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Season of Discovery Phase 4 PTR Development Notes: June 27th

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We have a new PTR build for SoD Phase 4 today. Blizzard made changes to Hunters, Mages and Warlocks, but more classes will get hotfixes before the weekend as well. The new Blackrock Eruption event also got some adjustments.

As explained below, there is also a focus on developer commentary on the reasoning behind the changes.

Blizzard LogoSoD P4 Dev Notes (Source)

Build: 55348patch1.15.3

Testing Focus
We’ve made some adjustments to Mage, Hunter, and Warlock in this week’s initial PTR release, but we intend to Hotfix additional adjustments to other classes onto the PTR sometime before the weekend. Below you’ll find notes for our current round of changes, and we’ve included developer commentary on the adjustments to help give some insight into our current thought process around the changes.

We’ve also made some fixes and adjustments to the Blackrock Eruption event, including spawns, environments and ambience, and other aspects of the event, so we encourage you to check it out.

Read on to find out more about what changed.

Mage

  • Brain Freeze chance to trigger increased to 20%
    • Developer’s Note: Brain Freeze has hard competition with the passive of Spell Power. So we’re buffing it to make it a slightly more competitive option for Frost Mages.
  • The Balefire Bolt ability now counts as Frost damage in addition to Arcane and Fire.
    • Developer’s Note: Balefire Bolt hasn’t seen too much usage so far, with most mages favoring the passive of Molten Armor. Making Balefire Bolt now have synergies with Frost Talents opens it up to all Specs as an interesting option. We’re comfortable with increasing the power on Balefire Bolt as it’s unlikely to act as a full replacement for the other abilities in your rotation… unless you want to cast it 10 times within 30 seconds at which time your rotation will most certainly end. We don’t recommend that, however.
  • The cooldown of fireblast has been increased to 15 seconds with the overheat ability
    • Developer’s Notes: Moving Hot Streak to the helm alongside the new Overheat rune has helped improve firemage gameplay, but they are getting Hotstreak slightly more frequently than we intend, so we’re pulling back a little bit of Overheat’s power via the frequency but keeping the 100% crit chance. We’ll continue to evaluate mages after this change."

Warlock

  • Soul Siphon: Causes Drain Soul to now inflict its damage once per second rather than once every three seconds.
    • Developer’s Notes: One of the big issues with Drain Soul in oOiginal WoW is that its ticks occur every 3 seconds, which means it is always competing with Shadow Bolt as a filler ability. So making it tick faster allows it to be used in situations where you wouldn’t finish a Shadow Bolt cast.**
  • Soul Siphon: Causes Drain Soul to now have a chance to trigger Nightfall if the Warlock has that talent learned.
    • Developer’s Notes: Feeding off of the previous note, Drain Soul having a chance to proc your Nightfall talent will ideally make Warlocks feel a little less loss aversion when they not hard casting Shadow Bolt as filler.
  • The Shadowflame Rune has been redesigned:
    • Shadowflame is now a 2 second cast single-target ability that burns the enemy for Shadowflame damage and then an additional amount of Shadowflame damage over 15 seconds. Shadowflame triggers and benefits from all effects that modify or interact with Immolate, or with Affliction, Destruction, Fire, or Shadow spells, but only one of Immolate, Unstable Affliction, or Shadowflame per Warlock can be active on any target.
      ** Developer’s Notes: We’ve found that this rune was not picked as often as other runes in the slot, and one of Affliction’s Highest DPS DoTs is its Fire DoT (Immolate). We’d wanted to create an analog to Immolate that will benefit from Warlock’s shadow damage and spell hit increases.*
  • Backdraft no longer consumes the Immolate damage over time debuff.
    • Developer’s Nootes: We’ve recieved lots of feedback that it can be frustrating to cast Immolate and then be required to cut off its remaining DoT just to maintain your Backdraft buff. An opener of Immolate → Conflag → Immolate feels like wasted time on your Haste buff as well, so this will address the recasting of Immolate and immediately consuming it, just to cast it again.

Hunter

  • All hunter traps are now usable in combat in Season of Discovery
    • Developer’s Note: Hunters in original wow have always been able to trap in combat, but its often times not something that can be depended upon due to spell resists. This functionality is even more unwieldy if you don’t have macros set up to assist with it. Allowing all hunters to place traps without having to rely on that extra step feels like the right move for them in PvE, and opens up a lot more gameplay and rune combinations by decoupling this from trap launcher. In PvP, trapping without first CCing will still have the risk of your target just walking away from the trap and now having your trap on cooldown.
  • The Rapid Killing rune now also causes rapid fire to increase melee attack speed as well.
    • Developer’s Notes: Melee Hunters enjoyed a bit of an attack speed increase from the Sunken Temple 3 set bonus and we think having a medium/long cooldown button to press at key points in an encounter adds to the fun and skill expression of a class. So, it only made sense to extend Rapid Fire with this rune to affect to Melee attacks and give Melee Hunters a Head Rune with some throughput.

Cobra Slayer has been redesigned:

  • Mongoose Bite now has a 5% chance to activate on each of your melee attacks and a 100% chance when the enemy dodges. This chance accumulates, with the chance rising by 5% from each subsequent attack it does not reset. Mongoose Bite also deals additional damage equal to 40% of your Attack Power.
    • Developer’s Notes: Our first step with addressing Melee Hunters was to increase the cooldown on Raptor Strike so that the rotation opened and you weren’t pressing it every other GCD, or every GCD if you were lucky. Mongoose bite is something we’re introducing to break up the rotation and we’re overall going to be adding more fillers to the rotation of Melee Hunter. The problems initially was that Mongoose Bite does almost no damage, and it also has a very hard time being activated. So this rune is now better at providing a bit of “bad luck protection” to smooth that out. The nature of this Proc is deterministic so you should expect Mongoose Bite to activate every handful of swings. This favors Dual Wielding, but we also have runes that will fill the rotation more for two-handed Melee Hunters.
  • The damage bonus for not having a pet with the Lone Wolf rune has been increased to 40%
    • Developer’s Notes: This rune has been very tricky to balance. Having a pet is technically ‘more complex’ gameplay. So, when Lone Wolf is stronger than other options, it becomes the premiere way to play. That being said, Lone Wolf has still consistently seen much lower pick rates than other runes in this slot, since it has to make up the damage lost from your Pet, and any other rune you would’ve taken on this slot. This should still not be the best rune in every situation, but we are experimenting again with making it more appealing to those who like playing without a sidekick that can pull an entire instance if you lose sight of them….
  • The Cobra Strikes rune effect may now also be triggered with critical hits from “strike” abilities (Raptor Strike and Wyvern Strike)
    • Developer’s Notes: We want to enable both Pet and Non-Pet play with Melee Hunters. This Rune is for those who want to play a more pet focused style, opening it up to more versions of Hunter makes sense to us.
  • The Cooldown of Wyvern Strike has been reduced to 8 seconds and the damage over time effect is no longer considered a sting and is now a bleed effect.
    • Developer’s Note: Wyvern Strike being on the same slot as a Dual Wield means it is a prime candidate for giving some life to the two-handed melee approach. Because two-handers will activate Mongoose Bite less often via Cobra Slayer than Dual Wielders, this is being positioned as two-handed hunters non-proc filler on top of Traps, Raptor Strike, Carve, and Flanking Strike/Kill Shot. While we expect Dual Wield to utilize the Cobra Slayer Rune as their filler more often than a 2hander would, we felt the need to give them an ability to add more consistency in between the gaps where you don’t get a proc of Mongoose Bite.
  • The Chimera Shot interaction with Wyvern Strike has been removed.

Carve has been redesigned:

  • Carve now requires a target and deals 100% weapon damage to the Hunter’s Primary target and 65% weapon damage to secondary targets.
    • Developer’s Notes: It is our hope that Carve will now be a better filler on single target.
  • Flanking Strike now increases all damage done by 5% per stack instead of 10% for Mongoose Bite and Raptor Strike. It now has a 33% chance to reset from pet basic attacks instead of Raptor Strike hits.
    • Developer’s Notes: With Kill Shot having no Dead Zone, we wanted to rework Flanking Strike to be more pet focused and less melee specific. Flanking Strike will now allow melee weaving hunters who don’t want to stand still with Sniper Training to pick this up. Not only because it works on all damage now and not just Raptor Strike and Mongoose Bite, but because this now resets when your pet procs a reset. So, it allows a Melee Weaver to activate this without being in Melee constantly. We hope to see this change open this rune up to more styles. Additionally, because Melee Hunter is no longer locked into just playing with a Pet due to Lone Wolf buffs and the fact that Kill Shot has no minimum range.
  • Kill Shot will now induce a 15 second cooldown on the ability when an item with this rune engraved on it is equipped.
  • The Hit and Run rune now grants the hunter 15% additional movement speed for 8 seconds (up from 4 seconds).
    • Developer’s Note: Because of the change of allowing all Hunters to trap in combat, Resourcefulness is now a potential throughput increase due to the lower Trap Cooldown. So Hit and Run will now have a longer cooldown than Raptor Strike’s, allowing a player to chase, reposition, or kite for longer.
  • Trueshot Aura no longer grants melee attack power and now only grants ranged attack power.
    • The melee attack power granted by trueshot aura is now granted by Heart of the Lion instead.
      • Developer’s Notes: Something that has been a pain point for Melee Hunters is the fact that Trueshot Aura exists at the end of the Marksmanship Tree, and your group wants Trueshot. So, we’re adding the melee attack power portion of Trueshot Aura to Heart of the Lion to allow a bit more freedom for melee (or any type of) hunters.
  • The following talents now also affect melee attacks and abilities for hunters:
    • Efficiency – Reduces the cost of Shots, Stings, and Strikes
    • Lethal Shots – Increases Ranged and melee critical strike chance
    • Mortal Shots – Increases your ranged and melee weapon critical strike damage bonus
      • Developer’s Notes: As stated throughout these Hunter Dev Notes, we want to open more Styles for Hunter. Not just between Melee and Ranged, but 2handed melee, dual wield melee, 2handed melee with a pet, without a pet etc. etc. Another reason Hunters felt like they couldn’t abandon their pet and go Lone Wolf as a Melee Hunter, outside of Flanking Strike, was the fact that after placing 31 points in Survival – they had no gains in the first 20 points of Marksmanship, and therefore felt like they had to go down Beastmastery and without a pet this doesn’t make a lot of sense. We’re opening this up for players who don’t just want to be the Melee Hunter with their trusty pet by their side, and allow more ways to play with more meaningful choices between secondary trees.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your feedback on the PTR so far! We hope to get our second round of Class adjustments for this week out very soon. We will be posting those notes below in this thread as a reply.

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