Zealot - Anti-Synergy to the game design of Vermintide

The several threads in the Steam Forum and here show that Zealot has … issues. And there are always more or less two opposite groups of people where one thinks his current playstyle is okay while the other thinks it is not okay.

Personally, I belong to the second category. Don’t misunderstand I think it is okay for the Zealot to be tanky, to trade hits and to be a zealous murderer. However, I don’t think it is okay that he can do both things at the same time without much issues. His strongest builds relying on low hp simply have no real disadvantage. Why? Because he has to many safety-nets. He has high Hp, he has literally a passive which lets him avoid death and he hides behind a white wall. Legend and above this white wall will simply not decay between waves due to high frequency of ambient elites and horde spawns. It is okay if you chose Zealot for mindless playing. But it is not okay to be super-effective at the same time. He has so many advantages tied to Fiery Faith that it isn’t funny anymore and he has close to zero risk or do you actually know many players which chose Armour of Faith and/or Calloused Without and Within? No? I wonder why? Because it not needed, so nobody has to come here and tell me Zealot has a disadvantage/con because he is risky to play.

So, what to do? Personally, I would be completely okay with making THP counting again versus Fiery Faith as it was in the beginning and which was obviously his intended design. Great powerup, for low overall health. This has however been changed and the bandaid has never been removed. A compromise would be to make THP count “hald” towards Fiery Faith. But for this discussion it is not a route I want to delve in deeper.

The second possibility would be removing Heart of Iron and making it a talent in competition to Castigate. Balance-wise I think this would be a fine solution as for the mindless safety you have to sacrifice dps. But it would take away from the safe Zealot hurr durr and I have little faith to get this through the community. Also, he would only have two passives although we should not go into “but xyz has more/better passives” territory. These arguments are rarely constructive.

Third possibility would be to remove the power bonus for ranged attacks. This would be only a minor influence but it would be a start. It is also where I want to set the main idea for the thread. Instead of just flat out removing the ranged power bonus I have a more “entertaining” approach in the form of a new passive:

  • “I am missing a good name for the passive”: Victor gains a ranged power bonus of 30 % (for reasons I have yet to find out). With each stack of Fiery Faith though his ranged power will drop by 10 %.

With this set-up the Zealot would now have two conflicting buffs. Just consider it as him starting to “aim” badly the more zealous he gets. With this set-up he will have an unique playstyle where he has to consider his personal sweet-spot. Going full tank-route/green health Zealot which has less melee bonus but the ranged power bonus (contrasting to BH by less effective ammo regeneration and higher average damage instead of damage spikes)? Going middle ground to have normal ranged play but only getting half the melee bonus? Or going low on health, being the melee slasher he is right now but being penalized in range therefore? Makes him more unique and more interesting and finally he has to balance his health actually again, instead of just going the usual powerdrooling/cheese builds.

Another potential change (which is only a sidepoint of the thread) I consider concerns Heart of Iron. As I don’t think that removing it will fly with the powergaming fraction I consider only a change to the passive. Instead of outright resisting death the Zealot will gain an “Overdamage” bar which pops up if he would drop to zero or below health. The overdamage bar can be reduced simply by killing enough enemies (let’s say 10 horde enemies or three elites in 10-20 seconds, just example numbers). Consider it as some kind of blind rage which he will have to appease. If he does not manage to fulfil the criteria, the damage will take him in and he will then be downed.
What would be the effect of this change? Against hordes and larger ambient elite groups the result would be the same as with the current Heart of Iron. However, if he gets attacked by disablers he will no longer be able to mate with them for 10 seconds without consequences, he will be incapitated as he should. Also, the occasional stabby horde roamer between actual hordes will be a greater risk as the single enemy is not enough to satisfy his overdamage bar criteria. So he will actually be a tiny bit riskier between hordes.

And now I have to sleep -_-

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Interesting ideas, i’ll think some more about it. For now let me just ask you this.

How do you like the idea of zealot just having certain parts of his hp bar count towards something. For example, under 25% hp gets tanky, above 25% hp gets increased power?

Your last idea of zealot having overdamage is pretty neat. How about just having an overdamage bar, but instead of having to kill certain amount of enemies or enemy types, why not just have him be able to buffer damage taken and he will live if he can get hp back. For example, you are 1 hp and you take 25 damage, right now the counter starts, and if you are able to get 25 hp back in any shape or form, you will live. Everytime you fall below 1 hp the counter restarts.

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I’ll start with this since it is the more complicated issue. So or so, in both cases the mechanism has issues. Mainly that Zealot’s will complain about kill stealing they would need to avoid the incapitation.

Other than than, there are some differences in the nuances. Both scale well with difficulty. HP has advantage that the relation between elites/hordes/bosses are already predetermined and no new numbers have to be set. Killed enemies has the advantage that it fits the narrative of the Zealot better, in my opinion. On the “neutral” side we have the point that hp regulated make it possible to circumvent the effect by drinking a healing potion and that you have to keep avoiding more damage while being in overdamage mode. I think there is not much point in settling for one or the other at the moment. Maybe some more community feedback can help. Like said, the main problem would be the rise of complainalots due to “kill stealing” further emphasizing the running ahead style. Hp-based might make the use of thp-increasing talents and traits more necessary while number-based makes dps-increasing talents more necessary.

This comes down to the question if you would like to have a gradual change or a jump in properties. I think the latter one is problematic as it would mean a hp micromanagement on a level the game shouldnt have (micromanagement in other areas is okay) and would “enforce” numeric UI for better management and I am personally against this number addiction. Just three points friendly fire to much and you have a complete different playstyle. It makes it hard to act predictable (although one might gun for this very effect).
Therefore, I would personally prefer the gradual, predictable change as even shifting up or down a Fiery Faith stack is better manageable and leads to less complains by players (and less obscure friendly fire shenigans). I also like it better from a narrative view. Zealot is Saltzpyre’s slow decline from the level-headed and calm person (full green Health and ranged Bonus) to madness (low green health, strong melee, but less ranged power due to being overzealous) and the conflict between the two “personas” visualized by the respective buffs.

In this regard (and as you discuss jump-like change in properties) I have a question for the more technical players: Armor of Faith increases the damage reduction with each stack. However, how does the system handle attacks which shift your stack numbers from 0 to 6 for example (like eating overheads)? Does it use the damage reduction of the initial Fiery Faith stack or of the potentially reached stack? Or is it a dynamic system where the damage is fragmented into smaller bits to give each bit the respective stack (I fear superior programming could make a dynamic system exploitable for Barskin)?

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the reason why zealot is so “broken” is because of holy fortitude, its the best talent zealot has and it makes him able to be nearly invincible during the whole mission. making his less picked talents competitive after changing holy fortitude could help make more builds and playstyles for zealot. if his worse talents or “good in very few situations” dont get competitive then the issue will still remain when the next best thing becomes the onle talent that are picked on that row.

making thp affect fiery faith makes zealot a high skil low reward character where everyone is forced into using healshare or else the same complaints about how zealot can be healed and lose his stacks will happen.

unchained have have 50% dmg reduction, 50% more dmg, 15% attack speed and unlimited ammo. zealot would just be a weaker unchained that are harder to play “correctly” if thp affected fiery faith, there is also a reason why it got changed before.

Unchained was very risky to play ‘optimally’ before the new talent that got added in BBB.
We could add heart of iron to a talent, and add it in the same row as temp hp rate talent.

The more I read these Zealot threads, the more I think trying to find a sweet spot regarding health management seems to end up too much reward for too little risk, or the opposite, or simply too much micromanagement for a berserker class.

What really are Zealot’s main issues at the moment? I think it largely comes down to castigate, his anti synergy with health regen, and his ranged power. Holy fortitude is arguably problematic too, but I don’t think it’s as much of an issue without the context of the rest of his kit.

So I’m thinking:
Step 1: Make Fiery Faith only give melee power. I’m personally fine with that meaning just damage and cleave like Unchained, but I also think it would be fine if it still increased stagger since that fits pretty well with flail, which is kinda his signature weapon.

Step 2: Slightly nerf Castigate. Something like 7.5% AS under 50% health, 15% AS under 20% health.

Step 3: Put a talent on the same row as Castigate that stops health regen, possibly with some other bonus effect like slower THP decay, so you have a hard choice between Castigate and easy management of stacks when there’s regen about.

Is it perfect? No of course not, but I do think it’d be one of the neater ways to bring him in line and give him some harder talent choices, while also putting the onus on Zealot to play nice with regen, rather than demanding the rest of the team conforms with his wishes.

That would certainly help and bring him more in line:

Balance-wise, I think this is completely fine.

Yea, this has been proposed before. It is a problem with different careers. I would wish for some talent rows to have harder actual difficult choices and Castigate is currently without competition (and before anyone asks, no, buffing the other two talents is not the way to go).

However, I have to say while these suggestions are good and would work balance-wise, they have two issues. First is, that they are straight out nerfs and you know how “relaxed” the community reacts to those (nerfing Castigate? take a look at the meltdown at the Executioner thread for a more than justified nerf). Second is that Zealot is still awfully boring. It is always the hide-behind-white-wall playstyle. There is minimal variation in the choice of your doom but overall Zealot is boring to play unless you are into drooling.

Personally, I really like the idea of conflicting buffs. The one given in opening for range is just one example. You could build upon it. So, like at full green Health he is like a more tanky Version of a Witch Hunter but the more permanent health he loses, the more he descends in madness and will gain more power but lose something else (numbers are random/not final):

  • Example from opening: He starts with 30 % more ranged damage but loses 10 % per Fiery Faith Stack up to -30 %
  • He gets an even higher bonus for his melee damage but the less health he has the lower his finesse/crit multiplier will be (down to 1)

By managing his permanent health, he could vary his playstyle and how he feels, giving him something very unique over all other careers. Want to be a more finesse-based, tanky, shooter, go high. You only do body-shots anyway and don’t need finesse multipliers, go low. But it is brutally hard to balance correctly.

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Yeah you’re right, but if it was done at the same time as replacing some of his least picked talents with some more powerful, interesting options it might sweeten it enough to get it through. Don’t have any specific ideas for those right now though. I’m not personally sure myself that Castigate actually needs a nerf, it would really depend on what else about his mechanics is changed.

I kind of agree, but I’ve had a heap of fun with the move speed on fiery faith talent. In fact I think the whole fiery faith talent row is pretty good other than holy fortitude kind of just out competing the others at least on paper regarding effective health etc. Honestly if Holy Fortitude was 10% per stack I think that’d be enough to make that row very competitive.

I get a lot of people find him really boring, but I don’t think it’d take that much tweaking to give him a few distinct builds, with none of them as easy as he is currently. I personally enjoy him greatly with off meta builds. Flail or 1h axe with full move speed build is still kinda dumb I guess but it feels pretty unique and it’s more of a glass canon than his meta builds, which are just straight canon.

I get the idea, and it’s interesting on paper, but I just don’t find the idea of micromanaging your health bar any kind of fun honestly. I like that his current health management is pretty unobtrusive, I just think the end result has an out of whack dps: survivability balance. To me it’s ok (nice for variety even) to have a career or two that’s a bit dumb to play, they just shouldn’t be able to do basically everything on their own, which Zealot currently can (again, main culprit here is his range damage bonus).

Anyway, it’s been interesting to see the different ideas get floated around here. I’m an intrigued to see what will come of him in the upcoming beta. I do think it would be pretty easy to change a few things and gut him entirely, so I hope they either go for a full rework, or a series of tweaks, not some in between.

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I would like to know then what are the disadvantages of all the other careers? Because i don’t see handmaiden, mercenary, Ironbreaker, batlle wizard… having disadvantages and they are all pretty good at what they do.

With calloused within i agree, compared to the other 2 talents he’s inferior unless you are really good but i personaly used armour of faith quite a lot and i know of many who do, depends on the weapon i guess. The nerfs to damage reduction in the game might have changhed this though but this is not fault of the zealot.

I feel like you’re missing the point here. He is both very tanky and has very good damage output with both melee and ranged weapon. Few careers get both, Merc used to but with the WiO nerf and multiplicative DR that’s not really the case anymore. Zealot has no real weaknesses, and a tool for every situation on every difficulty. That’s not super healthy in a cooperative team coordination centred game like V2.

He could do to be brought in line a bit, even if it’s making his passive melee power only for now. Ideally though he’s tweaked in a way that stops putting him in conflict with regen classes.

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How about shade then, she doesn’t seem that cooperative and her invis is super broken. And BBB actualy buffed her instead of nerfing like they did with merc. But when i pointed that out a lot of people saying that it was ok since she brings no utility. Zealot brings no utility too. And to say in elf territory handmaiden has very high dps, very high mobility, very good defense i don’t understand hoe this can be fine when merc pre BBB wasn’t and zealot, now nerfed, is.

A lot of people do think Shade is broken with the new talent (I could be wrong about this though). I personally don’t feel every career has to bring team buffs or should though, and I’m fine with Zealot having only self buffs.

Handmaiden does have balancing issues as well.

I don’t really want Zealot nerfed. I do think that Zealot could be made more interactive and difficult to play and fun as a result.

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I don’t understand what other careers have to do with this thread. Do you want people to talk about every single issue in this game in 1 big thread? how does that work?

Zealot has issues, shade has issues, handmaiden has issues, every single career has issues.

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First i see only people complaining about only victor careers for some reasons. Second if you want to speak about balance of course you have to compare to other careers, if zealot can’t hold a candle to all the other options in the game he fact that you have solved all his alleged issues would count to nothing because nobody gonna pick it.

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ok but we already know that Zealot is a very strong career and one that is rather low risk->high reward

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But it by far not the strongest all the elf careers surpass him, i think even it’s the weakest of the victor careers and i would say mercenary too is still stronger tecnically. Only thing he has to compete with this careers is his survaivalbility if you remove that he becomes absolutley useless from legend up.
He has for sure low skill floor but high skill celing and this type of characters are good in a game that has so much difficulty to interest new players.

Depends on the builds you run I would say and the style you play him.
You can run a build with high damage but low damage reduction or high damage reduction but relatively low power.

Just for reference I run this build most of the time:
Sigmar’s Herald
Castigate
Enhanced Power
Holy Fortitude
Redemption through Blood
Faith’s Flurry

And that is all I need to be tanky enough but still be dishing out good DPS

I personally don’t see much use in the other talents but that is my personal view.

Let me get abit deeper into the talents that I think are subpar or mostly useless

Font of Zeal - why would anyone use that? Zealots power comes from low HP
I have seen this so many times and I think people generally are unaware of this but Zealots biggest advantage in terms of healing if you are on white health is healing somebody else with aid kit.

  1. You get out of white healths and secondly you get 5 stacks due to low HP and gain the temp HP that your current white health has which makes this talent absolutely useless.

Smite - meh I don’t know how exactly this is supposed to be useful unless you want to count every 5th hit or combine it with other characters such as WHC or Merc

Unbending Purpose - He already has enough power and the extra 5% Power isn’t going to help you reach breakpoints on cata anyway so what’s the point really.

Leaving out stagger talents on purpose since all of them might be useful to some extend

Crusade - I can see people having a use for this, instead of going full damage reduction type you can avoid hits by increasing movement speed.

The way I see it he has to much damage reduction that is abit unnecessary honestly.

Armour of Faith
Devotion
Calloused Without and Within
Heart of Iron
Feel Nothing

5 damage reduction talents is abit overkill if you ask me but again I haven’t seen a single post that would suggest a reasonable replacement for these.

My stance on Zealot is simply this, he is supposed to be a high DPS class and excels at that.
If you would like to make a good comparison I think Slayer would be a good one.
Although Slayer has no ranged weapon except Throwing Axes that are limited in range and height.

Slayer is unarguably less tanky than Zealot but then again Slayer has less damage reduction overall.

I think Heart of Iron could use a higher cooldown, something like 120 seconds. Either this or make it dependent on another talent that would procc this instead of the cooldown.
For example X amount of enemies slain or X amount of time without damage taken in order to procc Heart of Iron.

I would like to see the redundant amounts of damage reduction replaced with somethin else.
I do not think a complete Overhaul would do Zealot any good in terms of playability.

Feel Nothing could be replaced with something like AOE Stagger on ulting - shouldn’t be as high as anyother stagger ults like Slayer, WHC or Merc, just a slight AOE Stagger increase.
What if he could choose to do higher stagger AOE but it comes with a price.
For example you can choose to fill a bar with the amount of stagger the ULT does but you pay tHP for that (Say Stagger 1 for 25% tHP loss, Stagger 2 for 50% tHP loss and Stagger 3 for 75% tHP Loss)

Font of Zeal should be replaced with healing your teammate heals every nearby Ally by 30% of their max health for example and Zealot gets 30% HP regenerated into tHP (don’t quote me on that, just a thougt

Although I love Castigate I can see this being a bit overkill, since he already has Holy Fervour and in combination with Flagellant’s Zeal or even less, just Cooldown Reduction on Trinket is enough AS for Zealot I feel.

If anyone can tell me a good replacement for those damage reduction talents I mentioned earlier, I am all ears.

could just slap in a talent that converts green hp gains to temp

Could do that but this would cement his EGO style of play even further instead of somewhat making him a team oriented character with healing others you atleast shift him abit more into that role.

I can already see people complaining about Zealot being the new Elf (stereotypical that Elf steals every healing on the map yada yada yada)

why are you writing something about builds? you don’t know how to play the cataclysm.
You offer bad ideas you look for a problem in talents but the problem is in weapons. at the moment Victor is not a meta character who can do something with a critical mass of opponents

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