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Ice Necromancer Cavalry and the Issues with Spellcaster lean

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10/16/2021 17:16:55   

For those of you who are unaware, Ice necromancer cavalry receives two forms of “elecomp”, or elemental compensation. This is damage to compensate for being forced to use a skill or a spell attached to an item that defends against either that same element or an aligned one e.g. a fire skill in a fire armour. Using this skill/spell effectively would normally entail either using it against an enemy resistant to that element, or using an inappropriate armour for that fight. In both cases, damage compensation is warranted for the poor elemental affinity.

For ice necro, the first of these sources was in-built compensation for using an ice element spell in an ice armour. This is commonplace and has been included in balance standards for skills/spells attached to armours/shields for years. The second source is from the Spellcaster Lean. The armour deals *0.8 damage on regular weapon attacks and takes *1.25 on damage received from enemy monsters. However, the staff have unofficially confirmed that the Ice Necromancer Cavalry armour has been nerfed because it was seen to be getting double elecomp for its built-in ice spell, which was deemed as unintended. Instead, it now only receives the damage multiplier from the Spellcaster Lean.

Once again, this change raises the many problems affiliated with the Spellcaster Lean. It’s important to note that this armour did not receive double elecomp. It received singular elecomp and then extra damage sourced from the Spellcaster Lean. You pay for this latter boost via the aforementioned modifications to damage intake/output. In practice, Spellcaster Lean has never been calculated properly, and instead just uses FO elecomp values instead.

As I have mentioned in the past, this method of calculating Spellcaster Lean already causes problems. It faces the same situation as standard elecomp, fighting either a resistant enemy or using an inappropriate armour. This handicap does not receive compensation, making the trade-off grossly inefficient. This is considerably worsened by this most recent change and has a number of dangerous implications:

i). Any skills/spells benefitting from Spellcaster Lean cannot receive elecomp, making them strictly inferior to their peers. Other skills e.g. Basketbreath from TorontoSaurus Rex Rider receive elecomp without also dealing with the downsides of Spellcaster Lean. I appreciate that the boost doesn't just apply to spells attached to the armor itself, but in a world in which FO players are looking for the strongest nuke, this is still going to cause problems. In addition, I would also argue that this is insufficient to compensate for the lean's downsides.

ii). Following this logic through, it disincentivises mages to use MP. We already have a major issue with build identity, with mages often preferring to use skills above spells due to their versatility. A lot of these issues will have to wait until a stat update to be fixed, but this new precedent will invariably make the problem a lot harder to deal with. It’s only going to make the gap wider.

iii). On a broader note, how far does this new precedent reach, and where do we draw the line? Which items will be able to receive elecomp? For example, bloodmages receive a +50% damage boost. This is lower than the elecomp from Ice necromancer Cavalry, it still represents a considerable chunk of additional damage.

With this in mind, I’d like to propose a change to Spellcaster Lean agreed upon by both @gavers and myself. This fix is centred around the premise of an omni-elemental boost:

Proposed Fix

1 standard battle lasts for 10 turns. During this time, you are expected to deal 2 turns of spell damage, plus 8 turns of regular weapon damage (which is 75% melee for mages). During all of these turns, you are expected to take *1.25 damage. Our aim is to find the damage compensating for this gap between damage intake and output.


0.75 * 1.25 = 0.9375
0.75 * 0.8 = 0.6

We would expect a mage in an FO armour to be dealing 93.75% Melee with regular weapon attacks. Instead, they deal 60% melee. Spells traditionally do not get a damage bonus for being in an FO armour, and when they are tied to an armour they get additional elecomp to compensate. As such, I feel like I can exclude this bonus here. This represents an overall difference of 33.75% melee per turn. We can multiply this up by 8 turns, then divide it by 2, as we would expect to cast two spells within a 10 turn period:


0.3375 * 8 / 2 = 1.35

…or a 135% melee spell boost. This translates to a damage boost of 67.5%.

Additional comments from @gavers (see them here):


Since we assume 16 turns of dealing 0.8/1.25 of the expected damage, we have two ways to compensate for that:

1). Use the baseline 100% expected Melee (which is what it should do)

2. Use a more conservative compensation assuming a baseline of 75% Melee since this is Mage oriented. I don't mind even taking the conservative approach, since it's going to be a pretty big number regardless.

3). Let's calculate the total penalty:

You should be dealing 75*16*1.25% (Since the baseline is a FO lean) Melee per turn, or 1500% Melee.

However, you're dealing 75*16*0.8% which is 960% Melee.

That's 540% Melee saved up, split over 4 turns is 135% Melee, or a *1.675 "elecomp".

So, overall, using the conservative approach, spellcaster lean should be dealing *1.675 universal spell damage. This is an intentionally underpowered approach though, with the nerfed assumption serving as the "inefficiency cost". Using the regular balance approach the same way we'll be getting *1.9 universal spell damage. If we want this to be element specific, we'll have to tack regular elecomp on top of it, so we'll get either:




We appreciate that this sums to a large amount of damage (and, hence, why our attempt is as conservative as possible). I can personally see a number of ways to reduce this issue further:

i). Have this bonus be fuelled into cost rather than damage. One could apply a Regain mana status proportional to the mp input.

ii). You could reduce the disparity between intake and output. For example, suppose it were *0.8 output and *1 intake, the boost would be reduced to:


0.15*8/2 = 0.6

This is equivalent to 60% melee or a 30% universal spell damage boost.

Hopefully, I've managed to convince you that, although Spellcaster Lean is currently broken, there are a number of ways that it can be fixed.

< Message edited by CH4OT1C! -- 10/16/2021 17:55:01 >
AQ  Post #: 1
10/16/2021 17:44:00   
Lv 1000

You've pretty much stated my exact thoughts.

The current miscalculation of the Spellcaster Lean spell buff has led to an arbitrary nerf to an item (or items considering this will also affect the Necromancer Class) instead of addressing the core problem. Making the Spellcaster Lean multiplicative was a step in the right direction, however we now need to address the issues surrounding how the buff itself is calculated.
Post #: 2
10/16/2021 17:57:55   

As the post has been immaculately laid out, I don't have anything to add, except to say that I agree with everything that has been said above.

As we already have many ways to regain MP, I feel more inclined to go with Chaotic's second suggestion as to how to fix it.

< Message edited by Cupquake -- 10/16/2021 18:00:52 >
Post #: 3
10/17/2021 0:31:31   
Dr Disrespect

As Lv 1000 stated before me, the spellcaster lean in its present form, apart from negatively affecting the Ice Necromancer Cavalry armor, will also be a sizeable detriment to the Necromancer class as well. Please consider fixing it.

< Message edited by Dr Disrespect -- 10/17/2021 5:17:37 >
Post #: 4
10/17/2021 0:44:29   
Primate Murder

Well-reasoned and well-written.

I can add nothing but my support to the proposal.
AQ DF  Post #: 5
10/17/2021 4:19:11   

Damage output in offensive armour (pure warrior (250 STR, 250 DEX, 250 LUCK), using a melee weapon that have 0 % special rate) for 1 turn
1 * 1.25 * 1.08 = 1.35 melee units

Damage output in offensive armour (pure mage (250 INT, 250 DEX, 250 LUCK), using a magic weapon that have 0 % special rate) for 1 turn
0.75 * 1.25 * 1.08 = 1.0125 melee units

Damage output in offensive armour (pure mage (250 INT, 250 DEX, 250 LUCK), using a magic weapon that have 0 % special rate and spend 2 turns casting standard spell) for 10 turns
1.0125 * 8 + 2 * 2 = 12.1 melee units

Damage output in defensive armour (pure mage (250 INT, 250 DEX, 250 LUCK), using a magic weapon that have 20 % special rate) for 1 turn
0.75 * [0.8 * 0.8 * 1 + 0.2 * 1.5] = 0.705 melee units

Damage output in spellcaster armour (pure mage, using a magic weapon that have 20 % special rate and spend 2 turns casting standard spell) for 10 turns
0.705 * 8 + 2 * 2 * y = 12.1 melee units

y is 1.615 .

y stands for extra damage boast for spell.

However using + 0.615 as extra damage boast for spell (spellcaster armour) is not good for balance, you would made bloodmage pointless.

Level 150 players (0 END) hp is 2958 .

Assume monster deal 148 hp damage to player per turn.

Effective hp cost for bloodmage (level 150)
148 * 0.45 + 348 = 414.6

Effective hp cost for spellcaster (level 150)
148 * 0.45 = 66.6

1 + (66.6 / 414.6) * 0.5 * 1.1 = 1.088 to 3 decimal places.

1.1 is compensation for poor weapon damage in spellcaster armour. 0.45 is 1.25 - 0.8 , which is the damage taken by players wearing offensive armour minus damage taken by players wearing defensive armour. 0.5 is 1.5 - 1, where 1.5 is the current spell damage boast for players wearing bloodmage.

Using + 0.088 as extra damage boast for spell (spellcaster armour) is good for balance.

Edit: I fixed the information that was a bit confusing.

< Message edited by ruleandrew -- 10/17/2021 18:27:32 >
AQ  Post #: 6
10/17/2021 4:41:53   

The maths says it all, really. I think something like this would be excellent, although maybe damage taken could be adjusted? Mages aren't really squishier than the average warrior, so if we ended up say, taking 1.3~ times the damage like some armours, it might make sense. That is, in terms of paying for this upfront damage.

But I'm not a mathmetician, maybe the damage taken and regular attack damage is already more than enough.
DF AQW  Post #: 7
10/17/2021 4:57:22   

@ruleandrew Could you maybe explain some of your numbers? I'm slightly concerned because in this type of balance formula, you wouldn't make the assumption that the weapon is no proc. To be honest, we wouldn't be making assumptions about the weapon at all - we'd just simplify it to a base 75% melee. It would also be helpful to see what the numbers in your defensive calculation stand for. I'd like to know what assumptions you are making.

To reemphasise one of my points above, we would expect some sort of diminishing return associated with this kind of specialisation. It's why we agreed to use more conservative figures to calculate the boost. However, I definitely think there are ways to further reduce the result and hopefully strike a healthy balance.
AQ  Post #: 8
10/17/2021 7:54:09   

to CH4OT1C!

I think about spellcaster armour more and realised that bloodmage must stay relevant.
AQ  Post #: 9
10/17/2021 9:17:58   
Lv 1000

This discussion is to address an issue with the discrepancies with how spellcaster lean is calculated and how it is arbitrarily handled in balance. It is not an attempt to balance every mage armor around bloodmages, nor should it be as this would be just as arbitrary as the current problem, if not more so (especially if you have a bias towards keeping them as the strongest mage armors in the game).
Post #: 10
10/17/2021 10:46:29   

@ruleandrew thank you for the clarification. There are a number of discrepancies associated with your proposed solution:

1). You are attempting to balance based on damage intake vs output. As explained in previous GBI posts associated with HP costs, these are two are very different things. Regarding output, 100% melee in HP is worth 1.5 MP and 1.125 SP. This means, as 653 MP at level 150 is worth 125% melee, 100% melee is worth:


653 / 1.5 / 1.25 = 348.26667

I.e. the amount paid by the updated bloodmage to deal an additional 100% melee (+50% damage on spells). However, intake assumes a Monster attack is worth both 5% of player HP at 0 END and 140% melee to account for the player turn formula. This means that 100% melee in this context would be worth:


2958 * 0.05 / 1.4 = 105.642

In other words, there's an obvious mismatch. You use both methods in the same formula, simultaneously undermining the update to bloodmage and creating a major inconsistency within your proposed solution.

ii). We then come to the crux of the problem. You utilise bloodmage's costs as a standard to try and balance spellcaster lean:


Effective hp cost for bloodmage (level 150)
148 * 0.45 + 348 = 414.6

Effective hp cost for spellcaster (level 150)
148 * 0.45 = 66.6

1 + (66.6 / 414.6) * 0.5 * 1.1 = 1.088 to 3 decimal places.

I'm unsure as to the reason, but you choose to multiply the efficiency increase by bloodmage cost with an additional equivalent gap. Aside from having no precedent, I can't find any sort of reason to justify doing this. Bloodmage isn't a standard armour, so you can't use it as a standard.

iii). We then add a *0.5 and *1.1 modifer to this value. I'm unsure as to why you add the 0.5 (I presume because it's a spell and so needs to be halved?) and then the 1.1, which a). should already be accounted for given the 0.45 gap utilised earlier and b). is an arbitrary value regardless.

To sum, I propose that your attempt to fix spellcaster lean using this formula is a butchered form of balance that artificially attempts to keep bloodmages at their top spot. The solution agreed upon by @gavers and myself is simple and provides clear labels for each of the modifiers used, as well as why they should be included. This is a perfect example of why it's important to always label your numbers, as there could well be clear problems with the formula unable to be scrutinised.

Edit: The 0.5 is also associated with bloodmage, further adding to problems 2 and 3

< Message edited by CH4OT1C! -- 10/17/2021 19:41:40 >
AQ  Post #: 11
10/17/2021 13:26:48   

What an interesting discussion! It seems true to me that if having a spell-caster lean means a built-in spell cannot receive elecomp, then the spellcaster lean is almost pointless. Yes, the spellcaster lean boosts spells of the armor's element (here ice) cast in the armor other than the built-in spell, but I would contend that the vast majority of the time, a player casting an ice spell in an armor with an ice spellcaster lean and a built-in ice spell is going to use the built-in ice spell.

By the logic of the Ice Necromancer Cavalry nerf, weapon-based skills in FO armors should not receive elecomp, because that would result in a "double" boost from the FO lean and elecomp. Likewise, the bloodmage armor's built-in skills should lose their elecomp damage because its already receiving a boost from bloodmage's generic spell boosting flavor effect.

Chaotic and gaver's proposal to make spellcaster lean give an omni-elemental spellcasting boost like FO lean does seems like a reasonable solution, however the math pans out. This would bring parity between FO and spellcasting leans and help push the game in the direction of all builds being roughly equal. Honestly, I was surprised when I saw spellcaster leans boosted spell damage strongly but in only one element, since I was so used to FO leans boosting weapon damage in all elements.

< Message edited by GwenMay -- 10/17/2021 13:29:04 >
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 12
10/17/2021 20:09:33   
Legendary Ash

I had a proper Spellcaster lean balance discussion with IMR three years ago on AE's IRC prior to the existence of AE's Discord server and arrived at the same initial numbers of a *67.5% boost to spells that assumes 16 turns of weapon attacks and 4 turns of standard spells.

We considered making the balance assumptions around that the player should utilize mana regeneration to cast spells throughout the battle in order to lower the 67.5% boost that would otherwise been unbalanced if the player used the aforementioned strategy of mana regen to avoid using weapon attacks altogether.
I proposed the perfected mechanic of having the spell boost check the casted spell's efficiency to apply a modified boost that is deducted from a spell boost pool of 540% melee that accounts for the 20 turn model, this means that one can't break out of the assumption that the Mage's mana is based on 20 turn model and that mana regeneration's potential to abuse the spell boost has been removed.
Additionally I proposed that the Ballyhoo's Test Armours be used for a public test and they agreed, however it hasn't happened yet.

When Dragonlorn Keep's Darker Memories released, I thought that Warlic's form Spellcaster lean boost modified with a Mana shield was the test to draw out the community's response to it, but given that Necromancer class' Spellcaster lean had double Elecomp instead of the proposed idea, it implied they reverted on their decision.
AQ  Post #: 13
10/17/2021 23:22:28   
  In Media Res
 Early Winter Hot Chocolate of Order

So maybe it's just my brain being in weekend mode, but I love it? It's so much simpler than "do what the magic elecomp function says". I can def look into it, but I've got a lot on my plate atm so I might not get around to it for a few.
AQ  Post #: 14
10/18/2021 1:51:09   

Other fair alternative to fix spellcaster lean is to make spellcaster lean become offensive armour lean with one special effect.

- Special effect -
When player cast a spell, spell shall deal + 50 % damage. When player cast a spell, monster deal * X damage to player where X is unknown value. X in this content is greater than 1.5 . This special effect does not work with quick cast spell.

< Message edited by ruleandrew -- 10/18/2021 2:09:01 >
AQ  Post #: 15
10/18/2021 11:10:38   
Dreiko Shadrack

^That makes no sense, an armor that gives the same boost as bloodmages but takes more damage and is less versatile? Stop trying to make bloodmages stay at the top at the cost of literally everything and having zero clue how standards work.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 16
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