Nov 13

A Farewell to Pandaria

Lately, I haven’t been posting a whole bunch. Blizzard’s approach to the beta was different this time around – they made huge scale changes regularly, and often reverted changes soon after. It started to get pretty clear that trying to keep up with it all wasn’t worth it. At the end of the day, the only experience that matters is the level 100 experience on the live servers – so that’s what I’ve been waiting for.

I do want to take this opportunity between expansions to talk about some of the good and the bad of the expansion just gone. MoP kept me engaged throughout its lifespan, but distantly. I didn’t do any serious raiding, and the groups I did raid with were usually shortlived. I felt like this expansion, I always had something to work on – some sort of goal for my character. Honestly, though, WoW is better with friends, and MoP made it a little too easy to play the single-player version. I hope this changes.

With respect to healing, MoP had its good and bad. For Resto Druids, they fixed the problem that Nourish fill provided, and turned the play style into a multi-tasking-heavy, time-management-demanding experience. In this way, it was the best expansion (IMO) for healing. The posts I wrote about mechanics, and mana/time as resources were my favourite I’ve ever written. When the game operates this way, I want to play it.

MoP’s greatest downfall is something Blizzard have stated often recently – that damage was too spiky and that there was no room for interesting decisions. They are absolutely right, at least that damage was too spiky. There’s always going to be room for interesting decisions. Really, the question is whether or not the new style will fix that or not. In my experience so far, it just tends to mean I spend less time healing and more time doing bad DPS. My other big concern is that this is how it will be at all levels below Mythic. I’m hoping this isn’t the case at 100.

Before we go through the Dark Portal again, I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who reads this, and in particular those who have contacted me before and will in the future. Throughout the life of SometimesATree, I’ve gained what I consider to be a reasonable readership (based on traffic stats), but I’ve never really had a whole lot of contact from readers. Recently, I’ve had some wonderful words of support and encouragement from people contacting me, telling me they enjoy what’s here. This really does mean a lot to me and you have my sincerest, heartfelt thanks. Content will begin rolling out more frequently during WoD, and I do plan to make good on my intention to create more YouTube videos.

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/farewell-pandaria/

Sep 29

WoD Professions Overview

As someone with multiple alts and a pretty solid profession coverage, I started looking into WoD professions this week – mainly to see which professions were worth doubling up on. I had to basically research one profession at a time and make comparisons, so I decided I’d write a bit of a summary to (hopefully) save you some time. There’s a lot more to professions in WoD than what’s in this post so you should still do some more research, this is just glossing over all but the important bits. This is also based on beta information so it might change!

One important thing to remember: There are no more profession bonuses in WoD. Professions are now about gear only, there isn’t one profession that translates to more healing.

All crafting professions will work largely based off one special mat, which is obtainable both by a daily CD and from garrison work orders. They are all BoP so you can’t dedicate alts’ garrisons to farming for one toon. On the plus side, almost everything created with them is BoE. You can create more work orders as your garrison levels, so the amount you’ll get each day will increase.

*Note that Blizzard are experimenting with a change to the daily CD – you’ll get 3 charges maximum that you can spend, and you generate one charge every 24 hours. You can do your CDs every day or 3 times every 3rd day, etc and it won’t matter.

  • Alchemy – Alchemical Catalyst
  • Blacksmithing – Truesteel Ingot
  • Enchanting – Rune Shard
  • Engineering – Gearspring Parts
  • Inscription – War Paints
  • Jewelcrafting – Taladite Crystal
  • Leatherworking – Burnished Leather
  • Tailoring – Hexweave Cloth

Crafting Professions – Wearable Gear

Tailoring, Leatherworking, Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, Engineering (Armour)

Inscription, Blacksmithing (Weapons)

  • All armour is epic iLvl 640 gear that has two stages of upgrades (you also create the item that does the upgrade); iLvl 655 & 665 respectively
  • All weapons are rare iLvl 630 gear that have two stages of upgrades (you also create the item that does the upgrade); iLvl 640 & 655 respectively (both epic)
  • You can wear a maximum of 3 crafted pieces at any one time, and it seems as though there’s an option for each slot.
  • Stats are randomised, and you can make an item that will re-roll the stats for a crafted item (so you get back a little control over your stats and the ability to make some adjustments in those horrible “should be an upgrade but isn’t because of loss of other stat” situations)
  • All crafted gear requires the special CD mats, listed above
  • The gear is going to be pretty good early on at level 100, but is typically “pre-raid”
  • Engineering goggles are BOE and they do count as one of the 3 pieces of Warlords crafted gear you can equip at any one time. It seems like they take a longer time to make than other pieces
  • Leatherworking makes a mount (had to throw this one in there)

Alchemy

  • The above mechanics for crafting items out of rarer mats basically apply to flasks, so it’s more like a cap on the number of flasks you can make per day.
  • You can transmute catalysts with 6 different cooldowns in a style very similar to the weekly cloth cooldown that existed in Cataclysm (using a different WoD herb as a mat for each).
  • Greater flasks (+250 stat) are effectively double the mats of the regular ones (+200 stat), so you can make half as many per day
  • No huge benefit to being a transmute master vs elixir master – you’ll proc extra flasks with elixir, or you’ll proc extra mats with transmute (there may be one that has a slight edge due to proc chance). Elixir will be cheaper though, since it’s only one of the mats that you proc with Transmute – you’d still need the rest of the herbs for each flask.

Inscription

  • Makes Darkmoon cards which are really good
  • Darkmoon cards can be upgraded in the same style as all of the above
  • There are 3 Darkmoon Tarot decks which are low level trinkets (require level 91, 95 & 98 respectively) which will be great for alts

Worth Doubling Up On:

  • Alchemy (Elixir master)
  • Inscription
  • Any of Crafting Professions – Wearable Gear

I don’t see there being any real reason to double up on Transmute mastery as in any expansion up to now, at least for now. Since it’s a specialisation that can be changed fairly easily, it’s not that big a deal. I’ll probably have 3 alchemists, 4 scribes and 2 leatherworkers.

Leatherworking is a good choice for druids, since we can make so much of our own gear. I think Jewelcrafting may be just as good or better, since things like necks, rings etc are going to be a bit more vital to our spec (these are the pieces you’re going to be after spirit on)

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/wod-professions-overview/

Aug 13

Germination in Warlords of Draenor

I’m a really big fan of Germination, one of the new level 100 talents in Warlords of Draenor. It’s got some cool synergy with a change to Rejuvenation. I had a question via Twitter about it and decided I’d just demonstrate how it works in a video.

 


Some notes on that synergy I gloss over in the video:

  • Base Rejuv duration up to 15 from 12 in Mists of Pandaria
  • Duration won’t be shortened in Warlords of Draenor via haste as it is in Mists of Pandaria
  • There is no penalty for refreshing the duration of Rejuv any time in its last 5 seconds (remaining duration added on to next cast)
  • Easier to multitask – as long as you’re aware when you’re within 5 sec of Rejuv falling off you can make informed decisions. e.g. You might refresh a Rejuv that would expire soon, and then Tranq, rather than have it fall off during the channel

 

I enjoy making vids and think it’s a great format for little things like this. If you’d like to see more personally, you can tell me (email or Twitter!) or like the video.

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/germination-warlords-draenor/

Aug 08

Multistrike vs Crit in WoD

ED: This post was written prior to 6.0 and is based on beta numbers. Some of the information has changed. 

As soon as I started looking at our stats at level 100 in WoD, I realised that the Multistrike vs Crit question was going to be pretty interesting. On the face of it, the two are actually very similar. Multistrike’s mechanism is very similar to that of Crit, with 2 chances of doing a set % of bonus damage, rather than a single chance of doing a set % of bonus damage. Below, I’m going to compare Multistrike and Crit, so that you can see not only which is better, but how they impact one another.

Simple Healing

Below, I’m going to use the term “simple healing” to denote that I’m ignoring real life factors that we have to deal with, like when crits are partially wasted because they would take the target beyond full HP. We are talking pure numbers in a scenario where all healing is beneficial.

Item Level Budgetisation

At this stage, the item level budget is the equal – variations of the same item might have 40 crit or 40 multistrike.

At the base level, 112 Crit rating gives 1% Crit, which is worth +1% additional simple healing overall. On the other hand, 112 Multistrike rating gives 2% Multistrike, which is worth +1.2% additional simple healing overall.

There is one factor to consider, which is that Crit increases the effectiveness of Multistrike. This only goes one way though – Multistrike doesn’t increase the effectiveness of Crit. The reason is that Multistrike is flat damage – if the original hit wasn’t a crit, the Multistrike(s) won’t be a crit – it’s just 30% of the damage.

The question then becomes, does Crit overtake Multistrike at a realistically attainable level of Crit?

The Conclusion

The priority of Multistrike vs Crit basically comes down to:

Multistrike > Crit

The margin is pretty narrow, such that if an item is a higher iLvl but has Crit rather than Multistrike, there’s a good chance that it will still be an upgrade. If you were to keep Crit & MS ratings equal (as in, a 1:2 ratio, because the cost ratio is the inverse 2:1), there is actually a point where Crit would become a greater increase than Multistrike. This would occur at 28% Crit / 56% Multistrike. This is most likely not going to be achievable (or worthwhile with Mastery & Haste both being priorities ahead of MS).

The Math To Explain

The next section has the math on the subject. It’s not really number heavy, it just justifies what I’ve said aboce. If you aren’t interested, feel free to skip this part and trust what I say. Otherwise, please enjoy, and as always, contact me if I make an error!

Another way to look at Crit’s increased effectiveness from Multistrike is that 112 Crit rating is now worth slightly more than 1% increased healing, because points in crit not only boost your direct heals/damage, but your multistrike heals/damage also. The gain is so small per point of crit that you might be able to just remove it from any napkin math calculations you do to establish whether an item is an upgrade or not.

For example, at 5% crit (base), you actually gain +0.6% (that’s 0.006) per MS%. At 10% MS, that means your 5% crit translates to a 5.018% (0.05018) increase to healing. The key thing to realise here is that this compounds, so as your crit increases, the bonus to crit increases as your crit increases

For comparison, take a scenario where we you have 1680 rating worth of either Crit, MS or a mix to choose from.

The best option is to spend it all in MS, so that our stats look like:

5% Crit
30% MS
+23.54% Healing

Compare that to the opposite, where we’d spend it all bar what we need to get to 1% MS:

19.5% Crit
1% MS
+20.17% Healing

And then take the following case where you use more of a mix:

10% Crit
20% MS
+22.72% Healing

Note how increasing them evenly is a pretty minimal difference from stacking stacking MS on every slot. For reference, it looks like the first tier of epic gear (iLvl 660) generally has an secondary stat budgets of:

Chest – 294 (2 stats with 147 each)
Gloves – 220 (2 stats with 110 each)

Every piece you get in a pre-Raid set will probably have Mastery on it, most will have Haste, which leaves very little chance that you’ll get anywhere close to these levels of MS/Crit.

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/multistrike-vs-crit-wod/

Aug 06

Warlords of Draenor Stat Calculations

ED: This post was written prior to 6.0 and is based on beta numbers. Some of the information has changed. 

Below are some of my preliminary calculations for stats in Warlords of Draenor (based on current beta build 6.0.1.18663). These will be expanded in future posts, for now remember that unless otherwise noted, these numbers are approximates only (because of the small dataset of gear I had to work with on the beta), however they are pretty close. I’ve also got a preliminary list of WOD stat priorities, and some very early thoughts on the new stats Versatility, Leech and Multistrike.

 

WoD Stats

100 Mastery rating gives approximately +1.13636% Mastery increase
88 Mastery rating gives 1% mastery

100 Crit rating gives approximately +0.90925% Crit chance
112 Crit rating gives 1% crit

100 Multistrike gives approximately +1.5152% MS chance
66 MS gives 1% MS
***Multistrike is a DOUBLE hit (two chances to hit/heal for 30% of original damage/healing done)

100 Versatility gives approximately +0.76941 increased damage & healing
131 Versatility gives 1% increased damage & healing

100 Haste gives EXACTLY +1 Haste%

 

WoD Resto Druid Stat Priority

Mastery > Haste > MultistrikeCrit > Versatility

It’s pretty simple with the changes to haste, since 1% of each stat results in +1% healing done by HoTs. Crit has greater benefit for direct heals, but Glyph of Regrowth renders that limited to Healing Touch. I believe all changes to be totally negated through changes to HoTs (like Germination). Anyway, the comparison of Crit and Multistrike isn’t so straight forward, and I (or someone else) will work out how the two priorities fit together in the coming weeks, I’m sure. Comparison between Multistrike & Crit.

As for affixes, Leech is +self healing for a % of healing or damage dealt, looking at it it’s going to not be really useful at all for PvE, especially if you take Ysera’s Gift. What it *might* do is free up the Ysera’s Gift talent to take Cenarion Ward, so I’m withholding judgement, but for now that’s why I haven’t gone in to the numbers at all just yet. It looks like Spirit is going to be our only really desirable affix/tertiary stat at this stage.

 

Multistrike Details

The mechanics of the other stats will be pretty familiar with anyone who has already got some experience with resto druid pre-Warlords of Draenor. The new stats are quite interesting, especially multistrike (MS).

Multistrike tooltip:

multistrike tooltip

The multistrike tooltip, ingame.

Grants two [MS]% chances to deliver extra attacks or heals for 30.00% of normal value on each target. Multistrike [rating] ([MS%] multistrike)

So basically, every time you heal or do damage, you get 2 chances to deal 30% of the amount of healing or damage to those same targets.

Every 1% Multistrike (66 Multistrike rating), you gain a potential 0.6% increased healing and damage.

What I don’t know yet

I don’t know if each HoT tick can proc a multistrike, I don’t know if area heals (like Efflorescence) can proc a multistrike. Those are two big factors in how valuable it will be to druids. My gut feeling (untested!) is that HoT ticks would not have a chance to proc multistrike (too powerful). This means the boost is probably going to be biggest for the emerging Swiftmend-heavy style of play.

EDIT: Multistrike confirmed to affect HoTs (does not work with Efflorescence).

8/6 18:14:34.231 SPELL_PERIODIC_HEAL,Player:1135:0005B52E,”Valleygrl-Level100PvE”,0x511,0x0,Player:1135:0005B52E,”Gosudruid-Level100PvE”,0x511,0x0,774,”Rejuvenation”,0x8,0000000000000000,0,155340,0,0,0,0,0,0,0.00,0.00,0,2528,2528,0,nil,nil
8/6 18:14:34.231 SPELL_PERIODIC_HEAL,Player:1135:0005B52E,”Valleygrl-Level100PvE”,0x511,0x0,Player:1135:0005B52E,”Gosudruid-Level100PvE”,0x511,0x0,774,”Rejuvenation”,0x8,0000000000000000,0,155340,0,0,0,0,0,0,0.00,0.00,0,759,759,0,nil,1

Considerations

Above, potential is a key word. Why potential? It’s the case for crit, and even moreso for Multistrike, that the boost you get, though consistent in the sense that it equates to a flat increase through chance, can’t be controlled. Sometimes, your crits and Multistrikes will happen when you don’t need them to, and won’t happen when you do. If you heal someone back to max and your Multistrike is relegated to overhealing, it has done 0 effective healing.

Even though Multistrike may seem to simply be more than twice as good as crit (half the cost, more healing as a result) in reality, it won’t be that way.

 

 

ED (8/8/14): I corrected an error – I made a mistake in the Multistrike section where I counted the double chance twice. Serves me right for not annotating spreadsheets correctly. Apologies

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/warlords-draenor-stat-calculations/

Jul 17

Warlords of Draenor Inc

I know it’s been a long time coming, but there are finally a good chunk of updates inbound – with Warlords of Draenor incoming, I’ll be shifting focus of the site to WoD topics. I couldn’t bring myself to play much lately, let alone post about the state of the game – a game which is soon going to chance massively. A couple of days ago, I got my beta invite (which I think is the 2nd wave, at least that I’m aware of – not quite special enough for the first!). A couple of hours playing has me really pumped and the changes are really worth writing about. So do check back to read about what the hell some of those tertiary stats/affixes even mean, and what the state of spirit is.

For now, I’m still levelling – it’s not really worth delving too much into stats until at max level because of the way things scale – a stat can be everything at a lower level but nearly worthless at max.

While I level, what I’ll be working on is noting all the existing articles I’ve written as being MoP-specific, and changing the menus so that the distinction is clearly visible. You’ll still be able to read about MoP stuff, but I’m going to make it easy that come release week, you’ll have to dig a little deeper for it.

I want to take a minute to thank anyone who is reading this post, whether you’ve read anytthing else I’ve written or not. I really love making posts and updating the site and I feel sad going long periods without posting. I don’t want to fill it with pointless posts though because I like to think that anything I post meets a certain minimum standard. So thank you for visiting, returning or thinking about returning, as the case may be. Remember you can subscribe at the top of the page, via email or RSS, and follow me on twitter/twitch. I always invite email (or skype) contact whether you want to ask questions, or just chat peer to peer.

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/warlords-draenor-inc/

Apr 20

Warlords of Draenor: Resto Druid Level 100 Talents

Here’s a look at Resto Druid level 100 talents, some notes and finally, a bit about how they stack up. Disagree? Post a comment below.

 

Moment of Clarity Omen of Clarity now lasts 5 sec, instead of 1 cast

This is extremely powerful. Dumping 3 FREE Regrowths over the space of 5 sec is going to be a huge throughput boost. In Tree of Life, when Regrowth is instant, this becomes an even bigger Regrowth spamfest.

 

Germination You can apply two Rejuvenations to the same target.

This is a pretty interesting change. My gut instinct is that it will not be as powerful as Moment of Clarity, but it does allow you to really boost your single-target throughput.

 

Rampant Growth Swiftmend now consumes your own Regrowth or Rejuvenation, but has no cool-down.

Stylistically, I don’t like the change. I don’t think it’s ever going to be worth it to spam Swiftmend at the cost of an additional GCD over the cost of a Rejuv, but it might have situational use if you are heavy on Rejuv use (which I am). I don’t know, it seems like this change is for someone like me and it doesn’t do it for me.

 

Unfortunately, I’m thinking that Moment of Clarity is going to be a pretty clear default. Germination’s true value will depend on what the numbers end up at come release – how SP coefficients, spell costs, mana regen mechanics and the like will combine to change the overall flow of healing, but Moment of Clarity in its current iteration is clearly super powerful. I’m banking on a change before release!

 

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget you can participate in the discussion by posting a comment below. Also, don’t forget to join the mailing list so you don’t miss any posts.

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/warlords-draenor-resto-level-100-druid-talents/

Apr 20

Warlords of Draenor Resto Druid Alpha Changes

Some of the changes we’re seeing at the moment on the alpha are pretty interesting. I’ve included the summary of Warlords of Draenor resto druid alpha changes below. Whether they may be considered “buffs” or “nerfs” today, with the changes to mana regen mechanics and stat balance, we’re really going to experience a reset of sorts. I’m going to go into more detail on several of these over the coming days.

Mana Cost Reductions

  • Healing Touch (19.5%*Base to 18.5%*Base)
  • Rejuvenation (18%*Base to 17%*Base)
  • Lifebloom (7.7%*Base to 7%*Base)
  • Cenarion Ward (14.8%*Base to 14%*Base).
  • Regrowth (38.5%*Base to 37%*Base)
  • Swiftmend (13%*Base to 12.5%*Base)
  • Tranquility (27%*Base to 25.5%*Base)
  • Wild Growth (17%*Base to 16%*Base)
  • Wild Mushroom (31.5%*Base to 30%*Base)
  • Wild Mushroom: Bloom (38.5%*Base to 37%*Base).

NB: Wild Mushroom & Wild Mushroom: Bloom have previously been free in MoP, so even though it’s been reduced in the alpha, this is a more major change.

Mana reductions will make it slightly easier to manage mana through spell choice alone. Consider also that Innervate won’t just be a free +20% mana every 3 minutes on a single ability, so it is something of a trade off.

 

Mana Cost Increases

Genesis more expensive – 14.5%*Base up to 18%*Base. Genesis is a very powerful ability. At approximately the cost of a Rejuv it is very easy to calculate it’s cost effectiveness on the fly and is still going to be uber powerful.

 

Ability Changes

Innervate has changed to now regen 2.5%*Max every 4 sec for 8 sec on a 2 second cast with no cooldown. This will either be worth 5%*Max or 7.5%*Max over the 8 sec if you don’t heal, depending on if there’s an upfront tick or not. Note that damaging abilities may be cast in this period. This is a really cool change to Innervate and will bring in a whole new dynamic of healing style, especially useful on fights with spiky damage phases. You’ll be able to heal like crazy for short durations, and spend downtime regening mana.

Wild Growth now has a cast time of 1.5 sec, up from instant.

Tranquility has been changed significantly in an effort to reduce the complexity (channel+AoE ticks+HoT effect+smart heal+strength changed by raid size). It is now a simple “Heals all raid members within range every 2 sec for 8 sec”. Overall healing is stated to be approximately the same.

Smart heals (Wild Growth, Tranquility, Efflorescence) will now randomly pick any injured target within range, instead of the most injured target (players still prioritised over pets). Changes to smart heals are explained well in this blue post.

Area healing spells are tuned to be more efficient than single-target spells when healing 3+ targets, and less efficient when they heal 2 or less.

Another of our goals for healing in this expansion is to strike a better balance between single-target and multi-target healing spells. We’ve taken a close look at the mana efficiency of our multi-target heals, and in many cases, we’re reducing their efficiency, usually by reducing the amount they heal. Sometimes, but more rarely, raising their mana cost was a better decision. We want players to use multi-target heals, but they should only be better than their single-target equivalents when they heal more than two players without any overhealing. This way, players will face a meaningful choice between whether to use a single-target heal or a multi-target heal based on the situation.

Efflorescence has been moved to Wild Mushroom from Swiftmend, making Glyph of Efflorescence’s effect the default. This takes what was a mandatory glyph frees up its glyph spot.

Talent Tier 6 has been redesigned to provide a lesser and more balanced bonus to Resto, and provide a dynamic choice for off-role abilities.

 

Glyph Changes

Glyph changes so far are not particularly notable. Below are the ones I pick out as having some impact to resto druids in PvE.

Glyph of Imbued Bark While Barkskin is active, when you are interrupted the resulting school lock has 50% reduced duration
Glyph of Enchanted Bark For 10 sec after activating Barkskin, you are immune to Silence and Interrupt effects
Glyph of the Ninth Life Reduces all damage taken while in Cat Form by 10%.
Glyph of Efflorescence Removed. Glyph effect has been implemented as default.

 

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget you can participate in the discussion by posting a comment below. Also, don’t forget to join the mailing list so you don’t miss any posts.

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/warlords-draenor-resto-druid-alpha-changes/

Apr 19

Resto Druid Spells Removed in WoD

Resto druids seem to have not been affected too brutally by the ability cull, but weren’t left totally unscathed. Below are some of the known Resto druid spells removed in WoD and some comments about their removal.

Innervate (redesigned)

Innervate was removed entirely, but has since been re-added with a changed effect. It is no longer a single ability that gives you 20% of your mana passively. It is now a much more active spell, with no cool-down and a 2 second cast-time. It now regens 5%*Max mana over 8 seconds, the catch being that any Healing spells cast cancel the effect. This makes for an interesting change.

 

Nourish

Nourish was essentially rendered useless in MoP, because of how it scaled with Healing Touch and Regrowth, and Swiftmend being changed to refresh Harmony duration.

 

Symbiosis

This is a really disappointing removal. Blizzard’s reason for dumping it was that it was too complicated and convoluted. I do agree, but would have loved for it to have been reworked. It was exciting to have a spell that was so dynamic as to change depending on which class it was cast on.

 

Swift Rejuvenation

This was a pretty superfluous stat in MoP since 1-second GCD was achieved across the board thanks to haste without any effort whatsoever. Assuming no major change to GCD-reduction via haste in WoD, this was just removed for tidying things up. Biggest impact will be at low levels.

 

Note that 5% is an assume value based on 2.5% every 4 seconds (unfortunately I don’t have alpha access so my information is limited – if you can confirm please contact me). Innervate may have an upfront tick and might be worth 7.5%*Max mana over 8 sec. This seems highly likely (slightly more efficient than the current Innervate over 30 sec, if you spent that 30 sec not casting any healing spells).

 

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget you can participate in the discussion by posting a comment below. Also, don’t forget to join the mailing list so you don’t miss any posts.

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/resto-druid-spells-removed-wod/

Nov 17

Thoughts on the Warlords of Draenor Item Design Changes

Now that the dust has settled on the Warlords of Draenor announcements at Blizzcon, I’ve had time to ponder over some of the Warlords of Draenor item design changes to the game. Below, I’ll present some broad thoughts/concerns I have, particularly related to the changes to item stats and gearing.

Changes to gems/reforging/enchants/affixes/etc

I like the idea of changes to enchants, and I hope that it means that for the gear that can be enchanted we basically get the option to enchant whichever slot is available with whichever slot is possible, like jewel crafting has been in the past.

I’m not totally sold on the changes to jewel crafting, I think it will likely change profession balance. Even though I think profession balance is massively overrated, it’s just so easy to maintain with its current iteration, so why settle for less? I like the concept of affixes though, and gem sockets as affixes is intriguing. I feel as though this is a change I’ll probably grow to like, but I hope Blizzard pays attention to the profession balance concerns.

The changes to reforging have the biggest impact I feel. I agree with the change in principle – it feels really lousy to reforge every piece of gear every time I get a single upgrade, just because I now have a slightly more optimal path to a Haste break-point which allows me to squeeze out and extra +0.05% Mastery. In spite of this lousy feeling though, there is some reward in knowing you’ve just squeezed the most you can out of your stats.

My concern really comes in when you look at class and spec balance. Some classes, especially tanks and DPS, have flat stat weights, eg Crit may always be better than Mastery, which may always be better than Haste. For these classes, along with the removal of stats like hit & expertise, reforging’s disappearance becomes almost a non-issue – getting a piece of gear with a bunch more Crit is clearly an upgrade, and it feels more rewarding for these players. Unfortunately, I play a Resto Druid, which means that if Haste remains as it currently is, I have break-points to achieve, break-points which have a massive impact on my throughput, and exceeding them by any is essentially wasted stats. I feel like I’m destined to get wonderful items that should be an upgrade that I will not be able to equip, because it would mean I drop below a Haste break-point. At the moment, reforging provides a solution to the problem. It might not be the tidiest solution, but it’s a solution nonetheless. It leaves me to wonder if perhaps the change to reforging could have been not to remove it entirely, but rather, give it the enchant treatment, where you would only be able to reforge certain pieces of gear. I perceive a certain degree of imbalance between break-point classes like my own and those classes with flat stat weights.

I realise that some control over hitting break-points will be regained by enchants, but I am not yet convinced that it will feel like a real solution. I’m concerned about a scenario like the following example. The following stats are made up, I don’t know what the squish will bring us to, nor what the stat budgets will be – these were numbers I could easily work with to demonstrate my point:

EXAMPLE: I have this item and am sitting just over the Haste break-point – Say I’m 10 Haste over the break-point.

Currently equipped item:
150 Intellect
90 Spirit
120 Haste
Enchant: +50 Mastery

New item:
165 Intellect
110 spirit
110 Mastery
Enchant: +50 Haste

The new item is a considerable upgrade, because of the greater throughput increase offered by Mastery together with the greater Int and Spirit, but I give up 70 Haste. To get back to the break-point I want to sit at, I have to find two items with a Mastery enchant and change that to Haste. That means I’m giving up 150 Mastery to get 110 Mastery from my new piece of loot, a net loss of 40 Mastery. If that extra Int and Spirit isn’t worth more than the 40 Mastery, then of course it’s not an upgrade, and I’m stuck with the old one.

I should note that there is the possibility that the WoW devs have identified numbers that will scale satisfyingly so that if you are exceeding break-points, it’s by only the smallest of margins. I don’t see evidence of this in the game today, however, if I simply opt to not reforge and try to hit an optimal haste value. Enchants are the X-factor in the upcoming expansion.

Even though I totally agree with the change in principle, the way things are for admittedly only a few classes including my own, I think it has the potential to make things worse. I do hope that Blizzard have something in mind to keep this from becoming an issue. Personally, I feel like getting an item that should be an upgrade that you have to hold in your bags until you replace other gear is a worse feeling than needing to reforge every piece every time you get something. At least, for the price of reforging everything, you are getting an upgrade.

My game design suggestions

I’m throwing out the below ideas as simply a suggestion, off the top of my head. I don’t think these are necessary or even good ideas – they are brainstorming, just a way to throw some ideas out there, because I think it’s simply a matter of the right people recognising a potential issue and overcoming it. The below seem like reasonable ideas to me, but my perspective is Resto-Druid-only, and so I can see how changes like this might not work at the level of all classes. I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

One suggestion to fix the issue of break-point-reliant classes being ill-affected by inability to reforge might be to take the concept of reforging and apply it to enchants. Or put another way, enchants could function similar to the combination (purple/green/orange) gems have in the past. Allow enchants to have a mixture of bonus stats, that allow a more accurate level of fine-tuning.

The other suggestion, though I hate to suggest such a radical change, is to change Haste in some way. One possibility; hots and dots could revert to having their duration reduced and the same amount of ticks are scaled to the smaller duration (meaning no extra ticks, they just happen faster) so that Haste will scale linearly (with perhaps a single soft-cap) as opposed to the all-or-nothing break-point system. Haste’s effect to reducing the cast-time on direct heals might also be considered, but this seems like a clunky fix. I’ll note that while yes, I am talking buffs, that is with the expectation of a nerf in the form of reducing the overpowered-ness of so-called “smart heals”. I expect there is going to be some re-balancing around Wild Growth and Efflorescence, and as a result there is room for a buff like I’m suggesting. This post is not a veiled “Buff Druids!” placard.

Permanent link to this article: http://sometimesatree.com/thoughts-warlords-draenor-item-design-changes/

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