So I've been playing through arcade with different builds for awhile this weak. I think I've tested every non-summon (plant, cloud, frosty) and non-state (berzerk, shadow clone, static touch) build, though the "state" skills have appeared in my arsenal as add-ons from time to time. Most of what I saw left me horrified at how powerful magic is. However, Insect Swarm left me incredibly underwhelmed. From my playthrough and the game's description, I might not be fully aware of the intentions with insect swarm, but I do think it needs a few buffs. I'll start out by mentioning why it falls short of all its other partners.

How and Why Other Spells Are Stronger
Believe it or not, most other spells in the game are incredibly powerful. They are strong enough to hold their own at low charge. And shortly after silver is unlocked, they create and maintain the ability to one-shot enemies or just kill them within a second or two. This is why I said I was horrified. If you choose your build wisely, two things happen: 1) You can cast for a pseudo-infinite period of time. What does "pseudo infinite" mean? It means you can clear a Tai Ming Arcade Room by casting repeatedly, but be nowhere close to running out of EP. And 2) You can kill almost any enemy "instantaneously". Many spells can one-shot echoes of madness and even elite statues. Even if a spell doesn't one shot these enemies, another quick cast or a whack of the sword can finish the enemy off. Elite echoes can be killed before they finish their teleportation phase, usually within 3 or 4 teleportations. And the collateral often means at least half of the rest of an arcade room is finished off in the process. The only spells that aren't capable of such feats on their own are ice spells (Nova and Spike), but they can accomplish similar or even greater feats when combo'd with static touch.

So we know the two things that mage spells can do. But what makes this possible? Well that is another set of two things: 1) Snap Cast, Manaburn, and Efficient Counter are extremely powerful, especially when meshed with Empower, Atk Potion, and a couple other talents depending on the build. Those first 3 talents are the most important, but the other guys towards the end are still somewhat significant factors. Efficient counter (sometimes combo'd with the other shield ability) can give you pseudo-infinite EP. This makes it very safe and easy to take advantage of manaburn. At the same time, snap cast gives you extra dps as well. With everything put together, mages can out damage the previously nerfed focus canceling by perhaps atleast double or triple the amount. AT. LEAST. And it's incredibly safe too. Now I don't think this needs to be nerfed for a few reasons. I think that melee should instead get buffed. But that's for a different post that I'll be launching soon. Moving on... 2) Pretty much all the other spells deal "burst" damage. By this I mean that virtually all the power of a spell is released soon after its cast. Fireball does one do meteor and earth spike. In a sense, Ice magic does one hit. Chained lightening takes multiple hits but can be cast while another chained lightening is active. All of these spells do a lot of damage in a short time period. Flamethrower technically has a damage-over-time aspect to it, but it does so much damage that it may as well be looped in with the other spells. The major benefit of this is that when fused with fact #1, you can pretty much kill major threats whenever you want. And killing major threats is important for calming down any kind of arcade room or story spawn room. In arcade, instantly killing major threats will also instantly create a sense of release and a greater sense of ease for the rest of the room.

How and Why Insect Swarm Falls Short
The main problem with insect swarm is that it can take advantage of things like manaburn, but it does not have burst damage. (It also seems to have a little bit too much end lag for something so weak.) This means that major threats continue to remain in the room for extended time periods...which consequently means much less relief in any kind of arcade room or even story room. But not having burst damage has much larger consequences: It means you cannot fully take advantage of snap cast. The beauty of snap cast is that you get a lot of damage out for a short period after a pguard. This meshes well with the other spells that do a lot of damage in a short time frame. However, that's exactly the problem that insect swarm has with snap cast: snap cast only lasts a short period of time. This means that eventually, snap cast will lose its effect on the bugs that you've sent out. You'll have to keep getting more pguards and casting more bugs (or other spells) in order for the first bugs you sent out to keep doing decent damage. And remember that this is a damage over time spell. So you ain't bursting anybody even if you're taking advantage of the talents. So in short, insect swarm lacks a lot of the advantages that other normal spells have.

For the aforementioned reasons, I really do consider insect swarm a high-skill spell. It isn't easy to use due to how the aiming works (which I'll touch on in a bit). And it's different from the rest of its bursting partners. Your approach must be much more strategic. Are you in manaburn state? You should be if you want the bugs currently out to do more damaage. How will you stay in mana burn state? How many pguards from new enemies will you have to seek out in order to recast to gain higher MATK again? The thoughts and strats that have to go into this go on and on. I really think its "easy" label should be replaced with "high skill". And it should be given enough damage potential so that the high skill it requires is worthwhile.

All of that is what makes Insect Swarm hard to use effectively...but there are a few other problems as well. Some of the problems might be bugs. (lol "bugs")

1) The Damage Over Time (hereinafter DOT) is only good at gold charge. Insect swarm starts off extremely weak. I can literally drain all of my EP by trying to kill a single elite slime or elite rabby in arcade with insect swarm...and the enemy won't even be close to dying when the full attack is over. It's much faster to kill the enemy by melee-ing it with a staff (which has low atk power). Even at silver charge, the damage is better...but still not that great. Then suddenly, the damage ramps up at gold charge. This doesn't let you burst enemies at all, but it can deal significant damage to both enemies and bosses over time. It may have some of the highest dps against bosses in particular. So the real issue is the lower charges being too weak...they might need some buffs.

2) Damage from insects does not recharge potions. I'm not sure why this happens. However, it makes it incredibly difficult to stay on top of atk power. You'll have to intentionally shield attacks or attack other enemies with your staff/wand to get more charge back...and that wont' help you out too much.

3) The spell takes too long to charge. For the way it is now, the happy insect swarm just takes too much time to charge. It should probably be given the fire-ball treatment in respect to charge time. I say this because of how the insects work. The way they target enemies is quite peculiar (will comment on that later). You have to line yourself up the right way and be at the right distance. However, you move slowly while charging spells (taking longer for you to aim), and the insects move at a very slow speed at lower charges. This makes it incredibly difficult to aim. And it makes chain casting a particular enemy in a crowd quite difficult.

4) The insects are "dumb". From what I've seen, the insects pretty much have to run through an enemy at some point if you want it getting hit. It seems like the insects can really only "see" within the line you've cast them in. So they can attack near you on the same line, and maybe they can attack a little further from you on the same line. But what's really unfortunate about the flies (especially in combination with Problem #3), is that they can't really see anything outside of that line. You can literally brush your flies just slightly below or above an enemy, and the flies will never "see" it. This is what makes the long charge time on spells so awful. You pull away and turn around to cast. And by the time the flies get to your intended destination, the enemy is 5mm below the "line of sight" and gets missed. This means you burn a chuck ton of EP for nothing.

5) Due to problems #3 and #4, insect swarm may cost too much. This statement is straightforward.

6) Insects often miss what's right in front of them. The insects travel a certain distance before "determining the enemy to attack". The problem with this is that most enemies come towards you and crowd around you. You can try to hit a lood or high priority enemy that's right in front of you, but the insects will instead attack some stupid slime that you never cared about. So you burn EP. You lose the lood or still have to deal with the high priority enemy. And you have to wait until the other random enemy is dead before you can have any hopes of your original target getting hit (by that time there are so many enemies around that you're probably just out of luck).

7) Insects cannot see "out of plane". The game has several enemies that "go out of plane". Since insects cannot see out of plane, they're forced to shift to another enemy (or potentially just die) if the original target enters the air. The burns a lot of DOT capability and thus wastes a significant portion of your EP.

8) The spell seems to have just slightly more end lag than most other spells, making it even more vulnerable than its other competitors. This is another straightforward thing.

9) Enemies can become so crowded with bugs that it's hard to see their attacks. This is actually incredibly important because good visual and audio cues are necessary for getting pguards, and pguards are necessary for mages to do high dps. You can get a lot of dank bugs out, but having too many bugs (on a singl enemy) can possibly harm you.

10) Under some circumstances, insect swarm can lose dps when cast speed is increased. Tiz has reported this before. For some reason, higher cast speed causes bugs to die faster. This makes things very'd want higher cast speed to charge quicker (because the charge time is bad), but having cast speed that's too high decreases your dps.

Some Potential Improvements to Insect Swarm
That's a long list of problems. It could actually probably be added onto, really. I still don't care too too much about mage spells. But insect swarm is a cool concept that could probably get more loved. There are a few suggestions I have. Many of them are directly related to the problems I mentioned.

1) Improve insect swarm's damage potential at lower charges. This can mean a few things really, depending on how the balancing is done. I think that whatever happens, the silver and lower charges should probably get some kind of boost in damage. Most other spells can deal sufficient damage to elite rabbys and elite slimes...bug swarm cannot. That probably says something about how weak it is. However, this problem can also be addressed in other ways. A) The EP cost of the spell could be decreased. This allows for more casts. The cost for all the charges could probably get decreased? Swarm is much harder than gold earth spike, and it seems much less rewarding as well. But EP reduction may not be necessary depending on how swarm changed (assuming it gets changed). B) Another option is to lower the skillpoint requirements for insect swarm (assuming something like that actually gets implemented). It's hard to tell right now if insect swarm is really something that you can "main". Gold is great on bosses. But as far as anything else is concerned, the spell is likely better used as something combo'd with other spells. Then you can have "dps mines" on the field (somewhat similar to plants...but actually dealing damage). may be worth lower skill point cost? Idk. I think insect swarm could be transformed into a highly strategic main spell or a highly strategic side spell.

2) Allow all damage from insects to recharge the potion. I'm actually assuming that the potion not recharging is a bug. lol

3a) Shorten the charge time of the spell. It's really hard to aim that guy man. But because the lower charges are worthless, you have to charge your spell to do decent damage. It's only fair to increase the gold charge. The significance of this view is significantly impacted by the low dps on lower charges (ie Solution #1) and also by how insects choose their target (Solution 3b).

3b) Change the way insects choose their targets. While I'm writing this, I'm realizing that another reason insect swarm is lacking in its burst potential is that even after a cast, a certain delay must be incurred before the spell "truly takes effect". The insects run off, sit for a bit, and then finally choose to attack an enemy. Their line of sight is way too small. This is made evident by the fact that they can brush past an enemy just slightly and yet still miss them when spell is first cast. I think it's reasonable for insects to have a larger view. They already have a larger view after they've killed an enemy. Just give them a larger view while casting. Here's my idea: Give insects a conical view, where the vertex of the shape is at the player. The insects should attack the first enemy they "pass", whether they move through the enemy or they pass by an enemy in the conical area. Higher priority should be given to enemies closer to the player. If no enemies are found after traveling the standard horizontal distance, the insects should search the surrounding area, just as they do right after they kill an enemy. If an enemy is found, they attack. If any enemy is not found, they die.

Additionally, it may be beneficial to adjust the targeting procedure of insects after they kill an enemy. If the player is within a specified distance, perhaps the insect swarm can redirect attention towards enemies closer to the player when another enemy is finished off. This way, the insects are "protecting the player" in a sense. More importantly, this adds to the strategic fun potential that I think insect swarm has. Players can move close to the flies but be near other enemies (or bait a particular enemy on) to drag the insect swarm to a new enemy after the old one has died. At the same time, the player can stay away from the flies if he wants the enemies to be chosen randomly.

Depending on how this solution is implemented (assuming it is), 3a may or may not be necessary. I personally prefer 3a to get implemented regardless though. lol.

4) Allow insects to pursue enemies out-of-plane (in the air). A lot of DOT potential (and consequently EP as well) is lost when enemies go into the air -- especially if it's the only enemy in the room. It's completely fair to allow insects to pursue enemies into the air. It maintains damage, makes EP worthwhile, and it allows for interesting strategies as well. Of course, flies would have to be programmed to project themselves back onto the x-y plane if they kill an enemy in the air. On this note, I think something should possibly be done about hydras. They often get back up before a flies can finish doing anything (again, other spells don't have this problem). Maybe consider leaving hydra heads attackable at all shouldn't break too much. Or...just make them strictly vulnerable to insect swarm while they're not headbutting/on the ground. LOL.

5) Reduce the endlag on the player from casting insect swarm.
It's a high skill spell that leaves the player vulnerable. Some ability to quickly shield after casting would be helpful.

6) Resolve the weird cast speed issue. (That's probably a weird bug that none of us players no the location of.)

I think that's all I have. Though as an add-on, it would be great if there was a way to prevent crowding bugs from decreasing a player's ability to pguard (a consequence of the enemy getting mega crowded with bugs). Insect Swarm is a pretty awesome spell. All the other spells right now have the potential to great (and perhaps OP) things. I don't think those spells should get nerfed (for reasons I'll mention in my game-progress/melee-post later), but I do think Insect Swarm needs some love and buffs for the amount of effort it takes to use effectively.


Hello I'm Own and here is my hot take on how Insect Swarm could be made more interesting:
1. At bronze charge it can begin hitting flying enemies.
2. At silver charge, any enemies being attacked by insect swarm take extra damage from all non-Insect Swarm damage sources. Multi-skill / co-op synergy.
3. At gold charge, insects attack much quicker if you are nearby them.
4. They should be beautiful, deadly butterflies at gold charge because insects have several forms and are supposed to change dramatically, not just get bigger, haven't you seen Pokemon, god.

2 and 3 both solve the problem of it being a boring skill by giving incentives to do something beyond circle strafe enemies just throwing in insects whenever you can. 2 makes you want to combo it with other skills and 3 makes you want to get into the fray by rewarding you with increased DPS as you become lord of the flies. And 4 just makes it interesting to look at.