Thursday, February 5, 2009

3.1 Class Change Preview Explodes My Brain

Excerpt from the Book of Uldalamadingdong, Chapter 4, Verses 1 and 2:
"And lo, in the 5th day of the 2nd month of the year aught-nine, there came a great voice from the heavens, and that voice said: 'Thou art blessed in mine eyes, and I shalt bestow upon thee yon list of awesome buffs that shalt rocketh your face. BEHOLD!'

And the faces of the players were verily rocked, and the players looked upon the list of buffs, and yea, most saw that it was good, and there was much rejoicing, except for some trolls under a bridge somewhere who still found something to whine about on the General Forums because they were abused as children."
So it was written, and so it has come to pass. Amen.

Patch 3.1 Class Changes preview has been posted (as linked above: part 1 and part 2). So far changes for Rogues, Warriors, Druids, Warlocks, Priests, and Shaman(s?) have been announced. Keep in mind that these are not the only changes in store for those classes, or for the game in general. They are just a sampling of what the devs are working on, and could change/disappear at any time. So I'm not celebrating these as buffs just yet, and I'm certainly not going to assume they suck because my pet change was left out or they could be further improved upon. Let's wait and see. What I am celebrating is that major buffs and fixes to broken mechanics are on the minds of the devs, and are one major step closer to seeing the light of day! Hallelujah!

I'm not going to list all of the changes, just some of my opinions/reactions. First, non-rogues.

  • First and foremost: WARLOCKS GET REPLENISHMENT! You can see me ask for this a few days ago here. This definitely indicates that they are planning to spread replenishment out a big more. Even better, 4 classes haven't even had their changes announced, including mages and hunters, so it's possible we'll see this "mandatory" buff a lot more often in smaller groups and raids.
  • Warriors get partly fixed by having their stance-changing penalties reduced, and perhaps the drawbacks of some stances removed. This is big, whether or not it goes beyond simply saving rage. Warrior stances desperately needed an overhaul, especially in comparison to DK presences.
  • Sunder Armor is no longer as game-breaking. The armor debuff blew all other melee buffs out of the water, and now it's been nerfed in effectiveness while enemy armor has been reduced to compensate. Very nice for raids that don't have warriors. The rogue counterpart, Expose Armor, requires way too much sacrifice to use; hopefully this will be changed now as well.
  • Great fixes to Shaman talents that didn't make sense formerly. Enhancers get threat reduction on their spells now (which are most of their damage nowadays) and Unleashed Rage costs 2 talent points instead of 5. Now it's more on par with the DK version.
  • For a long time, Bear Druids have been complaining about how few stats they care about compared to other tanks (since they don't need defense, and parry and shield stats are useless to them). Blizz did exactly what I was hoping they would (in fact, I wish I had posted my idea so I could say I called it!): they made the stats already on their gear desirable for mitigation. Wrath has no tanking leather, so bear druids were basically using rogue gear gemmed for stamina. That gear is loaded with things like agility, AP, and crit rating. I was hoping the devs would somehow make these stats useful for bears. They took it one step further. They basically used those stats to give bears a shield so they function more like warriors and paladins than before. On ability crits, bears get a one-shot damage shield that is based on their attack power. Perfect.
  • Priests: the spirit buff is now a baseline ability, and Discipline gets an aoe shield in it's place! Zounds!
And now for Rogues:
  • Hunger for Blood made less punishing to use. It's not yet clear exactly how this change works, but my interpretation is that they buffed the damage and stopped it from stacking (so if it falls off, you only have to reapply 1 buff instead of 3 stacks of it), and in exchange forced you to open with garrote and use rupture regularly (or raid with a fury warrior or feral druid or anything that does a lot of bleeds) to keep the buff up. Seems like a nice improvement to me, I know I hated playing Mutilate because of how much mental space it took to keep HfB up, making it a lot harder to raid-lead. Seems like a flat-out buff to raiding with the drawback only there to keep it from becoming a PvP burst talent.
  • Killing Spree or as EJ calls it, "NinjaStorm", does 20% more damage. Adrenaline Rush and Savage Combat also buffed to help bring the combat tree into parity with other DPSers. Great little changes all around here
  • Mace Spec has haste added, presumably to make it finally competitive with the other specs. There's rumors of more haste and arPen changes coming down the pike, so this may be even better than it looks.
And the Big One: Lightning Reflexes reduced to 3 points for the same effect, and adds 10% melee haste at 3 points. The fallout for this one is quite complicated. Before, most Combat builds had 4 loose "filler" points available to put into non-dps talents. For those builds, this is currently a flat-out buff to dps at the expense of utility. However, fist/sword builds used those 4 points in Sword Specialization. Now, 3 of those points must go into LR, making the fist/sword combo no longer viable for 99% of rogues (there is a rare border case where it works).

This is a bad idea. The far-and-away best mainhands for Combat rogues are fists: Calamity's Grasp and Kel'Thuzad's Reach. Right now, the strongest Combat offhand is Hailstorm with a Fist/Sword spec, followed closely by a Webbed Death without the points in swords. The problem here is that Webbed Death is also the best weapon for Mutilate rogues, and in some cases they actually need two of them. So basically the easiest boss in Naxx 25 drops the best-in-slot weapon for all types of rogues, and now Mut rogues have to compete with Combat rogues for the one good dagger while offhand swords get sharded. Not a good idea.

A few easy fixes:
  • Remove the Improved Sinister Strike talent and fold it into the move itself, making its base cost 40.
  • Reduce the cost of Aggression to 3 points for the same effect
  • Add a competitive mainhand sword or offhand 1.5 speed dagger to the game, perhaps as an Emblem of Valor item or to replace the pointless slow dagger in the Naxx 25 loot table
  • If you really don't want us combining two weapon specs, modify Mutilate so they don't care about weapons speed and actually want those slow daggers again.

We'll see what other changes make it into the patch, but so far they are moving in the right direction. /cheer


Raitin said...

And verily, my face was rocked... ROCK!

Now it makes sense that GC could cop the flak about Replenishment being mandetory with a quaint little grin on his face... cheeky bugger.

Just got back up and running 99% last night (need to download mods and replace my non-existant gems and enchants) so I'm looking forward to being ready for these buffs! Zounds indeed. GG Blizz, for real.

Rich said...

meh, started typing some huge response, then just realized I should stick it on my own blog, lol.

short version: changes GOOD!

full post coming in a bit...