Re: Firebats Mana Cost Change

  • Hey all!

    Just in case you're not an avid reader of /r/Diablo, I wanted to pass along some information that Wyatt shared regarding an upcoming change to Firebats. In the next PTR build, the initial Mana cost for Firebats will be increasing (to 220 at level 60), but the channeling cost will be reduced (to 66 at level 60).

    We will also be increasing the damage Firebats does, but that change did not make the next PTR build. Wyatt explains more below:

    Buffs are nice, but I wonder why they nerfed Witch Doctors' firebats.

    Wyatt: The Firebats changes were halfway done when we snapshotted the PTR patch.

    The mana cost change was one change. The other change is buffing the damage of Firebats. The mana change made this PTR patch, the damage change did not. Look for it in the next PTR patch after this one.

    It's not exactly a nerf and it's intended to change the way the skill is used (long channeling as opposed to short bursts).

    Wyatt: Pretty much this.

    Bears is great for high damage in quick bursts when you can get close to your enemy and sustain the mana. Acid Cloud is great damage you can apply at specific locations, good for AOE, and also good if your playstyle can maximize the DOT component.

    Firebats is not intended to step on either of those roles. Since it is a channeling skill, and some of the runes already play into standing still, we want to make Firebats a solid damage choice if you find you can stand in one spot for a few seconds. Will it be for everybody? No. Will it replace Bears and Acid Cloud? Hopefully not.

    What we'd like to see is some new approaches that make use of Firebats' niche advantages. An easy example would be high MP group play. I can stand still thanks to my allies, and we want to do a lot of damage due to the high MP. In a situation like this there is room for Firebats to outperform Bears and Acid Cloud. Hopefully creative players will find even more builds and playstyles in which Firebats finds an enjoyable home.

    Note that the reduction in the continual mana cost looks small on paper, but is very large in practice. This is because your "net cost" you pay per second is relative to your regeneration. So the reduction in continual cost means that most witch doctors can channel for significantly longer than before. Whereas before maybe you could channel Firebats for 3 seconds before you ran out of mana, now you can go for 6 seconds, 10 seconds, and for certain builds - indefinitely. So the goal of this change is to put a little more emphasis on where you position yourself to start casting, and letting you cast for longer periods once you've started. Is it any good for "run and gun" builds? No, but there are other skills for that. We're not trying to introduce more powerful choices for existing playstyles (ie. I play the same way as I did before but I spew bats instead of bears), instead, we're trying to introduce alternate mechanics to create alternate playstyles. It may not be for everybody, but it should be for somebody.

    While not specific to the PTR or 1.0.8, Wyatt also went on to talk a bit more about crits and DoTs:

    In a long term channel it might be considered a buff, right? I'm sure they will explain their rationale.

    Wyatt: Spells such as Disintegrate, Ray of Frost, and Firebats DO crit. You don't get big yellow numbers, but they absolutely crit.

    The reason is a technical one. Internally many of these powers are classified as "continuous damage over time" spells. The idea being that between really wanting a visceral sense of "applying" a DOT, some of our DOTs apply damage extremely frequently (I think it's 60 times a second under the hood, but don't quote me on that). The upside of this approach is that as you hold your mouse over the target, you get to really feel like you are melting your opponent.

    The downside of this approach is that the floating damage numbers became impossible to read at 60 damage amounts per second. Not to mention it was a stream of extremely small numbers. When you first get Firebats you might be doing 11 damage with your Poison dart, and then you'd get a stream of floating 1s for Firebats when the damage was being applied in these very small increments 60 times a second. So to solve that issue we "batch up" all the damage your continuous DOT did over the last 0.25 seconds and present that to you as a floating damage number.

    Under the hood, each individual tick can crit (with the ticks being done at this 60 times a second rate), but because the numbers are batched up, there's no clear definition of when to make the number "yellow". In a 0.25 second period you might get 2 crits, 8 crits, or 15 crits.

    Here's the main thread link if you'd like to read the full conversation:
  • 04/12/2013 04:58 PMPosted by SirCris
    It's a PTR change guys, wait and test it out, then complain.

    This is good advice. We will definitely be looking at feedback from players who've had the opportunity to test out the changes once they've been implemented on the PTR.
  • 04/12/2013 05:13 PMPosted by Excalibur
    Are these changes live in the PTR yet? I didn't notice any change for arcane torrent in the PTR when I logged in just now.

    No not yet. :)

    04/12/2013 05:16 PMPosted by MikeHoncho
    You guys shouldn't bother putting this in PTR without the damage buff. It's a straight up nerf right now.

    That's a bit of a technical issue. The short answer is we'd prefer not to wait. It's not ideal, but it would force us to delay the PTR build, which would reduce the amount of testing time other changes would have.