Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Early Impressions of Season 6

There may be readers out there who are interested in the perspective of the enthusiastic but consistently mediocre player, the one who has trouble breaking 1500 rating in every bracket. The perspective of the player who plays with like-minded guildies who are also (for the most part) IRL friends, and bases teams around their characters, rather than the FotM comps. For those readers, this post is for you.

Season 6 is proving to be interesting, at our level (MMR of around 1300 in 2v2 and 3v3) both double dps and healer/dps are popular. I play a healer paladin, partnered with a destruction warlock and a frost death knight in 2v2 and 3v3, and messing around with two more death knights and a resto druid in 5v5 for the points.

I personally like the new system of matches based on MMR (matchmaking rating), even if a lot of people still don’t fully understand it, means we get a much better selection of matches and our win/loss ratio doesn’t look abysmal. Our 3v3 is currently sitting at 15-15 (5-5 during the first week, and 10-10 during the second) so our MMR is exactly where we should be.

Following patch 3.1.0 a few changes to arenas are apparent, even in our brackets:
Paladins appear to be the worst healers now, especially against priests (in Ring of Valor, my mana disappears at the same frightening rate as whatever pillar I happen to be hiding [cowering] behind). Priests live forever, PvE resto druids can tank DKs even when on basically 0 mana and shamans don’t seem to drop below 6k mana.

- Arms warriors are really good again (and Bladestorm does a stupid amount of damage). In combat charge also negates the advantage of 40 yard Judgements.

- Rogues can do scary amounts of burst, as can mages. And with even more control tools between them, they make a similarly formidable combination as in previous seasons; RMP is once again very impressive if coordinated well. The double rogues we’ve seen so far do seem to have a bit of trouble with DoTs and a paladin healer.

- Feral druids make good dps partners with a healer, since in Bear form they can turtle for ages, at least against a DK, and have good control to boot. Oh and somehow we always lose to Moonkin. Like the memorable 3v3 against double Moonkin and a paladin (the AoE damage was too much to heal through, and double Typhoon sucks when you're trying to Holy Light someone).

- Season 6 is shaping up to look a lot like Season 3 and 4, except that hunters, ret paladins and warlocks can do ridiculous damage in very small amounts of time, as can resto shamans and priests. I predict that druids will once again become the dominant healers, giving them a 5th season of being at the top, maybe I should level Beathooven…

My personal experience after healing 50 2v2 and 30 3v3 games so far is that I’m not a big fan of paladin healing, especially compared to playing a resto druid in S3/S4. Lack of mobility and instant heals leaves me feeling very vulnerable to cc/burst on partner vs. double dps, and mana draining against healer/dps.

- Mana can disappear quite quickly when I need to resort to using Holy Light (which is so easy to interrupt/cc), and with BoW and Divine Plea both being dispellable regaining mana is a real pain (especially due to the vulnerability when needing to stop drinking to bring partner back up). Holy Shock crits into instant FoL are still really nice, and the 60 second improved Sacred Shield in the 49/22/0 build is also helpful.

- While my survival against melee is better than either priests’ or shamans’ (and thus I spend a lot less time having to kite than as my BC druid and my DK partner in Frost Presence can absorb a tonne of damage), I can’t exhibit anywhere near as much control or kill-burst as any of the other healing classes.

- Warlock/healadin seems to have serious issues with Arms warriors, death knight/healerdin has issues against drain, druids (resto and feral) and resto shamans. Rogue/mage, properly played, facerolls us regardless of composition.

- The DK and I have played one game that lasted the full 47 minutes (we didn't even know there was a time limit) against a Frost mage and an unkillable T7.5 resto druid (who was outhealing our dps in treeform even when on 200 mana), but was one of the most intense and fun games we've played. We also played against a Resto shaman/Feral druid which we managed to RNG kill during the very last minute. Both of those happened at around 2am, which was mildly irritating, and we could possibly have won both (sooner) if we'd been more awake. Thankfully 3v3 matches don't take long, since healer mana doesn't last nearly as long (more dps to heal through, and less drinking), and we decimated the single double healer (+ Arms warrior) pretty quickly.

- One thing that does annoy me is my inability to decide which stats to stack for PvP healing, since resilience, spellpower, stamina, MP5, crit, int, and haste all seem to be situationally great. Guess I need to do some theorycrafting. Although that probably depends on which spec I’m using (more of this in another post).

My hopes for the next few weeks:

Reach our MMR in 2v2 and 3v3, giving access to some nice rating rewards (relics, Deadly legs and maybe Furious wrists) – our first rating rewards ever, since the one time we hit ~1570 in S4 we didn’t have enough points for anything. Hopefully the DK can pick up an Ironsoul from Ulduar (not being in a 25-man guild does have a serious impact on our chances of doing well).

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