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The 5 Biggest WINNERS Of Phase 3 Changes

Since the phase three announcement, we have received a lot of information about what to expect with the patch on April 4th. With each passing phase, we’re getting closer to our class’s full toolkit of abilities through runes. We have already seen both new class identities and existing specs evolve significantly. It is going to be extremely exciting to see how things play out.

Today, we are going to delve into the realm of data mining to check out what runes have been found for phase three and try to make some guesses about which classes or specs will benefit the most from this update. These may not end up being the best specs by any stretch of the imagination, but they are the ones I believe are set to improve.

Of course, as usual, a word of warning: data mining isn’t final. There can always be buffs and nerfs, and if you do not want spoilers for the upcoming content in terms of the runes, this may not be for you. For everyone else, however, let’s check out the runes and see which specs I reckon are going to be the biggest winners in Phase 3.

Impact on Rogues

Last phase, I was hoping that the new runes would bridge the gap towards making Rogue feel as though it’s a more desirable option, and while there were improvements in some ways, I’ve often heard this phase that people are struggling to secure raid spots, largely due to a lack of utility and not providing enough throughput to make up for it. It’s the same scenario Rogues had early on in TBC.

But anyway, I think Rogues are set to get one of the most powerful runes we’ve seen this phase by far, and this one is confirmed: Honor Among Thieves. When any player in your party crits, you gain one combo point against your current target, and this can’t happen more than once per second.

Simply doing the math, in an optimal scenario, that’s 30 more combo points over a 1-minute duration of combat than you would have had before, or in other words, potentially six more five-combo point finishers. In reality, with factors like RNG, the GCD, and not always being able to instantly spend these combo points, it’s probably going to be more like 20 or something extra, but that’s still four more five-combo point finishes than you can do at the moment, and that’s without you actually doing anything yourself to generate combo points. You’re going to be.

Advanced Rogue Mechanics

Getting combo points at such a rapid rate is going to revolutionize playing as both a tank and DPS. DPS Rogues are gaining “Carnage,” allowing targets with your bleeds to take 20% more damage from abilities. This new combo point generation will make it easier to keep such effects active. Tank Rogues, however, may see even greater benefits. They can now use “Unfair Advantage,” striking back instantly for 100% mainhand weapon damage when they dodge, activated every second.

Rogue Build Innovations

I’ve experimented with a new type of build to showcase these possibilities. Although not perfect, it demonstrates the potential shifts in Rogue strategy. “Honor Among Thieves” might allow Rogues to shift away from “Mutilate” as a primary combo point generator. This opens the door to reintroducing “Saber Slash” with a slow mainhand weapon, benefiting from synergies like “Windfury” and “Sword Spec.” While “Mutilate” remains potent, the new build offers exciting theoretical alternatives.

Rogue Utility and Raid Presence

An intriguing development this phase is the enhanced utility Rogues bring to raids, beyond mere damage. The introduction of three new poisons adds substantial strategic value. These poisons, as revealed through data mining, seem aligned with current level 60 stats but can be scaled for comparison. The potential includes leading attack power debuffs, attack speed reductions, and unparalleled armor debuffs. “Atrophic Poison,” for instance, could reduce attack power significantly at level 50, surpassing existing benchmarks. This utility shift might redefine Rogue roles in raid environments.

Enhanced Rogue Poisons

Rogue poisons are known for consistent value, and recent updates have significantly boosted their raid utility. The new tooltip reveals one poison that reduces attack speed by a substantial 20%, outstripping previous options like the warrior’s Furious Thunder Rune at 16%. This makes it highly effective against formidable melee bosses, assuming the reduction remains 20% at level 50.

Sebaceous Poison Impact

The standout among the new poisons is Sebaceous Poison. At level 50, it’s projected to reduce a target’s armor by approximately 1,400. When enhanced with Improved Expose Armor, the effect increases to a 2,100 armor reduction. This exceeds the 1,900 armor reduction provided by Hully’s 50, securing Rogues a critical role in raids. However, using these poisons on both the main and offhand precludes the use of Instant Poison from Deadly Brew, necessitating a spec into Improved Expose Armor—a small trade-off for a guaranteed raid spot.

Elemental Shaman Revival

Elemental Shamans are seeing promising developments from Phase 1 to Phase 2 and are poised for further improvement in Phase 3. Historically, Elemental Shamans struggled at level 40 due to their talent tree. The new phase requires power from runes rather than talents to enhance their effectiveness.

New Runes for Elemental Shamans

Among the exciting new runes for Elemental Shamans is “Burn,” which allows Flame Shock to hit three targets. This not only increases damage output in multi-target scenarios but also improves the proc chance for Power Surge, enabling free casts of Lava Burst or Chain Lightning as needed. Another rune, “Rolling Thunder,” gives Lava Burst and Chain Lightning a 30% chance to add a charge to Lightning Shield, accumulating up to nine stacks. Using Earth Shock then expends all charges to deal damage and restore mana. Investing in Improved Lightning Shield enhances this mechanism, ensuring quick charge buildup through the Overload ability.

Elemental Shaman’s New Tactics

The prospect of hitting multiple enemies with spells raises intriguing questions about potential spell interactions. For Elemental Shamans, the ability to convert Lightning Shield stacks into a spell that can crit opens up exciting possibilities. This means maintaining a nine-stack Shield before dropping an Elemental Mastery will result in massive burst damage, making Elemental Shamans formidable adversaries on the battlefield. Additionally, the Overcharged rune holds immense promise, potentially becoming the standout choice for this phase.

Analysis of Overcharged Rune

The Overcharged rune’s unique mechanics make it a top contender in this phase. Its ability to preserve Lightning Shield charges indefinitely, coupled with a 1-second cooldown and area damage effect, offers unparalleled utility. The concept of “snapshotting” further enhances its potential.

Snapshotting involves using an ability with multiple buffs active, allowing the ability to continue dealing damage as if those buffs were still active. While not all buffs may apply, flat damage increases and spell power coefficients certainly do. Lightning Shield, with a 26 spell power coefficient, can become incredibly potent when combined with significant spell damage buffs.

Potential Spell Power Calculations

Assuming Elemental Shamans can accumulate 300 spell damage through abilities like Mental Quickness, and potentially higher with additional buffs, the damage output of Lightning Shield could reach unprecedented levels. With a base damage of 154, adding 78 damage per tick from spell power buffs, the total damage output could exceed 232 damage to all nearby enemies every second. Further enhancements from flat percentage damage increases, such as those from Dark Moon Faire and Talented Lightning Shield, could elevate the damage output to even greater heights.

Revolutionizing Shaman Tanking with Lightning Shield

While I haven’t tested this scenario extensively, let’s explore a hypothetical yet promising setup where Lightning Shield could potentially deliver 336 damage every second to all nearby enemies, thanks to a 20% spell damage increase from Power Infusion.

With an infinite duration, this setup could result in over 10,000 damage dealt within 8 yards over a minute, simply by the Shaman’s presence. This potentially overpowered mechanism underlines why I opted for an unconventional build focusing on utility. Such a build could elevate Shaman tanks to a top-tier status in dungeons and AOE gold farming scenarios.

Impact on Affliction Warlocks

Affliction Warlocks might see a shift in playstyle due to nerfs or changes to the Destruction spec, particularly the Lake of Fire. Now, to achieve a 50% damage debuff on enemies, players must fully channel Rain of Fire. This alteration could lead players to reconsider Affliction, which offers robust damage-over-time effects enhanced by our talent choices within the Affliction tree. Notably, we’re adopting Drain Life as our filler spell, aligning with what appears to be the intended direction for this spec.

New Runes and Their Effects on Affliction

For Affliction Warlocks, the introduction of the Pandemic rune is transformative, enabling DOTs to crit, significantly enhancing PVE viability. On the wrists, Unstable Affliction offers a potent damage-over-time effect, adding dispel protection in PvP scenarios and providing substantial base damage with low mana costs.

Though Soul Siphon is selected for the Drain Life filler, the potential improvements from Improved Shadowbolt could be more impactful. This talent increases the damage taken by targets from shadow spells by 20% following a Shadowbolt crit, with this debuff not being consumed by DOTs. If Soul Cipher could enhance Nightfall procs or optimize Drain Life’s effectiveness, it could greatly benefit this build. However, the utility and performance of these runes will need to be evaluated in live scenarios to confirm their effectiveness.

Optimizing Affliction Warlocks

There is hope that battles will extend long enough for Damage Over Time (DoTs) to truly make an impact. Warlocks can also develop a functional Nightfall spec at level 50, serving as an off-spec for dungeons or dealing with trash mobs. This setup will be particularly effective in AoE situations where increased damage can enhance proc rates for Grimoire of Synergy, granting a 25% damage boost to the Warlock’s pet.

It is crucial to determine which version of Felguard will be used, as its attack frequency is optimal for Grimoire of Synergy. If the Cataclysm version with Felstorm—a bladestorm-like ability for the Felguard—is included, the synergy could be exceptionally potent, but the exact version remains unclear from the data mined so far.

Marksmanship Hunter Developments

Marksmanship Hunters, who prefer the traditional ranged playstyle, found themselves somewhat eclipsed by new melee identities in Phase 2. While significant changes in Phase 3 are unlikely, Marksmanship will still benefit from new enhancements. The talent tree includes the “Lock and Load” ability, which allows the next shot to be free and without a cooldown after a trap is triggered. Integrating trap launcher with varied traps around major shot cooldowns will be crucial.

New Talents and Runes for Hunters

For Hunters, “Focus Fire” on the wrists boosts ranged attack speed by 15%, emphasizing the need for a slow weapon this phase to optimize “Steady Shot,” now enhanced to 75% weapon damage. Sniper Training is also undergoing a mini-rework, offering 2% crit for every second stationary, up to a 10% bonus, but reducing by one stack per second when moving. This change makes it less about all-or-nothing positioning, improving its utility. Additionally, “True Shot Aura” is being directly buffed, soon to offer substantial additional ranged attack power to the hunter and their party at level 50, enhancing overall party damage output.

Marksmanship Hunter Rotation Adjustments

Marksmanship Hunters may still struggle with fitting Aim Shot into their rotation. This challenge highlights the need for a rune to make it more usable or to reduce its cast time. Despite these difficulties, improvements in Marksmanship are hopeful, and it’s anticipated that ranged Hunter enthusiasts will find the spec more playable in the coming updates.

Warrior Spec Updates: Gladiator and Arms

Exploring Gladiator Stance for Warriors in PvE has proven fruitless; the spec doesn’t seem viable for dealing damage without a short cooldown ability that scales with shield quality. However, the outlook for Arms Warriors in the next phase is more promising. With consistent improvements, Arms is performing well in raids and holds up in PvP, provided Warriors avoid being instantly taken down.

New Runes and Tactics for Arms Warriors

New enhancements for Arms include the “Taste for Blood” rune on the helm, allowing Rend to trigger Overpower once every six seconds. Additionally, “Wrecking Crew” on the bracers boosts melee crits to enrage the Warrior, increasing critical damage of all attacks by 10% for six seconds. This interaction, combined with a 200% crit damage modifier by default and further augmented by Impale, leads to substantial damage output. The choice of weapons at level 50—whether axes or swords—will also influence the effectiveness of the Arms spec. The possibility of foregoing Berserker Stance in favor of staying in Battle Stance to maximize ability usage without wasting Rage suggests a new skill ceiling that requires adept stance management.

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