Tobold's Blog
Saturday, December 05, 2009
I might keep my main in Cataclysm

As much as I applauded many changes to raiding in Wrath of the Lich King, personally WotLK wasn't really a good raid experience for me. Basically I felt I had made the wrong decision at the start of the expansion to level my holy priest first, and use him as my "raiding main". It turned out that I found raid healing in WotLK a lot less fun than raid healing in vanilla WoW and BC. Raid healing had become too fast for me, and I hated the fact that I couldn't use slower healing spells any more, or the fact that it didn't matter that those slower spells were more mana effective, because mana never ran out anyway. I did enjoy the tactical challenge of healing in the slower vanilla WoW environment more.

So I was toying with the idea of using a different character class as my main in Cataclysm. If I'm just spamming a fast spell anyway, I might as well play a dps, and avoid the added stress and unjust blame laid on healers. But now I'm reading news about Cataclysm that make me rethink that idea. Maybe healing is going to become good again in Cataclysm, and I might keep my healer as main in Cataclysm. Via MMO-Champion:
"Quote from Blizzard staff
Health Pools in Cataclysm
Health pools will be much larger in Cataclysm and healing will be lower. That should help address some of the overly binary feel of PvP and PvE encounters.

You'll still be able to kill people as well as be able to heal them. The pace will just be a little slower and both healing and killing should require more than 1-2 buttons.

Tanking and Healing in Cataclysm
You missed the part where I said health pools will be higher. Imagine a boss that takes say 3-4 hits to kill a tank, but it also takes a healer 3-4 heals to top her back off. Now efficiency of a healing spell can be as much of a consideration as direct throughput, since the tank is unlikely to die in your next GCD. Now coordination among healers can be a bigger deal since efficiency will matter. Now maximum health on the tank classes will matter less because the question of how long you can survive without a heal landing is largely academic. Now avoidance on a tank can matter a little more because saving healer mana becomes as important as being table to take the next hit.

As an aside, healers will actually need enough healing tools and enough distinction among them so that they are really choosing the big, expensive heal vs. the small, cheap heal vs. the fast, expensive heal, to name just a few examples.

Classes balance in Cataclysm and burst damage
The gear scaling is "easy" to fix, meaning we know what to do and it just requires a lot of work. We are prepared for players to be sad when their ratings convert less favorably, but most would agree it's good for the game in the long run.

I already addressed the burst issue above. If the bathtub is bigger, then the rate of health pouring in and going down the drain don't affect the volume as severely."
Higher health pools, leading to the return of tactical decisions of what speed vs. efficiency of healing spell to use? Count me in! This seems like an excellent idea to me. And as the devs mentioned, the same solution will also fix the issue of some classes being overly powerful in PvP due to burst damage.

I'm just wondering what form exactly these higher health pools will take. Will a naked level 80 character have more health after Cataclysm then before? Or will it go up dramatically with every level increase from 80 to 85? Or will the health pool only be increased via more stamina in gear, enchants, and gems, so that stamina suddenly becomes the most important stat for all character classes? And what about the size of the health pool of regular mobs outside dungeons, will those increase as well, making combat overall slower? Personally I'm all for slowing down WoW a bit, it had become a bit hectic over the last expansions. But I'm sure some other player will resent reducing the pace of the game.

The other consideration is that if I still hate healing, I now have a backup plan, even if I used my priest as my main: I now have dual spec in shadow, and I'm actually dealing an above average amount of damage when I join a group in a dps role. So leveling the priest first makes more sense than lets say leveling my mage first, because with the mage I have no choice at all which role I want to take.

What do you think about the announced changes to the health pools in Cataclysm?
In the abstract I don't have a problem with slowing down the game some but the devil is always in the details and the implementation.

I'm all in favor of more strategy and tactics. So why can't I help but feel this is a back door way of making five levels last longer so that it feels just like ten.
I think that for some time Blizzard has somewhat lost control over the mudflationary aspects of their game.

One of the designers even said recently "we want levelling to 80 to take the same time as levelling to 60 used to do" but "that hasn't worked out".

Healing in particular was, I think, never intended to become an infinite mana spamfest.

They claimed they were fixing the problem when they launched patch 3.2 but the nerfs to class abilities were more than offset by the improvements in gear people got.

So basically I'll believe it when I see it. There are so many healing synergies, damage reduction cooldowns, raid buffs and stat multipliers that it will be very hard for them to actually implement this as intended.
I wonder what this means for older content though?

If health pools are going to increase to the levels indicated, and we can only guess here, then it begs the question of whether or not they plan on retuning older content? If not, then leveling a DK from 55 to 85 will be insanely quick unless they limit exp somehow.

It also means that a lvl 85 character will be many degrees tougher for level 80 content, than a level 80 character was for level 70 content. So it seems to be a boon for those interested in chasing older achievements and seeing previously unavailable raid content.

Overall this is good stuff to ponder on, and it should keep the min/max crowd and the theorycrafters busy for quite some time.
I'm pretty sure I recall Blizzard spokesmen saying exactly the same thing before the release of WotLK.. bigger health pools.. slower combats.. etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, we'll see.
as carson says, we went into wrath with this idea and look how it turns out, yea the health pool is a lot larger but damn the bosses still hit hard

I hope it will become more tactical, even though my main is a chain heal spamming resto shammy i'd love to see a return to times where spell selection was important, sort of like before they nerfed downranking
I'm carefully optimistic about that. It sounds good, but there are too many cases where the mana efficient spell is identical with the fast spell. That would mean your healing would be like: Cast spell x as long as the boss is not dishing out more than you can heal, if that happens switch to the slow, mana inefficient spell and hope the fight is over soon.
Another sceptic here, as Blizzard pretty much predicted almost the same for WOTLK: healing would become slower, mana management would be needed again and so forth. In practice all healers were hit with a massive nerf bat and struggled with mana while levelling to 80, but by the end of Naxx we were back to infinite mana and as far as the speed of healing goes... you know what we got.

I'll believe it when I see it.
They actually announced this change at Blizzcon:

Stamina - “GONE!” Obviously the panel was joking. Stamina isn’t seeing any direct changes, but the designers believe it will be a more level HP pool after all the other changes are put in place. I believe it was Ghostcrawler that put it as “no more plate HP envy.” (

At least in the abstract I think this will be a positive change. Current content raid healing seems to boil down to stacking as many healers on the tanks as possible to prevent from getting two shotted in the space of a GCD. There isn't any coordination between the healers for the most part except for fights where the tank WILL die without the healers/tanks trading off long coolodown saving abilities. In PvP Arena these changes ought to take the emphasis away from burst damage and more towards effectively controlling the other team and preying on the other team's mistakes.
Ah, character changes.

I played a mage in vanilla WoW. Got tired of pressing frostbolt x 1.000 and played a warlock through TBC. It's a very fun class to play as affliction. But then destruction came *the* raiding spec and I was again spamming one button: shadowbolt. For the Lich King I've been playing a deathknight. Lots of fun and requires lots of buttons to press. So I think I'll just stick to that character for the next expansion.

As for health pool increments, that's exactly what they did with TBC expansion. Players could be one shotted with my double trinketed, arcane powered frostbolt + insta frostbolt combo. Increasing the healthpool was a way to make the pvp experience less about burst damage. Seems like the circle is round again.
I certainly hope Blizzard is smart enough to see that they can't add the extra health through gear, given the new ability to reforge items. Players will simply take that huge stamina bonus and convert half of it into their particular attack stat.

Do that to every item slot, and now your character is even heavier burst than ever before.
We can only hope. I felt vindicated in a blue post I saw on MMO Champion, perhaps on the same day, that was talking about how rogues are actually squishier than clothies atm. The insane burst damage combined with small health pools and little non-cooldown defensiveness has made playing a rogue in PvP pretty terrible.
In raids, I used to play a holy paladin in BC however the faster pace in WotLK made me seat that character because I just couldn't play it. I wasn't all that good at paladin in BC but now with the massively quick spamming I've just become terribad.
I'm pessimistic.

You increase players health pools then increase all damage and heals protionally and nothing changes... just bigger numbers doing the same % they did 4 years ago.

If I do come back to WoW I don't think I'll play my priest.

TBH my biggest problem with WoW is the lack of variety. For every spec ther is only 1 best item for each slot. That makes the game dull to me. You can't spec your character to play a different way and still be fun/useful. It's cookie cutter follow the crowd or be gimped.
Having healed in Warhammer (where they deliberately designed the heals/health in this sort of way to slow fights down), I'd say it did mean a more measured pace of healing but at the cost of healers feeling less powerful.

I mean, when you throw a huge heal and half of someone's healthbar comes back you feel pretty badass as a healer. When you throw your biggest heal and it's a lot less than that, you will feel more ineffective even when the design performs exactly as desired. So it may not make healing more fun (although hopefully it will be less about spamming your fastest heal).

Just have to wait and see, really.
I know for tanks at least, health pools are basically doubling during each expansions life cycle. If I recall correctly by the end of TBC 20-25k was normal for a tank, by the end of WOTLK 50-60k should be the average. So at a normal pace tanks in Cata should hit 80 in the 40-60k range, and end cata at around 100k hp.

I wonder why they are considering making health pools larger. They could just makes heals smaller and bosses hit for 1/2 the damage they do and it should generate the same end effect.
A bit off-topic, but how do you feel Cataclysm is shaping if one is up considering returning to WoW after a long absence (since vanilla) ...
A bit off-topic, but how do you feel Cataclysm is shaping if one is up considering returning to WoW after a long absence (since vanilla) ...

There is two parts to that answer, the part I know, and the part I hope for. What I know is that already the current expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, significantly improved the quality of quests, and made the endgame more accessible.

What I hope is that as promised Cataclysm revamps the level 1 - 60 game to a quality as high as the WotLK quests, and solves the problem of low-level dungeon groups being hard to find with patch 3.3 cross-server LFG this week.

So I'd say Cataclysm is looking good for people who want to return to WoW, because even if you lost contact with previous friends / guilds / etc., the start of Cataclysm would be the perfect moment to make a new character, goblin or worgen, see the game in a completely new light, and make new friends.
@Stabs "Healing in particular was, I think, never intended to become an infinite mana spamfest."

I would like to argue that healing is no such thing. In hard mode encounters, especially, mana efficiency and healer coordination does matter a LOT - it is very possible to go OOM if you just spam spells.

This being said, I do very much look forward to the less "binary feel" in PvP if not PvE. Burst is still ridiculously high and 1000 resilience people get blown up from 100% to 0% in the course of a silence, so that definitely needs fixing.
"What I hope is that as promised Cataclysm revamps the level 1 - 60 game to a quality as high as the WotLK quests,..."

I honestly think you're going to be disappointed in that respect. There is simply far too much content for them to re-do.

My expectation is that one of the following will happen :-

1. A vastly reduced 1-60 level time. Say in the time it currently takes to do 1-20.

2. Start at level 55, or possibly higher.

3. No change except new starter areas for goblins and worgen and new class quests where needed (eg Troll Druid).

What is most definitely *not* going to happen is Blizzard revising the 5,000+ quests in Olde Azeroth to fit the post-Cataclysm Azeroth.
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