Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Great Patch Cometh!

Almost as sexy as Patch 2.4.3
MMO-Champion has said that the past two PTR clients have been marked as release candidates even though the last of these updates has not actually been released yet (or something like that).  The trickiness being that Blizzard is being somewhat more obscure than usual with their usual release patterns.

Everybody keeps calling 4.0.6 a "small patch" but I don't think I buy that. When you read the patch notes, you'll see long lists of numbers changes, but also a fair number of spell rewrites.  This patch is not going to change how everyone plays, but I will change how a lot of people play. For example:

Hunters:  To date, Survival Specc has been beating the crap out of the other hunter speccs. Blizzard looks like they are doing everything they can to change that though. Some things, like MM's Aimed Shot-- Right now, the only time to fire that is when you get a procc to reduce its cast-time to zero, cause the 3 seconds cast time it was programmed with was just way to long to use consistently. But in 4.0.6, the cast time is coming down to 2.4 seconds, and buffed damage, which might... just maybe... make that shot worth using as an opener at least.

But there are new play mechanics coming as well. Elemental Shaman are getting a new toy called Rolling Thunder (and you just gotta love a name like that). This is not really going to change up any rotations significantly, I think, except that you'll be seeing a lot more elemental 46k fulmination smackdowns. And that is a good thing.

What else is changing? There is a hyper-long list of things happening in heroic dungeons. In some case, abilities are simply getting buffed, but for the most part, abilities are getting tamed somewhat. Here's a controversial change:

In Heroic Shadowfang Keep, Baron Ashbury is losing his Mend Rotten Flesh spell. I can understand a large player base who call nerf and say "boo!" Personally, I have been able to beat Ashbury into sticky pulp fairly consistently.

But I think this is a good thing for a couple of reasons: Mend Rotten Flesh needs interruptions and always occurred within seconds of Stay of Execution, which is also vital to interrupt after 2 ticks. To do this, you must have two different players with interrupts on short CDs who can manage that. There are lots of dps combinations that can do this, but there are several that cannot. The people complaining about this nerf have always been in there with a good combination, but have not visited with a warlock, hunter, fury warrior combo who would be pretty well screwed unless the tank or healer could throw in.

And then, stop yourself and be really honest: a boss mechanic in which he just heals himself for large amounts of health spontaneously is not really a fun boss mechanic. This is the same reason that nobody really enjoys PvPing against paladins, who basically do the same thing.

In a nutshell, these mechanic changes are being made to improve poorly considered mechanics that ought not have made it out of beta. There will be, I think, a secondary effect of making a number of encounters easier for a moderately well prepared group. On the other hand, these same encounters will become actually possible for groups featuring huntards and loladins... the kind of players we blanch in horror to discover in our PuGs today.

Finally, there are other changes coming, like the redesigned Tremor Totem, that still have me calling for Ghostcrawler blood,  but these are all details

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