Passives that specifically reward having more actives?

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Passives that specifically reward having more actives?

Postby seth2 » Fri Jun 18, 2021 6:36 am

Hi there, this is something that came to mind as I was playing some Titan's Fist runs. I experimented with multiple builds and eventually found some success with a STR-based movement-attack build. High STR for damage and durability, bloodthirst to leverage healing from Aux Power's enhanced damage output, swiftness/mobility for a perfect combination of survivability and damage output, bloodlust for SP sustain, probably a build that a lot of people have done at some point, but I found it very suitable to the playstyle and so far has taken me deeper into the tower at a pretty quick pace (currently in front of Phoenix Sanctum with, funnily enough, 2 level 36 Thrones I found in an earlier sanctum).

However, something's also started to bother me about this playstyle. My character is running ghost pierce, 6 supporting passives, and the instant speed buff skill. My character has developed into just making one button as good as possible, and as a result I've found myself interacting far, far less with new demons and their offered abilities. If earlygame I was macguyver making the things I had work, now it's turned into a pretty binary experience of "does the demon either A) offer a better version of my button, or B) offer a better passive at improving my button than the ones I already have", which makes me care less about what I encounter as I dive. Granted I have other demons, and some do have a high ratio of active abilities, but those are specifically support demons: One has every buff I can find, rabblerouser, and panacea, the other has life transfer, compassion, panacea, regeneration, etc. I consider these the most important demons in my party (aside from the extremely powerful OOD thrones of course, because of their sheer strength). It occurs to me that although these demons have more active abilities, it's because their abilities are -also- all about making my one button better, either by keeping me alive and undebuffed or by boosting my damage/accuracy/etc. I can't help but wonder if for the rest of the game I will be killing all enemies with Ghost Pierce.

My point isn't to rant about movement-attack builds though, as I chose to build that way in the first place and clearly it's a known archetype that works as intended. When I started to see an issue is when I tried to do other builds, again physical damage as that's where I have existing familiarity. Once again I found myself gravitating toward one button: in this case an AoE like Cleave or Earth Break due to their relevance to 1vMultiple Titan Fist encounters. Bloodthirst, Bloodlust, and other passives are so good I simply find it difficult to justify taking other attacks, which don't benefit me unless I use them. An attack backed by a lot of passives is simply better than an attack backed by fewer, often even should it not be perfectly contextually appropriate. Even if in the AoE example I run out of SP and have to resort to basic attack, it does a relevant amount of damage, it costs no SP, it benefits of my physical passives with the additional benefit of +1 passive as it doesn't take a slot. Basic Attack might not be as good as Heavy Slash but Basic Attack+Parry is already starting to close that gap. In my opinion, when it comes to physical attackers and perhaps some categories of magic attackers, the opportunity cost of using a slot on additional attack skills just isn't worth it in most cases.

I think this is a shame, for physical especially, because there's so many various attacks in physical that become hard to use compared to just picking one + a ton of passives. Even if you're not building something specific, it's hard to justify against plain old HP gain (stone stance, parry, etc) when more attacks offer nothing more than sidegrades. For demons there's also the question of if they'll even use the attacks well. I do like passives, as they're what let you develop interesting synergy systems with characters, and a lot of them are already quite low impact. The thing is attack options are often even lower impact than 20% movespeed or 20% block against most attack elements. Essentially, it becomes an issue of why you'd pick a sidegrade over a strict upgrade.

With that in mind, how about some passives that directly incentivize having stuff other than passives, possibly even themed? Some rough examples:
Slash Expertise: If your last action was a slash attack, you have 10% defense for each slash skill you have.
Impact Expertise: Your impact attacks have 10% additional of their original chance to inflict status effects (including passive-granted chances) for each impact skill you have.
PIerce Expertise: Your pierce attacks deal 10% additional damage for each pierce skill you have.

This sort of mutual-exclusivity with other passives should mostly prevent it from becoming a strict powercreep of the existing passive pool and thus with the right values be pretty balance-unintrusive, but should significantly improve the viability of attack-diverse builds to help them compete as an option against single-button builds. Another nice thing about this sort of passive is it's very build-flexible, unlike passive-synergy chains which in my experience can become very rigid as they get more optimized, due to attacks themselves being sidegradey options you will have a lot of versatility in how you want to compose a set of say, 5 attack skills, one "expertise" skill and 2 other passives. There's potentially all sorts of stuff you can do with these build-contextual bonuses, but in this case I decided to just target-incentivize something I'd like to be more practical.
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Re: Passives that specifically reward having more actives?

Postby Ferret » Sat Jun 19, 2021 1:10 am

Hey seth, and welcome to the forum. :D

Movement attack based builds, as well as Titan's Fist in general, and physical builds in general, do both tend to lend themselves to "one button" approaches, for different reasons.

Regarding the first: There aren't a whole lot of movement attacks to choose from, and generally speaking you only need one of them, and using any non-movement attack generally is not worth it since it won't benefit from any movement-based passives. The main choice you end up making is whether or not to go with a purely physical movement attack (Spin Slash, Ghost Pierce) or a hybrid physical/magical one (Friction Burn, Ghost Shock.) If you want to experiment with a movement attack build that has more reason to use active abilities, you might consider trying one based on the hybrids: since they benefit from Magic, it opens up some new possibilities for useful active abilities, specifically in the areas of free actions (which won't interfere with your need to end your turn having used movement attacks) and healing (which while not movement abilities, can give you some versatility that is useful.)

As for Titan's Fist, that relic tends to lend itself to one button approaches simply because of the sheer power it provides to attacks. The benefits of versatility, options, and differences between attacks are somewhat lost when you have a high degree of raw power. This is more or less by design however: Titan's Fist is meant to be a bit simpler relic to play, somewhat equivalent to playing a "big humanoid" fighter in most roguelikes.

Finally, Physical attacks also tend to gravitate towards fewer active abilities because: immunities do not exist, resistances aren't as effective as they are as against magic types, vulnerabilities are rare, and most passives that benefit them are not picky about which Physical type is used (as opposed to magic passives, which often are specific to one element.) As a result of those factors, there is inherently less need for multiple physical attacks on a single character. That said, there are some cases where it is still useful. Most characters will benefit from a ranged attack or charge in addition to their "default" attack, as a simple example. This too is somewhat by design: one of the ways in which playing a physical character is meant to feel different from a magic user is that they will tend to focus on more passives and fewer actives.

None of this is to say your suggested abilities aren't something I might add anyway: I would not mind there being reason to take large numbers of physical attacks. :) There actually some abilities like those you describe already, on other ability types, so it certainly is within the realm of possibility. :D But, I more wanted to point out that it sounds like you're kind of playing the perfect storm of elements that would lead to a preference for a single attack ability.

I would encourage you to experiment with hybrid physical/magic attacks if you want to usefully incorporate more active abilities into your play style. Once you have decent Magic, you gain access to a lot of potential value from spells, many of which are even designed with these sorts of characters and builds in mind.

It may also be worth experimenting with some of the Cunning-based free actions, such as Whisper abilities. These can work even if your Cunning is iffy, and while it is true you could have passives that have a small chance to apply the same conditions, you may find it more useful to have a near certain chance to apply one on command, as opposed to having a mild chance to apply one on any attack. Finally, as you already found, some free action spells that don't care about stats at all (such as the Speed buff) can be useful enough to be worth giving up a passive for. There are others of these too that may be worth having, such as the one that gives Regen as free action.

I will also think about this more and see if I can come up with any physical actives that might emulate some of the mechanics of the aforementioned abilities. I can't promise they'll be exactly the same (part of the reason I allow melee range Magic free actions is because of the inherent conflict between melee range and high Magic, so I would be reluctant to just make a physical version of these based on Strength, for an example), but I will give it some thought.

Thank you for the thoughtful feedback, and I hope you're enjoying your time in the Tower. :D Cheers!
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Re: Passives that specifically reward having more actives?

Postby seth2 » Fri Jun 25, 2021 1:07 am

Thanks, although technically I've been here before. IIRC I even ascended once back when Turdak was near the end of the game and the tower was 15ish? floors, and relic abilities didn't exist. :P I'm just terrible at maintaining account passwords (both for forums and emails) and had to make a new one. And yeah, I more or less realize I created this situation myself, in fact I intentionally chose Titan's Fist to simplify the game as I got back into it and saw what's new (notably the relic upgrade system and what kind of possible progressions it had). In fact, Spin Slash Titan almost feels like a faithful rendition of classic roguelike melee where you main strategy is to kill fast with well-positioned normal attacks or run away faster, I certainly won't complain that the playstyle exists. :lol: It's more that with the amazing variety of abilities already in Demon, it makes me wonder about other possibilities as well.

Funnily enough, I don't actually have many dedicated movement-based passives anymore. My current skillset is: Ghost Pierce (I like it marginally better than spin slash because it tends to kite melee groups slightly and sometimes doubles as an escape mechanism for surrounds), Innocence, Swiftness, Mobility, Bloodthirst, Bloodlust, Celerity, and Leadership. I could take out Ghost Pierce and replace it with Massacre or Vorpal Cleave and it wouldn't be all that wasteful, moving twice as fast on your melee summoner is already insanely good to begin with (less important on demons), leadership interacts with movement-attacks in a way that if I understand correctly is kind of ridiculous (you spend 50% of a turn to give someone else 30% of a turn, meaning net turn cost is 20%? So if I and my throne at 199% speed are both attacking we'll each get up to 10 attacks by repeatedly quickening eachother in one game turn, in theory, but I don't know if that's how it actually works) and would diminish its value in a non-movement attack build, but is still a great passive in titan teams because the turns you're gaining a portion of are that much better. I could comfortably switch out even Ghost Pierce which is the theoretical core of my build, but it would hurt to lose any one of the passives for an attack, even if it's a very high quality one like Vorpal Cleave. This also affects team-building, as a hybrid attacker-healer would get compared against a spin slash death blender in terms of turn-efficiency and just tossing Shock Dart onto a high-magic utility unit simply doesn't make the cut anymore.

Indeed magical builds do have a lot more variability, not just because of elemental features/weaknesses but also because of very high ability variation, ranging from hybrid melee skills to massive, expensive AoEs and most of the game's cooldown stuff (another mechanic that inherently rewards skill diversity), buffers/debuffers/status users/healers tend to like having multiple abilities as well (also special mention to Curse Mastery). I do want to try a melee-mage, but you're reliant on many more stats (all of them, technically) and the relevant abilities are so much rarer (ignore pain, mage armor, etc) and manually casting heals as a Titan to make up for not having as much Defense doesn't seem like a great idea. It seems a lot rougher than physical where I'm currently killing level 30+ demons with a skill kit I had 90% complete by floor 9 without fusing anyone. Maybe Aura Strike is extremely powerful or something but for the time being I have no idea what it does to begin with. :P In any case I won't say much on magic, but I'd assume because of the easy access to heals, range, aoe, and utility stuff that trying to press it into melee will be an uphill battle. I guess I should mention that my main focus in playing strength titan (in addition to thinking it'd be more straightforward, which it certainly is) was to try to see how far I could push a melee-summoner with the new relic upgrade feature.

Whispers/pounces are potent but I think disabling/debuffing are more suitable strategies for bigger teams. When you're fighting 2v6 disabling 2 of the 6 still leaves most of the threat intact, and losing those 2 skill slots is a very significant downgrade to your character's overall power. Stuff like pounce-mighty shout-berserk smash is pretty attractive if I had a full team to capitalize on all the disable but it becomes iffy when you have only one other teammate and a 155% raw damage multiplier, it's also really difficult to collect in the first place as I don't think I've ever seen berserk smash on a base enemy and mighty shout only on a unique and a hero. I do keep a dedicated single-target debuffer in my pocket because the situation reverses when you meet a hero and have to win using numbers, and that's where they work best in the first place, but most of the time you're the one that's most endangered by status effects (which will often be slung at you in great quantities) rather than vice-versa. At least, according to my approach to the game.

Overall I'd again say I don't have an issue with the existing one-button blender, or tank, or IE shock/mien spammer. These give us more complex builds to think about and work toward than just the higher power version of existing moves and more stats (AKA pokemon progression). It's more that I think there's a lot of utility-melee skills that seem to fall by the wayside from the midgame on. Stuff with niche use like cleansing cut and venomous bite, that are rather rare, contextually-supportive but are too conditional to fit in the extremely demanding melee skillset. Even if you do use multiple phys attacks it'll probably be a cooldown skill like shout/pounce or a ranged skill as you've suggested, there isn't much reason to collect these oddball melee attacks once your skill slots start filling out. Maybe if there was a purely defensive melee demon you'd give them a utility attack instead of damage-dealing, but I have to wonder if purely defensive melee demons really exist when defense is tied to a damage stat to begin with and lifesteal is one of the best heal mechanisms in the game.
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Re: Passives that specifically reward having more actives?

Postby Ferret » Sat Jun 26, 2021 9:46 am

Hah, whoops. I saw Post Count: 1 and just went from there. :P Well, welcome back then. :)

Yeah, Leadership + movement attack builds is pretty crazy for exactly the reason you describe. It is only 20% of a turn, rather than 30%, but it is still pretty powerful, particularly if it is hitting a demon that also moves quickly like a Throne.

There are plenty of ways to heal a "melee mage" that don't rely on manually casting heals, of course: Life drains, the Light elemental healnukes, reactive abilities like Ignore Pain, free actions like Refresh, etc. I've found these tend to be the way to go when trying to self-heal in melee: as you suggest, actually using a full turn for it tends to be an iffy trade (you're likely to just find yourself on your next turn damaged again without having made any real progress in the fight.)

Aurastrike allows a previous elemental ability used to imbue a physical attack with additional damage and a chance of a status effect. It is particularly powerful with free action elemental abilities and/or multi-target physical attacks. You can pile on damage very quickly if it is paired with the right abilities. It obviously rewards a hybrid approach rather than pure magic, but hybrid attacks (things like Fiery Claw) already have unusually high Power themselves, making for some fairly strong potential.

It is true that the action economy is different on Titan's Fist: that's part of why I think many successful Titan's Fist builds do tend towards the "one uber ability backed by passives" strategy. The only other note I'd add is that usually in party of 6 enemies, there will be significant differences in their threat level (i.e. crowd controlling the right 2 may reduce their strength by far more than just 33%.) If whispers don't strike you as useful though, you could go with glares instead. They aren't free actions, but they are AE and generally have high enough success rates to be of some use even with iffy Cunning. Titan's Fist cooldown reduction also benefits them: with good Cunning you may even be able to keep an enemy group largely locked down with a glare alone, provided they aren't resistant/immune to the one you go with.

Finally, I would note there are some specific builds that call for the more utility based attacks: for example, the "buff+Slash" attacks work great in a Rabblerouser + Leadership build, or even for building a hybrid buffer. Venomous Bite can be part of a strategy to try to apply multiple Poison/DoT stacks at once when combined with the various Poison passives. It is true that attacks like these may have limited use as auxiliary attacks on melee builds not focused on them, particularly for Titan's Fist due to its tendency towards 1+7 builds, but I think many of them still have a place in the game and in other types of melee builds.
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Re: Passives that specifically reward having more actives?

Postby seth2 » Sun Jun 27, 2021 2:19 am

True, my game knowledge is probably just be too limited to have an accurate perception of the game state. Although I do think gravitating toward an uber-attack isn't necessarily a titan specific phenomenon (though I think Aux boosts' preference to raw stats and smaller teams intuitively leads people in that direction). Currently, if I wanted a physical attacker I'd probably run 7 passives on it no matter what relic I'm using, because that's simply what generates the most resources for the turns/sp/team spot invested. It's easy to deal with the loss of versatility for demons because you can just swap them out if the situation is prohibitively misaligned with their ability, and the summoner isn't too hurt either because you can always go summoner/item mode if your own specialty isn't useful for a particular encounter. Teams are extremely modular so the opportunity cost to building hyper-specialized members (or summoner) is low, but the reward is extremely high as you can get things like damage, durability, or status output that outpaces that of multiple unspecialized demons combined, although again it's mostly in physical that this seemingly culminates into one-button play as the main option.

As for utility attacks, they fall into what I call a "split synergy" category. This is a category in which one skill serves two completely different functions, that usually draw from two different roles which don't interact in an obvious way. Kind of like hybrid physical/magical attacks but with less incentives/support and more separation (hybrid attacks at least still focus on damage on both ends, utility attacks often have two very different effects). Take Venomous Bite for example, right off the bat it's multi-stat dependent, it serves multirole purpose of direct damage and DoT damage, which does synergize in a sense because they're both damage functions. In theory you could damage someone with venomous bite and then let the poison finish them off. The issue begins when you want to enhance it like you can other "core" abilities by building around them. Your physical enhancers won't care about the poison part, and poison enhancers won't care about the physical part, and each part independently is already mediocre. The more you enhance the poison, the more the relevance of the physical component will decrease, while the awkwardness of using a single-target melee attack with a chance to inflict poison as your application method will increase. Likewise the more you enhance your melee capability, the more the poison will fall off in relation and the more you'll wish you simply had a bigger, better melee attack. If you take the phys-status passives, being cunning-physical and all, won't the other application methods like multihits/aoes/projectiles be better? The more you pump your CUN to get better status rolls, the less STR/CON/AGI you have to survive in combat, and vice-versa. The attack inherently fractures your character into trying to invest in two different plans, much like if you had Fierce Stab and Envenom on the same character.

Now, the attack itself is interesting. I do like breaking apart standard archetypes, and trying to bring them together, and there are some cases where that is the case (I think rabblerouser is a good one, due to a combination of the tools being there and also because one of the "sides" isn't reliant on stuff like stats that the other isn't, although the cleansing cuts are still awkward as they put status removal behind the condition of being able to make a melee attack, which is an inherently dangerous place for your healer). The conditional requirement vs the reward is usually just too high, especially compared to stuff like Cleave or Piercing Thrust which will trivially double or even triple your attack effectiveness. You could probably increase melee-status attacks' success rates across the board and they still wouldn't replace pure damage or pure status skills , but that sort of direct buff method probably wouldn't do much to achieve the particular end of enabling more attack-diverse physical builds.
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