Heroes of the Storm

Phantom Pain – Flaws, and possible solutions.

HeroesoftheStorm 1 - Phantom Pain - Flaws, and possible solutions.

Phantom Pain has historically always been a talent with a flawed design that, at certain points in Samuro's history, has proven highly problematic.

The design has always been the same, only seeing an actual variation (besides number tuning) in Samuro's most recent rework.

  • Phantom Pain: Samuro's Critical Strikes deal 45% more damage for each Mirror Image currently alive.

It has always been about gating a very large amount of Samuro's damage output behind the condition that individual Images need to be kept alive (bonus is multiplied by the amount of Images currently alive, which is a maximum of two).

On paper, it sounds good – keep clones alive, reap the benefit; Fail to do so, lose damage.

The problems expose themselves when one realizes two things:

  1. The talent encourages Samuro players to actively waste their one and only defensive combat cooldown (Mirror Image) in order to be able to deal damage.

    It should be kept in mind that, even though it can seem like the opposite is true, Mirror Images actually deal completely negligible damage. All of Samuro's actual damage is always on himself. Phantom Pain is the only talent in Samuro's entire tree that directly ties a large part of his damage output to Images.

  2. It is far easier for Samuro to keep each Image alive (should he want to) than it is for his enemies to kill them, which results in the intended counter play aspect of this talent falling flat on its face.

That was the situation this talent was at since its inception, and until Samuro's most recent rework, which made notable changes to its design:

  • Phantom Pain: Samuro's Critical Strikes deal 35% more damage against Enemy Heroes for each Mirror Image that is currently alive.

    Passive: Samuro's Critical Strikes against Enemy Heroes reduce the cooldown of Image Transmission by 1 second.

This is a notable change to the talent's design, which now encourages Samuro to use his primary escape mechanism (Image Transmission) in an aggressive manner.

Again, on paper, it sounds good. The talent encourages aggressive play, has counter play, given it gates the granted damage behind the condition of Images being kept alive, while also improving Samuro's ability to keep said Images alive.


But yet again, on top of the former problems, now we have more problems:

  1. The talent has divisive design aspects. On one hand it encourages aggressive trades to make use of the talent's burst, but on the other hand it encourages complex, risky play styles that utilize Image Transmission as a way to engage onto the enemy back line, so as to then get value out of the cooldown reduction component of the talent.

    These two aspects don't meld well together, on one hand, going for the aggressive burst trades fully wastes the cooldown reduction. On the other hand, going for the Image Transmission engages often proves to be either extremely risky and impractical, to the point that in the vast majority of situations, one is better off just not doing it at all.

  2. It's now even harder to counter play this talent at all, because the talent itself gives Samuro better ways to mitigate the very weakness the talent's power is built upon.

But how do we fix this? I believe I have come up with a good solution that makes the talent much healthier.

  • Phantom Pain: For each inactive Mirror Image, Samuro's Critical Strikes deal x% increased damage.

    Passive: Samuro's next Critical Strike after using Image Transmission gains the full damage bonus, regardless of currently active Images.

I believe this reworked functionality would be a major step up in design for the talent. Now instead of allowing Samuro to reach a cookie-cutter situation where he can both have the cake and eat it, he instead has to walk a thin, risky line to get maximum value out of this talent.

Given the talent is easy to counter play (forcing Samuro to use Mirror Image disables the added damage), the passive component grants Samuro some wiggle room, else the talent ends up being too black & white. And given it encourages such a risky, and easily punishable game play style, the damage the talent adds should should be quite high.

Either way, this is just one possible way to fix the issues stated above, and there are probably other ways to address the situation.

Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

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