Sunday, February 15, 2009

Buff Durations

Mark writes:
Why does Righteous Fury have a duration? As a protection tank, this irritates me greatly, because its one additional thing I need to pay attention to. I mean, warriors shift into defensive stance, druids go bear, and deathknights shift into frost stance. None of them have to worry about whether their threat is going to suddenly fall off because they forgot to refresh a spell.

I realise that the 'stances' that each other tanking class offers advantages and disadvantages, and that there aren't really other 'stances' that paladins have (I do NOT want our increased threat generation to be tied into our auras), however it would be nice if once we cast Righteous Fury, it would stay up until I manually clicked it off. Would that be so game breaking? Its not like its something we have to cast every pull, and its not like it's a major mana sink or anything - it just seems to be an old dinosaur from original game design that should be allowed to go extinct. Having a half hour means that if I'm not paying attention, I could wipe a group simply because I forgot to refresh the spell before a pull.

There are really two issues at play here. First, why do buffs in general have a duration? Second, why is Righteous Fury a buff, rather than a stance, form or aspect?

Let's take the first question: why do buffs have a duration? Buffs have a duration because it tests skill in a very small way. All other things being equal, a paladin who remembers to refresh Righteous Fury is simply a better paladin than one who forgets and lets it wear off. Part of playing a class well is maintaining your buffs.

You can see this very clearly with paladins and Blessings. We've all run with paladins who let their Blessings expire and have to be prodded to re-Bless. Then at the other extreme you have the paladins who keep everyone buffed all the time, who hits battle-rezed players, pets, and even warlock imps. It's a small thing, but---all other things being equal--the second type of paladin is a better player.

Not all challenges need to be amazingly hard. Small, easy challenges such as keeping buffs up are still important. Now, these small challenges need to be kept in check. Overused, they become extremely tedious and detract from more important and fun challenges, as anyone who remembers the days of 5-minute Blessings and 40-man raids will attest to.

On to the second question: Why is Righteous Fury a buff, and not a stance?

In general, WoW design likes to use buffs for mechanics which are purely additive, and use stances for when you make a choice between two effects or for an effect with both a positive and negative aspect. Blessing of Kings is purely additive, adding 10% more stats. Similarly, Righteous Fury is purely additive, adding extra threat. While warrior stances offer a choice between extra damage dealt and less damage taken.

It's more because threat is sometimes a positive stat from the perspective of the player, and sometimes a negative stat from that perspective, that Righteous Fury feels a bit different from all the other additive buffs. Essentially, there's no built-in negative to Righteous Fury. The negative doesn't come from the buff, it comes from the nature of the stat the buff provides. Compare this to Moonkin Form, where the negative--can't cast healing spells--is built into the form, and is not a side-effect of extra critical strikes.

For example, if you look at PvP, Righteous Fury becomes something that is always positive, while Moonkin Form still has negatives.

This isn't an iron-clad 100% rule. For example, Auras blur the lines a bit. You could make Auras work like Blessings fairly easily. But in general, Blizzard likes making effects with both a positive and a negative into stances or forms. But effects which are purely positive show up as buffs with a duration. Righteous Fury is a purely positive buff, always increasing threat, so it fits closer to the buff model.


  1. I think the answer is simpler and more technical than that.

    The 'stance' system and bars have been in place for Paladin Auras from the beginning. Making Righteous Fury a stance would mean Auras would have to not-be stances (and, correspondingly, require a redesign of several key class mechanics I suspect). Keeping Righteous Fury as a buff is just the lesser evil here.

  2. Not necessarily. For example, the priest talent Shadowform is a stance which works like a normal ability. So are the hunter Aspects.

    So Righteous Fury could have been a stance just like Shadowform, without needing to do anything specially to the ability bars.

  3. I see it as being a little bit like Hunter aspects vs. Trueshot Aura.

    Aspects you switch around whenever you want and can only have one up at a time. Just like Paladin auras.

    Trueshot aura once had a 30-minute duration, that you keep up in addition to your aspect. But then it was changed to be a toggled ability.

    I don't see a reason why righteous fury can't go the same way, with a paladin having both an aura AND righteous fury.

  4. you forget its an important dispell buffer in pvp.

  5. Kiryn, I guess Auras are another class of effects. If it affects the entire group simultaneously, it can be a toggled permanent ability.

  6. pally power addon is and addon all pallys should use

    this has a button for RF that changes colour(like the rest for blessings) whether its up target out of range dead extra.

    in raid leader can assign the blessing makeing life easy.

    its a simple visual reminder along with clock count down.

    though making it a toggle ability would be great.

  7. That's just one of the useless, stupid things left from vanilla. It's the same with the self armors from warlocks and mages and they even cannot be dispelled but have a 30 min duration.

    And if you've ever tanked with as bear... the 10 min (60 with glyph) thorns which cannot be rebuffed as bear are also very annoying.

  8. Couple of questions i have never thought of before, i think after you play for so long you just accept things as they are.

    Saying that we just got inner fire to 30 mins and un dispellable.

  9. I don't agree re. your comments on stances - with DK's presences, Blizzard have totally thrown their previous attitude to stances out of the window.

    For example, DK's presences haven't got anything negative to them, there's no choices that you have to make re. positive and negative effects i.e. you use blood for crit and health regen, frost for armour and spell damage reduction and unholy for... well just haste, pretty much.

    Moreover, there's no penalty for switching between these presences and every baseline DK ability can be used in every stance...

    So DK presences really change the game. Whether it's for good or for better, I'll leave others to judge but I think it's the start of Blizzard making all class stances have positive effects only and all buffs more or less a permanent buff.

    Every patch seems to remove parts of the game that have outgrown their use and are just annoying now i.e. collecting resources is faster now, mining is just one action to collect all the ore etc.

    I do agree when you say that a player who keeps up their buffs is probably a hallmark of being a better player - but I do think that it's just think that keeping up buffs is just annoying now i.e. I don't feel that I've reached some new level of skill because I have to keep on noticing if the shouts on my warrior are going to expire soon, or that I need to click the horn of the north button on my DK... Or until my last patch, noticing if my seals are up still.

    For anyone who plays a class with short term buffs, it's just another whack a mole part of the game that's tiresome and annoying imho for me, there's signs that Blizzard recognize that the majority of their audiece is not so keen on whack-a-mole i.e. there's even been a few blue posts re. healing being something that they need to take a serious look at....

  10. Slightly Related: While I am finding the 30 minute seals nice, I think it takes a bit of the brain work out of it for me. I think 10 minutes would have sufficed. Now I don't even have to think about my seal. I just throw my judgements into the wind!

  11. I think passive buffs will eventually have no timer attached. I believe that blizzard's new design philosophy is to focus on Gameplay roles; Tanking, DPS, and Healing. So the focus is on the gameplay at hand and eliminate unnecessary prep work before entering combat. In fact it seems that blizzard is trying to spread the buffs out to different classes so that there is redundancy.

    They are also beginning to distinguishing between passive buffs and combat buffs. Combat buffs are typically situational, but with powerful effects and an attached CD. So we will probably see classes get more combat buffs as opposed to passive buffs. For example the Rogue's Tricks of the Trade.

    I think in Vanilla WoW they seriously thought certain classes were pure support classes. As I recall, BoK used to be a 31 pointer in the Retribution Tree. And Warlocks were supposed to be melee fighers too.

  12. > And Warlocks were supposed to be
    > melee fighers too.

    Actually, priests had attack power and armor (and nothing else) on their 2 minute inner fire until their first class review.

  13. Well, it seems to me that you are correct in the fact that remembering buffs *does*, to an extent, differentiate skill, and while I would say that it has its place for buffs like Fort, AI, Blessings, etc, I would suggest that RF is different.

    Why is RF different? Buffs are just that - buffs. They improve your ability to do *anything* (well, provided that they are useful. BoW is always going to be useless to a warrior) within the context of your class. Remembering to put up Fort will not cripple your ability to heal, nor will neglecting AI - you will just be failing to utilize all the advantages your class has to offer.

    Where RF is different is that it defines your *role*. A prot pally without RF active is just dps or heals, and not nearly as good as those actually talented for those roles. With RF active, however, the Pally becomes an actual tank, the same as a Warrior who switches to Defensive stance becomes a tank instead of DPS.

    Does RF *need* to be changed to a stance instead of a buff? Well, the short answer is no. It just means that the pally has to remember to rebuff himself periodically, an annoyance at worst. Neglecting to do so will wipe the group, unless s/he is quick at getting it back up. It's 'buff' status is an annoyance, something else that paladins have to remember to cast after a wipe, or every 25 minutes or so.

    I've seen many posts on an assortment of forums about how Paladins, at times, seem to lack the elegance of class design that warriors benefit from. I think that there is a significant amount of truth to this, because the abilities and talents that warriors have form a wonderful synergy that works, whereas at times Paladins feel like they have been cobbled together over time, lacking that uniformity of purpose, at least in-so-far as tanking is concerned. It is because of this that I want to see this change implemented - I think giving us RF as a stance, rather than as a buff, detracts absolutely NOTHING from the class, and makes our lives easier.

    Thanks for commenting on this topic Rohan.