WoW Wrath Class Redesign and Reitemization Explained

I love what I’m hear­ing about the new item­iza­tion from beta. A lot of it is still in flux, but there’s a core vari­able that isn’t: a num­ber of for­mer­ly sep­a­rate stats have been com­bined:

  • crit­i­cal strike = crit­i­cal strike + spell crit­i­cal strike
  • hit rat­ing = hit + spell hit
  • haste rat­ing = haste + spell haste
  • spellpow­er = heal­ing + spell dam­age

This is absolute­ly won­der­ful. If you’re won­der­ing why they’re doing this or why it’s so impor­tant to the qual­i­ty of PvE, let’s geek out a bit and look at each class, the kinds of gear it cur­rent­ly wants, and what just the spellpow­er (heal­ing + spell dam­age) com­bine means in terms of how it’s going to make your PvE instances and raids hap­pi­er.

  • Druid — leather melee 1/4, leather tank­ing 1/4, leather nuk­ing 1/4, leather heal­ing 1/4
  • Hunter — mail agi phys­i­cal 3/3
  • Mage — cloth nuk­ing 3/3
  • Shaman — mail strength phys­i­cal 1/3, mail nuk­ing 1/3, mail heal­ing 1/3
  • Pal­adin — plate melee 1/3, plate heal­ing 1/3, plate tank­ing 1/3
  • Priest — cloth heal­ing 2/3, cloth nuk­ing 1/3
  • Rogue — leather melee 3/3
  • War­rior — plate melee 2/3, plate tank­ing 1/3
  • War­lock — cloth nuk­ing 3/3

It real­ly gets inter­est­ing when we reverse the index:

  1. Plate melee — pal­adin 1/3, war­rior 2/3
  2. Plate tank­ing — pal­adin 1/3, war­rior 1/3
  3. Plate heal­ing — pal­adin 1/3
  4. Mail agi phys­i­cal — hunter 3/3
  5. Mail str phys­i­cal — shaman 1/3
  6. Mail heal­ing — shaman 1/3
  7. Mail nuk­ing — shaman 1/3
  8. Leather melee — druid 1/4, rogue 3/3
  9. Leather tank­ing — druid 1/4
  10. Leather nuk­ing — druid 1/4
  11. Leather heal­ing — druid 1/4
  12. Cloth nuk­ing — mage 3/3, war­lock 3/3, priest 1/3
  13. Cloth heal­ing — priest 2/3

Thir­teen total gear cat­e­gories, and a whop­ping nine of them have only one class next to them: plate heal­ing, mail agi, mail str, mail heal­ing, mail nuk­ing, leather tank­ing, leather nuk­ing, leather heal­ing, cloth heal­ing. This is all niche gear, because if you don’t have one spe­cif­ic class, that loot isn’t use­ful. Even worse are the cat­e­gories that have one build of one class list­ed, of which there are sev­en, which is a nar­row niche.

Bliz­zard’s ulti­mate goal is that when a piece of loot drops in PvE, the play­ers should not sigh but instead be excit­ed. Some­one should be look­ing at their gear and say­ing that “it’s an upgrade” or “maybe as a back­up piece” or what­ev­er. The worst case sce­nario is that sim­ply by nature of the item, nobody in the raid can use it.

By reduc­ing the num­ber of weirdo nich­es as far as item­iza­tion goes, for exam­ple enhance­ment-sham­mies-only gear and holy-pal­adin-only gear, there will be less dis­ap­point­ment and more chances for joy on instance/raid runs.

This also dove­tails nice­ly with the new expand­ed 10-man pro­gres­sion track in Wrath. If you’re in a small­er guild, nar­row niche gear is not only more like­ly to be use­less, but it is more like­ly will always be use­less. Your guild will be sized for 10-man pro­gres­sion, you’re not going to have every spec of every build.

This is the goal with the new item­iza­tion. A larg­er per­cent­age of the items will be use­ful to a larg­er per­cent­age of char­ac­ters, which means hap­pi­er raids. Dps of many dif­fer­ent kinds will be inter­est­ed in the same rings, neck­laces, trin­kets and so on. Nuk­ers and heal­ers, liv­ing togeth­er. Few­er drops that nobody can use. It’s beau­ti­ful.

As an aside, if you’re think­ing that druids and sham­mies look kind of sad in that list, you won’t get an argu­ment from druids and sham­mies. You try gear­ing up a boomkin (leather nuk­ing) or an ele­men­tal shaman (mail nuk­ing) with­out going to pvp gear and tell me how that goes com­pared with gear­ing up a mage or a rogue, or even a ret­ri­bu­tion pal­ly. Link me the gear you can get out of Kara as you try to enter the endgame. “Wow, I nev­er seem to get any drops in here, let me go check wow­head. (does research) Oh I see, there just isn’t gear for me in here.”

Com­bined with the item stat changes, they’re also elim­i­nat­ing a nar­row niche through class redesign: enhance­ment sham­mies will share hunter loot and no longer need their own spe­cial loot. They’ll share weapons with the melee and share armor with the hunters. They did the same part­way through the Burn­ing Cru­sade with Ret­ri­bu­tion pal­adins, hav­ing them share item­iza­tion goals with the war­riors and (soon) deathknights. Three class­es going for the same loot? It increas­es the chance that when plate drops, some­one will be hap­py. Good game design.

So let’s reex­am­ine the list after Wrath changes:

  1. Plate melee — deathknight 1.5÷3, pal­adin 1/3, war­rior 2/3
  2. Plate tank­ing — deathknight 1.5÷3, pal­adin 1/3, war­rior 1/3
  3. Plate cast­er — pal­adin 1/3
  4. Mail non-cast­er — hunter 3/3, shaman 1/3
  5. Mail cast­er — shaman 2/3
  6. Leather melee — druid 1/4, rogue 3/3
  7. Leather tank­ing — druid 1/4
  8. Leather cast­er — druid 2/4
  9. Cloth cast­er — mage 3/3, war­lock 3/3, priest 3/3

Much bet­ter! Nine kinds of gear (down from 13), with four kinds that are niche (down from nine), and two that are nar­row niche (down from sev­en). Cloth, mail and leather cast­ers have tight­ened up con­sid­er­ably. So in Wrath, they’ve added a class and yet end­ed up with few­er kinds of gear, so PvE will be more fun. This is good work by Bliz­zard. Still a cou­ple of prob­lems, name­ly in pal­lies, sham­mies, and druids. Ah, you blessed hybrids. At least boomkin/trees and elemental/restoration sham­mies share gear, so while they’re still nich­es, at least they’re not nar­row nich­es any­more.

The sum­ma­ry is: Bliz­zard is mak­ing PvE more fun with these changes. This a large part of the rea­son I’m excit­ed about Wrath.

Tomor­row, I’ll talk about tak­ing it a step fur­ther with some out­landish design sug­ges­tions which are extreme­ly unlike­ly to make it into the game.

More Words!

2 thoughts on “WoW Wrath Class Redesign and Reitemization Explained”

  1. Are these changes to exist­ing gear, or only going to be implant­ed onto new gear?

    And… Do you know what they’re going to do with Resilience? Oth­er than get rid of it?

    Are they going to rework any of the cur­rent leather ‘tank­ing’ pieces to include defense then? Since right now… most druids have to uti­lize PvP pieces if they ever want to get out of Heavy Cleft­hoof. ><

    If they take that away from BC-era lev­el­ing druids, we’ll stop being able to tank quite so well, even if they add gear to WotLK, won’t help the mid-60’s druids.

    Oth­er than that… it seems real­ly nice. It would be inter­est­ing then to see what they do with heal­ing pieces — you know, the ones that are list­ed as 81 to heal­ing, 50 to dam­age… are they going to low­er it to the dam­age … ie: 50 spellpow­er or raise it to the heal­ing?

    Because dang.… my war­lock is going after the pri­mal moon­cloth set if that’s the case! ;)

  2. The last time Bliz­zard did a stats redesign (on TBC launch, +hit % became +hit rat­ing and so on), they changed all exist­ing gear at the same time. So I’m guess­ing we’re going to see the same with the release of Wrath.

    Your exam­ple of “+81 healing/+50 spell dam­age” is going to read “+50 spellpow­er”, no need for locks to chase the Pri­mal Moon­cloth set. :) Heal­ers won’t see a mean­ing­ful dif­fer­ence because either the core tal­ents or the spells them­selves will read “heals gains an addi­tion­al 50% ben­e­fit from spellpow­er” or some­thing to that effect.

    As far as I know, resilience is here to stay. I know I’ve read at least one devel­op­er inter­view say­ing that they like the mechan­ic and how it plays out in PvP. Resilience in PvP and Hit rat­ing in PvE are very sim­i­lar: not ter­ri­bly use­ful when brought to the oth­er side.

    I don’t know what they’re plan­ning with druid tanks, but the removal of crush­ing blows de-empha­sizes defense over­all (as you can see from the fact that +defense tal­ents have been entire­ly removed/replaced in all tal­ent trees). I imag­ine that once they have the druid tal­ent trees/inscription bits final­ized, the whole pic­ture of druid tank­ing and their gear goals will become clear, and hope­ful­ly much bet­ter than TBC.

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