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High-Level Circle of Thorns Revamp

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 Those darn pesky Oranbegans! 

Thorn Casters:

  • Two new minion Thorn Casters at level 50+ replace Ice Thorn Casters:
    • Blizzard Thorn Caster with Storm Blast.
    • Magma Thorn Caster with lava-themed Seismic Blast.

Spectres

 

  • New minion Spectres at level 41+ with Spectral Daemon Lord power suite.
  • New lieutenant Spectres at level 41+ with Nerva Spectral Daemon power suite, and some additional attacks.

 

Demons

  • New lieutenant Hellfrost Lords at level 36+ with cold-themed Thorny Assault power suite.
  • Succubus lieutenants now spawn at level 46+, with slightly adjusted Succubus power suite.

 

Bosses

  • Created high-level versions of Madness, Ruin, and Agony Mages at 45+ with additional powers

 

Various

  • Tar, Quick Sand, and Earthquake debuff patches now display a status text string below your buff icons when you're being affected by them.
  • Added new base CoT resistance to all humanoid CoT critters.
  • Created new CoT mission spawndefs and updated existing CoT zone spawndefs.
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I've done some fighting of these new guys and mostly like 'em.  I was a little worried that with Storm and Seismic being very...visually intensive at times, they might be kind of poor choices to give to normal enemies.  But appropriate to their status as minions, it seems like the Thorn Casters got more modest abilities.  New spirits are nice, new LTs are a mixed bag (I don't really think LT Succubus should be able to Placate, as untouchables are more an annoyance power than anything, and too common as it is even on bosses...but it's not without precedent).  Haven't run into high level Ruin or Madness mages yet but I did enjoy the surprise of an Agony Mage Dreadful Wail-ing in my face right when I thought I had him.

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I've always thought Circle were balanced upside down, with powerful units with a lot of variety at the low level, and then on the high end they basically do nothing. I like having the new variety of units, and not seeing critters like succubi just dying out and no longer existing. OG game had a weird habit of putting tons of effort into new/unique creatures and then just not utilizing them at all.

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I gave this feedback a while ago, but I'll post it here again for those who are new to the changes and are reading through this thread - I have a Demons/Cold MM that I used to test out the CoT and Council reworks. Even at +3x6 the CoT weren't a huge threat - until the bosses got lucky hit rolls with their nukes and I went from a pack of MM with 6 full-health pets to no pets and dead MM in about three seconds. The reworked bosses definitely give you that "oh shit" moment.

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Over all, I'm pretty fond of the changes... Although the new Thorn Casters really do up the "visual clutter" a fair bit. Not quite to high-level-Talons-levels, mind, but their effects aren't exactly subtle.

 

Also agree on the lt. succubus Placate maybe being a bit much. It's not awful as-is, but they seem to do it often enough that it may put them closer to the annoying-challenge end of the scale than the fun-challenge side. 

 

 

ETA: I was running around stabbing them with Kestrel & Cardinal, a DB/WP Scrap and her perma-summoned Adept companion, for reference. And yes, the explosive magi did a real number on Cardinal a few times. Kes herself is tough enough to handle a couple of them going nuke-boy on her. A Mu Adept? Not so much... Call it the Oranbegan's revenge for that whole Ancient War business, I guess. 😝 )

 

STA 2: After a bit more Circle-bashing, the Succubi really only get annoying when you've ended up with more than one of them. Especially when they're the only targets left of their respective spawns. I suspect that level of hateability is intentional.

 

Edited by Coyotedancer
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On 1/20/2024 at 12:37 PM, Dispari said:

I've always thought Circle were balanced upside down, with powerful units with a lot of variety at the low level, and then on the high end they basically do nothing.

100% this.  CoT in the mid game were always so much nastier than the end game mobs.   A Ruin Mage with 2 Spectral Lords?  Good luck! 😄  Granted, part of that was also a lack of fully slotted powers.  And while I appreciate that they added new high level mobs eventually, like the Hellfrosts and Succubi, I always felt that the mid-level enemies were more of a threat than the end game ones.  So this is a very, very welcome addition. 😍

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Took my beefy spines/stone/energy brute boi out for a spin against the new CoT +4/×8. He's incarnated and all that, and he needed all of his tricks to survive. 

 

I love seeing more varied mob types in a spawn. At that difficulty you still get 2, 3, maybe even 4(!) bosses in a spawn, and they can be any mix of Ruin, Madness, Agony, and the Dark ones. So much -def and -res, along with the Ruin magi having a personal def boost along with their Dispersion bubble? Low health nukes? Yow. Got feared a few times too, which made for tense moments. Got Falchion'ed for 600 or 700 damage too. 

 

I Barrier'ed and insp'ed though 3 or 4 missions, died quite a few times. Worse than Arachnos, they're terrifying, it's great. 

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They are great fun now, aren't they? 

 

I took one of my toughest Stalkers (White Thorn, the Hero-side version of Kai, who's KM/Bio-) into a run with them last night... Solo again, since that's typically how I play. I figure the "Always Teaming" sorts will cover how they handle with a group... And they gave her a pretty tough time of it. No deaths, but I ended up leaning a lot more heavily than I'm used to on her iToys and inspiration drops.

 

For reference, this is the Stalker that I successfully took through the entire Dark Astoria arc series solo at +4/x8 just to see if I could. She's no slouch.  That said? I think the Circle groups at +4/x8 as they stand now on Test are actually more of a challenge than those Incarnate level BP and Talons were. 

 

Which make me wonder if the changes to the regular high level Circle are also going to show up in Dark Astoria's Incarnate version of the faction... I haven't been out there yet to look. 

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Was running around with White Thorn again a few minutes ago and noticed one potentially odd thing... Should the Masters of Death be allowed to layer their Tar Patches when you have more than one in a particular spawn? I ran into a group with two and they promptly did so. Which was problematic, even on a character as tough as Thorn.

 

ETA: Running through the rest of the map, only that one group had two Master magi of the same variety. The others all had only one of any given type, which I assume is the "usual" expected spawn. Given that, I wasn't able find out if a group having multiple Ruins could also layer Earthquakes. 

 

Oh, and I encountered one particularly large spawn that was nothing but a collection of assorted Spectrals. I hadn't seen that before in any of the missions I ran with Kestrel, or in Thorn's previous runs. Every other group on the map had a wide variety of things, so that also seemed strange. RNG weirdness but otherwise working-as-intended?

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Coyotedancer said:

Which make me wonder if the changes to the regular high level Circle are also going to show up in Dark Astoria's Incarnate version of the faction... I haven't been out there yet to look. 

 

Incarnate Circle of Thorns were left out of this update, as incarnate mobs have some separate balancing design rules. Feel free to test them though to make sure stuff didn't unintentionally bleed over.

 

40 minutes ago, Coyotedancer said:

Oh, and I encountered one particularly large spawn that was nothing but a collection of assorted Spectrals. I hadn't seen that before in any of the missions I ran with Kestrel, or in Thorn's previous runs. Every other group on the map had a wide variety of things, so that also seemed strange. RNG weirdness but otherwise working-as-intended?

 

 

The all-ghosts spawn is Working As Designed; it's an upshifted version of the all-ghosts spawn you'll find in the 15-30 range.

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3 hours ago, Grimm2 said:

Took my beefy spines/stone/energy brute boi out for a spin against the new CoT +4/×8. He's incarnated and all that, and he needed all of his tricks to survive. 

 

I love seeing more varied mob types in a spawn. At that difficulty you still get 2, 3, maybe even 4(!) bosses in a spawn, and they can be any mix of Ruin, Madness, Agony, and the Dark ones. So much -def and -res, along with the Ruin magi having a personal def boost along with their Dispersion bubble? Low health nukes? Yow. Got feared a few times too, which made for tense moments. Got Falchion'ed for 600 or 700 damage too. 

 

I Barrier'ed and insp'ed though 3 or 4 missions, died quite a few times. Worse than Arachnos, they're terrifying, it's great. 

Not great for those of us who want to use them as relax-mobs to just enjoy the game without it being super difficult. There are other tougher content, and that's fine. Not every mob in the game has to be super difficult or annoying. This is a really bad change ruining one of the best parts of the game which is to come on to relax. I don't even play council/cot that often doing PI radios, but from time to time I need to just mindlessly beat up mobs. Again, there are many other tougher mobs out there for a reason, and more new tougher mobs can always be created, but please, leave the council and cot alone so you don't alienate the people that have enjoyed this part for decades.

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1 hour ago, ViridianDev said:

 

Incarnate Circle of Thorns were left out of this update, as incarnate mobs have some separate balancing design rules. Feel free to test them though to make sure stuff didn't unintentionally bleed over.

 

 

The all-ghosts spawn is Working As Designed; it's an upshifted version of the all-ghosts spawn you'll find in the 15-30 range.

 

 

I'll have a look at DA this afternoon... and good to know re: our gaggle of ghosts.

 

Is the layered Tar Patch working as intended as well? I never did find a group with two of any of the other magi varieties, so still no clue if the Earthquakes are also coming in multiples. 

 

 

ETA: The Circle in DA seem to be properly Old School. No sign of any of our new-fangled friends spawning with the groups. 

 

 

 

Edited by Coyotedancer

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2 hours ago, Coyotedancer said:

Is the layered Tar Patch working as intended as well? I never did find a group with two of any of the other magi varieties, so still no clue if the Earthquakes are also coming in multiples. 

The mob AI is really dumb, but double patches are not supposed to happen. In my experience double tar patches or earthquakes are rare, but they can happen.

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23 minutes ago, KaizenSoze said:

The mob AI is really dumb, but double patches are not supposed to happen. In my experience double tar patches or earthquakes are rare, but they can happen.

 

 

I suspected they might not be working as intended by doubling up like that (Given that some lower-level effects, like the Quicksand that Earth Thorns can cast or the Dark aura that the big Spectral Demon Lords do, are one-at-a-time effects-), but just hadn't been noticed/mentioned yet because having two of the same mage type in a given spawn group appears to be rare. 

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Is it possible that the doubling-up enemies are coming from different mobs?  I believe the way AI rules power use is that two enemies from the same mob won't stack powers, but if you over aggro, then each mob can unleash one of each, and it is supposed to stack in those cases.

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1 hour ago, Lazarillo said:

Is it possible that the doubling-up enemies are coming from different mobs?  I believe the way AI rules power use is that two enemies from the same mob won't stack powers, but if you over aggro, then each mob can unleash one of each, and it is supposed to stack in those cases.

 

Nope.

 

This was a regular spawn off on their own. There were no others anywhere nearby to get individual critters mixed up with. 

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Ran some 4x8 PI radios tonight. Never had more than 4 players at a time, but it was a good test.

 

We didn't see any double tar/earthquake patches. The team mostly plowed through them. There I would guess around 10 death over 10+ missions.

 

I will say that the controller was having some issues, because they were playing in close and were getting hit by the nukes. This was true for Council too.


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Stalker

Controller

Tank

Scrapper

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7 hours ago, WindDemon21 said:

Not great for those of us who want to use them as relax-mobs to just enjoy the game without it being super difficult. There are other tougher content, and that's fine. Not every mob in the game has to be super difficult or annoying. This is a really bad change ruining one of the best parts of the game which is to come on to relax. I don't even play council/cot that often doing PI radios, but from time to time I need to just mindlessly beat up mobs. Again, there are many other tougher mobs out there for a reason, and more new tougher mobs can always be created, but please, leave the council and cot alone so you don't alienate the people that have enjoyed this part for decades.

For what it's worth, they were saying they were testing as a solo player doing x8+4 - the hardest difficulty setting. If you're trying to relax, then there's nothing wrong with turning down the difficulty. x8+4 should be challenging to some degree.

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10 hours ago, KaizenSoze said:

I will say that the controller was having some issues, because they were playing in close and were getting hit by the nukes. This was true for Council too.


Yeah.  I'm used to being able to stay in range for Radiant Aura to keep Stoney healed up and to use my Epics, but that was pretty risky tonight.  

And poor Stoney took quite a beating, I had to re-summon much more than I'm used to.

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17 hours ago, TomatoPhalanges said:

For what it's worth, they were saying they were testing as a solo player doing x8+4 - the hardest difficulty setting. If you're trying to relax, then there's nothing wrong with turning down the difficulty. x8+4 should be challenging to some degree.

It still is if you don't know what you're doing and don't have a 100% fully (experienced player) done up build as well. But these were and still should remain as is for those purposes. There are so many other enemy types out there for more of a challenge, and a MILLION more that could be made that are tough as well. There is absolutely zero reason to make these mobs harder. They basically only exist in PI radios, and that's fine. Leave them be what they are.

 

If the reason is that "players are leveling too fast with them" well that's just dumb, and there are easily other ways players can and do level up fast. Even if a *slight* tweak to their exp, like 10%, that's fine, but would still be dumb.

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There is a good reason to change the Circle of Thorns and that is that it makes no sense for their mob make-up to dwindle down to nothing at 50.

Level 50 Enemy Groups should all be dangerous or difficult in their own ways. Malta, Carnies, Arachnos, Council, Circle, Crey, and more - all of them should bring something to the table that you need to think about at +4/x8. Death Mages are a nothing-burger generally. Now is a Ruin Mage going to slow you down or halt you? Yes. That's where you either focus them down, Line of Sight pull, or change your difficulty settings.

You do meet Circle of Thorns outside of paper missions at 50. Miss Liberty has a whole ass mission where you face them. I believe 2 or 3 of the Shadow Shard TFs involves them. Halloween tips too!

No group should be a brainless mindless stomp by the time you hit the 46-50 range of mob levels. This is when you should, in reality, be going up against some real threats.

 

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alright buddy, it's time to shit yourself
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I just like the variety... Seeing all of the different types of mages out there in high level groups is just a lot more interesting than what we've currently got outside of beta. Figuring out how to handle them and in what order is more fun than just geeking the Death Mage and then burning down anybody with him without a second thought. 

 

Is the doubled-up Earthquake and Tar Patch issue a potential problem? Yeah. I think it is. That's well into "a bit much" territory.

 

Are multiple exploding magi potentially an outsized issue for Masterminds and Controllers due to the way they tend to kneecap pets? Possibly. We need to get a good idea of just how badly that pet/goon interaction is typically likely to go, I think.

 

But over all? It's a good change. An update to more than their wardrobe is something our musty old magi have needed for ages... And I'm saying that even as someone who's really fond of them.

 

 

 

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I can't wait for Earthquake + Dispersion Bubble + buffed ruin mages because someone didn't lock down that one mage type.

At level 54.

It probably won't do much on a team that's popped their Destinies but god. The havoc possibilites...

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alright buddy, it's time to shit yourself
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