A proposal on how to rebalance skills

As far as I’m aware, there have been two basic approaches to dealing with the various OP skills combos:

  • Nerfing some skills (what was done in the patch), or

  • Suggesting cooldowns or other global limits on all skill use, such as incremental WP costs or hard per turn limits.

Nerfing skills means that some players are unhappy because skills get nerfed, others are unhappy because they didn’t get nerfed enough, and yet others because the wrong skills got nerfed (or others didn’t). See endless discussions on the dash nerf for illustration.

The idea of global limits on skill use makes so many players unhappy that perhaps it can only be implemented as an optional setting.

What I suggest as an alternative is to establish a set of global rules on how the skills are implemented and how they can be used. Most of these rules have been suggested or hinted at in various posts and others can be thought of. Some of these rules wound be implemented via changes to specific skills, others through setting hard limits on certain parameters. So it’s a combination of both approaches but aimed specifically at curbing excesses without fundamentally altering how the game is played.

For example, rule n°1 is “No damage without AP cost during the Player’s turn”. This requires adding an AP cost to any skill that allows to do damage, which has already been done with mindcrash and mind control. Further implementation would be to establish that Quick Aim can’t reduce cost of firing below 1 AP.

Rule n°2 is “APs, even with refunds, must be limited”. Rapid clearance and rally the troops can be used to refund very large number of APs. To implement this rule one option would be to set hard limits on the use of these skills. For example, limit RC to a certain number of kills and RtT to a certain number of uses per squad. Another option would be to establish that each soldier has a maximum number of APs per turn, that can’t be exceeded even through refunds, e.g. 10 APs. Or perhaps depending on their characteristics of strength, willpower and speed.

Rule n°3 is “Cap the buffs: Stacked damage buffs can’t exceed 100%, Stealth can’t exceed 85%, Accuracy buffs can’t exceed 50%, electric protection can’t stack at all”. This would address exploitive builds and combos where third skill row damage buffs combine with bloodlust with marked for death with stealth x2 buff.

Ah, right the disclaimer that difficulty needs to be balanced too, yada yada yada.


A lot of this makes very much sense, Stealth absolutely needs a cap I think we can all agree on… atm I feel that stealth is the most exploitative mechanic right now. I even like the 85% mark as a cap tbh! A few other players may differ on what the cap should be… but as of right now Thief infiltrators are just silly!

Not sure how much I can agree on this… at least as an implemented at the base game level! At a certain point the developers need to establish a clear rule set and put their foot down saying “this is how the game works,” in my opinion having too many open ended options for personalizing play experience can eventually create a situation where this is no longer a game but a jenga puzzle where you’re just figuring out the correct path/move-set to break the challenge.

For me personlizing settings come from mods, if players want more of a challenge they’ll finds mods that make the game more difficult… same with players who want a more casual experience or don’t like a particular aspect of the game! they’ll find a mod that’ll remove said aspect.

Players who want a more casual experience are too lazy to search and install mods!
The game should have easy difficulty levels available and those should be easy. But not dull!

What I meant by global limits is basically limiting the use of each skill to once per turn, and some skills to once per turn per squad (rally the troops, electric armor).

The thing is, I have played around 100 hours on normal difficulty as “HonestMan” and though I haven’t beaten the game yet (I keep starting over when a new patch comes out) I can now see myself playing the game with this kind of limit in place and enjoying it. But that’s after going through the learning curve. 50 hours into the game I would have strongly opposed this kind of limitation.

So my reasoning is that the skill sandbox system can be kept if there are “rules”; some of them establishing hard caps on the effects that can be achieved through the skills, and others more like guidelines.

We can’t know what new super-exploitive combo will be discovered by the players, but at this point through our collective playing experience we know when this tends to happen: when a skill can do damage without AP cost, when APs are refunded, or when buffs get stacked on top of each other.

By implementing rules that prevent this from happening, the abilities are still very valuable and can be combined to devastating effect, but they can’t become absurdly OP.

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Rules are rigid, there’s just cases to tune, some combo to nerf seriously. Generals rules could work but I don’t see the benefit but for the fascination of global systems setup on generalities, pleasure of mind games, the universe in the book, but it’s about tuning and balancing, and the idea that it will be infinite has no concrete proof.

Players better get used to it, a balance and tuning phase wasn’t complete and need be done.

Ah! This I can certainly stand behind! My apologies for miss-reading. I certainly read your previous statement in a different manner.

Xcom 2 is evidence to the contrary, I know many players who search for mods setups that turn the game far less punishing. or add something that they find is a great addition and do not hold balance in mind at all. Then there are others that search for the challenging mod packs like Long War etc… In my experience there seems to be many players on both ends of the spectrum.

I think people using mods are in the minority to the people playing the valilla version. Well, at least I’ve never bothered to try them.

Steam streamlined mods use as soon it can works with steam and game only. It changed the picture with more players than usual using mods.

The problem of mods is:

  • Bugs with the game, that’s a first aspect that can block some players. When it’s a long time past release, the problem is less sensible.
  • Another aspect is they often change game rules, for some players it’s a problem because they want the real picture.
  • The game rules change involves arguing on an imprecise version of the game, this is a problem for some players.

Steam could allow check mods usage for a game, it’s always very far from number of sells. For mods using to make the game easier, check statistics should give some clues. I didn’t check but I think remind it’s mods adding features and improving some UI design that tend be the most popular.

This is all very deep, but all I’m saying is that at this point and after 1000s of hours of experimenting we know why balance issues occur when it comes to skills in PP. It’s obvious that it happens mostly (exception 100% stealth and double casting of electric protection) because excessive damage can be dealt during a single turn.

And this happens because some skills allow(ed) to do damage without AP cost (see mindcrash and mind control, and currently quick aim), others to refund large amounts of APs (rapid clearance, rally the troops) and yet others because they stack many damage buffs together.

Leave a skill that can do damage at 0 AP cost during the player’s turn, buffs that can increase damage by >100%, or skills that allow too many APs to be refunded, and eventually someone will come up with an exploit.

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It could be cases or general rules, I don’t believe in second.

There’s regular comment that there will be always Op hole, and if I get it you believe general rules will allow dodge the problem. I don’t see any evidence of it.

Some OP holes or close are based on a full team using Rally. It’s not any general rule related to skills that target such problem. Bloodlust is just a wrong skill that will never work until you can do self damages and use it long range. It’s not general rules that will fix problems it’s fixing problems one per one.

And the idea that some general rule will be a fix is just a magic solution, a believing. At least in my opinion.

I got catched by the topic :slight_smile: Some general rules without specifics. It is good way, but it is only introduction to what should be done.

You realize that what you propose means in other words nerfing and limiting use of skills? :slight_smile: But overall yes that is what should be done. Buffs should stay small, skills in most cases should use AP, and when not then they should use nice portion of WP to modify other skills or just modify stats.

That means just nerfing some skills as some other are quite ok. :slight_smile: I wonder what people will think about my re-balance idea when I will post all the information. I will do that in few post in single thread to keep it in one place and all close to each other…

If I will post it. Sometimes reading this forum gives me impression that changes are not welcomed or they are almost always countered with opposite ideas. Maybe I will just prepare some general description of changes and all the details leave for the mod.

I refer specifically to rally the troops in every single one of my posts above. A general rule is: don’t have skills that allow large refunds of APs. Either limit rally uses per squad or put a limit on how many APs a soldier can have regardless of the number of AP refunds. Fixed.

I assume you meant “can’t do”. And if you limit the damage buffs - rule 3, bloodlust will stop being an exploitive skill for sure. No more stacking it with reckless + weapon type damage buff + stealth x2. Doesn’t mean that it will be a good or interesting skill, it will just stop being an exploit.

Yes, of course, that’s why I say I propose doing a bit of both but with a specific goal and within certain parameters (or following some rules). Or put another way, do the balancing in such a way that it can be easily understood why it’s being done.

Not something like oh, dash was too good, so we made it a little bit worse.

I think Rapid Clearance would become OK with diminishing AP returns. Like 2 AP for first kill, 1 AP for the second, 0 AP for the rest. This would allow up to 7 AP per turn which is still not bad (7 shotgun shots with Adrenaline Rush = 2800 damage potential).
Reduce the WP cost maybe to balance the nerf.

@Lorifel that works. Actually, my point is that anything that would somehow limit the total number of APs that can be spent per turn to some reasonable number would work, both for rapid clearance and for rally the troops.

I favor directly setting a hard limit at, say, 8 APs. Why? Because the problem with AP refunds comes from both rapid clearance and rally the troops. If you just nerf rapid clearance, you need to nerf rally the troops too. Because otherwise it’s not 7AP max, but actually 14 (because + 7 soldiers casting rally). So you have to set a limit on casts of rally per turn per squad. But that will make RC and RtT each much less useful on their own, just to nerf a particular combo.

With a global limit (e.g. 8APs), on the other hand, each skill is more useful on its own but there is no danger of an OP combo between them.

EDIT: typos / clarity

1AP per turn is large?

Yes can’t, limit buff would just make the skill pointless, back to management of case I suggest, remove Bloodlust.

False, Reckless will be pointless. the exploit is only Rapid Clearance.

Actually it is not 14, but 8 AP+
+3 coming from Rapid Clearance (7 is 4 native AP + 3 Rapid Clearance AP)
+5 coming from Rally (+7 to squad members -2 spent by the caster)

I think it is OK to limit Rally to 1 use per turn per squad (that’s how I am using it anyway). But I don’t see the need to limit Rapid Clearance as well because +3 AP (requiring 2 kills) doesn’t seem OP to me.

Mmm with team of 8 Rally is a lot of AP won for party, forgot that point. I don’t know, I think it’s one of the most complex and interesting skill. Perhaps limit it party wide but certainly not to one usage.

Rapid Clearance is potentially an infinite of AP win with Adrenalin Rush, otherwise a potential infinite source of shoot. Other similar games had similar skill, it would be dumb to remove RC.

For me RC just need a cost limiting it. I don’t see decreasing aiming working well with the ballistic system. Some tracks to explore:

  • When activated, any action costs one additional WP.
  • Each new attack get 10% less damages, or perhaps 5%, it stacks.
  • RC is stopped at 5th kill, or perhaps 6 or 4.

Such limiting element would stop make Adrenalin Rush create infinite loop or very long loop, and would low down a lot Rally ability to create OP holes.

No general rules, targeting in front a case.

EDIT: For Rally, the skill should show a number, so 2 or 3, this number is decreased when Rally is used, but for all soldiers. At zero the skill is disabled for the turn. It would be very intuitive for players I believe.

EDIT: Another track to limit Rally would be an AOE skill, not party wide. It wouldn’t remove directly potential abuses, but would restrict them a lot. I prefer a limit of party number of use per turn.

I’m looking for the maximum APs a soldier can have in a squad of 8. So I assume 7 of his soldiers cast rally - the cost to them of casting is irrelevant for this point, he gets + 7 AP.

@Zzzz OK, I assume you realize now that the problem with rally the troops is not about refunding 1 A.

I think you are misunderstanding me Zzzz. I’m saying to limit the buffs to damage to 100%, not to limit damage to 100%. So reckless, blood lust and other damage buffs can stack together to increase damage of an attack until it does twice the damage but no more. So you don’t use a dying infiltrator berserker with blood rush with reckless with boost to a weapon with stealth to do absurd amount of damage with an airgun.


… And the reason these cases have to be targeted is because these skills potentially allow very large number of APs to be refunded and all your proposals are ultimately about limiting the number of APs refunded by these skills (even gradually reducing the damage for RC is so that eventually it stops working after a number of kills). Hence the rule: don’t have skills that allow too many APs to be refunded.

And what you propose is one way to go, but I think for this it’s better to go with a global limit because it gives more flexibility to the player. You can get your [8] APs with rally if you want or with rapid clearance.