Affliction MG Changes - Some Transparency?

#1 - April 19, 2017, 12:43 a.m.
Blizzard Post
I realize we're only a few builds into 7.2.5 and I am trying to remain patient with the incoming changes to Warlocks, however this latest change to MG seems very extreme, and I am asking for some transparency from the developers on the intention behind this change.

In brief testing on a target dummy (I know, not the best reference), the 30% nerf to MG is accounting for a drop of about 27% DPS for this character using MG, Contagion, SL, GoSup, and Effigy from Live to PTR. This is the kind of large adjustments I was under the impression that the developers intended to avoid considering the artifact system.

This is also further compounded by our current T20 set bonus, which puts a lot of emphasis on drain damage and complete drains - both of which are part of the MG play style, which was just effectively neutered.

Obviously this is leading to some question about the direction of Affliction moving into 7.2.5 and the Tomb, as our set bonus is saying, "single target drain" for play style, but the PTR changes are effectively saying, "do not play the single target drain build".

I am assuming there is some upcoming adjustments to our baseline dot damage to offset the MG nerf and give us better multi-dotting, but without any hint of this on the PTR, it's very difficult to guess where we're heading.

Can we have some communication on this change and the intended direction for Afflcition in 7.2.5? As it stands now, without some kind of communication, these adjustments are going to cause some serious strife in the Affliction Community.
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Game Designer
#21 - April 20, 2017, 1:25 a.m.
Blizzard Post
Hi Affliction Warlocks. Thanks for the posts and feedback so far. I'd like to talk a bit about the change to Malefic Grasp. In general, we agree that communication is warranted since we changed/nerfed a widely taken talent.

Malefic Grasp is very powerful on live. With the current state of Affliction, the talent is taken on virtually every situation in Nighthold, from single-target to sustained multi-target boss fights. There are things about Affliction that we’re not entirely happy with, many of which the community has echoed, and the current feel of Affliction being a single-target spec that focuses its damage into one target rather than spreads its damage out over many targets more evenly, is generally one of them. Malefic Grasp at a high tuning value is a heavy contributor to that. It’s not ideal that even on a sustained multi-target fight right now, Malefic Grasp wins out over Writhe in Agony on the same row, when at first glance Writhe in Agony looks like it should be the go-to talent for sustained multi-target since its benefit scales up uniformly per additional target whereas Malefic Grasp reads as a single-target talent.

Separately, we want to allow Haunt to be a viable Soul Shard spender talent. We’ve heard this from players and also want a Soul Shard spender other than Unstable Affliction in single-target situations. Ways to make Haunt as a Soul Shard spender competitive with a Malefic Grasp at the live value of 70% include dramatically increasing its instant nuke damage, drastically increasing its damage bonus %, or reducing its cooldown further – none of which would feel right on Affliction for a variety of reasons.

Lastly, Affliction’s first talent tier is a really high-power talent tier compared to most talent tiers we have, with Malefic Grasp being over a 20% DPS increase as a single talent. Generally, we aim for talent tiers to be more in the 5-10% range. Very high values can both have distortive effects on the spec and make it hard to balance other talents on the same tier.

That all said, in the next PTR patch, changes you should see are:
  • All Affliction damage done increased by 15%
  • Malefic Grasp will go down to a +25% damage increase (down from +70% on live)
  • Writhe in Agony will be reduced to increase Agony’s max stacks by +5 (down from +10 on live)
  • Haunt will stay as it currently is on PTR

Based on our numbers, 1) this 15% damage buff negates the 70%->25% reduction to Malefic Grasp, coming out as neutral change DPS-wise for Affliction Warlocks using Malefic Grasp going from 7.2->7.2.5 and 2) brings the relative balance of the Level 15 talent tier much closer to each other. As usual, the numbers may change during PTR according to further playtesting and feedback.

As a footnote, the most recent PTR patch with the current reduction to Malefic Grasp from 70%->40% that came with no other explanation or indication that further changes (compensatory buffs to the baseline spec, further relevant talent adjustments) were coming wasn’t ideal and we’ll try to be more mindful of that in future PTR cycles.
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#154 - April 21, 2017, 1:23 a.m.
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We hear you all on Soul Effigy. We’re going to remove it in the next PTR patch. It’s concerning when the community sentiment towards a talent isn’t that it’s overpowered or underpowered, but that everyone is terrified they’re going to have to play that way if it becomes strong.

It should be understandable how the original concept of Soul Effigy would seem fun in theory, despite it clearly not working out in practice. As an Affliction Warlock, I'm very happy to walk into a 2-target boss fight. At a basic level, you know you're going to get double value out of your DoTs. Walking into a 1-target fight with Soul Effigy just doesn't feel nearly the same. Mechanically, the gameplay of the two situations is very similar, but in the end Soul Effigy doesn't play out well. Could be any of a number of actors - the reduced damage transfer, feeling like the effigy is just there for increased soul shard generation, the usability issues, or the unnaturalness of it as a concept.

Anyways, it’s gone. Replacement talent to come.
04/19/2017 09:16 PMPosted by Pyrelinia
Thanks for the comment Seph, can you clarify whether Affliction will be receiving the nerf to Soul Conduit or not? The notes said only demo was excluded from the SC nerf however on PTR the talent remains 20% for Aff (the tooltip at least, I have not tested the actual %).

Soul Conduit should be unchanged for Affliction. Latest patch notes should reflect that.
04/18/2017 05:43 PMPosted by Cloontang
This is also further compounded by our current T20 set bonus, which puts a lot of emphasis on drain damage and complete drains - both of which are part of the MG play style, which was just effectively neutered.

The Tier 20 set bonus for Affliction is changing soon. It won’t be so focused on Drain Soul.