Archive for the 'Blizzard' Category

08
Dec
09

3.3 this week

And it’s official, being spouted from every news site on the internet: patch 3.3 will hit this week as expected.

New bits of kit, a whole new tier of epics, new encounters, a new grouping interface…there certainly seems to be plenty of stuff to do in this the last major patch of Wrath. Of course, it’ll be a while until we get to face off with Arthas in the Citadel yet due to the gating of the instance.

Warriors need not look much at the patch notes though. There are no fury related updates at all. Either that means that Blizzard are happy with us the way we are now, or that they haven’t yet managed to solve whatever is wrong.

The T10 set bonuses are as follows:

  • (2) Set: When your Deep Wounds ability deals damage you have a 3% chance to gain 16% attack power for 10 sec.
  • (4) Set: You have a 20% chance for your Bloodsurge and Sudden Death talents to grant 2 charges of their effect instead of 1, reduce the global cooldown on Execute or Slam by 0.5 sec, and for the duration of the effect to be increased by 100%.

A simple one, and a not-so-simple one, and quite possibly one of the more interesting set bonuses we’ve seen in a long time. More on that one later though. For now, 3.3 is coming. Bring on the patch day mayhem.

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17
Jul
09

Warrior Q&A answer time! Or possibly not

The wait is at an end! Blizzard have posted the warrior Q&A, hot on the heels of the druid one. I was actually a tad surprised that they posted it so quickly after the druid one, but ours is not to reason why.

So, where to start? Despite the naysayers and doom-hollerers, there is information stashed away in the Q&A (on occasion very well hidden). While it’s true that our favourite crab monster does a brilliant job of being evasive about certain issues (which, honestly, is no new thing), it’s also true that he gives some nice general view on where Blizz see warriors going. The key word here is: general. People looking for detailed answers about issue X, Y, or Z…well, did you seriously expect to get those answers? I didn’t.

Anyway, let’s get on with it then. In the following I’ll be quoting quite a bit from the original post, but if you want to read it yourself, hop over to the forums. As said, the Q&A covers a lot of ground, and quite a bit of it more than once.

First of all, I’d like to point everybody to the relatively innocuous paragraph:

One of the things we want to do in the future is take a hard look at the Arms and Fury trees. There are several talents which just haven’t weathered the course of time well and pale in comparison to some of the newer Wrath of the Lich King talents.

Can it be? Are they going to finally give us an overhaul, what nearly every fury has been silently praying for? It appears so, although not likely before the next expansion. No guarantee of changes for the better mind you, but its still better than nothing.

The glorious past

The Q&A starts off with a quick look at the past of the warrior. While it might not seem very relevant now, it’s still worth remembering the origins of the class, or as the crab monster puts it:

Arms is supposed to be about weapons and martial training and feel “soldierly.” Fury is supposed to be about screaming barbarians in woad.

This was the reason I rolled a fury warrior rather than an arms warrior. I wanted a savage, rage filled character. With the massive changes to the trees since then, starting with the swapping of Death Wish and Sweeping Strikes, Blizzard slowly diluted that distinction. You can of course argue that it’s still there to a large extent, but with TG, the playstyle of fury has slowed perceptibly down. We are no longer the viciously and violently hacking and slashing barbarians we once were. If we compare with Age of Conan, the Barbarian and the Conqueror have distinctly different feels. I’m not saying WoW needs such a distinct split, but it would be nice if it were more tangible.

Also a thing of the past: the notion of arms being PVP and fury being PVE. It still spooks around from time to time, but it’s very much less visible these days. Ghostcrawler comments on it:

We understand some players prefer that model, but we don’t like the way it cuts off such a big chunk of the class from players who might not have much interest in the PvP or PvE parts of the game.

We have lost our PVP tree. And we’re not getting it back. Is that a good or bad thing? While I don’t PVP much, and generally couldn’t care less whether arms was the PVP tree (sorry, but there you go, honesty for you), I think it’s a good thing. If you like the way a tree plays out, you shouldn’t be forced to do bugger all damage just because your favoured tree is “the PVP tree”. On the other hand, I’m not sure I want to see 3 tank-viable warrior trees, or 3 equally PVP viable trees, just to preserve the choice. If Blizzard want to integrated PVP into all the trees, they need to do it in a way that doesn’t make PVE suffer. This could possibly be by having distinct PVP and PVE talents. If done properly, it would address many of the problems that arise from talents being nerfed to the ground in one, because they’re otherwise overpowered in the other department. Let’s have trees that are viable for both, but talents that aren’t.

Rage

Rage is what makes our class unique. Period. That and stances. To quote Ghostcrawler:

Other than warriors, only bear druids use the rage mechanic, and that is pretty much just because that form is intended to mimic warriors. Rage is an unusual resource because it is infinite over the course of minutes, but can be very limiting over the course of seconds. While the basic mechanic of rage is interesting, it has caused us lots of balance problems over the course of World of Warcraft — sometimes in the favor of the warrior and sometimes not. It’s probably time to give the mechanic another look.

Did you hear that? Rage might change! Boohoo, more nerfs! Or perhaps not. Let’s hold judgement and look a bit further down the Q&A:

It could be in the future that we shift most of rage generation to damage done and have little or none in damage taken (and we would have to change a lot of other mechanics to make this work obviously).

Now, long-term we need a better solution to rage generation. Tying it to damage done is logical in the theoretical world of game design, but has problems in reality. When your gear sucks, you have rage problems. When you have great gear, you are no longer limited by rage. That’s just not a great model, and one of the reasons warriors are overly gear dependent.

So what is the future for rage? It’ll continue to be a pain in the behind for both Blizzard and us for quite a while. Ghostcrawler says it quite plainly: it’s a quite huge change. If they change it too much, it’ll become another word for Energy or Runic Power and they don’t want that. In the past they have changed the normalizations on Rage, and I could well imagine that they will do that as a last resort if all else fails. Now, some people seem to be terrified that Blizzard will ruin rage generation like they have in earlier times by rushing out a new rage normalization. All good and well, but if Blizz wanted to rush out changes, they would’ve done so already. Ghostcrawler himself comments that warriors are in a good spot just now, and whether we agree with him or not, that doesn’t really hint at Blizzard feeling any urgency about changing rage generation.

In the longer term, it seems most likely that they’ll adopt some variant of “rage only from damage dealt” mechanic. It will need a lot of tweaking and jiggling the wires to be made to work of course, so let’s not expect any miracles. And most importantly, let’s keep an open mind when it happens.

Stances

Naturally enough, some people asked “can’t you get rid of stances?” Predictably enough, the answer was no:

We get a fair number of suggestions from players trying to basically slip the stance concept out of the warrior class: make it not take rage, or let them do more abilities per stance so they don’t need to switch stances so often. That’s not really what the warrior is all about though. You should care what stance you’re in and it should be a decision to change stance. Note that if you pay too high a price to change stances, that counts as there not being a decision though.

So it’s all about the tradeoff. It’s about the conscious decision to value a certain ability enough to spend the rage on it. While its a good idea on paper, I think it doesn’t quite work out that way in practice. Very few warriors are going to give up 2 GCD’s and rage enough for a couple of abilities, unless there’s a clear and present advantage in doing so. Even more so when you’re in a fight with a short enrage timer or simply if you want to maximise your DPS (shocking). Isn’t that a little selfish and metre-related? Quite possibly. However, these days even Blizzard speak nearly openly about DPS, and if you as a warrior do bugger all DPS, just so you can stance dance and fire off that semi handy ability, you’re going to say “screw that semi handy thing”…or you’re going to go “why is my DPS always so low”.

As an example I can mention the changes to stance dancing that were proposed a while back, then pulled again rather quickly. The idea was to introduce a fixed cost to a stance chance, rather than the current system where you are guaranteed to keep X rage on a shift. Raiding furies started working on new rotations with stance dancing because, hurrah, Rend would suddenly be a viable ability. The PVP’ers went up in arms however, since their abilities to stancedance in low rage situations would be killed off. It was an interesting idea, but it didn’t work out in practice. Until they do find a model that works though, warriors will probably not stance dance as much as Blizzard would like them to.

The design intent of warrior stances is that you change your toolbar when you go from one stance to another and that that decision isn’t a trivial one. Now, the third part aside from the rage cost and ability limitations is the penalties (such as 5% damage taken in Berserker). We cut those in half recently, and we’d eventually like to get rid of them altogether.

Stance penalties to go the way of the dodo? Good news in my book! Again though, it is not likely to happen before the major overhaul of the fury and arms trees.

Tanking

The majority of the tanking related answers focus on (you guessed it) Block and Strength. Ghostcrawler hints at the future for Block (and avoidance in general):

We think block needs to be a percentage of damage blocked in order for the stat to do what we want. But the trade-off would mean that warriors (and paladins) couldn’t block every incoming hit, especially from large groups. Avoidance might also need to come down across the board, and many talents and abilities would need to be redesigned. This is a major change that isn’t the kind of thing we can crowbar into 3.2 with a clean conscience. It is almost certainly the future for the block stat.

This may initially seem like a pretty heavyhanded nerf to tanks, but it’s actually something that is similar to the SWP situation in ages past. Back then it was the druids who had to be nerfed because nothing could hit them. In the future it’s likely to be all the tanks collectively. It’s nothing but a natural evolution really. If Block is horrible, warriors tanks are going to stack dodge and parry and consequently become harder to hit. That again requires bosses to hit even harder. I’m sure that the vicious circle is obvious here, and it’s not a sustainable one for very long. It’ll likely be fine up until Icecrown Citadel, but after that it’ll need a complete redesign.

It’s yet another change for an expansion so…dare I say it: we need to show patience.

Another point that is touched upon is the fact that warriors possibly might be a little behind other tanks currently. Despite Ghostcrawlers comments that “many good guilds are still using warrior tanks”, he doesn’t say whether they do that because they’ve always done it. Tanks are usually in guilds for the long run. If you know your tank well, that just helps enormously. So well established and capable tanks are not as likely to be swapped, even if they might be slightly behind another tank.

DPS

Let’s start off with:

We’re happy with warrior dps in Ulduar.

And let’s also have this one:

Part of the concern here is we used to exempt warriors from the design philosophy that pure dps classes should do more damage than hybrid dps classes. We try to no longer play favorites here. Warrior damage should look like that of Feral druids, Enhancement shamans, Retribution paladins, and death knights.

Now, my question is…are we really on par with those classes? It’s not something I can judge objectively from my experience, and since it also depends on skill and gear (and the fights), its easier to say than prove. Not that Blizzard have to prove anything really, nor should they have to. My personal stance is still that this damage differentiation is a bit of a silly notion, especially with dual specs, and its more of a headache in terms of design than anything, but it seems to be staying. Furthermore, there is a very appreciable difference between the 10-man and 25-man gear, and I wonder if Blizzard are always testing both extensively or whether they test one, and then “transpose” to the other. The issue is: where is the point they balance around?

A further danger here is that Blizzard only look at the hard numbers, not so much at the types of mobs or the situations. DPS is highly situational as we know. If Blizzard balance us around a stationary fight with 3 adds and then make a dungeon full of bosses without adds, where we also constantly are on the move, we will get some, shall we say, mild discrepancies. Do we trust Blizzard not to fall into that pit? I certainly hope so. The good news in this department is, of course, that they admit that they’re not infallible, so if people publish numbers that contradict their initial number crunching, they have on occasion looked into them again. All in all, theorycrafters and datacrunchers will in all likelihood have plenty to do in future.

Rotations rotations rotations!

Rotations are a thing of the past! Well, not quite. But we should not expect to return to the 1, 2, 3, cha cha cha, 1, 2, 3, cha cha cha style combat sequences again.

I think if anything, abilities like this need to be more prominent. You should be less effective at your job if you ignore them, and ideally you’d also be less effective if you just macro’d them in.

I can only applaud this really. Arms already have it, so why not fury as well? It’ll take some work of course, so that we don’t end up with two trees that are carbon copies of eachother, merely with different names, but it would make furying a lot more interesting in the long run. There’s a limit to how much of that you can introduce of course, especially when your staple abilities are on short cooldowns. But then, it’s not unthinkable that Blizzard would consider revamping the fury “rotation” entirely.

Conclusion time?

The above points are, as I see it, some of the main ones touched upon by the Q&A. You’ll note that I haven’t touched upon the PvP bits, however small in number they were. I will leave that to the people more experienced in this area to comment on.

So the main question is: Did the Q&A address the most pressing concerns of the warrior community? Well, it addressed some things in a very general way, but without really giving us any hard information on anything. Basically, they have given us glimpses of their views of the warrior class, but in such a fashion that they really can’t be pinned up on anything. Partially, we can put the blame for that behaviour on the past, where cries of  “but a blue poster recently said that X and Y were being changed to Z and P, and that we’d be boosted” was a common occurrence on the forums in the wake of blue post. So naturally, Blizzard aren’t going to say anything that could get them into sticky places. Of course, that also removes any trace of usable or specific information that the community might want.

Despite the lack of hard info, Blizzard gave us a lot of glimpses at the future of the warrior, and I for one liked bits of what I heard. The rage mechanic is dated and does need its engine checked. It’s not broken, but it could need a good upgrading. The arms and fury trees will get an overhaul, which is long overdue by now. They didn’t promise when, and I for one don’t think it’ll be before the next expansion, but it’s coming.

Where will we be in a year? Who knows. All I can say is: the warriors will endure as they always have…there will still be a place for the unyielding tank, the cool master of arms and the raging berserker.



29
Jun
09

Blizzard Q&A time

Blizzard have just published their death knight Q&A (at least their initial one). That means we have less waiting to do before it’s our turn. A lot of questions have been asked all across the board, some of them even serious and without the “gief buff plxploxnaokekek?”

The themes have been many, and there have been at least two variations of each theme? As I write this we have 13 pages full of questions, so despite some doomsayer suggestions (“Why don’t you just remove warriors, you don’t like us anyway”) our class is very much alive and kicking.

So what kind of things do our fellow furies have on their minds? Quite a few things actually. Here follows a list with the highlights (and I will refrain from listing “buffs plx” as a point, since it is quite honestly too vague and Blizzard aren’t likely to touch it):

  • TG…the bastard child. Understandable, but at the same time futile to ask about
  • Rampage…part of our raid utility. The little useless brother of Leader of the Pack
  • The lacklustre performance of fury, when compared to other so-called hybrids like DK’s and Druids
  • Gameplay…the latest changes to fury have locked us into rotations more than ever

Starting with Titan’s Grip…well, what to say that hasn’t been said, screamed, hollered and whined about already? It is the bastard child of fury, and it will never become a talent that 100% of furies will love. Rather, it will divide the waters from now on and in perpetuity. Will it disappear? No. Blizzard have said that they find it cool, and that they’ve wanted it in since TBC. It’s staying, and the damage nerf is also staying.

Would all furies take it, if it were proven that 1-handed fury builds were viable? Heck no. Many people still share the view that furies should hit hard with onehanded weapons, for a more furies and frenetic pace of playing (more on that later). If I’m honest, I’d probably go for a 1-handed fury build if I could. But, it would require Blizzard to redo much of the loot, so I think it’s fair to say that TG ain’t changing. For better or worse.

Ever since Blizzard changed the buff system, people have been complaining about Rampage. And despite trying to see the logic, I still fail to see the logic in the LotP vs Rampage priorities. The duration, application requirements and limited range of Rampage all make it decidedly inferior to LotP (even in its untalented form). Oh sure, it does come into its own if there is no feral druid in the raid, but honestly, and this goes especially for 25-man raiders, how often are you in a raid without a feral?

Blizzard need to up their game on this supposed buff. How many other 41 talent point abilities are this inferior and mainly usable when soloing? Ultimately it has its place in solo situations and 5-mans, but as one of “the big 3” talents, its suprisingly useless in the endgame. It used to be grand, but required micromanagement. Now it requires nothing, but is very nearly useless in a raiding situation. Which would you prefer?

I’ll not enter into the “hybrid vs. pure” debate at this stage, since I’ve already done so in the past. The point being raised this time round is this however: How can it be, that other hybrids can spec both DPS and tanking in the same tree, essentially gaining a decent spec for both by one application of points…and THEN outperform another hybrid in all aspects of their job. This crosses over into one of the big topics for our protection warrior brethren, namely that of protection warriors being underperforming compared to druids and death knights. So, essentially, a druid will beat us in DPS, and if we both go to our tanking spec, a) the druid will do better and b) they can very nearly do it without changing specs.

While it may seem whiny and complaining, it’s worth asking the question, as some have done: “Should a class with 4 different roles in a raid be able to outperform a class with only 2 roles decisively in both roles?” While I don’t necessarily agree that there should be tiers of hybrids, I would like to see equality between hybrids, especially if hybrids are not allowed to equal pures in damage.

Finally, we come to the last point…gameplay. It’s not the most commonly named point, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Back in the day, fury used to be as frenzied as rogues nearly. It was a lot of button pushing. Along came TG and halved our button-pushing frequency. And add to that a couple of very short cooldowns on our staple abilities. The result is a very very stifled and locked way of playing, provided you want to maximise your DPS. So basically, our furious playing style is less furious than ever. In fact, it begins to resemble a paladin from the old days. Judge, Seal, Judge, Seal, Bloodthirst, Whirlwind, Bloodthirst, Whirlwind. In a time where Blizzard are moving most people out of the gridlock of rotations, it’s quite interesting that they’re seemingly burying their furious players under a layer of locked rotations.

The above is just a little sample of the multitude of questions that have been asked of Blizz. I have no hope that they can manage to answer them all. But I would hope that they will find the time to answer the above at the very least. And the blues hinted at it not being a single session, so keep the questions flowing.

24
Jun
09

Upcoming changes to Fury

It’s fair to say that patch 3.2 is going to be exciting. A whole new 5-man instance, and a whole new raiding instance, as well as a new BG and quest hub. And that’s not even thinking about all the new gear, mounts, pets, etc. You get the idea.

As for changes to furies however, it’s currently looking a bit thin on the ground. The only change currently is:

  • Armored To The Teeth now Increases your attack power by 3 for every 108 armor value you have. (Old – 3 AP every 180 Armor)

This is roughly a 65% buff to ATTT, which can’t be all that bad. However, it’s AP rather than Str, which means it wont take advantage of all the yummy bonuses to Str, nor will it be buffed by Blessing of Kings. Of course, ATTT is one of the places that Blizzard can introduce buffs without toppling the whole delicate cake, so since they wanted to buff us slightly, this is where they’ll do it.

Of course, it also means that we probably shouldn’t hold our breaths for too many other changes or (shock horror) buffs.

19
Mar
09

Set bonuses for T8

MMO Champion lit up with the set bonuses for T8 earlier.

  • Warrior T8 Protection 2P Bonus — Increases the critical strike chance of your Devastate ability by 10%.
  • Warrior T8 Protection 4P Bonus — Shield Block also grants you 20% reduction to magical damage taken.
  • Warrior T8 Melee 2P Bonus — Heroic Strike and Slam critical strikes have a chance to grant you 150% haste rating for 5 sec.
  • Warrior T8 Melee 4P Bonus — Increases the critical strike chance of Mortal Strike and Bloodthirst by 10%.

I’ll leave the analysis of the tanking bonuses for more competent tanks than I.

The 2-piece DPS bonus leaves me in doubt to be honest. Doubt as to what exactly Blizzard mean by it. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? However, depending on which way you read it, your 3.5 weapon will become a 2.3 weapon for 5 seconds or your 100 haste rating become 150 haste rating for 5 seconds.

The former is a solid buff to white damage. One that should help rage generation in light of the TG nerf.

The latter is entirely pitiful. And its dependent on you having haste rating to begin with, and it’s entirely possible to not have any haste rating at all, which in effect makes the 2-piece set bonus completely useless.

However, I’ll not get up in arms about that before it has been cleared up.

The 4-piece set bonus is a buff to one of our staple abilities. Roughly, it’ll work out to 1 more BT crit a minute. In other words, a decent set bonus. It’ll remain to be seen whether it will be outclassed by the non-set items in Ulduar. I wouldn’t discount it just yet at least.

So there we have it. My joy at the BT buff is marred a bit by the, in my mind, inexact wording of the 2-piece bonus. Clarification will come however, in time.

Also posted on BigHitBox

17
Mar
09

Downloading background fury

This morning, the background downloader popped up when I started WoW. It didn’t download anything, but it just sat there…waiting and watching. Does it mean that the patch is upon us? In earlier times, the BBL has usuall appeared at least a week before the patch was even downloadable, which again usually was a couple of weeks ahead of the patch hitting the servers. So I’d say about 3 weeks still to go.

So what is the state of the TG saga? Surprise surprise, it’s been reworded again:

Titan’s Grip: While you have a two-handed weapon equipped in one hand, your physical damage done is reduced by 10%.

i.e. when you’re dual-wielding a two-hander, your physical damage goes down by 10%. So we can definitely still tank with our sword and board, but we cannot OH a dagger to avoid the penalty. Truth be told, it was to be expected.

Things are much as we would’ve expected them then. We will get hit by the inelegant nerf that is Titan’s Grip. I say inelegant, because I find it severely blunt to just slam a 10% damage decrease on a 51 point talent. If somebody is thinking that I’m against Titan’s Grip as a talent, then yes I am, since it’s always been entirely unwieldy and it’s bound to be a rollercoaster of nerf and buff. That’s a topic for a whole different post.

The other fury-related change is that Improved Intercept and Weapon Mastery are swapping places in the trees. Basically it means that furies have to stack a little more expertise to cap now. It’s perhaps a bit of a nerf, but it frees up two points that we can use elsewhere in the tree. All in all, not a huge change as such.

13
Mar
09

Fury changes in build 9684

In actual fact, it is only one change, namely:

  • Titan’s Grip now reduces your physical damage done by 10% when dual-wielding two-handed weapons.

It looks to be a relatively simple tightening up of the tooltip for Titan’s Grip. But it does raise some questions, even if it answers the question “can I still dual-wield one-handers without penalty?”

Does it mean, that we can dual-wield a two-hander and a one-hander and have no penalty? The loss in stats from off-handing a one-hander might well be worth the loss of 10% damage penalty.

Before we get all giddy about circumventing the penalty, let’s take a step back and analyse the situation however. Blizzard believes warriors do too much damage, partially because of the way our talents are distributed. The natural consequence is to introduce a penalty to our 51-point talent.

As with every other “law”, there are two aspects to it, the word and the spirit. In this case, the word is “dual-wielding two-handers” (lightly paraphrased). It indicates more than one two-handed weapon.

The spirit however, is, I’m sad to say, quite different, at least it looks that way to me. I think Blizzard are going to whack us over the head with the 2h+1h combos as well, giving us the penalty whenever we’re off-handing something that is not a shield.

Of course, this is speculation. Nobody has tested it properly yet. However, if Blizzard wants to bring warrior DPS down (and they do), they wont allow us the 2h+1h combo unpenalised unless equipping a one-hander reduces your DPS enough through the loss of stats (and weapon damage/rage generation). In either case, our DPS still goes down.