After sitting in a corner and crying over the loss of Tree of Life form I now feel ready to talk about the rest of the class changes that were announced last week. As there are plenty of other places you can go for an in-depth analysis of your specific class changes I am going to talk about some of the major themes we have seen emerge in what Blizzard has planned for Cataclysm.
Haste and Crit
Currently HoTs and DoTs are only affected by haste if you choose to use a glyph that applies haste to a particular spell. This glyph then causes your haste to decrease the time between ticks, thus doing more damage or healing in a shorter amount of time, but causing it to fall off more quickly. Now all Hots and Dots will always be affected by haste, but the spell will always last its full duration, haste will instead add additional ticks within the original duration of the spell. This will make haste an even more desirable stat.
Along with the haste changes all HoTs and DoTs will no longer be able to be clipped. I think there is a lot of confusion about this change. How I believe it will work is this; say you have a HoT/DoT that lasts 20 seconds, there is currently 4 seconds left on its duration and you recast the spell. The HoT/DoT now adds 20-4 seconds (16) to the duration, resetting it to 20 seconds, not 24 seconds thus preventing spamming a spell at the beginning of the fight and having it last for a ridiculous duration which is how many were reading the explanation.
Crit will now innately be applicable to all HoTs and DoTs, previously you had to take talents to allow your HoTs and Dots to crit. This is a very welcome change and should make Crit more appealing to all classes, Restoration druids especially.
The Low Level Experience
Blizzard is planning some very welcome tweaks to the low level experience. Among them is hunters will start at level 1 with a pet and have some melee abilities removed. Enhancement shamans will get a new weapon based attack, letting them feel less like bad elemental shaman while at low levels. Shadow priests will be getting some strange floating shadowy orbs things which is particularly to allow shadow priests to feel like shadow priests before they get shadow form. I really applaud these changes, playing your character should be fun from the beginning, not only after you have ground through the crap levels. These changes combined with redesigned zones has me very excited to roll a new character and really enjoy the leveling experience again.
Buffs and Debuffs
There are many changes to buffs, and a fair amount of class homogenization going on, like mages getting Heroism/Bloodlust like skill. There is some QQ about this, but in the grand scheme of things I think it will be good. All spirit buffs are also being removed as spirit is a healer only stat. The biggest change is that all buffs or debuffs that increase your party's chance to hit are being removed. I welcome this change as it will mean that you always know what your hit cap is as it is not dependent on your group composition. I also anticipate having to spend significant more effort reaching the hit cap, which we might expect will help to keep runaway dps down at higher gear levels.
Many classes, like the hunter's ability to set traps at range, make it clear that Blizzard is intent of bringing back CC. Good luck with that. It doesn't matter how many tools we have to CC, we won't do it unless we are going to wipe if we don't. I will be very interested to see if Blizzard can manage to put crowd control back in the game.
All this information overload has had the effect of making me positively giddy with anticipation of the beta when we can dive headlong into even more wild speculation about how game play will change come Cataclysm.
Oh ya, SAVE THE TREES!