[Barb] SIX Reasons To Reverse WW Nerf (Updated!)

  • The goal of this thread is to address the recent changes to the Barbarian's Whirlwind skill (abbreviated to WW), contextualize why this is viewed as a nerf by Barbarian players, how it negatively impacts the build, and to provide evidence that the build has been severely weakened. This thread asks the developers to revert the WW skill's interaction with attack speed before 2.4 goes live.

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    CONTEXT AND MISINFORMATION

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    What's A WW Build?
    When referring to WW builds, we're talking about the one and only viable WW build in the game: http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/18706416963

    What Changed?
    Here's the change to the WW skill in question:

    <code>•Whirlwind

    •Attack speed will no longer cause Whirlwind to attack faster; instead the resource cost and damage will scale with attack speed</code>

    WW Is Too Strong!
    WW is not competitive in any way, shape, or form without the Stricken gem. The build cannot do enough single-target damage to kill RGs without Stricken. WW on non-season can barely crack 62-64.

    Ah-Ha! WW Is King on Season! It Should Be Nerfed!
    With Stricken, WW is very competitive--neck and neck with 4x Rend, in fact. However, it is an extremely focused build that requires several conditions be met to clear a high Greater Rift:
    It requires proper snapshotting of Stricken via Pain EnchancerIt requires a dense riftIt requires that Fury never be depleted or the loss of the Waste set 4-pc bonus will result in character deathIt requires full Taeguk stacks to maintain enough DPS to clear trash and RG even with StrickenIt requires full Taeguk stacks to maintain enough toughness to survive constant melee with trash and elitesIt requires a super high attack speed to generate enough Zodiac procs to maintain perma-IP and near perma-WrathIt requires stacking CDR on weaponsIt requires stacking AD on three or more pieces of gearIt requires DPS passives to maintain enoguh DPS to clear trash, elites, and the RG (even with Stricken)If even one of these conditions cannot be met, success in Greater Rifts, much less viability, is suspect at best. The Zodiac WW build is powerful when paired with Stricken, yes, but it is a very fragile build in the sense that tampering with attack speed's (and thus tampering with Zodiac procs) will severely nerf the build. And when I say severely nerf, I mean severe: the build will no longer function.

    This Is About Build Diversity!
    I'm open to new WW builds. But this move is also incredibly counter-intuitive to the design of the Waste set, the supposed WW set.

    Barbs Had Their Time! Now Let Other Classes Shine!
    This is a ridiculous sentiment. I'm not asking for other classes to be nerfed. I'm asking for the WW build to be returned to its functional status. It would be ideal for other classes to be buffed to be equally competitive, but that's a separate (and not competing) issue.

    What If Fury Generation is Fixed?
    Simply generating Fury isn't enough. With 2.4 as it is on PTR, Istavan's will not fix the problems even if Fury generation is linked to the Waste set. Here's a break down of what I mean:

    Relationship between WW and APS in 2.3
      - WW hits faster (breakpoints) based on IAS
      - Higher breakpoints spawn more DDs (more total damage output since each procs Bloodshed and AD)
      - More frequent WW hits mean more crits, which means more healing from Blood Funnel
      - Higher APS means more Zodiac procs (the faster WW hits, the more you proc Zodiac)
      - More Zodiac procs means perma-IP and perma-Wrath (required for pushing GRs)
      - More frequent WW hits mean better Stricken snapshots (required for pushing GRs)


    All of these are only possible if you can sustain Fury continuously.

    Relationship between WW and APS in 2.4
      - WW doesn't hit faster based on APS -- this eliminates all WW breakpoints
      - Higher APS now eats more Fury and WW and DDs do more damage
      - Since there are no breakpoints, we spawn fewer tornadoes (net DPS loss)
      - Fewer tornadoes means less AOE damage (another net DPS loss)
      - Fewer and slower WW hits means fewer crits
      - Fewer crits means much less healing from Blood Funnel (only heals on crits)
      - Fewer WW hits (ticks) means fewer Zodiac procs
      - Fewer Zodiac procs results in loss of perma-IP and perma-Wrath (can be made up by more CDR rolls on gear, but that also results in net DPS loss as we lose potential Str, AD, CHC, or CHD rolls)
      - Fewer WW hits means lower Stricken snapshot (major DPS loss vs RG compounded with other net DPS losses listed above)


    In the 2.4 PTR, boosting IAS for more damage results in considerably higher Fury cost that cannot be offset through passives (more DPS losses) or the BK swords (which now increase Fury cost by virtue of their original design). In short, we suffer all of the above problems and may fail to maintain Taeguk stacks.

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    Six Reasons This Change Breaks the WW Build

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    Fury management is already an issue for many Barb builds. Now it's borderline impossible for WW. Even with BK swords, Hexing Pants, Unforgiving and Weapon Master passives, and max RCR via Paragon anything less than GG density results in complete depletion of Fury in moments. Here are the problems with this.

    1. It becomes incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to maintain Taeguk stacks.
    Taeguk is a mandatory gem in viable WW builds, and it's buffs to DPS and toughness are essential contributors to solo pushes. Hop into a low 70 and you don't want to go anywhere near mobs without Taeguk stacks. Now it's impossible to gather enough before Fury runs out without directly engaging mobs.

    2. WW Barbs have no other options for Fury generation.
    Adding a RoRG into the mix severely weakens the build as solo pushes rely on Coe, Unity, and Zodiac. At present, there is no other combination of rings that comes close to the necessary combination of mitigation and damage these rings provide. WW Barbs need the benefits these rings provide.

    3. WW Barbs need to generate tornadoes to deal damage.
    The WW skill deals next to no damage. Instead, WW Barbs rely on the 6-pc Waste set bonus that generates high-damage tornadoes. The rate at which these tornadoes spawn was based on attack speed and breakpoints. In non-season, WW Barbs needed to stack attack speed on gear to generate enough tornadoes to have a remote shot at killing the RG. Barbs with access to Stricken relied less on attack speed.

    Either way, WW Barbs rely on the attack speed buffs provided by dual-wielding and the BK sword set bonus to generate enough tornadoes through the Waste set to deal damage. If attack speed's interaction with WW is changed, Barbs no longer generate as many tornadoes. This means that even though our tornadoes now hit harder, we spawn fewer overall, which leads to a lower DPS output.

    4. This forces WW Barbs to use two or more Fury passives which greatly reduces DPS.
    In fact, this negates the bonus from the Mantle shoulders, and means we're required to once again use Hexing Pants. This hampers build diversity as every WW build will now need Unforgiving, Weapon Master, and possibly Animosity just to sustain Fury during combat, and Hexing Pants must be in the Cube. However, outside of density, Fury drop off will still be a major issue.

    5. Forcing WW to attack slower diminishes Zodiac procs.
    Attack speed ticks (how frequently an attack hits) directly influences Zodiac procs. By altering the way attack speed interacts with WW (and by generating fewer tornadoes), WW Barbs get fewer Zodiac procs, requiring even more CDR to have perma-IP and near perma-Wrath. At present, WW Barbs absolutely need perma-IP and near perma-Wrath to have enough toughness and DPS respectively to clear Greater Rifts. The change in 2.4 severely impacts our ability to proc Zodiac, and thus severely reduces our toughness and DPS.

    It will also severely hamper our ability to snapshot Stricken, a requirement to clearing high Greater Rifts, as we now risk running out of Fury within moments of being outside incredibly dense combat.

    6. This will also nerf healing.
    WW Barbs rely on the Blood Funnel rune for their primary source of healing. Blood Funnel heals off crits, and crits need to happen frequently to sustain the damage taken in constant melee combat. The recent nerf means we attack slower and crit less frequently, and thus we heal far less frequently.

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    Conclusion

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    Based on the above, it should be clear that the recent changes to WW cripple currently viable WW builds. The builds and skills were working fine. If anything, the two piece bonus on the Waste set could be altered to solve Fury issues and BK swords could offer a different (or stacking Fury bonus) benefit.
  • Let's start with clearing some basics up:

    The changes made to Whirlwind (and Strafe) were not made because of concerns with balance. The changes to Whirlwind and Strafe were made to improve server performance. Our server logs indicate that Whirlwind was a significant factor in server performance issues experienced by all players (even if there isn’t a Barbarian in your game). The intention is to improve server performance without affecting the power of Whirlwind.

    We're currently discussing how we can get server performance gains without affecting the power level of Barbarians. This might mean reverting our optimizations, or it might mean providing alternative complementary options for Barbarians to compensate for the change. While we haven't made a decision yet, it's possible you'll see a couple iterations or different approaches throughout the PTR.