Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Welcome to Azeroth Version 3.2

Many pundits had pegged this week as the last week Patch 3.2 or "Call of the Crusade" could drop before late August due to Blizzcon and the related tournaments. The AE Team had their fingers crossed that this would be the week rather than having to wait, more because the mount changes will help my alts in August more than the new PvE and PvP content. Sure enough, Blizzard delivered the major patch yesterday in the U.S. and the world will be very busy playing and blogging and so on for another couple months.

The first (and only) thing I had time to do last night was log on late and get mounts and travel forms for all my alts. As luck would have it, I had forgotten that Shamans and Druids get their own 40% travel forms at level 16 before they get the mounts with everyone else at level 20. Instead of needing more leveling (Clarissae = 17, Arielae = 18), both were already eligible for these upgrades in traveling speed. So Clarissae traveled to the Exodar and Arielae made her way back to Darnassus via Moonglade. A couple silver later, here's the exciting results!

Hello Ghost Wolf!

Hello Kitty Travel!

I also was not going to bother going over to Biancae either, even though she was level 20 and clearly eligible for the new cheap mount. However, you need 5 gold for this training and the mount and I only had a little over 2 gold on her. Right before leaving work, one of my IRL friends had left an email talking about free mounts for paladins and I realized...oh I can get a mount without putting money through the neutral auction house. I'll still move some funds over with the help of a IRL friend soon, but it's not as pressing if I can get that mount! So Biancae goes back to Silvermoon City and finds herself a noble steed on the cheap!

Looks good, doesn't it? This is definitely the change in Call of the Crusade that the AE Team is most appreciative of. After leaving the initial leveling zones on each of these three characters, there is a lot of travel involved in the next few zones. Being able to blow through quest targets quicker will certainly help leveling time. I cannot imagine what it was like waiting until level 40 for a mount in classic, but thankfully that's not the world I grow this team in. I also have 20 more levels apiece to worry about, so I guess it all evens out. For now, this is equivalent to the excitement I've had and enjoyed about dual-specs in Patch 3.1.

This is also a good time to mention priest changes in 3.2, which is the only class I really have enough experience with to comment upon. The biggest news for healers is the massive nerf to Prayer of Healing, our primary big group heal. The spellpower addition to the spell effect per target has been dropped from about 81% to about 53%. This could equate to nearly 20-25% less healing per target per cast! Considering the length of time you need to cast this spell and the fact that it only hits the group of 5 people your target is in (thereby limiting its effectiveness when 1-2 people in a group of 5 has died), this could radically change how we group heal, especially for Holy Priests. Circle of Healing may need another buff to compensate if the group healing capacity is not up to snuff in Coliseum, but we will not know much until we get in that raid. I suspect Holy Priests will continue to use Circle of Healing every cooldown and may become more reliant on Prayer of Mending and Shields/Renews/Flash heals to hold the group health up. As such, I forsee some more mana longevitiy problems in a Holy Priest's future. Have your potions and Shadowfiend ready, as these will be used more than ever before in priest WOTLK raiding.

The nerf to Prayer of Healing probably does not affect Discipline priests as much, but it will force more of them to rely on Prayer of Mending for group healing. Speaking of Discipline, they got a kick in the knees as well with the cooldown of Penance going up 2 seconds to 12 seconds. This will moderately affect a tank healer's rotation, but with the glyph of Penance this will not be as big a deal. On the other hand, the Glyph of Power Word Shield can now activate Divine Aegis, which is a small buff to Discipline healing.

The other major news is mana regeneration changes. Replenishment has been nerfed about 20%, mp5 on items buffed by about 25%. It doesn't change a Holy Priest's love of spirit, but direct mp5 will now be more valuable to all healing priests. Considering this stat makes a lot more sense to the common man, I'm OK with this change even though it might slightly exacerbate the mana problems for Holy Priests as explained above.

For our shadowy offspecs or brethren, they ended up with some overall buffs! Dispersion now has a 2 minute cooldown from 3 minutes (as if they needed more mana longevity, the class never seems to run out), Improved Mind Blast talents now drop healing to your enemy by 20%, and Vampiric Touch does double the damage it did before if it is dispelled. Those of us who experiment with the purple power can rejoice as the nerfbat missed the shadow priest entirely this time around.

So on the whole, my initial impressions are excited about the mounts, worried about the Prayer of Healing and mana on Ekat, and eager to jump into all this new content when I have the time. Enjoy those new raids!

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