Hello everyone! I’m OnnMacMahal, and I’m here to start talking about the upcoming Warden class changes.
The warden is a challenging but rewarding class to play. Fundamentally structured around gambit skills which have almost no cooldown, gameplay is focused on maximizing the usage of Masteries, supported by a small number of standard skills. These allow you to rapidly build and execute a range of gambits, while adapting as proactively as possible to changing gameplay circumstances. We want to maintain the warden’s focus on proactive gameplay and the gambit system, but we also want to make sure that the class is able to compete in effectiveness with others in tanking and damage-dealing roles. We’re also presently planning on making the Assailment trait tree a non-specialization tree, but we’ll cover that in more detail below.
Current State Overview
So what headwinds are wardens currently facing?
Arguably the biggest issue facing wardens is a lack of defensive cooldown abilities for Determination wardens. Never Surrender is great, but only available infrequently. For the Free Peoples has a strong effect, but it has a lengthy ramp-up period, requiring you to use a lot of gambit builders which you otherwise want to avoid (in lieu of Mastery skills) as much as possible.
Gambit chains are an underutilized tool. Since gambits have essentially no cooldown, the class has multiple features designed to promote the use of many gambits, rather than leaning on your strongest gambit(s) indefinitely. Gambit chains are one of these mechanisms, and in theory they are especially helpful at promoting the use of short (2-length and 3-length) gambits. But the gambit chains which currently exist only affect a few specific gambit sequences, and three of those sequences are DoT-based gambits, which already promote multi-skill usage. Since a single gambit’s DoT can only be applied on a target once, you’re already likely to use as many different DoT-applying gambits as you can before the oldest ones start to expire. We’ll cover them in more detail below, but we want to make gambit chains a little more general, flexible, and meaningful in affecting your gambit sequences.
For damage-oriented wardens, Seize the Moment looms too large over all other class mechanics, and (along with stronger Marked and Diminished debuffs) makes the moderately debuff-oriented Assailment Specialization capable of dealing more raw DPS than the Recklessness specialization at high levels. While we appreciate that Seize the Moment speeds up warden gameplay, part of the inherent design of Mastery skills is that they are a resource limited by their cooldown times. Even without being locked behind Assailment, Seize the Moment removes so much of what limits a warden that it makes the class feel much more ‘feast or famine’ than it ought to. For these reasons, we intend to remove the Seize the Moment effect. Its spirit will be retained in the new skill ‘Rapid Techniques,’ as well as the trait ‘Strong Foundations’ which will make your gambit builders reduce the active cooldowns of their related Mastery skills.
Damage-dealing wardens also have a distinct lack of instant damage. While wardens are capable of applying many DoT effects to a single target, they suffer greatly in any situations with lower average mob health that don’t give you much time to stack multiple DoT effects.
While it isn’t a major issue facing wardens, the class also has a considerable amount of effect clutter. As much as possible, we’ll be trimming this down in the forthcoming changes. Skills like gambit builders don’t need small, stacking DoTs, and effects like the specialization bonuses (which give a 10% proc chance to apply minor buffs and debuffs) mostly end up cluttering the space below your vitals. Some of these effects will be consolidated into fewer, stronger buffs, while others will be removed outright.
You said Assailment is becoming a non-specialization trait tree?
Yes. Like the recent change undergone by the minstrel, the warden’s Assailment trait tree will become a passive, non-specialization trait tree. This means you won’t be able to choose Assailment as a primary specialization, but you’ll still be able to get plenty of bonus ranged damage, debuff effects, and utility out of the Assailment traits.
Why remove the ability to specialize in Assailment? The Assailment specialization doesn’t meaningfully impact your playstyle relative to specializing in the Recklessness tree, and the ‘warden at range’ identity doesn’t require a full specialization, since any warden can toggle the Assailment stance on. Most of what makes Assailment appealing right now are a few debuffs and effects which would actually benefit the Recklessness tree more if only they weren’t locked up in the Assailment specialization.
For those of you who prefer playing your warden as a ranged-damage class, you’ll still be able to do so. You’ll just choose Recklessness as your specialization, then prioritize ranged damage traits in the Recklessness tree.
Wardens specializing in Determination should be able to stand side by side with Guardians, Captains, Brawlers, and other main tanks with confidence. In addition to your defensive gambits, you should have a few normal tanking skills, bound by cooldowns rather than being gambits, which still interact with the gambit system. This should help you deal with brief moments of significant spike damage like other meta tanks do, but without fundamentally altering your skill flow.
Wardens specializing in Recklessness should still be versatile damage dealers with a wide range of gambits for dealing with different situations. In a pinch, offensive wardens should be able to line up some skills and gambits to deal meaningful instant damage during encounters. While damage-over-time effects should still be your most reliable and consistent damage, we don’t want wardens to feel completely shut out in encounters with a greater emphasis on groups of mobs that have smaller morale pools.
Gambit effects should be cleaned up a little bit across the board. This will be covered in greater detail later on, but the general principle is that there are a lot of different gambits, so no individual gambit needs to have more than one or two effects. This extends to gambit sequences as well as the heuristics of which gambit builders lead to which effects. While there will still be some outliers (looking at you, Dark Before the Dawn) players should be able to reasonably infer associations between gambit builder sequences and their outputs: like Spear gambits and instant damage, Shield gambits and defensive bonuses, or Fist gambits and dealing damage over time.
Finally, a note about wardens leveling up for the first time. We’re planning to reinstate the leveling paradigm for wardens in which you start off with access to only 2-length gambits, later unlocking 3-length, then 4-length, then 5-length gambits. This will have no impact on any warden already over level 50, but will hopefully help make learning the class a little more manageable for those stepping into it with little prior knowledge of the class or specific gambits.
Gambit Chains and Advanced Technique
Gambit Chains will be staying with the class, but they will become a little more flexible. Completing a gambit chain will require using a three-gambit sequence: a 2-length gambit, followed by a 3-length gambit, and then completed by subsequently using a 4- or 5-length gambit. After beginning a gambit chain with a 2-length gambit, the following gambits in the chain will gain improved damage, healing, and buff durations.
These gambits could be any of the gambits available to you, and they will no longer need to be part of a specific gambit sequence. That means you could use Persevere, followed by Maddening Strike, followed by Spear of Virtue. Or you could use War Cry, followed by Combination Strike, followed by Warden’s Triumph. In this last case, both Combination Strike and Warden’s Triumph would benefit from the bonuses of being part of a gambit chain, and Warden’s Triumph would also grant you one count of Advanced Technique.
The only exception to this rule will be potency gambits (Deft Strike, Defensive Strike, and Goad) which will not count as beginning a gambit chain.
Several new Warden skills will be ‘normal’ skills bound by cooldowns, rather than gambit skills requiring builders. These skills will have short, strong effects and moderate cooldown times. However, rather than being freely available at full strength, their potency will be driven by Advanced Technique. Each skill will require at least one Advanced Technique, consume all of your Advanced Technique when used, and will become stronger with each additional Advanced Technique consumed when the skill fires.
And how will you earn Advanced Technique? You’ll receive one count every time you complete a gambit chain, up to three maximum, until they are either consumed by a skill or you leave combat.
We hope this has been a helpful primer on some of our plans and goals for the upcoming warden changes. A few core mechanics will change, augmenting the inherent power and flexibility of the gambit system. We’re excited to share more information with you soon, including a closer look at specific changes and some actual gameplay.
Thanks for reading!