The Health Conundrum

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Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Warcraft instead of me waiting on Heroes of the Storm or whatever other game I’m playing that isn’t WoW, surprisingly enough considering the amount of information that has been given to us the past couple weeks, one of which linked to the image above. That’s right, pre-orders are available, and we can expect the expansion on or before the end of fall on the 20th December 2014. This post isn’t going to talk about anything like boosted level 90’s or the increased price of the expansion pack (I might make another post concerning those topics) – this article is going to be about healing and health in WoD. This intro has mainly had nothing to do with it, so let’s get right into it!

Blizzard earlier on this week released a blog article concerning how health and healing is going to change in Warlords of Draenor, and it goes to continue the discussion started last year of how there’s been this huge back and forth of balance, especially in PvP, of how players have this mindset of being able to keep people topped off at all times, and being able to heal effectively while keeping away from things that might smack you in the face a few times. This form of healing got too powerful for some classes, and Blizzard retaliated by allowing more classes to lock down these healers that are suddenly able to keep at full health and run away from them at the same time.

This was then combated by the healers that were unable to heal effectively on the move as they just ended up getting pressured too much to be able to have more options to not get locked down as easily. We’ve also seen the introduction and changes to Resilience, PvP Power, Battle Fatigue and capped item levels to further affect the survivability and lethality of players in PvP combat (while making sure that PvE-geared players don’t dominate in instanced PvP), each season the stats changing around so that it takes around as long to defeat others in similar gear, but so that you still feel more powerful in comparison to previous seasons. However, to avoid what happened in TBC with “welfare epics”, Blizzard have had to keep PvP gear weaker than PvE gear so that people don’t necessarily have to farm for gear in content they don’t enjoy playing, just to get that best-in-slot item.

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With the stat squish in WoD, this squishiness (or lack thereof) has to change yet again. Blizzard are aiming to tighten the gap between PvP and PvE, because as it stands at the moment most players feel much weaker in PvP content than they do in PvE, with reduced health pools and lower damage in comparison to PvE content. However, people still think that MoP has been “World of Burstcraft” where everything is tied around how much you can burst in the small window of CC.

This time around, when 6.0 hits Blizzard will squish people’s stats down, and then effectively double their health. To compensate in PvE, creature damage and healing will be increased so that it doesn’t affect that crowd too much, however we should see a bit more standard survivability without the need for a healer in PvP combat. This, alongside the cut in critical strike damage to only being 150% instead of 200% will hopefully slow down World of Burstcraft.

Along a similar vein, Blizz are also hitting healers so that they’re no longer as mobile while healing, turning some instant cast spells into cast-time abilities, and the ethos for WoD will be to not expect a full raid of people at max health during combat. We’re going to focus more on triage rather than reacting to burst damage. Shields and absorption effects will be less effective than they were before, so we may see heals over time leading raid content, as there will actually be things to heal this time around, instead of most of our Renewing Mists or Wild Growths go into overhealing. Whether or not Blizzard can keep it up for the entirety of the expansion is another deal, but unless there are any soothsayers out there, we’ll have to find out! To avoid the Cataclysm problem where healers in 5mans could heal 3 times before going out of mana, Blizzard are increasing mana regen at low gear levels, and with spirit only being available on jewellery the scaling shouldn’t get out of control later on in the expansion cycle.

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We’re seeing some changes to healing spells themselves, with at least one strong expensive AoE heal, one weak cheap AoE heal, one strong expensive single target heal and similarly one weak cheap ST heal. What is planned below for each class is as follows:

Druid

  • Nourish removed.
  • Wild Growth has a 1.5sec cast.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Healing Touch, Rejuvenation, Efflorescence
  • Higher throughput spells: Regrowth, Wild Growth

Monk

  • Uplift has a 1.5sec cast.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Soothing Mist, Renewing Mist
  • Higher throughput spells: Surging Mist, Spinning Crane Kick

Paladin

  • Holy Light removed.
  • Word of Glory/Eternal Flame has a 1.5sec cast when specced Holy.
  • Light of Dawn has a 1.5sec cast.
  • Divine Light renamed to Holy Light.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Holy Light, Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn
  • Higher throughput spells: Flash of Light, Holy Radiance

Priest

  • Heal removed.
  • Level 90 tier abilities has a 1.5sec cast time in Holy/Discipline.
  • Prayer of Mending has a 1.5sec cast.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Greater Heal, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Holy Nova (Disc-only version), Penance
  • Higher throughput spells: Flash Heal, Prayer of Healing

Shaman

  • Healing Wave removed.
  • Greater Healing Wave renamed to Healing Wave.
  • Higher efficiency spells: Healing Wave, Riptide, Healing Rain
  • Higher throughput spells: Healing Surge, Chain Heal

I can’t say I know too much to go into detail about the other classes’ healing styles, but in a Resto Druid perspective, the changes don’t seem that terrible. Rejuvenation and Lifebloom are still instant casts, along with other spells that are currently instant and not mentioned above to be changed to 1.5sec casts. Nourish doesn’t get used, I’ve even taken it off my bars for my Resto spec it’s that trash, so I’m not going to miss no longer having my weak, cheap heal any more. Getting used to the new Wild Growth will be interesting, as it’s been quite a core without many changes since the early days of Wrath when it found itself with a cooldown. It’s listed as a high throughput ability, so whether it’ll be similar to Genesis in terms of expensive to cast, but a ton of quick healing, or it’s just less efficient because of the cooldown and cast time making it a rarer ability to use, is something we’ll have to find out when beta hits.

Now, the worry I have is that healers are going to be left with nothing to do if people’s health is trickling down, but still being non-fatal enough to concern your mana about. Ion Hazzikostas (Watcher) could see these concerns and may be including more options like Atonement healing for other classes. As we know, Monks may be getting Cranedancer stance so they can split between mistweaving and fistweaving, Shamans may be getting free Lightning Bolts as filler. I wonder what kind of filler Paladins and Druids could gain? I guess Paladins could make use of Battle Healer if mechanics allowed, and Druids have Dream of Cenarius for filler (assuming Wrath is cheap to cast anyway), but I’d love something baseline like with the other classes so we’re not just sitting there watching doing nothing. Then again, homogenization and all that.

Overall, I’m all for these changes, especially if they do end up working out not just in early WoD, but in later tiers and seasons, and even progressing into the next expansion after WoD. Personally, I think Blizz will turn a 180 on something here or end up making the healer-DPS equilibrium in PvP out of whack, but that’s what alpha and beta cycles are for, right? Getting things changed before they go live and harder to revert!

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Weekly Roundup: In the order we just execute them

Diablo-3-logo-dark-3So Diablo 3 recently got updated to 2.0, and I thought I’d check it out, considering I’ve only been on it once or twice since the first week it came out. I have to say, my main gripe with Diablo when it first came out was that I burned out of it extremely quickly – I played through the story once. I played through it twice, slightly harder difficulty. I played through it a third time, at an even higher difficulty and ultimately stopped there, leaving my wizard to rot at around level 54.

For some reason, Blizzard decided that it would be best to make sure that people are edged in at a slightly higher difficulty as your character leveled up, which makes sense as I’m sure that a low level wouldn’t have made it far in Hell difficulty at the start. However, now all you need is some rare pieces and Expert or Master can be done at low level – the enemies will scale with you, and still be challenging throughout the game’s story.

After hearing more about Reaper of Souls at BlizzCon, and friends in WoW getting into a frenzy about it, I thought I’d check it out again, and I ended up leveling my Wizard to 60 through some boosted runs in some high-experience areas. I hit 60, thought about continuing into paragon levels, but ultimately put the game back down again to return my focus onto WoW, Dota 2 and other games.

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After the 2.0 update, and hearing many good things about it not just from friends, but from podcasts and blogs, I thought I’d roll a completely fresh character – a Witch Doctor – while the 50% bonus exp is up, have no items to be boosted to him from my Wizard (with the exception of a gem here or there once I hit 45+) and see how I got on from there. Needless to say, after my first playthrough of the game back nearly a year ago back in May, I was pleasantly surprised with the improvements to gameplay, the new loot system (ohjeez loot 2.0!), the pacing of the game in terms of time between reward. I’ll admit, it got me hooked.

My Wizard took nearly 35hrs to hit 60. My Barbarian has around 3hrs under his belt and is only level 14. My Monk is at level 27 by 4hrs played. I don’t know how much of this time is AFK looking at cat pictures on the internet for those characters, but my Witch Doctor hit 60, and continued into paragons for the first time on my account up to Paragon 18 in just 17hrs. I’ll admit I did get a friendly boost from a bored friend toward the end, but I was happily making my way through Act III on the first playthrough of the character and was still in my 40’s. I think I did two full playthroughs of the storyline on my Wizard at that stage!

I know the bonus exp won’t be there forever for the constant dings, but another thing that I wanted to make a point of in terms of time spent between rewards, is the increased amount of USEFUL loot you now get. So many times on my Wizard I’d get items with Str/Dex/Int and no other stats, that although an item was so much better overall stats, I chucked a level 50 item away and kept my level 22 boots. With smart loot, especially during leveling, upgrades are constantly coming along. I even went back to kill Skeleton King again after I killed him once, even though that I know he took ages to kill with my lowly gear, just so I could have another shot at a bunch of decent loot. Before, I had no motivation to go back and enjoy some of the fun fights because I knew they took too long and I might not even get anything that would be remotely useful for me.

Now, I’ve played through the entire storyline, picked up a fair few legendaries along the way (also got gifted some set items too from pre-2.0 once I hit 60), and ended up Paragon 17 after killing Diablo. I did do an exp run through one of the sections in Act 3 that allows for a lot of choke points for me to abuse Locust Swarm and collapsing zombies, but I quickly worked out that grinding rooms like that isn’t my cup of tea, unless I’m watching a movie at the same time or something…

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Overall, I have to say that I’m extremely surprised at how much the gameplay and feel of D3 has changed over this past year, and it’s only changed for the better. While I don’t think I’ll be grinding out the paragon levels before Reaper of Souls hits next week, I have to say I’m looking forward to the experience to 70 alongside the nephalim rifts, bounties and other fun things adventure mode has to offer us. At least, I’ll probably end up getting boosted by friends who have already grinded gear and paragon levels past 100 or whatever. I’m sure I’ll pay back the favour by boosting their Crusaders or something.

It’s been a light WoW week for me this week again, though I did manage to sneak my way into a raid on the Druid and net myself a Thok heroic kill (thanks to Bridgeburners!). On Hordeside, we managed to down Garrosh on normal, but other than that, I passed ExC leadership onto an officer who’s going to be miles more active than me, and has much more comradery with anyone that didn’t used to already be Alliance. Other than that, I’ve mainly been at work, and had a few games of Dota.

Found a neat little site at http://truepicker.com/en/ that basically allows you to anti-pick anything the other team choose, with the option to choose what role you prefer, if you’re jungling/solo/tri-laning and your own general skill level. Keep an eye on the timer though as you don’t want to lose out on any of that starter cash, though scumbagging of anti-picking too hard can make games pretty unfun, so I just generally pick something once there’s 20secs left, no matter how many heroes have been chosen on the other side.

Hell… It’s About Time!

tychusThis week is Tychus week in Heroes of the Storm! Blizzard released an awesome trailer introducing him to the Storm. He is a ranged/assassin hero who can commandeer the Odin as one of his potential heroic abilities and gaining a whole new set of abilities, the other being more stationary in the Drakken Laser Drill. His trait is interesting in that he charges up his weapon and then has the fastest attack speed in the game. He certainly has a fun skillset, and I’m sure I’ll pick him up at some point (most likely as Abathur’s Ultimate Evolution, though I’m sure I’ll pick him up in free rotation to begin with).

icontychusOutside of the Odin, his abilities are as follows:

  • Overkill (Q): Focus Tychus’ minigun on the target, dealing 3760 (720 + 160 per level) damage to the target over 5 seconds. Other targets in the cone take 940 (180 + 40 per level) damage. Can retarget while casting.
  • Frag Grenade (W): Tychus lobs a grenade that explodes for 560 (85 + 25 per level) damage. Enemies hit are pushed away from the explosion’s epicenter.
  • Run and Gun (E): Charge forward and instantly wind up Tychus’ minigun.
  • Drakken Laser Drill (R): Summons a Laser Drill that deals 155 (22 + 7 per level) damage per second.

However, if you pick the Odin as his heroic ability (R), you lose the Drakken Laser Drill, and gains a second health pool and reducing all Crowd Control effects by 50%. Basic Attacks in the Odin do heavy damage and no longer require a windup. Tychus gains the ability to fire Ragnarok Missiles and Annihilate to devastate a large area:

  • Annihilate (Q): Tychus fires the Odin’s cannons in a straight line, dealing 20 damage to everything in its path.
  • Ragnarok Missiles (W): Tychus launches missiles at everything in a radius around him, dealing 20 damage to each target.
  • Nuclear Blast (E): Tychus calls down a nuke at a target location. After a short delay, the target area explodes for 200 damage.

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We also see the first major patch of the alpha, bringing massive changes all round (over 9000 changes, according to object strings and game strings) though changes to heroes can be found here! In addition, earlier on last week we received news that the technical alpha has been released, with a few lucky people in the US being able to access the game to test out how it works on different machines and internet connections, to make sure that it’s stable across a spectrum of different players. Today however, Reddit users have posted that these invites are also being sent to the EU now too!

The best part about this alpha? There is no NDA! What this means is that people are free, once the alpha goes live, to share images, videos, blog posts, podcasts to talk about what’s happening within the game and how it plays! This is a first for Blizzard, considering past alphas have generally been for friends and family of Blizzard only, and have also been under the NDA. However, I’m sure Blizzard knows the strong competition within the genre they’re entering, and want to be able to build up as much hype as they can about the game, so this may be why they’re changing their stance for Heroes at least in terms of alpha. Whether we’ll see the same for Warlords of Draenor is a different matter entirely, but it’ll certainly be interesting to keep an eye on.

As a final note, it’s interesting to see Blizzard hashtagging #TychusWeek. Does this imply a new hero each week now that alpha is starting? I guess we’ll find out in due course!

Check out Tychus’s full hero page here for full list of his abilities, talents and scaling!

tycusIn related Heroes of the Storm news, Blizzard have also released a new blog post (these updates are coming out like wildfire now!) concerning some of the major systems within the game and how it will work. You can check out there entire blog post here, though I will briefly summarise what has been announced so far to round out this blog post. Please note that when talking about levels in this summary, we’re talking about your Heroes of the Storm level, not the level of your hero in matches:

  • Every Tuesday (maybe Wednesday for EU, but we’ll assume it’s Tuesday globally for now) we get a new rotation of free heroes to try out. Before you hit level 7, this will be restricted to five heroes. Once you hit level 7, this increases to six heroes for free each week.
  • At level 5, you can begin to earn gold as a currency, that increases in quantity the more you level up. This gold can be used to purchase heroes so they’re in your rotation permanently.
  • At level 6, daily quests can be completed for more gold. Though only one new quest will appear each day, you can have up to three in your quest log at any time.
  • You can test out heroes whether or not they’re on free rotation in a closed bot match called “Try Me” mode, away from other players, so you can get a feel of how a hero plays if you’re thinking of investing into a purchase of them.
  • If you can’t wait to get to level 5, you can also buy the heroes for real money. People who pre-order Diablo III: Reaper of Souls get a free unlock of the Demon Hunter, Valla.
  • In addition, heroes will have unlockable skins with three or more tints (colour variations) to choose from – one base tint that comes free, and two more that are unlockable.
  • The first unlockable tint is available at the second Hero Quest, the second tint at the fourth Hero Quest.
  • Some skins will be able to be purchased with real money, others from events, and some from a hero’s sixth Hero Quest. All of these additional skins will have three or more tints to choose from.
  • Mounts are used instead of boots found in other MOBAs, and everyone gets a free standard horse. More mounts can be unlocked with real money, and a special one will be unlocked for those making purchase in the alpha/beta stage of the game. Each of these mounts also have three tints to choose from, unlocking the final two at the hero’s fifth Hero Quest.
  • Increasing your out-of-match and gaining experience for it is done in matches by completing quests, playing with Battle.net friends, achievements earned in matches as well as a win bonus for the winning team.
  • Hero Quests are available at level 10, allowing you to complete three special challenges for a hero.
  • Once you hit level 20, you can dig even further into a hero and complete three more Epic Hero Quests.

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