Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Upcoming beta changes will reverse some of the recent nerfs

This isn't a very unusual experience in a beta, so why post about it? Of course there will continue to be changes as the beta winds down. But with the date for the expansion now officially announced (Nov 13th), and patch 3.0.2 already on the PTR I think Blizzard will focus more on tweaks than on major changes to anything from this point forward. So what we see right now, and discussed in the two posts I'll be quoting shortly are more or less what we should expect to go live.

I am extremely happy with what I read this morning regarding Death Knights. There are now very few gripes left unanswered by the beta Death Knight community.

DPS changes

-- Death Coil, Frost Strike, Death and Decay damage increased.
-- Strikes that scale with diseases changed so that the weapon damage, not just the flat damage, scales with the disease.
-- Double rune abilities damage increased: Obliterate, Howling Blast, Scourge Strike, Death Strike.
-- Unholy Blight no longer causes Blood Plague, but had its cooldown removed.
-- Several attack power coefficients increased.
-- Bloody Strikes and Scent of Blood swapped places.
-- Bladed Armor now turns armor into Strength (which then is turned into Parry).
-- Master of Ghouls' Ghoul now lasts until killed or similarly dismissed.
-- Ravenous Dead no longer affects Ghoul duration, but grants your rotting little buddy 60% more of your Str and Sta. (Stam goes from 30% of yours to ~50% of yours. Strength goes from 100% to 160%.)

Tanking changes

-- Frost Presence now grants 10% total health in addition to its current bonuses.
-- Blood Gorged, Rage of Rivendare and Tundra Stalker all grant 1/2/3/4/5 expertise.
-- Veteran of the Third War increased to 6/6/6 Str / Sta / Exp to match warriors.
-- Will of the Necropolis no longer grants expertise and now lowers Anti-Magic Shell cooldown.
-- Pestilence has no target limit. (It still has a radius limit.) Pesilence glyph now increases area.
-- Death and Decay no longer has a cower component, but a glyph can add that back.
-- Frigid Dreadplate now has a 100% chance for 2/4/6% miss but only on the DK.

Rewards for the selfless buffer

-- Abom's Might now grants 2% Strength at all times.
-- Improved Icy Talons now grants 2% haste at all times.
-- Ebon Plaguebringer now grants 3% crit at all times.

Runeforge changes

-- Lichbane now does 2% weapon damage as Fire, and double damage to undead.
-- Swordbreaking and Swordshattering add disarm duration reduction.
-- Spellbreaking and Spellshattering add silence duration reduction.
-- Cinderglacier reduced to 2 charges.

No doubt many awesome small tweaks I am forgetting.

Yes, truly awesome tweaks all.

On the Druid side of the house, GhostCrawler reported yesterday that on there own internal build (obviously with changes not on live beta yet):
We looked at tank mitigation in Naxx this morning, and guess what? Druid armor was approximately 10k higher than warrior armor and health was perhaps 7k higher. (I say "perhaps" because bear has such a big multiplier on stamina that your exact buff situation can swing this amount a lot.) Warrior avoidance is higher (if you count block as avoidance), but flat damage reduction was about the same, except for the extra 6% spell reduction warriors get from Imp Defensive Stance (druids were a little higher on the physical side). Expertise and crit were much higher for the bear. The warrior had to spend a lot of gems to reach 540 defense, while the druid could stack all health. This was in all blue and purple PvE gear -- nothing from PvP or BC content. All in all, the relationship was much closer to BC than I at least predicted.

Now these are just numbers. It's possible we'll discover something different when we do more tests where the tanks are actually getting beat on. We also didn't look at dps or threat at all.

Furthermore, I also toally buy the argument that you can be a good tank but not have fun doing it. Different problem, but not an invalid one.

I am less worried about the bears having mitigation scaling problems at higher level content, though that armor cap that originally seemed so far away is a little closer now. :)

FWIW, Paladins were very close to warriors -- tied in almost every stat. Death knight health and perhaps armor were a little low. It's possible their numerous cooldowns can make up the difference and it's also possible we'll have to buff them a little.
There isn't a great deal any feral could take issue with over that statement. Obviously it's been the topic of considerable debate for the past several weeks. However, these changes in no way address the issue that I, and many others have been frothing over these past several weeks as well. Creation of a virtual fourth talent tree, that separates DPS and tanking talents. As I said in opening, this is basically what we'll see go live, so there is virtually no chance of rolling back the virtual tree at this point. Much to my chagrin. So let us move on.

It is more important now than ever, that Feral tanks match Warriors in tanking ability. It appears we'll continue to have a single line of mitigation (Dodge), so extra armor and health to absorb the extra damage we'll continue to take over Warriors will continue to be as important in WotLK as it was in BC. And Blizzard has about six weeks left to make sure that they get it right.