Friday, April 04, 2014

Warlords Alpha Patch Notes

Blizzard released the Alpha patch notes for Warlords of Draenor, yesterday.

There are lots of changes. In particular, they are ruthlessly purging a lot of abilities. They also look to be separating out the specializations a bit more, with more abilities become specialization-specific upgrades.

Crowd control is getting significantly scaled back, with many CC abilities getting the axe. Healing is seeing a large reduction in instant spells and smart heals. Some cooldowns and debuffs are being combined with others into fewer abilities.

There aren't really a lot of paladin-specific changes, though, other than the above. It looks like the paladin will be more or less the same as it was it in Mists.

I do like the change to Major Glyphs. Getting a few default ones while leveling will make using glyphs so much easier when making a new character.

Really, there's so many changes in these notes that it is somewhat overwhelming. It might be better to just read through them and let them digest for a couple of days.


  1. I'm liking what I've read so far (not much) and I'm going through it all to blog about myself.

    Glad we've finally got a big chunk of solid info to get our teeth into.

  2. It's a new patch. Blizz can't help but make some major changes.

    In other news, the sun rose today.

    Sorry, I shouldn't be so flippant, but it's pretty damn pathetic when SWTOR is more stable at class abilities than WoW is. You'd think that a game that has been around for over a decade wouldn't feel the need to completely revamp significant numbers of classes with each expac, but they do.

    I did guess correctly in that Hunters are getting some big thwacks in abilities, so I'm glad I didn't consider a Hunter for my next class to play.

  3. Eh? TOR had some major changes in Hutt Cartel. As a Marksmanship Sniper, my rotation completely changed. The talent trees were all revamped.

    Just recently, they revamped Assassin tanks, completely changing how they work.

    Not to mention the "nerf Orbital Strike by 63%" which happened recently.

  4. I think, as well, you may be looking at it the wrong way.

    WoW doesn't change so much at expansion times because it's unstable. It changes so much at expansion times because of it's stability.

    What I mean is pretty simple. If you look at patches within an expansion, you tend to see just re-balances of existing abilities. They'll tune numbers here and there, and make some abilities more appealing then others, but very rarely will they ever just straight up add or remove abilities. Blizz is pretty consistent about wanting to keep rotations relatively consistent within an expansion, to keep people from feeling whiplash from patch to patch.

    However, this stability means they have very little room for change. If during an expansion they see that players are engaging in ways they don't think are good for the game, their only real options are to change numbers.

    To use an example from the 6.0 patch notes, you'll see that Blizz is getting rid of a lot of instant cast abilities. Instant cast abilities were added to give players options during movement fights, and movement fights were added in order to continue to challenge players who were already capping out on their ability to overheal the party.

    Blizz has always said they've wanted healing to be far less whack-a-mole, in that the only real states that a player will exist in are full health or dead. You'll notice that most existing content is built around that idea; bosses have attacks and abilities that will either straight up kill you, or you'll be back to full in a moment anyway, so it's just an annoyance for the healer. In fights like that, the only challenges are to 1) Do constant damage to the whole raid, 2) Make healers move all the time, or 3) Make how healing works for that fight different.

    So, if Blizz redesigns healing so that heals cost relatively more, heal relatively less, and players have relatively more HP, they can design fights that do more then just kill players instantly; if, let's just say, the default heal will recover roughly 20% of a player's HP, then there can be more situations where healers will triage instead of just topping everyone off without thinking about it.

    If players can be in various states of injured without necessarily always being in the risk of dying, then they don't always need to be moving to avoid killshots. They should dodge attacks to save the healer's mana, but if they get hit it's not going to end them. This means that healers also don't need to be constantly moving, which means they don't need to have abilities that they use on the move. They now have to make decisions whether to avoid an attack and save some MP, or to finish this cast. And it's a choice that can actually have nuance in it, instead of it being "I must dodge, because I'll die if I don't, always. And I can overheal that guy anyway on the way."

    As a result, by removing the need to heal (or DPS) on the move, Blizz streamlines the rotations and cast bars, while increasing the potential design complexity of future content. And they couldn't do that large of a change in the middle of an expansion, because it would not only annoy players who need to learn something so large right in the middle of their progression, but it also would require them to massively rebuild all previous content in order to be balanced with the new design.

  5. (Huh, I didn't think there was a 4k limit on comment sizes)

    In a way, I think FF14 did a mechanic not too dissimilar from what Blizz is going to try to do in WoD. In 14, there are very few abilities that are used off-GCD, very few "instant casts" (generally only melee attacks), and the GCD is pretty long. All this combines with enemies that have fairly slow swing timers, and don't always deal crushing damage on every attack. A tank may only lose 20~30% of their life on a "big" attack, while my heal may only recover 10% of their HP. Players are frequently in various states of life, and I rarely feel like they're just seconds away from perishing. It makes the healing game very interesting, since I have a lot more to consider.

  6. The glyph changes will mean the end of inscription as a moneymaking profession, in my opinion. It'll soon be time for me to put my scribe into a blender.

  7. The "lost" glyphs will be replaced with new ones for new abilities, which means it doesn't do anything to change the base mechanics of the profession; inscripting has always been a profession based on selling things players only need once.

  8. Rohan, I'm fine with saying that Rise of the Hutt Cartel made some major changes, but Bioware didn't get rid of the basic concepts in game (such as talent trees) either. Also, I'm assuming that the changes in Rise of the Hutt Cartel are more of the one-shot variety of changes which make sense after a bit over a year of the game being out. Now, if the successor to Rise comes out and they do the same thing, then I'll shut up, but it sure seems like Bioware just left well enough alone once the major changes were finished.

    Blizz, however, seems to be in a constant state of reinventing itself. I'm starting to wonder if it has less to do with maintaining balance and more to do with creating busy work. Blizz is making changes just because they can't decide what classes should do.

  9. I thought the whole point of the changes in WoD was to simplify things.

    Taking away instant and smart heals, to me, doesn't gel with that philosophy. /confused