Cata class mechanics: The waiting game

So, druids don’t get their class preview until Friday. However, I’ll have intermittent internet access over the weekend, so I wanted to get up one more post before I left. There are some things in the priest reviews that I find particularly interesting and wanted to talk about the implications that my cut across classes. I want to be a resource here for analysis on Beta druid mechanics, and so I’m really bummed about having to be out of town. However, I’m still going to do my best to cover everything, even if I’m a little slow. So, on Friday, I have a guest poster who will be covering the druid change post (ie. I begged my boyfriend). I’ll be able to post more about it later in the weekend, with a more in-depth analysis planned for Monday or Tuesday. I’ve found that it helps to let the “ooh new toys!” feeling wear off before I’m good at being critical.

So, here’s what we know so far (DOTs & crit – hase? Yes, please!):

First, they seem to have made a similar DOT mechanic change across both priests & warlocks. I expect druids to benefit from this, as well, and I’ll be pretty mad if we don’t:

  • (from the priest review): All (priest) HoTs and DoTs will benefit from Haste and Crit innately. Hasted HoTs and DoTs will not have a shorter duration, just a shorter period in between ticks (meaning they will gain extra ticks to fill in the duration as appropriate).

This is going to make haste a very desirable stat for resto & moonkin if this change really does go through. It will go a long way to making crit more desirable for resto druids if all our HOTs can crit. If it’s not in Friday’s preview, I expect to still see it by Cata for at least moonkin. For now, I can just do the guessing game. I would be really happy if this was a sweeping change that effected all classes, and not just a couple of them, really. The problem with haste before is that it made HOTs & DOTs last for a shorter period of time, so there was a pretty huge cost/benefit ratio, which would be going away with this mechanic change.

Priest & Shaman both got new lower-level abilities:

This is actually really promising, because it means they thought about re-balancing classes at the lower levels, in addition to giving interesting tools at the higher levels. I posted a long time ago about lower level abilities, which I thought druids needed to make the earliest levels more fun. So, I’m hoping they’ll announce something about druid lower-level abilities. While it seems that they focused more on healing spells, they did do one change for Enhancement shaman for leveling damage purposes.  Also, since bear is losing (the current version of) maul, it’s likely that they will announce & further clarify what maul’s replacement ability is for having a button to mash while leveling 10 to 20 (or, maybe they’ll give us cat form earlier – one can only hope!). What they’ve discussed as the new mechanic for maul won’t be the same kind of spam-able ability that it is now (and would work better if there was other buttons at level 10 to push).

Shaman and priest both got movement & escape utility abilities:

The most interesting change I saw out of the previews is a shaman ability, where they seem to be introducing the “cast on the run” mechanic:

  • (Shaman Ability): Spiritwalker’s Grace (level 85): When this self-targeted buff is active, your spells are no longer interrupted by movement and possibly even by your own attacks. This will give shaman of all three specs another way to heal or do damage when it’s necessary to move in both PvE and PvP. Instant cast. 10-second duration. 2-minute cooldown.

Moonkin have been asking for mechanics similar to this for a long time (ie. in Burning crusade, we asked to make meleekin more viable with being able to cast while attacking in melee. In WotLK, moonkin made a big push to get the “spells no longer interrupted by movement” mechanic – neither of which we ever got). I’m happy to see that Blizzard is putting this into the game mostly because it’s no longer an impossible thing to ask for. I’m also really excited for my resto shaman alt that is lacking mobility.

They are also giving two movement-utility abilities to priests (one makes them move faster, and one lets priests pull raid members out of fires). This makes me hopeful that they will give moonkin some sort of ability or mechanic that addresses our movement issues (and if they don’t, this will be one area for us to continue working on).

Other ability predictions & conclusions:

  • We know that Gift of the Wild & Mark of the Wild is losing the spirit bonus. (as stated in the priest preview)
  • Healing ability changes for shaman & priests lead me to believe that they probably plan to make Healing Touch more viable as a healing tool, and possibly adding another direct healing tool for druids, as well.
  • They are getting rid of the “5-second-rule” for mana regen after casting, but still want mana to be a concern for healers. This was talked about in the priest preview & generally should apply to resto druids.
  • Moonkin should still be getting a talent that turns spirit to hit rating (they told us previously, & it showed up in the Shaman talent preview).
  • We haven’t seen any melee previews yet, so there’s not much I can say about bear & cat at the moment. However, I will focus on bear & cat as much as possible between now and Cata’s release. I know that feral druids have lost a lot of the strong voices from their community over time, and so I’m willing to be the champion for all druid specs. I’m an equal-opportunity druid!
  • Regardless of what the preview looks like, it will be more of an appetizer than a complete meal, meaning that it will really be hard to analyze changes like these out of the context of actually seeing them in-game. A lot of things (like Eclipse) looked great on paper, but didn’t feel so great in practice.
  • If I am able to secure a beta invite, I will work really hard testing the druid mechanics in-game as much as my time will let me. Even if I don’t, I will still work really hard at giving feedback to the developers and to the larger druid community, because that’s what I do. I’ll mark any class mechanic posts with the “Cata class mechanics” label (or something similar), and if I’m going to post about non-mechanic things (ie. world changing, lore, or whatever), then I’ll make sure I warn about spoilers at that point, too.

10 Comments

  1. Neil
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I don’t think Bears are losing Maul. As far as I know, it is being changed from an “on-next-swing” ability with a static Rage cost, to a regular ability with a variable Rage cost. Presently, Maul (and Heroic Strike) will require at least 10 Rage to use; will consume 1/3 of current Rage up to a maximum of 30 Rage consumed; and will deal more damage per point of Rage consumed. If anything, new Maul will feel more exciting – it’ll happen in addition to a melee swing, rather than instead of it.

    I have a strong suspicion that, unless the Eclipse mechanic is completely scrapped and re-done, Balance Druids will also gain a cast-while-moving mechanic. A lot of Moonkins’ troubles would go away if they could cast while moving during Eclipse.

  2. Neil
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Gah – when I said “presently”, I meant “with the present set of available information regarding Cataclysm”, not “presently on the live servers”. Sorry!

  3. Lissanna
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I still think it won’t be quite the same spam-able leveling ability as the old version was. For tanking at high levels, I would expect it not to matter. However, bears really need something else at those low levels that can be more easily spammed. I clarified that point a little better in the post for you, though.

  4. Hamlet
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Extending the duration of DoT’s to non-integral numbers of ticks could potentially cause a lot of clunkiness in the scaling of haste. There are ways around it, but the devil’s in the details.

    I, as usual, am trying my best to avoid armchair designing, but I’ll have comments on EJ when the actual info is out on Friday of course. All in all, the Priest and Shaman changes (though some things like Leap of Faith raise a lot of concerns) make me quite hopeful for equally interesting stuff for Druids.

  5. Lissanna
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Hamlet – I don’t expect every mechanic they announce to actually make it live. Usually, there was an Alpha period for people to reject mechanics that just weren’t going to work in practice (ie. good on paper, bad when we tried it out). How they implement these mechanics is going to matter, and that’s not something we can really grasp from a forum post. So, some of it has to wait to beta, but I can still be excited! It’s possible the haste scaling mechanic won’t make it live, but maybe they worked out all the clunkiness issues (yes, I’m an eternal optimist, lol).

    I would have skipped this post entirely. However, I wanted to get something out before I left for my conference. Okay, I’m about to get in a car and drive for multiple hours, so this will be my last comment for a while. :(

  6. paperclip
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    The haste on DOT/HOT thing caught my attention as well. It seems a much more natural way to apply haste to periodic spells. Having to juggle haste in steps to get full ticks would be a nightmare though. Perhaps if they allowed a final partial tick they could preserve linear scaling?

    In some of the previews, they also mentioned changes to help DOT clipping which will likely apply to Druids too. This mechanism could be envisioned to work in conjunction with the haste scaling.

  7. Posted April 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Hey, not ALL the feral druid bloggers are gone. :P

  8. Posted April 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    The haste change could be significant for Cats as well, since our bleeds (Rip and Rake) are a huge part of our damage dealing.

    In regards the the haste/full tick thing, don’t forget that they also mentioned in one of the previews that renewed applications of a DoT will no longer clip the last tick. Or at least the specific one they mentioned, though I’m going to assume that will be true of a lot of current DoTs. If that’s true, the Haste change shouldn’t be such a huge deal there…

  9. Nimizar
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    One of the dev responses to one of the previews (I forget which one) made it clear that the HoT/DoT change was universal to make haste and crit more widely desirable. It means the devs can more easily create gear which is more attractive to more specs (similar to the reason why they are making sure that energy, rage, runes and focus will all scale with haste).

    As far as Maul goes, with rage gen being normalised, I wouldn’t be surprised if feral druids and warriors went for quite a while with just maul/heroic strike as their “button to push”. This is especially the case if Demo Roar/Shout are changed to generate rage rather than consume it (as indicated in the warrior preview).

  10. Lissanna
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Alaron – I didn’t say they were all gone, just that you lost some of the strongest voices. :)