Coming fresh on the heels of the Rage normalization news, comes this little tidbit in the heart of the Priest class revamp teaser.

Divine Spirit and Prayer of Spirit will be removed from the game. As Spirit will be the primary mana-regeneration stat, we don’t want it to vary as much between solo, small group, and raid play. Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild will not boost Spirit either.

Mana will be a bigger consideration for all healers. We aren’t trying to make healing more painful; we’re trying to make it more fun. When the cost of a spell isn’t an issue, then casting the right spell for the job is less of an issue because you might as well just use your most powerful spell all of the time. We are, however, getting rid of the five-second rule, because we don’t want to encourage standing around doing nothing. We’re also going to cut back on the benefits of buffs such as Replenishment so priests (and all healers) don’t feel as penalized when those buffs aren’t available.

So.

There is one core point that needs to be kept in mind when talking about the consequences of any announcement, this or any other one.

This is not the only mechanic change. We cannot claim to know what the results of this change will be, when we have no idea what other changes will occur to the demands on our healing capacity.

Maybe tanks will take more predictable, less spiky damage overall, meaning that Healers will be able to control Mana useage better, plan their heals a little more, pick and choose.

After all, how much healing has to be done is directly affected by the tank and by the content design.

There was also an announcement in the Shaman class teaser that Cleansing Totem is pretty much going bye-bye, because they don’t want anyone to be able to remove a problem DoT or debuff without having to, basically, blow a GCD and use a keypress each time.

Now, that Totem change could irritate a lot of people if the announcement is dropped point blank. Oh wait, it was.

But again, the core principle; we don’t know what else is changing.

If we look at the Poison-heavy nature of some fights right now and read that, it may make us wince. But how do we know upcoming raid encouters will also require frequent Poison cleansing against raid-wide damage?

Maybe, to go along with the Totem change (and the buff/debuff removal changes to all classes), they are going to be designing encounters that only make minimal, ‘nuisance’ style use of Poisons or Curses or Diseases?

We don’t know.

Remember how often we used to get Feared in Burning Crusade? There were bosses that used Fear, even on the tanks, and being able to remove that Fear was restricted to a Priest’s one shot Fear Ward (on a cooldown that prevented it from working on every Fear) or a Shaman’s Tremor Totem?

Having a Shaman along for doing the balcony dragon in Karazhan dramatically changed that fight, didn’t it?

“Priest one, you use Fear Ward on main tank for first Fear, Priest two you use yours when Priest one’s is on cooldown.”

Well, if you are a developer, and you don’t want the Priests having to do that, but you don’t want people screaming because you took away their Fear Ward, then you can always just… stop using the Fear mechanic in the future, right?

Then they announced that Druids were going to get Berserk, a spell that we could pop even while feared, that not only gave us Mangle spam but also made us immune to Fear for the duration of Berserk.

“Ahhh”, us Bears chortled, “Now I can break my own Fear! I am EEENNVEEENCIBLE!”

Along came Wrath.

I get to use Berserk to break Fear in Drak’theron Keep a few times (King Dred, the idiot trash just before the end boss), I get to use it on the Onyxia encounter (which technically is a vanilla WoW mechanic), I get to use it on the Fear during phase 2 of Trial of the Champions on nightmares to break that one… hmm, what else? Help me out here, there’s got to be more than that.

Still, point made. Berserk breaking Fear? Not a big PvE crisis. PvP players I’m sure rejoice and do the Bear dancin while singing Koombaya down Dalaran’s main drag.

There are a lot more Stuns in the game now though, moments when you are immobilized and can simply do nothing, watching in irritation as the mobs whack the casters and you can do nothing about it. So, yes it’s nice to be able to pop Berserk, but they also seem to have designed encounters afterwards that reduce how often having Berserk makes any difference at all.

So. Now you know why, no matter what they announce, I’m not going to run around screaming “Omigod they like just totally nerfed us all and healing’s gonna suck and we’re all going to die and this sucks, man, this sucks, game over man, game over.”

Nope.

But what I will acknowledge is that the game is undergoing more than a surface change. It’s more than a bit of polish, a new coat of paint, a few balancing tweaks and some adjustments.

This is Extreme Makeover: WoW Edition.

The game truly will not be the same as what you are playing now, as defined by the following; how you play your class, how your class works, and the tools you have learned to use will not work the same way in Cataclysm.

So, making a fuss over any minor adjustment is ridiculous.

“Hey, we’re removing Feral Faerie Fire.”

Okay. So… [monotone voice] omigod thats not fair, we use that a lot, that plus Maul will kill initial threat, omigod?

No, because we have no idea what else they’re doing

Oh, and no, they didn’t say FFF is gone. That was just a silly example.

I look at the Spirit changes I quoted from the Priest teaser above, the removal of Spirit buffs from our spells, our consumables, and I don’t think “Wow, we’re hosed, healing is gonna suck, I’m gonna be OOM all the time.”

Maybe healing will suck, and maybe it won’t. Maybe we’ll be OOM lots because our Mana will be nerfed but Tanks will take more damage than before and we’ll have no choice but to spam until they figure out where the balancing point is, the happy median.

The scope of changes they’re planning to make, the sweeping changes to a tried and tested and understood system make me wince. It’s gonna be a whole new ball game. It’s… ambitious. Hey, look, first time I can recall where I can legitimately use the cliched phrase ‘an ambitious undertaking’.

What their statement does accomplish, is it leaves me feeling that we as players will in the future only be allowed to buff things that don’t matter in order to make their task of balancing the challenges easier.

Yes, that is cynical as all heck. I know.

But that’s what I took away from it.

Spirit is going to be very important. All Mana regen will be based on Spirit. So, we don’t want you, the player, being able to adjust your Spirit unless we say it’s okay, and then only in carefully controlled situations. If one person can’t have the buff, then nobody can have it, so there. We’re going to remove everything we ever gave you for your specific class in the past that let you buff yourself and others to intelligently prepare for encounters, because Spirit is actually important now, and it’s just not fair that everyone can’t have the same buffs all the time.

That’s an interesting attitude to take on game stats.

Yes, clearly this shows a very strong dedication to the stated principle, “Bring the player not the class.”

The question that then inevitably gets raised is, how do you make sure that you don’t get one of every class to get all the buffs, without removing all unique buffs entirely, so that Tanks get one buff, DPS all get one buff, and Healers get their one?

Is that where we’re heading? That all DPS specs get one or two buffs they can provide that all overwrite each other, and Tanks do the same, and Healers, as well?

Will we eventually get to where you’ve got two raids, one with a Feral Druid Tank, a Shaman Healer and 8 Hunters, and the other raid has a Paladin Tank, Priest Healer, 2 Retribution Paladins, 2 Enhancement Shamans, a Shadow Priest, a Hunter, a Warlock and a Frost Mage, and both raids have the exact same buffs active?

It does seem to indicate to me that the intention is to have each role of a class, Healer, Tank and DPS, be able to fulfill the exact same functions and provide the exact same benefits and support as every other class that has the same role.

So, every tank should be able to have the same tools to handle the same issues as every other tank. Will we see a ranged Silence on Friday’s announcement? Or will we see other tanks lose their Silence?

Will it even matter, if they stop designing encounters which require you to pull together both melee and caster targets into the same tight group?

Not so long ago, I wrote a few posts that compared the playstyles of Bears and Paladins, and I applauded Blizzard’s developers for making two classes that were able to effectively fulfill the same role, but allow each to do so with a very different feel. A completely different technique.

Now I have to wonder… is that considered a mistake by the developers? Do they feel that each tank should feel interchangeable in playstyle? That the Bear is too simple, and the Paladin is too complex, but the Warrior is just right, and they don’t know what the hell they’re doing with Death Knights?

I don’t know. I do know that the tone of the Cleansing Totem change was kinda funky, to me.

Like, “We don’t want you to just remove Poisons automatically without having to make a decision, you’re supposed to have input in your Poison and debuff removals.”

Well, good Lord, it’s not like we made you add Cleansing Totems to the game because we’re freaking lazy, you know? YOU added them! YOU dreamed them up and coded them in the first place! We just took the mechanic that YOU clearly thought was a good idea at the time, and USED it.

Totems. You know, those things that are just like what other classes can do, but can’t move? I kinda thought the Totem mechanic was meant to give Shamans a choice… “You can use 1 Fire, 1 Water, 1 Air and 1 Earth Totem at a time. And they don’t move with you. So, you want to prevent Fear from driving the group nuts? Then you lose your massive Strength and Agility buff. YOU choose. And make sure you drop the Totem within range.”

Seemed to make sense to me. Greater price in terms of managing and intelligent decision making means we get more reward, in terms of more powerful buffs or greater effects. Having to hustle to get the Totem within range, all of that.

It’s not what affect the changes are going to have on the gameplay that I am at all worried about, concerned with, whatever you want to call it.

It’s the philosophy, the mentality that informs these decisions. It is the direction that they see in the future, the destination towards which they are driving us.

The Developers are spending enormous resources in time and money on making all of these changes.

Yes, sometimes you do that just so you can say you’re doing it, making the game change to keep it feeling fresh and new and keeping it a learning experience for jaded gamers.

But these are big changes. Sweeping changes. And they’re not doing it without having an eventual goal in mind of where they eventually want the game to be when they’re done.

That goal is what I’m feeling like we’re getting glimpses of. A goal of where they know they want the game to be, but we don’t, not really.

Here’s a thought. It’s just a thought, but it might help remind people to step back and see WoW for what it is; a video game developed and maintained by a company that has more than one product line in development.

Blizzard, as a company, has been maintaining WoW for many years now. But we also know that a new MMO is currently being developed.

Is one of their current goals in the design studio a plan to bring WoW to a place where it is easier to manage and balance and maintain, so more resources will be freed up, more programmer and developer and planner time will be available to divert to the new MMO as it gets closer to the next stage?

Now, a countervailing thought. 

If that was one of your goals, would you really be putting so much into a huge new expansion that revamps the whole world? Would you really be tooling up for a massive relaunch in Cataclysm at the same time as you were smoothing out complexity?

Possibly. You might want to bring out one last huge bang that brings everything up to your gold standard and sets everything into one consistent rule set from start to finish before you cut folks loose on the new MMO, and leave WoW to coast on a maintenance schedule.

It’s possible, but I don’t think so. They are making things simpler in terms of mechanics, and smoothing out class differences, but at the same time they are pouring massive investment into a world revision, and it feels more like trying to freshen everything up for a major reinvestment, not eventual abandonment.

I’m trying not to make any assumptions… but I would like a clearer picture of what they see, when the developers imagine the game as they think it should be in a ‘polished and ready’ state.

Oh, and bearwall outgoing!

15 Responses to “Healer OOM! Just kidding.”
  1. Saniel says:

    Actually, there was a blue post somewhere (although damn if I can find it now) that said they want to give all healer classes a magic debuff dispell because they want to make sure all you-must-get-rid-of-this-debuff fight mechanics to revolve around that, letting you bring the player, not the class. Poisons, diseases, and curses will still appear in PvE mechanics and being able to get rid of them will be helpful, but not essential to completing the encounter.
    .-= Saniel´s last blog ..Monthly Moderation =-.

  2. Kattrinsaa says:

    I seem to remember something along those lines recently, something like each healing class will be able to clean 3 of the 5 types of effects, (poison, curse, off magic on enemy, def magic on enemy, magic debuff on player) i think..
    .-= Kattrinsaa´s last blog ..The Dark Emitting Diode =-.

  3. Wow, that’s an interesting take on it and my brain is running down all sorts of rabbit trails to different ways of seeing that.

    Although, one thought I do have is that to a certain degree, the more they change things so that you don’t necessarily have to have XYZ class, the more it allows them to grant more interesting mechanics to fights and playstyle is based more on skill than it is class.

    But then again, I can see where your darker thoughts are going with it too…
    .-= Feral Instincts´s last blog ..The Potential Impact on Haste Changes to Kitties. =-.

  4. Saniel says:

    Found it!

    We want to stress yet again that one of our goals behind these changes was to help us design 5-player dungeons and 10-player raids. Currently having the ability to remove, say, a poison or disease can make an encounter go from challenging to easy, yet not every group has those abilities. With this new matrix, the encounter designers can make anything that must be dispelled a magical effect, while curses, poisons or diseases would be in the category of helping you win, but not an instant wipe if you lose. In 25-player raids, we have more flexibility to ask you to dispel more types of effects.

    .-= Saniel´s last blog ..Monthly Moderation =-.

  5. Malphailuron says:

    Devs, WoW.com, and just about everybody else keeps talking about how Cataclysm will CHANGE EVERYTHING!! Class mechanics, guilds, PVP, the world itself!

    You’ve mentioned here that we can’t consider any one facet of these changes in isolation.

    I’m extremely leery of increasing homogenization (something we’ve seen a lot of in Wrath) and simplification. But for my part, I’ll wait for the reappearance of my XP bar before I pass any judgments. Until then, we still have a good chunk of Northrend to beat down.

  6. Ateve says:

    You’re pretty spot on, people are still just seeing pieces of the changes and trying to apply it to current game and therefore seeing massive flaws. Chances are these flaws won’t be there when the complete picture is known.

    On the decursing/dispelling, they want to reinforce healers making decisions on what spell they cast. Basically they are going to make the healers think “Whats better use of mana/time, removing the debuff or just healing through it”. I’d almost compare it to PvP fighting a lock with UA, is it worth having to heal through it (and the other dots) or do you take the silence/burst dmg which will allow your other healers to finish stripping the dots and heal you up? In these situations dispells are a proactive heal.

    As other ppl mentioned they stated that most raid debuffs will be magic and all healers can remove magic, so I expect the analogy you used to Bezerk and Fear will be a really good one, Shammies who are freaking out over not being able to remove Poisons and Diseases are going to find that they probably will never need to anyway.

  7. @Ateve I agree wholeheartedly. I just feel for “lore feel” they got it mixed up. To me, what makes more sense is Pallies being able to cleanse disease and offensive magic, which seem to fit more play kit and Shammies able to clean poison and curses. It’s not a huge deal at all, but that small switch, at least in my brain fit the character types more. But maybe that’s just me.
    .-= Feral Instincts´s last blog ..The Potential Impact on Haste Changes to Kitties. =-.

  8. scaresome says:

    Feared by the Commander in Nexus.
    Feared down those broken stairs before the last boss in UP
    Kinda feared (dust in eyes) in Pit of Saron
    Feared in HoL by the statue guys who break out.
    Feared in ToC, as you mentioned
    Feared by last boss in Gundrak (or am I only remembering getting impaled)
    Feared by first boss in HoR

    All I can think of right now!

  9. Tesh says:

    They are “fundamentally transforming the World of Warcraft”, riding the wave of history, promising the hope of equality among the classes.

    Time will tell where the pieces settle, but you can be certain The Powers That Be are up to something.
    .-= Tesh´s last blog ..Wading Into Live =-.

  10. Nimizar says:

    BBB, as others have noted, the Cleansing Totem change wasn’t just dropped in the middle of the Shaman preview – it was announced as part of the big dispel changes post that went up shortly after the rage normalisation one.

    One fairly significant philosophy change they have mentioned (and GC has acknowledged as a change in design philosophy) for Cataclysm is that they’re moving away from healing niches (similar to the way they moved away from tanking niches in Wrath). So it is healers that can expect to see the most normalisation relative to Wrath.

    As far as raid buffs go, they’re continuing the trend they started in Wrath, such that the aggregate effect of multiple raid buffs will still lead to significantly greater synergy in 25 man raids than occurs in 10-man raids or 5-man dungeons, but missing any single such buff (such as the major armour debuff provided by Sunder Armour and its equivalents) is less crippling than it is now. In Wrath, they could let the relative uniqueness of the Spirit buffs slide, because they simply didn’t make all that much difference. They were nice to have, but not crippling if missing. For the specific case of regen in Cataclysm, they’re going to have a tough enough time balancing regen such that mana is something healers have to care about without making it too punishing, that I can understand them not wanting to have to deal with wildly varying regen levels based on group composition.

    And on the Fear front: what made Fear breaks far less essential was actually the change they made to the underlying interaction between Fear and aggro. These days, the boss continues to follow its aggro table, even if the current aggro target is feared and other raid members are not. Prior to Wrath, it didn’t work that way, to the extent that taking fear resist talents in PvE healer specs was a bad idea, since a resisted fear would lead to a dead healer.

  11. Nimizar says:

    @Feral Instincts: oh, the QQ that would be heard if you tried to take Purge away from shaman :)

    From a lore point of view, you can actually make a pretty good case that all 4 healing classes should be able to dispel everything, so lore based arguments don’t actually help much in this case. As it is, they seem to have made the decision that they wanted to keep Purge (shaman) and Dispel Magic/Mass Dispel (priest) and gone from there in assigning the cleansing capabilities. Given some of their other comments, I wouldn’t be surprised if Purge gets the Dispel Magic treatment and is allowed to target both friendly or enemy targets (dispelling debuffs and buffs respectively).

  12. Ngita says:

    Oh I have no doubt their will be some massive changes with large side effects in the short term. But they don’t hate healers and while beta and 4.0 might be painful it will be sorted out in the end. Player behavior and understanding especially as it applies to classes they don’t play tends to be the slowest to adjust.It took 6 months before players stopped asking for salv and to this day people seem to think that if a level 5x in blues cant heal/tank as well as a level 80 in raid epics it means the player sucks.

  13. Jb says:

    Why these changes ? Pretty simple answer imo. “its all about the money, dum du dum dum…” ( song lyric )
    First, dumbing down the game, or simplyifying it, has been going on for some time now. Makes it more accessibble for more people —-> more customers/income
    Second, random raid cross server is comming and smoothing out differenses between classes wil make this tool alot smoother ( Im not a progmammer, but just guessing here ). The possibility to access raid at your leasure, without joining a guild or having to adjust to a common time table will possibly bring more people or at least make it eazier to hold on to the existing ones—> more income
    And yes third, lowering the bar of maintance and development for further patches migt also bring down the cost of this–> more profit for less invested.
    As hard as it is to admit it, a billion dollar industry is bound to be a slave of the dollar to some degree.

  14. @Nimizar They’ve pretty much said that each class gets 2 “decurses,” I would think that it wouldn’t happen to Purge, because, to me that sounds like Shammies getting a fourth “decurse,” offensive magic. But maybe I’m misunderstanding something.
    .-= Feral Instincts´s last blog ..The Potential Impact on Haste Changes to Kitties. =-.

  15. Corwyn says:

    “Well, if you are a developer, and you don’t want the Priests having to do that, but you don’t want people screaming because you took away their Fear Ward, then you can always just… stop using the Fear mechanic in the future, right?”

    …And remove it from existing content.

    Unless Blizzard is going to make another bunch of content unplayable as designed (at player and gear level) changing only new content and player abilities will make the game more speed leveling, and end game raiding only.

    I am leveling a hunter and trying to run every instance at level, many of them I have never seen before. I am having a great time, and hope that Blizzard won’t make impractical.

    ***

    I see claims that everything will work out fine: I am sure the number of times it hasn’t worked out fine can be recited by anyone who has been playing a long time. If blizzard is changing enough that we are basically back at square one in terms of balance etc. then either we will have a lot of subsequent changes as things are fixed, or we need to believe that Blizzard has newly acquired leet balancing skills. If you see things which you, in a broad overview, think aren’t going to work, or aren’t going to be fun, now is the time to make that known. Don’t however get bogged down with details of exact meshing of changes with how things currently work. You also might keep your eye out for things which make the inevitable balancing harder (or easier).

    Thank You Kindly.

  16.  

World of Warcraft™ and Blizzard Entertainment® are all trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and/or other countries. These terms and all related materials, logos, and images are copyright © Blizzard Entertainment. This site is in no way associated with Blizzard Entertainment®