Sunday, November 10, 2013

Warlords of Draenor: Itemization Changes

Blizzcon has come and gone. Lots of information about the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was released. Let's take a look at some of the changes.  WoD will see a fairly large overhaul of gear. Here's a summary of what's coming.

1. Armor with different primary stats is going away.

There will be no more "Strength" plate or "Intellect" plate armor. Instead, plate armor will have both Strength and Intellect. If you're a Holy paladin, you use the Intellect. If you're a Ret paladin or a warrior, you use the Strength. The same thing will happen with mail and leather (Agility/Intellect gear).  Set gear will use the bonuses for the current spec.

This is a brilliant solution to the Intellect plate problem. It makes armor usable by far more specs. It allows Blizzard to make lots of armor with different combinations of secondary stats. It makes life a bit easier for gearing up secondary specs.

All in all, a superb solution. A veritable Alexander's sword cutting though the Gordian Knot.

2. Hit, Expertise, Dodge, and Parry stats are going away.

Juggling the Hit and Expertise caps has long been an annoying problem. So these stats are being removed. I imagine that special attacks will always hit, while white attacks may have a small miss chance still.

The tanking stats are also being removed. It looks like tanks are going to focus on active mitigation. One thing to note is that it looks like there won't be "tank" armor or "dps" armor. Each spec might be prefer different secondary stats, but it won't be as obvious as it is now.

3. Reforging is being removed.

I called for the removal of reforging (and hit/expertise) back in 2011. I've never liked it. It's been an ugly hack, and I'm glad it's gone.

The only concern is that the differential between the Best-in-Slot piece and the second-best piece will be slightly larger. But everyone chases BiS anyways, and the game got along fine with this gap back in Vanilla/TBC.

4. Tertiary Stats

This seems very vague at the moment, but Blizzard is looking at putting new small unusual stats on items. Maybe things like movement speed increases. Possibly gem sockets will become rarer and less important.

I dunno, I wonder if one of these small stats will be overpowered and then everyone wants it. Somewhat like some procs on current gear. But I guess we'll have to see more concrete items to judge.

5. Item squish

It looks like all the numbers will be reduced in size, by at least an order of magnitude. It seems mostly cosmetic, with assurances that old content will still be soloable.

Concerns - Spirit?

All this looks pretty good. The only concern I have is with Spirit. I don't see how Spirit can go on armor. Since DPS and Tanks get nothing from Spirit, Spirit gear would be automatically tagged as healer gear, and then non-spirit gear is not for healers. This seems to cut against the whole reasoning behind combining armor types. Not much point in getting rid of Intellect plate if Spirit plate takes its place.

But if armor doesn't have Spirit, that means the total Spirit a healer can have is a significantly lower proportion than she has now. So I'm a bit curious as to how Blizzard will handle regen. Maybe they'll just tune mana regen for the lower amount of spirit.

Or possibly this is a signal that the devs are looking to reign in mana regen, and conservation and triage will once again be part of the healer vocabulary. I personally am in favor of this style of play, but it was a large part of the Cataclysm intro dungeon/raid debacle. I am not sure if the community will approve of making mana more important for healers again.


  1. Regarding spirit: A percentage of the armor on the gear will be spirit if you are healer spec. So since higher iLvl have more armor, you'll get more spirit the better gear you have too.

  2. Nooo! My precious Intellect plate! :(

    I'm (mostly) kidding, but it'll be nice to have to not worry about carrying different armor for different roles, assuming the Spirit question is fixed as Miska Tonic suggests.

    Most beef about reforging comes from having to juggle the Hit/Expertise cap, and I know on my Healer who doesn't have to juggle that, I rather enjoy reforging as a way to play with getting more Haste, or Mastery, or Crit. Losing reforging means that if I want to switch to Mastery rather than Haste, I need more gear. Quite likely Working as Intended from Blizzard's point of view, but moderately annoying from my own.

    And as a raid leader, I'm going to have to adjudicate side grades a lot more closely, because if Crit is a useless stat to your class, but Haste is king, a "sidegrade" may end up being nearly as big of an upgrade as an actual upgrade for someone else.

    Overall I think it's a pretty positive set of changes, but I wonder if they're going overboard on making individual items less customizable.

  3. I am one of those people who enjoyed stat juggling and it was one of the main reason for playing RPGs in the first place. However its apparent that Blizzard and majority who plays WoW doesn't seem to enjoy it so I think they should go the whole way and remove stats and just have different types of armour and be done with it! You can get upgrades by way of armour + 1 etc.

  4. Tertiary stats, especially run speed increases, will be VERY important for those classes who spend most of their time in PvP not on a mount: Rogues and Feral Druids.

    All I think Blizz is doing is making the optimization dance just focus on different stats, and is akin to moving deck chairs on the Titanic. The "redoing" of talent trees was supposed to get rid of optimized builds, but it didn't. I don't expect this to change things either.

  5. I wouldn't call it "stat juggling" if the easiest and actually best way is to plug your armory link into a site/calculator, hit one button and reforge/gem/enchant how it tells you.

    I personally don't miss the times I sat there poring over spreadsheets for hours to minmax anything for a game. If there's an optimal way, I am quite happy to use it.

    For healers there *is* at least a debate about INT vs SPI or something, but as a dps I don't see a point deliberately using a sub-optimal lineup, unless my playstyle is that much different from the norm - it usually isn't.

  6. Lost Forever has a point, aren't we pleasing exactly no-one at this point.

    I ignored Vanilla because I was playing D2 and WoW didn't have enough stats. I came to regret it of course. How far we've all come.

    Path of Exile is the last refuge of the number cruncher.

  7. The "redoing" of talent trees was supposed to get rid of optimized builds, but it didn't. I don't expect this to change things either.

    It did, Talents are now situational. I know I change mine often enough, at least compared to before, when it was one time per expansion....

  8. As an Assassination Rogue I don't change them - at all.
    The only thing I did change was a single glyph for one fight, back when we didn't have it on farm. (Smoke Bomb for Thok).

  9. @armagon

    Yes these site/calculator will tell you what is the "optimal" set up is but you still need to acquire the right gear to get the "optimal" set up. So more stats they remove less gear you need acquire in order to reach "optimal". My point is knowing the "optimal" set up does not invalidate the fun of stat juggling and acquiring gear.

  10. Spirit could be moved to talents or specialization. Consider the example: at level 10, paladin has to choose specialization. The choices are:
    1) Holy tree. You get all your Strength on gear converted to Spirit + all usual Holy specials;
    2) Protection tree. You get all your Intellect on gear converted to Stamina + all usual Prot specials;
    3) Retribution tree. You get all your Intellect on gear converted to Strength + all Ret specials.

    Or maybe 90% conversion, to leave some mana for tanking/DPSing and some AP for judging.

  11. From a Blizzcon slide, "Jewelry, cloak, trinkets, and weapons will be more role focused..." I think these items are where you'll see Spirit for healers, armor for tanks, etc.

    With fewer gem sockets and no more socket bonuses, I'm hoping that it will make switching specs/roles much smoother. I can remember carrying 3 full gears sets for my druid back in BC...

  12. Piper's right, they specifically mentioned in one of the talks that cloaks, rings, necks and trinkets would be role-focused and healer ones would have spirit.

  13. @Electrolux: Path of Exile is NOT the last refuge of the number cruncher. May I direct you to Spreadsheets in Space, more commonly known as EVE Online?