As with any patch there are many changes that will occur to the game when World of Warcraft patch 4.3 launches. Some of those changes will benefit players while others will hurt players. The changes that hurt players are considered nerfs and that is what I want to discuss here.
Some of the nerfs are small and while important to the player of that class they are not game changing. The big nerfs that change priorities or how the game is played are the ones that warrant discussing.
Also keep in mind that all of these nerfs are subject to change or adjustments before they actually make it into the game. The nerfs discussed here are based on the Patch 4.3 PTR notes as posted by Blizzard on October 18th.
WoW Patch 4.3 Druid Nerfs
The Druid class is set to see several changes, however two of them are considered pretty serious nerfs by players.
The first is that [ps spell=48438]Wild Growth[/ps] healing is being reduced by 20%. Wild growth has become very powerful over time and accounts for a lot of a druid's healing. In some cases as much as 50% of a druid's heals can come from Wild Growth, and this is just too much from one spell. Especially given the ability for a druid to pre-HOT critical targets. A decent change, even if it is a nerf, as a Druid I can deal with this.
Looking over a pile of Firelands raid logs you can find that almost all high end raid groups have at least one Druid healer with Wild Growth doing over 40% of that druid's healing in the fight. Any one spell doing that much, screams that it is unbalanced. In one such fight a druid did 1.4 million healing in a Ragnaros kill over a little less than 5 minutes. This change would drop that down to a bit over a million healing.
This change will probably mean that raids will have to adjust healing roles and priorities a bit. I dont see it being the end of the druid healer though as it is just one part of their healing ability. It does, however, mean that other healers will be expected to AOE heal a bit more. It may be more difficult to 5 man runs where druids have gotten used to spamming it to keep up a group of PUGs where the players are too lazy to get out of AOE damage.
With feral druids there will be a downgrade of [ps spell=62078]Swipe (cat)[/ps] having its damage reduced to 340% weapon damage from 415% weapon damage. While all the feral druids will complain about this, feral has been consistently high damage. Also Swipe tends to not be used a whole lot in boss fights therefore it probably is not a huge deal to raiders, but more to players leveling up or fighting trash. Just a reminder to players out there Trash DPS doesnt mean crap, neither do 5 man instances, so this should not be considered a big deal, but is being thought of that way anyway.
WoW Patch 4.3 Paladin Nerfs
Paladins are being subjected to two nerfs as well in Patch 4.3, the first is to Seal of Insight and its ability to return mana, and the second is a change to the Holy Radiance Spell.
The big change for Holy Paladins will be that [ps spell=20165]Seal of Insight[/ps] no longer returns 15% of mana when judged. This amounts to a big nerf to them as they could judge at distance and get mana regen through it. Now it will no longer grant them mana unless they are in melee range attacking and hitting a target, not something any healer is likely to be doing.
Since mana has not been an issue for most healers for a long while in this expansion, it is hard to say how much this will really effect Holy Paladins. This is especially true since the talent Judgements of the Pure will now increase mana regen from spirit by up to 30% after judging a seal. This may equal out, but that remains to be seen so is being considered a fairly substantial nerf for now.
The other huge change / nerf is to [ps spell=82327]Holy Radiance[/ps]. Since it was an instant before all Paladins could use it in one way or another. For example as a tank or as DPS you could trigger Holy Radiance to help out in AOE damage situations and not have to think about it too much. However, now since it is cast, it is essentially verboten as a tank and close to it as DPS. It also means that it must be cast while stationary so it cant be used as a quick ability while repositioning.
The changes to Holy Radiance essentially mean that it is a Holy spec only spell now.
WoW Patch 4.3 Shaman Nerf
The big incoming nerf for Shaman in this patch is the change to [ps spell=57994]Wind Shear[/ps], changing its cooldown from 6 to 15 seconds. While it can be lowered down to 5 seconds through talents, that talent will likely only be available to elemental and enhancement shaman. This means restoration shaman lose the ability to interrupt nearly as often in a fight.
This amounts to a huge nerf for PVP shaman where it was critical that the healer in an arena team help interrupt as well as heal whenever possible. However, in a PVE role as a healer, this should not change all that much. If you are on a 2v2 or 3v3 arena team though, this is fairly significant and will mean saving your Wind Shears for critical moments rather than using them every 6 seconds.
WoW Patch 4.3 Warrior Nerfs
Last up on the nerf list is the Fury Warrior who sees a loss of roughly 5% damage due to [ps spell=23588]Dual Wield Specialization[/ps] no longer increasing all physical damage by 5%. This is a big hit to Fury Warriors, however to see its effect we have to look at the bigger picture and look at several high end raid logs.
Looking there almost all Ragnaros kills have a fury warrior in the top 3 DPS slots and their DPS is significantly better than many other DPS slots. This 5% drops them more in par with other melee classes, especially rogues. Even though I like my warrior friends I always find it odd that they can live longer in fights and cause more damage in most cases than rogues who should be the defacto melee DPS class.
While this change is defiantly a nerf, the 5% damage reduction will still leave fury warriors right in the mix for the DPS caused and should not affect their raid viability. For non-raiders the 5% will likely not even be noticed as they are generally not as fine tuned as raid characters.
Other Patch 4.3 Nerfs
There have been several other nerfs listed that have already been removed or changed from Blizzards PTR patch notes and I expect more to appear or disappear as we get closer to the release of patch 4.3.
For example Demonology Warlocks were set to lose 5% spell damage from Demonic Knowledge, however that has already been removed from the patch notes. Instead Destruction has been buffed significantly, which is good since it was the low man on the totem pole in raids as a warlock spec.
Next up mages were set to lose some control with slow effects having their duration reduces. Arcane mages were also set to lose some damage as Arcane Missiles were set to proc 40% of the time instead of 100%. Both of these changes have disappeared from the patch notes as well.
All this to say, nothing is set in stone yet, until 4.3 is released, and even then, Blizzard can always change it again.
My suggestion is to not overreact to the changes and just try to go with the flow and adapt.
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