Easily lost in all of the hype surrounding Zul’jin’s release and the Raynor bug fix earlier this week was a subtle change to the Resistance/Vulnerability mechanic. Here is what the patch notes had to say:
Design & Gameplay
Armor & Vulnerability
Developer Comments: With today’s patch you will notice that a lot of our tooltips that used to reference the Resistant/Vulnerable system have been changed. Matthew Cooper detailed the changes on our forums last month explaining a bit about the new system. While the tooltips may have changed, the actual functionality for the system has been in since the Varian patch hit during the week of November 14, so the game itself should not feel any different than what you are currently used to. You will also notice that we have added baseline Armor to three Heroes – Arthas, Anub’arak, and Greymane’s Worgen Form. These are the first of a handful that we are planning to release and would love to hear any feedback you have. We are hoping that the Armor System will open up future design flexibility, increase the depth of strategy (both in game, and in draft), and grant us another knob to help balance the game.
The functionality of the mechanic remains unchanged; it is simply the terminology that is different. The idea of Resistance and Vulnerability will now be reflected by the new term of Armor. Effects which used to grant increased Resistance will now increase Armor. Effects that used to grant Vulnerability will now reduce Armor.
So if it’s just a name change, what’s the big deal?
For starters there are actually three different types of Armor. Spell Armor reduces the amount of damage taken from Abilities. Physical Armor reduces the amount of damage taken from Auto Attacks. Armor, without any prefix, reduces all damage taken regardless of the type. All three types of Armor are percent based, so 15 Physical Armor would reduce the amount of damage taken from Auto Attacks by 15%.
Talents and Abilities which used to apply a Resistance or Vulnerability effect have had their verbiage changed to incorporate the term Armor instead. Here are a few examples:
However, this change wasn’t just about rewording existing Talents and Abilities. Three Heroes also had Armor added to their base kit in this patch. Arthas received 15 Physical Armor, Anub’arak received 25 Spell Armor, and Greymane received 10 Armor when it Worgen form. It is quite likely we will see Armor effects added to other Heroes in the future, which is why it is so important that players understand this change and how it impacts their play.
Proper target selection was already something that many players struggle with, but it will be an even more important skill going forward. Now attacking the wrong target doesn’t just mean wasted cooldowns, it will also be a serious reduction in overall damage done. Imagine playing Li-Ming and using all of your cooldowns to burst an Anub’arak with Dampen Magic active. That’s 75% of your damage completely negated, when you could have instead targeted someone like Valla and probably gotten a kill.
They say knowledge is power, but in this case knowledge is damage. Be aware of what type of damage your Hero does, and which Heroes you should be targeting and which Heroes you shouldn’t. There will be times when you don’t have a choice who you attack based on positioning and other factors, but when you do have a choice be sure that you are attacking the correct target.
This change will also have an impact on Ranked Play. Understanding which Heroes are susceptible to which types of damage will be a useful skill when team building. Focus on picks which take advantage of the weaknesses of the enemy team and avoid picking Heroes who are already countered by previous enemy picks. If the enemy team is high on Spell Armor focus on Auto Attack Heroes. If they are high on Spell Damage Heroes don’t pick a tank whose strength is Physical Armor.
Good luck and good damage! For you tank players out there, good luck and good mitigation!
*Since this article was written Blizzard has released a blog post discussing the Armor System in more detail, which you can find here.