Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cataclysm Thoughts-Part 2: The Stat System Change

There has been many negative things said about Cataclysm, including one that has been said over and over and over again, since the beginning of time. Of course I'm talking about all the QQ about "Dumbing down the game for the (Casuals, M&S, Noobs, scrubs, insert word here)"

This time, the hate has been directed at the proposed stat system changes. At worst, all the QQ is elitist, and at best, it's misunderstanding and an overestimation of people with the "skill" (And I use the term loosely) to plug gear choices into a spreadsheet.

Now, as a rogue, I'm intimately familiar with those dreaded spreadsheets. I don't know about you, but it's clunky, nearly impossible to set up, and often has glaring omissions from its gear lists in that the gear I'm wearing and the upgrade I'm considering isn't listed, because maybe it's from a heroic or, fsm forbid, Naxx10, but the BiS that <5% of the population will see is well represented. I mean, how are "noobs" supposed to use those tools to improve themselves "Like they're supposed to", if they're designed towards the top end of the top end of the spectrum rather than the bottom?

Anyway, I digress.

Now, as a rogue, I'm intimately familiar with those dreaded spreadsheets. Even with RatingBuster or now the Blizz clone of it, Pawn, and, the only way to see if an item is an upgrade is by using a spreadsheet. No one, not even Ensidia rogues, is expected to calculate 54 armor penetration rating into a percentage and then calculate how much armor it ignores on a raid boss depending on whether it has sunder on it or not, determine how much more damage that allows them to do, and decide if it's worth the 15 agility, 25 crit rating and 22 haste rating that he'll lose, and if he switches gear again to give him more or less passive armor penetration he will then have and then have to make that decision all over again. And if he switches to Mutilate which values armor pen much less and...No, much, much easier to plug it into a spreadsheet, negating any "skill" involved.

And that's why I support the stat changes. Why do we have to rely on spreadsheets to tell us what's better? It doesn't flex your epeen nearly as much as you think it does, and yes I realize the whole argument with "If it's so easy and takes no skill to do it then why not do it", to which my response is that I still don't know exactly what point you're trying to make here on why spreadsheets are better than eyeball calculations and basic arithmetic, but a band-aid fix to bad game design does not increase the size of your epeen at all.

Also, I'm convinced that the effects of the stat changes are far overestimated.

For one thing, the hit and expertise will still be there, thus you're still going to be running into problems like "I go 23 under the hit cap if I get this upgrade, but it increases my agility by 20 and has a red slot with a 4 agility socket regemming for pure hit worth it?"

The same thing applies to casters, except replace agility in there with intellect.

For healers, or even, for that matter, all casters, they all value their stats differently. You'll still run into problems where if 1% haste is better than 15 int, and is that better than all the crit and spirit from this other piece?

Even for tanks, who gained the freedom from defense cap, still has to juggle Block Rating (If not block value) vs Parry vs Dodge vs pure stamina.

We're still going to have to juggle stats, and weigh cost vs benefit on every piece of gear we get, but we're just going to do it with a few less stats. Is that really catering to the casuals?

And then there's the mastery stat. Oh, boy, I'm not sure if I understand this correctly, but it increases different stats depending on which tree you're in. Talk about confusion. "Wait, I though mastery gave me Armor Pen! Why is it giving me poison damage?" And then, after you convert mastery to the appropriate stat, you'll still have to calculate to see your DPS bonus! "Hey, this 20 Mastery gives me the equivalent of 54 armor pen rating and is that worth the 15 agility, 25 crit rating and 22 hast..." And hey, guess what, it's the same thing again! I hope someone gets to prove me wrong and enlighten me on how it really works, but for now, it seems to be just more of the same, and all the QQ and the cries of joy are unfounded.

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