Agility, Area Effects, and Attenuation

The next build will include three new floors and twenty new demons, but it also include some balance changes worthy of discussion. :)

For awhile now, Agility has been regarded as the weaker of the five stats: unlike Strength, Magic, Vitality, and Cunning, there didn’t seem to be much reason to spend many points on it: base accuracy is already rather high, and many attacks don’t use accuracy or evasion anyway. Indeed, enough attacks didn’t use Agility where it was relatively easy to make builds that simply didn’t need it at all.

On a seemingly unrelated point: area effect attacks were proving a bit too dominant in the current mid to late game and needed to be reined in a bit in some way. As it happens, many of these were also attacks that did not use Agility in any way.

Addressing both problems: the new Attenuation mechanic!

Attenuation is an adjustment to the effectiveness of an area-effect based on the distance a given target is from the ‘blast point’. The blast point varies based on the ‘shape’ of the effect (for spheres, it is the center; for lines, it is the first cell in the line, etc.)

To begin with, a character directly at the blast point takes 100% effect; a character at the furthest edge will take only 50% effect. However, this is just the starting point: a character’s evasion (determined largely by Agility, but can be affected by various other abilities and status effects) can increase the reduction even further: it’s no help at the ‘blast point’, but at the furthest edge, 100% of a character’s evasion bonuses will count as additional defense against the damage and status effect accuracy of the attack.

Block and Dodge can also be used to defend against attenuation attacks, entirely nullifying them as they do regular attacks! As with evasion, their effect is 0% at the ‘blast point’, at the furthest edge Block and Dodge have their full chance to trigger.

In addition to updating ability tooltips to indicate when an attack uses this mechanic, the UI has been updated to help illustrate when attenuation is in effect, shown here for the Snowstorm ability with the help of some test goblins:

Attenuation1 Attenuation2

And the result of actually casting that Snowstorm?


Two lucky goblins managed to Dodge thanks to their Evasion passive (10% Dodge chance vs. all attacks): the rest took damage based on how close to the center point they were. Attenuation usually protects against status effects like Chill, but since Chill never misses unless the target is Ice immune, it didn’t change anything here.

The news is not all bad for area effects, however. To compensate for the reduced total damage, area effect abilities that use attenuation received Power increases in nearly all cases, and SP cost / cooldown reductions in many cases.

Well, that takes care of area effect abilities hopefully. Agility’s effects on attenuation certainly help that stat, but there were still too many abilities that just didn’t use Agility for either accuracy or evasion, so I did a pass on abilities with an eye to trimming the use of the “Cannot Miss” mechanic. There were approximately 60 such abilities before the pass, about 20 of them were changed to either use attenuation, or simply no longer have the “Cannot Miss” mechanic. But, as with attenuation, the news is not all bad: abilities that lost “Cannot Miss” also gained additional Power and/or reduced SP costs.

Most of the abilities that were allowed to keep “Cannot Miss” and not have attenuation are in the Light, Dark, Mind and Body elements. Most of the abilities that lost “Cannot Miss”, or which now use attenuation, are in Impact, Fire, Ice, and Electricity. Why so? Each of the four elements that was largely allowed to keep their “cannot miss” abilities has a quirk that justifies it:

Light and Dark: Often uses conditional targeting and/or cooldowns.
Mind: Damage abilities are usually very low Power.
Body: Body is one of the most commonly encountered Resistances/Immunities.

By comparison, the Impact, Fire, Ice, and Electricity abilities usually only have to worry about SP and enemy resistances in order to work.

With far fewer “Cannot Miss” and un-attenuated area effects in the game, Agility should be much more reliable as a defensive stat, in addition to being more necessary on offense due to fewer elements having easy “Cannot Miss” access.  Hopefully this will prove to at least be a good first step to making Agility a valued part of character builds.

By the way, this won’t be the end of the passes I do for this build: content builds are a great time to make these sort of reviews and changes. :D Stay tuned for details on other changes and reworks. :D

P.S.: Special thanks to gaswafers, who has contributed significantly in design and implementation discussions of these mechanics on the forums.

Some Combat Mechanics Details

I posted a hopefully easy to follow explanation of the nitty-gritty of Demon’s combat mechanics over on the forums:

I also wanted to answer questions that have come up about turn delay effects:

Feel free to ask in comments here or (even better!) on the forum if you have any questions about either mechanic, or anything else. :D