As I said in a brief post in another thread a few days ago, recently I decided to give bludgeon a try for fun since I got a free big book of unlearning and I knew it had recently been improved. Prior to this, my opinion of bludgeon, without having played it much in a long time, was something along the lines of "Debuffs seem useful in groups vs. big stuff, and stuns are cool, but this is just giving up too much damage for what you get." I think this is probably the prevailing opinion, and @Chris seemed to express in the latest live stream that he thought bludgeon still needed a lot of work, too. I'm not here to argue against that, or to make any conclusions at all really, but I just wanted to share some of my observations and thoughts after having put in a lot of play time lately and giving it more of a chance. For reference, my avatar is currently AL 111 and has 1333 points in bludgeon. I'm a tank type that uses only melee for damage, usually dual wield, and the only magic I use regularly is buffs and sometimes HoT spells. My specializations are bludgeon and death, although I only use death for the long duration/low fizzle death shield. My experiences may be much different than those of other people that have used bludgeon but that are higher or lower level or that have builds that are fundamentally different in other ways. Four main thoughts come to mind at the moment: 1. Bludgeon knockdowns and stuns prevent enough damage that defense can be traded for offense much more often than with other melee skills. When I first started using bludgeon, my damage went down a lot, despite the fact that I spent all the points that I previously had in polearms on it. What I came to realize after a while was that a lot of the lost damage was due to my failure to adjust my decks and gear to more fully take advantage of all the damage prevention that comes with bludgeon. I started to use berserk and berserker stance almost 100% of the time and stopped messing with any defensive buffs other than death shield. I swapped in hardened leather gloves and legs as well as a Nefario hood for a little bit of extra damage vs. plate. I started keeping my mosssy handle maces bagged most of the time and instead went with generic maces with better damage masterworks. Even after giving up all my damage resistance, avoidance, and most of my regen, I'm still about as durable as before most places and my damage is now pretty comparable to other melee schools vs. normal mobs. 2. The balance between melee trees changes with progression, because bludgeon benefits more from scaling skills than the other two melee trees. When I say "scaling skills", I'm talking about skills that maintain their power as the player and/or mobs get stronger. (There's probably already some term for that, but I don't know it.) For example, haste is a scaling skill because 50% haste is equally as good at high level as it is at low level. Non-scaling skills like do x damage, heal x damage, etc, need to keep improving in order to keep up with bigger tougher mobs, whereas scaling skills just keep getting better if their progression is possible. Both berserk and berserker stance are scaling skills. One gives a +weapon damage% bonus and the other gives a +haste% bonus. I don't know how strength effects damage, so I'm not sure if that would also be considered a scaling effect, but in any case, the higher these skills go, the better they get, and they are both relatively cheap skills. Currently this is my base crushing blow damage range with just strength of earth and inner strength buffs up: This is with berserk/berserker: The increase in glyph damage you can see there, and the haste bonus is 41.3%. It's a pretty significant damage increase, and it will be a bigger and bigger increase as I put more points into it. It's also worth noting that the increase in damage from backstab is greater for a bludgeon user than for other melee schools, because most mobs are knocked down or stunned for the majority of fights. In addition to scaling damage skills, bludgeon specialization also gives additional stun and debuff scaling. The debuffs are probably not a big deal, but at 100 specialization, ground pound stun is 5 seconds with over a 60% success rate. It's also probably quite easy to get crushing blow stun to over 10 seconds. 3. The difference between melee schools vs. boss mobs is usually extreme. Like some others have mentioned in recent threads, bludgeon is very good vs. lich bosses, which are vulnerable to both stuns and knockdowns. A lot of other stuff can be added to that category also, such as cabalists, high level humanoids, and some random stuff like KKongg. While it makes sense for different builds to be better at some things than others, bludgeon completely dominates some mobs that are probably supposed to be never be that easy. You can quite often just completely lock down vulnerable bosses, the same as you could vs. some fodder mob. On the other hand, some bosses are much, much, much more difficult to solo with bludgeon than they are with polearms or blades, if not completely impossible in some cases. It makes sense that stabbers would be better at some things because they have DoTs and -heal mods, but mobs with high regen amplify the damage differential between the weapon types, and the difference in power becomes much greater. Hypothetically, if player A does 200 damage per unit of time and player B does 400 damage per unit of time, player B will kill most things about twice as fast as player A. However, if they each fight a mob that regenerates 100 damage per unit of time, player B will now kill that mob three times as fast as player A, assuming that player A doesn't now just die or run out of focus. Some bosses are more normal. For example, troll bosses can be knocked down a few times in a fight by a bludgeon user, but not stunned. A blade or polearm user will kill those bosses faster than an equal bludgeon user, but the difference isn't huge and the melee school isn't a huge factor in whether or not the mob is soloable by a player. Maybe this is all fine, because I don't really know what balance is intended to look like wrt tough content, but it seems kinda off that I can just roll over some content that was previously impossible for me while also now being unable to do some things that were previously easy. I like that there are differences between things, but the differences are pretty extreme and probably greatly limit the amount of doable content for a lot of players. 4. Upcoming masterwork changes may somewhat shift the balance between melee schools. Bludgeon and polearm users currently can make very powerful weapons using mossy handles. In addition to the big hit points on these weapons, if dual wielded, they give 1% combat regen, which is quite a lot for tank types with lots of hit points. For this reason, these handles are very rare. Because they are so rare, most weapons made with these handles do not have very good masterworks. It's currently very hard to roll multiple preferred masterworks, so the chances of doing it in 1 shot are pretty low, resulting in most mossy weapons doing significantly less damage than a well masterworked generic weapon. If/when changes are made that allow people to choose an item's masterwork, both polearms and bludgeon will gain relative to blades, because it would then be much easier to make wood handled weapons with the best of both worlds. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but it should probably be taken into consideration.