Affliction MG Changes - Some Transparency?

Class Development
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Hi Affliction Warlocks. Thanks for the posts and feedback so far. I'd like to talk a bit about the change to Malefic Grasp. In general, we agree that communication is warranted since we changed/nerfed a widely taken talent.

Malefic Grasp is very powerful on live. With the current state of Affliction, the talent is taken on virtually every situation in Nighthold, from single-target to sustained multi-target boss fights. There are things about Affliction that we’re not entirely happy with, many of which the community has echoed, and the current feel of Affliction being a single-target spec that focuses its damage into one target rather than spreads its damage out over many targets more evenly, is generally one of them. Malefic Grasp at a high tuning value is a heavy contributor to that. It’s not ideal that even on a sustained multi-target fight right now, Malefic Grasp wins out over Writhe in Agony on the same row, when at first glance Writhe in Agony looks like it should be the go-to talent for sustained multi-target since its benefit scales up uniformly per additional target whereas Malefic Grasp reads as a single-target talent.

Separately, we want to allow Haunt to be a viable Soul Shard spender talent. We’ve heard this from players and also want a Soul Shard spender other than Unstable Affliction in single-target situations. Ways to make Haunt as a Soul Shard spender competitive with a Malefic Grasp at the live value of 70% include dramatically increasing its instant nuke damage, drastically increasing its damage bonus %, or reducing its cooldown further – none of which would feel right on Affliction for a variety of reasons.

Lastly, Affliction’s first talent tier is a really high-power talent tier compared to most talent tiers we have, with Malefic Grasp being over a 20% DPS increase as a single talent. Generally, we aim for talent tiers to be more in the 5-10% range. Very high values can both have distortive effects on the spec and make it hard to balance other talents on the same tier.

That all said, in the next PTR patch, changes you should see are:
  • All Affliction damage done increased by 15%
  • Malefic Grasp will go down to a +25% damage increase (down from +70% on live)
  • Writhe in Agony will be reduced to increase Agony’s max stacks by +5 (down from +10 on live)
  • Haunt will stay as it currently is on PTR

Based on our numbers, 1) this 15% damage buff negates the 70%->25% reduction to Malefic Grasp, coming out as neutral change DPS-wise for Affliction Warlocks using Malefic Grasp going from 7.2->7.2.5 and 2) brings the relative balance of the Level 15 talent tier much closer to each other. As usual, the numbers may change during PTR according to further playtesting and feedback.

As a footnote, the most recent PTR patch with the current reduction to Malefic Grasp from 70%->40% that came with no other explanation or indication that further changes (compensatory buffs to the baseline spec, further relevant talent adjustments) were coming wasn’t ideal and we’ll try to be more mindful of that in future PTR cycles.
The problem is Seph, that Haunt cannot compete with Unstable Affliction as long as there's a soul shard tied to it. It's why Afflocks will never take Grimoire of Service, since soul shards do not regenerate consistently or frequently enough to compensate for having three different cooldowns (doomguard, service, haunt) and one primary spender (UA) using the same limited resource system.

I mean, nobody took Haunt even when it was buffed in 7.2, and the clear winner after MG was still Writhe in Agony; that was when Haunt just cost mana. The felhunter is meant to be the Affliction pet of choice, but other than some limited use in the challenge trial, no Afflock runs Service, because Service competes with Unstable Affliction. The usual Afflock rotation with MG is to dump two UAs + drain, rinse and repeat. With WiA, you dump 4 - 5 UAs.

TL, DR; as long as cooldowns use soul shards, they're never going to be used since they compete with Unstable Affliction. I don't think the devs understand that UA is by far our strongest DoT, and other SS spenders just can't compete.

You also still haven't addressed the elephant that is the level 100 talent choice. Effigy is still terribly clunky, Soul Conduit's nerf means that Affliction's resource regeneration is even more limited, and who uses Phantom Singularity?

Also, with regard to multidotting, it's become more difficult, considering the limited DoT durations compared to Shadow Priests. The T20 bonus isn't conductive to multidotting either.
In Yipz's video he contends that Affliction damage is out of control in the NH because of the interaction between add spawns and Reap / Wrath of Consumption as well as very strong set bonuses. He argues that in ToS the benefit from Reap / WoC from add spawns will be much lower and obviously we'll replace the T19 set bonuses. He concludes in saying that a nerf to WoC is probably what needs to happen rather than nerfing Malefic grasp.

However I think that Yipz has missed the point of this nerf. I don't think that this nerf is in response to Afflictions current performance in the Nighthold. I think that Warlocks are under a microscope right now and Blizzard has demonstrated that they will nerf any talent that is always or almost always used for any situation and buff the alternatives to promote 'diversity' in builds.

Blizzard has a history of making sweeping changes that are unwarranted, or at least they're viewed strongly as unwarrented by the community. This includes buffs as well as nerfs. If you don't agree with this statement I encourage you to go back and look at the countless examples where a class or spec has been very strong and instead of being nerfed back towards the middle are instead nerfed to the bottom, or buffed to the top when underperforming.

In this case nerfing MG to 40% is over the top. I encourage any developer who might read this to consider making smaller changes incrementally than making big sweeping changes less often. It's a better way to balance, and one that is much more well received by the community.

As I said I believe this change is just about breaking the current meta to promote choice and diversity, however Yipz does make a good point regarding changing the playstyle. By nerfing MG and buffing Haunt, affliction warlocks will have to significantly alter their playstyle. I think Blizzard is perhaps a bit unrealistic in their goals of making all talents equal. This is especially true with you consider talents like MG or Haunt which are damage increasing talents that fundamentally change how the class is played. It's not fun to be constantly ping ponging between playstyles while the developers chase a unicorn in class design. Players want to find a class they enjoy, and invest time into becoming good at it without the proverbial rug being pulled out from under them. This is a more important thing to consider from a game design perspective than attempting to do the impossible.

That all said, in the next PTR patch, changes you should see are:
All Affliction damage done increased by 15%
Malefic Grasp will go down to a +25% damage increase (down from +70% on live)
Writhe in Agony will be reduced to increase Agony’s max stacks by +5 (down from +10 on live)
Haunt will stay as it currently is on PTR


I'm please to see that Blizzard are planning to address this. For me, the fact that Aff's damage might have been going down wasn't the major concern, even though I think that nerfing MG wasn't the best way to achieve this. I'm concerned about the ever changing play style.

A trend that has emerged over the years is that warlocks often are required to change their spec and / or playstlyle every raid teir if they want to be competitive. Is this something that Blizzard could keep in mind going forward? I think a lot of people are a bit burned out by having to do this all the time, even experienced and seasoned players.
I doubt they don't know UA is the strongest dot; it's probably more just that they want to exhaust every other possibility to make multiple soul shard spenders work.

In theory it's not outside the realm of possibility. For instance, in an extreme example, if haunt did 100,000,000,000,000% more damage than UA the talent would be worth it. So there is some theoretical point in tuning in which it would be a competitive but not OP talent.
Thank you for taking the time to post this. At least we can focus the discussion from here.

Hopefully you guys at some point can speak to SC and SE also. Is it worth keeping a talent (SE) that (seemingly) very few warlocks enjoy? Is there another way we can fill that row out with SC and PS? What about a talent that increases dot durations by a few seconds?
On trying to analyze how the ToS fights will interact with Affliction's mechanics, Specifically Wrath of consumption, I don't think that's a great idea at this point because TBH, it depends on the difficulties of the fights.

For instance, Skorpyron and Trilliax don't really matter compared to say Star Augur and Gul'dan.

Need to see which of the fights are actually hard since some of the fights it appears Wrath can be abused and others are pure ST.
04/19/2017 06:25 PMPosted by Seph

That all said, in the next PTR patch, changes you should see are:
  • All Affliction damage done increased by 15%
  • Malefic Grasp will go down to a +25% damage increase (down from +70% on live)
  • Writhe in Agony will be reduced to increase Agony’s max stacks by +5 (down from +10 on live)
  • Haunt will stay as it currently is on PTR

Based on our numbers, 1) this 15% damage buff negates the 70%->25% reduction to Malefic Grasp, coming out as neutral change DPS-wise for Affliction Warlocks using Malefic Grasp going from 7.2->7.2.5 and 2) brings the relative balance of the Level 15 talent tier much closer to each other. As usual, the numbers may change during PTR according to further playtesting and feedback.

[/quote]

ok well that sounds better if our dots are hitting harder all to gather then i can take the mg nerf a lot better smooth dps from aff is more logical then "high and low" point around mg up time

thanks for hearing us out
What I'm really concerned about still is that the Tomb of Sargeras tier sets heavily favor the use of Malefic Grasp, regardless of any reworks/buffs to WiA or Haunt.

Will there be any changes planned for the sets, or should we expect that to remain the same?

Otherwise, I'm perfectly fine with the nerf to MG. I personally don't favor it as a playstyle.
04/19/2017 07:11 PMPosted by Cîaran
Will tier sets be changed so that MG doesn't continue to pull ahead of the other 2 in all circumstances?

This would be good to know. It's actually quite worrying how you're staying silent about our tier.
04/19/2017 06:25 PMPosted by Seph
Hi Affliction Warlocks. Thanks for the posts and feedback so far. I'd like to talk a bit about the change to Malefic Grasp. In general, we agree that communication is warranted since we changed/nerfed a widely taken talent.

Malefic Grasp is very powerful on live. With the current state of Affliction, the talent is taken on virtually every situation in Nighthold, from single-target to sustained multi-target boss fights. There are things about Affliction that we’re not entirely happy with, many of which the community has echoed, and the current feel of Affliction being a single-target spec that focuses its damage into one target rather than spreads its damage out over many targets more evenly, is generally one of them. Malefic Grasp at a high tuning value is a heavy contributor to that. It’s not ideal that even on a sustained multi-target fight right now, Malefic Grasp wins out over Writhe in Agony on the same row, when at first glance Writhe in Agony looks like it should be the go-to talent for sustained multi-target since its benefit scales up uniformly per additional target whereas Malefic Grasp reads as a single-target talent.

Separately, we want to allow Haunt to be a viable Soul Shard spender talent. We’ve heard this from players and also want a Soul Shard spender other than Unstable Affliction in single-target situations. Ways to make Haunt as a Soul Shard spender competitive with a Malefic Grasp at the live value of 70% include dramatically increasing its instant nuke damage, drastically increasing its damage bonus %, or reducing its cooldown further – none of which would feel right on Affliction for a variety of reasons.

Lastly, Affliction’s first talent tier is a really high-power talent tier compared to most talent tiers we have, with Malefic Grasp being over a 20% DPS increase as a single talent. Generally, we aim for talent tiers to be more in the 5-10% range. Very high values can both have distortive effects on the spec and make it hard to balance other talents on the same tier.

That all said, in the next PTR patch, changes you should see are:
  • All Affliction damage done increased by 15%
  • Malefic Grasp will go down to a +25% damage increase (down from +70% on live)
  • Writhe in Agony will be reduced to increase Agony’s max stacks by +5 (down from +10 on live)
  • Haunt will stay as it currently is on PTR

Based on our numbers, 1) this 15% damage buff negates the 70%->25% reduction to Malefic Grasp, coming out as neutral change DPS-wise for Affliction Warlocks using Malefic Grasp going from 7.2->7.2.5 and 2) brings the relative balance of the Level 15 talent tier much closer to each other. As usual, the numbers may change during PTR according to further playtesting and feedback.

As a footnote, the most recent PTR patch with the current reduction to Malefic Grasp from 70%->40% that came with no other explanation or indication that further changes (compensatory buffs to the baseline spec, further relevant talent adjustments) were coming wasn’t ideal and we’ll try to be more mindful of that in future PTR cycles.


can you also give us an alternative to effigy? I really hate it and I hate it more because it's required or it's a dps loss
This is likely (indirectly) going to push us right back to using Soul Effigy. And I, like a large portion of the community, HATE using Soul Effigy. I can't tell you how happy I was in 7.1.5 solely because Soul Effigy was no longer optimal.

For me, the MG tunnel spec is FUN. I feel strong, and I feel in control of my burst. I like picking up WoC charges from adds and using them to funnel a crapload of damage into the boss. When I drain with MG and a few UAs up, after stacking WoC, I feel like I am blasting the ever-living crap out of the boss.

With Soul Effigy, I'm thinking, "Oh, my DoTs are ticking harder for a little while. Wheee..." The Soul Effigy builds are honestly just a nightmare of un-fun busywork, and I categorically do not want to return to that.
I am becoming very tired of having to relearn my spec every time a patch comes out. In Emerald Nightmare, Affliction was very average which was only improved with MG. Now that we finally have a chance to compete in DPS and we are comfortable in our 'rotation' it is changed once again.

I am usually not someone that shouts that the sky is falling and tend to give the devs the benefit of the doubt but it is becoming obvious that they don't know what to do with Warlocks and are throwing things at the wall and seeing if it sticks. That's great if you want to try things but it's the players that have their classes buff and wane like a rollercoaster. It isn't fun, it is frustrating instead.

I really hope this change doesn't make live. It is really not a great idea, particularly in Tomb with its lack of adds to cheese the meters with like we can in NH.
a widely taken talent.

the current feel of Affliction being a single-target spec that focuses its damage into one target rather than spreads its damage out over many targets more evenly, is generally one of them.

Separately, we want to allow Haunt to be a viable Soul Shard spender talent. We’ve heard this from players and also want a Soul Shard spender other than Unstable Affliction in single-target situations.

Lastly, Affliction’s first talent tier is a really high-power talent tier compared to most talent tiers we have, with Malefic Grasp being over a 20% DPS increase as a single talent. Generally, we aim for talent tiers to be more in the 5-10% range. Very high values can both have distortive effects on the spec and make it hard to balance other talents on the same tier.


highlighted are issues.

    1
If it is so widely taken...make it baseline or buff others :|

Stop the nerf nerf nerf. and buff/rework others to make them worth taking.

    2
So aff should be best at multi target fights but sub-par at single target is what that statement says :|
With the global cooldown so high tossing DoTs (3 or so if u take life siphon talent) at every target isnt do-able properly as u will have old DoT's wear off before you can get all them on every target. (just doing CoA, Cor, and siphon on main target and effigy has dots about wear off)

    3
Haunt will not be viable spender. Our Artifact buffs UA not haunt. Unless you include Haunt to benefit from UA's traits (like the chance to re-apply itself) it is not gonna be worth it.

    4
3/4 of all Warlock specs talents use to be baseline. There are "must have" in basically every 1st tier across all three specs. If MG is an issue at a 100% 70% dmg increase add an internal cooldown so it isnt always giving the boost (or have it start high and each tick lowers the damage bonus (this would also go well with T20's full channel requirement)

TBH Blizzards views of what each spec should be good in is impossible in the game atm.

Your content is basically Single boss or two bosses.

so ST and 2target cleave (which apparently dont fit DEV's views for aff) mean the spec has no real use if it cant have good ST dmg and has have mroe spread out damage across multiple targets.
04/19/2017 06:25 PMPosted by Seph
Based on our numbers, 1) this 15% damage buff negates the 70%->25% reduction to Malefic Grasp, coming out as neutral change DPS-wise for Affliction Warlocks using Malefic Grasp going from 7.2->7.2.5


I'm happy that this is the intention, but I don't follow the math.

Very roughly assuming approximately 80% of our non-pet damage is during Malefic Grasp (not overall uptime, but % of our damage (mostly UA) covered by MG), the math looks like this:

Live: 1.0 (full damage potential) x 0.8 (percent of damage buffed by MG) x 1.7 (MG multiplier) + 1.0 x 0.2 (percent of damage unbuffed by MG) = 1.56

These changes: 1.15 (15% buff to all damage) x 0.8 x 1.25 (new MG multiplier) + 1.15 x 0.2 = 1.38

1.56 - 1.38 = 0.18
0.18 / 1.56 = 11.5% nerf

If you assume a higher MG coverage, then the nerf is more severe. The reverse is also true. Even at 60% MG coverage (seems low) it is still a 6.9% nerf.

I hope Blizzard will keep an eye on these numbers.

I also wanted to say that I agree that Soul Effigy is not a user friendly talent. Frequently, we're out of range of the thing, it despawns (hello Tich), and it requires us to dedicate our focus target to it. With the upcoming loss of the T19 4p bonus and the nerf to Soul Conduit (and the niche usage of Phantom Singularity), it seems like we're being pushed toward Effigy whether we want to or not, if for no other reason than to increase shard generation. Some months ago, I believe we were told that Effigy was on the list of mechanics to be revamped. Can we get an update on that?

We were also told that the Tier 20 bonuses would be reviewed. Any progress on that? They encourage a very specific (read: Drain Soul focused) play style that runs counter to many talent options (multidotting with WiA, Soul Effigy), and thus devalues them significantly.
Please don't force us into soul effigy again, please please please....
I like the changes (even tho is a huge nerf) I hate the turret playstyle but please developers, we don't want to use soul effigy.

That talent is horrible for us :l
So Haunt is the new MG but without tunnel draining, WIA is probably viable, MG is mathematically useless. Ok, works for me, but T20 set bonuses are garbage tier, tbh.

Getting a minor haste buff for only 5sec after standing still and doing nothing for 5sec sounds extremely tedious. Are you also planning to nerf T19 to the ground?
Ok, i have one big problem with this class that isn't being addressed and should probably be it's own topic based on artifacts.

I have played my lock since vanilla because I enjoy the class and it's lore. I shouldn't have to be forced to play a single dps class like a demon hunter to be able to stick to one spec. The current design of artifacts and AP is a huge hindrance to multispecs.

Back to Warlocks, i shouldn't have to play demo for best ST damage, Aff for best AoE, and destro for 2T cleave. I personally don't have the time to max out 3 weapons. It's especially unfair that no matter the dps role, demon hunters only need 1 weapon.

Where is the harm in letting ap affect all 3 weapons equally? You can only play 1 spec at a time.

Id really have no issue with forcing a spec to fit a certain role if it were this way. However, because it does not, all 3specs should have tools in their kits that allow them to perform reletively equally, allowing spec to be more of a personal preference or asthetics.

Don't get me wrong, i like how each spec used to fit a specific role as it made them feel dynamic compared to each other. It's just that the current AP system disrupts that greatly unless you do nothing but farm ap day and night.
Edit: I'll be good and keep my opinion to myself.
04/19/2017 07:38 PMPosted by Zanerok
Please don't force us into soul effigy again, please please please....
I like the changes (even tho is a huge nerf) I hate the turret playstyle but please developers, we don't want to use soul effigy.

That talent is horrible for us :l


I like soul effigy. Time to get out your torches and pitchforks.
Seph, I understand where you guys are coming from, but Blizzard seems to be hyper-focused on what they want to happen vs. what actually happens. For example, you seem to want Aff to be a spec that spreads dots around, and plays 'watch the timers' on multiple enemies. The reality is, with the low times our dots actually last, we can't do that.

Our longest lasting dot without using Absolute Corruption lasts all of 18 seconds. Eight. Teen. Seconds. We can keep up dots on two targets most of the time, three if we sacrifice ever casting Siphon Life, or using Drain Soul, but it is frantic. Our spells last such a short time, with so much of our damage packed into a spell that Blizzard decided to totally repurpose for Legion in Unstable Affliction, that I'm usually better off sucking up damage instead of moving during raid boss fights, because if I move instead of keeping UA up, my damage plummets. What you think we do versus what we actually do is pretty sobering.

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