Solving the Double Monk Issue
A mercenary has come into quite a bit of question in the recent months. Though the monk has always been a staple of PvP formations since the beginning, it was rare to see him twice in a formation. With low vitality and low offensive powers, a second monk seemed almost silly to those hoping to achieve top tier in Free League matches.
But as magic damage increased, causing AOE builds to become the dominant force, the importance of Holy Guard started to grow, like lava oozing out of a dormant volcano. The monk's Holy Guard ability to nullify magic skills became near essential for victory. Yet, still then, a second monk was rare.
When PvP balancing deemed physical damage to be viable again, it seemed that the presence of the magic negater skill (Holy Guard) would normalize. Yet people had learned of the true power of Holy Guard during the days of magical skill dominance, and an increase in physical damage could not stop the ascent of the second monk; the double-monk volcano began trembling.
Soon after the return of physical damage, the epic Titan server was released. After almost each Titan tournament final was contested between two double monk formations, many players began clamoring for some change; everyone focused their eyes on the monk, exploding attention onto the monk like a phoenix speeding through an already fiery volcano.
All corny metaphors aside, the rise of the double monk became grossly irritating to many. As a result, the developers stated the need to fix the power of the double monk, to ensure a more diverse PvP experience. As if possessed by frustration, these already irritated players misconstrued the developer's statements. Taking their sentiment to the extreme, these players deemed the mere existence of the double monk a mistake, a flaw, and even an exploit.
A poll was released on the Atlantica International English website in June, asking users "opinion on the double-monk strategy". The results were as follows:
1st - Too powerful. Make monks c-class: 35.8% 2nd - It's fine as it is. 21.3% 3rd - Add more ways to counter monks. 19.6% 4th - Add more alternatives to monks. 14.7% 5th - Create a penalty for using Holy Guard 6.3% 6th - Nerf Awakening 2.4%
As of now, it seems the developers are working with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th place suggestions. A decrease in the heal of Holy Guard has already been implemented. While not a penalty, it's a start. Additionally, dispel and purification scrolls now also remove Holy Guard.
The developers are also taking steps to create monk-alternatives, some of which have already been implemented in Korea. New mercenaries are on their way, some of which have "monk-like" abilities. New guardian stones such as Awakening Stones are also used to mimic "monk-like" abilities.
Despite these efforts, many players are still gravely concerned. Many feel the changes are coming too slowly. Even more concerning, many feel that the currently proposed changes will have no effect, citing the continued prevalence of double-monk in the Korean version of Atlantica.
Today and in the future, I will outline a few suggestions, both good and bad, to balance the double-monk strategy for Free Leagues; I have either a) gathered these ideas by perusing various Atlantica forums or b) come up with the ideas on my own. I will even discuss the most popular idea, that is, making monks C-Class.
There are several questions to consider when debating the implementation of each suggestion:
- How will these proposed changes affect other mercenaries utilities?
- How will these proposed changes affect the current balance?
- How will these proposed changes affect Single Monk formations, a long-time accepted standard of PvP formations?
- Will the proposed changes affect balance too suddenly? How can the changes be implemented in a way that doesn't cause rapid shifts in PvP balance?
- Will the proposed changes affect formation variety in the long-term?
- Will the proposed changes create too much chaos and confusion?
So... let's begin!
DMF = Double Monk Formation SMF = Single Monk Formation
Category A: Dispel Scrolls & Guard Dispel
This category focuses on decreasing the relevance of Holy Guard by improving the ability to dispel Holy Guard. Currently, dispel scrolls cleanse the opposing team of all magical buffs and debuffs, including Holy Guard. Guard dispel removes Holy Guard, but it can only be targeted on the front row and is only learned by Melee and Staff mains.
1) Dispel Scrolls, Separate Usage Limit
Summary: Currently, scroll usage is restricted to two scrolls total per battle, no matter the scroll type. Use of dispel scrolls is currently uncommon. If dispel scrolls have a separate usage limit, players won't hesitate to use dispel scrolls since they will still be able to use other scrolls normally.
- Double and Triple Holy Guard becomes much easier to remove
- Players won't use up their scroll limit just to dispel HG
- PvP becomes more expensive and too scroll dependent
- Other, non-overpowered friendly buff skills become erased
- DMF players need several guns and bows to cancel scrolls
Suggestion Rating: C
2) Guard Dispel Scrolls, Separate Usage Limit
Summary: This is an improvement of the previous idea. Since other friendly skills are affected by regular Dispel Scrolls, Guard Dispel scrolls will only focus on removing Holy Guard. Double Monk builds rarely use other friendly skills besides HG and Awakening; however, most Single Monk builds do use other friendly skills, and increased Dispel Scroll use will inevitably affect Single Monk usage as well.
- See Suggestion 1
- See Suggestion
Suggestion Rating: B
3) Give all mains Guard Dispel, Improved Guard Dispel for Melee and Staff mains
Summary: Many players have suggested giving all mains Guard Dispel. Unfortunately, this only improves the issue for Ranged mains, who already have a relatively easier time dealing with Holy Guard due to their stunning capabilities. Therefore, to improve the issue for Melee and Staff mains who already have Guard Dispel, an improvement to Guard Dispel for Melee and Staff mains would also need to be implemented. An improved Guard Dispel could mean any of the following:
- Lower AP cost and Cooldown
- Target any row
- A separate skill that does Column Guard Dispel
- More skills for mains! :D
- Requires heavy amounts of testing and re-balancing to configure the right improvement
Suggestion Rating: B
4) Give every mercenary Single Target Guard Dispel
Summary: Instead of allowing only mains to have Guard Dispel, all mercenaries could have a single target guard dispel that acts as a basic action such as move, attack, item, etc. This would only increase strategic variety. While players would think more carefully about placing HG, opponents would have to carefully decide from which mercenaries to dispel HG, not wasting activations. Though strategy would increase, this may encourage DMF more than discourage.
- Intelligent AP management and transferring of activations between mercenaries becomes much more crucial
- Changes perhaps are too dramatic to core mechanics
Suggestion Rating: D
5) Instant Cast of (Guard) Dispel Scrolls
Summary: In PvE, Dispel scrolls are instantly cast, allowing the player to do damage immediately. In PvP, Dispel Scrolls are not instantly cast, which allows the opposing player the opportunity to cancel the scrolls. Since most top tier PvP builds have an ample amount of scroll cancellers, most players are highly unwilling to use a non-instant cast Dispel Scroll. A much higher Action Power cost for using an Instant Scroll could be a possible improvement to this suggestion.
- Holy Guard becomes dispelled with much increased frequency
- Any mercenary can effectively dispel Holy Guard
- Other, non-op friendly buff skills become near useless (if Dispel Scrolls)
- Potentially very hurtful to Single Monk formations
- Action Power cost to dispel Holy Guard is not as great as casting Holy Guard
Suggestion Rating: F for Dispel Scrolls, D for Guard Dispel Scrolls, B for high AP cost
What are your ratings for each suggestion? How can each of these suggestions be improved further? Discuss in the comment section below!