Tobold's Blog
Friday, February 06, 2009
Exciting changes in WoW 3.1

I'm not going to list them, but WoWInsider has pages and pages of announced changes for all classes coming in World of Warcraft patch 3.1. And I'm not talking about minor changes that change some bonus from 3.78% to 3.83% of something. But major changes with huge impacts on how classes work and what their role is in various environments. Of course I'm most excited about the priest changes, where for example the spirit buff will be made available to all priests, not just the discipline spec ones. Discipline priest will get a group shield, and will be able to cast Penance on themselves. Holy priests will enjoy improvements to various AoE healing spells. And as some commenters remarked, mana regeneration will be reworked for all classes, and a priest talent that previously gave you some mana back for overhealing will now shorten the casting time of slower spells after casting faster ones. That means a complete reevaluation of what stats are necessary for priests, and a big change to our spell rotation.

My warrior will also have some fundamental changes to how his class works, because switching stances will be made significantly easier, and stance penalties might be changed too. The Arms tree will get increased damage. And I don't have to shout at the priest any more when he casts Power Word: Shield on me, because in future that won't inhibit rage generation any more.

Other classes also get some big changes: Mages and warlocks gain abilities that provide mana replenishment to their group. Hunters don't need ammo any more. Death knights get their blood and frost trees buffed. Paladins all get blessing of kings as base ability. And the list goes on and on, including several points where big changes were announced, but not specified, e.g. improving holy priests viability in PvP.

A lot of good stuff, and it looks as if Blizzard is improving some underpowered classes like warlocks. Which causes less protests than nerfing the overpowered classes, but ultimately does the same thing for relative class balance. Nevertheless I find the timing a bit odd. Some classes, like paladins, have undergone massive changes with every patch since 3.0, often going up and down like a yoyo. Other classes have been rather neglected. Wouldn't it have been better if all those changes to all classes would have come with either patch 3.0.2 or with Wrath of the Lich King? Well, at least it appears as if patch 3.1 pretty much covers all classes, so we might achieve some stability to class roles and class balance until WoW 4.0.

I've heard cynics saying that those class changes in each patch are Blizzard's way of keeping us occupied when new content isn't forthcoming. But patch 3.1 of course will have new content in the form of at least one new raid dungeon, and who knows what else. So what is your opinion on the frequent changes to various classes? Is balancing just very, very hard to get right? Or is patch 3.1 just adding stuff that should have been in the game long ago?
There appears to be a new policy at Blizzard and their overall quality or polishing control is suffering for it. As has been pointed out, Lich King launched with less content than BC. More quests, sure, but less overall playable content. The bugs seem to be more persistent than usual, taking three months to fix. At this stage, Blizzard should only be tweaking classes, not making broad and sweeping changes to them.

I blogged about the ammunition and how it did not need to be fixed. At a time when players are craving more content, these sweeping class changes just seem to be overkill. The time they are spending on this is taking time away from general, playable content. Sure, make some tweaks as needed, but focus on the need for content.
Hee, I knew there was bound to be someone who was excited about the spirit buff being baseline. But I agree with hound, what about the actual exciting new content? Class tweaks are useful and all but not going to really give bored people anything to do.
Hunters without Ammo? How do they plan on working that? Currently, bullets and arrows give you additional DPS. They would have to rework all ranged weapon stats to adjust for that unless you just keep 1 bullet in the paper ammo slot and be done with it.
I think this is making up for content and the slow process of making the game more generic and easy. I wonder if I have been tricked into playing a game that easier than I would choose for myself otherwise.

There /are/ things I miss about EQ and its difficulty--mostly the community the difficulty of the game forced on everyone. Wondering outdoor mobs of death (giants mostly) made grouping in dungeons preferable and you would repeatedly see people in the same zone, grouping with them sometimes and socializing with them in the zone wide chat.

WoW the sense of community is weaker--even as I participate in a strong community based raiding organization (Leftovers.

I find myself playing WoW for the raiding. And not just raiding but tanking (one of the 2 high skill slots in the raid if you ask me) and leading raids. If I didn't have the meta-game of raid leader I don't think I would be playing WoW at this point. Leveling certainly isn't a challenge (2 80s right now, 2 70s and working on a 26 ret paladin who is earning a level a weeknight, after knocking out the Hodir dailies).

I would enjoy hooking into the arenas, but I have never done them and don't know how to hook into that community--not to mention I want to do it on my prot warrior without respeccing all the time--which means dual specs first.

That is likely the plan. The ammunition will probably be treated as a single upgradeable item that just sits in a slot until you need to change it. They COULD implement a fun, challenging method of upgrading the ammunition, but it will likely just be an item to be purchased from a vendor like current ammunition is.

[cynicism] Blizzard: making things more boring by the patch. [/cynicism]
Sigh, I'm going to sound such a stickler but truthfully the patch notes haven't excited me - at least not concerning my warrior. I'm resigned somewhat to the idea that WoW is being dumbed down but then I'm considering myself to be slightly masochist because of how much I enjoyed the grind and hard slog of previous versions of WoW.

It could just be I'm fed up of WoW once more but there's nothing in the patch notes that currently makes me go "ooooh!" and that will no doubt have an impact upon my motivation to keep on playing. Very tempted to have another crack at EQ2 or Vanguard at the moment oddly enough, although that new Shin Megami MMO (Imagine) isn't too bad a play at the moment. Better than Runes of Magic anyway xD

I suspect a lot of these changes have been on the books in one form or another since 3.0.2, but held back until they can get some solid data on how the new gear (more armor pen, haste stats, etc.) is affecting classes, as well as a ton more info on how DK's are interacting with and comparing to the other classes.
While priests and druids still have talent points that give benefits from stacking spirit, I'm not sure how much your gemming/enchants will need to change. They have stated that MP/5 while casting will remain the same, but they do not want people to take as much advantage from staying out of the 5 second rule as they are now it seems. What is really going to hurt druids is if they do nerf clearcasting along with this change. I hope all they do is change clearcasting so that it doesn't take you out of the 5 second rule.

Not sure how this will change things. I'm guessing if anything, my spell power/spirit gems will have to be replaced with spell power/MP5 gems, which is what they were pre-spirit buff. I may also have to stop gemming for straight spell power and gem MP/5 again. The change may also make my majestic dragon figurine worthless.

Guess I will just have to wait for the PTR results to start surfacing =)
Overall, I like changes in class dynamics. They keep the game more interesting by making us adapt and learn to use more abilities. To me it would be totally boring if new content were just defined by scaling all the DPS and HP up by a given factor, with new models for mobs. I find fun in finding out the easiest and most efficient way to play my character.
No more ammoooooooooooooooooooo! /Snoopydance

That is all.
The 3.1 Patch Notes are fake.
You're days behind in your news, Jonathon. I'm talking about the changes announced by Eyonix, not the obviously fake patch notes from before that. In fact the announced changes are way better than the boring stuff in the fake.
Wrong posts.

Blue put up a number of posts yesterday about priest roles and up coming class changes. Check out yesterdays flurry of stuff on WowInsider.
Tobold wrote: "Some classes, like paladins, have undergone massive changes with every patch since 3.0, often going up and down like a yoyo"

In fact, that's part of the reason I switched from Paladin to Warrior. I feel like Blizzard has a stable vision for warrior - they know what the class is supposed to be and how the class is supposed to work. I feel like Blizzard is confused with paladins - they've been making significant changes to the class, and again, and again, and can't seem to settle on a workable vision for how the class is supposed to work. It's not that each iteration is bad... but each change disconnects me from the class, and by the time I adapt again, the class changes again.
I think the confusion comes mostly from the players, of both the paladin class AND other classes. They probably started with a firm idea like warriors, started working on it to bring it into shape, and then were bombarded with 11 million different ideas about what the paladin is supposed to be.

I never want to have a job where I have to try and please over, say, 20 people at a time. Too stressful.
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