Friday, August 28, 2009
We've Got Spirit Yes We Do!
Among the high number of changes coming with Cataclysm, the one change that might really affect us on a day-to-day basis is the complete overhaul of character attributes and gear stats. Blizzard has deemed it time to continue the simplification of character attributes, which really began at the end of The Burning Crusade. Before I leveled Ekateirnae enough to care, there was +healing and +spell damage on gear, which split so-called healer gear from DPS gear. This just added complication to the gearing process because the number of statistics you had to balance was basically on par with all the different attributes a character sheet would have in Dungeons and Dragons or similar RPG's.
As Blizzard looks to invite new players into the World of Warcraft, they have realized that they make a lot more money off the casual gamer who maybe never got into Dungeons and Dragons because it was too complicated. I myself find this mindset coming on whenever I demo new RPG's at Origins Game Fair, as too many stats on a character sheet can be distracting from the gameplay. However, you also don't want the game to become so simple that all you do is push 1 big red button and wear gear with one stat number on it, as that takes the depth of character gear choice away completely. So the problem is making both the theorycrafters happy as well as the new player who doesn't want confusion.
Enter the Cataclysm changes. So many stat categories are going the way of the dodo. For healers, the important stats disappearing include the updated spellpower (which applied to healing as well as damage) and "mp5" for mana regenerated per five seconds. In other realms the defense and armor penetration statistics are going away. Now spells will scale with Intellect and mana regenration will be completely dictated by the Spirit statistic. Haste remains unchanged for healers because it works exactly how it should for casters, but the stat will be updated for those with Rage/Energy/Runic bars to increase their generation of those resources now. So as a healer, here's the overall changes from the early part of WoW to Cataclysm in stats we need to worry about:
WoW @ Burning Crusade
Intellect - determins mana pool and critical strike rate
Spirit - determines mana regeneration
mp5 - determines mana regeneration without 5 second rule of spirit
Crit - determines critical strike rate
Haste - determines spell casting speed
+Healing - determines bonus healing per spell
+Spelldamage - detemrines bonus damage per spell/ability (like +hit, not so important for healers but it may end up on your gear)
WoW @ Cataclysm
Intellect - determines size of mana pool and additional bonus healing and critical strikes
Spirit - determines mana regeneration rate
Haste - determines casting speed
Crit - determines likelihood of critical strikes
So in WOTLK we combined healing and spellpower, which led to some battles over healer gear versus DPS gear (unless +hit was on the gear, which is clearly not healer gear). On the flip side, every time spirit came up, it was passed to the Holy Priest or healer. Gear with mp5 led to interesting battles or choices, as you balanced how much you would gain or lose in each stat. In Cataclysm the secondary mana regeneration statistic is gone, and spellpower disappears completely. I think one of these changes was great, the other is stupid. More specifically, I see no reason to remove spellpower from the game after it was fixed.
Basically from a healer standpoint, we will have come full circle from Burning Crusade being like the full detailed D&D character sheet to Cataclysm, which is like the core 6 attributes in D&D and nothing more (for D&D players, I'm referring to the baseline stats of Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Charisma, and Wisdom). This makes perfect sense looking at Bliazzard's big picture of bringing more people into the game and therefore more people who don't have time to worry about the fine lines between mp5 and spirit. However, it also takes a layer of fun character fine-tuning out of the game forever.
I'll agree that having two stats determine mana regeneration is kind of silly, so the loss of mp5 is not a huge deal. But I really liked that I could see how much extra bonus healing/damage I will be doing in this set of gear, and planning accordingly. There are only five things you care about as a healer, (1) mana pool depth, (2) mana regeneration, (3) spell casting speed, and (4) critical heal chances, and (5) power of spells or extra healing per spell. I think each should have its own single stat, as Intellect controlling 2.5 of the five things we care about seems like it's pushing towards "big red button" mode of Warcraft.
On the other hand, I do see where some of our character customization choices will be replaced by the new glyphs slots and mastery abilities coming in Cataclysm. So perhaps you can use the mastery to make yourself different from every other healer having the same tier of gear as you now, since it appears you will not have much choice but to be wearing the exact same gear. For raids of 25 people, sometimes it is nice to have healers specialize in one or two of the five areas listed above, so a healer with a lot of crit can cast more group heals because one of the targets is almost certain to receive critical healing while a healer with more haste can more easily get spells off to save the tank in time. I pray that the depth of this game at endgame somehow stays for those of us who enjoy such pursuits.
So while I mourn the loss of the easy to understand spellpower, I'll take the glass half full approach on a Friday and cheer for the removal of mp5 instead.
Or TL;DR version for healers - We've Got Spirit, Yes We Do, We've Got Spirit, How Bout You? Woo!