We don’t alter classes lightly, and every change comes only after a great deal of player feedback, developer thought, and careful analysis. We also know that while class changes can help keep things fresh, they can also mean that there’s a need to re-learn things about your character that you thought you already knew. We want to make this process clearer, more understandable, and easier to adapt to as we move into patch 5.2, so I’ll be working with World of Warcraft Lead Systems Designer Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street to write a short blog series that will provide an overview of the important changes coming to each class.
Many of the 5.2 patch notes fall into two main categories: balance tuning and talent adjustments. Unless we called out a specific reason otherwise, you can assume that the various +10% or -10% adjustments you’ll see in the patch notes were made to keep all of the specs where we want them in 5.2. In some cases these are changes to reflect the different environment in 5.2 with new gear and set bonuses. In other cases, we are correcting issues we found in patch 5.1.
In terms of talent adjustments, while we’re still happy overall with the Mists of Pandaria talent overhaul, we do recognize that there were some talents that weren’t tuned as well as they could be or just weren’t attractive. That’s not to say that all talents should be all things to all players all the time; some talents are situationally quite attractive, and we’re happy with those. On the other hand, others just never see much use and we would rather provide players real options for each talent tier.
Note: The purpose of these blogs is mostly to provide an overview of the design intentions behind our 5.2 changes, rather than to detail the thought process behind every individual note. You can refer to the patch notes for specific changes and numbers.
We had three main goals:
- Make some less attractive talents more compelling.
- Improve quality of life for Unholy Death Knights.
- Give a small PvP buff.
We didn’t feel like Death Knights needed many changes overall, and we try not to change classes for change’s sake, especially midway through an expansion, so you’ll see fewer changes here than for some other classes.
To address some issues with less attractive talents, you’ll see buffs to Death Siphon (more damage dealt) and Conversion (less Runic Power over time).
Unholy’s quality of life changes were mostly to solve the problem of “orphaned” runes. A Death Knight would, for example, Blood Boil twice and then Scourge Strike, leaving two Frost Runes, which weren’t sufficient to use Festering Strike. Now Icy Touch activates Reaping, which will allow those Frost Runes to convert to Death Runes. We also made Plague Strike apply Frost Fever to reduce the need to use Icy Touches. We also made Summon Gargoyle no longer cost Runic Power and changed the damage done to both Shadow and Nature to synergize better with Unholy’s Mastery, Dreadblade.
While we think Death Knights are in a good place in PvP overall, we did agree with the feedback that Strangulate has a very long cooldown for what it does, so we lowered its cooldown and also lowered Asphyxiate to match. Finally, it is worth pointing out that the tier 14 2-piece ended up being overbudget to the extent that we were concerned DKs would keep using it in the 5.2 raid. We nerfed the set bonus and buffed Death Knights to compensate. Blood is in a good place overall, but we did buff Blood Parasite dramatically, because it was just undertuned.
We wanted to:
- Make some unattractive talents more compelling.
- Slightly reduce Feral’s effectiveness in PvP.
- Improve Restoration slightly in PvP and PvE.
- Give a bump to non-Restoration Druid healing in PvP.
We had a problem where some Druid talents were only attractive to certain specs. Changes such as the buff to Cenarion Ward and Force of Nature were to help with this problem, while other talents, such as Mass Entanglement were just undertuned for all specs.
We addressed Feral in PvP by adding a cooldown to Cyclone. Now Feral won’t gain such frequent use of free Cyclones through Predatory Swiftness, but can still benefit from the proc for heals. We initially tried a few different mechanics to prevent Cat Form from stacking speed benefits to a ridiculous level, but that left Druids feeling like they were being penalized for taking the Feline Swiftness talent (which many of them didn’t take, even in PvP). We ended up with Feline Swiftness not stacking with the PvP set bonus. We’re keeping a close eye on Feral’s damage output in PvP, but we didn’t make any changes for 5.2.
Restoration’s buffs include an across-the-board buff to healing, as well as mana savings on Rejuvenation. We think that some of Restoration’s performance issues were actually caused by Discipline Priests being so dominant (since absorb shields are better at “sniping” heals than even Heal over Time effects), but we still wanted to make sure that Druids were competitive healers, so we increased their healing by 10% through the Naturalist Passive. Rejuvenation is an iconic Restoration spell. While we don’t want druids to do nothing but spam Rejuv, we don’t feel like it was getting enough use overall. We redesigned Wild Mushroom to benefit from the overhealing that can occur with Heal over Time spells. Now, the new mushrooms allow a Druid to “bank” overhealing, and then unleash it when the Mushrooms bloom.
Balance and Feral should also see a boost to PvP healing effectiveness because we’re allowing 25% of PvP Power’s benefit to increase their healing output (versus 50% for Restoration druids).
Hunters overall are in a good place in PvE and PvP. We wanted to:
- Make unattractive talents more compelling. (Notice a theme?)
- Improve Marksmanship’s viability.
Like Death Knights, Hunters were also in a good place overall and we didn’t think they needed many changes. These notes are relatively short as a result.
In terms of talents, we felt like Silencing Shot was too powerful so we increased its cooldown slightly, while removing the Focus costs of the competing talents: Binding Shot and Wyvern Sting. We also recognized the community’s frustrations with using Powershot so we rebuilt it so it would reliably hit even moving targets.
We reduced the cast time of Aimed Shot partially as a quality of life change for Marksmanship, and partially to buff the spec’s damage output. We also increased Chimera Shot’s self-healing to give Marksmanship Hunters a small distinct niche compared to Survival and Beast Mastery.
Nearly every Hunter felt like they had to take the Glyph of Marked for Death, so we made the glyph’s effects baseline, removed the glyph, and replaced it with the new Glyph of Liberation that provides a moderate heal when Disengage is used.