Wow, so already we have a new PTR cycle and more stuff to talk about!
7.2.5 is up – a very basic version, at least. It’s a small patch designed with balancing changes and a few neat little extras in.
First of all, if you read the notes and go, “this sounds like a joke” – you’re not alone! I feel like releasing this PTR in April made it seem that way. But it is not!
There are some neat, wide-reaching bits of new content – a transmog contest scenario, two new story scenarios (a Bronze Dragonflight thing and more Magni speaks for Azeroth stuff), and, perhaps the largest, most interesting tidbit – Black Temple timewalking. How that is going to fully work, don’t know yet!
As far as balance changes, tanks get tuning they need to continue to advance balance. Vengeance has very few substantial changes in the current build, so let’s talk about other tanks.
Guardian Druid: Mark of Ursol is out, Maul buffs are in. I talked about my feelings on Mark of Ursol here, so check that out! TL;DR – it sounds scary, but druids are still gonna be strong tanks.
Brewmaster Monk: Tons of tweaks! Their passive armor bonus is going up to 25% from 15%, so they’ll be sturdier in physical damage scenarios. The rotation is being modified to be a little less stuttery, particularly for those with Blackout Combo talented. They’re accomplishing this by setting Blackout Strike to a 14 second, non-hasteable cooldown, and making Tiger Palm reduce its cooldown. Ironskin Brew is being nerfed slightly to 35% increased Stagger (from 40%) and the Stagger granted by Fortifying Brew is being halved as well. Special Delivery (the keg dropping proc talent) is being buffed to 100% proc rate, but 70% less damage. The mastery is being reworked slightly to also stack on use of Blackout Strike and Breath of Fire – so expect Brewmasters to dodge more. They also get a new level 15 tier talent to offer a chance to reset Breath of Fire on Tiger Palm usage – this is replacing Chi Burst currently, so it’s…not very popular at the moment. Lastly, they also get a cap to Staggered damage, which just prevents a monk from being able to cheese off large amounts of damage. Realistically, this isn’t going to do anything for the average player.
Protection Warriors: Revenge damage got nerfed. Okay.
There are tank specification changes that are being made that affect all tanks (or most tanks, at least). The first is that active mitigation abilities are being made so that they cannot extend their duration past three times their standard duration. This affects Demon Spikes, Shield of the Righteous, Ironskin Brew, and Shield Block. Realistically, this won’t hurt much, if at all, for Vengeance Demon Hunters. Our best usage of Demon Spikes with a developed artifact allows one charge to fall off before popping the next to ensure maximum Parry bonus. For Protection Paladins, this might hurt more, as the duration of SotR is pretty low at 4.5 seconds, and the cornerstone playstyle has revolved around more aggressive stacking of the buff. There are some playstyles of Demon Hunter that might be impacted, if you were rolling Demon Spikes like a madman (say, Feed the Demon and Demonic Infusion both talented, and T19 4 piece active) but those are edge cases where realistically, such a build is overly protected from physical damage at the cost of better gameplay interactions.
The other broader change is to second-chance mechanics, notably Last Resort for Vengeance DH and Ardent Defender for Protection Paladins – these abilities will not save you anymore if the killing blow is for more than 200% of your maximum health. This means that certain insta-death mechanics can no longer be cheesed, but realistically shouldn’t impact their standard usage in gameplay. Either that, or demons on Argus are going to be capable of flattening us. As someone who healed through the ICC days of quick, rapid tank health drops, I sure hope not, but time will tell!
Overall, I think the early changes are alright. Clearly, the Guardian inequity is one of the largest factors in tank balancing for 7.2.5, alongside shoring up the weak spots with the new, oddball design for Brewmaster Monks. Outside of these outliers, tank balance seems to be a back burner item for this patch, as balancing DPS for underutilized Warlock and Rogue specs is one of the key balancing items for the patch.
The likelihood is that this patch will be like 7.1.5 was to Nighthold, serving to unlock the Tomb of Sargeras alongside the balance changes intended to shore up weak spots before sending everyone in (and to allow more PTR testing of encounters, I would imagine).
And then, there is that ensemble to learn a transmog appearance for the Warglaives of Azzinoth. Which, as a Demon Hunter, has me excited! (Eagerly waiting to see more about that).