June 30, 2022
Pirate101 June 2022 Crowd Control Powers
After years of waiting, Pirate101 fans have finally received an update! One of the major draws of this new update are a set of Crowd Control powers from the new robes and weapons. We will have a more in depth explanation of how to get this new gear in a separate article, but for now the tl:dr is that each week there will be one of four new key bosses available, with one key available per character per day by completing something similar to a daily assignment. Each boss in the rotation will drop one type of gear (hat, robe, boots, weapon). Now, let’s go over each of these four new powers and discuss their viability in PvE and PvP.
The first of the Crowd Control Powers, Smoke Screen, can be found on the new robes for each class. This is the description from the update notes: “Single target space at unlimited range that summons smoke for 3 turns. Enemies adjacent to the smoke have 50% reduced accuracy.” The best way to think of this power is similar to scent 1, but reducing accuracy instead of removing hides. It places a single smoke cloud on one target square. The squares adjacent to it (a 3×3 area) have their accuracy reduced by 50%.
This seems like a somewhat interesting concept, but it’s ultimately just not that good. Like scent 1, only affecting a total area that’s 3×3 is entirely too small to make it worthwhile. Yes, it’s controllable, unlike scent, but it’s still extremely easy to avoid in almost any part of the battleboard. I’ll use an example. Consider the following placement of units on the battleboard:
If you are the red pirate (on the left) and cast Smoke Screen on any square adjacent to your pirate, at most 3 of the 8 squares surrounding your character will be protected by the accuracy reduce. For instance, placing it on square O6 (directly to the right of the character) protects square O5, O6, and O7, but leaves the 5 other squares vulnerable, which is far too much. If you’re the blue pirate and cast Smoke Screen on B2, you can fully protect your Emmett from attacks from any direction, but it forces you to sit in the corner, which is not optimal.
The only possibility where Smoke Screen is usable is a scenario where you place it on your turn in front of a single target and then focus all of your companions on it (basically a one round, infinite range reduce on a single target). I doubt this is good enough to warrant use. You are giving up an entire piece of gear to accomplish something that can be mimicked by a reduce (I acknowledge there are cases where the infinite range or not directly engaging with the target is valuable). The opportunity cost is just too high. Furthermore, Smoke Screen’s combo potential vanishes when your units are dead or have used their powers. Reduces don’t suffer from this problem and are strong at any point in a match.
This will be a theme throughout this article: I’m not convinced that these crowd control powers are all that viable in a PvE environment where efficiency is king. Stacking buffs and chaining enemies to death or abusing Old Scratch, Blood Flames, and Frozen tide is almost always the way to go. A non-damaging accuracy reduce that only affects a total of nine squares seems like it will only slow you down.
You can find Faze Field on the new weapons that have a Staffy type, including staffy hybrids. This is the description from the Update Notes: “Teleport to any open square on the field and leave an AOE haze for 10 turns that lightly damages and Blinds enemies. Blinded enemies may move but may not attack.” Think of this as a vastly improved Shadow Step. You can teleport anywhere and leave a 3×3 aura around you that deals minor damage and somehow stops melee attackers.
I’m very curious about the specifics of the implementation of this power. The power description on the card and in the Update Notes is extremely vague. How long does the Blind debuff last? If it prevents attacks for multiple turns, it’s a serious deterrent. One turn, not so much. Does it block sight? If so, it’s useful against melee and ranged enemies. Otherwise, it’s probably only viable against melee users.
Does it stop attacks on the turn someone runs into it, or does the debuff only activate on future turns? For instance, if it functioned like the Vengeance Strike stun and could stop attacks before they happen, Faze Field would have some serious potential. You could sit in the center of the aura and blunt a Buccaneer or Swashbuckler’s initial rush. They would have to walk into the cloud and lose a turn before executing their attack on a future turn, leaving them vulnerable to counterattack.
What sort of attacks does being blinded prevent? Does it prevent you from using AOE attacks like musketeer trick shots, bombs, or Swashbuckler poisons? Or does it only prevent chains and single target attacks like Assassin’s Strike?
I can’t really answer any questions about viability until we see the specifics of the implementation. There are too many unknowns at the moment. Overall, it seems like there are lots of ways for this ability to be viable, so I’m optimistic. Furthermore, the absolute worst case scenario is that it’s a Shadow Step with some sort of unknown defensive utility. That’s probably good enough for melee privy on its own. However, you do need to keep in mind the opportunity cost of giving up a weapon slot for this. Furthermore, the pure staffy version only has three range, which might be a deal breaker for witchdoctors. Finally, there is no shooty/staffy version (it has a different power).
The melee hybrids have lower weapon power and require you to give up other powers to use them. Do swashes and bucks really want to give up a Spring Heal, a Super Charge, or an Assassin’s Strike to use this? I’m skeptical. Blinding would have to be extremely powerful for it to beat out the usual suspects or one of the upcoming melee weapons. I could definitely see slashy/staffy privy using this though. The opportunity cost is the lowest for them and the defensive utility is valuable. You’re sacrificing a Surge of Technomancy. Surge is good, but this does fill a vaguely similar defensive niche.
Unlike in PvP, the vast majority of PvE enemies do nothing but single target attacks. Thus, blinding is obviously very potent. Again, I’m skeptical about how useful defensive utilities are when you can just abuse Old Scratch or use a fort, but being able to turn off counter chains and melee enemy attacks has potential. Think about shutting down the guaranteed critical Assassin’s Strikes from the guards in Duomo and their epic talents or crippling Obsidian Blood and Blightbeard. Seems not completely insane to use.
You can find Escape Bunker on the new Shooty weapons, including Shooty hybrids. This is the description from the Update Notes: “Dash to an open spot up to 9 squares away. Summons a ring of barrels around where you end up that lasts 4 turns.” This power has 2x movement range and allows you to run away from attacks and surround yourself with barrels that prevent direct melee attacks. They also may block sight. If the barrels can be attacked, they will not prevent you from being damaged by AoE attacks like trick shots.
Context is extremely important here. The pure shooty version of this weapon has 3 range. That’s immediately a deal breaker for pure shooty musketeers. Although Escape Bunker is an interesting and maybe powerful ability, you can’t sacrifice that much range. So what about hybrids? Is Escape Bunker more powerful than the already existing Haywire weapons, the current mainstays for melee hybrids?
Having double movement range on this power means that you will be able to buy yourself multiple turns against melee opponents. Even if the barrels are breakable, no one will want to waste a Brutal or Vicious charge rushing over to you in one round. At a minimum, you will have two turns after using this ability before the enemy will be able to hit you with single target attacks (unless the barrels are unbreakable) that you can use to heal and shield yourself. It takes two turns to walk up to and attack the barrel, and a third to target you after breaking it. Objectively, this is a powerful deterrent against attackers. It’s great against hides, effectively guaranteeing the enemy will not be able to attack you directly during its duration.
I suspect this might actually be good enough for melee hybrids to at least consider. Giving up Haywire Shot isn’t as big of a cost as giving up a Super Charge or Assassin and this is an extremely potent mid to late game defensive utility against Swashbucklers and Buccaneers because of how many rounds it buys you. I think it’s probably still a good deal worse than even Faze Field since the range is more limited though.
Not a fan. Faze field seems like a better anti-attack ability since you are less likely to care about the 2x haste. Again, there’s less of a cost here if you’re hybrid since Haywire Shot is much easier to part with than the powers on other
The final new Crowd Control power, Leap Smash, is found on pure melee and pure melee hybrid weapons (all combinations of smashy, slashy, and stabby). From the Update Notes: “ Leap to an open square and smash the ground dealing damage and knocking back nearby enemies.” I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much damage Leap Smash does. It appears to do damage equal to 3x weapon power, similar to an Assassin Strike. It also has 2x haste, like a charge. Effectively, this is a massively buffed The Reaver power. The damage is increased massively and you can move (very far!) while using it.
I’ve saved what is likely the best for last because this power seems pretty clearly viable in PvP. This is a power that has the base damage of an Assassin’s Strike and the range of a Vicious Charge, and can hit multiple targets at once if they position themselves poorly. Even though you can’t chain off this since it’s an AoE that knocks enemies back, this is still going to be the second highest damage charge power in the game, behind Super Charge. High damage charges are extremely potent, as being able to do lots of damage while catching up to an enemy that ran away is super powerful.
If I’m interpreting the card correctly, it also gets around First Strike 3 since it’s an AOE that targets an empty square and does damage to surrounding tiles, instead of targeting an enemy (the Reaver also targets an enemy). If it targeted an enemy, the square in the center right would be red, not orange (see the Assassin’s Strike). So overall, a hidden Leap Smash, assuming it does avoid triggering First Strike 3, is likely to be more damaging than a hidden assassin, even though Leap Smash misses the bleed.
The knockback is going to be fine for buccaneers and other pirates that happen to have a Ratbeard alive when they use it. I don’t think the knockback is the main draw of this though. It’s a nice bonus, but having double movement, massive damage, and seemingly the ability to get around first strike 3 and other counter epics is already good enough. Super Charge still might be preferable for buck since it comes with a guaranteed bladestorm proc and a reduce, but other melee classes are going to use this happily. It might actually be an upside to not trigger counter-epics in some cases (due to the knockback). This pretty clearly competes for the best non-champion weapon for swashbucklers and should be in the conversation for buccaneers.
Basically everything I said in the PvP section applies in PvE. Getting off the AoE part of the damage is much easier in PvE, as the enemies aren’t smart enough to spread out. It’s a high damage, high movement range attack. I don’t think there’s much more you could ask for. This is the only weapon I expect to see frequently in PvE.
I’m pleasantly surprised by these Crowd Control Powers. Although Smoke Screen seems nearly unusable, the others all seem like they have some amount of potential in PvE and PvP. In PvP, I think these are reasonably well balanced abilities that provide some fun alternatives to existing meta options. In particular, Leap Smash seems like it will be an easy inclusion for multiple classes. Although PvE is far too efficient for these powers to be optimal (except for maybe Leap Smash), they’re interesting enough to have some use. The balance on the rest of the gear is a different story though… (Zeal and Curse on gear, really???)
What do you think about these new Crowd Control Powers? Will you farm for them? Let us know in the comments