Edit 11:34 MST: I had to make several significant updates to this post as I missed some important changes in my hurry to meet my instance group. Please reread the following, and sorry for the confusion!
For Graylo’s Balance perspective on these changes, I encourage you to check out his recent post Raid Stacking in WotLK.
A significant change to the way buffs and debuffs will stack is being made, ostensibly to make raid composition more fluid and less subject to optimizing every slot. Developer Jimmythenumbers explains:
As Ghostcrawler has been posting recently, we’ve decided to make a change in the way we allow buffs and debuffs to stack exclusively in a raid. For the most part, what this change means is that many buffs and debuffs which were previously allowed to stack together no longer can, and that many buffs and debuffs which only a single talent specialization could bring can now be brought by multiple different specializations. The philosophy behind this change shows up in many of the changes we have made in Wrath of The Lich King, such as when we made almost all buffs raid-wide. We want players to be able to form raids and parties based on who they want to play with, rather than who has the correct talents and abilities to min-max their raid performance. Raid composition will still matter to some extent, but without this change, it would have overwhelmed every other aspect of raid planning (as we added new capabilities to each of 30 different talent trees). You no longer need to rigidly control the melee/spellcaster balance of your raid, or make sure every group has all the critical buffing classes, etc. This change has many class balance implications. Before we are done, we will thoroughly test the performance of every class. Do not assume that the classes’ current performance relative to others in the beta is final. Some classes (and specializations) will need to be reduced in power and some increased. Many will complain the change has more impact on class X than class Y. We will address all those concerns via our internal testing and community feedback.
He goes on to detail that 30+ new buff/debuff categories are being created, within which only the most powerful of the effects will be affect raid members. Here’s a breakdown of the categories affecting Druids:
- Armor Debuff (Minor): Faerie Fire (1260), Sting (Hunter pet) (1260), Curse of Recklessness (800)
- Melee Critical Strike Chance Buff: Leader of the Pack, Rampage (5%)
- Bleed Damage Increase Debuff: Mangle, Trauma (30%)
- Spell Critical Strike Chance Buff: Elemental Oath, Moonkin Aura (5%)
- Increased Spell Damage Taken Debuff: Ebon Plaguebringer (13%), Earth and Moon (13%), Curse of the Elements (10%)
- Increased Spell Hit Chance Taken Debuff: Improved Faerie Fire, Misery (3%)
- Percentage Haste Increase (All Types): Improved Moonkin Aura, Swift Retribution (3%)
- Melee Attack Speed Slow Debuff: Infected Wounds (4% x 5 = 20%), Judgements of the Just (20%), Thunderclap, Icy Touch (15%)
- Melee Hit Chance Reduction Debuff: Scorpid Sting (5%), Insect Swarm (2%)
- Healing Debuff: Wound Poison (10% x 5 = 50%), Aimed Shot (50%), Mortal Strike (50%), Furious Attacks (25% x 2 = 50%)
- Attack Power Debuff: Curse of Weakness (416), Demoralizing Shout (410), Demoralizing Roar (406)
- Stat Add Buff: Mark of the Wild
- Percentage Increase Healing Received Buff: Tree of Life (25% x Spirit), Improved Devotion Aura (3%)
In the above list, I’ve bolded the buffs or debuffs with the highest positive or negative effects and reordered them in terms of greatest benefit to least benefit. In the case that two entries are listed in bold, their effects are equal but only one will be active at any given time.
Other significant changes being made to talents and abilities include:
I will also list the changes to abilities which exhibit new behavior regardless of the exclusive categories. The changes usually mean the old behavior was removed and replaced by the new behavior. Numbers listed are for maximally-talented versions. Here is that changelist:
- Improved Moonkin Aura: Grants 3% haste of all types.
- Earth and Moon: Increases spell damage taken from all schools by 13% on the target.
- Improved Faerie Fire: No longer benefits melee and ranged hit chance, only spell hit.
- Tree of Life: No longer grants healing based on spirit, grants 3% increased healing received to raid.
Tree of Life aura will no longer stack with Improved Devotion Aura. This is especially significant with the simultaneously-announced change whereby Tree of Life grants 3% healing in the same way that Improved Devotion Aura does. If it’s true that the above changes are for maximally-talented versions of each ability, there will be no raid-wide benefit to having a Tree of Life if a Paladin with 18 or more points in Protection is present.
If, on the other hand, the 3% is solely for Tree of Life and does not include the 15% bonus from Improved Tree of Life, a Druid with 44 or more points in Restoration can have an aura at 3.45% strength. This is a very important distinction, and one that I hope is clarified soon. And while I would certainly prefer that our spec-defining form trump the 18-point Paladin talent, it’s kind of sad to think that taking a point in IToL will invalidate a Paladin’s 3-point investment in IDA, making the talent almost superfluous (although it will still afford an additional 600 armor).
It looks like Shaman’s Elemental Oath is being reduced from 6% to 5%, making it equal to the +crit benefits of Moonkin Aura (at its previous value of 6% it would have trumped Moonkin aura). The change to Earth and Moon is great, an increase from 6% stacked to 13%, presumably with a single application. Unfortunately, Insect Swarm’s chance to hit debuff will no longer be useful in raids where at least one Hunter is present; Scorpid Sting will overwrite it. Obviously, though, its DPM makes it more than worth having for any raiding Balance-specced Druid.
A further implication of this change is that only one aura from any given class will be active at a given time. In other words, the Restoration Druid with the highest Spirit will be the only one whose aura is effective when not trumped by Improved Devotion Aura. Whether or not this would end up being the case, was previously the subject of much debate that can now be put to rest.
While I feel the goal of this change is an admirable one (making all classes more equally desirable), I believe that it will actually have the opposite effect. If several classes can provide the same buff (or debuff), raid leaders won’t have to worry as much about raid composition. But worrying about raid composition to optimize the stacking of buffs and debuffs has previously created opportunities for many classes and specs that might have otherwise been passed over. If everyone has roughly the same utility, then you will only want the classes/specs that excel at their primary role (DPS, healing, tanking). If Balance and Feral can’t match the DPS of their parent classes, Mages and Rogues, and yet no longer provide any unique utility, what will be the point in bringing them along?
- Smacking the Raiding Beast | Warcraft Field Notes
- Resto4Life Sandbox» Blog Archive » Build 8885 and 8905 Changes
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