Tuesday, January 31, 2012

World of Warcraft: Patch 4.3.2 Is Out! My Thoughts On It

The final patch of Cataclysm is upon us. It mostly introduces some bug and quality of life fixes to several classes and the current content that hotfixes following 4.3 didn’t cover, as well as a new feature for players who actively use Real ID! In this article I will go over each section of the patch notes (and some other announced features) individually and analyze the implications of the changes. Without further ado, let’s begin!

The Patch Notes
Classes: General
  • Vengeance is no longer triggered by receiving damage from other players.
This change is a PvP nerf to Tanks. With the previous changes to Vengeance in 4.3, Vengeance was stacking rather fast, making Tanks dangerous opponents in PvP if not dealt with properly.
  • The Tier 13 Balance Druid 4-piece bonus now also increases the damage of Starsurge by 10%, in addition to its current effect.
The change to Balance Tier 13 is a buff to Balance Druids that’s actually rather appropriate considering it affected Starsurge’s cooldown already.
  • Aspect of the Hawk now grants roughly 35% more attack power.
  • Deterrence now also reduces damage taken by 30% while active.
  • Black Arrow now ticks every 2 seconds for 20 seconds, as opposed to every 3 seconds for 15 seconds. The total damage dealt by the ability is unchanged.
  • Lock and Load no longer benefits Arcane Shot, nor is it consumed by Arcane Shot.
Hunters get an overall damage increase. Personally, I’m more of a fan of a scaling Aspect effect as opposed to the constant increase to a static value that could have severe repercussions, making Hunters too strong leveling up and in the early endgame. 2700 AP is just a bit silly...

The Deterrence buff was rather unexpected. I never thought they would add a damage reduction effect to help with damage-over-time effects (and other effects that ignore Deterrence), something that’s been a rather bothersome issue for Hunters.

The Black Arrow change is definitely a buff, bringing the ability in line with Explosive Trap in terms of how often it ticks. This increases the overall chance of Black Arrow proccing Lock and Load.

On that note, Lock and Load got a change too. The fact that the buff now excludes Arcane Shot is actually very beneficial, making Explosive Shot weaving much easier without Focus capping much easier (and Kill Command-less!).

Overall, while statistically, Hunters aren’t exactly common in endgame progression and some changes (such as to Lock and Load and to Black Arrow) were completely necessary, I am rather concerned Hunters are receiving a buff despite the fact Tier 13 introduced strong set effects and Hunters were already buffed in 4.3.
  • Fireball damage has been reduced by roughly 6%.
  • Pyroblast initial damage has been reduced by roughly 6%. Damage over time is unchanged.
Personally, I felt Fire Mages did need a bit of a nerf, but beyond that it’s up to players who truly understand the Mage class to pass final judgment.
I’ve heard Holy Radiance was a pretty powerful ability for Holy Paladins that encompasses a majority of the raid healing, supposedly surpassing all other healers. This nerf is probably an additional nerf on top of the 4-piece set effect nerf.
  • Mass Dispel should again prefer dispelling targets that have magic effects that can be dispelled.
What can I say? The change is definitely necessary although I thought Mass Dispel mechanically behaved using an algorithm to prefer targets that have applicable effects to be dispelled.
I think this is fair, though Rogues probably need some sort of nerf. To be honest, I could think of a few other abilities (for a number of classes) that should also be removed from the global cooldown.
Dungeons & Raids
  • You can now form same-faction raids with Real ID friends, allowing you to enter Raid Finder in groups larger than 5, run older normal or heroic raids, or participate in Battlegrounds. You will not yet be able to run normal or heroic Dragon Soul with cross-realm raids of Real ID friends.
  • Several typo fixes and clarified descriptions have been added to the Dungeon Journal entries for Dragon Soul.
  • Players can no longer win multiple copies of the same item on a single Raid Finder boss kill. For example, a player who chooses Need on two set piece tokens or two weapons and wins the first, will not be eligible for the second on that particular boss.
The former change is a big one. It grants enormous accessibility to players friended by Real ID, practically destroying the cross realm barrier and allowing epic raids with friends as long as they’re on the same faction as you (excluding Dragon Soul). I hope Blizzard will do some further expansion on this in the future because cross realm pugs would be interesting, to say the least.

The second change just seems like a typical quality assurance fix. There’s nothing much to say about it.

The latter change is very helpful to players using the Raid Finder system. It is also why I didn’t explicitly mention in my guide to only Need on duplicate items one at a time since the issue is resolved with this patch. However, I wish Blizzard would put some sort of logic check to ensure players can’t roll on items they already own (especially tier tokens). Making some items unique or devising some sort of algorithm to prevent rolls on players who own those items (the purchased item for tier tokens in the case of tier tokens) already would help a lot in the long run.

Overall, I am quite satisfied with the general Dungeon/Raid changes introduced with this patch and hope Blizzard continues to improve the Raid Finder system as well as accessibility of content and the content itself.
Baradin Hold
  • The roaming Eyes of Occu'thar have been replaced by hateful creatures who serve Alizabal.
I’m surprised Alizabal’s trash wasn’t implemented immediately after Season 11 began, but it’s there now!
Dragon Soul
Yor’sahj the Unsleeping
  • The Shaman spell Unleash Life now properly only triggers Deep Corruption on its target. Previously, this affected both the caster and the target.
Warmaster Blackhorn
  • The visual warning for Twilight Elites' Blade Rush should be easier to see.
Spine of Deathwing
  • Burning Tendons health has been reduced by 15% in 10- and 25-player Heroic mode. This change eases the burst damage requirement to complete the encounter, which should allow players to make use of more varied raid compositions.
Madness of Deathwing
  • The Priest spell Leap of Faith is no longer usable while under the effect of Carrying Winds.

The first change is obviously a bug fix. Nothing to say there.

At the risk of sounding dumb about the second change, there was a visual warning? I just strafed around the time the Twilight Elites would begin to Blade Rush (though the effect is negligible on Raid Finder anyways, just annoying).

The change to Spine of Deathwing seems somewhat fair. The raid compositions (primarily for Heroic) seemed rather silly overall. I'm pretty sure this won't greatly change raid compositions, however, as using an optimal raid composition would make the encounter smoother.

The last change makes me sad. I wish I knew about that so that I could scare the crap out of people in Raid Finder.
  • Vial of Shadows damage (Lightning Strike) has been reduced to approximately one-third of previous damage. However, it will now trigger approximately 3 times as often. This is intended to keep overall DPS the same while reducing burst damage, especially in PvP.
I am very satisfied with this change. It reduces PvP burst without damaging PvE viability (in fact, the change to Vial of Shadows can be a “buff” in PvE). I am partially hoping Cunning of the Cruel will receive the same treatment…just maybe.

This change is pretty clear cut and seems to have been put into the patch notes at the last second. It helps Holy Priests make better use of Maw of the Dragonlord.

Other Noteable Changes

Parental Control Alerts

According to MMOChampion, there will be announcement messages indicating that Parental Controls will log the player off soon. As someone who was Parentally Controlled on my account before, this is very helpful, as abruptly going offline in a group is considered something of bad manners. This change has also been reflected in the patch notes.

Mature Language Filter Fix

Another change implemented in Patch 4.3.2 is a fix to configuration not properly saving certain options. The Mature Language filter staying on was the most noticed configuration issue that Blizzard promised to fix. Hopefully, some other configuration options, such as "Show All Debuffs on Enemy Target" also have been fixed.

IceSoulWell Radiance

Blizzard has announced that Dragon Soul will have a progressive “nerfing” effect added to it on the day Patch 4.3.2 launches. All enemies will have 5% less health and do 5% less damage. This effect stacks over time the longer this tier goes on for, likely reaching some sort of cap (35%?). Hellscream’s Warsong/Strength of Wrynn much?

Although some players disagree with the implementation of this effect, there are a couple reasons I actually prefer this method of “nerfing” the content. Firstly, this debuff is completely optional – a group can just shut off the Power of the Aspects effect if they really want to run the raid at full power. Secondly, the raid is highly likely to get nerfed (perhaps not this soon) as previous trends with Tier 11 and Tier 12 have shown and said nerfs were not optional at all; guilds couldn’t brag about completing a certain raid before it got nerfed, but they can definitely obtain bragging rights in the case of the Power of the Aspects implementation.

(On another random note, at least Blizzard didn’t have to implement a Sunwell Radiance/Chill of the Throne effect to deal with out of control avoidance scaling.)

The 64-bit Client?

I don’t know if this is necessarily true, but Patch 4.3.2 may also introduce the 64-bit client. Though I may be somewhat tech-savvy, I’m not knowledgeable on the difference between this client and the 32-bit client. After some research, I discovered the 64-bit client may help the performance of computers that have an enormous amount of RAM (my laptop, for instance, has 6 GB RAM, but according to the article is currently using only 4 GB RAM with the 32-bit client). Then again, it may end up being like this...

Happy WoWing! I know I'm going to enjoy continuing to play WoW!

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