The Lightning Thorns skill, as cast by the Blackguard Mages, now does lightning damage to ranged as well as melee attackers. It does less damage than before. The casters have to be closer to use it and have a reduced chance to cast it.
About time... This was the last straw for me. After losing three HC 65-ish characters to Merciless Vaal (two smash, then one almost instant death to Quake with 3600+ HP) and then losing another one to my modem renewing IP while in docks.. I was getting really drained at that point by the meaningless gameplay experience in HC when the character can die so quickly to nonsensical damage.
Then I figured.. ah well... maybe I'm not good enough, fine! So I decided I'd play Default for a while with my melee character and was totally "raped" to use a popular term.. by the Lightning Thorns in Act III Merciless.
The damage was so insane, while my character had all around decent stats with 3600+ HP, near capped resists, like 35%+ based phys resistance, etc. I felt really powerless and completely disgusted at that point and quit. All around my experience in the last month of playing PoE was like getting kicked in my nuts all the time. Bittersweet at best.
That said I'm not coming back seeing as it will take you probably another year to figure out that dying to one shot slam attacks adds abosultely nothing worthwhile to the game, not to mention that it's completely useless to play Hardcore in Path of Exile when you can die at any moment if your modem decides to renew IP.
When you will fix the "Exit to login" feature to actually safeguard my character's life at that moment ,regardless of the state of the network connection to the server, then it will be worthwhile to play Hardcore (and thus play PoE at all).
The irony is that much of the gameplay woes and issues at the moment which are attirubted to the network code, could be far less troublesome and much less of a drag on the user experience, if you balanced the game to be more fun to play instead of being so unforgiving. Much of the issues people report with the network, are made worse because there is so little time to react to damage (when you have any), and the damage scaling is off the charts in some areas, it seems to be uncapped altogether.
This game could be a great ARPG but imho it's nowhere near as good as Diablo II. Where it lacks the deep lore and environment and sense of a world on the brink of destruction, it doesn't really balance it out with a fun and rewarding experience. It's fun for a few months until the unforgiving game balance takes a toll on your enjoyment of the game.
This game doesn't need to have these damage spikes, at all. You've got a great crafting system that can keep players coming back and playing over long periods of time. But then you shoot yourself in the foot by making it really hard to play a single character over a long period of time, for anyone but the cream of the crop of players.
I suggest you really distinguish the experience of playing races, where a character is only a temporary element; with that of playing Hardcore League for the long term. This is valid for Default as well as the experience loss can get very demoralizing when you get to the high levels.
Though I have learned to see the value in restarting character, the biggest mistake you do in the game design is to allow players to feel powerless. Once you allow that to happen (for various raesons I noted such as network issues, meaningless deaths, insane damage spikes, etc) ... then you lost a customer. BYE