Items and Equipment
A very interesting change to core game dynamics is rumored for Wrath of the Lich King. In one way or another, the difference between Spell Damage and +Healing is going away. Always reputable news source MMO Champion quotes Kalgan as having said:
We’re also going to be doing away with spell-damage only type gear. We’ll be moving to a system that, as part of your talents, will let players convert healing into spell-damage and vice-versa as part of their talents. That way they can use the exact same gear, but their talents just adapt what it does.”
There is a rumor, however, that the +Healing on gear has been removed and replaced with the equivalent +Spell Damage on the Alpha servers. In either case, players are guessing that talents will be added that either convert +Healing to +Spell Damage or +Spell Damage to +Healing. It’s also possible that talents will be used to augment healing or damaging spells, setting healers apart from DPSers. If this is true, I can see several potential effects, some positive and some negative.
- Increased Gear Competition
As it stands now, Mages, Shadow Priests, and Warlocks generally pursue the same gear sets (with the exception of the Arcane Mage who might turn an eye toward the rare Spirit and +spell damage item) while Holy Priests and Restoration Druids look at +Healing cloth. After this change, Holy Priests, Shadow Priests, Mages, and Warlocks would all vie for the same gear. (The Improved Tree of Life talent that augments armor by 360% while in ToL form will probably discourage us from picking up cloth.) This would make the more-or-less ideal gear breakdown look something like this:
- Cloth +Spell Damage with Spirit: Holy Priest, Shadow Priest (with rumored talent changes), Arcane Mage, some Restoration Druids (perhaps those who don’t spec deeply enough into Restoration to pick up Improved ToL)
- Cloth +Spell Damage with Crit: Mages, Destruction and Demonology Warlocks
- Cloth +Spell Damage, no Crit, no Spirit: Affliction Warlocks
- Leather +Spell Damage (with or without Crit, Spirit): Restoration and Balance Druids
- +Spell Hit: Non-healers only
- Less Unique Appearance
Damage casters and healers will look very similar, making it harder to distinguish between the two in battlegrounds and Arenas. (Of course, the giant feathered butt of Moonkin might continue to give Balance Druids away.) I personally enjoy the often effeminate aesthetics of healing gear, so this is a negative in my book. Although looking forward, if Druids really do end up focusing solely on leather items, these items aren’t typically as attractive as their cloth counterparts anyway.
- Ease of Role Switching
This is a wonderful change for healers who will need only respec to drop the talents which either convert a portion of +spell damage into +healing or augment the amount of +Healing applied to their healing spells and should then be competitive with other spellcasters (some spec changes might still emphasize different stats however, and healers won’t have geared for +spell hit). Assuming that the cost of respeccing remains 50 gold and that income increases similar to the increase we saw in TBC, I think you’ll see a lot of players frequently role switching, improving the flexibility of your raids. This will be a very positive change for guilds who plan to pursue 10-man raid progression since flexibility will be invaluable in these smaller guilds.
- Increased Viability for Hybrid Builds
Along the same lines as easier role switching, builds that incorporate a mixture of talents from a Healing tree and a Spell Damage tree may become much more viable. Dreamstate particularly may make a more impressive showing in the expansion with strong Wrath, Moonfire, and AOE (albeit not as strong as that of a true Laser Chicken) along with a Lifebloom rotation on the main tank. Imagine if instead of a 2 tank, 3 healer, 5 DPS ZA run you could viably make a 2 tank, 2.5 healer, 5.5 DPS run. This sort of flexibility will again be especially helpful to guilds who focus on 10-man raids. This will also make hybrid PvP builds all the more deadly, especially considering the recent popularity and success of Restokin builds in Arena.
- More Quest Rewards … for Everyone!
Leveling up will be twice as fun as practically every quest is guaranteed to have a cloth (or leather +spell damage reward that will be useful to Restoration and Balance Druids). If TBC’s trend continues, however, we’re likely to see more cloth rewards than leather. Hopefully raiding itemization will present us with more leather options.
Improved Tree of Life to Affect Enchants and Buffs
On a related note, it is also rumored that the Improved Tree of Life talent affects not only the armor contribution from items but also the armor contribution from buffs, enchants (including armor kits), and gems. You might think this a bug, but the description for the talent actually reads differently from the description for Moonkin Form:
Moonkin Form: While in this form the armor contribution from items is increased by 400%.
Improved Tree of Life: Increases your armor while in Tree of Life form by 360%.
This would make armor-based enchants like that available to cloaks and armor kits more attractive to Tree of Life Druids. I’m personally looking forward to laughing in the face of Heroic mobs who hit me for only a little more than what they’d hit the tank for (although more often since my dodge is likely to be abysmal). It’s a nice, non-green-blob alternative to the Priest’s temporary aggro reduction, Fade.
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