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Dev Watercooler: Building Healthy Gameplay

As promised Blizzard has come out with a new Watercooler post about health, resilience, battle fatique and healing.

Quote from: Blizzard

Last week, we talked about squishing stats and pruning unnecessary complexity as part of our ongoing design goals for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. This time, we’ll look at a few topics all related to one vital element: health.Player Health and Resilience
In the next expansion, we’re planning several interconnected changes designed to provide better-tuned gameplay for healers and improve the healing dynamic in PvP.

The high amount of base Resilience and Battle Fatigue in Mists of Pandaria currently causes characters to feel much weaker in PvP than they do in PvE. To address this disparity, we’re approaching Warlords of Draenor with the goal of shrinking that gap as much as possible. To reduce dependence on Resilience, we needed to increase player survivability against other players, and we chose to do this by essentially doubling (post-squish) player health.

On its own, that increase in health would make players more survivable in the world at large, so we’re also increasing creature damage and the effectiveness of healing spells to balance things out. The net result of these changes is that individual attacks will knock a smaller chunk off of a player’s health pool in PvP, but your survivability in PvE won’t be affected.

Doubling player health gave us room to reduce Resilience and Battle Fatigue, but our goal was to be able to remove them entirely. In order to achieve that, we’re also reducing PvP spike damage across the board by lowering Critical Damage and Critical Heals to 150% of their normal effect (down from 200%).

Our hope is that these changes allow us to reduce Base Resilience and Battle Fatigue to 0%. It’s possible that we’ll still find a need for some minor amount of Base Resilience and/or Battle Fatigue, and we’ll be testing these changes extensively and adjusting as needed.

Retuning Healing Spells

One of our goals for healing in Warlords of Draenor is to tone down the raw throughput of healers relative to the size of player health pools. Currently, as healers and their allies acquire better and better gear, the percentage of a player’s health that any given heal restores increases significantly. As a result, healers are able to refill health bars so fast that we have to make damage more and more “bursty” in order to challenge them. Ideally, we want players to spend some time below full health without having healers feel like the players they’re responsible for are in danger of dying at any moment. We also think that healer gameplay would be more varied, interesting, and skillful if your allies spent more time between 0% and 100%, rather than just getting damaged quickly to low health, forcing the healer to then scramble to get them back to 100% as quickly as possible.

To that end, we’re buffing heals less than we’re increasing creature damage. Heals will be deliberately less potent compared to health pools than before the item squish. Additionally, as gear improves, the scaling rates of health and healing will now be very similar, so the relative power of any given healing spell shouldn’t climb so much over the course of this expansion. For those concerned about what this means for raiding, don’t worry—we’re taking all of these changes into account when designing Raid content for Warlords of Draenor.

It’s also important to note that spells that heal based on a percentage of maximum health are being effectively buffed by the massive increase to player health pools, so we’re lowering those percentages to offset the effect. That may make them appear to have been nerfed—however, the net result is that those percentage-based heals stay about the same as before relative to other heals.

All of these changes apply to damage-absorption shields as well. Additionally, we’re toning down the power of absorbs in general. When they get too strong, absorption effects are often used in place of direct healing instead of as a way to supplement it. We will, of course, take these changes into account when tuning specializations that rely heavily on absorbs, such as Discipline Priests.

We also took a look at healing spells that were passive or auto-targeted (so-called “smart” heals). We want healers to care about who they’re targeting and which heals they’re using, because that makes healer gameplay more interactive and fun. To that end, we’re reducing the healing of many passive and auto-targeted heals, and making smart heals a little less smart. Smart heals will now randomly pick any injured target within range instead of always picking the most injured target. Priority will still be given to players over pets, of course.

Another of our goals for healing in this expansion is to strike a better balance between single-target and multi-target healing spells. We’ve taken a close look at the mana efficiency of our multi-target heals, and in many cases, we’re reducing their efficiency, usually by reducing the amount they heal. Sometimes, but more rarely, raising their mana cost was a better decision. We want players to use multi-target heals, but they should only be better than their single-target equivalents when they heal more than two players without any overhealing. This way, players will face an interesting choice between whether to use a single-target heal or a multi-target heal based on the situation.

Finally, we’re removing the low-throughput, low-mana-cost heals like Nourish, Holy Light, Heal, and Healing Wave, because we think that while they do add complexity, they don’t truly add depth to healing gameplay. (We’re also renaming some spells to re-use those names. For example, Greater Healing Wave is being redubbed Healing Wave.) However, we still want healers to think about their mana when deciding which heal to cast, and so the mana costs and throughputs of many spells are being altered to give players a choice between spells with lower throughput and lower cost versus spells with higher throughput and higher costs. Here are some examples from each healer class:

Druid Higher Efficiency: Healing Touch, Rejuvenation, Efflorescence
Druid Higher Throughput: Regrowth, Wild Growth

Monk Higher Efficiency: Soothing Mist, Renewing Mist
Monk Higher Throughput: Surging Mist, Spinning Crane Kick

Paladin Higher Efficiency: Holy Light, Holy Shock, Word of Glory, Light of Dawn
Paladin Higher Throughput: Flash of Light, Holy Radiance

Priest Higher Efficiency: Greater Heal, Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, Holy Nova (new Discipline-only version), Penance
Priest Higher Throughput: Flash Heal, Prayer of Healing

Shaman Higher Efficiency: Healing Wave, Riptide, Healing Rain
Shaman Higher Throughput: Healing Surge, Chain Heal

All of this discussion of efficiency may cause most healers to start worrying about mana regeneration and their mana pool. To allay those concerns, we’ve increased base mana regen a great deal at early gear levels, while having it scale up less at later gear levels. This will make all of these changes play well even in early content such as Heroic Dungeons and the first tier of Raid content, and also play well in the final Raid tier without mana and efficiency becoming irrelevant due to extremely high regeneration values.

That’s a lot of big changes for healers: reduced throughput, more triage, less powerful “smart” heals, weaker absorbs, fewer spells, and a new focus on efficiency decisions. We’re confident that we can apply lessons learned from previous expansions to make this the best healer experience yet: more dynamic, engaging, non-punishing, and frankly a lot more fun.

Instant-Cast Heals

Over time, healers have gained a bigger and bigger arsenal of heals that they can cast while on the move, which removes the inherent cost that movement is intended to have for them, while also limiting players’ ability to counter healing in PvP. This left silences and crowd control (which we’re trying to curb—see “Pruning the Garden of War”) as the only ways to actually limit an enemy player’s healing output. We’re still preserving the option to instantly heal, but are reducing the number of instant-cast healing abilities overall. Here are some examples:

Druid

  • Wild Growth (Restoration) now has a 1.5-second cast time.

Monk

  • Uplift (Mistweaver) now has a 1.5-second cast time.

Paladin

  • Eternal Flame and Word of Glory now each have a 1.5-second cast time when specced Holy.
  • Light of Dawn now has a 1.5-second cast time.

Priest

  • Cascade, Divine Star, and Halo now each have a 1.5-second cast time.
  • Prayer of Mending now has a 1.5-second cast time.

All of these changes taken together are intended to make gameplay more consistent between PvE and PvP, and invigorate healers with more dynamic gameplay.

These are only some of the many changes that you’ll be seeing as we continue development, and what we’ve shared so far is only one piece of a much larger puzzle. We hope that as we share more with you here, on the official site, the forums, and on Twitter, you’ll get a good understanding of what’s to come in Warlords of Draenor and the direction we’re working toward. As always, keep in mind that any of this information could change over the course of the testing process. We look forward to seeing your constructive feedback!

Heroes of the Storm Tech Alpha Coming Soon!

Some great news from Blizzard last night. Heroes of the Storm will soon be going into Technical Alpha. Check out the full details here

Quote from: Blizzard
We’ve been hard at work on Heroes of the Storm since you last got your hands on the game at BlizzCon 2013 and we’re gearing up to invite a very limited number of players to join us in an initial phase of infrastructure and technology testing that we’re calling the Technical Alpha. In the meantime, there are a few important details that everyone may want to keep in mind as we prepare to enter this very early Alpha testing stage.

What does Technical Alpha mean, anyway?

While Heroes of the Storm is playable and much of the core experience is present, it’s still very much in the early stages of development. Work is ongoing and we’re far from considering the game in a polished or finalized state, but after a period of extensive internal testing, we’re ready to crack open the Nexus for the very first time and invite some players to step inside.

This initial testing phase is intended to help us better examine how our infrastructure and tech will function across a much broader spectrum of machines and connection types. What’s more, inviting external Alpha testers will allow us to take a closer look at our hardware needs so that we can be absolutely sure we’re able to support the entire Heroes population as the community grows.

Since we’re focusing on our support systems for Heroes of the Storm right now, we’ve dubbed this testing phase the “Technical Alpha” or Tech Alpha, for short.

Once again, we’d like to remind you that Heroes is still a work in progress. Please keep in mind that invitees may encounter bugs and game features that are not yet implemented, as well as temporary sounds, user interface elements, and graphics. We will continue to iterate on Heroes of the Storm throughout each testing phase, so don’t be surprised if you see many aspects of the game start to level-up in the weeks and months that lie ahead.

Who’s invited?

We’re going to kick off this initial Tech Alpha phase with a very limited number of participants and continue to expand the pool of invited players as our testing needs evolve and grow over time.

Since our current focus is set on determining how we can further develop our tech to serve a growing population, Alpha access will be limited to players in the United States. While we’re not quite sure when we’ll be ready to extend access to the rest of the world, we are going to invite a few international press sites and Blizzard community contributors so that players from all of our global communities can keep up with the latest Heroes developments. Please know that we’re working hard to ensure the Heroes experience will be great for all of our players before we expand access to additional regions in the future.

So, how do I get in?

Contrary to popular belief, surrounding yourself with lit candles and shouting “Tech Alpha” into the mirror three times will not grant Alpha access, but it may amuse your family members. No, the only way into the Nexus is through an official email invitation from Blizzard Entertainment.

In order to give yourself the best chance at gaining access to testing in the future, you’ll want to make sure you’ve opted in to Heroes of the Storm testing using the Beta Profile page found within your Battle.net Account. When prompted, you’ll need to download and run the System Check tool in order to attach your computer’s specifications to your profile and then check the Heroes of the Storm opt-in box, as pictured below.

As always, be extra mindful of shady characters who wish to steal your login credentials through phishing attempts, which are often disguised by falsified emails and websites. What’s more, Alpha keys are not necessary and are not being given out during this testing phase. Please be warned that any key generators or other offers for a Tech Alpha key are most certainly suspicious.

The best way to ensure an invite is the real deal is to avoid clicking any links. Instead, log in to your Battle.net account and check the Summary section to see if a Heroes of the Storm license has been added to your account.

As mentioned previously, however, this initial testing phase will include a very limited pool of players. While a few participants may be selected from opt-ins during this time, we will likely wait until the closed beta phase before we begin granting access to a larger number of players who have opted in via Battle.net.

When can I share Tech Alpha content?

As mentioned previously, we’ve been testing Heroes of the Storm internally for some time now and, over the past few days, you may have seen a few forum threads and conversations spring up from players who managed to access an early version of this client through various means. While you should feel free to discuss the content you’ve seen thus far, we’d like to remind you that accessing and posting these files is a violation of the Battle.net End User License. As such, we’re kindly requesting that you refrain from streaming or posting videos of the Heroes of the Storm client until we begin sending out Tech Alpha invites.

Once the Tech Alpha arrives, there will be no NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), which means that you’ll likely begin to see many new Heroes of the Storm streams, screenshots, blogs, and more once we start sending out invitations. If you do receive an invitation to the Tech Alpha, we want you to know that it’s totally fine to share your thoughts about the game with others through any medium you please at that time.

We’ll be adding a ton of content to Heroes of the Storm in the coming months and hope you’re as excited as we are to embark on this journey together. Stay tuned, because we’ll have plenty more details about Heroes to share with you soon! In the meantime, you can check out our Frequently Asked Questions blog if you’d like more information.

WoD Updated Racials Explained

Blizzard came out with a forum post tonight about the plans for the racials in detail. Remember these can be changed!

Quote from: Blizzard

Blood Elf

  • Arcane Acuity is a new racial passive ability that increases Critical Strike chance by 1%.
  • Arcane Torrent now restores 20 Runic Power for Death Knights (up from 15 Runic Power), 1 Holy Power for Paladins, or 3% of Mana for Mage, Priest, Warlocks (up from 2% of Mana). Other aspects of the ability remain unchanged.

Draenei

  • Heroic Presence has been redesigned. It no longer increases Hit by 1%, and instead increases Strength, Agility, and Intellect, scaling with character level.
  • Gift of the Naaru now heals for the same amount over 5 seconds (down from 15 seconds).

Dwarf

  • Crack Shot has been removed (was 1% Expertise with ranged weapons).
  • Mace Specialization (was 1% Expertise with maces) has been replaced with Might of the Mountain.
  • Might of the Mountain is a new racial passive ability that increases Critical Strike bonus damage and healing dealt by 2%.
  • Stoneform now also removes magic and curse effects in addition to poison, disease, and bleed effects, along with reducing damage taken by 10% for 8 seconds. It remains unusable while CC’d.

Gnome

  • Expansive Mind now increases maximum Mana, Energy, Rage, and Runic Power by 5% instead of only increasing maximum Mana.
  • Escape Artist’s cooldown has been reduced to 1 minute (down from 1.5 minutes).
  • Shortblade Specialization (was 1% Expertise with one-handed swords and daggers) has been replaced with Nimble Fingers.
  • Nimble Fingers is a new racial passive ability that increases Haste by 1%.

Goblin

  • Time is Money now grants a 1% increase to Haste (up from only attack speed and spell haste).

Human

  • Mace Specialization has been removed (was 1% Expertise with maces).
  • Sword Specialization has been removed (was 1% Expertise with swords).
  • The Human Spirit has been redesigned. It no longer increases Spirit by 3%, and instead now increases two secondary stats by an amount scaling with character level. You can choose which two secondary stats it increases. This has not yet been implemented.

Night Elf

  • Quickness now also increases movement speed by 2% in addition to increasing Dodge chance by 2%.
  • Touch of Elune is a new passive ability which increases Haste by 1% at night, and Critical Strike Chance by 1% during the day.

Orc

  • Axe Specialization has been removed (was 1% Expertise with axes).
  • Hardiness now reduces the duration of Stun effects by 10% (down from 15%).

Tauren

  • Brawn is a new racial passive ability that increases Critical Strike bonus damage and healing done by 2%.
  • Endurance now increases Stamina by an amount scaling with character level, instead of increasing Base Health by 5%.

Troll

  • Berserking now increases Haste by 15% (down from 20%).
  • Beast Slaying now increases XP earned from killing Beasts by 20% instead of increasing damage dealt versus Beasts by 5%.
  • Dead Eye has been removed (was 1% Expertise with ranged weapons).

Undead

  • Will of the Forsaken’s cooldown has been increased to 3 minutes (up from 2 minutes).

Celestalon also cleared some questions up about Every Man For Himself and Berserking/Blood Fury

Quote from: Celestalon
Unlike the other racials that provide some type of CC-dispel, Every Man For Himself actually replaces a CC-Break PvP trinket; it isn’t in addition to it. So what you gain with EMFH is actually a trinket slot. Thus its power is very much related to what trinkets there are available. We’re still determining our plan for PvP trinket itemization, so haven’t decided on what to do with EMFH quite yet. It’s quite strong, and we agree that it looks unfair from those patch notes; we just haven’t decided what to do with it yet. So, don’t take that list as a statement that EMFH won’t be changing somehow.
Quote from: Celestalon
Regarding Berserking and Blood Fury, also remember that we’re reducing the amount of cooldown stacking in the game, and more importantly, removing DoT snapshotting. That is effectively a significant nerf to Berserking and Blood Fury, since you’ll no longer be able to extend their benefit long past their intended duration. We expect that these changes will bring Trolls and Orcs in line with other races (but not underpowered, either).

Regarding Touch of Elune, we’re making all secondary stats useful to everyone (aside from Spirit for non-healers and Bonus Armor for non-tanks), and more closely balancing their value. As others have pointed out, there are no more haste breakpoints, so this doesn’t imply any gear changes should be made based on time of day.

Additionally, we do still want there to be some difference and choice between the racial abilities, which does mean that players who want to min/max to that degree may still find more value in another race. We don’t feel the difference, even in a worst case scenario, is going to be large enough that someone who wants to play a Night Elf should feel like they’re making the wrong choice, but players who are only interested in what they feel are the best racials for their class or spec will have other race options available.

More Honor from Battlegrounds Coming in Hotfix

Community Manager Lore posted a forum post last night announcing increases in honor gain for battlegrounds in an upcoming hotfix. If you’d still like to get into PvP now that’s great news! Check what he said below.

Quote from: Lore
We’ve recently taken another look at the rate of Honor gains in various Battlegrounds, and have concluded that current Honor gains in several Battlegrounds are currently too low. To that end, we’ll be making several changes to the way that Honor bonuses are rewarded in those battlegrounds, as follows:

In Arathi Basin, Battle for Gilneas, and Eye of the Storm, we’ll be increasing the frequency at which you’ll be rewarded bonus Honor based on the points your team has earned. Currently, you earn bonus Honor every 260 points (or 200 if that battleground is the current Call to Arms) in these battlegrounds. As a part of this adjustment, we’re going to lower the number to 130 (or 100 during Call to Arms).

We’re also making a similar change to Silvershard Mines. Currently bonus Honor is earned for every 265 points (or every 160 if Silvershard is the current Call to Arms). After the change, you’ll earn bonus Honor every 200 points (or 130 during Call to Arms).

Warsong Gulch and Twin Peaks are getting a slightly different treatment. Because these matches tend to take longer than the above Battlegrounds (which directly effects the rate at which you earn Honor from playing them) we wanted to make some changes to speed them up a bit. To do this we’re going to apply the Focused Assault debuff 1 minute after both flags have been picked up, which is 2 minutes earlier than it does currently. Once it’s begun to apply, it will continue to increase at the current rate of 1 stack every minute. On top of that, we’re adding a new bonus at the end of the match: For every flag you prevent the opposing team from capturing (so, every flag under 3), you’ll earn 18 extra Honor.

Lastly, in Strand of the Ancients, we’re doubling the bonus a team earns for destroying a gate (or preventing it from being destroyed).

These hotfixes are currently in production, and will be applied as soon as they are ready. We’ll have an update in the official Hotfix blog once they’re active. We look forward to seeing you on the fields of battle!

Many Clarification Tweets On Class and System Changes

Last night after the Dev Water Cooler got posted many people had questions and a few developers were kind enough to reply to many of them. See a summary of the most important things below:

  • Humans lose the Mace/Sword racials. The Human Spirit becomes +X to two secondary stats of your choice. (Celestalon)
  • Draenei’s Heroic Presence is now +X to your primary stat. Gift of the Naaru heals for the same amount but over 5sec. (Celestalon)
  • Night Elves’ Quickness also increases movement speed by 2% passively. They also got a new passive which is quite unique…(Remember, no more haste breakpoints!) Touch of Elune, a new passive which grants 1% Haste at night, 1% Crit during the day. (Celestalon)
  • Shadowmeld is unchanged. (Celestalon)
  • Gnomes’ Escape Artist dropped to a 1min CD (from 1.5min), and Shortblade Specialization became Nimble Fingers, 1% Haste. Also- A tweak to Expansive Mind. Was +5% max Mana. Now +5% Max Mana, Energy, Rage, or Runic Power. (Celestalon)
  • Darkflight is staying unchanged. (Celestalon)
  • Dwarves lost Crack Shot and Mae Specialization. Gained Might of the Mountain, a passive which adds 2% Crit Damage. Also.. A change to Stoneform: Also removes Magic/Curse. HOWEVER, it still cannot be used while CC’d. (It is still NOT a CC-break) (Celestalon)
  • Undead are seeing relatively few changes. Tweaks to the scaling rate of Touch of the Grave, and WotF to 3min CD (up from 2). (Celestalon)
  • They gain Arcane Acuity, a 1% crit passive. Arcane Torrent now restores 20RunicPower, or 1HoPo, or 3% Mana. (Celestalon)
  • Orcs were one of the outliers we brought down. Lost the Axe Specialization, and Hardiness is 10% Stun reduction (down from 15%). (Celestalon)
  • Blood Fury is unchanged. Every Man For Himself, we’re still evaluating. Itemization changes may mean no nerf needed. (Celestalon)
  • Tauren’s Endurance becomes +X Stamina. Brawn is a new passive which increases Crit Damage/Healing by 2%. (Celestalon)
  • In regard to Troll Berserking Reduced to 15% Haste (down from 20%). (Celestalon)
  • In regard to Worgens/Goblins Not much change. They were about at baseline. Time is Money becomes real 1% Haste, not just attack speed / cast speed. Subtle diff. (Celestalon)
  • Interrupts are staying. We think their gameplay is more interesting than blanket silences. (Holinka)
    • Interrupts still lockout the interrupted spell school for X sec. (Holinka)
    • We’d like to see people rotting and healers having to triage more. No one likes 100-0 gameplay. (Holinka)
  • We’re reducing crit damage done to players by 25% (i.e. crits do 150% damage against players). Damage will be more consistent. (Holinka)
  • In regard fear duration in PvP 6sec instead of 8sec. (Celestalon)
  • In regard to disarm duration reduction enchantments We’ll change the set bonuses but the weapon chains won’t be relevant anymore. (Holinka)
  • We’re keeping Bloodlust/Heroism as the only raid-wide throughput cooldown. No more Stormlash/SkullBanner. Time Warp, Ancient Hysteria stay. We count those all as the same thing, just different sources of the same buff. (Celestalon)
  • In regard to secondary stats Crit/Haste/Mastery/Readiness/Multistrike. We think 5 is enough for now. Will make sure none are terrible. (Celestalon)
  • Scatter Shot is gone. Traps arm and activate instantly. (Holinka)
  • Combustion is based on the damage of the Ignite, so will not dynamically change. (Celestalon)
  • Healadins had a whole bunch of cooldowns. Merged some of them together. (Celestalon)
  • Shadow Blades lost the roll of which Rogue cooldown to cut. (Celestalon)
  • We’re exploring an idea where Preparation becomes a passive. Details still being worked out. (Celestalon)
  • Tricks of the Trade no longer increases damage. Yay! (Celestalon)
  • Charge will become a root. Our stance was we liked that change, but 5.4.7 wasn’t the right time to do it. (Holinka)

Warlords of Draenor System Changes, General Class Changes And More!

Blizzard just came out with a new blog to discuss some general changes coming up in WoD. So check it out below!

Quote from: Blizzard
Development on World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is progressing well, and we’ll soon be ready to enter the first phases of public testing. To help prep you for battle, let’s break down some of the upcoming changes we’re making to stats, abilities, and crowd control for the expansion.

Stat Squish

Character progression is one of the hallmarks of any role-playing game, and naturally that means we’re always adding more power for players to acquire. After multiple expansions and content updates, we’ve reached a point where the numbers for health, damage, and other stats are so big they’re no longer easy for players to grasp. What’s more, a lot of power granularity is tied up in tiers of older content, from Molten Core to Dragon Soul—and while it was once necessary for your character’s power to spike up suddenly when you hit level 70, that’s not the case anymore.

In order to bring things down to a more understandable level, we’ll be reducing the scale of stats throughout the game and smoothing out those obsolete spikes, so that power scales linearly through questing content from levels 1 to 85. This applies to creatures, spells, abilities, consumables, gear . . . everything. And while that means your numbers for stats and damage are being reduced by a huge amount, the same goes for creatures’ health and damage output. For example, a Fireball that previously hit a creature for 450,000 out of his 3,000,000 health (15% of its health) may now hit that same creature for 30,000 out of its 200,000 health (still 15% of its health).

It’s important to understand that this isn’t a nerf—in effect, you’ll still be just as powerful, but the numbers that you see will be easier to comprehend. This also won’t reduce your ability to solo old content. In fact, to provide some additional peace of mind, we’re implementing further scaling of your power against lower-level targets so that earlier content will be even more accessible than it is now.

We’re also removing all base damage on player spells and abilities and adjusting attack power or spell power scaling as needed, making it so that all specializations will scale at the same rate.

Racial Traits

We want races to have fun and interesting perks, but if some of those traits are too powerful, players may feel compelled to play a specific race even if it’s not really the one they want to play. For example, Trolls’ Berserking ability was extremely powerful, and their Beast Slaying passive was either completely irrelevant or tremendously powerful, based on the situation, compared to other racial traits. On the other end of the spectrum, many races had few or no performance-affecting perks. On top of that, a number of racials that currently grant Hit or Expertise will soon need replacing, since those stats are being removed in Warlords of Draenor.

To keep racials more in line with one another, we’ve decided to bring down the couple high outliers, then establish a fair baseline and bring everyone else up to that. We’re accomplishing this by improving old passives, replacing obsolete ones, and adding a few new ones where necessary. Ultimately, our goal is to achieve much better parity among races.

Ability Pruning

Over the years, we’ve added significantly more new spells and abilities than we’ve removed, and the game’s complexity has steadily increased. We’re to the point now where players are starting to get overwhelmed, sometimes feeling like they need dozens of keybinds (in a few extreme cases, over a hundred). While the game is loaded with niche abilities that could theoretically be useful in some rare scenario, in reality, many of these are barely used at all—and in some cases, the game would simply be better off without them.

For Warlords of Draenor, we decided that we needed to pare down the number of abilities available to each class and spec in order to remove some of that unnecessary complexity. That means restricting some abilities to certain specs that really need them instead of being class-wide, and outright removing some other abilities. It also includes removing some Spellbook clutter, such as passives that we can merged with other passives or base abilities.

This doesn’t mean that we want to reduce the depth of gameplay or dumb things down. We still want players to face interesting decisions during combat, and we still want skill to matter . . . but we can achieve that without the needless complexity in the game now, and we can remove some of the game’s more convoluted mechanics while maintaining depth and skill variety.

One type of ability that we focused on removing is temporary power buffs (aka “cooldowns”). Removing these also helps achieve one of our other goals, which is to reduce the amount of cooldown stacking in the game. In cases where a class or spec has multiple cooldowns that typically end up getting used together (often in a single macro), we merged them, or removed some of them entirely.

The process of determining which spells and abilities to cut or change is a very complex one—we know that every ability feels vital to someone, and we don’t take this process lightly. Even if we ended up cutting your favorite ability, we hope you’ll understand why we did so in the context of our larger goals for the expansion. Ultimately, the point of these changes is to increase players’ ability to understand the game, not to reduce gameplay depth.

Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns

One other big takeaway from Mists of Pandaria is that there is currently simply too much crowd control (CC) in the game, especially when it comes to PvP. To address that, we knew that we needed an across-the-board disarmament. Here’s a summary of the player-cast CC changes:

  • Removed Silence effects from interrupts. Silence effects still exist, but are never attached to an interrupt.
  • Removed all Disarms.
  • Reduced the number of Diminishing Returns (DR) categories.
  • All Roots now share the same DR category.
    • Exception: Roots on Charge-type abilities have no DR category, but have a very short duration instead.
  • All Stuns now share the same DR category.
  • All Incapacitate (sometimes called “mesmerize”) effects now share the same DR category and have been merged with the Horror DR category.
  • Removed the ability to make cast-time CC spells instant with a cooldown.
  • Removed many CC spells entirely, and increased the cooldowns and restrictions on others.
    • Pet-cast CC is more limited, and in many cases has been removed.
    • Cyclone can now be dispelled by immunities and Mass Dispel.
    • PvP trinkets now grant immunity to reapplication of an effect from the same spell cast when they break abilities with persistent effects, like Solar Beam.
    • Long fears are now shorter in PvP due to the added benefit of a fear changing the players position.

Additionally, we’ve significantly reduced the number of throughput-increasing cooldowns and procs in order to further reduce burst damage.

Whether your favorite class is losing an ability or taking a hit to its CC potential, we hope this discussion helped you better understand why we’re making these changes. It’s important to remember that other classes will be getting some of their CC removed too. We think this entire package will make exploring Azeroth and PvPing a more enjoyable experience for everyone, and we’re looking forward to having you try them out when we open up the expansion for testing.

In the next Dev Watercooler, we’ll explore the changes coming to health and healing in Warlords of Draenor.