Mists of Pandaria Buff and Debuff Design

Mists of Pandaria
March 9th by Ghostcrawler

We recently released an update to the Mists of Pandaria talent tree. Since the expansion is still in development, these updates represent a snapshot of where we are at any given moment and not a final design where we step back and say “Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved perfection. Let us not change a thing.” If you’ve been playing the game for a while, you’ve probably realized by now that we never think we’ll hit perfection, and we probably never will.

One design that we haven’t focused on much yet is the plan for various group buffs and debuffs. Some specs have their buffs in place and some do not. Rather than trying to describe each omission, we thought we’d just dump the whole design on you here. As with the rest of the expansion’s systems, we’re not even in beta yet, so there’s plenty of time for things to change.

First, some underlying design goals, so you might understand where we’re coming from. Our main goals for group buffs are:

  • Make you feel more powerful when grouped with other players.
  • Give you lots of freedom to invite whom you want. This gets to be a problem when there are too many mandatory buffs spread out among too many specs. . .
  • …But not offer too many incentives to class stack. If you can achieve every buff with, say, only three players, then there might be a tendency to fill all of the other slots with whoever is best for a particular situation. Some class stacking is inevitable at the cutting-edge level, but to some extent, the players on the cutting edge of raiding enjoy extreme min-maxing. For the rest of us, we try to make sure you can finish all of the encounters without feeling like you need a huge roster of folks waiting in the wings for their one fight.
  • We tend to be more generous to DPS specs, since groups -- especially raids -- already have ample reasons to bring tanks and healers.
  • We generally don’t want a DPS spec to have to switch to a different spec in the same role just to bring a different buff. An example would be a Combat rogue who has to go Assassination just for a buff. In our experience, players are less likely to switch from a ranged to a melee DPS spec just for a buff, so DPS shaman and DPS druids might bring different buffs.

And finally some notes on the categories below:

  • The list only includes what we consider “traditional” buffs, such as Prayer of Fortitude. It doesn’t include utility like being great at snaring, battle rez, knock backs, high DPS while moving, and other mechanics. Those ultimately all factor into a raid or Battleground comp as well.
  • The matrix is a little more complex than it appears. A paladin, for example, can only offer one Blessing at a time, while a warrior can only do one shout at a time. You can’t assume one character can cover every buff or debuff listed below at the same time.
  • Some of these are active (you must cast them, like Prayer of Fortitude) while others are passive. Note that totems no longer bring passive buffs as a rule.
  • You’ll see several categories consolidated or gone. Bleeds no longer made sense, since everyone who cared about bleeds already buffed themselves. Magical resistance we just removed from the game, though there are some abilities that provide magical damage reduction.
  • We are still likely to use the design that hunters, especially Beastmaster hunters, can fill in for missing buffs or debuffs by using certain pets.

As always, we’d love to get your feedback on this design.


    Effect: +5% Strength, Agility, and Intellect
    Example: Blessing of Kings
    Brought by: Any druid, any monk, any paladin

    Effect: +10% Stamina
    Example: Power Word: Fortitude
    Brought by: Any priest, any warlock, any warrior

Attack Power
    Effect: +10% melee and ranged attack power (which will be the same value again)
    Example: Battle Shout
    Brought by: Any death knight, any hunter, any warrior

Spell Power
    Effect: +10% spell power (there will no longer be a 6% version)
    Example: Arcane Brilliance
    Brought by: Any mage, any shaman, any warlock

    Effect: +10% melee and ranged haste
    Example: Improved Icy Talons
    Brought by: Frost and Unholy death knights, any rogue, Enhancement shaman

Spell Haste
    Effect: +5% spell haste
    Example: Moonkin Aura
    Brought by: Balance druids, Shadow priests, Elemental shaman

Critical Strike
    Effect: +5% ranged, melee, and spell critical chance
    Example: Leader of the Pack
    Brought by: Guardian and Feral druids, any hunter, any mage

    Effect: +5 mastery
    Example: This is a new category
    Brought by: Windwalker monks, any paladin, any shaman


Weakened Armor
   Effect: -12% armor
   Example: Sunder Armor
   Brought by: Any druid, any rogue, any warrior

Physical Vulnerability
   Effect: +4% physical damage taken
   Example: Brittle Bones
   Brought by: Frost and Unholy death knights, Retribution paladins, Arms and Fury warriors

Magic Vulnerability
   Effect: +8% spell damage taken
   Example: Curse of the Elements
   Brought by: Any rogue, any warlock

Weakened Blows
    Effect: -10% physical damage done
    Example: Previously Demoralizing Shout; now Thunder Clap
    Brought by: Blood death knight, Feral and Guardian druid, Brewmaster monk, Protection or Retribution paladin, any warrior (any tank)

Slow Casting
    Effect: -30% casting speed
    Example: Mind-numbing Poison
    Brought by: Any death knight, any rogue, any warlock

Mortal Wounds
    Effect: -25% healing received
    Example: Mortal Strike
    Brought by: Arms or Fury warrior, any rogue, any hunter

Discuss the buff and debuff design here.

Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He was unsuccessful in convincing the rest of the class team to change Arms warrior mastery to decreased falling damage taken.