We recently released an update to the Mists of Pandaria talent tree. Since the expansion is still in development, these updates represent a snapshot of where we are at any given moment and not a final design where we step back and say “Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved perfection. Let us not change a thing.” If you’ve been playing the game for a while, you’ve probably realized by now that we never think we’ll hit perfection, and we probably never will.
One design that we haven’t focused on much yet is the plan for various group buffs and debuffs. Some specs have their buffs in place and some do not. Rather than trying to describe each omission, we thought we’d just dump the whole design on you here. As with the rest of the expansion’s systems, we’re not even in beta yet, so there’s plenty of time for things to change.
First, some underlying design goals, so you might understand where we’re coming from. Our main goals for group buffs are:
- Make you feel more powerful when grouped with other players.
- Give you lots of freedom to invite whom you want. This gets to be a problem when there are too many mandatory buffs spread out among too many specs. . .
- …But not offer too many incentives to class stack. If you can achieve every buff with, say, only three players, then there might be a tendency to fill all of the other slots with whoever is best for a particular situation. Some class stacking is inevitable at the cutting-edge level, but to some extent, the players on the cutting edge of raiding enjoy extreme min-maxing. For the rest of us, we try to make sure you can finish all of the encounters without feeling like you need a huge roster of folks waiting in the wings for their one fight.
- We tend to be more generous to DPS specs, since groups — especially raids — already have ample reasons to bring tanks and healers.
- We generally don’t want a DPS spec to have to switch to a different spec in the same role just to bring a different buff. An example would be a Combat rogue who has to go Assassination just for a buff. In our experience, players are less likely to switch from a ranged to a melee DPS spec just for a buff, so DPS shaman and DPS druids might bring different buffs.
And finally some notes on the categories below:
- The list only includes what we consider “traditional” buffs, such as Prayer of Fortitude. It doesn’t include utility like being great at snaring, battle rez, knock backs, high DPS while moving, and other mechanics. Those ultimately all factor into a raid or Battleground comp as well.
- The matrix is a little more complex than it appears. A paladin, for example, can only offer one Blessing at a time, while a warrior can only do one shout at a time. You can’t assume one character can cover every buff or debuff listed below at the same time.
- Some of these are active (you must cast them, like Prayer of Fortitude) while others are passive. Note that totems no longer bring passive buffs as a rule.
- You’ll see several categories consolidated or gone. Bleeds no longer made sense, since everyone who cared about bleeds already buffed themselves. Magical resistance we just removed from the game, though there are some abilities that provide magical damage reduction.
- We are still likely to use the design that hunters, especially Beastmaster hunters, can fill in for missing buffs or debuffs by using certain pets.
As always, we’d love to get your feedback on this design.
Effect: +5% Strength, Agility, and Intellect
Example: Blessing of Kings
Brought by: Any druid, any monk, any paladin
Effect: +10% Stamina
Example: Power Word: Fortitude
Brought by: Any priest, any warlock, any warrior
Effect: +10% melee and ranged attack power (which will be the same value again)
Example: Battle Shout
Brought by: Any death knight, any hunter, any warrior
Effect: +10% spell power (there will no longer be a 6% version)
Example: Arcane Brilliance
Brought by: Any mage, any shaman, any warlock
Effect: +10% melee and ranged haste
Example: Improved Icy Talons
Brought by: Frost and Unholy death knights, any rogue, Enhancement shaman
Effect: +5% spell haste
Example: Moonkin Aura
Brought by: Balance druids, Shadow priests, Elemental shaman
Effect: +5% ranged, melee, and spell critical chance
Example: Leader of the Pack
Brought by: Guardian and Feral druids, any hunter, any mage
Effect: +5 mastery
Example: This is a new category
Brought by: Windwalker monks, any paladin, any shaman
Effect: -12% armor
Example: Sunder Armor
Brought by: Any druid, any rogue, any warrior
Effect: +4% physical damage taken
Example: Brittle Bones
Brought by: Frost and Unholy death knights, Retribution paladins, Arms and Fury warriors
Effect: +8% spell damage taken
Example: Curse of the Elements
Brought by: Any rogue, any warlock
Effect: -10% physical damage done
Example: Previously Demoralizing Shout; now Thunder Clap
Brought by: Blood death knight, Feral and Guardian druid, Brewmaster monk, Protection or Retribution paladin, any warrior (any tank)
Effect: -30% casting speed
Example: Mind-numbing Poison
Brought by: Any death knight, any rogue, any warlock
Effect: -25% healing received
Example: Mortal Strike
Brought by: Arms or Fury warrior, any rogue, any hunter
Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He was unsuccessful in convincing the rest of the class team to change Arms warrior mastery to decreased falling damage taken.