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flavor of the month

February 1, 2009

No, I’m not really an ice cream fanatic. I’m really not into many sweets (except Omelettez) and my teeth have always been pretty cold-sensitive, so it’s certainly not my dessert of choice. No, this is more of the metaphorical flavor. See if you can follow this train of thought: Rogue, Warrior, Paladin, Druid, Warlock, Warrior, Hunter, Bright Wizard, Witch Elf, Engineer.

Don’t follow? Here’s a small time-line of the first seven, which are all related to WoW:

  • Before T2 was well farmed, this was it. There were classes and Rogues.
  • Around the time T2 was commonly farmed, Warriors began their pain-train style dominance of the game.
  • Around BC release (S1) another thing came into power. No one could kill them and with a good partner you could dominate anyone.
  • Look forward a little ways and Paladins have been nerfed, while everyone is now more durable, making attrition all the harder. The result? Druids in PVE gear kiting away, unable to be caught while providing fire-and-forget style heals.
  • Look forward a bit further and you see Warlocks begin their short dominance. Why? In the new ‘outlast’ world, a self-healing DoT bot did very well.
  • Warlocks dreams were crushed… why? Armor Penetration was added into the game. With no comparable scaling stat, melee now rip them up too fast to be outlasted.
  • Some mixed Hunter buffs, some minor changes in ‘flavor’ brings Hunter up. Can’t beat a 900 pound gorilla in a fight? Put it in a cage and point at it while it groans.

WAR doesn’t have anything as crucial, balance wise, as 2v2 arenas. It’s much easier to sum up the next three: Detonate, Kisses and… Grenades.


This is not a Cold Stone employee.

Meet Firetart… or Fire Tart if you prefer to read between the lines. I know I do. Is it really fair to call Engineer worth calling a flavor of the month? Redundancy aside, it depends on their level, I guess. Rank 1-4? Nah, not really much going on. Rank 5? A bit. Ranks 16 and up? Better believe it. Considering the day and a half of play it takes to make a rank 16 Engineer, that pretty much makes the answer a yes. At rank 5 you pick up Acid Bomb. At rank 16 you pick up Fragmentation Grenade. Don’t like your Bright Wizard post-Detonate nerf? Roll an Engineer. Don’t like 83 damage every 3 seconds in a 20 foot radius? How about 251 damage every 3 seconds in a 35 foot radius (baseline numbers, expect at least 170% of this)? Do you hate having to think out your spec? No problem, every talent and ability in The Grenadier is worth taking. Do you hate how people stack Elemental resists to the point that you can’t deal damage? Not to worry, your AOE DoTs also function as a massive reduction to their own element. Don’t like Detonate lasting shorter than its cool-down? Not to worry, you can keep three Fragmentation Grenades running at once as well as however many Acid Bombs as you may require.


...and this is not rocky road!

Is it really that bad? Depends on the map and the levels involved. If you’re in tier 2 and there is a rank 16+ Engineer in Mourkain who is not above all non-Engineers, you’ve found a bad player, or a bad match, or both. Found another lovely ‘zerg’ scenario, or any form of keep defense? Yes, it’s that bad… and worse. The issue is that this form of damage is a force multiplier. Rank 16 Engineers, upon first getting Fragmentation Grenade, are capable of putting out ~105 DPS over a 20 foot range. At rank 17 the damage is unchanged, but the range is extended to 35 feet. Note that to do this you must be exposed to the enemy for a total of 2.4 seconds every 15 seconds or so. What makes this a force multiplier is the use of multiple Engineers. Let’s take a Scenario with 3 Engineers in it, all rank 16. You’re looking at a front line taking 315 DPS constantly. You require a rank 20 (or 21) DoK to cancel this out… if you have them, expect some astronomical numbers. The highest I saw was a DoK with 238,000 healing in about a ten minute match. They can cancel out the damage to their party, but it also means their healing is canceled out. This means any focus fire is essentially fighting a target who is not being healed. If you lack said AOE heal, you’re in a dire situation. Everyone must be kept with HoTs and the healers will be taken out of the match due to the inability to focus heal without allowing others to be killed due to AOE.

Why mention Engineer and not Magus? Well, that’s the thing. Magus may have a comparable tree, but they simply are not popping up in the same manner. Life in Tier 2-3 is as it was pre-Bright Wiz nerf. Anyone who remembers that (most probably do) will recall that a match without 3-4 Bright Wizards was not only rare, but almost nonexistent. Now replace them all (and a couple extra) with Engineers and that’s the current theme. The only problem? They’re doing more damage than Bright Wizards were capable of while exploiting a bug. Now, Bright Wizards didn’t really ‘know’ this was a bug, but a spell dealing four times as much damage as it should have certainly seemed odd, didn’t it? Nope, Engineers, in their current state, are better than bugged Bright Wizards were. Fair? No. Neither is Magus.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2009 3:32 am

    While I completely agree with your assessment of the engineer, I am seeing some problems with your WoW timeline. For one thing, druids were the flavor the week long before BC came out, back when WSG was still shiny and new. And don’t forget the prevalence of shamans back before they were given to alliance. As I recall on my server, there were about two shamans to every one paladin, and they were three times as nasty, especially in T1 and T2.

    Rogues got a big resurgence in popularity when BC came out, though I don’t think there was ever a time when rogues weren’t in the flavor of the week rotation.

    The flavor of the week mentality was something I thought would be avoided in WAR. Unfortunately it looks like the same thing may be happening, with the huge numbers of engineers and WPs owning things up these days.

  2. pancakez permalink*
    February 2, 2009 12:25 pm

    Well, the issue with Druids is, while they had some flag running promise, the class was bad pre-BC. It may be hard to imagine now, but their DPS was inferior to Paladins and their only efficient method of healing was their extremely long 3s big heal (remember, HoT overwriting and buff limits). Likewise with Shaman, while Alliance players felt like there were a lot of them, the fact was that besides their burst (read below), Paladins were actually stronger. Shaman never actually peaked above last place in the census numbers pre-BC. Rogues also were hurt pretty badly by the initial BC release, Hemo was dead, Mutilate was ruined, etc. Once rage was fixed about a month into BC, Warriors actually became more popular than they already had been. The Rogue resurgence was a flavor of the month, but only for the class, the HARP spec in season 3 is when that happened. No new players switched to the class, but almost all Rogues (ie: not bad ones) switched to HARP.

    Now back to Shaman, there was a time when the class was screwed up enough to be called a flavor of the month, but still not many switched to them because of the gear involved. Those that did often regretted it, but often stayed Horde afterward. That problem was Stormstrike having a 100% proc chance for Windfury and Windfury having no internal cool-down. So well geared Enhancement Shaman would use rank 1 Frost Shock to try and stay in range until Windfury went off, then hit Stormstrike. The result was 8 swings in a row. This caused some grief in combination with some ZG gear and of course the high end raiding weapons, should a guild give them to a Shaman over a Warrior. The funny part to me however was that at the time Paladins actually had a superior tool, but most didn’t even realize. Ever seen a Reck Bomb? Good Paladins would let you attack them while doing nothing but heal themselves. Each time you crit them it stacked a buff, when they were satisfied they would turn on Seal of Command and auto-attack you. You would die instantly to a flurry of anywhere from ten attacks, to this…

    The closest Shaman ever came to causing a worldwide emergency maintenance was when Blizzard found out that multiple Shaman could stack Stormstrike indefinitely until this happened:

    Needless to say, having fifteen-twenty Shaman Stormstrike a single target while one Elemental Shaman blows all his cool downs to one-shot them never caught on as a play style. 😛

  3. koljarn permalink
    February 3, 2009 7:06 pm

    It’s not surprising that you’re seeing a lot of grenadiers. Frankly, it’s the most viable tree for both PvE and RvR.

    Rifleman is single-target damage, but it’s only any good if you are exclusively going after squishies – even medium armor takes a big bite out of the damage that it causes. And forget about tanks. You are not even going to scratch them.

    Tinkering is a bit od an odd bird. Strength increases the damage on most tinkering abilities. Moreover, you need to have a decent Intelligence, or your Electromagnet will get resisted. That’s why a Magus will spec into the Rift ability far more often than an Engineer will go for Electromagnet. Honestly, a tinkerer has just too many stat requirements to cover to be really exceptional at ANYTHING. I can safely say that I do not plan on EVER attempting to play a tinker spec.

    Grenadiers don’t get much of an impact from stats – only a few of their abilities get affected by Ballistic Skill. Grenadiers also do Corporeal damage almost exclusively. If grenadiers are really your bane (they shouldn’t be, as most healers can heal through all of my DOTs without breaking a sweat), stack corporeal resist. Most people do not, because they are still in mortal terror of Bright Wizards So they crank up the elemental resist, instead.

    Maybe they are still right to fear the Bright Wizard over Engineers – Bright Wizards get a anti-heal debuff, while Engineers do not. I can’t say, as I don’t have the time to play on the Destruction side of the game.

  4. pancakez permalink*
    February 3, 2009 9:02 pm

    The point was more about the current fad, due to Engineers dominance of damage charts. A lot of people defending Engineers are understating the impact they’re (along with Magus) currently playing. Take a Scenario, you are most likely hitting three to four people per cast. This takes 46-70 AP. If the opposing team is lucky they have someone with an AOE heal and it will take 120 AP to negate that damage. If the opposing team is not lucky, it will require at least 90 AP from two seperate healers. It could however take up to 300 AP from a single healer…

    Now take a look at a denser Scenario like Tor Anroc, or Mourkain. You’ll almost always be hitting six to eight people. You’re not demanding at the very least 120 AP from two healers both using AOE heals to offset the damage. If you’re not so lucky you’re looking at two healers spending 240 each. To offset a single Engineer spending 70 AP on fire-and-forget DoTs. The defining part of a fad class, or a flavor of the month is that people can be more successful by rerolling to that class rather than deck out their current one. In this case, it’s Bright Wizard -> Engineer. Bright Wizard has a healing debuff, but Engineer’s can shut down multiple healers simultaneously.

  5. koljarn permalink
    February 4, 2009 11:19 am

    I have to assume that in Tor Anroc and Mourkain Temple, healers do not have all of their tools, yet. I don’t really play any of the healing classes, so I’m not familiar with them. I can assure you that in tier 4, healers do not sweat the DOTs that a grenadier dishes out, except in a siege when everyone stacks up on the stairs or at a door.

  6. pancakez permalink*
    February 4, 2009 1:16 pm

    Sadly, that just isn’t true. Healers do have all their tools to deal with it by rank 20. To deal with it out of party, however, you need at least two HoTs to offset the damage. That means spending 75 AP per person to offset nothing but Frag + Acid. In party it takes two AOE heals to even it out. The issue is not a one-on-one deal, the single target damage being put out is about what a tank can do. The issue is that Engineer’s can put that level of damage out on however many people they can get standing within 35 feet of each other.

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