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.
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.”
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!