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Posts with tag scaling

What will raiding be like in Warlords?

When discussing how the changes coming in Warlords of Draenor will affect raiding, we're of course looking at an incomplete picture. We don't know what new spells and abilities might come, we just know to an extent what won't be there - abilities like Skull Banner will be gone, as well many CC abilities, and healing will be greatly changed - casting on the move will also see a significant decrease. What we therefore need to consider is that raiding itself will have to change to embody these changing philosophies. It would be a disaster to alter class abilities and leave raids designed around the same high damage, high mobility kit we see in modern raiding.

But what will raid design entail? Well, I'm not a raid designer. If I was, I'd be super busy designing some raids. What I am is a guy who raids a lot, so I can give you my perspective as a dude who has seen every fight in the game at this point. What are we in for in Warlords, based on what Blizzard has said is changing, and what they intend to try and do?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Lichborne: The pitfalls of class balance arguments

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

By the time this column is published, it will be official. Greg Tiberus Street, the man formerly known as Ghostcrawler, will no longer be Lead Systems Designer for World of Warcraft. For many years now, even if his job encompassed so much more, he was pretty much the target for class-based arguments. The most passionate, angry arguments for class changes were directed at him. In his final days as Ghostcrawler, I noticed he did a lot of tweeting about some of the aspects of his job and how the dev team saw class feedback from the community.

With that in mind, I want to take a look at the forms of class feedback and some terms that come up again and again as discussed by Ghostcrawler, not just as a tribute to Ghostcrawler, but as a way to hone our toolkit for when the Warlords of Draenor beta test drops and it's time for us all to give our feedback on the future of the death knight class.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

Community Blog Topic Results: Scaling characters down to low-level content

Our latest Community Blog Topic is about whether or not WoW should offer the scaling of characters to low-level content.

mrfusticle explains the many negative reactions to this and other features.
Blizz: Hey, we're bringing out strawberry ice cream!
Player1: Whaa! I hate strawberry ice cream.. You're gonna waste time making that and not the vanilla I like?!? screw you!
Player2: Whaa! You better not get rid of chocolate ice cream!.. I like chocolate ice cream! Man, I'll be so furious!
Player3: Whaa! You don't even know how to make strawberry ice cream! This game is dying! I'm going to Frozen-yoghurt-star.. At least you get tough ice cream that gives you brain freeze!!!eleven!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Community Blog Topic: Should characters be scaled to low-level content?

This week's Community Blog Topic asks, "Should characters be scaled to low-level content -- or any content lower than max level?"

Olivia Grace recently reported on a possible feature allegedly stumbled upon, shown in the video above. The player somehow accidentally ported into Stratholme as a max level and his gear and health were scaled down to match the instance level. If this is not a hoax, it looks like there is some functionality imbedded into the system to allow for scaling characters down to dungeon levels. This would presumably allow players to play with their leveling friends and still allow the lower level players to get experience.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Ghostcrawler: A discussion of gear scaling

It's been a common thing lately to hear "my spec doesn't scale well" as an excuse for poor DPS. People tend to toss the term around a lot without really knowing what it means, or at least what it means in the context of the WoW design team. A a very basic level, scaling is the capability for spells and abilities to grow stronger as your gear (item level) increases. A spell that doesn't scale well is a spell that doesn't get as strong as it should as your gear increases.

This is where Ghostcrawler comes in today via a forum post. He talks about the history of scaling (how some abilities used to only do flat damage and not scale with attack power, and thus gear), and how the complex (but really rather simple) interaction in scaling happens between primary and secondary stats today.

However, despite the discussion being about gear scaling, my favorite line from Ghostcrawler's thoughts has to be this:

Encounter mechanics can have a much bigger impact on DPS than 5-10%.

Keep that in mind when reading and talking about his post, which is in full after the break.

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Filed under: News items

The great gear explosion

Gear is fairly easy to get at this point in the expansion life cycle of Wrath. That's not a flaw. That's actually how things should be: there shouldn't be too many artificial limitations keeping you from jumping into the newest content and getting a chance to at least see, if not down it. With the rise of 10 and 25 man versions of every raid and heroic modes, however, we are looking at something fairly unique to this expansion, a somewhat drastic power curve to gear scaling.

This isn't a new idea, and it's not one Blizzard themselves haven't commented on. It's one thing to be aware of it in a general way, however, and another to sit back and look at it. That's a comparison of itemization on select 2H weapons from the first crafted epic (equivalent to a Naxx 10 drop) up to hard mode Ulduar 25, which puts it squarely in the middle of the current expansion cycle. What you're looking at is a steady gain that leads to a nearly 60 DPS increase between the starting weapon (Titansteel Destroyer) and the last one compared (Voldrethar).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm

Moonkin may receive a buff soon

Balance druid performance has been noticeably lagging in raids. While moonkin have long had a problem being too easily +haste-capped with Wrath, there's another issue on the not-too-distant horizon in the form of the "lunar +crit cap." Essentially, when a lunar eclipse procs and the player turns to the Starfire portion of the rotation, the combination of raid buffs, gear, and procs make Starfire crits all but inevitable. While this may sound like a welcome DPS increase, it does have the unhappy result of the spec seeing increasingly less benefit from the +haste and +crit that exists in abundance on Icecrown raid gear.

Blizzard has known about this for a while, but the issue with Nature's Grace and the soft +haste cap isn't easily fixable without impacting both Restoration and Starfire (where the NG proc is still useful), and the +crit cap is the effect of unintended stat inflation in Wrath. Enter Zarhym on Wednesday to announce news of a possible change to the Earth and Moon talent in a future mini-patch, granting 2/4/6% spell damage to the moonkin, up from 1/2/3%. While this isn't set in stone (and Balance players are already aware that an overhaul to the Nature's Grace issue probably won't happen until the Cataclysm content patch at the earliest), it's been greeted as a decent short-term fix. It's also a means of improving the scaling of what remains the moonkin's best stat (+spellpower).

Zarhym did warn that the change may not go through in this form, and we're also waiting for news on when this mini-patch will hit. Stay tuned for future announcements.

Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Classes, Buffs

Totem Talk: On unique gearing and gear consolidation


Totem Talk is the column for shamans. Matthew Rossi is a vampire robot from beyond the stars who came to Earth to learn the true meaning of love and to write columns about shamans. Seriously, it was in my alien creator's first lines of code when they programmed me. "Drink human blood, write shaman column." The love thing was somewhere around the second packet of directives.

Last week on Totem Talk, we jumped our cherried out Dodge Charger out of a warehouse before it exploded and then complained that we were too old for this kind of thing to our reckless younger partner. We're supposed to retire in a few days, we informed him. There may also have been some discussion about shaman itemization in there. I'll have to check the credits later to make sure.

The main issues with shaman itemization are more complex than can be easily summarized: many commenters correctly pointed out, for instance, that I was giving short shrift to enhancement's constant struggle to stay both hit and expertise capped (in fact, even calling them caps instead of targets shows that I'm not going into full detail) since the changes to the spec implemented with Wrath of the Lich King. Basically, one of the issues here is the very hybridization of the class: since now enhancement has become a spec that uses both spell damage and melee strikes, it has to hew to both spell hit rating levels (which are generally higher than melee targets) and stats like expertise, which is only useful for melee.

Shamans are interesting in that they are a hybrid class more in their playstyles than in terms of roles: like priests and warriors, shamans are only two of the three possible roles, being either healers or DPS. We can of course quibble about the nature of DPS, and if 'ranged DPS' and 'melee DPS' are distinct enough roles to be divided in focus. I personally believe they are, based on watching my guild struggle to recruit ranged and being thick on the ground with melee. But as a result of having two damage specs and one healing spec, shamans have a lot of cross-hybridization conflict built into their itemization.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Luck Of The Drop


It's been a remarkably grueling month for me, so I can't say I'll be sorry to see April finally end. As much fun as the new content is, a lot of personal issues (including a sick rabbit,vet trips and the like on the top as a kind of panic frosting to everything else) have made it hard to squeeze in the time to do anything but raid nowadays. I fell asleep trying to do the Argent Tournament dailies. I picked up the saddest ring ever last night (let the search for a sadder ring commence) and got to thinking about the peculiar way warriors have to rely on loot luck. (Yes, I'm aware all classes have to rely on luck for drops.) Since frankly I don't want to write the often threatened nerd rage post over fury (and I'm starting to be discontented by arms' performance, as improved as it is) I thought talking about gear less from a 'here are the stats of every drop you want in Ulduar' way could be interesting.

We all know eventually I'll be doing that, too. But since the instance still hasn't revealed all of its goodies, Ulduar loot discussions are always an exercise in finding out you missed something. It seems worth it to me to wait for more things to be discovered before tackling that job.

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Filed under: Warrior, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, The Burning Crusade, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King

Pets Scaling in Wrath: Hit percentage is in, resilience and xp bonuses are out

A while back, class designer Koraa told Warlocks that their pets would be getting their master's hit percentage. Today, he confirmed the same for Hunter pets. This should definitely be a godsend for raid level DPSers of both classes. Conventional wisdom is that reaching your personal hit cap is pretty much the single best way to increase your personal DPS total, and being able to do the same for pets should only provide a noticable increase to DPS, as well as keep any special buffs or debuffs said pets apply coming in with a minimum of interruption.

Unfortunately, something else Koraa said on the same post is a little less exciting -- resilience is nowhere on the table for being shared. They believe that they currently have the right amount of survivability for pets. In a group situation, you or your group should be healing the pet, and in Arena play, any time spent killing the pet provides a benefit in the form "crowd control" while the DPS is focus firing your pet.

Unfortunately, as the player of a level 70 Hunter and Warlock who have both seen extensive 2v2 Arena play, I'm not sure it's that simple.

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Filed under: Hunter, Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King, Battlegrounds, Arena

When the going gets tough

A few friends and I have begun leveling alts in the interests of having a few more 70's around for Wrath, and I got a comment on my Warrior after she dinged 29. "We'll need to get you some good blues," said a buddy, a 70-Paladin-turned-10-Shaman (in hindsight, probably cringing over said toon's Armory profile). "Warrior 30-40 is kinda tough."

It didn't mean much to me at the time, but I started thinking about it while contemplating the possibility of starting a Hordeside Hunter. A 1-10 Hunter without a pet is a fairly unpleasant (if mercifully quick) experience, but that one is pretty obvious while others seem less so. There's a strange alchemy of level, quest drops, scaling, gear, dungeons, and skills that seem to combine to make life tougher in certain level ranges.

A 2005 guide to classes' relative leveling speed insisted that classes alternately sped and slowed as they aged and that the difference could be tracked statistically, and while I'm not sure I trust all of their math (and the information's outdated anyway), you can't fault the amount of work that went into it. Moreover, as the commenters point out, someone who picks a Rogue as a main is not necessarily playing the game with the same goals in mind as someone who picked, say, a Priest. A less scientific, but more detailed, look at leveling speed and class difficulties was written by Breanni of WarcraftPets.com, and her experiences seem to gel a bit more with conventional wisdom, particularly with respect to the speed of Hunter and Warlock leveling. That being said, Druid 1-20 was pretty ugly, Shaman late-30's is a parade of mana inefficiency, and I'm not looking forward to getting another Hunter to 10.

Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Leveling, Classes, Alts

2.4.2 Hunter Changes: Aspect of the Viper, Growl, and the boar's last stand

So Growl has been having some problems since 2.4 went live. Pets refuse to cast it in the right order, which is wreaking havoc with Hunter aggro, especially on boar pets, who depend on a Charge/Growl combination to gain their fabled massive aggro. I myself have noticed that I have a lot harder time keeping aggro from my beloved boar Bonnie when I solo on my Hunter. So now on the PTR, we have some new lines in the latest update of the patch notes:

• Boar Charge: This ability will no longer make Growl cast immediately after it generates excessive threat.
• The pet ability Growl will no longer scale with pet Attack Power.

It should also be noted that Nethaera has said that Growl will now scale with Hunter AP instead of Pet AP, so there's no fear that it's become a non-scaling flat skill.

Now, this all sounds somewhat ominous, but what does it actually mean?

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Buffs

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Protection



The Care and Feeding of Warriors narrowly avoided a prophylactic joke in the title this week. Seriously, Matthew Rossi actually went to sleep chuckling about how funny it was going to be. Thankfully, when he woke up he realized he had been tired the night before and the joke was stupid, so he decided not to make it. Of course, by telling you this, he gets you to imagine all sorts of jokes that he may or may not have actually made.

We all know that changes are coming to just about every class in 2.3, and one of those changes is one that is intended to increase the solo play ability of dedicated healers. This is great news, of course, because it shows that the folks at Blizzard are interested in making sure that all specs have at least some viability for the aspects of the game that are necessary to prepare for instancing and raiding, namely farming for mats and questing for the repair money we all need without having to level another toon to 70 just to do our farming for us. That's why we checked the upcoming changes to warriors to see how they addressed solo prot warrior scaling.

Sound of a lot of crickets chirping.

Well, they nerfed mace spec. That'll help prot warriors solo and quest because... it will upset PvP warriors? No, that doesn't seem like it would help.

Devastate combines the effects of sunder armor? Well, I mean... good for tanking, but not really a tremendous boost to soloing unless the DPS of the attack is going up considerably. As it stands, devastate does half weapon damage, basically. It was briefly doing enough damage to be viable when it was changed to let it hit with both weapons if you were dual wielding (many prot warriors dual wield when trying to do damage because of the spec's increase to one handed weapon damage) but then that was changed back and they were left up soloing creek without a boat, as it were.

The tactical mastery change? Does nothing at all for or against prot warriors.

Disarm immunity gone? Well, Weapon Mastery is an arms talent. I fail to see how nerfing the top tier of an arms talent in any way helps protection warriors solo content or do daily quests. I guess I'm just blind.

Seriously, I am always for a class getting buffed as long as the buffs don't make them too powerful, and the changes to healing on gear don't strike me as overpowered. I'm not angered by the changes to healing spec soloability. I just want to know why warriors are the only class expected to so thoroughly eviscerate their own soloing capacity in order to tank.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

Patch 1.12: Scaling Rogue Skills

One major rogue complaint has long been the fact that several core rogue abilities did not scale as the rogues' gear and stats improved. Thus, the eviscerate damage you did right after hitting level 60 was the same eviscerate damage you would do when decked out in full epic gear. Come patch 1.12, this will be changing - albeit slightly. Drysc has posted some specific numbers explaining how the abilities rupture, garrote, and eviscerate will scale with attack power. The increase in power looks fairly minor to me, but some increase is better than none. For druids, Drysc has confirmed that the cat form abilities that mirror these rogue skills will also scale based on attack power, but there are no specific numbers on them.

Filed under: Druid, Rogue, Patches

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