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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nausica: Revolutionizing Pirate101 PvP


Nausica, oh Nausica... What can I say? This companion has forever changed Pirate101 - it completely alters our concept of Musketeers in more ways than one and has sparked major controversy for Pirate101 Central tournaments. Sheldon did some great coverage of her HERE. This is my analysis and what I have to say.

The dominant classes in PvP are widely agreed upon - Privateers, Witchdoctors, and Musketeers, if not always in that order. If Witchdoctors had their ranged turned down just a bit, they might not be so powerful. The Buccaneer class got Reckless Frenzy (which was an over-correction and mistake) but is otherwise lacking. Swashbucklers have a good line-up of powers, I suppose. Musketeers have traps and range. Privateers have their variety of power-ups that leave companions invulnerable to other companions.

Nausica, I suppose, is KingsIsle's way of keeping Musketeer players in check. She can get Quick Adjust, Burst Fire 2, and True Grit 3. That's already a deadly combo against a character with Quick Draw 2. Add in three criticals and a charge and she's something to be feared by all ranged units. Never before has a Musketeer had any sort of charge power - it has always been Buccaneers. Additionally, her charge and criticals allow her to move and hit, a concept never introduced to Musks either.

She's definitely something new. And so, with Pirate101 Central wanting to keep their tournaments fair and balanced, she came into question.


Bundle Companions... Pay-to-Win?

The first concern with Nausica is that she's a companion from a bundle... not everyone has the money to buy bundles, so that's not fair to give them an advantage, right? Sure. What about Crown Shop companions - those are very common and not much different than bundles. They're allowed, right?

And how about gear? Time is money and while some people are lacking one, others lack the other. Without a fair amount of farming time, how can gear that's so rare and tough to obtain be allowed? I can barely make it through the storyline in time for new content let alone farm for the items I want. I dispelled the whole argument quickly.

Power Level in Question

Now the real question came into play - is Nausica just overpowered? And if she is, should she be banned from PvP, or should restrictions be placed on her? One of the main concerns was her charge. My response to that is this:

  • Her charge can't be used on round 1 anyway - it won't reach more than boxes
  • Her charge can be countered by moving the corner - this takes only one round and was confirmed to work in one of my tests today
  • Her charge can be counter by Witchdoctor abilities available on gear to most or all classes
  • Her charge can be prevented or discouraged with traps, available to be trained by all classes
  • Her charge can be minimized by using protection powers (extremely common in PvP)
  • Her charge can be blocked by companions or even pets with Hold the Line

Not only that, but I also demonstrated several times today that isolated companions simply don't do well, even with protection.


Testing Begins

I'd been testing for some time already, but really sit down today for some lengthy matches against Central opponents (of which I've done many, both for ladders and for fun). In the match pictured above, my use of Nausica is followed by his charge of Goronado... against me and three of my companions. Goronado had a 50% shield and is already a Buccaneer. And yet, three of us took him out in a single round. Nausica isn't immune to such attacks that could easily take her out as well. 

Against Musketeer characters, she is indeed powerful, though in the case above, Lucas was clever enough to place Bonnie such that her Overwatch would cause her to get all of the Burst Fires and True Grits, and not him, the pirate. Unfortunately, Nausica took out a few units... leading me to the conclusion that she is, in fact, overpowered against Musketeer characters (though not necessarily as much so against units without Quick Draw or some return attack). My original proposal, then, was this: 

  • Nausica cannot use her Centaur's Charge on the first or second round (first/second round of the pirate, so even if you're going second, you cannot use that ability until your third turn)
  • No shielding is permitted on Nausica, including Privateer team buffs to resistance/armor
  • If Nausica is being used, it must be announced before the start of the match (before the sigil timer gets to zero, otherwise the use of Nausica may be grounds for disqualification/loss for that match) to allow the opponent to plan accordingly

Continued Testing Leads to a New Discovery

I tested Nausica against several different classes and several different styles. I won a few times against Musketeers, and Nausica performed well against other Musketeers in battle, but something was different. I let people know that I was using Nausica, and instead of the seemingly common Toro, Zeena, and Bonnie combo, at least one of the Musks was swapped for a melee companion, if not both. 

Additionally, everyone went into panic mode to take her out as quickly as possible. Even before the pirate. That's absolutely huge. You can win a match with one pirate against three companions, so to go for a companion first speaks wonders. This is apparently new mindset players have acquired, largely based on hearsay. People are told of the legendary and dangerous Nausica, and try to take her out because she looks so great on paper, never actually observing the effects in real PvP matches... or at least not taking advantage of those effects themselves.   

And then it occured to me that Nausica would, as KingsIsle likely intended, forever change PvP. I've constantly said in this debate that Musketeers have always had a presence in PvP but not the dominance that they do now (that's in reference to companions of that class more than anything). And now, the age of Musketeers / Musketeer companions is fading swiftly. Probably rightfully so. 

It seems like Nausica is overkill, but she's a correction - something to balance PvP, not give advantages in it. And so, even if she stayed, people would still be afraid and take her out first anyway. And even if she went, people would be using fewer Musketeer companions.


Non-Musketeers - No Threat?

The photo above is another of my matches. There are two birds up above that got cut out, which is why Bonnie and Zeena are going to safety. I am using a protection on Nausica, who is charging to activate Bonnie's Overwatch and attack the Witchdoctor player.  During this testing period, I realized that against normal companions and characters, Nausica is no better than Goronado. True Grit 3 becomes useless. She's got Burst 2, but Goronado has Relentless 2. Plus he's a damage-eating Buccaneer with and AoE and the same charge ability, except his does 50% extra damage and reduces accuracy by 50%, which is huge. Plus, Goronado's melee is used by 3/5 unit types, where as the ranged damage is used by 1/5.

Nausica, against non-Muskeeters, just wasn't much of a threat. At least not more so than other top-level companions. And didn't all of these companions have other unit types that they were designed to be strong against?

"The List" Returns

My list was largely criticized as being too complicated or too much and unfair to Privateers and their buffs. I actually had some reasoning behind that - didn't we say that Privs and Musks were at the top of PvP? I saw their reasoning, however, and so I compiled a new, updated list of recommendations:

  • Nausica cannot use her Centaur's Charge on the first or second round (...first/second round of the pirate, so even if you're going second, you cannot use that ability until your third turn. This is likely impossible anyway with her range.)
  • No shielding is permitted on Nausica, including Privateer fortress-type shields, but not team buffs (These are universal to everyone anyway)
  • If Nausica is being used, it must be announced before the start of the match (before the sigil timer gets to zero, otherwise the use of Nausica may be grounds for disqualification/loss for that match) to allow the opponent to plan accordingly.
  • Bonnie's heal may not be used on Nausica (So Nausica cannot be healed... or if she is, you have to move in close, which negates the charge as it stands)

Why so many specifications? Because the arena is fun when it's challenging. And challenge shouldn't come through higher numbers and using the same companions just to balance out the opponent (I'm looking at you, El Toro and Bonnie). Nausica offers us some diversity, and just because people are raising red flags because it's not something they're comfortable with, we shouldn't ban Nausica from these Pirate101 Central tournaments. It sets an unhealthy precedent of seeing something new without any time to adapt at all and simply banning it.

A Conclusion?

We don't yet know what'll become of Nausica in PvP or in Pirate101 Central tournaments... what do you think of Nausica?

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

3 comments:

  1. I really like Nausica, but I never noticed how powerful she truely was. My brother has her and I think she's a good assest to Musketeers. I think you've raised a lot of good points.

    What upsets me though is that Nausica is a Bundle Companion, right? Well, why are all the other Bundle Companions (Cat Pirate, Shark Pirate, and Handsome Dan) so weak? Why is Nausica this huge outlier compared to them? All the other Bundle Companions were on equal and fair ground until her arrival. I would like to see KI consider increasing the power of the 3 above mentioned Companions rather than nerf Nausica. But something tells me all Bundle Companions from Nausica forward will be these massive powerhouses. And the only class yet to recieve a bundle after them...is the Witchdoctor O.o Could you imagine that?

    P.S.- I've been trying to keep up with your Calender Contest and it seems like the images are coming irregularly. Like I think there wasn't a new one for the 4th or 5th and the 12th was up for 3 days. Then I entered earlier today under what was the 12th image only for the 15th image to come up tonight. It's all really confusing sometimes.

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    Replies
    1. Hey! Good points.

      For the calendar, there is no automated system I can manage. I manually edit the form and the site each day. Some days bring unexpected events or otherwise prevent me from changing it at a certain time.

      The contest if pretty simple, though - each object has a number with it. If you're entered for that number, you're good. If not, go ahead and do it. If I am running late one day or miss a day, it affects everyone's entries, so no single person is losing out; everyone who comes still has an equal chance of winning. I can't be perfect with it, but I'm definitely trying and appreciate your patience through some... issues. :)

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    2. OK. Thank you.

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