Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why Did Nobody Tell Me Sooner?!

First Booty Bay, now Timbermaw Hold. This game is nothing like it used to be.

Friday, April 24, 2009

3 Days, 2 Hotfixes - No More Team Replenishment in Arena's

New Developments, Yay

Hot on the heels of the change to Exorcism, Replenishment is also getting the smack-down in the Arena.

We are making a hotfix (any minute now probably) so that Replenishment in arenas will only affect the character and not the whole team. It will continue to function as it does currently outside of arenas.

We feel Replenishment is balanced for larger groups, but just makes too much of a difference on smaller arena teams. Making the rules work differently in PvP and PvE isn’t a solution we like to use often, but in this case we think it fixes the issue cleanly, while still making the talents in question useful to the character who takes them. Alternatives, such as nerfing the amount returned by Replenishment in arena or making it not function at all, seem like more punitive choices from which we want to stay away.


I personally subscribe to Merlots PoV - if a classes unique raid-wide utility can ever become that broken for a subset of the game it probably shouldn't have been created in the first place. Especially as it makes caster classes more and more homogenised with regards to mana regen.

So, why am I posting this? Well, simple really, it screws monumentally with Ret+Healer Arena PvP. With Exorcism gone Ret PvP with a healer in 2's is predicated on high-pressure DPS and enough spike damage to kill someone if they get low, coupled with the knowledge that with replenishment they have a good chance of running the opposing team's healer OOM before their own healer runs out. Much as a warrior with MS relies on this reduced healing debuff to make the opposition healer run OOM before his healer does. With this sort of strategy Ret/Disc has been doing okay in 2v2 so far, though it is shit upon from a great height by Rogue/Priest. But no, we can't have that, so away goes Replenishment.

Of course Paladin's aren't the only class to be harmed by this, any comp which was running Replen+Healer will also be adversely effected against any comp which does rely on it (e.g. Rogue/Priest, DK/Holy, Warrior/Druid etc.). But here the other point comes to the fore: the class providing Replenishment will still benefit from it themselves. Rets differ from these other classes (Frost Mages, Surv. Hunter, Shadow Priests) in one significant way however: we have a really, really tiny mana pool. With no int on our PvP or PvE gear our net benefit from Replenishment is tiny (<15 mana per sec) and will not get higher as better gear comes our way.

To put that into perspective, it would take 15 seconds to regen enough mana for a single Judgement (which has a 5% base mana cost). If Replenishment alone was a talent no Ret PvP paladin would ever take it, other classes would at least consider it.

The net effect is to make Ret much less desirable as the sole DPS in a 2-man team, and potentially strikes a death-blow to the 3v3 Ret+2healer team.

Long-term: Ret PvP and Mana

Ret's got mana problems. We all know it, though few people want to stick their head above the parapet and say it. Our PvE issues have been negated to a large extent by all of massively buffing JotW, relying on JoW and popping Divine Plea, but on very specific encounters fudges had to be put into place to ensure that Ret could still function. Specific exemptions will as always highlight flawed design. PvP problems are now accentuated however by specific changes from the 3.0.9 state of play (within thich Ret was hardly overpowered):

  • No more Spiritual Attunement - no more Rage-like mana regen in PvP.
  • Divine Plea is once again dispellable.
  • Judgement hits for much less, increasing the chance of a full absorb which regens zero mana.

  • This sets up non-Shadow Priests to be a hard counter to Ret, and Shaman/warlock/hunters to be soft-counters based around mana regen alone. Reduce a Paladin down to <5% mana in whatever way you can (Mana burn/require him to heal etc.) and you will neuter their offensive and defensive potential, especially if you have an offensive dispeller.

    Ghostcrawler, in his 'oh hai, we nerfed Exorcism' post, stated that he wanted ideas on revamping Ret's combat system. Well, here's my idea: Remove mana from Ret completely. It's the reason why we can front-load damage and Warriors can't, and the reason why we are unable to do anything at zero mana for extended periods of time and all other classes are. Make Paladin offensive abilities totally cool-down controlled (with inter-dependant cooldowns were appropriate, i.e. CS prevents DS for 3 seconds and visa versa), Vengeance stack to 5 times and defensive/utility abilities consume one buff from the stack and more. Totally divorce the Ret Paladin from his mana bar and let him start juggling cooldowns and using a full range of abilities rather than the neutered sub-set available to this particular hybrid.

    The class is ripe for a re-design and there are a huge number of idea's floating around, but half way into an expansion we won't get it. The idea's I've read so far amount to either one-button spamming or passive reactive effects where ignoring the Ret is the best option in PvP. I'm not sure that either suits me and I think it's time for radical thinking rather than tinkering around the edges to make a combination of CS and DS less bursty.

    Sorry for the rambling nature of this post, written in a hurry.

    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.


    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.

    Monday, April 06, 2009

    Birthday Today!

    I hate Birthdays.

    Saturday, April 04, 2009

    Name That Paladin!

    I've just transferred my original Paladin off his server and onto Steamwheedle-EU. Unfortunately his old name (Janus) is taken, so I'm looking for a few ideas. The character is a Paladin (obviously), currently Miner/Blacksmith but I may change him to a Miner/Jewelcrafter and has been around since the EU release (hence grey hair). He should be running Prot/Holy or Prot/Ret at lvl70+.

    My character names are typically taken from Greek or Roman Mythology, but I'm certainly not adverse to taking something different so long as it's cool and fits the character.

    Any ideas are very welcome...

    Except his. Shut it Karpit.

    See what I have to work with?


    No! And stop sucking up, BRK doesn't even read this blog.

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    Simply. Awesome.

    That's what I said to myself when I watched Blizzard's Diablo III and Starcraft 2 April Fools Jokes. They have a history of doing a great job, but IMO they have really pushed the boat out with these two offerings:

    1) Diablo 3's new Character Class: The Archivist.

    2) Starcraft 2's new Terran uber-vehicle: Terra-tron.

    Watch the two associated shorts. As I said, awesome.

    Kudos Blizz. I wasn't impressed with 'P1mp My Mount', but the other two more than make up for it.

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