Dark Simulacrum – Destined For…
September 6, 2010 54 Comments
Greatness or ignominy?
That, as they say, is the question. No matter how it may seem at the present, it’s likely to end up in the middle, if anything, as it should be.
As it currently stands, you can copy almost anything which has a mana-cost. There are a few exceptions (Water Elemental and Felguard will instantly die, for instance, as they likely check themselves against your talents), but not many. Essentially all damage and healing spells can be mimicked, as has been expected all along (although in some cases they’ll be instant as opposed to having a cast time, and won’t actually consume the Dark Simulacrum debuff, allowing overpowered scenarios like spamming an instant cast Divine Light for 20 seconds straight! Obviously a bug, and likely a simple one for them to iron out). Crowd-control, snares, and like are usable as well. We can steal demon summons, but such use is slated for removal (due to all of the understandable technical complications).
Nothing surprising so far, right?
But then you get to self-buffs: Shadowform, Windfury Weapon, Molten Armor, Dark Intent, Seals, and so forth. All of them can be copied, and for their full-duration at that.
And that’s where the problem lies.
You see, according to this post, Ghostcrawler doesn’t have a problem with it copying Shadowform (and, likely, the other similar spells), but then states the obvious – that such abilities will have to have a Dark Simulacrum imposed limited duration, presumably similar to how buffs from Spell Steal are automatically capped at two minutes.
The big question of course, is what sort of time cap are we looking at? Because no matter which way you go, you’re looking for trouble.
- Too high (which, I would say, is probably anything over a minute)? Then raiding is going to be an utter joy. Imagine a World of Logs ranking where all of the top Death Knights are those who duel their raid’s Shadow Priest before the fight for the free +15% shadow damage, or their friendly Enhancement Shaman for Windfury (which I haven’t mathed out, but I believe would be on par, if not superior to, Shadowform). Hearthing out, dueling, and being summoned back is a process which only takes a minute or two; easily short enough to justify the huge gains we would see from these buffs even if we only ended up having them for a fifth of the encounter. If there was a truly tight enrage, you can bet us doing this would be mandatory. Even if dps wasn’t the central issue on a fight, there are numerous survivability buffs – Earth Shield, Shadowform (again!), Mage Armor, and so on – which could dramatically reduce the amount of healing we require and tremendously increase the amount of stupidity we can get away with (which is already a lot, considering Anti-Magic Shell!).
- The reason why you don’t see this as an issue with Spell Steal, despite having a two minute cap (which I would argue is far too long for DSim), is because there just aren’t as many dramatic magic buffs a Mage can steal. Most of these abilities which would be so incredible for us our melee-specific (such as Seals/Windfury), non-magic (Shadowform), or otherwise of limited use to their class (Dark Intent). What’s the strongest spell they can nab from a friendly player; Fel Armor probably? Nothing compared to what we can do.
- Too low (which, I would say, is probably anything under thirty seconds)? Then the fact that it can copy buffs is rendered near meaningless. Most of these buffs we wouldn’t be able to copy in normal circumstances; you’re not likely to have a Paladin refreshing Seal of Truth mid-combat, or a Priest rebuffing Vampiric Embrace (which, by the way, I would absolutely love to have access to). You’re much more likely to go up against a Mage blowing Mirror Image or a Shaman summoning Spirit Wolves, or other such cooldown usage which, if buffs are limited to thirty seconds or less, are likely superior damage (both immediately and over time) anyways. Sure, there will be the occasional super-buff we’ll be able to ninja from an NPC and being able to copy Heroism if you’re team is without a Shaman will be invaluable, 30 second cap regardless, but generally speaking, we just won’t care. The spell will lose a lot of its luster.
The astute among you will notice that there is a gap between my definitions of “too long” and “too short”, and yes, I would say that – 30 seconds to a minute – is probably the sweet spot in terms of “too potent, will be obnoxious before demanding encounters or competitive battlegrounds” and “too weak, the ability to copy these cool buffs just won’t compare to what else the spell can do in realistic circumstances”.
However, there is another solution which, if it’s doable in terms of coding, I would strongly push for: Buffs cast via Dark Simulacrum fade when you leave combat. A much smoother, more intuitive, less arbitrary cure than some form of limited duration based on time.
Simple, and solves all of the PvE issues. As for PvP? It would take care of anything ridiculous in Battleground, and as for arenas; if you catch a Shaman rebuffing their weapons mid-combat, or are quick enough to DSim a Shadow Priest shifting back after having to heal, then I’ld argue that they deserve for you to get the buff!
Aside from the buff issue (and the fact that it’s currently on GCD, which isn’t a huge deal for PvE, but seems quite limiting for PvP), Dark Simulacrum is shaping up quite nicely, although a lot of its value will still depend on the specific encounter. If a boss does a 50k nuke every minute we can copy, that’s over 800 dps we’ll gain for free. It’s always been the case that each class has some bosses which they perform better on relative to themselves on others, but for us with DSim, it’s going to take that to a whole new level. That’s why, as odd as this may sound, I’m personally hoping that when it comes to bosses, most of the abilities we’ll be able to mimic won’t be damage ones at all, but those of other natures – healing, utility, survivability, and the like. More “fun” (because, honestly, copying a nuke which hits for a lot is rather dull) and doesn’t interfere with number balancing.
But, hey, time will tell.
Whichever way they go, I’m hoping they try to avoid designing encounters around the use of Dark Simulacrum to be completed. I.e, imagine Kael-thas without the legendary shield, but instead he casts a buff on himself of similar nature which we would then have to copy and throw on the tank to let them survive the Pyroblast. Letting DSim make an encounter easier is fine – that is, after all, what any ability does! – simply don’t make fights designed around DSim being used at a specific time on a specific spell for you to have any chance at success.
Just too gimmicky.