The changes in question can be found here
. As is customary, these were balancing changes that Blizzard made in response to the logs that guilds were putting up for Heroic Uldir. Blizzard nearly always does one final tuning change to classes the week before the Mythic difficulty of a new raid releases to try to get all classes as close to each other as possible. This won’t fix every class, but it usually makes sure that there are no egregious outliers when the race for world first begins.
Let’s start with the bad news. I don’t think any DPS spec that received buffs suddenly became relevant, at least for M+. Fire Mage, Destruction/Demonology Warlock and Feral Druid all got 5-6% damage buffs to all abilities, but each of those specs suffers from the same issue: they all have better specs available. Even with those buffs, you’ll still want to bring a Frost Mage, an Affliction Warlock or a Balance Druid. Shadow Priest also had a couple spells (Shadow Word: Pain and Vampiric Touch) increased substantially, but from what I understand those changes are relatively minor for Shadow and won’t make the class dramatically better. These DPS specs might be more viable for raiding now, but I still don’t think any of them will see much playtime in high keys.
Some healers also got love: Restoration Druid (3% to all heals), Holy Paladin (7% to Holy Light and Flash of Light) and Restoration Shaman (12% to Healing Rain and 6% to Riptide). Druid has already been impressing me in high keys with its healing throughput, so this buff really cements their place in the meta. Holy Paladin has needed some help (much as it pains me to say it) with its sustained healing throughput outside of cooldowns, and I’m not even sure that a 7% buff to Holy and Flash of Light will fix how sluggish paladins feel at the moment. This spec was clearly designed around Holy Shock crits, and now that you can’t reach 100% crit strike chance on Holy Shock like you could in Legion, there’s a gaping hole in the healing kit. I really feel like the this-is-the-crit-healer playstyle of Holy pally needs to be scrapped and reworked. Finally, Resto Shaman also got some buffs, but healing was never shaman’s issue in M+ or raiding, so I don’t expect this to make any difference in the healing meta. You still aren’t going to bring a shaman for high keys, and you’re still always going to bring a shaman in raids for Spirit Link Totem.
There were some notable DPS nerfs. Subtlety and Outlaw Rogue (my top two melee specs) both got 5% across-the-board nerfs. Affliction Warlocks got a 20% nerf to Darkglare. Beast Mastery got a 5% nerf to all damage. These are all meta picks, and I expect the changes will shake things up a little bit. The good news for rogues is that Assassination has already stepped forward with a disgustingly good trait (Shrouded Suffocation), so (surprise!) you still always want to bring a rogue. The nerf to Darkglare is very minor for warlocks, so Affliction will still be the clear #2 ranged behind Frost Mage (a spec that I’m surprised was left untouched). BM Hunter was already a fringe pick, so this may hurt the ability for hunters to consistently find spots in high keys.
The lone healer nerfs were saved for priests who were absolute monsters in Heroic Uldir. This distinction earned them some wrist slaps in the form of a 3% healing nerf to Holy and a 9% nerf to Smite for Discipline. You already weren’t bringing Holy Priests to keys, and now you especially aren’t. Unfortunately, the Smite change is probably harder on Disc in M+ than it is in raiding (which is what the nerf was meant to address), and this spec has already been nerfed multiple times in the last month. It will still have a place in high keys, but Disc is a far cry from what it once was in early beta.
No tanks were adjust either up or down, which I was happy with because I feel most of the tank specs are well balanced in M+. The exception to that is Protection Warrior, and I was a bit hopeful that the spec would get some kind of tuning. Maybe warriors have to wait until 8.1 like priests and shamans.
The frustrating part about this week’s changes is the (I feel) clear emphasis on raiding over M+. Some specs that are performing incredibly well in M+ right now were left untouched, like Frost Mage and Mistweaver Monk (whose sustained healing output in a dungeon setting is unreal). Because those specs don’t pop off the page while raiding, they don’t get any attention. Maybe we’ll see a separate balance patch in the future with more focus on M+, but I doubt it.