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Two things to fix dual-blades for Stalkers

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There's a reason this powerset isn't seen as often on stalkers, and having played one into incarnate and veteran levels there's two critiques I can say that bug me on it constantly.  Easy fixes that just requires altering a few variables in the coding.  For a set that has lethal damage type, which gets resisted a lot, it's IMHO not nearly as fun or effective on a team as it could be.  Here's my 2 cents that could completely fix the power set.




[ #1 ]  AoE fix : Sweeping Strike vs. One Thousand Cuts


Sweeping Strike is less range, less damage, less max targets, and only 4 seconds less cooldown than One Thousand Cuts; but the animation looks powerful.

One Thousand Cuts animation looks like noodle arms and roots you in place.  Compare:





So... Assuming the animations can't be improved...

Here's what I'd suggest to fix: Sweeping Strike:

1.  Cone arc from 90 degrees to 150 degrees (better matches animation, more forgiving aiming direction)

2.  Max targets from 5 targets, to 10 targets max (I personally hate target caps at all, but can comprise for making it equal)

3.  Reduce cooldown by 3 seconds (i.e. from 11 to 7), making it more available for combos


Here's what I'd suggest for fixing One Thousand Cuts

1.  Reduce range by 3 from 10 ft to 7 ft

(enemies from 10ft away getting hit by wiggle-noodle-arms, it's kind of immersion breaking lol)

2.  Add a knockup effect on the last tick

(better matches the upswing final animation, sets up for a possible retreat from all the enemies you just aggro'ed which can be life-saving)




[ #2 ] The combo order & power choices are not optimal or logical for how Stalker combat plays


Who the heck decided the combo order on this was a good idea?

Placate finishes the combo on Empower? Really?


To fix:


1. Weaken Build Up (begin), Assassin's Blades (continue), Placate (finish)

First, Build-Up then Assassin's Blades is the bread & butter 1-2 combo of a stalker. Second, if you're going to use placate, then it's drop threat to then setup for a follow-up hit later with another Assassin's strike, or so your teammate(s) can take over and you can stop taking damage from the placated enemy. Think of it this way: the enemy is reeling from your stab, and now dazed by your placate. Their defensive awareness and ability to aim are off. 


2. Empower : Build Up (begin), Assassin's Blades (continue), Vengeful Slice (finish)

First, Build-Up then Assassin's Blades is the bread & butter 1-2 combo of a stalker.  Second Vengeful Slice has you jumping straight up at the end of the animation and knocking the enemy up like you just hit them under their jaw with an uppercut punch.  Just doing the assassinate stab wasn't enough and maybe even the follow-up finishing the combo with vengeful slice still isn't enough, but now you're feeling empowered to hit them more.  Getting a little scrapper-lock going on, eh?  Thus, it empowers you +dmg & +toHit.


3. Attack Vitals :  Ablating Strike (begin), Power Slice (continue), One Thousand Cuts (finish)

First we'll weaken the defense of target, hit them again with a moderate hit, and then  finish with a vicious flurry of blows that leaves lots of bleeding cuts (hence the DoT). Oh and it'll be cone AoE, so it matches nicely with where you thought the damage would be heading to.


4. Sweep : Build Up (begin), Assassin's Blades (continue), Sweeping Strike (finish)

I mean literally the power is called sweep that finishes a sweep combo, that's easy to remember. And more importantly that 150 degree cone for 10 targets?  Yeah that'd be very nice on a team to knock those enemies up.  And again, Build-Up then Assassin's Blades is the bread & butter 1-2 combo of a stalker.


Currently it's like this, and ugh... much to be desired...

  Power Level Effect Weaken
Foe -ToHit -Def
Self +Damage +ToHit
Attack Vitals
Cone +DoT
PBAoE +Knockdown
DualBlades LightOpening.png Nimble Slash 1 Melee, Minor Damage (Lethal).     Continue  
DualBlades ModerateOpening.png Power Slice 1 Melee, Moderate Damage(Lethal). Continue   Begin  
DualBlades ModerateBridge.png Ablating Strike 2 Melee, Moderate Damage (Lethal), Foe -Defense.       Finish
DualBlades AssassinBlades.png Assassin's Blades 6 Melee, Moderate Damage +Special.   Continue   Continue
DualBlades BuildUp.png Build Up 8 Self +Damage +To-Hit.   Begin   Begin
DualBlades Placate.png Placate 12 Ranged, Foe Placate.   Finish    
DualBlades Special1.png Vengeful Slice 18 Melee, Moderate Damage(Lethal), Foe Knockdown.     Finish  
DualBlades Special2.png Sweeping Strike 26 Melee (Cone), Superior Damage (Lethal). Begin      
DualBlades HighLow.png One Thousand Cuts 32 Melee (Cone), Superior Damage (Lethal). Finish      


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I've got to admit, I pretty much just ignore the combo system on my DB characters. If I happen to hit one, yay. If not, yay.


(That said, I think the DB AS is probably my favourite. "Got'cher kidneys... yoink!")

  • Like 2

Primarily on Everlasting. Squid afficionado. Former creator of Copypastas. General smartalec.


Please, if you feel the need to shoot down someone's suggestion by saying "It's not worth the devs time," don't. The devs are big boys and girls and can determine for themselves what is or is not worth their time, they don't need you to do it.

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The only combo I use consistently on my stalker is sweep. 


Tbh, DB is rediculously strong and top 2/3 in stalker damage for the moment (Energy melee will no doubt factor in after the beta) 


I agree that the combo system doesn't really work in DBs favor if you want an optimal rotation, but eh... that is what it is and I'm not sure how you'd fix it, or if I even want it "fixed" cause it would inevitably end up being a nerf to overall damage, whether that be ST, AOE, or both. 

Edited by Pizzamurai

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Agreeing with Grey and Pizza on the combo system. My favorite back in the live days was a DB/WP Stalker named Grey Kestrel...I very occasionally used Sweep or Weaken, but for the most part just didn't find that I needed the combos with her. 


Otherwise, I found nothing wrong with Sweeping or Thousand Cuts, either. So, I'd have to say leave the set well enough alone. 

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My favorite stalker build and probably my #2 fav char overall is a DB/EA stalker and I oppose these changes.


#1 Thousand Cuts: already skippable as a power as the existing Sweep combo (BU -> AS -> Ablating) and the existing Sweeping Strike is sufficient AoE for me, and it's free AoE that happens to come with my existing ST chain.  But if you want more AoE, thousand cuts is available and it has pretty decent stats for a stalker AoE.  I certainly don't think it needs to be nerfed.  In a similar vein, while the increased area and target cap of sweeping strike would be nice, I guess, I don't feel like it's necessary and would go to waste a lot of the time, and reducing the recharge reduces the effectiveness of damage procs in this power.  11sec is pretty short as-is.


#2 Combo order changes:

Like my colleagues above I don't bother with the combo system since ablating / sweeping / assassin's blades is more or less all I use.  I think the proposed changes are based largely on the 'feel' of how the combos work, which is very subjective.  Personally the empower combo makes sense to me: build up, assassin's strike, placate, boom now you're empowered to hit the same guy again.  I like the Sweep combo as-is in part because ablating strike is up much more often than sweeping, so every time build up gets recharged i always have the sweep combo on deck.  I guess this would change if sweeping strike's cooldown were reduced but as above I don't support this.


If you really wanted to improve the combo system though you could make Sweeping Strike or 1 Thousand Cuts the finisher for the Attack Vitals combo.  While Attack Vitals is normally a cone PBAoE on Stalkers it's a single target effect because the finishing move is vengeful slice, which is easily the worst power in the set (long animation, low DPA, single target).  But even still I doubt this would be optimal as long as nimble slice and power slice are both required to execute the combo.  The fact that Ablating/Sweeping/Assassin's are just SO much stronger in terms of raw DPA (on top of maintaining 2 -res procs) says to me that without massively boosting the power of the combos and/or flattening out the differences in the powers stats, any form of 'optimal' play for Dual Blades will continue to involve leaving the combos alone.  But, I don't see any changes being necessary.  The set overall is quite strong and IMO still fulfills the flashy dual blade power fantasy just fine.



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I like the idea of the overlapping combos for dual blades, but the excessively long timers for build-up and placate (excessively long, meaning they can't meaningfully be incorporated into a combo chain in a reliable manner) means you can't do what many DB toons do, take the overlap combos and skip the rest.


I'm thinking of doing a DB/DA and Stalker may be the way I go... So I'm thinking about this now.

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