Looking at it right now for a Paladin vs a Blood DK, we seem to have:
Health: (1.144 vs 1.092 scaling, 0.052% difference for ~ 1.2k health (120 stamina) so equal at 2307 stam roughly then Paladin A)
Death Knights: (base+x)*1.06*1.03*1.10
Death Knight: (Armour - Shield)*1.10*1.6, so 1.6x(armour-shield) ~= shield
Static DR: (inc sanc on both)
Paladin: (0.94*0.97*0.97*0.97) = 0.858 multiplier on damage taken (think this is right)
Death Knight: 0.95*0.95*0.97 = 0.875 multiplier on damage taken
So Paladins take 98% of the damage DKs do (which I think is nearly the % offset by the 300 or so armour DKs have over us)
Paladin: BR (1,700-2,000) @ ~ 100% of attack taken
Death Knight: DS @ 6,000 healing / 5s best case scenario, worst case 6,000 / 10s (to activate Death Runes for HS spam), Rune Tap @ 7,000 / 30s
So Death Knights have very potent self healing potential coming in at approximately 800HTPS worst case to 1,400 HTPS best case. The healing is of course based on the DK rotation however you have some play in this and can offset by ~2s / choose to use Death Runes so it is potentially valuable.
Paladin: 60% DR @ 2 minutes
Death Knight: 37% DR @ 2 minutes
The main CD is pretty much equivalent, the Paladins win in terms of raw numbers for the DR however attacks are typically designed against the ~ 35%+ bonus swing (which rules out secondary CDs). For all intensive purposes this can be considered a wash imo other than for sustained damage scenarios.
Paladin: Heal to 30% on death @ 2 minutes
Death Knight: +15% health for 20s, +35% healing for 20s @ 2 minutes
Paladin cooldown covers the worst case scenario better (single shot, healer slacking), Death Knight allows for sustained damage phase of moderate increased damage and massively increased healing (including self healing to nearly 2,000HTPS for the duration using best case)
Paladin: 30% DR on damage under 35%
Death Knight: 15% DR on all damage for hits taking the DK under 35%, 15s ICD
Paladin version is superior for sustained damage, the DK version for single shot scenarios. From this it appears that really these are matched up wrongly. The GS effect is pretty equivalent to WoTN in the single shot scenario (100% to 0% giving the DK + 17.5% EH, the Paladin + 30%). The ICD / cooldown disparity would suggest that WoTN be weighted against our ADGS effect as a wash in favour of the DK in normal scenarios and the Paladin in worst case).
Paladin: 20% DR, -20% threat, 2 min CD
Death Knight: Absorb upto 50% health Magic Damage @75% for 6s @ 45s
Paladin: 100% heal @ 20 min CD
Death Knights: 45% magic DR @ Parry % (~ 20% giving +9% magic DR overall)
I am going to put these as a wash in terms of utility. The Paladin threat loss is crippling in fights where its important, and LoH can be used on others, at the same side the DK one is magic damage only so cannot be utilised on pure physical fights yet has a deflection like effect on magic fights that no other tank can match.
So basically in terms of CDs it basically seems to come down to AD (30% DR effect) vs Vampiric Blood. AD is probably the stronger of these two however the short CD on WoTN likely makes up for this in raw mitigation equivalence.
So from the looks of it, Blood DKs would appear to be on a similar level to Paladins at current with the EH differential not being able to account for the self healing / ICD on WoTN which basically can only be measured on average. This perhaps suggests that DK need a deflection mechanic.
This makes me think the best solution is something akin to:
Frost Presence: +5% base mitigation [+7%] (0.873 base multiplier, [0.854])
Blade Barrier: When both your Blood Runes are on CD triggers the blade barrier effect (15s duration), granting a % chance equal to your parry chance to reduce damage taken by [str*0.5], 3 charges.
In effect this mitigation should balance the base level of the tanks making them equal there with a deflection mechanic in place of mitigation on blade barrier which is similar in power to Holy Shield (~ 1,250 block). The lowered number of charges compared to HS reflects the ability to refresh faster (once per 5s under ideal conditions). This is not a full deflection mechanic, its not as powerful as Paladins full block (under ideal conditions it is lowered mitigation and uptime (due to non unhittable status) vs a 2.0s boss swing timer), nor as controllable as say Druid or Warrior versions which can maintain 100% uptime effectively.
That should balance out the raw damage taken numbers, the pure EH worst case I am not going to consider balancing given then unmeasurables in the scenario (self healing, potential, ICD on WoTN which reset on a very short timer compared to a proper CD). From this perspective I would say Tanks do not need to be balanced around raw EH provided Blizzard are not including one shot bosses that do not cover at least Tank Health * 1.5 ( > any secondary CD requiring 1 external CD minimum or 2 personal CDs). The issue arises with single shots at 1.01*-1.14*, or 1.3*-1.59* where by Paladins (and Druids due to higher EH) have a massive bonus due to the effective numbers on the cooldowns.
In terms of the other 2 DK specs more work needs to be done towards a stronger deflection talent to account for the lack of self healing. Likely both specs should have a high end + stamina talent to equalise base health making it easy to work out the danger zones of EH for the game designers.
Frost would likely aim for UA being something like salvation without the threat loss. Its mitigation technique being active in my mind:
Frozen Armour: 20s CD, 10s duration: Reduces physical damage taken by [str+500] for the duration.
This makes the damage taken spikier (given they are an avoidance build this makes sense) but high (like Shield Block for Warriors).
For Unholy I would simply increase the effectiveness of Blade Barrier:
Bone Blades: Your scourge strikes increase the number of charges on Blade Barrier by 1 and the damage absorbed by [str*0.25] for 5s, increases stamina by [3%]
Should work to equalise numbers a lot I think while still making DKs active tanks.
Blood DK vs Paladin seems like a fairly equal scenario bar 1 shot EH comparison where Paladins have an advantage. However this scenario covers such a small time period (0 heals within 2 boss swings) that it is very complex considering the interaction of controllable self healing and short ICD abilities.
Equalising overall base mitigation - removing the ~5s start of fight when a DK is vulnerable compared to other tanks:
Frost Presence: +5% base mitigation [+7%] (0.873 base multiplier, [0.854])
Adding a deflection equivalent making DKs damage taken roughly equivalent to Warriors (which is ~ equal to Paladins but spikier)
Blade Barrier: When both your Blood Runes are on CD triggers the blade barrier effect (15s duration), granting a % chance equal to your parry chance to reduce damage taken by [str*0.5], 3 charges.
Divine shield, a 5 minute CD 12s immunity with a 50% damage penalty while active, it is often seen in PvP to be overpowered given its effectiveness.
The Hunter equivalent is a 1 minute CD, 5s frontal 100% parry 100% spell deflection chance.
Seeing these two actually makes me believe that Divine Shield is underpowered for its cooldown. A sensible rework for this ability would be to place it in a similar role to deterence:
Divine Shield, 1 minute CD 5s immunity, cannot attack.
This would make it an active cooldown for usage and bring it in line with the other similar immunity talent. If you are wondering why it has to remain an immunity rather than an effective immunity the answer is the protection spec which would otherwise have the most awesome tanking cooldown ever (so the boss doesn't stop hitting me and I am immune... awesome).
I was reading through a blog (Ask in Game), and a few words sprang out at me:
This is a very true statement, the availability of EPIC quality gear is problematic for the game, the availability of EPIC level gear is not problematic.
I see more and more pugs now asking to see the Epic achievement (to see how close you are, or indeed demanding it be complete). This measures two separate tasks, firstly that the loot is EPIC quality, and secondly that its iLevel is at least 213. What jumps out at me is that there are many good Superior quality items (JC Crab for instance) that are useful and yet their stat allowance is much lower than that of an Epic quality item.
Blizzard appear to have missed a trick here to top us ramping up stats so quickly, they can offer high iLevel lower quality items that have the same effect as offering low iLevel Epic items. Why is the gear that drops from a Heroic end boss Purple and Epic rather than simply a higher iLevel blue item?
if you think through it logically, why aren't the rewards the same across 10 and 25 man tiers, the iLevel (and thus scaling of vehicles) could be the same while offering us new qualities of armour:
Poor Quality - Vendor Trash
Normal Quality - White items
Uncommon Quality - Green Items - 5 Man
Superior Quality - Blue Items - 5 Man Heroic
Epic (10) Quality - Teal Items
Epic (25) Quality - Purple Items
Legendary Quality - Orange Items
It just seems that the iLevel of your gear should relate to your skill and experience, while its quality should relate to the difficulty in attaining it allowing us to actually differentiate more easily, if we want Ulduar geared people we ask for Teal (10) min Epic achievement, we can easily gauge instances by what we need from them rather than the hidden iLevel of doom.
I was thinking again (yeah bad thing to do) and it came to me that realistically a non-dot class is always going to be burst based eventually (it might take some setup, and the setup period can be used to control PvP burst, however eventually it will need to be capable of doing N,000 DPS).
Thinking this, with Retribution hoping to sit around 6,000 DPS at T8.5 made me think of our rotation:
9 6 9 6 9 6 ... repeat, roughly 9s rotation (slightly longer to get the full pattern in place since the abilities swap position but basically a 9s rotation). Consecration handily lasts roughly this long, and is damage over time based.
So 9s duration, 6,000 DPS ~ 54,000 DPS (2 CS, 3 3.0s melees, 1 DS, 1 Judgement + seal procs) and I started to see an attack pattern more like:
Consecration---------------- 18,000 Damage over 9s ~ 2K DPS
|.Divine Storm------------- 4,500 Damage over 9s ~500 DPS
|.|.Judgement------------- 3,000 Damage, 6,000 Damage DoT (9,000 over 9s) ~ 1K DPS ~ 3,500 DPS at this point with low burst
|.|.|Crusader Strike + Seal Proc + applies debuff
|.|.|Crusader Strike + Seal Proc + applies debuff
|.|.|Crusader Strike + Seal Proc + applies debuff
The remaining 2,500 DPS to be made up over 3 GCDs (2,500 *9 = 22,500 damage per ability, roughly 3,500 CS, 2,000 Seal).
The rotation can be made interactive via procs (Art of War, Vengence, whatever) subbing in spike damage or large dots in place of the CS portions. At this stage the retribution Paladin cannot burst effectively as there are multiple options to forward / backwards setup buffs:
Consecration is the highest priority, it buffs all other damage. Divine storm then sets up a 3-5 stack of debuffs that can be taken off a target (setting up a CS string the same way death runes do for Blood giving the HS HS HS HS [HS HS] string if desired). Finally Judgement sets up CS to actually activate seal procs making Crusader strike the most damaging part of the rotation (however requiring the setup 3GCDs to actually perform well). If backwards synergy is desired, CS can setup a buff acting to improve damage done by non-CS sources meaning your rotation is always best served by mixing CS and other strikes (so the CS CS CS CS CS CS plan is a bad one, as is Judge CS CS CS CS CS CS).
Procs such as art of war feed into making the spec bursty, proccing nice damage boosts or tricks like exorcism.
This further compromises PvP burst by harming mobility, without an active consecrate under them the Ret paladin loses damage and thus becomes less capable of burst by default. This functions like desecration however without the snare making Ret's kill the use of HoJ to keep a target within Consecration (ticking at ~ 2K/tick) and enabling the burst setup. This also means casters must move from ret (standing and pounding is dangerous), and forces gap openings on melee combats to counter ret's lack of MS or similar (standing near Ret will hurt even if you are hurting them, ergo encouraging attack and feints).
On PvE fights, the short duration of the Rotation (9s) means a Ret forced to move is not overly penalised (they will get into combat, drop Consc within 9s and get upto speed in the rotation), and you are not penalised for swapping target overly other than the loss of the reverse synergy between the CS debuffs and DS/Consc/Judgment. Retribution at this stage has massive AoE DPS potential (2,000 DPS from consecration per target, in a situation like Freya with 15 targets would see spikes of 30,000 DPS) requiring the addition of a damage cap similar to that of other AoEs or perhaps scaling with the Paladin's stats (so a 2,000 DPS consecration caps at 15,000 DPS + crits, while a 2,500 DPS consecration caps at 17,500 + crits) to stop the problem other caps have of making the spell stop gaining power as you gear up.
A 9s rotation is quite short, however it is reasonably comparable to that of a destro lock:
Repeat to keep immolate up,CB / Conflag on cd.
Ours would require stricter control and the correct substitution of procs to make it effective rather than the Destro lock badly overlapping CD model.
I would argue that this model is already applied via Affliction locks and similar having an effective rotation (ok the dot timers line up horribly) similar to:
Corruption (should only need cast once, the exact order of this rotation is wrong but the idea is there)
Curse of Agony
Curse of Agony
The DPS of the spec is instantaneous (it is in its full swing from the second Haunt is up) and maintains this easily. The filler portions are due to the badly overlapping timers of the dots (which could be closed up and made into a perfect rotation like the 969 or my proposed Ret).
Ret at this point would have lowered burst, and high DPS potential, however still lacking is a reason to break the rotation in PvP. The obvious solution to this is to alter the functionality of DS and Judgement making one of these an interrupt (I would suggest judgement for this setup since in my vision it enables the seal procs on CS), and the other into a mutating ability such as the use of Death Runes such that it can be worthwhile losing the setup damage from the DS in return for the mutated ability proccing from it in certain situations. In this case something like:
Divine Storm: Deals 110% weapon DPS*N to M targets (including current target) and heals for (M, max 4) * damage dealt * K. The paladin gains "awesome buff" for 9s increasing Holy damage by L%.
Paladin MS: Prevents all healing to the target for 4.5s (GCD + 2 Strikes), requires the Paladin to not have awesome buff.
In effect a forebearance effect: PMS > DS works, DS > PMS does not, meaning if you expect the target to be healed you break your damage rotation (substituting in CS with no seal proc, or an early judgement) for the ability to interrupt the healing done to the target.
This finally puts us in the right position:
Paladins have a simple rotation
Paladins have a modifiable rotation (proc based so its not a simple macro dps)
Paladins have a reason to reduce their DPS potential for utility gain
Paladins have the ability to kill healers / other targets by chaining Stun / MS effects, however need high time on target to do so
Paladins retain the utility at the cost of damage model they have currently.
One major issue which crops up with this solution is the power of consecration. Dealing 18,000 damage over the 9s is ideal to reduce single target burst damage while maintaining overall damage (if you need any help quelling doubts go do the Illidari council fight, his ticks for about 3,000 iirc and is very effective at denying an area but does damage slowly enough that you can escape with only 1-2 ticks at most).
The issue with this is a fight like Kologarn (and to a lesser extent Freya with the adds, however in that case a simple DPS cap on the ability will come into play due to the number of adds), where there are N large high health targets such that the consecration damage is multiplied up in a useful way (Kologarn + active arm = 2K bonus free damage, + health on arm to blow off for last transition means the health taken off it is not useless). This implies some kind of diminishing returns on targets / a target cap such that:
1 Target: 2,000 DPS
2 Target: 3,000 DPS
3 Target, 3,750 DPS
Damage cap applies and reduces effectiveness.
If this is seen as overly powerful, the buff effects can be affected by forbearance making bubbling a real choice rather than a DPS drop for the duration of the immunity. This means that you can effectively tag the paladin into a low DPS support mode by forcing the bubble, however doing this is unlikely given the availability of other similar cooldowns.
A Crab has spoken,
Retribution has too sustained damage for PvE
We shall nerf the damage of Retribution
Alas, once again the wrong approach has been taken between a PvP balance issue and a PvE damage issue. The solution our favourite crab has implemented is to force Retribution into using a dot based seal to build up its damage, and to only stack the dot for this seal through white attacks meaning 3.6s (-haste) between dot stacks.
The major issue burst classes have (Destro locks, Ret Paladins etc) is that we have few attacks and must attain reasonable DPS, for an assumed 6K DPS sustained with a spammable attack and an auto attack we are looking at:
In other words, assuming we hit for 2K with white attacks (4.0 speed weapon), we need to be capable of doing 5.5K DPS with yellow attacks, since these are typically GCD limited we are looking at 5.5*1.5 ~= 8.25k Damage per hit. This is problematic, in PvE its realtively fine it just means we hit very hard with no ramp up (Destro Locks require 1GCD/14s to maintain 100% immolate uptime, and this can likely be averaged to rougly 1GCD in 10). Other classes have other methods for ramping up DPS, and to assist in switching targets part of the ramp stage remains on the player not the target.
For Retribution to achieve 6K DPS we need to look at our abilities:
Judgement - 10 yards, 8S CD (talented)
Crusader Strike - Melee, 4s CD (talented)
Divine Storm - Melee, 10s CD (talented)
Seal procs - Melee, varies.
Consecration - 8 Yard AoE, 8s CD
So for a 60s period, observing GCD limits (so no 4s crusader strikes I am afraid), we can get:
6 Divine Storms
13.33 Crusader Strikes
20 Auto attacks (assume 3.0 speed)
Seal procs equivalent to all melee attacks: ~46.
Assuming damage is split equally we see 6K DPS*60s = 360,000 Damage done per minute, averaged over 100 attacks so roughly 3.6k damage per strike. Assuming this can be done perfectly our burst is now:
3.6k / 8 = 450 DPS consecration
46 attacks @ 3.6K + 46 Seal strikes at 3.6K = 5.5K DPS
Each GCD however you receive 3.6K + 3.6K + 0.45K ~ 7.6K Damage, in other words highly burst based damage since this assumes strikes do not overlap where as melee + special will do so upping the damage potential to 15.2K _ 7.6K + 15.2K as the damage pattern.
Solving this is not a simple task, however you cannot force a large build up onto the class without killing it
What we need is to combine a few tools:
Self buffed damage: Damage increases based on time on target, does not drop off immediately
Target debuffed damage: Damage increases based on time on target, drops off relatively quickly if not focused.
Positional buffed damage: increase damage based on "static" fights
Breaking it down this becomes relatively easy to solve:
Seals proc their effects based on self buffed damage, once you achieve a certain time in combat (15-20s say) you remain buffed unless your opponent can elude you for a significant period (30s-1 minute between strikes, 15-30s if toggleable from range). This is movement independent, target swap independent.
Seals build additional damage based on target debuffs stacked through divine storm and white attacks (Linear increase, not a cliff). This rewards / punishes fast changes but allows the building of aoe threat and damage.
Consecration becomes a self damage buff, stacking 1 stack per tick upto 8, lasting 20s, and boosting the effectiveness of crusader strike.
By combining the 3, we reduce PvP burst (~10s on target for full burst), ramp up linearly, and maintain damage if we are forced to move. We are also forced to employ high mana cost abilities (consecration) to maintain our damage output meaning we will need to trade off Exorcism / Divine Storm for the sustained damage.
So for the third time I decided to level a level 80, my first (Prot Paladin) hit 80 in around 3 days from launch letting me do heroics and gain achievements with the people that honestly didn't care that you were in blues, because if you were in that crowd you were simply good enough to do it. My second character (Death Knight - Blood Tank / Unholy DPS) had a relatively easy time, being a tank I had options to form groups, and due to the lack of a second tier of raiding it was easy to get into a group because it was simply acceptable for a new level 80 to not have an achievement.
My third character(Warlock) is having a much harder time, I do more dps than I ever did as a tank (2.4k ish give or take, enough for even Emalon 25 though lacking for Ulduar). Instead now both of my non-main characters are now having issues because the standard for gear for T7 instances is T8 gear and achievements.
I have been looking forward to the badge alterations, and awaiting the announcement of it since the days of 3.xx. Simply this is a requirement because the expectations of people rise as the tier level rises, for those of us without a raiding multicharacter guild the loss of relative gear quality makes it harder to get the gear to make up the relative gear gap.
I want to really look at this, it makes such little sense that people change so much as a new tier becomes available yet I have seen this so many times so far. From the heroics which I did in bad blues and some junk gear (because I knew I would replace it in those heroics) which now require epics, to the first tier instances which required reasonable blues that now require the epics from the tier above it because people refuse to take the risk that a blue geared character won't fail shocking, even though they can show it on their other 19 characters.
So finally Blizzard has caved in resulting in massive tears, whining, fear for the future, guaranteeing that casuals and raiders both will be punished and abused by this. In case you are wondering I am talking about emblems being grouped together (2 active types), and making them more easily obtainable (current content vs old content), and all I can say is I told you so.
The 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 badge gear while requiring grinding allowed people to move uptowards current content rather than leaving good players stuck in guilds that won't allow them to move onwards within it, and without requiring the guild hopping which leaves a guild in its particular rut unless it gets lucky. I am honestly surprised it has taken Blizzard this long to start this change, the division of 10 and 25 man content into casual and raider status already made a bad division of gearing and the badge situation made it worse.
There isn't really a lot to say for this, it benefits casuals (who eventually get better gear), it benefits alts (who can get better gear), it benefits casual raiders (who get better gear), and it has no major effect on cutting edge raiders (who are the badge ahead of this change anyway). The second change is much more interesting, high end badges (Triumph) from daily Heroics and daily Dungeons, this increases the rate at which a high end raider can achieve gear, and allows non high end raiders to achieve the same gear over a longer period. This does have a negative effect on high end raiders (40 minutes or so dungeons a day for 3 badges weighed against progress ... is it the gear or is it the fun of progress that drives people), and has a minimal effect on anyone else other than allowing us to actually havea reason to do these low end content once we pass our 2nd week of being 80.
Blizzard have done what is necessary, however I believe it will be unpopular for a while up until people realise it needs to be done. The rest of the changes I will hold my tongue for at the moment, I have lots to say but until we get slightly closer to being finalised conjecture is kindof pointless.
For this post I plan to look at a sample progression of gear for a ranged DPS class (Mage) following the ideas I put forward in the previous introduction to scaling. I want to focus on the improvement across the tier 7 –> 8 boundary taking the following as our effective pieces of gear.
Tier 7 BiS: Gown of the Spell Weaver (official ilevel 213, calculated ilevel 212.1509)
Tier 8 BiS?: Conqueror's Kirin Tor Tunic (official ilevel 226, calculated ilevel 228.3120)
Ok, lets take the existing Tier 7 best in slot item as being a good example of gearing for a mage (it looks good to me, intelligence, stamina, crit, hit and spellpower, no wasted sub-optimal stats on it). From this we create our mythical Tier 8 gear using the new required third combat rating ‘spell penetration’.
The objective of altering the progression is to produce multiple tiers of gear which are appropriately and perfectly provisioned without falling into the “+2 to each stat” problem noticed by Ghostcrawler and others. The solution as I see it is to force the introduction of stat diversity onto gear which will make more effective use of the ilevels available to a piece of gear due to the nature of the ilevel formula.
Moving on with the example progression.
Tier 7 best in slot chest piece:
Gown of the Spell-Weaver
Slot: Chest (213)
Mythical Tier 8 best in slot chest piece:
Equip: Improves hit rating by 60.
Looking at this item it improves intellect slightly at the cost of stamina, and drops hit rating for a significant increase in spell penetration (0 –> 50 rating) and a slight increase in spell power. Comparing this upgrade to the Tier 8.5 chest:
|Tier 8.5 chest||Gown of the Spell Weaver|
|Mythical Gown||Gown of the Spell Weaver|
|10 Int |
5 Crit rating
60 SPen rating
10 Spell Power
|10 Sta |
12 Hit Rating
The second looks like box looks like a much better trade in my eyes, it focuses on the same strengths as the original best in slot item and reduces the hit rating slightly to account for increased hit on other items due to inflating ilevels. The gear becomes much more flexible by gaining a third rating on the gear (forcing it to spend points more effectively).
This can be carried out for any piece of gear, adding a third tier and the fourth and final combat rating to the piece we can simply add:
|Mythical Gown Tier 9||Mythical Gown|
|5 Sta |
25 4th Combat rating
20 Spell Power
Or removing the third socket we can increase the fourth combat rating to 55-60 within budget.
Each tier and piece of gear is now clearly differentiated through the provision of these multiple combat ratings and the gear improvements are provided through additional stats as well as improved efficiency. A level 83 item will not be as efficient as these tiered end game epics due to the massive number of ratings on each comparing with perhaps one or two on a standard piece of gear. The only issue comes in with the fourth raiding tier which does not add a fifth rating but instead follows the “+2” pattern, however I would like to think that in this case the gear will be optimised better than others with the knowledge that the hit and penetration caps have been reached leading to a spell power / crit focus for this late game gear.
Hard mode gear is not a tier advanced from the equivalent tier level gear, and as such follows the “+2” model but again as with the fourth tier gear improvement spends the budget on non-required ratings such as crit and spell power. This gives meaningful divisions within hard mode vs tier+1 gear, the hard mode gear will be harder hitting, the tier+1 gear will be less hard hitting but more likely to hit the higher level bosses of that tier. This gives an interesting option to mix and match gear where needed and indeed the best in slot option may be a mixture of previous tier hard mode gear (which we want to encourage guilds to go back and see even if they are progressing the next tier), and the current tier gear. This can be enforced by the provision of trinkets and accessories providing very large volumes of the required combat ratings for each tier allowing flexibility.
I think that is enough of a rough overview of how I see gear progression based on these ratings. There can of course be alterations and the value of each rating can be adjusted to fit viably within the ilevels available. The gear does seem slightly more interesting than a simple “+2” version while still allowing near perfectly optimised gear at each tier meaning fewer outcries of “our gear is intentionally bad”.
(Ilevels calculated using my hacked together matlab file)
I have noticed a recent trend amongst posts by Ghostcrawler and others to note that gear must be badly itemised early in an expansion to allow a suitable gearing curve and progression of gear without simple “Tier 5 of Tier 4+2”. There are three major problems with Lich King in this regard.
1: Itemisation has changed (for example ilevel related armour has been lowered)
2: Each instance to date is similarly designed
3: There are no differences in tier requirements
Point one is largely irrelevant, the itemisation formulas are easy to change to meet the requirements of the instance. The issue of this however comes in for both tanking and PvP (as armour is useful in both) where tiers are now defined largely by those small stat differences rather than assisted by the inherent armour differences.
Point two is important, tier 4 was the first real tanking gear of TBC designed to enable the tanking of relatively hard hitting bosses in Tempest Keep and the Serpent Shrine Cavern. Its focus was on basic flexibility and a good base of abilities.Tier 5 was designed for the latter parts of these instances, mixing higher avoidance with the requirements for the trash of Mount Hyjal and Black Temple. Finally tier 6 was designed for sheer avoidance, enabling tanks to survive the hard hitting bosses of late tier 6 and Sunwell where two hits back to back could be lethal (and crushing blows guaranteed that a third back to back hit would ensure a Warrior tank’s death from the inevitable unlucky crush – which with 65% avoidance, 20% block it was almost guaranteed to be a crush).
Point three though is where I want to focus on, instance design drives itemisation and alas the instance design is “harder, faster, stronger” (aka Daft Punk mode). The issues is that this means proper itemisation results in tiers being the famed “+2 stamina”. This drives the idea that different tiers should require different statistics for full effectiveness, meaning that tier 10 is designed for those challenges while tier 9 is workable, but far from the most effective. This leads to my real thoughts.
Building Wrath of the Lich King to Scale
I will take caster DPS as the ideal example, taking the projected Lich King development:
Tier 7: Naxxramas 25, Eye of Eternity 25, Wyrmwrest (T7) 25, Vault of Archavon (T7) 25
Tier 8: Ulduar 25, Vault of Archavon (T8) 25
Tier 9: Argent Cathedral 25 (?), Vault of Archavon (T9) 25?
Tier 10: Icecrown Citadel (25), Vault of Archavon (T10) 25?
So there are roughly four tiers of content projected at the moment, meaning everything pre-tier 10 is either sub-optimised, has to represent an x+2 item, or must be irreplaceable in a similar way to the Dragon Spine Trophy. This is a bad plan in general because players know what well optimised gear looks like and understand it. Instead I suggest moving to a different system. If we presume that bosses can be different levels, then we can have:
Tier 7: Level 83 Bosses. (ilevel 213+13 hard)
Tier 8: Level 84 Bosses. (Ilevel 226+13 hard)
Tier 9: Level 85 Bosses. (ilevel 239+13 hard)
Tier 10: Level 86 Bosses. (ilevel 252+13 hard)
Tier 10 Hard: Level 87 Bosses. (ilevel 265)
Loot is now automatically scaled, and hardmodes are automatically harder than their normal counterparts by being effectively a tier ahead of the gear design of the current instance. This then allows different stats to have an effect.
Hit rating is the default tool to tweak, and will plateau towards a limit such that it is not much harder to hit a level 87 tier 10 boss than it is to hit a level 83 boss, this means that hit acts as the basic stat for gear to have, the early tiers can be choked full of this easily without allowing the simple replacement of hit later on as items acquire too much of it.
Bosses then have spell resistance (countered by spell penetration), rising from level 84 (so tier 8 bosses would start to become harder to actually hurt requiring the stacking of penetration as well as hit). This scales linearly with level requiring you to increase the stat at each stage in a similar way to the DPS requirement on a tier.
As a third stat (and adding as many as you like per planned expansion, but reasonably I would stick at 3 + fight specific requirements) I would see bosses gaining something akin to resilience requiring “Spell Knowledge” to defeat this mechanic. Again this can grow like the hit rating curve making it a very desirable stat into tier 10 and especially hard modes.
So What Changed?
Gear is now optimised with the following stats:
Tier 7: Intelligence, Hit Rating (Spell), Critical Strike Rating (Spell), Spell Power, Regen Stat (Spirit, MP5), Stamina.
Tier 8: Tier 7 + Spell Penetration.
Tier 9: Tier 8 + Spell Knowledge.
Tier 10: Tier 9 + 2 / different optimisation driven by spell knowledge.
The gear is now scaling better (more stats = more effective ilevels of worth per item due to the ilevel formula), and gear is optimised on a per tier basis. The trinkets at each tier offering +Hit, +Spell Penetration etc are optimised for the tier they are presented on, and can be used to fill gaps in later optimisation in a non-required way (Tier 7 gear + Tier 8 penetration trinket = ok Tier 9 gear). This then has the added benefit of not requiring such an increase in effective DPS across tier levels (13 million damage in 6 minutes for Patchwerk, 24 million for XT-002 in 6 minutes) as the bosses themselves are simply not efficiently taken down in incorrect gear.
This process can be easily complimented by good instance design, while TBC was not the best example of the process we can see for example Zul’aman forcing tank swapping and non-standard healing (heavy bleed bosses, burst spreadable across multiple tanks), active motion from the DPS, and effective use of bandages and other tools to meet the requirement of moving healers. Simply upping tank damage taken or raid damage reaches a fundamental limit (as seen on Muru where guilds took 5 healers due to the DPS requirement, not because 5 healers was a good choice), we need innovative ways to challenge the players which means movement, avoidable damage, strict resource usage and eventual deaths.
This system is applicable to all future tiers as the system is based on boss to player level difference. So when Tier 11 comes out it will be a replica situation to Tier 7, simply arranged gear with few stats, while Tier 14 will have more complex gear that makes more effective use of its ilevel without simply being presented as tier 11+6.
So ends another guild chapter in my WoW history.
I really should stop doing this, but I disagreed with the GM and he decided that it was an unforgivable insult and so after a long speech (thankfully delivered while I was in the Vault of Emalon so I didn't actually read it till later) I was /gkicked.
I can't say its honestly a bad thing, I believe in doing what is necessary for the raid however I do not believe in forcing people to do what is unnecessary. If the situation warrants it then you do everything you can, otherwise doing so is 99% pointless. Yes, a huge disagreement over a flask of stoneblood.
In a raid where the top dps is hitting 3.8k, and the next 3.2k with a projected kill of about 15-18 minutes and 7 healers (2 MT, 1 OT, 1 Slag, 3 Raid) it should really not be necessary for an OT to stack health like no tomorrow due to the very limited damage the fight projects onto them (its a similar situation to XT where the OTs flasking actually makes them harder to heal). Now I had freed up an extra dps as I can shatter the constructs on my own, and was keeping ahead of the add spawns with the shattering, yet 1.3k health would have apparently saved me from 9s without a heal (9s x 3kdps from scorch = 27k + 20k explosion = 47k, I don't have 47k buffed even in stam gear with flasks and dual stam trinkets :)). Surprisingly the GMs comment of heal yourself worked better, surviving two explosions through self healing.
I don't blame the GM, I just disagree with him. M&S this may make me, or just plain annoying but that is the way I am.
Anyway, since I am raiding less I have more time. Blog ahoy with the thoughts I have been having but not written up.
Blizzard is implementing a new instance, we are all feeling rather run down with the rather 'casual' friendly nature of said instance (ok, I will admit my guild still doesn't get the safety dance, and someone always crosses the beams :) ). Ulduar 10 and 25 both have a hard mode, where fights are more complex / damaging (think Sarth +3D) however what does this really mean.
Ok, they can hit the tank harder (proven ineffective unless its a 2 shot... which just results in massive CD rotations), they can enforce a DPS requirement (to stop us stacking healers with those CD rotations), they can force multiple adds (tanks), new targets (tanks), speed burning contests (stacking debuff...). Ok, frankly its all rather dull. Their mechanic of making hard mode in general a 'Daft Punk' mode (Harder, Faster, Stronger) is not really fun, if anything its anti-fun. Every fight can end up like Patchwerk, or like Saph on steroids however it doesn't really test people individually. The benefit of many old instances (and yes I am thinking ZA, Kara in certain points, Leotheras, Teron) was that they tested individuals not just the raid.
Hard modes should not just be 'Daft Punk' mode, there should not be a simple "hit tank twice as hard, up dps requirement to 5k / dps or wipe", instant kill mechanics are equally boring "can x press y or does z die". Instead what I want to see are fights that test us. Imagine for a moment Zul'aman, the Eagle Boss. Sitting in front of you is a boss, your tank and melee are spread 10 yards apart to avoid lightning chains, the ranged further out to minimise damage, the raid starts, and the storm approaches. Suddenly you all pretend to be at a Scottish Wedding and Old Lang Syne starts playing and you rush towards the boss ... one of your misses, getting caught in the outer ring, instead of dying though you rise into the air, your healers now must keep you alive because if you die a lightning point spawns causing a second lightning storm to spawn on a separate timer.
Lets beat around the bush and push it further,in a 10 man instance you are fundamentally restricted to something akin to:
So we are fundamentally limited to ~ 8 roles in the group. 25 man is larger, and each error compounds more but the principle is the same. Archimonde, Teron and suchlike weren't hard fights (stand and dps pretty much), what made them hard was that those players you really never let click cubes on Magtheridon... suddenly had their own personal cube, and if it wasn't clicked they beat up the raid. Hard mode shouldn't be about finding 10 people overgearing an instance, that is simply not fun, it should be more akin to the Oculus, no matter how much you overgear it you cannot gimp the last boss its a matter of skill and knowledge over brute force. Lets have hard modes not test our raw gear stats, normal does enough of that if we want it to, but make the hard mode sufficiently interesting to make them skill fests, no longer do you worry that 10 man hard mode rewards the same as 25 man hard mode simply because it takes the same amount of skill per player to achieve the result, perhaps not perfection, but at least undying.
A lot of bloggers, in addition to the hordes of players and raiders have noticed that the content in the Lich King expansion has to date, been of a lower quality than that of TBC. This might in a large part be due to the changes we have seen in the community, people who once stumbled in Karazhan when they pulled two packs now take such in their stride. The other possibility is that simply the content is not sufficient, which given the size of Naxxramas (13 bosses), coupled with the three single instance bosses, makes it larger than TBC was.
What we can see instead is that the instances do not match up well, while Sartharion may involve a similar time to clear his trash and mini-bosses as Magtheridon’s four wandering packs did, the difficulty and approach is different. The trash leading to Magtheridon required tactics, there was no sheep, no crowd control, simple a case of slowing casting, interrupts, taunts (they dropped aggro), maintaining shield block and holy shield (only trash in the game which crushed). The trash was ultimately simple, but the raw damage possible on a raid was immense, and pulling two packs in a non-badge geared raid was likely a wipe. Following on from it we had Magtheridon himself, 5 cubes, 5 casters, 10 infernals, 2 minutes and then a big demon intent on wiping your raid and bringing the ceiling down on you. Sartharion doesn’t have that, his normal form is simply a tank, spank, and loot condition. What is more interesting are the drakes.
Adding a single drake adds little to the fight, it requires an additional tank (potentially a third for the adds), and does little to change the fight. Two is harder, suddenly there is a time limit on the first drake (well not really, but for the sake of argument we will assume your tank cannot tank 2 drakes at once, and your add tank dies after 5 waves of adds). The fight remains largely the same, all the tanks take more damage and there are void zones (I believe they have a funky name, but for the purposes of vent, don’t stand in the void zone is what I shall yell). A little situational awareness (and please Blizzard, blue portals, on a blue dragon, with blue whelps, in blue/white/red/grey/yellow aoe … make them red or green or something) and its no problem. Essentially the DPS requirement for 0 – 1 – 2 drakes is no different, it is simply a case of continuing to do what you have done (for arguments sake, 2 drakes taking Tenebron and Vesperon requires about 2k DPS for 15 DPS for a kill in a reasonable 90s +- 15s). The problem comes with three drakes.
Three drakes is not simply an extension of the fight, it is tactically no more challenging than a single drake or two, the adds still spawn, dragons still breathe and tailswipe and disciples still appear to make life a misery. What changes is the overlap. While previously we could arrange 90s of DPS per drake, we now have 45s (40 realistically accounting for the tank getting aggro) per drake for a perfect kill (or ~ 4000 DPS, rising to 4500 easily). This in itself isn’t a problem, a guild without the raw DPS (our best attempt was Shadron at 18% when Vesperon landed … and 13 DPS spontaneously combusted on Twilight Torment), could simply maintain a very strong healing, tanking and control presence and defeat the boss (2 drakes up, we have completed 50% of Vesperon and Sartharion with 11 people standing, 5 healers, 3 tanks, 3 dps). This doesn’t realistically work however,the presence of two active drakes (+275% fire damage effectively) means the Sartharion tank is pushed, and external CDs must be thrown on them (which we don’t have, since our healing core is often Shamans and Druids). The fight doesn’t change, the requirements do massively.
Dropping Sartharion + 3 drakes into Black Temple wouldn’t have seemed out of place, massive raid damage (check Blood Boil, Mother etc), control aspects (Blood Boil, Naj’entus), vast phase differences (Illidan), and multi-tank control (Council). The difference lies in the fact that the tanks have no control over their own life, Paladins, Warriors and Druids cannot survive a Vesperon + Shadron phase with 2 disciples up. By forcing the raid to support the tanks they force people to play a role they do not normally play, and add a whole new level of situational awareness that cannot be represented by sticking a skull on the affected target’s head. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact its probably good, but as the only real challenging fight in the game it sends a bad signal. What it says is that Blizzard cannot tune fights, let alone tune them to have multiple victory conditions.
I have been rerunning Black Temple recently, every fight barring the Illidari Council is tank, spank, and loot, Naj’entus, a control fight, can now be achieved by dpsing around the bubble, in short we can remove the control elements of the fight through raw dps. This isn’t an option on Sartharion, a five tank, three drakes still standing with 8 healers and semi-competent dps approach simply will not work, the time spent killing disciples would be overwhelming, the aoe spared on the adds would make an enraging Shade of Aran (15 minutes) seem short. There is no realistic control aspect to this fight, tanks get bored the second time they do it, the Sartharion tank stands and avoids firewalls (just like 0 drakes), the drake tank picks up drakes (just like the drakes themselves), and the add tank, sensibly demands the healers group together in the middle when a portal spawns, and grabs the adds effortlessly (if your healers spread out, this job makes solo tanking High King Maulgar look easy). The healing aspect is no different either, there is no massive damage spike to heal, there is no interesting damage pattern (see Bloodboil for group damage options, or Leotheras for positional damage and interest). The dps has a moderately interesting time in that twilight torment makes them pay attention to their health, which since WoTLK has not been their problem (Illidari council, your health was your problem, and it still is since each AoE ticks for about 3000 damage). Instead, the fight can largely be put down to two things:
High DPS – Perfect kill of 45s per drake, means 1 disciple up at each time
Massed Cooldowns – Negates the magic killer breaths
That is the only tuning knob Blizzard has shown us so far, “XXX casts ‘Magic breath of doom’, take more damage than you have health”. It is not a fun knob, Illidari council showed us huge amounts of magic damage (mage tank, aoe, poison, immunity) while ensuring it was spread and that a tanks role was not to stand there and pray someone hits a cooldown in time. We learned from Mother that you can make huge magic damage interesting (three people get teleported, while they are near each other everyone nearby takes massive damage), and we learned from Magtheridon that massive magic damage doesn’t need to be survivable, but it shouldn’t be class specific to save you from it. Instead of tuning the fight to make it interesting we got a fight which focuses you on raw dps, or raw cooldown usage. Sartharion and the drakes are protecting the eggs that they would hatch. A Magtheridon style (assault the eggs to force Sartharion to break off) gimmick would have been interesting and more suitable for multiple raid makeups, similarly adding an aspect like Mother’s cleave, Kil’Jaden’s orbs, or even Kael’thas’s shields and weapons would have been interesting.
Perhaps, once I kill this guy it might be a more interesting fight, to look on the M&S and go “well we killed him”, but that doesn’t really appeal to me, frankly my guild should have killed him by now, we can sit around a 50-58s drake kill without heroism, yet we bounce off and the level of other content has made attendance suck. The problem is that for the tanks, we simply cannot survive on our own (and yes we have rigged a bear tank, and we have a DK who can do the tri-spec and rotated CDs well, you still need to be careful), for the majority of our healers (and often we will support 1-2 Paladins / Priests in a raid) we are looking at few cooldowns to use on the killer breaths, meaning we can have our druids and shamans sitting there looking on, knowing the tank is going to die, and cannot do anything. This fight moved towards a game that isn’t World of Warcraft, where healers take an interactive role in tank survival, alas the World of Warcraft classes aren’t setup to play that game, and from the perspective of a tank used to having to pull out the stops to survive, or relying on massive overhealing (Patchwerk, 20 man, other tanks dead was interesting) it is a step in the wrong direction, because it means all I do is meaningless, I am not tanking the boss but rather dying slowly enough, it is a magic bullet game when we thought we were playing roles.
Blizzard needs to balance content around the classes as they are, and by that I don’t mean mages, locks and boomkin but tanks, healers, dps, and support. A fight of course can be managed easily if you rig your raid, or if you manage a great exploit such as voidwalker tanking, however the simple fact is that a fight can and should be doable in many ways (especially a hard mode version designed to test players), that may mean exceptional control (Council fights), it may be over healing (Patchwerk with 1 tank, Gruul), it may mean working as a team (Al’ar), or simply it may mean throwing all you have at a fight and not losing, but forcing a specific setup at a raid isn’t something we can all do, and if you don’t let us approach it in ways we can, then we can’t consider it hard or interesting but rather “Blizzard has a new toy”.
Simply, my blog has fallen by the wayside, raiding, WoW itself have all become rather dull and more a tedium and way to kill time than perhaps they should be. The nature of the content has changed from TBC where Karazhan was fun and stressful, and working your way into raiding was hard. I suppose it is a good change, making raiding more open, but in so doing they removed what it was.
The PTRs coming up don't exactly fill me with joy either, the bosses being cleared in sub 30 minutes by top guilds seems rather worrying, yes they will be buffed but Blizzard has lost the ability to twiddle knobs to tune fights, and seems to be resorting to "big magic spike kills tank", which as a tank is the least amusing kind of fight because there is strictly nothing I can do to stop it. Hard mode and achievements, these aren't the game they are optional extras which have become the game. Sartharion +3D is a stupidly easy fight from a tactics perspective (our 3 tanks were bored after the 3rd pull), yet we simply do not have the DPS to push each drake in 45s (perfect kill), and the transition with Vesperon spawning a disciple while Shadron is up (don't ask people to kill them, its just confusing it seems) is very hard without people willingly spending cooldowns on the Sarth tank.
Fights have come a long way to simply regress, we have gone back to the days where Gruul was the trick, dps in time or your tank goes splat. Its not fun, its not amusing, and its becoming more common. I think its time to get back in the saddle though and talk about it, to look at each fight and see why it is the way it is, and what part of it is interesting and worthwhile.
Hope I manage to keep up, because this will be an interesting turn.
The blog sphere has brought this topic up, essentially there are a few camps:
Feel the current raiding quality / quantity is not high enough, and would like to see some real progression even within instances. This likely mimics the difficulty of the tier five instances where most guilds (once attunements removed) could down Void Reaver and Lurker, but had to work a little for Hydross and Al'ar before moving onto the rest.
This is however the Karazhan of instances, so likely they are looking for something like Curator which was the key to the latter half of the instance (Naxx has similar, however its more typically difficulty due to the random lag difficulty mode applied by the server). The curator wasn't a raw DPS check (though he did that), he was a DPS, co-ordination (can you make people kill 12k adds), burst (can you kill 12k adds in 10s at approximately 500dps / player), and a healing check / movement check (yes Curator could kill a blue tank quite easily).
I don't think hardcore raiders are asking for twitch fights or even raw gear checks, but rather fights where you need to co-ordinate 25 people and have 20+ of them survive. Heigan is a great example of this, his floor now easily kills 13 of my raid every week (never more than 8 manned it by the end including combat resses and stones), yet we can down him with 8, heck we can down him with 2. There is no skill in Heigan's floor, there is no twitch, it is literally moving between 4 set points on the floor in order at a set pace (the melee have it slightly harder since the pre-dance steps seem to alter in length slightly). There is no dps during this phase, no complex dps here, watch cooldowns, avoid the fire, and do something, it is simply moving, and most people die in the fire.
I would likely put myself in this category, you turn up and raid. People know roughly what the boss is about, and grasp it fairly quickly. Similar to hardcore raiders it would be nice to have options in what to do. I think one of the best times in WoW TBC was actually with the removal of attunements and the option to raid:
Serpent Shrine Cavern: 1-4
Tempest Keep: 1-3
Mount Hyjal: 1-2
Black Temple: 1-4
All those are relatively easy bosses and downable with a reasonable group, now we have the lag fest that is Naxxramas 25...
Raiders in terms of skill are a mixed bunch, some moving and fighting, some being stationary turrets, yet none of the fights in Naxx are twitch. The twitchiest fight is Thaddius, a 5+ second (casting animation + 5s grace) swap of polarities, this has been mentioned as twitchiness, spatial awareness and similar as a challenge, yet it has none of those since its is a case of run forwards to the boss when you see him cast, run backwards if you don't change / forward if you do. Comparing the twitchiness of this to something like Rainbow 6 is like comparing paint by numbers to the Cisteen chapel, in Rainbow 6 taking the 5s to thing about his cast will get you shot in the head looking at a loading screen for the next hour and a half as two players refuse to die :P.
I think the casuals have come out well from Blizzards new design scheme, in that the raiding instances are all available to them at the moment. This is a good thing, but it makes me worry when I hear "its too twitchy" or "20 people died on Heigan". The level of difficulty is likely to ramp up, we haven't seen a Karazhan equivalent yet (Prince thrashing for more than your health total and doing it at random), we have complaints.
I think its a good thing to open up the instances, and even more so to make badge gear grow with the top level instance. Nothing in my mind is worse than not being able to move guild or go do something else because you didn't in the past, this isn't heart surgery where we need to know what a heart is, the old badge gear scaling allowed players to see more content, and filled the gaps. I have heard so many people say "allow badge gear, but only to ilevel 200", frankly thats annoying. Allow it to whatever, cover the RNG holes, give people the chance once Icecrown is out to buy T8 equivalent gear for badges because otherwise we will have problems gearing people up to that level to see it. I was a badge tank for 90% of TBC (stupid paladin optimisation :P), and you know I didn't feel any worse than someone in full T5 because I worked for my gear a heck of a lot harder in terms of hours and similar to be fully kitted out, and I made the choices that were correctly optimised for the role I wanted to play. Badge gear allows for choices, not for "I have T8 therefore I am better than T7).
As a random aside, Ghostcrawler noted that T7 was badly optimised, most of our gear is, some people didn't understand this until you explain that any piece of gear without the correct stats on it (4 of your best stats) is under-optimised for what you want to be doing. Now Blizzard says this is to make the tiers different rather than simply +2 to spell power, but that is not true at least from a Paladin perspective.
Tier 4: Generic Tanking Gear
Tier 5: Block Tanking Gear
Tier 6: Avoidance/ threat Tanking Gear
Tier 6.5: Threat Tanking gear
The tiers weren't simply clones of each other as GC implies, instead they were subtly different and had a purpose for each new tier. If we are going to see new content, why not have the gear we wear tailored to that level and then give us the option to mix and match as needed. 13 Ilevels can be a huge difference when gear is intended for different tasks rather than simply focusing towards one specific role.
Skills, I have them, posts dated to the future will appear some time sooner than 2010.
-- Post From My iPhone
So I haven't been posting much, being honest I haven't been playing much, the game has been boring me to no end, Naxx is a level 60 challenge with level 80 stats, we have seen it's ilk before (and I never saw the original :P).
However, New Year, New Plan.
Going to post, going to write, going to do more living :P
Spent new year in Dundee (in Underground if anyone knows it, was the guy throwing the drunk friend of flatmate of a friend out of the club once he started getting a little bit too drunk). I realise that its silly, being bored of a game, it is what we make it, I think I might end up guildless again, not because I have to or any reason but because I enjoyed it more, being able to pick a random group of people and pick a target and just go, I think that is what I want to do for now, make the challenge of my choosing rather than one of arbitrary limitations.
So, Happy New Year guys, it has been insightful to me so far, so I hope it has been good to you.