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Daily Blue: Healing, Dual Specs, Class Changes

February 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Blizzard’s Perspective on Healing

My point was more that when it all comes down to it, healing is generally limited by one of three things: 1) Running out of mana, 2) Running out of GCDs, and 3) Just doing the wrong thing in the wrong situation.

The type 3 fights are generally the most interesting for a healer, but you’re also not going to find every fight like that, and it might be exhausting if they were. I am generally referring to fights where you shouldn’t heal at a certain time, or you need to move at a certain time, or you need to heal the right person at exactly the right time.

Currently we think the game has strayed too far towards the type 2 style of healing, where if you miss a single global, your target might die. This may not be the case if you are on Naxxramas milk runs, but it was certainly the case in Sunwell and other more challenging content. Since you must heal for your max amount every GCD, and the penalty for failing that heal (i.e. wiping) is probably worse than the penalty for overhealing, the healing game feels very spammy. More situational or efficient heals lose out compared to heals that maximize throughput. Coordination among healers doesn’t feel particularly necessary because overhealing isn’t a big deal. Paying attention to what is going on in the fight is a luxury because you need to keep those max casts coming.

However, part of backing out of that means carving enough bandwidth out so that players can make decisions about who to heal and which spell to use. The key word is “decisions.” A rogue makes a decision about when to blow cooldowns or pop a Healthstone. A warrior tank makes a decision about when to blow Last Stand or sometimes even Taunt. If all a priest is doing is using CoH and PoM on every cooldown and filling in the space with Flash Heal, or if all a paladin is doing is spamming HL and using DP every cooldown, those aren’t interesting decisions — in fact they are the kind of thing that can be macroed and macros are often (though not always) a warning sign that the player isn’t or doesn’t have to decide which ability to use next.

There will always be some simple “gear check” style fights. Those have their place, particularly to communicate to your group that perhaps you aren’t yet ready. But they don’t all have to be that way.

[...] Here is a great paladin decision: “Should I heal that guy who likely won’t die in the next couple of seconds or does that dependable druid have hots on him already?”

Currently the answer is: “I can afford to waste the mana, so who cares?”

Note that I am not saying you need to necessarily look at the target’s active spells to know the answer. If you heal with the same people for very long, you form a good idea of what they are doing. In pugs you might need more explicit rules for who heals whom, but again, you can currently afford to be so sloppy with your mana that it’s not worth the effort.

Dual Specs and Sub-80 Characters

With new features we have learned that players tend to be much more forgiving if we are too stringent at first and relax requirements over time, than if we give away too much and end up having to “nerf” a feature that turned out to be overly generous. Make sure to ready the complte Q/A with Ghostcrawler regarding Dual Specs.

Warrior Tanking Issues

We still are not convinced that warrior tanks are operating at some huge deficit compared to other tanks. There are going to be situations where one or the other classes are going to feel easier as tanks, just because the abilities and mechanics are still different despite all of our homogenization (and we really don’t want to homogenize any more).

I think there are some quality of life issues we can improve for warriors. Heroic Strike is definitely one of them. It does its job in letting you convert excess rage to threat without consuming a global cooldown, but it requires a lot of extra button pushes. It is something we are discussing.

Warlock Voidwalker Tanking

I would not expect the Voidwalker to continue to be an excellent tank for challenging raid content.

The health boost was largely for PvP reasons and the damage avoidance was to make up for limitations in pet AI and master control, not to let you opt out of having to manage tons of incoming damage on your main tank.

Death Knights Removing HoTs

This (the hot removal of Blood Plague) is something we are definitely taking a hard look at for 3.1. Plague Strike is intentionally weak because of this ancillary effect, but that also leads to DKs not wanting to use a core ability except when doing PvP against hot-based healers (which pretty much means druids). DK survivability and utility in PvP are definitely not something we are overly worried about at the moment. [...] I meant that DKs have plenty going for them in PvP even if they could no longer remove a whole stack of Lifebloom.


Mutilate Nerf Explained

An Overkill change would have required more redesign of the talents and abilities than we were willing to make for a small patch like this. We’re also unconvinced it would have fixed the problem alone.

Basically, it might have helped stealth burst, but wouldn’t have helped with unstealthed burst, which was still too high in our opinion. Two Mutilates and a Cold Blood Eviscerate within one Kidney Shot duration is a ton of damage, and is possible with unglyphed Vigor and no Overkill. Add a partner or an interrupt or whatever and it can mean death for most players in very few GCDs.

Overkill and glyphed Vigor are something we will probably look at for 3.1, depending on how the current changes shake out.

Mutilate / Dirty Deeds Bug

There did seem to be a bug with Dirty Deeds affecting Mutilate damage, and I believe it was hotfixed yesterday (13 Feb). Mutilate should now be doing lower damage vs. poisoned targets in all cases.

Poison Damage

Rogue poison damage had at least two bugs in the system when Lich King launched. When we fixed those bugs, rogue damage dropped significantly. There is speculation that the same thing is true of Dirty Deeds — that because Dirty Deeds was inflating poison damage more than we realized that rogue damage will drop too much with the Mutilate changes and Dirty Deeds bug fix.

We do not have that concern at this time. We are happy with Mutilate’s extra damage to poisoned targets to be 20% with or without Dirty Deeds. We plan to increase rogue PvE damage in other ways, such as through the announced (but not finalized) Hunger for Blood, Killing Spree and Lightning Reflexes changes in 3.1.

I suspect the Dirty Deeds bug was introduced at the same time as the Mutilate nerf in 3.09, but can’t know for sure without a lot of digging. (I say that because I suspect the Dirty Deeds talent had to recalculate bonus damage and we neglected to change this calculation when we changed Mutilate itself.) I’ll report back when and if I have time to investigate or if someone else at Blizzard knows the answer off the top of their head.

We are skeptical that the Mutilate change and Dirty Deeds hotfix will be the death knell for rogues in PvP, but we will keep an eye on what happens with these changes in place.

Daily Blue Posts – Wintergrasp, DPS, & Class Changes

December 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The daily blue! Most of these changes will be implemented in the upcoming patch 3.0.8, which will be on the PTR very shortly.

Melee Haste

We are looking at the benefits of haste (or lack thereof) for all melee right now. If anything there aren’t enough stats available to make items distinct, so rather than swap out a less desirable stat with a more desirable one, we’d rather make the less desirable one desirable.

Wintergrasp Changes

It is slightly confusing. Wintergrasp has been reworked in 3.0.8. From what I have been told, players start off at Recruit Rank if they are in the zone and require a certain number of kills to get to Corporal and use vehicles. They get 1 Mark at Recruit, 2 at Corporal, and 3 at 1st Lt. So the only change is that being in the zone now gives you a mark.

Enchanting Materials Changed

In BC we thought that dust was too common and enchants were basically gated by the cost and availability of shards. We wanted to adjust this for LK and in retrospect overcompensated, such that dust is now the rare, limiting reagent.

As Excrusiate points out, this should be better next patch.


Protection in PvP

Ultimately, we’d love to get Prot paladins as viable as Ret or Holy, but we realize we have long way to go.


Upcoming Hymn Changes

We still have plans to make some changes to the Hymns, but changes like that typically A) require a lot of discussion, B) are more technically intensive changes (which also can lead to bugs if not thoroughly tested) or both.

PW: Shield Bugs

Absorbs not (always) working is a known issue and should be easy to fix.

General Utility Discussion

You can only take that “priests are versatile” design too far or yes you will get into them either being better than everyone or jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none.

You have to look at the tools the priest has. Prayer of Mending is an amazing spell, and nobody has anything like that. Binding Heal is an interesting spell that will perhaps see more use after the Circle nerf. PW:Shield, SW:Death, Mass Dispel and Shadowfiend are all unusual mechanics that don’t directly map to another class.

For us, it always comes down to questions such as: Will Holy priests get invited to heal 5-player groups, raids and (in a perfect world) Arena teams? Will a raid feel like they are giving up something to bring a priest instead of a druid, paladin or shaman? Do groups do different things when they have healing priests? Do priests care about the same items, buffs, debuffs and mechanics as other healers?

I don’t beleive groups really organize themselves around healing niches in the sense that they want one hot guy, one AE guy and two direct heal guys. We just want enough distinction that you consider bringing e.g. a druid as your third healer once you have two priests.


Elemental Discussion for 3.0.8

This is why I am often reluctant to post actual numbers. I think they end up launching more questions than actually providing answers.

The 10 to 12% number I quoted was the additional amount we wanted to add with the changes post-Shamanism. If you recall, we did two rounds of buffs on Elemental. The first juggled the talent tree a little bit (and introduced Shamanism). The second changed a couple of additional talents (Elemental Oath, Elemental Mastery and the change to the Lightning Bolt glyph).

For an Elemental in Naxx 25 gear, *each* of these rounds should have increased dps by about 10% between patch 3.0.3 and patch 3.0.8, for a total of about 20%. If you are in heroic blues and don’t have as much spellpower, then you won’t see quite such a lift from the first (Shamanism) round of changes.

Note that the build on the PTR only contains the first round of changes, IIRC.

Spirit Walk Bugged

This issue has been documented internally and is one of the major bugs we have scheduled to fix. That said, it won’t be ready in time for 3.0.8.


General Discussion on the State of the Class

I did post a list of what we wanted to do with warlocks in LK and now that we have done those changes, we have a new list of what we want to look at in warlocks next. A few players linked it. I could have found the quote myself but I figured the community would be able to do it faster, which they did.

I am sorry if my communication sometimes seems disjoined. Reading all of these threads takes a great deal of time that I try to squeeze in during my other responsibilities. To some extent you’re going to get what you’re going to get. That may not sit well, but the alternatives are to give up on posting altogether or at least post a lot less frequently. I don’t see a way I will be able to spend more time here than I do already. (As most of you know, I’m not a CM. I also don’t want to hire people to read the forums for me, because that defeats the purpose. But I do have a lot going on.)

I think there is some truth to the notion that after enough tweaks here and there that you need to step back and take a big look at the class as a whole. I think we’ve reached this point with warlocks. We are satisfied with the changes we wanted to make in BC, which included things like giving Affliction more competitive damage, giving Destruction more than one button to push, and getting Demonology to consider more different types of demons. When I say we want to make some changes to the class, I would not interpret this as burning warlocks to the ground and starting over. Overall it’s still a really cool and distinctive play style.

I’ll reach for an analogy here, which can be illustrative but will also break if streteched too far, as all analogies do. We’ve spent some time checking the tire pressure and vacuuming out the interior, but every few thousand miles you want to actually pop the hood, check all the belts and hoses, and possibly even rebuild the engine. That is not the same as driving her off a cliff and then hitting the dealers for a newer model.

PvP Talents

In an ideal world, we don’t want Demonology (or any spec for any class) to be THE PvP tree. This is tougher with the pure dps classes because any spec that sacrifices all for dps feels like a PvE spec and any spec that has survivability, crowd control or escape tools feels like a PvP spec. Long term though it is definitely a goal.

Additional PvP Discussion

That is the goal. I think we’ve done better at Affliction wanting the felhunter, Destruction wanting the imp and Demonology wanting the felguard, at least in PvE. We would like to get the succubus and voidwalker into Arenas more. We have some ideas….

On fear….

We still like the change to how fear works overall. Because it can be broken it’s less of a long-term CC, but it’s also more consistent in the short-term.

However, I think a lot of the consternation about warlock PvP comes from losing fear as an amazing source of CC (probably replaced by stuns now which probably isn’t a good thing), coupled with losing some of the “tankiness” locks had before, but without giving you all of the get out of jail cards that a mage has.

Ultimately I think we actually do want locks to survive through mitigation (when compared to survival through CC or escape mechanisms). The trick is nailing this compromise between plate-wearers who stand and take it and glass cannons who run away. There is probably something to the fact that locks and hunters both feel like they can’t stand and fight and can’t get away from melee. It’s the mail-wearer paradox. I know you don’t wear mail per se, but we’re pushing you closer to that than we are the slippery mage.


Protection in PvP

Prot warriors are better at PvP than they used to be. They still aren’t as attractive as Arms and Fury.

Prot Bugs

These are known issues. I can’t recall off the top of my head if we’ve been able to fix them for 3.0.8 or if they required technical changes.

Mostly I wanted to add that we fix several hundred bugs in patches like this. The patch notes typically only record big changes — the kinds that might confuse players if they weren’t explained. We usually only call out bug fixes if they were so common that people had really gotten used to the buggy state.

Daily Blue Posts – Arena, SOTA, Class Changes

December 21, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Last days worth of important blue posts, most of which speak specifically on changes for the next major content patch on the PTR, 3.0.8. Make sure to check out the complete patch 3.0.8 notes here.

PvP Related Blue Posts

Arena Burst Damage Balancing

We definitely hear you that you think Arena burst damage is too high and it’s too difficult to heal. You don’t need to keep shouting.

Gear Rewards for Arena

It’s certainly not a system for everyone. I personally don’t favor the arenas either, so I make the choice not to spend much time with them. I think the issue most people have is that the arenas provide the only source for the best PvP gear in the game. We are working on an improved system by which we can measure skill and contribution in battlegrounds so that more competitive rewards can be obtained via means other than the arena.

Strand of the Ancients Balancing

Actually SOTA originally did start with the factions randomly attacking or defending. But there were issues with it; it wasn’t quite as cut and clear as it seems in theory. It turned out it worked out a lot better if Horde were always starting in defense. So the way it is now was a somewhat temporary fix to that issue. If it’s really not working out so well, of course we’ll be looking into reinstating the random start.

Potential Vehicle Changes

We are talking about making PvP vehicles susceptible to all player damage spells. They would still be immune to roots and other forms of CC, but could be poisoned, cursed, etc. It’s wacky, but the way the classes have been designed it isn’t worth the balance issues just for flavor in this case.

PvE Related Blue Posts

Dungeon Difficulty

The content you’ve mentioned is all content that is meant to be an introduction to raiding in Lich King. It’s not meant to preclude people and set a false standard. That being said, we feel that the difficulty of the content is in line with the rewards. While you may find it to be a bit less difficult than you woud like, I assure you a great many others do not.

Class Specific Blue Posts


Feral Druid Tanking

You’re not making a terribly fair comparison here. Warriors can block etc., true, but Ferals have Barkskin, Survival Instinct, Demo Roar and Enraged Regen as defensive abilities. You have Swipe and Berserk (and the nice Maul glyph) for area threat generation (and I still see bears pulling with Hurricane too).

I do think it is a fair concern that you can spam nothing but Swipe, but to fix that for other tanks we put a cooldown on their AE ability to force them to hit something else. I’m not sure we want to do that for druids.

While you may think of yourself primarily as a bear, we still think of you as a druid. Druids have a lot of abilities. I have played a bear (a lot) and I know it’s already hard to fit all of your buttons on the default Blizzard action bars, even just considering the bear ones. Now I’m not going to suggest you Innervate or use Rebirth or Regrowth while tanking, but at the same time, even bear MTs do sometimes use those abilities. They still count as abilities. When you pick a tanking druid, you are still a druid. We don’t want any class to have 300 spells just because they can use them in very different scenarios. Make sense?

Armor Trinket Changes

There will probably always be a best in slot item. The difference is that Offering was insanely better than the alternatives, to the point at which you either sucked without it or were OP with it. Greatness is a nice trinket, but can you do your job without it? Absolutely. We’re talking about degree of best in slot here.

Feral Gear Itemization

I agree with that overall, and it is something we’re working on. By the same token however it is very easy to take your argument and say “There will always be a best in slot item. I will always want that item. Therefore choice is always an illusion.

Druid Forms Note

We are working on an update to druid forms. It is long overdue. But we want to do it right, which means it takes time. The Ravenlord and Epic Flight Form models are the level of quality we are shooting for. We’d even love to add some customization, but we can’t promise that.


Major Hunter Issues

I would agree that some of them fall into the quality of life or minor annoyance category. While those are still good things for us to look at (and sometimes great things since they can often be fixed pretty easily) it leads to a long list, which you even called a manifesto. An outside reader might conclude every aspect of the hunter class is broken (which is not true) or that hunters need all of those changes to be Arena viable or fun. I’m not asking you to cull out the minor suggestions, but you do want to make sure we see the ones you really, really want us to see.

On combining Viper and Cheetah, I would be concerned that you are accepting a penalty (decreased damage) that isn’t really a penalty. When you want to run away, you want to run away. Think of the PvE implications of removing the daze. Even think of the PvP ones. When you want to fight, you fight, and when you want to escape, you escape. Now consider a Cheetah where you take extra damage if you run – now that is an actual decision. You might get away, but you also might get clobbered. (This isn’t a change we are making – I’m just trying to show you how we think. Hitting a situational button should generally be a decision, not something you would always do in a given situation.)

We’re not interested in giving hunters stealth of any sort at this time. Even the Shadowmeld-like functionality is supposed to be handled by Feign Death.

We’re also pretty unlikely to remove the minimum range on hunter ranged attacks. Casters don’t have them, but casters are also very unlikely to stand there and keep casting when you close to melee with them. We don’t want to see hunters ever ignore or shrug off melee who are attacking them. Attacking them back is a different story, as long as we could guarantee the hunter felt like they had to attack their attacker and not just keep shooting whoever they were shooting.


Elemental Damage

1. Yes, it is too low on live.

2. I can’t speak towards the PTR specifically. It takes awhile to create a build, so they are often a few days (or longer) behind our changes. I can say that in our internal testing all of the changes together gave Elemental something like a 10 to 12% dps increase for Naxx 25 geared characters in full raid buffs. Elemental dps should be very close to Balance druid dps, which we used as the standard we wanted to reach.

We discussed several of the concerns that have come up over the last few days and ran some additional tests, but we are still satisfied with the numbers produced by the new changes.

Spirit Walk

Spirit Walk is supposed to break roots and snares on the wolves and the shaman. I know we’ve had a bug on that. I’ll need to do some research to know if it’s fixed.


Major Issues and Changes

Bevelton, the reason you’re not seeing changes yet is for exactly the reason you suggest. We don’t want to tweak a few numbers here and there. We are taking a comprehensive look at all three trees of warlocks and then we plan to unleash all of the changes at once. The downside of this approach is that the work takes longer to complete.

I know there are a dozen threads swearing that THE PROBLEMS ARE OBVIOUS and THE SOLUTIONS ARE OBVIOUS and DEMAND CHANGE NOW!1!!. What should be obvious is that we don’t think the situation is that cut and dried. I did post fairly recently (within a month or two perhaps) on what we thought the major warlock issues were. Players seem to have a hard time finding it or perhaps they are just impatient.

We don’t consdier things like tweaking glyphs and changing Ritual of Summoning as major changes to the class. We don’t expect to see a huge difference in how you play the game. They are just small quality of life issues. The Felhunter glyph was just a bad glyph — a trivial amount of dps. It was a relatively easy thing to fix.