June 8, 2019
The Pirate101 PvP Banlist
The official Pirate101 PvP banlist is a topic that I’ve skirted around or mentioned briefly in many of my articles. Today, I’d like to dive right into the banlist, discussing what should or should not remain on it. I’ll give my opinion on each power’s place on the list, as well as a justification.
The Current Banlist
The PvP banlist has gone through a few iterations since it was first introduced with the Ranked PvP update. However, it’s remained largely similar to what it originally was. Here’s the current list, as a quick refresher.
- Stat buffs don’t stack
- Charming Gaze (on pets and pirates)
- Blood Flames
- Frozen Tide
- Terra Cotta Troupe (nerfed from 100% chance to spawn each warrior to 25% chance to spawn each warrior, boosted by will)
- Doom Mojo
Stat Buffs Don’t Stack
Safe to Remove? – No
This is a classic example of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Stat buffs (strength, agility, will, crit buffs, accuracy/dodge buffs, mojo buffs) are perfectly fine in their current state. There is no class that struggles so mightily to do damage that they need to stack their buffs. Furthermore, the class that would stand to benefit the most from the “unban” of non-stacking stat buffs is privateer, who are already top dogs in the arena. I am less than of a fan of doubly stacked espirit buffs. You also can’t forget how absolutely beyond busted stacking Scratch buffs are. Like many of the upcoming items on this list, the existence of Scratch makes it impossible to remove many of these items from the banlist. However, in the case of stat buffs not stacking, I think it should remain unchanged regardless of the existence of Scratch.
Safe to Remove? – Safe, probably. A good idea? Probably not.
I’m aware that this will probably be one of my more controversial takes. Witchdoctor is by far the weakest class in Pirate PvP, and the return of its “signature” power would almost certainly be a boon to its standings. However, I don’t think this is the signature power that witch is looking for.
Let’s think about what Charm will do in a match. The way I see it, there are basically 2 outcomes to using charm, and these outcomes are vastly different from each other. The first outcome is that the charmed unit whacks another companion once or twice, maybe gets hit back once. Essentially, there’s no real change to the position of each player; charm was basically useless.
The second outcome is that the charmed unit “goes off” on one or more opposing companions, probably using a guaranteed attacking, crippling or wounding those units and perhaps itself in the process. This is a huge, possibly insurmountable tempo advantage, and each outcome essentially occurs at random. So, charm represents either a glorified pass button or an I win button. This is very frustrating gameplay. With the return of charm, a witch’s opponent may occasionally lose for no reason other than the fact they got unlucky with a single power. In my opinion, it’s unskillful and a major feels bad.
Charm vs Blast of Discord
Charm somewhat reminds me of Blast of Discord. Both powers are largely inconsistent, and can either have no effect or a game-warping effect on a match. Furthermore, the “counterplay” to both powers is to keep your units incredibly far away from each other (even more so with charm), which is often impossible if you’re trying to enact a productive attack. You might say, “But Matthew, charm was largely tolerable in the past, why oppose bringing it back now?” However, the last time Charm was legal companions were much weaker. Companions nowadays have 2-3 more epics than they did before, which vastly increases damage output.
So while I think it wouldn’t necessarily be game-breaking to bring back Charm, the power is too rng-dependent and inconsistent for it to make witches significantly better. It’s also a major feelsbad to lose to a nearly entirely luck-based power.
Safe to Remove? – lol no.
Take everything I just said about charm, but now allow it to be repeatable and even more rng-dependent (the odds of it landing are rng based). This power’s existence was a mistake and it should never see the light of day.
Safe to Remove? -Yes*
*When Scratch buffs are banned
Blood flames are far less broken in PvP then they are in PvE, due to the fact that your opponents aren’t dumb enough to walk into them. However, I hesitate to say they should be unbanned in a universe where Scratch buffs exist. You can trap your opponent on the edge of the board, surround them with flames, then either force them to take massive damage from the flames by staying put or running away from them, or force them to have Gunnery up that round to kill the flames. While you can beat this tactic without Scratch buffs, it’s entirely too powerful with them in my opinion.
However, I’m willing to entertain the possibility that I’m entirely wrong and that it’s safe to unban them regardless, as no one would use them since they’re not guaranteed to do anything (they just die to a Gunnery, giving you no real value from them).
Safe to Remove? – Probably Not
This is another power that I’m not entirely confident on. It’s a definite “no” to unbanning in a world with Scratch buffs. A line of play like, Frozen Tide -> 100% Scratch Buff -> Big Guns/Knockback Bombs/etc. is incredibly overpowered. The Big Guns line of play can be executed turn one in Ranked PvP (and privy often uses their 100% buff turn one anyways), guaranteeing a 100% buffed Big Guns on all 4 units on turn 2, which is often too huge a tempo swing to recover from. Getting surrounded by 100% buff Knockback Bombs also seems like a very difficult line of play to come back from consistently.
However, in a world without Scratch buffs, I’m less certain. My gut says it’s still probably worth keeping banned. It’s a very potent combo piece. Any new powers released would have to be checked to ensure they don’t accidentally break it.
On the other hand, the massive damage potential that Scratch buffs allowed in conjunction with Frozen Tide would no longer be a factor. It’s definitely a lot stronger in group PvP than it is in 1v1, and I’m not certain whether or not it would enable too powerful of combos there. Overall, it just seems like a power that people try to use for broken things, and I’d rather not let them try to break it.
Safe to Remove? – No
Now we’ve moved on to the powers added to the banlist after Ranked PvP’s inception. Terracotta warriors were one of the most ubiquitous powers in the first season of Ranked PvP. This makes sense, as 9 units with htl 3, Vicious Charge(s), and Leviathan’s Call represent a massive threat. In response to this, Kingsisle drastically decreased each warrior’s chance to spawn. Now, they only see use in dedicated summon builds (you can argue that KI didn’t go far enough with this nerf, and they should have banned them entirely, as a lucky and well timed Cotta summon effectively ends the game, but that’s neither here nor there).
I see no reason why the Terracotta warriors wouldn’t regain that notoriety should this nerf be reversed. Sure, their level is 5 levels below ours now, but that doesn’t affect their ability to use their charges effectively. This power clearly needs to stay nerfed (and its counterpart, Angry Orchards, can go too).
Safe to Remove? – Are you mental?
Doom Mojo is, without a doubt, the most broken power and the greatest mistake to ever grace the Spar Chamber and Brawlin’ Hall. It has no competition. 10 round Battle Zeal, Scratch Buffs, Angry Orchards, and original Moo Robe are underpowered in comparison. This power won the game on turn 3 for Swashbucklers and Privateers with near-absolute consistency, without doing a single point of damage to their team. You could pull the trigger early on all 5 classes and potentially win on turn 1, since its critical multiplier was significantly higher than the standard 1.33/1.67/2.00. There is 0 skill and nearly 0 counterplay to Doom Mojo. I see no time when this power could ever return to PvP.
Thanks for reading! Do you agree? Disagree?
Let us know in the comments.