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Balancing Spell Velocity, Encouraging Use of Unpopular Spells

I was looking at the spell comparison chart today and noticed that it doesn't really make any sense to use Devil's Spit over Flaming meteor or Hail of Death over flaming meteor. For some reason these cheap spells that do less damage and can be blocked are slower than flaming meteor, which can't be blocked if you aim it around them instead of on them. I'd recommend the next patch encourage strategy by spell velocity, encouraging cheaper fast traveling spells that can be blocked vs splash or unblockable spells being completely better in every way than the original spells we start with in the game like Electric Fist or Devil's Spit, which are cool spells still to use every now and then. But if you are playing against bad-ass players in the 2200 rating, they are all using Flaming Meteor and none are using Devil's Spit...probably because it travels faster, does more damage, and can't be blocked if you aim it around the person since no one is using Heavenly Dome since it is cheaper to Chaos Leap or block with the base shield.

I also don't really understand why Flaming Phoenix costs so much mana when it can be blocked and travels so slow. I don't understand why Heavenly Dome costs so much mana when it doesn't reflect spells back. Since Chaos Leap was corrected to costing the same as the base teleport spell (and it does the same thing but less precision on where you want to go without having to aim--pro and con), why not do the same for the shield spells? Maybe someone can explain some strategy I'm missing, but I think the game would be better if multiple spell combinations were viable rather than feeling compelled to use Flaming Meteor to be competitive.


  • I'd be interested to hear NUX's response to many of these questions, but as someone who has been following, discussing, and contributing suggestions to the balancings over the past few months I can give my own take also:

    why spit? - the damage ratio is the highest of all the spells (except for lightning fist if you hit with at least 3 out of 5 bolts) and it can be curved to lead to a confusing and delayed trajectory which can cause the target to look up (might miss spikes being cast) or look away from you (might miss you charging lightning, etc) or can be timed so that two fists strike at the same time making defense with a shield impossible, forcing them to either use dome or tp away. It's also cheap. Cheap spells are good because doing -any- damage, even a small amount of damage, is very desirable and it usually requires forcing an opponent through a series of evasions in order to land an actual hit. Trying this with meteor is extremely expensive mana-wise.

    why hail? - it used to be really strong, but got nerfed, and just recently got buffed since it was completely useless after the initial nerf. imo it's still too inaccurate to be useful, but as noted above, cheap spells are super useful so it's a difficult balancing act. But yeah, afaik it's still not worth using but I haven't tried it since the last buff.

    why phoenix? - because you can shoot it around corners which can often be extremely unexpected if you don't catch the firing noise or if they're too far away for you to hear it. a close example is in aspis, shooting it up from the lowering platform (you think you have time to mess around since they're out of sight for now, but then wham phoenix comes screeching up and over and edge right at you as you fumble for the right defensive spell) a farther one is across the map and around the corner in temple or halls so that you only see it once it makes that turn around the corner and is right in front of you.

    Spell velocity and timing hasn't been adjusted very much... Though there has been a tweak or two to timing (spit i think? maybe meteor... can't remember) though too much flip flopping of stuff like this can make it confusing for players so I think I agree with their approach which seems to be wait until it's very clear a change is needed, then make a conservative change towards the optimal (better to undershoot and correct further than overshoot and correct backwards)

    The thing is, whenever one spell changes it affects the balance of everything in the game so things need to be done cautiously and incrementally with time between to get feedback about how the change affected things. Even small changes can have drastic effects on what's an optimal loadout. Then there are other non-spell changes like adjusting winning criteria (in the past it has been kill-only, did the most damage, and as it is now, have the most health) have a drastic affect on spells across the board that need to be delicately accounted for.

    Also, they have a small team so their bandwidth for making changes and QAing is limited. Reporting bugs and giving specific suggestions and explanations of your suggestions all help ease that load though and to accelerate getting to a balanced, optimal state of the game.

    Probably the best place for general discussions about strategy though is the discord channel: people are generally very friendly and willing to discuss or explain things.

    Anyways, all of the above is just my $0.02 hope it's helpful.
  • edited March 2017
    I think Meteor is a bit overused right now. As long as you keep your distance and stay off tiles where your opponent can hit you without you seeing them, you'll be fine.
    Spit is versatile and can be really useful, but it's harder to master than Meteor.
    I think Hail is decent right now since its initial cost of 10 has been lowered and Dome no longer heals, but its bad accuracy makes it unreliable. I like to use it to get my opponent to teleport or to distract them and create an opening for a bigger attack.
    Heavenly Dome is definitely weak right now. I'm guessing they removed its healing ability to avoid cheese (like shooting a bunch of Hail at a faraway tile, teleporting to it, and using Dome to heal yourself) since you can win on health now. But without its healing ability, Dome is kind of boring, and it's hard to justify using it over Shield or Teleport.

    I like the idea of tweaking spell velocity. They haven't done it yet, but I hope it will happen eventually.
  • I haven't had success with arcing Spit. I don't see the point most of the time nor can I find my ability to arc it enough helpful because it doesn't seek like phoenix. Even with phoenix, I'm not quite sure of the point of the charging animation and arc. It seems to do about the same thing. It's so easily blockable too.

    What I do find frustrating in all this is that I feel that playing on Daydream is a huge disadvantage to the Gear/Oculus users. The wand is always lagging, has to be recentered frequently, which makes you face the wrong way and not sure of your bearings. The remote has to be charged just right or it still makes little small circles making aiming a pain--in single player games who cares, but this costs time in pvp.

    The accuracy of aiming with the bluetooth remote on wifi is not the same as just looking like Gear/Oculus users can. They have the capacity to be a lot faster in reaction due to that. This is evident when fighting higher ranked players who can switch between spells so fast I cannot even react without taking some damage. I can't switch that fast on Daydream. The alignment and aiming is too difficult. It would be fair if everyone was using a Daydream, but having watched videos of Gear/Oculus players just look fire or look block, that's just not fair. On Daydream the wand is floating around the wrong way too often in the heat of battle: if you are using Chaos Leap to get away, you have to look around to figure out where you are, then recenter, then start taking actions. Or recenter, take actions. I didn't see any Gear/Oculus people recentering every teleport. Needing to block or teleport NOW but having to deal with the wand floating too far to your right and then pull the shield around again to realign--hard mode.

    I was playing at a friend's house recently--he was spectating while I was playing. He thought the other players were hacking/botting because they knew to block or get out of the way too fast or aim a spell at a location I hadn't teleported to yet as though there is a latency issue, which also needs to be addressed. Playing with phone data vs Wifi seems to make a difference in ping as well. I don't mean to cry about this, but it's clearly not fair from Daydream perspective due to too much wireless.
  • Hey @JalapenoTrellis

    Good games earlier! I hope i showed you some good uses for Spit. Curving it at funny angles around things in Temple is one of my favourite things to do with it. Also, after noticing you using Shield, a couple of quick Spits (one bent around the back and one straight at you) is also a fun tactic. Like jcwilk mentioned earlier, another fun combo is firing a Spit in a high arch so your opponent (who is timing their Shield or Dome), doesn't notice Spikes being cast at their feet.

    I see your frustrations with the Daydream/Gear VR comparison. I can switch to the Shield in an instant; which is vital when you have teleported a few feet away from your opponent. If I couldn't switch so quickly, this would be a deal breaker for me. I doubt I would even play that much. That's why the conversations we have here about increasing the cast times of spells or the speed at which you can teleport is always a hot topic and it divides us down the middle.

    I'm glad you are sticking with it despite your hardware limitations and I look forward to our next match.
  • edited March 2017
    It's a shame that the Daydream is so wonky. Maybe the devs could make aiming like we do (by sight) an option for you guys so it's more fair. As far as the recentering issue, I'm not sure there's anything they can do about that. I think that's a Daydream issue, because I've never experienced drift on Gear VR.

    As far as how fast some of us are, most of that speed is the result of practice. We've been accused of botting by other Gear VR users, so it's not just a matter of Daydream being slower. I think anyone can become very quick with a combination of practice, muscle memory, and good strategies.
  • I agree you can get better with practice. The problem is that some days I'll look quick on Daydream when everything is charged and fresh, and then as I play more, the drift is worse and worse until I log off due to frustration with it. I'm not sure if yalls phone heats up too, but I put foil in between my phone and the headset to help distribute heat away from the phone, in case that helps. I hear cold packs help too.

    Btw, I see you guys on the leaderboards. My rating goes up and I beat #2 on the Daydream ladder today but I'm still leaderboard 0. I'm not sure why I'm not part of the leaderboards and other Daydream users are? Do I have to log out of Google Play or what?
  • The foil probably makes it worse, it's just your phone heating up not the headset so any heat transfer between the headset and phone would be a good thing (since the headset will always be cooler) maybe the foil would act as a heat conduit though, not sure. You could probably improvise a big ugly heatsink by sticking foil onto the back of it and letting it hang off into the air but I'm not sure how conductive foil is...

    I just turn my ac way up but not everyone has ac. Less convenient approaches are using an ice pack, installing a fan onto the back of it to blast air onto it, or just trying to point a large fan at where you play.
  • I got a gel pack (holds heat or cool), but it makes me stretch the strap on the Daydream a lot because it's so thick.
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