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Officially Unofficial Weekly Discussion #30: Yoga Pants, BCAA pre/post workout, and cell phone in the gym Let's get Buff (Discussion of Buffing powersets).

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Welcome back folks. I wanted to get this one up early as I'll likely be checked out later in the week given Diablo 4 is coming out. So this week we discuss the state of Buffing. Ideally we'll focus on debuffs in a separate post, so for the purpose of this post keep it to buffs (and yes heals are buffs to an HP bar).


Feel free to discuss, compare, and contrast any buff sets in the game. Do you have a preferred buff set you enjoy? Is there one that you don't like? What do you find enjoyable about playing a buffer? Is there anything that holds you back from being a buffer? Do you have any interesting thoughts for a new buff powerset? Do you find buffs to be in a good place now or does it need tuning?


As always thanks for playing.

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I have never been drawn to the healers of buffers in a game. In some ways I know they get incredible powers to boost teams.  I hate playing Corruptors to some extent because I have to buff or heal.  With the new playstyle and incarnate powers it is my perception at 50 anyone who is more Buff/Control/Support than a Corruptor is a weaker choice for a team/league.  In the modern 50 environment it is Destinies and Damage.  

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The main thing that holds me back from playing a buffer is that I don't want to have to pay close attention to other people on my team and/or make sure that debuffs are kept active on baddies. I just wanna enter a room and start blasting/punching because I'm lazy and also I tend to get very tunnel-visioned. 


I also like having mezz protection built-in to my base kit, which limits the support sets I could use anyways. 

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8 hours ago, SeraphimKensai said:

Is there anything that holds you back from being a buffer?


Well. Yes.

Often times, if you join a team and you are considered to be the healer/buffer then the rest of the team decides that they can play it more risky and expect you to keep up with buffing and healing rather than using your other powers.

It is annoying enough when you see the behavior. It is more annoying if someone jumps on you for not keeping up with buffing them.


I don't play "buffers" all that often so I'm not exposed to the actual attacks for "not doing your job" that often, but pretty much every time that occurs, it makes me more unlikely to play a "buffer".


To be fair, I haven't seen bad-mouthing of any team behavior on Torchbearer or Everlasting for as far as I can remember. I have never run into it on Reunion. Indomitable is a ghost town most times that I log into it. So that would only leave one server.... 

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To play:

I do prefer a mix of buff & debuff, and I've been playing more cold domination.

Electrical Affinity is liked as well.

And everyone should have some sort of experience with kinetics.

I do however prefer the sets that let you buff the team with the fewest clicks.  So grateful for the buffs that were changed to targeted AOE from single targets.  Speed Boost in particular


I just realized, I haven't tried poison on anything.


To play with:

Redhead of Recklessness (Fortitude) is always a fave

Speed Boost is always welcome.  Especially on End hogs

I do appreciate all the other buffs that happen though I think the only time I say anything is if I see a kinetics and the team doesn't seem boosted.  However, I tend to be more passive aggressive about it like mentioning how great it is that I got a speed boost, etc...   Though depends on how well I've got my end management down.


All that being said, I tend to play melee & blasters more than anything else repeatably.  My chars with buffs tend to be concepts I want to explore, but tend to stall out once I hit 50.   Even with the easier time of buffing we get now, it would be nice to have an easier way to tell which teammates you have buffed.  The status icons only say so much.

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Posted (edited)

I play with force field and nature frequently because none of those require frequent individual targeting,  which to me feels like irritating whack-a-mole, especially with healing such as with pain or thermal;  I feel like I'm watching health bars and clicking on individual players more than actually playing the game. It's even worse in a league.


Nature's cone heal is perfect because it meshes well with actually just playing through the game. "Look where you want to heal"and there you go. If more of the sets had some sort of similar functionality that required less watching the interface and more engaging with the game especially with heals and buffs I would play more of the other sets.


Support sets should always offer something to the caster as well, such as thermal shields for force bubbles, even if they offer just a fraction of the buff.


Tldr: older sets are punishing because they force you to disengage the gameplay in order to do your role. 

Edited by Force Redux
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It's hard to say if "buffs" are in a good place now, because the sets are quite different.


Empathy ... I remember when an emp hit certain levels they'd start getting bombarded with tells (I think mine were on hide from the late 30s to mid-40s in most cases so I could do things like... missions and talking with friends.) Now, not so much - but that's from (a) misunderstanding Emp so often as "just heals" and (b) the buffs being less useful now late game thanks to IOs, incarnates, etc. (RA vs self-contained Alpha for End woes?)


Plus, of course, the experience is different if it's a primary or secondary, and with what they're paired with. (For instance, I consider Clarity a wasted power in Sonic Resonance, because by the time it comes up - *especially* as a secondary, even with the leveling changes, it's pretty much not needed.)


Honestly, I think any discussion of "if it's in a good place or not" has to be done set by set vs. as a whole. There are arguments for toggles casting faster so they can actually have some effect with modern teams, which is kind of the most common thing I can think of to look at, otherwise it's set by set.


Likes, dislikes... I hate the changes made to FF and have nixed concepts that would have worked or remakes of old favourite characters. I think they've ruined that set.  They certainly have for me. Go-to sets... if I'm buiding someone to buff MSRs, Pain Domination or Electric are pretty solid go tos. (I need to bring Rez Disdpenser back on more MSRs... need to finish Assume Reposition first, though - she's there to wormhole and fold space, primarily.)


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I tried to combine Circle and DE, but all I got were garden variety evil mages.

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1 hour ago, Greycat said:

Empathy ... I remember when an emp hit certain levels they'd start getting bombarded with tells (I think mine were on hide from the late 30s to mid-40s in most cases so I could do things like... missions and talking with friends.) Now, not so much - but that's from (a) misunderstanding Emp so often as "just heals" and (b) the buffs being less useful now late game thanks to IOs, incarnates, etc. (RA vs self-contained Alpha for End woes?)

Early on live I had a Kinetics Defender.  I joined a team and got booted immediately because I was not Empathy. 😛

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I don't mind giving out buffs at all*, long as I still get my own pewpewpew crunching in there.  Corruptors are good, but I find Doms to be even more enjoyable for this.


* Well, I say "at all".  I've tried a few Kin toons and it just feels to disconnected from actual crunch that I just got bored and wandered off.


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Posted (edited)

The first Buffer/Healer I ever made was an Empathy Defender.  I'd been with a few teams by then and had seen the common complaint "The Healer isn't healing!  They don't know what they're doing!"  Well, I saw the behavior of those teams, and the word "reckless" comes to mind for those memories.


So, I decided to roll up an Empathy Defender to see how it went.  I saw it as "Hey, you can't really judge somebody until you try it for yourself..."  Not a great philosophy for everything, I know, but it's certainly good for a game where that option is available to everybody.


So...  That said...


Empathy could probably stand for a revamp.  Healing Aura, Heal Other, Fortitude, Clear Mind, and Adrenalin Boost are all great powers.  Recovery Aura and Regeneration Aura are good, and people like them, but they're not as great.  The recharge rate on them is far too long and they require the team hold still for a moment they probably don't want to.  Sure, you can call out "Gather for RAs!" but there are other buffs that can be applied on the fly, recharge faster and IOs are readily available to help shore up a character's recovery or regeneration consistently enough that the teammates often don't need them anymore; and if they do and they miss out, that's a long time to wait for the next chance.  The Incarnate abilities, Ageless and Rebirth, recharge faster.  Finally, Absorb Pain is simply a foolish power to take.  I know there are players out there who will insist that they use this power, that they think it's great, and no self-respecting Empathy build will ignore it...  I ignore it, and nobody's ever complained about the healing I do.  I ignore Absorb Pain because it's designed around a game design mentality that simply does not fit this game as it is now.  It was made in the Emmert days, when he thought the game should be almost as punishing as it was fun (I still remember when somebody ramped up the defense, resistance and regeneration of all the AVs and Giant Monsters, Jack).  Absorb Pain is utterly antithetical to the fast-paced gameplay we've been employing.  It may be an "Oh crap!" power, but Heal Other will work just as well, it recharges faster and it doesn't try to kill you at the same time, nor does it keep you from receiving healing (including regeneration).  If ANY power needs to be completely retooled, it's Absorb Pain (to the point of even replacing it with something else).


Pain Domination is mostly the "Evil" version of Empathy.  However, it lacks a Fortitude, instead shifting that ability selfishly to the player whenever they use Conduit of Pain to rez an ally (which then boosts you with +DMG, +To-Hit, +Rech, +Rec, though it weakens you after it wears off).  It also doesn't have the RAs, instead using a regeneration aura toggle and a +Resistance buff that also boosts the Damage and ToHit of the team, but still not nearly to the degree of Fortitude.  Still, it's an excellent buff set, and has a pretty decent debuff in it, even though it's a PBAOE (which is not the best place for the squishy buffer to be).  However, it also has an Absorb Pain analogue in Share Pain, which functions mostly the same way, but it also boosts the damage of the player character (the question is whether or not the player thinks this is a good tradeoff).  Personally, I'm of the opinion these "Self Harm to Heal Others" should be replaced.


Force Fields and Cold Domination are almost like turning the team to Easy Mode.  Force Fields especially can ramp the team's defense up to max with a minimum of enhancement investment and is often considered cheating in the Rikti Mothership Raid.  About the only complaint I've ever seen for Cold Domination is that the ice armor messes with their costumes, which mostly goes out the window when the action kicks into gear.


Sonic Resonance and Thermal Radiation are the Resistance alternate to Force Fields and Cold Domination, with Thermal Radiation also including some ideas from Empathy in terms of healing and buffing (though Forge is slightly underwhelming compared to Fortitude) and also comes with a nice single target debuff and a FANTASTIC AOE debuff.  There was a time when players didn't like the resistance buffs, but I think enough players have realized that Defense is great to minimize how often you're hit, but the enemies WILL eventually hit you, so it's good to have buffs that mitigate that damage.


Even better to have a mix going.  Heck, if you've got one player doing Force Fields, one doing Ice, one doing Sonic and another doing Thermal...  It's going to be HARD for the enemies to break through to your precious, precious hitpoints.


When I played my Stone Tanker in the Paragon days, I always silently hoped for a Kinetics buffer to join the team.  Kinetics is ESPECIALLY enjoyed by the modern team on the go.  One quick zap and everybody's got super speed!  One PBAOE buff, and everybody can jump really high.  The melee guys dive into the middle of the fray and Fulcrum Shift turns the stalwart tanker into a relentless juggernaut and the Scrapper into a blender (even if they're using their fists).  The ranged characters aren't left out of the buffs, either, because Siphon Power has a pretty decent buff in damage and ToHit all its own.  It's got a pretty long recharge, but I've seen this thing stack up to four times, and any ranged character with THAT going is head-chopping Bosses quick.


Nature Affinity is one I haven't played much.  I haven't had a desire to play it, though I do have a concept in mind that I might want to dust off.  I've seen people complain about it, saying its heals aren't as strong as healing sets and its buffs aren't as strong as buff sets, but I've always enjoyed the boost the set gives, so I might have to give this the Empathy Test after all.


Time Manipulation is...  Clunky.  Granted, I've largely played it on characters that had weapons, so the redraw constantly nagged at me, but nowadays that issue should be largely negated.  This set is a mixed bag regardless, though, as it seems to have been designed to be more of a balance between buffs and debuffs.  Dark Miasma, Radiation Emission, Trick Arrow, Poison and Storm Summoning have buffs and healing, but they're largely debuff sets.  Time Manipulation, however, has a balance of the Buff and Debuff.  Its debuffs are perfectly fine, but the buffs and healing are...  Odd.  There's no single-target heal and the PBAOE Heal is slow-going and endurance-expensive.  Temporal Selection is very nice as a buff, but a teammate can lose endurance fast.  Chrono Shift is a bit of an odd duck, as its boosts to Recovery and Endurance are somehow barred to Masterminds for some reason, but is otherwise everything great about Empathy's RAs for everybody else, plus a boost to recharge.


Electrical Affinity is great.  It has one problem, though...  You need to near-constantly be zapping your teammates or pets.  You need to keep those Static charges up to really maximize the range and effect of Electrical Affinity.  The Faraday Cage helps, but while you're waiting for it to boost you up, your team is in a fight for their lives.  This is a very tense and anxiety inducing powerset, not for people looking to relax for a game.  That said, I do enjoy it, both for its gimmick and its buffs, especially Empowering Circuit and Amp Up, and the Recovery buff of Energizing Circuit is always handy.


Radiation Emission's buffs are few.  You've got a PBAOE Heal, a Resurrection, and a PBAOE Recovery/Regen/Rech buff.  People love this stuff, but it's not where Radiation shines.  Its debuffs are the winners on the team, and not the focus here.  A Radiation Emission PC that focuses only on the buffs will have a VERY rough time of things.


Dark Miasma is similarly hamstrung, with a heal that needs to target an enemy, but will heal everybody around the player character in a sort of inverse of Kinetics's Transfusion.  It also has a stealth cloud (that has to be turned off in MANY circumstances).  The one thing that Dark Miasma is great for when it comes to buffing, however, is Howling Twilight, a power that will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat again and again.  I have seen this power turn the tide in Rikti Mothership Raids repeatedly, and I've even been the one to make the save in some of those instances.  However, the set is still mostly debuffs.


Storm Summoning is in the same boat as Dark Miasma, but with no resurrection power.  Plus, its heal is single-target and rather weak (with the justification that it's also buffing the character's perception and resistances to certain effects; but nobody is relying on it for that).  It's not a bad set, but this isn't what you turn to for improving the party, it's what you turn to for obliterating the enemy.


Poison is...  Rather terrible.  Its effects are STRONG, but mostly for single targets, and ONLY for single targets on the team.  It's not a great heal (being rather slow to animate), it's not a great Mez Resistance (again, slow to animate), and its Resurrection power INFURIATES players ("Why am I not movi-I'M BARFING!  DAMN IT, POISON!").  Again, this is a debuff heavy set, though, so when you bring poison to the table, you're not trying to improve the party, you're trying to destroy the enemy.  That said, I have great memories of this set helping a team wipe out Romulus.  Envenom used to completely tank an enemy's ability to heal, which made Romulus's "Healing Fluffy" absolutely useless to him at the time.  Now, the -Heal effect has been reduced...  But it still gives Romulus a REALLY bad day.  Still...  I do wish the "splash" effects were wider.  I'm not enjoying splash attacks, of any stripe, which need enemies to be practically huddling together to spread out the effect while other sets have much wider ranges on their debuffs and are far more powerful for the effect.


Finally, there is Trick Arrow and Traps.  These aren't buff sets.  Traps does have its Force Field Generator and Triage Beacon (which, let's be honest, isn't great), and Trick Arrow does have its new and improved EMP Arrow (the old one was built using the old Blaster Nuke rules despite doing a pittance of the damage while the new one makes a fancier Faraday Cage), but these two sets were designed around hampering and hindering the enemy.  Any buffs they provide are entirely tertiary.

Edited by rolandgrey
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I tend to avoid sets that only buff, especially if the buffs are team only and can't be self directed. I like sets with a mix of buffs and debuffs. My favorites are Cold, Kinetics, Nature and Time. The buffs are AoE, have a reasonably long duration and only have to be refreshed every couple of minutes. [Poison is also a favorite but I refuse to call it a buff set. I skip the heal and only use Elixir of Life and Antidote as mules.]

Uunderdog - Rad/Rad Scrapper | Uundertaker - Rad/Dark Corruptor | Uun - MA/Inv Scrapper | Uunison - Gravity/Storm Controller | Uuncola - Ice/Temp Blaster | Uundergrowth - Plant/Martial Dominator | Uunstable - SR/Staff Tank

Uunreal - Fire/Time Corruptor | Uunrest - Dark/TA Blaster | Uunseen - Illusion/Poison Controller | Uuncool - Cold/Beam Defender | Uunderground - Earth/Earth Dominator | Uunknown - Mind/Psi Dominator | Uunplugged - Stone/Elec Brute

Uunfair - Archery/TA Corruptor | Uunsung - DP/Ninja Blaster | Uunflammable - Fire/Nature Controller | Uunflappable - War Mace/Willpower Brute | Uundead - Dark/Dark Tank | Uunfit - Water/Martial Blaster  | Uunwrapped - Dark/Dark Dominator

Uunchill - Ice/Kinetics Corruptor | Uunpleasant - Energy/Energy Stalker | Uunbrella - Rad/Rad Sentinel | Uunsafari - Beasts/Traps MM | Uungnome - Nature/Seismic Defender | Uunsavory - Poson/Sonic Defender

Uunicycle - Broad Sword/Shield Scrapper | Uuntouchable - Illusion/Time Controller | Uunferno - Fire/Fire Tank | Uunthinkable - Psi/SR Scrapper | Uuncivil - Thugs/Elec MM

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Posted (edited)
On 5/30/2023 at 6:21 PM, Snarky said:

I have never been drawn to the healers of buffers in a game. In some ways I know they get incredible powers to boost teams.  I hate playing Corruptors to some extent because I have to buff or heal. 

Same. I want to use them like a Blaster, but they aren't. That said, avoiding secondary targeted heals is a must for for me, so perhaps running with X/Rad would be a way to go, since I've run Rad Defenders in the past, and actually liked it. I can just lay down RA/AM, then get to other stuff. 'Course, we're talking a debuff set here, really.

Edited by cranebump
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Posted (edited)

I've been a fan of sonic since its inception back on live. However the buffs to forcefield really show how one dimensional the set really is at this point. Ok, mostly one dimensional. You either buff or debuff resistance in most everything. There are a few exceptions, but they have issues. 


I'll go by Power:

1. Sonic Barrier- fine

2. Sonic Siphon- very one dimensional, could use some other sort of effect. Heck, the force field equivalent knocks the target down at least. 

3. Sonic Haven- fine

4. Sonic Cage- I suppose some people find uses for cage powers, I consider it an easy skip. Cage powers usually just protect the target from competent people on your team who already meant to kill the annoying mobs you'd hit with this (Sappers, Surgeons, etc.) I wouldn't mind something else, but I also don't mind an easy skip. 

5. Disruption Field- Fine. This one used to be pretty awful when it pulled aggro back to the sonic, but that was fixed a long time ago. 

6. Sonic Dispersion- fine

7. Sonic Repulsion- If you drop a KO->KD IO into it, it can be splendid. However the noise it makes appears to tick off a team more than the protection that it generates makes them happy, so I often keep it off. The endurance cost is so damned high, it's hard to justify. If the noise could be fixed somehow, the power might be good, though the fact that you need a special IO to make it bearable is not a great design decision (I'm not a fan of knockback). 

8. Clarity- basically a waste spot in the face of sonic dispersion running all the time. If it did more in the way of buffing it might actually be worth taking. 

9. Liquefy- this power is actually pretty good while in use. However the uptime is so absolutely horrible, that it's a major come down when you've finally achieved it as your capstone power. 300 seconds recharge for 30 seconds of debuff. Even with perma hasten this recharges in 81 seconds so you're at a fairly pathetic percentage of uptime. The debuff numbers are quite good, but on a fast moving team, the location based nature of the debuff means it's fairly meh, and if you hit a hard target, not many AVs drop in 30 seconds, so again, meh. This one could use some love. 


So in a set of 9 powers 4 are fine. Every other power has significant issues. Sonic could definitely use some love. I'd have to look for actual scarcity numbers, but it is pretty rare in play. If you're odd enough to try and solo without a pet handy (corr or def) with the set you basically have 3 powers, with one on a overly long timer (siphon, dispersion, and liquefy). 

Edited by drbuzzard
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Thermal is my go to buff set.  I basically don't use any others any more.


At low levels you get a self heal (plus aoe), heal other, and RES shields.  It's not as good defenses given out as FF, but you can heal and self heal.  At level 15 it is fantastic.

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