For Havoc, the Shadowlands changes are either disappointing, underwhelming, or not good to many of us. A lot of issues have gone unaddressed. Here i’m going to outline most of them, feel free to add more.
Havoc’s rotation is very simple. That’s fine, and it’s a reason many of us enjoy the spec. But many feel that a bit more baseline complexity would be nice to have, especially now that the spec has had time to develop.
Idk what could be done to address this, but i would suggest some sort of new ability that utilizes our resource in an interesting way. Preferably i’d like for this ability to be very hard hitting, as Havoc lacks that big hard hitting ability that many other specs have.
Havoc has one of the longest DPS cooldowns in the game. Having meta on a 4 minute cooldown is ridiculous, and creates some very annoying issues for the spec despite the duration of meta being so long in failed an attempt to offset it’s long cooldown. The main issues are:
Most raid fights with important burn phases are designed with the average DPS cooldown availability in mind (Every 3 minutes) so not having our cooldown for those phases cripples the usefulness of the spec.
Some dungeons are designed with bosses that are very close to each other, resulting in there not being enough time between boss fights for meta to come off cooldown in time to be used on the next boss fight, resulting in Havoc suffering and being less useful for an important part of the dungeon run.
Having frequent access to powerful cooldowns for periods of increased pressure on the enemy is extremely important in PvP, especially rated arenas. So, many havoc players are essentially forced into running the Demonic Origins PvP talent to cover the extreme disadvantage of meta’s long 4 minute cooldown. This locks down a talent choice (or essence choice rn) in most situations and results in less choice for the player.
I think reducing the cooldown of meta to the standard 3 minutes would largely fix these issues for the spec, and would definitely even be worth a decrease in the duration of meta for the sake of balance.
(A 3 minute cooldown with a 20 or 25 second duration is far better than 4 minutes with a 30 second duration)
Whilst it is not uncommon for versatility to have no interaction with a spec’s design, both Critical strike and Mastery have no meaningful interaction with the design of Havoc.
Crit is good for us atm, but it simply acts as a damage increase. In legion it was tied to the chance for Chaos Strike to refund fury. Whilst i do not believe the legion interaction to be necessary (it had issues) I think the stat should have some interaction.
I suggest having our critical strikes from chaos strike have a 30 or 50% chance to reduce the cooldown of Blade dance by a very small amount. This would give the stat more value and give Chaos Strike some purpose in the AoE rotation besides just filling time until the next Eye beam or Blade dance.
Mastery not only suffers from a lack of interaction with the design of the spec, but also from a complete lack of power and poor scaling potential.
I suggest a simple but ideally effective change. Have mastery gradually increase the chance Chaos Strike refunds fury (in addition to it’s current chance). This increase would be very very very small, but it would give the stat some very clear and noticeable value to the spec in a more interactive way. This also slightly fixes how poorly the stat scales.
The design philosophy of the Havoc talent tree is actually quite good. The left talent is always something that is passive and doesn’t change the rotation much. The middle talent is always something that is passive but changes the rotation noticeably or changes core interactions of the spec’s abilities. The final talent in the row is always something active that changes the rotation noticeably.
That design philosophy is great, and it’s not the issue with the talent tree. The issue is the talents themselves. Some talents are just way too strong, way too weak, way too bland, or feel so core to how the spec plays now that it feels bad not taking them (Demonic and Firstblood).
The Bland talents:
- Insatiable Hunger: Both bad and uninteresting. It has never been chosen and will never be chosen .
- Desperate Instincts: Far too weak compared to the other options, and undoubtedly less useful. It’s also way too passive for the middle row and can actually be detrimental to the player as it removes some decision making when it comes to using their defensive cooldown. I suggest replacing it with something that interacts with Blur in an interesting and useful way, or with a weaker version of the Cover of Darkness PvP talent.
- Cycle of Hatred: Not only is this talent both bad and uninteresting, it also creates issues for the spec. Having RNG based cooldown reduction is never good and obstructs the player’s ability to manage their cooldowns effectively, thus removing a large element of skill. Additionally, the cooldown reduction it provides is extremely weak, and made even less effective because of how long the cooldown of meta is.
I suggest that these talents be removed from the talent tree and replaced with much more useful talents. These talents would’t need to be super interesting given their position in their rows, but something more interesting would be a massive improvement.
The Weak talents:
- Fel Mastery: This is an interesting talent, but unfortunately it suffers from just being too weak to compete with the other options, especially since Trail of Ruin can also provide a noticeable Single Target dps increase despite being a talent on a tier focused on AoE. Bringing a mobility spell into the AoE rotation is a good idea, but it also comes with the inherent weakness of asking the player to then choose between having mobility and having more output, unlike the other choices.
- Dark Slash: Getting changed in Shadowlands so i’ll reserve judgment for now, though initial reports aren’t great.
- Unleashed Power: This isn’t entirely uninteresting or useless, but tends to be much less useful for improving Havoc’s overall utility compared to the other options, both of which have very valuable applications.
- Momentum: (addressed in “The Demonic Problem”)
- Nemesis: (addressed in “The Demonic Problem”)
At the moment it looks like we’re very very likely to be using the exact same talent build in Shadowlands as we currently do in patch 8.3 of BfA, with even less choice. That is not a good thing.
The DEMONIC problem:
The biggest issue with both Momentum and Nemesis isn’t their design, though they do have issues, it’s that Demonic is not only extremely good but is also so core to how Havoc plays.
I wrote another post about it here: Demonic in Shadowlands
What i want to focus on here is the fact that Demonic works in every situation the player could ever find themselves in, whilst the others do not.
Momentum isn’t a bad talent. It’s actually kind of interesting. But choosing it doesn’t really work out well in a lot of situations.
-In PvP Fel rush is very important for mobility, something crucial to Havoc
-In the open world players would much rather be able to freely use Fel Rush for mobility.
-Fel Rush just doesn’t do that much damage in Single Target situations, so players feel like they’ve wasted a potential dps action in order to buff themselves with a short term buff.
-For boss fights with a lot of movement, Fel Rush is better used for mobility instead of buffing the player’s damage.
-In some dungeons, trash packs can sometimes be so close that it may be dangerous to fel rush through them, thus causing the player to either have to hold back or waste time re-positioning themselves so that they can fel rush safely without pulling other packs.
Nemesis has the potential to be fairly interesting, but it still has to compete with Demonic. Nemesis does have some pretty interesting applications in Dungeons, whilst questing, and especially in Battlegrounds. However, in all of those situations it’s almost always better to have Demonic instead because of what that talent provides (More Damage and Healing much more frequently). Plus, the talent is just too weak in it’s current form. A 20% increase for 1 minute every 2 minutes sounds nice, but when you actually sit down and figure out how much more valuable it is to have more access to your Meta form abilities, that 20% just isn’t enough. Additionally, any value the talent could have when used in an interesting way is stunted by the the duration not refreshing when you kill the marked enemy. Yeah you now have 20% increased damage on Humanoids, great, but you only have about 20 seconds left of the buff you got from a 2 MINUTE COOLDOWN.
Overall, Demonic is just too strong in that row. I suggest either reworking these talents, buffing them by a lot, or fulfilling the wishes of many Havoc players by making Demonic baseline and replacing the talent with something these two can compete with.
Finally, i wanted to talk about firstblood and it’s issues. Alot of us have grown used to having this talent and enjoy using Blade Dance in our Single Target rotations. Many of us want to see this talent baseline, but i believe that due to the current design of Havoc that would be problematic.
The issue is the rotations. Each dps spec has 2 rotations, Single Target and AoE. These rotations are never exactly the same. There is always at least 1 different ability that is either added (like bladeflurry) or replaces something (like chain lightning).
The same is true for Havoc, but only without Firstblood.
-Single Target Rotation: Demon’s bite, Chaos Strike, Eye Beam.
-AoE Rotation: Demon’s bite, Chaos Strike, Blade dance, Eye beam.
Spot the difference? It’s Blade Dance. JUST Blade Dance.
Here’s the rotations with Firstblood (talented or even made baseline)
-ST Rotation: Demon’s bite, Chaos strike, Blade Dance, Eye Beam.
-AoE Rotation: Demon’s bite, Chaos Strike, Blade Dance, Eye Beam.
Spot the difference? No, you didn’t. There is no difference. And that’s the problem. THAT is why we can’t have First blood’s effect baseline. It’s fine as a talent in the eyes of the developers because that change in the rotation is made by the player and is not baseline.
But many of us want it baseline. Many of us would argue that the spec NEEDS Firstblood baseline. But the lack of any other difference between our ST and AoE rotations is preventing that change from being appealing to the developers.
So, i suggest a sort of big change, that if implemented would allow the developers to make Firstblood baseline without compromising their design goal of having the Single target and AoE rotations be different baseline.
I suggest adding a new passive to Havoc that would bring Fel Mastery into the baseline AoE rotation. Call it “Chaotic Flurry” or wtv, but it would ideally read like:
“Hitting 3 or more targets with Fel Rush causes chaos strike to hit up to 5 targets in front of you for the next 5 seconds”
This would turn the AoE Rotation into: Demon’s bite, Chaos Strike, Fel Rush, Blade Dance, Eye Beam. (which is different from the single target rotation if Firstblood is made baseline)
Now, this would have similar issues to those i mentioned with Fel Mastery and Momentum, but as a baseline interaction within the spec those issues are less vulnerable to those problems as the player doesn’t have to give something else up in order to to have that functionality, like with talents. I’m not a dev, i’m not good at this, it’s just a quick idea.
This might be dumb, my idea could very likely suck. BUT YOU GET THE POINT. The baseline AoE rotation has to be different from the single target rotation in some way other than Blade Dance in order for Firstblood to realistically be made baseline. It doesn’t matter how that is done, as long as it is done. You could even bring Throw Glaive into the rotation somehow.
My idea is just a combination of that primary intention and my personal desire for Chaos strike to not be completely useless in AoE situations as it is now. (Plus i like Fel Rushing through groups of enemies, feels dope)
That’s all of the very important things i really wanted to talk about. Feel free to criticize me, add constructive comments, or add additional thoughts on issues you believe the spec has that i didn’t mention. Thank you for reading.