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Offensive Mitigation/Manipulation - an Analysis

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Offensive Mitigation/Manipulation - an Analysis

Note: a google doc version of this analysis can be found here for those who want a better view of the tables: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1D1npo-p4jnTFGhcYDSHFKODMvM7pIu9VH7cTt8PDU9c/edit?usp=sharing

The purpose of this analysis is reasonably straightforward. With this review, I'd like to assess the blaster secondaries functions as power sets themselves, as well as their places holistically as a secondary. It is an attempt to obtain a greater understanding of how these sets function, to ensure that the descriptors we're using to define the secondary are appropriate, and to provide rules and guidelines for how to produce new sets in the future, if it's so desired.

First a note about the data sets. All data on the power sets for the offensive mitigation/manipulation secondaries comes from the Paragon Wiki. There is a problem with this. You see in their desire to be as complete as possible, the good people at Paragon Wiki updated the blaster secondary sets with all of the changes slated for I24. This means that the secondary changes the devs made (one power in every set got a significant heal/regen/absorb buff and recovery buff) are reflected in the data. Basically I'm looking at power sets that were never actually played in game. Despite this, I think it's important to take the original devs intentions into account on this, especially given the way that attitudes were improving about the sets over all. It's also important to note that including the data from I24 gives us one additional power set in our data to review and work with, which is something we should definitely not discount.

Based on all of this, I went through and reviewed each power in each secondary and jotted down some notes on the sets. Note, this is not a quantitative or math intensive analysis, merely an attempt to find logical connections in the sets. All descriptions are my own notes from the wiki.

(See original Document for the tables. They are not essential to the review though)

From this list of powers and the basic descriptions of what they do as written above, some rules about the sets can begin to be made.

    All blaster secondaries must begin with either a ranged immobilize or a melee knockback power of some type that includes moderate levels of damage
    All blaster secondaries must have 3 to 4 additional melee attack powers (the first one, if it's a melee knockback doesn't count)
    All blaster secondaries must include a damage or to hit buff of some kind
    All blaster secondaries must include at least one self movement buff power (stealth counts)
    All blaster secondaries must include at least one foe movement debuff power or have secondary effects that affect movement in multiple powers
    All blaster secondaries must include one heal, regen, or absorb and recovery buff of some kind (new rule for I24 power sets)

So scoring for each powerset according to these rules:

Power Set Immob or Knockback 3 to 4 melee offense Self buff Self Move buff Foe Move debuff Regen/Rec
Devices Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Darkness Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Energy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Electrical Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Fire Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Ice Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Martial Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mental Yes Yes* Yes No Yes Yes

Based on this breakdown the only rule that is continuously violated by more then a few one-off sets is the self movement buff power. It exists only in 2 of the original 5 sets and only 3 of all 8 total. Therefore it's probably better to assume that a secondary set CAN have a self movement buff, but is not required to do so. Disappointing given the utility of them, but not unexpected. If you remove that rule you get the following.

Power Set Immob or Knockback 3 to 4 melee offense Self buff Foe Move debuff Regen/Rec
Devices Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Darkness Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Energy Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Electrical Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fire Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ice Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Martial Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mental Yes Yes* Yes Yes Yes

You go from having 2 sets that follow all the rules to having 7 that follow the rules. Devices fails the rules by virtue of having no melee attacks. Technically Mental Manipulation violates the melee offense rule as well but someone gave the set two ranged aoe powers instead, so I'm calling that a wash.

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Analysis

Analysis

First of all, the secondary sets for blasters contained a TON of attack powers. All sets with the exception of Devices had anywhere from 4 to 5 offensive powers once you included the immobs/knocks and the moderate damage those did. Devices is a very strange exception, as it has an offensive pet and 2 offensive powers that are both triggered under very specific (and impractical) circumstances. So even though it doesn't have any traditionally offensive powers and I'm not labeling it as an offensive set, an argument could be made that it is one.

Looking at the original 5 sets (devices, energy, electrical, fire, ice), it's VERY difficult to understand what the original devs intended. Perhaps one assumption is that they were expecting secondary effects to matter a whole lot more then they actually did. Especially after the controller nerfs were brought to bear around the same time as the GDC and City of Villains rollouts. And the fire secondary? Sometimes the abyss stares back my friend. Sometimes the Abyss stares back.

So looking at the sets comprehensively, we can see that all of the sets were heavy on offense, had self buffs built into them (even before the I24 stuff), and contained a variety of other self buffs, foe debuffs, and various soft controls mixed into the sets. Hard controls do exist but they are few and far between. Secondary effects on powers were varied and wide and not at all uniform in any way, sometimes even within the sets themselves.

Based on this, it's clear that referring to the blaster secondaries as offensive mitigation is misleading at best and plain wrong at worst. Offensive damage mitigation refers to using offensive powers to reduce the effects of incoming damage. By default, all damage is damage mitigation by virtue of simply eliminating your opponents with it. But, referring to it specifically requires that it performs some other damage hampering effect to any opponents that are still standing. While the secondary effects of the sets are wide and varied, none of them seem to specifically address offensive damage mitigation in any defined or intended way, with perhaps the exception of Darkness Manipulation and it's to hit debuffs. This point may be debatable, but I contend that given that offensive damage mitigation was never the intent of most of the secondary effects as they were conceptualized and executed on, it's inappropriate to try and argue that intent in backwards to justify a strained definition.

Referring to the blaster secondaries as manipulation sets is also a huge problem. Manipulation implies control which as the analysis above shows, the sets possessed very little of. Soft controls exist all over the place, from fears, to stuns, and slows but hard controls definitely not. Perhaps this was the intent of referring to the sets as manipulation sets as opposed to control sets. Because most of the controls in the sets are soft, referring to them as manipulation sets is less "hard" then calling it control. The major problem with this is that the sets that contain a majority of soft controls are often less then fully effective given soft controls relative weakness against groups of targets. Manipulation as a name is also inaccurate because half of any set contains no controls at all, but purely offensive attack powers.

So what to do? The secondaries are basically a hybrid collection of melee attacks and support powers (buffs, debuffs, and soft controls). Is there any other example of sets that are hybrid that we can use as a baseline to help us determine what to do here? In the original 5 archetypes, no. However, salvation does appear in of all places, the hated dominator class (I have issues with controllers, okay?). Dominators secondary class is a hybrid class as well. Assault is made up of (for the most part) a combination of single target ranged attacks and single target melee attacks. The two together make this hybrid series of power sets that provide a high degree of damage output (single target only) and a variety of damage-dealing possibilities for the set. In this case, arguing the intent backwards works out much better for us.

Together all this means we need to find a name more appropriate for our hybrid set of melee offense and support that accurately reflects the powers in the sets over all. In this regard, I think the sets should be referred to in the aggregate as Maneuvers.

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Maneuvers.

Maneuvers.

From a blaster standpoint, having maneuvers as the description for our secondary power sets is a very blastery sounding thing. We use the powers in the sets to help manipulate our own and our enemies positions on the battlefield, setting them up for either ranged death and destruction from our primary power sets, or to get in close to finish the job with one of our punishing melee attacks. Maneuvers also helps describe the powers in the sets to a greater degree then any other designation ever has before. Self buffs for damage/to hit/movement/etc. That's a maneuver to help us get to where we're going or make us better at what we're doing now. Debuffs and soft controls to enemies. Those are maneuvers to help position them where we want them to be. Melee offense. Those are finishing maneuvers to help us close out the fight and move on to the next target.

From energy blasters who would blast from extreme ranges and then self buff themselves to the ceiling so they could run in super fast and hit the boss with a mag 4 stun, to fire blasters dropping fire circles around themselves to protect them from melee attacks (granted they more often used rain of fire from the primary for this, but you get the idea). Ice blasters who used slows and knockdowns to corral mobs. Mental blasters who could fear and confuse enemies. All of the sets lent themselves very strongly to the notion of battlefield control. Not as strongly as controllers, that's for sure. But our job wasn't to control, just maneuver targets into our AoE's and to keep them just out of reach long enough for Thunder Strike to recharge. Even the non-melee set Devices uses maneuvers to help position it's mines and caltrops on the battlefield for maximum destructive power. Who wasn't on a team at some point, where the blaster stopped everyone at a door to lay a barrage of trip mines for the aggroed spawn to run over? If that's not a classic maneuver, I don't know what is.

It was chaotic and hectic but good blasters always managed to make it work, and great blasters could make magic happen.

Regardless of what we decide to call them, referring to blaster secondaries as offensive mitigation/manipulation is just wrong. It is brutally difficult to explain to a lay person and even harder to justify as a description of the sets. At the very least a hybrid of melee and support powers is the baseline description that we should be using for it going forward. I should also point out that accepting and understanding that this hybrid exists, opens the doors for other possible hybrid combinations in the future.

We also need to understand that a hybrid melee damage/support set is an offensive set, just the same way assault is for Dominators. There's less overall offensive firepower in Maneuvers power sets but quite a bit of utility and the combination of the two needs to be kept in mind when considering what power sets to combine it with. In hindsight, combining Maneuvers with Ranged offense wasn't the best idea. The lack of damage mitigation in the early Maneuvers sets often left blasters with either a strike first or stare at the floor mentality. Final iterations of the sets worked strongly to try and make Maneuvers power sets function better so that Blasters could perform to the levels that other damage dealing classes could perform at. The success those changes would have had will never be known, but it is a cautionary tale going forward for power sets that we produce on our own. Having Maneuvers power sets with strong defensive mitigation is a requirement. And all sets built on it going forward should follow the same basic patterns as outlined below.

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Conclusions

Conclusions

Using the rules above we can provide simple and straightforward Progression option templates for how Maneuvers secondary power sets should be constructed. Starting with existing sets as a baseline we can create the following:

Progression 1: T1 - Foe Immobilize with medium damage, T2 - medium single/melee attack, T3 - self heal and recovery buff, T4 - high single/melee attack, T5 - AoE ranged foe debuff, T6 - High single/melee attack, T7 - single foe debuff, T8 - Heavy single/melee attack

or

Progression 2: T1 - Foe knockback with medium damage, T2 - medium single/melee attack, T3 - Foe Debuff with self regen and recovery buff, T4 - high single/melee attack, T5 - self heal and recovery buff, T6 - High single/melee attack, T7 - AoE foe debuff, T8 - Heavy single/melee attack

If you wanted to produce a set that was more buffing and less foe oriented you could produce one similiar to this. Just require a solid secondary effect (like stuns and sleeps) in the offensive powers and your lack of controls/debuffs are made up for.

Progression 3: T1 - Foe knockback with medium damage, T2 - medium single/melee attack, T3 - absorb and recovery buff, T4 - high single/melee attack, T5 - self movement buff, T6 - High single/melee attack, T7 - self power buff, T8 - Extreme single/melee attack

And inversely, if you wanted to focus on a more debuffing style of set with a focus on messing up targets more you could go with:

Progression 4: Foe Immobilize with medium damage, T2 - medium single/melee attack, T3 - AoE ranged foe debuff, T4 - high single/melee attack, T5 - self heal and recovery buff, T6 - AoE ranged foe debuff, T7 - single foe hold, T8 - Heavy single/melee attack

Additional rules for Maneuvers power sets:

    A Set can have a hold, but only one. Only one single target hold. Never more.
    A Set can/should have movement buffs in it.
    A Set can substitute ranged powers or PBAoE powers for melee powers but should avoid this unless thematically appropriate
    Immobilizes must be paired with moderate damage components when thematically appropriate. When damage is not thematically appropriate, an additional debuff should be added. For example, web grenade should have had a minus perception Buff or a daze effect added to it. After all, how many times has Spiderman shot his webs into an enemies face to blind them. Like, all the time!

These rules can and should be mixed and matched as thematically appropriate. As for Damage Types and Themes, the range can extend far and wide.

    DoT
    Stuns
    Sleeps
    Fears
    Slows
    Others

But the above progression templates were made with the assumption that a secondary effect would be added additionally to the sets themselves.

Any and all honest critique of the above would be greatly appreciated. I hope this will spark some discussion around how to properly label and construct secondaries that fall currently under the offensive mitigation/manipulation label. Thanks for reading and I hope you like Maneuvers.

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What pre-existing data do you

What pre-existing data do you base this 'Must' on?

Be Well!
Fireheart

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If you are referring to my

If you are referring to my statement "Immobilizes must be paired with moderate damage components..." then:

6 of the 8 power sets in the blaster secondary made use of Immobilizes in their first power for the set. Of those 6, 5 of them had a moderate damage (Damange scale .8 and up) attack component tied into each of them. While many of them were damage over time attacks, I think that this helped to mask just how much damage each of them were doing. With the exception of devices, each of the other power set immobilizes were providing direct offensive output whenever they were used. While this damage component may have been underutilized, it was definitely there.

And I believe if you were to remove a moderate damage component from any offensive attack, then a set's offensive output would be diminished significantly and noticeably (as opposed to a minor damage attack that would be easier to ignore). I believe past experiences with Devices bears this out, though it must be said that not having a damage component in web grenade was not the sole reason it underperformed offensively.

Descriptions for Damage Scales in attacks are notoriously inconsistent throughout data sets in the City of Heroes Power Sets. Some powers will claim to have minor damage but will have a 1.0 Damage scale assigned to the attack. Heavy, high, extreme, and superior are also words that got thrown around a lot in the power sets. In my research I did find a common theme among damage scales for power sets and it tended to follow the below pattern:

Minor Damage = .12 to .79
Moderate Damage = .8 to 1.7
High Damage = 1.8 to 2.2
Superior Damage = 2.6 to 3.24
Extreme Damage = 3.56 to ??

The above descriptors are good for MOST of the powers listed in Paragon Wiki.. You'll note the gaps in the ranges are due to just not having any more data to close the range based on what I reviewed in the blaster secondaries.

All this is to say though that all but one of the blaster immobilizes did significant damage, and not having the component in them would not make them the same as they were. This of course assumes that you would want to make any new sets the same/similar. The analysis here does not assume how sets should be made for City of TItans, but is merely meant to attempt to help understand how previous sets worked to hopefully improve our knowledge for the future.

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The immobilize was generally

The immobilize was generally a throwaway power past the earliest levels. Manipulation would best be served by focusing on a support theme, such as "holds" or "mass immobilization" or "buffs" or "debuffs". The old manipulation sets were all over the place, which was good for some (energy manip) and bad for others.

I would like to see the control aspect of manipulation be something that gets applied passively to main blasts (and one or two blapping powers I'm sure). A gunner should not be loading a beanbag to fight a gigantic armored robot filled with the elemental essence of ancient evil, but instead have powers that 'naturally' build up stun/exhaustion, courtesy of, I dunno, "KO Manipulation".

Special effects on the blasts would instead make the blasts themselves more interesting, such as rockets that leave behind a short-timed package of cluster munitions after their initial blast (of particular interest to those trying to build up that KO there perhaps), or a ricochet sniper blast that can ding two or three guys for twice that magnitude at range but not as often.

Unless of course you picked electrical manipulation for the sake of making them accidentally clench their triggers for explosions at their feet or flopping like fish while biting their own tongues. Or maybe they're all marked for friendlies because being on fire makes you easier to see!

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I'd have to disagree with you

I'd have to disagree with you there nova, at least as far as making manipulation emphasise on support rather than offense. The blaster was an offensive juggernaut, that's why it's secondary had offensive power in it such as melee attacks and powers to get people out of melee range or keep them at ranged level. Sure blasting from afar was fun but so was attacking in melee range with your melee powers and ranged powers at the same time, and a lot of people will still want to make something like that when the hunter goes live. Sure there can be some manipulation or maneuver sets that can be for people who just like to snipe from afar but I for one still want my martial manipulation type manipulation sets that let me be good at damage no matter where I am, whether that be in melee range or ranged range. I want to blap, and as long as there is a way for me to blap while you can still make a purely ranged hunter then both options should still be available to everyone and not dictated by someone else's preference.

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You mention martial

You mention martial manipulation, notears. Did you get a chance to try out the Martial Combat set in I24 beta before the game shut down?

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Novacat wrote:
Novacat wrote:

I would like to see the control aspect of manipulation be something that gets applied passively to main blasts (and one or two blapping powers I'm sure). A gunner should not be loading a beanbag to fight a gigantic armored robot filled with the elemental essence of ancient evil, but instead have powers that 'naturally' build up stun/exhaustion, courtesy of, I dunno, "KO Manipulation".

What you're describing sounds very much like the Masteries. as they have planned for the classes going forward. I doubt anything like KO Manipulation, but perhaps we'll see a Mastery at some point that applies some direct offensive damage mitigation, for example debuffing to hit on all targets the more a blaster fires at them (above and beyond anything seen in the dark sets of old).

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No, but I read up on it on

No, but I read up on it on paragonwiki and I saw the coffee break episode that showed it off. It looked a lot like something that kept blappers in mind, and it had a lot more melee powers in it and powers meant to be used in melee range. you check it out here http://paragonwiki.com/wiki/Martial_Combat sucks that the game went under before it could come out. At the least it would have shut up all those "Devs don't want you to make blappers" people as if they frowned on any innovation made by the player base rather than support it.

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I actually got to play it for

I actually got to play it for the period of time after I24 went into beta and before the game shut down. I managed to solo level a dual pistols/martial combat blaster from 1 to 50 during that time frame. It didn't have any more melee attacks then any of the other blaster secondaries in it, but many of it's AoE powers required medium to close range to take effect. The slow in Reaction Time combined with the ice ammo on dual pistols stacked nicely and worked well together. Not enough to counter the mid-level slow down that I experienced playing the blaster solo, but it was fun while it lasted.

The set flew by in the early and late levels though, and while the other blaster changes (which I was also testing) helped, I was always disappointed that a chance to have more of a discussion about the set changes never happened. I definitely felt like the changes were working, but weren't quite all the way just yet. More tweaking was still needed.

But Martial Combat was definitely a blapper set. Combined with the funky animations with Dual Pistols it very much felt like a gun fu style of fighting. F-U-N!

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notears wrote:
notears wrote:

The blaster was an offensive juggernaut, that's why it's secondary had offensive power in it such as melee attacks and powers to get people out of melee range or keep them at ranged level. Sure blasting from afar was fun but so was attacking in melee range with your melee powers and ranged powers at the same time, and a lot of people will still want to make something like that when the hunter goes live

Well my idea there was that by having the support side be passive or toggles, you'd have more time to blast (or blapp).
Instead of your big stun being on a fist, it's on all fists. Mag multipliers would be there just like damage multipliers off yer brawl for calculations.

For example, an ice manipulation tree would come with its punches yes. Perhaps a longer ranged or slight area punch because mass of ice sharding the place or just being a longer icicle, sure, and that can have its own slow...

But at an early level, "slow" is actually an ice-bullets style passive or toggle that stacks with whatever else you do. You now have freezing ammo, an extra dose of slow on that ice punch, and so on. But status effects would be "naturalized"? instead of you specifically needing to use the one specific punch to slow things.

So someone that wants to build up, say, poison DoTs, wouldn't have to take a specific blast set on top of the poison manipulation. You become a toxic ranger by taking it, though some blasts will have more magnitude than others, and your blaps (surely the manipulations will keep 2 or 3 attacks) tend to have the most. Nearly everything you do builds up at least a bit of it, no longer must you "use the one poison ability first and then move into melee because nothing else is poisonous". Nor would you need to stay at range because only your blasts are poisonous and there was no such poison-friendly tree so your blappers mean nothing on that side.

We'll have to disagree on "offensive juggernaut" though. Juggernaut they weren't, and the only thing offensive was their survivability! I was quite looking to I24 to remedy all that I must admit.

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Novacat wrote:
Novacat wrote:

notears wrote:
The blaster was an offensive juggernaut, that's why it's secondary had offensive power in it such as melee attacks and powers to get people out of melee range or keep them at ranged level. Sure blasting from afar was fun but so was attacking in melee range with your melee powers and ranged powers at the same time, and a lot of people will still want to make something like that when the hunter goes live
Well my idea there was that by having the support side be passive or toggles, you'd have more time to blast (or blapp).
Instead of your big stun being on a fist, it's on all fists. Mag multipliers would be there just like damage multipliers off yer brawl for calculations.
For example, an ice manipulation tree would come with its punches yes. Perhaps a longer ranged or slight area punch because mass of ice sharding the place or just being a longer icicle, sure, and that can have its own slow...
But at an early level, "slow" is actually an ice-bullets style passive or toggle that stacks with whatever else you do. You now have freezing ammo, an extra dose of slow on that ice punch, and so on. But status effects would be "naturalized"? instead of you specifically needing to use the one specific punch to slow things.
So someone that wants to build up, say, poison DoTs, wouldn't have to take a specific blast set on top of the poison manipulation. You become a toxic ranger by taking it, though some blasts will have more magnitude than others, and your blaps (surely the manipulations will keep 2 or 3 attacks) tend to have the most. Nearly everything you do builds up at least a bit of it, no longer must you "use the one poison ability first and then move into melee because nothing else is poisonous". Nor would you need to stay at range because only your blasts are poisonous and there was no such poison-friendly tree so your blappers mean nothing on that side.
We'll have to disagree on "offensive juggernaut" though. Juggernaut they weren't, and the only thing offensive was their survivability! I was quite looking to I24 to remedy all that I must admit.

Okay I see what your saying. It's a good idea, and since the hunter will be something that's added later the devs could have the resources and time to make manipulation this way and it would fit with the name maneuvers if they decide to use it. I for one like it! Aslong as I can still make a blapper.... I love me some blapper....

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LockOn wrote:
LockOn wrote:

I actually got to play it for the period of time after I24 went into beta and before the game shut down. I managed to solo level a dual pistols/martial combat blaster from 1 to 50 during that time frame. It didn't have any more melee attacks then any of the other blaster secondaries in it, but many of it's AoE powers required medium to close range to take effect. The slow in Reaction Time combined with the ice ammo on dual pistols stacked nicely and worked well together. Not enough to counter the mid-level slow down that I experienced playing the blaster solo, but it was fun while it lasted.
The set flew by in the early and late levels though, and while the other blaster changes (which I was also testing) helped, I was always disappointed that a chance to have more of a discussion about the set changes never happened. I definitely felt like the changes were working, but weren't quite all the way just yet. More tweaking was still needed.
But Martial Combat was definitely a blapper set. Combined with the funky animations with Dual Pistols it very much felt like a gun fu style of fighting. F-U-N!

Yeah, I wanted to make an archery/ martial blaster that used the new and improved fighting pools to become even more of a blapper, but well.... you know.....

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notears wrote:
notears wrote:

Okay I see what your saying. It's a good idea, and since the hunter will be something that's added later the devs could have the resources and time to make manipulation this way and it would fit with the name maneuvers if they decide to use it. I for one like it! Aslong as I can still make a blapper.... I love me some blapper....

I agree as well; I don't really make blappers myself but think it's at least conceptually awesome.
Way I see it, If a ranger or gunner is supposed to offer a measure of control, then doing this *at the expense* of attacking is doing it wrong. Tankers do not actively parry and block at the expense of firing off their own attacks. Scrappers do not regen at the expense of swording for the next ten seconds. Yay, even Controllers did not deal damage at the expense of building mezzing magnitude at that exact moment.