I really haven't been that impressed with the new Shade talents. Firstly, Shade's not in a great place right now anyway, so if anything she's in need of a buff. On paper it looks like she got some great tools but I don't think she actually got anything that is a worthwhile net gain. Let's dive in.
This tier is the same across the board and largely preference, so we'll skip it.
- Increases critical strike damage bonus by 50%
Not sure the other options in the tier beat this at all. It's free damage, and Shades crit often.
- Increases damage by 30% to poisoned or bleeding enemies
I don't really use daggers, but I do like Sword/Dagger, and I rather hate Hagbane, so I simply don't have much to comment. This might be best on bosses, but uh… Shade is kinda specialized in that, so this feels a bit like preaching to the choir. In my suspicion it'd be too much effort to constantly reapply bleed to new enemies that would die very quickly anyway, while crit damage requires no extra work or mental effort. And really, if you're using Hagbane, why are you playing Shade? Volley offers simply too much utility, special stopping power, and ammo positivity (via Scrounger and Bloodfletcher, more on that later) to ignore. Hagbane is probably great on Waystalker, or Shield/Spear Kerillian, but it just doesn't fit with Shade to me.
- Headshots increases headshot damage bonus by 10% for 5s (stacks 10 times)
I'm not sure who out there is getting that many reliable headshots less than 5s apart each and then consistent headshots afterwards for the damage bonus, but maybe I'm just not good enough of a player. Either way, crits are easier and get the job done without the finesse.
- Backstabs deal 75% instead of 50% damage
This was never that great on live, so whatever.
- Killing an enemy with a backstab grants stealth for 5s
Okay, so this is super interesting on paper, but I think it falls short in practice. Firstly, because "stealth" is not "infiltrate" (see Ranger Vet and Huntsman and Handmaiden's stealth) it will not get the bonus damage that Infiltrate does. Second, the backstab damage bonus means you'll get more damage and perhaps even kill what you're hitting, especially if it crits. Theoretically it looks like you can chain kill with it and keep refreshing your stealth immediately, which can sometimes be the case with a wide cleaving weapon like Glaive. In this case enemies deaggro off you and run away, opening them up to more backstabs because they've turned away. This is an interesting way to reduce damage in a very non-mitigation kind of way, and it works decently well, but but my gripe with it is losing Bloodfletcher. More on that shortly.
Another application of this is to literally get behind a horde charging at your team and just go hogwild. I haven't done this, but it should increase your stealth time, but there are dangers to this formation on the battlefield. Firstly, you're not proccing this stealth and then immediately hiding to take advantage of the stealth to reposition or hunt down something specific in a horde. If you're dealing with a horde it's not really time for finesse or utility outside of panic buttons like "quick, a hookrat snagged Kruber on the other side of that horde, someone get to him stat!" or "someone drop that banner asap!", and there's no way you're planning a backstab kill to respond to those urgent threats instead of immediately going into another swing for horde clearing. To that effect, it is only for staying safe and defensive in hordes.
To reflect on the defensive point, if you're behind a horde and your team is on the other side, you have no eyes on what's going on behind you. There could be gasrats, an incoming storm, a chaos patrol, you just don't know unless you're intensely communicative with your team and they can alert you to what's going on behind you while they're busy dealing with their own stuff. It's a neat IDEA, and might work FINE, but there are other dangers to consider. Being safe and knowing what's happening around you and the battlefield is much better than being "safe" with a fringe utility that feels cooler than is effective, and without your team to literally be your eyes and ears and guard your flanks, it's simply not an effective tactic on a battlefield.
But my biggest gripe is that you drop Bloodfletcher. And here's why Bloodfletcher makes Shade amazeballs.
- Backstabs return 1 ammo
Volley is by far the best ranged weapon Kerillian has. You can make your hagbane arguments all day, but I just don't see it after theorizing with a trusted soundboard and trying it out in practice. Even if I did agree that Hagbane was amazing, you still need ammo to keep it going, and on Shade, that's this talent. Keep in mind that this talent doesn't even require a kill, just a backstab. Volley can deadstop specials much easier and faster than the other ranged options (yes, Longbow can headshot, but that requires effort and has a higher failure rate; Volley is just simpler), and is basically half the reason to play Shade. Furthermore, with Scrounger, you can basically free shoot a round or two into an advancing horde and it's often ammo positive because of piercing. Combined with Bloodfletcher you're basically never out of ammo.
Now, is it weird that Shade, the melee career, has the best ranged option? Yes, it is, and maybe that's a design flaw, but it is what it is. Instead of comparing Handmaiden vs Shade, I'm often trying to find an excuse to take advantage of Volley rather than stealth or backstabs, beacuse it's that good. Handmaiden simply brings more reliability and stability to the table (not to mention health and dodge!) than Shade, and that's that. I think stealth on backstabs subtracts from the ranged potential of Volley and promotes more melee play, and on Shade, that just feels too dangerous because she's so squishy. To that point…
- Critical hits reduces damage taken by 20% for 5s
While this looks great on paper, again, I think it falls short in Cata. After grims and Legend (let alone Cata!), 20% reduction to basically anything won't matter. It'll still be an overhead, it'll still be the same number of slave rats (and if it's not it's just a one tap difference), and you probably don't have this active for when a gasrat drops a bomb on you or when you're caught in a whirlwind. So what does this do? Nothing, or at least not enough to matter consistently.
- Crits increase movement speed by 20% for 5s
This is probably the best option since movement is often your best defense in this game (after recognizing WHEN to move), and crits are often enough that it's up when it matters.
- Increases movement speed by 10%
See above. I'm sure this is fine, but 20% is better, and also usually there when you need it the most.
- Infilrate cooldown reduced by 66%, no more bonus damage
This looks great, but without the damage, again, it simply becomes a defensive tool. And when is a use for non-damaging stealth? Banners, hookrats, sure, but with the 30% reduction on live this is basically always an option anyway, especially with Swift Slaying. The damage loss is simply not worth the further reduced cooldown in my book.
- Infiltrate has a dash
Okay. Why? I can already pass through enemies with Infiltrate. If this ability was removed from the base then Shade is offically wasted. Often I don't WANT to dash with Infiltrate, I just want to use it to reposition, usually very carefully. A dash does not support that, and I'd be happier with… like anything else.
- Hitting an enemy during Infiltrate does not break stealth, can only trigger once
At first I thought this was great! Whiff protection! A buffer for Sword/Dagger Heavy 1! Finally! But no. Your damage is lost after the first swing, and afterwards you are not Infiltrating anymore and are simply in stealth. I mean, the biggest issue I have with stealth breaking is a monster turning and smacking me after I damage dump on them, but that's on me for not blocking. If you need this talent maybe you just need to get better at the game. Without retained damage, it simply offers nothing else.
All of this said… can I have my 30% cooldown reduction back? This tier is a straight nerf to Infiltrate. Less damage and/or longer cooldown, no way around it.
So there. I don't think Shade really got anything aside from more defense and often at the cost of damage. Maybe there are some uses to these talents and builds I'm not considering, but the squishiest class gained some survivability and lost Infiltrate damage, and the cool new stealth on backstab kills is an awesome idea, but I challenge that there's any way it can be used practically or soundly or responsibly on high Legend or Cata plays. Group tactics of staying together and protecting each other are simply better, and Volley's utility is too vital to lose.
Am I missing anything? I really don't think I am but sure, I don't know erverything, and certainly haven't played as long as some here have. But I'm pretty good at these types of games and I just don't see it.
I feel like Shade got… nerfed, but unintentionally. Damage was the main thing she had going for her and it got reduced, and her important Volley utility is challenged with Vanish which I don't think offers enough outside of the cool or feel-good factor.
I guess the reason I'm making this thread is… can someone convince me Shade is good yet?
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