Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Random Update: My Blog, not the Alpha.

Hey guys! First things first, I want to again thank Chaithi for inviting me onto Monk Meditation last night. I had a wonderful time. I'm actually writing this post in part because of that podcast, as I had forgotten to mention something during the Brewmaster alpha news bit. There's also been some interesting changes to brew generation that I will be talking about in a little bit. So without further ado, let's dive right in!

So the latest update to the alpha gave us very little in the way of new stuff to think about and tear into. Relatively. Gift of the Ox now scales with attack power rather than health, Obstinate Determination - which in the previous update was changed so GotO overhealing provided a shield - now guarantees a GotO orb spawn when you drop below 35% health. We also got a new passive, Celestial Fortune, which provides a percent chance equal to our crit to duplicate any heal on you.

To basically reiterate what I said on the podcast, the GotO change is... honestly kinda expected. Overhealing on GotO is VERY easily cheesable so changing it to where GotO is more reliable at spawning when you need it to is a healthy change design-wise. Changing to AP vs health isn't really that big a deal, it just means it scales a bit differently. I still think that GotO as our only emergency ability apart from hard CD's is a bit questionable for players who don't really get the ISB and PB balance and upkeep, as there's more steps needed to save your bacon (noticing health is low and pressing a button (guard) vs noticing health is low, looking around for your orb, and moving over to it). But a lot of that is very much tied into the damage intake model and whether punishing poor play like that is a good idea for a specific difficulty of content, all of which is something that could honestly fill a post on its own. The big thing I want to talk about is what I didn't actually bring up too much on the podcast, and that is Celestial Fortune.

The Brewmaster community at large has really taken to pointing out the similarity of Celestial Fortune to Shining Protector for paladins, only that one is based off of multistrike and not critical hit chance. A lot of people point to how this passive is just complete trash for Prot Pallies and how multistrike is their worst stat. That being said there's a couple key differences between the two.

Firstly, the amount of base crit we have is much higher than base multistike (I believe it's 20% vs 5%) so already we're going to see more use out of this at baseline. Secondly, the potential throughput is also much higher. Shining Protector, when procced, provides 30% additional healing from whatever heal triggered it, including multistrike heals. Celestial Fortune on the other hand effectively provides a secondary stacking source of crit. If a heal crits on you and procs Celestial Fortune, that should effectively mean that crit has crit. Thirdly, the nature of damage intake is going to be very different. Protection Paladins have to deal with a lot of burst damage right now, which makes their passive less appealing because they need to focus more into stats which actually provide solid burst reduction. In Legion, Brewmasters have ludicrous amounts of stagger which means that we should be very smooth on damage intake, but because we lack baseline damage reduction, we'll be taking a lot more straight damage across a fight. This is actually a perfect environment for this kind of passive as over a fight, it makes healing much more efficient... and we're already leaning a bit more towards being friendly for mana-efficient healing. This just makes that even nicer.

The other thing I wanted to talk about was something Hinalover brought to my attention this morning. Namely that we did actually get some haste CDR! But only for Keg Smash. So I decided to model out how that'd look in my usual way (+10% haste rating and seeing the difference of charges generated across 10 minutes) and found some very interesting data as well as some worrying data.

So this is the table from my last post's discussion on haste scaling with our brew generation. Below is the table now, factoring in Keg Smash's CDR.

At first glance, it seems pretty good doesn't it. The baseline amount that haste provides across 10 minutes has roughly doubled. The trouble comes from its scaling. The things that bump up our charge generation all focus on Tiger Palm as the medium for the change. Because while Keg Smash is primarily operating off of its cooldown, it still shares a resource with Tiger Palm. More KS casts inherently means less TP casts as well. This is actually the core problem of Secret Ingredients... because Face Palm and our 4-set both make Tiger Palm more lucrative, KS has an increasingly high opportunity cost. Specifically for this scenario, it appears as though this change starts to trend negative once you get your 4-set and have 4+ ranks in FP.

That's a complicated scenario because on one hand, despite this change actually causing an overall negative in brew generation over time, if you look at the one GCD, Keg Smash still provides more brew recharge than one Tiger Palm. But that does go away fairly quickly the more seconds you look at. Another factor is that this again only negatively affects you when you have 4+ ranks in FP and also have the 4-set. It's unlikely that people will be using relics to boost their FP rank because of other more lucrative choices out there. A lot of the problems with the change are that at first glance, you think it's positive. "Less CD on our Keg Smash, our biggest brew generator? Sign me up!" But the truth is really hidden under the inner workings of the mechanics and the relationships therein. That lends itself to the design of the spec causing miscommunication between the designers and the players.

But this ultimately brings up design philosophy and from my personal experience with design and my own philosophies, I'd rather design something so that even if it's not an optimal choice, it's not actively punishing you if you do it. Even if the scenario where this happens is pretty rare, I would prefer to take steps to not let it happen at all if I can't help it. I'm not comfortable assuming that players will just get it, especially when I have experience with Brewmasters in particular who have had trap abilities, trap talents, which have confused a lot of people in regards to why they aren't doing well.

So what is to be done about it? There's a couple things that I think Blizzard could do. For one, either have one or both of FP / 4set affect Keg Smash in some way so the biggest factors to brew generation increases scale with it as well, For another, just have haste provide CDR to the brew charges. I could see them bump up the base CD's of them by a little bit just to be on the safe side for scaling, but even adding a couple seconds on should still result in an overall positive change, especially because haste would become very lucrative in that case. Another idea would be to actually reduce the energy cost of Keg Smash to 25, same as Tiger Palm. The question with that one though is whether there'd be some scaling issues across energy regen, because higher energy regen does favor TP. At the same time, the core issue of the present is that Keg Smash just becomes less efficient in terms of CDR per energy as you get more TP perks, so having it be the same cost as TP would get rid of that. I think further modeling on that idea would be necessary.

In any case, thanks for reading everybody! Feel free to comment below or hit me up on twitter if you want to further discuss the topics above. See ya next time!

~ The Brewing Scribe

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