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Blood Sport: Patch 3.3, part I

Ahh, lovely Radiohead. The entirety of Scotch Mist (which is In Rainbows played live) will be our listening music, as I expect today's article to be somewhat...lengthy. Starting out with "Weird Fishes" is a nice touch -- you gotta love Radiohead's set order diversity. By the way, I'm going to continue supporting the Blood Sport column with listening music, due to overwhelming positive response. If you have any suggestions for songs, please let me know in the comments below!

Instead of talking about minor changes, I'm going to try to only hit the major ones here, as this is a giant patch. If you think I skipped something important, please let me know via the comments below and I'll reply.

Today, we'll be covering pet resilience, the Will of the Forsaken nerf, death knight, and druid changes, and what they hold for arena combatants. Expect the other classes and item/glyph changes soon! You can find all about Patch 3.3 here.

Check out what the last major patch of WotLK has for gladiators and challengers alike after the break!

General
  • Pet Resilience: All player pets now get 100% of their master's resilience.
3.3 will probably be remembered as the patch of Wrath of the Lich King. After all, the Lich King is actually being added! Out of all the important changes in the patch, the pet resilience change might have the most impact on arena.

This is huge! Pets jumping to 100% resilience will allow for pet classes (hunters and warlocks particularly) to not be afraid of their kitties or feldoggies dying in a single global cooldown. Pets will still be somewhat difficult to keep up, but this is a huge step forward.
Blizzard appears to have backed off of their stance that pets shouldn't possess full resilience because of the "send pet in like a missile and leave it alone" strategy. I'm glad the developers have finally agreed that pets are exceptionally squishy and losing them is a huge detriment to the master's arena team.
This is an incredibly complex way to nerf WotF (Will of the Forsaken). It might not seem like a complex change on paper -- many people feel by using your trinket before WotF the problem will be solved. However, this is not so.

The current WotF is acceptable. It's a strong racial but probably not overpowered. With the nerf, it might be detrimental to own it as your racial (since your trinket will be down more often than normal if you decide to use WotF before popping your trinket).

The nice thing about WotF is it's a complete "get out of jail (fear) free card" that doesn't have any strings attached. When you are in a situation to use the racial post-3.3 with your trinket still up, you'll have to decide if sacrificing your trinket for 45 seconds is worth it. Because fear is often a weak crowd control effect (dispellable, tremorable, fear wardable, etc) the answer will most likely be no.

Burning your trinket on fears, charms, or sleeps leaves you open to getting out of the same crowd control 45 seconds later, but it leaves you open to stuns, polymorph, etc for those next 2 minutes. It will become the most complicated and skill-based racial there is by infinite percent. Teams without dispellers / tremors will have an easier decision to make, however. The way the nerf is poised to be, it's just better to choose another racial and not worry about your team comp all that much. (i.e. the less dispels/tremors you have, the better WotF gets with this new change)

On the bright side, if you rolled horde, you're not "forced" to race change to undead for PvP, as a lot of hardcore arena players were planning to do. At least it's convenient that race changes are coming out with this WotF change, so PvPers can choose to shift away from WotF. Wow. I can't say I ever thought I'd be typing that.

Death Knights

Unholy
  • Night of the Dead: Now reduces the damage your pet takes from area-of-effect damage by 45/90%, but no longer applies to area-of-effect damage caused by other players.
Because this change affects all pets (death knight, mage, druid, hunter, warlock, priest, shaman, etc) I'm going to leave the patch notes intact for each class, but not elaborate on the change more than once.

This is a fantastic change. AoE should punish the foolish hunter or warlock that sends his pet to attack a bladestorming warrior. Mirror images / treants should be able to die via arcane explosion, if a mage opponent desires. AoE should be a potent tool for their class in PvP. Also, keep in mind pets that cannot be controlled (i.e. images and treants) are getting a boost in HP to prevent them from dying too quickly from AoE (in addition to the 100% resilience boost).
  • Scourge Strike: Redesigned. The base ability now deals 50% weapon damage plus an additional amount as physical damage. However, for each disease the death knight has on the target, the target will take additional shadow damage equal to 25% of the physical damage done.
Death knights are a mixture of magical and physical damage with emphasis on physical. Blizzard definitely wants scourge strike to follow that model, and this solution is on-point. This will cause more damage vs. certain classes and less vs. others now that the strike is a mixture of physical and magical, but that will add a little complexity to the play style, which I'm all for.

Druids
  • Rebirth: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 20 minutes down to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.
I normally wouldn't talk about Rebirth's reduction in cooldown, but I need to add this in because it is now one of very few abilities with 15 minute-or-less cooldowns which cannot be used in arena. This is a pretty vast change from The Burning Crusade era, where the only thing preventing an ability from being used in arena was the cooldown. Is this the sign of many more changes and experiments to come? We'll find out.

Balance
The health buff is due to the avoidance nerf. The giant reduction in AoE damage no longer applies to mass groups of pets, such as mirror images. Even though the pets will have higher resilience, avoidance is a much bigger boost to survivability with regard to AoE, so health values also need to be increased to make up for it. Pets will be more squishy to AoE, but more survivable to single target dps. Great change.

Feral Combat
  • Predatory Strikes: The Predatory Swiftness buff from this talent now has a 8-second duration.
Predator's Swiftness (the buff from Predatory Strikes) has gone from a 15 second buff down to 5, now up to 8.

Ghostcrawler went into depth about the change a few days ago:
We made the change to discourage a very specific form of gameplay. Specifically, this was:

1. Get the proc, but don't use it.
2. Build up 5 more cps on the target.
3. Now Cyclone before you do another finishing move.
4. Let your energy fill to full.
5. As soon as the Cyclone ends, unleash a huge Ferocious Bite with 5 cps and full energy.

Aside from the very high damage of an almost unpreventable Ferocious Bite, this way of using the proc worked counter to what we were trying to encourage. It's often easy for melee classes to get tunnel vision and just unleash every attack on the same target rather than switching targets or otherwise responding to what is going on in the fight. We'd rather see the proc get used to Cyclone say a healer or someone chasing your teammates.

In short, the intent was to give cats more team utility, not to give them a delivery mechanism for guaranteed full Ferocious Bites. With this change it will be risky or impossible to sit on the proc for long.

I guess 5 seconds was deemed too short for feral druids to shift out, cast their important spell, and shift back. With an eight second buff, seasoned PvPers will still be able to get large Cyclone-Ferocious Bite combos off, although they will be much more difficult to perform. Hopefully the spell will start to work as intended, with feral druids being able to jump out and throw a large heal, or Cyclone a target for Cyclone's sake.

Restoration
  • Gift of the Earthmother: Redesigned. This talent now increases spell haste and reduces the base global cooldown by 2/4/6/8/10% instead of its previous effect.
So, down from 20% of the base global cooldown, but up 10% spell haste. I'm not a PvE wizard to understand what this will do in raids -- I do know, however, that this talent now allows Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, and Wild Growth spells to scale with spell haste. Restoration druids might start stacking haste as a secondary stat.

EDIT: Because my wording was confusing, I'll explain the change a little more in depth here. Gift of the Earthmother enabled druids to teeter very close to the maximum amount of global cooldown reduction on instant casts (1.0 second). This change is not speeding up a druid's heal over time spells to tick faster (the Glyph of Rapid Rejuvenation, however, will have that effect to Rejuvenation). If the developers keep the new talent as is, it will also decrease the cast times of all other spells as well (Healing Touch, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, etc) by 10%!

Alright, that's going to have to do it for now. Expect the next article in a very short time, and until then, don't freak out or rejoice over any of the changes too soon, it is only on the PTR after all. Cheers!
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to the Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

Filed under: Undead, Battlegrounds, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Wrath of the Lich King, Death Knight, Classes, PvP, News items, Analysis / Opinion, Patches, Druid, Arena

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