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Ask the Devs #10 - Damage Dealing
Quote from: Kaivax (Source)
Q: The new "assist" pet stance added in 4.2 would work very well with fire totems - is there any reason why totems were specifically excluded from that functionality? – Korghal (NA/ANZ)

A:
We’d love to have Searing Totem use the new assist stance, but we felt it was too risky to just flip that switch without a great deal of testing. True pets have a control bar so it’s possible to override their behavior if the default behavior is something you don’t want. That’s not the case for Searing Totem. We’ve just recently been able to get the totem to behave fairly predictably in a wide variety of situations – it has a lot of special case code designed to make it do what players want it to do. (Making an AI behave consistently isn’t that hard; making an AI read players’ minds is the hard part!) If assist works out well for pets, and some of the temporary guardians like Guardian of Ancient Kings, we’ll turn it on for Searing Totem.

The Fire Elemental is even more complicated than Searing Totem because the totem is the master of the elemental, not the shaman. It generally works pretty well focusing on the Flame Shock target, but we plan on rebuilding the spell so that the totem summons the elemental (and killing the totem could still despawn the elemental), but the shaman is considered the master, which will solve some of the problems that arise.

Q: Have you considered reincorporating Windfury as the shaman's main DPS ability? Lava lash is their best ability (Cataclysm), but it feels nerfed and feels far too predictable. – Saverhagen (LA)

A:
Every Enhancement shaman loves seeing numbers fly across the screen when a huge multi-crit Windfury occurs, reinforced by our recent change to allow Windfury Weapon to trigger three additional attacks, rather than merely two. Windfury is ultimately a passive ability, though, and serves as an extension (albeit an awesome one) of your auto-attacks. In Burning Crusade, Windfury was prominent because shaman had very few active buttons to press, and long periods of downtime between them that some would fill by “twisting” totems. Not the most compelling gameplay. In Wrath of the Lich King, they arguably inherited the opposite problem, having so many buttons to press that there was never a free global cooldown, while no single ability felt particularly impactful or meaningful. For Cataclysm, we attempted to pare down the rotational complexity of the Enhancement shaman (removing the need to manually refresh Lightning Shield, removing Fire Nova from single target rotations, etc.) and at the same time created synergies that allow Lava Lash to do impressive damage.

As an aside, there were several questions that we didn’t answer about whether Enhancement DPS is too low overall. It is, and we buffed it for 4.2: (http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2723732)

Q: Currently, Enhancement benefits greatly from mastery, but poorly from crit and haste; what solutions have you considered (aside from the previously mentioned possibility of 200% crits) to make these stats more attractive to Enhancement shaman, especially since the spec has such a high requirement for hit rating and expertise rating, making it harder to reforge into more mastery? – Wickedpissah (NA/ANZ)

A:
As we’ve discussed in the past, any time a class has a meaningful portion of its damage only receiving 50% bonus critical damage, it’s going to be difficult for crit rating to be an attractive stat. We’d certainly prefer if haste were a more attractive stat for Enhancement shaman. For many other melee classes, the great value of haste lies in its ability to increase resource generation. Enhancement shaman are not generally limited by any resource, so aside from more auto-attack damage and Windfury/Flametongue procs, haste currently yields more Maelstrom Weapon charges. We’ve thought about taking steps to make Maelstrom Weapon a more central mechanic for the Enhancement shaman spec, which would in turn make haste potentially much more valuable, but don’t currently have any firm solution to announce.

Q: Is anything ever going to be done to decisively end Enhancement's usage of spell power weapons? – Ragnarok (NA/ANZ)

A:
Part of what makes the Enhancement shaman feel like a true hybrid is their even mix of melee attacks and magical ones, and changing the way spells like Lightning Bolt or Flame Shock work might have a serious impact on how Elemental shaman play. We do want Enhancement shaman using melee-oriented Agility weapons, though, and one solution we’re considering is a mechanism that would make Enhancement shaman spells all scale from attack power, similar to what we did with Flametongue procs. In the meantime, we’ve taken steps (and will continue to take them) to ensure that while spell power weapons might at times, with certain gear setups, remain an interesting alternative, they aren’t the strictly superior route.

Q: DPS Warriors and Frost DKs can generate threat very quickly, even if they are trying to be very careful, letting the tank build up threat, etc. Are there any plans for these 2 classes who seem to have threat issues? – Snooptrogg (NA/ANZ), ??? (KR)

A:
For a long time we’ve resisted the temptation to add threat-reduction abilities to warriors and death knights because we don’t want every class to have the mirror images of the same abilities. Class homogenization is a complex and philosophical discussion and probably worthy of a developer blog soon. In some cases, we realized that preserving flavor among classes was just holding classes back – reliable interrupts are a great example of this, where we finally just gave one to every melee and tank spec. But we feel like we have to remain vigilant about this sort of thing. While it might feel like a nice band aid if you are currently the character lacking what seems like a must-have ability, in the long term it can do harm to the game. You see a lot of players today who would rather trade some of their utility and possibly even game balance in order to have classes behave more differently from each other. You can disagree with that point, but it’s hard to completely dismiss it and we certainly don’t. Getting back to the original point, this may be one of those cases where we just need to give in and make sure all DPS specs have some sort of personal threat dump. We’d definitely want to do it as an active button that requires player interaction and not just a passive modifier that lets you just ignore threat as a game mechanic.

Q: Will we ever see an in-game damage and healing meter to replace Recount? – Sinthìa (NA/ANZ), Hemodynamic (EU-EN)

A:
We’d dearly love to do this, and it’s been something we’ve been working on, off and on for some time. The problem is that increasingly players place a really high and occasionally unhealthy emphasis on meters, and once there is an official Blizzard-supported meter, then that situation is only going to get worse. Anything that isn’t portrayed in our meters with a great degree of accuracy is going to be misinterpreted and cause forum drama. For example, it’s easy for DPS to inflate their meters on some fights by attacking targets that don’t matter. How do we handle those situations -- trust players to know the difference? That’s tricky, especially when the community has a penchant for distilling lots of fights down into a single measurement of DPS. As another example, the Restoration druid Tranquility is intended to fill a role similar to Power Word: Barrier or Spirit Link Totem. Yet the druid cooldown is an actual heal, which greatly inflates their meters to the extent that we see a lot of players complaining about how Resto druids are overpowered. Do we not show Tranquility on healing meters?

On the other hand, one benefit of having easy-to-use Blizzard meters would be getting players to focus on their own personal DPS instead of what the best players in the world are capable of. It makes developers cry when we see a good Fury warrior go Arms and do lackluster DPS just because they read that Arms DPS is higher. (Now, if that player just likes Arms or wants to try something different, more power to them.)

Also consider that damage and healing meters are valued by a pretty small set of the playing population as a whole. New UI features like the quest and equipment systems we added not so long ago, and even the upcoming Dungeon Journal, would be more widely used overall.

So the short answer is that it would be a very useful tool and we suspect we’ll do it eventually, but we have an enormous responsibility to get it right, and even then it could do bad things to the community as a whole.

Q: Are there any plans to reduce ramp-up times and RNG for certain specs? IE shadow orbs can not proc for quite a while sometimes, hindering our DPS. – Xista (NA/ANZ), Whitewnd (KR)

A:
We generally introduce ramp-up time for two reasons. The first and most important is so players have a decision about when to switch targets. If there was zero cost for target swapping, then it would always be the right thing to do. We want to reward players, modestly, when they know when they should swap targets versus sticking with the original. The second issue is that ramp-up time helps us reduce burst in PvP.

The intent for Shadow Orbs was that procs weren’t guaranteed so that there is some unpredictability involved to add gameplay. We could easily make it less random, but then they wouldn’t be something you think about or factor in your rotation. Sometimes you won’t get Shadow Orb procs and your DPS will be lower than it could be if you get really lucky. Shadow Priest DPS is balanced around the average of those two extremes. If you get lucky and get good procs, that’s an unexpected bonus.

There’s a thin line between something that’s frustratingly random and something that is boring and has no gameplay. We have learned that when percent chances are too high, then rather than feeling like a bonus when it happens, it becomes very frustrating when it fails to happen.

Q: If encounters are not being designed with positional requirements and or other abilities (Shred, Backstab, Feral Charge on Al'akir, Killing Spree in general) in mind, why do we still have those requirements? It seems unfair in a competitive PvE environment to allow those very limiting requirements to exist if the encounters are going to be heavily punitive towards classes that have them. – Foxlore (NA/ANZ)

A:
The main reason we have the positional requirement is to have a different vector along which to design abilities. Backstab without a directional requirement could probably just be folded into Sinister Strike. It’s a way to make abilities different from each other, in the same way we have ranged attacks vs. melee attacks, instant spells vs. cast time spells and physical damage vs. magic damage. Also consider that all melee should want to get behind a target, and it hurts all of their DPS when they cannot. We have also made the alternatives to the positional requirements much less of a DPS loss than they used to be. If you go into your Mangle rotation instead of your Shred rotation, your DPS will drop, but not catastrophically.

Now there are some encounters where the positional penalty is just too extreme. In 4.2 we have the ability to make the “back” of a boss encompass 240 degrees, and we have done so for bosses like Magmaw, Sinestra and Ragnaros. Furthermore, there are fights where Killing Spree and Feral Charge just kill you. That obviously isn’t acceptable. We have manually added some safeguards to try and manually solve a few encounters, such as Magmaw, but even that isn’t bulletproof and we are investigating more robust and global solutions. But it’s technically challenging given the diversity of our encounters.

Q: What do you consider when looking at whether a class is doing too much or too little damage? – Merovin (LA)

A:
As you probably suspect, we have a simple counter that measures the number of forum posts on a given class and we buff or nerf accordingly.

Seriously though, we look at a lot of different measurements, which becomes the full-time job of several designers. Our three most powerful tools are doing predictive modeling for how classes will perform under various scenarios and with various levels of gear, actually testing these numbers using characters in the game world, and then measuring the numbers generated by actual players on PTR or live servers.

Remember that we have access to a number of tools not available to players. While theorycrafters have gotten very good at reverse engineering how our damage calculations work, there are still a few opportunities where they get it wrong while we can just peek under the hood to remind ourselves how a calculation is made. Secondly, it’s very easy for us to create a lot of characters with whatever gear we want and have them beat on whatever kinds of targets we want in a very controlled environment. We can also change any of the numbers to empirically test the outcome. Furthermore, we can automate character damage rotations to a much greater degree than macros can accomplish, which gives us an idea of the delta between theoretical maxima and more typical player performance (which includes things like human reaction speed, decision making and good old Internet lag).

The specific situation that the character is in matters enormously. Maximum sustained DPS is almost irrelevant in PvP when applying burst in controlled windows is king. Yet both numbers have a huge impact on the game and neither is more important than the other. In PvE, the specifics of an encounter can trump almost everything. We have very few Patchwerk-style fights these days, and sometimes we even buff or debuff characters directly as part of the encounter. Some specs are good on movement fights. Some do better when there is a lot of incoming damage. Some benefit from spreading dots. Some can shoot flying dragons. We tend to focus a lot of our balance effort on the current tier of raiding content, because that is what is most important to players, but even then we have to look at a wide variety of skill sets. We do look at scaling into future content, but we tend to obsess over it a lot less than players do, because we adjust classes quite often these days. We actually do read the forums a lot too, our own and all the others out there that you probably read, just to make sure there is nothing we’re missing. Our community team helps enormously in this endeavor, particularly in helping to funnel the feedback from players from Latin America, Europe and Asia. We’re in contact with expert gamers from around the world. We also all play the game a great deal and very often we personally catch a bug or something else that isn’t working quite right.

As an aside, this is the kind of question we were really hoping to get more of with this series. It’s open-ended, potentially interesting to a lot of different players, and not just a thinly veiled demand for buffs.

Q: Rogue is the only pure melee damage dealer class, however their overall damage is lower to compare with other pure DPS classes (like mages, warlocks and hunters) due to obsolete mechanics. We lose a lot of DPS while switching between targets, which happens rather often in Cataclysm encounters. Redirect ability is useful of course, however its cooldown is way too long and at the same time you can’t redirect poisons and some other effects from one target to another. Taking this in mind, do you have any plans to change rogue mechanics in the nearest future? – ????????(EU-RU)

A:
One of the defining elements of rogue gameplay is the feeling of building up potential against a single opponent, and then unleashing that power. Redirect allows rogues to “cheat” on these mechanics once per minute (or more often with Restless Blades), but if we removed these ramping elements entirely, rogues would lose a large piece of what makes them unique. We recognize that at the end of the day, however, many players would rather be powerful than unique. Ideally, we’d like you to be both. Having to build up combo points to operate at maximum effectiveness is a disadvantage compared to being able to just do maximum damage from the outset, and having to move to melee range to attack a new target is a disadvantage compared to being able to switch instantly from range. There’s nothing inherently wrong with disadvantages, as long as they are counterbalanced by equally powerful strengths. Rogue damage recently has been lower than we’d prefer, even on fights with low movement and no target-switching, which should be absolutely ideal for rogues. We’ve taken steps in 4.2 to increase rogue damage output across the board, and we will continue to make adjustments until we feel that rogue performance is where we’d like it to be.

Q: Could you find a way to give a sense of responsibility to damage dealers as much as tanks and healers already have in instances? – Raghnar (EU-FR)

A:
First off, DPS often do have important roles in fights, whether it’s banging gongs for Atramedes or interrupting during the Nefarian encounter, or just knowing to run out of the dragon breath in the Drahga Shadowburner encounter in Grim Batol (since the healer can’t possibly keep you alive through all of that). On any given encounter, we tend to give responsibility to a few DPS players instead of all of them, and we think that’s ultimately a good thing. Not every player wants a ton of responsibility and we don’t think it would be good for them, or the game, for us to force those players into high-pressure situations. It is a game after all – it’s supposed to be fun. If challenging is what’s fun for you, well, that’s what Heroic modes are for. We think most players understand that taking on the healing or tanking roles is going to come with more responsibility, and those roles in turn tend to attract players comfortable or interested in having more responsibility.

Going even further, we’d say that one of the reasons our current raid encounters are considered so difficult is that the failure mechanics are fairly steep. We have a lot of “you’re the bomb!” spells where if you fail to run out of the group, you can kill not only yourself, but the entire raid. That makes it harder to bring along inexperienced players or new recruits to see a boss encounter. Maybe those type of mechanics should stick to the Heroic modes of the fights, where everyone is presumably signing up for a lot of individual responsibility.

Q: Do you have any plans to improve Frost mages in PvE? Currently, Frost isn't considered a viable tree, as a fair number of players spec either Arcane or Fire, but they rarely consider Frost. – Tenecto (LA)

A:
This is one of those interesting phenomena you observe when you do game design. According to our testing, Frost does comparable DPS today, and remains competitive in Heroic Firelands gear. Yet, Frost is much less popular than Fire or Arcane in the current raiding environment. Some of that could be tradition. Some of that could be that the DPS is close enough that players pick whichever mage rotation they enjoy the most. It’s also possible that some aspect of our testing doesn’t catch some factor that ends up suppressing Frost damage in the “real world” compared to our internal servers. That certainly happens sometimes.

It’s hard to just look at logs and get an accurate picture of the mage DPS situation. When the best mages in the world are playing Fire and Arcane, it’s natural to expect that there are a lot of huge DPS averages for Fire and Arcane mages. That might not mean that Frost damage is low, only that the best players aren’t playing Frost. We see this sort of thing over and over again. As we mentioned recently, you can see Unholy DPS drop in 4.1 not because Unholy’s DPS was nerfed, but because so many good DKs switched from Unholy to Frost. While it’s ideal that all DPS specs are viable in all aspects of the game, and that remains our goal, it’s a lofty goal. Frost remains the mage spec of choice in PvP, which is a better situation than if it were just a dead spec.

While some specs may do slightly higher damage than other specs within a given class, the differences aren’t so great that you’d really be holding your group back if you played your favorite talent tree instead of the one with the highest DPS logs. In almost all cases, individual skill, gear, encounter specifics and Internet lag will have a bigger effect on your DPS than your spec choice (and often your class). Seriously, try Frost mages. Try Subtlety rogues. Their DPS is honestly pretty competitive.
Quote from: Blizzard (Source)
Q: Vengeance is a great tool to help raid tanks hold aggro over DPS, but in 5-man heroics it doesn't stack high enough to keep up with the threat generated by overgeared DPS burst damage. Are there any plans to address this? Are there any plans to help warriors put out more initial threat before Vengeance has been ramped up? – Nikelsndimes (NA), Cémanana (EU-FR), Arthur (TW), Mancake (NA), Migol (NA)

A:
We think Vengeance works well overall. It provides sufficient threat without causing the tank to do more DPS than the dedicated DPS characters, and doesn’t let the tank just neglect abilities that cause threat. A full stack of Vengeance probably provides too much threat, but we didn’t think it was necessary to nerf that mid-expansion. Overall, we don’t want tanks to have 100% guaranteed threat on a pull, so we don’t want to buff that aspect of Vengeance, but we also don’t want DPS specs to constantly have to throttle the DPS they can deliver midway through a fight, so we have to strike a balance.

Note: There are fights with tank swaps or incoming adds, or similar mechanics, when threat may matter mid-fight. This is intended – encounter design varies widely.


Q: Have you considered normalizing initial Rage for feral druid tanks? For example, when a warrior uses Charge, it generates 15 points of Rage, which lets them use another aggro generating ability quickly, something that Feral druids tend to be a bit short on. Why in Cataclysm was the bear bonus health pool was reduced, as well? Their survivability always depended on the amount of health since they don’t have parry or shield block. Do you have any plans to improve bear tanking in the future? At the moment, it’s considered to be the weakest tank. Have you considered giving druid tanks an additional tool to pull casters at range? It’s the only tank class that doesn’t have a talent or spell to help in those situations. – Pødêrøsø (LA), ????? (EU-RU), ?????? (EU-RU), Condenacion (EU-ES), Whitewnd (KR)

A:
Bears are getting a significant mitigation buff in 4.2 and we’re retuning their damage such that it’s a little easier to hold aggro at low gear levels, and a little harder at higher gear levels. While we definitely don’t expect the community to ever agree on anything, we’ve seen little evidence of a widespread concurrence that druids are “the weakest tank.” There are plenty of druid tanks out there, handling everything from Grim Batol to Sinestra. Tank balance overall is in a really good place. Players may focus on potential problems that could arise in the future but we also have ample time to address those problems should they occur. Gone are the days when we would just release a class into the wild and refuse to touch it again until the next expansion.


Q: What are your intentions with each tank's mastery and mastery in general? – Migol (NA)

A:
Mastery is intended to be a defensive stat for tanks. We want it to be at least in the same ballpark of value per rating as avoidance. To go into a bit more depth on each tank:

Death Knights: We’re pretty happy with how mastery has turned out. It does have the oddity that it scales down in value with your mitigation, but also up in value with your health. But it does indeed scale up pretty smoothly in value, and doesn’t have any unintuitive breakpoints or anything, so we’re happy with it.

Druids: We’re pretty happy with how mastery has turned out. It scales well, doesn’t have any unintuitive or unfortunate interactions with other stats, and provides solid performance value.

Paladins: Mastery is an attractive stat for paladins, but has some design problems. It scales very well, but due to the nature of our combat tables (and being able to “fill them up”), you can get “block capped,” which is a massive performance benefit. Worse, Protection mastery scales with itself, since there are no diminishing returns on block chance, and the amount of rating you need to block cap goes down as your dodge and parry improve, allowing you to put even more of your stats into dodge or parry. This sort of feedback loop is something we always try to stay away from, so we plan to change this in the future. We tried several alternatives for 4.2, but weren’t happy with the results. Any change which made mastery weaker (such as subjecting block to diminishing returns or changing what it does) would have required mitigation compensation for paladins elsewhere (with all the design risks inherent in making such changes), as well as asking many players to extensively re-gem or re-forge. We’ll ask players to do that when the need is great, but we didn’t think this problem crossed that line. The major risks are that Protection paladins become too powerful or too weak or that gear with mastery will at some point be rejected once characters are over the cap. We don’t think any of those problems will manifest themselves in the 4.2 content.

Warriors: Warriors’ mastery is in a similar boat as paladins’, except that it still provides a notable benefit past the cap and scales much slower, making it much more difficult to “block cap.” That delays, but doesn’t remove the problem.


Q: Will we see a tanking Legendary sometime soon? – Pedoso (NA)

A:
The tanking community both loves and hates when this question comes up, but it received a lot of votes, so we’ll answer it. The answer is not soon, but probably eventually. The problem with tanking legendaries, of course, is that the shield-users and non-shield-users tank with different weapons. That’s not a deal breaker, but it is a consideration. We could allow the legendary to be transformed from a one-hander to two-hander or we could just design an item for a more narrow audience (such as a shield). The 4.2 legendary has fairly wide appeal, and the 4.3 legendary will have much more narrow appeal. We don’t want to fall into the trap of making legendaries too formulaic.


Q: Are there any plans to teach players in-game how to tank when they are at an early stage, or at least at some point in the leveling process? – Romner (EU-EN)

A:
A system to teach players how we intend for them to perform their roles is something we realize we’re lacking. We have some pretty cool plans to help solve this problem in the future, but we’re not quite ready to make any announcements, and Ask the Devs just wouldn’t be the appropriate venue anyway.


Q: Do you plan to bring other tanks to the same level as Death Knights who have a lot of advantages over other tanking classes (easier to heal, quite a number of various safe abilities, etc.)? - ???????? (EU-RU)

A:
Death knights are a somewhat different style of tank compared to the others. They take significantly more damage than other tanks, but then heal/shield that extra damage back instead (and sometimes more). Due to taking more damage, and that damage coming in spikes, they’re also the most likely to die to unexpected burst (such as when they don’t have runes up to Death Strike, have no cooldowns available, and fail to dodge or parry a few attacks in a row. They also have more personal impact on their own survivability and mitigation than any other tank, by tying much of their performance to Death Strike (and especially optimally timing their Death Strikes). So in the hands of a really skilled player, they can do some amazing things, but not usually much better than the other tanks. We’d actually like to head more in that direction with the other tanks (making them tie more of their defensive performance to their ability usage), in the future.


Q: Is there any chance that we can see damage reduction numbers being used in the statistic UI, just like shield absorb amount of Discipline priest? – ???? (TW)

A:
The default UI should show the damage reduction from armor against a creature of equal level. We’ll look into also showing the damage reduction against a +1, +2, +3/boss-level mob, like we do for hit or expertise. Beyond that, there is typically passive damage reduction from talents/stance/presence/etc., which should be relatively easy to combine with armor to find your damage reduction.


Q: Have you ever considered adjusting DPS HP? Seems that while their large pools of health help them on "accidental" situations, a fair portion of the time they can take aggro and tank adds without consequence. – Jainel (LA)

A:
We’re generally happy with how well DPS are able to tank (which is to say, not very well). We like that they can take a hit or two (depending upon content) before dying, and that the penalty for that happening is a huge drain on healer mana.


Q: As far as I remember, about five tanks were required in a 25-man group in Burning Crusade. However, the number of tanks in raids has been decreased to one or two since WotLK. I think this is one of the reasons heroic parties suffer from lack of tanks. What if raids have required more tanks? – ????? (KR)

A:
We don’t actually recall many four+ tank fights in Burning Crusade, and that includes fights like High King Maulgar where non-tanks could perform the tanking role. While we do find some elegance in a design where a 5-player group scales perfectly up to a 10 and 25-player group, that introduces some problems as well. It could potentially extend the tank shortage we see in 5-player dungeons up to raids (to be fair, it’s also possible needing more tanks for raiding would create more tanks for dungeons). A larger problem is that we just don’t want to over-constrain encounter design to always require 4 or 5 tanks. Sometimes it’s nice to have a fight that’s just a single bruiser without requiring a tank swap or meteor-style cleave. Nearly every raid fight in Cataclysm asks for two tank-specced characters, with a few requiring one or three. That’s likely the model we will continue to use. If we wanted to do a fight with many tanks, we’d likely let some of the DPS specs step in.


Q:Are there any plans to update the leg armor in 4.2 now that the plate tanks receive no dodge from agility? Maybe introduce a new leg armor patch that adds str/stamina, or a mastery/stamina? – Dariok (NA), Fredik (EU-ES)

A:
We did. As you’ve probably seen by now, it’s called Drakehide Leg Armor, and it provides Stamina and dodge rating.


Q: Can you make it so that taunt doesn't miss, just like you did for interrupt abilities? Doesn't feel as though it would be a complete upset to overall balance. – Madmartygan (LA)

A:
Yes, absolutely! And in fact we did it back in patch 3.9. Tank classes’ taunts have been unable to miss since then. We recognize that tanks will nearly always choose mitigation stats over threat stats and it’s particularly frustrating to have to reach a hit cap just to make sure taunts or interrupts don’t miss, which is why we no longer require that.


Q: Are there any plans to simplify the impossible situation for tanks (8% hit rating, 26 Expertise but all defensive stats at max at the same time) somehow, either through stats on gear or through changes to the game mechanics? Have you considered giving tools to tanks to allow easier capping of hit and expertise to help with threat management? – Sunyara (EU-DE), Gilbey (EU-ES)

A:
We don’t currently balance around the assumption that tanks cap hit or expertise. We’re definitely looking at ways to make reliably hitting more attractive to tanks in the future, though. Currently, missing is just a compound to the issue discussed in Question #1. Getting tanks to care about threat stats, not for the threat benefit (but for a mitigation benefit), is one potential direction. For example, DKs want to make sure their Death Strikes hit because of the mitigation benefit. Druids care about crit because of Savage Defense. We speculated at one point that we could make Shield Block (and now Holy Shield) require a successful hit to do their jobs. We’re not sure we will go that direction, but it’s one idea. We would of course compensate tanks for any potential loss of predictable mitigation.


Q: Compared to DKs, Paladins are weaker when facing mass magic attacks. A Paladin has no choice but to stack stamina in this situation. Is there any change coming to this for Paladins? – ???? (TW)

A:
We don’t balance tanks around their sustained magic damage reduction, since we don’t typically assault tanks with continuous magic damage. We do frequently intersperse physical damage with a burst of magic damage, usually timed around the cooldowns that all tanks have available, and find that that is balanced. If we ever did a fight like Hydross again where there is almost no physical damage, we’d have to explore some other options.


Q: At the moment, tanks need to use addons to see threat levels and clearly see which mobs they have aggro with. With all the recent changes and updates being made to the UI, are there any plans to make seeing threat levels and aggro easier and clearer? – Castan (EU-EN)

A:
We’d definitely like to build threat into the UI more, especially for tanks and for multiple targets. We try to keep our default UI relatively unobtrusive so that players can see the actual battlefield, but we realize this design goal can come into conflict with players’ need or desire to have copious amounts of information displayed. Finding the right compromise is something we wrestle with constantly and one reason why our UI changes tend to come more slowly than, say, class design changes.


Q: Protection Paladin is not only the most desired tank because survival abilities for groups and various utilities, but players also generally consider Paladins as an indispensable Class in raids. I know all tanking Classes are being equalized constantly, but survival abilities of Protection Paladins give huge advantages compared to other tanking Classes. Can we expect that other Tanking classes will see more survival abilities for groups in terms of equity? – ????? (KR)

A:
Like druids, paladins have the enormous benefit of being able to fill all three roles in a group. Paladins also retain a wide variety of buff and utility abilities from vanilla when they (and shaman) were more of a support class that was intended to have low individual throughput but made other classes in the group shine. We have been slowly moving away from that design in our effort to avoid class stacking and support the “bring the player, not the class” philosophy, but it’s hard to move quickly on changes like this. (As one small example, we briefly removed Lay on Hands during Cataclysm development, and there was an outcry even from within the team.) Because they can fill many roles and still provide a lot of utility, it’s not surprising that you see a lot of druids and paladins in your raid groups. We’ve tried very hard to not make any particular tank class mandatory, and we feel we’ve been pretty successful in Cataclysm. So far we haven’t seen an encounter like Sartharion or Anub’arak where a certain tank class was perceived, probably accurately, as necessary for progression.

Protection paladins do bring a lot of utility, but it is quite difficult to make a table comparing a paladin’s Divine Guardian to a Protection warrior’s mobility or a bear druid’s ability to cast Innervate or even Rebirth during lulls in an encounter. They are fundamentally different abilities that have greater or less utility depending on the encounter and your individual raid comp. We don’t want to just hand out a Divine Guardian equivalent to every tank class, just like we don’t think warriors or paladins need the ability to battle rez. It’s a fine line to walk. Homogenization really rankles some players (as it should), but being unable to tank (or heal, or DPS) an encounter because of lack of tools is equally unacceptable to many players.


Q: Is there any plan to add a new tank class in the future? I think spell breaker in the Warcraft III is an awesome choice for that! – ??? (TW)

A:
We’ll add new classes when the time is right. We don’t see WoW as a game that can support unlimited different class types (and the different talent specs almost behave as full classes these days!), so we want to be judicious about when we add classes. One of the challenges with tanks (and other roles) especially, is this: on the one hand, there is a core set of abilities that any tank needs in order to perform their job, especially in a 5-player dungeon where you can’t rely on other players in the same role to help cover your deficiencies. On the other hand, having so many similar abilities (e.g. a taunt, a short cooldown, an efficient heal) necessitates a certain amount of homogeneity among those classes. But what players (and designers!) really want in a new class is something exciting that no one has seen before. Adding another class that tanked just like a warrior wouldn’t add much to the game – it wouldn’t drive many new tanks or encourage a veteran tank to try a different tanking class. On the other hand, adding the death knight, who tanks relatively differently (though some players might argue still not differently enough) was an enormous challenge and the kind of thing we continue to tweak over time.

It's Nearly Here -- Patch 4.2

So, is anyone else excited yet? I'll be glad to get back to progression raiding again after tier 11 fizzling out lately. Seven new bosses, a new daily area (that might actually get me to do some dailies), a new "currency", and tier 11 for Justice Points for the alts. It's looking to be a nice little patch. So who's excited?!

For those in the guild, if you haven't seen yet, Mac has put some mandatory raiding on the calendar for next week, just to ease us back into the raiding mentality. With any luck, 4.2 will hit the week after. So don't forget to sign up for the raids!

Quote from: Blizzard Entertainment
Classes: General
  • All healing critical strikes now heal for 2 times a normal heal (+100%), up from 1.5 times a normal heal (+50%).

Buffs
  • All class abilities which place a buff on friendly targets no longer generate any threat. This goes for raid-wide buffs like Mark of the Wild and Power Word: Fortitude, as well as triggered effects such as Blessed Resilience or Fingers of Frost, and single-target buffs like Dark Intent and Hysteria. The exception is buffs which directly cause healing or damage, such as Thorns or Renew. Abilities such as these still generate normal threat.

Pets
  • The Aggressive pet stance has been removed and replaced with the Assist stance. This stance will cause the player's pet to attack the player's target. The pet will not change targets unless the master attacks a new target for a few seconds.


Spell Interrupts
  • When interrupted while casting a single-school spell such as Mind Flay or Frostbolt, players will now be able to cast dual-school spells such as Mind Spike (Frost and Shadow schools) or Frostfire Bolt (Frost and Fire schools). However, being interrupted while casting a dual-school spell will still interrupt all respective schools as intended.


Death Knight
  • Obliterate base damage has been reduced to 150% weapon damage, down from 160%.

Frost
  • Annihilation now increases Obliterate damage by 12/24/36%, down from 15/30/45%.

Unholy
  • Unholy Might now increases Strength by 10%, up from 5%.

Druid
  • Ferocious Bite damage has been increased by 15%. In addition, its base cost has been reduced to 25 energy and it can use up to 25 energy, for up to a 100% damage increase.
  • Mangle (Cat) damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 530% weapon damage, up from 460%.
  • Omen of Clarity clearcasting buff from now lasts 15 seconds, up from 8 seconds.
  • Ravage damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 975% weapon damage, up from 850%.
  • Shred damage at level 80 and above has been increased to 520% weapon damage, up from 450%.
  • Swipe (Cat) now deals 600% weapon damage at level 80 or higher, down from 670%.

Balance
  • Insect Swarm now generates 8 Lunar Energy for Balance druids.
  • Moonfire now generates 8 Solar Power for Balance druids.
  • Sunfire now generates 8 Lunar Energy for Balance druids.
  • Earth and Moon's duration has been increased to 15 seconds, up from 12.
  • Fungal Growth spell visual effect has been updated to be less visually intrusive and more aesthetic.
  • Lunar Shower has been redesigned. When casting Moonfire, the druid gains Lunar Shower. Lunar Shower increases the direct damage done by Moonfire by 15/30/45%, and reduces the mana cost by 10/20/30%. This effect stacks up to 3 times and lasts 3 seconds. While under the effects of Lunar Shower, Moonfire generates 8 Solar Energy, and Sunfire generates 8 Lunar Energy. The amount of Lunar/Solar Energy gained does not change based on the number of points spent in the talent, or stacks of Lunar Shower. Those druids who wish to delay transition in or out of an Eclipse state should now cast the one of their two basic attacks which will not move the Eclipse bar (either Starfire or Wrath).
  • Solar Beam has a new spell effect.
  • Wild Mushroom: Detonate can now also trigger Earth and Moon, in addition to Starfire and Wrath.

Restoration
  • Symbiosis (Mastery) has been removed and replaced with Harmony. Harmony increases direct healing by an additional 10%, and casting direct healing spells grants an additional 10% bonus to periodic healing for 10 seconds. Each point of mastery increases each bonus by an additional 1.25%. Healing Touch, Nourish, Swiftmend, and the initial heal from Regrowth are considered direct healing spells for the purposes of this Mastery. All other healing from druid spells is considered periodic.

Glyphs
  • Glyph of Berserk duration increase is now 10 seconds, up from 5.


Hunter
  • Multi-shot damage has been reduced. It now deals 120% weapon damage at level 80 or higher, down from 137%.
  • Traps now scale with hunter stats such as hit, expertise, spell penetration and attack power as intended.


Mage
  • Spellsteal now has a 6-second cooldown.


Paladin
  • Divine Light mana cost has been increased to 35% of base mana, up from 30%.
  • Flash of Light mana cost has been increased to 31% of base mana, up from 27%.
  • Holy Light mana cost has been increased to 12% of base mana, up from 10%.
  • Rebuke, Divine Shield and Divine Protection have new icons.

Holy
  • Holy Shock mana cost has been increased to 9% of base mana, up from 8%.
  • Speed of Light now increases movement speed when Holy Radiance or Divine Protection are cast. In addition, this talent now reduces the cooldown of Holy Radiance by 13/26/40 seconds, up from 10/20/30.

Protection
  • Ardent Defender has a new spell effect.
  • Hammer of the Righteous mana cost has been lowered to 10%, down from 12% to match Crusader Strike.
  • Judgements of the Wise now procs on attempt rather than on strike, which means judgements that miss can still grant mana. This is to help ensure Protection paladins are not starved for mana if they aren't capped on hit rating.


Shaman
  • Lightning Shield and Water Shield can no longer be dispelled.
  • Unleash Elements is now in the Nature school, and thus can no longer be used if a shaman's Nature school has been locked out.
  • Water Shield has had its internal cooldown reduced to 3.5 seconds, once again matching other shields. The amount of mana restored when Water Shield procs has been reduced by 50%.

Elemental
  • Lava Flows now grants a 30/60/90% haste buff when a Flame Shock effect is dispelled, up from 10/20/30%.
  • Thunderstorm now reduces the movement speed of players it knocks back by 40% for 5 seconds.

Restoration
  • Improved Water Shield has been redesigned and renamed Resurgence. When Water Shield is active, Resurgence causes critical direct heals to restore mana (Resurgence rank 2 is roughly equal to 150% of the old Improved Water Shield value when a Healing Wave or Greater Healing Wave critically hits, and scaled down accordingly for faster or multi-target spells).
  • Mana Tide now grants 200% of the caster's Spirit, down from 400%.

Glyphs
  • Glyph of Unleashed Lightning (new Prime glyph) allows Lightning Bolt to be cast while moving.


Warlock
  • Soul Harvest has a new spell effect.


Dungeon & Raids
  • The Firelands, a new 10- and 25-player raid, is now available for limited testing. Please visit the PTR Discussion forum for the latest raid testing schedule.


Guilds
  • The daily guild experience cap has been increased by 25%.
  • The weekly guild reputation cap has been increased by 25%.
  • The guild experience cap is now removed at level 20, down from level 23.


Items
  • Darkmoon Card: Hurricane damage done when triggered has been increased by 40%, however, it can no longer deal critical strikes and no longer receives any modifiers to its damage from the equipping player.

Set Bonuses
  • The 4-piece Elemental shaman PvP set bonus (Gladiator's Thunderfist set) has been redesigned. It now causes Lightning Shield to generate an extra charge, rather than consuming one, when it is triggered by receiving damage, up to a maximum of 3 (9 with the Rolling Thunder talent).


Professions
Skinning
  • Players can no longer skin corpses already being actively skinned or looted by other players.


PvP
Conquest Points
  • The minimum cap on Conquest Points earned per week is now 1500 at 1500 or less Battleground rating. The maximum cap remains 3000 at 3000 or more Battleground rating. The cap continues to scale non-linearly between those two points.
  • The game now separately tracks different Conquest Point caps for Battlegrounds and Arenas. The cap for Arena rating will always be 2/3 of the cap for Battleground rating at any given Arena rating. Players may earn a total number of Conquest Points per week equal to the higher of these two caps, but once players have reached the cap for either Arenas or Battlegrounds, they can no longer earn Conquest Points from that source. Conquest Points from Battleground holidays only count toward the total Conquest Point cap.


Quests & Creatures
  • There are no longer oddities in the critical strike and dodge chance of lower-level creatures.


User Interface
  • Raid Profiles are in the process of being implemented and are not fully functional. Raid Profiles will allow players to save the raid window user interface layout based on type of content (i.e. 10-player raids, 25-player raids, Battlegrounds, etc.).