Saturday, December 17, 2011

MoP feedback post, part 2.

I'm a bit late on this one, but I did write up a feedback post for the second revision of the talent calculator for Mists of Pandaria. This one still deals mostly with Frost, but I did give some opinion on the actual talent tree this time, as well.

This one is generating a (very small) amount of discussion, so it looks like I'm finally getting the ball rolling! You can find the post here:

And, below is a transcript of my post.


I have already posted once previously about my concerns with Frost Mage when the first talent calculator was released:

Now, I am posting again, obviously, to ask about some of my new concerns - both pertaining to Frost spec and to Mages in general.

A. About Frost...

I see that Fingers of Frost was added back into the talents; thank goodness, as this is sort of the key to making the spec fun.

However, what worries me now is the wording on Fingers of Frost: "Your freezing effects that fail due to target immunity now grant the Fingers of Frost effect." I don't think this is a good idea. The wording is a bit vague; however, I foresee two problems with this, based on the two different interpretations I can think of:

1. "Freezing Effects" means chilling/movement slowing effects related to Frost spells.

This would be really lame, since FoF seems to have a 100% proc rate. Our rotation would come down to (Something-Ice Lance-Something-Ice Lance) ad infinitum. If "Freezing Effects" really refers to Frost-related movement slows, it would be much more fun with a percentage chance to proc.

2. FoF truly doesn't proc unless you fail to Freeze something.

This means that the only way to proc FoF is to try and Freeze the target. For starters, the only spell in our spellbook that actually Freezes targets is Frost Nova, which I'd rather not use as an integral part of my DPS rotation - why even be RDPS if we have to get into melee range? Now, to be fair, I'm aware that the Water Elemental likely still has Freeze; but, I still think this takes a huge part of the fun out of playing Frost Mage.

I saw in a blue post "Seeing the forest for the talent trees", a short section about picking classes based on flavor, and Mages were specifically addressed:

"There will still be some utility in the various specs, but less than we have today. You should pick a spec because you like the rotation or the kit. Fire is about crit, Hot Streak, and Ignite. Frost is about Shatter combos and the Water Elemental. Arcane is about mana management and clearing Arcane Blast stacks."

For what it's worth, I don't believe that either of these are technically what make Frost fun. The Water Elemental could be all-but removed if the Freeze ability was given to us and was off the GCD. Water Elemental doesn't have the variety and versatility of Hunter/Warlock pets (a given, since we only have one pet), and it doesn't even have the types of utility spells granted by Enhancement Shaman's Spirit Wolves. Water Elemental is just free FoF procs every 25 seconds.

I also disagree about Shatter making Frost fun. It's not like, "Woo, I got some ballin' crits, rock on Frost!" (cue Joe Satriani's Summer Song) If Shatter weren't in the game, right now, Frost would still be fun - even if their DPS would be terrible without it - because Frost's fun comes from intelligently making split-second decisions on how to spend or conserve incoming procs of FoF+BF.

Thus, if Pet Freeze were really the only way to get FoF procs, there wouldn't be any randomness, and no need to make any quick decisions. We already know exactly when we're gonna get FoF - every 25 seconds! And, since Brain Freeze doesn't appear to be affected by FoF, and Deep Freeze doesn't appear to do damage anymore (I'm aware that it might still deal damage, and it just isn't reflected in the tooltip; but, just in case...), there's also no necessary decisions to conserve procs anymore, either. Got FoF? Use an Ice Lance, right now. Got BF? Use a Frostfire Bolt, right now.

I'm aware that there are additional talents available in the Level 45 Tier which Freeze targets; however, having FoF always come from a Freezing spell means that FoF essentially has a cooldown, and making it absolutely predictable when we're going to get FoF charges is the exact opposite of what makes Frost fun right now, in my opinion. Not to mention, this would essentially force us to spec for Ice Ward all the time. This seems to contradict the reasons for changing the talent system in the first place, as this definitely isn't a choice; as it stands, if there's a Freezing spell anywhere in the talent tree, we're likely to get it unless it requires melee range (and maybe even then; who knows?).

If the argument would be made that this is less important now, what with all of Frost's new spells...I disagree. Simply having more cooldowns to use is not fun, unless they are somehow meaningful. Right now, every spell in Frost's rotation has meaning. What place do Frozen Orb (which doesn't proc FoF) and Frost Bomb have in our spec right now? They don't generate FoF procs, and since raid bosses can virtually never be Frozen, they'll never benefit from Shatter, anyways. They are not fun based on my perspective of what makes Frost fun, nor is it based on Ghostcrawler's! They're nothing more than additional cooldowns based on spells from another spec, serving only to homogenize all three (although I can at least see why Arcane Orb/Bomb are attractive, since you can increase their damage with Arcane Blast).

3. Frost Bomb

Will Frost Bomb even be better than Living Bomb for Frost? The damage is 1/4th of Living/Arcane Bomb's damage, and Living Bomb can be cast on three targets at once. That means we need four targets to Living Bomb's one target to do comparable damage with it. I realize this can combo with Shatter, but does that mean that Frost Bomb is going to suck without having a Freeze ready? Are we going to have to pull the reins on our single target DPS to do more AoE? Also, it's not unreasonable in AoE situations to have adds that could die in five seconds. Ten seconds, easily. That means we'd probably only get off one Frost Bomb, and maybe even zero if we're unlucky. Living Bomb just sounds more reliable and easier to use without having to curtail our DPS.

4. And now for something completely different:

Icy Veins. Still not a DPS cooldown that rewards us for playing the spec "properly", a la Combustion and Arcane Power. Any thoughts on changing this?

Those are my Frost-specific concerns. But, now...

B. Meaningful Decisions:

In a Mists of Pandaria FAQ that came out during Blizzcon, this was the reason given for the talent system overhaul:

"As with the talent-system redesign in Cataclysm, our goal is ultimately to give players more meaningful character-customization options and to eliminate “cookie-cutter” talent builds. We were only partially successful in realizing that goal in Cataclysm, as many talents still felt mandatory to a given specialization, and some talent choices in the trees were still not particularly interesting or exciting. By giving the benefits of the previously “mandatory” talents to players automatically as part of their specialization choice, and allowing any specialization to choose any given talent, we hope to be able to give players much more significant and interesting decisions to make about their character."

Right now, I still feel like there's some no-brainer decisions in our current talent tree. Let's go over it real quick:

Level 15: No problems. Heavy movement makes Scorch attractive, and low movement makes Presence of Mind attractive. Ice Flows is somewhere in-between the two.

Level 30: No problems. I honestly can think of a lot of fights this expansion where I would have taken Blazing Speed over Mana Shield or Ice Barrier (Atramedes, Ascendent Council, Al'Akir, Ragnaros, Blackhorn), so I'm not really sure why people don't like this option here. Mana Shield has its uses in PvP, but could possibly be made more attractive for PvE - maybe roll in the Incanter's Absorption talent as part of its ability?

Level 45: My main problem here is that Frost PvE is pretty much locked to Ice Ward. The argument could be made that Frostjaw gives us an additional interrupt; but, if we're going to sacrifice DPS for an interrupt (that is, getting 1 FoF charge instead of potentially getting 2, not 'wasting' a global where I could be doing damage), I'm pretty sure the rest of the raid can pick up my "second" interrupt after Counterspell. Otherwise, I can see this tier is being an interesting one for Fire and Arcane.

Level 60: No problems. Greater Invisibility sounds great, and Invisibility was really strong on certain fights (Atramedes if you were running during air phase, Chimaeron P2). Cold Snap's mana regen makes it sound pretty sexy, not to mention I won't have to use it at the start of a fight as Frost - maybe now I can actually use two Ice Blocks! Cauterize is obviously good, and I don't think it's quite the no-brainer that other people do. You can't use Cauterize as a crutch, since it has a 2 minute internal cooldown (that's maybe three times in a raid boss?). And, if a Mage is banking that hard on Cauterize, there might be a bigger underlying problem.

Level 75: I've never thought that Heavy Polymorph was interesting, even in Arcane. I know no Arcane Mages who ever pick it up in PvE, and people who trinket out of Polymorph in PvP aren't affected by the stun. Looking at it that way, we'd need to cast two Polymorphs in PvP, giving us a ranged stun with a 3.4 second base cast. Maybe other people feel differently; but, I've never found anything useful or fun about this talent.

Level 90: I don't see any meaningful decision to be made here at all. I can't imagine an Arcane Mage ever picking up Living Bomb or Frost Bomb when they could be doing more damage with Arcane Bomb. The same is true for Fire; why get a "Bomb" that doesn't synergize with our spec?

I also am not convinced anyone would take Frost Bomb - not even a Frost Mage, either, for the reasons I stated earlier. I don't believe that anyone who PvPs would use Frost Bomb, either. It's an extremely delayed movement slow, and I would be willing to bet that it's more trouble than it's worth to try and plan your battle strategy around getting in range to be hit with spells/Charged/Death Gripped/Shadow Stepped/Wolf Stunned/etc. and waiting four seconds. For a movement slow.

1 comment:

  1. Level 45 - Having an interrupt AVAILABLE, though, is an amazing option. Think of it more for Heroics, where you get into a group in Well of Eternity with a Warlock, a BM Hunter, and a Shadow Priest, and no one can interrupt Azshara. I think it's more for these situations than raid ones.

    I don't know enough about the other talents to really comment, but you have to remember that the ability to switch the talents on the fly is what is going to make them key. Like, who would ever take Frost Bomb as Fire? Well, maybe in a situation like Bethtilac where you need to slow a mass group of adds. Where as seconds earlier, on Beth trash, you used Living Bomb like you normally would.

    The new talent systems are very much less "do I bring a longsword or a longbow" and more "which arrow in my quiver do I use?", IMO.