Showing posts with label Blue Post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blue Post. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Honorshammer's Challenge! (Ret PVP Nerf)

“I don’t watch the News anymore; I think it makes me a happier person” – Honorshammer

“Ret Nerfed again!”
“Ret PVP is dead!”
“Okay, which one of you pwned some poor GM so he had us nerfed?”
“Reroll DK if you want to Arena as DPS, reroll Druid or Priest if you want to heal, or just roll Rogue/Mage/Priest and faceroll your way to Gladiator.”
“Do you really need any more proof after this, anyone can see it cleary, Blizzard hates Paladins!”

These are just some of the comments that have filled the forums since the announcement of the nerf to Vindication. For those not aware, here’s the official word from the Developers:

“We are in the process of completing a hotfix that could go live as early as this afternoon that will make the Paladin talent Vindication no longer reduce Intelligence or Stamina from the target it is applied to. The talent will continue to reduce Agility, Spirit, and Strength as it currently does. We felt this change will help balance the ability out, especially in the lower arena brackets where they are very prominent, while not being a negative impact on a Retribution Paladin’s PvE dps.Once this hotfix is live, the tooltip will be incorrect until we can update it in the next content patch.”

Nobody likes to get nerfed, and I will be the first to admit the reasoning does look a little shaky on the surface. Balancing around the ‘lower brackets’ seems akin to balancing around a 5 man normal dungeon, instead of Raids.

I’ll even further agree that Ret seems to have some very knee jerk nerfs directed at it and that it does feel a little bit “picked on”at times.

I think too many times, we read forums about what our class can’t do, or how bad off our class has it compared to other classes. It leads us to looking at those other classes with envious eyes and wondering why the Developers ‘hate us’ so. The problem comes when you let the negativity of the forums spill over into the game and affect the entertainment value, let’s call it fun, that you get from the game.

I know I’m guilty of this. It’s probably why I’ve got an entire stable full of alts. You start thinking “Gah, (insert class name) stinks, I’m changing to (insert new class name).”

You go to the forums to get or give advice or just to discuss your class with others who are knowledgeable about the class and share the same passion for the play style that you do. What you find far too often, not only on the General WoW forums, but on specialty sites like Maintankadin, PlusHeal and Tankspot, is many people complaining about what their class can’t do. While it’s important to understand the limitations of any class, the main reason for understanding your weaknesses is so you can work around them and minimize them.

I rolled my Paladin in 1.9 after one of the biggest nerfs to Paladins in the history of the game at that point. But I didn’t know about it. I wasn’t reading the forums. I didn’t know Paladins had been nerfed “INTO THE GROUND” as the saying goes. All I knew at the time was that I was having fun leveling my Paladin.

I talked with fellow Blogger Veneretio and I loved what he said, “I always write about what we can do, not what we can't. The tank topics that Tankspot released a while back do reveal issues with Warriors though. Some have been fixed. Some haven't. You'll never hear me write it even if there is a problem.”

That’s pretty much the same approach I’ve taken.

If you read the forums right now, you’ll hear how ‘once again’ Paladins are falling behind as a Tank choice. I took it seriously enough to get my Warrior up to 80 (though he’s not quite there yet). I wanted to have a backup plan.

Then I talked to my Raid Leader and he put in perspective : “I guess the only thing I can say is that if you are not having FUN on the pally ( not worried about effectiveness as I care more about the player not the class).”

So I thought about it last night as I tanked in Ulduar. I thought about it again as I was doing 3s with my Arena team.

I had blast tanking Ulduar. My 3s team is very fun.

Sure, I wish I had a shorter cool down interrupt off the global cool down.
Sure, I wish I had a distance closer.
Sure, I wish I had another tanking cool down.
Sure, I wish the Developers would get Ret to the point in PVP where all it needed was small tweaks every now and again, not major rewrites every other patch.
Sure, I wish itemization was a little better.
Sure, I wish the T8 Legs had a different graphic.

And I bet every class has a laundry ‘Wish List’ of buffs they’d like as well.

Am I worried the changes to Block will upset the Tanking balance. You’re darn tootin’ right I am. Am I worried the Developers will give Warriors their 4pc set bonus as a talent, but not give something similar to the Paladin. Absolutely, and that would stink.

Do I worry that Paladins will have a harder time tanking bosses or have a harder time having success in Arena? Yep.

But this ole boy was tanking Bosses when ‘everybody knew’ Paladins couldn’t do it. I tanked ole Magtheridon into ground without a Shield Wall. I did the pull on Hydross without Charge. I walked the line of keeping 2nd threat on Gruul. I did it all at a time, when ‘Paladins couldn’t do it’.

I believe that if it got to the point where I felt like it was holding back our Raid group for me to be a Paladin tank, then I would have to reevaluate it, but we aren't anywhere remote close to that. We aren't even in that Area Code.

So here’s my challenge to you if you are getting disgruntled with your class, regardless of what class you play. Stop reading forums for a week and just play. You aren’t going to miss any earth shattering news that you won’t be able to catch-up on within 10 minutes on MMO-Champion once the week is over.

As you play, ask yourself if you are having fun. If you are having fun, then stick with the class you enjoy playing, and choose to ignore the stuff on the forums. If you aren’t having fun, then yes, maybe it’s time for a new class, or possibly even a new game.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shaking the Foundations

The Lead Developer for World of Warcraft, Ghostcrawler, has been posting quite a bit recently concerning the Block Mechanic. Block is a core part of how Paladins and Warriors tank.

A lot of the tank balance problems we are having exist because we thought block would be a better mitigation stat than it has turned out to be. I say "we" because the druids and DKs were also convinced at the time that they would be mana-sponges and everyone was quoting "The unblocked hit is the new crushing blow."

For a variety of reasons, reality didn't work out that way. For one, we underestimated how much removing crushing blows would change the landscape. In fact, you can argue that the big magic hits (the dragon breaths and plasma blasts) are really the new crushing blows, and block does nothing to them (modulo 4 piece bonuses and the like). DKs were given amazing cooldowns, high armor and high avoidance to make up for them not being able to block. Druids were given even higher armor and high health. We backed druids off from that a little in part because they were going to end up with dps stats almost no matter what gear they chose so we wanted to incorporate those a little more into tanking. We kept buffing DKs based on early (mostly heroic dungeon) reports that healers hated healing DKs because they were so squishy when their cooldowns were blown. That seems to be less of an issue now with current levels of gear and some of the other changes to the game since then.

We will almost certainly change block. I can't tell you when we'll change it, because it's a big change. We probably don't want shield-users to be at 100% up time of block if they block more per hit. We have to be careful what happens to threat since that's a big part of block, especially for warriors. Heck, maybe we fall in love with the 4 piece warrior bonus and decide to make that a core part of the ability.

We are less likely to just buff the shield-using tanks because we like the current difficulty of the hardmode fights for them and we are reluctant to have to buff those encounters to correspond for a tank buff. Though as we've said elsewhere, we might give paladins another cooldown. Just remember that one player's "slight advantage" is another's "faceroll tanking and trivializing encounters." The balance goal has always been "close enough" not "identical." (source)

Think about it this way.

Avoidance is good because it removes a lot of damage. Avoidance is bad because it is unpredictable. If you stack too much avoidance, you are likely to give your healers coronaries.

Mitigation (armor and straight damage reduction) is good because it's consistent. As you all point out, you can start to learn how much a blow will actually do to you. Mitigation is bad, from a player's perspective, because it can't save you. If you have 10 health and dodge, you might live. If you have 10 health and hope your armor will save you... well, it won't. You become the dreaded mana sponge because you are never avoiding damage completely.

Mitigation also has a risk from a design-perspective that when fights get too predictable they become too easy and unexciting. Imagine a tank with 75% damage reduction and no avoidance. You could calculate from the moment of the first attack whether you will survive the encounter. Heck, you might be able to not even heal the tank and know you'll survive depending on the specific abilities used by the boss.

Block as a mechanic is somewhere between avoidance and mitigation. Ideally it removes a fair amount of damage (vs. all damage) reasonably often (vs. rarely). If block is up 100% of the time it just becomes armor that you improve through a different stat. We have let block chances creep up frankly because the amount blocked is pretty trivial when bosses are hitting for 40% of your health pool every swing. If this still strikes you as too RNG, imagine abilities like Shield Block and Holy Shield that could guarantee 100% chance to block for a short period of time.

We don't think block is cutting it as a mechanic, but the direction we are likely to take it is probably more of a change than you are considering.We also don't think it's necessary that every tank rely on avoidance, block and mitigation in equal amounts. They can't get too far apart or someone will come to dominate for certain encounters, but we don't think the tanks need to be completely homogenized to get what we want either.If (to make up numbers) the DK and druid get hit for 20K every swing that hits, but the warrior and paladin get hit for 24K half the time and 16K half the time, then that seems like it would work. When the boss emoted that his big hit was coming, you could make sure you had your cooldown ready to guarantee a block. (source)

We were starting to see many guilds ask their warrior or paladin to step aside so the DK could tank the hard mode encounters. This was not an isolated incident for a few guilds -- this was the kind of widespread phenomenon that really makes us take notice. If it was a boss or two that the DK was the best at, we would have just kept an eye on it. Increasingly though it was every hard mode. I will be the first to admit that the community is wrong sometimes. We don't think that is the case this time. The numbers backed up their conclusions pretty well.

If we can get block to be a powerful mitigation stat again we realize that will change the landscape and we'll have to evaluate the staying power of all 4 classes again. For now, we hope this change will put the tanks in a much closer place. (Though if you are keeping note, we would still like to give paladins another reliable cooldown.)


Lead Systems Designer

Block is a core part of how Paladins and Warriors tank. The way Block works is that Block removes a fixed amount of physical damage equal to the tank’s block value when the tank Blocks.

It’s fairly obvious a change is coming to Block.

The issues with Block are that it’s a static amount of damage reduction, it only works against Physical Damage and it’s split between two stats, Block Rating (chance to block) and Block Value (how much you block). One of the main misconceptions people have about block is that you take no damage from a Blocked hit, and that isn’t true. Trash in Ulduar can hit for 15k, but if you block the hit, that hit will only land for about 13k. Healers barely notice. This is why you’ll see very little Block Value gear on my Paladin. I have the Tier 8 Shoulders in my Armory, but I use the Tier 7.5 for Bosses. My Bracers have Block Value, because those are the only epic Tanking bracers I’ve seen drop and won.

I tend to gear for Armor, Stamina, Dodge, and Parry because Block just doesn’t provide much benefit in the current Tier.

Block’s true strength is against fast, small attacks like you see when AoEing trash or some Dual Wield Bosses. Of course we haven’t seen a Dual Wield Boss in Tier 7 or 8.

The real killer in today’s tanking world is the huge magical hits against which Block does nothing.
So what will happen?

I think we can expect the ‘Block Cap’ to be unreachable, and we’ll see Holy Shield changed to be a 100% block chance like the Warriors Shield Block skill, with similar uptime (20 second duration with a 1 minute cooldown). It becomes a ‘sort of’ cooldown. This makes Paladins and Warriors even more similar than they are today. It will be especially interesting what the new Paladin cooldown is, and how it will differentiate from the Warrior cooldowns.

It’s also interesting that he mentions the Warriors 4 piece set bonus. This bonus is 20% damage reduction from magic damage while Shield Block is up. Perhaps what they are considering is having Block Value work against magic or having some set magic reduction anytime you block, I’m not sure. We may or may not see some sort of magic damage reduction added to Block.

What concerns me most is the comment he made that a Druid/DK would get hit for 20k every time while a Paladin/Warrior would get hit for 16k half the time and 24k half the time. I don’t play a healer, but I have a pretty good idea which type of tank they’d rather heal. As the only tank that could reliably Block Cap, Paladins have been touting their steady damage intake all of Wrath.

My concern is that for the scenario GC outlined doesn’t really work. Sure, it averages out to the same damage over time, but it’s when those big hits land that’s key. If the Shield Tanks are designed in such a way that you could get two back to back 24k hits (to use GC’s numbers), then they must have the Hit Point pool to survive that, or they aren’t really tanks. Talk about giving Healers coronaries? That will do it. You’ve got to give the healers enough time to get you healed up.

To really work, Paladins/Warriors must have the Hit Point pool to survive two back to back 24k hits (to use GC’s numbers),or we’ll be paper tanks. But if we have the Hit Point to take two back to back hits we might be OP compared to DKs/Druids.

Tanking balance is a finer line to walk for the developers than DPS or Healing. Tanks have to be chosen and assigned. DPS does not. A DPS class that wants to prove itself simply goes out and dominates the meters. You also have less Tank spots open in a raid than any other role. Some bosses only require a single Tank. Who that is going to be is a call Raid Leaders have to make. They are going to put the best tank on the job. The rest of the Tanks, don’t get to play their primary role on that encounter. That’s just how it is.

I’m no fan of homogenized classes, but when it comes to Tank balance, it certainly is better than the alternative.

I’ve got a ton of Block gear in the bank, maybe I’ll actually need it soon. Who knows.

We’ll wait and see what they come up with, but for the first time in Wrath, I’m just a little apprehensive about my future.

Thinktank did a fantastic post on this issue as well. Now that you've read my thoughts, go check it out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Truth Hurts

Our stance hasn't changed since Lich King. Originally (pre-LK) we tried to keep hybrid specs at 40% or more behind the pure damage-dealers, but then we also treated warriors as pure damage-dealers. If you really know your class, and I mean really know it, and if you have good gear, the right buffs, and a group that backs you up, then you are fully capable of topping the damage meters on certain fights. Overall we do want to make sure the pure dps classes are slightly higher when all things are equal, otherwise there is no point to those entire classes existing. Do warriors beat mages on some fights? Absolutely. What's the issue?I'm not sure what you're getting at with that last part. Ret paladins were not a serious raiding option for many players pre-LK. Now they certainly are. - Developer Ghostcrawler (Source)

I'd like to concentrate on his first sentence. This bothers me on a couple of levels.

First off, I'm pretty upset that this design wasn't communicated. Ret Paladins, Shadow Priests and other hybrids were doing their level best to compete for DPS spots all the while being designed to be 40% or more behind pure damage dealers. Of course, they didn't know they were playing against a stacked deck.

But the part that really irks me is that the Developers decided to treat the Warrior class as a Pure Damage Dealer despite the fact that at the time we are discussing (2.0 through 2.4), Warriors were generally considered to be the best Tank class around. In Beta, the Developers admitted to designing encounters to 'prop up' the Warrior class. I wish I still had that post but the Beta boards are long gone. However, the truth of their statement can be seen in things like Illidan's Shear and the requirement of Spell Reflect on Reliquary of Souls.

What was so special about the Warrior class? Why did they get this treatment? The only explanation that makes sense to my brain is that the developers had the idea that hybrids were healers and that Pure Classes were those that couldn't spec to heal. I think it's an odd definition of a hybrid, but it was never communicated to the player base to discuss/debate/give feedback on.

This also ignores the various utility even pure DPS classes can bring. I remember well that we prefered Mages over other classes at fights like Archimonde because they could Decurse. Rogues were pretty much a requirement for Reliquary of Souls and were very helpful on other fights due to Kick. So even though they weren't a 'hybrid' they brought more to the raid than just their UBER DPS.

Now Ghostcrawler has said before that bringing up past mistakes by the developers doesn't help us today and that's largely true. If we say we don't trust what Ghost and the other Developers are saying to us today because they 'lied' to us in the past, it doesn't lend itself to further communication today.

But it does make me feel pretty angry about the way the Warrior class was treated, and about the way hybrids were treated. Of course, that anger doesn't do anything to help my class today.

Today, all specs of Paladins are competitive in their own arenas of DPSing, Healing and Tanking.

But part of the reason my blog exists is for me to express, and work through my feelings, to vent a little bit and share my thoughts and theories about the game.