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Further improving Summoners in Journey's End

Droter

Terrarian
Journey's End has brought some much-needed changes and improvements to Summoners, and while they are closer than ever to being on par with the other three classes, they still lag behind.
I have been thinking about how to bring Summoners up to speed with Warriors, Rangers and Sorcerers for a while, and this post is my attempt to identify the problems that the class still faces, find the origin of those problems, and give possible solutions.

I will review the current state of Summoners through several steps. I will start by laying out the developers' vision for the class as I understand it, its shortcomings, and how the game aligns with it. Then, I will take a look at actual gameplay and progression issues and inconsistencies, and finally, I will put everything together and offer suggestions and possible solutions.
Let's begin.

The Summoner vision

From what I have gathered, Summoners are meant to be a mixed class. This means that Summoners are meant to summon their minions and support them with weapons to perform well. For the longest time this weapon support has come from non-Summoner weapons, but the addition of whips in 1.4 has given Summoners the option of using on their own damage type. This mixed approach to the class is not a bad choice per se (and it's probably the best), but it has a few shortcomings that have hindered the class for a while and currently are only addressed partially. In this section I will focus mostly on the interaction between minions and non-Summoner weapons.
By taking this weapon damage + minion damage approach we find the first issue: Summoners don't have their own identity. Most often, playing Summoner doesn't feel like playing an invoker that supports their minions with weapons, it feels like playing a Warrior/Ranger/Sorcerer with minion backup, or like playing a subclass or a variant of one of the other three classes. This is because the Summoner's damage output is divided in two, a passive part (minions) and an active part (weapons). The active part is what determines how you play the game and most of the time you'll play as a non-Summoner because the alternative is using whips, which are scarce and their short reach doesn't fit the squishiest class too well. This is a gripe that a lot of players have with the class and is probably the reason as to why people usually ask for pure Summoners to be a thing. I must give props here to the developers because adding whips to the game is a fantastic step towards fixing this issue, although they fall a bit too short. Still, whips are awesome and provide the class with some flavour and a little bit of versatility.
The second issue of this approach is that it heavily restricts how Summoners can balanced. Warriors, Rangers and Sorcerers are fully capable of standing on their own, so it's easier to compare their performance relative to each other and adjust them accordingly. The unique approach for Summoners of weapon + minion damage inextricably links Summoner and non-Summoner performance, so buffing or nerfing weapons impacts non-Summoners first and Summoners second, which makes the task of rebalancing weapons for other classes with Summoners in mind pretty much impossible. Additionally, it also makes it very tricky to buff, change or create new minions with unique abilities and behaviours because the other three classes benefit directly from it. The default minion slot guarantees a free damage boost for non-Summoners, so changes to minions must invariably take this into account. For example, buffing a minion and making it very powerful would increase the damage output of everybody without bridging the gap in performance between Warriors/Rangers/Sorcerers and Summoners. The end result is that everyone is just stronger and the problem is not fixed.

Now that I've taken a look at the conceptual challenges of the developers' vision, let's take a look at how that vision is implemented into the game.

The game doesn't really promote a mixed Summoner playstyle more than it promotes mixing anything else. Terraria treats Summoners like any other class by giving them their own damage type, armors, accessories, WoF emblem and Lunar Pillar and gives players no reason to think that Summoners don't work in the same way, it just makes them look like they have too few or too weak weapons. In fact, introducing Whips unfortunately has reinforced this effect by giving actual summon damage to weapons but making them scant. If players end up playing mixed Summoner it's because they're pretty much forced to, not because the game encourages it, and this makes the class feel incomplete and it's easy to drop it in favour of another one.
There are a few things that kind of promote a mixed approach, like the Forbidden and Tavernkeep armors. However, the Forbidden Armor only allows Summoners to mix with Sorcerers, and it has a Warrior/Ranger counterpart, so they're more like fun, punctual sidegrades rather than the intended playstyle for the class. The OOA armors only become available in the mid to late hardmode and are geared towards sentries, so they can hardly be considered the intended Summoner playstyle either.
This lack of guidance is not actually bad, specially not in a sandbox game, but there is a very clear clash between how the game presents the class and how the class is supposed to work.

The Summoner reality

The first thing I must talk about is minion behaviour, but I won't get into the specific AI of every single minion for the sake of everybody's sanity. It will suffice to say that minion behaviour is very unreliable and all over the place. Most minions get stuck on terrain very easily and can't keep up with you if you move too fast. This means that minions do very little for you whenever you're underground or in a frenetic battle, as they spend their time either hugging a wall, attacking a random enemy that is far away or playing catch up. This defeats the idea of mixed Summoners beyond identity erasure, because it reduces the players' DPS drastically and leaves them very exposed and stuck with weapons for a class that they aren't playing. This is like if Sorcerers randomly and constantly got hit with several seconds of Mana Sickness. There are a few summons that are incredible because they always stay close to the player or don't have trouble navigating the terrain, like the Sanguine Bats, Enchanted Daggers, Terraprisma or the Stardust Dragon. These minions do fit the mixed summoner ideal and justify the paper thin armor of the class, but all others suffer from AI issues in some way or another, making them range from decent to nearly useless, and the lack of control over the minions hurts the class tremendously.
The game, fortunately, is aware that minions aren't perfect and allows you to manually target an enemy by right clicking it with a Staff or attacking it with a Whip. Minions, however, will only attack a targeted enemy if the enemy is within their range and in their direct line of sight, so they'll ignore the targets in most situations for the reasons explained above. The only situation in which Summoners play as one would expect is when the player is in a very open area and not moving a lot.

Here we reach the section about progression. I will separate this section into prehardmode progression and hardmode progression, but I want to put things into perspective first: In prehardmode, it's possible to craft 6 different wooden bows. You can only acquire 5 minion staves at that same stage. Also, there are 20 yoyos in whole the game, but only 19 minion staves. There are more yoyos in the game, a single type of weapon for Warriors, than staves, which are the bread and butter of Summoners.
We need to get into specifics to truly understand how stiff Summoner progression is. Again, I will leave the individual performance of each weapon out to make things simple. Out of the five staves available in prehardmode, only the Hornet and Imp staves are craftable, and both are mid to late prehardmode weapons. The Slime Staff has such a low chance to be obtained that it might as well not exist, the Finch Staff is not guaranteed to generate in a world (and in fact you're not even guaranteed to get Living Trees) and the Vampire Frog Staff is one of the hardest items to obtain in prehardmode. Players need to get really lucky if they want to play Summoner in the early game. If you've played Terraria for a long time, this might be ringing a bell. Sorcerers were in a very similar situation before patch 1.2. Fortunately, the prehardmode Whips are easy to obtain, but there are only two of them and players are not likely to have minions when the Leather Whip becomes available. On the bright side, the Tavernkeep sentries are actually fairly powerful and useful at the stage in which the T1 OOA can be farmed, and the Bee Armor can be crafted at the same time than the other equivalent class armors. Overall, in a regular prehardmode Summoner playthrough, out of the eleven weapons available, players are likely to only have access or bother using about half of them.

Moving onto hardmode, and before I get into specifics, I must give props again to the developer team for the Summoner armor changes. The inclusion of a Summoner helmet variant for the Hallowed Armor has bridged the gap that existed between early hardmode and Plantera, and the Tiki and Spooky armors no longer overlap thanks to the buff to the latter. Summoner armor progression is now practically on par with everyone else, so I won't comment on it in this section.
The weapon progression gets better in early hardmode but is still severely limited. Out of the five pre-Plantera staves, only two of them are craftable, with the Spider Staff being craftable right away, and the Optic Staff requiring to kill The Twins first. The Blade and Pirate staves are gated behind heavy RNG, and the Sanguine Staff is just ludicrous to obtain. There are three pre-Plantera whips that follow a standard progression: one is dropped by WoF, one is craftable before the mechanical bosses, and the last one is craftable after one mechanical boss has been downed. Regarding sentries, the Spider Queen can be crafted just like the Spider Staff, and the Tavernkeep sentries become available along with the Dunredal and the Optic Staff, although players are not likely to obtain them right away unless they've farmed the T1 OOA a lot. Assuming that a player goes for summon damage only, a typical early hardmode Summoner playthrough starts with the Imp Staff and maybe the Firecracker, then moves on to the Spider and Queen Spider staves and the Cool Whip, and finally changes to the Optic Staff, Dunredal, and maybe a Tavernkeep sentry. If players want to deviate from this straight path, their only option is to do some heavy grinding for one of the other three staves. The disparity between the options that Summoners have and the options that other classes have is enormous. Non-Summoners have access to craftable swords, spears, repeaters, spells and other weapons before killing any boss, they can also farm reliably biome mimics for powerful drops and they too have the option of finding, buying, fishing or grinding a much wider array of rare weapons.
After Plantera, the game changes its main focus from crafting and exploring to getting drops from bosses and events. This is the point in the game in which the content gap for Summoners is the smallest, although it's still present. However, Summoners no longer have to go out of their way to obtain new or different equipment, and most enemies and events at this stage have something to offer to the class. I won't get into the details of how many weapons are offered to each class by each boss and event, but I will point out here that it's strange how Golem and the Frost Moon don't have any Summoner drops.

This last section is dedicated to inconsistencies or minor problems that don't fit well in other sections, but that still contribute to dragging Summoners down.
Staves and sentries cost mana to use. This is such a weird feature, especially considering that summon weapons didn't cost mana when they were introduced. This choice feels unnecessary and I'm not sure of what is its purpose other than to force these weapons to get magic related prefixes. Meanwhile, Whips get melee related prefixes, and more strangely, positive speed modifiers shorten their range and negative speed modifiers lengthen it, but this is only true for the prefix on the whip itself and not for buffs from accessories or armor. Also, the best modifiers for staves and whips are not Mythical and Legendary as expected. Reforging is very straightforward for non-Summoners but it's very contradictory and unintuitive for the fourth class and contributes to making it feel left behind.
Speaking of things that aren't intuitive, the Titan Glove and its tinkers granting autoswing to Whips feels out of place. Summoners are forced to equip a heavily Warrior oriented accessory just to gain a small benefit, which doesn't make sense mechanically nor thematically, and on top of that the tooltip of the item doesn't indicate this either. The Hallowed Hood has a similar issue of not letting the player know relevant information. This helmet includes a +2 bonus to minion capacity with the set bonus but it doesn't tell the player.
Minion management has a few quirks. When a new minion is summoned after the minion cap has been reached, the new spawn replaces the most recent minion instead of the oldest one. This forces players to manually cancel the minion buffs every time and re-summon everything, and it can get annoying, especially when trying to mix creatures from different staves. Dying also un-summons all minions because the buffs are lost on death. This proves to be particularly problematic during events and invasions, as Summoners are very vulnerable and can be easily spawncamped.
There's a small issue with how the Tiki armor is obtained. The Witch Doctor sells it when the player has a Pygmy Staff in the inventory, but in a best-case scenario there's only a 50% chance that Plantera drops the weapon. It's not rare to have to kill this boss two or three times for the staff, and having to find bulbs and the tough fight can easily make obtaining the Tiki armor a chore. The next armor, the Spooky armor, is not in line with the other pre endgame armors. The Beetle, Shroomite and Spectre armors provide an unique set bonus to each class, and this set bonuses get buffed or expanded with the Luminite armors. The Spooky armor simply provides a stat boost like all the other Summoner armors.
Minions don't have access to critical hits, which is one of the major combat features in the game. Some late game whips and armors allow summons to crit at a fixed rate, which is fantastic, but this are the exceptions, not the rule. Minions lacking access to critical hits makes several accessories and items less useful for Summoners and further singles out the class in a negative way.
There's an unusual lack of tinkers and unique effects for Summoner oriented accessories. This is not something negative on itself but it's weird how the other classes get some decently complex tinkers and items while the Summoner accessories just grant extra minion/sentry capacity, damage and knockback and have a single combination of two accessories.
Imps and Vampire Frogs still max out iframes occasionally. Besides the loss of damage, not being able to push back a monster when expected to is very dangerous for a class that has no option but to keep away from enemies, and this is particularly true at the start of hardmode or when playing on higher difficulties. Since I have this issue at hand, and to end this section on a positive note, I want to thank the developers for preventing most minions from maxing out enemy i-frames. This issue often made Summoners an actively harmful class, especially in multiplayer, and I'm glad it's mostly gone now. Making minions update their damage dynamically was a healthy change for the game too.

Suggestions and solutions

The solutions that I present in this section try to follow the patterns and stablished conventions of Terraria and I will often compare the changes I propose to existing mechanics. Almost all changes that I suggest build and expand on content that is already present in the game instead of removing it as to not alienate players that are used to how things work now. These changes are varied in nature and difficulty of implementation, and while I'm not a programmer, in general I try to keep things simple for the sake of the developers. These solutions aim to be healthy for the game, realistic and fitting, but they're not perfect and I encourage the discussion of these ideas and everything that came before them.

Although I have made an effort to differentiate and categorize all issues, in reality some of them are either related or a direct result of each other. In consequence, some of the solutions must cover several problems at once, and in turn these solutions entail or give way to the smaller fixes for the smaller issues. Let's start with the largest group of related subjects: Lack of class identity, heavily restricted balance options and stiff progression.

The root of all these problems is the link between Summoner and non-Summoner performance, that is, half of a Summoner's damage depends mostly on weapons from other classes. As explained at the beginning, this link erases most of the identity of the class and limits severely how Summoners can be balanced, which makes it very hard to fix their progression and give them new content.
Severing this link is the first step towards fixing all these issues, and the developers are aware of it because they already have taken the first step towards this goal in Journey's End: They introduced Whips, and most importantly, tag damage. Think of how Rangers work. Mechanically speaking, their damage output depends on three factors: weapon damage, ammo damage and ammo effects. Similarly, with the new whips Summoner damage also depends on three factors: minion damage, whip damage and tag damage. Summon weapons and tag damage should be further expanded upon to allow Summoners to stand on their own. Tag damage in particular is the most important factor here because it allows to filter minion and weapon performance by just changing some numbers.
Let's put a very simple example to illustrate this:
Picture three people playing in the early game after doing some mining and exploring. Two of these players want to play as Summoners and the other one as a Warrior. The party has been extremely lucky and each member has found a Finch Staff and is using it. One of the Summoners also uses a Leather Whip, the other one a Rally and the Warrior a Platinum Broadsword.
If each player were to hit a dummy once with each weapon the Leather Whip Summoner would deal 14 + (7+4) = 25 damage, the Rally Summoner 14 + 7 = 21 damage and the Warrior 15 + 7 = 22 damage.
Now, let's change these numbers. Let's say that we reduce the base damage of the Leather Whip to 10 and the Finch Staff to 4, but increase the tag damage to 10. The players now deal 10 + (4+10) = 24, 14 + 4 = 18 and 15 + 4 = 19 damage each.
It's possible to shift the values of summon weapon damage, tag damage and minion damage around to achieve many different effects, but in this case they've been used to control the amount of free damage that non-Summoners/offclassing Summoners get from minions in the early game. However, this is not the only advantage that this approach brings. Additionally:
- Summoner gameplay is left unchanged. The developers' vision is kept the same, albeit slightly reoriented, and nothing is lost in the change. Players won't have to get used to new mechanics nor will miss the old ones.
- Summoner performance is no longer dependant on weapons for the other classes, which removes all associated constraints. This allows to balance Summoners around their own weapons and in relation to the other classes, not based on the other classes directly. The creation of new staves no longer has to take into account how non-Summoners are impacted.
- The active part of playing Summoner now focuses on tag damage and Summoner weapons, giving the class an unique identity without reducing the importance of minions, and paving the way to the introduction of new Summoner content.
- The opportunity to add new Summoner content to the game allows the class to be on par with the others, fixes the progression issues and makes the class consistent with how it is presented by the game.
- Offclassing to and from Summoner is now very similar to how offclassing to and from other classes works.
In summary, the solution to the Summoner's major problems is within reach and the developers just need to keep exploring the concepts they've introduced in Journey's End and add more Summoner content to go along with them.

This should fix the conceptual issues of the class, now let's try to fix some of the practical issues.

Whips and tag damage aren't complete without reliable minions, and currently several of them don't hit the mark. The most direct solution would be to update the behaviour of all underperforming minions, but this isn't a realistic option. I can only think of a bandaid solution: making minions warp back to the player on right click. This would replace the manual targeting of staves, which isn't useful most of the time, and should apply to whips and other future summon weapons too. This would allow Summoners to regroup their minions whenever they get stuck or can't catch up, increasing their effectiveness and making it easier to set targets with whip attacks. Minions already warp along the player whenever a Magic Mirror or other warping items are used, so this mechanic shouldn't be too farfetched.

Filling the progression gaps, unfortunately, has no easy workaround and requires introducing a good chunk of new content into the game, which entails lots of new art, code and testing and rebalancing. Providing specific ideas for new items and their and stats is beyond the scope of this post, but I will cover the areas that need attention and point at some specific changes that would benefit the class. I'm also going to provide a concept for a new type of Summoner weapon that increases the versatility of the class and complements whips. I'll start with that.

Think about the Flying Knife. This weapon follows the player's cursor and sways back and forth around its position. Now replace its sprite with a Raven or a Deadly Sphere. This is a perfect weapon for Summoners, and it's the base for this new type of weapon. I'll call them Shepherds. Shepherds are weapons that usually resemble existing monsters and follow the cursor in a pattern that matches the creature they're based on. For example, an Eater of Souls shepherd would fly towards the cursor and pince in circles around it like the enemy does, while a Face Monster shepherd would chase and jump towards the cursor, following the fighter AI. Shepherds have tag damage and mark enemies as targets on hit like whips, and ideally, minions would follow after them so they can stay close to the action. The idea behind this type of weapon is to provide a medium to long range alternative to whips, which tend to be medium to short range. Shepherds would be safer to use but weaker, perfect for the class with less defense in the game, and whips would be riskier but more rewarding, useful for experimented Summoners that like their action up close. Shepherds can be as varied and powerful as the monsters in Terraria are, and hopefully, basing their behaviour on existing code would reduce the amount of work required to implement them. They may also have a limit on their reach and flight time, like yoyos, to prevent players from abusing them. As for how are they obtained, there's a very straightforward answer: They're either dropped directly by their respective monsters or crafted from drops of said enemies. Going back to the Eater of Souls and Face Monster shepherd examples, they could be crafted with Rotten Chunks and Shadow Scales or Vertebrae and Tissue Samples. Finally, shepherds match the class thematically; they're basically invoked monsters that obey the Summoner.

With that in mind, let's move on and talk about content to fix the progression.
Starting in prehardmode, several new whips could be implemented to match the progression of Warriors, Rangers and Sorcerers. These would include wooden or metallic whips to match swords, bows and gem staves, Corruption and Crimson whips to match EoW/BoC gear, and a dungeon chest whip to match the dungeon loot. Shepherds could be sprinkled throughout all of prehardmode in a similar fashion to complement or serve as alternatives to the whips.
Regarding minions, the Slime and Finch staves should be made easier to obtain since they are the early game summons. The Slime Staff could be given a simple crafting recipe, and its damage output could be controlled through the tag damage of early whips. Like in the Finch Staff example before, if the current damage of the Baby Slimes is 8, it could be reduced to 2 or 3 and make metal whips compensate this loss. This would force players to carry a whip to make full use of the minion, just like they have to carry arrows to use bows, and the staff wouldn't be useless on its own because it would still provide a small amount of support and knockback. The Finch Staff and the Living Trees should work like the Floating Islands and their loot; a minimum number of Living Tress and at least one of each item in their loot pool is always guaranteed to generate in a world. These changes would provide players with a foothold for would-be Summoners, just like the Wand of Spark and the gem staves did for Sorcerers, and the choice of a ground-based minion or a flying minion would increase the versatility of the class. In fact, I think that Summoners should have this choice of ground or flying minions at most stages of the game, as they adapt better to different situations. New minions could be added to bridge the gap between the start of the game and the jungle gear, either in the tundra, the desert or the evil biomes, and the Vampire Frog Staff should either be buffed, made easier to obtain or both. Optionally, the Obsidian Armor could be updated into an early Summoner Armor, akin to the Wizard Robes or the Fossil Armor.
In hardmode, the Spider Staff should be accompanied by a new craftable Staff that calls forth flying minions and optimally the Destroyer and Skeletron Prime could have staves based off of them to match the Twins and the Optic Staff. My suggestions for this staves are a Stardust Dragon-like minion that resembles the Destroyer and shoots lasers from each segment instead of charging at the enemy, and a Skeletron Prime looking sentry that either attacks with its arms like regular sentries or spins in place to provide area denial like the Clinger Staff. The post-Plantera dungeon could provide a flying minion to go with the ground-based pygmies, maybe one related to Dungeon Spirits or Giants Cursed Skulls, and Golem and the Frost Moon could provide ground based minions, since there are plenty of flying minions at that stage. Some obvious choices are a Santa-NK1 Staff and a Lizhard or Beetle Staff (not all beetles fly).
Hardmode ore whips should be made available to help Summoners in the early hardmode just like the hardmode ore swords, spears and repeaters help Warriors and Rangers. Chlorophyte could also use a whip recipe, and Goblin Summoners and biome mimics are begging to have whips in their loot tables. A couple of extra whips could also be fitted into post-Plantera events and bosses, maybe in the Solar Eclipse, the Frost Moon or the Martian Madness.
Hardmode offers countless enemies that could be turned into shepherds, but some of the most interesting and unique candidates are Desert Spirits, Giant and Ice Tortoises, Cursed Hammers/Crimson Axes/Enchanted Swords, Chaos Elementals, Angry Trappers, Paladins and Martian Drones. Even some bosses could drop or become shepherds.
The Tiki Armor ought to be always available after defeating Plantera to prevent having to kill her several times, or at least make the boss always drop the Pygmy Staff on her first kill, like the Grenade Launcher. The Spooky Armor has been buffed recently, but it doesn't match the pattern of all the other pre-endgame armors. A new set bonus would correct this situation. The most fitting bonus would be a thematically relevant and weaker version of the Stardust Guardian, but I think that a set bonus like the one from the Forbidden Armor could work really well too.

The new Summoner mechanics also bring the possibility of updating or introducing items, accessories and tinkers with new stat boosts, like extra tag damage and tag critical strike chance. For example, several accessories that grant extra critical strike chance could also grant a small tag critical strike chance boost. I would also like to suggest making a new glove accessory that grants autoswing to whips and removing this feature from the Titan's Glove and its upgrades. If the Summoner's arsenal is getting expanded, it would make even less sense to have this feature on a melee-oriented accessory, and a new glove could be an excellent candidate for new Summoner tinkers.

Summoner specific prefixes could also be implemented now to make reforging clear and straightforward for the class. All non-universal prefixes for weapons boost damage, critical strike chance, knockback and speed, and then have a class specific stat boost: size for Warriors, velocity for Rangers and mana cost for Sorcerers. I think this formula can be used for Summoners, but the unique nature of the class calls for some adjustments. Damage and knockback stay the same, but critical strike chance is replaced with tag critical strike chance. Speed increases the reach of whips and shepherds in the way it's expected, and the class specific boost is tag damage. As for staves, the best course of action that I can see for them is removing their mana cost and restricting them to universal prefixes, but with tag critical strike chance instead of regular critical strike chance.

Finally, minions should be replaced from oldest to newest when the cap is reached and a staff is used. It would also be lovely to keep minions on death to avoid the hassle of re-summoning everything after respawning. The most obvious approach would be to make players keep the minion buffs on death, like weapon imbuements, but this would probably cause the minions to stay onscreen, attacking everything they can until the Summoner revives. A better solution would be to make the game remember which and how many minions the player had on the moment of their death, and automatically use the respective staves from the inventory after respawning. If the player were to have more minion capacity at the moment of their death than after respawning, the most recently summoned minions would be ignored.

With this changes, hopefully the class would finally reach the mixed Summoner ideal and make everyone happy.

Thank you for reading! Please let me know your opinion!
 

JohannSimm

Retinazer
The game, fortunately, is aware that minions aren't perfect and allows you to manually target an enemy by right clicking it with a Staff or attacking it with a Whip. Minions, however, will only attack a targeted enemy if the enemy is within their range and in their direct line of sight, so they'll ignore the targets in most situations for the reasons explained above. The only situation in which Summoners play as one would expect is when the player is in a very open area and not moving a lot.
Well-said.
There's a small issue with how the Tiki armor is obtained. The Witch Doctor sells it when the player has a Pygmy Staff in the inventory, but in a best-case scenario there's only a 50% chance that Plantera drops the weapon. It's not rare to have to kill this boss two or three times for the staff, and having to find bulbs and the tough fight can easily make obtaining the Tiki armor a chore.
The Tiki Armor ought to be always available after defeating Plantera to prevent having to kill her several times, or at least make the boss always drop the Pygmy Staff on her first kill, like the Grenade Launcher.
This has already been done in 1.4. The Witch Doctor now just sells the armor when Plantera has been defeated.
Whips and tag damage aren't complete without reliable minions, and currently several of them don't hit the mark. The most direct solution would be to update the behaviour of all underperforming minions, but this isn't a realistic option. I can only think of a bandaid solution: making minions warp back to the player on right click. This would replace the manual targeting of staves, which isn't useful most of the time, and should apply to whips and other future summon weapons too. This would allow Summoners to regroup their minions whenever they get stuck or can't catch up, increasing their effectiveness and making it easier to set targets with whip attacks. Minions already warp along the player whenever a Magic Mirror or other warping items are used, so this mechanic shouldn't be too farfetched.
Good idea. This could fix a lot of issues if implemented correctly.
I'm also going to provide a concept for a new type of Summoner weapon that increases the versatility of the class and complements whips.
Starting in prehardmode, several new whips could be implemented to match the progression of Warriors, Rangers and Sorcerers.
All excellent ideas, but the ship has probably sailed on many new items being introduced after 1.4.
Regarding minions, the Slime and Finch staves should be made easier to obtain since they are the early game summons.
I thing this would go a long way towards making summoners more viable. This is definitely doable, and has been discussed multiple times in the Journey's End Feedback Thread.
Finally, minions should be replaced from oldest to newest when the cap is reached and a staff is used. It would also be lovely to keep minions on death to avoid the hassle of re-summoning everything after respawning. The most obvious approach would be to make players keep the minion buffs on death, like weapon imbuements, but this would probably cause the minions to stay onscreen, attacking everything they can until the Summoner revives. A better solution would be to make the game remember which and how many minions the player had on the moment of their death, and automatically use the respective staves from the inventory after respawning. If the player were to have more minion capacity at the moment of their death than after respawning, the most recently summoned minions would be ignored.
A solid idea that reduces hassle.
 

Droter

Terrarian
This has already been done in 1.4. The Witch Doctor now just sells the armor when Plantera has been defeated.
Oh, that's really good! I've got the Pygmy Staff on my first Plantera kill the last few times I've played Summoner so I didn't notice the change.
All excellent ideas, but the ship has probably sailed on many new items being introduced after 1.4.
I read somewhere that the developers still plan on pushing a couple of smaller content updates. If that's true I think those would be great chances to add Summoner content to the game.
I thing this would go a long way towards making summoners more viable. This is definitely doable, and has been discussed multiple times in the Journey's End Feedback Thread.
Fantastic! I did check that thread but I don't remember seeing a discussion about early game Summoner weapons in particular.

Thank you for your reply and your support!
 

danrevic

Terrarian
Great post that outlines the current state of, problem with, and solutions to the class!
I really like the shepherd idea since whips are far too risky to use in certain situations, especially fighting the Wall of Flesh on master mode since I believe pure summoners need to spam-cast a sentry as pseudo-magic weapon to deal enough damage without dying.

What I also wonder is if minions could have an increased aggression radius + speed when a boss-type enemy is active - or from a potion buff. During late hardmode fast movement becomes so important most minions are torn between catching up with you or chasing the boss rather than actually dealing damage.
 

Halocaster

Official Terrarian
This forum post is very detailed and packed with so many information! Everyone must see this :>

Summoner is still broken and it needs more content to unleash it's full potential! The devs really need to make something to make the summoner class less broken.

It would also be lovely to keep minions on death to avoid the hassle of re-summoning everything after respawning.
I like this idea :>

If they don't want to implement this, then maybe they should make an accessory that respawns minions after the player respawns eek
 

Egaida the 1st

Terrarian
I think that the summoner class should be a supporting class that when used exclusively, is a whole picture. And not a amalgamation of things that go well, the way, pure summoners are being forced to. For e.g, whips are ok as summon weapon type but they´re current position of use is not ok for the summoner class. This is because summoners are meant to be a delicate flower unlikely to be touched. So whips shouldn´t be constant damage source but a damage amplifier to keep it from being a inferior melee class. Although, the summon tag damage part, I don´t agree with as I believe it should be defense reduction as nothing in the class has this ability (the blade staff is in its own niche so I won't count that). Plus if the whip is not be a constant use item, the debuff inflicted should increased to atleast 1 min. A semi-constant use weapon type needs to be added that also inflicts summon tag damage but does reduced impact damage to balance the increased overall damage. My idea is to add bind minion type ( shouldn´t use a minion slot) that 1) slows & damages a non-flying yet moving target 2) adds summon tag that I, previous said. Although, #1 wouldn´t apply to bosses.
 

noobsqoou

Terrarian
I agree with virtually everything you've stated here. I have been working on a big list of fixes/changes/additions for Summoners for weeks but haven't posted it because it just keeps growing. It includes entirely new accessories and weapons geared specifically towards Summoners. Maybe I'll go ahead and post what I have anyway and just add things later if I think of anything else.
 

Droter

Terrarian
Great post that outlines the current state of, problem with, and solutions to the class!
Thank you!
What I also wonder is if minions could have an increased aggression radius + speed when a boss-type enemy is active - or from a potion buff. During late hardmode fast movement becomes so important most minions are torn between catching up with you or chasing the boss rather than actually dealing damage.
This is very true and I think the extra speed would be very welcome and would combine very well with the ability of warping back minions. I'm not so sure about the increased aggression radius, I feel like it would make minions wander off and attack random monsters more easily, especially if they move faster.

This forum post is very detailed and packed with so many information! Everyone must see this :>
Thank you too!

I think that the summoner class should be a supporting class that when used exclusively, is a whole picture. [etc]
Sorry, I think I don't quite understand some of the points you're making. You mean that whips should apply armor reduction, like Ichor, instead of tag damage? Wouldn't that achieve practically the same effect?
Also, I learned while researching for this post that anything that affects the movement speed of enemies is a big no-no from the devs, so I'm afraid that bind minion types wouldn't fly in the form you've presented them.

I agree with virtually everything you've stated here. I have been working on a big list of fixes/changes/additions for Summoners for weeks but haven't posted it because it just keeps growing. It includes entirely new accessories and weapons geared specifically towards Summoners. Maybe I'll go ahead and post what I have anyway and just add things later if I think of anything else.
I'm glad you agree! I'm sure that a lot of people would like to see suggestions about specific changes, so please post your ideas when you finish the list!
 
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