Friday, August 31, 2012

How Much is Too Much?

At the moment we are all having fun playing with our new buttons.  Click them or bind them it doesn't make a difference, new is new and we all want to use them to see what they can do.

The thing is, unlike some new buttons, these ones in nearly all cases are not just something you will play with for a short time and forget about, they are becoming a part of your rotation.  In some cases they will become a huge part of your rotation.

They are not replacing anything in most cases, they are being added.  The priest choosing to buff up their shadow fiend might not have an additional button, but that is the exception, not the rule.

So it leaves me to ask, how much is too much?

I wrote a long time ago explaining how three is a magic number.  The human mind has an amazing way of dealing with things in groups of three.  We can remember it easily, perhaps without even trying.  So if the game wanted to make things easy they would group things in threes.

For damage dealers it would be three standard buttons for a rotation, three utility buttons, three cooldowns.  Max, that would be it.  For tanks it would be three damage dealing abilities, three high aggro abilities and three defensive cooldowns.  For healers it would be three main heals, three situational heals and/or utilities and three big cooldowns.

It would make it easiest for people to learn if it were simple like that.  Now to people like me, you and the people that read the forums these new buttons might not serve as much of a problem.  In most cases it is only adding three things at the moment.  While we get more later, we have three things to learn to use now.  That is good design, that is what our brains are wired to understand.

But what about anyone not playing right now?  What about those players that were having problems with all the buttons they already had?  What about people that have not even started playing yet?

I'll learn to use my three new hunter cooldowns because it is three for me.  For someone that has never played a hunter it is a lot more than three.  Now they get to look at the future and see what could have already been a 7 button priority is now a 10 or 12 or even 15 button one.

The more buttons, the more intimidating it becomes.  The more buttons, the more chances there are for mistakes.  The more buttons the more likely people will not be able to play their role well.

Take shaman healing for an example.  It was always the simplest healer to teach people with in my opinion.  Yes, there are some complexities involved that would set the good and great ones apart but anyone could be a good shaman healer because it was simple.

One thing for every situation.  One HoT, one small heal, one large heal, one multi heal and one quick expensive heal.  They added one ground effect heal and a totem cooldown this expansion.  Now they add more stuff to clutter up the bars.

The more they add the more choices the new shaman healer has and the more chance they will make the wrong choice.  When it was just the basics you could have turned any person that never healed into a healer easily.  The good ones would move on to learn the finer points and become great healers and the not so good ones were still capable of healing randoms and normal raids.  All because there were fewer buttons.  Now, shaman healing can be quite imposing to someone that never healed before because there are more buttons and while to the experienced player they are nice new abilities to anyone new to the role they just add a whole mess of confusion.

Now with all these buttons people, no matter the role, that are not already at end game and only learning a few new things, will have a mountain to climb in the learning process.

Just take Beastmastery for a hunter as an example.  The spec that was always supposed to be the easy spec for players, that was the intention, has now become something that would scare a new player away.  Just look at it.

Warning:  This might not be the actually best rotation at 90 as that is still being worked on.

Beast Mastery Rotation:


1) Hunters Mark before pull
2) Serpent Sting
3) Dire Beast
4) Stampede
5) Bestial Wrath
6) Rapid Fire
7) Kill Command
8) Glaive Toss
8) Readiness
10) Kill Command
11) Glaive Toss
12) Cobra Shot (to refresh sting that should be close to falling off)

Now we can start our priority rotation

1) Serpent Sting (if it fell off)
2) Rapid Fire
3) Readiness (but only if RF and BW are on cooldown, maybe DB, GT and KC if it lines up)
4) Stampede
5) Kill Shot (if under 20%)
6) Focus Fire (but not if BW is active, hit as soon as BW ends)
7) Bestial Wrath
8) Kill Command
9) Dire Beast (but only if a beast is not already up)
10) Lynx Rush (delay if BW will be activated in less than 10 seconds)
11) Glaive Toss
12) Arcane Shot (if needed to bleed focus)
13) Cobra Shot (to keep sting up, move up if sting is about to fall off)

If this is supposed to be the easy rotation I think blizzard and I have a different definition of easy.  But compared to survival and marksman, this is easy.  A 13 shot priority that follows a 12 shot set up just to lead you to using it.  That is not a priority, that is a list.

Lets not forget all the little conditionals for many of those abilities.  Like never hitting focus fire while your pet is under the effects of bestial wrath, never calling dire beast even if readiness resets it if there is a dire beast already out, making sure to squeeze in that cobra shot so serpent sting does not fall off, delaying lynx rush if you are going to be entering bestial wrath soon.  It is a lot more that just a priority, it is a priority jam packed with conditionals.

Don't forget your situational abilities either.

1) Aspects.
2) Silencing, binding or wyvern depending on which you took.
3) Traps
4) Widow Venom
5) Misdirection
6) Tranquilizing Shot
7) Distracting Shot
8) Concussive Shot
9) Intimidation

Note: And you have defensive abilities too.

1) Disengage
2) Deterence
3) Feign Death

And lets not even get into pets because I am going to make that a post of its own but you can bring a whole slew of buffs and as BM you can bring even more than the other hunters.  Not to mention your pets have cooldowns that could be used for utility or DPS that you need to micro manage to get the most of them adding even more abilities to your plate.  Also, now that growl is a true taunt there will surely be times were your pet taunting will be a useful raid tool and yet another thing you will need to micro manage.

Yeap, BM is the easy hunter spec.  With all that, and more I did not list, at their disposal you have to wonder, why would anyone want to start playing a class if this is the easy rotation.

Sometimes you really have to think, how much is too much?

Perhaps it is just me but I think a total of 17 key binds for DPS should be the absolute maximum.  That should include all situationals, all cooldowns and all trinkets or proc based things.  The basic rotation to get good DPS should be 5 keys, no more.  Ever.

I wish I only had 17 now and to think more are coming, it is just too much.  In my opinion at least.

How much do you think is too much?


  1. It's hard to put a number on, it depends on what those buttons 'do'.

    I like having abilities that actually do something significantly different from another one (ie pre-Cata Blast Wave, easily one of my Mage's favorite spells), as then their existence has 'a point' beyond mere damage/damage enhancement;

    I like utility/situational spells (ranging from Dispells and things like Undying Breath), as they are 'the right tool for the right moment' and tickle me for knowing when to use it etc.

    I am not a fan of buttons that seemingly have no function beyond increasing a rotation, I like knowing when to use an ability on the spur much more than being a CD virtuoso etc.

    So for example, pre-MoP Patch I liked the 'salad bar' of Death Knights more than those of Protadins (let alone Holydins), as ''this CD increaes dmg by 20%'' this CD increases protection by 50%'' etc. are more annoying than entertianing to me.

    Come to think of it, perhaps 'I don't like CD abilities that have no other function than to enhance other abilities' would be a nice summary. Instead of gutting the Talent system, they should have IMO have done away with a lot of those instead, those are what i would call useless clutter.

    Though I'm probabably not the target audience for rotations in the first place.

    1. Clutter, that is the perfect word for what it is now. All just clutter. So there are a dozen abilities that all are "press and do X damage to target". Nearly none of them interact with each other. So it ends up just being a rotation like this.

      1) Hit this to do 10 damage.
      2) Hit this to do 40 damage.
      3) Hit this to do 15 damage.
      4) Hit this to do 55 damage.

      As four different spells when it would just be easier to make one spell that just hits for 30 each shot and press that 4 times.

      As it is, this is a hunter rotation for the most part. Clutter. 4 shots do to one thing, damage and nothing but. It could easily be one shot that does 30 instead of 4 different ones that do 10, 40, 15 and 55.

      Don't know why but I love that word clutter. It never came to my mind while writing this but it fits so perfectly.

      I could have just said that everyone toolbars look a bit cluttered right now.

  2. Anon, Grumpy's GL:

    Actually I have found it to be the other way for my priests and paladins, less clutter all around. I put everything into a hotkey slot: all my spells, trinkets, mounts that are in use (usually 3 for land, air and sea), potions and flasks, bandages, gear sets, etc.

    My paladins, being ret, have fewer things to work with now, most of the heals not being available and so on. Surprisingly, I find this to be far more effective and convenient than I thought it would be as I was setting it up. The work on rebuilding the retribution paladin looks good to me so far.

    With regards to my priests, I still have the hugest toolbox possible of heals for Holy, but things still feel less cluttered than before. Pretty much the same for Discipline and Shadow, with a less cluttered feel to it.

    Can't really speak to the other classes yet as I have not done more than a cursory setup on any of them.

    1. I can't really speak from a ret standpoint as I dread melee with a passion, so while I might play with it just to learn it so I can help others I would never get to the level of actually knowing their entire toolbox first hand. But with that said, I find my priest actually fared well, like I noted in the post, there were a lot of replacement spells and the loss of a few, most painfully divine hymn which leaves me to wonder what the hell am I going to have as a big heal now in disc, but over all my skills still ended up with a net gain. Although smaller than my tanks and DPS and other healers.

      As far as additions go, from what I have seen so far, priests have the least and if you spec into passive instead of active (like I did) you can have even less added buttons.

  3. And you don't even have Ravens in that rotation! I agree, it seems a little complex now. But then again, BM has always been the simple spec, so if it's now more complex, but SV is simpler, that's okay I feel. As long as one of the specs is simple, the other one or two can be more complicated. (I don't know if SV or MM are simpler, I am just saying, if they are.)

    1. That is the easy rotation. MM and SV are harder. Actually I read somewhere that MM is now the hardest rotation in the game to do correctly and not be focus capped.

      And if you look at the sims for heroic T14, and I know it will be fixed, right now top is 138K (fury warrior 2 handed) and bottom is 95K (MM hunter).

      Nice, give hunters the hardest rotation in the game and then make sure they are dead last if they can master it.

      Sure, there always needs to be a first and a last but a 43K difference between first and last is a little out of hand if you ask me.

  4. I've been trying to get a handle on the new toolset for both BM and SV. I've hit the dummies, I've done LFR, I've done Heroic DS (got our first H spine and H madness kills last night).

    My DPS went up across the board but generally so did everyone elses. However, instead of following a rotation or even a priority system, I feel like I'm just playing whack-a-mole with my action bars especially since there are too many buttons to handle easily with keybinds.

    I can't keep Serpent Sting up in BM and barely manage it in SV (this should change as we level since we won't have so much focus but still). I can't figure out when to use Readiness. It's supposed to be used when things are on CD but nothing is ever on CD. It's always... oh, that's off CD now, hit it, oh, now this is off CD, hit that, oh, now... I've mostly gotten a handle on Dire Beast and Lynx Rush (used on BM) but Murder of Crows is a pain because it costs so much focus. When it's off CD, I don't have 60 focus to cast so I have to smash cobra a couple times so I can use it which tends to cause an explosive shot or black arrow to get delayed. And I'm sure that key abilities are getting delayed anyway because I'm using so many extra GCDs for the new abilities and I know I get focus capped way too often.

    For BM and SV, I just feel that the addition of Readiness would have been enough of a change and MM was complicated enough already.

    The new Talent abilities are "cool" but after trying to use them in a raiding scenario, they're just a pain in the ass. The 4.3 rotations for MM, BM, and SV already had enough going on in them... We really did not need more buttons to press. And they can't even be macro'd to something else because they're all on the GCD... On my alts, I'm just going with the passive abilities as much as possible, I really don't care if the cast abilities are supposedly better or not; I probably lose more dps than I gain by complicating the rotations.

    Oh, and the Kill Command bug is %&*(#($&^ annoying. I wanted to go full BM except for maybe Blackhorn. Instead I had to go SV for the last 4 bosses and I'm not as good at SV, especially with all the new stuff.

    1. You basically nailed it there. It is just too much going on. There was enough to deal with already and they added more. So much so it went into whack a mole mentality and you can never whack everything.

      I have not been able to grasp it as quick as you have, my DPS has seen a significant drop in survial to the tune of 6K and have seen myself drop so badly in MM I have now dropped the spec completely for now and will go back to it later. When I can only manage 60% of my potential I feel it is a failure.

      BM seems like too much going on as well. Like you said, keeping your sting up becomes a huge problem because there is always some pet ability or another to use I never, or rarely, have a chance to do damage myself. I have however gotten some decent numbers out of BM, without even reforging for it, so that seems to be a little more user friendly even if a lot harder than it was like the others. I've seen myself burst up to 85K with it, which is quite impressive compared to what I am used to. In the end however, it seems to settle down. The bugs on many fights make it non-viable at the moment sadly because it seems to be the best spec for hunters right now.

  5. To me it's a matter of how much movement I have to do with my hand.

    Our new DK was power leveling so he'd get to 85 and geared for hc raiding in less than a week so I joined him on my lock through half a day of randoms from lvl 82 to 84. By the end of it, my hand hurt. That's when it's too much.

    On my paladin tank atm I have about the same amount of buttons as I used to have. But now I have to move my fingers more. I have a small hand and I haven't been able to find a mouse with more than the default 2 buttons + wheel that isn't the size of China, so I have to put everything on my keyboard. Which leads to a lot of pain when there are too many buttons to constantly press...
    What I want to say, I don't really care of how many cooldown buttons I have (and I'm looking at stuff with 1+ minute CD). I do care about buttons I have to constantly press into my rotation every few seconds though. Atm for my tank it's 7 buttons for a boss. I can comfortably press exactly 5 buttons without moving my hand (just moving fingers slightly to the left and right). Maybe 6. So too much for me is when I have to lift my hand every 3-5 seconds.
    I remember Blizz talking about the number of core abilities they think a class should have. They said 4, iirc. Wonder what happened to that design.

    1. I just set up my paladin yesterday and was looking over things and rebinding stuff and crying at the loss of righteous defense. I said the same thing you did, looks like I have about the same buttons that I had before. Same with my shaman really, just a totem change for the most part. So for me, playing all 10 classes, shaman healers and paladins tanks got the least abuse this patch as I see it.

      I have yet to try tanking on my paladin but it seems like it will be not as bad as I thought it would be. I am still at 74% of the CtC which is pretty impressive being we are supposed to be moving to active mitigation and I have not played my paladin since early firelands, so it only has mostly 378 gear with a sprinkle of 397 and 359 gear. Over my four tanks this one seems like it will be the easiest, maybe tied with DKs, to learn again. Already tanked heroic DS on my bear and did not have any issues, but that was a big change. I can't wait to get into the fray with my paladin, looks like it will be fun.

    2. I have one of each tanks as well. DK seems the easiest atm, since nothing really changed. Bear also feels about the same to me.Haven't tried my warrior yet since myOT is warr and I don't really feel compelled to bring it up to date. Paladin is more frantic and we have no real hard hitter anymore, which kind of bothers me. Censure is almost my top damaging ability and that speaks tomes. Also a little distracted by the fact that I have 3 things to follow now when I used to be able to just focus on my raid - that is weakened blows that I have to aplly on single target with an aoe move of all things, HP resources for 5 stacks and sacred shield buff. Atm can't seem to not look at the HP bar but I'm sure I'll get used to it. But I had some real fun with BL yesterday, since we scale with haste now. Was pushing my buttons like crazy. I love my Sacred Shield once more. Pity no more HS. Paladin will be awesome for self sustaining and for group help, I can feel it. Paladin tanking is being a tank and half a raid healer all in one, you have some other responsibilities when you can loh, wog, hand of sacrificem, protect etc people.

      Anyway. I also mourn the loss of RD, it was one of the things that separated paladins form other tanks.

      Block is on two rolls so we don't add numbers as CTC like we used to anymore. there's no such thing as 74% CTC anymore. I felt the masive merf to our block and the passive mitigation loss right away.

    3. Did not realize they changed the way block works in that respect.

      I love the shield, it is something you can use on yourself or the other raid tank when he is tanking. It makes you a healer and a tank in a way. A quality paladin tank can now bring a lot more to the table than just tanking.

      They have also boosted the DPS of warrior and paladin tanks a great deal with again makes it feel as if you are contributing more to the group than just being mr meat shield.

      I like all the changes to tanking personally and think they should have come a long time ago.

      I am one, of the probably few, that thought aggro was a dated idea. Aggro should never be anything a tank ever needs to think about. They should be worried more about survivability, and helping the raid in other areas, like the shield or with DPS. That makes the role a lot more exciting and might remove it from its "most boring role in the game in a raid setting by a long shot" where I have held it in my opinion of it since the first time I ever tanked a raid and nearly fell asleep doing it.