Omg omg omg 2.5 changes, yo.  Yes this is about a week late, but I had Stuff Come Up and was offline for a while.

Buffs

Annihilation/Watchman Improvements

  • The stacking buff provided by Juyo Form now lasts 24 seconds (up from 15) and can be applied once every second (down from every 1.5 seconds).
  • The stacking Annihilator/Merciless buff provided by Annihilate/Merciless Slash now lasts 24 seconds (up from 15).

The devs explained this as a help to anni/watchman specced marauders/sentinels in encounters where you have to lay off the boss for a while, you come back, and all your stacks have worn off.

It will also make it far easier to build annihilate/merciless stacks even if you are a bit late on hitting annihilate/merciless slash.  Right now, when you hit anni/merc slash the first time, you have a 4.5 second window between the time that it comes off cd and the time that the buff expires to reapply it for the second stack.  These changes widen that to a leisurely 13.5 second window.

Bloodthirst/Inspiration and Predation/Transcendence no longer prevent the Marauder from building Fury/centering (stacks) while they are active.  That’s just a straight up DPS win there, no question.

Nerfs

Undying Rage/Guarded by the Force Changes

  • Undying Rage/Guarded by the Force now has a 2 minute cooldown (up from 1 minute and 30 seconds).
  • The health for Undying Rage/Guarded by the Force is now spent when the damage reducing effect expires, rather than when it begins. It still costs 50% of current health.
  • Undying/Enduring no longer increases damage reduction but still reduces the cooldown of Undying Rage/Guarded by the Force by 15/30 seconds.
  • Force Vigor no longer interacts with Undying Rage/Guarded by the Force. It now permanently increases passive damage reduction by 1/2% and still builds 1/2 Rage when Dual Saber Throw is used.

Probably this is a PvP nerf, as it mostly reverts the talents to improve Undying Rage/Guarded in the Rage/Focus tree but it still sucks.

The part that worries me about PvE is that the health is deducted after the effect wears off.  Currently, I use UR/GBTF when I’m about to die to give the healer the ability to heal me while I’m not taking damage so, with any luck, by the time the damn thing wears off, I’m at a reasonable level of health.  This change will make my death at the expiration of the buff pretty much guaranteed (rather than just “highly likely”), as my health will drop precipitously right when I lose protection from damage.

In addition, the health deducted at the end of the effect is calculated based on the health that the marauder/sentinel has at the end of the effect, and not when the effect is triggered.  As you see below, this wastes precious resources of the healers do top off the marauder/sentinel during the buff.

Example: 

Njessie has 20,000 Max HP and is at 6000 HP or 30% health when she hits UR/Guarded

  • Currently: Njessie now has 3000 HP (15% health).
  • In 2.5: Njessie still has 6000 HP (30% health).

A healer adds 10k HP to Njessie (50%) during the buff.  (A healer is definitely more likely to heal a 15% Njessie than a 30% Njessie – but let’s assume for this example an equal amount of healing during the effect.)

  • Currently: Njessie has 3000 HP + 10k HP = 13k HP (65%).  Buff drops and she’s still at 65%.  That’s pretty good.
  • In 2.5: Njessie has 6000 HP + 10k HP = 16k HP (80%). Buff drops and 50% of current health is deducted.  Njessie is now at 8k (40%).  The resources expended to provide 10k of healing only actually provided 5k of healing.  This sucks for the healers who are already stretched thin during a burn phase.  But if they don’t heal Njessie during the effect, it is likely she will die once the effect wears off if she is at 15%.

As you can see, from my invented numbers, this pretty much blows for PvE and I won’t be using UR/Guarded unless I am truly about to croak – and I know that at the end of the effect, I will die.

Maybe Buff Or Nerf?

Bloodthirst/Inspiration now affects your entire Operation group up to 40 meters away from the Marauder/Sentinel (up from 30 meters) but also applies a debuff which lasts for five minutes on all affected group members. This debuff prevents affected players from regaining Bloodthirst/Inspiration while it is active.  I have no idea the ramifications of this.  Overall, I like it, and it’s very similar to how they changed Heroism/Bloodlust in WoW (for, I think, the better) but there are downsides.

Pros:

  • Do not have to mess with groups to put the marauder/sentinel in the right group
  • Can make do with one marauder/sentinel
  • A second marauder/sentinel can pop predation/transcendence at the same time so you have damage reduction layered on bloodthirst/inspiration
  • A marauder/sentinel not assigned to be the bloodthirst/inspiration popper is free to use stacks for Berserk/Zen instead for a DPS increase.

Cons:

  • Less incentive to bring multiple marauders to a raid
  • No more sequential bloodthirsts/inspirations in the raid  (Hey, 30 seconds of awesomeness was kind of great).
  • While the debuff clears on death, it would be nice if the cooldown also cleared on death (or no cooldown now that there is a debuff) so that BT/Insp would be ready for the next attempt.

Overall

I’m happy with the changes and think they are responsive to player feedback.  For me, the downsides of Annihilation spec have pretty much evaporated, and I will probably be playing that spec exclusively after this patch.  I’ll update the sent/mara guide when the changes go live, promise.

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