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Make Cleavers Great Again (in HT)

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by Gurk, Jun 20, 2022.

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  1. Gurk
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    Gurk Capt. Latanica

    353
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    Mar 9, 2020
    Male
    2:30 PM
    Gxrk
    Marksman, Shadower, Buccaneer
    Preface

    HT is one of the very few "cleave"-friendly bosses in the game and the only one that is late game, and the fact that it remains a space that is generally not very welcoming to cleavers acts as a sort of litmus test for the determination of whether playing a cleave class into the end game is a worthwhile endeavor. Now don't get me wrong; cleave classes have their upsides and incentives and don't perform as badly as many might think in non-cleave situations. But at least as it pertains to the end game player, there is no compelling reason to invest in them over any other class.

    One could try to justify this situation by simply classifying them as an entry-level class given their ease of washing, but it does not seem to me to be conducive to healthy class balance for such a disproportionate amount of weight to be put on this one factor alone. Washing being the primary reason cleavers have any relevance is an unsavory dynamic because of the fact that it implicitly classifies cleave classes as simply stopgaps and second-class characters that any long term player should eventually reroll from once they've built up enough of an nx bank to play a "proper" class.

    Yes, factoring in washing into class balance is a bit of a necessary evil as the amount of single target content in ML will always far outweigh the cleave-friendly content, i.e. washing is the valve that moderates the degree to which players look exclusively to playing ranged characters. But a washing advantage by itself shouldn't be the raison d'etre for cleavers. They should be able to hold onto this advantage while also actually kicking ass in whatever limited selection of cleave content that exists relative to their range counterparts. Currently, it is only CWK cleave where this is true (even at zak, ranged chars are still arguably superior), and while cleavers can perform well in HT they are by no means a powerhouse or even anywhere near a staple as a one-of, and I believe this is an issue that needs to be corrected. If there were even a single late game boss that was relevant where cleavers were highly desirable, I think that the perception of the hero and DK class would change over night (see MMs before and after PB release).

    Horntail

    Now if we look more specifically towards cleave viability in HT, it seems to me that there are three primary issues that hold cleavers (and by cleavers I primarily mean heroes and DKs) back from being fully desirable and feeling right at home: the right arm being active on runs they're on, their effective damage contribution still being lower than range, and the purported risk of mass sed that they carry with them.

    For the first, the right arm is not active with an all range comp so it doesn't constantly debuff the party, which would otherwise lower squad dpm by up to ~5%, whereas it will with a cleaver (unless they perform suboptimally, which defeats the purpose of bringing them). So right off the bat the cards are already stacked against them by default.

    The second issue partly has to do with their actual cleave uptime as well as how a decent portion of the damage that cleavers dish out is largely moot and doesn't speed up the run, e.g. wing damage. Basically, a significant portion of the damage to wings overlaps with that of the bishop, i.e. taking down the wings early only reduces squad dpm and has little net benefit, especially with a stronger bishop. The only damage to wings by a cleaver that is actually relevant is the amount by which the bishop would be short for clearing wings solo (in addition to the help of other attackers whenever there are bad head cancels) by the time all heads are downed. This effectively means that the damage a hero/DK cleaver deals to wings outside of the first 5 or so minutes of cleaving them is "fake" damage and only serves to inflate dpm. Furthermore, even arm damage can be moot at times in the event of bad cancels, i.e. scenarios where a significant amount of damage has been put on arms due to frequent double head cancels and the group is wary to add any further damage to it upon further head cancels.

    And even if we were to just focus on head cleaving, which might initially seem like it'd be enough by itself to far outclass the contribution of range classes, we would see that it actually only puts them somewhat on par with ranged attackers, assuming that heads are cancelled about a third of the time, i.e. they get to cleave two heads less than half the time that they are up. While cleaving MH and RH on right side, damage efficiency for a warrior is only around 75% due to falls about every 30 seconds. Assuming this cleaver has a high 9m single target dummy dpm, we would have the following theoretical numbers for right side:

    13.5m [2-target dpm] * (4/9) [% of the time both heads are up] + 6.75m [1-target dpm] * (2/9) [% of the time MH is up and head on respective side is cancelled] + 6.75m [1-target dpm] * (2/9) [% of the time MH is cancelled and head on respective side is up] = 9m, which is still less than strong sairs and NLs.

    Now let's say that damage efficiency on heads on the left side is around 90%. Using the same math from above we get 10.8m, which puts them on par with or slightly better than top tier sairs and NLs. If we average the performance on heads from both sides, we get 9.9m, which while very solid isn't really quite blowing out the ranged competition. Couple that with the fact that preheads are a thing and that cleaving opportunities decrease as the body progresses, it's no wonder that cleavers are not particularly desired at one of the only "cleave" bosses given that they can still be readily replaced with a ranged attacker.

    And thirdly is of course the risk of mass sed. Even if that perceived risk is overblown and can be avoided with smarts, it is still a significant demotivator for bringing cleavers when one can just choose to not chance it at all with no downside and likely even an upside. Even for groups that are competent, mass sed can still catch a squad off guard once in a while when cancels are particularly bad and they have a cleaver(s). And even if it doesn't, the very fact that they have to play around it at times already means that some of the damage dealt to arms by the cleaver wasn't meaningful.

    Suggestion

    To even the playing field and do away with the first issue, perhaps it would be best, at the risk of triggering BMs and afk NLs, to simply make each arm auto aggro to their respective halves of the map. This way the right arm will always be debuffing whenever there is anyone on the right half of the map, and not just because a cleaver was brought along.

    As for the latter two issues, a potential fix might be to simply increase the HP (and exp, perhaps) of the wings and arms. As we saw earlier, simply cleaving two parts on heads isn't enough to put cleavers ahead of ranged attackers so the logical next move is to pave the way towards a 3-target cleaving meta, and the only way to accomplish this is by buffing the HP of wings and arms such that running without a cleaver will significantly increase runtime. This way all cleave damage to wings/arms is "real" and complications arising from dealing with the issue of mass sed are also lessened, helping to accomplish the desired effect of making bringing a cleaver desirable as they will meaningfully speed up a run with minimal risk. Now, a con for this change might be that it further lessens any sense of danger and reduces complexity in the fight, but I would say that that's a rather moot point given that this danger is already non-existent for most one party runs with no cleavers in the current uninspired "preheads-to-three-heads" meta. If one really wishes to reintroduce a sense of danger, as Kimmy's development roadmap touches on, there are other ways to go about doing so than tying most of the risk to the already marginalized cleaver class (semi-random sed when?).

    Now, to look into more specific numbers as to how wing and arm HP can be increased in a reasonable fashion so as to carve out a role for cleavers, let's first take a look at how much room there is for cleavers to cleave currently. Wings have 270m HP and each arm has 230m HP (really 160m for our purposes as you don't want to push it into mass early). If we have a bish that does 2m dpm to both wings and arms and we say that it takes 50 minutes to down all three heads, then we can subtract another 100m from both, bringing the running total down to 170m and 60m, respectively (a bish that jump ults will do about another 10m to wings and left arm with bahamut). And then if we have an actual shad (if those still exist) as sed target cleaving as well and doing 3m dpm to both wings and arms (and spending an even amount of time on left and right side), this total would be further lowered to 20m and -15m, respectively. However, since I don't believe in shads we're going to redact that last part and just act under the assumption that this hypothetical squad is using a sed mule, as it should.

    Now if we ignore for the moment the fact that NLs and sairs can easily swap sides, let us say that all attackers drop down to slap wings whenever all heads on that respective side are cancelled. If a given head is cancelled about a third of the time, then we can say that both heads on the respective side will be cancelled at the same time for a total of about 5 minutes on average. Assuming that this is a 6-man squad with a single cleaver, let's say that the total single target dpm between the five attackers is 32.5m, averaging 6.5m each. During those 5 minutes, an additional 162.5m damage will be done to wings, which leaves us with a paltry 7.5m HP left on wings, meaning only about a minute of the damage a hero or DK does to wings while cleaving is actually useful.

    If two of these five attackers are NLs or sairs that change sides when both heads on their side are cancelled and thus only ever hit wings when all heads available are cancelled, then the additional damage done to wings is reduced to roughly 145m, leaving wings with about 25m HP, meaning only about 3 minutes of wing cleave damage by a cleaver is real and even this is a bit of an overestimate given that attackers will hit wings with increased frequency when only one head remains. This figure may still yet be further tempered by the presence of an MM or bucc who may also deal cleave damage to wings and arms some times when right head is cancelled, or god forbid, a real shad, further cutting into whatever little remains of the cleaver pie.

    All of this is just a long-winded way to show that the damage done by a cleaver to wings at the start of body when legs are still up is already more than they will ever need to do to them. And if we go back and look at the situation with the arms, we will remember that the running total for each arm was 60m HP, meaning there is only room for each of them to be cleaved for about 9 minutes. So if we take a step back and look at the high-level overview, the picture that we see is that even when a cleaver is cleaving three parts (head/wing/arm), they are effectively still barely hitting more than one. So where do we go from here? Well, let's first imagine what would happen if all the damage to wings and arm that a cleaver does while on right side was meaningful.

    If the cleaver we described earlier spends 25 minutes camping the cleaving spot for RH/RA/wings, they will do roughly 170m damage to both wings and RH and 112.5m damage to RA (assuming arm is only hit 66% of the time), which translates to a dpm of ~15.75m. Assuming left side dpm of cleaving heads is unchanged (10.8m), that averages to a whopping ~13.3m, which indisputably puts them ahead of ranged. As we had previously established that only about 25m of the damage to wings that a cleaver does is currently relevant, wing HP would have to be increased by about 185m (taking into account the ~40m damage that a cleaver would do to wings during the first 5 minutes of body), a 68.5% increase, to make all of this wing damage meaningful. Arm HP would also have to be increased by about 112.5m. This way, bringing a cleaver will keep current run times relatively the same, while not bringing one will slow down runs by about 10-15 minutes with the amount of additional HP they would have to burst down.

    It should be noted though that the left arm would be a good bit bulkier still even with a cleaver (effective net increase in HP by about 72.5m) as there isn't too much cleave damage done to it, though that may lend relevance to some jump cleaving on the left side or bolster the relevance of shad cleave, which would be about 3m dpm to arm as sed target, which happens to just be enough to deal with the remaining HP (75m damage over 25 minutes). All in all, a lot of these numbers are derived from back of the napkin math and there's certainly a lot of room to play around with the figures so these HP increases are by no means set and final for this proposal; I leave the exact numbers to staff's discretion. My main goal was to demonstrate how increasing the HP of wings and arms would make cleavers a staple in HT (and in turn, a real end game class) and I hope I have done that here.
     
    • Great Work Great Work x 12
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
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