Hello Guardians! Earlier this evening Blizzard posted a first cut at their alpha patch notes. In this post I’m going to dig deep into them and dissect the changes as much as possible. As per normal (even more so) remember that these changes ARE ALPHA AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE. That being said, let’s get started.
Some of these changes we’ve already seen at Blizzcon, but a lot of the Guardian specific ones are new.
General Mechanics Changes
Agility no longer provides an increased chance to critically strike with melee and ranged attacks or abilities. The base chance to critically strike is now 5% for all classes. There are no longer different chances to critically strike with melee, ranged, and spells. There is a new passive, named Critical Strikes, which increases chance to critically strike by 10%. It is learned by all Rogues, all Hunters, Feral and Guardian Druids, Brewmaster and Windwalker Monks, and Enhancement Shamans.
Removing dual-Crit scaling makes sense really. It was just really messy in reality to have to worry about multiple sources of Criticals. In return we get a baseline increase to make up for the difference. That’s fine.
Each point of Agility or Strength now grants 1 Attack Power (down from 2). All other sources of Attack Power now grant half as much as before. Weapon Damage values on all weapons have been reduced by 20%. Attack Power now increases Weapon Damage at a rate of 1 DPS per 3.5 Attack Power (up from 1 DPS per 14 Attack Power). Attack Power, Spell Power, or Weapon Damage now affect the entire healing or damage throughput of player spells.
I’ll be honest, the whole Attack Power and Weapon Damage thing was just getting really confusing for a lot of people. 1 AP per point of Strength or Agility just makes everyone’s lives easier, and I like the conversion of 3.5 AP to Weapon Damage as well. The nerf to weapon’s damage is likely just to accommodate the removal of base ability damage.
Celestalon later confirmed in a tweet that only the appropriate classes will benefit from Strength or Agility. That means we won’t have to worry about wanting Strength items after this change, or vice-versa.
The amount of Dodge gained per point of Agility has been reduced by 25%.
Nobody cares about the Dodge gained from Agility nowadays anyway. But it makes sense that they’re reducing the contribution of passive mitigation stats in favour of more active mechanics.
All players now have a 100% chance to hit, 0% chance to be dodged, 3% chance to be parried, and 0% chance to glance, when fighting creatures up to 3 levels higher (bosses included). Thick Hide now also reduces the chance for attacks to be parried by 3%.
We’ve known this was coming for a while, but now we know exactly what the changes are. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, and everyone is happy to see these stats gone anyway.
Weakened Blows was a debuff that mattered almost exclusively to tanks, and that every tank automatically applied. We removed the debuff and reduced creature damage to compensate.
Yay! It was a stupid debuff anyway that was a relic from Vanilla. Good riddance.
Weakened Armor and Physical Vulnerability were effectively redundant, both filling the role of increasing Physical damage taken by the target. So, we removed Weakened Armor and widened the availability of Physical Vulnerability a bit.
Yay! The difference between these two was actually quite annoying, and it was very critical to have both.
As part of a push to combine the different types of Haste in the game as much as possible, we merged Spell Haste and Attack Speed into just Haste, which benefits everyone.
And there was much rejoycing! Plus it’s an actual haste effect, which means GCD reduction (more on that later).
We like that tanks can provide meaningful DPS to their group, however, it swung wildly based on the fight, even surpassing the dedicated damage dealers occasionally. To solve this, we’re going to remove the offensive value of Vengeance, but preserve the defensive value, by making it increase the effect of your active mitigation buttons, instead of Attack Power.
Nobody saw this coming. Nope. Noone. Not a one. /sarcasm
In all seriousness this is a good change. Vengeance cheesing was probably the most common thing to take advantage of this expansion, and Druids mostly got the short end of the stick on that one. It’s a great boon to tank balance overall.
Resolve: Increases your healing and absorption done to yourself, based on Stamina and damage taken (before avoidance and mitigation) in the last 10 seconds.
Cool. Neat buffs to survival with a shorter window, which means more responsiveness to changes in incoming damage. Sounds fine by me.
Druid: Revive, Monk: Resuscitate, Paladin: Redemption, and Shaman: Ancestral Spirit now cost 4% of base mana (down from between 10% and 50%).
BEST CHANGE NA.
Guardians have gotten a bit of an overhaul in the latest set of patch notes. Mostly good changes, but a couple annoyances here and there. Let’s start with the perks as seen on WoWHead. Note that apparently these are earned randomly while you level, but you will have all of them by level 100:
- Enhanced Tooth and Claw: Tooth and Claw now also makes Maul free, and can accumulate 1 additional charge. This pretty much solves any problem I ever had with T&C. In ToT you heavily modified your rotation around whether or not you had a proc, and if the next swing of the boss was already capped out or not. This outright solves that problem by removing the Rage cost, which means it’s always an advantage to press the button. The extra charge meanwhile basically makes it impossible to waste procs, given that they take so long to generate anyway (on average).
- Empowered Berserk: Increases the duration of Berserk by 5 seconds. What’s not to like about this? It now becomes an even 15s (10 GCDs with no Haste), rather than the silly 10 seconds we have now. Great change.
- Enhanced Bear Hug: You are no longer immobilized by using Bear Hug. Again, nothing not to like about this change. That was the single most annoying thing about that button in the first place, and now it’s gone.
- Improved Mangle: Your Mangle deals 20% additional damage. Uh, sure. I guess.
- Improved Maul: Your Maul deals 20% additional damage. Weeeeeeeeeeee.
- Empowered Thrash: Increases the periodic damage of your Thrash by 50%. More damage. ALL THE DAMAGES.
- Empowered Bear Form: Bear Form grants you an additional 20% Stamina. More EH? Sure, why not?
- Improved Barkskin: Barkskin provides 10% additional damage reduction. It’s important to note here that there’s no reference to removing the buff to Barkskin’s cooldown that we received in 5.4. But it’s more likely to be a difference maker now.
- Improved Frenzied Regeneration: increases the healing from Frenzied Regeneration by 10%. Can’t say no to more healing.
One of the changes mentioned is something I’ve alluded to for a very long time, both here and on various forums or podcasts.
Mastery: Primal Tenacity causes the Druid to gain a Physical absorb shield equal to 16% of the attack’s damage when they are hit by a Physical attack. Attacks which this effect fully or partially absorbs cannot trigger Primal Tenacity. Mastery: Primal Tenacity now also passively increases Attack Power by 12% (percentage increased by Mastery), in addition to its current effects.
Obviously our +Armor Mastery was very boring, and to be quite honest, mostly worthless. Our new Mastery gives us a shield of (2*Mastery)% of the last physical ability that hit us. It’s not clear what specifically qualifies as a “Physical Attack”, but I suspect the wording is general enough to imply that anything Stagger works on, our new Mastery would work on. This makes it very effective at smoothing out incoming damage not only from melee swings, but abilities that plagued us throughout this expansion (Blood Rage, Snapping Bite, Triple Puncture…..). The benefit is also low enough that it won’t be effective to stack pure Mastery or anything, but getting a little bit here-and-there will most certainly be beneficial….depending on the encounter of course.
The extra DPS bit is just to make it do something offensively, and therefore have tank DPS keep pace with your real damage dealers.
Another one of our sore points this expansion was the almost complete passivity of our Rage generation. This has been significantly overhauled.
- Auto-attacks now generate 5 Rage (down from 10.9 Rage).
- Lacerate now generates 10 Rage, has no cooldown (down from a 3-second cooldown),
but no longer has a chance to reset Mangle’s cooldown. and apparently still resets the CD on Mangle.
- Thrash now generates 2 Rage every time it deals direct or periodic damage, has no cooldown (down from a 6-second cooldown), but no longer has a chance to reset Mangle’s cooldown.
- Faerie Fire no longer has a chance to reset Mangle’s cooldown.
- Primal Fury now generates 5 Rage (down from 15 Rage) when you dodge or non-periodically critically strike (up from only Auto Attacks and Mangle).
- Mangle now generates 30 Rage, and its cooldown is reduced by Haste.
- Bear Form no longer increases Haste and Crit from items by 50%, but instead causes Haste to reduce the global cooldown.
So close. Oh, so close. Each of these changes individually is a great change. Less reliance on Crit, a GCD that scales with Haste, more control over Rage generation, and AoE Rage generation. All good changes. The teensy problem is that our “rotation” is now even more boring than it was before. With the removal of FFF and proccing Mangles, our rotation is now 100% fixed – which is bleh. The only thing that changes is that you get to spam more Lacerates between applications of Thrash at higher Haste levels. /barf
You’ll see why I’m so salty in a second when we get to talents.
A number of buttons that we kind of expected to die have in fact, become deceased. These are:
- Enrage: Not surprising. Became mostly irrelevant after T15 and was annoying to use anytime other than the start of a pull because it costs a GCD.
- Innervate: YAY! I was sick of seeing this button my bar. For srs.
- Swipe: I don’t particularly care about Swipe. We’re gaining AoE Rage generation anyway, plus this button would just feel absolutely horrible to press with the other Rage changes.
- Symbiosis: This one I wasn’t expecting, but am not surprised by. I’ve previously referenced a tweet from Holinka indicating that it was going to be changed to be defensive CDs only. But think about that for a second. How would a Guardian having Cloak or Deterrence not be the most fucking overpowered thing in the universe? It was impossible to balance, and I’m glad they finally figured that out.
In return for losing Symbiosis, we gained something else:
Survival Instincts is now available to all Druid specializations. Survival Instincts now reduces damage taken by 70% (up from 50%) with a 2-minute cooldown (down from 3), and for Feral and Guardian specializations can have up to 2 charges (up from 1).
I literally have nothing bad to say about this. Literally 0. I actually think it’s probably way too overpowered to be completely honest. Of course that 100% depends on encounter design, but taking that at face value and putting it into SoO mechanics I’m like “welp I guess I literally just never die? mmmk”. We’ll see what happens though.’
I’ll admit, there’s some doozies here.
Heart of the Wild no longer provides an increase to Hit chance or Expertise while active, and no longer increases Stamina, Agility, and Intellect.
I don’t have a problem with this change, at all. We were always the ones that benefited the least from the “main role boost” to begin with, so that’s not really a loss. We also retain the best parts – the ability to assume another role for a period of time when we’re not tanking. Fine by me.
Dream of Cenarius – Guardian: No longer increases the critical strike chance of Mangle.
This is now way way way way way too expensive. You’re essentially costing yourself 10 Rage every time you use an HT, and since they’re no longer boosted by Vengeance/Resolve (except when you use them on yourself) there’s actually 0 incentive to press the button except when you’re not actually tanking anything at that very instant. It remains to be seen how it specifically ends up being balanced against Frenzied Regen, but I just don’t see that happening. This talent is basically dead to me until the HT becomes off the GCD.
Nature’s Vigil, while active, increases single-target damage and healing caused by healing spells by 16% (down from 25%), and all single-target damage spells also heal a nearby friendly target for 35% of the damage done (up from 25%).
Once again Nature’s Vigil will probably turn out to be the clear winner in most encounters. Splash healing with no extra thought required. Granted it won’t be as “smart” as it is now, but at least you can use it while tanking something.
Guardian of Elune – Savage Defense now lasts 4 seconds, and increases your chance to dodge by 100%.
I actually think this is pretty neat. Imagine how awesome it would be if you were guaranteed to dodge every single Snapping Bite? That would be really awesome. Obviously this will purely be a choice made based on encounter mechanics, but it’s a pretty neat talent that plays into our active mitigation. I like that.
Bristling Fur – You bristle your fur, reducing all damage taken by 50% for 3 seconds.
Much improved over the previous incarnation (huehue) for sure. Having an extra major cooldown is nothing to shake a stick at, and I would be very surprised if this doesn’t see at least some use.
Pulverize – A devastating blow that consumes 3 stacks of Lacerate on the target to deal 500% weapon damage, generate 30 Rage, and reduce damage taken by 20% for 10 sec.
And now you understand why I’m so salty. This is literally the perfect missing piece to the new rotation. I expect most Guardians will end up with this purely for the rotational engagement, when there’s no very specific reason to pick one of the other two. It’s just so terribly disappointing that Pulverize is a talent, when it should quite clearly be part of the core rotation. Heck, you could even scrap the damage reduction if you wanted. Just please please please please please make it a rotational ability.
And then Celestalon had to go and tell me they re-added the chance for Mangle to reset on Lacerate hit. Ok. The entire previous paragraph is worthless now :|
It actually makes Pulverize more tricky to use than first appears, since you have to balance Mangle procs vs Pulverize uptime. I almost think that the duration should be extended to maybe 12 or 15 seconds in order for you not to feel like you’re in panic mode when trying to manage Rage generation and Pulverize. In any case, I feel significantly less negative about it now.