Mirror WAR – SW v. SH
We hear it all the time – ‘my mirror is better than my class’ or ‘that realm has all the better classes’. Players constantly cry for balance with the assumption that balance does not exist. Does it? Are the mirrors truly imbalanced? A while ago I tried to probe my readers’ minds on the issue of class balance, but with such a general question the response was meager. Mayhaps people are shy talking about other classes or do not want to risk saying something that someone else will ridicule, so let me set up the stage for you. Instead of pandering to bias thoughts, I’ve gone a step further and actually done some research into the matter and would like to do an analysis of each mirror to see how they really match up. Maybe if I address each mirror individually and ruffle some feathers I can stir a directed discussion – your responses will be taken into account for my upcoming project =)
*All values for this project are taken from the PTS RR100 Templates. Core ability values were recorded without mastery points in the respective tree. Mastery-tree ability values were recorded at the level the ability was acquired (so if an ability is available at 5 mastery points, I used the tool-tip value from when 5 points were invested into that tree since you cannot use the ability at 0-4 mastery points)
I begin my project today by looking at the class I am most familiar with, the Shadow Warrior, and its archetypal mirror, the Squig Herder. I recognize that the SW’s mechanical mirror is the Marauder, but for all intents and purposes the SH is its mirror.
The Shadow Warrior (SW) and Squig Herder (SH) are two range classes that deal primarily physical damage. Their mastery trees are broken down into a general combat style of long range for Scout/Big Shootin’ (100 ft.), medium range for Skirmish/Quick Shootin’ (65 ft.), and short range for Assault/Stabbin’ (5 ft.).
- The SW has three stances – Scout, Assault, Skirmish – each coinciding with the tree of the same name. Scout offers additional Ballistics Skill and a 10% range bonus; Assault offers additional Weapon Skill and 100% armor bonus; Skirmish offers additional Toughness and a 5% critical hit bonus plus the ability to auto-attack while moving. While each stance is a buff, it is also a restriction – abilities from each tree require a particular stance making it so that if you are in stance ‘x’ you cannot use some abilities from trees ‘y’ and ‘z’. This limits what a SW can do in any given stance.
- The SH has a comparable system with stances but without the statistical bonuses and restrictions. The Horned Squig which deals melee damage, increase the SH’s range by 10%; the Gas Squig which deals aoe range damage increases the SH’s armor by 100%; the Spike Squig which deals range damage increases the SH’s critical hit chance by 5%. One can link each pet to a tree for the sake of argument. The SH can benefit from 100% armor bonus while using all of its abilities, all of its ranged abilities can benefit from a 10% range increase or 5% range crit.
- The difference in the SW stances and the SH pet bonuses is immediately apparent. First of all the SH has all their abilities available at any given time, the SW does not – of the 15 core abilities a SW can use 9 at any given time (for the math challenged that’s 3/5). The first mastery ability in each tree does not require a stance, but the subsequent 2 mastery abilities are limited to only that tree. So, the SH has a more versatile approach to combat. Secondly, the bonus a SW receives from his stance only affects the 9 abilities available at his disposal (so for example a SW’s Acid Arrow can never benefit from the 5% crit bonus from Skirmish stance, or Eye Shot can never benefit from the 10% range bonus of Scout Stance).
- The SW and SH each receive three core abilities at ranks 8, 10, and 20. In general ranks 7/8, 10, and 20 offer classes their ‘class defining’ abilities (tanks get Taunt at 7, Guard at 10, Challenge at 20; MDPS get Charge/Stealth at 10; etc. Abilities that are common across the archetype such as roots and taunts/detaunts,etc. I wont mention.
- The SW receives Hunter’s Fervor at Rank 8 which increases their groups AP regen by 20% for 10 seconds with a 60s CD. At Rank 10 Vengeance of Nagarythe (VoN) which increases their damage by 20% for 15 seconds and grants some of their abilities bonuses; it has a 2m CD. At Rank 20 Steady Aim which for 6s increases an ability’s chance to critically hit by 50%, but increases their build time by 1.5s and has a 30s CD.
- The SH receives Farty Squig at Rank 8 which causes their squig to explode dealing 419 damage to all enemies within 30 feet, with a 20s CD. At Rank 10 Squig Frenzy which increases their pet’s auto-attack damage by 50% for 30s and has a 3m CD. At Rank 20 Tastes Like Chicken which allows the SH to consume their pet and regain 496 health instantly, this has a 1m CD.
- The SW’s class unique Morale 1 is Lileath’s Forgiveness which removes all hexes, curses, ailments, and cripples and instantly grants them 250 Action Points – a truly potent morale. Morale 2 is Outrider Patrol which deals 1360 damage to all enemies in a 20ft GTAoE up to 100 feet away. Morale 3 is Instill Fear which also deals 1360 damage and staggers all enemies within 30 feet for 9 seconds.
- The SH’s clas unique Morale 1 is Soothin’ Mushroom Wrap which increases their group’s AP regen by 50% for 10 seconds (akin to the SW’s core ability Hunter’s Fervor). Morale 2 is Squig Goo which deals 1020 damage over 9 seconds to all enemies within 30 feet and snares them by 60%. Morale 3 Sqiug Beast which triples their pets damage for 15 seconds.
- Shadow Warrior
- Blood-Soaked War – 321 HP on killing blow
- Bulls Eye – +20% crit on crit, but +10% incoming crit (Marauder shares this Tactic – Feeding on Fear)
- Distracting Rebounds – Distracting Shot (Detaunt) is now a 20ft AoE
- Instinctive Aim – Reduces Steady Aim’s CD by 20s
- Leading Shots – On crit, your groups chance to critically hit is increased by 15%, doesn’t affect you.
- Replenishing Strikes – On crit you regain 40AP, cannot proc more than once/3s. (Marauder shares this Tactic – Subvert Strength)
- Smoldering Arrows – Increases Flame Arrow’s DoT to 756
- Wrist Slash – Grim Slash reduces your target’s weapon skill by 120 and toughness by 80 and increases yours by the same amount
- Squig Herder
- All by Meself – You deal 25% more damage without your pet (White Lion share this tactic – Loner)
- Da Smell Don’t Bother Me – Regain 136HP every 5s while in Squig Armor
- He’s a Biggun’ – Your pet receives 184 Strength/Toughness
- I Got Lots – No CDs on pets
- Pick On Yer Own Size – On defending an attack your crit is increased 30% for 10s
- Sharp Toofs – Get Em’s damage for your pet is increased to 419 and costs 15 AP less
- Sharpened Arrows – Exploding Arrow now deals 548 damage and 615/9s
- Strength in Numbers – Anytime your group-mates hit an enemy you have a 25% chance to get 100 morale points over 3 seconds
- For the mastery tree’s I’m not going to list every ability and tactic because that would simply be too long.
- The Horned Squig paired with Big Shootin’ has a medium range knockback (which currently does not give immunity timers) and a DoT.
- All SW/SH abilities in the ‘long range’ trees, both core and mastery, are identical with variations in tool-tip value. In general the SW’s scout tree has higher tool tip values for all their attacks.
- The SW’s Flame Arrow is an elemental burst + DoT with a 330 burst and 471/9s DoT. The SH’s Explodin Arrer is the mirror with a 488 burst and 294/9s DoT.
- The SW’s Throat Shot (silence) is an ailment and can be cleansed. The SH’s Choking Arrer is a Cripple and cannot be cleansed.
- The SHs Exploding Arrer and Shrapnel Arrer both have a 100 foot range; the SW’s mirrored abilities Flame Arrow and Glass arrow both have 80 foot range.
- The SH’s Poison Arrer is one of two Big Shootin’ ability with a higher Tool-Tip damage value than its mirror, Festering Arrow. Both deal corporeal damage, but with a tactic Festering Arrow can bypass all of the enemy’s resistances.
- The other ability which has a higher Tool-Tip value is the Rank13 ability Finish ‘Em for the SH which deals 1643 damage, while the SW’s Fell of the Weak deals 1628 damage. However, Fell of the Weak is an Instant Cast, while Finish ‘Em is a 2s Cast.
- Tactically speaking the Rank 3 and 11 tactics are the same for both. At Rank 7 the SH gets I Feelz Yer Pain which grants them 50AP when they critically hit with a Big Shootin’ ability, while the SW gets Enchanted Arrows which allows Festering Arrow and Flame Arrow to bypass resistances.
- While players cite that the Festering Arrow can bypass resistances, it needs a tactic to do so. Also the SH with a Spiked Squig can attain a higher crit rate for Big Shootin’ paired with I Feelz your Pain leading to a more AP manageable tree.
- As for Morales – the SW gets Rain of Steel which deals 248 damage/s for 10s to a 20ft GTAoE- arguably something a hot can heal through, in fact it is not better than the core morale 4 of Hail of Doom. The SH on the other hand gets Lots of Shootin which deals an instant 2720 damage to a 20ft GTAoE. The clear winner in the M4 race is the SH.
- The SH has an additional 5 abilities, one a buff which is required to access the other 4 abilities – Squig Armor and the abilities a SH can use inside his Squig Armor. While in Assault Stance a SW’s Ballistics Skill, Range Crit, and Range power from their items convert over to Strength, Melee Power/Crit, thus affecting all 8 of their melee abilities. The SH has the same buff but only while in Squig Armor which can affect 6 abilities, the remaining 6 abilities are not affected by this stat-conversion. The Squig Armor should in and of itself be its own mastery tree considering the SH has 10 abilities and two passive pet abilities modified by its Stabbin’ Tree, while the SW (and most other classes) has only 5 abilities modified by Assault.
- In general all SW abilities in Assault have higher Tool-Tip values than the SH’s Stabbin’ tree abilities. Only four abilities are shared for this comparison. The abilities granted while in Squig Armor are not shared with any other class.
- The SW’s Opportunistic Strike is a 4s Disarm classified as an ailment with a 30s CD. The SH’s Drop That!! is also a 4s Disarm which requires their pet to do it (thus in effect giving it a 100 foot range) classified as a Cripple (thus it cannot be cleansed) and it has a 20s CD.
- The SW’s Counterstrike which is an interrupt has a 20s CD; the SH’s Don’t Hit Me! is also an interrupt with a 10s CD
- The SW’s 5th unshared core ability is Brutal Assault which is a positional attack with a 5s CD – it can be used from any position with VoN and can bypass armor with a tactic; other melee classes have similar positional abilities without cooldowns and with greater potency. The SH has Git Em! which is an attack by both the SH and the pet which is mirrored with the White Lion’s ‘Coordinated Strike’
- In Squig Armor the SH gains Strength, Toughness, and Wounds (+93 at RR100) in addition to the statistical conversation that is base, making the abilities in this form more potent.
- In Squig Armor the SH has a damaging ability which reduces threat, a 2s Knock Down, a 1047/9s DoT and 40% snare, and a 30ft Very Long Range AoE Knockback (longest in the game I believe).
- The SW’s mastery abilities are a 3s channeled attack which can deal more damage if the target is casting something, an AoE attack with a 10s CD, and a 3s Knock Down. The SH has a 240 Corp AoE damaging ability while in Squig Armor, a pet ability which increase the Cool-Downs by 5s of all enemies within 30ft of the pet, and another Squig Armor ability which is a 3s Channeled 30ft AoE damage, which again is classified as a cripple.
- At Rank 3 the SW can get a tactic for Brutal Assault to bypass all armor, while the SH can get a tactic to have a 25% chance that his pet will take 50% of his damage (a quasi-guard). Both Rank 7 and 11 tactics are the same.
- Both M4s deal the same damage with the same effects.
- While the SH’s melee attacks are weaker due to not benefiting from the statistic conversion (since that only happens in Squig Armor), their Squig Armor attacks compensate for this greatly.
- The Spiked Squig paired with this tree can reduce their target’s chance to critically hit by 10% for 10 seconds.
- Almost all abilities in these trees are identical with one exception in the mastery trees. The SW again has higher Tool-Tip values.
- The SW’s Broadhead Arrow deals 2005 damage/15s = 133dmg/s; the SHs Yer Bleedin deals 1835 damage/15s = 122dmg/s. Both abilities are huge tool-tip value abilities spread over a long time, rendering them rather weak DoTs. As physical damaging DoTs they are further weakened. The BW/Sorc on the other hand have more potent DoTs in terms of dmg/s and are magical damage, thus further strengthening them.
- The SW’s Takedown which is its 40% snare has a 15s CD, while the SH’s Stop Runnin has a 20s CD
- The SW’s Eye Shot which is an initiative debuff over 20s is classified as an ailment, while the SH’s Not So Fast! only lasts 10s and is a cripple, thus it cannot be cleansed.
- Both classes have a incoming heal debuff – the SWs is available at Mastery Rank 5, while the SH’s is available at Mastery Rank 9. Both classes have a positional insta-cast – the SWs at MR 9, the SH’s at MR 13. The difference comes with the SH’s MR 5 which is Run Away, a 30ft AoE pet taunt which increases the SH’s run speed by 30% for 10 seconds. The SW does not have a comparable ability, instead at Mastery Rank 13 it receives Barrage which is an AoE range cone.
- Tactically the Mastery Trees are virtually identical (minor differences not worth fretting over)
- Both M4s are identical.
The Squig Herder has far more survivability built into it with an additional knock back on its pet, knock down and AoE knock-back in Squig armor, and an ability which increases its run speed by 30%. These paired with the racial tactics – one which has a 25% chance to detaunt targets and the other which increases run speed again – make for a very survivable class. Not to mention it can run around with a gas squig while using all abilities thus giving it double armor at all times. The SW on the other hand does not have all these survival tools at its disposal, once an enemy is within melee range and snares the SW, their best line of defense is assault stance in which they have limited access to their abilities. The SW’s morale 1 is among the strongest Morale 1’s in Warhammer and wins the match; the SH’s morale 2 with a 60% snare wins and adds further to the SH’s survivability, though I question how many slot this over Unshakable Focus; the SW’s morale 3 is the SW’s most defensive tool and wins against the SH’s morale 3. The difference in terms of survivability is vast with the Squig Herder having a clear edge.
In terms of core tactics the SH has many that focus on the pet (I cannot see a reason to run All By Meself given the bonuses the pets grant). The biggest edge I can see the SH having given the recent renown changes is Pick On Yer Own Size giving the SH a 30% crit bonus (without repercussions) on defense which is easier ever now with the +18% dodge/disrupt. Much of the SH’s other tactics I find too situational to be of universal use. The SW’s crit bonus tactic (Bull’s Eye) does not compare to Pick On Yer Own Size – the bonus it grants is often not worth the repercussion of a 10% higher chance to be crit at all times (particularly now with DF/WF sets giving certain classes the ability to run at 50%+ crit). One of the SWs strongest tactics is Replenishing Strikes which gives the SW and edge AP-wise over the SH if its rate of fire is high, but a Aimin’ Quickly+I Feelz Yer Pain Plinking SH will probably win against a No Quarter+Replenishing Strikes SW. Grim Slash is a fantastic tactic for melee SWs and incredibly under-valued. Leading Shots is a great tactic in terms of group utility which trumps any tactic a SH can try to slot for group utility, but finding a spot on the tactics bar for a tactic which does not benefit you is always difficult. As the mastery tactics have become more and more mirrored and equalized the true struggle in in tactics lays with the core tactics, and in core tactics the SW wins.
In terms of damage the difference also exists to a great extent. While much of the Shadow Warrior’s Tool-Tip values are higher, one has to take into account the damage the Squig Pet is dealing which pushes the Squig Herder’s damage beyond that of the Shadow Warrior. The Squig Herder has a more versatile approach to their abilities which the Shadow Warrior does not due to stance limitations. This coupled with the fact that all of the SH’s range abilities can benefit from a 5% crit or 10% range increase gives the Squig Herder a further edge. So I do not believe that the SH’s lower tool-tip values merit an argument of the SW being stronger because in the end the SH is more versatile and has a pet to add damage.