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DPS & HPS Cooldowns on the GCD in BfA Alpha

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The devs are experimenting with this change, which takes the nature of cooldowns back to how they were in Vanilla.

Players noticed that in the latest Battle for Azeroth Alpha build damage and healing cooldowns, that didn't previously have a global cooldown, now had one. Ion Hazzikostas confirmed this and explained the reasoning behind the change.

Watcher call this change "an experiment" in the beginning of his post, although later on he depicts it as something the team has desired for a while and is working on improving. They are not planning on putting interrupts and signature skills, like Lay on Hands, on the global cooldown, but they have changed offensive cooldowns and on-use trinkets to be on the GCD. The reasoning behind this is that there isn't much decision making into pushing a Macro containing multiple spells. They will try to balance this by extending the duration of said offensive cooldowns. They understand that people are going to feel weird initially about this, but it has worked so far, for example, with Stormkeeper for Elemental Shamans (and most of Ele and Enhancement Shamans abilities).

Blizzard LogoWatcher

Thank you for the feedback. This set of changes reflects an experiment in the latest Alpha build. Some context and explanation follows.

The "global cooldown" was so named because it originally was nearly universal. In the early days of WoW, virtually all abilities were on the GCD, with some of the only exceptions being "on next swing" attacks like the old Heroic Strike and Maul, which didn't have an immediate effect when activated. For melee players especially, with mostly instant abilities, the global cooldown was the metronome that governed the rhythm and pacing of WoW combat, including the agile Rogue being able to act more quickly than others. But over the years, more and more abilities have been taken off the GCD, to the point that, depending on class, spec, and talent choice, it's possible in Legion for someone to have 10+ abilities in their spellbook that ignore the "global" cooldown. 

Recently, we took a step back and surveyed the landscape of what did and didn't respect the GCD, looking to justify each of these decisions anew. This process is still ongoing, and further changes may come.

Aside from setting the overall pacing of combat, abilities being on the global cooldown can create potentially interesting choices: If you're in an arena match and are low on health being melee attacked, but so is your target on the enemy team, do you use your next GCD to try to finish off your opponent, or to get yourself out of harm's way? That's a nuanced decision, where a skilled and experienced player is more likely to intuitively make the right read of the situation. If your defensive/escape tool is off the GCD, then there is no decision: You simply do both.

But on the other hand, taking something off the GCD improves responsiveness, and opens up avenues of reactive gameplay. Until Wrath of the Lich King, most spell interrupts were on the global cooldown. Back then, someone tasked with interrupting a boss (Reliquary of Souls in Black Temple was notorious in this regard) would often stop using any abilities at all when it was their turn in the rotation, lest they find themselves on cooldown and unable to interrupt. That's technically a decision, but more of a nuisance than a satisfying choice. Similarly, trying to use Lay on Hands to save the day in response to a sudden dip in your tank's health, only to have the spell fail to cast because you'd executed a standard part of your rotation a half-second prior, simply felt bad. We have no plans to put either of those abilities back on the GCD.

This brings us to a broad category of abilities that are off the GCD in Legion: Offensive burst cooldowns. These are almost always pre-planned and not generally used in response to an unexpected situation. With them off the GCD, talenting into such abilities often just becomes a matter of adding another line to a burst macro without any additional gameplay as a result. In endgame raid and dungeon situations, stacking all possible cooldowns has an outsized impact on someone’s total performance, while in PvP, the fact that major damage amplifiers can be applied simultaneously with an outgoing damage ability (e.g. Battle Cry/Recklessness -> Avatar -> Mortal Strike) heavily limits counterplay and makes worst-case burst damage more severe. 

Thus, we're putting most activated offensive cooldowns, along with On Use offensive trinkets, back on the GCD. We will tune these effects around this change (see, for example, the increase to the duration of Recklessness in the latest Alpha build). Abilities like the Elemental shaman's Stormkeeper have demonstrated that an offensive cooldown that takes the place of another spell (and even has a cast time) can still feel very potent. 

Finally, while we wouldn't make a gameplay change solely for this reason, there is some additional upside to being able to better telegraph the activation of a major cooldown via animation and visuals. For example, Battle Cry/Recklessness has a warcry animation associated with it, but in practice that visual is virtually never seen, since it's usually overriden by an attack animation milliseconds later. 

When you're used to a specific ability being off the GCD, there is some learned muscle memory that will make for a jarring experience when that changes. Or abilities that have always been macroed together may now need to be split out into two separate keybinds. Thus, we realize that initial reactions to the change are likely to be mixed at best. But we're making these changes with an eye towards long-term improvement to the pacing and feel of combat, as outlined above. 

Please play around with these changes, and let us know what you think: Are there any specific offensive cooldowns that we've changed in this build that feel especially bad? Are there any abilities that are still off the GCD but don't need to be? (source)

I don't have Alpha access, but from what people report on Reddit and Discord almost all signature offensive and healing cds are currently on the global cooldown. Things like the Mage's Time Warp or the iconic cooldowns for each specialisation, Arcane Power, Combustion*  and Icy Veins, are affected by this. Fury Warriors have also been hit pretty hard by this change. Therefore, DPS performance may be affected slightly by this, but it varies for each class. *(There are mixed reports on if Combustion has indeed been affected by this)

The team has been trying to find ways to tone down the use of multiple cooldowns at once, especially in PvP, for a while now. However, this change will heavily affect the game's fluidity; even if they extend the duration of these cooldowns, gameplay will still feel very clunky. It also makes on-use trinkets even more undesirable than they already are. Lastly, even though toning down secondary stats is one of BfA's main selling points, some specialisations may have to prioritise Haste to stay competitive (since Haste lowers the GCD).

Overall, putting useful abilities on the global cooldown will affect PvP a lot, while on the PvE side of things it will depend on how cooldown reliant each specialisation is. It does seem, though, to put the fluidity of the game a step back, instead of forward and I think that's the main reason this has been heavily criticised by the community. It's also going to create tensions, given that everyone can find arguments about why their class' CD should be off the GCD.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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4 hours ago, Zadina said:

but they have changed offensive cooldowns and on-use trinket to be on the GCD. The reasoning behind this is that there isn't much decision making into pushing a Macro containing multiple spells.

While the latter might be true, just giving almost everything a GCD will not change that at all. It doesn't solve the problem, only work around it.

 

Instead of having one button wonders you now have "After you press this macro button, wait for the GCD and then press the second macro button".

 

it is really that simple because you are working with damage windows and spikes. You get a proc from one trinket, you just trigger the other trinket, wait for GCD and then proc your damaging ability (Like Crusade for Retri's for example), wait for gcd and then do your damage rotation.

 

Damage still scales multiplicatively (And that's unlikely to change) so if you have a class ability that increases all your damage by X%, you want to combine that with other damage spike abilities such as on use trinkets (100K damage from trinket combined with all damage increase by X%)

 

 

It doesn't solve anything. I am very disappointed.

 

Edit: Not to mention this will cause haste to increase in value a lot as well because less GCD time means more time spent dealing the damage in the damage window. This is just not the way to "fix it".

Edited by Yridaa
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As a tank I really hope that my defensive cooldowns don't go on global CD. Although in raids damage can be largely predictable, it would really screw me over in some dungeons when I'm either unable to react or basically just doing nothing whilst waiting for my parries to be low.

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On 3/24/2018 at 1:55 AM, Drachar said:

I think the issue is that you can make a super macro rather then having CDs off the GCD

This is definitely the point of the change.

Pressing one macro button to activate all your trinkets and your damage burst spells in one shot removes a lot of the play choice and doesn't really add a lot to the game.  That seems like the primary decision theyre trying to require - choice in combat.

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I get that they want to remove the whole, macro everything to one button press, but my fear is how many buttons we are now going to have in our rotation. I hate having more than 9 personally, and most specs I play stay at or below this number. Adding 3+ individual button presses and getting upwards of 12 or more buttons in a rotation would be terrible in my opinion.

They will take all of this into consideration to tune numbers and make sure the lack of macros will not kill off specs, so it just means a longer rotation, but how many buttons do they seriously want in a rotation?!?!?

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If there's one thing I've learned over the course of Legion, it's this.  Macroing everything into a onebutton macro does not make you a better player, it may make things easier, but it can completely prevent you from actually learning the class.  I do have burst macro's on almost all of my characters, but only for abilities that would cause me to waste 3-4 seconds by pressing all of the buttons.  For example on my druid: My burst macro contains Tiger's FuryTiger's FuryAshamane's FrenzyAshamane's Frenzy, and Incarnation: King of the JungleIncarnation: King of the Jungle because they all can be applied during the same gcd.  SR and rake, rip, and all other abilities are used solo, because that's how the feral opener is designed.  If I macro'd everything I could into that one macro, my performance would suffer, because I'm not buffing my damage properly, and would in turn not understand why certain abilities need to be used in a certain order.  I feel like the one button for all though process is just bad planning on both blizzard and a player's part.

 

I don't think every offensive or healing cooldown should be on the GCD, but I do feel like some could benefit from it, and it would force players to learn their class instead of just pressing a button... DH's unfortunately would still only have to press Chaos Strike to win but I mean hey... can't win them all can you?

Edited by DeathsDesign
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I'm against this. They should just put macros on GCD. 
I like the fast passed aspect of WoW in Legion currently. It feels better, and let's be real, MMORPGs should be fast passed, not AS fast passed as Starcraft 2 with the APM system. But as fast as it is not it is pleasent.

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On 3/24/2018 at 12:18 AM, Yridaa said:

It doesn't solve anything. I am very disappointed.

 

Edit: Not to mention this will cause haste to increase in value a lot as well because less GCD time means more time spent dealing the damage in the damage window. This is just not the way to "fix it".

I largely agree with this post, and I know I'm new here but wouldn't this change merely switch the single button macro meta, over to a cast sequence macro?

 

At that point a player who wanted to do that would be hammering the same key as quick as their haste would allow unless they needed to make a different choice.

 

I might be wrong but I would think a better approach to improving player decision making would be to add content to the leveling portion of the game that illustrates for a class and spec just what their cool new ability does for them when they've unlocked it.

 

Not all players need this, simply reading a tooltip can be fairly explanitory. However to really help those who would like to learn, if the class trainers had quests that would help a player understand how to best use their ablities, then that would be a much better solution than forcing all players to slow their entire rotation down. Right?

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