Wednesday, February 15, 2012

World of Warcraft: (2/15/2012) Mists of Pandaria Talents and Abilities Updated And Analyzed - Part One

A blue post has announced recently that the upcoming Mists of Pandaria talent calculator has been updated! Unfortunately, while it doesn't include the Monk talents or abilities quite yet (the expansion isn't even in the beta testing stages, so no big surprises there), there are many interesting changes worth mentioning. Therefore, this article will review the more notable updates I happened to catch; for a full list of changes I would recommend going here or  here. If you feel I should include or exclude some ability's change from the article, please point it out and I may update accordingly.

This part covers the first five classes. To go to part two, click here.

Death Knights
Vile Spew (replaces Corpse Explosion): Costs 30 Runic Power. Causes an undead minion to erupt in a shower of bile, dealing X Shadow damage to all enemies within 40 yards of the minion, and infecting them with Blood Plague and Frost Fever. 
I guess Blizzard didn't want Death Knights to rely on a corpse for their attacks. I kind of wanted Corpse Explosion, personally, but I can understand that for the sake of quality of life, this change is probably better. However, I highly doubt the 40 yard area of effect is accurate. That's CC-breaking madness just waiting to happen if so.
Unholy Blight (Replaces Outbreak): Surrounds the Death Knight with a vile swarm of unholy insects for 10 sec, stinging all enemies within 10 yards every 1 sec, infecting them with Blood Plague and Frost Fever. 1.5 minute cooldown.
This new Unholy Blight looks very interesting. Take note that Outbreak is also a level 81 ability in the Death Knight's spellbook, so this is no loss. However, I'm wondering how they will assist with disease dispel protection, since there appears to be little to none at the moment.
Icy Grip (Replaces Bone Shield): Reduces the cooldown of your Death Grip spell by 15 sec and causes your Death Grip to reduce the movement speed of the target by 50% for 6 sec.
 I think this will greatly help with the Death Knight's ability to close gaps with opponents in PvP. Bone Shield is again a Blood-exclusive ability, gotten at level 78, as well.
Death Pact (Now has no Runic Power cost): Drain vitality from an undead minion, healing the Death Knight for 50% of his maximum health and causing the minion to suffer damage equal to 50% of its maximum health. 2 minute cooldown.
I probably missed this in an earlier change, but I find it amazing that Death Pact no longer kills the ghoul. Great change for Unholy. In addition, thanks to some other sites (see above) that analyzed these talents, I now know this ability costs no Runic Power as well.
Soul Reaper (Level 87): Strikes an enemy for 50% weapon damage and afflicts the target with Soul Reaper. After 5 sec, if the target is below 35% health, this effect will deal 46,549 additional Shadow damage. If the enemy dies before this effect triggers, the Death Knight gains 50% haste for 5 sec. 6 second cooldown.
OMG. All DKs get to be the Lich King (even more so) now!

All joking aside, I think this ability is amazing. I'm unsure if this ability really has no cost or anything like that, but the mechanic is a bit unique in that it's an incredible win-win situation where you either do a load of damage or gain a huge haste bonus when the target reaches critical health. Another thing worth noting is this ability has no explicit requirement of use, so it can be used any time. Assuming the strike has no cost, this ability would be decent filler outside of execute range if by some off chance the DK ends up with open globals (this does rarely happen).

Feline Swiftness: Now increases movement speed by 15%, regardless of form.
I find this change to be rather interesting as it no longer punishes players for being in caster form (something that may be the case for a Restoration Druid). Seems like a good way to make the talent more accessible.
Displacer Beast: No longer has a fixed duration.
 Displacer Beast used to last 10 seconds after activation. It appears Blizzard decided to change this ability to behave more like a true "Vanish" style ability. Good escape for Druids.
Wild Charge: Seems to have effects based on even more forms and has a 15 second cooldown. Also moved from Tier 4 to Tier 1.
The addition of the cooldown seemed like a change that was going to happen anyways, to be honest, although I thought it had a cooldown to begin with. What I'm more surprised by is that Wild Charge affects OP Seal form. Is that even necessary?
Nature's Swiftness: Cooldown has been reduced to 1 minute and no longer affects Mass Entanglement.
The cooldown reduction is interesting and gives every spec a go-to cooldown to use that will be accessible often. I doubt it will end up being too overpowered, especially with the destruction of the talent synergy between it and Mass Entanglement, but it's too early to say.
Mass Entanglement: Roots a target and up to a maximum of five targets total. Lasts for 20 seconds and has no form requirements.
I feel like this ability got a lot more potent, although in PvP it will remain roughly the same in terms of strength.
Soul of the Forest: This ability adds different additional effects to several Druid forms as opposed to enhancing it as the previous talent did.
These effects seem very strong. I feel this design is elegant and gives each specialization a relatively solid cooldown without glorifying the shapeshift spells to the nth degree.
Incarnation: Cooldown of Growl is "removed" when used
It might help out Bear Tanks. Who knows? Considering Warriors can effectively get cooldown resets on their Taunt during a 2-tank fight as it is I guess this will begin bringing that design into line.
Disorienting Roar (Replaces Demoralizing Roar): Essentially the same ability without a form requirement.
Mighty Bash (Replaces Bear Hug): Same as the present day Bash except usable in all forms.
These abilities got more accessibility for all specialization by removing shapeshifting requirements, like some previous abilities.
Ursol's Vortex: Now can be cast at a targeted area.
I like this change because it gives a lot more control over where the Druid really wants people to go. This version of Ursol's Vortex allows for some fantastic tactics.
Dream of Cenarius (Replaces Master Shapeshifter): Wrath, Starfire, Starsurge, and melee abilities increase healing done by your next healing spell by 30%. Non-instant casts of Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increase the damage done by your next damaging spell or ability by 30%. Each of these bonuses lasts 30 sec and cannot be gained more often than once every 30 sec.
This gives some synergy between all three specializations in terms of access to the entire toolkit of abilities. It actually seems rather similar to Heart of the Wild in some ways, to be honest. In fact, I believe Master Shapeshifter had effects like Dream of Cenarius, but this iteration seems far more improved.
Bear Hug: This ability is now baseline (it stuns the target for 3 seconds and deals damage based on the Druid's health to them).
I have a feeling this might end up being a little overpowered, especially given the fact every talent specialization can also pick up Mighty Bash (assuming Mighty Bash doesn't replace Bear Hug).

Venom Tipped Arrows, Arcane Arrows, and Frozen Arrows: All these talents have been removed and all talent tiers below it have been pushed up by one tier each.
I'm actually a little unhappy that they removed these passive effects. I liked two of them, to be honest.
Glaive Toss: You hurl two glaives in front of you 30 yards, dealing 1,X damage to all enemies and reducing their movement speed by 50%. The Glaives will return back to you, also dealing damage and snaring targets they hit. If Glaive Toss hits at least 2 enemies in both directions, the cooldown is reset.
This definitely doesn't remind me of a specific hero from DotA at all. Aside from that, the ability looks rather cool and heavily skill based, although I wish the cooldown was listed because currently it's not specified at all. In addition, this ability seems to rely a lot on proximity and hitbox of the targets, almost like a Hunter's traps, which can tend to be unreliable sometimes. Too early to say whether this ability is good, bad, or average.
Power Shot: You wind up a powerful shot, dealing X damage to all targets in front of you within 20 yards (width). The damage done is increased on targets further away: 15-30 yards: Double damage, Stunned 1 sec. 30-50 yards: Triple damage, Stunned 2 sec.
Binding Shot: You fire a magical projectile, tethering the enemy and any other enemies within 10 yards to the landing arrow. Increases all damage they receive from you by 15%. If they move 15 yards from the arrow they are stunned for 10 sec (5 sec PvP). (30 yd range, Costs 20 focus, Instant)
I decided to pair these abilities together so I could state that both these abilities were derived from the same DotA hero.

For Power Shot, the ability seems really strong, especially given the enormous width of the effect. I think it might be too powerful in itself current state, even. I've actually been hoping Blizzard would attempt designs with forward style attacks such as this to see what would result.

Binding Shot seems even more powerful. It literally forces a group of enemies to stay in a specific area, allowing the Hunter to run circles around them. In PvE, assuming the AI attempts to escape, it's a free 10 second stun! In PvP, it's a losing scenario either way as well! I know Hunters needed some reliable utility, but this utility is TOO powerful for any class to have in their hands.
Lock and Load (Survival Passive): Now affects only one use of Explosive Shot and doubles the damage.
This will give Survival a lot more burst. To be honest, however, I have to ask whether this is necessary or not. It does give Survival more globals to work with, but is the burst damage over the top? Only time will tell.

Temporal Shield (Replaces Mana Shield): Costs 3% base mana, instant cast, 25 second cooldown. Envelops you in a temporal shield for 4 seconds. Damage taken while shielded will be undone over 6 seconds.
This is a pretty decent replacement for Mana Shield. It makes a bit of sense too, since Mana Shield was becoming a bit archaic in design, especially from the Arcane Mage standpoint (unless you specialized in Incanter's Absorption). The ability seems a little strong, however, in the sense that you can negate a huge amount of burst as there is no maximum value to the damage this shield can undo. I personally believe Temporal Shield is a dangerous mechanic as a result.
Blazing Speed: Changed to be an instant cast spell with a 25 second cooldown that increases movement speed by 150% for 1.5 seconds. Can only be activated after suffering more than 2% total health from a single spell or attack and can be used while casting. This ability is off the global cooldown.
This ability looks strong, yet underwhelming at the same time. The burst of speed that the mage can control is very nice, and the condition to activate it is far from being stringent at all. However, the duration seems rather pathetic in comparison to the cooldown. I guess it's to balance out the burst of speed from the ability.
Greater Invisibility: Now reduces damage while invisible and for 3 seconds after breaking invisibility by 90% in addition to its old effects.
I like the "shield wall" style effect added to this, although it's probably a tad powerful, even if it only really effectively lasts for 3 seconds.
Cauterize: Killing blows against the mage now instead bring the Mage to 50% health and deals 40% of their health in damage over 6 seconds. 2 minute cooldown.
This used to bring the mage to a health amount less than the damage they would suffer afterwards (at present this is the case on live). I guess Blizzard didn't want them wasting Ice Block to clear the debuff off. The cooldown increase is a good way to re-balance that fact.
Cold Snap: Also heals 20% maximum health to the caster.
Adds a (much needed) form of self healing to the Mage's arsenal if they so desire. Note that Cold Snap is a 3 minute cooldown in its current state as a MoP talent.
Arcane Bomb: Now deals 50% of the damage dealt to the target to an additional nearby target.
This gives Mages a bit of utility in 2-target situations, which have been occurring more and more lately. I believe the old version of this effect actually caused a lesser amount of area of effect damage.
Frost Bomb: Cooldown and countdown are modified by haste.
This is actually quite the buff that encourages Mages to use Haste if they want the slowing effect applied faster (something Frost Mages generally want to happen, for Fingers of Frost procs).
Invocation: Your Evocation no longer has a cooldown, but you no longer have any base mana regeneration. Completing an Evocate causes you to deal 20% increased spell damage for 30 seconds.
This is a very strong level 90 talent. To be honest, Evocation, at some point in time, probably should've had no cooldown, but after the addition of the glyph followed by the Arcane Mage's Mana Adept mastery, it seems to need a cooldown. The fact Invocation eliminates the cooldown has implications for what will happen to the glyph and Arcane Mage's mastery. The second effect is powerful as well, transforming Evocation into a very conspicuous major cooldown for damage output.
Rune of Power: 30 yard range, 1.5 second cast, 10 second cooldown. Places a Rune of Power on the ground for 1 minute. While standing in your rune of power, your mana regeneration is increased by 100% and your spell damage is increased by 15% 
This talent greatly reminds me of this item from Sunwell Plateau. I think it's somewhat fair since the player may need to move, preventing the player from just mindlessly turreting. The problem is that on high mobility fights this ability seems next to useless.
Incanter's Shield: 25 second cooldown. Absorbs damage, converting the damage into mana, up to a maximum of 30% of your maximum mana. Lasts 8 seconds. When your Incanter's Shield is destroyed, you gain 30% increased spell power for 15 seconds.
 This ability seems like a reversal of the Incantor's Absorption talent I mentioned earlier. It gives the Mage mana, spell power, and damage absorption all in one. To be honest, such a piece of utility screams "very powerful."
Arcane Charge (Arcane Passive): An Arcane Charge, generated by Arcane Blast and Arcane Missiles, and consumed by Arcane Barrage. Stacks up to 4 times.
This reiterated version of the current Arcane Mage mechanic still incorporates Arcane Blast's increasing damage and mana cost. However, it also increases the damage done by Arcane Missiles and Arcane Barrage (like in Wrath of the Lich  King). Hopefully, this new Arcane Charge mechanic will make the rotation a bit more interesting and especially make Arcane Missiles more of a usable proc rather than something that is left ignored at times.
Critical Mass (Fire Passive): Multiplies the critical strike chance of your Fireball, Frostfire Bolt, Pyroblast, and Scorch by 1.3.
I rather like this passive effect for the Fire spec. It reduces their reliance on crit and, potentially, RNG. It's no secret that Fire needs its spells to crit in order to proc Hot Streak and Ignite.

 Speed of Light: No longer heals nearby allies and only increases movement speed (by 70%).
If I recall correctly, Speed of Light actually was originally designed this way, then the healing component was added. Now it has been removed. It seems like a rather typical "Sprint" style ability.
Eternal Flame: 40 yard range, costs Holy Power, instant cast. Consumes all Holy Power to place a protective Holy flame on the target, which heals them for X per charge of Holy Power every 3 sec for 30 seconds. Can be active only on one target at a time.
I'm very glad to see Paladins finally getting a healing over time effect. However, it does raise a few inquiries and/or issues. Firstly, does this ability replace Word of Glory? Some talents replace existing abilities, but at the moment, I don't believe every such talent specifies that it replaces an ability. Secondly, is the long duration really necessary? It seems to last for a rather long time, in my opinion. I believe only Recuperate can rival the duration of this effect. Finally, this ability can only affect one target. I believe this is some sort of method to balance, but doesn't that just make the ability seem similar to Lifebloom (a very long, drawn-out Lifebloom) without a bloom heal?
Sacred Shield: Protects the target with a shield of Holy light for 30 sec, which increases the critical chance of your Word of Glory on the target by 30%. The shield also absorbs X damage when the target takes damage, but no more than once every 6 sec. Can be active only on one target at a time.
This ability is very interesting. Its design is rather similar to the old version of Sacred Shield back in Wrath of the Lich King. It looks like they're trying it again...and I don't really know what else to say about it.
Selfless Healer: Now reduces the cast time of your next Flash of Light by 50% each stack instead of decreasing the mana cost.
Reminds me largely of the old Wrath of the Lich King version of Art of War. I can see this passive having some usage unless the cost of Flash of Light is very high in the next expansion as well.
Hand of Purity: 7% base mana, 1 minute cooldown, instant cast, 30 yard range. Places a hand on the friendly target, reducing the damage of harmful periodic effects by 70% for 6 sec. Players may only have one Hand per Paladin on them at any one time
This ability seems pretty cool in my opinion. It gives Paladins a piece of utility that helps out classes that can't deal with damage over time effects well (Hunters, for instance).  The short duration prevents the ability from being too powerful as well (whether it's used for its actual purpose or as dispel protection, etc).
Unbreakable Spirit: When your Divine Shield, Divine Protection or Lay on Hands are on cooldown, spending Holy Power will reduce the remaining cooldown by 1% per Holy Power spent, up to a maximum of 50% reduction.
This seems like a rather powerful passive talent. However, since there are equivalent effects in existence already, I guess I can let it slide... It's not like it affects Avenging Wrath =).
Clemency: now also finishes the cooldown on Hand of Salvation.
Not exactly a big change, but I guess Clemency can come to the rescue of the overaggroing DPS (even though it's highly unlikely there will be a situation where so much usage of Hand of Salvation is needed, unless encounters are designed around threat again).
Holy Prism: 8% base mana, 20 second cooldown, instant cast, 40 yard range. Sends a beam of light toward a target, turning them into a prism of Holy energy. If an enemy is the prism, they take X damage and radiate Y healing to 5 nearby allies within 10 yards. If an ally is the prism, they are healed for H and radiate D Holy damage to 5 nearby enemies within 10 yards.
I have to admit this ability is rather creative in design and works well for all specs! I really hope this makes it to the beta so I can try it out!
Light's Hammer: 1 minute cooldown, instant, 30 yard range. Hurl a Light-infused hammer into the ground, where it will blast a 10 yard area with Holy magic for 15 sec. Allies within the area are are healed for X every 2 sec while enemies take X Holy damage every 2 sec.
This talent seems like a portable Holy Radiance banner-style ability. Helps your friends and hurts your enemies, making it a bit similar to the previous ability.
Execution Sentence/Stay of Execution: 1 minute cooldown, instant, 40 yard range. A hammer slowly falls from the sky, causing increased Holy damage or increased healing to the designated target (enemy and ally, respectively) for the next 10 seconds and culminating in a final burst of damage or healing
This ability looks really cool. It also fits into the theme of hurting your enemies and helping your allies. One thing worth noting is this ability might be better at dealing out or dealing with pressure than the other two because the effect strengthens over time.
Boundless Conviction (Passive, Level 85): You may store an additional 2 Holy Power beyond the maximum of 3. No ability ever consumes more than 3 Holy Power.
I personally think this sort of passive should have existed for a bit of time now. It's an extremely good addition for Paladins, who will never have to worry about overflowing on Holy Power now. It might have some implications for setting up strong burst, however.
Holy Insight (Holy Passive): increases your mana pool by 400%.
A friend of mine said this passive is actually overpowered. I can assure you it is not. This is because Holy Paladins will initially begin with a mana pool the size of that of Retribution or Protection Paladins. This passive brings the mana pool size up to par with other healers. The reason for this addition is because, according to this post, Intellect will no longer increase mana pool size.

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