squishies, setting up disengagement opportunities for your squishies, limiting enemy movement, etc.

 

Also, other classes suddenly become more viable tanks because they'll be able to hold aggro better.  A fighter might have more engagement slots, but if he's hitting like a wet noodle, he'll have trouble discouraging enemies from disengaging for the squishies.  On the other hand, a paladin might have fewer engagement slots, but will have a much easier time holding aggro with the flames ability.

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There is a problem with your idea: Engagement itself. Once any enemy gets a mage or squishy character into Engagement they are basically screwed. A mage eating disengagement is usually death or close to it, which results in chaotic battles which results in lots of resting to be done, and we only have 4 camping supplies per area (2 on hard?)

 

The whole system would need to change if the enemy AI actually used real tactics and attacked our back row. It would be utter chaos.

 

The entire problem with this battle system is engagement, it's a hot debate right now. Personally I dislike it greatly, it encourages tank and spank, precisely what you described, however if the enemy suddenly started following a new set of rules, no fight would be winnable. 

 

The battle system itself is already chaotic enough with too much pausing, imagine how bad it would be if you had to manage kiting with all 6 characters and dealing with engagement beyond your tank. God that would be terrible, I wouldn't even play the game. 

 

IE games did it better, because you didn't get sucked into this "glue" effect of engagement.

Edited by AncientToaster
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What the enemies should be doing is to disengage from the fighter, eat the fighter's disengagement attack (that will probably miss anyway or graze for 1 dmg)

 

They probably should, especially high Endurance enemies who could soak the Disengagement damage even if it was significant. That said, this sort of change would lead directly from the current full tank meta to a tanky DPS meta, where enemies could end up killing themselves even faster through Disengagement. Things would have went very badly for monsters trying to soak Disengagement attacks from my Eder wielding a +12 Accuracy greatsword that Prones-on-Crit. A couple minor shifts in buffing strategy would be needed to make up for the Deflection and Reflex loss from not using shields.

 

I do think some monsters should use the "bonus Defense vs Disengagement attacks" mechanic, and get special flanking logic to ignore Engagement in some cases. Pack swarmers like Darguls, for example. 

Exoduss, on 14 Apr 2015 - 11:11 AM, said: 

 

also secret about hardmode with 6 man party is :  its a faceroll most of the fights you will Auto Attack mobs while lighting your spliff

 

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AncientToaster has the right of it.

 

I'll add that shifting enemy engagement AI to behave as described by the OP would really just discourage the use of squishes altogether.

 

Maybe that'd be a better game - classes with different survival strategies and approaches, but fewer baseline differences.

 

But it wouldn't be PoE, and it wouldn't be like an IE game. I liked TL2, but it's not what I signed up for.

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If I'm typing in red, it means I'm being sarcastic. But not this time.

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There is a problem with your idea: Engagement itself. Once any enemy gets a mage or squishy character into Engagement they are basically screwed. A mage eating disengagement is usually death or close to it, which results in chaotic battles which results in lots of resting to be done, and we only have 4 camping supplies per area (2 on hard?)

 

The whole system would need to change if the enemy AI actually used real tactics and attacked our back row. It would be utter chaos.

 

The entire problem with this battle system is engagement, it's a hot debate right now. Personally I dislike it greatly, it encourages tank and spank, precisely what you described, however if the enemy suddenly started following a new set of rules, no fight would be winnable. 

 

The battle system itself is already chaotic enough with too much pausing, imagine how bad it would be if you had to manage kiting with all 6 characters and dealing with engagement beyond your tank. God that would be terrible, I wouldn't even play the game. 

 

IE games did it better, because you didn't get sucked into this "glue" effect of engagement.

 

If your mage or other squishy is in danger of getting engaged, wouldn't you then actively move him away, or lay down slicken, or some hold spell then? Or you might just give him better armor, or have another character guard him? There's probably some nuance I'm not getting, but I don't quite see why this means that the system is fundamentally broken.

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There is a problem with your idea: Engagement itself. Once any enemy gets a mage or squishy character into Engagement they are basically screwed. A mage eating disengagement is usually death or close to it, which results in chaotic battles which results in lots of resting to be done, and we only have 4 camping supplies per area (2 on hard?)

 

The whole system would need to change if the enemy AI actually used real tactics and attacked our back row. It would be utter chaos.

 

The entire problem with this battle system is engagement, it's a hot debate right now. Personally I dislike it greatly, it encourages tank and spank, precisely what you described, however if the enemy suddenly started following a new set of rules, no fight would be winnable. 

 

The battle system itself is already chaotic enough with too much pausing, imagine how bad it would be if you had to manage kiting with all 6 characters and dealing with engagement beyond your tank. God that would be terrible, I wouldn't even play the game. 

 

IE games did it better, because you didn't get sucked into this "glue" effect of engagement.

 

But it would only be worse without engagement. Without engagement, a proper AI would hunt down your backline completely uninpeded by your frontliners.

"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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I don't think AncientToaster is right. He's assuming we wouldn't change our builds at all. Yes, a squishy who eats engagement is pretty much dead... now. Not necessarily if we stop building them so darn squishy. Which is a point specifically addressed by OP in regards to min/maxing.

 

Here's how I would do it.

1. The enemy AI would be assumed to have access to the combat log. If a character has done zero damage to the enemy party, the enemy AI treats that character as dealing zero damage; if they've never attacked, as having zero accuracy. If they have done damage, the enemy AI has their base damage and accuracy. These values are used until that character deals damage with a different weapon or spell, resetting those values.

2. Enemies roleplay strategic thinking. An enemy has a base 30% chance to use the break-engagement algorithm, modified 3% per point of Intelligence. If they fail, they don't break and retry after next attack. Using Miasma of Dull-Mindedness will indeed dull their minds as far as breaking engagement is concerned.

3. If the algorith is not skipped, the AI simulates one attack from each player party member, randomly rolling 1-100 for accuracy for each. The engaging character(s) gets the bonuses for disengagement attacks for this calculation. The enemy then attempts to attack the party member with the highest simulated damage roll, breaking engagement if necessary. This means slow, powerful weapons draw more enemy attention than fast, weak weapons; a backrow character with a hunting bow isn't going to get blitzed nearly as often as a backrow with an arquebus, and a tank with an estoc (or who led with an arquebus shot which hit) is going to hold enemies far better than one with a hatchet and shield.

Edited by scrotiemcb
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There is a problem with your idea: Engagement itself. Once any enemy gets a mage or squishy character into Engagement they are basically screwed. A mage eating disengagement is usually death or close to it, which results in chaotic battles which results in lots of resting to be done, and we only have 4 camping supplies per area (2 on hard?)

 

The whole system would need to change if the enemy AI actually used real tactics and attacked our back row. It would be utter chaos.

 

The entire problem with this battle system is engagement, it's a hot debate right now. Personally I dislike it greatly, it encourages tank and spank, precisely what you described, however if the enemy suddenly started following a new set of rules, no fight would be winnable. 

 

The battle system itself is already chaotic enough with too much pausing, imagine how bad it would be if you had to manage kiting with all 6 characters and dealing with engagement beyond your tank. God that would be terrible, I wouldn't even play the game. 

 

IE games did it better, because you didn't get sucked into this "glue" effect of engagement.

 

If your mage or other squishy is in danger of getting engaged, wouldn't you then actively move him away, or lay down slicken, or some hold spell then? Or you might just give him better armor, or have another character guard him? There's probably some nuance I'm not getting, but I don't quite see why this means that the system is fundamentally broken.

 

 

You can but you know as well as I do that your character gets vacuumed into enemies quickly, and enemies move very fast in this game. 

 

 

 

There is a problem with your idea: Engagement itself. Once any enemy gets a mage or squishy character into Engagement they are basically screwed. A mage eating disengagement is usually death or close to it, which results in chaotic battles which results in lots of resting to be done, and we only have 4 camping supplies per area (2 on hard?)

 

The whole system would need to change if the enemy AI actually used real tactics and attacked our back row. It would be utter chaos.

 

The entire problem with this battle system is engagement, it's a hot debate right now. Personally I dislike it greatly, it encourages tank and spank, precisely what you described, however if the enemy suddenly started following a new set of rules, no fight would be winnable. 

 

The battle system itself is already chaotic enough with too much pausing, imagine how bad it would be if you had to manage kiting with all 6 characters and dealing with engagement beyond your tank. God that would be terrible, I wouldn't even play the game. 

 

IE games did it better, because you didn't get sucked into this "glue" effect of engagement.

 

But it would only be worse without engagement. Without engagement, a proper AI would hunt down your backline completely uninpeded by your frontliners.

 

 

There is no really good solution right now because the entire battle system relies on Engagement as it's backbone. Without it, you'd have to change the core rules of the game about resting, spells, movement etc. With it, we're stuck with the problems we already have. 

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I don't think AncientToaster is right. He's assuming we wouldn't change our builds at all. Yes, a squishy who eats engagement is pretty much dead... now. Not necessarily if we stop building them so darn squishy. Which is a point specifically addressed by OP in regards to min/maxing.

 

Here's how I would do it.

1. The enemy AI would be assumed to have access to the combat log. If a character has done zero damage to the enemy party, the enemy AI treats that character as dealing zero damage; if they've never attacked, as having zero accuracy. If they have done damage, the enemy AI has their base damage and accuracy. These values are used until that character deals damage with a different weapon or spell, resetting those values.

2. Enemies roleplay strategic thinking. An enemy has a base 30% chance to use the break-engagement algorithm, modified 3% per point of Intelligence. If they fail, they don't break and retry after next attack. Using Miasma of Dull-Mindedness will indeed dull their minds as far as breaking engagement is concerned.

3. If the algorith is not skipped, the AI simulates one attack from each player party member, randomly rolling 1-100 for accuracy for each. The engaging character(s) gets the bonuses for disengagement attacks for this calculation. The enemy then attempts to attack the party member with the highest simulated damage roll. This means slow, powerful weapons draw more enemy attention than fast, weak weapons; a backrow character with a hunting bow isn't going to get blitzed nearly as often as a backrow with an arquebus, and a tank with an estoc is going to hold enemies far better than one with a hatchet and shield.

 

You can certainly build Mages not quite a squishy but then that brings up another problem. Damage reduction only does so much for a character with low Endurance, and you can't stack deflection to absurd levels on all 6 characters, there just isn't really enough gear to make that viable. Currently, anything below 80 deflection is "low" and doesn't really do a lot of good, it's also the same for the rest of the defenses. You need to stack them to absurdly high levels for them to really make a difference. 

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You can but you know as well as I do that your character gets vacuumed into enemies quickly, and enemies move very fast in this game. 

 

Sure, so presumably you want to adjust other variables too. I still don't see how this equates that the system is fundamentally flawed.

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Waaah, waaah, my fighter is now pointless! Therefore, all fighters are now useless ! Buff fighter ! Fighter is an useless class @!

 

Wizards have tons of defensive abilities, and at least 2 defensive talents. Use them, damnit !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Priests may be screwed, but then again people talked they're overpowered, so let them pay the price. There are still many ways to defend your characters, including large shields, potions you normally don't care about, armour.

 

At the very least, they could make AI disengage on higher difficulties. No one would have right to complain.

Edited by b0rsuk
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Currently, anything below 80 deflection is "low" and doesn't really do a lot of good, it's also the same for the rest of the defenses. You need to stack them to absurdly high levels for them to really make a difference.

I don't agree. If you had said "anything below 80 Deflection is crap for tanking," then I'd agree. But the difference between 20 and 50 can be huge when it comes to turning crits into hits and hits into grazes. A little defense is the difference between a disengagement attack knocking your squishy out cold, or having them stay conscious with low health after disengaging. This is why a weapon switch to hatchet and large shield is so important, giving +21 to +33 to Deflection against disengagement before attempting it.
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Waaah, waaah, my fighter is now pointless! Therefore, all fighters are now useless ! Buff fighter ! Fighter is an useless class @!

 

At first I wasn't sure what your point was then I dawned on me...yes I could see that becoming the next whine on the forums if this change was made. Suddenly people's Meat shields are pointless and chasing enemies around like dogs chasing cats. 

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Currently, anything below 80 deflection is "low" and doesn't really do a lot of good, it's also the same for the rest of the defenses. You need to stack them to absurdly high levels for them to really make a difference.

I don't agree. If you had said "anything below 80 Deflection is crap for tanking," then I'd agree. But the difference between 20 and 50 can be huge when it comes to turning crits into hits and hits into grazes. A little defense is the difference between a disengagement attack knocking your squishy out cold, or having them stay conscious with low health after disengaging. This is why a weapon switch to hatchet and large shield is so important, giving +21 to +33 to Deflection against disengagement before attempting it.

 

 

I'm not a big fan of outfitting my entire crew with Hatchets and Shields and heavy armor so I can eat a disengagement attack. I just think the entire system is flawed. 

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There is a problem with your idea: Engagement itself. Once any enemy gets a mage or squishy character into Engagement they are basically screwed. A mage eating disengagement is usually death or close to it, which results in chaotic battles which results in lots of resting to be done, and we only have 4 camping supplies per area (2 on hard?)

 

The whole system would need to change if the enemy AI actually used real tactics and attacked our back row. It would be utter chaos.

 

The entire problem with this battle system is engagement, it's a hot debate right now. Personally I dislike it greatly, it encourages tank and spank, precisely what you described, however if the enemy suddenly started following a new set of rules, no fight would be winnable. 

 

The battle system itself is already chaotic enough with too much pausing, imagine how bad it would be if you had to manage kiting with all 6 characters and dealing with engagement beyond your tank. God that would be terrible, I wouldn't even play the game. 

 

IE games did it better, because you didn't get sucked into this "glue" effect of engagement.

 

The engagement system, with a smarter AI as I discussed, would be fine.  The problems you are raising can be countered by better strategy and control. 

 

(1) There are many ways to avoid engagement in the first place via control spells, snares, and repositioning skills.

(2) You can also break engagement via repositioning skills or by CCing the enemy.

(3) Your "tankier" fighters can still hold aggro, they just need to be built so that they present enough of a threat to justify being attacked.  And when you build them this way, the enemy will either continue attacking them or take substantial damage disengaging from them.

 

The problem you're describing with the "backline being dead instantly" is not a problem of the engagement system, it's the result of people min-maxing their characters for the current system.  I noted in the OP that one consequence of my proposal would be to disincentivize min-maxing, which is what you'd now have to do so that your squishies don't instantly die when they get looked at.

 

The "DPS Meta" you allude to in your later post would not be an issue, because enemies would not disengage from a high-DPS character.  Your hypothetical all-DPS party would just end up with each character engaging with a different enemy.

 

Will this make the game harder?  Absolutely.  Is that bad?  I don't think so.  The game is ridiculously easy past Act I right now once you learn the mechanics -- even on POTD difficulty, which should be challenging but isn't.  People who don't like the difficulty can always turn everything down to Normal or Hard.

 

Getting rid of the engagement system altogether only reduces tactical depth.  Engagement is just a way of controlling the enemy's movement.  Right now, it's too strong because enemies will never break away from a minimum-damage-maximum-tank fighter.

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I'll list all defensive tricks Wizards have. You pushed me into it.

Grimoire Slam: an attack with knockback, breaks engagement. 1/encounter I believe.

Arcane Veil: +20 Deflection for 10 seconds, +40 with an upgrade. 2/rest.

Lesser, Greater Invulnerability Spell Heuristics - these talents decrease the casting time of defensive spells.

 

Level1:

Dazzling Lights, area stun. Stun breaks engagement.

Chill Fog - does not break engagement, but -20 accuracy from blindness is good enough.

Parasitic staff - bonus to hit, drains endurance on hit.

Sunless Grasp - damage and accuracy reduction

Slicken - area knockdown. Prone breaks engagement.

Fan of Flames - if it's dead, it no longer engages you.

Jolting Touch (of doom)

Fleet Feet - movement speed bonus, I think this one grants disengagement bonus as well ?

Wizard's Double - +20 deflection for stacking

 

Level2:

Bewildering Spectacle: area confusion

Fetid Caress - paralyses

Corrosive Siphon - damage over time in area, restores caster's endurance

Infuse With Vital Essence

Mirrored Image

Binding Web - slows enemies so they can't get to you.

 

Level3:

Delay of Motion. 75% slowdown.

Draining Touch: damage with endurance drain

Repulsive Visage: nearby enemies are Terrified and Sickened. Terrify is a very powerful effect.

Diplaced Image: +25 or so deflection

 

Level4:

Dimensional Shift - teleports the wizards and stuns everyone between him and an ally. Great if enemies are past your line of defense.

Flame Shield - HARD counter to shades and shadows, +10 Freeze DR and 5 Fire damage each time something hits you.

Ironskin

 

Level5:

Safeguard. Whenever caster is knocked below 50% endurance, all close enemies are knocked prone, and wizard receives bonuses to DR and Deflection.

Torrent of Flame - burns anything near caster

 

Level6:

Martial Power

Edited by b0rsuk
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The "problems" with the engagement system is worse on low levels. As you reach higher levels, there is a plethora of ways to handle disengagement and positioning.

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"Well, overkill is my middle name. And my last name. And all of my other names as well!"

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I'm not a big fan of outfitting my entire crew with Hatchets and Shields and heavy armor so I can eat a disengagement attack. I just think the entire system is flawed. 

 

I tend to agree, but the larger point is this - there is no "easy" fix. Systems are complex. They intertwine in unpredictable ways, and produce unpredictable results. Any systemic change that doesn't extend out of that system's core mechanics is likely to cause as many problems as it solves.

 

At the very least, they could make AI disengage on higher difficulties. No one would have right to complain.

 

I could complain about how that would just result in people playing chicken for 3/4 of a fight, or about how it would just result in armored casters and naked frontliners.

If I'm typing in red, it means I'm being sarcastic. But not this time.

Dark green, on the other hand, is for jokes and irony in general.

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Wizards have tons of defensive abilities, and at least 2 defensive talents. Use them, damnit !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I tried. The overwhelming majority of them are completely and utterly worthless. They are a waste of time (you can't pre-buff and combat is really fast!), they are a waste of spells and most of the time they're not good enough to avoid being clobbered anyway. You are much, much better off using offensive abilities like Slicken, Confusion, Call to Slumber and Gaze of the Ardagan which are both more likely to stop enemies from hurting you and actually do something useful for the party. The same is true of Cipher abilties (I haven't tried Druid yet) -- they have plenty of stuff which stuns or knocks down or something of the sort. Between the limited spell casting and the lack of pre-buffing, the nature of this game is such that pure defense which only applies to the caster is simply not very useful (with a few exceptions).

 

That said, I'm not sure how much impact the change proposed in the first post would have. The situations where tanking basically wins the encounter by itself were usually those in which I park Eder in a doorway and everybody else attacks from behind. It's not a matter of Engagement doing anything, the enemies simply cannot get past him. In the fight which happen in an open field (e.g. most of the bounties), some of the enemies usually do harass my back line (and promptly get crowd controlled in one way or another).

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I think think that a few improvements to the AI would certainly make sense. It would create a bigger challenge and potentially increase the variety of combat.

Aside from a smart AI that's able to do some assessment of thread levels, I would also like to see some attempts to disable your frontline fighters to get to your other chars. The player would then need to counter these attempts or deal with it if the enemy succeeds.

 

To compensate the higher challenge and smarter AI it might be necessary to buff a few abilities, however, especially those that deal with disengagement.

There already are several ways to deal with engaged squishies, but if it happens more often, they might not be enough - and they more or less require an additional character to help the engaged char - interrupts can really be nasty.

Edited by El Zoido
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I don't consider this to be an anti-engagement suggestion, since I'm not asking for engagement to be removed or diminished in any way.  I'm just asking for enemies to be smarter about it (ie not piling on top of the tank where they do absolutely no damage and just wait to get knocked out). 

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At the very least, they could make AI disengage on higher difficulties. No one would have right to complain.

 

I could complain about how that would just result in people playing chicken for 3/4 of a fight, or about how it would just result in armored casters and naked frontliners.

 

 

You can always switch to Easy.

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Wizards have tons of defensive abilities, and at least 2 defensive talents. Use them, damnit !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I tried. The overwhelming majority of them are completely and utterly worthless. They are a waste of time (you can't pre-buff and combat is really fast!), they are a waste of spells and most of the time they're not good enough to avoid being clobbered anyway. You are much, much better off using offensive abilities like Slicken, Confusion, Call to Slumber and Gaze of the Ardagan which are both more likely to stop enemies from hurting you and actually do something useful for the party. The same is true of Cipher abilties (I haven't tried Druid yet) -- they have plenty of stuff which stuns or knocks down or something of the sort. Between the limited spell casting and the lack of pre-buffing, the nature of this game is such that pure defense which only applies to the caster is simply not very useful (with a few exceptions).

 

That said, I'm not sure how much impact the change proposed in the first post would have. The situations where tanking basically wins the encounter by itself were usually those in which I park Eder in a doorway and everybody else attacks from behind. It's not a matter of Engagement doing anything, the enemies simply cannot get past him. In the fight which happen in an open field (e.g. most of the bounties), some of the enemies usually do harass my back line (and promptly get crowd controlled in one way or another).

 

 

The spells that CC enemies are hard counters to engagement, I'm not sure why you were having difficulty with those.  They worked 100% for me the few times an enemy went for my squishies.  I think the key is that you have to be quick about it, or even anticipate when the enemy is heading to your squishy.  You can't wait until your squishy is <30% hp to begin thinking about how to disengage.

 

Your comment about the doors is more an issue of map design than anything.  In open field fights, I still rarely had any enemies going for my backline -- all I had to do was send my frontline in first (this is in POTD).  As for the map design issue where you can bottleneck an entire army behind a door, there are a few simple solutions.  The easiest solution would be to add more doors in future content.  Another would be to add enemies that can push/pull your characters, in order to move your tank out of the door.  Another would be for enemies to cast AOE-field spells on the doorway, which would incentivize you to retreat your tank.  That said, I'm not against the idea of bottlenecking enemies behind doors -- it's a great mechanic when used sparingly, such those epic enemy-at-the-gate moments.  But when every dungeon fight turns into a doorbrawl, the combat ends up feeling a little tedious for me. 

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The OP is correct. Deflection doesn't have to be above 80 to be usefull. It's very simple to understand. It's a d100 system. That makes every increase a percentage increase. A 10 increase in deflection is a 10% chance to turn a crit to a hit, hit to graze, or graze to miss.

 

What these people mean when they say it takes stacked defenses is they want characters who get misses all the time. They want a tank character. They also want a dps character. These molds you are trying to use are not necessary here. It sounds like you are trying to apply MMO logic to this game. Why don't you think outside the box and actually try playing THIS game system.

 

I am playing on hard without min/maxed characters. The suggested changes would definitely benefit the game. I was actually going to suggest it myself before I found this thread. It would make it a little harder, and require people to put a little more thought into their characters, their tactics, and the overall system itself.

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