Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cha-Cha-Changes: Exorcism Not Usable on Players in 3.1.1

No-one could have predicted this. Ghostcrawler, Just Now:

Exorcism can no longer be used on Players

We made a change in the 3.1.1 patch to prevent Exorcism from being used on players. We didn’t announce this change ahead of time because we were trying to get the tooltip changed at the same time to reduce confusion. We still plan on getting the tooltip updated ASAP. Exorcism’s use in PvE has not changed at this time.

Going with a “not on players” solution is not ideal and we will be re-designing how the ability works in a future patch (the plan is sooner rather than later). We don’t like for PvE and PvP mechanics to work differently when we can avoid it. We also don’t like for a major damaging ability to be excluded from the PvP game. However, we thought this had become a balance issue serious enough to address at this time.

We shifted around paladin damage for 3.1 trying to increase sustained damage while reducing burst damage. Unfortunately, the Exorcism change did the opposite. Instead of stealing a GCD from a paladin, it actually gave them an extra one. A Retribution paladin could use Exorcism to cause damage while closing to melee and then be ready to go with their melee damage attacks. (Exorcism of course is not limited to Ret paladins either.) We changed the way paladins do damage for Lich King, so while it is unfortunate (and we accept full blame), it also isn’t too surprising that it is taking some effort to get their damage in the right place.

In the same patch where we remove the “not on players” limitation for Exorcism, we are going to change the way paladins do damage so that their normal combat moves have more depth to them instead of just using abilities every time they finish their cooldown. This should make causing damage as a paladin more interesting and also less bursty. While we have some ideas on how to accomplish that, if you have suggestions or your own ideas about how this could work, this would be a good time to share them. (As examples of abilities you don’t just use whenever their cooldown has finished, you might look at Conflagrate, Brain Freeze, Rip, Overpower or Arcane Blast.) We do request that you don’t fill the forums with posts of limited content or insight about how you don’t like to be nerfed. Nobody does.

It is always a judgment call about when a fix (a buff or a nerf) can’t wait. Some things we can’t change easily in hotfixes or small patches, and some things we consider too risky for technical reasons or for their potential effects on the game.

(Source)


For those counting, Exorcism remained in 3.1 deployed form for 1 week.

The forum outcry demanded it and so shall it be, though even the most optimistic of us could see it coming a mile off. Ironically Paladins will still have higher burst (which I'll arbitrarily define as damage within the space of a HoJ) in 3.1 than 3.0.9 even after this nerf, and Ret will still tear poor players a new one. As for the rest, we'll see just what happens. Most obvious changes are to fill the Paladin GCD-space with low-damage, low-cost spammable abilities, changing Exorcism to be Lava-burst like and make Paladin abilities require set rotations for maximum damage (i.e. one ability leaves a debuff which then must be used in x seconds etc.). Or... the spectre of Dual-wield.

Spare a thought for Holy aswell. Of all healing specs the Holy Paladin has by far the fewest offensive potential in PvP, at a time when even abilities like Holy Fire see action in top-rated PvP. Their healing abilities remain strong (though not nearly as strong as the 3.0 promised land) and it will be very tough for them to assert themselves in the new Arena Season as we move forward.

In this quest Blizzard will be hampered by the paladin resource system (Mana is a poor choice when you want to prevent front-loading damage), and more worryingly from a PvP perspective a Ret Paladin without front-loaded damage is a poor quality Arms Warrior. This is going to take time and considerable effort, unless they take two-steps back in the meta-game and say "Ret... not for PvP".


ADDED: There are reports of Exorcism not working against specific NPC's (i.e. Chillmaw). This is probably a bug, but well worth checking against raid bosses over the next few days just to be sure that it doesn't extend past this one example.

5 comments:

Will Armstrong 22/04/2009 01:50  

It seems like every time Blizzard finally starts to make some headway, they go and botch things up. Even though I do not PVP more than 2 or 3 hours a week, I still find this change insulting. Especially with the change to Hand of Reckoning, meaning paladins no longer have a baseline ranged attack again.

I think the inclusion of an ability that magically doesn't work in PVP 'just because' reeks of poor planning and a failing concept of balance.

They need to add a camel mount to the game so all of these straws they add can break it's back.

Dallanna 22/04/2009 03:27  

Ever consider that it's more often than not, Holy's fault that Ret gets hurt?

I've no sympathy for them.

Isa 22/04/2009 15:24  

"We didn’t announce this change ahead of time because we were trying to get the tooltip changed at the same time to reduce confusion."

Right. Because it's less confusing to have an ability suddenly change with no warning.

"However, we thought this had become a balance issue serious enough to address at this time."

Funny how paladin balance issues always have to be addressed immediately (is 1 week a new record in crushing paladin optimism?), while other classes can run around unbalanced for weeks or months.

"We shifted around paladin damage for 3.1 trying to increase sustained damage while reducing burst damage."

Yeah, by changing Seal of the Martyr, which is used all the time in PvP...oh wait.

"Unfortunately, the Exorcism change did the opposite. Instead of stealing a GCD from a paladin, it actually gave them an extra one."

And no one at Blizzard saw this coming? Everyone else saw it! I figured they had their reasons, but welp, I guess not.

"...it also isn’t too surprising that it is taking some effort to get their damage in the right place."

Actually, I'm still kind of surprised although I probably shouldn't be. What exactly was the point in changing the mechanics as much as they've been so far? 3.0 changed things a lot, 3.1 changed things again; every time the changes end up being unacceptable, so what exactly have they been trying to accomplish? It feels like they're throwing things at a dart board and seeing if they stick.

"...we are going to change the way paladins do damage so that their normal combat moves have more depth to them..."

Well admittedly, this would be cool. But why has it taken so long for this to occur to them? And if it has occurred to them and they just can't figure it out, should I have any hope whatsoever that this is going to work?

"...if you have suggestions or your own ideas about how this could work, this would be a good time to share them."

And this feels like they've run out of things to try from their dart board, so they need players to do their job.

"We do request that you don’t fill the forums with posts of limited content or insight about how you don’t like to be nerfed."

Yeah, that would be convenient for them. Are they accepting full blame or not? Because part of that would be taking their well deserved ripping over this, because anyone could and did see this coming. I'm respecting that request by frothing madly here in Zebra's personal blog comments instead, and I apologize for that, but I'm just tired of this. I don't even PvP, but this crap just makes me feel like the paladin devs absolutely don't think about what they are doing at all.

Anonymous 22/04/2009 20:30  

GC's comments are similar to what they said about hunters before the massive hunter nerf/overhaul, which finally resulted in what SV hunters have in LnL now. To be optimal, you have to pray for a proc and be nimble enough to respond to it.

Just imagine tanking with that. Proc fails to happen, or you miss it, and the raid wipes. Yeah, that's a lot of fun.

Having your core ability tied to a RNG based proc or combo stack is not something I want when tanking.

I guess I just don't have a lot of faith in GC to bring forth positive changes when they announce rebalancing in vague terms like this. I'm also annoyed that we are getting a rebalance as a result of Blizz yet again screwing up PVP balance by their changes.

one talent broken --> talent change --> PVP tears -- > PVE-nerf/class-rebalance

that's a pattern we've seen a lot, and it's annoying.

Barrista 22/04/2009 21:12  

"...we are going to change the way paladins do damage so that their normal combat moves have more depth to them..." My response to this is more like "if I wanted to roll a rogue, I would have rolled a rogue." I think some pallys learn how to play well and some don't. It's not always a face roll.

If anything, I can see myself deserting my pally and leveling my shammy... or maybe just deserting the game altogether. This is getting old.

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