I just finished my second run through the game and overall i had a lot of fun with it.
However, there are a few issues regarding skill balancing that popped up very negatively during my time with the game and i wanted to share them here, so maybe you can improve upon them.
First of all: there are several issues regarding scaling stats and difficulty and they have been pointed out in multiple topics here. I am not gonna repeat them, but obviously agree.
I am going to restrict myself to one thing that really stood out to me:
Why are the casting times of abilities so heavily inconsistent? There are skills of different characters that essentially serve the same purpose but are classified as complete different regarding their casting duration.
The prime examples:
“War Blade” is arguably the strongest ability in the game, especially in late-NG+ where Garisson gets up to 40% ATK for every 10 overcharge used, but even as soon as you unlock it, it is already a very powerful ability - and it is “fast” .
Every other Ability with similar damage potential is “slow”: Execute, Ambush (which even needs another turn casting stealth) and even Garissons own “runner-up” Berserk.
Knolan and Calibretto both have a “Heal Party” ability, but Knolan’s is fast while Calibretto’s is slow. iirc Knolan’s is also a bit cheaper mana-wise. I did not make an effort to compare the healing power, i think Calibretto’s is slightly stronger for the same attack power, but still - why is the dedicated “healer” character worse at reacting to AoE damage ?
And the worst candidate: Calibretto’s Reincarnation.
Resurrection in JRPGs is sub-optimal in general because when you pick up one character a powerful enemy will just knock him down again - but not even this can be done with Reincarnation, which is made utterly useless for any serious combat situation by its casting time.
A character gets killed, you order Calibretto to reincarnate him and by the time he is finished casting the enemy already got another turn and probably killed a second character so you just lost the fight.
To be an actual alternative to the instantaneous potions, this skill needs to be instant (or close to that) as well. It is already fairly expensive mana-wise, but one could even push the cost up more, as long as the skill becomes actually useable when you need it.
I would suggest to take a look at the casting times in a future patch and re-assign them in a way that is consistent between characters as well as balanced for the power/purpose of the skill.
The reason for this is pretty simple: Warblade (when used at the appropriately high Overcharge cost) is also the single most expensive attack in the game and, when you use it, you’ll very rarely have any Overcharge remaining to fuel your next round’s high damage/cost attack with it.
The other abilities you mention will actually allow you to have some amount of Overcharge left over for the next round. In effect, Warblade requires 1 or more turns of recovery (unless you’re using High Paladin Armor, which provides Invigorate, and/or manage to get a kill) while none of the other skills you mentioned do.
Also, it’s important to mention that Warblade is only as powerful as it is because of Garrison’s crazy powerful Overcharge perks. Until you get those, you’re better off using pretty anything except for Warblade.
(numbers provided for my characters, which are in BiS gear with all perks/masteries/etc)
Knolan’s Mass Heal costs 15 mp, provides 9973 hp, is “Fast”, and has Overcharge Perks that can provide 60% Haste for his next action (1% haste per Overcharge per perk). With 3 targets, that’s 29919 healing.
Callibretto’s Guardian Song costs 20 mp, provides 6904 hp on its own, is “Slow”, and has Overcharge Perks that allow him to provide an additional 6960.8 hp (87.01 per Overcharge * 20 Overcharge * 4 perks) to the most damaged targets. With 3 targets, that’s 27672.8 healing, with a quarter preferentially provided to the most damaged targets.
Putting them both to shame, Alumon’s Dark Triage costs 20 mp, provides 6862 healing, is “Fast”, and has Overcharge Perks that increase that healing by a whopping 160% (2% per Overcharge * 20 Overcharge * 4 perks). With 3 targets, that’s 53523.6 healing.
That’s not even factoring in everything that Callibretto gets, however. Shifting Tides gives him a massive 40% increase to his next heal whenever he attacks, stacking up to 3 times, and Rising Power increases his AP (which affects heals) by 6% with each attack, stacking 5 times. Knolan doesn’t get anything like this. In fact, in practical terms, Knolan’s heals will likely be weaker than listed because those numbers that I provided factor in Arch Wizard, which provides him with an additional 40% AP while at max mp (400).
Furthermore, while Mass Heal is Knolan’s only AoE heal (barring his Burst 2), 'Bretto also has access to Cleansing Rain (which will heal a truly insane amount as well as automatically cleanse negative effects); 'Bretto also has higher crit and haste and way higher survivability ('Bretto has roughly twice the HP as Knolan and, via perks, significantly more defense and damage reduction as well). 'Bretto is also going to be healing other members of the party just by being there and doing stuff while Knolan will only be healing by specifically using a heal.
Basically, you’re trying to directly compare two abilities while ignoring everything else going on with the character. Callibretto isn’t just the “main healer” character: he’s the tanky healer character that is pretty much constantly healing even when he’s attacking. Knolan is a glass cannon DPS caster that can throw out heals sometimes.
First off, it’s important to note that all of the resurrection spells in the game are “Slow” and cost 25 mp, so it’s not just a problem with Reincarnation; it’s a problem with all of the revival abilities.
Secondly, I can understand why they would want resurrection abilities to be inferior to the consumables. Every other consumable in the game is laughable (legendary Celestial Group Healing Flask is a paltry 1514 hp to the entire party). Resurrection pots are pretty much the only consumable in game that isn’t terrible.
It’s also important to point out here that 'Bretto is also the most durable of the three healers. When a situation turns bad, 'Bretto is the one most likely to be able to survive it. Also, with his Overcharge perks, he’ll also be healing any other survivors when he revives the one downed person whereas the others will have to decide between reviving and healing.
I will agree that, since unconscious characters revive at the end of combat anyways, Revive abilities definitely need some kind of buff to make them more useful. Making them at least “Fast” (so that they don’t use up your second turn like “Slow” abilities do) would go a long way towards making them more useful, but you’re not really providing the best reasons for encouraging the devs to do so.
The speed and cost of 'Bretto’s Guardian’s Song is offset by all of the other stuff that 'Bretto brings along. Guardian Song might be worse than Mass Heal, but 'Bretto using Guardian’s Song is still a better healer than Knolan using Mass Heal (I would say 'Bretto is probably a better character outright than Knolan because Knolan is both squishy and terrible at Overcharge, which are the two things you don’t want in the endgame).
I see now that I did not make my point very clear tonight, I wanted to keep it short and thus omitted some stuff that you very correctly pointed out.
I of course don’t want every comparable skill to be exactly the same, that would be boring and ignoring the characters other abilities and balancing everything is a lot harder than I made it sound, because of lots of other factors.
However I still kind of disagree regarding war blade. You are correct that it has the disadvantage of using up all your overcharge, but that very rarely is a factor you need to think about. Battles are overall just way to short and garrison just stacks overcharge faster than anyone else. By the time Monica would have 40 overcharge to use execute twice in a row and that „advantage“ you mention would show,Garrison can pretty much stack 35 OC, use war blade and generate 20-40 overcharge again and that is not even factoring in the 2 slow turns needed to actually cast the executes.
So while you are right that the skill itself also has a down side, the rest of the game is currently designed in a way that it does not come up at all, making it OP for most of the game, safe only for a small phase at the start.
Now the best solution would be to change everything around that Problem to actually make the skill work as intended, but that seems a bit like calling for a /fixall button, which is why I proposed a smaller change that would make the ability more in line with other skills for the current state of the game.