Cata to Mists Beta – Initial Class Impressions (Part Two)

This is a continuation of the previous post looking at the remaining five classes. I’ll cover the Monk class in a separate post. Anyway, now this overview is done, and I’ve got a feel for how the classes are in Mists, I’ll look at specific classes in more detail.

Death Knight
– Blood
There seems to be a few new cd’s to me. I don’t know if they are becoming available from other specs (I’ve only ever played blood) or are just new. We lost Death Pact but can get it back through a talent. Aside from that I’ve managed to lay out my buttons the same way as on live, the abilities seem to be the same. One difference I’ve noticed (but don’t understand) is that there is a number, like a number of charges or something on Death Strike. I went and took on that pack of 3 level 90’s and I managed to kill one and almost kill the second one. This was using a premade dk and I think gear would have made the difference, not to mention OmniCC to better see when I could use abilities. I don’t think I made the best use of my cooldowns. However, blood feels much like it does on live which puts it in a good place.

– Frost
I’ve been blood only on my dk on live so this experiment is the first time I’ve touched this spec. It’s certainly quite effective. I pulled quite a few large groups of level 87 mobs as a level 86 premade and didn’t have that much trouble. There was a couple of occasions where I was standing there unable to do anything as I needed runes/rune power. However, I got the feeling that if I knew the spec better those occasions wouldn’t occur like they did. This class has the advantage of being a hybrid so I still have access to Death Strike and a couple of cd’s that I’m familiar with from Blood. This spec kept my hopping with the constant procs and lit up buttons. I’ve not played it on live so I can’t comment as to changes but the flow isn’t bad on beta. I think familiarity would solve the one or two issues I do have with it, aside from that it feels appropriately powerful.

– Unholy
Like with Frost I’ve not played this spec before. It feels like a pet based spec like the Hunter class. I pulled a couple of mobs before I summoned the ghoul and it was a lot slower without the ghoul. With the Frost spec I didn’t feel really like I was constrained by my runes so not having Rune Strike (which I’m used to as Blood) didn’t feel odd. However, this spec feels very dependant on the Unholy runes and not being able to refresh them meant I was hitting what was available (often nothing) and it felt very clunky, didn’t flow well at all. Maybe if I was able to watch the cooldowns better (I do love OmniCC) I’d get on with this spec better. The death knight class is very priority based and the rune system is hard to get right. Even with Blood which I know reasonably well I sometimes feel like I’m a little at sea, well with this spec I feel like I’m groping around in the dark. Time and training would likely fix that but this is about initial impressions and they aren’t good on this score.

– Death Knight Conclusion
Blood thankfully doesn’t seem to have changed much, which is good as there wasn’t anything wrong with it. Frost seems like an interesting possibility should I wish to explore dps on the dk and unholy is it’s ugly twin. That means I’ve checked out all four of the current classes that can tank, and with the exception of the druid class, they are looking ok. Of course I wasn’t tanking in this initial assessment, rather just attacking groups of mobs, but you get a feel for these things. Death Knights were amazing tanks in Cata, pretty much mandatory for Dragon Soul. I don’t know whether they will continue to rule the roost but death knight tanks won’t have to relearn their skills from scratch anyway.

– Shadow
I am awful at Shadow, completely useless. I’ve had some very patient tuition and advice from the guilds awesome shadow priest to no avail. That was on live though so as with all the other classes I’m experimenting on beta. As with the other squishy classes I took it to the dummies to see what it was like without having to corpse run all the time (I’m not high on confidence when it comes to shadow). It went a lot better than my attempts on live, a lot, lot better. Like with boomkin my mana hardly seemed to dip at all (in stark contrast to trying out mage on beta) and I threw spells at the dummy for quite some time and had full mana throughout practically. So I decided to brave some real mobs and see how I did. I could only take on one mob at a time but I managed to kill it before it got me below 50% health, which is very different from live where I died before making any kind of dent in the mobs health. I found that I could kill 4 mobs in a row before I needed to eat/heal up. I’m not sure what the changes are but it seems a little more accessible now. However, I am the only one I know with such severe problems with current shadow priests, so perhaps not.

– Priest Conclusion
Priests only have one true offensive spec. I suppose a skilled disc priest might disagree but Shadow is the only official dps spec so that’s what I experimented with. As I’ve noted elsewhere I’m not fond of squishy classes and priests are a cloth wearing class. Still I managed to kill mobs, which mean that if I do decide to level my priest up to cap in Mists, then I’ll be able to quest a little in between waiting to heal in the dungeon finder. As that’s all I personally would want from the spec, that seems pretty good to me.

– Combat
I am the self admitted worst rogue in the world so going into this experiment I wasn’t expecting much. Combat is the spec that my rogue uses on live so that’s what I started off with. A nice surprise is that you don’t have to buy and have poisons in your inventory anymore. Instead you get like a spell for them and there’s a new spell Shiv that interacts with these. Anyway, I took the rogue out to beat on some mobs and was actually pleasantly surprised. My major complaint has always been that I’m forever energy starved. Well, that’s not how it’s flowing on beta. I have enough energy to hit a button almost every global cd. I actually think this might be the biggest change I’ve seen on beta, it’s such a turn around in my experience.

– Assassination
I’ve only ever touched Combat so this spec is new to me. To a point I found it slightly more effective than Combat. It feels like it did more damage and the mobs went down faster. However, the main attack Mutilate is an energy hog so occasionally it was like Combat on live, stuck with no buttons to press. That didn’t occur all that often as this spec generates combo points a lot faster. On balance I’d say it was down to preference and in many ways I like this spec more than Combat. Whether that’s down to Combat being familiar and having negative connotations in my mind is a possibility. Still if it’s viable it could be a good way to start fresh in Mists, away from the problems of the past.

– Subtlety
Like Assassination I’ve not touched this spec before. I must admit that I assumed before hand that it wouldn’t feel viable for levelling purposes. Backstab is listed as a principle ability but if you’re the one getting attacked you can’t use it. However, when I went and beat on some mobs I found the spec wasn’t just viable it was perhaps the best yet. I don’t know what synergy of abilities caused it but I either had some kind of damage immunity or I was getting healed. Either way my health didn’t take a beating like with the others. With this spec you could just keep on killing – no breaks required. It was a good mix of the two as well in that I had enough energy and the combo points quickly stacked up. Besides there’s something about the spec I find appealing, more rogue like.

– Rogue Conclusion
For the first time I can see why rogues are viable. If I was careful in keeping up Recuperate there would hardly be any down time and you can just merrily quest away. As this class doubles as my skinner (plus you kinda need rogues to open lockboxes) it’s a given that I’ll have to level it in Mists. I’m beyond relieved that there’s a chance it’ll prove to be acceptable rather than a nightmare. I surprised myself in finding it viable, I figured I was in for a lot of corpse running.

– Enhancement
I’ve got one of these on live but I’ve played it so little I might as well not have. The offensive abilities seem similar to what I have on live and they seem to do a reasonable amount of damage. I say reasonable in that I get the feeling I’ve killed mobs faster on other classes. My health also took a beating which is probably where the totems are supposed to come in as “short term situational benefits” but short term means complicated. Hopefully some genius will make a macro or something so I get to actually be a shaman – with totems. All told it’s similar enough to live but it’s not exactly exciting, maybe that’s what the totems are supposed to bring.

– Elemental
This is the first epic failure of a spec I’ve had. I managed to take maybe 10% of the mobs health before they killed me.  Then I realised that I was wearing agility gear and maybe that made a difference. Word to the wise from the idiot – it does. The mobs died quickly after this, really quickly if Lava Burst procced as it did. Given that Enhancement is supposed to be the melee spec you’d think that this would be less effective or that you’d take more punishment, well the reverse seems to be true. This was more effective against the mobs, extremely effective with procs. However, it’s sort of a 2 button show and you’re forever waiting for those two buttons to come off cd. It’s not exactly riveting play.

– Shaman Conclusion
The initial confusion I had was with totems, they don’t seem to be the same as on live and I don’t seem to be able to set all of them down at once. That was an ability that I loved once I had it as clicking on all of them was really annoying. Perhaps I’m missing the point but shamans and totems kinda go together and now I doubt I’ll summon them at all. What does that make me? Not exactly a shaman. I feel like the flavour of the class has gone. Combine that with the fact that neither spec felt like it flowed very well and I was frankly bored. Perhaps this is why I don’t play my shaman on live? I don’t know but this class has lost something and I love the idea of shamans so I hope it comes back.

– Destruction
One word – powerful. The numbers that were popping up were crazy. I was regularly getting 18k and then I was having 30k, 70k! crits. The levelling mobs were going down like flies. I’ve messed around with a warlock before so I knew about Soul Shards. However, these aren’t Soul Shards they’re Burning Embers. I thought they’d behave a bit like Holy Power, when you use an ability that generates Burning Embers then you’d get one for one kinda deal. It doesn’t work like that. I had to cast the generating spells 10x and had killed 2 mobs before I had one ember. However the Chaos Bolt, which uses one ember, does hit for about 80k. It’s really not something you’ll use while levelling at all unless you kill a lot of mobs in succession. Like Holy Power the Burning Embers decay if they aren’t used. I would have a bit of confusion about what to cast if the mobs weren’t dying so fast. I mostly cast Incinerate unless Conflagrate is up. I’ll cast Fel Flame to keep Immolate debuff up sometimes too. On the whole powerful sums it up, like a hot knife through butter.

– Affliction
This spec feels more familiar to what I’ve seen on live. On live I have a level 40 something Destruction warlock and this feels a lot more like that. You get to use the abilities that operate off the second power source (Soul Shards) a lot more here. You start off with 3 and when killing levelling mobs you’ll only ever be able to use one or gain one. There’s a lot of channelled spells with this spec, which go in the opposite way of casting ones. They do pop up a lot of nice numbers but I don’t know it just doesn’t feel as fun as Destruction did. Destruction felt like all fire and brimstone, and warlocks and fire just go together in my mind. There was more doing as well I suppose even if it was just pressing one button, watching a spell being channelled might do dps but you’re not doing anything.

– Demonology
The best word I can think of to describe this spec is interesting. Like with Destruction you have yet another different secondary resource – Demonic Fury – and it takes a while to ramp up. I killed five mobs before the bar was full and I hit Metamorphosis which changed my action bar and left me without a clue. I’m completely new to this class so I used the Core abilities tab to give me a starting point. Now I know that’s just a basic starting point but it mentions enough to say hit Metamorphosis, it just doesn’t give you any clue what to do once you’ve done it. Now some clever soul when this is released will put out a nice guide and so maybe because this is so different it would be best. However, for your average levelling idiot it’s a bit too complex. Mobs die ok but you don’t really know why. Oh you also get extra minions, these little Wild Imps which confused me a lot. Thanks for the assist guys but a “hello I’m here to help” kinda introduction would have been nice.

– Warlock Conclusion
I’m a complete warlock novice. My warlock on live is level 40 something and I barely touch it because nothing dies when I hit it. This is a common problem for me that I’ve had in other classes, and when you die more than the mobs it’s not fun. Anyway, I suppose at level 86 if you can’t kill mobs you’d be in pretty big trouble. That being said Destruction feels insane which is really fun. It’s nice to feel like a god and that spec makes me feel powerful. Plus it does feel quite warlock like to me. I always think of warlocks as controlling the power of hell which is fire and Destruction feels very fiery. Affliction kills stuff ok, and is simple enough to get a handle on, I just didn’t like all the channelled spells. Demonology is too hard for me.

That covers all 10 existing classes and all their offensive specs. As I’ve mentioned a few places I only beat on levelling mobs so I can’t tell you how it performs in a group setting, or how it stacks up against other classes. This was all about how various specs felt while beating on levelling mobs, which lets face it is what we’re going to have to do with every single class to get to level cap. Shamans were the big disappointment in this set of classes. I want to like shamans, I think they’re cool, but both specs just didn’t do it for me. Rogues were a pleasant surprise, I don’t know if blizz have upped the regen rate for focus/energy across the board but they played a lot better here for me than on live. With how the warlock played I have a reason to level one now – who doesn’t like feeling uber powerful? All told not bad at all. Aside from mages which I mentioned last week I don’t think blizz has wrecked anything, they’ve also made things a lot better, or at least it feels like that on the initial impression.