Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Overlapping Offensive Cooldowns

Should offensive cooldowns stack?

Right now, there is a common complaint in Retribution Paladin circles that Ret burst dps is too high, while Ret sustained dps is too low. One of the major reasons this happens is that Ret can combine at least 3 strong offensive cooldowns together (and then trinkets, potions, etc.). There is a short 20-second window when the burst dps is very high indeed.

As a general rule of thumb, you always want to stack offensive cooldowns together. This is because subsequent cooldowns magnify the effect of the previous cooldowns.

As a simple example, say you do a baseline of 100 dps. Cooldown A increases damage by 20% for 10s, and Cooldown B increases damage by 30% for 10s.  If we take a 20s window, we have:

Situation A: Stacking Cooldowns
[10s * 100 d/s * 1.20 * 1.30] + [10s * 100 d/s] = 1560 d + 1000 d = 2560 damage
Situation B: Non-Overlapping Cooldowns

[10s * 100 d/s * 1.30] + [10s * 100 d/s * 1.20] = 1300 d + 1200 d = 2500 damage
Stacking cooldowns gives more damage.[1]  Notice that stacking cooldowns also greatly increases the burst. Situation A has a window where the player is doing 156 dps, while in Situation B, the player maxes out at 130 dps. The "burst" dps is much closer to baseline dps.

Burst damage has always been a problem in WoW, especially in PvP. Blizzard is constantly making adjustments to reduce burst. As well, it generally contributes to an "unfun" feeling of play. 10% of the time, you're a god. 90% of the time, you're weak. An opposing player that runs into that 10% buzzsaw is going to be very unhappy. On the other hand, getting stunned or otherwise prevented from acting during your 10% window is devastating to you.

Perhaps a blanket rule that an offensive cooldown cannot be used while another offensive cooldown is active would go a long way to smoothing out gameplay. This would include things like on-use trinkets and potions, which you can control, but not uncontrollable procs. You'd probably also have to exempt Bloodlust, since trying to coordinate the entire raid would probably be a little excessive. And admittedly, saving one of your cooldowns for Bloodlust is a little bit of good gameplay.

It would also ease designing offensive cooldowns. The designers wouldn't have to worry about the combination of cooldowns, they would only need to consider base rotation/damage plus cooldown. Adding new offensive cooldowns, or shortening existing cooldown timers would become less dangerous, and more predictable, than it is currently.

All in all, I think a blanket rule preventing offensive cooldowns from overlapping would go a long way to smoothing out some of the gameplay and balance problems in WoW.

1. Excepting edge cases that generally involve hitting the haste hard cap with Bloodlust.


  1. Frar of Argent Dawn6:19 AM, February 07, 2013

    I see an issue here if you have two (or more) cooldowns with the same length. One of those cooldowns will likely be better than the other(s). This would likely negate ever wanting or needing to use those "lesser" cooldowns, since using your "better" cooldown would lock out the ability to use any other offensive cooldown.

    By having stacking cooldowns, you can have additional skills to use at different times. Yes, it can lead to burst, but the alternative could be having abilities that never get used, because there is the one better ability.

  2. Why would you not use the lesser cooldown after the greater one has finished? I.e. Guardian of Ancient Kings is up for 30s. After it finishes, you pop Avenger's Wrath for the next 20s. After that finishes, you can pop a trinket for the next 20s.

    The only time a cooldown would get squeezed out is if you had enough different cds to have a cd running all the time, which is unlikely.

  3. Back in Vanilla, they changed it so you couldn't use two on-use trinkets at once, to stop mages one shotting people with instant pyroblasts. I think that rule still holds. It would seem sensible, if the rule is sensible, to extend it to class cooldowns as well, but it would annoy people who like to stack cooldowns. Maybe a better solution is to reduce the number of cooldowns available?

  4. The problem is that you are causing problems for other specs in order to make Ret "interesting". As a healer you need ro be able to stack or space cooldowns depending on the fight - spikey damage versus constant damage. Tanks might need to stack CDs to get large amounts of threat quickly.

    Are you going to stop proc trinkets from working? People could use those and activated trinkets would fall out of favour - it would be quite easy to sync CDs with an activated proc. One of the talent levels lets you choose between a CD and random procs. The whole tier would need recalculation, because random procs would become better as they can happen during a period of awesomeness.

    I can see this has potential for PVP, but it would be terrible for PVE and require a lot of class rebalancing to get the numbers right to boot. I would hate to see this go in as a change to both PVP and PVE, expecially mid-expansion cycle - it is too big a change for all players to occur unless it is part of an expansion gameplay revamp.

  5. Might be a good idea to put all burst CD's on a shared 10-20 sec CD. This way there could be some overlap, but no more Swift macros.

  6. The problem with non-stackable CDs is simple.

    Instead of using them together for a single massive boost, you end up stringing them out one at a time and what was a burst mechanic instead becomes a clumsy way to maintain sustained DPS.

    The former is probably a better way to use CDs. That still leaves Ret with a burst DPS problem....and the simple solution is to remove one DPS CD.

    Other solutions would be to redesign some CDs to work in mutually exclusive ways, or in ways which don't affect PvP - e.g. Damage from Avenging Wrath doesn't affect players or using one CD mitigates another.

    One example I saw recently that I liked was AW used in conjunction with GAnK didn't result in a damage boost....but in a transformation with flight capability.