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November 26th
Dev Blog: Tanking and Healing 
Posted in Idle Champions.


Hey everyone, Justin from the Codename Entertainment development team here. Today I'm going to talk about something that has been a long time in the making.

I. What's Going On?

It's finally time! The long awaited tanking and healing update -- or as the community has lovingly nicknamed it, the "Shielding, Healing, and Tanking (SH&T)" update -- is almost here. This update includes changes to tanks, healers, and monsters, and is designed to provide more interesting and varied choices for dealing with the inevitable mob of monsters that constantly attacks your formation.

    TL/DR:I've decided to put the TLDR at the top of this post, since it is quite extensive. When we began to talk about this patch in earnest, we've seen quite a bit of concern about this patch changing the game completely, but in reality the changes are focused primarily on the part of the game near "your wall" -- the point at which enemies start to reach your formation on a regular basis. Prior to that point in gameplay the effects you'll feel from this update will be fairly minor. At your wall, in general, Champions won't be able to take as many hits, but if properly spec'd and healed they can pull you a few extra areas further than if they weren't there. This update also includes improved offline gold, ultimate damage, and upgrades for a soft cap increase up to approximately e49 gold.

We are aiming to have this update released this week, though as always unforeseen issues have the potential to delay it, so don't bet the farm on it.

II. Champion Health & Monster Damage

One of the biggest issues this update addresses is the disparity between Champion health and monster damage, especially in higher areas. Prior to the update, Champion health very quickly outpaces monster damage, resulting in even the squishiest of Champions being able to tank high level enemies for far longer than they should.

After the update, Champion health has been completely rebalanced. It starts lower and no longer increases with each level-up. Tanking Champions gain health through upgrades, and non-tanking Champions can gain additional health through new formation abilities that tanking Champions get. Monster damage also only increases when the adventure story resets (in areas 51, 101, 151, etc.), meaning each time you go through you need more tanking and healing power (in addition to damage) to keep up. In general, the curves are a lot shallower, so Champions have less health but monsters do less damage as well. This has resulted in your DPS being the much more important metric for if you can or cannot go further.

    Minor tidbits:

  • Healing and shielding abilities have been adjusted to match the new lower health values.
  • Loot items that affected health, healing, or shields have also been adjusted.
  • Health potions (Potions of Heroism) have also been added back to the pool of possible chest contents.

III. Overwhelming Attacks

A key tenant of this update is that tanking Champions should be able to stand fast against a small number of enemies without any issues, assuming they're getting some healing, but against overwhelming force you'll need some hefty tanks and healing. A new mechanic, "Overwhelming Attacks," causes Champions to take more damage when they begin to be overwhelmed by enemies. For most Champions, they can handle up to 15 enemies without any issue, but some tankier Champions have a higher break-point.

IV. Offline Gold & Party/Ultimate Damage

We've updated two of our primary algorithms: Party Damage and Offline Gold.

For Party Damage, the damage number displayed in the top-left corner of the game has been updated to take more effects into account, including things like Barrowin Hammers, Minsc's Favored Enemies, Champions with cleave and AOE attacks, and so on. This has resulted in a more accurate representation of party damage, which has translated into an increase in Ultimate Attack damage across the board, since Ultimate damage is based on party damage. The days when your base attacks do more damage than ultimate abilities are (hopefully) in the past.

The other change is to Offline Gold. The new algorithm also accounts for all of the same things the party damage does, resulting in a more accurate gold per second estimation. This has resulted in increased gold from offline time, bounty contracts, silver chests, and distractions. We will continue to monitor these numbers and make further tweaks as necessary.

    Other Minor Changes:

  • The enrage mechanic for bosses has been rebalanced so that damage ramps up more slowly.
  • Abilities that power-up based on the number of enemies attacking also increase based on enemy enrage stacks.
  • The game now automatically buys non purchased upgrades on load. This fixes a couple of edge cases with the Gamepad UI.
  • Speaking of which, the Gamepad UI will be updated with new graphics and tweaks in this update.
  • We've rebalanced the buffing multiplier curve and applied the new curve to all the tanking and healing Champions affected by this update. The curve will be applied to everyone else over time (the largest impact will come with next year's major balance update). In general this will result in a softening of the buffing ability for Champions in earlier bench seats, and an increase in the buffing capability of Champions in later bench seats, however only a few Champions have been changed at this point.
  • We've added new upgrades for all Champions up to approximately e49 gold.
  • We've made minor tweaks to some monsters and encounters to make them work better in a post tanking & healing update world.

V. Champion Updates

We've taken this opportunity to rebalance all tanks and healers currently in the game. This includes the Base Champions Celeste, Nayeli, Calliope, Tyril, and Arkhan, as well as the Event Champions Gromma, Barrowin, Evelyn, and Donaar. Some of these Champions have received only minor tweaks, while others (like Arkhan and Barrowin) have received more significant reworks. A summary of the changes are listed below. The full details will be included in the change log for this update.

Base Champion Updates

Celeste

Not much change to Celeste. We reworked her healing numbers to match the new tanking/healing curves and reduced the difference in healing/buffing between her two specializations so they can both be used depending on whether you need just a bit more damage or just a bit more healing (this brings her general design closer to more recent heroes, whose specializations have a smaller impact on their overall power).

Nayeli

We're pretty happy with how Nayeli works as a tank. We simply reworked her health to match the new tanking/healing curve and reduced the difference in buffing/tanking between her two specializations so they can both be used depending on whether you need Nayeli to buff a bit more or take a few more hits before dying (this brings her general design closer to more recent heroes, whose specializations have a smaller impact on their overall power). We also added a new tank-specific formation ability to Nayeli to help her protect the group against AOE damage in later areas.

Calliope

Calliope's shields are quite powerful at delaying the death of tanks, especially under the new tanking/healing curves. As such, when a Champion is shielded by Calliope there is now a 15 second cooldown before they can be affected by her shield again. Calliope's ultimate overrides this limitation, and the shields still last until they are broken. College of Lore, instead of increasing the amount of her shields, now decreases the new cooldown by 5 seconds to 10 seconds total, meaning you can shield more often. The difference in subsequent upgrades between College of Valor and College of Lore has been removed, so that the two specializations are simply a choice between more frequent shields or slightly higher Bardic Inspiration buffs (this brings her general design closer to more recent heroes, whose specializations have a smaller impact on their overall power). Calliope emerges as a decent death delayer, and one of the few healer-types who can protect the majority of the formation from incidental damage.

Tyril

Tyril's original Wild Shape design was based around creating big damage shields for himself with his ultimate, allowing him to survive much longer than he otherwise would have. This design has been refined in the rework. His ultimate attack now does AOE damage, and the shield it generates is a percentage of his max health times the number of enemies he hit, with bonuses for enemies killed. Time his ultimate correctly and he can create a shield that will allow him to tank for an extended period of time. We've of course adjusted his health increases to match the new tanking/healing curve, though he'll only gain tank-level health in Wild Shape spec. Tyril is essentially two completely different Champions, depending on the spec you pick, so we've thrown some love at his Moonbeam spec as well and changed the way Moonbeam scales based on adjacent Champions. Moonbeam also has more, larger upgrades, making Tyril more competitive with Barrowin in more situations. His Moonbeam spec heal has also been rebalanced to match the new tanking/healing curves. Finally, Tyril's new "Forces of Good" ability ramps up the damage of your "Good" Champions when he's under attack or the enemies are enraging.

Arkhan

We wanted to use this opportunity to completely redesign Arkhan, morphing him into the bad-ass group-leading force of nature that he is in his tabletop appearances, and always was intended to be in our game. To that end, we've redesigned him with the idea of a "Tank DPS" in mind. We've removed nearly all of his existing abilities ("First in Line", "Loyalty", "Chango Unchained", "Chango Restrained") and replaced them with new ones. With "Rage of the Dragonborn," Arkhan's damage ramps up drastically when more enemies are attacking him by changing his attack to hit more and more enemies -- for example, Flame Breath becomes his basic attack when 16 or more enemies are targeting him! Through his brand new specializations, Arkhan's damage is increased in ways that no other Champions' are. "Bulk Up" increases the effect of formation abilities that target him, and "Usurped Power" causes positional formation abilities that target Champions adjacent to Arkhan to *also* target him, regardless of their normal restrictions. A new formation ability called "Rising Anger" increases the damage of evil Champions when Arkhan is under attack (go go Krond!). Finally, we've adjusted Arkhan's gear to better suit his new build, including giving him his very own Gold Find loot item. We hope that with these changes, Arkhan could conceivably be used to build some very interesting formations.

Event Champion Updates

Gromma

We like the *idea* of Gromma, she just needed some tweaking to get her numbers right. With her tough Tortle shell, she's tanky no matter which spec you pick, so she can fulfill the role of front-line support if the adventure or variant calls for it. We've pumped up her Grandmotherly Love ability to the extreme, so if your DPS is on the young-end of the spectrum, she's definitely worth considering for a buffing slot in your formation. We've also looked at each of her specializations and made some tweaks to each, focusing on her Tanking, Support, and DPS ability for Circle of the Mountain, Arctic, and Swamp respectively. Her tanking kit has been redesigned, with a completely new "Spiked Shell" mechanic, as well as other new formation abilities for buffing the party's health and the damage of neutral Champions while Gromma is under attack. We also threw a new formation ability into her Circle of the Swamp spec so that she can benefit from a portion of her Grandmotherly Love ability.

Barrowin

Barrowin's reign of terror over other buffing Champions is finally over. It was good while it lasted, but if you live by the hammer, you die by the hammer, and the nerf hammer has brought Barrowin's buffing ability back in line with other Champions. Blessed Hammer has had the way hammers stack adjusted. Instead of stacking multiplicatively with each other, each additional hammer provides a flat multiplier to the blessing: 1x for 1 hammer, 3x for 2 hammers, 7x for 3 hammers, and 15x for 4 hammers. This still provides for a 230,000%+ buff with 4 hammers at max level and with decent gear, but it's a far cry from the game breaking 1e15% buffs that the ability was providing before. To make up for the nerf, Barrowin's attack speed has been slightly lowered, increasing your chance to get an extra hammer stack once in a while, but in general her ability to buff has been brought more in line with other Champions in her seat. With her increased survivability when she's in the tank line, Barrowin is an excellent healing choice for formations with multiple front-line slots and a cluttered 2nd column. Her ultimate has also been redesigned to give your formation a quick boost of power and survivability whenever you desire.

Evelyn

Evelyn didn't require much maintenance. She's intended to be squishier than Nayeli or the other buffer tanks, but with more buffing potential. We added health upgrades to keep her in line with the new health/healing curve, and adjusted her upgrades to improve the scaling of her Divine Prayer buff effects.

Donaar

Donaar was designed just prior to most of the tanking and healing update being laid out, so his changes are minimal. Mostly just tweaks to his healing values to bring him in line with the new health curve.

VI. What do YOU Think?

As always, we're excited to hear what you think of these changes. Feel free to jump onto the Idle Champions Subreddit, Steam forum, or the Idle Champions Discord channel and give us your feedback.

Additionally, both our Subreddit Community Q&A and Weekly Livestream will be focused on the Tanking & Healing Update this week, so we will hopefully be able to answer all your questions!
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