Under the Sea

Today I’ll be talking about the Trident Beast, the next hero to be reworked in my Invade the Ruins update.  The naga tends to be a fan favorite and has a variety of fun abilities.  I’ve had a couple small tweaks in mind for him as well as one big change.  Here are his current abilities:

  • Cleanse Our Wounds: Bouncing chain heal.  Works well with his minions.  Cheaper than the other heals but also markedly weaker.  Definitely a useful 6-point ability but you’d need another source of healing in the group.
  • Watery Minions: A pair of murlocs who attack fast and learn a couple spells.  These little guys are fun but the spells could be a more straightforward.
  • Clobber: His melee hits also hits nearby enemies for a percentage of that damage.  Such a fun ability for melee.  I’ve been trying to add extra punch to passive abilities like these and I have an idea for this one.
  • Scent of Blood: Greatly increases his and his minions’ attack speed at the cost of health over time.  Extremely powerful and great synergy with all of his other spells.  The health cost isn’t nothing (about 500) but it’s small compared to his health.
  • Gift of the Tides: Self-resurrection on a long timer.  I like that he bends one of the biggest rules of the map: that battle is dangerous and death is permanent.  Sort of a bummer to have two passive spells, though.

Also worth noting is his Ensnaring Nets item power, which lets him immobilize enemies.  Item powers are abilities that occupy the sixth spell slot but are grey and inactive until the character finds a particular item. Immobilize isn’t actually very good and nobody uses it, so I want to replace it.  Shifting one of his current abilities into the item ability slot might be a step in the right direction.  The three candidates are Clobber, Scent of Blood, and Gift of the Tides.

Clobber would fit well as an item power (he’d get a new trident or something).  It also matches my goal of reducing the number of passive abilities in the game.  The other route to go with Clobber would be to improve its synergy with Cleanse Our Wounds and Watery Allies in some way.  Possibly, he could have some sort of mana bonus like with the Feral Diabolist’s Rippling Sinew.

Scent of Blood, a percentage-based ability, would reduce easily from two ranks to one.   I have a few reservations, though.  I don’t like charging mana for item abilities and I don’t think SoB makes for a good use-it-on-cooldown type spell.  It would also be really abstract as an item ability.  Lastly, SoB is just a fun and satisfying spell to pick, cast, and upgrade.  Great skills are hard to design and I want players to savor this one.

Gift of the Sea also makes for an abstract item ability, but at least its name could directly reference a gift of the sea.  Making it an item ability would also solve the problem of what to upgrade in a self-rez ability (I can only adjust the cooldown of the spell).  I haven’t shifted a spell from ultimate to free before, but that won’t stop me!

With that resolved, I had to come up with a new ultimate.  Which is hard… so I stalled by fixing all of his other abilities to make more sense.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Cleanse Our Wounds’ heals more on the main target and scales better with rank to keep up with his huge health pool.
  • Watery Minions only learn Abolish Magic, but at rank 1, and deal more damage at high ranks.  Their other spells were more distraction than benefit and now these pets are clearly counter-debuff.
  • Clobber now integrates his Carnivorousness hidden ability and improves it.  The Trident Beast has a hidden power where he gains a small tick of health and mana so long as he’s landing killing blows.  Clobber is now the face of this ability as well as a way to upgrade it higher.  This gives the naga a synergy that combines Sarcomany and Rippling Sinew’s ideas.
  • Scent of Blood burns more health to offset the buffs to Cleanse and Clobber/Carnivorousness and to encourage judicious use.

With all of his other abilities shaped up, I spent almost an entire afternoon trying to come up with a good new ultimate.  I stepped through every ability in WC3 and even looked up what all World of Warcraft naga abilities were.  My favorite take-away was using totems for something.  Special totem abilities are tough to script but it would be worth it if I had a great idea.  WC3 totems heal, trap enemies, and scout, so nothing there fit, especially as a war-loving naga’s ultimate.  Most WoW totems are passive buffs, though there are some emergency elemental-summoning totems.  I don’t like the idea of adding another creature, but I do like the emergency idea.  Then I remembered one WC3 hero spell I hadn’t used: Big Bad Voodoo.  Say it with me now: invulnerability totem.  His is called “Tidal Post”.  You can cast in when the beta version of Invade the Ruins is released!  Join me soon for more articles.