Monday, October 05, 2009

Spell Haste: Bad for the Game?

Spell Haste is an interesting stat in theory. It reduces the cast time of your spells, and is supposed to be a double-edged sword, increasing the Damage-Per-Second of your spells, but also increasing the Cost-Per-Second. However, for a variety of reasons, I think having Spell Haste on gear has actually weakened the game in several respects.

1. Speeds up the Game

The most obvious thing spell haste has done is speed up the game. Everyone casts faster, does damage faster, and heals faster. Which leads to people taking damage faster as well. I think that WoW has gotten a little bit too fast, and could stand to be chilled out some.

2. Emphasis on Spamming Casts

You really only see the power of Spell Haste when you are spamming spells. To take advantage of a small reduction in cast time, you need to be hitting buttons immediately, in quick succession.

3. Blurs the line between Short Casts and Long Casts

With lots of spell haste, there's not much difference between spells with short cast time and spells with long cast time. This has causes short cast spells to be undervalued, and instants to be greatly more powerful.

For example, if spell haste did not exist, it's possible that interrupts could go back on the GCD, making it harder to interrupt short spells, and making Curse of Tongues more valuable, even in PvE.

4. Prone to "Magic Numbers"

If an ability rotation includes a spell with a cooldown, spell haste means that certain "magic numbers" will exist. These are values of spell haste that allow you to squeeze an extra cast off while the first spell is on cooldown.

For example, baseline you can go Holy Shock, 3x Flash of Light as a baseline. But there is a value of spell haste where you can squeeze in an extra FoL while HS is still on cooldown. And an even higher value where you can squeeze in a fifth FoL.

I don't think this level of complexity--actively changing a rotation like this--is good behavior for a stat to exhibit. It makes people overly reliant on theorycrafting and spreadsheets.

5. Messes with the Global Cooldown

The Global Cooldown is the "heartbeat" of WoW. I think that allowing spell haste to alter the GCD was a mistake. It plays havoc with the rhythm of the game, and has led to random spells having odd GCDs. In my view, the game just plays much better when there is a standard 1.5s GCD on all abilities.

I also think that too many abilities are now off the GCD, and that has also contributed to the excessive speed.

Conclusions

That's not to say that reducing spell cast times is entirely bad. I think that it is a quite appropriate effect for talents like Improved Fireball. Talents can also allow for a significant change in a specific spell's cast time, rather than a very small reduction in the overall cast time. Reducing cast time on specific spells is a good effect for talents or possibly glyphs, just not a good effect for a gear stat.

However, the general idea of the stat, increasing DPS while also increasing cost-per-second, is a good notion. With the integration of spellpower into Intellect in Cataclysm, perhaps spell haste could be retired as well. Replace it with "spell infusion" a stat which directly increases SP and Cost, without changing cast time. This would give two knobs to balance the stat, rather than indirectly balancing both through cast time.

28 comments:

Kring said...

Mana Regen is already "irrelevant" for DD classes and I think Blizzard is happy with this. (Otherwise you would never be able to balance a caster and a rogue for short and long fights.)

Cataclysm plans to remove spirit for DD and make it a healer stat.

Therefore, a stat that increases damage at the price of mana is not going to work if you have "infinite" mana.

And for healer. Would that be more interesting than spell power? If the game is throughput driven, you're going to take it. If the game is regen driven, you're probably going to take it anyway. :-)

Kring said...

And you forgot one think. Haste worsens lag.

Armagon said...

> In my view, the game just plays much better when there is a standard 1.5s GCD on all abilities.

When I had played my Rogue (and only my Rogue) for over a year and then started my Druid alt, it took me a while to realize why everything feels so slow. Rogues have a 1.0 GCD (also Cat Druids), so much for standard ;)

Busket said...

I think you have several good points but I'm not sure I agree with #4. I'm too lazy to really get into theorycrafting myself, but I don't mind having the opportunity exist for enterprising players to improve their performance over the average player.

The problem is when the theorycrafting improves your play to such an extent that anyone who _doesn't_ study spreadsheets is at a huge disadvantage. I think #4 is therefore more of a balance issue, and not an inherent problem with haste as such.

aaron said...

Personally I love the haste mechanic, it allows an extra layer to gearing and another way to personalise your play-style. It also means Blizzard can fine-tune end-game encounters.

Take Algalon for example: I run with about 840 haste for him, putting my HL's around 1.25 seconds. The GCD is irrelevant for that fight as I never cast FoL. He hits hard and fast, plus there's epic raid damage - the healers need massive throughput.

Gearing for haste requires the right raid makeup and gear selection to be viable without going oom. The faster my casts, the more quickly I can react to changing circumstances, for me it keeps the game feeling exciting and hectic.

Dorgol said...

Funny thing about that "heartbeat" comment.

I was sat out of a raid a few months back. I didn't make a big deal about it, but I did ask the raid leader why the next day. The reason was straight up that I wasn't performing as well as the other Holy Paladin.

For the life of me I couldn't figure out what was different. We both had the same gear level. We both were using the same spells (percentage of FoL vs HL). So after the next raid I compared his recount numbers to mine... and discovered that in the same fight he had put out nearly twice as many heals as I had.

And it was then that I realized I was still casting in a 1.5s "heartbeat". I didn't even think about it, I just hit the button every 1.5 second.

So I started spamming the button. And I mean carpal-tunnel-inducing spam.

And sure enough, I started matching his output.

I prefered the "heartbeat" casting, to be honest.

Klepsacovic said...

The original Nature Attunement Crystal, but in gem form?

Rohan said...

Kring, you bring up an interesting point about infinite mana classes. I had not considered that change in cataclysm. It does depend a bit on whether mana is truely infinite or cyclical (like warlocks). An infusion-like ability would require you to Life Tap more.

Armagon, I'm aware that Rogues, Cats, and DKs in Unholy Presence have a 1.0 GCD. This is deliberate, to make those classes feel more frantic than all the other classes. It's a good idea for those classes, because it fits with their style, but I don't think it should be extended to all classes.

Busket, perhaps I didn't phrase it well. I don't like stats which drastically change in value at single points. Like Defense: extremely valuable below 540, much less valuable after 540. I prefer stats with a more continuous valuation like AP or crit rating. Haste is prone to discontinuities in value because of the way it interacts with spell cooldowns.

Papanasty said...

I'm a big fan of haste in the game, I think that adding in the ability to reduce your cast times to that magic number are good ways to make people think a little bit more about what value to put on their stats.

Afterall, it's just too easy to stack pure str / agi / spellpower gems etc in all of your gear. Where one stat is soo much better than every other stat, that it's not even worth getting the socket bonuses because the single stat is worth more than the others.

Rewarding players who think about their gear a little more, and thus balance out their haste / crit / armor pen / hit etc is important I think. Afterall, the gains in dps usually aren't that amazing, but it gives the player who understands the game mechanics a small edge over players who perhaps don't spend that additional time theorycrafting etc.


Also, just checked out your armory profile, saw you were in your ret gear. imo don't use grimtoll :) With 383 hit rating you're wayyyyy over the hitcap (as alliance generally aim for 230 hit rating, and assume you'll have a drenei), and armor pen generally isn't one of the more desireable ret pally stats.

Which funnily enough, relates to your blog (haha almost could accuse you of deliberately logging out excessively over the hitcap in order to prompt a comment here lol).

Having a degree of complexity within the stats is something which to me makes the game more interesting and challenging. Afterall, if we wanted to just play a simple game where we don't have to think, then we'd switch off our computers and go play playstation instead.

Stripes said...

" Busket, perhaps I didn't phrase it well. I don't like stats which drastically change in value at single points. Like Defense: extremely valuable below 540, much less valuable after 540. I prefer stats with a more continuous valuation like AP or crit rating. Haste is prone to discontinuities in value because of the way it interacts with spell cooldowns"

I kind of like the extra depth "caps" give gearing.

Without caps you get very simple results like "+3 spell power is worth +1 spell hit" and the "next great upgrade" is the same item for anyone (with that build) that doesn't have it yet. You forever chase the same stats. No caps also means you will always gem for the same stat (for a given tree), so ret pally would always gem for strength (except in the rare case that a socket bonus gives a ton of something for a "bad" color gem...and it would almost have to be a lot of strength)

With caps your current gear strongly influences what gear you look for next. Once you get to the hit cap more +hit is worthless, you look for +SP or +AP which means 2 arcane mages will look at the next cloth drop very differently. One sees a +hit item and goes "meh, I'm capped, anyone else want it?" and the other goes "woot! That'll get me 15 closer to the cap!!". Gemming here isn't simple, but it isn't too complex. You have a clear priority: gem for hit until you get to X then for +str (or +SP or whatever your tree demands).

Diminishing returns can get a similar result, but then you have to be seriously looking at a spreadsheet (lets see my crit is 325, 15 more crit raises my crit chance by....where is that table... 0.02% -- is that worth losing 3 MP5?). Gemming is similar, it is hard to tell where to stop gemming for one stat and when to pick up another, and the exact righ combination of gems will change anytime you change almost any item.

So the way I see it:
* hard caps give gearing some depth and don't require spreadsheets

* diminishing returns (soft caps) bring the same sort of depth, but really do require spreadsheets (or addons, or complex web sites)

* no caps makes gearing a very simple game

I guess what kind of cap (or wether they should exist at all) depends on how complex or simple you like things.

Rohan said...

Also, just checked out your armory profile, saw you were in your ret gear. imo don't use grimtoll :) With 383 hit rating you're wayyyyy over the hitcap (as alliance generally aim for 230 hit rating, and assume you'll have a drenei), and armor pen generally isn't one of the more desireable ret pally stats.

Heh, yeah, I know I'm way over the hit cap. It used to be even worse. Was over 400 at one point. Ret is my alternate set, so I only take loot that no one else will use. For some reason, I've ended up with lots of hit gear. I haven't had a chance to roll on a melee trinket in ages. Same thing with weapons...I'm using a 219 polearm, which is pretty terrible.

Adgamorix said...

Haste vs. Spellpower/Crit is a playstyle choice that I like having in the game. I can gear up my holy gear for haste - or int. Now - if all my int gems become haste gems, I not only lose on the benifits of Int (crit/sp/mana), but my Divine Plea and replenishment will tick for less.

I will however get my heals off faster.

That's how I gem for PvP - haste > Int. I don't need a deep mana pool, because the Arena match is generally decided in the first minute anyway - and my druid partner innervates me. I need to be able to get a heal off as fast as possible to avoid interrupts and spikey death. Plus if I can cleanse faster, I can heal more.

In PvE I want big heals when I need them - not when the metronome ticks.

Kevin said...

Personally I like haste in the game, it allows players to chose a different play style. Assuming that the user of the character plays a destro lock. typically, SP > Haste > Crit > Spirit >everything else (assuming they are hit capped) Now a warlock COULD stack SP, and take the cookie cutter version of every other warlock in the game, or they could take haste, and play with a different set of spells. They would be able to fit in more filler spells than the average, which would change their play style, for better or worse. I see it as a personal preference, even if it does affect your preformance in-game. Play what you like, even if others shun you for it.

Devlin said...

Dorgol, you should consider (if you haven't already) picking up an addon called Quartz, it's a cast-bar addon with a latency gauge that makes chaining spells very easy.

Kim said...

From a pure healer point of view haste is awesome. Haste makes my life as a healer just that much easier. I don't think directly translating haste to SP and cost would be such a great idea. The reasoning behind this is that I would be casting bigger heals slower and timing the heals would be a major pain. I would be sitting with my finger on the (as a shaman) NS button and my other finger on HW. Now if I panic I can usually get some brething space with a well placed CH. And since CH base cast time is 2,5 secs it will take some time to fire off.

The other option here is that I go back to pre casting heals. Meaning that I have a heal going even if the tank is not taking damage, and then breaking it off with ESC or movement if the tank is at full health.

Chumani said...

I love being a healer and playing healer classes on almost every top mmorpg. And wow is still one of the slowest game for me (atlast as a healer).

The skill behind the character and his equip is limited becose of slow cast speed...

More hast more gg!

CrowdsourceMe said...

I believe your main argument is that haste is bad because it speeds up the game. However, nothing's really been said on why speeding up the game is bad, other than its just personal preference.

I would like to see an article that said "Speeding up the game is bad because, x, y, and z, and therefore getitng rid of haste would be a good thing" rather than your current article, as its not a very good argument.

For #2, get quartz. If you can't take advantage of haste because of lag, then of course you need to spam.

#3, I straight disagree, especially in PvP. Even with 1500-2000 haste, 1 sec FH and a 1.6 GH is still a big difference (Priest PvP perspective). Even for PvE, theres a big difference between a 1.7 sec Arcane Blast and a 2 second AB (Arc Mage PvE)

#4 This I can agree and disagree. While finding 'magic numbers' in gear is annoying (I had to do it in BC on my mage), just as much as making sure your at the hit cap is, having your rotation be dynamic to your gear is interesting. Just spamming the same spells over and over again is boring.

This will also be partialy gone from the came in cataclysm, as melee CDs will change dynamically w/ haste.

Anyways, an interesting read, though i disagree with it almost completely =D. I <3 Haste. [Granted it helps that i play two classes that love it]

Largeman, Arcane Mage, Burning Blade US [PvE]
Lyila, Disc Priest, Burning Blade US [PvP]

Ezence said...

You're really sure haste plays that big a role in wow?

(I'll go to 2 decimal places to make it easier to follow)

It takes 32.79 rating to make 1%, 1% of 1.5 seconds if 0.01 of a second so a 1.5 second cast now becomes a 1.48 second cast, not a huge improvement. Granted haste stacks and comes on other items. Lets take a look..

Lets look at the most ideal healing weapon, Val'anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings. That comes with 49 haste rating, or 1.49% that's an increase of 0.02 reducing 1.5 second case to 1.47.

Lets count up all the possible items for a Holy Paladin that has spell haste and see how much faster we can cast. (Based on the most ideal gear but stacking haste).


Girdle of the Frozen Reach - 77
Chestplate of the Frozen Lake - 90
Judgement Crown - 87
Leggings of Failing Light - 84
Liadrin's Gloves of Triumph - 67
Abetment Bracers - 37
Conqueror's Aegis Spaulders - 57
Wyrmrest Necklace of Power - 43
Conductive Seal - 55
Ring of the Darkmender - 50
Deathchill Cloak - 53
Boots of the Courageous - 67


Total (excluding gems/enchants):
767 / 32.79 = 23.39
23.39% of 1.5 = 0.35

1.5 - 0.35 = 1.15

I wasn't sure what the outcome of the above would be, I was somewhat expecting it to be significant once I see the haste items out there, but really it isn't. That's stacking just for haste and not for more important stats like mp5 and crit, also not worrying about set bonuses or ilvl.

That kinda concludes, even if it was practical to stack haste, it still wouldn't be beneficial enough to do so.

Haste is designed to give you an edge, as some bosses, namely Anub P3, requires a lot of spell casting in a short amount of time. Without haste some bosses wouldn't be possible and I'd prefer a diverse amount of encounters over "steady lets take things slow and have plenty of reaction time" encounters.

It's all about personal preference though.

Kring said...

That's not how haste works.

767 / 32.79 = 23.39

1.5s / (1 + 23.39 / 100) = 1.5s / (1.2339) = 1.22s

A 1.5s cast goes only down to 1.22s with 767 haste rating (at level 80, neglecting any other haste buffs or effects).

Anonymous said...

From a DPS perspective (my main is a Mage), Haste is the only way we currently have to reduce the "cast tax".

Most, if not all, current encounters require a *lot* of movement. Moving means not casting. Not casting means for the time we move (DoTs aside) we do 0 dps.

Compare that with melee, who tend to have mostly instant abilities with cooldowns, rather than cast times - they can continue to dps while on the move (unless running out of an AoE, of course).

So, in comparison to melee, casters must pay a tax on their dps - knowing that for certain parts of the fight, we won't be doing any (or very, very little with our limited instant-casts), while melee can continue without (much) interruption.

Stacking haste means that once we stop moving, and start casting, it takes less time to get started again. Depending on the encounter, it may allow us to get a (non-instant) cast off during a movement phase where we otherwise wouldn't be able to.

Ezence said...

Idd, I stand corrected. Still a little myth'd where this 1 has appeared from and what its purpose is...

Kring said...

That's just the way Blizzard calculates it.

The consequence if this is that with 100% haste, your cast time is cut in half and not reduced to 0.

1.5s / (1+1) = 0.75s

(The global cooldown hard limit of 1 second would still prevent you from spamming instants every 0.75s)

Anonymous said...

I like the infusion idea.

Although, I'd like to see it implemented a little differently. First, make haste not affect the global cooldown. Second, since instant casts are limited by the global cooldown, make haste "infuse" instant casts so that they scale with other spells.

pandu said...

I just think Haste should be just on PVP gear... it creates too much inconsistence in PVE

Anonymous said...

i cud not agree more that haste is making things worse, as a holy pala i have 15% haste from talents and blizz force feed me haste on lots of slots. with the diminishing returns on haste im not convinced i should really bother having more than what my talents give, haste will not save the tank from dyeing more that once a every blue moon, its not like i get the heal in a slit sec before he dies if he dies it because he didn't get enough heals not that the vital 1 was ever so slightly miss timed, all that 30% haste dose for me is increase the amount of heals i cast over 10 mins is 30% more but seletecing the correct heal to use and watching the bosses swing timer and ability CD will heal me keep the tank up a lot more, anyways the reason im posting is i was wondering if anyone knows of a chart/graph thats shows the accurate amount of diminishing

Anonymous said...

sorry from the post above i ment to say i also have 15% haste from gear

Merlot said...

I'm completely with you, though not necessarily for the reasons you give. One of your first commenters mentioned lag and for me that's a big issue. I don't know if haste actually worsens lag (technically never thought about it) but I do see how general computer performance, including lag and framerate, has a direct effect on the benefit of haste in a way that it does not for other stats. (Poor computer performance may affect your ability to tank, for example, but it will never lower your defence rating.) I really think WoW ought to be doing all it can to minimise the importance of technical considerations and maximise skill and knowledge. Haste seems to go against that in my mind.

Two weeks ago I would also have complained about the inequality of haste across different classes. If the changes we see on the test realm make it to live, we can at least hope to see a more level playing field for dot classes.

Gauk said...

I play a protection warrior, so haste can help me generate more offensive rage or spend my rage faster via Heroic Strike. In that sense, it's helpful to give me finer tuned control over rage(if hit, expertise, and strength weren't better threat stats). Since haste has no effect on the GCD for warriors(who are stuck with 1.5), it's a pretty big disadvantage in PVP as gear levels scale up. Enemy spellcasters can get more and more spells off in the same amount of time, while warriors are stuck with the same throughput as when they hit 80. This limits our tactical options.