Home > 4.1, 4.2, Affliction > The great Drain Life nerf, looking back

The great Drain Life nerf, looking back

You may have missed it, but a few weeks ago (by now at least) drain life was nerfed.

Drain Life now deals 25% less damage.

This essentially ended the reign of the drain life spec. But why? Was this a pvp nerf? A pve nerf? I’m going to delve into it, and try to figure out why this was so urgent that it has to be hot fixed NOW (well then) instead of waiting for a patch

Self healing
Drain life afflictions self healing was ridiculous,  especially for the amount of damage it put out. Compared to most other classes (bar sub rogues, who it can be argued that already take a damage hit over all) who have to take a damage hit to self heal. Is this a good thing? Yes. I believe it is. It raises the skill of the class to some degree. When is it ok to self heal? When can I drop my damage a bit to self heal? It will reward players who can watch their health, know the encounter and damage outputs at various times of the encounter.

Homogenization
Theres already a caster DPS, focused around DoTs and a channeled filler, the imitations, the shadow priests. Our main points of difference were soul swap, dispersion, and a casted vs channeled filler. By allowing drain life to be a competitive spec, if not the top affliction spec, this removed one point of difference between our specs. This is something the developers have to be very careful about. They are trying to bring everyone in line, and make every class equal, but different. These two specs may have just been a little too similar.

Using drain life as a filler in pve is somewhat convoluted
To put this simply, having a spec that required interrupting a channeled spell with near perfect timing, and near non-existent lag, and the typical player just doesn’t have those.

Drain life, when played correctly (to the best of my knowledge) would require players to interrupt the drain life spell to recast dots, haunt, or even instant shadow bolts. But in order to pull this of you would want to interrupt drain life the instant a tick was done. While perfect interrupts may be possible in a simcraft, in real life we have reaction times, and latency, both of which would mess with our ability to interrupt this perfectly. Interrupt it to early? Sorry you might as well have sat around for the last second doing nothing. To late? Sorry you just sat around for the last half a second doing nothing. Doing this once or twice may not be horrible, but if this were to happen every time you start looking at a significant amount of lost time, which equates to lost damage and DPS.

Scaling
Does drain life just scale to well? Even with the nerf it appears that drain life affliction is the top spec (by all of 300 dps) in 372 gear. Where will it be in T2 gear? T3? Deathwing gear? Will we see tier by tier nerfs (similar to warriors in general in wrath) just to keep drain life in check? If so this is a mistake on blizzards behalf. This is something that they wanted to avoid for cataclysm. We will have to wait and see what happens on this one, if they continue to nerf drain life, or simply change it.

A popular argument for why this is so, is that drain life scales with mastery while shadow bolt does not. Assuming they both scale with haste and crit equally, they both scale differently with spell power, the “almighty” stat. Its also easy to look at the stat priority’s for drain life affliction and see that mastery isn’t all that great for this spec.

But why couldn’t this change wait?
This is where I felt blizzard screwed up. Why couldn’t this change wait for the patch? As opposed to putting it in the patch and then jerking us by taking it out. Only to see it in the hot fix notes a few days later. We don’t like being jerked around blizzard.

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