Monday, November 9, 2015

BlizzCon 2015 Summation

While we don't have too much on Brewmasters just yet, I figure this would be a perfect time to have a little summation of all the stuff we learned about them at BlizzCon this year, as well as ramble on about my thoughts on such. So without further ado, let's get started!

General Tanking Information

Despite not getting a lot of information from the main panels, I got to go to the Darkmoon Faire panels on Friday and Saturday and got to listen to the answers to quite a few awesome tanking questions, as well as ask a couple of my own.
  • Active mitigation is being reduced in importance, citing the "survive or die" gameplay that emerged from it, creating a higher skill-floor than they felt was optimal. Overall, there will be a change from resource management being the principle factor of successful active mitigation play to timing. Still important, but there's more wiggle-room for newer tanks.
  • Big cooldowns (e.g. Shield Wall, Fortifying Brew, etc) will now count as active mitigation!
  • Wonky boss movement is being fixed! In 6.2.3!!
  • Resolve is being removed as a standalone mechanic and abilities have been designed to no longer rely on it.
  • Tank damage and tank damage intake are going to be more integrated. Blizzard said that if a tank is doing well as a tank, they should be doing good damage.
  • Talents are going to be an awesome way to boost tank damage. All specs are getting more unique talent options, so there's a lot more opportunity for fun choices for us.

Overall, I'm super excited about these changes. For Brewmasters especially, I know the skill-floor is really high because of the extreme importance of our active mitigation. Having that be reduced will be better in the long run for us and our balancing (anyone remember 6.0 and the buffs?)

If I were to greatly generalize all of this, I'd call them great quality-of-life changes. Active mitigation is still present, but it's being restructured to be a bit easier for newer players. We're getting more damage, more customization of our kits, resolve is being removed in favor of something a bit more unique to each ability. Cooldowns count as active mitigation, which for us Brewmasters is SUPER awesome. Boss movement is being fixed not this expansion, but this coming patch! While I'm curious to see how the Brewmaster active mitigation changes play, overall I think this is a very healthy list of changes. A lot of the things that didn't feel amazing about Warlords tanking seems to be addressed here, so it's good that Blizzard seems intent on making tank play more pleasing.

Celestalon, Dave Kosak, Craig Amai, and Scott Johnson at the Friday Darkmoon Faire panel

Brewmaster-Specific Information

We didn't get too much in the way of Brewmaster information, but the little bit we got is quite interesting so far. Here's what we got:

  • Brewmaster active mitigation will focus around a HUGE stagger buff and then purifying it.
  • Larger focus on Brewmasters being the nimble, dodgy type of tank. Not sure where Elusive Brew and Guard figure into this specifically.
  • Soul Dance is going to be merged into stagger

So we won't get the specifics of all of the big changes till Wednesday, but it's kinda looking like Blizzard is turning Brewmasters on their head a little bit. The new stagger dynamic is actually really like how I thought Shuffle and Purifying Brew were going to work way back in the Mists of Pandaria beta in 2012, so I'm very excited to see how this plays out. I think this is going to provide very interesting gameplay and really just optimizes and clarifies how that relationship was SUPPOSED to work in Mists and Warlords (with the exception of 6.0 content where we got pretty close to this). Soul Dance being merged into stagger, something I heard from the man Celestalon himself, is really cool. As a talent, it was always such a cool idea, but had almost no usefulness in actual gameplay. This is also a great way to solve a core problem with Brewmasters: our ability to handle magic damage. Not really much more to say about it, I'm pretty happy with it.

On a more worrying note, Blizzard is going to be focusing more on our fantasy of a drunken brawler, a character who either dodges hits, or when they ARE hit, it doesn't really seem like they took the damage. On one hand I do like that fantasy, don't get me wrong. It's a cool dynamic, and I very much enjoy that idea. That being said, avoidance tanks have classically always had problems with balance and effectiveness. Blizzard's really going to have to be on point in order for us to be solid. The talk about how Guard didn't really play well into the fantasy is also a bit worrisome. Guard was pretty much the only way that we were able to be effective in 6.2, because everything else about us (read: our fantasy-focused mechanics) were nerfed to the bottom of vashj'ir. Getting rid of it is going to be one less thing that Blizzard can use to ensure we're balanced, so they are going to have to do a lot to ensure what we have is solid. Alternatively provide us another type of cooldown that does fit the fantasy, but is still useful. One of the two.

We also didn't hear anything about Elusive Brew. Is it becoming more important? Less important? Is it being pushed somewhere else? There's nothing really more to say here except "let's wait till Wednesday!"

Brewmaster Artifact

So this is actually a bit more lorey, but I'm super excited about this.

Basically, we have the Monkey king's staff. The Monkey King being the hozen friend of Emperor Shaohao. There's actually a LOT of lore being referenced here. Our staff is a culmination of the history of Pandaria's woods, its denizens, it's deities, and the Titan's watchers. It's fair to say that this staff is not just a symbol of Pandaria, but it IS Pandaria. It is it's culture, with its brew stein / cask. It is it's history, being made from the branch of the first ever tree of the land. It is it's deities and legends, being a famous possession of Yu'lon, then the Monkey King.

But most importantly, we get a cask of brew on a staff. That just SCREAMS Brewmaster! Hopefully it'll come in a coloration that matches our Mists Challenge Mode transmog. Either way, this thing looks awesome, and I am super excited to check out all of them.

Sometime tonight, I'll make a quick post on Vengeance Demon Hunters! Stay tuned.

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