Spellblade’s two main defenses come with the Ice Ward skill on one hand, and the big amounts of ward on kill on the other hand. They’re both strong tools which allow spellblades to survive, or so I feel.
However, the big problem I see with those two, are the levels they are acquired at. The first one is at 15 points in spellblade, so 35 points minimum, roughly level 30ish. The second one is all the way up top (40 spellblade) and so level 55+ish. Other classes either get their defensive/sustain tools earlier or at least a bit more progressive.
Now their is one that spellblade gets immediately in the mage tree, the %chance to gain ward on melee hit, but thats a low amount with an rng factor and quickly isnt enough to survive. Right now it seems like you’re getting breadcrumbs for 50 or so levels and then a lot at once, and though it is satisfying to finally get that power, it might be more satisfying to either have it progressively or put some offensive option (like for other classes) up there, but have access to the defenses before. This is even more felt in hardcore, obviously, where it’s a real nightmare to have to wait so long before defensive options
Either change the levels of those passives (though I understand Ice guard being at least some levels up so that every sorcerer doesnt come pick it up for a few points) or add some extra ward-generating mechanics (or other defensive tools) before, nerfing the other ones if needed. One thing that seems to make especially little sense is how there are several ward retention passives (and effects in skills) whereas the ward-gathering skills/effects are tiny until the very end of the tree where you get a lot. If would make sense to get access to the ward-generation quickier and then later on enhance them with retention
Example : Reverse the power and the order both of some of the passives : the ward on kill stuff thats all the way up could be twice or thrice weaker (would still be useful), and the ward retention could be stronger but all the way up top.