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Thread: Analysis of melee lancers: The lamentations of Garrison & Titus

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    Analysis of melee lancers: The lamentations of Garrison & Titus

    The purpose of this thread is to compare and contrast all melee freelancers, show how their kits compare, and to demonstrate how Free actions are currently underestimated in how much they effect a Lancer's power. Ultimately I intend demonstrate how Lancers Garrsion and Titus are falling short and how this can be rectified & avoided in the future.

    First off, this thread will be discussing all seven melee lancers: Not only the five frontliners (Asana, Garrison, Rampart, Rask, & Titus) but also PuP and Su-ren.
    With a mere two exceptions, the kits of all melee lancers fall into the following pattern:
    1) A primary attack which can strike multiple foes in short range
    2) A cooldown-based dash of some sort which can deal damage
    3) A longer-ranged option (Usually attached to a CC effect)
    4) A free action, with an effect centered on or limited to oneself
    5) An ultimate ability - this slot has the highest amount of variance between lancers.

    The exceptions to these are Rampart's lack of a cooldown-based dash (he instead has his shield in this "slot"), and PuP's lack of a free action ability (he instead has his invisibility in this "slot.") Arguably, Su-ren's Spirit Bend is also a pattern-breaker in some ways, but despite not being a damage-dealing skill I think it fits the mold. Going further, even Rampart's shield fills the same role as a dash in some ways, as it allows him to evade damage mid-combat.

    It's not impossible to evaluate each character's ability within each category against the others. All it takes is some operational definitions of what we want each slot to do, and how well they do it.

    The first ability, then, is also the easiest to analyze: The primary attacks. For primary attacks, we basically want two things:
    1) Good damage
    2) Good area/range
    and when present, we can give additional points for
    3) Extra utility functions. (Only one of these primaries has any extra effects unless mods are added!)

    Pup: Great damage, Poor area coverage, Decent heal on hit. High quality primary attack.
    Asana: Poor damage, Decent area coverage. Above average mod quality, however. Acceptable quality primary attack.
    Garrison: Decent damage on first hit , Poor area coverage. Damage poorer when hitting multiple foes. Poor quality primary attack.
    Rampart: Decent damage, Decent area coverage. Decent quality primary attack.
    Rask: Poor damage, Great area coverage. Decent quality primary attack.
    Titus: Decent damage, Decent area coverage. Decent quality primary attack.
    Su-ren: Poor damage, Great area coverage. Decent quality primary attack.

    Easy enough, right? So, then, what does one need to be a good melee Lancer? For example, even though Asana's melee attack isn't the greatest thing in the world, most of us recognize she is still a high-viability character. What makes or breaks a character then?

    I am going to make the argument that a a powerful free action can carry a melee Lancer, but a mixture of only-decent options cannot. The worse a Lancer's free action is, the stronger the rest of their options must be to compensate. I believe this is why characters like Asana and Su-Ren are quite strong, and why a character like PuP with many obviously-superior numbers on his abilities, is not automatically insane.

    But let's continue for a bit on the current trail of analysis. If you feel you can already guess what I'm going to say, feel free to skip down to the next post entirely.

    Analyzing dashes is harder than analyzing primary attacks, but still possible: there are just more variables to account for. So what do we want from a dash?
    1) Ability to harm foes.
    1a) Ability to harm multiple foes at once.
    2) Ability to evade damage. (Often ties to next, but not always.)
    3) Ability to place ourselves where we would like to be.
    4) Ability to do multiple of the above without compromising the others.

    PuP: Great damage, Single target, Decent evade, Poor destination select, Below average multifunction. Very low cooldown. Decent dash.
    Asana:Decent damage, single target (w/o mod), Good evade, Decent destination select, Decent multifunction. Can be punishing on miss. Decent dash.
    Garrison:Poor damage, Small area, Good evade, Above average destination select (min range), Decent multifunction. Also has some shields attached. Slightly above average dash.
    Rampart: [NOTE: NOT A DASH, but we will still compare the shield (Bulwark) by these standards.] Decent damage, Small area, Mono-directional "evade" (& no evade vs wall-pierce), Normal-walk movement, Decent multifunction. Can guard allies. Hard to judge, but I'm inclined to put this as slightly above average.
    Rask: Poor damage, Good area,, Great evade, Good destination select, Fantastic multifunction. Great dash.
    Titus: Decent damage, Above average area, Decent evade, Poor destination select, Poor multifunction. Low cooldown on confirm only. Major punishment on miss. Poor dash overall.
    Su-Ren: Poor damage(/heal), Single target, Good evade, Decent destination select (target-limited), Good multifunction. Allows consecutive use. Despite community opinion, I think this is only decent.

    Let's just keep going, it's not going to be a short thread.

    Ranged options: This is where direct comparison starts to get weird, as Titus' Dagger (Dirty Fighting) and Su-ren's Spirit Bend act fairly differently from the rest. Still, let's try. What does a melee lancer look for in a ranged option?
    1) Damage
    2) Usefulness as distance-closer/CC effects
    3)Range
    4) Other assorted utility

    Pup: High damage, Directed follow, 5 range, Reveals. Above average.
    Asana: Decent damage, Root, 6 range. Average.
    Garrison: Poor damage, Slow, 5 range, Extra area struck behind target. Very low cooldown. Poor ranged option.
    Rampart: Decent damage, Knockback (pull), 6 range. I would call this one above average to great.
    Rask: Low damage, Knockback (away), 4.5 range (wide path). It has utility use, but strictly as a ranged tool it's rather poor.
    Titus: Decent damage, No innate CC, 7 range, Reveals. Activates during prep phase and ignores cover, but must be detonated with direct damage before end of next turn. I'd say this is probably slightly above average, but it tends to fill a different role often, which is covering enemy dashes without need for a positional predict rather than closing distance.
    Su-ren: No innate distance-closing, 8 range. Never misses & can target allies. Extremely variable damage & damage reduced, but assuming two 34-dmg primary attacks back and forth, that's +8/-8 or 16 swing, though obviously this can be much higher. The average use-case on any given turn is somewhat underwhelming, but it's easier to optimize value here than the others, and best-case scenarios are quite good. Additionally it's even easier to fill "dead turns" with this than the others. I'd call this slightly above average.

    In keeping with my thesis of free actions being incredibly important to current melee lancers, let's move to Ultimates before Free Actions.

    The Ultimates of the melee lancers are quite variable at the moment, so I'm not going to do a point-by-point analysis as I did for the previous skills. Rather, what a lancer wants from their ult can be any combination of the previous, or something entirely different: Access to another dash (Asana, Rampart), wide-area damage & CC (Titus, Pup), more free actions (Rask), or access to combined support and area damage (Garrison, Su-Ren.) It's difficult to compare apples and oranges, but for the most part you should be able to get a handle on the relative value of these ults: if not in whole, than at least compared to the other ultimates most similar to them.

    So let's summarize so far, using my (opinionated) judgments:
    PuP: Great primary, decent dash, above average ranged option, and basic experience tells me his ult is above average to great.
    Asana: Slightly below average primary, decent dash, decent ranged option, good ultimate.
    Garrison: Poor primary, slightly above average dash, poor ranged option, slightly below average or average ultimate.
    Rampart: Decent primary, very alternative "dash" (but probably pretty good), above average to great ranged option, average or slightly above average ultimate.
    Rask: Decent primary, great dash, poor ranged option, good ultimate.
    Titus: Decent primary, poor dash, slightly above average ranged option, average ultimate.
    Su-ren: Decent primary, decent dash, slightly above average ranged option, and an ultimate that's probably average but with a wide spread between ideal and un-ideal cases.

    "So, Fog, are you saying that PuP is great and Asana is mediocre? That's lunacy!"

    Well, yes, it would be lunacy, but this is only half my argument. I show you this so I can make my point: Lancers with strong free actions can get away with mediocre kits and still be fantastic characters. Lancers without strong free actions need much stronger normal actions to be comparable. In the next post, I'll demonstrate this in full.

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    If you've played turn-based combat games before, you might be familiar with the term "action economy." Basically, it's the idea that you only get a certain number of turns, so you better make the most use of them.

    And this is also where the incredible power of "free actions" become apparent. In effect, free actions allow you to BYPASS the action economy and get additional value with no extra investment of "actions."

    Let's make a ridiculous, hypothetical example to prove the point first.
    Imagine a character who dual wields a sword and a gun, for example. Imagine the devs have chosen to represent this character with the following attacks (plus three more):
    Primary: Shoot Em' (Blast phase)
    Deal 18 damage to the first character in a 7x1 line.

    Slash Em': (Blast Phase, Free Action) Cooldown: 0
    Deal 20 damage to all foes in a 2x1 line.

    This character's primary attack is TERRIBLE, and the melee strike isn't really all that strong, and yet the overall power of this characters' kit as seen so far is actually INSANE. Why? Because free actions supplement character value at virtually no cost. (There is a small cost, in that a free action takes up a slot that could house another ability. This is usually negligble, however.)

    Now, let's review the free actions available to our melee lancers. As much as possible, I'm going to try to analyze this in terms of "Number swings"; that is, healing + effective shielding + damage multiplied by number of targets, and then divided by cooldown. Some free actions do other things as well, however.

    Pup: Gots no free actions. Total swing: Always 0, though the utility of his invisibilty makes up for this somewhat.

    Asana: 30 shields plus 12 damage per time struck this turn. CD 3. Making assumptions about how many times you are struck and how much shield is used up is difficult, however, let's establish a maximum case: 30 effective shields + 12*4 = 48damage (all four foes) divided by one use per four turns means a maximum value of 19.5 HP swing per turn, pre-modded. A more realistic case would be 25 average shields consumed (occasional whiff, but usually easy to use this up) and two targets hit (24), which brings us to roughly 12.5 HP swing per turn. Again, both situations are pre-modded.

    Garrison: This one is easy to calculate: 0-3 10 damage rockets on CD 4. Max value: 30/5, which equals 6 HP swing per turn. Assuming two rockets on average use, we get 20/5 or 4 HP per turn.

    Rampart: This provides a utility role rather than a straight numbers swing pre-mod. CD 3. To try to figure this one out, we can make a BIG assumption and assume Adrenaline catalyst is of equal value to Turtle Tech Catalyst, and then calculate our effective value on use as half that since the duration is half an Adrenaline (then divide by CD.) Turtle Tech is 30 shields, let's use the same figure we did for Asana and say 25 of those getting used up (on turtle tech) is an average case. Then we get (25/2)/4 = 3.125. Granted that's a lot of speculation, but here's something more concrete: If you use the Invincible mod, and use 12 of every 15 shields on CD, you get 3 EHP per turn. Regardless, don't take either of those too seriously.

    Rask: This one is mostly easy to calculate, but the LOOONG (8) CD is usually overwritten by his ultimate's CD reset. If used before hitting threshold, you gain 20 HP, or a minimum value of 20/9 turns, which is 2.22 HP per turn. Post threshold, this is a minimum value of 3.33 per turn. Ultimate timing lowers the denominator of this equation. Let's say you typically gain ultimate in 6 turns: The values increase to 3.33 or 5 per turn with or without threshold, respectively.

    Titus: This is another tricky one. We have to make some assumptions: First, let's assume an average turn's worth of damage is 34 damage from a given opponent. Next, let's say the loss of value from opponents sometimes choosing a non-damaging option is equal to the added value from big turns like ultimates. Then we need to figure out a standard number of opponents to use as a baseline. The CD is 4, so we get this once every fifth turn. 25% of 34 damage is 8.5. I think out of many of the skills, this one is least likely to hit huge numbers of targets, so let's assume 1.66 targets struck on average. That gives us 14 damage stopped per use, or about 2.8 HP saved per turn overall.

    Su-Ren: Finally back to the easy ones. CD 3. Max 4 targets at 24 each, divided by 4 turns, is an easy 24 HP per turn. If you catch two targets per use, it is instead 12 healing per turn.

    Alright, even though that is largely speculation, I hope I've demonstrated that Asana and Su-Ren have MUCH more powerful free action than the other melee lancers. It's not even close. Rask's ultimate is also a free action, though, so let's do a bit of analysis with that as well.

    Rask ultimate (Damage only): If you hit your ult every sixth turn, as theorized about, and tag an average of 1.5 foes with goo damage, you get (20*1.5)/6 = 5 damage per turn from goo. Obviously CD reset also has some value to it.

    One more thing: "What about HP?" I hear you ask. What about it? If you start with 40 more HP than another character, that's worth the same as 40 divided by the amount of turns it takes you to die per turn. If you die once in a game, 40 HP is equal to a mere 4 HP difference per turn. HP isn't as important as you think; after two uses of Asana's shield she's effectively got more "HP" than Titus does. It's good but it's very minor in the grand scheme of things.

    Here is my conclusion: Asana and Su-Ren are being carried by extremely powerful free actions abilities which contribute about one-third of a regular action's worth of value EVERY TURN, in addition to their normal actions. Many of the other Frontliner lancers are being given normal-action options that are not good enough to account for this huge discrepancy, often receiving only tiny buffs to their autoattack damage and without tangible advantage in the dashes and ranged options comparatively. PuP, for example, has MASSIVE number advantages in his primary attack and moderately higher numbers else (compared to all other melee lancers), and he's still considered "just decent."

    Rask isn't carried by just one free action, but is currently the only lancer with two. Whether his lack of a "proper" ult hurts him, what with ultimates usually allowed to be fairly superior to average actions, is a question I can't really answer. However, combined with his special passive energy gain, he may be quite alright.

    Rampart I sometimes am on the fence about. He has incredible utility, possibly more than any other non-support freelancer. While numbers alone may not be impressive, he brings a lot of difficult-to-measure benefits to the fields, and I personally feel he is blessed with some fantastic mods. I am not currently concerned for him.

    I am, however, concerned for Garrison and Titus. Neither of these champions has a huge free action which can carry for them, and neither one has normal actions that are significantly better than lancers like Asana who do. Comparing Titus to Pup is...well, painful. You pay for a weaken effect, a few HP and some option coverage with a typically-worse ultimate, lower numbers all around, poorer utility, a more vulnerable dash, and no "set-up turn" option. Garrison, likewise, has possibly the worst primary attack in the game , one of the worst ranged attacks if not THE worst "plan b" attack in the game, and only a decent dash and a few HP to make up for it!

    I believe the frontliner freelancers may have been unjustly compared to only their own kin, without realization of how far they fall behind without tools like Asana's shield. You can't make a character who isn't much better than Asana and strip her greatest tool and have the result be anything less than mediocre.

    Please, consider buffing Titus and Garrison. I like the idea behind Titus, but his ability to stay alive is vastly inferior to his comrades at the moment, and I'm sure someone out there has a similar bittersweet love for Garrison.

    Thank you.

  3. #3
    You put a lot of work into this so congrats, although with any insight there will be varying opinions. I don't have much time to go point to point but I'll just comment as a Garrison main. All through beta when he was at varying power levels I competed at the highest ranks (1800-1900 elo which was the top at the time) solo que and duo que. Garrison was regarded as one of the strongest in the game for a while, then they tweaked his numbers and was still strong just not Asana and Rask good. Now with his buffs most recently and Rask nerfs I'd say he's very good stil athough honstly I've played a ton less till Ranked comes outl.

    While Garrison is simple in a lot of ways, he requires a little thought in maximizing continuous contribution.
    The biggest thing that I see poor Garrisons do is jump/dash into the action of people instead of just walking into action and saving the jump for when people move away or your expecting a focus fire. You also want to time your cooldowns in such a way that your always hitting something. If your in melee use your melee, almost never use your ranged, cause next turn its likely that people are out of your melee range. Dont be afraid to jump to a guy who you think is not expectnig you, while also avoiding damage from a obvious target in front of you (also tme this with a free action for maximum damage). Also Brain Juice is huge for Garrison as long as you have a healer. Played right you should be hitting something almost every turn, and this takes a lot of knowledge of character habits/play styles, map positioning and being aware of your teammates spacing to you, lots of melee tanks just go in and dont wait for their team to be properly positioned.


    1. His ranged is why he's so good, and in my opinion has the best one out of all melee simply because its up every other turn AND now has a slow which it didn't. This is hidden damage since people moving are left out in the open for you or your teammates. The spread is nice and damage is good enough.

    2. His engage is a little tricky sometimes in terms of where you can land but once you get the hang, its very solid and a great avoid, it slows AND now it shields. Also it jumps over walls and that is super usefull which your chart doesn't really get into.

    3. Garrisons free action is amazing so long as you are in the right place and with the right mods. I always go for extra damage and lowers the more targets it hits.

    4. His ulti has always been usefull in that it can be global and catch smart runners, plus it heals. Now it does I think 10 more damage then it did in beta.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zargash View Post
    You put a lot of work into this so congrats, although with any insight there will be varying opinions. I don't have much time to go point to point but I'll just comment as a Garrison main. All through beta when he was at varying power levels I competed at the highest ranks (1800-1900 elo which was the top at the time) solo que and duo que. Garrison was regarded as one of the strongest in the game for a while, then they tweaked his numbers and was still strong just not Asana and Rask good. Now with his buffs most recently and Rask nerfs I'd say he's very good stil athough honstly I've played a ton less till Ranked comes outl.
    I came somewhat late to beta and cannot directly comment here. One thing I can say with utter certainty, however, is the metagame continues to evolve.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zargash View Post
    While Garrison is simple in a lot of ways, he requires a little thought in maximizing continuous contribution.
    The biggest thing that I see poor Garrisons do is jump/dash into the action of people instead of just walking into action and saving the jump for when people move away or your expecting a focus fire. You also want to time your cooldowns in such a way that your always hitting something. If your in melee use your melee, almost never use your ranged, cause next turn its likely that people are out of your melee range. Dont be afraid to jump to a guy who you think is not expectnig you, while also avoiding damage from a obvious target in front of you (also tme this with a free action for maximum damage). Also Brain Juice is huge for Garrison as long as you have a healer. Played right you should be hitting something almost every turn, and this takes a lot of knowledge of character habits/play styles, map positioning and being aware of your teammates spacing to you, lots of melee tanks just go in and dont wait for their team to be properly positioned.
    This is common strategy for many/most frontliners. It's not a Garrison-specific issue, and as thus would not hurt Garrison's public perception any more than it would hurt those of other characters who use their dash to evade.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zargash View Post
    1. His ranged is why he's so good, and in my opinion has the best one out of all melee simply because its up every other turn AND now has a slow which it didn't. This is hidden damage since people moving are left out in the open for you or your teammates. The spread is nice and damage is good enough.
    Two things I want to bring up here: One is that while it's always better to do something than nothing, if you're using this skill every other turn, you would generally be much better served as a different character altogether. In other words, if you're using your "whoopsy button" so much that the 1-turn cooldown is a major asset, I would voice doubts that Garrison is the ideal character for that fight. The second is that a buff is a directional motion, not a destination. This is a major misconception amongst players of virtually all constantly-updated games: A buff doesn't necessarily mean something is now good, and a nerf doesn't necessarily mean something is now bad. If a skill which is "10/10 best skill" is nerfed to "8/10", it's still better than that "3/10" that was buffed to "6/10." A slow is comparable to a root - though a root is usually more highly valued - but it's certainly not flat-out better than a root, and it absolutely is not better than controlled pulls/drags.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zargash View Post
    2. His engage is a little tricky sometimes in terms of where you can land but once you get the hang, its very solid and a great avoid, it slows AND now it shields. Also it jumps over walls and that is super usefull which your chart doesn't really get into.
    His dash is perfectly fine and is probably the high point of his kit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zargash View Post
    3. Garrisons free action is amazing so long as you are in the right place and with the right mods. I always go for extra damage and lowers the more targets it hits.
    OK, here's where I must flat-out disagree. In a way, free actions, no matter how they compare to other free actions, can never be "bad" because they basically cost you nothing. I went over this. But Garrison's missiles are no where near the powerhouses that carry lancers like Asana and Su-Ren, characters who already have kits that are comparable to Garrison's - if not better - when you disregard free actions. Even if you always, always hit 3 missiles on cooldown, you haven't even made up the damage deficit between your primary attack and Pup's. Missiles are cool, but they're not enough to bail out a mediocre kit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zargash View Post
    4. His ulti has always been usefull in that it can be global and catch smart runners, plus it heals. Now it does I think 10 more damage then it did in beta.
    I don't necessarily hate his ultimate. I think it's a bit more...subtle...than some of the others, but it has its niche. Again, though "its OK" =/= "character-redeeming powerhouse."

    In fact, that kind of sums up my whole point. Neither Titus nor Garrison are some sort of hot-garbage, "all stank all the time" messes. But characters who are just "kind of acceptable, if you squint a bit" aren't going to hold water when there are character who DO have real, noticeable strengths. A hotel which is "Three stars across the board" can't compete with "Also three stars, but holy gravy the free breakfast was better than a five star restaurant" (which in this case is Asana/Su-Ren/characters carried by insane free actions), nor can it compete with "Four stars across the board" (Most characters in this game.)

    I do appreciate the time you took to give feedback, though! I'm not sure if there are many Garrison players active on the forums, so that's handy.

  5. #5
    I think you missunderstand why his ranged is so good. Hes not meant to be played by one, he's a melee but the fact that he has ranged up every other turn means you can always be doing damage/slow while also closing the distance and tanking. Yes his actual melee attack is not the best but the combo of his ranged/melee option makes up for it.

    Also his free action has some interesting benefits I'm not sure your taking into consideration. Sometimes teleporting or dashing out of melee range, can still leave you in range of his long range of his free action missiles. Also if you go might, and happen to have your missiles ready (moded for damage) to hit that turn and in melee range of someone (and you go single target damage mod, which is really good) you can do 55-64 damage to them if you single them out or one guy is in range. And while this isn't a every game kinda thing it can happen regularly enough to be a real threat. Not bad for a high health tank character.

    His dash avoids traps, which is something to consider as well. His ulti heals and does decent global damage. All things put together I don't think he's lacking what so ever.



    Yet, I would not say he is the strongest frontline lancer, I really don't know who is. Asana is very strong and so is Rask, but I don't know if its comp/player choice or if its just numbers and overall a little stronger, only time will tell.

    I do agree, Titus may need a little nudge, and pup is considered on the weaker side in higher ranked players eye's (which you don't necessarily see according to your analysis, not saying your wrong, just some food for thought).

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    Interestingly, new-release Kaigin also fits the pattern of "Melee area attack/damaging dash/ranged option/free action centered on self" mentioned in thread. Maybe the devs are actually using it as a template?

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