Blog Archive by month: July 2008
by Tachyon on Thu. 24. July 2008, 23:38
Filed under: wotlk, mage, talents, beta
Now that the NDA on the WotLK alpha/beta has been lifted, we're able to get a first impression of the new frost mage talents as they are currently in the beta. Blizzard is still tuning and tweaking talents (as they just did with the new arcane talents), and this is beta anyway, so don't take anything as granted, as it may be changed anytime before release.
A list of the new talents (also the fire and arcane ones) can be found in the Mage section of the WotLK Wiki. Here's my first review of the new frost talents, in respect to Raid PvE and PvP:
(2 Ranks, tier 8 Talent, requires 35 points in the Frost tree)
Gives your Frost damage spells a 5/10% chance to apply the Winter's Grasp effect, which increases the chance all attacks will hit the target by 2% and the target is considered Frozen for 5 sec.
Have you noticed it? CONSIDERED FROZEN! Yay! This must be like the biggest change WotLK is about to offer to us frost mages. It mainly means that targets can be frozen in a non-crowd control way. A 'normal' freeze roots the target to the ground, and the 'frozen' status is directly related to this CC (crowd control) effect. Meaning that if the target gets hit too hard, the CC effect will break. Bosses also are immune to CC effects, meaning that we currently can't freeze a boss, hence there will be no shatter crits. For the non-mages: Shatter is a talent which increases the chance to critically hit a frozen target by 50%.
So this talent introduces a 'considered frozen' effect applicable to bosses, and I'd almost bet that in contradiction to the 'normal' freeze it won't break immaturely.
Basically this means that shatter is now useful in a raiding spec, so during those 5sec every spell will have a highly increased crit chance. With a little spell haste, it's possible to squeeze two Frostbolts and a consecutive Ice Lance into this 5sec frame.
And: the more frost mages you pack in the raid, the more they will profit from each other, crit galore incoming! This talent is such an enormous boost to frost mage DPS, that I doubt it will make it into release in this form.
The second effect on this talent is to increase the hit chance by 2%. I assume that this only affects the meele hit chance, which wouldn't be bad, as casters already committed to reach the hit cap with talents and equip. So this is some raid synergy we bring for the meele classes in the raid, which increases our raid slot value.
For PvP, this talent is next to useless, as we already have Frostbite (15% freeze proc) and Frostnova (self and Water Elemental's) for our shatter crits. It's not bad, as it will increase your crit chance a little, and it's unlikely to be disspelled, but it adds more to the average DPS than to the burst damage.
(3 Ranks, tier 9 Talent, requires 40 points in the Frost tree)
Your Frost Nova and Frostbite effects also reduce the target's chance to hit with all attacks by 5/10/15%.
Useless for PvE. Completely useless for bosses, as Frost Nova/Frostbite can't be applied. Useless against meele PvE targets, as mages don't stand in meele range, especially not when the target is rooted by the freeze and this situation can be used to gain some distance. Also next to useless against casters, as the -15% hit chance doesn't make much of a difference, as we've also got counterspell to make sure we won't get hit. Hell, event if we get hit, with Ice Barrier and Ice Block we're the best survivalists among all casters, so we won't care.
For PvP, this can be nice in some situations, for example when you get jumped at by a Rogue which tries to stunlock the living daylights out of you, gets frozen by a Frostbite proc off your Frost Armor, and then is 15% less likely to hit.
Also you could root a caster with frost nova, and reduce his hit chance a little.
Anyway, the 15% is next to nothing, so I wouldn't really bother to take this talent.
Improved Water Elemental
(3 Ranks, tier 9 Talent, requires 40 points in the Frost tree)
Increases the duration of your Summon Water Elemental spell by 5/10/15 sec and increases the total health and mana of your water elemental by 10/20/30%.
Currently, the Water Elemental lasts 45 sec, which in relation to the cooldown of 3 min means an uptime of 25%. If you use coldsnap, the average uptime will reach 2x0:45/4:00 = 37.5%.
Increasing the uptime by 15 sec results in 1 min / 3 min uptime (33%), or 50% on a long time average with coldsnap.
The Water Elemental contributes a significant part to the mage raid DPS, so taking this talent is highly recommended. It still currently suffers from a weak hit chance (gains no +hit from the caster), and only crits for 150%, but at least it gets a share (40%) of the mage's spelldamage, and also profits from the up to +10% crit from the Winter's Chill debuff. I'd recommend the Improved Water Elemental talent for PvE, but wouldn't care to take it for PvP, as chances are still high it will get killed before it expires. Its mana pool still won't last for the full duration, so make sure to have some sort of mana source in your group (shadow priest, mana totem).
In PvP, the +30% HP increases the survivablitily of the elemental a little, which is nice.
Chilled to the Bone
(5 Ranks, tier 10 Talent, requires 45 points in the Frost tree)
Increases the damage caused by your Frostbolt and Ice Lance spells by 1/2/3/4/5% and reduces the movement speed of all chilled targets by an additional 2/4/6/8/10%.
Frostbolt and Ice Lance are our bread and butter (solo, in PvP and thanks to Winter's Grasp now also in PvE), so this talents means 5% more DPS in all situations. Nice, wtb!
The additional movement speed reduction makes us more of a snare machine; combined with Permafrost we can now chill down our targets to 40% (Frostbolt), 30% (Cone of Cold) and 15% (Improved Blizzard).
Must-have talent for deep frost mages!
(1 Rank, 1.5 sec, 30 sec Cooldown, tier 11 Talent, requires 50 points in the Frost tree)
Stuns the target for 5 sec. Only usable on Frozen targets.
This one's interesting. I consider mages, and especially frost mages, to be the strongest CC-class ingame, that's why I rolled this class! Yet we alsmost completely lack the strongest of all CC-categories: stuns. The only mage stun is to be found in the fire tree: Impact, giving fire spells a 10% chance to stun the target for 2sec.
Other CC-categories are Mezz (rendering the target incapable to do anything, but breaks on damage. e.g. Polymorph), Root (rooting the target to the ground, e.g. Frostnova, Frostbite) and Snare (that's our speciality).
Now we get a stun effect which holds for 5sec. During those 5sec, you can do anything to the target, decorate it with flowers or paint a moustache on it, or use the time to unleash some significant burst damage -> Frostbolt, Ice Lance, Frostbolt.
PvE-wise unnecessary, but in PvP one of the upcoming killer abilities of our class.
In WTF-situations, it can be used as an escape mechanism: Frostnova, Deep Freeze, and you have enough time to face into invisibility without being interrupted.
Feel free to post your 2 cents on those talents, I'd like to read your opinion when I come back from vacation!
by Tachyon on Wed. 16. July 2008, 01:25
Filed under: gameplay, items, diablo3
Clearly Diablo2 was the loot-centric game par excellence, one that fed the ancient human instinct of hunting and collecting, which always makes an explosive mixure in terms of gameplay addiction.
When WoW was released, the diversity on item stats was not that large (there was for example no spell damage at launch), but Blizzard kept adding more and more of them, and this trend continues well into the next expansion. Sockets on items were also adapted from Diablo2, allowing the bearer to fit the item better toward his needs.
The most interesting aspect is not what WoW omitted, but in which way it improved the whole itemization and loot distribution system to take what worked and improve what didn't.
Diablo2 had no concept of loot tables, only a definition (drop level) per mob, which maximum item level it could drop items from. Certain named mobs such as the famous Pindleskin had a drop level sufficiently high to drop any of the best items ingame, which lead to players farming him (one run took about 2 minutes) over and over again, be it manually or using a pindle bot, to collect the best items ingame in an easy was. Clearly this was too easy and too monotonous, so what WoW did was to create Loot Tables that contained a list of possible drops along with the drop chance for each mob in the game. This required the player to beat certain encounters to see a specific item drop, but also gave the player a chance to farm for items he whishes to posses.
Diablo had massive problems with item duping, which lead to further invalidation, making gold as a currency obsolete and introducing duped unique rings (SoJ - Stone of Jordan, which was the best ring to wear for a long time) as the new currency.
The solution to this dilemma, when Blizzard created WoW, was to make the precious items soulbound when they are looted (BoP - Bind on Pickup) or worn (Bind on Equip) for the first time. This effecticely countered item recycling as well as item duping (as the best items are BoP and thus can't be traded), and added to the replayability and prestige factor (items now reflected achievements of the player wearing it). The number of items that still can be traded is limited to BoE items and crafted items, the former usually being not the most powerful ingame, the latter requiring huge expenses on craftig mats.
Loot Distribution System
In times of Diablo2, any item was really dropped, in fact to the ground, where every player could pick it up. The Diablo world consisted of short-living instances for a maximum of 8 players, thus ninjaing items was normal and didn't have consequences at all, compared to WoW where there's at least a chance that bad reputation gained for ninjaing had a backdraft and consequences for the ninja.
WoW introduced loot distribution systems such as round robin, master looter, free-for all, and need-before-greed. Groups of players could settle on a system before or during their adventure, and have a fair system to decide who gets the item drops, avoiding a great amount of drama.
What WoW can learn from Diablo2
WoW improved a lot over the many patches and the expansion, and subsequently added more variety in stats to the items, and also secondary effects as procs or 'on use' effects, to make more of the Diablo heritage.
Still there's some things that can and certainly will make it into the game sooner or later, such as the rune system, where runes with special effects can be added to an item in the same way as gems can be added, and also special rune words can be build to build powerful new magic items (such as Heart of the Oak in Diablo2).
I suppose Blizzard is holding back this cool system on purpose, just to add it in as a great surprise one sunny day (or patch, or future expansion).
What we certainly will never see in WoW are stats such as Magic Find (increased chance to find better magical items), or non-functional stats such as Increased Light Radius. On the other hand, we can never be certain...
What Diablo3 will learn from WoW
Loot Tables, Soulbound Items and Loot Distribution Systems are precious lessons Blizzard learned, and it would be foolish not to use them in Diablo3. Thus my prediction: Diablo3 will feature each and every one of them.