With the Tomb of Sargeras in Patch 7.2 comes an empowerment to our artifacts, and with that comes new ranks in our existing 3 rank traits, but also, a new 4th gold trait that is finally visible for Vengeance in the newest PTR build!
The trait is called Flaming Soul, and it extends the duration of our Fiery Brand on the target by 0.5 seconds for each time our Soul Carver or Immolation Aura deal damage to the target. This, depending on some unanswered questions, could massively increase Vengeance survivability on bosses. It’s perhaps not as attractive in Mythic Keystone dungeons, save for bosses on Tyrannical weeks. Soul Carver, if kept on cooldown, is available once a minute, which is identical to Fiery Brand. Immolation Aura, on the other hand, has a 15 second cooldown, which is reduced by haste as well, so it could potentially be available to extend the duration of Fiery Brand far more often.
With the numbers as they currently stand, if you hit Fiery Brand, and have both Soul Carver and Immolation Aura available at zero haste, you could extend the duration of Fiery Brand from 8 seconds to 13 seconds. This represents nearly 9% more uptime of Fiery Brand, which means your damage taken will sharply decrease with smart management of Fiery Brand under this trait. It certainly encourages creating combos with these three abilities to extend Fiery Brand duration as much as possible.
The potential also exists that this trait will drastically increase the value of Haste for Vengeance as well. With 33% Haste, you could reduce the cooldown on Immolation Aura to 10 seconds, meaning that you could hit Fiery Brand, then Immolation Aura, then Soul Carver, and then Immolation Aura again one least time before Fiery Brand falls off, further increasing it’s total duration to 16 seconds, a 5% increase in Fiery Brand uptime over the already increased uptime the trait offers at zero haste. At this point, you’d be able to reduce all incoming damage from a target by 40% about 25% of the time (boy that sentence was fun!). Of course, this is an edge case for Haste stacking, given the strength and stability against all damage intake already offered by Versatility, or the Demon Spikes strength offered via Mastery – but, an edge case with potential.
What we don’t know yet, as this is based on early datamining, is if there is any synergy here with talents or traits that also affect Fiery Brand. If this trait works with the mini-Fiery Brands placed by the Burning Alive talent, the value of this trait and Haste stacking increase substantially for a Mythic Keystone player. If we factor in Demonic Flames, and add the two seconds duration to our math, the uptime improvement is still substantial, but this also further increases the value of Haste stacking, while decreasing the amount needed to sustain the improved uptime. With Demonic Flames factored in, and just enough Haste to squeeze in two Immolation Auras over the duration of Fiery Brand, you can reach 30% uptime of Fiery Brand, which is huge. If you were somehow able to get enough haste to reduce the cooldown of Immolation Aura to something like 8 seconds, you could extend the duration of Fiery Brand to over 20 seconds per cast!
Of course, doing so would require nearly 50% Haste, a value which would require abandoning all other secondary stats to chase. However, if it were to work with the Burning Alive talent, this may prove to be worthwhile for a Mythic Keystone player, and maybe even in certain raid scenarios as well.
This is the kind of thing I like about the Artifact system. This trait offers meaningful progression, and represents a change that can be either subtle or drastic depending on how much you value the ability being modified.
My speculation on what will work here:
-Burning Alive placed Fiery Brands won’t be able to be extended.
-Haste stacking won’t become prominent as a strategy, but Haste’s value to Vengeance Demon Hunters will rise.
-Despite this, most Vengeance Demon Hunters will value this trait greatly, using it to achieve 15 seconds or more of Fiery Brand duration every minute, greatly improving their survivability on single-target fights.
As for the other traits, Erupting Souls, the trait which makes Soul Cleave consumed Soul Fragments do damage, has a preliminary damage value of 100% attack power per fragment, making this a potent boost to Vengeance DPS. If this is AoE damage (which it seems it will be) this will further improve an already strong aspect of Demon Hunter tanking, while also boosting our relatively-strong single target damage. Concordance of the Legionfall has also been updated for tank-specialized artifacts, now increasing Versatility for those characters instead of their primary stat. I actually like this change, as it increases our damage alongside survivability. I’m still unsure of the random nature of it (particularly since the early data suggests under 1.5 procs per minute) but even still, this means a burst in tank damage and reduction in damage received during its duration, a situation which makes Demon Hunters look like gods, so I’ll take it!
There is also now Artifact Knowledge up to 50 ranks and further rebalancing of the trait costs past the initial 7.0 progression, increasing the costs to completely max out a weapon in order to maintain Blizzard’s ideal vision for the artifact as a constantly-improving source of player power (and incentive to continue logging in). You can check out my post on that topic over here.
Overall, I still enjoy and like the overall design vision for Vengeance Demon Hunters, and these changes reaffirm that. I’m very interested to see what comes out of this next round of PTR testing, to be sure!