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 Post subject: Marauder Improvements
PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2013 1:02 pm 
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Cornac

Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:31 am
Posts: 41
It seems like there's a general consensus that Marauders are one of the worst classes in the game, but how do we go about fixing them? After spending some time playing Marauders, there are a few issues that I feel already stand by a considerable degree, so I figured I'd make a thread to discuss and/or brainstorm some changes for them.

First of all, their survivability ranks among the worst out of any class I have played. For some reason Marauders get a +0 health rating when they completely lack the stealth and trapping capability of rogues, or the teleports and ambushing of Shadowblades. Even Arcane Blades get +2 Health Rating to go with the entire Aegis and Conveyance trees to further bolster their survivability. Marauders on the other hand get situational bonuses like Dual Weapon Defense and Riot-Born, and not much else. As far as things to help them cope with getting bursted down by ranged threats go, well, they have pretty much nothing.

Second, for such a vulnerable melee fighter, their mobility is quite poor. This issue is pretty much tied in with the above survival problem. Marauders simply don't have very good mobility. Their only options are Rush and, if they invest a cat point and can survive 14 levels to get to it, Step Up. Similar classes all have their own mobility options on top of what Marauder has, be it stealth, ambush, conveyance, rampage, etc. They also tend to have the versatility of being useful both offensively and defensively, whereas Marauder needs to invest specifically in Rush and Step-Up for offense, Disengage/Hack'n'back for defense, all of which work in an inflexible and often unreliable fashion. Marauder's more likely to end up in unfavorable positions as a result of this, and they can't survive these unfavorable positions as well as others.

Third, Stamina. This one probably doesn't need much elaboration. Marauders burn through their stamina VERY quickly, as all their abilities and a lot of their sustains consume it at an alarming rate, and they only have Combat Veteran to try to curb the this appetite. Needless to say, it's not nearly enough.

As for my own suggestion, I don't know if it's considered a Berserker signature tree, but I think adding Technique/Bloodlust as a locked category would work wonders for Marauders. Bloodbath would significantly alleviate Marauder's durability and Stamina problems, while also having high synergy with Total Thuggery. Unstoppable provides a panic button and in combination with Adrenaline Surge would allow Maruaders to temporarily go all-out with their talents without killing themselves in the process, and it all seems to fit the "thuggery" theme quite well. Aside from creating/changing a talent tree just for them (which I'm nowhere near creative nor knowledgeable enough to do) I think that would probably be one of the best ways to improve the class. (A life rating bonus would be nice too though.)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:31 am 
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Halfling

Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:39 am
Posts: 91
Sedrahl wrote:
First of all, their survivability ranks among the worst out of any class I have played. For some reason Marauders get a +0 health rating when they completely lack the stealth and trapping capability of rogues, or the teleports and ambushing of Shadowblades. Even Arcane Blades get +2 Health Rating to go with the entire Aegis and Conveyance trees to further bolster their survivability. Marauders on the other hand get situational bonuses like Dual Weapon Defense and Riot-Born, and not much else. As far as things to help them cope with getting bursted down by ranged threats go, well, they have pretty much nothing.


I wouldn't call that situational: Marauders are the only dual wielders with Conditioning, and 50% conf, stun resistance is sweet. They are the two most disabling status effects, at least the common ones. They combine that with high damage. Dual Weapon Defense is worse, but if you max both Defense talents around level15-18, most enemies won't be able to hit you. Without putting a cat point in either tree, even Grushnak pride entrances had a good chance of missing (my Defense was 10-15 higher than their Accuracy).

Quote:
Second, for such a vulnerable melee fighter, their mobility is quite poor. This issue is pretty much tied in with the above survival problem. Marauders simply don't have very good mobility. Their only options are Rush and, if they invest a cat point and can survive 14 levels to get to it, Step Up.

Rush + Step Up is poor ? High damage of dual wield combined with Step Up makes me feel a lot more mobile than Bulwarks, which need to spend several turns killing an enemy. Both Marauders and Berserkers are playable with just rush + Movement infusion. True Grit grants the elemental defense you want, although I prefer to spend stamina on offensive abilities.

Quote:
Similar classes all have their own mobility options on top of what Marauder has, be it stealth, ambush, conveyance, rampage, etc. They also tend to have the versatility of being useful both offensively and defensively, whereas Marauder needs to invest specifically in Rush and Step-Up for offense, Disengage/Hack'n'back for defense, all of which work in an inflexible and often unreliable fashion. Marauder's more likely to end up in unfavorable positions as a result of this, and they can't survive these unfavorable positions as well as others.


I agree the problem is with Field Control and Mobility trees. Disengage is only useful for ranged classes, and even then you have to play very carefully to be able to use it at all. It would be much nicer if Disengage allowed choosing a square in a cone (first select an adjacent creature, second a square in a cone projected from it towards you). As for Hack&Back, it's solution looking for a problem! Both Marauder and Brawler are melee classes, hitting an enemy and jumping away is NOT good. You're making yourself vulnerable. I think Hack&Back shouldn't be fixed in similar way as Disengage (cone), because the 2 skills already overlap too much and a class has few reasons to take both. Instead, how about this skill as H&B replacement ?

Circle Strafe
Cooldown: 8
You hit the target for 100% damage. Second, you get Movement-infusion-like bonus which breaks as soon as you stop being adjacent to an enemy. (it would be best if it simply didn't allow moving away from enemies).
Uses:
- use an enemy as living shield
- reposition, to keep thwacking a monster. Hit a monster and make yourself less visible to OTHER enemies.
- at higher level, you should be able to circle a group of enemies. A good example is in the orc Ambush. You would hit one of them, then move around them to prevent them from cornering you.

Quote:
Third, Stamina. This one probably doesn't need much elaboration. Marauders burn through their stamina VERY quickly, as all their abilities and a lot of their sustains consume it at an alarming rate, and they only have Combat Veteran to try to curb the this appetite. Needless to say, it's not nearly enough.

Quite recently I complained about Marauder stamina problem - their Combat Veteran was LOCKED. But after more testing, I don't like unlocked Combat Veteran! It makes the 'rogue' archetype class play too much like a dual-wielded warrior. There is a synergy with Unending Frenzy (stamina for kill - it's really not that bad!). Mobility tree is supposed to help with Stamina, but does remarkably poor job at that. Anyway, I was able to get Total Thuggery running for long durations on marauders - the secret is Adrenaline Surge. In fact, once my stamina practically depleted, I would enable 5/5 Greater Weapon Focus and use both GWF and TT with talents like Flurry.

But you shouldn't have to do that. Total Thuggery is an awkward skill. The bonus isn't that high and requires practically maxed Str/Dex to do anything. The stamina cost is horrendous and has negative synergy with skills like Flurry, Whirlwind and all attack speed boosters. Usually when a skill has a cost per hit, it does something nice per hit, like +damage, the cost is relatively modest and you're happy to see more of it. With Total Thuggery, you want to make as few attacks per turn as possible.
For the record, I had Total Thuggery, True Grit and Greater Weapon focus active at the same time - but it required 5/5 Step Up, the +0.5 stamina talent, Unending Frenzy (stamina for kill), Adrenaline Surge. And that was on a 2-handed Marauder with Legacy of the Naloren (dual wielder might deal higher damage).

But back to stamina. Light of Foot bonus is a drop in the bucket. When maxed, you get something like -7% fatigue and 2 stamina per move. A Movement infusion which moves you 10 squares will give you... 20. Step Up of 7 will give you 14. And that's all provided that you move left-right-left-right-left-right-attack to milk every Movement or Step Up as much as possible - awful grinding. Additionally, Light of Foot encourages walking in a place like a little girl who wants to pee. You can't just Rest behind a corner until enemies come. It makes the interface worse.

One fix, aside from increasing the amount of stamina gained, would be giving the stamina in advance - at the moment when you activate Step Up, Movement or Roll With It. And give stamina proportional to the movement bonus gained.

Another could be something a little silly, but playable - Light of Foot gives you stamina proportional to distance from your last position. Translation: it would benefit even from Rush and Phase Door. Doesn't make much sense, but there would be many synergies, and that 80 distance Teleport would finally be good for something.

Another idea: all rogue archetype classes will be getting stamina for picking up items (especially gold). This will mostly help outside combat, or when no enemies are in view. This could be added to Piercing Sight talent, perhaps?

Quote:
As for my own suggestion, I don't know if it's considered a Berserker signature tree, but I think adding Technique/Bloodlust as a locked category would work wonders for Marauders. Bloodbath would significantly alleviate Marauder's durability and Stamina problems, while also having high synergy with Total Thuggery.


It could work, but try to imagine Bloodbath + Step Up. It would start snowballing ! It might be too powerful, I'm not sure. I always wanted to get Step Up on a Berserker.

Hmm, don't you think Vicious Blows (+5 APR, +5% critical mult) is a bit underwhelming ? The skill is highly situational and requires up to 5 points invested.

I like Giant Leap on marauder. You already do high damage, you have many disabling options (especially with poisons; but you get 2 sources of stun + Skullcracker). And if it's not the time for smacking, you can jump away.

Finally, have you tried Vile Poisons on a marauder ? Helps survivability very much, swarms get disabled with Numbing+Crippling poisons and Whirlwind or Swipe. Bosses can't do anything, only Grushnak perhaps. Surprisingly few enemies are resistant to poisons, and they have high chance of sticking.

-------------------------------

One more idea - change to Total Thuggery.
Total Thuggery -> Bully
Whenever you attack an enemy with Bully active:
- physical penetration bonus unchanged. Flat +critical removed.
- if there's a wall on the opposite side of attacked enemy, you get up to +50% critical chance bonus
- if not, the skill checks if there's a free space behind your enemy. If there is, 1) the enemy is knocked back 1 square, 2) you move onto the square left by the enemy.

In summary, this skill would make you push enemies around into a wall, and once they're backed against a wall they would get heavy clubbing. Additionally, you would move while hitting enemies, which would greatly help against projectiles.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:31 am 
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Perspiring Physicist

Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:43 am
Posts: 6005
As I still haven't unlocked this class yet, I'm sorry I can't meaningfully comment. :(

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:43 am 
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Sher'Tul Godslayer

Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:46 pm
Posts: 2402
Location: Ambush!
I don't play Rogue meta class much, so I can't really comment yet, but I gotta say there are some cool ideas here.

b0rsuk wrote:
Circle Strafe
Cooldown: 8
You hit the target for 100% damage. Second, you get Movement-infusion-like bonus which breaks as soon as you stop being adjacent to an enemy. (it would be best if it simply didn't allow moving away from enemies).
Uses:
- use an enemy as living shield
- reposition, to keep thwacking a monster. Hit a monster and make yourself less visible to OTHER enemies.
- at higher level, you should be able to circle a group of enemies. A good example is in the orc Ambush. You would hit one of them, then move around them to prevent them from cornering you.
This right here, this is cool.

Maybe even Vault Foe: hit a jerk, then pick any square adjacent to that jerk and land in it.



b0rsuk wrote:
But back to stamina. Light of Foot bonus is a drop in the bucket. When maxed, you get something like -7% fatigue and 2 stamina per move. A Movement infusion which moves you 10 squares will give you... 20. Step Up of 7 will give you 14. And that's all provided that you move left-right-left-right-left-right-attack to milk every Movement or Step Up as much as possible - awful grinding. Additionally, Light of Foot encourages walking in a place like a little girl who wants to pee. You can't just Rest behind a corner until enemies come. It makes the interface worse.

One fix, aside from increasing the amount of stamina gained, would be giving the stamina in advance - at the moment when you activate Step Up, Movement or Roll With It. And give stamina proportional to the movement bonus gained.

Another could be something a little silly, but playable - Light of Foot gives you stamina proportional to distance from your last position. Translation: it would benefit even from Rush and Phase Door. Doesn't make much sense, but there would be many synergies, and that 80 distance Teleport would finally be good for something.
I like the idea of Light of Foot being less terrible.

Building on your "pay in advance" idea, how about Light of Foot:
- Reduces the Stamina cost of Rush and other movement techniques.
- Pays you a flat number of Stamina when you use Movement Infusions, and when Step Up or Roll With It activates.
- Very mild passive Stamina regen boost (less than what it gives now). Works when moving or resting or whatever.
- Keep the Fatigue reduction, that's thematic and moderately useful.

(Let the poor little girl go to the bathroom already, stop making her dance for my Stamina.)

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:49 am 
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Loremaster

Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:18 pm
Posts: 3516
Location: London, England
The Bully idea is nice. Alternatively Total Thuggery should be changed to cost per attack turn, not per hit - a bit like how Arcane Blade was changed - whilst having its bonuses slightly improved. Light of Foot bonuses need improving and activate on resting not just movement.

The class does have tremendous defence though, and can be quite strong. Not as strong as all other classes, but I think it's fine to have some more challenging options.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:23 am 
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Cornac

Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:31 am
Posts: 41
You certainly can improve them by giving them new abilities, I'm simply trying to stick to existing factors because I'm not very creative. It's also tricky to change Mobility and Field Control, because literally every character can potentially have them, so I prefer sticking to Marauder itself for the sake of simplicity.

My biggest issue with abilities like Unending Frenzy and Step Up, and even making Light of Foot pay up-front are that they're highly situational. I find that when Marauder has the hardest time with stamina is in prolonged fights with a highly durable enemy- often the most dangerous type of enemy in ToME, and all of those talents are near-useless in such situations. This is also why I'm not so worried about them "snowballing" with Step-Up and Bloodbath, because being able to kill popcorn in a more efficient fashion is of little relative value, and while Step-Up enhances your mobility considerably it's still no teleport.

They don't need to be better at defending against and killing popcorn (this is also my problem with Defense talents- the most dangerous enemies will usually ignore Defense outright (spells) or will have higher accuracy than you can realistically hope to beat in the first place. Stun/Confusion Resistance and Unflinching Resolve are nice, however burst damage is as much of a threat as ever.

The reason Bloodbath stands out so much to me is because it helps with two of Marauder's biggest issues: Durability and (practical) stamina regeneration. You will not always have an enemy to kill for Unending Frenzy, but as long as there's an enemy that you can hit you CAN have Bloodbath active. This is a crucial difference in difficult boss fights, where you need to do a lot of damage but probably don't have any trash mobs to take advantage of. Having another locked tree is nice too, because Marauders already have many of the Escort trees unlocked already and typically have low synergy with the magic- and nature-based ones. They don't really have anything that valuable to spend category points on other than Battle Tactics, maybe Fungus, or maybe Tactics. There is also an extremely high synergy between Thuggery and Bloodthirst, as while Total Thuggery consumes Stamina rapidly, it increases your critical hit rate, thus increasing your Bloodlust charges.

Speaking of Thuggery, I think in it's current state it might make more sense as a Generic tree. It only consists of one utility active, two passives, and a sustain, and a lot of Marauder's generic trees are rather filler-y rather than class-defining. (looking at you, Mobility, Field Control, and Survival.) On the contrary a lot of Class points tend to get eaten up by Dual Weapon trees, Techniques, Veteran, Battle Tactics, etc. By bumping Thuggery over into the Generic side it frees up a few Class points (from Riot-Born) and makes it more likely that people might actually bother to invest in Vicious Strikes or Total Thuggery.

Speaking of which, Starkeep was actually kind enough to help me make and upload an addon that implements these changes for 1.0.4 so I could try them out. Unfortunately I've been so obsessed with trying to clear a Roguelike Mindstar Marauder using said addon I haven't even had the chance to get much use out of the Bloodthirst tree or Generic Thuggery, so I still don't know how much it affects balance. (All I can say is it hasn't made the will/cun mindstar build earlygame any easier.) Feel free to give it a whirl if you get bored/curious/masochistic enough.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:30 am 
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Halfling

Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:39 am
Posts: 91
I think you're overestimating the importance of boss fights a bit. Yes, they're important but you know almost exactly what the challenge will be, and can prepare. Slime-covered weapons are great, and I don't like using runes on Marauder (maybe Acid Wave would be good). Second, some bosses summon - this makes Step Up a situational escape tool. I can't recall a boss that is resistant to poisons. Vile Poisons is a really great skill. And the disabling attacks I mentioned. I played a melee Temporal Warden a while ago, and he felt harder than a Marauder. He had great potential, but I needed to be constantly careful.

Another thing about Bloodbath - Marauders already have very few talents of their own, only the Thuggery tree I think. I would rather see them get a new tree. Sedrahl thinks durability is the main issue. How about others ?

My issue with Marauders is they don't have a really viable Cunning build. Daggers are Str/Dex weapons, and to increase Cunning you need to either lower your damage or durability. Bulwarks and Berserkers are perfectly viable with Str/Cun build, because their weapon requires only 1 stat.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:47 am 
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Cornac

Joined: Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:31 am
Posts: 41
I don't mean to say bosses are everything, but they tend to be a much bigger threat than regular melee enemies for the vast majority of the game. Rares and Randbosses exist as well, and they can't be prepared for. The biggest non-elite/rare/unique threats are most commonly spellcasters, which Defense is all but useless against.

The problem with the TW comparison is that, well, TW is a ranged-melee hybrid that everyone just plays Ranged because it's melee is so much worse. I dare say that being stronger dual wielder than TW really isn't saying much at all, and TW still has it's own advantages, such as supreme speed and an instant phase door.

I agree on both points about them getting their own tree and dealing with the stat issue. If whips were viable they would make swell weapons for Marauders, allowing one to cut STR in favor of DEX/CUN and high scaling on things like GWF and DWD. Making One-Handed weapons usable in the offhand would allow them to drop DEX, giving them a high Physical Power build which has less effectiveness on the aforementioned DEX-scaling abilities. WIL/CUN Mindstar already presents another alternative with high Anti-Magic synergy, but also comes with it's own set of weaknesses as well. I think Marauders having different builds with particular strengths in this way would be ideal, as it gives the class greater replay value.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:41 pm 
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Higher

Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:01 am
Posts: 61
My roguelike win took AM/fungus and that worked fine for durability. I did put some points into will, but I don't think it was that important since it was mostly for fungus, it did give some more stamina though. I went heavy armor, I guess I embraced the marauder's use of strength, and figured cunning was optional since I didn't have lethality.

Escapes are easy to cover with generic options, psychoportation torque, movement infusion, giant leap, you don't really need anything on the marauder itself. And step-up is fantastic for everything except isolated bosses.

Whips and cunning builds would be cool, but I don't think they will address anything core to the class, all of the cunning trees are pretty optional.

That circle strafe skill seems kinda cool, but I'm not sure I would really want it on a marauder, with step-up and switch-place you can probably reposition enough, I would mostly use flurry to trigger step-up. And again you have giant leap and movement infusions as generic options. Could be better than Hack'n Back though.

HP mod could stand to be a little higher maybe. Mobility seems pretty meh, if it's meant to allow defense based tanking maybe it should have crit reduction to match armor training. Defense already feels more volatile. Overall though I don't really see what is so bad about marauders, I didn't find them lacking in mobility at all, and at least with fungus builds survival was solid. I had the normal melee issues like shieldwall, and some damage on hit due to dual wield + GWF, that's about it.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:56 pm 
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Halfling

Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:39 am
Posts: 91
I agree about health per level - Rogues have +0 HP per level, warriors have +2 or +3. Marauders are something between a warrior and rogue, so they should get +1.

My Ghoul Marauder is doing fine. The only black spot on my otherwise perfect record(I saved ALL escorts with a race that can only heal by killing them) is that I "died" to the Ambush after Dreadfell. I really shouldn't - I had a totem of thorny skin, but I goofed around with Telekinetic Core instead, and I chose Death Choker instead of Feathersteel (!!). I will never do that mistake again. Also, I had only 3/5 Armour Training because I wanted to try Gnaw. I could have maxed Armour Training instead.

I regret taking that Cunning early, I would have Poisons either way, just a bit later (where it actually matters!). Around level 10 you kill everything quickly anyway. You can wait a bit more for sneakthief/solipsist rings. You may even buy one. I have accuracy issues now and have to juggle items like gauntlets of dexterity. Marauders benefit from some Cunning talents, but get almost nothing from Cunning the stat.

If I had another chance, I would take 3 levels of Charm Mastery from escorts rather than Piercing Sight. I was worried about invisible creatures, but Retch would take care of them anyway. As a ghoul, after inscribing two Shield runes, Phase Door/Lightning and Teleportation, you don't need Psychoportation anymore!
Ghouls have NO rune to remove magical effects, and walking around in heavy armor with 100% stun resistance means that, ironically, fellow ghouls are more dangerous to you than skeletons. A totem of cure ilness is VERY useful, you have everything else covered. Alternatively, in places like the Ambush, you get substantial Armour boost. As a ghoul, if you rely on Shielding runes only, you'll have dreadful saturation problems. So alternate Shielding with Retch and Thorny Skin.
Additionally, Charm Mastery greatly boosts items like Wrap of Stone, Wyrmbreath, Eden's Guile, the blue artifact lantern, etc. I got Wyrmbreath and Eden's Guile and I can count myself lucky, but you're often going to stumble upon some good items. Wanderer's Rest perhaps.

------------------------------------

You know what class Marauders resemble the most ? Bulwark. A bulwark that traded shields for Dual Weapons. You get Cunning/Survival, Dirty Fighting, Battle Tactics, Conditioning, Combat Veteran, Combat Techniques. You have identical generic talent trees, and aside from Shields/Dual Wield difference the same class talent trees! (Bulwarks also get Archery, 2-Handed Training, Superiority and Battle Cries, but these trees are not relevant)


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