Monthly Archives: April 2010

Cata mechanic changes: Further Resto analysis

Okay, so between Friday and today, I’ve had at least a little time to look more in depth at the resto druid changes, and I’ll go back over things in a little more detail. Since a lot of the community is upset right now, this will not be all happy, but I’m going to try and be slightly more objective in reasoning through the issues, so I’ll try to be a little less reactive.

Tree form: First, the hottest topic in the resto community is about tree form, and how we don’t know what the future of the shapeshift form will be. There seems to be two confounding problems people are talking about:

  • People are worried about possibly losing the stat bonuses that we gain by shifting into tree form. However, it’s possible that Blizzard can make all (or most) of those bonuses as a passive bonuses or auras instead of being tied to the form. Currently, we gain: a personal armor bonus, increased healing, reduced mana cost, and a group aura for increased healing by 6%. They plan on overall increasing everyone’s survivability with additional health across the board, so people will die more slowly. Improved barkskin already gives 160% additional armor in caster form – so I would expect that we’d be able to keep some type of armor boosting talent. The group aura can just be a constant bonus aura that isn’t ever interrupted the way it is now. The personal healing bonus basically becomes the mastery bonus. So, I don’t think this will end up being a real issue, as we’ll either gain them some other way, or we’ll be balanced around not having some of those bonuses when they tweak the nobs on our talent tree.
  • People are worried about losing the tree form graphic from a purely cosmetic standpoint. Once there are no bonuses from being in tree form all the time, besides the graphic, it becomes a cosmetic issue. Some people like being in their forms all the time. This is something I don’t really care that strongly about one way or the other. I’m just as happy to be in tree form some of the time compared to all of the time. We aren’t losing tree form, so much as tree form being a “sometimes food.” In addition, GC has already said that he may be willing to make a minor glyph that allows you to keep the graphic up all the time if you want, to make it an option. Other people have talked about maybe using the Worgen toggle-ability functionality to be able to toggle on & off tree form.
  • Non-druids said that then they would worry about not knowing when tree form was being used as a constant graphic versus when we use the cool-down version (ie. if tree was up all the time, what would be the graphical difference between the two identical forms). However, all you have to do is change the color scheme, and people could use that as a graphical indicator (your leaves were yellow, but now they are green). I don’t think that other players need something as obvious as a full shape-shift to figure out something that they would generally have to see from MUCH more subtle graphics on other classes. It is almost also unfair for resto druids in PvP to have to come with such a dramatic change every time they use a cooldown, depending on what that cooldown happens to be.
  • I think a major problem for druids is that people have no idea what that “sometimes shift” will be. If they had unveiled a really fun, interesting, & powerful mechanic in the preview, I think that fewer people would be upset.  Also, if we knew more about what forms would look like for troll & worgens (or that the tree for troll/worgen was going to be the same as tree for NE/Tauren), then I think that we’d be more willing to want to heal in worgen/troll form. However, a sure thing was replaced by a giant question mark, and people get upset more about not knowing what the future of resto druids will be.

Redefining our existing spells:

  • I think that some people are majorly over-reacting to not getting a new healing spell. I mean, moonkin haven’t had a new damage spell with less than a 1 minute cooldown since Vanilla, while resto got 3 new spells with less than a minute cooldown (lifebloom, nourish, & wild growth) in that same span of time that have all been important or iconic at some point. So, instead of being jealous for no reason, I’m going to focus on the improvements they seem to be wanting to make.
  • First, he talked about four of our spells: Rejuv, regrowth, lifebloom, & Nourish: “our challenge instead is to make sure all of them have a well-defined niche. A druid should be able to tank-heal with stacks of Lifebloom, spot-heal a group with Nourish and Regrowth, and top off lightly wounded targets with Rejuvenation.” I would like there to be less of a focus on raid healing with rejuv/WG all the time, and for our other spells to increase in usefulness. They’ve had such a hard time balancing our heals versus our other heals that we tend to end up one-button spamming too much of the time (it was lifebloom pre-LB-nerf, and rejuv post-LB-nerf). I would much rather have spell diversity by improving the ones we have than by adding another new tool to replace one we currently use.
  • I also like the idea of each spell having a more clearly defined role – though I’m not sure that Nourish will make a very good group spot-heal, as the HOT buff mechanic always made it a much better tank heal. I would rather see Regrowth/WG/Rejuv/tranquility be our raid healing tools, and then LB/Nourish/Healing Touch/rejuv become tank-focused heals. I think that would make our “kits” feel more complete.
  • In addition, they did announce a change for Tranquility, which may feel like getting a new spell, only with an old name, as they are “making it more like divine hymn“. Divine hymn is the priest group heal, which can lead us to believe that Tranquility will heal X number of party OR raid members, within X number of yards. Divine hymn is like a channeled HOT, the way that tranquility is, where the major difference is being able to target people outside of your 5-man group. The change to tranquility should make it a cooldown that we actually want to use in our normal raiding rotations.
  • He talked about making Healing Touch more of a viable heal. I think the Glyph for healing touch probably would need to be removed, to keep HT as our big heal all the time, and possibly then, Nourish should be available at a lower level. Having nourish & Glyphed HT serving the exact same purpose in WotLK has been pretty darn pointless, and has made Healing Touch serve a really awkward purpose the whole expansion.
  • So, focusing on our under-used tools basically gives us new abilities with old names. I think we can handle that, rather than having one sparkly new toy and a bunch of old broken toys we threw in the closet…
  • In addition, things like HOT scaling with haste & crit will be HUGE for resto druids, especially with changing the way that haste interacts with HOTs (ie. by not decreasing the length of time they have the HOT on them).

Mastery Bonuses

  • The first two are standard healing bonuses (ie. +healing done, and mana regen from spirit).
  • The last mastery bonus increases our HOT healing on targets who are lower on health.  This seems like an interesting mechanic, but as Galashin pointed out in my previous thread, it runs the risk of being pointless.  It is only good if people spend a large amount of time at low health. We had a glyph of rejuvenation that I bashed on pretty much all expansion that did the same thing – it made rejuv heal for more on low-health targets. However, the glyph seemed lame in WOTLK because everyone’s goal was to never let people sit at low health, so there was very little benefit that people got out of the glyph most of the time. If people in Cata are going to sit at lower health and not receive immediate direct heals, then our Hot Scale Healing mastery bonus can help. If people are being constantly topped off by direct heals when they get low, then our mastery bonus could be lame. At this point, we don’t know what Cata healing will look like, so it’s hard to tell how it will really work out, and needs serious testing (and the developers need to be willing to change it if testing finds out that it doesn’t give us enough of a bonus).

Need more info:

  • We really have no idea what resto druid healing will look like in Cataclysm, and the teaser taster previews were not meant to be a complete picture. We just have a couple of the puzzle pieces now, and so we’re scratching our heads trying to see what the bigger picture is going to look like. I understand that this process frustrates people, but it’s better to get some of the pieces now than to be hit with everything all at once. When beta starts and we see all the new talents, and we can see all the changes to all the spells, then we’ll have a much better idea of what tree will look like in Cata. It’s not time to give up hope yet, since we don’t have enough pieces to make any real decisions about things.
  • Resto druids have always come out of Beta Testing Phases on good footing, even if things at the beginning start out rocky. We also have tons of spells & tools, some of which we don’t even ever use right now (ie. HT & tranquility were voted least likely to be used by my survey a while back). I’d rather see the effort be put into balancing our existing spells, rather than trying to add a new tool, as that will really make us come out stronger in the end.
Posted in Cataclysm, Restoration Healing Trees, Uncategorized

Cata Druid class changes: preview analysis

So, we finally got the new druid class mechanics, and they came at just the right time (when I was sitting down at a computer in New York City, where I didn’t want to be wandering the streets by myself, anyway). Overall, I kinda feel like I got coal in my stocking for Christmas as a resto/moonkin druid. Moonkin felt VERY ignored in the preview, other than Eclipse changes. Resto feels like it’s getting possibly worse instead of better. Feral seems to be the only spec really getting attention in the preview, and even then, with having 4 specs, the preview just leaves you wanting more. This isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a snapshot (with some commentary) that I put together for all the druid specs. I will be posting more in-depth about these changes & more after I get back from NYC. (also, since I had internet access, my BF didn’t have to do a guest post for me. I work hard just for you guys!).

Here’s what we have so far:

Resto druids:

  • Resto druids don’t get new spells (which I actually predicted in the original “what new spells?” thread I wrote months ago).
  • No more constant tree form. Instead, tree form will be a temporary buff (more like metamorphasis). I personally hated having to stay in tree form when it first came out, but I’ve grown to appreciate it more. It seems lame at this point to take it away from being a constant thing. This is something a lot of resto druids are likely to be angry about. However, I really want to see what the new tree mechanic would actually look like before I start freaking out.  Also, there is a chance that they may change their mind between now & when Cata actually goes live many months from now.
  • HOTs benefit from crit/haste.
  • New talent related to regrowth. After you crit, you sprout flowers around that person, which does some healing. lol.
  • Druid mastery will have HOTs heal for more when the targets are lower on health. This should be an interesting mechanic, I think.

Moonkin:

  • Eclipse mechanic was totally changed. Now, when we cast arcane spells, our nature spells will be stronger. When we cast nature spells, it makes our arcane spells stronger. This has the possibility to either work great or become a really frustrating mechanic. My hope is that it will be on the really great, but this is something where I can’t even conceptualize what the playstyle will look like without seeing it in action. We really need to beta test this and give it a lot of attention.
  • New ability: Magic Wild Mushroom (available at 85): You plant a magic mushroom which can explode on your target and do damage. Intended to be an ability used for AOE or single targets. Looks like it was designed to work for PvE and PvP purposes (if you can detonate it yourself, rather than it having to be stumbled upon by your target). Also… lawl magic mushroom grenades
  • New Ability: Nature’s Torrent – Seems like frostfire bolt type mechanic, but only possibly more annoying because of how it will interact with Eclipse. The description of it was so vague that it makes it almost impossible to give feedback about.
  • Moonkin DOTs will scale with haste/crit. It should be feral bleeds, as well (since they said not ignite or deep wounds).
  • One of the moonkin’s mastery bonuses is spell haste. This seems inherently bad since moonkin have had terrible scaling problems with the haste stat on gear. I’m not sure I want haste as my mastery bonus. I would think that spell crit would make a better mastery bonus for moonkin, so that we don’t run into problems (AGAIN) for another expansion with spell haste having to use wrath.
  • My thoughts: Other than Eclipse & a few new abilities, moonkin didn’t get very much attention in the class preview, leaving me worried about: PvP mobility & having enough diversity of tools to succeed. They talked about wanting moonkin to be Arena viable, but said nothing about HOW they will get moonkin to that point. That leads me to believe that they still have a lot of work to do with moonkin, to the point where I’m still really concerned. WTB new beta talent trees.
  • My requests: I would like Stampeding Roar to work in moonkin form. Moonkin are the ones who need to move faster! Also, we’re big & fat, so a moonkin stampeding could be really terrifying. lol. Moonkin also want the interrupt that is possibly being given to cat-bear. GC promised me a pony, but all I got in my stocking was a lump of coal & some magic mushrooms!

Feral (bear & cat) – combined because there is overlap in where they talk about these specs.

  • New ability: Thrash. Bleed damage ability for bears. Will help round out bears’ damage dealing ability list.
  • New ability: Stampeding Roar (for both bear & cat): Group movement speed buff. Group Utility. This should be interesting for PvP purposes, or maybe for helping people move out of fires faster in PvE.
  • Bear & Cat may be getting an interrupt & other new tools. They want bear pushing more buttons, and they want cat to have more tools (but cat won’t have more “core” DPS buttons for PvE rotations). This seems reasonable to me. Also, they’re buffing mangle (yay), and wanting cat DPS to be more forgiving. I agree with these types of direction goals, though they don’t talk about how they plan on reaching these goals.
  • My thoughts: Their preview completely neglects thinking about the first 20 levels of druids (before you get cat form), where leveling is incredibly painful. This is particularly concerning since they discussed quality of life issues for leveling for other classes that have fewer very early leveling issues compared to druids. (UPDATE:It won’t be super low level, but we might switch the levels at which you get cat and bear.“)
  • Savage Defense is moving to a mastery bonus for bears, and something called “vengeance” as the mastery bonus for bear should help with tanking damage (by buffing bear’s damage done).
Posted in Cataclysm, Druid - General, Feral Bear tanking, Feral DPS Cat, Moonkin Balance DPS, Restoration Healing Trees

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.
Posted in Cataclysm, Druid - General, Priest, Shaman

Cata mechanic update: Rage & dispells

So, I think druids actually win out with the two latest updates on Cata mechanics. They are going to need more testing in-person to really see how things are going to work out, but I can say that it doesn’t seem bad at this point.

Dispells

For the new dispel mechanics, resto druids are gaining the ability to dispel magic. We’re keeping poisons & curses. It will also possibly be one button that removes them all. This is a bonus to druids. Some of the other classes are losing existing mechanics, but from where I’m sitting, it looks like druid healers will benefit from the changes. This actually ends up being good for PvE and PvP purposes, since it will give us more dispel options (and raids will likely see an increase in the # of magic effects that will need to be dispelled, rather than the other types of debuffs).

Rage normalization:

The rage normalization change is actually something that should benefit druid tanks. As a tanking spec, and not a DPS spec, bears could benefit from having more predictable rage gains, which will make it easier for Blizzard to balance bears’ abilities in Cataclysm, and should overall reduce frustration of new bear tanks and bears that rage-starve themselves by out-gearing content. This is one of the reasons I started putting together a tank set for Cata content testing in the future, since bears are going to need a really good looking-at before Cata goes live. There will be a lot of time for all the bear tanks to test out the mechanics on either a Beta server or PTR before the changes go live. I’m going to settle on normalization being a positive at this point, because everything else for bears will be balanced around this change.

Conclusion: I have to keep these posts short at this point, and there are a LOT of unknown factors that are going to influence whether or not these changes are good or bad. For now, I’m reserving any real judgment until we’re able to see these in action. For now, I’d like to conclude that the sky isn’t falling (YET!).

Posted in Uncategorized

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