Posts tagged wotlk
Circle of Healing and Wild Growth are definitely on our radar. This would be a good time to discuss them.
Our concern is that they are turning two classes with a large arsenal of healing spells into single-button healers. Meanwhile, ironically, the other two healing classes have fewer heals to use in the first place.
We have seen raid parses where 75 to 90% of a priest’s healing is through CoH. It’s a good spell, useful in a variety of situations. But I think you can understand our concern.
A priest said to us the other day “Please nerf Circle of Healing so I can push another button!” He’s even thinking of going Disc.
In my opinion, it would be a mistake for the development team to evaluate this now. 3.0.2 has nerfed the current content so hard that people are using circle of healing and wild growth so frequently because the tanks are taking virtually no damage at any given moment. Further, it is because a lot of the existing raid encounters were designed with raid-wide damage in mind. What’s more, there could be sarcasm, exaggeration or ignorance underlying a statement like “Please nerf Circle of Healing so I can push another button!”
From Felmyst on, in Sunwell Plateau, the raid-wide damage is enormous. It’s only natural that you’re going to see a large amount of raid-wide heals going off, especially when the tanks are taking so much less damage than they were pre-3.0.2.
Furthermore, Naxxramas and the Obsidian Sanctum are entry level raid dungeons. You can’t possibly balance spells solely around entry level content. Especially when you consider the fact that a lot of Naxxramas’ fundamental encounter design was based around level 60 tools.
So to evaluate CoH and WG now would be a mistake. One of the reasons CoH was changed and WG added was because you only had the group-only CoH and chain healing to deal with high amounts of raid damage. So tack on heroism, and shamans were too highly valued, making the change to CoH and the addition of WG necessary to make sure shamans didn’t dominate the scene also in Wrath. So to go back on this now would be tragic.
While there will definitely be some need to balance the spells against each other in the future, depending on just how well CoH or WG scale in comparison, now is not the time to do it. The current content is not a good benchmark for it. Especially when you additionally consider that the parses are showing high percentages largely because these classes are assigned by their healing leaders to cover raid-wide healing, while others are assigned to focus on the tanks.
When and Why WG Is Used, and When It Is Not: A Look at Specific Encounters
The tank takes virtually no damage in this encounter. Even before 3.0.2, the tank literally had to stand in death and decay to artificially generate rage (or mana, in the case of a paladin tank). Because he hits for virtually nothing and spends a lot of his time casting spells, very little focus is placed on tank healing, which is best combated through single-target heals.
He does, however, cast a frostbolt that entombs someone in a block of ice and deals heavy damage to this target. A druid will not use WG when this happens. I would be casting regrowth, a nature’s swiftnessed healing touch, or rejuvenation followed by a quick swiftmend to keep this person alive.
Death and decay is a raid-wide damage spell. When he uses this spell, I am naturally going to use WG. What’s more, he cannot cast a frostbolt and this spell simultaneously, so I don’t have to worry about looking for the frostbolt the moment it goes up. And because he hits the tank so softly, I have time to cast WG. Often more than once, even.
There is very little raid-wide damage that goes on during this encounter. The only time the raid-wide damage is high is when someone runs out of mana and blows up on people. If there is a high amount of WG or CoH casts during this encounter, it’ is because someone didn’t manage their mana well, or because the raid’s DPS is so poor they didn’t kill him before people started blowing up.
Because my raid kills him so quickly, I spend most of my time keeping single-target HoTs up on the tank. However, even then, because 3.0.2 nerfed the boss’s melee so much, this is usually only when he cleaves the tank. So 3.0.2 has lowered the amount of single-target heals I cast even in this encounter.
Rain of fire is the big damage dealer in this encounter. And because only the cleave does significant damage to the tank, I primarily focus on making sure I have full HoTs up on him only when the silence is incoming. This is because the paladins won’t be healing him at all during the silence, and I don’t want the cleave to gib the tank. Otherwise, outside of the silence, the paladins are focusing on the tank and I’m focusing on dealing with rain of fire damage. WG is the natural choice for this.
I don’t use WG as much on this fight as I do single-target heals. This is because the damage is concentrated on people randomly, given the very nature of doomfire’s random trajectory and the erratic synchronization of various abilities. The only time I do use WG on this fight is when a large group of people standing next to each other get doomfire at the same time. Otherwise, I’m using single-target heals.
He can still hit the tank relatively hard compared to other bosses, even after 3.0.2, so I often throw heals on the tank. Also, as a raid healing leader, I can’t micromanage my assignments given the random nature of the abilities people have to deal with. So everyone is going to be casting single-target heals when the tank looks to be in danger. This is because other people might be busy running from a doomfire, flying through the air, preparing for a fear, or decursing.
With my guild, usually only one or two people in close proximity get doomfire at a time. This is because we’ve been dealing with this encounter for ages and most people are familiar with the fight. So instead of spamming WG, I just throw singular heals. The only time a lot of people get doomfire is when Archimonde throws down a fresh doomfire next to people right before he fears them into it. Otherwise, you have time to get away from an existing doomfire and tremor totem usually pulses before people get anywhere near them.
During the “tank and spank” phase, people don’t generally spread out. However, they are also not taking a lot of raid-wide damage. Post-3.0.2, it is primarily the off-tanks that take the damage, as special abilities weren’t nerfed damage-wise. However, the primary tank takes little damage. With the focus mostly on only two people, I’m primarily casting single-target HoTs on them.
During the “loose” phase, when he’s running around at people and spawning volcanoes, people are too spread out sometimes for WG to be profitable. For this reason, I have a mixture of both WG and single-target heals.
If you are seeing parses with a lot of WG during Supremus’ loose phase, it’s because the people have a hard time taking a peak away from their raid frames at the player out on the field. So sometimes people will just spam WG because they’re not cognizant of just how spread out people are from the person they’re casting on. Me? I tend to use player health bars and cast on someone who is actually close to dying near me. I imagine I likely save more people’s lives doing that than someone who is indiscriminately spamming a raid heal (unless it’s CH, because its healing is concentrated on the first target, meaning lack of discrimination is less impactful).
In 3.0.2, the damage on the tank is a joke. Even before 3.0.2, when he was considered one of the more hard-hitting bosses of BT, you could keep up the tank merely with two people spamming chain heals through him or her. So, post-3.0.2, you can imagine that my raid is mostly assigned to raid healing, of which there is a fairly substantial amount. I think I assigned only one paladin to heal the tank and the rest just threw him heals when it was needed (which was virtually never). So, naturally, people were spamming their group heals in high concentration.
This fight is designed for raid heals, be they chain heal, wild growth or circle of healing. Even before 3.0.2, I assigned bloodboil by group number, meaning we could use CoH to explicitly deal with the mechanic. With the way the encounter is designed, you are simply going to have people who cast primarily raid-wide heals.
This is a fight where the spell use depends on the phase and situation. In phase one, there is pretty much no raid-wide damage. The only damage anyone other than the tank can take is from flame crash (the fiery circle Illidan leaves on the ground), and parasites. Flame crash is avoidable by the melee, so they should take no damage from it if your tank positions well and your melee pays attention. Meanwhile, parasite is cast only on a single target. If the resulting parasite mob spawns are dealt with in the correct manner, no new parasites should spread from it, either. So only single-target healing is used in this phase, typically.
Phase two is a mixture of single-target and raid-wide damage. The two flame tanks are going to be taking heavy single-target damage. However, once you have assigned enough single-target healing to them, the rest of your healing is going to be focusing primarily on the raid-wide damage thrown out. This is due to Illidan’s fireball, which does splash damage. There is not enough space on the grate to spread people evenly out and avoid the splash damage. So the way we deal with it is to clump into groups of four. So roughly five or more people are going to take damage, making WG and CoH ideal in this case.
Then you have the final phases. During the human phase, you have to deal with the same thing as phase one. However, instead of merely parasites and flame crash, you also have agonizing flames. However, if your raid is positioned properly, agonizing flames should not be spread beyond its initial target. So only two or three people should have agonizing at any given point. And because these people should be at range and spread out, WG or CoH is not ideally worth using. For this reason, single-target heals still reign.
During the demon phase, however, it’s a different story. You will have residual agonizing flames from the human phase, and possibly a residual parasite. Following this, the damage will largely be focused on the demon tank (usually a lock). So most of the healing is going to be single-target in nature on the demon tank. But we will use an ability called flame burst, which does damage to everyone in the raid. After a flame burst is when people will definitely be using WG or CoH. Otherwise, single-target heals are still best.
The use of WG and CoH is concentrated during phase two and right after a flame burst. Phase two is less than half the fight, though it is an important part. And flame burst isn’t constantly being cast during his demon phase (which many call “phase four”). So WG and CoH have their place, but they should not dominate the choices people make in an optimal rotation for the fight.
This parse shows masterfully how the design of Illidan makes it so WG does not chew up 70 to 90% of his casts in an ideal mixture of healing spells. Gian did more healing than anyone else on the fight, even the priest whose cast mostly CoH during phase two and then random spots of DPS, renews and shields.
WG has its place in this fight, no doubt. But mostly when you collapse and spread after collapsing. It also has its place during flame darts and right after the fire blooms go up. But once the fire blooms are up and people react to them, the spread of people is too large for WG to be ideal. At this point, I’m stacking single-target HoTs and casting regrowth to keep them alive.
This is another parse where Gian tops of the meters. The parse shows that WG was ranked third in the number of his casts.
Spell Use Depends on Encounter Design and Assignments
Some of the examples I’ve given weigh heavily towards the over-use of WG and CoH that the developers are worried about. However, I have also given adequate counter-examples as to where the use of those spells depends on encounter design. To change these spells now would likely throw a wrench into the encounters currently being designed, since the raid developers consider what tools people have available to them. This is why DPS in Sunwell was balanced around the pre-3.0.2 use of heroism and why a lot of raid-wide damage was based around chain healing. In order to create a high level of difficulty, the designers had to consider the best tools for the job. And the major problem was that the people who could bring such tools were limited in number. With the change to CoH and WG creates a situation where more people are capable of bringing those tools.
So it astounds me the process through which the ideas have been implemented and reconsidered. As a joke, I used to reply to people asking for advice on how to beat the Twins by saying, “Just throw resto shamans at them.” While amusing, it was absolutely true. That was the best way to approach the encounter. CoH was just too terrible for dealing with flame sear, given that it that flame sear was not limited to groups, as CoH was. This made recruitment frustrating, as the pool of resto shamans was so limited. So the change to CoH and the addition of WG were extremely welcome and have provided a more than solid fix to what was once a huge balancing issue.
But now the development team is concerned with the overuse of such spells, even though the overuse is merely indicative of encounter design and sometimes unideal approaches to healing by individual players. Parses are not suggestive of the optimal approach to healing, merely of what is adequate. And the fact that people are beating content with tons of priests and druids spamming one spell is simply because the content is extremely easy right now. As the encounters become more finely tuned in the later content of Wrath, you will discover people who only spam CoH or WG becoming less and less successful as they continue to use a strategy that is not prime in every situation. When two people in close proximity are taking a steady stream of damage, prayer of mending is better to use for a priest. When one person is taking heavy damage, stacking single-target HoTs is best. Not CoH. Not WG.
I’ve provided ample counter-examples that already exists to show when CoH and WG are not ideal to use to maximize healing throughput. I’ve also provided counter-examples that explain what is best used for keeping people alive, not simply for topping the meters.
CoH and WG for PvP?
I should also perhaps mention PvP, since it’s relevant.
Players are going to adjust their strategies based on the spells people use. If WG and CoH are keeping up a raid in AV against an AoE strategy, players are going to shift to single-target DPS. This is what is called the “assist train” and it is used to combat area of effect healing and force healers to adjust and change the spells they use. I saw this in Dark Age of Camelot, where AoE healing was so strong, and it is a valid strategy to combat it by shifting to an assist train.
Also, WG and CoH will have virtually no place in 2v2 or 3v3. I doubt a lot of priests and druids will even spec for it.
Let’s not jump the gun on changing WG and CoH based on statistics. You can’t rely only on statistics to make adjustments to spells. We have yet to even begin to see enough truly complicated encounters to fully understand where they lie over other spells. And, even then, current encounters suggest that WG and CoH isn’t the only thing there is to raid healing. So let’s not consider changing these spells here and now.
This past week was rather interesting, to say the least. Last Tuesday, 3.0.2 was introduced. It is the precursor patch to Wrath that introduces most of the expansion’s talents and mechanics in preparation for its release.
My guild and I spent Tuesday downloading the patch and fixing our mods. We also endured lag, server crashes and restarts.
On Wednesday, a small group of us cleared Karazhan before our Sunwell raid. It took us a total of 50 minutes.
- Attumen seemed like a trash mob.
- Moroes died before his first vanish.
- Maiden died before her first repentance.
- Our tank was the target of little red riding hood and just tanked Big Bad Wolf through it.
- Curator died well before his first evocate.
- Illhoof died during the first weakness.
- Aran lasted something like a minute.
- Netherspite died during the first beam phase.
- Prince died so fast he didn’t even enfeeble the raid once.
Out of all the encouners in Karazhan, chess took the longest. Following this, we had our typical Wednesday Sunwell. Well, typical in that we usually start it on Wednesday. Not so typical in that we cleared it in three hours total.
- We defeated Kalecgos during the first portal rotation.
- Brutallus died in less than three minutes.
- Felmyst died right after her first flight phase.
- We wiped to the Twins twice. Once because someone fell off the balcony, and once because a hunter botched the MD because they weren’t used to having a shorter range. Then we aced it.
- I think we had two waves of humanoids on M’uru. The tanks were never in danger of dying during phase one. And we killed Entropius before heroism dropped.
- We also one-shot Kil’jaeden with ease, though we almost botched it when our melee brought Kil’jaeden down close to the next phase before the warlock adds from the 85% phase were dead.
We followed our Sunwell clear with the first three bosses. We then called the raid an hour early, so people could get an early night.
On Thursday, we finished up Black Temple. We also killed Al’ar, Kael’thas and Vashj and again called it an early night. Some interesting notes:
- We killed Shahraz without shadow resistance.
- Illidan never once reached his demon phase. We brought him down to 30% with five seconds to go on the first timer. This reset the timer, and we brought him down to zero before the second.
In any case, we cleared all of Sunwell, Black Temple, the two most difficult T5 bosses, and Al’ar in a total of about seven hours. We could have done it faster if we hadn’t approached the raids in a relaxed manner.
Were the Nerfs Too Much?
I’m not going to view 3.0.2 in a negative light. At some point, guilds stuck indefinitely on content need the be thrown bones shaped like dead bosses and epics. And to have micromanaged the changes on each encounter of TBC would have taken too many resources away from development of upcoming content.
I am quite positive there are guilds disappointed about how easy M’uru or Kil’jaeden are now post-patch. Especially if they were close to killing either of them pre-nerf. On my own server, Risen was in line to become the third guild to defeat Kil’jaeden. Parn, Risen’s leader, posted this in the progression thread after this post-nerf kill:
Risen downs Kil’jaeden.
Patch came 1 week too early. Sorry about the cheapened victory, guys. But we would have gotten him regardless.
Thanks everyone for every effort they have made.
My own guild had the same thing happen to us with Gruul. We had him down to 5% pre-nerf and we were certain of his death the very next week. This would have made us the only guild on our server to kill him legitimately pre-nerf (Ruined killed a bugged version). But then they nerfed him and we came back and one-shot him during what was supposed to be our warm-up attempt. It was an anti-climactic end to the hard work, consumables and gold we had thrown at the encounter.
However, for all the disappointment, it would not have been worth it to micromanage the changes to raiding. With only a month left in TBC’s lifecycle, it would have been a mistake to push 3.0.2 back a couple weeks for the sake of making the encounters easier, but still challenging. Especially considering those encounters will become obsolete at Wrath‘s release.
It’s Too Difficult to Predict What’s to Come Using 3.0.2
I originally stated that I thought Blizzard would do well to prolong the introduction of 3.0 for the sake of benchmarking class performance in raids and PvP. However, I ended up changing my mind just before Blizzcon for these reasons:
- Encounter difficulty was going to change with new concepts and mechanics in place.
- The encounters weren’t designed with the new talents in mind.
- We are missing ten talent points and new abilities that we will have at level 80.
Tack on the additional nerfs to raiding that Blizzard introduced, and there’s very little point in using 3.0.2 as an environment in which to test a class’s viability. And the same could be said for arena. Without an official ladder going on, a lot of people are using this opportunity to simply test new abilities and specs. But optimal team composition and specs for level 80 will not become evident until Wrath‘s first season.
I Hope 3.0.2 is Not a Precursor to 25-Man Raid Difficulty in Wrath
Don’t assume that things will be this easy at level 80, because it’s not going to be. You get yourselves new bosses, new mechanics, and new challenges to toy with.
To some degree, he is correct. Malygos is not nearly as easy as raiding in 3.0.2 is currently. However, conventional wisdom and statements made by the developers leave me to disagree on a level more subtle. Afterall, the developers did say they thought Sunwell was too hard during Blizzcon’s raids and dungeons panel. So I’m not about to assume that the 25-man version of Icecrown Citadel will be as difficult as the Sunwell.
Having worked my way through Sunwell well before 3.0.2, and killing M’uru before his first nerf, I have a keen understanding of just how difficult raiding can be. And while, yes, slogging through that content was at times frustrating, I am retrospectively appreciative of just how difficult both M’uru and Kil’jaeden were to defeat. As I said some time ago, downing them provided two of the most satisfying gaming experiences I’ve ever had since picking up an Atari controller when I was three.
So I personally worry I will never have that experience again in WoW. In fact, I would be upset if the 25-man version of Icecrown only stood at the difficulty level of Black Temple. Afterall, one of the very reasons I thought 10-man versions of every raid dungeon were being introduced was to provide an alternative, more accessible form of the content people might find too difficult in a 25-man setting. Getting stuck at the 25-man level will result in a lower impact on morale when people can simply form up a solid 10-man raid and experience that same content in an easier and more accessible environment.
My Advice for Guilds Clearing or Deep into Sunwell Pre-3.0.2: Tighten Your Recruitment Standards
If you were clearing Sunwell level pre-3.0.2, I would say you shouldn’t use the time to recruit new people unless they come from an extremely solid and verifiable raid background.
As it stands, it is currently too difficult to trial someone in the difficult aspects of raiding you will see re-introduced come Wrath.
- For Sunwell-clearing guilds, Felmyst won’t last more than one ground phase on a perfect attempt, meaning you will have limited opportunities to use the encapsulate as a situational awareness check.
- Sacrolash dies so quickly, there will be a low chance for your new DPS recruits to be the target of conflag on the Eredar Twins.
- Since bosses have had their melee damage reduced so dramatically, you won’t have ample opportunities to challenge your healer recruits.
- Furthermore, because bosses hit so weakly, you can’t challenge your tanks to accurately time their cooldowns to mitigate awkward damage bursts.
- Also, for tanks, positioning plays less of an important role when you don’t have to worry too much about avoiding gravity balls on M’uru, or creating an optimal pattern of flame patches on phase two of Illidan.
That said, if people coming from top guilds are applying and their skill level is already verifiable, it might be worth it to take a chance on them now. However, if this is not the case, I would advise taking a pass on them until you can incorporate them into level 80 raiding.
(Edit on 9/24: I have a quick disclaimer about this post to add. You can read it here. Essentially, this post is not meant to be a “review” of Wrath of the Lich King. There’s still a month and a half to go.)
Over a week ago, anyone surfing Wowhead would have noticed this curiosity on their splash page. I was almost in disbelief, myself. Then I asked why Wowhead would ruin its reputation and relationship with Blizzard by fabricating a release date. Obviously, they wouldn’t. So I realized Wrath of the Lich King would be hitting shelves on November 13th. And with the launch of this ship, the landscape of WoW will change both literally and figuratively.
The Transition from 1.x to The Burning Crusade Serves to Remind
Many WoW players have already experienced the release of one expansion and how it can reshape the general atmosphere of WoW dramatically. The Burning Crusade was game changing in many regards. One need only consider what concepts TBC introduced to understand how dramatic the changes were. These include:
- Heroic 5-man dungeons,
- Heroic badge loot,
- A 10-man dungeon that could actually provide a moderate challenge for blue-geared people,
- 25-man raiding instead of 40,
- Resilience and gear built specifically for PvP,
- Shamans for the alliance,
- Paladins for the horde,
- Newly viable and optimal “off specs,”
- Jewelcrafting and socketable items,
- And flying mounts.
Tack on new spells and abilities, new talents, improvements to some existing spells and abilities, and people’s roles suddenly shifted. Shamans were the premiere raid healers come TBC, whereas in 1.x they were probably the weakest of the healing classes. Druids suddenly switched from spamming healing touch on the tank to spamming HoTs on the tanks and all around. Shadow priests were suddenly useful as mana batteries. And so on.
So too will Wrath of the Lich King provide these shifts. But to what degree? And for better or worse?
What Will Wrath of the Lich King Change?
Typically when a company commits to a release date they feel confident in the underlying concepts and ideas behind the product. It also indicates a point of no return, where most of the concepts and content in the beta will reach or at least affect the live version of the game in some manner. That doesn’t mean they won’t be tweaked or changed post-release, however.
With that in mind, let’s consider what we know is coming:
- Death knights,
- 10-man versions of all 25-man dungeons,
- Inscription and glyphs,
- A new vehicle system,
- Destructible buildings,
- Combined +heal and +dmg into “spell power,”
- Combined physical and spell versions of crit, haste and hit,
- Homogenized and redundant buffs and abilities,
- New server architecture allowing Blizzard to individualize experiences (called “phasing”),
- And a slew of minor changes.
Wrath of the Lich King will also introduce new abilities and talents, as well as reinvented ones. The idea of redundant buffs falls into this category, but they deserve special mention because of the concept’s unique effects on game balance.
The Minor and “Flavorful” Changes
There are some changes people will note I have not explicitly listed. This is because these new systems or features have only a superficial impact on the game.
Barbershops will allow people to change their characters’ hair, facial hair, earrings, etc. They are nice additions to the game, but they will not directly impact PvE or PvP game play.
The achievement system will record and allow people to view their random accomplishments in the game. It is an interesting addition, but ultimately superficial. I feel Blizzard could have done more with the system, but I suppose there is a limit to just how much people should be required to invest in their characters. So the rewards do not extend beyond tabards, titles and viewable achievement records.
Passenger mounts are also a flavorful change, though they have the potential to become much more. But that potential is perhaps realized with the vehicle system.
Death Knights, and New and Changing Abilities
The Burning Crusade introduced momentous shifts in raid and PvP balance with new and changed talents and abilities. Wrath of the Lich King will also feature new and reinvented class design elements, while further complicating the matter by introducing an entirely new class: the death knight. Already, I can imagine what anti-magic zone, hysteria, and improved icy talons may bring to raid design and balance. Meanwhile, there are a myriad of abilities and talents that will have a major impact on PvP and where other classes stand in general. Death grip, for example, brings in a new concept: the ability to literally pull someone off your teammates in PvP. It is especially powerful when you can use chains of ice immediately following a death grip.
Racial abilities are also changing. For example, shadowmeld will be usable in combat. However, it will also be receiving a two-minute cooldown, and from a PvE-standpoint it will result only in a temporary drop in threat. Hardiness, one of the orc racials, will only reduce the duration of stuns. Previously, it increased the chance to resist them entirely.
Considering the other new and changing abilities and talents, people’s roles and placement on the scales of balance will change for both PvE and PvP.
10- and 25-Mans for Every Raid Dungeon
One exciting new feature in Wrath of the Lich King is that all raid content will be available as either a 10- or 25-person dungeon with completely independent progression paths. Both the 10- and 25-person versions will be the same dungeon; the look, layout, and design of the dungeon will remain the same. However, each will be adjusted, tuned, and balanced for its respective player size.
This is a major concept coming in Wrath. If the same feature was included in TBC, there would be 10-man versions of Gruul’s and Magtheridon’s Lairs, Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Mount Hyjal, Black Temple and the Sunwell, and they would have their own progression path independent of the 25-man versions.
However, the 10-mans will be lower in difficulty and offer gear lesser in quality than the 25-man counterparts. So I doubt this will affect the most die-hard of raiders in any way other than providing them with new options for supplemental gear.
The prospect of experiencing content with the same storylines is probably exciting for many who find 25-man raiding too stressful or time-consuming compared to 10-man raiding. For this reason, I imagine there will be more 10-man raiding guilds than there are now, especially because Karazhan and Zul’Aman provide a rather shallow experience with a broken progress line. Certainly, I think some 25-man guilds will fall apart over this change. Already there are rumors of a major guild on my server failing because a couple of their leaders are leaving and some people are considering 10-mans to be preferable.
I think the dissolution of some 25-man guilds is a small price to pay for an increase in accessibility to the game in general. Furthermore, it means I will see less players of poorer quality applying to my guild simply to see Illidan or Kil’jaeden and satiate their lore-driven desires. It’s not a bad thing people are into lore and want to see some of the most storied characters in the game, but I always have a difficult time explaining to a friend why I can’t take them to Kil’jaeden. 10-mans will offer them this opportunity without requiring them to endure the heightened raid difficulty of 25-mans.
Inscriptions and Glyphs
Wrath offers a new craft called inscription. The impact inscription will have on the game far exceeds that of what jewelcrafting had in TBC. This is because the glyphs produced by inscription change many core abilities dramatically. For example, glyph of regrowth increases the spell’s front-end heal by 50% on anyone who already has the heal-over-time portion of the spell. If I had this glyph right now, my regrowths would be landing for over 5K on anyone already with my regrowth HoT. This is particularly interesting when I consider how tanks in many situations are never without it.
Not only will Blizzard have to balance classes’ talents and abilities, but also their glyphs. Consider how a balance druid with both the starfire and moonfire glyphs will see quite a large increase to their overall DPS potential. Without recasting moonfire every 12 to 15 seconds, a druid can work in several extra moonfires during a six-minute fight while doing more damage with moonfire overall. For example, our balance druid on the last Brutallus he DPS’d for did an average of 3077 damage with his starfire and an average of 473 damage for every tick of his moonfire’s DoT. The fight took 5 minutes and 25 seconds to defeat. If he were to have the starfire and moonfire glyphs, I estimate he could cast at least seven more starfires and do 75% more damage on his 95 ticks of moonfire. That’s approximately 55240 more damage, or 170 more DPS, bringing him up to 2090 DPS from 1920.
The New Vehicle System
The vehicle system is not really a new idea. There have been mobs used in the pet system a character “possesses” while the actual character is banished or stationary. Some examples of this include:
- Controlling a chess piece in Karazhan.
- Controlling Teron Gorefiend in Shadowmoon Valley.
- Controlling a ghost during Teron in Black Temple.
- Controlling a dragon during Kil’jaeden in Sunwell Plateau.
The difference between this existing system and the new vehicle system is simply that a vehicle carries the character with it. That said, Blizzard has taken the vehicle system seriously and made some major refinements to the concepts of controlling something other than a traditional class. They have implemented new UI elements to compliment the system. And they have implemented targeting systems specifically designed to work with the vehicle’s different weapons and abilities. For example, area-targeting with cannons, catapults, etc. show the parabolic route your projectile will travel, instead of the typical circular area involved in targetting with spells like hurricane, blizzard and rain of fire.
Furthermore, some vehicles have different controlling mechanics. Some can’t strafe. And some can’t move backwards. This further separates vehicular movement from traditional character control.
The reason this system will have a major impact on the game is because Blizzard plans to use it in a lot of new content. Already, it plays a major role in the world PvP zone Lake Wintergrasp, and the new battleground Strand of the Ancients. Blizzard has also stated it intends to use the system in raid and instanced PvE content, as well.
Destructible Buildings, Siege Engines, Wintergrasp, Strand of the Ancients, and PvP in General
I’ve waited four years for siege engines and destructible buildings to make their way into WoW. Prior to WoW, I played Dark Age of Camelot, where siege engines and destructible doors have been a part of the game since its release in 2001, and where destructible buildings have been a part of it since New Frontiers was released in 2004. There was nothing more epic than battling for a good hour or two trying to break down a door and storm a keep or pummel it into the ground with trebuchets and catapults.
Personally, I thought Blizzard did its customers a disservice by not taking our desire to have siege engines and destructible buildings in Alterac Valley seriously. It was not a new concept amongst MMO’s, afterall. And I think by failing to seize the opportunity early, Blizzard has delayed the refinement of such a system. I doubt the system will reach full maturity before 2009, because of this. Blizzard could have had the system introduced in 2005 and refined by 2006. This would have come over two years before the release of Warhammer and established the feature as one of WoW’s strong points well before the impending competition. Furthermore, I also think an earlier development of the system would have given Blizzard a better idea of just how popular siege warfare really is amongst the MMO crowd.
That said, siege warfare will provide people with new opportunities beyond the usual fare of standing next to or clicking on flags and nodes. Halaa took one step towards unique concepts, but failed to deliver given that it did not reset nor provide ample end-game rewards beyond a unique resilience gem.
However, the changes coming to PvP in general, beyond the arena and honor systems, is extremely limited. Arenas still dominate PvP in terms of offering rewards, because the gear you obtain requires you to increase your arena rating. Essentially, this means everyone is forced to play one style of PvP to get the best rewards. To crowds like the one I am a part of, this is extremely disappointing. I hate arenas. They foster an atmosphere of composition and counter-composition to succeed in long-term settings like seasonal ladders (tournaments are a different matter, since they are short-term). And the strategies involved are limited based on team compositions and what is typically successful against each. For this reason, I prefer Warsong Gulch, Lake Wintergrasp and Strand of the Ancients by far. And I would prefer rated battlegrounds over arenas any day. And I know over half of my guild is in the same boat. OVER HALF! And, of course, there are also people who prefer arenas over battlegrounds who would rather not have to step foot into any of them to obtain their belts, bracers, necks, etc. So it goes both ways.
So while Wrath offers us a new option for arena point farming in Wintergrasp, a new battleground in which to farm honor points, and siege warfare to increase our enjoyment of such tasks, the arena and honor systems remain fundamentally the same. Siege warfare will excite a lot of people, but the lack of changes to the PvP rewards system will disappoint a lot of people unless something changes before November 13th.
The Homogenization and Redundancy of Some Buffs and Abilities
The homogenization and redundancy of buffs really should be an issue to discuss in its own entry. I have a lot of negative things to say about this change. But I will try to keep it short and sweet in this entry to give you an idea of how it will reshape the landscape of raiding for Wrath.
As it currently stands, most classes and specs provide unique buffs no others have. Blizzard plans to change this. Unfortunately, it will also have dire consequences on certain classes and specs based on what they provide in comparison to others. Quite simply, there will be certain combinations of class specs that provide all of the necessary raid buffs while taking the least amount of space in the raid or producing the most cumulative DPS
Shadow priests have been hit rather hard with this concept. Misery has been changed to provide 3% hit, but it will fail to stack with improved faerie fire. Shadow weaving has been removed as a debuff and affects only the shadow priest’s personal DPS. And vampiric touch is changing to put a buff on the raid which produces a flat amount of mana regeneration, regardless of the damage done. This buff will be shared by survival hunters and retribution paladins. This means the only raid buffing shadow priests provide is 3% hit and mana regen, both already provided by other class specs. So unless shadow priests do more personal DPS or provide more utility in many fights than do moonkins, survival hunters and retribution paladins, I doubt you will see them in raids that have an extreme min-maxing mindset. Regardless of how skilled the shadow priest is, because most guilds look only for specific classes and then trial players to find talented players in those roles.
Of interesting note, our current shadow priest is a draenei, meaning he also loses symbol of hope to gain hymn of hope. Previously, he would just expend a global cooldown to cast it and then provide a good 900+ mana to his group. But after 3.0 he will have to drop shadow form, stop DPSing, and channel holy hymn for 8 seconds to return a smaller amount of mana to his group than did symbol of hope.
To generalize my point: for classes and/or specs that do not retain some or enough of their unique buffs, if their general performance does not compare to other classes, or if they don’t bring the tools you need to succeed given specific combinations of classes and specs, they will be tossed aside in favor of what’s best for min-maxing.
I say this as a raid leader who plans to do this. While I will not just toss aside people I know to be talented players, you can bet I will discuss with them the possibility of rerolling or respeccing when the expansion comes out if we perceive their current spec to be weak in terms of raid synergy or potential performance. And you can guarantee that when I recruit new people I will have my preferences for which class specs to recruit. I have further opinions on this, but I will abstain from relating them in this entry. I merely seek to provide some perspective on the huge impact the homogenization of buffs will have on the game.
Combining +Heal and +Dmg into Spell Power
When 3.0 is released, people will discover that +healing and +dmg is no more. Instead, there will be one universal stat called spell power. I suppose this is meant to homogenize the gear of damage casters and healers. And, personally, I think it’s a great change as sometimes there is some crossover to be had. With that said, however, I worry it has affected the design concepts of the itemization team. Already, I’m seeing the first tier of the druid healing set include crit.
Despite the inclusion of living seed, crit is a stat restoration druids won’t need. We rarely use healing touch, and we will rarely use it even in Wrath simply because it takes to long to cast and causes us to become “out of step” with typical incoming damage. What I mean by this is that if a mob hit for 8K every two seconds and has the capability of also doing a 10K spell between swings on occasion, our 3-second heal might not land before our assigned target is dead. So only swiftmend, regrowth and nourish are spells we might use that benefit from crit. But swiftmend is on a 15-second cooldown, and nourish is highly inefficient, so they will be infrequent. This means regrowth becomes the standard for our crittable heals. But specced restoration, regrowth already has a high crit-rate. So I’m certain druids will want to stack spell power, spirit and haste instead.
That said, there are some items designed perfectly. And these work well as both healing and damage gear in some cases. So the homogenization is welcome. But I think this change will also cause early item sets to be poorly designed.
Caster and Physical Crit, Haste and Hit Combined, While AP Affects Spells for Some Hybrids
Wrath will be combining crit, haste and hit into the same stats for both casters and physical DPS. This will have no affect on pure physical and pure damage casters beyond the refinement of the general mechanics for how spells resist and abilities miss. However, it will have a rather large affect on hybrids that do both physical and spell DPS. Enhancement shamans, retribution paladins and death knights are the major players in this change. Furthermore, attack power will also begin to affect the damage some classes do with spells. This is a concept that already existed for retribution paladins, but the concept is being expanded beyond them such that different levels of attack power will supersede spell damage and vice versa.
New Server Architecture: Phasing
Blizzard has been working on new server architecture that allows individual characters to view the world differently from others based on what they have and have not done in the game. For example, if you have done a quest that charges you with capturing an enemy town, you would see this town in your own faction’s hands after completing the quest. Other characters would still view it as under the control of the enemy. And to prevent any breaking of immersion, characters in this area who have not completed the quest will be invisible, or “phased out” to those earlier or further in progression of the questline. This technology did not fully exist in TBC and the original version of WoW.
This new architecture has a high potential for changing the way the game is played, especially in outdoor zones. Already, Icecrown borrows elements from the system and allows you to do quests which progress the advancement of the armies fighting against the Scourge. One quest has you acting on behalf of the Knights of the Ebon Blade to capture a Scourge stronghold within the zone, turning it into a quest hub complete with a flight point after you have completed the task. It is, however, a little more limited in Icecrown than I’d like, but that might be because it is unfinished. But it is there and somewhat interesting.
The architecture is best used in the death knight tutorial zone. And one can read my prior report of the experience to get an idea of just how impactful it can be for Wrath and in future expansions.
Is Wrath a “New Game”?
Blizzard has stated in the past they wish to approach the development of each expansion as a new game building upon the underlying concepts of the old. I think Wrath certainly achieves this to some degree with the introduction of new zones, new instances, a new battleground and a new outdoor PvP zone. But in terms of offering a new game with new or changed fundamental systems, Wrath primarily offers:
- Siege warfare,
- Death knights and the rune system,
- 10-man parallels to 25-mans, and
- New server architecture that allows changes to the game’s setting for individuals.
However, I think three of these changes need refinement. Furthermore, I believe Blizzard isn’t taking the same risks it took in TBC that provided the game with sweeping changes to its fundamentals.
- Yes, they are adding a new class, but it is something they already technically did in giving the Alliance shamans and the Horde paladins.
- Yes, they are adding siege warfare, but they are not supporting the new style of PvP to the same extent that they have supported arenas all throughout TBC.
- Yes, they are adding new server architecture that allows individualized experiences, but general improvements to the playability of the game is something I expect.
Offering 10-man parallels to every 25-man is a very solid paradigm shift, however. When doing the 5-man version of Kael’thas in Magister’s Terrace, I realized how cool it probably would be for those who were unable to see or kill him in Tempest Keep. So to make such characters and lore accessible to more casual players is a great change.
But there are issues Wrath does not address. These include:
- The imbalance between the Horde and Alliance on some servers.
- Proudmoore has an estimated 3:1 ratio of active Alliance to Horde, and it is only increasing now that people can transfer from PvE to the PvP ruleset. The buff for an outnumbered faction in Wintergrasp will help, but I doubt it will be the turning point if a faction is overwhelmed three to one. It dissuades them from even trying. Something fundamental needs to change for such content to be entirely successful in the future. Be it a third faction to foster temporary alliances between overwhelmed factions or something more than just a buff.
- The desire for a large amount of the playerbase to have better supporting systems for a variety of PvP.
- The honor system provides top-end rewards, yes. But it’s the plain and simple fact that you have to do both arena and battlegrounds to get all of the best PvP rewards that is concerning. Some people loathe arenas. And some hate battlegrounds. But both have their difficulties and limitations separate from each other. There’s no reason different PvP systems can’t offer the same level of rewards, so people can choose to participate in the style of PvP they prefer.
- The spell-casting and melee systems are generally the same as they were in 1.0, with some minor tweaks made to rage normalization and spell pushback.
- Death knights offer an entirely new system underlying their spells and abilities. I think it is perhaps time to consider new systems for existing classes. The mana, energy and rage systems have proven to be limiting for some classes in raid and PvP balance, afterall.
I don’t have answers to these problems, currently. They are incredibly complex and it is not the intention of this entry to provide suggestions for them. But I felt it is important to note what Wrath of the Lich King will not change, in addition to what it will.
Wrath does offer some exciting new content and systems, despite the outstanding issues. And I do not want to ignore any positives:
- The inscription system is intriguing.
- Death knights are fun, even though they still need balance and polish.
- Some class specs have great new talents and abilities, even though others still need work and improvements.
- Having 10-man versions of 25-man dungeons is a great concept in general and will help even raiders fill their time.
- Lake Wintergrasp and Strand of the Ancients are enjoyable on a basic level, even though I think we could use better faction balancing and rated battlegrounds.
- The daily system has been expanded and there are plenty to choose from.
- The lore in general surrounding death knights, the Argent Crusade, Icecrown and Storm Peaks is top notch.
- A lot of the new zones are great fun, especially Icecrown and Storm Peaks.
This expansion’s story will also offer revelations to surprise people. And perhaps some that are to be expected. Tirion will wield a weapon of great power and continue to increase in his role as a leader of the mortal races against the Scourge. More Scourge will break free from the Lich King’s control, but we will also discover why. Someone thought to be dead will actually be alive, and he will turn up in an odd location. And there will be some major struggles amongst the oldest races of Azeroth.
Wrath of the Lich King takes the style of lore seen on Quel’Danas and expand upon its principles. And with it Blizzard creates a more involving experience. Admittedly, it is one that still sometimes fails the ideal of self-containment, but it better presented than the Sunwell.
It’s Time to Prepare
With all these changes in mind, people can now begin preparing for the impending release of 3.0 and Wrath of the Lich King. How you prepare will be dependent on the research you do and what you plan to do with your time once 3.0 and Wrath go live. I do have some advice, however:
- Level your alts, if you want options for leveling to 80.
- Reserve your death knight’s name with a level 1 character.
- Stockpile low level herbs for leveling inscription or profiting off the mad rush to 375 when 3.0 comes out.
- Sell all of your mats and items that will become defunct.
- Spend all your heroic badges on epic gems and sell them before they are worthless.
- Sell all your scryer signets and your aldor marks.
- Sell all your excess primals and enchanting materials.
- Get your epic flying mounts, because you don’t want to be doing Storm Peaks or Icecrown with 60% flight.
- Don’t stockpile honor or arena points, because they are going to reset when Wrath is released.
- Start making plans for rerolling or respeccing if your class or spec has major weaknesses.
- Start making plans for your guild if you are an officer or a leader. The last thing you want is to be caught with your pants around your ankles.
And, lastly, prepare to enjoy yourself, but don’t forget you might meet some frustration along the way.
The title of this article is meant to be facetious. I understand Blizzard shouldn’t rush the release of a patch as complex and game changing as 3.0. There are still many elements of the expansion’s design that have yet to be fully considered and refined. But the release 3.0 is impending, this much we know given Eyonix’s statement from over a week ago.
With the release of Wrath of the Lich King approaching, we wanted to provide you with some important information. In preparation for the expansion, we will be issuing a new content patch in the coming weeks. Much like the patch made available shortly before The Burning Crusade’s release, this content patch is designed to bridge current game content with that of the expansion and will contain some exciting changes and additions.
Doom and Gloom?
There are people in the WoW community who believe 3.0′s release spells doom and gloom for the remainder of The Burning Crusade, especially raiding. And certainly the precedent set by 2.0.1 would suggest people are likely to give up on TBC raiding to bide their time, just as they did for vanilla WoW when 2.0.1 was released. However, people are overlooking one obvious condition that existed at the time of the TBC content patch’s release: it was the holiday season, and TBC was scheduled to come out merely two weeks after the season’s end.
Every guild I’ve been in has never been able to raid during the latter half of December. Last year, my guild didn’t raid at all from December 16th to January 1st. The release of 2.0.1 in December of 2006 merely aggravated the annual problem. By the time most people had returned from vacation, there was only two weeks remaining before TBC was scheduled to hit the shelves. Tack on the facts that a flat honor PvP gear system was an entirely new concept, providing means for people to easily obtain items better than even some of their PvE gear, and that guilds needed to downsize with changing end-game raid sizes, it’s no surprise many guilds decided to simply halt raiding altogether.
I think people fail to realize 3.0 has the potential to be released under very different conditions than 2.0.1. The concept of honor and arena-based gear is no longer fresh. Most of the people looking to obtain gear from PvP have already achieved their goals. 3.0 could potentially be released before the holiday season, as well. If 3.0 goes live in early October, and Wrath is slated for release in early December, I guarantee some people will return to test the new talents in both raid and PvP environments for a little while. People won’t have to worry about Christmas or finals, so why shouldn’t they return? And why shouldn’t they return if 3.0 may provide the tools to better succeed in raiding content they haven’t successfully cleared?
An early release of 3.0 would be highly beneficial to the game. Certainly, it could possibly create a few major short-term problems, but it would be a small price to pay for thoroughly testing the changes and creating an expansion that has more polish and stability than TBC. Why? Because I don’t think the Wrath beta or the PTR will provide Blizzard with the fully-developed perspective needed to accurately assess the possible consequences of the changes they’re making. Especially when it comes to the viability of certain specs and classes in raids.
3.0 Should Be a Prolonged Bridge to Wrath
Well there will be raid beta testing in the Beta, but don’t forget the upcoming PTR will allow even more testing prior to changes being made live. I do 25 and 10 man raids myself and believe me I know full well what the changes will mean for a Holy Priest. But until players are able to test them in a raid environment, then it really is only theorycraft; which is of course still valuable and often very accurate.
So said Wryxian on WoW’s European forums.
Anyone who’s played through WoW’s three betas and muddled around on the PTR’s knows the fallacy in this statement. Using the beta and PTR phases as the only forms of testing doesn’t always produce a patch that is entirely polished and stable. Certainly, it worked well for Sunwell. But consider the time and conditions of Sunwell’s testing phase. Illidan was first killed in June of 2007. Being relatively easy, Black Temple had been put comfortably on farm status for several months by hundreds of guilds.
When 2.4 hit the PTR in February, my own guild had been clearing BT for four months, bringing down the weekly time we spent on it to merely one night. And we did this as a guild that didn’t even place in the top 100 for Illidan kills in the U.S. So there were literally over a hundred guilds in the U.S. alone hungry for new content to conquer, and many of them took advantage of 2.4 on the PTR to satiate their appetites by testing the Sunwell. Guilds like Vis Maior exemplified this desire masterfully.
The situation now is much different, however. My guild only just defeated Kil’jaeden less than a month ago. We don’t have Sunwell comfortably on farm. And it takes us most of the week to clear it. Furthermore, the gear requirement for Sunwell is much tighter than it was during the days of Black Temple and Hyjal. So using previous instances to supplement gear for skilled recruits puts a further dent in some guilds’ schedules. Certainly, there are guilds out there who do clear Sunwell in merely a day or two, but these are mostly the top guilds in the world. So it is a far fewer number of guilds now in a situation similar to one that existed when 2.4 hit the PTR.
I also feel people will be far less inclined to test raiding on the PTR when there will be no new instances introduced in 3.0. I know I won’t even bother, even though I did test the Sunwell.
Also consider that many people don’t have their entire guilds on the beta right now. Even if they do, I doubt they have enough people leveled to 80. There’s a good amount of people from my guild on the beta, but I am the only person who has come close to 80 (and I stopped at 79 because I wanted to wait for Storm Peaks to reopen). Another member is quickly making his way there, but so did others before they stopped altogether. And while I realize premades were just made available on the beta, they are decked in PvP gear, which will give people only a limited view of the possibilities of some specs and classes in raids.
That’s not to say I don’t think there won’t be any raid testing done in Wrath’s beta. I think a few guilds will at least try to form a loose alliance to attempt some of the raiding content. I know if I had the time I’d possibly join a pick-up raid just to see what’s up. But I don’t see the extent of testing going any further than it did during TBC’s beta. I imagine most of the 10-man version of Naxxramas will be cleared, but I expect only the first boss or two of each wing in the 25-man version to receive any attention from beta testers.
It is for this reason I believe Blizzard needs to use the live version of 3.0 as a prolonged bridge to Wrath, providing opportunity to further recognize the problems that might be less obvious during the beta and PTR testing phases. I also hope Blizzard aims to release it some time in early or mid-October, well before people become inundated with finals and the impending rush of the holiday season. Had 2.0.1 been released well before the holidays, or had TBC’s release been pushed back slightly, some discrepancies in talent and game design would have perhaps been noticed before TBC’s release. Not all, of course, but enough such that TBC would have been more well-rounded at release.
That said, they shouldn’t rush its release if they aren’t confident in the changes they’ve implemented for the beta and the PTR.
3.0′s Possible Effects on Raiding in TBC
There’s no doubt the patching of 3.0 on live servers before Wrath’s release would have both positive and negative effects on the remainder of raiding in TBC.
How Can 3.0 Help Raiding in the Short Term?
As it currently stands, the end of Sunwell has been a rather daunting obstacle for most guilds’ ability to “win the game,” or rather to clear TBC’s raid content before it’s “over.” And many guilds that have already defeated the content are looking for a fresh approach that could change the way they farm it. Just take a look at the ratios of prior boss success to each new boss kill:
- 1.4:1 for Kalecgos to Brutallus.
- 1.5:1 for Brutallus to Felmyst.
- 1.3:1 for Felmyst to Twins.
- 2.4:1 for Twins to M’uru.
- 2.8:1 for M’uru to Kil’jaeden.
Notice the ratios are roughly similar for the first three comparisons. Then, suddenly, the ratios spike for the final two. This suggests guilds have likely fallen apart or hit walls at both M’uru and Kil’jaeden. My own guild hit a wall temporarily on Kil’jaeden, even though we did swimmingly on M’uru. And the the exact opposite happened for the number two guild on my server, which hit a wall on M’uru and then took Kil’jaeden down with ease.
With this in mind, I think another bone needs to be thrown to people still raiding. My guild killed M’uru way back in early June, placing 40th in the U.S. And despite the fact that M’uru received a huge nerf after this, still only 221 U.S. guilds have killed him (as of writing this article). So 85 days have passed since our kill, meaning only two or so U.S. guilds kill him each day.
Personally, I think there are a lot of tools 3.0 could bring that would prove beneficial to defeating the later boss encounters. I’d love to be able to pick up flourish, gift of the earthmother, genesis, and living seed. Flourish alone would be awesome for when the raid collapses in a clump during Kil’jaeden, just to cite one example of how 3.0 could benefit the raid.
In terms of pure DPS potential, there should be an overall boost. Even if some classes worry they won’t measure up to others, most should still be receiving talents and new abilities that increase their DPS. Even though Blizzard is attempting to make certain buffs redundant, meaning battle shout and blessing of might wouldn’t stack with each other, the fact that many buffs will become raid-wide, where previously they had been group-exclusive, should counter the problem. So too should new buffing talents.
Furthermore, some specs and classes that were previously “weak” in some situations will undergo a general increase in viability. So guilds will also have more tools to create optimal raid compositions with higher regularity.
How Can 3.0 Be a Detriment to Raiding in the Short Term?
There are some mechanic changes that are a little concerning for TBC raiding that 3.0 would bring. As one example, some of the tools used for tanking by specific classes will be revamped entirely. Warriors will now have a shield block that lasts only 10 seconds on a one-minute cooldown. As anyone who has done Illidan knows, this means shear will need to be changed. Since the ability needs to be countered by blocking, dodging or parrying it, and the cooldown on the warrior ability that ensures this as possible is currently higher than the cooldown on shear, warriors would be unable to tank Illidan reliably. This would leave the job to protection paladins if shear were to go unchanged.
That said, Blizzard has stated they are cognizant of the problems 3.0 could create for existing encounters. Bornakk said as much in a response to people’s concerns about shear:
Changes can be made to encounters if we feel they are necessary to allow the fight to work right. That said, the release of the patch isn’t tomorrow, it’s sometime in the coming weeks, so you still have time to work on the raids. Good luck on Illidan.
Personally, however, I worry Blizzard will miss at least a few needed changes, making some encounters temporarily impossible or extremely difficult until they are hotfixed.
But it’s the more subtle and sweeping changes that worry me most. The adjustments to threat and threat generation particularly come to mind in this regard. For one, blessing of salvation will no longer produce a flat 30% reduction in threat generated. Instead, most threat reduction will come from using reactive abilities targeted on individual people, reducing their current threat by a small percentage with each use (on top of existing reactive abilities). Of course, some of the disparity could be well-countered by providing tools to tanks that increase their basic threat generation. However, I know warriors will require strength to really see a substantial boost in their threat scaling, and currently their tanking gear has virtually none.
So while DPS generally receives a boost, I worry people will reach the threat ceiling easily in TBC, which would render the increase to DPS moot.
The heightened restriction on the use of drums and potions could also introduce new problems. As it stands, many classes rely on chain-chugging potions and using drums to improve their performance. But a raid-wide vampiric touch, new class specs providing mana regeneration, and general improvements to talents and abilities could counter these problems. Then again, the inability to downrank creates another mana problem. So Blizzard would certainly be taking a risk introducing these new concepts to existing content.
How Could 3.0 Be Beneficial in the Long Term?
Regardless of the detriments 3.0 could bring to TBC raiding, I think the benefits are too good to overlook. Despite the fact that there will be a difference of ten talent points, ten levels, and gear, releasing 3.0 at least a couple months before TBC’s “demise” will at least provide Blizzard some context to use for further development and polish of Wrath. And I believe this is important to better ensure a smooth release of Wrath.
That Said, Don’t Rush It
Even writing about the importance of testing Wrath concepts by using the live version of 3.0, I don’t want Blizzard to rush the patch. Obviously, I want the company to fully consider where it wants to take the game generally with Wrath before its concepts are dumped on our heads. So, although I’d love to see 3.0 on live servers by mid-October, I wouldn’t if it was unfinished and buggy, with concepts that have only been preliminarily evaluated.
We’ll see what happens, I guess.
Before you read this entry, you should know it contains spoilers regarding the death knight starting area. The storyline here is so rich with lore I don’t want to ruin it for those who wish to avoid advanced information. However, as a commentator, I feel compelled to write and relate my experiences. Also, if you do not mind being spoiled, the videos and my account of the experience might be of interest to you. If they are, please continue reading after the cut. If not, stop reading now.
Also, it should be noted that Vimeo no longer supports gaming videos, so these will be deleted by September 1st. I expect this entry will be outdated by then, so I am going to go ahead and use Vimeo anyway for the streaming videos. Enjoy, until then!