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The plight of a stationary spec in movement-heavy encounters

Today, I’m going to talk about some of my problems with frost mages in the 5.2 MOP patch.

With the Invocation talent change, my frost mage was still running OOM before the Invoker’s Energy buff faded, and so I was having to use evocation early (thus losing out on the benefit of the change they made to increase Invoker’s Energy buff duration).

Lets look at some of the changes:

“Water Elemental Freeze no longer does damage and only provides Fingers of Frost on a successful freeze.”

This means that water elemental’s freeze no longer generates Finger of Frost procs on PvE raid bosses. This results in a net loss of 4 to 8 Finger of Frost procs every 2 minutes (and a loss of 12 to 24 procs over a 6 minute fight). If you hit two targets, you got 2 procs, and 1 proc if you hit one target.

“Fingers of Frost now has a 15% (was 12%) chance to activate from Frostbolt, Frostfire Bolt and Frozen Orb, a 5% (was 4%) chance to activate from Blizzard, and a 10% (was 9%) chance to activate from Scorch.”

Since scorch was removed entirely from the frost spec, this actually causes a bigger problem – because we lose a second ability that generated FOF procs for frost mages (and importantly, we lost our only ability that really allowed us to generate potential FOF procs while moving). The 3% proc chance increase to our primary spells will likely still result in a DPS loss overall, since a 3% chance to proc on each of our spells isn’t comparable to a guaranteed 12 to 24 procs across a 6 minute fight plus the procs we potentially got from using scorch during periods of heavy movement in fights.

Thus, if scorch is going to be something frost doesn’t have access to, and our pet can’t give us on-demand FOF procs, then we need the FOF proc rate for our spells overall to be re-evaluated. Otherwise, frost mages really need to be given an alternative ability to generate FOF procs, especially one that could be used while moving. Alternatively, Fire Blast should take on that 10% proc rate that scorch previously had, since Fire Blast will be the on-demand instant that we may want to use while moving more often now, since the cooldown is short and most movement happens in small chunks (I have to move three or four times before Ice Floes comes back off coolodown. Given FOF procs are less frequent and less predictable, we’re less likely to be able to use ice lance as a movement DPS mechanic, since Ice lance hits like a wet noodle without FOF procs).  Adding fire blast back in as a viable part of the movement rotation will absolutely require it to generate FOF procs, and would help compensate for losing Freeze and scorch from frost mage’s PvE rotation. At this point, it looks like the frost mage rotation may actually be the absolute most frustrating rotation due to lack of anything we can do with all the heavy movement fights. Frost went from my most fun spec to the most frustrating spec just with the loss of scorch from my movement rotation. While I didn’t use scorch for every fight, there were plenty of fights where it felt like I at least had options of things I could cast if I wanted to. Having my frost pet do the bulk of my movement damage is too passive and doesn’t allow me to feel like I’m in control of the DPS I’m doing while moving. Even if scorch didn’t generate a high % of my total damage done in a fight, it still made me feel like I was in control of my own DPS.

“Frostbolt now deals 24% more damage, but the debuff no longer increases subsequent Frostbolt damage.”

This was a really nice quality of life change overall, so that our damage will overall increase on fights with frequent target switches. Still, however, frost as a raid spec in 5.1 has been under-performing in raids compared to all the other raid specs, based on logs coming from the raids right now. Given that the loss of scorch and freeze will potentially overall impact Frost PvE negatively, frost’s overall DPS needs to be evaluated and watched much more closely (not that anyone is bothering to even play it to test on the PTR due to under-performing in the first place). This is especially important given that frost now has no real movement DPS mechanic at all, and ALL fights require heavy amounts of unpredictable movement in normal or Hard Mode difficulty.

If fights required zero movement, frost PvE would be fine in 5.2. However, the encounter designers don’t give us the luxury of Patchwerk fights anymore (and haven’t since, well, Patchwerk). Overall, I feel as though frost mage design is being done without encounter mechanics taken into consideration, and that frost in particular is being punished with changes targeted at Fire and Arcane specs. The three times I used blink in Hard Mode encounters on Thursday night, I blinked into bad stuff and instantly died. Blink isn’t a movement DPS mechanic, and frost mages don’t have any on-demand movement spells that do any real damage (Ice lance unbuffed hits for 8,000 damage).

The loss of two abilities, which increased our movement damage potential, has the potential to really hurt Frost PvE in 5.2. Since the goal of any playstyle is to “always be casting”, the fact that encounter mechanics in 5.2 prevent frost mage PvE from being able to “always be casting” is problematic. There aren’t encounters that allow for a “move, stop, cast” playstyle outside of 5-mans and some LFR encounters. Raiders have really had two choices in PvE raiding since Cataclysm: either “Move while casting, stop while casting, cast while standing still for a few seconds, and then move while casting again a few seconds later,” or just don’t bother going to raids at all. Looking at mage representation in raids this expansion, it really looks like not going at all is turning into the more attractive solution to a lack of movement DPS. Designing classes for Vanilla raid mechanics in MOP does a disservice to the raiding community. Either frost needs to have significant buffs to our stand-still rotation, so that we can compensate for our lower DPS up-time compared to everyone else, or frost mages need a better option for movement fights. Having poor mobility DPS is very much like having your hands tied behind your back and trying to play by mashing your face on the keyboard – it can be potentially effective, but it sure as heck isn’t fun. Given that the movement DPS of arcane & fire are also under attack by Blizzard (while at the same time, they hand out new fun movement mechanics to most of the other ranged DPS), it doesn’t make being a mage at all very comforting right now.

Posted in 5.2, Mage, Written By Lissanna

Patch 5.2 resto druid buff update

Restoration druids are getting a pair of buffs in 5.2 that should help your overall healing. Lets take a look at what hit the PTR today.

10% overall healing buff

First, there is a “new” passive called “naturalist”. This is a straight 10% buff to all your healing spells. This helps off-set the fact that druids are trailing behind other specs on logs for raids, as well as struggling to keep up on PvP output with HOTs.

The name “naturalist” is from one of our old junky talents. However, this new version is quite welcome indeed.

Change to healing shrooms

Wild Mushroom will now gain 75% of the overhealing performed by the Druid’s Rejuvenation effects, up to a maximum of 100% of the Druid’s health in bonus healing, and growing larger as they do so. When Wild Mushroom: Bloom is cast, this bonus healing will be divided evenly amongst targets in the area of effect.

The change has two main things that I want to highlight:

  • Rejuv’s over-healing is now getting absorbed by the shrooms.
  • Their overall healing should go up, and they’ll likely provide decent burst healing in some situations.

The post on the healing shroom changes from the R4HT blog is particularly well written and I’d recommend reading it, so I won’t dwell too much on it here. Overall, the shroom changes don’t fix several quality of life problems (number of GCDs and overall setup time, lack of mobility, overall being awkward to manage). That said, they should overall heal for more in 5.2 than they do now, which increases the probability that they’ll be useful. I’m still not totally sold on the new version, but it is at least a step towards making positive changes. I’m sure this won’t be the last round of shroom changes. :)

Posted in 5.2, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

Patching in the New Year

Happy New Year everyone! The 2o12 year was very exciting, with the release of the Mists of Pandaria expansion! The start of the new year will soon bring us a new PTR patch with new content and fixes.

Lets take a look at what is currently on the table for druids in 5.2:

  • Cyclone was nerfed, especially for feral cat PVP. Only feral has the increased cooldown time, but I believe that the new diminishing returns affects everyone. In addition, typhoon given an increased cooldown for all specs. Faerie Swarm’s snare effect was limited to one target at a time. However, mass entanglement had the cooldown lowered significantly.
  • A change to displacer beast, which was previously the least useful talent on that movement tier. the new talent is a teleport with a movement speed buff after teleporting. They removed the stealth mechanic from the talent, which wasn’t designed to actually work right in the first place. Overall, it’s a minor buff to the talent, but still won’t be my favorite for PvE.
  • Buffed Cenarion Ward on the healing tier. There has been some math floating around that suggests the healing could be powerful for resto druids, but only if it doesn’t result in primarily over-healing. The mana cost (and the fact that it’s another HOT rather than a direct heal) means that we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out long-term compared to the other available burst heals on that tier for each of the specs.
  • Several scaling buffs to bear guardian druids (tooth and claw, frenzied regen, and the guardian mastery all buffed).
  • Buffs to the Force of Nature and Soul of the Forrest talents to help potentially make them more popular. We will need to see how these play out in PTR testing relative to the much more popular Incarnation talent on that tier.
  • Nature’s Vigil had both the cooldown and effect decreased. This will make the burst effect smaller (a 10% damage bonus instead of 20% for the duration), and since it can now be cast twice as often, that will mean that it is no longer in synch with the Incarnation burst talent, which was being macro’d together by moonkin.
  • Rejuvenation was buffed for restoration druids by having a lower mana cost. This will mean that you can use more rejuvenations before you run OOM.

Different day, same problem:

Healing Mushrooms still has not been addressed in the current set of 5.2 patch notes. We’ve been discussing shrooms since Beta and it would be really nice if the spell was actually worth putting on resto druids’ bars. Right now, however, healing shrooms are really a trap and need to be fixed so that they are a tool that makes sense in our toolset. It has been on the radar of the developers, but we still haven’t heard any real news. We really need to see some sort of fix for healing shrooms in 5.2. We’ve now had plenty of time for shrooms to show their design flaws on the live servers.

Posted in 5.2, Druid - General, Mists of Pandaria, Patches, Restoration Healing Trees, Written By Lissanna

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