Monday, February 28, 2011

Patch 4.1 - Maybe there really is something here

I wasn't going to say anything about the 4.1 changes. I thought they're too far off to be of much value since everything will have changed once they go live anyway (especially with the current rates of fixes). But then I changed my mind. There is something to be said about patch notes, even if they don't go live. They still show something about the way Blizzard thinks and helps us navigate and understand the course Blizzard has set for our class. Eventhough a particular change might never go live, or goes live looking very differently, we still get an idea about what Blizzard thinks is a viable solution for us. Following the changes to these solutions will also tell us more about what Blizzard thinks works and what doesn't.
This won't just be about priests, since there was loads of interesting news in the 4.1 patch notes. And as I usually do it, I'll only pick out the interesting notes. Source.

But let's start with the most interesting changes first anyway - the priest ones;

Divine Aegis duration has been increased to 15 seconds, up from 12.
Power Word: Shield duration has been reduced to 15 seconds, down from 30.

We know Blizzard aren't happy with how Shields turned out to be used. They want them to be good, but not too good. They don't want us to start spamming it again. Renew doesn't have this issue because the hps of one Renew is pretty low in comparison to the Shield. The "problem" with Shields are that they have so many pros, and few cons. The only thing holding shields back at the moment is the Weakened Soul debuff, which we can lower on target with Heal/GH/BH. Blizzard tried to slow us down further by increasing the mana cost on the spell, but like I mentioned before this is only delaying the inevitable spamming that will come when we get better gear (and mana becomes less and less of an issue). Loads of solutions were posted on forums around the internet, and two of my favorites were lowering the cooldown of the Shield and making the shield something of a cooldown in itself (like a small Lay on Hands). The second solution is so-so, because it would in essence mean to give discipline priests another damage mitigation cooldown, and I know not everyone would like that. The first idea, the one Blizzard are proposing to use in the Patch Notes, is actually a great one. It doesn't actually nerf the Shield in any way, it only forces us to plan our usage more carefully. Personally I think this is the way all spells should be balanced. Make them as good as you want, but make the choice as to when to properly use them a tough one. With a lowered uptime we can't just throw out Shields, because a Shield not soaked is completely wasted.

The buff to DA is probably in some part to counter the "nerf" to the Shields, but also because DA quite honestly deserves a little more love. It will make crit a slightly better stat for disc priests, since one of the problems right now was that DA wasn't up very long and that made it an unreliable source to use for healing (here I am, writing in past tense). Only time can tell how much difference those 15 vs 3 seconds will do in the end, but honestly I feel like these are good changes.

Dispel Magic can only be used on the casting priest as a baseline effect.
Absolution (new passive) enables priests (Discipline and Holy, my note) to use Dispel Magic on up to 2 harmful effects on friendly targets.

The first line had loads of priests worried. Very worried. But Blizzard knows that removing dispel magic from all priests would just be utterly silly. They made it so that all healers had a proper dispel in Cataclysm for a reason. What they want to do here is make sure that spriests can't use dispel magic. The only reason I can see for this, rather huge, change is of course - pvp. Meeting shadow priests in pvp was probably too much of a problem, seeing as they have relatively good defensive capabilities while also being an offensive class. This is an issue we saw with all paladin specs back in Wrath and something Blizzard constantly have to combat. In pve this won't make a big difference, since the only time spriests (at least those I raid with) use dispel is to dispel something on themselves.

Holy Word: Sanctuary has a new spell effect.

Loads of ground aoe-effects are being overhauled, and I'm very happy about this. We already had loads of trouble distinguishing bad stuff on the floor from the good stuff, and sometimes you couldn't even see the bad stuff at all. That's just poor game design and I am glad Blizzard are doing something about it.


Word of Glory now has a 20-second cooldown.
Walk in the Light (passive) removes the cooldown of Word of Glory.

Similar to removing dispellability from spriests, Blizzard are removing some of the self-healability from paladins, except holydins who are the ones that rightfully should be able to double-spam WoG. Unlike the change to spriests, this will be more noticed by especially protadins in raids and heroics. I did feel like protadins had very high survivability by being able to selfheal loads. It made me smile when playing my protadin, and it made me angry when I played my warrior/druid who basically lack this kind of skill. Dks have Death Strike, which is a nice heal, but you have to line up your runes pretty neatly to be able to pull off two Death Strikes after one another like you could do with WoG. Does this make Eternal Glory less worth the points for Retri/prot? For retri perhaps, if they even take it today (I have no idea about retri tbh) but for prot I still think it is a good talent. It's not like they removed WoG all together for Prot, they just made it so we can't use Eternal Glory to pop two WoG after another.

Divine Guardian cooldown is now 3 minutes, up from 2.

One thing I've really noted when playing my protadin is the amount of cooldowns. I'm not sure if they're really that many more than other classes, but it sure feels like I have a cooldown for every fight, usually even two. There is Divine Protection and Guardian of Kings and also Divine Guardian. I'm not entirely sure of all you other tanks are aware of what Divine Guardian does, because if you did you'd complain more about not having anything even remotely like it yourself. Divine Guardian, which reduces damage taken on the entire raid (any size party group) by 20% for 6 seconds is a re-he-heally good cooldown. The amount of damage you can mitigate when using this cooldown the right way makes you drool. Divine Guardian laughs in the face of Power Word: Barrier. (And believe it or not, our protadin had not specced this until I pointed out to him that it was awesome). Ok, I am exaggerating. But considering that the other tanks don't have anything like it, DG is quite the choice-breaker. It makes a whole lot of difference, bringing a protadin to a tough raid. So although it nerfs us all, I am glad that they are increasing the cooldown on this skill. I would also like it if they gave all tanks a raid wide cooldown, it doesn't have to be about mitigating damage, it could be something like mana regen, health regen, haste, crit...


Fire Nova has been redesigned and decoupled from shaman Fire totems. Instead, it now pulses that same area-of-effect from each target that is afflicted by the shaman's own Flame Shock debuff. It now damages all enemies except the target hit by Flame Shock. The ability's cooldown has been reduced from 4 seconds, down from 10.

Fire Nova is nothing like it used to be. The only spell that has changed as much, or more, is Judgement. Fire Nova used to be a crap as totem that you dropped and that did one (one!) pulse after a couple of seconds. I even think it had a cooldown. That was basically all the aoe shamans had. It was a sad, sad time. Then Blizzard revamped it to the way it works today, and it seems they're still not happy about it. I think it works ok the way it is (which could be because I am still thinking about how horrible it used to be), but I am intruiged by the changes. It will make shaman aoe work alot like Mind Sear (priests) where damage radiates out from the target which means you have to plan where you put those Flame Shocks a little. It will make shaman aoe a little less vulnerable to moving targets, because it really annoys me when I have to move my little totem forest along with me because the boss decides to run all over the place.

Magma Totem now lasts for 60 seconds, up from 21.

Like I mentioned, Blizzard seem to finally have realized that something that is stationary isn't that op, so to make Magma Totem a little less bad they made it last a long time. Not sure if that really makes much of a difference, but a buff is a buff.

Earthquake is no longer a channeled spell. It now has a 2-second cast time, lasts for 10 seconds, and has a 10-second cooldown. Its damage has been reduced by 40% from its channeled version.

Does this mean you can have multiple Earthquakes up at the same time? If so, I will see this as a rather big buff to this spell. It's a buff either way though, because not having to challenge it means you can deal other damage while Earthquake is up, and that will definitely compensate for the 40% damage reduce.

Improved Fire Nova has been redesigned and replaced by a talent called Seasoned Winds. When an enemy spell cast is successfully prevented with Wind Shear or Grounding Totem, the shaman gains magical resistance (in an amount equal to what a protection totem/aura would grant, stacking with such buffs) to the spell school(s) of the interrupted spell (except for Holy spells), lasting 10 seconds.

Smells pvp.


Charge and Intercept no longer have diminishing returns on their stun effects.

Yes, yes, yes. It was really annoying that my 2 sec charge stun made my Concussion Blow and Shockwave last shorter duration (believe it or not). Overall however I don't think this will make a big difference for pve warriors, but it is a small buff to pvp warriors.


Zul'Aman has returned as a level-85 5-player Heroic dungeon featuring a revamp of the original dungeon and improved loot!
Zul'Gurub has returned as a level-85 5-player Heroic dungeon featuring all-new encounters, achievements, and improved loot!

Zul'Gurub was, together with MC, part of my first raiding experience. My brother was part of a guild that actually managed to down Hakkar, I only ever got to do Venoxxis and some tries on Arlokk (suddenly panthers, thousands of them). Being able to experience it again, albeit in a rather changed form, is something I'm really looking forward too.
Zul'Aman was the first really challenging raid I did. I had one Karazhan of course, but none of the bosses there were especially tough. Looking back at it, Karazhan really was a great beginners raid with a little bit of everything. Zul'Aman on the other hand had challenging, fun and really difficult fights. The only part of ZA I didn't like, were those blasted sentries. We just never became very good at handling them, and they casued many, many wipes for us. I think one reason I really like ZA is that it was the first raid where I really felt like a good healer, where I really tried to do my best and learn something new about my way of healing in each fight. Malacrass is still the toughest boss I have ever fought. I am really glad they're re-implementing ZA to the game, but I would seriously have loved it if they just would have tuned it for 85. I wouldn't mind doing all those fights all over again, exactly the way they were because most of them (of not all) were really fun. But, I am happy with a 5 man dungeon as well, if it's just half the fun the raid was I will love it.


All non-damaging interrupts off the global cooldown will now always hit the target. This includes Pummel, Shield Bash, Kick, Mind Freeze, Rebuke, Skull Bash, Counterspell, Wind Shear, Solar Beam, Silencing Shot, and related player pet abilities.

No more having to carry around a certain hit-gear for those bosses where you knew you had to do some heavy interrupting (mostly Nefarian). I wasn't affected by it of course, as a priest I am pretty much without any interrupts, but I know this was something of an issue for our dpsers, where some even regemmed/specced/geared completely just to have enough hit when we did some tougher encounters. But maybe that doesn't have to a bad thing? I remember when we had to carry around certain resistance gears, back in Wrath it only frost resistance for Sindragosa but back in Vanilla and even BC you had to have almost full gear sets of some sort of resistance type to manage some bosses. Was this a bad thing? I'm not so sure, but maybe that is a subject for another post ^^.

1 comment:

  1. Its nice to get ZG back. Don't get me wrong. But are there no new dungeons, only retooled ones for in our future? Recycling. Bah.

    As for Priest changes. We still have the PTR and several yankings on spells in our future. They are terribad at figuring out how most healers will react to changes in game. I expect several hot fix 'ooops' in our future... again.

    Nice post!