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WoWApr 17, 2018 4:00 pm CT

Blizzard makes more changes to the GCD in Battle for Azeroth’s latest alpha build

The Battle for Azeroth alpha is now rolling along with even more changes to the global cooldown, changes that will affect every class in the game in some way. The folks at Wowhead datamined the original changes last month, and now Blizzard’s added a host of new additions to the GCD. They’ve not only added two distinct kinds of cooldown time — 0.5 seconds and 1.5 seconds — but they’ve expanded the kinds of abilities on the GCD to include abilities that are much broader than merely offensive cooldowns.

The ebb and flow of combat

In the past, Blizzard has said they want to regulate the flow of combat, and certainly, this is going to change radically how it will be paced. Many abilities will cause you to have at least a 0.5 second cooldown before you can do anything else, which doesn’t sound like much. But it means macros will no longer chain abilities.

If, for example, you have a macro that lets you Death Grip someone to you and simultaneously hit Dancing Rune Weapon to do more damage to that target, you’ll now need to wait a half second before you can hit DRW. Then you’ll have to wait 1.5 seconds before you can hit anything else on the GCD.

Death grip

Delaying the chain

A lot of abilities like Grappling Hook, Charge, Intercept, Heroic Leap, Death Grip, and others used to close the gap between an attacker and a target are now 0.5 second GCD abilities, but Leap of Faith doesn’t seem to be as of this build. Defensive cooldowns like the Paladin Aura Mastery, Hand of the Protector, Shield of Vengeance, and Light of the Protector are all on the 1.5 second GCD, which will certainly make players more reluctant to use other abilities for fear of not having one of these available when needed. In general, big defensive or healing cooldowns seem to be on the 1.5 second GCD while movement/gap-closers are on the 0.5 second one.

Classes that are either very mobile, very strong at defense/self-healing, or both are definitely going to feel the change. Mostly, a 0.5 second GCD just keeps you from chaining stuff — you won’t be Charging and immediately hitting a cooldown once you reach your target, for example. But a 1.5 second GCD after a big defensive ability means that you’re limiting what players can do after they hit the “Oh Snap” button, which is an interesting change. Seeing Mana Tea on the 1.5 second GCD means that once that Monk discounts all of their mana costs, they’ll be waiting a bit before using another ability on the GCD, but it won’t completely stop them from healing, so it’s not crippling.

How things will change

The idea of controlling the flow of combat seems like it’s mostly aimed at macros to me. Has WoW gotten that out of hand? I don’t know, but then again, I don’t raid at the hardest level or PVP enough to where I’d feel like every millisecond counts. For players who are used to having everything set up to go like that, this will definitely be a big adjustment period.

It’s going to feel weird seeing the GCD lock out things when I hit Charge on my Warrior or Harpoon on my Hunter. I’m definitely not used to that when I use a mobility move to get into range, and it feels uniquely punitive to melee players.

We’ll see how it goes once Battle for Azeroth goes live.

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