There’s something strange happening with certain specs’ DPS in the Dragoflight pre-patch, as some are suddenly doing crazy amounts of damage. Normally we’d just attribute it to a “pre-patch chaos of two expansion systems interacting”, but our Blood Death Knight guide writer Mandl found some very interesting things going on. So let’s take a look at what’s happening and why it’s significant not just for the pre-patch, but how these specs might work in Dragonflight itself as well.
Why are Direct Damage Procs so Busted right now?
As you may have seen on logs and general statistics, an unusual trend has been taking place for most of the pre-patch: Guardian Druids have been doing a slightly incredible amount of damage. They are not the only ones, however – lucky Gavel users, including Blood Death Knights, often see themselves walking out of boss fights with Kyrian or Venthyr boons doing 30 to 40 percent of their damage. This is new to the Dragonflight pre-patch, and seemingly came without notice. What happened?
The answer to this mystery lies in a sneaky change that occurred sometime during the Dragonflight beta cycle. All effects, both dealing direct damage, direct healing or absorbs, work off a relatively simple set of curves, whose points are pre-computed and stored in game data. Back in September, build number 45570 modified the one used by virtually all direct damage effects, multiplying all values by 1.65 (a 65% gain). A hotfix applied just before pre-patch launch (build 46293) reduced this down to 50%, which is the value we see today on live servers.
To give you an idea of the breadth of this change, these are some of the effects that were directly modified by this change:
The cap threshold of Codex of the First Technique (which doesn’t really matter as it was already unreachable in normal circumstances).
The last point in particular led to some interesting rumors of Shadowed Orb of Torment killing players out of the blue shortly after pre-patch launch, and this is not impossible to understand. It also allows us to quickly and efficiently verify this change, as friendly fire damage is unaffected by Versatility or other damage increases or reduction effects. Check out the difference below:
Season 4 tick value (mythic ilvl)
Pre-patch tick value (mythic ilvl)
This change has greatly benefited some players and specs, and greatly cost others. Blood Death Knights (thanks to Gavel), Guardian Druids (thanks to Gavel and Cache) and Rogues (Banshee’s Blight also benefited from this, along with Cache and Fusion Amplifier) came out as clear winners. On the other side of the scale, most casters likely got hurt by this, as Shadowed Orb of Torment is a clear favorite trinket, and in this particular case, the effect that got buffed was the friendly fire (negative) effect.
With this in mind, some of the log data from pre-patch starts to make more sense: this parse in particular, from Dec 8k above the competition, makes sense. This was not previously easy to do, but due to the removal of some of the borrowed power present in Shadowlands along with this 50% buff, a single Gavel roll can easily account for 25% of their damage.
More worryingly, however, is the distorted image this may convey of specific specs, Guardian Druids being the prime example of this. With the triple Fated affix being introduced, along with all bosses being fated, it is now possible to have Chaotic Motes on almost every boss – a situation that greatly benefits Guardian Druids, as they can very easily deal massive damage to the motes by simply using Ravenous Frenzy at the same time. This skews damage dealt massively in their favor, as seen on logs like this one, with a Guardian Druid easily towering above the rest of the raid.
To make matters even worse, Thrash can directly proc Vicious Wound (the bleed debuff from Cache of Acquired Treasures, one of the trinkets buffed by the change we mentioned before) on any target it hits, and the bleed effect is hasted. This very quickly leads to a snowball effect, where two effects deal a combined 30 to 35% of the specs damage on any encounter. While this may be pre-patch, it could lead to specialization-oriented tuning, where the core of the problem is an unfortunate mix of borrowed power and below-the-hood tuning going awry on specs that were already poorly designed, and whose damage relies almost entirely on borrowed power to stay relevant.
So, to summarize:
Any trinket or cantrip effect that deals direct damage in any shape or form has had its effect buffed by 50% on pre-patch launch. Go and enjoy your significantly stronger procs!
Guardian druids need some love, as without these effects, they’ll be permanently stuck in Valdrakken.
You can find more from Mandl here: