As someone who doesn’t play Kerillian at all, and only leveled her to 35 and played through all the Legend missions with her careers, Shade in my mind has the chance to be the most fun and interesting elf career to play - but not in her current state.
Since before 2.0, she was always pidgeon-holed into the same playstyle, and that was what Cloak of Pain is now. After 2.0, that didn’t change until Cloak of Mist debuted in its near current form, and together with Vanish made her incredibly broken and overpowered. Even in its current state, and without Vanish, it’s still an incredibly strong talent, that overshadows Cloak of Pain in nearly every regard. But most importantly, it’s boring. The nerf to Bloodfetcher, while deserved, also took away a layer of complexity from her.
The aim of this proposed rework is to fix the power level of Shade, introduce multiple unique playstyles that are roughly equal in efficacy, and make each talent row far more interesting than it currently is.
- Level 30 talent row
This rework hinges on the ultimate talent row to determine what kind of playstyle you will have on Shade, depending on the ‘Cloak’ you will choose.
- Cloak of Blood - Kerillian becomes undetectable, can move through enemies and blinks forward, passing through enemies. Melee attacks don’t break stealth, but no longer gain a damage bonus on attacking. Lasts for 5 seconds.
This is what I want to happen to Cloak of Mist - no 45% CDR, no 4s of guaranteed crits, no awkwardness with the first hit not being a crit and needing Vanish to work as an assassin from the back. The damage is already high enough when you consider Assassin’s Blade passive for 50% more damage, talent to increase it to 75%, and the fact you will still have around 20-25% crit chance. I envision this to be the horde clear playstyle that Shade could specialize into - an undetectable reaper from behind, who then repositions at the last second of her ult duration.
I also merged current Shadowstep into this talent, because a) it adds some utility and saves time going behind the horde, b) preserves the effort that Fatshark put into the talent, and actually makes it see use, c) is cool, and d) is fun.
- Cloaca of Pain - Kerillian becomes undetectable, can pass through enemies, and deals greatly increased melee damage on her first hit. Hitting an enemy while under the effect of Infiltrate does not break stealth, and killing an enemy with a backstab reduces cooldown by 20%. Can only trigger once. Lasts for 5 seconds.
Cloak of Pain remains identical to how it is now, but with the added bonus of the 20% CDR from killing an enemy with a backstab. This is to add incentive to actually backstab anything less than a monster, like a Chaos Warrior, Stormvermin or Mauler, due to normally not needing to do so and being able to smash it from the front, which does not emulate an assassin playstyle. This has the benefit of not increasing monster damage. As it is now, this would be the single-target damage specialization, for killing high value targets like Chaos Warriors and monsters.
- Cloak of Shadows - Kerillian becomes undetectable and can pass through enemies. Ranged attacks don’t break stealth, and gives some sort of ranged boost and ammo sustain, but no longer gain a damage bonus on attacking. Lasts for 5s.
A new cloak to replace the defunct and completely useless current Shadowstep. This would be the ranged playstyle you could specialize into, for assassinating special enemies from the shadows, and still doing respectable monster damage, depending on the weapon. Shade should have a ranged playstyle, since in Warhammer lore, they are hybrid ranged & melee units, and their signature weapon is the Repeater Crossbow, which Shade has exclusive access to. I would like some ideas on how to make this talent work specifically, however. What kind of boosts should it have exactly?
- Level 25 talent row
I envision this to be where her defensive talents are located at. As it stands right now, the row is completely impotent. The primary talent that’s picked here is the 20% damage reduction, which I think is completely nonsensical for Shade to have. The other 2 choices are 10% movement speed, and another talent for movement speed that gives 20% instead, but needs a crit. Meme talents that few pick, but most importantly - it’s boring. Here’s my suggestions:
- Shadowstep - Kerillian’s dodges can now pass through enemies.
Yes, this is Handmaiden’s Wraith-Walk, but hear me out. I think this effect fits Shade far more than it does Handmaiden, who uses it primarily to be an unkillable clutch career. The talent would be more dangerous for Shade to use than for Handmaiden, due to not having the stamina regeneration aura and stronger defensive abilities. Shade could use it far more aggressively, dodging through enemies and getting behind them, making use of her passive backstab damage increase, and most importantly - feel like an assassin, and not just a frontliner. Keep in mind she will have no other defensive talents to pair this with, no extra dodge range, no damage reduction or anything of the like. Still, a very strong talent, but a fun one, and hopefully not overpowered.
- Vanish - When struck with lethal damage, Kerillian turns invisible for 5 seconds and survives with 1 Health. All attacks break stealth, and no damage bonuses are granted. Can only trigger once every x seconds. (like 60 seconds maybe)
A unique defensive talent. The idea is that Shade manages to slink away from certain death, emulating Gutter Runners who can smoke bomb their way out of melee if enough time is given. Would be hard countered by chip damage though, and definitely needs some feedback. Tell me what you think.
- Spring-Heeled Assassin - Increases dodge range by 15.00% and adds +2 stamina.
A generic defensive talent without any special gimmick, for those who choose. Better than WHC talent I guess, but a basic +20% dodge range likely couldn’t compete in this talent row, so I don’t think this is that bad.
- Level 20 talent row
The row that enhances her passive ability. A mix of damage, utility, and survivability.
- Ereth Khial’s Herald - Assassinâ€™s Blade is increased to 75% additional damage when attacking enemies from behind.
Identical as it is now, I don’t see too much point in changing this, especially since it’s likely this will be more important due to Cloak of Mist no longer existing with this rework and no more guaranteed crits insta-killing everything, which currently renders Assassin’s Blade nearly useless.
- Bloodfletcher - Killing an elite or special with a backstab restores 5% ammo. Can only trigger every x seconds.
Improved Bloodfletcher that would hopefully be more useful. Disproportionately benefits Repeater Crossbow, and does nothing for Moonfire Bow or Javelins. Specific timer I’m not capable of giving.
- Khaine’s Thirst - Backstabs increase healing received by 20%.
Yes, I stole the name of the tHP on kill talent, cause I’m assuming the Stagger & THP rebalance mod will get added officially some day. I think this is fitting for a Dark Elf career, who revel in bloodshed, invigorating them. Adds a bit of extra survivability.
- Level 10 talent row
The damage row. As it is now, it’s a “pick your x% damage increase talent of your liking”, which isn’t very interesting to me. Here’s my ideas for it.
- Flay - Enemies hit by melee attacks bleed for extra damage. Maximum of 1 (or 2) bleed DoT effect.
Yes, this is Flense from Witch Hunter. Regardless, I think this is a good fit for Shade. As it is right now, the talent would be incredibly powerful, which is why I’d want to introduce a cap for it (and WHC too). Thematic for a Dark Elf career, especially one that is Khaine focused.
- Every 5 (or 4) hits grant a guaranteed critical strike. Critical strikes can no longer occur randomly.
Yes, Smite and Helborg’s Tutelage from Zealot and Mercenary respectively. Again, I think this is a better fit for Shade, seeing as it is a career that sort of specializes in critical hits. Don’t think it would be too powerful, since Shade already reaches 20-25% crit chance, this would let you control your crits and potentially use them in a better way, knowing they are guaranteed. This also helps with ranged, and disproportionately helps Repeater Crossbow wink.
- Exquisite Huntress - Headshots increase headshot damage bonus by 10.0% for 5 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.
Same talent as it is in the current game, but nerfed the stacks to 5 instead of 10. Shade has access to a lot of high finesse weapons, which disproportionately benefit from this talent. A more moderate 50% damage increase seems good.
That’s my proposed rework idea for Shade. Tell me what you think! The way I see it, this would open up at least 3 primary playstyles, which can then further be tuned depending on the secondary talents you take. I think this opens up a lot for Shade, balances her better, and most importantly, makes her significantly more fun to play, and makes the career feel more like an assassin.
One thing that’s worthy to note is Repeater Crossbow. It has languished pretty much since the beginning of the game in mediocrity, and even with the buff it received in the previous Big Balance Patch, it hasn’t seen much use since. Shade as it is now has little to no synergy with the weapon, despite it being one of the signature weapons of Shades in lore, and being her exclusive ranged weapon. Part of this proposed rework is to add some synergy between the career and weapon. The advantage of being exclusive to one career, is that it can be custom-fitted to the career pretty easily. Ideally, it should be better than longbow with a full ranged playstyle, but a bit worse than longbow in a more melee-centric focused role, for sniping specials without the abundance of ammo or power you would get otherwise.
Inspiration for the post was messing around in the modded realm with cosmetics, and seeing that Shade can look pretty cool:
Small little rant here:
Why did Fatshark focus so much more on reworking Huntsman than some other careers? In my opinion, Shade and Pyromancer need it so much more. Huntsman already has multiple playstyles available to him, he can use all of his ranged weapons well and buffs them each in different ways, he has multiple viable melee weapons available to him, and has some good talent variation available to him, unlike the 2 careers I just mentioned. Is it because he’s not as flashy or overpowered?