Improve Whirling Blades (analysis inside!)

Whirling Blades is a pretty awesome skill conceptually and visually, and a lot of players enjoy the highly mobile playstyle it encourages. However, Whirling Blades is currently pretty near useless as a primary damage-dealing skill compared to any of the alternatives. I'm going to do some in-depth analysis comparing Whirling Blades to what I consider the most similar skill in the game, then explain my ideas for what to do about the discrepancy. Feel free to skip ahead to the actual suggestions at the bottom.

First, I'd like to head off discussion about Cyclone as a comparison before it gets started. Cyclone is a great skill, and yes it is a movement skill that spins you around, but it's actually quite different mechanically from Whirling Blades (many weak hits vs single hit per target, different movement speeds, different utility uses, etc.).

What I'd really like to discuss is how Whirling Blades stacks up against Leap Slam. (Some information taken from the wiki, please correct anything I got wrong.) Starting with how they are similar:

* Both have the Movement, Attack, and Melee keywords.
* Both move you over/through foes, allowing you to escape bad situations or travel quickly.
* Both deal weapon damage once, potentially to multiple foes
* They appear to have the same base animation time/attack speed - 1.4 seconds, modified by your weapon and attack speed bonuses (exact formula is unclear, anyone/devs know what it is?). NB: Whirling Blades' tooltip appears to list double its actual attack time for no reason.
* Both have a bonus to physical damage that scales with gem level.

Now, how are they different?

* Leap Slam deals 100% of base damage, Whirling only does 80%.
* Leap Slam scales to 76% increased phys damage with gem level, Whirling only 57%.
* Leap Slam works with all 2-handers and some one-handers (axe, mace, sword). Whirling only works with one-handed swords, daggers, and claws. (i.e. Leap Slam wins on build versatility).
* Leap Slam can travel further per cast than Whirling Blades, if you hold the attack-in-place button (default: shift) and click the edge of the screen.
* Leap Slam can traverse barriers and height differences, Whirling cannot.
* Leap Slam can travel less than the maximum distance if you click closer to yourself, Whirling cannot.
* Whirling Blades has a lower mana cost (hooray?).
* Leap Slam, being an AoE, can be supported by Increased AoE gem and nodes, providing an option to improve the potential number of targets hit. Whirling Blades has no such option (unless weapon range matters to it? Anyone know?).
* Every support that Whirling Blades can use, Leap Slam can too. Additionally, Leap Slam can use Concentrated Effect and Multistrike if desired, which Whirling cannot.
* Leap Slam's quality bonus is Stun Duration. Whirling's is Attack Speed. In this case, Whirling actually comes out on top for once, in my opinion, but it's nearly irrelevant given that most players spend most of their playtime without quality gems.
* Different attribute requirements and initial required level (essentially irrelevant, in my opinion).
* When Dual Wielding, Leap Slam only uses the main hand weapon, while Whirling Blades randomly picks a hand to hit with. This is actually a point in Leap Slam's favor, as you have the option to equip an off-hand weapon purely for the dual-wield attack speed bonus without worrying about whether or not that weapon does good damage.
* Leap Slam hits a circular area, while Whirling Blades hits each foe along its line of travel. In general, this is not a quantifiable attribute, but at least in my experience Leap Slam is easier to aim to consistently hit the same group of foes multiple times in a row.

It should be clear from the above list that Leap Slam outshines Whirling Blades in almost every way that matters. On top of that, the few advantages Whirling Blades has (quality bonus, mana cost) are either too insignificant or too difficult to meaningfully take advantage of. There is no clearer case in this game of two skills that fit the same niche yet have such wildly different power levels. This leads me to the following conclusion:

EITHER...

Leap Slam is massively overpowered for such a useful mobility skill and needs to be nerfed,

OR...

Whirling Blades is distinctly underpowered and needs to be buffed.

Personally, I'd far prefer the second solution. Leap Slam is fun! Let's keep Leap Slam how it is and find a way to make Whirling Blades more usable.

Here are my suggestions. I don't expect them all to be implemented, but I wanted to provide a variety of ideas.

* Set Whirling Blades damage effectiveness to 100%, or possibly even slightly higher.
* Allow Whirling Blades to benefit substantially from Dual Wielding, (such as allowing both weapons to hit once each), in order to give it a niche use distinct from Leap Slam.
* Allow Weapon Range modifiers to increase the width and/or range of Whirling Blades, if they don't already.
* Allow the Melee Splash gem to function with Whirling Blades, giving it much better AoE damage potential.
* Give Whirling Blades the AoE keyword (though this starts to step on Cyclone's toes).
* Raise the mana cost as needed to compensate for the increased power level.

Anywho, that's all I've got to say for now. Thoughts/comments/suggestions? Anything I got wrong? I want to hear from you!

TL;DR: WB sux, Shield Charg OP, nerf Lighting Wrap pl0x!
Last edited by Blue_Phoenix on February 19, 2014 8:51 PM
I think your analysis is a bit biased because you downplay any way that whirling blades is good. The quality bonus for example, clearly better on WB. That clearly doesn't make up for the rest of the ways that leap slam is better. There isn't a need to downplay the point.

That said, I totally agree that whirling blades needs a buff to be viable as a primary skill and leap slam is capable of that already.

"Allow the Melee Splash gem to function with Whirling Blades, giving it much better AoE damage potential." - I love this idea. Regardless of any other buff, I want to see this happen.
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I agree with your points, but I'd like to point out that melee splash only works with single target attacks which WB is not. Multistrike might make more sense, though I don't know how the practical implementaion would work out.
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aria851 wrote:
I agree with your points, but I'd like to point out that melee splash only works with single target attacks which WB is not. Multistrike might make more sense, though I don't know how the practical implementaion would work out.


Yeah, I'm aware that Splash doesn't work with WB due to it not being single-target. I'd love for it to be a special exception to that rule, even knowing it's not very likely to happen.

Regarding Multistrike, GGG has already said it will never be allowed with WB because the potential to desync and end up 2 to 3 times WB's range away from where you thought you were going is too high.
I already made this reply to the reddit thread, but I'll post here as well to increase visibility and hopefully add to the discussion.

Whirling Blades was the first movement skill that I picked up when I started the game, and it's still my favorite. I agree with you in that it needs some sort of adjustment, but I don't think a damage buff alone would fix the discrepancy because it just feels like Leap Slam should be doing more damage anyways. Perhaps there is another way to lessen the gap in power.

I always felt sort of roguish when I whirled through enemies, like I was about to turn around and stab them in the back. Staying within this theme, GGG could add a chance to apply some sort of debuff. A lesser version of blind or a slight armor shred component would be interesting and actually add to the feel of the skill IMO. The other popular movement skills have secondary affects: Leap Slam has a chance to knockback and Lightning Warp has the inherent chance to apply shock. I don't see why Whirling Blades can't have a secondary affect as well.
Not every skill needs to be a primary capable one.
I would like to see a movement support gem that lets you do the trail of fire that the rock golems in the Crematorium do.
Now, the trick to make this better for WB than it would be for LS is to have the trail only apply to movement that is ground restricted (so shield charge would benefit too).
Whether or not the ground fire happens at the point of impact (for LS & LW) would be another matter.

(PS: Does anyone know how arctic armour's ground ice interacts with LS & LW?)
"It's usually a Sith that deals primarily in absolutes. Given my allegiance, I will do what I consider to be the best course of action."
- Obi Wan Korrected
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Slider13 wrote:
Not every skill needs to be a primary capable one.


The game was designed for using multiple main skills and 1 aura or 2 and a buff or 2. What is it with having only 1 attack skill and the rest is auras and everything for buffs is on cwdt and CoC?
Intellect is not a cure. Justice is dead. Fear, recrimination, innocence, sympathy, guilt, waste, failure, grief, were things, emotions, that no one really felt anymore. Reflection is useless, the world is senseless. Evil is its only permanence.
I think the only real issue with whirling blades, the one that actually makes it completely non viable to damage enemies is the target cap.

If you guys didn't know many skills in this game have target caps; A set maximum number of units a cast of the skill can hit. This means that even when using the skill through a tight cluster of mobs you will only hit a few.

If I remember correctly, in the past this has been either 4 or 6 units for whirling blades. Now, this could've changed as I haven't tested this stuff in over a year but I would imagine it has not.

Whether these target caps are for balance reasons, and are just an integer in some class file defining a skill, or they exist for technical reasons is not something I am aware of. But until the target cap on whirling blades is greatly increased, no amount of AoE/damage scaling will make it any more viable.

Shit also desyncs almost as much as cyclone.
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DirkAustin wrote:
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Slider13 wrote:
Not every skill needs to be a primary capable one.


The game was designed for using multiple main skills and 1 aura or 2 and a buff or 2. What is it with having only 1 attack skill and the rest is auras and everything for buffs is on cwdt and CoC?


1) It's true, not every skill does need to be one used for primary dps. However, whirling blades has the potential to be an extremely fun way to attack mobs. It is very thematic and also very distinct from other skills in the game, making it one that MANY players desire to use.

2) "what's with having only 1 attack skill" I think you will find universally in games of this genre players always trend towards the simplest inputs with the greatest result. These games are designed to be played for long hours, and having to issue complicated or tactical commands is always more tiring and less enjoyable than simply having 1 powerful skill to rely on.

I also disagree that 'the game was designed for using multiple main skills'. Fundamentally, you can only have 1 5-6L on most builds, meaning that realistically you can only have 1 skill that excels.

I think GGG understood what players wanted, which is generally to play in a lazy manner, and designed the game to some extent around it.
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