With the latest patch to the World of Warcraft there were several major changes that have effected raiders. By releasing this patch and the changes it contains before the expansion Wrath of the Lich King it allows players, and especially raiders, to get used to the changes before they are raiding newer and presumably more difficult content at level 80. There are a huge number of changes that affect almost every class, however in this editorial I am going to focus on just a few that will have raid wide impact. Again, there are many others, so don't be surprised by more changes than you see listed here.
The first of the big changes is to Warrior tanking. Warriors are almost completely new classes at this point. They have a large number of new and changed abilities to better deal with tanking. One such ability that saw a complete change is the shield block ability. Shield block was a warriors main method of avoiding crushing blows. Since crushing blows have been removed from bosses with the patch, they no longer need this, so the talent changed substantially.
The old shield block provided a 75% increased chance to block the next attack (or 2 with a talent improvement) and was on a 5 second cooldown. This meant that warriors spent a majority of their time spamming this ability during any raid boss level fight to avoid having crushing blows landed on them. The new talent grants warriors a 100% increase to both their chance to block and their block value for 10 seconds at a time every 40 seconds. This change will allow warriors to save the ability to significantly cut down on the incoming damage when needed, while saving a global cooldown in their regular tanking and threat rotations.
Another tanking change is that in general tanks generate a lot more threat now. It's hard to put an exact value on this as it is different with each class of tank, however on my Paladin tank, my single target threat has jumped by over 20%, and that's without re-gearing to take advantage of new gear mechanics. The last of the big tanking changes is that all tanks now have a valid AoE (Area of Effect) tanking method. All tanks can now hold multiple targets with relative ease, greatly reducing the CC (Crowd Control) required by the group.
One of the biggest changes that many players will notice is the number of AoE abilities and the ability to use them all the time. Warriors, Hunters, Druids and more got solid reusable AoE abilities. In almost all group situations with a competent tank, your best damage is done through mass AoE. This shows up in speed heroic and raid runs possible now. Players are literally swarming heroics and raids for badges, since with decently geared AoE groups it is relatively easy to complete instances like Heroic Ramparts, Heroic Blood Furnace, and Heroic Mechanar is less than 20 minutes. Many groups are speed clearing Karazhan in less than 90 minutes.
One change that will negatively affect players is the removal of the ability to drink a potion any time they want. From now on when you drink a potion you gain a debuff in addition to triggering your two minute potion cooldown. This debuff will stay with you until you leave combat. This means in long raid fights spell casters will need to manage their mana much more carefully, as they will not be able to gain mana back every two minutes by drinking a potion. The same holds true for tanks and health, however more critical is the healers mana.
Another negative change for many raiders has been the gear re-shuffle. Several classes had their gearing change drastically. For example, Protection Paladins saw almost all of their +spell damage removed from their tanking gear and be replaced with more defensive stats. Their gear has been merged with Warrior tanking gear, however since both were available for badges previously, many players are now having to look at replacing their badge gear with what "was" best for them, but is now far inferior to the old warrior tanking gear. Also due to talent and spell changes, many Paladins are having to replace weapons that focused on +Spell Power for threat with large damage weapons to generate threat with Hammer of the Righteous, their new main threat generation tool versus 3 or less targets. Many other classes have very similar issues.
Lastly, all current Burning Crusades have become easier by roughly 30%. This is to help ease the transition to the Wrath of the Lich King, and will allow many guilds to step up a level or two in their raids until WotLK is released. For players just finishing Karazhan it should allow them to easily complete Zul'Aman. For guilds struggling with Hyjal it should allow them to move through the Blank Temple and potentially even the Sunwell. This should allow more players to see more content before it essentially becomes expired, since very few players visit non-endgame raids. As an example, a guild that I am in that could complete Zul'Aman but struggled with getting more than 2 of the 4 animal bosses down in time, was able to blow through ZA this week and still have over 15 minutes left on the timer when the 4th boss was killed.
Overall, patch 3.0.2 has changed the game significantly for raiders. In addition to all of the changes listed above there are things such as mechanic changes, gear changes, talent changes, spell changes, and much more. Score one for Blizzard for keeping the game fresh and different. It's just going to take a while to get used to.
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Ten Ton Hammer network or staff.
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