06 April 2010

Rage changes in Cataclysm

Blizzard posters have shown us what's in store for Warriors and Druids when it comes to rage in Cataclysm. The full story is on the WoW forums.

The changes and how I feel about them:
1) Rage is no longer generated based on damage done by auto-attacks. Instead, each auto-attack provides a set amount of Rage, and off-hand weapons will generate 50% of the Rage main hands do. This amount is based on a constant formula which factors in the base swing speed of the weapon. This means the Rage gained should be averaged out between fast and slow weapons. The constant formula also gives us the ability to easily increase the rage gained if it feels too low (or reduce it if is too high). We are also implementing the following mechanics, which will still allow rage to improve to some extent as you improve gear:

  • If the attack is a critical strike, it will generate 200% Rage.
  • Haste will accelerate swing times to generate Rage faster.
Rage gains will no longer depend on the damage you deal with your attacks. This is nice. This mechanic was one of the main sources of the exceptional gear-scaling that Warriors had: Getting more gear means you hit harder which allows you to use your specials, which also hit harder, more often. In Cataclysm, the scaling will be far more linear, which makes it easier to predict and to plan for.
2) Rage from damage taken will no longer be based on a standard creature of the character’s level, but instead will based on the health of the warrior or druid. Again, there is a constant that is multiplied by the rage generated in order to allow for fine-tuning. This calculation ignores all damage reduction from armor, absorption, avoidance, block, or similar mechanics, so improving your gear will not reduce Rage gained.
This one confused me at first, but followup posts by Blizzard employees cleared it up: The amount of rage you get from a boss hitting you depends on two things: Damage done by the boss and player health. The more damage, the more rage, as it is now. But more health means less rage per damage. So in theory, the Cataclysm equivalents of Patchwerk and Festergut would give the same amount of rage to tanks geared for the individual bosses. But a T10 tank going back for the Naxx weekly would gain alot less rage from Patchwerk then he did before (due to the increased health). This mechanic seems a bit clunky, depending on how strong the inverse-health-scaling is.

On the other hand, rage-gains being the same regardless whether you got hit, blocked, parried, got missed or dodged is an excellent change. No more rage starvation due to avoidance-streaks.
3) We will provide warriors and druids with more instant sources of rage. For example, the warrior shouts are changing to work more like the death knight ability Horn of Winter. Instead of Battle Shout consuming Rage, it will generate Rage but have a short cooldown. Both classes will have additional methods to generate Rage in an emergency or bleed off Rage when they have too much.
That sounds nice. I'm not sure which ability would make sense here for a Druid (Demo Roar?), but more on-demand rage and rage being an actual resource to manage should make things more interesting.

4) All “on next swing” attacks in Cataclysm are being removed. Heroic Strike and Maul will be instant swings that cost a variable amount of Rage. For example, imagine Heroic Strike costs between 10 and 30 Rage. You must have at least 10 Rage to use the attack, but it will consume all available Rage up to a maximum of 30. Any Rage consumed above the minimum will cause the ability to hit harder, and in some cases much harder. We will tune the ability so that it’s generally not a good idea to hit it when you have low Rage (unless everything else is somehow on cooldown) but becomes a more attractive button the higher your Rage.
I like this as well. Maul (and Heroic Strike) have become things that you don't even think about using anymore, you just spam it every auto-attack (or macro it to all your instant abilities) and forget about it. Other than RSI, these abilities don't give you anything, yet they're essential if you want to generate enough threat. Together with the rage-generating shouts, this change should help make rage more of a resource to be managed, like energy is for Cat Druids and Rogues and not like mana is for most DPS casters.

I like most of the changes, they should make Warrior and Druid gameplay more interesting. All this obviously assumes that the new mechanics and scaling factors will be balanced properly. The rage from damage taken mechanic I'm not entirely happy with. Depending on how harsh the inverse-health-scaling will be, it might make revisiting older content an unpleasant experience.

In related news, the coming week will feature previews of Cataclysm changes for all classes (except Paladins, they have to wait one week longer because they're special). Druids are scheduled for friday.

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