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Should Dark intent been nerfed?

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Should Dark intent been nerfed?

This is a question that has often been asked by shadow priests as of late; warlocks, we really don't care about it either way. Still, I think it is good to talk about the philosophy behind the ability in this situation.

There are numerous claims that shadow priests (and actually any DPS spec that receives Dark Intent) are balanced around having that particular buff. This is both true and untrue. Given that it cannot be assured that any of these specs will have the buff at any given time, it wouldn't be fair to assume that they always have it; thus, you cannot balance their DPS around it. On the other hand, if you completely remove Dark Intent as a balancing factor from the specs that benefit the most from it, then you create situations in which their DPS becomes too high when they do have it.

It isn't a matter of personal DPS; when speaking in terms of Dark Intent, this is something that people fail to realize. The damage contribution of Dark Intent cannot be used to balance personal DPS, but it must be used in order to balance raid DPS.

Boss encounters themselves are balanced around an expected DPS level from every player. Spec is an irrelevant factor; what matters is the total DPS output of the raid. This forces Blizzard into an excessively tricky position.

Say you want to have every spec deal approximately equal levels of DPS, and you want everyone in a raid to deal a certain level of DPS. For example, you are doing a 10-man boss that uses 5 DPSers, where the expected total DPS output is 100,000. The easiest solution then is to have every raid member be capable of 20,000 DPS, which would leave the raid on target with everyone having an equal contribution.

Now you have a warlock and he needs to choose a Dark Intent target. All DPS is balanced around having all possible buffs, but only one person can benefit from Dark Intent. The obvious choice is to give it to the player who gains the most from it. If a shadow priest would gain 5,000 DPS from Dark Intent and a fire mage would gain 3,000 DPS from Dark Intent, you would clearly give it to the shadow priest.


This, however, creates an issue. With everyone doing equal 20,000 DPS, the shadow priest is now outperforming everyone with 25,000 DPS. To the players, this creates conflict because the priest seems "better"; from the development standpoint, you have an issue because a single buff alone has given the raid a flex point of 5,000 DPS in order to reach the required raid DPS values.

The former isn't an issue; a player's position on the meters due to a singular buff isn't a factor that you can actually consider while developing a game. This is because it is impossible to create a middle ground; the spec will always either be too high with it or too low without it. The only factor that matters is the total output of the raid.
In this situation, you cannot lower the shadow priest's damage, because it would unbalance them should they not have a warlock. Nor can you increase everyone's DPS, because not only would it create the same issue, it would further push the total raid's DPS beyond the expected point. The only option, then, is to nerf Dark Intent.

Players can claim their spec is balanced around the assumption of Dark Intent, but it simply isn't true. Blizzard rarely balances around personal performance in such a manner. The game is balanced around two factors, which players just don't often take into consideration; instead, they only see the factor of their personal output. Instead, Blizzard takes an entire raid's DPS potential into account and then configures personal DPS onto benchmarks that it's selected.

In short, you cannot balance specs around having Dark Intent, but you cannot ignore the balancing of Dark Intent. Something, somewhere, has to break. This time, it was Dark Intent.


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inhg xiao
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