The Tip.It Times

Issue 25199gp

Magic Update: A Balance Mistake

Written by and edited by Kaida23

After the most recent update, magic damage is now capped by your weapon level, regardless of your current Magic level or spell level. We can only assume that Jagex made this choice to bring Magic "back in line" with Ranged and Melee. Unfortunately, that was a grave mistake and demonstrated poor understanding of balance. Balance is an art. Balance is not about brute-forcing numbers until A = B = C. If you make perfect balance your only goal, the only solution is a stale, perfectly-symmetrical system where all three sides are inextinguishable from one another. Perfect symmetry is stale and boring, why not just do away with the combat triangle and just have one combat style instead?

Take a look outside our MMO-walled garden, and you'll see no other video game has achieved balance perfection more so than StarCraft. What did Blizzard change in StarCraft from WarCraft II that allowed it to spawn an billion-dollar E-sports industry? The answer is asymmetrical balance.

In Warcraft II, you have two races—Orcs and Humans. The game was good for its day, but ultimately stale, because the two races were mirror images of one another. Orcs were just humans in another skin. StarCraft introduced a third race but, more importantly, allowed each race to behave and play completely differently from the others. No two units have the same health, DPS, or spawn time. Yet the game was balanced so well that, despite decades of professional play, no one race was overwhelmingly more powerful than another.

Prior to the most recent update, magic damage was a function of weapon level, Magic level, and spell level, which allowed it to deliver higher DPS in some circumstances. This does not mean Magic was overpowered, because each combat style had its own niche in game:

Ranged - PvP. Lack of melee PvPers means Ranged holds a distinct advantage.
Magic- Low level PvM. Low up-front cost (Weapon) but high rune expense.
Melee- Boss PvM. Boss defence means weapon accuracy is vital.

Unlike the more vocal RuneScape players, I have been one of the silent masses that supports EoC. I agree with Jagex that EoC was a necessary reboot to RuneScape combat, which had suffered through a decade of stagnation. EoC can do better, but the most recent update was a mistake. A mistake that follows an improper philosophy on what constitutes balance. Balance doesn't come just from the numbers, but from how the players react to the combat system and take advantage of each side.

EoC has finally reached a stage in the past few months, where players have found unique niches for each combat style. The combat triangle was balanced because each side of the triangle has its uses. To upset that now, just because the numbers don't match up, is vain and misguided.

Do you have any thoughts or comments about this week's articles? Want to discuss these articles with your fellow RuneScapers? We invite you to discuss them in this forum topic.

Tags: Combat Recent Updates

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