Everything Changes

6 April 2010 § Leave a comment


This is it.

In an effort to prevent the spreading of panic that will inevitably follow the leaked information from the soon-to-start Beta, Blizzard has decided to start the release of Cataclysm information themselves and manage the process a bit better. Kudos to them, I think it’s much better to have a chance to discuss it with blues, rather than rant amongst ourselves (the fact I don’t go on the official forums because they scare me doesn’t change the fact that we get more responses from blues there than on the boards of whatever fansite you prefer – or blog). So far, we’ve had a post about Dispelling, and some general indications of what they want healing to become. So, while we wait for specific information about priests (tomorrow!), let me react to those two bits now.

Dispelling

Three major areas will change around dispelling (for the original post, see here). Two of them are relatively uncontroversial, so I’ll cover them first.

First, they are removing “pulsing dispelling”, that is, all those spells that basically allowed you to put a buff on the target which would periodically pulse and remove something (disease for priests, poisons for druids, both for cleansing totems). Each buff removed will require an active cast from a player, basically. Although this change will require more work from our part, I can see the logic of the change: they don’t want to have people “fire and forget” dispels, although I guess this is more of an issue in arenas – in PvE, most bosses will fire the same ability again when the pulsing buff has gone already, so you need to reapply it anyway (in most cases, at least).

The second change (albeit this is something they have not finalised yet), is that they are moving towards unifying all dispelling spells of a class into a single one, similar to the current paladin Cleanse or shaman Cleanse Spirit. More space on my bars! This may make macroing some abilities a bit more complicated, but probably not even that much, given mouseover target macros are very easy to make these days.

The big change, however, is that each healer class gets three dispels, out of the possible five: offensive magic (= buffs on foes), defensive magic (debuffs on friends), poison, disease, curse. To be more precise, all healers get defensive magic, and two more. In effect, Resto druids gain defensive magic (and keep poisons and curses, their current ones) while Shamans lose cleansing totems and cure toxins in exchange for defensive magic (again, as a resto talent). If I were a cynic, I would say that so far, nothing new: druids are buffed and shamans are nerfed, as is the norm. The other two healing classes remain essentially as they are: priests have the two magics and disease, paladins have disease, poisons and defensive magic.

The big losers in this are the dps specs of these classes: SPriests will not abolish disease in form anymore, dps shamans lose their cleansing totems, and paladin tanks and rets cannot dispel magic anymore. The key message is that they want to move dispelling firmly in the provision of healers. No more yelling at the mages or the boomkins in Archimonde because they are not decursing fast enough. No more asking your Enhancement Shaman to drop Cleansing Totem in Pit of Saron to take care of Blight in the famous pre-tunnel packs. Except that it seems like dps (and tanks) will still have some dispelling abilities: the blue post mentions non-healing paladins losing magic, but that suggests they keep diseases and poisons, somehow; mages can still remove curses, as can boomkins and ferals (but maybe not in form?).

So, how do I feel about this? Mixed feelings I guess. Nothing much will change in 25-man: the assumption will still be that you can dispell all debuffs, because six healers will grant you that unless you take people of 1-2 classes only (and even then, with some difficulty you can get away with it). For 10-man, I guess the developers can now be sure that you will be able to dispel defensively, but nothing else – before, nothing was sure. So this will make it easier to design encounters, and will save us from the “oh no, we have no decurser, cannot do Yogg-Saron” syndrome.

All the same, this is increasing the activity load on healers: we cannot rely on dps to help us, for the most part (or tanks – thanks Lyshai for spoiling me rotten!). While more activity for us healers is good (I like the challenge, especially when I’m firmly in my confort zone of priest healing), I suspect that also may mean toning down the craziness level of some encounters: if you’re dispelling, you cannot be expected to heal at the same time. I guess this is one change I would like to see in action, and until then I am unfazed by it. What slightly irks me, though, is that the change seems to be encouraging the dps tunnel vision of “let’s ignore what’s happening to the rest of the raid”. Although I often failed at it, it was easy to see the good dps who could push high numbers while keeping the debuff situation of their raidmates under control, and throwing around the occasional abolish, cure, decurse or dispel. I don’t want to be the Grumpy Old Man decrying the good times of yore, but yeah, it feels a bit like that.I am however willing to give Blizzard credit, and see where they are going with this change.

Healing

As I said, the announcement of specific class changes will appear over the course of this week (except for paladins, who get to wait until the 16th – didn’t paladins get their Wrath information last too?). We do, however, have some generic posts about what they want healing to be.

Mana will be a scarce resource again. They want healers to actually decide what heal to use carefully, with the possibility of running out of mana if they keep spamming expensive heals. Also, gone is the five second rule – regeneration will automatically change depending on whether you’re in combat or not. Finally, mp5 gear is gone, and spirit will be the regeneration stat (which would suggest moving away from the current spirit and int complicated relation).

Each class will get a “baseline heal”, something they can spam with relative abandon. We will also get a fast heal, and a big heal – these two will cost more mana, and thus will need to be used sparingly.

This is the basic information we have so far – and I have to admit, I like it. I always liked having to manage mana in addition to heal, and the current model of “just spam your biggest heal or the tank will die” doesn’t really mesh that well with my playstyle (even on my paladin or druid, I’m far below the number in hps I should be pushing – I’m just not much of a spammer). Switching to “strategic healing” (what spell is the most appropriate for this situation?) rather than “spam healing” (OMGHEALOMGHEALOMGHEAL) is definitely a welcome change.

The real question, though, is what they’ll do to all the spells around this basic framework of “baseline-fast-nuke”. This is especially important for priests, which have always been the “swiss army knives” of healers, with a heal for each situation. GHeal is clearly going to become our nuke, with Flash our fast – that would suggest that they will give us a new baseline heal. But that still leaves us wondering about Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Prayer of Healing, Binding Heal, Renew and (most importantly for Discipline) Shield and Penance. PoH and Binding will still probably remain situationally good heals with their niches; Renew should hopefully get some talent love, to really become the sort of background support it used to be – which is basically the role Prayer of Mending has right now, and hopefully will keep in the future. That really leaves CoH, Shield and Penance, which are staples of Holy and Disc now. I really really hope that they won’t get lost in the transition: it would really be a pity.

Also, let me throw a salvo in favour of Holy Nova. Nova went from a laughable 31-pt talent in vanilla, to something people were actually using (admittedly, with a glyph and specifically for the Mimiron fight). It would be nice if this small niche could be somehow preserved.

More generally, I would like to see Disc be able to scale more properly, and not rely on gimmicks (shields preventing Saurfang to gain blood power, and apparently preventing Defile from growing, though I need to confirm this last one) to be useful in the later part of the expansion.

… and now I feel like a kid wondering, on Christmas Eve, what presents he will get the following day.

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