To start things off, no one obviously likes being nerfed. I do hope that I don't come across as whiny in this section, but instead rational. Honestly, I think a nerf to Anti-Magic Zone
is justifiable. It has proven to be very useful in Castle Nathria and would've been likely to be as useful in the future. However, I don't think the PTR change quite hits the mark, overshooting the nerf significantly.
To provide some context to the competitive melee dps space, let's start by mentioning some other cooldowns that exist in the same space as Anti-Magic Zone
is effectively an Anti-Magic Zone
at 16.6% DR with a 3 minute cooldown and 10 second duration. It covers the entire raid and works against both magic and physical damage. Darkness
is an Anti-Magic Zone
with 3 minute cooldown, 8 seconds duration with 20% DR that works on both magical and physical. The DR is random though and often needs to be combined with Spirit Link Totem
to be properly useful.
Comparing old Anti-Magic Zone
with these two, there are upsides and downside. Anti-Magic Zone
only working on Magic is the main negative aspect of the spell. The high and consistent DR, long duration and short cooldown the major upsides. The short cooldown specifically works very well. You can often stack 2 DKs to cover all major magic damage bursts in any fight. Still, I'd argue that it's very much comparable to the other two with both obvious strengths and weaknesses.
The question is now why it seems to have been so obstructive in Castle Nathria. We saw world-first guilds stack DKs and leverage the Anti-Magic Zone
s everywhere. Was this an instrinsic property of Anti-Magic Zone
's power? Or was it a combination of many factors?
I believe one crucial aspect to consider here is that Unholy DK pretty much was (and is) the best melee dps in Castle Nathria. It brings an extremely versatile damage profile in conjunction with an execute and simply outputs higher useful numbers than pretty much all other melees. This makes Unholy very attractive on its own. When we pair that with having a useful raid CD, we end up with the DK coming up on top of most people's melee roster lists, even if there are other melee that bring a comparable raid cooldown.
It's important to note here that the melee roster list often is severely limited in size. Encounter design tends to push raids towards range-heavy comps. Furthermore, Chaos Brand
, Mystic Touch
and Battle Shout
are very useful raid buffs that often end up being provided by one or more melee dps. This often leaves very little space for anyone else.
The point I'm trying to make is the following: there are multiple other melee that have similar raid cooldowns but simply weren't tuned high enough to gain the most competitive melee spots. Anti-Magic Zone
isn't overpowered when compared to other raid CDs, it's the combination of a good raid CD with a highly tuned spec that makes it seem oppressive.
With this in mind, I do think the PTR nerfs are too heavy handed. Sure, there are melee specs which simply don't have any of this kind of utility. Still, why have a raid CD when it's so weak that it almost doesn't exist. If we consider a scenario where the DPS DKs damage is lower compared to other melee, there won't be anything to justify bringing one at all. A useful raid CD can help the people that play an undertuned class, making it much easier for a raid leader to bring them. I'm just happy that both Frost and Unholy bring good damage currently, since this change won't have as much of a negative impact as it could've had.
In short, I think the nerf is warranted but too severe. I'd feel much better with no absorption cap and instead an even shorter duration for instance. DPS DKs are great melee dps at this point in time, but once they drop to the lower portion of the dps ladder, there will be little to help them get a spot in the competitive melee meta.
Blood Death Knights stand to gain very
slightly from this implementation compared to Unholy, as the new cap on Anti-Magic Zone
is a function of your maximum HP, multiplied by your versatility. As we are tanks, we're likely to have slightly more versatility than a DPS, and thanks to being a tank, we also have a stamina multiplier built into our spec (Veteran of the Third War
modified further by our spec aura Blood Death Knight
). This means that, with these new conditions, we're likely to be able to blanket around 60-70% more damage than our Unholy and Frost brethren.
There will likely be an extremely unhealthy community dynamic around "stacking stamina" to "help your raid more", too. After all, there is a temptation to blanket more on the raid by sacrificing personal offensive and defensive throughput by, for instance, swapping out of Rune of the Fallen Crusader
for Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle
, and there will be people getting baited by these sunk cost choices. In general, having raid cooldowns cap at a percentage of max HP on the caster
, not the recipient, encourages these kinds of traps. To be clear, none of those are worth pursuing
: not stamina flasks, not Stoneskin Gargoyle, not stamina trinkets, none of this makes any
sense, but boy, does it sure look appealing to some.
This does not really change anything, as even with the extra size due being a tank, Anti-Magic Zone
is unlikely to cover an entire split damage effect or AoE in Sanctum, just due to the sheer amount of magic damage present in there. Anti-Magic Zone
as a raid cooldown for dangerous effects, as we knew it in Nathria, is effectively dead. This removes yet another reason to bring a Blood Death Knight, which is quite a hit, considering that we were not the problem on this particular instance.
There is also a discussion worth having on raid cooldowns brought by tanks, as, in my opinion, there aren't enough of them. Protection Warriors still bring a cooldown in every aspect superior to Anti-Magic Zone
), for instance, which is both a healthy addition to the group and something that you can play around/with. That, however, is basically it - Protection Paladins had Aegis of Light until recently as a possible talent choice, which worked as a positional 20% damage reduction zone. More of those should exist, not less - after all, aren't tanks stalwart defenders of their party?
The effect is unchanged in small raid sizes such as 10man Heroic, although the damage there is rarely lethal, and Mythic+.