Change Discord as a Solution to the "Battlemage Problem"

It seems to be a common opinion here and on Reddit that the battlemage is the weakest class combination in the game at present. I’ve played a battlemage through the end of ultimate with iskandra’s set and iskandra’s balance relic, focusing on cadence and devastation, and while the character cleared ultimate easily, it started to slow down around the end of act 3 through act 4.

One commonly repeated reason is a lack of clear itemization. There’s mindwarp for the aether build, but little armor to support it, then iskandra’s set supports a melee elemental build, but there doesn’t seem to be a good sword with attack speed and + to relevant skills for elemental damage. I’m not a top player, but I don’t think the gear issue is totally insurmountable and that the real problem lies in skill synergies. Both classes focus on completely different damage types with little support for the damage types of the other class. More importantly is that, they don’t offer strong capability to reduce resistances, which is one of the most powerful ways to improve damage. Soldier offers all the defense a character needs by itself and every other class offers ways to improve its offense, either through resist reduction or supplementary damage types that far exceed anything in arcanist. Similarly, Soldier offers nothing to a Callidor’s or PRM arcanist except for defense, which is largely superfluous when other classes offer strong defensive tricks as well as significant boosts to DPS.

What is to be done? Tweaks to legendaries to better support this class combination would certainly help, but I think tweaking skills would be better. One possibility is a buff to IEE, but that would be a buff to Callidor’s builds that don’t necessarily need the help. A better option would be to put the synergy on the soldier class, in a place in which the vestige of a synergy already exists: discord.

Discord is pretty bad. An aether battlemage in the builds forum takes it so he can get around being screwed by heavy aether resistance. Elemental cadence builds might take it while leveling if they want to remain pure to their build concept throughout the whole process of playing it. But except for a few niche cases, it’s hard to imagine when this skill is good for anyone. The conversion only applies to the third hit of cadence and only applies as to remaining physical damage existing after other sources of conversion. Since battlemages, the only build to which the skill is clearly applicable, eventually can get 100% conversion anyway, discord is pretty useless. So make discord useful and improve battlemages at the same time by fixing discord.

I imagine the fix would apply a very high -n flat resist reduction every cadence hit that lasts for a very short time. My image of it would be something like 25% chance -60 lightning resist, 25% chance -60 fire, 25% -60 ice and 25% -60 aether, each only lasting for 2 seconds. That way if you’re focusing on a single target and have fast attack speed, you can heavily reduce most of its relevant resistances, substantially increasing the damage of both your melee and spells as long as you’re focusing on multiple elements. Adding a nice chunk of flat aether damage to discord would help under supported aether builds as well. If this is considered too powerful, especially for a skill available so early, the transmuter could be moved further down the tree, or less ideally, restricted to a 1h+caster implement combo.

  1. You somehow missed Temporal Arcblade in your analysis, which is another very battlemage-style weapon

  2. With that you missed another possibility - Forcewave. Forcewave uses cast speed, and Arcanist has tons of it, as well as an actual ability to convert physical damage of Forcewave into Aether/Elemental (30% Arcblade, 25% Iskandra, 15% Reckless Power, for a total of 70%, there were amulets with 10% conversion to smth elemental as well (cold?)). The problem with this build is that gear that has either +Forcewave or +Soldier does not have +%Aether or +%Elemental. Typically it’s builds that are well aligned in that regard that are really strong. Also, there’s some missing synergy - e.g. why would I convert phys to elemental when Forcewave has armor reduction, also Bleed can’t be converted, so missed potential here too.
    I doublt I’m the only one who had this idea, so probably Forcewave BM is just weak, either cuz of weak items or skill itself being weak.
    I wanted to test it myself, but then there was TQAE release, and then I got addicted to DotA. :o

  3. Shield is Soldier’s strong point, therefore I’m against 1h + caster offhand style, esp. since it’s not like Arcanist core with Soldier support needs any help, it’s the other way around. And I’m kinda biased towards “magic knight” kind of style.

  4. There’s a long history of limiting resistance reduction options.

  5. As you said, conversion applies only to 3rd hit, while I heard that the reason Cadence suddenly gone from underpowered to pretty good is buff to deadly momentum, which only works in-between of 3rd hits. So a logical approach is to repair it for starters.

Doesn’t mean its good, I’d say its a Forcewave only weapon versus a battlemage weapon. I believe the consensus is still that FW is rather weak outside of AOE.

It wasn’t my intention to give a full analysis of every battlemage build and assess why they’re all considered weak. Rather I meant to give a fairly thorough sketch of the class. I was actually thinking of the Temporal Arcblade when I said that there isn’t a good sword with attack speed and + to elemental damage. The Arcblade doesn’t have attack speed. It seems designed around tremor, but tremor is quite problematic in itself. Another type of build I didn’t mention that might work for battlemage is some kind of animation cancel build with callidor’s and one of the soldier skills. But nobody ever posts animation cancel builds and I find them too weird and annoying to play. At any rate, I expect other classes could also do an animation cancel build better than the battlemage for all the reasons that they do everything else better than battlemage.

That’s true and for good reason. Nevertheless, almost every other class combination has access to strong options to reduce resistances to the damage types they’re likely to deal. It is so accessible that it’s considered of the prerequisites for a top-tier build. Battlemage doesn’t have access to a good source of resist reduction, and that’s on of the major reasons battlemage is considered weak.

My proposal to give discord resist reduction would really only be applicable to cadence builds that focus on dealing tri-elemental and aether damage, so it wouldn’t upset balance regarding any other classes and would support a weak combo. The point of reducing resistance to single elements heavily for a short duration at random is to make the skill only reliable for characters that deal most of those types of damage with cadence. If it were a straight elemental resist reduction applied to warcry, that would be indeed be violating the principal of limiting sources of resist reduction and would be inappropriate. But what I’m suggesting only adds a buff to one or two under supported builds while fixing a near useless skill, and what’s more it does it in a flavorful way (chaotic, unpredictable resist reduction on a skill called discord) that also fits in well with the gameplay concept of the builds it’s attempting to buff (soldier’s discord debuff will make arcanist’s spells stronger against the target you’re fighting right now so there’s actually a reason to mix spells and melee combat).

That would not really help a fully geared cadence battlemage because discord is already pointless for them. You can get 100% conversion from IEE, arcanist exclusives and gear. Even for a character who only got to 80-90% conversion, changing discord to apply on every hit would still just be a minor buff because it would effectively result in only 5-10% conversion. And it wouldn’t help at all if you want to use blitz or forcewave. And even with 100% conversion, cadence is weaker dealing elemental damage than dealing physical just by the nature of the skill itself before factoring in other class abilities at all simply because deadly momentum gives a % buff to pierce/physical. Factor in something like curse of frailty and there’s simply no contest. Widening the reach of discord will not save it, it needs to a whole lot stronger.

The problems with a Forcewave Battle Mage build:

#1. Forcewave

#2. See #1