It’s been a little while since I’ve written anything here because life has a tendency to be hectic and get in the way of things that would rather be done. Since the last time I wrote here, we’ve toppled the new would-be empire of the Thunder King and gone on to discover the treachery of Garrosh and have begun our assault on the “True” Horde he has created with the power of Y’Shaarj.
Overall, I’ve been quite happy with this patch and its content. It’s been a long time coming, but has been wonderfully foreshadowed throughout the entirety of the expansion. It’s also wonderfully satisfying to finally get rid of that proud asshole, which is a testament to the writers’ ability to make me care so much about a fictional character.
Our raid has hit a few small snags in the form of people missing raid for various real life reasons, and also for a major one: Blizzcon and a meet up. Some of our raid got together in real life, flying from all over the US to meet up and watch Blizzcon coverage and ooh and aah at the announcements, and what a crazy bunch of announcements it was.
As I’m sure most of you have already read on MMO-Champion and other similar websites, the game is going to be seeing some very drastic changes to the core mechanics of the game. Specifically, the hit, expertise, dodge, and parry secondary stats will be removed from the game. When this was announced, there was a collective sigh of relief from the gathered members of my raid team. We’ve often said and felt that the idea of hit and expertise was a bit silly as a secondary stat because nobody attempting end content wasn’t reaching their hit and expertise caps. Every class is required to hit these caps to make sure they’re doing the maximum amount of DPS, which means the stats are nearly meaningless and are only there as a form of upkeep on your character. It means fifteen minutes after every raid playing the reforge mini game, or relying on an add-on or website to know what the proper stat weights are and to apply them appropriately. Just like the old talent system, this is just something everyone is doing anyways, so it isn’t fun to be given a false “choice.”
Especially important for me and my kind is the removal of the parry and dodge secondary stats. A little while ago I wrote about how I felt regarding protection paladins and the parry/dodge vs haste debate, stating that there really wasn’t much to debate about. Haste was unequivocally better than parry/dodge, and more importantly also more fun. Well, this last raid tier we saw Blizzard finally coming around to our way of thinking. They put Haste on our tier gear and allowed us to roll Haste gear for our spec through personal loot rolls. The biggest problem that is to be had with parry and dodge, even besides the fact that it’s a survivability gain for pallies to stack Haste, is that it’s boring. Parry and dodge, by themselves, is a boring way to mitigate damage. It requires tanks to be no more than a beating post for the boss, standing there and smacking the boss occasionally to keep aggro. Of course, I’m not advocating the days when holding aggro was a chore for tanks, but it seems like the passiveness of these stats are leftovers of a bygone era. The most fun fights for a Paladin tank this expansion were ones where we needed to be smart about our active mitigation rather than hitting it every time we had three holy power *ahem*Horridon*ahem*. It’s made life more engaging for tanks to need to be aware of big hits and using their mitigation to compensate, thus increasing our level of fun, or at least what I think of as fun.
At the time, I had thought that the best way to fix this problem was to have the stats interact with our active mitigation better. This was done to mixed success with our Grand Crusader ability, which now only has a chance to proc on parry and dodge. However, the survivability boost from Haste still greatly overshadowed parry and dodge and rather than making people want to stack parry and dodge even a little bit, the only effect the change had was to make paladins slightly less upset about having parry and dodge on their gear that they couldn’t get rid of (the tier pants still have parry on them). Never in my wildest dreams, though, had I dared to believe that Blizzard would remove parry and dodge altogether. Instead, everyone is going to have some innate dodge and parry stat, but for the most part, tanks will be receiving armor on their gear. Of course, this is such a drastic change to tank itemization that it’s going to be difficult to predict how it will affect us. Considering druids already have so much armor, they’re likely to see an overhaul. Hopefully, Blizzard learns from the pitfalls and traps of parry/dodge and will make the stat more interactive with each class’s active mitigation. On the surface, armor is a very boring state, giving flat damage reduction on physical damage. If this continues to be the case, then they might as well have kept parry and dodge. At least that procced a holy power generator. If they make armor a more active stat, I think this change will prove to be a positive one that makes tanking considerably more fun and interesting.
Most drastic of the changes announced at Blizzcon, though, was the removal of reforging. This was definitely something that I did not see coming. There had been a lot of chatter about problems with needing to reforge after every new piece of gear that drops, and that was a true statement. However, this change feels like Blizzard taking an unnecessarily large sledgehammer to the problem. The removal of hit/expertise and parry/dodge were more than enough to fix this problem, as that was the majority of what people were reforging for. Without those stats, reforging creates a new environment where people only reforge when they’ve gotten gear that isn’t perfectly itemized for them, but are unlikely to see a better piece of gear drop until later into the tier, or for pure DPS classes that respec for certain fights and may not have the resources to fully gear multiple specs with drastically different stat weights. The biggest problem lies in haste breakpoints, which a lot of classes have. Without the ability to reforge, these breakpoints are going to be nearly impossible to reach without a considerable amount of waste. You either have them or you don’t, but there’s no way for people to reach these breakpoints without wasting stat points that might be more useful in another stat. Without a drastic change in how Haste works in conjunction with DOTs, this is definitely going to be an issue. The removal of hit/expertise/parry/dodge was a change that gave players more freedom. You don’t need to reach seemingly arbitrary caps before investing in other secondary stats (and there’s a distinction between reaching hit/exp caps and hitting breakpoints. The nature of breakpoints make it possible to have multiple, and over the course of a tier it is possible to reach higher breakpoints. This is not the case with hit/exp, as they cap at a flat 7.5% despite gear giving players more and more hit and expertise as the tier continues. At the beginning of an expansion, every gear will likely be reforged to hit and expertise, while at the end of an expansion, even after reforging everything away from hit, many ranged DPS classes are still extremely over hit capped). Instead, you can immediately concentrate on making sure that your gear fits your stat weights, then get back right into the action. The removal of reforging altogether, however, is a change that limits players’ ability to customize their play style. There’s no way to try out having a little bit more haste to make high movements fights easier. There’s no way to just hit your haste breakpoint then place the rest of your stat points into more useful stats. This change limits players’ options, and that is not a positive route of change.
Overall, a lot of the announcements made at Blizzcon were extremely exciting. Garrisons sound like a really fun way to pass some time in the game, as well as feel like I could still gain something in game while being away from the game. I hope that Blizzard implements Garrison management through the Blizzard Mobile Armory, as one of the Q&A folks asked, though I won’t be holding my breath (the Armory has always felt like a really powerful tool that just doesn’t get enough love). The new character models look beautiful and I’m excited to see the animation of my new cow. The quality of life changes to bags, heirlooms, and toys are phenomenal and I wish they could implement those immediately. The promise from Ghostcrawler that there won’t be any dailies makes me giddy as a schoolgirl on the first day of classes. More than anything, though, I’m excited about the removal or unnecessary stats and look forward to seeing how they affect gameplay (and I expect the effect to be a positive one), and I’m not at all excited about the removal of reforging and expect it to be re-added to the game within a few patches. But who knows, maybe Blizzard will abandon the removal of reforging before the expansion comes out and this whole thing will be a moot point. That’s right, get onto the WoW forums and scream bloody murder about the removal of reforging. Only you can prevent forest fires, and everyone’s voice has power, so make sure you say something to affect change or no one will know it’s a problem.