Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On reagent removal or the absence thereof

I was flaying around in sunken temple for a bit trying out a new destruction build on my warlock to see how backdraft would work together with soulfire and despite fairly good results in terms of damage I hit the wall fairly quick.

I hit the wall... not because my casting rotation was wrong, not because I had issues keeping monsters from closing in and beating on me, not even because my pet scaling bites and I have to recast the damn thing every 5 minutes... I hit the wall because I ran out of souls.

I had gone into the instance having spent a good 15-30 minutes farming shards in nagrand beforehand so I knew I had at least 40 of the little buggars wasting space in my inventory.

Turns out that between casting the occasional healthstone / soulstone, re-summoning pets and heavy use of soulfire and shadowburn I literally ran out of souls in about double the time it took to farm them.

Now petless and with no capability of re-summoning the damn thing I had to roundtrip back to outland and start farming all over again... farming time which of course resulted in half the instance trash mobs respawning.
Trash mobs that don't give me shards because they're grey to me (apparantly low level creatures don't have useable souls).


This wasn't the first time either... I usually have to take along about 60 soulshards into a larger raid instance to make sure I don't run out. If there's a lot of re-summoning of people going on I am most definitely going to run out.
In arena's the situation is worse. With no trash mobs around and only a tiny chance of getting a soulshard from a player I reguarly run out of shards if I don't spend a solid 30 minutes farming before arena sessions.

The problem has become so bad that I completely threw overboard the idea of regularly re-summoning pets or heavily using abilities with soulshard cost during arena. All that just so I could make it through 10 matches without having to run off and find me some hapless creatures to de-soul. Which is also one of the reasons I usually run around as deep affliction (imp = free, affliction spells don't have extra cost).

The worst thing about all this is the inventory management aspect. It takes a full bag slot to carry around about 40 souls and another bag slot to carry around any additionally required soulshards with 0 added benefit other than having a soul shard ready when you need one (or more commonly when someone else needs one).

Taking a look around at other classes we see that most classes got their reagent cost for various spells removed based on the fact that blizzard thought they were taking up too much inventory space and/or required farming of 'older' content. For those spells where the reagent cost wasn't removed glyphs were added to remove the reagent requirement (at least for the most part).
The warlock receives no such thing and at best can hope for a double return on soulshards via a minor glyph.

If I then compare this to my hunter who arguably is the only other class that is 'forced' to waste a bag-slot on ammunition then I see that the hunter comes out on top here as well. Arrows/bullets can be bought at minimal cost, don't require a time investment to farm and on top of that the quiver bag-slot also improves firing speed.

So while other classes get to save 1-5 bag slots on various reagents now the warlock after a solid 3(?) years of complaining still has to put up with half of his inventory consisting of shards?

I am not opposed to the mechanic of collecting souls to fuel my spells... I think it's rather novel and adds some nice 'evil' aspect to the warlock.
But there are numerous ways now how the shard problem could be addressed without removing or even changing the mechanic of collecting souls significantly:

1. Remove soul cost for damage abilities. This would allow us to actually consider using shadow burn and soulfire without having to think about our 'fuel efficiency' all the time.
2. Allow souls to be redeemed from low levem mobs which in turn would make low-level instance runs a lot less tedious.
3. Allow soul shards to stack. Stacks of 5 would be plenty, hell I'd even settle for stacks of 2 which would stretch my shard carrying capacity and reduce inventory waste.
4. Give us an ability that takes the souls from nearby bodies. So if you're standing in an instance and there's trash mob corpses all over you hit your new 'redeem' ability and all the corpses turn into nice little soulshards (if you have looting rights).
5. Add soulshards to the currency tab removing the need to inventory manage the darned things.
6. Make bags automatically replenish shards as you kill or over time (a free shard every 15 minutes would be a godsent in itself).

There's a lot of simple things that could be implemented to alleviate the warlock's infinite problems with soulshards and there's really no reason why collecting soulshards should be so much of a chore.

If it takes you 30 minutes to farm the required shards before you can play your warlock it simply means that you just wasted 30 minutes of your playtime on something that gives you nothing other than the ability to cast spells.

Would you play a frost-mage if you had to go out and collect non-stacking snowballs to cast blizzard? Would you use pyroblast if you had to collect individual bits of magma to cast it? How would you feel about your protection paladin if you had to have a spare shield in your inventory for every time you 'threw' your avenger's shield? How much would you enjoy your hunter if you couldn't buy bullets/arrows from a vendor but had to manually craft them each and every day?

These are all very off-the-wall examples... but a warlock without soulshards cannot function at it's optimum and having a limit to how many shards you carry means that there's literally an 'invisible' cap on how long a warlock can last in any situation.

Finally lets look at this from a cost perspective:
If it takes you 30 minutes to collect about 50 shards (that's pretty good in itself) and it takes you about an hour to farm 100g (not unrealistic for me) that means that every soulshard is worth about 1g.
That adds up quickly in a normal day's worth of play... it adds up even quicker in a raid... and it's just plain ridiculous when you start using your shards to taxi people all over the place.

Let's be honest... I really don't mind spending a shard on summoning a demon, it make sense that they would need a soul to consume since they're demons after all. But soulfire and shadowburn? Those spells have been normalized ages ago. The damage is far from spectacular and doesn't warrant the soulshard requirement.

Do we even remember what the soulfire animation looks like? I rediscovered the spell with the new backdraft haste procs but now I am going to have to bench it again simply because I don't want to drag 70 shards around just so I can cast some hasted soulfires...

Something needs to be done... and that something doesn't look that difficult... so the question begs to be asked: Why is nothing done about the soulshard situation?


Hagu said...

I so agree!!!!

That is why even the minor help of the soulwell glyph was so appreciated. And why it was so frustrating when they nerfed it to be absolutely worthless.

The combination of destroying the desto lock and not helping with shards, I sure think that not only did locks not keep up with other classes, the 3.0.2 lock is clearly less enjoyable to play for me.

Captain The First said...

Aye I would have to agree. I get called in as a taxi service these days and dumped the second I finish up porting people.

Mind you I am going to charge people 1g the next time they want to go anywhere... maybe once all the locks die out they'll start paying up for soulshard usage.

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