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Is Blizzard properly separating PvP and PvE nerfs?


The promised class changes just keep on coming, some of them well received, some of them not so well received. Certainly the dust has far from settled, with Kalgan himself promising that more is to come only this evening, but there's already questions to ask. One that springs to mind seems especially pertinent in light of the upcoming 3v3 Tournament and Rob Pardo's talk about changing PvP into an E-sport: Are the recent class changes focusing on PvP at the cost of PvE? Druids and Shamans seem to be asking this especially, and we'll look at some of their changes after the break.

The Shaman changes have been pretty clearly focused primarily on PvP. The most recent change linked Elemental Mastery and Nature's Swiftness to a 10-second cooldown. This was likely to prevent teams in PvP from using the "2345" burst damage setup, marked in part by an Elemental Shaman using a spell damage trinket's right click, Elemental Mastery, Nature's Swiftness, and Chain Lightning in rapid succession to put out a massive amount of damage that could be difficult for the opposite team to recover from. In addition, the recent nerf dropping the pushback resistance on the Shaman Elemental PvP 4-piece set bonus from 70% to 50% could be seen as part of this as well. This does take away a little bit from Shaman versatility in small group situations, whereas they can't use EM, then use NS for an emergency heal within 10 seconds. Those type of clutch situations aren't very common though (hopefully), so a pure PvE Shaman probably won't see too much disruption from these changes unless they ground PvP armor for the 4-piece bonus so they could cast more Lightning Bolts while soloing. In fact, one could argue that if Shamans are no longer built around dropping an opponent off the bat with a quick burst, this could open the way for future buffs to improve their versatility.

Lifebloom's changes, while seeming to be an across the board nerf at first, have also kept the PvE and PvP spheres remarkably seperate, due to the different ways Lifebloom is useful in PvE and PvP. Tree druids have long used "Rolling Lifeblooms" as their main healing method in raids, keeping full stacks of Lifeblooms up on multiple people to provide massive amounts of regeneration. In the meantime, Druids in PvP use Lifeblooms to counteract Dispelling attempts and provide a way to keep a teammate healed or provide a burst of large healing via the large heal at the end even while they themselves are being harassed or must duck out of LoS. While the current nerf reduces the healing ticks by quite a bit, the changes to Empowered Rejuvenation also going in this patch keep the ending heal nearly as strong as it is now. Thus, if it was Blizzard's wish to force raiding Druids into using more spells besides Lifebloom in raid healing, they seem to be working at that quite nicely while keeping Lifebloom a viable PvP heal.

Power Infusion might be where blizzard misstepped a bit. The change of the bonus from spell damage and healing to spell haste seems to be meant as a change to PvP. Formerly, it could be cast on a Mage or a Shaman winding a massive instant spell as in the above case of the Elemental Mastery and Nature's Swiftness for an even bigger burst of damage, but with the haste change, it will no longer work with that. However, the PvP nerf also means it will make it much less useful for casting on Shadow Priests and Affliction Warlocks, who do a major part of their damage with instant cast spells that receive no benefit from spell haste, or for increasing the power of Renew or Power Word: Shield for those emergency protection situations, or the Shadowfiend. Overall, this seems to have been a much more general nerf that hurts the versatility of the spell in small grouping and raiding as well as in PvP.

Of course, This is the patch of progressive testing, and Kalgan has said that what matters is what the patch looks like when it goes live, so we could get all sorts of changes and rollbacks (such as the recent news from World of Raids that the Warlock Mana Drain buff has been rolled back on the test server) between now and when the patch finally goes live. Hopefully, Blizzard gets all these balances sorted out, and doesn't let either PvE or PvP suffer too much to balance the other side of the equation.

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