The Band of Air
The Vault of Stars ring Band of Air has been universally acknowledged as extremely strong, and many have viewed it as unreasonably strong. We have taken a close look and, after careful consideration, we have made some adjustments. We hope it will still be a strong endgame-usable item, but not so extremely powerful as before.
When trying to distinguish a very strong item from one that is actually so strong that it needs to be modified, there are several things we look for (see Balance Changes: General Direction for more about these issues), including:
- Does the item all by itself separate players into “haves” and “have nots”?
- For example, if groups start demanding that a player has a specific item or else they don’t want that player, that’s an undesirable situation.
- Is it hard for us to make new items to compete with it?
- We want to keep making new items for players to go after.
- If every new item we make is either much worse, or is itself a new problem, then it might be time to adjust the old item.
We feel that Band of Air has both of these problems.
Let’s look at some specific details of Band of Air:
- It currently has a chance to proc every time the player does damage, even with other procs.
- Having things proc off of other procs is not a good situation technically (it can lead to infinite loops or just server strain generally). It may not be a balance issue per se (although in this case it is), but it’s absolutely a reason Band of Air needs adjusting.
- In practice, a strong build can proc Band of Air at or close to its theoretical maximum of once every second.
- Its base damage per proc is extremely high.
- Band of Air has a base damage of 6 times the player’s Weapon Damage.
- For reference, the baseline for a typical At-Will is 1x WD, an Encounter is 3x WD (Dailies used to be 5x WD, but they are probably closer to 10x now).
- There’s a lot of variation (especially among Dailies), but that’s the baseline.
- So if a player is proc’ing Band of Air every second, that means the player is getting a free Daily every 2 seconds (while they continue to do whatever else they are doing).
- Or, alternatively, the player is getting a free Encounter twice a second.
- Or, if the player is just leftclicking and holding, it is as if Band of Air says “your At-Wills do x7 damage”.
- Comparing Band of Air to specific other top-tier rings such as Red Eye’s Glare, it contributes much more to player damage than they do.
All these facts point to Band of Air potentially needing some downward adjustment.
What to Do?
Given that Band of Air does not make sense where it is, the question then arises as to how best to change it.
It is relatively easy to drastically reduce the power level of an item to the point where it is no good at all. However, if players have worked hard to acquire that item, that may not be a good solution. So we wanted to keep the Band of Air as a strong item (ideally still best-in-slot, at least in those builds that can make good use of it).
We wound up choosing Red Eye’s Glare as a comparison point. It’s widely viewed as a top-tier ring, and it has the advantage of being an entirely stat-based item. This meant, from a testing perspective, that there were unlikely to be any awkward surprises in the details of how it worked. Our goal, over multiple test-adjust-retest cycles, was to get to “Band of Air is as good as Red Eye’s Glare, or even a bit better, but not too much better”.
Be aware that (unlike Red Eye’s Glare) Band of Air is very build-dependent. Some builds that used Band of Air even when it was not a great fit might have found it was still very good for them just because it was so extremely strong in general. Those builds might find the adjusted Band of Air less appealing. Builds that got full usage out of Band of Air before are the builds most likely to find it’s still a solid choice, and quite possibly still their best choice.
Here is a summary of the changes:
- Band of Air as good as other top-tier rings such as Red Eye’s Glare, but not by an excessively large margin.
- Ring of Darkness also worthy of consideration, although not necessarily in the same tier as Band of Air.
- Set bonus for the two rings stronger than the base rings for some, but not necessarily all, builds.
- Band of Air now procs only on actual attacks the player makes.
- Typically, NW items proc on “At-Will, Encounter, or Daily” usage. But in recognition of Band of Air’s history, it’s now set to proc on all attacks — Mount powers, Artifact powers, even potion tray items like the Doohickey or the Neverwintan Hawk will have a chance to proc.
- But Band of Air will NOT proc on other procs or triggered effects.
- Damage amount significantly reduced.
- We tried just the above proc reduction by itself, but Band of Air was still far outperforming Red Eye’s Glare in that case. So adjusting the damage was also necessary.
- Ring of Darkness (the other item in the Queen’s Empowerment set) has the same changes, but the damage amount was only reduced somewhat (it was not as high to begin with).
- Setbonuses tweaked only slightly:
- Band of Air set bonus not altered. This means it’s relatively better compared to base Band of Air than it used to be (before, it was much worse). Some builds might now prefer the Band of Air with the set bonus, but some builds may still find the base Band of Air better.
- Ring of Darkness set bonus increased just slightly compared to base Ring of Darkness, so that it’s not strictly worse than the base Ring of Darkness (which before it was).
- Boss HP of hardest content reduced:
- Since the Band of Air was contributing such a big part of the damage of very high-end players, we’ve reduced boss HP by 10% in Master Trials and in Tower of the Mad Mage.
- Note as part of an (unrelated) Sharandar overall progression overhaul, Band of Air and Ring of Darkness are easier to acquire.
Hopefully the above changes solve the biggest problems with the Band of Air as described above, while still leaving it a solid item choice in many top-tier builds.
For the official feedback thread on this topic, please visit the forums.