Author Topic: Ninjas' Smoke Flash not working on all Henchmen  (Read 1695 times)

VerseG

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Ninjas' Smoke Flash not working on all Henchmen
« on: March 19, 2023, 05:18:22 am »
I've been leveling a Ninjas Mastermind lately and noticed that the power Smoke Flash doesn't do anything if targeting anything besides Genin. I don't believe that is how it is intended to work, as the wording of the power description makes no mention of only working on specific henchmen.
Additionally, the RedTomax link found on the Rebirth Wiki page for Ninjas shows Smoke Flash as working on all 3 types of Mastermind Pets.
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« Last Edit: March 19, 2023, 05:20:24 am by VerseG »

Redlynne

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Re: Ninjas' Smoke Flash not working on all Henchmen
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2023, 10:43:35 am »
I strongly suspect that Ninjas were the second Mastermind Primary that the Cryptic Studios devs worked on (with Mercenaries being the first) ... mainly because Ninjas and Mercenaries contain a lot of "mistakes" in judgement about the usefulness of powers (and how they "mix" to generate overall performance) that were not replicated in other Primaries (looking at you, Gang War). Smoke Flash and Serum are simply the two most glaring examples of this "abandoned mentality" when it comes to Level 18 powers.

The way I see it is that the biggest and worst problem with Smoke Flash (and Serum for that matter) is that it requires the Player to switch $Target to a Pet ... activate the Level 18 power on that ONE PET ... activate the Level 18 power (at ridiculously enormous expense to Endurance!) ... before you can go back to doing whatever it was you were doing, prior to this action. The fundamental flaw is that both Smoke Flash and Serum are coded as being Single Target Ranged powers that require targeting of a Pet in order to activate them.

Serum at least has the saving grace that it buffs the Pet it is cast upon, so it's pretty much guaranteed to "do something" when used.

Smoke Flash, by contrast, is a complete dog's breakfast of an implementation that does a Grant Power: Placate debuff to a (20ft?) PBAoE around the $Target Pet. This means that it cannot be effectively used in a proactive manner before the Ninja Pet enters melee range. The Ninja Pet (singular) needs to be within 20ft of whatever they are using the Smoke Flash "against" in order for it to have a useful effect, adding an additional complication to the tactical positioning of how and when to use it.

Even writing up a keybind that enables Target of My Target functionality won't save you when it comes to proper use of Smoke Flash ... because that only works one of your Ninja Pets has aggro, which is obviously not guaranteed when in a Team-2+ situation, let alone when the actively working a Tankermind condition in which the Mastermind wants to keep and hold aggro to reduce damage taken by the Pets.



A FAR SUPERIOR implementation of Smoke Flash (and Serum too!) would have been to rig the powers up as a 60ft (Supremacy radius) PBAoE around the caster that requires no target. When cast, ALL of "Own Pet (Alive)" within the radius are affected simultaneously by Smoke Flash (or Serum) so these powers become collective "Pet Team" powers, rather than just single $Target Own Pet (Alive) powers that force you to pick "who do you like best right now" during chaotic combat conditions and contexts (especially in Team and League play).

Idea being that with Serum, ALL of your Mercenaries within Supremacy range get injected with the Serum effect simultaneously. No need to drop your $Target in order to "pick your favorite" to give the Serum buff to. Just stay within 60ft Supremacy (and Leadership toggles!) range of your own Mercenaries and they'll get the buff ... each.

With Smoke Flash, it would be largely the same thing ... but because Smoke Flash operates through a Grant Power mechanism, all of your Ninjas would Placate debuff any Foes within 20ft around them ... which in and of itself is potentially problematic. It means that if the Ninja Pet(s) are attacking from standoff range (with Shurikens or other Ranged attacks or whatever) they could be "too far" for the Placate debuff to take any useful effect. That is because Placate is ... really weird ... in how it works (as I've found out first hand while doing Keyes iTrials with my Tanker Redlynne, since some of the Anti-Matter Clockworks use it). Placate is basically an "anti-Taunt" in that it means you canNOT be targeted (so $Target drops), unlike Taunt is means that ONLY YOU can be targeted (so $Target shifts and locks).

Smoke Flash thus becomes this sort of Rube Goldberg contraption of a power ... in which it only "works" when cast upon your own Ninja Pet (Alive) who is within 20ft of what they need to be Placating when the Smoke Flash goes off, meaning you only want to use it on Ninja Pets who are functionally within melee range and already engaging. Even worse, the Smoke Flash "Hide for automatic Crits" effect only sustains so long as the Ninja Pet (who cast the Placate effect) isn't hit or takes any damage ... so it's a "Fragile Hide" kind of deal. This means that if the Smoke Flashed Ninja Pet is standing in a fire patch (taking DoT damage) or if their Mastermind is Tankerminding and sharing damage through Bodyguard Mode, the "Fragile Hide" effect will get canceled early.

In other words, in order to make ACTUAL USE of Smoke Flash, neither the buffed Ninja Pet NOR the Mastermind can take any damage ... and the only thing protecting either from taking any damage is the Placate effect ... which has only a 20ft radius and is quite useless when used preemptively before combat starts (with no Foes in range to be Placated). As soon as the Ninja Pet gets attacked by anything that WASN'T Placated, or takes damage from Bodyguard Mode damage sharing, the Smoke Flash "Fragile Hide" effect ends prematurely (the Stealth buff that foils perception and therefore targeting stops).

It's kind of hopelessly convoluted and messy, the way that Smoke Flash was encoded to work.
Worse, Bodyguard Mode for damage sharing via Tankerminding was developed and introduced AFTER Smoke Flash was designed and implemented, meaning that Smoke Flash was not conceptualized with the notion of Tankerminding even being possible. So Tankerminding as a strategy indirectly nerfs Smoke Flash yet again because of the Rube Goldberg way that Smoke Flash was originally coded (no doubt by a Dev running solo tests, rather than in group play with lots of AoE splash being thrown around everywhere by hordes of Foes).

As is, Smoke Flash displays its TRUE full power effectiveness in such a vanishingly small and narrow range of tightly controlled conditions as to barely be possible "in the lab" ... let alone out in the wilds of actual gameplay experience. Smoke Flash is SO OVERTUNED into its absurd niche role as originally envisioned that most of its potential winds up WASTED very nearly 100% of the time. The "stop to pick and choose" factor alone makes for a high hurdle to get over, but then when you add in the fact that it's basically operating as a "Build Up On Demand For ONE Pet" which represents a super-minority fraction of a Mastermind's total damage output (basically 1/6th of 2/3rds) and you're looking at a roughly +11.11% overall damage increase in a "Build Up EXCUSE" type of power, rather than any kind of +50%/+80% type of "REAL Build Up" power like other Archetypes get.



The best thing that could happen to Smoke Flash (and Serum, for that matter!) would be to alter the power(s) such that they become 60ft PBAoE that affect both My Pets (Alive) and ALSO THE CASTER.

Serum for Mercenaries would affect ALL of your own Mercenary Pets (Alive) within your Supremacy aura radius, and YOUR MASTERMIND as well(!) ... so you ALL benefit, as a "Mastermind Team Group" from use of Serum simultaneously.

Smoke Flash for Ninjas would affect ALL of your own Ninja Pets (Alive) within your Supremacy aura radius, and YOUR MASTERMIND as well(!) ... so you ALL benefit, as a "Mastermind Team Group" from use of Smoke Flash simultaneously. Only other modifications that would be necessary/highly desirable game mechanically would be to increase the Placate radius of the Grant Power effect from 20ft to 60ft along with removing the "stealth radius breaks when damage taken" condition. I would also recommend rewriting the tooltip for the power to better spell out HOW the power works than the garbage obfuscation that explains next to nothing about how Smoke Flash ACTUALLY WORKS so Players can stop "using it incorrectly" based on misunderstanding what it is supposed to do and HOW it is supposed to do what it does.



Do all THAT for Ninjas and Mercenaries and these two Primaries will see a resurgence in popularity among Those Who Know™ ...


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