Monsters & Lords - Huge discrepancies in the experience of fighting them depending on team composition, and how to fix that

The topic of this post is one I’ve encountered a lot in balance discussions here lately, because it touches upon a lot of other balance issues in Vermintide - especially the ones that currently get debated a lot. I usually comment in those threads upon this issue when it tangentially comes up, but a longer discussion usually isn’t possible because of the risk of derailing those threads. Therefore, I decided to make this post to be able to discuss this issue specifically.

And this issue is Monsters and Lords. Those are often considered as weak by the community and in dire need of being buffed. And we all understand why. Skarrik and Bodvarr not being able to finish their first voiceline before they get turned into a pair of loot die is something we’ve all regularly experienced. The Monster kill timer mod showing sub 20 second times, even on Cata, is ridiculously common. So that there is an issue here is apparant. But the core of the point I want to make, is that this problem is not caused by intrinsic qualities of the Monsters themselves, and that the solution therefore also does not lie in simply buffing Monsters and Lords to be stronger.

Because the real problem here is that there are several ults and talents that completely trivialize Monsters in exorbitant ways. The discrepancy between these “monster killer setups” and “normal fighting” is almost comically huge. And this creates a completely unbalanceable situation. If you balance Monsters against monster killer setups, they become ridiculous versus everything else. If you balance Monsters against “normal” fighting, Monsters get trivialized by monster killer setups all the time. And therefore the only fix for this situation is to reign in the effectiveness of monster killer setups dramaticaly.

And by reigning in I mean reigning those things in against Monsters only. Having a GK Ult delete a Chaos Warrior, for example, can be perfectly reasonable. But a GK Ult taking out half a Monster’s health bar in two seconds is far too much. Lately there has been a lot of discussion on this forum about stuff like Sister of the Thorn, where people are (correctly) pointing out the discrepancy in damage output between this class and other DPS classes, which causes a balance problem. But not very often I see people recognise that the discrepancy between monster killer setups and normal fighting against Monsters is an even bigger discrepancy in effectiveness than the discrepancy between SotT and other classes. And this discrepancy is causing the same problem to Monster balance that SotT is causing to the rest of this game but then in an even bigger measure. This stuff gets highlighted a lot in Chaos Wastes, where Monsters are a very important part of the gamemode. The difference in experience between CW runs between groups with and without monster killer setups is enormous.

To illustrate the ridiculous discrepancy between monster killer setups and normal fighting, I ran some numbers in the damage calculator as an example. Assuming Cata, here are some numbers for a few different classes that can be considered good Monster killers, if we imagine Ults and the most busted talents not coming into play:


Example 1: Elf with Dual Daggers
Conditions: Using power attacks, has Assassin talent, 20% power vs. the Monster from items, crit chance 20%, headshot ratio 30%, crits evenly distributed between headshots and body shots.
Number of hits needed assuming no misses: 28 (1 hit = both weapons hit)

Example 2: Grail Knight with Brettonian Longsword
Conditions: Using power attacks (H1 to H3 and repeat), has Knight’s Challenge & Smiter talent, 20% power vs. the Monster from items, crit chance 20%, headshot ratio 30%, crits evenly distributed between headshots and body shots with the crits being on H3.
Number of hits needed assuming no misses: 37

Example 3: Slayer with Dual Axes
Conditions: Using light attacks, has 4 stacks of Trophy Hunter, Smiter talent, 20% power vs. the Monster from items, crit chance 20%, headshot ratio 30%, crits evenly distributed between headshots and body shots.
Number of hits needed assuming no misses: 43 (1 hit = strike from a single axe)

Example 4: Waystalker with Longbow
Conditions: Using charged shots, has Assassin talent, 20% power vs. the Monster from items, crit chance 20%, headshot ratio 50%, crits evenly distributed between headshots and body shots.
Number of hits needed assuming no misses: 28

Example 5: WHC with Rapier
Conditions: Using fully charged attacks, has unlisted headshot bonus, Deathknell & Assassin talent, 20% power vs. the Monster from items, Monster is highlighted for another 20% damage bonus, crit chance 20%, headshot ratio 50%, crits evenly distributed between headshots and body shots.
Number of hits needed assuming no misses: 21

Example 6: Zealot with Axe & Falchion
Conditions: Using power attacks, has 6 Fiery Faith stacks & Smiter talent, 20% power vs. the Monster from items, crit chance 20%, headshot ratio 30%, crits evenly distributed between headshots and body shots.
Number of hits needed assuming no misses: 25 (1 hit = both weapons hit)


All of those examples above are very generous in terms of headshot ratio and optimised loadouts. Now take in account that when fighting a Monster in realistic circumstances (in the middle of a horde and with elites / specials about), the time it would take to actually land all those required hits on the Monster amounts to something like 1 hit per 3 - 6 seconds easily, if not more. Even in a totally optimal scenerio where the bulk of other enemies get distracted by teammates and you get to fight the Monster totally alone with one of these setups, the time it wil realistically take you to land all those required hits can easily be 2 - 3 minutes because of needing to dodge and block against stuff like a Spawn or Minotaur. Even if you get to fight the monster in super favorable circumstances where you get 2 of these example classes vs. a Monster without much interference, killing it might easily take over a minute. And this is all in hypothetical super favorable nothing-going-wrong-everybody-knows-their-job-and-everybody-is-optimized situations. In reality these times will easily be at least double or triple that. And in Vermintide that is a looooong time, which means a lot of other enemies spawn in and pile up, which could easily cause you to get overwhelmed.

And now contrast those times against the Monster-DPS of stuff like Bounty Hunter, Shade, or Grail Knight with a purple drink & Hagbane Waystalker & Beam DoT Battlemage. The damage they can do in mere seconds is easily equal to 15+ hits done by the example classes above. The difference in effective killing time can easily be a factor over 8. And that’s crazy. A single character doing more damage output than an entire team of “normal” good DPSs together! Especially when you take in account that there are 3 teammates that can attack together with the monster killer.

Just imagine if there was a discrepancy where half of the classes in this game need 8 times more time to kill a horde than others. That situation would easily be seen as completely undesireable and a balance problem by everybody. I mean; SotT kills stuff a lot faster than other classes, but not 8+ times as fast. And yet everybody recognises SotT as a balance problem, but not Monsters…

And this was all a comparison between monster killer setups and generously powerful “normal” top DPS setups. This all gets a lot worse when you take into account that most of the time it’s monster killer setup vs. average setups. Here is an example of a setup that is on the high end of “average” in terms of monster damage:


Example 7: Ranger Veteran with Dual Hammers
Conditions: Using power attacks (only H1 - blockcancel), Enhanced power talent, 20% power vs. the Monster from items, crit chance 20%, headshot ratio 30%, crits evenly distributed between headshots and body shots.
Number of hits needed assuming no misses: 35 (1 hit = both weapons hit)


Contrast the time it would take to land those hits with the time high damage examples above would need, and especially compare the time it would take this setup to kill a monster with the time a monster killer setup would need. The discrepancy gets even more preposterous here.

And for shits and giggles, here’s a setup with bottom tier monster damage, just for a comparison:


Example 8: Ironbreaker with Axe & Shield
Conditions: Using normal attacks (L1 to L3 and repeat), Enhanced Power talent, 20% power vs. the Monster from items, crit chance 10%, headshot ratio 30%, crits evenly distributed between headshots and body shots.
Number of hits needed assuming no misses: 73


Just imagine how long it would take that setup to get al those hits in. And compare it to the miniscule amount of time a monster killer needs to do the same amount of damage… in itself, this example class being very significantly worse at killing monsters than high DPS normal setups is perfectly acceptable, especially since this setup has other useful qualities in a monster fight. But a discrepancy in damage output against a monster by a factor of 20+ compared to the top monster damage dealers is just ridiculous. Might as well be 100 at that point. Or 1000.

I do really want to make clear that I do not want Monsters to get overall much easier or something. And I also totally wouldn’t want all classes to be equal or near-equal at fighting monsters. Having different strenghts and weaknesses is a good thing. One class being even 5 times better than another at a specific situation - especially if balanced in other sitations - is perfectly fine. But right now the difference can easily be a factor of 10+ in time to kill a Monster or Lord betwee teams depending on team comp, which is just unbalanceable. That stuff is horrible for the game.

My suggestion to fix this problem a would be to give Monsters & Lords protection against high damage single hits like Ults (and probably against DoTs like Hagbane, SotT bleed ticks, and Famished Flames as well). I’m pretty sure Rasknitt / Deathrattler and Nurgloth got something like that going already, so it should be possible. Ults and monster killer setups would still be useful and better at fighting monstes than other classes, but in reasonable proportions at least. And after all that you could see what the reality of fighting monsters looks like then. Might even be so that after that a reduction in Monster hitpoints is in order.

But honestly, I don’t really care just how this problem is solved. All I care is that is does get adressed in some way. This stuff has been bugging me for ages and I really feel that it impacts the game negatively.

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Honestly I like where the non-monster killers are at when fighting monsters. The careers that roflstomp monsters are a problem in my mind. Monsters and bosses should be somewhat challenging, but when you have a competent monster deleter or two in your group they just tend to vanish like a fart in the wind.

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FootBreaker Teammup LESSGOOOOOO

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I agree. Every once in a while you get to a Bodvar or Skarrik without a monster annihilator class and it’s actually a fun 3-4 minute fight with a lot of adds that isn’t completely trivial. But 95% of the time you do hit them with a monster annihilator and its entirely anticlimatic. The crazy thing is that the monster annihilator classes don’t even really trade anything for their power. They are entirely 100% effective and powerful classes everywhere else and the weapons and skills they take to delete bosses are also some of the best weapons and traits for deleting everything else as well. e.g. every bounty hunter and their mothers take Double Shot because it’s amazing in every situation outside of monsters anyway.

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That’s another good point I didn’t make. Monster killer setups don’t really trade anything in for their niche, even. A class like Ironbreaker specced for horde deleting gives up a lot of elite / specials / monster killing speed. And that’s fine. But for a monster killer build to out-DPS everything else by a factor of 5+ at least, they have to take the tradeoff of… deleting chaos warriors… They usually even hardly give up horde killing speed. Or they’re even good at it as well!

As far as I’m concerned that wouldn’t even be a huge issue, though. Such classes outdamaging others against everything is part of their tradeoff, and that’s fine. As long as they don’t outdamage against monsters by a power of 10 as well…

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can’t agree more, but i would even go a step further, and say that any form of DMG ability is bad for the game, it trivialises many aspects of the game and is even killing fun of other players. (you know working on an CW, about to hit him with your 4th heavy, and then GK comes along and skillfully presses F to generously save you from your own stupidity of not picking a “press F to delete” hero).

i feel like all abilities should be either utility, or amplify/reward a skillfull player, not negate it.

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Boss killers are ridiculous. Even if you gave bosses like gatekeeper entire periods of complete invulnerability while he transforms it’d simply be putting a delay on the inevitable deletion.

Without doing something like giving each boss a damage cap (so they can only receive so much damage in one burst or time period) its a complete rework of a large amount of talents and classes - not an easy or quick job.

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I have to agree. The main problem is bosses die before they can do much disruption / get attacks in.

I don’t think the damage vs other enemies with damaging ults should be nerfed, as not being able to ohko makes the single target attacks bh and gk have a lot less valuable, in fact their ults feel garbage if they get eaten by CWs, of which this game flings a great many at you. Hell, Shade not being able to backstab ohko them was a lame change (even if Shade is rather unbalanced, but a lot of that is down to stealth and talents surrounding stealth). Elites are abundant at higher difficulties.

vs bosses it really is out of hand. Boss-killer careers should help vs bosses, but as it is now they don’t help, they trivialise them. Nurgloth for example is a screamfest on teams that are newer and especially if you don’t bring boss damage (ironically he’s the one boss that (without pots) is annoying as hell on grail knight since you can’t reach him half the battle. Love Nurgloth otherwise though).

My favourite idea is still giving bosses an ult hardening effect, ala barkskin, but strictly vs ult abilities (once a damage threshold in a certain timeframe is met) and with a longer duration (totally random e.g. 8s, maybe more - mainly it’d allow bosses to do some work rather than insta-delete) + much more damage reduction than barkskin, e.g. 80% vs ultimates while it is active (again, more or less random number, it’d have to be playtested).

But really, any good solution FS can come up with is necessary at this point.

Using F skills to finish off a CW teammates have almost killed is plain inefficient though, at that point you’re wasting them. And CWs are so abundant being able to delete one now and again, then maybe not have the ult when you need it, seems fine to me. (Purple pots and patrols notwithstanding, but then, in vanilla strength pots can absolutely delete patrols too with the right weapons).

Maybe purple pot CD regen needs to be slowed a bit for damaging ults (and Shade’s)? I don’t know, I’m not sure how much a fan I am of that but it could be an alternative - perhaps scale it for ults like BH’s where the less sniper bullets in the option you picked the less the CD regen is reduced.

Might be thinking too far here but it’s an alternative idea. Boss barkskin is still probably easiest. Come to think of it, adjusting the CD interactions wouldn’t change the fact having multiple boss-killers on a team can render purple pots unnecessary to insta-delete bosses. And then there’s strength pots.

Yeah, there’s that point too. They need some damage mitigation that isn’t the pre-fight invulnerability. Mainly they need to be able to output some attacks like they’re supposed to.

Solo bosses aren’t really a hurdle even on non boss-killing careers, but right now bosses can’t even fulfill their role during hordes as they die almost faster than the peasants slaves when all the boss-killers on the team home in on them with terminator-vision and yeet their butts back to the chaos realm.

Edit: If FS do add a BS-style effect to bosses or any similar alteration, it needs a subtle but readable visual effect or it’ll be a nightmare for new players + the many players that don’t look at spreadsheets or mods.

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Skarrik and Bödvarr’s issus in particular are two-fold and identical.

First is that they have superarmor but not the ADDITIONAL damage reduction that other lords get. This is likely to prevent the fights from taking forever if you have nobody in the team to deal good armor damage. But considering how long they designed the Nurgloth fight to be, I’m sure there’s room for “adjustment”.

Second is that they can be killed - even on Cata - before their additional spawns show up in force. They can actually become quite troublesome if you leave them alive for too long (e.g. a billion chaos warriors surrounding Bödvarr), but that just incentivizes bursting them down anyway.

I agree that a necessary step would be an anti-burst protection mechanism. No more than X% of their HP at once. As much as I love deleting them, I barely even remember their mechanics at this point!
But since potions exist, that wouldn’t solve everything. They would also need their fight “schedules” (spawns) to be changed to stress the team more right from the start.

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I don’t want to go into whether if buffing monsters is right or not… but, regardless this, there are some factors to consider:

  • it’s necessary to separate the Lords from bosses. This is because first ones have their own arena suitable and meant for battle, with a controlled spawn of the other enemies (although in some cases it should be better controlled :stuck_out_tongue:)… the second ones, nope;

  • as you know every career has a role, pros and cons. Being effective against monsters can be part of the pro list and therefore of the overall balance. If you cut this aspect, you also have to think how to compensate.
    And before anyone says: “But X career would still be over power even with less damage to monsters”… I could agree or disagree on this, but I repeat that it’s not a matter of mere strength but of roles. They are distinct concepts;

  • currently, in my opinion, the monsters are balanced also to be killed in seconds… and honestly it’s all very RNG. Too many factors to consider: team composition, spawn location, number of enemies, etc etc: a monster can be killed in seconds or it can bring an unfair certain defeat.
    Speaking of unfair, some spawn locations are absolutely terrible and, right then, AI can go crazy and throw up against tons of specials/disablers.
    I have always seen the possibility of eliminating a monster in few seconds as a way for the player to put a patch on these situations.
    Now, if you take away this, you should also give a fix to things like spawn locations and the number of specials that can be generated.

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I’d argue there are very few triggers or none where boss is simply impossible to kill/leades to wipes without having boss deleting classes, instead the problem is that few people even bother to learn basic kiting/dancing skills anymore because its granted for the bosses to die in seconds.

Its extremely apparent in the legend lobbies I frequent compared to cata where wiping to bosses is lot more rare. Some ranged spammer gets boss aggro and he more than likely will absolutely panic and die.

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I agree, but here I swiped them both on the same pile because the problem with them is the same. The difference in fighting them depending on team composition is simply too big. Sometimes it hardly even is a “fight” at all, sometimes it’s a slog.

I don’t fundamentally disagree with this either. As I clearly said in my original post: I don’t think there shouldn’t be setups that are better or worse against Monsters than others. But even if monster-deleting gets toned down a few notches to reasonable numbers, there still wouldn’t be a single career in this game that woukd lose their value. So I don’t share your concern that fixing the problem of Monster unbalacedness causes worthless classes or a narrower meta. Quite the contrary: If your team composition for hard stuff doesn’t need a monster deleter to avoid becoming completely unviable from the start, the meta will only get wider!

My actual main point is that Monsters as a game mechanic right now don’t function well because the difference between setups is too big, not that it’s bad that there is a difference as all. Right now a monster fight can range from “over in seconds” to “mathematically hopeless to kill it before you get overwhelmed by new spawns”. That difference is too big. There are several careers that have a lot more trouble with disablers than others. But even for a GK it is not a soft “game over” to be confronted with a horde and disablers if the player does everything right, like making all their dodges and keeping proper situational awareness, etc… While if an unfortunate group gets confronted with a Monster it can easily be theoretically impossible to kill off a Monster fast enough to avoid an overwhelm, which is contrasted by another group in that exact same situation deleting the Monster in seconds. It is like there were a talent that deletes specials if they get too close to the player: In that situation specials wouldn’t properly function anymore because the difference in fighting them is too big depending on the group. And that sort of problem is going on with Monsters right now.

Just so I understand your point here: You are saying monster-trivializing setups are justified because Monsters would otherwise lead to wipes too often bacause their spawns are unfair? Because a Monster + enemies would be impossible to kill in many situations without Ults that are bustedly effective against them and so on?

As for the spawns of Monsters being unfair: I don’t totally agree there, because map knowledge can allow you to not push and trigger a Monster in unfavorable situations where there already are too enemies in play. But I do concur that sometimes a Monster situation can be too tough to salvage. But that’s a logical result of needing Monsters to be balanced against monster-deleters somewhat, which is a problem I’m adressing here.

As for the point about monster-trivializers being needed because else Monsters would be too dangerous: That is exactly the main problem I’m adressing! I want a situation where the Monster is both never trivialized, and where there is always mathematical hope to kill them in time even in high-pressure situations even when you didn’t happen to bring a certain class. A situation that is not realistically salvageable even with stellar play is horrible. So is a situation where certain aspects of the game get completely disabled. The only way to avoid either of those situations is by reigning in certain Ults and setups and then taking the Monsters’ hitpoints down a notch in compensation.

3 Likes

Uhm, yes but also nope :thinking:. I mean that if we want to make the monsters experience more “consistent”, “coherent”, without sudden peaks of ease or difficulty, we have to smooth out both extremes… I can understand not wanting to see a dead boss in a second (although, to be honest, I don’t dislike it) however, without this possibility (and let’s admit it, it’s quite frequent: Shade, GK, WS, BW, BH are all careers capable of trivializing a boss and they are very used), the unfair combinations of bad spawn location + crazy AI will become even heavier and more frustrating.
Then that a capable team can maybe get around the problem… it could happen, but I will never be tired of repeating that unfair =/= impossible… and that therefore even something that can be overcome can remain unfair (moreover just to bring an example, personally, waiting before activating a boss trigger I find it a solution/mechanics really tedious, not intuitive, obscure for new players and capable of breaking the rhythm of the game).

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As far I’m concerned all the career skills and weapons that delete bosses should just have their monster/boss damage reduced by 50% or so. Buffing monsters/bosses would definitely be the wrong step, as things don’t need to be made harder for teams without monster/boss killers.

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I absolutely feel both ends of the extremes need smoothing out, as I’ve been saying in this thread all along. My suggestion was to nerf Monster health along with nuking monster-killing setups to avoid Monsters not dying, but whatever solution works, works.

I understand your point about unfair =/= impossible. But your points about Monster spawns and certain combinations of Monsters and other enemies being unfair is an entirely different discussion from what I wanted to talk about in this thread. I must say generally don’t feel that this is as big a problem as you feel it is. But I can see how solving the problem I’m talking about in this thread could affect what you hold for a problem. I’d be open to theorise and discuss about solving what you consider a problem after solving the discrepancy problem I’m talking about, but in any case I very strongly feel that “solving” one problem (your stated Monster-unfairness problem) with another problem (my stated Monster-discrepancy problem) is a good idea at all. Better to make changes that solve both things instead of patching one with the other…

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Most instance of teams fighting monsters in bad places are due to the team making poor decisions after the monster has spawned. e.g. every damn time a monster spawns at the bottom of the spiral stairway near the end of Convocation of Decay and someone decides that fighting it in cramped quarters at the bottom, or worse yet on the stairway, is a better idea than backing up to the larger rooms. And the game currently allows you to do this because most of the time by pure chance you’ll have a monster killer class who saves the team from poor decision making.

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True but it makes it more exciting when you can’t just optimize when and where you fight a boss and the game director decides to spawn a horde (because 90% of the players don’t know what Monster Spawn points are) and you have to make the best out of a really bad situation.

To be fair here, dual daggers give up a fair lot to get good at armor and monster damage. And its seems strange to count it as 28 attacks with both daggers hitting when you below do a dual axe slayer count but count each of his hits separately.

If counting the same way then doesnt slayer need 21.5 hits? Fairly sure his heavies is just him hitting with both axes at the same time but slightly harder and slower.

This does however just promote rapid mass DPS instead, we´re looking at STR pot+shrapnel engineer(who melts bosses as well as any) CoM shade, Slayer…and still some stuff like SoT.

Maybe even handmaiden with attackspeed/crit builds? Well point in case is that when stacked they might not fully match the burst of a CoP conc pot shade/GK but they sure melt bosses in seconds anyway.

About the example of Elf with DD: That wasn’t an example of “Elf does too much monster damage by fighting normally, nerf DD!” or someting. Quite the contrary, actually! That was an example of how much something that does very good monster damage needs to kill a monster. That is to say: Quite a few power attacks, which could easily take minutes in a realistic Cata scenario. And that example was made to contrast it with a monster deletion setup, which could take seconds even in a realistic Cata scenario. So that example was made to illustrate how out of whack monster killer ults are, and not that DD does too much monster damage. I think that example of Elf with DD is actually perfectly fine and fair for monster damage!

(As for number of attacks: I counted the number of power attacks needed with DD which is a single attack that hits with two daggers, while the Slayer in my example was attacking with lights and not heavies, ergo one axe hit per attack. Because according to the spreadsheet attacking monster armor with lights is more efficient than attacking with heavies with dual axes.)

Your point about the risk of things like minigun becoming unbalanced with too much monster damage if the proposed changes to ults and such are made is a very good one, though. But I think I specifically mentioned that in the original post as well, along with the suggestion of nerfing the damage of such attacks against monsters only as well, in a similar fashion as nerfing the monster damage ults deal. Minigun would still deal good monster damage, better than melee for example, but still without completely trivializing the monster.

Sidenote: Packmasters might need their armor type switched to infantry or something (with a hit point increase) if this would all be done, though.

EDIT:

I mentioned it briefly at the end of the post:

Did not mention minigun specifically, but it should be changed as well in such a scenario as you rightly pointed out.

EDIT 2:

Just wanted to emphasise once more that I don’t think things like Shade, GK, Slayer, BH, Hagbane, Minigun, etc. shouldn’t be good or even great at monster killing; But rather that I think they shouldn’t be 20+ times as good at killing monsters than the average stuff. Something like 5 times better than the average is still very significant and usefull, but without breaking any semblance of balance.

Ah i wasnt sure and i mistakenly thought you meant that they didnt have any downsides for the elite/boss damage that they have :sweat_smile:

ooh, ok carry on.

I was pointing out a loophole, you mentioned damage in the form of DPS dots as well as burst but that leaves a gap for rapid single target hits like the minigun most prominently. Also DPS but not a dot and i wouldnt be too surprised if some melee like slayer/CoM shade can stack boosters to at least match it for a short time.

SoT can to a degree with enough doomsight stacks and the right weaponry.

A very fair conclusion, and i do agree ^^

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