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tModLoader How Calamity (and similar mods) could best balance Summoner Whips

Shyguymask

Terrarian
Here's my idea on how to best balance Whips in not just Calamity but content pack mods similar to it (but focusing in Calamity because it's the only one I played besides Thorium).

First of all, keep Whip stacking in. Whip stacking and other "hidden or unintended" techniques in video games as a whole are beneficial if not important to various games, and for Whip stacking's case not only does it add a lot of mechanical depth to Summoner, but in Vanilla's case it actually vastly improves the balance of Summoner. Otherwise, Vanilla Summoner deals too low damage in boss fights compared to other classes and options like Blade Staff, Cool Whip and Morning Star become outclassed or outright unusable. What I'm saying is that removing Whip stacking immediately crumbles the balance of Summoner weapons meaning it's arguably EVEN MORE WORK to balance in a content pack mod.

But then comes the first problem: "How do you balance whips for players only using one whip vs. people that go out of their way to whip stack?". I'd say the answer is fairly simple. if someone goes out of their way to whip stack multiple Whips while sticking close to the boss at the same time, they deserve to have the highest DPS in the tier in the first place after True Melee, higher than what is usual. As such, it's a safe bet to balance Summoner DPS around one-whip usage for like 90-100% of the expected DPS depending on how easy it is to Whip the boss consistently.

Flat damage tag or multiplicative damage tag? Before I give my answer, for this problem specifically it's time to separate whips as a whole into four categories and how they impact balance:

Flat whips: By far the main and most common type of whip, makes each minion deal a fixed amount of additional damage per hit. Heavily favored by Minions with low base damage but high hitrate like Blade Staff and Belladonna Staff.

Multiplicative whips: This is hard to define since Firecracker is the only example I know of, with Firecracker itself working differently compared to other whips. But to make it simple, as opposed to Flat whips, Multiplicative whips either directly multiplies the damage of your minions OR produces special effects that scale off the base damage of your minions, favoring minions with high base damage. Firecracker specifically favors slower hitting minions since its explosion effects only trigger once and needs to be applied again. Firecracker itself is gimmicky, so a "normal" Multiplicative whip would simply have the Summon tag damage effects except multiplicative instead of flat damage.

"DPS" whips: So far the failed and irrelevant type of whips, with 1.4.3 Cool Whip being the only example I know of. "DPS" whips do not directly affect or synergize with minions, instead they produce a glittery effect that deals a certain amount of damage governed by the whip's base damage. These are boring and shallow, but may be a necessary evil to an extent: They are VERY EASY to balance in comparison. Have their effects be triggered by minions hitting the enemy with a small cooldown on how often said effects can be activated, so that they don't become reliant on minion hitrates like Firecracker is. They obviously shouldn't deal nearly as much damage as weapons from other classes either.

Speed whips: Whips that increase Melee/Whip speed on top of their summon tag effect, being capable of making other whips swing faster when whip stacking to even further increase total DPS coupled with summon tag effects. In Vanilla 1.4.3 they affect Melee weapons like Terra Blade too, that should be removed.

So, neither flat tag damage or multiplicative tag damage is problematic. The issue no one talks about however is Speed whips. They are over-centralizing and too essential to use because of the whip base damage DPS they provide on top of their normal effects. Snapthorn is fine because of its super low range and small benefits, however I think Durendal and especially Dark Harvest should have their speed bonuses nerfed if not outright removed in content mods that want to add their own whips. This would make using them less obligatory, giving other whips (mainly new modded additions) the opportunity to shine and not be outclassed because of opportunity cost. This would weaken Summoner at first, however this is actually your opportunity to cover the gap with new whip additions.

With all of this in mind how could Calamity approach balancing throughout the game? Well, if I was a dev, I would reduce the base damage of almost every minion by around 40-50% then start working from there. I would also make a few minion-specific adjustments like reducing the projectile count of Belladonna Staff without touching its base damage. Pre-Hardmode for the most parts would still stick to mainly Flat tag damage with the classic Leather/Snapthorn/Spinal Tap offering it. There could be one or two new whip, perhaps a Multiplicative whip and a "DPS" whip for variety. And then have a few minions be slower hitting with higher base damage to give more appeal to non-flat playstyles.

Not only will this Pre-Hardmode approach keep the full depth of Summoner including experimenting with different options & synergies, but it will keep Blade Staff's identity intact in Hardmode. Not to mention vanilla minions like Flinx Staff and Vampire Frog Staff already give us a good hint on what hitrate and base damage minions should have (they have great AI for being grounded minions too).

Hardmode onwards would be where flat damage starts to be slowly abandoned in favor of Multiplicative whips and "DPS" whips. The biggest concern people have is Firecracker. Although Sanguine-Cracker is meta in 1.4.3 Vanilla even if it doesn't overshadow other high tier options, in Calamity it would be indirectly nerfed by increased boss aggression, Whip speed buffs being nerfed or removed as I suggested earlier and Obsidian Armor being nerfed. With all of these in mind, Firecracker is actually a lot more likely to be average at best with almost all minions, contrary to the outcry of it supposedly being busted. It will apply its 2.75x tag much less often and the average minion in Calamity has higher & more consistent hitrate than the average Vanilla minion. Hell, It cannot even manage to reach and hit Post-Moon Lord bosses like DoG's head, SCal and Exo-Twins consistently let alone safely. If anything Firecracker could possibly need a buff on paper, I'd say a Post-Cultist upgrade that mostly increases range too.

Other than that, a case-by-case approach of taking each nerfed Calamity minion and then having Multiplicative whips bring them back at 95-125% of their former power (depending on various factors and assuming aggressive whipping unless it's too unsafe) is very much doable. Challenging and requires dedication, but far from impossible or unsustainable. If I was in charge of balance, I would gladly spend weeks DPS testing and singlehandedly balancing every minion and whip. Preferably, some minions would rely on and benefit far more or less from Whips, like Shellfish Staff with its fixed DoT damage for example.

Post-Polterghast onwards, I actually think new Whips should start becoming weaker & less beneficial and Minions should get stronger. The reason for this is that Calamity Post-Moon Lord bosses are very inconsistent in how safe they are to whip let alone consistently. Polterghast is easy to hit with whips, but Devourer of Gods' head is basically impossible to whip consistently. Not to mention that by this point, there should be more than enough Multiplicative whips for Summoner to play around with. So all new whips introduced after Polterghast should simply be "DPS" whips that are easy to balance and only make a moderate contribution.

Assuming everything I have suggested and talked about is done and implemented, much of the concerns and problems have now solved themselves. What am I talking about? Well, still worried about Whip stacking? Indirectly nerfed and not as important thanks to Whip speed buffs being nerfed or removed, and with the way "DPS" whips would be designed in my mind, there wouldn't be a significant advantage in stacking them since you would need to consistently strike with the same one to get the most out of it. And I've already went over Firecracker: It's now significantly more dangerous and less rewarding to use despite no direct changes being made to it. And Blade Staff is viable(?) while still keeping its identity thanks to Pre-Hardmode Flat whips not being changed.




TL;DR: Leave Whip Stacking intact but indirectly nerf it through changes. Nerf minion base damages globally and tone down Belladonna's hitrate. Nerf or remove Melee speed buffs from Snapthorn, Durendal and Dark Harvest, have them not affect Melee weapons either way. Keep Pre-Hardmode mainly focused around flat summon tag damage. Have Hardmode whips onwards focus on multiplicative minion buffs alongside filler "DPS" whips governed by whip base damage. After Polterghast, have whips drop in relevancy and importance as bosses are becoming too aggressive and mobile, have minions be strong by themselves again to an extent as a result. Put effort into polishing balance once it's settled.
 

Milkboiplayz

Terrarian
Honestly i feel summoner i pretty balanced as it is now and even if it was to get nerfed 40-50% damage is way to much
 
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