Posted Thu, Jan 27, 2011 by Cyrak
It’s been an eventful month on the PvP scene, especially for the people eagerly (or not so eagerly) following the changes on the PTR. We’re in for some major changes either this week or the following and everyone’s going to have to adapt since pretty much every class is undergoing some sort of significant rework.
Since the buzz is all about game balance let’s take a look at what’s changing for better or worse.
Let’s start with the good changes. Priests are getting a pretty massive overhaul; their survivability and mana economy are going to be getting a massive boost due to stronger Power Word: Shields, undispellable Pain Suppression, a godly 4 piece bonus on PvP gear that’s going to give them speed every time they bubble themselves and a 4 second jacked up version of Paladins’ Concentration Aura Mastery attached to Inner Focus. Penance is getting a 20% buff as well which will give priests some much needed burst healing. These changes are everything that priests have been asking for and more.
On to the nerfs! Feral Druids are being eviscerated. They are losing the ability to shapeshift out of roots and having some of their damage shifted from their bleeds to their direct attacks. The damage nerfs are somewhat negligible, but the shapeshifting nerf will make them susceptible to the same sort of control that plagues other melee – particularly against Frost Mages.
Balance is an ongoing, iterative process, and we continually examine how class abilities interact and scale with one another. Even when we're not actively developing a patch, we don't just sit around with our hands over our eyes and wait for something to happen. We consider alternatives and monitor areas of balance we feel may need further finessing if things don't stay at the status quo.
Arms Warriors are facing similar nerfs. Intercept and Charge will now share a cooldown under the Juggernaut talent. Charge stun will also now be on the primary stun Diminishing Return. I can’t overstate how huge a change this is, Warriors are essentially losing around 40% of their mobility so fighting one will no longer be like fighting a teleporting sword wielding maniac that’s impossible to control.
Purge is being reduced to 1 charge from 2, Devour Magic is being slapped with a 20 second cooldown and no longer is auto-cast by AI. These are good changes in accordance with Blizzard’s earlier statements that offensive dispels have become too powerful. Crowd Control across the board is also being nerfed by roughly 20% in duration.
Last but not least Bloodlust has been removed from Arenas! Players have been asking for this change since nearly the inception of the ability, and it has finally come.
Somewhat perplexingly Frost Mages have received little in the way of nerfs. Their base mastery rating is getting nerfed and some changes were made to Ice Lance and Frostbolt damage to make it more appealing to use Frost Bolt but otherwise, other than the CC nerfs that are affecting everyone, Mages received little in the way of nerfs. They are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming patch.
Frost Mage control and damage will remain largely intact in patch 4.0.6.
Warlocks also flew under the radar. They are looking to be possibly the most powerful class in the new Arena paradigm. Their damage and playstyle is conducive to longer games where you grind down your opponents with relentless pressure from DoTs. With Bloodlust removed, the game has shifted significantly towards that type of playstyle. Warlock damage as well as their nigh-ridiculous survivability has remained more or less intact. Look for this class to be nerfed down in the future.
Death Knights received some loving that was probably unnecessary and certain to be incredibly strong. Icebound Fortitude, in addition to making the Death Knight stun immune, will now break stuns on use giving DKs a free trinket in situations when they’ll need to use it the most. Worse yet, the new talent Death’s Advance will make the DK immune to snares while both Unholy Runes are on cooldown. This means that peeling a Death Knight with snares will be nigh impossible. Most of an Unholy DK’s main attacks center around unholy runes, Death and Decay can also use an Unholy Rune while at range. This means that a good DK that’s getting a decent amount of dispels (and god forbid, Freedom) will have an amount of mobility that is unparalleled in the game.
A little taste of what Fury Warriors can do to a 3000 resilience target... coming to a combat log near you.
Fury Warriors may be the new... gods? Fury is another sleeper spec that’s overshadowed by the current strength of Arms. After the nerfs to Arms many warriors will be trying out Fury and realizing that when the stars and cooldowns align they can deliver upwards of 70,000 damage in a single GCD on a full resilience target. This spec doesn’t have the mobility or utility of Arms, but the monstrous damage it is capable of is sure to have players checking their combat logs to see what the hell just hit them.
Subtlety Rogues, Combat Rogues, Hunters, and Ret Paladins got some damage buffs and should be more of a factor in the future. Moonkin were caught in the crossfire of the Feral Nerfs and now can’t shift out of roots either, a disappointing nerf that’s sure to reduce their already-low representation.
Holy Paladins got hit with several nerfs, mostly to mana economy and Restoration Shamans got smacked with a few nerfs, most notably to Cleansing Waters, Mana Tide, and Tremor Totem. Resto Druids also took some nerfs to the duration of Tree of Life.
The final verdict on this patch won't be known until the changes are all in, but for now any combination of a Death Knight or Warlock and a healer will be deadly. Shadowcleave (DK, Warlock, Druid) and other similar compositions are poised to dominate the 3s Arena bracket. Look for these classes, and possibly some ridiculous teams involving Fury Warriors to be included on most of the top teams. RMP (Rogue/Mage/Priest) will also likely be making a huge comeback with the fixes to Discipline Priests and the Subtlety Rogue damage buffs. Mages were also relatively unscathed by the patch, so this comp will be as good as it's been in a very long time.
Stay tuned for more information about patch 4.0.6, it could come at any time!