External cooldowns/buffs on other players in group settings

I want to have a discussion about external cooldowns/buffs cast on other players. I’m talking about:

  • Kindred Empowerment/Spirits (Kryian Druid ability): “Energize your bonded partner, granting them 20% of your damage as additional Arcane damage, healing, or absorption.
  • Power Infusion (Priest ability): “Infuses the target with power for 20 sec, increasing haste by 25%.
  • Fae Guardians/Benevolent Faerie (Night Fae Priest ability): “Increases the cooldown recovery rate of your target’s major ability by 100%
  • Focus Magic (Mage ability): “Increases the target’s chance to critically hit with spells by 5% for 30 min. When the target critically hits your Intellect and chance to critically hit with spells is increased by 5% for 10 sec. Cannot be cast on self. Limit 1 target.

Past abilities include Tricks of the Trade/Thick as Thieves from rogues that would buff the %damage of the rogue’s tricks target, Dark Intent from Warlocks when it was cast on oneself and another player, and allowed that other player %spell damage and healing bonus (and then was a raid/party buff before being removed). I know there’s been others in the past, but these two stand out the most in memory from raiding in Cata/MoP.

What are your thoughts on these types of external player buffs and their role in the game with regards to raiding?

I think they’re interesting - but they can also be problematic. If someone’s counterpart in raid is the one getting all the druid beams and PI’s and they’re getting zilch, it’s not fun. Makes it hard for others in the raid to keep up, or on the flipside the person who gets all the buffs and is able to parse just gets hassled. Competition makes farm/re-clear interesting for a lot of folks, but external CDs/buffs that target just one player on week 20 of re-clear like this can increase salt intake.

What could be something that helps this but also keeps things interesting? Making druid beam or PI a short (5-10 second) raid/party buff instead of targetable on a specific player? Making it so those abilities are self-cast only?

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I think self-cast only is a more likely scenario, though I don’t hate it being a party buff similar to Windfury Totem.

Sure, but there is also the strategy behind it. What do you like more? Having a fun 20 seconds or killing the boss? Not saying PI targets will always make/break a fight, but it is definitely beneficial to have it on a certain target in certain windows.

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Fantasy or thematically wise they’re cool but in practice they’re far from it. They encourage a lot of degenerate gameplay and people will flame each other and cause drama over them. I think they should be kept as a self cast thing (I posted alternatives in my next reply).

Also while on the topic of buffs, it would be nice if other classes also get buffs like we had in mop. Right now we have
DH - Magic
Mage - Int
Monk - Physical
War - Attack
Priest - Stam

Just give more classes the same buffs so you can have alternatives to missing a class in your group.

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Yes yes yes yes yes. I’d love for each of these buffs to be added to another class (Also you missed priest :wink: )

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Yeah mb, added it

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Lets just give DK all 5 so I can feel good about myself :smiley:

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Right now they come with a massive balancing issue on the PvP side of things, more specifically Blessing of Summer (as the rest are much smaller increases).

Summer, paired with it’s legendary, is the core of the rampant oneshot comps running around. There is not only no skill to be found against a Kyrian Ret pala getting a Summer and a Dark Archangel + PI (and further buffs in RBGs such as multiple Warrior Banners), on top of all that, Divine Toll with it’s RNG proc and Final Reckoning already doing a lot of dmg at range. All the paladin has to do is do one sudden swap to a target.

Other than that, I think they have a perfect spot in the game. PvEers are of course not entirely happy about it, since the buffs mess with logs, and not everybody gets them, but… I usually have my Priests on a payroll :]
Jokes aside, I think they’re fine. People need to stop worrying about their logs not being perfect and instead focus on playing at their maximum capacity, to clear the content with the team. Most people who beg for buffs in my experience are the players that are normally too weak to perform without them. Now, as for those who just REALLY want to push their logs… IDK what to say to that.

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I don’t think it’s purely a focus on logs and that statement may be a little dismissive. It’s more in regards to players who are clearing this content for the 28th week straight and are looking for ways to make it interesting (i.e., different legendaries, covenants, builds, DPS competitions…) but that’s being twarted when there’s 2 mages and only one of them is being funneled external buffs.

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I used to give our DK Dark Intent back in Firelands because I didn’t like our Shadow Priest… and see, that may be part if the problem with these external buffs, lol.

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Well that’s not really an issue of external buffs and rather that Blizzard is simply not quick enough to release new content because they keep spreading their resources too thin.

Make too thin of a pancake, it burns too easily. Make it too thick, it won’t cook.

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Lol. It absolutely is. But kudos for giving it to the DK :smiley:

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You beat me to this thread so I’ll just post what I was going to post here xd. There’s a few elements to these external damage buffs.

On one hand, in theory they are awesome. You as a player choose to buff an ally and make them stronger. For progression oriented guilds it offers a minor strategy element to buff certain classes that excel in moments an example being venthyr balance druids to help push that crucial burn phase. For friends, you get to watch your friend do big damage and get high parses. On another hand, a portion of guilds control the buff and who it goes to, some classes will never see the buff because it’s minor dps gains for them even if it’ll make them feel better. In almost all instances of external buffs the player of the class has to give up something to provide said buff. Balance druids have to give up Venthyr, or Shadow priests have to give up Power infusion for themselves, both of which are massive personal DPS losses.

One of the things that people will end up doing on farm after a certain point is trying to “parse” or do the most damage possible in a fight to high ranks either on all star points, or just to get a rank 1 on overall dps for their class on certain fights. The issue is that with how strong cooldowns are in WoW currently, some specs just gain monstrous amounts of damage from giving them as much juice from externals as possible. Some examples being Fire mage with Sunking has to get PI to really get benefits from the legendary. Demonology is another one, as is Venthyr balance druid since these specs are so focused on these very small damage windows juicing them at certain times is just unmatched damage. So with the original intent of “buffing your friends” and giving extra utility to certain specs has turned into “this cooldown has to be given to X player at this time of the fight because his class just uses it the best”.

On logs right now there’s 94 out of 100 demonology sylvanas logs that are given at least one external buff, for Boomkins there’s 74 who receive at least one buff, for both specs this is usually power infusion. For Fire mages, there’s 42 who receive at least 1 buff. On the very top of these specs especially they are receiving an absurd amount of external juice just skyrocketing them in damage, and sometimes buffs you’ve never seen somebody use. Some fights players will get Kyrian empowerment, Fae blessings, Power infusion, Night fae blessings from a paladin, AND conqueror’s banner. Not only is this discouraging to players who don’t 10+ external buffs because their raid team decided “this week we are giving x player all of the juice” but this also creates a lot of tension at times with clashing egos from people arguing “this person doesn’t deserve these buffs”. Now as stated earlier, there are positives when it comes to externals as it lets classes like Enhancement shaman, or less popular covenants such as Night Fae paladins still bring benefit to the raid, but personally the drama surrounding externals and how much it turns comparing yourself to other players for DPS into less of a “how good is this player at their spec” into a game of “can I convince my raid team to play sub-optimally to give me all these externals”.

Another issue with externals in general is that all of them come at a pretty hefty personal cost. Shadow priest players in Castle Nathria had to argue with raid leaders just to be able to use their own cooldown on themselves, specs like balance or feral druid have to go a numerically weaker covenant just to give buffs to other people. A few years ago when starting Battle For Azeroth Blizzard removed the option of master loot due to the fact that it’s not a great feeling when an item drops for your character and you are told to give it to somebody else because “it more damage for somebody else” or you are potentially a trail in a brand new guild and maybe you haven’t proven yourself enough to be given loot over a veteran guild member. Whether or not I agree or disagree with this sentiment, the exact same train of thought can be applied towards external buffs. Joining a new guild and being told “give this personal DPS gain to somebody else because they are better with it” is not a great feeling. While I personally like externals there are a few issues that should be ironed out moving forward. An example of a type of change I would like to see is make power infusion apply to yourself, AND your target. Shadow priests players are now able to buff themselves for big damage, while also buffing a friend and watching them do big damage, rather than being pressured into giving it to somebody else because your GM said that this person is better for it. If something like this is changed I think it’s fair to also make it so they are a little less powerful so it doesn’t feel insurmountable to increase your overall damage in any other way than getting the same juice that somebody a higher rank than you was getting.

As stated earlier, buffs are a good thing, the fact enhancement shaman performs pretty middling but a lot of high end guilds right now are really trying to fit enhancement shamans into their raid rosters is great, and they benefit from the buff themselves as well as others. The ugly part of raid buffs dpes exists and I think there are pretty simple ways to help this moving forward.

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This is a good topic, and a difficult one because it gets to a lot of questions about varying player tastes. No definitive answer–and we want people to keep talking about it–but a few thoughts:

One goal you have might be maximizing your chances at killing the boss. Another goal you have might be maximizing your position on a ranking website. Those goals sometimes lead you toward different behavior. It’s not really up to us to tell people which one to pursue. But we do design towards keeping the first one interesting and rewarding. Choices where players are explicitly thinking about maximizing the group’s output (things like external buffs, or group-level cooldown coordination) contribute to that. These can sometimes make the second goal less clear (for example, because buffs make it hard to account for everyone’s damage contribution), and so far we are okay with that.

Another way of looking at this is: the “killing the boss” goal is made by us. The “ranking” goal is made and managed by players. Players can–and should!–do what they want with it. Adaptations like asterisking logs which include Power Infusion are already occurring. The rankings are an expression of what players choose to value, to use as a mark of individual achievement. We all know that someone’s value to a group is not solely determined by their DPS meter, even though it’s a useful tool. Guild recruiters evaluating players know that various kinds of contributions aren’t reflected there. Contributions like Power Infusion aren’t obvious on them either, but similarly, that is an analysis problem left to players.

One of the most difficult aspects of this topic is social tension. Sometimes people argue with their teammates about buffs. It’s very understandable, to me, why one possible response someone might have for that is–this can put you at odds with your own groupmates, so stamp it out. The flip side of that is: this is part and parcel of playing with real people in a large cooperative group. And preserving the human element of group play in WoW, not boiling it down to predictable mechanical interactions, is an important value. See for example, the common lament that group-finder content has lost a lot of the human interaction from the experience. Mechanics that involve interacting with groupmates bring out both the good and the bad of that, and that might be better than having neither.

Trying to be as transparent as possible: so far we have not constrained our designs to require meter/ranking clarity and fairness, where doing so would compromise other values. On a gut level, a simple, compelling, familiar RPG concept is: a thing your class can do is give one person a buff. It’s a minority of abilities in WoW, but it would feel like a huge step to say: that is no longer valid concepting for WoW abilities at all–that enabling high-fidelity ranking is so important that a certain ability design space is closed off.

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I want it to be clear, these goals are very clearly different with respect to the time in the tier - in prog, almost every group I’ve played with is full on teamwork mode to get the boss done. We are all looking at who can best utilize PI or some such to kill the boss without respect to damage/parses. It also is similar to picking a class like Windwalker on Soulrender but then benching them on Guardian. It makes sense to do this to get the boss done.

However, prog eventually comes to an end. We get good enough at these fights, with gear and experience, that this is superfluous. Farm comes along and simply killing the boss loses a lot of interest in many people because it’s often a foregone conclusion with a steady roster. People end up wanting to push their spec to the limit rather than push the fight to the limit.

Group buffs like this are GREAT in prog and really feel cool. I’ve never had animosity happen from them during prog, only farm. They are terrible in farm.

I am not sure the best approach to fix this and maintain these buffs in the game, but it’s good to understand that almost every player that I’ve encountered becomes both the ‘toxic PI begger’ during farm and the ‘teamwork-oriented kill the boss player’ during prog. These aren’t separate people, these are separate times in the tier. It can be fun during prog, but annoying during farm.

I don’t know for sure, but if I were a betting man I’d bet that most of people’s raidhours over a year is spent on farm. Do we really want the toxic part of that equation to be a majority of peoples’ raidtime at the end of the day?

Edit: I want to add some more to this.
Haste in particular is super hit-or-miss as a useful stat. It can come in breakpoints for some classes (a WW going from fitting 1-2 RSKs in a Bonedust Brew window, to fitting 2-3 RSKs in the same window), or it can be just always amazing for another (Venthyr boomie just getting more and more ramp from the haste). These disparities can often make it feel like missing PI is missing a core piece of your class, and giving it to someone else (in farm - prog is somewhat fine IMO) doesn’t feel like you’re helping your team but rather losing something yourself. Another example - warrior can just be outright ragestarved when comparing windfury totem to no windfury totem. You’re missing an entire piece of your class without it, and that is the sucky part.

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The problem I have with this is that when it comes to external buffs like Power Infusion, almost always the person using it gets nothing or almost nothing in return without giving up power elsewhere. They’re directly giving up power of their own to funnel into someone else as opposed to giving the whole group some kind of benefit (like lust).

I think group-level cooldowns such as bloodlust achieve the above in a lot better way than 1 person externals especially considering how much power is frontloaded in most of them.

Both cases help with the goal of coordinating something as a group and downing a boss, except the 1 man external gets to be experienced by only 1 person from the whole group which is odd to me because in the end it’s a team effort to down a boss.

I think that’s a fair thing to say but I don’t think the execution holds that well when the social aspect is mixed in. Windfury totem in my opinion achieves this in a lot better way by affecting the whole group of the shaman, the downside being it only affects the shaman’s party so the rest of the people are still unaffected. Even then I think it’s a lot healthier design by having more than 1 person benefit from such buffs. Even better if the buff at the very least affects the caster.

Also on an other note, with cooldowns such as windfury and power infusion some classes get affected quite a lot because of the way they interact. So when the buffs aren’t there it does feel quite bad.

Yes it’s the players who manage it and go after it, but in the end it’s you guys who can directly affect the way external buffs are handled by ajusting stuff like this. If something gets added and is widely considered toxic because how most people act about it, then what can the rest do?

My take is that if it affects more people/the whole group or at the very least the person casting it people wouldn’t be causing drama over it and it would fulfil the RPG fantasy you mentioned.

Finally in an other post I commented about the regular buffs that we currently have:

Any thoughts on maybe bringing more buffs back in the way we had them back in mop? Right now some classes in a raid setting bring nothing more than damage and when that damage isn’t there a lot of people will simply exclude them because others can bring both.

Not to mention that these buffs stack so if you’re a caster and you miss a DH and a Mage, you’re missing on 5% int and 5% magic damage done which is quite significant.

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When considering class specific buffs such as windfury, battle shout, etc. this becomes painfully true. Having a priest, warrior, mage, monk, and DH in your group has become the standard for raiding. With melee spots being limited as it is, if other classes cannot provide the same broad level of utility, what are they to do? Waiting for the one, single encounter for things like binding shot, or death grip to be useful does not compete with providing a raidwide buff which can apply for every encounter. I would love to see the MoP buff design brought back, or at a minimum, provide some alternatives to these buffs like the inscription scrolls in BFA / drums.

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Bring back the two monk buffs and we should be golden in terms of group buffs been missing those my entire life since they removed them

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I understand this conversation is geared around retail, but I think it’s really worth mentioning as a whole relating to game design as a concept.

I main a boomkin in TBC, and innervate is no longer a “cool buff/cooldown” but something that’s constantly and consistently argued and fought over. Same with PI. These aren’t buttons that feel good to me to press at all. Do I give a mage my vate and be far more mana deficient? Or do I feel guilty about using my own vate even though it helps me out personally? It’s a button that I honestly wish just wasn’t there due to how many heated arguments I’ve seen happen, and this happens in really any guild, casual to hardcore. It’s a situation where it feels like everyone loses.

In an ideal world, you could split the buff effect in half and give half to the caster and half to the recipient, just to incentivize those buttons feeling good to use. I want my mages to do great dps, but as a boomie who is already doomed to sit near the bottom of the meters, it would be nice to not feel bad about using my own ability on myself, too.

Cooldowns and buttons should never feel bad to press.

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I like the idea of a party wide buff, as it allows players who generally don’t have a way to contribute to the group composition to do so.

At the level I play our group composition is dictated solely based off of who is available, and who is playing what class. We don’t attempt to min/max our encounters by having designated required classes. As a result of this there may be scenarios where we have say priests but no shamans, or druids but no paladins. The idea that we could still receive a group-wide benefit without needing to bring in those specific classes is an extremely exciting idea.

My only concern is that their input may not be felt by a majority of the group, making pressing the button and disrupting your rotation seem inconsequential. An example of this are some of the passive buffs classes can bring - like Mystic Touch, where enemies take increased physical damage when hit by a monk.

As long as the power level remains decent, it would be incredibly fun to see that concept introduced.

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On the subject of PIs & such abilities, I think the solution of having both the player and another member of the group get a buff would solve a part of the social friction: you would never have to sacrifice your performance to buff someone else’s. There is still the issue of who gets the external part, but at least the originating player doesn’t feel guilty of pressing the button.

On the matter of raid-wide buffs, at this point I think I would prefer for them to not be there. High-level groups feel they are mandatory, they are generally passive so they don’t bring anything really useful to the gameplay except an increase in numbers. Windfury at least isn’t just a flat % increase (as an Arms Warrior at least, it changes things for me), and it’s effect is limited to the party instead of the whole raid, which makes it’s presence or absence less noticeable.

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