AOE changes in Shadowlands

We’ve definitely heard a lot of feedback from players that bursting down larger and larger pulls has become an overly dominant tactic in much of the game. This is particularly evident in questing and dungeons, which has made it difficult for many classes to find a clear role.

While there are a number of variables contributing to this trend, high burst area of effect (AOE) damage against an unlimited number of targets has made it increasingly possible for players to take down large groups of enemies without the players ever facing a proportionate level of danger. In Shadowlands, we’re looking at changes that would broaden the field of tactical options, and in the process, more clearly differentiate the strengths of classes in a variety of AOE situations.

For example, we’d like to see Outlaw Rogues or Fury Warriors excel in situations with 4 to 5 targets in close proximity to each other, while ranged casters like Frost Mages or Affliction Warlocks perform better in sustained damage against groups of 5 or more targets. To accomplish this, we need to revisit the maximum number of targets that many abilities can hit (also known as the ability’s “target cap”), and adjust them accordingly. In situations where a target cap doesn’t make sense, we’re adding a new kind of damage falloff that causes the damage done to each target to be reduced gradually as the number of targets increases.

Most players who are used to fighting 3 to 5 enemies at a time will notice very little difference with this approach. On the other hand, players who are accustomed to pulling 10-20 enemies at a time will experience longer, more threatening engagements. Sustained AOE damage may become an equally viable option in that situation, but both approaches will put significantly more pressure on the group to survive.


What are the dev’s thoughts on Starfall?

I cannot seem to find a target cap for it. Our AOE for Balance Druid is certainly split between DOT application and Starfall.

Will Starfall be an exception to the “rule”?


I am going to link this here even though you don’t mention anything about leveling up but right now there is a problem with some classes not getting AoE until the equivalent of lvl 50 or so.


A major issue with AOE cap is contribution.

There’s no problem by and large with an AOE cap as long as the avenue of content doesn’t overly favor one direction or another. However, consider m+.

The current means for advancing in M+ content relies around pulling MANY things and micro-ing your way through the packs. This means you HAVE to have heavy amounts of AOE cleave and outright AOE damage. You also often times need many AOE stuns, ST stuns, and interrupts. By and Large this has favored melee most of this expansion because they have these in their toolkits to combat other casters, it’s the way they were built. However, there’s two ranged classes that still do incredibly well… BM hunter and Mage simply because the amount of damage they can output is VERY good, to the point where you can forego one of those coveted melee spots.

With the significant nerf to AOE in the form of capping melee at 5 targets and letting ranged be uncapped or capped at higher levels this could shift. If the meta is still at the point where you HAVE to pull large groups of mobs together you’re simply going to favor heavy ranged groups and neglect melee, the complete opposite as now.

Not only that but you’re going to do one major thing that’s not really been mentioned by anyone that I’ve noticed… you’re going to limit that “fun” factor. One of the most enjoyable aspects of m+ this expansion has been reaping or those “gigapulls” where you round up as much as possible and just go to town. People ENJOY that. They like to see numbers, they like to compare, it’s competition and challenging and… most of all… It’s FUN.

One of the worst parts of m+ is the constant micro of every single pull where it’s just an interrupt-a-polooza with alternating stuns and aoe stuns and knock backs. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having intermittent coordinated interrupting and stunning but at a certain point much of m+ feels like it’s that entirely. I know I’m personally worried if the content is AOE capped heavily and yet melee can still contribute the reason is going to be because of that playstyle. Gone will be the days where you can overpower content because it’s simply not a threat.

  • I don’t think AOE capping is the solution, and even if it is there has to be something better than capping it at the floor (which is what 5 targets feels like).
  • If you want there to be a cap, it should be universally a cap.
  • If you want classes to be better at AOE, just make them numbers wise better.
  • People want to contribute meaningfully to the content
  • if this means they’re 85% of a fire mage AOE with their AOE so be it, but the offset needs to be worth it on the flipside. And that’s not likely the case.
  • Provide people the ability to do that meaningful contribution through talents, if we don’t have a fire mage let me spec such that I lose some of my ST ability to provide more AOE. Give me choice.
  • Please don’t arbitrarily make a cap because of the playstyles we see on the MDI where near professionals pull polished groups of mobs together and make it look seamless.

It isn’t all that ‘fun’ for the classes/specs that don’t have strong aoe and have a hard time even getting into groups.

I actually think capping is a good idea. DHs shouldn’t be able to pull entire dungeons.


Target capping is fine, but I do sincerely think 5 is too little. I think what was done with Twilight Devastation is a happy medium (5 soft cap, 10 hard cap, damage reduces down to zero after 5).

Side note; Bolstering really does need to be removed entirely from the game if you want to hard cap it at 5.


that’s a class design issue that should be fixed. There’s absolutely no reason that there can’t be a set of AoE talents available in your tree to sub out some ST for more AOE if you need it.

The strict adherence to things like “we want spec X to be good ST and spec Y to be good at cleave” just doesn’t work in practice. The specs taht are good ST are never anywhere close enough in cleave/aoe situations. And the specs that are good at AOE aren’t remotely paying a ST penalty. It’s time to put away those old mentalities… they should have gotten thrown out with the whole “hybrid tax” thoughts.

What’s the point of talents if not to fill a niche a bit better to augment something for your group comp. Some specs don’t even change talents regardless of the content, and that’s terrible.


idk man i just saw this bear druid pulling like all of bastion he was fine.

: /

guess i could prolly do that too idk.

So now you are just saying that instead of there being nuance in the game (choosing a cleave comp or a full aoe comp), all classes should just do full aoe and be more like each other. Not really productive at that point, because then you’d still end up not being selected if your full aoe spec is tiers below another.

Do you have any specific examples of this? Unholy DK, the best AoE in the game right now, is not very good at ST. It is only topping meters on fights with a good amount of AoE (Wrathion, Hivemind, Carapace) and quickly falls behind if there’s less than 3 targets available to attack (Shad’har, Ra-den, Xanesh, N’zoth).

Arcane is still able to push into upper DPS limits over Fire Mage on pure ST, but obviously the issue with Fire right now is how absurd they scale with Mastery and how much Mastery% corruption you can fit in as the patch lingers due to ever-increasing Corruption resistance. But remove all that, and Arcane would be well above Fire in ST.

The point of talents is to either augment your existing playstyle of offer a different playstyle choice. But I don’t believe that different playstyle choice should be completely changing a spec from ST focused to AoE focused to the point it is able to both compete in pure ST fights and pure AoE fights.


I understand the intention, but this will have big, unintended consequences. If you absolutely need to do this, then the cap should be 10 at the very least.

In my opinion, capping the enemies at 5 unintentionally caps a lot of the excitement as well. I totally get wanting to curb rounding up an entire dungeon, but for many people, many classes (and even many games), the big pull and burn down is one of the most fun parts and challenges of PVE in general.

You would inadvertently be killing a huge part of that fun factor. Trust me, there are other ways to get where you want to go. If you force the cap to 5, you will see real, tangible pushback and abandonment.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true.


Don’t trade fun for numbers

Adding to my previous post, I briefly mentioned other games, but let’s stick to just MMOs for a moment, namely Black Desert. I don’t personally play the game anymore, but if you ask what most people love about it, two of the top reasons would be visuals and fierce end game mob grinding. And I can attest to the fact that it is insanely satisfying to gather a field of enemies and use everything in your arsenal to burn them down in a cacophony of area of effect destruction.

Now do I want WoW to be Black Desert? God no, I’m loyal to my Warcraft. But I want to emphasize one point - if you put in place this prospective hard cap, you may put an envious smile on the faces of single target focused specs, but you’ll do it at the expense of the AOE loving players. And you’ll be trading a tiny bit of top 5% raid/dungeon balancing for raw Fun factor.

And if you insist on it anyway, you WILL lose a sizable percentage of the rest of us who love running open world, transmog, crafting mats, mounts, titles, achievements etc etc, who don’t give two poops about ridiculous high end tiny number balancing. Especially when other methods are totally within your grasp. Don’t make that mistake, Blizzard.


I myself definitely fall under this category. I’ve given a long and hard thought about the AoE changes and this might just ruin running old dungeons for me.

I tested this out on my Sublety Rogue (Shruriken storm has 8 target cap in Alpha) in Stormwind Stockade on both retail and alpha. I gathered up every enemy in here and started spamming Shuriken Storm (SS).

In the table below I pasted my results in how many SS it took to kill everything and the different times it took to kill everything after gathering them up.

Retail Alpha
SS Casts 1 16
Time 1s 23s

This would obviously increase in time the lower the target cap goes.

I would suggest adding a buff to legacy dungeons, raids and zones which removes the target cap on all AoE abilities.


I still think it’s better to just cap the damage, like a Meteor effect, rather than cap the number of targets hit.


Stupid distinction here. Target caps restrict party combinations. When you have some classes only able to damage 3-5 targets and other 5 or more, it prevents one group from maximizing their damage. Most likely pulls will then be done to the lowest common denominator, and some classes will never be able to maximize their damage for fear of overwhelming the limited target class. Come on think man.


This is a bad change like the GCD change.

When you have a mosquito problem you do not burn down your house or throw a missile or flamethrower at it. You guys have a small problem and you brought in a nuclear option.

In all goes back to class design. Some talents are useless, for many classes, make them more useful closing the gap in AOE utility or cleave.


Is this really the issue here though? The number of targets that can be hit? I honestly don’t feel super strongly one way or the other about this change. However, I do think they may be looking in the wrong place.

If the tank takes a meaningful amount of damage for each mob pulled then he can pull large numbers of mobs for the group to AoE, or if he can’t hold aggro on all f them with a push of a button, the mobs start killing DPS.

I feel like tanking in general found a way to creep far beyond the scope of what developers had envisioned for the expansion. Other roles did as well, but this fix addresses one problem without acknowledging another.


Hey, uhh…

I hated this when Beta testing most classes, and I hate this while playing the prepatch. In fact, I don’t think I can name a single person who actually doesn’t hate this god-awful change.

Can you please revert it? I strongly dislike having such an arbitrary AoE cap, and it absolutely won’t address the issue you guys think it’s going to address.


Five months later, the vast majority of people do not like the change. Feedback telling you how awful it feels and nothing is being mentioned. Tack this on to the gcd change no one wanted, 4+ years of telling you we dont like borrowed power and what are players left to think at this point?