Guild Wars 2

Misconception about the “exposed” change and it’s implications on fractal meta.

TL;DR: People are not upset about the exposed change itself, but rather it's implications of making Condi Firebrand overpowered in a fractal setting.

Recently there has been a lot of controversy over the upcoming exposed change with many not quite understanding why this change will be a significant detriment to class diversity in fractals. This will mostly be aimed towards a pug scenario as the hardcore community for fractals is very small and what is effective in a pug can be very different to what is strong with coordinated skilled groups.

The Exposed effect that is placed on many boss enemies when their defiance bar is broken has been adjusted. It now increases power damage taken by 30% and condition damage taken by 100%.

Anet's Intention:

For a long time, condi has been very weak in fractals due to the nature of the phase lengths. Understandably you lose a lot of value from Damage over Time skills (DoTs) if the enemy dies or goes invulnerable. e.g if a skill does 1000 damage each second over 10 seconds and the enemy dies in 5, then half of it is wasted. This makes power inherently favoured in shorter phases and I don't think anyone disagreed that most condi dps builds needed a buff in fractals, but this exposed change also buffs CFB which was already overperforming in a pug setting.

The Condi Firebrand Problem:

Condi Firebrand is a bit of an anomaly among condi classes in that it is extremely bursty and competes with power classes already in a pug setting. It also has access to great cleave and tons of utility in the form of aegis, quickness, stab, projectile destruction and pulls. Already, stacking CFBs is one of the best ways to clear T4s, and it is also one of the best options for CMs as well if not playing with a high level group. This self-reliability has made it the best pug class and as such, at least in my peers and I's experience, makes up about half the dps players for CMs + T4s pugs. And if you thought that half the players playing one build was oppressive, wait until the patch hits. Condi Firebrand was already one of the best options, now this exposed change (that CFB can take advantage of the most) will make it by far the best option except for speedclear level groups.

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"But this change makes condi viable, why is it bad?"

The issue people have is not with the exposed change as a whole, but rather it's disproportionate effect on CFB, a build that was already very strong. Most people were expecting a nerf to CFB not a significant buff to it. If this exposed change had been coupled with a significant nerf to CFB's burst, it would have been a very healthy change, allowing condi classes to be viable, even if still not matching power at a high level.

"Pug groups aren't that picky about dps slots so why does it matter if CFB is strong, I get by fine on my <insert non-meta build here>"

Frankly I don't understand this argument, I don't believe what pug groups will accept is a good metric of balance. If one class is significantly (or even slightly) more powerful than others, more people will play it, and with how common CFB is already, most are predicting a very blue LFG and rightfully so.

"I don't care what is most optimal, I play for fun" and "You aren't being forced to play CFB"

This one stems from people not understanding how others play the game, and it goes both ways I'll be honest. I personally, along with the rest of the hardcore community and many others, find enjoyment in improving my play and achieving the best performance possible. I don't hold any records or anything, but racing for top dps or improving my groups times are why I play this game. If that is not your thing that's completely fine, but if you don't care about what's optimal or overpowered that doesn't mean other's complaints aren't valid.
I'll admit, often many "tryhards" don't understand the "casual" playstyle and there can be some toxicity between the two, but both are valid ways to play the game and just because what is best in slot doesn't matter to you doesn't mean other people shouldn't care about it.

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"I do T4s (or lower) and get by just fine with <non-meta comp/classes>"

I'll be honest I can't speak much for goups not doing CMs. The variance of skill in T4 and lower groups is very high and coupled with the lower difficulty, power level of builds will be much less prominent.

The power meta:

If you've watched any speedruns lately you would have noticed how quickly bosses melt under optimal conditions. Lots of people dislike this as on some fights you see basically 0 mechanics, and even at a pug level many are skipped with decent dps.
Anet has obviously made an attempt to reduce this in their nerf to Power Weaver, Power Soulbeast and Power Banners. While many agree that a general power nerf was warranted they also inexplicably buffed Dragonhunter, so now speedclears will likely be just stacking DHs, which is sad when you compare it to a year ago when the meta was Rainbow Comp, a composition that had 5 different classes. This doesn't affect a large amount of people but I thought I'd put it in the hopes that maybe DH gets nerfed to be in line with the others.


In conclusion, while the idea behind buffing condi classes is fair, it has the side effect of way overbuffing CFB, a class that was already overperforming. If CFB was nerfed this patch would be a very healthy one for pug fractals, and a nerf to DH would likely make it very healthy for the hardcore scene as well. As it is now, pugs will look even more blue than at present, and I can see a lot of the already small hardcore fractal scene leaving if record comps are reduced to DH stacking.

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