A new post by Eyonix on the official forums gives a lot more information of what is changing with stats and why than what has been provided up to this point. Many players have worried that the changes coming were too drastic, that too much simplification was going to take place. Many other players have been eagerly awaiting the changes complaining that many of the existing stats are too complicated to figure out. There has been only tidbits to go on until this point though. Now that we have been enlightened with more details, it's time to take a look at the potential upcoming changes and make some educated guesses as to their impact.
To make everything easy to follow I am going to show a section of Eyonix's post and then discuss it below. This way you can see what Blizzard thinks and then what I believe it means for the game. To do this there are three sections: stats still found on gear, stats removed from gear but still in the game, and stats that are disappearing completely. Please remember as I go through these stats that everything here is subject to change as we are dealing with an expansion that is not even in open beta yet. What is described here is probably only slightly more firm than jello.
Stats found on gear
Let's start by looking at what stats are being left in the game and available on gear.
What Youll See on Gear
Stamina - Because of the way we will be assigning Strength, Agility, and Intellect, non-plate wearers will end up with more Stamina than before. Health pools will be much closer between plate-wearers and other classes.
Spirit - Come Cataclysm, this stat should only be found on healing gear. Non-healing casters will have other systems in place to regenerate mana, and we are designing special solutions for Elemental shaman and Balance druids who often share gear with healers (more on this below). Raid buffs that currently boost Spirit (such as Blessing of Kings) will only boost the primary stats of Stamina, Strength, Agility, and Intellect. We are also likely changing the five-second rule and other quirks of the current regen system.
Intellect - Intellect will now grant Spell Power (more on this below). Intellect will also provide less mana than it currently does.
Haste - Haste will become more attractive for melee classes by allowing them to recover resources such as energy and runes more quickly. Our intention is for Haste to let you "do stuff" more often.
Block Rating - Block is being redesigned to scale better. Blocked attacks will simply hit for 30% less damage. Block rating will improve your chance to block, though overall block chances will be lower than they are today.
Parry - Parry no longer provides 100% avoidance and no longer speeds up attacks. Instead, when you parry an attack, it and the next attack will each hit for 50% damage (assuming they hit at all). In other words, Dodge is a chance to avoid 100% of the damage from one attack, Parry is a chance to avoid 50% of the damage from two attacks, and Block is a chance to avoid 30% of the damage from one attack.
Mastery - This is a new stat that will allow players to become better at whatever makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique. It's directly tied to talents, so what you gain from improving this stat is entirely dependent upon your class and the talent specialization you choose. Well talk more about specific Mastery benefits in the future.
Armor - The way Armor mitigates damage is not changing, but the Armor stat has been rebalanced to mirror changes to the armor curve in Cataclysm. As a result, bonus Armor will go down slightly overall. We are also changing the mitigation difference among armor types so that plate doesnt offer so much more protection than mail, leather, and cloth.
Resilience - This will only affect damage done by players and critical damage done by players. It will not impact crit chance, mana drains, or other such effects.
Strength, Agility, Hit Rating, Expertise, and Critical Strike Rating - These will all still appear on gear as well. Aside from situations mentioned elsewhere in this list, in general these will function similarly to how they do now, though the details -- such as how much Hit Rating you might need to effectively combat high-level creatures (more on this below) -- are likely to change.
As you can see the list is far shorter that what we see on gear currently, however many of the old faithful's are still there as well as one new stat called Mastery.
Starting from the top, many players are already complaining about the stamina changes and what they mean to tanks compared to everyone else's health ratios. I think everyone assumes that they mean tank gear, where they actually say plate gear. Do not forget that DPS Warriors, Paladins, and Death Knights currently have much higher health pools than say a Rogue or Mage. I believe that this is what they are referring too, not bringing everyone to tank level health. If this is in fact the case if it was applied now it would mean DPS / Healers would move closer to the 30-32k health points when raid geared, as DPS plate is. This would allow an extra hit before being killed, which is much needed as they are simply too fragile in some fights currently.
Spirit being removed from non-healer gear is a blessing to all players since it is a stat that no one other than healers really likes, but has to deal with due to its placement on items. The two exceptions seems to be Elemental Shaman and Balance Druids, but apparently they will have a mechanic in place to deal with it. Overall not bad as many players never did understand exactly how spirit converted to mana regen when compared to MP5. Now that it is just healers that need to look at it, they already know how it interacts and deal with it already.
On to Intellect where many players are once again complaining already about the statement that Intellect will provide less mana. Again I think they are missing some of the new interactions here. In several other areas (such as spellpower) it is stated that when they disappear from gear it will be replaced with Intellect. That means to me that players will have much higher Intellect values than they currently have. Therefore it only makes sense that Intellect provides less mana per point than it does now or players would easily have 50,000 mana in current gear once the change occurs. Also, having Intellect provide spell power makes it much simpler for casters and healers to ramp up their spell power and consolidates stats in an easy to comprehend manner.
Haste sounds nice, however without the math to provide hard and fast numbers on the benefits it will provide, it's best to reserve judgment on it.
The changes to block can be seen as a buff or a nerf depending on the content you normally run. In raids, changing it to a 30% damage reduction is a huge buff, since currently it mitigates less than 1/8th of a hard hitting raid bosses damage when you block. However if you normally run instances it could be seen as a nerf since you can block almost all of the incoming damage. Overall this evens it out a bit and provides utility no matter the content you are dealing with.
Parry is an interesting change and not one that was anticipated. The change makes it very different from dodge, and in my opinion may make it the number one tanking stat, especially if you ask a healer. The new parry mechanic should make tanks much easier to heal as it will flatten out the damage they take a little. If one tank stacked dodge and one stacked parry, the dodge based tank would take very spiky damage compared to the parry one. Even though they would take the same damage, the parry based tank would take it spread out more over time and be easier to heal since you could react slowly and steadily, rather than waiting for huge spikes in incoming damage when a tank failed to dodge several times in a row.
Mastery sounds interesting but with not a lot of information on how exactly it works, I won't cover it.
Armor being evened out between the armor types a bit should not make a huge deal. Sure clothies will now have more stamina and more armor, but without the defensive avoidance and mitigation abilities of a tank it probably won't make that big of a difference. If anything it is just being evened out so that designing raid encounters is slightly easier. Currently many AoE effects are either trivial to plate due to due armor values or way too hard on cloth or leather wearers.
Resilience sounds like it is being changed to no longer effect anything but incoming damage. How this plays out in arenas and PvP will be interesting as its ability to lower DoT damage and mana drain abilities is one of the only things preventing several classes from being supremely dominant in arenas.
The other listed stats are not seeing significant changes other than in the amount of them that you need to hit the caps. This happens with every expansion as the curve steepens. I don't think this is a big concern, as it should be harder to cap as you go up in levels.
Stats remaining, but not on items
Next up for discussion are several stats that are going to remain in the game but will no longer be found on items. Some of these will be granted through talents or by conversion factors from other stats. Most of them have been critical stats for many classes in the past.
Being Removed from Items
Attack Power - This stat will no longer be present on most items as a flat value, though it will still show up on some process. Strength and Agility, which will be present on items, will grant the appropriate amount of Attack Power (generally 2 Attack Power per point of Strength or Agility) depending upon which stat a particular class favors. Agility may provide less Crit than it currently does.
Spell Power - Spell Power is another stat that you'll no longer see present on most items. Instead, as mentioned above, Intellect will grant Spell Power. One exception is that caster weapons will still have Spell Power. This allows us to make weapons proportionately more powerful for casters in the same way they are for melee classes.
Armor Penetration - This stat will no longer be present on items. Armor Penetration will still exist in talents and abilities.
Shield Block Value - This stat will no longer be present on items, since the amount blocked is always proportional to the amount of damage done. Talents and other effects might still modify the damage-reduction percentage from 30%, however.
Attack power has always been a slightly weird bonus on items, since it is generally found on items with either strength or agility anyway. This meant the item was providing a double boost to attack power, one direct and one indirect, and it confused some players. It also factored in differently for different classes where some attack power was better than agility or strength and other classes liked agility or strength better than attack power. Worse yet, you can find many items that while they had agility, also had enough attack power so that players that should be focusing on strength still found the item to be an upgrade. Cleaning this up means less confusion on gear.
Spell power will also be gone from pretty much everything other than weapons. To me this will make caster gear feel kind of hollow as so much will be based on Intellect the stats display could look pretty bare. However leaving it on weapons allows some pretty big bonuses if they choose on one of the most important slots for a caster.
Armor penetration was always a strange beast, as many people never figured it out, and those that did stacked it like crazy. Worse yet, it was only ok in low values, but insanely good in high amounts. It got to be the stat for physical DPS and has already gone through several changes to tone it down. I always liked the complexity though of figuring out when in your gearing stage you should really focus on it, and how much you needed to get to make it worth while. I can see the issues it created though, all I can say is at least it will stick around in a reduced capacity to keep some interesting effects.
The block value change has been a long time coming, since two block stats confused many beginning tanks anyway. Also when tanks with shields stacked block value for trivial content like instances and heroics they could essentially run the instance without taking any damage other than on bosses. On the flip side on hard hitting raid bosses, a few thousand damage less meant next to nothing compared to higher dodge or parry values. Now that block will always mitigate 30% damage, there really is no need for block value.
Stats leaving the game
Now we get down to the stats that are leaving the game forever, those that are going to the proverbial bit bucket in the sky. All of these stats have been around since the beginning of the game, and may or may not be missed depending on your opinion of them.
Going Away Completely
MP5 - This stat will be removed from the game completely. Holy paladins and Restoration shaman will be redesigned to benefit from Spirit.
Defense - Defense is being removed from the game entirely. Tanking classes should expect to become uncrittable versus creatures just by shifting into Defensive Stance, Frost Presence, Bear Form, or by using Righteous Fury.
Spell Ranks - Spell ranks will cease to exist. All spells will have one rank and will scale appropriately with level. The levels at which you can learn certain spells are being changed in order to fill in some of the gaps, and we will be introducing some new spells to learn along the way as well.
Weapon Skill - This stat will be removed from the game completely. Classes will start with all the weapon skills they need to know and will not need to improve them.
Personally, I always liked MP5 and the fact that it broke the 5 second rule. Managing the juggle between MP5's flat return rate and spirit's 5 second rule always seemed interesting to me. I will miss it.
Defense is a stat near and dear to my heart since I have long played a Paladin tank. While I will miss it as well, I can understand getting rid of it as it really was only an issue capping it for the first few hours after you reached level cap. After running a few instances and getting a few pieces of gear it was rarely an issue to reach the cap. In fact in current endgame gear it is more of an issue trying to get down to the cap so that you are not wasting itemization points on it when they could be better spent elsewhere. Also to further confuse players the cap wasn't really a cap, but the point that you could no longer be critically hit and where other tanking stats became better point for point.
I can almost see the spell ranks disappearing as they have very little meaning now that all ranks cost the same mana, energy or rage. The only issue I have with this is that it just won't feel the same not having to run to a trainer to learn the next rank of an ability when leveling up. I'll miss it.
Weapon skill leaving the game is a mixed blessing too. Sure, it's not really a useful stat since everyone maxes it pretty quickly anyway, and it only really comes into play when you get a new weapon and try to use it in a fight, then realize you don't know how. It was still nice to have to actually learn something though, and see points being learned in it. Again though, it's not a really useful stat and I can see why its leaving the game.
Messiah's take on the pending changes
As you can see by my comments I tend to agree with most of the changes that are pending to the character stats. Looking back at the individual comments above you may even think I advocate the whole stat simplification plan. In fact quite the opposite is true. While I can see logic and some benefit to most of the changes, I can't agree with them as a whole. Maybe I'm just stuck in grouchy old man mode, which if you ask my wife is probably the case, but it feels like too much is leaving the game.
The stat system in World of Warcraft is already a very simple one. While some stats interact in some pretty fun ways, the math behind them is all relatively simple to figure out and deal with. In fact almost to the point of being too simple already. This new simplification seems to me to be too much, but then again I always like math.
I worry that gear will become a simple a-b-c progression scheme, compared to the myriad of side grades and hidden downgrades that exist now. Those side and hidden downgrades that exist really help to distinguish good players from bad at a quick glance. You can look at someone and see that they grabbed gear simply based on item level rather than actual utility. I worry that with the new system that will be gone and there will be one less thing separating the smart player from the masses.
On the flip side, if you are one of the masses, this is a great change for you. In fact if I ever was going to just play for fun and not be my normal egotistical competitive self, I could potentially be for these changes. As it stands though, sorry my ego and competitive steak wins out.
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