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WoWFeb 9, 2018 5:00 pm CT

Battle for Azeroth alpha: The current state of class buffs

We’re all excited about the return of Battle Shout and other, lesser party and raid buffs, right? At BlizzCon 2017 we saw from the hands on with Battle for Azeroth that just about every class had some form of raid/party buff. But that was an early hands on build. Now, with the Battle for Azeroth alpha live we’re seeing a somewhat scaled down system with fewer class and party buffs.

Class buffs

In the hands-on at BlizzCon 2017, every class had some kind of raid-wide buff. In the alpha, only five classes do. Mages get Arcane Intellect giving 10% Intellect to all party/raid members. Priests get Power Word: Fortitude, giving 10% Stamina. Warriors get Battle Shout, which buffs all allies within 100 yards with 10% Strength and Agility. Essentially, these three buff primary stats, giving everyone more health and damage.

If you don’t have a Mage, Priest or Warrior in your group, your friendly scribes can help. Inscription now has three War Scrolls to compensate — the War-Scroll of Intellect, War-Scroll of Fortitude, and the War-Scroll of Battle Shout. All three of these grant the same benefit as the ability they mimic, but at 7% instead of the 10% of the actual ability.

Meanwhile Rogues now get Expose Armor, increasing physical damage taken by the target by 5% for one minute. Finally, Demon Hunters get Chaos Brand, which makes the target take 5% extra magic damage for one minute.

Less is more

I’ll be up front — I like the newer model better. Twelve class buffs was going to be a nightmare to keep track of. Now you’ll just say “Do we have Fort/Int/Shout? No? Someone get a scroll from the bank please,” and move on. Plus the buffs that we ended up getting are at 10% instead of 5%, and that’s a nice improvement. But I don’t play Paladins, Druids or Warlocks very often and I could see why they’d be upset. Paladins were the buff-bots back in classic. Druids had Mark of the Wild for years. As for Warlocks, they get to see Demon Hunters take yet another thing from them.

Compared to the full suite of buffs from the hands on, this seems like a substantial paring down of what looked to be plenty of class diversity. The hands on didn’t list anything for Shaman, but everybody else got something. And in one case the ability Warlocks were supposed to get is instead being given to Demon Hunters. A case could certainly be made that Warlocks don’t need any more raid utility. These buffs are being given to classes that are otherwise suffering a little in terms of “Why bring X when Y does all they do and brings more utility” arguments. But it’s still early yet in the Alpha process. It’s unclear if any more class buffs like these are coming, or if these five will even make it to live.

I feel like the one most players are disappointed by is Mark of the Wild. Not because people were that hungry for a raid wide Versatility buff, but out of pure nostalgia for the old days of the Paw buff up on their screen. Maybe let Druids do a Mark of the Wild that combines all three at about 5%, so it works as a pinch hit buff but doesn’t eclipse any of them? At any rate, this is alpha — so we’ll see how many buffs we actually end up with down the road.

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