The Breezes of Change
I've been looking into the combat revamp some more. Bear in mind that I'm not a beta tester myself, I've been digging through the official EQ2 Forums. In particular, there was a very nice post by Cedrian about how the changes had affected his level 50 paladin, backed up with extensive data.
One of the primary goals of the revamp seems to be making autoattack more important, and spells and combat abilities less important to a fight. First, let's see what the specific changes are that affect this.
Auto-attack DPS is lowered for many classes somewhat, however, mob hit points have been lowered, too, and the net result seems to be that a mob will actually die a little faster to auto-attack in the new system than it did under the old. The amount of damage done (and healing) has been rescaled, and in some cases the numbers get bigger and smaller. However, the theme that emerges across the reports of many classes is that the combat abilities and spells can't be used as often. Usually this is due to power costs, which have become quite a bit less efficient (bear in mind that the size of your pow pool may have changed too.) Casting times have altered as well, the recast timer on mez is quite a bit longer than it used to be, for example.
What's the effect of this? Before the changes, auto-attack would typically account for perhaps a third of all damage done to and by a mob. Which meant that haste and slow effects(which only affect auto-attack damage) didn't mean much, and conversely, stifle effects and pow draining were huge(which affected spells and combat abilities) were very important. By rebalancing auto-attack and CA/spell dps, players now have to choose when to use the combat abilities, and which ones. Damage spells cannot be spammed.
It seems as though a normal experience group can deal damage under the new system at an instantaneous that is close to what it could under the old, at least after normalizing for the mob's HP. BUT, under the new system, the group may run out of pow before the mob dies, which is a rare occurence these days. At level 41, I have two, stackable Breeze-type effects, and with them both up on all party members, we can more or less fight continuously and maintain full power. Without an enchanter, groups will have to rest a bit between fights to regain pow, but can fight at full speed without running out. (All bets are off for Epic encounters, though.) I'm not complaining, but I don't think that's how it was meant to be.
If I'm right about the effect of the changes, it means that instead of affecting down time, Breeze will affect actual group DPS. To be more precise, the instantaneous DPS (what the computer geek in me would call bandwidth) doesn't change but the damage capacity does. You will run out of pow if you cast at full speed, but it will take longer, you'll do more nukes, and thus more damage.
The down side to this is that it seems as though fights will last somewhat longer. The short, intense fight was kind of fun, and I'll miss it. Of course, as an enchanter, I tended to act to slow down fights anyway, since that's how my class works. Intriguingly, this slowing down may act to bring the (now widely disparate) solo capabilities of classes more in line with one another. And some classes (such as the Illusionist!) are getting some new spells to help them solo.
A word about the change to Breeze seems in order. Breeze is currently an individual buff, which can be cast on any raid member, with a fairly long recast time and a duration of 15 minutes. (it started with a duration of only 3 mins.) It was never meant to always be up on every member of a group. It was meant to pose an interesting choice to the enchanter: who to breeze and when? But since it COULD be kept on every member of a group (even though it kept the enchanter busier than a caterpillar with athlete's foot), it was. No choice involved.
SOE has accepted this now, and has changed Breeze to be a group buff with no duration and 3 Concentration. However, the new Breeze doesn't affect other members of the raid not in your group, making Breezers more valuable on raids (Troubadors have something similar). There are some other new abilities, including a pet for soloing, which also take concentration.
And by the way, every melee class will have an offensive stance and a defensive stance which each take 3 Concentration and are thus mutually exclusive.
The changes I've highlighted, if they work like I think they do, will mean that players will be faced with more interesting choices. And in my book, that's a good thing.