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January Balance Update Preview

Find out how the announced changes affect your favorite builds.
Published Jan 14, 2024
Balance Changes

In this update we'll look at some tuning to builds in varying degrees ahead of the new weapon additions.
These changes are expected to go live on January 30th, while the new weapons come later at February 27th.

Most Notable Changes
  • Elementalist Hammer Nerf. Condition Damage builds are bound to revert to their previous Warhorn variants.
  • Guardians using are receiving a good quality of life change.
  • Ranger Greatsword Buff. Potentially a new challenger to Hammer.
  • Condition Mirage will be hit by significant Nerfs to Axe and the Chaos Trait Line.

As CMC leads us into the balance preview on the forums, there is a surprising clarity in the intention of each change. With more verbose explanations of what each change aims to do, we can better assess how this branches out in practice - as well as get a better understanding of how the studio want the landscape of build performance to look.

Before diving into the changes, CMC notes the next scheduled balance update will be mid-March. In absence of a specific date, we can safely assume this will be either March 12th or March 19th.

We'll take a closer look at how these changes affect our build offerings in PvE, but first - some Relics.

has become a popular Relic due to many healers being able to utilize its heavy healing output. In the upcoming patch, the scaling of this heal has been reduced from 0.8 to 0.5. As the base amount stays the same, this will likely not cause any change to the builds already utilizing the Relic.

has been a decent alternative where you'd want a bit of Barrier for proactive mitigation. This will be changed to healing by default, with any excess healing from the Relic being converted to Barrier. Effectively making it optimal regardless of the health of your allies, and solidifies the Relic as a solid choice on any healing build.

has not been on the radar for the most part, but will now grant Might and Fury as well. Given the long Cooldown it would need to be a heavy hitter to compete with the likes of , which has become a popular choice for builds that need to supplement their boon coverage.

is the most exciting of the Relic updates. This change simply removes the cooldown, meaning you can maintain the buff easier when activating Stance skills.
Weaver is the only specialization likely to benefit from this Relic with Stance Cooldowns on the lower side, and looks to be a good competitor to .

Focused Fire

A significant change for Firebrand and Willbender Condition Damage builds is the rework to .
Currently these builds accumulate two charges of by activating the Torch skill and then triggering the trait with a Critical Hit.
After the change, players will only use the Torch skill to get both Charges of .

The changes also note a Buff to the Burning applied by .

On top of that, a few blessings to Firebrand:

  • F1 Chapter 2: Igniting Burst is now a Blast Finisher and has a reduced the cast time.
    This will increase the Might when combined with Chapter 4: Scorched Aftermath.
  • F2 Chapter 3: Azure Sun now also Heals affected allies.
    This change should incentivize players to use this skill more often to maintain better Regeneration as well.
  • F2 Chapter 4: Shining River also has a reduced cast time.

I Have A Big Sword

Sign up for some Two-Handed Ranger training in the new year!

All Greatsword skills are being buffed, bar the first part of the Auto Attack chain.
This weapon used to be a competitive option to Longbow until we saw some massive overtuning of Axe and Sword.
Now, CMC is looking to make Greatsword the new hot choice for Power builds.

With these changes in mind, Greatsword builds may punch right above the 40k mark, but much and more will be needed to outperform Hammer.

Despite receiving an increase, will be the weakest skill on the kit.
It's on par in damage with , and still a far cry from the high-hitters like , or several of Hammer's Unleashed skills.

For such an iconic skill, it should warrant much more than a 14% damage Buff in the upcoming patch.

Slightly Less Angry

Berserker will be receiving a more distinct gap between its Power-oriented DPS and Quickness variants.

  • : Increased the Precision to Ferocity conversion from 10% to 12%.
  • : Reduced the damage bonus from 20% to 15%.

This results in around -1.1k DPS for Power Berserker, and -1.7k DPS for Power Quickness Berserker.
The Quickness build will still remain the top hitter among support builds at around 37.5k DPS.

You Axed For This?

On the Revenant side of things, will now inflict Torment instead of Slow.

We will have to wait for any numbers on the Torment to see if it will "improve its usability for condition builds". Being one of the more disruptive movemement skills, it needs significant damage output to be worth using.
Additionally, the utility of Axe is slightly reduced due to Slow being a good soft CC.

Vindicator will receive a slight Nerf to its damage output via and will still sit at around 42k DPS. Being one of the simpler builds in practice, it seems reasonable to tune it down slightly.

Skillful timing and usage of has always been key to high damage output for Condition Damage Guardian builds. As suggested in the post, this will make it much more convenient and effective to use multiple off hand or two-handed weapons in these builds. A great change through and through.

Ranger will likely need more drastic buffs to make Greatsword the preferred DPS weapon, but the projected changes will make it decent at the least.

The changes to Berserker hit the nail right on the head, but could likely have struck harder to create a wider gap between the builds.

Condition Renegade is a build that has had a relatively unchanged rotation for years, so we'll wait patiently to see if the change to Axe will finally shake things up.

Stop Hammer Time

Hammer as a Condition weapon on Elementalist recently made its way up the rankings, placing both Tempest and Weaver at the 45k mark. In the upcoming patch, some of the stronger Hammer skills have been significantly Nerfed to limit these builds.

  • 's Burning duration is reduced by 50%.
  • 's Burning duration is reduced by 66%.
  • 's Bleeding duration is reduced by 40%.

While these changes certainly bring the builds back in line, each projected to end up at 41k and 40k respectively, this will instead lead to picking up the Warhorn yet again.
While Tempest performs similarly with both weapon choices, Condition Weaver's previous benchmark done by Ryan will be the best in slot after the January 30th patch, clocking in at 42.4k. This practically means that a new weapon playstyle will now be relegated to the category of well-performing, but not quite the best, and Elementalist returns to using Warhorn for nearly every build.

So Anyway, I Stopped Blasting

is getting its Blast Finishers reduced to 1, instead of blasting on each impact. Any Revenant can currently utilize this to gain two successful Might combos. Now granting Might to the user by default, this will practically remain as good for solo play, but loses huge on supporting allies.

It would be remiss to say that this isn't an indirect improvement for the upcoming Scepter. Mace's greatest advantages are its self-sustained Combos to grant Might and activate , and this outright halves its effectiveness.

Along with the rework and Elementalist Nerf, it is crystal clear that these balance changes are designed to persuade players to pick up the new weapons arriving in late February.

Not So Hot

was previously Buffed and somehow gained an extra stack of Burning. This will now be removed, affecting all Condition Engineer builds.
Citing the reason that Condition Holosmith is overperforming, despite being one of (if not the most) complex build to play.

The Power buffs to will be slightly reduced to 30 per stack. This unfortunately dissuades players from picking up more complex DPS builds like Scrapper.
And of course, some numbers for the Engineers:

  • Power Scrapper loses 1.2k DPS.
  • All Condition builds lose 0.9k to 1k DPS

So Long, New Friend

Carrion Devourer quickly became a new-found companion after the Pet overhaul last year and has been the favorite for all Untamed builds. In this update, its passive attacks will be reduced in damage and has a substantially increased cooldown.
We expect a drastic reduction in Devourer populations with this update. Learn more about devourer habitats here.

Condition Quickness Untamed is another build being hit by this patch, being able to perform quite well at the cost of having little group support.
This is addressed by reducing the total Bleeding stacks on from 6 to 4. Being a weapon that is relatively weak in Condition Damage compared to other options, it is possible we won't see Axe at all for the build after this patch.
Short Bow is a strong weapon that is generally avoided on Untamed due to its slow Ambush skill, ever fewer options seem available to a build that saw very little play to begin with.

To compensate, Might is added to to raise its supportive capability. We're going to wait patiently to see how the nerf of both weapon and pet affects the build overall.

Lingering Afterthoughts

Mirage is another specialization that has been seeing higher numbers in benchmark scenarios.
It is now being cut down drastically, despite having less than 1% playrate according to user-reported metrics.

Historically known for its high skill ceiling and reliance on bursting Confusion, Mirage has in the past half year become a slow-ramping Condition build that hardly brings anything to the table - especially compared to its sister-specialization Virtuoso.
By being reliant on Regeneration to gain additional stats from , and with the November patch also needing to manage Chaos Aura, it was increasingly unclear what the studio had in mind for the specialization.

This is what's is in store for the desert nomads in the upcoming patch:

  • Both and are being subjected to significant Nerfs.
  • The Condition Duration of both Axe's and clone attacks are being reduced.
  • If that wasn't enough, the number of Whirl Finishers from are being cut in half, a combo typically used with the of Staff.

This is expected to shave off almost 14% of our current build's damage output, down to 40k DPS. With the Buffs to Illusions that also arrived in November, it would seem players should now be discouraged from using the Chaos Trait Line altogether, despite having gained damage functionality so recently.

Illusions Mirage is a build not typically seen since the rework of Staff and Chaos Trait Line back in 2021.
While not being hit nearly as hard by these changes, it is considered to have the most difficult playstyle of any build.

The exact same change to was cancelled in the August balance patch - in which the studio admitted the adjustments were based on unrealistic conditions, like benchmarks. Based on the unofficial player data we can get our hands on, it isn't obvious that this is an outlier across the board. And with a dedicated balance patch on the horizon, we're not sure why they are throwing everything at the wall, rather than taking the opportunity to iterate over the next couple months.


Oh hey, while you're already here, check out a build that was recently updated:
Heal Quickness Scrapper   •   Power Quickness Untamed   •   Heal Alacrity Scourge