Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Titan's Grip

Titan's Grip really bothers me. Warrior's dual-wielding two-handed weapons is just plain great, so the concept is fantastic. The fact that a 51 point talent has a flat 10% penalty to damage, however, is not so great. For a new player reading the talent, they probably blink a couple of times and try to figure out if it means what it says. After all, it takes a lot of math to figure out how much better it is to use two-handed weapons instead of one-handed weapons when you dual-wield, and it isn't obvious that doing so is a greater than 10% damage boost1. Admittedly, how much extra damage you would get from dual-wielding two-handers would be just as mysterious if you took away the 10% damage penalty, but having a talent that does unknown extra damage is just way less confusing than having a talent that does unknown-10 extra damage.

Of course they have a pretty good justification for why Titan's Grip can't be simple and elegant and exclude any penalty. It would just be too much of a damage boost for a single point. When talent points are too good, the developers rightly point out, it makes things worse. Particularly for talents that are deep in talent trees. Basically if they balanced Fury Warriors correctly then you'd end up with every other talent in the tree being significantly worse than average to make up for Titan's Grip. Level 59 warriors would balk at being Fury because they can't get the talent that makes the tree work.

Okay, fine.

Mind Flay, Shadowform, Vampiric Touch, Starfall, Dual Wield. That is a list of talents that I am sure are better than Titan's Grip without a 10% penalty. Three of them are from the same tree! Running a weekly Sartharion kill last week a balance druid in the group won the damage meters and 30% of his damage came from Starfall. 30% for an instant cast he hit every minute. Maybe we can think of Mind Flay and Vampiric Touch as different because they are extra abilities, and so they are more interesting than a large flat damage boost, but Shadowform is probably the most ridiculous single point damage boost ever conceived. A straight 15% damage boost plus enabling both your haste and your crit to have more than just a marginal effect on your damage. I would be extremely surprised if I was wrong about Dual Wield for enhancement shaman. Developers have directly stated that they have no intention of supporting two-handed weapon enhancement shaman as a viable spec, and acknowledge that it is not at all viable as it is.

But none of these talents have a counterbalance. Dual Wield doesn't come with a damage penalty because otherwise it would be too good.

I don't think that Crusader Strike, Stormstrike, Divine Storm or Bloodthirst are better points than Titan's Grip with no penalty, but they are in the running. When you get a point that basically lets you make an instant attack when you would otherwise be standing doing nothing it's a pretty big deal.

Yes, talent points that are too good cause something of a problem. But there are lots of talent points that are too good, Titan's Grip has been a constant obsession of some developer. Someone out there really, really doesn't want Titan's Grip to be too overpowered, and that obsession over Titan's Grip leads to an ugly, clunky fix, while so many other overpowered talents are left to do their thing unimpeded. In fact, shadowform just gets better and better. Every few patches they think of another 10-15% global damage boost to tack onto it for free.

There are other solutions to overpowered talents. One is to use the prerequisite system that they have built into their talent trees that currently serves no apparent purpose. By making an intentionally weak talent a prerequisite to a known overpowered talent, you balance out the point spent on it. The 46-50 points in Fury could be something useful that doesn't increase or only barely increases your damage. People would say, "Why do I have to take this lousy talent to get Titan's Grip?" and then developers could freely admit, "Because Titan's Grip is so good it needed to cost six points." If shadowform cost 11 points then it would make a lot more sense.

1. I mean that if you hit level 10 the first time you played the game and looked at your top tier talents, it would be fair for you to think "Is that even good?", not that there is any lack of consensus among those that know about the game that the answer is, "Yes, that is very good."


  1. Is the footnote my bad influence? I'm going to assume yes.

  2. I was putting footnotes in livejournal posts way before it was cool