Resource-based AoE Concept

Something about AoE inWorld of Warcraft has always left a bad taste in mouth. I’m not talking about fighting multiple enemies simultaneously in general. It’s more about spells aimed at doing damage to more than one target via one cast. To me, a good non-example of AoE would be putting periodic effects several enemies. Whereas casting Swipe or Seed of Corruption would be a prime example of the type of AoE I have never liked.

It occurred to me that some classes have AoE that must be worked into their single-target rotations. I’m not talking about Death Knights- where AoE spells are just a serendipitous part of their omni-roation. I’m thinking of classes like Hunters or Retribution Paladins. These classes/specs have a choice to make: “Do I use my resources on a strong single-target ability, or an AoE weak single-target ability?”

Let’s use my Hunters and Paladin examples to start with. Hunters can spend their focus on something like Arcane shot or Multishot. Retribution Paladins can spend/generate their resources with Crusader Strike or Divine Storm. Neither spell can be cast repeatedly ad absurbum. Compare this to something like a Warlock’s Hellfire or Seed of Corruption. Those spells can be the sole cause of a Warlock’s AoE damage, produce high amounts of damage, and never expend the Warlock’s resources completely. This isn’t to say that all single-spell AoE tactics are so easy. A Feral Cat Druid’s Swipe can produce amazing damage, but only in the short run. If the fight is brief, then Swipe is a one-button winfest. If the fight is long, the Druid’s damage becomes average or lackluster. It’s not a particularly fun design.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that a Feral Cat Druid could perform AoE in a similar fashion to our Hunter or Paladin. They generate combo points and then have to choose again between spending them on a focused ability or an AoE ability. Suddenly you have logical choices. As it currently stands, a Feral Cat doesn’t generate any combo points while doing AoE. Once the large mobs have thinned down to the point of making single-target DPS the best option, the Druid is energy starved and the damage just continues to taper off while Hunters and Paladins never missed a beat. Keeping in mind that most Hunters and Paladins aren’t going to produce the same short-term burst that Feral Cats do, but they also don’t hit a wall with regards to output. For better or worse, it’s pretty stable from start to end.

I  propose that we level the playing field for all DPS. Tanking classes should still have easy access to spreading damage (and thus threat) around. Currently I feel that a tank’s ability to AoE, combined with the somewhat recent threat buff, is decently balanced. For DPS, however, there is no reasonable balance between how AoE damage is done, and thus some classes technically contribute a lot less in these situations. Trash pulls and AoE adds-based boss mechanics can seem like a futile effort to many. Let’s explore the idea of this balanced, resource-based AoE concept for each class.

One of the core mechanics to Death Knight damage is their Runic Power resource. They currently have the choice to use Runic power on a number of things, but for damage it’s generally a single target ability. As it stands, their AoE moves generally only cost one rune, and for some specs it’s the same move they’d use single target. That means the hit is already quite strong, and now it’s hitting more than one enemy at a time. If we make it a more important choice for Death Knights, that will be a step in the direction of my concept.

Druids have two night-and-day (pun intended) different damage specs. For Balance, I initially thought that their eclipse state could have some bearing on how their AoE worked. After some considering though, it seems that if they are too far away from an eclipse state at the beginning of a pull, or during the time when they need the AoE most, they’d be out of luck. One thing thatmight work is to have AoE spells that push them towards their desired eclipse state, but only slower than their single target options. This would essentially be like them using their resource (the resource being the movement of their eclipse meter) to do AoE damage at the cost of how soon they get to their bonus damage state. The best choice in my opinion for Ferals would be to have them choose between using combo points for a single target move or an AoE move. The only potential drawback is that their combo points are also used for their important damage buff: Savage Roar.

While hunters already have to make the choice between a focused attack and an AoE ability, my guildy Rades (of made a good point against this being ok. Since Hunters have to fire a long-cast ability (Steady Shot or Cobra Shot) to generate their Focus to use on their AoE, they run into a huge problem when their current target dies just before they get off their shot. This makes it so they have double or even worse in some terrible scenarios triple or more cast time to generate their Focus. One thing to that could help offset this issue might be to give hunters a self-channeled ability. Maybe they start to channel [Breech Loading] (sorry, I seriously don’t know anything about guns/bows in real life to I tried to come up with something moderately logical, ironically it may not make much sense) which takes as much time at their Steady/Cobra shot, generates the same amount of focus,  and buffs their AoE shot by a small amount to make up for the loss of damage having not cast Steady/Cobra shot.

With classes that have a mana pool as their singular resource, things get a bit messier. You have the option of giving their AoE spell cooldown, and thus gating how much they can use the spell. There is also the option of having them generate a secondary resource in order to cast their AoE. You might be able to give them some kind of proc that allows them to choose a burst of focused damage or an AoE move.

With this in mind, it might be a good idea to take those three ideas and divide them up between the varies Mage specs. Beyond that I’m not sure what could be done to reduce their spammable AoE moves.

Holy Power has been an interesting mechanic in the way that it comes into play for Paladin damage. If there are four targets, the Paladin will use Divine Storm to generate their 1 Holy Power. Any less than four, they have to rely on AoE moves that have a cooldown attached to them. We might be able to simply leave Paladins alone and have them fit into this model. I would say that they would likely appreciate a move to use their Holy Power on that would damage more than one opponent at a time. Perhaps they could place a debuff on their target that makes their attacks deal 33% of the damage done to X additional targets, where X = the number of Holy Power points used when the debuff was applied. It’s a work in progress.

Shadow Priests are quite a tough one to adjust. They can already multi-DoT targets like Warlocks can. Yet, they can still cast Mind Sear to wreak havoc on multiple targets at once. One idea might be to have Mind Sear require Shadow Orbs to deal damage, and increase that damage based on the number of orbs consumed. An entirely new spell could be devised, where we run into a similar situation as we had with Mages. Maybe just have Mind Sear share a cooldown with Mind Blast so you have to make a choice? Tough one overall.

Similar to Feral Druids, Rogues could operate around choosing how they want to spend their combo points. Even worse than the poor Ferals though, is that Rogues have two self buffs that require combo points. At the moment, Combat Rogues have a few nice cooldowns and mechanics for AoE. Subtlety and Assassination don’t for the most part. The easy solution is giving them a new ability. I like the idea of having to wipe their poison stacks on their current target to do AoE damage to others nearby, but I can’t find a reason why they would logically do this.

It’s difficult to modify Shaman AoE without making them feel short-changed. They have spells that work under my concept already, but then they have additional spells as well. Do we remove some of their AoE spells? Tone them down? It’s another hard call. For starters we can give Chain Lightning a cooldown, or make it spent Lightning Shield stacks instead of generating them. Earthquake could be channeled so that it would only be appealing on very large amount of targets. Maybe give Fire Nova to Enhancement only? The real work is in how to distribute the current spells between the two specs.

All’s fair. Warlocks- you don’t need to fix Warlocks.

I kid, of course. They have the same array of ridiculous and spammable moves that Mages do. Seed of Corruption could be changed from an explodes-and-deals-AoE-damage spell to the mechanic that Affliction Warlocks currently enjoy, where it spreads Corruption to the target and other nearby. Simply remove the explosion damage and make it cost a Soul Shard. With Soul Swap, you don’t need to do much more beyond that. Destruction already have Bane of Havoc that transfers damage to a second target. Kind of like a Beacon of Darkness. Maybe give Destruction a means of improving Shadowflame via the use of a Soul Shard, or whatever new resource they are getting in MoP. Rain of Fire could be proc based? It’s messy for sure. For Demonology, let’s forget for the moment that they have a minion that does excellent AoE damage and that their Metamorphosis cooldown comes with a great Immolation Aura, we could make Hellfire cost a Soul Shard? They would need to have their AoE adjusted in sick and inhumane ways. I’m open to it.

Warriors, similar to other classes, already have to generate resources to utilize all moves including AoE, which is why Arms has AoE cooldowns. The damage would need to be tuned down on Bladestorm a bit. For Fury, give them something interesting like Duplicated Strikes (Yes, I just made that up, don’t do a search for it) where each of their weapons does the same attack so they do their single target rotation but it hits two enemies with all their attacks. Since they’re only using one weapon on each enemy, the damage is reduced by some amount, but the overall effect is a damage boost.

There, whew! They’re far from perfect, but I did the entire class/spec line (I think) and it wasn’t easy.

What do you think? Any suggestions? Any better ideas?

Let’s get it started in here!



About nofuneral

I say things. You say things.

Posted on February 25, 2012, in Uncategorized, Wishful Thinking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I disagree here, I think. I don’t think you can normalize AoE damage because the scenarios are so different, depending on add health + number of adds, that balancing it would really make things feel overly homogenous.

    • I could definitely see that being an issue. This might be a good use for some of those talent tiers. Choose what kind of AoE mechanic you’d like. That’s a really good point though, I hadn’t considered anything beyond the gameplay on an individual class basis when I fleshed out this idea.

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