Where Mists of Pandaria was a step forward into a previously uncharted territory inhabited by furry priests, Warlords of Draenor is a step back in time. Not just in its plotting, which involves a dose of interstellar time travel, but in its RTS-style garrisons that recalls ‘90s Blizzard.
If these preliminary patch notes are anything to go by, the change has meant a pruning of some decade-old systems, and a simplication of some of those big numbers. Here's what we've gleaned so far.
Character stats will be “squished” into smaller, more easily digestible numbers. That’s something the dev team have been threatening to do for years, as new expansions and level caps have pushed the digit count into the stratosphere.
“It’s important to understand that this is not a nerf,” write Blizzard, “as enemies have been squished as well.”
Some longtime attributes have been rearranged for the expansion’s release, too. Agility, Strength and Intellect have all been rebalanced. Others have been removed entirely: Hit and Expertise, once useful numbers to track in the landing, dodging and parrying of blows, are “no longer needed in order to reliably land attacks”.
Blizzard are slowing down healing, meanwhile, in order to encourage tactical decisionmaking. Both passive and auto-targeted healing will be nerfed somewhat, to “emphasise the actions and choices of healers” - and several previously instant heals have been given cast times.
What else? Racial traits will be equalised for fairer combat performance - presumably in the name of better PvP. That’s the reason for a “drastic reduction” in crowd control abilities, too. Some will be removed, while others will be merged together to account for “diminishing returns”.
The mana cost of Resurrection spells will be reduced, to ease recovery from a wipe. And Vengeance, the tanking mechanic introduced in Cataclysm, will be renamed Resolve.
“Resolve does not increase outgoing damage,” say Blizzard, “but does now increase tank self-healing and absorption based on damage taken.”
Every class has lost several abilities - the redundant or less-used ones - and gained a “multitude” of others, including new masteries and more distinct talent specialisations. Check the full changelog for more on them.
Which change is going to have the most far-reaching effect on your playstyle? Is it change for the better?