Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Upcoming Changes: More of the Same?

Firstly, I will state that out of fear of appearing ungrateful, I am happy that our spec is getting the significant planned changes to improve our situation. I feel my critique of the upcoming changes may come across as showing a lack of appreciation and at some point reading this you may feel that I need to smile, give my appreciation to Blizzard, murmur a prayer to the almighty buff Gods and move on with it. I only make this post because I am looking back at the big picture and I am not getting the same feelings of joy that I might if I were focusing solely on the PTR patch notes and the buffs at hand.

The upcoming changes are obviously in response to the large push of complaints about where we stand at the moment. I am not playing mind reader by stating this: all of GC's comments about the planned updates have been made on one of Strawberry's* threads. I will say, however, that the cause was certainly helped by the fact that now Warlock's have entered the fray over this Totem of Wrath vs. Demonic Pact argument. This spiked the popularity of the issue and, at least in my opinion, helped get the ball rolling on the elemental changes. I mean, Strawberry and numerous other great posters have been making valid, logical comments about the state of our spec for the last 4 months without response; I think it is unlikely Ghostcrawler simply 'saw the light' and decided to jump on the issue.

Another telling sign lies with a post put up on MMO Champ's site a while back. On September 7th, this post went up showing the world first Anub'arak 25-man Heroic kill by Paragon of EU Lightning's Blade (congratulations to them, by the way). They also posted the DPS meter for the Anub'arak kill and armory links to all the raid members involved (the meter is seen attached to this post, taken from MMO-Champion). The elemental shaman, Lazei, who was extremely well geared as all the raid participants were finished dead last on the meters with 5830DPS. The hunter was almost identical (5831DPS), but it was later revealed the hunter was the only one pulling ice down. Anyone who has done this fight knows that this is a chore that essentially renders that raid member preoccupied for a major percentage of the fight. The next closest, an Enhancement Shaman, was some 800DPS clear with 6637; and the next closest caster (Shadow Priest, who is also a hybrid class I might add) was sitting over 7300, a massive 1500DPS more than the elemental. The caster core was scattered throughout the 7-8k DPS region. Now of course, this is one example and cannot be evidence enough to prove claims about the entire spec. However, this difference is telling and not uncommon amongst top end raiding guilds. Elemental Shaman were the ones bringing up the rear on the DPS meters across the board in high-end cutting-edge content, and it was suddenly in the spotlight for every other class to see.

This outlines my first concern: the developers didn't recognize a problem with our DPS until other classes were thrown into the mix: the Warlocks being bought in to our ToW argument, and the top end guilds posting their DPS meters. Even GC's quote about how they don't believe our ability was as low as many ele's seemed to believe (you can read it in this previous posting) shows that he (still?) doesn't grasp how far behind we actually are.

My second (and less wordy) concern is with the actual changes. The thing that pleasantly surprised me, at least about the Flame Shock and Glyph changes, was that it was dynamic. It was different and innovative. It showed some thought. Not much mind you, as all they were doing was freeing up the existing Glyph of Flame Shock which up until now was considered an absolute must; but at least it was something better than the Lightning Overload chance increase or the Shamanism percentage hikes.

The issue I have is this: they didn't make the changes we were asking for. I am not saying 'they didn't give me absolutely everything I wanted, so therefore I am not satisfied'. The changes they made were not the ones that the community was suggesting. A viable AoE? More practical fire totems (like the better ranged, assist-targeting Searing Totem concept)? The Totem of Wrath buff given as an aura to all fire totems? None of these were put into affect. The developers didn't work with the community, but instead buffed us with what they assumed we needed and threw it to us expecting complete satisfaction. This worries me because at the end of the day it shows we are still not getting heard. We are making enough noise to prick up their ears, with the help of some outside factors. But they are not actively working with the community in making changes. This makes me question the longevity of the cooperation and if the understanding is there, or if it is just another quick-and-slick buff bonanza that will keep us all happy and quiet for a few more patches.

In summary, the changes are a good thing. It is good that Blizzard recognized that we need a change to become more competitive. However, at this point it feels like just another band-aid to me. Although more elaborate and thought-out, it is still just a short term fix rather than the repair we actually need. Maybe I will be proved wrong; there will almost definitely be more changes in the ToW vs. DP saga that is still going on. Maybe they will listen to the suggestions and add the "aura" ability to all our fire totems so we are not stuck planting Wrath every fight. That would indicate to me they are recognizing the work being done by the community and acting in conjunction with rather in spite of it. At the moment I still have my concerns; but hell, I am going to enjoy being the buff recipients for once. God knows it doesn't come around as often as anyone would like.


* If you do not know, Strawberry is a poster on the official forums who has done an extremely large amount of work trying to get ele's problems under the nose of GC and the development team and is one of the best at fighting for our cause. I pay particular interest to Strawberry's postings.

I also apologize on the delays with this posting, with the stream of changes I kept being forced to rewrite and change the structure.

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