Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pros and Cons of merging stats in WoW

I've been out of the World of Warcraft loop for a couple months as I went and tried out Age of Conan so I don't always have the most up to date information. I know some of the new talents for each class, but mostly just the ones that have been widely talked about like Titan's Grasp. So it came as a great surprise when I started hearing about Blizzard trying to make gear less class specific by experimenting with item stats. I had known before that paladin talents and itemization were being updated again so that they could share armor with death knights, but I thought that was extent of it.

Instead, I find out that Blizzard announced a couple months ago they were changing a lot of the itemization in Wrath of the Lich King so that multiple classes could use the same gear. The combining of +spell damage and +spell healing into a single stat called +spell power seems to be the most widely discussed. It's probably because it has a lot of cloth casters in the game up in arms. The major concern seems to be that priests, warlocks, and mages will be competing on the same gear when running dungeons and raids. However, it should be offset by the drop rates being more friendly since all cloth casters can use the same gear.

Another concern was that healers need larger amounts of +spell healing compared to the amount of +spell damage that offensive casters require. Thus some healers think that if they are limited to having the same amount of +spell power as offensive casters they won't be able to heal effectively. I'm guessing that Blizzard is already on this problem though and will probably rework the coefficients on +spell power so that it works differently on healing and damage spells. The recent changes to spell down-ranking suggest this is the case since the technique favored healers. Blizzard probably found it hard to balance the universal +spell power with down-ranking and thus decided to switch to a mana cost percentage.

In my opinion, the new universal critical strike rating is much more interesting then the +spell damage and +spell healing combination. This itemization change goes a long way to merging the mail selection for shamans and hunters since +critical strike would apply to both melee and spell attacks. There's some of the same concerns about having to compete for the same items, but again it would improve drop rates. It also opens up some interesting possibilities for new classes. Cloth items that had stamina, spirit, and +critical strike could also theoretically be used for some type of new melee class. It seems obvious that that the itemization changes are all about opening items to as many classes as possible.

I've talked about how much I hate random loot tables before and the very class specific itemization in World of Warcraft has made it a problem. Blizzard can't simply make all dungeon drops bind-on-equipped or else they would flood the market. Instead they've been forced to come up with other alternatives like the token system. Tokens are a fine way to allow players to make steady progress to a reward, but some players want the traditional loot table. In that case the item stats changes makes a lot of sense on Blizzard's part. It allows players to stay with the loot distribution system they are more familiar with and it reduces the number of times a item drop and no one can use it. The only other option would be a complicated system that checks every one's class and talents before assigning loot.

Competing with more classes for gear
Reworking the theorycraft behind optimal stats for each class
Less variation in what people are wearing

More items on loot tables for each class
Less items rotting/sold for gp
Simplify the overall min/max process
Makes it easier to introduce new classes (pirate/ninja pls)


iomegadrive said...

I personally like this change, as it makes it easier for new users to sort of grasp the whole stat enhancement angle to the game.

My gf, inexperienced in the world of itemization and mostly a console gamer, played a rogue to 70 and never really understood what "all those different stats" did and why they were important.

Blizz probably realized that even though they made their game very friendly to non-hardcore MMO'ers, it's still a bit dense for the rest of the market.

Ferenczys said...

I tend to disagree with the con that there will be increased pressures from inter-class competition, and I'll explain why.

I think the average player will actually be able to acquire upgrades more easily under the new system than the old one.

The way it works now, you basically have to pray that the loot table a) generates the piece you need and b) you win the roll/everyone else passes.

Blizz is trying to address a) by making more items useable (note: useable does not mean optimal) by multiple classes, so fewer items are on the loot table and thus the random factor is reduced. It seems more likely that Blue Cloth Item will drop in Wrath than it TBC, for instance, because the boss is really only pulling from a pool of 5-7 items, vs 9-12 (a blind estimate; I am totally assuming here).

So if we assume that said item will show up more frequently, it should offset the fact that multiple classes are pulling for it. And extending this logic to Questing and other rewards, it increases the likelihood of being able to find an upgrade worthwhile to your class even before hitting the dungeon.

Using the Demand/Supply curve, I'm seeing them increasing supply while broadening demand. The two should cancel each other out.

Besides (using casters as an example), Warlocks and Mages have been exchanging some gear for quite some time already, and Warlocks have always had a spill-over with Shadow Priest itemization; all that changes is that Healers can use DPS gear, and DPS can use Healing gear.

Green Armadillo said...

One interesting side effect is that certain haste/hit/crit rating trinkets/rings/cloaks/necks are equally useful to relevant casters and melee. I pity da foo who has to sort out that one in their local Loot Council.

Overall, the changes are good, but we're still not yet at the miracle of universal gear. Many classes weight different ratings differently depending on what stats they scale best with. Also, choosing quest rewards can be even more complicated for certain hybrids now (though more choices is generally better than fewer).

Anonymous said...

This is good for several reasons.

1. Less gear rotting in 5 mans because its healer leather/mail/cloth and there's only 1 healer.

2. Healers gear now has +damage roughly equal that of dps caster. Major improvement for healers soloing.

3. Merging crit helps the melee/caster hybrid pallies and shamans. There are shaman talents in this direction as well.

4. Next step is to merge spell power and attack power and make the melee/caster and mooncats a reality.

Khassad said...

" Another concern was that healers need larger amounts of +spell healing compared to the amount of +spell damage that offensive casters require. Thus some healers think that if they are limited to having the same amount of +spell power as offensive casters they won't be able to heal effectively. "

I have a paladin healer with 5xT6, I copied the paladin in the BETA and specced nearly in the same way.

Health: the same
Mana unbuffed: 11k (TBC) / 11.3k (WotLK)
Bonus: 2240 +heal (TBC) / 1228 sp.power (WotLK)

Comparison (normal/crit)

Flash Light: 1600/2400 (TBC) 2200/3300 (WotLK)
Holy Light: 4300/6500 (TBC) 5600/8600 (WotLK)
Holy Shock: da 1900/2800 (TBC) 2600/3900 (WotLK)