Monday, March 3, 2008

Entry 5 - Regarding Lifetap

((Copied from a post I made on another blog forum. The blogger was asking for an explanation as to why warlocks were freaking out over the proposed change to lifetap on the PTR.))

Greetings. As one of the angry mob, let me do my best to provide a concise and meaningful response to the changes proposed in patch 2.4.

The problem with the new lifetap is that it no longer fits into the design of the class as a whole. As many other players have pointed out, this change was designed to negate the bonus stacking stamina provided to warlocks, both in pvp and in pve. On Live, stamina falls into place as the third most critical stat for warlocks to focus on in PVE (Spell Hit > Spell Damage > Stamina), whereas in PVP it falls closer to second place, right behind Resilience.

Everything about the warlock focuses on stamina. We have two talents that provide a passive boost to stamina (Demonic Embrace and Fel Stamina), and one of our pets, the Imp, is designed as an unkillable party buff to stamina (Blood Pact). Much of the item budgets for warlock-centeric gear tends to stack stamina much more than it does intellect.

The change to Lifetap on the PTR flies in the face of all of that.

The class as a whole has a very precarious position as a caster; we lack the myriad defense and escape mechanisms of mages, and thus must rely almost solely on our often large stamina pools to allow us to survive under focus fire. The entire concept of "drain tanking" in pve requires a good chunk of stamina and spell damage, so that we can effectively take hits and still survive long enough to drain the life back.

We cannot Blink, Iceblock, Frost Nova, or use our mana as a damage buffer. We must spec for pvp survivability (Soul Link), and for our supplementary vampiric spell (Siphon Life). The only other method of effective mana regen available to warlocks is Dark Pact, and that is a 31 point talent in Affliction. There is no Evocate. We have little to no Spirit to speak of. For the majority of warlocks, Lifetap is an indispensable tool both in solo play and in group functions because it helps provide the class with the longevity necessary for our DoTs to be truly effective.

Put it simply, warlocks seem to be designed for the long haul, both in how we deal damage and how we recycle life into mana into life. This change seems very heavy handed, and goes against the grain of the entire class by making incremental gains in one of our primary stats WORSE the more we get.

The suggestions for adaptation have been maddening at best. Eyonix's own suggestion of stacking Int to somehow "exploit" the change seems to ignore that on all of our class-specific gear, Stamina grossly outweighs Intelligence. Our T6, for instance, supplies somewhere along the lines of 248 stamina and 145 intellect, nearly twice as much. Compared to our stamina buffs, we have one talent that increases intellect passively. How, then, are we supposed to "stack int"? Roll on mage gear? Have you ever met a warlock whose mana pool exceeded his health?

Other players have suggested removing party buffs like Fortitude. We would be the only class doing so. The fact of the matter is that warlocks with higher HP become a drain on the raid over time, as healers are forced to heal back a proportionate amount of HP. It just doesn't make sense.

Blizzard is implementing this to change the dynamic is Arena PVP. Fine. Clearly there is something wrong with the set up, as they're hitting Lifebloom pretty hard too. It may not seem like the biggest nerf ever, but the repercussions are many and far reaching. I only hope that Blizzard either takes the time to re-evaluate how they itemize for us, to reduce the gear focus on stamina and make it easier to keep the two bars level, or shelves the idea in favor of something a little less counter-intuitive.

Will it be back-breaking? Probably not; these things always tend to get blown out of proportion, and dedicated warlocks will find ways of adapting. Will it make me gnash my teeth at the profound dearth of consistency and logic for the sake of nerfing one PVP strategy (Siphon Life - Soul Link)? Absolutely.

I hope I didn't rant too much. Did that help frame the discussion at all?


Logan said...

"Will it be back-breaking? Probably not; these things always tend to get blown out of proportion, and dedicated warlocks will find ways of adapting."

While this will probably not affect early raiding (read: everything until tier 5 content) much, and it will probably just require a change in strategy for PvP locks, it will greatly harm raids working on content beginning with Leotheras the Blind and ending with Illidan himself.

Why? Because these fights require a warlock tank... a warlock tank that needs high stamina to survive... high stamina that is only achievable at the expense of intellect. So, when that warlock tank has to tap and he's sitting with 14K health and 6-7K mana, he stands a really good chance of getting one-shotted, and then it's GG raid.

Also, we should take into account boss fights like Archimonde where raid survivability is key. For this fight, if even one member of the raid dies, there's a good chance that the raid will wipe. Anything that puts extra strain on healers (like the new lifetap change will do) takes attention off of other raid members, increasing the chance of one of them dying, and thus increasing the chance for a wipe.

Sure, the change isn't "back-breaking," but it's big enough to cause severe headaches for guilds working on progression. The boss fights that this change affects (Leo, Kael, Illidan, Archimonde, etc.) aren't exactly easy fights when they're still being learned. This change will effectively buff these encounters and make them that much more difficult. Way to go, blizzard... by "fixing" one aspect of PvP you've damaged multiple aspects of PvE.

What's the point of making 20+ Outland PvP dungeons and raids if you're just going to forget about them and focus on the whopping 4 battlegrounds and 3 arenas that you've made? The next expansion pack should just be titled "WoW: The World at War" and be a strictly PvP game. All zones will be contested, and there will be no such thing as a PvE server. Dungeons and instances will be accessible by both factions at the same time, and the real trick to boss fights will be to defend yourself from other players, rather than learning and executing a complicated strategy. Fun? Not for me... If I want to play a game where the focus is showing another real-life player how fast my finger reflexes are, I'll play Halo.

Ferenczys said...

The raiding issue is absolutely an issue, as you so thoroughly explained, and I'm in complete agreement with you. I can understand Blizz wanting to make SL/SL less appealing in the arena, but I would have thought they'd have better foresight than what the new lifetap seems to indicate.

Screwing with the concept of an entire class because of a niche aspect of PVP doesn't make any sense. At this point all I can hope is that this is part of some grander alteration for warlocks that we're only starting to see pieces of.

But, as my blog title suggests, I tend to perceive the grave as half full. Cheers.