Latest Patch – My Commentary
July 22, 2010 55 Comments
If, by some odd chance, you haven’t yet read up on what the actual changes of beta build 12604 are, head on over here to familiarize yourself.
Otherwise, keep reading!
First with the new, then with the old:
Hand of Doom is an excellent addition for PvP, as goes without saying.
The only issue is it’s impossible for an Unholy spec to get both this and On a Pale Horse / Endless Winter, and it’s impossible for a Frost spec to get both this and Resilient Infection / Unholy Command. Somethings got to give somewhere. Now, of course you can’t get every desirable PvP talent in any one build, but both options in each scenario seem like a high trade-off either which way. But perhaps this is the sort of decision Blizzard wants PvPers to make with the new trees? Who knows. Any which way, in Unholy’s case, I’m thinking a Blood sub-spec is the clear winner, while for Frost it’s a bit more questionable – it really comes down to how common cleanses are and thus how valuable RI is. Who knows; certainly not myself. Scratch all of that. I was thinking it was tier 2, not tier 3, when typing this up, for whatever reason. Horrible oversight of mine. In that case, I have no clue what the point of the talent is! Blood PvP might be a possibility, I suppose, but Blizzard has said before that although they don’t mind Protection PvP specs, they don’t plan to go out of their way to ensure their viability. Thus, following that chain of logic, why would they add this new talent to Blood where only Blood can get it? The PvE uses seem terribly limited, tank or otherwise. Who knows. I’ld either move this down to tier 2 or, better yet, combine it with Endless Winter.
The reduction in point cost to Crimson Scourge, Sanguine Fortitude, and Blood Parasite are excellent improvements. Previously, it was difficult to get everything in the Blood tree you would want as a tank – and impossible to do so while also picking up Runic Empowerment and/or Morbidity. Between these slimmings and RE becoming baseline, the latter of which I’ll get to later, the tree flows much better. You can get everything which is essential from a “numbers” perspective, while leaving you with a couple of points for “fun” talents – such as the aforementioned Blood Parasite. Although some specific talents still need work, the new tree as a greater whole now fits much better in the Cataclysm design philosophy. Hopefully Frost and Unholy will see some similar modifications soon.
As to the rearrangement of several talents, I’m rather indifferent to it all. All of the moved talents are still above tier 2, and thus only reachable to Blood – so if you’re going to get both two talents anyways, and their cost is identical, it hardly matters if they trade places. It doesn’t hurt, sure, but I don’t see how it helps much. Perhaps future changes will make it all fit together. Or perhaps I’m just missing something right now. No big deal either way.
Oh, Frost. Where to start, where to start.
Runic Empowerment becoming baseline was already foretold, but it’s a welcome change all the same. Aside from a way to know when it goes off, which is bound to come out in the form of add-ons if nothing else, I would still like to see something addressing the oddness of the specs having to use PS and/or IT when their non-respective rune procs. Perhaps Blizzard just expects people to hold off on the procs and use those runes towards DS, Ob, or FS as appropriate to the spec? Unfortunately, that introduces it’s own issue of rune de-synchronization though. Numerous ideas have been floated as to how to resolve the IT/PS problems without creating even worse ones, so it’s not as if it’s not possible to do. There’s just no way of knowing what Blizzard’s thoughts on the matter are – it’s entirely possible they see the use of IT/PS as perfectly fine. Time will tell.
Festering Strike is excellent. It’s the perfect compliment to a single-rune Scourge Strike. Not only should it help boost Unholy’s dps, it will also help alleviate (although not actually solve) the spec’s current GCD problems. The wording is a bit ambiguous – can it boost the duration of diseases limitlessly, or does it have a cap similar to GoSS – but even if you ignore the latter aspect, it’s still a perfectly fine strike, and the side effect (however it may end up working) is intriguing and fitting for Unholy, if nothing else. The one thing I would like to see is it’s inclusion into some Unholy talents. Between that, NS, DSim, and Outbreak, it’s odd that not a single one of our new abilities are actually boosted by any of our talents.
Chains of Ice. As anyone who is familiar with me at all knows, I claim to be no expert on PvP matters, and there’s no question this is 100% a PvP change. I think it’s a decent one, especially considering the synergy with Festering Strike, but I could be completely wrong.
Nerves of Cold Steel taking Runic Empowerent’s place is doesn’t affect Frost, but makes Unholy DW all that more real of a possibility. The introduction of FS dials that change down a notch, but this change just cancels it out. Something needs to be added to Unholy to make it really scream 2H, or dual-wielding is going to happen at this point. Even adding an ICD to Sudden Doom (likely) wouldn’t be enough to alter this.
The buff to Chill of the Grave was the sort of thing I expected to see ages ago during Alpha. With the new rune system, it just makes sense.
Improved Icy Touch is still horrible from whatever perspective you look at it. Yeah, the damage got doubled, but it’s still ranked below almost every single other raw dps talent there is, and the only reason people will take it is because Icy Reach is a weaker option. On top of that, even if its damage contribution was up to par, its a terribly bland talent. “X% damage increase to one skill! Oh, and that one skill is one you only use once every 30 seconds at most! And the main reason you use that main skill is for its dot, not its direct damage, and the talent only affects the latter!”. Yeah. I can’t see this making it out of beta alive.
Reintroducing On a Pale Horse is great news for leveling. No other comment necessary.
AMS losing its cost is a nice little boost. Doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things, but a free buff is a free buff. Why complain?
Ebon Plaguebringer getting slimmed down is a nice start, but it goes without saying that Unholy still has a ton of bloat and needs a lot more fat cut before the tree even somewhat resembles Blizzard’s new vision of talents. A start is a start, though. It shows that the problem is recognized. As long as there’s follow-up changes in a similar vein, it’s a great sign of things to come.
My thoughts on Dirge echo my thoughts on Chill of the Grave: should have happened when all of our rune-based abilities got their damage boosted.
My thoughts on Virulence echo my thoughts on Improved Icy Touch! Still an incredibly weak talent, number wise, and still an incredibly bland talent, mechanic wise. Doesn’t adhere to the Cataclysm talent philosophy. Its death is just a matter of time. I’ll happily write up the obituary if it will speed up the process.
Armor specialization is a nice touch. 5% str wouldn’t be enough of a bonus to put leather ahead of plate presently on an individual basis, but making the boost all-or-nothing solves this. Is a leather piece better than a plate piece if the latter has an extra 5% strength to its individual stats? No. But is a leather piece or two better than a plate piece or two if the latter gives you an extra 5% strength to your overall stats (i.e, all your gear)? Yes.
Dark Intent is pretty lovely. 3% haste and 9% periodic damage/healing for the warlock and a friend. Who can argue with that? The best part is, as beta currently stands, Unholy is the best recipient (discounting the lock herself) of the buff! This could easily change, especially if our mastery gets tweaked (as it hopefully does), but it’s still promising. Blizzard could have easily stuck in a “spell” modifier before the haste or the periodic damage wording, thus ruling us out, but they were kind enough to give us our chance. I welcome it.
To sum up my thoughts on this patch – a good start. There just needs to be more changes like these to come, and by the time Cataclysm goes live months from now, we should be in excellent shape!