So I decided to go ahead and do a series of posts over the next few days over the impact of the proposed Cataclysm class changes on all of us altoholics.
Because it was the first released, and also happens to be the class of my main, I'm going to start with the warlock. I'll direct everyone to MMO-Champion or wow.com, for the full text of the actual class change posts from Blizzard. For warlocks, there are a handful of items that I think are going to be especially impactful in terms of leveling:
"Voidwalker Torment will do increased damage and generate a lot of area-of-effect (AoE) threat. Suffering will become a single-target taunt." Obviously, any time your main leveling pet is doing a lot more damage and threat, that's only good news for the warlocks in the audience.
The changes to the soul shard mechanic will also obviously make things much easier for us leveling warlocks as things like healthstone, firestones, spellstones, soulstones and summoning our pets will no longer require the use of a shard. Our shards will give us another "Oh Shit" button that will help with faster summons if our demons get killed in combat and provide a number of other valuable buffs.
"Demonology will gain a new direct-damage spell, Demon Bolt. Demon Bolt will add a debuff that improves the damage done by the demon to the target." Not sure what level they're thinking of for this, but this is an obvious help to those who prefer to level demonology.
"Hellfire will no longer deal damage to the warlock." Just kind of slid that one in there - but this will give us another powerful AoE for those times when a few more mobs than we intended come running our way. Used to be, this didn't even get a place on the cast bar because of the self-damaging nature of it, but could see this getting a lot more use in leveling now.
"Curse of Agony and Curse of Doom will be converted into Bane of Agony and Bane of Doom. Bane spells are considered magic instead of curses. This means you will be able to cast one Bane (e.g. Bane of Agony) and one Curse (e.g. Curse of Elements) on a single target. " Hmmm...my leveling rotation just got a little bit more complicated. So now I'm going to apply a bane, apply a curse, set up corruption, immolate and then start spamming either incinerate or shadowbolt approximately an hour later. Not sure those curses are going to be getting applied other than in the most extreme scenarios.
So that's what caught my attention on warlocks.
For Shaman, I've been leveling mine as enhancement, so I'm particularly intrigued about Blizzards efforts to get this to be something other than lightning bolt spam at lower levels.
"Primal Strike (available at level 3): Primal Strike is a new weapon-based attack that every shaman will learn very early in the game. Our goal with this ability is to make leveling as Enhancement rather than as Elemental more viable, since many key Enhancement talents become available at fairly high levels. " Woo hoo! Maybe no more lightning bolt spam? We'll see how this works. I'd be even more enthused if they were making dual wield avaiable at lower levels, but we'll see how this works.
The other thing that caught my attention was:
"We want to free up Enhancement global cooldowns to make the spec more dynamic to play. We're considering, for example, increasing the cooldown of Lava Lash so shaman have time to work other interesting abilities into their rotation." That's sufficiently vague that all I can say is, gee Blizz...that'd be swell. Get back to me when you've actually got some detail. In general, increasing the cooldown of Lava Lash, all by itself, isn't getting me too terribly excited.
The primal strike piece has me very excited all by itself, so while there doesn't seem to be quite as much love for the leveling shaman, overall, in general, I'd still call it excellent news.
Last but not least, priests.
Because I generally level through questing and not instancing, I level my priests as Shadow, so that's really what I'm going to discuss here. Really only one thing in the whole list had me even remotely interested and that was the concept of shadow orbs:
"Shadow Orbs: Casting spells grants a chance for Shadow Orbs to be created that fly around you and increase your shadow damage. This will help lower-level characters feel more like "Shadow priests" before they obtain Shadowform. "
Now, this will apparently be attainable before Shadowform at level 40, but it's still the deepest thing down in the mastery area, so not sure how much earlier you'll be orbing it up.
There were also a couple of rather vague statements about shadow that sound interesting, but aren't really specific enough to be able to tell the impact on leveling at this point:
"We want to improve Shadow for short fights and reduce its susceptibility to school lockouts."
"Since the Shadow tree has a lot of passive damage-boosting abilities -- something we're trying to avoid in Cataclysm -- we will need to replace several of the tree's talents. One idea is to play off of the new Shadow Orbs mechanic (see Mastery section below), possibly allowing you to consume an orb to increase damage from Mind Blast or reduce Mind Spike's cast time."
I'll put these in the category of "sounds nice, but show me the money"
In general, we'll have to see how shadow orbs work out, but in general, not a lot of love for the leveling shadow priest at this point.
So that's it for the first three classes discussed. Tomorrow, I'll be talking about the changes to Death Knights and Rogues. Note I'm not going to be discussing warriors as that is the one class that I haven't leveled at all at this point, so I would have no idea what I was talking about.