Now that we have covered the changes, the next part looks into what actually has been impacted and what exactly do we have to look out for. This will also include strategies to cope with the modifications in combat mechanics.
For those who have yet to see the earlier post about the changes from the most recent update, do give it a read here before proceeding.
The New Meta?
Speaking in the context of raiding (since it’s the most common gameplay in DH5), the new ‘Meta‘, or what is currently considered good in the game, can be broken down in terms of Trap Rooms and Minions.
The variable dodge mechanism has made smaller trap rooms even more dangerous. Seashore Retreat and Guardhouse both are equally more problematic now, since minions are immediately situated right in front of you and there is little room to escape.
A well set-up Seashore, especially with its silence, makes short work out of most non-light geared raiders as it is much easier for minions to get in their attacks due to the short distances. Just fill it up with Ice Colossi, Mezzogians and Kringle and this makes this particular room a highly dangerous configuration that most would undoubtedly avoid.
With the nerf of Fire Cone, Nature aligned trap rooms (and correspondingly Nature minions) are much more resilient than ever. Nettle Grove and Forbidden Courtyard (which I’ll do a post soon), are trap rooms that innately deal ongoing damage to raiders (poison arrows; flower traps). This helps to quickly scrape away effective dodge, allowing minions to rush in for the kill.
There is actually quite a number of minions which have become much more powerful due to the reduction of dodge, so going through each and every one of them means a lot of ground to cover. However, I’ll state what makes them more powerful than before and list the ones which are much more significant in strength compared to others.
Speaking broadly, minions which possess abilities with multiple projectile hits, self-homing projectiles, breath and persistent zone attacks are much more dangerous than before. This is especially so if they are accompanied by stun/slow/knockdown/ freeze which can really get you into a pinch when these attacks are chained over and over again, reducing your dodge and HP as you haplessly watch as your character is on the ground.
Mezzogian – Multiple projectiles, Homing Projectiles, Periods of high defence
Warmage Sentinel – Homing Projectiles, periods of high defence
All Colossi – Multiple projectiles, Fixed invulnerability period, crowd control abilities
Mossback Dragon – highly damaging breath attack, high defence shield
Duregar Scorcher – constant ‘breath’ damage
Stormtooth Wolf – Multiple projectiles, Stun
Another set of minions would be the fast-moving, fast-hitting (Chaser) types. These will carve out your dodge much more quickly and need to be taken out equally quickly, especially if they are of a stronger element to you. Fortunately, these minions do not have extremely high HP and recognising their attack patterns would give you an easier time.
As per general observation, these usually have periods of invulnerability/ higher defence value during their attacks to keep them alive much longer. Thus, it’s best to attack them out of these timings.
Wicker Beast – hasted, knockdown, poison field
Ignicore – Multi-hit swipe attack, knockdown, armor shred
Dominator – Multi-hit whirlwind attack, Damage reflect, high explosive damage
Monkey – high dodge, long periods of invulnerability, stun projectile
On the flip side, certain monsters are easier with stagger removed.
A clear example would be Corvus as its favourite ‘ground rune‘ ability is no longer a problem to get out of, making them easier to chase around the field. Thus, the dreaded 5 Corvus setup becomes much less of a hassle, and some need to get replaced with other minions (eg. Assassins, Mezzogians) to be effective.
Nonetheless, their pushback, blind and flight-dash attacks still make them a hassle to deal with in the long run. The ‘Ground Rune‘ attack can also quickly take out one’s dodge value and thus, Corvus should be approached with equal caution as an Ignicore or Wicker Beast.
Strike Swift and Fast
While raiding has indeed become a little more tougher than before, certain strategies still hold true. The first is to quickly clear identified ‘weaker’ minions out from the map as fast as possible. Minions like Ignicore, Corvus, Wicker Beast can be taken out fairly quickly with the right elemental advantage. This is especially so if they are within striking range, to remove them as a threat throughout the raid…meaning less chances for your dodge to be scrapped away as the battle progresses.
And of course, support type minions should be a priority as well, despite them being still squishy.
On the contrary, putting minions which are more invulnerable at the front also poses a greater hazard to incoming raiders, especially for blind raiding in Guild Wars. Thankfully, this is a valid strategy now with SH v2.0 since all minions instantly ‘detect’ the raider and engage him/her.
For those who have Ice Stalagmites, rushing in and planting one of these in the middle of ‘weaker’ minions at the right moment, would quickly turn the tide of the battle. Mist of Death (I’ve heard) can be used to the same effect, but I’ve yet to obtain the skill.
However, that is admittedly a ‘lazy‘ strategy, and for those without and/or are still having issues with executing the first strategy, the next one I find is much more viable.
TL;DR: Strike fast to quickly take out minions with lower HP, to eliminate impending threats.
For those who follow this blog, ‘hit-and-run‘ has been mostly recommended throughout my posts, and I’ve found to be particularly useful in light of the changes in combat. The main principle alludes to guerrilla warfare, which can be broken down into three main steps: (A) to keep your distance out of enemy attacks; (B) recognise enemy attacks to know when to go in for the kill; (C) to use an obstacle to shield yourself from incoming projectiles when attacking the target.
For larger rooms (eg. Ruby Temple, Nightmare Pits), evasion can be achieved by running around the periphery of the compound, allowing your more powerful skills, and now dodge, to recharge before closing the distance again. Smaller trap rooms can be done as well, sticking closer to the walls instead.
Identifying periods of vulnerability or non-attack stances from the minions is key to when you can charge in for the kill. As described above, these moments are generally when minions pause right after an attack, and recognising how long an attack takes, or how it works, makes things easier. This, however, requires quite a bit of practice experience and raiding with five minions with a combination of five vastly different movesets isn’t as easy as it seems.
Furthermore, patience is the key and don’t rush in for the kill unnecessarily since this might result in loss of large amounts of HP or death. If it’s not the right time to attack or if your necessary skills have yet to cooldown, just revert to running from the other enemy attacks until you find the appropriate window to do so.
Lastly, obstacles provide good cover for incoming attacks and are littered everywhere in most rooms. This is especially so for smaller rooms, where attacking a target while being behind columns (Nettle Grove) or tables (Guardhouse) can offer some level of coverage from ranged projectiles fired in your direction. This helps to isolate yourself and your target from other enemies, essentially saving yourself the trouble of getting hit.
TL;DR: Run along and stick to the periphery of the room; Recognise minion attacks; Close in when it’s time to strike, using obstacles as cover
A new emphasis on other traits has become much more prevalent now.
Fortunately, traits like HP/Hit and Attack Speed are still relevant in combat, and should take priority in the selection of equipment.
With the revision of Trinkets, certain other traits can also be boosted (based on luck, or if you don’t mind constant re-crafting to overcome randomness). Some noticeable ones would be:
Damage enhancers like Bloodrage, Berserker, Brawler damage are now looked to for raising one’s damage by a ‘fixed’ amount. Raising these past their original fixed %s makes them much more effective at triggering (ie. Bloodrage, Brawler) or boosting their existing damage multiplier (ie. Berserker).
An example would be getting Bloodrage past the former highest possible value of 20%. Making it 25% or even higher essentially makes it viable in almost every raid, since it mathematically triggers once in every 3-4 monsters killed.
Critical Hit Chance/ Damage has also received much more limelight since damage is boosted by an amount according to the numerical %. Triggering critical hits is solely tied to the % of Crit Hit Chance property and this needs to be raised to sufficient levels as well (ie. >45%). However, it is to be noted that getting both up is admittedly not easy, unless you possess a whole array of legendary or WC-equivalent gears.
Although I did rank Run speed at the last on the traits list previously, its value now is much more significant since running from enemy attacks and physically evading them has to be done to keep one alive. However, getting it beyond 50% is not possible since there is a hard cap to prevent one from speeding off from attacks too quickly.
TL;DR: Other ‘good’ traits are still good (HP/Hit, Attack Speed); Damage enhancers, crit-related and Run speed are becoming more popular now.
Now that Fire Cone is no longer the current meta, I know a number of players have side-lined it for their non-fire set. But do remember that it does have some use for its dodge and run speed traits though.
Alternatives would include Cyclone or Malevolent Rush (MR), as these get you from one location to the next relatively unharmed/ unscathed. Cyclone deflects projectiles when activated while damaging nearby minions, while boosting your passive dodge and attacker fear chance. MR increases dodge by a flat 50% when activated and damages all minions/objects in your path of dash, while raising critical hit chance and damage.
In terms of shields, Smoke Veil can still be used, but is now the equivalent of a HP shield since getting hitting more ‘destroys’ the dodge. It ‘soaks‘ up damage to create a buffer from your dodge getting degraded, similar to how HP shields provide an imaginary HP bar which gets damaged from enemy attacks.
While I’ve yet to get any of the old HP shields at T6, their added active properties of HP/Hit (Healing Shield), stunning Lightning bolts (Lightning Shield) etc. do prove to have some defensive and offensive merits when activated.
Just to clarify, Frost Shield is a HP shield unlike what the description writes. This was tested before (with the now-removed guy who changes equipment at the end of ToE waypoints). On the other hand, Fire Shield is NOT a HP shield and is purely an offensive Area of Effect skill that follows you around during activation.
Lastly, for belts, Legendary skills are the way to go. Immortal Justice, Ice Stalagmites and the new Mist of Death are, for the lack of better description, legendary enough to withstand most nerfs.
For those without, other belt skills worth mentioning include Ray of Darkness (longest range, shoots through anything, HP/Hit), Haste (increases run, attack speeds) and Entangling Vines (persistent zone, bind and poison).
That’s about it for now. Hope these strategies work for you. 🙂
Happy Labour Day!