Nightmare Catcher

Now, Sleep Tight

Now, Sleep Tight

This post is part of a series of posts titled Healing Inspection, which discusses healing abilities and styles.

It has been quite a while since I last offered you something really new. Ever since the Warlock’s Possession skill, the innovation well has been pretty dry.

I can come up with excuses. I can beg for compassion and understanding. I can even deny I ever intended to invent so many new things.

I will instead just do what I meant to, and continue although the delay.

So. I started a new chapter which discusses tools for healing. I talked about the basics, the present and the upcoming future. It is now the time to walk upon a path in an imaginary land. A land where everything is possible, and the inventive can weave strands of maybes into something interesting.

Today, it is for the Shaman to venture into this land. A shamanistic voyage into the unknown. And there is much to fear where surprises lurk. Mishaps, ambushes, unexpected encounters and unforeseen turns of events; all is possible, and outcomes are as erratic as the travel of dust particles in a battlefield.

But the Shaman, the lord of the spirits and mental strength, does not fear what nature holds for him. He is prepared. And he has a Nightmare Catcher, just in case.

Don’t you mean, Dream Catcher?

Technically, yes. But, Nightmare makes it sound much more intriguing, and that is the name of the Shaman’s new healing tool. Have a look.

Nightmare Catcher

Nightmare Catcher

Nightmare Catcher

(Instant, 30 sec. cooldown) Summons a Nightmare Catcher with 5 health at the feet of the caster that will absorb 50% of the damage dealt by the next 5 attacks towards party or raid members, before being destroyed. Lasts 45 sec. Once protected by the Nightmare Catcher, an ally cannot be protected again for 15 sec.

Where is the Manual to that Thing?

Well, it is pretty simple. You just hang it over your bed.

Oh, you mean the ability? Silly me…

It is very similar to Grounding Totem, which can be dropped by the healer to absorb (technically redirect to the totem) the next direct harmful attack. The Nightmare Catcher is instead an area of effect guard rather than a single person shield effect. Drop it during a fight, and the next 5 harmful effects will have their damage reduced to half. As it is made as a group guard, a single ally cannot be protected by it twice in quick row, but rather it is used to protect 5 different friends.

There are three points worth clarification.

  • The Nightmare Catcher is an Air Totem, although it does not have the name totem in its description.
  • An ally protected by the Nightmare Catcher receives the Restful Dreams debuff, which prevents the Nightmare Catcher from affecting him. This lasts 15 seconds.
  • The 5 next attacks are actually the 5 next instances of damage taken. For example, a cleave  dealing damage to 3 allies in front of the boss are actually 3 different absorptions, although the damage was dealt from a single source.

Does it Come with a Warranty?

How good it is, actually?

The design concept is for the Shaman to have an ability to deal with encounters having area of effect damage. The Shaman will be able to drop this Nightmare Catcher Totem, and worry less regarding the next 5 attacks. Since it only protects every single ally once, it is a guarantee of sorts that 5 different allies will be protected by it (if there is no AoE damage at all, it will simply absorb 3 times for the main tank, every 15 seconds, before the end of the duration).

Combining the new totem with Chain Heal, I think it gives Shamans a good synergy to be valuable healers even on AoE moderate encounters. When there is very much splash damage, it might not be enough though. This might have been tweaked by making the Nightmare Catcher totem absorb more damage, but I was afraid it might render it overpowered.

Score: 9/10

Because it is a preemptive healing tool, which works smartly (by applying only to those being damaged). Its drawback however is that small hits will also trigger the absorption, which might be wasted when enemies use damage over time (where only the first tick would count) or just hit for little.

Complaining Customers

Is satisfaction really guaranteed?

Abilities sometimes have a tendency to become overpowered, and I’d like to think World of Warcraft is striving to become a balanced game.

Now, is Nightmare Catcher a candidate for being an overpowered skill? Let’s have a look.

Healing-wise, it might be stronger than other heals on some occasions, as it is dependent on the amount of damage done (it absorbs 50%). On the other hand, it does have a pretty long cooldown, and this counters that mentioned advantage.
The fact that the absorption cannot be used repeatedly for the main tank solely (due to the debuff), prevents this from being a Shield Wall-like skill that will be chain used to keep the main tank safe.

Survivability-wise, the debuff argument holds in this case as well. When alone, it will simply serve the shaman as an additional half Grounding Totem, which he can use to provide himself additional protection, but not a huge amount. In groups, it will grant every member a single event of mitigation, which isn’t very far from putting Power Word: Shield on individual allies in advance.

Score: 7/10

Since it can be compared to existing abilities, we may assume it can’t be that overpowered. For those cases where it seems better than something that exists, do remember it does have a moderate cooldown to balance things out.

Is there a PvP Version?

Nightmare Catcher is 100% PvP-Ready! (The Small Print: PvP infrastructure required).

Like most healing spells, this too could be very handy while playing versus other players. But the question is, might this turn Shamans into the flavor of the month? I’ll explain why I think it should not.

  • Nightmare Catcher Totem is easily countered. Similarly to most Totems, it only has 5 hit points, which means it can be destroyed even by the weakest enemies. Even if the Shaman drops it at the last moment before being harmed, it will probably serve a single ally, as enemies will probably destroy it quickly thereafter.
  • Nightmare Catcher Totem is circumstantial. Yes, it can be very strong if the enemy lands a big crit with his most damaging spell, but it might also absorb a weak attack, such as a damage over time one. It doesn’t guarantee anything.
  • Nightmare Catcher Totem doesn’t do something that can’t be done with other abilities, it just does it differently. Priests can Power Word: Shield, Paladins can Divine Shield, Warriors have Spell Reflect etc.

Taking the above into account, I don’t feel like this new ability gives Shamans something that will make them a must have in arena. I believe it will prove very useful when used correctly, but it won’t give a winning edge over an enemy using a Paladin, Druid or Priest healer instead.

Score: Useful, but not Must-Have.

Designer Versions

Or, versions to fit different crowds. Or, how can we adapt it to your needs.

And when I say your, I actually mean the people who would like to see this ability tweaked, and not in its favor. Or, what possible nerfs can this ability expect.

Let me offer a few possibilities, and my personal opinion regarding each.

  • Reduce the number of allies the Nightmare Catcher protects before being destroyed. This is a nerf that is counter-productive to the ability’s use. Since it is an AoE heal replacement, having it affect less than 5, which is the AoE magic number, does this skill no good.
  • Increase the ability’s cooldown. That’s tricky, since too long a cooldown would make it less flexible to use. The only option I see is match the cooldown with the duration, although we all know that a raid encounter will probably use the 5 “charges” much faster than 45 seconds.
  • Link Nightmare Catcher’s and Grounding Totem’s cooldowns. A little tricky to do, as they have different cooldowns. If however it would be possible for the use of one to automatically put the other on cooldown, this would prevent chaining both abilities back to back, for additional absorption. A possible solution, but not justified to the ability’s power in my opinion.
  • Reduce the amount of damage absorbed. Similar to the first point, this is counter-productive to the ability’s purpose.

Which brings me to my belief this skill does not require any nerfing, but only proper testing can end this debate.

As Seen on TV

And since there is no television in WoW, it actually means as seen lore-wise.

According to wikipedia, a dreamcatcher is something used in Ojibwa tradition, which is the tradition of a native American group, or more commonly known Indians.

Now, also according to wikipedia, Shamans existed in native American tribes, so we got our history covered.

In conclusion, Nightmare Catchers keep the bad spirits away, which live in harm and damage, so at least half of it, representing the non-material component, can be protected by it. I know this has been a complicated sentence, I hope you got it (*grin*).

Is it Great for the Kids?

Since they just want to have fun (and girls too actually).

But unfortunately, like all other totems, neither kids nor girls can have much fun with those. Outside combat, totems just blankly stand there, doing almost nothing interesting, and obviously not very popular in parties.

While using them, it gives Shamans some flexibility – does the encounter have a single spell to absorb? (then use Grounding) Or will allies take splash damage soon? (then use Nightmare Catcher). It can be used rather often, making it an interactive component of the healer’s gameplay.

Score: Not fun, but enjoyable.

The End (Use License Agreement)

I hope you enjoy this brand new Shaman product. There is no return or refund policy I’m afraid. Required batteries are not supplied with the product. Plastic wrap should be kept away from young children.

We at Shamans R’ Us do love feedback though, so feel free to post your thoughts etc.

The dreams have much to tell us.
Even the nightmares foresee one possible outcome, for the wise to avoid.

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2 Responses to “Nightmare Catcher”

  1. Xeothal Says:

    Sounds like a good idea

    I’d be happy to see it

    you could add one “nerf” that would guarantee it serves it’s purpose by having it absorb only targetless damage (as opposed to shield reflect) that way it can only absorb AoE, that way you can feel safe by leaving it as is, no OP

  2. paedolos Says:

    That is an interesting possibility.

    It does however remains to be tested (hypothetically of course) if such a nerf would not render the ability useful only in the AoE fights niche, and amass dust on all other occasions.

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