Signs are pointing to the release of patch 4.1 soon. While there's a lot going on in the first content patch of Cataclysm, there are no new raids. The reason for that is that general progression hasn't sufficiently conquered contemporary content; it's still a little too soon for a whole new raid tier.
But as with most things in the delicate ecosystem of WoW, you can't make many changes without those changes impacting other arenas of gameplay. There aren't new raids, but there are more than enough changes in patch 4.1 that raiding will be affected.
The biggest impact on raiding probably comes from valor point changes. If you're like me, you probably have trouble logging in every single day to accrue valor points. As of patch 4.1, you'll be able to run your daily random dungeons in batches. You can manage your play time without being forced to do a dungeon every day, as if it were some household chore.
This is a huge benefit to raids, since many raid members will now be able to pick up their full allowance of weekly valor points. More points translates into more gear, which will also translate into more progression. This is a change I've been hoping to see since Wrath, and I'm incredibly thankful to Blizzard for making random dungeon life more manageable.
Entry barrier reduction
While most raids try to maintain a stable roster of characters (and players), many folks still have to regularly deal with getting new characters into raids. When a new character hits 85, you've then got to deal with reputations, crafted gear, heroics, and sundry other things to make that new character raid-ready.
The two new instances will help smooth that entry. The gear's quality is somewhere between heroic and raid drop. Since the new instances are for 5-man groups, it'll be relatively quick to get new characters into them. It's a small, subtle benefit, but it'll definitely make life easier. Check out the retribution paladin gear for an example of how these new items can fill gaps before you pick up raid gear.
Also new: The dungeon finder will attempt to avoid putting classes with the same armor type in the same group. While it's a subtle thing, this makes it much more likely that people running heroics to prep for raiding will get important gear when it does drop.
While there are relatively few non-class mechanics changes, many of the changes that do appear will make overall player quality of life much better.
- You can resurrect characters using raid frames, even if the character has already released. This will make a huge difference to battle resurrection, saving the time it takes to find corpses on the ground.
- Interrupts that don't do damage will now always hit the target. This will be amazing for tank classes, who don't really gear for hit. While interrupts rarely missed, it was just incredibly frustrating when misses did happen.
- Battle resurrection is being given to death knights and warlocks, making it much easier to get a rez mid-fight. Even if you have a druid in your raid, you're hosed if the druid happens to die. Seeing this key ability spread out a little more will be helpful.
The class changes are where you'll see a lot of your new raiding benefits. While going through and analyzing the list of adjustments is the province of WoW Insider's class specialists (read their thoughts in the columns listed in the Class category at the far left of the drop-down menu at the top of the site), these are some of the differences that raid leaders will pick up on immediately.
- Desecration will no longer occur when used against bosses. It's a small quality of life improvement, but it will help declutter effects-heavy fights.
- Enrage no longer increases damage taken by your bear tank. This will make your bear tank's life much easier on initial pulls. Bear tanks are also getting other improvements, increasing their AoE threat and damage capability as well as buffing their defense capabilities.
- Protection and retribution paladins won't be throwing Word of Glory around quite as universally, since it now has a cooldown. That cooldown isn't terribly arduous though, so you may never notice.
- Rogues who are willing to give up a little DPS to use Recuperate will find themselves with a little more survivability; the effect is being increased from 2% to 3% health healed.
- Rogues will also be able to use Tricks of the Trade 100 yards away from the tank, instead of just 20.
- Warriors will be able to shout a Rallying Cry, providing raid members a temporary boost to their health. This will give the healers a little more buffer during big raid damage effects but won't decrease the amount of incoming damage.
You will now be able to buy Maelstrom Crystals with honor or justice points. If you're like many guilds, you've been selling the shards for cash. The gravy train is unfortunately over; sell those off now!
Overall, patch 4.1 doesn't bring huge changes for raiding. However, there are quite a few little quality of life improvements, and bear tanks are being made even a little more viable. It's all pretty subtle stuff, but I think most raid leaders will appreciate the patch.
Ready Check shares all the strategies and inside information you need to take your raiding to the next level. Be sure to look up our strategy guides to Cataclysm's 5-man instances, and for more healer-centric advice, visit Raid Rx.