- Death Knight - Being the new class on the block, there's certainly been a lot to talk about in the recent months. Daniel Whitcomb points you toward much of it, including leveling builds, in-depth looks at their core abilities and mechanics, as well as some sage advice from Allison Robert.
- Druid - Speaking of Allison Robert, she'll be your guide today if you're looking for more on the Druid class. Talent builds, a glimpse at raid healing as Restoration, the rise of the Moonkin and much more can be found within.
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Wrath of the Lich King is only a few days away, and as soon as we put those install discs in our computer we're back to leveling. There are some Priests who prefer leveling as Holy or Discipline or tri-spec or whatever, but as a diehard Priest of the Shadows, I think they're insane. For the next ten levels, this world is ours.
The Shadow tree is by far one of the best leveling specs, perhaps across all of the classes. I'd put it right up there with Frost Mages. Shadow is very well known for how well it solos, and how smoothly it grinds. This becomes even more true from levels 70 through 80. Some of our spells have been reworked, we get some fantastic new ones, and our new talents are pretty swank. Leveling is a much easier process than raiding or the arena, so we have a nice and calm next few weeks. I've gone over a basic leveling spec before, and now we're going to look at the new (or updated) tools we're going to be using on the way.
- Mind Flay's base damage has been reduced.
- Shadow Word: Pain damage has been reduced slightly.
The Shadow Priest world was recently pleased to learn that Mind Flay is going to be enhanced in an upcoming beta build with the ability to crit (as well as a 30% increased spell power coefficient). The Affliction Warlock community, meanwhile, just wanted to know if they'd get a similar treatment, and it looks like the answer is: maybe? Kind of?
Let me explain. Last night, class designer Koraa said the following in the beta forums:
There will be a new talent in Affliction in an upcoming build. Keywords: "DoT" and "Crit" (Well, sorta)
How do we interpret that "well, sorta"? Who knows, really. I'm sure we'll all see soon enough. In the mean time, it's always fun to speculate! What's like critting, but isn't actually a crit? Well, there could be a chance of 1.5x/2x damage, without actually being counted as a crit. This way it wouldn't trigger effects that trigger from crits. However, it would then not solve the issue of crit rating being next to meaningless for Aff locks. "Sorta" could also mean that crit mechanics will apply to DoTs, but not in a traditional way:
- A crit DoT could have each tick do extra damage (this would be the closest analogue of a regular crit, I think).
- It could be extended in duration, which would save on mana but not really raise DPS.
- Each tick could have a separate chance to crit.
- It could actually compress the DoT, making it do the same amount of damage in less time, which would raise DPS and keep DPM constant.
I think that last one is my favorite. What do you think they'll do? What do you want them to do?
Update: Semi-crit mechanism revealed! New talent: Pandemic - Each time you deal damage with Corruption or Unstable Affliction, you have a chance equal to your spell critical strike chance to deal 33/66/100% additional damage.
How is the Storm Peaks coming along? Seems like it has a lot of history and culture behind it.
This zone has been closed off more than it's been open. There are a few hefty bugs that they're trying to iron out that forces them to seal it off now and then, since the bugs bring the entire world server down. That and there was an XP exploit that the beta testers found and needed to be dealt with mighty quickly, so it was sealed off for that as well.
As far as the history and culture, I loved what I saw. A lot of Titan lore, a lot of Dwarven history. The introduction to the zone is pretty awful, though. Your first quest hub in the culture-rich zone is a Goblin town (K3) full of whimsy that has little to do with the zone's overall story. I guess you need to keep the mood light sometimes, though. Still, despite the silly Goblins, it was one of my favorite zones while I could get in there. Blizzard has thrown around the term "epic scale" quite a bit, and I think Storm Peaks really displays that. The place is absolutely massive, in the good way. Watch the video above if you want an example of the quests you'll be seeing. Be warned, it's kind of a spoiler in that doing this quest for the first time really leaves you in awe. Watching it beforehand might take that away a little.
Does Northrend have a 'level requirement' like Outlands?
With the proper talents, Mind Flay would refresh Shadow Word: Pain and Drain Life would refresh Corruption. This gives more utility to channeled spells, which normally require its full duration to run for optimum effect. PvP, in particular, requires constant motion which gimps the use of channeled spells. If the proposed changes push through, this means that channeled spells can be used for a short duration in order to refresh existing debuffs. This is an incredible trend that I hope makes it into live as well as extend into other, channeled abilities.
A little while ago, Drysc said in a post that "a prot warrior or shadow priest or what have you should though be able to jump into a battleground or arena and be able to do something with some small amount of success." This hasn't gone over well with many shadow priests. Even with Drysc trying to correct himself in multiple threads and insist that he doesn't mean that the class will never get more viable, a lot of shadow priests are up in arms.
It's probably pretty understandable. After all, before Burning Crusade, a Shadow Priest was pretty much universally feared upon the field of battle. They seemed to take almost no damage in Shadowform, and their DoTs tore through you with ease. Even in the early days of the Arenas, you saw quite a few Warlock/Shadow Priest teams tearing up the charts. These days, Shadowform doesn't really absorb damage like it used to, Psychic Scream doesn't really cut it as CC, and resilience makes sure that their DoTs are blunted quite handily. So what DO you do when you chose a class and spec to PvP, only to have that spec suddenly become lackluster in PvP? This isn't like Protection Warriors, who have known from the start they'd be good as tanks, and tanks alone.
We all generally have a good idea these days of what we roll a class and choose a spec to do. A Protection Paladin expects to tank. A Mage expects to DPS. But it's the divide between which specs are good at PvE and which at PvP that seems to be getting a little thorny lately. Should a player be able to count on their spec always being viable at the same aspects of the game? If so, should Shadow Priests expect PvP buffs sooner rather than later? Or should they accept that their age of PvP dominance was in the Battlegrounds and the pre-70 era, and resign themselves to speccing Discipline if they want to succeed in Arenas?
Amongst warlocks, it's a popular grinding build, able to handle multiple mobs at a time with very little downtime. Though it lacks the higher health pool and greater survivability associated with Demonology warlocks, or the pure nuking power of a Destruction warlock, Affliction is a build which performs well in many areas of the game. Let's take a look at an Affliction / Destruction build that incorporates threat reduction, DoT protection, and maximizes the damage done by DoTs.
When I rolled my baby UD lock (now 52 and lost somewhere in Feralas), my warlock friends told me that my first five talent points MUST be spent making Corruption instant cast. "Everyone does that," they said.
Well, apparently not everyone. There's a 22-page thread on the General Forums arguing for a trainable instant Corruption. A lot of endgame locks spec 0-21-40, and don't have the talent points to spend in Affliction. But Corruption's spell damage coefficients treat it as an instant DOT, even though it's a two-second cast without talents. Most locks don't consider Corruption worth it without the talents because of this.
The thread quickly degenerates into mage vs. warlock fighting, but it does raise an interesting point. A lot of other "essential" talents have become trainable -- Innervate, Evocation, instant Arcane Explosion. Should the locks get the same benefit, or are their dots already powerful enough?
- Talah of Ravenholdt would like to see Paladins improve their ability to heal multiple targets by changing how Holy Shock works.
- Neerco of Thunderhorn would like a player to be able to click off DoTs they've placed on mobs before they've run their full course. This would be helpful if a DoT'ed mob needed to be CC'd.
- Moolik of Arathor would like Tier 4/5/6 armor to be tradable with the reward NPCs for all the class variation sets. For example, once a Druid picks the Restoration set, he can then turn it in for the Feral set if he changes specs.
- Umah of Frostwolf has many, many suggestions to make playing a druid more fun.
- And Kalpothyz of Al'Akir wants Priest buffs to have lower mana costs so he can get back into the Battlegrounds without losing half his mana bar to rebuffing.
Too much of an advantage, says Blizzard. Even though they haven't changed things on the PTRs yet, Drysc says that when DoTs are affected by resilience, Arena players will no longer be able to swap their gear once inside. Apparently the reasoning is that when opposing players see a Warlock/Shadow Priest combo, they real quick switch on their shadow resist gear, and so casters are hoping for a nerf to gear swapping to come at the same time the DoT resilience shows up (which is what Drysc promises).
It's an interesting little QQ session, and like all good PvP worries, it means a whole lot to the people who are affected by it, and not much to anyone else. Still, nerfing gear swapping seems like a big change to make just to deal with folks who are trying to duck shadow damage in 2v2 Arenas. But it seems like, as soon as 2.2, Blizzard might be telling arena players to pick a set and stick to it.
She says, insightfully, that the reason for this is that Warlocks have just tons of annoying abilities. Fear is probably foremost among them-- with a skilled Warlock, your character spends half the fight out of your control. Soul Link and Felguards are just plain evil (it's like having a Warrior tank for you), and with all those DoTs, a lock is hellfire on wheels (and ten locks in WSG are even worse). Not to mention that since locks love to load up on Stamina, they're tough to kill, too.
It's just MW's timing that I don't agree with-- people have hated Warlocks for a long time now, and I'd say in general that so many classes have been buffed lately that people have moved on. Personally, Hunters are the class that drives me nuts in PvP now-- they still have that very exploitable dead zone, but in a big melee, one Hunter can lay down DoTs and CC and turn the tide of battle. Plus, those NE Hunters in Tier armor just look so smug! A Warlock is still trouble, but my shadow Priest can fear and DoT, too, and no one's bothered by him. It's Hunters that really bug me.
But the main downside to using DoTs as a damage source is that they're incapable of critting. So what in the world do DoTs have to do with resilience? Eyonix explains it for us:
As it currently stands, each new tier of equipment adds to the amount of damage DoT abilities have, yet that damage is not mitigated through combat ratings found on typical equipment. This change will help ensure that DoT effects do not scale too well compared to other damage mechanics. The amount of damage reduced will be equal to the critical chance reduction effect that resilience grants.
If you're as confused as I was about why this was being done, not to mention how it was going to work, read on.
First, a change is planned to be implemented to prevent you from changing gear (besides what's normally swappable during combat, i.e. things that occupy the main hand, off hand, and ranged slots) during an Arena battle:
We do plan to disallow gear swapping (other than items you can normally change while in combat) once an arena battle has begun.
Ands secondly, something that has previously been the subject of much debate, with proponents on both sides of the fence. I think it's safe to say that it's the bigger of the two changes: DoTs will be affected by resilience. When asked "How about making DoTs affected by resilience sometime in the near future," Kalgan replied:
That's going to happen too.
A DoT can't crit, and therefore it doesn't care about resilience. So what, you ask? Well, this means that as PvP gear improves, and gains more resilience, it protects more against all kinds of damage except DoTs. Which means that, relative to other types of damage, DoTs get buffed as PvP gear improves. Dahis of Shadow Gaming calls this "classist item scaling," and presents as plausible solutions "Either nerf DoT base damage and allow crits, or rework resilience with some flat damage reduction component, or just add some aspect that pertains directly to DoTs." And it looks like Blizzard is listening to the growing concern; in a discussion on resilience, Drysc said "We're looking into it."
So what do you think? Does the DoTs/resilience situation need to be addressed in some way, or is it good as is? For more in-depth analysis, do read the article over at Shadow Gaming, which has several good points.