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Patch 7.2: The Salt of Sargeras



Sometimes, I just feel like ranting.  Most of those times, I write an entry here, then reread it and realize it's not worth posting.  Today, for some reason, I want to rant in public (or well, the "public" of all 12 of you who still read blogs), instead of just to myself.

Mob Scaling with Item Level

The biggest event on patch day was the player base realizing that mobs in the world would scale with higher item levels.  To be as fair as possible to Blizzard, it was apparently on the PTR since January, and I did play a fair bit on the PTR without ever noticed anything seeming harder or taking more time.  I also did three emissary quests of four world quests each on patch day, including the Warden quests, and only had one moment when I thought "did that take longer to kill than usual?". I think the change affected Hunters least of all the classes, because, as the only legendary class in the game, we come equipped with pet tanks and/or preternatural kiting abilities.

On the one Warden quest that where I noticed something was off, it wasn't just because it was taking longer to kill that made things seem weird.  It was that a lower geared player came along and tagged the creature then ran off, and instead of increasing the creature's HP as it used to, it actually decreased its HP.  And that brings up what I really think was completely ridiculous about the changes they implemented: not that they made a change to make world content more difficult, but how poorly they thought it all out.

Removing Gear

Blizzard has already admitted several times what a bad job they did, but I'd still like to rub it in their faces just a bit more.  How in the world do you release a system where it's easier to kill something after taking off a piece of gear?

I actually stumbled upon this little trick on accident, when I was on the broken shore and trying to do those demon portal things by myself.  I noticed a few of the mobs hit fairly hard, and wanted to swap to the Legendary that makes Feign Death heal you.  I didn't happen to have a spare ring in my bag (or maybe I just couldn't find it, I need to clean up my bags), so I just left that slot unequipped, which brought my ilvl now down to 860ish, which is, if I understand correctly, around where the scaling begins, so now the mobs I faced were scaled to match people who were in primarily gear from world quests and dungeons, and it cut down the time it took to kill a pack of mobs to one use of Butchery or Marked Shot.

The great thing about taking off a ring, of course, was that I didn't lose any Agility.  I lost out on perhaps a few percent crit and mastery, which does of course reduce my damage output a little bit, but not nearly as much as it reduced the HP of mobs. My Attack Power, and therefore my Weapon Damage, were unchanged.


Chips and Guacamole 

Do you ever have those moments where you eat all of your guacamole, but  you still have some chips on your plate, so you get more guac, but then you run out of chips before guac, so you get more chips, and on and on until you're completely full but all you've eaten are corn chips and avacados?

This is what baffles me the most about the ilvl scaling implementation. If blizzard wants us to increase in power roughly 250% over the course of an expansion, rather than 500%, relative to the world, then the obvious solution would be to let us increase in power 250% over the course of an expansion, rather than 500%.  Not to have us increase by 500%, then have the mobs scale up to make the difference...

I'm actually kind of amazed that they decided to remove the mob scaling due to ilvl.  You'd think Blizzard's response would just be to give players a blanket buff to make up for it...

Marksmanship Nerf

Another spectacular mistake they made came last night, one single day after the patch was released, when no one had time to unlock more than 5 of the new artifact traits, Blizzard announces all of these incoming nerfs to the new artifact traits.  I can't, for the life of me, figure out what could be going on over there that the game is being managed so poorly.  Perhaps the WoW team has been gutted, and they just don't have the staff to do basic QA/QC. 

Anyhow, the one trait that was making me excited to play Marks, has been nerfed to the ground. Previously, Unerring Arrows was to buff Aimed Shot during Vulnerable by 10% per trait.  This made the Patient Sniper talent (which I'm not a fan of) relatively less powerful, and closer to in line with the other talents on its tier (though still the best single target choice in most cases), and gave us an opportunity to do some really good priority target damage, that had at least some level of skill cap (even if minor) attached to it in that you had to use the Aimed Shots while Vulnerable was up.  

To be clear, I'm not arguing that Unerring Arrows wasn't a strong trait. That's what had people excited about it. And in the classic Blizzard style of never making minor adjustments, the new version took the 10% per trait value and reduced it to 4% per trait. Not 8% per trait for a reasonable 20% nerf. Not even 5% per trait which would have been an already extreme 50% nerf.  4%.   You would have to have all four ranks, and have a relic that buffs the trait to 5/4, before you got back to it being as powerful as having 2 ranks of the trait was...  


99% Sure Someone Made This Change Who Didn't Understand the Math

I don't have any inside knowledge of what goes on in the development department at blizzard, but I'm almost completely sure that someone didn't remember, or didn't think through how they built the marksmanship spec, and just saw that this said "40%" (at rank 4/4) and panicked, thinking that was too much. 

A Somewhat Random Anecdote: When Blizzard announced that they were nerfing Elisande's total HP by 10%, one of my guildmates suggested that this was actually a 30% nerf to the fight, since we would have to do 10% less damage in 3 phases...   Of course, that's not how percentages work, and we continue to (lovingly) tease this raider about it every chance we get: essentially, anytime anyone brings up anything about a percent, someone will say "oh, that's actually 30%, right?"

The point of that story is:  a 40% buff to Vulnerable's affect on Aimed Shot is not the same thing as a 40% buff to Aimed Shot.  If (and that's a big if) every single one of  your Aimed Shots fall within Vulnerable and you aren't using Patient Sniper, then 4/4 Unerring Arrows will represent a 20% buff to Aimed Shot. If you're take Patient Sniper and get an average increased vulnerable buff (which most get higher than because of the Aimed Shot cast time), then 4/4 Unerring Arrows is about a 17.4% buff to Aimed Shot.

And we have plenty of example of a spec's core ability being buffed by 20% at 4/4.  Beast Mastery Hunters, for example, have Pack Leader, buffing Kill Command by 20% at 4/4.  So it's not like that's an unreasonably large buff for an artifact trait to give.

If We Make the Rewards Undesirable, Maybe They Won't Feel the Need To Grind AP

While I don't really think it's ever productive to follow these lines of thinking, part of me wonders if they were really, intentionally trying to make the new traits undesirable to make the AP grind seem less necessary.  Blizz devs have stated that that was their strategy with making the higher levels of the new paragon trait unobtainable.  Perhaps they realized that wasn't enough, and to combat player burn-out, instead of lowering the grind, or putting a weekly cap on it, they decided to just make the new traits so bad that no one would want to really push that hard...

Surely that's not what's going on?  Right?  ... right?  :-/



/endrant


PS, if you've made it this far, I'm working on updating the Hunter Stats and Abilities page with the new 7.2 abilities and changes (primarily just the new golden traits have abilities tied to them).  The reverse engineering is a lot harder than it's been in the past, because the traits aren't available to test on a training dummy without actually grinding out the AP.  So I've either got to wait until the I have all of the weapons finished on live, or use data from inside dungeons on the PTR.

6 comments:

  1. I think if you look at paragon as not something to max out, but something that makes your character stronger over time, it's a lot more enjoyable. Gear peaks out very quickly these days, and I actually enjoy paragon traits. Yes, I'm a key-carrying-hardcore-farming individual. No, I do not think I need paragon ASAP. Call me weird, I guess.

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    1. I mean, I guess if you want to be all reasonable about it! :-P

      I've honestly been trying to change my mindset all xpac, but it's pretty deeply ingrained at this point. Perhaps this new method will really work. Having obscenely high AP prices for traits and kind of crappy rewards for unlocking them may be just what I need to stop stressing out about not doing everything I can to improve.

      This: http://bit.ly/2nE7v2T

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  2. I spent the whole first night on the new island and just figured all the mobs there had more HP. It was only the next day doing normal content again -- and having seen the scaling-flap online -- that I realized all outdoor mobs had more health. I'm shocked that they didn't think this was worth mentioning in the notes. And it seems to indicate that they don't know their player base. When I'm running content for the 1,000th time, I want to burn through it for the reward. The reward is why I signed in. Not being able to burn through it might actually stop my from signing in that day, which I assume runs counter to their goal of upping hours played. That seems to be what they are highlighting now on investor calls now anyway.

    And I always enjoy your blog. Write and rant away!

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    1. I'm very curious about the not mentioning it part. Kind of supports the claim that perhaps the WoW team has been gutted a bit, as the player base continues to shrink. Maybe they just don't have anyone on the dev team with good communications skills. From the community manager posts on the forums, it sounds like maybe it was an intentional decision not to announce it for the PTR, but not announcing it for the live game is very weird...

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  3. What pissed me off is the fact they didn't waited and just nerfed hard mm trait, seems they have so little respect to the spec and the players.

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    1. yeah, I just can't imagine how that decision happens, unless it was someone higher up, who just hadn't been paying attention, and then at the last minute saw that the trait was 10% per rank, and panicked, not taking the time to think through what 10% meant in context...

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