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TOPIC: Build Diversity

Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #1

  • Raven
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I’m a little concerned that this will turn into a long thread of, “Proposed UR insert-name is too weak/OP and here is how I want it changed!” so let me preface my post by saying my intent is to talk about design principles, not specifics. That said, I’m sure specific example will come up.

I saw a post which contained the phrase: “The recent iterations of the proposed token put all these limitations on players. Lets give the build diversity!“ (h/t to Justice for getting my brain going on this thought) So I figured we could get a good discussion going about what Build Diversity means, and how to encourage it.

Build diversity - to me - means that there’s multiple paths to the same effect, OR, multiple paths to different but equally strong/functional effects.

I’ve also seen the phrase used in situations where I think the poster means “Letting everyone have access to cool tokens instead of forcing new players / financially constrained players to use second-rate tokens”
“Giving lots of slots and tons of different powerful tokens to put in them”

Those both might be giving people choices, but neither leads to build diversity. Diversity actually comes from *limiting* choices.

Think about it this way: if every single token was available for mere pennies a piece, to every player new or old, then we’d have virtually no build diversity. Everyone would min-max for the “Best” Monk, or ”Best” Ranged Ranger or “Best” Melee Ranger. Some folks might say, “I’m an accurate slider so I value +Dam over +ToHit” but that would only affect a couple tokens, most of the time.

Limiting choices means things like:

Player A wasn’t around when the +1 Mighy Shortbow was released, so they picked up a crossbow instead. Now they are interested in tokens which enhance Dex and Ranged Damage. Player B with the Mighty Shortbow focuses on collecting Str tokens to boost their damage, but also Ranged ToHit tokens because their Dex is kinda low. Both paths can lead to an effective Ranged fighter but the builds are different, because different tokens were available when they started.

Limits can be financial. Player C could have the cash to invest in the Rogue Relic necklace, and can Sneak Sttack without delay. Player D may choose a Rare build, and thus need to consider either Hood of Elvenkind or Boots of Elvenkind for the same effect. Obviously Player C has the advantage and greater flexibility, but Player F could still make a very viable build using Rares & the Whetstone.

The question is, how can we provide the alternative choices for those builds in such a way that folks don’t feel they’re being left with someone’s poorly thought crap.

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Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #2

To me we should be looking at different ways to have fun with TD -- ways to make the classes playable in different fun ways. I know many here just worry about the numbers -- but we should only worry about not letting them creep out-of-control. Too much time is spent worrying about which class can do more damage. This is a game. It is fun, very fun. I love it. We need more things like the Ro7P classes and combat wizards and armor-less barbarians (Jerry).

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Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #3

I prefer Hardcore because I can run a ton of different builds without being too powerful for Normal and too weak for ... Epic (NM hasn't been that threatening to me in recent runs).

But, I always care far more about variety than I do effectiveness. Those who care far more about effectiveness than I are going to want to have the various alternative options to be roughly as good as each other, which is not easy. But, there are those in between. There are those who run polymorph builds that are beatings but not optimal beatings as a compromise between effectiveness and variety, for example.

I could see an environment where melee ranger and ranged ranger were just about equally effective at murdering poor hapless undead. But, for someone like me, neither is all that important and I'd rather work on my ranger spellcaster build, which should not remotely be as good as a build intended for effectiveness as it blurs class differences (as opposed to any other reason).

If you look at RoSP cleric, paladin, wizard (and others?), they are all more offense oriented. Sorcerer, for instance, has no spells that do anything besides damage, which sounded awesome up until the point I played with Charm of Spell Swapping and got pretty bored MMIng repeatedly. Anyway, for some, offense/defense adjustment is sufficiently interesting, my friend who used to play cleric all of the time likes the RoSP cleric, in theory (he's played it once).

Melee v range. Spell v not spell. Support v damage output. Offense v defense. Defense v other defense, e.g. saves v AC. These are all common ways to vary but still not be doing different stuff just for the sake of doing different stuff.

I like that Ring of Soothing Touch is uncommon. I don't like that it doesn't really cause someone with a bunch of URs to change towards playing healbot paladin. Though, actually, for me, it kind of does as long as I don't have to "optimize" slots.

The reality is that we have build diversity up to a point just because the difficulty levels don't force one specific build. May have expectations when hopping on other people's runs, but can always buy out your own run and force everyone into Greedy Slotless. The perception of diversity isn't so strong because there are ways to increase numbers in the game. It's the tyranny of numbers. It's hard to say whether some text ability is better than a number or not or better than another text ability or not.

How good is Cloak of Blending? One of my first forum posts was about it. Low value token, but it does something different and has highly varying value by class. I'd rather see more Cloaks of Blending. More number tokens are too easy to analyze.

Finally, one of the issues with diversity is that different classes are still mostly doing the same things. Rogue has boxes. Cleric and druid have healing. Bard has lore. But, the others mostly just either directly or indirectly contribute to doing more damage, as the monsters have this problem that they are grossly outnumbered and only certain types of monster tricks even really matter to the party.

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Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #4

I don't have the answers, but I think you're asking the right questions, and more importantly, asking them at the right time: shortly before a character card reboot.

I see two big techniques for shaping meaningful choices:

1. Have a few clearly designed build paths for each class (2?) - Druid is a good case study in this today, as they have both a melee/polymorph build angle and a spell caster angle.

This would be embodied hopefully by some mechanics on the character card that make it clear there are two paths or endpoints.

2. Then provide token support for the two different paths, with a master plan of what effects go in what slots to ensure you can't just build both paths.

Example, suppose the next version of the Rogue has two build paths:

Backstabbing Bravo (melee/STR)
Skulking Sniper (ranged/DEX)

Then make a token design master plan that says something like:

Melee to-hit boosters are:
- Primarily found in Hands, Mainhand, Waist
- Occasionally found in head, neck

Melee to-damage booster as:
- Primarily found in Ring
- Occasionally found in Bracer, Charm

And then make sure that the Ranged master token slots conflict - perhaps the Ranged to-hit boosters primarily show up where the melee to-damage boosters go, etc.

One problem with this approach is that there are STR/melee damage boosters everywhere already, so it's difficult to force choices - it might be an insurmountable difficulty with this approach.

Maybe the new character cards could help with this by just limiting the STR you'd want in your build:

Skulking Sniper: If you equip 1 or fewer STR boosting items, you may critical with ranged attacks.
Backstabbing Bravo: If your DEX is less than 20, you may sneak attack without one round delay.

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Last edit: by Matthew Hayward.

Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #5

Build Diversity to me: At a given Build tier (Rare and Under, UR and Under, Relic and Under, Best in Slot) there are multiple different token selections and paths to building a character. These choices should not be constrained by budget. I am including the most recent 2020 URs in this discussion.

Build Diversity comes in 2 different ways. Different ways to play a class, and different tokens for the same direction of a class

Example of Different ways to play a class
The Druid can go with a Polymorph build or a spell damage build. If they go Polymorph, they might take Gloves of the Brute in the hand slot. If they go spell damage, they might take Blessed Tempest Gloves in the slot. We now have high level variety in druid builds due to 2 separate paths. However, this doesn't get us far enough, because with "poor" token design we may have to optimal builds at each level - one from Poly and one for Spell.

That brings us to:

Example of "different tokens for same direction of a class" Lets say the direction is Melee damage from above:

In the wrist slot, we have Arcane Bracers and Charm Bracelets and Bracers of Guided Strike. For various reasons someone might choose to go with any one of these 3. These kind of choices yield build diversity at the UR and under level and money is irrelevant to the discussion.

In the hand slot, we have gloves of weapon finesse, gauntlets of linked fury, mithral gauntlets, gloves of the flying fist, and gloves of the brute. All 3 of these give build diversity for melee characters and each has different pros and cons, and money is irrelevant to the discussion.

We want to have as many of these decisions available in each slot.

What we do NOT want (poor build diversity):
+4 damage UR bracers. These will only be taken by people at the UR and under tier that cannot afford to take the more damaging path of Charm Bracelets + draco litch charm + charm of glory + Ring of the Eel

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Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #6

Subclasses (My favorite "Lobby For" topic) would offer a nice way of having two different builds using mostly the same tokens of the same character classes. Some +/- abilities may in fact work better with them and allow a little more freedom to not be so locked certain tokens mixing it up.
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Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #7

Or, we just encourage people to just have fun building weird characters... I built this "deRanged Wizard" which I'm going to play at Gencon:


We don't always have to run BIS builds. Maybe we just need an incentive to vary it up. +1 Treasure if your build makes the Coach laugh.

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Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #8

I think I covered it in other threads so forgive me for sounding like a broken record.

When we have strong tokens with disadvantages they provide questions. Is +5 strength better with -2 dex, or is +4 better? I know you have an answer for that, this time my question is hypothetical. What if the 4 had retribution damage or was part of a set? These character questions make for slightly different builds. I’m not even sure this is build diversity though.

Ranged rogue vs melee rogue 🥳 this like the ranger are maybe the more diverse classes.

Monk and Barbarian I actually believe are the least diverse classes. Shield “sleaze” on the Barbarian and strength gloves or GotFF for the monk seem to be the only real questions.

The only other way I could see build diversity introduced would be tokens with questions or a new element in the game, a way to talk your way past an encounter with dice or flipping tokens or something.

On the token side, maybe a set of three tokens each with -1 con, and a set bonus that gave +3 con and may recast a first level spell. If the tokens provide enough goodness on their own, or opportunities someone might see a -1 con as a valid hit. If they were powerful enough two of the three might be worth taking even if you own all three tokens because -5 hp and -1 fort is worth 10 extra tokens a run, or 5 additional iounstones, or a class played less than 200 times a year. Build questions like is a neck slot or a head slot more important to give up for 2 damage isn’t a question, both slots for 4 please. Is +8 damage and -2 ac on a torso slot a question if you’re limited to 0 retribution damage? What if it had +3 to saves also? Is it armor? If we play a game with something like that do we limit it to melee and give access to everyone or is it all damage and just give access to people who normally fire from range? These questions, these build diversity of build. Is fire or ice better, the questions continue.

On the “new elements” part of the game. If I could charisma attack past an enemy with my “whit” weapon, there would be new builds. If I could “reason” Weapon with my wisdom and do a lesser damage than HP, like a heart of an automaton a few years back, a different build might come out. If ranged damage stacked anything like melee, so a barbarian with a javelin stack build, or a monk with 80 shuriken build was anywhere close to the same damage, you might see those. Even ranged rogues are rare. Card development might solve this, maybe there will be a “second” of all classes that can be chosen by 3rd level players. Maybe “skills” or secondary encounter options are a thing “with half it’s hit points gone and a natural 20 on persuasion from the barbarian with a charisma score of 22, the evil fey thinks better of continuing the fight and let’s you pass.” The bards are going to be furious I didn’t call on them in that example. If it’s only damage and hits though, especially if there are not questions provided by the tokens themselves, it’s turtles or turtwigs all the way down.

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Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #9

Raven wrote: If every single token was available for mere pennies a piece, to every player new or old, then we’d have virtually no build diversity.

In practice this is probably true, but it's interesting to think about how we could (hypothetically) make it false.

What if the tokens could be so evenly balanced that, even having easy access to all of them, there would still be many paths to different but equally strong/functional effects? (or to different but equally fun effects, as Beertram suggests?)

Diversity actually comes from *limiting* choices.


From a design perspective I find in-game limits more interesting than external limits (i.e. money and when you started playing), and the biggest in-game constraint is of course slots. Slots force us to choose between (hopefully) a variety of comparably good options. BIS tokens, slot expanders, and slotless tokens all tend to reduce build diversity. FWIW I'm glad to see more of the slot expanders being capped so we can't just equip all of them, this helps. Today's BIS tokens can be addressed over time by creating other tokens to challenge them, and I hope this happens. Slotless tokens are public enemy #1 in this context.

Of course, in the real world TD needs to make money by selling tokens, so there will also continue to be financial constraints depending on whether your budget supports Rares, URs, Relics, or Legendaries. But IMO we can still aim to reduce the impact of when-you-started-playing constraints within each rarity/budgetary level by (1) reprinting great OOP tokens and/or (2) printing comparable new tokens good enough that some people will offer the OOP's for trade, making them broadly available again (but of course this doesn't work so well if the OOP and the new token can be used together). On that note, I hope someday TPTB decide that it's acceptable to reprint transmutes.
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Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #10

Matthew Hayward wrote: Example, suppose the next version of the Rogue has two build paths:

Backstabbing Bravo (melee/STR)
Skulking Sniper (ranged/DEX)

I feel like focusing on melee vs ranged limits us more than we should, and keeps us stuck on the numbers. This isn't directed just at Matt, but this was a handy quote to pull.

Why not explore other spaces? Flanking is underused by many rogues I see, why not expand on it? How about a token that lets you use a second puck when you flank? Or that provides some bonus to pucks touching yours when you flank?

Dwarf fighter has gotten some expansion to taunting, but none of it requires a standard action, so they still just swing at the monsters on their turn. How about a token that lets the Dwarf spend their standard action taunting, allowing them to force ranged attackers to target them? With the 2020 uncommon, I kinda want to build a retribution and healing Dwarf using the Ro7P class, but my standard action is still going to be "swing at monster" (and I can only try out that build once a year).

As a counter-example, look at the Druid. On their turn, they can make a ranged attack, make a melee attack, make a polymorph attack, cast an attack spell, cast a heal spell, or cast a buff spell. And there are tokens that might help each of those in different ways and tradeoffs to make depending on what you want to do. Or at least we could force some trade-offs.

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Last edit: by Fiddy.

Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #11

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I think of Build Diversity as more important across the different classes.

For example, I just counted, my personal Barbarian and Fighter builds have 31 out of 34 (91%) tokens the same, not counting slotless. There's something that doesn't feel right about that. Sure, I could make them more different on purpose, but I'm also trying to optimize.

How about Barbarian vs Wizard... still 17 out of 35! Almost half!

The problem in my opinion is that there are too many tokens in TD that are All Class. If more class restrictions were added on strong tokens over time, it would lead to more diversity. I guess that goes to your point Raven: "Diversity actually comes from *limiting* choices."

Let's look at the 2020 proposed URs as an example. How many could conceivably be used on Any/Every class in SOME situation... by my count 13 out of 20. That's a lot. And only 4 of 20 actually have a printed class restriction on the token.

It's much too late to change anything for 2020 but I would love to see in 2021, 10 of the URs are for ONE specific class. It would be a good year to try it too because most of the tokens sales will be for Platinum Nuggets anyway so hopefully it wouldn't hurt sales.

The Class Relic/Legendaries are helping this but they would have been even better if they were spread around. Most of the classes getting an amulet means that yeah, the Neck slot is more diverse but if they were more spread around that would affect more different slots. Also the Eldritch/Arcanum set tokens being desirable by everyone hurt diversity too but I'm not sure there's a good solution for those.

Final point, anyone tried making a Melee Wizard lately? I need to update mine. Last time I did it, it was pretty ridiculous how much STR/melee stats I could stack up. And it's going to get worse. I mean, they can use a 2H staff and Bracers of Reckless Fury if they want.
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Last edit: by Reap. Reason: a word

Build Diversity 4 years 8 months ago #12

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macXdmg wrote:
Monk and Barbarian I actually believe are the least diverse classes. Shield “sleaze” on the Barbarian and strength gloves or GotFF for the monk seem to be the only real questions.


You would be surprised. This Monk doesn't use Stu's or Valhalla (already a choice, AC and Reflex or HP and Fort), because I would rather have +2 Darkrift and +1 to saves/reroll on ones plus one more utility charm slot to play with (though that is because I don't have the Greater Onyx Charm).
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