Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Cataclysm Class Change Impacts on Leveling - Hunters, Druids and Mages

A post almost every day from Joar? What the heck? Is he trying to be a productive member of the blogging community or something?

This will cover my thoughts on the proposed changes impacts on the last three classes that have been released so far.

First - Hunters.

There are a number of changes here that I think are going to have a big impact on hunters. First, the removal of ammunition. This change is going to be extremely helpful, not because it was such a hassle constantly buying ammunition, but because of the bag space it is going to free up. One extra bag space just gives you that much more space for loot. The more you can carry while leveling, the more gold you will earn by selling it or auction housing it when you get back to town. Always a good thing.

The change to focus instead of mana will be a good thing at lower levels, particularly before level 20 when you would have picked up Aspect of the Viper to regenerate your mana while fighting. Not so much stopping and drinking up to level 20. After level 20, not having to switch back and forth between aspects is a nice touch, and should have the mobs going down faster as we won't be taking the periodic damage reduction that went with Aspect of the Viper.

Having the ability to hold three active pets will also be a huge benefit to those that like to do a little instancing or PvP while leveling. At least for me, I've always found that a tenacity pet worked best for leveling, but that I probably wanted a ferocity pet for instances and a cunning pet for PvP. Now, I can keep all three with me at once and switch back and forth to fit the situation. Huge plus.

Starting with the pet at level 1 seems like it would be a huge deal, but frankly, if it was bothering you that much for the 3-4 hours that it takes to get to level 10, you probably have different issues. It should in theory prevent leveling hunters from starting some annoying melee habits at low levels, but hopefully folks were getting over those habits in the remaining 150-200 or so hours it took to get the rest of the way to 80. Also, lots of neat sounding buffs to Beast Mastery talents that should help significantly. Strangely enough, unlike some of the other classes, these are all fairly detailed, so it's worth checking out the forum posts.

Next - Druids

There's different things in these updates for you depending on whether you level as Feral or Balance. Ghostcrawler hinted in a follow up post that one of the things they are considering is switching when you get Cat and Bear form. Getting cat form at level 10 would be a huge bonus to the folks that just like to level through questing, but would be an enormous problem for the folks looking to start bear tanking as soon as the Dungeon Finder tool becomes available. Not sure we'll end up actually seeing that one as a result.

"We will be buffing the damage of Mangle (cat) significantly so that when cat druids cannot Shred, they are not at such a damage-dealing loss." Leveling feral was never particularly difficult once you got mangle, but this is going to make it even better. Also, some talk in the updates about providing cats with an interrupt which will help immensely with those pesky caster mobs.

For folks leveling as balance, the new top level mastery bonus is changing the operation of Eclipse:
"Eclipse: We are moving Eclipse from a talent into a core mechanic of the class and making it less random. Balance druids will have a new UI element that shows a sun and a moon. Whenever they cast an Arcane spell, it will move the UI closer to the sun, and buff their Nature damage. Whenever they cast a Nature spell, it will move the UI closer to the moon, and buff their Arcane damage. The gameplay intention is to alternate Arcane and Nature spells (largely Starfire and Wrath) to maintain the balance. " This sounds pretty cool. Not sure it's going to make my leveling life largely different.

Overall, druids have never been particularly difficult to level once you get cat form at 20, and it seems like that's going to continue to be the case. Not seeing much help for those early levels though.

And last, but certainly not least: Mages

Lots of interesting changes that impact leveling mages:

"Arcane Missiles is being redesigned to become a proc-based spell. Whenever the mage does damage with any spell, there is a chance for Arcane Missiles to become available, similar to how the warrior's Overpower works. The damage and mana cost of this spell will be reworked to make it very desirable to use when available. This change should make gameplay more dynamic for the mage, particularly at low levels."

I typically level as frost, so Arcane Missles is just not something that I use at all. To me, this sounds like a good addition just to get me out of mindless Frostbolt spam.

"We are planning to remove spells that don't have a clear purpose. Amplify Magic, Dampen Magic, Fire Ward, and Frost Ward are being removed from the game, and we may remove more."

A little sadness here as I typically use Fire Ward a fair amount while leveling - particularly as most of the caster mobs you come across seem to be fireball fiends.

"The ability to conjure food and water will not become available until higher levels (likely around level 40), as we're making changes to ensure mages generally won't run out of mana at lower levels. Once mages learn how to conjure food and water, the conjured item will restore both health and mana." As long as changes are being made to make sure I don't run out of mana as much at lower levels, not sure I really care about this one. Never been a big user of the conjured food anyway.

The top tier mastery bonus for Frost is interesting as well.

"Deathfrost: Casting Frostbolt places a buff on the mage that increases the damage for all frost, fire, and arcane spells. The only damage spell that won't be affected by this buff is Frostbolt." Anything that makes me push a key other than my Frostbolt key is one that I generally view positively!

So that's it for the last of the classes. It looks like the paladin update will be coming out tomorrow, so look for my thoughts tomorrow night!

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