Hello, I'm Kevin "EdgeCase" Nolan, and I'd like to talk to you about three major combat changes coming in Update 18: the Avoidance swap, the Mastery revamp, and the Medium Armour Mitigation fix. This diary is going to have a lot of numbers and discussion of deep combat mechanics, so I'll bottom-line it for those of you who are less interested in the nitty-gritty details.
1. We've made some long-overdue adjustments to the way avoidances work in LOTRO. In general, you will get a lot more partial blocks, parries, and evades, and about half as many full blocks, parries, and evades.
2. Partial blocks, parries, and evades will mitigate much more damage.
3. On average, most players will take roughly the same amount of damage, despite this change.
4. In instances, it will be much more important to skillfully position yourself behind your enemies: enemies with high block, parry, and evade ratings will generally take fewer crits unless you're attacking from behind.
5. Most players will receive a small buff to damage from Mastery, and Mastery has a much higher cap at level 100 and higher.
6. Medium Armour wearers will be able to cap their mitigations for less rating than heavy armour wearers.
Without further ado, here are the combat changes coming in Update 18.
One of the things that's always bothered me about LOTRO is that I feel like my full and partial avoidance chances are the reverse of what I expect. In most games, the less likely "critical" event is better, and the more likely event is worse. In our avoidances, we have the reverse; a partial avoidance is less likely than a full avoidance. In addition, partial avoidances give such low mitigation that they aren't very useful, outside of granting a BPE event.
Internally, we've bounced around swapping this state of affairs a few times, but we've never really dug into it too deeply until now. One of the changes coming with Update 18 is this avoidance swap, making partial avoidances much more common than full avoidances, while simultaneously making partial avoidances more powerful. In addition, this involves a change to the rating curve used by both partial and full avoidances, making it much more worthwhile to stack your avoidance ratings higher.
For those of you who are less in tune with the deep mechanics and terminology of our game: our three Avoidances are Block, Parry, and Evade. They allow you to prevent or mitigate physical damage. Currently, increasing your Block, Parry, or Evade rating brings your chance to avoid an attack up to a cap of 25% for each avoidance. The same rating increases your chance to get a partial avoidance, which caps at a 10% chance and reduces your damage by up to 15%. When an attack comes in that can be Blocked, Parried, and Evaded, your chance to fully avoid the attack is equal to your Block chance plus Parry chance plus Evade chance. For example, a character with 20% block, 15% parry, and 10% evade has a 45% chance to fully avoid an attack. It works the same way for partial avoidances.
The specifics are complicated, but I'll bottom-line it for you: The new partial avoidance cap will be 35%, the new partial avoidance mitigation cap will be 60%, and the new full avoidance cap will be 13%. In addition, your partial avoidance mitigation will start at 10%, rather than 0% like it did before.
At lower levels of avoidance (under 7000), you'll get a lot more avoidances in general. At 7000 rating, your full avoidance chance will be about 12%, your partial avoidance chance will be about 15%, and your partial avoidance mitigation will be about 15%. Before this change, a similar rating would give you about 15% full avoidance chance, 5% partial avoidance chance, and 15% partial avoidance mitigation. Partial avoidances trigger any skills that require an avoidance, so you'll be able to use more of your block and parry response skills. Since partially avoided attacks can't be crits, this means that you'll take fewer crits than before as well.
The best part of this change is that it makes combat a lot less spiky. Before, you would generally either take the full damage of an attack, take 15% less damage, or take no damage. With this change, it's a lot less likely to take all or none of the damage, and a lot more likely to take ~20%-40% less damage.
This change applies to enemies as well. In T2 instance where all mobs have much more block, parry, and evade, it's more important than ever to make sure you position yourself properly to keep up your DPS. Attacks from the back ignore block and parry, which means that there will be a pretty minimal effect on the number of crits that you get as long as your stay behind your enemies.
This one is a bit simpler. We've spent several years with the Mastery cap at the same place: +200% damage. This has been good enough for a long time, because it's been pretty difficult to hit the Mastery cap until recently. As a result of the changes wrought by the Essence system and generally higher stats, it's now much easier to hit that +200% number. As a result, we've increased the Mastery cap to +400%.
In addition, we've changed the way Mastery is calculated. In the past, we have adjusted the mastery caps careful so that the conversion between rating and percent damage increase is nearly linear. Rather than add several extra new sections to this curve to keep it nearly linear, we've changed the Mastery curve to just be a straight line. This means that Mastery is calculated much more simply, which will produce a small improvement in game performance.
MEDIUM ARMOUR MITIGATION FIX
A long time ago, the way heavy armour mitigation is calculated was changed, so that it actually took less rating to cap out your mitigations as a heavy armour class than it did for a medium armour class. This is a bit of a weird situation, since heavy armour classes have higher mitigation caps and generally get more mitigations from their items, yet they were expected to need less rating than medium armour classes did.
With Update 18, this has been fixed: Now, medium armour classes require less mitigation rating than heavy armour classes do, but still more than light armour classes.
I hope that these changes give you more itemization options, and help keep LOTRO's combat fresh.
See you in game!