Warning: Non Warrior content will be featured here. I may rant a little about other classes I play based on my impressions of having tested them in Beta and on Live since Pre-patch launch.
Before I start breaking down my take on a couple of the different class changes in 7.0 I do want to start off on a very positive note. The systems changes in Legion are fantastic. They finally fixed the default combat text and speech bubbles for massive resolutions which makes me very happy. All of the mini-map improvements and the new default nameplates are long overdue but I think what they did; they did very well. My only complaint is they didn’t add a feature to change nameplate color based on threat; a useful visual QoL perk for tanks.
I’m going to try to be brief in recapping here as I previously wrote at length on my first impressions for Warrior changes. Please excuse me if I repeat myself in an effort to keep things coherent for someone who hasn’t read my first thoughts.
My thoughts haven’t much changed regarding Arms since I discussed my initial impressions. TLDR is that it’s a spec with too many tools and identities and as a result it lacks depth and substance. The balancing on talents is problematic and the Artifact ability needs to have a modifier for striking only 1 target. See my full thoughts here.
I think the best way to describe my thoughts on Fury after having played with it alot more than I had in Beta is that the maxim “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” perfectly describes the situation. Excuse my repetition; Enrage was so important to WoD Fury that it was both it’s crowning glory and bitter failure. Instead of fixing the problem I’ve come to the conclusion that they took the easy way out and just tossed the concept for something much simpler; and I’m not convinced that it’s better. In fact I think it’s too simple. Enrage was player defining. Sure, it was frustrating and the RNG was rage enducing but the positive of it was that because it mattered it made for a very visceral and dynamic and engaging playstyle. So how do you solve the RNG issue without throwing the idea out the window?
I’m going to pitch a whole new concept with all the same tools which accomplish this, so stick with me. Making Enrage matter means that something has to require it. To accomplish this I think Rampage is a perfect opportunity. If Rampage required Enrage to use and cost 50 Rage (down from 85) then this would not only give Rage as a resource it’s use, but also highlight the importance of Enrage. Now in order to do this you need a supporting cast. Instead of Furious Slash (aka Derp Slash) being a next-to-useless filler; you make it a low damage “rotation enhancing” cleave. Instead of doing significant damage it would increase the damage and critical strike chance of your next Bloodthirst by 35% per stack with a 3 stack limit. This would function as an alternative to using Raging Blow as a filler when you want to focus your rotation on saving up for a salvo of Rampages. Thus being able to basically guarantee Enrage (at the expense of damage) and pool Rage you could unleash brutal back-to-back Rampages (remember it would only cost 50 Rage). The alternative to choosing to burst with a Rampage combo would be Raging Blow as a filler. This would cost 10 Rage and would be the main meaty filler. The Inner Rage Talent would remove the Rage cost of Raging Blow in addition to it’s current enhancements. Also in regards to Rampage; the Carnage talent could be reworked to reduce the cost of Rampage down to 40 Rage but would cause it to have a 3 second cooldown meaning you could Rampage more often but you couldn’t combo them back to back. This may seem trivial and silly but this modifies the ability to make it a more reliable AoE when throwing in Whirlwinds between those CDs. Furious Slash would also tie into the AoE rotation by bolstering Bloodthirst’s role in the AoE kit in addition to it’s weak cleave damage.
So what does this all do? Is it just spinning my wheels? You’ll have to tell me but I don’t think so. This re-emphasizes the importance of Enrage into the kit without the limitations of the previous model. Because you have control over your kit via Furious Slash it makes for an even more fast paced rotation in both AoE and Single Target, it give you the option to pool your resources for a massive Rampage combo, and it also greatly increases the value of Crit and Mastery for Warriors making a perfect marriage between the stats.
You can see my initial thoughts on Fury here.
I think Ignore Pain is a concept that Protection has needed for a very long time to make it compete with the top tanks. I don’t think it’s perfect but it’s miles better than Shield Barrier. One of my favorite changes is that Shockwave is available at level 15. I think this is a huge quality of life improvement for leveling as Prot. I’m also a fan of Revenge being a AoE cleave, feels much better. My only big gripe with Prot right now is that we lost our AoE taunt. I thought that was a really cool niche ability and losing it to monks feelsbadman. I think this would be fairly easy to fix by adding an AoE taunt to Demoralizing Shout via the Booming Voice talent in addition to it’s current effects. The Artifact ability is pretty cool and overall I’m excited to be able to be able to pick up tanking again for 5 mans etc.
OK Warriors, you can bounce now. I’m going to be talking other classes for the rest of this post.
I like to begin anytime I talk about Paladins with the preface that I most identify with paladins as a theme, even more than Warrior. It is due to the fact that Warrior is a close 2nd and due to Ret’s gameplay being so unappealing to me (since Cataclysm #RIPWrathRet) that I have never made the switch to the theme that appeals to me the most. So here begins my thoughts on how I think this could be fixed…for me and all my fellow gameplay enthusiasts.
Let’s start positive. I think the Prot paladin changes are fantastic. I am concerned that the Shield of the Righteous with charges is a little unintuitive to the novice, however with time that concern seems to resolve itself as players learn to track and pace their AM better. The emphasis on Consecration as a dynamic modifier is fantastic, it’s great fun. I do think that the 15 Talent which makes all the modifiers act as if they were baked in; is a cop-out for people and shouldn’t be an option. I’d much rather see that talent being that Consecration moves with you (like the glyph in WoD). Avengers Shield and it’s procs are school boy level fun at it’s finest. I was a little disappointed more Diablo Crusader themed stuff didn’t filter it’s way in; but I digress. Also Aegis of Light looks amazing. Like full eyebrows raised awesome. I was disappointed in the Artifact quest for Prot and thought it was far too easy and short.
We’re back where we belong! The new Mastery is awesome and really hones in on the intended class fantasy and kit. The beacon and aura tools are a good supporting cast for this new Mastery and I think it’s really interesting to be able to pick your raid cooldown in the auras. I only sustain 2 criticisms: The AoE healing kit is pretty underwhelming (intended I know) and the Artifact ability isn’t interesting, or “paladin-y”. I’d have much preferred a location based AoE ability (to tie in with Mastery) where the paladin raises their hammer to the sky and over a 3 second channel, a beam of light descends and surrounds them and heal anyone in proximity for a little at first and then bursting at the end. I see this as using their holy hammer to call upon a blessing of the light for a cool AoE heal at the price of not being able to move and only healing those close to them. That would have really tingled my paladin senses.
My love/hate relationship. A theme I love so much, yet a kit that drives me into rants. So my fellow Ret paladins; what was the most defining thing about the Wrath ‘glory days of Ret”? Divine Storm of course. Now the rest of the kit wasn’t all that interesting but many simply overlooked this because of how awesome and fun Divine Storm was. Now fast forward to Cata and introduce Holy Power. This solved the single target rotation issues quite neatly but it absolutely butchered the AoE Kit. It was soul crushingly bad. I barely touched my Ret for an entire expansion out of disappointment. The enigma of Ret’s AoE kit continues and still plagues the spec to this day. Some might argue that Legion changes made the AoE kit even worse than WoD, crikey! I fully understand the role of the Artifact ability and Ashes to Ashes however I think this is a very poor bandaid for a problem that should be solved instead.
So how do you maintain Single Target stability, and yet recover the glory days of Divine Storm? Well it’s actually not that hard! The first thing you have to do is you need to change the way you think about Holy Power in a AoE context. The current model operates on a Small -> Small -> Small -> BIG premise. This leads to massive issues with ramp up and cadence. It also creates a domino effect of bandaids just to make it work. So where am I going with this? Instead of S>S>S>B you change the AoE specific kit to Medium>Medium>Medium>Medium Rotation Enhancer. Instead of Divine Storm costing 3 Holy power make it do good damage and build 1 Holy Power, then after 3 uses which build 3 Holy Power; you spend it on Holy Wrath, which does identical damage to Divine Storm but also gives you a 3 charge buff which increases the damage you deal with Divine Storm by 15% reducing in effectiveness by 5% per use. So 15% then 10%, then 5% after which you Holy Wrath again to maintain the AoE rotation. What this does is it solves the ramping issues by allowing Devs to tune AoE very easily because the damage is consistent and they don’t have to worry about the BIG top end being too powerful. It also makes Divine Storm fun to use again! You can jovially go back to your nostalgia of chain Divine Storming through massive packs of demons and undead while not abandoning a rotational builder/spender incentive. Additionally this would make Ret very strong on add fights as they could focus their finishers on the boss, but use a slightly weaker Divine Storm to cleave the adds. Just this would make the overall Ret kit and gameplay significantly more fun. Every Ret paladin I’ve pitched this too has loved the idea and some may have even proposed electing me for office (yikes!).
2 more things before I end my rant on Retribution. Mobility is a very significant part of melee class kits, gap-closing in particular is one of the reasons Warriors are so well loved and played. The mobility options Ret has now are really lacking. I’m very disappointed Long Arm of the Law is no longer an option as it supplemented an otherwise stale movement kit. I believe with the focus of the class fantasy on Judgement this was a glaring oversight.
Lastly is the sheer disappointment with the Artifact ability and it’s bandaid kit. This is one of the most exciting Artifacts in the game and yet the hype is drowning it’s sorrows due to the ability it’s been given. It’s visually disappointing; and it’s use is really to bandaid the otherwise incomplete AoE kit. I would have loved if it had incorporated the weapon itself as a fount of power. Imagine while DPSing, that after landing a mighty critical strike with Templar’s Verdict (or my proposed Holy Wrath) you were able to use this really powerful mini-cooldown (on a 1 minute cooldown) that infused you with Holy might from the golden orb of Ashbringer itself and turned your character into an effigy of the Light making you shine and glow golden and bright. It’s effect would make all of your abilities for 10 seconds apply a DoT to all enemies you strike (aka Seal of Truth 2.0) and this could stack up to 5 times during the duration. This would be both useful on Single Target and really good on sustained AoE. It would require an act of might (crit from TV or HW) to activate but I think would fit the theme of the kit visually and effectively. You could even have it reduce enemies that died from it’s effect into a pile of smoldering ashes (Fire Mage tech).
Oh the things that could have been!
Let’s admit it; we’ve been spoiled rotten by our last 4 piece bonus. Just going back to an Aimed Shot cast feels like a nerf in itself. I’ve been noticing a significant amount of dissatisfaction from Hunters over the new changes and I’ve been trying to make sense of it. I think it comes down to a number of things. While I think the new Marking concept is pretty cool I think its not sustainable to be rotation defining, and it’s existence causes some problems. Sidewinders is the main offender to me. It costs too much, and I’m not talking about resources. By taking over both Arcane Shot and Multishot it effectively guts the rotation just to provide Marked Shot some more consistent use. Alot of the negative feedback I’ve been hearing has been from hunters playing with this talent, and generally when I ask them to try playing with Piercing Shot they report the playstyle is smoother and more intuitive. I think this comes down to balance. Sidewinders isn’t bad for it’s intended purpose but right now it’s the best for both AoE and ST and that’s a detriment to the class. It should be the niche choice on that tier, not the talent of choice.
Another issue I have is the artifact weapon. It doesn’t say Marksmanship hunter to me and the whole ‘air’ runway to the boss effect is really silly to me. A fitting MM artifact ability would have been a 1 minute cooldown which made the next 3 hunter’s casted shots instant and would simultaneously fire 2 extra times, also it would buff any ally within 15 yards with 2 charges of a cast while moving buff allowing them to cast their next 2 damage dealing abilities on the move. I see this as your calculated master sniper unleashing some terrifying “covering fire” before his teammates need to move. Part of me would want the hunter to yell “Move, Move, Move!” like in many War movies but that’s me being a little overzealous. Consider the synergy of Lock and Load and this ability. This would be like full auto covering fire. Hell yeah.
Lastly, Arcane Shot feels weird to me as a filler. I almost wish that Aimed Shot generated Focus and Arcane Shot consumed it. This current 5 focus gen thing makes very little sense to me.
I think the new BM has the makings of being really great, coming from the guy who doesn’t prefer the pet specs/classes. I understand the whole rotation being focused around summoning beasts, but it feels clunky. Not having Chimera Shot makes the spec literally a 2 button spec with a focus-over-time rotational mini-cooldown. I think Chimera Shot should be baseline and that in turn would offer players the alternative to “pet play” in Dire Frenzy which currently sees very little viability, even though I think it’s a ‘gameplay positive’ talent. Dire frenzy offers an alternative which changes the focus from throwing pets at something like pokeballs and makes it more about controlling your pets. I see validity in both fantasies. Playing with 2 buttons to me is just not something I can willingly subject myself too making Chimera a must.
I think the artifact was very well designed for BM and is one of those cases where they knocked it out of the park.
I’m not going to lie; I don’t want to like Survival. I’m still mourning the loss of MoP Survival. Despite my bad attitude I think there are some defining issues. Mongoose Bite isn’t intuitive and most hunters that I’ve gotten feedback from are confused by it’s charges and effect. Either they don’t know what the charges do, or they think they are doing something wrong because it can’t be that simple. I think this was a case of complexity for complexity’s sake. There really wasn’t much of a reason to have a 3 charge self buffing ability like this other than just trying to make it different from other melee…to be different. To me Survival should play like a highly agile and reactive hunter. I think it should be very proc based and interactive with it’s abilities. Mongoose Bite should modify Raptor Strike and Carve by increasing the critical Strike chance of those abilities by 25% and each time they crit it increases the damage of the next Mongoose Bite by 50% stacking up to 6 times. This is the same exact concept except it involves the other kit’s abilities by making them tag team to get the big finish rather than it being focused on a single ability.
The biggest issue of all with Survival is the animation of the artifact ability. This is full cringe-worthy. I really hope the Fist of Fury animation is a placeholder.
That soundtrack though. I think this spec was probably the best new design of Legion. The talent diversity is fantastic and the playstyle options are great. Literally my only complaint is that Chain Lighting didn’t get the same audio upgrade as Lightning Bolt.
I’m going to be generous and give Enhancement a high improvement rating. I think the changes to the Maelstrom builder/spender system were successful however this class has some seriously bad button bloat issues. I appreciate the diversity in the weapon imbues but I think it could have been done alot neater. I think much like Kharazim in Heroes of the Storm; Enh shaman should have had their 15 talent being all about choosing which element to modify. Earth, Fire, or Wind. Each then should have built into a similar system of enhancing and modifying the basic abilities. As such having to choose between the options makes them more important and also allows each to be tuned more powerfully. I always consider choosing between powerful abilities to be more compelling than having a glutton’s choice of poor abilities.
I do really like the Crash Lighting look, animation and it’s role in the kit. To me Sundering should have replaced Crash Lightning and been more powerful and reach longer as a result.
Overall my impression of Enh is: good changes but I lament the button bloat and I think it could have been handled much more neatly and as a result would have made the option more interesting and impactful.
I haven’t spent too much time on Resto Shaman but what I have played around with and heard report of from my friend is that it’s very similar with some subtle but nonetheless interesting improvements.
I was pretty skeptical when I heard that WW had a new Mastery, mostly due to how clunky and ineffectual all of the previous incarnations had been. I’m actually staggered (no pun intended). The new Mastery is borderline genius. I think they actually solved the problem without making the class worse. It’s very dynamic and constantly requires you to make decisions and when you make the right ones it rewards you right away with results. Stunning. What isn’t stunning is the ‘Ret paladin treatment’ that Spinning Crane Kick got. Talk about hero to zero. As I explained with Divine Storm, a S>S>S>B builder spender system doesn’t work for AoE. It would be pretty easy to solve in the same way as I suggested for Ret paladins: Make SCK do good medium damage and generate 1 chi. Then have Rushing Jade Wind baseline and consume 3 chi, do good medium damage, causing your next 3 chi building abilities do 15% more damage. The reason I make the differentiation is that in order to maintain the mastery effect; 3 back to back SCKs couldn’t be used. Easy to balance: fun to play. Win.
#RIPGUARD2016. While BrM has a good gameplay kit; the Active Mitigation kit is really concerning and I’m not sure how they landed on this design without abandoning ship over the implications. Gift of the Ox needs to be seriously buffed (to the point of being overpowered) or something else drastic to make BrM a well rounded spec. This seems to be a trend with this design; its either too weak or it needs an overpowered crutch (aka LOLGuard) to make it functional.
I haven’t played Mistweaver since they made Renewing Mists only apply to 3 players. From what I’m hearing, I’m not missing much.
I’m a little torn on Frost, I think almost everything they did was in the right direction in terms of design but it really took my fingers a while to make the adjustment. One of the hardest changed for my fingers to deal with was when Howling Blast and Icy Touch were combined. While I think it’s fair to say this was warranted, I did like that extra button and the dispel glyph for it. I’m sort of used to a scheme with my keybinds and the new Frost by simplifying things kind of threw a wrench into it. The talents have some good diversity and I like the options that it gives for rune control options. The new Rune system is, lets face it, long overdue. It’s so much better.
I think Glacial Advance is abit weird. I think it’s a cool talent but the fact that it’s kind of like a MOBA skillshot doesn’t make much sense to me. When I think of this ability I want to visualize something else instead. In the original WOTLK cinematic the Lich King slams down Frostmourne into the ice and these cracks come out of the point of impact. I’d like to see something similar with this where the DK does a similar animation and “ice cracks” go forward before the DK doing damage to any enemies standing over them. The current ice spike line is really visually disappointing.
Another disappointment is the Artifact ability. The Frost Death Knight has so many rich themes to draw upon so to have something as underwhelming as some swords just kinda doing their own thing doesn’t do justice to this depth. Especially since Empowered Rune Weapon already has this fantasy checked off. I think a better themed ability would have been something like having a RPPM effect causing icy ghost tendrils (In a 8 yard radius around the DK) to wisp up from the ground wrapping themselves around the lower body of the affected target(s) which deals ticking damage and slows the target rapidly increasing over time. The effects would only be fully effective within 8 yards of the Death knight and leaving that 8 yards would rapidly reverse the ramping effect. It would be even cooler to have the effect of the wispy tendrils gradually hardening into ice fully rooting the target on the last damage tick.
I know some may disagree with me immediately, but I consider the new Unholy spec to be significantly improved. The old version was far too much micromanagement with the Necrotic plague gaming, or too much feast or famine with the Breath of Sindragosa gaming. The theme of the kit is a little gross, but besides that it’s well designed. Having 3 resources to play with is definitely interesting if you consider Festering Wounds stacks to be another resource. The Artifact ability is really cool and the effect is appropriate and thematic. Can’t have too many ghouls. The only thing that I’m disappointed with Unholy about is that the Sludge Belcher talent uses a really low resolution model for the abomination. It also should be called Stitches for all DKs, because reasons. Not having Necrotic Plague as a Talent is a little disappointing but I realize the kit has sufficient disease tools as is.
Transitioning a playstyle from absorbs/healing over to active mitigation is no easy feat. Blood DK has succeeded where Brewmaster has failed. The new Marrowrend concept is a great way to effectively solve the problem. Blood still feels like it has a plethora of tools and it has the sustained damage mitigation now to complete it.
The only thing I can really identify as an issue is the fact that Heart Strike (which the new version is pretty cool) consumes a Rune rather than Runic Power. Because of how weak Death Strike is on healing there isn’t really much incentive to using Runic Power which is likely to be sitting at cap. I think switching Heart Strike to RP would make it useful as a filler and RP spender while not competing on runes with the Active Mitigation generator; Marrowrend (too nitpicky). I’m not a fan of the Blooddrinker talent. The last thing Blood needs is another CD. It should have been a talent which caused Death Strike to heal for 200% more when you have more than 8 Bone Shield stacks or something.
The Artifact ability really does round out the kit, but again: it’s another cooldown. If you take all of the options you have more cooldowns than abilities! I think that new cooldown talents should have modified existing cooldowns to make then better, rather than just adding more.
I’m going to do my darnedest to get through this with as few puns as possible, so bear with me. The changes to guardian to me really honed in on both the fantasy and the kit of the spec. It hits me right back in the TBC feels. But, before we even talk about the kit we need to stop and just appreciate the sheer ridiculous coolness of the Artifact bear skins. If you haven’t thought in the back of your mind about playing a Guardian next expac just on the grounds of those looks: you’re doing this game wrong. Sorry, back to the kit; all of the new AM tools are really good; Bears finally have a way to deal with non-physical damage effectively and the talent options give a good rounded set of options which can be used to adapt to specific types of encounters. Currently the only thing which I can say even blips on my radar as a concern is that Rage generation seems to be a case of feast or famine. I thought that having Enrage as a talent was a missed opportunity. Guardian alone accounted for Druid getting a significant ‘alt priority’ boost in ranking for me.
So the Anti-Absorbs Civil Rights Movement (AACRM) finally broke through! Those darn fun-ruiners have finally been put in their place and we can enjoy healing again! The new Mastery solves one of the fundamental gameplay problems that resto Druids have always had. When it came to healing as a druid there previously was a non-linear gradation of effort to result. It’s very easy or tempting to overly HoT someone either preventatively or due to boredom and get very little pay-off for your effort. This new mastery makes your effort effectively equal to your result, and overhealing is the only factor which interferes with this. I like the fact that Wild Growth now doesn’t cost a branch and a root to cast and the talents give you all of the tools to flex into any role needed by your raid or group. The artifact is pretty cool, and the effect is valuable and will distinguish great restos. Honestly my only nitpicking complaint is that Lifebloom isn’t refreshed by your casted heals anymore. Something about saving that GCD by preplanning a casted heal felt good.
I’ve flirted with Feral ever since TBC, but as I’ve said many times; Energy based classes are a source of great ire to me. The new animations, the new artifact forms aren’t even enough to coax me. However, there is salvation through talents. Even though they aren’t technically optimal; there are a number of gameplay positive talents which make this spec (finally) alot of fun to play. Mostly it’s Moment of Clarity but there are a number of interesting other options which lend to some interesting nuances and combos. Thematically I think that some Feral talents have strayed quite far and unfortunately those are some of the highest yielding ones. I’m a little surprised they didn’t keep the Saberstalker form around in some faculty because I thought it was very cool visually, but they may have thought it was too much of a visual dichotomy. I think the Affinity options make Feral a much more viable melee pick compared to other melee (in a suffocatingly melee heavy world). Before Feral was a PvE niche class and a PvP mainstay and now I think Feral has a legitimate claim to both.
Yes, it really is that simple. Many times before I talk to a friend or colleague to increase my own knowledge of a spec I try to just play it on my own and see how intuitive it is to pick up. In the case of balance I seriously thought I was missing something quite significant when I asked my friend about it and he assured me that it was in fact that easy. While, after playing more with it, I’ve gradually gotten used to the simplicity I’m pretty aware that many boomkins are pretty dour about it’s dumbing down. My boomy friends used to make fun of me when I told them that previously I basically just chain cast Wrath regardless of cycle due to liking it’s shorter cast time; so now I finally can without being a derp! I like the fact that the new Lunar Strike does AoE splash damage as that ‘justifies’ the longer cast time sufficiently to use it. Even though I’d say in general the new Astral Power builder spender idea has worked out OK, I think Starfall is still kind of awkward. It should just default to casting in an area around your target, yourself included. The placing reticule option should have been part of the Stellar Drift talent.
The big weakness that I identify with balance is the reliance on hardcasting and the lack of alternatives. In a world of speedboats, being a tugboat is kind of hard. Seems Balance is the new plant and turret class. For me personally the changes make me more likely to play around with Balance, but I fear this spec just like Feral will become a niche.
Playing all my alts takes time, and chewing over the changes and my own suggestions also takes time. I never want to just point out the negative without making a positive suggestion. I’ll add more classes to this as an ongoing ‘thought outlet’. Let me know your own thoughts or reactions to what I’ve posted thus far and I’m happy to continue the conversation. If you happen to agree with one of my ideas then tell the Devs about it!