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Curses, Foiled Again!

July 17, 2012 - 1:53pm -- Sardu

For today’s walk down necromancer lane, we raise a mighty eyebrow at the Corruptions skill line. While this particular utility skill line has a lot of interesting potential for condition manipulation, it still seems to be missing some magical ingredients to make it truly work. The risk vs. reward ratio is also skewed a bit too far in favor of risk, but how could the playstyle it offers be made more rewarding?


Poor Snidely Whiplash. Not only does his official Wikipedia page list his occupation as Stereotypical Villain, but he’s also forever cursed by the implications of what that really means. You see, no matter how amazing one of his villainous schemes may sound on paper, by sheer dumb luck he’s perpetually bested time and again by Dudley Do-Right. It’s not that his concepts are inherently flawed, and even the execution is often rock solid. Yet, our beloved stereotypical villain never really achieves any of his goals regardless.

In a lot of ways, the Corruptions necro first talked about by Jon Peters during PAX and then later implemented in the beta weekend events has a lot in common with Mr. Whiplash. The concept behind Corruptions is solid, and in some ways the implementation is pretty sound. But in a variety of gameplay situations the concept begins to break down.

In the original interview with Jon during PAX, he described Corruptions thusly:

“We had this one kind of mishmash category of necro skills, and we worked them into what we called Corruptions, but we didn’t really know what that meant. We kind of figured out now that what they’re going to do is – and I just changed this Wednesday, so only two days ago – the Corruptions each give you a condition when you use them.

So Corruption is skills like Blood is Power where you’re bleeding someone, getting a bunch of life force, and bleeding yourself too. Another one is Poison Cloud which gives you weakness. So you have all of these things where all of the sudden things like Consume Conditions, as a heal, should now heal for more because you brought all of these Corruptions. Or we have skills like Well of Power which converts them into boons. That lets you do things like a Well of Power plus two Corruptions will give you two debuffs but turn them into buffs and use interactions like that.

It gives a lot more back-and-forth between skills, and it feels a lot more like a necromancer thing, especially since he transfers conditions. Like it also feels fun to put them on yourself and think about how am I going to use this, or how am I going to turn this on myself so that I can transfer it.”

On virtual paper, most of that sounds like a great conceptual way to transition a disparate collection of utility skills into one that has a shared theme and purpose. Let’s face it; Consume Conditions is an incredibly weak heal, and needs some means of insuring it will heal for a worthwhile amount to make it worthy of your heal slot. But sacrificing a portion of your health via Corruptions to make that happen isn’t really working out for obvious reasons.

After the switch, I also found myself really missing the pre-Corruptions version of Poison Cloud which had been somewhat of a staple in my PvE builds up to that point. After the switch to Corrosive Poison Cloud, one of the benefits of using the skill was instantly negated:

Corrosive Poison Cloud: Weaken yourself. The target area is enveloped in a noxious cloud that poisons foes and leaves them vulnerable.

  • Vulnerability – Lowers a target’s defense and stacks in intensity
  • Weakness – Causes attacks to result in a glancing blow 50% of the time and reduces endurance regen.

So you have to stop and ask yourself, what’s the point of inflicting vulnerability on enemies (lowering their defense) if you’re applying weakness to yourself (reducing your ability to cause damage) in the process? Mind you, the vulnerability lasts more than twice as long as the self-inflicted weakness, and you still have 3s of poison going on, but the skill is more like a poison puddle at this point compared to the once mighty Poison Cloud.

Similarly, I have a hard time justifying the use of skills like Blood is Power now, whereas I used to consider it a “must have” in many of my sPvP build concepts. If you’re not familiar with all of the Corruptions skills in their current form, along with Corrosive Poison Cloud, these include:

Blood is Power: Bleed yourself. Bleed your target and gain life force (20%).

Corrupt Boon: Poison yourself. Transform all boons on your foe into negative conditions.

Epidemic: Apply vulnerability on yourself. Spread conditions on a target foe to all nearby foes.

Aside from the self-infliction of conditions, the skills themselves are somewhat interesting, and could still have a potential place in various builds. For example, the life force gain from BiP is still one of our most viable means of rapidly generating life force. And while I agree that applying conditions to yourself does sound like something a necro might do, overall the skill line still feels like a bit too far of a stretch.

As for the potential healing increase, it really isn’t a worthy increase unless the bonus healing per condition on Consume Conditions is given a sizable boost. Here is how things currently break down:

  • At most, you can slot 3 Corruptions at a time, for a total of 3 guaranteed conditions to fuel Consume’s bonus healing.
  • At level 80, each condition present heals for an extra 724, or 2,172 total.
  • This could bring the total heal of Consume Conditions up to 7,412, or roughly enough to heal ¼ of your total health.
  • If you bring Blood is Power and Corrupt Boon as two of your Corruptions, the conditions they inflict on you will cause around 2,100 bleeding damage and 1,260 poison damage for a total of 3,360 if both conditions were present for their full duration.
  • In other words, you’re risking (3,360k damage) more than the potential reward (2,172 bonus healing) by running a Corruptions build that attempts to benefit from the bonus healing on Consume Conditions.

Thankfully, in our recent interview with Jon he did note that ArenaNet is aware of the need to rework Corruptions:

“These are some of the newest skills in the game. When we introduce new stuff, it tends to be either too strong or too weak because we don’t scrutinize the numbers on those skills until we let them get some repetitions in our meta. I think it is fair to say Corruptions are not good enough yet.”

It remains to be seen how Corruptions might be changed heading into BWE3, but the skill line does have a lot of potential. In particular, I can think of some interesting ways to hook it even deeper in the Curses trait line to help really solidify condition manipulation as a playstyle to be reckoned with.

As we watch the clock for the third and final weekend test to kick off this Friday, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Corruptions; both in their present form, and ways you would alter the skill line to make them something you’d consider a ‘must have’ in your builds for different parts of the game. So toss your virtual hat into the comments ring below!


Stormc
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I agree with the core of this article: While Corruptions seem to be a good concept - especially because its a trade-off and "forced skill combo" line of skills. But at the moment, what you get is too weak compared to the stuff you give up.

At best, I would combine something like Corrupt Boon in conjunction with Deathly Swarm as a Conditionmancer. As it stands, there exist easier combinations for Condition Necros which don't put yourself in a more unstable state.

innuendo (not verified)
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The key to making them good I think would be to ballance each corruption so that it was powerful enough to run by itself. You should have to run a corruption build to want to use any of the corruption skills.

I'm sure they'll ballance them.

aerdred
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You're probably correct on the front of the build being underpowered as it is/was, but it did seem to me you missed considering the angle of group synergy for things like applying vulnerability whilst self-applying weakness. It seems to me that it's a group build and the problem for it being viable isn't that you're countering your own ability to capitalise on the opportunities the corruptions present, but rather that the opportunities aren't good enough for the time and investment you put into the corruption use vs the benefit the others in your group can reap (when compared to other group-synergy options). This could potentially be very difficult to balance, but there're similar options for other classes, so there's precedence.

And, on the heal front, the synergy for the corruptions build is indeed probably lacking, as I can't see you playing a corruptions build in a manner to draw enough corruptions from the types that would target you (non-corruption dps because you're light armour, and melee builds in particular), but the heal itself (without the build) has potential for front-line fighting in pvp of either type. Can you imagine if you used that heal with a corruptions mesmer targetting you? ^.^

sylvinstar
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Corruptions haven't felt put together as well as MM and Wells builds since BWE1, but we will see if they've gotten them fixed up for BWE3.  I've messed around with corruptions builds, using different heals than consume, with the idea of offloading them via a Well or off-hand dagger.

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