Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Downranking is Dead!

Blizzard has finally killed off downranking spells in the latest WotLK Beta build. All spells now cost a percentage of base mana. (Not total mana, base mana, which is the mana you have if naked and untalented.) So all ranks of spells cost more or less the same at all levels.

I am estatic about this change. I've been posting about downranking being a problem since 2006. Costs are the single most important part of game balance, and being able to evade costs has always led to degenerate gameplay.

To me, the best thing about WotLK is that Blizzard is finally beginning to take costs, both mana/rage/energy costs and time costs, seriously. This should lead to a stronger, more balanced, and more fun game.

35 comments:

Josh said...

Yesssssssssss

I've been waiting for the devs to do this for a while!

Klepsacovic said...

R.I.P. rank 1 Flash of Light.

Anonymous said...

Huge pvp problems.

Lots of classes use rank 1 spells for ccs like Polymorph, Roots, etc.

Don't forget that some lower rank spells have different cast times. Mages often use rank 1 frostbolt to snare.

-Az

dsitc said...

I'm really into this. Never used downranking that much anyway. ;-)

Together with spellpower, spell pushback capping, flexible talent specs and many more changes WotLK is really turning out the be healers frozen dream! ;-P

Hofflerand said...

This is awesome. If it was implemented right now, it would be a problem because down-ranked heals, rank 1 Cons, rank 1 Frostbolt/Poly, etc are important, balanced tools, but Blizzard can balance around not having these for WotLK.

This has always been a pet peeve for me as well. I'm so glad for this change.

Frnit said...

To be honest, like Az said, some things will take quite a nerf (low rank snares, frostbolt rank1 to name one) in mana efficiency, compared to hamstring/crippleshiv.

On the other hand, it makes pve healing dullies IMO, not having to think between downgrading spells since you'll only make your mana efficiency worse instead of doing less useless overhealing (and save a drop of mana juice)

Well, we'll see I guess.

Andrew said...

I didn't realize rank one spells still worked against higher level creatures and players. I thought they had a much higher level of being resisted and that this resistance was implemented a long time ago to eliminate the problem of people using lower level spells for their effects as a way to save mana.

So is there any instance when a mage would use a higher level of polymorph over the lowest level of polymorph (prior to WotLK)?

Andrew said...

Every instance, as the higher levels of polymorph last longer (the lowest level is... 20 seconds?)

Dazanna said...

It makes healing more intuitive but it really does remove some of the skill that is required to be effective at downranking. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Mathias said...

If they manage to balance the game around this change, i really welcome it.
It wont be an easy task tho, because right now the proper use of downranking is what really makes the exceptional healer in your raid.
Especially for us Paladins and the Shamen healing will have to change very drastically.
I really really hope this wont mean we have to go back to the old-school FoL Spam pseudo-HoT and the occasional HL in emergency situations - as we wont be able to keep up Light's Grace but have to pray for Holy Shock Crits.
Anyway, i am really anxious about how this will play out in the end.

For me it seems especially the Priest Class is already designed to work perfectly with this change (insane spirit based regen + mana refund for overheals), but it's still a lot of work to balance it properly for Holy Paladins.

Nick said...

I welcome this as well. As having to downrank to keep up Lights Grace for quick heals in spike damage situations felt more like an exploit to me rather than an intended game mechanic.

With holy talents and the increased range of Holy Shock, the old method of spike healing seems to have been nicely replaced by the insta-crit Holy Shock followed by instant Holy Light.

C-C-C-C-Combo Healing!!!
(Killer Instinct anyone?)

The main thing I'll miss is Rank 1 Consecrate while defending in BGs or trying to pop that druid out in arena... but all in all I like it.

Tom said...

I didn't think of it untill I started reading the posts, but in arena I'm spamming level 1 concecration all the time.

That's going to give the stealth classes a leg up on this old Ret Pally. Hopefully the new talent tree's will avoid the NERF bat and REt will be so OP in Arena I won't need concecration anymore.

Nick said...

Yeah... hopefully they're gonna need that opener just to STAND a chance against Ret.. =)

tego said...

this is going to make things interesting for pally threat rotation, which normally includes whichever rank of con your SA gains can afford. with this change if you aren't getting enough damage you cant downrank to keep threat on multiple targets. will make overgeared pally tanking... interesting

Mike said...

Boo! Hiss! But I love using Earth Shock Rank 1 to interrupt casters!

Seriously this is a needed change.

Azreal said...

There are lots of PvP situations that are affected by this change. Low rank snares are only part of the problem. When you only want the effect, and the damage portion of the spell is not important, then using higher ranks was pointless.

Shaman Earth Shock? Will they even be able to keep interrupting if it costs that much mana? They can't lower the damage as a balance change either as currently, Enhancement Shaman use Earth Shock in PvE.

Dispel buffers? When you see someone chain dispelling your buffs, you could often use low rank spells to mitigate its effectiveness. This change removes some options, and thus, lowers player skill cap.

Rank 1 AoEs to break stealth. The mana cost is way too high on AoEs to use them for this reason anymore. 1+ mana for the chance to unstealth a Rogue?

This is a huge buff to Arena classes that don't use mana. Rogues and Warriors are already over represented, and this change is honestly, at this point, absurd. I'm sure they can make some balance changes around it, but once again it seems that PvE balance issues have spilled over into PvP.

-Az

Rohan said...

Azreal, I disagree that this change is pure PvE. It's aimed at PvP as well.

R1 Earthshock and similar tactics are degenerate gameplay. You're getting a huge effect for a very small price.

For example, now a Shaman has to take into account if she can afford to interrupt this specific spell, or if it would be better to save the interrupt for a more important spell.

That's a huge level of gameplay and skill. It brings mana-management back into PvP. A skilled shaman can now be judged by the spells she choses to not interrupt.

I agree that warriors and rogues will probably need to be rebalanced. In particular, rogue burst and stunlock out of stealth will probably have to be toned down.

Anonymous said...

I just lost 4 heals I use on a regular basis.

Will I get 4 new heals? Like "Weaker but cheaper greater heal"?

I hate the idea of losing spells. As a healer, I don't always need a fast, very inefficient heal for 1.5k or a long, slow, efficient heal that heals for 5.5k. A downranked big heal isn't about abusing the mechanics, it about having a spell that costs 2/3 as much mana and hits half as hard.

Unless they add new types of direct healing spells, a lot of classes just lost a number of spells. It's equivalent to removing abilities. Ouch. More options > fewer options.

[Now, level 1 frostbolt, earthshock, frost shock, sure :-). But heals? The coefficient fix solved the abusive problem.]

Azreal said...

Sorry Rohan, but you know very little about PvP. I've been top 1-3 throughout season 1-3 in various brackets as various classes and specs, even lolret before it was popular, and this change does not promote skill or mana management at all. What you are suggesting is really a joke; you simply don't have the experience to realize how much of one.

It's not hey, I should let this spell through! My ES costs x mana, but my heal on the target will only cost y mana! No. It's the same as making pummel 40 rage. You aren't saying man I shouldn't interrupt this fear cast on my healer, I'll use the rage to do damage! You will simply end up doing less damage, OR running out of mana much earlier. You're already limited by cooldowns and GCD (less in WotLK) on what you can interupt. Adding another dimension does not increase skill at all.

This change, as it stands, as I'm sure it will undergo some tweaking, limits options for casters greatly. Thus, the player skill cap is lowered. There's no other way around it. Once again, melee will reign supreme, as usual. Since I play a melee class, I shouldn't really be complaining, but I will, in the spirit of balance.

This is simply a classic example of PvE changes affecting PvP. The design for this game has always been PvE centric, with PvP as an after thought. Even the new PvP zone is designed entirely with PvE in mind. Control the zone, gain token resources from EVERY instance in the WORLD.

-Az

Rohan said...

Well, Azreal, we'll just have to disagree on this.

There are two costs for casters, time and mana. Having effects that only have a time cost is a bad idea, especially when other effects have both costs.

This applies in both PvP and PvE. The fact that time costs in PvP are more important than mana costs is a negative, not a positive.

As for the PvP zone, how else do you suggest that they get people to participate on a regular basis? The PvE tokens is just a carrot to lure people into participating.

Rohan said...

Heh, maybe your side could get bonus honor from BGs when you control the zone. I should suggest that on the forums.

I don't think you can do anything with Arena. Maybe get a bonus to your arena points for the percentage of time your faction controls the BG. But arena is meant to be more even. Gearing up faster because your server is Horde-dominated doesn't really seem right.

Will Beckwith said...

I play a Tankadin and I'm dissapointed about this change soley because lower ranks of Consecrate play such an important roll in the way I tank 5 mans/Kara. Once a tankadin outgears an instance, the scariest aspect of tanking is picking up the next wave of trash when your mana bar reads zero. Consecrate Rank 4 takes half the mana of max rank currently and grabs the masses of mobs who would be otherwise be charging my healer and I can cast it when I would otherwise be standing helplessly waiting for another 500 mana throw down my max rank.

Downranking is necessary in a tankadin's line of work, as it often means the difference between a successful run and a wipe.

Azreal said...

Since you've never PvPed seriously, I can't expect you to understand this change in the slightest.

-Az

The Duke said...

I'm very happy with this change. I don't think a single one of my characters will not benefit from it.

Dazanna said...

No reason to be an ass Azreal. This affects both PvE and PvP to a very large extent. Depending on how they balance this it could break non-priest healing classes.

Azreal said...

This is a very negative change. Therefore more attitude towards it will be negative. If not properly balanced, this could break all mana using classes.

Suicidal Zebra said...

Well, it could be worse. We could not have Flash of Light and be locked out of healing at below 18% of our base mana.

With this change Divine Plea and a Sheathbot spec are looking better and better.

Sio said...

Gonna disagree here with ya as well Coriel. While I generally hate it when blizz attempts to balance pvp and screws up pve (see the lifebloom nerf they did to druids which only hurt pve healing), overall this just screws over everyone.

I don't like arenas much and not a big pvp'er these days (bored with it mostly). There is a reason my priests have rank one SWP on their bars, no matter the spec, no matter the level (a 70 and 29 twink). The 70 used to be a 29 twink till I leveled her. Rank 1 spells are not "degenerate" gameplay, its called advanced strategy. Others have mentioned pally, shaman and mage downsides. On a priest:

PVE: When shadow, if the tank has low TPS for whatever reason, rank1 SWP lets me put up max shadow weaving and misery (helpful for a pally tank), maxing debuffs and helping me hit max dps earlier after waiting for threat.

In pvp, a very effective strategy for "mana burning" mana users with out taking 3s to cast an actual "mana burn" spell is to toss up rank1 buffs and rank1 spells. Oooh, that priest just spent 400 mana dispelling rank1 SWP, which cost me 50 mana (or whatever it is). It makes you think more on dispelling things yourself. You still have to think about when/what you dispell and how to manage your mana.

This change just takes away those options and dumbs it down.

Altomancer Mits said...

Not to make this entire comment field a flamewar, but the validity of arguments is not dependant on experience, so stop being asses.

On topic; I'm happy with this change, because I assume Blizzard did it with an intent to replace the R4/5 HT-likes and its cousins with unique and interesting buttons instead. The dispelling/trash buff metagame is unecessary. I'd rather see it replaced it with more interesting skill interactions.

This and Salv being removed both go a long way to wanting me to play pally in WotlK.

Dazanna said...

There are 4 problems I can see from this change:

1. Rogues and Druids become even more powerful in PvP. Right now one of the few defenses at getting stealth-stunlocked is Rank 1 AoE's. Every class that has it does it. They need to rebalance Pounce/Cheap Shot so a rogue can't go apeshit crazy without any way to stop him if they're removing the only stealth breaker in the game.

2. Talents at itemization need to be rebalenced. Light's Grace is close to a waste of talent points now. I'm not going to dump 1300 mana every 15 seconds to keep it up. Libram of Mending is crap. No reason to want a 22 Mp5 buff when it costs you almost 10 times as much mana to get that buff up. 2-piece Tier 6? Who cares, I'm not using Holy Light for anything except emergencies.

3. There is a reason no one uses max rank heals. They cost too much mana for (in almost every situation) an HPS gain that you don't need. Why would you use a max rank Holy Light when a rank 9 gives you the same effective HPS required and costs 2/3 the amount? With this change Paladins have exactly 2 HPS levels: Flash of Light and Holy Light. If incoming damage is more than your FoL but less than HL what happens? Well sorry bro, you're screwed, enjoy your OOM overhealing with Holy Light!

4. It doesn't make healing any more intuitive. Sure, you'll only have 2 heal buttons on your bars now (whoopie, more room for Smite!) but healing will be just as unintuitive as now. Instead of chain casting multiple ranks of heals people will just be cast-canceling max ranks until it is needed. How is cast-canceling any more intuitive (or easier for bad players) than downranking? For that matter, how does a paladin sitting outside the 5 second rule because he's just cast-canceling fit with the class at all?

If the devs don't address these issues this change is absolutely horrible for everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear from someone in the Beta how this is working out before tearing what little is left of my hair out. Instead of bashing each other over how we *think* this is going to work, let's wait and see what people who are experiencing it have to say.

Hofflerand said...

It's simple: Blizzard just have to balance around this change now. The blue who released this info even said that if a class lost a crucial ability due to this, they will find a way to make up for it.

Ret paladins should not have such mana problems that they have to use rank 1 SoC. JoC shouldn't do such sh!t damage that we should want to use rank 1 SoC. Look how awesome our the new WotLK Judgement system is--it's based on this concept.

If a mage needs to use rank 1 Frostbolt commonly, then they should be given a separate ability that works in a similar way. Or, they can lose this ability but get a totally new one that helps them in a different way.

Etc, etc. In before, "you have never played on high-rated teams and do not understand arena": I have.

Again, it's simple.. balance is being thrown all out of whack in WotLK and this is the perfect time to get rid of these player-discovered crutches. If a class/spec needs an ability to be viable, give them that ability. If implemented properly, it will not lower the skill it takes to play your class.

Sio said...

Folks faith in Blizzard to do a decent job of rebalancing classes/talents around this major change astounds me given their past record. :)

One blue/blizz post that was going around on the threads about this on the official forums that really torques me off was their druid example. Namely that they didn't intend the druid to be spamming only lifebloom and some rejuvs and thus they're nerfing LB a bit and giving druids more healing options/reasons to not be a one trick pony.

That statement is completely and utterly stupid/insane. Everyone told them they were making druids in BC into hot bots and thats what they became. Blizzard purposely locked out the old downranking standby of HT spam and forbade tree's from even casting it. So duh, no one uses it anymore except when desperate for a big heal. Blizzard designed it that way and if they didnt see what was coming they're completely clueless.

I used to be a HT spam resto healer in 1.0. I liked it but grew bored with it. Tree didnt impress me, as I thought it made druids still stuck as raid healers and hurt their 5 man capabilities. Now I've been proven wrong and tree is viable for 5 mans but its still stuck purely in a raid hot bot mode (and great at it with the spirit regen changes now). That was blizzard's choice not an unintented consequence.

RJ said...

If you look around some of the changes made on the Beta so far, and the responses on the Beta forums, you can see that the developers are really working at filling in as many gaps as they can. Many talented abilities which were considered "essential" (as in, for all players of that class, not just players of a specific build) for PvP (even if they were new ones for Wrath) are starting to become baseline, as an example.

If the developers see that there needs to be new abilities that emulate downranked spells, then they're going to add them. I have no doubts about it.

mandaree said...

I think Dazanna's right. Light's grace is nearly useless as of now.

Holy shock seems to be a fair emergency heal, though: its base heal is about half of holy light's, and that ratio should be higher with the heal bonus. The instant heal buff if you crit seems to be indefinite, so you might start a fight with divine favor, holy shock, then flash with the occasional shock until it really hits the fan and you use up your instant HL, then holy shock every 6 seconds until you crit, etc.

Holy shock seems to be the standard emergency heal now, holy light a situational big emergency heal.