Tuesday, March 6, 2012

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Stat Revamp

Each expansion has thus far introduced new stats, changed existing ones, or completely removed them. To my recollection, such changes were only formally announced prior to an expansion once, and that was before Cataclysm. With a new expansion on the horizon, new changes to stats have been announced. In this article I will analyze each announced change to the stats and the impact of it on WoW.

Spell Resistance
Spell resistance is gone. There are no buffs that improve it and there shouldn’t be much, if any, spell resist gear left. We always thought the system was hard to understand and we weren’t getting much gameplay out of it. Now taking a step back, we can imagine how to develop a game where you’d want various forms of resist gear for certain situations and opponents. Resist gear could potentially be interesting, but it isn’t currently in World of Warcraft -- the game has just been moving away from that sort of thing for years.
To be honest I do agree with this change. On the side of PvE, the existence of resistances actually made encounter balance a bit difficult. Spell damage had to be higher (or impossible to resist) in order to compensate, resulting in scenarios where people can unfairly die to RNG (like on Heroic Zon’ozz, during the Black Blood phase).

On the side of PvP, I think this change is practically necessary because the need to use Spell Penetration, especially for classes/specializations that have to gem it, was a bit frustrating. With the removal of the need for Spell Penetration, class and specialization scaling may be easier to analyze and hopefully balance will be improved.

I am wondering, however, about what will happen to resist gear and encounters that emphasize heavy spell damage as a result.
Hit and Expertise

The changes for Hit and Expertise are pretty major. Let us go through these changes a bit at a time.
We still think having stats that can be capped is a good game design. Rather than focusing solely on stacking your best stat, you have to decide how valuable it is to hit your target before you go back to stacking your best stat. However, we are making some changes.
I’m not really sure what to make of this. Does that mean hit and expertise will be “devalued,” perhaps? I guess it’s too early to say for sure.
-Hit and spell hit will no longer be separate stats. The hit stat negates melee miss and spell miss.
I’ve actually seen people criticize the blue poster for being ignorant, claiming that hit and spell hit are essentially the same stat (Hit Rating) and thus the above statement makes no sense. However, while this is true to a degree, the chance to hit with melee/ranged and spells scale at different rates, meaning that at the same hit rating, one’s spell hit chance and one’s melee/ranged hit chance will be completely different.
-Expertise will negate dodge and spell miss, then parry.
Although this sort of doesn’t make sense at first glance, think about it this way: it gives hybrid classes like Rogues  and (Enhancement) Shamans a much easier time getting to the “hit cap” and casters may have another option for stats (although it is rather doubtful – this probably just benefits classes that do both physical and spell damage).
-Expertise will be listed as a percentage, just like hit, instead of having an intermediary stat.
-We are normalizing hit with expertise, so that 1% of each stat will require the same amount of rating.
-We are normalizing melee and spell hit, so that spell hit is equal to miss plus dodge.
-Against an equal level creature: 6% spell miss, 3% melee miss, 3% dodge, 3% parry (from the front only), 3% block (from the front only).
-Against a +1 level creature: 9% spell miss, 4.5% melee miss, 4.5% dodge, 4.5% parry (from the front only), 4.5% Block (from the front only).
-Against a +2 level creature: 12% spell miss, 6% melee miss, 6% dodge, 6% parry (from the front only), 6% Block (from the front only).
-Against a +3/boss level creature: 15% spell miss, 7.5% melee miss, 7.5% dodge, 7.5% parry (from the front only), 7.5% block (from the front only).
I grouped these parts because it makes more sense to analyze all this together. What the above means, in short, that the total amount of hit and expertise rating that every class will need is the same. This will hopefully allow Blizzard to control scaling better because the field will be even in terms of rating requirements to hit targets (which isn’t the case at the present). This might be homogenization, which player tend to complain about, but this is one I fully agree with.
-Ranged attacks will be able to be dodged. Hunters will benefit from expertise and will have it on their gear, which will also allow hunters and Enhancement shaman to share gear more easily.
This is another statement further cementing the above theory. As a person who plays a Hunter primarily, I don’t mind this, even though it does mean I’ll have to focus on another stat. Besides, it makes complete sense to dodge shots (maybe not gunshots, but…).


Block mechanics have received a few changes too, hinting at what Blizzard has in store for tanks.
-The chance to block will be handled by a separate combat roll for each attack that is not avoided. In other words, we first determine if an attack misses, or is dodged or parried. If it is not, then the attack has a chance to be blocked.
While I do like this change because it won’t cause avoidance overflow, this does effectively devalue block as avoidance increases (in a way somewhat similar to Blood DK’s mastery, although that problem has been lessened somewhat).
-This gives block a consistent value, regardless of avoidance. Currently block becomes more valuable the more you have.
This is essentially true. I could almost claim it works like Wrath of the Lich King’s Armor Penetration, except with mitigation. At a certain point, you could block almost every incoming attack. Regardless, the change does make blocking a bit more like the other two (non-shield) tank mechanics.
-Block will also have diminishing returns, much like dodge and parry. This doesn’t mean that the value of block will go down as you get more block. It means that it won’t go up by as much when you get more block.
I guess there’s not going to be too much mastery stacking. To be honest it is sort of fair.
-We don’t expect Protection warriors or paladins to get “block capped” other than during temporary effects, such as mastery procs on trinkets. Block tanks will be balanced around this change. Our intent is to make playing block tanks more fun, not to nerf them.
I really hope so. I would like to see a few minor gameplay changes, perhaps, but also some other potential avenues for mitigation (like consistent passive mitigation, etc).
-Also notice how Shield Block and Shield of the Righteous have changed in Mists.
I actually didn’t check for this, but after doing so, here are the refined tooltips (as of this post):
  • Shield of the Righteous: Deals Holy damage and causes you to block the next attack. In addition, increases the amount your shield blocks by 25% for 6 seconds (Notice that Holy Shield has been removed too!).
  • Shield Block: 60 Rage, 1.5 second cooldown. Blocks the next attack against you and increases the amount your shield blocks by 25% for 6 seconds
Hopefully they don’t put any Shear mechanics into the game again. Otherwise, I do like their ideas for active mitigation (and to be honest, I actually was thinking of suggesting that Shield of the Righteous is an active mitigation ability).


The critical damage system has changed a bit for the better.
-All spells and abilities will crit for double damage, baseline. There are a few exceptions where crits can get larger, but the default is x 2.0 for everyone.
This should’ve really happened when the “healing criticals healing for x2” change occurred. However, I guess I can say it’s better late than never.
-This means that Enhancement shaman spells and rogue poisons will crit for double damage. Rogue poisons will also use the melee hit chance.
Other abilities that are included are Serpent Sting and damage-over-time traps outside of the Survival specialization for Hunters and all damaging Druid spells cast in Feral and Restoration, among others.

Resilience PvP Stat Changes

Here’s what I think is the major change (that has sparked some heated discussion). Let’s dive right in to see how Resilience is changed.
-We are renaming this stat to “Defense (PvP)” or possibly “PvP Defense.” All players will have 30% base Defense, the same way all characters have some base Stamina.
I actually really like the general idea of giving base damage reduction. It means that it’s much easier to access lower-tier PvP (like Battlegrounds) with no PvP gear, although it may be a little difficult to harm other players. I think it would also make lower level PvP less of a burst-fest.
-PvP gear will have Defense on it, as well as a new stat, “Power (PvP).” Power increases the damage you do to other players as well as the healing you do to other players in PvP situations.
-If you have a lot of Power, you’ll do more damage to other players, but they likely have Defense as well. If you fight players in lots of PvE gear, they’ll take more damage. Likewise, a player in PvE gear won’t have enough Power to effectively penetrate your Defense.
I like the implementation of “Power” as well. It essentially serves to eliminate players who use PvE gear in PvP, which has been an especially large issue as of late with items like Vial of Shadows, Cunning of the Cruel, and specific tier equipment. I guess it could also arguably be a nerf to Humans because their racial allows them to use a PvE trinket for higher damage, but now Defense/Power will likely be more important, meaning Humans will likely end up using two PvP-oriented trinkets (although it will still have some impact).
In addition, on the opposite side of things, these Power and Defense ratings will be useless in PvE, allowing for the beginning of true division between PvE and PvP where neither set of gear will conflict with the gameplay it was not designed for.
-The names PvP Power and PvP Defense may not be final, but we’re leaning towards going with stat names that are obviously PvP-related, rather than “fluffier” names that might not be as easy to grasp. We want it to be clear to players that neither Power nor Defense have any relevance when fighting creatures, such as in dungeons or raids.
I do hope the names are changed. This is one of the things I thought of when I originally saw “Power” and Defense.

Besides, WoW originally had Defense rating, so it could be confusing to people who come back.
-PvP gear will be lower in item level than PvE gear of an equivalent tier, however the Power and Defense stats will make sure that PvP gear is more powerful in PvP (both offensively and defensively) than PvE gear. In our budgeting system, the PvP stats will be free rather than causing other stats, such as Strength or haste, to be smaller as a result of including Power or Defense.
On the part of PvP gear having a lower item level than PvE gear of its equivalent tier, I definitively agree with it. This is because people have been “gaming” the dungeon finder requirements by using PvP gear (which currently has a higher item level than PvE gear of its equivalent tier). It won’t completely eliminate it, which I would prefer, but I’ll take what I can get.
On the latter part of Power and Defense being “free,” I’m unsure how well that will play out because then other “rating” stats would be on PvP gear, allowing for viable use in PvE. However, on the other hand, making them essentially the exclusive stats would make it difficult to get stat requirements such as hit and expertise, which can be very important in PvP situations.
-The goal of this change is to make it easier for a PvP player to participate in PvE, or for a PvE player to get started in PvP. Currently, we feel it is too large a barrier to go from one to the other, and the result has been that we see more and more players choosing to focus exclusively on only PvP or PvE. In earlier expansions, it was more feasible to use PvE gear in Arenas or -Battlegrounds until you acquired the more useful PvP gear. The same was true of being able to use your PvP gear in a dungeon or raid until you acquired something better. In Cataclysm, stepping into PvP with no PvP gear would result in a player being so ineffective that it was difficult to even make progress towards acquiring PvP gear.
I guess that philosophy is okay. To be honest, however, it seems like PvPers get the bigger piece of the pie on this since the PvP gear will actually have rating stats but PvEers entering PvP will have to fight against players with Power and Defense, which can make it something of an uphill climb that, to be honest, is likely steeper than a PvPer transitioning into PvE (but this will greatly depends on how strong PvP gear is in terms of “rating stats” and so on).
-For the higher-end of PvP or PvE (say Gladiators or heroic raiders), we believe those players will still gravitate towards the dedicated PvP or PvE gear. It is the players who are working towards those two end games that will benefit more from some cross over.
I’m really glad to read this because I personally do try to play towards both fronts of the endgame. I’ll probably still keep two (or more, depending on my character) sets of gear in my bags though, but it looks like there’s at least something of a definitive option for keeping a single set for both (most likely PvP).
-That’s a lot of information, and it probably sounds more set-in-stone than it really is. We’ll continue to iterate as players poke holes in our ideas, tell us what is working out and what isn’t, and finally get to experience it first hand in beta.
As of this posting, they do better iterate on the changes to PvP (and some other stats), but my points still stand.

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