What is Root for?
The latest update has given me lots to talk about. It also gave me four shards. It could be argued that at least one of them was due to my stubborn persistence, but the other three were due to the changes in my highest level root spell, Lock Mind.
Just to bring non-mage types up to speed, a root is a spell that locks the mob down to one spot preventing them from moving. Lock Mind also had a stifle effect, which prevented most combat abilities. (There are a few that can be used even when stifled.)
One of the tasks undertaken in this LU is cleanup of the massive changes of the combat revamp. Several spells for all classes were tweaked and the notes say this about Lock Mind.
Lock Mind now makes resistance checks less often, but has a small chance to break when taking damage.
Well, my experimentation indicates that a "small chance" is a very subjective thing. I cannot use this spell while doing any real damage to a mob, it breaks too often. I have no use for the spell as it now stands. Why? Well, let's go through standard Illusionist tactics. As an illusionist you have a good set of mesmerization skills. These break when the mob takes ANY damage. So they are good for dealing with multiple mobs -- mez all but the one currently being killed.
But for a mob that is being killed, different tactics must be used. I can go toe-to-toe with solo mobs that con blue or green or gray, but I can't really stand up to any heroic mob that's even high gray. With maybe 20 levels on the mob, they have a real hard time hitting me.
So, if you want to tackle anything tougher, you have to find something else to take the hit. We got a new pet in the update, and it's very welcome. The pet is a duplicate of us, though, so it can't be expected to stand up to a tough mob for all that long. The good news is that when it dies, you are out very little but the power it cost to cast it half an hour ago. Not a big deal.
Or you can get a tank to take the hits for you, which is, of course, my favorite method. But if you want to solo stuff that's harder, you have to come up with a way to do damage to the mob while not taking any. And the changes in root after the revamp gave us a way to do it. The mob would be rooted, and all dots applied to it, then you would stand back and watch the mob's health slowly melt. You needed to be careful to keep the root going, or things could get ugly, especially since I found that this technique worked quite well on green+++ heroic mobs.
Bear in mind that such mobs could kill me in about 3 hits. Or if they got a dot on me, it would probably kill me, too. But this change meant that I was highly solo capable. Frankly, Illusionists were capable of soloing stuff that the designers didn't intend to be soloable. Hence the nerf, which I expected to come at some point. But how did it work?
Illusionists can do a fair amount of DPS, but it comes in small chunks. Unlike the slow big hits of a wizard or warlock, we do DOTS, we have procs that proc with damage or spells, and we have a fast-casting direct damage capability, that doesn't do a lot but can be recast in about 2.5 seconds.
Consider how this applies to the change to root. We're doing lots of little chunks of damage and each one gives the root a "small chance" to break. A small chance over lots of attempts equals a big smackdown. For example, 10 trials of a ten percent chance yields an almost two-thirds chance of the root breaking. If a "small chance" is a 20 percent chance, then it only takes three hits to get a fifty percent chance of root breakage, and five hits to get to a two-thirds chance of breakage.
At that rate, the root is breaking before it's recast time is done, and it's ready to be cast again. In short, I can't use dots, because I can't control the situation when I'm using them. Root will break too fast. But if I can't use dots, then I might as well mez the mob as root it.
So, root is off of my hotbar now. I'm sorry to see it go. Was it too powerful before, where the chance to break was based on a timer, rather than taking damage? There's a case to be made, after all, I could solo heroics, something that isn't supposed to be possible at level 50.
But here's the thing: Yes, I could solo a green heroic, but it turns out that it still took so long that I would prefer to solo mobs that are solo-rated. And it gave me a way to solo high gray heroic mobs, too. Something that I can not now do, which is quite frustrating. Is the experience/coin gain over time really all that out of line? It doesn't seem like it to me.
As it stands, the spell has no place on my hotbar. I have no tactical use for it that isn't better handled by mez. If the game designers are determined to nerf it, could we have some other spell that actually does something we can make use of? Otherwise when you level up and get root, I will kind of feel like Charlie Brown on Halloween: I got a rock.
Oh, and one more thing. There is still a way (though very slow) for me to kill heroic mobs using mez: Mez them, stun them, do damage (but no dots) while stunned, then mez again and wait for the stun recast timer. This is very tedious, but it works. So it is still possible for me to solo heroics, nerfing root didn't get rid of that.
Now that I got that out of my system, I think I've realized why root had to be nerfed. It wasn't because of our solo capability, but because a good root makes tanks (and to some extent healers) superfluous. A group of mages and scouts (especially rangers) could root a nasty named, and all stand off and shoot. I've even done this, when we could not find a tank.
I have more sympathy for this design choice. It's important to preserve the role of tanks in groups. Still, I'd like to see the root line for illusionists turned into something else that has a place on my hotbar.