Siralim Ultimate - Balance Thoughts

Just finished the story of Siralim Ultimate. Excellent work! Some basic thoughts I encountered on my passage through the early content:

I started as a Tribalist, in keeping with the fact I’ve started every Siralim as a Nature mage. Tribalist starts are actually fairly rough, because the Stables are no longer a function - you can’t just breed up a six-pack of whatever species strikes your fancy, you actually have to go find them out in the wild. You can just use multiple of the same creature (which I did), but that’s not necessarily a logical jump for a lot of people who will be coming into this game.

On the other hand, I can see a lot of issues with Defiler and Reaver, which I’ll tackle separately:

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Defilers are, by far, the strongest class in the game IMO. This is because the grand majority of their skills apply automatically and don’t need input from the player; with sufficient skill points, your enemies start with:

  1. 35% less stats
  2. 20% less Health
  3. 3 debuffs
  4. 15% less damage outgoing
  5. 30% more damage incoming

This is all from the player, applied to the enemy team, which means it scales much harder than the player team is capable of. This are also non-sourced effects, which means enemy traits that counter or redirect stat changes or debuffs are going to have to be hard rules, I.E. Opal Paragon’s “creatures cannot lose stats” hard ban.

Second, Defiler has the best source of mage-based direct damage (damage sourced from a perk, instead of a trait, spell, or attack) in Unholy Night, because lots of spell gems are available that inflict debuffs to the entire enemy team, like Parasites or Wormrot. The Voidlord species does a lot to ameliorate the importance of direct damage in S:U compared to previous games, but giving multiple win conditions inherent in the class perks gets dangerous quickly, because a Defiler doesn’t have to commit as hard to one strategy or the other.

That said, I still love the class, but in a game with asymmetric scaling like Siralim, cutting the enemies off at the knees tends to almost always be better than trying to catch up to the infinitely-scaling endgame. It’s worth consideration, because I don’t immediately know how to counterbalance that.

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Reavers are more balanced by comparison; they win long battles, so long as you can survive that crucial first turn. My questions are:

Mental Clarity and Controlled Anger (spell gems do not consume charges and debuff immunity starting end of turn 2) are very powerful. Does Timewalk trigger them early, or does it strictly count end-of-turn flags?

Likewise, Divinity has tremendously powerful implications, particularly with Fire Salamander (creatures cast spells as they die). Is there a way to prevent someone from just stacking a team with Fire Salamanders, Dust Cloaks, Divinities, and %Health damage effects then turboing through the entire fight on infinite spell gem charges?

EDIT: Also, just did a basic glancethrough of traits for a post-story team.
Apis Guardian (intercepts attacks)
Laughing Wisp (takes no damage from attacks, upon taking damage is set to last place in turn order)
Sturdy Gargantuan (delays 90% of damage until the start of its next turn)

Really?

Agreed about defilers having enormous potential due to working off enemy stats. Personally, I was hesitant to try them because I imagined some of the nether creatures and other boss battles being immune to debuffs or stat loss. It was hard to choose without being able to see the actual Perks without making the character.

I chose Paladin since it was described as letting the enemy strike first and being able to withstand a lot of punishment, which I knew both of these things will happen if my enemies are many times my monster level. I also had a rough start and lost a handful of battles until I got around 400 perk points and started annihilating everything.

I am currently breezing through battles on the first turn with an Earthshaker tank (reflects half attack damage taken to all enemies) utilizing a lot of bonus health to maximize retribution damage - which is then tacked on to the Fracture damage as a result of Crusade. My other monsters are just there to buff his HP, damage reduction, healing capabilities etc. and provide a backup plan in case he somehow dies (twice, given the Paladin perk).

Those wisp traits definitely have enormous potential. Combined with one of the void creatures (I forget which), that ignores all damage not coming from an attack or spell, that makes the fused creature already immune to all damage that doesn’t come from either attacks or spells (Ethereal / Poof!).

I haven’t had time yet to start playing with the other classes, but I was eyeballig Druid or Reaver.

I haven’t written a list of Nether affixes either, but to be honest at least one Nether affix will counter your given strategy in an infinite endgame, so says my previous Siralim experiences - it’s just a matter of narrowing down what your team rolls over to, rather than making an all-comers list and trying to fight fair.

Paladin is also very nasty, because it has a perk-based source of direct damage as well - and because Retribution is an automatic effect, it breaks the action economy just as hard. I haven’t played it yet, but I intend to soon.

Fun fact, Earthshaker was the key part of the first build I made in S3 that cracked the infinite endgame. It’s been nerfed very slightly in a way that fails to blunt its effectiveness whatsoever, but it’s hard to do without wrecking the thing’s identity.

If you haven’t already, good combinations with Earthshaker are the Ent traits, which grant permanent Mend, increase its healing percentage, cause it to heal when attacked, and reduce incoming damage to creatures with Mend. Sparktail Student increases damage inflicted off-turn by 75%, also, which I can already tell is going to be on every end-game team ever. That’s just a disgusting boost. Throw an Infernal Guard / Valkyrie Queen next to it, add Spirits for healing buffs, and then giggle maniacally.

(as you’ve noted, you’ve probably done this already. I’m more just brainstorming my own future versions of the build than advising you, TBH.)

Druid is not complex. Use Osseins. Reaver requires more thought but the multitude of damage bonuses fairly well screams for a stat-based source of direct damage, like Pit Worms or summat, and then throw in Priests, Apocalypses, and survival stuff until the enemy team explodes.

Also, you’re thinking of the Angelic Voidlord.

A lot of the other specializations have very powerful unique effects.

Like health stacking and paladin
Or Tribalist and a griffon build that makes your assault griffons have like a 90% chance to take additional turns
Or Cabalist being able to spam huge amounts of spells
Or Sorcerer having a similar mass debuff infliction
Or Hellknight allowing attack builds to ignore dodge
Or Cleric with the healing effects triggering at full health

These can all be far stronger than the general strength of the Defiler. The thing about the Defiler is it is just generally strong without having to be built around.

Also, being able to chargelessly cast spells is not that gated an effect. There is even an arena earnt spell: “Living Wizard’s Hat” “Subsequent spells cast by this creature do not use consume charges”

Paladin is actually a very similar example, being a perk-derived source of direct damage, but is gated by three things:

  1. It’s reactive, meaning that the enemy gets to have an action and possibly not do something that could trigger Retaliation, like cast mass debuffs
  2. It’s based on a percentage of Max Health
  3. It needs to be direct damage, which mean status damage bypasses it, and damage inflicted by your creatures on themselves bypasses it, I.E. Mind Explosion or Mind Control.

What determines a perk’s effectiveness is two metrics: its efficiency, how much it moves you towards victory, here the depletion of the enemy’s health, and its simplicity, which is how easy it is to apply that perk in a useful manner, as well as a measure of how many moving parts are necessary to make that perk contribute to victory in that manner.

Defiler is by far the simplest specialization, in that over half its toolbox is automatically applied to the enemy team at battle start. You contribute no traits, stats, or warm bodies to this; it happens automatically. This means you can focus on making the other parts of your toolbox stronger.

By comparison, the other specializations have failure conditions. Griffons are traditionally a very strong racial build, if not the strongest, but there are two moving parts here: your creatures get many turns, which triggers enemy traits that activate on your turns, and while your basic attacking routine is very active with Razorfoot / Divebomber / Assault Griffon / racial shenanigans, you’re still committing to opposed stat checks: your Attack minus their Defense equals damage. This is a very strong inherent limit, because Siralim scales infinitely. Very soon players are going to hit a point where smashing that attack button makes 0 damage happen, and however many times that button gets hit is not going to change the result.

Cabalist doesn’t get to pick the spells it spams. RNG is inherently unreliable.

Sorcerer is a lot less powerful than it looks IMO. It gets timeline gimmicks which are unreliable, because you don’t know what relative position your enemies are going to be on it unless you want to waste spell slots with speed adjust gems or charges on Wormhole. It gets three perks that trigger on damage, which assumes that you’re capable of piercing Defense without giving you tools to do so. Blink adjusts your creatures upward on the Timeline a maximum of three slots, which isn’t enough to get the first turn against enemies with infinitely scaling speed. You get Invisible when hit, and enemies get Scorned or Silenced when they try to hit you, which doesn’t stop them from doing it in the first place, and you inflict a lot of status ailments at the end of enemy turns, right after they get free shots at knocking your dome in. The free Shell is the best perk Sorcerer gets.

Basically, Sorcerer is not simple. It operates on a lot of assumptions and gives your opponents too much time.

Hellknight wants to smash the Attack button, but is actually worse at this than the Tribalist or the Monk, because it offers no inherent buffs to the stat check that the Attack function imposes. If your Attack minus their Defense is zero or less, what does it matter that you deal +100% attack damage, or get two hits, or get a free cast of Flamestrike when (if) you damage them? Meanwhile, Tribalists get more stats and better damage output, while Monks get to stack both Attack and Speed then deal bonus damage equal to excess Speed, which makes them the best basic Attackers in the game, much stronger than Hell Knights.

Clerics are decent because at least their perks all revolve around not dying, which while not a win condition, is your loss condition. Using some kind of Koloss / Sparktail / Earthshaker build means that Clerics can fairly easily put together a wincon based around getting punched in the face real hard so long as they don’t immediately lose.

Chargeless casting itself is not a major problem. I’m concerned by a combination of factors:

  1. That chargeless casting goes up bottom of second turn
  2. That second turn can be achieved with Timewalk
  3. That this chargeless casting perk exists in the same perk set as the one that gives you immunity to Battle Fatigue and infinitely scaling bonuses as rounds go by

Granted, I’m not going to use Reaver long term, because it’s just boring to wait two / three rounds every time to get to the point where I can accomplish anything, but it can commit fully to surviving those rounds in a way other perks can’t; Reavers are almost guaranteed a win if they wait long enough, even if all they have are some gems of Mind Explosion and Mind Tricks.

TL;DR: I disagree. I don’t think Zack should be rewriting the game in accordance with my observations, but it is something to be aware of in terms of long-range endgame balance, I think, and probably classes like Hell Knight need some kind of static damage effect to keep up, like S3’s Magma Diver perk (which deals damage based on the target’s Current Health, and thus scales infinitely).

I agree Defiler is simplest.

Yet,
Griffon builds still work late game. Extra turns are extra turns, and one can use them for all kinds of things.
Cabalist does not have to be RNG - simply don’t spec the get random ethereal gems, and then everytime you defend you will cast one of your carefully chosen ethereal gems for free. The Cabalist perks are strong, and immunity to silence is very valuable and hard to replace.
Hellknight again, you have a whole team that can stack traits to overcome attack limitations, overcoming dodge is a big-ish deal
Clerics - you example is odd, given that your health is again a stat that will be outscalled by enemy health, eventually. Clerics main gimmick is the heal at full health, imo.

I have not polled the discord, but atm, I think most people pushing high realm depths are actually using builds that function independently of specialization just to get rewards from the goblet of giving (and btw, using builds working based on opposing stat checks) Yes, theoretically the scaling might make any stat based build eventually invalid, but if it takes years and years of game play for that to happen, it does not matter.

I do agree, that an eyeball has to be kept on whether scaling invalidates stat based builds, but atm, It seems, at least from my impression of the discord, that it does not - it just means one hast to find a suitably overtunned way to scale your teams stats.

I don’t think there are major balance issues with any of the specializations, and I think that the focus should be on each specialization being fun, and having a unique feeling niche.

In summary, late game - the current meta builds seem specialization independent, and that seems okay. What would be nice is if each specialization enables some niche build, that can efficiently compete with the specialization independent builds.

P.S. I like your magma diver perk for hell knight suggestion. I miss health based attack damage, with the Demigod source of it being removed too :frowning:

I’m currently running a Griffon build against enemies twice their level with Realm Stability 4-5, which to me is early-mid game - I don’t know how Siralim Ultimate divides up its endgame as compared to 3, where very quickly CJ scaling invalidated any team that cared about either going first or beating Defense. Extra turns are extremely valuable, but they are a resource, not a solution; you need something useful to do with those turns in order to convert them to a win condition, and with Spell Gems now being based on charges, it feels like breaking the action economy is less valuable unless you’re stacking some kind of activation bonus like Apocalypse buffs, Horsemen from Necromancer, or Reaver turn count. You still need to crack the enemy team’s stat advantage somehow.

I didn’t pick that up about Cabalist! +1 for you, sir, I’ll look that specialization over again.

Hell Knight can fix dodging, but dodging is a function of Speed, which means that Monks handle it almost as well because they can just stack Speed instead of Attack. In addition, where a Hellknight has to devote resources to surviving counter hits or going before the enemy (stacking Speed or Defense / Health, requiring a multiple stat focus), Monk teams get Protective Wind, Good Karma, Dampen Harm, and Spiritual Attunement to shore up their defenses with, perhaps, one trait investment (Good Karma does require Agile, which basically means getting the Aspect trait that grants your team that buff). Hellknight does not get that ability to focus on one stat, which comparatively weakens it compared to almost any other class in the game - it needs perks that are comparatively more powerful if it’s going to compete.

Clerics have the same trick as Monks; you stack Health. Instead of a Paladin, who gets Retribution for free, Clerics need to substitute a trait, but in a world with Vigilance free from the god shop that’s no problem at all. In exchange, they get immunity to Blight, Overheal, and nasty damage resistances, such that they really can just throw down an Earthshaker / Sparktail with Vigilance and watch the enemy team explode. It’s the flip side of the Paladin, who gets innate damage but has trouble surviving. Anytime you can narrow down your stat requirements, your teams become better and more tightly focused, and damage resistance scales with the enemy team and thus stays relevant forever.

I haven’t found a CJ equivalent, and if there isn’t one in Ultimate, that changes things considerably, since “infinite scaling” can’t be thrown into your face like it could when all you did was set CJ to Enemy Stats +1000%, Level Scaling 10 and then dive into the deep end of the loot pool. I freely admit that I’ll have to start from ground up of what I consider “endgame” if that isn’t so.

Likewise, I vastly prefer the specializations being distinct gameplay experiences, as you said. I just believe there’s a way to accomplish this without putting floor limits into play, and saying “Hellknight can only effectively fight enemies up to 2-3x his own level” or some such. Everyone should get to ride the roller coaster of infinite loot, y’know? More than nerfing the Defiler or Reaver, I want everything else buffed up to their level. The game should be fun.

Maybe I didn’t clarify that, but that’s my end goal here. I’m setting goalposts, not making examples.

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