And out of the blue…

20 September 2010 § 8 Comments

(Harr, harr, harr! See what I did with the title? Because blues are… and out of the blue is… never mind….)

Love it how Ghostcrawler sometimes slips a bomb just as an aside comment. Case in point: while discussing the eternal problem of hit rating and getting capped meaning you want to ignore everything with hit on it, he threw out this little tidbit:

3) Requiring higher combat ratings for additional content tiers. What hit caps you for 4.0 won’t be sufficient in 4.1, so the extra budge on the 4.1 gear will be helpful. (Source)

*Stunned silence*

So if I understand correctly, every single new tier of content will automatically decay your ratings. To bring it to Wrath terms, there you are, decked in Naxx gear and finally getting your haste, crit (and hit, if you’re a dps) to decent levels, and suddenly Ulduar comes out, and going back to Naxx you find out that all your ratings now convert to a lot less percents – with the consequent loss in dps/hps. Thankfully, defence is not a rating anymore, so at least we won’t have tanks suddenly getting crit – the avoidance stats are still ratings though (dodge and parry), so tanks will be suffering more damage through that.

For all intents and purposes, every raiding tier will effectively partially reset gear. We are getting used to these gear resets as they happen at the beginning of any expansion, but frankly, there they have relatively little effect. There is new levelling to do, and very few people go back and seriously raid the old content. That is very much not true for raiding tiers within an expansion cycle. Unless you are in a top raiding guild, you are bound to have some overlap between tiers, or finish mopping up a tier while the other has come out. When ToC came out we were still going to Ulduar to kill Algalon; when ICC came out we still went to ToC (though mostly we did that because Lower Spire was way too easy, and nothing else was available). Now, if you run out of time, the top bosses will be even harder to kill as your gear will “degrade” simply because you reached the time limit.

Hopefully, this change will be implemented as a “Sunwell Radiance” thing: in other words, the new tier of raiding has a debuff in effect when you zone into the instance decaying your ratings. This will leave your effectiveness in earlier tiers unchanged, while allowing Blizzard to avoid the stat inflation. Even in this more benign version, I am just not sure I like the change. It feels like a clunky solution to something that could be solved by itemisation – both in terms of ilvls and of actual stat choice on the items.

There is no doubt that stats went out of control in Wrath: the spread of loot has been from ilvl 200 in Naxx to ilvl 277 in Heroic ICC 25. This compares to a spread of 115 (Attumen) to 164 (Kil’Jaeden) for BC, and 66 (Lucifron) to 92 (Kel’thuzad original) in Vanilla. In Wrath, we’ve had TEN separate tiers of loots (in ilvl: 200, 213, 219, 226, 232, 245, 251, 258, 264, 277), over only four tiers of raiding. Let’s assume Blizzard uses the same loot model in Cataclysm, letting Heroic loot be a full tier above normal (13 ilvl), while the normal loot of the tier above is only 6 ilvl above the Heroic loot of the tier below. We also know that the starting epics are going to be ilvl 359, so we should see the following progression (assuming 4 tiers of raid instances again):

  • Tier 11: 359 normal, 372 heroic
  • Tier 12: 378 normal, 391 heroic
  • Tier 13: 397 normal, 410 heroic
  • Tier 14: 416 normal, 429 heroic

Most importantly, Blizzard has always said that the biggest issue was that when they designed Wrath and the ratings conversions, they were not counting on Heroics mode at all (they really started in Ulduar, so post Wrath launch). The addition of an upper tier of gear for every raiding instance clearly inflated the numbers. This particular problem is gone: we know heroics are here to stay, and so we can plan the build up of the various ratings better, to make sure that by 429 we’re not having everyone hit against haste, hit and crit caps.

Of course, hit is a bit of weird stat in all this, because you want to be able to hit the cap in all tiers. Ghostcrawler’s concern is that if ratings don’t decay, then caster dps will wear all the same gear (the crit/haste/int/stamina gear, to be clear), because they can ignore hit. Except I really don’t understand this objection: the current model of itemisation suggests that a higher tier item with hit/crit/int/stamina will have higher values of all four stats than a lower tier item with the same stat. But couldn’t we have higher ilvl items where the increase in stats happen just in crit/int/stamina, leaving hit to be (roughly) the same? This way, caster dps still has an incentive to upgrade (more of the other stats), while still wanting to wear the same number of pieces of hit gear.

I remember when Sunwell came out, and several posts almost seemed to apologise for having to resort to Sunwell radiance (which, btw, was mostly a problem with bear tanks). A similar attitude seemed to pervade the introduction of Chill of the Throne in Icecrown. When framed that way, I had no problem accepting either debuff. But it seems to me that somewhere in the last eight months we went from “this is our last resort because something happened to screw our original plans”, to “this is a good plan”. It’s not – it feels clunky, and it artificially slows the character progression, when a slower build up of the ratings would get the same result much more elegantly. I am hoping that we can learn more about this soon, but this feels like a fairly bad idea so far.


§ 8 Responses to And out of the blue…

  • repgrind says:

    Hmm. Maybe I missed something here, but to me it says, what hit caps you for 4.0 (or Naxx in your example) doesn’t hit cap you for 4.1 (Ulduar in your example) … but Naxx didn’t change. And the gear you have on currently didn’t change. You should still be fine fox Naxx, but won’t be hit capped for Uldy.

    • Tsark says:

      The question is whether the decay is time-based or place-based – and we don’t know, because it is an offhand comment that GC still has to develop. The first half of my post examine the time-based option, while the second part considers the place-based scenario (when I start talking about Sunwell Radiance). Either way, I think it’s a clunky solution to something that can be solved much more elegantly.

  • Nahmanides says:

    It’s certainly ambiguous from the quoted remark. However, I think GC has talked about this before, and made clear that higher tier bosses will just be harder to hit.

    I don’t have the problem with this that you do, so maybe I’m missing something. The itemization guys want to be able to scale up all of the stats as the tiers progress. If the need for hit doesn’t increase, you end up with hICC25 items that satisfy 3/4 of the hit you need in one swoop. This is bad, since it becomes very difficult to land exactly on the hit cap.

    I suspect that frequent raiders will maintain different sets in Outfitter for different hit caps. We used to see this earlier in WotLK, since you could never be sure if you’d have the Boomkin/SPriest hit buff in 10s.

    • Tsark says:

      That’s what I’m worried about – while before he talked about “higher tier bosses being harder to hit”, now he’s mentioning decaying of ALL ratings (haste, crit, dodge, parry), which is a very different deal.

      For itemisations, I think the problem is exactly wanting to scale all ratings on all items, instead of keeping hit at the same level, and then scaling the rest.

      And finally – I have nothing against multiple sets (vanilla raiding required healers to carry several separate sets to be used in different fights, and I like that). However, Blizz is not being consistent: one of the reason they are removing hit from the raid buffs is precisely because it’s a nuisance to switch sets depending on raid composition. And yet, here they are giving us good reasons to switch multiple sets….

      • Nahmanides says:

        Ah, alright, I get what you’re saying. Good points all. I’m still skeptical that Blizz would do this. In WotLK, they decided that they wanted casual players to experience all the content they released, albeit later than more devoted players would. Hence, dropping Triumph in Heroics, and the ICC buff.

        If they make ratings’ values drop whenever a new tier is released, it’d be equivalent to making all the raids harder. It’d be like buffing Ulduar to ToC difficulty when ToC is released. Since they like to make content MORE accessible as time progresses, this would seem like a step in the complete opposite direction.

        At this point, I’m just agreeing with you. But I agree with your reasoning SO INTENSELY that I am doubtful GC would ever imply the contrary.

  • Thrian says:

    I remember tiered progression content in Vanilla as a group of raiders moved from Molten Core into BWL etc. Avid PVE junkies knew they could not function without gear appropiate to the dungeon. Gating gear through stat decay not only re-visits but takes gear-gating to an entire new level I am not too happy about.

    Finding/aquiring appropiate gear each tier will become a huge hassle. I remember using three t2 pieces by the end of Vanilla. I wasn’t rocking a full set of, in Cata, “appropiate” gear on Jarbel until a month and a half ago. Jarbel was chewing bits out of normal LK with a mace off HM 10-man Cthun.

    Re-forging will hopefully help compensate for the immidiate lack of hit/crit/ as a raid starts working on new content. Static, non-percent specific buffs – foods, flasks, some abilites and pots – will probably devalue a lot faster, as compared to WOTLK, from tier to tier.

    I will still do my dammest to show up flasked, well-feed and thirsty for some magical orange (lemonade-flavored?) juice out of a crystaline vial, but 2% to hit on a stash of crispy worg haunches will probably turn into a measly .5% by the time the third epic dungeon adventure rolls around.

    I can see why Blizzard is tinkering with this idea by simply taking a look at Jarbel in WOTLK. Everyone knows how well Warriors scale with gear by now. Pre-nerf Titan’s Grip was AMAZINGLY finger-licking good with good gear and “made” Blizzards’ WOW-gurus strike us down. With gear-decay Blizzard is, at least, only “striking down” the color purple instead of my lovely Warrior side-kick and his tabby-cat.

  • Thrian says:

    Ops yes it was from Yogg 🙂

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