Updated Tue, Feb 23, 2010 by Messiah
In the patch currently being tested on the PTR servers almost every single character class is seeing some level of change. The only ones left untouched so far are Paladins and Druids, which is probably a good thing at least for Paladins since they have seen quite a few changes lately. Paladins have seen reduced health and threat in the not too distant past. While you can find the PTR Patch 3.3.3 notes here, in this article I am going to discuss just the class sections. Let’s start going through the changes and what they mean to each class.
Death Knights see a large number of changes, many of them fairly simple though. First off Icy Touch now causes very high threat while in frost presence. This is a good boost as it is usually your opening ability while tanking to start getting diseases going on the target and with DPS players throwing out more and more damage threat is an issue early in fights. Next up Rune of Razorice changed how it stacks to make it easier to keep a full 10% frost vulnerability on your enemies.
Blood spec sees Abominations Might change to a passive 5/10% attack power boost rather than only on proc after specific attacks. Also Will of the Necropolis has been cleaned up substantially having its internal cooldown removed as well as the rule that you must have taken at least 5% of your health in damage to activate, Death Knight tanks rejoice!
Frost has Endless Winter change to grant 2%/4% strength instead of applying frost fever when chains of icing targets. The previous effect is now available from the Glyph of Chains of Ice. Nerves of Cold Steel now ups your damage with your off-hand weapon while dual-wielding by up to 25% damage instead of 15%. Lastly for frost Death Knights Unbreakable Armor grants 20% strength instead of 10%.
Unholy sees a change that may bring back disease-less combat through a change to the Scourge Strike mechanic. It now deals 70% of weapon damage plus 12% bonus damage as shadow damage per disease on the target, this is instead of the old 50% / 25% breakdown. The overall damage with diseases should be about the same as it currently is, but will be higher than it currently is without diseases.
Overall the proposed changes to Death Knights simplify some complicated talents, up threat for tanks, and up overall damage. I would call this a solid patch for Death Knights if it goes through to live.
Beatmaster hunters have their Ferocious Inspiration changed to always grant up to a 3% boost to all raid or party members within 100 yards. This is instead of only granting the bonus for 10 seconds after your pet scores a critical hit. Overall this change probably doesn’t amount to that much as with pet attack speeds and crit rates in the end game you were never without the bonus for long anyway. It is nice that it is a reliable bonus now though.
All mages get a boost to Frostbolt damage because of a boost to spell power scaling on it by about 5%. All three talent specs also see changes to their abilities.
Starting with Arcane, Arcane Empowerment now provides a constant boost of up to 3% damage to raid and party members instead of only after a crit is scored. I guess since Hunter pets got this simplified, our raid food/water pet had to get the same treatment! Again, not a big change and likely will not effect anything, but cleans up a background mechanic in the game. Incanter’s absorption now only provides a spell power boost when the incoming damage is absorbed by Mana Shield, Frost Ward, Fire Ward, or Ice Barrier. The requirement that you suffer at least 5% damage has been removed.
Fire mages now produce less threat due to a buff to Burning Soul. The talent now reduces threat by up to 20% instead of 10%.
Frost mages can now choose to use Fireball or Frostfire Bolt as a result of their Brian Freeze Proc. This makes the talent much more attractive to mages that spec for Frostfire Bolts. An internal cooldown was added though so that the free frostfire bolt could not trigger another one.
Discipline Priests see an increase in their Renewed Hope talent in the form of a boost from 20 to 60 seconds on the reduced damage portion of the talent. The ability retains a 20 second cooldown however. This should mean that the 3% less damage ability will stay up more consistently and not fall off in the middle of a fight.
Rogues in general see a potential boost in damage due to their Rupture abilities DoT effect now being able to crit. In addition Subtlety Rogues have several changes pending for this patch. The first change is a big one since it allows Filthy Tricks to now reduce the cooldown by up to 10 seconds and reduce the energy cost by up to 10 of Tricks of the Trade, Distract, and Shadowstep. It still reduces the cooldown of Preparation by up to 3 minutes.
Ghostly Strikes sees a big increase in damage, now dealing 180% of weapon damage instead of 125% if a dagger is equipped. Hemorrhage sees a similar boost from 110% to 160% when a dagger is equipped. Slaughter from the Shadows now increases damage done from attacks by up to 5% in addition to its previous effects. Lastly, Waylay’s debuff can now be triggered by Backstab in addition to Ambush.
Overall these buffs may be enough to bring back the subtlety rogue which has been driven to near extinction due to Combat’s higher damage output. Not playing a Rogue it makes it hard to assess what the exact impact will be, but I know that when I do see a subtlety rogue in a raid they do far less damage, and even in PvP my arena partner complained recently that the Resilience buff has hurt him is subtlety worse than in combat.
All Shamans Flame Shock DoT effects can now crit and is affected by spell haste. This should mean a decent damage increase from the ability. Also both Elemental Shaman and Enhancement Shaman see their buff abilities increase due to Elemental Oath and Unleashed Rage both becoming passive boosts to crit or attack power. This gets rid of the proc and uptime only after a Shaman Crits. In end game gear, as with the other classes that see this type of change, it shouldn’t make much difference either way, it just cleans up a mechanic.
As with many of the other classes, one of the core abilities that causes a DoT can now have the DoT portion of the damage crit. For Warlock’s this is now the case with Immolate.
Demonology Warlocks get a buff to Demonic Pact as it will now last for 45 seconds instead of 12 after a pet crit. This should mean much more stable uptime instead of it sporadically disappearing during a fight.
Warriors get a big boost to Revenge which now does 50% additional damage. In addition Fury Warriors will see Rampage become a passive ability instead of a proc after a critical hit. Again, this appears to be a mechanic cleanup rather than a DPS change.
Overall the changes are not huge to any single class, although there are a lot for Subltety Rogues and Death Knights. Most of the changes seem to be minor to allow for more uptime on buffs and get rid of minor mechanics that don’t really apply anymore with current end game gear. Since players are seeing the benefit of near 100% uptime with the abilities in the end game, I can only assume that Blizzard felt they should see them throughout the game.
Rogues and Death Knights do see quite a few changes, but mainly in the way of tweaks, not entire re-writes.
Remembering that this is PTR that we are talking about and anything can, and likely will, change quite a few times before its release into the real game, I like what I see so far. Only time on the PTR servers will let us know for sure though.