Stagger talents, crit/headshot stagger nerf, and the resulting buff to Smiter/Assassin

Relevant patch note:

  • Headshots and Critical Strikes now longer automatically apply a light stagger to enemies.

In 2.0 as part of the overhaul to the stagger system a feature was implemented that allowed any weapon to lightly stagger any non-monster level enemy with a headshot or critical hit. This premiered fast weapons and attackspeed where they could outshine heavier slower weapons in their crowd control capacity. This now functions the same as before patch 2.0.

I get the thought process here. Smaller weapons had more opportunities to stagger more, and were thus making use of the stagger system more due to headshots and crits. Get rid of that, and bigger, slower weapons are buffed, yeah?

Ehhhhhhhhh. The real result is that this made the Smiter and Assassin talents even stronger than they already were (and they were the strongest picks by a huge margin). This change incentivizes bypassing the stagger system more than you already are, which is exactly what those two talents are designed to do. On elites (and potentially some infantry units, pending difficulty and the weapon in question, pushing aside, which is not always sustainable), smaller weapons will no longer be able to access the stagger system that previously they could. The result is a direct nerf to anyone using a smaller who does not have access to those two talents to.

And for reference, the three characters that don’t have either Smiter or Assassin are Foot Knight, Ranger Veteran, and Unchained. That means that they have all just received a notable damage nerf and/or weapon restriction - a notable decrease in their ability to deal with elites.

Previously, they could at least get a stagger state via crits/headshots, and so you weren’t penalized as much and could at least say, “Hey, at least my shitty stagger talent is doing something for me.”
Now, if those three classes aren’t using a smaller weapon that innately staggers, their stagger talent is even more worthless than it was previously.

This change highlights the importance of Smiter/Assassin, the imbalance between those two talents and Mainstay/Bulwark (specifically, that they’re… not in a good place), and that the stagger talents very much need a looking at.


Riposte is ruined!
They need to at least buff it’s stagger strength.

Actually, maybe this will make Riposte better since less stagger means more ripostes. I’ll test how this plays out in practice.

Edit: Nope it’s terrible. They nerfed Riposte. I can’t believe it. I hope they revert this change. I regret ever supporting the idea. I take back my post about altering flinch. I take it back!

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Haha that came back to bite you :stuck_out_tongue:

Serious questions though, this rapier you testing with? Are crit headshots still enough to stagger most elites reliably? Or is it just not possible with light weapons anymore?

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I tested it on the Beast weaves where enemies are immune to Killing Shot for some reason. It does not stagger anything, even with crit headshots with any of the Rapier’s melee attacks. I also tested it in Adventure mode and again crit headshots fail to stagger anything they don’t already kill. The crit pushes don’t stagger.

The main utility of Riposte against multiple elites was the crit stagger from the push. Without this, Riposte no longer even has a defensive niche.

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I get where they got the idea for the change, but if a headshot does not make an enemy flinch, the stagger system becomes even less counterintuitive.

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Interesting. Do you think stacking power Vs or opportunist (irrelevant to riposte right now I know since you need parry) could get the stagger back on crit pushes?

Maybe if they included parry in Riposte like you suggested, you could run Opportunist and have the same net effect?

Maybe, but then the Rapier would be too slow to make the Riposte safe. I’ll test it.

Yeah I run it with Swift Slaying. Parry is nice but with 60% BCR the Rapier can already take two CW overheads. I’d still like Riposte to have Parry, because Saltz’ other weapons need it for Riposte to work.

Test results: It takes 20% power and Opportunist to stagger SV. For Maulers it also takes 20% power. To cover both it requires Enhanced Power. It cannot stagger Bestigors or Chaos Warriors. This severely lowers melee dps and means with Riposte the WHC player will be forced to Riposte every enemy.

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Oh so my assumption that you ran parry with it was incorrect then?

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I see. Well if they added an attack speed boost for a few seconds to Riposte, and Opportunist is enough to get the stagger back, that might be a relatively easy fix to preserve this talent.

Maybe I’m off base here but wasn’t the main issue people had with this about flinching chaos warriors? Why not revert this change and only apply it to chaos warriors, since people seem to be horribly offended by chaos warriors getting cyber bullied.

Amen brother.

The other thing, that I didn’t mention in my initial post, that this change does is to devalue headshots.

Even after sleeping on it, this change frustrates me and feels as though it wasn’t thought out.


I wish the stagger talents would have been balanced properly instead of this change.
It’s possible that if Bulwark/Mainstay weren’t trash, the devs might not have felt the need to nerf fast attacking weapons.

Absolutely, and that’s why I added that last bit to my post (which you initially quoted). The current best (and especially so now) strategy to deal with the stagger system is to simply… not deal with it, which means running Smiter/Assassin. And the result of that is that the 3 classes who don’t have it (FK/RV/UC) are left wondering why they’re at the kids’ table.

This change is fine in theory, but the implementation is awful. At best, it should have come after a significant rework to the talents to bring Bulwark and Mainstay up to the level of the other two (and make no mistake, they both need a significant buff to be relevant, as they’re both awful).


Not really. Bulwark/Mainstay are offense talents which are there to increase your damage. The change to by-passing stagger resistance has been made for defense reasons. Because by coughing at elites you decreased their potential to damage you. So no matter how strong these talents are, it would have not influence this decision.

All this change does is that you actually have to pay attention to positioning and when to dodge, it does not emphasize more defensive play. And it actually makes elite a bit more threatening. If you get three elites surrounding you, it should be “Oh ****!” and not “Come, die !”

I agree with OP that Smiter and Assassins are to strong. They have never been adjusted from WoM Beta 1 to 2 which is an issue that should be solved now. Their bonus should be halfed and the talents would be a bit more balanced.

Honestly, I think Mainstay and Bulwark need buffing, because as it stands, they’re pretty worthless. Perhaps a combination of buffing them and nerfing Smiter/Assassin, but right now, the whole system (or at the very least, the talents surrounding them) needs a fair amount of work. Even combining Bulwark and Mainstay into one talent would only make them almost competitive with Smiter and Assassin.


You can’t buff Bulwark and Mainstay without completely changing how they work because enemies simply don’t have enough health for this. Like I said, the issue was the health reduction of the enemies which created this misbalance. So, the only other option would be removing them out of the game which would be stupid because they still have niche applications.

The other two talents should first be brought to the level they were initially intended.

Bulwark is worthless. Mainstay had a niche with high stagger weapons like shields due to their anti armour combos being tied to a high stagger push. Mainstay worked on UC with the Flail for the same reason. Assassin just needs to not work on bodyshot crits.

I also have found avoiding the system to be the most consistent. I choose assassin on every class I can, and then enhanced power on the rest. Things die immediately on an assassin character, and using EP gives me a noticeable boost to push/stagger, cleave, and range breakpoints, while having little performance difference in damage. It’s screwed.

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