Ion alluded to some of this in his post last week
, but essentially the goal here is to address what we believe to be the core of the issue with the 7.0 final traits: the large gap in player power it created between players who spent a lot of time farming AP and those who spent their time on other endeavors. To that end, there's four key changes:
#1: The individual ranks are less impactful. This was honestly one of the biggest issues with the 7.0 design. Grinding out a couple million Artifact Power for a 0.5% raw damage increase was just too lucrative compared to other methods of endgame progression - even eclipsing gear for some players. The goal for the new 7.2 design is that the next rank is still an increase, and you won't turn it down, but it's not your primary focus.
#2: The rate at which the cost for the next rank increases is higher. In the 7.0 design, someone who farmed twice as much AP as you had roughly twice as many ranks as you. While rewarding the extra effort isn't a bad thing, it doesn't need to be nearly that rewarding. By making each rank's cost increase exponentially, we can help ensure that you're never too far behind even if you aren't spending as much time farming AP. It also means that, as Artifact Knowledge increases, it'll be easier for alts or newer players to catch up.
As a quick aside, to put some extra context on both of those changes: we always want Artifact Power to be of at least some value to you. It's fine to reach a point where you're not going out of your way to earn it, but it's purpose is to be a fairly reliable form of progression. If you spend an evening raiding, or run a few dungeons, or do some PvP, but don't get any gear upgrades, you should still be able to say "at least I earned some Artifact Power" with some level of satisfaction.
Anyway, key change #3: The new trait gives a primary stat bonus instead of a percentage-based increase. With the 7.0 design, as your gear improved, so did the total benefit you were getting from your final trait. Changing to a primary stat bonus means it's giving roughly the same benefit to someone at ilevel 900 as it does to someone at 850. Again, the goal here is to reduce the overall power gap.
And finally, #4: It's a proc. I know anything that involves RNG is often controversial, but this is, in my opinion, a great example of where it's extremely useful. This is for two reasons.
First, it kind of muddies the waters a bit. When you wipe on a boss at 1%, or just barely miss a kill window, it can be easy to say "if Todd was doing 2% more damage we'd have won." But when it's a proc, you can't actually be that sure. Maybe Todd needs more AP, or maybe he just got unlucky with procs. Maybe the wipe wasn't Todd's fault at all. Maybe you should be a little nicer to Todd.
Second (and more importantly), it allows for player skill to play more of a factor. If you're the sort of player who can pay attention to procs and adjust your rotation on the fly (say, a healer who chooses to use cheaper spells while it's active, or a damage-dealer who saves a charge of their hardest-hitting ability), you're going to get more value out of the new trait than someone who ignores it.
I've seen some initial feedback that indicates some specs are likely to benefit from these more than others - to some degree that's expected, but specific feedback on which specs those are and why is very helpful. We're still actively tuning and tweaking things, so please keep that feedback coming.