DPS and HPS Cooldowns on the GCD

Battle for Azeroth Alpha General Discussion
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Hi All,

I wanted to provide feedback on a change that went out in today's build (26297).

All DPS and HPS cooldowns are now on the GCD. This includes WIngs and Seraphim for Paladins, Trueshot for Hunters, Battlecry for Warrior, etc. to name a few. This appears to be a change that affects every class.

This is a bad change because its very awkward and I urge Blizzard to revert this. I spent some time on a Paladin today on Alpha and it felt super strange to hit Wings or Sera when I wanted too without them activating. I was usually was in the middle of a GCD and had to keep mashing my keybind so it would activate as soon it could. WoW has a very responsive combat system so when I hit an ability like this, I would like it to trigger at the time of the initial button press, not when the next GCD is open. If defensive cooldowns like Ardent Defender are still off the GCD, then their burst damage/healing counterparts should also be off the GCD as a matter of balance and consistency.

I can only imagine how this feels for classes and specs that depend on their CDs more heavily like a Mage. If you play one of these classes or specs, please speak up. :)
Insofar as them not going off because they are no longer off the GCD, that is just a matter of being used to them being off the GCD. You could say the same of any ability, if you hit divine storm too early into a GCD and move on with your rotation assuming it had gone off, you'd skip that too.

I'd also say that they defensive abilities have a much greater need to be off the GCD than offensive ones. I wouldn't compare them directly like that. A defensive ability that you have to wait a second on for the GCD can easily result in you being a corpse when otherwise you would live. An offensive cooldown on the GCD, in the end, mostly reduces the effective duration of the cooldown a bit. The absolute necessity of defensive cooldowns being immediate is why defensive cooldowns with damage components are still off the GCD even though it is rare for anything that directly does damage to be off the GCD, like shield of the righteous.

All that said, assuming this isn't just a random unintended quirk in an alpha build, I can sort of see what they might be going for but I don't think it is the right decision still. I can imagine they are trying to mitigate the sort of gameplay where you just stack like three cooldowns and a use trinket, and the multiplicative effects make it so that, depending on exactly what the cooldowns of the abilities are, effectively make them a single ability because you pretty much only use them together. If they are used in sequence, chaining them together like that might eat up a lot of the duration of some of them without you actually having used it for anything yet. Maybe then it would be best to use them separately rather than all at once. Or even if you still used them all at once the extreme burst that can come out of cooldown stacking would still be mitigated by all the "empty" GCDs.

But in the end, it'd probably still be better to use them all at once, and if they really, really wanted to stop people from just stacking them all, then they could just go the route of having offensive cooldowns put other offensive cooldowns on CD until the ability expires. I think that would still be fairly awkward, but a bit less awkward than them being on the GCD still.

If cooldown stacking is determined to be degenerate in some cases, I think solutions targeted for those cases would be better than this sort of blanket change. Certainly prot paladins weren't really an issue with offensive cooldown stacking, afterall the only have 1 baseline, and (kind of) a second talented in seraphim. The fact that bloodbath and battlecry are effectively one ability for fury as it stands might be considered problematic for example (taking an active ability talent should require deliberate change in playstyle in some fashion, not adding a line to a macro), but I don't think it is so dire as to warrant this sort of change.
I'm indifferent.

As a long time unholy dk my primary dps cooldown, summon gargoyle, has always been on the GCD. This discrepancy has lead many unholy death knights to request gary be removed from the GCD. Now it appears that blizzard is "fixing" the discrepancy, just not in the way we expected.

On the plus side it nerfs swifty macros, on the minus side waiting and a lack of responsiveness both suck.
03/23/2018 02:00 AMPosted by Weihu
I can imagine they are trying to mitigate the sort of gameplay where you just stack like three cooldowns and a use trinket, and the multiplicative effects make it so that, depending on exactly what the cooldowns of the abilities are, effectively make them a single ability because you pretty much only use them together.

This doesn't really stop stacking tho. I can use Wings and Seraphim at the same time. If they wanted to stop stacking, they should do what they do with some use trinkets and trigger a shared cooldown that would prevent using them at same time.

However, it does kill macros which I understand. Macros can simplify gameplay a lot and can kill any decision making in how to play even if its sub-optimal. I think there are better solutions to solve this problem than putting them on the GCD as regular abilities.
Thought it was just lag on my fury war, didn't even notice the GCD change but it makes things extremely clunky for a class like that which has several short cooldowns like that. This should def have been done on a class by class basis.
Thank you for the feedback. This set of changes reflects an experiment in the latest Alpha build. Some context and explanation follows.

The "global cooldown" was so named because it originally was nearly universal. In the early days of WoW, virtually all abilities were on the GCD, with some of the only exceptions being "on next swing" attacks like the old Heroic Strike and Maul, which didn't have an immediate effect when activated. For melee players especially, with mostly instant abilities, the global cooldown was the metronome that governed the rhythm and pacing of WoW combat, including the agile Rogue being able to act more quickly than others. But over the years, more and more abilities have been taken off the GCD, to the point that, depending on class, spec, and talent choice, it's possible in Legion for someone to have 10+ abilities in their spellbook that ignore the "global" cooldown.

Recently, we took a step back and surveyed the landscape of what did and didn't respect the GCD, looking to justify each of these decisions anew. This process is still ongoing, and further changes may come.

Aside from setting the overall pacing of combat, abilities being on the global cooldown can create potentially interesting choices: If you're in an arena match and are low on health being melee attacked, but so is your target on the enemy team, do you use your next GCD to try to finish off your opponent, or to get yourself out of harm's way? That's a nuanced decision, where a skilled and experienced player is more likely to intuitively make the right read of the situation. If your defensive/escape tool is off the GCD, then there is no decision: You simply do both.

But on the other hand, taking something off the GCD improves responsiveness, and opens up avenues of reactive gameplay. Until Wrath of the Lich King, most spell interrupts were on the global cooldown. Back then, someone tasked with interrupting a boss (Reliquary of Souls in Black Temple was notorious in this regard) would often stop using any abilities at all when it was their turn in the rotation, lest they find themselves on cooldown and unable to interrupt. That's technically a decision, but more of a nuisance than a satisfying choice. Similarly, trying to use Lay on Hands to save the day in response to a sudden dip in your tank's health, only to have the spell fail to cast because you'd executed a standard part of your rotation a half-second prior, simply felt bad. We have no plans to put either of those abilities back on the GCD.

This brings us to a broad category of abilities that are off the GCD in Legion: Offensive burst cooldowns. These are almost always pre-planned and not generally used in response to an unexpected situation. With them off the GCD, talenting into such abilities often just becomes a matter of adding another line to a burst macro without any additional gameplay as a result. In endgame raid and dungeon situations, stacking all possible cooldowns has an outsized impact on someone’s total performance, while in PvP, the fact that major damage amplifiers can be applied simultaneously with an outgoing damage ability (e.g. Battle Cry/Recklessness -> Avatar -> Mortal Strike) heavily limits counterplay and makes worst-case burst damage more severe.

Thus, we're putting most activated offensive cooldowns, along with On Use offensive trinkets, back on the GCD. We will tune these effects around this change (see, for example, the increase to the duration of Recklessness in the latest Alpha build). Abilities like the Elemental shaman's Stormkeeper have demonstrated that an offensive cooldown that takes the place of another spell (and even has a cast time) can still feel very potent.

Finally, while we wouldn't make a gameplay change solely for this reason, there is some additional upside to being able to better telegraph the activation of a major cooldown via animation and visuals. For example, Battle Cry/Recklessness has a warcry animation associated with it, but in practice that visual is virtually never seen, since it's usually overriden by an attack animation milliseconds later.

When you're used to a specific ability being off the GCD, there is some learned muscle memory that will make for a jarring experience when that changes. Or abilities that have always been macroed together may now need to be split out into two separate keybinds. Thus, we realize that initial reactions to the change are likely to be mixed at best. But we're making these changes with an eye towards long-term improvement to the pacing and feel of combat, as outlined above.

Please play around with these changes, and let us know what you think: Are there any specific offensive cooldowns that we've changed in this build that feel especially bad? Are there any abilities that are still off the GCD but don't need to be?
I think this change is just going to make combat feel slower and less dynamic, what is it with you guys and feeling the need to remove things or change things for the worst as we move forward rather than making things cooler or adding new stuff?
Personally, I'm fine with this. What watcher says here makes sense.
I just wish my affliction warlock had a CD to begin with ^^.
Oh no. I can hear it now in the distance: "PVP IS RUINING PVE!!!"

Of course I'll say good change as I PVP and PVE. Now it shouldn't feel that bad holding onto globals so I have the opportunity to use a defensive.

Ok Blizzard, you're actually going too far with this now.
I understand the reasons for this change. I can live with that. But can Bloodlust be exluded? Categorically it's more raid utility than a damage cooldown (though its utility is damage). I'm not going to say it's unfair that I must use a GCD to buff the raid while no one else has to (I've sacrificed more than a GCD collecting orbs on Argus) but it can be problematic when the only capable person with Bloodlust is a Resto Shaman who, given the right conditions, must choose to use the GCD for Bloodlust or spend GCDs to keep people alive.
While I'm sure this change will anger DPS players because "MAH DEEPS BRO" (and I haven't tried it out myself yet, but might tonight a little), I don't have a problem with it in theory.

The only abilities that need to be off the GCD are abilities that *need* to be off the GCD.
This isn't a bad idea. I don't currently macro Battle Cry and Avatar together because there are a couple good reasons not to, but part of me is always tempted to do so because 95% of the time it would make life so much simpler. It's excessive how much stuff is off the GCD and how reliant we've become on macros.

Maybe you should try putting DPS potions on the GCD as well (please don't anyone hurt me for making this suggestion).

That said, two issues come to mind. One, I like this idea in theory but I have to see if I can actually get used to how it feels in-game. Two, I don't like the idea of putting mobility on the GCD. When I play Ret it takes two GCD's, Steed and Freedom, to move anywhere and it feels awful.
I think this will be a nice change for pvp for sure, it'll be nice to have a second to dispel some of these buffs before getting laid into with their full effect. I think it's going to introduce some nice counterplay to the heavy burst game which is nice. Especially since pvp is going to be a lot more popular this coming expansion hopefully!
03/23/2018 12:11 PMPosted by Rudezilla
But can Bloodlust be exluded?

BL should be excluded since it's not even usable in PVP and no one should suffer from a GCD for giving everyone a CD.

Only the honour talent, if it still exists in BFA, should have a GCD.
03/23/2018 12:22 PMPosted by Felryn
Only the honour talent, if it still exists in BFA, should have a GCD.

I agree with this.
Something just came to mind. What if you're a class with two cooldowns and an on-use trinket -- are you supposed to spend three GCD's to set up your burst? That actually sounds pretty awful and I'm not sure I could ever get used to it. I think part of the problem is classes having multiple cooldowns. When Avenging Wrath was first introduced it felt special because burst cooldowns weren't as common back then, and now we have individual classes with two or more.

Getting back to warriors, Avatar makes sense for Arms now that Colossus Smash is their cooldown and it's an attack. Doesn't feel so bad. But for Fury, maybe Avatar should enhance Battle Cry rather than be a separate ability.
03/23/2018 12:25 PMPosted by Churchmouse
Something just came to mind. What if you're a class with two cooldowns and an on-use trinket -- are you supposed to spend three GCD's to set up your burst?

Either A) yes, or B) then don't use them at the same time. Maybe the math will show staggering them for better sustained comes out to be higher dps given the GCD requirement.
03/23/2018 11:34 AMPosted by Watcher
Please play around with these changes, and let us know what you think: Are there any specific offensive cooldowns that we've changed in this build that feel especially bad? Are there any abilities that are still off the GCD but don't need to be?

Having Combustion the GCD is extremely detrimental to Fire. I know that most people will say this about their own classes, but Fire in Legion is heavily based about getting a legendary bracer proc, and then hitting Combustion as that cast finishes to "sneak" it in. I'm not a fan of that legendary item and would love to see the whole concept flushed, BUT the proc has been made into a level 100 talent. Not being able to lead Combustion off with a hardcast pyro is going to hurt a lot and will require some definite retuning. In addition, its one of the little mechanics that differentiates good mages from bad, so it's a direct hit to our spec's complexity, which is something our spec is severely lacking.
It feels incredibly clunky with Battlecry due to how it is usually used for Fury. Keeping Avatar on GCD and bringing Battlecry back off would feel far batter.
I like the idea of this in general, but when choosing what things come onto the GCD please keep in mind the benefit of macros to reduce unwanted complexity. Namely racial throughput traits. I've had Blood Fury in macros for so long I forget I have it some times, and unlike Avatar I cannot opt out of my racial for a passive alternative (short of a race change which seems like a Bit Much to ask).

In this same vein, I am not pleased about the idea of trinkets being on GCD. You can't always choose your best gear and macros will let you get at least some value out of them when you really don't want that extra button to push. That said, Legion has done a good job of getting away from "on use, +X Agi for 20 seconds" at least in raid trinkets. If the trinkets are at least marginally engaging like Vial of Ceasless Toxins or Draught of Souls (just... anything but a boring buff for a duration), then I won't feel so bad being forced to engage with those trinkets as a separate keybind.

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