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Posts with tag casters

Speculating on a new resource system for Hunters

As we said on the podcast this weekend, one of the most interesting things to come out of the Hunter Q&A last week was that vague about "long-term plans" to "[remove] the need for hunters to rely on a different resource system then mana." That one kind of came out of nowhere, and the answer was even more vague: basically, they promised to talk about it at BlizzCon. Of course, that's what our attracted our attention: is Blizzard planning on getting Hunters off of their mana system completely?

That would be quite a change -- since the beginning of the game, Hunters have relied on mana as their "resource" -- Warriors have Rage and Rogues have Energy, but Hunters somehow got looped in with the other DPSers as mana users. That doesn't make much sense -- not only does it depend on Intelligence (a stat which Hunters don't really have a reason to go after anyway), but it's lead to the problem of keeping Hunters powered up. Hunters are almost continually out of mana, and Blizzard has made some wacky mechanic tweaks (with both AotV and Replenishment) to try and keep them up and running.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Classes, BlizzCon

Shifting Perspectives: State of the class, part 1 - Balance


Every Tuesday, or possibly Thursday when the writer votes on Tuesday and spends Wednesday screaming and beating her laptop over formatting errors, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week Allison Robert steals John Patricelli's column once again, secure in the knowledge that she will never be forced to atone for her crime as long as she writes something nice about ferals and keeps a respectful distance from Dan O'Halloran's whip.

I hate Tauren cat form.

Good. I got that out of my system and can write something productive. Although, believe me, if I could get away with it, an entire Shifting Perspectives would be devoted to just how much I hate Tauren cat form. I mean, just look at it! Look at the angle on the horns! The cat can't bite anything! Christ, I just -- hi, Dan. Yes, I'm totally writing the column! Look at me go!

This week, mindful as always of American election-year politicking, I'm going to borrow a page from presidential duties and write a little something I like to call "State of the Class." Druids have undergone a number of changes in the transition to Wrath of the Lich King, and will acquire even more as they level to 80. We are one of Blizzard's primary targets for both gear and role consolidation, which raises a few questions over how comfortably we're going to scale in relation to pure classes and what we can realistically expect on the march to a new level cap.

The TL:DR version of this article -- I believe our future is generally bright, the Druid community continues to have a few concerns over certain aspects of the class, our focus in PvP seems to be changing the most, and I hate Tauren cat form. This is a three-part post, so let's get started with balance. However, if you want to jump ahead to feral, you'll find that here; and the third part, restoration, is here.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Instances, Expansions, Features, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Leveling, Buffs, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Wrath of the Lich King, Battlegrounds, Arena

Spellpower 101, or how I learned to love unified attributes

The big patch today is changing the way stats work in WoW. In its own way, it's as much of a change as combat ratings were in the pre-BC patch. Specifically, there are two major stat changes coming:

  • Hit and crit rating will be will no longer have separate stats for melee and for spells. Both spell hit/crit rating and melee hit/crit rating will now simply be hit (or crit) rating. This will mostly benefit hybrid classes; for instance, +hit for a Paladin will make both their spells and their melee strikes more likely to land.
  • +Damage and +healing are getting unified into one stat: spellpower.

This latter change could use a bit more explaining, and that's the main subject of this post.

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Filed under: Patches, Items

Earth Shock replacement to be implemented due to downranking changes

People are still reeling from the downranking change on Beta, but as the dust clears and Blizzard continues to stick to their guns, it may be that we'll have to live with it. One thing Blizzard has said, however, is that if it looks like there's genuine void created somewhere by the loss of downranking, they'll fix it.

One genuine void is that of rank 1 Earth Shock. Shamans have longed used the spell as a spell interrupt when they can't afford to spend the mana on a max rank shock, both in PvE and PvP. With the new mana cost rules, that cheap interrupt is now gone, complicating a shaman's already touchy mana preservation issues.

Luckily, not all is lost for Shamans, as Koraa says that they are creating a rank 1 Earth Shock spell equivalent that should show up in the Beta at some point in the future.

This, at the least, is a good indication that Blizzard means to make good on plugging up holes left by the abolishment of downranking -- or at least the holes that the dev team sees as needing to be plugged. Will we see a replacement for rank 1 Moonfire for totem killing, or for rank 1 Arcane Explosion or rank 1 Consecration for flushing out stealthers? That remains to be seen, but it seems much less likely, since those are roundabout ways of using a damage spell for a non-DPS reason rather than the straightforward purpose of using rank 1 Earth Shock as a cheap spell interrupter.

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

Forum post of the day: Pushback on Pushback

I remember the day that patch 2.3 was released. I got out of work at six PM as was stoked to get home and try some of the glorious improvements. I had a 25 minute commute then, north on I-15 right past the Las Vegas Strip. Usually by six most of the traffic had cleared and it was pretty smooth sailing- except that day. Some genius decided that it was a good idea to reduce the four-lane freeway to one. My left leg aching from working the clutch and blood pressure rising from impatience and a bit of road rage, it took me about an hour and a half to get home. I should be used to pushback though; I play a caster in WoW.

Debigmacca of Aman'Thul believes that Wrath would be a good time to do away with spell pushback. His argument is based on the number of stuns, fears, and assorted other of immobilization effects that abound in the current state of the game. There was some agreement with the original poster that spell pushback is unnecessary as casters often quickly fall prey to melee DPS. There's only so much a trinket can do.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums, Battlegrounds, Arena, Forum Post of the Day

Breakfast Topic: The easy/hard grind

I'm currently working through Zangarmarsh on my Hunter, and this weekend I spent a lot of time grinding two completely different kinds of mobs. The Withered Bog Lords in northern Zangarmarsh were cake for my Hunter -- they weren't exactly gentle with my pet, but he was able to eat the damage, and I could have grinded right away on them all day. At the exact opposite end of the grinding scale, however, were those stupid Umbrafen Eels -- not only were they under water (always annoying), but they've got this on-hit electrical damage thing that just drove me nuts. I stayed to play with the Bog Lords for a long time, racking up the XP, but as soon as I was done with the Eels, I got out of the water and stayed out.

Fighting these two back to back got me thinking: what's the easiest/hardest mob to grind on? Some mobs (like the tigers in Stranglethorn or the bears/spiders in Ashenvale) are super easy to grind -- they have no special abilities, they're spaced out, and they go down fast. But others -- most gnolls, in my experience, and lots of casters -- are just annoying as all get out; they run around, pull others, heal up when they're almost dead, and give you lots of headaches while taking them down. Those are the mobs you don't sit around and grind on -- they're the ones you avoid completely after you've done whatever quest requires you to kill them.

What are your favorite or least favorite mobs to just grind on in the game?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Leveling

2.4 leaves hunters low on mana

Since patch 2.4, hunters have been having some problems. Aside from the outrage over the fact that our traps are now announced, we seem to be having issues with mana.

On the forums, hunters are not seeing much love from the non-hunter crowd, but I suppose that is to be expected. It is important to note however, that our mana efficiency is an intended attribute of our class. We are useful, not solely, but arguably primarily, because we can provide sustainable, long-term DPS. No, we don't crit like mages. In a boss fight though, we can keep going after mages short out.

Why are hunters all of a sudden having issues with mana? There are a few theories floating around, but we have yet to be graced with a blue response. Take the jump to learn more about why this might be happening.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Enchants, Forums

No, It's not a drinking problem

Matthan of Burning Blade brought up an issue with drinking to recover mana on the public test realm. He found that he was not receiving the normal benefit from imbibing. Hortus indicated that this phenomenon is not a bug but a change in the mechanics that ramps up mana regeneration over time. Players are used to a steady increase in mana with every tick. This change was not included in the patch 2.4 notes.

The general consensus from players is negative. Speculation suggests that the change was geared toward casters drinking Star's Tears or conjured water in the arena. Posters have made many arguments on why this would have negative consequences in the PvE environment. Many casters drink between pulls and do not usually have the opportunity to spend thirty seconds drinking in raids and instances. Incremental increases in drinking over time would inconvenience all members of a party or raid as they would have to wait for casters to fill up on mana. This could change become disastrous in chain pulls and endurance fights, where every second counts.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Buffs, Forums

Flash heals for everyone

Mystic Worlds (who just changed the color scheme on her blog) has an interesting idea: give every single class in the game the chance to have a flash heal all for themselves.

To a certain extent, things already seem to be going in that direction-- the Gift of the Naaru is pretty much exactly what she's talking about, except that it's only for Draenei. And Blood Elves, with Mana Tap and Arcane Torrent, have what you might call a "flash mana heal." Additionally, lots of high end gear is showing up with a chance to heal on it-- there's even an enchant now that periodically heals the whole party. Mobs are hitting harder than ever, but there's also more ways to recover from it.

But MW wants a "heal yourself, nub" heal-- for rogues or casters who don't manage aggro, or warriors who don't wait for mana. That idea I'm not thrilled about-- one way to "train" a caster not to pull aggro is to simply let them die. If we gave casters all kinds of outs, there's lowered incentive for them to do their job right in the first place. Of course, MW does say that each class would be required to spec a certain way for the heal, so it wouldn't exactly be free-- players who could play their class right could spec a different way and take the bonuses that came along with it, and players who wanted things to be a little easier could spec for the flash heal.

Then again, by the end of MW's piece, you can tell she's just ranting about being told to heal. That I can identify with-- if I'm main healing an instance, you don't have to tell me to heal you. If I'm supposed to heal you, and I can heal you, I'm healing you. Whether every class has a flash heal or not, if you're not the warrior and we're all doing things right, you probably shouldn't be getting hit in the first place.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Buffs, Enchants

Launch night poll: how late did you stay up?

True confessions: I was up til about 7 this morning leveling my blood elf warlock (caster noob alert!), after tooling around in the Outlands with my 60 rogue for a while. But, you know, it was totally "work-related"! So fess up -- how late did you stay up? Are you a proud member of the bleary-eyed workforce today? Or did you catch that <cough> nasty bug </cough> that was flying around -- I think it must have spread like wildfire from all the social contact of midnight launches. Please to be inputting your answer to our lunchtime launch night poll:

How late did you stay up?
Only a couple of hours past my usual bedtime. Gotta be sensible.
Way too freaking late, I'm exhausted today!
I hate you midnight launch people, I live in a yurt. A yurt next to Best Buy.
I'm still waiting to pick up/for my expansion to arrive.
Sleep? You mean people slept? n00bs.
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Filed under: Polls, Events, Expansions, The Burning Crusade

Adventures in Beta: Who will be queen of the DPS team?

Players in the BC beta have hit 70 and are beginning to raid, which means the return of Azeroth's favorite sport: complaining how underpowered your class is in groups! Warriors and rogues started fast out of the gate with some pretty heavy complaints. Warriors state that their rage generation has been nerfed enough that they won't be good DPSers anymore, and since druids and paladins can tank now, why would anyone bring a warrior? Rogues have noticed that they don't do damage as well as equally-geared mages and warlocks at 70, and since a lot of bosses have cleave and AOE attacks, why would anyone bring a rogue? Well, there are enough spare rogues and warriors running around to fill a large pit in Outland, and someone has to take the gear. Mages and warlocks have utility outside damage in raids, but rogues and warriors don't (unless you count suppression rooms, which you shouldn't.)

The casters have fired back, claiming that mages were always intended to be top DPS due to ... the character class descriptions in the guidebook, apparently. They also note that casters have limited mana pools, unlike rogues' constantly regening energy and the warrior's rage bar, and that caster DPS is more dependent on group composition than melee DPS (i.e. shadow priest group damage buffs.)

People from both sides and from healing classes have argued that because there aren't many great melee weapons and armor yet available at 70, melee classes appear underpowered -- but things will even out as better gear becomes available.

Do you think the melee classes have a point? Should melee DPS be higher on average than caster DPS because of the extra healing required by melee? Are rogues and warriors really in trouble? Or are they just whining because they have to work harder to compete on the DPS meters?

(Image from The Last Watch, Turalyon-EU server. DPS meters on Patchwerk in Naxxramas.)

Filed under: Mage, Rogue, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Burning Crusade

A few BC items available now

I found out about this when I spotted a player trying to sell the Ring of Bitter Shadows in chat. I asked them where they got it, since I remembered that it was jewelcrafted, and they sent me to a vendor named Jase Farlan up at Light's Hope Chapel, who sells it for a pretty decent price, in my opinion. It looks like a few other jewelcrafting items are currently available from vendors. This includes some of the figurines -- at least Figurine - Black Pearl Panther and Figurine - Truesilver Crab.

The question in my mind is whether these items will remain available post-expansion. My bet would be that they'll vanish, and this will just have been a fun little jewelcrafting preview. As far as I know, no significant crafted items are currently available from vendors, but maybe that's set to change.

Additionally, new and more powerful water, food, arrows, and bullets can be bought from an orc vendor named Galgrom deep in the Caverns of Time in Tanaris. The arrows and bullets are also available from general goods vendors throughout Azeroth, and seem to be a much better deal than the water, which as far as I can tell is exclusive to Galgrom. At over 10s for one drink, I probably won't be buying the water for general use, at least not until after I get my epic mount; the ammo costs 10s for a whole stack.

Have you all spotted any other BC items that have snuck in with the patch? And those of you who have tried the Filtered Draenic Water, how would you rate it? Does it make financial sense for someone with a mana pool around 6k?

Filed under: Patches, Items, Expansions, Jewelcrafting, The Burning Crusade

AddOn Spotlight: TheoryCraft

I'm always a fan of more data. The default interface only provides very basic information about your spells and abilities, and as the base abilities are modified more heavily by gear, it becomes impossible to determine what exactly your abilities are doing for you without the help of a calculator and several pages of notes. This is why I like the TheoryCraft mod that I ran across on Curse Gaming, which gives at-a-glance info on what all of my spells hit for right on my toolbar, as well as providing more detailed tooltip information. And, while I'm looking at it as a caster, it provides equal amounts of information for physical damage-dealers, giving an average damage per attack (and other statistics) based on equipped gear. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go back to switching out gear and staring at numbers...

Filed under: Add-Ons, Features, AddOn Spotlight

Caster Stats and Spiritual Guidance

When a class focusing on physical DPS picks up new gear with strength or agility, both their critical strike chance and attack power - and thus their damage - improve.  But this isn't the case for casting classes - while intellect offers a benefit to spell critical strike chance (though the number on this is a bit uncertain) and spirit improves mana regeneration, there's not a similar mechanic available for spells.  In terms of gear, I mentally consider an item with attack power to be akin to an item with spell damage on it, for the appropriate classes.  The issue, however, is that attack power can also be improved by strength and agility, while spell damage stands alone.  What this means is that casters tend to give up stats for spell damage, whereas physical DPS dealers can pick up armor with stats that also improve their attack power.

Is there a happy ending to this story for the casting classes?  I'll give you a solid "maybe" - patch 1.10 introduced a new priest talent called Spiritual Guidance, which is an interesting answer to the continuing complaint of caster itemization.  Spiritual Guidance is a 5-point talent in the Holy tree (you'll need to drop 25 points in Holy to max it out) that improves spell damage and healing by up to 25% of the priest's spirit stat.  This is a particularly fascinating talent that transforms one of the weaker stats into a strong one and makes gear with only stats a viable option.

This makes me wonder if similar mechanics may be, in the future, applied to other casters - mages, warlocks, druids, paladins, and shamans - allowing them viable gear options other than pure spell damage.  Thoughts, anyone?

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion

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