November 7, 2008

Conflagration Demonologist: finally stronger in 1 vs 1 PvP

As you probably recall, the October 29th patch had a huge amount of notes. Many things were added, including the PvP notoriety system, and many were modified, such as the combo system, but this time I'd like to talk specifically about the impact the patch had on the Demonologist class, it being my main character and all. I'm still trying to figure some stuff out, so I'll just post my impressions so far.

First, let's start with the improvements. Interestingly, it's the Conflagration tree that got most - if not all - of these. (And about time, too!).

  • Planar Shift is now instant-cast when fully feated. If only it had a bit longer duration.
  • Flame Body is now instant-cast when fully feated. I always thought this spell could use either a longer duration or a shorter casting time. I'd have preferred the duration, but I suppose instant-cast works too :)
  • Set's Chosen now reduces the damage caused by Archfiend's Pact buff. Finally, our ultimate lvl80 skill actually becomes useful! In addition, all Pacts now deal percentage-based damage to the caster instead of flat amount. The end result is that Pacts deal less damage than before, especially to Conflagration Demonologists.
  • Some minor stuff like Shrink and Forced Summoning being permanent (unless you choose to cancel them). Interestingly, Shrink also affects your Chaos Imps.
Okay, here's where it gets really hot (pun not intended):
  • Incinerate can now be applied by Greater Flames (2x effect!), Inferno of Amher if feated with Black Ashes, and Let them Burn (1x for every tick). Improved Waves of Flame too, but does anyone actually take that feat? Blazing Fire also gives a 33/66/100% chance for Hellfire Stream to cause an Incinerate effect, but that's a minor improvement and I've always found the feat to be useless. Now, the damage caused by Incinerate is as lousy as always (even with fully feated Lingering Flames), but now you can put Incinerate on groups of people with your AoE spells, and...
  • There's a new feat called Scorch in the Conflagration tree that causes every Incinerate effect to also induce a Blistering Wounds debuff. Not only it reduces healing that the target can receive by 5% and all natural regens (health, mana and stamina) by 20, it also stacks up to five times - just like Incinerate does. In the end you can have -20% healing and -100 regen debuff running on your victim. Definitely the best part of this Demonologist patch! It kind of reminds me of Playing with Fire ability that Bright Wizards in Warhammer Online have, only it's way less useful and not overpowered at all :)
  • Detonation is now instant-cast, and although it had its damage reduced accordingly, it now causes a knockback if you learn the new Backdraft feat (33/66/100% chance to cause a knockback). Take that, Havoc users! Now we Conflag demonologists have a knockback CC spell, too :) There's even a 3 meter splash area (!), and the power of the knockback depends on the amount of Incinerate debuffs you have running on the target. Admittedly, even with fully feated Backdraft it doesn't always work on players. It seems you need to stack as much Incinerate as possible to improve your chances.
  • Storm Chains is now instant-cast, and applies a 30% AoE snare if you take the according Havoc feats. Hands of Underworld is also instant-cast (although the root part never worked for me, the increased running speed is nice), and the casting time of Gates of Hell has been reduced from 2.5 to 1.5 seconds. Now, the changes might seem good, but with the root nerf that I'll write about in the next paragraph, they don't mean all that much.
Now a short summary of changes that I have mixed feelings about:
  • Casting Concentration now works. This is a good change I suppose, as long as it doesn't impact your spellcasting too much. I haven't had much trouble, but I have Casting Concentration maxed and a nice amount of points added from my gear, too.
  • All Crowd Control effects break after target's health is reduced by a certain percentage. I think it's about 20% for our roots. At any rate, in PvE the Gate of Hell breaks from it's own damage on normal mobs after ~5 seconds. GoH was never too useful in PvP to begin with, except when fighting a Soldier (since they don't have root-breaking abilities); well, now it's borderline useless. Similar rules apply to our stun (Fiery Torment), but its duration was short in the first place, and mainly used to interrupt enemy's ability or give you a chance to charge up your Greater Flames.
  • Let them Burn damage was reduced by ~50%, and although it ticks faster (every 2 seconds instead of 3), the damage being cut in half does not really make up for it. It is easier to "catch" more targets in LtB area for several ticks when PvPing though.
  • Greater Flames now give +150% damage to your Fires of Gehenna instead of +200%, although it gets a bigger bonus from +magic damage gear and buffs now. I'm not sure yet but it seems that with decent gear and our damage buffs GF FoG will hit for at least similar amount of damage as before.
Wow, this post turned out longer than I really planned. Of course, I probably left out some minor changes, and you can always read the whole patch notes on the official forum.

At any rate, with these changes I'll naturally have to respec, possibly several times till I find the perfect build for myself. You might recall my old post about my Demonologist build; I decided to drop Tome of Elrik for now, and invest the 8 points freed from the general Mage tree (I still need Purge from it!) into Conflagration. This was a pretty hard desicion since it reduced my dps, but the new feats are too appealing to miss. At the moment I'm using this build, but I'm seriously considering dropping Impish Horde - as much as I like the little buggers - leave only 1 point in Gates of Hell, and put the spare into Agonizing Fiery Torrent, or perhaps Blazing Fire for instant Hellfire Stream + Detonation combo. (Speaking of builds, that's a new feat calculator from that I'm linking to. They seem to be the first people to adapt to the feat changes in the 3.0 patch).

To sum up, I'd say this patch brought the class back to life for me. We're definitely stronger in 1 vs 1 PvP now (I know that's not the most important part of the game, but it's no fun being a free frag). However, there's little improvement in group or mass PvP, besides that nice Blistering Wounds debuff.

I'm having a blast with the new Detonation, but instead of more CC, I'd like to see more damage. All Demonologist skills and even the class description give you the impression that they're a damage-dealing class, but Funcom do not always seem to think that way.


Allan Anderson said...

Very interesting. I've never played a mage character very far along, so I don't know what it's like, but I expect it's frustrating to not be able to just open up and be the ultimate DPS when you're not being squished. I see a lot of people making Demonologist alts here and there; I wonder how they contribute to larger groups.

Andrew said...

The absorbing shield buff (Protection of Set for Demos) is nice, although that can be provided by any Mage character really. Everyone loves the Vile Ambrosia group buff if you're a Conflag Demo and it's boosted by Hell's Blood feat (gives a very nice amount to regens). Unholy hate improves group dps by 10% for a short time. Our AoE is one of the best in the game.

Demonologist damage isn't that bad... It's just that when other classes can deal the same amount of damage AND they have more HP, CC or healing, it feels that we don't have enough to make up for our "squishiness".

That's only my personal opinion though :)

Anonymous said...

At least you have a shield buff! Assassins don't, and they wear the same cloth as Demos :)

General philosophy for an assassin, if they haven't died by the time they get out of your stun, fear, and knockdown... run :)


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