In keeping with our musical theme, here's David Bowie's Changes. Most of you have probably heard it, but most of us have not really listened to it. Take some time to enjoy one of Bowie's most renowned pieces with the article today.
Last time, I went over a few significant arena modifications that 3.2.2 brought us. Square pillars for line-of-sight, the armor penetration nerf, focus frames, flying in battlegrounds, and the Onyxia loot table can be found here.
This article is going to talk about five of the nine classes discussed in the 3.2.2 patch notes (warlocks were left out). The reason we won't be talking about the other four is sheer article size. I'm not getting blamed for breaking anyone's scroll wheel today! We'll go over death knights, hunters, druids, and mages in the second part of this part II (which should be in a day or two).
I'm giving analysis on class changes; I hope we will agree on most things, but if you disagree or decide I don't understand a mechanic properly, please let me know in the comments below. I read all your comments and am often stunned with how gracious our readers have been towards me. Thank you for all the kind words, those of you who took the time to write them!
Please don't assume that I don't care if I don't write a large amount about the horrors of nerfing or the glories of buffing your main character's class (triple negative hooray). I probably don't know enough about the intricacies of the change to make an educated prediction, and would say little rather than proclaim "this will gimp class X vs. class Y" and have it fail to come to fruition.
I'm going to be ignoring all non-pvp related notes. If you think I left something out, please post a comment below and I will (most likely) edit the post accordingly.
Also, 3.3 patch notes are out already! Next week, part III will be merged with the 3.3 patch notes that are coming; there's a lot to talk about!
So, without further ado, here's what 3.2.2 is cha-cha-cha-cha-changing in the arena world.
* Ardent Defender: This talent now reduces damage taken below 35% health by 7/13/20% instead of 10/20/30%.
Prot paladin nerfs. We knew they were coming, and they've arrived. This change hurts PvE a bit more than PvP, but it will still a good bit easier to kill a protection paladin in the smaller brackets now. My experience with prot paladins in 5v5 is that they're actually easier to kill than holy paladins due to no aura mastery on the buggers, and that seems to help when 3+ dps is switching to you.
* Judgements of the Just: The reduction in cooldown to Hammer of Justice provided by this talent has been reduced to 5/10 seconds instead of 10/20 seconds.
I strongly support this change. The exceptionally quick hammer that protection paladins had access to was just ridiculous. A certain high-rated 5v5 actually had their protection paladin wear three-piece level 60 PvP gear to be able to hammer of justice someone on the opposing team every 10 seconds. Because diminishing returns fades after 30 seconds 15 seconds, (EDIT: I'm illiterate) the paladin could rotate the hammer between many targets on the opposing team and never have to deal with a reduced duration, effectively crowd controlling an opposing player (in a magical stun) every six seconds out of ten! While clever, I'm glad to see it go.
* Touched by the Light: This talent now provides 20/40/60% of the paladin's strength as spell power instead of 10/20/30% of the paladin's stamina.
Some protection paladins are reporting losses of 500+ spell power. Wow! This will affect lots of teams that relied on prot paladins to create a large amount of offensive pressure in addition to heals. Prot paladins, if they still choose the spec for healing in arena, will have to play much more defensively (i.e. more similar to a holy paladin).
* Improved Spirit Tap: Mind Flay periodic critical strikes now have a 50% chance to trigger this talent.
Great change, although I'd really like to see shadow priests have a more effective way of mana return. Mana is a touchy subject in general, as lots of people believe mana-using DPS is fatally flawed unless given access to a very easy and efficient way of "infinite" mana with low downsides. Rogues, warriors and death knights are not penalized nearly as much as mages, warlocks, hunters, shadow priests, enhancement shamans, elemental shamans, etc if they 'run out' of their energy resource. I'll talk more on this in a later column.
* Twisted Faith now grants spell power equal to 4/8/12/16/20% of spirit, up from 2/4/6/8/10%.
Shadow priests really need more work put into them to be competitive in arena. A relatively weak mana regen and spell power buff is not going to save them in PvP, unfortunately. Still, it's good to know Blizzard is looking at them.
Chase Christian has talked about 3.2.2 changes for rogues, be sure to check it out.
* Envenom's scaling has been increased from 7% to 9% of attack power per combo point.
Minor damage buff, not really much more to say about it. Mr. Christian has calculated raid damage to a ~125 dps increase. That will be much less due to PvP gear, fewer buffs on your character, fewer debuffs on the target, and inconsistent dps uptime, so take it for what you will. If you play a rogue and have had a paladin bubble on you at 1-100 hp, this might win you a game here and there.
* Fan of Knives: The damage done by this ability has been reduced by 30%.
Is anyone going to argue that this wasn't necessary? Rogues themselves have been asking for a damage reduction on Fan of Knives in exchange for additional passive survivability and damage increases in other places. I'm refreshed Blizzard developers finally decided to make this change.
* Master Poisoner: No longer increases the Deadly Poison application rate following a successful Envenom and instead now provides a 33/66/100% chance of preventing Envenom from consuming Deadly Poison.
I consider this primarily a PvE change. I wasn't going to include it in the article, but figured I would because apparently there's a good deal of rogue discussion on it. If you think this change will be a big deal in PvP, please leave a comment below with logic to back it up. :)
* Throwing Specialization: This talent no longer causes Fan of Knives to interrupt spellcasting.
Who's idea was it to make this ridiculous talent in the first place? 5v5s and 3v3s had rogues running around mashing one button with their elbow. This isn't thrilling to either the rogue or the opposing team. While I'm sure there are rogues that loved the spec, it was quite possibly the single greatest annoying gimmick-spec in arena history. Being annoyed isn't fun for players, and I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. I threw a goodbye party and poisoned its cake after pillaging its sister.
* Cleansing Totem: No longer pulses instantly when dropped.
Incoming imposed beliefs! You have been warned.
I would like to see a 1.5 second delay on pulsing totems from the time it is dropped. This gives the opposing team a small window to kill the shaman's totems before they pulse. It enables the shaman to prevent crowd control more consistently. (That warlock is casting fear! / That hunter is going to use Wyvern Sting soon! I might want to drop this now so I can get out of it very shortly.)
* Flame Shock: The duration of all ranks has been increased by 6 seconds.
Flame Shock ran out too quickly. This change puts it on par with other similar abilities. Elemental shamans should be viewed as dps casters with additional abilities, not healers who have similar (but yet inferior) abilities to other classes. Great change.
* Lava Burst: This ability no longer ever consumes a Flame Shock debuff off of the target.
Restoration druids and destruction warlocks glyph for Swiftmend and Conflagrate, elemental shamans shouldn't be the exception here. I'm all for giving elemental shamans the same benefits that other classes have in terms of offensive and defensive capabilities, but this isn't equalizing, this is giving them a 'free' glyph slot.
Small note: Elemental Combat? Last I checked, a shaman's spell DPS tree was just "elemental." Someone was having a bit of fun with the patch notes.
* Shamanism: Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells gain an additional 3/6/9/12/15% and your Lava Burst gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus damage effects.
I don't like this change. I would like to see less crazy burst kills from elemental shamans rather than more. While it is interesting to have a few very bursty spell dps specs, WotLK has been too friendly to bursty one shot kills. Developers can, and should, buff these guys and gals in other ways.
* Earthen Power: No longer causes Earthbind to pulse a persistent snare immunity aura. It does still remove snares from allies as an instant pulse, but there is no lingering immunity. Earthen Power now also brings Earth Shock's melee attack speed reduction up to -15%/-20% (with 1 or 2 points in it, respectively).
Okay, so Beast Cleave (which is short for enhancement shaman, beast mastery hunter, and holy or prot healing paladin) was handed some heavy nerfs with patch 3.2.2. This one is the worst (yes, much worse than the nerf to Bestial Wrath, we'll go over that in a day or so). No more "AoE Freedom." Beast Cleave teams will actually be able to be kited now, although it will still be difficult as earthbind totem continues to pulse. The most famous of all beast cleaves is still doing very well with the comp, so it definitely speaks to the synergy within it (both classes and players).
* Sword Specialization: Now has a 2/4/6/8/10% chance to proc an extra attack, up from 1/2/3/4/5%.
It will be interesting to see what warriors will do with this. It still seems that poleaxe specialization will be dominant, but some warriors might be switching over to sword spec with this change, just to try it out. Who knows, it might end up becoming dominant as the burst damage possibility is very strong with swords (imagine two crits). Have any of you warriors out there thought about switching to swords, now that you'll have double the chance to proc a second attack?
* Critical Block: This talent now grants a 20/40/60% chance to block double the normal amount instead of 10/20/30%.
Although Prot Warriors are making waves in some comps, this change isn't really done for PvP reasons and will not have that many PvP implications. For more information, Matthew Rossi, our warrior columnist, goes over 3.2.2 warrior changes in this post.
Until next time, keep cha-cha-cha-choosing to dominate the opposing team!
Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to the Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news. If that's not enough to wet your PvP whistle, check out WoW.com's articles on arena, successful arena PvPers, PvP, and our arena column, Blood Sport.