Friday, December 11, 2009

Thoughts on 3.3

Last night I hopped onto Nimala in eager anticipation of seeing the new patch up and running. First thing I did was get a tanking friend of mine to put us in LFG for the new Icecrown heroic 5-mans via the improved LFG tool. Took us about a minute to get a group together, and into the instance we went. We broke through the Forge of Souls and the Pit of Saron, whereupon Mr. Tank, the only one who had done the instances before, said that the DPS was not up to par for the Halls of Reflection, of which he informed me is…difficult, even for him. So we stopped short and left. I immediately put myself in queue for the random dungeons, and did that for the rest of the night. I healed through everything, as I have a terrible tendency to distrust PuG healers. I ended up with 6 Frost Emblems and somewhere around 75 Triumph by the end of the night.
That being said, what can I take from my 3.3 experience so far? I have mixed feelings on the most recent Patch Blizzard has released, as have I had for just about every other patch since the late BC era.

There are quite a few things in this patch that a Shaman would care about: the obligatory Shaman changes, Icecrown Citadel, the revamped LFG tool, and the new tier of Emblem distribution.
The new Shaman changes are a welcome change for me. The hot topic of the patch for us is the Fire Nova totem being converted into a spell in an attempt to give shamans a useful form of AOE damage. It is a step up, for sure, from Magma Totem being our only true form of AOE. It’s great for Enhancement Shamans. Their totems are almost always at their side, and they still seem to have downtime between spell cooldowns to fit this spell into their rotation. Elemental Shamans, however, may find a bit of difficulty in effectively using this spell. Totem range limitations means that all casters, in order to benefit from the totems, must stand within 30 yards of the mob pack (and subsequently, where your fire totem is) in order to gain the benefits of the totem. Not in itself a huge problem, assuming your casters are smart enough to stay in range. The other problem, and one of the biggest problems I’ve found from using totems, is moving or kiting mobs. When you can’t stand in one place throughout the fight, the poor Shaman(s) in the group are stuck dropping totems multiple times in one fight. It’s definitely mana sink (5-10% of your mana, depending on  your mana pool) to have to be casting it multiple times in one battle, as well as a slight drop in DPS or heals because of the GCD.
Topping it off with the fact that an Elemental would have to run back into the fray of the battle every time s/he needs to re-drop some totems is both dangerous and time-consuming. All in all, it’s much better than the old Fire Nova totem, but I feel Elemental Shamans will still be lacking in AOE DPS. Personally, I am much more excited about Reincarnation’s cooldown being cut in half. If you talent into it, a 15-minute free life is pretty much a free life every boss (The extra health and mana is nice, too). Elemental Mastery’s change from a 15% crit buff to a haste buff is also very welcome for us, as we already  have a garunteed crit every 9 seconds with Flame Shock and Lava Burst. Haste is also preferred for the somewhat slow cast time for Lightning Bolt. The other changes, specifically the reduced cooldown on our Elemental Totems is just gravy.
Now I feel it is important to note that, even though I am in a guild, I might as well be guildless. The guild I am in focuses on 10-man content. This in itself is not the problem; the problem is when I am always always always the twelfth person to accept a raid, and therefore am ‘backup’ in case somebody doesn’t show. That is a terrible position to be in. It’s like sitting on the bench in a sports match. Yes, you’re ‘technically’ part of the game, but let’s be honest. You really aren’t. You sit around hoping someone will break a leg or lag out or something so you can get in on the action. This is why I haven’t gotten a chance to raid Icecrown yet. As I mentioned early in my post, I did run Forge of Souls and Pit of Saron on heroic. These instances are everything I expected from this patch. It’s a lot like Magister’s Terrace for BC in the sense that It’s hard, even for someone with good gear (and when the loot ilevel is 232, it had better be). Unfortunately, it was a somewhat rushed run, and I didn’t get a chance to bask in the glory of these new instances TOO much. What I can say is that it is challenging (AKA actually fun) for me, and the boss fights are unique. I won’t spoil anything for those who want to experience it first hand, but I will say that I enjoyed myself the entire time I was in there. I have always been a fan of attunement, too. I am of the strong opinion that, in order to be able to enter a raid dungeon (of any level), you have to prove that you are capable of carrying out your role by conquering dungeons of a specific difficulty. This greatly cuts back on the chance of your pugg’d raid member(s) being undergeared and unskilled at their practice. Hopefully I will get a chance to run through some more Icecrown content soon so I can give a fuller explanation and opinion on the matter.
The revamped LFG tool is, simply stated, amazing. If you recall pre-3.3, it could take forever to gather a full group for a dungeon, assuming you could even get a full group (LF Tank or Healer, anyone?). With this new tool, though, I wasn’t in queue for more than a minute before getting into a group. Eight times in a row. The downside to the new LFG channel is that it makes getting Emblems of Triumph fast and easy. I know a lot of people think this is a great thing, a way to get someone who doesn’t raid into near-top level gear, but if you don’t raid regularly, why do you need it? It makes heroics boring (at least from a healer’s perspective). I’m the kind of person who thinks that you don’t deserve the gear if you haven’t gone through the hardships to earn it. Which is funny, really, because the reason I’m so well-geared is because of the advancing Emblem system. I have two pieces of tier 9 that I received through doing the Daily Heroic every day on top of some gear obtained through Emblems of Conquest and it’s certainly the only reason I’m geared enough to even enter the new Icecrown dungeons. I feel so dirty saying that, and it makes me sad at the same time. Because I got most of my sexy gear through the Emblem system, I will never get to experience the true Challenge of Ulduar and, soon, Trial of the Grand Crusader. Thanks to the Emblems, I missed out on two patches worth of fun and awesome.
All in all, though, I’m a big fan of the new patch. Everything I don’t like about this patch I’ve learned to expect and live with, because it’s not new. Also, you know, Icecrown is awesome.

TL;DNR: Shaman changes are good, but our AOE capabilities can still be improved. The first two 5-mans in Icecrown are challenging and fun, assuming you’re geared well enough. I need to find a new guild. LFG Tool is win. Emblem changes are not.

No comments:

Post a Comment