After a period of slow news, the stream of Cataclysm information has started trickling down to us. Last week we heard news about Rage, and Next Swing abilities (which I’m not going to discuss beacause really I know nothing about that).
Last night came the dispel news. My initial reaction was rage mixed with horror and a small side of fear. I love my shaman, and this change affects her greatly.
There are really two chunks to this change, and I’ll discuss them below.
Dispel Type Redistribution
First, Zarhym said that the the dispels will be redistributed between the classes, and each healing class will receive three out of the five types.
- Druids will be able to dispel defensive magic, curses, and poison.
- Paladins will be able to dispel defensive magic, diseases, and poison.
- Priests will be able to dispel defensive magic, offensive magic, and disease.
- Shaman will be able to dispel defensive magic, offensive magic, and curses.
Shamans seemingly were hit the hardest — we will lose two dispel types (poison and disease) and gain one (defensive magic).
The thing I didn’t notice at first (because my eyes were blinded by rage) was that this means all healing classes can dispel defensive magic. Sidenote: the way they phrased this is a little odd. What they’re really saying is that all healing classes will be able to dispel magic defensively, ie. dispel magic debuffs from friendly targets. Conversely, “offensive magic” dispel, means that they can offensively dispell magic, ie. dispel beneficial magic buffs on enemy targets.
Once I was done reeling from the blow the nerf bat dealt to one of my favorite classes, I started thinking about what this means to encounters in Cataclysm. All healing classes will be able to defensively dispel magic, which means that Blizzard can design encounters around this. We haven’t seen many magic debuffs in Wrath, nor encounters designed around requiring dispelling them. We’ve seen tons of disease, poison, and curses. It makes more sense lore-wise that Deathwing and his Twilight Hammer would be using magic, rather than any of the other types. The diseases, poison, and curses could simply add flavor to encounters, and could be be healed through. I hope Blizzard is very concious that depending on the combination of healers (especially in 10-mans) not all dispel types will be available.
The negative side to this is that older content might be more challenging to do. While leveling through LFD you’ll still be facing that plethora of poisons, disease, and curses. You’ll be forced to heal through the damage they do — hopefully this won’t be too awful.
As far as shamans go, I’m still bummed at losing two dispel types. I’m also disappointed we are keeping our Purge ability. I feel a bit shafted and would rather have a different dispel type in its place. As a healer I find Purge challenging to use, because it takes my attention away from the party. DPS classes seem much more suited to dispelling buffs on the boss because they’re already targeting and paying close attention to the boss. In Wrath, a healer shifting attention away from the tank or party for a second can be fatal. This shouldn’t be as much of an issue in Cataclysm due to their proposed changes to give tanks higher health pools and making damage less spiky. I guess we’ll see. I do hope they weight encounters in Cataclysm to give more even distribution of debuffs and buffs, so that all healing classes will be able to utilize their dispels.
There are also some other changes as a result of the redistribution:
Protection and Retribution paladins will lose their current ability to dispel magic. All shaman will lose dispel disease and dispel poison in exchange for Restoration gaining dispel magic. Restoration shaman, Restoration druids, and Holy paladins will need to talent into their defensive magic dispels. Shadow priests won’t be able to remove disease in Shadowform. Mage, hunter, and warlock will retain their current dispel mechanics. Body and Soul remains the same, and basically any dispel mechanic not mentioned above is currently planned to remain as it is. When possible, we’d like to combine dispels into a single action. For example, the druid ability to dispel curses and poisons might be a single spell with a Restoration talent that also allows it to dispel magic. This part of the design isn’t finalized, however.
All healing classes will be able to dispel magic defensively, therefore they’re removing it from other specs to keep things balanced. I have a feeling my Prot Paladin friends won’t be too pleased about this – having a tank who can dispel a nasty debuff from themselves has been quite helpful on fights like the Iron Council.
It looks like some dispel abilities are being removed from hybrid DPS specs — pure DPS classes still have the same utilities as currently in place. Hybrid DPS will not have the dispel capabilities of their healy counterparts (or will have to shift out of form to get them). I think this is actually a good change, although I’m sure it will be up for debate. Pure DPS classes need some advantages over hybrids. Now how about giving something to rogues (yes, I know we can dispel enrages, but its clunky and results in significant loss of dps by applying the Anesthetic poison, or requiring us to use weapon swapping)?
Combining the dispel types is a win — I can’t see how this could be viewed as a bad thing. Resto shamans already have this.
Dispel Opportunity Cost Will Be Steeper
Zarhym also stated the following:
In addition, we’re making the opportunity cost (what the player could have accomplished with different actions) for dispelling a bit steeper. We think the cost is too low for three reasons: 1) The actual mana cost is low. 2) You never waste a dispel. If you try to dispel a debuff that isn’t there then the dispel just won’t go off. 3) We have spells that remove debuffs with minimal input on the part of the player. In Cataclysm we are raising the mana costs, making it possible to waste mana by casting a dispel when there is nothing to dispel, and removing Cleansing Totem, Abolish Disease, and Abolish Poison from the game. With these changes in mind, we are working to plan dungeon and raid encounters where dispels aren’t in constant demand or spammed in order to be successful, though some need for dispels will still be a part of the design.
I’m totally fine with making dispels mean more, as long as they design future encounters differently than they have been. Spamming dispels isn’t necessarily fun, it just adds to the whack-a-mole game. This change adds a bit more strategy back to healing.
I’m very sad that the result of this is that my beloved Cleansing totem is being removed. It is one of the wonderful things that shaman bring to the table, and are valued for. Losing one more thing that makes our class unique is a painful blow. I understand why they’re doing it, but that doesn’t mean I like it.
The changes are scary, and I feel like shamans got hurt the most by this (I’m biased, I know). I don’t PVP, but I think these changes are significantly nerfing shamans there — no longer will they be able to combat the Death Knight’s diseases or a Rogue’s poisons. The loss of Cleansing totem will be a huge blow in PVP as well. I understand that they want dispelling to be less trivial in PVP, but it messes with the current class balance. For example, druids are currently immune to polymorph, and giving them the ability to dispel magic defensively means that they will be able to remove it from their teammates as well, effectively making a resto druid extremely OP against mages. They are going to be making a ton of class mechanic changes though, so hopefully it will all even out in the end.
The other big concern I have with these changes is homogenization. Blizzard needs to be careful about making the healing classes equal but different. Equality is great, but each class needs their own unique flavor, and removing abilities like Cleansing totem detracts from that uniqueness. I hope they add some other really cool totem in its place.
Overall though, I understand why Blizzard is making these changes. I just hope they do it right. They will need to design the Cataclysm encounters correctly, so that certain classes are not required for a fight, keeping to the “bring the player, not the class” policy. If a dispel is required for a fight it should be a magic dispel, because you are guarenteed to have it.
EDIT: Zarhym posted some further explanation today that is worth reading, and basically confirms a lot of my suspicions/hopes. Some of the highlights are:
- They know that shamans will now be too vulnerable against poisons in PVP and are thinking about adding something to counteract this
- They are reconsidering Druid’s immunity to polymorph (sorry Jardal!)
- Encounters can be designed around requiring magic dispels, and the other dispel types are helpful but not necessary
- They know they are making changes to things that have been around a long time and have been an integral part of some classes, but they are looking at Cataclysm to really shake things up and fix things that have been wrong
- They want dispelling to feel strategic and tactical in both PVE and PVP
Later This Week
Blizzard has posted a schedule for releasing more class change info later this week. I’m glad they gave us some warning, so we can run for cover as they prepare to swing an enourmous bat and smash our beloved classes to unrecognizable bits! Stay tuned for the QQ-storm beginning tomorrow.